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Newsletters

Dad Ain’t Mad

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

On January 8th, WBVN began broadcasting in a New Year for the 23rd time.  I’ve had people ask me over the years where the impulse to start a Contemporary Christian Radio station came from.  It’s not a simple or necessarily an easy question to answer.  There were many things that occurred to push the process forward.  There were many things happening to Jane’s and my lives that seemed to propel us forward, in what seemed to us, unexpected ways.  If you had a couple of hours we could discuss all that, but for this letter let me just say: the twists and turns were so exaggerated that we could not have been mistaken about the fingerprint of God in the mix.  If you held me down and threatened me with some fierce look I probably could come up with one thing that I attribute it to the most.  I think the one reason we were following our hearts in getting involved in ministry was due to one single thought, but one that had many years of application in both our lives.  That single knowledge, the one thing that set us out on this journey, was that we came to believe with all our hearts that ‘Dad ain’t mad.’

Somewhere along the way as believers, we became convinced that God was a giver, a lover, an encourager, a ransomer.  He was a friend and He was not angry with us.  He was not mad at us, not repulsed by us, not eliminating us from His Life.  We discovered that God so Loved that He could not help but Give.  That He was taking every opportunity to bring us into Himself, not looking for ways to keep us out.  He was making a way for us, not getting in the way.  He was eager to be a companion rather than an angry God finding excuses and reasons to separate us from His Love.  If ever there was one reason, one thought, one thing that was the seed that eventually grew up into WBVN, it was that one truth.  Paul talked of ‘knowing God’, to be aware of the intimacy of His seeking us out and providing a way for us to succeed in this Life.  If believers could have that one truth come alive in their hearts, I believe the power of that would be infinite.  For us, we found that saying His praises was our full-time thing.   As we did that, we saw our lives change.  We saw more and more opportunity to say that over and over again.  The knowledge of God’s Love and Grace led to the opportunity to do what we had been doing privately with only a few people into being able to do that publicly with thousands over WBVN.

 

What we trusted in the most, what we said the most, was that God Loved us before we loved Him.  That He chose us before the foundation of the world to be in Himself.  And, it was His Purpose and His Will that we might live and move and have our being in Him.  It was God’s dream to do so and we are the benefactor of that dream.  In spite of thousands of reasons and justifications to make ashes out of us all, God has always provided for our relationship with Him to be real.  That became an overwhelming truth for Jane and me.  He provided cover for Adam and Eve.  He placed blood on the door post in Egypt that His people might be spared.  He provided a ram for Abraham.  He put Abram to sleep and cut a covenant that He knew Abram could not keep so He did it by Himself.  He provided a Day of Atonement in the Law to offer forgiveness to Israel.  He provided manna from Heaven.  Does that sound like a God looking to separate Himself from His people?  He personally buried Moses with loving kindness. He chose David in spite of David.  He chose Saul (Paul) even though Saul persecuted believers.  And immediately after the resurrection, from the mouth of Jesus, He instructed that someone go and tell Peter of His resurrection, the same Peter that had denied Him three times. And it was He that gave the ultimate sacrifice, the final sacrifice, His Son for a perpetual sacrifice so that we could approach the throne of His Grace.  God searches us out, offers a Grace and Mercy we do not deserve, provides access for the unworthy.  When His people rejected Jesus, He sent the Comforter of God to be in and on people.  And, what was once reserved for only the Prophet, Priest or King became a companion to all that believed.  Does that sound like a God that was trying to find a way to eliminate people from His presence?

He paid a price we could not pay.  He pledged that He would not leave or forsake us.  He obligated Himself that nothing could separate us from the Love of God.  He declared, as early as the Book of Isaiah, that He would pour out His entire wrath on One.  He promised to set a rainbow in the sky as a testimony of His Grace and Forgiveness and being totally and completely satisfied with Christ’s blood as a propitiation for our Sin.

For us, ‘Dad ain’t mad!’  His hand is still reaching out.  He is the Good Samaritan that paid the price in the parable.   He is the Father that stands at the road’s edge watching and hoping for His son and places a ring of covenant on his son’s hand and a covenant coat on his back upon his return.

That said, I know and have had incidents of people trying to say to me:  Yes, but!  And I will permit someone to describe the Gospel in other ways and in other expressions.  But, if I were to have to tell you what is the most important truth, what is the secret to seeing the impossible happen in our lives, what is the most profound, most powerful, it is this: God told Abraham that He was the Friend of Abraham and we are Abraham’s seed and we have inherited that same Friendship and Love.  We have a great God and we can declare that as a simple daily testimony.  It is the most powerful truth Jane and I have found in the Gospel.  He is the Center of our attention.  We permit the free gift of Righteousness to guide our walk.  We do believe with all our hearts that God has sought us out, reached for us, gone through heart-ache for us, treasured the thought of having someone choose Him in return.  Have someone do as the angels have done, declare ‘Peace on Earth, good will toward men’!  That Peace has been declared, a covenant of Love has been fulfilled and we can be the beneficiaries of that Great Love.

It has not been a revelation of who we are that changed our whole lives; it was a revelation of who He is that made that difference.  When we began to live like ‘Dad ain’t mad,’ things that we had struggled with all our lives fell off our hearts.  Peace became our home.  We entered into a Rest that comforts us each and every day.

Well there!  I’ve done it, blown our cover!  You might have thought the most important thing is to be smart; my response would be ‘really?’  Look at us.  Maybe you would think lots of money.  Well, Jane and I had $5300 in the bank when we started the station.  Expertise?  I still don’t know how we do this!  We are just as ordinary as the people that support and pray for this station.  And you now know that the ordinary is extra ordinary with the revelation of the Love of God.  Paul teaches in Ephesians that to understand the height, width and the length of God, we will first need to know the Love of God.  That’s the order of His revelation.  We do not become perfect and then become Spiritual, we get to put on holiness, righteousness and sanctification and with that ‘putting on’  comes a transformation into the Spiritual, and with that a change in our behavior and attitude follows.  Any other order than that Paul calls a foolish pursuit of the Gospel.  God intervenes in our lives as we see Him for who He really is.  Jesus said in so many words, if you can perceive me, you can perceive Him.  The most powerful question in the Bible for me was the one Jesus asked Peter, ‘Who do you say I am?’  How we perceive God affects how we experience Him.

For us, that was the turning point.  That truth has brought a liberty that is not sinister.  It has brought a freedom that does not take advantage of the Love of God, but expands what we have seen and what we have experienced.  We all know what is wrong with the world, we know what is wrong with us.  The mystery is to have discovered what is Right in the world and what He has made Right in us.  We will show forth His praises as long as we have breath and this radio station continues in one message and one hope: that all those who have come to trust and obey will find the God of Abraham who was Abraham’s Friend

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

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

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.

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