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Newsletters

John

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

“The Scribes and the Pharisees brought you the woman taken in adultery, asking if you would break the Law of Moses and not have her stoned. Seeing if they might accuse you. … the hatred and some who sought to kill you. (Jesus) ‘You judge the flesh, I judge no man. I am the one who bears witness of myself and the father who sent me.’ And they cry, ‘Where is thy Father?’ ‘You neither know me nor my father. Whither I go you cannot come. You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples. You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ And they cried, ‘We are Abraham’s seed and were never in bondage to any. How shall we be made free?’

The crowd pressing forward, James and I stepping in front of you lest they try to seize you. Those who shouted against you, who pushed against us. …The jeering. The mockery. The ones who raised their fists, sought in the ground for stones…the first stone coming, the great surge of the people to seize you.”

I have been reading a novel about the Apostle John, therefore the excerpt above. The book is set on the isle of Patmos; John is in his 90’s, blind. It has been many years since he witnessed the miracles, years since first being with the Messiah, the One he had put all confidence in, now crucified. Much of the script is John re-living the memories, the miracles, re-living when he and his brother were a part of the twelve. The joy of that moment still vividly lives in John’s heart and mind. The setting on the isle is bleak, mostly gray rock and gray sky. John is surrounded by a few friends that have come to ‘serve the Apostle’. There is a line in the book that says, ‘How can this have been where such faith was?’ There is no physical or emotional reason for faith to thrive there, no logical way that faith should find a home there. That question is one that comes into mind throughout the book. Although I have not finished it and have no clue about how the book turns out, just the opportunity to think about that question has made it worth reading. How can this have been where such faith was? Ever felt like you’re in a place where it’s just not friendly to faith, a place maybe even opposed to faith? When I look around I get the feeling that question applies to our lives today. Where does this steadfastness we have in our hearts come from, where does it hide in our hearts, to reappear when we need it most? How does it survive in us? And it seems we need that faith desperately right now!

That faith that held John to the heart of God, that same faith, is in us who believe today. Why? I know I don’t need it as a crutch. Many say that a Christian faith is just something that makes life easier for them because we need something to believe in just to keep us sane in this troubled world. I don’t think the faith I experience does that at all, it is not generated out of that kind of psychological desert. I, and just about every Christian I know, do not use this faith as a balm for the pressures of this world. Sometimes it does just the opposite; its struggle creates stress rather than relieves it. Instead, the powerful change that remained in John’s life after political banishment and physical deterioration held fast all those years because something changed in him after meeting the Master (and that same change has happened to us) that cannot be denied. It’s not that it is only convenient to believe, it’s that it has become impossible not to believe. I think many of us have tried that unbelief stuff and it simply leads to the realization of how can we not believe?

Some people have said that the Gospel came from Paul, that he invented it. Some say it came from a group of old dudes that made it up just to control the masses. Paul answered such suggestions himself, ‘I want you to know brothers that the Gospel I preached is not something that man made up.’ (Gal.1:11) Paul suggested further that it was not received from any man. (Gal.1:12) The Gospel message itself is not a bunch of traditions built out of an ethical church system either. It is more than ethics and morals. It is a living life! It is something that Christ gifted to us. The gospel, boiled down, is not even Adam, Moses, Isaiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. The Gospel boiled down is Jesus Christ and him crucified! Paul’s Gospels, as some have called it, came from the highest authority. The Gospel came to him by revelation directly from Jesus Christ. That gospel is bigger than the problems, both internal and external in our lives. It is not about a belief system that simply gives us confidence, overcoming fears. We don’t believe it to help us soothe our ‘tormented minds’. John did not hold on to something all his life because of some psychological need for ‘mind salve’.

John had been exiled to Patmos. Upon his arrival, he had a great vision, a Revelation! That wonder was mixed with tension, hunger, storms, cold, sickness, fear and threats. No Holiday Inn here. Hard times. Barren, gray and bleak. Messages of the martyring of the other eleven, even of his brother. It would take more than a feel good story to keep his heart steadfast. It would take something so profound that he could not get it out of his mind. Something so real it could not be forgotten over time. Something so strong that it withstood the wind, the hunger, and loneliness. That’s how we feel today if we have met that same Master. Some days I would like to lay it all down and just give up on the pressure, disappointment and frustration this life brings. But I just cannot! Like John, I can’t forget a spring evening in April when I was 16 years old. I can’t forget the miracles I have seen, can’t get over the tenderhearted moments where the Spirit of God was so present that I thought He was standing behind me. I can’t forget! Too powerful. Too wonderful.

I have had a week! What that means to a radio person is that we have lost power, lost the backup generator, had to work on two software problems in the office. Been accused of playing ‘new-age’ music. I have had a week! Yet, the thing that has happened in all that is that I did not become discouraged, I simply remembered all the things of the past. The things that I can’t get over, the things I can’t forget, and they push me to tomorrow. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to just cry and throw a fit, but I can’t. This faith has become involuntary! I don’t turn it off and on. It is permanent. I have become that faith. Rather than trying to work hard to believe, I now have to work hard to get frustrated with it. That kind of faith is promised to us. I think someone famous said it was ‘the good fight of faith’. Like John, it can become not a fight to possess it, but a fight to overcome the world.

The Past Few Weeks

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

The Past Few Weeks Have Been Something!

This May newsletter follows a huge amount of ministry opportunities for us. It started in February with a Downhere and Chris and Conrad concert. Both encouraged us and focused on the Gospel message we all hold dear. We followed that with a full house at the March 20th, Michael O’Brien and Allen Asbury event. Michael’s generosity to our listeners is evident. In twenty years, Allen was the first opening artist to ever get a standing ovation, a terrific ministry moment. We just finished having a three day Celebration event and we tagged a Rush of Fools concert in the middle of it just for good measure. This month we bring in, for the first time, one of the most successful ministry bands in CCM, BarlowGirl. And just recently, we announced a very unique, special night with Mark Schultz. Mark is coming in on Thursday night, June 17th, for an intimate, personal good-bye for the next year as he and his wife Kate spend a year in Italy. All of those ‘gatherings’ and the time we spend on the radio each day, week, month, year and years caused me to think about how this all began. I’ve written about the license process before and I have shared some of the significant things that happened to us along the way. There have been real miracles over the 20 years to tell about for sure, much more than we can include in a newsletter.

How we started the station physically has a parallel story of how the station ‘started us’. Over the years, especially back in the late 1980’s, many people were aggressively trying to do something for God. That’s a wonderful motivation; I understand it, and I applaud the desire to do just that. However, my point of view is a bit different than that. I’m always careful about how to express the way Jane and I found ourselves involved with the Gospel in such a full time way as WBVN. It simply started by doing the Gospel out of our hearts. We had no idea, dream or vision for establishing any organization. And, while I can’t tell you how to discover entirely what God has in store for you, I can share how all this (much more than we could have ever imagined) has happened at this radio station. Be careful here. This is not a formula, it is not doctrine. It’s not about our Faith level. It is a simple testimony to God’s presence and fingerprints on just a couple people’s lives that followed their hearts without knowing where that might lead them.

Let me begin this way. WBVN is the result of something much simpler, much more subtle for us. Sometimes listeners inquire about how to set up a ministry, how to do a radio station, where do they find ‘their’ ministry, or just simply how do they find an audience for what they want to share so much. I usually tell them, man, you’re talking to the wrong guy. Find someone that knows about all that. Our experience was so different than that. We were not looking to establish anything; actually we were looking to simplify our lives rather than increase our role or take on a 24 hour a day responsibility, and a new and significant financial responsibility to boot.

You see, we spent a dozen years telling people about the Love of God, the Grace and Mercy of God and doing that privately and weekly in a small Bible study in a friend’s home. The only thing we were consistent about was telling people about the Love of God. It was the Love, Grace and Mercy thing that carried us along. It never crossed our minds that we would be able to talk that in front of thousands of believers for 20 years. While that would have been wonderful to find, we were not looking to find thousands of like-minded people to gather together. We simply made a decision to invest our lives in the lives of people that we were already in relationship with; caring about them, sharing with them, loving them. Ours was simply to do things that God had put in front of us to do at that very moment. When life was easy, we praised God. When life was hard we praised God.

Jane and I both believe that if you encourage others, you will find encouragement in that effort. If you are generous, people will be generous. If you care, people will find some way to care back. If you hope, people hope with you. We came to serve people as best we could, even with limited personal ability, but do that without hype and self-promotion. Neither of us is talented enough to do that anyway.

Doing that kind of Gospel ‘service’ may not create an obvious response as fast as we all sometimes want, but any response will be real and lasting from the people you touch with ministry. Abraham waited 25 years for a promised son, Paul was 15 years in the wilderness, Jesus was a carpenter for 30 years before ever doing one miracle. I’ve mentioned before, the first month we were on the air our donations were $360. It took three years before we paid every bill, covered every cost with the contributions that came to WBVN. Today, we still live month to month, but we have been in a consistent partnership with our listeners for more than 20 years and we will continue to do this as long as that partnership is intact. Your prayers and financial support affirmed that partnership during this past Celebration.

Our theme of ministry is, that instead of doing something for God, do something with Him. That puts us in the position of following and being lead rather than out in front and seeking Him to bless our ideas and imaginations. That’s how Jesus lived, it was not just good intentions that directed him, he did the things that he saw the Father doing. He never wrote a book, never recorded a song, and never started any organization other than the togetherness of a common people with a common belief.

People sometimes think that we planned to get involved with Christian radio, had an idea, or made a decision to do radio for God. We did not. We found ourselves here. We followed the footsteps already laid down for us. Now I get it when people express themselves about doing something for God. We’ve been trained for thousands of years to do something, do anything, and do it for Jesus. My encouragement is to take the opportunities that He is providing in your daily life and do them eagerly. Do those simple things for God as a first step, the complicated ones will follow. For us it has been a journey that we never imagined, one we did not plan.

My unsolicited advice, don’t spend your life beating down doors that you have chosen to open; find the ones that God sends you to. Live ‘deeply’ in the moment you have been given with the people you have contact with today. Not all contact permits that, but there are people in our lives that we have been given to share life with, do it! Care for a few with no expectations of anything in return. As Paul teaches, be encouraged, be the same in season and out of season. Simply do the Gospel, and do the Gospel simply!

Praisers

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Recently, some friends and I have been discussing the role of Praise and Worship in our daily lives, and how much that role is a natural response from being children of God. Doing that brought back memories of a newsletter I had written in September of 2006. Its subject was ‘praisers’. I read it again this past week and was reminded of how necessary worship is to our Christian experience. I’ve re-written much of it but used it as the framework for this letter. The original letter was written at the time we were required to relocate the station. Even though we had put much time into looking for a location since the early part of that year, by September we had no apparent studio location in sight. Privately, while we steadily moved forward, we still were very aware of a December 31 deadline to move and how vulnerable we were to things not going well for us. An unknown future stared us in the face daily. That environment produced that letter with a few re-writes for this one.

For twenty years we have called this station an encourager. In fact, that’s the single most common way we describe this ministry. Certainly, encouragement is the end result of what we do. But, I’ve discovered that what we do to receive and experience that encouragement is ‘praise.’ Throughout scripture, biblical praise is shown to be a powerful experience for believers. For example, in Ezra 3, they ‘praised’ before they laid the foundation of the Temple. Joshua was quiet for six days before being instructed to shout (or praise) and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. In 2Chornicles 20, ‘praisers’ were sent before the Armies of God. There are many other events and times where praise played a significant role. I don’t think it is so necessary for Him to receive those praises, but more importantly for our sake, it is absolutely necessary for us to give them. It may not even be so important that we understand why we praise, but doing it is necessary just the same.

As I mentioned earlier, we like to use the word encourager to describe this ministry. Encouragement is present in the biblical text. The Hebrew meaning is consistent each time it is used. Encouragers are associated with ‘cheering’ (my word) people on. It is a word used when imploring people to be strong, to hold fast, to withstand, to repair and to recover, and in each case to be courageous. I think that pretty well describes what we do on WBVN. At least that is our hearts’ desire for this ministry. We do not challenge listeners to a new doctrine, but instead we cheer our listeners on in their own personal Faith, no matter the specific doctrine.

It seems that praising was ‘easier’ or at least more common two thousand years ago. There are many scriptures that instruct us to ‘praise’ in all kinds of situations. For some reason, praising is not as natural for today’s believers as it seemed to be for the early Church. I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown up feeling a little too ‘self aware’ at times when I was in the middle of simple praise. Seems that praising God today needs to ‘be given a defined time’ for it to take place. For us to feel comfortable to express biblical praise, we, more often than not, need a meeting designed especially for praise rather than a spontaneous event of praise. I think in the future we are going to see more ‘spontaneous praising’ as God manifests His presence in our routine daily lives. Maybe our living rooms or back yards will become centers of Worship and Praise.

The environment provided over WBVN seems to elicit that kind of private praise response. The music ministry here seems to hold some real importance for our listeners. I’ve told friends of a few times when my Sonoma pickup was ‘a house of praise’.

Today, for the most part, praise gets all bundled up and packaged as ‘singing praises.’ Now, we do plenty of singing here. And, as I mentioned above, it is encouraging. It brings a confidence and an awareness of God’s love and provision. But I think just as importantly, the opportunity for the station to just simply say praises is good for all of us. I think what we say about Him and what we play about Him is all part of one expression of praising God.

As believers, many times we may not know exactly what to do. Maybe there are no words, no action that can be done, but we always know that it’s powerful to praise Him. If in doubt of anything, you can always be sure on this one thing: praising Him is always appropriate in any situation. It brings to mind the over used, and too much quoted, but always appropriate scripture from Habakkuk, “although the fig tree may not blossom, neither shall fruit be on the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail; and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, and I will joy in the God of my salvation.” And, while He is worthy of that praise, we, because we are worshipers by inclination, need to praise Him for a complete expression of our Faith. It doesn’t take being a believer to worship. Just look around you and you will see all people worshiping something or someone. The Bible tells us that where our treasure is, there our heart is also. That’s true of believers and unbelievers. If we will not worship Him, we will find something else to worship. We were born to worship if you will. When we worship, we are ‘at home’ because the Creator created the creature with a need to worship. It’s the object of the worship that makes the difference: things, them or Him.

What we have to say about the Father, what we believe about Him, is so critical during times such as these. The world, and specifically the Christian community, sure needs to know what to say and we need to be saying it with confidence right now! Praising Him does that for us. It’s in times like these, times when the world seems to overwhelm and discourage, that we can discover how important ‘praise’ is for us!

I kind of look at it like this. Any day could be our last day. I have one general rule for the last or any day of our lives: We should just praise our way into His presence. If it isn’t our last day, let’s praise Him anyway, expecting the Father to follow up with His presence and evidence of His manifestation in our daily lives. We may not understand every scripture. We may not have memorized each verse. We may not have prayed each morning this week. We may not feel God’s presence at all. We might feel all alone. Maybe things are falling apart all around us. But each day, whether we feel like it or not, we can praise Him. I think that what happens here encourages all of us, binding us together, listeners, radio and Spirit of God, in one unity of praise.

We’re very grateful for you being in this partnership of believers known as WBVN. It is always a pleasure to gather together each day so that we are able to Praise God over FM 104.5. Thank you for your prayers, concert attendance and financial support to keep this ministry relevant in our lives each day.

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