Jesonian … November 18th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Those that are not for us are against us.

Those that are not against us are for us.

These seem to be two contrary thoughts–even a contradiction. Yet Jesus said both of them.

And due to a lack of understanding, the soldiers of the cross all line up behind one campaign or the other.

Some churches firmly believe that the Gospel is under attack by a sinful world, manipulated by Satan.

Other churches insist that people are basically good, and it’s up to us to help them through their hard times so they can find themselves.

We even divide our political parties along the same lines. Devout Republicans tend to favor isolation, and the Democrats are proponents of intervention.

We also see this clearly with James, John and Judas. James and John were isolationists. When they came to Samaria and the people rejected them, they were angry and suggested the folks should be destroyed for their lack of hospitality.

Jesus rebuked them and said they didn’t understand what spirit was working inside them.

Judas, on the other hand, criticized Jesus for spending money foolishly instead of taking the funds and using it to feed the poor. Jesus replied to him that the poor were never going away, and if we try to resolve poverty, we’ll end up angry and bitter. He said the best we can do is offer what we can afford.

The battle still rages today:

Are we going to be a church of isolation, a country of isolation, or should we favor intervention, both spiritually and politically?

What is the way of the Earth? What is the true message of the Gospel?

Did Jesus come to isolate off a group of believers, or did he come to intervene in the lives of everyone?

Neither.

The Gospel interrupts.

It offers an alternative. It sheds light and produces salt as evidence of another possibility.

The Gospel interrupts the process by offering a more common sense, logical, easier and gentle approach.

When the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, they asked him what he thought they should do. He doesn’t answer specifically. He says, “If you have no sin, you should feel free to cast the first stone to kill the woman.”

The Bible says at this point, he turns around, stoops and fiddles in the dirt with his finger. He leaves it to them to come up with the right answer.

It is rather doubtful if we can live in a world that is an Internet click away from covering 25,000 miles, and believe we can isolate ourselves from other nations.

It is equally as ridiculous to contend that our intervention–taking over the circumstances of nations–will do anything to generate permanent resolution.

Jesus has called his church to be an interruption. While enjoying our lives of simple Gospel bliss, we offer an alternative to others through our example and our generosity.

We interrupt.

Jesus said, “I didn’t come to bring peace. I came to bring a sword to divide people.”

The ultimate interruption.

To be a Jesonian believer is to understand that isolating ourselves from others does not alleviate being at the mercy of their insanity, but also understanding that intervening and thinking we can feed all the poor is equally as unstable.

What we can do is interrupt.

In the process of living a full, joyful life, we brush up against others, and in doing so, we plant the seeds of better notions. For after all, people are not changed by being ignored or controlled.

They must see our good works to glorify the Father in heaven.

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Good News and Better News… April 17th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesus was the Good Shepherd. (Well, I guess He still is, since no one else is qualified or particularly interested in the job.) He spent his whole life trying to find a way to be a caretaker for sheepish human souls.

It began with thirty years of family life–a mother, father, sisters and brothers trying to get along in cramped quarters, being hunted down daily by poverty.

Then, when he felt a stirring in his soul to do more, his desires were struck down by the locals, who insisted he should remain the “carpenter’s son.”

So he moved a little bit down the road to a town called Capernaum, and started a house-front church–Peter’s house. It became very popular–so much so that the folks literally started tearing the walls out.

But then his family got wind of his doings, thought he was crazy and came out to take him home. A little bit of scandal. Suddenly the citizens of Capernaum were not quite as interested anymore.

So Jesus turned to his handful of disciples and said, “Well, let’s take the show on the road.”

He became an evangelist. Since he figured no one in Galilee or Judea was particularly interested, he went to Samaria. He met a woman who helped him build energy and in no time at all there was some excitement and thrilling deeds in the works.

Unfortunately, when he returned back to Samaria shortly thereafter, they wouldn’t let him share anymore because they found out he liked Jews–and they hated them.

He decided to return to Galilee to live off the land and just see who came in. Eventually there were seventy of them–one of those church sizes that is so common today.

Jesus motivated them, sent them out two by two, and their work was so successful that within a few months, Jesus found himself teaching five thousand people–an unbelievable growth spurt.

Jesus had himself a mega church. He was not only leading them but also feeding them. But when he began teaching them about personal responsibility, and the fact that his congregants needed to be on a spiritual journey to have the heart of God toward humanity, they objected. Matter of fact, they got angry, started “splits,” and before you know it, Jesus lost 4,988 members.

He was left with twelve.

That’s a pretty drastic dip. I would think he would have had a tendency to question his technique, method or even wisdom. But Jesus went the other direction. He continued to minister to the twelve disciples, but he focused on three: Peter, James and John.

And although the Good Book says that five hundred witnesses saw him after the resurrection, only 120 were around for the Day of Pentecost.

But Jesus had even shrunk his vision of the three “best friend” disciples down to one.

Yes, on a cool morning by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus stood by the water with Simon Peter and said, “Feed my sheep.”

When it turned out that Peter got a little weary, Jesus appeared on a back road near Damascus and told a chap named Saul of Tarsus, “Stop fighting it. You are meant to be a messenger.”

So even though thousands and thousands of people came Jesus’ way, encountered his message, some even walking away with miraculous healings, he intelligently placed focus on two fellows, who made it their mission to teach the parishioners around them to become disciples–and to change the world.

The good news is that the Gospel is not about building churches and getting attendance. It’s about making disciples.

And the better news is that a contented, fulfilled, excited and creative disciple can reach millions.

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Jesonian… January 21st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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They tried.

They really, really tried.

Once folks discovered that Jesus of Nazareth was interested in love, mercy, peace and God, they attempted to make connection with him by being religious.

They couldn’t understand an itinerant minister who was so against organized theology that he hid out in the hills in the middle of the week, fellowshipping with folks, only descending to the synagogue on Saturday, to find more brothers and sisters.

Yet they tried.

First came Nicodemus, a Pharisee. He began his dialogue with Jesus by saying, “We know you are a teacher from God because you do such amazing works.”

He was a victim of church talk. He didn’t know how to chat like “real people.” He was hoping that he and Jesus could compliment one another and ruminate over the unknown questions of the universe, departing satisfied that they were both educated men.

Jesus ignored his religion and told Nicodemus that he needed to be “born again.”

It pissed the old cleric off.

On another occasion, Jesus was sitting at a well in Samaria when a woman with a history of multiple husbands, now living with a man, came to draw water. When, through conversation, she realized that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, she began a religious argument–whether the Jews or the Samaritans were right. Here she was, a totally secular woman with no real understanding of the essence of God. But once she decided she was dealing with a religious adversary, she waxed ecclesiastical.

Jesus ignored her.

He told her to go get her husband.

He told her he had living water.

He told her that where we worship is not important–it’s how we worship that rings our bells.

And we must not forget the rich young ruler, who was so confident in his financial status that he felt the only thing he lacked was assurance that he had procured eternal life. He felt certain that Jesus was the person to ask about the afterlife.

“What must I do to inherit heaven?”

After a few minutes of back and forth, Jesus told him to go out, sell everything he had and give it to the poor. This was not the answer the pious young ruler wanted. So he left, sad.

Any further study of Jesus’ interactions with religious people of his day will give you a comprehensive awareness that all of them–all of the encounters–to some degree were failures.

Because the things that religious people need to do they don’t want to do:

  • Like Nicodemus, they do not want to personalize their salvation to be individually born again.
  • Like the woman at the well, they want to worship but not discover the “Spirit and the truth” of their praise.
  • And like the rich young ruler, they would rather memorize passages than generously give from their substance.

Whenever you bring religion to Jesus, he will challenge it–even attack it.

So do yourself a favor.

Skip the step.

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G-Poppers … August 26th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop just wasn’t sure it was relevant.

He wanted to share a story from the Acts of the Apostles from the Good Book, but was concerned that when it comes to the Bible, many people are looking for religion instead of reality. Yet the parallel to our times was so strong that he decided to take a risk.

The tale is rather obscure and rarely spoken of in church circles. It’s about a fellow named Simon, from Samaria. He is described as a prominent man with great influence and appreciation among his peers. When the disciples of Jesus appear, sharing their message of love and hope, praying for the sick and bringing the Holy Spirit to the masses, Simon is impressed by the anointing and intrigued at the opportunity.

So he approaches Peter. He says, “How much would it cost for me to get the Holy Spirit?”

To a man who believes that material things provide all security, it was logical for Simon to think there was a purchase price for anything and everything. We’re even told that Simon professed to be a believer–but what he was interested in was absorbing the power.

G-Pop would like to pause for a moment and parallel this with Hillary and Donald.

Both of them claim to be Christians, feeling the need to acquire that support and even be immersed in the community. But simultaneously, they deny the power of the message of Jesus of Nazareth and his lifestyle.

  • Jesus did not verbally attack his enemies.
  • Jesus did not subjugate the poor.
  • Jesus did not think that lying was an option.
  • Jesus did not believe that one person was better than another.
  • Jesus did not contend that the Jews had an edge over the Gentiles.

Yet we have two candidates running for President who purport to be followers of Jesus, and are not bearing fruit of his mission in their everyday lives.

Returning to the story, when Peter was offered money by Simon, who was referred to as a Sorcerer, his reply was very blunt. “Take your money and go to hell.”

Today the response given by the Christian community and evangelicals to the Presidential candidates is quite different. It’s because they don’t believe in the insights of Jesus and are looking for a political solution.

What would happen if the Christians in this country stood up to Hillary and Donald?

Because when Peter challenged Simon, there was a happy ending.

Simon repented.

Hillary and Donald will continue to assert that cutting, hurting, attacking, back-biting, gossiping and lying are viable ways to become the leader of our nation until people who treasure faith stand up and say, “To hell with this.”

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Jesonian: Three in One … June 28th, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jane Fonda in Klute

The exact phrasing is, “He needed to go to Samaria.”

Jesus made a decision to pass through Samaria instead of being a good little Jewish boy and going around that province which was known for its heresy and wickedness.

I think I now realize why he did it.

He had a meeting at a well in Sychar. In that one encounter, he succeeded in passing on, for all time and to all generations, his heart on gender equality, judging morality and racial bigotry.

Let’s look at the story.

Having sent his disciples away to get food, he strikes up a conversation with a woman from Samaria. This means very little to us in our day and age, but in the season that Jesus of Nazareth lived on the earth, men and women did not talk. They just copulated.

She was surprised.

She was suspicious.

Honestly, considering her background, she probably thought he was trying to make a pass at her.

He wasn’t.

He talked to her. His conversation with this woman in Sychar was no different in its intensity and intelligence from the conversation he had with Nicodemus, a learned male Pharisee.

Jesus was telling us the following:

Men and women are equals and the more they act like humans, the better they’ll get along with each other.

Secondly, in the midst of the conversation, he asked the woman to go get her husband. She replied, “I have no husband.”

Jesus replied, “You have spoken well, for you’ve had five husbands and the man you’re living with now is not your husband.”

Though she was not totally forthcoming with Jesus about her status, she didn’t lie. He thanked her for telling him as much of the truth as she was able to put forth.

He made no moral judgment on her.

He did not condemn her for having multiple marriages nor insist that she was living in sin.

He established for all time, “I will welcome anyone who’s honest about their sexuality and their situation without offering condemnation.”

And finally, when the disciples showed up and saw him talking to a woman who was of a different belief and race, they were upset–in that “religious folk way.”

You know what I mean? They started whispering among themselves.

Jesus got the disciples out of there so he could establish what he really felt about bigotry, that being:

“I will ignore and fight against racism even if it makes people uncomfortable or my friends disagree.”

In one meeting, Jesus handled three of the largest issues of our time:

  • Gender equality
  • Human sexuality
  • And racism.

And I think if you read it very carefully in the Good Book in John the 4th Chapter, you will understand that to Jesus, women are humans, people shouldn’t be judged by their moral choices and racism is evil.

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