I was a walking civil war. Having grown up in church, I could sing Jesus Loves Me before I knew all of the words to Old Mac Donald. While the advantages of being in a pew nine months before birth are many and profoundly outweigh the challenges, there are nonetheless many emotional pitfalls and spiritual traps that can (and did) attempt to kill me before I allowed God to begin crafting my life into anything of value to His plans and purpose.
Do you ever stop and give sincere thanks for your feet? Most do not. Your life would change like a 70 mph U-turn if you were suddenly without the ability to stand, walk, run or balance. Not to mention the PTSD many women would suffer sans shoe shopping. And gentlemen, where would your egos be if you couldn’t examine an issue or an obnoxious fellow traveler and “plant a boot in its ass?” Yet when was the last time you sat down after a long day, uncapped those howling dogs, wiggled your smelly toes and said “Praise God, I have feet!”?
Next question: have you ever taken the grace and forgiveness of Christ’s work on Calvary for granted? C’mon, you know exactly what I’m talking about. In a nutshell it runs something like this: here comes temptation, ugh there’s that thought again, I should pray. PRAY NOW! Before it’s too late! But that jerk cut me off. Or, it’s not like I’m actually sleeping with anyone…technically; and before you know it, your middle finger is out the window taking a wind bath or you’re staring at your XXX rated phone, feeling filthy and wondering how you wound up on the wrong side of the internet. Play before you pray? Sin before you win? Ah heck, Jesus is my best buddy. He gets it. He knows my true heart.
Fair warning: if you have been generous enough with your time thus far to hang with my ramblings, I thank you. But if you are a Christian who’s been off of the teat and plunging your incisors into the full filet of the Word of God for fifty years, this article may not be for you. On the other hand, “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23ESV). So you may want to stick with me; this is a pretty good story.
My Fort Sumter moment was in May of 1998. I pointed my convertible toward Los Angeles, peeled out of Oakland and drove away from years of waiting tables, bartending and a relationship that had gone on forever was going nowhere. I had a $49 air mattress, two duffel bags of San Francisco clothes racing toward a scorching LA summer and a $900 cash advance pillaged from a maxed credit card. My head was full of certainty that Hollywood may be the end of the road for dreamers, but I would make it; I had a skill. I was armed with two spec screenplays, but more importantly I knew I could crank out many more. As a side note I recently read the script that I was most confident in at the time, The Art of the Steal, and it is genuinely funny. Only problem is, I wrote it as an edge-of -your -seat art heist thriller.
During an impromptu going away party in Oakland, my girlfriend opined that she would like to work in LA doing something with the sets.
“Yeah. Uh, no way.” I knew from a handful of friends down south that production crews work minimum twelve hour days. Bartenders pull anywhere from six to eight hours and walk away buzzed and cash rewarded nightly. There was zero chance that I would spend all night standing around on a film set.
Sixteen years later I would reflect often on that night, in that Lake Merit apartment, jolted back to reality as the First AD screamed “Let’s go. Lock it up. Roll sound. We are fighting sunrise.”
It turns out, everyone in Hollywood has two spec screenplays.
So why would I refer to myself as a walking civil war? Like most internal conflicts that are ultimately decided by extreme measures, the various chords of my personal battle hymn began striking a single note at a time. The first three or four years of working my way up the greased ladder that is Hollywood were unique, occasionally fun, arduous and most importantly rife with cocktail party glory stories. I started in the ‘biz at age 28 and my priorities were as follows: total familiarity with all that is hip in art, music, film, books and fashion…on both coasts. A close second, finding the perfect blend of the exotic: Selma Hayek, Sandra Bullock, Natalie Portman, Penelope Cruz. Lastly, work as much as possible on the biggest show that will have me, for the most money doable and swill it, snort it and smoke it before call time the next day. Where was Jesus in all of this? Well, I wasn’t giving thanks for my feet either.
So what changed? It was a one-two punch that took two years to coldcock me. It started in 2009 when I read James Wesley Rawles prepper cult classic Patriots. . I am not going to summarize the book in this article but I will say this, visit the website. Buy the book. Read the book. The knock-out punch landed about a year later when I heard John B. Wells announce on Coast to Coast the passage of NDAA 1167.
Over a compressed period of time my already seismic-tuned mind began to grasp that whereas a 9.0 could level Southern California at any moment, the Federal Government was openly admitting that attached to thousands of pages of the annual defense budget were a new set of rules that levels our constitutional republic. A set of rules that abolishes The Bill of Rights so egregiously, I am not going to enumerate in this piece exactly which amendments are blasted into irrelevance. I will however point my readers to a hard fact and provide a link to support the death notice of our republic. In NDAA 1167, the United States of America is redefined as a “battle space” equivalent to any battle space on foreign soil. Under this redefinition, “enemy combatants” may be defined by the Executive Branch (aka King Hussein Obama) as any individual that poses a threat to the Federal Government. Well, what’s wrong with that? We can’t have “domestic terrorists” running around threatening the government can we? I quote George Orwell “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Now stick with me here, I quote Darrell Trent “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Under NDAA 1167 if any person in a position of authority under the Executive Branch (this includes all of the DOJ and DHS alphabet agencies: FBI, DEA, ATFBE and Department of the Treasury agencies like the dreaded IRS) suspects any person living in the United States of “terrorist activity” that person may be detained indefinitely without charges and without right to due process, writ of habeas corpus, or a timely trial by a jury of their peers. Adios Constitution! Thanks for making our nation the freest, most prosperous land in the history of humanity. Bye!
Question: with the possibility of kidnapping by the government (that we pay for) looming over all our heads, do we not need “freedom fighters”? United States Marine Brandon Raub thought so. Things did not go well for him.
Unfortunately, Brandon’s story is unique only because it was the first to cause massive outcry from veterans, patriots, preppers and liberty loving Americans when he was black bagged back in 2012. Today, in 2016, it happens all over “the battle space”.
I chose the previous paragraphs contextualizing my baby steps onto the other brick road and behind the curtain, because without doing so, the spiritual transformation that occurred from 2009 through today would not make sense.
After reading Patriots I started filling plastic crates…with everything. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area and suffering through eighteen years in Los Angeles, the idea of needing what is locally called an “earthquake kit” was something that had floated on my priority list somewhere between organizing thirty years of snapshots into photo albums and rereading Leviticus in the Old King James Version. But under a fierce new motivation, the comprehension that our beloved US dollar is simply a note of debt, I began preparing for the mathematical certainty of the collapse of the US dollar. Like most newly awakening Americans I had an insatiable appetite for the truth. Unlike most newly awakening Americans I mourned the departure of mainstream news from my life for as long as it took to unplug the TV, walk down two flights of stairs and chuck it into the dumpster.
Within a few months I found the newly launched effort of Doug and Joe Hagmann through YouTube. Their sincere, folksy approach to analyzing world events through a Biblical perspective appealed to both my voracious appetite for truthful news and my total fatigue with Hollywood hucksterism. I did not know it at the time, but I had inadvertently stepped through a door, into a hall of mirrors and down a long corridor that would ultimately place me in direct confrontation with the enemy unseen. Along with The Hagmann and Hagmann Report I became a regular listener to Rick Wiles at Trunews.
These two internet radio platforms began leading me on an intellectual mission toward The Cross; back to a full recognition of the grace that had protected me and my asinine ways through the rock n roll years of San Francisco and the serpentine Satanic hole of Hollywood. Notice I used the word “intellectual”. I chose that description because throughout the crazy years of total madness, the still small voice of God (I Kings 19:11-12) called out to me in times of great emotional distress. And I would listen. Until whatever emotional catastrophe waned and my intellect would admonish me “seriously dude? Are you really going to stop smoking weed? Stop going out? Stop indulging in sexual conquest?”
“Uh, probably not.”
And the cycle would reset and repeat. Sin like crazy. Live crazy. Love the hottest craziest girl I could find. Sin like crazy with her. Sin is sickness. Sickness hurts. She walks out the door. And then that still small voice would call again.
In 2012 it was different. This time my emotions and intellect were working together. I tuned into The Hagmanns to hear guys like Steve Quayle and Paul McGuire put ALL of the pieces together. I began to dig deeply into my early memories of church and remembered what Brother So and So said about Israel and hell and Mystery Babylon. These sermons from thirty years previous fit perfectly with what these Watchmen (Ezekiel 33:1-6) were saying as they related ancient prophecy to the front page of The Wall Street Journal. And I discovered one of the great tools that Satan uses against us. Loneliness. Throughout the first three or four years of The Hagmann’s show the third hour was generally reserved for callers. Like many of the nightly listeners I looked forward to hearing from the audience as much as I enjoyed the guests. The callers often drew conclusions or formed opinions that intellectually and emotionally cinched the sack of information presented recently on the show. Two things emerged from these third hour forays in 2012 and 2013: I noticed a definite spirit of insularity and loneliness from the members of The Hagmann Family and I became a regular participant on the show.
May 30-June 1 2014, The Whitestone Remnant Conference: I flew to Bozeman, Montana with Chance and Merrill, the owners of American Survival Wholesale and two of my dearest friends. As our tiny plane bounced over the Saw Tooth Mountains, I stared out the window at black and white beauty reminiscent of that which Ansel Adams captured over sixty years ago. I mused at how I came to be on the plane, headed for a guaranteed meeting with The Hagmanns, Steve Quayle, Russ Dizdar and the other scheduled speakers. American Survival Wholesale was the title sponsor of The Hagmann and Hagmann Report and a lunch or dinner with Doug and Joe was penciled into our itinerary. We also had an idea to pitch them, a working project called Honorably Employed that would utilize the wide reach of the show to match returning veterans with employers. The idea was sound and Doug and Joe liked it, but when we began to address the machinations required to actually ignite the program, we discovered it was far more complicated than it sounded and would require upstart cash that just wasn’t there. Nonetheless, I had the opportunity to meet Doug and Joe and saw in them what so many magnanimous personalities in Hollywood could be, if The Lord were in the driver’s seat. My mind gears were spinning before the landing gear lifted from Bozeman.
I should mention that Mike and Jeannie, the directors of Hear the Watchmen and founders of Honest to Goodness Toffee were present at The Whitestone Remnant Conference and whereas we had met once at a Starbucks in LA, Chance, Merrill and myself were able to get to know them as friends during our stay in Bozeman. We were confident in their desire to serve The Kingdom and presented Honorably Employed to The Hagmanns with Mike and Jeannie as partners in the endeavor. I wonder what Doug and Joe must have thought, dining with the five of us: a married couple in the preparedness business, another married couple with backgrounds in event planning, brokerage and candy making and a Hollywood guy who was clearly a long way from Hollywood? But there were two things present at that table of seven from California and Pennsylvania. We wanted to serve God in what we discerned (and discern) to be the end of the age and we wanted to somehow bless others; especially those who went forth to fight and did a hard job in lousy conditions.
Flash forward. Approximately six weeks after Whitestone I traveled from Pasadena to Orange County to visit Mike and Jeannie. Rather than sit in three hours of traffic, I opted for a ride on the train. Mike made chili. I brought the baguettes. I remember it was the night that the downing/crash/false flag of the airline in Ukraine was all over the news. We all felt there was something seriously wrong with that story given the “missing” Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was (and is) still missing. But the food and the company were good and we enjoyed ourselves in spite of the cable news weirdness. I misread the train schedule and missed the last train home.
I was awakened on their sofa during the third watch (Mark 13:35). Most of the voices you hear on the shows suffer some degree of insomnia. It was around 3:30am and I awoke with a jolt wondering where I was. I remembered and thought about The Hagmann and Hagmann Report. I thought about the fact that my handful of real friends all came into my life via that internet radio show. By the way, how I met Chance is another cool story and you can hear my testimony of that God shot on The Hagmann Report from April 21, 2016. I felt an upwelling of gratitude in my soul for what The Lord had done since late 2012 when I used to check in on air with Doug and Joe and announce “This is Jon, walking the streets of Pasadena.” I knew it sounded corny but I was actually speaking to the listeners while trudging along in the darkness. When others called the show, voices I soon recognized as friends unmet, it didn’t take long to identify that many people listening were calling Doug and Joe for the same reason I was. They may have been surrounded by others in their day to day life but, like me, there were a few problems. Number one, “they all think I’m crazy.” Number two, “geez maybe I am crazy?” Number three, “well if I’m crazy, these two guys on the air are even CRAZIER!” Number four, “I guess I’ll call again. It makes me feel better.”
Back to Mike and Jeannie’s sofa, mid-July, 2014: there was that still small voice again:
“Everyone can have friends like you do now. No one needs to go through this alone. The harvest is great but the workers are few. Someone better stand in the gap.”
“Wow. Yeah. Someone should.”
“Being lonely totally sucks.”
“Maybe I could do something?”
The thought caught in my throat and tears welled in my eyes and I was completely cocooned in a feeling like a five-year-old, caught red handed misguiding the family dog into mischief but mom just looks and says “I love you anyway.”
Stumbling over the coffee table, I rifled through Mike and Jeannie’s bills until I found an envelope that I was pretty sure they wouldn’t miss. I scribbled a few lines on it and plopped back into three more hours of sleep. Hhconnections was conceived.
It took several months to hash out the particulars of how exactly to connect Hagmann listeners in a way that would be comfortable for Doug and Joe but even more importantly in a way that would be comfortable for the listeners. The key issue was trust. The listeners would have to trust that Doug, Joe and myself were equally committed to building community among their audience of remnant believers. Doug and Joe had to be satisfied that my ambition started and stopped with the willingness to use a labor intensive low tech means of introducing one listener in, say, Florida to another listener in Florida. Lastly and most crucially, the individual listeners would have to take a step of faith that relied on The Hagmann’s and my sincerity, thus insuring that if they indicated they wanted to be connected, they would be connected to other likeminded believers.
The final discussion occurred on Christmas Eve, 2014. I called Doug after their broadcast. I was eating up miles of dark road on northbound Highway 5 and they were trying to decompress after three hours of live radio.
“Doug I think we should launch this thing in January and start the new year by giving listeners a tool in their toolbox.”
“Hey Jon. Let me grab Joe and put him on speaker.”
I repeated the “tool in the toolbox” analogy.
“Tool in the toolbox. I like it. Okay let’s shoot for January and see how this goes,” Doug suggested.
We all agreed to revisit the idea after Christmas.
It was mid-January 2015 and I was walking through the tiny New York City backlot at CBS Radford Studios, working on CSI Cyber. My cell rang. Without thinking I palmed it from my back pocket. The screen read “Hagmann”. I slipped down a side street and within a few yards found myself transported from Brooklyn back to Studio City, California.
“Okay let’s do it. Let’s just do it. See where it goes.”
With that, hhconnections had (in Hollywood parlance) the green light.
Chance came up with the name hhconnections. And this is my favorite part: for a half dozen conversations with Doug and Joe, a cheap HP tablet and $60 paid to startmail, thousands of lives were changed…and hopefully enriched. We launched hhconnections on January 30, 2015. It remained active for six months. The procedure was silly-simple: email the hhconnections account. Write “connect me” in the subject line and tell us where you are from. I would then review a list (handwritten, in a 3 ring binder) and find other Hagmann listeners in the same city, region or state and introduce the listeners by sending them an email with both of their email addresses in the communique. By the morning of January 31, 80 listeners responded. By February 28th, there were over a thousand; each one connected by just a few, standing in the gap.
Within weeks, new friendships were blossoming, Canadians were driving fifty miles to meet for coffee and home churches were springing up from Salt Lake City to Kansas City. Hagmann and Hagmann Report listeners in Sweden were discussing organic gardening with H and H listeners in Costa Rica. We had twenty or thirty listeners in The UK. Seven in Australia. Who knows how many in Canada? Ultimately 49 states and 27 foreign countries were on board. And I spent a minimum of five hours a day sending and receiving emails. See how God works? Are you seeing the evidence of things not seen? During the first two months of hhconnections, I was working for MTV. The show required minimal daily maintenance but my contract was a twelve hour per day commitment. So Monday throughFriday I spent half the day toiling for MTV and the other half devoted to building hhconnections…and getting paid by Paramount to do so! Thanks Sumner Redstone. You helped build The Kingdom and you don’t even know it!
After hhconnections proved a success, my limited acquaintance with Doug and Joe grew friendlier and to this day it is a friendship that I value. At some point, Doug thought some insider insight into the Hollywood game would benefit the listeners and I was invited to join the show as a guest. You can dig into those stories here and here.
I would be less than honest if I did not admit that transitioning from a regular caller to a regular guest was a long hoped for blessing. It was thrilling to suddenly be able to tell stories, spiritually germane stories, to hundreds of thousands of people. It was immediately apparent that this opportunity came with immense responsibility. After a couple of Hollywood shows, the demand to delve into bigger issues inspired me to suggest that I could package shows for The Hagmann and Hagmann Report. I wanted to apply my skills and determination to the epicenter of the brawl: abortion, the degradation of the family, the paralysis of the church and most recently pushing back at the decree from The White House (oops, I mean The Rainbow House) stating that little girls are no longer secure from predatory men in school restrooms and locker rooms. With Doug and Joe’s trust and support and the promise of Hebrews 11:1, I have done so:
The next step was originally suggested by John B Wells when I joined him for my second guest spot on Caravan to Midnight. He simply stated “…and I’m sure you’ll start your own show before too long.”
The thought had crossed my mind from time to time but the enormity of such a step was intimidating. But over a short period, The Lord reminded me that EVERYTHING we had accomplished since those lonely nights, walking the streets of Pasadena, was more than I could contemplate, let alone create.
My buddy, Mike Kerr and I launched Brothers on the Wall Saturday May 28, 2016 with our first (and very patient) guest Pastor Paul Begley and we were stunned that over 1,900 remnant believers joined us for our first broadcast. Brothers on the Wall is built on a simple mission statement: bring community watchmen up onto the wall every Saturday night at 7pm ESTwith a specific emphasis on inspiring, exhorting, inciting and (if necessary) antagonizing the men of the church to stop lulling around in an Al Bundy narcosis and get into the fight. We will bring well known pastors, writers, broadcasters and commentators up onto the wall as well as men and women from anywhere and everywhere who are DOING SOMETHING. If you are a person of action, climb up on the wall.
I will conclude this effort by thanking the readers and listeners who have stuck with me through hhconnections to Brothers on the Wall (not to mention this lunch-hour-long article) and reminding each and every heart of the following:
Jesus said “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (ESV)
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
Lastly, a question: are you a community watchman? Are you a difference maker? If so, now is your Hebrews 11:1 moment. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org