Monday, August 9, 2010

Play What You Know: Witnessing

Elaine caught me just as I was headed for a walk in the sunshine (a rare moment in Tillamook this summer). “Hey, I just wanted to give you your free ticket to the fair," she said, handing me an envelope. Thanks for your willingness to play for the gospel sing on Wednesday.”
My stomach tightened. Even though I’m only playing one song, I have been nervous about it. I’ve got to choose a song that will appeal to both churched and non-churched fair attendees. I don’t have the advantage of lyrics, since I play the clarinet. But I want to make a positive impression for Christ. I looked up at Elaine smiling at me from her SUV, “I haven’t decided what to play yet.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “Just play something you know. Play something you love that speaks to you.”

“Good idea, that’s what I’ll do,” I agreed, and she drove off. The more I thought about it, the more I saw a spiritual application in her advice. It’s what God is constantly telling us in His Word.

Do the Song You Know

Whether I’m playing my clarinet, writing, or sharing Christ with someone, it’s important to start with what I know. I would never play a song in public that I hadn’t practiced in private. And a much repeated mantra at writer’s conferences is to "write what you know," either from personal experience or research.

As a Christian, it’s a pretty great idea to share what I do know about God with others (as opposed to know). I get to know Him by reading His love letter (the Bible), spending time with Him (prayer) and His kids (at church), and learning through experience that what He says is true (obedience). Apostle John put it this way, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us (1 John 1:3, italics added). John shared the song he knew, and it got people excited about God.

Do the Song You Love

Secondly, when I play for others, I try to pick songs I love. I have heard musicians sing and play music they obviously don’t care about. And it shows. It’s the same thing with writing. I write about subjects I am passionate about – relationships, God’s Word, and the little ‘aha’ moments of life when I discover a new delight.

When I talk about my relationship with God I want that same passion to come through. Do I sound bored or legalistic about my beliefs? Or do I sound like I am totally in love with Christ and excited about following Him?

Play a Song that Speaks to You

Even though I can’t sing and play my clarinet at the same time (now that might attract attention at the fair!), I still pick songs that have a message. And I hope that comes across in the way I play it – whether it is jaunty, wooing, sorrowful, or pure joy. I also love writing about what matters to me personally – new discoveries in the Word, hurts healed, lessons learned, and the fun of living. I have written ad copy, and made good money at it, but it was hard to get excited about extruders, Persian rugs, and expensive vacation homes, like I do about our great God!

I used to think that when I talked about God I had to use a certain method – the four spiritual laws, the Romans Road, the color book. Now I realize it works best to draw others in with what speaks to me. I love God because He has proven himself faithful in every situation of my life. My heart is clean, because Jesus took my punishment. Even though I face pain and trouble in this life, I know He is with me every step. Christ walks me when it is dark and gives me joy I can’t explain. He infuses me with power to do His will.

Maybe, like me, you have been nervous about how to share Christ, like I was about playing at the fair this week. You feel like the pressure is on. You may only get one chance and you don’t want to blow it. I want to encourage you with Elaine’s God-inspired wisdom. Say what you know about God (and if you don’t know much, I challenge you to read at least 90 seconds in your Bible every day. You’ll be amazed how much you’ll have to talk about!). Secondly, focus on what you love about the Lord and your life in Him. Finally, tell others what speaks to you from His Word and what He is teaching you day by day. That will make your song authentic, winsome, and honoring to the God we serve and adore.

I would love to hear from you. Take a moment to click on the word comment below and send me a message.
Beth Vice, 2010


  1. beth, thanks so much for sharing your writing. i have read them for a few months now and am always encouraged or uplifted and challenged to remember something that i haven't thought about for a while. i hope you are doing well! God bless :)

  2. Beth, this is a great post. We always do our very best for the Lord when we are totally ourselves. We speak out of experience then and no on can argue with that. People get to see the unique work of the Lord in each person. Excellent.

  3. Just visited your "Beth Vice ~ Christian Author and Speaker ~" blog and I was super impressed by its design and content.
    Miranda B.

  4. Good analogy and well organized.
    Marion Duckworth

  5. You do a great job of sharing thoughts and insights.
    Lydia Harris

  6. Just read your newly posted article, it's a well-written encouragement for witnessing. Of course it spoke about writing to me. Good job.
    Kathleen Wilcox

  7. Beth,

    Of course, I LOVED this article, and yes, yes, yes, relate so much. I too trust that as I play my arrangements for others, that the motive will be my personal experience and testimony.

    Now, the burning question: so what DID you play??

    Love & blessings as always,

    Jolene Boyd

  8. Hi Jolene,
    Thank you, I know that is your heart in all you do.
    What did I play? "Draw Me Close to You." It was freezing cold and the wind was blowing. My clarinet went flat and I had to stop and adjust it in the middle of the song. But it was a wonderfull experience and the crowd was delightful and gracious. I would do it again!