3 Things… October 4th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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That Cause Great Decisions

1. Disconnect your faith.

You have some work to do before you pass it off to heaven.

 

2. Engage your brain.

Count the cost–see what you have and what you can do with it.

 

3. Welcome back your faith.

Now you know where you are, so invite help.

 

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 48) Damaged … April 2nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Meningsbee didn’t recognize the name. Carl had left a note: Please call Cam Collier.”

Then there were three or four different numbers. The end of the note read, “Very important.” The two words were underlined.

When Meningsbee dialed the number he was still trying to retrieve who Cam Collier was. Even when Mr. Collier answered the phone, it still took Meningsbee a moment to recall that this gentleman was Kitty’s husband–the successful millionaire with all the silos.

He simply asked if Meningsbee would be in the office tomorrow morning at ten o’clock, and if he would mind a visit. Meningsbee agreed and then spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what it could possibly be about.

Could Cam need spiritual counsel? Were there problems in the marriage?

So the next day at ten o’clock, when Cam walked in the door and sat down in Meningsbee’s little office, his curiosity was about ready to burst.

Since they had no history with one another, there was no real need to catch up. Cam just launched into his purpose.

“This is hard for me,” he began. “Matter of fact, I would deeply appreciate if everything I share with you is kept private between the two of us.”

Meningsbee reassured him that confidence was secure.

“You may remember that I married Kitty and we came back here and picked up Hapsy to start our life together.”

Meningsbee inserted. “Is there a problem with Hapsy?”

“No, no,” said Cam. “She’s a sweet little girl.”

Meningsbee questioned, “Then are you alright?”

“No, no, it’s not me. So you probably can figure–it has to do with Kitty. I don’t really know how well you know Kitty–she always talked like you two were old friends.”

Meningsbee nodded, not wanting to blow Kitty’s cover.

“And since you probably were friends,” continued Cam, “I apologize for not getting ahold of you sooner.”

Meningsbee inquired, “Is there a problem in the marriage?”

Cam paused. “Well, not exactly. There’s a problem with Kitty.”

Meningsbee leaned forward. “Is she sick?”

“No, Pastor. It’s beyond that. She’s…well, I guess you’d have to say she’s permanently damaged.”

“I don’t understand,” said Meningsbee.

“Of course you wouldn’t,” replied Cam. “How could you? Let me put it as gently as I possibly can. Even though I did love Kitty–though I must admit to you, man to man, most of it was lust. But it did have an element of love in it. I always knew she didn’t love me. She needed me. Sometimes she even liked me. I suppose I might even have amused her from time to time. But it didn’t take long after we were married for her to start flirtin’ and eventually cattin’ around. You know what I mean, right?”

“I do,” said Meningsbee quietly.

“I didn’t think much about it,” said Cam. “I suppose I’m not a prideful man. I do know I’m not handsome or a great prize. Hell, my money barely makes me passable. But I did not expect it to happen.”

“Has she left you?” asked Meningsbee.

“No. Not physically. I mean, she’s still around.”

Cam took a breath. “About two months ago we were vacationing in Florida, and Kitty got a hankering to go water skiing. Well, I don’t even like boats that well, let alone gettin’ on two sticks and skippin’ across the stream. So she found a guide and several young folks who were going out to ski and spend the day in the sun. I knew she was attracted to one of the young men. I think she knew I knew. Well, anyway, he brought along some… what do they call’em? Recreational drugs? So they were partying really hard.

“One of the young men had never driven a boat before, so while Kitty was on her water skiis, he got behind the wheel, took off, and zoomed as fast as he could, with the boat pulling her.

“Well, they were all laughing and screaming. But right when she was about to come up on one of those–I don’t know what you call ’em–where you go up on your skis in the air?”

Meningsbee inserted. “A ramp?”

“Yeah. That’s it. Well, like I said, the boy was inexperienced and he thought since they were coming up on a ramp, he should slow the boat down. When he did, it caused her to hit the ramp at an odd angle, and she went flying into the air, straight into the ramp, head first.

“They thought she was dead at the scene. But they got her to the hospital, put her on life support. They weren’t sure what would happen next. After two weeks, she regained consciousness, but she wasn’t right.”

Cam broke down in tears as he finished the last thought. Meningsbee pushed a box of Kleenex in his direction. He took a tissue, wiped his eyes and wadded it up in his hand.

“She’s… I don’t know what’s the right word. She’s retarded. She can’t think or do for herself totally. I’ve asked the doctors, and they believe she’s stuck right where she is.”

“Now, Reverend, I know that my wedding vows say ‘in sickness and in health,’ but I’ve got to be truthful with you. I lied.

“I could tolerate that girl as long as she was healthy. But I can’t live with what’s left. I didn’t sign on to be a care-giver to a woman who was determined to cheat on me.

“She doesn’t look anything like what I wanted, and I think I would do her a horrible injustice by having her around me and despising her…well, at least despising the situation…every minute of the day.

“So you see, what I’ve got is money.”

He looked up. “I didn’t come and talk to you first. I know you preachers.”

Meningsbee interrupted. “Well, you don’t know me.”

Cam continued. “So you’re saying you wouldn’t have told me to be patient, hang in there for a while and see how it works?”

Meningsbee smiled. “Well, I might have.”

“Sir, I can’t hang in there. I’m a doer. I want things and I want ’em now. I’m not saying that makes me a good man. I’m not saying that makes me a bad man. I took on a young girl to be a lover, not a patient.

“So before I came to see you, I went to see Matreese.”

“You went to see Matreese?” asked Meningsbee, surprised.

“Yes. I didn’t meet her for very long, but I liked her. There’s a toughness and a tenderness in her that’s rare. I told her what happened to Kitty. You know, she never blinked an eye. She just listened.

“When I got all done, she interrupted me. Now listen–here’s what she said to me. She said, ‘So you want to get rid of her but you don’t want to feel bad about it, so you came here to see if I would take care of Kitty and Hapsy.’ Pastor, she blew my mind. She was right on the button.

“I told her I was willing to pay. Without cracking a smile or even moving a muscle in her face, she said, ‘You better be. You’re asking a lot.’ Long story short–well, I guess that’s not possible, is it? Well, anyway, she told me what she would require to take over the care of Kitty and Hapsy.

“She said, ‘You write me a check every month for forty thousand dollars and I’ll take on your responsibility. And I’ll do a good job.’ Can you believe that? Pastor, I married the wrong woman.

“Well, I didn’t have my calculator and it took a minute, but I figured out that was almost a half million a year. But it’s worth it to me. Hell, it’s worth it. Just to know that I don’t have to do it, but the girl’s taken care of.”

Meningsbee waited for a moment, and then realizing there was a silence, he spoke up. “Where do I come in here?”

“Matreese told me I had to come and get your approval for this deal, and also that I needed to donate five thousand dollars a month to the church.”

Meningsbee desperately tried to remain still, but the thought did cross his mind how five thousand dollars a month would help in the work.

He asked, “Will you visit them?”

“No, I won’t,” said Cam. “I suppose I should tell you that I will, but then I would just end up disappointing you. It may sound like a bad joke, but it seems that Kitty and I just ended up being ships passing in the night.”

Cam stood to his feet, stuck out his hand, and the two men shook on a most unusual deal.

When Kitty arrived–delivered, as it were–three days later, Matreese brought her to the church. Her wounds had mostly healed, except for a few scars on her head. She was lovely, with what seemed to be a permanent smile affixed to her face…and the mind of a four-year-old child.

Matreese had two little girls, and would soon have a young girl who was meant to be the mother of a flourishing woman. It would be odd.

But it would be paid for.

And God had one of his best angels at work on the job. Matreese would find a way.

And God would make all things possible.

 

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 41) There’s Always a Space … February 12th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

When Meningsbee’s wife, Doris, died, a minister friend counseled him to take some time and give himself the luxury of grieving.

So for six months, Richard permitted his heart, soul and mind to reminisce and dream delightful thoughts about his dear friend, Doris.

There seemed to be a healing. It got a little easier to consider her gone, though there was never any real “ease” in the notion.

After the six-month grieving period, Meningsbee decided to reenter his life of writing and pastoring, only to discover that the emotional stitching he had done on his internals busted loose, and he was flooded with a deluge of remorse.

He thought he was crazy. He even thought he heard Doris moving about the kitchen.

Sitting at breakfast, his mind wandered. He saw her perched in the chair across from him, with her feet tucked up under her butt, with her long, graceful fingers caressing a coffee cup–closing them around the handle, bringing it to her lips, sipping slowly and then giving a seductive little contented shiver. It was so beautiful.

Her peace of mind made him feel like a man.

Even one Sunday at church, during a communion service, his eyes filled with tears. The congregation thought he was moved by the experience with the Holy Meal, but actually it was the scent of the communion wine that brought a memory of a green lotion Doris once applied to her feet–to heal her corns. He giggled inside, remembering her smearing the fluid on her feet and quipping, “I was a girl. Now apparently I’m going to become a grandma with corny feet, and completely skip woman.”

Then, three weeks ago Matrisse’s sister from Chicago came to town, and a blind date of sorts was planned. She was an extraordinarily attractive woman–intelligent and the general manager of a corporation in the Windy City. But because she was just coming off a divorce, she ended up discussing her misgivings and in no time Meningsbee found himself counseling and consoling her instead of considering her. The movie was cancelled and she expressed her gratitude for his words of wisdom with a peck on the cheek.

Meningsbee realized there’s no such thing as “getting over” someone you loved.

There’s always a space–always something they did that was so unique that it couldn’t be duplicated by the actions of another.

Exactly three days before she passed away, Doris rose in the morning after they’d had a fussy tiff with each other the night before, bounced into the room, hugged his neck and said, “Reverend Richard Meningsbee, you are my favorite annoyance.”

How can you forget that?

Somewhere along the line, the preacher just decided to stop fighting the urges to love her.

People are not replaceable–we just learn to appreciate what other people have to offer.

There’s always a space–a space forever occupied with visions of Doris.

 

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Three Ways to Conquer Despair… December 11, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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big sad little boy

Despair comes into our lives when the pile of what we need seems to be bigger than the pile of what we have.

It’s an issue of perception.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small child in India or the Son of God, struggling in the Garden of Gethsemane, suddenly overwhelmed by the task ahead. You still want to screech, “Take this away from me!”

Despair is hard to escape. The classic remedies of prayer, counseling, positive thinking or even medication are all limited in their scope, based on faithfulness to the process.

Let’s be honest. It is very difficult to be faithful when you’re scared.

If you’ll allow me, here are three ways to set in motion a process to conquer despair by not allowing it to wash over you in the first place:

1. Don’t ignore your moods.

You are an emotional person and merely quoting scripture, uttering your mantra, finding your yoga position or trying to ignore the problem is not going to make it go away. Our moods are powerful to us because they project the symptoms of a condition existing in our soul, which requires our attention.

Stop perceiving yourself as “moody,” and realize that you are actually symptomatic. There is a tendency in our society to try to douse the emotions and limit their value. This is the worst thing we can do.

Deal with your emotions–they are telling you something important coming from deep within your soul.

2. Find a human mirror.

You will consider yourself irreparable until you realize there are other people in your same situation, and you can see your problem or apprehension in the face of another human being. This is why rehab surrounds you with addicts instead of people who have never taken drugs sharing their insights on self-control.

We all need a mirror.

I can’t change my life if I’m looking at people who have never had a life-changing experience. Look in the eyes of someone who suffers from the same despair that you do and draw strength from his or her struggle.

If you surround yourself with people who appear not only to be stronger than you, but also let you know how much stronger they are, you will only deepen your anguish.

3. Find a friend to note your progress.

Yes, you will need to be honest with someone. For a moment you will have to stop trying to be Superman or Superwoman, and admit you’re Clark Kent or Diana.

You will make progress. You’ll have a tendency not to ignore it because your expectations are too high. Get someone who understands your pursuit and can tell you how many steps you’ve made from where you started.

There are those who want to make depression and despair an illness, and perhaps in a handful of souls, it is.

But most of us become trapped in a cave of misunderstanding and worry, and soon find ourselves nearly immobilized–unable to function.

At that point, if you will simply give place to your moods, find other human beings who reflect your need, and get a friend to encourage you in your steps of progress, you can actually win the day and bring despair under your control instead of allowing it to make you an inmate to its prison.

 

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Click here for information on "567"--the Sermon on the Mount retold in story, song and music

Click here for information on “567”–the Sermon on the Mount retold in story, song and music

 

I “Loke” You … November 20, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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I heart youOf course, it will never catch on.

Even though my made-up word, “loke,” is the perfect blending of like and love, and in so being, expresses the balance necessary for human relationships, we will keep the two words, like and love, as distant fourth cousins.

But after many years of travel, sharing, writing and counseling, I will tell you that like and love are the best way to build a life with another human being without feeling compelled or forced.

You may say to yourself, there are people you like and people you love, but if you analyze it, you might discover that the very best interactions you have with others are when these two words merge and become as one.

Let’s look at the word like. What does it mean?

  1. I have confidence in your abilities.
  2. I enjoy being with you.
  3. We have fun.

Now, no one would believe that those three elements are enough for building a marriage or lasting partnership. But they certainly make life more pleasant. After all, lacking confidence in another human being, failing to enjoy their presence and not having mutually satisfying experiences brings “duty” to the forefront and pushes “party” to the rear.

How about love?

  1. I have made a decision to commit to being with you.
  2. Because of that, I have forgiveness ready and at hand.
  3. You make me want to be loyal.

Love is a sealant to commitment. It creates confidence that even when things aren’t likable, they don’t have to end. It is God finding a way to forgive, even when the sin or iniquity may seem to be insurmountable.

So when I hear people say they love me, or that God loves me, I understand they’re saying they have decided to make a commitment, forgive me when necessary and be loyal. But honestly, what I want to hear is the word like included in that proclamation:  I want you to have confidence in my abilities, enjoy being with me and come to have fun.

The marriages that work are those that blend like and love to create my manufactured “loke.” The relationships that merely endure focus on the love and tend to give up on likability.

I would encourage you to learn how to “loke” people.

Because even though I’m glad that God loves me … I really want Him to like me.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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

Dr. Foul–November 2, 2011

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Telling people that life is easy is misleading them into believing that nothing they are or that they possess will need to change.

Utterly ridiculous. 

Informing people that life is hard makes them reticent, a bit reclusive and frightened that change will be thrust upon them and they will be insufficient to the task. 

Equally harmful.

And telling people that you have the answers and that if they would just listen to your counsel they would be better is not only turning yourself into a false Messiah, but making them subservient to such a fictitious character.

Damnable.

There is a gentleman on TV who postures as a renowned psychologist and pops off advice in a homespun way, having very little understanding of the history of the people he’s talking to, while sharing some personal anecdotes about how he has overcome the same problem with a “tell it like it is” attitude, leaving people helpless to disagree with him, and therefore cowering in the corner, just waiting for the onslaught of his opinion to stop. They call him Dr. Phil. But to me, he’s Dr. Foul.

I know what you’re thinking. “Jonathan, you don’t usually come out with such blatant statements about individuals.” This is true–and I apologize for my lapse in procedure, but I’ve grown weary of television gurus who feather the nest of their reputation by using wounded human beings who are caught in a web of difficulty and deception to make themselves look like they are smarter than the average person and that they can fly high over the masses. Here’s the problem with Dr. Foul:

1.Change is a necessity and relationship is necessary to human beings, so the need for change within a relationship has to be worked out by the individuals who are involved in that covenant and cannot be simply handled in two quick stories and three platitudes. Dr. Foul likes to find the person who appears to be victimized and portray him or her as someone who needs self-esteem and is being torn down by the mean aggressor. It isn’t always that easy. There are people in this life who have declared war on the concept of change. Their “changeless” attitudes causes conflict, financial difficulties, problems and even illness. To tell them that they are “fine the way they are” is to lock them in a box of their own insufficiency and throw away the key.

2. He believes that conventional wisdom always works. It doesn’t. It’s why the Bible says that we “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” It is why the Bible also teaches that we “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” Bluntly, that premise contends that if we need space for our pointy corners, then we must grant that same opportunity to our fellow humans. Knocking off the corners on people’s lives does not make them fit better into Godly containers. It just bruises them.

3. Not everything is a story about you. I realize that Dr. Foul is an entertainer who has neither the patience nor the time anymore to actually involve himself in   human contact with those in need. But presenting how YOU did something so well is not a motivation to make others do the same. It just makes them feel more helpless.

4. He doesn’t allow for an argument. It doesn’t matter how smart you get–people still on occasion are smarter than you. If you cannot listen to what they’re saying and give in to common sense, but rather, feel that you must maintain a position, then you have become useless to them. Dr. Foul is never wrong and becomes quite heatedly angry if you suggest otherwise.

5.  And finally, mixing philosophies together to form a hodge-podge of psychological babble is not conducive to establishing a good pattern for life. In the process of one show, Dr. Foul will bounce between Zen Buddhism, pop psychology, fundamentalist Christianity, Cracker Box chatter, hipster lingo and just man-on-woman chauvinistic superiority. Make up your mind.

For instance, when I run across fundamentalist Christians who only believes in the King James version of the Bible and they are ardent in their belief, I can have a conversation with them because I understand their hearts.  This is why I admire people who are against abortion, but also against capital punishment and war. It’s consistent. On the other hand, if you were to actually follow the advice of Dr. Foul, you would find yourself so uncommitted to any particular path of righteousness that your wishy-washy approach would render you insipid to the point of being comical.

Case in point: it is impossible to instruct people that women are the weaker sex or that women are the emotional arm of the species and that men are sexually driven, dominant and more powerful and think that you are going to establish any kind of relationship based on equality. Yet Dr. Foul persists in offering an Old Testament version of relationships between men and women while at the same time insisting that he is the modern Renaissance man who views both sexes as equals.

I do not share this with you today because I want to be mean-spirited to this gentleman. I just want to make it clear that you should not listen to anything anyone says, including this writer, without trying and testing it through your spirit, your experience and your willingness–your spirit because God speaks to you if you’re willing to listen; your experience because that which you’ve seen and heard is what you should declare to others; and your willingness–just because something NEEDS to be done does not mean that after you have counted the cost, you are going to be able to undertake it.

Dr. Foul does not allow enough time for these people to do this wonderful three-step process.  He tells them what their problem is, makes them accept it and sends them off somewhere for therapy as he closes the show with a smirk, to the roar of applause. When you are truly helping people it is no laughing matter and there rarely is ever a standing ovation.

As I said, feel free to disregard this humble author’s insights in this matter. But also please examine the counsel of anyone–no matter how many degrees they may possess–and ask God to show you what part of it has meat and what part of it is just dry bones.

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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