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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Jesonian: 19 Things Jesus Did Specifically Say… March 1, 2015

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1.  Love your neighbor as yourself

2.  Don’t judge or you will be judged

3.  Not everyone who cries “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom.

4.  Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect

5.  When you do what is asked of you, call yourself unproductive

6.  What you do to the least of these you have done to me

7.  To he who much is given much is expected

8.  Go the second mile

9.  I have not come to destroy the world

10.  Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more

11.  Before Abraham was, I am

12.  My family is anyone who does the will of my Father

13.  I have come to fulfill the Law

14.  Turn the other cheek

15.  Count the cost

16.  Your faith has made you whole

17.  A man leaves his mother, a woman her home and the two shall be one flesh

18.  The kingdom of God is within you

19.  Whoever offends one of these little ones, it would be better if a millstone were hung around his neck and he would be drowned in the sea

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Populie: Stand Up for Yourself … June 18, 2014

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 fightingTo gain any understanding of human relationships, we must learn the difference between bullying and physical abuse.

There is no doubt that if a we are physically attacked, a certain amount of defense is necessary to protect ourselves. Yet to channel that aggression into our everyday lives simply because we are dealing with critics, bullies and self-centered opponents is to open the door to cynicism and allow ourselves to become defensive and jaded.

There is a popular belief that we are required to defend ourselves against personal assault. The populie is that we should stand up for ourselves in all circumstances and never allow anyone to put us down.

Religion loves this simply because it allows them to drain creaky energy from the Old Testament, which permits a much more vindictive attitude towards those who are their enemies. (Allow me to warn you–every time you use the Old Testament to support your spiritual and emotional choices, you are denying the purpose for the lifestyle of Jesus.)

Politics loves “stand up for yourself” because it opens the door to deniability. In other words, even though you’ve done stupid or careless things, as long as you can deny them and act offended by the assertion, you can outlast your critics. This is the way politics works.

And of course, entertainment wants to put the hero in the corner with his or her back against the wall, and then have them fight their way to acceptance or freedom, to the applause and cheers of those who bought a ticket and a bucket of popcorn.

But if everybody in the world retaliates when challenged, then we will spend all of our time putting out brush fires of arguments instead of discovering the truth about ourselves and better ways to live.

Candidly, I almost didn’t write this essay because I knew my approach on this issue would be unpopular and even considered unnatural. But the greatest thing you can do when accused, verbally attacked, questioned or placed in a corner is to refuse to participate in the exercise because it only leads to a back-and-forth, meaningless futility. I attack you, you attack me, we attack each other, and then everyone around us is forced to take sides.

Writing a daily column on the Internet constantly puts me at risk of being questioned or even ambushed by people who choose to be critical of the work of others instead of venturing an effort of their own. I have developed a three-step process for everything I do in my life:

1. I said it.

In other words, as long as you’re quoting me correctly, I don’t have any problem with your disagreement and I refuse to question how you approach your comment. You are entitled to be upset with my words, my life and my choices. The power I have is in standing behind my words, my lifestyle and my choices.

I am not sure I know the value of an apology that begins with, “If I offended you … ”

When I offend you, I will apologize dearly, but if my mere beliefs and presence is a source of annoyance to you, I will continue my life and pray that you get over it.

2. I did it.

I am hungry and thirsty to see and hear human beings admit what they’ve done without clarification, excuse or defensiveness. I will tell you right now, if Richard Nixon had admitted what he knew about the Watergate break-in, been honest about his involvement and shared it immediately, he would never have been forced to resign.

I don’t know when we started thinking that diversion, lying, cheating and misrepresentation can ever win the day. Not only will the truth make you free, but if you reject the freedom, your sins will find you out.

3. This is who I am.

It doesn’t mean I’m not working on getting better; it doesn’t mean I’m always right. Certainly there are things I could learn from you. Yet I got over the need to pretend when I stopped being a child.

This is who I am.

I know there is such a thing as bullying, but if our children had more confidence about what they say, do and who they are, the silence they offer to the aggressive individuals around them would soon rob the varmints of the pleasure of riling them up.

Yes, we empower our enemies when we take their insults seriously.

So when we turn the other cheek, we are not being noble; rather, it is a sophisticated form of stubbornness … refusing to be curtailed by the whim and wishes of others.

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After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Jesonian: Good Christian Folk … February 9, 2014

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better Conestoga WagonIt became very obvious to me that I needed a new word–a different term to express the faith I hold dear and the devotion I feel as a disciple of Jesus.

The signature title, “Christian,” had lost its impetus, credibility and definition. Too many people had attached themselves to it like leeches, sucking the blood of Christ out of the experience and leaving behind all the powerful notions of brotherhood and human excellence.

There was a time when “Christian” was a magnificent proclamation, producing clarity in the minds of those who heard it. When the American pioneers were making their way West across the mountains in their Conestoga wagons, the phrase, “good Christian folk” was an oasis of hope and a promise of tenderness.

Matter of fact, when informed that people were “good Christian folk” you knew four things:

  1. These were people who would give you a chance and not judge you.
  2. If you were hungry they would feed you. Thirsty, they would give you drink, and if you didn’t have a place to sleep, they would provide a bed.
  3. They would always turn the other cheek instead of getting pissed off and allowing their emotions to overrule their devotion.
  4. They were determined to work hard without bitching.

Somewhere along the line, each of these principles has been abandoned, a generation at a time, until the term “Christian” has transformed itself into a safe word, to be interpreted as either “a patriotic American” or an individual who goes to church.

  • For instance, we have exchanged the lack of judgment of others for a moral majority.
  • We’ve made feeding the hungry and helping the homeless a “bleeding-heart liberal” sentiment.
  • “Turning the other cheek” has been rejected in favor of standing up for yourself, whether you’re right or wrong.

And hard work has been displaced by seeking ways to gain finance by keeping money away from those trying to ascend

We need a new word.

So one day I just decided to invent one. I didn’t do it to be revolutionary. Nor was I trying to be merely clever. I wasn’t attempting to attack the religious convictions of others.

I just could no longer call myself a generic Christian, and allow you to quietly fill in the blanks based upon your observations or prejudices.

The word I came up with was “Jesonian.” It is taking into consideration the sentiments, the heart, the mission and the ministry of Jesus instead of trying to balance the entire Bible as a unit for mutual appreciation.

It was my way of saying that what Jesus did is more powerful than the Book of Deuteronomy.

It was my way of proclaiming that I was not a Jew nor a Muslim, but rather, an individual who follows Jesus because he respects the pursuit of information without embarrassment, and gives freedom to others, even when he was denied it by their bigotries.

I would love to go back to a time when the phrase “good Christian folk” was not only significant, but also let everybody know the true extent of your passion.

But until that becomes true again, I am Jesonian. And Jesonian means to be a follower of Jesus, while honoring knowledge and giving place to the liberty of others.

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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

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