Jesonian: Fire, Wind and Water … July 13, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2290) 

PentecostFire, wind and water–the three ingredients of the Day of Pentecost.

It was the appointed time in the history of human kind when God once and for all infused His spirit inside our spirit, to create what He hoped would be a spirit of revival.

  • The fire–the spoken word through our tongue.
  • The rushing mighty wind, displaying the power of God.
  • And the water of baptism, to wash away the enormity of sin.

But you see, this all just sounds like a sermon–the kind of clever parallels that ministers and theologians put together in the privacy of their “den of simplicity,” to try to impress congregations with a bit of insight to mingle with their devotion to God.

Honestly, it’s just too religious. Truthfully, it bores.

Because if you get fire, wind and water out of order, nothing is effective.

To lead with fire–or talking–burns everybody up.

Too much wind of religious practice blows out the fire, leaving just a hint of smoke.

And water can just drown us, dousing everything so that it’s impossible to ignite the flame.

What I would like to do is take the religion and holiness out of all this speak and instead, make it clear exactly what it means to be Jesonian, a follower of Jesus, instead of a generic Christian–one who reveres Christ.

HandBecause if the ideas of Jesus of Nazareth did not set us free by offering truth, but were just another path of righteousness, then perhaps the notion that one well-beaten path is as good as another would be well-founded.

But Jesus didn’t come to start another religion. He came to generate a reasonable and transferable lifestyle.

So here’s the real fire:

No one is better than anyone else.

These words set ablaze all the prejudice, superiority, self-righteousness and arrogance that exist in our world, and purge the forest of misunderstanding.

Here’s the wind:

Find out what you can do and do it well.

After all, just speaking, promising, blustering and preaching don’t carry any mighty effect. But the confidence you gain by realizing that you have a talent and purpose, and then multiplying that ability to the point where you believe you can do it well, creates a breeze of creativity and hope to those around you.

And the water:

Get what you need out of life and then share the balance with everyone else.

Life is neither about fasting nor is it about hoarding. It is about securing the air mask on your own face before you try to help others breathe.

It is knowing exactly what satisfies your soul and not feeling the need to have more–or less–but if you do have more, strategically getting rid of it to the souls that God sends your way.

The Jesonian lifestyle is realizing that the power of God is in the fire, the wind and the water. But rather than teaching about it figuratively, we go out and speak and live that “no one is better than anyone else” as we find out what we can do, discover opportunities to do it well, and in the process get what we want–and give away the rest.

It is why I am a follower of Jesus. Every other philosophy and religion deals in too much symbolism.

These three abide.

These three can change our world.

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Untotaled: Stepping Six (May 8, 1965) … March 15, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

(2177)

When people control your food, water, hygiene, play and sleep, you learn to believe what they say–or spend a lot of time in your room without supper.

On May 8, 1965, I was thirteen years old and still a novice at any form of teenage rebellion. So when the church men decided to go to the mountains of Oklahoma for a meeting of all-male types–three thousand in attendance–to hear nothing but gospel preaching and gospel singing for a whole week, sitting on hard, knotty pine benches with a big knot just beneath my butt crack, I was compelled by those who controlled my supplies, to go.

It ended up being a week of firsts:

  • It was the first time I ever went skinny dipping in an ice-cold mountain creek.
  • It was the first time I heard that Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Communist and a womanizer.
  • The first time I had s’mores made with miniature marshmallows.
  • The first time I heard proclaimed aloud that Jews and Arabs were going to hell.
  • The first time I got poison sumac on my bum (thus the origin of “bummer,” I would assume).
  • And it was the first time I heard the word “nigger” used as a universal, collective pronoun, describing a group of people I didn’t understand and I suspect the speakers had little knowledge of, either.

The rally was forceful. It was intense. It was a meeting that peaked at times in jubilance. It was full of “god-talk.” It was permeated with self-righteousness.

And it was child abuse.

Because I needed …

Well, I needed tenderness. Instead, they gave me large doses of macho.

I needed an open mind. They worked very hard to seal mine shut.

God, I was desperate to know about girls. They proclaimed that women should “submit.”

Some laughter would have been nice. They reserved giggling for the older men around the campfire after they thought we young’uns were asleep.

And of course, I needed a world view. They provided God’s 40 acres.

After I got home and healed of my poison sumac, I started to think for myself. Yes, in my own simple way, I began to rebel.

I have never stopped.

I am still a warrior against anyone who has constructed a box for God … and wants the sheep to come passively, and worship.

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G-6: Life or Strife?… January 10, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2117)

Gas, food and lodging.

These are the three items that I place at the top of my budget each and every week. I guess I’m not alone. Without these, we find it difficult to be secure, comforted and intricately involved in the process of human development.

Matter of fact, there are three elements necessary for life to exist at all–chemical energy, water and light. Without this trio of forces, life–well, at least life as we know it–cannot exist.

  • So chemical energy is like gas, fueling the possibility for growth and procreation.
  • Water is like food, feeding the endeavor
  • And light is like lodging, wherein we find our relaxation and sense of well-being.

Here’s what happens: when you mess with these three, human beings have a tendency to immediately leap from a cheerful pursuit of life into strife. When we don’t have what is necessary to breed a sense of growth, we shrink to darker corners, first becoming apathetic, then sullen and finally, vindictive.

Yet at the same time, we have a tendency in our present culture to deny the basics of life to the human family and then wonder why we end up with so much controversy, debate, anger and bigotry.

What is missing from the elixir of life in our present day?

1. We don’t mix our chemicals correctly.arguing

For instance, men and women were never created to be at odds with each other. They are interlocking portions of a human creation which requires understanding, interaction and meaningful dialogue. When you tamper with that natural order of communication and insist that it should be adversarial, you create strife. Once we have strife between men and women, it is an easy slide to establishing prejudices regarding other differences.

2. We’re taking the water out of life.

In some sort of bizarre adventure to promote the unseemly and dark areas of people-thinking, we have eliminated what keeps us wet and excited. Much as we may insist that we are absorbed in the macabre and the sinister, human emotions are actually starved for tenderness, mercy, understanding and acceptance. Where we need to have “rivers of life,” we’re purposefully drying things out, leaving  deserts.

3. And finally, we’re turning off the light.

If there is a possibility of finding a bleak representation of current facts, we will be given those little anecdotes instead of examples of goodness and purity winning the day. Here’s a case in point:

Adolph bunkerIn 1940 it appeared as if Adolph Hitler was unstoppable. A dark cloud of evil prejudice and domination encompassed the earth. People were scampering in horror. Our great nation was hiding in a corner, trying to avoid any conflict with this monster from middle Europe.

Yet it lasted for only five more years–and declining at that. Perhaps the greatest war-machine villain, hater of God and man, who scared little children and made great leaders of nations shiver in their boots, was found dead, under the ground in a bunker, frightened to death himself.

So I’m confused. Why do we promote evil so strongly, trying to douse the light of hope, when historically, truth seems to eventually have its day?

If you don’t have the elements of life, which are water, light and chemical energy, just like if you don’t have your gas, food and lodging, insecurity will enter your soul, and you will find yourself abrasively pursuing strife instead of life.

I guess it depends on whether you want to plant the seed of possibilityor merely investigate that which is seedy.

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Chris(t)-Cross … August 8, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1969)

crossA manger would have been nice … since he was born to be the Prince of Peace.

A Pyramid would have been in order … exiled in Egypt as a young boy during his FIRST rejection by the religious and political systems of Judea.

Water would certainly have been apropos …  baptism changed his life from being a carpenter to an itinerant messenger.

Even wine would have been a fascinating symbol  … his first miracle in Cana of Galilee was to turn water into wine.

How about loaves of bread and fishes? … an encounter he had with his disciples, when he asked them to bring what they had and then he reciprocated.

I just thought of another one.

A stone … he saved an adulterous woman by using one as an example of judging others and also allowed the Angel of the Lord to roll one away during his resurrection.

Yes, anything about the resurrection would have been absolutely lovely.

But the general consensus was to choose the cross.

I suppose it’s because salvation was garnered through the ordeal and we mortals selfishly focused on that particular image. The day of the cross was certainly not one of Jesus’ better days, but there is an impact to it that cannot be denied. It is so powerful that Jesus informs us that we each have to take up our own cross and bear it daily.

So I see the significance.

To Jesus the cross was not a sign of victory, but rather, of responsibility–a job he did because it was the next thing that needed to be done and he decided not to run away from it.

I travel tonight to the Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Petoskey, Michigan. I don’t know anything about them. I don’t know whether they’ll show up, and have no assurety that they’ll like me or even listen. I don’t say this to be negative. I share it with you because it is the cross of my responsibility.

In tribute to my friend, I will not run away from it.

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Thick is bloodier than water… November 8, 2012

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Michael won.

I was furious. It wasn’t supposed to happen. My arrogance and stupidity got together and planned a pity party with no refreshments. I didn’t understand. I had won junior class president the year before, only challenged by one girl who received two votes–her own and that of her twin sister. I was supposed to be a shoo-in.

But before we elected our senior class officers, Michael decided at the last minute to throw his hat in the ring, and he got all of his buddies together from the Future Farmers of America (the FFA) to support him, boosting him on their shoulders to victory. This was made possible because I lived in a rural community where the FFA was the largest club in the school.

As painful as it was to lose to Michael, even more aggravating was the discovery that my friend, Howard, had gone behind my back and voted for my opponent. Howard explained to me that he felt compelled to do so because he, too, was a farmer, and the pressure from the club to get behind Michael was more than he could resist.

I was so pissed off. Howard and I were friends. Now granted, we hadn’t tilled the soil together or considered the best way to herd cows, but we had done many more important human things which should have engaged his loyalty in my direction.

For instance, we sang in a quartet together. That means there were days of rehearsal, little road trips, late-night talks about girls and how parts worked, giggling, crying…and oh, speaking of crying, I was there with Howard when he discovered that his girlfriend, Jackie, was dating Ben behind his back. (By the way, another farmer.) Actually, Howard was not sure that Jackie was being a two-timer, so one night the two of us went out in his 1958 Chevy coupe and found Ben and Jackie, parked in Lover’s Lane, necking away, with Ben plowing where Howard had already planted crops. Howard was devastated. I stayed up with him all night, talking, crying and coming to the early morning decision that Jackie was just no good.

So you see, we had history. We were friends. And honestly, sometimes being a friend is much stronger than being a relative, especially a farmer. I just didn’t understand.

Howard knew I was angry. I stayed that way for at least a month. We would talk, but I made sure that he was aware that out of revenge, I was withholding some of the better stories that I could have been sharing. Actually, within a couple of weeks, I was glad that I wasn’t president of the class. Being vice-president meant I didn’t have the responsibility, but still got out of class, still got the respect of students and teachers, but Michael was left to deal with the sticky messes. But I didn’t tell Howard that’s how I felt. No, Howard was on my crap list. And it really wasn’t a list–just Howard’s name, signed at the bottom.

Finally one day, Howard took me aside and tried to explain. He said, “You know, blood is thicker than water.”

I just stared at him. “Is there a bloodline of farmers? And what’s that got to do with anything?”

But in a moment of pity I looked into his eyes and realized that Howard was afraid. And whenever we’re afraid, we go back to patterns of behavior ingrained in us long before we are able to resist. After all, even if your parents were abusive, they were still the first ones to put a bottle in your mouth and tell you about Santa Claus. It’s hard to forget that. And if your parents are farmers and you’re a member of FFA, it makes you feel like you’re betraying your kin if you vote for your buddy instead of your barn-mate.

I didn’t exactly forgive him, but I realized he was thick. Emotion, truth, gentleness, loyalty and faithfulness were unable to get through a crusty hide of tradition and false respect.

We eventually made up. If I recall, it had something to do with him meeting a new girl, who also cheated on him–so we had to go out together and chase down the latest infidelity. (For some reason Howard had very poor success in maintaining the ongoing affection of loyal girlfriends.)

I remember this story because I always want to be reminded that not all blessing comes from my family tree. Not all wisdom comes from my little village. And not all growth can be spawned from my little garden patch of understanding.

I need newness of life–and that includes new people with new ideas, new faces and new ways that may at first seem contrary to me, but in the long run, expand my heart and make me a better human.

Thick is what bloodies the waters.

Dear God, help me not to be thick-headed, building concrete around my brain.

Heavenly Father, help me not to be thick-gutted, padding the fat around my waist with additional reinforcements.

And Almighty Creator, keep me from being thick-hearted, protecting my emotions from the experiences that will make me more understanding instead of so doggone sure of myself.

I didn’t get to be senior class president. Part of it was because a dear cohort chose a farmer over a friend. But what I learned is that God always allows us to grow, even from our disappointments, as long as we don’t get so thick that He can’t reach our insides.

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It May Not be Heaven, but … February 3, 2012

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Waking up in the morning is a daily reenactment of resurrection, minus the needful suffocation.  Blink, blink, achy, achy, please let me roll over–can’t do it, sit up, feet on the floor … life commences. Again.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure is heavenly.
 
Twenty ounces of water. It is astounding what this liquid treasure can do for our bodies–for truthfully, we don’t arise in the morning hungry, but rather, thirsty. We are nearly depleted of all fluids, or at least down a quart or two, and just pouring that refreshment into our vessel does more to wake us up than any television show or music on the radio ever could.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure goes down heavenly.
 
Hot water pelting my skin, trying to stimulate me to grab the bar of soap and join in the party, sudsing myself while water pours from the wall, cleansing every nook and cranny.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure showers heavenly.
 
Food–what a glorious notion. Some days it’s a bowl of cereal with bananas and strawberries; every once in a while, an egg white omelet. I also eat these bran crisp crackers with fat-free cream cheese and sugar-free jelly, which literally tickle my innards and provide a moving experience. Add yourself a half of a grapefruit and…
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure tastes heavenly.
 
An incomprehensible blessing–being able to sit down every morning and write an essay read by thousands of people, and also personal emails sent to friends and family, which you hope will at least be adequately perused. Pithy is not nearly as important as real.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure feels heavenly.
 
Getting up on my feet, limping a bit through the creaks of sixty years on well-traveled hooves, I head out the door to run errands. Isn’t it magnificent that as long as you have a dab of money in your pocket and a notion of what you want, and neither of those exceed or underestimate one another, you can purchase things that make your day a little bit better? And of course–don’t forget to mail that letter.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure runs heavenly.
 
Time to get an oil change in that big, black van. In the process I meet two young, giggling gents who are excited about the upcoming big game on Sunday. They have their favorites, so I tease them by pretending that their choices are crazed or foolish. We laugh. It’s over very quickly … and to punctuate the enjoyment, I give my new buddies a little extra money to bless themselves. They are so appreciative that the blessing returns to me.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure embraces heavenly.
 
I make a stop in the park to read the Gospel of Mark, never actually knowing that it would rhyme. I’m reading it to afford myself fresh eyes to capture the emotion, passion and message of this first gospel to see what young John Mark was trying to tell us about his friend. Sweet journey.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure reads heavenly.
 
With all the mystery of  a fairy tale and the magic of a Nazarene miracle, suddenly appearing at the window of my van is a passerby who tells me of his plight–a flat tire with no funds. He pleads for finance, informing me that he’s already been rejected by four people, one apparently doing so by referring to him as a “nigger.” He says that everybody seems scared of him. Fresh from my bathing in the waters of Mark, I look him in the eye and say, “I’m not scared.” It was fascinating. My lack of fear seemed to frighten him a bit. I did not attempt to determine the veracity of his story–I did not care. Giving is not about the integrity of the receiver, but rather, the heart of the provider. I submitted the funds for his need and he began to make promises to me on how he would repay. I stopped him. “Don’t,” I said. “Just find a way to give to someone else.”  He shook my hand and disappeared.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure is “angels unaware” heavenly.
 
A stop off at the Sonic Drive-In to get a corn dog and onion rings before returning to my traveling companion for luncheon. Wow.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure drives in heavenly.
 
I watched an episode about the Ponderosa as I munched on my onion rings. For a moment I was a little boy sitting in front of our Zenith black and white set, six inches away from the screen, constantly being hounded by my mother for my proximity to the potentially dangerous box. Hoss, Little Joe, Pa and Adam … still work.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure is a “Bonanza” of the heavenly.
 
I steal myself a nap, even though it’s completely my choice, and I arise to do some exercise, which I pretend is of my own volition. I eat some chicken with vegetables and half a sweet potato as I settle into the evening, allowing the satisfaction of the day to produce giddiness, which eventually, amazingly, lends itself to sleepiness. The day is over.
 
It may not be heaven, but it sure has become heavenly.
 
I have studied things of God and life for my entire journey. Having done so, I am no more assured of eternity than I was the first day someone mentioned the word “heaven.” But my years of travel have taught me one important lesson–if there is a heaven, then there’s no reason to wait for it, when we’re completely capable of duplicating some of its beauty right here on earth. And if there isn’t a heaven, then we desperately need one, so we should make certain that every step on our journey has a supernal quality.
 
For verily I say unto you: religion is waiting for God.
 
Heaven is enjoying Him now.
 
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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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