Jesonian … April 14th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3642)

If you are in search of the ultimate right, all you will discover is the ultimate wrong.

Trying to purify humanity into a collected horde, responsive to a single code of behavior, is not only futile, but Jesus declares it fatal.

“Judge not lest ye be judged.”

And Jesus did not leave that statement open for interpretation. He went on to explain that the way we judge–the approach, the intensity, the verbiage, the facial expressions and the incrimination–will be identically applied to how we are evaluated by people and spirits.

This is why Jesus said that he, himself, does not judge. He insisted that he could, and would work very hard to make it just, but it’s absolutely useless.

Here’s why: God does not give the same amount of grace to everybody.

It’s one of the foolish teachings being propagated in the Christian church today. God does not pour out 14.2 ounces of grace for every convert and call it a day.

Some people get more grace.

Some people can do shit that you and I cannot get by with, and receive no judgment from their heavenly Father whatsoever, while there are those who had better not misquote a scripture, or they might be in danger of great tribulation.

For you see, grace is not a gift. It is a heartfelt consideration from a Creator who loves us, who only seeks one fruit from the human race: humility.

You may possess great Bible knowledge, and have never, ever looked at a piece of pornography in your life, but if you try to enforce that conduct on other people, you will be judged harshly merely for missing Sunday School. Grace will only be trickled your way and you will discover that the forces that be, including Mother Nature, resist you.

The deal that Jesus was making with his disciples in Matthew the 7th Chapter, when he told them not to judge, was not a “liberal, devil-may-care, who-has-the-right-to-throw-the-first-stone” proposal.

Rather, it remains the realization that as humans, we are required to exude a humble spirit, or else those around us will plot our destruction.

The Good Book says clearly, “God gives grace to the humble.”

The more we judge, the more we drain our humility.

The more we critique, the less able we are to bow our heads in comprehension of our own weaknesses.

You and I do not have the same amount of grace.

But since in our life span, gracious mercy is needed, our goal should be to stay simple instead of aggravating the journey of those around us.

Our mission?

To discover the many ways that we can remain humble.

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 36) A Rebuking Hour… January 8th, 2017


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3180)

Reverend Meningsbee

About twenty-five miles outside Garsonville, Meningsbee pulled his vehicle onto the side of the road because the tears in his eyes had become so overwhelming that he couldn’t see to drive anymore.

He didn’t know why he was crying.

Certainly there was a lot of incrimination and anguish behind the tears–but something else was emptying his well of discontent. He didn’t know what it was and he didn’t want to think about it–he just wanted to get back to Garsonville.

Home.

Was it home?

Or was it really just a place he had inserted himself to make some theological point? It certainly seemed to have grown beyond that. He had a very tender heart for the people he served.

After a few minutes, some good old-fashioned thinking dried up the gushers in his eyes and he headed toward the parsonage.

He arrived there on Saturday evening, about nine o’clock. There was just enough time to put together some notes for the next day, crawl into bed and collapse from exhaustion.

The next morning, he purposely arrived a little later so he wouldn’t have to field a series of “narthex questions,” leading to stymied silences.

The congregation was already seated and singing “Sweet Hour of Prayer” as he made his way down the aisle to the front, turned and waited for them to finish the beautiful hymn.

He took a pause, not trying to be dramatic, but staring at the people, searching for words. He began.

“Jesus once preached a sermon that was so pungent, pointed, relevant and convicting that the Bible says everybody left. At least five thousand people.

Jesus was saddened. He turned to his disciples and said, ‘Are you going to go away, too?'”

All at once, Meningsbee was interrupted by a woman in her forties, standing to her feet.

“Reverend, my name is Sarah–Sarah Rothchild. I don’t go to this church. I don’t go to any church. But I came here today because this church found a way, through its message and love, to permeate through the doors and windows of my home and reach me–even without my attendance. We haven ‘t left you, sir. There aren’t five thousand disciples marching away, grumbling about your ministry. You keep leaving us. You keep running away. You came here to do something magnificent–different–personal–and dare I say, human. And then because some critics have come along to challenge you, you scurry away like a little spider to quietly spin your web of self-pity. We need you. But most of all, we need you not to run away. I don’t know if I’ll join this church, but I do know this town is better since you came here. And I decided to dress up and join you folks today so I could rebuke you. Isn’t that a Bible word? If it isn’t, it should be. I’m here to rebuke you for being a coward.”

One of the ushers stepped forward with the intention of leading Sarah out of the church. Meningsbee held up a hand, motioning for him sit back down. The pastor turned back to Sarah to listen. Sensing that she was finding disfavor, Sarah became defensive.

“I didn’t come to make trouble. I just believe that the only way you can prove what you say is to stick around after people disagree with you. I think it’s time for you to either pack your bags, leave Garsonville and admit this was just a game to you. Or else hang in here with us and see if we can’t make it through these problems–especially getting out of the condemnation from these horrible shows on TV.”

Sarah looked around the room for some sign of support. Everybody was afraid to move. So she reached down, grabbed her purse, turned around and was ready to dash out of the sanctuary.

Meningsbee stepped forward, stopping her.

“By the way, Sarah, that is officially called a rebuke. And you helped me discover what I was crying about last night as I drove into town. I am a coward. Not something you’re really able to say about yourself, until you hear somebody else accuse you of it. I’m scared. I’m not scared of being wrong. I’m scared of being right…and all alone. So if you’ll forgive me and give me another chance, I would like to try to do better. I would like to try…”

Meningsbee stopped.

He didn’t know what to say and had probably already said too much. He bowed his head.

One after another, the congregation members rose, walked up and gave Meningsbee their rendition of Christian greeting, love and hugs.

The last one to come to him was Sarah, his rebuker. She started to say she was sorry, but before she could speak, Meningsbee erupted with a revival of tears.

He fell on her shoulder and cried like a little boy who had just skinned his knee. She patted his back, weeping along with him. The Garsonville elect stood back and watched, like little children seeing a deer in the forest for the first time.

At length, everybody headed out of the church.

But as the first congregant opened the door, standing there was Kitty, Hapsy’s mom.

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Good News and Better News … February 29th, 2016


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2859)

Good News Moncks Corner

Young lions enjoy the thrill of the kill.

Old lions hunt to eat.

Young fishermen pursue the toss of the sea.

Old fishermen are satisfied with anything they can hook.

I spent an enlightening and enriching morning at Moncks Corner United Methodist Church with Pastor Mike and the eager congregation.

Pastor Mike is an old lion.

Or maybe he’s an old fisherman.

Whichever the case–and for the sake of him not being offended–let me tell you, it’s a good thing.

For in our youth, we chase dreams. As we age, we learn to accept our slice of life.

I have so much fun doing what I do because I do not try to wish for more.

  • Is there anything better than pressing the flesh of strangers and having it turn into fellowship?
  • Could a human be blessed in any greater proportion than to be able to share his heart and have it mean something?

Oh, certainly, I get a variety of responses on any given morning. There’s always a tiny handful who finds my utterances to be inappropriate for such an atmosphere of solemnity. And there are people who notice my girth and find it difficult to get past its weightiness.

But overall, the human race is not possessed with idiots and cynics, but rather, filled with the ranks of those who seem to be aware of the danger of both.

So Pastor Mike has taken his years and avoided idiocy and cynicism, to arrive at a simple path of appreciation for what is set before him.

That’s the good news.

We need such leadership in every aspect of our American culture. We don’t need political candidates who promise us more than we actually deserve. They just need to let us know that even if it gets difficult, it can remain pleasant.

That’s the better news.

For I will tell you–nothing of quality happens without joy.

So the first thing I brought to the folks of Moncks Corner was joy. They’ve had enough sadness, degredation, incrimination, bigotry and despair. If I can’t bring joy, I need to go out, find a comfortable chair and tend my tomato plants.

Once joy is in place, as human beings we are prepared to be motivated to mercy. Our particular species becomes extremely demonic when we remove mercy from the equation. Yet it is difficult to be merciful if you’re not already joyful.

And once you motivate people to mercy, you can welcome peace. Peace is when we understand that the joy in our hearts has instructed us to be merciful, and it certainly is our reasonable service.

So to Pastor Mike and all the beautiful souls of Moncks Corner, I encourage you to begin with joy, motivate mercy … and settle into a glorious peace that passes understanding.

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Getting in Character… August 24th, 2015


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2672)

diane lane unfaithful

From Act II, Scene VII of As You Like It, Shakespeare asserts that “all the world is a stage and all the men and women, merely players.”

To thine own self be true. More words from Bill the Bard.

Without being emotionally truthful to ourselves, we set in motion the seeds of infidelity.

Unfaithful. Promising and then failing to deliver.

And the truth of the matter is, if we’re unfaithful to ourselves, we are certainly determined to be equally as unfair to others.

Even though we criticize this kind of cheating as reckless and uncaring, it seems to permeate the human race like a fungus–or maybe better described as a mold that grows voraciously in a damp environment.

If we’re going to be good actors on the stage of life we have to be able to isolate what makes us unfaithful. The lust to be untrue is not born in our flesh, but in our heart. People who feel cheated, cheat:

  1. I am better than what I have.
  2. I am being ignored
  3. I will force my next opportunity.

When you put these three statements together, or isolate even one of them into a great pool of self-pity, the end result is a disregard for promises and leads to the pursuit of whatever is available on the premises.

Once unfaithful, each one of us is deemed a risk.

As a risk, we tolerate a certain amount of scrutiny but then rebel against the incrimination. This only creates more heart sadness, which leads to greater unfaithfulness.

How can we human beings, who are drawn away by our own lusts, ever learn to gain the predictability that makes us trustworthy to others?

A. Do well.

By the way, that’s your well-doing, not something someone else dug for you. In your present status, what is your “well?”

B. Get better.

You have to be willing to admit that there’s always need for improvement, and such adjustments are made much easier if they happen to be your idea.

C. Stay aware.

Aware of what?

  • Aware of being disgruntled.
  • Aware of being disappointed.
  • Aware of feeling left out.

These are the beginnings of the sorrows of infidelity.

If I am true to myself, I have a chance to be true to you.

But to be true to myself, I have to remove all of the ego props that tell me I should be receiving much more attention.

 

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For Bidding… October 7, 2013


Jonathots Daily Blog

(2029)

jonathotsThe Good Book tain’t good unless it makes good things happen when people are thrown together.

A few days ago, after one of my shows, I was getting ready to pack up my books when a teenage boy inched his way to my side. Apparently he had stood around for a good half-hour while people talked to me, looking for a chance to have a private moment.

He wasted no time.

“There’s a girl I like. How can I ask her out on a date?”

I paused for a moment, trying to make sure I didn’t come across surprised, alarmed OR amused. I guess he chose to ask me the question because he knew I wouldn’t be around tomorrow to tease him about it. Or he thought I might be one of those “cool adults” who would give him a real answer instead of one that’s canned, sealed and labeled “for grown-up consumption.”

My answer was simple. I told the young man to figure out what he liked,  take the things that came to his mind and start doing them for the girl he was interested in.

He thought that was really nifty. (Forgive me. I guess “nifty” is no longer used. Let us just say he was impressed.)

His last words were: “I can do that. Because it’s about me.”

As he raced away, I had to chuckle. You see, all I had given him in the way of advice was a remake on the Golden Rule“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

But you see, it worked, was valuable and was understandable to him because it’s true.

We spend entirely too much time talking about the Good Book as if it’s suspended in mid-air, on gossamer wings, with the supernatural breath of the divine Creator.

Shoot. If it doesn’t work on earth, it sucks.

You see, it’s easy to go from something that is “for bidding” to something that can become “forbidding.”

The gospel that was put together as a means of inviting all of humanity to discover its better side and therefore generate salvation in our souls can just as easily be turned into a message of hatred, prejudice, incrimination and selfishness.

So let me give you a clue:

  • I don’t recommend agnosticism. It turns you into a jaded grouch, critical of human life while devoid of any eternal possibility.
  • I don’t recommend religion. It keeps you panting for heaven while simultaneously missing buckets of opportunity on earth.

Here’s what I’ve discovered: if you find something that works in everyday life, it won’t take you too long to discover that this same idea is in the Good Book.

Don’t try to go to the Good Book to explain everything you see in life. Get rid of your fear of living and in so doing, discover the three or four things that universally work. Then go read your Good Book and be delighted when you find out that God thought it up millions of years ago.

No wonder that book itself tells us that everything written within its pages can be boiled down to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It is “for bidding” others, welcoming them to your life, removing the anger of “forbidding” personal contact.

And when all the chickens come to roost, you find out, like this young man will certainly discover, that the Golden Rule even works with dating.

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