Jesonian … June 30th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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He had done an excellent job explaining his “View.” He was plugging a new book.

Over the years I had enjoyed his commentary and appearances on television, as he invites a bit of grace and “courtly” into the American thoroughfare of thought.

The segment was winding down when he was asked a question about a recent retaliation a Congresswoman had proffered toward one of her enemies. I saw his countenance change. Suddenly, he appeared beleaguered. Perhaps merely pursuing kindness had left him in despair, causing him to look for more aggressive weapons to address all the surrounding demons.

He replied, “I know we’re supposed to turn the other cheek. That’s what Jesus said. But there’s a reason there’s only one Jesus.”

I stalled. There was a grumbling of approval from the audience, but I did sense that many of them, like me, were hoping that the words “turn the other cheek” had great validity–considering the fact that the alternative offers nothing but disaster.

When has retaliation afforded any lasting effect? Certainly all despots and murderous dictators have to eventually be ousted from power, but it does not keep them from coming back.

We need a more permanent solution.

We need to know that in the midst of making progress, we are actually progressing.

It would be absolutely divine to sense that God is with us. Can we take a moment to take a look at “turn the other cheek?”

The law of that day (and also our day) was “an eye for an eye.” So “turn the other cheek” was a clever way of explaining the process of losing your eye.

It begins with a hit to your face. No one is going to extract your eye without striking you. It is unlikely that the first blow will dislodge your peeper. So it offers the quandary:

Shall I fight back and lose an eye, or maybe die, or end up doing the kill against my will?

At this moment, the reasonable nature of a survivor needs to kick in to provide the possibility for sustaining life. Without this, something will be lost.

Every time two people fight, there are casualties on both sides. No one has been able to come up with a “clean war”–or even an argument free of damage.

And the question is, how many times can we be damaged before we’re beyond repair? And long before we’re beyond repair, are we not without faith?

Turning the other cheek is not a noble concept, lived out by an itinerant Nazarene minister two thousand years ago. It is the clever, intelligent, intuitive and revelatory approach to avoid losing your eye or being forced into extracting life from another.

Whether we like it or not, once we kill, we are murderers. Once we damage, we are destroyers.

The thing my brother failed to realize is that even though turning the other cheek demands that I use much more of my intellect than I would tapping my baboon instincts, those jungle antics always leave some creature dead.

A slap on the cheek is the beginning of an attempt to squash your eye.

You can either retaliate and hope that you are stronger, or, as you bleed out on the ground from your head, wonder if it might not have been better to interrupt the process by turning the other cheek–to buy time for more reasonable negotiations to be considered.

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G-Poppers … March 2nd, 2018

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They were bombed. Yes, completely bombed out of their minds.

G-Pop is talking about Nikita Khrushchev and Mao Zedong, the first secretary of the Communist Party in Russia and the Chairman of the Communist Party in China, respectively.

They were bombed in the sense that they were intoxicated on the power they felt by possessing an arsenal of nuclear weapons. So inebriated were they on their own power that they frequently threatened the world with destruction.

Fortunately, the world was granted a country called the United States, which possessed a President who refused to take the bait and openly, or at least quietly, lobbied against nuclear proliferation.

Beginning with Eisenhower, then Kennedy, Johnson and even Richard Nixon–all were convinced it was essential that the world be disarmed from the threat of atomic annihilation. It continued with Jimmy Carter and even Ronald Reagan, who tried to negotiate treaties while simultaneously being an usher at the falling of the House of Lenin.

Vladimir Putin of Russia and Kim Jung Un of North Korea are also bombed. They have picked up on the infection of egotistical, maniacal manipulation through the news cycle by threatening humanity with demise.

Here is where G-Pop is concerned: we seem to have lost the American president who stands in the way of these bombed individuals. Unfortunately, some chest-thumping and threats are now coming from the red, white and blue.

We have three leaders in the world who are bombed. At no time in our history has such a precarious imbalance loomed over the precious lives of our children.

It does not do any good to claim to be a Christian nation if we continue to politically and diplomatically live under the pretext of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

Sanity must prevail, and we can’t wait for a redemption story to come from the Kremlin or North Korea. It is up to our President to follow the examples of his predecessors and control the danger which might accidentally be unleashed just to prove a point.

G-Pop wants his children to know that much of this Earth is negotiated by balancing. It’s not an issue of compromise, but rather, a deterrent to insanity through seeking the counsel of better “angles.”

We are in trouble.

It’s not because Putin is in Russia or Kim Jung Un is in North Korea. It’s because we’ve lost our perspective as a nation on how foolish it is to intimidate–and how such maneuvers can create alarming predicaments which might force us to back up our claims.

Where is the voice of reason?

Where is the realization that military might is best used in exercises instead of filling body bags?

G-Pop is praying for restraint.

G-Pop, who had a grandson born just today, is attempting to encourage “turn the other cheek,” which allows us to keep our good face alive and well.

 

 

 

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Jesonian… February 25th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Completely inundated by a traffic jam of divergent opinions, many of which are directly or indirectly attributed to the thinking of Jesus of Nazareth, I decided to sit down one afternoon this week and spend some time with my good old buddies, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John–reading all the “red stuff.”

Yes, I still have one of those Bibles where all the things Jesus said are highlighted in red, granting them the significance of being the thoughts of God.

The purpose for my quest was simple–I wanted to narrow down the three basic topics of Jesus’ mindset. Because when you finish perusing all this material, you realize that he said a lot–and you also quickly conclude that he intended his words to be honored, to the point that he measured the love of his followers by how much they held his teachings in regard.

I finally came up with three. You might have different suggestions. Honestly, there were a lot of great runner-ups.

My three statements of Jesus that punctuate his ministry are as follows:

1. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Just about a third of what Jesus talked about has to do with human relationships.

Candidly, Jesus was not terribly concerned about our relationship with God. Instead, he paralleled and intertwined it with our interactions with our fellow humans. So even though “turn the other cheek” was nearly a winner, it fell under “love your neighbor as yourself.”

And “loving the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength…” was included because Jesus closed it out by saying “… and your neighbor as yourself.”

2. Count the cost.

This is about human common sense.

Anyone who believes they can live a life to honor Father God by spitting in the eye of Mother Nature is in for a sorry conclusion. Jesus never suggested that we ignore the signs of the times or even the color of the sky, if it might give us wisdom on whether to bring an umbrella.

In other words, get saved but don’t lose your brain. You’ll need it.

3. Go the second mile.

This is human motivation.

Try as I will to find teachings of Jesus where he advocates languishing in grace or getting sleepy in our salvation, I fell short. He believed that “by our fruits” we will be known. He also said, “if somebody takes your coat, give them your cloak also.”

He contended that the power we have is our ability to continue the race when others have fallen out.

So a third of the Gospel is about human relationships. Another chunk is about human common sense, and the final piece is human motivation.

If we simply return to that glorious format laid out for us in the writings in red, the people around us who desire relationships, common sense and motivation will find the BEST FRIEND they ever had in the world.

Until Jesus is honored as a life coach instead of merely a baby born to die for our sins, we will hemorrhage people from the church.

 

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Ask Jonathots … November 17th, 2016

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When turning the other cheek, how do you ensure you won’t be slapped twice?

A door has two functions.

If open, it provides access to another possibility.

If closed, it creates curiosity, but also can pass along the impression that what is beyond the barrier is forbidden.

The reason most people fight is because the doors are closed. It’s the main reason that “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” fails to achieve any purpose–because slamming the door in the face of another human being does not mean they won’t try to burst through or close doors in your face.

Retaliation is a never-ending process–unless somebody opens a door.

I have relationships with people who are fruitful, even though they’ve been speckled with egregious conflict and offense. They work because doors are left open.

And I have broken connections with other folks that were halted because the door was slammed on communication, leaving behind a climate of mistrust–a grudge.

When you turn the other cheek, you refuse to slam the door on the possibility of creating peace.

Will someone take advantage of your willingness and slug you again? Perhaps. But if you push back they will certainly follow up their violence with additional attacks.

For after all, there are no guarantees when it comes to interaction with human beings, yet I can promise you that if you slam doors, strike out, or try to get even, you will certainly be in danger of escalating the aggression.

It is in that moment of turning the other cheek, refusing to participate, and allowing for cooler heads to prevail, that you thrust a mirror into the face of your enemy and let him or her see themselves as the villain.

Does it always work? Does anything?

Certainly there are some folks who will continue to beat on you once you stop fighting, but it is not the norm. Usually when you refuse to seek revenge, you will stall the vitriol of others and give them pause to contemplate.

In that moment, more than likely you will avoid the second slapping–and just possibly open the door to conversation. 

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Ask Jonathots… September 29th, 2016

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I am always suspicious of superstition–blaming resistance on outside forces and nefarious entities. But at the same time I believe the blessings in life are always wrapped in hassle and difficulty. How can you tell the difference between the resistance that comes from a bad idea and the resistance that come from the brink of greatness?

In the moment of conflict, our personal reaction cannot be controlled.

Even though people insist they can “count to ten, take a deep breath” or “breathe a prayer” to muster a mature response to difficulty, we have already locked in our profile.

This is the essence of “turn the other cheek.”

Jesus is saying that we must literally choreograph our reactions. Otherwise we will spill out the abundance of our emotional turmoil.

Therefore, it really doesn’t matter if something comes from a nefarious source or if it’s just an inconvenience.

Our reaction determines if it will be elongated or eliminated.

So we should be working on an emotional sense of security. We are heart creatures. We don’t answer tribulation from our spirit. All communication comes from the abundance of our heart.

So where should we start?

We should work on the dance–the ability to know how to move when life tries to stop us. To do this we must learn to recognize the triggers that cause us to fall back into genetic or pre-programmed training instead of making our own pure choice.

1. If I’m angry and I do not reveal it, it will turn into frustration, which will make me incapable of handling any unwanted surprise.

2. If I feel cheated and don’t voice my concerns, I will accidentally look for ways to diminish the ego of others to match my depleted profile.

3. If I’m tired of trying, I will stop doing the necessary steps that make my effort productive and start acting entitled.

4. If I believe that I’m supposed to find my enemies in order to isolate and avoid them instead of love them and overcome them with wisdom, then I will become paranoid and find myself making new adversaries.

Even those evangelicals who fear Satan and his wiles need to realize that the punishment of the Serpent in the Garden of Eden was to be cast down to Earth. In other words, evil has to work with Earth-bound fussiness to get at the believer.

So any way you look at it, the more you prepare for life by choreographing an emotional outlook that is not shocked by the arrival of setbacks, the better the chance that you can conquer problems–whether you believe they are natural or supernatural.

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Ask Jonathots … January 21st, 2016

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When is it right to fight–to stand up for yourself? Everyone I know and everywhere I look, people say you have to “fight back” and “defend yourself.” So what does it mean to “turn the other cheek” or even “thou shall not kill?” And how is it we are a “Christian nation” when fighting and killing and wars are constant?

Let’s begin with the concept of a “Christian nation.”

Jesus never envisioned his work as a country. He said his “kingdom is not of this world.” So the Christian message was intended to be an individual experience. Then these converts were challenged to become “the light of the world,” and affect the climate of society.

So to tout ourselves as a Christian nation, we have blended in the concepts of the Old Testament so that we can obtain a nationalistic flavor. And when you include the Old Testament, you get “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” and vendettas against enemies.

So I don’t know if it’s possible to approach this as a Christian nation without including ideas which Jesus said had been cast aside in favor of more loving and noble adventures.

If we were a Christian nation, our agenda would be simple: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In other words, take care of those around us and develop a healthy, prejudice-free environment where people can prosper, and in so doing, gain personal peace of mind and solvency.

Then that “city on a hill” could be a testimony to the world and they could begin to measure their philosophies against our philosophy, and decide where they might want to revise their thinking.

Of course, in the process, we must realize that enemies still come along due to jealousy and revenge, but when this happens, we can stand guard without totally destroying those who attack us.

This is exemplified in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus takes eleven men into this secluded place for a time of prayer, asking them if they had the means to defend themselves, and when they said, “We have two swords,” he replied, “It is enough.”

So if we could put together a military without trying to overwhelm our enemies with our prowess, then we would be in a position to take the rest of our money and use it to improve the lives of our citizens instead of constructing an arsenal of intimidation.

You will be told by most people that this idea is childish and stupid. This is why Jesus never intended to take over countries and rule them.

The Christian message is intended to be placed in existing cultures, and through its charity, affect the climate that surrounds it.

So I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this question. Yet I will tell you that the fighting and killing that goes on in our world cannot be attributed to the message of Jesus of Nazareth, because he never intended to possess turf.

And if you ever have to add Old Testament to New Testament to justify your actions, then you are not living under the total spiritual impact of the Kingdom of God.

So I walk in a simple situation:

  • If the United States is attacked, we should defend ourselves.
  • We should also protect the innocent of the world as much as possible without entering into old grudges that are thousands of years in the making.
  • And we should take most of our financial power to build up the lives of our people so that we can offer a testimony of peace and prosperity to the world around us.

Whatever it would take to do this is what would be sufficient. Because when eleven men told Jesus they had two swords, he said it was enough.

It certainly is not enough to attack, but it did end up being enough to allow them to escape.

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Ask Jonathots … September 24th, 2015

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It seems to me that you only win in life if you’re aggressive. For instance, Donald Trump, who is extremely defensive and cutting, leads in the Republican polls. I’m not asking you to talk about politics, just answer this question: how can Jesus suggest that we get anywhere by “turning the other cheek?” Or is he just talking about the afterlife?

I think the problem in most people’s thinking is that they like to characterize certain words as positive or negative. Putting it in simpler terms, most folks would consider passive to be the opposite of aggressive.

But the issue is not whether we should be aggressive. The issue is, to whom?

You are absolutely correct–aggression expressed to others as a means of domination or for generating payback is not only non-spiritual, but also generally considered, in the long run, to be a lame choice.

Yet we are certainly supposed to be aggressive to ourselves. Intertwined in the teachings of Jesus is a strong motivational message to go the second mile, be perfect even as the Father in Heaven is perfect, and take care of the beam in your own eye instead of worrying about the mote in your brother’s eye.

The foible in humans is that we would much rather be aggressive toward other people’s weaknesses than our own.

Donald Trump is characterized as aggressive, but he isn’t alone. There is a general consensus in our society that we can achieve success by–pardon the expression–“trumping” others. Nothing could be further from the truth.

After all, insult may be the only word that never requires a period. As long as an insult is hanging in the air, it’s just awaiting the arrival of the next insult.

So what does it mean–to be aggressive to yourself?

1. Take an inventory.

Consider what you actually can do instead of what you want to do, and then work on those talents.

2. Practice what you want to achieve until you reach the point that you don’t have to make excuses for your shortcomings.

There will still be failures but you want to make sure they are not caused by your lack of perseverance.

3. Don’t compare your work to the work of others.

Compare it to your own vision and what you desire to achieve.

The Jesonian life–a life following Jesus–is an aggressive one–but not in relationship to our judgment and critique of others.

Rather, in our own passion to perfect our ways … and learn how to go the second mile.

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