Posts Tagged ‘the simple truth’

My dad has a saying, “If you can’t dazzle ’em with brilliance, baffle them with [a compound word starting with “bull”]. While I don’t necessarily concur with all of that, I have heard many speakers who seemed to be trying to dazzle the audience with their brilliance and have left me feeling like Dad might be right. At the very least, I had no idea what they were saying and as such, by my judgment, they failed. The purpose of communication is to be understood, period.

Take my experience this week. I’m ministering to adults with developmental disabilities. This is a tough balance to strike. They aren’t kids, they are adults, so making it “kiddy” will not work. These folks are worthy of my respect and of my very best. The key is to present the information in a way they understand. After all, I am bringing them the most important message of all, the Gospel. These folks don’t need to know how smart I am. They don’t need to be dazzled, they need to hear the truth, the simple truth, in a way that they can understand, a way that honors God and them. I owe them that. I owe God that.

You owe your audience the same thing. An audience is a privilege. Not everybody gets one. Make sure you honor yours by giving them what God has given you in a way that they understand. That usually means it’s best to lead with the simple truth.

After all that’s what everyone needs to know and understand.

I went looking for something yesterday. I had mentioned the other day about it having been 20 years since the start of my ministry at the Creation Festival, well yesterday, I took the day and went back. It had been a few years since I was there–I’m guessing about five, but for some reason I was feeling strongly led to go back. I was having a good time, many things were the same, some were really different, but I was starting to feel like maybe I missed something. It was nice, even fun, but I was looking for more—a “bolt-from-the-blue” moment, that seemed to be eluding me. “Oh well, just enjoy the day,” I thought.

The evening portion of the day didn’t go quite as planned. I was going to have to cut my day short. My original plan was to stay through the final performances of the evening, catch a few hours sleep in my van and then make the drive home this morning. That was the plan but we were expecting a delivery, and I had to be home for it. The company decided to call me at the festival and schedule the delivery during a four hour window (who gets a four hour window for anything these days?) that started far too early for me to make the trip this morning, so I had to cut my day short and drove home last night. Now I really thought I missed it.

I went down to the stage for what would be my last band for the night. North Point Inside Out and something started to happen in my Spirit. There’s something about music… Then as I returned to my seat, there would be a worship music set, then the speaker and then I had to drive home. The worship leader started us off by singing Awesome God. Now what you need to know is when I first went to Creation in 98 there were two things I knew for sure. Half the bands would sing Shout to the Lord and every worship “set” would include Awesome God. As I started to sing, it came to me. I was drawn back to another time on that same mountain.

On that particular day I was there by myself, early in the morning, not another person around for “miles” (probably more like hundreds of yards but it felt like miles). I was alone and I was distraught. My ministry was struggling, I was hurting and I was ready to throw in the towel. I wanted something from God. A spiritual gift that would have probably changed my trajectory in life. I was literally begging, and in my spirit, I felt a gentle “No.” Instead I felt the call to “bring the Gospel simply, in a way everybody can understand.” This combination of words and pictures that I’ve been blessed to live out has been the result and yesterday I felt that purpose renewed and maybe reinvigorated. It was another reminder and a gentle nudge. I needed that.

I made this little cartoon as a reminder to me. The words oddly enough are from a song—not a hymn or a worship song, but an 80s rock song repurposed. The song is by Triumph. It’s called Hold on and it was written in praise of music. On that day on the mountaintop stopped being about music for me though and started to be about mission. While I continue to learn and study, I’ve chosen to accept that I may have to leave the “genius-ing” to the geniuses and focus on what I am called to do.

—bring the simple truth to the people and bring people to the simple truth.

SIMPLETRUTHI remember it like it was yesterday. I was alone on a literal mountain top in a place that holds great significance for me. I was on the lookout at Agape Farm, home of the Creation Festival. I was working on a project on the grounds and yes I had permission to be there. Many great things have happened in my spiritual life on that site. I saw my call to ministry fleshed out there, prayed with several people to receive Christ there, baptized my son there… The list goes on and on. For me it is sort of a Holy Place, but on that day, I had more questions than answers. I walked to the lookout before day light so I could watch the sunrise. As I stood there viewing what I could see of God’s beautiful creation (a fog had rolled into the valley), I began to pray. I was feeling spiritually insecure and I asked God for many gifts, one of which was the gift of tongues. The presence of God was thick on that mountain that day and I felt God say something I could not have expected. I felt Him say, “No, I want you to speak to people in a way that everyone understands.” That’s been my goal ever since.

So often I sit in classes and (forgive me if this sounds judgmental) it feels like people are trying to out-intellectualize each other. Using the buzzwords and the “fifty-cent words” and I get it, there is a real pressure to fit in even in a group of our peers, and yet I wonder. These are usually ministry classes, classes for people who are tasked with communicating the Gospel. I have to stop and wonder, do they speak like this to their congregations and if so, does anyone understand them. Maybe it’s just my call to the simple truth, but I doubt it. How intelligent one is matters far less than whether or not your audience understands what you’re saying. What you say doesn’t matter at all unless your audience understands because the purpose of communication is to gain understanding.

When it comes to communicating the Gospel, this is especially true. I’ve heard people wonder whether or not I use art as a crutch with my ministry. Maybe I do. I certainly don’t need to create when I speak, but I like to. Why? It’s one more point of connection. One more way to reach one more person with the truth that can set them free. I don’t care if people think I’m intelligent, or a great artist, or whatever. I just want to use every tool in my box to reach as many people and introduce them to Jesus.

It seems every time I speak somewhere, someone will thank me for bringing the simple truth. Some people may be put off by that, but for me there is no higher compliment for me. It shows me I am in the center of God’s will for my life…

The graphic for this post is from a favorite song from my teenage/young adult years, called Hold On, by Triumph. The song deals with music and holding on to your dreams, but I think of it every time someone tells me about the simple truth. Enjoy this beautiful acoustic version by lead guitarist Rik Emmett.