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

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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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G-Poppers … April 21st, 2017

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G-Pop awoke this morning with an idea as pristine as a Windexed pane of glass.

Clarity–those moments when for a brief second, it appears that intelligence has been allowed into the garbage dump of our brains.

It was rather simple: the body should die first.

We spend countless billions of dollars to keep our physical beings alive years after our hearts, souls and minds have deteriorated to nothing.

The body is supposed to die first. It’s really the only way to leave happy. If you’re emotionally drained, spiritually strangled and mentally executed before that happens, it is a misery that simulates the vacuous nature of hell itself.

We are supposedly a people of faith–who are scared to death of death.

We visit every doctor, swallow every pill, buy every step-climber and pursue each and every herbal remedy suggested on the comical Internet of knowledge.

So we live without passion.

We exist from one doctor’s appointment to another.

We spend our time discussing our ailments, lamenting our lives because that which made us who we are has decayed, fallen off and blown away as dust.

I don’t want my body to live one more day than my heart, soul and mind.

Simple.

There’s a blessing to dying while you’re still productive. It is a gift to have people lament that you died too soon instead of quietly whispering to one another, “It was for the best.”

G-Pop thought this was especially significant on this day, when he’s celebrating the birth of his dear friend. She has escaped the rigors of her culture, denied the stupidity of her youthful mishaps and has come out the other end chasing her talent to greater and greater discovery.

It’s the only way to live.

It’s the only way to be.

God grant me the insight to know that I am a heart, soul and mind, surrounded by a body which desperately needs to be the first to give up the ghost.

 

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Good News and Better News… January 23rd, 2017

 

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On Inauguration Day 2009, many of my conservative brothers and sisters were profoundly convinced that Barack Hussein Obama was the Anti-Christ.

Likewise, this past Friday during Inauguration, many of my more liberal brothers and sisters were in a complete stew over the assumed devastation coming with the Presidency of Donald Trump.

In this back-and-forth treachery of accusations, abiding truths are being completely ignored.

Since 9/11, we have become a nation living off of hope because of our fears, and ending up with fears because of the disappointment caused by our hope.

But hope and fear are not opposites, but rather, uncomfortable cousins–because when hope does not deliver its promises, it produces fear over its failures. And when our fears are in full force, hope is set aside with a jaded sneer because we are convinced there is really no way to escape our difficulty.

In the midst of this topsy-turvy war between hope and fear, faith and love have been set aside.

Very simply:

  • Faith is when I realize that when God and I work together, great things can be done.
  • Love is when I decide to include you.
  • And then the three of us–God, me and you–can do almost anything.

The aspiration of the church should be to return faith and love to the equation so that hope and fear do not continue to rebound off one another.

The good news is that faith makes us believe in both a divine possibility and our involvement in the solution.

The better news is that when we include love, we increase our numbers, we increase our passion, and therefore we increase our possibilities.

 

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Good News and Better News… January 2nd, 2017

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Every January 1st, a preacher friend sends me an email with his prophecies for the new year.

His predictions are always pretty general–and also grim. I guess he thinks it’s a safe bet in a world of tribulation, to foretell disaster.

  • Yet there is no love without giving.
  • Faith dies without passion.
  • And hope disappears without dreams.

It’s just too easy to be upset.

It’s way too predictable to continue to complain about the circumstances.

Yesterday morning when I arrived at Carteret United Methodist Church, I was looking for people who were fed up with being depressed.

I think Pastor Frank was pretty surprised at the turnout. After all, it was New Year’s Day and a tremendous opportunity for folks to use it as an excuse not to come to church.

But they didn’t.

We gathered, we sang, we mused, we laughed, we cried, we fellowshipped and we left–believing that certain things must be honored, or honor will leave our world.

1. Love your neighbor is not optional.

Although we spend much time in diplomacy and negotiations with countries which are determined to hurt one another, the truth of the matter is, our greatest possibility lies in the souls who still insist on loving and believing in each other.

2. Be of good cheer.

Nothing is ever accomplished from a defeated position of gloom. If knowing the facts upset you, then choose the bliss of ignorance–because in the long run, it is not intelligence or education that saves us, but rather, the wisdom we garner from the data that gives us the power to believe.

I so enjoyed the congregation in Beaufort, South Carolina–and may I tell them:

The good news is that there’s a song of praise that needs to be written every day.

And the better news is that I, for one, want to meet my Creator with that song in my heart.

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Ask Jonathots … December 29th, 2016

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I am so frustrated. What happened in 2016??

Well, I’m not quite certain of your particular frustration, or what crosses your mind as a grievance concerning the year.

But certainly overall, the United States abandoned its sense of “civil” rights. In pursuing rights it is essential we maintain a civil attitude.

Somewhere along the line it became more important to chase down an agenda or voice opinions of opposition than to find ways to peacefully coexist and respect one another.

In the process, we had a lot of shouting without having any real interaction.

  • It became important to be right.
  • It was essential to win.
  • It was a game to degrade your opposition.
  • And it was considered fair play to dig up dirt and heap it on your opponent.

Because we humans are susceptible to selfishness, once we realized that our leaders were participating in playground antics, we felt the freedom to lessen our general toleration while increasing our volume.

It created a caustic environment.

So all the political parties, all the religions, and all the intellectuals who were supposed to guide us in ways of structured sensibility, instead became armed forts, where rocks were thrown across the chasm.

This will only change when we return to civil ways to establish our rights.

So what is civility?

1. It is impossible for me to completely be right.

I am human and therefore not only capable, but susceptible to error.

2. Listening means shutting up.

There is no such thing as listening with one ear as you prepare your speech to contradict your enemy.

3. Treat every human with the respect and reverence you would give to God.

If you don’t believe in God, treat every human like you would your mother.

4. Be fully aware that in a democracy you will need to include other people who have lifestyles and ideas which are completely opposed to your own.

If it isn’t killing anyone, you will have to learn to adapt.

5. Practice kindness whenever you can.

In other words, if there are going to be conflicts, we need to also have many moments of gentleness in between, or we will start bashing each other instead of learning to enjoy one another.

In 2016, rights became more important than civility.

It was not merely a liberal problem nor a conservative problem. It became universal.

Help change 2017 by making sure that the way you express your opinion is just as respectful as the passion with which you proclaim it.

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Good News and Better News… December 19th, 2016

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“Jesus was born to die.”

That’s what the preacher said.

He seemed pretty sure of it, too, because he kept repeating it over and over again during his “sermonic” pursuit.

I listened carefully. Here was the premise for the assertion–the best I understood it:

God, who created the universe, decided on His own, from the foundation of the world, that He would save the human race (which was not yet placed in the Garden of Eden) from their sinful nature, which they had not yet manifested.

It seems that since God made these creatures called humans, He placed within them a self-destruct switch, which is triggered and causes them to pull up lame, inept and basically evil.

So God put Himself in charge of them and each of their destinies, plotting their lives, and moved them about like fleshy chess pieces, understanding that in the long run, the end result of the game would be “checkmate.” In other words, they would need a Savior, and such an individual would have to come to the world as one of them, but be secretly enhanced with the dynamic advantage of knowing that his preaching, healing, conversations, or even established relationships were basically doomed, and that ultimately, his purpose for arriving on the planet was to slowly bleed out on a cross and die for the irreconcilable imperfections of humankind.

Although there are many scriptures from this God which inform us that He completely disapproved of animal sacrifice and found it gross, we are led to believe that He ignored those sentiments and killed a human being to prove that His initial idea of “original sin” was correct.

We are to ignore the birth of this son named Jesus in deference to his death.

We are to consider his teachings, but understand that basically, because of our faulted and feeble frame, we are incapable of living out his ideas.

Motivation to aspire, dream and grow is removed from us because basically without this “saving plasma,” we are completely lost and without remedy.

We are never to look on the cross as something that happened to Jesus, but rather, for some mysterious reason, something that Jesus caused to happen.

Even though we tout that human beings have free will, we quietly negate such a notion in favor of destiny, God’s will and a pre-formed path for each and every human unit.

Then we stand back and wonder why these human beings that were created seem vacant of expressing passion or goodness, but are constantly weeping over their failures in an attempt to be worthy of their salvation, and therefore feel a need, to some degree, to constantly re-start their appreciation for the blood atonement.

We just can’t wait to get the baby to the cross.

We have a lapse in our theology because we do not understand that God, being God, is completely able to give us choice while simultaneously having insight on where things might be going.

We do it with our own children. We have fears and apprehensions that they will struggle in certain areas, but we never take away the opportunity for them to surprise us. In other words, a disobedient five-year-old who breaks a lamp and giggles about it is not immediately sent to jail.

No, we give him another chance.

So during this blessed season, I wanted to offer a counter-view to this preacher who was so positive that Baby Jesus is just a prop on the way to Calvary.

For here’s the good news. It’s found in John 3:16:

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.”

But the better news is in the next verse, where it’s made clear why Jesus came. It states:

“God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world.”

 

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Don’t let another Christmas season go by without owning Jonathan’s book of Christmas stories

Mr. Kringle’s Tales …26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

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An advent calendar of stories, designed to enchant readers of all ages

“Quite literally the best Christmas stories I have ever read.” — Arthur Holland, Shelby, North Carolina

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Cracked 5 … December 13th, 2016

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cracked 5 logo keeper with border

Evidence the World is Flat

 

A.  It’s really, really hard to find anyone who is sharp

 

B.  Everything seems to roll down the alley toward the gutter

 

C.  You can see Russia from your house

 

D.  Responses lack passion, little inflection

 

E.  Water ain’t curvy, stupid 

 

cracked-5-santa-maria

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Don’t let another Christmas season go by without owning Jonathan’s book of Christmas stories

Mr. Kringle’s Tales …26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

Only $5.99 plus $1.25 shipping and handling!

An advent calendar of stories, designed to enchant readers of all ages

“Quite literally the best Christmas stories I have ever read.” — Arthur Holland, Shelby, North Carolina

Only $5.99 plus $1.25 shipping and handling.

"Buy

 

 

 
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