Good News and Better News … May 30th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog


Mt Pisgah 3Pastor John Crawford had decided to retire.

While in the midst of considering what would be his favorite chair, he was urgently “recalled” to help out at the Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church near Verona, Virginia.

It was a temporary assignment that has lasted for twelve years.

I was fortunate to be invited to share with the delightful congregation and Pastor John this past Sunday morning.

The people are the salt of the earth, unfortunately living in a time when the masses prefer pepper.

Yes, we are a generation who has convinced ourselves that we are happiest when we portray reality as being dissension, describing politics as deception, and fostering religion that has more verse than rhyme.

So as I settled in to play music and chat with these inspiring individuals, I wanted to make sure I kept it simple–not because they were incapable of complexity, but because I am incapable of complexity.Mt Pisgah 2

If it’s necessary to make things difficult to find solutions, please do not contact me.

I’ve read the Bible through enough times that I have discovered there’s a central theme. Such a golden stream of understanding can never be achieved by focusing on a few passages here and there which seem to back your favorite prejudice.

The central theme I’ve discovered is that God will have a kind people, or no people at all.

Yes, I’m telling you–God is love until you get Him really frustrated. At that point He is described as a consuming fire. And what really sparks His blaze? Unkindness.

In our society, we now believe that the tougher you look, the meaner you act and the more aggressive you become, the better off you are in this dangerous climate.

Holy hogwash. It’s about being kind. Which, by the way, begins with the word “kin.”

Yes, to be kind you have to learn how to treat everyone you meet as kin.

This means you will continue to love them through their quirks, their preferences, their ideologies or even, God forbid, their diverse choices in baptism.


Mt Pisgah 1For instance, I can never pray to my Heavenly Father unless I’ve already expressed kindness to His children. I even exaggerate it–especially when I’m feeling grumpy and my natural inclination is to spit at the world around me. Instead, I keep my saliva to myself, pucker up and force a kiss.

Case in point, driving to the church yesterday, a young man came behind my van, honking at me. I was a little surprised so I slowed up, thinking I must be doing something wrong. This infuriated him even more, causing him to pass me and give me the finger as he zoomed by.

Now, when I was younger I would have been aggravated at this assault to my person. But in my present mindset, I land somewhere between baffled and amused. (Because if he’s going to give me the finger over my slow driving, he should be around when my real faults show up.)

The good news is that being kind–treating all souls as your kin–is guaranteed to produce pleasure in the heart of God. There may be other things you can do to make Him happy, but they are completely negated if you are unkind.

The better news is that kind is not nearly as exhausting as mean.

Mt Pisgah 4 

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A Chili Reception … February 20, 2012

Suddenly it all made sense.
As I gazed into the container tenderly caressing my luncheon possibility, I realized how it all came to be. For you see, this weekend I found myself in Rose Hill, Texas, during the annual, nearly world-famous chili dinner, which also featured everyone wearing western clothing and cowboy hats–and of course, in addition, Janet and I were there performing. (I don’t say this as a lamentation. For after all, even third billing does get you into the party.)
The people I met were fantastic. Now, I do understand that the word “fantastic” doesn’t really mean anything, similar to such other descriptions as “wonderful,” “really great,” “neat,” “interesting” and one of my favorites–“appropriate.”  So let me tell you what I mean by fantastic.
I discovered that the people of Rose Hill,Texas, made a great pot of people, so it should have come as no surprise that they concocted an equally inspired pot of chili. And what struck a chord in the music of my heart was how much the ingredients that go into being good chili-makers are also necessary in the process of generating good human beings.
Because when I arrived at my motel room to enjoy the chili I had purchased from the establishment, I immediately recognized three outstanding attributes of the concoction:
1.  It was obviously put together by humans who possessed willingness. How do I know that? Because of the way it was presented, the flavor and the texture. Somewhere along the line in “Chili Making,  One,” somebody turned to all the constituents and said, “Listen, we’re going to take this first year and learn what everybody likes, and we darned tootin’ better be willing to change.” My dear, sweet friends–don’t ever forget that willingness may be the most important ingredient that goes into making either chili or people. Because if you’re not willing to change, you’re going to end up digging your heels in and having only friends who are related to you and are therefore stuck with you, and serving a pot of chili that no one likes but you and yours. I say this to you because this particular batch of chili that was given to me was so thick with meat that it could have passed for Sloppy Joe or good barbecue. Somebody told these folks that the best part of chili is the hamburger meat, and rather than arguing with their customers, they decided to comply.
2. The second thing I noticed about my delicious lunch was that they separated the beans from the rest of the chili, placing them in a different container, just in case you didn’t like beans with your chili. You could put in as many beans as you wanted to, and adjust it to your liking. A chill went down my spine as I reveled in the knowledge that I was in the presence of people with awareness. Because after you have a willingness and you know there may be a need to change, you must have the awareness to acknowledge and follow through on the better choice. After all, we all know people who tell you what they should be doing, yet we are fully cognizant that they have no intentions of ever doing it. Not the good folks of Rose Hill. They separated their beans from their chili. So if you wanted chili with beans, you could stir them in to your heart’s content. And if you wanted it more “meaty” than “beany,” you could keep your beans on the side and nibble like a hamster. It also amazed me that the chili just had a little zing to it, but not enough pepper in the pot to scare away novices and those of delicate palate. You can always add more hot sauce, but it’s difficult to take it away. I was almost tearful about the amount of awareness the good folks of Rose Hill had put into their recipe. They had a wilingness to change and an awareness of the better choices.
3. And finally, as I sat there and ate my chili in utter delight (with a FORK, may I add–that’s how thick it was), I realized that some absolutely enlightened people had put a tremendous amount of affection into each and every bowl. Now, what is affection? “I will love myself enough to love you. I will not serve you a bowl of chili that I would not want to gulp down myself. I will put the best of what I have into what I do in order to guarantee a smile on your face.” And my grin was made even broader by the fact that the amount of food they gave me was enough to turn into a second meal sometime later in the week–due to their generous concept of a serving.
I so appreciated the folks in Rose Hill, because as we worshipped God together, they had a willingness–knowing that all of us need to change. They fostered an awareness. In other words, if you gave them a better choice, they were ready to move in that direction. And they generated legitimate affection–they loved themselves enough to include me.
And the beautiful thing is, it even showed up in their chili.
So as I finish my stay in this part of Texas, I will always remember the “chili reception” I received in Rose Hill–certainly not in the sense of being given the cold shoulder, but because fine folks had the willingness, awareness and affection to receive my message–and also to put the same loving kindness in their chili.
So if you ever come to this area of Texas, don’t forget to enjoy some Rose Hill chili. It is tried, tested and proven to be people-friendly. And let’s be honest–if we’re not people-friendly, it’s very difficult to get God’s approval anyway.
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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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