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 43) Broad Shoulders… February 26th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3230)

Reverend Meningsbee

Even though spring was less than two weeks away, the Windy City was still frigid, with sporadic snow flurries careening through the air.

Meningsbee had spent too much time admiring and devouring his deep-dish pizza, and so found himself hurrying the short distance down the street, to “The Illinoian,” a downtown hotel which in its salad days was dressed lavishly, but with the wear chasing the tear, had somewhat lost its flair.

Meningsbee was late to deliver a speech in Ballroom Three, for the “Midwest Evangelical Mainline Church Convention.” It was an annual gathering in Chicago, usually drawing about 5,000 pastors, church leaders, music directors and congregation members who found such seminars to hold some interest. Matter of fact, Bob Harborhouse from the Garsonville Church, had come, and Monique Jennings, the church secretary.

Meningsbee had been invited to speak on the subject of “Innovation in the 21st Century Church.” His first inclination was to decline, but on second thought, was quite grateful for the opportunity to leave Nebraska for a few days.

He was a little concerned about whether anybody would show up in Ballroom Three. After all, Monique had already decided to go shopping and Bob had opted to attend a different seminar on church finance, entitled “The Power of the Shekel.”

So Meningsbee was on his own and a bit out of breath as he stepped off the elevator on the third floor, and was suddenly surrounded by cameras, with a reporter sticking a microphone to his mouth. It was Katrina Middlesex, who was no longer with USBN, but had now joined a conservative think tank from the blogosphere named “The American Way.”

Meningsbee tried to wiggle past the entourage, but Katrina positioned herself in front of the door, prohibiting him from entering. With bright lights in his face and cameras poised, she began to fire questions.

“Do you think its hypocritical for you to be here?”

“Do you think what happened in Garsonville is your fault?”

Then it was the third question that shocked Meningsbee.

“Is it true that you have a problem with pornography?”

He could not disguise his surprise.

So she asked him again, “Are you involved in pornography?”

Frustrated, angry and beginning to feel some indigestion from his lunch, he snapped, “No comment.”

Katrina smiled and slowly backed away, allowing him to enter the ballroom.

Safely inside, he immediately realized it was the wrong answer. He should at least have denied it. “No comment” was an admission that there might be some substance to the question and that he needed to consult an attorney.

It was so stupid.

Meningsbee lifted his eyes to look at the room, peering at a beautiful hall with 300 chairs–speckled with about forty human beings. Worse, they had spread themselves all over the place, as if trying to avoid a contagion.

He took a deep breath and walked to the front of the auditorium, placing his portfolio on the podium, As he did, he saw a note. It read: “Dear Reverend Meningsbee: I’m sorry I will not be there to introduce you. Got all tied up. Just feel free to start on your own, and may God bless you.”

Meningsbee didn’t read any further. Knowing who had left him out in the cold would not make him feel any warmer.

He tested the microphone, which whirred and whistled a bit, causing some of the congregated to giggle, and then began to speak from his prepared text. He wasn’t even five words into his spiel when a hand was raised in the audience. He stopped, acknowledged the individual, and she posed, “Why were all the reporters out in the lobby?”

Another man sitting three rows in front of her threw a comment over his shoulder in her direction. “There was some sort of scandal in his hometown and they wanted to ask him about his involvement.”

Meningsbee stepped in, objecting. “It wasn’t a scandal. It was just people stuff, which they made scandalous.”

A fellow four or five rows over piped in. “Was it sex stuff?”

A lady all the way in the back responded, projecting her voice to cover the distance. “Yes. I think so.”

Meningsbee interrupted. “I’ve come here today to talk about innovation in the 21st century church.”

Yet another hand went up. Meningsbee reluctantly acknowledged the inquisitor.

“Did you use the scandal to advertise the church? That’s pretty innovative. You know what they say–there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

Meningsbee was lost. He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know what to do.

All at once, another voice. Male, younger–strong.

“If you don’t mind, Reverend Meningsbee,” said the young man, standing to his feet, “I would like to tell them what you did. If you folks are not familiar with the work that is going on in Garsonville, I’ve been keeping up with it through reading the blogs about the movement in the town, and also I have a cousin who lives there who fills me in on all the adventures.

“This gentleman, Reverend Meningsbee, wrote a book called ‘The Jesus Church.’ If you’ve never read it, you should. I know people always say that. In this case, it’s true. Basically, it asks the question, ‘What kind of church would Jesus run if Jesus was in the church running business?'”

People chuckled.

“So,” the young man continued, “the Reverend came to be a pastor in Garsonville, to see if he and the folks there can get together and form…well, I guess ‘form a more perfect union.’ But anyway, let me shut up, and let the parson tell us the whole story.”

The young man sat down, leaned back, crossed his legs and prepared to listen. The other people in the hall noted his position and followed suit.

Meningsbee was able to finish his speech. Afterward, he quickly found the young man, and thanked him for his kindness.

He replied, “Oh, you were fine. You didn’t need me. My dad used to tell me, ‘always travel with a little bit of grease, because most of the time you won’t be the wheel, but lots of times the wheel will need the grease.'”

Meningsbee found out that the young man’s name was Carl–Carl Ramenstein. He was a student at the Illinois Theological Seminary and was due to graduate in May.

“Come and see us,” said Meningsbee.

Carl smiled. “Why?”

The question took Meningsbee by surprise. He was just trying to be polite, but now the astute young man was calling him on it.

“Good question,” responded Meningsbee. “I guess because you’re young, good-looking, level-headed, humble and the Kingdom of God certainly wouldn’t suffer under your efforts.”

Carl feigned surprise. “Are you offering me a job?”

“No, no,” said Meningsbee. “Stale Danish, weak coffee–that’s our offer.”

Carl laughed, paused and considered. He reached out to shake the pastor’s hand, saying, “Well, I’ll tell you what. If I ever need stale Danish and coffee, you’ll be the first place I go.”

They shared a laugh. Meningsbee couldn’t help but be grateful for the intervention of the stranger.

Now all he had to do was figure out how to get out of Ballroom Three without seeing Katrina again. 

 

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 35) A Finer Diner… January 1st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3173)

Reverend Meningsbee

Meningsbee was spooked.

He wasn’t exactly sure why–maybe it was being awakened by a stranger pounding on his door. Or it could be the haunting dream that Nico shared about empty boxes at Christmas time. Or maybe he was just baffled by why he was traveling through Texas, spending money to pretend he was a vagrant.

Whatever the reason, he gathered up his blankets, pillows and the few items he had brought into the motel room, threw them into the back seat of his car and headed out on the road.

He didn’t know where he was going, but he knew one thing for sure: it wasn’t Garsonville.

He wasn’t ready.

So he puttered around from little village to tiny burg for a couple of days, realizing he was going to have to call the church and have someone stand in for him on Sunday. It wouldn’t be a big deal–the congregation was practically on auto-pilot anyway. All the changes he had suggested had brought about a freedom and liberty which gave the people a delightful blending of humility and confidence.

So when he called the office to tell them he would be delayed, the secretary didn’t even question him.

He wasn’t going to Garsonville–but he did feel compelled to at least head in that direction.

So two days later, he found himself sitting in a small diner in Amarillo, Texas, when he looked up from his breakfast of two eggs, turkey sausage and toast, and saw Mercer.

At first his brain didn’t register. But after a second glance, he realized it really was Mercer, walking in the door of the diner.

Mercer was a member of the Garsonville congregation–a quiet, sturdy fellow who was so invisible that Meningsbee had never even learned his last name. He was also a little afraid of Mercer, because the fellow sometimes showed up wearing a camouflage tie.

But then, all of a sudden, in the middle of Amarillo, Texas, Mercer had appeared, with a little smile on his face.

Meningsbee could not disguise his shock, and as Mercer made his way to the table and sat down, he said, “Are you surprised, Reverend?”

“More than surprised,” said Meningsbee. “How did you find me?”

Mercer leaned back in his chair, peered at the Reverend and replied, “Well, I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I worked in Army Intelligence, and it didn’t take me long to follow the paper trail you left with your credit cards.”

Meningsbee frowned. Mercer continued, “Oh, don’t be upset. You can find anybody anytime you want as long as they’re willing to sign on the dotted line.”

“What are you doing here?” whispered Meningsbee.

“Well, I came to find you,” said Mercer. “Seems like I did a pretty good job.”

“Okay…” Meningsbee was not sure what else to say.

There was a slight pause and then Mercer filled in the silence. “What seems to be the problem, Pastor? Are you addicted to pills?”

Startled, Meningsbee replied, “Pills? No. Why would you think that?’

“Oh, it’s just that sometimes you have that pasty-white face of a heroin user.”

Meningsbee shook his head. “No, I’m not addicted to pills. Just pasty white.”

“Hookers?” asked Mercer.

“Again–no,” punctuated Meningsbee.

“Then it must be gambling.”

“Listen, Mercer. I don’t gamble.” Meningsbee realized if he didn’t speak up, Mercer would continue his probing. “If you must know, I’m very upset about what’s happening in our town with the broadcast, and also the intrusion they’ve made into my personal life.”

“You mean how they stole your computer?” asked Mercer.

“How’d you know that?”

“Once again–I was in Army Intelligence. If I want to know it, I can pretty well find out. What was on your computer?”

Meningsbee sat quietly. He didn’t know what to share with Mercer. He didn’t know anything about him. So he decided to be evasive.

“Personal things,” Meningsbee said flatly.

“Like pornography, you mean?” asked Mercer, leaning forward and lowering his voice.

“Maybe like that,” said Meningsbee, relenting.

Mercer chuckled. “Listen, Reverend. Nobody thinks you’re perfect. Lots of people don’t even think you’re good. There are even some folks who think you’re pretty bad. So here’s how it works–the people who know you aren’t perfect will forgive you. The people who think you’re kind of good will be alarmed that you made a mistake but they’ll get over it. And the people who think you’re bad will just think worse about you. You can’t win people. God’s been working on their hearts for thousands and thousands of years. Isn’t that what you preach? But you also can’t run. That’s somewhere in the Bible, isn’t it? So I came out here on my own to find you and let you know that our little town needs you. We’ve made some stupid mistakes trusting these big-town phonies. Now we look pretty ridiculous. We could sure use someone to help us get out of this. What do you say?”

“Are you gonna tell anybody about our conversation?”

“Well, I’ll tell you this, Parson. You got no business lookin’ at that trash. But it really ain’t my affair. Do I disrespect you for doing it? A little. But I’ll get over it. The point is–will you? Because pictures on the Internet will never replace the wife you lost.”

Maybe it was the tenderness of the statement.

Maybe it was too many days on the road in Texas.

Or maybe it was just dissatisfaction with his turkey sausage.

But Meningsbee broke down in tears.

Mercer stood to his feet and patted him on the shoulder. “Do you need me to follow you home, or do you know the way?”

Meningsbee chuckled. “I got my GPS set.” He looked up. “Thank you, Mercer.”

Mercer sprouted a big smile. “You don’t know my last name, do you?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t.”

“Well, good. That’ll make it harder for you to track me down.”

Mercer turned and walked out of the diner as Meningsbee stared straight ahead.

It was time to go back.

It was time to take on his responsibility.

And it was time to stop being afraid.

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 18) It’s Not Good For A Man To Be… August 28th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3047)

Reverend Meningsbee

Alone.

More than lonely.

The frightening realization of having no one.

Unable to get the personal attention of another human being.

Meningsbee had settled in for his afternoon time of reflection, which usually started with pulling up some news stories on the Internet and reading some articles to sharpen his insight.

But there was a dark side to this ritual. Ever since he had lost his wife, Doris, the lack of intimacy had driven him to a nagging temptation to peruse pornography.

He hated the word.

When he pastored back East, he often counseled people who were completely obsessed with the practice.

He knew all the right answers but the loneliness overtook him–the sense of abandonment caused by losing his love.

For you see, Doris died as she had lived–suddenly.

She had an infectious spirit with a childlike quality that manifested itself in the belief that her whim was the same as God’s will. If bananas were on sale at the grocery store, Doris believed it was ordained to make banana splits.

Although Richard was a bit put off by the theology, he benefitted from the glow of her enthusiasm.

She loved him. She loved him all the way. If she was dissatisfied, Richard never knew it.

She laughed more than she cried; she planned more than she complained, and in the bedroom, she had the steaminess of the Queen of Sheba mingled with the mercy of an angel.

She granted Meningsbee the role of Midas. Everything he touched she called gold.

He never had a chance to doubt himself–until one morning, she sat straight up in bed and said, “My head hurts.”

They were her last words. She crumpled to the side, the victim of a simultaneous massive stroke and heart attack.

No history of disease, just a demise.

So now Richard was without his Doris, yet still needing the comfort and consistency of a gentle love.

He was repulsed by the images he saw on his screen. He was only interested in “peek-a-boo porn”–in other words, pictures of beautiful women yearning to be loved. But every time he pulled up an innocent profile, his inbox was inundated with popups of violent rape and sexual mayhem.

Strangely, he both hated and pitied himself at the same time–hated because he knew he was wrong, but pitied because he was forced into the wrong by an evil twist of fate.

He was more than ashamed.

He was intellectually disgusted by his choice.

He was spiritually bewildered by his weakness.

And he was mentally dissatisfied with the antidote provided to him via the Web.

So at the end of each one of his afternoon sessions, he scrubbed his browser and walked away from his computer feeling a little more decayed each time.

What right did he have to preach the Gospel when such desperation tormented his soul?

Meningsbee was in the midst of a fresh burst of incrimination when there was a knock at the door. He was startled.

He quickly made sure there was no evidence of his iniquity, and went to see who it was.

Matrisse.

He was so glad to see her.

She was like a supernal presence drawing him back into what he wanted his reality to be.

“I need to talk to you about Sassy,” she said solemnly. Meningsbee nodded his head and invited her in.

Once again, Matrisse was the needful distraction to draw him away from his own foolishness.

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G-Poppers … August 19th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3038)

Jon close up

As G-Pop sits down to write one of his children, he is suddenly aware that tears have come to his eyes, threatening to dribble down his cheeks.

He does not know why. Oh, he has some ideas–and in the midst of his own joyful pursuits, there is an aching sadness threatening his sense of well-being.

Yet he feels like an old fool.

Yes, G-Pop thinks if he shares his heart and the ache within, he will be viewed as some relic from the past. But the pain will not go away and his personal convictions persist.

The source of his tears is really simple. G-Pop just wants to know: where are all the good guys? And gals, for that matter?

Where are the people who take it for granted that loving your neighbor is essential instead of merely the duty of monks?

Where are the human beings who value the truth instead of acquiescing to deceit?

Where are the Olympic athletes who feel grateful for the opportunity to train and represent our country instead of tearing apart a bathroom and lying about their ordeal?

Where is a President who feels the confidence to tell his countrymen the complete truth concerning a transaction with Iran, hoping in his heart that they will understand his motivations and the difficulty of his choices?

Where are the people running for President who would rather lose than perpetuate a scandal?

Where is the sense of commonality among brothers and sisters that compels them to respect one another’s rights?

It is a worrisome thing.

It is difficult to live in a day and age when viewing pornography is accepted as a passing fancy instead of a weakness of character.

G-Pop feels ridiculous sprouting tears. He doesn’t want to be considered irrelevant.

But he fears hypocrisy.

For after all, lying is not really accepted. If you lie to your boss, you’ll lose your job. If you lie to a policeman, you’ll get arrested. And if you lie to your spouse about being unfaithful, you can pretty well guarantee a divorce.

Lying is on the march–trying to conquer honesty.

Can we stop it?

Can we find the good guys and gals?

G-Pop wonders.

Maybe it begins by humbly, carefully and faithfully trying to be one yourself.

 

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Jesonian: Content or Context … September 7, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2345)

Osteen

Once again, the religious community has blown up over the wording shared by a lady in Houston, Texas, as she attempted to explain how she believed that God “wants us to be happy.”

Was it simplistic? Perhaps.

Was it completely unbiblical? Of course not.

Was it unbalanced? Indeed.

The thing we have to remember about the Bible is that it offers us six thousand years of spiritual evolution, as human beings have come to grips with the heart of our Creator.

We start out in the book unwilling to speak His name, and by the time the volume is finished, we’re calling Him “Daddy.”

So it’s important that we learn the difference between content and context. Fortunately, if we’re willing to accept scriptural inclination, that direction is provided by giving special emphasis and recognition to the words of Jesus.

When we do this, we have an arbiter who literally does fulfill the law and the prophets, as he also teaches us to “render unto Caesar.”

But if you happen to be of a denomination which favors a specific doctrine and searches the Good Book to confirm that contention, then you probably will find yourself at odds with others on occasion and a bit zealous about proving your point.

So in my awkward way, allow me to take a series of the social issues of our day, and rather than addressing them by content, offer you the context I have found based on the inklings, words, personality and mission of Jesus.

1. Abortion.

“Don’t send them away.” Children are the closest thing to heaven that we have on earth.

2. The Internet.

“The light of the body is the eye.” Therefore if you fill your eyes with darkness, you will dicover darkness within.

3. Conflict between men and women.

“In the kingdom of God there is neither male nor female.”

4. Marijuana.

I think Jesus would say he wished we could get high on our own light.

5. Capital punishment.

“Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

6. Poor people.

They aren’t going away. “Do what you can for them.”

7. Culture clash.

God doesn’t have favorites.

8. Facebook.

“Don’t do your deeds to be seen of men.”

9. Homosexuality.

Why are you leading with your sexuality?

10. Guns.

“They that live by them shall die by them.”

11. Pornography.

Lust is emotional adultery.

12. Racism.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

13. Family.

“If you only love those who love you, you’re no better than the heathen.”

There’s my offering.

And when it comes to the issue of happiness, Jesus made it clear that it is primal in God’s mind. The Sermon on the Mount begins with “blessed,” and then it takes the rest of the time to explain our responsibility to ourselves, others and God in a quest to maintain that bliss.

So if we are going to live in a society filled with confusion, we must stop contributing to the baffling conflict and begin to simplify things down to a context which will clarify situations instead of further complicating them with more stipulation, legalism or “popcorn philosophy.”

This is why I use the word “Jesonian.”

It’s an attempt to find abundant life … through discovering the heart of Jesus. 

 

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The Story Goes On… July 14, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Daniel in the lion's denI was having trouble dealing with the stories: Jonah and the whale, Daniel in the lion’s den–even Jesus walking on the water.Three little pigs

So when I was fifteen years old, for a season I embraced agnosticism.

It was pretty easy. For after all, I never believed in religion. Church was tolerable. I had a curiosity about God.

But overall, the religious system asked me to swallow things without question, never realizing how they might affect me.

It was just too much.

Now I know there are those who would like to believe that departing from the church leads to all sorts of depravity. But I did not become a drug addict. I did not start mistreating my dog. I didn’t develop a pornography addiction.

Moses and the Red SeaActually, I rather enjoyed sleeping in on Sunday mornings, and took the extra time to audition for a play, and won the lead role.Little Red Riding Hood

I was happy.

I made new friends, since my Christian ones turned their backs on me. I joined with these acquaintances to discuss intellectual matters and expound on the problems in our society. I felt like a budding genius. It was like I was on a Mt. Olympus of knowledge, looking down on the world around me, trying to find a way I could assist the mere mortals below.

It was intoxicating.

In a strange sense of speaking, it was a religious experience. Yes, there is a religiosity to atheism. It was the comforting sense that I was self-contained. I needed nothing else.

Everything seemed really positive except for one factor. As time went on, the conversations I had with my new comrades became more bitter and nasty. After a while, we judged those who were not part of our confluence to be inferior–ignorant, if you will.

So one day it occurred to me that this new “religion” I had taken on had the same viciousness and prejudice as the one I had walked away from. There was still a plan of salvation, in the sense that you had to reject anything that might even hint toward the supernatural. There were sermons, as we disemboweled the character of those individuals who dared to disagree with us.

So finally, one night lying on my bed, I realized that the true story was not confined to the sixty-six books of the holy scripture. The story is actually compacted into the message that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

For even though I hated religion, had grown weary of church and felt like I could do without God, I had no idea, in my agnosticism, what to do with people. They seemed cumbersome. They were in the way.

Because as noble as it may sound to give freedom to everyone, when you have eight billion freedom-headers crashing into one another, it’s quite a headache.

My new-found lack of faith caused me to be irritated with the very creatures with whom I shared a species.

We need the story.

Maybe we don’t need all the stories that have been collected and called divine within the volume, but we do need The story:

  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Give and it shall be given unto you.
  • Go the second mile.
  • You are the salt of the earth
  • Love your enemies

Without this narrative, we learn to hate religion, disdain the church, ignore God, and unfortunately, also end up disliking one another.

I went back to church.

I don’t agree with everything that happens there, and when I don’t, I question it. I rail against religion because it is a man-made infestation, formed to cripple the creativity of humankind.

I maintain a curiosity about God, though none of us know what happens a hundred and twenty seconds after we die.

But I believe in people.

I consider it to be the sign of spiritual energy–when the love we have for one another becomes the symbol of our devotion to God.

The story goes on. The story needs to be told.

Because without the story… we become discouraged in our own lack of appreciation for one another.

 

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Arizona morning

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