Sit Down Comedy … August 2nd, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Hurling insults.

It may be the only exercise that many folks are getting.

We’ve become very concerned about being offended, yet are we becoming more offensive ourselves?

An interesting question.

One of the favorite insults is accusing one another of being racist. I think we must understand the path of intolerance. It begins with”

Prejudice

“I have an idea that I hold to be true.”

Opinion

“That idea has become my foundational thought.”

Bigotry

“I believe my idea is so good that I am prepared, willing and in the midst of sharing it with others.”

Racist

“I am convinced that my idea is supported by both nature and God, and therefore means that I must enforce it, alienating some group of people.”

As you see, it’s not easy to be a racist—and no one who is truly a racist is ashamed to admit it. They are loud and proud.

I think what each one of us needs to do instead of hurling insults is take a look at where prejudice tries to wiggle its way into our lives.

There are four encounters which give us the opportunity to use our speech in different ways if we so choose—or arrive at a unity of one voice.

First there’s Platter Chatter

These are the conversations we have with friends and family over dinner or during fellowship.

Next, the Pew View

These are the scriptures, sermons and ideas promoted by our particular religious organization.

Third is the Work Week Speak

I’m referring to the “around the cooler talk,” which sometimes is not cooler. It can actually be hotter.

And finally, the Walk Talk

This is a social environment with people we do not know, so we must be cautious in sharing our ideas and beliefs in front of them.

Is your conversation more prejudiced during Platter Chatter with your family? Does your church have a view of lifestyles that disincludes some people from salvation based on their choices? How about the bigoted jokes spoken at work? Can you refrain from laughing loudly, and in so doing communicate your disdain? Or must you object? And what is the profile of your interchanges around strangers?

In trying to figure out the amount of racism you have in your life, you have to concentrate on whether bigotry has found a home inside you—whether somehow or another you’ve formed your own personal opinion based upon a prejudice that has lingered in your mind.

So ask yourself:

Is your Platter Chatter, Pew View, Work Week Speak and Walk Talk all the same? Or do you allow a little more opinion, prejudice and maybe even bigotry to appear in certain environments, which you don’t permit in others?

It’s a great way to analyze your situation, and it also makes you a bit more cautious about slinging the term “racist” around.

It’s something to ponder.

Of course, there always is the choice of going for a long walk instead of hurling insults.

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The H Word … March 26th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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THE

Image result for gif letter h

WORD


“Go to Hell”

Even folks who are very particular about using profanity will often favor this pronouncement. Matter of fact, they believe it to be their Christian duty to warn lost sinners, deviants and the depraved that there is a “devil’s hell.” And if these unfortunate and misguided souls do not decide to comply to the common appeal of salvation, they will certainly spend all of eternity suffering within the confines of this dungeon of torture and despair.

Hell is a hell of an idea. What’s even more surprising is who ended up being one of the greater promoters of the location.

Yes—Jesus probably talked about hell more than any other religious teacher who ever walked the face of the Earth.

The Old Testament doesn’t have many references to such a place, and really relegates it to one single word: Sheol—meaning “grave.”

It was Jesus who came up with the lake of fire, outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth, and the bizarre inclusion of this city ablaze being eternal.

Even if you are able to affix your mind on the possibility of there being an afterlife where those who are evil are sent to receive their retribution, it hardly seems likely that someone—even if they spent one hundred years on the planet, killing, maiming and leaving their puppy out in the cold in the winter—well, it just seems a bit bizarre to think that person, for a hundred years of evil, should receive an eternity of fire and brimstone.

Yet we kind of like the idea.

It’s not so much the notion that there is a hell, or that some people end up there, but rather, the advantage we gain in our self-righteousness, by imagining who we think should be there and how painfully they should be slapped around for mistreating us.

So I will tell you that even though hell is a promo that came from Jesus—and I am very fond of his work—I do choose to believe that this isolated concept was conjured during his “blue period,” and I do not favor it.

Is it not punishment aplenty for each one of us if we go through life without living?

Is it not agony to take this gift of time and sleepwalk through it without giving?

For that lack of tenderness, foresight and rebellion, there certainly will be a grave conclusion.

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Jesonian … July 28th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Today I’m doing something a little different. I’m sitting here with the Good Book open, peering down at John the 7th Chapter.

I have no intention of trying to impress you with my Bible knowledge nor attempt to turn some passage into a magical expression of salvation.

What I want to share with you is a pattern.

I would like to find an adjective to describe this pattern. Foolish comes to mind. Perhaps dangerous. But certainly repetitive.

The pattern is the ongoing belief in every generation that you can evaluate something by the numbers–“the bottom line.”

Ironically, it was verbalized perfectly over two thousand years ago by the brothers and sisters of Jesus of Nazareth when they critiqued him on his approach to promoting the message he had chosen to share.

Their insights are frightening to read because they are so current to today’s ignorance. They spoke the following to Jesus:

“For there is no man that does anything in secret but instead, wants to be known.”

Have you ever heard that philosophy?

“Promote yourself.”

“Get it out there.”

“Showcase it.”

“Use your tools.”

“Adjust your intensity to the present flow of thinking.”

Amazingly, through the whole 7th Chapter of John, this repeats over and over again. For later on in that same passage, the audiences that come to Jesus muse whether he could be the Messiah, because they’re concerned about where he was born.

Added pressure.

Not only do you need to promote yourself well, but you need a certain look–maybe even a color. How about a culture to back you up?

We have the mistaken idea that Jesus always had great multitudes following him. There were times that people hung around for a while–after all, if you turn water into wine and can take a Happy Meal and make a buffet, you will gain some attention.

But the truth of the matter is, as soon as Jesus started teaching, the crowd thinned, and on one occasion totally disappeared.

For after all, what concerned the average Jew was whether God would send a military man to destroy the Romans and establish the Kingdom of Israel.

On the other hand, Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God, which was within us, and would enable us to get along with everyone, including the Romans.

Conflict.

Yet it is best capsulized in that same chapter in a meeting among the Jewish leaders.

When they sat discussing the phenomenon of Jesus of Nazareth, what finally made them decide he was a joke, a hoax or at least a light-weight was the fact that none of the hierarchy of their religion–those considered intelligent, educated and astute–believed in him.

The premise was, “If you really are somebody, all the “somebodies” will recognize and promote you.”

“If you really are talented, you will be discovered.”

“If you really are bringing a possibility of hope and salvation, eventually you’ll be offered a platform instead of a cross.”

It didn’t work out that way.

Nowadays, I often sit around with my children, explaining to them that success is meaningless. In my lifetime, notorious people, who appeared to be powerful and everlasting, bit the dust and became cautionary tales of stupidity.

You can’t look at the numbers.

If you had lived in 1st century Palestine and looked at the numbers, the popularity, the acceptance, the blending and the support of the people in the know, you would never have found Jesus.

If you want to find out what is going to last, be helpful, truthful and carry the touch of God, do one thing–simply watch and learn.

How resourcefully does he, she or they use the resources?

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Jesonian … June 16th, 2018

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“When are we going to stop all this stuff you’re teaching and go back to who we really are?”

This statement seems to ooze from the twelve disciples throughout Jesus’ entire three-and-a-half year ministry.

They didn’t mind being taught, just as long as they didn’t have to learn.

And they didn’t mind learning sometimes, as long as they didn’t have to apply.

And applying was alright every once in a while, as long as it was a one-time thing that didn’t need to be repeated.

You can look at the disciples as either some of the whiniest men that ever walked the face of the Earth, or be candid and admit that they were typical.

Typical of us all.

Every one of us arrives at the Gospel with too many pre-conceived ideas. No wonder Jesus referred to the experience as being “born again.” Otherwise, we try to join a club that pursues all the traditions we have contrived since our birth.

Why are we going to Samaria?

Why was this man born blind?

Why do you talk so tough to the Pharisees?

Why can’t we divorce women?

Why are we supposed to love our enemies?

Why don’t we kill the Romans and start over again?

Why can’t I be scared in a boat when there’s a storm?

Why are we inviting tax collectors into our really neat band of brothers?

Why can’t we bring down lightning and thunder on the Samaritans?

You see, the Gospel is not just a plan of salvation, it’s also salvation from our plan.

Because without the Gospel, everyone would run hither, thither and yon, starting their own renditions of what Jesus said, coming up with funny-sounding names, and focus on one doctrine over another.

Wait. We’re already doing that.

The greatest gift you can give to yourself is to know that Christianity is a lifestyle, not a religion.

It is not a revolving door, where we enter to worship, and leave to catch the beginning of the football game on Sirius Radio on the way home.

The Gospel is the essence of eternity, functioning on Earth. No other philosophy, no other interaction and no other manifesto ever came along which included God, Nature and people.

Instead, each of these other religions focus on one of these factors. In some religions, God is over-emphasized. Other approaches place too much importance on Nature. And of course, there are philosophies which contend it’s a human situation–i.e., every man for himself.

The Gospel is not going away. It is not going to be replaced or even mingled with provincialism. It took the disciples a long time to understand this.

But if we all join together with good hearts and good cheer, we might be able to shorten the process and get people rejoicing again, with exceeding gladness.

 

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Jesonian … April 28th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“Accept Christ.”

A vast majority of the evangelical churches in America hold this decision sacred. They contend that people must discover their sinful nature, repent, be baptized, and receive Christ as salvation.

So strong is the inclination to evangelize that the fundamentalist church is successful only at birthing children into the Kingdom–and then abandoning them to cultural, lifestyle and family traditions.

Most churches do not talk about Jesus. He is relegated to prayers, salvation and communion–as “the Christ.”

There is the Christ who offers eternal salvation, and then there is Jesus, who grants us a lifestyle which enables us to see God’s will “done on Earth as it is in heaven.”

The religious system must be addressed and corrected over major errors–three doctrines of Jesus that he fostered while on Earth, which the religious hierarchy has set aside in favor of following “the Christ:”

1. There must be racial equality through racial interaction.

Jesus broke all the boundaries of prejudice and bigotry by including Samaritans with Jews and Gentiles with Hebrews. This is not optional. As long as we have a “black church” and a “white church,” we are propagating the principles of Dixie, which launched us into the Civil War.

Purposeful efforts must be made to integrate the church.

The black church and white church need to mingle, no matter how much they think they are culturally different. They must become spiritually one.

2. Gender bias is unacceptable.

Jesus included women in his ministry as evangelists, financiers and confidantes. The church refuses to accept women as equals and continues to propagate a religious misogyny which is completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

Women should preach, women should teach, women should do everything that men do without restriction.

3. Free will must be established.

The church is becoming more and more Calvinistic–believing in pre-destination. In so doing, we lose the gospel of Jesus. After all, there’s no need for me to love my neighbor as myself if everything is pre-determined. There’s no purpose in being concerned about what I sow if what I reap has already been factored in. The removal of free will in deference to God being in charge of everything–in control of all decisions–has rendered the church an insipid bunch of Bible-readers who are more afraid of the devil than they are their own inconsistent behavior.

Nothing will be accomplished in the Christ-centered church until the Jesus-focused people get rid of racial barriers, gender bias and a belief in destiny, which precludes us from making our own choices.

It’s wonderful to believe in Christ if you follow Jesus.

It’s not wonderful to believe in Christ if most of the time you use your life on Earth to ignore Jesus and follow the tenets of your community.

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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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Good News and Better News… August 21st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I had the night off from my gigs.

I decided to take in a church service at a small pioneer work where I’m staying. It is called Renaissance Fellowship. It touts the uniqueness of being a Christian church focused on the arts. Since I’ve been known to have a brain cell or two tuned in that direction, I was titillated.

The church is held at a community center and has about twenty-five folks who attend. The people are typical “church.” About 35% of them are excited, involved, busy scurrying around, and the rest of them have the appearance of folks arriving for a seminar on an unknown subject, with the promise that they might get free passes to a restaurant at the end.

Renaissance suffers from what every church suffers from. In trying to find God, they accidentally kill passion.

The pastor, a young man in his early forties, has a delightful desire and talent for sharing his thoughts. You can tell he is still deeply involved in the pursuit of God and the salvation of human souls, but growing a bit worn around the edges in all the well-doing. It happens to all of us.

But I heard something I liked. I heard rumblings that sounded like possibility.

Even though his message was plagued with too much preaching to the soul and teaching to the brain, I sensed that he’s beginning to reach for the heart.

For you see–human beings are not really spiritual. We aren’t thoughtful. We are emotional.

It doesn’t matter if it’s about work, play, a football stadium or church–the evidence that we are impacted is always an emotional outburst.

So I speak with great clarity to this pastor and tell him to keep reaching for the heart. Go ahead and abandon preaching to the soul and teaching to the mind. No one cares what Abraham, Moses, Joseph or any of the old patriarchs did. If the stories do not relate to family, Wal-mart and the Internet, they will not touch the hearts of American people.

Instructing the brain by pointing out clever pieces of information may once have been a path of probability, but no longer. Our brains are inundated with too much information, and of course, way too many posts on Facebook about nothing.

  • Reach the heart.
  • Touch the heart.
  • And demand a heartfelt response.

It is the only way people are healed. As Jesus said, “If you say to this mountain, be removed, and you do not doubt in your heart, it shall be done.”

The soul, the brain and the body have nothing to do with moving mountains. It is a heartfelt action.

Although I’m sure they are delightful and blessed people, many of the folks at Renaissance were doing their best imitation of being church cardboard cutouts. But becoming a church of artistry will require that the congregation that’s already there–tiny as it is–become emotionally excited with its own faith.

If it doesn’t, they will be just an average church that occasionally puts on plays.

The good news is that the Gospel is an experience of the heart.

The better news is, the pastor of Renaissance Fellowship and his congregation have a great opportunity to become heartfelt.

I have confidence in them.

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