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Living Life Backwards

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

I guess I’ve heard my share of sermons on purpose. At least by now, they have all pretty much run together to give a kind of panoramic wall mural. I remember when we started the radio station, my sister-in-law told me I needed to write down the vision for this ministry so that I would not forget why we started it, why we were so ‘sold out to it.’ That was really good advice. Actually, like most of us, I don’t think I did that though. I did the next best thing. I thought about it daily, weekly, yearly. I never let it leave my mind. It’s not so hard to keep that in mind when you live like this ministry lives and survive month to month. That dependency on what you do and why you’re doing it is paramount in my heart.

If there’s a single idea I have isolated specifically to remember about purpose it is found in a statement from a Christian philosopher by the name of Kierkegaard. He expressed the idea when he talked of defining life backwards and living it forwards: starting from his destiny and redefining the journey. That to me has made the major difference in my life-choices from very early on. Now I was just ‘lucky’ for the early years. Never had heard of Kierkegaard until just a couple years ago. But, I think having knowledge of destiny can be trusted to direct the whole path of our lives.

I write these WBVN newsletters a little like that as well. I’ve told people for years that each month, while driving, or walking, or working, or doing something unrelated to the newsletter, I simply ‘discover’ a single line I want to write and I just follow the path through the newsletter to that line. I read of a poet that described his work as a process of writing the last line first and following the road back from there. I like that as a life-philosophy. Live life backwards. Sounds upside down, sounds like the Christian life!

If we have a purpose to live, we surely can find a way to live it. That’s what Christ is all about. Living out what is coming before it actually happens sometimes. Finding out what is true and making our lives fit the definition of that truth. The end makes the way for the journey. The problem with a materialistic world-view is that it leaves us bored, unfulfilled and therefore, as the old adage goes, ‘sex-drugs-and rock and roll’ to fill the boredom. Author Malcolm Muggeridge once said that “It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.” Believing in God gives us destiny, a purpose and our beginning to life’s journey.

I recently read the following in a book by Ravi Zacharius “… they (the disciples) knew Jesus in the chronological sequence of His birth, life, death and resurrection. Paul encountered Him in the logical sequence of His resurrection, death, life and birth. Through the keyhole of the Resurrection, (Paul) argued backwards in time… C.S. Lewis, addressing this same theme in the allegorical form that appeals to all ages, effectively captures this powerful truth in his book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe…as the bewildered children hasten back to the scene, they are greeted by Aslan, triumphant over his death…the children yearn for an explanation: ‘It means,’ said Aslan, ‘that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge only goes back to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.’”

Here we are finishing 19 years of ministry at WBVN and still our eye has not dimmed. Oh, my eye-sight needs more correction than it did then, but my vision for why and what is still as strong today as the day we started. I really never expected it to last this long. If you knew me very well you’d probably not be surprised to think that I might have a short-term plan to fail and no long-term plan if we succeeded. And, while I say that a little ‘tongue in cheek’ there is just a little bit of truth in it. We came to do this ministry as long as our lives and your partnership with us lasted. We’re still thinking that way today. Because we knew the end of where we were going, we could find out how to get there. We didn’t guess about it, we knew it ahead of time. Our personal lives, business life, family life can follow the same map. It’s like recognizing where we want to end up and live backwards from that, following whatever road it takes to get to where you’re already at in your heart.

19 years ago, WBVN came with a single purpose: to be an encourager; it has not been diverted from that purpose. The hard part is, that it’s so easy to add to the original purpose God has set out to accomplish. After a few years you can get to thinking about what you might do in order to do something new, fancy or expanded. And, you can image that ‘in the name of Jesus’. However, if you live life backwards from purpose you’re less likely to be persuaded away from destiny. But, the Christian life is always lived backwards. It’s the next life that we presently move and have our being for. It’s a future hope and destiny that we find purpose in today. That same Malcolm Muggeridge once said, “St. Teresa of Avila described our life in this world as like a night at a second-class hotel.” The trick is to live life knowing that the best hotel will be found tomorrow night, and we can live knowing that is our destination and live backwards knowing the end of the journey. We can find joy even in times when we are not happy. That’s because we know something about the future and we let that future affect the present. It’s not that we are trying to figure out everything; it’s that we have made up our minds about something. We know the purpose! We are not judged by our understanding; it’s our hearts that are revealed to God, not our brains.

Here we are at our 19th Fall Celebration. We really didn’t know it would last this long. What we did know is why we came, why we stay and what we are going to do about tomorrow, because we’ve seen the full purpose of the end. We’re asking you to join with us, needing you to join with us. All, and more than we could have imaged in the beginning, has happened to us. We have an anchor that will not let go unless we cut loose from it. Never leaving ‘why’ in anything we do at WBVN is an incredibly important ingredient in staying the course. We might have been able to be more successful financially but not without forgetting or changing the end, the purpose of WBVN. Your help is a significant part of having this message, this Christian encouragement here. We are glad to have come. This ministry’s testimony is the generous support of people just like you and the legacy of encouragement that we have been able to be a part of for all this time. Thank you for all you have done to make WBVN possible since our first day, January 8th, 1990. Every song, each message in our broadcast, is attributable to the faithfulness of our contributors and whatever has been accomplished through this radio station has been accomplished through your partnership with WBVN.


Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Unity (…let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.) Phil. 2: 3-4

Went to a wedding this weekend. Cindy’s son got married. Cindy’s not a family member although she’s family. We attended the ceremony because of a friendship that’s developed over the years. Cindy’s a single mom. She’s raised three children (created a terrific environment to do that in) under the typical stress of being single and having three kids to care for and help guide them toward a day just like Saturday, the day of her oldest son’s marriage.
I can’t give you a list of the things that Cindy and I agree on concerning the specifics of what we believe about the Gospel. After a 19-year friendship, we still haven’t sat down and talked in detail about each and every thing we can agree on or have different opinions about. Jane and I have known Cindy for 19 years now. She has sold T-shirts and CD’s at WBVN concerts for all those years. We didn’t know her before she started helping at the concerts. For years, I’ve teased her that she’s one of my heroes. Well, I never tell her that with a serious face. I always say it kind of tongue in cheek. Really she is. Truth is, Cindy’s done something that I’m not sure I would have had the patience and trust to do. She’s maintained a great attitude in the middle of the stress of raising the kids and all the pressures the culture and the world can provide, stresses that the economic condition can bring, things that I probably would have been crushed by. I’ve watched her and she’s been an encouragement to both Jane and me, been an inspiration because of her tenacity for life, life with a smile on it. I’m not saying all that to score points with Cindy. Anyone that knows Cindy knows you don’t score points with Cindy. Heaven knows, I don’t want her to hear about any of this. She might get the ‘big head’ and actually think that I consider her a terrific friend. That of course would give her the upper hand in all the teasing we do with one another. Let’s just keep this little discussion between us. I’m saying all these things because I was sitting at that wedding watching all the folks do what folks do at weddings. Jane and I saw friends from 25 years ago. We don’t get to see them very often. Some of them have played significant roles in our lives, but you know you just move on to other places and other things in life. Somehow, people get separated from one another. People you used to spend a lot of time with, you don’t spend any time with anymore. Even though we don’t see them very often, Jane and I still care about and have a compassion for those people.

In this 19-year journey sharing WBVN with thousands of people, I’m still amazed by the care our listeners and we have for one another. It’s a caring we’ve all found in celebrating what we have in common rather than concentrating on our differences. Scripture tells us that the world would know us (believers) because of the love that we’d expressed toward one another. The world might not recognize right from wrong but the way believers relate to other believers is almost a ‘fail-safe barometer’ of the Love of God in their lives. There will always be differences in the way we express or share the Gospel. We shouldn’t leave or diminish those things we find so dear in our own hearts in our profession of our Faith. It’s necessary for us to hold onto and guard what has become precious in each of us. But, I don’t think we will all agree to believe one thing about the Gospel. However, we can still recognize and appreciate that we’re a family of God with differences. I don’t think we’ll ever see ‘unity’ come to the body of Christ because we finally get together and believe the same things, say the same things or act the same way. However, I think we can find unity in celebrating the things we all have in common. We all seem to be able to enjoy getting together for a concert or agree to praise God through a single song we’ve heard on the radio no matter what denomination we belong to. We can hope the best for one another. Believing in Christ is a common denominator between all of us. How powerful could it be to celebrate that common belief rather than concentrating on the things on which we might disagree?

Paul teaches that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. He follows that list with this bit of advice: ‘let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.’ Those are the characteristics of the Spirit. Those are the things we should be seeing in the Church. There can be a full expression of the Body of Christ. Hands and feet working together, hearts and arms functioning to a common purpose, even when they individually might be doing different things at the same time. I’m convinced that we can cheer each other on without having to agree or join in on the specifics of our different beliefs. We can encourage one another without obligating others to follow lock step in one expression. We can celebrate each other’s faith in Christ without doing the same things about that faith. I’m not sure how Cindy feels about Matthew Chapters 24 and 25, not sure of her take on Revelation, haven’t got a clue on her perspective on 1 Corinthians Chapters 12, 13 and 14, but Jane and I respect and care for her with a love provided by the author of Love. We do know that Cindy will be our neighbor forever (imagine the thought!) because we all believe in Christ and who He was and is.

In Cindy’s case, we’ve found so much that unites us, we’ve ‘forgotten’ to check out the things that might divide us. I watched at the wedding as she smiled and kidded about so many things and at the same time, for 19 years I’ve watched her make serious decision after important decision about raising those three children. By watching her, she’s taught me how to be a better friend to my friends. Oh sure, I’ve watched tender-heartedness masqueraded as a Marine sergeant, but that’s just Cindy. I’ve seen her sacrifice for her children daily. She has made a way for them, provided every opportunity for them to come to this moment. Each decision has been based on her faith and her love. To be able to cheer her on doesn’t obligate me to take a microscopic look at what Cindy believes. It only takes the knowledge of how much she believes and how much she lives out of her heart, trusting God to provide a way. It just looks like with the choices this country seems to be making, that in the future, believers are going to need one another more and more. We can start practicing that now if we want.

Scripture says: ‘wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits…. (James 3:17) That’s a pretty good way to live with one another. Now, Who would have come up with that!


Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

I have spent a lot of time lately watching. Not birds or the stock market, but things going on around us that are just ‘everyday experiences’. Seems to me that, because we are so hurried and we’re constantly checking the clock to see where we should be next or what we should do next, because of that, we miss many things that should cause us to pause and just add up the events and moments we live in. I think we are at a very unique place in this thing we call time. We are some 2000 years from Christ and we are seeing so many of the characteristics that the Word of God described for the world’s future. While the world seems desperately determined to separate itself from the Love and Wisdom of God, I still get a sense of anticipation about the hand of God in Christian’s lives. It sounds weird to me, but that anticipation of God in the middle of this mess we find ourselves in encourages me. I hope it’s a peace that passes understanding that produces that kind of response to what I’m seeing and hearing. I recently had a friend come into the studio, with tears in her eyes. She expressed a great disappointment about what she had been reading and hearing concerning the choices this country seems to be making. Decisions that are so destructive to people’s lives. It can be discouraging to watch and hear all that is going on. But, somehow in the middle of all that stuff, I’m still encouraged because I’m seeing that the very things that God said would happen, will happen! I think we’re seeing a time when the terrible and the glorious intensely challenge each other daily, seemingly an increase in the battle of kingdom against Kingdom.
Jesus taught he had come unto the house of Israel, offered himself up, placed himself in their hands and the result was the death of the Messiah. They flat-out rejected Him, ‘big time’. In Acts 28:26, Paul writes (quoting Isaiah), ‘…hearing you shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing you see and do not perceive’. Within seventy years of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, the house of Israel was scattered. I’ve always believed that just as the House of Israel rejected Him at that time, so the world would reject Him this time. Then the end would come. What happened to Christ by His chosen people is now on track to happen to Him again, this time by the whole world. (Obviously that doesn’t mean every one in the world, but the world as a secular system) As that happens, I believe Christians can experience a more glorious experience right in the middle of the terrible. While all will take place just as Christ predicted, He encouraged us not to ‘wring our hands’ and not to let our hearts be troubled about what we might see and hear. That’s not to say that we should not try and do everything we can to expand the message of God, this Gospel of Good News. We should do as much as we can. We can remain faithful and active. We should do that with the knowledge that if things don’t go exactly as we had hoped in the newscast today, we will not be discouraged. Because of our trust and the knowledge we have of Him we can still praise Him and stand on a strong foundation of Faith.

I said all that to say something somewhat unrelated to that subject, however. I’ve always felt that the end game will contain a very important feature…Worship! I’m convinced that our salvation permits us to do something we could not do before we were made alive unto God: we can worship. I know we’ve been trying our best, but I imagine a future with a greater worship. One that is so heart-felt that we will need it daily. It may not be a worship that harmonizes our voices and the words we use may not rhyme. It won’t be an obligatory worship, not a religious expression. It will not be motivated by any sense of God requiring it. It will be worship apart from serving God, but worship as a source of following the Spirit of God in our lives. We will find ourselves standing in the backyard, with hands raised, worshiping God before we go to Wal-Mart or the Post Office. Seeking Him more, depending upon Him more.

It’s interesting to me that in our Scripture the words for worship and service do not appear together in reference to The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Nineteen times they are joined together in the text but only when referring to worshiping or serving ‘other gods’. Actually, in Isaiah 1:13-14, God says, ‘bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination to Me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to me, I am weary to bear them.’ These were the very things required by God in the Old Testament of Israel, but they learned to do them without the heart. They were empty actions. All ‘other gods’ do not demand a heart attitude; they just want the simple action itself. They do not put a demand on the heart; they require only an action from the flesh. However, our God considers any action apart from the heart as meagerly. The hypocrites of Matthew 15 were doing all the fleshly worship, saying the right things, and teaching doctrine. However, Jesus accused them of worshiping in vain. In Hebrews, God says the ordinances of divine service required in the old covenant were worldly. Paul taught in Galatians four of the weak and beggarly observances of ‘days, and months, and times, and years’. Paul called that ‘will-worship’- a shadow of the Holy but not the Holy. There is a greater worship than worship we can attain in our flesh!

True worship doesn’t just take place in Tulsa or Jerusalem; true worship will take place in the Father! That’s what I believe is in store for us, that’s what we are coming to. Even as we see the world reject the Father and we see the calamity that comes with that, Believers will be able to enter into a more intense relationship with God. To worship in the Father is to worship near the Father. We will not ‘go to worship’; we will be aware of worship everywhere. In John four, Jesus holds a conversation with the Samaritan woman about worship. She thought that worship, as taught by Christ, was to take place on the traditional mountain of the Samaritan people or on the mountain of Jerusalem. Jesus said to her neither was correct because God is Spirit and those that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and Truth. We cannot worship in the flesh. We can get close to worship, but the fullness of worship will be Spirit and I expect more and more of that to appear as the pressure of this culture and the world collide with Truth.

This worship will not be an obligation; it will be a response so that we can communicate on an intimate level in order to live. A worship that’s not associated with ‘crawling’ but more correctly associated with ‘kissing the hand’. Our worship is akin to reverence rather than the humiliation of ‘other gods’ who force the bowing down. It is not driven by fear, but by respect and dependency on the Spirit of God to be a lamp unto our feet and guide us through this present darkness.

Well, I’ve made up my mind. No headlines, news releases, no Washington promises or failures will move me off my hope for the future. Jesus taught that as we see these things, not to be troubled; to take heart that He came that we might be over-comers. Every time the world moves further away from the Love of God, God presses in on the Church, or probably more correctly, the Church presses in on Him. I have days, days just like my friend mentioned above had, but most of the time I don’t let my mind be troubled. My heart is smarter than my mind and my heart knows a future that the world hears about but cannot understand and sees but cannot perceive.

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