Reverend Meningsbee (Part 51) Under the Weather… April 23rd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3285)

Reverend Meningsbee

Shortly after the premiere of “Eden,” it was as if the community fell under a spell.

People just started getting sick–lots of flu, colds, injuries. An ever-growing list of those diagnosed with cancer during prayer time. A few of the prominent couples in town filed for divorce. It sent a shock wave through the community.

Meningsbee was fully aware that those who live on the prairie are not without the knowledge of the real world, but the decision to stay there was often an attempt to escape it. Sometimes superstition smothered common sense.

Some of the members started talking about “curses.” There were musings that the sins of the town were taking root and that God had removed His favor from them and that everything they tried was laying an egg.

Meningsbee attempted to encourage folks, but a dark slime of depression settled in.

Meningsbee went to prayer. Normally when it came to prayer, Meningsbee liked to listen. If he was in a group of people, they often deferred to him to lead in prayer, but he frequently requested that someone else do it so he could just enjoy.

But sometimes he knew it was important for him to pray–find a good closet, shut the door and turn down all the noise. Just allow his spirit to be free of fear and open to the possibility of solution.

While he was in prayer, he remembered a question that one of the women from the Ladies Auxiliary had posed. “Pastor Meningsbee, how do you know it’s not a curse? It’s not like evil would let us be aware of its plan.”

He thought long and hard on that. People spend an awful lot of time fighting, cursing or chasing the devil. Yet if there were actually a creature who spawned darkness and evil, it was unlikely that people would be able to deter him from his ways.

So where does that leave us? he thought. Exactly. It leaves… us. What do we know we can do? What do we know we can be? What do we know we can think, that will keep the effects of gloom out of our minds and open the door to good cheer?

From that time in prayer, Meningsbee put together a message, which he shared the following Sunday.

After praying for a grim list of sick folk and listening to a hymn sung with no enthusiasm at half-volume by weary people, he offered a simple thought.

“The only thing I can do, the only thing you can do, is control what comes inside us. Because once it is inside us, it’s going to feed us or it’s going to starve us.”

He stepped out into the middle aisle and pointed out five or six different individuals.

“Do you believe that if you eat better, you might just feel better? But if you’re like me, when you get depressed, you want to eat things you know are bad for you, but they temporarily make you feel good.

“And if your mind is clouded and unclear, should you be watching things on television or at the movies that leave you with more questions than answers? For the Good Book tells us that a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

“And if you’re pretty sure that life has temporarily decided to suck, should you be sitting around listening to people who have prime, juicy examples to confirm your conclusion? What should you be hearing?

“Now I know some of you think we’re under a curse. I don’t happen to agree, but let’s say you’re right. How should we break the curse? It’s against the law to sacrifice virgins anymore. I don’t think any of us are up for an exorcism.

“God only asks you and me to take responsibility for what we handle. So I don’t know about you. Maybe it’s just a bad time, or maybe it’s a curse. But here’s what I can do.

“I can eat better. I can stop watching trash on TV. And I can listen to people who have a message of hope instead of those who’ve given up. You know what? I feel better just thinking about feeling better. How about you? How many of you feel better just thinking about feeling better?”

Nearly everyone in the sanctuary raised their hand.

“Now, we can’t expect our brothers and sisters who don’t come to church to set a miracle in motion, but if our town needs a miracle we need miracle workers. And Jesus says that begins with faith.

“So if you dear souls have the faith to say to this curse, ‘Be thou removed’ and you do not doubt in your hearts, it will go away. Especially if we start eating better, looking for light and listening for good reports.

“Now I want you to do something we don’t normally do in this church. If you heard what I shared today and you thought to yourself, ‘that’s a pretty doggone good idea,’ I want you to come up here and stand with me.”

The entire congregation stood to its feet in clumps and intervals and moved to the front altar area.

Reverend Meningsbee made his way to every single soul, squeezing their hands and simply saying, “Let’s be well.”

Now maybe the good news was there all the time, or maybe the community was so depressed it was unable to see anything but bleak possibilities. But starting that very morning, Garsonville got healed.

It was their faith that made them whole.

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 50) Lights, Camera, Inaction … April 16th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3272)

Reverend Meningsbee

Russ and Tracy were the local and only filmmakers in Garsonville.

They referred to themselves as “cinemaniacs.” They loved movies. They loved making movies.

They could tell you the back story of every single Hollywood blockbuster that ever rolled across the silver screen. They spent hours discussing their preference on a particular type of electronic cord or the do’s and don’ts of good lighting.

They lived together, unmarried, in a small apartment above the downtown apothecary. Although such relationships were frowned on in the small town, the people accepted them and concluded in their minds that they must be brother and sister.

Russ and Tracy, along with Carl, came to see Meningsbee, possessing the excitement of three ten-year-old children who just discovered they had a snow day. They wanted to make a documentary–the story of the Garsonville Church since Meningsbee had arrived, including the controversy and also the burst of recent growth. For last Sunday, there had been 230 people in attendance at the church.

Meningsbee listened carefully to their plan, and was greatly surprised to discover they had already “townfunded” $4,223 from the citizens.

Meningsbee had his doubts. To him, it kind of felt the same way as the first time somebody described sushi. It sounded like a good idea, but something was a little fishy.

Actually, he had two major concerns, so he voiced them.

“Listen,” he said, “before I give my blessing to this project, I need to know, number 1, do I have to do anything different, weird, unusual or fakey?”

The three assured him that all he had to do was be his glorious self.

“Secondly,” he continued, “do I have to wear makeup? You see, about ten years ago, I did a talk show in Rhode Island and the girl at the studio insisted I wear makeup because she noticed that my lips were so thin that they crawled back into my face. Since she was the professional, I agreed to let her smear some stuff on my forehead, and then she took lipstick and put it on my mouth. It was kind of dark brown in color. Later on, when I caught a glimpse of myself on the TV monitor, I looked like one of those Old West gunslingers lying in the pine box before they carried him away to Boot Hill.”

Russ and Tracy assured Meningsbee there would be no need for him to wear makeup unless he really enjoyed it.

“I’ll tell you what,” said Meningsbee. “I think I can get the church to agree to take a $5,000 donation that’s just come in, and give it to you guys to make this idea come to life.”

Jubilation rocked the room.

Two weeks later there were cameras and lighting equipment in the streets of Garsonville, and the citizens were solicited for their opinions, insights and any stories they might like to share with the documentarians.

It took three months to shoot the whole thing. There was a complete sense of community–enthusiasm beyond measure–and with Russ and Tracy telling one and all there was a possibility that the little flick might be going to film festivals, everybody was preening and preparing for “bright lights and big city.”

Meningsbee gently but firmly warned the folks that they had been equally enthralled with USBN. But you see, this was different. This was “home town kids doing home town things to express the beauty of the home town.”

After three weeks of shooting, there was another forty days of editing, at which time it was decided there needed to be a premiere of the documentary at the local high school. They decided to call it “Looking for Eden,” and the premiere was only twenty-five days away.

The auditorium only seated 500 people, and the interest level seemed so strong that it was decided there would be two showings–one at 6:45 P.M. on Saturday, and one at 2:30 P.M. Sunday afternoon.

Posters were printed, the newspaper interviewed the filmmakers and all potential stars, and Meningsbee sat back and watched his congregation and community go just a little bit crazy one more time.

He, himself, had filmed two segments for the project. One was a question and answer session in his office, and another one had him sharing spontaneously from his heart as he walked slowly down the main street of Garsonville. Both scenes seemed a little bit contrived and incomplete to Meningsbee, but Russ and Tracy said the dailies looked great–the dailies being the footage they looked at each afternoon, to make sure quality was being maintained.

Watching the town prepare for the event was similar to eyeballing a seven-year-old boy in church who needs to pee. He’s not quite sure what to do with himself so he wiggles around, hoping a bathroom is in his near future.

Premiere night arrived. A couple of limousines were hired for the filmmakers and the more prominent dignitaries from the town, and the auditorium was packed all the way to the walls, with people who came to see a tribute to their town, which amazingly, included their mugs.

It started off all right. There was a song played by a local boy as the opening credits rolled.

But then the actual movie began. It wasn’t bad. The camera work was good, the sound was adequate.

But it was just boring.

What Russ and Tracy did not take into consideration was that Nebraskan folks sometimes take two minutes just to say hello. Slow paced life. Slow paced speech. Slow paced moving picture.

One of those just didn’t work.

People began getting fidgety, with lots of bathroom trips, several coughing fits, and some of the younger people couldn’t help but release agonizing yawns.

After two hours and thirteen minutes, the ordeal was over. Some folks hung around for a little while to express their appreciation, but most scurried out as quickly as possible, hoping and praying that this piece of cinema would never be seen anywhere else.

Matter of fact, on Sunday afternoon, the only people who came out to see the movie were Reverend Meningsbee, four or five close friends and two couples who had been out of town and just drove in, and were unaware of the reviews.

Russ, Tracy and Carl were discouraged. “I guess we’re just boring,” said Russ.

Meningsbee put one arm around Russ, the other around Tracy and drew them in close.

“No,” he said. “And you guys did a great job. Matter of fact, I was pleasantly surprised. Because let’s be honest, it could have been worse. When you put a close-up on our community, it’s like watching pudding cool and thicken. It’s not pretty, it’s not camera worthy, but it’s solid and you can count on it.”

Meningsbee took the three filmmakers out to an early dinner and they sat around and talked about life, dreams and love–and newer and better ways of looking for Eden.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant… September 9th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn Sept 9

Yada, Yada, Yo

Behold the beautiful tree

Was it made for me?

The sky, ever so blue

That was just for you

The fish like to swim

To bring glory to the heavenly Him

And the stars twinkle above

As a tribute to His love

God must love us dear

So calm your aching fear

Yes, we are arrogant asses

Clumped in our selfish masses

Promoting a God to our demand

Enforcing His rules as holy command

To confirm our eternal worth

And espouse a spiritual birth

While ignoring the flourishing flower

We insist we’ve greater power

And shooting the sparrow from the sky

Forgetting the Father counts them on high

While spitting upon our Mother Maker

Failing to be a giver, only a taker

For if God created it all

And we created Eden’s fall

Are we not the planet’s pestilence?

As we persist in our obstinance?

Truly. humility is required of those who rule

Be it God … or any earthly fool.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant… April 8, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn April 7th

I Am Not Sure

I am not sure

Of what is truly pure

I can not attest

To all that is best

I have come to note

Not stand afar and gloat

For there is much to learn

And little time to burn

So what do I need?

Is it seed or weed?

Shall I speak

Or silently seek?

Flash a winning smile

Or refrain from all guile?

I have questions, you see

The answers evade me

For following a star

Doesn’t get me too far

And staring at the sky

Answers where, but not why

Foolishness is the schemer

Patience the redeemer

But why should I wait

For an illusive fate

Yes, now is the season

And presence the reason

Live like a man

Grab what I can

Cast to the earth

Mothered by my girth

But is there divine

In this soul of mine?

Am I a son of Eden

Or a bastard, getting even?

The answers are deep

And much too cheap

To have lasting worth

Or afford a second birth

Yet I will apply

Until at last I die

A ferocious yearning

To everything a turning

And rejoice beyond measure

When I find a hidden treasure.

 

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Populie: People Want to be Free … October 1, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2368)

Freedom's

Freedom is great. A very popular battle cry.

People want to be free. Hold on a second. We just stepped into a populie.

Even though entertainment, politics and religion love to tout the power of a struggle in which someone or some people who are oppressed gain independence from an oppressor, the truth of the matter is, most of the world is not free nor does it desire to be.

Even though since our inception, we evangelistically have preached the gospel of 1776 all over the world, we’ve had few takers.

Cuba, the Philippines, Germany, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq have all felt a push from us to accept our form of government, only, in varying degrees, to opt for their own choice.

I think it’s important to understand what people do want:

1. People want to be free of responsibility.

It’s a garden-variety human error–and when I say “garden,” I mean Eden. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the devil. We’re just repelled by the notion of being held accountable for deeds.

Even though many countries do grumble about the King, the Parliament, the Magistrate or even the Dictator, the structure grants them a scapegoat between reality and their need to change.

2. People want to be rich.

I did not say that people want to work. People want to satisfy the passing whim, which in their minds means having obtuse amounts of cash to throw at the latest fancy. Even if the craving is just their daily bread, they would rather believe that they don’t have to bake it.

3. People want to be free of people.

We have come to the conclusion that the greatest interference in our lives is the competition from other human beings, which tends to split a pot, prohibiting us from becoming rich and independent.

So you can see, the American rendition pontificated by Jefferson by proclaiming, “all men are created equal,” immediately runs into a wall of resistance by those who are running from responsibility, seeking riches and always somewhat angry at their neighbors.

We must be honest, in 1861, we couldn’t get the North and South in America to agree that “people want to be free.”

So is there an answer?

First of all, let me say that I believe the true definition of imperialism is thinking that the joy, peace, contentment and direction you have found in your life can be transferred to other people by forcing them, or even by teaching them.

Frankly, I’m not so sure that we all evolved directly from the monkey–but we do like to ape the success we see, rather than having it legislated for us.

America will eventually have to let the countries of the  world find their own way instead of treating them like errant children who need to be punished.

I don’t mean to burst anyone’s balloon, but people don’t want to be free. So the best thing we can do to help our fellow-men is to:

A. Make things simpler

B. Make things more reasonable

C. And make sure our country, churches and entertainment are less judgmental.

 

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G-42: Preserved … September 19, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Mary after resurrection

The trouble with touting a resurrection is that some folks just don’t believe you’re alive again, another group insists you never died, and a cynical brood sneers and contends you never lived.

So for my great “coming out party,” I chose to make my first human contact with Mary of Magdala. Having been possessed by seven demons, she had absolutely no reason to doubt that I had raised from the dead.

Then I inched my way forward by communing with two guys on the Road to Emmaus.

The third encounter was cooking some fish on the beach with a few disappointed anglers.

Well, anyway, by the end of forty days, a total of five hundred witnesses had eyeballed my reoccurrence.

So now it is time for the Creator to return to the Universe, to creating, and the human race to return to “humaning.”

Go into the world.

Tell them good news.

Let them know I made them.

Let them know I loved the results.

I am with you always.

So I left, entrusting Eden to them once again.

But this time, no forbidden fruit.

No fear of the serpent.

Just a common Holy Spirit to unite us as a family. 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Populie: Lying is Human … September 10, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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two faces

I have had a cold where my nose ran incessantly.

Also, a toothache which persisted until I went to the dentist.

In addition, I have had a bout with diarrhea which perched me on the porcelain all day long.

In each of these cases, I found myself at the mercy of a situation beyond my control. I would characterize that experience as unpleasant. Yet for some reason, in the pursuit of avoiding personal introspection and repentance, we keep unnecessary, nasty vices inside us and rationalize them as part of being a human being.

Lying is one of them.

Even though religion tells us that we’re all basically evil and therefore prone to tell untruths and to deceive, and entertainment finds lying cute–especially between men and women–and politicians revel in the notion that a certain amount of lying is required to push forth the truth, we must comprehend that lying is a conscious decision made by each of us, even though we know the truth is readily available.

Lying is not spontaneous.

Lying is not something that overcomes us.

It is a choice we make–a fork in the road–and each and every time we do it, it is obvious and a spark of conscience flies off inside us, reminding us that what we just said is completely inaccurate.

But you see, here’s the kicker: even though we portray in all of our religion, entertainment and politics that lying is human, none of us will accept it when others lie to us.

We become enraged, self-righteous and swear to never trust them again.

Such hypocrisy.

And if you’re looking for a warning sign to foretell your failure and the demise of your character, hypocrisy is always the chief demon.

So let me tell you three things to help you understand why lying is not human, but rather, one of the more inhuman things we do to one another:

1. Doing what you hate is hating what you’re doing.

I have never known a liar who, in moments of reflection, does not suffer from self-loathing. Because we hate lying, we eventually have to hate ourselves. So all conversations about self-esteem are useless until we cleanse ourselves from the unrighteousness of lying.

2. If words permit lies, people just stop talking.

It’s why married couples stop yapping to each other. Because lies, cheating and missteps have been tolerated in order to maintain an unsettled peace, people stop talking.

3. When we finally accept that lying is a hypocritical option, then we discover that the three statements that slay the dragon of the forked tongue are:

A. “I was wrong.”

B. “I will do this.”

C. “I don’t know.”

When you’re willing to be honest about your mistakes, forthcoming about what you will and won’t do, and completely candid about what you know and what is beyond your comprehension, you become invaluable because people can trust what you say.

Human beings were created in Eden. Liars were kicked out.

While we are concerned about sins of the flesh, the real downfall in the human family is deception in the heart.

Lying is not human. It is a decision by people who could do better to do worse … and be mean to one another.

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

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

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

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