Two Busy People… March 5, 2013

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black vanOn Mondays, I stop being Batman.

Well, actually, I’m never Batman, but I do use Monday mornings to leave my cave, buy a box of cereal and wash out my super-underwear. I guess what I become is “Bitman“–a bit of this and a bit of that.

Yesterday was no exception. Well, there was ONE unique aspect to it. We were running just a little bit later than usual and had a deadline of 11:30 A. M. for Janet to do a radio interview. So perhaps there was a bit more “hurry” in our steps.

We had finished all of our activities and were heading back to our lodging, deeply engrossed in conversation, feeling pretty good about our progress and enjoying a sunshine-filled day in Houston, Texas. Cruising through a green light at about forty miles per hour, I suddenly viewed a pickup truck, making a right turn on red, completely and totally oblivious to my presence.

Even though it all happened in a split second, I could see inside his cab and realize that he was turned to his right, involved in an animated conversation with a woman next to him. I had no time to think–no time to slam on the brakes. I had to rely completely on reflexes.

But the problem is, reflexes are often hampered by exhaustion, exasperation or especially, the sense of being busy or in a hurry. I took a quick peek in my left mirror and saw that God had granted me a free lane. I swerved into it, barely missing the truck and scooting by him in a breath of time–on down the road.

I do not know if he ever saw me. He obviously was in a hurry and had forgotten to take note of oncoming traffic.He was seconds from being plowed into by a three-ton black van. The situation was out of his control, and his life and vehicle, for that moment, were placed in my hands.

I didn’t honk at him. I didn’t shake my fist. I didn’t stop and ask him why he was so careless. I rolled on.

I was so grateful that I was not on my way to a hospital and thankful that I did not have to call insurance agent and talk about repairs. Mostly, I was glad that God has granted me the serenity and teeny-weeny bit of wisdom to know three important things:

1. Find out what you can do and relax in it. I don’t know why people worry. You can’t do more than you can do anyway, can you?

2. While you’re doing it, stay focused on what you’re doing. Multi-tasking is a great way to plan your own defeat.

3. If you’ve got an extra moment, watch out for the other guy. Maybe he hasn’t learned the first two points. Maybe he deserves a break. Maybe next time … it’ll be you.

So in this world where we all think we’re so busy, let us temporarily escape the mantra of reciting our crowded schedule and remember these three points. It’s so much more relieving.
Actually, it’s a great way to remain accident-free.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Dissatisfaction… October 7, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

The unknown.People who believe they understand the unknown are plagued with the curse of arrogance instead of blessed with the abundance of faith. For after all, faith gently permits hope but fiercely avoids certainty. It is what causes us to be faithful instead of self-assured.

I have many unknowns. I occasionally will awaken with a pain–and at my age, the mind races towards more dismal possibilities. If I take a moment to regain my sanity, I can laugh at my own jumping to conclusions and merely move on, realizing that most discomfort is temporary.

I don’t like to join into conversations about heaven–not because I lack a desire to go there or because I am secretly agnostic about its existence. It’s just that when I hear folks trumpet their testimony and support for the supernal, it rings of a bit of insincerity and maybe even hidden anxiety about the presence of eternity. Yes, it’s true–often the louder we talk, the less we truly believe.

Again–the unknown.

For instance, I don’t know what you’re going to do next. I neither control it nor do I particularly affect it. Anticipation is what we do when we have decided what people should be pursuing, audaciously making out a “things to do today” list for them and become quite disappointed when they wad it up and throw it away. Most arguments between friends are not based upon an actual occurrence, but rather, a general feeling of disapproval over the failure of one person to comply with the other person’s demands.

I heard someone once say that there’s a “world of the unknown” out there. Actually that’s not true. The world is something that we CAN understand–we are able to discern the face of the sky and pretty well forecast what will fall from above. But strangely enough, we often become the most pompous about the things that are NOT of this world, and fuss with those who disagree with our conclusions. For instance, those of the Hindu faith would be greatly disappointed if they discovered they were not returning to earth again in some new incarnation. On the other hand, most Christians would be very surprised if they came back as a fox instead of walking streets of gold.

So we stomp, argue and insist. But no one really knows. No matter how much you try to point to testimonials of those who claim to have come back from the dead, the fact of the matter is, they always tend to share a rendition of what they saw in the afterlife that is very similar to what they were taught here. We know that can’t be true. The Bible says that “eye hath not seen nor ear heard” what God has prepared for those who believe in Him. So if it ends up being an exact replica of what has already been written, it certainly would smack of the mediocre.

There are so many unknowns. What will be the next virus to invade our world? Will Iran and Israel make peace, or continue to throw rocks at each other over a poorly constructed fence?

This subject came to my attention the other day when I was backing out of a parking lot in my van, and in my blind spot was a pick-up truck which was perched behind me–double parked and awaiting another available space. Honestly, I did not see the truck, so as I backed up, there was a long blast from his horn. I quickly stopped.

I didn’t think anything more about it, until I began to leave the parking lot and an older gentleman stepped in front of my van. He was angry. I glanced over and realized that he was the owner of the pick-up truck which had just honked. He demanded that I roll down my window. So I did, and with a red-jowled, angry face, he challenged my driving skills and wondered “what the hell I was trying to do.”

I was not expecting this. I did not know why he was so angry. But you see, I had been spending some time with myself, which is the most important “known” factor you can actually deal with in life. In the past, I would have been angry that HE was angry and we would have exchanged an unfulfilling conversation ending in rage. He explained to me the obvious, which was that I almost backed into him.

I replied, “I’m so glad you were paying attention. We needed ONE of us to! Thank you for doing that.”

He was completely disarmed. I don’t know what he wanted; I don’t know what he envisioned. His motivations are completely unknown to me. Therefore, honestly, I don’t care. Maybe he had a bad morning. Maybe he just came from the doctor’s office and was diagnosed with cancer. Maybe his wife burned his eggs and for the forty-fifth time this year he had to eat them without saying a word. I have no idea and once again–it doesn’t make any difference.

Because I will tell you truthfully–there are only two knowns that I make my concern: my space, my face.

After all, if there ends up being no God and just a grave, I will only be remembered for how I handled my space and what disposition I selected to display on my face.

I can’t control your space and when I do, I am always made to look foolish, and liberty wins the day and curses my interference.

I certainly have no authority over your face and if I suggest that you may be offering a disconsolate countenance to the world around you, you will not only consider that an intrusion, but actually may deepen the furrows on your brow.

After all the unknowns are set aside and placed intelligently into the hands of more divine ability, I am left with my space and my face.

I surprised myself a little bit when I had this encounter with the frustrated gentleman in the parking lot. I was amazed that I felt no wrath or desire to hurt him. I just wanted to move on.  I wanted to quickly admit that I was unable to see him, he did a good thing–and because of that, we were not exchanging the numbers of our insurance companies.

My space. My face.

Here’s what I do know:

My space is peace. I will not fight with you. I will not try to hurt you. I will not try to impart anything to you that hasn’t been tested and proven in my own soul to be beneficial. Then, when I do share it, I will do so as an offering instead of a demand.

My face is joy. Joy is a resolute happiness that continues in a desired path, even when others have abandoned it for the latest craze.

You may continue to debate the unknown and contend that you have some sort of authority over things beyond your fingertips. I would rather indulge in the power of dissatisfaction about the supernatural and instead, take care of my space and my face.

And in case you didn’t hear me the first time, and for all my lifetime to come:

May it be clear to one and all–my space is peace and my face is joy.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

“My God-given American right…” July 3, 2012

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I read it off a bumper sticker on the back of a puke-green, mud-splattered pick-up truck. So you know it has to be true. Yes, I am back in Dixie, where all chicken is fried, all biscuits are covered with gravy and all truths are simple.

I love the south–at least, many things about it. There is a quiet hospitality available at the root of its motivation. But I’ve always been uncomfortable with any group of people who too closely mingle God and country. Historically, it’s proven to be a nasty mixture–whether it was the Roman Empire trying to make Caesar divine, or Hitler manifesting a super-race. Whenever nationalism and spirituality tango, the result is a tangled mess.

But the bumper sticker did get me thinking. Are there any “God-given, American rights?” Are there any standards, beliefs and guarantees granted to each of us simply because we were created by God and born in the United States?

I came up with a list of seven. I believe that if you listen to them carefully and follow them fervently, you will discover that a universal unction of benefit will be provided your way. They don’t really have much to do with our Bill of Rights, which tends to create more debate than progress, but rather, are the careful blending of the heart of God with the will of our nation.

1. You have the God-given American right to get as much liberty as you’re willing to give. Liberty is a slippery slope. You are completely free to seek it–as long as you’re willing to grant it to others. The minute you limit the possibility of another citizen, that measure will be measured back to you.

2. You have the God-given American right to prosper as you work and multiply your talents. There is no reason to believe that laziness or a sense of entitlement will provide for your common needs. There is also no scenario where continuing to do the same things repetitively will increase your coffers. You must work, keeping an eye on ways to expand.

3. You have a God-given American right to be loved exactly at the level with which you love. The minute we begin to believe that certain people are attractive, colorized correctly or financially solvent enough to receive more attention, our whole system of government and belief fall apart.

4. You have the God-given American right to be given to–at the rate you give. One of the “rules of the jungle” in human behavior is the precept that selfish people eventually get starved out. We tend to give to people who give. At first it may not seem that way. There may be the deceptive appearance that greedy people actually achieve success more quickly. But that’s only because those who are plotting revenge against them need time to perfect their plan.

5. You have the God-given American right to receive blessing if you’re willing to survive hassle. Blessing is not a portion provided for those who whine, complain or pout. Blessing is built into the natural order, to be the prize given to those individuals who stop resisting change, find a way to conquer the hassles that come along and introduce inventive ideas.

6. You have the God-given American right to be included as long as you believe that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” Even though the principle is a bit simplistic, and I suppose, deemed arguable by disagreeable people, any other approach creates too many prejudices that shut the door to others–thus eventually shutting the door to ourselves.

7. And finally, you have the God-given American right to respect your heavenly Father, honor Mother Earth, and live at peace with your sisters and brothers. Fussy children spend most of their available hours in “time out.” Yes, life has time out. When you’re not willing to give place to God, honor to Mother Earth and respect to your brothers and sisters, you will spend a lot of your earth journey missing out on opportunity, eating your peas and carrots without dessert.

So there you go. On this day before the 236th birthday of our country, you have my particular list of our God-given American rights. Forgive me if I left out some favorites–like brattiness, indifference, provincialism, regionalism, nationalism, political parties or religious intolerance. The truth is, certain trends may be given a podium and an ear for a season, but history tells us that they eventually will be snuffed out by the desire of the people and the intelligent will of God.

So take heart. Receiving our God-given American rights takes a little more than dropping a buck on the desk at a convenience store and picking up a bumper sticker and slapping it on the back of your favorite ride. It means being prepared to give everybody else what you want.

It means being human … and allowing others to do the same.

   

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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