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October Newsletter-Nursery Rhymes

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Almost every nursery rhyme has a true story behind it. Humpty Dumpty was actually King Richard III, and the famous farmer’s wife from the Three Blind Mice was supposedly Queen Mary I. Baa Baa Black Sheep was about taxation, and The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe was referring to the British Empire trying to control its colonies.  I remember writing about Rub A Dub Dub about 8 years ago.  I later found out the story behind that rhyme and guess I’ll not be able to use that one again for a newsletter.  Stories, well, some people think that’s what the Gospel is, fiction based on some tale handed down from  ages ago.  Given all that’s going on in the country, in the world, or just in our little circle of life, we had better hope with all our hearts there is something in our ‘story’ that’s real and practical for your daily journey.  From most everything I’m seeing, looks like many people are facing tough times, most very stressful situations.  I’ve only found one thing that overcomes those things: Christ Jesus.  I guess I couldn’t come up with a more complicated answer, but really can’t offer a simpler one either.  I’ve written a lot lately about trusting, about Faith, and the consistency of Hope in our beliefs.  Seems to me we are all in a bit of rough water right now and, while it’s always been turbulent waters for each generation, as far as I can tell ours is ‘foot peddled’ to the max.  Books, experts, and leaders struggle to find much more than that to define the ‘bottom line’ about the world condition to us.

I write a lot about Mark 4, the disciples are in a boat, crossing to the other side, when a violent storm begins to blow.  It was not just rough seas; it was a killer storm.  The disciples feared for their lives.  They panicked, cried out just like we would do, I suppose.  Waking a sleeping Jesus, they asked, ‘don’t you care that we are perishing?’  That ‘don’t you care’ is pretty telling of their mindset; we might be guilty of saying that ourselves in times like those.  ‘Don’t you care?’ asked of the One that made them, called them, was a companion to them, is kind of a weak question when you think about who was addressed.  In other words, Jesus ‘do something about this, don’t you understand!’  Jesus simply rebuked the storm and enforced Peace.  But, not to miss a teaching moment, Jesus asked, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no Faith?’  That same Jesus has promised to be in our boat as well, he’s with us, calming our hearts and eventually the storm, but we are still in the boat.  I write about the Peace of God a bunch and all my days seem to be punctuated with the realization of His Love and companionship, but I just haven’t found anything more necessary or perhaps more important than the confidence and the comfort that comes from knowing God is with us, in us, a part of our daily experience and stays with us no matter what we are going through.  Not talking a ‘good stick’ here- just have found that the embracing comfort that comes from knowing God is with us has become the most valuable of all I know about Christ.

Be careful (anxious) for nothing (literally, not once); but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’ (Phil. 4:6)

The only reason that Jesus could release Peace was because Peace was a place he stayed.  Peace is a place we can abide in and a place where He is.  Jesus was always aware that where God is present, Peace is present.  When we can’t seem to find our own peace, we’re in a place for finding God’s Peace, discovering He is enough, He has enough and is eager to dispense Calm to all.  There’s no fear in Heaven simply because He’s there.  Peace is not the absence of something; it’s the presence of Someone!  Actually, the Peace of Heaven overpowers the presence of something stressful in our lives!  The only thing the disciples needed to know as they entered the boat was that Jesus had told them to ‘go to the other side.’ Just knowing that, knowing that God’s will was for them to go across to the other side of the lake should have been enough for them to ignore or command the storm.  Rough does not have to be rough if God is with us.  It may be rough emotionally, but not too rough for us to receive the comfort of God and bring the Peace greater than our own understanding.

Through our Faith in Christ and in the ability that’s been given to us to hear the voice of God, we will get to the place we are to go, no matter what happens in between the going and the arriving.  Had the storm caused the disciples to turn, the will of God for them to find their destination would not have happened.  We foremost need to be patient and trusting, we will make it through the storm, cross the sea in our lives and get to the place we have been told to go.  Once Peace was established through Jesus, once the fear passed, they were no longer hindered by their environment.  We all need a little dose of not letting our environment determine our lives; Peter sank when he turned his attention from walking toward Jesus, instead turning his attention to the water.  Each of us that have been made alive unto God has been sent to live in Peace, enjoy the freedom of having been set free by the Gospel’s Good News.  On this journey we may occasionally pay a price in our emotions and flesh, but He has told us not to grow weary, not to be afraid.  Being Spiritual offers the opportunity to overpower, to calm, the carnal.

Enter the promise of His Hope and Peace even though there are giants in the land.  Quit roaming around the desert of fear and go ahead and enter into the Sabbath of His Faith.  Not talking being overly aggressive by trying to change everything, I’m talking about settling down and finding the Rest in Him.  Depend upon His promises of Grace and Companionship and know that He is Good.  I’m going to go one step further.  Until you have learned to praise him in the storm we have only experienced half the benefits of knowing Him.  Praising Him in the good times is easy and fulfilling for the moment.  Knowing Him and praising Him in the storms, praising Him all the time with thanksgiving brings us another half of knowing God.  To know Him only when things are going great is a terrific blessing; knowing Him in both the good and the bad is to understand the true compassion of God and His willingness to be with us always, and ‘don’t you care’ is removed from our vocabulary and conversations with God.

Big Daddy Weave/Chris August/Unspoken (BDW DVD Recording)

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September Newsletter-Optimistic

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I want to write about the trouble we see all around us.  That doesn’t make me very comfortable because WBVN is an encourager.  So, let me just say this, I am not pessimistic.  I am not ‘doomed and gloomed.’  I’m excited about the future, I am not overwhelmed. We actually have everything we need to make it through this because of the present Spirit of God in our lives.  We are new, eternal creatures and big picture should be our vision in all the things we experience.  Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to talk about the tough times we all are experiencing.  Before I’m done I hope you will hear optimism in what I want to share.  God is Good and all things work for Good in the end.  His big picture eternal purpose for each of His creatures is to bring us to Himself; it’s just that when viewing it from our perspective, the road is not always just as we planned or hoped it would be.

This is not a letter about being in the ‘last days.’  Actually, scripturally, no one knows if we are in them or not.  We are given clues to make sure that we’re not surprised and also to comfort our hearts, but no one actually knows for sure, so let’s take that off the table for now.  I want to talk a bigger picture than that.  A picture so large it covers the whole story of the Gospel and not just a generation or dispensation.  It’s a Truth that has and does remain True in every generation, the first one to the last one, and the comforting part is that the things going on in the earth do not surprise God and they should not surprise us either. Knowing that, it still doesn’t take the sting away from our broken-heartedness and disappointment many times.

Here’s my first generalization.  In the Creation, God made being independent and narcissistic toward Him a ‘hard place,’ and did that so that we might reconsider our separation from Him, and that this reconsideration could lead us to all Truth.  Let me say it like this, as a child when you got too close to a red-hot stove you learned real quick to stop any behavior that might have you touch the surface of that stove.  Creation is designed in such a way as to generate that same wisdom.  Without trouble: me, you, our family, friends, etc, would have no hope.  Many times it’s the ‘rub’ that makes us pay attention, when otherwise we might just continue down a road that we should not want to travel.  Life is like a tire.  What wears tires out? They are always going in the opposite direction than the pavement.  The result is we peel a bit of the rubber away each trip, each day, and finally, if left unattended, tires blowout.  They would last much longer if they were placed in an environment to protect them and never were placed on the highway.  Going against the grain always has a price.  In our lives, the price is designed to wear us down; designed to create heat (friction) so that we might pause a moment and reconsider how we’re living and perhaps adjust the amount of friction we are creating in our lives. We might turn around, start traveling downhill rather than uphill climb all the time.  We benefit from our having confessed how stupid we’ve been, turn from our current behavior and choose to follow the Wisdom of God in our lives and ‘repent’ from our foolish ways.  That’s tire ministry.  Simply, God created a judgment into the system of Life that judges our lives and creates an alarm that should let us know we need to change our ways.  A loving God does that, One that cares and seeks us out to try and persuade us to gather with Him in this Life experience. 

Repentance is not just saying we’re sorry; it’s turning from our present direction of living.  Turn toward the Light and opposite the darkness we currently walk in, moving out of one into the other.  Our All Mighty gives us the Word of His Power to live, by stepping into the Light that Word will be a lamp, helping us not to stumble as though in darkness.  Everything, in the first generation through this generation, has been about dividing the Light from the dark.  That’s the first thing God did in Genesis is to separate One from the other.  God’s Life is made up of Good and evil, Life and death, Blessings and curses, Life that reproduces itself and increases or a life that’s sterile, withers away and dies.

I say all that just to simply suggest that all the things we see going on around us, and to us, is part of the order of God’s Wisdom of the Creation.  As we separate ourselves, as we choose against Him, as we declare our independence, as we say ‘no’ to Him we will and should expect more and more evidence of friction in people’s lives.  So much is self imposed.  God is still dividing today.  Jesus said he came as a fire to separate, to purify Life so that we could perceive the Gold that is in that Fire.  It is a Fire that does not condemn, but clarifies.  At its best it produces a response from us in tenderheartedness, at the very least, it hardens our hearts.  Still it produces the most important choice we make in our lives: Him or not Him.  Most importantly, ‘these things must take place.’  They are necessary according to Jesus.   To actually witness Jesus’ words come true in each generation should make it obvious that the Gospel is True, that the purpose is God’s all along.  God has taught us, witnessed to us, shared with us, what will take place if we choose not to have relationship with Him.  There is another side to that coin and it’s this: the creature is perfectly able to dismiss the obvious and ‘love the darkness.’  He can do that with ‘eyes wide open.’  It’s really baffling to see that but we see it every day.  It’s still a choice we all must make: to choose a Way that leads to Living the God kind of Life or choosing a way that ‘seems right unto man’ but the end there of is dying.  Friction, baby, friction!

When Jesus taught that these things must take place, he then immediately turned and said, “Do not be afraid.” He knew full well that you (and you have to isolate it down to just you), if you abide in the Shadow of the Most High you will be Blessed.  Life may not always be easy, but you will be Blessed just the same.  Right in the middle of all the turmoil, heartache, and disappointment you can Rest in a place that God actually stays with you at all times, in everything.  Our environment’s not isolated from trouble, but it does offer insulation so that trouble does not burn us.  The ‘kicker’ is you must abide (stay home) in Him, His Light.  If we move away and step off in the darkness, we will have no clue of what is going on around us.  Darkness is where you’ll get ‘cold-cocked’ most of the time.  You don’t see it coming simply because of the natural blindness of being in the dark.

Wisdom said we shouldn’t be surprised when we see or experience various trials.  But more importantly, ‘choose you this day whom you will serve.’  At one of our concerts Rich Mullins once pointed out, ‘God doesn’t have any grandchildren-just children.’  That’s very hard truth to enforce in our lives but everyone, even those closest to us, have to make that personal, powerful choice for themselves.  As many of us can attest to, it hurts to watch that take place.  But, making the choice is necessary for each one, and personally necessary!  It would be easy to wonder why we never seem to get ahead of this Message from one generation to the next, but then I remember that each generation starts over at ‘0’ in their hearts.  Each generation arrives believing it can go its own way and perhaps rejecting the idea of God all together.  (Is it ok to say, ‘dumb as a box of rocks’ here?)  God asked the same question to each generation that He asked the first generation: “Where are you?” or more simply: “Who do you say I am?”  And predictably, each generation thinks it’s smarter than the believers before them, thinking themselves to be wise, they become fools, wise in their own eyes.  You know the ones!

666 is symbolic of the perfection of man, a symbol of the kind of man that would appear in not only the last day but seemingly every day.  It’s an independent man being the best man can be as man.  Man offering man the most he can do bodily, soulishly, and spiritually, fulfilling all his needs by himself apart from the Love and Wisdom of God, a counterfeit triune deity of his own making.

Could be the last days…. might not be.  Nevertheless, it’s your last days, and we need to make the most of them in Christ either way!  This is a big picture Story that begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation.  It’s a Story of our Father God seeking to search us out because He is Love, desperately searching to bring us near.  Friction was placed in the Creation to try and facilitate that relationship.  Some respond to that friction and some do not.  Progressively, as the world embraces the Spirit of Anti-Christ, these things must come to pass. Hopefully the pressure helps clarify and exposes the necessity of knowing Him, and at the very least it can reveal our hearts to others and perhaps to ourselves.  We desperately need that.  Even so, we can do as The Master says, be of Good cheer in the middle of all things.

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