Good News and Better News… April 3rd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Perhaps a good definition for foolishness is to pursue an answer which you already have acquired, hoping that this time you will get a different response.

It’s kind of like when religious people ask, “What would Jesus do?”

I guess the concept is that his desires and inclinations may be such a mystery that we need to go to fasting and prayer to attain them.

Actually, all the church would have to do is ask the question, “What did Jesus do?”

It’s not like his life is a secret. He didn’t withhold his preferences from us. And it’s not like he didn’t lay out a road map for both his personality and his heart–whether it was about politics, where Jesus made it clear that he had no preference–any Caesar was as good as any other Caesar. And in the realm of social matters, Jesus was clear about the existence of the natural order, but if that is altered by human free will, we are not to judge others who choose a different path.

Jesus certainly made it clear that women were equals, though his church today continues to forbid them place and purpose.

So I guess we continue to pose “what would Jesus do?” so that we can slam enough scriptures together, out of context, to make it look like Jesus would agree with us.

What Jesus liked was obvious: humility, endurance, personal responsibility, faith, compassion and honesty.

What Jesus did not like was equally as obvious: hypocrisy, pretense, superiority, laziness, prejudice and over-emphasis on family and culture.

We could make great strides in the church if we ceased pretending that we are bewildered about the mind of Christ. Shoot, the Apostle Paul told us that “we have the mind of Christ.”

So why not use it?

Here’s the good news: Jesus is an open book. (Four of them, in fact–Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.)

The better news is that when you study his character, you find out that he offers the only path which leads to peaceful coexistence among human beings.

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Jesonian: Pillow and Little Ships … October 25th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Three faces

The Bible is not meant to be a story, but rather, a script.

When we approach the Good Book as a story, we end up isolating off a few verses without considering what comes before or after.

When you look at it as a script, you can study what motivates the scene of our story, and also what the outcome ends up being.

In Mark the 4th Chapter, Jesus spends all day teaching on three distinct subjects. It’s important to know this in understanding the story that follows. It helps us to comprehend the mindset of our protagonist, Jesus, as he encountered the elements of the unfolding of our script.

Here are the three points Jesus made to his disciples all day long:

  1. “If you don’t sow seeds, nothing happens.”
  2. “Since you’re going to be sowing seeds, learn the process by which things grow.”
  3. “Understand that what you’ve been given is a responsibility to prepare you to use it well, to be given more.”

So when nightfall comes, Jesus is tired and heads for the boat to go to the other side. The disciples follow him and other folks also decide to make the journey, but their ships are not quite as big. Matter of fact, they are referred to as “little ships.”

Jesus doesn’t stop them. Instead, Jesus grabs a pillow and heads for the stern to take a nap.

Although I think it’s important to consider “what would Jesus do?” in our everyday lives, it is much more effective to notice what Jesus is already doing.

Any astute disciple should have registered that Jesus had taught all day about taking responsibility for your life and that he was heading into the ship to take a nap, while lodging no objection about other tinier vessels traveling alongside.

Did Jesus know there was going to be a storm? Possibly so, since the sky usually foretells of such things.

What was Jesus communicating to his disciples? It’s clear to me.

Sometimes God would like to take a nap.

And since we’ve been well-trained, well-taught, and by the way, several of us are fishermen, we should be able to handle a storm.

We should also notice that Jesus is sleeping without any fear for the smaller ships which would be in much more danger from the upheaval.

I believe Jesonian faith is doing what we can, knowing that God is responsible for the rest.

But the storm rages and the disciples do what ungrateful souls always do. They wake Jesus up and accuse him of not caring. “Don’t you care that we’re perishing?”

Please understand this–if the big ship is in trouble, the little ships must be in jeopardy also, but the disciples don’t have much concern about them.

Jesus is pissed off. Even though he calms the waves, he rebukes the disciples for having no faith.

Where did their faith fail?

  • They didn’t take responsibility for what they had just heard and learned.
  • They didn’t notice that Jesus was communicating complete confidence by taking a nap on a pillow.
  • They didn’t understand that Jesus would not let the other littler ships suffer.

They thought they were being faithful by being overly dependent. And Jesus told them it was actually the opposite.

They had little faith.

What do I learn from this?

After Jesus teaches me and trains me to be a born-again human being, he just might grab a pillow and expect me to guide us through a storm … and take care of the little ships.

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Jesonian: Initially Involved… January 25, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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 JC bigger

Much to the chagrin of many religious people, Jesus was not born in America, nor does he have a palatial home in Nashville, Tennessee.

Not only does this rule him out from being voted President of the United States, it also demands that we recognize that he lived as a person two thousand years ago, among impoverished people who were cruelly dominated by an Empire and under subjugation to a religious system which believed that any variation of personality was proof of infestation of a demon.

All science was considered witchcraft and anything that was contrary to the top ten commandments and the many interpretations that had occurred since their unfolding was deemed “Gentile.”

So during the short-lived campaign of “What Would Jesus Do?”, the question, rather than stimulating debate and revelation, left most twenty-first century Christians baffled and frustrated.

What seems safer to us is to worship Jesus instead of follow him.

The difficulty with that is that mere reverence of “the Christ” leaves no footprint of the Jesonian in our own generation.

So please allow me to share the text abbreviations of the philosophy and thoughts of Jesus of Nazareth, which have survived the sands of time and continue to pop out of his teachings with prevalence. They are:

  • DJ
  • PR
  • MT
  • KOGIWM

If you can remember these four, you can pretty well apply a wonderful grid of how you want to “initially” become involved in your society while still maintaining the integrity and power of the message.

DJ: Don’t judge.

Don’t even think about judging. Don’t insert thoughts and scream that they’re “just opinions.” The minute you find yourself discussing another human being, run from the room as if you’ve just discovered that your leg is on fire.

No amount of judging is permitted in the Jesonian philosophy.

PR: Personal responsibility.

Jesus made it clear that most of our problems are caused by assuming that others have offended us, God needs more prayer from us or “the devil’s out to get us.” Just living your own life in your own space and working on your strengths and foibles is enough to keep any mortal busy for the time allotted.

MT: Multiply talent.

You have ability. Lamenting that it is not enough or pretending it doesn’t exist is what leads to the kind of resentment and jealousy that makes us spend too much time petitioning God instead of counting our blessings.

Try new things, and when those fail, try more.

KOGIWM: The kingdom of God is within me.

Every time I look outside myself to discover the purposes of the universe or the potentials for spirituality to impact my world, I have looked too far.

If it’s going to happen it needs to start with me.

If it’s going to start with me, I need to recognize that God is not only with me, but He’s entrusted the message to my care.

Here’s a simple statement to remember: In the pursuit of the obscure, we obscure the pursuit.

Anyone who tells you that prayer is the key to heaven forgets that we spend an awful lot of time on earth before our reward.

DJ, PR, MT, KOGIWM

It is a quick capsulization of how Jesus lived and also how he would continue to live … whether in Birmingham, Alabama, or Hong Kong.

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WDJD… May 20, 2012

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I said yes. I like to say yes, mainly because “no” demands too much of an explanation and makes you sound like you are hem-hawing around instead of being forthright and honest.

A lady at a church, a teacher at the local high school, asked me if I would be willing to come and speak for an assembly of the student body the following morning after my concert. She had taken the initiative to arrange it, so I had no reason to say no.

I do not consider myself to be a great spokesman to young humans–but by the same token, I don’t despise them or find it difficult to communicate once  I get over my own fears and preconceptions. Long story shortened (to allow for you to maintain your attention)  I arrived at the school and was greeted by a young lady who was to be my hostess. She carried that timidity common to the adolescent of our species. I noticed that she was wearing a WWJD bracelet. So I commented.

“Oh, I see you have a WWJD bracelet. Are you a Christian?”

“Well, kinda,” she replied sheepishly. “Actually, my grandma gave it to me along with a little booklet about what it means. Honestly, I haven’t read it yet.”

I decided not to pursue the conversation any further. The WWJD fad really didn’t last too long–mainly because it did become more of a jewelry accessory rather than a spiritual odyssey, and secondly, because most people don’t know what Jesus would do because they are so ingrained in their own personal cultures that they color the purity of that spiritual quest with their own upbringing. So I waited for my instructions concerning the assembly.

Well, things began to fall apart, as they often do whenever you enter the realm of public education. The principal came out and apologized, saying that a full assembly would be impossible because there was testing going on. I listened quietly. He said he had arranged for the drama, speech and music departments to gather in the auditorium to hear me share about the power of inspiration in entertainment. I thanked him for his courtesy and awaited the opportunity. About ten minutes later the principal reappeared and said that regrettably, the choir, music and drama departments would be unable to attend the lecture because they were preparing for an upcoming concert–BUT the speech classes were still very interested in hearing my inspiring talk.

I nodded my head. About three minutes later, the secretary arrived (the principal apparently too embarrassed to attend further) and she said the speech department was going to be unable to hear me, because they needed to rehearse for a debate to be held at a rival school. By this time I was giggling inside, wondering exactly who I would end up speaking to, or if I was just starting my day early to make me appreciate my afternoon nap.

About a half an hour later, I was escorted into the gymnasium, where, in a far corner of the bleachers, about six young women sat–students from a physical education class. They didn’t dress out that particular morning, because they were either sick or had forgotten their exercise clothes. They sat peering at me as the secretary gave me an overly elaborate introduction and unleashed me on these uninterested souls.

I realized at this point that I did not need to know what Jesus WOULD do, but instead, required an understanding of what Jesus DID do. What DID Jesus do when he was placed in a position where he was given lesser and lesser importance, ending up with an audience he did not anticipate or prepare for? You see, I had taken some time to study the school–understood their mascots and had even checked out their website for their sports schedules, to know the team records. At this point, in front of these six non-dressing gym students, this all seemed quite irrelevant.

What was NOT going to work was a typical human reaction based on ego–because every time we feel slighted, cheated, angry, frustrated, misunderstood or fussy, we are viewed as the villain, no matter how justified our reasoning may be. This was my audience, which had deteriorated from fifteen hundred promised students to six students–who didn’t seem to have much promise at all.

What did Jesus do when slapped in the face by reality? There’s a four-step process to understanding how Jesus communicated his message of love and faith to the world. It’s not hard to understand; it’s not difficult to grasp. The problem with religion and Christian theology is that it has a goal rather than a search. Every denomination is determined to promote its particular spin on godliness instead of  just studying the mind and personality of Jesus. Sitting in front of those six young ladies who were bored to death, I applied the Jesonian philosophy on human interaction.

1. Open the heart. You will never reach people spiritually, mentally and physically if you haven’t touched them emotionally. It is futile to reach for the brain or the soul if you haven’t first passed through the heart. Jesus was a heart teacher. If you have no emotion in your spiritual experience, you will have no soul to it, no renewing of the mind and therefore no physical evidence.

2. Tell a story. Anybody who believes they can communicate God by reading the Bible has lost all sense of reason. The communication of God has always been, and always will be, the sharing of a personal testimony from our own experience.  Everything else sounds like jumbled words from a former time written by Shakespeare.

3. Use the earth. We are earthlings–and I don’t mean that in a science fiction sense. I mean that we are all inhabitants of earth. Therefore we understand earth and earth is our best source for communication. When you talk about heaven, the wrong people listen. People who are self-righteous. People who are trying to escape responsibility. People who are ethereal. People who want to condemn other people to hell by first talking about heaven. When you use the earth, every son and daughter of Adam who has ears can hear.

4. And finally, make God human. When Jesus told stories, God was portrayed as a Father, an owner of a vineyard, a king, a fisherman, and even a sower of seed. The true failure of religion is that it is obsessed with the notion of making humans godly–impossible–instead of taking the more logical path of making God more human.

I don’t have to wear a bracelet that says, “What would Jesus do?” I have isolated off the gospels and understand his modus operandi. So when I sat down in front of those six girls, instead of being upset, I opened my heart by telling them the funny story of how my day was going so far. I related about how that happened to great people everywhere–for example, that Abraham Lincoln was deemed to be a complete failure before history called him a success. I used the earth to connect with them about how it felt to be sitting there, not dressing out for gym class, and how when I write something like a movie, I look for anything that is common in order to connect with people. And then I made God human. I told them that I believed if God came to earth today and was looking for work, He would enter the entertainment field. I joked with them that He probably wouldn’t be an accountant–too many numbers. Certainly not a politician–they all laughed. God would make a horrible lawyer because he would always want to forgive the criminals. They especially liked that.

My morning finished triumphantly–although only in front of a half-dozen folk. I left the school with most people not knowing I was ever there, but I got a chance to make friends and impact six young ladies simply because I kept my cool instead of becoming prideful. And I used the magical power of what Jesus DID do–opening the heart, telling a story, using the earth and making God human.

   

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