Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 28) He That Has An Ear … November 6th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

Little Hector McDougal was just fifteen days old when his mama and papa, Jessie and Marty, brought him to the Garsonville Church for an official baptism. The parents were so grateful for little Hector that they could not wait to see him sanctified in all the right spots.

Yet there was some sadness mingled in with their joy. Although Hector was born with all of his digits in place, immediately after his arrival he developed a severe bacterial infection in both of his ears, which left him deaf. No one was sure if it would be permanent, but the hospital certainly wasn’t prepared to offer much hope.

So even though Jessie and Marty had a baby, they had resigned themselves to the fact that he would never be able to hear the praises they so wished to heap upon his ears.

Now, Reverend Meningsbee was not very experienced at baptisms, so he had reviewed the liturgy and pageantry feverishly. He even bought himself a bright-colored tie with Mickey and Minnie Mouse on it, having read somewhere that children were nearly hypnotized by the bright colors.

So you can imagine how surprised the pastor was when he dipped his fingers in the water, placed it on the baby’s head, and the child began to scream and holler like a wounded animal. Everybody immediately turned and stared at the preacher, wondering if he had somehow pinched, shocked, poked, stabbed or wounded the hapless repenter.

Meningsbee just stepped back in horror.

The baby continued to scream with hellish decibels–so much so that Mama felt it necessary to hurriedly leave the sanctuary to tend to her little one. Daddy trailed behind, holding a blanket in one hand and a pacifier in the other.

This left Meningsbee standing there in his Looney Tunes tie, sheepishly looking at the congregation, feeling like he had hexed the young fella.

The screaming continued.

Attempting to be clever, Meningsbee suggested that the gathered sing “Brahms’ Lullaby,” only to realize that nobody knew the words. A nervous, tenuous, but meaningful humming ensued. It did not calm the raging storm which had burst across the brow of Hector McDougal.

As a precaution, a decision was made to rush the little one to the hospital to see if the medical field could somehow remove the screaming curse.

Needless to say, the morning’s worship service was shortened–and considerably less appreciated by the folks who had hoped that their minister would be much more successful on his christening journey.

Stranger still, four hours later the phone rang at Meningsbee’s house and Jessie McDougal, with motherly tears, explained that the little boy had been squalling because he could hear. Apparently it was quite a surprise to him, and set off the onslaught of his throat alarm.

Yes–after testing Hector, the doctors found there was a healing, and he was now able to hear just as well as any other fifteen-day-old infant.

The news spread quickly.

It became known as “the miracle baptism.” Matter of fact, three days later at the Wednesday night “Stay and Pray” service, many of the congregational members contended it was God speaking to the church–to become an international center of healing. They suggested that the whole outreach of the Garsonville Church should be using the sacraments of baptism and communion as vehicles for God to intervene–healing the sick and maybe even raising the dead.

After all, they explained, Meningsbee wanted it to be a Jesus church–and what could be more like Jesus than a “hallelujah healing?”

Meningsbee did not know what to say. He was not sure how they came up with such a conclusion based on Hector’s experience, but he also did not want to dampen their hopes and dreams.

“Folks, it could be that what happened to Hector was meant for Hector and Hector alone. Just his personal piece of God.”

Everyone was baffled at Meningsbee’s ignorance. Certainly God would not give his grace to one poor little boy, and not intend it to be offered to the masses.

Meningsbee persisted.

“I’m just saying, maybe it’s not like Coca-Cola, to be bottled up and served over the counter to anyone with a dollar-fifty who needs a magical elixir…”

No one was listening. Meningsbee was not shouted down. It was worse. He was ignored.

Complicating matters, a news organization–one of them with all the letters in its name–called and wanted to come and do an interview with the church folk, pastor, mayor, city elders and even teenagers, to discuss the strange and bizarre happenings in Garsonville, Nebraska. You see, they deemed that with all the church splits, a suicide, drug overdose and now deaf ears being opened, it was quite a feature story, and the news division felt they could market it pretty well to their listening audience.

Reverend Meningsbee was against it. But the church council saw it as a wonderful chance to share the faith and vision, and show people on the West and East Coast that God truly did favor the prairie.

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Cracked 5 … May 10th, 2016

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cracked 5 logo keeper with border

Ways to Avoid Getting a Speeding Ticket

A. Don’t speed.

Yes, but it is the vanilla selection in a Baskin-Robbins of citation snippers.

 

B. Drive drunk.

A bold choice, “Bomberinski!” Considering the possibilities of death by car and vehicular homicide, it just might draw attention away from your zooming, with a DUI, which certainly is hysterically historical.

 

C. The old “speed blabber.”

When detained by Patrolman Bob, start babbling incoherently about racing off to save baby seals in the Gulf of Wikiwonton. You will spend some time in the “Crazy Box”–but no speeding ticket.

 

D. Speed of light.

Coppy can’t fine what coppy can’t catch. Baby, the Force is you.

 

E. Flashback.

Tell the Smokey that last year, your wife had a baby on this very freeway, and you were too slow to get to the hospital. Today as you were driving, it was like it was happening again. (Begin pounding the steering wheel.) “I was there, man. Do you feel me?? I was there!”

cracked 5 baby seal

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Good News and Better News … May 2nd, 2016

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Konnoak Hills UMC Good News

Our clothes get dirty.

When this happens, we check our GPS and head off toward a local laundromat.

It is always an adventure–we certainly encounter some intriguing human beings.

Jan met a woman who was frail, lying on a bench, who told her that she had spent the night in a hospital ward, taking chemotherapy. She explained that she needed to eat something but was not really hungry.

Jan pressed the point and offered to buy her a meal. The lady described in detail a certain entrée just down the road at Bojangles that she might be able to choke down–mentioning that she would want the selection with extra hot sauce.

So Jan and I trekked to Bojangles to procure the treat.

Why? Did we do it because we thought the woman was in need of nourishment? Were we convinced that this little action of mercy was a way to convey love and affection to this frail child of God?

Absolutely not. We did it for us. For after all, to do anything else makes you feel like crap.

Let’s understand something–people who are lost are horrible.

That’s why they’re lost. They’re not “partly good and partly bad.” They aren’t following five of the Ten Commandments. They are often selfish, liars and wiling to do almost anything to get their way.

The truth is, you have a choice in life: you can work or you can con. If you don’t want to work, you’ll probably end up conning.

Anyway, back to the story: we brought the chicken, gave it to the lady and left her alone to enjoy her delicacy. A few minutes later she was gone. (I asked Jan to do a sketch of her just so we would have the memory. See below.)

We have to remember what the purpose is for hope, faith and love.

We’re not hoping the world becomes a better place, that our faith will produce miracles, or love will change the planet.

Hope, faith and love abide. That’s what the Good Book says. They abide because they really don’t solve problems–they just prevent us from becoming part of the mess.

Hope gives me the confidence to get up every morning thinking I can actually accomplish my mission.

Faith embraces me with the belief that I am not alone–what I do and say matters.

And love is my doorway to escape hate because hate sucks.

When I went to the church on Sunday morning–Konnoak Hills United Methodist in Winston-Salem, North Carolina–this was fresh on my mind.

Such beautiful people with wonderful stories, who are constantly being bombarded with the concept that the world is changing at a breakneck pace, so they’d better grab onto the caboose or be left at the station.

Hogwash.

Right now in our country, “crazy” thinks it is the boss. It’s time for us to rise up and share the good news:

  • Shouting is loud, not smart.
  • Popular is advertised, not quality.
  • Anger is mean, not strong.
  • Cynical is frustrated, not clever.
  • And atheism is the absence of hope, not evidence of intellect.

I gave my faith, hope and love to the folks yesterday morning at Konnoak Hills. That’s the good news.

The better news is that I hope they’re smart enough to realize that the lost we are trying to reach can never be virtuous enough to please us.

It’s up to us to bring the heart, soul and patience to the matter.

 

Good News Winston Salem

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Untotaled: Stepping 45 (November ?, 1968) Cobalt … December 13, 2014

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(Transcript)

I don’t remember the exact day.

I recall it was cold and November, which is standard fare in Ohio.

My parents had taken a trip to Columbus and my mother returned late that evening, without my father in tow. I didn’t think much about it. I was nearly seventeen years old and preoccupied with the status of my burgeoning sideburns.

She was sullen–my mother, that is. This was not unusual. She was given to fits of extremes, and I was fully aware that when she was in this condition, to stay clear–for everything about me was a potential object for attack.

I hid out in my room, and then heard a knock on my door. It was her.

She came in and sat down with tears in her eyes. She told me that “Daddy” was in Columbus in the hospital, diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I never called him “Daddy.”

It was a strange sensation. I knew I was supposed to feel something. i really wanted to, and was aware that she expected me to, so I mustered some emotion.

I told her I wanted to be alone, and she complied.

When the door was closed I turned off the light, laid down on my bed and thought about the man who was my father.

We had never been close.

He was forty-eight years old when I was born so I am sure it was a little awkward for him to have a toddler, and finally a teen, jostling about the house.

He was a stoic man, not free with his feelings, leaving you wondering half the time if he had fondness in your direction whatsoever.

But now he was sick. That makes a difference, you know.

Two days later he returned from the hospital.

We were told he would begin cobalt radiation treatments the next week. He tried to smile and muster a brave profile but I could tell he was terrified, and once the treatments began it was even worse.

At that point in medical research, therapy was more or less an attempt to scorch the cancer, thus literally burning up the flesh around it. Cobalt.

He was red and swollen, but still desperately tried to connect with me to make amends for years of uncomfortable silence.

I was a jerk. I repelled him.

I was a teenager, and it was required of me to have a bit of aversion toward my father figure, but he really needed me to be more forgiving. I did not possess the capacity.

Christmas was sparse that year.

The nutcracker was down.

It was difficult to get our minds on “Joy to the World” when Dad was suffering and dying.

 

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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

 

Enlightened … October 25, 2013

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child-prayingThere may be nothing more pitiful than a believer who has ceased to have faith in the power of prayer, yet continues to mumble the words,  fearing sacrilege.

Even though churches continue to host seminars on the precepts of prayer, thinking they will unlock some magical formula, the true essence of communicating with the Father as a child is to be forthcoming, and to make sure you arrive at the meeting with all your chores completed.

Did you follow that?

If you will allow me to continue my story concerning arriving at the end of our year in solvency, you will agree with me that being darkened, or cynical, about our problems, is not only useless, but veers toward destruction.

So being practical–counting the cost, finding out how we can contend, having all the ends meet, and controlling as many factors as we can–is ALWAYS the preamble to prayer. After all, any child in a household who shows up asking for more, having not completed the agreed-upon household activities, is certainly headed for a rebuff.

You can’t remove the practical and think you’re going to arrive at the spiritual.

You can’t be Andrew, from the Good Book, asking Jesus to feed the five thousand, without letting him know there are five loaves and two fishes available.

After we finish the practical aspects of counting, contending and controlling, we are ready to have a great one-on-one with our Father in heaven and boldly enter His presence–because we KNOW we have done all we know to do and we can stand.

Then prayer works.

About three years ago I realized that telling people I was going to pray for them without  doing something to assist, was worthless. Even if it was just an encouraging email, a few dollars sent their way, or linking up other people to help them, prayer works best when people have let God know they are invested by offering what their possessions and talents.

Why would God want to invest in a project that we’ve decided is not worth our own time and effort?

Sometimes, for me, it can be hearing about someone who has a brain tumor and putting myself back in a hospital room so many years ago, recalling the sensations of fear that flooded my soul.

It is my investment. So then, when I pray, I am merely trying to get God to follow up on my backing.

It creates a sensation of being enlightened.

I would describe that jubilant revelation as the result of a four-step process:

1. I refuse to focus on the problems and become cynical.

2. I have become practical by counting the cost, deciding how I will contend and taking control where necessary.

3. I am satisfied that my contribution is complete, yet I find there is still a need.

4. I rejoice that I can solicit God to come in to the project and cover the need that is beyond my scope.

There it is.

I feel a great confidence that our traveling team will end this year in total victory. Avoiding the darkened countenance of cynicism while applying the practical of what we have available, we can come with assurance to our heavenly Father and ask Him to contribute.

It’s a great way to live.

The best way to become an agnostic is to pray thinking that God manipulates everything. You will soon become a liar who pretends to be faithful–or you will walk away from your belief because you childishly thought that your Daddy should take care of everything while you watched.

Prayer is powerful because it asks God to believe in what we have already decided to pursue.

Make up your mind:

  • you can follow the world and be darkened and cynical.
  • Or you can apply the practical, which is necessary to fulfill the natural order in which you live.

Having completed that task, you can become enlightened by including your Father in everything you do.

I am confident–not because I’m a religious man, but because I have escaped religion and have begun to move out in everyday workable faith.

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Mount Vernon … September 21, 2013

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Mount VernonI suppose, to the average person, the mention of Mount Vernon might conjure a hazy memory of an American history class, where the name was mentioned as the location of the home of General George Washington. Even though I, too, have that realization, to me, it was a community twenty-three miles north of my boyhood home town.

As I rolled in to Mount Vernon today, I was astounded at how much living, doing and feeling I had birthed in that space:

When I was twelve years old, we had a Bible League contest in the town, with teams from all over the Central Ohio area gathered to push buttons and light up bulbs, answering questions about Holy Scripture. We had studied every jot and tittle, and split the information apart like atoms to compete with one another for points, prizes or just the privilege of partaking of some overly sweet church punch and dried-out cake. All in all, it was a great way to consider the musings of ancient patriarchs without dozing off in the process.

Mount Vernon was also one of the first places that I promoted my own gospel sing, consisting of my group along with some others, in the Memorial Auditorium. I actually saw people arrive in cars, park them and gather to hear us all squawk and wail.

Just outside of town, in the early seventies, I got the chance to perform for the first time with a fellow named Andre Crouch, who had a group called the Disciples at the Bible College, in front of a good-sized crowd of local folks who certainly didn’t come out to see us, but tolerated what was supposed to be our fifteen-minute fronting of the main event. As I discovered that night, and also from working with Andre Crouch in the future, he was never on time, so our mini-concert turned into a forty-five-minute show, which was certainly a problem, especially considering that fact that we only knew six songs.

Mount Vernon was also the location where in my early years, when I was destitute financially, some of the local quartets gave me a dribble of money to arrange music for them, to try to make them sound a little better in front of the small congregations they were able to schedule to hear their efforts.

And last but not least, my third son, Jerrod Micah, was born in Mount Vernon–about two minutes after I walked in the door of the hospital, rushing to get there to see his arrival. (My wife never seemed to have much trouble with labor. I guess some women would insist she never went through it–more like calisthenics.)

I was nearly in awe of all the memories that just splashed in my face as I drove down the main street of the metropolis. And to think, blessed man that I am, now in my sixth decade, I get to go to Mulberry Street United Methodist Church and make another memory, tomorrow morning and night, adding a new page to my dusty catalogue of memorabilia.

Life is wonderful if you don’t get fussy.

And if you do get fussy, life is still willing to be wonderful … if you just don’t give up on a good idea.

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Well… March 17, 2013

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It was June 1995.

I got really sick. I didn’t know how to “do” sick. I had never been sick. I had the occasional colds, flu and some bad Chinese food that ran through me quicker than Genghis Khan‘s army, but I had never been check-in-the-hospital sick.

Although I never believed in macho, I certainly strove for strong. I needed to be strong. I liked to be the guy who picked up equipment and carried it in the door, sweating profusely and panting to the inspiration of surrounding admirers. I liked playing tennis on a 100-degree day in Shreveport, Louisiana, drenching my clothes with perspiration as people walked by shaking their heads in disbelief that anyone would be outside doing anything but trying to breathe.

It wasn’t an issue of pride–or maybe it WAS an issue of pride, but I was too prideful to see it. I don’t know.

Suddenly I was sick. Not only sick, but the doctor informed me I had diabetes. In the brief time I had known this gentleman–my caregiver–we had struck up a friendship. So when he came in to talk to me about the disease, he looked like he had been sucking on lemons for a week or had just attended a foreign film. He told me that diabetes was serious, that it would be with me all my life–certainly with me when I died.

It was depressing.

So on October 8th of last year, when my legs disappeared overnight, replaced by the lower limbs of a 92-year-old nursing home patient, I was torn between sensations of gratitude that it was just my legs and not a stroke or heart attack, and feeling cheated of the ability to lift heavy burdens and sweat like a pig.

It got me to thinking about the word well. I was always thrilled at the prospect of feeling well–I liked it.

And tonight when I went to the United Methodist Church in Lumberton, Texas, to set up, and I needed to climb into a wheel chair to make it into the building to do my sound check, I temporarily felt robbed of the sensation of wellness. Yes, I wanted to feel sorry for myself.

There was this wonderful gentleman, about my age, who helped us carry in the equipment. He was so strong and capable, and here I was, wheeling my way around from place to place. But as I took a moment in the lobby of the church to reflect before I went up to check out the sound in the room, I considered that there are two ways to be well: you can FEEL well and you can DO well.

And even though physically I am still pretty fit and healthy, the ability to impress with my stride, strength and the sheer sense of muscular prowess is not in my grasp. But God has still given me the blessing of DOING well.

I have not lost my mind (unless you want to include sharing so candidly in an essay openly and publicly on the Internet). I have not lost my talent, such as it is. I have not lost my anointing and the touch of God on my life.

I asked myself in that lobby tonight, can I be happy doing well without feeling well?

I wheeled myself up the ramp onto the stage to practice my latest song. I don’t need an answer–just enough life to give me opportunity.

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