The G Series: G-1 … December 6, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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G SeriesIt’s going to be very difficult to have faith that moves mountains if you attempt to maintain a positive attitude that fails to recognize the “rise” in difficulties ahead.

Likewise, if you contend that every Tennessee “smoky hill” is Mt. Everest, you probably won’t do much earth rearranging, either.

For after all, one of the great comedies-in-error is the fact that human beings require a certain amount of balance that they rarely find, or for that matter, are willing to pursue. So instead of analyzing our feelings to find shreds of quality within, we relegate certain emotions as “bad” and others as “good.”

For instance, boredom is normally considered to be a negative in the human family. When we’re bored we become grumpy and immediately try to alleviate the condition by grabbing onto the first roller coaster that zooms through the amusement park.

Yet we consider confidence to be a positive attribute which will propel our wishes and dreams to a conclusion and manifest an obvious victory.

Here’s the truth:

  • When I’m bored it’s because dissatisfaction has warned me that I’ve begun to settle for things that are less than I hoped or are inferior to my abilities.
  • The purpose of confidence is to remind me, in my dissatisfaction, that I have been successful in the past when I’ve ventured into the wilderness of possibility, without every eventuality covered.

I can’t be a complete person if I’m just dissatisfied–I settle into a muddy pit of mediocrity and complaining.

But in like manner, if I have confidence all the time, it will soon be dashed by the reality of competition, trial and tribulation, leaving me running to the corner like a little whipped pup.

It’s the balance of the two.

Every Friday in this G series, we’re going to discuss this balance, which will be one thing we consider to be negative and another we think is positive–which really need to be blended, to generate our human effort through creativity.

I’m dissatisfied, so I will consider, with confidence, what more I can do.

Without dissatisfaction, my confidence is just boasting. And without confidence, my dissatisfaction is merely cranky.

Learn the ways of your human days.

Come face to face with the nature of the race.

And understand that a dissatisfied soul who is able to tap his or her confidence notices that the mountain is small enough that the faith provided …, just might move it.

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

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

When Living Stops and Breathing Continues … November 11, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Aerosol oxygen mask on patient“I just don’t know what to do!”

Be careful.

This statement is not a question. When you hear people speak it aloud, do not assume they are looking for counsel.

Rather, it is a proclamation–a surrender.

Too many individuals have given up on the idea of happiness as being childish and immature, and have settled in to try to achieve contented breathing. They have become so involved with forgiving others, their calling or being overwhelmed with responsibility that they have ceased to pursue the idea of being happy.

Matter of fact, in our art and literature we often decry such an emotion. We like to take people who act happy and portray them as inexperienced and unaware.

But I’m curious–if happiness is not the goal of our earth journey, then why do we think we would be comfortable with it in the afterlife? Wouldn’t we find it unusual? Perhaps redundant? Or would we continue, in eternity, to consider happiness to be “unrealistic” and keep waiting for the sky to fall on us?

If you don’t start believing in happiness now, you will never be allowed to have happiness forever.

So what can you do when the process of forgiving other people and yourself, or pursuing your job and calling with its responsibilities, has sapped all the maple out of your syrup?

Every day of your life, make sure of three things:

1. I am involved in my own choices.

Never sacrifice your ability to decide to either God or man. We gain power, intelligence and creativity when we allow ourselves the privilege of stopping, considering, concluding and moving out on an idea born of our own spirit.

2. I feel joy, which brings strength.

I will take a moment every single day to make sure that I allow joy to be a part of my experience. What is joy? It’s the knowledge that God has everything under control. And what is that control? Nothing can separate us from His love–therefore there is nothing which is truly terminal.

3. I am moving toward what is proving itself to be fruitful.

When I lived in Tennessee we had a tree in our front yard that was proclaimed by the former owners to be a pear tree. Here’s the problem: it never produced pears. I caught myself one day telling a visitor that it was a pear tree. Then I paused, took a deep breath, and said, “Honestly, I don’t know WHAT kind of tree it is. But one thing for certain–it’s NOT a pear tree.”

If your tree isn’t making pears, don’t think that next year will be any better. Pursue what is fruitful, even if it is not immediately to your preference. In the long run you will enjoy success much more than tradition.

  • We must continue to forgive.
  • We should pursue our calling.
  • And taking responsibility for our life is essential for maturity.

But when these three things rob us of joy, turning us into mere “breathing organisms,” we need to restore our choices, regain our strength and pursue our fruit.

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

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

Musing City USA … November 20, 2012

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Just about a third of my life.

Driving down I-65 South yesterday heading to Nashville, I realized I had spent twenty years–in two stints–living in the country music mecca. It gave me pause–because I am not a country music artist, nor really am I what you would call a conventional gospel picker. I am just kind of my own thing, which is often the best excuse for being truly erratic. So I had to ask myself, how did I end up spending so much of my life in this Tennessee capital?

Growing up in Central Ohio, I had a predilection for gospel music, so it did seem logical to me, when I graduated from high school, to at least take a stab at where such sounds were not only permissible, but promoted.

I remember the first time I drove into Nashville and went to Dickerson Pike–to Jimmy Snow’s church. Jimmy Snow is the son of Hank Snow, a legend in the business. I was a punky, inexperienced yokel–but you see, I had this new song, called Resurrection Day, and I decided to perform it with my nervous little green combo–and received a standing ovation from the audience.

I recall the first time I drove to Hendersonville, Tennessee, to record at the House of Cash, and during the session for our album, Johnny, himself, walked in, introduced himself, and struck up more than a polite conversation with us bunch of confirmed nobodies.

I had to laugh to myself when I considered the number of times I walked up and down Music Row, from one publisher to another, sharing my songs with bored office employees, who more often than not, found a bit of glee in dashing my hopes with negative comments.

Then I remembered meeting Dottie Rambo. Dottie was that beautiful combination of earthy, spiritual and humorous which rarely comes our way in the human family and should always be treasured. She loved me–plump bundle of insecurity that I was–and even graciously recorded one of my songs on her album. It’s quite an astonishing honor to have one of the greatest gospel songwriters cover your tune.

Then there was Marijohn Wilkin, who wrote One Day at a Time. She was my mentor and friend. She recorded an album for me that enabled me to chart on the religious radio stations.

Taking another trip up to Hendersonville, my van passed by the city park, where we took a 25-piece orchestra called the Sumner Pops, of our own founding, and in the presence of five thousand folks, put on a July 4th show, melding local talent and our ability at arranging and conducting.

There isn’t a school I pass on the way in that doesn’t conjure a memory of a performance, in which we took a very special show to the young humans, encouraging them to be creative and open-hearted to their fellow-man.

I had a house on Bayshore Drive, where I built a swimming pool, a couple of additions, a circular driveway and tossed in a gazebo. Of course in the long run, it was rather ludicrous, because nomads like myself make very poor landlords. We’re just better with sheep and goats.

Yet in that city, I wrote ten books, recorded fifteen Cd’s and penned thirteen movies. It was a strange sensation to return to Music City after all my touring this year. I’m coming back to have Thanksgiving dinner with my family, which is congregating like a bunch of misguided birds to a location where we can nest and fellowship for a few days.

But as I drove into town, I thought to myself, “I lived here for one-third of my life, but it was never my home.”

The realization did not sadden me. Nashville is a place where I built a house of faith. Sometimes that’s the best we can do, folks. We may not be able to change the world or even redecorate the rooms. The best we can do is leave clear evidence of what we thought was important, what we believed and how fruit was born through our lives.

Nashville was never my home. I saw too much of the underbelly of lingering prejudice and false piety for me to ever embrace the community and kiss it square on the mouth. I saw a false sense of security over Southern hospitality, which was often dished out in sparing helpings to those who had stood in line the longest. I experienced a reluctance to change, simply because the word connoted something other than the fraternity philosophy. I always loved the people, I just didn’t always buy in to the pills that were being swallowed.

It’s good to be back, though. It festers memories, good and bad, joyous and sad, but in all cases, earth-shaking and ultimately fulfilling.

I would like to have been closer to this town where I hung my hat for so many years but I always found it a bit difficult to join into “whistling Dixie”–and maybe it’s just not in my character … to “look away.”

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Just One More… November 17, 2012

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Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia.

All of these places have been my home this year. I have established a temporary address in each one in an attempt to achieve some permanent results. It has been Tour 2012–and it finishes off tomorrow morning in New Albany, Indiana. You will probably never visit New Albany, Indiana. You don’t have to go … because I’ll take you with me.

At one of my stop-offs in Grand Junction, Colorado, a man asked me what my favorite scripture was. I thought he was just trying to make conversation, so I turned the tables on him and asked him to tell me his favorite passage. He said it was a toss-up between for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son” and “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”

I told him I thought those were excellent choices. He pursued. “But what’s your favorite one?”

“My favorite one is found in the gospels,where it reads, ‘and Jesus went to another village.’

He looked at me, perplexed. I didn’t expect him to totally understand. For you see, the power of the gospel does not lie in the establishment of a church–the organization of religion into practices and rituals. The power of the gospel is that it travels well and is best expressed when it’s moving. It’s why Jesus said, “Foxes have holes but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

My traveling enables me to come into a town and love people, bring some incentives, make a few suggestions and exhort the areas where they are pursuing better paths–and then leave, allowing them, as mature people, to assimilate the message into their lives as they deem powerful. The danger of remaining in one community and believing that you can make a difference is that we all have a tendency to settle…and meddle. We “settle” into a series of repetitive actions determined to be normal, and then, when other people don’t follow our structure, we have a tendency to “meddle” in their affairs, taking away their freedom to be who God has made them to be.

Sometimes we use politics, sometimes we use corporations, but usually we use religious conviction as a club, attempting to hammer people into submission to the will of our local village.

It is most unfortunate.

Traveling as I do, I don’t have to “settle” for anything. I can live my life as I choose and share my discoveries with others without feeling the need for them to either condemn or affirm my purposes. Therefore, I don’t hang around long enough to meddle in their affairs or critique their concerns when those particular selections are not to my favor.

So you might ask me how you can do the same thing–to escape “settling and meddling”–and still maintain the integrity of a local post office box. That’s really easy. God gives every one of us a “tour schedule.” The beauty for most of you is that you don’t ever have to leave your own home. That tour schedule is called Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Yes, all of you can be on a tour–as long as everything that happens on Monday is not carried over to your next stop, on Tuesday. So you have your Monday tour and then you climb into your wonderful tour bus of sleep to journey onto your next gig, which is called Tuesday. Now, if you take along the problems of Monday or celebrate too many of the victories, without being fully aware that the next tour stop will have its own conflicts, then you make a huge mistake. But as long as you live within the day, not worrying about tomorrow, and you don’t fuss over the affairs of the last performance from the day before, you can find yourself in the same position I do–touring.

For after all, we’re all just visiting this place anyway. And those who put down their roots too deeply become very dissatisfied, disillusioned and discontented at the brevity of the visitation.

So I have one more stop tomorrow–but actually, I never stop. Because even as I go on to Nashville, Tennessee, to eat Thanksgiving with my family, and then climb back into my van to tour for ten days with a Christmas presentation, to finally, arrive in Miami to spend the holidays with all my kin, I am always moving on. Sometimes it’s just from Monday to Tuesday; sometimes it’s from New Albany, Indiana to Knoxville, Tennessee. The gospel works best when you don’t try to make your location concrete, but instead, understand that we’re all just passing through–one day at a time.

“And Jesus went to another village…”

A lady recently told Janet that she had come to the conclusion that we were homeless. I guess in some people’s minds it might appear that way. Of course, for fifty years now, I have been a follower of a homeless man who ended up traveling around–and in so doing, changed the whole world. I guess I rather admire his choices, and pattern some of mine after them.

So you will find me, for the rest of my life, going to another village. You may follow suit by keeping your favorite pillow but permitting yourself the blessing of traveling from Monday to Tuesday without feeling the need to worry about the former day or be too concerned about the next one.

Just remember one of the great rules of the road: it’s not polite to steal towels from your last lodging.

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Jerrod, Angy and Joel… June 17, 2012

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JERROD

A father offers his love, but it is the child who determines the true nature of the relationship. An intelligent dad doesn’t allow himself to be intimidated or disappointed in that decision. Each one of my sons has defined his own essence and meaning for our interaction. I offer the same continuing stream of love to all of them and they assimilate it into their lives at will–as needed.

One of my sons always wanted to be in the front seat with me. It didn’t matter where I was going, what I was doing or how boring the task. He would leap into the seat next to me, believing each time that we were on the “Magical Mystery Tour.” Because of that, at times he seemed to be more of a comrade-in-arms than merely a fledgling of my flock. He learned, he responded, he believed and even when he met the woman of his dreams, he allowed me to tag along, acting as both cheerleader and chaperone while he pursued her to the shores of California. His name is Jerrod.

Jerrod

Tonight I arrived back from my gig to discover a story from Jerrod in response to my request to have my Father’s Day gifts shared with others instead of bestowed in my direction. This is his tale:

In the Name of the Father

I have always loved when my birthday is, situated almost exactly half way through the year on June 7, the perfect reprieve and excuse to celebrate just as summer begins to peek around the corner. My two daughters have usually just gotten out of school and that gives us even more reason to be joyful and make merry together. I always felt sorry for those people whose birthdays are close to Christmas or other major holidays, because I think it’s hard for it not to get lost in the shuffle. The only disadvantage to the anniversary of my birth is the proximity it usually has to Father’s Day. For instance, this year it is a mere ten days apart. It always seems a bit self-indulgent to ask people to spend their time and resources to commemorate my birth and then turn around a few days later and ask them to spend time and resources commemorating my assistance in others having birthed. But this year thanks to my Dad’s brilliant plan, the fact my Birthday and Father’s day are so cozy in placement on the calendar actually worked to my advantage as a way to bless some dear friends in the name of my Father.

I was invited by a group of friends and co-workers to go out to Lunch in order to acknowledge my arrival on this planet a mere 36 years ago. The plan was to go to lunch and everyone would pay for their own meal and split my portion amongst the attendees.  I went along with this plan, nodding and giving my approval at every turn.  But as we finished the meal I quietly got up and procured the check and paid for the entire brood myself.

Soon after the waitress came by and one of the attendees asked about the check and the waitress told them that I had already paid for it. Then came the half-hearted pleas of “Why did you do that”, “You didn’t have to” and “But it’s your birthday,” to which I quickly replied that “My Dad told me to take what money I would have spent blessing him this Father’s day and instead bless a group of people in his name, so in the name of the best Dad a son ever had…Happy Birthday to me!”

Perhaps I was a little full of myself and the feeling of having blessed these people, but the spiritual symbolism seemed to run pretty deep in my little luncheon. Those who had set out to bless someone else were actually the ones who ended up being blessed. My Dad chose not to receive but instead to give. So I chose not to receive and instead I gave and those that were giving received. Perhaps I was a little over engrossed in the moment, but the look of surprise and confusion that was followed by joy was truly worth every penny. And the best part is that was in the name of the Father…

ANGY

Not only the wife of Jerrod and the mother of our grandchildren, but also, like her husband, when she joined the family, she embraced the mission, and for nearly two years, she traveled the country with Janet and myself as we presented dramatic readings from my novel based on the life of Jesus entitled, I’M … the legend of the son of man.

When I started a program in Tennessee called The Topper, which was merely giving the few dollars and coins at the top of one’s personal checking account to those in need, she has continued it on. She understands that the greatest way to tribute someone you love is to possess one of his fondest notions and make it her own. I just wanted you to know about her, and I just want to thank her on this Father’s Day for honoring me by honoring the principle of giving aid to those less enabled.

JOEL

My final son spent the day in a true action of love. He found himself in a difficult situation, standing firm with a friend in need. I know he did this because he believed that was what was right, and what he was taught to be. He didn’t do it because it was pleasant; he didn’t do it because it was easy, but on this day before Father’s Day, he exemplified the kind of love that friends express to each other.

Joel

At times, when we give our love away, at first it seems like it is merely evaporating into the air, not to be absorbed or even acknowledged. But it is not so. Love never disappears, because love never breaks down from its chemical impact and its spiritual power. His name is Joel and I am very proud of him. And Joel, I can see your gift to me, in the love you expressed to your friends.

Never lose sight of the fact that faith and hope keep the world moving–but it is love that allows us to breathe.

   

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MJ …

Question 3: Can I keep going if it doesn’t get better?

April 27, 2012

 

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

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I met her quite by accident.

I had finally manipulated my way into getting a guest spot on the Teddy Bart Show in Nashville, Tennessee. It was one of those regional talk shows common in the 1970′s and had quite a following in a three or four state area. At least, that’s my memory. The show had never invited a gospel group onto perform before, so it was quite a victory to be appearing on the venue.

It was great. After the performance, I received a phone call from some unknown gentleman who told me that he was a representative for Marijohn Wilkin. I knew the name because she was a fairly well-known songwriter at the time, having just penned, performed and promoted the songs, One Day at a Time (Sweet Jesus) and I Have Returned.The man on the other end of the line said that he had set up a meeting for me with Ms. Wilkin for that very afternoon. He gave me directions and informed me that I needed to be there promptly at 1:30 P.M.

Well, you can imagine–I was thrilled. I had gone from being a Central Ohio boy whom nobody liked because I wouldn’t “work a job” and persisted in pursuing music, to being a fellow who had a group that won some contests, transforming into a bit older guy who had one of his songs signed by a group called The Rambos–a popular gospel group at the time. And now, having just appeared on the Teddy Bart Show, I was being pursued by a successful artist and writer for further consideration.

So as requested, promptly at 1:30 P.M., I, along with my group, arrived at Buckhorn Publishers on Music Row in Nashville, walking in the door like I kind of owned the place and announcing myself to the secretary. She stared down at her appointment book in bewilderment, disappeared into a nearby office and I realized there must be some problem. After what seemed to be an interminable delay, a slight woman finally appeared from the inner office, wearing a scarf on her head, dangling earrings and greatly resembling a gypsy princess. Her voice was husky–like she had been up for two or three nights straight, screaming at a parcel of kids. She was a bit gruff, so she kind of scared me, but through the hoarse voice and gruff mannerisms, I received an invitation to come into her office with my group.

She proceeded to explain that no appointment had been made for us and that the gentleman who called on the phone was an old alcoholic buddy of hers who occasionally pranked innocent boys and girls from Ohio who came to Nashville looking for fame and success, throwing her name around to make himself look important. I was humiliated–devastated. I was in a strange lady’s office who had the entire garb and persona to cast a spell on me.

She didn’t. Instead, she asked to hear our music. We stayed there for the next four hours and talked, laughed and cried. She became my friend. She was my producer. I spent hours and hours at her lovely home on the outskirts of Nashville, talking about music, playing music, meeting famous people and swimming in her pool–warmed to a perfect 98.6 degrees.

I remember many things about that experience, but one of the things I will always take with me is that Marijohn would occasionally fall apart. She wouldn’t show up at work and they would tell me that she was at home, trying to get over “a spell.” When I inquired further, I was given no information, and the attitude was that I should keep my nose to myself. I don’t do that very well, so I decided to drive out one time during one of those spells, to find out what was actually going on. During the drive, I had all sorts of imaginations–drug addiction, alcoholism, and … well, I was young. My brain went kind of nutzoid.

When I arrived, she was alone in her living room with her legs propped up–reading. She welcomed me in and I knelt down next to her, took her hand and asked, “Marijohn, what’s wrong with you?”

She quietly set her book aside and removed her reading classes, looked me in the eye and said, “Son, I have cardiovascular disease. Every once in a while it just hurts to move, think and breathe, and if I just shut down for a season, I appear to get better.”

I asked her if there was anything they could do. She said they were doing that–and more–but still, there were times where nothing worked as well as general “stoppage.” She also said she used those times to write, think and pray–and to look deeply into her soul. She jokingly told me that without the cardiovascular disease she might avoid all of those things.

I felt like I had stepped on holy ground. The room was so quiet, so preciously charged with spiritual energy, that I was unworthy to be there and was an interruption instead of a blessed presence of visitation. She sensed my awkwardness and said, “I’m glad you came. But you must understand–if it weren’t for this problem I have, I would never have written One Day at a Time (Sweet Jesus). I may have never have written anything at all. I would not call this condition my friend, but it is an enemy that fools me from time to time by providing me with unexpected gifts.”

I excused myself, went out and got into my beat-up Volkswagen Beetle with the dent in the nose and headed back to Nashville. I learned something that day. Here was a woman who had no particular prospects of her situation ever getting better, who ignored bitterness, rejected complacency and eschewed self-pity–to continue to produce the gift that life had provided for her.

Since that day, my youthful frame has gained miles of carriage usage. I, too, have developed pains. I, too, have acquired “spells.” And every time I am accosted with my own mortal aching, I remember that morning in that living room, where I knelt by the side of a brave woman who looked on her affliction as an affection that lured her towards beauty.

I try to do it myself. I try to be brave. I try to put my feet up and let life go by for a few minutes, so that God can come in for just a little while.

Marijohn lived for many years. I suppose the cardiovascular disease finally caught up with her and took her for one eternal “spell”–to a place where she could perpetually be creative. I suppose that will happen to all of us eventually.

Until then, our only job remains to keep going–even if it doesn’t get better.

 

Korny, Part II … March 24, 2012

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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.

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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.

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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