Jesonian … November 25th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Aggressive apathy.

Seems like a contradiction–maybe even what they refer to as an oxymoron. How can apathy be aggressive, when by definition it avoids commitment, conflict or even connection?

But when apathy becomes the path to avoid deeper commitment, it will need to be defended whenever circumstances warrant greater involvement.

Jesus fell victim to aggressive apathy on two nasty occasions–when people chose to disregard and disavow the power of his calling.

Please keep in mind that miracles were a part of Jesus’ ministry. It wasn’t all Biblical text and parables. Yet even though there were certainly signs and wonders that followed him, apathy was still in the works.

The first instance was in Nazareth, when he had the audacity to announce the extent of his calling, the purpose of his message and the power of what was about to ensue to his hometown folks.

What did aggressive apathy do? Personal attacks.

  • “Who does he think he is?”
  • “He’s just the Carpenter’s son.”
  • “He doesn’t even have education.
  • “Why should we listen to him?”

When apathy becomes a communal mindset, it will feel the need to defend itself–sometimes violently. For if you remember the rest of the story, they push Jesus to the edge of a cliff, ready to throw him off and kill him–simply because he suggested that present circumstances were going to be changed.

In a second incident at the Pool of Bethesda, Jesus asked a crippled man if he wanted to be healed. The fellow launched into a litany of excuses and complaints about why it was just not plausible. Jesus heals him anyway–and the man ends up turning on Jesus, and rats him out to the Pharisees, who were angry about a healing on the Sabbath.

In both cases, Jesus found himself in danger.

Once apathy has become the charter of a community or a segment of people, they will aggressively use whatever is necessary to maintain their autonomy of blandness.

Jesus said we should learn from his life–and that also includes his mistakes.

As Christians, believers and even artists, we need to understand that once we offer our gifts and our message, if they are met with lukewarm response, to further labor in the malaise of nothingness is to risk triggering aggressive apathy, leaving us ridiculed, if not wounded.

Later on in Jesus’ ministry, he learns from these mistakes.

When the Samaritan village doesn’t want to let him in to minister, he just goes to another town. And when the five thousand depart because he offered a perspective they found distasteful, he doesn’t do anything to chase them down.

Apathy by its nature is not violent. But it is alive–and any living thing will fight back if you try to kill it.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 4) Needful … May 22nd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

The fourth Sunday at the Garsonville Church was marked by the return of Deacon Smitters, who entered the building with very little ceremony, but much pomp over renewing his efforts as Chief Usher.

He immediately became distressed because there was no bulletin to hand out–just a chalk board in the narthex with these words scrawled upon it:

Welcome to Church

1. Our thought will come from Luke the 18th Chapter, Verse 31 through Luke the 19th Chapter, Verse 1

2. Take a moment to think about what you need

In an environment which was experiencing tremendous upheaval, the absence of a reassuring piece of paper to guide the congregants through the minefield of spirituality seemed cruel and unusual.

But everyone made their way into the sanctuary and sat in the first five pews, with Deacon Smitters making sure he was as far back on row five as humanly possible.

Promptly at service time, Reverend Meningsbee walked in and addressed the congregation.

“If we do not know why we gather in this building, we will very soon ask ourselves, why are we gathering? Makes sense, don’t you think?

You don’t have to look very long into the ministry of Jesus to realize that he never preached. He taught his disciples, but when he was in front of the masses, he only offered two possibilities: he was always ready with a healing touch or a great story.

More often than not, it began with a healing.

Even though I look out today and we have a few less than we did last week, what we should be focusing on is what the few of us here really need in our lives.

I just don’t think you need a retelling of the story of Jonah and the whale.

So let’s look at what happened over in Luke the 18th Chapter, verse 35, through Luke 19:1.

Jesus was on his way to Jericho when he was interrupted. He was stalled by a blind man who refused to shut up and observe how the service was supposed to progress. The man kept screaming for mercy.

Jesus asked him what he wanted and he flat-out demanded healing.

So Jesus did.

Then, from the excitement of that encounter, Jesus took his entourage, including the blind man, through Jericho, where he caught the attention of a non-spiritual, cheating, lying tax collector named Zacchaeus.

Do you folks really think Zacchaeus would ever have listened to Jesus if he had not heard the excitement of the crowd, celebrating the healing of the blind man?

Of course not.

It is why the people of Garsonville would much rather stay in their homes, eat waffles and watch television than come here. They don’t feel any excitement coming out of the building when we dismiss.

So from now on, in this church, we will begin our services by listening, praying and believing for those who have a specific need. So it’s the blessing of people that will set the direction for our service.

You can see, there are two chairs up here. Does anybody want to come up and begin the service by sitting down for prayer, to have their needs met, like the blind man, instead of waiting for comfort?”

Reverend Meningsbee took a long moment, pausing to allow someone to make the brave step.

Nobody did.

At length he spoke.

“That’s fine. It’s new to all of us. But understand that every Sunday we will begin this way and flip the service by having our singing at the end, as praise, before our departure.”

Suddenly a hand was raised in the congregation, and a woman, Betty Landers, sheepishly stood to her feet and said, “I don’t really have a need, but I’d like to report on what happened when I left the church last Sunday and went out to be reconciled with my cousin, who I have not spoken to in eight years.”

The pastor nodded, smiling.

Betty continued. “She only lives two miles from me, but we had a fight, and we have succeeded in avoiding each other through all family gatherings and piano recitals for the children.”

The congregation chuckled.

“Well, I went to see her, just like you said, and she wouldn’t let me into the house. It was weird. I just stood at the door and spoke, hoping she was there. I apologized. I told her how crazy it was for the two of us to be angry at each other. I even told her why I had come, based on what my minister had challenged us to do.”

Suddenly, in the midst of Betty’s story, a woman appeared in the rear of the sanctuary, and interrupted.

“I apologize for disturbing your service. I feel real silly. But what Betty is saying is true. My name is Clarice. Betty really did come to my door and talk to it like a crazy woman.”

A big roar of laughter.

Clarice continued. “I’ve spent the week with my heart pricked by her actions. I woke up this morning feeling the need to come here, find her and tell her that I am equally sorry for our silly argument.”

Betty scooted past a couple of people, ran to the back of the auditorium and embraced her cousin, as they wept.

The congregation sat very still, afraid to move. After a few moments of tears, the two women turned awkwardly to the pastor and said, “Now what do we do?”

Reverend Meningsbee said, “Go out and have lunch together. We’re done here.”

The two women left, hugging each other, and Reverend Meningsbee led the congregation in an a cappella version of “We Are One in the Spirit.”

The service was over.

The attendance was dropping.

But the spirits were soaring.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 3rd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn February 3

Servant of All

I saw my Master serving

And I felt quite undeserving

Because I want to rule

Instead of play the fool

I grasp the tarnished crown.

 

For he took the water fine

And changed it into wine

Gave for all to share

To express his heartfelt care

Rejoicing in their pleasure.

 

While offering his words so wise

He touched the blind man’s eyes

Disturbing his time and space

To commune with the human race

I blare my horn in traffic.

 

When arrested in the garden green

At the mercy of the mob obscene

He healed the ear of his accuser

Wounded by a nearby abuser

As I wipe the blood from my sword.

 

Hanging, bleeding, black and blue

Father, forgive them for what they do

Weary and worn in his demise

He welcomed a thief to Paradise

While I abhor inconvenience.

 

For I wait at the table demanding to be served

Impatient as always, often unnerved

While he kneels down to wash my feet

I am embarrassed, seeking a hasty retreat

He smiles and continues his labor.

 

I am not a worthy soul

Less than half of what is whole

But if I can slow down from moving faster

I can become the servant worthy to be master.

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The Money Brick … January 11, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Some people are stained glassbrick of money

Others, just stained

Either way, we’re hurtin’

Our flaws bring us pain

Or is it that our pain invites the flaws?

Who knows?

Stained-glassers focus on the flaws

Stainers, on the pain

But both remain

And it is useless to counsel a leper

And mean-spirited to offer a good book to a blind man

I awakened in the middle of the night, finding myself deep in thought. I like that. I believe life should be a balance between discouragement and satisfaction, exhorting us toward greater discovery. As I was quietly lying in my bed reflecting, a sense of well-being and warmth filled my soul.

Some folks would become cynical if I suggested God was speaking to me. They would insist I was just being prodded by my own conscience. To each his own.

But the revelation was that it is beautiful that I am traveling, excellent to share my life with tens of thousands of people, smart to write daily columns and ingenious to always be trying to update the material and the message to reach a specific gathered audience.

Then a yearning came. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was the realization that even after all these projects and outreaches are done, I still have time on my hands. After all, the bills are paid. I often have a little extra money.

Time and money–the dynamic duo. When they work together, lives can be changed.

In that moment of quiet, I was strongly impressed to take a small purse of cash–what I now refer to as a “money brick”–each and every week and invest it in human beings.. Here’s why:

  • Some people will not listen to words.
  • There are those who refrain from partaking of a melody.
  • And very few individuals will tolerate a sermon.

But everyone appreciates a few dollars offered as encouragement and evidence that they are not alone.

I don’t have much; I’m not going to pay off people’s debts. But sometimes what the stained-glassers and the stainers need is just a dollar or two–to let them know that someone sees them, cares and wishes them God speed.

Money does talk. It speaks a universal language.

So I thought that the generous folks who contribute to my cause would not mind me setting aside a specific amount of coinage each week, to bless the folks I encounter on a daily basis. I have requested that God send such individuals my way.

We shall see.

I will offer the brick … and ask God to provide the mortar. 

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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