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Magic is not Just for Children

Baby examining grassMany think of magic as being a kid’s thing. It’s not. Kids don’t need it. Adults do.

Don’t get me wrong, kids enjoy magic programs. Magic can be a great tool for clearly presenting a memorable lesson. However, kids, especially younger ones, don’t need it because they haven’t lost their sense of wonder. They can still see the wonders, large and small, that surround us every day.

As we grow up, we tend to loose this sense of wonder. The wondrous is still there, certainly. We just seem to loose the ability to recognize it. We slowly turn into ordinary people doing ordinary things in an ordinary world.

You’ve probably seen a parent trying to show something to a small child, something the adult thinks is interesting or important. However, the child can’t be bothered with this “important thing,” because he’s too engrossed in examining a blade of grass, a pebble, or a bug. The parent thinks the child is missing out on something, but I’m convinced that the parent is missing out on even more. The parent can no longer see that every blade of grass really is a thing of wonder!

In Terrible Trifles, G. K. Chesterton wrote, “I assure you. The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” Adults need to rediscover what children already have, a sense of wonder.

That is what I love about magic: its ability to inspire wonder. It can, at least for an instant, pull back the curtain of ordinariness and remind people of wonder.

Christians especially should have a sense of wonder. If God lives in us, we are not ordinary, and have no business leading ordinary, passionless, joyless lives. If we recognize this world as God’s handiwork, then, even in its current fallen state, we should be able to see the wonders of God all around us. Even in a simple blade of grass.

Posted by Brad Brown, on January 21, 2014
Category: Random Thoughts, Status Report | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Christmas is Coming!

The cultural juggernaut that is Christmas is coming! Can I be honest with you? There’s a lot about Christmas that I really don’t like. There, I said it.

Stressed out at Christmas!I don’t like the stress and traffic. I really don’t like the display of consumerism and greed. I don’t like that people feel compelled to spend money they don’t have to buy people stuff they don’t need. I don’t like that people are made to feel like a failure if they can’t deliver a Christmas experience that rivals any Norman Rockwell illustration. And I really, really don’t like that in a holiday that’s ostensibly all about Jesus, he typically takes last place.

That’s right, Bah Humbug!

So, why would someone who thinks like this offer a Christmas show?

Because I want to help reconnect people to the reality of what we are supposed to be celebrating: The creator-God taking on flesh so that he could bear our sins and make a way for our salvation. If there’s ever been anything worth celebrating, that’s it!

Having ranted about my displeasure about much of the way we celebrate this holiday, I should make it clear that I’m not anti-Christmas. I love the lights, decorations, carols, gifts, and even Santa. I love the time with family and friends. My Magic of Christmas show isn’t designed decry the excesses and problems. Instead, it simply celebrates Jesus!

Like all my shows it’s designed to be fun. It’s full of laughter, amazement, and lots of audience participation. It includes a number of original routines designed specifically for the Christmas season.

In Christmas Cards, I bring a child onstage and we work together to determine the best part of Christmas. It’s a fun routine with a magical surprise at the end. (I’m sure you can guess that we decide that the best part of Christmas is Jesus.)

"The Magic of Christmas" program.The core of the show is a routine called More to the Story, which centers on a Christmas story book. Everybody knows the Christmas Story—or at least they think they do. But there’s so much more than just a baby in a manger. This routine starts in the manger, but then traces back through history to reveal this baby in the manger is actually the God who created the world. (John 1:3) It then goes forward, looking at why Jesus came, to die for our sins. (Isaiah 53:5) Finally, it points out that the “Christmas Story” isn’t over. We each get to decide how it ends for us, by how we respond to what Jesus did! (Acts 3:19)

If your desire is to reconnect people to Jesus this season, then I want to partner with you! I’d love to bring The Magic of Christmas to your church this year. Contact us to discuss details, including available dates.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Posted by Brad Brown, on November 10, 2013
Category: Programming, Random Thoughts | Tagged , | 1 Comment

“Christianity” is Meaningless!

Sunbeams Backlighting CrossWhat does it mean when someone calls themselves a Christian? Many times, when we hear someone use the word “Christian” we assume they mean the same thing we do. However, that is not a safe assumption at all. Unfortunately, the word ha so many different meanings, that it has become basically meaningless.

As an extreme example, a few years ago, Anders Breivik killed 76 people in Norway. The news reports revealed he was a Christian. It is true that he considered himself a Christian. It is also true that he was an atheist. He viewed himself as a cultural Christian–as opposed to being a part of the Islamic culture. Even Richard Dawkins, who is a leading figure in the “new atheists” and very outspoken anti-Christian, has referred to himself as a “cultural Christian,” as he likes certain aspects of Anglicanism. There is also a movement  of “Christian atheists” who do not believe in God, but follow Jesus’ moral teachings.

Even within the church, the definition is not at all clear. Around five years ago, there was an Episcopal priest who stirred up controversy by claiming to be both Christian and Muslim. She was eventually defrocked for refusing to recant her Muslim faith. So, at least in her eyes, there is no conflict between the two faiths.

Also there are at least two major but distinct belief systems that call themselves Christian. In my opinion, they are different enough that they should be considered different religions entirely, but they share the same name. These two groups are generally identified broadly as Conservative and Liberal Christians. (It should be made clear, these designations have nothing to do with being liberal or conservative politically.) Basically, Liberal Christian Theology teaches that the Bible is just stories written by men, and is a product of their times and beliefs. Therefore, it can be reinterpreted to fit modern times and ideals. Many would deny the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, and instead focus on the need for social action.  Conservative Christians, on the other hand, have a higher view of Scripture, generally believing it to be the inspired Word of God. At least generally, Conservative Christians would believe Jesus was God incarnate, and that salvation comes through faith.

So, what does it mean when someone calls themselves a Christian? It means they may or may not believe in God. If they do, it may or may not be the God of the Bible. If they do believe the Bible, they may or may not take it at face value. They may or may not believe in the divinity of Jesus. Even if they do believe that, Jesus may or may not be the only way to God. So, in other words, it really doesn’t mean much of anything.

I tend to just avoid the term “Christian” completely. I wish I could find another more clear, unambiguous term for my beliefs, but so far I haven’t found one. (Which is why I still haven’t figured out what to put in my Facebook profile under “religion.”) When I do need to use the label, I’ll sometimes refer to myself as a “Biblical Christian,” trying to point back to the biblical source, rather than man made creeds. For me, the dividing line between “Biblical Christianity” and other perspectives is one’s view of Jesus. According to the Bible, Jesus is God in human form. He lived a sinless life, and died in our place. Salvation is only possible by faith through grace. Anyone who disagrees over those core principles is not a Christian in the biblical sense, even if they are Christian in some other sense of the word.

So, when you come across a “Christian,” take time to dig a little deeper to see what they mean. Don’t assume they mean the same thing you do.

Posted by Brad Brown, on September 17, 2013
Category: Random Thoughts | Tagged | Leave a comment

Do we really care about truth?

question the answerI see a lot of arguments online. Arguments about everything from God, to politics, to global warming, to the dangers of diet soda. People tend to choose their side and stand their ground against all attackers. Sometimes this is done through logical arguments. More often, it’s done by attacking and insulting those on the “other side” so we can feel superior and justified in disregarding without consideration anything they say. After all, there’s no need to listen to an idiot, a racist, a homophobe, a socialist, a misogynist, or whatever the appropriate derogatory label is for the “other side.” It seems we’re only interested in scoring points for our side.

Far too often, what gets lost in all this is the search for truth. I want my beliefs to accurately reflect reality. This includes my beliefs about God. If I am wrong about what I believe, I want to know. This is not to say I’d take my beliefs lightly. I do not. I have what I believe to be very good reasons for my beliefs about God, which include Scripture, personal experience, philosophy, history and science. While I’m sure I don’t have every detail right, and there’s a lot I make no claim to understand,  I’m pretty confident I’m correct on the major points. It would take quite a bit to convince me otherwise. But if I am wrong, I want to know.

I find this perspective to be incredibly freeing. I don’t have to be afraid that someone will challenge my beliefs or present an argument I can’t counter. If someone can show me where I’m wrong, I’ll be grateful.

I’m not saying we should blindly follow whatever ideas sound good. As Ephesians 14:14 warns, we must not be “tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching” or “influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.” Instead, I’m encouraging us to think critically, and examine our beliefs, as well as opposing viewpoints.

Posted by Brad Brown, on September 11, 2013
Category: Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

You’re Special! (But who cares?)

You’re special, there’s no one else in the world exactly like you! But that doesn’t mean you’re valuable.

Though rarity is a factor in the “supply and demand” equation, on its own it is does not determine of the value of a thing, or a person. Something can be completely unique, and completely worthless. For example, suppose the neighbor’s dog leaves a “present” on my lawn. That pile of doggie doo is completely unique. There has never been and never will be another one like it. If uniqueness made something valuable, then it would be of tremendous value.

Our society tells us value comes from what others think of us. The “beautiful people” are valuable, as are the ones with sufficient talent in sports, music or whatever. Popular people, such as those on reality TV, are really valuable. Unfortunately, this definition requires people to measure up to some societal ideal. Most of us never will, and even for those who do, it won’t last.

Ultimately, something is worth only what someone else  is willing to pay for it. If you’re selling a house, for example, it’s true value is not determined by what the seller thinks it’s worth. It actual value is simply what someone else is willing to pay for it. When it comes to individuals, we don’t get to decide what we’re worth. Neither do those around us. The only being in the universe qualified to judge the value of an individual is God himself. He created us in his own image, and he paid the ultimate price for us. If you ever question your what you’re worth, it can be answered in one word: “Jesus.” Jesus gave his life for you, and, since he doesn’t make mistakes, you really are worth it. You’re worth it. Not because you measure up to God’s standard. (You don’t.) Not because God needs you. (He doesn’t.) You’re worth it because God says you are.

Posted by Brad Brown, on August 21, 2013
Category: Random Thoughts | 1 Comment

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