Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Winter is making it's grand entrance to the Ozarks of Southwest Missouri (and throughout most of the Midwest) tonight. It is actually early A. M. and it is raining with the temperature at a mere 33 degrees. Ice is supposed to follow and then the snow--1-3",5-10" or 15" depending on who you're listening to. The kids are hopeful for a day off from school and will be disappointed if it doesn't get cold enough to freeze and make a complete mess of roads and everything else. I've a few projects that need to be completed before winter sets in for good. Luckily, winters are pretty mild here.

Christmas is quickly approaching and so I know that we'll be hearing more about the Holiday vs. Christmas battle that we hear every year. Personally, I suggest that you call it what you wish, allow others to do the same and show the love of God in all you do. I'll make a future post about some of our favorite Christmas traditions and their origins. It may surprise you that many of them have pagan roots and so are rightly called holiday traditions instead of Christmas traditions. For example--evergreen boughs, wreaths and trees have been used to celebrate life in the dead of winter during the solstice celebrations that predate Christmas. So maybe it really is a "holiday tree." However you choose to celebrate this time of year, I choose to celebrate the birth of Jesus, my Savior. And I choose to believe the proclamation of angels of Peace on Earth to men of goodwill.

Whatever your tradition, however you celebrate the season; celebrate well and know that inspite of all our failings, God chooses to love us and celebrate life with us!


For to you is born today, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Under Reconstruction

I'm sure that many of you have already noticed that there is nothing fancy about this site. You may have correctly guessed that I don't know much about computers or how to design a really cool page. In spite of that, I'm making some changes to Out of My Hat.

I've changed my profile to better describe the direction that I would like to see magic take me. I'll add a block with personal information soon. I've already added Booking Information and a footer at the bottom of the page. (where else would you put a footer?) I've also limited the number of posts that will be displayed to the last six. You can access the others through the archives.

I'm sure that there will be other changes in the near future. Please feel free to comment at any time.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Fellowship of Christian Magicians--FCM

Last night we had our monthly(?) meeting of the FCM. We had a good turn out and were able to take care of some business as well as having fun with magic. Our local officers will stay the same for next year; John as Pres, Joe as VP, Gary W. as Treas. Since we rarely actually meet monthly due to numerous conflicts, we voted to meet on the third Sunday of odd numbered months at 2pm at Hopedale Baptist Church. If you are a magician/clown/vent feel free to join us. If you would like more information, click comment below and make your request.

Updates on some of our members:

Dwayne and Janice are temporarily home from Haiti. Keep their new grandson (Paul Timothy) in your prayers. Just days old now, Paul Timothy will be undergoing heart surgery. Because of the unexpected trip home, our local has voted to donate $150 to the Bakers to help with the cost of the trip. If you would like to contribute, comment below and I will get the info to you on where to send your contribution. Dwayne and Janice are Bible Baptist Missionaries in Port Au Prince, Haiti.

Walt has resigned from his current church and is seeking God's direction for what is next. I know that God will continue to use him in some area of ministry. I imagine that he'll be at the FCM Convention next summer.

After catching up with each other, we got down to the business of having fun. Joe brought his non-magician friend Cecil and so Cecil became the volunteer for any effect that we did. Cecil is the kind of audience that every magician loves to have. I'm not sure who is having more fun--Cecil or the performer. "Do it again," became a phrase that we heard over and over again. It was great to have somebody there to reminds us of how much fun we get to have when we play at our hobby/ministry/craft.

All in all, I had a great time. I am looking forward to our first meeting of 2007. To Gary and Mary, Walt and Vivian, Rebecca and little Benjamin, Joe, Gary, Cecil and those that couldn't make it--Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and may God bless and prosper you all in the coming year. I hope that more of you take the opportunity to join us in '07.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Everything in Moderation

It is not my intent for this blog to become a forum for debate over my posts or beliefs and so I have chosen to moderate the comments to my posts. Having said that, neither am I opposed to defending my beliefs/posts or sharing some opposing views.

To the anonymous comment to Politics, Purpose and Passion: "We" refers to those of us that believe in God and believe that He hears our prayers. You can relax, I wasn't talking to you in that instance. As for the question part of your comment--the answer is yes...and no. Yes I do believe that the only moral authority comes from the Bible. However, I also believe that the truths of the Bible can be found in many of the teachings of man. Finding a starting point for discussion would certainly prove to be quite the challenge as our beliefs--I don't believe in a god/I want to live my life for God--are infinitely distanced from each other. I know that you would not change my beliefs and you probably feel the same about your beliefs. If we were to attempt a relationship of any kind, it would have to have common ground outside of spiritual matters. Once a mutual respect for one another is developed, then perhaps it would be safe to venture into areas of known difference. To begin at a point of conflict appears to be a waste of time for both of us.

If you are a blogger, send me your site address. It may be the common ground that I referred to.


Thoughts on Magic

I wanted to back up a little bit and respond to a comment/question about the effect that I used during our revival. It came from a fellow blogger and if you are reading as a magician, I would encourage you to check out Magic Utopia.

The idea for the effect came from Jay Sankey's book, Beyond Secrets. I think that Jay Sankey is a little weird, but he is a very creative magician and he definitely has fun at his craft. At the Midwest Magic Jubilee in St. Louis, he encouraged us to quit thinking like magicians and to start thinking like spectators. His book talks about the key visual points of an effect, the things that the spectator sees and remembers. These might be the things they use when describing the effect to somebody else: This magician took out a one dollar bill. He showed it to me on both sides. Then he folded it in half and passed his hand in front of the bill and it changed into a twenty! He showed me the twenty and then waved it right in front of my face and it changed back into a one dollar bill.

I used the HypnoBill Change from Williams Magic for the effect. I actually performed it twice. The first time was just the performance and the second talked about the key visual points above with the corresponding actions at each point. The point that I wanted to make in the message was that others watch us for the key visual elements of our lives. When we say that we are Christians but that isn't what others see in our actions, we damage the credibility of our testimony. In the same way, we are to test the credibility of others. Jesus taught us to "check the fruit." He said that a good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree will produce bad fruit. What do people see when they are checking your fruit? Is it something that demonstrates or damages your verbal testimony?

I also used Whit Haydn's Fast and Loose routine to talk to the youth group about making good choices. Fast and Loose is a con game similar in nature to the shell game or three card monte. The mark always appears to have a free choice and a fair chance but never wins. Sometimes a bad decision (like getting in the game) always leads to bad consequences (like losing your money!). At some point, one must arrive at the decision that the only good choice is to get out of the game. It may be about the friends that you've chosen, a place that you went to, or an action that you've taken. The only fix may be to undo the original bad choice by getting out of the game. As much as we would like to think that we can change the bad behavior of our friends, the Bible teaches differently. The Bible tells us that bad company corrupts good character. That means stay away from bad company. Make good choices about the friends you keep and the influences that you allow to be close to you. Bad company corrupts good character.

I really do enjoy using a simple effect to teach a lesson of truth.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Politics, Purpose and Passion

Well it has certainly been a week of great change in the political arena. Or has it? Maybe it has only been a change of faces but the games will be the same. Agendas, goals and budgets may change a little but methods, madness and money are always a constant in the hallowed halls of Congress.

Those of you that know me know that I enjoy word history and origins. A couple that I like to have fun with: Politics; from poly—meaning many, and tics—being little blood suckers. And another: If pro is the opposite if con, what is the opposite of progress? Is it Congress?

Just as a parent may take away a toy or privilege from a child that has been irresponsible, so the voters have taken away control from one party and handed it to another. What remains to be seen is if either party was paying attention and did anyone learn anything? Whatever your political affiliation may be, we must remember to pray for those that set policy and practice for our country. The Bible tells us that all authority on Earth is given by heaven.

Enough on politics. Let’s move on to purpose and passion.

I spent a few moments today with a couple of people that enjoy music with a passion. Understand that I mean that music is much more to them than it ever could be to me. I enjoy music. I like listening to music, I even like singing. But it doesn’t drive me. For me, a day without out music is like…well it’s like a day without music—no big deal. For either of them, well they couldn’t even imagine a day without music. And it’s not just listening to music—it’s experiencing music, rehearsing music, performing music, worshipping through music and ministering through music. Music moves them. It can sooth them, comfort them or really pump them up. And they want to use music to evoke those same emotions and feelings in others. Music has a healing quality. In the hands of a passionate person, it can change an attitude, change a heart, change a life.

Let me introduce you to my friends. The first is our Minister of Music at Hopedale Baptist Church, Rich Langston. He is an exciting young man that we have quickly fallen in love with. He has fun worshipping our Lord and Savior—and it shows. Coming to church on Sunday morning is what it should be—an event. Whether it’s the Praise Team or the choir, you know that something special is about to happen. You know that Someone special is about to arrive. Through praise and worship, we invite the Living God into our presence and He always accepts our invitation. If you’ve never had an encounter with the Most High God, come join us on Sunday morning. It would be our pleasure to introduce Him to you.

The second friend that I want to introduce is a woman that I met at an evangelism conference earlier this year. Kristy Green was singing in a quartet and you could tell that she is one of those people that has that passion. It isn’t about the performance for them. It isn’t about the quartet. It isn’t even about the music. Somehow it seems to be a package sort of deal; music, emotion, performance. But it’s not just any performance. It’s a performance for the King. It has to be your best and you can’t fake it for the King. It is your offering to Him. Kristy also sings in a trio and I wanted to introduce these two music freaks to each other. (I mean that in the nicest way, guys) I hope to hear Kristy and her trio or quartet at Hopedale sometime soon. I’ll keep you posted.

If you have a passion, something that drives you, consider offering it to God. It may be that He has given you your passion to bring glory to His name. It’s no coincidence that our passion and His purpose often meet. It is a wonderful surprise when we find that we can continue doing the thing that we love and use it for His purpose, His glory.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Catching Up

I hope that this post finds you all doing well. It has been a wonderful couple of weeks with little to tackle in the way of pressing matters. A nice break from the past few months. Today ends the tirade of political commercials and recorded phone messages. I hope that you all took the time to vote today.

I want to take a moment to introduce you to a fellow evangelist, Wess Adams. Wess and his wife were at our church on Sunday evening and if you're looking for a music evangelist to come to your church, you'll want to click the link above and check him out. Also, if your looking for a killer sound system, check out his site for his Bose system. I have a feeling that one of those babies may be in my future!

I'm excited about the coming winter months. It's not that I like winter, it's that things tend to slow down a bit and I'm hoping to be able to work on some new magic effects in the coming months. I've already got a few ideas on how to use some for ministry and as always, some are just for fun. For my magic friends that are reading, I may ask for your ideas on a couple of things as I get to working on them. It's fun to make changes in my show. I really like some of the effects that I use and they are effective in telling a story or teaching a lesson. On the other hand, I want to have something new for those churches that have seen me before. There has to be some balance and method in deciding what to keep and what to change. Also, one would hope that I make some progress as a magician by using different and challenging effects and props.

That kind of gets me thinking along the lines of "What are you planning on for next year?" It may be a little early for New Year's resolutions, but it's not too early to begin to make some personal assessments of where you've come from, where you are, and where you are going. Once we've figured some of that out, we need to have a plan to get where we are going. Do you have some things that you are needing to re-tool for the coming year. As life changes around us, often our perspectives often change about people, ideals, values, etc. You may even begin to see God in a different light. I hope that you begin to see Him in a John the Baptist sort of way--you know, He must increase and I must decrease.

We grow (progress) as Christians, too. Paul talks to us about renewing our mind. That is not the same as changing our mind, but rather the natural growth that comes from a dynamic relationship with God through Jesus. I think that God would like to see us as we challenge ourselves to grow in ministry and service. I think that our friends, neighbors, co-workers would like to see a new "show" as well. We all rejoice when we see one of our brothers/sisters in Jesus growing.

How about it? Why don't you begin to plan a growing you for next year? Don't wait for New Year's Day. Begin now and you can be that new person when January rolls around.

'Til next time,