PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 22nd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog


Caught Up With God

by Jonathan Richard Cring

I caught up with God last night.

It’d been a while

I had been busy with me.

His matters–more universal.

“How ya doin’ with that life I gave you?” He asked, with a twinkle in His eye.

“Livin’ loud and free,” I replied.

“Oh, my. Sounds bold,” He countered.

“Let there be light, bolder still,” I returned.

He smiled.

I loved His smile. Always warm and left me enlightened.

He looked tired, but not aging–the kind of weary you might see in a friend when you suggest a nap instead of another cup of coffee.

I searched for words.

I suddenly realized why the visits between us were less frequent.

There was a great mutual appreciation, with not much common interest.

“I thought we could catch up,” He suggested.

“Good.” I nodded but remained silent.

I don’t know why He makes me nervous.

There has been no vexation between us. No major disagreement.

There are many things I like, which I hear He thinks are sins.

And the thoughts that cross my head seem unworthy to share with such a pure soul.

Yet venturing for a night that would be memorable for its difference, I said, “Sometimes I stay away from You when I don’t need to.”

I looked deeply into His eyes to see if I had hurt His feelings.

That was not my intention, but certainly could have been the conclusion.

He maintained a stare, as if waiting for more explanation. So I decided to push on.

“Sometimes I just don’t believe in You. Sometimes I feel foolish thinking that the apparition I’ve created of your presence has any truthfulness. Or for that matter, value. Sometimes I grow weary of my own mythology.”

I stopped speaking.

Only half of what I shared was honest. Like many words spoken in a spat, the majority are stirred to hurt instead of reveal.

But why did I want to hurt God?

Why did I want Him to know that I didn’t need Him?

Why was I taking this moment of reunion and turning it into a cup of poison?


God just walked over and quietly sat down in a chair.

Though He did not motion for me to join Him, the energy compelled me to find a nearby seat of my own.

The two of us, seated.

Old friends?

Or just strangers who finally realized the extent of the disconnection?

He spoke. “What would you think or feel if I said I don’t always believe in you?”

“I would be horrified,” I responded. “Even if I have made you up in my ego, I need you to be supportive. I need you to be my permanent cheerleader. I need you to give me unconditional love.”

“And what do I get for this gift?” He asked, tilting His head and squinting His eyes.

I didn’t pause for a moment. I answered immediately–almost impetuously.

“My guaranteed doubt.”

The Most High laughed.

“Quite a good deal,” He said, rubbing His chin. “Perhaps I should jump on it right away, in case you change your mind.”

I excused myself and went into the bathroom.

I sat in my stall, realizing that I was manufacturing an event in my head that was probably more spirits-in-a-bottle than Spirit-in-my-life.

Suddenly, there He was. In the stall with me, leaning against the wall.

“Stalk’er much?” I asked.

“It’s not really stalking,” He noted. “I thought we were still having a conversation, and just changing locations.”

“It’s a perfect example,” I interjected. “I am a person. I value my privacy. There are times I don’t like to be chased by a spirit or a theology or reminded of my inadequacies by a black book with a lousy cover.”

God burst into laughter.

“How true! For them to claim it’s the Word of God, and not even have great cover art… So much like those who only believe so they can hold it against those who don’t.”

“Would you turn your head?” I demanded. “I would like to finish here.”

Before I could complete my phrase He was gone.

I wondered if it would be another season of absence, or if I would find Him sitting in the chair when I left the restroom.

I stood in front of the mirror and splashed some water on my face.

I realized I was not ugly. Maybe just a little facially displaced.

I smiled, thinking how I wanted to share that with Him. How much He would enjoy it.

We always could make each other laugh. That’s for sure.

It’s just that sometimes, He doesn’t know how to stop my tears.

Feeling I was “stalling,” and then thinking that I must share that pun with Him also, I opened the door and stepped out.

He was gone.

There was this amazing smell in the air.

What was it?

Garlic, tomato and just a hint of oregano.

Of course.

All the ingredients of Chicago deep-dish pizza.

I breathed in deeply.

I shook my head.

He knew it was my favorite.

Our guest reader is Isabella, who is a student at Florida State University.


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3 Things… July 26th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog


That Make Great Pizza


1. Adding cheddar and swiss into the cheese blend

2. Not too much sauce (garlic and oregano)

3. No one talking about calories while eating it

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Published in: on July 26, 2018 at 2:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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God, Father … August 18, 2012

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It was 1976, I was twenty-four years old and was blessedly invited to be the keynote speaker at a Christian Business Men’s Meeting in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. There were approximately two hundred people in attendance, some of them female, most of them very successful in business, but nearly all of them of Italian descent.

Now understand, I was old enough to be there but young enough to be very nervous about conversation with a bunch of folks who were making lots of money and were, well … Italian. I think what spooked me was that I didn’t want to be the first one to bring up some subject that might accidentally be offensive, so when I was back in my motel room, I practiced avoiding certain words: spaghetti, meatballs, the mob and the recent hit movie, The Godfather. I know it sounds stupid, but remember–I was twenty-four, and although I had discovered my feet and that they were under me, I didn’t always know exactly where to walk.

Fortunately for me, I was seated at the head table with the president of this Christian organization, who was named Dominick. He was a lovely man–free and easy. He immediately broached all the subjects I was afraid of, drew me into the conversation and let me know that a Pennsylvania Dutch boy from Ohio was welcome at their meeting (even though I didn’t exactly know what oregano was).

Right before the actual program was to begin, Dominick took me aside and explained that he was terrified because it was his job to open the evening with an invocation of prayer. It was really kind of comical. Standing before me was a guy with a two-thousand-dollar suit who made business deals every week, but wasn’t quite sure how to close the deal with the Almighty.

So I explained to him that the best thing to do in public prayer is to be as natural as possible–conversational if you could manage it–brief, and to use language with which he was accustomed. He seemed very appreciative and greatly relieved.

So when it was time to begin, Dominick rose to his feet, strode to the podium and said, “Let us pray.”

Then there was a delay. I began to wonder if maybe Dominick had lost his nerve on his way to the throne of grace, but then suddenly, he spoke–strongly and confidently.

“You are our God…”

Once again, another pause. It wasn’t a pregnant one or protruding, but still present. So he started again.

“You are our God … Father.”

With the close proximity of the two words–God and Father–it sounded as you might expect. “Godfather.”

The whole room burst into uproarious laughter. It must have gone on for a minute and a half. Dominick was embarrassed, but soon joined in with the giggles.

I loved it. He was never able to actually regain the attention of the gathered souls to finish his prayer, so after the laughter finally died down, he leaned into the microphone and said, “You know what I mean. Amen.”

This brought another burst of levity throughout the entire banquet hall. So by the time I got up to speak and share, the audience was relaxed, joyous and in a mood to receive. Believe you me, I didn’t waste any time to make hay off of the “Godfather prayer.” All through my little presentation and discourse, people would occasionally giggle, remembering the misplaced wording of Dominick’s prayer. It was delightful–free of pretense. The pressure was relieved from the room concerning our differences and we were just a bunch of folks enjoying chicken cordon bleu (look at me…I was expecting lasagna) and opening up our hearts to a God who truly was our Father.

The vulnerability possessed by Dominick led to some human exposure, which brought about some needed laughter, causing everyone present to be excited about receiving and allowing for the end of the evening to be consecrated in healing. Yes, when it was time to ask people to share their needs, fears and illnesses, the front of the banquet hall filled with human beings who were hurting, but willing to be made better.

Just like in the movie, we came to our God, Father, and made a request–one that He had no intention of refusing.

Being in Michigan, I thought about that event this week. I wondered if the same ingredients are still floating in the air in our society, just not landing in any obvious configuration.

Are we still willing to be vulnerable? The word means “capable of being wounded.” For after all, if we’re not willing to expose ourselves, the areas that require attention will continue to decay.

Can we laugh anymore? Would an audience today allow itself to interrupt the holiness of prayer with a burst of joy?

Can we take the healing that comes from that good cheer and allow ourselves to believe that we need to receive newness of life?

And then, can we actually step out of the crowd to accept the healing that our hearts, souls, minds and bodies often crave?

I hope so. I hope there are business men and women, workers and even young humans who can escape the monotony and repetition of a society which is self-deluded with its own importance, and just relax in being with one another in the presence of their Creator.

I wouldn’t want to be twenty-four years old again. I wouldn’t want to go back to 1976. I wouldn’t want to eat bland-tasting chicken at a banquet hall in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. But I would like to meet once again with people and sit at the feet of our Godfather”and believe that He has the power and strength to chase all our problems away.

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Redlands… May 21, 2012


I keep searching.

Every week I climb into my big, black van and go from town to town across this expansive country, trying to find a spark of revival. (I do take the precaution of bringing along my own “matches”…)

And when I speak of revival, I’m don’t mean merely a spiritual awakening, but rather, a complete human awakening, fueled by spirit. I will not bore you by telling you about the disappointments along the way. I have never been one to belabor the darker edges of the quilt of my experience. What I would rather do is tell you how encouraged I was yesterday.

I arrived in a church that had rejected complexity in preference to simplicity. They relished communication over the repetition of mere religious practice and liturgy, and they had enough vulnerability that even a stranger such as myself could come in, and as long as I was willing to be equally as transparent, they were of a mind to listen.

It’s not really very complicated. It’s all about ingredients. If you talk to four or five chefs about spaghetti sauce, each one will tell you what elements he prefers prefer to make the ideal concoction. Some want more oregano. Others insist on large doses of basil. Of course, there’s a strong contingency that will tell you it’s all about the garlic. These are all issues of flavor. The truth of the matter is, you can’t make spaghetti sauce without tomatoes. And in our society, emotionally, spiritually and mentally we lead so strongly with taste that we forfeit the tomatoes. Yesterday in Redlands, I discovered a lovely group of souls who were still focusing on the main act.

  • For instance, I talked to a trombone player from the band, who lamented that there was not printed music in the bass clef for his particular instrument–BUT he was still playing. Unlike so many other folks, who have given up playing in the band due to the lack of perfect conditions, he still remained–tootin’ away.
  • I met a women who had recently lost her husband, but rather than making that the focal point of her communication, she uses the experience to spring off with greater concern and love for others.
  • I met a fine fellow with a great interest in independent films, who transfers that passion for the movie industry into his own interpretation of how his life in the spirited realm should be revealed.
  • I saw young humans sitting in the front of the church instead of texting in the back, allowing themselves to be affected by a good thing instead of resisting it simply because it came out of an older vessel or sounded like God-talk.
  • And I met a pastor, excellent at golf, and successful in taking the same energy and intelligence he uses in perfecting his back swing, bringing it into the church service as he claps his hands during the songs and rejoices over being with his congregation–a “holy in one.”

Last night, as I mused over these comrades, I realized that they had discovered a simple procedure that makes spirituality work. It is the blending of three words: need, ability and power.

Although many churches are persistent in expressing how much we need God, it rarely gives us the impetus to tap our abilities and grant us the power of our own conviction. Then there are the more out-of-the-box religions that focus on the power without insisting that we perfect our abilities or ever express need in any way, shape or form. Both approaches leave us void of what is necessary to use our humanity effectively.

No, it’s getting things linked in the right order that gives you the kind of results that allows you to remain human without being obnoxious, while still touching the heart and mind of God. Here’s how I see it–the way I think it should work, confirmed yesterday with my visitation to Redlands:

1. A need to do better. Human beings become ugly when they cover up their inadequacy with false bravado–self-sufficient. They become equally as grotesque when they insist that they’re constantly needy, devoid of any goodness whatsoever. It’s just the admission that we have achieved something, but upon closer examination, we have a heart’s desire to do it better. it makes us sexy. It makes us happy; it makes us powerful. And mostly, it makes us tolerable to those of our own species.

2. An ability to pursue a goal. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But there are many folks who can not remain faithful to a plan simply because they feel more intelligent when they are critiquing it, ignoring it or trying to prove why it won’t work.  Just having the willingness to learn how things work, shutting your mouth and pursuing to the best of your ability may be the definition of godliness. I know this–what we call faith is really when need and ability sign a peace treaty. Faith is the magnificent emergence of a new energy created by the convergence of admitting our need while still pursuing our abilities. And as the Bible says, “without faith, it’s impossible to please God.” Some religions are too needy. Therefore, their adherents are always repenting–reluctantly. Some theologies are too arrogant about personal domination. The result is that those who follow that philosophy end up making claims to everyone else around them, who are privately hoping they fail.

 But when you combine need and ability, you get faith. And then faith gives you the third element:

3. A power to change YOUR world. You need to stop trying to change MY world. Also, you need to relieve your mind of any Pollyanna notion that you’re going to change THE world. Faith gives you the power to change YOUR world. As Jesus said to all the people who came to him, “Your faith has made YOU whole.” My faith can’t make anyone else whole. But it does give me the power to be a light to those who desire to escape the darkness.

When you get those three things placed in the correct order, human beings are really delightful, God seems like a wonderful next-door-neighbor, and the universe is absent a devilish vendetta against you.

Redlands, I hope you continue to understand how wonderful you are in your innocence. And if you do forget, perhaps you can refer back to these words I have shared this morning.  Because when you take a need to do better and mingle it with an ability to pursue a goal, you get the power to change YOUR world.

And the fact of the matter is, if we singularly change enough worlds … who knows? Maybe someday we can surprise the planet and change the whole blessed thing.



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