1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Become a Better Communicator)

Don’t Quote From the Bible

Or Shakespeare, for that matter.

You might want to avoid constantly popping off with lines from old movies.

And nobody’s that interested in what your grandmother once said.

Human beings are just adverse to verse.

Along with coming across pious, self-righteous and intimidating, it leaves the listeners feeling ignorant if they’re not aware of the reference or fail to measure up to the content.

The Good Book even warns that “the letter kills.” In other words, quoting the Bible without allowing for the spirit of the idea to be included does nothing but condemn people.

HOW DO HUMANS LEARN?

Human folks do not learn by hearing lessons or even reading intelligent reports.

We imitate.

We see things we like or we view actions which have proven to be successful, and we come up with our own rendition.

Whenever you quote from the Bible, you’re not only telling people that “God has spoken,” but you’re also interpreting what God means. And the Good Book itself makes it clear that there is no private interpretation. In other words, you and I have not cornered the market on summarizing the heart of God.

This is why Jesus suggested that we “let our light shine before men, that they see our good works”–and then, from that positive experience, they can glorify the Father in Heaven.

The Bible does not encourage people to become faithful followers. You do that through the “word of your testimony.” Learn how to interact without needing to reinforce your experience with an “amen” from Almighty God.

It will turn you into a much better communicator.

 

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Cracked 5 … December 1st, 2018


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Cracked 5

Things I Don’t Want for Christmas

 

A. Coffee cup with Grandpa Something-or-other on it

 

B. A gift card from a store I’ve never been to

 

C. Anything that needs an explanation

 

D. A Bible, no matter what translation

 

E. A gag gift. There’s a reason they call it “gag”

Christmas drawing

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Catchy (Sitting 67) Just When You Realized the Donkey’s Ears Were Not As Long As You Originally Thought… September 23rd, 2018

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The name of the restaurant was Vous L’Appelez, which was French for “You Name It.”

It was one of nine restaurants at the Haven on the Mount which offered all sorts of fine cuisine at very reasonable prices since money was not an issue.

The frustration of cash had been removed from the compound by using credits and bartering as a way of distributing goods and services instead of passing around American currency, which really had no relevance. Each family maintained their own personal accounts in other parts of the world, depending on whether they wanted to be “missing in action,” or “presumed dead.”

But Vous L’Appelez had a wonderful advertising scheme of offering anything you wanted to eat–as long as you phoned ahead. Matthew had rented the entire facility for the evening, for what he hoped would be a very special night.

It was the six-month anniversary of his arrival in the mountains, and he felt it was time to sit down with Leonora, offer a ring and a proposal he hoped she would not refuse. Their relationship was sweet. It was well-thought-out. It was without contention–for after all, everything in the region was minus strife and the pursuit of vanity. Their romance was clean, free of obstruction.

But there were moments when Matthew felt that the energetic young woman, who had a tendency to lose interest very quickly, was absent and that her mind was floating to other concerns, even during their times of intimacy.

He had no way of proving it. Every time he brought up some problem with their connection, she cited a hundred examples of bliss and joy. So pushing past his own foolish insecurity and overbearing need to throw a wrench into all great works, he set up this dinner–this meeting, this moment–to once and for all enter a relationship with a woman that would last for more than a night.

It had been an amazing six months. Although he had seen Michael Hinston for some meetings and luncheons, and made sure to connect with Jo-Jay, and even had a coffee a time or two with the billionaire king himself, most of his daytime hours were spent being mentored and emotionally healed by Joshua Jackson.

Joshua was a large man–formidable. Almost frightening. Had it not been for his gentle eyes and warm embraces, Matthew would have been intimidated.

Joshua knew everything.

He knew all the stories of what led up to Matthew’s arrival at the Haven on the Mount and he seemed to have a unique way of taking the cumbersome Bible scriptures and bringing them down to common sense and simplicity for the often-cynical former marketer.

They developed such a deep friendship that several of the residents mistook Joshua and Matthew for lovers. So Matthew was careful to spend his days with Joshua and his nights with Leonora. He wanted to at least appear bi-sexual.

Joshua filled in many of the blanks. He explained a phenomenon that Matthew had never considered–that in every organization there always existed a subversive core of individuals who wanted to use the power of their authority to gain wealth, even if they had to hurt other people.

It made no difference if the organization was a library, a country or a bank–tucked deep into the underbelly of every business or corporation were the radicals who desired to manipulate.

Joshua had been hired to find those under-bellies. It was his job to join them, fellowship with them, drink their favorite booze and learn how to prevent their nasty plans from destroying the movement.

Therefore he often appeared to be the enemy, when he was actually the stopgap who kept tragedy from befalling the lives of those who were trying to bring a little peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.

Joshua had planned the abduction of Jo-Jay, rescuing her through that kidnapping from being murdered by a car bomb. He had carefully placed her in the Amazon forest, knowing full well that another member of the team, Reverend Paulson, would be nearby for the recovery when the time was right.

(Matter of fact, the Paulson family, with both children, were currently dwelling in the Haven on the Mount–a blessed retirement for years of bringing the Gospel to the ignored.)

Joshua had also quietly saved Jubal’s life several times, and had even set in motion a plan to foil the plot in Salisbury, North Carolina, killing believers, by joining up with the three assassins. Joshua’s plan was to murder the trio right before the attack. Unfortunately, his fellow-assassins got nervous and antsy, and decided to instigate the job before Joshua arrived.

When Joshua came to Salisbury and saw the death and destruction around him, he was overcome with grief and took his pistol and aimed it at his head to take his own life, feeling he had failed.

It was Carlin Canaby who stopped him; otherwise he would have been marked by all eternity as one of the deceased murderers.

This was before Carlin became known by the group, standing on the sidelines to make sure “the edges didn’t curl up.”

Joshua told story after story of his work among the more sinister, rebellious elements around the country–how each secret counter-culture had manufactured an America in their minds that was run either by Satan or greed.

Time and time again he stepped in to fill the need–a space which was fortunately unknown to most people because of his effectiveness.

Notably, the Christian Liberty Operation (the CLO) used him as an operative and because of his work there, he was able to expose an errant terrorist group within their own ranks, preventing disaster–thereby legitimizing what turned out to be a worthwhile organization.

Matthew fell in love with Joshua–a brotherly love he had never experienced before. He had never known anyone like Joshua. Joshua was candid. Joshua was self-effacing, without being frightened or imbalanced.

Joshua loved people.

After he was convinced that Matthew could be trusted, Joshua shared the story of Prophet Morgan. He did so quietly but defiantly. Joshua still questioned what happened to the young preacher. He believed that Arthur Harts had made a hasty decision because of his dislike of the Southern boy.

Joshua explained that there was no doubt that Morgan was a drug addict. He had started as a boy–to try to keep up with his father’s tent revivals, to stay alert and energetic, but then he was never able to get out from under the monkey on his back, which gradually turned into a gorilla, smashing him into the ground.

Joshua worked with him. Because Prophet Morgan did not know who Joshua was or why he was there, Joshua was able to take him on like a little brother. But the Prophet was determined to fulfill his own dark self-prophesy.

When it became obvious to Joshua that the boy needed help and rehabilitation–perhaps to be brought to the Haven on the Mount to heal–Harts refused.

He explained to Joshua, “To everything there’s a season. This is not a season for the young Prophet.”

Three days later, Morgan took his car out into the middle of the desert and found a way to kill himself. Even though many people in Vegas thought it was a murder, it was, in fact, a horrible suicide.

Joshua closed the story by saying to Matthew, “I do understand. And I do appreciate the importance of the decision. I just don’t agree.”

Matthew had six months of rich conversations and revelations in his mind as he sat down to dinner with Leonora.

He had requested all forms of baked and broiled seafood along with tropical fruits. She loved that mixture and so did he. They dined, they giggled a bit, and they both chilled with joy over being together in such a safe utopia.

Dinner came to an end and Leonora was growing a bit impatient from hanging around the restaurant. Matthew knew he needed to make his move.

What was stopping him? Why didn’t he just reach into his pocket and pull out the ring–a family heirloom provided by Billionaire Harts for the occasion–and place it on her finger?

There was one question–an unanswered, festering notion–that he needed her to explain. It was so awkward, perhaps petty. But still–he wanted to know.

Matthew geared up his courage, guzzled some mineral water, took her hands, looked into her eyes, and said, “I have a question.”

She nodded her head, maintaining her eye contact.

“When I was so sick,” he began, “and it was obvious I needed a liver transplant–but more importantly, I needed you–why did you choose that moment to go away?”

She surprised him. She bristled, stiffened and pulled her hands back.

“Why are we going into this now?” she asked. “I thought…”

Then she stopped.

“You thought what?” asked Matthew.

She shook her head. He leaned forward, drawing closer to her face.

“No, Leonora. Tell me. You thought what?”

Leonora stood to her feet, stepped behind her chair, pivoted and spoke. “I thought you were going to propose to me tonight.”

Matthew leaned back. “What gave you that idea?”

Leonora stepped a couple of feet away, and then turned and replied. “You know what gave me that idea. My grandfather said he gave you the family heirloom ring, and also permission to ask. I thought that’s what this dinner was about. Why are we talking about old silliness when we have our lives ahead of us?”

Matthew craned his neck to stare up at her.

“So which part of this is silly? Me being sick? Me being weak? Me needing you? Or you disappearing?”

“It’s all silly,” she said, moving back into her chair. She took his hands again. “Come on. The past is the past. Why are we ruining this moment, worrying about what’s already happened?”

Matthew took a deep breath and spoke words he had only whispered in his heart in the middle of the night.

“Because, Leonora…I don’t think you love me.”

He shocked himself when he heard the words. They were so lonesome as they hung in the air, without any support; abandoned, needing a place to find rest, but orphaned in the silence.

“You don’t think I love you?” Leonora said. “Haven’t I shown you I love you? I’ve never loved a man the way I love you.”

Matthew interrupted. “I believe that. I do. I just don’t know…Well, I just don’t know if that’s enough for me.”

Leonora stood to her feet again, repeating her pivot around her chair.

“Matthew Ransley, what is it you want? What do you want from me? Am I to be your devotee? Am I supposed to cheer your every move? Should I lessen myself so you feel better?”

Matthew jumped in. “So you think you have to lessen yourself to be my equal? Is that what you’re saying?”

Leonora walked across the room with all the appearances of departing, but stopped a few paces from the exit.

“What I’m saying,” she spit, “is that I don’t like complications. You see what I have to offer. You see who I am. You see how I function. You know my height, you know my depth–and if it isn’t enough, then fine. But don’t ask me to pretend to be your dream girl. I’m nobody’s girl. I am Leonora. I don’t plan on changing that. I am just like my instrument–the oboe. Yes. I’m just like the oboe. You put the right reed in me and you finger me correctly, and add the breath, and I will play you a beautiful tune. It may sound like a silly analogy and it probably is. But not nearly as ridiculous as this conversation. So do you love me? Are you going to give me the ring? Or are we going to sit and talk about this all night?”

Matthew sat and stared at the self-aware but also self-serving lady before him. She was perfect. That’s why he couldn’t be with her.

“Yes,” he said. “I will give you the ring so you can return it to your grandfather. You deserve better than me. Privately you know that. It’s just that sometimes your private thoughts get in my head.”

Leonora walked back to the table, took the ring, thought about speaking, but decided to just walk away.

Matthew sat and stared for a long time at the space once occupied by the woman he desired. He realized that desire is just not enough.

He took his phone out of his pocket, dialed a number and spoke.

“Plan Z.”

The owner of the restaurant, realizing that things had not turned out the way Matthew had anticipated, came over and gave him a tender, Christian hug, and said the meal was free. Matthew patted him on the shoulder, stepped out into the night air, climbed onto the golf cart which had been provided for his needs, and drove the one mile to the airport.

His jet was waiting for him.

Matthew realized that he could stand to live in the Haven if he and Leonora could have had a life together. But a sanctuary of safety was never what Matthew wanted in his life. He would much rather be in the chaos, and try to find a way to tie two ends together, to create some wholeness.

He did not belong at the Haven in the Mount. He was more of a Jubal, a Jasper, a Rolinda. He was going home.

But he was going home with a change in his heart–a belief that Jesus was not only popular, but brought a message and a lifestyle which was essential for Planet Earth.

Matthew was returning to his life–but this time as a believer.

Arriving at the airport, the pilot loaded his bags into the plane, and as he was about to climb up the steps and leave Paradise forever, he heard a voice.

“What’s your hurry?”

He turned around. It was Jo-Jay.

“You didn’t think you were gonna leave without me, did you? I want to tell you, Matthew. This place is so good it makes me feel bad.”

Matthew laughed and gave her a big hug.

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“Am I sure what?” inquired Jo-Jay.

“Are you sure about going back?”

“Well,” said Jo-Jay, “when I was coming here to the airport, thinking I was going to leave by myself, I felt pretty good about it. But now that I know I’m leaving with you–well–I still feel pretty good about it.”

She burst into laughter. He joined her.

They climbed into the airplane, and taxied down the runway, taking one final look at the Eden of the Hills.

“Maybe we’ll visit sometime,” said Matthew, looking over at Jo-Jay.

Jo-Jay chuckled. “Hell, Matthew. There’s no maybes in our world.”

The two leaned their heads back, feeling completely at peace.

It was time for them to go into the world and live the Gospel.

THE END

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Catchy (Sitting 64) One Year Persisted… September 2nd, 2018

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365.

An odd number–a peculiar collection of time to signify the passing of one year of human life.

Matthew got well.

Not better. Not what a physician would call a “marked improvement.” Rather, Matthew took the little piece of liver from the life of Michael Hinston and generated it into a new human form. He was grateful–especially at first.

At Michael’s funeral, he wept like a baby, testifying as Lazarus, who had risen from the dead, of his appreciation and humility over being afforded such a gift.

He mourned. In the process of mourning, he found comfort in his old friends, who he once believed to be adversaries trapped in a religious fervor which frightened him.

But as time passed, and it did, he was less and less concerned about the past and more and more curious about what might lie in the future.

He was unable to find Leonora. She had done the impossible–disappeared. He checked musicians unions, concert halls and even companies that sold oboe reeds, to see if they had any information on his Leonora. She was gone–and if her goal was to make her retreat clean and complete, she had been successful.

Matthew tried to bury himself in the work. Even though his thankfulness had an air of spirituality to it, his human doubts had grown even stronger with the death of Michael and the loss of Leonora.

He feigned appreciation. He imitated faith. It wasn’t completely absent from his soul–just waiting in line behind hundreds and hundreds of unanswered questions.

Carlin became his good friend. The work of Terrance Eldridge, with his book, “Amerikin,” had spread into the Hispanic community, and also the Asians. There was a move to see Mr. Eldridge run for President, and rather than taking on the mantle of either party, he began “the Lincoln Party,” with the slogan, “Ameri-Can when Amerikin.”

He was rising in the polls daily, but more importantly, at least to Carlin, a true dialogue on the roots of racism had spread across the country, producing both solace, and at times, violent reactions.

Terrence Eldridge’s nephew was assassinated at one of the rallies. The act was caught on film by the networks. The shooter was a member of an emerging and marauding group of citizens who called themselves “The Migrators.” They were unashamedly advocating for an Anglo-Saxon, white America, and were gradually moving their families to Montana to escape the insanity of “racial blurring.” Thus, the name, “Migrators.”

Jubal took his meeting with Milton, and began to market the word Jesonian like a new cereal from Kellogg. Everyone seemed to love a term that described belief in Jesus without an allegiance to the religious system. Matter of fact, many of the Protestant denominations began to advertise themselves as “Jesonian Baptists” or “Jesonian Methodists” or “Jesonian Pentecostals.”

Jubal tried to visit Milton once a week to get a burst of inspiration, clarity and enthusiasm, to take out into his Jesonian rallies, which now offered a definition for what once had been a frat party with a Bible.

Soos mourned Michael Hinston. Matter of fact, money was provided for a permanent memorial in Salisbury, North Carolina, called “Soulsbury USA,” dedicated to Michael Hinston. Since no charges were filed against him before his death, those pursuing the indictment quickly faded away, figuring that any incrimination cast on the man would only create a backlash for them.

Jasper labored with Mickey Kohlberg at the Sinai Club. It was not easy. Gradually, comedians from America and even pop stars made the pilgrimage to the site, under heavy guard, to share their talents and add their agreement. It was one of those things that was popular for a few months, until things went back to normal.

Mickey continued to hold nightly comedy routines at the club. There were threats and occasional bombings, but he persevered. Finally, both the governments of Israel and Syria condemned the project and made it illegal to participate. For a few weeks, some faithful Arabs and Jews persisted, but eventually it was just Mickey.

One night in June, with the stars and the moon as witnesses, he walked into the club, which was empty, stood on the stage, and he launched into his routine.

Jasper was due to arrive the next day to discuss future plans on how to transform the seeds of the idea into an international movement. But Mickey decided to go to the club one more time, faithfully, as he had done every night since its inception.

He was standing onstage, talking to an empty room with a microphone in his hand, when a young fellow–no more than a teenager, clad in black robes and a black hood–stepped into the back. He lifted up an assault rifle, aimed it at Mickey and began to recite prayers.

Mickey, knowing there was no escape, said loudly into the microphone, “So now I will know what it’s like to die onstage.”

The young man fired and fired again, and fired a third time, even though Mickey had fallen to the ground dead.

In happier news, the movement of Careless, with the billionaire donors and the E.I.O. farms, had sprouted great victories. Careless had succeeded in putting together what he referred to as “The Faithful Five,” a quintet of billionaires determined to change the world with their dollars. Not only did they use their money to fund great ideas, which offered cures, answers, plans and relief, but they also pooled together to quietly, behind the scenes, purchase the two largest providers of medicine in the United States and the free world.

Upon gaining controlling interest of the companies, they immediately lowered the cost of the drugs necessary to keep people alive and thriving. They challenged hospitals to stop being profit-making machines and return to the position of sanctuaries for the sick.

It was a drastic transition. Everybody in every corner of the world felt the impact, both in their pocketbook and their sense of well-being.

There was a split in the Catholic Church. Sister Rolinda becoming a priest had created such great havoc that those of the ancient ways felt the need to separate themselves from the apostate.

It was very simply dubbed, “Old World Catholic” and “New World Catholic,” divided rather evenly geographically between East and West, and poor and solvent.

The Old Church kept the old world with the old problems of old destitution.

The New World Catholics rejected the need for a Pope, maintained the cardinals and bishops, but made it permissible for priests to be married. They ushered in forty days of fasting and prayer to repent over the atrocities which had been committed against women and children over the decades. It was an amazing vision of the world giving up its power in order to produce lamentation and the first fruits of joy arriving in the morning.

Carlin was catching Matthew up on many of the happenings across the world, while also reporting that of the 250 million dollars provided by the deceased billionaire, there was still 73 million left. Although Carlin admitted a lot of money had been spent, so very much had been accomplished.

They were in the middle of their fellowship, sipping on fruit juice and seltzer (Matthew’s new drink of choice) when there was a knock at the door.

Matthew, who was very comfortable on his couch, motioned to Carlin to see who it was. Opening the door, there stood Jo-Jay, Soos, Jubal and Jasper, smiling and carrying trays of food and drink.

Jo-Jay pushed past Carlin and the others trailed behind her, dropping off their goodies onto any available surface. Once the clatter ceased, Jo-Jay turned to the room and spoke.

“I don’t mean to interrupt what’s going on, but interrupt I shall.”

Everybody laughed, found seats and prepared for one of Jo-Jay’s comedic, but often long, dissertations.

“I will not take long this morning,” she said with a giggle, “because I shouldn’t. And the reason I shouldn’t is that too many speeches at a wake makes it hard to stay awake.”

The room groaned. Jo-Jay scratched her chin.

“I thought that would be funnier,” she said.

“Who’s the wake for?” asked Carlin.

Jo-Jay stepped over, grabbed a glass and poured some champagne, freshly popped by Jubal. She held the glass up and said, “This wake is for me.”

She confused the entire room, because no one in the world seemed more alive than Jo-Jay. It appeared to be a rather sick joke. She continued quickly.

“I have just received a diagnosis from my doctor. So to dispel all suspense, let me just say, I have bone cancer. I am dying. They gave me six months to live if I chose to go through agonizing chemotherapy, and six weeks if I choose the short way to get home. I decided that I don’t want a few extra months of vomiting, so I’m here to conduct my own wake–because I know you damn losers could never come up with a good one. You’d cry, get sentimental, question God and say stuff about me that I’m sure would be mostly true, but certainly exaggerated due to the circumstances.”

Matthew stood to his feet and moved toward her. She lifted a hand to stop him.

“Don’t you try to keep me from dying, Matthew. You have an overly emphasized sense of importance, but not even you can take the grim out of the reaper.”

Matthew’s eyes filled with tears. “There’s got to be something we can do.”

“Absolutely,” agreed Jo-Jay. “I want you to sit, I want you to eat and I want you to listen to me rattle on about how excited I’ve been to be alive, and how damn angry I am about checking out. If you can’t do that, leave me the hell alone. If you can, let’s have a party–a salute to me before I no longer am me anymore.”

Everybody in the room was on the verge of tears, but laughed anyway. Jasper grabbed a crab leg and bit into the shell without cracking it. “I’m up for it,” he said.

The gathered grabbed plates and glasses, shaking their heads and trembling over the notion of losing such a dynamic package. Matthew gently grabbed Jo-Jay by the arm and pulled her into the bedroom, where they could be alone.

Matthew looked deeply into her eyes. “You can’t die,” he insisted. “We never screwed.”

Jo-Jay glanced over at the bed. “There’s a bed, boy,” she observed. “What doth hinder you?”

Matthew broke down and cried like a little boy who failed to receive his promised bicycle from Santa. Jo-Jay held him, comforted him and stared off in the distance–uncertain of what her brief future might hold.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 59) Come See a Man Who Told Me All Things I Ever Did…. July 29th, 2018

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Awake.

Lying flat on his back, Carlin stared up at the ceiling. He tried to remember. Where was he? How did he get here? What was the last thing he remembered?

Being in an airplane.

This was not an airplane, so he obviously had been drugged.

Looking down, he discovered he was wearing a blue cotton robe, which fell just below his knees. Glancing to his right, a wall–painted pure white. To his left, another, colored the same. He gradually eased up onto his elbows to observe his surroundings.

A small room, about the size of a one-car garage. There were no doors, no windows, and upon careful inspection, the walls were made of steel.

He was lying on a twin bed–fairly comfortable–with a pillow. Pulling up to a seated position, he discovered that behind him was a night stand with a Bible and a porn magazine lying side-by-side, with a not-so-subtle bottle of lotion perched nearby.

He got to his feet, surprised that he wasn’t woozy. Actually he felt pretty strong.

There was a toilet in the room and a small basin. Also one of those apartment-sized refrigerators and an ice machine. He opened it up to discover it was filled with food. There were cookies, candy, power bars, bottles of beer, soft drinks and even some vodka.

The ceiling was about twenty feet high–obviously to discourage any attempt to climb up and escape.

He looked for a telephone or any means of communicating with the outside. None.

About nine feet up, running along the steel walls, was a series of air vents. He counted. Eight in all.

He sat back down on his bed, and before he knew it, he was sound asleep.

The next time he woke up, he was very hungry. Carlin discerned that there must be some sort of gas flowing into the room. Part of the time it provided rejuvenating pure oxygen, and other times, some gas inducing sleep.

Clever. Otherwise the terror might cause insomnia, which could soon drive any prisoner insane.

Days passed–at least Carlin thought so.

It was difficult to determine. The only thing that made him fairly certain that a new day had come was when he realized that his robe had been removed and replaced with a clean one.

So there was obviously a way to get in and out of the solid, steel walls. But though he carefully examined each rivet and bolt, he was unable to discover an opening.

On one awakening, Carlin found that the refrigerator had been removed. The food was gone, as was the ice machine. In its place was a water cooler.

Upon the next awakening, he lost his bed. Just a blanket and pillow remaining. Also, the porn magazine and lotion disappeared.

On yet another rising, all the cookies, power bars and anything resembling food was removed.

He found himself in this room with a Bible, a toilet, water and a sink.

Days passed.

Carlin tried to figure out what had brought him to this place, and what possible interest anyone would have–for them to go to such trouble to care for his every need, and then restrict him.

And then, one day he awoke in a chair in another room which was also painted white. But it was larger.

He was wearing a bright red pair of pants with white tennis shoes and a red Nehru jacket–nothing he would ever purchase for himself. He was fastened to the chair by a set of hand-cuffs. Once again, he felt refreshed, fully alive, but bewildered.

Suddenly, a door in the back of the room opened and a portly fellow appeared. He was dressed in black pants, and like him, wore a Nehru coat–black.

The man was short, round, and more rolled his way to a chair placed about fifteen feet from Carlin’s. He sat. The Nehru jacket was a poor fit, and so stuck out like he had candy bars stuffed in the pockets.

Carlin smiled. But even more bizarre was the fact that this rolly-polly visitor was wearing a mask. Carlin squinted at the mask.

“Do you like my mask?” The stranger spoke up. Carlin observed that he had a bit of an Eastern European accent. He chose not to answer.

“I thought you would like it,” the visitor continued. “Wasn’t it your favorite as a boy? ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost.’ Remember? When you were just seven years old, and your daddy would not let you have the costume of Casper because he said that Halloween was of the devil?”

Carlin took a deep breath. He did not know this man. He did not recognize his voice. The surroundings were completely alien to him, yet the visitor seemed to know details of his life.

Carlin decided to use his usual weapon–his wit.

“Yeah, I had to trick the old man. I told him it was Casper the Holy Ghost.”

The fat man laughed. “Joshua Mensterhall was his name, am I right? That was your father.”

Carlin did not respond.

The intruder continued. “He was a preacher of sorts–very poor. I mean, money-wise. Always upset your mother, Myrtle, didn’t it?”

Carlin was unnerved, but had learned long ago that keeping your cool was the best way to stay out of hot situations.

“And then there was trouble,” continued the stranger. “Your mother divorced your father, your father fell into some dementia, if I’m correct. And you ended up being the ward of a family named Canaby. Missionaries. They decided to take you in as their new son.”

Carlin interrupted, perturbed. “Actually, they had three daughters and they needed a boy to work with them. You know–to lift things, run errands and all the other things the girls refused to do. I was a well-fed slave. Similar to today, sir. Except you won’t let me eat.”

“My name–for purposes of this day–is Frank,” said the man. “We shall call me Frank because that’s what I plan to do with you. Be frank. I wanted you to know that I was aware of your life. I am fully up-to-date on the fact that you still maintain a personal belief in God though you find all the systems of the world devoid of value. That’s why you started your company, Liary–trying to find a better way to lie, which hurt fewer people.”

“Listen, Frank,” inserted Carlin, “I wouldn’t phrase it that way. And if you’re so concerned, why do you have me handcuffed to this chair?”

Frank slowly stood up and headed over to Carlin. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize it was so uncomfortable. I did buy the velvet cuffs to ease any pressure on your skin.”

Frank took a key and unlocked the cuffs on the one end which held them to the chair.

Carlin quipped, “Why don’t we just take off the whole damn thing?”

“Never abandon what you might need later,” said Frank, waddling his way back to his chair.

Staring at the very vulnerable back end of his adversary, Carlin challenged, “How do you know I won’t jump up here and attack you to make my escape?”

Turning around to sit, Frank laughed. “Oh, my dear friend. There are at least a dozen ways you would be killed before you got within a foot of me.”

Carlin quickly looked around the room, horrified. “Good response,” he said. “Let me ask you this. What would keep me from jumping to my feet and running out the back door, getting away?”

Frank chuckled. “I suppose the best answer to that would be months and months of not exercising.”

Carlin had to laugh. “Well, there must be a reason you have me here. So sensing that I’m not going to hurry you, let me sit back in my ridiculous outfit and become as pliable as I possibly can.”

Frank nodded his head. “That’s what I liked about you. I mean, when I studied you. You aren’t afraid of dealing with reality and taking it as it comes.”

Carlin stood to his feet. “Is it alright if I stand?”

“Surely,” said Frank. “Just don’t move. My snipers are a bit peckish.”

Once again, Carlin looked around the room, baffled, in terror.

“Is there any way I could get you to take off the mask?” inquired Carlin.

“Not on our first date,” said Frank. “Maybe someday. But now, onto matters that concern you. Soon you will be back to your home, and because of the particular chemicals we have mixed together, this entire event will seem like a dream rather than an actual occurrence. That’s good. You will discover that while this is happening to you, other members of your team are also being welcomed and taken care of in like manner. Five of you in all.”

This startled Carlin more than anything else that had happened over the duration. Who? What? Why?

He decided to pursue the who. “What members of our team?” he challenged.

Frank scooted back into his chair. “There’s no harm in you knowing. Like I said, it will seem like a dream to all of you–except when you construct all the pieces together, a concrete message will appear.”

Frank paused. “I see I am merely confusing you. Well, to answer your question: Jubal, Jasper, Soos and Jo-Jay. They, like you, are part of this master plan.”

“Master plan?” asked Carlin.

“Well,” said Frank. “Perhaps that’s a bad name for it. Let us just say that matters have reached a point where it is necessary for–shall we call them, outside forces?–to intervene. To make sure that what you folks have begun has a fulfilling ending.”

“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!” Carlin was suddenly furious. “What gives you the goddamn right to interrupt the lives of five adult people?”

“I have no right,” said Frank. “But for this season it’s better to interrupt the lives of five souls, with the possibility of salvaging millions.”

Carlin shook his head. “I’ve heard this bullshit all my life. The end justifies the means. The greater good. Honor the traditions. This is the best way we can handle it. Frank, let me be frank with you. Every time I’ve heard those words, human beings have gotten hurt.”

“A very astute observation,” said Frank. “And you are correct. It is a potential danger. So let me not keep you any longer with this aimless discussion. Each one of you will be given a single piece to remember. Only when you join together–the five of you–will you form the complete message that will give you direction.”

“God damn it, I’m not James Bond, you son-of-a-bitch.” Carlin stood up, walking forward. As he did a bullet whizzed by his head. He leaped back, desperately grabbing onto his chair.

Frank shook his head. “I told you my snipers were a bit overly caffeinated…”

Gasping, Carlin said, “Peckish was the word you used. I’d call them goddamn peckers.”

“Now,” continued Frank calmly, “to your piece in the puzzle.”

“Hold on, hold on,” said Carlin. “What about Matthew? He’s the one that got all of this started. Why isn’t he in this mix?”

Frank held up his hand, demanding silence. “Everyone has their place. Just learn yours.”

Carlin shook his head, wanting to be rebellious, but realizing the price he might pay for his assertive nature. “I’m listening,” he said.

“Your piece of the puzzle, Mr. Canaby, is a name. I want you to remember it. I want you to retain it for the moment you will need it. The name is Terrence Eldridge.”

Carlin interrupted. “Shouldn’t I write that down?”

Frank laughed. “Oh, no, no, no. You’ll remember it. We made sure. We’ve studied your brain for a long time.”

Carlin was about ready to object when everything went black. It remained so for some time.

At least, it must have been some time.

Because the next thing he knew, he was waking up in Washington, D.C. in his own bed, wearing his own black satin pajamas, with the sun streaming through the windows.

Once again, he was refreshed and energized. He had no idea how much time had passed.

He sat and tried to remember what had transpired, but it was like bits of the story were running out of his brain, like water from a falls. With each passing minute, he retained less and less.

Finally, there was just one thing left. A name, with shadows.

Terrence Eldridge.

Carlin was convinced he’d had a nightmare which affected his emotions greatly, but he couldn’t come up with any details.

It seemed like a bad dream.

Until he rolled over and saw the velvet handcuff dangling from his wrist.

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Jesonian … July 7th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3726)

Truthfully, I am very cautious when coining a word or phrase. Even though it may have its charm, it walks a fine line along the cliff of silliness, threatening to fall and be dashed on the rocks of criticism below.

That being said, I felt today’s Jesonian message required the introduction of a word–mainly because in “minting” it, the union of the parts brings to mind the purpose of the action.

So having survived my overly elongated explanation, let me talk to you about “Prayerapy.”

It is a blending of prayer and therapy, which is exactly what prayer was intended to be. Although we envision bowed heads in regal circumstances, offering well-rehearsed soliloquys of devotion and requests to God, Jesus had an entirely different perspective on prayer.

He said it should be free of “much speaking,” should never use “vain repetition,” and certainly was not to be performed “to be seen by others.”

He said it was nurtured by a few simple ingredients:

1. A private closet

2. Shut the door

3. Keep it simple

4. Say secret things to a God who hears in secret

5. Use the kingdom of God within you

6. Speak your heart

7. Leave rejuvenated

Therapists are successful because they get us to talk. We can listen to our own ideas coming out of our own mouths. And faith comes by hearing.

Therefore, healing begins when we hear our thoughts, our concerns, our wishes and our fears spoken aloud from our own lips, announced to our ears.

It is the perfect time to talk out loud, knowing that you’re being heard by your soul, your heart and your Father in heaven.

Then every prayer is answered–because the Bible makes it clear that God is willing to give wisdom and strength to anyone who asks, without questioning the beseecher.

So emerging from that closet, you will have a better understanding of what your heart sounds like, and will come forth with new wisdom and strength.

Prayerapy does not guarantee that a check will come in the mail, your rent will be paid, or that you’ll be healed of your disease. But it will certainly set in motion the awareness, the clear-headedness and the joy which makes the solutions appear more plausible.

*****

If you like the mind of Jesus without religion, buy the book!

                $7.99 plus S&H

*******

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Cracked 5 … June 5th, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

(3694)

cracked 5 logo keeper with border

Other Indiscretions That Might Be Considered for Additions to the Seven Deadly Sins

A. Laughing at a network sitcom

 

B. Bringing a Bible to a party

 

C. Referring to your dog or cat as children

 

D. Repetitive farting on a long car trip

 

E. Letting a fly into the house

 

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