January 8th, 1990, was the very first day of broadcast for WBVN. Now, some 17 years later I’m sitting at my desk from a new studio location, amazingly, looking out the window at the front of the Marion Cultural & Civic Center. We have just completed our 108th concert. It, the NewSong Rescue Tour, is still wrapped around my mind. It’s funny how one moment in time can be so imprinted on our brain. Sometimes I can be talking to friends about the NewSong concert and feel the same emotions as I felt that November night. Joy comes to mind when I think back to that night. I purposely capitalized Joy because I think it was the Joy that only God can bring as opposed to the type of momentary happy the secular can give. That Joy lingers, stays awhile and is part of the fruit-bearing of this ministry. I was talking to a friend about it and speculated with him that the reason I think that concert, or any of our concerts, are that terrific is because we get to work with people in a unique way at those events. Most of the time we are ‘soulish’ folks. We lead our lives being led by how we feel, what we see, or use ‘man-logic’ to assess every moment. In the concerts, I think we have a rare opportunity to be under the leadership of our spirits for a change. We kind of quit using our brains so much and find ourselves using our hearts more. It’s very attractive to do that. I watched the crowd when NewSong began to play and saw how much the people had such a good time from the very beginning. Then I saw a transformation when NewSong recognized that something special was happening. They began to ‘get into it’ with the crowd. It’s thrilling when that happens at our concerts. All of a sudden, you have the crowd responding to the band and the band responding to the crowd. That’s a special moment. That’s one heart, one mind, a unity of purpose and it’s a powerful combination. It maximizes the encouragement and love between believers at that moment in time, and I think it offers a glimpse into our future together.
WOW, starting year number 18! What a great testimony to the provision of God and the generosity of His believers. You know we started this ministry with simply a vision for encouraging Christians in our listening community. When we first started working on the effort to put WBVN on the air, it was a time that two large, national ministries had been getting a lot of negative press about their mistakes and failures. It was certainly not a time when people had a lot of confidence in ministry leadership. Having asked people’s opinion about starting a listener supported radio station, I remember the general feeling was that it was probably the worst time to try and do that. Imagine asking people to help us financially when so much had been printed and broadcast about the huge failures of those national ministries. However, our hearts were so broken for declaring the Gospel of Grace that we simply could not ignore our unction to share the Love of God. It had been such an important and life-changing part of our own lives. I’ve told people in the past, it was like being 10 months pregnant with that message and needing to ‘deliver’ what was on the inside to the outside of us. Truly, during that time, we were following our hearts rather than our heads.
We never had any idea WBVN would necessarily last so long. There has been no grand plan of how to program the station. We’ve just made that up as we went. We didn’t know how to raise funds but we knew we wanted to do it with integrity and modesty. We have never known what to do next in this ministry but God seems to always give us a ‘picture in our hearts’ of the next thing to bring to the community of believers. I’m working on events all the way into the fall of 2008, all with the expectation that they will be meaningful and encouraging to the people who attend.
We feel that we simply ‘follow the cloud by day and the fire by night’. It’s a daily prayer of ours that we permit the Spirit of God to accomplish something through us. We have no doctrine to force on folks, not even a new tradition to establish. Actually the possibility of being profound for our listeners is indirectly proportional to how little a role we individually play. The less we are in control, the larger role the Spirit of God can play in leading ministry through WBVN. That vision for the future is interesting to me. It doesn’t come because we are perfect or super spiritual people. (Just ask my wife.) It is in some way in spite of us, not because of us. Our vision seems to come because we are yielded to it; our heart-attitudes are available for it. It seems to be given from moment to moment. We wake up each morning expecting God to show us the next step, not having already determined what we will do each day, but believing He will guide us in ministry each day. While it doesn’t really change very much at all, it still has motion to it. It’s like green always being green, but still having the ability to be olive, forest or lime but still be green. Much of the time, it surprises even me what we get to share with our listeners. I didn’t think that we would be bringing in the concert we are preparing for in March. Yet, once that vision came alive in us, and I think it is alive because God gifts that to us, I’ve already started living that moment with all our listeners. It has been placed in our hearts for your sake. It’s a part of how He wishes to bless WBVN listeners. This month Mark Schultz will be here, in February one of the founding artist in CCM, Randy Stonehill and a new artist with extraordinary talent. March brings us true Contemporary Worship and April leaves me speechless that we even have the opportunity for that event. All are very different and offer unique opportunities for believers to experience a touch of God. There will be some tears, some laughter, a little amazement and stories and songs to affirm our Faith. I’m stunned by the opportunity this small radio station has to have such talent and stories to share.
It is a great relief for us to know our purpose and to know the simplicity of God’s will for this ministry. We have never had imaginations to grow for growth sake, never been preoccupied with success, as if through that we would prove anything about God. We are here simply to ‘paint a picture of the Love of God’ using music and gathering together for the edification of the Gospel. To bring together artist and musicians to sing hymns and psalms about the Grace of God. A friend commented to me the other day that he no longer could distinguish between the ministry he heard over the radio and the ministry he experienced at the concerts. That excited me because that has been a prayer of ours for 17 years now! A ministry that no matter what it does is known for doing it for the right reasons and people finding it valuable in their lives. Hope to see you often in 2008…! God Bless and Thanks for 17 wonderful years.
I remember it was snowing. It was on December 14th, and for the sake of harmony at home, let’s just say it was some years back. That night I asked Jane Ann to marry me. It was a proposal that she could have chosen to say yes to, or just as easily to have said no. I chose her to share life with, to provide for her. I asked her to be a life-long companion, to share children with me: to simply be my bride. I know now that she ‘completed’ me in some sense of that word; that her being my bride added some texture to each of our lives. That union produced a life that became unique and could not have been experienced without the partnership between both of us.
Somewhere in a timeless place, God declared a Bride for Himself. He chose you and me (actually all who would accept His proposal) to share His life with, for re-birth, to provide for and to be a companion with. Whosoever says yes to that offer of marriage will partnership with God! God delights in His Bride. He values her so much that He was born into the earth and suffered a traumatic, terrible death just so He could have that partnership with her (you and me). His desire for someone to care for, someone to love unconditionally, prompted a wedding proposal to us all. When I asked Jane Ann, I could not stand being quiet anymore about it. I was consumed with it. I had to ask. I needed to get an answer that badly! I believe that in God’s proposal He could not help Himself. It was an inner necessity for Him.
Why? Because He is not simply a God of theology and logic; He’s more than a religious idol. He is a God having eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart filled with compassion. Because God is Love, He needed, in the most desperate way, to have an object of Love. In His Word, He has declared that God’s kind of Love is patient, kind, is not arrogant. God’s kind of Love toward us does not seek anything for Himself, it is not provoked by our weakness, and He forgives. His Love for His Bride bears all things, He believes in us, hopes all things good about us and, most importantly, He endures with us.
A few years ago, one of the early CCM artists sang a song that I remember each Christmas. David Meece’s single “We Are The Reason” describes the true purpose for the season we are about to celebrate. We are the reason for Christmas. He was born on Christmas Day for your sake, not for His.
As little children we would dream of Christmas morn
Of all the gifts and toys we knew we’d find
But we never realized a baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives.
We were the reason that He gave His life
We were the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live.
All His attention was on the opportunity to make a proposal for all of us to be His Bride. We celebrate the birth of Christ because it was a humbling, suffering experience for the Creator of the Universe to chase after us. The God of Abraham is the only deity to pursue His creation rather than His creation pursuing Him. That’s what makes God’s kind of Love so different than all the man-made gods. I’ve never heard it said better than in a song lyric from Rich Mullins that I’ve over-used. But it has had such an impact on my life.
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy I cannot find in my own.
And He keeps His fire burning to melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning, keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless, raging fury that they call the Love of God.
Oh yeah, one last thing. The ring. Well God gives us His Spirit, places it on us, actually in us, and seals the deal! That’s the engagement symbol the world should see on us. That’s a better deal than the little old rock Jane Ann got.
From all of us at WBVN. to you and your family, Merry Christmas! Remember the center of the universe pinpoints to a moment in time when God entered the earth looking just for you, looking to make you the offer of a lifetime…so that we could be glad to have been caught in the raging fury we call the Love of God.