Jesonian … September 30th, 2017

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It had been a day of storytelling.

Launching out into a boat so that the audience on the seashore could hear more clearly, the young teacher, formerly from Nazareth, had shared great yarns about faith–three in particular.

Taking an ethereal subject, he translated it into the human and earthly. It was what he did best. He had no intention of having followers with heaven on their minds–not when there was still so much to do here on earth.

The first story was about a sower. The lesson was really simple. The seeds of hope, love, contentment, joy and even confrontation have to be sown–whether the inhabitants of Earth received them or not. You just never know what patch of soil might sprout promise.

Another story was about how to showcase faith. It really is not a private matter–it is something that needs to be shown forth, demonstrated, put on a candlestick so the light can fill the room.

And then there was that closing story that finished out the day. An inspiring one. “Faith is like a mustard seed…” In other words, it may be small, but its original girth does not foretell what it will eventually be. Don’t despise small beginnings.

At the end of the day this young teacher, Jesus, decided he wanted to go on a late-night sail across the sea to the other shore. It was a family aatmosphere, and so other folks who had been moved by the message decided to join him on the journey. Jesus had a big boat but those who followed him were in little ships. Exhausted, Jesus grabbed a pillow and headed to the back of the boat to get a snooze on the way across.

Then the atmosphere changed. (It nearly always does.) Into a quiet, peaceful night, a storm arose–a big one. The waves began to splash into the boat.The disciples were frightened. All the stories of faith dissipated in the presence of this threat. They screamed at Jesus, asking him why he didn’t do something. Why didn’t he care that they were dying?

Every teacher in the world will understand his feelings at that point. What is the purpose of sharing a lesson if no one applies it?

But Jesus had other concerns. This was no time to put the disciples to the test to see if they could survive their anxieties. Because, you see, there were other little ships. And if the big boat was in trouble then the little ships were in desperate straits.

So Jesus calmed the storm–not because he wanted to appease twelve frightened men in a big boat, but because he was concerned about the little ships.

Jesus was always sensitive to the little ships. Matter of fact, he made it clear that if we don’t take care of the “least,” we’re really not in fellowship with him at all.

We’ve lost our hearts for the little ships.

Storms come to our country and ravage the land and we scream to the government to help us rebuild our houses. Meanwhile, the least of these–the little ships–aren’t even getting water and food to survive.

I spent three days this year locked up in a hot house, sweating, my brain fried because I had none of the conveniences of which I was accustomed. I was fit to be tied.

In Puerto Rico, it’s been many,many days without food, water, cooling and relief.

Can we care about what’s happening to the little ships, or are we only concerned for our own losses and perishing?

That night, terrified disciples were saved because Jesus took care of the little ships.

I suggest that if we find the little ships in our lives, in the process of doing so, all the boats will be brought safely to the shore.

 

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 47) Increase and Decrease … March 26th, 2017

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Reverend Meningsbee

June in Nebraska is a celebration. It is a festival of survival.

Until the end of May, winter threatens to clamp down on any enthusiasm about the arrival of warmer weather. But by June, the monster of frigid temperatures and the obstruction of snow drifts have melted away, leaving behind fields blossoming with corn, sunny skies and the threat of blistering heat.

One local once conjectured that the reason most Nebraskans were so easy-going was because “everything that happens around them is so extreme.”

They wouldn’t dare over-react–to a blizzard or a heat wave.

It was on the third Sunday in June, right when people were beginning to think about the upcoming July 4th celebration, that he came walking into the back of the church.

At first Meningsbee didn’t recognize him. He certainly didn’t remember him being so tall–six foot two, as it turned out. Dark brown hair, chiseled chin, hazel eyes and weighing in at a military 183 pounds was Carl Ramenstein, the young hero who had rescued Meningsbee months earlier in Chicago, from the onslaught of some challenging questions.

As Carl had explained, he had a cousin in town and he came to spend a couple of weeks, having recently graduated from seminary.

Carl fit right in. Everybody loved him. He grew up on a farm, worked on a ranch, liked fishing, knew the working end of a plow.

All the kids adored him because he played so hard. All the old ladies straightened their buns when he walked in the room. And the men pulled out their war stories. It took only one Sunday for Carl to become part of the atmosphere, attitude and heart of the Garsonville Church.

So when two weeks passed and it was time for him to leave, the folks begged him to stay. It turned out to be tremendously beneficial, considering that on the following Wednesday, a little boy about five years old fell into an abandoned well just outside town. Carl spearheaded the rescue effort.

He was in the local newspaper and had dinner invitations enough to last the rest of the year.

But Carl was not interested in all the praise. Carl loved God. In a season when such devotion from a man of his age seemed unlikely, or maybe even suspicious, his legitimate warmth and appreciation for the heavenly Father was demonstrated in how well he treated his children.

Carl loved people.

Meningsbee stood back–astounded. You see, Meningsbee wanted to love people and every once in a while mustered the spirit to do so. But Carl possessed a streak of conviction that every human he met had been waiting for the chance to meet him so that Carl could pass on a blessing.

It was the most amazing mixture of confidence and humility that Reverend Meningsbee had ever seen.

Young women were literally following him around town, just hoping he would turn and give them a smile, and although fully aware of their attractions, he was careful not to put himself in dangerous situations where rumor could give way to scandal.

The people took a liking to Carl.

Carl took a liking to the church.

The church was taking a liking to the community, and the people, who had been sitting on the fence, trying to decide what it felt about the Garsonville Church, were now beginning to trickle in, one by one, and find a place of peace and fellowship.

Matter of fact, one older gentleman took Pastor Meningsbee aside and said, “My dear parson, you had a good idea, but you’re a rather odd little fellow. There’s nothing wrong with that–but Nebraskans are not completely familiar with odd and try not to do much that resembles little. That boy coming to town–well, he’s taken your words and turned them to life.”

Meningsbee smiled, not knowing how he should react.

Although some folks were waiting for the dark side of young Ramenstein to come creeping out, Carl took the opportunity to sit under the teaching, simplicity, honesty and common sense of Meningsbee, and grow taller and stronger.

So Carl kept delaying his departure until finally, one of the deacons of the church said to Meningsbee that he’d better “hire the boy or lose him forever,” because somebody certainly was going to grab him.

When Meningsbee said that the budget would not tolerate it, ten families stepped forward and offered to increase their pledges so that Carl could stay.

So it was on the seventh Sunday after his first visit that Carl Ramenstein was ordained as the Assistant Pastor of the Garsonville Church.

There was a party with joy all through the town.

The following Sunday there were twenty additional visitors, some of whom said they had just been “waiting around to see if they were smart enough to hire him.”

Right after the ordination, Meningsbee realized that he had never heard the young man preach. Carl never asked for the pulpit. It never came up. Carl may have been the first minister ever hired without having to offer three points.

The folks immediately dubbed him “Pas Carl,” for Pastor Carl.

He was a breath of fresh air.

He was a summer miracle.

And he was here to stay.

Now Meningsbee had to get used to sharing the attention.

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Good News and Better News… January 30th, 2017

 

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good-news-lighthouse-point

I had the privilege of sharing in Lighthouse Point, Florida.

What a fabulous name. Opens the door for all sorts of clever interpretation–especially for a writer who might become overly exuberant.

But what struck me was that we were returning for our third occasion to be sponsored by Pastor Gabe, in yet another of her assigned churches.

She is a dynamic woman. Let me change that. She is an outstanding person–a breast cancer survivor, a minister, an individual with a delightful sense of humor, and also, as I found out yesterday, enjoys watching reruns of “West Wing.”

During a conversation with Gabe, she mentioned that this present church was about the same size as all of the other churches she had pastored.

Kind of small.

Although she did not express any sadness or misgiving about the size, I thought to myself, “We live in a country that thinks the bigger things are, the better they are.”

Although that might apply to hamburgers and ice cream cones, it certainly does not come to play in discussing a church.

For you see, a church is not an organization, a meeting hall, a service or a club. A church does not become more impressive because there are more butts in seats.

A church is a place where those who are seeking maturity can come together to strengthen one another.

Factually, I don’t know if you can do that with more than a hundred people at a time. You can jam fifteen thousand Christians into an auditorium, but it doesn’t mean that a single-mindedness of joy and faith will be produced.

Yes, the purpose of the church is to encourage people to “grow to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Jesus.”

Whenever you gather more than three or four hundred together, you’ve got to have a program with praise band singers and create some sort of atmosphere of worship, hoping that somewhere over the coffee and donuts provided in the fellowship hall, human conversation might somehow ensue. But that’s not who we are.

We need fullness.

In the human experience, fullness occurs when we allow ourselves to feel. So when I go into a church and people are reluctant to express emotion, I know they’ve convinced themselves that they’re in a worship service instead of a fellowship.

We also need to reach a certain measure.

What is that measure? A sense of survival. After all, we will never succeed if we can’t first survive. We learn to survive by hearing the testimony of others–like Gabe, who herself survived the horror of disease.

We realize we are not alone. For after all, there is nothing lonelier than being in a room with ten thousand people and knowing nobody.

And finally, church should grant us stature.

In other words, we know we can grow. Why? Because we just testified to people about our new discovery.

This is the atmosphere that was intended for the church of Jesus of Nazareth.

  • I can feel
  • I can survive
  • I can grow

And what Pastor Gabe, and all of us, need to celebrate is that the church is not noteworthy because of its sanctuary. It becomes the light of the world because it lights up its members.

The good news is that America is doing well because people like Pastor Gabe are on the job, with an attention to detail and a care for fellow-travelers.

The better news is that we in the church become a highly functioning organism when we motivate the souls around us to grow “to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Jesus.”

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Ask Jonathots … May 5th, 2016

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ask jonathots bigger

What causes some siblings to grow up to be friends and others not? I’m forty and I’m not close to my sister at all. I have two teenage daughters, and I’m wondering what I could do to help them grow up to be friends. Your thoughts?

Perhaps one of the more egregious errors in our culture is the notion that the nuclear family is meant to remain intact.

It causes more stress, misgivings, grudges, insecurity, mishap and even murder than any other predicament facing our species.

If I were a coal miner in West Virginia, was unfortunately involved in a cave-in and spent nine days under the earth with eight other people, we would become very close. Matter of fact, we would share dreams, aspirations, prayers and any food and water available to sustain one another.

Yet to think that after I left that cave of impending death I should continue those relationships with my fellow-prisoners outside the mishap would be ridiculous, forced and disappointing.

For a season we share common goals and aspirations with our family. That experience can range from survival to ecstasy.

But humans are meant to come out of this cocoon and bloom in our individual lives, to start our own families, sustaining our species with new possibilities.

Some sisters have memories of the time when they grew up in the same house, but their journey takes them in completely different directions, with new friends, causing the old encounters to bring fond memories but not needful continuation.

Other sisters stay in the same communities, and it’s like their new families are extensions of the older rendition.

One thing is certain–it evolves naturally and cannot be manipulated through false emotion or guilt.

We must understand that for some people, the memory of their birthing family is pleasant but irrelevant, pleasant but valuable, pleasant but in the past.

For others such recollections are unpleasant and degrading, unpleasant and unnecessary, and unpleasant and harmful.

It is always better to look at the family of our youth as the ship that brought us to the New World. Sometimes that ship can sit out in the harbor of our environment as a memory of great times. And sometimes the ship is so full of holes that it needs to be sunk.

You can’t help people to be friends. Friendship is always based upon mutual concerns.

But what you can do is maintain the better parts of every experience as you launch out into newness of life.

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G-Poppers … March 18th, 2016

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Jon close up

G-Pop sat quietly, listening to two family members talk about politics. Even though they are loving companions in every way, the political scene does divide them–right down the middle of their concerns.

Their conversation was interesting, but filled with assumptions which have cropped up in this present field of candidates.

Assumption 1: Politics is a different game and doesn’t have to follow the same rules. In other words, we expect them to lie.

Assumption 2: We’re in the process of choosing the best from the worst instead of merely attempting to extract the worst from the best.

Assumption 3: It’s not going to get any better.

G-Pop thought to himself that the true mistake lies in thinking that we are picking a leader instead of allowing the definition of leadership to do the selection for us.

Leadership has four components which end up with a determination.

1. Kindness: “I don’t want to start the fight.”

Anyone who thinks that politics and leadership is about fighting is promoting survival of the meanest.

2. Honesty: “I don’t want to initiate the lie. If lying is going to go on, I would rather watch it happening instead of being the founder of the deceit.”

3. Respect: “I don’t grow with your failure. I don’t need to honor iniquity, but I do need to ensure that the mistakes of others are corrected by nature instead of my rage.”

4. Resolve: “I don’t want to be the first to give up. I also don’t want to be the last to give up once it becomes obvious that change is necessary. I would like to give the plans available a chance to survive a bump or two instead of assuming that we’re heading off a cliff.”

When a good leader puts kindness, honesty, respect and resolve together, he or she ends up in strength, which is: “I don’t want to abandon goodness.”

For as G-Pop listened to his family members discuss politics, he realized there is no difference between being angry at the rich or angry at the poor. You’re still too damn angry.

Somewhere along the line, we have to put our faith into goodness winning the day, and not retreat from that purity … simply because evil does a lot of growling.

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G-27: Figments and Fragments … June 6, 2014

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puzzleAfter billions of years of evolution, the ushering in of humanity formed in the image of the Creator, a season of Utopia, a betrayal of trust, a banishment, a murder between brothers, an exile of the accused and the birth of a new son who brought promise, things calmed down.

And this manufactured serenity was viewed by most parties concerned as positive–except God.

For you see, God knew that we, as people, are best when hassled. We are more powerful when weakened. We are smarter when survival is at stake.

And yet, human beings began to breathe, work, eat, sleep and die. Many generations passed, following faithfully on the redundant path.

But in the midst of this malaise, a tragic miscalculation transpired. Although, as monkey-angels, we were pulled from the jungle and merged with heaven to have a heart, soul, mind and strength, each individual member of our race began to focus on one of these aspects, usually to the exclusion of the others.

We became fragmented, causing us to chase figments of our imagination. It is a problem that happened thousands of years ago and still persists to this day.

For you see, some people focused only on the heart, becoming very emotional and therefore tossed to and fro by circumstance.

Others became “soulish,” with a desire to study and worship perceptions of the supernatural, which often made them superstitious and bitter over their earthly lot.

Then there was a contingency that preened their minds with knowledge, which often became arrogance instead of a mission to eradicate ignorance.

And finally, a goodly number chased after strength, following a sensual lifestyle, which only dealt with things of the body.

We became incomplete people.

We segregated into our colonies of interest and even warred with one another because we believed our particular rendition of human behavior was more suited for the times.

We lost our way.

In the midst of a calm came a doldrums–a sense of hopelessness because of the aching sensation of incompleteness.

Let us be clear:

We are heart creatures. Our emotions cannot be denied, but instead, should be passed along to our soul, where they can be clarified. Once we’ve achieved this cleanness, we can renew our minds with information that is personal and not merely related to the experiences of others. Once the mind is given a mission, the strength can be directed in more profitable and healthier choices.

Yes, the goal of the human race is to use our heart to reach our creative soul to renew our extended thinking to pursue deeds of fruitful daring.

Unfortunately, things became calm.

People got lazy.

And the door was left open for confusion.

 

 

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

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G-17: Dust, Breath, Soul… March 28, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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Take a moment.cloud of dust

Step out of the jungle.

Walk away until all the noise disappears.

What do you feel?

Free. Separate. Valuable.

For you see, there must be more than survival.

There needs to be a special purpose and energy for welcoming the new day.

I will tell you of a certainty, eating and drinking are thought-clogging.

Dominance produces a winner with no real victory.

Yes, we need to have a creature possessing a brotherhood with the jungle, but a sonship with the spiritual.

Dust. I am of Earth. It is where I came from and where I return.

Breath. I am alive. I require sustenance but I share with the earth my best, also.

Soul. I am of God. Not personally divine. A pinch of salt for the earth, a single ray of light for the world.

I am compelled to escape mere survival in reverence to holy pursuits.

Dust of the earth. Breath of life. Living soul.

Blessed, but no longer suitable for the jungle, and much too unpredictable for the heavens.

Suspended…

A miracle in contradictions.

 

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

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