Jesonian… June 24th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3348)

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“Go.”

But where?

Into all the world, Jesus said as he was about to ascend into Heaven.

Although most theologians like to focus on the Ascension based upon Jesus’ arrival to “sit at the right hand of God the Father,” I would like to discuss what we have called the “great commission”–to go into all the world.

Was it not actually the ludicrous commission? After all, Jesus had traveled with his twelve disciples for three-and-a-half years. He knew they were Jewish, bigoted, disrespectful of women, indifferent to children and completely bound to their home base. How could he possibly anticipate that these immovable religious boys could ever take a message anywhere?

There were three keys to the success of the early church:

  • The Holy Spirit
  • The Apostle Paul
  • The destruction of Jerusalem

If you remove any one of these elements, Christianity becomes a cult of Judaism, therefore suffering the fate of the Jews when the Romans destroyed their Temple.

Peter, Andrew and John had no intention of doing anything but hanging around Jerusalem and aggravating the Pharisees. (You may notice that I left out James because early on he mouthed off and lost his head–literally.)

So the Holy Spirit arrived on the Day of Pentecost and gave Peter the boldness to speak about the murder of the Messiah in front of Jews visiting from all over the known world. Three thousand of them were saved that day, went back to their homes and began the process of reaching the entire planet.

Meanwhile, a Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus became quite adept at killing Christians, therefore terrorizing them. He was on his way to crippling the movement when Jesus signed him up on the road to Damascus, to take the message to the Gentiles. Why? Because the original twelve were not going to do it.

And even though Paul was a Pharisee, he was a rabble rouser–a fire-brand of intellectual and spiritual energy. He found himself criticizing the original disciples because they would not eat with the Gentiles, deeming themselves better.

Paul took the Gospel to the Greeks, and since the Romans always followed everything the Greeks did, they made excellent evangelists. He ended his life in Rome, teaching, knowing that the Romans were going to reach the Germanic tribes and the Germanic tribes would evangelize the Angles and Saxons, and the Angles and Saxons were going to climb into boats, land on rocks near Plymouth and begin a new nation called America, which would generate the technology to reach the whole world.

To ensure that those “stay-at-home disciples” would eventually leave Jerusalem and follow in Paul’s footsteps, Jesus warned them about the coming destruction of Jerusalem–to make sure they left town before the Romans arrived with their deadly foreclosure.

By 70 A. D. there was no Jewish synagogue, race or movement. Christianity survived because the followers of Jesus literally “headed for the hills.”

In the process of touting the power of prayer, the value of meditation and the worth of Bible study, we need to understand that Jesus intended us to be a “go” people.

He wanted us to view the world as a whole instead of just our little village, and he desired that his children would be the most tolerant, non-bigoted, caring and clever people on the face of the Earth.

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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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Good News and Better News … July 4th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2992)

Good News Effort 1He was Saul of Tarsus, who after a dramatic Damascan conversion, began to travel the ancient empire under the stage name, Paul the Apostle.

He once said, “By grace you are saved through faith.”

Little did he know that this quote would become one of his greatest hits. Matter of fact, the doctrine of grace, which emerged from this statement, is preached every Sunday.

The validity of the statement is powerful. The salvation of our souls is a free gift from God through the love, mercy and sacrifice of Jesus. It blooms the potential of eternal life. But it doesn’t tell us what we’re supposed to do with our emotions, brains and bodies through this process called human life.

Because those who live on grace, hoping it will cover a multitude of their annoying practices, do very little to promote the expanse of the Christian message.

This came to me yesterday when I arrived at the Effort United Methodist Church near the Poconos in Pennsylvania.Good News Effort 2

Effort.

What a great word.

It is ridiculous to think that Jesus took the time to preach the Sermon on the Mount about character, bearing fruit, loving your neighbor, avoiding hypocrisy, channeling your lust and respecting the planet if he wanted us to merely lounge on the cushion of grace.

Belief in Jesus does give you salvation, but to live on Planet Earth, we require sanity. Sanity is achieved by accepting the Gospel of Jesus to free us from fret, worry, pride, prejudice, anger and fear. It simplifies our emotions so that our minds can be renewed and we can gain strength.

Religion does not grant us this peace.

Religion wants to give comfort to the convert and condemnation to the world.

It’s when we take grace and blend it with effort that we meld the alloy of faith–certainly trust in God, but also reliance on “Christ in me, the hope of glory.”

In the long run, there are two salvations–there is the salvation that is a free gift of God through acceptance of Jesus.

Good News Effort 3And there is a salvation which each one of us, individually, “works out with fear and trembling” as we journey, simplifying our lives with joy and understanding.

I had a monumental time yesterday with the folks in Effort.

They did put up an effort.

They showed up on July 4th weekend, when they could have gotten by with “pew hookey.”

They listened to this stranger expose new ideas about abundant life.

And they allowed themselves to be impacted rather than insisting that grace eliminates any need to learn.

The good news is that we are saved by grace through faith.

But the better news is that we save our sanity by taking the beautiful Gospel of Jesus and putting some Effort into it.

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G-35: Purposeful… August 1, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2309)

Roman Empire

It took four hundred years to arrive at the right hour.

During that time, the Greeks, the Macedonians, the Persians and the Carthaginians struggled for control over the piece of the world which is now blithely referred to as “the Holy Land.”

Yet rather than expanding the vision of the planet or becoming more inclusive, it seemed, during this juncture of time, that the earth shrank. Matter of fact, to many of those who had been created by the Emerging Father, life was defined as Jerusalem plus a hundred miles in every direction.

No one was aware there were seven continents. None of them had any idea of the discoveries of the Chinese, the intellect of the African, the industrious nature of the North American natives or the creativity of the Angles, Saxons, Mongols and Huns.

The hour was not right.

To do something purposeful, there had to be the right climate, attitudes and vehicle to propel the message–not just to circumcised Bedouins, but to the whole earth.

Then came Rome.

The Roman Empire was fully aware that the earth was larger than just the small territory around the Holy City. They were prepared to travel as far as land or sea would offer, to discover new people and new opportunities.

Even though their motivations for such a journey may be questionable, they still provided a passage to the world. With the Roman Empire arriving in Mesopotamia, it was now the season to make a move.

  • For after all, it would be the Romans who would introduce culture and commerce to the rest of mankind.
  • It would be a Roman citizen named Saul of Tarsus who would eventually carry the purposed message into the far-reaching provinces.
  • It would be an Italian-Roman named Marco Polo who traversed to China, climbing over the great walls to create connection.
  • And it would be an Italian of Roman descent who would take three ships and discover the New World–Christopher Columbus.

The notion that the Creator is merely a dreamer or Spirit with no sense of science, geography or history is a foolhardy misconception. For He waited patiently for the right era, to share a message of Fatherhood and brotherhood which could travel into the deepest recesses of Planet Earth.

Now, the next question … how to do it? 

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