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December Newsletter-Making a Difference

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Well now, this has gotten serious!  I mean every foundation believers stand on and for is being rattled, shaken to the point of cracking.  Only a firm, rock hard foundation will survive this time.  No soft touch here, we are in for the very essence of what our Faith and Hopes are based on.  And, as much as I would like to yell the sky is falling, something inside me yells hallelujah instead.  I don’t mean I’m happy about what’s going on.  Actually, I’m as saddened as anyone about what I see and hear and what challenges our family and friends.  But, seeing and hearing are fleshly measures for what is going on and, as believers, we are supposed to use our hearts to determine what we know, not the flesh.  For sure things are pushing us into more and more uncertainty.  But, some of what we’ve always wanted to know is being revealed: just how certain is this Gospel message we share, how much will it hold us up when we need it to.


If I may, let me state our ministry point of view about the past 23 years.  In October we conducted our Fall Celebration. Some things are as true today as they were that first day we broadcast on January 8th, 1990.  I say this with no intention to boast, but rather say it in thanksgiving for all the words and songs that we’ve had the opportunity to share over the years.  If we boast in anything it’s The Father’s Heart and in our listeners and the fact that they have made all this possible through their giving.


As we have entered into this very intense time, WBVN helps stabilize our hearts and minds.  I suppose that in some direct relationship, the tougher the times the more relevant ministries become.  During the hardest times, the more important and more necessary it is to have ministry and its encouragement in our everyday lives. Communities are not evaluated on how safe they are by physically counting the number of policemen they have on the payroll. They’re actually evaluated by how safe and secure those police keep that community.  How educated a town is cannot be determined by counting how many teachers the district employs, but should be judged by the results we see in our children.  Ministry must be measured not by how big it is but by how much it affects the lives of people that listen and share time with it.  WBVN operates with one full time employee and 5 part-time employees.  Our pledge for 23 years has been to be efficient and share this Gospel of Peace with thousands for as little financial burden as possible for our listeners.


We just were granted another 7 year license to continue broadcasting over FM 104.5.  It is our fourth grant and might be our most important. The FCC obligates a radio station to “during the term of this license, render such broadcasting service as will serve the public interest…”  In theory, a radio station should “upgrade” the community, serving it with programming that would make it a better, more peaceful place to liveIt should promote a better place for our children and their families.  The original intent of the Federal Communications Commission was that radio stations in this country would help establish and preserve an environment of “decency”.  The problem today is that we make no effort to define community standards of decency.   We can’t seem to decide what is decent.  Radio stations should be measured by what they promote in the community at large and what they ‘hand off’ to the next generation.  I’m afraid many radio stations today fail that “public service” test, doing only what generates the most money, disregarding the content of their programming.  Becoming politically correct is more important than being correct.  You can be anything you want in this country, they will defend you in the courts for the right to be or do anything, but you cannot be Christian without being challenged from every side.  Christian radio is one place where we still have the opportunity to maintain a Christian point of view, so far, without interference.  That is a gift to us all.  Your help keeps that opportunity alive over this station.


WBVN testifies and sings of God.  However, you just can’t get your hands on what this radio station means to so many of us each day.   The only way to measure its influence would be to back up and re-live the past 23 years without WBVN programming.  We’re not “visionless” about what we do.  We’ve determined what we want WBVN to be in these communities and what results we’d like to see there.  The whole Southern Illinois community is one Christian “gathering” for us.  Everyday thousands of believers join us, meeting together for encouragement.  We are of one heart, one mind when that happens.  We encourage certain things, and we, ourselves, stand for certain things.


We live in a very precarious time it seems.  It’s almost like many of our children are strangers to us.  They turn 16 and we throw a set of car keys at them and hope for the best.  However, we’re not giving many of them the skills to “resolve” life’s problems.  Over 50% of our marriages fail and who knows how many have failed but continue.  Over 10% of all the children being raised in this country are being raised with their grandparents as the primary caregiver.  It is not all our fault necessarily.  Many parents have done their best, only to see the world system pull and push our children toward things that destroy the hope in their future, and for many, the joy in their hearts.  And, just as in every generation, each person will have to choose to bite that generational apple of temptation, choosing what they believe is a better way to live, only to discover it leads to calamity. That must happen in each generation. It’s necessary for each generation and a part of the Will of God that each of us has a choice to choose Him or not choose Him.  Both have their own consequences, what we choose to do about Him proves our heart.   As parents that hurts the most of all the cuts in this life.  But, as Rich Mullins so appropriately stated, ‘God has no grandchildren.’


WBVN won’t change the world, but here and there, we can make a difference one person at a time.  We’re looking for results that penetrate the office space at work or results that mend wounds in our families.  We’re looking for effects that make a difference in the way we treat the folks we meet on the street and how we respond to people in need.  We look to encourage new parents on the opportunity they have to bring up their children in the Way of God.  We encourage Worship and Praise with hymns and songs.  We contrast and conflict with some of the other cultural influences, purposely choosing to identify with terms you don’t hear in our conversations any more: character, integrity, honesty and a single Truth derived from the Creator of all things.


People universal are a kind of creature that doesn’t need to go to a seminar to learn to lie or cheat.  Self-centeredness or sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar seems to come naturally to us all.   We must be encouraged (actually changed) away from that type of default behavior.   Christian radio can play a part in that and we do that “on purpose!”   We need to encourage a pattern for life for our children other than the pattern found in Witches and The Simpsons.


One criticism might be that we’re guilty of making the Gospel too comfortable for WBVN listeners.  Some view God with a judge’s robe and gavel.  Our goal is to dress him in L. L. Bean, making you just as comfortable with Him on your front porch as with Him in the church building.  We’re grateful for all the minutes, over 11 million now, that you have permitted this station to be a part of your lives.  We look forward to a few surprises this coming year, probably some disappointments, some unpredictable moments and pressure but all mixed with the joy and the contentment found in sharing the Gospel with you in ’14.  Next month I’d like to expand this ministry’s heart a bit and continue the conversation.  Until then, we enjoy sharing the future with you as a companion and partner in the Christian life in 2014.

Veggie Tales LIVE! Happy Birthday Bob & Larry!

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November Newsletter-Endurance

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‘For you have need of patience, that after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.’ (Heb. 10:36)  It was December of 1988.  We were having dinner with Jane’s brother and sister-in-law in Cape.  We were in our quiet, small way celebrating signing contracts on the purchase of an existing AM radio station.  We had mailed the signed documents to California for seller’s signatures.  In our minds the agreement was final; little did we know that the same afternoon, the seller had signed documents for another buyer to purchase what verbally had been sold to us.  About midnight that evening, after arriving back home, the phone rang and a friend informed us that we had been dropped from the sale.  So much leading up to that moment pointed to a fast track and smooth journey to starting the first contemporary Christian Radio station in the area.  That night we were blind-sided by a huge stumbling block to any CCM radio station being established.  We had the responsibility of a loan and no station, no income.  However, our first response was not fear.

We lay awake that night for awhile, not many words said.  Jane and I just held onto each other, a tear here and there.  What had happened?  What do we do now?  We were too stunned to say very much.  Knowing we were progressing in what we were sure was the motion of God in our lives, we just quietly paused.  So many obstacles had been removed over the previous months.  All had been risked to share this Grace message: my job, significant financial obligations and most importantly, three girls that depended entirely upon Jane and me to secure them a comfortable and meaningful life.  What next?  There were so many things swirling around in our heads.  Before any of the above had happened, a friend had called and said that in her daily prayers she had seen my face.  She called our house with a scripture and told Jane to give it to me to hold onto: ‘For you have need of patience, that after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.’ (Heb. 10:36)  That’s what we had to do, what we could only do, be patient and continue to believe that what had been birthed in our lives months earlier would come to pass.  We didn’t want to build WBVN out of just a good idea; we were being pushed by our hearts, by our spirits to simply walk in that direction.  While we couldn’t see the end of the journey, we continued to walk in the direction we believed we were to go.  To make a very long story short, let me summarize by saying that over the next two years we were finally granted a license for a new FM station, greater coverage and stereo to boot, for a lot less money.  What had been so terrible that December evening in 1988 turned out to be a better thing, becoming FM 104.5 on January 8th, 1990.

I tell that history to help express something that Jane said to me the other day.  We were talking about her medical experience with GBS beginning last March.  Endure was the word she brought up.  Endure is what we did that December and many times since.  Endure is what she did last year.  However, let me say that the enduring I’m referring to is not so much the common expression most Christians use.  It’s more closely associated with staying calm and trusting than bearing hardship.  Jesus endured the cross because of the Joy set before him.  He endured because of a bigger picture.  He didn’t endure suffering the physical damage only, but endured because of what he could see down the road.  The moment looked bleak, but his vision looked past that cross.  He endured because of what the cross meant to you and me.  It was the Joy of what lay ahead, not what was taking place right then.  What could be seen at the cross was Jesus crucified, humiliated, the mission lost for his followers, the church crushed, the Messiah dead!  By sight the flesh picture was a discouraging picture, but something more wonderful was going on than what could be seen.

In Chicago, Jane endured a lot of pain and humiliating moments, but her vision saw past that.  It never crossed Jane’s or my mind that our Father was not our Deliverer, our Shield, our Righteousness, our Lord, our Savior, the God that had declared Himself a Friend of Abraham and our Friend-our God, like the God David declared in the Psalms.  It didn’t cross our minds, did not occur to us, that we were alone, never crossed our minds that we had no Hope.

The Greek words translated ‘endure’ in Hebrews 6:15 and Hebrews 12:2 are more akin to ‘remaining behind after others have gone, waiting for the onset of something overpowering what is going on now.’ It’s about being ‘long-minded’.  Whatever calamity that’s going on in our lives is not the goal, not the finish.  The big picture is not an eighty year picture, it’s an eternal picture.  Jesus endured this life with its pain and injustice, looking through a window at the eternal.  We need to do that as well.  While calamity comes to all in this life, Christ provided another Life that is made to overpower the common one.  Enduring in the Christian’s life is not about tolerating or putting up with something, not just bearing up under something.  It’s about standing with expectation of the future, a future that’s not subject to the moment; it’s looking at the big picture, knowing that He has come so that we might have eternal Life in this life, come so that we can find a blessed Life inside the cursed one.  Scripture says we are to resist doubt.  The essence of that word (doubt) means double; double means we are left with the idea that life is made up of ‘maybe, maybe not’.  Our God ‘knows’ what we need even before we ask.  He has full knowledge!  Not knowing us by observation or by research; instead He has come to full knowledge because He knows us as His child.

2 Corinthians 5:7 (we live by Faith, not by sight) gets used for almost every possible scenario.  While standing at the foot of Jane’s hospital bed early one Chicago morning I had one of those ‘I know this’ moments.  It’s where your heart is so convinced that the scriptures finally crystallize and you know, really know, a scripture is meant for just such a time as this.  In the Complete Jewish Bible it’s quoted: ‘we live by trust, not what we see.’  In application, Jane and I did not deny what we could see and what we were experiencing, it was truly terrible; but we did not respond to her condition by letting what was happening in the flesh challenge our Spiritual Faith.  What I saw every day did not change my heart attitude about God and what she experienced each day did not change anything she had to say about God (other than giving more Praise, more thanksgiving).  We didn’t let what was happening change our big picture.  We did not move away from what we believed, what we trusted in.  All the doctors (there were 7 each morning), medicines, x-rays, blood clots, the times she stopped breathing, the pneumonia, the kidney failure, the rapid heartbeat, the total paralysis (in her body, everything was paralyzed inside and outside), none of those things affected the Life experience we have had with Christ.  Nothing could separate us from the Love of God.  With the help of knowing His presence and knowing God for who He is, we endured.  We prayed for restoration, and thousands of our friends, family, listeners and people we did not even know prayed.  Those prayers were such a comfort and joy for us.  Prayer was a necessary part of what happened there.  It is the heart of God that we pray for one another, encourage one another.  But while we prayed, we endured and trusted in our relationship with Father.  He was a God who came and sat with us because we expected Him to.  Jane would tell you, ‘we are already set with Him in Heavenly places’, even as we live in this life.  We knew that we had already, in the big picture, escaped from death to a Life that can never die! 

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