Good News and Better News … January 15th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3553)

Sunday morning, I woke up with laryngitis.

Having dodged a cold most of the week, I was finally overtaken by the little booger and my larynx (voice box) was completely surrounded and incapable of screaming for help.

I sat on the toilet seat, realizing that in two short hours I was supposed to share at Saint James United Methodist Church in Goose Creek, South Carolina. That hardly seemed plausible. The word “unlikely” came to mind.

Yet I must tell you, I’ve never been content with accepting my first look at anything. My initial observation is always full of fear, culture and predictability. So realizing that I could not call these fine people and bail out at this late hour, I asked myself a valuable question: “What is it you can do this morning that will edify your brothers and sisters?”

Candidly, we all wake up every morning, each one of us a little lame simply due to being human beings. Yet it is our purpose to find ways to edify.

Singing was out of the question. My singing voice yesterday morning resembled a child’s squeal after falling off the monkey bars.

But I was able to speak.

I was able to think.

The ten fingers on my hands were not infected whatsoever, so playing the piano was available.

I had no congestion in my sense of humor.

So without troubling Pastor Susannah, Vance and all the cherished, human folk at Saint James, I just launched into what I still had at hand.

I made no explanation because it would not have been edifying.

I made no excuses. Once again, not edifying.

Edifying is when you take what you’ve got and instead of proclaiming it insufficient, you use it to bless other people.

It was a bit of a mine field–guessing when my voice would crackle or crunch–but after three blessed hours, I was able to make connection with my new brothers and sisters, and from what they tell me, lift their spirits.

The good news is that God’s spirit is sufficient to our every need.

The better news is that if we want to tap that grace, we need to humbly admit when we have found ourselves buried under the weather.

 

Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Jesonian … January 13th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3551)

Every single week.

As I journey across the country and stop off to do my presentation, I am always greeted by people who want to know my political persuasion. When I reply, “Apolitical,” they smile and begin to probe me so they might unearth my hidden beliefs, and thereby categorize me with either a big “R” or a big “D”–Republican or Democrat. How disappointed they usually end up being when I do not attack President Trump or swear my allegiance in that direction.

Many years ago, I discovered four verses from the Good Book which are so full of common sense and understanding of the human condition that I have embedded them into my own thinking, declaring this passage to be my touchstone.

When Jesus was explaining the Pharisees to the disciples, he said, “They hold Moses’ seat.”

In my lifetime, twelve men have held the position of President of the United States. Jesus’ approach on the matter? Honor the men because they’re in the position–and he goes on to say that we need to be careful to do what they say.

You see, this is where it gets tricky.

Many of my friends who are Democrats feel it’s necessary to resist President Trump, and likewise, my Republican friends demand some blind acceptance.

Jesus’ take? “Be careful.”

For instance, every time I step into my van to drive, I realize I am losing my freedom, suddenly at the mercy of the policemen in the local village who might have a speed trap. If picked up, I lose my ability to be autonomous.

“Be careful.”

Jesus says to “be careful to do what they say,” but then he adds, “But don’t do what they do.”

Not one of the twelve Presidents I’ve encountered in my lifetime would I choose to imitate in personal profile. Fortunately, since we don’t live in a dictatorship, I don’t have to do that. As long as I maintain a respectful cooperation with present laws, America gives me the right to pursue my single-minded goals while following my own philosophy.

With that in mind, I will also tell you that every week I meet a new pastor. He or she has a job. They also have a calling. What they discover is that the job often interferes with the calling, and the calling certainly complicates the job.

So they often end up pastoring a church instead of the church. They learn the mannerisms of their congregations–the quirks, limitations, aggravations and the preferences–and then try to build an institution saluting the lifestyle of Jesus inclusive of these guidelines. It often leaves them exhausted, and sometimes faithless–because believe it or not, people don’t always agree with Jesus, even while they’re praising him. People don’t always concur because they’re too busy being Republicans or Democrats.

So unfortunately, the job of the local pastor becomes that of an arbiter instead of a proclaimer.

They can even forget to give respect to the congregation, but don’t follow their ways. It is the mission of the pastor to shepherd the people to greener pastures. That begins by removing the “R’s” and the “D’s” and the denominational allegiance, and finding the simplicity of the message of Jesus, and keeping it as healthy and pure as possible.

It will take such men and women to bring about a revival.

But in Matthew 23:1-4, Jesus pronounces that it is completely plausible to respect the position of someone without following the leadership.

I do it every week. It doesn’t make me anemic. It doesn’t make me hypocritical. It simply means there are temporary solutions which are offered and can be implemented as long as the greater good is held in supremacy.

To be Jesonian is to follow the heart of Jesus. Part of the heart of Jesus is respecting those who have “gained a seat” in our society.

But most of the heart of Jesus is clinging to your autonomy so that the choices you make in your life are yours and yours alone.

 

Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

 

Cracked 5 … October 24th, 2017


Jonathots Daily Blog

(3470)

cracked 5 logo keeper with border

 Things Lucifer Likes to Do On Halloween

A. Dress up like the pastor of a mega church

 

B. Binge-watch Netflix to make sure they are adequately objectifying, raping and murdering women

 

C. Spread a rumor that there may be peace coming in the Middle East and then dash everyone’s hopes

 

D. Warn people about razor blades in apples and nails in candy

 

E. Sit at home handing out Gospel tracts to trick-or-treaters while watching the 700 Club.

 

Donate Button

 

 

Good News and Better News… May 1st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3294)

I spent the weekend with the “Life of Brian”–once again reminded to “always look on the bright side of life.”

Yes, Brian is the pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Frostproof, Florida. Aside from being personable, gentle and caring, he has intelligently chosen to embrace the work that is set before him and enjoy it instead of complaining about the difficulties or lamenting its limitations.
That is remarkable. (So therefore, I did.)

Because of this spirit which radiates from him, the congregation allows itself to believe that they are not boxed in to either a social or a religious format that makes them run around in circles like gerbils looking for a wheel.

I must tell you–any church that advertises that it is presently on the path of righteous pursuits may very well be deluded. We are all intoxicated by an environment which challenges us to be rough and tumble instead of kind and merciful.

Very simply stated, that must change or nothing will happen.

If we truly go into a deeper study of the Word, we will end up as Paul did, proclaiming that the only commandment that’s necessary is “love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we pursue an existence of prayer, we will find, as Jesus taught, that our best supplications are done in the closet, without letting anyone know that we are seeking divine guidance.

It really comes down to a simple back-and-forth:

What should we slow?

What should become quick?

I use the word “slow” because none of us are without silliness and foolish iniquity, so we will occasionally slip up. Right now we are obsessed with the notion to be quick to judgment and slow to love. For some reason, we insist that this is a sign of maturity, caution or caring for our loved ones. Because of this, the people in our society sometimes look like they’re sniffing the room for nasty odors instead of including the inhabitants of the room.

We are quick to judge yet slow to love.

And no matter how much you learn about the Tabernacle of David, the death of Christ or the Apocalypse, you will make no progress in the Kingdom of God until you become quick to love and slow to judge.

Matter of fact, if I were pastoring a church, I would teach on that subject for at least six months–until everybody in the congregation, including the toddlers, was fully aware that the mantra of our mission was “quick to love and slow to judge.”

This does not mean that prayer, worship, fasting, giving and study have no merit–it just means they have no muscle. They do not bust through the cement of the walls we are building between each other. The only thing that will do that is love and a refusal on our part to judge others.

So the good news is this: if we can learn to be quick to love, even if it seems a little awkward at first, at least we will be stumbling in the right direction.

And the better news is, if we are slow to judgment, we can begin to tear down the dark image of the Christian faith, which has turned us into prudes instead of proof.

Donate Button

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

 

Reverend Meningsbee (Part 49) Troubling the Water … April 9th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3272)

Reverend Meningsbee

Professor McIntosh.

Meningsbee always remembered him fondly.

He was one of those college professors who thought it was his job to come up with the most clever way to communicate ideas, gauging his success on how dazzled his students would become or how they would squint at him, perplexed, acting as if they didn’t understand.

He was a character.

One of his primary theories was that everything in the universe was based on physics and chemistry–even people–that even though we advance the idea that loving our neighbor as ourselves is a noble pursuit, that certain chemicals, reactions and even structures of different individuals actually inhibit them from making connection–even though they try. Sometimes they even get married, attempting to work out a relationship, only to discover that they suffer from a perpetual awkwardness whenever they’re together alone.

The reason for the walk down memory lane was that recently Meningsbee had come to the conclusion that his old professor just might have stumbled upon some wisdom. Because try as he might, there was one gentleman in the Garsonville congregation who just could not tolerate the pastor.

Matter of fact, Meningsbee found himself referring to this gent as “Mr. Jackson, from the bank,” because he had never heard his first name. He thought it was “Maynard,” but considering how unusual that seemed, he was hesitant to try it out loud.

So whenever Meningsbee entered the room, Jackson stayed for a few moments, but excused himself pretty quickly. At first he thought it was a coincidence, but then some of the other church members noticed it, and began to check their watches, timing when Jackson made his exodus.

Meningsbee thought about going to talk to Jackson, but reconsidered. Honesty only works when two people agree to the terms. Otherwise, the person who chooses not to share his heart can simply terminate the peace offering by saying, “Problem? What problem?”

But recently Meningsbee had become worried.

Mr. Jackson had begun spending a lot of time with young Carl. He offered to buy the young man a new suit. Whenever Carl was doing something in the church, like a special song or maybe a sermonette, Jackson would specifically invite the other members of his family.

Meningsbee was concerned about being too paranoid. How much was he reading into the circumstances? But it just seemed that Jackson was trying to create a rift between Carl and the senior pastor.

Meningsbee was not an idiot. He knew he could be imagining everything. Yet something was amiss. Carl was not quite as gentle and free-flowing when the two of them were together. He seemed to be making stubborn stands over things that really didn’t matter that much. Meningsbee was stymied. What should he do?

Then came the petition.

It was presented as a lark. Matter of fact, it was printed off on pink paper with yellow flowers. It stated:

“We, the undersigned, demand that Pas Carl get the chance to preach at least once a month on Sunday morning. We do this by the authority granted to us by nobody, in the spirit of true bumbling.”

Even as they presented it to Pastor Meningsbee, they did so with an overstated bow and a giggle.

He took the flamboyant petition into his office, sat down and stared at it. He knew one thing: solving problems was not about having all the answers, but instead, knowing when to use the answers.

Since it was Sunday morning and he had the petition in his hand, he decided to follow up on the frivolity of their offering with some silliness of his own. He reached into a trunk of toys he kept in his office for kids who needed a distraction for when they were waiting for their parents and he pulled out a red plastic fireman’s hat, which was obviously too small for his head. But he placed it on top and fastened it down to the side of his face with scotch tape.

He walked to the door of the sanctuary and then skipped down the aisle to the front of the church, and turned around with his fireman’s hat tipping precariously.

The look on the faces of the congregation: amused, confused, not certain how to react, even though some of them couldn’t help themselves and began to giggle. Borrowing from the energy of a Broadway play, in overstated tones, he began.

“When you come to the Garsonville Community Church, what are you hoping to see? An aging minister wearing a child’s fireman’s hat? Of course not. But look! It’s still provided.”

A big laugh.

“But what do you come here for? What is inspiring you today? I’m not talking about what inspired you when you were sixteen years old and you could barely wait for Halloween so you could go on the hayride and make out with your boyfriend or girlfriend. I’m talking about what inspires you in church today.

“You know what inspires me? You know what rings my bells? You know what keeps my firehat in place?”

He reached up and touched the side of his face. “Certainly not the scotch tape. What gets me moving–what gets me excited–what makes me want to race to work every day is the opportunity to work with that young man over there…”

He pointed to Carl.

“And try to do great things for all of you out there.”

He pointed to the congregation.

“What should I say about Carl? Pas Carl. I wish I had known half of what he knows when I was his age. I would now be twice the man. I wish I was half as good-looking. I wish I could say I rescued a boy out of a well. I wish I’d had my hands in dirt more, growing crops, or milked a cow or two. That is what you do to them, right?”

He leaned forward and the congregation laughed. “Because every time I get to work with him, I know we’re doing something great for you. But the amazing thing is that even though we’re enjoying this blessing, we sometimes forget that it never happens because of one thing. It’s when all things work together to the good.

“Would you say it with me? All things work together to the good.

The congregation repeated it.

“And when you start tearing that combination apart, trying to focus on what’s the better part, or the best part, it stops working together. Now, even though I couldn’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t do without Carl–he’s a smart fellow. He’ll tell you he’s young. He’ll tell you that he couldn’t do without me.”

Carl hung his head.

“And even though there are people in this congregation that don’t love me–heck, maybe you don’t even like me–you still receive my love and the thrill of my soul to be your shepherd.

“I had a professor in college named McIntosh. He believed that everything in life is based on chemistry. What if he’s right? What if we take one Richard Meningsbee and mingle it with a Sarah, Matreese, Bob, Sally, Darla, Daniel, Mr. Jackson–Maynard, I presume?–and Carl, and stir it up. We know what we’ve got then, don’t we? We have this beautiful eruption called church.

“What if we remove one of the ingredients? Will it be the same? Will the chemical reaction be as intense? I, for one, think not.

“I was offered a petition, requesting that this young man, who I love, be able to preach one Sunday a month in this church. I tell you–no. You’re absolutely wrong. He should preach two Sundays a month in this church. Starting next week.

“And before I finish here, I need you to seriously take a moment and let me know, by raising your hands, how many people like my hat.”

Hands went into the air, applause rattled the room and everybody left church in joy.

Everybody except Mr. Maynard Jackson.

He never returned again.

Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 30) Anchored … November 20th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3131)

Reverend Meningsbee

Katrina Middlesex was the news anchor of the USBN station. She insisted on being referred to as an anchor rather than anchor-woman or anchor-person, citing that she had no intention of “skirting” her responsibilities.

She requested a “meet and greet” with Reverend Meningsbee. Partially flattered but mostly trapped, the pastor agreed, but decided to make the pow-wow at his church office instead of his home. He selected that atmosphere because he didn’t feel comfortable talking to her in his private environment, and didn’t want to offer tea and crumpets (since he didn’t care for tea and had no idea what crumpets were).

She arrived promptly and didn’t waste time. Before her backside had completely hit the cushion on the chair she fired a question.

“What is it you have against this series we’re doing on your town?”

Meningsbee was equally as willing to commence. “It’s intrusive. You don’t really know these people. Many of the things you’re examining are multifaceted story-lines, and you’re focusing on one sensational aspect. And to be blunt, Ms. Middlesex…”

She interrupted immediately. “No, call me Katrina.”

Meningsbee relented. “All right, Katrina. To be candid, I don’t think you really care about the people on a human level, but rather, see them as caricatures for your network’s unfoldings.”

She smiled. “Well, well. You certainly don’t hold back, do you?”

“I’m not trying to be blunt, nor do I mean to be rude,” said Meningsbee. “It’s just that the commission I have here and the calling I enjoy asks me to be a shepherd, and that involves protecting the sheep from outside forces…”

Katrina interrupted again. “You mean like wolves? Do I look like a wolf to you?”

“Yes, actually, you do,” answered Meningsbee. “You don’t know you’re a wolf because you hang around with people who have teeth. The folks in Garsonville are simple, and dare I say, toothless.”

She giggled a little bit–almost girlish. “I don’t think you know the people quite as well as you think you do. Not only are they more complicated than you describe, but a bit more greedy. I’ve had numerous requests for revenue for the stories they’re providing, assuming, I suppose, that our network is making tremendous profit from their profferings.”

Meningsbee remained silent. A little piece of his soul was burning from the statement–partially due to the nastiness of her tone, but mostly because he was fully aware that the folks of Garsonville had been cast under the spell of big-town profit and gain.

Katrina waited for a moment, and then pursued. “Let me give you an example. The little boy with the miracle ears…”

Meningsbee jumped in. “Katrina, it was not a miracle. At least, not what you mean by a miracle. The young boy had a medical condition which the doctors felt might take care of itself and might not. It was beautiful that his inner awakening of healing happened during his baptism, but certainly it wasn’t due to an angel touching his ears.”

“Oh, ye of little faith. Wherein do you doubt?” Katrina chided.

“I believe in God,” said Meningsbee. “I just think the miracle He gives us is life, and we’re trying to learn how to use it and to pursue all of its meaning.”

Katrina opened up a notebook and began to read. “I have stories here of adultery, one horrible recounting of incest, somebody even referring to the fact that they might have witnessed a murder in the town. Are you aware of all this, Pastor Meningsbee?”

The Reverend sat for a long moment, staring at the self-satisfied anchor. “No,” he replied. “Nor do I wish to know. You see, my dear, repentance is something people do when they understand the depth of their error. Recounting is what they do when they’re in front of foolish people who are looking for the darker side of humanity.”

Ms. Middlesex smiled, but exuded no warmth. It was obvious she had no affection for the simple parson who stubbornly refused to submit to her charms. She rose to her feet and headed toward the door. Turning, she delivered one final statement.

“Richard…may I call you Richard?”

“You just did,” said Meningsbee.

“Richard, I have stories on everybody in this town. Including you. It is my job to discern which ones are suitable for air and will bring the most viewership. I try to use gentle discretion, but I am a business person, not a theologian.”

Meningsbee stood to his feet and stepped toward her. “And if all the atrocities done in the name of business would have taken into consideration the worth of a human life, we wouldn’t need theologians…because we’d be so close to God.”

Katrina squinted at him, extended her hand, which he took, shook and she slid out the door.

Meningsbee was a little baffled by the whole situation, not sure why she had come in the first place, but he exited the building, climbed into his car and went home. He was in the mood to have a good cup of coffee and retire to the cubby-hole he had set aside for personal time and study. Procuring his coffee, he headed into his little den of thought.

At the door he suddenly stopped, staring into the room–startled.

His computer was gone.

Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity


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

 

 

Good News and Better News … October 24th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3104) 

good-news-plainwell-stage

Yesterday when I arrived at the First United Methodist Church of Plainwell, Michigan, a gentleman asked me, “So, what do you think about the 2016 Presidential election?”

I replied, “It’s like going to the grocery store to get some steak and finding out they’ve only got baloney.”

Yes. The campaign is just “cold cuts.”

So it’s very important that when we come to church, we give those who have chosen to attend a “people experience”–full of emotion, joy, humor and inspiration–because they certainly are not going to get it on MSNBC, CNN or Fox News. Likewise, neither Donald nor Hillary are motivated to edify people.

My Plainwell experience began the day before when I arrived for setup, and was delighted to meet Pastor Kathy and Sue, who generously afforded us their efforts, hospitality and gentleness. They were absolutely inspiring human beings who just happened to be women.

Therefore, when Sunday rolled around, my heart was full, and I wanted to ensure that everyone I met was aware that even though the world is full of tribulation, this is our season to “be of good cheer.”

good-news-plainwell-cup-and-spoonHowever, serving up good cheer demands that you portion things off in the right units. Otherwise, the recipe doesn’t taste quite right.

For instance, I do think we need a tablespoon of Bible–as long as it’s mingled with a cup of mercy.

How about a tablespoon of prayer, with a cup of helping out?

You can have a handful of church if you throw in a bunch of kindness.

I would welcome a teaspoon of preaching mingled with a quart of living.

I think you can have a cup of worship if you stir in a gallon of joy.

I suppose I could stand a pinch of study, if it will motivate a dash of discovery.

And certainly feel free to throw in a tablespoon of faith–as long as you realize it functions best with a cup full of effort.

The Gospel works because it is suited to people.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to find the gaps in the world, and instead of being angry about them, fill them:

  • Life is rather tasteless, so bring your salt.
  • Things get pretty dark, so make sure you light it up.
  • Most people demand–learn to ask.
  • Lots of folks blame. Jesus suggests that we seek.
  • And of course, it’s very common to stand on the outside and feel cheated, but Jesus insists that it’s more fulfilling to knock on the door.

We had a fabulous time yesterday in Plainwell.

We laughed, cried, snickered, snorted, watched, listened and embraced. It was a human event–which means it gave God glory, since He was the One who came up with the idea of humanity in the first place.

So the good news is, church is a great remedy for politics.

And the better news is, the more people-friendly church becomes, the more people will be drawn to it.

Donate Button

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity


Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

Click here to get your copy now!

PoHymn cover jon

 
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: