PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 2nd, 2017

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And The Word Became Music

And the word became music

And dwelt among us

We beheld the glory of the story

Harmony came our way

We received it not

But as many as received melody, God gave the power to sing

And the song went forth

We heard the joy of heaven

And the tears of hell

We lifted our voice

With expressive choice

The hum of our hope

The accord of the chord

The rhythm of joy

We may never agree

On all that we see

But the ballad of life

Cuts through all the strife

And for a glorious measure

We blend a musical treasure

For the Word became music

And when it did

We had a shot

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 4)… July 22nd, 2017

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Still a bit troubled.

It’s this whole thing about salvation: “By grace you are saved through faith.”

The Apostle Paul shared this sentiment, and it set in motion the essence of the Protestant movement, so that today we are most concerned about the salvation of the soul.

Meanwhile, the emotions, the mind and the physicality of the church members wane, having no better effect than those in the world.

I suppose a case can be made that once we are eternally rescued and given a place in heaven, temporary years on Earth don’t seem quite as valuable.

Of course, one could have that opinion if one had not read the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus was intent on having God’s will done on Earth as it is in heaven.

He believed in personal responsibility.

He challenged his followers to go the second mile.

He told us that those who have purity of heart– emotional clarity–would see God.

He asked us to think about the world around us and how it works.

And certainly, he challenged us to be born again–not merely accepting the frailties of our genetic code, but rather, setting in motion a transformation which makes us “new creatures.”

The church offers soul salvation and then wonders why many people opt for “off-campus” emotional healing, renewing of their minds and physical exercise with healthy eating.

If salvation is a gift, why are we told to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling?

If salvation is a gift, why did Jesus tell Zacchaeus that he had “achieved” it by giving back the money he had stolen?

Imagine how powerful the Christian church could become if we simply taught that the salvation of our souls is an eternal work, demanding the grace of God to inaugurate our emotional healing, renewing of our minds and enhancement of our DNA.

It is troubling.

It is troubling that the church contains people who are going to heaven … yet having a hell of a time getting there.

 

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Jesonian… January 14th, 2017

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Seven hours and thirteen minutes of sleep.

Three meals–well, kind of.

 

A couple of snacks.

A wash-up–bath or shower–cleaned my teeth.

 

Two good ideas that went bad.

One bad idea that surprisingly became good.

 

Got verbally attacked.

Tempted to retaliate.

 

Ate something that gave me gas.

Oops–diarrhea.

 

Someone betrayed my confidence.

Awaiting a delivery–very late.

 

A headache after lunch. Am I imagining it?

A little sore throat. Probably.

 

An unexplained, very temporary depression.

Inspired by the sight of a beautiful lake.

 

Paid bills. Short on money. Or am I really?

Grateful for opportunity.

 

Birthday for old friend.

Tired as the day goes on.

 

Don’t want to think about tomorrow.

Not supposed to…

 

This is a summary of my day.

Jesus, too.

I’m not saying Jesus had the same day that I did. But somewhere along the line, he had the same elements in his day that I do all the time. You see, God believed He was being very intelligent when He sent Jesus to Earth to be totally human.

We, on the other hand, have spent 2,000 years trying to prove he was perfect, even though we don’t like perfect people–they turn us off.

Perfect people are too damn perfect.

Even though the Bible tells us he was tempted in every way, just like us, touched by our infirmities, and learned obedience through the things he suffered rather than having it absorbed from heaven, we continue to be uncomfortable with the idea that he shared our “goofyness.”

Matter of fact, insisting that Jesus had diarrhea would cause some of the more holy saints to stomp out of the room, considering you a heretic or at least gauche.

But here’s the question: why would we care about anybody who didn’t care enough about us to be one of us?

So we portray Jesus as half-God, half-man, like some sort of Greek mythology, or all-God and all-man.

We lose the effect of the Gospel because we’re afraid to show that Jesus had days just like ours.

If we can’t relate the Gospel to the 21st century, we need to stop expecting 21st century people to find the Gospel relatable.

 

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Ask Jonathots … December 15th, 2016

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Is Jesus really the son of God?

Which must be prefaced by an initial inquiry: is there a God in the first place, who could manifest a son?

Zeus, Jehovah, Allah, Vishnu and many other deities I personally find dissatisfying, if not unnerving. They seem to be divinities who insist we humans use our earthly journey to attain a heavenly destination.

This is where Jesus steps away from the crowd and offers a possibility:

What if God, rather than being Almighty, is a creative Father, who wants us to use the intelligence of heaven to enhance our earthly journey?

All at once, we are presented with a baby born in a barn to a peasant mother and a baffled “daddy figure,” who arrives under the banner of “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”

Most interesting–as a grown man, this baby never abandons the message, even when confronted by the foolishness of religion and the tyranny of Rome.

If there had been no Jesus, would we find ourselves, every December, creating a story to motivate us toward brotherhood?

For instance, in attempting to survive 2016 with all of its selfishness, would we require a one-month reprieve of genuine affection and universal acceptance?

The reason I choose to believe that Jesus is the Son of God is because he taught about a Creator who chose to be a Father, but asks us to submit to the wisdom already placed in Earth by science, and learn how to use these resources to find reasons to establish commonality with all souls.

So I will tell you, if there is a God, Jesus would make a great son.

And if Jesus is the son of God, we have the promise of a Father who is gentle-hearted but also inspires us to respect the Earth. And if we respect the Earth, we are given the promise that God’s will can be done here, even as it is in heaven.

Even one drop of religion added to Jesus turns it into poison.

But when you take away Zeus, Jehovah, Allah and Vishnu from the equation, you discover a benevolent Father who sent His son to teach us the powers of Earth, the glories of kindness and the simplicity of eternity.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … December 3rd, 2016

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Man: I want a woman who’s smart.

 

Woman: Well, I would suggest that you get smarter. Intelligent people tend to find each other. I want a man who’s confident.

 

Man: You’ll need to be careful with that one. Confidence isn’t bragging. It’s a delicate balance between accomplishment and humility. I want a woman who’s sexy.

 

Woman: Well, there are lots of women who need sex–claim to have a yearning for it. But if you’ll allow me to say so, you might look for a woman who wants to have romance solely with you. I, on the other hand, would like a man who’s talented.

 

Man: Well, there’s talent that’s perceived, and talent that has the proof of performance. It’s easy to find a guy who has a guitar and a whole bucket of songs he’s written and is convinced he might have a future. Let’s be honest. If somebody isn’t giving him money for his talent right now, they probably never will. That’s why I would like to have a woman who’s generous.

 

Woman: Now, generosity is a tricky thing. Some people are generous to those they know or to their families, or might even spread it to their friends. But the true spirit of generosity is doing something for someone who has no ability to give it back in your direction. I guess that’s why I yearn for a man who’s spiritual.

 

Man: That can be a trap. There’s a big difference between being religious and being real. True spirituality is realizing there’s nothing in heaven that can’t at least be attempted on Earth. If your man is constantly talking about heaven, faith, prayer and church, he’s letting you know that he has no intention of making God’s will done here on Earth as it is in the sky. Me–I would love to have a woman who’s funny.

 

Woman: Keep in mind, there’s a fine line between silly and humor. And the trouble is, sometimes women who are silly are also air-headed about everything. Here’s how you know a woman is funny. Is she self-deprecating about her own weaknesses without losing a bit of her self-esteem? For me, finding a man who’s kind would be the greatest thing I could achieve.

 

Man: That does sound good, doesn’t it? Except for the fact that some people are kind because they’re afraid of being honest. Kindness has to be borne from a knowledge of the truth, with the addition of mercy. Otherwise you start insisting that everybody in the world is okay, and slam the door on those who might have decided to get better. Let me guess–you’d like a strong man.

 

Woman: Strong worries me. He may be able to lift a box and carry it up to the third floor, but those same muscles could be attached to a bad temper and used against me. I think I would prefer a man who pursues being fearless and uses the strength he’s got to tackle his problems instead of attacking the people he loves.

 

Man: You know what I’m hearing?

 

Woman: What’s that?

 

Man: We’re looking for the same thing in each other.

 

Woman: I guess it’s safe to say, we’re looking for people who realize they’re human beings instead of a penis and a vagina.

 

Man: A little blunt, but I think I agree.

 

Woman: I wasn’t blunt. I was just being strong.

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 23) A Full House … October 2nd, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

The church was full–invaded by human beings of all ages. Two of the older deacons had to remember where the ancient folding chairs had been stocked to be retrieved for sitting possibilities.

The Bachman family had requested that Reverend Meningsbee offer the closing thoughts.

The memorial service began with Alex’s father offering some memories about his son. It was painful. Over and over again, Mr. Bachman had to stop and fight back tears before he could continue sharing about a fishing trip, a crazy journey to Disney World and popcorn-and-movie night with Alex.

The Girls’ Ensemble from the high school sang, “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” careful to change the lyrics when God was mentioned.

There were a couple of poems and a projection on a screen–a collage of visual memories of the young fellow.

Then, when the audience exhausted itself of possibilities, the service was left in the hands of the local parson, to culminate the event and terminate the misery with some sort of inspiration–minus divine content.

Reverend Meningsbee rose to his feet just as a gentleman on the back row suddenly launched into a coughing fit. It was so severe that people had to turn around to make sure he was all right. After his well-being was assured, Meningsbee strolled to the middle of the room, turned and began:

I didn’t know Alex. I wish I had–not just because I can always use another friend, but because I would have something to say about him today. So because I was at a loss for words, two days ago I decided to drive to the school and go down into the furnace room where Alex completed his journey.

I was surprised. First, I was surprised that there were two very long flights of stairs. I thought it was a little odd that they were made of metal. But that’s neither here nor there.

When I finally got into the furnace room, or what I guess you might call the area, I noticed how warm it was. Not hot. Just toasty–makes you want to sit down in the corner with a pillow and go to sleep.

I looked around for a few minutes. You know what I was looking for? I was looking for that pipe where he took his rope, threw it over, put it in a noose, tied it off and ended his life.

It was so peaceful down there. I suppose I could tell you that I felt Alex’s presence in the room, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel anything but machinery at work. It made me think about the note our friend left behind.

“They said it would get better.”

Who’s “they?” Alex didn’t write, “YOU said it would get better.” He wasn’t blaming friends and family. He was talking about “they–them.” Those individuals over there. People who sometimes fail to realize that what may seem to be temporary pain to one person is unbearable agony to another.

“They said things would get better.”

What is better? Gee whiz, I wish we could ask Alex that. Let me do that.

“Alex! What would you consider better? Would better be pressure taken off of you? Bullies leaving you alone? A sense of hope? Maybe just a girl smiling at you. Or maybe girls weren’t the problem. I don’t know.

But better never showed up. How do I know? Alex told me. He said, “They promised it would get better. BUT IT DIDN’T.”

I guess I have to ask myself–and ask you–if Alex was going to be in this room today, sharing a piano piece he had written (by the way, that’s one of the things I learned. He loved to play the piano.) Yes, if he had invited us all to a private concert, would we have packed the joint? Who would have showed up?

Apparently, to get our attention, Alex felt he had to die. That makes me sad. That makes me want to go out and break something. That makes me…well, that makes me want to make sure it never happens again.

I know I was instructed not to mention anything about religion, God or heaven. So I won’t.

But I will close with this thought–it’s a sensation.

Alex might concur.

Because as I climbed back up those metal stairs from the tomb of our loss, I thought to myself, “If there is no God, then we sure as hell need one.”

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Ask Jonathots… September 1st, 2016

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I have a friend who is not a believer. He loves people, is kind-hearted and generous. In other words he acts like a believer who follows Jesus. How can I convince him that Jesus is the way? P.S. I have done my best to “shine my light” before him, but he doesn’t seem to budge.

I assume you’re talking about the standard Plan of Salvation:

God sent His son in the body of Jesus of Nazareth to come to Earth to give himself as a human sacrifice for the sin of mankind, so that if anyone accepts him as Savior, they can be redeemed and guaranteed a home in heaven.

I will tell you that if your aspiration is to see your friend follow this step-by-step procedure to attain eternal security, you probably will be greatly disappointed. The amount of anger, disaster or devastation that comes into one’s life before reaching the “end of the rope” that is required to comply with this particular enacting of salvation is not very common–and not something you would actually wish on your worst enemy.

So let me offer you a different insight.

Your friend has the power of knowing where the switch is, to turn on the lights. That’s pretty special. What he doesn’t have is the awareness of how that light works or what to do if the switch is broken.

Once we understand that God is not only our Father, but is the Creator of Earth, and therefore the Initiator of science, technology, atmosphere and logic, we have a much better comprehension of the mission of Jesus.

Jesus basically grants human beings two things they do not have without him:

  1. Don’t worry about life.
  2. Don’t worry about eternity.

He made it clear that we should not sit around “taking thought” about what we shall eat, drink and wear because it is all built into God’s system if we keep our eyes open and pursue opportunities.

And Jesus made it equally understandable that eternity was prepared for us, and that he would be there to meet us.

The rest of the Gospel is merely explaining how the juice gets to the lightbulb–so just in case our light switch stops working, we can ask the “Master Electrician” to join us in reconnecting.

Is there truth to the Plan of Salvation about a human sacrifice?

When mankind was given the freewill choice of accepting the teachings of Jesus, and rejected, murdering him, God chose to use it as a means of forgiving us for our shortcomings.

Pretty powerful.

So what should your profile be? Make sure that your friend is fully aware that the Creator is also the scientist, philosopher, musician, technologist and free thinker that he requires in his everyday life.

Remember, Jesus wanted to be known for his words.

The religious system honors him for his blood.

But the average person is not nearly as intent on finding a sacrificial lamb as in discovering someone who can understand and show compassion.

Case in point:

When Zacchaeus gave his money back to those he had cheated on taxes, Jesus said, “Salvation has come to your house.”

Zacchaeus didn’t confess, he wasn’t baptized and Jesus had not yet died. But salvation was there because Zacchaeus welcomed the wisdom of awareness and mercy for others.

Stop being in a hurry to get your friend to sign on the dotted line, and instead, give him more “lines” of appreciation to his Creator.

 

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