Good News and Better News… December 4th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Somewhere along the line, we have convinced ourselves that church is supposed to be a service–a program put together with songs, testimonies and a sermon, where those in attendance can worship God.

There is no Biblical basis for this kind of thrown-together event. It is a by-product of Catholicism, which borrowed many of its ideas from the Roman hierarchy or the other religions of ancient times, which were ceremonially based.

In pursuing this piety, we have removed two of the basic powerful principles that provide the righteous realization for coming together: including and using.

Yes–church is supposed to include me and you, and find ways for us to discover our usefulness. When you remove a sense of inclusion and the possibility of a person being useful, the motivation for merely gathering in order to revere is not enough to keep the pews filled.

It was the heart of the Master to include people and then make them useful–or maybe not make them useful–just find out where they were useful.

Whether a prostitute or demon-possessed man, Jesus surrounded them with a sense of inclusion and then put in place a purpose and use for their presence.

So a woman at the well became his advertising agent for a revival.

A man who had been possessed by a thousand demons became his public spokesman for a whole region.

And Mary of Magdala, who herself was possessed by seven demons, became one of his right-hand people.

We have lost the power of inclusion. Matter of fact, the church is notorious for disincluding certain groups of the community because of their wickedness or weakness.

So when you walk in the door, you’re handed a program–or not, for those churches which think they are free-wheeling and fancy-free–and you listen to an eight- or nine-piece praise band, which has over-practiced facial expressions while under performing musically, and stare at a screen to sing songs of repetition, waiting for the hour to creep by.

“Not my church!” you say.

But the reality is, just because you have grown accustomed to your surroundings and are accepted within the cave of understanding does not mean a stranger could come in and access the same gentleness.

Here is our new truth:

How big is your congregation? Eight billion and growing, because we include the whole world. But every week we have about two hundred people who attend who are so useful we couldn’t do without them.

Now, that’s church.

Until we abandon a fear of God which has us stuck at the beginning of wisdom, unable to progress, we will gradually see people trickle away because they don’t feel included, and they certainly do not sense they are useful.

The good news is, “whosoever will may come.”

The better news is, we sure hope you show up, because we could sure use you.

 

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 9)… August 26th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesonian-cover-amazon

Troubling.

Yes, it’s troubling to me that the American and the European church feel they can do what Jesus said was impossible to achieve.

When Jesus was confronted by a man with a complaint concerning a brother of his, who would not share the inheritance, the Nazarene refused to weigh in. He replied, “Who has made me a judge over such matters?”

He then offered a discourse on the dangers of greed.

So it is troubling that the present Christian movement believes it can negotiate the problems between the Jews and the Muslims–brothers–instead of declaring the feud to be exactly what it is.

Greed:

  • Greed over dominance.
  • Greed over money.
  • Greed over Jerusalem.
  • Greed over favor with Father Abraham.

Nothing can ever be accomplished unless we understand that Judaism and Islam are not religions–they are two different tellings of a mutual history. The feast days, rituals and story lines that are thrown in are established to add credence to a family squabble.

Christianity was never intended to be a religion either, but rather, a lifestyle.

The Jesonian–the life of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus and the heart of Jesus–is a lifestyle. It is an abundant life that was offered to counteract a historical squabble. When Christians side one way or another on this dispute, they err, failing to honor the mission of Jesus, who said that he was not a judge over such things–because the conflict was and is grounded in greed.

The Jews are my brothers and sisters by creation, but they are not my relatives in faith. The Muslims, likewise, are my brothers and sisters by genesis, but not my fellow-laborers in the matters of spirit and truth.

It is my job as a Christian to love these two factions into understanding that there are things more important in life than trying to possess control.

God favors neither Jew nor Muslim. The message of Jesus is “whosoever will may come.”

But they do need to come–instead of standing at a distance, screaming at one another.

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Come… June 21, 2012

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In the fall of 1971 I traveled around small towns in Ohio, playing piano and singing in coffee houses where young humans were attending to sip watered-down Pepsi, munch on stale popcorn and listen to amateurs sing, speak, recite poetry and just postulate on the issues of the day. I did this activity, never wondering if anyone was actually going to show up, because there was a climate of curiosity in our country.

It would be a mistake for anyone to surmise that the children of the 60’s were less sophisticated than today’s I-pod grandchildren. After all, they came up with rock and roll; they planned and executed Woodstock, and they protested and basically stopped the war in Vietnam. They were active. Somehow or another, they were able to mingle the silliness and lovelorn nature of the Monkees with anti-war demonstrations, and in their spare time, start Earth Day. They weren’t better or worse than the kids today, they just believed that nothing happens until we come.

You can’t sit behind a computer or a television set, watching the world go by, and shake your head as you jump on the Internet to look at the next crazy YouTube and think that you’ve made your daily contribution to planet life. It doesn’t make you bad, but it does show that you’re masking a silent anger. Yes. That is the fourth silent killer infecting our society.

As I was planning my fall schedule, I realized I needed to do more concerts to welcome people to join together to laugh, reason and believe again. I have dubbed this series of events the Really Rally–a chance to get together and find out what’s really important–so we can rally around it. As I have shared the idea with various individuals, I discover that I am immediately greeted with cynicism and pity that I still have an idea that people will actually come out from their homes and join together instead of just sitting behind their keyboard and downloading.

We’ve given up on the idea of congregating. This is why some people say that books will soon be a thing of the past. After all, books demand that you either go to a store, visit a library, or talk to someone at a publishing house and order a volume which you actually place your hands upon and read. I was told the same thing in the 1970’s, when cassettes first came out. Everybody was making fun of vinyl records because they were a thing of the past, but as you well know, they’ve never really gone out of style. There will always be someone who wants to put a needle down on a whirling disk to hear music, as likewise, there will always be people who like to get their inspiration flesh to flesh instead of merely checking out the headlines on Yahoo.

But the reason we don’t want to come is because there is a silent anger in this country. Yes, we are angry. What are we angry about? We’re angry because it’s not working and no one has any idea how to fix it. “It” can be anything from politics to religion, and “fixing it” could be something as simple as someone admitting that we are at a loss about what to do. But no one’s going to do that, so a silent anger fills our culture and keeps people from coming together to feel the warmth of each other and be infused with new ideas.

So the invitation from God to “come let us reason together, saith the Lord” is being ignored in favor of hiding out in our homes and pretending that we’re self-sufficient. We are not. No matter how many talents, abilities or financial blessings we may procure, there will always be just enough lack in us that we will feel a sense of frustration that breeds a silent anger.

We need each other. This silent anger is keeping us from achieving our full potential and causing us to boast about past achievements instead of working for the future.

Let’s put it together:

Whosoeverthere is a silent prejudice in our society that will not allow us to embrace other people for fear of changing our minds and becoming more open to new ideas.

Willthere is a silent surrender that has swept across the soul of America, which keeps us from being creative out of a great apprehension that failure would be possible, and that failure would demand that we evolve, and then, that evolution would require that we admit our weakness.

Maysilent doubt. We seem more ashamed of what we don’t know than interested in learning more. So it seems prudent to just remain silent and stop believing.

Comesilent anger traps us in a prison of our own making, keeping us from interacting with one another and discovering little pieces of truth about ourselves in the process.

“Whosoever will may come.” What a brilliant invitation. But it demands that we expose our silent prejudice, our silent surrender, our silent doubt and our silent anger–and allow ourselves the opportunity to leave our houses and arrive at a place where we do not control all the circumstances, but instead, trust that a bit of inspiration might just fill our souls.

It may be the only reason for the church to still be around. Even though the religious system is flawed with many excesses and errors, it still maintains the premise that we’re just better when we’re together.

  • I will not give up on people.
  • I will not believe that technology is a replacement for fellowship.
  • I will not consider myself to be old-fashioned simply because I want more of humanity and less of contrivance.

Whosoever will may come. It is the only worthy invitation.

It is the only way to find a better path … to survive.

   

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