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March Newsletter-God With Us

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I’m sitting here writing the newsletter and listening to our newscast at the same time. What I’m hearing reminds me of a “great weight” that all of us seem to have to carry.  What I’m hearing is certainly discouraging and, at times, it would seem to be more than we can bear.  I began to think about the difference between our Faith and all the religions in the world.  Our faith really has an odd suggestion when you stop and think about it.  Its difference is simplified in one word: Emmanuel, or God with us (and I might add, if He is, then it obligates us to be with or present with Him).  No other belief system offers such a suggestion. The Creator stepping down, mingling with His creation was so revolutionary it had never been dreamed of.  Even in our Old Testament, God came upon people only to leave again, and never to anyone except prophet, priest or king. But He never, ever dwelt inside people.  Now, with Christ things have changed.

MarchAnd just as radical, we’re to believe that out in the middle of the desert the Creator of the whole cosmos made personal contact with a man (Abraham) and in that contact He has offered “His Righteousness as a free gift”!   And then, just about the time the early church got the “Spirit-filled” thing off the ground at Pentecost, here comes another hard pill to swallow: the idea of an inclusive Grace of God. And to make it even worse, this Grace is declared by some guy that used to be called Saul, but for some reason changed his name to Paul.  And He starts bringing Gentiles into the group! In Saul’s clique of friends it’s simply, ‘Forget about it’!  That’s just too much for “good old religious folks” to bear! After all, mythic gods and even the Jewish God had never, ever been portrayed as tightly knit with their followers and certainly never yielding to a grace fellowship with them. Greek gods were to amuse themselves with the tragedies of people’s lives.  They were to demand sacrifices, penance, servitude, be worshiped– and don’t forget a god’s part-time work of creating great fear among his or her people just to keep them in line.  In the Old Testament there was always separation implied, a God that arrived, did His Thing and moved on. That this good-God would declare Peace and a Rest for his subjects, those lousy bums?  I mean give me a break here! But, that’s exactly what we’re to believe if we believe in the work of Christ.

A Peace based on the Mercy and the Grace of God was hard for a people to accept, people that had used the Law of God as their agent of change in a person’s life. But now, Paul’s book of Romans was using a Greek word, charis, street language, meaning “unearned favor” and this man of God was using it to talk about the way God favored us. Then, like an Emeril cooking show, “bam!” the Word of God kicked it up a notch by making the case for favor that’s not only unearned but undeserved as well! That was too much! After all, the Pharisees had perfected the deserved “rewards” of God as the order of the day. How could those new Christians suggest such a thing as a merciful God, a God that we could literally call to intimately as Father?  A God we could pray to and He would hear us of all things?  Well that’s where we find ourselves.  By believing in Christ we move into fellowship with the Spirit. This is the one-line Gospel: ‘in that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I in you.’ (John 14:20)

The daily news should not spook us like quail hidden in tall grass. Instead we should hold our ground, trusting in both what Jesus did for us and also to us. We are His people, not a march1suggestion but a fact.  David identifies God as “my habitation.” He is “my Shepherd,” not just corporately, but individually. He never leaves or forsakes! He doesn’t rent a place temporarily and do ‘temp-work’ here; He paid a very expensive price to live with us!  We don’t have to call out to Heaven for intervention; we simply need to access our hearts. It’s not a ‘depends on His mood’ type of living in us. He does not travel between Heaven and Earth visiting our lives occasionally!  He is here.  And as hard as that is to wrap our heads around, the Scriptures of God declare it as fact, proclaim it as Truth.  It does not become true because we believe it; it’s True because He’s said it’s True, said that Jesus was the Truth.

I remember a Bible teacher illustrating “God inside us” with a story about playing tennis. If I wanted to learn to play tennis I could go to the store and purchase a tennis racket, get magazines about tennis. I might get books that explain tennis. I could get on the Internet and YouTube and see tennis. I could even buy a pair of white shorts, shirt and shoes especially designed to play tennis. I might go to Wimbledon to watch the experts play, could go so far as to hire a coach. After doing all that, I’d finally go to the court and try to play tennis only then to find out all that preparation was of no practical use because something “inside” me refuses to co-operate. My muscles don’t coordinate; I’m slow of foot and exhausted! However, what if my tennis coach could “step inside me”, inside my mind, nerves, muscles? Do you think that would make a difference in my game?  My part would be to quit playing tennis and let coach do it.  That coach didn’t teach me how to play tennis; he is how I play tennis. I would not be playing tennis in my own ability, but by resting in the one who is inside me, he plays tennis through me.  God in us does that for us if we permit through our trust.

Well, that’s the “story” we’ve been given to believe in. God in us, with us.   Amazingly He wants to be right there! When I listen to the news, look around at my world, and feel the weight I remember my “helplessness,” but much more importantly, I remember the “Helper.” I have no idea what I’m going to do about tomorrow but I trust God to live through me and anticipate living according to the ability He brings.  No other religion will offer such a miracle, offer such a remedy. Imagine a God that desires to be with us so much that He searched us out while we were still a mess, determined to do that before you and I existed, before anything existed.  Hoped for and provided a solution for our alienated minds by providing Jesus to make us able to have fellowship and relationship with God.  A God that made a mystery that must not be solved by trying to get to Him, but a God whose mystery is that He has come to us.  A God whose nature was to breathe Life into Adam and in His very next act literally ‘spoke’ to the creature.  A God who, rather than running the other way when His creation (Adam) blew it, ran toward us and promised not to leave us that way.   Colossians (1: 20-22): …having made Peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, whether they be things on earth or things in heaven.  And you, who were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you Holy and unblameable and unreprovable in His sight.  It’s kind of hard to “swallow” but that Saul/Paul fella seemed pretty convinced.  Maybe we should be as well.

February Newsletter-Stepping Into Creation

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We just celebrated our 25th anniversary. We started the radio broadcast on January 8, 1990. We ask you to join with us in our prayer of thanksgiving for all those years, and even more importantly, for all the hours of the relationships this ministry has experienced with its listeners. Those kinds of relationships can only be found in the ‘oneness’ of God. And while we may not know each other completely, we know each other by that Spirit that lives within us all. That’s what has united this radio station and you our listeners; a common heart for worship and praise to our common Father, Son and Spirit. You are welcome to join with us in our prayer and our anticipation of the future of the Gospel Message over FM 104.5:

Father, we thank you for stepping into your creation. Thank you for turning over every rock to search us out.
2-15-large_praying_handsThank you for knowing how earth smelled, knowing how it tastes, and knowing many times how it can hurt.
Thank you for knowing the pain of a scuffed knee.
Thank you for understanding how it feels to be rejected and betrayed, having been rejected by your closest, your own.
Thank you for having felt what it’s like to be misunderstood, to be falsely accused, and to know the pain of a broken heart.
Thank you for forgiving so much and loving so much more. Thank you for knowing the many reasons for our frustrations having experienced those moments yourself.
Thank you God for not looking at the many who would not accept your Grace and instead providing a Way for any who would say Yes.
You Lord have been tempted in all things just as we are and have been untouched by each. Thank you for stepping into our world and holding on to us, while at the same time, we are not very pleasant people to hold on to.
Father, we are so thankful that you cared enough to experience the world’s system and know exactly, not only, how we feel but knowing also how to heal us, that you loved us enough to do more than help us, but also deliver us.
Thank you for whispering in our ear when we fear. Thank You for meeting with us in those things we fear the most and make that a holy place because we met you there.
Thank you Father for not leaving us the way you found us.
Thank you for being abused, damaged and shunned on our behalf.
Father I pray that Your Kingdom live through us to others.

We recognize Your Peace, which sets us free to care, be brave, think of others and gives us the ability to love.
It’s amazing to us that You permit us to know You, and more amazing that You know us and accept us in Your most unusual way.
Father, thank You for permission to feel terrible sometimes and yet, because we truly believe, You help us through those feelings.
Thank you for not running away from your creation in the Garden of Eden but ran toward your creation. You did not give up on us. Actually, choosing to do something about us rather than lose us.
Thank you for your words of encouragement set in Your letter for us.
Thank you God for patiently waiting for us to change. Waiting for us to accept Your Love.
Thank you God for hearing us pray.
What a purposed and unchanging God you are.2-15-prayhands copy

Now Father, by your Spirit and because of your Son, move in us. We permit you to walk through our lives and disturb our worldly comfort and bring real Comfort, Real Peace. We pray that Your Words change our Invironment, our hearts, so that we might be able to stand against what comes against us to destroy the great price you have paid to simply be with us.
We are so grateful for the time, the blessings of having found each other through this thing we call WBVN. Amen.

We came in January 1990 knowing our listeners were special because of what they have inside, what’s been placed within you: the Spirit of Christ. That is a common genealogy with us all. And, I know this is hard to believe, but God thinks you’re special, just as you are. He died for the opportunity to have a caring relationship with you, truly an amazing grace! His promise is to fill the earth with Himself, that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is. It’s been fun and meaningful to have that happen for all of us for the past 25 years. Let’s do it again!2-15-Pray3

January Newsletter-John Galt

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“All that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; all that which destroys it is the evil… If existence on earth is your goal, you must choose your actions and values by the standard of that which is proper to man…  Since life requires a specific course of action, any other course will destroy it… Happiness is the successful state of life, pain is an agent of death.  But neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims…  Man is free to attempt to survive in any random manner, but he will perish unless he lives as his nature requires…”  – John Galt

While not a biblical quote, it seems a bit Bible!  God has given us a way to live, a way that Wisdom (the Father, the Son and the Spirit) inspired and placed in our hands to learn about Him and guide us to Life.  That quotation is from the novel Atlas Shrugged.  While it is not a biblical account of life, some of that book’s interpretations are associated with the nature of the men and women of God’s creation.  The quote is a portion of a speech by the novel’s hero, John Galt.  (Other biblical phrases seem to fall in place with it:  There is a way that seems right to man but the end thereof is death.  They loved the Darkness more than Light.)  I think the totality of the quotation is: There’s one way that leads us to Life and anything opposite, anything opposed to it, leads to death.  Since Adam, the world has chosen the things that work against us, things that bring death and not life, to glorify and hold up as causes and heroes.

Galt speaks of a ‘living death’ that lives within and around us.  It’s an existence only; a life without Life, and that’s not what our creation was purposed to be.  The Father’s Life is not a survival mode existence but an elevated Life, breathed into our hearts in order to experience Him, to know Him.  And, while our leaders pose as scientists and wise men trying to convince us of the opposite, trying to convince us we can live apart from God and deny His existence and still live a perfectly wonderful life, it’s a charade and a mockery of God.  It sets us, and especially our children, up for big time failures.  We are ‘free to attempt to survive in any random manner, but will perish unless (we) live as (our) nature requires.’  Our nature requires a relationship with the giver of Life!

Now, you would have thought that Jesus might have come in such a way, talked in such a way, that he would not have been misunderstood.  He might have done things, said things that would have removed any doubt about being King of Kings, right?  But if you examine the ‘nature’ of the Messiah’s ways they’re a bit upside down.  As such, after many of his miracles he either instructed people to go and tell no one, or he himself went away and isolated himself in prayer, away even from his closest followers.  Jesus came to his own, and his own did not receive him.  He was despised, he was the stone the builders rejected, he was accused of being an illegitimate child, accused of being demon possessed, and by Mark Chapter 3, his own family thinks he’s crazy.  Not such a good Messiah strategy it would seem.  I know what we would have done had we come to save the world.  We would have tried to figure out how to get on Fox, see if Leno was available, checked out Good Morning America.  We would have tried to prove that we were the Way, the Truth and the Life.  But, that’s not how Jesus approached his incarnation.  The Psalm says he would not raise his voice in the streets. (Isa. 42:2) He knew that the lasting part of the Gospel is only going to ‘stick’ if it’s a relationship by the Holy Spirit and not on power or personality.  The disciples witnessed so much, saw so much and still did not get it.  At the Last Supper he instructed them all to meet Him in Jerusalem after the crucifixion, not one did that.  Have you ever noticed at the feeding of the fishes and loaves how Jesus seemed to be reluctant to do that miracle?  The disciples practically had to pull it out of him.  His first response was to suggest they take all their monies and go buy food, finally giving in and simply telling them to pass around that picnic lunch to 5000.  By the time the basket reached the back row, Jesus was going away to pray.  Oh, I know what we would have had him do, stand up, take a nice applause, spot light what just happened and encourage people to go and tell everyone what they had seen.  Not this Messiah, not this heart of Love.  The Wisdom present in Jesus knew that people could not be talked into, or miracled into, believing who he was.  The only holding power would be the power created through their self discovery of who he was, not his persuading them to do so.  He was not selling the Gospel, he was the Gospel.

Paul calls the Gospel a mystery.  It wasn’t a mystery because Jesus didn’t reveal it, but because the people could not receive a Messiah, a King, that didn’t set up a palace and do magic shows.  Instead they got a Messiah that was talking of suffering and dying.  Remember the great Temptation.  You know Jesus could have done each and every thing Satan requested and proven to be Messiah.  But, the Wisdom of God knew full well that was not his purpose in coming.  His Kingdom was not an earthly one full of political power, but a spiritual one to dominate the earthly.  His Kingdom was a different one than what Messiah worshipers were looking for.  He resisted those that were always looking for physical signs and embraced that which was unseen. (By the way, did you notice he did every one of the things suggested at the Temptation later in his ministry?  He miraculously fed 5000, he placed himself on a cross and ‘fell’ to his death to be caught up and preserved by the Spirit, and having been raised from the dead finally placed at the right hand of God at the throne of God.)

Being the kind of creatures we are, we still want to see Him today, want to have Him appear and confirm our hopes.  That would suspend Faith/Trust– good for us, but not so much for the plan of God.  In His economy, we’re to see Him as present already, see Him with us, in us, and know the companionship of His Spirit. We’re to know a Kingdom that’s already come, a sphere of His reign already accessible to believers.

The way His plan went down was puzzling to me until something dropped down into my heart a while back: what He wants more than anything is ‘to be a Father to us’.  Yes, He’s a King, a Lord, a Savior; but even more, He wants to be our Father!  You know what fathers do.  They teach us.  My dad taught me to mow the lawn, hold a hammer, how to garden, how to drive, how to be (a pretty good I might add) squirrel hunter, taught me to be honest, to be fair, and in his way, to be courageous.  My dad did those things by being with me day by day.  He taught me what would work for me and what would not work in my life.  That’s what dads do, and God loves being a Dad to us.  He loves being a Companion, a Comforter, a Prince of our Peace and Joy.  He wants a personal relationship with you and me even more than He wants the relationship with a crowd of 5000. The followers wanted to install him as ruler, King of the Jews.  Jesus was uncomfortable with that, did not want to be a rock star.  He was more interested in Nicodemus at midnight or Phillip in a tree than he was in accumulating fans in a popularity contest.

It’s a mystery only because we have to be looking for, searching for Him.  But, He wants to be found.  His Wisdom says he who hungers and thirsts will be satisfied.  He’s able to meet with us each day.  Lead us, guide us, and secure us by the Spirit of God.  Our searching keeps us with Him, discovering Him and centered on Him.  He’s new every morning.  There’s always something fresh He wants to share with us.  He constantly transforms, converts, and reveals– that means we will never get done learning of Him.  Being with Him now means our Eternal Life has already begun, for He is with us!

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