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January Newsletter-24 Years!

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We thought it should be consistent, thought it should be focused on what our original heart attitude and vision for ministry was in the beginning.  From our point of view, we were permitted to do this ministry because we had a simple purpose of encouraging the Church daily.  As with all things that God breathes Life into, there always comes a time of temptation moving a ministry away from its first understanding of what God sent it to do.  However, we continue pretty much the way we started.  We have stayed centered on Christ, made Him Captain of our attention and mixed that with a hearty helping of appreciating our listeners and our contributors.  It’s been 23 full ministry years now.  I remember hearing someone say years ago, ‘the Life of God takes no time, but it occupies all our time.’  That’s it I suppose.  I know even in our play, our fun, our tears, our disappointment, in our work, in the relationships we have with people, all of it centers on our Faith at some level.  Sometimes it’s unspoken and just lived.

January 8th, 1990 was our first day of broadcast.  Since then, I think we’ve pretty well proven that we’re just folks glad to be able to share our Faith with other believers, nothing ‘super-spiritual’ about the ministry we do, just a natural response to the Love of God and the offer of His Grace to all.  No doctrines to push.  Each day, WBVN is just with you, sharing the Grace of God, doing what we did that first day in January.  Recently, Jane has been ‘pinging’ my ear with what she says is the necessity for her to read Corrie ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place.  She’s been telling me ever since her hospitalization for 5 months that she experienced being ‘hidden in Christ’ during those terrible months.  She is certain that Corrie’s book title must mean more than just the physical hiding of Jews during WW II, but had to relate to something that Corrie, and especially her sister Becky, knew.  Something far more significant than just providing a room to hide people in, but actually a place that believers are able to dwell in by the Love of God; being hidden way from the pains, the fears and tears of this life.  As she re-read the book a much clearer picture of that family’s Faith came into view.  They risked their lives, tolerated horrific moments and faced death with a constant knowing that God was with them, inspired them to care and provided little miracles along the way to bolster their efforts.  They were an oasis of Faith.

I’ve been troubled lately, not the ‘wringing of hands troubled’ but a good kind of troubled.  It’s a stirring.  I don’t mean worried, but just an awareness of how difficult the times are and at the same moment knowing how wonderful the opportunity for us to be held in the arms of a loving God.  It’s more like an awakening to something you know is a Spiritual change that’s occurring right in the middle of some of the most terrible or troubled times you and I have seen.  It’s obvious that we have a problem here, but being profoundly aware that God is equally, superiorly, much more than our troubles.

In 24 years, we’ve lived through some things that were very hard for us and things that have been stunningly wonderful.  We’ve seen difficult times, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the amazing.  Occasionally, we’ve been misunderstood and yet comforted at the same time, knowing we were simply attempting to stay within our simple purpose, ministering to our listening unique ‘congregation’ of believers.

In our hearts are the names and faces of so many people we have come to know through this radio station.  Over those 23 years, we’ve experienced many more kindnesses and help than we could ever have imagined.  On my desk I keep a few things from the first few months of ministry.  One is a picture of our first group of volunteers.  They worked the evenings, each volunteer taking a shift from 6 until 10pm one day a week:  Sarah, Julie, Clay, Derek, Patty and Larry.  There is a check for $25 that was the first one received in the mail.  It was from Charles Carter of Carterville, who sent in a contribution to provide this music ministry for his grandchildren.  The third is a quote that made a lot of sense to me early on: ‘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.’

It took three years to meet the budget needs of this ministry, and for the next twenty we have not failed to have the contributions to fully fund WBVN each year.  The story of WBVN is that while we make every attempt to be focused and not moved away from what we believe God birthed in our hearts as far back as 1988, His Faithfulness and your loyalty to this ministry has astounded us.  I’ve said many times that my favorite word not found in the Bible is vulnerability. It’s when we are vulnerable, not self-sufficient but Him-sufficient, that we can fully perceive the hand of God in our efforts.  Our weaknesses have revealed His provision obvious to us.  There are hundreds of examples of His fingerprints on what we have been doing all these years.  Too many and too long a list to enumerate here but literally astounding.  WBVN has been, in the truest sense, a community of believers: friends, family and generous and thoughtful listeners; listeners being led by the Spirit of God in their hearts to be mixed into our ministry life.

2014 begins our 24thyear.   Each anniversary I’ve always tried to think that the beginning of each year was a new and fresh start; a new and fresh moment in the Gospel.  This year the 24 elders of Revelation 4 and 5 came to mind.  They’re described at the Throne of God in a dramatic and glorious fashion.  Their only role was to worship, Heavenly Worship, and they sang a New Song saying…………

The music you hear over WBVN provides a hiding place for believers.  It’s an oasis in the middle of a culture and world set on separating itself from the Love of God.  On purpose, we came and still believe in encouraging the Church in this simple manner of sharing.  This 24th year may be our most important, most necessary to encourage.  It will again be focused on what we originally came to share many years ago: the Loving Grace of God, who Loved us in spite of us, who offers a chance for us to change our purposes from preserving our own lives to one of Praising His and His Redemption and His offer of Peace and Grace.  Not complicated, not hard to bear.  We thank you again for all the years, all the prayers, the kind words, and the trust and the hope of a future together sharing with you.

 

NewSong’s Very Merry Christmas Tour 2013/Audio Adrenaline/Sidewalk Prophets/Jason Castro/Love & the Outcome

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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.