Good News and Better News… January 30th, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-lighthouse-point

I had the privilege of sharing in Lighthouse Point, Florida.

What a fabulous name. Opens the door for all sorts of clever interpretation–especially for a writer who might become overly exuberant.

But what struck me was that we were returning for our third occasion to be sponsored by Pastor Gabe, in yet another of her assigned churches.

She is a dynamic woman. Let me change that. She is an outstanding person–a breast cancer survivor, a minister, an individual with a delightful sense of humor, and also, as I found out yesterday, enjoys watching reruns of “West Wing.”

During a conversation with Gabe, she mentioned that this present church was about the same size as all of the other churches she had pastored.

Kind of small.

Although she did not express any sadness or misgiving about the size, I thought to myself, “We live in a country that thinks the bigger things are, the better they are.”

Although that might apply to hamburgers and ice cream cones, it certainly does not come to play in discussing a church.

For you see, a church is not an organization, a meeting hall, a service or a club. A church does not become more impressive because there are more butts in seats.

A church is a place where those who are seeking maturity can come together to strengthen one another.

Factually, I don’t know if you can do that with more than a hundred people at a time. You can jam fifteen thousand Christians into an auditorium, but it doesn’t mean that a single-mindedness of joy and faith will be produced.

Yes, the purpose of the church is to encourage people to “grow to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Jesus.”

Whenever you gather more than three or four hundred together, you’ve got to have a program with praise band singers and create some sort of atmosphere of worship, hoping that somewhere over the coffee and donuts provided in the fellowship hall, human conversation might somehow ensue. But that’s not who we are.

We need fullness.

In the human experience, fullness occurs when we allow ourselves to feel. So when I go into a church and people are reluctant to express emotion, I know they’ve convinced themselves that they’re in a worship service instead of a fellowship.

We also need to reach a certain measure.

What is that measure? A sense of survival. After all, we will never succeed if we can’t first survive. We learn to survive by hearing the testimony of others–like Gabe, who herself survived the horror of disease.

We realize we are not alone. For after all, there is nothing lonelier than being in a room with ten thousand people and knowing nobody.

And finally, church should grant us stature.

In other words, we know we can grow. Why? Because we just testified to people about our new discovery.

This is the atmosphere that was intended for the church of Jesus of Nazareth.

  • I can feel
  • I can survive
  • I can grow

And what Pastor Gabe, and all of us, need to celebrate is that the church is not noteworthy because of its sanctuary. It becomes the light of the world because it lights up its members.

The good news is that America is doing well because people like Pastor Gabe are on the job, with an attention to detail and a care for fellow-travelers.

The better news is that we in the church become a highly functioning organism when we motivate the souls around us to grow “to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Jesus.”

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Good News and Better News … August 15th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Bauchman name tags

Name tags hanging from a peg board

 

 

Bauchman treat table

Coffee awaiting the faithful

 

 

 

 

Bauchman door windows

 

Beautiful mahogany walls with colored glass

 

 

An old-fashioned radiator, Bauchman radiatorreminding us how long the church has been established

 

 

 

 

Bauchman stained glass window

 

A skylight, welcoming the sunshine from the heavens

 

 

 

 

Another Sunday morning in America.

This time, it is Baughman United Methodist Church in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.

Busy folks.

The morning announcements took ten minutes–just to cover the expanse of activity and planned events.

Matter of fact, if I were evaluating the church in America as a whole, I would conclude that it is an extremely proficient organization.

Here’s the problem: the church that Jesus came to “build on the rock” through his words and the essence of his life was never meant to be an organization. He punctuated this by saying, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

The Jesonian church is meant to be an organism.

Here’s the difference:

  • An organization needs plans.
  • An organism needs food.

And although we are meticulous in the religious system to organize, put in place and promote a series of determinations, these plans themselves offer no nourishment to the starving souls trying to find their best-seated positions in the back of the sanctuary.

The church is an organism because it’s filled with people, and people need:

1. Emotional food

Yes, we require a diet of “love one another”–and all the awkward situations that produces.

2. Spiritual food

Living our lives out, finding what is real and then discovering where Jesus dealt with it in his earthly time, and studying his insights on the matter

3. Mental food

Challenging all the opinions of our youth and renewing our file with ideas that are edifying to the people around us instead of alienating them.

4. Physical food

Honest to God, we need to eat together. Jesus said “as oft as you do eat together, remember me.”

We’re better people when we’re eating. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of having a restaurant on site at every church, so on Sunday we could file out of the service to a dinner table, where we could discuss what had warmed our hearts as we fill our tummies.

The good news is that the Baughman church was filled with delightful, enterprising and searching human beings.

The better news is that if we stop approaching Christianity as an organization, we might be able to feed the organism of faith … and change the world.

 

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Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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PoHymn cover jon

 

Untotaled: Stepping Five (May 8th, 1964)… March 8, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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Her name was Cammie. (Well, actually, I assume it still is.)

She lived four doors down from me in a brick house with her mother and father–an only child.

I don’t know how I met her. I think our mothers were friends from a former time and felt it would be wonderful if we “played together.”

I was twelve, she was eleven. We had nothing in common. But once a week I walked down to her home and for an hour or so we did our best to strike up some sort of friendship.

On May 8th, 1964, I made the same journey. But this time, Cammie had a much more enthusiastic plan for our afternoon. It may have been initiated by her mother leaving us alone, as she went to the local IGA to purchase sweets and treats. Shortly after the departure of the maternal force, Cammie took me by the hand and led me to the front yard, where there were two pine trees growing by the bay windows–huge trees which had practically grown together to form one massive organism.

Pushing past the branches, she pulled me into the enclosure, completely secluded form the outside world. She lay on her side on the bed of needles and patted a space next to her, for me to join. I know it sounds silly, but I had no idea what was happening. Or maybe I did somewhere deep in my being, because I did not hesitate to comply.

As soon as I reclined, she leaned over and kissed me on the lips. I wanted to run, but of course, didn’t. She did it again and again. (Well, for the sake of brevity, it was seven times.)

In the midst of this onslaught of smooches, I noticed that my southern hemisphere suddenly came alive. My…well, my Australia pointed northwards to Indonesia. My longitude expanded without me giving latitude. I had lost control. Honest to God, at that point I wanted my Aussie to go back to looking on New Zealand.

I was terrified.

On the other hand, Cammie was curious. She came even closer, slowly reaching her hand towards my emerging continent. And then … bam! A brief eruption.

Horrified, mortified and delighted all at the same time, I stumbled to my feet, hobbled a few paces, burst through the branches and ran all the way home, the best I could.

I avoided seeing Cammie for the next three weeks. It became a religious exercise complete with my own form of repentance. When I finally asked my mother about the family, she explained that the reason I wasn’t going down to see Cammie was that her mother and father had taken a position in Lima, Peru, and they had moved.

I can’t explain the combination of relief and disappointment that flooded my being.  Time passed.

Two years later, Cammie returned to our town. She enrolled in our school.

I had grown.

Cammie, on the other hand, had grown more attractive.

We never connected again. I shall never forget her, though.

She is why I still smile when I see a kangaroo and giggle when I hear the word “eucalyptus.”

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Moving On … June 13, 2013

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Du QuoinJust because you find yourself in the position of being a traveling troubadour does not necessarily mean that you’re tickled about moving on.

If you have one ounce of human understanding, you have a tendency to attach to the people you meet, do some bonding and have a spot deep in your soul that wishes you could hang around longer. Obviously, that’s why most individuals settle into a nest, raise some birds and fly around the same batch of trees.

So every time I finish up a show with a new clump of friends, the realization that I must go onward and start over with those who insist that we begin “as strangers” is not only a bit intimidating but also stirs a little sadness in my soul–because I will be absent from those with whom I have just drawn near.

But the gospel was never meant to be placed within a tabernacle and revered around an altar. The message of truth and mercy is a living, breathing organism which finds its energy from renewing and saving the lost.

So there’s always a time for moving on.

When I finished up last night in Sunfield, I climbed up into my van and waved at the folks I treasured for forty-eight hours, stepped on the gas and traveled on. I thought to myself:

  • I have shared my music and heart to the best of my ability and to the completeness of my understanding at this point in my earth journey.
  • I kept it simple so the message can be remembered and cherished.
  • I laughed with those new friends to confirm the power of good cheer.
  • I shed a tear so that God could comfort us.
  • I tried not to be too long-winded, because many words dull the ears and confound the mind.
  • I stayed just long enough to be of benefit–and to learn.
  • And I left–so that the message can be honored instead of me occupying space and demanding notice.

Moving on. It is the miraculous mixture of trusting my talent, the power of the word …  and the souls left behind.

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 Jonathots, Jr.!

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

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