Reverend Meningsbee (Part 54) Angel Unaware… May 14th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Pas Carl had family all over the world.

That’s what Meningsbee had decided. Matter of fact, it was so comical that he started a list of all the alleged relatives.

There was an aunt who lived in New York City, a great uncle from San Francisco, a third cousin who was a whale hunter in Alaska, a half-brother who lived in Key West, Florida and a godfather who lived in (you guessed it) Rome, Italy.

The most recent surprise was an announcement that an aunt from Houston, Texas, was coming to town and wanted permission to share with the ladies at the church about a program she conducted called “Turning Dreamers into Doers.” Her name was Shannon Tremaine. She was an author.

Pas Carl believed that she and Meningsbee would have a lot to talk about. But Meningsbee was in no mood for additional encounters. The events surrounding Carla’s departure had finished off any remaining pornography in his life, like an atomic bomb landing and obliterating all life in sight. He was definitely not lusting.

But he was also not passionate. He had lost the drive–whatever that truly was. He had tremendous memories of what he wanted to do and even what he could do, with no desire to actually do it anymore.

So he offered no objection to Pas Carl’s aunt coming to share with the women, but let the young man know that he wanted limited involvement. He was resetting his spiritual clock. Even though Carl did not know what that meant, he thanked Meningsbee and left the office.

Meningsbee had gone through this once before in his life, right after Doris died. There are three clocks inside every person, Meningsbee felt. One sets the timing on survival. The second is the world around us, dictating time. But the third is a watch, to let us know when we’re in sync with ourselves and God.

Meningsbee knew very well that the first clock was off. His sense of survival was weak, his passion energy almost nil. And his fight was overshadowed by a specter of fear.

He was going through the motions–on the schedule being dictated to him by friends, the church, the town and circumstances. He was following a time clock instead of following an ideal.

He seemed to be doing it well. People were complimentary. Some folks even noticed that he appeared to be looking healthier. But he had lost his timing with God. The Spirit was still contacting, but he was missing the calls. His mind was drifting when it needed to be focused, and his wishfulness had overtaken his willingness.

He knew the symptoms. He just didn’t know if he could escape the disease. He had barely been able to do it after he lost his love. It took writing his book, “The Jesus Church,” to shake him and wake him up to the greater needs around him.

At that time, he just got tired of seeing sensible people lose out to shouters and detractors. He grew weary of watching the words of Jesus being turned into a cardboard religion, pre-fabricated and lacking its original soul. And he was very, very upset that the younger generation had gained its sense of purpose by denying the purpose they had with their Creator.

“The Jesus Church” pulled him out of his nosedive into oblivion. But by no means was he in the mood to write another book, and he certainly wasn’t going to become youthful and optimistic again.

No, the only way an aging man can continue to believe in faith is to deny many of the realities around him–but rather than making him foolish or ignorant, hope carves off years of scars, leaving fresh skin.

He was in the midst of considering his transformation when he met Shannon Tremaine. She was forty-seven years old. He knew that because it was one of the first things that popped out of her mouth. She could have passed for thirty-five, but she wanted everybody to know that age was insignificant. What mattered was the spark.

She was so well-received at the women’s meeting that they begged her to stay two more weeks and hold seminars. By the end of the two weeks, she had gathered a crowd of nearly a hundred souls from the community, to come and hear her message.

Meningsbee felt compelled to attend one of the sessions to see what was drawing all of these ladies. It was on a Thursday night in the church basement, with almost sixty-five women in attendance, that Pastor Meningsbee sat down and listened for the first time to Shannon Tremaine.

She was passionate. She was emotional. She was driven. She was saucy. She was iron. And simultaneously, she was as soft as cotton. In a moment of time, she unveiled the tenderness she had for each person in the room.

Her message was clear: politics gives you false hope, an education gives you a degree, religion steals your will to excel and your family will limit your possibilities. The only friend you have is truth, and the reason it is known to make you free is because it liberates you from the need to lie.

She went on to explain that the three great lies always began with the same words: (1) I couldn’t because… (2) I am not suited… (3) I don’t have the time.

Shannon electrified the room–a space normally used for potluck dinners and storage. She was not a typical motivational speaker, relying on props, slogans and testimonials to portray her vision. She just spoke it into existence, and her words were so much a part of her that they were believable.

It reminded Meningsbee of the statement in the Good Book, when it says that the people “were astonished” at Jesus because he addressed them “with authority.” Not domineering, just well-traveled.

The end of her meeting that night was almost like a revival. Women came to the front of the room in tears, and departed clapping their hands. She promised a personal word–a mantra of sorts–for each one of them and did not fail to deliver.

At the end, she slowly walked over to Pastor Meningsbee and said, “Even though you did not come up to the front, would you like a personal word also?”

Meningsbee paused. She waited a moment to give him a chance to think, but then inserted, “To delay receiving a blessing is either saying you’re not worthy of it or you don’t want it. Now, which one is it, Richard?”

He was surprised that she used his first name. He liked the way she said it.

“I guess,” he said, “I would have to say that I don’t want to feel unworthy by being offered a blessing.”

She smiled. “My word for you is really easy. The position of savior has already been filled. You may have heard of him. We call him Jesus. At no time have I ever heard him referred to as Richard.”

Meningsbee interrupted her. “I’m not trying to be a savior.”

She interrupted right back. “That’s true. You think you are the savior, and shouldn’t have to try so hard.”

Meningsbee looked her right in the eye and said, “What’s wrong with wanting to save people?”

She stared right back at him. “Because not even Jesus can do that. Jesus said he came. Jesus said he shared. Jesus said he gave. But when he was done coming, sharing and giving, he was hanging on a cross. I wouldn’t call that successful, would you? But fortunately, he went from being a dreamer to a doer, because his resurrection proved his point.

“I don’t know you real well, Richard Meningsbee, but I tell you–you’re dead. And I’ve seen many dead men. And unfortunately, I’ve run across very few who were able to admit it, climb in the tomb for a few days, and get resurrected.”

She looked around the room, realizing that nobody was left, and said, “I guess it’s just us. This is my last night in town. If you’re ever looking for a new dream to do, come to Houston. I can use you.”

She leaned up on her tiptoes and gave him a sweet, tender kiss on the lips. She patted his face and walked away.

Richard stood completely still in the middle of the basement of the Garsonville Community Church, afraid to move.

 

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Jesonian: Content or Context … September 7, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Osteen

Once again, the religious community has blown up over the wording shared by a lady in Houston, Texas, as she attempted to explain how she believed that God “wants us to be happy.”

Was it simplistic? Perhaps.

Was it completely unbiblical? Of course not.

Was it unbalanced? Indeed.

The thing we have to remember about the Bible is that it offers us six thousand years of spiritual evolution, as human beings have come to grips with the heart of our Creator.

We start out in the book unwilling to speak His name, and by the time the volume is finished, we’re calling Him “Daddy.”

So it’s important that we learn the difference between content and context. Fortunately, if we’re willing to accept scriptural inclination, that direction is provided by giving special emphasis and recognition to the words of Jesus.

When we do this, we have an arbiter who literally does fulfill the law and the prophets, as he also teaches us to “render unto Caesar.”

But if you happen to be of a denomination which favors a specific doctrine and searches the Good Book to confirm that contention, then you probably will find yourself at odds with others on occasion and a bit zealous about proving your point.

So in my awkward way, allow me to take a series of the social issues of our day, and rather than addressing them by content, offer you the context I have found based on the inklings, words, personality and mission of Jesus.

1. Abortion.

“Don’t send them away.” Children are the closest thing to heaven that we have on earth.

2. The Internet.

“The light of the body is the eye.” Therefore if you fill your eyes with darkness, you will dicover darkness within.

3. Conflict between men and women.

“In the kingdom of God there is neither male nor female.”

4. Marijuana.

I think Jesus would say he wished we could get high on our own light.

5. Capital punishment.

“Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

6. Poor people.

They aren’t going away. “Do what you can for them.”

7. Culture clash.

God doesn’t have favorites.

8. Facebook.

“Don’t do your deeds to be seen of men.”

9. Homosexuality.

Why are you leading with your sexuality?

10. Guns.

“They that live by them shall die by them.”

11. Pornography.

Lust is emotional adultery.

12. Racism.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

13. Family.

“If you only love those who love you, you’re no better than the heathen.”

There’s my offering.

And when it comes to the issue of happiness, Jesus made it clear that it is primal in God’s mind. The Sermon on the Mount begins with “blessed,” and then it takes the rest of the time to explain our responsibility to ourselves, others and God in a quest to maintain that bliss.

So if we are going to live in a society filled with confusion, we must stop contributing to the baffling conflict and begin to simplify things down to a context which will clarify situations instead of further complicating them with more stipulation, legalism or “popcorn philosophy.”

This is why I use the word “Jesonian.”

It’s an attempt to find abundant life … through discovering the heart of Jesus. 

 

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Scratchy… December 30, 2013

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bridge to Tx

It had been nearly four years since I had been visited by the common curse of a cold. Even though I am around thousands of people who tote germs like little six-year-olds carrying backpacks to the first day of school, I am blessed with an immune system which bunkers me in safely to health.

That is, until I spent four days living in the same house with my children and grandchildren over Christmas. I followed this toxic exposure with a 900-mile drive to Houston, Texas.

So sometime on Thursday, right after I ate my Subway sandwich, the left side of my throat began to itch and tickle, radiating up to my ear.

I knew what this meant. I attempted denial, but when the right side of my throat joined the party, I knew I was in the first throes of incubating a common one.

Here’s the problem: I needed to share on Sunday morning at Bay Harbour United Methodist Church in League City, Texas.

I wanted to do a good job. I know everybody says that, but I like to use my talents at full speed, full throttle and full passion. They are my arsenal–to apologize for a mug that couldn’t win a beauty contest versus a coffee cup.

I was about seventy per cent. So what was I going to do?

Obviously, play to my strengths. For instance, talking is easier than singing.

Also, address the three demons that attempt to invade our foxhole in the midst of battle:

  1. Excuses
  2. Fear
  3. Disappointment

Excuses are the pavement on the road to failure. Fear is the rope that strangles the life out of hope. And disappointment is the drug that puts our effort to sleep.

  • I didn’t make excuses. The audience never knew.
  • I wasn’t afraid. For after all, the worst thing that could happen was that I talked and played the piano, without singing. That’s just not that bad.
  • And I wasn’t disappointed because I got sick. Remembering how mortal we are is what helps us assist other humans.

As it turns out, I had a little more than I thought–maybe 78%.  It was a glorious morning.

I don’t like getting sick. I fight it. But if I’m going to lose my faith, energy and direction every time I sniffle, I will probably not be worth very much and will snuffle out my possibilities.

Excuses, fear and disappointment–they arrive like a scratchy throat, making you believe that they’re here to stay.

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Rear-view Mire … December 26, 2013

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Christmas clan

I spent seventeen days with friends and family in the Nashville, Tennessee, area–the location of one clump of our clan. Everyone else not living in the Volunteer State flew or drove in for the occasion.

It was full of mercy, grace, enlightenment, joy, silliness, overeating and memories.

This morning as I drive down the road toward Houston, Texas, sitting in my van, I look at my rear-view mirror, which grants some reflection. What I mean is, often when we return to gatherings of our kin, there’s a lot of looking in the rear-view mirror, and if we’re not careful, it can become the rear-view mire, bogging us down in too many stories from the past and not enough freshness from the present.

For instance, an old friend showed up last night, who was a close acquaintance back in the early 1990’s, and although we had a great visit, I felt we were struggling to change the frozen past into the warmer and realistic present.

Some people would just say that’s the way life is. I’m not so sure I agree.

So I took those seventeen days to reestablish moments that exist in real-time instead of rehashing details from former occasions. The end result was an emotional, spiritual, mental and physical revelation of one another–mostly good, but a few things demonstrating our differences.

Fortunately, I am not afraid of people having opinions which vary from mine. But I did discover a three-step process I want to apply in all of my situations with human beings:

1. Thaw out the frozen memories.

Give people a chance every day to reestablish a newness of life instead of making them live in a box you’ve constructed for their character.

2. Live in the moment and suck it dry.

I am astounded at how much time we spend complaining about out lot, wasting valuable units of time which could fill us with new spirit. If you regret the past, complain about the present and worry about the future, you leave no space for God to be God and you to be talented.

3. Finally, don’t think about tomorrow.

I’m so happy to report that the future is not yet forged, but is waiting for our free-will choice to set in motion our miracle.

Constantly looking at the rear view of our lives can create a mire of confusion, anger and resentment–not to mention just feeling cheated. Or it can be a time where we spend too much energy celebrating past victories without planning for future escapades.

I love my family so much that I wrap them in elastic, so as they expand, there is plenty of room for them in my life.

  • Thaw out
  • Live in the moment
  • Don’t fret

It’s the way to avoid the rear-view mire: defrost your windshield and keep your eyes on the road.

 

 

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

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After Sunset… March 25, 2013

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A good plan. It is important. Not because it always comes off without a hitch, but a good plan is necessary simply for the reason that nothing in life comes off without a hitch. It’s just too overwhelming to come up with stuff on the spot, while being bombarded with new surprises. That’s why most exasperated people find themselves sighin’ and cryin’. Nothing is going to work out the way we planned it.

I think the majority of the human beings on this planet have come to that realization but some of them have made an incorrect decision concerning that revelation. Why plan in the first place since everything is going to go topsy-turvy now and again?

So this has brought about an atmosphere of demanding “guarantees.” Can you guarantee me this? Will you put a guarantee on that–just in case? Do you promise it’s going to work out that way? And if it doesn’t can we blame you?

I think the healthiest moment of my life was when I realized there ARE no guarantees, and that the pursuit of such a venture is not only presumptuous, but dangerous.

I had a good plan for Sunday, March 24th. And to my surprise, nearly ninety per cent of it came off with no hiccups. It was really quite astounding.

I began my day in Trinity, Texas, with two presentations in front of some of the kindest and loveliest people you’d ever want to meet. Russ and  Carol had apparently sat down at some time or another and realized that the Golden Rule begins by figuring out how you’d like to be treated yourself, and then just Xerox that and present it to your neighbor.

I found a motel room that permitted me a late check-out on Sunday so that I could go back after my morning engagements, eat a bite and rest before driving the two hours down to Houston for my evening encounter. (Of course, this courtesy did come at the price of fifteen extra dollars for my motelier. But I’d already prepared for the fact that favors often demand cash.)

I got to put my feet up–and all the other parts attached–for about an hour before driving down to Sunset United Methodist Church in Houston, with Winston and his blessed cohorts. It was a beautiful journey. I had allotted time for traffic in the big city, because Houston, like any typical American metropolis, will suddenly back up traffic just to intrigue the tourist trade. But there was none on this particular Sunday and I cruised in with time to spare, set up and had an absolutely magnificent visitation with the good folks at Sunset.

It was done, I was done and all that remained was to drive out of Houston, find a motel room, and settle in for the night in a lovely “ker-plop” of exhaustion.

It worked.

But if it hadn’t worked that well yesterday, I was prepared to make some revisions. I think if we’re going to be intelligent, we need to realize that anything short of our murder grants us the brain and will to evolve–because all we want at the end of the day, is to be able to collapse in a chair and speak to the room around us, “It was good to be alive today.”

So remember two important things:

1. Make a plan because you WILL need to change it.

2. There are no guarantees.

If you follow those two simple principles, then after sunset, as the night is falling, peace will settle on your soul.

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Peace with the Pieces… March 10, 2013

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piecesIt was odd.

I was suddenly overwhelmed by the notion of my own inadequacy.

Thinking about the sharing I would be doing tomorrow morning at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, I was confronted with my lacking. I am a bald, aging man with limited mobility, who has suffered–or at least struggled–with obesity all my life.

To say that I feel humbled by the notion of offering exhortation, edification or even insight into the lives of others would be an oversimplification of my vacancy. I don’t know whether anybody is worthy to be a voice crying in the wilderness–especially entrusted with the concept of challenging people to “prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight.”

Somehow or another it seems prudent for me to straighten some of my own paths before instructing others in path-straightening.

But what does that mean? Am I to sit around and wait until I am a worthy representation of goodness in order to praise goodness, point to goodness or even stand in awe of what goodness can do?

I am pieces, trying to make peace with myself.

I am chunks of what could be a whole, but doesn’t really promise to ever coagulate.

I am an incomplete vessel who really has only one responsibility–don’t lie about my insufficiency. Don’t exaggerate my qualification. And don’t pretend to be anything other than the subtotal of my pieces.

When my knees gave out on me late last year, I thought my time  of speaking in front of audiences and pouring out my heart was over. I honestly did not want to be a disgrace to the kingdom of God through my weakness. I was determined to develop an excuse for escaping my continued participation in the unification of the human spirit with the presence of God by pulling up lame–literally.

Maybe it’s just that I felt stupid. Maybe “wheeling” my way in front of an audience to hobble to my keyboard was just a little too much hyperbole of uselessness.

I don’t know. It wasn’t that I wanted to quit. It just seemed that quitting was an honorable thing. Make room for someone who’s more … whole.

And then I remembered the words that God said to Adam in the Garden when his little buddy was hiding among the fig leaves.

“Why are you hiding?”

“I’m hiding because I’m naked,” said Adam.

“Who told you that you were naked?” asked God.

Yes–who told me I was unworthy? Who told me I was weak and beyond redemption? Who told me that it was time to graze in the grass instead of  shepherding people to greener pastures?

I did.

I decided what was righteous.

I decided what was beautiful.

I decided what was marketable.

God hasn’t worked with me for these many years and seen me crash and bounce to the earth to not allow me to continue to speak my mind.

I’m finding ways to be at peace with my pieces. For after all, being complete is over-rated. When we express our weakness, those around us perceive us as stronger by the confession. When we pronounce our strengths, yet obviously sprout flaws, we are only made weaker by our boasting.

I come to you in pieces, trying to find a way to have peace with them.

You can decide … whether it’s worth hearing.

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Two Busy People… March 5, 2013

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black vanOn Mondays, I stop being Batman.

Well, actually, I’m never Batman, but I do use Monday mornings to leave my cave, buy a box of cereal and wash out my super-underwear. I guess what I become is “Bitman“–a bit of this and a bit of that.

Yesterday was no exception. Well, there was ONE unique aspect to it. We were running just a little bit later than usual and had a deadline of 11:30 A. M. for Janet to do a radio interview. So perhaps there was a bit more “hurry” in our steps.

We had finished all of our activities and were heading back to our lodging, deeply engrossed in conversation, feeling pretty good about our progress and enjoying a sunshine-filled day in Houston, Texas. Cruising through a green light at about forty miles per hour, I suddenly viewed a pickup truck, making a right turn on red, completely and totally oblivious to my presence.

Even though it all happened in a split second, I could see inside his cab and realize that he was turned to his right, involved in an animated conversation with a woman next to him. I had no time to think–no time to slam on the brakes. I had to rely completely on reflexes.

But the problem is, reflexes are often hampered by exhaustion, exasperation or especially, the sense of being busy or in a hurry. I took a quick peek in my left mirror and saw that God had granted me a free lane. I swerved into it, barely missing the truck and scooting by him in a breath of time–on down the road.

I do not know if he ever saw me. He obviously was in a hurry and had forgotten to take note of oncoming traffic.He was seconds from being plowed into by a three-ton black van. The situation was out of his control, and his life and vehicle, for that moment, were placed in my hands.

I didn’t honk at him. I didn’t shake my fist. I didn’t stop and ask him why he was so careless. I rolled on.

I was so grateful that I was not on my way to a hospital and thankful that I did not have to call insurance agent and talk about repairs. Mostly, I was glad that God has granted me the serenity and teeny-weeny bit of wisdom to know three important things:

1. Find out what you can do and relax in it. I don’t know why people worry. You can’t do more than you can do anyway, can you?

2. While you’re doing it, stay focused on what you’re doing. Multi-tasking is a great way to plan your own defeat.

3. If you’ve got an extra moment, watch out for the other guy. Maybe he hasn’t learned the first two points. Maybe he deserves a break. Maybe next time … it’ll be you.

So in this world where we all think we’re so busy, let us temporarily escape the mantra of reciting our crowded schedule and remember these three points. It’s so much more relieving.
Actually, it’s a great way to remain accident-free.

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