Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Sharing Club

There's a lot of people getting involved in clubs now. And no, I am not in any way referring to raising a roof, pumping up a jam, or fist pumping the freshest of beats. (If any of that makes me sound dated, I apologize.) No, what I'm talking about are things like school clubs, church clubs, or any gathering of people for a common goal and purpose. The club I had when growing up?

The Sharing Club.

Do not adjust your monitor, you read that correctly. Yes, it was a club (misnomer: it was just me, my mom, and my brother) in which all of its members were dedicated to sharing whatever they had with each other. Now, in order to avoid any backlash from my family, I will forbid myself from mentioning anything regarding the fact that this might have been really childish, dorky, or strange. I refuse to say anything along the lines that it just sounded kinda weird. Yup, not saying a single word. You're getting nothing outta me, bub.
"So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." (1 Thessalonians 2)
There's a big movement of street evangelism in the world of Christendom nowadays. And it's great! I applaud the effort of those who would brave sharing the gospel with people they've never met. It is a bold thing to give the Good News to a stranger, and I tend to think that it should be more normal for the believer to do than what we make it out to be. Instead of seeing it as a thing that only "strong Christians" (whatever that means) do, or as a thing that is only done in organized events, I think every believer should make it a habit to give the gospel to people on the bus, cashiers, waitresses, etc. In fact, I used to do this a lot, and I should probably be doing more of it now.

BUT... (there is a but) I think this form of evangelism lacks the biggest key to the strength of the gospel: Christians sharing themselves. Yes, you can share the Good News with that lady you found in the produce aisle at Walmart, (or should I say "aisles", as in all 513 of them) but the fact remains that she doesn't know you from Adam (or Eve, for you ladies. Trying to keep things PC around here, after all. We all know how good I am at that). She hasn't experienced the God Who, through you, can show love even after being friends with her for a long time. She hasn't seen you, through the conduit of relationship, show her grace when all she's done is hurt you. She hasn't seen you be good when everything around you is bad.

Paul knew that the gospel has the opportunity to take fruitful ground when it is lived out in front of someone, and not just spoken. It is this relational part of ministry that give people a glimpse at the God inside of you. You get to actually share a piece of God with someone else. So, as cheesy as this is about to sound, I beg you:

Please join the Sharing Club.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Go Practice

Anyone who's known me for a decent amount of time has figured out that I am a magician. Yes, I just used word "magician." Notice that I'm comfortable using the word "magician" as a Christian, mainly because I believe that our modern concept of that is very different than if I was to use the word "sorcerer" or "wizard." What I'm trying to say is that I do not practice or dabble in the dark arts, but simply enjoy the use of illusion to create a sense of wonder for those who witness what I do. So put down your pitchforks. Please. They make me uncomfortable.

Having been a magician for the past 8 years or so, I've seen a lot of different performers and tricks, and I'll be the first to tell you that a technical artist is one thing, while a performance artist is another thing entirely. Having specialized in card/close-up magic over the years, I've seen a lot of YouTube performances that have excellently portrayed the correct mechanics of a move or sleight. However, there's a reason that some magicians never get their work out into the real world, and that is because they never learned what it meant to perform. Yes, they may have learned the technical details of a trick to the tee, but they were never able to present that trick in a memorable or entertaining way to real people.

I believe that presentation is vastly more important than mechanics.

"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." (Colossians 4)

Seasoned with salt, eh? So what you're telling me is that, when having conversations with unbelievers, (outsiders) I should try to make it interesting!?


That's kinda different, no? For those of you who have a talent that you perform in front of an audience, do you not work hard to make your presentation excellent? Why then do we not do the same in our faith? We've learned the mechanics and details of Christianity to the tee, but for some reason, when we get to "perform" the gospel, there's more defense than offense. More mumbling than less boldness. More stumbling than confidence.

Make your presentation of the gospel interesting! Be crazy! Goof off and be real! Granted, I want to make it very clear that the power and substance of the gospel does not rest in our presentation, (Check out 1 Cor. 2) but we have to start doing a better job in portraying the wonder and power that is inherent in the words of God.

In my journey of learning magic tricks, I heard once that one hour of performing for an audience is worth ten hours of practice at home. So, what am I saying?

Get off your computer, walk out the door, and go practice.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 279

Day 279:

It's been too long in this rat-hole. It stinks of stale urine, they give me just enough food to keep me from dying, and I haven't danced with freedom in much, much too long. In fact, I haven't been doing much dancing at all. After all, a 4 by 4 concrete cell doesn't lend itself to the tango.

You would think that they would let you wander free in your own jail cell, but even my hands are cuffed in front of me. Nothing fancy, just some zip ties. It's funny how two pieces of plastic have the ability to cage not just the hands, but the soul. Words cannot describe how much I miss Lady Liberty. I'm not talking about a statue, but you could throw her into this if you want. Either way, I'm not visiting her, or anyone, anytime soon.

It's funny how man never realizes just how valuable his freedom is until it is lost. And he wishes that he would have done anything to avoid being placed by a stranger in a dank, dark jail cell. But as I work on carving today's scratch into the wall, I realize that it wasn't a stranger who laid these stones, but I. The very prison that holds me is one that I built around myself, handing the keys to Satan himself when I was done. Oh, the shame and regret.

But I've got everything in order. My plan is perfect. You don't spend 279 days in jail without having time to think of the perfect escape. It's been a long time in coming, and my hands are trembling with anticipation within their zip-tie confinement. I must calm myself down, though. I can't risk injuring my hands.

But how does one calm himself when he knows what lies ahead? When he knows that the this long-awaited liberty is at his doorstep, like the arrival of a newborn child. And just like an expectant father, I trembled in my waiting room. I knew what was coming. I knew my plan. I knew it was perfect.

Then He came in. He walked right past the guard, opened the door effortlessly and without a key, and picked me up. I wish I could say that I helped Him pick me up, but I knew that wasn't possible. I laid there on the floor, and like a helpless infant, waited for Him to come get me. It's amazing how easily He was able to lift me off of the floor, despite the holes in His wrist.

You see, my escape plan was more like a rescue. After building that cell around myself and giving the devil rights to watch me, I knew there was no way I could escape on my own. So I gave up trying and let Him do it.

And now, freedom is mine. Day 280 will be written from somewhere open. Somewhere free. Who knows?

Maybe I'll do it under Lady Liberty.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."