Jesonian–Troubling (Part 10)… September 2nd, 2017

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Troubling.

In the Gospel of John, the 9th Chapter, the disciples of Jesus get into a rather frumpy, cheesy, theological mood and approach Jesus with a question.

They had come upon a gentleman who was blind from birth, and they officiously asked the Master whether this happened to him due to his own sin, or the sin of his parents?

Keep in mind–these are the same fellows who had seen water turned into wine, five thousand folks fed with five loaves and two fishes, demons cast out and the dead raised. Yet when it comes to discussing the nature, tenderness, mind-set and intellect of God, they revert back to their small-village, Sunday School mentality.

They made two errors:

First, they contended that God punishes people for their sins. Nothing could be further from the truth. And Jesus made it clear–good things happen to good people and bad people, and bad things happen to everyone equally. (Otherwise, there would be great impetus to be good instead of bad, just to garner the material blessing.)

The second mistake was that they believed that people were “born a certain way.” Obviously, this notion permeates our society as well. We are convinced people are born athletes, born musicians, born leaders, born dexterous…shall I go on? We take comfort in the assertion because it gives us all an excuse for not taking the abilities we see in ourselves and multiplying them to make our lives more abundant.

These two completely errant ideas were put forth by these Galileans two thousand years ago–ideas which are still an intricate part of the doctrinal DNA of the average Christian.

  • “Don’t sin or God will punish you.”
  • And “you are destined to be something by birth.”

I think it is important to note Jesus’ response. He completely dismisses both possibilities. He makes it clear that God doesn’t punish people for their sins–and especially not for the sins of their parents. And he also says that destiny is a myth because free will is extolled throughout the Universe as the “go-to plan.”

You can’t have both free will and destiny. They do not co-habitate. Even though you may have a certain genetic makeup, it does not overtake you and turn you into something you do not choose to be.

It is also why the Bible makes it clear that part of the salvation experience is to be “born again”–becoming a new creature in Christ.

Jesus said that God was not punishing anyone, and that the man was not born blind. He said that blindness was in his life so that God could be made manifest through him in a unique way.

There’s nothing wrong with taking what seems to be a weakness and turning it into a strength so that God might receive glory. This blind man is not complaining; he is not joining into the theological discussion about his plight. Matter of fact, he’s not even begging to be healed.

He has found a place in his place to make a place for every place he goes.

That’s our job.

I was dealt a certain hand and so were you. Now, through the blessing of free will, I have the ability to turn those circumstances to the positive instead of internalizing them to complain about my pain.

It is troubling that we still have a church that believes if bad things happen to people, the people must be bad–and that we live in a society which insists we were all “born” with a certain destiny.

God gave us free will. We can deny it and wait for Him to plan our lives, only to discover that He doesn’t do that, and our time on Earth has slipped away.

Or we can take a look at what we have–an inventory, if you will–and see what great things we can accomplish–simply by stepping forward instead of backward.

 

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 23rd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Pay Me No Mind

Many many years ago

We fought a war in “Koreo”

I’m curious, did anybody win?

Who cares–let’s do it again.

 

Perhaps you did not know

Lincoln freed the Negro

Is he really free?

Hail the Confederacy.

 

Muslims hate the Jews

Over who is the Chosen Fews

It is really very sad

Since they both have the same Dad

 

Women have been here since dust

To make a child she is a must

Is she declared an equal?

Hang around for the sequel.

 

We had a war on drugs

Arrested and jailed many thugs

But children still take the bluff

And overdose on poisonous stuff.

 

All the leaders lie to us

Pushing freedom to the back of the bus

But no one has any real sparks

We sure could use Rosa Parks.

 

If blue lives matter

And black lives shatter

Can you hear the clatter?

Wall Street’s fatter

 

Everything new is old again

Tainted by rickety sin

Or portrayed to be the common good

Considering the could, ignoring the should

 

I am just a goof, you see

A dreamer in search of integrity

So march in step with the blind

And for God’s sake, pay me no mind.

 

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Good News and Better News… May 15th, 2017

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People are afraid of dying–even God-loving folks.

There are those individuals who insist they have no fear of journeying to the Great Beyond, but that is only because the Angel of Death is not presently circulating in their neighborhood, soliciting souls.

Realizing that this fear of death was in place, Jesus comforted his disciples by saying, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

What a magnificent statement–a balmy breeze of tenderness.

Yet I must tell you, the average religious organization in this country takes the basic fear we have of dying and scares the hell into us. Rather than comforting, they offer another apprehension–eternal damnation.

So now, because we are afraid of dying, and also of hell, we have a great tremor of anxiety over sin.

Am I sinning?

What is sin?

Do I sin more or less than you?

Can I cover up my sin so it doesn’t seem to be sin at all?

Am I more afraid of sinning, or getting caught with my pants in some unexplainable position?

We are supposedly born again, Spirit-inspired people, who are afraid of dying, hell and now sin.

But that’s not enough for the religious ramblers–the trepidation must be hammered into our souls.

So they begin to make congregations afraid of sinners. The notion is promoted that this sin thing can “rub off on ya'” if you get too close to it or accidentally condone it by refusing to judge people instead of condemn them.

In other words, you might be in danger of dying and going to hell because of the sin of loving sinners.

But that must be the end, right? No. There is one last fear stuck into the backpack of every hapless religious camper. Since dying is coming and there’s a hell to be avoided, which means you have to run from sin and the sinner, it’s just best to play it safe and be afraid of living.

We start sprouting nasty statements.

“Let’s not try that.”

“That might not be of God.”

“Let’s play it safe.”

“Until we see somebody else do it, let’s back off.”

“God may be more forgiving than we think, but just in case, let’s take away all semblance of joy in our worship, freedom in our walk and thought to our theology.”

So we have nervous ninnies serving a nit-picking Nazarene.

Consider: Jesus was in a boat when a squall came up on the Sea of Galilee. He was asleep. Matter of fact, they had to wake him up and tell him how desperate the situation was, because he had cuddled into his pillow. He did not rebuke the storm. First he asked the disciples why they were afraid. He told them to “be of good cheer.”

There you go.

Church of the Lord Jesus, why are you so damned afraid, and how about a little good cheer?

Here’s the good news–Jesus wants you to stop being afraid, followed by the better news: less fear, more love, more life and more love of living.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … April 26th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Shadow People

Tiptoe through the room

With a sense of gloomy doom

The message of the day

Has already slipped away

Leaving a darkened view

Instead of a holy renew

Peering for the sinister

Ignoring the need to minister

They wander to their wonder

To dwell upon the blunder

Energized by the pain

Pleased that all’s insane

They whisper to the hearer

Attacking those much dearer

Destroying a reputation

With distorted information

While insisting it is good

What God “would” and “should”

Piously shaking their head

Parsing the words that were said

Is there evil about?

Can we cast some doubt?

There is too much joy in this place

So it is balanced by their frowning face

The Shadow People always arrive

When revival threatens to come alive

And they dim the light of contentment

By pointing toward some resentment

We can never let them go

We just pray that they will grow

But evil thrives in their glance

Destroy your hope if they have the chance

The Shadow People will come again

To douse the fire and find the sin

They speak in tongues with no understanding

Critical of others and always demanding.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … April 12th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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A Goddam Hill

I’ll bring the nails

You get the wood

The plan never fails

Who thinks it should?

He plays the hurt one

Toying with fire

Claimed he was God’s son

What a fuckin’ liar

I’ll find the place

You smack his face

Plenty of blood to drink

Never the time to think

Man lives by bread alone

We are merely flesh and bone

Shut the hell up about your heaven

First there’s four, five, six and seven

Give me that spear

I’ll stab the queer

Your putrid love

Is cursed by fear

Die today

For all the sin

Then on Sunday

Pronounce your win

Bring the whip

I’ll do the beating

Losing my grip

Passion is fleeting

Why won’t he leave me

In my misery?

Die, you feckless teacher

Alone, sucking for air

Be silent, ragged preacher

The world does not care

We are filth, a moral flirt

Squeezed together from the dirt

We are nothing but skin and trash

Shut your mouth, take the lash

We just won’t, can’t you see?

We just can’t, leave us be

Yet the stranger of Galilee

Continues to smile at me

Though wracked with pain

He will never refrain

So we murdered a King

On a goddam hill

Let his praises ring

For he trusts us still.

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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 … January 5th, 2017

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How important is self-esteem?

Damaged people.

They are everywhere.

It would be foolish not to include ourselves.

But as important as it is to acknowledge the damage, it is even more essential to prescribe the correct repair.

Self-esteem is like going out and buying a large picture to hang over the hole in your wall. It is not a solution, but rather, a temporary fix.

Self-esteem functions under three very dangerous premises:

1. Because you were born, you matter.

2. There’s no one quite like you.

3. Therefore, you are special.

This particular “candy-bar philosophy” has no grounding in reality.

There are concepts, however, which have proven to have longevity. For instance, the Bible says:

  • All have sinned.
  • There’s none righteous.
  • Whosoever will may come.
  • God is no respecter of persons.

A completely different approach.

In self-esteem, we are encouraged to ignore our problems and deny our commonality. Unfortunately, if everybody is special, then nobody’s special. If everybody matters, then it’s difficult to get personal attention.

So what should we be trying to achieve? Self awareness.

I have some good.

I have some bad.

I have some lazy.

I have some worry.

I have some fret.

I have some genetic predispositions.

I have family.

I have responsibilities.

I have real pressure.

I have phony pressure.

I also have my present talent so I can launch my solutions.

If we cannot be self-aware about our status, we will lean on “puffy” principles, which make us appear more grounded than we actually are.

When we remove the pressure to be right and eliminate the need to be the center of attention, we can begin to understand that the Earth works when we allow place for each other.

Thus, sometimes we’re the head and on other occasions, the tail.

Ironically, self-esteem robs us of the worth we could possess by taking on simple tasks using our ability–and basking in the joy of completion.

Here is the essence of self-awareness:

We are saved by grace.

But we are distinguished by service.

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