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Newsletters

December Newsletter-Birth

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ…(2Tim1:9-10) (in nothingness, before anything existed, all that existed was the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Spirit.)
Christ-mas is about celebrating the birth of Christ. We should stop and think about that a moment. In our everyday hustle and bustle we tend to just meet the ‘holidays’ head on and not pay much attention to what specifically we might be celebrating. The birth of Christ is so central to what we believe and our hope as Christians. It is one incident in a chain of events that, without it, the whole chain breaks apart. Each section is unable to provide what only the whole can provide. Let’s start with the simple birth-incarnation of Jesus. Imagine the actual moment when God, who is bigger than our universe, actually outside billions of universes that exist, God who is outside that entire cosmos, steps into this small planet. He stepped into His creation from outside the other side of the whole of creation. Stop there and think about that. Big deal isn’t it! Bigger than I think we celebrate sometimes. The writer of this story stepped into the story and began to teach us about Himself for the purpose of permitting us to know Him and know the Love He has for His creation.
Our Faith depends on this: a chosen people, the small town of Nazareth, a young Jewish girl, one single winter’s night, a small stable and a bright shining star! That’s why this ministry spends all its time dedicated to keeping our thoughts and attention on the child born at that single moment. This ministry is not about denominations, we’re not about ‘we are right and you’re wrong and you need to get right.’ No, we are about the birth, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus and keeping our mind on Him daily.
Here we are, 25 years into this thing called WBVN. The initial purpose of this ministry was to come and serve this community of believers, i.e., Church. I guess we could have chosen a lot of things to come and serve. There are tons of religions in the world. Many of them have a more ‘lawful’ ethic or higher demand for morality than Christianity. Some have hundreds and hundreds of laws, observances and traditions. But in our Faith, believing in Christ is not an ethical or moral decision. A Faith in Christ comes with an encouragement that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27) That’s simply the Faith question. In our Faith, for sure there’s a morality; it contains an ethic, but the central theme is not our ‘perfect’ behavior. Our focus is His perfect behavior, planned before time, before the world began. The question we all must ask is whether we believe His life was ‘enough’ to cover what we do. Christianity not a morality that we adhere to; it’s a Faith in Him that we hold fast to.
The real test between religions is does it make wings to lift people up or are its wings dead weight that drag people down? Very simply, does our Faith carry us or do we have the burden of carrying it? The Grace of God is powerful because it reveals how to live rather than just revealing how we ‘miss it’ sometimes. Jesus said His yoke was easy and His burden light. It is the yoke of a finished work. The very thing that empowers us is the thing that so many are afraid of: Grace. We will at the first sign of trouble, at our first chance, depend on our works to get God to do something for us. It becomes a ‘if You will do this I will promise to do that’ transaction. We have a tendency to look at ‘our walk’ and see that it’s not what it should be all the time, perhaps most the time. Our mistaken response is to set ourselves at work, mending it as best we can, improving it if possible, only to find ourselves back where we began: inadequate at best. That process frustrates us and is meant to frustrate us. That frustration should cause us to search out the Grace of God. Anything but that Grace is a strange doctrine according to Paul’s Spirit-inspired scripture. Performance and works are strangers to grace and mercy. Worldly religion is simply us trying to get back to God; ‘Christ-ianity’ is God getting to us.
Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians while in prison. However, each is a celebration of joy. Why was he joyous? I think Paul answers that in Philippians: he had been found by God, had come to know Him, experienced the power of His resurrection, suffered His sufferings (sufferings for his faith, more akin to persecutions because of his Faith, rather than having had a bad cold), died with Him, been raised with Him and was looking to Christ’s return.
Paul had come to know that, if there is any gain in this life it is to gain Christ. It’s Christ that we must grasp. It’s a simple formula: keep Christ the center of our Faith, not make you or your neighbor the center of your Faith. We can be tempted away from the simplicity of that by the whispers of Eden. We can be turned, looking at what others are doing as our evidence of God? or No God? We can be enticed to try and solve our problems by making this Faith one of morality, turning our Faith into perfecting the flesh at the expense of the Spirit. To discover Paul’s truth is to be empowered to live out the Christian life in practice. In the book of Ephesians, Paul speaks of being perfect, but he had no illusions about the flesh and its imperfection. Rather, to be perfect was to come to the place of maturity in ‘Christ learning.’ There is nowhere else to go from that Truth. Christ is ‘all in all.’ He is the full deal, the finished work — we are not and we never will be! Merry Christmas

November Newsletter-Creed

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

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, greater than Adam, standing alone as the central figure in the Gospel message, sharing that stage with no other.  He is the chief, center, and the cornerstone of all our Faith.  We should have more confidence in what He did than in what Adam did.  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,” and I might add uniquely and powerfully.

Simply, 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, a knowing and recognizing, 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!  For “He has called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace.” (2Tim. 1:9)

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 “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 (free the same as Abraham’s).  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.  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)

There’s only one God solution, and that remedy is offered to us through Faith: “… 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… (actually) the Law was a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by Faith, but after that Faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Gal. 3:11-25)

Our sufficiency must come from Christ and Christ alone, Christ in you is the hope of glory!  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.”  That’s what we are yearning for!

As believers, we’re continually being confronted with whom we will put our trust in.  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)…though I might also have confidence in the flesh.  …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)

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 for 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 replied, “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.  (That’s the Gospel.)  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 hope of 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.  Hopefully our purpose can be found in His: “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)

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 approved of God, convince ourselves, and actually discover for ourselves, that we’re approved only because of one thing:  Jesus Christ, death and resurrection! (2Tim. 2:15) That’s the Mystery and the Revelation.

‘Now is come salvation, and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down; which accused them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony… (Rev. 12:9-11) 

That happened with the death and resurrection and what we say and believe about Christ.

 

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October Newsletter-Jump Rope

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Back in the day, when Jane and I raised three girls, there was moment in each girl’s life when it was all about jumping rope. It was a ritual for girls. Every little girl that we knew had a jump rope. Even the schools our daughters attended had large, grass jumping ropes. I tried ‘jumping’ a couple times. I still remember some of the lingo: ‘hot peppers’ and ‘double dutch.’ I also remember that the secret to jumping rope was the timing. I mean, the rope, or in some cases the ropes, were ‘whirlwinds’ of rope! I can still imagine one of our daughters standing at the side, ‘semi-stepping’ into the rope, waiting for just the right time to ‘step in’. They needed to get into the rhythm of the thing to get into the thing! Remembering that ‘whirlwind’ of ropes reminded me of how life is, and especially the Christian Life.
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Our lives are like those whirlwinds. We’re trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. We’re attempting to become financially secure; most everyone is trying to ‘get theirs’ before someone else comes along and takes ‘theirs’ from them. Most are searching for a fountain of youth. We’re dieting. We’re exercising. We look for purpose. Ever since the Garden of Eden incident, the children of Adam and Eve have ‘paddled upstream’ against so many daily struggles. In the beginning, Adam and Eve lived in an environment that fostered Peace. I doubt that they knew what a ‘whirlwind’ was. Now, earth comes with its daily ‘hard-labor’.
That’s why it’s so critical for believers to enter into His Rest. Doing that is very much like entering that jump rope. Having been made alive to God, we can then enter into the life-style of the Gospel. Jesus said, ‘If you abide in my Word, then you are my disciples, and you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you Free.’ Just as in this Scripture verse, the Christian life is a process, one step at a time, a journey each day. We move along the journey, possibly to find freedom each day! I mean you have to go through something; we need to get in ‘order’ with God, to discover the fullness of God. Remember: Body, Soul and Spirit. Faith, Hope and Love. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Things ‘that were, that are and that are to come.’ The Outer court, Inner court and Holy of Holies of the tabernacle. All those are the order of God’s universe. We move through places with God, in patterns ordered by God. To get to the Peaceful place of God, we will need to move in His patterns in our daily lives. We will need to get into the ‘rhythm’ of God, get into His ways and not just our ways.

I have used this story before but let’s just suppose we are going to have a seminar on chairs. We can get coffee table books showing us pictures of all kinds of chairs. We can purchase DVD’s that show us how chairs are designed, manufactured and sold. We can travel to factories and look at all kinds of chairs. We can buy a chair or buy hundreds of chairs, but having done all those things, you’ll still not really ‘know’ the true nature and purpose of a chair until you’ve sat down on one! You must put all your weight on a chair before you know everything there is to know about a chair. Before that, you had a theory about chairs, you had ideas about how a chair works and even speculated on a chair’s purpose. However, you have to actually sit in a chair to know all about chairs. The Gospel is the same. All the reading, the memorizing, the attending Bible studies, traveling to conferences and discussions about the Gospel will only leave you with a philosophy about the Gospel. Until you have put you weight (your life) on the Gospel you really don’t know the fullness of the Gospel. To find that peaceful place inside this earthly whirlwind, we will need to enter into the center of that whirlwind. That’s where God is, that’s where our Peace is.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘eye of the hurricane’. In the center of those storms, with winds and destruction all around, there is a place where it’s calm. You can actually stand in the ‘eye’, right in the middle of that storm, and be perfectly safe. The Gospel will do that for us. Right in the middle of the war on terror, in the middle of financial pressure, in the heat of a medical crisis, there is a Peaceful Place! Jesus referred to it, expected it. But, you’re not going to be able to enter into it by just ‘talking about it’. We will have to get in rhythm with the ‘God life’; we’ll have to take a step to get in there! Just as we must get into the rhythm of the rope to enter into ‘hot peppers’, we’ll need to get into the rhythm of God as well. Become a giver, not just with money, but attitude as well. Become an encourager, not just someone needing encouragement all the time. Become someone that is externally minded, aware of others’ hopes and needs. The center of that storm, it can be stress-less. It is calm inside that place once you get in the ‘center’. There will be things going on all around you but you will not have to struggle each day. You will not ‘pull your hair out’ trying to come up with every solution. You will enter into a state of trusting God in a way that you have not been able to do thus far.

Will everything be perfect? No! Will it always go well? Probably not! Is every day a ‘picnic’? No– might be a war that day! We may not be able to avoid the war but we can know that God is with us even in that terrible place. God’s blessings come just the same. There is a special meaning to the Hebrew word for blessing, “r’racha.” In the Hebrew language words are either male or female. In this case, the word “r’racha” is female. Its essence is that one blessing becomes two blessings, and so on. You see, “r’racha” has the ability and the nature to multiply itself! One blessing produces many more! They will come if we are in that center place, His Rest, that secret place that God has prepared for us. Get in rhythm with God. Give and expect it to grow, Love and expect it to multiply, Trust and watch the Father be Trustworthy. That’s the rhythm of God. The world will rub against us, and that can chafe and even irritate us, but keep doing Faith even when things don’t seem to be working for you. Look, there are three ways to live life: being evil and separated from God, being good and yet separated from God or being alive because we are right in the middle of the rhythm of God. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. We need to stop looking back to see if Faith is working. We’ll have to step forward into God’s rhythm, just like our daughters stepped into that jump rope. God’s rhythm is just simply doing life in the way that God says works for us and avoiding life the way the world brings it to us. Going back is to step back into the whirlwind, and according to Scripture, going back is seven times worse! We should never give up. Just do it! Over and over, do it! That faithful ‘action’ will eventually produce a ‘kingdom’ blessing from the Life of God, and our worldly experience will be interrupted by evidences of God in our lives; we will be able to count them, experience them and trust for them as we abide in the Rest to be found in the center of this storm. Our girls never ran away from that ‘double-dutch’… they ran straight into the center and got into its rhythm.

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