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Newsletters

The Air I Breathe

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

‘This is the air I breathe…This is the air I breathe…Your Holy Spirit living in me’

Michael W. Smith
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the hugeness of the Message of Christ and the Love of God thing that we, as believers, hang our hat on, trust in and sometimes struggle with so.  I’ve been thinking about what I believe, and especially what I believe about the Spirit of God; thinking about how we need more than just the Holy Spirit of God to show up at a meeting or in an emergency.  We need One that we’re certain never leaves us or forsakes us, One that’s a Comforter, One that’s with us every day and in our night.  A Holy Spirit of God that is just as likely to speak to us at a soccer game as He is to speak to us in the sanctuary, One who finds us at the office or at Wal-Mart and at church.  We need a Holy Spirit of God that is with us when we are just two or more and not One that only visits the ten thousands.

Let us just suppose this Spirit thing is real, I mean so real that it blows our minds how powerful and how wonderful the story of Christ and the mission that God the Father set out for us believers ages ago.  You know when we mention ghost we think of something akin to Casper the friendly ghost; kind of a cartoon image sort of jumps into our brains.  In our imaginations, ghosts are things that go bump in the night and things we fear, or else we think such things do not exist.  Yet, in the Wisdom of God, He chose to relate His story to us using the term the ‘Holy Spirit’ (or in the Christian tradition, Holy Ghost) and Spirit is supposed to make sense to us in some way.  Of course we find ‘spirit talking’ a bit more comfortable when we associate it with something spooky, something pretend or something we cannot really believe in.  We are left to speculate about the ‘supernatural world’ when spirits are described, yet God has taught us, very definitely, that there is a need to learn about Spirit.  Somehow, He actually considers the words ‘Holy Spirit’ a necessary part of how we are to interpret His story.

The spirit world has been an issue for believers from the beginning.  I’m not talking team Edward and team Jacob here, no Twilight stuff.  I mean that as believers, we have to place the teaching of Scripture, both the Hebrew and the Greek, in the context of Spirit versus spirit.  We are taught about a spirit of anti-Christ that was and is even now among us.  Baby killings have been with us in every age; it was present under the OT Kings, it was happening when Christ was born and it continues today in epidemic proportion.  Why?  The Ten Commandments were given to Moses because men and women transgressed then, and they continue to transgress against them today.  Why?  Divorce is rampant, financial greed and corruption is ancient and contemporary as well.  There’s a spirit that’s set against the Love of God, the Christ of God and it does not and has not changed from generation to generation.  It repeats itself in every man, in each culture, time and gender.  Why is it so universal? Well, because it springs from one source, a spirit set again the Father’s Love.  He gave us the Ten Commandments to be our guide.   If those simple 10 were followed, all the rest of the rebellion would be eliminated.  If we loved, if we had Him as our source, we would not steal, we would not commit adultery, would not do drugs, would not rob banks, there would be no war, we would wish well to all and would not do to people what we do to people.  But, that ‘worm sweat vile’ spirit is set against those 10 and manifests itself in every evil work imaginable.  There is one central cause, this spirit of anti-Christ, for what we see but there are many manifestations of its opposition to the Father’s heart.

However, the Holy Spirit of God has come to overcome the world and the anti-Christ spirit.  In the OT the Spirit of God was administered to the Prophet, Priest or King.  Only those three received Him.  Today, He is poured out on all flesh and He manifests Himself in those people that permit that to happen, permit Him to be a part of their lives.  Just as Christ administered the covenant of Grace in the Gospels, with the resurrection of Christ a Holy Spirit of God has come and filled the earth.  And, He gives gifts to men and women.  The very air we breathe is charged with His presence.  In the Hebrew tradition the name of God was never spoken, only the exhale of their breath was permitted in reference to the Name of God.  When the covenant of God was cut with Abram, the new relationship between God and man was expressed in Abram’s new name: Abra[ha]m.  From then on, Abram’s name included the breath of God and signified the mingling of God with man.  In fact the closest translation of the Hebrew word neshamah, the word translated almost 200 times as Spirit in the OT, is mostly associated with the English word breath.  Jason Gray sings a song teaching us that the first thing we say at birth and the last thing we exhale is ‘breath’ or God’s ancient name. (‘The Sound of Our Breathing’)

God, by that I mean His Holy Spirit, is everywhere.  There is nowhere He is not.  The Spirit of God covers the earth, just as the anti-spirit of Christ challenges all in the earth.  The Holy Spirit is the functioning agent of God post-resurrection.  God the Father and the Word of God (the Son) made the earth and all that is in it.  When the Christ of God was crucified and raised from the dead, the Holy Spirit of God came as our guide and comforter.  We don’t have a simple war between good and evil but a war between Spirit and spirit, a Holy One and an unholy one.  Even though we see flesh and blood at war it is not simply flesh and blood that war.  There is a universal anti-Christ spirit in the persons, the families, the community, the country and the whole world.

God blankets the earth with His Spirit. An example might be if we lived in a balloon.  In that balloon, the very air that’s inside the balloon fills all the spaces that we do not fill, we are enveloped by the presence of God, there is no place He is not.  Everything that is not us is Him.  He would see all, be all, be in all, knowing all because apart from the space we occupy, He occupies.  Our problem is having interpreted everything though our senses (what we see and what we feel) we have not learned to hear the ‘still, small voice’ of God, who is Spirit.  Not the Casper kind but the Holy Kind.

God believed it was necessary to teach us of this Spirit and important for us to really consider it, not as an allegory or symbol, but real.  Our task is to take something invisible, something that we have hidden and masqueraded as mystical or silly and make that a part of the foundational truth of the Gospel message; a significant part of the triune nature of God.  Ours is to not let the cartoons and the horror, of which most popular spirituality is portrayed, take away and diminish the powerful work of God found in His teaching of Spirit.  Christian author G. K. Chesterton stated the following: “You are free in our time to say that God does not exist; you are free to say that He exists and is evil; you are free to say like Renan that He would like to exist if He could. You may talk of God as a metaphor or a mystification; you may water Him down with gallons of long words, or boil Him to the rags of metaphysics… But if you speak of God as a fact, as a thing like a tiger, as a reason for changing one’s conduct, then the modern world will stop you somehow if it can.”  Many times that’s done by reducing the Spirit to the spirit pretenders of Casper and Edward and Jacob.

Charts

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On his program the other day, I heard Ravi Zacharias talking about the stock market.  I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the ‘most manipulated game in town,’ but stock charts are what Ravi was referring to in his program.  In the market, a lot of charts have huge ups and downs; the highs are very high and the lows are like the bottom of a roller coaster ride.  Sometimes those charts can constantly be changing up and down; those kinds of charts are referred to as ‘chop’.  They’re nervous charts.  Run one way a short while, and then change course and run another way in dramatic reversals. Now if you’re trading the markets, the ‘chop’ charts can be your friend.  In some market charts you can find people getting ‘whipsawed’, ‘retraced’ or trampled in a ‘breakout’ and you will learn that ‘head and shoulders’, is not just a shampoo.  However, if you’re living life like that, your life is constantly running one way and then all of sudden drastically reversing.  It’s not a very welcome emotional experience.  Ravi was talking about how, as believers, our life charts should begin to take on more of a horizontal line as we allow Faith to stabilize our daily life experience.  His point was that as we grow and learn as Christians we begin to take on a chart line in our lives that becomes more and more ‘flat line’.  If I remember correctly, Ravi talked of how Paul encouraged us by teaching that he had become the same in little and in much.  He was constant and consistent when it came to his life experience.  In shipwrecks, prison and persecution, Paul had learned to live free from the emotional roller coaster traveling between belief and doubt.  The more he knew Christ and his crucifixion the more the very high highs and the very lows became level, an easier road to travel.  The charts in our lives would, in chart talk, reflect lower highs and higher lows as we lived this life, and could, if we permitted it to be so, cause us to become simple men and women of Faith, a constant Faith.  In chart talk, take on a triangle shape with decreasing trauma to our hearts.

One of the most important things that Jane and I have been aware of is a lack of burnout, or growing weary, in our Christian experience.  I was in a discussion the other day with some friends and it dawned on me how blessed we were to have an ‘alive, moving’ Faith that continues to intrigue and reveal itself over all the years.  I think another way to say that is we have never stopped learning more and more about the Mystery that was Christ Jesus.  We haven’t stopped our learning experience to defend a doctrine, denomination or a persuasion.  We’ve been blessed to journey along the Gospel way and not camp anywhere in particular or quit in one place along the Way.  There’s a lifetime of discovery in this Message.  I don’t think we ever reach the fullness of everything there is to know about Christ, but we can add Revelation to each and every day.  God is a moving, alive God, and while He is unchanging, He moves in us and on us throughout our lives.  And, while we may think we’ve discovered all there is to know of God, in reality the learning and the experiencing never ceases.  This is always something new, something to be amazed at in His story, all the time. The picture God drew for us of this journey is the tabernacle.  As we enter the front door we pass along through a process, moving through altar, washings, candlestick, showbread, table of praise and stand at the entrance into the Holy Place.  We do not enter at the door and just stand, we move along through the Christian Life experience.

That moving thing is something I remember writing about a few years ago.  Faith by its very nature is an action.  I wrote of how necessary it is for people to ‘go on with God’ and not be encumbered by holding on to yesterday too firmly.  God is a ‘mover,’ and as His people we must constantly be getting in a position to ‘follow’ Him on our journey of Faith.  In the very first verse of Scripture, God moved on the face of the earth.  He’s still moving today.  He told Abraham simply to move, to Go!  Telling him very little else about ‘go where?’  One of my favorite biblical teachings is about Jacob.  If you remember, Jacob ran in fear after receiving (actually by deceiving his father and cheating his brother Esau) the blessing from his father.  At one place he stopped running and settled into a place called Beth-el, literally meaning ‘God’s house.’   That was the first place he met God.  As was traditional in that time, Jacob built an altar of stones to mark the place ‘where God was’ found.  Jacob could have stopped there, never left that spot.  He could have justified his life by just settling in and becoming comfortable with knowing God was there.  We sometimes act like that ourselves when we first meet God.  We get stuck in that one place, thinking all that God has for us is in that one location. We quit seeking Him any further.  We just stake out a little ground there and sit down.  We assume we’ve come to the end of our wandering and we establish residence in one place.  We think we’ve arrived and had all revealed to us in that one experience. Oh, when we get in trouble or need God to show up, we return to those same stones and hope God is still there in that place.  We go back and visit the same place and again do the same things we did before, because we want what happened the first time to happen again there.  But God’s a moving God!  We will need to find ‘manna’ at the next location!  (Seek Me and you will find Me; hunger and thirst for Me and you will be satisfied.)

 

Jacob did exactly that, left the safe place and packed up his family and re-located, this time to a place named ‘El-Bethel,’ literally, ‘God of the House.’   Jacob now had two experiences with God.  He had found where God was at the end of the first journey, and on the second he had found who God was.  Jacob had ‘located’ Him in the first and had come to ‘know’ Him in the second.  We have the same opportunity in our lives.  We find Him one day and over time we need to continue to learn of Him.  Just as with Jacob, there’s another journey to take.  That journey is the purpose and the fulfillment of the first two journeys.  For believers, God has prepared a place for us, revealing it in our hearts.  It’s not only a future Heavenly promise, but promises in our earthly experience as well.  In Jacob’s case it was called Ephrath.  As you read Scripture you discover Jacob had no idea why he was to go there.  (In fact, he had a lot of opposition to going to Ephrath.)  All that Jacob knew was that he was to go and simply followed God to that place.  At that time the town of Ephrath was of no real consequence.  However, generations later, we discover that Ephrath became Bethlehem.  Do you know why Jacob needed to go to Ephrath?  On the journey Rachel died in child-birth.  But a son was born to Jacob and Rachel.  A son Jacob named Benjamin.  Benjamin would raise his sons in Ephrath, and his son’s sons would be born there, and their sons would live there.  Jacob’s great, great, great, great, great, great grandson, Boaz, would be born there.  In Ephrath, Boaz would meet Ruth, they would have a son, Obed.  Obed had a son Jesse and Jesse had a son David and out of Bethlehem, out of David, would come a ‘Son’ named Jesus.  Jacob’s move had a purpose beyond what he could see.  God had a plan for all the earth and it was located in the last move of God in Jacob’s life.

Twenty two years ago, Jane and I moved from our comfortable spot and began this journey called WBVN.  In following Him to another place, we discovered more fully the provision and the very nature of God.  In this place we discovered ‘El-Bethel’ or the God of the house.  We believe by following Him here, moving with Him here, we discovered more of His personality, character and faithfulness.  In being led by Him, rather than just staking out a place of comfort, we found God everywhere we went.  Here, we learned more about who He is, not just where He is.  Here, we experienced miracles of God.  Here we grew more confident in Him.  Here we found His Grace sufficient.  He is new every morning because He leads us into a new place every morning.  Our ‘Christian talk’ of following Him and that He is a lamp unto our feet became more real than ever before.  Our encouragement to everyone is not to stop where you met Him.  Continue to move forward.  We have not arrived yet, you probably have not either.  We are refreshed by knowing that tomorrow is full of Hope and Love and those are places we find the Peace of God.

Obviously, for years now this ministry for us is about encouraging people.  It’s not this building on Market Street, though it is a wonderful place to have settled into.  It’s not the radio equipment and such, although it’s amazing what technology we have been permitted to use to share this Message.  It’s not being in some kind of show business, or the artists we have met over the years.   Really, it’s not even the music.  For us, it’s about changing people’s attitude about their God, who loves them so much that He gave.  For sure it’s about people finding the house where God is, but just as terrifically, it’s about encouraging them to find the God of that house.

22 Years

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Twenty-two years               11 Months            25 Days            200 Thousand Hours                 12 million minutes

That’s WBVN measured in time.  It all began on January 8th, 1990.  That was our first day broadcasting.  The first song was Keith Green’s “The Victor.”  The first concert was with someone you have long since forgotten about or someone you have never heard of: Bob and Jane Farrell.  They were billed as Farrell and Farrell at the time and had many big hits and recognizable songs, but long gone now.  Our most recent concert was with Mark (need I say more?) and 33 Miles and Finding Favour — the 143rd concert event over all those years.  Soon we will exceed over 100 thousand concert attendees for those 22 plus years.

In this newsletter I’m ‘waxing historical’.  Actually, I’m ‘moved historical’ this year end.  I’m writing this letter after having just finished our Fall Celebration, and in so doing and in the process of writing a thank you letter to all the people that called in their pledges of support, all those facts about the radio station came flooding into my mind.  And if you will permit, I’d like to do a bit of rambling with just a few thoughts about the past and the future.  These are not profound by any means, but they are my personal thoughts about having had such pleasure in serving our listeners over these years.

It has been quite a run!  So many songs, so many giveaways, all the words said over the station and lyrics sung declaring the Gospel.  I must tell you, we did not have a 22 year plan!  Our original plan (and still our plan) was to just do this ministry one day at a time and be here for as long as we were ‘relevant’ (my word) to the believers in our listening audience.  And as amazing as all those numbers listed above are to us, we have an even more important number that we cherish.  It is the number ‘1’.  We have maintained and purposed ‘1’ message the whole time.  The Grace and the Love of God is our personal Hope and also our purpose for sharing through this ministry.  We have not been moved away from the desire of our heart beginning on that January day.

We have always had just ‘1’ vision for this ministry.  It never included growing to become some huge radio group or even to be the most financially successful ministry in the area.  We have not been moved to ‘try’ to be anything other than a good companion to our listeners and a good steward of the funds that they have provided for us to share this WBVN message.  We have had the pleasure of painting a picture of the heart of God for people, using the music and message of WBVN.  The most important thing has been to not only encourage, but to stay within the original context of why we believe God gave us a voice with this radio station in the first place.  We are not easily moved by the thought of being anything other than being His.  Sometimes I don’t know how we have guarded ourselves from any other purpose than our original, but I’m perfectly aware of why we have held on to it so tightly.

As we begin our 23rd year I’m having flash-backs of so many things that have happened to us.  I’m reminded of all the miracles that we have seen happen to this ministry for us to continue these 23 years.  The first step was taken when we only had $5300 dollars in our personal savings account and the first month’s contributions totaled just over 700 dollars.  We remain vulnerable, a people with little skills and not much money but tons of purpose and appreciation for our listeners.  Delicate is how I view this ministry.  So much has been done and so much of it is attributable to His being a lamp unto our feet, and you have been the manna from Heaven to feed all the listeners that have chosen this ministry for encouragement.

Louie Giglio authored a book called I Am, and in it he points to the story of Moses.  You know the story, God asked Moses to go to Pharaoh.  Moses wanted just a bit more information, just needed a little more of something to hold onto than just being asked to go.  So God gives Moses the answer: ‘I will be with you’!  Moses still looked for more.  What would he tell Pharaoh about the God that was sending him?  God said simply to tell Pharaoh that I Am who I Am, just ‘tell him I Am sent you’.  I’m sure Moses must have paused and thought, Well Yeah, but!  But for God, that was all Moses needed to know, it was enough.  It’s a name that implies present tense and an active form of the verb ‘Be’.  God was telling Moses He was unchanging, constant, unending, always present, always God.  God was telling Moses, ‘I Am the center of everything, I Am running the show, I Am the same every day, forever, I Am the owner of everything, I Am the Lord, I Am the Creator and Sustainer of Life, I Am the Savior, I Am more than enough, I Am inexhaustible and immeasurable, I Am God’ (‘Look here Moses, I Am will be with you!  You don’t need anything else!’)  Giglio goes further, if God’s name is I Am, Moses’ name must be I am not.  I am not the center of everything, I am not in control, I am not the solution, I am not all-powerful, I am not call the shots, I am not the owner of anything, I am not the Lord,…I am not running anything, I am not head of anything, I am not in charge of anything, I am not the Maker, I am not the Savior, I am not holding it all together, I am not all-knowing, I am not God…  God continued, ‘This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation…’  God wanted Moses to know that not only would He remain the same, His name would endure to every generation that would inhabit the earth, even to our generation, mine and yours.

I believe God is with us.  I believe, as Jesus taught us, that the Kingdom of God is present now and not just in the future.  He’s in this mess with us and He is ‘Be’, and being a verb, he is ‘being’ right now.  It is not sufficient for us to just think that God was and will be in the future, we need to believe that He is and is now.  Faith and trust is more than a couple times a week experience.  It’s always and it’s now.  God was and is and is to come, always.  It never changes and is current and here even now.  Not because we get spiritual all of a sudden, but because the Spiritual is always present, always ready.  I’m convinced that the reason God knows everything is because the Spirit of God has entered the earth and is always everywhere.

I don’t know if we are ready yet, but it sure feels like we are beginning to come into two new revelations of God.  The first is that our present expectations and practices might not be all they have been promised to be, and secondly, that He is I Am in our every moment.  We don’t really bring anything to the equation except our hearts minus our heads.  We are like Moses.   We are not sufficient, we are not super spiritual, we are not worthy of the many assignments that God sends us to do, but He is all those and all those present in our lives every moment of our lives.  That’s where trust and obey comes from.  That is where faith and hope come from.

Now we start a new year.  We will laugh some of the time, but we will always be sober about the responsibility that God has treasured us with.  Treasured us with responsibility, I intended to say it just that way.  It is not a burden but a pearl that we would give anything for the opportunity and God has given this radio ministry just that– our hearts desire to share His story.  Our hearts are full for the kindnesses and the partnership we have experienced with you.  Our trust has always been in I Am but our hearts are always aware of the people that have trusted us and shared their lives with us for these 22 plus years.

In short, the translation I Am is simply ‘Be’.  What we do not understand, He makes up for being with us.  What we do not do, He makes up for being always present.  What we get wrong, He makes a way for never leaving us.  What we do not see, He makes up because we know He is our Light in any darkness.  When we do not have enough, He is enough.  That’s the definition of our Faith, I Am makes up the difference, I Am is the all in all.  What we do not know we have I Am to trust in.  What does not feel good, I Am still has His hand out to grab ours and lead the way.

From our Oct. 7th concert Mark Schultz:

Before the Earth (I Am)   The universe (I Am)   In every heart (I Am)   Where you are (I Am)   The Lord of lords (I Am)
The King of Kings (I Am)   The Holy lamb (I Am)   Above all things (I Am)

Yes, I Am almighty God your father  The risen son of man  The healer of the broken   Who bore the sins of man
The author and perfecter   Beginning and the end… I Am

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