At the beginning of each year, in anticipation of the next, I think about not just one thing, but many things come to mind. Of course, being an expert on none of the things I think about leaves me with the comfort that no matter what I think, I won’t be asked my opinion about most of them and I won’t be responsible for the “way the world turns out.” But I think about “things” just the same. So here goes my, in no particular order, “things” I’ve been thinking about this month.
Terror! Oh, I know everybody’s thinking about it, but I was watching The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers over the holidays and just noticed the similarity between the choices in the fiction and the real choices America (and really the world) faces today. We have many of the same options that Middle Earth had. King Theoden was for running off to the next fortress instead of facing the problems head on. His allies, Aragorn, Gandalf, and the others (Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin) were for more of a direct confrontation with the “Orcs”…taking it to them you might say. Much like that “King of Rohan” of fiction, we can tempted by “man-wisdom.” It stands in contrast to Godly-wisdom much of the time and seems to run to a temporary comfort rather than a future good. “Man-wisdom” tends to hide and hope that trouble goes away. Maybe the terrorists will get bored with terror and just pack up their bags and go home. Maybe their “fanaticism” will wane and they’ll decide to give up “their life of crime.” Maybe they’ll take up gardening as a hobby. I suppose, with a little “man-wisdom,” you could think terror will go away by simply boycotting it. It is so ironic that a peaceful people choose to “fight a war on terror,” but sometimes to preserve the peace we will experience “fighting” in the defense of it.
Light is much more powerful than darkness! I remember going to Mammoth Cave several times as our daughters were growing up. Each time our tour guides always did the same thing inside the cave. They turned off all the lamps and just let us, and 50 other people, set in the dark. I mean really dark! Pitch Black! Not the dark that we’re accustomed to, dark influenced by starlight, streetlights or the moon to brighten the evenings. Then the guide would light a candle and the whole room was brightened. WE could see everyone and everything with only that candlelight! It was very impressive moment and illustrates a likeness to the “Light of the World.” Just a little Light illuminates the place where It is present, no matter how dark it is! Now, you can’t say that about darkness. Try taking a little darkness into a room that’s lit. That darkness just can’t dispel the light. Darkness is less powerful than Light! As America (and our friends) tries to make a difference in the world, we need to support this effort to dispel “this present darkness.” We shouldn’t grow “weary of doing good.” Even if we’re small in number, the “goodness” of our cause is stronger than terror. As lonely and as criticized as we are, we must do the right thing to have any chance of bringing the Light to the dark “cave” we all live in. It can be tough, it can be unpopular, it can be dangerous, and it can be tiring, but I think the effort is important. So terror is one of the things I’ve been thinking about.
I’ve been thinking about people a lot lately. I’m concerned about Christians’ lack of observing the emotional toll on people around them. While we all have different problems we face, there’s universality to much of what I see. It seems that all people are “stressed” at some level. It reminds me of a teaching we broadcast by Bill Gillham a few years ago. The Gillhams had a program on WBVN called Lifetime Guarantee. One of the subjects dealt with our emotional condition and how we can get “bent out of shape” so easily and stay there! While being confronted by stressful situations, our “feelers” go to “10” on a scale of “1 to 10.” Bill illustrated how our “feeler” (our emotional well being) gets stuck. The needle on his “feeler meter” gets buried at the highest mark. Bill put it like this, using the threat of a bear on a camping trip as motivator, “Bears eat meat, you are meat; running is an option, but bears can run faster than people. However, you could be running while generating more options; climbing a tree’s no good, since he’d just eat you in the treetop. Then you see a cabin in the woods and you dart into the cabin.” Your feeler is doing one thing and one thing only: it’s generating an emotion we all call FEAR! And even after you reach the safety of the cabin (a cabin made of logs, bolted together; built like a fort!) your emotions are stuck on 10! The problem is you don’t know you’re safe. Even though you are safely inside the cabin, as the bear tears at the wall and raises all kinds of havoc, your “feeler” still remembers thinking “bears eat meat, I am meat!” Every stimulus just peaks the needle even more. If fact, if you don’t watch out, you might be perfectly safe but die of a heart attack because you don’t benefit from your safety. If you benefited from your safety you could do the next thing, believe your safe and trust! That’s were we are today! Stressed and forgetting our safety in Christ. In this time, in the condition we find ourselves in, we need to “lean in on God”.
The (1) terror, (2) the pressure of the culture, (3) the difficulty in relationships, and (4) the distractions of this world have established a lot of us at a level “10” and we’re stuck there! We get accustomed to that “10” feeling and forget how to get the meter down in the lower levels. We need to be aware of the emotional “meter reading” of others. We live in a time when any thing said casually, carelessly, could get a big reaction from our friends and family. Even when there’s no threat there at all, people can feel threatened. We stay in that “9 to 10” range. If we’re not careful we’ll assume that “10’s” are natural feelings to stay at. Ten’s become the norm! Because of all the stress, it doesn’t take much to bury the needle. We need to be more observant of the world around us and understand the environment people live in and how that affects their emotional responses. We all need to be more careful. People are at “10’s” all over the place, and as believers, as spiritual people, we need to recognize and interpret the condition of the world we live in and apply the Gospel attitude with care and knowledge. Well, that’s the second thing I’ve been thinking about.
Next, as we begin our 16th year in broadcast ministry I’m thinking “beginnings.” Actually our beginning. How close are we to the original purpose we began with in 1990? Are we still relevant today? How do we begin to increase the amount of ministry in direct proportion with the increased need of believers for encouragement? Relevancy is an important factor for ministry. Fifteen years of CCM and 89 WBVN concerts and still going is a great testimony for us, but is the radio ministry still valuable to people who listen. I did a little research and found that CCM is the fastest growing “genre” in America. Four out of 10 adults listen to Christian Radio each week, that’s 75 to 80 million people per week. Amazingly, one-third of Christian radio listeners do not claim to be born again! Thirty-two percent of the listeners are college students. Seventeen percent of adults that do not attend a church or are not affiliated with a denomination listen regularly. Thirty-eight percent of the “Baby Boomers” listen. Importantly, Christian Radio gives “life-style” stewardship and expresses “core-values” at a time when most broadcast media want this country to live “above God” not live “under God.” WBVN’s not just entertainment; its more than that. We have about 15,000 people that tune in each week and WBVN ranks in the middle of all broadcasters (secular and Christian) in this listening area. Those facts encourage us of our relevancy. They encourage us to continue to encourage you.
Lastly, I’ve been thinking about this quote because it was the most encouraging quote I read in 2004. It’s from Dwight Lyman Moody, and in the times we live in, it offers some comfort to Believers. “Someday you will read in the papers that Moody is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I was born of the flesh in 1837; I was born of the Spirit in 1855. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit shall live forever.” I really don’t have much to add to that. In this time of trouble, almost a “Jacob’s trouble”, to know this one truth encourages me. Terrorists and bears are not much of a threat to people that believe like Moody. This life’s pressure is only a moment in the time and as believers we’re “timeless.” No thing can separate us from the Love of God; nothing set against us can destroy what is eternal. God Bless and we look forward to being an “Encourager” for the Body of Christ for year number 16…