Just One More… November 17, 2012

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Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia.

All of these places have been my home this year. I have established a temporary address in each one in an attempt to achieve some permanent results. It has been Tour 2012–and it finishes off tomorrow morning in New Albany, Indiana. You will probably never visit New Albany, Indiana. You don’t have to go … because I’ll take you with me.

At one of my stop-offs in Grand Junction, Colorado, a man asked me what my favorite scripture was. I thought he was just trying to make conversation, so I turned the tables on him and asked him to tell me his favorite passage. He said it was a toss-up between for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son” and “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”

I told him I thought those were excellent choices. He pursued. “But what’s your favorite one?”

“My favorite one is found in the gospels,where it reads, ‘and Jesus went to another village.’

He looked at me, perplexed. I didn’t expect him to totally understand. For you see, the power of the gospel does not lie in the establishment of a church–the organization of religion into practices and rituals. The power of the gospel is that it travels well and is best expressed when it’s moving. It’s why Jesus said, “Foxes have holes but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

My traveling enables me to come into a town and love people, bring some incentives, make a few suggestions and exhort the areas where they are pursuing better paths–and then leave, allowing them, as mature people, to assimilate the message into their lives as they deem powerful. The danger of remaining in one community and believing that you can make a difference is that we all have a tendency to settle…and meddle. We “settle” into a series of repetitive actions determined to be normal, and then, when other people don’t follow our structure, we have a tendency to “meddle” in their affairs, taking away their freedom to be who God has made them to be.

Sometimes we use politics, sometimes we use corporations, but usually we use religious conviction as a club, attempting to hammer people into submission to the will of our local village.

It is most unfortunate.

Traveling as I do, I don’t have to “settle” for anything. I can live my life as I choose and share my discoveries with others without feeling the need for them to either condemn or affirm my purposes. Therefore, I don’t hang around long enough to meddle in their affairs or critique their concerns when those particular selections are not to my favor.

So you might ask me how you can do the same thing–to escape “settling and meddling”–and still maintain the integrity of a local post office box. That’s really easy. God gives every one of us a “tour schedule.” The beauty for most of you is that you don’t ever have to leave your own home. That tour schedule is called Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Yes, all of you can be on a tour–as long as everything that happens on Monday is not carried over to your next stop, on Tuesday. So you have your Monday tour and then you climb into your wonderful tour bus of sleep to journey onto your next gig, which is called Tuesday. Now, if you take along the problems of Monday or celebrate too many of the victories, without being fully aware that the next tour stop will have its own conflicts, then you make a huge mistake. But as long as you live within the day, not worrying about tomorrow, and you don’t fuss over the affairs of the last performance from the day before, you can find yourself in the same position I do–touring.

For after all, we’re all just visiting this place anyway. And those who put down their roots too deeply become very dissatisfied, disillusioned and discontented at the brevity of the visitation.

So I have one more stop tomorrow–but actually, I never stop. Because even as I go on to Nashville, Tennessee, to eat Thanksgiving with my family, and then climb back into my van to tour for ten days with a Christmas presentation, to finally, arrive in Miami to spend the holidays with all my kin, I am always moving on. Sometimes it’s just from Monday to Tuesday; sometimes it’s from New Albany, Indiana to Knoxville, Tennessee. The gospel works best when you don’t try to make your location concrete, but instead, understand that we’re all just passing through–one day at a time.

“And Jesus went to another village…”

A lady recently told Janet that she had come to the conclusion that we were homeless. I guess in some people’s minds it might appear that way. Of course, for fifty years now, I have been a follower of a homeless man who ended up traveling around–and in so doing, changed the whole world. I guess I rather admire his choices, and pattern some of mine after them.

So you will find me, for the rest of my life, going to another village. You may follow suit by keeping your favorite pillow but permitting yourself the blessing of traveling from Monday to Tuesday without feeling the need to worry about the former day or be too concerned about the next one.

Just remember one of the great rules of the road: it’s not polite to steal towels from your last lodging.

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Ohio, Oh-My-Oh… September 29, 2012

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I was born in a small village in Central Ohio.

I should know from my adequate education in the state that it is actually redundant to say “small” and “village” together. But I did it so that I could correct myself, to demonstrate the style of thinking I was introduced to, being a resident of this fine state.

For in our town, although quite tiny, we had a nudist and a family whose members were in good standing with the John Birch Society. We had Democrats and Republicans living right next to each other and rarely complaining about their neighbor’s crab grass. Ohio was an unusual state to me because on any street corner you could have had John Lennon and Yoko Ono living in one house while just down the road you might find the home of Rush Limbaugh.

So I was curious about what was going to happen when I came into Ohio with my declaration of “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

Oh-My One: At my first stop, I was surprised when a man came to my table and said, “Jonathan, aren’t men better than women? Isn’t that what the Bible says?”

In earshot was a lady who immediately stepped up and piped in. “No, my friends. It is a scientific fact that women are superior to men.”

So you can see, whatever I said next was going to displease someone. Whenever I get into that position, I think it is just best to displease everybody.

I suppose there are those who would contend that the battle between the sexes has existed since ever Adam and Eve had a quarrel over splitting an apple. But the truth of the matter is that the differences between the sexes is mostly made up to maintain a split marketing plan for the public so as to offer products for one gender and others for the opposite.

Here’s the truth–“in the Kingdom of God, there is neither male nor female.” That’s what it says in the Bible. Now, I know you can find scriptures that contradict that concept, but they all come from a place where someone was trying to appease the existing squabble instead of speaking the truth.

So let’s take a quick look at this: if the Kingdom of God is within us (also from the Bible) and in the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female, it is safe to assume that within us is a universal commonality, whether we be male or female.

Obviously, there are physical differences which create great possibilities for pleasure.  Glory be to God. But truly intelligent people are always in the pursuit of similarity instead of advocating difference.

I have worked with men and I have traveled with women, and I will tell you that the best ones have forsaken their boundaries of gender and have just become human. I have been told that women are more emotional than men, but the truth of the matter is that it’s quite the contrary. Having played sports and indulged in outdoor activities with men, they are just as emotional, if not more so, when their particular team or hunt has been benefitted through victory.

Separating ourselves into a gender battle in this country is one of the worst errors being propagated across the board. You hear it in church, you see it on television, you read it in books. Men are not better than women and women are not better than men.

If you don’t believe me, please make note of the “affirmative action program” Jesus conducted during his ministry on earth. Arriving ina completely male-dominated society, Jesus chose to thrust women and children into the forefront of his ministry. If you remove all the women from the life of Jesus, he not only loses funding, he also loses friends to be with him during his hour of torture AND anyone to recognize that he had risen from his the dead.

When the disciples wanted to get rid of the children, Jesus rebuked them and told them that children were what all humans should become if they wanted to enter the kingdom of heaven.

If you want to be Jewish or Muslim, you can continue to promote the differences between men and women. But you can’t do it if you’re a Christian. NoOne is better than anyone else–and it begins with Adam and Eve.

Oh-My Two: “Jonathan, maybe I just want to be better. It’s a free country.”

This one surprised me a little bit. Even though it appears to possess a bit of honesty, the odor that rises from this heap of misrepresentation stings your eyes and makes you pull away. I, for one, am disgusted with the notion that we are unique “because of our freedom.” Matter of fact, “freedom” may the most over-rated, overused and least understood word in all the world. Now, this is not because our forefathers didn’t explain that freedom only works when extended in equality to others, but over the years, we have decided that freedom is a torch, passed from one dominant race, party or religion to another, based upon the popularity of an idea. The truth of the matter is, no one is free to rob someone else of equality.

The Bible makes it clear that “where the spirit of God is, there is liberty”–and liberty is freedom which has graduated from high school and has taken at least a couple of courses in college. Whereas freedom merely demands “our own way,” liberty understands that when you seek to have your own preferences honored, it is only valid when you’re willing to honor the preferences of others.

As far as I know, there are only three ways to live on this planet:

  • by law, where whatever is permissible in this present hour is enforced, regulated and even prosecuted.
  • by grace, where you continue to do dumb things, and believe that you’re just so pretty and good-looking that everything should work out fine.
  • or by liberty, which means you consider your own desires and pursue them, fuilly aware that you will have to extend the same mercy and possibility to others.

When you arrive at that liberty, you find God, a heavenly Father who desired to send a messenger, His son, but was forced to stand back and accept the rejection of the ignorant masses as they put his boy to death. Now, that’s liberty.

He then turns it around and changes that vicious assassination into salvation for the hapless murderers. That’s grace.

So you can continue to insist that you have the right to be mean because someone bled and died on a beach in Normandy, but eventually, if you’re going to live in this country and abide under the true spirit of God, you will have to afford that liberty to everyone else–thus, once again, establishing that NoOne is better than anyone else.

So in Ohio I found those who thought they were unique by gender–both male and female. And they thought they were unique in their freedom and had the right to be errant and inconsiderate if they so desired. But stupidity only survives until smart has time to put on its shoes–and then stupidity is not just a mistake, it becomes the enemy of mankind.

In this country, only one generation back in our history, we contended that segregation of the races was permissible because … well, we preferred it. But whether we like it or not, every choice of freedom has to pass the test of submitting to the eternal concept of NoOne is better than anyone else.

I send my thanks to Ohio for giving me a place to lay my head until I was ready to use it. But I warn them that uniqueness born of gender or merely screamed out in freedom must honor the fact that liberty is where God builds His house.

So we’ve been to California, Alabama, Missouri, Texas and Ohio, fielding the questions from these “pitchers of culture.” Tomorrow we will sum up what we have learned on our nationwide quest–because … The Caper Continues.

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The California Consideration… September 25, 2012

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We are all infected.

It is a disease which does not necessarily sprout symptoms before producing its deadly results–a squeezing of the brain into a smaller and smaller area of thinking, while simultaneously convincing oneself of mental expansion.

For instance, it is the general consensus that people from California are liberal–part of the “left coast”–and that it is a land filled with “fruits and nuts.” The assumption is completely incorrect–because a quick visit to the Golden State will tell you that Bakersfield is nothing like Los Angeles, and Frisco and Fresno have less in common than just a few letters.

But there is an obsession that has gripped this country in the past seventy years, which compels us to honor a national religion. That faith is not Christianity, Judaism, Islam or any of the other more established orthodoxy. It is a religion called “unique.”

When I drove my van into the state of California in 2012 with my new message, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” I leaped headlong into the chasm of this rocky philosophy. Two objections were immediately raised. Of course, in California they prefered to refer to them as “considerations,” so we shall defer to their wishes.

Consideration One: “Jonathan, it’s not a case of being ‘better.’ Just ‘different.'” I have dubbed this “snowflake syndrome.” Each one of us was taught that every snowflake is different from every other, and therefore, every human being is precisely formed to the configuration of his or her own soul’s journey. Let me point out a few things:

  1. Who really knows that every snowflake is different? This is not a scientific fact. It is an assertion, since not every snowflake has been placed on the measuring table.
  2. As they fall, they all look like snow.
  3. To discover these subtle differences, one has to use a microscope. Even if we ARE drawing the parallel of snowflakes to human beings and we DO buy into the concept of complete individuality of snowflakes, human beings were never meant to be viewed under a microscope.

I do not know why we are so obsessed with being unique–thinking it makes us intrinsically more interesting. The truth is, we are fascinating because of our commonality. We are given life by a God who tells us that there is “no temptation that is not common to all men.” Yet we insist that the differences among us–which are actually quite miniscule–establish a kind of unspoken supremacy over our neighbor. Now, we wouldn’t call it supremacy. We would refer to it as preference, choice or birthright. But it is a way of separating us as humans instead of finding the more intelligent path of calling it snow instead of a bunch of flakes.

Consideration Two from California, was this: “It is true, Jonathan, that no one is innately better, but some folks have better values.” You can see, this is another tenet of the teaching of uniqueness. In other words, “I quarantine myself from the world by possessing a code of spiritual healthiness which I uniquely follow as a means of proving my difference from other people in the world around me.” We have to decide if this earth journey is about finding ways to make peace or focusing in on pieces of ourselves to make war with the friends around us.

This religion of uniqueness has become so ingrained in our society that it may be the only idea that cross-sects races, religions, politics, gender and generations. It is a certainty that if you tell a room full of people and tell them that 99% of the populace is identical to each other, you will meet resistance from those who will insist that you are intolerant, short-sighted and out of step with the times. They would fail to acknowledge that your statement, however, is basically true.

Why do we choose to focus on that one per cent that trails off onto a different path from the rest of humanity–unless it is a way to quietly express our supremacy? And supremacy is always the warpath to hurting others and breaking apart the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind.

Even though California is considered to be a liberal state, when they were presented with the notion that “NoOne is better than anyone else,” many of those alleged “left-coasters” ran to the security of the religion of uniqueness so as to maintain a secret cult of domination. So there are those who will tell you that we are unique by difference, when the true pursuit of God is to find our commonality. Certainly there are a chosen few who will proclaim their uniqueness by their values, when merely possessing a belief system is not evidence whatsoever of quality. Jesus said that it is only by the fruit of our internal faith that our values are truly known.

So as I moved out of California into other areas of the country, I suddenly realized that I was doing battle with a great fire-breathing dragon, which appears to be the acceptable, normal way of thinking in our day and age, but really is preventing us from awakening our Sleeping Beauty. And that “Beauty” would be the commonality we all share. In other words: NoOne is better than anyone else.

So now I have identified the culprit. I have found the assailant of the peacefulness that could be administered one to another, which is being stolen from us by a hidden agenda of supremacy masked as uniqueness. What will happen next?

I moved from California later on in the year, into Alabama–and this is where I ran into The Alabama Allegations.

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The NoOne Caper … September 24, 2012

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I had a dream.

It was in late October, 2011. As far as I know, I wasn’t thinking about anything particularly philosophical or even considering what I might be sharing in the coming year, 2012. But I had a vivid vision, filled with emotion, anxiety, joy and energy, about conveying a specific mission in that coming year. It was a typical dream in the sense that the images had significance in the moment and were difficult to explain later, when sleep had disappeared.

But there is one thing that came out of the experience that is as clear as a bell–it was six words. They were to become my central theme as I journeyed across the country in 2012: NoOne is better than anyone else.

Two immediate problems presented themselves.

First, Janet pointed out to me that “no one” was not a compound word, and that it should be dubbed the Seven Word Tour. I normally try not to be stubborn, but I really felt impressed from my nighttime visitation, that the theme was to be six words. So we went on the Internet, checked with grammar sources, and found what one often does when seeking an answer concerning the English language–it could be this, it could be that. Some sources said that “no one” was two separate words. Others insisted it was a normal compound word, separated because it was thought that the two o’s placed together looked rather odd. (Honestly, that’s why I like it. Two o’s look like a pair of eyeballs staring at you, checking out your reaction.) So even though I have great respect for English grammar, I decided that since I was given license, I would pursue my own path. (However, even though I validated the choice, I still occasionally have folks come up to me, thinking they are clever by pointing out that it’s really seven words. I just smile.)

The second problem was a little bit more deeply ingrained within our culture. After all, we live in a society that holds conventions in which discussions ensue on how important it is to not mistreat cows while simultaneously serving fillet mignon at the banquet. In other words, some notions have become high-sounding ideals instead of practical pursuits. Unfortunately, that’s kind of what has happened with “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We have basically decided that this principle is completely implausible, and even though we allow it to be spoken in public, everyone quietly retreats from its purity because of its difficulty and seemingly inhuman feasibility.

So I knew when I stood in front of an audience and said, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” I would receive mixed reviews–at best a nod of assent followed by a quiet grunt of disapproval.

But I came to the conclusion that everything evil that has ever happened in our world was forged in the fires of supremacy. When we believe that we are to live our lives by the rules of the jungle, using domination as the settling ground for all conflict, we are admitting that possessing a larger brain and an eternal spirit is useless to us.

This is not the surrender that we should accept without a fight. Let me repeat it: everything born of darkness in the human experience begins with the notion that “i am better than you.”

  • Six million skeleton, slain, Jewish innocents were thrown into mass graves because one man was able to propel a message of the supremacy of his supposed Super Race.
  • Over three hundred denominations of churches met yesterday in America, not simply because they favor one style of worship over another, but because at some point, doctrinally, the forefathers of their faith believed they had found a more enlightened path which made them better than their brothers and sisters.
  • The Republican Party believes it is better than the Democrat Party.
  • The Democrats believe they are better–more high-minded–than the Republicans.
  • A white man, even though enlightened by his experience and journey, will still sprout nervous energy when in the presence of a black man–not quite sure how to carry on a conversation because the whole climate of his world has screamed his preeminence over his darker-skinned brother.

This pervasive philosophy not only creates an impasse, but an obstinate, disguised anger that pouts in the corner, refusing to participate in détente.

When I looked at those six words–NoOne is better than anyone else–I realized I was headed for an experience rife with blessing and froth with controversy. So if you will allow me, over the next several days I will give you the ten objections I have received to my dream message from October 2011–NoOne is better than anyone else.

These assertions tickled me but also gave me pause to find the reasoning, both spiritually and intellectually, to prop up this valuable axiom.

So tomorrow I will start with what I call The California Consideration–the two objections presented to me while I was in the Golden State. I hope you will come along. It will be great fun, and like all good things that are entertaining, will certainly have its moments of inspiration.

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With All Your Getting … September 17, 2012

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Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the news media’s overly simplistic, goofy representation of life in these United States. Travel with CNN, MSNBC and Fox News as they journey us around the country to break us apart into little bits and pieces of quirks, which they then amplify to represent the majority popular opinion.

First stop for our tour bus?

  • Alabama. Guns, God and grits.
  • Then we journey down to Florida. Medication, Middle East and Medicare.
  • Cruising on, we arrive in Texas, with faith, football and fried…everything.
  • In no time at all, we enter the state of California, with television, tarot cards and tofu.
  • I think we have time for a bathroom break in Minnesota. Stoic, Scandinavian, and St. Lutheran.
  • Our tour bus now takes us to the state of Indiana, where …

Hold on a second. Please allow me to interrupt this cavalcade of comedic conclusions. I just spent the weekend in Indiana. What I found there was the same thing I uncovered in Alabama, Florida, Texas, California and even Minnesota. They’re called folks. And by the way, some get it and some don’t.

It’s really that simple. Some people burst out of the borders of their training and provincial surroundings and realize more universal truths of human behavior and how to get along with other individuals. Others cling to the bad habits of their ancestors, getting the same results of inadequacy, poverty and prejudice.

It all boils down to three be’s. If you learn these, you can go anywhere in the world and co-exist with any culture, religion and even form of government. If you don’t, you make yourself cranky, and therefore, a target for criticism by neurotic folks around you, who are looking for a reason to be offended.

1. Be friendly. Really, it won’t kill you. Suspicious, careful, backward, frowning, reserved, reticent and distant leave to the public their opinion on who you are and what you are. Friendliness is required to create the image of who we wish to be and how we wish to be viewed. I do not know when people decided it was their God-given right to be unfriendly, but all it does is make them look arrogant and causes other humans to want to hurt them.

2. Be there. Please do not come to a meeting talking about the your next meeting. Don’t have a conversation with me about how busy you are and how lucky I am that you’re even taking the time to speak with me. We owe one thing to everyone we meet–give them the time they deserve and our attention, or just don’t show up. The most aggravating attitude you can present to another person is to lead them to believe that your mind is on something else other than being with them. Great people do great things by focusing on small details. Be there.

3. Be changing. My brain is not presently manufacturing enough truth to sustain me for the rest of my life. I need more information. In the process of receiving that input, I will also have to deal with challenges to things that I already hold dear. If I am prepared to change my mind, I am a candidate for prosperity.

Let us realize that not everything can be voted on. America is presently obsessed with the notion of popular opinion. If popular opinion had been allowed, slavery would never have been abolished. Segregation would still be in place. Rock and roll would have been banned. The right for women to vote would have been a joke. And even smallpox, by this time, would be bigpox. Sometime the people DON’T know best. It requires us to have the kind of leaders who are willing to change their minds–in a  direction that will benefit the common good.

And if you are willing to be friendly, be there and be changing, you will be on the cutting edge of the three things that make life on earth prosper, and therefore, fulfill the will of God.

People need liberty. And here is my definition of liberty: Liberty is when health, happiness and honesty are thrust to the forefront.

People have a right to be healthy. They certainly have the right to pursue happiness as long as it doesn’t exclude others, and the presence of honesty allows us to keep a pureness of heart that makes the viewing of God so much easier.

Please do not fall victim to the news media, which tries to divide this nation into smaller and smaller units of conflict. What I saw in Indiana yesterday was very simple. I met some absolutely inspiring human beings, who had decided to be friendly, be there and be changing. What remained were those lost sheep, who think that by avoiding others, avoiding their surroundings and avoiding change, they can actually keep life the way it is. They can’t.

So with all your “getting,” get understanding–and the greatest understanding is that where the spirit of God is, there is liberty–the pursuit of health, happiness and honesty.

Happy Monday to you. Be friendly, be there and be changing.

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We ARE in Kansas (anymore) … June 5, 2012

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Terrain changes, but people don’t.

We are frighteningly alike–alike in the sense that our basic attitudes and needs are really quite run-of-the-mill–not nearly as individualized as we might portray. What am I looking in the state of Kansas? I am looking the same the same thing that I looked for in the states of Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California and the many other states I have traveled through just this year. I am searching for a people–a people who will be willing to ask themselves four questions:

  1. Am I ready to feel?
  2. Do I follow what I personally believe?
  3. Can I increase my thinking?
  4. Will I do something new if it’s an improvement?

Kansas doesn’t have to look any further to understand the application of these four things than the spirit of their own favorite daughter–Dorothy, from the Wizard of Oz. Although just a little girl on a farm, when she was whisked away by the wind into a magnificent, hallucinatory dream, she arrived with a heart was ready to feel. She had empathy for those around her; she was concerned. Although overwhelmed by the new world of Oz, she didn’t stand at a distance and call it odd. She jumped in to experience it.

But even though she was a “stranger in a strange land,” she continued to follow what she believed. She preached her prairie pride to the scarecrow, the lion and the tin man, trying to instill new promise for their lives. (Often the problem is not that people are following what they believe, but rather, that people do not adhere to their own beliefs, having become cynical. Yet they still promote them because they are trapped.)

Even though Dorothy had her own beliefs, when she was challenged by those around her and given new information by the wizard, she listened. She considered. Doggone it, she even mulled over it. There was no gate with a lock on the door to her brain blocking the entrance of fresh ideas. Because of that, she was able to navigate her way through this new world and return home, safe and sound.

And then, upon arriving back from her dream state, she’s a new girl. She has greater appreciation for the people around her. Her little revelation caused her to incorporate something new, because she perceived it was better.

There are really only two attributes in human beings that render us unattractive and sexless: nastiness and stubbornness. As you can see, they feed off of each other. Often people are nasty because they are stubborn, and continuing to be stubborn makes them defensive and nasty. Now, I’m not quite sure what to do when I get in front of a group of people who have decided to be nasty and stubborn. I see that they are bleeding out emotionally–and often all I can do is hand them a couple of aspirin and a cup of water.

But if they are ready to feel, follow what they believe, will consider increasing their thinking and will actually do something new–if it is improved–they are the salt of the earth.

That’s interesting. “Salt.” For I am in Salina, Kansas, and the word “salina” comes from the Latin word for “salt.” So what do I hope? I hope these fine folks will be the salt of the earth–filled with taste and flavor.

It’s all about being like Dorothy. When you find yourself in Oz, sit down for a spell … and hear what the wizard has to offer.

   

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My First San Diego… April 15, 2012

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We live our lives peering into a mirror instead of occupying a small, glass box, viewed as an experiment by a great white Father, King of the Cosmos.

What we do matters. What we decide is our own and therefore generates our own conclusions. We are not searching for God‘s will for ou lives, but rather, pursuing a plan that helps us uncover the will of God. I learned this early.

Matter of fact, arriving in California yesterday, it brought back memories of the first time I made the  journey to the Golden State. I was thirty-four years old. Even though I had crisscrossed the country many times in my twenties, I had never actually made it all the way to California, only achieving Washington and Oregon–nearby touchstones.

It was a journey with my family in a green utility van that finally brought me to San Diego, California. We didn’t know anyone, so we set out to try to establish some contacts with churches that might be interested in having in some vagabond troubadours. We found such a place. Arrangements were made and we drove out into the countryside of San Diego County, arriving at the church about an hour ahead of time so we could set up and prepare.

Traveling with me were my three sons. One of them had been in a hit-and-run car accident four years previously and was incapacitated and needed to be carried from place to place. The other two boys were fourteen and nine years old, and had recently begun playing instruments, creating our family band. It was the 1980’s, and they were kids and wanted to dress like kids instead of Jesuit priests. So at first glance, they looked like adolescent version of the Bee Gees. I saw nothing wrong with it. They wore leather pants (which were really plastic, since we couldn’t afford real leather) and glitter ties, which certainly made them look like Hollywood pimps.

I was so accustomed to seeing them dress this way that I didn’t give it a second thought. But upon arriving at the church, one of the young men–a leader in the congregation–greeted us and apparently became upset with how worldly my sons were adorned. Matter of fact, he took it upon himself to talk to the minister about asking us to leave and refusing to allow us to present our program. You see, I didn’t know this because the pastor of the church, being a man of character, decided not to cave in but to pursue his original decision to welcome us to the fold. No, it was AFTER the delightful evening of sharing in music, word and ministry, while out to dinner with the pastor, that he explained what had transpired.

We became friends. Over the next seven years, I returned to that church eight times to give my heart, soul and care to its inhabitants. Every time we came, the fellowship was richer and the experience deeper. Matter of fact, the young man who originally objected to our first appearance, nearly nixing our efforts, found himself in a time of need during one of our visits and I was granted the privilege of helping him reestablish his faith.

As I drove into California yesterday and arrived in San Diego, that story came back to my mind. For if we begin to believe that we have lost control of our lives and must merely react to propriety or the whim of loud voices around us, we sacrifice the greatest gift that human beings possess–the free will to redecorate until we get it right.

Yet caution has replaced experimentation; following the rules is more important than creativity and trying to find the elusive will of God often leaves us stagnant–in an attitude of indecision rendering us insipid at the point of contact. Yesterday I thought about what would have happened if that pastor so many years ago had given into the pressure and fear of one member of his congregation. We would never have had the friendship, the countless hours of fellowship–and we even would have lost the chance to help our critic find his peace in his hour of need.

So I don’t know what’s going to happen in San Diego, but I know this–it will be a mission of my own making and desire rather than tip-toeing through the tulips, hoping to never disappoint the distraught gardener.

It’s my life. I thank God for it. I welcome God into it.

I am prepared to surprise His Highness. 

**************

Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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