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October Newsletter: Miracles: The Restoration of Normalcy

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

We’re about to start our 27th year of ministry at FM 104.5.  Amazing isn’t it? Perhaps miracle is a more appropriate word.  I don’t talk about miracles much.  It’s not that I don’t believe in them; I do, without measure, believe in them.  I’ve been around so many miracles it would be criminal for me to think differently.  Actually, I think God didn’t create them for us to be surprised when they occur, but to live in such a way that miracles are a part of our Christian Life, and we would experience them all the time. However, I don’t say much about them because I’ve never really had proven to me, either by life or person, any way to manipulate or control them.  I believe we see many more miracles than we recognize.  I remember someone asking me a few years ago why we don’t see many miracles today.  My response was that if we were asked to write (with a gift of total recall) our life stories, we’d discover many more than we imagine.  If I may, let me walk around a bit in the WBVN experience to kick up a few miracles hidden in the brush, flush them into plain sight.

I don’t think I’ll start at the beginning.  I’ve talked about that a lot and it would take pages and pages to step though the process of how an introverted me, with a non-wealthy family, without radio skills or knowledge, with no aspirations to take on a fairly large financial debt, a father of three and husband without a clue how this was all going to work out began this venture.   How that family could accumulate volunteers, friends and family to help create something they and even the volunteers knew nothing about; how, despite lacking persuasive powers to create a huge emotional response, kicked off this station with a huge $345 in contributions its first month.  Nope, not going to start there.  Not going to mention how time after time people came into our studios and provided just the right skills, skills we could never have acquired on our own.  Just tell me how a ministry that’s given a 90 day deadline to leave their original studio building can then end up across the street from the source of one of that ministry’s great joys: concerts at the Marion Cultural & Civic Center.  And, what about the people that announce music here.  Mothers that take time to interrupt their normal day to come and announce song titles and artists.  The guys here all work other full time jobs, only to come in to help with a couple hours of DJ talk for us each week.  Tell me how a small community gets a call from someone named Mark Schultz while he’s on a flight to Alaska to ask us to host a DVD recording that ends up winning the Dove Award for best video that year, how does that happen?  Explain to me why Big Daddy Weave asked us to host their DVD filming.  Tell me how listeners fund a ministry when that ministry simply makes its needs known, a ministry that has not traded any promises with those people except to share the Gospel with them and be efficient with the gifts they give.  Nope, no way I’m going to go back and tell you about 3 or 4 artists that have given back financially to WBVN after they were in concert here.  I’ll wait for a later time to bring up the miracle of even getting an FCC commercial radio license, and that license putting us (a non-com Grace station) in the middle of the commercial radio dial, surrounded by all the secular stations. I’ll not mention the 180 concerts produced over the years, many by artists over and over, not only because of the financial contracts but because of the personal contact they experience with ‘BVNers.  I refuse to say anything about what personal relationships have been established between this ministry and its listeners.  I’ll not mention how some 20-25 men and women have volunteered to work our concerts so consistently that (some friends and family) they’ve grown too old to lift the boxes anymore but still show up to do whatever they can.  I don’t want to bring up the two times that we needed special financial help and our listeners rescued us by giving for those needs specifically, almost to the dollar what it took to replace a transmitter and repairing our studio roof.  In fact, I don’t have to bring up that, for some reason, during our Celebrations we get 100 calls of support and yet 600 people actually send in contributions each year.  That’s a few of the miracles that I’m not going to even start to bring up, miracles that we’ve seen over the years; and there are others.  Thousands of miracles we’ve heard about or seen from our listeners.  I could list pages of miracles, some easy to recognize and some that just blend into the tapestry of our everyday lives.

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That brings me back to the point of this letter: miracles are real, and even more importantly for this particular letter, they’re natural!  We’ve been persuaded to call miracles ‘super-natural’.  And they are super, but in the Kingdom of God, in the presence of His Son, miracles are as natural a thing as they can be.  Again, I’m emphasizing that miracles can be expected as a natural result of being in relationship with the Creator of the universe.  We may not know how they look, not know how they come, be unaware of how they work, not aware of what their role will be in the big picture, but miracles are simply the result of believers entering into ‘His Kingdom Come, His Will Be Done.’

We should have learned miracles are not foreign to this world; they occur all around us.  Your breath is a miracle.  Your eye.  Your relationship with your mother in law, well in some cases anyway.  I think one of the things that rob us of ‘seeing’ miracles is that we’ve limited our miracles to a certain few.  If we don’t see the ones we’ve chosen to root for, we over look those occurring in our simple daily lives.  Miracles are like seed: given the correct environment they sprout, they come to life.  Where He is, is the  kind of environment miracles occur and He’s present everywhere.  I don’t like to think of miracles as being earned by us, but more closely associated with us simply being in the place that a Giving God can give.   For years I’ve described the Gospel as being like an electrical breaker box.  You might have forty breakers in that box but if the ‘main breaker’ is turned off, all the other breakers won’t work even though they’re directly wired to their purpose.  That 200 Amp main breaker in the Gospel is the Love of God.  All things pass through that breaker.  1 John 4:18 assures us that perfect love casts out all fear.  That environment of Love removes fear, the absence of fear ushers in, turns on the breaker, for miracles.  Of Faith, Hope and Love, Love is the greatest. (1Cor. 13:13)

Let me end the letter with a personal note.  Even though I work in radio, I’m not gifted with communication skills, have no educational bent for radio, introverted for sure, I’m uncomplicated with my Faith, un-trained in so many of the things I do every day.  Yet somehow, someway, God has led Jane and me to a place of experiencing the Joy of caring for thousands of people each day.  I think that’s because we learned years ago how to depend on Him so much.  What we have to say about the Gospel is what we’ve been saying for 40 years.  The Love of God thing, the Grace of God, has always been the rudder of our thoughts.  I’ve been through some things I never expected to go through, had some heartache and disappointment.  I’ve missed the mark on some things and could have done some things much better than I did.  But, Jane and I have lived a miracle.  We’ve each had the pleasure of noticing those miracles.  Life hasn’t always been ‘rosy’.  But God’s fingerprints on our lives have left us amazed at how much of a role He can play in its wanderings.   To me, the Kingdom of God is like a sunset.  I’ve seen so many evenings where the beauty takes my breath away.  Many times while I’m standing admiring those skies and while in the company of someone, my friends don’t notice those colors at all.  Seeing the miracles camouflaged in our lives is in itself a miracle of God, a gift from Him for us just to take the moment and take the time to see them.

September Newsletter- Three Men In A Tub

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Three men in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick-maker,
They all sailed out to sea.

That, to the unknowing young folks hung up in computer games, is a sample of what we once called (at least in ancient days) a nursery rhyme. It’s a fossil of our childhood from back in the ‘good old days’. That’s what our parents supposedly abused us with at night to put us to sleep. Remember? Who Killed Cock Robin, Three Blind Mice, London Bridge, Rock A Bye Baby, Row-Row-Row Your Boat, and stories of The Tortoise and the Hare, The Ant and the Grasshopper– I still remember parts of all those.

This fall, we’re closing in on choosing our next President. No matter how it turns out, about half of the people in America will be thrilled and just a little less than half will more than likely be upset. The election process will probably leave us divided and frustrated no matter who wins. Generally speaking, the election will not “fix” things that need to be fixed in this country, or for that matter, around the world. For sure the questions that need to be asked won’t be, and the subjects that are critical to our future, for the most part, will go unmentioned. We’ll have a leader, but he or she will not really control this country or the world. In some way, we’re all in the same boat like the three mentioned in that rhyme: the ones either thrilled and the angry, the candlestick makers, bakers, butchers, teachers, professionals, construction workers, the ‘right and the left’, the believer and non-believer. All headed together to our common destiny. What we do to get to our destination will make a huge difference in what we find when we finally get there. In spite of being encouraged that we are simply higher animals than the lower animals, life just doesn’t happen to men and women, life happens in relationship to people’s actions. Life, well lived, takes skill and carefulness, wisdom and patience, character and planning, focus and goal setting, all features that our political leaders threw out the window a long ago. Life as the Father would have it for us requires that our eyes must be opened; not a life of walking around as though our eyes were closed. A contrast of living in the Light versus existing in darkness.

Beginning at Mark 4:35, the Biblical text describes a moment the disciples were in a boat, crossing ‘to the other side’ when a violent storm began. This was not just rough seas; this was a killer storm. The disciples feared for their lives and they cried out (like all us good disciples), waking up Jesus who was sleeping in back of the boat. “Don’t you care that we are perishing?” In other words, “Jesus, do something about this, don’t you understand!” Please correct this, don’t just watch this happen, do something now before we perish! Jesus in turn rebuked the storm, enforced Peace and asked the disciples, “Why are you so fearful, how is it that you have no Faith?”

Jesus could release Peace because he had Peace. It was the place he stayed. Peace was not something that occurred occasionally in his life, it was something that was always there. Sleeping in a storm was not a problem. Jesus knew that where God is present, Peace is present. There’s no fear in Heaven, no faithlessness there because He is there. Jesus lived in the knowledge of that same Peace in the here and now. His heart was established in Peace. That Peace is not the absence of everything terrible; it’s the presence of Someone! Knowing God was with him provided all the Peace he needed no matter the trouble. All Jesus needed to know as he entered that boat was that God had told them to go to the ‘other side.’ Knowing that was enough for him to sleep in the middle of that storm. Knowing the Will of God for our lives gives us the comfort of God, the Shalom of Heaven. The disciples knew “going to the other side” was God’s purpose for them, and knowing that, they could have ‘calmly’ gone through the storm that raged. As for the storms challenging our boat, can we ride those out in Peace? If we’re following the instructions of our heart, why should we fear because it’s rough? Who holds our hand?

If we will do the Life thing, the right thing, we will get to the place we’re to go, no matter what seems to obstruct our way. We may experience pressure, we may have to pay a price, but if our goal is in the Purpose of God, in the Will of God, if it’s done with the right heart attitude, we’ll get there no matter what happens along the way. Actually, seems to me, when we set high spiritual goals to walk toward, that always brings storms before we get to any Godly destination.

Once the disciples reached that ‘other side’, they ministered to a man full of unclean spirits. In effect, a man was changed because they did arrive to their destination. Had that storm stopped them, the Glory of the ‘other side’ would never have happened! There was a storm; it was a ‘perfect storm’ because it had perfect results at its end.

If our hearts (and this country) embrace the Will of God, and His Purpose, we will get through this present storm. We have huge domestic problems and dangerous international problems but the biggest problem of all is the hearts of men set against God’s purpose. The spirit of Anti-Christ is at work in the earth. But this country, and I believe it was by the vision of God, was set in a boat and told to go to the ‘other side.’ We were sent to live in freedom unlike any other people before or since. We have moved in the earth to spread freedom to others, to enjoy liberty for ourselves and share the joy of liberty around the world. We were purposed to set men and women free. Mark’s perfect storm was not about the disciples; it was about their future.

Yes, we’re all in the same boat, but the Gospel is not just simple potential, it is revealed Reality and Truth. It’s not just a way to look at the world, it’s the way God looks at the world. Our Faith doesn’t affect the effectiveness of God, but our Faith can make the journey more powerful and for sure more comfortable. ‘Agree with God and be at Peace.’ (Job 22:21) If we will remain visionaries in ‘God’s ways’ we will get through and past the storm. We will find our purpose on the other side of our journey. If we will do that, the storm will not destroy us. We can Rest; we can be in His Peace. We are able to not cry out in fear. Because He is present we will be able to calm down and trust; we will get to the other side simply because we will remember He told us to go! As a country, if we fail to do that, fail to return to our original and higher purpose, I think we might be looking at a re-occurrence of Paul’s ship wreck. Hopefully, we will sail to our future like those disciples, safely reaching their purpose. Failing to look to His purpose for America, we might have to swim to our future rather than sail in our three-man tub.

August Newsletter-Confidence

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

I’m going to start this letter with what I like to think of as a “modern parable.”  I used this quote in a letter years ago, but after 10 more years experience, I’m more convinced than ever it’s a needed, important part of the Gospel today.  I like it because there’s a thread of Gospel Truth buried in it, even though it’s not a Biblical quote.  I like it, not because of that ethic found in it, but because of its devotion to being constant in our daily efforts to be faithful.  I think the essence of this quote is a safe hint of how to experience more and more of the Faithfulness of God the Father.  If I had to give people something to try, something they could try to see how it works, (and I wasn’t permitted to say ‘knowing God’ for my answer), this quote would be very close to what I would say.  Not just how to be successful but how to experience something we so much want: the evidence of the presence of God in their lives.

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered…Love them anyway
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives…Do good anyway
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies…Succeed anyway
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow…Do good anyway
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable…Be honest and frank anyway
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by
the smallest men and women with the smallest minds…Think big anyway
People favor underdogs but only follow top dogs…Fight for a few underdogs anyway
What you spend your years building may be destroyed overnight…Build anyway
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them…Help people anyway
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth…Give the world the best you have anyway

 (written by Kent Keith)

Summed up: Trust in God’s Love for us!  “Anyway” has been quoted and published by politicians, business leaders, military commanders, teachers, religious leaders, and coaches.  It’s been used by the Boy Scouts, the Special Olympics, quoted at the United Nations…  Mother Teresa’s children’s home in Calcutta, India, had it hanging on their wall.

Believers must sell out that Christ is our Hope in all situations, no matter how stacked against us those situations are.  We need to own the expectation that God will see this through even if the world around us will not.   If we can make up our minds to follow our hearts, to live the Truths of God, we often would be doing the things described in this poem.  We need to persuade our minds to do the things that God says works for us and quit making “adjustments” by responding to the physical world around us.  And, although so much is against us, we can have the confidence described in this “parable” because the Spirit of God leads us into all Truth, shares with us how to live.  Jesus is the Way and the Light of Life to lead us into that Truth.

“Do it anyway!” can be a motto for Believers: simplified, “Do the Gospel anyway.”  It doesn’t matter how illogical or how unpopular with people around us it is, just do it anyway.  God said His ways were foolishness to men so we should quit being so alarmed or ashamed of that.  We were never taught to concentrate on the results of our Faith actions as much as live by Faith not the sight of our eyes and minds.  It’s a quiet confidence even when it doesn’t look or feel like things are working for us at all.  Remember the story of Samuel and Saul?  Samuel was busy trying a bit of everything to solve his “king problem.”  He’d done everything but trust God.  Samuel’s answer was already in the field; a shepherd boy was God’s provision for Samuel’s problem even though Samuel was completely unaware!  (Where might our provision be hidden?)

While reading the Dwight L. Moody biography, I remember a story about Moody’s confidence in God.  Someone asked him how he felt about the death of his grandchild and Moody replied he’d almost forgotten how he felt about anything.  Until explained, that story sounds very cruel.  However, Moody continued that he had learned to act on his confidence in God, rather than depending on how he “felt” about any situation.  The comparison of our “feelings” contrasted with God’s Word and Spirit becomes almost comical to think about.  Nothing that’s True of God is changed by how the world views it.  How we feel about anything is in no way as powerful as our dependency on God.  Trusting Him above any of our feelings. Perhaps, we should stop checking our fleshly experience to determine our spiritual life.  In 2012, when Jane was paralyzed head to toe and on a breathing machine, when every organ had failed and when every physical observation ‘looked’ bleak, we found a natural ability to believe that God was with us, embraced us, cared and rallied our hearts for us.  Faith ruled over what we were seeing!  We were not in a denial about the physical but experienced affirmation of the realness of God’s Love for her, no matter the physical!  (If you play pinochle you know for a fact that you have an all powerful trump card in the game.  Our trump card was a certainty of a compassionate, eager to Love God.)

God’s our source of abiding gladness and joy.  Eventually, gladness and joy will not be found in things we put in the bank, have in our garages or homes.  It’s what we’ve stored in our hearts that matters.  When storms come, what’s inside our hearts will be revealed, or as the old saying goes, “When your cup gets bumped, then we’ll know what’s inside the cup.”  Secularism depends upon circumstances to make us happy.  God’s Joy is available in any circumstance simply because God is present in our circumstances!  Psalm 4 references a Gladness in our hearts and a sleep (Rest) in Peace.  I think Eugene Peterson, in his The Message translation, calls that Peace an awareness of God’s ‘more-than-enough.’

There’s Rest in God that’s not obtainable by our labor or our pain.  Labor is not how God gave gifts to Solomon (1Kings 3:3-15), or how He gave Adam a bride, or Abraham a covenant!  They were all asleep, unable to do for anything for themselves, when God blessed each of them.

The time of Jesus’ rejection was a time of confusion, doubt and fear.  John had questioned who he was, others had rejected him saying that Jesus was a drunkard and glutton; his works were, in the end, fruitless to confirm his standing as Son of God.  It appeared to his followers’ eyes and minds to be a time of great failure and trouble.  Yet, Jesus found Rest in a Faith simply knowing the Father’s will.  While the disciples were “weary and heavy laden”, while everything seemed to be going wrong, Jesus offered a solution.  He invited them to “come unto me and I will give you Rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find Rest for your souls.”  (Matthew 11:28-29)

To follow Jesus is to enter into a way of Life, one that’s given its character and frame by the nature of Christ. That frame is able to hold us up.  It’s picking up the rhythms of Jesus in such a way that we not only observe what he is saying but we begin to walk in what he is doing and how he’s doing it. Many times, following him is as much about our feet as it is our ears.  So! Love anyway, do good anyway, succeed anyway, be honest anyway, think big anyway, fight for the underdog anyway, build anyway, help people anyway, give the best you have anyway.  Do it without looking around to judge how it’s working, do it without being moved by what we hear and see, just do it anyway!  Do the Gospel, trust in Christ, simply because God said it would work anyway.