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May Newsletter-Get Happy

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Happy is that people whose God is Jehovah… (Psalm 144:15)

Yep, were going to get happy this month.  We will do something we’ve never done before; we’re bringin’ in the funny lady: Chonda Pierce.  If you’re new to Faith, many of you might not recognize the name, but just wait a few days, then you will never forget Chonda.  She is part our celebration of Mother’s day on May 12th, performing in concert on Saturday night the 11th.  Scripturally, a merry heart (only possible through Christ), a smile, a laugh is like a medicine to us and you will get a good dose of that on that evening.  Geoff Moore will join Chonda to host the event.  He is one of the early artists in our concert series that caught the heart and imagination of our listeners and for many years held the record for number of concerts performed for WBVN—well, until some kid named Mark took that over.  It will be a great reunion with Geoff and a terrific introduction to Chonda.  Of course, I have a reason to ‘promo’ that event that’s not really about that event at all.  I want to go back to that Scripture about being happy.

We are a ministry of encouragement placed right in the middle of a world and culture that is not very encouraging at all.  Truth be told, if we all took off our ‘everything is great’ mask, dropped our ‘everything’s fine’ line, it seems everyone has some kind of trouble to deal with.  Had a conversation with a friend the other day and his statement was to the effect that he’d forgotten how it was not to worry or hurry about something all day long.  We have calendars and watches to tell when and where we should go, phones that do the same plus they talk to us moment to moment.  Facebook is watching and seems to be interested in everything you think or are doing.  How many emails do you get each day? Plus internet, TV and you can twitter if you must!

So, how are we to be glad as the Word of God suggests believers should be?  We find part of that answer in Psalm 4.  Contrary to what we think, the true source of gladness is not in our increase, not in what we have in our home, not in what we put in the bank, but gladness is contained within hearts.  I know it seems trite to say such things, but God says such things.  The 146th Psalm declares that gladness is to be found in knowing the God of Jacob and knowing He is our help.  True gladness, or the more spiritual Joy, is not to be had by controlling everyone and everything in our lives.  It’s not obtained with endless, incessant labor on our part.  Psalm 127 reaffirms that we labor in vain unless Jehovah builds the house, going further to suggest it’s vain to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for He gives His beloved sleep (Rest).  Gladness is not obtained by our pain or sorrow but is simply the fruit of knowing Him.  Adam and Abraham were both given gifts while they were helpless, unable to do anything for themselves; they were both asleep.  Can we get to a Rest where God does what we can’t and we have the confidence that He will do just that?  Scripture says happy: is the man whom God corrects, is the man that finds Wisdom, is the man who has Mercy, is the man who trusts God.

Jesus gave us instruction on how to overcome.  John writes of a time when many of the disciples deserted him (John 6:66), times his brethren did not believe (John 7:5).  Jesus was thought to have been ‘beside himself’ (Matthew 3:31).  He was rejected as a glutton and drunkard and at the same time his miracles were fruitless.  In all these, he found Rest in submission and resignation to the Father’s Will.  ‘At that time’, a specific time, a time when the disciples were weary and heavy laden with burdens, Jesus’ words are to ‘come unto me all you that pressed and I will give you Rest for your souls (mind, will and emotions).  Jesus was not offering a Rest that would come from simply ‘tipping our hat’ as an acknowledgement that he exists, but a Rest that comes from his invitation to ‘be His’.  (One of the wonderful things Jane and I discovered during the GBS incident in her life this last year is that as the pressure intensified the ‘complete Peace’ increased in both our lives.)

Many times, in the original Hebrew text, in an attempt to emphasize the point to the highest degree possible, the Spirit of God had the inspired writers to repeat a word twice.  In Isaiah 26:3, the original Hebrew language literally reads God will keep us in ‘perfect Peace Peace’ whose mind is stayed on Him.  The emphasis is to suggest that God will keep us in much Peace-great Peace, or more accurately, a complete Peace.  Need some of that?  Jeremiah chapter 6 speaks of a kind of peace spoken of by the prophets but the truth was there was no Peace.  Isaiah’s Peace in contrast was one that would pass all understanding even in a time of great trouble.

While Adam and Abraham had a sleep imposed on them, we must choose our Rest to be glad!  And, while we cannot be isolated from trouble, the Rest of God can insulate us in our hearts and minds even in trouble.  Recently, my mother buried a son; my sister and I buried a brother.  The most impressive symbol of that day, the most impressive moment was while I was welcoming people in the visiting line, I turned and looking back at the casket, there stood my 90 year old mother, a smile on her face and greetings in her heart for all that came.  She stood at the head of the casket for an hour and half, never faltering, never sighing, and made sure people knew how much it meant to her for them to come, how much she loved each one.  Hers was not a simple calmness but a strong tower of Faith because she knows the God of Jacob.  I will always remember that day and her Peace and Strength beyond understanding because her God is Jehovah.  Shalom! Shalom!

Mark Schultz, Aaron Shust & Jonny Diaz

Posted on by Laura Posted in Concert Photos | Leave a comment

April Newsletter-Accepted, Believe, Change.

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Has everyone discovered by now that we’re pretty ‘lame’ excuses for living the Life that Christ describes for us?  You know the one, a Faith/Life that’s so impressive it ‘inspires’ our Father into action on our behalf. After years of trying to be our own salvation, of running ‘the Race’ using only our own ability to relate to God has left us gasping for a breather.  I’ve migrated a bit on the word Faith over the years.  I’m not diminishing its necessity and importance for us individually. I’ve just grown a little more comfortable sharing in a partnership with Christ and His Faith playing a role in our learning to Trust in Him. I’m not trying to master my own Faith every minute of every day, but I recognize the partnership of Faith that’s available to believers.  It’s Faith that has Christ as a constant companion.  His Faith shores up my faith.  A Faith mingled with the Faith of Christ (His part) and a Faith in Christ (my part).

For many years, my advice for new believers is to read the Bible starting with Paul’s New Testament letters.  Read Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, the two Timothy’s, and Galatians rather than starting in Genesis and reading straight through.  I do not desire to diminish the Old Testament, not to do away with it in any way, but the finished work of Christ is found in Paul’s revelation of Christ in those later passages.  Much of the time, we subject our teachings and Faith found in the New Testament to our findings in the Old.  And, (while I’m aware of getting slammed here) I think the priority should be that we subject the Old Testament teachings in the Light of the New.  In the New, we find that His Light has come and God’s plan and purpose is, for the first time, fully revealed.  The New, and specifically, Paul’s discipleship, put a period at the end of the God’s Gospel sentence.  Jesus came to reveal the hidden Gospel found in the Old Testament; Paul came to reveal Christ and His finished work in the New.  Paul is the final paragraph of a long Testament of God working from Genesis through today.  For 15 years Paul was taught by the Holy Spirit of God before ever opening his mouth about the Gospel, thunderously having been chosen by Christ and toppled from being the chief Hebrew and becoming the ‘chief’ spokesman for a risen Christ.  Paul had the weight of expressing the Mystery of Christ to a new Church and the sanctification (being set apart) to do so by the witness of God, he having been empowered on the road to Damascus.  (Saul, who was on his way to Damascus to gather up believers, was to bring them back to Jerusalem for imprisonment.)

If I could encourage you in one thing, it would be to relax and embrace the Love of God.  Christ continues to reach out, to offer His Peace and Joy, His Rest.  The world continues its thing, to reject that Reconciliation.  That rejection is called the spirit of anti-Christ and has a universal presence around the world.  It wears different masks to sell the Lie in order to hide itself and from being obvious.  Sadly, many today continue to hope in a fleshly attempt at self righteousness to relate to The Father.  Ravi Zacharias puts it this way (I paraphrase): many believe Christ came to make bad men good when in actuality Christ came to make men alive.  We can easily convert our Faith into arguments of ethics and morality rather than a belief in Christ.  All religions are caught up in making bad men good, determined by their unique definition of what is good and moral.  How’s that working for us?  However, believing in the Faithfulness and Trustworthiness of Christ brings us Peace and Rest, putting all our hope and faith in the life and actions of Jesus as a substitute for us, a victorious ransom for our ‘lameness’.

For the most part, doing this Gospel any other way than depending and coming to Christ as our source of Life dooms us, forces us to find some other way to fix our lameness ourselves.  We try fixing our Faith by increasing our intensity in things that we do to please God.  Doing so, trusting in our own ability to forge a relationship with Christ, only reflects back on our lack of Faith in Him to have already done that reconciliation.  Doing so leaves us little choice but to spend our time mustering up our Faith through religious performances.  That sentences us to a belief in ourselves, in our abilities, in what we do and in what we don’t do.  That is, we rely on our own efforts and expression to relate to God.  The Truth: Christ is our Sabbath; we will find Rest in Him, at least as much Rest as we will permit.  The Fruit of the Spirit should be evident when the Spirit rules.  We learn that our Righteousness comes from His Faith for all those that believe (Rom. 3:22).  Gal. 2:16 says that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through Faith of Christ Jesus, even we who have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by the Faith of Christ. (Check out Galatians 2:20 and 3:22, Ephesians 3:12 and Philippians 3:9)

I have one more limb to climb out on.  I once heard a Bible teacher say that the Gospel is subtraction, not addition.  I had to think about that a minute, well actually months.  But I’ve become more comfortable with that idea.  The world loads us down with pride, self-interest, and independence. Religion loads us down with performance and guilt.  We need to subtract some of that from our lives if we are to live free.  If we believe we’ve been given ‘the’ measure of Faith as a gift from God; believing (as Abraham did) is after all Faith!  Scripture says that we are complete in Him. We can, if we’re not careful, create a great mystery out of the Gospel message.  Assuming in our hearts that God intended only a few of us to figure it out, and He only finds pleasure when someone gets it.  In actuality, we should know that God’s desire is that all would be saved and come to the knowledge of Christ.  We can, if we are not careful, search and ‘never come to the knowledge’ of the Gospel. We can ever learn and never come to the Truth. Christ Jesus is Truth. The only Mystery to be found in the Gospel is Paul’s Christ.  Hidden until the appropriate time and appropriate place; revealed at just the right time and place.  It’s that knowledge, knowing Him for Who He is, that’s required.  I think it’s appropriate to memorize Scripture, terrific to study day and night, but if those do not lead to a simple relationship with the character and heart of God’s Spirit they are in vain. I believe we should all live a righteous life and do the things of God, but unless our righteousness exceeds the righteousness of those found in Matthew Chapter 5, we stand condemned.  We come to Christ with a child-like belief, that is, a simple trust in Him, a confidence in His relationship with the Father and Holy Spirit– a relationship that we have been adopted into in order to be a part of.  Our confidence comes from believing that everything He said about that relationship is true.  That we are Holy because He is Holy; we believe that He would never leave us, He does not condemn but saves, that the work we are to accomplish is to believe and be blessed by having believed in Him.  The Gospel is not adding more and more to our lives to find a holy mountain top, that’s what all religions promise.  Our God came down from the mountain and lives with us.  Our Gospel is simply Christ, and our Faith in Him, and His Faith in the Covenant between Him and the Father and Spirit.  Let me summarize with this short comparison:

“Change…Believe…Accepted”——-“Accepted…Believe…Change”

Which is our Gospel?

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