Saturday, October 31, 2009

Something New for Halloween

My Pastor friend David posted this link a few days ago. A book burning. Talk about your church Halloween gimmicks! These folks have some misguided ideas about the translation of The Bible. Actually they have some misguided ideas about the translation of any book and the dynamics of our language. I don't doubt that they are followers of God, but they are under a false sense of what is an accurate translation if they still believe that the best English translation for today's English speaking people was done 400 years ago.

You would think that if they wanted the true and undefiled Word of God that they would only accept it in its original language (a la Islam and the Qur'an) , yet the writer of the web page admits to not knowing either Hebrew or Greek. Apparently they don't believe that the Holy Spirit is still able to help men to translate the Word into the language of the times and that gift ceased with the writing of the King James Version.

In any case, this is book burning's finest hour--the burning of Bibles that don't meet with their approval!

John <><

Friday, October 30, 2009

Something Different

Today I had the wonderful privilege of entertaining a small group of senior adults at The Fremont in Springfield MO. The Fremont is a retirement community that has a regular guest on certain Friday afternoons. This was the second time that I've been asked to come and share some magic. (It really is nice to be asked back.)

Since the venue for these folks is more intimate than I'm used to performing in, I decided to use some of the effects that I really like but never get the chance to perform. I love close-up magic. It is the magic that I enjoy watching. It is the magic that I most appreciate the work and skill of the performer. Unfortunately, it is also the type of magic that I never get to perform. Since I don't normally have the venue to perform close-up magic, and since it really does take a LOT of practice to perform it well--I never spend the time practicing to performance level skill.

For today, I chose a few simple effects and worked them to be able to wow my audience. I hope that they had as much fun as I did! I'll need to work on some more close-up effects and develop some venues for performing. I don't know that it is something that I would use as a ministry opportunity--I would just like to find a venue to perform some close-up stuff. After all, shouldn't a magician be able to perform anytime, anywhere?

Gotta go practice...

John <><

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Random Thoughts

Wow! It's been a little while since I've posted anything here at Out of My Hat. I'd say it was because I've been busy, but that isn't completely true. I just haven't felt like taking the time to write something worthwhile. I'm not saying that this is anything that is really special--in fact, it will just be some random thoughts that I have yet to formulate into a post that might someday make sense.

My ministry year is coming to a close as far as revivals and magic shows. I'll be in Seligman MO tomorrow morning, Kansas City on Monday and Tuesday for the Missouri Baptist Convention and Shady Grove MO on November 1st. I also have a magic show at a senior adult community on Oct. 30th. It has been a busy year and I am greatly encouraged by the opportunities that I've had this year. I've learned some things about people, churches, myself and about God.

I'm not sure, but I think that God laughs at me on a regular basis. He surprises me and He keeps me humble. There are times when I feel like I've preached a strong message and see no response and other times when I feel that things went so poorly...and people come to trust Jesus as their Savior. Some churches really surprise me with their generosity and God has used others to keep me humble and remind me that it's not about the money. It's not about me, either. It always has to be about Him. It has to be about His great love for us and about the Redemption that is available only through His Son, Jesus.

I'm starting to realize that He has given me a real gift when it comes to working with kids. I don't know why. I'm really not all that fond of the little buggers. I get the feeling that a summer schedule full of kid's camps is in my future--retirement is not that far away. I have never marketed to the Baptists Associations for summer camps and this year I did three as camp pastor, one for a single night and turned two down due to scheduling conflicts. I was asked to preach at more revivals this year than in the past and continue to be invited to Associational Evangelism Conferences.

This air traffic gig is really starting to get in the way of my personal life and personal ministry!

On to other thoughts...

I'm trying to lose some weight (again). Two different ways and two different weights. The first is from the realization that we carry around a lot of unnecessary garbage in the way of guilt, anger, hate, frustrations with others, etc., etc. I'm doing my best to set all of that aside. While it hasn't done much to reduce my waistline or my actual weight, it has helped my spirit to seem lighter and we really don't need heavy spirits or heavy bodies.

The healthy sibling of the family is lamenting his own weight gain and physical condition and made a personal commitment of 28 days to eat better and exercise. I decided to join him (along with our younger sister) and have done well in the first week with the eating part. I knew that the exercise thing wasn't really going to happen for me but have decided to increase my activity level by not using the elevator at work. For reference--the tower cab is on the 7th floor, the break room on the 6th, the NATCA office the 5th and the radar room is on the 4th floor. With twenty stair steps between floors it makes it 120 stairs to the tower cab. I've been making it a point to go outside or to the base building on my breaks and have made four trips up and down the stairs each day last week except for once when I left early to give platelets at the Red Cross. I don't know if I've lost any weight yet but will check tomorrow morning. Guess I'd better take care tonight as we go out for dinner with friends.

I'm starting to feel more driven to writing but so far, that's all. I have yet to actually write anything much less submit it for publication. Perhaps in 2010.

I still need to work on new magic effects and expand the types of venues where I perform. I think that will increase my options when I retire and besides--it's fun.

Okay. That's it for now. I'll try to better in the coming days. Thanks for stopping by.

John <><

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ministry Blues

I'm a little bit down these days. I know that "Revivals" are supposed to elevate--revive--our spirits, but that hasn't been the case in the past few weeks. I've become depressed at the state of our churches and am wondering why we even bother with doing "church" the way that we are in the 21st century.

Our churches are more like clubs, We even have memberships! We haven't made them exclusive (not officially) and generally make membership simple (and meaningless) to attain, but we do gather in our safe little holy huddles and maintain a cloistered division between us and the communities that we live in.

We have set aside the command to make disciples and have contracted that duty to our vocational clergy. If the church isn't sharing the Gospel, it must be their fault. That's what we are paying them for. Unfortunately, according to the Bible, the job of the pastor/teacher/evangelist is to equip the followers of Jesus to share the Gospel with the world around us. I guess that we are not doing a very good job.

In fact, we seem to have complicated the Christian lifestyle beyond what we can manage on a day to day basis. We have program after program on sharing our faith. We move from the latest and greatest program to the new and improved latest and greatest program. When something seems to be working well for a period of time, we get tired of it and want something new--something different. Teaching programs has replaced teaching the commands of our Lord. We are very busy at doing nothing that has an eternal impact--but at least we're very busy. And while we work at our programs, people are going to hell.

It's not supposed to be this hard. The Jews had 613 Laws that they were to follow. Some were "do" laws. Some were "do not" laws. Jesus made it simple. When asked which of the laws was the greatest, Jesus said that the greatest law is to love God with everything that we have (Deut 6-5). Then He gave them a bonus--the second greatest law: Love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18). He said that the other 611 laws (as well as everything from the Prophets) are based on these two.

Jesus didn't leave us with a program to share our faith, He left us with a command to share our faith--no Share Jesus Without Fear; no FAITH; no Drawing the Net; no Monday night visitation programs--just a simple command to make disciples. Go make disciples--students. Teach them to obey the things that I've taught you. Don't worry, I'll be with you. (Matt 28:19-20)

Could it really be that...simple?

I challenge you (again). Tell somebody, "God loves you. Jesus died for you."
Do it today.

John <><

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Blogging from the Southwest

Yes, I know that it has been well over a week since I've posted. For a good part of that, I was just too busy. But other than that, I've just been in a posting doldrum kind of state. Oh there is certainly plenty to blog about, but I'm trying to keep things uplifting and positive. mention here of the dismal way that the Cardinals finished out their last few games and just looking forward to the post-season play that begins this week. I know that they will be great with all pitchers feeling strong and everybody doing their part in the field and at the plate. Go Cardinals!

Chris and I are wrapping up a quick weekend getaway to Las Vegas. We arrived Friday afternoon and will be leaving early tomorrow morning. Today (10/4) is Chris' birthday.

Friday night we saw the Criss Angel show BeLIEve! It is one of the areas Cirque du Soleil productions and lived up to the mediocre reviews that it has received. Not much Cirque in the production and unfortunately, not much magic, either. If you're planning a trip to Vegas and want to see a magic show, Lance Burton's show at the Monte Carlo is good and Mac King has a great afternoon show at Harrah's. There are others that I haven't seen but would recommend trying them before the Mindfreak show at the Luxor. As for the Cirque du Soleil shows, this doesn't really qualify as a true Cirque production...go see one of the others.

It's funny how you can travel half way across the country and run into people that you never run into at home. Such was the case Friday night when we ran into our eye doctor and his wife at the Criss Angel show. Their seats were closer to the front but off to the side. He said that they could see much of the behind the scene stuff that the audience is not supposed to see. This is a bad deal for magic. I mean--we all know that there are trap doors, cables, wire's, mirrors, yada, yada... but nobody is supposed to see that.

Years ago, when I was working at one of Kirby Van Burch's magic stores, I had the privilege of watching several of his shows from backstage. I always told people that it was a made for television quality production...every night. Kirby took great care to block out any seats that might provide an audience member with glimpses due to bad angles. I would have thought that the Criss Angel producers would have done the same. Though the show was good entertainment, I felt let down from both the perspective of a magic show and a Cirque production.

Saturday we didn't have any plans and just enjoyed a leisurely day in Vegas.
Sunday we spent the day at the Grand Canyon. It was a cool day and very windy. They said the temperature at the west rim was about 55 degrees (F) and the winds were around 50 mph. They canceled the helicopter rides and there were no aircraft flying around the canyon due to the winds. It also made getting close to the edge a bit more exciting. All in all, it was a good day.

One thing that we did different on this trip to Vegas was staying in a hotel off of the strip. We're staying at The Residence Inn less than a mile from the strip and they have shuttles that go back and forth from The Mandalay Bay every 30 minutes. Since we are not gamblers, this worked out well for us. We have a much bigger room, breakfast, quieter atmosphere and still have easy access to the strip and airport.

Well it's an early flight in the morning so I'll wrap this up. I'm off work tomorrow (10/5), work Tuesday and Wednesday, then I'm off to New Hope in Holden MO for a Thursday through Sunday revival. I'll be back in Springfield for a Saturday morning American Christian Writer's meeting then to Holden for the evening service. Gonna be a great week! Hope that you have a great week, too!

John <><