G-Poppers … December 15th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3522)

  • G-Pop mused the statement.

    “A moral victory.”

    The phrase was uttered by a news commentator who was characterizing the nature of the defeat of Judge Roy Moore in the Alabama Senatorial race.

    “A moral victory” is what Judge Moore normally would have applauded, touting it as a shout of glory for the conservative Christian movement. But in this case he found himself in the middle of Pharisees who were bound and determined to stone the sinner.

    G-Pop wants to make something very clear. If all men aged 32 were to be considered pedophiles by ogling a teenage girl, we would have to turn the state of Alaska into a prison farm. Sins of the flesh are something we humans certainly understand, though we cannot condone.

    What is difficult to comprehend are sins of the heart–those iniquities that come off our tongues as we try to defend ourselves instead of facing the music.

    Yes, Judge Roy Moore followed what a myriad of politicians have done, going all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt: When confronted about the nature of your business, deny.

    Of course, Judge Moore would have to admit this is not a Christian concept–rather, a secular one that seems to work because people become exhausted with all the tawdry details. Eventually the public walks away in disgust.

    Judge Moore is a great advocate for the Ten Commandments. But like a lot of us, he may have forgotten that Jesus broke the ten down to two:

    “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.”

    Jesus prefaced the second commandment by saying it was “like unto the first.” In other words, it’s impossible to love God without loving people, or to love people without tipping your hat to the Creator.

    When dealing with the stories coming from his accusers, Judge Moore became vehement, claimed he did not remember and insisted they were lying.

    Now, G-Pop is not about to say he knows what Judge Moore should have done in this situation. G-Pop is just explaining that what Judge Moore did had nothing to do with being a Christian. He became a cornered animal, growling at his surroundings, hoping to scare the intruders away.

    Nobody got scared.

    But what happened to our dear friend in Alabama can happen to us also if we allow our ignorance to mingle with our arrogance in an attempt to create dominance.

    Every sinner saved by grace needs to remember the grace–or they soon forget they were ever sinners.

    That’s what G-Pop thinks happened in this particular case.

    G-Pop’s suggestion for Judge Roy Moore? Wisdom would declare that we have less of “Moore,” and that he refrain in totality from “judging.”

    Maybe just work on being Roy.

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Jesonian … September 23rd, 2017

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jesonian-cover-amazon

Jesus got angry.

There’s no doubt about that. The Gospels make it clear that he frequently spilled out his wrath to those around him.

We don’t like this. The mind of the present theological times wholly disagrees because we desperately need to keep Jesus sheepish, quiet and gentle so that he can be the “Lamb of God slain from the foundations of the world.”

What’s amazing is, for a man who was destined to die on a cross, he put up one helluva fight. Let’s take a look at it:

He was angry when they criticized him for healing a man on the Sabbath.

He was angry when he came into the Temple and saw the money-changers cheating the faithful. (Actually, he put together a pre-meditated action of violence by making a whip to use on them for their thievery.)

He was angry at the man by the pool who was healed, who decided to turn Jesus into the scribes and Pharisees.

He was angry at his family when they thought he was crazy, and came out to take him home when he had disconnected from them.

And certainly, when the people of his home town pushed him to the edge of the cliff, it says that he “passed through the midst of them.” Perhaps you were taught that he evaporated and disappeared, but that’s not what is stated. The Bible portrays a man of strength and determination who turned to a mob and pushed his way through them.

We also know that Jesus understood anger because in his Sermon on the Mount, summarizing the Ten Commandments, he explained that the basic struggle in humans is finding a way to deal with anger and lust.

In a man, it is called testosterone. Jesus had plenty. He was not an anemic personality with pale skin, trying to love a world which only understood hate.

He was virile.

He was stubborn.

And when he saw injustice, he attacked it. Sometimes he called people hypocrites. Other times he referred to them as “graves.” And of course, he was not beyond comparing them to Satan.

So we know this: a man who deals with anger also deals with lust. For anger is often what leads us to conceive our lust, and when lust is conceived, it brings forth sin.

Jesus was surrounded by women. Oh, by the way, it wasn’t a “hands off” policy either. They were close to him, they embraced him; they even kissed his feet. It was intimate. Being intimate, the door was always open to seduction.

If the Jesus you worship could never be angry, nor lust after a woman, then you completely misunderstand the purpose for God sending His son to be a human. Being human, he was able to talk to humans–to explain humanity in a human way.

Yet Jesus did not want to be so angry that he destroyed others, and he definitely did not want to use his lust to take advantage of women who had been broken and even demon possessed.

So Jesus did the following:

1. He had three burly bodyguards around him at all times.

We often wonder why Peter, James and John never left his side. They were a trio of intimidating fishermen who scared away assassins, and made sure Jesus was never alone to be tempted by women. It was brilliant.

2. He escaped.

When he became angry or tempted, he went off by himself and navigated his own wrath and lust. He made peace with himself before he made the mistakes.

3. He created equality.

Jesus made sure that he preached the same Gospel to the women and the men. He demanded the same thing from the ladies and the gents. He created equality, which prevented him from favoring the females–coddling them–which could have led to affairs.

No man who treats a woman as an equal will ever accidentally slip and have sex. It’s only when he’s expressing sympathy, or trying to be the “knight in shining armor” to save her from her problems that he gets in trouble.

Jesus dealt with anger and lust.

He did so by refusing to trust himself, but instead, closed the door on the possibility of disaster.

 

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Good News and Better News … May 2nd, 2016

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Konnoak Hills UMC Good News

Our clothes get dirty.

When this happens, we check our GPS and head off toward a local laundromat.

It is always an adventure–we certainly encounter some intriguing human beings.

Jan met a woman who was frail, lying on a bench, who told her that she had spent the night in a hospital ward, taking chemotherapy. She explained that she needed to eat something but was not really hungry.

Jan pressed the point and offered to buy her a meal. The lady described in detail a certain entrée just down the road at Bojangles that she might be able to choke down–mentioning that she would want the selection with extra hot sauce.

So Jan and I trekked to Bojangles to procure the treat.

Why? Did we do it because we thought the woman was in need of nourishment? Were we convinced that this little action of mercy was a way to convey love and affection to this frail child of God?

Absolutely not. We did it for us. For after all, to do anything else makes you feel like crap.

Let’s understand something–people who are lost are horrible.

That’s why they’re lost. They’re not “partly good and partly bad.” They aren’t following five of the Ten Commandments. They are often selfish, liars and wiling to do almost anything to get their way.

The truth is, you have a choice in life: you can work or you can con. If you don’t want to work, you’ll probably end up conning.

Anyway, back to the story: we brought the chicken, gave it to the lady and left her alone to enjoy her delicacy. A few minutes later she was gone. (I asked Jan to do a sketch of her just so we would have the memory. See below.)

We have to remember what the purpose is for hope, faith and love.

We’re not hoping the world becomes a better place, that our faith will produce miracles, or love will change the planet.

Hope, faith and love abide. That’s what the Good Book says. They abide because they really don’t solve problems–they just prevent us from becoming part of the mess.

Hope gives me the confidence to get up every morning thinking I can actually accomplish my mission.

Faith embraces me with the belief that I am not alone–what I do and say matters.

And love is my doorway to escape hate because hate sucks.

When I went to the church on Sunday morning–Konnoak Hills United Methodist in Winston-Salem, North Carolina–this was fresh on my mind.

Such beautiful people with wonderful stories, who are constantly being bombarded with the concept that the world is changing at a breakneck pace, so they’d better grab onto the caboose or be left at the station.

Hogwash.

Right now in our country, “crazy” thinks it is the boss. It’s time for us to rise up and share the good news:

  • Shouting is loud, not smart.
  • Popular is advertised, not quality.
  • Anger is mean, not strong.
  • Cynical is frustrated, not clever.
  • And atheism is the absence of hope, not evidence of intellect.

I gave my faith, hope and love to the folks yesterday morning at Konnoak Hills. That’s the good news.

The better news is that I hope they’re smart enough to realize that the lost we are trying to reach can never be virtuous enough to please us.

It’s up to us to bring the heart, soul and patience to the matter.

 

Good News Winston Salem

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Good News and Better News … February 1st, 2016

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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: Reasonable (Part 8) Priority … January 24th, 2016

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Jesonian hands

I am often reluctant to quote directly from the Good Book.

It is not due to a lack of respect or devotion to the volume. I would have a similar sensation about reading passages from Moby Dick if historically the Melville work had brought about horrific division and chaos.

But sometimes a particular passage from the Bible needs to be shared in its simplicity–and entirety–to point out how misunderstanding has driven us away from the consensus of what makes things good.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”

It is virtually impossible for a theologian to interpret that verse without adding his or her religious convictions, practices and pious overtones.

Yet it’s really quite simple. It’s divided into three sections:

  1. The kingdom of God.
  2. His righteousness.
  3. All these things.

To identify what these mean, you must have an awareness of the overall and abiding principles that are represented.

The kingdom of God is not a church, a belief system or a denominational approach to religion. Jesus made it clear that the kingdom of God is within us.

So the first step to establishing priority in our journey is to find ourselves.

The creation story tells us that God breathed into humans the breath of life and we became living souls. So if we can’t find that breath, we don’t know how to breathe. And all attempts we make to find the kingdom of God outside the confines of our own created space are not only futile, but often lead us in the wrong direction–trying to become sanctified without really being holy.

Here is the kingdom of God: I am happiest when I can be strong enough to help others.

  • We are not happy when we are weak.
  • We are not happy if we have sufficiency and choose selfishness.

The breath of God is the blessing of finding ourselves and then dispensing mercy to others.

We are told to seek this first.

Dare I say that many religious people are so riddled with insecurity and superstition that the only way they know how to express salvation to others is to load them down with guilt, intimidate them over their lifestyle, then stand back and judge their actions. It is a waste of time.

Get happy, be happy, and from that position of joy, find a way to make others happy.

Which brings us to His righteousness.

This is not my righteousness. This is not a general righteousness. This is God’s righteousness.

It doesn’t take too long in perusing the Good Book to discover that God is content when we grow in confidence so we can help others around us whom He would love to touch with His grace.

If you believe that God is stomping around Heaven, angry about the Ten Commandments being broken, you should probably read the Good Book a little more carefully.

“It’s not His will that any should perish, but that all come to repentance.”

Exactly.

Which brings us to the final thought: “all these things.”

While Wall Street and business tycoons try to figure out the secret to accumulating loot, the process is accessible. Satisfied souls who manifest a creative and passionate life become a magnet to material goods.

It’s just the way it works.

Everybody who chases money, fights for money or kills for money always ends up vanquished by those who are stronger. All the things we desire in life will be at our disposal when we find the breath so that we can breathe, become creative and allow our lives to be filled with passion.

So this little journey we have taken in the Gospel of Matthew is summed up best in this way to discover priority:

I will find the breath of God within me, which will enable me to breathe and become strong so I can help others. I do this because God has one great mission statement: help people. And in the process of finding my confidence, being creative and having a passionate life, the opportunity to gain what I need will be readily available.

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Getting in Character … August 10th, 2015

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Rules guys

From Act II, Scene VII of As You Like It, Shakespeare asserts that “all the world is a stage and all the men and women, merely players.”

Rules were not penned to paper nor carved into stone to cease human sin. They are put in place and enforced because humans lie about it.

Whether these stipulations are called “The Book of Order,” “Standards and Practices” or “Ten Commandments,” they loom as an angry mother with a switch, threatening us with nagging time-outs unless we comply or find a way to do it “behind Mommy’s back.”

Here’s the problem: we cannot live an abundant life, filled with character, and place a quality performance on the stage by dodging responsibility like adolescent brats.

Are rules important? When do regulations become a noose around the neck instead of a rope, pulling us toward success?

First and foremost, we must understand that there are good rules and bad rules.

A good rule is a guideline that advances the quality of human life. A bad rule is an attempt to stall human life in order to halt some feared activity. It’s similar to the office manager telling all the employees that no one is allowed into the supply room to get anything because someone is stealing paperclips.

So how do we know?

A good rule: All men are created equal.

A bad rule: We need cheap labor, so we’re going to make the black ones slaves.

A good rule: Moderation in all things.

A bad rule: Total prohibition of alcohol.

A good rule: Marry someone you love.

A bad rule: Just make sure he or she is the same color.

To be an excellent character in the great human drama, you must be prepared to respectfully decline from participating in rules that were produced in fear, which generate even more fear.

It’s the difference between the law and truth:

  • The law is when people try to control their humanity.
  • The truth is when people try to learn their humanity. 

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Jesonian: Initially Involved… January 25, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2485)

 JC bigger

Much to the chagrin of many religious people, Jesus was not born in America, nor does he have a palatial home in Nashville, Tennessee.

Not only does this rule him out from being voted President of the United States, it also demands that we recognize that he lived as a person two thousand years ago, among impoverished people who were cruelly dominated by an Empire and under subjugation to a religious system which believed that any variation of personality was proof of infestation of a demon.

All science was considered witchcraft and anything that was contrary to the top ten commandments and the many interpretations that had occurred since their unfolding was deemed “Gentile.”

So during the short-lived campaign of “What Would Jesus Do?”, the question, rather than stimulating debate and revelation, left most twenty-first century Christians baffled and frustrated.

What seems safer to us is to worship Jesus instead of follow him.

The difficulty with that is that mere reverence of “the Christ” leaves no footprint of the Jesonian in our own generation.

So please allow me to share the text abbreviations of the philosophy and thoughts of Jesus of Nazareth, which have survived the sands of time and continue to pop out of his teachings with prevalence. They are:

  • DJ
  • PR
  • MT
  • KOGIWM

If you can remember these four, you can pretty well apply a wonderful grid of how you want to “initially” become involved in your society while still maintaining the integrity and power of the message.

DJ: Don’t judge.

Don’t even think about judging. Don’t insert thoughts and scream that they’re “just opinions.” The minute you find yourself discussing another human being, run from the room as if you’ve just discovered that your leg is on fire.

No amount of judging is permitted in the Jesonian philosophy.

PR: Personal responsibility.

Jesus made it clear that most of our problems are caused by assuming that others have offended us, God needs more prayer from us or “the devil’s out to get us.” Just living your own life in your own space and working on your strengths and foibles is enough to keep any mortal busy for the time allotted.

MT: Multiply talent.

You have ability. Lamenting that it is not enough or pretending it doesn’t exist is what leads to the kind of resentment and jealousy that makes us spend too much time petitioning God instead of counting our blessings.

Try new things, and when those fail, try more.

KOGIWM: The kingdom of God is within me.

Every time I look outside myself to discover the purposes of the universe or the potentials for spirituality to impact my world, I have looked too far.

If it’s going to happen it needs to start with me.

If it’s going to start with me, I need to recognize that God is not only with me, but He’s entrusted the message to my care.

Here’s a simple statement to remember: In the pursuit of the obscure, we obscure the pursuit.

Anyone who tells you that prayer is the key to heaven forgets that we spend an awful lot of time on earth before our reward.

DJ, PR, MT, KOGIWM

It is a quick capsulization of how Jesus lived and also how he would continue to live … whether in Birmingham, Alabama, or Hong Kong.

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