Good News and Better News… April 17th, 2017

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Jesus was the Good Shepherd. (Well, I guess He still is, since no one else is qualified or particularly interested in the job.) He spent his whole life trying to find a way to be a caretaker for sheepish human souls.

It began with thirty years of family life–a mother, father, sisters and brothers trying to get along in cramped quarters, being hunted down daily by poverty.

Then, when he felt a stirring in his soul to do more, his desires were struck down by the locals, who insisted he should remain the “carpenter’s son.”

So he moved a little bit down the road to a town called Capernaum, and started a house-front church–Peter’s house. It became very popular–so much so that the folks literally started tearing the walls out.

But then his family got wind of his doings, thought he was crazy and came out to take him home. A little bit of scandal. Suddenly the citizens of Capernaum were not quite as interested anymore.

So Jesus turned to his handful of disciples and said, “Well, let’s take the show on the road.”

He became an evangelist. Since he figured no one in Galilee or Judea was particularly interested, he went to Samaria. He met a woman who helped him build energy and in no time at all there was some excitement and thrilling deeds in the works.

Unfortunately, when he returned back to Samaria shortly thereafter, they wouldn’t let him share anymore because they found out he liked Jews–and they hated them.

He decided to return to Galilee to live off the land and just see who came in. Eventually there were seventy of them–one of those church sizes that is so common today.

Jesus motivated them, sent them out two by two, and their work was so successful that within a few months, Jesus found himself teaching five thousand people–an unbelievable growth spurt.

Jesus had himself a mega church. He was not only leading them but also feeding them. But when he began teaching them about personal responsibility, and the fact that his congregants needed to be on a spiritual journey to have the heart of God toward humanity, they objected. Matter of fact, they got angry, started “splits,” and before you know it, Jesus lost 4,988 members.

He was left with twelve.

That’s a pretty drastic dip. I would think he would have had a tendency to question his technique, method or even wisdom. But Jesus went the other direction. He continued to minister to the twelve disciples, but he focused on three: Peter, James and John.

And although the Good Book says that five hundred witnesses saw him after the resurrection, only 120 were around for the Day of Pentecost.

But Jesus had even shrunk his vision of the three “best friend” disciples down to one.

Yes, on a cool morning by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus stood by the water with Simon Peter and said, “Feed my sheep.”

When it turned out that Peter got a little weary, Jesus appeared on a back road near Damascus and told a chap named Saul of Tarsus, “Stop fighting it. You are meant to be a messenger.”

So even though thousands and thousands of people came Jesus’ way, encountered his message, some even walking away with miraculous healings, he intelligently placed focus on two fellows, who made it their mission to teach the parishioners around them to become disciples–and to change the world.

The good news is that the Gospel is not about building churches and getting attendance. It’s about making disciples.

And the better news is that a contented, fulfilled, excited and creative disciple can reach millions.

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Jesonian… January 28th, 2017

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jesonian-cover-amazon

Jesus knows us because He was us. (What a great title for a praise band song).

He didn’t come to Earth to stand afar and consider our befuddled actions from his undergirded, divine nature. He was human.

He learned, he grew and he found favor through trial and error. I didn’t make that up. That’s what the Gospel of Luke says.

So by the time he reached his thirty-first birthday and was sharing the Sermon on the Mount, he had a firm comprehension of the human reaction to life.

It is in four phases:

  1. We feel
  2. We muse
  3. We think
  4. We do

There are folks who reject their feelings, muse over their failures and go to their brain–only to find it a library chock-full of old information, and therefore end up doing things repetitively, wondering why they can’t change.

Our emotions exist to tell us what we feel. They are not definitive, they are not final–they are sensors.

Our spirit is there to muse–to add that gentle balance that “all things will work together to the good.” Muse is the root word of music. The spirit should be the soundtrack to our solution. Sometimes it takes an hour; sometimes it takes a year. I suppose there are even things that take a lifetime.

But when we enter the third phase, we must be careful. We think.

Contrary to popular opinion, the mind is dangerous. Why? Because it is already programmed. It has our culture, our bigotry, our training, our prejudices and our false statistics. It’s the reason Jesus told his disciples, “Don’t think so much.”

Because if you come across a problem, feeling it may be a difficult one, and you muse over it in your spirit, but then decide to seek an answer in your brain, you’ll consider data that is often only worthy of the trash bin.

But do we put it in the garbage? No.

So when we start thinking, we start worrying, which negates our spirit and frustrates our emotions. We literally do the first thing that comes into our head–and it’s often wrong.

So what did Jesus suggest? What is the Jesonian?

Take your feelings to your spirit and muse over them until you get the music of wisdom–either from God, your own fresh experience, or even the counsel of others. Then move on that tuneful wisdom and do what’s right. At this point you can come back and renew your mind. It’s like putting another book in the library.

Your brain starts gaining flexibility.

The Sermon on the Mount is not a wish list by a religious boy who came from God, possessing an advantage. It is the observation of a man who lived in a household with at least six other brothers and sisters, worked as a carpenter, flushed out some bad demons in the wilderness, and was prepared to look at life as it really was … instead of trying to think he could handle everything.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 20) Twenty-One Steps … September 11th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

Sunday morning in Nebraska was a living and breathing confirmation of the wisdom of the Creator God–to set aside a day of rest.

With nothing to do but prepare homemade waffles, walk the dog and dress for church, the citizens of Garsonville breathed a collective sigh of relaxation and relief. For just a little while, life became slower, and the craziness of the 21st century was mollified by simplicity.

That morning, Meningsbee barely got seven steps into the door of the church before Matrisse grabbed his arm and pulled him down to whisper in his ear.

“Kitty is gone.”

He pulled back so he could look into her eyes. She just sadly shook her head.

Realizing he couldn’t stop to converse any more, he made his way toward the sanctuary, where after a few feet he was nudged to the side by Bob Harborhouse, one of the original church members on the pastor’s selection committee. He was also one of the people who left over the fearful prospect of sitting closer to the front of the church. Meningsbee remembered that during his trial sermon, Bob introduced himself as a “groomsman carpenter,” explaining that by day he took care of a stable of horses and at night, he was in the first stages of starting his own furniture company–all original designs.

Bob said to Meningsbee, “I’m back with my family and about ten other people from the old church, but I do want you to know that Sammy Collins has begun his own congregation with about fifteen individuals who are meeting this morning at his house.”

Trying very hard to disguise his disappointment, Meningsbee nodded and headed into the sanctuary. Right before entering the holy of holies, he was once again stopped, this time by Theresa, the volunteer church secretary. She explained that someone had vandalized the women’s bathroom. It appeared that the scoundrel had poured two bags of marshmallows down the toilet.

Having no immediate clever come-back, Meningsbee nodded and told her he would make the announcement.

So as he inched his way up the middle aisle to the front of the church, looking at what was really a pretty good attendance, he wondered what conversation in his first twenty-one steps into the house of God could be addressed.

But before he could get started, Mark Layton, a former member of the church and also a history teacher at the local middle school, stood to his feet, firing a challenge.

“Reverend Meningsbee, I know you think you know what you’re doing, but before you came to our town, we were just a small country church with gentle ways and hopes for better lives for our families. Since you’ve been here, we’ve had division–and now there are three congregations meeting where once there was just a single body of believers. Do you really think that division is the work of God?”

There was some hissing and booing from the other members, who had come to church for a more enlightened experience, but Meningsbee quickly silenced the naysayers.

“Mark,” Meningsbee said, “When I was a young boy, my mother bought a brand new vacuum cleaner. It was quite a contraption. It had all sorts of shiny, silver metal pipes that came with it. They were extensions, so she could do various things to sweep up corners and such. I was only six years old, so I took one of those shiny metal pipes and quickly discovered that it was the perfect size for me to take a ping-pong ball, stick it inside and place my mouth over the end of the tube, and blow out really hard, and pretend I had a dart gun.”

The congregation laughed.

“It was great fun,” Meningsbee continued. “Then one day I picked up one of my ping-pong balls and it felt a little funny in my hand, like it was bigger. You know what I mean? But I tried to put it inside that metal tube anyway. It barely fit. But the worst part of it was, I couldn’t blow it out. Now, I probably should have told my mom or dad that I messed up one of the metal pipes on the new vacuum cleaner, but I was scared. Being a kid, I just hoped it would work out. It didn’t. And later, when my mother tried to sweep the floor, the machine didn’t work because of my little ping-pong ball mistake. They took it to the repair shop and received a gloomy report. Because the metal tube I had put my ping-pong ball in happened to be attached to the engine of the sweeper–and without that tube, well, the whole mechanism was basically useless. But the repair man was able to tell them that there was a ping-pong ball in there that he couldn’t get out unless he cut the tube in half. Well it didn’t take my parents too long to figure out where the ping-pong ball might have found its origins. They took me to the side and asked me why I didn’t tell them that I had made a mistake. I looked at them with tears in my eyes and said, ‘I just wanted everything to be all right, the way it was.’ You see, Mark, it wasn’t all right. It still looked like a vacuum cleaner but it didn’t work. Something was stuffed up inside, blocking the suction. When I arrived at this church, you had all the right equipment, seating, and even pretty good doughnut choices for the after-glow service.”

More giggles.

“But it wasn’t a church. Maybe it was a club. Maybe it was a way to escape and pretend we were better than the world around us. You can make up your mind on that. But the Book of Hebrews tells us that a church is a place where we come to strengthen one another. Not just praise or worship or gather to sing or say all the right words. So here’s my opinion: if we have to disrupt the eighty-eight souls who came to this church to try to reach the thirteen hundred who never have, then so be it. In my mind’s eye, it’s a small price to pay. So Mark, you are welcome to join us in worship this morning, or please–do not feel condemned or criticized if you would like to leave now that your question has been answered.”

There was a moment of silence. The people were absolutely still. At length, a softer, more tender Mark Layton piped up.

“I’m listening.”

Church continued.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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Ask Jonathots … March 10th, 2016

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ask jonathots bigger

You hear it all the time: “She got that talent from her mother…” Is talent actually inherited?

No.

I suppose I could just stop there, but maybe you would like some clarification.

Let’s start off with a definition for talent: Talent is a capacity for success.

Simply having talent does not guarantee us prosperity.

  • It is a capacity.
  • It is a potential.
  • It is an opportunity.

It is an even playing field for those who are willing to work hard, allowing them to use some natural inclinations.

There can be physical attributes that are passed along through the DNA system. Maybe these specific “pluses” make it easier to pursue certain directions in life.

But talent is and always will be the realization of a dream through the pursuit of focused labor.

Therefore, people who have no history of music in their families can become dynamic examples in the art form.

All things being fair, our Creator never intended that privilege and preference would be infused into anyone. The gifts that God gives to human beings lie in the discovery of our inner strengths, our weaknesses, and learning how to balance these to our advantage.

Of course, if you surround a child with hammers and nails from the time he is five years old, the chance that he will grow up to be a carpenter is heightened. But he also might grow up to be an itinerant preacher who changes the world.

Be grateful for the fact that talent cannot be attributed to anything but your own faith, the desires of your hope and a really well-put-together and disciplined work schedule.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 24th, 2016

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PoHymn Feb 24

Come With Me

Come with me, young Nazarene

Far away from the caustic scene

To live, to share another day

Escape the voices of disarray

Before they steal your mind

And treat your soul unkind

Remember the shores of Galilee

Thoughts were fluid, hearts were free

Come away to our special place

And teach us to love the human race

For they want to eat your skin

Drink your blood, remit their sin

An aching desire to be divine

Needing wisdom, seeking a sign

Trapped in a tomb of dead men’s bones

Muttering commands, misguided drones

Just this once, follow me

Time to leave Gethsemane

Crippled, anger in their eyes

Slaves to tradition, children of lies

Messiah has come, Messiah need live

The world must receive what you have to give

Run with me, Jesus, do not delay

Don’t take the time to stop and pray

Surely this cup must pass from you

God’s will is life, this is true

Hurry, Carpenter, they’ve brought the nails

Let’s make sure their plan fails

They’ll be here soon to do it again

Make you a sacrifice for their sin

Please, oh, please, keep the message alive

And grant the Earth a chance to thrive

But you sit calmly and patiently wait

For freedom of choice to seal your fate

Death with honor is poorly stated

But life with retreat is over-rated

You waited too long, young Nazarene

Your spirit willing, theirs just mean

So they return each Sunday just about eleven

To confirm their souls are bound for heaven.

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Jesonian: The Five W’s of the J-Man… August 2nd, 2015

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5 W's

Long, long ago in a print shop far away, we used to publish newspapers. They have been replaced by nothing.

A formula was developed for newspaper articles, which was referred to as the 5 W’s: who, what, where, when and why.

So what are the 5 W’s of the story of Jesus? I guess it depends on who you ask.

You have the common perception, which are those who are not necessarily believers, but look on the tale from a historical perspective.

You have religious doctrine, which comes from those who adhere to a Christian theology.

And then you have the Jesonian–individuals who are curious about the personality and mission of the one who has been dubbed “the Christ.”

So let’s look at it.

Who was Jesus?

Common perception: A carpenter-turned-religious icon.

Religious doctrine: A Savior who died for our sins.

Jesonian: The Son of Man, who came to redeem human beings and give us a working lifestyle.

What was Jesus?

Common perception: A Jewish teacher who was killed

Religious doctrine: The Lamb of God who was slain from the foundations of the world.

Jesonian: The Word who became Flesh.

Where was Jesus?

Common perception: Born of peasants in Nazareth.

Religious doctrine: Born in Israel to be salvation, beginning with the Jews.

Jesonian: Born in Israel, raised in Egypt, rejected by his family and hometown, condemned by the Jewish Council, crucified by the Romans, while challenging his disciples to “go into all the world.”

When was Jesus?

Common perception: Born approximately 2000 years ago.

Religious doctrine: His birth marked the beginning of the modern era–A.D.

Jesonian: All the world was temporarily crowded into Mesopotamia–Romans, Jews, Greeks, Egyptians and even those traveling from the East.

Why was Jesus?

Common perception: To be a religious leader.

Religious doctrine: To fulfill prophesy.

Jesonian: To free us from the rigors of religion.

So let us look at each paragraph, formed by our research.

Common perception:

Jesus was a carpenter-turned-religious teacher of Jewish extract, who ended up killed for his ideas. He was born of peasants in Nazareth some 2000 years ago and became the founder of the Christian religion.

Religious doctrine:

Jesus was a Savior who died for our sins, the Lamb who was slain from the foundations of the world. He was born in Israel to be a salvation and Messiah for the Jews and to begin the modern era of A.D. He came to fulfill all Old Testament prophesy.

Jesonian:

Jesus was the Son of Man who came to redeem human beings and give us a lifestyle, the Word who became Flesh. He was born in Israel, raised in Egypt, rejected by his family and hometown, condemned b y the Jewish Council, crucified by the Romans, yet told his disciples to spread the message into all the world. At the time of his birth, all the cultures were temporarily crowded into Mesopotamia–Romans, Jews, Greeks, Egyptians and even passing caravans from the Far East. Jesus had one goal: to free us from the rigors of religion.

Which story touches your heart? 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant…May 6th, 2015

 

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PoHymn May 6

A Hellish Dream

I dreamed I went to hell

It did not go very well

I expected to see killers

And there were the Millers

Who lived on Sunset near Bell

 

They sat eating Sunday taters

Gossiping like all known traitors

Believing themselves to be fine

A little whine with their dine

Complaining about the colored waiters

 

Nearby was Banker Bill

Consuming his usual fill

Speaking with great shock

Of losing on a stock

Failing to make a kill

 

The reverend droned a common prayer

The carpenter complained about his chair

The mayor looked for babies to kiss

The widow wept for the husband amiss

An agreement that life was unfair

 

The day finished with a yawn

Dusk coming to complete the dawn

The souls waddled to their places

With sadness etched upon their faces

Time to mow the lawn.

 

Hell was not what I thought

Things sold, others bought

It was just extremely bland

Like a beach without the sand

Ignorance refusing to be taught.

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