G-Poppers … April 6th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“GEE-WHIZ,” said G-Pop with an emphatic sigh.

There seems to be a series of “G” words tumbling off of people’s lips, going a bit haywire.

It starts with “GOD.”

G-Pop sat back last week and watched the more ceremonial, Druid aspects of the Christian faith take over in an attempt to temporarily get us to believe in a God who manipulates circumstances, destroys lives and “tunes” fate to produce human sacrifice, which is supposed to be an atonement for our horrific sins. The New Testament refers to Him as “God the Father,” but apparently, for a brief period, Daddy became “God the Executioner,” who went against His own abhorrence for animal sacrifice and laid a big, fat, bloody, smeary death on Jesus of Nazareth.

Then there’s “GAY.”

G-Pop wants the gay community to have all the rights, privileges and benefits as beautiful American citizens. But is it necessary for everything to suddenly be gay? There’s a sniff in the air that we should all become a little gay ourselves, to confirm that we’re open-minded enough to accept the full alphabet of the gay community, which grows by a consonant every day. LGBTQ(RSUV).

“GUNS.”

Is there anything that we, as human beings, own and admire and do not eventually use? G-Pop has been around guns in his life, and every time he did so, he wanted to shoot one. We shouldn’t be questioning whether people should have guns–but it might be good to ask what they plan on doing with them. Because guns may not kill people, but bullets do, and it is very difficult to own a gun without eventually wanting to put a bullet in it and find out how it works.

“GREED.”

G-Pop wonders if the only way to make America great again is money. Is it possible that we could be great in compassion? Was Ronald Reagan correct when he envisioned us as a city set on a hill, to be a beacon-light to the world? Or should we just present our P&L statement at the end of the year, and as long as we’re in the black, “God is good.”

“GRUMBLING.”

When did we start believing that something we despise in other people–complaining–is permissible for us to do? If you don’t want to hear G-Pop spout his grievances, then please don’t establish a lifestyle of grumbling, thinking it makes you sound grown-up, mature and thoughtful.

And finally, “GOODNESS.”

When did goodness become a joke–something to be avoided because it is naive and doesn’t understand how life really functions?

Gee-whiz. G-Pop would like to sum it up:

God is a Father, not a murderer.

Welcome, gays, to America, where you are free to love whomever you want to.

I hope you will enjoy your gun, as long as you help me keep them out of the hands of people who are bent on killing.

Would you consider joining G-Pop in being greedy for generosity?

And while you’re at it, can you set aside your grumbling and take five minutes to see if you can’t balance it with your blessings?

And finally, why don’t each and every one of us make “Oh, my goodness” a reality instead of an exclamation of bewilderment?

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Jesonian … March 3rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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The Gospel writers had a really stiff drink to mix to stir together all the ingredients to write the cocktail of the life of Jesus.

First and foremost, let me tell you as a writer, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are not books. They are long short stories–an oxymoron. The number of words in each Gospel is about the same as a big short story.

So with an economy of words and phrases, these gentlemen set out to capsulize what is arguably the most interesting life ever lived. On top of that, they had the problem of being infested with some agendas of their own. Each one of them was intent on convincing the reader that Jesus was Messiah/Anointed One/Christ/Son of God.

They were also pretty pissed off with the Jewish leaders. This is reflected in many references. And they certainly wanted to compete with each other in the retelling of the resurrection.

I offer this preface because in a good overview of their works, there are only a few times that each of them include the same stories.

  • Crucifixion
  • Resurrection
  • Feeding of the five thousand

These are in all four Gospels. And in Matthew, Mark and Luke–the Synoptic Gospels–one other particular story is included by this trio of authors.

It seems to be a rather insignificant tale–matter of fact, I doubt if it makes its way into many sermons. But it was very important to Matthew, Mark and Luke.

On a Sabbath, the disciples were walking through a field of wheat and picked some of it because they were hungry. The story-tellers are clear that the disciples take the kernels and grind them in their hands to “get the good stuff to eat.”

The significance? According to the Pharisees, it was permissible to pick the wheat but you couldn’t grind it in your hand and eat it–not on the Sabbath. That was work. Therefore, if you were hungry, you would have to take the wheat home and wait until the next day to eat.

It is the travesty of the religious mind–to manufacture a God who is so displeased with us that He demands we function in uncomfortable contortions to receive His favor.

In this story, the Pharisees complain to Jesus.

Now, Jesus is not a diplomat. He is not determined to offend the Pharisees, but every time he did, refused to pull back from his position.

He told these fellows that King David ate the shewbread that was reserved for holy days and for the priests. His army was hungry. No one died.

Jesus explained that the Sabbath was a time to do good and not evil. It was an occasion to fulfill mankind’s needs instead of heaping heavy burdens on them.

Knowing that the Pharisees would be quite unwilling to criticize King David, he offered this argument while simultaneously insisting the his disciples should be granted the full measure and respect that David deserved.

Then, in the story, Jesus tells the Pharisees that they should learn mercy and not sacrifice–otherwise they will spend their whole lives attacking innocent people.

And if that wasn’t enough to fully flummox these religious leaders, he closed off by saying, And by the way, “I am the Lord of the Sabbath.”

This story was important to Matthew, Mark and Luke. It sniffed of their Master. It smelled like Jesus.

For they experienced and knew that Jesus was a champion for the human race and would not tolerate anyone attacking people, especially if it were being done in the name of God.

Damn it to hell, you don’t pick wheat and then not eat it. It is illogical, irrelevant, irreverent and inhuman. Jesus didn’t come to turn human beings into gods.

Jesus was the personification of God turning himself into a human being.

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Jesonian: Lukey 13 … February 17th, 2018

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I gave this essay a title.

I don’t very often–but since I planned to refer to the Good Book in Luke the 13th Chapter, I decided to get cute: “Lukey 13.”

Very simply, this is where Jesus explains how the planet functions, progresses and purifies.

The explanation was required because the folks who surrounded Jesus of Nazareth were caught up in politics and blamed the government for all the ills that came their way. This spilled over into their conversation with the “carpenter-turned-preacher.”

They wanted to get his opinion on an event. Pontius Pilate, the governor, had killed a group of people who came to a religious service to offer sacrifice, and were brutally attacked by the Roman Legions–murdered during their ceremony.

The people dramatically cited to Jesus that “the blood of the victims was mingled with the sacrifices.”

They failed to say that the Romans knew these folks to be Zealots, viewing them as terrorists who raided the army and killed infantrymen.

(There are always two sides to a story, usually with neither one being the truth.)

The people wanted Jesus to be enraged. They wanted Jesus to be a nationalist. They wanted Jesus to be a Zionist. He astounds them.

He replies, If you won’t change, you’re next. (The actual wording was, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”)

He asked them if they thought the Galileans who were killed were bad people because it happened to them. He asked if a tower which had recently fallen on innocent folks was punishment for their sins, once again closing with, if you don’t change, you’re next.

What is his message? First, it is impossible to comprehend the ministry of Jesus without realizing that he came to bring understanding to the Natural Order instead of having people believe in mysterious protections from a Supernatural Border.

The Jews thought as long as they were Jews, God should take care of them. They felt no responsibility to the world around them, referring to people who were not Sons of Abraham as “heathens.” They became targets for cultures which were stronger in military might, and in no mood to be called “dogs.”

In a parable, Jesus explains the nature of Nature. He also outlines the nurture of the Father:

You cannot get God’s grace if you do not honor Nature’s place.

Jesus tells a story about a tree. It had leaves, bark and roots. No fruit. This tree was deemed by those in charge to be worthless, and was marked to be cut down.

Consider: although God loves me, He wants me to understand that since I live on Planet Earth, I have to follow the rules of the trees. I am not allowed to take up space, suck out nutrients and just sprout leaves. I am expected to bear fruit.

What is fruit? What defines fruit? “I am trying to improve my life, therefore understand why you are attempting to do the same.”

That’s fruit.

Nature wants to get rid of anything that is not fruitful. Some people might even say that Nature is prepared to get rid of Earth, because its inhabitants are no longer respectful of the system.

Yet let’s talk about you and me. There is a Natural Order and a Supernatural Border. It is impossible to come under the grace of God if you’re not submissive to Earth. And on those occasions when you find yourself erring, and in danger of being eliminated because of your mistake, you will need the Supernatural Border.

There is only one way to get under the protection of God’s mercy: humility.

Yes. Be the first one on your block to know you’ve done something stupid. Repent of it before anyone else even knows you did it, and dip your head in respect to Mother Nature as a way of honoring Father God. When God sees this, He comes to Mother Nature and He says, “Dig and dung.” In other words, let’s not eliminate this person yet. Let’s give him or her a chance. Fertilize with dung.

To put this process in a lexicon we better understand: to gain God’s help, you must humbly admit your weakness and allow Him to send some shit your way so you can grow.

If you’re convinced it’s not your fault, and you reject the shit, get ready for the buzzsaw.

If you’re going to be oblivious, be prepared to be the next one eliminated. But if you honor Nature and the order of things and realize that it’s not the government’s fault–there is no massive plan against spirituality, but rather, misdirection on your own part, which needs to be humbly corrected–then God has the ability to extend His grace, to help you establish your change.

It is a powerful passage. It is our “Lukey 13.”

And if we comprehend its meaning, we have an earthly advantage over the religious fanatics who believe God owes them something, and also the secular world, which contends it can out-muscle the competition.

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Good News and Better News… November 20th, 2017

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As we drove to our weekend gig, we crossed Tampa Bay, and Janet was able to quickly snap a fuzzy picture of a fish jumping out of the water.

A moment in time.

The truth is, in the climate of our present social insurrection, human souls everywhere are attempting to leap out of the murky waters of despair. It just isn’t very fun…being unhappy. Even when other folks around you insist that they,too, are miserable, that particular form of fellowship is quite unfulfilling.

The problem is, we think the Bible has all the answers, and if we pass it along to lost souls, they will be able to find their way to salvation.

It’s similar to being hired by a corporation and having the rule book passed to you, thinking that the regulations which have been jotted down should be able to guide you through the daily activities of your workplace.

Everybody knows the company manual has nothing to do with the success of enjoying your job. It’s all about your manager and how he or she uses the rules to generate a friendly, human, creative environment.

Here’s a simple statement: Christianity is just a bag full of beliefs until we come along and agree together on a philosophical approach and implement the
ideas.

So you see, I placed in today’s article a picture of an empty church. I think that’s where we need to start.

Our churches may not be full of people, but they are full of religion, practices, traditions, and preferred culture. Most of this has nothing to do with the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus.

We would do better to imagine our churches empty–and start from scratch to build an environment of people who are accepting, understanding, filled with good cheer and ready for both evolution and revolution.

The fish are jumpin’–but there’s no one there to catch ’em.

We’re too busy maintaining our traditions and our worship style. We want people to become “church folks”–so they have to accept the culture to fit in.

It is time for the church to ‘manage’ itself better, and create an atmosphere which I shall dub “compassionate chaos”–where mercy is revered much more than sacrifice.

The good news is that Jesus gave us a lifestyle, not a religion.

The better news is, if we will empty our church of too many pre-conceived religious practices, we can fill it with actual living human beings.

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 6)… August 5th, 2017

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jesonian-cover-amazon

It is troubling.

Yet I must profess to you that no one has greater joy and regard for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross than I do. It is my salvation and it rattles my consciousness to a sensibility of my own sinful nature and the grace of God.

That being said, I fear that the church has become “atone-deaf.”

Nearly desperate to land on a universal message for Christianity which can be compactly shared at a moment’s notice, we have placed too much attention on a hill called Golgotha, and not nearly enough tender loving care with a Sermon shared from a Mount. In doing this, we have contradicted things we know about the nature of God in order to fulfill the doctrine of the propitiation of sin.

For instance, God ordained free will for humans. Yet we’re led to believe that “from the foundations of the world” it was pre-destined that Jesus would be killed on a cross.

When God spoke through the Old Testament prophets, He declared that He wanted mercy, not sacrifice. Yet for some reason we decide that He changed His mind and adopted human sacrifice as the symbol of His covenant.

As a writer, the first thing you learn is to be faithful to your characters. You can’t manipulate the plotline by causing your character to do something completely beyond the scope of his or her nature, just so you can advance your story.

God gave us free will. We chose to kill Jesus.

God hates sacrifice. He took the death of Jesus and transformed it into our salvation.

What was meant for evil, He made good.

Atonement should be a central theme in the Christian message. It is powerful. It is priceless. But by no means should it be preached so loudly that it makes us deaf to the greater matters of the kingdom–tenderness, responsibility, excellence, consolation and tolerance.

What can we do to keep the death of Jesus in perspective?

I have always received the gift of Calvary as my salvation and a license for me to go out and salvage. How? First, deal with my own appetites and also multiply my talents. Once I become the salvager–the “light of the world” and “the salt of the earth”–I have the ability to transfuse the energy of salvation, pass it along to others and see them reborn.

The conclusion? As a saved soul who has become salvaged and a saver, I fulfill the purpose of me being rescued.

We’ve got to start listening again. We have to stop trying to fulfill denominational doctrine and instead, emphasize the character of God.

Jesus lived for thirty-three years to give the human race a chance to accept his message. He used stories; he used confrontation. He used healing; he used mercy.

And at the end of it all, we used crucifixion.

God, in His infinite grace, chose to take the blood that we shed and make it a symbol of our salvation rather than a further curse of our rebellion. It’s remarkable.

But if we want to find the heart of Jesus, it is not at Calvary.

It is in the words, deeds, actions and anointing of his life.

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Ask Jonathots… September 1st, 2016

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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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Good News and Better News … July 4th, 2016

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Good News Effort 1He was Saul of Tarsus, who after a dramatic Damascan conversion, began to travel the ancient empire under the stage name, Paul the Apostle.

He once said, “By grace you are saved through faith.”

Little did he know that this quote would become one of his greatest hits. Matter of fact, the doctrine of grace, which emerged from this statement, is preached every Sunday.

The validity of the statement is powerful. The salvation of our souls is a free gift from God through the love, mercy and sacrifice of Jesus. It blooms the potential of eternal life. But it doesn’t tell us what we’re supposed to do with our emotions, brains and bodies through this process called human life.

Because those who live on grace, hoping it will cover a multitude of their annoying practices, do very little to promote the expanse of the Christian message.

This came to me yesterday when I arrived at the Effort United Methodist Church near the Poconos in Pennsylvania.Good News Effort 2

Effort.

What a great word.

It is ridiculous to think that Jesus took the time to preach the Sermon on the Mount about character, bearing fruit, loving your neighbor, avoiding hypocrisy, channeling your lust and respecting the planet if he wanted us to merely lounge on the cushion of grace.

Belief in Jesus does give you salvation, but to live on Planet Earth, we require sanity. Sanity is achieved by accepting the Gospel of Jesus to free us from fret, worry, pride, prejudice, anger and fear. It simplifies our emotions so that our minds can be renewed and we can gain strength.

Religion does not grant us this peace.

Religion wants to give comfort to the convert and condemnation to the world.

It’s when we take grace and blend it with effort that we meld the alloy of faith–certainly trust in God, but also reliance on “Christ in me, the hope of glory.”

In the long run, there are two salvations–there is the salvation that is a free gift of God through acceptance of Jesus.

Good News Effort 3And there is a salvation which each one of us, individually, “works out with fear and trembling” as we journey, simplifying our lives with joy and understanding.

I had a monumental time yesterday with the folks in Effort.

They did put up an effort.

They showed up on July 4th weekend, when they could have gotten by with “pew hookey.”

They listened to this stranger expose new ideas about abundant life.

And they allowed themselves to be impacted rather than insisting that grace eliminates any need to learn.

The good news is that we are saved by grace through faith.

But the better news is that we save our sanity by taking the beautiful Gospel of Jesus and putting some Effort into it.

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