Good News and Better News… November 20th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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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.

For you see, the pastor is my son.Donate Button

 

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

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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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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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 4)… July 22nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Still a bit troubled.

It’s this whole thing about salvation: “By grace you are saved through faith.”

The Apostle Paul shared this sentiment, and it set in motion the essence of the Protestant movement, so that today we are most concerned about the salvation of the soul.

Meanwhile, the emotions, the mind and the physicality of the church members wane, having no better effect than those in the world.

I suppose a case can be made that once we are eternally rescued and given a place in heaven, temporary years on Earth don’t seem quite as valuable.

Of course, one could have that opinion if one had not read the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus was intent on having God’s will done on Earth as it is in heaven.

He believed in personal responsibility.

He challenged his followers to go the second mile.

He told us that those who have purity of heart– emotional clarity–would see God.

He asked us to think about the world around us and how it works.

And certainly, he challenged us to be born again–not merely accepting the frailties of our genetic code, but rather, setting in motion a transformation which makes us “new creatures.”

The church offers soul salvation and then wonders why many people opt for “off-campus” emotional healing, renewing of their minds and physical exercise with healthy eating.

If salvation is a gift, why are we told to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling?

If salvation is a gift, why did Jesus tell Zacchaeus that he had “achieved” it by giving back the money he had stolen?

Imagine how powerful the Christian church could become if we simply taught that the salvation of our souls is an eternal work, demanding the grace of God to inaugurate our emotional healing, renewing of our minds and enhancement of our DNA.

It is troubling.

It is troubling that the church contains people who are going to heaven … yet having a hell of a time getting there.

 

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G-Poppers … May 19th, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop was thinking about irritation.

It’s that fussy itch that if you scratch it, burns and stings and threatens infection.

It’s knowing that something upsets you, but you feel compelled for some reason or another, to put up with it anyway.

It is the pin that pops the balloon, the rain on the parade and the dread that makes us feel dead.

G-Pop is well aware that irritation occurs among those we seem to love the most. We have learned to tolerate certain behavior without really having any toleration. We’re always frustrated, but we sigh in despair, believing there’s no way of escape.

G-Pop points out that once you discover something that irritates you, your first plan of action should be to create distance.

Since you don’t have any power to change people, nor has God granted you the ability to alter the cosmos, it’s a good idea to wear roller skates and always be prepared to cruise down the sidewalk.

The supreme definition of arrogance is, “I believe that this time I can change what I didn’t last time.”

Verily, verily, G-Pop says unto you, irritation requires a speedy exit.

Irritation also demands that we develop a sense of humor, and if we find ourselves in the middle of that which irritates us, to entertain our aggravated spirit with a joking giddiness.

And finally, look for the open door.

If our irritation is at our job, then we should pray for an open door–to either leave or be promoted to a position to control the environment. This is our salvation.

Don’t allow yourself to believe that you can be irritated and maintain integrity. Living with irritation is like lighting damp sticks of dynamite, believing that none of them will ever blow up.

One just may, and when it does, remember–you’re holding it.

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G-Poppers … May 12th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop wants to talk to his children about a bit of idealism. A case could be made that it’s fantasy. But in its purist form, it is a story.

It is a tale of a Garden–a secluded, private, precious and holy place, where the very best of Earth was begun and blessed. According to the plot, this Garden contained delicious food and was cared for by a man and woman who existed in total equality, with the encouragement to pleasure one another, enjoy one another and interact with one another.

These two had a mission to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the Earth–in other words, tap their creativity. Take their talents and dreams and expand on them, while making sure they continued to respect the Garden, its contents and its creatures.

G-Pop will refrain from discussing the more common aspects of this yarn–the parts where theologians note that disobedience to the Creator caused the equal pair to be punished and placed into a world laced with chaos.

The same theologians insist that an action of mercy and grace brought humanity back into favor with the Creator through the death and sacrifice of the Son, Jesus. But what they fail to interject is the knowledge that this gift of salvation by Jesus brought us back to the Garden. Although people claim to be saved, they are not salvaged from the post-Eden sentence, imprisoning them with inequality.

Why would we want to be a people who are saved but not salvaged–going to Heaven but still cursed while on Earth?

Why would we want to settle for turmoil between men and women when the possibility of equivalence is readily available?

Why would we use the Earth as toilet tissue instead of valuing our surroundings as God’s gift to us, to maintain with caution and dignity?

Can G-Pop get his children to be idealistic enough to return to the Garden? It takes three simple steps:

  1. Respect all people as your equals.
  2. Take authority over your life by being creative.
  3. Respect Mother Earth.

Implementing these three missions will place you back at the gates of the Garden of Eden.

Entrance is only possible by becoming like a little child.

 

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G-Poppers … March 24th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop wants his children to learn two massive universal initiatives:

  1. Don’t forget to remember
  2. Always remember to forget

Without the institution of this pair into human life, it is easy to become overly sensitive to danger and unappreciative of salvation.

Over-sensitivity can lead to insecurity which breeds fear, and fear chases away the love that would come to assist us.

So in a strange sense, the thing we need the most–support–is cast aside because we’re frightened of what might happen if we trust.

So what should we forget and what needs to be remembered?

  • Forget the ordeal.
  • Remember the survival.

Even as you recount the stories in your life, make sure that you place much more emphasis on the solution, the blessing, the great idea and the healing than you ever do on the actual difficulty itself.

It is a transforming miracle in our emotions which feed the soul with hope. If everything is survivable, then the present ordeal is on a time clock awaiting its departure.

There are other examples, too:

Forget the offense that others may have brought to you and instead, remember the recovery.

Forget the sadness of losing loved ones and remember the joy they continue to bring to your life.

Forget the pain, remember the healing.

Forget the inconsideration that was thrust your way and remember the conclusion, when time and chance gave you the opportunity to bless those who cursed you.

And of course, forget the past and remember the way of escape that God, Mother Nature and common sense provided in your moment of need.

Great mental health can be ushered into our being simply by practicing forgetting, and welcoming remembering.

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