Jesonian … September 30th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It had been a day of storytelling.

Launching out into a boat so that the audience on the seashore could hear more clearly, the young teacher, formerly from Nazareth, had shared great yarns about faith–three in particular.

Taking an ethereal subject, he translated it into the human and earthly. It was what he did best. He had no intention of having followers with heaven on their minds–not when there was still so much to do here on earth.

The first story was about a sower. The lesson was really simple. The seeds of hope, love, contentment, joy and even confrontation have to be sown–whether the inhabitants of Earth received them or not. You just never know what patch of soil might sprout promise.

Another story was about how to showcase faith. It really is not a private matter–it is something that needs to be shown forth, demonstrated, put on a candlestick so the light can fill the room.

And then there was that closing story that finished out the day. An inspiring one. “Faith is like a mustard seed…” In other words, it may be small, but its original girth does not foretell what it will eventually be. Don’t despise small beginnings.

At the end of the day this young teacher, Jesus, decided he wanted to go on a late-night sail across the sea to the other shore. It was a family aatmosphere, and so other folks who had been moved by the message decided to join him on the journey. Jesus had a big boat but those who followed him were in little ships. Exhausted, Jesus grabbed a pillow and headed to the back of the boat to get a snooze on the way across.

Then the atmosphere changed. (It nearly always does.) Into a quiet, peaceful night, a storm arose–a big one. The waves began to splash into the boat.The disciples were frightened. All the stories of faith dissipated in the presence of this threat. They screamed at Jesus, asking him why he didn’t do something. Why didn’t he care that they were dying?

Every teacher in the world will understand his feelings at that point. What is the purpose of sharing a lesson if no one applies it?

But Jesus had other concerns. This was no time to put the disciples to the test to see if they could survive their anxieties. Because, you see, there were other little ships. And if the big boat was in trouble then the little ships were in desperate straits.

So Jesus calmed the storm–not because he wanted to appease twelve frightened men in a big boat, but because he was concerned about the little ships.

Jesus was always sensitive to the little ships. Matter of fact, he made it clear that if we don’t take care of the “least,” we’re really not in fellowship with him at all.

We’ve lost our hearts for the little ships.

Storms come to our country and ravage the land and we scream to the government to help us rebuild our houses. Meanwhile, the least of these–the little ships–aren’t even getting water and food to survive.

I spent three days this year locked up in a hot house, sweating, my brain fried because I had none of the conveniences of which I was accustomed. I was fit to be tied.

In Puerto Rico, it’s been many,many days without food, water, cooling and relief.

Can we care about what’s happening to the little ships, or are we only concerned for our own losses and perishing?

That night, terrified disciples were saved because Jesus took care of the little ships.

I suggest that if we find the little ships in our lives, in the process of doing so, all the boats will be brought safely to the shore.

 

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G-Poppers … October 28th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

“A storm,” says G-Pop.

  • Certainly everybody gets wet.
  • Some souls are frightened by the lightning.
  • Others are chilled by the thunder.
  • The wind blows a portion away.
  • And many suffer under the devastation–loss of heart and home.

When the storm ceases, the healing needs to begin.

In what should have been a celebration of our democracy, our unity and our abiding purpose, the 2016 Presidential campaign has been a storm which has swept across our land, terrifying the citizens. Even those who prided themselves on being resilient, or were accustomed to boarding up their feelings to protect themselves from the onslaught, have been shocked by the fury of the blast.

It is certain that November 9th will still usher in a season of great conflict which will require sane people of hope and faith to step in and restore healing.

What will the healing be? The removal of complexity, providing a path to simplicity.

We will have to stop being Republicans, Democrats, old, young, people of color, white, poor or rich, and instead, nurture ourselves on the beliefs that have eternal power and everlasting worth.

G-Pop has decided to be a contributor to the common good. It doesn’t make him special–but it does make his mission purposeful.

Three treatments will be necessary to set in motion the remission from stupidity and the beginning of restoration:

1. Love your neighbor as yourself.

There’s no replacement for it. “No one is better than anyone else” is not a slogan, but rather, a constant reminder that attempting to find differences stymies commonality.

2. Take responsibility for your own life.

Stop blaming the government, abortion, the gay community or Wall Street. Count your pennies, and find things you can buy for a penny. Count your talents and multiply them. And count your blessings and be thankful.

3. Be of good cheer.

Good cheer is not happiness, but rather, a road map to get to it. It is a decision to maintain peace and stillness in the midst of the storm. For I will tell you–the storms are not gone. There are more coming.

So we must heal, but also prepare.

G-Pop offers this definition for our strength:

Nothing happens until we show up; nothing is over until we give up.

 

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Jesonian: Pillow and Little Ships … October 25th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Three faces

The Bible is not meant to be a story, but rather, a script.

When we approach the Good Book as a story, we end up isolating off a few verses without considering what comes before or after.

When you look at it as a script, you can study what motivates the scene of our story, and also what the outcome ends up being.

In Mark the 4th Chapter, Jesus spends all day teaching on three distinct subjects. It’s important to know this in understanding the story that follows. It helps us to comprehend the mindset of our protagonist, Jesus, as he encountered the elements of the unfolding of our script.

Here are the three points Jesus made to his disciples all day long:

  1. “If you don’t sow seeds, nothing happens.”
  2. “Since you’re going to be sowing seeds, learn the process by which things grow.”
  3. “Understand that what you’ve been given is a responsibility to prepare you to use it well, to be given more.”

So when nightfall comes, Jesus is tired and heads for the boat to go to the other side. The disciples follow him and other folks also decide to make the journey, but their ships are not quite as big. Matter of fact, they are referred to as “little ships.”

Jesus doesn’t stop them. Instead, Jesus grabs a pillow and heads for the stern to take a nap.

Although I think it’s important to consider “what would Jesus do?” in our everyday lives, it is much more effective to notice what Jesus is already doing.

Any astute disciple should have registered that Jesus had taught all day about taking responsibility for your life and that he was heading into the ship to take a nap, while lodging no objection about other tinier vessels traveling alongside.

Did Jesus know there was going to be a storm? Possibly so, since the sky usually foretells of such things.

What was Jesus communicating to his disciples? It’s clear to me.

Sometimes God would like to take a nap.

And since we’ve been well-trained, well-taught, and by the way, several of us are fishermen, we should be able to handle a storm.

We should also notice that Jesus is sleeping without any fear for the smaller ships which would be in much more danger from the upheaval.

I believe Jesonian faith is doing what we can, knowing that God is responsible for the rest.

But the storm rages and the disciples do what ungrateful souls always do. They wake Jesus up and accuse him of not caring. “Don’t you care that we’re perishing?”

Please understand this–if the big ship is in trouble, the little ships must be in jeopardy also, but the disciples don’t have much concern about them.

Jesus is pissed off. Even though he calms the waves, he rebukes the disciples for having no faith.

Where did their faith fail?

  • They didn’t take responsibility for what they had just heard and learned.
  • They didn’t notice that Jesus was communicating complete confidence by taking a nap on a pillow.
  • They didn’t understand that Jesus would not let the other littler ships suffer.

They thought they were being faithful by being overly dependent. And Jesus told them it was actually the opposite.

They had little faith.

What do I learn from this?

After Jesus teaches me and trains me to be a born-again human being, he just might grab a pillow and expect me to guide us through a storm … and take care of the little ships.

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Afraid … February 13, 2014

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Colorful Hand No one logoOnce you welcome fear into your lifestyle, everything you feel, each thing you believe, the thoughts in your brain and the actions you do will need to gain permission from this new ruthless master.

Fear chases away the reassurance of love.

Yesterday I had a strange experience. In the course of one hour, I talked to a religionist and an atheist, and after having these two exchanges, I realized they were both the same person. Each of them was afraid of God.

The atheist was afraid that God was out to control his life, and it was therefore easier to deny His existence. The religionist was afraid that God didn’t have enough control, and therefore some apprehension was required for him to stay pleasing in the sight of the Almighty.

Honestly, I was repulsed by both approaches.

  • I cannot believe in a God who tells me He is love and then instills fear inside me.
  • And I cannot deny a God who loves me, simply because I want to willfully do my own bidding and whim without any regard for personal responsibility for other people or the planet.

Somewhere along the line we just have to stop being afraid.

Although the atheist would insist that he or she is getting rid of the “fear of the Lord” by denying such a Being, and the religionist hides behind the promise of salvation while continuing to struggle with personal insecurity, I, myself would like to cash in on the promise that was given to me, of “life and it more abundantly.”

In order to do this and to dispel childish fear, I pursue three goals:

1. If God loves people, He needs to have a message that is sensitive to them. You get too much heaven and you confound the earth. Simply put: No one is better than anyone else.

2. The minute I believe that God’s love is contingent on me being error-free is the day that I lose the significance of expressing mercy to others, which grants me mercy for my own shortcomings.

3. God is as I do. The only God the world will ever see is the one I decide to portray through my sense of joy, creativity, giggle and willingness to change.

Any belief or non-belief that does not exude these three wonderful ideas is grounded in some sort of fear.

And I just happen to believe that when Jesus comes to me–even in the middle of my storm–his message is always, “It is I; be not afraid.”

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Never Right… November 2, 2012

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A knock on the door.

It frightens you. It normally wouldn’t, but this is a different night. The wind is howling, the rain is pelting against your house and it sounds like all of hell is trying to seep through the walls of your home to capture your soul and drag you into the deep, dark pit of death. The lights flash, threatening to go out. Who would be knocking on the door at such a moment? It can’t be good, that’s for sure.

You open the door. There’s a woman there with two little children standing in the background, all of them completely drenched. She is frightened out of her mind and begs for entrance. But you see, you’re scared, too. Every apprehension that you’ve ever had about life, death, people, danger and the presence of your own inadequacy comes to the forefront. Mingle that with walking around in a society that demands you be suspicious of everyone around you, and even every piece of fruit you buy from the produce section, and before you have a chance to think, you refuse her entrance, shut your door–and feel grateful that hell is on the outside and you are on the inside.

This happened to a man on the east coast. The only trouble is, there’s always a morning after–when all of our decisions come to roost and are brought to our doorstep, demanding an explanation.

What are you going to do? Well, you’ve got to lie, right?  Because no one is going to understand how terrified you were by the storm and why your stupidity made a decision before your conscience had a chance to show up.

You are informed that the two children perished in the storm. For a split second, the goodness that remains within you realizes that you are a murderer. But the liar who controls the living room of your thoughts just continues to offer more and more feeble explanations.

Let us realize that for the next 24-hour news cycle, this man will be hated. Each one of us, in our little pious puddle of self-perceived purity, will insist that WE would have let this woman and her two sons into our homes, to escape the storm. We will judge him harshly, so that we don’t have to examine ourselves more closely.

I will tell you–these moments come to all of us and they‘re never “right.”

  • It’s never the “right” time.
  • It’s never the “right” people.
  • And it’s never the “right” mood.

My dear friends, if you catch me on a good day, I’m a saint. If you give me warning and let me know that a unique possibility is going to avail itself my way, I will bake a cake and prepare for the festivities. It just never works that way. And those people who insist they can trust their conscience to protect them against doing foolish things–always end up embarrassed the morning after, trying to justify their actions, as the bodies of two young boys are retrieved from a nearby marsh.

It’s never the right time. True adventure always knocks on our door when we are at our weakest, or when we least expect it.

It is never the right people. My God, if they looked like us, or appeared to be in the same economic category, or we recognized them in any way, we CERTAINLY would fling the door open and welcome them in. But desperation, frustration and destitution always come from another place, with another look–sometimes even speaking another language.They sport difference, and difference equals danger.

And of course, it’s never the right mood. Maybe you, yourself, are pissed off about the storm–wondering if that old oak tree in the back yard is going to fall over and destroy the bonus room you recently added to your property. Your mind is not on altruism or hospitality, but stuck with the pedal to the metal–in survival gear. You hope  that the better part of you will kick in and do the right thing. But the slowest-moving part of the human being is the conscience. It eventually does arrive, but has no desire whatsoever to be quick about it, and when it happens upon our scene, extraordinarily tardy, it only succeeds in reminding us how badly we have done without its help.

If you want to avoid the fate of this man, who found himself trapped in a never-the-right-moment, never-the-right-people and never-the-right-mood hole in the ground, then you must have something MORE than a mere conscience. You must realize, every day of your life, that you are completely capable of stupid, selfish and even evil things.

You don’t have to degrade yourself. You don’t necessarily have to share it with others. Just refuse to grant yourself the ridiculous notion that you’ve “arrived,” and would certainly never be tempted by folly again. Otherwise, you’ll trust your conscience to cover your butt–and that particular virtue will arrive like a turtle, just a little too late.

The reason most people spend excessive time lying is because they are angry that their conscience failed to rescue them from doing iniquity.

It’s never the right moment.

It’s never the right people.

And it’s never the right mood.

When tragic circumstances arrive at your house, you need more than a conscience. You need a heart that freely admits that you’re prone to doing absolutely insane things–unless you put a guard on the outside of your emotions to prevent wickedness from entering.

Don’t judge that man on the east coast too harshly. He is our brother. He is us. His ignorance cost two young boys their lives.

I’m sure we’ll hear more about the story. Or perhaps not. Maybe it will be swept away because all hearers of the tale will realize that they, too, might have turned the strangers away.

It is never the right time … to do good.

It is never the right people … who are brought to our attention.

And it is never the right mood that inhabits our thoughts … when it’s time to be a human angel.

Don’t trust your conscience. Build a second line of defense by admitting to yourself that much selfishness still dwells in the corners of your mind.

Then just maybe you will be ready for that knock on the door.

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