Good News and Better News … August 15th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Bauchman name tags

Name tags hanging from a peg board

 

 

Bauchman treat table

Coffee awaiting the faithful

 

 

 

 

Bauchman door windows

 

Beautiful mahogany walls with colored glass

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Bauchman stained glass window

 

A skylight, welcoming the sunshine from the heavens

 

 

 

 

Another Sunday morning in America.

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

Busy folks.

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

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

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

The Jesonian church is meant to be an organism.

Here’s the difference:

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

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

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

1. Emotional food

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

2. Spiritual food

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

3. Mental food

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

4. Physical food

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

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

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

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

 

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Testing the Repair … September 6, 2012

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Confusion is a bad thing. It tends to make us frustrated and lazy. It should be avoided. But how can you avoid confusion without either developing some sort of “pie in they sky” philosophy, or walking around so disgruntled that you put the entire human community on edge?

Here’s what I do–I relate everything to me. I know that may sound arrogant, so let me qualify. I try to envision any situation in the world around me and compare it to something about me or something I’ve experienced.

So when people talk about education, I pursue learning and personal instruction in matters that will enlighten me and make my choices more informed. When people talk about food and healthy selections, I go to the grocery store and look around for things that fall within the spectrum of what is considered to be nourishing, and from those particular possibilities I grab my personal favorites to form my diet. When people talk about God, I envision a father much like myself, who through trial and error is trying to do the best for his children in instructing them while continuing to love them at all times.

So when they talk to me about politics and business, I don’t let my head spin with a bunch of statistics being offered by both Republicans and Democrats, who are promoting their cause and agenda. Instead, I like to take the situation happening in our economy and apply it to my own life–thereby getting a deeper understanding. Let me hush up with the explanation and give you an example.

I told you earlier in the week that I was “leaky”–that is, my radiator. Well, it turns out it needed to be replaced. Now, I don’t know much about radiators, so I contacted some friends and asked their opinions. You might call them my “advisors.” I got four different outlooks on the issue.

One friend insisted that I needed to take it to a dealership because they were the only ones who completely understood my vehicle, and I shouldn’t enlist some local repair shop, even if it cost me more to go to the big guy.

Another of my counselors asked me if the van was presently leaking. I explained that some friends in South Lyon had put some Stop Leak in it and that it was not dripping any fluid at all. He just laughed and said some variation of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  I think it was, “If it don’t leak, don’t plug it.”

A third friend I conferred with said I should go out and get it welded, or sautered, or whatever they do–get it repaired. It would be cheaper. For after all, he said, there was no need to throw away ninety per cent of a good radiator just because ten per cent was being fussy.

And the final person I spoke to thought I should go to a junk yard, find an old van and remove the radiator from that vehicle and place it into my transportation–because it would be cheaper, even though I would have to put on my rummaging shoes.

Please understand, I took all four perspectives into account. Each one of them was pretty sure he was giving me superb advice. I suppose I could have taken each particular maneuver, applied it and achieved some level of success. Instead, I pursued a fifth option.

I found a reputable repair shop and had them put on a new radiator. It was expensive. I realized if I paid all that money for the radiator and it ended up not working very well or something else broke down in the next few weeks, I would be compiling great financial turmoil for myself and probably end up looking pretty stupid.

Bold maneuvers always put you on top of a mountain, where it’s hard to escape being peered at by the congregation below. So if I bought this radiator and it went well, within a few weeks I would be so happy that I was cruising along without fear of my Stop Leak giving up its “stop,” or my junkyard radiator being junk, or my repaired water holder being irreparable, or paying even more by having the reassurance of a dealership.

I had to risk looking stupid to give myself a new, fresh opportunity. Even as I drive down the road today, heading towards Indiana from Michigan, I am not out of the woods. Every mile is a test-drive of my decision on how to repair my van.

The holes in the radiator were not my fauilt.I don’t feel guilty that the problem came up. I don’t feel responsible that it occurred “on my watch” instead of the time-clock of the former owner. I just want to make sure that I give myself the best chance to resolve the situation, even though my wallet took a hit and I put myself in a vulnerable position, where if something else goes wrong, I might just end up looking stupid. Remember–“smart” is often “stupid” which survived the trial. Do you see my point?

I think the same thing is true in our country. The last thing in the world we need in the US of America right now is an election. What we really require is a revival of common sense.

We need our teachers to instruct in subjects that will prepare the students for a real-life situation in this twenty-first-century global economy.

We need corporations to stop sitting on profit margins, contriving new bonuses, but instead, taking the good old-fashioned capitalist risk of venturing into new schemes which will require more employees.

We need politicians to stop campaigning and start considering ways to make ideas functional, even though often when you implement them they may seem scary at first because you do not know if they will actually take care of the repair.

And we need ministers and spiritual people in this country to stop plugging religion and give us the impetus and motivation to believe that “NoOne is better than anyone else” and that we are the only “we” that is available at this time in this season for this situation.

What do I think about America? I think we decided to do something four years ago, as a nation, by a majority, and now we’ve got a little “buyer’s remorse.” As I drive along today, I am hoping that my choice on how to repair my van is going to hold up and work. Any good American should be feeling the same way about the choices we’ve made to repair this country and its economy. It doesn’t mean other things won’t come up. It doesn’t mean we won’t need each other for further counsel–to tweak the solution. It just means that sometimes, all you can do is choose the best you can and then work with your best guess.

I do not condone either party or support either candidate. I know this–as in the case of the radiator on my van, every choice I made had its good points and bad points. I made a choice. Yes, I gave my van a stimulus program. We’ll see if it works. And if it doesn’t, I’m going to need those friends who gave me their input, to help me find a way to reclaim a new solution. And if it does work, I need to humbly bow my head in prayer and thank my Father for being merciful to this child.

It’s time for Americans to stop fighting. Hang in there with each other; make some subtle changes–but test out the repair. It took us eight years to screw up the economy–and the people who did it weren’t bad. It’s just that their repair didn’t hold up. But since it took eight years to get in trouble, I don’t know whether we can expect to escape in four.

  • What we need are people who will believe without demanding that their opinions be supreme.
  • What we require is faith in one another.
  • What we don’t need is to tear our nation apart over tiny points of legalism and end up with too much to prove for any good to come of it.

So here I go–my confusion about the United States has been clarified by a decision I had to make this week about a radiator. Am I right? Am I wrong? I won’t know until I test the repair.

But I do know this–whatever happens, I won’t blame anyone, including myself. I’ll just take the next better idea that comes along, thank whoever gave it to me, and make it my own.

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Leaky… September 3, 2012

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I don’t like to be vulnerable. I understand the importance of it; I appreciate that we best express our humanity one to another by admitting our foibles and allowing others to get a quick peek into the cellar of our disappointment. It doesn’t make it any more pleasant, though. Especially when you’re traveling on the road and touring, you need to be careful not to come across desperate, needy or cloying. I don’t ever want anyone to contribute to my work on the road because they’re afraid that my bald tires will blow out on the freeway as I leave town.

That’s why it was difficult yesterday in South Lyon, Michigan, when I was sitting in my green room preparing for the morning’s activities, and a spry, bright-eyed gentleman walked in and told me that my van was leaking from the radiator. I wasn’t upset with the news. I wasn’t nervous or concerned about the repair. After all, if you drive a vehicle around the country, you will have a certain amount of expense to maintain it. I just don’t like the sensation of coming across as a vagabond with no means of caring for my own needs.

Let me make something clear–at no time did this fine gentleman ever cause me to feel diminished. It was all in my head. So I put it out of my mind, went into the morning service and had a grand time with these outrageously inspired individuals. During the service, the gentleman who had discovered our radiator leak asked for help after the conclusion of the morning’s program, to assist us in putting our van in good enough shape to send us on our way. So while I had the blessing of interfacing with the audience, three or four of the men from the church went out and ministered to my Ford. They were astute, aware and qualified.

So by the time I finished trying to give a collective hug to the entire congregation and made my way out to my transportation, these gentlemen already had everything under control. They had filled it up with “Stop Leak,” told me of some needful repair, and I was on my way.

As I drove towards my lodging, I still had those misgivings–about being too open and available. But then I came to the realization that if I hadn’t been “leaky,” those fine folks would have had no way of expressing their affection, mercy and graciousness to me.

  • I want to be powerful. (Sometimes God needs me to appear less.)
  • I want to be large and in charge. (God often recommends the lower seat.)
  • I want to appear manly and full of promise. (As I’m aging, a limp is being added to my walk, to temper my stride.)
  • I want to have the privilege of making my own decisions in my own way. (I find strength in a multitude of counselors.
  • I want to believe I can handle all of my own mishaps without intervention. (God sends angels to me and I must learn to recognize them–otherwise, I miss my piece of heaven.)
  • I want to be free of leaks. (I’m often just a big drip.)

I realized that I was asking this congregation yesterday morning to expose themselves, open their hearts, show their fears and discuss possibilities on how to plug up the holes in their lives. I was expecting them to do this without I, myself, ever presenting my own lacking. Oh, I am very willing to be self-deprecating or even forthcoming, but in some areas I like to maintain control.

Areas like my radiator.

But “he that would gain his life will lose it, and he that will lose his life shall gain it.” Temporarily yesterday, I lost control of my van. It was put into the capable hands of intelligent, caring brothers. I closed down my ego and I opened up the potential for receiving generosity. Because of that, it was a better day.

Here’s the truth: Mitt Romney is leaky. Barack Obama is leaky.  My dear God, Jesus was leaky. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, pleading for a better solution, while God watched his blood to drip onto the ground. We’re not looking for people who aren’t leaky. We’re looking for folks who will allow others to help them.

I had a blessing in South Lyon which actually enabled me to become more of a blessing to them. I am leaky.

When I try to plug those on my own, I lose the benefit of showing a part of myself that is more relevant to those who are searching for greater humanity … and less deception.

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