Man, I do like to ramble in January. By that I mean, each January I end up just sitting down at the computer and writing the February newsletter without any idea where I might go with it or what I might say in it. Forget developing one thought, I’ve got several to talk about. The first of each year is always good for thinking about the past, the present, and the future. I’ll give you the condensed version.
I’ve been thinking about what’s happened over the past years of my “born-again” experience and what I’ve come to appreciate over that time span. I’m not talking about a religious doctrine or formula; it’s more of an observation of God in the earth rather than a definite way to “do” the Gospel.
First, I like what Rich Mullins said once referring to Christians being too hard on one another, about the differences we might find in comparing each of our beliefs. His statement can be summarized in just a few words, “(if we were honest with each other)…We’re all just guessing anyway.” Put any two believers in a room and you’ll have a room with two people that are wrong about something in the Gospel. I know we’re trying, but none of us is “perfectly correct.” So we can relax a little with one another, enjoy our common beliefs. I’ve learned, especially while being involved at WBVN, to respect our differences more. For many of us, I’m not so sure they’re really differences as much as they’re just different ways of seeing the same thing. But we’re seeing it differently because we’re standing in a different place than the other person is standing. Standing and looking at the mountain from the East side or standing an observing it on the West gives two completely different descriptions but it’s still the same mountain.
I’ve learned a lot about my feelings over time. I value so many ‘little things’ that occur each day. Value them more than I openly express most the time. However, I observe many more “tender-hearted” moments than I mention to people around me. If I would open up more I think it would be easier for people to see how much I value the variations found in this life. I’ve found value in the sad experiences and in the good ones as well. I really like the good days, but I’ve learned to appreciate the emotional and spiritual experience of either. I’ve mentioned before, the day that my father died was the most terrible day in my life and one of the most precious at the same time. The loss was terrible, but the comfort and sense of the presence of God was overwhelming at the very same moment. Now I prefer the good days rather the sad ones, but I still have discovered a way to find “life” in both. What a great creature we are! God has put together complications and wonders by combining three in one: body, soul and spirit. The good days are enjoyable; in the other days, our strengths are revealed to us.
Here’s another ramble. I’ve noticed how much the President and Congress are given authority in our lives, ‘space that they’ve been given to influence our lives’ if you will. I mean it’s huge. So much of what we do and what happens to us is directly under their influence. Comparatively, in each in our lives we’ve been given “a certain amount of space” as well. Most of us don’t have a very big space of influence: our immediate and extended family perhaps, the people we work with or go to church with, possibly people we’ve met over the years and that have become friends or acquaintances. For most of us it’s not much bigger than that. But, I’ve discovered that that small amount of “space” can still be important in the Kingdom of God. If each of us would just “make a difference” in those small places for the Gospel it could make a real difference. For our listening friends during the 16 years that WBVN has been on the air, I think we’ve been an “encourager.” I can live with the idea that WBVN may not be profound but that we’ve helped people that listen in some small way. For each of us, just leaving the “space where we’re influential” a little better off than how we found it is something all of us should seek to do.
If I were to give our girls any single advice about their purpose in life, I think I would sum it up much like that. Being ambassadors of Christ, did you leave the people and places you were involved with better off than if you had not been involved with them at all? It’s a small accomplishment in comparison to the President or Congress, but I think it’s just as important in the “Gospel” sense. You might not change the world but you can make a difference in “your space.” Simply, were you a giver or were you a consumer of the environment you lived in? Did you only take things out of your environment or did you leave it something.
My last ramble, I think. Sixteen years working at WBVN is the longest span of time that I’ve ever been in one place. I think that’s because of the opportunity to make that “little space” a better place. Our purpose is to use the Spirit of God found in the hymns and psalms we play to create an atmosphere in believer’s lives that’s more enjoyable and more pleasant because we were there with them; not earth shattering, but with value just the same.
I don’t know much about the future. God does know the future and we’re just finding out about it as we go along. I remember telling people, “the Father has already lived this out once in His heart.” He knows the beginning and the ending. As we go along, we’re discovering what we’re going to do about Him; He already knows what we will do about Him.” That makes it (as Steven Curtis Chapman once sang) a “Great Adventure.”
I can’t say that I’ve ever met a prophet but I’ve been in the middle of what I would call the spirit of prophecy. It’s never been an environment where someone knew, knew without a doubt, the future; but occasionally and rarely, I’ve been around expressions of encouragement and confirmation for other believers. At WBVN, we’ve had many “wonderful” expressions of faith given to us over the years, encouragements that have carried us along from one event to the next. We never knew the future, but just the simple encouragement of our faith made a big difference in our lives. We hope WBVN has been that type of encouragement in your life as well.
This ministry has seen the “unbelievable” happen to it and seen some tragic things as well. We’ve stood on dusty ground and stood on ground that’s “over-flowing” with the green gardens of life. This past year, we watched as our giving totals were not at the levels of the year before (down about 17%). The total number of gifts received was nearly the same however; the amount that people could give was smaller in 2005. But you know, we made the budget needs of this ministry. Each bill was paid and year-end contract obligations were satisfied. We did that in a year in which we had increases almost in every monthly expense for this ministry. That’s part of that discovery I mentioned earlier. I don’t have a doctrine of how that works; I’m just sure that it does.
God has taken such good care! It’s never been predicable where our funding would come from or how much we would need from year to year. We had three years in a row (2001-2003) that we lost revenue on the concerts in each one of those years. This past year, the concerts helped make up the difference in the short fall of our gifts. We did that with the lowest ticket prices in the country for some of the most popular groups in the country. We’re just left simply to believe in God! Occasionally, Jane and I are asked questions about the future of this station or sometimes about the future of our own lives. We always reply that the same God that provided for us at 40 years old is just as capable at holding us up at 80 years old.
Your graciousness to the ministry doesn’t go unnoticed. The kindnesses have always been there, but more and more the “fellowship,” the oneness with our listeners, is manifested. I’m convinced that that “one accord” is significance to us all. It manifests in some of the concerts. There, a thousand people from many denominations, are all worshiping and being of a single fellowship. It’s not complete in all that it could be, but it goes a long way in bringing us together with a single purpose of praising God. I really believe we’re the better for having gotten together. I know we are for having the experience of meeting so many of you. Each day WBVN shares into each listener’s heart through the music heard commonly between us all. I can’t measure that blessing. However, I do believe the environment is better with us here than without us here. I hope you agree and join with us for the 2006th year of celebrating the most glorious life that was ever lived: Christ Jesus.