Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 7) Toothy … June 12th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2963)

Reverend Meningsbee

  • Why do we come to church?
  • Do we need music?
  • If so, are there certain instruments that are more church-acceptable?
  • What about silence?
  • Are our lives enriched by sermons?
  • What is the purpose of an offering?
  • How about the choir?
  • Is liturgy good–or just repetitious?

The questions had been posed all morning long, and Reverend Meningsbee sat back listening, only contributing if asked or if there was the need to clarify a point.

The attendance was good. Amazingly, most of the visitors had returned, and even a few of those who had left the flock were back in the corral.

But the most outstanding moment of this week’s service happened when Maxwell, one of the few teenagers remaining in the church, came forward to sit in the chair for prayer because he had a toothache.

It was such an amazing sight to behold–a young man who normally perched in the back pew, fondling his phone, texting friends–made his way to the front in the belief that the supplications of the congregation might bring him relief.

And it did. At least, he said he felt better.

Meningsbee was astounded at how the people were taking the moment of fellowship and turning it into common benefit.

Near the end of the discussion, one of the older members of the church stood to her feet and said, “I think we all agree that whatever we do in the church, it should be to worship God, because that’s why we’re here.”

There was a general rumble and assent of “amens” from all present.

Meningsbee paused. He wondered if it was time for him to offer insight, or to just leave the moment alone for later instruction.

No time like the present.

He stood to his feet and walked to the front of the sanctuary. Turning slowly, he spoke.

“I know what our dear sister just said seems right. We have been taught–shoot, it’s literally been infused in us–that we’re here to praise God, express our reverence, and leave with a sense of awe about how big and wonderful He truly is. But I came to town so we could have a Jesus church, and Jesus made it clear that God was not interested in worship that was born merely of affirming His goodness. Jesus put it this way: Man was not created for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was created for man. And by Sabbath, he was certainly referring in part to our weekly gathering in church. So the real question we’re asking today is, and always will be, what is best for us humans to grow as we gather to acknowledge a common faith? Remember what I said last week–what is going to give us full life and full joy? Whatever that is–well, that will be worship.”

Meningsbee thought his message was simple, but for some reason it touched the hearts of all those gathered. Many cried aloud and others sprouted silent tears.

Meningsbee, looking at the scene before him, wept.

It felt so good to be honest about church. It was delightful to be around those who weren’t afraid to feel.

All at once, Maxwell, who had come with a toothache, started sweetly singing, “Jesus Loves Me.”

Everyone joined in.

Yes–everyone joined in.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant… January 28, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn Jan. 28

A Dumb Poem

When I was a child

I did dumb things

When I was a teenager

I did dumber things

When I was a parent

I dumbly corrected dumbness

When I was a businessman

I learned from my dumb mistakes

When I became a grandfather

I giggled at my children’s dumb parenting.

As I grow older

Fewer opinions, less dumb.

What have I learned?

The more you deny dumb

The dumber you seem.

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Untotaled: Stepping 42 (August 27th, 1967) Driven… November 29, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2428)

(Transcript)

I woke up in one of those adolescent grumpy moods, staring at the ceiling, disgusted with my life.

It was nearly time for school to start again and I felt like I had squandered my entire summer, worrying about how little summer I had left.

Even the things I had done which seemed enjoyable had passed too quickly, and now it was time to go back to school–to pretend to be a student and memorize a bunch of information which would give me a good grade on a test, knowing in my heart that I would soon forget the knowledge, yet knowing that somewhere in the future, I would be expected to remember it.

I had acquired three dollars yesterday by finally mowing the lawn, which had grown so high that one of the neighbors had complained to my parents, fearing that varmaints or snakes might dwell within. I reluctantly did the job and was rewarded with the remuneration.

So I woke up with a scratch I needed to itch. That’s the way it is when you’re a teenager–it’s not really an itch you need to scratch, but rather, an ongoing scratching sensation and needing an itch to justify it.

I got in my car and headed over to Katie’s house. She was the highlight of my summer. We had come together to search for pop bottles we could turn in for deposit to get gas money so we could drive around, talk and be silly.

There was nothing romantic involved, though candidly, I would have jumped her at the slightest invitation. She just thought I was funny.

When I picked her up that day, she had two dollars she had earned by picking blackberries on her grandma’s farm. Between us we had five dollars, three candy bars and some leftover tuna sandwiches her mother had foisted on her as she departed.

Katie explained that she needed to be home by three o’clock in the afternoon, and since it was already ten-thirty, our time would be shortened.

I told her that since we had enough money to buy fifteen gallons of gasoline, that we should drive three hours somewhere, talk, laugh and turn around to drive three hours back.

She was cool with it so we took off for Columbus.

Driving on I-71, we reached the south end of Columbus. Then that scratch that needed an itch suddenly raised its head. So I said, “Let’s keep going.”

She was nervous but agreed–and before too long we passed through Washington Court House, Wilmington and suddenly found ourselves on the outskirts of Cincinnati. It was deliciously naughty, filled with wild abandon and irresponsibility.

A sign read that the Ohio River was four miles ahead. I had never seen the Ohio River, and Katie had only passed over it in a car with her parents while being sound asleep in the back seat. So I said, let’s do it.

We crossed the river into Kentucky.

We felt like fugitives. It was similar to trying to make our way into the Soviet Union through the Iron Curtain (they had that back then).

Everything on the other side of the river, including a town named Covington, looked so different. We felt like Christopher Columbus eyeballing the New World.

Suddenly, Katie looked down at her watch and it was two o’clock in the afternoon, and she realized there was no way she would be able to get back in time. There also were no cell phones or texting, and pay phones were out of the question because we had used all of our money for petrol.

So knowing we were going to get in trouble, we turned the car around and headed back the way we came. It was the strangest combination of fear, jubilance, independence, anxiety and nervous bowel twinges that I’ve ever experienced in my life.

Strangely enough, when we arrived home, people really didn’t say much about us being late–just that we should never do it again.

Katie and I knew that was impossible.

Something changed that day.

I no longer felt bound to a small home on a tiny street in a little village. I realized there was a big world out there–and the only way I would ever get to it and be myself was to survive a couple more years of provincial schooling … to finally be able to point my life in my own direction.

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*****

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Turning Kids Into Humans (Age 15-18) Apprentice… October 6, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Humanating

Assumptions are dangerous because they can cause us to become lax in a season when our attention is most warranted.

This is certainly true when it comes to dealing with the adolescent mind–between the age of 15 and 18. There isn’t a parent alive who doesn’t experience buyer’s remorse, personal disappointment, aggravation and a sense of futility while dealing with a teenager on an everyday basis.

The media and educational system do little to assist. Their goals are either to entertain or maintain order. So because of this acquiescence to the unchanging nature of the rebellious teenager, we actually end up extending those frustrating years into their twenties, when it should be dealt with and ministered to by the age of eighteen.

Here’s your basic difficulty: a young human between the years of 15 and 18 doesn’t want to do anything unless it’s in the moment’s whim.

This is why they are so susceptible to temptation. At their very core, vices are exaggerations of potential without ever warning of future difficulties.

So rather than throwing our hands in the air, giving up on our teenagers and waiting for them to emerge from the dark cave of futility, we should instead aggressively pursue a path to apprentice them in a direction that parallels their heart’s desire.

There are very few old-fashioned concepts that should be kept alive, but certainly the practice of apprenticing an adolescent is one of them. You can do it after school, you can make it a summer project, or perhaps a weekend endeavor. But every teenager needs the opportunity to:

  1. Work and be taught on a subject or occupation which seems to presently suit their mission.
  2. In the process of doing this, gain an appreciation of the adjustments necessary to be able to function with other fellow-workers.
  3. Earn money so they learn to meet their needs, save a bit, but most importantly, give to others from their own resource.
  4. Do something they’ve committed to do, even when they don’t feel like doing it.

Without this experience, everything is a theory which is put into practice when they are in college and need to make the grade, or worse, have begun a life filled with financial responsibility, and are required to pick up a paycheck.

The apprentice approach creates a beautiful buffer zone between childhood and adulthood, where teenagers can still maintain a novice profile without shame, before they reach an adult path which requires greater acumen.

They will learn empathy by working with others and gratitude by sharing with souls less fortunate.

If you allow your teenager to sleep in, maintain a bad attitude and refuse to participate in any organized endeavor, you are cursing him or her to putting off their adult life until age thirty.

This is your last gift to that little bundle of joy you brought into the world. While they still have choice, give them a chance to learn without being destroyed, to discover without pressure and to change their minds about their occupation without losing tens of thousands of dollars at the local university.

To be a human being, a teenager must learn how to express that empathy and gratitude which sets us apart–and gives us the righteous authority to have dominion on the earth.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Three Ways to Parent Your Money… September 11, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2349)

disgruntled teenagerMoney is much like the disgruntled, snotty teenager who decides to get even with you by running away from home because you told him or her that the pair of shoes the young’un desires will have to be put off until the next paycheck.money

Also, money will embarrass by going out during this little misadventure and humiliate you, overindulging and even getting in trouble with the law.

What I’m saying in a nutshell is that money needs parenting. Without parenting, it begins to run your household with its bad attitudes, making you cringe in the corner of your bedroom, fearing a knock on the door.

So let me offer three ways to parent your money, making sure that you are still in charge:

1. Always be prepared to give an honest report.

Not only does money fail to grow on trees, but it never sprouts through lies. Pretending you’re something you aren’t is the quickest way to poverty. Failing to recognize the signs of difficulty is not optimism, it’s just stupidity with a smile on its face.

The best way to get in control of your finance and welcome money into your life is to assess your situation without becoming giddy with potential or suicidal with the facts.

2. An organized plan.

Give yourself the greatest gift you can–stop insisting that you’re not an organized person. It’s like taking a dagger and sticking it in your heart and reaching for the band-aids. Life without organization, a plan and clarity to your actions is like walking on the edge of a cliff blindfolded. It is much easier to be organized than it is to put out the brush fires ignited by too many spontaneous choices.

3. A slower pace.

It is a lie that the race goes to the swiftest. It doesn’t. The most important attribute in success is endurance, followed closely by foresight.

Slow down.

If you need five hundred dollars by the end of the month, try to make fifty dollars by the end of the week and see where it takes you.

Life is a much better teacher than opinion. So learn from experience.

And to do so, slow yourself down so you can enjoy the scenery and see the berries hanging from the trees as you go by, and never be hungry.

Just like a teenager, money will try to run your life if you don’t develop a sense of humor and know that you are in charge.

Teenagers don’t have to be insufferable brats. But to stop them, just like with money, you have to make it clear who’s boss.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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

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

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Untotaled: Stepping 13 (June 23rd, 1965) Old Lady Dickerson … May 10, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

A nickel is five times more than what you need if you don’t have a penny to your name.

That’s where I found myself in the summer of ’65. I was an unemployed, untrainable, unteachable, unworkable, unadult young teenager.

What I did have in great abundance was need.

I had reached an age where money was suddenly important but totally unavailable. A simple principle was explained to me in vivid but boring detail: “If you want money, you gotta work.”

This was new. Since birth, food had been provided–trinkets, toys and even occasional trips–without me having to expend any energy except the occasional complaining whine, “Are we there yet?”

But now, when I requested money, my parents were suddenly a dry well, asking me to pursue odd jobs in order to procure some personal finance.

Now, there’s a reason they call them “odd jobs.” The jobs are odd–low paying, ridiculously stupid and generally speaking, hot and sweaty. I will not go into vivid detail about how I hated each and every one of these elements, but since I needed to raise five dollars for a gift I wanted to impart to myself, it became obvious that I was going to have to walk down to the end of our street and ask Old Lady Dickerson if she had any chores she needed done.

She always did. None of the other kids wanted to work for her. She was cheap and waited too long–thus making the task she requested even more difficult.

For instance, she didn’t mow her grass until it looked like an African Serengeti. And because she had a house full of cats, on those rare occasions when you needed to go in for a drink of water, you had to hold your breath–otherwise you would faint from the deadly feline perfume.

There were also rumors that because the grass was so high, mowing the lawn put you in danger of encountering snakes. Granted, they were just garter snakes, but that’s like saying, “These are only criminals that commit non-violent crimes.”

Yet I found myself making the trek down to her house to ask for work so that I could garner my five dollars.

Please understand–to get five dollars out of Old Lady Dickerson required that you work all week. She paid in quarters, which she squeezed out of her wrinkled, bony fingers, holding tightly to them, forcing you to nearly yank to acquire your payment.

This particular week of torture included mowing the lawn, where I did discover a garter snake, and like a frightened little girl, jumped back and pushed the mower really hard, over the top of it, spitting the slimy thing out the back end. I don’t know if I killed it, because I refused to mow anymore that day.

She also wanted to have her thistles removed. She wasn’t satisfied with having them mowed over. You had to get out there and pull them out with your hands. (There is a reason, you know, they are called thistles.)

And for some reason she had decided to clean up some old newspapers in her house which the cats had used as urinal pads. I literally put a clothes pin on my nose to perform the duty.

At the end of my five days of hard labor, she decided to pay me all at once instead of in quarters. Would you believe that old lady stiffed me a buck and only gave me four?

It was fine.

Many years later, she died, and one of the richer members of our community bought her house. I was told they had to tear out the walls and pull up the floors to get all of the cat stink out.

Did I learn anything from working for Old Lady Dickerson?

Yes.

I learned that I did not want to work with reptiles at the zoo, that thistles can pretty much have their way in my yard and that it is always a good investment to find a young man or young lady … to mow your lawn.

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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

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

Click here to listen to Spirited music

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Untotaled: Stepping 10–December 31st, 1965 (The Watch Night) … April 19, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2207)

(Transcript)

There is certainly not much to do on New Year’s Eve in a little village of fifteen hundred people.

Some of the folks of our town would actually make the trip down to Columbus to take in a show and imbibe some alcohol, feeling as if they had flown to the moon and could disguise their drunken condition without fear of community scrutiny.

But most of the citizens of our little burg were devoid of entertainment or ideas for ringing in the New Year.

So our local church planned a Watch Night service, so as to prohibit–or at least impair–the possibility of the young kids falling victim to the beckonings of “demon rum.”

Watch Night services were a tradition of Dixie which had been transplanted to the Buckeye State via those who floated north. It was in four parts:

  • First there was eating–the best potluck of the year. Everyone tried to outdo one another both in culinary skills and appetites.
  • Then there were a couple of hours of gospel singing, featuring local talent (or at least local persons).
  • This trailed off into some preaching, warning all present of the dangers of increasing sin in our nation and the hopes that revival would break out in the coming 365 days provided..
  • And finally, the twelve o’clock hour offered the opportunity for hugs and handshakes.

This year I was thrilled. My group, The Gospels, a quartet of young teens, was going to participate in the singing portion of the evening. We had lobbied the previous year, and even auditioned for the church elders, were weighed in the balances and found wanting. This year, apparently we were in tune.

The ironic part of being welcomed into the songfest was that our group was about to break up. Actually I was breaking it up by kicking the Connelly brothers out of our team and replacing them with two of my friends who I liked better. This caused quite a stir in the church. Matter of fact, I was called in for a conference with the pastor’s wife, as she tried to explain that human beings had feelings and the Connelly brothers deserved better treatment.

I listened politely and then did what I always did. Ignored her. You see, the Connelly brothers didn’t mind. They sang their hearts out that night.

I don’t know if we sounded good or not, but we sure had fun. It was one of those times when I felt really grown-up, in charge and important. That’s hard to come by in a tiny town.

I thought a lot about what the pastor’s wife said on how to treat people and how to conduct your affairs in a way that would not upset anyone else. I came to the conclusion that this was going to be difficult.

I think many people thought I was a real dick when I was a teenager. But without being a little bit of a dick as a teenager, you can grow up to be a dickless adult.

So I decided to try to continually improve what I do and what I work with without upsetting people too much.

Yes, that should keep me really busy.Donate Button

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

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

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