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@2019 John Mark Pantana
Website created by John Mark Pantana.

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I did Thanksgiving with friends this past year. Bonnie made the best strawberry pie I've ever had. Thick cuts of honey-marinated turkey, copious amounts of jams and bread, creamy-garlic potatoes, crunchy-nut-medley mixed in homemade cranberry sauce. Plates full, we feasted around the warmness of kind-hearted friendship. Old-school feel-good jazz scratched softly in the background behind steady laughter. You could cut the goodness in the air with a knife.

Transition to the living room. After ham: couches are like cozy cocoons for full-bellies. Jake lay half asleep on the red-cocoon next to me. He's either in a food coma or ascending into heaven. He actually believes we are seated in heavenly places. I've yet to experience that truth where I'm conscious of it - kickin' it with Moses and Elijah. I think milk and honey would be involved.

Jake is open to stranger things: ascending to heaven (Paul), chatting with angels (Mary), transporting (Philip). I don't fully understand but I've stopped putting the unusual past God; especially after seeing Planet Earth: Oceans. I mean, c'mon. Those translucent creatures are an actual freak-show. God has some quirk. He might even have a line of pink through His Southern-Baptist hair. Which would look pretty bold on His middle-eastern Jewish body. 

These were my tryptophan-induced thoughts. The flamboyance gave everyone a case of the giggles. Holiday-levels of punchy, warm-fuzzies. I've learned you time it right and your words can force an audience to open their mouths and make silly noises. Internationally known as: laughing. I used to think humor was opposed to spirituality. Stoicism: the most holy expression. That's what religion told me. I grew up thinking there was something intrinsically wrong with me and that my goofy-ness needed repentance. Ironically, the more I get to know God as my Daddio the goofier I become. And I wouldn't standardize that result as a mandate. We are all unique expressions of His nature. The more you engage His goodness, the more free you'll become. Fear binds your you-ness. Freedom unlocks your God-given personality to its fullest potential.

The first prophetic word I ever received was "you make God laugh". I didn't have a grid for it. God was still square at that point; grumpy white-beard, lightning-bolt in hand with occasional snuggle-sesh based on Bible-reading-success. Could it be that God was not offended at jest? It took many years of metanoia (the renewal of my mind) before I could enjoy God with jovial delight. Goofy glory. I have fun with God. Tell that to the 8th-grade-christian-chapel version of John Mark and he'd think you'd gone bonkers. My most intimate moments have been bouts of deep laughter. Those shed off the religious-grumpies real fast. You think you can have a good old laugh with your friends but not with the Joy-King? He sits on His throne and laughs: tender smile lines and deep vibrations of glorious-glee. Joy is a person and He permeates cosmic happiness-waves from the seat of His heart.

Psalm 16:11

You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy and utter bliss. At Your right hand are pleasures forever and ever.

I used to be jealous of people who indulged the flesh. Then I tasted the world and its a sugary-sweet mixed-drink with a royal hangover. Sin is like licking old crumbs under the King's table; shadows of real food. Imagine living your whole life and only eating crusty poo-patties. Once I tasted the Lord and knew His satiating goodness, no one had to convince me to stop eating garbage. Bite into a hot-and-juicy Chik-Fil-A sandwich after an exclusive diet of Long John Silver's and some major life changes are about to happen. I picture the LORD saying, "My pleasure" to your wide-eyed-salivating-face-of-wowness. 

Jesus has set the table for you to come and feast on all the goodness of God; the spread is glorious. There's a chair reserved just for you. Have you tasted the goods of the world and seen how empty they are? Come and have a real meal. God is ringing the dinner bell. And it's always like Thanksgiving in heaven. Do you hear His thunderous belly-laughter welcoming you? He is pure pleasure and satisfaction! Come. Taste and see.