My first year in the pastorate was filled with lots of twists and turns. Most of them were enjoyable and a few, well, not so much. One fond memory involves a room full of five grown men and about 500 helium filled-balloons, Someone on the leadership team had the bright idea of setting some balloons free in our city which would have some gospel information attached to them, in addition to the church’s Sunday service times and website information. We were backwoods zealots who employed cutting edge technology (balloons) to advance the priceless gospel. The entire church gathered out on the front lawn on a Sunday afternoon and allowed all the children to let the balloons be released into their providential flight itineraries, hoping they might land somewhere into the lives of people who needed to hear the Gospel (I’m cringing as I write this). Looking back on it, it wasn’t all that wise to choose this method of evangelism, even it did happen to be a blast for all of the kids. Honestly, at the time I was actually excited about where those balloons would land and who would receive this unique form of witness from the little flock I was shepherding. One of the deacons looked at me and, sensing my nervous energy about how we would get all the balloons filled and ready to fly before children’s church finished up, said to me in his deep southern drawl, “You gotta wait, Jeff. Patience is a virtuous thang.” So, I heeded the advice of this redneck Socrates and we waited to find out what the outcome of our love-launch into the sky would be.
We got calls from all over. Calls from people like the rather unhappy farmer in a county about 20 miles away who had a mess of about 30 of the 500 balloons tangled up on the horns of one of his bulls. A few days later, we got a call from a neighbor down the road wondering why somebody had deposited three deflated balloons (I believed he used the phrase ‘religious litter’) with long ribbons and Christian rhetoric attached to them in his affluent, gated-community front yard. I remember another call from someone who chewed us out because her toddler found one balloon in their back yard, and she then prophesied to us with fire about the certainty of other children finding our bible-balloons and choking to death on them. Happy, happy, happy. On a scale of 1-10 the holy helium experiment was a big honking pop. It may have been at that time when I started really seeking to rest in the sovereignty of God concerning the salvation of the souls of man. Thou shalt not rely on evangelism balloons became the eleventh commandment for me during that time.
Patience, indeed, is a virtuous thang and we appreciate yours as we worked toward our upcoming release of first episodes of The Ricochet. We have filmed four episodes, all of them with me sharing a short teaching. Doing this allowed us to work out the kinks in the new set design and also to allow me to adjust to the new format of communicating. This week, I will welcome my first two guests to join me on the set and we will film an interview of these two fellows and a huge project they are working on concerning fostering Kingdom relationships across racial lines. With the terrible events in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend, it is becoming abundantly clear that there is a need for wise, balanced and courageous Kingdom voices to speak to the subject of race relations in the Church. The government has never made anything lastingly better, and waiting on them or any other social program to bring reconciliation between the races is a wasted effort. Now is the time for the followers of Jesus to take the reins, and the two men who will film with me this week are part of a diversified group who have a vision for how to begin making significant changes among the various tribes within the Church of Jesus Christ. Our plan is to begin releasing for viewing the first episodes of The Ricochet in the next 14-30 days. Keep being patient please!