Catchy (Sitting 42) Head Hunter… April 1st, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Moving stealthily across the room, Matthew eased his way into a large, brown, shiny leather chair with golden buttons. Crossing his legs, he wiggled his nose as if dispelling a fly and inquired, “You are an atheist, aren’t you?”

She replied, “I am a psychiatrist and a graduate of the University of…”

He interrupted her. “I know all about your degrees and all your studies. I’m a professional. I check things out. What struck me was that you advertised that your therapy was non-religious.”

She paused. “Yes. That particular line from my promotion is a hold-over from my days of working in Gadsden, Alabama, where they still believe that peters can walk on the water.”

Matthew laughed. “That’s very good. I just wanted to make sure that you’ll be able to listen to me with an objective mind, neither judging me critically because you’re faith-based, or over-evaluating me intellectually from some throne of godless superiority.”

She shifted in her chair and said, “Why don’t we just order in sushi and forget about the whole thing?”

Matthew liked her. Her name was Dr. Sherry Lynn Montgomery. He had carefully sought out her services because Matthew was convinced that another week of being the sole proprietor of his own brain might end him up in a sanitarium.

He needed to talk. He was tired of listening. So many opinions, so much rhetoric, so much danger, so much assurance. He just wanted to say “one, two, three” with the hope that someone would counter with “four, five.”

The doctor jumped in to fill a quiet space. “I grew up in Alabama,” she said. “My father was an evangelist for the Church of God. He was the kind of man who believed everything that came his way was true as long as it could be confirmed that a prophet, savior or apostle said it. He was not a horrible human being, but there were folks he hated. To use his colorful language, he explained to me many times that he despised ‘sinners and niggers’ and not necessarily in that order. He would jokingly tell me that ‘the niggers should be glad he made the distinction.’ I use the language for your ears, not to be flamboyant or cavalier, but to let you know that there was a cave I had to climb out of before I could reach even ground. I am familiar with that process. I have led many other religious spelunkers from their darkness to an understanding of the simplicity of this life.”

Matthew shook his head. “Damn, you talk pretty. I bet you’ve used that speech before.”

Dr. Sherry smiled. “I have. It’s a good speech–mainly because it’s true.”

“All right,” said Matthew. “Let me tell you a little bit about myself.”

This time, Dr. Sherry interrupted. “You are the young man who owns his own advertising agency, and decided to take on the task of making Jesus popular again. I also investigate my possible patients.”

Matthew scrunched up his face. “Well, not exactly. I’m not personally trying to do it. I just could not figure out how in the hell to turn down two hundred and fifty million dollars…”

“So what you’re saying,” continued the doctor, “is that you are not a religious fanatic–just willing to become one for the right price.”

Matthew stood to his feet and clapped his hands. “You got it! You really do know your stuff. Excuse me, Doctor Piety. Would you turn down two hundred and fifty million dollars if they offered it to you, to make Jesus popular again?”

“It seems to me that Jesus’ popularity has already cost the human race much more than two hundred and fifty million dollars,” she said tersely.

“Oh, I see,” said Matthew slowly. “We’re going to be serious.”

Dr. Sherry Lynn Montgomery leaned forward and pointed her finger at him. “Since you’ve taken over this little enterprise, there have been rumors of miracles, healings and even some fellow raised from the dead.”

Matthew inserted, “That one was temporary. He croaked, you know.”

She shook her head. “We don’t need more religion in this world. We need more reasonable people who will take the time to use their common sense and available knowledge to access real solutions.”

“Hell, you got no complaint from me on that one,” responded Matthew. “Except the parts of what you’re looking for don’t seem to be available. Are there such people in the world? Isn’t everybody waiting for the magic lamp they can rub so they can get the three wishes? I have to be honest–there’s a part of me that wants some sort of God, to take all the shit out of my life and leave behind promises. I don’t even care if He breaks the promises. I just can’t believe that my life is limited to what I know or even to what I can learn.”

“Why?” asked the doctor. “You’re not a stupid man.”

Matthew interrupted. “You can call me Matthew.”

“Actually, I won’t call you anything,” she said, “until I can determine if we’re going to have some sort of ongoing conversation.”

Matthew held his hand up to stop her. “What I want to know is, why do Christians always seem so sure about God and atheists always seem so mad?”

“I’m not mad,” said Dr. Montgomery. “I am just not titillated by fairy tales about eternal life, and I refuse to waste the one life I’ve got trying to measure up for the one that does not exist.”

“Are you sure it doesn’t exist?” asked Matthew. “Damn–if someone would just guarantee me that there’s nothing else but here and now, I think I could make it work. And if I couldn’t, at least I would know I was just another miserable son-of-a-bitch, waiting to expire. But I’m not sure. I’m not sure there is a God. I’m not sure there isn’t. Which means I’m not sure I know what the hell I’m doing.”

“I’m sure,” she replied. “Take my word for it. Listen to a young girl who said her prayers every night until she was eighteen years old and was able to sneak out at the end of the revival meeting, escaping into the darkness to start a new life.”

“You mean you ran away?” asked Matthew.

“Yes. And that was twenty-five years ago. And no one tried to follow me. I was told they declared it was God’s will–that my flesh had to be turned over to Satan for purification.”

Matthew just stared at her. “I know you don’t believe in any of this. At least that’s what you say. But I’ve been there for the meetings. I’ve listened to my friend, Jubal, talk about the joy of the Lord. I sat and spoke with a man who was electrocuted and was alive again. I saw my friends from college, with dismal outlooks on life, who now are coming to some kind of awareness. Pink returning to their cheeks and peace to their minds.”

“Fine,” the doctor said curtly. “Why don’t you just join them?”

“That’s easy,” said Matthew. “There’s too many of them. I’ve never been a soul who followed the mob mentality. I wore my leisure suits a full three years longer than the fashion snobs permitted. I still occasionally look in the Farmer’s Almanac for weather information. And I’ve never ordered anything but a pepperoni pizza any time in my life. I like things steady. I like the taste of my own efforts on my tongue. I don’t want a God to take control of my life. But I don’t want a devil to haunt my efforts.”

Dr. Sherry Lynn Montgomery just shook her head. “You’re very confused, Matthew. You neither have the bliss of ignorance nor the refreshment of enlightenment. What is it you think you have?”

“Jack and Coke,” Matthew said quickly. “I have Jack and Coke. It is the cocktail of rock stars. It’s what the Beatles drank, and it is what the next rock and roll band who offends some fearful mother in America will be guzzling down.”

He grinned. “Do you know why the rock bands started drinking Jack and Coke? When rock and roll began, the cities where the bands performed would not allow alcohol backstage. Many of the tours were sponsored by Coca-Cola, so there would be tons and tons of cans of Coke backstage. So the bands found it very simple to smuggle in bottles of Jack Daniels in their road cases, and even when the liquor was added to the cola, at first sight to any innocent producer, it just looked like a soft drink. Isn’t that amazing? It’s another example of humans adapting and evolving to meet the need.”

“Are you an alcoholic?” asked the doctor.

“No, no,” said Matthew. “That would be much too easy. I can go five days without drinking, and then follow it up with three days of doing nothing else. I never feel the need to drink, I usually just feel compelled to waste some time so I don’t have to think about this shit I’m talking to you about today.”

Matthew held up a finger. “Here’s what I know. If God doesn’t leave me the hell alone, He’d better be prepared to pay for my rehab. And I’m not talkin’ about some little state-sponsored place in the woods. I’m talkin’ about Malibu–with lobster for breakfast.”

“So it’s God’s fault?” questioned the doctor.

Matthew stood up and ambled toward the door. He turned the knob, opened it and was about to walk out, but then decided to conclude his speech.

“No, actually, good doc… Now it’s your fault. I occasionally like to include new people in my life so I can have someone fresh to blame.”

 

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Jesonian … December 16th, 2017

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A day in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Although most theologians would like to focus on the 24-hour period leading up to his crucifixion, the Gospels do offer us other examples. One of the primal outlines is found in Matthew, Chapters 12 and 13. You may feel free to read it–I will not tax your spirit or patience by parsing it verse by verse–but there are six things that become clear from perusing the story line.

1. Jesus was not a theologian.

His disciples walked through a field of corn, and even though it was forbidden by religious edict to eat it–especially on the Sabbath–they partook. Jesus defended them to the Pharisees, who were ready to leap upon the activity to prove the unworthiness of Jesus’ Kingdom movement. During this exchange, Jesus makes a profound statement: “The Sabbath is for man.”

It is geared for us, in order to replenish, rejuvenate and renovate our thinking.

2. Jesus was not a rabbi.

He strolls into a synagogue and disrupts the service by healing a man with a withered hand. He is accosted for this untimely interruption, and replies, “Each one of you will save a donkey from a trench, but you won’t do anything to help this fellow.”

Yes, Jesus was guilty of interrupting the flow of worship.

And contrary to the common patter:

3. Jesus was not a Jew.

Not only did he break the Jewish laws, taunting them in doing so, but we are informed that he was a voice, a spirit and a teacher in whom the “Gentiles could trust.”

Even though his proximity to Jerusalem might generate the assumption that he was a Son of Abraham, he made it clear that he was around “before Abraham.”

Shall we press on?

4. He was certainly not a traditionalist.

The religious leaders believed he was satanic. They swore he was casting out demons by the power of Satan. Of course, none of them could cast out a demon, but Jesus made it clear that he had come to destroy the works of the devil and that they needed to be careful not to mock the moving of the Holy Spirit just because it was inconvenient to their case.

So Jesus is not a theologian, a rabbi, a Jew or a traditionalist. And by the way:

5. Jesus was not a family man.

When interrupted by his mother, brothers and sisters during a time of ministry (because they wanted to take him home, thinking he was crazy) Jesus turned to the crowd and claimed them as his new family.

Yes, Jesus might find it difficult to be in a church service, welling up over allegiance with people simply because of shared DNA.

So as Matthew describes a day in the life of Jesus, when he defies theologians, upsets a rabbi, walks away from Judaism, breaks traditions and sidesteps family involvement, he ends the discourse by establishing who the Nazarene really was.

For the Master sat down and told a story: “The sower went forth to sow seed.”

6. Jesus is a sower.

He’s not concerned about isolating off perfect soil, but merely casting the seed in the direction of any possibility.

A day in the life of Jesus will let you know that his message was human, geared for humans, addressed to humans, human-friendly and human-saving.

He discarded religion in favor of the reality of those souls God sent his way.

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Jesonian … November 18th, 2017

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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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Jesonian … September 23rd, 2017

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Jesus got angry.

There’s no doubt about that. The Gospels make it clear that he frequently spilled out his wrath to those around him.

We don’t like this. The mind of the present theological times wholly disagrees because we desperately need to keep Jesus sheepish, quiet and gentle so that he can be the “Lamb of God slain from the foundations of the world.”

What’s amazing is, for a man who was destined to die on a cross, he put up one helluva fight. Let’s take a look at it:

He was angry when they criticized him for healing a man on the Sabbath.

He was angry when he came into the Temple and saw the money-changers cheating the faithful. (Actually, he put together a pre-meditated action of violence by making a whip to use on them for their thievery.)

He was angry at the man by the pool who was healed, who decided to turn Jesus into the scribes and Pharisees.

He was angry at his family when they thought he was crazy, and came out to take him home when he had disconnected from them.

And certainly, when the people of his home town pushed him to the edge of the cliff, it says that he “passed through the midst of them.” Perhaps you were taught that he evaporated and disappeared, but that’s not what is stated. The Bible portrays a man of strength and determination who turned to a mob and pushed his way through them.

We also know that Jesus understood anger because in his Sermon on the Mount, summarizing the Ten Commandments, he explained that the basic struggle in humans is finding a way to deal with anger and lust.

In a man, it is called testosterone. Jesus had plenty. He was not an anemic personality with pale skin, trying to love a world which only understood hate.

He was virile.

He was stubborn.

And when he saw injustice, he attacked it. Sometimes he called people hypocrites. Other times he referred to them as “graves.” And of course, he was not beyond comparing them to Satan.

So we know this: a man who deals with anger also deals with lust. For anger is often what leads us to conceive our lust, and when lust is conceived, it brings forth sin.

Jesus was surrounded by women. Oh, by the way, it wasn’t a “hands off” policy either. They were close to him, they embraced him; they even kissed his feet. It was intimate. Being intimate, the door was always open to seduction.

If the Jesus you worship could never be angry, nor lust after a woman, then you completely misunderstand the purpose for God sending His son to be a human. Being human, he was able to talk to humans–to explain humanity in a human way.

Yet Jesus did not want to be so angry that he destroyed others, and he definitely did not want to use his lust to take advantage of women who had been broken and even demon possessed.

So Jesus did the following:

1. He had three burly bodyguards around him at all times.

We often wonder why Peter, James and John never left his side. They were a trio of intimidating fishermen who scared away assassins, and made sure Jesus was never alone to be tempted by women. It was brilliant.

2. He escaped.

When he became angry or tempted, he went off by himself and navigated his own wrath and lust. He made peace with himself before he made the mistakes.

3. He created equality.

Jesus made sure that he preached the same Gospel to the women and the men. He demanded the same thing from the ladies and the gents. He created equality, which prevented him from favoring the females–coddling them–which could have led to affairs.

No man who treats a woman as an equal will ever accidentally slip and have sex. It’s only when he’s expressing sympathy, or trying to be the “knight in shining armor” to save her from her problems that he gets in trouble.

Jesus dealt with anger and lust.

He did so by refusing to trust himself, but instead, closed the door on the possibility of disaster.

 

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Jesonian… April 1st, 2017

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Unconditional love.

The phrase has been so overused that now it is tossed off as a given.

It is a symbol of tolerance, a byline for acceptance; a teary-eyed sentiment conveying that we are truly embraced by affection.

If by unconditional love you mean verifying and legitimizing everything people do, then absolutely not. But if by unconditional love you mean a decision to stay with people and continue to be supportive, even though they are struggling or having problems, then assuredly.

But the definition is a slippery banana peel which needs to be clarified. It takes seven verses from the Good Book in Matthew the 16th Chapter to do so. These define what unconditional love is from the perspective of Jesus, who came to show us the attitudes and mind of the Father in Heaven.

In the 16th verse of that 16th Chapter in Matthew, Peter has a brilliant moment. When asked by Jesus, “Who do you think I am?” he quickly replies, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.”

Jesus steps right into him with praise–and not only praise, but offers the status of a new name, and says that because of his great answer, he will be given more authority.

But just a few verses further, when Jesus is explaining to the disciples where the Jerusalem experience might lead, and that he will be killed by the Jewish elders and leaders, Peter rebukes him. I don’t know–maybe the disciple was high on his own praise–but he says that Jesus is mistaken–nothing like that could happen.

Under the popular concept of unconditional love, we would expect Jesus to say, “That’s all right, Peter. It is a bit difficult to comprehend. But hang in there–you’ll eventually get the idea.”

Under the umbrella of unconditional love, we would not expect, Jesus to call him Satan simply because he didn’t understand what was going on. But that’s exactly what Jesus does.

Because even though it says that “God so loved the world because he gave his only begotten son,” everlasting life is contingent upon us accepting that gift.

We are told that we are saved, but we are also warned that we will have to endure to the end to receive the realization.

The definition of unconditional love from the aspect of the Jesonian is as follows:

“I will love you enough to tell you the truth, because the truth will make you free–and only when you’re free do you really learn to love.”

When you remove the truth from love, what you have is flattery. It may feel the same, but it lacks the veracity to sustain us through the hard times, where our weaknesses will obviously be exposed.

To love someone is to tell him or her the truth. The truth grants the individual the ability to be free of the humiliation of being exposed. And once absent fear, a freedom to love is unleashed.

I am afraid that people who accept unconditional love as a guarantee that they will never be challenged will never truly learn to love.

  • Jesus loved Peter enough to praise him–when it was the truth.
  • He loved him enough to call him Satan when that also was the truth.
  • And even though Peter denied Jesus, Jesus never denied Peter.

Get your definition of unconditional love correct and then you can implement it:

“I love you enough to tell you the truth, so you can be free to learn to love.”

 

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Jesonian… March 4th, 2017

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Long before the empty tomb, Golgotha, the Garden, the trial, the healings, the miracles, the Sermon on the Mount or even the water turned to wine, Jesus stopped off in the wilderness for forty days to deal with his appetites and the essence of his humanity.

Jesus was a human being. Much of Christian theology is rendered ineffective because clergy are unable to fathom this.

His relationship with God, based upon being the only begotten Son, is completely unknown and irrelevant to us. Why? Because when he lived in our presence, he had no special favors, no advantages and claimed to be a “son of man”–just one of the gang.

Jesus was sent to Earth.

According to the story, Satan was cast down–his punishment, to be bound and limited to Earth.

And for the period of time that Jesus was here, he was in the same situation, except that he was granted the Holy Spirit.

So when we talk about Satan tempting Jesus, what we’re really discussing is the pernicious nature in all of us which makes us aggravated with the way things are.

That is the definition of sin.

The sins of the heart trigger the sins of the flesh.

Therefore when you boil down the three temptations, they are nothing more than a series of lamentations:

1. “I’m hungry. Why are there just stones and no bread?”

2. “Here I am–so cool, and nobody knows me. I’m not famous. Maybe if I jumped off the Temple…”

3. “I need a short cut. Maybe if I worship what everybody else worships, they’ll all think I’m really neat and I can rule the world.”

It is the nature of human beings to want to control. It’s foolish, since there are too many people, animals, weather formations and evolutions going on for us to ever stick a flag anywhere and claim it’s our turf.

Therefore we fail. When we can’t control we either pout or we cheat.

Jesus took the time in the wilderness to abandon his human instinct to control–because during his ministry, sometimes people had faith and sometimes they didn’t. The Pharisees were more interested in traditions than compassion and the disciples were often as dull as your wife’s shower razor.

We fail because when we realize that our plan has gone awry and we’ve lost control, we become depressed and don’t recognize the opportunities around us.

I know it’s hard to believe, but there really is only one sin. We start it early, keeping it to our grave:

Pouting.

  • “It’s not fair.”
  • “It’s not good enough.”
  • “It isn’t what I planned.”
  • “People don’t understand me.”
  • “I’ve been cheated.”
  • “I’m the wrong color.”
  • “I’m mistreated.”

From that position of pitiful, we try to beg enough sympathy to be loved and considered. If that doesn’t work, we cheat, lie, deceive, commit adultery, take drugs or any other sin that’s ready to jump on our backs like a monkey.

Jesus took forty days to deal with his humanity. He accepted the fact that he did not have control and would have to work with what was available.

It was only after the Resurrection, on his way to ascend to heaven that he proclaimed, “All power is given unto me in heaven and Earth.”

So let’s stop controlling, and instead … work with what is available.

 

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Ask Jonathots… September 29th, 2016

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I am always suspicious of superstition–blaming resistance on outside forces and nefarious entities. But at the same time I believe the blessings in life are always wrapped in hassle and difficulty. How can you tell the difference between the resistance that comes from a bad idea and the resistance that come from the brink of greatness?

In the moment of conflict, our personal reaction cannot be controlled.

Even though people insist they can “count to ten, take a deep breath” or “breathe a prayer” to muster a mature response to difficulty, we have already locked in our profile.

This is the essence of “turn the other cheek.”

Jesus is saying that we must literally choreograph our reactions. Otherwise we will spill out the abundance of our emotional turmoil.

Therefore, it really doesn’t matter if something comes from a nefarious source or if it’s just an inconvenience.

Our reaction determines if it will be elongated or eliminated.

So we should be working on an emotional sense of security. We are heart creatures. We don’t answer tribulation from our spirit. All communication comes from the abundance of our heart.

So where should we start?

We should work on the dance–the ability to know how to move when life tries to stop us. To do this we must learn to recognize the triggers that cause us to fall back into genetic or pre-programmed training instead of making our own pure choice.

1. If I’m angry and I do not reveal it, it will turn into frustration, which will make me incapable of handling any unwanted surprise.

2. If I feel cheated and don’t voice my concerns, I will accidentally look for ways to diminish the ego of others to match my depleted profile.

3. If I’m tired of trying, I will stop doing the necessary steps that make my effort productive and start acting entitled.

4. If I believe that I’m supposed to find my enemies in order to isolate and avoid them instead of love them and overcome them with wisdom, then I will become paranoid and find myself making new adversaries.

Even those evangelicals who fear Satan and his wiles need to realize that the punishment of the Serpent in the Garden of Eden was to be cast down to Earth. In other words, evil has to work with Earth-bound fussiness to get at the believer.

So any way you look at it, the more you prepare for life by choreographing an emotional outlook that is not shocked by the arrival of setbacks, the better the chance that you can conquer problems–whether you believe they are natural or supernatural.

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