Good News and Better News… April 17th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesus was the Good Shepherd. (Well, I guess He still is, since no one else is qualified or particularly interested in the job.) He spent his whole life trying to find a way to be a caretaker for sheepish human souls.

It began with thirty years of family life–a mother, father, sisters and brothers trying to get along in cramped quarters, being hunted down daily by poverty.

Then, when he felt a stirring in his soul to do more, his desires were struck down by the locals, who insisted he should remain the “carpenter’s son.”

So he moved a little bit down the road to a town called Capernaum, and started a house-front church–Peter’s house. It became very popular–so much so that the folks literally started tearing the walls out.

But then his family got wind of his doings, thought he was crazy and came out to take him home. A little bit of scandal. Suddenly the citizens of Capernaum were not quite as interested anymore.

So Jesus turned to his handful of disciples and said, “Well, let’s take the show on the road.”

He became an evangelist. Since he figured no one in Galilee or Judea was particularly interested, he went to Samaria. He met a woman who helped him build energy and in no time at all there was some excitement and thrilling deeds in the works.

Unfortunately, when he returned back to Samaria shortly thereafter, they wouldn’t let him share anymore because they found out he liked Jews–and they hated them.

He decided to return to Galilee to live off the land and just see who came in. Eventually there were seventy of them–one of those church sizes that is so common today.

Jesus motivated them, sent them out two by two, and their work was so successful that within a few months, Jesus found himself teaching five thousand people–an unbelievable growth spurt.

Jesus had himself a mega church. He was not only leading them but also feeding them. But when he began teaching them about personal responsibility, and the fact that his congregants needed to be on a spiritual journey to have the heart of God toward humanity, they objected. Matter of fact, they got angry, started “splits,” and before you know it, Jesus lost 4,988 members.

He was left with twelve.

That’s a pretty drastic dip. I would think he would have had a tendency to question his technique, method or even wisdom. But Jesus went the other direction. He continued to minister to the twelve disciples, but he focused on three: Peter, James and John.

And although the Good Book says that five hundred witnesses saw him after the resurrection, only 120 were around for the Day of Pentecost.

But Jesus had even shrunk his vision of the three “best friend” disciples down to one.

Yes, on a cool morning by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus stood by the water with Simon Peter and said, “Feed my sheep.”

When it turned out that Peter got a little weary, Jesus appeared on a back road near Damascus and told a chap named Saul of Tarsus, “Stop fighting it. You are meant to be a messenger.”

So even though thousands and thousands of people came Jesus’ way, encountered his message, some even walking away with miraculous healings, he intelligently placed focus on two fellows, who made it their mission to teach the parishioners around them to become disciples–and to change the world.

The good news is that the Gospel is not about building churches and getting attendance. It’s about making disciples.

And the better news is that a contented, fulfilled, excited and creative disciple can reach millions.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 21) Tied … September 18th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Really weird dreams.

Ever since Sunday, Meningsbee had been plagued by bizarre nighttime visions, each one nearly sensible and then suddenly making a left turn into Wackyville.

In one of these nightmares, he saw young Hapsy, trapped in a glass ball, rolling down the hill toward six-foot-tall bugs with hammers in their claws.

In another one, he dreamed that Patrick Swanson was water skiing on the Sea of Galilee, throwing fish at nearby peasants.

He also had one with Sammy Collins passing out candy bars shaped like Jesus for what he assumed was communion.

But the strangest one of all was seeing himself crawling on the dirty floors of the big city mall searching for pennies, which he then gingerly picked up and ran over and dropped into the tin cup of a blind man who greatly resembled Stevie Wonder.

Meningsbee recognized the problem. It had happened to him many times. Surrounded by people in need, he began to absorb their pain, feeling it was christ-like to express compassion. He was not only losing sleep, but also the hope and optimism necessary to share the power of faith with the living souls around him.

Opening up the Good Book, he happened upon the story of Jesus casting the demons out of a man who claimed the name “Legion.” On this particular reading, his focus was riveted on the closing exchange between Jesus and the man. The one who was once named Legion begged Jesus for permission to come along on the journey.

Meningsbee understood. You couldn’t blame him. The most exciting thing that had ever happened to this exorcised soul had come, and was now about to be gone. All he had left around him were people who thought of him as a crazy man, who certainly would not be quick to forget his gruntings, growlings and groanings.

The logical thing was to go with Jesus. Sit by the fire. Remember the miracle and attempt to resume his life in the midst of his benefactor.

But Jesus said no.

That’s right–Jesus turned him down. Jesus told him to go back to his own people and friends and tell them what good things God had done for him.

A noble answer for a noble cause. But there was something Jesus didn’t share–if you’re going to help people and continue to be a touchstone of gentle comfort to the world around you, learn how to be tied in without being tied up.

Truth was, Meningsbee knew he could spend his whole life just working with Hapsy, Matrisse and Kitty. He could cordon off the next six months to try to make peace with Sammy Collins and Patrick Swanson.

Yes, he could pick up pennies and try to enrich the prospects of the blind beggars around him, or he could take a tip from Jesus and be tied in but not tied up–allow himself to be human with the people but not swallow all their fears.

There is a point when a teacher needs to assume that the lesson has been taught, and open the door to new students.

Otherwise, he is no longer a teacher.

He is merely a caretaker for a handful of misfits he refuses to let graduate.

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