Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 31) Seek and Ye Go Blind … November 27th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog


Reverend Meningsbee

Reverend Richard Meningsbee searched for an hour for a computer he knew was gone.

It was impossible it could be any other place than where it had been left, but to fulfill righteousness and drain off some angst, he scoured the house.

It was nowhere to be found.

He spent the rest of the day, when he should have been preparing his Sunday morning sermon, conjuring images of what might have happened to his P.C.

Was Katrina involved?

Was it stolen by an agent of the USBN?

And more frightening was considering what they wanted.

Ninety-nine percent of what he had on that magical box was common drivel or ecclesiastical notes. It was that one percent that terrified him–and each new flashback was more injurious to his mind than the previous.

Surviving a restless night, he made his way to church, and decided that the only way to cleanse his soul of the pain and anxiety was to share–not in detail, but in principle.

So he stepped in front of the congregation and began.

“I feel attacked. Do you ever feel attacked? In my case, I feel attacked by circumstances–just the everyday happenings that seem to have suddenly decided to target me and take me down. This attack is causing me to worry. Like most human beings, I worry about the future. What will this attack mean going forward? Can I overcome my circumstances and achieve some form of victory–or at least draw a stalemate with the evil that taunts me? And most certainly, I feel betrayed. Not so much by others, but betrayed by my own weakness–a hounding dog barking at my heels, reminding me that I am insufficient. So I come before you this morning attacked, worried and betrayed.

Yet in the midst of all this is an abiding faith which says ‘nothing can separate me from the love of God’ and that ‘all things will work together for my good.’

I must be honest with you. Those voices are softer and gentler than the screaming attack of the worried betrayal. But if I get quiet and still, I can hear the whisper of faith. So that is what I am going to do right now. I’m going to stop speaking and just allow myself to listen as I kneel.”

Meningsbee walked to the altar rail, which had basically become a decoration in the modern-day church–a reminder of past revivals, when people allowed themselves to be overtaken by the goodness of God.

He knelt and prayed.

He prayed about his computer.

He prayed about the hidden iniquity displayed on the browser.

He prayed to be forgiven for his weakness.

So intently did he pray that he failed to recognize that he was suddenly surrounded by nearly all the congregation, as they, too, gathered to admit the attack had brought worry and betrayal to their lives.

God had taken the evil that had befallen the community and was now using it to make good.

It was a warm, kind, tear-filled morning that culminated with everyone embracing and encouraging one another.

Reverend Meningsbee was heartened by the experience, but still in the throes of a deep depression as he made his way home.

Stepping inside, he opened the door and gazed into his little office–and there it was.

The computer was back.

“Where have you been, my friend?”

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Peace with the Pieces… March 10, 2013


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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Frontwards and Backwards… October 22, 2012


Live from October 1st filming

It appears to be the new definition of “cool.”

Especially among the younger generation, the profile of maintaining a certain level of agnosticism seems to be their choice in order to communicate an intellectual bent  social tolerance. Belief in God has been characterized as blackened teeth, having a southern accent and spending time down at the fishin’ hole, digging for frogs. So if you want to communicate that you’re current and living in the twenty-first century, you feel you need to distance yourself from the arcane concepts of religion and instead, embrace the supremacy of science and technology.

It is everywhere. Even those who insist they are still believers have abandoned the emotion, heart and depth of involvement in favor of practice, relics and dogma.

We just really need to get back to God. Now, I don’t mean this in the sense of a backwoods revival in a tent with screaming, hollering and rolling in the aisles. I mean, literally get back to the word: God.

Take a good look at the construction of the word. If you approach it from the front, it begins with G-O–go. If you decide to view it from the back end, it spells D-O–do.

Yes, even in the letters, we have go in the front and do in the back. Any message about a creative Father, who art in heaven, that does not lead with “go” and “do” is not only misrepresenting the essence of the supernal nature of the Almighty, but is lying to the hearers about the best way to curry His favor.

Religion goes nowhere and does nothing. It goes nowhere in the sense that so much emphasis is put on the afterlife and the insufficiency of the human experience that anyone who truly wants to be prosperous or find some fulfillment in their lifespan must walk away from the conclave of the waiters.

Religion does nothing mostly because it’s frightened of accidentally stepping out of the “will of God” and becoming carnal. The result is indecision or immobility. So any talented individual with a burning curiosity to discover the very best that earth has to offer is immediately repulsed by a “go-nowhere, do-nothing” campaign to spirituality.

I am sympathetic. I am often angered when I sit in churches and the messages of grace, mercy and unconditional love are used as flimsy excuses for remaining lazy and indifferent. I just don’t see any particular storyline in the gospels where Jesus encountered people and left them exactly the way he found them, whispering in their ear, “It’s all right. Just relax and trust God.”

It also doesn’t take you many chapters in the gospel to discover that Jesus was a “go” guy and a “do” dude. How we have succeeded in emulsifying the real meat of the truth of the gospel down to the pabulum of salvation and the insufficiency of man I will never know.

If I arrive at the Judgment Day and it turns out that God really desired a people who were shy, nervous, tentative, suspicious, overly-careful and always in the losing position, I just don’t believe that He will be dissatisfied with me because I selected to use my talents and aggressively multiply them. But if I arrive at the Judgment Day and God expected me to take what was given to me and put it into practice, improving my life situation, blessing the world around me, becoming as expansive as possible, and I, instead, have buried my abilities in the tomb of grace, mercy and unconditional love, I think I just might literally be in a helluva lot of trouble.

God: His name says it all–frontwards and backwards. Go and do.

But go and do what?

A young lady told me that she wanted to go to Africa to be a missionary. I replied, “Great. What are you doing here in your community?”

She paused. “Well, not much. You see, I’ve been going to college to train to be a missionary.”

I inserted, “Don’t you think the best way to become a missionary to Africa is by already being a successful missionary right here?”

We can’t always be in training. We can’t always be learning but never coming to the complete knowledge of the truth.

We need to go where we go. I know that may sound over-simplistic. But I don’t need to be telling God that I’m ready to go into all the world if I didn’t treat the maid at my motel with respect and generosity as I checked out of my room this morning in Indianapolis. I may have great ideas of where I want to go, but today I am on I-70, heading towards Lancaster, Ohio.

This IS my go. I plan on doing it so well that God will have confidence that the next “go” He sends my way will be equally as beneficial.

Go where you go.

I say to my good friends, Steve and Sharon: “You clean houses. Be the best house-cleaners in Davidson County.”

I say to my son, Jon, who is premiering his movie today: “Be the best host, director and artisan you can in Albany, New York.”

To Angy–beautify everyone you meet.

Maxine:  Bring cheer to all those shut-ins.

And I say to the delightful pastor I met yesterday in Brownsburg: “Brighten the corner where you are.”

I declare to all you beautiful people: “Go where you go and make the whole world glad you came.”

And then do what you do. I often have people tell me that they wish they had my talent. Perhaps they are a little confused when I laugh. Honestly, friends, I was not born talented. I just got tired of sitting around waiting for something to happen, and decided to use what I could do, and in the process learned enough that every once in a while it looks like I’m talented.

When my legs became weak about fourteen days ago, I realized that my life is not about my legs. My life is about my heart, soul and mind. Whatever I need to do to get my strength to a location where the other three parts of me can do their thing will be just fine. Do what you can do.

I speak to my dear friend, Jean, who writes me and encourages me with her comments from time to time: “Thank you for doing what you do. Mine is often a mission without much appreciation–stating plainly what might be possible. You encourage my soul.”

I would love to bolster the potential of this new generation by letting them know that just because the religious system has let them down does not mean that God has stopped being in the business of going and doing.

When you remove “go” and “do” from “God,” all you end up with is a big zero.

And too often, our churches, denominations and religious institutions have absolutely nothing to offer but the burden of more financial responsibility and additional insecurity.

So here’s to God. If you catch Him in the front, you’ve got GO. And even if you come in the back door, you end up with DO. I love Him because He has simplified this passage of time down to realistic, commonsense elements.

So here I go–maybe a little weaker than I was a couple of months ago. Perhaps for the time being, some of my physical strength has been “chaired.” But my desire to go and do has not diminished.

And because of that, I feel God in my life.

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