Good News and Better News… September 25th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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From my expression in the picture, you might think I’m sad. Not so.

Actually, I’m just thoughtful.

I am at a complete loss at knowing why God enjoys working with humans. I don’t get it. He favors us, He loves us, He trusts us to communicate His ideas. I, for one, would have selected talking raccoons–unusually clean and cute.

But not God. No–people.

Because that is the case, it is useless to ask Him to kill off our enemies. We become absolute jerks when we wish that tragedy or difficulty would befall those who stand against us. And certainly, we are fools in attempting to make some folks less valuable.

Since we’re not going to change God’s mind about His devotion for the human race, we all need to develop a plan. Otherwise we will literally find ourselves outside God’s will.

How can we trust people who are just as devious as we are if we actually admitted we were? What is the game plan going forward?

  • Bigotry has failed.
  • Culture is just another way of expressing bigotry.
  • Politics has created the “great divide.”
  • And religion fosters self-righteousness.

The truth of the matter is, if I can wrap my mind around being a “work in progress,” I might just be able to allow you to be one, too.

If I think that because Mommy and Daddy raised me and I bought a house and I pay my bills and stand up for the National Anthem, that there isn’t much for me to learn, then I will probably be a thorn in the side of my fellow-travelers.

Springing from that thoughtful expression came the following conclusions:

1. Start telling the truth.

Who knows? It might catch on. Make it a game. Every time you lie, deduct a dessert from your menu. And even if it doesn’t become a fad, at least you can tell yourself that you aren’t a liar.

2. Divide the world into two groups–people you know and people you don’t know yet.

Any further division is prejudice.

3. Don’t be afraid of what comes out of you.

Some of it will be crap. Some of it will be inspirational. If you’re willing to sift, question, converse and contemplate your feelings instead of embracing them as long-lost relatives, you have a chance of catching your own insanity before it races down the street naked, offending others.

The good news is that because you are a “people” you get included in the blessing that God loves the world.

The better news is, if you will just sit down and consider your life instead of shouting it through a bull horn, you might just end up justifying His faith in all of us.Donate Button

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Good News and Better News… June 19th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dislike–deciding to “diss” liking.

In the pursuit of what we call love, and even unconditional love, we’ve reached a point where we just don’t like each other anymore. We have the appearance of Atlas carrying the world on our shoulders because we feel compelled by our civilized natures to be as calm as possible.

We “diss” liking. We claim great affection for souls around us while privately rolling our eyes, communicating that they are annoying.

So when I arrived yesterday morning at the Ruskin United Methodist Church, I was looking for people who like each other. Because here’s the truth–a paraphrase of John the Apostle: I don’t think you can love God if you don’t like people.

It seems that God is really proud of His creation.

I know we portray an anxious deity, constantly perturbed over our sins, but since He gave us the ability and even the permission, I seriously doubt that He will be terribly upset when we occasionally go errant.

The greatest arrogance, the most self-righteousness, and perhaps the sin of all sins, is to believe that human beings are not worth liking.

  • It’s in our government.
  • It’s in our religious system.
  • It’s in our movies.

We are training ourselves to be suspicious, and failing to acquire great moments of human fellowship that just demand a little bit of mercy and grace.

I’m not one to advocate looking in the rear view mirror and assuming that the past was better than the present, but I will tell you, if there was any era when people were given the chance to excel without being pre-judged, then we might want to reach back into that span of time and regain some of that tenderness.

For the good news is, God likes people.

And the better news is, He loves those who like them, too.

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 5) Mercy … January 3rd. 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

Our greatest fear is having our weakness exposed to others. To avoid this horror, we pursue positive attitudes, lies, anger, defensiveness, deceit, prayer and self-righteousness.

Yes, the absence of candor is the open door to deception. And when we are dishonest about our true selves, we have the ugly by-product of prejudice, which robs us of our better nature.

Why do we become prejudiced? In order to keep the attention away from the beam sticking out of our own eye, we try to bring focus to the speck in our brother’s eye.

So I can tell you of a certainty, honesty has a little brother and its name is mercy.

Without honesty, we feel no need whatsoever to be merciful, but spend all of our time drafting plans to escape notice of our vice. And maybe it’s not even a vice–perhaps it’s just a piece of us that requires grace instead of criticism.

It is time to become reasonable.

If the Gospel of Jesus does not afford us the humanity to confess our faults one to another, then it merely is a temporary pain-killer, or worse, a dangerous diversion.

Here’s a beautiful process–maybe better phrased, a way of thinking that actually produces thought:

  1. I have a weakness.
  2. You have a weakness.
  3. We have weaknesses.
  4. Therefore, we choose mercy.

If I do not believe I have a weakness, I certainly will not tolerate your peccadilloes. And if I discover that you are weak and I am unwilling to admit my weakness, then I will focus on yours and attack you for having it.

Thus, mercy is avoided, ignored and cast aside.

A world without mercy is always a lie, ready to be prosecuted.

For it will only take you a few moments after you meet me to discover that I have weaknesses, whether I confess them or not. It will not take me any longer to uncover yours.

So the only advantage we have is to get in front of these revelations by admitting that we have weaknesses, encouraging others to make the same confession, and then humbly allowing mercy to do its healing work through understanding and the passage of time.

Nothing happens until we realize how weak we are.

Strength is not owned; it is given by humbly admitting weakness.

 

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Ask Jonathots… October 8th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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ask jonathots bigger

I’m in a group of co-workers who play sports together–a great bunch of guys. Here’s the problem: one of the guys in the group lies to our boss at work all the time. He lies about being sick. He lies about relatives being sick. He lies to take unwarranted credit for work. He thinks that because we have this “sports connection” that no one would ever turn him in. So far no one has. I’m going to confront him about this. Suggestions on the best way to do it?

Here’s my suggestion on the best way to do it: don’t.

Any form of self-righteousness is actually doomed to failure, and truthfully, will prolong the evil you are trying to expose.

Built into the natural order is a system which protects us from destruction by unveiling the stupidity and mistakes of those who dare to ignore honest relationship.

In other words, it’s against the laws of nature to be a jerk.

Sometimes it takes a week for these individuals to be caught in their error, sometimes a year. But you will never successfully turn in a traitor or an offender and be considered anything less than a pious baby.

Here’s what I would suggest you do:

1. Make it clear to everyone, including him, that you are not party to deception.

2. Tell your friend that you will not judge him for his actions, but you will also not cover his butt if he gets caught.

3. Make sure that you are never at the scene of the crime.

In other words, proximity to his lies may actually convict you as a participant. When you know he is starting something ridiculous, step away.

4. Quietly leave a trail of sincerity and honesty at the feet of your boss so that if push comes to shove there will be no doubt as to your veracity.

Human beings make two major mistakes: they either give in to temptation and absorb the iniquity around them, or they foolishly think it’s their job to clean up the planet by pointing out all the sinfulness.

Don’t do either.

Believe me when I say that arrogance, indifference and deceit always get caught … and always get punished.

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Jesonian: Easy Does It … August 23rd, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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corn in hand

Into a world filled with self-righteousness, power struggles and idiotic inclinations, Jesus of Nazareth walked on the scene with a simple message.

Easy does it and lighten up.

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Leadership hated him for it.

Making truth accessible to the masses and suggesting that it is not that difficult to attain does not endear you to those who make a living out of turning every situation into a quandary.

No mortal receives benefit when we demand divine effort.

Interestingly enough, right after he shared these thoughts of “easy does it” and “lighten up,” he was confronted by a situation which embodied the whole dilemma.

You see, his disciples were walking through a field of corn and they were hungry. Common sense said not to stand around and bitch, but rather, to pick some of the nourishment.

Logical enough, right?

But posted nearby were those religious leaders who made a living from “straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel.” They criticized the disciples and Jesus for the action, citing that the Law of God demanded that the Sabbath be honored by declining to take care of human needs.

Jesus’ answer is a spiritual classic.

He explained that throughout history, whenever noble men and women of mission found themselves without provision, rather than standing on ceremony, they used what was available instead of complaining to the heavens about their lack.

He said that King David even ate the holy bread from the Temple and gave it to his soldiers when there was a gnawing at their innards.

But Jesus didn’t leave it there. He told the Pharisees that everything revolves around one principle: God will have mercy, not sacrifice.

Because if you find yourself feeling sacrificial, restricted, bound and intimidated by religious fervor, very soon … you will end up condemning the guiltless folks who walk amongst you.

 

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Jesonian: The Look of Love… July 26th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Young Robert Downey Jr.

Having just finished rebuking his disciples for trying to chase away the little children, Jesus takes the tots in his arms, lays his hands on them and blesses them.

But more importantly, he tells us that they are the true definition of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Yes, I can always tell when people are truly unspiritual, craggy and have a dying spirit. They’re critical of young humans.

God loves young people.

Matter of fact, in this particular passage of about 20 verses in the Gospel of Mark, we see that Jesus makes this forever clear–because not only does he express great warmth and tenderness to the little children, but immediately afterwards, when a young man arrives, asking questions about how to obtain eternal life, he channels that same affection toward this adolescent.

We refer this chap as “the rich young ruler.”

He is respectful. He is complimentary. But he is dissatisfied.

The things he has been taught have not brought him peace of mind nor a sense of purpose.

The scripture tells us that Jesus looks on him and loves him.

The average churchgoer would think that this is not unusual. Doesn’t Jesus love everybody?

But Jesus didn’t constantly manifest “the look of love.” He was often pissed with hypocrisy, angry with indifference, rebuking self-righteousness, and looking around the room befuddled because people were so unwilling to see other folks healed just because “it wasn’t the right time.”

Matter of fact, this is one of the few times that the Bible tells us that Jesus gave someone “the look of love.”

What did he love about this young man?

  1. The kid was still searching.
  2. The dude was looking for something good instead of something bad.
  3. The young man had faithfully followed what he had been taught to be true.
  4. But he had the sense to search for more.

What a great combo.

But Jesus gave him a gift. He offered a simple principle:

Learning stuff is not enough.

Investing your heart is where to start.

He told the young man that he should take his money and get rid of it–give it away to the poor, and make a new beginning.

For after all, even following our theological interpretation of him being a “rich young ruler,” if he forfeited his riches for a season, he was still young and he was still a ruler. He had plenty of time to make his money back again, and because he ruled over people, he could acquire their taxes and ingenuity. He could learn once again how to do it from scratch, and therefore rediscover his abilities and passion.

He didn’t want to do it. He walked away sadly.

It’s a great story, and it links up beautifully with Jesus blessing the children.

The young humans that surround us are the hope of finding the better parts of our message and applying them emotionally–not just spiritually.

Jesus looked on him and he loved him. He realized there was still a chance.

All the young fellow needed to do was accept that religious stuff was not enough–our heart is where it must start. 

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Three Ways to Be Wanted … November 6, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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wanted cropped

Everybody yearns to be wanted.

Are there universal aspects of human behavior that make us more appealing to the tribe than others? Of course there are.

So it’s ridiculous to continue to preach a gospel of individuality when a certain amount of conformity is necessary for us to get along and succeed with our brothers and sisters.

So let me offer three suggestions on how to make yourself more wanted by friends, and even strangers.

1. Stop complaining.

I mean, completely. And when you do slip up and begin to grump and growl, catch it and apologize. It’s a piece of self-righteousness that we must acquire, otherwise we will find ourselves hanging around with folks who believe that complaining is an option rather than a vice.

To identify what complaining is, let me give you a definition: Complaining is when your expectation has been dashed and detoured by reality and you still feel you have the right to an opinion.

You don’t, I don’t and neither does anyone else.

One of the most appealing aspects of human character which draws people your way is a reputation for “taking one on the chin” without bruising up for a week.

2. Start listening and remembering.

Some people say they’re good listeners, but they’re horrible at remembering.

  • If people tell you they don’t like pickles, don’t keep serving them.
  • If you hear that someone is searching for a specific item and you run across it, buy it and present it to them.

We extol the virtue of listening, but it is a useless attribute if we don’t allow the information to become part of our conscious memory.

Listen–yes indeed, but more importantly, remember the preferences, deeds and desires of others.

3. Pick a mood.

You don’t have to be happy all the time. But you do have to land on a general temperament which people can trust. Even though we may not admit it, we get frustrated by folks who are high one day and “in the pit” the next. Matter of fact, we tend to become amateur psychiatrists, diagnosing what their condition might be.

Unless you have a neurological disorder or a mental illness, your moodiness is your choice.

All of us desire to be wanted. But to achieve this status, we must pack our knapsack with the kind of supplies that make us valuable on this great camp-out called life.

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