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July 2012-Guillain Barre Syndrome

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It’s 3:43 a.m. and I know I am to write to you.  What I mean by that is my heart has finally let me know it is ok to share a few thoughts with you. Most of my letters are expressions of what Jane and I have come to know of the Joy of the Gospel, the Wonder of the Love of God in our lives.  This letter will be a bit more of a personal statement about the current event in our lives, the onset of Guillain–Barré syndrome on March 21st.  While a personal statement, it’s also kind of a blunt statement, that reflects the situation of being very critically sick and maintaining Faith.

Let me start by saying that this experience is not about increasing our Faith or testing our resolve.  Our Faith is like a balloon, and going through this experience has not added air to that Trust.  Likewise, I must say that we do not feel that it has taught us a new, great Truth.  Actually, it has created much difficulty.  I say that without complaint.  Many people have gone through times such as these; we are not experiencing anything different from what millions of other families have experienced.  But it has, as with everyone that has faced such issues, challenged us on every front, not just physically but in every facet of our daily lives.  Jane and I both find no attribution to the hand of God in this, as I mentioned, no lesson to learn from this. We Trust in a God of Love, Peace and Grace.  Our Faith is in a God who does not visit this kind of terror on His children, but comforts them during terror.  He does not require us to solve a great mystery to find blessings, but reveals Himself eagerly and freely to us.  He looks for us, seeks to be with us, hopes for us, loves us, cheers us on. He has paid a terrible, horrid price through the death of Jesus to reconcile Himself to us.  Jesus’ sufferings did that for us freely, not to be confused with these sufferings that Jane is going through.

For us, this current ‘experience’ is due not to the Will of God, but more due to Adam.  This creation we all walk around in is not the Creation that the Love of God started out with.  It’s been stained by the independence of Adam and cursed by Adam’s deeds.  It’s a fallen creation of Genesis 3 not the original of Genesis 1.  It’s a world that takes from our lives rather than gives to our lives.  What Jane has been going through, rather than adding to our Faith, has tried to subtract from it.  We do not believe that it is from God; He tempts no one, He rebuilds and refreshes.  We trust He does not diminish and damage His children’s lives.  This experience is like the tide, it tries to erode and wash away the foundation of our Faith, tries to wear it away and diminish its rocky shore.  God’s role in our lives is to do what He has done all along in our lives: support and encourage.  The Kingdom of God acts as a structure for all our life experiences to hang on, it’s the framework of our strength.  It’s much like the frame that a house is built on.  We recently had a dishwasher leak and it leaked for days underneath the flooring in our house.  That flood, if you will, damaged the drywall, the subfloor, it ruined the pad, molded the insulation, but it did not damage the structural studs or sheathing.  We simply replaced and repaired the damage and used the strong original structure to put everything back together.  In Life, when a flood comes (in this case Guillain-Barré) it rises up against our house, doing much damage sometimes, and in this specific case that Jane and I are facing, much damage has taken place.  But, even in this, the structure of Faith, the joists, studs and rafters have held strong, and we have began to prepare for restoration.

For many weeks now I have watched Jane wrenched with pain and tears, unable to control that pain and defend her body, a body raped by pain.  Many times I’ve seen her pray, many times I’ve witnessed her mouthing ‘nothing is certain but Christ.’  Jane did not learn to trust under these circumstances, during the pain and suffering; she learned to do that over the 40 years of experiencing the Grace of God.  That knowledge came from earlier Faith, not a lesson during this terror.  Prepared Faith gets her through it.  A Faith exercised before the winds and storms of life threaten, a Faith built on a Rock and not sand, make everything tolerable. That knowledge provided the structure for her to withstand this flood of sickness.  For us there is no hand of God here!  If there are any of God’s fingerprints they can be found on her strength and confession.  After all the suffering, Christ still remains.

During this I’ve seen things I never wanted to see, things I hope to never see again.  I’ve witnessed things that are humiliating for her, things required by the critical nature of this syndrome, things that hurt.  I’ve been broken-hearted for the injustice of it all, the contrast between what she has said and lived for 40 years and what she now faces.  We’ve had everything stripped away and live down to the bare-bones existence, day in and day out in a hospital room with pulses, fevers, bed sores, breathing rates, loud machines, sleepless nights of pain, paralysis, helplessness of being given a bath more akin to a car wash, tubes- lots of tubes, bags, a breathing vent, needles, what must be hundreds of meds to treat each system as it failed with the advance of Guillain-Barré, time learning to breathe again, swallow again, walk again, write again, speak again. Jane and I have a constant Faith that has been imprinted on our hearts.  Guillain–Barré has not revealed anything new about God’s Love, it has challenged it, tried to destroy it, but it has failed.

No terror, no pain has been able to wash away the tattoo placed on our hearts about the Love of God.  God Loved us first, provided a way to adopt us into His Family, provided a Righteousness not of our own doing, a Holiness that is tied to His Holiness, before the foundation of the world determined to seek us out, make effort to capture us in His Great Love and preserve us by the Spirit of God.  He was a Friend of Abraham and He’s our Friend as well.  We are His possession.  This moment is about His Faith place in us, His testimony of Comfort toward us.  The God that we trust and believe is Love and rather than a God that is waiting to condemn or cast us off for any immediate opportunity, we have found a God that is eager to embrace, restore and heal.

There have been days when I thought about what it would be like to denounce all we believe and what it would be like to just ‘hang it up’.  I don’t feel like I need the Gospel because either I or Jane are weak and just need that ‘perpetual crutch’ to lean on. There is nothing about Faith that is necessary for either to be stable, to be secure.  Our Faith is chosen, loved, treasured not for any reason other than the work of the Spirit of God to gift it to us.  I have sat at the hospital awake at 3 a.m. many nights and have been dismayed at what I saw happening.  I have thought of how much our ‘normal’ is not normal any more.  The person I saw just a few feet from me I did not recognize any more, pain had changed her expression.  Sometimes what I saw was a very sick person praying, praising and ‘listening to the angels sing, listening to music that came from the right hand of God, music that (Jane’s words) could be turned off and on like WBVN’.  I saw a sickness that distorted the calendar and the clock.

Nothing that had been secure prior to March 21st is secure today- well, except One.  We have not been destroyed.  And while we will not say our Faith is stronger because of this, we can say our Faith has survived the flood of a very terrible sickness.  It is a Faith that can be as Paul said, the same Faith in little and in much.  The structure of Faith that under girded our hearts remains intact and we hang on to the only thing that is certain: Christ!

June 2012 Newsletter-WBVN Creed

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June Newsletter WBVN Creed

“I believe that what I believe is what makes me who I am.  I did not make it, no it is making me.  It is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man…” Lyrics from “Creed” by Rich Mullins

WBVN began broadcasting the Gospel of Grace the afternoon of January 8th, 1990.  That’s considered the “start” of this ministry, however the real beginning of this ministry is more closely associated with a message rather than a date.  Our message starts with the simple truth that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.”  He is, and was intended to be by the Father, our everything, standing alone as the central figure in the Gospel message, sharing the stage with no other performer.  He alone has been made to us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption. (1 Cor. 1:30)  For that to be true, it’s our contention that while the Law had a limited purpose, Christ’s ministry is “limitless” and now stands as the only object of our Faith.  Paul taught that prior generations were spoken to by Moses and the Prophets “in many portions and many ways”, but in these days He has spoken to us in “His Son”.

Behavior modification based on the Law will not produce the Power of God we all hope for; the Power we all need!  Romans 1:16-17 instructs that a revelation of the Righteousness of God is what will empower us.  The Law had two revelations in it: one: you don’t measure up and two: no one else does either!  John 5:45 shows Jesus accusing the hearers of trusting the Law of Moses, setting their hope on ordinances rather than a “Faith” such as Abraham’s.  That kind of thinking was a mistake for believers then and it’s a mistake for us today!

The Law teaches if we do well enough, we’ll succeed.  Grace says receive Mercy and Peace and you will do well enough!  Paul said teaching the Law was a “the ministry of death and condemnation” (2Cor. 3:7,9), contrasting it with the ministry of reconciliation: teaching that in Christ, God reconciled the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. (2Cor 5:18-19)  We trust in the Scripture: “…the Gentiles which followed not after Righteousness have obtained Righteousness, even the Righteousness which is by Faith (a free gift).  But Israel, which followed after the Law of Righteousness, has not attained the Law of Righteousness…because they sought it not by Faith, but as it were by the works of the Law.  For they stumbled at the stumbling stone (Jesus). (Romans 9:30-32)  “For not knowing about God’s Righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the Righteousness of God…For Christ is the end of the Law for Righteousness to everyone that believes. (Rom. 10:3,4) “…For with the heart man believeth unto Righteousness”.  (Rom. 10:10)

As an “angel of light” the spirit of Satan wants believers under the Law.  He knows we’ll always be succeeding at one part but failing at another.  Our hearts know if we fail at one we’re guilty of all!  Therefore, we live in “self-condemnation” as well as the condemnation of those around us.  That knowledge will eventually lead us to just give up, becoming hopeless of ever pleasing God.  There’s only one solution, and its God’s solution offered to us through Faith: there’s no remedy except Jesus.  “Man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the Faith of Jesus Christ…by no works of the Law shall any flesh be justified…I (Paul) do not frustrate the Grace of God, for if Righteousness came by the Law, then Christ has died needlessly!” (Gal. 2:16,21)  “… the just shall live by Faith and the Law is not of Faith…Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us…that the blessing of Abraham (Righteousness by Faith) might come upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through Faith…. For if the inheritance be of the Law, it is no more a promise: but God gave it to Abraham (and us) by a promise…for if there had been a Law given which could have given life, verily Righteousness should have been by the Law…the Law as a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by Faith, but after that Faith is come we are not longer under a schoolmaster.” (Gal. 3:11-25)  The Law entered that the offense might increase (get bigger!!!), it added to our problem not the other way round. (Rom. 5:20)

“Tell me, you that desire to be under the Law, do you hear the Law?  For it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid and the other by a freewomen.  But he (Ishmael) that was born of the bondwoman (Hagar) was born after the flesh (was by Abraham’s ability and will); but he of the freewoman (Sarah) was by promise (by the Father’s promise)…these are the two covenants, one giving bondage (Law), one that is free (Grace)…now we brethren, as was Isaac, are the children of His promise.  But as then, he that was born of the flesh persecuted him that was born of the Spirit, even so it is now…(Now, we should) cast out the bondwoman (the old), for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the of the freewoman (the new).  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage…Christ is of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law, you are fallen from Grace.” For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of Righteousness by Faith.  If you be lead by the Spirit you are not under the Law. (Gal. 4:21- 5:18)  Much of the time when we mix Law and Grace, we’re trying to put new wine (Grace) in an old wineskin (Law).  We know the result of that…. it will not work! (Luke 5: 36-39)  Or another way: A little leaven (Law) leavens the whole loaf (bread of Life).

Most of the time, if we’re to “rightly divide” the Word of God, we’ll have to separate the work of the Law from Christ’s work. That’s because what the “Law” could not do, Jesus has done!  Hebrews, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Timothy (all were written by Paul who was described as the only one God took aside and explained the Mystery of Christ) are all comparative books, comparative by separating Law from Grace, the dividing of the Old and the New Covenant.

Our sufficiency must come from Christ and Christ alone.  We can add nothing to the Cross and the Resurrection; doing so diminishes their Glory!  Paul wrote in 2Cor. 3:5. “not that we are sufficient of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who has made us ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter (Law) killeth, but the Spirit giveth Life… for even unto this day, when Moses is read (Law) the veil is upon our hearts, nevertheless, when it (our hearts) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.”  “Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.”

Paul warns: beware the concision (law teachers) for we are the circumcision which Worship God in the Spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh. (Law)…thought I might also have confidence in the flesh.  If any other man thinks that he might trust in the flesh, I even more: Circumcised on the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the Law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church, touching the Righteousness which is in the Law, blameless!  But what things were gain to me, those things I counted loss for Christ…I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, counting them as dung that I might win Christ.  And be found in Him, not having a Righteousness which is of the Law, but that which is through Faith in Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by Faith”. (Phil 3:2-9)  “… by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight.  For by the Law is knowledge of sin, but now that Righteousness that is without the Law is manifest…the Righteousness of God which is by Faith in Jesus Christ …being justified freely by His Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus… therefore we conclude that a man is justified by Faith without the deeds of the Law.” (Rom. 3:20-28)

As believers, we’re continually being confronted with whom we will put our trust in.  …However, if the first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.  For finding fault, He said, “Behold the days come says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant in the day when I took them by the hand and lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant…for I will have Mercy to their unrighteousness and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb. 8:6-13)  He will take away the first that He might establish the second.  By which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ Jesus once and for all!” (Heb. 10:4-10)

In the four Gospels Jesus taught Law in such a way that he simply raised the bar so high knowing no one could meet the Law’s demands. (We need to remember that the Gospels were still part of the Old Testament ‘circumstance’.  The new testament begins with power at the death and resurrection of Jesus, changing the environment we all now live in beginning with the empty tomb!)  Jesus went so far as to teach that to even think about a deed was to be guilty of performing it.  So far as to teach that, being guilty of one made the hearer guilty of all!  He made sure we realized that it’s impossible to satisfy the Law.  It can’t be done.  We’re left with only one remedy: Jesus Christ.  Jesus “fulfilled the Law on our behalf and set us free from the Law of sin and death”. (Rom. 8:2)

Now the final point to this “Creed”.  Paul taught there was a Rest that resulted from knowing these things.  He compares it to the Israelites coming out of Egypt, “but the Word of God preached to them did not profit them, not being mixed with Faith in them that heard it: they did not enter into His Rest because of their unbelief.  We don’t enter into His Rest because of the same reason.  We’ll know when we’ve entered into it because, “he that is entered into His Rest, he also has ceased from his works…let us labor therefore to enter into that Rest”. (Heb. 4:9-11)  Jesus taught that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  The disciples asked Jesus, “what shall we do, that we might work the works of God?”  Jesus reply: “this is the work of God, that you believe on whom he has sent.” (John 6:27-29)  It’s a full time job to fight your way through unbelief and unbelief’s allies, but in the end, it’s the only thing we’re demanded to do as work.  Believing will produce “fruit” in our lives but that fruit comes as a result of believing Christ sufficiency first.  We’re not of those that believe we can perfect the flesh so that we might become “spiritual”.  Ours is a belief that the Spiritual will manifest dominion over the flesh, not the other way round.  Paul called those that thought the Law manifested the Spiritual “foolish” and “bewitched”.  (Gal. 3:1)

 

Our work is to labor at being “in His Rest”.  Our role is to stay strong, be rooted and grounded in His Love and not moved away from the “full Gospel of Christ”.  This is our Creed.  It’s who we are. It’s what we depend on to hold us up and establish us.  Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb, he is the Passover, he is our Jubilee, he’s “all in all”.  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and the recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Isa. 61, Luke4)  Literally, to be the Good News.

Finally, we’re not to study the Word so that we will fulfill the Law and therefore be approved by God. Christ granted you that approval for free.  We should study to show ourselves, to actually discover for ourselves, we’re approved of God only because of one thing:  Jesus Christ!  The Old Testament is a shadow of the New Testament.   The “Light” shines out of the New and cast a shadow in understanding on the Old.  We need to subject our understanding of the Old to the Revelation of the “Light” in the New, not the other way around.

We believe in what we believe and it makes us who we are, we did not make it, for it is making us!

Lincoln Brewster

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