Dudley … October 12th, 2017

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DUDLEY

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Cracked 5 … December 27th, 2016

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The Day After Christmas Is Fairly Famous

Here Are Some “Day Afters” That Lacked Promise

A. The day after the Titanic launch

 

B. The day after my first treatment of “Twelve Day Colon Rinse”

 

C. The day after the end of the world

 

D. The day after my wife told me to buy a lottery ticket on the way home from work with a specific number she wanted and I forgot and it ended up winning $416,723,000

 

E. The day after my funeral

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Good News and Better News… December 21st, 2015

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Good news December 21

 

Some people like to plan.

Other people think that planning is one of the Biblical signs of the end of the world.

There are individuals who contend that “the Lord helps them who help themselves.”

Yet there are pilgrims who lament that helping yourself is a sign of a lack of faith.

In today’s picture, you see what is left in our room after we packed away at the end of a two-and-a-half week stay in Ocala, Florida. During that hiatus, we composed music, continued our blogs, bought Christmas presents, ate too much (as usual) and made plans for 2016, which may or may not come off with the precision we envision.

But it all came down to a hamburger bun, a V-8 and an orange. And for the record, I drank the V-8 right after taking the picture, the orange was for breakfast, and the bun was discarded since nothing was found to cuddle inside.

Here’s what I think about planning:

I take my wisdom from the Good Book, where it describes what jesus said when he sent his disciples out for the first time to talk about the Good News. it was well-thought-out.

He suggested what they should wear, how much money to take, how to treat folks along the way, where to sleep–even some examples of what to say. But at the end of the whole process, he let them know that no matter how much they planned, things would come into the picture to screw up the vision.

His words, if you will allow me to paraphrase, were, “Don’t freak out about what you’re going to say and do. In that hour, the Spirit will give you the stuff you need.”

What a brilliant idea.

Since I’m a human being–and if I’m not busy, I’m probably worrying–then pursuing a plan is a healthy choice.

But also, since I’m a human being dealing with other human beings, understanding that putting the word “perfect” before “plan” is obviously added for comic relief. Therefore I can prepare my heart in good cheer, and sit back to let God do God things.

Traveling on the road all these years, I have learned that a lack of planning is presumptuous. Too much planning, or not being flexible to abandon a plan, is called failure.

So the good news is, planning is beneficial if the plan is made out of paper and not stone.

And the better news is that when the plan begins to fumble and show its more feeble nature … we have been given a Spirit to see us through the aching lack.

 

 

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Ask Jonathots… July 2nd, 2015

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I’m living with my boyfriend, and have been for over a year. About every six months, my mom and I get into an argument because she thinks we should get married. Honestly, I just don’t see the need. I love him, he loves me, and if that changes we don’t have to get a divorce. What’s wrong with that?

God looks on the heart.

I’m sure you’ve heard that. He does not look on the outward appearance, but instead, views our intentions.

Your mother is probably concerned about what’s happening in your bedroom, and God is much more concerned about what’s going on in your living room.

In the process of occupying the same home, what are the two of you deciding about living?

For I will tell you, if you’re living together because you want the opportunity to bail out of the relationship without having a lawyer, then it is an unfulfilling situation, which means it’s unrighteous.

This would be true about a marriage also.

There is one rule and one rule alone: we are to love people as we love ourselves.

Honestly, if that’s what you’re doing, then God, who has no intentions of rummaging through your drawer looking for a license, already considers you married.

Yet if you have a license but have no respect for each other, and you treat yourself better than you treat your spouse, God finds the arrangement immoral.

So let’s get it straight.

Long before we discuss marriage, let’s discuss relationship. Because just as surely as someone can go to church and not be a Christian, you can have a ceremony and not be truly married to one another.

God does not have the respect for marriage that we do. Matter of fact, Jesus used the process of being married and making plans to get married to describe the indifferent atmosphere which will exist at the end of the world.

So what are we looking for?

1. Commitment.

Have we decided that we’re going to hang together no matter what happens? If not, we’re just dating. That goes for married couples, too.

2. Do we have a legitimate interest in one another’s dreams?

Asking someone to come along to be a cheerleader is not a relationship.

3. Are we willing to include this other person in the private areas of our heart?

If God looks on the heart, the definition of a Godly love is to allow someone else to look on ours.

4. And finally, are we willing to pledge allegiance to the fidelity of our love?

In other words, when temptations come, rather than ignoring them or pretending they don’t exist, we share our fears and apprehensions.

If you find you have all four of these things with your live-in boyfriend, then you only have one other question.

Would there be an advantage to have a piece of paper which would allow Uncle Sam to give great tax deductions by filing jointly, and also keep your mother at bay, so that all she would have left to complain about is housekeeping?

Do I think marriage is here to stay?

Marriage will always be important if those who truly have a love that is inclusive of one another want to declare to the whole world … and seal it with a kiss.

Got a question for Jonathots? Send it to jacquelinebarnett76@gmail.com.

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Take a Chance… November 11, 2012

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My failures don’t languish and decay in the garbage dump of effort, but rather, putrefy and stink up the joint in the residue of my own indecision.

In other words, eagles fly, chickens get plucked.

I have a diagnoses for our country. After traveling this great land of ours for decades and putting a stethoscope on the heart of America, I can tell you with a great amount of certainty where we ail. For you see, Republicans think that people are too dependent on government. The Democrats feel that the populace is waiting for God to solve everything. Actually, they are both right–our nation is infected with the disease of “destiny-itis.”

All good souls are waiting for something to come along, clarifying needs to be done. It’s in our art, it’s in our politics, it’s in our theology and it’s in our educational system, which is keen on math and English but often fails to intone the warnings of history.

A great king once said, “Time and chance happens to all,”but we spend most of our hours trying to extend our time on earth and miss the chances that do come our way.  therefore our aging process makes us more grumpy and dissatisfied instead of ecstatic and fulfilled.

How did destiny and the belief in life being out of our hands ever gain such a stranglehold? It’s a great question. The answer will determine whether you’re a victim or a victor.

To escape the trap of destiny, you have to reject two widely accepted ideas, which are blatantly flawed.

1. Everyone was born to do something.

2. God has a wonderful plan for your life.

Let me give you a quick example.

Although the liberals in the United States would insist that America is gun crazy and that placing some sort of control on firearms is the best way to stop the violence that surrounds us, you only have to go north of our border to Canada to discover that the fine folks in the provinces have a record for the least violence in the world, but own more guns per capita than the United States. Were they “born” with an ability to possess weapons without killing each other? Is it God’s will that they be a peaceful sort of nation, and His determination that the American culture be vicious and mean-spirited? Of course not. Canadians grow up around guns and learn from birth not to point them at people. Americans desire guns and are not given the same instruction concerning where to aim their calibre. It’s that simple.

In the great debate over “nature” and “nurture,” we should just stop the conversation, because it’s all about nurture. We all have been nurtured to be in our present condition–so if you are raised to believe that you are “born to do something” or that God is pulling the strings, you will more than likely pass over chances to be fruitful because you’re confused over whether they have come from your birthright or from your divine Creator.

I think in the religious world, this belief is propagated because we contend that Jesus of Nazareth, the son of God, was “born” to do the will of his Father by dying on a cross for the sins of mankind even though, before his death, he proclaimed in the Garden of Gethsemane, that he had completed his work.

In the secular world, the inclination is to pursue “destiny” because we have so many unexplained predispositions in the general population that it seems to us that these inklings must have been ingrained in the DNA.

I’m sorry–it’s just not true. We are either given a life to live or we have been given a life which can be snatched away from us when we fail to follow the unknown rules that hatched us.

I often tell people in churches that God has a wonderful life for your plan. My heavenly Father does not tell me what to do. The Bible says He’s a good Father. A good father does not force his child into a plan of his making and then withhold blessing when the offspring fails to fulfill. Why would we think God would do that? By the same token, why would we believe that God, who is the founder of the concept of free will, would birth us in a certain direction without us being able to choose a detour?

  • I was not born to write.
  • I was not born to sing.
  • I was not born to be fat.
  • I was not born to be funny.

The chance to do these things came my way and I leapt on board and have survived the bumpy ride. I do not know why we think that something is more plausible if we are “born” to do it and therefore it’s out of our control. Do we think that frees us of responsibility? Is it our way of apologizing for our choice? Do we really want to worship a God who has pre-booked our flight and will punish us or at least levy a penalty for any changes on the itinerary? So foolish.

But it is why the American people are always two steps through the doorway of pissed off. For the truth is, if you have forfeited your rights, liberty and choice on where your life is headed, no matter whether you’ve done it in a secular way–by believing you are pre-determined at birth to do a particular thing–or if you’ve done it in a religious way–by pretending that God is pulling the strings–the helplessness that follows the decision does not inspire effort, but rather, welcomes anger and apathy.

Take a chance. Time is passing. Chances are racing by. Grab one.

The worst thing that can happen is you fail. But the truth of the matter is, failure is guaranteed if you do nothing–because your birthright will not make you free, and God has no intention of rallying an army of robots.

Watch out for destiny. It is contagious. It is deep in the bloodstream of all the rebirth of interest in fairy tales, mysticism, fantasy, soul mates and even musings over the end of the world. Keep three important things in mind:

1. The future is not decided until you decide it.

2. You were not “born” to do anything, but were given an opportunity to be born again–to do everything.

3. If you wait on the Lord with no plans on running a race of your own, you will end your life at the starting gate.

Take a chance. Free yourself of “detiny-itis” and soar with the eagles instead of remaining earth-bound with all the chickens. It is the law of the sky.

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False Witness… October 3, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

“Can I get a witness?”

I remember the first time I heard those words spoken–I was in a tiny Church of God in Christ on the south side of Chicago. I think the pastor had scheduled me in thinking that our particular music group was “colored” to his favor, only to discover upon our arrival that we possessed paler possibilities. There was only a smattering of folks in the audience that night–mostly women. I did not know what I was doing there and they certainly joined in my confusion.

When the pastor asked for a witness, there was a long delay. At length, a young woman (who was later identified to me as the pastor’s daughter) stood and rattled off a little speech.

“I just want to thank the Lord for saving my soul and giving me the strength to go from day to day, though the burdens of life are so heavy that sometimes I want to fall. His grace is sufficient for me, and therefore I will continue to serve him, no matter what the devil lays in my path.”

She spoke it quickly, without the use of inflection or punctuation. She sat back down.

I don’t think I was alone in assuming that this testimony from this young girl was less than truthful. It was a false witness.

It was something she said because at one time or another, she really did believe it, and even though events had come to rob her of her original enthusiasm, she pursued the same party line, without revision.

It is the sixth thing that God hates. The Book of Proverbs says that “God hates a false witness that leads to lies.” Now we would think that a false witness is lies, but actually a false witness is a misrepresentation of facts, in order to maintain an original premise.

  • It’s when we say we feel good when we don’t.
  • It’s when we insist that a congregation of believers recite that “God is good” without asking them if they might need a rejuvenation or a clarification of that concept.
  • It’s when we say “amen” to prayers that do not bear our personal conviction.
  • It’s when we align ourselves with some political cause or spiritual direction, which ends up adding doctrines or ideas to its dogma, and we still insist on backing the whole package.
  • It’s when we define “faithful” as refusing to question a lack of common sense.

It is a false witness. And whenever we begin to speak things that we no longer exactly believe, trying to reignite our energy, we set in motion the imminent need to lie–because the minute life comes along, or even a person, to challenge our witness, we will have to decide whether to come clean and admit we have lost our fervor, or manufacture a series of excuses and explanations about our present status. It is nasty business.

The American culture is permeated with it–to such an extent that we no longer trust each other by word only. We want to “check out” people on the Internet, to find out if what they claim about themselves is true, because the presence of “false witness” leading to lies has turned us into a nation of suispicious investigators and proven liars.

I think I have tracked down the source of much of what I would call the false witness in the United States of America. Once again, it is caused by our division into two camps. Here are the two false witnesses promoting a series of manufactured lies designed to reinforce original misinformation:

1. “God is in trouble.”

I don’t know how we have been able to convince so many people in this country that God is a loser. Maybe it’s because we have made Satan such a prevalent part of our thinking, portraying him much more powerful than even Biblical theology allots. But there are a bunch of people in this world who believe that God is in trouble. There are ministers who make millions of dollars off of innocent believers, predicting pending doom from some evil that lives in the secular world or in the demonic realm, and is coming to undo the sweetness of God.

Sometimes they proclaim that “Jesus is coming soon and the world is going to end.” Sometimes they spread false rumors about companies being owned by Satan worshippers. Often, they will produce vicious lies about intellectual pursuits in this country that are supposedly trying to eliminate the name of God from our government and society.

Once you have convinced someone through false witness, that God is in trouble, it then becomes necessary to produce a series of frightening lies to back up your assertion and keep the faithful terrified. It changes people who are called to be lovers of mankind, salt of the earth and light of the world, and turns them into a bunch of haters, tasteless infidels and dim bulbs.

I met a man the other night who was very sad and lonely. We were having a delightful conversation about his pursuit of female companionship, when out of the clear blue sky, he told me that the New World Order had just been brought to fruition, and that soon the anti-Christ would attack Israel, and Armageddon would begin. He wasn’t bad–he was sad and lonely, and fell victim to a false witness filled with lies.

I have been told since I was a little “scamperer” that Jesus was coming soon, when my dear friend Jesus made it quite clear that no one knows the day or the hour. It is a rotten false witness demanding that we produce lies to prop it up for the few who are looking for a quick way out from the responsibility of living the gospel to their neighbor.

2. The other false witness that is kicking around in our society is “God IS the trouble.”

Unlike the other misadventure, this one insists that if we could just eliminate the foolishness of believing in a divine being and open the doors to understanding between the races, then we could imagine a world where there is no religion, imagine a world where there is no God, and therefore, imagine a world where mankind is free of the restrictions that cause us to become hateful instead of loving.

There is a false witness in this country that blames conservatives, Christians, Muslims, Jews and anyone who dares to look skyward, for initiating all wars, rumors of wars and inquisitions of all types. They continue by propagating lies about how human beings are innately good, and that left to themselves they will always find a way to cohabit in peace.

Through this false witness, God becomes the enemy–because after all, God leads to religion. Religion promotes intolerance, and intolerance generates the wars which pile up the dead bodies of the innocent.

Atheism and agnosticism have become “hip.” They are equated with the presence of intelligence. Younger folks are jammed by their friends to reject the fantasy of fairies in the sky and lightning bolts from heaven in favor of more mediocre pursuits and numerous downloads on the Internet.

These two false witnesses not only square people off against each other, but force them to produce lies about the other party, which by the time they are disproven, have already assimilated into the mainstream of thinking, never to be retrieved.

If you dare call these two false witnesses out for the charlatans they truly are, you will incur wrath from both camps, because the lies are so ingrained that they are seemingly incapable of shedding their own fantasy in favor of reality and truth.

God is not in trouble.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” God has Mother Nature to give us a balance in our daily atmosphere and the presence of the Golden Rule to allow true goodness to always win over annoying evil.

God is not the trouble.

Once again, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” God is not against human beings doing their best to save the whales and address difficulties with climate. God sits in the laboratories as scientists try desperately to take the fruits of the earth and find cures for disease. God is in the recording studios as true artists look for ways to create beauty in the earth instead of just adding to the clamor. God is not merely the promoter of intellectualism–He is the source of all intelligence.

But as long as these two false witnesses walk the earth, we will be pummeled and punished by an onslaught of lies which try to prove the validity of errant ideas. God hates it.

So all you televangelists who think you are doing such a wonderful work by attacking the evil in the world in order to protect the Kingdom of God, be aware that the Creator is sending tiny tape worms to eat away at your finance, eliminate your power and expose your lies.

And for those of you who feel you have reached a mentality that is beyond faith, understand that the God of miracles will continue to evolve the earth in directions beyond your comprehension, blessing where you have already cursed, enlightening where you have already given up, and exposing the ridiculous nature of doubting when resurrection is standing right in front of you.

God hates a false witness. Why? Because it always leads to lies. And lies are what rob us of the truth that can make us free. We are not free in America. We are entangled in a web of lies brought on by leaping on the bandwagon of our favorite false witness.

May I suggest that you get off, and instead of believing that “God is in trouble” or that “God IS the trouble,” you understand that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.

Get out there and study the fullness of the earth and be prepared to come and dine with your Father.

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Slyly … August 27, 2012

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Stepping into my motel room a little weary and delirious from an exciting weekend of being around precious humans from Riverdale and New Hudson, I decided to unwind a few minutes before collapsing in totality by watching some television. Does anybody else notice that the accumulation of channels seems to be proportional with the diminishing of possibilities? But I eventually landed on some special about the Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960’s–all the rock stars that appeared on his program. I didn’t watch very long, but I did view an appearance, from back in 1969, of Sly and the Family Stone.

Promotional photo of Sly & the Family Stone fo...

Promotional photo of Sly & the Family Stone for Rolling Stone, 1970 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I always enjoyed that band. Their songs–Everyday People, Dance to the Music, and Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself, were not only joyous, uniting us, but extraordinarily musical. As I watched, Sly jumped up from his organ and ran into the audience at the Ed Sullivan Theater and tried to get the stodgy white folks dressed up for a night of “going to town” to dance with him. There were no takers. Their faces mingled shock with attempts to curl their lips up into grins, to appear at least a little hip. Sly didn’t care. He kept dancing. He kept rocking. And he ended up thanking the audience for “letting him be himself” while taking a bow.It struck me as funny and alarming at the same time–because the people in the Ed Sullivan show watching the performers believed that they were America and these rockers were a cultural transition–an anomaly which would soon pass, and that we would return to a corporate sanity.

Are you ready for this? They were wrong.

It got me thinking. There are three things I avoid doing. When I was younger I did them because I felt I was some sort of crusader for a cause–against the “wooly bear monsters” of the world. I now realize that you can’t have a sword fight with the wind.

1. I don’t try to satisfy the dissatisfied. There are people who arrive with faces already in place and they have no intention of ever altering that countenance. They have already “decided.” Of what they have decided I am not sure, but when you tell them to “be of good cheer,” what they do is sneer. Any time spent chipping away at such stone will only break your chisel … or create a very ugly sculpture.

2. I learned that you can’t change the arrogant. Once folks decide they’re better than anyone else, they will fight you, argue with you and actually be willing to die for their own form of prejudice. We keep wanting to have dialogues in this country about things like racism, poverty and spirituality. That would require that the people indulging in the conversations would be willing to forfeit their present cemented views for more fluid possibilities. Can I give you a clue? It’s not going to happen. What happens is that the people sitting in the Ed Sullivan Theater, who think it’s foolish to dance to the music, just die. If you’re smart, you’ve been having conversations with their children, with the aspiration of creating a better generation. In other words, “Grandma and Grandpa, you are welcome to come along with us. Just don’t bring your bigotry.”

3. I get away from folks who hope things get worse. I occasionally go to churches where they are having Sunday School classes on Revelation, the Book of Daniel and the end of the world. This is a hopeless situation. There is no way you can offer a savior to the world if you’re secretly hoping that they don’t accept him so he can ride in on a white horse and chop off their heads. People who believe that we’re all going to hell in a handbasket spend all their days and nights weaving handbaskets. It’s fruitless.

You might cynically say, “Then who is left?” Well, let me borrow from Sly and the Family Stone. There ARE people who have not given up on the idea of human beings. Here is some fresh information. At the top of that list is God. I like to have my name put on a list where God is at the peak of the signatures.

As Sly said in the song, Dance to the Music, “You gotta find the rhythm.” If you want to make a difference, you’ve got to understand that no matter what you see, no matter what you hear and no matter what you think, people will be free. You can lock them up for years in the Soviet Union, you can try to use religion to prohibit liberty, you can blow up all the heathen nations in the name of Allah–you will end up being the fool. The rhythm of earth demands that people will be free.

Also as Sly and the Family Stone said in Everyday People, you gotta join the harmony. “NoOne is better than anyone else.” I don’t care if you agree; I don’t care if you have found some clever exception to the principle. Your particular cunning is not going to outfox the spirit of God which is no respecter of persons.

And finally, borrowing from Sly and the Family Stone’s song, Thank You for Letting Me Be Myself, each one of us should go out and write our own melody. Since we know that people will be free and that NoOne is better than anyone else, go out and find a reason every day to believe. I am sick to death of the religionists who tout a mere Ten Commandments and the atheists who contend they are geniuses by removing faith from their everyday walks. It is my job to find a reason to believe–and in so doing, write my melody line to go with the harmony of life and the rhythm of the universe.

So to quickly review, do yourself a big favor and stop trying to satisfy the dissatisfied, change the arrogant or hang around folks who are waiting for the end of the world. Instead:

  • Find the rhythm. People will be free.
  • Learn the harmony. NoOne is better than anyone else.
  • And write your melody. Everyday find a new reason to believe.

This is the kind of idealism in the heart of a human being that makes God smile.

Ed Sullivan will always be known for being a kind of stuffy guy who let rock and roll have its day. He won’t be remembered for booking the guy with the spinning plates. So … stop spinning plates.

Get out there and rock your world.

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