3 Things … May 7th, 2020

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That Happen Right Before You Get a Big Break

1. You stop waiting for a big break

 

2. You joyfully work with what you’ve got.

 

3. You are happy. Big breaks just adore busy, happy people.

Things I Learned from R. B. (May 3rd, 2020)


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Episode 13

Not every door is an opening to happiness, but instead. can be a passageway to a cave with no exit—a darkened confinement.

After three-and-a-half years of traveling with the family, we found ourselves ricocheting from one miracle to another.

Although miracles have a glorious side, they also warn of an inconsistent living pattern, which requires grace to be poured out in barrels instead of cups.

Our journey became irresponsible.

Even though we tried to remain pure in heart, it was becoming difficult to see God. We were truly poor in spirit but bewildered by our insolvency.

We certainly set our goals to be merciful to others, but we were overly dependent on obtaining mercy for our lackings.

We were broke most of the time, and the rest of the time, nervous about how soon it would be before we had nothing again.

The fellowship, the family time and the intimacy was so enriching that we were nearly unable to make solid human decisions about our daily responsibilities.

Coming upon an opportunity to settle into a motel room in Santa Clara, California, where we would work our rent off by assisting on the premises and filling in front desk duties—was just too alluring.

I legitimately wanted my children to be confident. Although they were growing in their faith, their personal sense of talent and capability was diminished by persistent trial and tribulation.

At first the motel situation seemed ideal. My wife was even able to get a job, which for the first time in a long time, gave us money without having to wonder whether it would soon trickle away.

But to remain in the situation and do it righteously required that we abandon our music, our mission and that closeness that can only be achieved by pilgrims on a journey to the same holy place.

We drifted apart.

My sons became too familiar with HBO at young ages and had too much time on their hands. (We were uncomfortable placing them in a local school, lest the teachers or authorities ask too many questions.)

For a little over two years, we experienced an unhealthy prosperity.

One day, a traveler passed through and talked to me about my situation. He remarked, “If the owner here has been charging you tax for your room, he owes you that money. Because after the first month, no one has to pay tax on a motel room.”

I laughed. I didn’t know it was true. So I joked with the boss about it when he came into work that day.

I left, went out to lunch, and when I came back, he was standing in front of my door with a check for three thousand dollars in his hands—apparently frightened that I would make more out of the tax situation than I ever would have. He decided to cover his butt by paying back the money, so he wouldn’t have to worry about being accosted in court.

After he left me alone, I stared at the check.  I realized it was three thousand good reasons to leave “the cave” and start looking for a door again. I didn’t waste any time because I didn’t want to waste any of the money.

We packed up that night and the next morning we rolled off to Sacramento, California. Within two days, we rented a duplex with three bedrooms, a sunken living room, a fireplace, and a huge dining room—a heavenly haven to call our own.

We decided to try to start scheduling concerts again and live off our talent. The first three months were tremendously successful. Wanting to celebrate that Thanksgiving with friends, we invited two from San Diego, and I called R. B., who was living in Tacoma, Washington, to come and join us.

For the first time in his life, R. B. jumped at an opportunity. I was shocked. I was anticipating a rejection, or at least a request for three days of fasting and prayer to decide.

He arrived—and he looked terrible. After a few conversations I discovered that he had lost his job four months earlier and was living off of unemployment insurance. He was drinking, smoking more and was quickly running out of money. It was the most vulnerable I had ever seen him.

As the tenderness of Thanksgiving swept over him, he was in tears several times, grateful for the opportunity to escape his Washington surroundings and be with those who accepted him in the form he arrived.

On Monday, the San Diego couple left. R. B. decided to stay on a few more days.

During that time, we played music, sang songs and even devised a plan so he could come and live with us, join the band and be part of the tour.

Even though my sons were not particularly favorable to R. B., they still thought it would be inspirational to have another band mate.

We laughed and cried our way to a local department store, where we purchased a matching vest for him, to go with the ones my sons wore.

He seemed to belong. More importantly, he felt needed.

Yet, two days later, as we were about to rehearse, he became very still. Something was amiss. After allowing him a space of time to come clean with his feelings, I finally confronted him.

He cried again—and these were not the tears of a grateful traveler. This weeping was coming from a place of fear.

He explained to the whole family that he wanted to travel with us and be a part of the band, but he was scared. All of his life, he had counted on a job to take care of his financial needs, and even though he wasn’t working now, he felt more comfortable occupation than he did launching out by faith, to see how far his abilities would take him.

I wanted to argue with him. But one thing I knew was that each human being sets his own time and place. If we try to find a place and establish a time, he will only rebel.

Two days later, he quietly packed his bag.

He silently ate a breakfast with us, and he walked out our door without saying another word.

I really did believe this would be the last time I ever saw him.

I felt mercy, because I, myself, just a few years earlier, had gone into a dark cave—because I was afraid of my circumstances.

“Be safe,” I spoke aloud.

The family looked at me. They didn’t know what I was thinking.

But they certainly understood what I felt.

The B. S. M. G. Report


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My friend, would you please define

Why you think we are all just fine?

BAD

What happens when good doesn’t make us better? Isn’t that bad?

  • A good economy.
  • A good job market
  • Good Christmas season.
  • Good outlook on the stock exchange.

Why don’t these things we call good make us better?

And what is the purpose of touting good things when they don’t internalize into human beings and transform them into dynamic individuals?

Is it possible that it’s bad when things are good?

Are we better when things are worse?

Is there a part of us that knows we’re not worthy and wants to find our own feet instead of being lifted?

I’m not sure, but I know this:

It seems to me to be bad when good doesn’t make us better.

SAD

Likewise, when joy brings no smile, is it really happiness?

If the “joy of the Lord is strength,” why does the believer frown?

If music truly brings joy, why are drugs necessary to make us high?

If being in love is actually a joyful thing, why do we spend our time lamenting our choice?

It seems to me to be pretty sad when joy brings no smile.

When a Christmas season comes and goes and we’re so engrossed in politics, impeachment, misconceptions and distractions that the carols play at the same decibel as years before—with identical emotion—yet fail to beckon our childlike spirit.

MAD

It makes me mad when the common gains no sense.

Why is it that we are trying to be the first generation to come to different conclusions than our ancestors did? Is it just so we can proclaim our uniqueness?

The Earth has been around for a long time and certainly has its ways.

Nature speaks to us.

Science teaches us.

And our human brothers and sisters join us.

It is common—but it gives no sense.

It is obvious—yet ignored.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

But wait! Wait. Ours can.

He who hates his brother hates God.

No, no. We have a much different interpretation.

Lying is evil.

Oh, my goodness—you are so behind the times. We have discovered a way to lie and make it charming.

For there to be common sense, there must be sense we acknowledge as common among us all.

GLAD

I wonder if we’re prepared to avoid the pain by letting what is sane produce our gain.

This is the way to be glad.

Gladness is not sprinkled on us like fairy dust.

It isn’t an accidental stumbling into the hilarious.

Gladness is when the pain leaves because the sane produces gain.

Isn’t it bad when good doesn’t make us better?

I find it sad when joy produces no smile.

Are you mad when the common gains no sense?

Or are you like me?

Ready to be glad, relinquishing the pain by allowing what is sane to offer true gain.

Sit Down Comedy … November 1st, 2019

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Sit Down Comedy

“It’s simple.”

Remember when that was a positive statement?

Fear, anxiety or nervous energy might grip your soul, and someone would come along and reassure you that what you were about to do wasn’t terribly complex, and had certainly been done many, many times before.

Then…something changed.

I don’t know exactly what it was—you can sit around with your friends and develop all sorts of conjectures on what caused us to devolve from creatures who were grateful for simplicity to a more pompous, edgy and cranky configuration that seems to prefer difficulty and struggle.

Matter of fact, play a game.

Sit down and watch some television—the news, dramas and comedies—and count how many times you hear:

“Life is complicated.”

“It’s not gonna be easy.”

“Somebody just needs to grow up and realize there’s lots of twists and turns.”

“We need to be ready to take on the battle.”

Maybe I’m lazy, but I don’t like to work harder than I need to.

Maybe I’m stupid, but I don’t want to learn things I don’t have to learn.

And maybe I’m immature, but I believe life was bestowed upon us to find happiness, not to fester despair.

So if you’re in the mood to escape an overly tangled web, let me simplify things:

There aren’t thousands of different cultures, millions of different personalities and billions of unique individuals.

Human beings fall into two easy-to-understand categories:

1. I am looking for a world which will adjust to me.

2. I am learning to adjust to my world.

And when you meet people, you can tell immediately which of the two philosophies they favor.

Nervous energy, a tinge of anger, wringing hands over the problems in the world? This is a person who believes the world has a responsibility to adjust to him or her.

On the other hand, people who are easy-going and relaxed are travelers who realize that all the adjusting has to come from them—because the world was in business before they were born.

You can feel free to find another explanation. You can assume there is a possibility for eight billion pathways on this planet that has 27,000-mile waistline.

I would not criticize you or stand in your way. After all, it is your journey, not mine.

But for those “Simple Simons” like myself, who would like to find a more concise explanation, I offer the two-category primer.

So what will it be?

Are you going to keep seeking a world that will adjust to you? Or will you learn how to adjust to the world?

It is not an issue of good and bad. It is not an issue of righteous and evil, but rather, a simple determination on how many smiles you get to sprout in a given day.

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3 Things … February 14th, 2019

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Doing your thing

To Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

 

1.  Isolate your real abilities and be totally honest about your limitations

 

2.  Quickly find an environment that is free of intimidation

 

3.  Never leave happiness out of your decision-making

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Jesonian … August 4th, 2018

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“No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other.”

The word “master” is such a nasty, archaic term. But basically, the message is that there is something that compels us. We fancy ourselves to be the compellers, but we actually spend most of our lives compelled. And when you take the word “compel” and look at the synonyms–constrain, enforce, urge, bulldoze, coerce and squeeze–you come up with a vision in your mind which gives you a sense of claustrophobia concerning being manipulated.

Perhaps that’s why people have trouble coming to terms with human life. They continue to pursue the fallacy that they call all their own shots and that everything is perfect if it is at their beckon command.

Unfortunately, Jesus was correct. From the time of our birth to the time of our death, we are obsessed with some compulsion. It is that compulsion that dictates our moods, our actions, our frustrations, our bigotry and to a large degree, our finance.

The reason I bring up finance is that the rest of the verse is a cold, hard statement from the Nazarene, telling us, “You cannot serve God and Mammon.”

Like master, Mammon is one of those words which is barely comprehensible to most of the population. Mammon is just a total obsession with things. Once we are obsessed with things, we are compelled to get them. Whatever stands in our way becomes the enemy.

I sat down before I wrote this essay and asked myself, “What is it that compels me?”

Much to the chagrin of my lineage, who may be waiting for an inheritance, profit and gain has never intrigued me in the least. I’ve had lots of money and I’ve had no money, and have found the two experiences to have little impact on my soul satisfaction.

So I would like to simplify this phrase down to one that may be easier to understand: You will be compelled, and the choice you are given is whether you are going to serve good, or goods.

Pause.

Your immediate instinct may be to say, “I’m not materialistic. I don’t want more than I need.” But there are three questions you can ask that will tell you if you’re being mastered by the good, or by goods:

1. Do you worry about money?

Since you know worrying about money doesn’t achieve anything, what is the purpose of worrying about it unless you’re compelled to do so?

2. Do you feel you would be happier and better off if you had more money?

Candidly, even though we don’t think money can buy happiness, we’re pretty sure it can rent it.

3. Do you have a wish list of things you hope to attain financially before the end of your life?

A large portion of the world will go to bed hungry tonight. In such an environment, having dinner makes you a rich person.

When you look at these three questions, you can ascertain whether you are being mastered by good or by goods.

What was the master of Abraham Lincoln? Saving the Union. To do so he realized he had to abolish with slavery. A double blessing.

What was the master of Napoleon? Conquering the world and proving that the French were superior. In attempting to do this, he ended up dying alone on an island.

What is the master of former President Jimmy Carter? This man just seems to enjoy helping other folks. He is well into his nineties and still keeps picking up a hammer.

You will be compelled, constrained, urged and coerced to do something from some thing which has gained the full attention of your passion.

Just keep in mind, it is impossible to serve the pursuit of good and the quest for goods.

*****

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

                $7.99 plus S&H

*******

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G-Poppers … January 6th, 2017

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Jon close up

Awakened in the middle of the night, G-Pop took an extra moment or two to ponder a question.

Actually, the inquiry in his mind was the by-product of a whole series of conversations and interactions over the holiday season.

He realized, looking at friends and relatives, that each one had acquired a profile based upon their opinion about Earth’s origins.

It’s really rather simple: Is Earth cosmic or is it comic?

Does the path we choose take us into a realm of greater understanding because we accept that there was some sort of Great Architect who laid foundations for future building, or is it all just jumbled atoms colliding into one another to generate mutations which gradually move us forward in tiny increments?

A third option is that it’s both–in other words, mutations which the Great Architect scribbled into the blueprints.

But here’s the difference–without believing in a cosmic intelligence, we are bound by luck or controlled by destiny.

If I’m manipulated by destiny, what in the hell would I care about my own personal attitude or sense of motivation?

And if it’s all luck, I’m just waiting to tumble into one bucket or another.

Yet if it is cosmic–if there’s a way things work and a function to the fiction–then even limited mortals such as ourselves could learn a note or two to participate in the concert band.

This was brought to G-Pop’s mind last night when viewing a project by loved ones, and wondering what prompted these souls to envision a world so out of control, so beyond redemption, that even the “good” characters in their little movie were inflicted with disaster.

Do we have any control toward our own happiness?Because if we don’t, three score and ten years is much too long to endure.

And if we do, then the entire focus of our educational system, our spiritual upbringing and our moral code should be to discover the messages built into the eco-structure which foretell of possibilities.

Is it cosmic? In other words, was there an energy that initiated energy here on Earth?

Is it comic? Is it a collision of haphazard events, with me being the latest accident?

Or was this Master of Wisdom able to blur and blend the two possibilities together–cosmic and comic–to confound the wise and stimulate the simple?

It’s a very important question.

It informs us whether we can master any of our future, or whether we’re at the mercy of the latest splatter.

As G-Pop was thinking, he realized that the difference between the words “cosmic” and “comic” is a single “S.”

Perhaps the “S” stands for Savior.

For in the cosmic world, we struggle and fall short–and find our ultimate peace in accepting grace from our Creator through the Savior.

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