Jesonian … October 14th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“God so loved the world that He gave His son.”

That’s what the Good Book says.

Theologians, churches and interested parties have their own focus about why this gift came from God. Of course, we have a hint–if you believe, you don’t have to perish.

But what do we mean by “perish?”

Many thousands of churches of the faith who are of a Judeo-Christian swing, contend with great certainty, that Jesus came to be a Messiah. In doing so, he was fulfilling the Old Testament. They rejoice that they can use Jesus as a conduit between the Old and New Testaments, therefore joining in covenant with the Jewish faith, often to the detriment of the Muslims.

Unfortunately, Jesus does not fulfill the role as a champion of the Hebrews very well. He was critical of their approach to God and ended up declaring their rendition of theology as “desolate.”

The second group, which often refers to itself as “Pauline,” placing great value on the Epistles of Paul, believe that Jesus is a Savior. In other words, he came to fulfill the New Testament covenant through his blood. But the actions, motivations, mission, verbiage and deeds of Jesus often contradict the assumption that he was merely to be a human sacrifice for sin.

Offering a Messiah and a Savior to a human populace which is battling insanity is just not sufficient.

It is Jesus who best explains his mission.

He made the essence of his Earth journey clear in the Good Book in John 10:15-16. Jesus proclaims that “he knows the Father and the Father knows him,” and that he’s willing to “lay down his life for the sheep.” But then he goes on to say, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them in as well, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

Jesus is the Shepherd.

Being a shepherd, he laid down his life for the sheep.

He also made it clear that those who would be part of the fold were not just Jews, but that the end result is one fold and one shepherd–all over the world.

In a day and age when we extol the differences among us by celebrating culture, the Shepherd is looking for the commonality that will make us one fold, dispelling any notion that Jesus welcomes a little of Mohammed, a twinge of Buddha and a fortune cookie of Confucius.

Even though many believe he came to fulfill the Old Testament or the New Testament, he actually came to fulfill humanity.

He offers simple truths with simple applications to simple people who are living simple lives.

So if you go to a church that insists that “Jesus is the Messiah,” they will probably load you down with Old Testament traditions and outdated spiritual practices.

And if you attend a congregation that promotes “Jesus is only the Savior,” be prepared to endure sermon after sermon on the sacrifice of the Christ, and how we must repent and be baptized, so we all can go to heaven.

Jesus’ main mission is to be the Shepherd.

Matter of fact, he joyfully called himself “the Good Shepherd.” And the night he spoke these words to the disciples, he envisioned a message that would include sheep from the Native Americans, the Chinese, the Mongolian horde, the Anglo-Saxons and the Afrikaans, to name just a few.

He saw one fold–not many cultures.

And one Shepherd–not many interpretations.

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 1)… July 1st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.”

These are the words of Jesus.

But you see, there’s my problem. Believing in Jesus is simpler for me. It’s believing in God that itches my brain.

You see, God has a lot of history–thirty-nine books of Old Testament, filled with murder, mayhem, racism and contradictions–before we arrive at the doorstep of the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth, where Jesus emerges and begins to speak to the world.

Every once in a while, I’m sitting in a room by myself and a sudden gust of realization sweeps in and blows my mind.

God?? What in the hell am I thinking? How could there be a God?

And this isn’t because there are bad things happening–it’s just that the stories told about this god are similar to the Greek mythology concerning Zeus. All at once, I am inundated with feelings of foolishness and slowly, bitterness jumps into my heart, mocking me for following such ancient tales.

Sometimes the Holy Bible reads like a Grimm fairy tale, full of witches, warlocks and little boys and girls threatened because they’re on their way to grandma’s house.

But then I pause. Why? It’s the chimpanzee.

Although I believe that science is the favorite hobby of the Father in Heaven, the order in the Universe, even in the midst of chaos, and the fact that human beings exist, hearkens to the presence of a Universal Creator. Feel free to try to deteriorate the human spirit, soul and intellect, and place it side-by-side with the animals–but if any one of us spent a week trying to reason, infiltrate and dine with chimpanzees (supposedly our closest relative) we would quickly return to the human race with newfound appreciation.

I’m sorry–animals are animals and people are people. There’s a huge gap. Somebody–did you hear me?–somebody put that gap there.

On the other hand, upon spending several weeks with the chimpanzees of theology, I am equally as baffled by the fact that for some inexplicable reason, they want to blur the God of Judaism with the person of Jesus.

So if the proclamation is, God is Jesus–I’m there, and the spiritual evolution from God and the devil playing poker with Job’s soul, to “love your neighbor as yourself” was needed and makes complete sense.

But if Jesus is God, I really have to include stories from the old volume, which are absolutely implausible, without merit and of no benefit to any creature on heaven or Earth.

It is troubling.

Without being accusatory, may I suggest that all of us, to some degree, are turmoiled by this mish-mash and collision of meaningless facts being thrown together into one book called the Bible and then dubbed “Holy.”

If you will allow me, over the next couple of weeks, I would like to deal with this troubling situation–because to a certain degree, all an atheist has to say to any Christian is, “Really???” and we are immediately defensive.

Because we possess our own doubts.

So doubts be damned and discussion begun, I will see you next week.

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Jesonian… May 27th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3319)

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While half of the organization of Christian saints clamor to preach a message of the fulfillment of Judaism, with the human sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the other fifty percent portray the Nazarene as soft on sin and heavy on compassion, it occasionally might be a good idea to take the available reference material we possess to get a more thorough picture of how Jesus thought, felt and lived.

There were many broken people in his life–no doubt about it. Also, it’s irrefutable that he did die on the cross, and it has become our salvation.

But for the purpose of progressing the Christian message, we must claim the mind of Christ, not just the theology. It begins with understanding his approach: blind men, prostitutes, demon-possessed souls, lepers and probably a lot of manic-depressives came to Jesus and received a touch of healing.

Yet none of them ended up in his traveling troupe. Jesus did not turn his kingdom of God on Earth into a nursing home, mental hospital or rehab center. Although he brought great benefit to the lives of many souls, his practice was to send them back to their home towns–to assimilate and offer up the story of their transformation as evidence of the goodness of God.

Even though a demon-possessed man who had just been set free came to his boat and begged him to join the band, Jesus sent him away.

It sends a message to the church today. We spend too much time adjusting our programs, the temperature in the sanctuary and our vision to those who are needy, hurt and emotionally challenged, instead of encouraging working folks, entrepreneurs, artists and inventors to come into the body to leaven the lump.

A quick look at the twelve disciples will tell you that you had four working fishermen, one tax collector, two followers that came over from the ministry of John the Baptist, one zealot, a pair of brothers who were tradesmen, a Judean and Thomas, who most people believe bounced between the ministry of John and a little fishing himself.

But anyone who believes that Jesus was just a human sacrifice is errant. And anyone who contends that Jesus was all-forgiving, looking for the next loser to turn into a winner, would also be completely out of line with the narrative.

If you want to build a work, you teach healthy people how to help the unhealthy, not harbor unhealthy people, hoping they will draw in the healthy.

The Christian church today is possessed by either an overabundance of zeal towards charity, or a greed towards prosperity. So we minister to the fringes instead the heart of mankind.

To minister to the heart of mankind, you have to understand what a fisherman is really looking for.

 

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Good News and Better News… May 15th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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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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Good News and Better News… February 27th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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The whir, whistle, hum, song and even roundness of the Earth is totally dependent upon the serene application of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Without such a magnificent axiom, it literally becomes “every man for himself,” with women and children often left out in the cold. It is a principle that tells us how to treat bears, bugs, spiders, cats and Mother Earth.

  • Unfortunately, the business world has no respect for the concept.
  • The entertainment industry ponders darker applications.
  • And the political world courts “church,” while ignoring virtue.

It is literally left up to those who attend services of worship to keep this precious Golden Rule in the mix. Simultaneously, the church as we know it is shrinking as people depart, disappointed.

The church is failing because it’s trying to be religious instead of the voice of our generation. It is awash in theology instead of considering the best angles for dealing with other human beings.

There are two reasons people go to church–two reasons and two reasons only. It is not for the worship of God and the praise of the saints.

  1. They’re afraid they’ll miss something.
  2. They’re afraid they’ll miss someone.

The human race is tribal and basically gregarious.Therefore, we want to gather and enjoy ourselves.

Why do we think people should get into their cars, drive across town and sit for an hour, leaving baffled about their own personal lives, while merely logging heavenly frequent flyer miles?

Until we understand that the church has to be a place of excitement, discovery, intrigue and most definitely creativity–where people are not certain whether they will hear a new opera sung or see magnificent healings–we must understand that our meager offering of a few songs, a sermon and a communion “happy meal” will probably not continue to draw them.

It’s about being together, strengthening one another. We must get rid of the notion that there has to be suffering to attain spiritual grace.

The good news is that people want to be excited and God is prepared to provide the opportunity.

The better news is that people would love to learn, in a consecrated place, how to make “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” the hip philosophy of our time.

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Good News and Better News… January 9th, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is reported that animals can smell fear.

I do not know if this particular “sniffology” is passed along in the human family, but I am fully aware as I travel and interact with my brothers and sisters, that there’s a strong apprehension in the air.

It’s not so much an odor as it is a loss of confidence and a disconcerting sense that doom looms too close to the home fires.

So in a season when the church should be rallying from its stagnancy because of the yearning of the human spirit to relieve tension, our ranks still seem to be filing out the back door.

There are those in theology who conclude that it’s due to a lack of serious religious reflection, and others who believe that we’ve not yet struck the right chord with the younger generation concerning traditions and the teaching offered for their children.

If you will allow me, I will tell you:

  • We have too much God and not enough Father.
  • Too much Christ and not enough Jesus.

It’s similar to a chemistry teacher who constantly gives tests on formulas while never having the students do lab work.

Church is boring because the idea of God is stifling.

Church seems insipid because a Christ who offers eternal salvation doesn’t give us a Jesus who offers us Earth solutions.

We are stymied.

For fear of losing our “worship credentials,” we have sacrificed our human appeal.

The heavenly Father is a Creator, not a manufacturer. Not everything can be taught in a six-week series from the pulpit as we expound upon every reference in the Bible about love, and hope that folks will draw a pious conclusion.

Jesus was our brother–tempted as we are in every way and touched by our infirmities long before he became salvation through the cross. Thirty-three years of life can not be ignored because of three hours at Golgotha.

Until we have more of the Father and an abundance of Jesus, our churches will be full of dead men’s bones and promises that seem to have been “rain checked” until after death.

The good news is that God is our Father, Jesus is our brother and the Holy Spirit is not a ghost.

The better news is that the Holy Spirit has come to remind us about the goodness of our Father and the genius of Jesus.

 

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Good News and Better News … October 10th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3090) 

good-news-holly-sign-facesWhether you’re promoting the idea that Mexicans are rapists or insisting that your political opponents should be stuffed in a basket labeled “deplorables,” you have basically failed to recognize the central meteoric truth of life on Planet Earth:

Our human journey is about getting along with humans.

The ministry of Jesus is capsulized in how we treat others. Also, our relationship with God is determined by how well we welcome those who have been deemed worthless.

When I arrived at the Holly Calvary Church to meet the energetic and engaged Pastor Cliff and his congregation, I was fully aware that nothing I have to share has any value if I am a grump.

Yes.

  • I am my Gospel.
  • I am my message.
  • My facial expression is what I think God feels about people.

And my attitude is certainly my theology.

During one of the prayers, a word came to my mind: exceedingly.

good-news-holly-sign-namesLooking back on the past week in America, there have been people who are exceedingly mad. They want to get even. They want to hurt somebody. Their energy is fueled by fury.

There are people who are exceedingly sad. They’ve given up. They’ve decided to settle. Despair has become their cry for retreat.

What we desperately need–and what I shared with the good folks in Holly–is the message of Jesus: rejoice and be exceedingly glad.

What does that mean? Why isn’t “glad” enough? Why does it need to be “exceedingly?”

Because mad and sad people try to cover up their true motivations with missions which seem to be legitimate. So if our gladness doesn’t spill out of us like cold water from melted mountain snow, then it will be difficult to set ourselves apart from those who snarl and sigh.

Pastor Cliff is encouraging his church to get back to the Word of God. I agree. That “Word” is personified in the lifestyle of Jesus. He is the Word. And he wants us to be glad.

How do we know when we’re being glad?

  1. We decide to love everybody even if it seems ridiculous.
  2. We refuse to judge anybody even if it appears necessary.
  3. We determine to help everybody find their abundant life.

I truly believe if the absolutely amazing individuals I met yesterday in Holly will generate love, stop judging and aid their brothers and sisters in finding life, which is grounded in the Word, they can also be free of religious chains.

That’s the good news.

The better news is that “exceedingly glad” does come with the additional benefit of personal smiles and inner joy.

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