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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! 

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.

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