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

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Reverend Meningsbee

Pas Carl had family all over the world.

That’s what Meningsbee had decided. Matter of fact, it was so comical that he started a list of all the alleged relatives.

There was an aunt who lived in New York City, a great uncle from San Francisco, a third cousin who was a whale hunter in Alaska, a half-brother who lived in Key West, Florida and a godfather who lived in (you guessed it) Rome, Italy.

The most recent surprise was an announcement that an aunt from Houston, Texas, was coming to town and wanted permission to share with the ladies at the church about a program she conducted called “Turning Dreamers into Doers.” Her name was Shannon Tremaine. She was an author.

Pas Carl believed that she and Meningsbee would have a lot to talk about. But Meningsbee was in no mood for additional encounters. The events surrounding Carla’s departure had finished off any remaining pornography in his life, like an atomic bomb landing and obliterating all life in sight. He was definitely not lusting.

But he was also not passionate. He had lost the drive–whatever that truly was. He had tremendous memories of what he wanted to do and even what he could do, with no desire to actually do it anymore.

So he offered no objection to Pas Carl’s aunt coming to share with the women, but let the young man know that he wanted limited involvement. He was resetting his spiritual clock. Even though Carl did not know what that meant, he thanked Meningsbee and left the office.

Meningsbee had gone through this once before in his life, right after Doris died. There are three clocks inside every person, Meningsbee felt. One sets the timing on survival. The second is the world around us, dictating time. But the third is a watch, to let us know when we’re in sync with ourselves and God.

Meningsbee knew very well that the first clock was off. His sense of survival was weak, his passion energy almost nil. And his fight was overshadowed by a specter of fear.

He was going through the motions–on the schedule being dictated to him by friends, the church, the town and circumstances. He was following a time clock instead of following an ideal.

He seemed to be doing it well. People were complimentary. Some folks even noticed that he appeared to be looking healthier. But he had lost his timing with God. The Spirit was still contacting, but he was missing the calls. His mind was drifting when it needed to be focused, and his wishfulness had overtaken his willingness.

He knew the symptoms. He just didn’t know if he could escape the disease. He had barely been able to do it after he lost his love. It took writing his book, “The Jesus Church,” to shake him and wake him up to the greater needs around him.

At that time, he just got tired of seeing sensible people lose out to shouters and detractors. He grew weary of watching the words of Jesus being turned into a cardboard religion, pre-fabricated and lacking its original soul. And he was very, very upset that the younger generation had gained its sense of purpose by denying the purpose they had with their Creator.

“The Jesus Church” pulled him out of his nosedive into oblivion. But by no means was he in the mood to write another book, and he certainly wasn’t going to become youthful and optimistic again.

No, the only way an aging man can continue to believe in faith is to deny many of the realities around him–but rather than making him foolish or ignorant, hope carves off years of scars, leaving fresh skin.

He was in the midst of considering his transformation when he met Shannon Tremaine. She was forty-seven years old. He knew that because it was one of the first things that popped out of her mouth. She could have passed for thirty-five, but she wanted everybody to know that age was insignificant. What mattered was the spark.

She was so well-received at the women’s meeting that they begged her to stay two more weeks and hold seminars. By the end of the two weeks, she had gathered a crowd of nearly a hundred souls from the community, to come and hear her message.

Meningsbee felt compelled to attend one of the sessions to see what was drawing all of these ladies. It was on a Thursday night in the church basement, with almost sixty-five women in attendance, that Pastor Meningsbee sat down and listened for the first time to Shannon Tremaine.

She was passionate. She was emotional. She was driven. She was saucy. She was iron. And simultaneously, she was as soft as cotton. In a moment of time, she unveiled the tenderness she had for each person in the room.

Her message was clear: politics gives you false hope, an education gives you a degree, religion steals your will to excel and your family will limit your possibilities. The only friend you have is truth, and the reason it is known to make you free is because it liberates you from the need to lie.

She went on to explain that the three great lies always began with the same words: (1) I couldn’t because… (2) I am not suited… (3) I don’t have the time.

Shannon electrified the room–a space normally used for potluck dinners and storage. She was not a typical motivational speaker, relying on props, slogans and testimonials to portray her vision. She just spoke it into existence, and her words were so much a part of her that they were believable.

It reminded Meningsbee of the statement in the Good Book, when it says that the people “were astonished” at Jesus because he addressed them “with authority.” Not domineering, just well-traveled.

The end of her meeting that night was almost like a revival. Women came to the front of the room in tears, and departed clapping their hands. She promised a personal word–a mantra of sorts–for each one of them and did not fail to deliver.

At the end, she slowly walked over to Pastor Meningsbee and said, “Even though you did not come up to the front, would you like a personal word also?”

Meningsbee paused. She waited a moment to give him a chance to think, but then inserted, “To delay receiving a blessing is either saying you’re not worthy of it or you don’t want it. Now, which one is it, Richard?”

He was surprised that she used his first name. He liked the way she said it.

“I guess,” he said, “I would have to say that I don’t want to feel unworthy by being offered a blessing.”

She smiled. “My word for you is really easy. The position of savior has already been filled. You may have heard of him. We call him Jesus. At no time have I ever heard him referred to as Richard.”

Meningsbee interrupted her. “I’m not trying to be a savior.”

She interrupted right back. “That’s true. You think you are the savior, and shouldn’t have to try so hard.”

Meningsbee looked her right in the eye and said, “What’s wrong with wanting to save people?”

She stared right back at him. “Because not even Jesus can do that. Jesus said he came. Jesus said he shared. Jesus said he gave. But when he was done coming, sharing and giving, he was hanging on a cross. I wouldn’t call that successful, would you? But fortunately, he went from being a dreamer to a doer, because his resurrection proved his point.

“I don’t know you real well, Richard Meningsbee, but I tell you–you’re dead. And I’ve seen many dead men. And unfortunately, I’ve run across very few who were able to admit it, climb in the tomb for a few days, and get resurrected.”

She looked around the room, realizing that nobody was left, and said, “I guess it’s just us. This is my last night in town. If you’re ever looking for a new dream to do, come to Houston. I can use you.”

She leaned up on her tiptoes and gave him a sweet, tender kiss on the lips. She patted his face and walked away.

Richard stood completely still in the middle of the basement of the Garsonville Community Church, afraid to move.

 

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G-Poppers … February 17th, 2017

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Feelings.

They normally travel around with a forlorn adjective: hurt. Hurt feelings.

It is the most common malady of humans–even more prevalent than the cold.

Feelings are hurt for one simple reason: each one of us feels that we are more important and valuable than what others may feel at any given moment.

99% of the conflicts between nations are based on hurt feelings. Some of those painful emotions go back generations.

And even though we try to use education and religion to tamp down our need for recognition, deep within our hearts, we want to be treasured instead of trashed.

So we fight.

We argue.

We struggle.

We promote our value in comparison to the worth of others.

So we start grasping at subtle differences like skin color, sexual orientation and even gender.

  • “You can’t be as good as me because you’re a woman.”
  • You aren’t my equal because you’re black.”
  • “I’m more important because I’m an American.”

G-Pop wonders if his readers might want to become part of the solution instead of clogging up the train station heading to confusion.

It’s really simple: walk into your heart and fire apathy–as you hire appreciation.

Everyone needs the grace of gratitude.

The amount we receive determines how much fuel we have to fire up our engines toward success–or crash down in revenge.

G-Pop thinks it boils down to a sip, a cup and a bucket.

1. A sip: “Thanks.”

That just cools the dry, complaining, achy throat of anyone who is tired of being unappreciated.

2. A cup: “Thanks, we could not have done this without you.”

Not only cooled, but a quenching of the aggravation over a history of being used.

3. A bucket: “Thanks. You are just so freakin’ awesome.”

Now you’re tying generosity into the power of their character. It drenches them in joy.

Of course, you can overdo the bucket and you can under-do the sip. But if you’re wondering why human relationships don’t work, it’s because the fluid of thankfulness that should be flowing among us has dried up in favor of the desert of distance and ignorance.

G-Pop will tell you that most of us humans need at least a cup of appreciation a day. That’s a lot of sips–but certainly can be handled with one bucket.

The next person you meet will be parched from the lack of gratitude. He or she feels they’re important.

God has not given you the job to humble others, but instead, to moisten their feelings with legitimate appreciation.

 

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G-Poppers … February 3rd, 2017

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G-Pop loves math.

He hates mathematics.

When he discovered that things could be added together, arriving at a sum, he found the experience to be practical.

Even subtraction had its appeal because after all, things come and things go.

Multiplication opened the door to expansion–blessing.

But then, division. Even as a young boy, G-Pop wondered what the power was of being divisive.

Thus began the journey, or dare we say head trip–into mathematics.

After division came algebra, where letters were substituted for numbers. Go figure.

Then geometry–everything analyzed from the position of points. Unfortunately, it seemed rather pointless to G-Pop.

Trigonometry was an angle on triangles, and calculus–well, G-Pop couldn’t even understand the definition.

Somewhere along the line, the educational system went from providing useful tidbits to compiling data, only applicable if you happened to be building your own rocket to the moon.

It is an obsession in our country–a religion, if you will–to worship knowledge.

Deep in our souls we understand that the purpose of knowing is to do and not just posture. But we still insist on touting egregious amounts of theorems and addendums to convince those around us that we have reached a higher level of comprehension.

I feel we do the same thing in the entertainment field. Rather than telling a story to enlighten, inspire or even mystify, we choose to pull out some extraordinary circumstance and present it, through theater, as if it’s the pending doom threatening the planet.

How about politics? We decide we want to build a bridge so we put together a 2,000-word report, which becomes a 4,000-word bill with amendments.

Sometimes it just seems we’re trying to justify the purpose for college degrees and give printers a way to pay their mortgage.

Certainly in religion, we’ve completely lost sight of what adds to us, what subtracts from us, and how we multiply. So the end result is, we’re completely divided.

We’ve lost the ability to understand that once you depart from the Golden Rule, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you’re basically interpreting dreams. For the Golden Rule is the total union of love of God, love of self, and love of other humans.

Instead, we want to talk about the Trinity, the seed of David, the order of angels, the make-up of heaven, the interpretation of the Book of Revelation, the Tabernacle of David, and exactly which sins are unacceptable, forbidding someone from entering the Kingdom, and which ones get a wink.

G-Pop is not against knowledge, but just as you have to get a degree to prove you have education, knowledge must prove that it has a degree of value to the human cause to continue to be revered.

If your belief in God goes any further than “love your neighbor as yourself,” you’ve crawled down the rabbit hole with Alice–to Wonderland.

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Jesonian… January 21st, 2017

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They tried.

They really, really tried.

Once folks discovered that Jesus of Nazareth was interested in love, mercy, peace and God, they attempted to make connection with him by being religious.

They couldn’t understand an itinerant minister who was so against organized theology that he hid out in the hills in the middle of the week, fellowshipping with folks, only descending to the synagogue on Saturday, to find more brothers and sisters.

Yet they tried.

First came Nicodemus, a Pharisee. He began his dialogue with Jesus by saying, “We know you are a teacher from God because you do such amazing works.”

He was a victim of church talk. He didn’t know how to chat like “real people.” He was hoping that he and Jesus could compliment one another and ruminate over the unknown questions of the universe, departing satisfied that they were both educated men.

Jesus ignored his religion and told Nicodemus that he needed to be “born again.”

It pissed the old cleric off.

On another occasion, Jesus was sitting at a well in Samaria when a woman with a history of multiple husbands, now living with a man, came to draw water. When, through conversation, she realized that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, she began a religious argument–whether the Jews or the Samaritans were right. Here she was, a totally secular woman with no real understanding of the essence of God. But once she decided she was dealing with a religious adversary, she waxed ecclesiastical.

Jesus ignored her.

He told her to go get her husband.

He told her he had living water.

He told her that where we worship is not important–it’s how we worship that rings our bells.

And we must not forget the rich young ruler, who was so confident in his financial status that he felt the only thing he lacked was assurance that he had procured eternal life. He felt certain that Jesus was the person to ask about the afterlife.

“What must I do to inherit heaven?”

After a few minutes of back and forth, Jesus told him to go out, sell everything he had and give it to the poor. This was not the answer the pious young ruler wanted. So he left, sad.

Any further study of Jesus’ interactions with religious people of his day will give you a comprehensive awareness that all of them–all of the encounters–to some degree were failures.

Because the things that religious people need to do they don’t want to do:

  • Like Nicodemus, they do not want to personalize their salvation to be individually born again.
  • Like the woman at the well, they want to worship but not discover the “Spirit and the truth” of their praise.
  • And like the rich young ruler, they would rather memorize passages than generously give from their substance.

Whenever you bring religion to Jesus, he will challenge it–even attack it.

So do yourself a favor.

Skip the step.

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Good News and Better News… January 16th, 2017

 

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good-news-glasses

If you don’t have the right outlook, you better “look out,” because trouble’s coming.

Everybody knows that.

But sometimes we think we can maintain a bad attitude and still expect good results.

Or we believe it’s not necessary for us to do any more than we’ve already done. God, Nature and people should just be happy we showed up.

Jesus doesn’t mingle well with other religions.

For instance, there’s no such thing as a Christian Buddhist. Jesus taught us to feel; Buddha suggested it was completely unnecessary. Never the twain shall meet.

There is no such thing as Judeo-Christian. Moses espoused an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” and Jesus required that we creatively find ways to love our enemies.

And there is certainly no spiritual common ground between Christianity and the Muslim faith. Whereas the Muslims are the children of Abraham and the followers of Mohammed, Jesus was quite insistent that He existed long before either of them.

Christianity is not a temperamental faith, but it is a faith that addresses our temperament. And if you’re going to assist human beings in achieving their goals and becoming better citizens, you must first and foremost teach them to open their hearts.

Yes. We are all emotional people.

It doesn’t matter what culture you come from–any attempt to disguise or dampen the emotions will leave the individual imbalanced.

So if we try to have church without giving everybody an emotional experience, what we’re really advertising is a study group with hymn singing.

No wonder we’re having some trouble with attendance.

  • People need to connect.
  • They need to feel.
  • They need to realize that someone else in the room cares about them.

The Bible needs a face. Yours will do.

But right now, we spend too much time spiritualizing, meditating and promoting Zumba classes. All these things can be wonderful, if they undergird an emotional experience.

Our outlook comes from our feelings, maturing in our spirit, renewing our mind and affecting our life choices.

The good news is that Jesus said “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

The better news is that when we plump up the abundance of our heart with feelings of goodness, we just talk better.

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Good News and Better News… January 9th, 2017

 

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It is reported that animals can smell fear.

I do not know if this particular “sniffology” is passed along in the human family, but I am fully aware as I travel and interact with my brothers and sisters, that there’s a strong apprehension in the air.

It’s not so much an odor as it is a loss of confidence and a disconcerting sense that doom looms too close to the home fires.

So in a season when the church should be rallying from its stagnancy because of the yearning of the human spirit to relieve tension, our ranks still seem to be filing out the back door.

There are those in theology who conclude that it’s due to a lack of serious religious reflection, and others who believe that we’ve not yet struck the right chord with the younger generation concerning traditions and the teaching offered for their children.

If you will allow me, I will tell you:

  • We have too much God and not enough Father.
  • Too much Christ and not enough Jesus.

It’s similar to a chemistry teacher who constantly gives tests on formulas while never having the students do lab work.

Church is boring because the idea of God is stifling.

Church seems insipid because a Christ who offers eternal salvation doesn’t give us a Jesus who offers us Earth solutions.

We are stymied.

For fear of losing our “worship credentials,” we have sacrificed our human appeal.

The heavenly Father is a Creator, not a manufacturer. Not everything can be taught in a six-week series from the pulpit as we expound upon every reference in the Bible about love, and hope that folks will draw a pious conclusion.

Jesus was our brother–tempted as we are in every way and touched by our infirmities long before he became salvation through the cross. Thirty-three years of life can not be ignored because of three hours at Golgotha.

Until we have more of the Father and an abundance of Jesus, our churches will be full of dead men’s bones and promises that seem to have been “rain checked” until after death.

The good news is that God is our Father, Jesus is our brother and the Holy Spirit is not a ghost.

The better news is that the Holy Spirit has come to remind us about the goodness of our Father and the genius of Jesus.

 

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Ask Jonathots … December 29th, 2016

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ask jonathots bigger

I am so frustrated. What happened in 2016??

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

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

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

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

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

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

It created a caustic environment.

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

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

So what is civility?

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

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

2. Listening means shutting up.

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

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

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

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

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

5. Practice kindness whenever you can.

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

In 2016, rights became more important than civility.

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

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

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