Jesonian… May 13th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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 Their minds and hearts drift back so readily to Galilee–to friends, family, loved ones and labors of love.

For the traveling is exhausting and drains the passion of purpose. Going from town to town, the folks they encounter are able to treat them as strangers, leaping to establish tribal superiority and regional domination. So there’s always a little bit of loneliness creeping into the corners of swelling doubt.

It threatens to extinguish the desire to speak peace to the perishing.

Each night they gather by the fire at the end of the day. Yes, devoted. But devoid of energetic will, not wanting to be too close to me.

After all, I am the teacher.

I am the messenger.

I am the reason, beckoning them from their safe memories of normalcy.

So in deference to their need for privacy, I excuse myself from the common fellowship. They require an opportunity to reminisce together, question their calling without condemnation, and whisper wishes across the embers.

I have a place I go.

After all, I have my own memories of childhood.

I, too, have a family that misunderstands my meaning. In that private space, I speak to God. He’s a good listener. Honestly, He doesn’t often contribute or elaborate, but in His own way, He helps me to clear my thoughts.

By the time I return, my brethren are asleep. I try to do so myself. Morning will soon be here.

Another day of wandering.

Another chance to fail.

And oh, yes–another opportunity to see the world born again.

 

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James, More or Less… November 9, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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There were two of them.james the less

At least that’s what the Good Book shares.

Out of twelve disciples, two of them ended up being named James. Over the passage of time, to distinguish between the fellows, one gained the title of James the Greater and the other, James the Less. It’s something we just accept–that is, unless you were the James named the Less.

I suppose it would be a little frustrating to pass the muster of graduating from being one of the five thousand that Jesus fed to being one of the seventy he sent out, to finally be honored by receiving the accolade of achieving the top twelve, only to be referred to as “James the Less.”

Such is life. Sometimes you get to be more and most of the time, you get to be less. The trick is finding out how to be the same person with the same values and the same passion no matter which title is temporarily bestowed upon you.

Something we rarely consider is that Jesus, the ultimate, cool “fair” guy, did bestow more significance on three of his disciples, more than the other nine. Whenever he went on a secret mission, he took Peter, James and John, leaving James the Less and his other eight buddies behind. What was that like? (Matter of fact, it’s a little surprising that only one of the disciples decided to betray him, considering human nature…)

I’m sure there was grumbling. We know they were especially upset when the two “fishing brothers,” James and John, campaigned to become the favored two: “Let us sit on your right and left hand when you come into your kingdom…”

That was their request.

So how DOES it work? What can I learn from this as a human being filled with my own concerns, desperately trying to discover a noble thought within? Because I know this–sometimes I get to be James the Greater and sometimes I’m James the Less. Here’s the odd thing–what I do when I’m James the Less is more valuable and important than what I do when I’m James the More.

Truthfully, the popular people in our country, whose names are splashed across the television screen twenty-four hours a day, are completely unable to solve our problems. So what’s the advantage of being famous if you’re a gunky-flunky? On the other hand, although my operation is small, and I’m not nationally known, I’m pretty pleased with the fruit of my labors.

The power of being James the Less is that nobody really wants your position, so you can call your shots with more freedom, and therefore determine your destiny.

When you’re James the Greater, the spotlight’s on you, everybody has an opinion and you are granted less privacy to choose your path. Oh … and did I mention? James the Greater was so popular that Herod Agrippa decided to behead him to gain kudos from the Jews. (Now THERE is a distinct disadvantage to being promoted.)

church of st jamesSo as I go off tomorrow morning to St. James United Methodist Church in Miamisburg, Ohio–a small congregation–I wonder if they can take advantage of being “the Less” without pining to be “the Greater.”

I am curious if they can maneuver themselves into a position of revival instead of following the mediocre philosophy of our generation. I am desirous to uncover their heart–because James the Less lived out a life as one of the twelve without needing to make the “top three.”

That’s me.

And because I have learned to be Jonathan the Less and do the best I can, making my own decisions through my faith, I have been granted great opportunities, and by the way … haven’t lost my head.

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Happy Feathers Day … June 15, 2012

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No, it’s not a misprint. The word IS feathers.

For after all, there has to be something more involved in fatherhood than just being present for conception and providing room and board for your chickadees. Actually, the job is to encourage the foundation and growth of good human beings. So every year when this Father’s Day holiday comes along, I like to take a look at where my family is in the context of what I deem to be important, and what I believe to be universally applicable.

Your children can be like “feathers in your cap.” They are a confirmation of your efforts, and proof-positive that you actually showed up for the job, punched the clock and did an excellent day’s work before heading home.

I’m going to give you a list of ten things that I ask about my children each year, to evaluate how many feathers I feel I can put in my own cap concerning my humble efforts with my offspring. They are more or less questions which I carefully evaluate to note progress, or on occasion, some back-sliding.

1. Do my children respect other people’s rights to privacy and choice? (Prejudice is not part of DNA. It is force-fed to children who have no other information but what they hear.)

2. Does my offspring honor excellence and challenge mediocrity? (Making excuses for poor work is the first step to lying, which is the path to all iniquity.)

3. Can they laugh at themselves? (We are living in a generation that can mock but has little ability to be meek about their own weaknesses.)

4. Do they watch AND pray? (It’s what Jesus told us to do. Don’t just piously recite prayers, but also watch and be attentive to your own life and how to make things better.)

5. Do my children believe in the family of man? (There’s a great danger in our times of becoming overly focused on our immediate genealogy, ignoring the greater fellowship in the world around us.)

6. Do they receive the truth? (The truth is always a shock if you don’t constantly remind yourself that your opinion probably needs additional input.)

7. Do they enjoy the world but also recognize when it has gone crazy and make a stand? (It’s very important to be congenial, but not a pushover when things have gone awry and principles need to be honored.)

8. Can they make a stand for what they hold true? (Often peacefulness and cowardice can be the same action if we are willing to sacrifice the power of what is proving to work in our lives.)

9. Do they know that the kingdom of God is within them? (All religion is an attempt to break down our personal responsibility to a few exercises of worship instead of using our lives as a vehicle for creating peace.)

10. Are they creative? (The true test of creativity is to have the sensibility to stop and listen when frustration is trying to make you repeat bad habits.)

So there you go. Those are the ten “feathers in my cap,” available to me if I discover each and every year that my children have continued to pursue the good path on which I tried to place them. Of course, along the way, they pick up excellent ideas of their own. That’s how the generations move forward instead of backwards.

Honestly, each and every year, the tally is a little different. Each and every child scores uniquely. I don’t judge them by this test, but rather, evaluate whether our particular rendition of humanity is blessing the planet or merely inhabiting it.

But always keep in mind, if some of these ideas were never transfused into your children when they were growing up, you still have the power–through repentance–to set a new example, even at a distance. I want my children to see that Dad wasn’t always right, but that Dad is still moving to find out what is.

So–Happy Feathers Day! Because the feather we can stick in our cap is knowing that we have unleashed on the world folks who have come through our household who are not lethal to others … and might just be ready to offer abundant life.

   

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