Breath as Gospel Tract
Breath as Gospel Tract
We’ve set out to create a publication not given to time, one you can take off the shelf years from now and still be moved by its pages.
I wrote this in our editor’s letter for our first issue. While true, I failed to mention the other side, that is, seeing Breath as a way of spreading the Gospel.
This morning I stopped by our local grocery store on my way back from the gym to pick up some eggs and milk for breakfast. Decked out in my sweaty workout clothes, I asked the cashier how she was doing as I was laying the carton and bottle on the conveyor belt and pulling out my credit card to pay.
“Well, I’m having the most blessed day. I’m alive and so thrilled to be able to give the Lord another day of praise for all that he has done for me. He is so strong, so wonderful. I can’t help but praise him. I’m doing so fine here working in the name of the Lord. Your total is $12.57.”
Wow. Isn’t that terrific? Here was a grocery cashier, working it as a living testimony of salvation at six o’clock in the morning. Once I had loaded the bag in my truck, I grabbed a Breath magazine I had in the back and ran back into the store and gave it to her. The other customers in line, all standing on tiptoes, were curious to see what I had come back to give her.
One day, now years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of finding my younger brother dead. He had killed himself that weekend. I had tried calling him for a couple of days, knowing intuitively that something had gone wrong, but my calls went unanswered. He hadn’t given any indication to anyone in the family that he had even thought about ending his life.
Going through the things in his apartment a couple of days later, I noticed some albums and books neatly stacked on one side of his couch. They were photo albums, school annuals, letters, things from his past. He had relived his life before stepping away from it for good. What caught my attention the most was the little collection of gospel tracts he had laid on top of everything else. Some were really old. I remembered a few even being mine. I had picked them up when I was filled with the Spirit as a teenager. I don’t know how he had them.
The next few months were filled with prayers and tears. Steve had been a Spirit-filled Christian, but Hebrews 6 loomed large in my mind because of the way he had lived the last few years of his life. I felt as though I couldn’t go on without knowing what had ultimately happened with Steve. Thankfully, the Lord confirmed that he made had it, but just barely. He had very little reward. I didn’t care. He could have mine.
If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so by fire. —1 Corinthians 3:15
I’ve thought about those gospel tracts for years. Had he repented that night with them? Did they save him? That I don’t know, but tears well up in my eyes each time I think of him sitting next to them on that stack of albums the night he died.
We’ve been thrilled hearing about Breath being displayed on coffee tables and on bookshelves. We think it belongs on the shelf with the best of Christian writing. But we also think it should be given away. It contains the Gospel, the “words of this life.” I doubt those gospel-tract writers ever thought their tracts were being read by a twenty-five-year-old the night he decided that the world would be better off without him. The Breath I gave that cashier might save somebody’s eternal life some day.
Why a Magazine, not a Book?
There are many, many Christian books. But there are just a handful of magazines. Books are much easier to do than magazines because book writers actually don’t have to go out into the real world and engage the culture. In fact, they don’t have to go anywhere at all. They can write book after book in the same room, using the same desk, sitting at the same chair, every time they want to publish a new title. They might have to write more than 120 pages to meet their publishers’ demands, but they’re free to stuff their work with personal stories, anecdotes, or illustrations to reach that minimum.
But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. —John, the Apostle
We decided to go the harder route and create a magazine because a magazine’s format is more copacetic with the way that the New Testament writers penned their Gospels and letters. The Gospels, especially, are structured in parables, scenes, and short discourses. When you read John’s Gospel, for instance, you see that he jumps from one scene to the next, one discourse to the next. His Gospel is like a mosaic, a number of small stories creating a larger picture of redemption. We’ve structured Breath the same way. Short articles filled with the Word without superfluous stories or anecdotes. A periodical where the sum is greater than its parts. It is our aim that when a reader reaches our postscript he will be that much further ahead in his understanding of God’s overall plan of redemption and his place in it.