Jesonian… June 3rd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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This week, one of my sons will celebrate his birthday. He is the pastor of a church. Like most children, he has grown up to be his own man and sometimes listens to my counsel, but many times opts to pursue different voices.

It is the way of our tribe.

But as I considered his birthday, I realized that he does not require a new shirt, pants, tennis shoes or a subscription to “Boys Life.” He has the ability to get all of those things on his own.

What he needs from me is what I have always given him–an honest report. So as a gift to my son, and maybe even a piece of usable information for you, I present the “Seven Practices of a Good Shepherd.”

I use Jesus as my example. If you’re going to be a Good Shepherd–a pastor or leader of human souls:

1. Don’t mess, interfere, refer to, question or condemn anyone’s sex life.

When a crowd of people tried to get Jesus to discuss adultery, he turned away, stooped down and fiddled in the dirt as if he never heard them.

2. Stop trying to make friends.

You’ve been called to make disciples. That is the root word for discipline. As a shepherd, your journey will be to guide people in the direction of their better possibility. Sometimes they will be grateful; sometimes they will be temporarily offended. But they must always know that your heart is to see them “grow to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ.”

3. No preaching, a little teaching, tell stories, make it visual.

Jesus never preached a sermon. He took time to teach his disciples. He told stories to the masses. But most importantly, he gave visual evidence of the power of his word by transforming lives.

4. Family is not everything.

Although we seem trapped in an overly sympathetic mood toward those who share our DNA, Jesus was faithful to his kin until his kin refused to be faithful to his mission. When his family thought he was crazy for preaching the Gospel, he walked away from them until they could grow up.

5. Touch the heart, stir the soul, renew the mind, strengthen the weak.

If you’re not emotionally connecting with people, you can never stir their souls. Therefore their minds will remain concrete, and they will be weakened by their own lack of maturity.

6. Respect free will.

Although you may be tempted to tell people that God has a wonderful plan for their life, the truth of the matter is, God has a wonderful life for their plan. There’s only one thing greater than love–that’s free will.

Even though God loved the world, when the world did not love Jesus, he granted free will to them to make their own decision. From that poor choice–to crucify–He granted them salvation through Jesus’ blood.

If God gives free will, a Good Shepherd can never take it away. So when people decide not to like you, honor their decision.

7. Religion kills.

If you don’t know what religion is, it can be defined simply as a belief in some sort of plan to reach God.

God does not need to be reached. He has done all the reaching. God needs to be acknowledged. God needs to be included. There is no magical plan of salvation. Salvation is when we finally grow permanently comfortable with the fact that God loves us.

So there’s my gift to my son, which I hope you may find of interest also.

I shall tell him that this is his birthday present from his dad, and I hope he likes it … because I didn’t keep the receipt.

 

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G-Poppers … May 5th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Old people don’t like to change.

Perhaps better stated, older folks think they’ve done all the changing they need to do.

It fascinates G-Pop that we spend so much time trying to appease the tastes, mentality and standards of individuals who have basically retired their dispositions, and use much of their gray matter considering longevity.

Perhaps it’s the fact that once we’re given our first prescription for high blood pressure and cholesterol, we are forever lost to discussing our treatments. Is it because older folks accumulated all the savings bonds and property, and seem to be in power?

The wealth of our nation actually lies in the elasticity of young minds–the flexibility of those who have not yet determined what color they would like their den to be painted.

It’s why Jesus said that the message of the Gospel is geared to the child-like mind, and only those who are willing to acquire such thinking can truly comprehend it. It is also why Jesus said you can’t put new wine into old wineskins. When the fermentation produces expansion, the old skins literally explode.

Yet children are relegated to a status of property, propaganda and proof of our prowess and parenting. So we ask:

  • What are your grades?
  • What do you like about school?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • What do you think of your teachers?

We trap our offspring into a prison of education and tell them not to contact us until they’ve graduated reformed. So they mimic us. It’s what they’re taught to do.

So rather than having a cultural and social revolution with every generation, causing us to grow in intelligence and openness to one another, we implant the prejudice and bigotry of the former generation firmly into the minds of those who are haplessly controlled by us because they live in our homes and feast at our tables.

We’re missing an opportunity. And because we’re ignoring it, we are condemning ourselves to more wars in the same areas of the world–just with new names.

Teach your children. Teach them well.

Otherwise they’ll end up with their father’s hell.

And here’s what G-Pop thinks we should teach them:

1. Love people.

There is no better species due to arrive. You can live with the monkeys or dine with the lions, but you will eventually find that their habits are even worse than your brothers and sisters living next door. People are the best that God offers us. If you’re upset about it, contact the Creator. He has not made a more magnificent contraption, and there is no sign that He’s upgrading the model. Love people or die complaining.

2. Respect people.

Get rid of your color charts. Get rid of your expectations. Keep your moral code to yourself. If you have a plan of salvation, enjoy it, but don’t force feed it to anyone else. Every human being is given three square feet of influence, and once you step out of your own, realize you are trespassing. Don’t be surprised if you get shot.

3. Work with people.

Working with people is easy. You listen, then you try. Just make sure that the trying is a test and not selling out completely. In other words, if you’re going to dye a piece of cloth, it’s a good idea to cut off a small unit and try the dye on it first, to see how it takes. As long as we’re willing to be wrong, working with people can be quite fun. But when we insist that we “have to be right” because we’re invested in the project and therefore need to make excuses for the failure–then we become obnoxious paper clip counters.

It’s rather doubtful that you can take anyone over the age of forty-five on a journey to love people, respect people and work with people.

Pick your target market. It will be the children of the Earth who still don’t have enough assets to sit on their asses.

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Ask Jonathots… September 1st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I have a friend who is not a believer. He loves people, is kind-hearted and generous. In other words he acts like a believer who follows Jesus. How can I convince him that Jesus is the way? P.S. I have done my best to “shine my light” before him, but he doesn’t seem to budge.

I assume you’re talking about the standard Plan of Salvation:

God sent His son in the body of Jesus of Nazareth to come to Earth to give himself as a human sacrifice for the sin of mankind, so that if anyone accepts him as Savior, they can be redeemed and guaranteed a home in heaven.

I will tell you that if your aspiration is to see your friend follow this step-by-step procedure to attain eternal security, you probably will be greatly disappointed. The amount of anger, disaster or devastation that comes into one’s life before reaching the “end of the rope” that is required to comply with this particular enacting of salvation is not very common–and not something you would actually wish on your worst enemy.

So let me offer you a different insight.

Your friend has the power of knowing where the switch is, to turn on the lights. That’s pretty special. What he doesn’t have is the awareness of how that light works or what to do if the switch is broken.

Once we understand that God is not only our Father, but is the Creator of Earth, and therefore the Initiator of science, technology, atmosphere and logic, we have a much better comprehension of the mission of Jesus.

Jesus basically grants human beings two things they do not have without him:

  1. Don’t worry about life.
  2. Don’t worry about eternity.

He made it clear that we should not sit around “taking thought” about what we shall eat, drink and wear because it is all built into God’s system if we keep our eyes open and pursue opportunities.

And Jesus made it equally understandable that eternity was prepared for us, and that he would be there to meet us.

The rest of the Gospel is merely explaining how the juice gets to the lightbulb–so just in case our light switch stops working, we can ask the “Master Electrician” to join us in reconnecting.

Is there truth to the Plan of Salvation about a human sacrifice?

When mankind was given the freewill choice of accepting the teachings of Jesus, and rejected, murdering him, God chose to use it as a means of forgiving us for our shortcomings.

Pretty powerful.

So what should your profile be? Make sure that your friend is fully aware that the Creator is also the scientist, philosopher, musician, technologist and free thinker that he requires in his everyday life.

Remember, Jesus wanted to be known for his words.

The religious system honors him for his blood.

But the average person is not nearly as intent on finding a sacrificial lamb as in discovering someone who can understand and show compassion.

Case in point:

When Zacchaeus gave his money back to those he had cheated on taxes, Jesus said, “Salvation has come to your house.”

Zacchaeus didn’t confess, he wasn’t baptized and Jesus had not yet died. But salvation was there because Zacchaeus welcomed the wisdom of awareness and mercy for others.

Stop being in a hurry to get your friend to sign on the dotted line, and instead, give him more “lines” of appreciation to his Creator.

 

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The Story Goes On… July 14, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Daniel in the lion's denI was having trouble dealing with the stories: Jonah and the whale, Daniel in the lion’s den–even Jesus walking on the water.Three little pigs

So when I was fifteen years old, for a season I embraced agnosticism.

It was pretty easy. For after all, I never believed in religion. Church was tolerable. I had a curiosity about God.

But overall, the religious system asked me to swallow things without question, never realizing how they might affect me.

It was just too much.

Now I know there are those who would like to believe that departing from the church leads to all sorts of depravity. But I did not become a drug addict. I did not start mistreating my dog. I didn’t develop a pornography addiction.

Moses and the Red SeaActually, I rather enjoyed sleeping in on Sunday mornings, and took the extra time to audition for a play, and won the lead role.Little Red Riding Hood

I was happy.

I made new friends, since my Christian ones turned their backs on me. I joined with these acquaintances to discuss intellectual matters and expound on the problems in our society. I felt like a budding genius. It was like I was on a Mt. Olympus of knowledge, looking down on the world around me, trying to find a way I could assist the mere mortals below.

It was intoxicating.

In a strange sense of speaking, it was a religious experience. Yes, there is a religiosity to atheism. It was the comforting sense that I was self-contained. I needed nothing else.

Everything seemed really positive except for one factor. As time went on, the conversations I had with my new comrades became more bitter and nasty. After a while, we judged those who were not part of our confluence to be inferior–ignorant, if you will.

So one day it occurred to me that this new “religion” I had taken on had the same viciousness and prejudice as the one I had walked away from. There was still a plan of salvation, in the sense that you had to reject anything that might even hint toward the supernatural. There were sermons, as we disemboweled the character of those individuals who dared to disagree with us.

So finally, one night lying on my bed, I realized that the true story was not confined to the sixty-six books of the holy scripture. The story is actually compacted into the message that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

For even though I hated religion, had grown weary of church and felt like I could do without God, I had no idea, in my agnosticism, what to do with people. They seemed cumbersome. They were in the way.

Because as noble as it may sound to give freedom to everyone, when you have eight billion freedom-headers crashing into one another, it’s quite a headache.

My new-found lack of faith caused me to be irritated with the very creatures with whom I shared a species.

We need the story.

Maybe we don’t need all the stories that have been collected and called divine within the volume, but we do need The story:

  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Give and it shall be given unto you.
  • Go the second mile.
  • You are the salt of the earth
  • Love your enemies

Without this narrative, we learn to hate religion, disdain the church, ignore God, and unfortunately, also end up disliking one another.

I went back to church.

I don’t agree with everything that happens there, and when I don’t, I question it. I rail against religion because it is a man-made infestation, formed to cripple the creativity of humankind.

I maintain a curiosity about God, though none of us know what happens a hundred and twenty seconds after we die.

But I believe in people.

I consider it to be the sign of spiritual energy–when the love we have for one another becomes the symbol of our devotion to God.

The story goes on. The story needs to be told.

Because without the story… we become discouraged in our own lack of appreciation for one another.

 

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