Jesonian: Simeon Says… December 28, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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baby from roots no words bigger

People often walk up and tell me they have a “word from the Lord” for me. Sometimes they refer to it as a prophesy, sometimes a word of knowledge or wisdom, and on occasion, they will even describe the coloration of my aura. Most of the time they’re just trying to connect and be nice.

I listen to them intently and thank them.

Yet every once in a while, these fine individuals will tell me something that has true spiritual significance or is a revelation they could not possibly have ascertained on their own.

It is a joyous, chilling encounter.

I bring this up because we are told in the Gospel of Luke, that Mary and Joseph, being good Jews, make a trip to the local temple to offer a sacrifice of gratitude for the birth of their son, Jesus.

They immediately come across an aged gentleman who seems partly senile and partly crazed, who has one of these “words of prophesy” for them.

Being an old man and probably well-set in his ways by his traditional upbringing, his message is contrary to his training.

His name was Simeon. Here’s what he told them about their baby, Jesus:

1. Jesus will be a light “to lighten the Gentiles.”

It is highly unlikely that Simeon would share such a notion, since he believed from his youth that those who were not Jews were basically dogs. He would not select to be so broad-thinking unless inspired by a divine source.

The first thing to remember about the gospel brought by Jesus is that his main goal was to get God out of Jerusalem and take the love of the Father on the road. For hundreds of years, belief in Jehovah had been stuck in Mesopotamia. It was time for the rest of the world to be included.

2. Find the glory of Israel.

  • What is the glory of Israel?
  • Patriarchs?
  • Dusty scrolls?
  • Stories of heroes who conquered giants?

No–the glory of Israel is that one man or woman can hear a message from God and launch out by faith. Honestly, the traditions only hinder that process.

3. The message of Jesus will be “a falling and rising to many.”

Some people just like to be prejudiced. They want to believe in a God who “hates somebody so He can love us more.” The message of Jesus eliminates that vengeful creature, replacing Him with a creative Father.

Some people rose with that authorization. Others fell in with the crowd who cried, “Crucify.”

4. Mankind’s heart shall be revealed.

The Jesonian is not a thinking man’s religion. It’s not a spiritualist carnival. It does not extol physical appearance above all else. Jesonian is the willingness to have our hearts exposed without fear, knowing that in so doing, the “truth will make us free.”

Religion studies God so that we don’t have to study ourselves. That is why the Jesonian is not a religion–it’s a lifestyle.

That day an old man in the temple broke through all of his pre-conceived ideas to share a message from on high.

It was a message of inclusion.

It was a message of challenge.

And it was a message that told us that as long as we’re willing to be real, the reality that comes our way can bless us.

 

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Two That Make One … January 20, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Angy and ClintWhen I found out he died, it was the first thing that came to my mind.

I suppose if I were a more traditional fellow, I would have taken a moment or two to conjure images of his face, life and interactions with him. But honestly, the best thing this fellow ever did with his life was to marry a woman–whom he eventually divorced–and have a daughter, who now continues to overcome her culture, becoming a dynamic force within her own family, with personal aspirations.

Often, two people make one. Matter of fact, it is a biological imperative. But even though historically, the two that made the one may leave behind no other heritage or footprint, the one who was birthed can still honor the memory by living a life that has joy over precious memories, but also an eye toward exceeding the training.

It was a startling fact. A young woman I know quite well, who is doing her best to bless the world, has recently lost both of her parents–and the determination of society and history on their lives will be evaluated by how this dear woman conducts her journey.

My parents, too, made five. I place no judgment on their lives, but I will tell you that their legacy is held in scrutiny by those around them who view their offspring.

It is a solemn affair.

If we don’t create art, share a great idea, chase windmills or speak against injustice, our lineage becomes our sole eulogy.

It made me very happy for this gentleman that passed away. Although in a critical moment, I might suggest that some of his choices were terribly introspective, he does have the advantage of giving life to a missionary who is doing a much better job at propelling beauty to the earth.

So I guess in a sense we get two cracks–one opportunity with our own lives, to say something, be something, feel something and do something that causes the world to be a better place. But then, when our time is finished, we have those we have brought into the world who can offer a new and improved product.

So even though I weep for this gentleman who has passed on, simultaneously a smile comes to my face because I realize that the woman he left behind, carrying his DNA, is intent on making a massive difference.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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Leaning … November 18, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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bad weatherI said yes to life, so here comes no–to give me a chance to prove my point.

The push.

I shove off to achieve and circumstances push back. Now what?

Leaning–either to my own understanding, or trusting God. One makes sense to me and the other sounds really religious. But here’s the problem with my understanding: it is generations and generations and situations and situations, literally screaming at me, “Be careful!”

Now deep in my soul I know that I’ve never been successful while pursuing a path of caution. I haven’t even managed to manipulate a comfortable status quo. After all, the world is filled with tribulation and if you’re not prepared to adjust to the new dilemmas, you will lose ground even if you don’t move one way or the other.

  • My understanding tells me to find a safe path.
  • My understanding reminds me to protect myself.
  • My understanding has a tendency to negate the feelings of others.
  • My understanding generates suspicion which limits my possibilities by removing folks who could be my benefactors.

Trusting God is the step of allowing myself to “be ready.” Ready for what?

  • Ready for change.
  • Ready for adjustment,
  • Ready to use my talents.
  • Ready to recognize opportunity.
  • Ready to completely alter my circumstances if such a maneuver grants me my heart’s desire.

Yes, it comes down to a choice between “be careful” and “be ready.”

Case in point is what happened to me this weekend in Vandalia. I was a little bit frustrated with the circumstances of an engagement that came our way. It was a late-notice arrangement and I was never fully convinced that the venue wanted us to come in the first place. I’m a human being. I want to be loved, I want to be appreciated and I want to be needed. I felt the church had decided to “accommodate” me. I hate that word. I don’t want to be accommodated–I want to be desired.

So because of that, when a storm watch foretold of bad weather on Sunday night, I seized on the opportunity to cancel the date, fully aware that if there were a tornado watch in the air, all of God’s little children would scurry to their basements.

You see, it sounds logical. But actually I was being careful.

Careful about the storm, careful about the audience, and mostly–careful to avoid humiliation by small attendance.

As it turns out, the alleged vicious outpouring from the heavens never materialized and the concert could have been held without interruption.

My leaning was to my own understanding. Rather than being ready to use my talents, abilities and take a chance that things would work out to the good, I decided to be careful. I did it because I was frustrated, cautious and quite honestly, a little lazy.

So the good folks of Vandalia never got a chance to receive what we could share with them.

  • I was tentative
  • I was traditional.
  • I was fussy.
  • I decided to be careful.

And by the way…I was wrong.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Spirit and Truth: Kneel … January 24, 2013

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kneelSomewhere deep in the woods, the paths of religion and spirituality cross-sect near an old oak tree. Well, perhaps not an oak tree, but I like the poetic music…

Normally, the pursuit of God and the acquisition of God are quite divergent paths. Much of what we choose to believe and follow in our worship is more cultural and traditional than it is actually heavenly or practical.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that as long as we don’t pass it off as some sort of universal edict from the Almighty Creator. But I do believe that somewhere along the line, spirit and truth need to merge into the simplicity of hope which energizes our lifestyle and gives thrust to our efforts.

I think that crossroad occurs when we consider the words from the Lord’s Prayer: “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is where spirit and truth unite to form a true faith for those who dare to believe.

Bluntly, there is nothing that is truly spiritual that isn’t also truthful. And there is nothing that is everlasting in truth that isn’t spiritual. So over the years, many things have been believed by religion which had to be cast aside when revelation of knowledge exposed that these contentions were erroneous–or sometimes completely flawed.

For instance, in our own country, slavery was condoned, promoted and authenticated in the scriptures by religion, which misused and misinterpreted ideas to “buy in” to the complexion of the day. Of course–not by everybody. There were those who were spiritual who understood that slavery was eternally a false institution and therefore had no spirit of God in it. They were right.

So my particular belief system is rather childlike. If I discover something that is true, I also know it’s spiritual. And if I uncover something that is truly spiritual, it’s not difficult to align it with the truth. So where do we begin? What is the ultimate crossroad between religion and spirituality, where we decide to build our personal church and kneel to worship?

I have three of them–the three “stones”  I use as a foundation for my faith in God:

1. NoOne is better than anyone else. I won’t go near any organization, political party or denomination that plays around with this principle or even debates whether there might be exceptions to it. it is non negotiable.

2. Free will is sacred. If you are still living in a theology which insists that “God has a wonderful plan for your life,” you are going to spend a lot of time sitting around waiting for God, who is on the other side of the room, waiting for you. No earthly mother or father would make a plan for their children and dangle it in front of them as a condition of receiving approval and love. Why do you think God would do that? The day you understand that God has a wonderful life for your plan, you will start moving out on your talents and succeeding, instead of waiting for Divine inspiration–which has already arrived.

3. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. You’ve got to be careful with this one–many religious organizations insist they believe it, until you happen to do something they disagree with, and then you find yourself suddenly shunned or separated. This means that even the sinful nature that may come across our paths is not able to separate the sinner from the mercy and tenderness of his heavenly Father. Don’t try it. When you are the one to tell one of God’s children that he or she is not part of the family because of their predilections or weaknesses, you will not only incur the frustration of the person you have shut out, but will also find yourself on the wrong end of discipline coming from your heavenly Father.

There you go. Those three ideas are enough to maintain an exciting, vibrant, spiritual, intellectual, romantic and jubilant life. You can feel free to toy with other traditions or suggestions, but be fully aware that if you decide to mess with what God has already put in place, you will end up on the wrong side of history.

Where religion and spirituality meet is called spirit and truth.

It is where we pursue God’s will being done here on earth as it is in heaven, and we realize that if it can’t be done here on earth, then we have to question whether it was God’s idea in the first place.

Too simple? Maybe so. But complication is when we lose our true belief and sacrifice it to error.

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Whosoever… June 18, 2012

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“In a perfect world …”

I hate that phrase. It has to be one of the major cop-outs that has sprung into the lexicon of our generation as a universal excuse for falling short of pursuing excellence or often even achieving adequacy. Here’s my opinion. In a perfect world, we would stop saying, “In a perfect world.”

We keep stockpiling great ideas into an arsenal for storage which we call “the ideal.” I’ve even seen things go into this building to be put on mothballs that used to be functioning parts of society’s thinking.

The most recent one to be stuck in the closet is “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus used it as a symbol of defining the faith he was establishing among his followers, and now we look upon it as something that is impossible to achieve or the ideal that should be done, which we fail at, and therefore required repentance.

Somewhere along the line, we need to recognize that ideals cannot be abandoned without a death toll in the human spirit. I think that’s the problem with the word itself–most of us read the word “ideal” and break it up into two words: “I deal.”

  • “This is the way I deal with that situation.”
  • “This is the way I deal with people who are different.”
  • “This is the way I deal with frustration.”
  • “This is the way I deal with immorality.”
  • “This is the way I deal with telling the truth.”
  • “This is the way I deal with being friendly and open to others.”

When you redefine truth, you always come up with a lie. It’s just the way things are.

Let me give you an example. Yesterday I had the honor of sharing at a church that has three services. Now, they do not have three services because each one is so large that the capacity of the building would not hold them. No, all three services could fit into their sanctuary. There’s another reason that three services have been constructed. Some people in the congregation would say it’s because each group has a different taste in worship–but honestly, that isn’t really the case. Matter of fact, many churches which once had traditional and contemporary services are now blending them in style–but keeping them separate in time slots. So what is the reason for a church to have three services, when combining all three would not fill the room? It’s just the way we deal with our own prejudices.

Yes, there is a silent prejudice in America that cannot be spoken, cannot be shared, cannot be discussed and certainly cannot even be acknowledged. We no longer go around throwing stones or lynching people, but instead, use the sophisticated action of the delineation of our tastes in certain matters to create boundaries between each other. Candidly, there are just people in one service who do not care to be with people in another service because…

Well, I don’t know all the reasons. Honestly, maybe they don’t know all the reasons. Maybe it’s political. I often realize that the services I minister to on any given Sunday are divided right along political lines. The Republicans come at 8:30 and the Democrats at 10:30. Now, it’s not advertised that way, nor presented philosophically. It’s just understood. There are some people who don’t care to be with other people because of what they would view as an “intelligence gap.” It’s too cruel to call people “dumb,” so we substitute. “Simple.” “Country.” “Southern gospel.” “Working class.” “Blue collar.”  All words of prejudice, which trigger in the minds of those who silently hold those principles to be true, that these folks are not completely suitable for interaction.

It was the problem in the south in the 1940’s and ’50’s. Black and white people greeted each other congenially in the streets. They worked together. At first sight, you would have thought there was no difficulty between the races in Dixie whatsoever. The problem came when people of color would accidentally cross a line where prejudice had been drawn, and for some reason they forgot, or just didn’t know, and they suddenly became “uppity.” And then, what was once a very relaxed atmosphere between the races exploded into ferocious anger. Most black people in the south had no idea what the boundaries of “uppity” really were because it would change from time to time, based upon the discretion of the domineering white race.

Here’s what I know–we need some place in America where “whosoever” actually means “whosoever.” We need a place where silent prejudice is confronted as being a bit of silliness and foolish thinking. Honestly, not every person I meet on any given Sunday is particularly to my liking. I probably would not want to spend a week in the Poconos camping with them. But I can share a pew. I can share my heart for an hour. I can break down my bigotry and allow myself to believe that God loves them just as much as He loves me–and therefore God wants me to love them as much as I say I love Him.

Without this, the church is just another locale for silent prejudice, where we segregate off from one another, insisting that it’s just a matter of “preference.”

No one wants to be confrontational on this issue. I certainly don’t want to be known as the poster child for pointing out the silent prejudice existing in the American church. The anger that would be unleashed on such a crude whistle-blower would be almost beyond comprehension. I’m just telling you that I will no longer participate in such an irrelevant and irreverent maneuver.

I need to learn to not only preach, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” but also bathe that philosophy in the acid test of my dealings with humanity every day. I personally was at all three services on Sunday. I experienced the three different congregations. And I will tell you this–the only difference among them was in the level of tolerance they had for anything different from themselves–because if they didn’t like people in their own congregation, they certainly didn’t express any favor towards me. After all, I was a stranger. And if they had a heart to love others, I was blessedly included.

So it doesn’t come down to a choice between hymns and choruses, or organ and guitar. It is really an issue of whether you’re going to pursue the ideal, allow your own prejudice to be exposed, or whether you’re going to create a false world of “I deal,” where all of your prejudices are allowed to stay in full bloom and fill up the garden, forbidding the introduction of other different plants.

Yes, the first thing I would do to change the existing religious system is expose the silent prejudice that blocks us from allowing the “whosoever” ideal of Christ to be enacted. It means that in one accord we would have to admit that we still bring our own fussiness into the mix instead of allowing ourselves an opportunity to interact with people who are different from us.

After all, it’s only for an hour. It won’t kill ya’. You don’t have to go out to Sunday lunch with ’em. But if the church cannot establish itself as a “whosoever” district, we have nothing better to offer than the local bar, which divides itself into beer drinkers, whiskey connoisseurs, and wine sippers.

The first problem in America is silent prejudice. It allows us to maintain the insanity of our grandparents’ bigotry, while appearing to still be intelligent and open-minded.

I have told you many times, I still see color. I was raised that way. But I have learned to pretend that I don’t. I’ve learned how to pretend that it’s righteous that I don’t. And in the process of pretending, I have become a pretty good actor.

“Whosoever” means everybody. And don’t you agree–there should be one place in the world where you can go, where whosoever is not just an ideal, but a reality.

   

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