Confessing … November 21st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2753)

XXIX.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

Matt was a minister.

He also was a singer.

He decided he wanted to record what I called a “Twinkie.” It was a 45 R.P.M. record with an A and B side. I called them Twinkies because they were small, delicious and you only had to record two songs to brag about having a record.

Matt came to me because I was only twenty-one years old, sang, played an instrument, had done some vocal arrangements for local gospel quartets, and had written two songs and recorded them, putting out my own Twinkie.

In my little town, I seemed to be a kind of superstar. I enjoyed it. I was a big frog in a cardboard box, content with the air holes provided.

Matt wanted to pay me to produce his record. I said yes.

We had numerous meetings, set a date, and Matt thought that all systems were go.

Here’s the problem: I didn’t do anything.

I didn’t work on the songs, I didn’t hire the musicians, I didn’t even book the studio, although I told him I did.

I lied.

Why? Because I loved the notion of being creative, but despised the footwork.

Matt became a little suspicious. He asked a bunch of questions about the plans. I decided to act offended over his doubt. He immediately backed off.

So Matt arrived at the studio to meet with me on the day I told him we were scheduled, only to discover there was no session planned, and I was nowhere to be found. This was before the time of cell phones and texting, so Matt was stuck with these strangers, hoping I would arrive any minute to straighten things out.

I never arrived.

Matter of fact, I never contacted Matt again.

About six months later, he caught up with me in a shopping mall. I can still remember the chill that went down my spine when he walked up to me and simply asked, “Hey, what happened with the recording session?”

I struggled to make two or three excuses, and he interrupted me and said, “It was really weird. When you didn’t show up, the recording engineer had time available, and he and I sat down together, arranged the music, and I recorded my songs.”

I felt so embarrassed, stupid and strangely affronted. After all, how could Matt make a good record without me?

He didn’t hang around to talk much more.

He just walked away into history.

I learned a lot through that experience, which I continue to still learn.

There is no such thing as talent without integrity. When we attempt to promote it, it ends up being like a lovely sandwich … discovered in a mud puddle.

 

Confessing microphone

 

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Fifty-Two Days … January 28, 2013

Jon Signing(1,774)

I got out my calculator and figured it out–one-seventh of a year.

I just spent one-seventh of a year situated in South Florida to spend Christmas with the family, record a new album and share in a whole bunch of Sunshine State churches before making my departure this morning.

People often talk about evaluating the success of a project or the fruitfulness of an endeavor. The only difficulty with that aspiration is that we can’t keep moving the goal post to accommodate the lack of achievement. (Actually, that may be the secret to bringing America out of its economic and spiritual doldrums–if we could just get people to admit that the present flow of finance and inspiration is lacking, we might become righteously disgruntled enough to DO something about our plight instead of rationalizing it.)

So as I drive up 27 N to take on another hunk of the Floridian countryside, I must ask myself what I thought I wanted to accomplish when I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale over seven weeks ago.  It really boiled down to four missions:

  1. I wanted to enjoy my family.
  2. I wanted to bless all the people I met.
  3. I wanted to increase my productivity by recording an album and getting my video ready for touring in 2013.
  4. And I wanted to make sure my children are growing in the faith, prospering and in good health, “even as their souls prosper.”

So even though it’s silly, I would like to take this morning to give myself a report card. Now, there is a good chance that I will grade myself too generously, but since I don’t have anybody else to come in and score my papers, we’ll just have to be satisfied with my ciphering.

Let’s look at #1–enjoying my family. I think I can give myself an A on that one. I am convinced that being a good father is the correct mixture of hands-off, hands-on and hand-outs. In other words, I want to give my children room to breathe and be themselves while simultaneously intervening when I see them racing toward the edge of a cliff–and never make them feel that if they hit a hard spot, they can’t ask for assistance. I hope they all feel that way. So thus far, so good.

Concerning blessing all the people I meet, this has become a heart’s desire and source of chilling excitement to my soul. At my lodging location during this period, I got to know the maintenance people, the maids and all of the staff–blessing them with a dollar or two from my wallet from time to time, letting them know I appreciate their contributions to my life and that I admire the work they pursue to make a living wage. I certainly could not do it.

I also tried to tenderize my heart even more towards all the congregational members, audiences and sponsors who were gracious enough to allow me a platform to air my thoughts. So I’m going to give myself a B+–mainly because we can always do better at doing better.

Now, concerning increasing my productivity, it was a smashing success, as I slid into my son’s recording studio, producing a new album, and with the assistance of my other son, put out the video of my show. Both the album and the video are now in my van, journeying with me. I really feel that I landed on a bit of inspiration and heavenly breath with both projects. It doesn’t cause me to be prideful, but certainly grateful for the spunk and initiative to bring God to life through art instead of just reading about Him in a book. So I’m going to make that grade an A+. (I’m a little embarrassed because it seems like I’m grading myself very generously. But it was a good 52 days.)

And now for the final step of assuring my own soul that those individuals who sprang from my lineage or have been introduced into it are finding power in their spiritual journey. I think I have to give myself a C- here. The world and the pressure to conform have taken some toll on my little conclave of family. Don’t misunderstand me–they’re beautiful people and I love them dearly, but they are living in a society that has convinced itself that it is cool and intellectual to deny the work of a universal Father. It doesn’t sadden me so much as it makes me realize that they’ve increased the difficulty in their lives by journeying without a map, compass or co-pilot. I think most of them still believe in God–they have just bought in a little bit to the social lethargy which feels snooty by ignoring a divine goodness.

I know they will not like hearing me say this, but I do believe it’s my duty after fifty-two days to warn my friends that the popularity of the moment is never the lasting virtue of the future. God has not gone away. He is often disguised by religion, which wishes to profit from His image more than seeing the world enriched by His wisdom. He’s been nearly mutilated by politics, which has attempted to turn the Almighty into a poster child for everything from abortion to gun advocacy. And He has been locked up in a black leather-bound book, which is so vulnerable in establishing the weaknesses in its heroes and characters that it falls prey to the cynic.

So as I drive on today with my A, B+, A+ and C-, I realize that I have once again ended up where I have often found myself in life–B.

I don’t know. Perhaps maybe I am doomed to be a B movie for eternity. But at least, God has given me the sense of humor, ability to be honest about it while simultaneously refusing to give up–continuing to pray and believe that all things work together for the good.

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Korny, Part II … March 24, 2012

(1,463) 

I wasn’t a dork.

I mean, I had survived ninth grade health class and perused numerous dictionaries and Bible commentaries seeking definitions and explanations. So I knew what “fornication” was. But in that moment, confronted by this pious parson, I experienced a temporary “icing over” of the cerebellum. Maybe it was because I was exhausted, hungry, confused, embarrassed–or just generally surprised that this stranger would ask me about my sex life. But I stalled long enough that the minister thought he’d better elaborate a bit on his original question.

“What I mean by ‘fornicating’ is, we just don’t want any hanky-panky.”

God forgive me, but my young thought waves immediately went to Tommy James and the Shondells, and I nearly burst out into a chorus of “My Baby Does the Hanky Panky.” Fortunately I resisted that impulse, took a deep breath and responded.

“You see, pastor, it’s not that we don’t know that they’re girls and I’m a guy. Matter of fact, when we first met we flirted a lot. But you can’t travel with someone, work closely together and even think about something resembling ministry and have in the back of your mind thoughts of ‘jumping their bones.’ Let me put it to you this way. It’s not very smart to steam up the shower because then it’s hard to see yourself in the mirror.”

I thought it was a pretty cool answer. He just gazed at me, a bit confused–similar to the look my dog gave me when I first purchased a frisbee and suggested we play.

“Okay,” he said. “Just be good.” He turned on his heel and left.

The girls gave a cheer. I silenced them because I knew there was a chance he might return in the next ten minutes, to try to catch us in the first fruits of “hanky” or the throes of “panky.” When he didn’t return, we immediately addressed our hunger. We were starved and all we had left were eight Zesta saltines and three-quarters of a can of Tab. We hunted through the basement for any provisions. At length we found a large can of pork and beans and half a loaf of Wonder bread with six slices not yet sprouting any “green.” We also found a single burner with a frayed cord, which we carefully plugged in the wall so we could heat our beans. We warmed the beans, found a spoon, spread them over our bread, crumbled up crackers on top and had beans-and-cracker sandwiches. They were delicious. (Sometimes I think it’s important to actually reach the point of starvation so you can remember how good food really tastes.)

Dinner was over, and even though we tried to talk and giggle, we quickly grew sleepy. I let the girls have the only couch available. They nestled up, foot to head on either end, and I threw some old coats on the floor and prepared for a night’s sleep.

I couldn’t. Sleep, that is.

The girls were gone in moments, so I quietly rose to my feet, kind of inched my way through the dark to the staircase leading to the sanctuary. It was so quiet. It’s kind of half-spooky and half-heavenly to be in a church late at night. Reaching the sanctuary, I went to the piano and sat down. It was a little chilly so I shivered, placed my hands on the keys and gently played. I felt inspired; I felt empowered. Here I was, sitting in Nebraska in the middle of the night at a piano, doing what I wanted to do, free as a bird, literally full of beans.

I continued to play until a particular series of chords stirred a melody in my mind. I just sang the word, “Jesus,” over and over again, as the chords changed beneath me and the melody submitted to the revisions. I don’t know how long it took me, but soon I had written a new song. I was a little embarrassed because this new composition really only had two words–“Jesus” and “everything.” But it was so pretty. I wondered if I just thought it was pretty because the night was so dark, lonely and peaceful.

So since my eyes had adjusted, I ran down the stairs and woke the girls up, telling them I had a new song. To their credit, they were such troupers for the cause that they were overjoyed, climbed the stairs with me, and we sat in the dark that night, learning a new song together, all of us overwhelmed by the tranquility of the moment and nearly in tears over the simplicity of the melody.

Amazingly, six months later, with many blessings and hard knocks along the way, we found ourselves in a recording session in Hendersonville, Tennessee, at the House of Cash. It was time to record that song that had been written a half a year ago in that small church in Nebraska.

I turned to the girls and said, “What do you say we do it the way it really happened?”

They were a little confused until I reached over and turned off the light in our booth, and with the soundtrack playing in our ears, we joined hands together in the dark and sang that song we had written that night: Jesus Everything. It was so simple; so free of pretense, so completely out of the box from the normal fare of the day. It went on to be one of the most popular songs on our album, receiving air play all across the country.

But to me it will always be that moment of freedom when I climbed the stairs in an old, clapboard country church in Nebraska and let the words and music pour from my heart. Jesus. Everything.

The pastor would be happy to know that there was no fornicating in his church that evening. But we did have a threesome around his piano at his altar that produced some equally exciting results. We were young, we were free, we were creative … and we believed we had the ear of God.

**************

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.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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.

Ed … March 5, 2012

(1,444) 

I was twenty-one years old. My life was a mish-mash of contradictions, colliding into one another, creating what seemed to be a big ball of excitement, which occasionally deflated to just no game at all.

I already had two children, even though I had no visible means of supporting them. You see, I was a musician—a songwriter and singer—bound and determined to continue to be so, in the midst of objections from family, friends, landlords and bill collectors.

It was a confusing time because I had nights of great success, when I would perform onstage with some of the top gospel acts of the day, only to return home to an eviction notice hanging on my door. The big gospel acts loved me because I was willing to bring in my group to warm up the audience for them, and didn’t charge them anything. I was pleased and overjoyed to share for the exposure. Also, I was a lot of fun.

I picked up a few dollars here and there doing vocal coaching and arranging music for local gospel quartets. Yet I was a contradiction in terms. I was talent with no audience—energy dissipated into a vacuum. And I was supposed to be an adult and father of two children, but constantly required a wash cloth to dab the moisture from behind my ears. Just to give you a further idea of the weirdness going on in my life, on the day that I signed one of my songs for publication with a Nashville recording company, I was standing in my small apartment, reading the letter, when the lights went out as the electric company turned my power off for lack of payment.

In the midst of this back and forth existence, I met Ed. He was the pastor of a small church who invited me to come in and share with my group, and he immediately took a liking to me. Well, actually it was more than that. He was so impressed that he asked me if I would help him record some of the songs he had written. So he booked a local studio, requesting that I produce the session and gather and rehearse the musicians. I listened to some of his songs. They were really nice. But remember—I was twenty-one, and on top of being a bit irresponsible, I was also an insecure brat. So privately, to the other members of my group, I chose to make fun of Ed’s material, because for a brief moment, it made me feel big and very important.

But I agreed to do the album with Ed. He was thrilled. He immediately started to work on his voice and songs in preparation. Ed was in his mid-thirties and on the fourth or maybe fifth reincarnation of his dreams, feeling that this present opportunity could be his last. I didn’t understand—I was too young to fathom running out of time.

 Ed got ready and I agreed to meet him there. After making the promise, I went out, and with a combination of babies, traveling and dodging my landlord, I soon forgot Ed. A bit nervous, he called me from time to time and I lied and reassured him that everything was on target and all he needed to do was bring a good voice and relax—that we would have great results.

I meant well. I think there was a part of me that believed that at the last minute I would snatch out some sort of musical miracle and dazzle both Ed and myself with the completed, mysteriously hatched juggernaut. But on the morning that I was supposed to meet Ed at the studio, I had done no arranging, gathered no musicians and had further discovered that I had an appointment and needed to travel to Nashville,Tennessee.

I didn’t even call him.

When I arrived in Nashville several hours later, there was a phone call from Ed. I don’t know how he had tracked me down to my motel, but he asked me where I was. I lied. I told him I was a couple of hours away but I was coming—and looking forward to the session.

I don’t know what I hoped to achieve—maybe I was just treasuring a few more seconds of Ed’s adoration. Two hours later the phone rang and it was Ed. He explained that the studio was charging him for all the time he was waiting for me and he wondered what my estimated time of arrival was going to be. It was time to come clean.

“Listen, Ed, it’s kind of weird but kind of funny, too. You see, I got all tied up in stuff and I forgot that our project was in this month—well, anyway. I had to go toNashvilleand that’s where I am, so I won’t be able to do this today. See if you can reschedule.”

There was silence on the other end. Then Ed finally spoke. “That’s all right,” he said. “Some of the guys here have agreed to help me put my album together. I appreciate your time.”

Ed hung up. I thought about his words. He appreciated my time. I had no time for Ed. Matter of fact, my dear friends, I never gave myself enough time to even feel guilty about what I did to Ed. I went back to pursuing my goals and allowing Mother Nature and my heavenly Father to teach me gradually, over the years, how to be a human being instead of the south end of a donkey.

I thought about Ed today. It’s been thirty-nine years since it happened. I don’t even know if he’s still alive. Years and years ago, I heard through the grapevine that he did make that album, though, and that he was very pleased.

But I thought about him today—because it’s important for me to do so. My life has moved on and I’ve grown. I would never, ever treat a child of God that same way again. Some folks would say, “Why dredge up bad memories? Why put yourself through it? Why reflect upon things that are negative?”

It’s because they’re MY bad memories. They were a painful part of my journey to who I am. And they’re only negative if I stubbornly continue to repeat them.

Yes—the musing of the masses is that it’s useless to feel guilty. I disagree—because quite honestly, friends, guilt is sometimes the only thing that really makes us feel at all.

************** 

Got a question for Jonathan? Or would you like to receive a personal weekly email? Just click my email address below and let me know what’s on your mind! jonathancring@gmail.com

**************

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.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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.

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