Eye Love You

Eye Love You (1,132)

April 30th, 2011

The light of the body is the eye”. But let us never forget—the eye can only light up what’s already been stored up there in the attic. The eye really doesn’t EN-lighten us with new insight, but rather, just brings to our attention things we already find appealing.

Over the years, as I’ve shared and counseled with young couples, I’ve realized that the correct phrase to describe their particular attraction is, “EYE love you.” Their eyes were lit up with delightful lust and affection for one another. They saw something appealing, and from that sense of awe and appreciation, they created all sorts of emotional entanglements.

This would be disheartening if we didn’t all do exactly the same thing.

It is why attractive people have an advantage in our society over the more homely. Love is more easily given to those who stimulate the eye. We will even cut them more slack when they end up being less-than-the-brightest-bulb or have other deficiencies in talent. For after all, they have given our eyes a marvelous dance.

This is also why the Bible says that “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” It is not trying to say that human beings are incapable of deeper contemplation, but that most of the love we express is at least initially based upon the vision set before us.

Actually, there is an importance to “EYE love you.” Because bluntly, everybody has a need to be desired. “Ugly” rarely inhibits ego. Even if we’re unattractive, we still require at least the notion that somebody is uncontrollably drawn to our visage. It is vain and it is temporary. But it is human.

If you remove all the lust from love, you take away a good portion of the passion, and also the heat that generates the first fruits of commitment. So although we all have cautionary tales to share with our offspring about being too enveloped by infatuation, we must be careful not to be hypocritical, considering the evidence of how each and every one of us is also somewhat a slave to our own eyeballs.

EYE love you.

It is real. It is powerful. It is what manifests sexual chemistry and keeps procreation in business. Can you have love without the “eye” being, at the very least, appeased? I’m not so sure. Because even when love comes from a different direction—via more noble sentiments—we eventually do begin to see the person with greater sense of beauty. And it is not limited to an exchange between opposite sexes. Men are drawn to handsome men and women are certainly admiring of beautiful women.

The problem in our society is that we bounce amongst the many choices, extolling one over another for a season, only to make fun of our choices later on. Don’t lose the sensual part of love or you sacrifice some of its energy to legalism.

EYE love you. It is the first “eye” in love. And even though I have never considered myself to be handsome, I do fastidiously work on making my outer shell as viable to others as possible. Why? Because there aren’t many gifts we can give to a stranger. We should not incriminate them because they are less-than-friendly to our obtuse physical presentation.

In other words, clean yourself up and stop judging people because they judge. I grow weary of folks who say, “Judge not lest you be judged” when we darned-tootin’ well know that it is in the nature of our species to do so. Our job is to make sure we don’t give them extra ammunition to riddle us with critique.

Eye love you.

It should neither be criticized, nor reverenced. It is the animal magnetism that creates immediate attractions which can often dissipate with either the first romantic encounter or even sometimes by spending fifteen minutes listening to the person talk. It is our first “eye.”

More to come.

Published in: on April 30, 2011 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Feel Again

Feel Again (1,131)

April 29th, 2001

Wet washrag of my soul

Daily chores do take their toll

Does my faith make me whole?

Good question.

Squeeze the feel from my heart

Make today a brand new start

Looking for ways to make me smart

Trickle, trickle.

Whether to laugh or let it cry

To fight the fight or watch it die

Who, what, where, when or why?

Select one, please.

See me go

Watch me grow

Then you’ll know

By what I show

Tune in.

Take your place

In the human race

Find that space

To make a case

Come on, y’all.

Rejoice my friend,

Scare the sin

Choose to win

Come now, it ain’t that bad

Feel again.

Published in: on April 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Found the Log

I Found the Log (1,130)

April 28th, 2011

The Sermon on the Mount is dynamite. Not dynamite in the sense of outstanding and terrific—certainly it is that, too. But dynamite in that it needs to be handled carefully or it will blow up in your face.

The way it’s taught in the church is pure pabulum—similar to putting nursery rhyme music for the soundtrack to The Godfather. We are so desperate to turn Jesus into the loving, tender, compassionate savior that we’re willing to interpret his words in order to maintain this selected public image.

Actually, Jesus was a hard ass. Not hyper-critical of people’s morals and faults, but with the expectation that human beings should rise from the evolutionary goo and become personally responsible individuals, willing to pursue excellence.

One such example is when Jesus told us that we should take the log out of our own eye before we even dare consider the speck of sawdust in our brother’s eye. But what is the log?

I found it. At least I think so.

The log is this: “I need to be right.” And I am willing to do almost anything to make sure that the integrity of my rightness is neither defiled, questioned or tread upon. The greatest frailty in the human psyche is the need to be better than someone else. I can’t be better if I’m not right all the time. That would mean I would have to learn something from someone else, and that’s just downright terrifying.

This causes me to accumulate so many specks of sawdust that they eventually turn into a log. I have a mass accumulation of inconsistencies which have been explained away in such verbosity that they would make the novel War and Peace look like a pamphlet.

This is the log. And this is also how I decide who is in my favor and who is on the outs with me. Anyone who is willing to let me continue my charade of assumed excellence is acceptable, and any person who dares to even connote that I might lack in some way is on the journey to become my bitter enemy.

There is only one cure for the log: humorous assessment of one’s own vacuous nature.

Until then, the worst critics of fat people will be other fat people. They are always trying to figure out if the person in front of them in line is fatter than they are.

The worst bigots against black people are, and always have been, in the black community. They compare colors, cultures and education at will.

Politicians accuse other politicians of graft and corruption, mirroring their own guilty consciences.

We strike out at others, fearing their pending superiority. So what is the cure? It’s quite simple. We must be prepared to give a personal testimony on the state of our being—right and wrong. Once I understand that I have imperfections and they are not destroying the world and the earth is still revolving, I am much more pleasant for you to be around also. Until then, I am like a powder keg with a fuse inserted, as I stand nearby, holding a match, ready to light up and explode in your face.

So what can we do to remove the log so that we can more tenderly and clearly help our brothers and sisters remove their specks?

1. Find out what really is perfect and speak it aloud. It will be obvious—it’s the thing that is actually working, right next to your mediocrity.

2. Purposely seek out someone who’s better than you at something you think you have accomplished and tell them what a good job they’re doing.It’s like a breath mint for your soul.

3. Pair things off. In other words, be prepared to say something good and something bad about yourself—in the same sentence. For example: “I may not be the greatest communicator in the world, but I have learned how to talk better on the phone.”

4. And finally, don’t be afraid. That’s a big one. All fear is based upon the expectation that things should be different than they are. Once you accept the fact that things are the way they are for a reason and you can live with it, fear has no place to live.

I have found the log. It is me needing to be right.

If I can accept the fact that my wrongs do not take me out of the equation of the love of God or even the love of others, I no longer need to walk around with a big board sticking out of my head—leaving people bored with my false bravado.

Published in: on April 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Tale of Two Tiffins

A Tale of Two Tiffins (1,129)

April 27th, 2011

A time for the best. It was a time for the worst.

I found myself in Tiffin, Ohio, in 1972, at one of those burgeoning coffee-house-type establishments that became prevalent during that particular season. It was called The Gathering Place. I was just twenty years old and had a music group dubbed Soul Purpose and we were so wet behind the ears that we tended to drip on people. But we had passion. After all, some people extol planning, financial security and backing. I understand that philosophy. But without passion, you have a beautiful car with no engine.

We arrived at the coffee house and set up our meager PA system and prepared to offer our limited repertoire. At that point I had written four songs. I added in a few selections from the day, like My Sweet Lord by George Harrison, and That’s the Way God Planned It, from Billy Preston. Nine people showed up to see us at the coffee house. I didn’t care. I was just thrilled to be able to do what I did in front of anybody who was willing to listen. Fortunately for me, these strangers were moved by my simple songs—and even though we were all dressed like we were going to the prom because none of us owned clothes worthy of public consumption that didn’t have ruffles and bows, the blue-jean-clad audience still accepted us—because we had heart.

Move ahead thirty-nine years to last night, when I found myself once again in Tiffin, but this time, in Iowa. On this night, I was able to fellowship and commune with thirteen people. Now most folks would not consider that to be progress. I think that averages out to an increase of one person per decade.

But poo-poo on statistics.

I now have many more songs. I have the dust of nearly four decades of journeying behind me. I am no longer wearing clothes suitable for a school dance, but have simplified my wardrobe down to duds that are comfortable but acceptable. My PA system is much more sophisticated.

Still, the enduring quality—the ongoing evidence of my value—is passion. After all these years, I continue to be excited about what I do—no matter how many or how few are present. I’m not an idiot—I prefer five hundred to five. But it doesn’t diminish the passion because the numbers diminish.

And just like that night so many years ago in Tiffin, Ohio, the audience in Tiffin, Iowa, decided to abandon its phobias and apprehensions and embrace this vagabond. We included one another for an hour—bonded into each other’s lives. It is a remarkable adventure.

A tale of two Tiffins.

The similarities are marked by the reverence I possess for passion. The growth is made evident by the fruit of more material and enhanced procedures. But nothing can change the results, which are made known when I make myself passionate and I share that with grace to them.

Me blended with them becomes us.

And in a generation which festers with alienation, that union of purposes truly fosters the best of times.

Published in: on April 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Nice Try

Nice Try (1,128)

April 26th, 2011

I weighed three hundred pounds when I entered the eighth grade. The potential tragedy of that situation was somewhat alleviated by the fact that I was athletic—playing football and basketball. But every year in gym class, for a six-week period, we would do tumbling. I can’t tumble. No way, no shape and certainly, no form.

So for forty-two days, I became nearly convinced that my real name was “Nice Try.” Because every time I would attempt to do one of the numerous contortions demanded by my coach, I would end up in some sort of inglorious heap with a few muffled giggles from the surrounding peanut gallery and the coach ringing out a basal, “Nice try!”

I know it may sound foolish but I was encouraged by those words. A better word might be “salved.” My ego, which was greatly deflated by my failure, was given an ointment of reprieve by being told “at least I tried.”

I felt that way until one day I forgot something in the locker room and I came back in and heard laughter. I peered around a corner and saw two of the coaches giggling as another coach was seemingly imitating my particular prowess at the art of gymnastics. They never knew I was there.

I giggled, too. It was really quite funny. But I also walked out of that locker room knowing that even though people say, “All you have to do is try,” they don’t really mean it.

For after all, I can call my bank on the fifteenth of every month and tell them that I collected some funds for the mortgage and that I did really well, only fall short by a small amount, and the response will never be, “Nice try.”

The policeman stopping me for speeding will not give me grace because I explain to him that I was in a hurry to get home “because it was taco night.”

My family is not particularly generous in spirit when they need something desperately to maintain the dignity of their stuff and I have failed to bring in the bread—or the bacon.

We live in a world that espouses a philosophy of “all you have to do is try,” while simultaneously demanding evidence of our efforts and actually requiring success.

I don’t think that’s a bad thing unless we are fooled into believing that trying is the same as doing. Religion pipes in by saying that “salvation is a free gift of God and we’re all saved by grace.” But if you read a little further, you realize that God gives grace to the humble and he resists the proud, so how prideful is it for us to assume that we’re going to get grace when we haven’t done anything to even attempt to deserve it?

It is an unnatural and fictitious notion. I may be allowed one try without incrimination—and I say, MAY be. But by the time I go for the second bite of the apple, I had better bring some teeth. I have learned this.

Now, I know that some of you may read this and think, “But Jon—we need to cut each other slack.” It’s very difficult to argue with sentiment. Sentiment always seems to be righteous until it’s put into practice. What we need to do is to teach people to ask three questions before they launch into any endeavor.

1. What is it? Ignorance is the foundation laid for all future failure. Most of the reason we do not complete our tasks is because we never had any idea in the first place what it was all about. Don’t be afraid to ask the question: “What is this?”

2. Which leads to the second question: “What is expected of me?” Be prepared for that piped-in answer, “Just try,” to which you should respond, “Okay, I will do that, but when I get done with my attempt, what do you think should happen?” I can survive failure. I cannot endure your disappointment.

3. And the third and final question: “How will I know I did well?” For we all know there is no A for effort. Is there a number? Is there an award? Is there a trumpet that will be sounded? Or better yet, is there actually a finish line? Many people grow weary in well-doing because the task does not have an ending. It is frustrating beyond all measure to work all day long on something that neither provides energy back your way or evidence that anything was actually accomplished.

So you can continue to participate in the “nice try” jargon if you wish. But just as I peeked around the corner and caught a glimpse that day in the locker room of what people really thought of my tumbling, I now know that my efforts are only valuable if I truly understand where we’re going in the first place.

Published in: on April 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

If You Don’t Mind, Just One More

If You Don’t Mind, Just One More (1,127)

April 25th, 2011

Easter is over. I’m sure some people are relieved, as they stuff their mouths with chocolate or bacon rinds. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to take just one more stop-in on the subject.

In reading Luke the twenty-second chapter, verse three, I was halted yesterday afternoon. I mean, the scripture will be familiar to you: “And Satan entered Judas.”

This possibly will conjure visions of demon possession, frothing at the mouth or hearing voices screaming in his head. There may have been moments of that—I’m not sure. But that’s not who Satan is.

The word “Satan” in Hebrew means adversary and in the Greek it translates to accuser. It got me thinking about how often I allow that same procedure to happen in my own life.

Some of you may be a little uncomfortable with me comparing myself—or even insinuating that human beings in general—are capable of reaching the level of treachery or betrayal exemplified by Judas bar Simon of Kerioth, known as “the Iscariot.” It’s because we fail to realize that the word iscariot, in the Greek, means assassin. So there you have it. The triple “a’s” of self-destruction—adversary, accuser and assassin.

You see, somewhere along the line, Judas made an adversary out of himself. At least, he made himself an adversary to his better nature. Maybe it’s because things didn’t move fast enough. Maybe it’s because he had an unhealed wound of dissatisfaction, which festered every time somebody would dare come up against him. Maybe the blending of his childhood, his religious training, his business failures and his own shortcomings all blended together to make him more “touchy” than “feely.”

I’m not sure. But I know that I experience that phenomenon and if I don’t catch it early I become offensive to myself and therefore believe that the world around me is out of kilter—and then all my morals and ethics are negotiable.

It is an easy step to aggravation and becoming an accuser. I look for reasons that other people are really worse than I am. For after all, in the long run maybe we do love our neighbor as ourselves—at least we treat our neighbor as off-handedly and carelessly as we do ourselves. The end result? We look for excuses to attack, criticize and disagree, all under the banner of having an “adult, mature right to be individuals” and autonomous.

For example, a discussion will ensue in a room, lending itself to a bit of combativeness. We portray ourselves as being reasonable, only to have the person we were conversing with leave and then we begin to talk behind his back or cast aspersions on his character to the surrounding onlookers. It’s usually done with enough comedic presence that if we were challenged by someone for being gossipers or back-biters, we could escape into the pod of alleged humor. It’s sneaky.

But after we turn ourselves into an adversary by being disgruntled and dissatisfied with our own status in life, here comes the Greek definition of Satan—the accuser. A slippery slope. Yes, we dig up rumor and embellish it with our own findings to quietly disassemble the virtue of another. After all, how far is it from accusing someone to the complete assassination of his character?

Lo and behold, I do see it in myself. With any luck, I stop that initial adversary before he builds a home in my heart and welcomes in his Satan II, the accuser. But when I haven’t, the assassin is not far behind.

Some people want to give Judas a pass—that he was robbed of free will, forced to become the fink who turned in the Messiah. Other folks want to believe that he was possessed of devils and that’s why he was capable of such a horrendous act.

But I guess no one wants to consider that he was just “me”—or maybe “you”—turning ourselves into our own worst enemies and from that frustrated, aggravated position, commencing to accuse the world around us until eventually we assassinate the holiest things in our lives.

Yes, I decided yesterday that Judas was just me on a really bad day. Or maybe better stated, a series of bad days.

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 10:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Resurrection Day — Who I am

Resurrection Day – Who I Am (1,126)

April 24th, 2011

House cleaning is done.

One of the most difficult things to understand about resurrection is that it demands death and a burial. I have reached the point in my life where I am glad for some old, bad habits to die. I get a certain amount of glee from burying them, with the hope that what resurrects will actually have new—and better—life.

Here’s what I learned from my house cleaning:

What I feel is that emotionally, I want to be healthy, wealthy and wise.

To be healthy I have to be honest with myself and experiment with at least one other person, sharing that candor with the aspiration of living as transparently as possible.

I know the only way to emotionally be wealthy is to challenge the “normal” parts of our society which have been proven to be ineffective, knowing that when the change comes I will already be there, waiting for the crowd to show up.

And the only way to be wise is to question everything that doesn’t have the Golden Rule in it; anything that leaves people out of life is absent of God.

And speaking of God—that leads to what I believe.

I believe that His kingdom should come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I have no sense of the glory of eternity if I can’t find some sweetness in the present.

What I believe about my family is that I should love my neighbor as myself. I do not diminish my affection for my immediate off-spring by extending gentleness and mercy to the family of man. I just want to make my family bigger, not smaller.

And the best way to love my country—America—is to tell this great nation that “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” When we stop seeking the truth and try to take short cuts or believe we have some manifest destiny simply because we’re Americans, we just naturally begin to lose some of our freedoms.

With that belief system in line, I am ready to think. And the first thing I will remove from my thinking is the notion that life is hard. Every time I hear somebody say it I am going to laugh inside and start thinking about what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report and anything worthy of praise. I think that will probably keep me busy enough.

My mind fully renewed with all of that good stuff, I am ready to go out and do something. I’m also ready to consider. After all, if there is anything that can benefit others, I don’t really need to debate it. I’m just going to do it. And the reason I can be confident about that is that I have taken the time to consider how nature and the animal kingdoms work, and even how the lily grows. God is never hidden from us. He is just one miracle of nature away.

So who am I on this resurrection morning?

I am a person who refuses to hide his feelings, who believes that God is all around us and not just in the Bible or in heaven;, that refuses to think life is hard, who does what will benefit others without giving it a second thought, and considers how God’s creation works in honoring me—and God’s kingdom.

That’s my house cleaning, leading to my resurrection—because someday we all will die and be buried for real and the only thing that will ever come out of our grave site is our names. When our names are mentioned, what emotions, beliefs, thinking and actions will be brought to remembrance in those left behind?

That is our resurrection.

Choose wisely.

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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