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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!

Act of God

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

“Act of God.” That’s what insurance companies call hurricanes, tornadoes, fallen trees, lightning strikes and your roof collapsing from the weight of snow. I think that’s a misrepresentation, or at the very least a misunderstanding of God. That’s part of the vision of this radio station… telling people “Dad ain’t mad!”
WBVN was actually started in 1988. We didn’t begin broadcasting until January 8th, 1990, but the vision for telling people about the Love, Mercy and Grace began much earlier. In 1988 we made an application to the FCC and it took months to get the final approval. When we did get on the air, it was an expression of what we (Jane and I) had been sharing for 10 years prior. Fourteen years later, WBVN is still an expression purposed in the Grace and Love of God. That’s what we believe: the Father inspired us to “go and tell.” The way I like to express it is, “that’s what the Father released us (gave us a peace about) to tell.” I get uncomfortable telling or talking about almost anything else. Don’t really know much about anything else really. This newsletter is about “what I have to say about God.” I had posed a question to myself: If having only one thing to say about the character of God, what would I say? My answer? “God is a Giver.” That pre-disposes that He’s a Taker. I don’t believe that He is. I’ll explain.
Many years ago I used to carry a pamphlet in my pocket that was a copy of the Book of Job. Man, I loved it. It was like a good “country song,” had lots of misery in it and I was miserable at that time. There’s an old saying “misery loves company,” and I liked the fact that Job said “God giveth and God taketh way.” Sounded good to me. At least I had someone beside myself to blame for the condition I found myself in. “Oh, woe is me” is especially good if your life doesn’t fit and you want to complain, you can just complain about God doing it to you. Well, a few years later I finally read the end of the Book of Job. Seemed that I hadn’t read far enough to find out what God really said about Job and his friends. You see, Job’s friends complained and blamed God for everything that happened to Job. Their counsel was that Job must have done something wrong and God was getting even for that. But in Chapter 38 God had had enough. Job was so self-conscious, self-centered that he had forgotten to be loving and careful for others. After listening to Job and his friends for all those Chapters, God simply directed Job to pray for others. Once Job “operated in love, ” God restored the fortunes of Job and doubled what he had had before. Then, he set out to straighten out Job’s “understanding” friends, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge! … Where were you when I laid the foundation of the Earth? Tell me if you have understanding, who set its measurements since you know! … Who set its cornerstone? … Have you ever in your life commanded the morning and caused the dawn to know its place?” These fellas thought they knew everything about God; we eventually discover we don’t know much at all. When we discover we know very little, that’s an environment where God can restore our lives. According to Scripture, Job’s friends “had not spoken of Me what is right!” They had accused God of much but at the end of the day, God said, “bad advice fellas.” they had the wrong perspective of God. Listening to their opinion about God had kept Job trapped in his misery. Job’s life could have been restored earlier had he understood the nature of God. We should be careful what we tell people about God; it could keep them trapped in tradition and make the Word of god of no effect.
Another misunderstanding of the nature of God is illustrated in the story of Jonathan an David’s covenant with one another. “Now it came about when we had finished speaking so Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him (David) as himself… and Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself (1 Samuel 18). Jonathan and David had the ultimate friendship, one based on a deep respect and caring for one another. Jonathan was Saul’s son. Subsequently, David’s death became the preoccupation of Saul. However, the loyalty of David and Jonathan was unmatched in Biblical stories. Years after Jonathan’s death, there’s an interesting account of King David’s treatment of Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth believed King David hated all of Saul’s family and feared David and hid himself from David. He was afraid that David would do harm or kill him, assuming that the King himself would want to “settle old scores” with the house of Saul. 2 Samuel Chapter 8 tell the story. The truth was David passionately wanted to show kindness to Jonathan’s family. David, having discovered that Jonathan’s son was alive, had Mephibosheth brought to the palace and said to him, “Do not fear for I will surely show kindness, for your father Jonathan’s sake and will restore your land and you shall eat at the King’s table regularly.” David loved Mephibosheth though Mephibosheth had never understood that. He could have been eating at the table of David much earlier if he had understood the King’s heart earlier. How much time have we wasted and what are we thinking that’s keeping God from being able to grant blessings to us?
Many times we assume we’re unacceptable, contemptible and separated from God. That misunderstanding causes us to miss opportunities to be blessed by God. How we see Him, what we feel about Him, what we say about Him has a direct relationship to what we experience from Him. Because of what Mephibosheth believed and assumed, he never knew that David wanted to bless him. Yet, David did want to bless him because of what Jonathan had done. In the same manner, the Father wants to bless us because of what Jesus has done.
Twenty years ago Jane and I “decided” God is Good. We did exactly what the Word instructed us to do, “study to show yourself approved of God” (2 Tim. 2:15). In fact, we discovered that God is Love and Love does not return evil for evil (1 Cor. 13:5). We trust in that! God says about Himself that He tempts no man. We believe that means He doesn’t tempt anyone to failure just to teach him a lesson. If it’s God doing the tempting, there are literally millions of people failing the test. Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” because asking that to all of us makes all the difference. Howe we see Him affects what we experience from Him. Solomon said that “as a man thinketh so he is.” What we believe makes a difference in how we will act. If we think God is dishing out Good and Bad, it confuses us. How do we know when it’s God and not the Devil? How do we know it’s God and not just our poor decisions? If terrible things are coming from God, how do we know when to get out of the situation or just stay in because God wants us to learn something from it? I know how most people settle it. If it’s something terrible happening to me, it’s God trying to teach me something. If it’s something happening to them, it’s the Devil trying to take something God gave them away. Sounds an awful lot like the advice of Job’s friends to me.
Jane and I have decided. Would a father give a stone when asked for bread? No! (Mat. 7:9) Spiritually, we all need glasses. We’re all spiritually nearsighted and farsighted. We either can’t see God when He is close and we can’t see Him coming from far off. There’s no 20/20 without rightly dividing the Word of God. We need that corrective vision to see clearly, to see things the way they really are. We have Mephibosheth’s problem. Paul teaches that we’re alienated in our minds. God says draw near to God by approaching the Throne of Grace. He’s a “Giver.” We’ve settled that in our hearts. We never have to figure out if we’re supposed to be learning something from this broken-heart/ disease/ broken home/ death/ bankruptcy! God’s the Fixer of broken hearts, the Healer of disease; He’s the Mender of broken homes, the Comforter at death, and the Redeemer of bankruptcy. God gives the increase! God supplies the solutions. He does not create them.
There’s a little chorus that comes to mind each time I find myself trying to figure out what I’m going through: “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good to me!” I believe that and make it the conclusion in my life. Many times I will tease people by telling them tat when I die and enter the Gates of Eternal heaven the last thing I want to be shouting is, “Thank you God for all that trouble and calamity that you sent to teach me something.” No, I want to enter Heaven shouting, “Praise God, the Lord is Good and His Mercy endures forever, let the Redeemed of the Lord say so!” (Psalm 107:1-2) That’s what I have to say about Him every time. And if we’ll not praise Him in Heaven for the terrible things of this earth, let’s try and not praise Him while we’re here.