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Two Sides of a Coin

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Coin Side 1: ‘Fess Up’

Ok, it’s time to say it. I’ve been approached by folks lately that are fixated on “where are we” in the biblical timetable. Things are moving so fast. We have two distinct groups of thought. Many cheering us on along the path we have chosen to take and just about as many trying to pull back on the reigns and slow this thing down. It’s so like the days of the Prophets, who had bad news to deliver in an environment where most folks just wanted to be left alone. Well, here’s my take. And, in spite of the tenor of the content, I can say everything and still keep a smile on my face. It’s not good news on the surface but, as most novels go, it ends up ok.

Let me first say this one specific and necessary thing: It is positively, necessarily, and obligated that we choose Him. That is the one true and unique fact of this life on planet earth. Now I know many disagree and many are even now working actively to get us away from that fact, but regardless, it does not change the fact. The following is my explanation of why.

The planet was created by the hand of God and the creature (that’s you) was created by the very breath of God. He made that creature totally dependent upon Himself. He, at that same time, made the creature independent with the choice of whether that creature would actually depend on Him or not. So we are left with one huge dilemma: we need Him without exception and yet, we are obligated to have to choose Him in order to have the very thing we need. Problem! For me there are only two things going on in the earth, those that seek Him and those that are trying to deny Him. This is a ‘me or He’ choice. There is one Need that’s contrasted by a million ways that the creature comes up with to try and separate himself from God. Not smart to do, but that is exactly the free choice God has given to us. And, the world is running as hard and fast as it can to do just that.

Now, assuming that is the case, here’s the rub. You see, the creation is not neutral. God, in order to make the need part, the NEED part, put a caveat in the mix. Here’s the caveat: Choosing against Him, no matter how many diverse ways we come up with to do it, ALWAYS leads to calamity in our lives, our country and the world as a whole. That’s where I believe we’re at! We see trouble, and the potential for more trouble, because the creature continues this journey by choosing his own way. Because of the caveat, every time we choose against Him we become as blind. Israel, even His chosen, became blinded as they continued to reject His every call. And Paul teaches that, without Christ, we will be as those that stumble and fall. As we (meaning our culture, our world) distance ourselves further from the Love of God, as we get further away from Him, we look more and more like someone drunk on his own rebellion. That’s not because we are silly just by ourselves, it’s because God in His Wisdom has put the caveat in. It’s impossible not to stumble and be as blind men when we choose against Him, No Exceptions! It’s not like we can get smart enough to avoid the blindness; no it’s a blindness guaranteed by the very rejection! The world has decided that what we lack is logic, but logic will not work. OK, we need more reason, more education, but both have been proclaimed and expanded and both have failed to provide a true remedy. We just need more communication and discussion is the cry today. Yes, that’s the grand solution to the earth’s problems. Or, maybe our peace will be found in the banks and the insurance companies. This is where I think my grandfather would have said, “Hogwash!” It’s us just putting more confidence in our ‘head stuff’ rather than the heart of God. We just simply will not learn that, apart from God, we are nothing! Nothing! That’s not a word that means we are something, but something with just a little less of Him. No, nothing means nothing, zip, nada. Oh, we are a million things for sure, but the sum total of the million things is still zero. But, the world will not get over it. It labors full time to say there is no God, we need no One! Why do we do that? How do good and normal people seem to be able to do it so easily?

Jesus occasionally dropped the answer in his conversation. I don’t think it’s easily recognizable because we usually see the symptoms of our independence, but not the cause itself. The cause of all the trouble we see and dread has a basket full of ‘independent’ tricks for us to choose from, but really there is only one cause for all this stuff. Jesus called it ‘the spirit of anti-Christ’. It is powerful enough that it lets very reasonable, very logical men and women act totally unreasonable and not logical at all. It’s so clever it does not necessarily take evil or crazy folks for its expression, but takes everyday people and their everyday activities to accomplish its rebellion against the Love of God. It, this spirit, works full time against the Truth, cheers the Lie, applauds the bad and makes heroes out of our elite rebels in our culture. It’s this spirit that makes it possible for us, sometimes the best of the creatures, to call evil good and good evil. Makes no sense, but we do it without a conscience, and sometimes wrapped in the flag of our great love for humanity. This spirit of anti-Christ works in people, people that would never purposely choose for it to do so, but because it blinds us to the Truth we sometimes unknowingly partnership with its purpose.

Bottom line: I believe the Gentiles will reject this Gospel just like Israel rejected their King, our Saviour. The world system will continue to do to Him today what they did to Him 2000 years ago. They killed the King of Glory. We are in the process of doing the same thing right now! I’m reminded of a vignette we’ve played on the station for over 20 years. You know the one: the aliens from Zebulon Alpha 04. They wanted to know if anything special ever happened on the earth. Finally, in the interview with their human contacts, they get to the point that the humans tell those Zebulon fellas that ‘God once visited the earth.’ Their response was ‘did you welcome Him as King, hold a parade for Him, name buildings after Him, throw a party for Him, roll out the red carpet for Him, worship Him?’ The human finally tells them, ‘No, we killed Him!’ It sounds amazing and impossible, doesn’t it? But that’s exactly what they did. It’s exactly what many are trying to do again today!

Other Side Of The Same Coin: ‘Applause from Heaven’

Well I’m left with only one thing to say: Hope! Just because those that choose against Him are without Hope does not mean that you are without Hope. This coin has two sides to it. Whenever one is present the other is present also. This side is about a Kingdom that challenges the lies of the other side of the coin. It’s Kingdom again kingdom. God’s Word and Spirit are active and reliable in the middle of what’s going on with side one. To hear the information above does not have to overwhelm or discourage us. We do not give up just because the secular world chooses to run from God. Just because the creature chooses against Creator, does not mean that the New Creatures are subject to the same fate as the rebellious. We are instructed not to grow weary just because we see these thing happening. The Kingdom of God runs parallel to the rejection. As it increases, so does the evidence of the Love of God in the earth.

The calamity we see around us, and around the world, proves the caveat that without God it is impossible to experience Faith, Hope, Love, Peace, Joy, etc. A world without the Love of God looks like the one we see the signs of more and more each day. The further the world distances itself from Him the more the world accumulates trouble to itself. Ours is not to fret, God has seen the beginning and the end and is not wringing hands with worry. Good News: the Love of God preserves those that choose to trust and live in it. It does that in the middle of this mess we see day to day. Jesus told us very directly to FEAR NOT. He did that with all the tenderness that Tenderness can muster, with all the Love and caring that Love can Love. It was not said with an arrogant heart, He said that with loving cheer to keep our hearts from fear even in a time such as this.

I Am That I Am

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

“I am the maker of the Heavens, I am the bright and morning star
I am the breath of all Creation, Who always was and is to come…

I am the One who walked on water, I am the One who calmed the seas
I am the miracles and wonders…

I am the fount of living water, the risen Son of man, the healer of the broken
And when you cry, I am your savior and redeemer, Who bore the sins of man
The author and perfecter, beginning and the end, I am…

I am the spirit deep inside you, I am the word upon your heart,
I am the One who even knew you before your birth, before you were…

Before the Earth (I am)
The universe (I am)
In every heart (I am)
Oh, where you are (I am)
The Lord of lords (I am)
The King of Kings (I am)
The Holy lamb (I am)”
(Mark Schultz – I Am lyrics)

I’m a robber this month. I don’t mean an evil kind of robber, but let’s just say I’m borrowing other people’s wisdom. I’m ‘borrowing’ the Mark Schultz lyric above and adding writings from a book I’ve been reading written by Passion speaker, Louie Giglio. The book is called I Am Not, But I Know I Am. It’s a title that attracted me. Actually, when I first saw the book on one of those swap book sites I kept trying to figure out what is that book about? I thought it might be kind of an ‘I am not, but I know I am’ self-awareness book; you know, one of those goofy books that center us on us, instead of Christ. You know, a book about ‘I’m a little crazy here so I do not exist and yet I know I do exist’, something silly like that. Actually, when I got into the book, I discovered it was even more interesting and thoughtful than my imagination. I’m sure Louie wouldn’t mind if I shared a little of the book with you (at least I hope not!)… You know the story, God asked Moses to go to Pharaoh and Moses wanted a little confirmation here, a bit more to go on. God gives Moses an answer: ‘I will be with you!’ Moses still looked for more. What would he tell Pharaoh about the God that was sending him? God said to tell Pharaoh that I Am that I Am, tell them I Am sent you. I’m sure Moses must have thought: Oh, Yeah! Could I get a little more to work with here? I’m talking to the One who created the universe, being told to go to the most powerful man on earth, and I get ‘I Am that I Am’. Sure, I’ll just tell Pharaoh I Am sent me. Right, that will impress Pharaoh. That will do it, sure!

But somewhere along the way, Moses got it. It’s the name of God and implies present tense and an active form of the verb to Be. God was telling Moses He was unchanging, constant, unending, always present, always God. Giglio goes further: God was telling Moses I Am the center of everything, I Am running the show, I Am the same every day, forever, I Am the owner of everything, I Am the Lord, I Am the Creator and Sustainer of Life, I Am the Savior, I Am more than enough, I Am inexhaustible and immeasurable, I Am God (Moses, I Am will be with you! You don’t need anything else!)…Giglio goes further, if God’s name is I Am, Moses’ name must be I am not. I am not the center of everything, I am not in control, I am not the solution, I am not all-powerful, I am not calling the shots, I am not the owner of anything, I am not the Lord,…I am not running anything, I am not head of anything, I am not in charge of anything, I am not the maker, I am not the savior, I am not holding it all together, I am not all-knowing, I am not God…God continued, ‘This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation’…God wanted Moses to know that not only would He remain the same, His name would endure to every generation that would inhabit earth-even to our generation, mine and yours.

That is profound to me. We spend days, months and years trying to study the Bible to know better the heart of God but the essence of that exchange between Moses and I Am sometimes gets lost in the searching. I Am. Is that enough to go on? Is it enough to sustain us? Is I Am the most important thing we can learn? Pretty interesting questions I think. I know that over the years I’ve become more and more confident that I Am is in my life every day. That I Am is present and active not only in my life but in my family’s and friends’ lives and all believers’ lives. There are Fingerprints in each.

We can see the hand of God, the Fingerprints of I Am, on so much of what has happened to us here at the station and in our lives. Recently, we received a contribution from a local business from Saline County. I wrote them a letter and indicated that I was not sure what the contribution was intended for but I was sure that it would play an important and necessary role in the next few months of sharing the message of God for WBVN listeners. Two days later that terrible ‘inland hurricane’ took the station off the air for 6 days! (The longest time we have ever been off the air in the 20 year history of this ministry.) We lost our power source at the transmitter site from Friday until Thursday. And now, I can say with some confidence, ‘Never again’. I can say that, because of that business’s generosity. With their contribution we were able to order a propane stand-by generator. It will not only power the transmitter for our broadcast during power outages, it will turn itself on and off in a moment’s notice of power having been lost. That has the fingerprint of I Am on it. We have a twenty year history of that kind of evidence of God. We’ve not had a need for that type of equipment until now; however, after this winter’s ice storms and this spring’s wind storm, we realize to continue to bring the ‘uninterrupted’ Love of God over WBVN, we needed to secure a power source that would more firmly give us the opportunity of FM 104.5, to be there no matter the weather conditions.

I had someone come up to me at the beginning of the recovery from the storm and ask if we were up and running. That was on Sunday and I had to tell him we were not. His response to my statement hit me between the eyes, ‘But we need you more now than before the storm!’ Well! That simplified the situation. Fortunately, a friend of the station, one that really didn’t like having WBVN off-air, took up the effort to research back-up generator options and brought me the material to work with. That effort and the contribution just received two days before the storm, was enough to convince me I was seeing the Fingerprints of I Am right in front of me.

I have all kinds of beliefs about God. All are heartfelt and all have been searched out- some are even probably right! However, none are as important as knowing I Am is present and with me no matter the situation, no matter whether I understand the situation, or even if the situation is not one I want to be in. That’s the first thing that Moses needed to know and the only thing that Moses needed to know to follow the purpose of God.

The literal translation I Am is simply ‘Be’. God is and He’s with us, always. What we do not understand, He makes up for, being with us. What we do not do, He makes up for, being always present. What we get wrong, He makes away for, never leaving us. What we do not see, He makes up for, because we know He is our Light in any darkness. When we do not have enough, He is enough. That’s the definition of our Faith, I Am makes up the difference, I Am is the all in all. What we do not know, we have I Am to trust in. What does not feel good, I Am still has His hand out to grab ours and lead the way. Now when I read the title of Giglio’s book (I Am Not, but I Know I Am) I hear him say, I am not anything, but I know the I Am! And just as Louie points out in the book, God is ‘Be.’ Not good grammar, but great theology.

Three Kings

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Recently, I read a very small book, took about an hour and a half to read. It is called A Tale of Three Kings (written by Gene Edwards). It was originally written in 1980 and since then has been turned into a staged drama. It is not a complicated book. Its simplicity is found in the Biblical record of three kings: David, Saul and Absalom. It does something I’ve never really run into before while reading a book; as usual, it backgrounds the Saul and David story but leaves you hanging on the David and Absalom story. You have to do a little research after reading the book to get the full picture of David’s kingship, his anointing if you will.

The story is found in II Samuel, and it puts the focus on David and the rebellion of one of David’s sons, Absalom. It’s an interesting read because David is confronted with Absalom’s challenge after many years of ruling Israel. David suffered the ridicule of Saul in his early ‘anointed-life’, and now, after having been king for over 30 years, David again has the choice to embrace fear and threat or to remember Samuel’s promise of anointing and rest in the knowledge of God’s will for his life. Absalom, motivated from a reformer’s heart and maybe just a little ego, confronts David with a direct challenge to the kingdom. David has the sizable choice of handling it as young David handled Saul, or mimicking the heart of Saul, literally, physically trying to kill the challenger, his son, who would be king. David can decide to trust completely in God, as he did in the past, or rely on his own authority, army, and rights of his current kingly position that simply comes from having been given authority by men. Would David preserve his place with the power of his office or the power of his God? Because of Absalom’s threat, David must decide what to do to maintain and preserve his life.

Not too surprisingly, David chose to leave the city of his reign, exactly what he did when Saul attacked him. Surprisingly, when he did leave, David’s priest decided to bring the ark of God with them, but David instructed the priest, Zadok: ‘Carry back the ark of God into the city, if I find favor in the eyes of God, He will bring me again (to Jerusalem) and show me both the ark and His habitation.’ David gave instructions that both the ark and the priest were to return to Jerusalem. David wanted something of himself remaining, a place to return to that was his own, something continuing of his that David could come back to at a later time. The story reminds me of the world we find ourselves in at the present time. David wanted a place, in place, in the place of the rejection of his kingship. In David’s heart, he was coming back to that spot, that home spot, when he returned to Jerusalem. Likewise, God, in His heart, has left an ‘ark’ in the world that He can return to also. In spite of having been rejected by this world and having gone away, God retained an ark by His Spirit in His Church. He will return, and He too will have something to come back to: you and me and all the family of God.

You are that place in the heart of God. People that have talked to me over the years know that I think ‘the end will come’ when the Gentiles reject Him, reject His presence in the current world (Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ) just like the rejection of the Jewish community at His first coming. By that I mean, when the world does to Him what the Jews did to Him, then I believe Christ will return for His Church, the ark that has been left here just like the ark that was left in Jerusalem by David.

Scripture tells us: ‘He came unto His own and His own received Him not.’ Christ was rejected by His people, but He was also rejected by the very Creation He had so carefully made. ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ Here is the Creator of all things, the proprietor of all things, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, the brightest of all Morning Stars, who came and the created offered nothing to its Creator. As the parable states: ‘This is the heir; come let us kill him, and take his inheritance. And they took him, and cast him out…”

Now, in the place that rejected Him, that rebelled against Him, that killed Him, God has a place. It’s in you. It’s a place He can call home, someplace where He is recognized. As Martha paused and sat at His feet and ‘received Him’ so the Church has that same place in this world. Now, for the tough part, Martha did not only receive Him but she was ‘listening’. That’s what we must do today. That’s what’s so unique about today. We believe in Him, however, can we hear Him? It’s not easy is it? The world around us is busy, noisy and unfocused. It isn’t like we have a quiet place to listen, but listen is what we must learn to do in this present chaos. In fact it’s a little more than listening that we must do, it’s a step up from listening; it’s actually hearing and absorbing the heart of God. Right now, in this very place, we live in a world rejecting the Love of God and His provision about as quickly and as eagerly as is possible. We are all being asked every day, will we go our own way or will we choose His? Are we able to hear the quiet voice of God during all the chaos? The way I will answer that is: Yes. In fact, the Church will do just that because that’s exactly what will constitute His Church in the middle of this mess! Without doing that we will just become a religious tradition. We will need to learn to be the place that receives Him and listens, following Him with our lives.

We’ve been taught hundreds of doctrines. Now, it seems, we will have to learn how to apply what we have learned. You know, actually live it. A library of books and sermons on cd will not be enough to meet this challenge. While that can be frightening, in spite of the stress and pressure the Church will find new and wonderful ways to experience and depend upon God.

Martha’s friends were around the same Word from the Master, but only Martha paused, received, and listened. It is not simply being busy that qualifies believers for serving, but listening also, perhaps even more so. A feverish pace of religious activity is not the same as hearing Him speak to us. Leading Him to bless our plans and our ways doesn’t have the same quality of Faith to it as following Him no matter where that leads us.

In some ways the Church was made for a time such as this. To be set in the place of His rejection, to be a testimony to those times. When He returns, He will return to this, to us. Now you say, what if this is not that time, the final time? No matter. Should this be or not be that time is of no real consequence. It is, at the least, another opportunity for us to come out on the other side with a renewed vigor for the Gospel, or at the very best, it will be a revealing of the Glorious.

David told Zadok to return to the city and ‘when I come back I shall come back to something that is with me.’ Are we ready for such a relationship with God? I think so. We must be sober with expectation and excited with anticipation and celebration of our Faith.

We are playing a song by The Sonflowers titled “Legacy.” It’s about someone who died giving his life for ‘the call’ of Christ. In it is a line, ‘I wanna love enough to give, give enough to die, die enough to live my life for such a sacrifice.’ That’s pretty good advice for us in these times. We don’t have to enter into the pressure kicking and screaming. We can be like David who, even as he left the place of his kingdom, knew God would deliver him back and establish him in the place of his rejection…that’s hope in God.

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