G-Poppers … February 23rd, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop looked on with a bit of sadness as social media lit up with posts about evangelist Billy Graham.

Many of them were cruel. Matter of fact, an inordinate number were laced with vindictive language and resentment against the deceased Reverend.

He lived for ninety-nine years, so trying to abridge his life into one space of time is completely impossible. So the last generation only has insights on the occasional press release which came from his home in North Carolina and the actions of his son, Franklin Graham.

G-Pop feels the same way about Billy Graham as he does about Michael Jackson. G-Pop is not sure either one of them would appreciate the comparison, but every person’s life, including Michael and Billy, comes down to two questions.

What did he or she do?

What did he or she miss?

Can it be as simple as the good doings outweighing the bad, which means someone ends up righteous?

Yes. Any other standard would be prejudicial.

What did Billy Graham do? He preached the Gospel to the whole world. Granted, it was a particular gospel–focused mainly on repenting of sin, accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior and being baptized. Therefore he missed the greater glories of the Gospel of Jesus:

  • Abundant life
  • Mercy to others in order to obtain mercy
  • Refusing to judge fellow humans
  • Wise to stay away from politics.

Michael Jackson arguably wrote the most unique blend of R & B and pop music ever penned. The tunes were filled with humanity, generosity, giving, joy and tolerance. We also have to note that he missed the opportunity to learn to love himself or accept who he was, and in the process may have accidentally damaged the lives of some young people because he was abused as a child.

Billy Graham stayed married to the same woman and was never involved in a sexual scandal throughout his entire ministry.

Yet he missed the opportunity to link arms with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and failed to encourage the South to join the North, East and West to accept civil rights in this country.

He missed the moment when the gay community sought equality as citizens, and instead evaluated them by his moral code and traditions, dating back thousands of years.

Michael Jackson was generous, childlike and desperately tried to address world hunger while simultaneously destroying himself through drug abuse.

It would be terrible if Dr. Billy Graham were to be known as “Billy Graham Cracker.”

Just as horrible would be “Michael Jackson, child molester.”

G-Pop thinks both of these men established that they had hearts to do more good than bad. The weakness of each one showed up at poor times in their personal histories, but with confidence, G-Pop will continue to respect their journeys.

So every time G-Pop hears the old hymn, “Just as I am without one plea,” he will think of the love, efforts and mission of Billy Graham of North Carolina.

And when G-Pop hears Beat It, Billy Jean and Man in the Mirror, his eyes will tear up over the memory of one of the greatest talents that ever inhabited the Earth.

If G-Pop expects this same quarter when he dies–to be evaluated by what he’s done, minus what he missed, hoping for a positive total–then he must first extend that grace to others.

We must first extend that grace to others.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 26) A Psalm of David … and Jack – October 23rd, 2016


 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

David was one of the young host who invaded the Garsonville Church, sitting near the front altar on a vigil for a lost friend.

After that eventful Sunday, he and two other members of the high school started to attend.

He was what nicer Nebraskans refered to as a “soft boy.” He seemed to favor activities with less dirt and muscle. Now, the more aggressive Nebraskans, many attending his school. called him a queer–a fag.

David didn’t argue–just adopted many of the mannerisms and catch phrases of the gay community, not necessarily because he was born with that sensibility, but because he was only fifteen years old and welcomed any identity.

David immediately found a place for himself in the body of believers. He made it his mission to ensure that every Sunday morning, the holy foyer was filled with art–paintings, as it were–some masterful knockoffs and others done by the third grade class from the Wintermute Elementary School.

His displays played to mixed reviews among the congregation. Some of the pew-sitters felt it was inappropriate, and others actually joined in and brought some of their own made-up drawings.

David was faithful.

David was searching.

David was a sponge looking for a wet spot.

Jack was an adorable alcoholic. That’s what his family called him. He was one of those drinkers that got happier the more the liquor moved toward his liver.

And move it did–so much so that during one binge of whiskey and gin, he was rushed to the hospital with alcohol poisoning, and after many tests they discovered he was in the midst of liver failure and in need of a transplant.

This seemed to scare the hell out of Jack, leaving a hole ready for Jesus, so Meningsbee was called to come and witness to the once happy-go-lucky town drunk.

Meningsbee didn’t say much of anything; actually, Jack did the talking. And like many sinners who are eventually saved by grace, hearing his own story out loud, for perhaps the first time, sent him into a fit of weeping and a season of repenting.

Jack was born again in Room 315 of the Garsonville Community Hospital, with tubes poking out of almost every orifice on his body.

Jack never got strong enough to attend church. He was given the good news that there was a liver available for him, and before he knew it, was on the operating table, praying for a fresh start.

These two souls of God, David and Jack, collided one night in the same hospital at the same time, in similar conditions.

David arrived because he had been invited to a party, and in a moment of weakness, trying to make friends, overdosed on a cocktail of drugs which had been tossed into a punchbowl and dissolved, for the consumption of teenage fools.

His heart stopped three times on the way to the hospital and he was now on life support.

Jack’s operation was successful, but he fell victim to a serious and potentially lethal infection, which had him back on the table, doctors desperately trying to save his life.

Meningsbee sat in the waiting room on a hard, yellow, plastic chair, purchased during the Eisenhower Administration.

Both families, empty of words, had taken their leave and gone to the chapel to pray.

Meningsbee was alone with his thoughts. It was always on such occasions that he wondered if there really was a supernatural order directing a plan.

Was God really in the room with His angels, watching over the frail forms of David and Jack?

Had the Angel of Death arrived along with the Angel of Mercy, to take them home?

Or was it all just some sort of collage of grace, medical technology and just pure dumb luck determining the outcome?

Meningsbee found contentment that there was no answer. Just as an ant never discovers what is beyond its own hill, human beings likewise have much freedom but little insight.

The hours passed. It was touch and go.

At first they thought David still had good brain function and feared that Jack had lost too much blood to survive the repair.

The night wound on.

Five minutes after all the prayer warriors discovered that Jack had pulled through and was going to barely make it, they were told by the doctors that David had been assessed as brain-dead.

Two families stood side-by-side, digesting different news.

Jack’s family was careful not to express too much elation and relief, knowing that David’s mother and father were on the verge of collapse. Lacking words, fatigued by prayer, hampered by doubt and in the human state of confusion, they simply turned to one another and embraced.

David’s mom and dad made the agonizing decision to pull the plug and let him go home. He lived for ten minutes.

Reverend Meningsbee had one last prayer.

He hoped David would be granted a great space in the foyer of heaven…to display his art.

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Confessing … May 9th, 2015


 

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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I.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

Some years ago, my two sons joined a junior high soccer team at their school–a program which was a perennial loser.

It turns out that my fellows were quite good and joined others in rejuvenating the team to victory.

It was very exciting. I don’t believe I ever missed a game.

On one Thursday afternoon, I was sitting in the stands with family members and a bunch of other excited parents as our home team literally obliterated the other visiting squad, 12-1.

The boys were so thrilled.

Everybody was jumping up and down, shouting and hollering, with all sorts of victory catcalls–until the opposing coach walked over and strongly requested to be able to address both teams with some of his reservations.

The young men who had been so jubilant suddenly found themselves sitting in the middle of the field on the ground, being lectured on good sportsmanship by the guy who just lost the game.

It lit my fuse. I lost my cool.

I walked out on the field, yanked my boys from the circle and headed them toward the car. The preaching coach asked me what my problem was.

I turned around and said, “You’re the one who needs the lecture…on how to be a better loser.”

There was a cheer from some of the nearby parents, so I felt justified.

On the way home I railed against the coach in front of my children, being further energized by my own sense of self-righteousness.

But I was wrong.

You see, sometimes I feel justified about being wrong because I’m convinced I’m not as wrong as someone else. I’m only responsible for my wrong–not the wrongdoings of the entire planet.

I spent the next week in turmoil, my conscience challenging my irrational behavior, until I finally apologized to my children, my family and also went to the nearby school and offered my repentance to the coach.

It felt good to confess.

But even as I tell the story today, I am curious if there is any part of me that still welcomes that infuriated, pompous ass who spewed his anger on the field that day.

I don’t really grow until I take what I’ve done wrong and murder it off every day when it tries to resurrect.

Am I capable of becoming incensed over the foolishness I see around me? I’m on the hunt to find it–because joining the insanity does not aid the treatment.

We have enough people in the asylum.

What we lack are caregivers.

soccer devil

 

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Where They Agree … June 5, 2013


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Little RockAtheists and religious folks do have one place where they agree. It seems that both of them don’t really care that much for people.

They love to tout their differences by emphasizing their contention about the existence of a God. The atheist wants you to know that it’s non-intellectual or superstitious to believe in such a mythical being, and the religious person wants you to know that it’s an issue of faith, and that he or she is enriched by holding onto the concept of a Divine Being.

This would appear to put them at odds with each other, but they actually cross-sect in their mutual disdain for humanity. Atheists generally have a gloomy vision of mankind, deeming them to be  animalistic, self-motivated and devoid of altruism. Religious people likewise think that humanity is pretty animalistic, self-motivated and absent a desire for goodness.

So the greatest commodity we have on earth–now upwards of eight billion units–is human beings and is rejected by both groups as either inept or totally worthless.

So I conclude that atheism and religion join together in a mutual mocking of a God who believed He was creating something in His image. We are now telling Him that it was a failed project.

As I get ready to go off to Little Rock tonight to share my heart and soul, I realize that coming from the perspective of the atheist by removing faith from human beings OR pursuing the agenda of the religious, by preaching against a common enemy and devilish concerns that taunt our world with weakness, is really just a proclamation of doom and gloom from different sides of a coin.

The uniqueness of Jesus of Nazareth was that to his dying breath, he continued to love and believe in humanity. For after all, it is very difficult, when pierced with three nails, to pray, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” unless you have an abiding affection for your fellow-travelers.

An atheist could certainly come up with my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and a religious person might muster the energy to proclaim, “into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”

But it took Jesus to still love and forgive a world that had screwed him over and stabbed him in the heart.

That’s what I want to bring to Little Rock. I am sick to death of pseudo-intellectualism which chases God out of the tabernacle of our thinking because we believe we have become so grown-up and smart. And I am equally fed up with religion which keeps looking for an enemy to avoid dealing with our own problems and repenting of our shortcomings.

Where the atheist and the religious person agree is in the decision that the human experiment was a failure.

I don’t believe that. I refuse to believe that.

And when I arrive at the church tonight, I will be looking for brothers and sisters, not failures and enemies.

This is why I am Jesonian and not just religious. It’s why I’m Jesonian and not an atheist.

Jesus knew that human beings were God’s favorite creation. He refused to insult his Father by giving up on them.

And I refuse to reject the heart of Jesus by hating people.

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