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JOE’S NOTEBOOK: Richard Branson & His Notebooks

From an interview in the Wall Street Journal, 5.24.21 —

What’s your most useful work habit?


If I have a meeting with people, I’ll take notes. If I’m traveling on a Virgin plane, I’ll take notes. I’ll listen to the staff, to the customers.

If you’re not taking notes, I think it’s offensive.

A staff member will give you an idea or tell you a frustration or make a suggestion for improvement, and they will know straight away that if you don’t write it down, you’re not going to deal with it. 

I’ve taken notes on all the fun things my grandchildren and children have said. Looking back on them, if you’ve got an 18th or a 21st birthday party for your children, it’s wonderful how one can embarrass them with some of the things they’ve said in the past. One of my favorites is, when Joan and I got married on Necker Island, when Sam was four and Holly was seven, friends of ours in front of Sam said that they were getting married. This was the day after the wedding, and Sam turned to them and said, “You can’t be getting married, you haven’t had children yet!”

If you don’t write it down, you’re not going to remember it.

Because You Are

Someone out there feels better because you exist.

St. Paul put it this way:

Every time I think of you,

I thank God for you.

—- Philippians 1:3

Remember that today.


The beautiful thing about life is that you can always change, grow, and get better. You are not defined by your past. You are not your mistakes.

“Even God Can’t” — part 5 of 5.

Who you trying to impress?

Whose attention you want?

Who you trying to please?

Who you trying to fix in the process?

Ima gonna get outa the way —

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – – – and less, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”

—- Yup. Christ Jesus. Matthew 7:1-5.

Good way to start pleasing God = how we treat the people in our lives.

Maybe, just maybe, in the process you’ll find you’re pleasing them.

And maybe, again just maybe, in the process you’ll find you’re pleasing yourself.

Wanna find out?

JOE’S NOTEBOOK: Now & In a Year

Look around you. Appreciate what you have. Nothing will be the same in a year.

“Even God Can’t” —- part 4

Please everyone? The Sunday School Scholar in David Oliver Kueker‘s story was clear.

Please other people? Ricky Neslon‘s song was clear about that.

Please yourself? The Old Testament book of Judges was clear about that.

Let’s get a strong whiff of what St. Paul advises —

Freedom with Responsibility

The question keeps coming up regarding meat that has been offered up to an idol: Should you attend meals where such meat is served, or not? We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.

Some people say, quite rightly, that idols have no actual existence, that there’s nothing to them, that there is no God other than our one God, that no matter how many of these so-called gods are named and worshiped they still don’t add up to anything but a tall story. They say—again, quite rightly—that there is only one God the Father, that everything comes from him, and that he wants us to live for him. Also, they say that there is only one Master—Jesus the Messiah—and that everything is for his sake, including us. Yes. It’s true.

In strict logic, then, nothing happened to the meat when it was offered up to an idol. It’s just like any other meat. I know that, and you know that. But knowing isn’t everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings. Real knowledge isn’t that insensitive. We need to be sensitive to the fact that we’re not all at the same level of understanding in this. Some of you have spent your entire lives eating “idol meat,” and are sure that there’s something bad in the meat that then becomes something bad inside of you. An imagination and conscience shaped under those conditions isn’t going to change overnight.

But fortunately God doesn’t grade us on our diet. We’re neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can’t stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.

For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, someone who looks up to you as knowledgeable and mature, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong.

Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn’t worth it at the cost of even one of these “weak ones.” So, never go to these idol-tainted meals if there’s any chance it will trip up one of your brothers or sisters.

— That’s what he wrote in 1st Corinthians 8:1-13 to some friends about what to do regarding COVID-19, and — oh no, wait, that’s not what it was.


Let’s hear from one more source.

See you back here tomorrow for that.


If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.

“Even God Can’t”— part 3

Long before David Oliver Keuker or Ricky Nelson came along, there was this —

In those days there was no king in Israel;

everyone did whatever seemed right to themselves.

—- Judges 21:25

— Some would say that’s a painfully accurate assessment of where we are today.

Sit with me.

Let that all simmer for a while.

I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

JOE’S NOTEBOOK: Imprisoned Ourselves?

How many of us have imprisoned ourselves inside the walls of anger and bitterness? — Nelson Mandela

“Even God Can’t” — part 2

Ricky Nelson (yes, THAT Ricky Nelson from that tv show etc) sang several decades ago about trying to please everyone —

I went to a garden party
To reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories
And play our songs again

When I got to the garden party
They all knew my name
But no one recognized me
I didn’t look the same

But it’s all right now
I learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone
So you got to please yourself

People came from miles around
Everyone was there
Yoko brought her walrus
There was magic in the air

And over in the corner
Much to my surprise
Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes
Wearing his disguise

But it’s all right now
I learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone
So you got to please yourself

I played them all the old songs
I thought that’s why they came
No one heard the music
We didn’t look the same

I said hello to “Mary Lou”
She belongs to me
When I sang a song about a honky-tonk
It was time to leave

But it’s all right now
I learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone
So you got to please yourself

Someone opened up a closet door
And out stepped Johnny B. Goode
Playing guitar like a ringing a bell
And lookin’ like he should

If you gotta play at garden parties
I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang
I’d rather drive a truck

But it’s all right now
I learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone
So you got to please yourself

And it’s all right now, yeah
Learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone
So you got to please yourself

Like him, you and I sometimes find ourselves not meeting others’ expectations of us.

Let’s pick up right there tomorrow.


Celebrating Son LJ4 Today

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad! —- Psalm 126:3

Who/What gets some of your celebration today?