Jesonian … May 5th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3663)

Long, long ago, when Jesus and his elves–twelve in all–were on their way to Samaria to assist Conan the Barbarian in rescuing Mary of Magdala from the Cave of Sighs, where she was being tormented by seven hissing demons, they stopped at a well in Sychar, where Jesus turned its water into wine. A party ensued.

There, Jesus told his elves the story of Mary, the Mother of God, who scurried along, following a rabbit down a hole into a stable, where she had a baby, which shone like the light of day. So she went to Egypt, where she met her husband, Joseph, who was a Carpenter Warrior from Cairo.

They took the baby to see Aslan,who wrote the Chronicles, from his den in Narnia, and helped the young family avoid the onslaught of the wicked Herod of the West.

Many baby hobbits were lost, but the young King was preserved. Jesus.

So now, Jesus is walking on water on the Sea of Galilee near the tree where we all can be, can’t you see?

They continue to try to kill Jesus but he runs away and leaps upon a white horse and takes his army into battle, where he destroys all the Telmarines, and establishes his kingdom. Everyone lives happily thereafter.

*****

If you’re going to teach the lifestyle of Jesus to your children like it’s a nursery rhyme, don’t be surprised, as they grow, if they start viewing it as a fairy tale.

And “Frank”ly, it will “Baum” their lives, leaving them only with a “Tolkien” belief.

*****

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Jesonian … April 7th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3635)

Every story is better told and more effective when the facts are allowed to line up in a reasonable order.

Such is true of the Gospel of Jesus.

Theologians spend so much time proclaiming him the Son of God that they lose the fragrance and uniqueness of the Son of Man. In an attempt to make the tale “super” they lose all of the “natural.”

The average person going to church is deluded by an array of facts which just don’t add up to a crucifixion.

One of those great misconceptions is that Jesus was extremely popular. There were certainly occasions when his crowd appeal spiked, but it always revolved around three stimuli:

A. Was he doing miracles?

B. Was he feeding people?

C. Did it look like he was the Jewish Messiah?

Whenever the populace became convinced through these three “signs and wonders” that God was going to save them from the Romans, they rallied around Jesus. Whenever it was obvious that he was intent on sharing a more universal message which included people that were not Jewish, they slipped away.

Let’s look at some facts:

1. Jesus was rejected by his home town, Nazareth, and never able to return again. Not only was he ignored, but threatened with death–dangled from the edge of a cliff.

2. Even though Jesus held a great revival in Samaria with the testimony from a woman at a well, when he returned to the city, he was forbidden to enter by the town fathers because they found out he also ministered to the Jews.

3. When he fed the 5,000 in Galilee, the hordes followed him for a while–until he told them this was not a food pantry, but rather, that his words and life were the message they were supposed to “eat.” They all departed–except for the twelve.

4. Over and over again, interest sparked with the Pharisees, but when Simon, one of their number, invited him to a special meal, the Pharisee snubbed Jesus and treated him like an outsider.

5. After the resurrection, it is recorded that over 500 people saw Jesus–witnesses of the miracle. But on the Day of Pentecost only 120 remained. Kind of a drastic drop-off.

I guess we feel the need to believe that Jesus was greatly appreciated by the people in his generation, and taken to be crucified only by a handful of powerful critics.

It’s just not true.

We are told that most of the time he dealt with twelve disciples–and he focused on three of them, to be the core leaders. We have some idea of the size of a normal following of Jesus when the scriptures let us know that he sent seventy out to share in his name.

If you are trying to give credence to the message of Jesus by pointing out how enthralled the Jewish community and the Roman oppressors were, then you will be sadly disappointed when you read the actual accounts of his mistreatment and the number of individuals who desperately tried to ignore him.

We’re even told that John the Baptist’s disciples did not believe in him.

Jesus had a model. It’s very simple: Develop a hot core of followers and let them radiate the message.

Nowadays we are so eager to build up numbers in the sanctuary that we fail to build up people. Jesus basically spent three-and-a-half years working on twelve human beings.

  • One of them betrayed him and killed himself.
  • Another denied him, and was prepared to leave the work.
  • Yet another one doubted that a resurrection was possible.

Do not despair–Jesus suffered the same slings and arrows of human apathy that you and I encounter every day. He just had a great system. So when he left the planet, there was a handful of people who knew what he taught, knew what he stood for and were prepared to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to give them the power and insight to take the Gospel to the whole world.

*****

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Jesonian … February 24th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3593)

Throughout the ten thousand years of chronicled human history, three repetitive actions have continually pushed their way to the forefront:

  1. Human beings resolve conflict through war
  2. Women are considered inferior to men
  3. Children are property and can be treated any way deemed necessary for maintaining order and discipline

Only in the past seventy-five years has the concept of equal rights for women and the possibility of child abuse even been considered.

Although we consider our species to be continually learning and growing, at the core of our actions–our relationships with each other–we are still neanderthal.

This is why the character, personality and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are so radical, even to this day. In a world where children were considered “chattel,” Jesus demanded, bring them to me because they are the symbol of heaven.

He warned that anybody who offended one of these “little ones” should have a millstone hung around his neck, drowned in the deepest sea.

And when trying to describe the temperament and energy of believers, he suggested that we find the heart of a child.

Even though in his day this teaching in itself would be enough to have him ridiculed and perhaps murdered, our society has not progressed much beyond believing that our offspring are community property which can be split down the middle into “visitation sessions.”

We leave our children confused over the term family because they often find themselves having to call a half-dozen or more people grandma or grandpa. And we make them privy to our “love struggle” instead of granting them the security of growing up in peace and finding themselves.

We are a wicked generation, mocking the foolishness of the past while keeping souvenirs.

This is also true with women. Jesus doubly astounds his disciples by going to Samaria–a forbidden area for any good Jew to even enter–but while there, talking to a woman in broad daylight, and using her as a conduit for revival. It left them speechless.

Also, forgiving a woman caught in adultery in the midst of an all-male audience was certainly not a popular choice, and having his ministry underwritten financially by three women of means raised a few eyebrows over the water being drawn from the community well.

I have always felt that Jesus made a mistake in not having a female disciple. But he quickly corrects this after the resurrection by appearing to Mary Magdalene first, making her the messenger to tell his disciples that he was raised from the dead.

Please do not come into Christianity thinking you can use Jesus to undergird your misogyny or disdain for children. Matter of fact, you can judge a nation by how much equality is given to the women, and how much true respect is offered to children.

We don’t need to “harden” our schools. We don’t need to tell our sons and daughters that they must be surrounded by guns or they won’t be safe.

It is our concern, love, mercy, tenderness and watchful eye that is the source of their protection.

If you’re going to be Jesonian, you need to stop living with a caveman consciousness toward children and women, while holding an I-phone in your hand.

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Jesonian … November 18th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3494)

jesonian-cover-amazon

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

(3280)

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

(3193)

jesonian-cover-amazon

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

(3045)

Jon close up

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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