1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Help Things Along)


Question Your Statement

 Undoubtedly the greatest need in our world is for some human beings to show up at the human race.

We seem to be populated by an Earth full of little tin gods who believe that once they have arrived at an opinion, their contention is supreme and should not be challenged.

People make statements:

  • “I believe in God.”
  • “I’m pro choice.”
  • “We need gun control.”
  • “The Second Amendment rules.”
  • “We should guard our borders.”
  • “We should open to other people.”
  • “Pour hot sauce on everything.”

These are statements. Other statements have been made throughout history—just as convincingly—and ended up being false.

  • “Black people are not as smart.”
  • “Jews are rats.”
  • “The Native Americans are savages.”
  • “The Earth is flat.”

All the people who spoke these statements were just as determined as you and me of their rightness.

If you’re going to contribute to the quality of human life, you must question your statement—and the question you should ask of any statement that you hold as a principle for your life is:

What if I’m Wrong?

“I believe in God…but what if there is no God?”

“I’m pro-choice…but what if it ends up being a human life instead of just a fetus?”

“I’m going to heaven…but what if I’m mistaken?”

The humility necessary to be a human being includes the need to question our statements. When we’re not willing to question our statements, we become fanatics for our ideas instead of being enthusiasts for the truth.

 

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3 Things… October 4th, 2018

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That Cause Great Decisions

1. Disconnect your faith.

You have some work to do before you pass it off to heaven.

 

2. Engage your brain.

Count the cost–see what you have and what you can do with it.

 

3. Welcome back your faith.

Now you know where you are, so invite help.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 66) Please Remain Seated Until the Airplane Comes to a Halt… September 16th, 2018

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Never had Matthew been so overjoyed to get to the company jet. He was exhausted.

Yet he was not plagued by the usual nagging doubts that accompanied such fatigue. Something had truly happened back at Milton’s house.

He refused to be one of those arrogant agnostics who, when confronted with the obvious power of faith, decide to turn to stone, bouncing testimonies off of hardened hearts.

What happened to him had nothing to do with Milton–or Jesus Christ, for that matter. It had erupted from inside his own being–a cry he had stifled for years and drenched in a baptism of alcohol.

Milton had succeeded in “undaming” Matthew’s own personal damnation. Once that was accomplished, the waters flowed. Matthew had no idea what any of it meant, but knew when the jet arrived in Las Vegas, he would need to do some soul cleaning, which would include his house.

But now all he wanted to do was sleep.

The jet had a lovely lounge area with four huge leather chairs which eased back to make wonderful surfaces for slumber. He asked the pilot if he had a small sleeping aid, to help him tone down of his jumpiness and hysteria. It was a bit unnerving that the pilot offered such a pill to Matthew.

Matthew inserted jokingly, as he popped the sleep aid into his mouth, “Now, it’s just me taking one of these, right?”

The pilot smiled politely, obviously having heard the joke many times before.

Taking a big gulp of tonic water–his new replacement for whiskey–he swallowed the pill, and before the plane taxied off the runway, he was gone. There were no dreams, just a blissful, cloudy darkness.

Matter of fact, Matthew didn’t move a single muscle until he slowly awoke, realizing that the plane had stopped. There was a presence in the lounge with him.

He opened his left eye by itself (which he was unaware he was able to do). In the blur of sleepiness, he saw the shadow of a person sitting across from him. He gradually teased the other eyeball to join the sight.

Without moving his head or flicking a muscle, he quietly intoned, “Is this heaven? Because I would swear that you look exactly like Michael Hinston.”

The “apparition” calmly replied, “Well, if it’s heaven that’ll be up to you, but I not only am stuck looking like Michael Hinston, I also am forced by birth to be him.”

Matthew jerked to attention, turned, and stared at his old friend. “I was pretty certain you were dead. Are you such a good politician that you found a way to cheat death?”

Michael laughed. “No, Matthew. There’s a lot to tell you. And they sent me aboard this plane so you wouldn’t be overwhelmed.”

This made Matthew burst into laughter. “Oh, I see,” he said. “Somebody coming back from the dead was supposed to be a calming influence.”

Michael stood to his feet, stepped over and gave his friend a hug. “Well,” he answered, “in the scheme of things that may be true.”

Matthew took a deep breath. “Well, I guess I should ask you how you survived not breathing.”

“The only way I know how to do that,” replied Michael, “is to escape not dying.”

Matthew just stared at him, perplexed.

“Let me give you the short version,” said Michael. “Maybe later on we can go into more detail. I was actually in the hospital, being prepared for surgery, when they discovered the pending indictments against me in Washington, D.C. A man walked into my room–you’ll meet him later–and explained my situation. He told me that I could give a piece of my liver to you, recuperate in the hospital and end up in a struggle over my Washington, D.C. indiscretions for the next five years until all of my credibility and the legacy of my life with my children was drug through the mud and hung up for everyone to see. Or…”

Michael paused.

Matthew jumped in. “You’re stopping the story now? Are you kidding me? Or what?”

“Or,” Michael continued, “I could come here. Fake my own death and continue my life, free of the obstruction and the criticism of those who were interested in bringing down the Jesonian movement.”

Matthew craned his neck and winced. “You can tell I’ve really been out of the cycle. I didn’t know we called it that.”

“It needed a name,” said Michael, “or it was going to become an orphan.”

Matthew, being an old advertising warhorse, nodded. After all, it was not nearly as important that gelatin taste good as it was for it to be forever referred to as Jello.

The two men sat for a moment, allowing the information to settle like dust in a storm.

Finally Matthew asked, “So how does one fake one’s death?”

“Well,” said Michael, “when they took the piece of liver from me for your recovery, they went ahead and removed my appendix, which gave them my DNA. They replicated that in a laboratory here on the grounds, and placed it in a cloned body, which ended up easily fooling the Las Vegas coroner.”

Matthew squinted. “So they made a clone of you, from your appendix, that was so good that they fooled the medical examiner?”

He sighed. “Is this going to get weirder?”

Michael thought for a moment. “No…but similar.”

Matthew reached over and downed the remaining tonic water. “Let’s start with where I am. Or is this Vegas?”

Michael shook his head. “No. This is not Vegas. This is… Well, there’s someone else here that wants to see you. I’m going to let her continue.”

Matthew turned his head to look behind him. It was Jo-Jay. He gasped.

He wasn’t just surprised to see her, but also to see her looking so well. The last time he had eyeballed her in Las Vegas, her countenance was ashen. But there she was–beautiful Jo-Jay–living and breathing.

She leaned down and hugged him, holding it for a long moment. Matthew began crying again, just like he had at Milton’s house. He was tired of holding it back. Hell, he was glad to see his friend.

But he was also growing impatient with being in the dark. Jo-Jay, as always, sensed his mood. She sat down in the leather chair across from him, took his hands and said, “You are sitting on the tarmac of a place called The Haven on the Mount. The description would be much too difficult, but let me just say that our benefactor bought four connecting mountains in the state of Montana, hollowed out the center and has constructed a small city. It’s on nobody’s radar. No GPS. No one knows it’s here. And I was allowed to come and be the beneficiary of research that is being conducted, which is in the final stages of finding a cure for cancer. I volunteered to be a guinea pig, and have been cancer free for thirty days. Not only cancer free, but rejuvenated–like I haven’t felt since I was nineteen years old.”

Jo-Jay burst into tears–not broken, but tears of gratitude for being given such an opportunity.

Then there was a third voice–another visitor.

“I guess that’s my cue.”

It was an older gentleman. He made his way into the compartment, holding out his hand. Matthew shook it, and the man sat down in another of the comfortable leather chairs. He was wearing a suit which had once been in style, and remained fashionable because it was so well-tailored. He carried a cane. He settled in and began.

“Mr. Ransley… May I call you Matthew?”

Matthew nodded.

“My name is Arthur Harts.”

Matthew laughed. “That’s odd. I once knew a billionaire who became my client after he died who had that very same name.”

The whole group joined in with a large chuckle.

Arthur continued. “You see, we had some experience with faking deaths because we had already done mine.”

“That’s right,” said Matthew. “I was there for your funeral. I thought it might help me get the money if I walked past your casket. You sure looked dead.”

Mr. Harts cleared his throat. “My scientists do wonders with cadavers.”

“Wow,” said Matthew. “I don’t even know what to say to that.”

“Let me explain it this way,” said the billionaire. “I was tired of being rich and not being able to make a difference. You see, as long as I was alive I was a business man–not taken seriously for anything else–and I was done with business. I was ready to try to make the world run more like Eden instead of doing its best impression of Hell.”

He took a breath. “So I decided to die. I found a place–this place–and I took my fortune, enjoyed some fruits for myself, but gave the abundance of the orchard into the hands of younger folks like you, who had a hunger and thirst to see the world become a more righteous place. Mr. Ransley–excuse me, Matthew–can I tell you? You have done an amazing job.”

Matthew was touched, befuddled and angry, all at the same time. Harts looked at him and continued.

“I built this complex–a city with about 20.000 people, and called it ‘Haven on the Mount.’ A place for researchers, scientists, musicians, artists, inventors and even prayer warriors, could come, free of harm, and work on one goal. It was the dream of Jesus–that God’s will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”

Michael nodded his head. Jo-Jay welled up with tears. But Matthew cut to the chase.

“So why am I here today?” he asked.

“Well,” said Arthur, “you are here because you’ve done an outstanding job, as I said, and because you have found some peace in your own soul. At least, that’s what Brother Milton told me.”

Matthew leaned in. “You know Milton?”

“And he, me,” replied Arthur.

“So you know about our meeting yesterday?” Matthew inquired slowly.

Jo-Jay burst in joyfully. “We’re so happy for you, Matthew. You fought the good fight of faithlessness. Now, I guess the message for you is, you’re being given a chance to enter the joy of the Lord.”

Matthew leaned back in his chair, his eyes moving from one person to another, seeking sanity.

Harts laughed. “You are such a precious boy. I knew you would have doubts about this. We welcome those doubts here. Without doubts we would never have built this sanctuary for progress. It wasn’t constructed on faith–it was formed from our doubt.”

His eyes glinted. “We doubted the human race could survive much longer, wallowing in nothing but ignorance. We doubted our ability to change anything. We doubted that four mountains could be hollowed out to make living quarters for twenty thousand people to generate the electricity of renaissance. We’ve doubted every single thing, every step of the way.”

Matthew sat up in his chair. “But what about Jubal? Jasper? Sister Rolinda? And Soos?”

As he mentioned the last name, he glanced over at Jo-Jay.

Michael spoke up. “Matt–they are where they’re supposed to be. The world needs them right out there in the middle of the pot, making soup. Nothing could have happened without those four souls. If you remove them, perhaps nothing new will ever happen again.”

Matthew lightly smacked his head. “I almost forgot–Carlin. Where’s he?”

Jo-Jay giggled. “Oh, Carlin’s here. You see, Carlin is Mr. Harts’ grandson. He was…how shall I put it? He was this movement’s Paul of Tarsus…”

Michael interrupted. “I guess at that point, it would have been Saul of Tarsus…”

Matthew held up a hand. “You’re talkin’ Bible. I’m lost.”

Arthur patted Matthew’s knee. “Don’t worry about it, Matthew. God called Paul because the early church had begun to stagnate, and Paul came along to take the message outside the city of Jerusalem, venturing into the whole world. My grandson has a great ability to change the curtains in a room from blue to red without you ever seeing that he’s messed with the rods…”

Matthew nodded his head. “Damn. That’s a good description of Carlin. So he’s your grandson?”

“I have two grandchildren,” said Arthur. Matthew nodded, expecting to see pictures. But instead, stepping into the lounge was Leonora.

Matthew couldn’t breathe. His mind tried to gather fragments–thoughts that might provide some explanation. He stared, wide-eyed, as if struck by a bolt of lightning.

Leonora stepped up to him, bent down and tenderly kissed him on the lips. “I am Mr. Harts’ granddaughter. What I’m about to say will be confrusing at first, so listen all the way through.”

Matthew could only nod.

She continued. “I’m in charge of the Music Conservatory here. My grandpa asked me if I would go to Las Vegas to try to save your soul…”

“What the hell?” Matthew interrupted, in total disbelief. “You are the biggest, fat–well, not fattest–but largest atheist I’ve ever met.”

Jo-Jay stepped in and said, “They knew that if someone started attacking the work you had done in making Jesus popular again, you would defend it.”

Leonora continued. “That’s right. If I had tried to preach to you, you’d have run to the desert. You probably would have drunk yourself to death. But I was such an obnoxious disbeliever that it made you find the gold in your own movement.”

“Fuck,” said Matthew. “And I mean that as a prayer. You’re absolutely right–and I hate you for it. But you are right. So it was an act? Sleeping with me? Standing on our heads licking each other–that was all just a plan to get me to sign on the dotted line?”

Leonora moved forward and put her arms around his neck, kissing him. “No. Never. I never intended to fall in love with you. Just be an irritant to your spirit. But I did.”

“You did what?” asked Matthew, pulling away. “Are you saying you fell in love with me?”

He pushed Leonora away and looked her in the face. “You left me in agony–not knowing where you were–and that’s your way of expressing love?”

Harts interrupted. “What Leonora was trying to do…”

Matthew pointed a finger at the billionaire. “Shut the hell up, old man! This is between me and her.”

Matthew looked at her with hurt eyes. “If this whole damn setup here is just a plan to manipulate people’s lives, then God damn you all. Here’s what I tell you–I’d rather have a world filled with explosions, evil and demons than see goody-goody folks like you trying to control everybody by promoting a puppet empire of Jesus freaks.”

Arthur, not at all offended, clapped his hands slowly. “There you have it, Matthew. There’s the problem. When are we interfacing, interacting, and when are we interfering? It’s hard to know. That’s why we need you. You won’t let us become goody-goody puppet masters.”

Leonora couldn’t remain quiet any longer. “I don’t know where this is going to go. I’m not prepared to give up on us. If you stay, I will answer all your questions, and learn from your doubts. If you go, I will have to go with you.”

The billionaire sat up and said sharply, “I can’t let you do that, Leonora. I can only guarantee your safety here.”

She turned to her grandfather and said, “What part of ‘I love you, Matthew’ do you not understand? I already walked away from him once because you asked me to. I won’t do it again.”

Suddenly the room was still. No one moved. No one spoke. Everyone was waiting for Matthew to assimilate all the data. Arthur tried to speak, but stopped, realizing that it was ill-conceived.

Leonora held Matthew’s hands, looking into his eyes. Jo-Jay cuddled up next to Michael and closed her eyes in prayer.

At length Matthew spoke.

“Well, I never make a habit of landing somewhere without taking in a few tourist attractions. Is there a tour? And if there is, I demand a golf cart.”

 

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Cracked 5 … August 21st, 2018


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cracked 5 logo keeper with border

Reasons Given for Not Attending Church

 

A. Too much gluten in the communion wafer

 

B. Don’t like heaven, nor favor hell

 

C. PEW-trification

 

D. Allergic to sermons

 

E. The choir is white–REALLY white.

 

 

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Jesonian … July 14th, 2018

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In Luke the 7th Chapter, a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to dinner.

Why?

As the story rolls out, it becomes obvious that it wasn’t a “special” invitation. Jesus arrived to a very generic, all-male environment, believing that he was a special guest, but was ushered in to be seated as if he’s one of hundreds at a Golden Corral Buffet.

You see, Simon wanted to be “the guy.” He wanted to be that fellow who was open-minded enough to extend an invitation to Jesus. But at the same time, he was sure to portray that he was not getting on board with the Carpenter’s crowd.

Nasty politics. Insincere feelings.

So Jesus plopped down to have dinner, thoroughly ignored.

Except for one woman. She was a whore.  Luke makes it clear that she was not an out of work prostitute, nor one who had decided to forsake her profession.

Matter of fact, we are led to believe that she had just come from the job site to see Jesus. She probably still had the smell of a man on her. She certainly had the look of evil to those religious men who had presumably gathered to consider the turn of some phrase uttered by a prophet a thousand years ago.

She brought a gift–ointment. She brought her tears, and she used her hair to dry those tears as they drizzled on his feet.

It was a sensual experience.

It was so intimate that the Pharisees, especially Simon, became infuriated that Jesus did not stop the awkwardness of the moment.

They whispered. “If he were truly a prophet, he would know what kind of woman she is…”

When Jesus realized they were critiquing the woman’s gentleness and mocking her right to be considered, he spoke up.

First, he asks Simon’s permission to speak to him. He doesn’t yell. He doesn’t offer counsel where it is not wanted. He asks for the grace to share.

And then he explains the three essentials to reaching people–whether it’s for God or for business.

He tells Simon, “When I came here you offered me no water, you gave me no kiss and you provided no oil. Yet this woman has given me the water of her tears, has kissed my feet with her warmth and anointed me with oil she brought in her alabaster box.”

Water. Kiss. Oil.

All humans need all three of these.

We need water to be cleansed. We need water to drink. We need water to be refreshed, instead of having things withheld, leaving us thirsty.

Simon thought they were going to have a great conversation over dinner about their disagreements. Jesus said, “You don’t get it, dude. It’s about water. It’s about offering a kiss.”

Intimacy.

I, for one, am sick and tired of ministry that has no connection. It takes more than three or four scriptures being read aloud for us to feel caressed.

The human race has not failed. Rather, the messengers of God have settled for meetings in dark rooms to discuss minutia.

The woman gave Jesus a kiss and he said it was good.

There is no ministry without intimacy. If you don’t plan on looking deeply into someone’s eyes, drying their tears and hugging them, then quit. Save yourself the aggravation of performing religious duties that have become meaningless.

And finally, it was the oil–the oil of gladness, the oil of healing.

It touched Jesus.

How magnificent is it to know that you are a woman who has just risen from the bed of being with a lover, and worked up the gumption to come to Jesus’ feet humbly, admitting your confusion, and know that you moved him?

Ministry is not about theology.

Ministry is not about church.

Ministry is not about praise and worship.

It’s about bringing the water for cleansing, the kiss for intimacy and the oil for healing.

Jesus did not come to Earth to explain Heaven.

Jesus came to Earth so we once and for all could make sense of Earth.

*****

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

                $7.99 plus S&H

*******

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G-Poppers … January 5th, 2018

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G-Pop has a heart to share something with his children.

There is a certain hint of sadness that settles into a life filled with goodness–goodness, in this case, being defined as a willingness to learn and adapt to the ways of Earth instead of ignoring, rejecting or refuting them.

Once we make our peace with the planet of our birth, and cease to turn our backs on its beautiful, natural ways, some goodness makes its home in our hearts. This is not always permanent, but it visits enough that we should always keep the guest room ready.

But finding the goodness of life does introduce brief periods of melancholy.

After all, if you do decide to “love your neighbor as yourself,” you might actually begin to have empathy for people, even though they don’t love you the same way.

If you pursue becoming “the salt of the Earth,” you might shed a tear over a tasteless society.

Discovering ways to be “the light of the world” just punctuates the darkness.

Contentment sweeps through your soul when you cease to judge others, but realize that their paths will contain sadness and struggle, and find joy in living instead of acting like the whole journey is about making heaven, and speculating with too much revelry about who occupies hell.

There is a certain sadness that accompanies goodness; a mourning that follows being blessed, which requires comforting.

It does not leave us inconsolable–we are not without remedy. God will need to dry our tears.

Rather, it is the sense of yearning to continue to find the grace of God by simply complying with the flow of Earth, and feeling pain for those who continue to rebel.

The Twenty-Third Psalm phrases it best:

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life…”

Yes, when the sweet blanket of forgiving goodness covers our wounded souls, it is our mandate to feel deep, heartfelt mercy for those who are chilled by reality.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 2nd, 2017

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And The Word Became Music

And the word became music

And dwelt among us

We beheld the glory of the story

Harmony came our way

We received it not

But as many as received melody, God gave the power to sing

And the song went forth

We heard the joy of heaven

And the tears of hell

We lifted our voice

With expressive choice

The hum of our hope

The accord of the chord

The rhythm of joy

We may never agree

On all that we see

But the ballad of life

Cuts through all the strife

And for a glorious measure

We blend a musical treasure

For the Word became music

And when it did

We had a shot

 

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