1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Magnify Your Character)

1 Thing You Can Do This Week …

(To Magnify Your Character)

William Shakespeare contended that “all the world’s a stage and each one of us, merely players.”

So who are you?

In the world of theater, it is impossible to play too many characters without coming across anemic in the roles. Also, if you establish your character onstage and then drastically revise it, the audience doesn’t buy into your leap.

The one thing you should think about this week to magnify your character is:

Don’t let your problems give you stage directions

Unlike true theater, in everyday life we have a tendency to adjust to the settings, the surroundings, the spotlights, the poor audience reaction or the failure of others around us to remember their lines, and either attempt to revise our dialogue to fit the circumstance or freak out because our the revisions cause us to lose all credibility.

Here is this week’s question: who are you?

And don’t try to tell me that you are a multi-faceted individual with many different layers of being. That’s the best way to describe a liar. Who are you?

Once you find the answer to that, remaining faithful to the role, no matter how the play unfolds in front of you, is how you gain the reputation of being solid and trustworthy– well worth knowing by your peers.

An acquaintance recently asked me, “Who are you?”

I replied, “I am a character addicted to good cheer, so no matter what you hand me, I will do my best to give you back joy.”

The definition of immaturity is feeling the need to change the script simply because there’s been an unforeseen twist in the plot. But in doing so, we sully our character and make ourselves seem unreliable.

Who are you?

Answer that question–and then don’t let your problems or your mishaps give you stage directions.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … April 4th, 2018

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The Jubilee

Cashing in

Stop the buck

Help me win

Wish me luck

Two of a kind

Is easy to find

Believing in three

Can make you free

Life has time and chance

Children with heart join the dance

The music surrounds us every day

A truthful tune can make a way

The troubadour strums the people’s song

The band plays all night long

A rhythm emerges from the blues

As the Psalmist searches for hidden clues

Come hear the sound from all around

The children sing, spirit praise to bring

There is no reason

In any season

To deter the faithful

Or silence the grateful

I play my part

In the symphony

With all my heart

The Jubilee

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … December 31st, 2016

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Woman: Alluring. Yes, I think that’s what she said.

 

Man: What are you talking about?

 

Woman: I was listening to this girl on a talk show say that she felt it was very important to her, as a female, to be alluring.

 

Man: What’s wrong with that? Everyone wants to be attractive.

 

Woman: You see, it’s not the same word. She said “alluring.” You said “attractive.”

 

Man: Aren’t they the same thing?

 

Woman: Not at all. You can be attractive in your own mind’s eye without ever being appealing to anyone else. Alluring is when you visually seduce someone–to want you.

 

Man: That’s a stretch. I want to be considered handsome.

 

Woman: But you see, I need to be pretty. Handsome has a thousand definitions. But pretty has two or three representations.

 

Man: OK. I’ll bite. What are you getting at?

 

Woman: There are different words used to describe the attributes of a woman than those of a man. For instance, men are considered intelligent. But a woman is smart. Intelligence connotes that you’ve studied, worked on something and have used your ability to become well versed on a subject. Smart is more like a fluke. In other words, most women are not very intelligent–but this particular one–she’s smart.

 

Man: I think you’re just being over-sensitive.

 

Woman: How about this? A woman is strong but a man is brave. In other words, here’s a lady who by some miracle has great strength, but this man over here has used his moxy to do some outstanding deed.

 

Man: I suppose you have others?

 

Woman: Yeah. Women are faithful but men are loyal. In other words, is it even possible for a man to be faithful? Or can all a woman expect is a certain degree of loyalty? Let me give you another one. Women are hopeful. Men are positive. Hopeful, maybe. because we have less opportunity? Positive because the ball’s always in your court–it’s just a matter of you keeping the right mindset?

 

Man: Much as I hate to admit it, I do kind of understand what you’re saying. Can I do one? Men are virile. Women are sexy. In other words, as a man, I have a natural animal appeal, whereas a woman has to work really hard to make herself pleasing to the male of the species.

 

Woman: Even the terms “masculine” and “feminine.” Just by the feel of the words, we’re led to believe that masculine portrays great energy and feminine is a position of being more submissive.

 

Man: So what is your point?

 

Woman: My point is that the language works against us. It stacks the deck–making women believe that unless we are alluring we can’t be attractive. In other words, our self-esteem is wrapped up in whether a man has visions of having sex with us. If a woman said that about a man, we’d call her a slut. But men have no problem portraying that a woman needs to be ready to be a lover to be considered viable.

 

Man: Well, how would you change that?

 

Woman: I don’t know, but I think we made a giant step here. You’ve listened to my statements about it without becoming infuriated. That’s pretty special.

 

Man: I understand that. I comprehend the expectations that are placed on me as a male, and also those that are thrust on you as a female.

 

Woman: It’s just that our male-dominated society needs to realize that until things stop being thrust on women, the world will be a little akilter.

 

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Ask Jonathots … November 24th, 2016

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How do you keep politics and religion from ruining a family gathering?

Life is truly about giving–but not merely in the sense of being generous. Rather, it’s about learning early and permanently when to give effort and when to give up.

Giving up can actually be one of the more noble steps of submission to overwhelming evidence. And giving effort is essential to achieve progress.

I bring this up in relationship to your question, because in order to have a good family gathering, you must know when to give effort and when to give up.

First of all, give up on changing people. You can’t, you won’t and you shouldn’t.

If Uncle Fred is a Republican, he will probably leave Thanksgiving evening equally as convinced. If Aunt Margaret is a Democrat, she will likewise ride her donkey out the door. And if any of your relatives claim to be atheists or insist that “all baptism must be by immersion or you’re not saved,” it is always a Godless pursuit to change those who are “all wet.”

So what can you do during a family gathering to be productive, but faithful to your own ideals? There is one simple, easy step:

Never speak in the abstract.

  • Don’t talk about doctrine.
  • Don’t talk about beliefs.
  • Don’t talk about Vladimir Putin.

Talk about your own life–your own goals, your own anecdotes–and in so doing, you gently confirm your beliefs.

In other words, if someone says “the homeless are a blight on the conscience of America,” wait until the conversation changes, and then double back and say, “I was waiting at a light at Wal-Mart, and a fellow was there with a sign, looking for money, so I rolled down my window with two dollars and I gave it to him, and he was so appreciative that it nearly made me cry.”

Then leave it alone.

When it comes to religion, humor is always your best vehicle:

“Well, I was driving down the road and I was nearly out of gas in a country setting and I wasn’t sure I would find a station. So I kept my eyes open, checked my GPS, but also–call me crazy–I said a little prayer. I’m not sure which one worked, or whether they worked together, but three minutes later I was at a gas station getting fueled up.”

Since you can’t change people, give up on that and instead, give effort into what you can change: your attitude toward people.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 29) The Crowd of the Press … November 13th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

On Thursday, shortly before dawn, a crack team of seventeen go-getters–including technicians, make-up artists, investigators, reporters and what they call the “camera darlings” who actually speak on the air–arrived from the USBN, the United States Broadcasting Network.

One of their representatives had come into town two days earlier and spoken to the elders, pastors, school administrators and parents who were chosen to be part of the series proposed about the Garsonville community. Meningsbee was invited, but only stayed long enough at the meeting to lodge his objection, suggesting that a measure of privacy was warranted for the experiences that the town had endured over the past few months.

He was ignored.

The townsfolk could not wait to be inspected by the lenses of the intruding horde from the West Coast. Although Meningsbee refused to be interviewed, Patrick Swanson, who still had his church out at the Holiday Inn Express, was scheduled, as was Sammy Collins, the Bachman family, numerous teenagers from the high school and David’s mother. (She had asked Meningsbee what he thought about the offer to share her story, and even though he discouraged her, she still felt it would be good for some other parent to know the warning signs of a depressed child who was contemplating suicide.)

Patrick Swanson planned on taking full advantage of this publicity, and touted that his congregation was known as Swanson’s Sweethearts.

Sammy Collins got wind of it, and during his interview, shared about their vision of being Collins’ Crusaders.

As the promos began to be aired on the station, the congregation at Meningsbee’s church wondered if it might be a good idea to develop a nickname. Trying to keep from laughing, the Reverend donned a serious expression and replied, “Maybe you folks could be called Mening’s Bee Stingers…”

No one found it humorous. (Often the wit of the pastor escaped the understanding of his faithful.)

Meningsbee stayed out of it, figuring it would only last a few days.  Then a rumor spread through town that the USBN had decided to do a full six weeks worth of broadcasts about burg, based upon the information they had uncovered.

Meningsbee was suspicious.

For you see, there was a time in history when journalism was the reporting of a story, but now, having to fill twenty-four hours of space, journalists were attempting to make things into stories. What were they up to?

A small hint was given when the advertisement for the series was released on air, entitled, “GarSINville … what is happening amidst the corn?”

This obvious slight escaped most of the townspeople.

They were grateful for the attention and hungry to be heard.

They were desperate to feel important.

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An advent calendar of stories, designed to enchant readers of all ages

“Quite literally the best Christmas stories I have ever read.” — Arthur Holland, Shelby, North Carolina

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 26) A Psalm of David … and Jack – October 23rd, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

David was one of the young host who invaded the Garsonville Church, sitting near the front altar on a vigil for a lost friend.

After that eventful Sunday, he and two other members of the high school started to attend.

He was what nicer Nebraskans refered to as a “soft boy.” He seemed to favor activities with less dirt and muscle. Now, the more aggressive Nebraskans, many attending his school. called him a queer–a fag.

David didn’t argue–just adopted many of the mannerisms and catch phrases of the gay community, not necessarily because he was born with that sensibility, but because he was only fifteen years old and welcomed any identity.

David immediately found a place for himself in the body of believers. He made it his mission to ensure that every Sunday morning, the holy foyer was filled with art–paintings, as it were–some masterful knockoffs and others done by the third grade class from the Wintermute Elementary School.

His displays played to mixed reviews among the congregation. Some of the pew-sitters felt it was inappropriate, and others actually joined in and brought some of their own made-up drawings.

David was faithful.

David was searching.

David was a sponge looking for a wet spot.

Jack was an adorable alcoholic. That’s what his family called him. He was one of those drinkers that got happier the more the liquor moved toward his liver.

And move it did–so much so that during one binge of whiskey and gin, he was rushed to the hospital with alcohol poisoning, and after many tests they discovered he was in the midst of liver failure and in need of a transplant.

This seemed to scare the hell out of Jack, leaving a hole ready for Jesus, so Meningsbee was called to come and witness to the once happy-go-lucky town drunk.

Meningsbee didn’t say much of anything; actually, Jack did the talking. And like many sinners who are eventually saved by grace, hearing his own story out loud, for perhaps the first time, sent him into a fit of weeping and a season of repenting.

Jack was born again in Room 315 of the Garsonville Community Hospital, with tubes poking out of almost every orifice on his body.

Jack never got strong enough to attend church. He was given the good news that there was a liver available for him, and before he knew it, was on the operating table, praying for a fresh start.

These two souls of God, David and Jack, collided one night in the same hospital at the same time, in similar conditions.

David arrived because he had been invited to a party, and in a moment of weakness, trying to make friends, overdosed on a cocktail of drugs which had been tossed into a punchbowl and dissolved, for the consumption of teenage fools.

His heart stopped three times on the way to the hospital and he was now on life support.

Jack’s operation was successful, but he fell victim to a serious and potentially lethal infection, which had him back on the table, doctors desperately trying to save his life.

Meningsbee sat in the waiting room on a hard, yellow, plastic chair, purchased during the Eisenhower Administration.

Both families, empty of words, had taken their leave and gone to the chapel to pray.

Meningsbee was alone with his thoughts. It was always on such occasions that he wondered if there really was a supernatural order directing a plan.

Was God really in the room with His angels, watching over the frail forms of David and Jack?

Had the Angel of Death arrived along with the Angel of Mercy, to take them home?

Or was it all just some sort of collage of grace, medical technology and just pure dumb luck determining the outcome?

Meningsbee found contentment that there was no answer. Just as an ant never discovers what is beyond its own hill, human beings likewise have much freedom but little insight.

The hours passed. It was touch and go.

At first they thought David still had good brain function and feared that Jack had lost too much blood to survive the repair.

The night wound on.

Five minutes after all the prayer warriors discovered that Jack had pulled through and was going to barely make it, they were told by the doctors that David had been assessed as brain-dead.

Two families stood side-by-side, digesting different news.

Jack’s family was careful not to express too much elation and relief, knowing that David’s mother and father were on the verge of collapse. Lacking words, fatigued by prayer, hampered by doubt and in the human state of confusion, they simply turned to one another and embraced.

David’s mom and dad made the agonizing decision to pull the plug and let him go home. He lived for ten minutes.

Reverend Meningsbee had one last prayer.

He hoped David would be granted a great space in the foyer of heaven…to display his art.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 3) Go Before You Come … May 15th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

Monday, between 10:00 A. M. and 2:00 P. M., twenty-three calls came into the Garsonville church.

Two were positive.

The other twenty-one fell into three categories:

  1. “Our family has sat on that same pew for three generations.”
  2. “I don’t think it’s good for us to sit so close together, especially during flu season.”
  3. “It’s a free country. No one’s gonna tell me where I can sit.”

So it was no big surprise when the next Sunday rolled around and fifteen less faithful attended the worship service.

Once again, they were handed a half-sheet as a bulletin, and the information was much the same, except that this week’s thought was taken from Matthew the 5th Chapter, verses 23-24.

After the requested hymn, “Stand Up for Jesus,” was sung, the pastor pulled up a chair, sat down, and addressed the congregated.

“Thank you all for being here. Thank you all for being faithful. Thank you all for remaining close. God wants His house full. From where we’re sitting, it looks pretty stuffed. There’s plenty of room to the rear, but that is a matter for the leading of the Spirit and time.

But the next thing that makes us a ‘Jesus church’ is found in Matthew 5:23-24.

We have to stop believing that coming here is about worshipping God instead of honoring God by how we fellowship, enjoy each other and how we treat our brothers and sisters.

In this little piece from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes a very simple point. He says don’t smugly come to church if you know there’s somebody who’s angry with you.

He doesn’t say it’s about us being angry with them. But sometimes other folks get mad at us. We don’t always understand why, so we hope it blows over, or even pray that they’ll grow up.

Church is not about God. It’s about people.

So in a few moments we’re going to have a season of silence with our heads bowed. I want you to do something for me–actually, for yourself. If you know there’s somebody who’s upset with you or if you have an unresolved conflict, or you’ve heard that someone is offended, I want you to get up from your seat, and before you go home, stop off, see them and make your peace, so when you come back here next week you will be reconciled with them and you’ll have a great story to share.”

It would be difficult to describe the collective expression on the faces of the gathered. Although they comprehended Meningsbee’s message, application seemed a little awkward, or maybe even intrusive.

Yet when silence ensued and heads were bowed, twelve people rose to their feet and departed the sanctuary to find the soul that was miffed.

When the rest of the folks opened their eyes, Reverend Meningsbee asked if anyone had a testimony of how reconciliation had already been achieved.

There were four shining examples, a closing prayer, and everyone was on their way.

Although it was a very tiny group that still remained, there was a warmth, gentleness and simplicity in the hearts of each one–with a tear or two in view.

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