Jesonian … April 21st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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44 words.

Yes, 44 words that changed the realm of faith from a God belief to a source of relief.

Standing on a hill, Jesus of Nazareth explains to his disciples that the law they had been following was being fulfilled in the lifestyle he was teaching. It is a philosophy that no longer promotes worship, praying, fasting and trying to be better than other people. Jesus transforms the message from religion to reality.

And now for the 44 words:
“Therefore…”

In other words, in conclusion. If you were wondering where we were heading, here it is. What follows will be the prophesy of the day.

“…if you’re offering your gift at the altar…”

Church should no longer be your life. If you do go, then go with a good heart, but don’t go anymore because you’re afraid. Don’t go anymore because you think it makes you a cut above the rest of humanity. And make sure when you go, you’re offering something instead of demanding.

“…and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you…”

Tune your spirit. Stop waiting to hear messages from heaven. All the messages will be coming from the Earth. And by the way, get rid of your gender bias. Don’t think the Jesonian is just for the brothers and not for the sisters, or for the sisters and not the brothers. You’re listening because you know if you’re going to hear the voice of God, it will come from those around you. Often it will be expressed as a chunk of disgruntled dissatisfaction they may have with you. In other words, be prepared to change. Don’t think you’re going to participate on Earth without being revised.

“…leave your gift there, in front of the altar.”

Get the point? It’s not about the gift. It’s not about the altar. It’s not about the worship service. It’s not about your devotion. All of that can be left when there’s a need to be a person to another person, to generate something personable.

“…first go and be reconciled to them…”

Cease insisting that this is the hard part. Stop giggling as you pretend that it’s so much easier to love God than it is your fellow-humans. If that’s the case, you’d better start practicing, because God has no intention of accepting a congregation which gathers to criticize the people He loves.

“…reconcile…”

Learn reconciliation. Reconciliation is the measuring stick of the depth of your spirituality.

“…then come and offer your gift.”

It will wait. It’s not as important as the feelings and consideration of another fellow-traveler. This is no longer a reaching for the sky, but instead, reaching out to those around you, and in doing so, finding God.

The sermon that Jesus spoke on that mountain many years ago was based upon the concept that the best way to find God is to stop looking for God, but instead, discover His creation. In doing so, you will ask, seek and knock your way into the Kingdom.

For understand clearly: God will have a people who become people to honor people by working with people–to love people.

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Jesonian … January 27th, 2018

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Considering what a contrarian Jesus of Nazareth was to structure, practices, piety and legalism, it is sometimes difficult to understand how he ended up bleeding out a religion.

It’s not just his own words, which abhor the strict nature of religiosity, but also the reaction of those who were the faithful partakers–how they deemed him ignorant, a drunkard, a glutton, an evil man who was demon possessed, and a friend of sinners.

Not a rousing recommendation.

Let us start on the basis that all religions have one similar goal–to promote the notion that there is some sort of Supreme Being(s) or enlightenment which prompts us to worship.

Also, when you put the religions of the world in the order of their inception, you gain an interesting insight.

Buddhism and Hinduism preceded Christ, as did Judaism. Then came Jesus. But the only religion that had the benefit of eyeballing the fallacies of following faith without rhyme and reason was Mohammed. Yet the Muslim faith is riddled with the misleading trap doors that open up to fanaticism.

What is the difference between Jesus and Mohammed?

Mohammed wanted to start a cliqué.  Jesus was avoiding one.

Let’s look at specifics.

When it comes to the basics of spiritual expression–prayer–Jesus constantly warned his followers to make their overtures to God as practical and personal as possible. He said that prayer was necessary but should never be done in public to be seen by others, using vain repetition, or at a wailing wall or on a rug, but instead initiated behind a closed closet door.

When the subject of fasting came up, Jesus said there was nothing wrong with it as long as nobody knew you were doing it. In other words, put on a happy face, wash up and look energized by the experience instead of depleted.

How about worship? When he talked to the woman at the well, she was worried about where to do it and the style of doing it. Just like today–should it be contemporary or traditional? Jesus pointedly informed her that location and style were irrelevant. Worship was to be unfolded “in spirit and in truth.”

Seems like we’re on a roll. How about giving? Jesus claimed that giving was the key to getting. He once again wanted to make sure that generosity was not expressed to impress others, but instead, to instill in our hearts the knowledge that every little bit helps, and someday those we assist might come back our way and be our angels of blessing.

And then there’s the Law. Judaism and the Muslims are intent on maintaining a code of ethics, conduct and social interaction that was conceived more than two thousand years ago, with no respect for the power of freedom and the necessity of evolution.

For you see, Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the Law. And what is that fulfillment? Two fold: “He has come to give us life and it more abundantly, and also come that our joy might be full.”

By no means should we condemn or even critique those of the Muslim faith for adhering to their rendition of God. But we must question whether the faith that is promoted has sufficient warnings to scare away all the rascals, fanatics and self-righteous rabble which can try to hurt others by using the words of the Prophets.

  • Jesus told his disciples to worship God by being as normal as possible.
  • He told them to blend in.
  • He told them to honor Caesar instead of hating Caesar.
  • He told them they were the light of the world, not the scourge of the Earth.
  • And most of all, he told them that they had no right to judge. (He even sealed this point by saying that he–Jesus–could judge and it would be righteous and fair, but he refused to do so.)

Christianity works because we know how to isolate our idiots and make sure it’s clear that they are not really part of the faith.

The Muslims talk a big game, but after decades and decades of terrorism, they are still represented by those who kill women and children.

 

 

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Jesonian … December 16th, 2017

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jesonian-cover-amazon

A day in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Although most theologians would like to focus on the 24-hour period leading up to his crucifixion, the Gospels do offer us other examples. One of the primal outlines is found in Matthew, Chapters 12 and 13. You may feel free to read it–I will not tax your spirit or patience by parsing it verse by verse–but there are six things that become clear from perusing the story line.

1. Jesus was not a theologian.

His disciples walked through a field of corn, and even though it was forbidden by religious edict to eat it–especially on the Sabbath–they partook. Jesus defended them to the Pharisees, who were ready to leap upon the activity to prove the unworthiness of Jesus’ Kingdom movement. During this exchange, Jesus makes a profound statement: “The Sabbath is for man.”

It is geared for us, in order to replenish, rejuvenate and renovate our thinking.

2. Jesus was not a rabbi.

He strolls into a synagogue and disrupts the service by healing a man with a withered hand. He is accosted for this untimely interruption, and replies, “Each one of you will save a donkey from a trench, but you won’t do anything to help this fellow.”

Yes, Jesus was guilty of interrupting the flow of worship.

And contrary to the common patter:

3. Jesus was not a Jew.

Not only did he break the Jewish laws, taunting them in doing so, but we are informed that he was a voice, a spirit and a teacher in whom the “Gentiles could trust.”

Even though his proximity to Jerusalem might generate the assumption that he was a Son of Abraham, he made it clear that he was around “before Abraham.”

Shall we press on?

4. He was certainly not a traditionalist.

The religious leaders believed he was satanic. They swore he was casting out demons by the power of Satan. Of course, none of them could cast out a demon, but Jesus made it clear that he had come to destroy the works of the devil and that they needed to be careful not to mock the moving of the Holy Spirit just because it was inconvenient to their case.

So Jesus is not a theologian, a rabbi, a Jew or a traditionalist. And by the way:

5. Jesus was not a family man.

When interrupted by his mother, brothers and sisters during a time of ministry (because they wanted to take him home, thinking he was crazy) Jesus turned to the crowd and claimed them as his new family.

Yes, Jesus might find it difficult to be in a church service, welling up over allegiance with people simply because of shared DNA.

So as Matthew describes a day in the life of Jesus, when he defies theologians, upsets a rabbi, walks away from Judaism, breaks traditions and sidesteps family involvement, he ends the discourse by establishing who the Nazarene really was.

For the Master sat down and told a story: “The sower went forth to sow seed.”

6. Jesus is a sower.

He’s not concerned about isolating off perfect soil, but merely casting the seed in the direction of any possibility.

A day in the life of Jesus will let you know that his message was human, geared for humans, addressed to humans, human-friendly and human-saving.

He discarded religion in favor of the reality of those souls God sent his way.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … May 31st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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A Stinky Job

I am not God

You are not God

Who would want to be God?

It’s a stinky job

You have to tell the truth.

Even though it eventually sets people free

In the meantime it makes them pissy

So those who worship you are also constantly a little angry

Because you are God but won’t be just their God

And their God alone

When you are God, you say,

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of me.”

“There is none righteous–no, not one.”

“Except you repent, you will perish.”

“Your righteousness is like filthy rags.”

Filthy rags??

Please lighten up

How about just a dirty t-shirt?

So God says He loves people

Then we sing, “You are an awesome God!”

Yet we privately wonder why He doesn’t kill some people to help us out

Couldn’t God be nicer–just to us?

We come to church

We’re in the praise band

We once memorized two whole chapters of the Gospel of John

What does He want?

Maybe if He just phrased things more gently

Changed “sinners” to “winners in training”

Instead of “damnation,” call it “escaping the oops zone”

God, why don’t you just say “mistakes?”

And since we all make them, let’s call these little flubs “journey-markers”

Listen, God, I could love you so much more if you wouldn’t lord it over me

I need encouragement

I’m a kitten that requires exaggerated petting

But since you won’t do your God job

With some tenderness

Then I look for tenderness to become my God

Are you feeling lonely?

And you wonder why you have grumpy praisers

Even though I am not God

I could give you some pointers

Would you listen?

Or–because you are all-knowing–do you have to be a know-it-all?

But where can I go?

Movies don’t move me

Drinking makes me drunk

Weed creates need

Which will only feed my greed

And poli-ticks me off

I got nowhere to roost

Of course, you know that

STOP SMIRKING AT ME

Go ahead

Tell me the truth

But stay a little while–sweetly

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Good News and Better News… February 27th, 2017

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number-2

The whir, whistle, hum, song and even roundness of the Earth is totally dependent upon the serene application of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Without such a magnificent axiom, it literally becomes “every man for himself,” with women and children often left out in the cold. It is a principle that tells us how to treat bears, bugs, spiders, cats and Mother Earth.

  • Unfortunately, the business world has no respect for the concept.
  • The entertainment industry ponders darker applications.
  • And the political world courts “church,” while ignoring virtue.

It is literally left up to those who attend services of worship to keep this precious Golden Rule in the mix. Simultaneously, the church as we know it is shrinking as people depart, disappointed.

The church is failing because it’s trying to be religious instead of the voice of our generation. It is awash in theology instead of considering the best angles for dealing with other human beings.

There are two reasons people go to church–two reasons and two reasons only. It is not for the worship of God and the praise of the saints.

  1. They’re afraid they’ll miss something.
  2. They’re afraid they’ll miss someone.

The human race is tribal and basically gregarious.Therefore, we want to gather and enjoy ourselves.

Why do we think people should get into their cars, drive across town and sit for an hour, leaving baffled about their own personal lives, while merely logging heavenly frequent flyer miles?

Until we understand that the church has to be a place of excitement, discovery, intrigue and most definitely creativity–where people are not certain whether they will hear a new opera sung or see magnificent healings–we must understand that our meager offering of a few songs, a sermon and a communion “happy meal” will probably not continue to draw them.

It’s about being together, strengthening one another. We must get rid of the notion that there has to be suffering to attain spiritual grace.

The good news is that people want to be excited and God is prepared to provide the opportunity.

The better news is that people would love to learn, in a consecrated place, how to make “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” the hip philosophy of our time.

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Good News and Better News… January 9th, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-fix-it

It is reported that animals can smell fear.

I do not know if this particular “sniffology” is passed along in the human family, but I am fully aware as I travel and interact with my brothers and sisters, that there’s a strong apprehension in the air.

It’s not so much an odor as it is a loss of confidence and a disconcerting sense that doom looms too close to the home fires.

So in a season when the church should be rallying from its stagnancy because of the yearning of the human spirit to relieve tension, our ranks still seem to be filing out the back door.

There are those in theology who conclude that it’s due to a lack of serious religious reflection, and others who believe that we’ve not yet struck the right chord with the younger generation concerning traditions and the teaching offered for their children.

If you will allow me, I will tell you:

  • We have too much God and not enough Father.
  • Too much Christ and not enough Jesus.

It’s similar to a chemistry teacher who constantly gives tests on formulas while never having the students do lab work.

Church is boring because the idea of God is stifling.

Church seems insipid because a Christ who offers eternal salvation doesn’t give us a Jesus who offers us Earth solutions.

We are stymied.

For fear of losing our “worship credentials,” we have sacrificed our human appeal.

The heavenly Father is a Creator, not a manufacturer. Not everything can be taught in a six-week series from the pulpit as we expound upon every reference in the Bible about love, and hope that folks will draw a pious conclusion.

Jesus was our brother–tempted as we are in every way and touched by our infirmities long before he became salvation through the cross. Thirty-three years of life can not be ignored because of three hours at Golgotha.

Until we have more of the Father and an abundance of Jesus, our churches will be full of dead men’s bones and promises that seem to have been “rain checked” until after death.

The good news is that God is our Father, Jesus is our brother and the Holy Spirit is not a ghost.

The better news is that the Holy Spirit has come to remind us about the goodness of our Father and the genius of Jesus.

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 7) Toothy … June 12th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

  • Why do we come to church?
  • Do we need music?
  • If so, are there certain instruments that are more church-acceptable?
  • What about silence?
  • Are our lives enriched by sermons?
  • What is the purpose of an offering?
  • How about the choir?
  • Is liturgy good–or just repetitious?

The questions had been posed all morning long, and Reverend Meningsbee sat back listening, only contributing if asked or if there was the need to clarify a point.

The attendance was good. Amazingly, most of the visitors had returned, and even a few of those who had left the flock were back in the corral.

But the most outstanding moment of this week’s service happened when Maxwell, one of the few teenagers remaining in the church, came forward to sit in the chair for prayer because he had a toothache.

It was such an amazing sight to behold–a young man who normally perched in the back pew, fondling his phone, texting friends–made his way to the front in the belief that the supplications of the congregation might bring him relief.

And it did. At least, he said he felt better.

Meningsbee was astounded at how the people were taking the moment of fellowship and turning it into common benefit.

Near the end of the discussion, one of the older members of the church stood to her feet and said, “I think we all agree that whatever we do in the church, it should be to worship God, because that’s why we’re here.”

There was a general rumble and assent of “amens” from all present.

Meningsbee paused. He wondered if it was time for him to offer insight, or to just leave the moment alone for later instruction.

No time like the present.

He stood to his feet and walked to the front of the sanctuary. Turning slowly, he spoke.

“I know what our dear sister just said seems right. We have been taught–shoot, it’s literally been infused in us–that we’re here to praise God, express our reverence, and leave with a sense of awe about how big and wonderful He truly is. But I came to town so we could have a Jesus church, and Jesus made it clear that God was not interested in worship that was born merely of affirming His goodness. Jesus put it this way: Man was not created for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was created for man. And by Sabbath, he was certainly referring in part to our weekly gathering in church. So the real question we’re asking today is, and always will be, what is best for us humans to grow as we gather to acknowledge a common faith? Remember what I said last week–what is going to give us full life and full joy? Whatever that is–well, that will be worship.”

Meningsbee thought his message was simple, but for some reason it touched the hearts of all those gathered. Many cried aloud and others sprouted silent tears.

Meningsbee, looking at the scene before him, wept.

It felt so good to be honest about church. It was delightful to be around those who weren’t afraid to feel.

All at once, Maxwell, who had come with a toothache, started sweetly singing, “Jesus Loves Me.”

Everyone joined in.

Yes–everyone joined in.

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