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Newsletters

The Gospel

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also you have received and wherein you stand; by which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:1-4)

After any Celebration it always “dawns” on me what a serious thing we do there and at the same time how much we tease and kid around with one another over those three days; however, we are well aware that really important things happen during our fundraising. We get a little caught up in being “cheerful givers” I suppose, but there’s a lot of serious reflection done during those times as well. During those three days, we get to share the Gospel with our listeners and I’m always “impressed” by the universal belief all of us in the studio have about the Love of God and the “over-whelming” power and meaningfulness of our experience over the years as Believers.

I always come away from Celebrations “re-filled” with a new sensitivity and re-newed hope after talking about the Father so often during those three days. It also “re-freshes” some of the “why we came to share the Gospel in this specific way” over WBVN. We’ve been encouraged in the scripture “not to be ashamed of the Gospel.” We’ve always expressed to people that scripture doesn’t have anything to do with “blushing” about the Gospel; rather, we are aware of the need to not be ashamed to rely on it and it alone as the cornerstone of our Christian Faith. The simple Gospel is the starting point of understanding all of God’s purpose and the rest of His Word.

Many times I think it helps to remember what the Gospel is not so we discover what the Gospel really is. For me, it’s not easy enough just to say that the Bible is the Gospel. The Bible is the Word of God but it contains a great deal of information that is not specifically the Gospel. All the things revealed in the Bible are truly stated about the Gospel but the specific Gospel message itself is to be “found” in the Bible by “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” By rightly “dividing” we discover there’s only one Gospel and there’s not any contradictions; contradictions that sometimes appear “among” the Gospel.

Firstly, the Gospel means “good tiding” or good news and it truly is good news for sinner and Believer alike! Found with the Gospel are many messages telling how we can live and how we should behave. But, no one has been able to “live right yet,” so that can’t be the Gospel in itself. If behaving all the time was possible surely some man, someone would be able to be “right” all the time; however, we know from scripture that “No! Not one” is able to do that, for all have sinned. The Ten Commandments tell us a great deal about what it would take to be “self-righteous,” but can live them? Who is not guilty of them? In fact self-righteousness is the exact opposite of the Gospel. The prophet Isaiah specifically enlightens us that our righteousness, if perfect, would be as filthy rags to God. No, the Law cannot contain all that is about the Gospel. In fact, according to Paul the Law was given to show offense, to reveal our very need of the Gospel.

Logically, if just following the Law of God was what was required, we could all repent, obey the Law and not need a Christ. That promise to do better in the future is not the Gospel in itself because the Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, but rather is Good News to be delivered. Surely, there are “religions” that offer more discipline and rules than Christianity. Ours is not the most constraining or most difficult to follow! However, there are university studies of Comparative Religions that show, for the most part, all religions are very much alike. Common to all is the effort to make all men earn their own way, “provide for their own salvation” if you will. They may vary the rules but all make rules to find favor with God, or god, and save their own souls and make their own way to God. The only comparison to be made between religion and the Gospel is the stark contrast between earning our own way and the Word of God, which shows us that God has already made a paid the way for us. Certainly, we can do no better than Nicodemus, only the Spirit of God can give us acceptance with the Father. We are powerless to do that in ourselves. The Spirit of God does that for us not our improved behavior. Culture and education do not change people’s hearts, only the Spirit of God found in the Gospel of God can do that.

The universality of religion proves no man could have thought of something so unique as the Gospel. Imagine another religion that suggests that God sent His one and only to make sinners righteousness. God is careful to let us know that His Gospel can’t be mixed with any law or ordinance. He paid too much of a price for it to be part God and part man. If we don’t exalt Jesus in what we say about this Grace, we don’t talk of the Gospel. It’s His and His alone to supply. The Gospel is linked to nothing else but Christ! It leaves no room for human merit! In fact it is not only not “by merit,” but is strongly opposed to “merit.” Merit cannot be mixed with faith and the gift of Righteousness to yield the Gospel. If it could, it would no longer be Grace!

I love the writings of Paul. (My suggestion for new believers is start with the book of Colossians, reading Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Hebrews (in that order) in order to build a foundation of teaching about the Gospel as expressed by the Apostle given the Gospel message to the Gentiles. For the most part, if we misunderstand these scriptures we will probably misunderstand the rest.) For most of Paul’s adult life he had hated Christ and his followers; however, on the road to Damascus Paul was changed by Someone. Someone he considered dead and buried. From that moment on Paul fully expected the same thing to happen to anyone who would “hear Him.” From Damascus on, Paul believed that Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead. The Gospel first revealed in Eden, in the Tabernacle, in the Temple and in Isaiah’s “he was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement of our peace was upon Him…” David proclaimed that same Gospel in Psalm 32. Jeremiah called him the “Lord of Righteousness.”

The Gospel is a Person. We are to remember that it’s always linked to Christ Jesus. It’s more powerful than Law. It’s mixed with no other portion (leaven) or the whole portion is ruined. It’s available from only on source. Believe in Christ. We must permit the Cross and the Resurrection to be large in our lives. We have to give up on any thought of ever being “good enough” in ourselves, only relying on gifts or Holiness and Righteousness. We need to yield to the Grace of God and accept access to God only through the blood of One. It’s only that Gospel that we have to put our trust in, our faith in. We can trust in nothing else. Accept what Jesus did through God and what God did through Jesus. It’s Their covenant we enter into, not our own. The Father and the Son have set the rules. No man could have thought of it, no religion can provide it. They have the whole deal in one life, in one death. We enter into their Grace, not by our ability, but by the ability of the Gospel of Peace and the Gospel of Grace to offer that to us. This Gospel is so profoundly “un-religious” it could only have been imaged by God. It is so powerful it could only be worthy of the Creator’s hand.

Cheerful Giving

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

WBVN Listeners:
Thank You! The pledge forms have been “stowed away” for another six months. The tally sheets’ information has been entered into the computer and now is being ceremoniously retired. Volunteers have gone back to their daily routines, the phones are napping once again, Cindy has carried off the snacks, and the total gifts for this Celebration have again blessed this ministry. Almost 300 contributors called during the Spring Celebration and about 75% of those were “new” donors to this ministry. We are very grateful for all the support and kind words shared during the three-day event.

I wanted to take one more opportunity share the ministry vision for funding WBVN. It is our understanding from Paul’s teachings that God has always funded ministry through the very people that received from the ministry. That’s the biblical pattern we have associated ourselves with for the past 15 years. We do Celebrations to permit the Spirit of God to “stir people’s hearts” and also to “celebrate” with our listeners the ministry they’ve provided over the past year. As you listen you can hear a “light-hearted” celebration and the joy of having had the chance to share the Grace of God over the years. We truly are very grateful for your help in providing that opportunity. We have a tendency to “marry” a joyful mood with a very serious and solemn activity, the activity of giving for the Gospel’s sake. It’s a sacred act when it’s motivated from the heart of a believer and initiated from God’s own prompting. Giving with a cheerful heart is “ground zero” for this ministry. It’s a central theme throughout the three days.

At the same time, we’re aware that each gift is something that some person, family, church or business is entrusting to us to “multiply” to thousands of other believers each day. We’re aware that each gift is a sacrifice by those people. We place a very great value on the “giver” of the gift, actually a higher value than the gift itself! For that reason we are very careful about how we express the motivation to give to WBVN. We don’t “do what ever it takes” to raise funds. We do not encourage listeners to give “until it hurts,” rather, we encourage people to experience the “life-style” of giving that yields blessing because it is the very foundation of the Christian life. Giving should be a natural way for Christian to live. Jesus taught the Word of Truth in a way that expressed a knowledge that it’s in giving that we will receive. He was very precise about the order of giving, obligating that action first. It’s a simple truth. As believers, we’ll always have to humble ourselves to that teaching to fully experience the fullness of the Christian life. However, if during our Celebrations we simply find a way to separate our listeners from their money, we have not encouraged a sacred, a holy thing. Ours is to offer the opportunity for the Spirit of God to create a “real desire” to give as a “holy action.” If that takes place during WBVN’s Celebration, two very important things take place at the same time. One, we will be funded sufficiently; second, believers will learn to experience the blessedness that follows being a generous giver, not just financially but the cheerfully part as well.

Thank you again for the kindnesses over the 15 years of this broadcast ministry. We’re aware that the funds you share with us are pledged in good faith and trust and we’re grateful for the opportunity your contributions give WBVN to share the Gospel with thousands of listeners each day. We believe you have a treasure hidden in your hearts that is the Spirit of God and it is a much more valuable treasure than the money Celebrations generate. And, while the gifts are vital and necessary, we value the relationship we have with our listeners more than the contributions that are given. At WBVN that “ground zero” is summed up in the following: “give as unto the Lord (Col 3:23) from each man whose heart prompts him to give (Exodus 25:2) because with perfect heart they offer willingly (1Chron. 29:9) and not only supplying the needs of God’s people, but also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God (2Cor. 9:12).

“Ivy”

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

My Dog Wants To Talk to Me!

That’s true. I’ve seen it! But, that’s not the place to begin. Ivy is her name and she just celebrated her first birthday with us. Ivy is our second Beagle. If you remember I did a newsletter a few years ago about our first Beagle, Jessie. I identified in that earlier letter how much Jessie meant to me. She was the first dog that had lived in the house and the first dog that, in some strange way, became a very real part of our family. She didn’t really do that much to be so “connected to us” but she “connected” just the same. As I recall, the whole purpose of that letter was to identify how much we all loved Jessie just because she was our dog. She certainly was not the only dog deserving of such love, but no other dog got the attention and the affection as much as Jessie did in our lives. I compared that love for that dog to the Love of God for “His” own, His family. A family made up of believers. That Love for us is justified only because we are His. It’s not because we deserve it, or earn it; it’s just because we’re His! His Grace grants it to us. (Galatians Chapter 3)

I really loved writing that letter. As I wrote it I discovered how deep, how wide and how high the love of Christ is for all “His children” that have accepted being chosen by Him. Just as we chose Jessie at the kennel, so the Creator of the Universe chose you and picked you out to be a part of His family. All the things Jessie needed (shelter, food and love) we provided. Jessie loved us as much as we loved her. Now as dogs go, she was a great dog and a dog that taught me a great lesson about God’s Love for His children.

Ivy, our second Beagle is the one that wants to talk to me. It was this past evening. I was fooling ’round with Ivy. I began to talk to her in the usual manner. You know the kind of talking that people do to dogs, cats and babies. You could just see it in her eyes. Pretty soon her head cocked a little off center and she began to move her mouth in such a way that I could just tell she wanted to talk to me, wanted to tell me how much she loved this game. I think she wanted to tell me how much she loved having this relationship with someone. Of course all she could do was take off running and jumping and twisting add wagging her tail (what in Beagle language is called a flag) at me. But I could see that desire to talk to me just the same. Towering over her, a picture went off in my head about the Father and our attempt to “talk to Him” and strong desire to listen. I was almost brought to tears thinking about how sad it would actually be if Ivy wanted so much to talk to me and not have a language to communicate with me. I was aware of the sadness I felt by not being able to let her know how much I appreciated and loved her desire to “talk to me. “

There’s a very rare simplicity in “dog and master love.” I really don’t do very much to cause Ivy to respond to me, to love me so. Oh, I feed her, give her water and take her outside. But, that’s about it. Actually, she could live without me, I suppose. It would be harder living without my love but she could do it. (We, too, can live without His love, but it’s not easy, not comfortable, not pleasant, and simply not the way it was meant to be.) For all the things I “don’t do” for Ivy, she still gets so excited when I get home each night. She’s devoted. Just like clockwork, Ivy meets me at the door each night and “just loves me to death.” It pleases me so to have that happen. It’s rare in this world that anyone is “unjustifiably happy” just to see someone else. It surely is the same way with the Father. I’m sure when we meet with Him he is overjoyed to have us so “giddy” to be with Him. What great pleasure He must get out of those moments.

Ivy’s “tickled” with any attention I give her; she goes “nuts” about it. She jumps high in the air, spins, twists and barks with an unusual vigor. (Reminds me of some Worship services I’ve attended over the years.) When you take the time to watch and notice her response, it almost brings tears to your eyes to be the benefactor of so much approval and love. How the Father must feel when we celebrate before Him.

My dog wants to talk to me! She really does. She wants to communicate so bad and be much more a part of the relationship. But you know the important thing? Ivy does all she can do to express her love for me. It’s an expression with limits. I’m sure in the scheme of all Creation, our expression to the Father is limited as well. However, just as I appreciate and recognize Ivy’s “limited” expression of love, the Father recognizes our expressions as well. While towering over her, my heart breaks observing her desire and her minimum ability to interact with me. She can’t “say what she wants to say” but I love “the desire to talk to me” just the same.

Dog ownership is “strange” in so many ways. It seems like an ancient idea, perhaps from the loneliness of some earlier time. I know that people that have never owned a dog that’s been apart of the family (in the house, eats with you, sleeps at your feet, runs to the door to meet you, does all kinds of tricks for just a pat on the head: that kind of being a part of the family) can’t really understand. They can’t “feel or appreciate” that relationship because they have never experienced that kind of relationship “with an animal.” When you tell people about it, they just kind of shrug their shoulders and think maybe that’s over the top just a little bit. But, there’s something we can learn from that experience. Not surprisingly, people feel the same way when they are unaware of a relationship with God. I mean they just can’t get it. It’s just not imaginable for them until it’s real to them. I didn’t get it about Jessie and Ivy until I got it! I didn’t get it about the Father until I got it! When we first picked up Jessie, you could never have made me believe I could care so much for a dog; that I could have experienced so much from a dog. After she died, I couldn’t wait to experience that “unconditional love” again. Jessie left an impression on my heart. Ivy continues that today. Our experience with the Father is much the same. Once experienced, you never want to give His unconditional Love up. What was not imaginable before that experience is now commonplace, normal and consistent. I’m glad we got a Beagle. Jessie taught me so much about the Love of God toward us. Ivy has taught me about our love toward God. I’m more aware of my limited and simple communication with God and just how pleased He is to see that expression just the same because “my dog wants to talk to me!”

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