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Yearly Archives: 2011

Three In One

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Everything I’m running into recently is saying the same thing to me. I’m reading two books at once, unrelated to one another. One is scholarly and the other may be written by a ‘goof ball’; I don’t know yet, but they both shout the same message. We just got in Jason Gray’s new song, “I Will Find A Way,” (comes out on his new cd this month) and it says the same thing, talks of Jesus’ incarnation. Jason has sent a link to the site that has the text that was the inspiration for that song: Walt Wangerin’s “An Advent Monologue.” (I think that it’s in Walter’s book called Ragman.) Anyway, it’s very rare that everything going on around me seems to suggest the same message; I just thought it strange and strange enough to talk about in this newsletter.

Things are just weird. I see so much evidence of God in everyday life, and at the same time I see so much aggressiveness against the Love of God around me. Sometimes I get a kick out of how people view my Faith. I mean friends and relatives that simply think that I’m just stuck in tradition and locked up in yesterday. I know my gray hair doesn’t help dispel that image, but I just know what they’re thinking as we talk: ‘poor thing, sad really!’ Now, that disappoints me a bit. I’ve spent many, many years evaluating, reading, studying : pages and pages, tape after tape, DVD after DVD, trying to settle in my heart this Faith that I’ve hung on to for so long. It was in April 1963 that I came to the place of not being able to dismiss the Gospel in my life any longer. Even back then, people didn’t give believers much credit for their Faith. I remember people calling Faith a ‘crutch’ that silly folks needed to get along in the world. I mean, it was just my ‘inability to cope’ that led me to be ‘religious’. Yep, ‘only very weak people really believed! They had no choice, the poor simpletons.’ Now, I wouldn’t mind that people think I’m silly if they at least gave me a little credit for having completed a complex and critical search, but, No! They have to put me in a basket where people of Faith are just unaware and unlearned. But I don’t feel that’s the case. I’ve been willing to ‘not believe’ if I can just be convinced; but in all those years, I just can’t come to the same conclusions that unbelievers can so easily come to.

But none of this is new; it’s as old as when the message began. Remember what Moses wrote about in 1Kings 19:18? Elisha was complaining to God that all had lost their way, turned from God, but God assured him that He still had 7000 Israelites that had not bowed the knee to Baal. Feel like Elisha sometimes? So little hope and so few believers- that sounds just like today, but it was thousands of years ago at a time of little hope and little understanding and hardly any obedience to the Word of God. All was seemingly lost. However, now as then, we should have hope, even if the ‘poll numbers’ look bleak. Israel, God’s chosen, just didn’t get it even after being delivered from the secular grasp of Egypt. Following Moses, the Prophets declared their messages about God and Israel with little hope. The number of believing people in the whole world was down to just a handful. It was a terrible moment for Faith. Those Prophets were, for the most part, outside the religious community, not part of the in-crowd, rascals mostly, numbering only a few. They kept the Faith for hundreds of years, years that were certainly discouraging years for Prophets. Well, that is unless you’re a Prophet that knows and believes that God is with them no matter what is going on around them or to them. These were men and women called by the love of God to share His ways, His heart. They were not people inspired by their surroundings to Faith, rather they were men and women inspired in spite of their surroundings. They were inspired simply because they knew and were convinced that God was with them. That is what everything is saying to me now. That’s what keeps coming out of the couple of books I’m reading, the song I’m singing and the experience I’m experiencing.

Seems everywhere I turn that’s the sign I’m getting. God is present with you. Maybe that’s not big enough for some, but for me, knowing it in my heart departmentalizes everything else into sub-levels of living. God was with Adam, with Moses, with David, and with Paul; no matter where they were, He was with them. The simple fact of His being with them brought their purpose and their futures into view. It does the same for us. Knowing that the Kingdom of God is not meat nor drink but Righteousness, and Peace and Joy in the Spirit of God is the first thing of Grace. My Faith is being convinced of something that is not shaken by what goes on around me. And, it’s something that I do not hold on to out of some weakness, but its very nature strengthens me.

Now for those folks that pronounce ‘poor thing’ over me, there is loneliness in that thought. They have to live with that loneliness within their lives that I do not have to bear. My Faith is not a tradition; in fact I’m kind of repelled by traditions. It has been well thought out, it’s an experienced Faith. It’s not fear that drives me. It’s not simply a lack of searching out the truth that causes me to trust in a 6000 year old message. For all the critics, I’m not hanging on to something because I bought into it years ago and just won’t admit that I’ve been wrong. No, I’m holding on because I truly believe, having been convinced of something worth living for, worth carrying to my death.

C.S. Lewis called it a ‘dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal (Father, Son, Spirit) life’ saying that it was to be played out in each one of us. It was a mingling of God the Father, and the Son and the Spirit in our lives. It is not necessary that it be predictable, not necessary that it be as we imagine, it is not obligated to be understood, it is only necessary that we permit it to take place in us: the delight of the Father’s creation, the son’s dying for us and the action of a living Spirit, who has come for us, blended into our lives. The necessary part is the presence of God in our lives. The joy of having found Him, and in doing so, finding something that is bigger, better, more than wonderful to spend our days with. It’s a big picture God, not just of every moment of our lives but for the whole length of our lives. His gift is more than just the sentiment of a Santa’s gift, it’s a gift delivered with great Passion, a gift that came with a huge price and investment on God’s part. It should not be one that we would take for granted, thinking that He might not stay and enforce it. This gift is called an adoption in the Word of God. That’s God’s way of affirming for us that we’re included in Their lives, which means They’re included in ours. It is a mingling of His Life with our life to the point where you can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. It’s a daily encounter with the One who imagined a purpose in our lives when we barely can find our way to the store and back. He can be the GPS of our lives and just importantly wants to be a GPS in our lives. Lewis knew that Joy and God were connected, and the one (Joy) did not exist without the other.

Everything we do is God filled. It may not be that we do everything Godly, but God is present and in us, on us, by us, mingling with our very daily lives. Daily, there may not be any burning bushes, no cloud by day and fire by night. He may not be in the wind, in the fire, but He is a small quiet voice for us. He is with us when we understand and He’s with us when we don’t have a clue. He is present in the calamity and in the Peace. We, as believers, should perhaps take no thought for tomorrow but trust in God; we should know He is with us even if there are only 7000 believers that have not bowed the knee to Baal. I have a quote on my desk that stays in front of me always: “Beginning empty handed and alone frightens the best of men. It also speaks volumes of just how sure they are that God is with them.”

Jason Gray & Finding Favour

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Transmitting to a New Generation

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I’m writing this letter the Tuesday following our fundraiser for purchasing the new WBVN transmitter. That whole day was a miracle in many ways. It would take this complete newsletter to identify the amazing stories we could tell about the kindnesses shared with us, the generosity shown to us and the meaningfulness of what happened that day. Truly, the relationship this ministry has with its listeners is always confirmed each time we get to share with one another on days such as that Friday, July 1st. WOW! is appropriate. In the middle of the conversations we were having on air that day, I was thinking about the future that that one day represented. You know if you do the math, you would probably come up with some figure that could represent the Life of Christ and how many times the Gospel message has been handed off to the next generation. If 40 years is a biblical generation, at least 50 peoples have handed off this Message between Christ and your children. Fifty generation’s hands have handed off the ‘touch’ of Christ to someone else to share it with the world. Fifty generations of people to have lived since the first one that actually experienced the miracles of Christ and witnessed his life ‘one-on-one’, and relayed that story to the next group of believers.

I get a kick out of hearing all the secular talk of the many ways we can preserve the earth’s resources. We can bring peace to all the world in our generation, how we are the hope of the world in this world’s future! I simply cannot find the ‘mustard’ to believe that, without the Love of God being shared at the same time. Yet, we can easily see that the self possessed creature (man) continues to assert more and more that what we are missing here is just more of a touch from man than a touch of God. It seems we have decided that, in our attempt to change the world for the better, to hand it off in our own ability, rather than having a confidence in the Spirit of God to change the world. As believers, it should not surprise us that the ‘system’ does not work for us. Government and ‘social networking’ were never meant to satisfy, never meant to be a solution or even a comfort zone for believers. Those things and their failures should, instead of frustrating us and discouraging us, drive us deeper and more closely into the heart of God, into the system of God not man. That will be the only real comfort zone we will find and we should not go there kicking and screaming but prayerfully and with praise.

Truth be told, the creature cannot say that it is right about anything. We will not be able to say that any of our inventions are better than the ones that have been offered by Wisdom itself: Father God. We’re left to say that we’re simply forgiven, that we need the mind of Christ to interpret the world around us and not the man-wisdom that is so currently prevalent (actually always has been prevalent). Do you think we are able to produce a perfect culture of people aside from God? The further we move away from God, does our world appear to be one that is getting better or worse? (This culture just cries pass the Prozac please!) I know that the enemies of God are happy to be ‘merry failures,’ but they are failures just the same.

What are we to do? Each generation gets one chance to hand the Gospel off to the next. Now, because of advances in communications, twitters, facebooks, emails, cell-phones and yes, radio stations that now can stream as WBVN does, literally around the world, we can hand off the Gospel in the most efficient and widespread ways ever possible. That same asset permits us to hand off a sterile, unproductive religion as well. This ministry is dedicated to a message of Grace and Mercy, a Grace obligated to the blood of Christ and His resurrection as its foundation. This world continues to try and climb out of that container of God’s Love and to journey its way on its own, leaving Him out of our equation for the future. The secular offers a self righteousness and it’s a way that seems right but that the end is calamity. The Scriptures talk of the danger of becoming self-sufficient: ‘for my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the foundation of living waters, and hewed themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water’ (Jeremiah 2:13). In reality, we are offered a choice between being our own source and one where Christ is the source. What will we hand down to our children, to the 51st generation to share? A simple moral and ethic? Or do we hand down a way of Life, ‘a newness of Life’ unlike any religion or belief system. Will we hand down a simple knowledge of a historical Jesus or a Jesus that can be experienced? The first sells books and tapes, but the second changes the heart and the lives of people.

His Grace is so powerful that we can, not because we are perfect but by the ‘permission of God’, be perfect because we stand in Him. Any righteousness, perfection and holiness are granted by His Grace not our actual deeds. What He did ‘50 people ago’ permits us to adopt those characteristics of God as our characteristics. They are gifts to us, not rewards for our actions. We qualify because of His blood, not our being justified on our own. A world separated and alienated from the Love of God is simply the opposite of what we need and what will work for us, but we are buying it hook, line and sinker! While we find it uncomfortable and terribly burdensome, we will need to recall the words of David in the twentieth Psalm: some trust in chariots, some in horses but we will remember the Name of the Lord! Ours is an inheritance of Faith not power! We will measure our days by our Trust and Hope and not in human strength and political successes! There can be Eden to live in through Christ, and maybe a little Heaven in the real world, but it is not Heaven that we live in just yet. There has never been a generation that experienced the totality of what God had hoped for us, intended for us…man gets in the way. In this life, Faith is an uphill thing, and as far as I can tell, there’ll be no coasting here. We will have to just make up our hearts to praise when it goes our way and praise when it goes against us. We trust in something unrelated to our best, trusting in His best.

Within the next few weeks, perhaps by the time you get this letter, we will install that new transmitter. It will reinstate the lost signal strength we experienced awhile back. It will run more efficiently, it will be the latest technology replacing 16 year old technology. And, while those are terrific reasons to be delighted, the other thing that it will do is step us into the future. As I stated during the fundraising, it is our goal to wear the new transmitter out and have to have another 20 years from now! If we do that, there will be children of our children to hear this message for the 51st generational time. The Word of God through CCM and His character and Spirit will be housed here. That transmitter is more about Him than it is about a radio station. It’s about His Love and not our love. It’s about His service and sacrifice and not about ours.

Hebrews 10: 19-24 says it for us, ‘having therefore, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh. And having a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession or our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised. Let us consider one another to provoke unto Love and Good (inner) Works.’ That is the goal of this radio ministry! That new transmitter gives us that opportunity to continue, to go on and encourage one another to Love and Grace. At least fifty times the Gospel has been passed on to another generation. God is the same yesterday, today and forever; ours is to declare that to each succeeding generation…thank you for making that possible over FM 104.5.