Attitude: (n) a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or somethingdictionary with letter A

Just last week, my new book, Within, arrived–fully published and ready to go.

When I was holding it in my hands, gently turning the pages in great appreciation, it crossed my mind once again why I wrote it.

I realized that the reason I had penned this particular volume was that I wanted to make the distinction between belief and attitude.

In my journey, I have grown weary of those who have beliefs, yet offer no consolation to either the world around them nor their own sense of well-being.

What difference does it make if you believe in a God who makes you obnoxious?

What possible justification can we have as Americans to preach our gospel of democracy while inequality and racism are still nipping at our heels?

I’m tired of belief. I would rather follow a devil with a smile than a cranky angel.

I’m sorry–that may not be politically correct or spiritually proper. But as I get older, I realize that our time is limited and we should use it wisely.

So when I wrote my book, Within, my goal was to address the attributes, values and the sheer joy that goes into living as a human being–realizing that as I did, I was thrusting to the forefront the beliefs that really matter.

I just don’t think I become a good citizen of Earth by insisting that the world’s about to end.

I don’t think I help folks by criticizing their lifestyle before I benefit their hearts.

I’m tired of belief that offers no relief.

Give me someone who realizes the value of an attitude that is both accepting and challenging, and I will show you a true believer.

If creeds, doctrines, holy books and constitutions are what cause you to find your righteousness, then I must say … perhaps you’re already damned.


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Attire: (n) clothes, especially fine or formal ones.dictionary with letter A

I’ve only owned one house in my life.

It was a big one. The master bedroom had a huge walk-in closet.

Caught up in the vanity of the moment, I felt it was my duty to fill this enclosure with various costumes, clothing choices and attire which I could walk in and choose from daily as “lord of my manor.”

So I purchased garments, and some were given to me as gifts.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that each and every week, I was only wearing about three or four different outfits–repeatedly. The rest of the clothes were dangling from hangers like ugly gargoyles on a medieval castle.

They were fixtures. Matter of fact, some of them collected dust.

In the midst of this comedy of collection, I had a realization.

My mind went back twenty years earlier, when I found myself doing a gig in a small Kentucky town. (I was so grateful for the opportunity to share my talents and to have anyone listen to me that I chose to ignore the fact that the community had fewer than 500 people, and that the building’s foundation was crumbling.)

Arriving at this latest opportunity, I realized I only had two outfits from which to choose. One of them was a powder blue leisure suit which I had worn too often and was certainly a bit grimy. The other outfit was clean, but because I didn’t have a belt, the pants kept sliding down, threatening to disappear, producing disgrace.

So torn between my attire, I first put on the pants without a belt, only to discover that it was very annoying to keep pulling them up. So right before the show began, I slid into a back room and put on my somewhat filthy, powder-blue leisure suit.

In that moment I made a decision about my attire:

Always better to be a little soiled than “unfoiled.”

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Attic: (n) a space or room just below the roof of a building.dictionary with letter A

I grew up in a two-bedroom house with a mother, father and four brothers.

If you’re wondering if the space provided failed to meet the requirements of the number suggested, you would be absolutely right.

So as a young boy, I was always looking for new places to go, which I felt provided me opportunities to escape the common cloister.

First was our garage, which was very tiny–not large enough to hold a car and a lawn mower.

We had a huge back yard, which was very nice, but my father had haphazardly planted trees, which were now growing everywhere, making it somewhat impossible to find any space for an actual playground.

There was one enclosure of solitude: our attic.

To get to this room, you had to pull down a set of wooden stairs in the ceiling of our garage, climb up carefully and wiggle through the tiny hole into a space about twice the size of the interior of a car. Our house was not insulated, so as soon as you got up into that territory, you were either freezing in the winter or boiling in the summer.

I didn’t care. I liked to go up there and look through the stuff.

Then one day I realized that I was not surrounded by treasures, but rather, rejects–items which were no longer found worthy to co-exist with the mortals.

  • Maybe they were outdated.
  • Maybe they were ugly.
  • Maybe they had worn out their usefulness.

But mostly they were abandoned.

Pictures, frames, papers and periodicals, periodically boiling and freezing.

After a while, I got depressed being up there. I had this strange sensation that someone would come, pull up the ladder and close me in, deeming it necessary to have one less person in the house and deciding that I was more suited for the rejects on high.

It spooked me.

I know that Anne Frank once found solace in an attic, but for me it was merely a reminder that when people get tired of things, deciding to hoard, they take them to a place where they’re out of the way … and soon forgotten.


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Attest: (v) declare that something exists or is the case.dictionary with letter A

If I reached into my treasure chest of what I believe and hold dear, and removed everything that wasn’t backed up by my own experience, I would soon find myself with a lot of available room.

One of my steps of maturity in this human journey is realizing that quoting, reciting, insisting, proclaiming, preaching and postulating “just don’t make it so, Joe.”

Honestly, the only time my words are worthy of being heard are when they are accompanied by adequate traveling miles that confirm I have actually taken the trip.

What can I attest to?

  • I can attest to the fact that “an eye for an eye” is completely useless and renders us violent and paranoid.
  • I can attest to the fact that normally when I am kind, gentle and loving to the world around me I get some portion of that coming back my way.
  • I can attest to the fact that judging other people only creates enemies and pisses God off.
  • I can attest to the fact that when I’m given a tiny window to use my talent, my ability is proven to have enough traction to generate an income in my direction.
  • I can attest to the fact that 20 minutes after I eat at Taco Bell, I have to go to the bathroom.

These are my realities.

They are true enough that I could swear on a stack of Bibles, even though honestly, I couldn’t swear on a stack of my realities about everything that’s in the Bible.

It does not mean that I don’t hold many truths to be self-evident, or wish they were realities. It’s just that I can’t attest to them.

And when I try to do so, I end up getting challenged, and either looking like a fool or finding myself stubbornly digging my heels in on glare ice.


Are there a certain number of things we need to believe to be classified as believers?

Or does being able to attest to one thing get you into the club?


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Attenuate: (v) to reduce the force, effect or value of dictionary with letter A

It does plague my thoughts.

Three years ago, my knees, which have always given me a little trouble, basically gave up on the notion of carrying around my weight and allowing me to be a normal “stroller.”

I considered my plight.

I could go to a doctor and check out knee replacements or treatments. Honestly, this would lay me up for several months and take me away from a mission which I feel compelled to pursue with, may I say, some sense of urgency.

So although I’m still able to get around to some degree, for any distance I utilize a wheel chair.

This was difficult for me. All my life I’ve been busy, active, traveling around the country sharing my talents. I didn’t like the sensation of being weak.

But worse than my feelings about the issue was my fear that I was limiting my impact because of the visual of my impairment. It bothered the hell out of me, and honestly, to some degree still does.

When do we cease to be powerful, disappointing in our delivery?

In other words, am I asking people to look past my fragility to accept my viability?

For after all, politics is attenuated by lies, religion is attenuated by intolerance and youthfulness is attenuated by foolishness.

When are we diluting ourselves, and therefore ending up deluded?

I’m not sure.

But as the weeks passed, I realized that in a strange sense, people admired me for continuing through the struggle.

Honestly, it’s not that big a deal.

But as long as it doesn’t attenuate my heart and soul … I guess I’ll just keep rolling along.


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Attention: (n) notice taken of someone or something dictionary with letter A

After a handful of decades of public speaking, I will tell you that human beings are not interested unless they’re interested.

That may sound silly, but if you stop to think about it, all of us are inundated with information which has little use to us in the moment. But we are challenged to believe that someday, at some place, it will become valuable.

So unfortunately, this puts us all in a conformity of boredom, feeling mature by enduring speeches instead of enjoying the now.

Here’s what I think about attention. It goes really well with two ideas:

  • Attention to detail
  • Attention span

I think these go together as a pair.

If I go into a lot of detail and lose the attention span of my audience, then no matter how righteous I feel in sharing my data, it is absolutely worthless because no one’s listening.

On the other hand, if I take some time and find out what really does interest people and put it in the context of what will actually help them, then I can use my attention to detail effectively.

People may have a limited interest in government, but they really want it to work and not interfere.

Folks may want to go to heaven, but nobody’s in a big hurry to get there.

And people are only interested in following instructions when it means they can put together something that will be fun.

I think we’re in danger of hating humanity because they’re so human instead of studying humanity and loving them for being human.

My attention is held by what seems to be pleasurable. If I can make love, generosity, tenderness and creativity a pleasant experience, then I have brought a great gift to my generation.


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Attend: (v) to be present at an event, meeting or functiondictionary with letter A


I know they are initials for some French phrase. I could probably pronounce the words, but wouldn’t have the first idea of how to put them in writing. Basically, it means “please let us know if you’re going to attend.”

I was thinking this morning, as I got up early out of my bed to begin the day, how God produces a daily sunrise as an invitation to attend.

What could be more inviting than bringing light to where there was darkness?

What could be more enticing than a big ball of sunshine beaming across the horizon into your home?

And then, it remains throughout the day–until, as dusk arrives–it sets, welcoming the cool of the evening with a promise of “we’ll try again tomorrow.”

  • I suppose you could curse the morning.
  • Certainly you can “hope” your way through one day, looking forward to another.
  • Perhaps it’s human to take the whole process for granted.

But for me, I just believe the Great Party Giver in the sky uses the daily sun rising as His invitation to come and see, come and enjoy… come and attend.


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Attempt: (v) to make an effort to achieve or complete something, typically a difficult task or action.dictionary with letter A

In a recent article by a young blogger, I read his assessment of what he considered to be the summary of life.

He stated that on each of our tombstones should be carved one of two words: success or failure.

He contended that the determination of that inscription was totally our decision.

The wonderful thing about being young is that you have many years to correct your dumb assertions.

There are many things that can be our final epitaph–not just the issue of success or failure. And honestly, much of the success or failure we experience is based upon what the market will endure.

Are people ready to hear? Are people prepared to change? Because the failure of one crusader in his time becomes the common knowledge of the next generation.

So here’s what could be written on my tombstone–preferably in crayon.


  • I attempted to play football, and was quite good until laziness took over.
  • I attempted to be a good father considering the fact that I was more suited to a Bohemian lifestyle.
  • I attempted to take my talent and use it to benefit human beings.
  • I attempted to be a good lover, though sometimes I felt I lacked the necessary equipment and opportunities.
  • I attempted to be solvent, bouncing between abasing and abounding.
  • I attempted to evolve my thinking in a day and age when getting older is equated with stubbornness.
  • I attempted to lose weight and so far have only succeeded in preventing myself from ballooning to circus proportions.
  • I attempted to travel the country from town-to-town with a Johnny Appleseed approach for my message.
  • I attempted to be a generous human being, reaching into my often-meager pot to distribute my goods
  • I attempted to stop lying because it was my reasonable service.

I attempted.

Success is over-rated because it is often determined by others who desert the ship when there’s a “new skipper in town.” And of course, failure can often be just a lack of ears to hear.

I am an attempter.

I am proud of it.

It fulfills me.

I need no other praise than the confidence that sweeps my soul when I have completed that which I have been challenged–by myself–to do.


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Attain: (v) to succeed in achieving something that one desires and has worked for.dictionary with letter A

About two decades ago, everyone in America was persistent on finding out what my 5-year goal plan was. What did I want to attain?

Matter of fact, it reached almost cult proportions. People felt it was essential to have a vision for one’s life that spanned the next 5 years.

Honestly, I was greatly amused by the concept.

Considering the fact that I was fully aware that what would happen to me in the next 5 months, 5 weeks, 5 days and even 5 minutes was somewhat beyond my control, I found it a bit foolish to presumptuously plan 60 months in advance.

Yet in that time period, I was considered odd–perhaps irresponsible to not mix the Kool-Aid.

There were three things that happened to those individuals who followed the “strait and narrow” of the 5-year goal plan:

  1. Life immediately objected to their format.

(Apparently they didn’t include life in the meeting to draft the proposal, and life was rather gleeful about dashing their dreams.)

  1. 5-year goal plans often contradict other 5-year goal plans, creating conflict and confusion.

Yes, what I want to accomplish in 5 years may rob you of a couple of years of satisfaction.

  1. Those who persisted in this philosophy also found they had to make a choice: do I evolve with life, or do I dig my heels in and insist on requiring my demands?

It was messy business, and I will tell you that fortunately, only a small handful of ardent followers still remain.

But if you run across one, and he or she asks you what your 5-year goal plan is, respond this way:

“I plan on taking the next 5 years to feverishly work on my 10-year goal plan.”

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Attack: (n) an aggressive and violent action against a person or placedictionary with letter A

Several weeks ago I had an overwhelming sensation creep into my soul and for a brief period of time, render me baffled and helpless. Perhaps I’ve overstated the sensation, but it was certainly an eye-opening experience.

I was watching a special on Nazi Germany. I like history shows so it drew my attention. But for some reason, the layout of this broadcast took me deeply into the mind and circumstances of Adolph.

For a very brief moment, I absorbed the sensation of power that surged through his veins from 1938 through 1940, when he dominated the world by attacking all of his enemies, and for that two years, made himself appear invincible.

I thought about the parties, the victory celebrations, the awarding of medals, the touting of “the super race” and all of the bravado that went into creating the Third Reich.

He worked on a simple principle: if I can attack and win, it proves that I’m right.

As I watched the documentary, I also felt what it might have been like when this all began to unravel, and the attacker became the attacked–until he finally found himself in a cramped bunker beneath his holy city of Berlin, surrounded by his enemies, forced to either surrender or take his own life.

It made me wonder why the premise of “attack or be attacked” is still so prevalent in our society. For after all, is there any conqueror who did not end up destitute, denied power, and usually assassinated or self-destructive?

How does the “attack mentality” continue to gain support, when all of its advocates are proven to be foolhardy, buried in inglorious graves?

I don’t get it.

This is what I know: if you attack, you will be attacked.

Granted, not attacking does not guarantee you a free pass … but the karma associated with aggressively attempting to dominate another person always circles back to destroy you.


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