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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number-2

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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good-news-fix-it

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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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 18) It’s Not Good For A Man To Be… August 28th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Alone.

More than lonely.

The frightening realization of having no one.

Unable to get the personal attention of another human being.

Meningsbee had settled in for his afternoon time of reflection, which usually started with pulling up some news stories on the Internet and reading some articles to sharpen his insight.

But there was a dark side to this ritual. Ever since he had lost his wife, Doris, the lack of intimacy had driven him to a nagging temptation to peruse pornography.

He hated the word.

When he pastored back East, he often counseled people who were completely obsessed with the practice.

He knew all the right answers but the loneliness overtook him–the sense of abandonment caused by losing his love.

For you see, Doris died as she had lived–suddenly.

She had an infectious spirit with a childlike quality that manifested itself in the belief that her whim was the same as God’s will. If bananas were on sale at the grocery store, Doris believed it was ordained to make banana splits.

Although Richard was a bit put off by the theology, he benefitted from the glow of her enthusiasm.

She loved him. She loved him all the way. If she was dissatisfied, Richard never knew it.

She laughed more than she cried; she planned more than she complained, and in the bedroom, she had the steaminess of the Queen of Sheba mingled with the mercy of an angel.

She granted Meningsbee the role of Midas. Everything he touched she called gold.

He never had a chance to doubt himself–until one morning, she sat straight up in bed and said, “My head hurts.”

They were her last words. She crumpled to the side, the victim of a simultaneous massive stroke and heart attack.

No history of disease, just a demise.

So now Richard was without his Doris, yet still needing the comfort and consistency of a gentle love.

He was repulsed by the images he saw on his screen. He was only interested in “peek-a-boo porn”–in other words, pictures of beautiful women yearning to be loved. But every time he pulled up an innocent profile, his inbox was inundated with popups of violent rape and sexual mayhem.

Strangely, he both hated and pitied himself at the same time–hated because he knew he was wrong, but pitied because he was forced into the wrong by an evil twist of fate.

He was more than ashamed.

He was intellectually disgusted by his choice.

He was spiritually bewildered by his weakness.

And he was mentally dissatisfied with the antidote provided to him via the Web.

So at the end of each one of his afternoon sessions, he scrubbed his browser and walked away from his computer feeling a little more decayed each time.

What right did he have to preach the Gospel when such desperation tormented his soul?

Meningsbee was in the midst of a fresh burst of incrimination when there was a knock at the door. He was startled.

He quickly made sure there was no evidence of his iniquity, and went to see who it was.

Matrisse.

He was so glad to see her.

She was like a supernal presence drawing him back into what he wanted his reality to be.

“I need to talk to you about Sassy,” she said solemnly. Meningsbee nodded his head and invited her in.

Once again, Matrisse was the needful distraction to draw him away from his own foolishness.

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Ask Jonathots… August 25th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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ask jonathots bigger

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… September 28th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2706)

map of Sheboygan

Many years ago, I sensed a voice within me, encouraging me to go out and share my heart and abilities with the world. Some people would say it was the voice of God, while others would probably insist that it was just me, declaring my own bidding.

I don’t care.

I heeded the call, and that decision has taken me on an exotic adventure.

Kindness. I deeply love that word. It saddens me that it has been equated with weakness. There is actually nothing that takes more human strength than to be kind. It threatens to attack us if we dare consider it.

I spent the weekend in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I felt kindness–whether it was the surprise bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup given to me with the meal I purchased at the restaurant or the warm-hearted folks strolling across the green at the Farmer’s Market, sniffing the tomatoes and pondering a pumpkin.

Then we arrived at the church, with half a dozen folks, ready and able to help us carry in our equipment and assist us in any way possible. They are shepherded by a man named Rick who has a gentleness which oozes the aforementioned kindness.They received the strength of my teaching while being sensitive to the weakness that presently inhabits my body.

I am moved at their interpretation of the soul of Jesus. I am so in love with this particular congregation that I will tell you, they are on the precipice of discovering a greater understanding. And what is that greater understanding?

True spirituality is a three-step process:

1. Listen.

That’s right. Shut up. Talking is exhausting and it’s also boring. Try to listen to what people are saying. Try to listen to the pain and the joy of the world around you. Try to be a hearer of the Word before becoming a doer.

2. Change.

Because I can tell you, as you listen to the patter of your brothers and sisters, you will feel the need to change.

When they brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, they explained to him that the law of God said that she should die by stoning. He didn’t argue the theology with them–he questioned the practicality. What chance is there for righteousness to grow if we kill off all the sinners?

Jesus changed, right there on the spot. Jesus altered religious fervor in deference to God’s favor. He forgave the woman.

If you’re not ready to change, don’t expect anything of quality to happen.

3. Respond.

Once you’ve listened carefully and altered your philosophy to be sensitive to humans instead of critical of them, you are prepared to respond, and that normally will be kindness.

Thank you, Sheboygan, for being kind.

Please do not grow weary in your well-doing. Donate Button

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