We have had such good times lately. I’m talking primarily about the gatherings that take place where anywhere from five hundred to a thousand believers come together. I know everyone here gets excited about meeting our listeners and seeing everyone having such a great evening. It has been the succession of concerts and our recent Celebration that I am basing that ‘good times’ on. It seems to have carried on and on from the 33 Miles concert this summer through Big Daddy Weave (just a great concert from my perspective), to our Celebration this month, which was great fun. Celebration permits us not only to raise the financial funds to meet this ministry’s daily needs, it also fills our hearts just getting together in the studios and gathering ‘on’ the radio with our listeners. It’s tough right now finding things that are good times. So many families are troubled, truly troubled by the news and their everyday experience. I sometimes get to feeling ‘goofy’ having a ministry of encouragement, plain and simple. However, while there seems to be so many things we could do, God truly has sovereignly sent us as WBVN to root-on other Christians as the daily expression of our faith. The world seems to be whistling in the dark on its way to some pretty serious problems, many caused by the rebellion of trying in every way imaginable to leave God behind and venture out in its own independence. We certainly need a good dose of prayer and Word study to work through what the world has thrown at us. While we evaluate our purpose and expression at WBVN, we still believe a spoonful of Joy and laughter can be a valuable thing for believers. Staying centered and consistent in our vision is necessary for us to accomplish the modest service we provide to believers.
During these trying times, Joy is so hard to come by. Now I’m not suggesting that we hide our head in the sand and pretend that everything is ok, and we’re just going to party our way through this stuff. But I am suggesting that the light-hearted can have a place in the remedy of what we all face daily, especially Joy mixed with prayer and scripture. An artist in concert once said that music is not a necessity, but it is an enhancement to our Faith–it increases the experience of our Faith. In Jesus, it is possible that our mourning can be turned into laughter. The simple fact that we can find laughter and a smile in these times can be a sign of true spiritual Joy provided by the Spirit of God.
We have had a couple of people suggest over the years that our ‘good times’ at WBVN are not appropriate Christian events somehow. Seems that they are not solemn enough or something like that. Now, I’m all for the solemn gathering, but it’s just that as believers in Christ we can have both as an option. It’s not that one of those expressions is more sacred than the other, it’s that they are both valuable for us. The Gospel of Christ should be wide and deep and not made up of the ‘just my way or no way’ pattern. For myself, I really don’t want people to believe just like me. I don’t want to make them do only what I do, how I do it and when I do it. I don’t want to take on that responsibility. It’s a serious thing to demand that everyone has to express their love of God in one and only one way. I’m not sure I’m right about every opinion I’ve developed from Scripture. Believers need, as Charlie Peacock once said, a personal revolution, not copycat faith. They need to have found God and His Love in their life, not look to mine for evidence of God.
I’m tickled when believers can get together and find ways of celebrating the ‘family reunion’ they are attending. It’s a joy for us to come together to cry sometimes, sometimes celebrate and sometimes laugh. I don’t think Christians should have to give ground to secular fun. The things they laugh at any more, for the most part, are not funny. It’s laughing akin to embarrassment rather than at something being truly funny. Anyway, fun is not the same as Joy. Happy will not cut it for this life. Joy is a spiritual gift and should be valued with all the other spiritual gifts. After all, who should be the most joyful (truly, full of Joy), Christians or lost folks? It doesn’t mean we go around happy all the time, but we can have a smile in our hearts and Joy no matter our circumstances. I’ve been reading a couple of books lately by Christian author Walter Wangerin. He is a prolific writer, penning many children’s books and clever books for adults as well. He is most noteworthy for the novel, The Book Of God and a work titled Paul, the disciple’s life in novel form. In his book Little Lamb, Who Made Thee? Wangerin offers the following, and I thought all of us that are parents might benefit from reading it: “Let the children laugh and be glad. They haven’t long before the world assaults them. Allow them genuine laughter now. Laugh with them, till tears run down your faces – till a memory of pure delight and precious relationship is established within them, indestructible, personal and forever.
Soon enough they’ll meet faces unreasonably enraged. Soon enough they’ll be accused of things they did not do. Soon enough they will suffer guilt at the hands of powerful people who can’t accept their own guilt and who must dump it, therefore, on the weak. In that day the children must be strengthened by self-confidence so they can resist the criticism of fools. But self-confidence begins in the experience of childhood.
So give your children (your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, the dear ones, children of your neighbors and your community) – give them golden days, their own pure days, in which they are so clearly and dearly beloved that they believe in love and in their own particular worth when love shall seem in short supply hereafter. Give them laughter.
Observe each child with individual attention to learn what triggers the guileless laugh in each. Is it a story? A game? Certain family traditions? Excursions? Elaborate fantasies? Simple winks? What?
Do that thing. Because laughter that is so easy in childhood must echo its encouragement a long, long time. A lifetime.”
I agree, if we can give enough laughter to our children it lasts longer than just that one moment. Our childhood provides a fertile field for the seeds of Joy that the Spirit of God can provide in our lives as an adult. Sometimes I get to feeling guilty for having been given the singular ministry of encouragement. I see others minister in other ways and marvel at the simple thing that God has sent WBVN to do. However, without hesitation, I am certain that God asks us to just be singular minded about what we do here. We gather together to edify the Body of Christ, gather in concerts and each day on the radio. Being one if you will at the moments we share with one another. And, if we smile a little, if we feel encouraged after doing so, Praise God!