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June Newsletter-Spirit of Anti-Christ

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Ok, I’ve just about had it!  You see, I just think there’s so much anti-Christ spirit in the earth opposing the Love of God.  Most of it’s done in a passive-aggressive way that just moves forward so little at a time you don’t notice the changes as much.  And, right in the middle of that, even among the ‘brethren’ there’s insecurity and concerns that we might not even have the Gospel, His-story, right.  I hear excuses, if you will, about faith.  Oh, many people say they believe God, but they struggle with giving Him the dedication and focus in their daily life, not taking much of a risk by depending upon Him.  They may even be able to identify there’s a God, but fail to trust in His power to be relevant in the world we all live in each day.  With all the turmoil caused by the spirit of Anti-Christ I think in time we will be forced to risk more and more of our lives trusting in God’s Spirit.  And, while I’m not looking for any more trouble or heartache in our lives, in a way I look forward to having to lean upon Him more day to day.

A few weeks ago, believers celebrated the resurrection of Christ.  Have you ever thought about why the death and resurrection of Christ happened in the fashion that it did?  Why such a terrible, hateful death experience to show the reconciliation of the world?  It could not have been any more gritty, ugly, horrendous, and profoundly any more public, stripped, pierced, raised and nailed on a cross.  The Creator of the Cosmos subjected in every way to the Cosmos He authored for a humiliating and painful death.  Yet in the Wisdom of God, it surely had to be just like it was described, just as it occurred.  If it was the simple death of Jesus that we needed, why not come up with some sane, humane way to execute?  Or, maybe a very serious cold, turning into pneumonia could have done the trick in a rented room somewhere in Jerusalem?

june14The following statement is found in a book written about 350 AD by an Egyptian named Athanasius. He lived in a time when it seemed the whole civilized world was slipping back into paganism and turning away from the early church’s disciples’ true Christian faith, turning to a religion of deception instead.  Having been exiled 5 times, he boldly proclaimed the Gospel in the middle of that falling away.   In his book titled On the Incarnation, he sums up the resurrection as follows: ‘…suppose without any illness He had just concealed His body somewhere, and then suddenly re-appeared and said that He had risen from the dead.  He would have been regarded merely as a teller of tales, and because there was no witness of His death, nobody would believe His resurrection.  Death had to precede resurrection, for there could be no resurrection without it.  A secret and un-witnessed death would have left the resurrection without any proof or evidence to support it.  Again, why should he die a secret death, when He proclaimed the fact of his rising openly:  Why should He drive out evil spirits and heal the man blind from birth and change water into wine, all publicly, in order to convince men that he was the Word, and not also declare publicly that in-corruptibility of His mortal body, so that he might Himself be believed to be the Life?  And how could His disciples have had boldness in speaking of the resurrection unless they could state it as a fact that He had first died?  Or how could their hearers be expected to believe their assertion, unless they themselves also had witnessed His death?  For if the Pharisees at the time refused to believe and forced others to deny also, though the things had happened before their very eyes, how many excuses for unbelief would they have contrived, if it had taken place secretly:  Or how could the end of death and the victory over it have been declared, had not the Lord thus challenged it before the sight of all, and by the incorruption of his body proved that henceforward it was annulled and void?…He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those others His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognized as finally annulled.  A marvelous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat…it is only on the cross that a man dies with his arms outstretched.’ (in this case to both the Jew and the Gentile)  God in His Wisdom had taken the Creator/Author of the world and, in death and resurrection, made that same Word of God the Savior of the world.

Here’s the risk.  Believe in Him.  Not just with our mouths, not with a symbolic worship, not with a simple ‘I think there is a God’, but take a risk, a huge risk!  This is about believing in Someone that created everything (an immeasurable cosmos) and holds everything together.  He has made a request to us to be, as He declared to Abraham, a Friend of Abraham and, therefore, because we are the seed of Abraham, your Friend.  Guys, this is the Creator of all with an offer we should not refuse.  Any divide between you and Him has been torn apart, and now access to this Creator has been established by Jesus Christ.  In doing so, He has abolished the sentence of death put on our lives by our disobedience.  That should change how we act, what we trust and why we live.  Let’s put a pause on all the differences we’ve found in our expressions of the Gospel; let’s just agree on this one thing and get about it: Christ is Lord of all.

This same Athanasius states that ‘a blind man cannot see the sun, but he knows that it is above the earth from the warmth which it affords; similarly, let those who are still in blindness of unbelief recognize the Godhead of Christ and june142 the resurrection which was brought about through His manifested power in others.’  If you’ve ever experienced the radical change take place in a man’s soul, moving from grotesque to beautiful, you’ve felt the warmth of God.  Only God is capable of changing the soul!  It’s His proof above all proofs.

Ah, got that off my chest.  Perhaps there’s more ‘I won’t believe’ in people’s hearts than there is ‘I can’t believe.’  We know men love the darkness, a disease founded in the spirit of Anti-Christ and taking on all forms of manifestation widespread throughout the world.  We live in a time very much like Athanasius’s where the spirit of Anti-Christ is slinking its way around the earth mocking and scoffing, but that did not stop Athanasius’s confidence or testimony and the furtherance of the Christ’s Message.  The pressure, the humiliation of our time should not stop ours either.

(This from Athanasius also: ‘His second manifestation to us, glorious and divine indeed, when He shall come no longer in humiliation but in majesty, no longer to suffer but to bestow on us all the fruit of His cross-the resurrection and incorruptibility.  No longer will He then be judged, but rather will Himself be Judge, judging each and all according to their deeds done in the body, whether good or ill.’)

Sidewalk Prophets/City Harbor/About A Mile

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May Newsletter-Baptism

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Back in 1989, as we worked on starting the ministry of WBVN, people would occasionally ask how I could have any confidence that people would support a Christian Radio station with voluntary financial contributions.  It wasn’t a very pleasant time for ministry; four national ministries had been exposed for huge financial or moral failures.  Because of those failures, expecting people to share with broadcast ministry was pretty tough and not overly encouraging at the time.  We were swimming upstream against a current of believer frustration and mistrust.  Often, to answer their question, I remember telling a story about a dog to illustrate how we could possibly move forward.  More about that dog story later. It was perhaps the worst of times, but there never really are any perfect times.

On March 9th, 2014 our 9 year old grandson was baptized.  Parker rose up out of the water and, in his very unique fashion, raised both arms and gave us two thumbs up.  As with all that were baptized that day, those present shouted with joy and clapped with appropriate excitement.  There were others baptized that day.  It’s always so exciting to see people declare their allegiance to Christ Jesus and symbolically be raised to a new Life in baptism.  Everyone seemed to sense a special moment as those two thumbs broke the air.  Each of us knew that Parker was making a joyful expression; an expression that all of us gathered there participated in.  This letter however is not just about Parker; it’s also about those present to witness those baptisms.  Why was it even possible that we all received?  What made that moment possible, not just for 5 people, but for each one of us?

We were, in fact, in the middle of a few hundred believers and each one carries a deposit of the Spirit of God within them.  That’s what we all experienced that Sunday morning, what we witnessed.  Not only was our grandson ‘moved’ by the Spirit of Adoption on his Life, each person attending expressed that same Spirit at that very same moment.  We all experienced the Love of God- a tangible Love of God.  Each person that was baptized as well as those simply present were in an ‘out-pouring’.   Not only one to be expressed as ‘down from Heaven’, but an out-pouring from within.  Every believer is capable of that happening, and not just at baptisms, but uniquely and daily.  In 1990, during our first week of broadcasting, we played a song from an artist named Roby Duke, the song ‘Love Carrier’, and it described the reality of the Spirit of God with us, in us.  Everyone in the presence of that Sunday morning baptism discovered that we’re ‘able’ to know and live with a witness of the Spirit just as in that ‘thumbs up moment’.parker

I remember encouraging people over the years that what we took upon ourselves when we believed Jesus Christ was not a responsibility to be perfect (in our own ability), but we received the ability-to-respond: an ability to receive and take part in His Spirit.  It has been placed right there in our hearts.  The Spirit of God took up a presence, an indwelling, that stays with us forever!  And, as we place a toe in the water of His experience, we become aware and immersed in the reality of the Presence of His Life, His Love, and His Spirit.  We carry that ability-to-respond with us not just on Sunday morning, but Monday through Saturday as well.  The Father has placed Blessing into our lives with the placement of Himself in our hearts.  What happened on that March morning was that the Holy Spirit witnessed or confirmed the presence of the Christ Spirit that has been place within each of our lives.  He confirmed that because of that Spirit living in our hearts, that same Spirit has given each the capacity of being led into all Truth, in this case, into the affirmation of the Spirit of God living inside each of us who believe.

What happened to each person there, what was manifest, was that while we are all aware of being a body and having a soul, we also were proved to have an alive and active Spirit inside us that finds expression whenever we permit that to occur.  We forgot ourselves for a moment; we forgot what bills might need to be paid, forgot our backaches and our heartaches and just experienced Him.  Parker got baptized and we got showered with the blessing of that experience.  In Christ, that’s who we really are.  We’ve just forgotten that!  We have been given that ability-to-respond and express His heart.  And, while it’s not going to happen overnight or from just one experience, it’s possible for the Spirit to dominate our lives, not just for a moment, but for more and more.  What happened that one time has the potential to happen lots of times.  That morning, what did we do to make it happen? Nothing!  For just a moment, we simply got in touch with our hearts rather than our heads.  That ‘stuff’ is in you because He is in you.  Over the years I’ve made statements about the Father where (I guess I would say) I experienced something where I just paused and realized ‘I didn’t know I knew that’.  Those things are buried in our hearts and come to the surface every now and then as we learn to trust and believe.  What would our own little worlds be like if we could live like that more and more each day?  It’s not impossible; it’s just that it’s a journey to get there.  We can make progress each day but we will not get there in just one day.  It’s not even a destination as far as I can see.  Every time we see Him for Who He really is we are changed, every time we experience Him more and more, being changed into His Image as we live forward.  Now, we see in part.  But we can at least clean our glasses a bit.  If you’re in Christ and He is in you, you possess that potential, are given the ability-to-respond as a gift from His Spirit.

Now, that dog story?  Suppose that dog had swallowed a diamond ring?  Would he be even more ‘wonderful’ than just any other old German shepherd?  Now, that dog might not know it, but he would be unlike the dog he was before swallowing that ring.  He would (at least for my illustration) carry it around inside. More than likely, he would be unaware of it or its value.  Believers are a bit like that.  That’s how I looked at making a decision to start the radio station.  While we had no guarantee that people would help, we knew something that believers might not even know themselves.  We knew that the Spirit of God has been placed in them.  And, while they might walk around without knowing that diamond was in them, if we could get them in contact with that Spirit, they would respond to the ministry.  We came to encourage them to find who they really are.  Many have done just that.  They know in their hearts to respond to that Spirit and be ‘other minded’, sharing with WBVN thereby sharing with others.  That dog was more precious for having swallowed that diamond.  You have the treasure of the true and living Christ within you.  All you need to do is get in contact with what you all ready have.  Parker’s two thumbs up brought our hearts to the surface for that moment and it exposed what lives within each believer’s heart.  In some way those two thumbs up were akin to ‘and a child shall lead them’.  On that Sunday morning, we all said and knew ‘Amen’, all with one heart, His.