Monday, January 9, 2017

C'MON! (Chapter Fourteen: 5th Anniversary Follow-Up)‭‭‭‭‭

C'MON!
My Story of Rock, Ruin and Revelation
(The 5th Anniversary Edition)
- Christopher Long -

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Greetings, and welcome to the final installment of the FREE online 5th Anniversary Edition of my book, C'MON! — My Story of Rock, Ruin and Revelation.

When I sat down to write C'MON! in 2011, I had no idea that my first faith-based book, would be so well-received. It's been incredibly rewarding and truly humbling to hear how my personal story has touched the lives of others. It's been described as The Wonder Years-meets-The Wall at a Big Tent Revival, and I've enjoyed slicing-up and serving this expanded edition — chapter by chapter, each and every Monday since last September.
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CHAPTER FOURTEEN
5th Anniversary Follow-Up

What Happened Next?
It's a question I get asked all the time from readers after finishing C'MON! Did I slip up and fall back into the darkness of my past? Did I move forward in my walk with Jesus Christ? Did I ever get to chill with Mick Fleetwood? SO many questions left unanswered.

Well, my life has continued to be something of a roller-coaster ride since C'MON! was released in January 2012. I chronicled many of these more recent escapades in my 2014 book, Shout it Out Loud. But so much more has played out even since then — experiences that have provided me with many unique stories and have produced an array of keen personal perspectives.

Released in 2014, Shout it Out Loud
is the sequel to C'MON!
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Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'
I wake up every morning delighting in the possibilities of the day — awaiting eagerly for opportunities to reflect the light of Jesus Christ. For those who don't speak Christianese, that means I'm psyched every day to connect with folks by showing them love — offering kindness, compassion, forgiveness, patience and understanding — that's Jesus. In fact, Jesus himself told us that loving others is one of the two greatest commandments. So when your legalistic (i.e. ultra-religious) neighbor or family member tries putting the guilt trip on you for wearing your favorite Ozzy T-shirt or for watching an "inappropriate"  movie, relax — you gave that hungry, homeless guy your last $20 yesterday, and you no longer suffer from road rage. Heck, you even hugged that woman who cut in front of you at Starbucks this morning. For that, Jesus and I say, "BRAVO!"

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your
God with all your heart, all your soul, and
all your mind. This is the first and greatest
commandment. A second is equally important:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire
law and all the demands of the prophets are
based on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT)  

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Jungleland
I'm extremely grateful to all the church leaders, financial supporters, Customs agents and beer joint managers who have afforded me opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with folks around the world in recent years. From the troubled teens living in dysfunctional homes who I mentor in Youth Ministry to the lost and lonely adults who approach me with prayer needs while working as a nightclub DJ to the countless poverty-stricken families to whom I've ministered while on international missionary trips, I know first-hand what a dark place the world can be — filled with hurting and broken people. But be sure, not even the misguided zealots who have implored me to "shut up" will dissuade my continued efforts.

My 2014 missions trip to Nicaragua
was particularly rewarding.
Old Time Religion
I've said it before and I'll say it again — religion has NOTHING to do with Jesus. In fact, it was the religious tight-asses of the day who crucified Him. Simply put, religion is a scary and crazy, man-made trap designed to crush and condemn. Jesus didn't like religion and I don't either. Jesus does, however, have EVERYTHING to do with "relationship." Religion is a punch in the nut sack that says, "YOU'RE BAD!" Relationship is a loving hug that says, "YOU'RE FORGIVEN."

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Remember the venerable Gospel hymn, "Old Time Religion?" Well, despite appearing to be Godly from a distance, this Sunday-go-to-meetin' standard actually is one of the most jacked-up and down-right dangerous songs ever written. Yet SO many of us grew up having that toxic swill poured down our throats and then forced to regurgitate the poisonous lies in unison. C'MON NOW EVERYBODY —SING ALONG!

So what's the problem? Well, for starters, the word "religion" appears in the song 18 times. The word "Jesus" appears ZERO times. And while I'm at it, per the legendary lyrics, "religion" was NOT "tried at the fiery furnace" — faith was. And contrary to the song's most harmful line, "religion" does NOT "take us all to Heaven" — faith does. And faith is our steadfast belief in Jesus Christ — based on what? That's right — relationship. NOT RELIGION!

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor:
the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this
Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’
I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.”
Matthew‬ ‭9:12-13‬ ‭(MSG)

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Get Behind Me, Satan
After generating so much negativity in 2010 with my dopey first book, A Shot of Poison, I was thrilled to be finally sharing a positive story when C'MON! first arrived in stores and online in 2012. I was humbled immediately by the warm and glowing reader reviews the book received from hard-working parents, retired grandparents, successful business people, aspiring band dudes and others — all offering heartfelt words of encouragement, such as "thought-provoking," "brutally honest" and "a beautiful testament." One mother in particular even recommended C'MON! to Amazon customers as a "must-read" for ALL teenagers. I really loved that one!

Conversely, I was quite taken aback by the hurtful words hurled at me online from (Argh, not again!) — fellow Christians. (You know, the religious ones.) There I was, a rather unlikely guy with a pretty darn interesting story, who had gone to exhaustive lengths to write and publish a personal testimony that pointed ultimately squarely at Jesus Christ, yet some of the people who should have been applauding the loudest were actually standing around wringing their hands — challenging my credentials, questioning my sincerity and even calling me names. This was rather curious to me. As someone who now holds a couple of degrees in Bible Studies, I know that none of Jesus' hand-picked disciples were theologians. In fact, they were "average Joe's" — working stiffs. Heck, Peter was plucked right off the boat by Jesus himself, and Matthew was a freaking tax collector — one of the most despised professions of all-time. So, despite the sting-factor, I've had to ignore certain criticism. "Get behind me, Satan," indeed.

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I Saw the Light
The most spot-on, inspirational song EVER, is "I Saw the Light." Interestingly enough (to me, anyway), this powerful, life-changing tune was NOT written by a New York Times Best-Selling mega church guru with a porcelain smile. It was written by the iconic, rock star junkie, Hank Williams — during an alcohol-induced stupor in 1947.

I wandered so aimless life filled with sin. I wouldn't let my dear Savior in.
Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night. Praise the Lord I saw the light.
Hank Williams

Hank Williams was not an ordained pastor, nor did he (to my knowledge) hold any theological degrees. Strip away the rock star legend, and Hank Williams was simply an honest guy with a pure testimony — much like you, much like me. I wonder if any religious "scholars" ever told Hank Williams to "shut up." I'll have to ask him, someday

Live and Snotty
I dedicated much of C'MON! to recounting my experiences as the founding frontman for the award-winning rock band, Dead Serios. At the time I first wrote the book, the "rock band dude" chapter of my life finally had come to a close — and I had hoped that it would stay that way — honestly. Then, just prior to the Dead Serios 30th Anniversary, the phone began ringing again. This time, the offers seemed too appealing to pass up.

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Reuniting with Dead Serios
for the 2014 '80s in the Park
festival was sorta fun - kinda.
In 2014, we were invited by a Florida concert promoter to reunite and perform alongside such chart-busting acts as Great White and LA Guns at the annual outdoor '80s in the Park festival. Surprisingly, after having not played a proper show in nearly six years, Dead Serios hit the stage like a well-oiled, world-class machine. And although the event itself was something of a disorganized "cluster," our rock-solid performance led to a subsequent short-run of reunion shows, including a 30th Anniversary appearance at Melbourne's prestigious King Center for the Performing Arts in January 2015. The concert was shot live and released a few months later as a home DVD, entitled Live and Snotty.

Live and Snotty - the first-ever
Dead Serios home DVD.
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Shortly after our 30th Anniversary show, the folks at Ghoul Tone Records released, They're Not Joking, an all-star Dead Serios tribute CD. The ten-song collection features contributions from an array of local, regional and national music artists. A surreal honor, to be sure.

Never in a million years did I ever think
there would be a Dead Serios tribute record.
CRAZY!
As for the future — who knows. I attempted once again to drive a stake through the band's heart by staging what needed to be our final show in September 2015. But as I've learned over the last 32 years, when it comes to Dead Serios, NEVER rule out ANYTHING.

Although the posters read,
"The Return of," this was meant
to be the LAST Dead Serios show.
HONEST
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Something Old, Something New
2015 was another exciting year in terms of my entertainment exploits, as I was out covering oodles of live concert events for Ink19.com throughout the year. Thanks to my friend, Robyn Sawczyn, in March I enjoyed the dream-come-true experience of finally meeting my all-time drum hero, Mick Fleetwood. Although I've found most rock stars over the years to be nasty, greed-driven ego-freaks, Fleetwood was (at least in that moment) quiet charming and personable.

Chillin' with Mick Fleetwood in 2015.
(Bucket List nearly complete!)
While attending the Orlando Warped Tour show in July 2015, I discovered Jule Vera — a fresh-faced young band from Alabama — a snappy combo that writes and records actual songs and plays real instruments that are enhanced by angelic vocals. A gift from God, for sure. #GreatestBandOnEarth

Pre-concert interview with Jule Vera.
(Orlando, FL -  November 2015)
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I also remained busy in 2015, writing several faith-based features for my own website. I posted links (below) to a few of my best. If you can possibly manage the time, I'd be honored if you took a looksie.


And Then...
In 2016, I celebrated my 12th Anniverary of sobriety, while remaining focused on and dedicated to Youth Ministry at Central Life Church through the weekly CLS (Central Life Students) get togethers, as well as the annual Forever Young summer youth camp outings. Blessings for ALL of us kids!

Q: What's cooler than connecting with kids at church?
A: NOTHING
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My now 23-year-old son, Jesse, had left the nest back in 2013 and moved to Colorado, where he's now living his own life and doing quite well. But in 2016, the time was right for him to travel back to Florida for an extended visit. Good times, for sure!

THREE GENERATIONS
With my son and my dad in 2016.
In addition to moving forward with my fiction debut, Superstar, in 2016 I also connected with co-founding Misfits drummer, Joey Image, regarding the development of his riveting memoir. I was hooked immediately upon reading his initial drafts, and I had to be involved with the project — this guy has a story! Although schedules have been a bit hectic as of late, I expect to begin pitching polished proposals of both of our books to prospective agents and publishers later this year.

With Joey Image - summer 2016.
(This guy has a story!)
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Early in my story, I referenced my fascination (obsession) with radio as a kid growing up in Springfield, Missouri and Orlando, Florida during the early to mid '70s. Well, in an odd chain of events, I was offered the opportunity to launch my own Internet radio show in November 2016. Billed as a weekly two-hour celebration of all things classic country, MY COUNTRY with Christopher Long, is heard every Sunday night from 9-11 (EST) on the Real Country Radio Network.

On the air, with my fabulous MY COUNTRY
co-host, Miss May, in November 2016.
And Finally...
Rock and roll exploits, radio shows, book signings — it's often good fun. And while global missions trips and local Youth Ministry is incredibly rewarding, at the end of the day, it all comes down to salvations. The really cool thing is, NOBODY'S beyond the reach of Jesus Christ. And since the release of C'MON! I've seen people who I would NEVER have expected, come to Christ.

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A crew guy from my days touring with Poison reached out to me in 2012. Simply put, he was one evil dude — a gun-toting, coke-dealing, chick-pimping bad guy. We spoke on the phone for some time, as I "shared Jesus" with him openly. He even attended church with me a week or two later, but I never heard from the guy again. Then, out of the clear blue, three years later, I received another call from the same guy. He revealed how he'd received Christ recently and was relocating from Los Angeles, back to Florida for a fresh start. Within a few weeks, he was living once again in Florida and attending church services with me on a weekly basis. And on Easter Sunday 2015, I walked the meanest man I've ever known into the Atlantic Ocean and witnessed his baptism. Now that's some CRAZY Jesus "hocus-pocus"stuff, right there!

Then there's my buddy, Bobby, who plays guitar in one of my area's top metal-type bands. Since I first met Bobby, he's been one of my favorite people. However, there was nothing about him that indicated to me that he was a believer — until the night he barged into my DJ booth at Siggy's and confessed how much he enjoyed reading my online, faith-based content. He further revealed a list of Christian books he'd read recently. Then, the son-of-a-gun started dropping Scripture. I reached for my Bible that I keep with me at all times and highlighted, labeled and dated the verse so I'd never forget that moment. Like Hank Williams, Bobby is no theologian — he's just a good-time rock dude who plays loud guitar and loves Jesus. Doggonit, I love those kinda guys!

In his kindness God called you to share in his
eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after
you have suffered a little while, he will restore,
support, and strengthen you, and he will place you
on a firm foundation. All power to him forever!
Amen.
1 Peter 5:10-11 (NLT)

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Doug Gibson (aka Doug E.G.) had been playing lead guitar in Dead Serios since 1990. On the Melbourne, Florida rock scene, this guy was / is a god. In fact, there was even a popular hometown drinking game created in Doug's honor. I considered him not only a creative, musical partner, but also a brother. Like most rock dudes with whom I've worked, Doug struggled with some "stuff" over the years, but he always "delivered." Unfortunately, Doug "hit the wall" so to speak almost immediately following our 2014 set at '80s in the Park, and we had to play our final shows in 2015 without him. So I was delighted when we ran into each other in late 2016 and I learned that Doug not only had accepted Christ, but he also now was serving at his church.

Within a few days, Doug and I got together at our local Starbucks and spent an hour or two catching up properly. This guy was so on fire for Jesus that I felt like a phony just sitting in his presence. We talked about Bible scriptures, church service and our personal testimonies. And the subject of Dead Serios NEVER even came up. C'MON!

THE PERFECT ENDING!
Two little old rock dudes, hanging out,
having coffee and talkin' about Jesus.
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Closing Thoughts
Now that C'MON! has arrived at its conclusion, I want to invite and encourage readers to share their personal reviews. Even if you didn't connect with my story, all online feedback is appreciated and valuable to me. While typical social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Linked-In, Instagram, etc. are great places to post commentary, Amazon and GoodReads are ideal.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read my work and for sharing your thoughts. In the words of that great American poet, David Lee Roth — "I love ya, people!"

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Read C'MON! in it's entirety 

Copyright 2012 / 2016 Christopher Long

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