PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … July 19th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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YOU, DO, DO, BAY BLUE

Docile, for a while, see me smile, have no guile,

What a pile, I am vile, start the trial,

Change my style, the second mile, scan the aisle, for my file

Total denial, a revival,

Hit the street, who do you meet, don’t retreat, wash some feet

Face defeat, then delete, from the elite,

Just can’t beat, it’s so neat

Kind of dead, feels like lead, time for bed, where I’m led, underfed, tools in shed,

A sparrow clan, words, man, the lily can.

 

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Published in: on July 19, 2017 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 42) Rest Stop … February 19th, 2017

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Reverend Meningsbee

2.3 miles east of Garsonville, on an old country road, was an abandoned roadside rest–long forgotten and unattended, with a broken picnic table, a dry pump and an eroded sign which had once explained the origins.

Over the past two months, every single week, Reverend Meningsbee made his way to that spot before attending church, to take ten or fifteen minutes, just to “get decent.”

Getting decent meant freeing himself of all the hardships, prejudice, bruised ego, disappointments and frustrations of the week, lest he arrive in front of the congregation and pour out his misgivings instead of sharing a parcel of hope.

It had been a strange week.

On top of languishing in memories of his beloved Doris, he also discovered that Jesse, Marty and Hector McDougal were moving from town. They had become the touchstone–the stopping off place–for all the publicity and turmoil that had risen up because of the little boy’s amazing healing.

The family had received notice from a mega church in Idaho which had been spreading its spiritual wings into making movies, and the three were invited to come and live free of charge for a year while the screenwriters, actors and production team shot a film entitled, “Hector’s Baptism.”

They were so excited.

They even had a copy of the screenplay, which Meningsbee perused, quickly realizing that the writers had taken some creative license.

Meningsbee felt sad.

He wasn’t sure it was the right thing for the family–but it’s hard to argue with a year’s worth of free room and board. So he kissed them all on the cheek, prayed for them and two days later they were gone.

That departure was followed by the information that Patrick Swanson, whose congregation had been involved in some sort of wife-swapping scandal, was also leaving and stopped off at Meningsbee’s house to say goodbye.

He and his wife were off to Utah, to a marriage clinic, to restore their vows and commitments.

Patrick had become a Mormon. He looked much different–fresh haircut, crisp white shirt and a sweater vest instead of jeans, shaggy locks and a t-shirt. He was, shall we say, very appropriate.

When Meningsbee reached to give him a hug, Patrick instead took his hand and offered a warning. “Beware the sins of the flesh, my friend. I think you teeter on too much secular input in your ministry, and therefore are robbing your congregation of the full impact of the whole Bible for the whole man.”

Meningsbee felt a flame of anger ignite in his gut but he realized that Patrick would soon be gone, and his advice with him.

Meningsbee was in the midst of these thoughts and many others when a car rolled up next to him.

It was Sammy Collins.

He got out of his car and tapped on the passenger window of Meningsbee’s vehicle, requesting permission to enter. Meningsbee popped his locks and Sammy scooted in, shut the door and took a deep breath.

“Let me get right to it. I’ve been doing a lot of praying. I know we haven’t always agreed, but I believe I’m supposed to come and be your assistant minister.”

He paused. Meningsbee was speechless.

Sammy jumped in. “Well, that’s it. What do you think?”

“How did you know I would be here?” asked Meningsbee.

“I followed you,” said Sammy with a smile. “You didn’t even know, did you?”

“Nope,” said Meningsbee quietly.

Sammy turned sideways in his seat, filled with energy. “So what do you think, Pastor? You sure could use the help.”

“You see, Sammy, the kind of help I need wouldn’t work because it’s inside me. I couldn’t get you in there. Or maybe I wouldn’t want you in there. Or maybe, it just seems to me, that if I needed an assistant minister, God would tell me before he told the assistant minister.”

“God works in mysterious ways,” said Sammy with a twinkle.

“Yeah, but usually not hyper-weird,” replied Meningsbee.

Sammy, undaunted by the rebuke and rejection, opened the car door and said, “Think it over. You’re never gonna find anyone quite like me.”

Meningsbee just nodded, holding his tongue over a variety of responses that immediatly popped into his brain.

Sammy jogged to his car, got in and took off. Meningsbee, fully disturbed and interrupted, decided to head off to church.

He wondered what he would find there. He had to admit to himself that his message last week about the rich young ruler and how the congregation needed to decide if they were going to keep the revival alive or go back to their old ways, was pretty strong. Matter of fact, he had even used the word “damn” right in the middle of the pews, flowers and pulpit furniture.

Arriving at the church, there was a hum in the room. No–a real hum. The organist was playing the prelude and the congregation, uncharacteristically, was humming along with the familiar tune.

There were two apple pies sitting on the fellowship table which were normally not present for coffee time.

Deacon Smitters shook Meningsbee’s hand and held it a little longer than normal.

The song service was more boisterous, the testimonies enlightened and the “amens” aplenty.

No one said a word about the previous week’s service nor whether they were offended, challenged or informed. They just did what people in Garsonville do. They took it all in, let it rattle around for a couple of days, and decided what their best path might be.

There’s a lot to be said for that.

 

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 40) And With All Your Getting … February 5th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3209)

Reverend Meningsbee

Sluggish.

A solemn surrender to sadness.

After many weeks of a revival of human emotion, appreciation and pursuit of the general welfare, the Garsonville community gradually settled back into its traditional format of pending suspicion and growing apprehension.

It was actually rather sudden–a transition that occurred over a two-week period. One moment people were smiling, greeting each other warmly and taking an extra second or two while shaking hands. And the next thing you knew, they were creating distance, staking claim to their turf.

Meningsbee noticed it immediately. When he turned to face the congregation, they had stopped grinning. Now they were peering–that fussy, Midwestern squint, poised to offer disapproval.

He felt alone.

This reversion to blandness, which was so clear to him, seemed satisfactory to the rest of the gang, which had obviously decided that the resurrection in their spirits had merely been a Ferris Wheel ride of intrigue. Now it was time to return home from the circus, to do the chores and milk the cows.

Meningsbee thought to himself that over the years, many preachers from this community had faced this quandary–a burst of enthusiasm followed by creeping and crawling backwards, to a profile of preoccupation.

Those ministers may have decided to ignore the digression and accept the inevitable. Not Richard Meningsbee.

So on the ninth Sunday after the beginning of the town’s jubilation, he stood before the congregation and spoke.

“Rich. Young. Ruler.

“That’s how the Good Book describes him. Not a bad combo, do you think? I don’t believe there’s a person here who would object to being richer, younger or even ruling something.

“It also lets us know that this fella was intrigued by all things spiritual. His journey had taken him through the rigors of religion–following commandments, listening to sermons and abstaining from lying and adultery.

“Then he hears about a young man from Nazareth who has an earth-shaking rendition of God-talk. So the rich, young ruler–being rich, young and a ruler–goes out to see Jesus to ask a question. ‘What must I do to get to heaven?’

“From his perspective, that’s all that remained. He was set up for life with all the wine, women and song the commandments would allow. But he was curious how he could maintain that status in the afterlife.

“So when the boy was dissatisfied with Jesus’ response, Jesus gave him a truthful answer. You all remember that, don’t you? The truth? It used to float by every once in a while. Jesus told him, ‘If you want to go to heaven, go out, sell everything you’ve got and give it to the poor.’

“Was Jesus declaring some sort of war on poverty? Of course not. There were poor people when Jesus showed up and they were still there when he left. Jesus was declaring a war on selfishness. In other words, if you’re rich, you’re young, you’re a ruler and you’re following all the commandments and going to church like you should–and you’re still dissatisfied, the problem just may not be linked to your Bible study and prayer. It could be that you know you’re full of crap, but you just don’t like the idea of being full of crap.

“After all, Jesus only asked him to temporarily donate his wealth. He was young and he was a ruler, which certainly granted him the means to get funky and rich again. But to do so, he would have to admit that money was not the source of his power. The Good Book says he walked away sadly.

“Now, I’m lookin’ out this morning at sad people. Oh, you all would argue with me and insist you’re just fine. You would inform me that the boost of joy and gratitude our community experienced over the past couple of months was a shower of blessing, and now we’re just back to the heat of the day.

“You might even shake your heads and say, ‘Reverend Meningsbee, you just don’t understand us Nebraskan folk.’ But I’ll tell you–there are only three roads you can take.

“You can pretend there’s no heaven and just do whatever the hell you want to. You can pretend that heaven and hell is all there is, and make your reservation at the cooler place. Or you can believe that heaven and hell begin now. How we treat each other. How we approach our work. How we accept other people’s children. And whether or not we think God is smilin’ or frownin’.

“I will not pastor a church that thinks our journey is all about ‘making the pearly gates’ or ‘avoiding a devil’s hell.’ Yes, I will tell you plainly, if you don’t give a damn, then be damned with ya’. We’re gonna keep the revival alive instead of finding our hole and crawling in it.

“If you were that young chap, would you leave sadly? I guess the question is, will you leave sadly today?”

As Meningsbee finished, he jogged down the middle aisle, passing through the narthex, out the door, into the parking lot, jumped in his car, started it and left.

He didn’t want to hear opinions–and he didn’t want to be tempted to soften his words as the bruised filed by him on their way to mediocrity.

He would wait and see how the message of the day would survive the week.

 

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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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Don’t let another Christmas season go by without owning Jonathan’s book of Christmas stories

Mr. Kringle’s Tales …26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

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G-Poppers … November 4th, 2016

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Jon close up

G-Pop is insulted.

After six months of playground buffoonery passing itself off as a Presidential election, he finds himself feeling violated by the very same people who would solicit his support.

One of the candidates insults G-Pop’s intelligence and the other one insults his faith.

As Secretary Clinton touts her qualifications for the job of being the leader of the free world, listing numerous occupations which have prepared her for the position, she simultaneously pulls up lame, pretending that the technology of an email server is beyond her grasp.

She also has a litany of profiles to explain how four Americans in Libya–a very hostile environment–were lost on her watch.

On top of that, she continues to make excuses for a husband who certainly did his best to denigrate the gravitas of the job as Commander-in-Chief.

It seems that Hillary is incapable of comprehending that credentials need to be backed up with actions.

On the other hand, G-Pop’s faith is insulted by the lifestyle and urges of Donald J. Trump. Donald has taken one of the primary concepts of the Declaration of Independence–“all men are created equal”–and has whittled away, redefining the meaning of these words by placing special significance of one group over another.

He simultaneously has taken the respect, honor and equality that Jesus saw for women, attempting to turn our country back into a 1950’s philosophy, where it is assumed that men will step in to cover the inadequacies of the “ditzy female.”

But worst of all, Mr.Trump pretends to take on the mantle of faith in Jesus Christ, when three of the greatest principles in the teachings of the Nazarene are repentance, tolerance and forgiveness. By his own admission, he does not apologize, he does not view all humans as equals, and he would much rather attack those who cross his path and challenge him.

These two people are insulting.

If you have intelligence and a measure of faith, you will find their applications disheartening.

So what should we do?

Is it worse to have someone who insults your intelligence, or an individual who insults your faith?

Or is it more important for us to realize that as expected, no true transformation, revival or inspiration will ever come out of Washington, D. C.?

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Don’t let another Christmas season go by without owning Jonathan’s book of Christmas stories

Mr. Kringle’s Tales …26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

Only $5.99 plus $1.25 shipping and handling!

An advent calendar of stories, designed to enchant readers of all ages

“Quite literally the best Christmas stories I have ever read.” — Arthur Holland, Shelby, North Carolina

Only $5.99 plus $1.25 shipping and handling.

"Buy

 

 

Good News and Better News … May 23rd, 2016

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Good News Cross Plains

When I was twelve years old, a school buddy invited me to his church for a night of revival, with the tease of a delicious pot luck dinner preceding the event.

I was thrilled.

Of course, I was interested in the pot luck dinner, but much more excited over the chance to see my friend far away from school books and blackboards.

The revival was held at his home church–a Pentecostal Baptist.

I didn’t know much of anything at that point in my life, so I can’t tell you a lot about the evening’s activities, except that at one point during the sermon by the guest evangelist, he paused, staring at the audience with bulging eyes, sweat dripping from his brow, and proclaimed, “God’s grace cannot be earned, nor can it ever be lost.”

The reason I remember this statement is that it evoked an explosion of cheers, applause and “hallelujahs.” The folks really liked it.

Of course they did.

We all deeply enjoy free stuff.

The idea that none of us had to work on our salvation or had any chance of losing it just because we went on a “lying spree” was certainly intoxicating to the spirit.

But unfortunately, when you put no expectations on human beings, generally speaking, you get no production.

When I visited Fishersville United Methodist Church yesterday, I was struck by two outstanding realizations:

  1. These were some lovely, intelligent and caring people.
  2. But left to themselves, they can be lazy, uncaring and unfeeling.

I will tell you that no Creator with the intelligence to make a kidney which enables us to pee would ever let human beings think they did not need to be involved in their own lives, or even their own salvation.

We certainly wouldn’t do that with our children: “I love you, Johnny, so you don’t need to do any chores or clean your room because my affection is enough.”

If we did that we would be in danger of raising a criminal or a politician.

It is important to realize that God loves us.

But He’s also provided a purpose for life, where we learn to take responsibility for ourselves and save some extra time to assist others.

I refer to it as “sanity saves.”

If you do not stay involved in your own life, with an awareness of what you need to work on, your brain will deteriorate to the point that learning ceases to be possible. Then you’re stuck with what you know and nothing else.

God gives me a “sanity save” every day.

My mind is renewed by the celebration of knowing that the Gospel that Jesus preached is not only a message to make me Heaven-worthy, but also Earth-friendly.

It gives me sanity and it saves me from becoming an emotional and spiritual bum.

Without these sanity saves, we start relying too much on chance, fear or a presumptuous faith to carry us through difficulties, instead of using principle, prayer and the power of learning to grant us the wisdom to overcome.

As the folks came to my table yesterday, I found myself conversing with an 89-year-old World War II veteran. He was standing next to a nine-year-old boy.

They both came to chat with me. I looked into their eyes and saw the same thing. There was a sparkle of enthusiasm with the moisture of repentance.

It is what makes us powerful human beings–that which excites us should make us repent. And the repentance stimulates more excitement.

Sanity saves: when we take the salvation provided and turn it into a lifestyle that considers others.

That’s the good news.

The better news is that God’s grace is never deserved, but does offer us lives of sanity.

 

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