Green Room… March 18, 2013


fruitInterestingly enough, the room itself is rarely green. It is a simple area set aside for Janet and myself, when we arrive at our gig, where we can have some private moments, consume some fruit and water provided, and ruminate. (Now, if you’re not sure what “ruminate” means, you will understand better by the content of this essay.)

I take the time in that green room, before I am entrusted with the most precious of God’s creatures–human beings–to empty and fill. It’s really that simple. It doesn’t matter what the size or appearance of the enclosure may be. Sometimes they put me in a bridal preparation area that has so many mirrors in it that this fat boy doesn’t dare look up or breathe. Once I ended up in a small closet, where I had to listen to the incessant complaining from the brooms, objecting to my presence.

The significance of the green room is that it’s a place to empty and fill.

I empty myself of all concern. After all, concern is normally just a very expensive bag wherein we tote our worry. Concern does me no good–but emptied of it, I am allowed to fill myself with ideas instead of being overtaken by fears. And what is an idea? A belief that has a plan for doing something to prove its worth.

Next, I empty myself of ego. I don’t do this by thinking about how rotten I am or what a sinner I must appear to be in the presence of a glorious God. “Emptying myself of ego” means that I lessen my requirements for other human beings to satisfy my needs. After all, you are not here to please me. And I will only please you if the good news I bring makes your life better.

Emptied of ego, I am ready to fill myself with the blessing of people. Please understand that I feel humbled by the notion that my words and talents will be displayed in front of the world that God loved so much that He was willing to give His only begotten son to see it saved. I take it seriously, in a humorous way.

And when I hit that stage, I empty myself of energy. I don’t try to reserve some of my oom-pah for later on. If God loves me and I love Him, the best way to prove that love is to give all the human beings I meet the best I’ve got. And as I empty myself of energy, I fill myself with the response and the joy from the audience.

Someone asked me the other day: how do you know if something’s from God? That’s easy. It makes people better. If it doesn’t make people better, it can’t be God.

Once I’m filled with that response and the show’s over, as I climb up in my van to leave, I empty myself of any further responsibility. I’m a sower–not a farmer. Farmers have to sow the seed and then hang around to clear all the weeds. I think there are too many people worrying about the farm and not enough people planting. Farmers worry about weeds, thunderstorms and droughts. Sowers plant the seed.

Emptied of the responsibility of my last stop-off, I am then filled again with a vision of the task before me. It’s a wonderful way to live–emptied, to be filled again.

I don’t know whether you have a green room to go to, but I would recommend that you find such a place. Yes, find a secluded area where you can experience the miracle of empty and fill.

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Ten Things That Make Me Crazy … May 25, 2012



1. Murder as entertainment. Would someone please explain why it’s acceptable in our society to indiscriminately splatter blood across the screen for young children to see, while romance and sex are deemed to be evil? It is so hypocritical. The Bible says that “life is in the blood,” and when we make human blood such an expendable unit, we attack the beauty of life.

2. Music without emotion. I like a good beat just like the next guy–but music has the capacity to touch the human heart, which is the doorway to the soul. Honestly, nothing does it quite as well. When we fail to use that ability of the medium to reach into the emotions of our fellow-travelers, we miss the greatest blessing available for being tuneful.

3. Dress-up religion. Here’s my thought: if you’re wearing a costume, it’s probably Halloween. Any time we feel the need to don garb or insert ritual instead of reality and truth into our worship of God, we are secretly admitting that it’s a childhood game of hide-and-seek, which really has no practical application.

4. Movies that don’t move me. A friend recently told me that he goes to movies to be entertained. That’s fine and dandy. I’m all for entertainment, but life is too short to allow ourselves to view a meaningless scene that does not enrich all the parts of our human vessel. So please, give me some heart that touches my soul while renewing my mind, while making my skin tingle with excitement. And life certainly is too short for us to be deterred from discovering our essence by portraying images on the screen that are anti-human or anti-Golden Rule.

5. Mirrors in the shower room. I don’t get it. If you think you have a great body, you certainly don’t require a mirror to tempt you to admire yourself, generating even greater arrogance. Or if your body is under construction or in transit to a better self, then viewing the present progress is nothing less than discouraging.

6. Opinions mingled with statistics. I welcome your opinion. I’m interested in what you have to say. You don’t have to agree with me. But please don’t bring along a bunch of facts and stats that you have swung in your direction to convince me that I am in the minority and that your opinion is held by the bulk of the populace. Honestly, my dear friend, I don’t mind being in the minority. It is where most miracles are spawned.

7. The made-up fight between men and women. Yes. It’s made up. It’s manufactured to accomplish two goals–to sell products which isolate one sex from the other, and to avoid spending the necessary time to understand one another instead of just bumping into each other for brief moments of pleasure. We will eventually have to grow out of our childish belief that the other sex actually does have “cooties.”

8. Brainless patriotism. It doesn’t matter how many times you chant,Support the troops!” It doesn’t make you better than the person who works for peace so that the troops don’t have to go over to foreign lands and take a bullet for us. Here’s my gift to the soldiers on this Memorial Day weekend: thank you for being willing to fight. I appreciate it so much that I’m going to work very hard to make sure you don’t have to.

9. Destiny. We occasionally go through intervals in our society when we either become too lazy or too frightened to be responsible for our own lives. So for a brief season we focus on how God, the devil or even fairies control our futures. It’s ridiculous. Right now our literature, entertainment and even our churches are filled with the notion that God–who created free will–has changed His mind and really wants to manipulate us to do His bidding. Pretty soon we will grow weary of being helpless and will accept the great gift of being allowed to use our talents to make our own lives better.

10. Fussing about God. Since none of us really understand God, to fuss about Him is not only worthless and comical, but also may be the definition of arrogant. I will tell you bluntly–no one I know (including me) believes the WHOLE Bible. We all have favorite passages which we push to the forefront to promote our particular rendition of Mr. Almighty. So since that is the case, I have no intention of fussing with you about your interpretation of divine matters. I have decided to simplify my life down to, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” and enjoy the elementary mind-set of that concept while pursuing the complexities of its application.

Those are the ten things, on this beautiful Friday, that make me crazy. Each one of them can be tempered by those moderate souls who feel that I may be a little over-wrought in my representations. But there is a time to take a stand and a season where we refuse to accept mediocrity just because it’s wearing a fashionable hat. The question is not whether things make me crazy, but whether that particular brand of lunacy drives me into an asylum where I self-medicate and hide out from the world around me–or if it pushes me into the street to protest the injustice I see to the best of my ability.

I am not a radical, but I refuse to be a pushover. So until things get better and human beings are allowed to be human without having to walk around in lies, I will lift up the banner that God loves us as we are–but he also loves the fellow next to us, the lady down the street and all those infidels in other lands who might just be planning our demise. 


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

Day Forty-Five… April 10, 2012


Sometimes it’s merely a passing glance in the mirror. Maybe a brisk walk across a shopping center, requiring a few minutes of rest on a bench before continuing. It could be a flutter in the chest–illusions of a palpitation foretelling of activities within. Of course, there is that bit of embarrassment of being at a swimming pool in front of a bunch of little kids who have not yet learned proper manners. It can be a hundred things–reminders of the fat that has beset me.

What next? For people who have lived a life flirting with “slender,” the answer seems simple–similar to what I emote to individuals who are trying to quit smoking. (“Just stop buying cigarettes!”) Or, in the case of those who surround me: “Come on, brother! Just eat less!”

That’s because they think it’s about losing weight. Losing weight is for people who go on vacation, eat too many calzones, come home and just stop eating calzones, shedding any pounds they garnered in the process of over-eating. My job is not to lose weight. I’m losing a body. It is a body I’ve had since I was twelve years old. It demands an entirely different process–one which is not necessarily better enacted on shows like The Biggest Loser. I suppose if we all could go off to some farm and do nothing but exercise and eat a pre-prepared diet while being screamed at by individuals who have always been skinny, we, too, might be frightened into some drastic de-pounding. It doesn’t work that way.

No, it’s different for those who are obese, and nothing will happen in their lives until that fact is realized. There is a three-step process, each step requiring ninety days. Please forgive me for the audacity of stopping off here at day 45, when I am still in the midst of the initial burst. But perhaps the information and also the testimony of my experience will encourage both you and me to press on.

You can’t lose your body until you stop trying to lose weight. To lose your body, you have to put out of your mind any notions of feeling better or looking better. Those are two requirements that create the despair that causes obese individuals to give up. On Day 45, I have no concerns whatsoever about feeling better or looking better. Those are goals for the future. My aspiration, in the first ninety days, is to:

1. Do better. What does it mean to “do better?” Every discovery of doing better has a two-pronged outlet–eliminate and include. Once you target what to eliminate and quickly replace it with inclusions that are equally as tantalizing, you will inch towards doing better–one day at a time. Here’s the truth–suppressing my appetite doesn’t mean anything because I don’t eat because I’m hungry. I eat because it’s fun. And since I am never going to stop eating because it’s fun, my goal is to eliminate fun choices that are killers, but include equally fun choices that are life-giving. To “do better,” I have to stop listening to skinny people who don’t know anything about being fat. Instead, I need to learn myself.

For instance, last night I ate catfish and summer squash. I like both of them. Here’s what I eliminated: neither one of them was fried; neither one of them had butter on them and neither one was drenched in sauces. I eliminated tartar sauce as my side dip, but I included a little bit of catsup. I challenged myself to find out if I enjoyed the taste of catfish and summer squash, or if I just actually favored the flavor of grease in my mouth. Amazingly, the catfish, summer squash and a little bit of catsup was  satisfactory to my taste buds and my needs.

Yes, in the first ninety days, you work on doing better. And two of the ways I do better go against dietary wisdom–I do not get on a scale. When you are an obese person, weighing yourself profusely is discouraging. It is trying to jump from “doing better” all the way to “looking better.” You don’t get to do that. You didn’t get fat in a week and you’re not going to get better looking in seven days either. I don’t need a number to tell me that I’m doing better, and sometimes the number is misleading and therefore, frustrating.

Next–a personal choice. During my ninety days of “doing better,” I refuse to look at myself in any full-length mirrors. Why? Because it makes me want to jump to “looking better,” which is the final stage of the journey, and can only create animosity in my soul over the slowness of the process. So when I find myself walking towards a mirror, I turn my head. It is too soon to demand evidence for my eyes. I need ninety full days of merely doing better. This period of time is followed by:

2. Feeling better. After ninety days of establishing making better choices, you can allow yourself the luxury of accepting a new burst of energy–an excitement which fuels your ongoing project of doing better, marching you forward towards looking better. I think it is ridiculous to assume that you’re going to feel better  until you’ve given ninety days to the cause of doing better. And the beauty of God’s grace is that each one of the ninety days of “doing better” doesn’t have to be a roaring success. As long as you keep in mind that in the second ninety days, you’re going to be feeling better, you can get up every morning and continue the faithfulness of doing better than the day before. Feeling better is the gift we receive after ninety days of doing better. And after 180 days, I fully plan on peering in the mirror and confirming that:

3. I look better. Most people give up on their goals because they cannot see where the work is taking them. Just as you can’t watch a pot boil and you can’t eat a hard-boiled egg until it’s done, you cannot gaze at yourself after twenty, forty or even 110 days and expect to peruse your new body. The final ninety days is for relishing, rejoicing and being grateful for looking better. By that time, doing better has become your life, feeling better is a fill-up at your emotional gas station, so looking better is the pay-off–the trip you’ve won to Vegas.

I have always known how this works, but sometimes I have despised the process. I have resented that such a nice and fine person as myself should have to suffer such restrictive slings and arrows to achieve better health. Yes, I can be a brat. But this time, I’ve acknowledged the truth and embraced the genius. So halfway through my ninety days, I wanted to stop off and share my joyous, but tenuous, progress. It is rich with possibility and rife with danger. But I know that unless I have ninety days of doing better followed by ninety days of feeling better, I will never be able to celebrate ninety days of looking better.

Just some thoughts from the middle of my present quest.  I hope you don’t mind this piece of self-indulgence from me.

Believe me, it’s healthier to do it in writing … than at the dinner table.


Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

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.


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.

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