Good News and Better News … March 26th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I was honored to spend a week high in the mountains of Colorado with friends. It was many years ago, when I was traveling all over the country, pretending I was significant and well-known.

Although I was grateful for the invitation, within the first 48 hours I realized that the altitude was making me uneasy. It was a weird sensation.

I was breathing but it seemed I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. It made my backbone tingle with apprehension. I couldn’t sleep because I was a bit frightened that I was breathless, even though there was no evidence of that fact.

The air was too thin–at least, for me.

When I finished the visit and descended, I immediately lost all my symptoms and felt like I was actually getting air into my body. It was markedly different.

Emotionally and spiritually, I feel much the same way in our country today. I am still getting some respiration to my heart and spirit but it is not a sensation of breathing. It’s more like suffocating. The climate is too thin with substance to sustain any of us.

Human beings are not complicated–if you think they are, you should go back to the drawing board and view their inception.

Humans require two distinct pieces of input:

1. To be inspired

That means the things that come into our lives should enrich us. Even if we find them challenging, we should be fully aware that our experiences are lifting us up on the shoulders of new possibilities. There is no replacement for this.

What we are given in our culture is a warped representation of reality, which we are supposed to accept as inevitable evidence that human beings are nothing more than animals. It is demeaning. It leaves us gasping for hope.

2. To be entertained.

By entertainment I am referring to finding joy in what we do instead of trudging along in an “adult life” which is predetermined to be problematic.

It is the joy of the Lord that’s our strength. Even though weeping may come into our lives, it should not endure. There should be an awakening every morning, to fresh ideas.

We are not allowed to be entertained anymore, but instead, overwhelmed. The powers that be tout that we are in the “information age,” but the data provided is rarely uplifting, but instead, debilitates us with the wickedness of the world around us.

Just as I had to escape the thin air to be able to breathe again, it is the responsibility of sane men and women everywhere to refuse the inadequate sniff of experience being proffered as truth.

The good news is that we are human beings, and therefore we need to be inspired and entertained.

The better news is, the God who created us sent His son to tell us to “rejoice and be exceedingly glad.”

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 11)… September 9th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3425)

jesonian-cover-amazon

Most troubling.

I was a very naive, impressionable fifteen-year-old boy with a volatile battle between carnality and spirituality raging in my soul. I was very enamored with the pastor of my local church.

He had baptized me. In many ways, he had befriended me. And he had welcomed me into the small-town church, which was now growing because young people were bumping up against each other, carrying the fellowship they felt at school into a second Sunday morning experience.

I had also made another friend. He was a young minister from a different denomination–a forbidden one–who was cool, cared about me and loved rock and roll music.

So when I was talking to the pastor of my “every week church” about this young fellow, he suddenly frowned and warned, “Stay away from him. He preaches a social gospel.

I did not know what that meant, nor did I ask. But it sounded really bad. And the delivery was enough to nearly make my heart stop. “Social” could be “socialist,” which was communist. Don’t want any of that. So I cut off all ties with the young minister, much to his chagrin.

For you see, my pastor taught redemption. “The blood of Christ cleanses from all sins.”

And later on in my life, as a young man, I ran across those who preached “the full Gospel.” They believed that the gifts of the Holy Spirit and miracles were just as available to believers today as they were in the time of Peter, Paul and Mother Mary.

The bizarre fact is that these three renditions of the Gospel of Jesus–social, redemption, and full–don’t generally get along very well.

It is troubling.

It’s what makes the evangelical church anemic–because it lacks social passion along with personal motivation.

It makes the “social Gospel people” appear to read from a book that in many ways they no longer believe in.

And often the “full Gospel people” contend that without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you don’t have the presence of God working in your life.

It’s really quite befuddling.

  • Because you can’t start a fire with just a match.
  • Nor can you ignite a flame with kindling.
  • And no fire is possible minus oxygen.

It is the joining of all these forces that makes fire ablaze.

Therefore, to follow Jesus, you must have a social consciousness that shares a redemptive message, believing that God is still in the business of healing and moving by the Spirit.

Why would we want anything less than that? Why would we want to focus on one of these factors of fire, yet end up flameless?

Troubling.

I deeply believe in the social Gospel of Jesus. I believe there’s no need for me to bring my gift to the altar if I am not reconciled with my brothers and sisters. I believe I am to be the salt of the Earth and the light of the world.

But I also believe that when I have obvious, evident weakness, it is the redemption of God’s grace, through the life-saving blood of Jesus, that pulls me through. But once I am redeemed, I am compelled, challenged and exhorted to trust that the same spirit that dwelt in Christ also dwells in me.

My gospel should be full.

And when it is full, redemptive and socially aware, I become of value to myself, mankind and the heavens.

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Good News and Better News… May 22nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3314)

There’s a question hanging in the air, waiting for a brain to slurp it up and a tongue to dribble it off. If it isn’t expressed, we will continue to live in a world of assumptions.

I am not speaking of answers. I’m talking about beliefs people hold because of the dark side of their experiences and the edge of prejudice maintained from their upbringing.

Ask the question. If possible, ask it without being disgusted. Inquire with a thirst for knowledge instead of attempting to trick someone into saying something you can leap upon in anger.

The church has lost its questioning. Out of fear of making waves, we have decided to just never get in the boat. We stand on the shore and curse the ocean because it seems unchangeable. Yet there is an energy in the air. While people are despairing, sparring and spitting, the Holy Spirit is quietly seeking out those who will question and wait for the answers.

It sounds simple enough.

It even seems to have a spirituality unto itself. After all, Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given.” He never said, “Assume and you will be proven.” Jesus believed you could seek and find, and even, with a bit of perseverance, knock and have the door opened.

What Jesus never intended for his church was a gathering of smug converts who assume that getting their butts in the door was the last thing necessary to fulfill the quorum for the pearly gates.

Here’s the truth: you can join the church if you are a questioner. Even if it aggravates the worship committee, you can continue to pose questions in pursuit of finding a better way of doing things.

Likewise, you are certainly welcome in the church if you have answers as long as they are well-salted with humility and lit up with evidence.

But nowhere at any time did Jesus welcome the complainer. The complaint will be the death of the American church if we don’t call it out and exorcise that demon from the sanctuary.

How can you tell when someone’s complaining?

1. There’s an absence of a question.

They may speak to you for ten minutes about the problem, but never formulate an inquiry.

2. There is a complete denial of an answer.

They begin to enjoy hearing the sound of their own voice lamenting the difficulty–and if anyone suggests a solution, they will bury the notion as “impossible” so as to maintain their frustration.

3. They’ve rejected good cheer in favor of a bad sneer.

They think it’s ridiculous to maintain joy in the midst of difficulty and transition.

Beware complainers who pretend they have answers or insist they are just questioning.

The good news is that questions are always welcome in the Kingdom of God.

The better news is that answers will come if we don’t grump our way to fatalism.

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Ask Jonathots… September 15th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I truly don’t understand what the big deal is about sex. I haven’t figured out why people think your sex related decisions define you. Is it just because a) you’re naked, and b) it’s how babies are created?

There is a simple problem in our country:

Those who believe in God fail to honor science, and those who revere science find it necessary to turn their backs on God.

There seem to be relatively few people who understand that a Creative Father felt the need to establish an order through Mother Nature.

With that in mind, let’s address your question.

  • When do people mature sexually? Somewhere between the age of 13 and 15.
  • When do we think people should get married? Late twenties, or some folks even think early 30’s.

So in our culture there are fifteen years of sexual viability which is supposed to be stuffed away in a closet in preparation for marriage, or stumbled into through carnal experimentation made dangerous through immaturity and disease.

We really have to make up our minds. Are we going to continue to believe that people are children until they’re thirty, or are we going to establish an earlier emotional awareness to match the sexual awakening?

Sex is a big deal because people either pretend it’s sacred or just “a physical experience.” Since human beings may be the only species in which both male and female have the capacity for pleasure outside of procreation, we should probably emphasize the pleasure side of sexuality instead of insisting that God has belabored the girl with birth and the boy with “killing the game and dragging it back to the fire.”

What is sex? It is a physical experience producing a burst of pleasure which is also used by our species for procreation.

So if you have no intention of procreating, then you should be looking for ways to tap the pleasure without becoming irresponsible.

If your intention is to procreate, then you probably need to do what all the animals on Earth do–find a way to nest with your mate to take care of your baby birds.

You have to make up your mind:

Are we just animals or is there more to us than that?

Are we just spiritual or do we possess a bit of animal?

Sexuality can never be casual because we’re not just tigers. It can also never be considered completely spiritual–it’s too easy to do and we really don’t do it any different from the monkeys.

So what’s the best answer for you?

Get a mature look at both your physical evolution and your emotional responsibility. You will never be able to have sex without having some inclination toward an emotional union.

Avoid the stupidity of the religious, who make the joining of the penis and the vagina some sort of holy oracle.

And also escape the worldly, who view it as a common crossroads of human interaction.

In the long run we will have to teach our children to mature more quickly–or else not be so concerned that they start “probing the parts.”

For after all, even the Pope knows that nobody’s going to arrive at twenty-nine years of age a virgin.

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Ask Jonathots… August 25th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I want my kids to have a spiritual upbringing but I don’t feel comfortable with a lot of the churches available to us. How do I ensure that I am instilling spirituality in their lives?

Your question is really in two parts.

First, what should I do about the church, and second, how do I instill spirituality in my kids?

Let me start with the second question. There are three steps to true spirituality:

1. What do I truly believe?

I will tell you something shocking. The less you believe in, the better the chance will be that you will follow it.

This is why, in the Good Book, the entire sixty-six units boil down to a single phrase: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The truth is, when you love your neighbor as yourself, you’re already putting into practice at least fifty principles. But if you focus on loving your neighbor as yourself, you will be honoring a thousand ideas.

2. How does what I believe affect me?

The absence of an abundant life is the presence of a crappy belief system. It was Jesus who said that fruit would be borne in our lives through what we believe. If you are miserable, irritable, grouchy, complaining, bigoted, self-centered, short-sighted and selfish, you probably need to go shopping for a new belief.

3. How does my belief affect others?

Our belief was never intended to be a preachy condemnation of the lifestyle of our brother or sister. It is a light that shines in place, available for those who wish to emerge from their darkness.

In other words, if you’re teaching your children to love their neighbors as themselves, use their beliefs to progress them emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically, and allot mercy and tolerance to others while affording a helping hand, then you have spirituality.

Now, when it comes to the church, the spiritual representation of that idea has been lost in the implementation of the organization. But here’s the truth of the matter: if you have a good heart, a willing spirit, an open mind and an active desire, you can go into any church and affect the theology simply by being a worker instead of a critic.

There is no way that people with true spiritual insight can be ignored in a religious system that stumbles over its own clumsy rules.

So once you get your children in an attitude of understanding what true spirituality is, then go to church and let your light shine–because that beam of confidence will soon put you in a position to change the mediocre surroundings.

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Good News and Better News … February 1st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2831)

Good news Better News hats

Many hats.

Pictured above is a stack of my hats. I have six in all–five in the shot and one on my head.

It’s not really many hats. I used to have a whole lot of them. But the odd thing about accumulating all that head-gear was that most of it spent its time in a closet, never worn. It was almost sad.

Yesterday morning, I went to Goose Creek to get a gander.

Goose Creek, South Carolina.

Gosh, I enjoyed myself. I suppose you might get tired of reading my Monday morning report because it’s always so upbeat and hopeful. The reason for that is simple–I don’t show up with many hats, so my message is easily accessible and whosoever has an ear hears it and the rest of them go out the door, avoiding me, possibly to grumble in the parking lot.

The good news is that the people in Goose Creek, South Carolina, which is a suburb of Charleston, are no different from the people in Panama City, from the week before.

They are beautiful people of God, created in His image, who are somewhat baffled and dumbfounded by too many ideas and way too much information.

Let’s just take the fact that the church begins with the idea of Ten Commandments.

Ten. Are you kidding me?? I go into the grocery store and try to remember two items and forget one.

  • There is just too much to recall.
  • There’s too much to do.
  • And there’s too much required of the normal person for success to be attainable.

The best thing we could do for our fellow humans and ourselves is come to the conclusion that our greatest gift to those around us and our own soul is to just be honest.

If it’s boring, don’t be afraid to say it’s boring.

If you don’t understand, say so.

If it seems mean, call it what it is.

Politics is boring. It’s not an acquired taste. It’s not for the select few who want to rule and reign over us. It’s boring in order to scare us away from finding the truth.

The movies extolled in Hollywood are also boring. They are not cinematic wonders made by a handful of individuals who have studied the art form. They are made to be purposefully over-complicated so some people can feel they are smarter than someone else.

And church is boring. We make sure it is even more boring by setting aside times for quiet, meditation, and refraining from too many spontaneous outbursts.

My message to Goose Creek was very compact. Give away some hats. They don’t have anything to do with faith. More than half of the things we do are absent purpose.

Doggone it, I have never read 66 books that agree with each other on anything. Why would the Bible be any different?

So don’t reject the Word of God, but don’t show up with glue and tape, and try to piece it together so you can claim that you “follow it all.”

I have six hats. They are different colors and shapes. They fulfill a purpose when I need them. I don’t need any more hats.

And when it comes to my spirituality, loving my neighbor as myself, going the second mile, being the light of the world, and using my talents is plenty to keep me busy.

If you want to insist on additional doctrines to prove that you’re going to heaven…well, God bless you and good luck.

So the good news is, if you ever get a chance to go to Goose Creek and encounter Pastor Debra and the fine congregation, you grab on and get there.

And the better news is that I hope those beautiful brethren will throw away some of the useless hats that never get worn, and settle in on a simple message that changes lives.

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Jesonian: Head for the Hills … November 8th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2746)

Drachma

The Middle East is a muddled beast.

It has baffled politicians, military strategists and rational thinkers for generations.

Following a Jesonian philosophy, which is an attempt to tap the heart of Jesus, I decided to find out if the Nazarene had any insight on the issue.

Turns out he does.

It was in the latter part of his ministry when Jesus visited Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and took the opportunity to attack the religious leaders for their hypocrisy, excess, indifference and greed.

He spends quite a bit of time elaborating on the iniquity that filled the religious system of his day. But it is the closing of his speech which is most chilling. He finishes up his talk by saying that he had come to Jerusalem many times, trying to reason with them and get them to repent of their stubbornness and sense of superiority. But the continual rejection had caused him to decide that “their house was left to them desolate.”

Because they had killed the prophets, ignored wise men who had been sent their way, and shunned anyone who was practical enough to believe that spirituality could be best expressed through the love of human beings instead of the practice of ritual, he felt it was time for him to depart.

So the 24th Chapter of Matthew begins with a chilling proclamation: Jesus left the Temple.

He never went back again.

He never has.

All the dealings of the Christian faith are meant to be conducted in the streets and homes of human beings–at the point of need.

The ironic part is that the disciples try to draw him back to the Temple, to show him all the sights and wonders–a “Holy Land tour.”

He emphatically tells them that what they see before their eyes will be torn down, stone by stone. He even describes the process. He says that people will be so involved in their religion and their family life that they will not notice the signs of their times.

They will be “marrying and given in marriage,” oblivious to the dangers of conflict and generational revenge.

Jesus gave his disciples counsel. He said, “When you see there is conflict around Jerusalem and that there are armies gathering … head for the hills.”

Don’t stay and fight.

Don’t pick a side.

Don’t assume that God will protect those who are out to destroy each other.

Head for the hills.

We, as the United States, should take the wisdom of Jesus’ warning. There is no Armageddon unless all the armies of the world go to the desert and fight.

It is possible for us to support Israel and also welcome the Palestinians as long as the Palestinians accept the right of Israel to exist and Israel includes the Palestinians.

This is a family fight, and if we join it, both sides of the family will fight against us. So basically, we don’t please the Muslims and we don’t satisfy the Israelis.

Head for the hills.

It is possible to be an arbiter without putting on boxing gloves to join in the bout.

This should be our mission. We should watch the signs of the times, keep ourselves free from the conflict, and do our best to guide these lost brothers and sisters into understanding that the world is big enough for both of them, if their hearts can grow big enough for each other.

So I say to the Republicans and the Democrats: from a Jesonian perspective, you’re both wrong.

Jesus realized there is no negotiation with religion.

  • Religion will kill to fulfill its principles.
  • Religion will repeat instead of repent.
  • Religion is constantly looking for a new Messiah.
  • And religion invites war because it thinks peace is compromising doctrine.

But Jesus left the Temple.

We should do the same.

Stand back and let’s see if these warring factions will grow tired of burying their children, and begin to have a heart for making peace. And then, let us be the peace-makers instead of the fellow-warriors.

I believe it’s the only answer.

There is no Holy Land in the Middle East: people are dying, people are hurt, people are abused and people are marginalized.

It is the definition … of unholy. 

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