Good News and Better News … May 7h, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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West Virginia Jon and Jan

Wedged, Virginia.

Yes, squeezed in between West Virginia and Virginia is the little village of Peterstown, where I was fortunate to spend my Mother’s Day Sunday with the fine brothers and sisters of the Mountaineer State.

I don’t know whether it’s the blessing of aging or a submission of my well-traveled soul, but I seem to be finding greater delight in the human beings around me instead of constantly taking an inventory of their deficits.

I don’t know if the world is getting better or not, but perhaps if I decide to get better, the world might just seem that way.

The good news is that I see a gradual awakening in the American population–an alarm clock going off, letting us know that we’re in need of a new morning. Honestly, no one is springing out of bed to face the day. Most of us are reluctantly reaching over to punch the snooze button, hoping to gain a few more moments of unconsciousness.

But the alarm continues to sound.

It rings in our politics, our racial relationships, our families, our educational system, and certainly in our churches.

As it pertains to the latter, we are mercifully beginning to understand that church is not a dining experience, where we perch, get served a meal, and sit around with our friends discussing the menu and the quality of the attention given to us by the waitress.

Church would be better described as a self-service gas station, where we roll in knowing we need fuel, but understanding that we’re going to have to give something to get it.

That’s what I sensed Sunday morning with the Peterstown conclave.

They might be willing to be served–but they also were completely open to the idea that it is their turn to give back to the system.

God did not create human beings to worship Him. The angels had already filled that position. God created human beings for companionship and to replenish the Earth.

So every minute we spend in His house, we should enjoy sweet fellowship among our friends and great conversation with our Heavenly Father, preparing ourselves to replenish the Earth.

And what does “replenishing the Earth” mean?

Giving back just a little more than we take.

So I come out of my experience in “Wedged, Virginia” rejoicing over the alarm that is awakening our culture from a deep sleep of emotional and spiritual lethargy.

That’s the good news.

The better news is that we human beings are always smarter, sharper and funnier when we’re involved–instead of sittin’ on our butts, waiting for the dinner rolls to be served.

West Virginia Composite 2

 

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Ask Jonathots … May 5th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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What causes some siblings to grow up to be friends and others not? I’m forty and I’m not close to my sister at all. I have two teenage daughters, and I’m wondering what I could do to help them grow up to be friends. Your thoughts?

Perhaps one of the more egregious errors in our culture is the notion that the nuclear family is meant to remain intact.

It causes more stress, misgivings, grudges, insecurity, mishap and even murder than any other predicament facing our species.

If I were a coal miner in West Virginia, was unfortunately involved in a cave-in and spent nine days under the earth with eight other people, we would become very close. Matter of fact, we would share dreams, aspirations, prayers and any food and water available to sustain one another.

Yet to think that after I left that cave of impending death I should continue those relationships with my fellow-prisoners outside the mishap would be ridiculous, forced and disappointing.

For a season we share common goals and aspirations with our family. That experience can range from survival to ecstasy.

But humans are meant to come out of this cocoon and bloom in our individual lives, to start our own families, sustaining our species with new possibilities.

Some sisters have memories of the time when they grew up in the same house, but their journey takes them in completely different directions, with new friends, causing the old encounters to bring fond memories but not needful continuation.

Other sisters stay in the same communities, and it’s like their new families are extensions of the older rendition.

One thing is certain–it evolves naturally and cannot be manipulated through false emotion or guilt.

We must understand that for some people, the memory of their birthing family is pleasant but irrelevant, pleasant but valuable, pleasant but in the past.

For others such recollections are unpleasant and degrading, unpleasant and unnecessary, and unpleasant and harmful.

It is always better to look at the family of our youth as the ship that brought us to the New World. Sometimes that ship can sit out in the harbor of our environment as a memory of great times. And sometimes the ship is so full of holes that it needs to be sunk.

You can’t help people to be friends. Friendship is always based upon mutual concerns.

But what you can do is maintain the better parts of every experience as you launch out into newness of life.

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Cracked 5 … May 3rd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Things I Saw When I Came to West Virginia

A. Country roads

 

B. Coal miner’s son

 

C. A sign: “You are now leaving East Virginia”

 

D. blue, Ridge Mountains (keep them in your prayers)

 

E. Almost heaven 

Cracked 5 Mountain

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The Difference… July 7, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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huntington pianoOften the difference between success and failure is the voice within that gains our full attention.

I was twelve years old. A traveling gospel quartet came to our church and sang, with a pot luck dinner following. Everybody went to the fellowship hall–except I grabbed three of my friends, went into a nearby Sunday School classroom which had an old Huntington upright piano, and I tried to get the four of us to sing like the quartet we had just observed.

After a while we became loud and boisterous, so one of the deacons popped his head in and rebuked us for failing to be part of the church family through enjoying an “afterglow” with the gospel singers. My three friends slunk away with the avenging deacon and I pretended to follow–but then slipped back to the room and just played the piano more quietly, so as not to be heard.

That night made a difference to me.

Several years later, a minister and counselor told me I should forget my girlfriend, who had gone away to college in Arizona. He said she obviously did not love me,  and was afraid I was going to make a fool of myself by continuing to contact her. Little did he know that I had already purchased a student/standby airplane ticket to Tucson, Arizona, He was also completely unaware that my girlfriend was pregnant with our child. That was forty-three years and four sons ago.

I chose a different path. It made all the difference.

Up until the time I was eighteen years old I had never even thought about composing a song. Matter of fact, some of my friends chided me because I was always singing the hits of my favorite groups over and over again. But one day, in the back room of a loan office, where there was a piano, I perched myself, and in less than three hours I wrote two songs of my own making.

That was many writing sessions ago, and hundreds of songs. But that day made the difference.

I borrowed twenty dollars one night to go to a contest in West Virginia with my singing group. Everybody said we wouldn’t have a chance. We went down there and won. They were wrong.

That trip made a difference.

I wiggled my way around to get my group, Soul Purpose, an appearance on a Nashville, Tennessee, television program called the Teddy Bart Show. No gospel group had ever been on, but we worked at it and worked at it until we finally got invited. Afterwards I received a phone call which led to a beautiful working relationship with Marijohn Wilkin, leading to my first national album.

The difference.

I have never achieved anything in my life by playing it safe. I honestly have never found any lasting peace or purpose by pursuing the consensus of those who always seek the higher ground for fear of a flood of creativity.

Of course, I have left out the tales of woe and pain caused by such a flamboyant philosophy. Not every escapade into the unknown was a striking of gold. But it didn’t keep me from going. It didn’t keep me from trying. And it didn’t keep me from believing that life is short–and the only way we elongate it is by playing it too safe and making it so boring that it’s interminable.

It’s the difference.

It’s the ability to hear the voice within you and the confidence to believe that somehow that messenger has been with God and has come to bring a special-delivery mission your way.

It is audacious, it is often over-bearing, it is occasionally lonely–and it is certainly bizarre to those who choose a safer path.

But it isthe difference.

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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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