Untotaled: Stepping 43 (October 14th, 1968) No Joe… December 6, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

A coffee-house.

I’m not talking about Starbucks.

In the fall of 1968, our church decided to start a coffee-house, where young people could gather under dim light, listen to music and become as contemplative as teenagers can get.

It was very popular for a season.

Ours was held in the church fellowship hall, which required a lot of decorating but still demanded tremendous batches of imagination.

I was put in charge of the event. I wanted to do something special.

So I drove into the city, went to Radio Shack and purchased a black light bulb. It wasn’t very powerful, but in a small area, it could make everything shine with brilliance.

I decided I was going to sing the song, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and at the end of the tune, flip on the black light, illuminating a full-sized figure of Jesus.

I went to Bennett’s Department Store in our town–really just a little hole in the wall–and asked them if they had a mannequin. They did. It was a female one, but I felt if I put a beard on this chick, I could turn her into the Christ.

I also went across the street to the rich lady who was so wealthy that she bought all of her clothing through catalogs from New York, and acquired a long, brown wig.

I sewed–yes, sewed–a robe, and then donned the mannequin in the outfit, put on the wig and the beard–and to me it looked like Jesus. Maybe a metrosexual Jesus.

I was in the middle of preparations when the pastor and his wife came in, saw the mannequin and just about lost all of the Holy in their Ghost. They explained that I could not use the mannequin–not because it was feminine–but because the Bible says “we are not to make any graven images.”

I listened, using my most subservient profile, fully aware that after all this work, I would do it anyway.

Sure enough, when I finished the song at the coffee-house I turned on the black light bulb and it beautifully lit up my graven image, as gasps filled the room.

The small group of friends and attendees burst into applause. The response was so good that Mr. and Mrs. Pastor didn’t say anything to me. But from that point on, I was supposed to clear all activities through them.

I didn’t.

Now some people consider a stubborn, willful teenager to be a “criminal in training. ”

Other folks think such behavior is a sign of “budding promise.”

Since I am neither a criminal nor particularly “budding,” I just think that teenagers have the unique benefit of sniffing out stupid rules … and challenging them.

 

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The Difference… July 7, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1936)

huntington pianoOften the difference between success and failure is the voice within that gains our full attention.

I was twelve years old. A traveling gospel quartet came to our church and sang, with a pot luck dinner following. Everybody went to the fellowship hall–except I grabbed three of my friends, went into a nearby Sunday School classroom which had an old Huntington upright piano, and I tried to get the four of us to sing like the quartet we had just observed.

After a while we became loud and boisterous, so one of the deacons popped his head in and rebuked us for failing to be part of the church family through enjoying an “afterglow” with the gospel singers. My three friends slunk away with the avenging deacon and I pretended to follow–but then slipped back to the room and just played the piano more quietly, so as not to be heard.

That night made a difference to me.

Several years later, a minister and counselor told me I should forget my girlfriend, who had gone away to college in Arizona. He said she obviously did not love me,  and was afraid I was going to make a fool of myself by continuing to contact her. Little did he know that I had already purchased a student/standby airplane ticket to Tucson, Arizona, He was also completely unaware that my girlfriend was pregnant with our child. That was forty-three years and four sons ago.

I chose a different path. It made all the difference.

Up until the time I was eighteen years old I had never even thought about composing a song. Matter of fact, some of my friends chided me because I was always singing the hits of my favorite groups over and over again. But one day, in the back room of a loan office, where there was a piano, I perched myself, and in less than three hours I wrote two songs of my own making.

That was many writing sessions ago, and hundreds of songs. But that day made the difference.

I borrowed twenty dollars one night to go to a contest in West Virginia with my singing group. Everybody said we wouldn’t have a chance. We went down there and won. They were wrong.

That trip made a difference.

I wiggled my way around to get my group, Soul Purpose, an appearance on a Nashville, Tennessee, television program called the Teddy Bart Show. No gospel group had ever been on, but we worked at it and worked at it until we finally got invited. Afterwards I received a phone call which led to a beautiful working relationship with Marijohn Wilkin, leading to my first national album.

The difference.

I have never achieved anything in my life by playing it safe. I honestly have never found any lasting peace or purpose by pursuing the consensus of those who always seek the higher ground for fear of a flood of creativity.

Of course, I have left out the tales of woe and pain caused by such a flamboyant philosophy. Not every escapade into the unknown was a striking of gold. But it didn’t keep me from going. It didn’t keep me from trying. And it didn’t keep me from believing that life is short–and the only way we elongate it is by playing it too safe and making it so boring that it’s interminable.

It’s the difference.

It’s the ability to hear the voice within you and the confidence to believe that somehow that messenger has been with God and has come to bring a special-delivery mission your way.

It is audacious, it is often over-bearing, it is occasionally lonely–and it is certainly bizarre to those who choose a safer path.

But it isthe difference.

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

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

The Battle or the War… November 29, 2012

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Ego drain–locate brain.

It’s a little two-phrase process I go through every time I get ready to go to a new location to set up for my presentation. For after all, the last thing the world needs is a dose of my ego. People are not created by God to make me feel good about myself. They are exactly what Jesus said they are–interested in themselves and if they can muster enough spirituality, they may learn to be able to extend that courtesy to others, including me.

One of the standard processes I face as I journey from city to city is learning to comprehend that the American people have been taught to have an agenda for everything under the guise of protecting their self-esteem. If you want to know why we have gridlock in Congress, it’s because we have allowed a false doctrine of self-esteem to rule the mind and heart of our nation for nearly two generations. Here’s what we have been taught over the past thirty years about self-esteem:

I matter because I was born. I have an opinion. And I am great because “God don’t make no junk.”

You can say those three statements in any arena–be it secular or religious–and get thunderous applause. Unfortunately, that is NOT self-esteem. That is a formula for a struggle between people, which perpetuates a battle without ever winning a war.

If two people arrive in a room and both of them think they’re important, that their opinions matter and God believes they are great, there will be no meeting of the minds and very little potential for finding the best solution.

That’s why I begin with ego drain. Three points that drive my life:

  1. The people I’m about to meet don’t owe me anything.
  2. The people I’m about to meet don’t really know me, and therefore their reaction is knee-jerk rather than intelligent.
  3. The people I’m about to meet will only be blessed if I have some way to assist them where they are instead of demanding that they come to where I am.

There you go. That’s self-esteem. Self-esteem is when I realize that God has given me gifts–so if I use them humbly, I become of value. I am not valuable just because I breathe–I am valuable if I can breathe life into things that were presumed dead.

Everybody is fighting the battle and nobody’s winning the war. Hamas and Israel are involved in an ego struggle. The United States and Iran are entangled in a similar futile punching contest. No one has the integrity to discern the common good and promote the general welfare.

Last night a beautiful woman in a church was nervous about her upcoming Christmas program and felt a great responsibility to make sure her choir was ready to perform. She didn’t want to be bumped out of doing a good job by our program digging into her rehearsal time. I understand. It doesn’t matter whether I agree–my job is to put on that woman’s skin and don her brain for a few moments so that I can get the insight to know how I can help instead of hinder. I chose to set up my show in the smaller fellowship hall so this dear woman could have her rehearsal without trauma, fear or interruption. There are people in the American culture who would say I lost. They believe in the false definition of self-esteem. But self-esteem is providing for the common good and promoting the general welfare. We had a wham-bang time last night, and I hope my dear friend had a good rehearsal. For you see, I don’t need a building. I don’t need pre-eminence. I don’t even need respect.

I need a door of opportunity and a chance to make things better.

Stop fighting the battle and start winning the war. The battle is between egos of people who have bought into false self-esteem. The war will be won by those who realize “we ain’t nothin’ until we bring somethin’.”

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

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