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

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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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Jesonian: The Look of Love… July 26th, 2015

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Young Robert Downey Jr.

Having just finished rebuking his disciples for trying to chase away the little children, Jesus takes the tots in his arms, lays his hands on them and blesses them.

But more importantly, he tells us that they are the true definition of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Yes, I can always tell when people are truly unspiritual, craggy and have a dying spirit. They’re critical of young humans.

God loves young people.

Matter of fact, in this particular passage of about 20 verses in the Gospel of Mark, we see that Jesus makes this forever clear–because not only does he express great warmth and tenderness to the little children, but immediately afterwards, when a young man arrives, asking questions about how to obtain eternal life, he channels that same affection toward this adolescent.

We refer this chap as “the rich young ruler.”

He is respectful. He is complimentary. But he is dissatisfied.

The things he has been taught have not brought him peace of mind nor a sense of purpose.

The scripture tells us that Jesus looks on him and loves him.

The average churchgoer would think that this is not unusual. Doesn’t Jesus love everybody?

But Jesus didn’t constantly manifest “the look of love.” He was often pissed with hypocrisy, angry with indifference, rebuking self-righteousness, and looking around the room befuddled because people were so unwilling to see other folks healed just because “it wasn’t the right time.”

Matter of fact, this is one of the few times that the Bible tells us that Jesus gave someone “the look of love.”

What did he love about this young man?

  1. The kid was still searching.
  2. The dude was looking for something good instead of something bad.
  3. The young man had faithfully followed what he had been taught to be true.
  4. But he had the sense to search for more.

What a great combo.

But Jesus gave him a gift. He offered a simple principle:

Learning stuff is not enough.

Investing your heart is where to start.

He told the young man that he should take his money and get rid of it–give it away to the poor, and make a new beginning.

For after all, even following our theological interpretation of him being a “rich young ruler,” if he forfeited his riches for a season, he was still young and he was still a ruler. He had plenty of time to make his money back again, and because he ruled over people, he could acquire their taxes and ingenuity. He could learn once again how to do it from scratch, and therefore rediscover his abilities and passion.

He didn’t want to do it. He walked away sadly.

It’s a great story, and it links up beautifully with Jesus blessing the children.

The young humans that surround us are the hope of finding the better parts of our message and applying them emotionally–not just spiritually.

Jesus looked on him and he loved him. He realized there was still a chance.

All the young fellow needed to do was accept that religious stuff was not enough–our heart is where it must start. 

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Three Ways to Be Thankful… November 27, 2014

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Thanks bigger

The ice has already been placed in glasses and is beginning to melt. Very soon the meticulous preparation–hours and hours of harvested treats–will be consumed in mere minutes.

They have asked me to lead in a moment of grace, thankfulness and prayer. I agreed.

I must be brief. Concise but precise.

I must be able to articulate, in a few seconds, the sentiment of gratitude for an entire year. Though a formidable task, a most necessary one.

So let me begin by saying:

“Dear God, I didn’t want to come this year.”

Nothing can be achieved in life without first being honest. I was feeling sorry for myself. The family I spawned, nurtured and raised from my passion is now spread out and far away. Worse than feeling disconnected from them, I have begun to feel useless.

I was once the “King Bee”–the center of attention and the source of the buzzing in a bustling nest. But now, due to the necessity of time and purpose, they have moved on to have their own families, dreams and aspirations.

I didn’t want to come because I was feeling vacant of value. For after all, a pity party is not only poorly attended, but also never gets much return business.

But here’s what I’m grateful for:

I didn’t miss it.

I’m here with as many bells as I could fasten on with short notice.

I’m here to play my role.

I’m here to be the aging patriarch who refuses to crawl into the mountains to die.

I didn’t miss it.

Thank you, God.

My second gratitude is that I won’t abandon principle.

Although the world around me persists in pursuing courses which have historically proven to be foolhardy, I will hold fast to a few pearls of great price and sell all I have to possess them.

This I know: the difference between an opinion and a principle is that an opinion only benefits me, and a principle provides for you.

So I will not kill, I will not steal and I will not destroy.

Although the world around me is feverishly involved in these practices, I won’t.

Thank you, God.

And finally (as I peek over to make sure the ice has not melted into water) I say, “I can’t.”

I can’t stop.

It’s important for me to accept the progress of these loved ones, as they continue at their own pace and rate of understanding. But because I want my grandchildren to live in a world that still honors truth, values justice without being cynical about it and has a desire to pursue excellence, I will continue to be a voice crying in the wilderness, saying, ‘Prepare ye the way’… well, prepare the way for You.

  • I didn’t miss it.
  • I won’t abandon principle.
  • I can’t stop.

So therefore, for the hands that have prepared the meal, much thanks.

For those who have gathered, how generous of them to provide their energy and time.

And for me–I am here for those I love until they finally carry me away.

Thanksgiving.

Thanks for giving.

We appreciate it.

Amen.

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. . . knew what to do … October 26, 2013

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five thousandCommittees can be powerful as long as they are headed by a visionary person of principle who reminds the gathered of the power of truth instead of giving in to convenience.

We should never throw a good idea aside, but also never embrace one when it has fallen by the wayside and is being maintained for the sake of tradition.

If they had held a committee meeting on a hill so many years ago when five thousand hungry people, who had been listening to teaching for days, were famished and in need of nourishment, the vote taken by the thirteen members of that body of consideration would have been to “send the folks away” and hope for the best. Even though a young itinerant minister named Jesus asked the opinion of his fellow-travelers, the story tells us that he, himself “knew what he was going to do.”

And because of his sense of mission and mercy, the folks were fed, using the resources of the reluctant committee members, stimulating their faith by giving them the chance to be part of a miraculous event–even though they might have voted against it.Abraham and cabinet

In 1861, a less-than-popular Abraham Lincoln ascended to the role of President of the United States. He surrounded himself with both advocates and critics, trying to form a government that would cohesively address the issue of slavery.

Yet I will tell you, if Abraham Lincoln had left the decision up to his Cabinet and Congress, we would be two nations today–one of them probably still having some form of sophisticated slave labor.

Abraham Lincoln knew what he was going to do–and somehow or another found a way to get those around him to come along and appear as if they were part of the solution instead of being entrenched in the problem.

Over and over again, throughout history, men and women of purpose and conscience have sat in front of committees, and rather than surrendering their leadership to the temporary will and often insanity of the popular opinion of the day, they guided their constituents to better conclusions.

gay rightsRecently, even in our country, on the justification of gay Americans to have civil rights, there has been a committee of those who have focused on the morality or normalcy of the issue instead of the liberty and justice that is required for all. Even in the face of such comprehensive division, we, the people, found the impetus to begin the journey to grant our citizens their due.

Do we all agree?

Absolutely not.

Is there a right and wrong here?

Often, my dear friends, freedom dictates that we abandon the notion of purity in favor of equality.

There is much to do in this country–and since we cling to a notion of democracy, it probably will require committees for accomplishment. But we do need those who chair the conclave of “deciders” to have an understanding of history, an appreciation of freedom and a stalwart will to abandon popularity in favor of posterity.

Can we find such individuals? Will we take the time to select leadership that will spur us to discover the inspirational choices … which will make our children call us blessed?

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Laughing or Lying … June 15, 2013

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smiling sonsI do wish I would have learned it sooner.

It would have been advantageous to apply this priceless principle to all seven of my sons in the process of training them to be human beings, instead of just sporadically stumbling upon the idea.

It’s really quite simple: people are much more likely to tell the truth in an atmosphere of levity, laughter and good cheer than they are in a climate of challenge, seriousness and intimidation.

It’s a mistake every parent has made. We scare our children away from telling the truth because we walk into the room with a stern face and ask them to sit down as we explain in vivid detail how important it is to share the real story, brows furrowed.

It scares the truth right out of them.

They will do anything in the world to change that disconsolate face in front of them back into an understanding, gentle parent-visage. They want to say the right thing, so in the process they end up saying the wrong thing: a lie.

You even see it in the Garden of Eden. God made the mistake of walking in and saying, “Why are you hiding from me?” instead of joking with them about how their fig-leaf aprons were not very attractive.

People tell the truth more quickly if they’re surrounded by the reassurance that nothing is going to be taken too seriously, and redemption is possible because joy is already present.

When I was in high school, a bunch of my friends would get together to laugh, and in no time at all, we were telling deep secrets to each other. But if anyone had walked in and in an austere voice demanded that we tell our stories and become transparent about our feelings, we would have returned to the Kingdom of Lying, telling tales we believed to be pleasing to our intruder.

Can I make it this simple? When it comes to human beings, it’s a choice between laughing or lying. If you can’t get people to relax through good cheer and laughter, realizing that nothing is the end of the world, they will always resort to some sort of misrepresentation of the facts, just to try to get things back to normal and hopefully, restore the comedy.

As I said, I wish I had learned this sooner–as a parent. There were times that I actually WAS tickled by how stupid my children’s actions were, so I mocked them, getting them to laugh over their misdeeds, and in no time at all they were confessing other wrong things they had done.

But every time I walked in with that growly face of disapproval, I scared them away from being open to me. No wonder people who believe in an angry God spend their whole lives in deception. It is not surprising that folks involved in a threatening relationship are constantly lying to one another.

Laughter or lying–it’s why I always try to get my audiences to “lighten up” and chuckle at the world around them, and even the world inside them. Then a release valve permits them to unload their real feelings instead of manufacturing safe choices.

So on the eve of this Father’s Day, keep in mind that you can try to be the big boss of your household and scare your family into submission, but what you’ll end up with are words thrown your way to please you … which usually have nothing to do with the real heart of the matter.

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I’m Looking For… A Christian Christian February 3, 2013

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Here’s a strange idea that continues to plague my mind:  for some reason, I think being a Christian should have something to do with Jesus.

There are those who would disagree with me–maybe not in principle, but certainly in application. For after all, if we really did have three or four billion people on this earth who “loved their neighbor as themselves” and “did unto others as they would have them do to themselves,” I think the ripple effect would be much more noticeable, don’t you?

So someone has slipped in, in the middle of a dispensation, and replaced the philosophical and spiritual aspects of the life of Jesus with an idol of religious rhetoric. Now, I will not speculate on guilty parties, nor will I point fingers at any particular group.

But beginning with my own mirror, I am on a quest to find a Christian Christian. They should have a desire to pursue the lifestyle of Jesus. First I’m going to tell you three things that Jesus didn’t do. When you find out what people refuse to participate in, you have a pretty good idea of the backbone of their conviction.

1. Jesus didn’t judge. Not only did he say not to judge, but he insisted that he could judge if he wanted to, and he would work on his judgment being fair and true–but still selected not to do so. Do you follow that? That would be like me saying, “Don’t jump off a cliff. Now, if I jumped off a cliff, facts are, I would bounce, but you know what? I’m still not gonna jump off a cliff.”

2. He didn’t act religious. If he had acted religious, the religious people would not have been upset with him. Matter of fact, he not only didn’t act religious himself, but generally speaking, had a habit of attacking all religious concepts that didn’t have a practical application to human life.

3. And finally, he didn’t preach. The strongest he got with an audience was to teach them, but most of the time when he was in their presence, he told them stories to draw parallels about life and how to live it better.

He didn’t judge, he didn’t act religious and he didn’t preach. Let me see: what would happen if we simply removed judging, self-righteousness and preaching from the Christian church? (Manna for thought…)

So what did he do? Jesus was a human who found a WAY to pursue the TRUTH, while living an abundant LIFE. There’s nothing wrong with having a WAY you live. There’s nothing wrong with believing that to be the TRUTH–as long as it culminates with you living out an abundant LIFE. After all, there’s nothing more obnoxious than someone who appears to be fairly miserable who invites you to come Sunday morning at 10:30 A.M. to discover his or her secret.

I’m looking for a Christian Christian. I have not given up; I am not pessimistic. When I find this individual, he or she will be a non-judgmental, non-religious, non-preaching human being who has found a way to pursue the truth, while living an abundant life.

Anything else would not be Christian because it wouldn’t resemble the life and times of Jesus.

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A Lying Tongue… August 29, 2012

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So I decided to count.

I took yesterday morning and focused on the number of times that I told fibs in the course of a three-hour period. Even though I was alerted to the scrutiny, at the end of my little session, I had to admit that I actually told three untruths. Isn’t that amazing? Even when I was aware that a spotlight was being put on my language, I still ended up producing a bit of dishonesty.

Why?

After all, it is one of those seven thing that God hates. It says right there in Proverbs that He just really despises “a lying tongue.” And the reason He does is because a lying tongue is always located just beneath “a proud look.” Every little piece of pride that we manufacture to justify our present form of behavior has to be backed up by a series of lies to keep it going and real. And even though pride displays arrogance, it is a symptom of insecurity–and insecurity is why we all lie.

I’m sure there are people who stretch the truth because they just enjoy deceiving others, but most occasions for a lack of candor have something to do with the fact that we are ashamed of our truth and at least want to embellish it and make it look prettier.

It was a great exercise for me. I am one to extol the value of “telling it like it is,” yet when it’s time for me to do that into the mirror or into the face of adversity, I am just as prone to escape to the “little white something-or-other.”

God hates a proud look. We talked about that last week. And because of the necessity of reinforcing that over-blown image, it becomes necessary to lie.

Politicians lie all the time–not because they are immoral by birth. It’s because they find themselves needing to make promises when such proclamations are ridiculous and impossible. Thus, lies.

So a proud look breeds a lying tongue and a lying tongue exists because we have selected pride instead of simply standing behind the evidence of our fruitfulness. If you are going to be able to escape the pride that is born of ego, which leads to a lying tongue, you will need to come to three very specific personal conclusions:

1. It’s okay to be less than what people want me to be. Most of us become mentally imbalanced because we’re trying to live up to an expectation from other people which they, themselves, neither live nor pursue. If every person who was moral was truly moral, then morality might seem to be a good banner for a campaign for a better society. But the people who claim to be moral are always exposed for some of the greatest immorality. We should not rejoice over their failures, but we should be forewarned that arrogance leads to deception and lying, which always culminates in exposure.

I know that my family and friends hoped that I would be famous and rich. That was never meant to be. I have a message, not a product. If I had merely a product, I could hone in on it and make sure it was perfectly adjusted and fine-tuned to the tastes of the society around me. But having a message, I must be sensitive to history, reality and truth, and therefore, I do not gain immediate acclaim. I decided early in life that I would rather share a message that actually transforms human thought than produce a product that merely panders to it. So to me, it’s okay to be less than what the people around me want me to be. I don’t have to lie about the fact that I don’t have a college education–I can be honest that what I am is the by-product of what I have experienced, the sweat of my struggle and the blessing that God has given me by His grace.

2. Stop thinking about the right thing to say and test-drive honesty. The reason I use the phrase “test-drive” is that at first, you may only be able to say it in a room by yourself, then maybe to one other person who loves you. But eventually you have to be candid. It takes practice. It took me a long time to admit I was fat and not terribly attractive without either having a tear come to my voice or looking around the room for someone to contradict me.

Test-drive honesty. Start today. If you don’t, you’ll get behind the wheel of your life and steer yourself right into the ditch–and the ditch always involves some form of lying.

3. And finally, don’t wait to be attacked. Beat your critics to the punch. In the pursuit of self-esteem, we seem to have lost the power of self-deprecation.  If I notice my weaknesses before my adversaries are able to turn them into a slide-show, I retain the power. If my weaknesses are ignored by me and divulged by those who have less concern for my well-being, I am at the mercy of public opinion. If you want to know who I am and you haven’t figured it out by reading my jonathots, just ask me. Or for that matter, spend twenty minutes around me, and in that length of time you will know my weaknesses and my strengths.

The reason we lie is that we are protecting our pride. The reason we’re proud is because we are somewhat insecure that what we believe is really going to win the day. That’s as simple as it gets. So every politician who lies is really attempting to protect his or her pride, which means they are insecure about what they are telling us they are capable of achieving. See what I mean?

I am going to tell you the four things I can do. This is the truth, as far as I know.

1. I can fail. Even when my feet are set in the direction of prosperity and an inclination towards good, the luck of the draw or time and chance can withhold my reward.

2. I am not what you want me to be. I know that will disappoint you at some point or another. I apologize. Yet I need you to know that my job is not to please you, but to find a way to please myself enough that the love sprouting from my innards can be expressed to the world around me.

3. I am not satisfied with my talent. No–it is not enough for me to do what I am doing. Rather, I gain a sense of passion by multiplying my gifts, and in so doing, define what it really means to be a human being.

4. I am not better than anyone else. If you have seen people do stupid things, please understand that I am equally capable of the achievement. If you’ve seen folks excel, please allow me to opportunity. NoOne is better than anyone else. We have built a nation on that principle. Yet we manifest our American hypocrisy by departing from it whenever we want to extol our conservative nature or uplift our liberalism.

There you go–God hates a lying tongue. He hates it because it comes out of a proud look. God is not mean, He just doesn’t want His people to be so insecure that they have to be prideful and end up lying about it.

Are you ready to be vulnerable, so that you don’t have to be caught with your pants down? Let’s be honest–when you’re caught with your pants down, lying just won’t help.

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