This Time Last Week–November 7, 2011


This time last week I had not situated myself in Columbia, South Carolina, since I was there nearly thirty years ago, with a broken-down airport limousine which desperately needed repair, and I was befriended by the good graces of a couple of fine souls whom I came in contact with through the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International. Quite a story. Another time.

This time last week I had not yet met Rebecca—one of my sponsors—a delightful lady who brought out similar patronage to a concert in the Columbia community, where we all relished one another’s company.

This time last week I had not yet enjoyed the indoor swimming pool at my motel, which was warm enough to the touch but sat inside a room that was chilly enough that you were anxious to get down to business.

This time last week I had not yet met Sweet Sue from Summerville, who was so sincerely super.

This time last week I had not yet conversed with Big B, who had taken a severe hit in a football game, which created a bleed on his brain, which not only has temporarily benched him, but nearly took him off the planet in entirety. He told me the greatest thing he learned through the experience was the power of knowing that people love you—and making sure you tell them the same as often as possible.

Yes, this time last week, I had not yet met Lowry, from Prosperity—even though the town was once called Frog’s Level until the city council decided that the Chamber of Commerce might be having a little difficulty advertising the concept. 

And yes, this time last week, Chuck was still alive.

This time last week I had not yet edited and reviewed my script for my musical, Mountain, which, if you’ll allow me a bit of pride, was quite a delight to do.

This time last week I had not yet completed my stay in South Carolina, which consisted of three intensely fascinating weeks of meeting salt-of-the-earth people who are very anxious to spice up the dish.

This time last week I did not have the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Diane, who has been diagnosed with cancer and has made a wise decision to prepare for a healing instead of a demise. I hope you don’t mind—I told her that for the next week that all of us would get together and pray for her better parts to win out.

This time last week I was twelve ounces heavier.  Sure pays to take off your underwear and socks before you get on the scale.

This time last week my son, Jerrod, finished writing a script for his church’s Christmas production, which was summarily panned by spiritual Bolsheviks, but to his credit, rather than becoming bitter, he just passed it along to less disgruntled disciples.

This time last week I was not yet blessed to meet a man who sat in a chair as we agreed in prayer that he would listen to the better voices in his spirit, to make sweeter choices for his destiny.

And this time last week I was not yet the beneficiary of an enriching phone conversation with a woman from Georgia who was struggling with some powers that be, in an attempt to be as powerful as God intended her from her inception.  Sweet time.

This time last week I had not yet encountered a delightful woman who was retired from school teaching, where she instructed middle school students in music and all sorts of knowledgeable arts—students at the brink of either hatching great lives or marring their journeys. She was young and vibrant and still full of the energy to use her talents and love the people around her.

This time last week I didn’t realize I was going to get to eat a daily breakfast at my motel that included sausage, eggs and gravy. Although I was temperate, it may explain why I was only able to shed the twelve ounces.

This time last week, we had a great notion to put together a Christmas show that we will perform from November 27th to December 23rd, sharing with good folks of Georgia and Florida. Now I am happy to tell you that it is not only a conception but a fully birthed project.  So Jingle Bells to you.

This time last week my son had just found out that his drum line which he directs won an award for being the best in the state finals. He was thrilled with his accomplishment and proud of his students. Don’t you know, dear souls, it is so much easier to be humble when you know God has blessed you and you’ve done your very best?

This time last week some of the trees were still green but now they’ve decided to add their color to the world. Of course, changing color means they eventually will turn brown and fall to the earth.  As will we.

This time last week I was looking for a place to spend Thanksgiving with my family so we could all crash in together from all over the globe and find a place to blend gluttony with gratitude. I’m pleased to announce that I have made the acquaintance of a poetess from Hermitage,Tennessee, who has graciously rented me her home for the occasion.

This time last week I was seven days younger but not a bit prettier.

This time last week …

There’s a whole lot of living, folks, that goes on if you just stop fighting it and allow it to occur-0-and  when you actually see the band wagon coming through town, jump on it instead of out of the way. They tell me that some day I may get to go to heaven.  But if you don’t mind me saying so, I think God’s going to have to do a lot of magnificent planning to outdo what He’s already created here.

Because this time last week I was a happy fellow…and seven days with my Creator has only served to reinforce my position.


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

Good Luck, Chuck–November 6, 2011


I met him once about two years ago for just a brief encounter, so I was stunned when my son, Jerrod, called me and told me that he had passed away from complications due to surgery over a leg injury. He was a little younger than me–vibrant and alive–and even now it is difficult to imagine him in repose.

I meet lots of people. Candidly, I don’t remember most of them because they really don’t desire to be remembered by me. They fail to do the things human beings must do in order to be recalled.

Not so with Chuck. Chuck did do the three things necessary to impact another fellow-traveler and leave  a lasting imprint.

First, he was kind to me. Kindness may be the most underrated virtue available in the arsenal of interaction, people-to-people. What is kindness? Kindness is when we admit that we know what human beings need because we are one and instead of withholding that blessing from another individual out of suspicion or caution, we freely give that which we have freely received from God. Chuck greeted me warmly, he embraced me and he smiled. In that moment, he did not know for sure whether I was saint or sinner, blessed or defiled or of any advantage to him one way or another. He met me, realized that I liked “me,” and decided to be kind to that me. My dear friends, that is huge. Kindness is never wasted, even when it’s bestowed upon those who are less-than-worthy. But he didn’t stop there.

Secondly, he was interested in “my self.” What I mean is, he realized I was a traveler passing through his community and he wanted to make sure that my basic needs, concerns and feelings were taken into consideration. He asked me what kind of food I liked because he was going to suggest a restaurant. He asked if I was comfortable in my lodging, knowing that rest is a good portion of success. In his maturity, he realized that I had a “self,” and rather than ignoring it, he reached out to minister to it. He established that he was as interested in my “self” as I was–or at least willing to participate in my needful concerns about it.

And third, he was involved with “mine.” Even though he, himself, was a musician and worship leader in a fairly large church, he sat quietly and listened to our sound check, admiring our capabilities and commenting on the material. Every creative being wants to hear comment on both color and content. It’s just the way we are. Some people may call it flattery. Others may insist that they do not compliment effort because God should receive the glory. But it is not up to you or me to decide such matters. We are to praise the hands that have prepared the benefit–and leave it to them to give the glory to God.

He was a smart man, this Chuck. The kingdom of God is diminished by losing such fellows, because even though he was employed in the midst of more Neanderthal individuals in a field that often ignores the personal in favor of the eternal, he had discovered the magic of ministry, which is very simple: human beings need human contact to actually believe there’s a God.

Even though I only met Chuck once, I will miss him. I will miss a great human spirit who was kind to me, interested in “my self” and involved in “mine.” It is the essence of divine magic.

So on this Sunday morning, I say, “Good luck, Chuck.”

I am not trying to trivialize his journey, but rather, give a very human farewell to one who is now an eternal traveler. I will try to do him justice by taking the people I meet and with each and every one, be kind to their “me,” interested in their “my self,” and involved in all they consider to be their “mine.”

It was learned at the Master’s feet, where my friend, Chuck, now has now received the blessing of abiding.


Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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