But Not Now … January 22, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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jigsaw puzzle

On Monday our nation commemorated the life, mission and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., while continuing to be racially, culturally and emotionally disconnected, scattered like a 1001-piece jigsaw puzzle.

The reason? We avoid solutions by replacing them with discussions.

I wish I could tell you that merely conversing on a given subject brings about change but actually, it’s a way to dodge the impact of transforming ourselves into truth by merely debating the particulars.

colored water fountainsIn 1959 in the United States, the average white person would tell you that equality for the black man was inevitable. Most did not contend that segregation was ideal–merely practical. And the reason they found it to be so useful was that the alternatives that came to the forefront were so frightening that it seemed better to cling to something that was incomplete and unfulfilling. In other words, “black Americans should be equal. But not now.”

It continues today.executive woman

Women should be equal and have a pay scale identical to that of a man, but not now. “We need more studies by learned experts before we take such a drastic step.”

It is obvious that the minimum wage is not sufficient for a human to be able to live, eat and prosper, and something will have to be done. But not now. It could wreck the economy by forcing small business to incur expenses they are not prepared to undertake.

homelessSomething should be done for the homeless and disenfranchised in this country–to put them to work or offer alternatives to their present condition. But not now. It is much easier to have an argument over whether their condition is caused by lack of opportunity or by laziness.

It is historically demonstrated that the gays in our society will be required to have complete equivalence with everyone else if we want to maintain the integrity of our concept of liberty and justice for all. But not now. What we want them to do is acquire moral acceptance before they are granted civil rights.

Obviously, the political gridlock in our country initiated a two-party system that gains power by maintaining power, and that we would be better off if this two-faced monster were beheaded, and many more candidates were offered to the electorate. But not now. Too disruptive to consider many alternatives for leadership from different parties.two-party system

Likewise, the electoral college is antiquated and needs to be replaced with the popular vote which determines elections. But not now. What would we do with all the people who have been assigned positions and the folks who make their livelihood by honoring its cumbersome inner workings?

You understand, it is not that we lack the intelligence, or even the integrity to know what to do. Instead, we are stalled in a lethargic fear of change when it comes in any of its forms.

You will know that you have become a mature human being when what is truthful is more important to you than what is convenient.

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Testing the Repair … September 6, 2012

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Confusion is a bad thing. It tends to make us frustrated and lazy. It should be avoided. But how can you avoid confusion without either developing some sort of “pie in they sky” philosophy, or walking around so disgruntled that you put the entire human community on edge?

Here’s what I do–I relate everything to me. I know that may sound arrogant, so let me qualify. I try to envision any situation in the world around me and compare it to something about me or something I’ve experienced.

So when people talk about education, I pursue learning and personal instruction in matters that will enlighten me and make my choices more informed. When people talk about food and healthy selections, I go to the grocery store and look around for things that fall within the spectrum of what is considered to be nourishing, and from those particular possibilities I grab my personal favorites to form my diet. When people talk about God, I envision a father much like myself, who through trial and error is trying to do the best for his children in instructing them while continuing to love them at all times.

So when they talk to me about politics and business, I don’t let my head spin with a bunch of statistics being offered by both Republicans and Democrats, who are promoting their cause and agenda. Instead, I like to take the situation happening in our economy and apply it to my own life–thereby getting a deeper understanding. Let me hush up with the explanation and give you an example.

I told you earlier in the week that I was “leaky”–that is, my radiator. Well, it turns out it needed to be replaced. Now, I don’t know much about radiators, so I contacted some friends and asked their opinions. You might call them my “advisors.” I got four different outlooks on the issue.

One friend insisted that I needed to take it to a dealership because they were the only ones who completely understood my vehicle, and I shouldn’t enlist some local repair shop, even if it cost me more to go to the big guy.

Another of my counselors asked me if the van was presently leaking. I explained that some friends in South Lyon had put some Stop Leak in it and that it was not dripping any fluid at all. He just laughed and said some variation of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  I think it was, “If it don’t leak, don’t plug it.”

A third friend I conferred with said I should go out and get it welded, or sautered, or whatever they do–get it repaired. It would be cheaper. For after all, he said, there was no need to throw away ninety per cent of a good radiator just because ten per cent was being fussy.

And the final person I spoke to thought I should go to a junk yard, find an old van and remove the radiator from that vehicle and place it into my transportation–because it would be cheaper, even though I would have to put on my rummaging shoes.

Please understand, I took all four perspectives into account. Each one of them was pretty sure he was giving me superb advice. I suppose I could have taken each particular maneuver, applied it and achieved some level of success. Instead, I pursued a fifth option.

I found a reputable repair shop and had them put on a new radiator. It was expensive. I realized if I paid all that money for the radiator and it ended up not working very well or something else broke down in the next few weeks, I would be compiling great financial turmoil for myself and probably end up looking pretty stupid.

Bold maneuvers always put you on top of a mountain, where it’s hard to escape being peered at by the congregation below. So if I bought this radiator and it went well, within a few weeks I would be so happy that I was cruising along without fear of my Stop Leak giving up its “stop,” or my junkyard radiator being junk, or my repaired water holder being irreparable, or paying even more by having the reassurance of a dealership.

I had to risk looking stupid to give myself a new, fresh opportunity. Even as I drive down the road today, heading towards Indiana from Michigan, I am not out of the woods. Every mile is a test-drive of my decision on how to repair my van.

The holes in the radiator were not my fauilt.I don’t feel guilty that the problem came up. I don’t feel responsible that it occurred “on my watch” instead of the time-clock of the former owner. I just want to make sure that I give myself the best chance to resolve the situation, even though my wallet took a hit and I put myself in a vulnerable position, where if something else goes wrong, I might just end up looking stupid. Remember–“smart” is often “stupid” which survived the trial. Do you see my point?

I think the same thing is true in our country. The last thing in the world we need in the US of America right now is an election. What we really require is a revival of common sense.

We need our teachers to instruct in subjects that will prepare the students for a real-life situation in this twenty-first-century global economy.

We need corporations to stop sitting on profit margins, contriving new bonuses, but instead, taking the good old-fashioned capitalist risk of venturing into new schemes which will require more employees.

We need politicians to stop campaigning and start considering ways to make ideas functional, even though often when you implement them they may seem scary at first because you do not know if they will actually take care of the repair.

And we need ministers and spiritual people in this country to stop plugging religion and give us the impetus and motivation to believe that “NoOne is better than anyone else” and that we are the only “we” that is available at this time in this season for this situation.

What do I think about America? I think we decided to do something four years ago, as a nation, by a majority, and now we’ve got a little “buyer’s remorse.” As I drive along today, I am hoping that my choice on how to repair my van is going to hold up and work. Any good American should be feeling the same way about the choices we’ve made to repair this country and its economy. It doesn’t mean other things won’t come up. It doesn’t mean we won’t need each other for further counsel–to tweak the solution. It just means that sometimes, all you can do is choose the best you can and then work with your best guess.

I do not condone either party or support either candidate. I know this–as in the case of the radiator on my van, every choice I made had its good points and bad points. I made a choice. Yes, I gave my van a stimulus program. We’ll see if it works. And if it doesn’t, I’m going to need those friends who gave me their input, to help me find a way to reclaim a new solution. And if it does work, I need to humbly bow my head in prayer and thank my Father for being merciful to this child.

It’s time for Americans to stop fighting. Hang in there with each other; make some subtle changes–but test out the repair. It took us eight years to screw up the economy–and the people who did it weren’t bad. It’s just that their repair didn’t hold up. But since it took eight years to get in trouble, I don’t know whether we can expect to escape in four.

  • What we need are people who will believe without demanding that their opinions be supreme.
  • What we require is faith in one another.
  • What we don’t need is to tear our nation apart over tiny points of legalism and end up with too much to prove for any good to come of it.

So here I go–my confusion about the United States has been clarified by a decision I had to make this week about a radiator. Am I right? Am I wrong? I won’t know until I test the repair.

But I do know this–whatever happens, I won’t blame anyone, including myself. I’ll just take the next better idea that comes along, thank whoever gave it to me, and make it my own.

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Losing It … August 17, 2012

  • Loser — Part 4
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“He that would gain his life…”

Behold, my dear, sweet friends. We are a nation of control freaks. Unfortunately, we only recognize the vice in others while failing to acknowledge the behavior in ourselves. When we are accused of being manipulative, we respond by saying that we’re only trying to take control, maintain control and eliminate defeat. It has become a mantra–defending indefensible positions with the idea that he who yells the loudest and curses the most will win the day and therefore, be proven correct.

Here’s an insight: there is an actual truth that often exists outside of our willfulness. With that reality at work, we must understand that when we take control and we are erred, those around us–and we ourselves–are in danger and at the mercy of poor judgment. If we maintain control without allowing in fresh ideas, then we are trapped in the scenario of our own making, which has already been proven to be unsuccessful (just look at the economy). If on top of taking and maintaining control, we insist that the way to eliminate defeat is to prove that we are walking in a victorious life, we will find ourselves needing to deceive, embellish and lie to keep from being discovered as a failure. This philosophy, although popular, is not only fallacious, but dangerous.

” … shall lose it.”

Yes. “He that would gain his life shall lose it.”

When you try to take control and you, yourself, are not really in control, you end up losing out because you’re ill-prepared for the natural hassle that comes along to question your authority. Hassle is the great equalizer that bypasses race, ethnicity, religion and gender–and just makes us all wiggle and squirm under the same uncomfortable conditions.

If you’re trying to maintain your control, you will find yourself in the dastardly position of being unwilling to evolve with the revelation of truth. Isn’t it amazing that we have fought wars to defend concepts that were already against our better interests? Hundreds of thousands of Americans died between 1861 and 1865 over the institution of slavery, which had already been determined by many nations of the world to be immoral and arcane. But the war raged because men and women were unwilling to evolve towards inevitability.

And the final reason that “he that would gain his life shall lose it” is that rather than being challenged and enlivened by difficulty and defeat, we are taught to recoil, pull up lame and be bruised by our setbacks. I don’t know whether we get an opinion on anything–it is a luxury that ignorant people often take, delaying a better path–but I tell you this: you definitely do not get an opinion on your losses. The only thing you can do is acknowledge them, learn from them, adjust to them and grow through the experience as you try afresh.

As you can see, the greatest opportunities in life do not occur when we are winning, but rather, by the repositioning we do when confronted by inevitable failure.

“He that will lose his life …”

Now THERE’S something nobody wants to do. But we’re not speaking of totally forsaking all of our individuality, but instead, just taking a moment to count the cost of the pressing transition that is coming our way. Yes–actually thinking about what is around the corner and how it may be different instead of assuming that yesterday’s life will be Xeroxed. If we finally relinquish our pettiness to the joyful conclusion that life IS changing, we have the ability to begin to maintain our good cheer. Good cheer is just the awareness that nothing is going to be the same, but God will go with us as long as we don’t give up.

This grants us the flexibility to do one of the more intelligent maneuvers in life–adapt quickly. Everyone who stands against a reasonable premise ends up being ground under by the wheels of progress.

Count the cost of change. Maintain your good cheer and adapt quickly. It may feel like you’re losing your life, or at least your sense of domination, but it always ends up …

“…shall gain it.”

Yes, “he that will lose his life shall gain it” because he or she will avoid the delay caused by stubbornness. I’ve even seen folks who knew they would eventually have to give into new ideas continue to dig their heels in to make some sort of foolish point about their freedom to object. What a waste of time. If you’re not stubborn, you can actually join the committee and be involved in the process of the change.

I do not know what is going to happen in this country on any given issue, but there is one central theme that is universal in the United States of America: we never take liberty away from any individual without paying the price and feeling completely foolish afterwards. Every race and nationality has taken its turn at being the underdog, and those who stubbornly held that position and repelled these individuals always ended up looking like the villains in a Stephen King movie–black hats and all.

If you can be involved in the process of change, you get the privilege of surviving, to end up living better.

“He that would gain his life shall lose it, and he that will lose his life (for my sake),” Jesus said, “shall gain it.”

Losing is not painful. It is predictable. It is what we spend most of our time doing and the least amount of time training for. How ridiculous.

  • Just like the Olympic athletes who win bronze, we need to take as much out of the experience as we possibly can without insisting that we’re all equally winners.
  • Just like Jesus, who hung on a cross, sometimes the reasons for our affliction are not obvious on Day One. Often, it is on the third day that we will rise to the occasion.
  • And just like me, you don’t need to feel beautiful to do beautiful things. Apparently, only one person is the prettiest, so everybody else better get a grip, because beauty will not win the day. Wisdom always trumps comeliness.
  • And if you would gain your life, you must learn how to lose. Lose with style, grace, awareness, flexibility and good cheer.

May I close this whole series with three easy-to-remember thoughts?

1. Don’t be sure, be pure. (Be honest about what you know and what you don’t know–and be prepared to know more.)

2. Don’t resist, persist. (Keep moving towards liberty and justice for all. God is always right there somewhere in the midst.)

3. Don’t be right, capture the light. (The ability to win an argument is not a guarantee that you’ve won the day. There are principles at work that will always carry on no matter how well you argue and fuss about your own opinion.)

Losers–we share it in common. It makes us love each other. It’s what we all understand about each other. It’s what makes us all … brothers and sisters.

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Super Wednesday … March 7, 2012

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The economy. Gas prices. Iran. Abortion. Israel. Illegal immigration. Gay marriage. Afghanistan. Oil and energy. And apparently, for some reason … female contraception.

These are the issues that are touted, screamed and proclaimed from the podiums by candidates–both Republican and Democrat–in preparation for choosing a President in this country. It perpetuated last night in what they call Super Tuesday, which is actually just a clump of states deciding to hold their primaries on the same date, thus dangling an array of delegates in front of the candidates.

Honestly, my dear sweet friends, you can spend all of your time trying to make decisions on the issues of the day, and it becomes useless if you don’t first have an understanding of those folks who will be implementing the plans. In other words, as a father I can perch in my home and have a wonderful idea on how to remodel the house–even lay out the plans and buy all the supplies, and come to the dinner table with my family, only to discover that my three children at the table who are available to me to assist in the labor are five, three and two years old.

Yes, as Jesus so pertinently phrased it, to have a marketplace that is populated by children is the formula for the absence of productivity and the possibility of disaster. Where most folks think that the problems that face us are the real difficulty in our nation and the Republicans and Democrats stomp and stump against each other for bargaining position, none of them have stepped forward to understand that our country has gradually lost its vision, and therefore may be in danger of vacating its purpose.

I think motivation demands two definitive steps: (1) addressing; (2) blessing. If we are not able to address the heart, soul, mind and strength of the citizens of this great country, offering both encouragement and needed correction, we will not be able to execute a unified plan that will generate the blessing we desire.

We need leaders who understand that America has a heart–an emotional thrust, if you will. That heart has been clouded by nearly two generations of pounding with the acceptability of deceit, meanness and lies. Yes–from our political leaders to our spiritual ones to our reality television stars, we cajole the American people into believing that some amount of lying is necessary, and that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is the human rate of exchange. Therefore, the American people, fearing being involved in ill-founded deals and having their eyes gouged out, have retreated to their families, shut their doors and are hiding away. If anyone would be a leader, let him share from his or her own heart, transparency. It’s really not that painful, especially when you realize that in this super-age of information, all of your sins will find you out anyway. Let me give you a clue, Republicans and Democrats. Just as you don’t show up to a gun battle with a knife, you also don’t step into the public arena unless you’ve plugged up your holes of insecurity. We desperately need leaders who will set an example by telling the truth as much as possible, rejecting meanness and refusing to be involved in retaliation. Without this, the heart of the people will be darkened and therefore their decisions will be based upon fear instead of love.

Next, we need leaders who will comprehend that spirituality is not gloating over our religion nor the maintenance of traditions, but rather, the discovery of the image of God. You may feel free to seek out saints, angels, demons or ghosts, but the supernatural will not solve our natural world’s difficulties. This is why God intelligently placed His image in human beings–so that we would have something to study, love, appreciate and accept during our earthly journey. Spirituality is NOT seeking God–spirituality is finding His image in each other. Leaders who will teach us to do so–making everything heavenly have an earthly application–will actually march us to the throne of God Himself. A nation that protects religion leaves its people in darkness. A nation which believes that true religion is dealing kindly with each other–with vulnerability–will find God.

If you will allow me to continue, any great leader must also stimulate the intelligence of his or her people. And intelligence is a very simple concept. It is not merely learning–learning is memorization which can be easily forgotten. Intelligence is learning and then coming to the knowledge of the truth by finding an immediate, practical way to apply what we’ve been taught. We need individuals to step forward who do not believe that science, God, medicine, intellect, art and knowledge are at war with one another.

God is a scientist–look at creation. God is a philosopher–study the words of Jesus and how they apply to our lives. God is a poet–listen to the rhyme and reason of the universe–rejuvenating, challenging and restoring itself.

And speaking of restoring ourselves, it might be nice to have someone in a high office in this land who promotes health. And health is a well-sharpened, two-edged sword: spending equal time treating those who are ill while energizing the rest to prevent illness. It is taking the knowledge of the truth we have discovered in our intelligence and transfusing that wisdom into our physical lives.

Today is Super Wednesday. It is time to shed the gamesmanship and folly of Super Tuesday and a system that fails to give us the impetus to move forward.

  • It is time to address the heart of our nation. We must become transparent in order to teach transparency. Truth begets truth as lying begets lies. If we address that heart, the by-product will be the blessing of trusting each other’s word again.
  • We must address the spirituality of our country, which has regressed to a mere form of godliness, wrapped in a tattered cloak of religion, instead of appreciating the image of God personified in human beings. If we actually show mercy to each other, we will receive the blessing of obtaining mercy.
  • The season has arrived to address the intelligence of the United States, asking people to do more than read and study, but also to garner valuable truth from their perusing–truth that can lead them to greater understanding. The blessing will be that we can finally abandon intellect that lacks humanity.
  • And finally, it’s time to address the health given as a blessing to all of us. Rather than arguing over insurance premiums, let us find ways to understand the human body that God has so meticulously created–and end up with the blessing of being free from conflict and disease instead of being frightened by every pain.

Welcome to Super Wednesday, where we believe, pursue and pray for leadership that ceases to focus on the problems, but instead, addresses in the populace the waning motivation of gaining the blessing of a work force which arrives early to address these difficulties that beset us–but with a fresh heart that is transparent, a spirituality that is sensitive to human beings, intelligence that wants to apply knowledge and a healthiness that is seeking prevention over just treatment.

We can do this. All we have to do is stop pretending that the old ways actually work, and allow ourselves the opportunity to address our confusion, which will open the door to the potential of blessing.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

The problem is not the problem … February 7, 2012

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Once you give it a name, you start the game.

That’s right. At least 80% of our success is determined by our perception of what is set before us. So if you decide to name your child “Hitler,” you have pre-conditioned the public to receive your offspring as something that he may not be, but is stuck with because of the name. And if you call every situation that comes your way a problem, you have warned yourself, others, God and the universe that you are anticipating a struggle instead of prepared for a solution.

Some people might be offended by this concept or even think it’s a little silly. After all, what is the actual difference between using one word over another in any given circumstance? Well, it’s the difference between your loved one receiving a “thank you” from you and only getting a grunt. Jesus was right–by our words we are justified and by our words we are condemned. Until we grow up enough to cease and desist from viewing every cumbersome obstacle in our lives as a problem instead of just our daily bread of crustiness, we will send out a beacon of desperation and frustration which not only lends itself to wasting time instead of working on solutions, but also is one of the most unattractive vibes you can communicate to your fellow-humans.

Of the great turn-ons in life, exasperation lies somewhere near the bottom. Yet for some reason or another, we languish in the luxury of worry, we fester in our own fussiness and we question whether there is going to be enough of something-or-another to get us through to the next way-station of possibility.

The problem is not the problem. The problem with society is me–and dare I include you? We are spoiled rotten by the notion that fun is to be free of entanglements. We are overly cared for by a God who perhaps has provided TOO much for our comfort and not enough for our ongoing discovery. It makes us brats. So we come out of daily events calling them problems, wringing our hands, sighing and communicating our desperation.

I think somewhere deep in our hearts, we believe we can scare trials and tribulations into avoiding us by displaying enough bad attitude. Unfortunately, these vices are tricksters; they LOVE to attack people who are grouchy. You can imagine if you were a trial, how frustrating it would be to come up with a really big package of aggravation, and then to have your hopes for turning someone into a grump doused by their sense of good cheer. It would be enough to make you want to go down the road and bother someone else.

Exactly.

Am I saying that people who complain actually end up having more problems than people who don’t? Absolutely. And how does that happen, you may ask? It’s really quite simple. When the next set of opportunities comes on the scene, the complainer is still fretting over the last batch of bullies. So not only is there a new dilemma, but also an old dilemma that has not been adequately dealt with. Double-trouble.

So why ARE there situations which some people call problems? Because God in His mercy would love to see our planet running smoothly by the use of intelligence and effort instead of bad attitudes and laziness. To bring this to the forefront demands that each one of us join in a common lottery of activities which we either view as our daily situation or as our overwhelming problem.

This is the quandary in our country. We seem to think we will scare away our economic trials with bad attitude and lazy, over-done solutions. Meanwhile, the recession just sits there and laughs at us. It will take intelligence and effort for us to come out of this situation. Until we push forward some intelligent people and actually get behind those bright bulbs with some energy of our own, we will continue to linger in bad attitudes and laziness.

What is intelligence? It has two parts: (1) “I will not freak out.” (2) “God has never deserted me–why should now be different?”

What is effort? (1)  “What do I have?” (2) “How can I get more with what I have?”

Therein lies the secret, my friends. This twenty-four-hour period will afford you many situations. If you refuse to freak out, and believe that God has been faithful in the past and has not changed His occupation, while taking an inventory of what you have and finding a way to use that to get more– honestly, you’re ten feet tall and bullet-proof. But if you have a bad attitude (“why do things have to be so difficult?”) and you’re lazy (“I’m still tired from yesterday’s stuff!”) you will compile a series of box-cars of unresolved conflict, which will link up to become an insurmountable train, furiously careening its way down the tracks towards you.

The problem is not the problem. Life consists of situations which, if addressed with intelligence and effort, more or less just vanish in the wind. But if I choose to have a bad attitude and sprout laziness, those “problems” are given over to the care of my worry and frustration.  Is it possible to relearn this? It is not only possible, it is the only way to truly be passable.

So what is today’s situation? Stop calling it a problem and bring some intelligence and effort–and then see if the stain of adversity isn’t wiped clean.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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