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“Rushes”

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

WBVN Ministry Purpose
“A sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured it up. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth… because they had no root they withered away. Some fell among thorns; the thorns sprung up and choked them. Others fell into good ground and brought forth fruit, some a hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold…” (Matthew 13)

“Can the rush grow up without the mire?” That was Bildad the Shuhite’s question to Job in Chapter 8 verse 11. Bildad’s purpose for that question was to be revealed in a later verse (19), for “out of the earth others shall grow.” I remembered those words after recently being asked about the ministry that comes from WBVN. I’ve mentioned it before, it’s always hard to measure results of radio ministry, we have no direct data that identifies numbers saved, helped or encouraged in their Christian walk. Having ten to fifteen thousand people listen each week is the only measure we have of the opportunity to do ministry here. As I was thinking about describing our type of “ministering,” it occurred to me that most visual comparison was that WBVN is like a huge garden tiller. I’ll explain that later.

Back to the rushes. Bildad’s rushes were reeds that grew along the Nile River bank. Just to look at them, they would give no clue as to what a great benefit they were to that culture. However, they played a significant part in people’s daily lives and carried significant value because of their many uses. Papyrus reeds were woven and used for clothing, their roots were burned for warmth, the rushes were woven to make sails for their boats, the poor people had to eat the plant occasionally and rushes were crushed and made into papyrus paper. Moses used a reed and papyrus paper to write the first books of the Bible. The Egyptians advanced their culture because of their ability to write and pass down to the next generation. Simply, without those rushes we would have no books, no written history or literature from that period of time. Just as importantly, there would not have been any rushes without the “muck” in the bottom of the Nile River bank. That mire turned out to be pretty important stuff. It was located about 6 feet below the rushes. In its own way it was miracle stuff. It was a coagulation of dead things that produced life. Today it could be compared to the stuff you’ve felt between your toes if you have ever been brave enough to step out into a farm pond. It looks and smells terrible. Its dark, ugly stuff for sure, but without the mire the rush would not grow! Without the mire the rushes that benefited those people would not have been possible. That stuff under water, out of sight and seemingly insignificant, was the foundation to what was seen above the water. in the order of God, mire comes before reed! To have good reeds you gotta have good “muck.” It was that relationship between the plant and that murky soil that caught my imagination as I thought about ministry heard over WBVN. I think we’ve got something to do with that “mire stuff.”

The reason I compare the station to a “tiller” is that tillers are used to work the earth. Tillers take “plain old” dirt and make it into “soil;” Soil produces the plant life we see all around us. I don’t know if you have ever used a garden tiller, but what you start out with is nothing like what you end up with. What is hard as clay, full of clods, hard to walk on, with a little tilling, becomes this stuff you really enjoy walking bare-footed in. It changes the nature of the dirt into something useable and actually attractive and sweet to smell. Christian music and programming heard over FM 104.5 prepares the soil for our spiritual growth. Our prayer at WBVN is that once “worked, ” once the Christian community has been mixed with encouragement and faith, that apostolic ministry would follow, that teachers would come and plant seed, that pastors would care for and keep the ground clear of weeds and scare the birds away, that evangelists would inspire healings and baptisms. As we prepare a place for ministry to take place, our prayer is that the five-fold ministry will take hold and work the “garden” of believers. We chum the soil, mixing in CCM and Programming. We “shine” to warm it, till it to expose oxygen to the root and inspire growth. WBVN is one simple thing, a ministry of encouragement. It’s purposed to create an environment for growth. Soil needs to be loosened for the plants to grow, people need to be enriched with hope and love to bear fruit. If you throw seed on ground that has not been worked, if you toss watermelon seeds out on your lawn, you will get no fruit. We prepare a place for ministry to happen, but we are not the whole of ministry; we’re a part of the overall role of believers being a “work of God.”

There’s a difference between doing a “work” and working for God. An Old Testament illustration of this is found in the earliest scripture. Abel offered a lamb as a sacrifice while Cain offered what he had produced from the ground that was cursed. Cain’s offering symbolized a “work for God,” the work of his own labors and hands. The lamb embodied what God had done for mankind, God providing the sacrifice- Cain offered what he did, his religious work for God. God judged each for its approach to ministry. It hasn’t been based on earthly things, our abilities, or “gifting” but rooted in what we believe is His divine purpose for ministry using CCM. For us success can not be measured in financial terms but in the terms identified with the life of Noah, who did the work of God “according to all that God commanded him, so he did.” God establishes Visions in His church and each member is directed in ministry towards accomplishing that particular vision. If we do not make that vision our number one priority for functioning in ministry, then the thoughts and intents of our hearts are not God-ward but self-serving. When all ministries add their efforts together we get a “fullness” of ministry from churches, missions, Christian service ministries and yes, even broadcast ministries.

WBVN’s ministry purpose is to accomplish one thing really: to be a “help ministry” so that other ministry all around us can finish “the work of God” according to our generation, uniquely to this generation. Ministry through WBVN is the beginning of something rather than the end of something. Justas a garden full of “living things” begins with soil preparation, begins the “tiller,” “tilling” is the first thing that leads to many other things. We believe that “out of good soil others shall grow.” We’re a ministry that “sets the table” for the five–fold ministry to come and sow, tend and harvest. We prepare the environment, charge the environment, with potential for the miracles we call the Christian Life. With the partnership of our listeners for 14 years, we have invested in the preparation of our communities, that the Word of God will have a place to manifest and become relevant in believers’ lives. We spend 24 hours a day tilling the soil we have been given care of, and prepare for growth in our Christian experience. We thank all of you that have contributed to that and trust God to multiply the harvest. The Bible says of His return, “will He find us Faithful”… we are a ministry that tries to help encourage that in us.

God With Us

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

“God In Us!”
I’m sitting here writing the newsletter and listening to a newscast at the same time. What I’m hearing in the news reminds me of a “great weight” that all of us seem to have to carry a part of. Each day, because of the condition we find the world, it seems one more pound of worry can be added. What I’m hearing is truly discouraging and, at times, it would seem to be more than we can bear. The “terrible” news made me more aware of the great value of our Christian Faith in “this present darkness”. Feeling that “heaviness”, I began to think about the difference between our Faith and all the other religions in the world…all of them! Ours really has an odd suggestion when you stop and think about it. That difference is simplified in scripture to four words! “Receive ye the Spirit”. No other “belief system” offers such a suggestion. You can name all the religions the world over and you will get no hint of “God living in man” and you might even get thumbed on the head for even suggesting it in some places. That God would live in us was really a “new and living way” that religion had never even “dreamed of” before Christ. Even in our Old Testament, God came upon people but he never came inside people.

And then, just about the time they got the “spirit-filled” thing off the ground at Pentecost, here comes another hard pill to swallow: the idea of the Grace of God. And to make it even worse it’s declared by some guy that used to be called Saul, but for some reason changed his name to Paul. Then he starts bringing Gentiles into the group! Forget about it! That’s just too much for “good old religions” to bear! Mythic gods had never been portrayed as tightly knit with their followers and certainly never yielding to a “grace” relationship with them. And just to be more insulting, out in the middle of the desert in the Middle East comes Word that the Creator of all the earth has made personal contact with man and in that contact has offered “Good will toward all men”! I mean it’s just too much! After all, gods were to amuse themselves with the tragedies of people’s lives. I mean come on, they were to demand sacrifices, pentence, servitude, and don’t forget a god’s part-time work of creating great fear among his or her people. What good-god would declare a Peace and a Rest for his subjects? I mean give me a break here! Well, that’s exactly what we’re to believe if we believe in Elohim and Christ.

A Peace based on the Mercy and Grace of God was hard to accept for people that had used the Law of God for the agent of change in a person’s life. But now, Saul’s or Paul’s book of Romans was using a Greek word, charis, taken from the streets with at street meaning “unearned favor” and the scripture 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 a favor that is not only unearned but undeserved as well! That was almost too much! After all, the Pharisees had perfected the deserved “rewards” of God as the order of the day. Why, how could those new Christians suggest such a thing?

Well that’s where we find ourselves. Actually, the manifestation of this favor of God is found in “the gift of the Spirit”. This Spirit is merged with Grace to be active in our lives. In just believing in Christ we find ourselves in fellowship of the Spirit. “He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in Him will I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2) The Spirit of God inside us, us inside Him. Our obligation is to “dwell” there, to reside and stay there. We need to stay at “home” in the good times and especially in the bad times. The daily news should not spook us like quail hidden in tall grass, startling us to a new place. Instead we should hold our ground. Staying under the shadow of the Most High, trusting Him. David continues in that Psalm to identify God as “my habitation”. He lives here; His Spirit stays and abides in you. He never leaves or forsakes! He doesn’t rent a place; He paid a very expensive price for this place to live in! We do not have to call out to Heaven for intervention; we simply need to access our hearts. That’s not a momentary, depends on His mood, type of living in us. He does not travel between Heaven and Earth visiting our lives occasionally! He is there at all times. The Spirit of God has “come” into us, as a believer, issue settled.

I remember a Bible teacher illustrating that “God inside us” one time 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, I could get magazines about tennis. I might get books that explain tennis, books that give its rules and how to keep score. I could even memorize the positions for hitting the tennis ball correctly shown in pictures. I could get on the Internet and surely learn even more about the game. I could even buy a pair of white shorts, shirt and shoes especially designed to play tennis in. I might go to Wimbledon to watch the experts, could hire a coach. After doing all that I finally go to the court and actually try to play tennis and 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 that tennis coach could “step inside me”, inside my mind, nerves, muscles? Do you think that would make a difference in my “tennis-life”? My part would be to try and quit playing tennis and let him do it. Mine is to admit how helpless on the tennis court I am and just permit him to take over “my game”. That coach didn’t teach me how to play tennis; he is how I play tennis. That’s moving from the Law of Tennis method to the “inside me” method. I found myself doing all the right moves and following the rules but it was because the coach was doing the work. I was not playing tennis in my own ability, but by resting in the one who is inside me.

Well, that’s the “story” we’ve been given to believe in. God in us! We are not in just a moral or political war at the present, more importantly we are in a “Spiritual” war. We are in a real “separation” of good and evil, of light and dark, of kingdom versus Kingdom. We live in a time that takes our attention and our action for sure. We need to be aware and active in the challenges to our Christian Faith by the political and the radical. However, in that kind of world we can still find the shadow of the Most High. Matthew 11: 28-30 speaks of a way for the “weak and heavy-laden” to find a rest. That’s what it will require to take some of the weight off. That Greek “street-word” used for rest is most closely associated with our English word for vacation. As believers, we can take a vacation from those things that weigh us down and burden us daily. Oh! I know we sometimes don’t feel like that, don’t act like that and don’t always talk like that, but those weaknesses on our part don’t make it any less true on His. When I listen to the news and feel the weight I just remember my “helplessness” and more importantly the “Helper”. Ours is just to hold on. Don’t give up. I have no idea about what I’m going to do about tomorrow but I trust God to live it through me and live it accordingly to His ability to do so. I know it’s an odd thing that’s been suggested to us. No other religion will offer such a miracle and so much help, such a remedy. It’s kind of hard to “swallow” but it’s true just the same.

Truth

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

“What is the Truth?”
It was in the movie “The Passion of the Christ”. A small line delivered by Pilate, but those few words can fill pages in people’s minds: “What is the Truth?” Now don’t stop reading after the question is presented just because it sounds too cerebral. The answer I pose is not all that painful. In fact, this letter is not a dissertation on truth that weaves through the philosophical on some winding journey to the spiritual. Actually, it’s a pretty simple answer I’m suggesting. Jesus approached it in John 14: 6, “I am the way, the truth and the life… “. Jesus called himself the Truth. He has been called the Good Shepherd, Savior, Lord, the Bread of Life, Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Light of the World. Each title will bring a certain peace to each of us simply by knowing him as any one of that list.
But what is Truth? Is it a bunch of mysteries solved or maybe riddles to which we find the solution? If we memorize the Book of Proverbs, maybe that’s all the truth we need. But what he was talking about, Truth as described by Jesus, is the full uncovering of God. It is what is real about the Father. Some things may be true but it may not be “the Truth”. Everything else exists in “moments”. However, “The Truth” is eternal and never changes. Truth was before there was anything and it will exist after everything has faded away. Jesus came to reveal reality and to take away misunderstanding, error, and distortions about God. Before Jesus, God was revealed in part and after Jesus, He was revealed in His fullest. The fact is the only way to know God is to know the Son who is the revealed Truth of God.
We’re playing a song form Casting Crowns called “Who Am I?” That’s a fair question to ask. Moses asked it first after God came to him during Moses’ “forced retirement”. And, while it’s a fair question, I think the more important question is “Who are You? Knowing who God is reveals who I am. I can’t get a clue who I am, or who my neighbor is, without a true revealing of the knowledge of who God is. Pilate had a great Empire, had things, had power, but had no life. Just as in the movie, the face of Pilate was empty and questioning as he posed his question of Truth. Not having the correct answer to the question, they crucified the Truth because they hated the Truth. Isaiah 59:14 says, “Truth has stumbled in the street”. Truth was mugged and nailed to a Cross.
Paul taught that Christ spoke “words of Truth”. Before Christ, we had a distorted truth. It was a truth like Adam’s truth. Adam ran and hid from God. He thought God hated him for missing the mark. Adam, aware of his sin, was afraid of God. However, the revealed Truth, the Reality, is that God loved Adam. After the fall, God was not seeking Adam to condemn him but to “father” him. Obviously, an all-knowing God knew exactly where Adam was hiding. God was asking a rhetorical question when He asked “Adam where are you!” God needed Adam to know, to realize, where Adam was at in his thinking about God. Just like Adam, you thought God hated you because you missed the mark. You were afraid of God. However, when Christ revealed God’s love and uncovered the true God, the God of Mercy and Grace, Love cast out all fear. That Truth has not only the power to set us free, but if received it has the guarantee to make us free.
We know what happens when men suppress the Truth. It’s described in Paul’s writings to the Romans: “…they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the Glory of the un-corruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and four footed beasts and creeping things. Wherefore, God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the Truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…” or simply: “wrong worship”!
We recently sponsored a contemporary worship event with Axiom. Contemporary worship and “classic” worship, if true worship, is generated out of the knowledge of our liberty in Christ. Thousands of years ago, David’s praise was generated out of the “discovery” that God forgives our transgressions and blesses our life with undeserved blessings (Psalm 32). That same understanding today, the knowing of a freedom that makes us free, leads us into “all Truth”. That Truth leads us into Worship. Then we can Worship in Spirit and in Truth. Spirit and Truth must join hands in order to enter into true Worship. Until the Truth is revealed in Christ to us, we cannot Worship. The Truth of God’s Love leads us into Worship as a response. The Father Loves you because of Who He is, not because of who you are. Coming to know who you are apart from God simply reveals the flesh patterns that you were born with. It leaves us with no revelation of God and no power to overcome the strongholds built into our lives. Truth however, empowers us to overcome.
What is Truth? Jesus is the answer to Pilate’s question. Truth stood right in front of Pilate and he couldn’t see it. People want more of an answer than the one that Jesus gave. Pilate wanted a philosophical answer. Some times we want a “deeper, spiritual” answer. Surely it must be more complicated than that.
Once we knew “what is Truth” or better stated “Who is Truth”, we can then understand who we are: We are children of God, we’re redeemed, forgiven, saved, we’re justified, and sanctified, we’re new creatures, we partake of His Divine Nature, we’re delivered, we are led by the Spirit, we are sons of God, we are kept by His Love, we’re getting needs met by the Spirit, we’re strong in the Lord, we can do all things declared in God’s Word by His Word, we are heirs of Blessing, we are subjected to His healings, we have authority in His Name, we can be Conquerors, we have an overcoming Faith, we’re not moved by what we see or feel, we cast down vain imaginations, we take thought captive to the Word, we’re being transformed by the renewing of our minds through Christ, we labor with God, we are Righteous in His sight, we are being changed into His image, we are graced to be in His presence. All those things must be true because Truth declared them and paid the price for them. Truth is not something to be discovered or uncovered. Truth is revealed in Jesus. Truth is not something; it’s Someone!