3:02 A.M. CDT — September 11, 2011 1,266

I awoke, fully alert, heart pounding, beads of sweat on my forehead, with my hands propping myself up in the bed, staring into the darkness.  I was supposed to be in Perry Hall, Maryland—but I wasn’t.  I was back in my home by the lake inHendersonville,Tennessee, gazing across the room at a clock with huge, iridescent numbers, purchased so that I could read it without my glasses.

      3:02 A.M.

      I must be dreaming.  Obviously.  So I tried to move, thinking that such a maneuver would confirm my suspicions that I was in the middle of a visionary state.  I ached.  I was creaky.  It felt real.  I got to my feet, walked around and turned on the little lamp near the bed.  It was weird.  It was my room.  I strolled to my closet, and there were all my clothes and shoes.  Glancing into the bathroom, I saw my favorite shave cream and the toothpaste tube, askew, absent a cap.  What was going on?

      I tried to wake myself up.  No success.  So I made my way out of the bedroom into what we used to call Living Room 2.  There was my white grand piano to the right and my dining room set to the left.  I stepped into my nearby office and there was a calendar.  It read September.  But not 2011.  No, it was September, 2001.

      I was so confused—because I had full awareness of what the reality was in my world of 2011, but it seems I had been transported backwards to a life that was no longer mine—just a memory of children and the past. 

      Suddenly I heard a sound—someone coming up the stairs.  So I stepped back out of my office, and there, at the top of the stairs was my son, Jasson.  But not the 25-year-old man I know now, who is married and on his own, but rather, a scrawny, bleary-eyed 15-year-old, who was trying to figure why Dad was up in the middle of the night. 

      I asked him what the date was.  He looked at me, bewildered, and said, “September 10th.  I mean… 11th.” 

      So I asked him what year.  “Are you all right, Dad?” he queried.

      I realized I was scaring him, so I softened my tone.  “No, Jass, I was just curious to hear you tell me the whole date.”  It was stupid and awkward, but he went along with it. 

      “It’s September 11th, 2001.”

      A chill went down my spine.  I quietly and quickly sent him back off to bed, assuring him that I wasn’t crazy.  I sat down in my easy chair in the living room and deliberated what to do next, because I knew the significance of the date.  I don’t know HOW I knew, because if I really was back in my home, ten years previously, I would have had no awareness.  But I did know.  This was the day that our country would be attacked by terrorists.  How did I know that?

      Once again I tried to wake myself up.  Unsuccessful.  I had to do something.  I had to call somebody.  I looked for my cell phone and couldn’t find it, and then realized that in 2001 I didn’t have one.  So I picked up the land line and dialed the Hendersonville Police Department.  I tried to explain to the night dispatcher that there was going to be a chaotic event happening inNew York Cityand inWashington,D.C., in the next few hours, and I needed to warn people so the tragedy could be averted.  Needless to say, the young woman on the other end was not only confused, but eventually became a bit belligerent over my insistence.  So I asked her if she had the number for the FBI or the CIA.  She didn’t.

      I called information and finally was able to track down a number for the Federal Bureau of Investigation inWashington,D.C.  I dialed it.  A voice came on with a series of suggestions of departments and individuals to contact regarding particular issues, but every time I punched in a number there was nobody there.

      A new reality struck me.  Not only was I running out of time, but New Yorkwas an hour later.  It was now 3:30 in the morning, Central Daylight Time.  It was 4:30 inNew York.  In less than five hours, lives would be lost.  What could I do?

      I tried to call government agencies.  Of course, most of them were closed.  I thought about waking up my neighbors and seeing if some of them might have an idea, but honestly, I didn’t know my neighbors well enough to bother them in the middle of the night, and I really didn’t think their ideas would be any better than mine at this point. 

      I sat for ten minutes, swimming in fear, yet drowning in the absence of inspiration.  I prayed.  As I prayed, I realized that God had already answered the prayer by informing ME—to be his prophet, to save three thousand lives inNew York City.  But what could I do?  I didn’t even really have enough memory about the specifics of the event to warn anyone about how to avoid the disaster.  I was intelligently ignorant.  What a dastardly place to be!  I decided I needed to wake up the family and let them know of my situation, but as I walked through the house, it was unexplainably empty. 

      So it was a dream. 

      But it still didn’t feel that way.  I left messages on phones.  I called the police department again and asked them to send a car over.  And then I dozed off.  So it must NOT be a dream if I could doze off in the middle of it, right?

      The next thing I knew there was a pounding on the door.  I stood to my feet, looked out the window, and my front driveway was filled with police cars.  I opened the door and three policemen pushed their way through and put handcuffs on me, took me out the door and into the awaiting vehicle.

      “Why are you arresting me?” I asked.

      The policeman turned to me and said, “Two airplanes just flew into theWorldTradeCenterinNew York City.  And we have messages from you saying that you knew it was going to happen.  You’re under arrest until we find out the extent of your involvement.”

      As the caravan of cars backed out of my driveway and headed off to the police station, my neighbors stood out in their yards, peering at me in disbelief.  I apparently was a criminal.  All I had done was to wake up ten years to soon.  Or was it ten years too late?

      They placed me in a jail cell and I was so exhausted that I lay down on the hard bunk and fell asleep.  I dreamed.  In the dream, a man came into my cell and stood before me.

      “Who are you?” I asked.

      “Don’t worry about that,” he said with a smile.  “What would you like to know?”

      I laughed out loud.  What would I like to know??  How about why was I in a jail cell?  Was I dreaming?  How could I get out of this horrible visitation?  But possessing a bit of a smart-mouth, I replied, “What I would like to know is the meaning of life.”

      “Sure,” he said.  He leaned over and whispered in my ear, and then backed away.  As he did, He said, “Get up and write it down—so you don’t forget.”

      I did.  I found a piece of paper in the jail cell (weird, huh?) and wrote it down. I lay back down on my bunk and went to sleep.  The next thing I knew, I was waking up several hours later in Perry Hall, Maryland. 

      Thank God for normalcy.  Thank God the nightmare was over.

      I realized that we often lament why God doesn’t intervene in human affairs.  I now understand that if He did, no one would believe Him.

      I was dismissing the whole event as absolute idiocy—or eating too much rich food at night—when I noticed a piece of paper next to my bed.  I remembered that I had written something on a piece of paper in my dream.  Yes—it was the meaning of life.  I slowly reached over and gingerly took the paper in my hand.  It was my handwriting.  I read it aloud.  I read aloud the meaning of life.

      “No one is better than anyone else.”

Glad — September 10, 2011

Glad (1,265)

I had just finished a wonderful weekend in New Orleans, sharing from my recently-published novel entitled I’M…the legend of the son of man—a first-person account of the life of Jesus, including a description of what might have happened during the missing years from age twelve through thirty.  It had been a rich time, with audiences who were moved by the message and in entering the heart of the Master.

      I boarded a plane on Monday morning, September 10th, 2001, to return toNashville,Tennessee.  We had much work ahead of us. My dear partner Janet Clazzy, and I, had begun an orchestra in Sumner County, Tennessee.  It probably would have been wiser to open up a barbeque or a bait shop, but since there were plenty of those around, we opted for the “road less traveled.”  We had children in school and wanted to make sure there was a creative thrust in our county, with original music and an expression of artistic quality.  But mostly it was just fun.

      So we were scheduled to do a recording session the following morning—September 11th—to prepare for an upcoming concert, the debut of the orchestra, on Friday night, November 30th.  The response to the creation of an orchestra in the county had been surprisingly congenial and expansive.  Even the Oak Ridge Boys, who headquartered inHendersonville, had donated to see the project begin.  So we were excited.

      On that Tuesday morning we stopped off at a convenience store to get some coffee en route to the recording session, when a construction worker came running across the parking lot, shouting that an airplane had just hit theWorldTradeCenterinNew York City.  The words were surreal; the surroundings a bit unusual, and the gentleman providing the information—a trifle suspicious.  We didn’t think anything more about it, drove to our location and spent the next six hours recording.  When we emerged from our successful adventure, we stepped out into anAmericawith an entirely new face—one that had been scarred by the vicious attack of radical madmen.

      The next few days, all the information came to the forefront as we realized that three thousand of our brothers and sisters had been slain—supposedly in the name of a God which we believed to be a conveyor of love, not vengeance. 

      My conservative friends were mad.  They wanted revenge.  They wanted to head out into the streets with guns, to track down the perpetrators and shoot them like a rabid raccoon they’d find in their backyard tool shed.  The only trouble with “mad” is that when you’re unable to find the guilty parties, you might just accidentally end up hurting whoever “turbans up.” 

      My more liberal friends were sad.  Remorse was expressed, tears shed, lamentations stated, memorials planned and great heaviness filled their hearts.  The human spirit can only handle so much pain before the mind needfully shuts down. 

      On our part, we immediately got phone calls from contributors, wondering if we were going to cancel plans for the orchestra for the time being, and reschedule the concert.


      “Yes” is a wonderful word, but in the face of insanity, “no” is even more powerful.

      I decided not to join my friends who were mad and I was weary of merely expressing sadness without having a plan on how to retrieve our once-vibrant spirit. 

      I chose glad.  Not “glad” in the sense of being happy over what had occurred, or even at peace with the aftereffects.  No—glad as an acronym.  G.L.A.D.:  Get Living and Doing.

      For the end result of being mad is to drive yourself insane with inadequate justice.  To pursue sad is to extinguish the energy that makes us believe that today is our potential and tomorrow is our joy.  But when you Get Living and Doing, you fight back against the tyranny of ignorance.

      We not only held that concert on November 30th, to standing room only, but in March of the following year, I wrote a tribute to the fallen souls (and the victorious ones) called Opus 9/11: A Day of Courage.  I put together a seven-piece orchestra and all that summer leading up to the first anniversary, we toured fromMichigan toFlorida, sharing a message of hope and victory.  The music was not morose, but rather, a reflection of the energy of the Big Apple and the bustling possibilities of the souls who went to work that day, believing they were making a difference.

      It was small.  I mean it was “small” in the sense that it didn’t gain any national attention, track down Osama bin Laden or stop the terrorists.  What it did was celebrate the fact that we are Americans and we do not believe in hurting people to get them to understand our religion and ways.  Many of us serve Jesus.  He taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to seek the ultimate reproach on those who hurt us by loving our enemies and leaving them baffled by our choice.

      In the midst of my journey, I fell ill with an infection and was hospitalized—but not before I had the chance to strike my blow for freedom.  We brought beauty to our home town by starting an orchestra that produced magnificent sounds of exaltation, and we saluted the fallen and the brave all over the eastern part of theUSby traveling with our seven-piece orchestra and tipping our hat to our fellow-Americans.

      On this tenth anniversary, I am still G.L.A.D.  I find myself in Perry Hall, Maryland, and I am still in the process of Getting Living And Doing.  So God bless America—but God bless us—as we reject the futility of revenge, and instead, pursue the power of individual freedom and the joy of living.

Painting, Video, Portrait and Snapshot

 Painting, Video, Portrait and Snapshot (1,264)

September 9, 2011

        “Seeing is believing.”

      This is a generally accepted axiom, even though there are theologians that would insist God expects faith to be the evidence of things NOT seen. But like every great spiritual principle, believing is better applied when humanity is factored into the mix. Human beings just like to “see” before they proceed. It’s a part of our makeup. But how do we see?

      Well, obviously with our eyes.  But also, we see in portions and fragments—as through a glass darkly—not having the full revelation of plain sight.  It’s the difference you see with a snapshot, a video, a painting and a portrait.

      If everything in your life is a snapshot, then you possibly will miss out on some deeper, more long-lasting images.  Yet if you’re sitting around waiting to finish the painting constructed in your mind’s eye, it may be a while before your vision is realized.  A video, on the other hand, is just an accurate streaming of the activities transpiring at any given time.  And a portrait is when we dress up in our Sunday best and sit under perfect lighting and try to achieve the closest semblance to “gorgeous” that we can muster.

      You can see that having an eye-full of any one of these above the other could cause an imbalance in your thinking. So this is where I think we have to come back to that glorious presentation of heart, soul, mind and strength.  When those four work together, we begin to make more sense to ourselves, and therefore life doesn’t seem quite so obtuse. 

      I think my heart needs snapshots.  It is important for me to release frequent and quick revelations of what I am sensing in myself without fear or shame, knowing I am looking at a snapshot of the moment’s emotional condition.  Our emotions are not geared to producing a painting—long-lasting perceptions in oil.  For emotions are transient.  If you pretend they are permanent, you will become a liar, cheating others out of knowing where you are at any given moment so that they can understand you better, and maybe even help.  Yes, my emotions should be a snapshot of what I am feeling in that particular immediate space of time.

      But it is in my soul—my spirit—that I begin my earthly painting—taking the beautiful things I have discovered and the miracles that have come my way, blending the colors together to paint a picture of life that radiates from my soul as a beacon of hope derived from my journey here—with even greater aspirations for the life beyond.  The spirit is a great painting, allowing for my interpretation and permitting me to add the background of my desire.

      Then we come to the brain.  The brain receives the snapshots from the emotions, which have now been cherished in the spirit and turned into a beautiful painting, and encourages me to clean myself up, choose better lighting, organize and come up with the best representation of my own image.  For I will tell you this—your mind will be your worst enemy if your spirit isn’t renewing it with a better likeness.  Your mind will remind you of your inadequacies and point out to you how little you know unless it has been rejuvenated to bring to the forefront those things that are good, pure and worthy of praise.

      And then, once my brain has developed a good image of what I want to do, I can use my body and my daily activities in strength, to stream the video around me and ascertain which things are of value to my journey and which ones I wish to reject as being of no particularly good use.  Because if you’re streaming video of the planet earth on any given day and thinking it’s what you’re stuck with, it’s no wonder you might be finding yourself a bit depressed.  The grays, browns, tans and dark greens jump to the forefront unless you allow your mind to colorize the world with brighter possibilities.

      So my emotions are a snapshot of what I’m feeling right now.  My spirit is turning me into Leonardo da Vinci, to paint a masterpiece reflecting the joy of my journey.  My mind is inspired to produce a portrait of myself and the world around me that is purer, cleaner and better-illuminated than what others may see—so when I finally take my body out into the drama of life, to stream the video of what’s going on, I have a better idea on what pieces of what I see will make the cut and what needs to be edited out.

      For Jesus was right: the light of the body is the eye.  And if the eye be evil, the whole body will be full of darkness.  But if you can get a good snapshot, commence a great painting and produce a better portrait of yourself and life around you, the video that comes your way will be pure, singular and rich with potential.

      It’s all up to us.  I think we like it that way—until we have to become involved in our own situation.  So I’m going to work on my snapshot, continue my painting, develop a good portrait and video my life, looking for reasons to believe instead of selecting dark visions of doubt. 

      This is my choice.  What is yours?

Jan of a Thousand Days (Plus Me)

Jan of a Thousand Days—Plus Me (1,261)

September 6, 2011

     Janet Clazzy and I have traveled over the past 1,000 days to 40 states, 509 cities, generating 625 presentations in front of tens of thousands of people.  I wish I could capture one moment and give it to each and every one of you as a gift.

     I have learned so much.  I have grown as a person as I have attained the ability to stand firm in important matters and adapt—even becoming a chameleon when necessary to survive the moments of inconvenience.

     Mostly I am encouraged by my discoveries.  Human beings are not nearly as destitute of spiritual potential and concern for others as religionists might fear.  They are also not as ignorant and bound by tradition as politicians tout.  They are certainly not as gullible as Madison Avenue and corporations choose to present. 

     But I will be candid with you—in the realm of having a vision for what to do next, the populace seems a bit starved of food for thought.  The problem? Without a vision the people perish.

     So I sat down with Janet Clazzy and my wife, Dollie, and suggested that we use the remaining time we have of youthful energy and travel moxie as efficiently as we possibly can. For I will tell you—there are five things that I pretty well know for sure:

1.  Jesus wants his church back.  Somewhere along the line, the intensity of the message of the Master has been hijacked by fads, politics and traditionalism.  Jesus would love to be able to share his parables with eager listeners once again—the goal being to find better ways to be happy and get along with one another.

2.  That same church desperately needs the mind of Jesus—not just his body.  Relegating Christ to a cross may provide eternal salvation, but does not offer much in the realm of relieving earthly weariness.  Fortunately, Christ left behind a great portfolio of truth, for us to peruse and pursue.  Because …

3.  The body of his work is in his life.  After all, that’s what’s true about me.  It’s also what’s true about him.  If you want to discover where the church needs to go, it might be a good idea to look at where Jesus has already gone.  Because arriving in the midst of a divisive Jewish community—where Judean, Samaritan and Galilean NEVER interacted—Jesus succeeded in stitching the factions together.  Boy, could we use that now.

4.  Jesus’ life produces abundance.  His words, you know:  “I have come to give you life and it more abundantly.”  Abundance of experience, abundance of trials that we overcome through our good cheer, abundance of what appears to be minor opportunities which we magnify by multiplying our talents. 

5.  And last but not least, abundance is when we finally learn to mingle ourselves, others, God and nature in the correct proportions, tipping our hats to each and every one and giving place and purpose to the united family.

     This is a season for true revival—and although the word “revival” may conjure visions of chicanery and charlatans, the purity of the concept is simply returning to the simplicity of a faith that actually works in everyday life. 

     I am committing the rest of this year and also 2012—when other people will be debating economics and political hot potatoes—to going to God’s church with a simple declaration to grant us independence: Let us unite and discover the heart of Jesus, the soul of his message and the mind of his philosophy—to give new purpose and energy to all of our brothers and sisters.

      Yes.  Uniting the heart, soul and mind of Jesus with the body of Christ.

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