Things I Learned from R. B. (April 5th, 2020)


Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 10

We decided to settle into Shreveport, Louisiana, where I took a job as a professor at a Bible college, teaching drama and also Music Director at the adjoining church.

The college was very small—only twenty students—and the church maintained a faithful fifty. But it garnered me living quarters and a small weekly stipend.

I took the opportunity because I thought “college professor” would look good on my resume.  I also speculated that it would give me several months to think things over before the evangelical church, which financially supported the college, grew tired of me and my creative ways.

R. B. accompanied us, but only in body—somehow absent the heart and soul which had once plumped him up into being human. The misadventure in Minnesota had left him defeated, devoid of confidence. So upon arriving in Shreveport, he found a young couple who had an extra room, and he moved in.

Although he was only ten blocks away from us, we gradually lost contact.

He despised the director of the Bible college and came to church services very infrequently. I did not agree with him about the founder of Hope Bible College,  even though the man wore cowboy shirts, bolo ties, boots and stabled two horses on his property. He and I were not a natural match, but still maintained a strange respect based upon the fact that he yearned for my youthful intervention at his dream institute.

And I certainly loved having my rent paid and enough money to fund my addiction to lunch meat.

There was a small dormitory on site which housed six students. One was the onsite janitor, whom the college touted as “recovering from mental retardation.” He was not really challenged—just a young kid with the shit intimidated out of him. There was also a black student, fulfilling Hope’s MLK moment. And then there were four gentlemen who certainly, in the real world, would have been prescribed anti-depressants, but were instead being sustained by prayer-healing.

Now, I knew my stay would not be long, so I launched.

I wrote two original plays and staged them in a small auditorium where we built a stage and I wired in two banks of overhead colored lights. The proctor of our “college-ette” was thrilled beyond measure when we presented the first play, and not only was the auditorium filled to the brim, but the local newspaper arrived to review it.

Yet R. B. only showed up when I asked him to play organ in the church. He arrived attempting to play with a black gospel-jazz flair. Unfortunately, R. B. was not black, nor jazzy.

In a nutshell, he was frustrated and confused.

He took up smoking, started to socially drink (which the congregation found quite unsociable) and he was touchy. I guess “touchy” was an old-time word we used when a human being was always ready for a fight. For R. B, a grimace had replaced his grin.

My stay at this institute of higher learning turned out to be seven months. It was eventful, troubling, and even though the president of the college loved my talent, he hated the challenge and the competition.

Truth of the matter is, so did I. I was weary of having ideas that had to come under the bar of religious prejudice.

So I left Hope on agreeable terms. R. B. gladly left with me.

I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I was not madly in love with Shreveport, but even less inclined to pack up one more time and darken the road. My wife had a job; my kids had schools.

So I stayed—and so did R. B.

But it wasn’t a mutual friendship holding us together. Rather, it was the need to hold onto one another during a mutual disintegration.

1 Thing That Gives People Permission to Respect You

 

Confidence is humility with a provable resume.

Many times when I listen to political candidates struggle to make a case, their speeches are filled with “I did this” and “I did that” and “I passed this” and “I promoted that” and “I was the first one” or “I was the last one.”

Very few things in our lives are accomplished without the generosity of outside influence.

I learned early in my career that I write the song, but he signs it, she records it, we promote it and they buy it.

It leaves very little room for conceit.

This is a good thing.

Because being sure of your own ability only causes others to privately and quietly root against you.

Yes, I do it.

I see some athlete or popular artist brag about their accomplishments and I immediately want to see them fall on their faces.

Shame on me. Yet, I don’t think I’m alone. Considering the fact that the human race mostly admires those who are members of the band, instead of those on a street corner blowing their own horn, we should learn the power of humility.

Humility does not diminish your worth.

On the other hand, confidence that ends up being false makes you look like a fool.

Humility does not diminish your opportunity.

Yet confidence that cannot follow through and deliver thrusts you to the back of the line.

Humility just walks around carrying a provable resume in its briefcase.

Then, when opportunity decides where to knock, confidence is prepared to demonstrate its wares, pass the audition, or if necessary, open the briefcase and display the evidence.

Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly donation for this inspirational opportunity

 

Jiggle or Pray… May 26, 2013

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starcraftI’m really not quite sure why he did it.

For some reason, he took a liking to me.  He owned this beautiful, 24-foot, Starcraft motor home, which was sitting around his front yard, so he offered it to me to travel in with my three friends as we began to try to become artists, forces of nature and the next creative miracle in the music field.

I was only twenty-three years old. It is doubtful that I should have been entrusted to deliver a ham sandwich to an office building, but for some reason, this guy saw something in me–or he just had the kind of attitude that made him not worry about material possessions.

There was one stipulation to our deal. He had to pay a $178 per month payment on a loan for the motor home, which included insurance. I know a mere $178 a month sounds like a real bargain–but when you consider the fact that I couldn’t afford to purchase that ham sandwich I mentioned in the previous fictitious comparison, then you will understand my plight.

I had just enough talent to gain the attention of some big names in the Christian music field, so they invited me to come to Jesus USA, a festival being held in Pennsylvania, featuring the biggest names in the industry of the day. They explained that they couldn’t promise me a slot for performing on the show, but they would guarantee me that if I didn’t show up, there would be no chance to gig.

So I hopped in my motor home, putting together all my nickels, dimes and quarters–even scrounging in my couch pillows–and drove my motor home to Pennsylvania. When we arrived, we found that you needed a backstage pass to enter, but due to the beauty of our motor home, they assumed we were part of the show and waved us on.

I parked alongside the other gospel buses and soon became a popular hangout because our air conditioning actually worked and it was a very hot August day. Yet about three hours into our little excursion into the world of fame and notoriety, we discovered that our motor home wouldn’t start. That’s not exactly accurate–the key wouldn’t even turn in the ignition.

We didn’t know what to do. But being very young, at a Jesus festival, and obsessed with religious power, we started praying. We fervently supplicated to the heavenly Father on behalf of our starter, and then tried it. We did this again and again–for over two hours. Nothing happened. The key would not turn.

Being a bit immature, I hit my hand against the steering wheel in frustration, prayed one last time, reached for the key … and it turned. I was convinced we had experienced a miracle.

Just then one of the roadies from the stage crew stepped into our motor home and asked if we needed someone to help with our vehicle. We explained our problem and how we had prayed it away. He smiled and said, “That’s great. But if it happens again, what you need to do is jerk your wheel sharply to the right. It frees up the starter so it’ll work again.”

I tried to start my motor home and again the key wouldn’t budge, so I attempted the roadie’s trick. It worked beautifully.

I know it sounds silly, but part of me was disappointed that we hadn’t conjured a miracle, but that instead, in my fit of despair, I had beat some sense into the steering wheel.

I also must report that we never got to perform on the stage at the festival, but we did make a lot of friends.

Yet I learned a very valuable lesson that weekend: there’s a time to jiggle and there’s a time to pray. And the sooner you learn the difference, the less frustrated you will be and the less confused about moving in the will of God.

Here’s a good clue–if it was made in heaven and created by God, I would suggest you pray about it. If it was made in Detroit, I would recommend you jiggle it.

If I hadn’t gone through that lesson that day, I would never have learned the trick with the steering wheel. And as it ends up, I wouldn’t have been able to help about a dozen people over the years who were experiencing the same phenomenon and were desperate for some advice.

Always remember–God is in the jiggle AND the prayer. The God of mercy and miracles is also the God of knowledge and wisdom.

Don’t be afraid to try out both aspects of His resume.

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

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Jonathan’s thinking–every day–in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.!

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https://jonathots.wordpress.com/jonathots-jr/

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

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