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Newsletters

Sojourning

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

“Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you…but rejoice inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that when His Glory shall be revealed, you may be revealed, that you may be glad also with exceeding Joy”. 1 Peter 4:12

That’s a great promise. I don’t know about you, but I need some of that exceeding Joy from time to time. I liked using Peter’s quote this month. We have just had a terrific experience learning more about Peter and his friendship with the Christ during the three-day run of The Rock & The Rabbi at the Marion Civic Center. We saw Peter a bit over confident, a little aggressive. We witnessed his weaknesses, his cowardliness, his humiliation and his restoration. It was just a special time for each that attended the musical. Many attended two times, and some were there to see it all three times. It was a strong presentation of a very special teaching about the life of Christ. After seeing this production, I’m impressed that The Rock &The Rabbi might be the best communicator of the Gospel I’ve seen in a long time. Thank you for attending the event. We look forward to creating that type of time together again in the future. And the answer is ‘yes’; we have invited the Rock and the Rabbi back someday.

Now, back to Peter’s statement. We all have to ‘fess up’ to being a little uncomfortable in the world that we are presently living in. I’ve never seen so much pressure from so many sides, occurring all at one time to so many friends, neighbors and family. In this scripture, Peter was expressing what was true for him then, and for future generations- that there would be a ‘hardness’ to this life, a hardness that would be common to everyone. Peter would not have found it surprising that we might find it ‘strange’ that our new life in Christ would be put to the test. He had a few tests himself- failed most of them but continued on. The Greek word used in the text for strange is one that means ‘not of our family’ or ‘one coming from another country’. Because Christians are aliens in this life, we will always feel this uneasiness here. It is very much like going someplace where you don’t know the language, the customs, or your ‘way ‘round’ the country.
Peter says we are ‘sojourning’ or dwelling as strangers here. (1Peter 1:17) ‘Just passin’ through, thank you!’ He warns us that our citizenship will be challenged. That’s because we are citizens of a place not made with human hands. (Heb. 11) We are temporarily traveling through, having no intention of this being our destination. I remember the lyric from a Geoff Moore song from years ago:
“There is a place where truth will always be spoken and promises can be believed
A place where your heart cannot be broken and loved ones never leave…
That’s when I’ll know I’m home.”

Not being home yet can give you the ‘creepy-crawlies’ some days. I know we are not comfortable with what the world has to offer, and it seems that we can’t get our hands on all that God promises just yet, either. But, even in this environment, we can be comforted! But that comfort can only be experienced by the presence of the Holy Spirit of God. That ‘Comforter’ can settle our hearts and minds. Psalm 91 describes a people that dwelled in ‘a secret place’- a people that dwelled in the shadow of the Most High. When the going gets tough, when the heat in this life gets very hot, we can find a shadowed place to rest. It is His refuge and His fortress. I’m sure that’s the only resting place we will find on this journey. Jesus taught of an abiding peace, something that would dwell within us. Something that we could carry from place to place along the journey that would cause us to find that ever-elusive ‘fullness of Joy.’ John 15 identifies the mystery of walking around in this ‘strange’ place and being peaceful at the same time. If we keep His Commandments (simply, love one another with His Love), we will abide in His Love and find His Joy in this very strange place. That’s the secret place. It’s a place that eludes so many. However, that’s exactly how we will find the Peace of God. It is a Peace that exceeds our understanding. We may still face the pressures of this world and be tested to the point of weakness, but we can find a refuge in His Love. His Love empowers us to overcome that pressure. It’s not our strength that does that, it’s His Love discovered in our weakness that does that.

Home for us will come at some other time, in some other place. Here, we will need to “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him, fear not thyself because someone prospers in his way or because a man brings wicked devices…but those that wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.” (Psalms 37) We are encouraged to be of good cheer, literally be of good courage in a place that is not our home. Don’t lose your confidence just because we face trials; rather find your confidence in the middle of them. While we will not enjoy the test, we will come to know where ‘we are at’ concerning some things we are to trust in. We will discover what we really believe about this Gospel and whether it will be the ‘all in all’ as promised in the Scriptures.

Peter was tested, seemed to have failed the test, and yet on the other side of that experience was Peter’s revelation of the Christ. If we hold on, that will happen to us on the other side of our test as well. I’m not cheering for trials, I’m just suggesting that Jesus looked into the world system, evaluated it, and reported to us that there would be tribulations. He then cheered for us not to get discouraged, not to be over-whelmed by them.

There is a famous story of Smith Wigglesworth, who one night as he slept woke up to discover Satan himself standing at the foot of the bed. Wigglesworth reportedly said, “Oh, it’s only you,” rolled over and went back to sleep.

That’s the kind of confidence that I think God wants us to have in the middle of our trial. It’s that peace we can find even in intimidating times. Wigglesworth was confident that he knew someone more powerful than his immediate trouble and could rest in the knowledge of knowing Christ. Can we be that confident? I think so. Come on! Surely we can do better than Peter!

Abraham

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

There’s more that dances on the prairies
Than the wind
More that pulses in the ocean
Than the tide
There’s a love that is fiercer
Than the love between friends
More gentle than a mother’s
When her baby’s at her side…

Rich Mullins ‘If I Stand’

From the foundation of the world God had a desire and a plan that people would be so motivated by His Love toward them that they would respond to that Love with Love to Him and to one another. They would be a people that could live out of their hearts having had the Love of God imparted there by the Holy Spirit of God. That desire would mean the those people would not just be ‘good’ people, ethical people, but that they would be new creatures in their ability to respond with a Love that was not an emotional feeling but a resource drawn from the very heart of God. It would be a people so changed that they would have a Love buried deep in their hearts that did not depend on feelings but on God’s ability to Love. A creature that could draw on an unction in order to live the Christian life. We know God’s Love is possible, after all God so loved that He gave to a very unworthy and unlovable creatures like you and me.

Recently, I’ve been reading Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard. In it, he speculates (probably 25 times) on the scriptures that tell of Abraham’s love of God. Abraham loved God so much that when God told him to offer up his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice, Abraham obeyed. God called

Abraham and Abraham answered: Here I am. We ought to note in particular the trusting and God-devoted disposition, the bold confidence in confronting the test, in freely and undauntedly answering: Here I am. Is it like that with us, or are we eager to evade the severe trials when we see them coming, wish for a remote corner of the world in which to hide, wish that the mountains would conceal us, or impatiently try to roll the burden off our shoulders and onto others…(p.239)

Abraham sought no consolation. He simply rose early in the morning. He was at Moriah by daybreak. He cut the wood. He bound Isaac. He lit the fire. He drew the knife. He was prepared to do as God ask even to the point of loosing everything that was dear to him, every hope for the future, lose the child of promise.

Can you get inside Abraham’s mind for a moment? Can you image the terror of such an act? Can you see the hesitation in Abraham’s raised hand? Can you see Abraham’s face? Image the fear of Isaac as his father prepared the offering. What would have been the outcome had Abraham actually sacrificed the boy? What would have been said and done back home? We do not have to contemplate whether Abraham really was prepared to follow through, his eye was straight ahead, not looking right or left: he was very definitely going to do as God had requested.

God went to an unimaginable depth to reveal that Love to the world. It is a love not based on the emotion of being in love. It comes from being Love, an involuntary Love. One that doesn’t come because of effort to Love, but a Love that comes from having to Love. Needing to Love when the object of that Love of God is unlovely. Try that if you can. Trying will be all we can do. But image being able to Love the unlovely without trying. Having the ability to do so but none of the feeling to do so. We will need help doing that, need ability we do not have ourselves. We will have to draw on the ability of God to do that kind of Love. How do you think Abraham felt going up to Moriah? Because of his love and devotion to God, he hurried early in the morning. I assure you he did not feel like hurrying.
Jesus is The Father’s expression of God’s Love for us. Some of that picture is almost humorous. Imagine being the Son of God and being scolded by his mother and father for making them worry. Or you’re the Son of God working in a carpenter’s shop and Joseph is teaching and telling him how to build a stool. What do you think Jesus knew about creating things!

The picture continues until we come to the flogging. Here the flesh was literally torn from his back, a crown of thorns place on his head, nails in his wrist. It was a death that was determined to be so horrible it discouraged any one that was watching from resisting Roman rule. Here, we get the image of Abraham and Isaac repeated with full discloser of how Isaac must have felt and the severity of Abraham’s deed on Mt. Moriah.

God so loved the world that he gave! To Love you so much is the only way that The Father could have watched His Son suffer on that cross. To have Loved us first, before we Loved Him, was such a strong motivator for God. I wonder if we recognize the totality of the price that was paid for us? Has the story been repeated to the point that we just take it for granted? Has it so familiar that we are not amazed by it anymore? Do we fail to get the full impression of that moment?

To be able to operate in a constant and continuous Love, we will need to draw on His Love. It is an ability that can only come from God. Now, our human love will let us hit the mark every now an then, when we feel like it. We spend a lot of time trying to make our love perfect. Truth is, our (feelings based) love will never give us that ability. God’s Love gives us the ability to do what we do not want to do.

If we are to comprehend the fullness of God, we must be grounded and rooted in His Love (not ours) (Ephesians 3). John 15 teaches of a Love that will bring a fullness of Joy in our lives. It will not be a reasoned or comfortable Love walk, but it will be a possible walk. It is the resource for the believers to take on the very image of God in spite of how we feel. His Love is a raging and fierce Love generated and pre-destined before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1).

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God…

Rich Mullins ‘The Love of God’

“24”

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Home

We’re finally there, well at least as far as this life, we have arrived! We began remodeling the old Tony’s Steakhouse building on November 4th and moved the broadcast equipment on February 10th. It feels good to be home. It really didn’t seem to take that long. We had such good times with those people who volunteered their labor to make it possible. I suppose I’ll miss that the most. It was just good old-fashioned fun working with one another. Volunteers donated a lot of time and we will always be grateful for such a show of generosity on their part. Thinking back over the past three months and how fast it seemed, I was reminded of that simple ingredient in our lives: time.

I’m a ’24′ fan. I had never seen the program until last year. It had been on television for five years before I decided to try it. Mike Middleton had talked to me about it during one of our past Celebrations, but I just couldn’t get into a serial program. It’s a story that seems to never end. It’s much like the radio programs from the 1940′s: leaves you with a cliffhanger every week. Because there are two or three storylines all taking place at the same time, the intensity is just unrelenting. Jack Bauer is the lead character. This guy is superman without the “S” on his chest. He can do it all. He’s even figured out how the use a cell phone, something I’m still trying to master. Anyway, Jack goes from crisis to crisis each program and amazingly, those crises all happen in one hour’s time. That’s the hook for the year. Each episode represents one hour in one day. Each day represents one full television season. So what you have is all kinds of things taking place in each hour of the program, and each year we look into only one day in the life of Jack Bauer. He is a busy man.

I remember when I was a young boy my father used to watch professional wrestling. He would sit on the couch, what we call a divan back then, and he would twist on the edge of that divan, wrench his shoulders, make faces, muscles tense, jump up with disappointment if the good guy was getting cheated or whipped. I kept telling him, “Dad, it’s fake. They are really not beating each other senseless, they are throwing punches that have bee written and telegraphed days before the fight.” No matter, he still wore the couch thin and enjoyed every minute of the fight.

Well, there I was wrenching around on the edge of my recliner, biting my nails, silly stuff. I knew perfectly well it was all scripted and Jack was going to survive because they need him for next week’s episode so that I would come back for more. What is interesting for me about that program is the concept of time and how I spent all season long watching what, in effect, is one day in the life of Jack Bauer.

I’ve had a tendency to describe the Christian life as though it was a book. Each day is a new page to be read. Each day is unique and has it’s own script. No day is the same as the day before. Yesterday’s page has been turned and what will happen tomorrow can’t be discovered until midnight tonight. In the everlasting Christian life, our day does not end when we sleep but continues until the time we step over into the other side of this experience. And while each day is revealed one page at a time, the whole makes up thousands of pages of the book. Looking at any one page can give you a simple photograph of that day. One page will not tell you much about the whole of the book. Our 24-hour days are earthy, not heavenly. They are good for counting time and the seasons but not good for defining our lives. They blur our lives. They don’t give an accurate picture. Only reading the whole book can do that.

We could look at the page where Christ was crucified and be pretty discouraged about the leader of our Faith. But if you read the whole book the end, it is a much better story than that one page. Our lives are like that. Some days, taken individually, can be greatly disappointing. But that novel is not finished in just that one page. We should keep a hope that on the next page things will change. Scripture says that a thousand years is as one day with God. The Father’s time is lengthy and doesn’t have the limitation of a clock. Being eternal, we don’t really live in time. This experience is a millisecond; it’s one page of a novel of 29,000 pages. We can, through patience and practice, take no thought for the next page, and we can forget the past page and go on.

I’ve described the relocation of the studios as “a daunting task.” Taking a March 2006 page out of the book would have caused us to be discouraged, or at least concerned, about how we could accomplish such a huge task. There were many things required of us that we simply did not have: the ability, experience, skills or equipment. Now we have read 313 pages later and find out that God has provided all those things to us in order to finish that impossible task. In those 313 days since last March, the expertise, time, tools, and materials came to us – rescued us. Over the past 10 months, we have seen so much happen that we could not have imagined in our own minds. Some of it was like pulling teeth, but most of it was so much a pleasure. Even in Faith we were still surprised at what God had in store for us. Until this page was revealed, we could not have defined what was happening in the life of this ministry

There have been moments and times in the history of WBVN where we can see turning points and specific interventions by God in the life of this ministry. People and things that have come along just at the right time to meet serious needs of this ministry. We have not seen that on every page but on many pages. Some pages are daunting, but we just wait on the next page to reveal our life’s full story. And while it’s easy to say, “Trust in God,” and difficult to live it, we have so many testimonies of God meeting the needs of this radio ministry one page at a time. Sometimes we have not known what to pray for but just stayed in trust. Sometimes I feel guilty for describing the Christian life this way, but this is the way it happens to us. So we encourage people daily to believe God is in their lives. Pray for what we know to pray for and rely on the Love and Wisdom of God to fill in the gap what we do not know. You may not know where, you may not know when, but He is in the middle of all that we do. Sometimes trusting in Him is all we can do and all we need to do.

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