Good News and Better News … April 18th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Antioch

Yesterday it was my joy to share my heart with dear souls in Antioch, Tennessee.

In the Book of Acts, it informs us that Antioch was the first city where the new believers in Jesus were referred to as “Christians.” It was meant to be a derogatory term, thrown at this new movement by the arrogant Greeks, who were trying to connote that the people who believed in the Nazarene were just a bunch of “little Jesuses.”

In other words, they had no mind of their own.

I didn’t talk about this to the people yesterday because I figured that over the years they have probably grown weary of the reference. But it did help me realize that the term “Christian” has become synonymous with going to church, or being religious, instead of being like Jesus.

Jesus frustrated religious people. After a while they got tired of being frustrated, so they decided to murder him.

Even though your average church-going people will admit that attendance is dwindling and that people seem to be “leaving the steeple,” they still insist that there’s basically nothing errant with what’s going on behind the stained glass windows.

Here is something I have learned:

If it’s not working, it’s probably not going to get better just because you keep doing it. And if it’s not working, the first step is to admit it’s broken, and then commit to getting it fixed.

The problem in the church is simple–it is a body of believers working under a false premise. The false premise is that we please God by gathering to worship Him.

Jesus made it clear that we please God by being the salt of the Earth and the light of the world.

Can you see the difference?

So as I leave Antioch, having had a tremendous morning of fellowship with these dear friends, I can offer them a simple suggestion:

Do one thing.

Yes–just start pursuing one thing that’s different from what you’re doing now. And make sure it doesn’t resemble anything like the present menu offered in church.

Maybe you could adopt one family in the community every week, take $150 and buy them groceries and shoes for the kids. Put a committee in charge of this endeavor.

Then on Sunday morning you can share, having something for prayer time other than weddings, funerals, births and sicknesses.

How about challenging twenty people from your congregation to volunteer just one hour a week in area nursing homes, food banks or homeless shelters–and then have them testify of their encounters.

Maybe the pastor could do the same thing–or take a small part-time job to increase his or her humanity in the community. Play guitar? Start a cover band and play at the local bar on Saturday nights prior to the Sunday services.

Take something that is non-church but filled with Jesus and act it out in your community every week, and see if something doesn’t bloom.

It’s not complicated. I could probably sit here for another twenty minutes and pop off more ideas.

But the notions have to come from the congregation and be a source of excitement to them to make it work.

If we don’t develop a sense of mission about bringing the heart of Jesus to our community, we will gradually implode from over-reverence or bickering from the choir about which anthem should be used for the Introit.

Jesus was simple:

Find a way to be loving, and then go act it out.

So as I leave Antioch, filled with a spirit of joy from encountering these delightful “little Jesuses,” I tell you that your good news is that all you need is one thing to do that is not religious, and that will bring real people into your presence.

The better news is that you’re not responsible for the fruit.

Just the seed.

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Jesonian: God’s House … June 29, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2278)

Simon Zealotes Jesus Christ Superstar (7)Word has it that God has a house. At least, that’s the popular belief by most folks about the church building.

Even though there are a few folks who try to go cosmic and insist that “the people are the temple of God,” it is still generally considered that His Holiness’s address is somewhere on Church Street with a steeple above.

It is a building filled with individuals who have a history of attending such conclaves, and believe they should be conducted in a particular way. This proposed “God’s House” usually has organ music. Men and women usually only hear an organ three times in their lives–weddings, Sunday church and funerals.

They blur.

But what would God’s House be, and what would the sounds of His domicile consist of, if we really felt He made a visitation within four walls?

I know this–when I go to Steve and Sharon’s house, there’s the buzz of business, papers everywhere and the sound of phone calling to promote new ideas and commerce.

Arriving at Jerrod and Angy’s house, there’s the ruckus of two young women growing up in an exciting environment, with little constraint on their level of joy.

If you pop into Jon Russ and Tracy’s house at any time, you’ll hear the hum of machines and editing bays, and films being pieced together like giant jig-saw puzzles, with unfortunately, many pieces often absent.

Jasson and Deahna’s house has the sound of two young boys, who certainly believe that screeching is permitted in every room of their abode, to the delight of the young parents.

Yet what are the sounds of God’s House?

Jesus described it as an enclosure filled with the sound of music and dancing. As he told the parable of a prodigal son who returned home to the delight of his father, to be thrown the greatest party ever known, the overwhelming exuberance of the visitors and the young lad who had miraculously received a reprieve from his misdeeds, vibrated into the night air.

The only person upset with all the noise, and felt it was disrespectful, was an older brother who was accustomed to somber ambience and the sounds of silence.

He complains.

The father does not apologize. He explains that it’s necessary to have the sound of music and dancing if you’re going to adequately commemorate human beings making progress.

Here’s what I think: as soon as we realize that church is not for our ancestors, nor a gig for the chancel choir, and also not a platform for sermons, responsive readings and overblown special music, is when we actually will build a house that God is comfortable living in.

For if it’s going to be God’s House, it must be a place in which human beings are allowed to cut loose and “rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice.”

As the father in the story of the prodigal son said to his older, complaining offspring, “It was right to party. Your brother was lost and is now found.” (He was gracious enough not to add, “What in the hell’s wrong with you?”)

God’s House should resound with music and dancing–to the best of our ability.

Maybe that’s a little too far for you.

But subsisting on the same repertoire program that might be used at your funeral is a bit premature, don’t you think?

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Arizona morning

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

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

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

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

Quatrain of Rain … June 18, 2013

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rainstorm

Too much to restrain

I am needed below

Parades, picnics, weddings — beware

Things need to grow.

 

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******

 Jonathots, Jr.!

Click below for a quick daily thought from Jonathan

https://jonathots.wordpress.com/jonathots-jr/

******

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

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