Catchy (Sitting 46) Liary… April 29th, 2018

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Carlin Canaby was the only son of Joshua and Myrtle Mensterhall, itinerant evangelists who toured the south, holding revival meetings in Southern Baptist churches.

Carlin was born in a tiny town in Mississippi and by the time he was two years old, was singing “Jesus Loves Me” to congregations to help promote his father and mother’s ministry. He was as cute as a button, but became more and more unfastened as he got older, and was privy to the hypocrisy of the whole process.

His mother and father were often cheated out of offerings, as churches insisted there was some errancy in the message which caused them to dock the payment. But more often than not, there was no explanation at all–just a paltry sum handed over after fourteen days of work.

This never seemed to hamper Joshua’s enthusiasm to “preach the Gospel to every living creature.” That is, every living creature unless they were black, Hispanic or involved in some untoward practice viewed as heinous by the religious system he revered.

Carlin’s mother, Myrtle, had the personality you would expect from someone named Myrtle. She was nervous, uptight and deathly afraid of anything that resembled a germy speck of dirt. She played just enough piano to accompany Joshua’s incompetent singing.

The pair had very little appeal, and even though revivals were scheduled to last for two weeks, they were often cut short due to lack of attendance.

Still, everything went along reasonably well, with biscuits, grits and gravy provided by the local churches, until Myrtle became involved with Reverend Rudy. Reverend Rudy was a chunk of a man, with a girlish giggle and a prancy walk. He loved to lean down into the faces of young boys and ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up–with a big whiff of tobacco bouncing from his breath.

Carlin didn’t like him. He especially found him distasteful when he walked into the room and discovered that Reverend Rudy was very interested in his mother’s groin. Rudy pretended to be dabbing off some imaginary coffee which had spilled on her lap, but it was obvious to the thirteen-year-old Carlin that there was more going on south of the border than picking cotton.

Sure enough, 24 hours later, Reverend Rudy and Myrtle announced their intentions to pursue a life together, just as soon as a quick divorce could be acquired from Joshua Mensterhall.

Carlin’s dad was devastated. He had lost a wife, a piano player and an accountant to try to keep the wheels of the Gospel somewhere in the middle of the dirt road.

And even though Joshua was not the unfaithful one, word spread that he was “a divorced man,” so the revivals lined up for the future canceled, one at a time.

Myrtle made it clear that she didn’t want the boy, so Joshua took Carlin, and for a season they were homeless, panhandling and street preaching.

One day an old black gentleman named Carlton Canaby happened by while Joshua was pontificating to passers-by on a particularly difficult passage from Jeremiah. The Negro gentleman asked him what he was trying to accomplish. Matter of fact, they decided to have coffee together, careful not to enter any restaurant, but instead, getting styrofoam cups from the local gas station, and heading for a nearby park.

Joshua poured out his heart to Canaby, who ended up being a reverend himself, with the National Baptist Church. (This was the Negro outgrowth from the Southern Baptist.) Pastor Carlton decided to invite the pale preacher in, to hold a meeting. Even though many of the parishioners at Pastor Canaby’s church objected to a white man preaching–especially one teetering in an adultery situation–the friendly pastor insisted, and Joshua and Carlin were scheduled in for a two-week revival, complete with eats.

Joshua was horrible. Being a white man raised in the south, he thought himself superior to those he was teaching. On the third night, a young man in the congregation rose to his feet, interrupting the sermon time and said, “You don’t know much about colored folks, do you?”

Those in attendance burst into laughter and Joshua stood, red-faced and defensive. Canaby came forward, easing the tension, and said, “Our brother is here to learn, to heal, to grow and to be himself without apology.”

For some reason, this touched the heart of Joshua Mensterhall. He burst into tears and fell on his knees, pleading to the heavens with an anguished cry. The congregation surrounded him and the true revival began.

It lasted for two months, until one night, after the service, Pastor Canaby was abducted by some angry white men in a pick-up truck. They did not approve of mixing races, so they took Canaby into the woods and hung him from a tree. Fortunately for Reverend Canaby, they had twisted the rope too tight around his neck. It caught on his shoulder muscle, which sustained his life until others arrived and cut him down.

But he was never the same. Perhaps it was the lack of oxygen from the hanging, or just a good old-fashioned dose of fear. He retired into his own soul, where he seemed to receive some comfort.

Shortly thereafter, Joshua died.

Carlin was made a ward of a missionary family named Richardson. They were traveling on mission to Equador. Carlin hated every minute of it. He nearly burst in anger, waiting for his eighteenth birthday so he could run away and start his own life.

When he did, he rejected the name “Richardson” and “Mensterhall,” and took on the name “Canaby,” in honor of the brave dark man who had befriended a bewildered white minister and his frustrated son.

Since that time, Carlin had made it his life work to expose hypocrites with his organization, “Liary”–which was defined as finding a way to tell the truth in the most pleasant way possible, without flirting with the lie.

Carlin had recently received a phone call from a notable businessman, asking him to intervene in the Jubal Carlos campaign, to assist by softening some of the blows of disapproval that were coming over assumed scandals.

This is what brought him to the hotel, where he found an extremely defeated Matthew Ransley.

Matthew immediately liked Carlin, but Jubal Carlos was quick to express his disfavor. Jubal didn’t like anything associated with lying–even if it was an attempt to prevent its severity.

Matthew found himself in a war: one in his heart, his soul, his mind and the excesses that were gradually eating away at his body.

He thought to himself, I wonder how Carlin would spin my life? What positive things could he find that would sweeten my tale?

It was obvious there was a transition coming. Would it take them deeper into the discovery of Jesus, or just make them another clever organization with a hint of charlatan?

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 8)… August 19th, 2017

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I am wondering if Christianity can become a mission, cause and lifestyle instead of slinking back into the profile of being “one of the major religions of the world.”

The decision lies around the word “learning.”

For some reason we have taken the simple message of “love your neighbor as yourself” and complicated it with doctrines, forming a morass of misunderstanding.

If we think that faith and hope are even close to charity, we have misconstrued the message of Jesus. Jesus came to turn love into a lifestyle.

He taught in parables whenever he was with the masses, expecting to motivate them to believe for mighty things. Only when the disciples complained about being confused by the stories did Jesus teach them further. His goal was to get these disciples out on the road as quickly as possible, to share their hearts with other people.

Otherwise we have the quandary found in II Timothy 3:7, which describes a church which is “ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” Jesus said his “way is easy and his burden is light” and that the Gospel is so simple that a “wayfaring man” can understand it.

Why do we believe that writing 3,000 new books on church practice will promote revival?

Perhaps I am the hypocrite speaking to the hypocrisy, because I, too, scribe my essays, trying to uncover some hidden meaning.

There is no hidden meaning. Just as we would not hide the groceries from our children to find out how determined they are to avoid starving, God certainly has not withheld peace of mind, contentment and joy from his offspring.

The church spends too much time teaching and not enough time sharing.

That’s troubling.

We keep studying the Old Testament–which really wants to study the New Testament. As Jesus said, Abraham yearned to see the Messiah. Yet we think one more classic tale, another seminar or a sermon series taken from a different angle will suddenly alert the congregation to its true soul.

There are three things that matter. They are what make you a Christian or separate you from the Kingdom of God:

  1. Love your neighbor as yourself.
  2. Don’t judge people.
  3. Multiply your talents.

The pursuit of these three things will keep us busy for a lifetime. Trying to figure out what the Apostle Paul meant or what I Peter was connoting or if Hebrews was really written by Timothy will not make good disciples.

We think interactive church is having people stare at a screen and sing songs. Interactive church is actually when humans offer a testimony, which builds up other brethren to share, embracing and encouraging each other.

It is troubling.

We have become a church of learning instead of a body of sharing. Until that changes … we will be as boring as we seem.

 

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Good News and Better News… April 3rd, 2017

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Perhaps a good definition for foolishness is to pursue an answer which you already have acquired, hoping that this time you will get a different response.

It’s kind of like when religious people ask, “What would Jesus do?”

I guess the concept is that his desires and inclinations may be such a mystery that we need to go to fasting and prayer to attain them.

Actually, all the church would have to do is ask the question, “What did Jesus do?”

It’s not like his life is a secret. He didn’t withhold his preferences from us. And it’s not like he didn’t lay out a road map for both his personality and his heart–whether it was about politics, where Jesus made it clear that he had no preference–any Caesar was as good as any other Caesar. And in the realm of social matters, Jesus was clear about the existence of the natural order, but if that is altered by human free will, we are not to judge others who choose a different path.

Jesus certainly made it clear that women were equals, though his church today continues to forbid them place and purpose.

So I guess we continue to pose “what would Jesus do?” so that we can slam enough scriptures together, out of context, to make it look like Jesus would agree with us.

What Jesus liked was obvious: humility, endurance, personal responsibility, faith, compassion and honesty.

What Jesus did not like was equally as obvious: hypocrisy, pretense, superiority, laziness, prejudice and over-emphasis on family and culture.

We could make great strides in the church if we ceased pretending that we are bewildered about the mind of Christ. Shoot, the Apostle Paul told us that “we have the mind of Christ.”

So why not use it?

Here’s the good news: Jesus is an open book. (Four of them, in fact–Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.)

The better news is that when you study his character, you find out that he offers the only path which leads to peaceful coexistence among human beings.

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Jesonian… February 11th, 2017

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Opening my email, I discovered a message from a young man–a friend of mine–who was applying for a job and wanted to use me as a recommendation.

He had forwarded a list of questions from the company and asked me if I would take the time to fill it out and send it to them.

Here are the questions:

  1. Does he or she work well with others?
  2. Is he or she reliable? (prompt, truthful)
  3. What are his or her special skills?
  4. Does he or she take orders well?
  5. Would you hire him or her?

A fascinating thought came to my mind. Even though I would have absolutely no trouble filling out this form for my dear friend, the question occurred to me–could I recommend Jesus for a job? If these same questions were sent to me in relationship to Jesus of Nazareth, what would my candid answers be?

(It’s part of understanding the Jesonian–rather than forming Jesus into our theological image which matches our doctrines, we instead take him on as he actually came, without being embarrassed by his approaches.)

1. Does he get along well with others?

Jesus seems to do well around people who are real, honest, humble, simple, flexible and aware. On the other hand, when he gets around hypocrisy, dishonesty, arrogance and a controlling spirit, he can go into a tirade. Rumor has it that he once threw things across the room because people misused the purpose of the experience.

So I would say, as long as Jesus of Nazareth is in the presence of those who are not afraid of who they are and not making up a false identity, he is a gentle brother and friend.

2. Is he reliable?

Generally speaking, you can count on him to be where he needs to be. Now, whether you can depend on him to be where you want him to be might be a different question.

Case in point: he was contacted to help a dying friend and delayed four days before going. But amazingly, upon arriving, he solved the problem.

Will he fall into lock-step and do what everybody else down the line is doing?

Probably not. But he will complete the task.

3. What are his special skills?

Jesus always contributes his part while encouraging others to bring their talent and faith, and then blends those efforts to a cooperative conclusion. I would say his special skills lie in his uncanny instinct to discern what is needed and provide it at just the right moment.

4. Does he take orders well?

Jesus is very independent–yet when he realizes that information is being offered to him that is wise, prudent and full of common sense, he marvels at it, gets behind that counsel and follows it. Even though he has great ability to lead, he does it from the perspective of his fellow-workers.

5. Would you hire him?

It depends on what the job is. If I wanted somebody to continue to follow a path which has proven to be unsuccessful, unproductive and without merit, Jesus would not be my choice.

If I wanted someone to patiently point out where things can be improved without throwing any attitude or insisting on his predominance, I could not find anyone to parallel him.

Therefore, in conclusion, Jesus probably could not get a job in mainstream America. We want people to toe the line whether it’s right or wrong.

So I sent off the completed form to the company on behalf of my young companion.

I had to smile–because there should have been a sixth question:

Can he or she be trusted?

On that one, I would say I can trust Jesus…with my life. 

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G-Poppers … August 19th, 2016

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As G-Pop sits down to write one of his children, he is suddenly aware that tears have come to his eyes, threatening to dribble down his cheeks.

He does not know why. Oh, he has some ideas–and in the midst of his own joyful pursuits, there is an aching sadness threatening his sense of well-being.

Yet he feels like an old fool.

Yes, G-Pop thinks if he shares his heart and the ache within, he will be viewed as some relic from the past. But the pain will not go away and his personal convictions persist.

The source of his tears is really simple. G-Pop just wants to know: where are all the good guys? And gals, for that matter?

Where are the people who take it for granted that loving your neighbor is essential instead of merely the duty of monks?

Where are the human beings who value the truth instead of acquiescing to deceit?

Where are the Olympic athletes who feel grateful for the opportunity to train and represent our country instead of tearing apart a bathroom and lying about their ordeal?

Where is a President who feels the confidence to tell his countrymen the complete truth concerning a transaction with Iran, hoping in his heart that they will understand his motivations and the difficulty of his choices?

Where are the people running for President who would rather lose than perpetuate a scandal?

Where is the sense of commonality among brothers and sisters that compels them to respect one another’s rights?

It is a worrisome thing.

It is difficult to live in a day and age when viewing pornography is accepted as a passing fancy instead of a weakness of character.

G-Pop feels ridiculous sprouting tears. He doesn’t want to be considered irrelevant.

But he fears hypocrisy.

For after all, lying is not really accepted. If you lie to your boss, you’ll lose your job. If you lie to a policeman, you’ll get arrested. And if you lie to your spouse about being unfaithful, you can pretty well guarantee a divorce.

Lying is on the march–trying to conquer honesty.

Can we stop it?

Can we find the good guys and gals?

G-Pop wonders.

Maybe it begins by humbly, carefully and faithfully trying to be one yourself.

 

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Ask Jonathots… August 4th, 2016

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Realizing you probably won’t answer me, what are your opinions on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?

They both lie.

Now, there was a time when such an accusation would have been considered mean-spirited. But the media has done a thorough job of convincing us that lying is inevitable. Once we decide it is inevitable, lying gains a certain amount of acceptability.

And because it’s acceptable, no one is particularly shocked anymore that it has ceased to be a vice and instead is considered to just be part of human nature.

Of course, the hypocrisy of such a trend is that none of us want to personally be lied to, and if we are lied to, we become very indignant.

But the reason I began this answer with the statement “both candidates lie” is that once we have grown to accept lying as being protocol, it opens the door to deception. Deception is when lies are manufactured to improve the status of an individual or to attack the opponent. And of course, these do not need to be true, but even worse, they don’t even need to be on point–just malicious.

So Donald says he wants to make America great again. Huge. So great that we’ll get tired of being great. He has no idea how he’s going to achieve this or what obstacles might come forth to block progress.

Hillary claims that she “campaigns in poetry but will govern in prose.” In other words, we’re not exactly sure what we’re going to get, because what she’s telling us will needfully change due to the circumstances of the events.

So my opinion of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is that they’ve both decided to find shade under the media’s coverage of acceptable lying.

So what should you do?

Find something true. Yes, acquire a North Star to your deliberations.

As far as I’m concerned, there are four things that are good about human beings:

1. We learn.

2. We repent.

3. We are generous.

4. We’re happy.

Feel free to disagree, but from my standards, these are the endearing qualities of our species.

I guess in 2016, the best you can do is find which candidate more closely embodies these delightful traits.

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G-Poppers … July 29th, 2016

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G-Pop has to be careful.

There are things he wants to share, but he desperately wants to avoid the possibility of thinking that his ideas are sparkling diamonds, when the younger generation views them as cubic zirconia.

Sometimes though, things are too important to avoid uttering.

After watching the conventions by both American political parties, one abiding realization came to the forefront:

  • Hypocrisy is never attractive.
  • Hypocrisy is never viable.
  • And hypocrisy is eventually exposed and tormented for its stupidity.

If we’re going to move forward as a nation, we have to understand, there is one enduring truth that runs like a golden strain throughout the human experience:

Don’t do what you don’t like.

If you’ve discovered that something is distasteful, don’t think that adopting the same indiscretion into your own actions suddenly purifies it. Even though the Golden Rule is powerful, this “Platinum Rule”–don’t do what you don’t like–procures a needful humility and allows your voice to be heard above the crowd.

Both the Democrats and the Republicans stumble in double-talk. They criticize one another for variations on the same things they, themselves, do.

G-Pop wants his children to know that mistakes are forgivable, but hypocrisy is unpardonable.

So G-Pop says:

1. Always be prepared to fail and change.

Failure is inevitable. Change, on the other hand, is the only thing that you personally control. You can’t stop failure, but you can initiate change, making yourself look ingenious.

2. Have compassion for all people.

The lack of consideration for one group of people immediately opens the door for you to be rejected by those who deem themselves superior.

3. Have a sense of humor about yourself.

Laughing at yourself a lot before you laugh with others a little.

4. Listen to people, especially if they’re smarter than you.

Of course, you would have to admit there are people who are smarter. But before you humiliate yourself and insist that you alone possess all wisdom, be prepared to notice those who’ve accumulated information which you require to do better.

Even though all four of these fall into the realm of common sense, until you make them common practice, you will not be able to achieve the common good.

 

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