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A minister of the gospel, while on his way to a funeral, stopped by to visit a member of his church, an old widow woman. The old lady had made several sausages and she was quite proud of them – they were so nice, so round and so sweet. She insisted the preacher should take a piece home to his family. After several pleas, the minister gave permission, and the lady wrapped a portion of sausage in a cloth and placed it in the spacious pocket of his vestment. So supplied, the minister then made his way to the graveside service.

During the ceremony at the grave a hungry dog detected the sausage and promptly traced it to the minister’s pocket. This of course created a big disturbance as the minister had to repeatedly fend it off with some well placed kicks. After the service at the graveside, the preacher and the mourners moved to the church for the funeral sermon. With the sermon over, a brother affected by the service approached the stairs to the pulpit and sought attention by tugging at the minister’s vestment. The minister, still thinking of the dog and what was in his pocket, picked up his foot, made a powerful thrust and pushed the poor brother down the stairs. Afterward, looking down and realizing what his effort had accomplished, he apologized; “I must confess and can no longer hide what’s going on. I have a sausage in my pocket and, for the whole time that I’ve been here, a dog has been trying to snatch it away.”

One can only imagine the effect this had on the mourners; the sorrowing was displaced with laughter as everyone left the service.

(Translated from an old German Almanac by Jonas Borntreger. 5/2/2013)

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In order for any local congregation of the church of Jesus Christ to reach its maximum effectiveness it needs to stand in direct opposition to the “consumer oriented” mindset that often pervades our society. Church is not a democracy; it does not exist by the people, of the people, and for the people. The church is the church of KING JESUS. The church has a mission; a mission to fulfill the coming of HIS KINGDOM;” doing HIS WILL in the earth as it is being done in Heaven.” In this church we are servants – slaves even – who are totally divested of our own rights, and who patiently wait, standing quietly in the corner of the room, to attend to HIS every need. Paul said, “we are not our own, bought with a price, we therefore glorify God.”

If we take a somewhat cursory glance at ourselves we might frequently see our spoiled behaviors. We often require our pastors to handle us with kid gloves; and we walk out rather than yielding ourselves to biblical discipline. We have often developed the opinion that church is a vehicle for obtaining “our best life yet.” We have allowed ourselves to believe that church exists to provide for everything from healing Aunt Nellie’s Bursitis to – after we have wrung out the last dregs of this life – providing a fantastic fire escape plan for us when we die. We shop for our religious experiences the same way we shop for our cars, our furniture, and our fashions. We try to keep our young people in our congregations by offering Holy Ghost Highs; we strive to be “seeker friendly;” and we try to design programs to meet everyone’s needs. In short, we give them everything they ask for and then we wonder why they wander at the first hint of something that requires dedication and perseverance.

Contradicting our approaches, Jesus often challenged the people who engaged him. “Birds have nests,” he said, foxes have holes; I have no place to lay my head. Why would you want to follow me?” Our king said, “Oh, so you want to be my disciple, fine! Here’s your first job. See that cross lying there. Grab it, drag it up that hill, and place it beside mine; and after that, go and practice loving my disciples to the same extent that I have loved you. Be truly one with me and with each other, and when that love blazes brightly the world out there will see it and recognize that you are my disciples. That’s the only outreach program that I desire for MY CHURCH”

Jonas Borntreger
Feb. 2013

 

An insult is the involuntary exchange of social currency. It is a robbery of human dignity and accomplishes this even while it also, at the same time, depreciates the person issuing the insult. In order for our social networks to function properly, all insulting behaviors need to be recognized and confronted. There are two reasons why I believe this is so.

First, an insulted person who vainly tries to simply ignore the insult will usually be unable to do so because of resentment growing inside of himself. The social debt is trying to demand repayment and will often manifest itself in vindictive activities, or in a parting of ways with the insulting individual. An insulted person needs to have the option of either collecting against the debt by obtaining an apology or by choosing to outright forgive it. I can’t forgive what I claim isn’t present and thus, both of these options are closed to me if the insult is never confronted.

The other reason for confronting insults is for the benefit of the insulter himself. An un-confronted insult can never be repaid by the person issuing the insult because for him also, it does not exist, even while it is devaluing him and stripping him of his dignity. Once confronted, the insulter now has his options also. After confrontation, he is now allowed to choose if, how, or when to repay his debt by making amends, but he can no longer continue cowardly hiding behind his misdeeds.

Jonas J Borntreger
Jan. 2013

It is one of those abnormal days that normally come to my small town.

Before the dawn I slip the bonds of my bed and merge into the darkness outside my front door. Southwest of us there is the constant strobe from lightening – a fitting sequel to yesterday’s un-normally pleasant fall day. Before the dawn – lights come on – briefly. A working mother hurries her two across the street. She pushes them; she pushes the fob in her hand; car lights blink twice. Half a block away a porch light also comes on; a woman kisses a man in a doorway; the door closes and the light goes back out. The lightning keeps flashing.

The early mornings in my small town have sounds. Three miles west of me a train signals as it approaches a crossing; down on Interstate Eighty, whining turbochargers kick in and ram air into the gluttonous throats of big diesel engines; a Killdeer makes its strident calls as it flies off somewhere down my street; in a field southeast of here an enormous reaping machine, behind some piercing lights, goes after several more early morning acres before the lightening yields to the rain.

The dawn is closer now; so also the lightening; so also the rain. The associated thunders now mix with the other sounds around me. The train now comes to my crossing, announces its presence, and rumbles past. The breeze picks up and the first drops fall; I move my contemplations inside my dwelling. I move to safety – I move, anticipating the normal. The thunder now rumbles beyond me also and soon the sun comes out. I sit in fellowship at my breakfast table and raise my orange juice glass. L’chei-im – I toast for life.

It is an abnormal day in my small town. Somewhere close to me someone will not rise with the dawning. Somewhere, the struggle continues for a few more breaths, a few more moments with loved ones, just a few more acres in the field of life. And then the gentle breeze brings on the rain. Somewhere the “grinders cease” but the rain will not. Two men will be together in a field, one will be taken and the other left. It is what normally takes place some of those early mornings in my small town.

Jonas Borntreger
10/22/2012

And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Matt 22:12  KJV

 

Marlene recently asked me a question about the man that was thrown from the wedding feast that Jesus tells about in Matthew chapter twenty-two. Her probing also got me to mulling over this seemingly strange incident.

 

The background in this Parable that Jesus told is about a king who made a sumptuous feast to celebrate the nuptials of his son. When the servants were sent to retrieve the invited guests they were met with a variety of excuses and outright disdain. After dealing with the first invitees, the king commanded the servants into the hinterlands for a no-holds-barred effort to fill his house. Why then, after all this activity, would a guest be humiliated before the other guests and thrown out for the seemingly minor offence of not being properly dressed? The answer begs us to dig deeper.

 

In the Ancient Near East what one was wearing was considered very important. The people classes were extremely stratified and instantly recognized by their apparel. A beggar dressed like a beggar, and a harlot like a harlot. Bridegrooms and brides; married women and virgins were easily identified as well as merchants, farmers, political leaders, lawyers, tax collectors, scribes and Pharisees. Dressing out of your class was looked upon as an attempt to deceive and viewed with disdain. When the king invited his guests he added the proviso that all should abandon their positions. The humble were exalted and the high were made low. The garments included in the invitation specified that all should arrive at the feast classless, with no other status than to be the honored guest of the bride and groom.

 

Understanding this, we might more easily understand the disdain shown by the first invitees. Can’t you just imagine the reaction a scribe might have when shown the garment he was expected to wear? “Well who does that king think he is? For sixty-five long years I’ve been the head of the royal library. I have carefully copied, filed and maintained His Majesties’ documents and he expects me to show up dressed no differently than one of his lowly stable hands. I’m telling you, he can just take his silly invitation, and the robe with it, and shove it.”

 

This brings us to the man that did show up. While we’re imagining, perhaps we might divine the following exchange also.

 

“I have heard that the king places a special emphasis on humility If I show up dressed as a pauper he would most likely extend special recognition and honor my self righteous attempts at pleasing him.”

 

The Great King has always been a “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  He hates pride, and recognizes it in all of its many disguises. He began his cleansing career by banishing the Angel of Light from his presence. We should not marvel about the actions implied in this parable.

 

I AM COVERED OVER

 

I AM COVERED OVER WITH THE ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT 
JESUS GIVES TO ME, GIVES TO ME,
I AM COVERED OVER WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF JESUS 
AND HE LIVES IN ME, LIVES IN ME,
WHAT A JOY IT IS TO KNOW MY HEAVENLY FATHER LOVES ME SO, 
HE GIVES TO ME, MY JESUS,
WHEN HE LOOKS AT ME HE SEES NOT WHAT I USED TO BE,
BUT HE SEES JESUS, JESUS
 
                                 By Unlisted
 
 
Jonas Borntreger

I recently watched a video where Floyd McClung answered the question, “What was the highlight of your life this past year?” After admitting that many would seem it strange, he said it was the funeral of his father.

His answer struck a responsive chord with me. I also had a part in an end-of-life service this past year. My mother”s home going last April was the climax of an humble and unselfish life. Being a participant as we watched a mother lead her extended family to the crossing, and then, without fear or complaining showed us, “This is how it’s done;” was fantastic beyond bounds.

If you care to comment; I would be interested to hear what was the highlight of your recent past.

Yea a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Luke 2:35

In my reading this morning, I once again came across the concept about how unfairly Jacob treated young Joseph by presenting him with favor and a special coat. The author seemed to fault Jacob for “Promoting Joseph prematurely”. The writer was certainly not alone in the opinion expressed, and while this lesson may have value when raising children, (a concept, which I also sometimes question,) faulting Jacob seems to me to be short-sighted and ignores what I suspect may be an element of wisdom in Jacob’s dealing with his sons.

The basis of my suppositions is the activities which I see from my Heavenly Father, himself. As I study the scriptures I come up with a whole variety of examples where God seems to choose, and, rather arbitrarily, sets the stage for conflict among his children. The first of those examples is none other than with the first set of his children. Two young men bring an offering to him. How nice! He accepts one and rejects the other. How unfair! And it just goes on from there.

He gives Abraham and Sarah the promise of a special son and then holds out on fulfilling that promise until, driven to the point of desperation; Abraham takes matters into another woman’s bed and sets the stage for the Arab conflict that lasts to this day. Next, Abraham’s Daughter-in-law is told, “I reject your first child for the birthright blessing and instead pick the younger.” In case you miss the point, let me ramp it to the next level.

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Duet. 7:6-8 KJV

So tell me mister! Why should a band of scruffy nomads get plunked down into a strategic area in the middle of the Middle East – and with a special promise like that?

It certainly doesn’t stop there:

God somehow gets a virgin pregnant, and puts her under the threat of being stoned. Next he claims that her offspring should be “His Only Begotten Son” He announces that son with a special star and an angel choir. This action trips a pagan king into mass executions; (Rachel, Abraham’s daughter-in-law, still weeps for her children.) and makes that special son a fugitive in Egypt. When the Heavenly Father next declares that son before the world, it is with the proclamation of a prophet, the descent of a dove, and a thundering voice from heaven, “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED. Jesus wore his own version of the many colored coat; walked a path of specialness; and followed a course that had no options short of leading straight to a Roman cross. Once again, God demonstrated that “His ways” and “His thoughts” are certainly not ours.

Somehow I suspect that Jacob knew; he was doing more than just spoiling a son.

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