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30 Years of Memories-Randy Stonehill

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

30 Years of Memories: RANDY STONEHILL

The history of contemporary Christian music is interesting. Some of it we got into just as we began the station in January, 1990. Names such as Keaggy and his Glass Harp band, Second Chapter of Acts, Michelle Wagner, Keith Green, Don Francisco, Annie Herring, Larry Norman come to mind as early ‘influencers’ of contemporary Gospel. One more name should be added and it’s a name that we have had multiple concerts with over the 30 years of ministry of WBVN. If I said Uncle Rand or simply Stonehill, little images may go off in the minds of some of our listeners.

Randy Stonehill first hit our concert series on March 22nd, 1992. What a character! Randy is an easy smile, easy to be amazed at the guitar skills, easy to love the person. I actually remember too many things about him as I write this memory. About the time one thing gets typed on the page I’m already smiling and thinking of something else that muses me about Stonehill.

Obviously, we played dozens of Randy’s songs over the years so the name was familiar. A friend of mine had actually mentioned Randy in some conversations we had and asked me if I knew that Randy appeared in The Blob II movie made in 1972. He has a scene singing to another lady, actress Cindy Williams, who played Shirley Feeney on the Laverne and Shirley television sitcom some years later. I had to watch that and did since Danny actually had a copy of the movie to look at. I digress; anyway, Randy was well known for his music writing, performing and humor. Each of those showed every time he came to do a concert for us. Whether singing ‘Who Will Save The Children’, ‘Every Heartbeat Is A Prayer’, or the grin songs ‘American Fastfood’, or Breakfast At Denny’s’, Randy was unique and worth every minute shared with us on stage; that from a guy who told me that back home in California he had a tortoise for a pet.

For awhile we brought Randy in every 3 or 4 years. I remember a concert we did at John A. Logan College on March 20th, 1998. Actually, March 20th and March 21st. That was an interesting night. The concert was scheduled to begin at 7pm and everyone was in their seats and ready to go at 7, but there was one little problem. Randy was stuck in a snow and ice adventure at the St. Louis airport. There were lots of phone calls that night between me and the artist management trying to decide what to do next. Do we send people home and tell Randy to go get a room until he can fly back to California or do we wait? We waited. Randy, and this was an amazing little coincidence, was visiting on the plane with a person headed to SIU for meetings. That conversation turned into a car ride to JALC. Randy arrived about 10:30 that night. He tuned the guitar. He drank his always required lemon juice and hot water and started the concert at about 11pm. The reason I said March 20th and 21st was the concert didn’t get over until after midnight, and in my office I have a signed photograph of Randy and he put two signatures on the picture and the dates: 3-20-98 and 3-21-98. That’s Stonehillian!

I remember a concert a few years later. Randy found out that Phil Keaggy was coming in a few months after his concert and he took copy paper and wrote a bunch of notes to Phil and asked us to hang them around the Civic Center. Stonehillian! That concert was very special and actually the last one we’ve done with Randy. It was fun and serious all in one package. It was special in another way as well. Randy had to be taken back to the airport in Evansville, Indiana, and along the way something just clicked in Randy. The result was tears and smiles but certainly heartwarming. A car ride I will never forget. He went into detail about album covers, like the one with a screen door behind his photo, which Larry Norman had taken at their back door rented house. He mentioned that the famous, high leg kick photo on the album ‘The Wild Frontier’ was actually just a photo that the record company had rotated the photograph to make it look like he was kicking over his head but really was him bending over and only kicking about a foot up. I learned how it all started and the tears were part of Randy’s conversation with me about Keith Green. The starting part was fun and interesting. He started with the little known fact that the way he, and also Larry Norman, got started was from a $500 dollar gift from Pat Boone– the 1957 ‘April Love’ Pat Boone. Randy told how Pat had seen them in a small club and that, impressed, he asked them to come to his house for a meeting. There Pat gave them $500 cash to pay for studio recording time, time to make their music. According to Randy, Larry Norman went to the bank and had it exchanged for five hundred one dollar bills just simply to see and feel all those dollars. Again, according to Randy, Larry put all the cash in a dresser drawer and stirred it up, they thought they were rich.

The tears part was associated with Randy’s conversation about Keith Green. They had written songs together, worked together and were great friends. He told me of how Keith would show up at 2 o’clock in the morning and wake Randy up and tell him he just needed to listen to a new song Keith had just written. I think the word spontaneous was used to describe Keith. The tears flowed when Randy began to tell about seeing Keith at the airport coming off a plane while Randy waited to get on one. I got the impression that there had been a bit of tension between them but not having stopped and talked, not renewing old friendship, is something Randy wished he could do over. Randy’s sadness was because just a few weeks later, Keith would be killed in a plane crash. Not taking the time to come together seemed to be a real heart-breaking moment from Randy’s memory. It was hard to talk about anything after those tears.

One of the amazing things over the years that surprised me about the artists we’ve met in concert, artists that you have experienced and loved just as I have, has been the immense talents and sincerity of people we brought in to do concerts. There have been hundreds of personalities but one very common denominator: Love of Jesus in each. There may be hundreds of different ways to sing and talk of the Gospel with those artists but, just like Randy, the integrity of their mission and purpose, for the most part, the kindness of their hearts have been amazing. Randy Stonehill is one of a kind for sure. Yet, that Spirit of God still makes him a lot like you, a lot like me.

November Newsletter-Meant to Be

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Meant To Be
I’ve spent my days asking when is my time, why am I right here
Why is it not clear, there’s gotta be something bigger than this
In all of my dreams the grass is so green
Oh Lord, I try to plan out my life but only You bring Peace

Through the sunlight and the shadows, You’re the one I follow
No matter where I go to, my eyes are fixed upon You
I will be content, I’m right where I’m meant to be

I’m finally learning to open my hands and trust that Your love for me is enough
I’m done pretending that I’m in control, You’ll always be wiser than me
So I won’t try to plan out my life ’cause only You bring Peace
(lyrics from Carrollton)

Every time we come closer to what we were meant to be we find Peace and Comfort there. No matter where that is, no matter the environment we discover that closeness in, Peace comforts our soul. I like to capitalize those kinds of words because they are so different than the words we use in our daily lives. They are Power of God words and the capitalization indicates something that God can do that man cannot.

Peace is a condition that comes from One Source only. Humans use the word peace as though it’s a thing that, once obtained, will end trouble for all time, a state of existence where nothing bad, stressful, or unjust will happen. Man’s definition for peace has been sought and failed time after time. Politicians are still promising it, merchants offer it if you will just buy their product, religion claims it, but only Jesus can deliver it. Man’s peace is scarce; God’s is daily and actually permanent. God’s true Peace is not simply the absence of stress. Peace that passes understanding is not just the absence of trouble; Peace is where something good happens right in the middle of trouble. In Jesus, something we call a Kingdom happens. Man’s peace might be found by our working on the justice systems, eliminating wars and legislating against intolerance, etc. Man’s peace might even be attainable for a day, weeks, and some years, but eventually new tensions arise to stain man’s peace. Every time we think that Jeannie (peace) is in the bottle, each generation finds some way to disturb our peace. (Just compare 2019 America and 2020 America.) God’s Peace not only comforts in times like these, no matter our circumstances, but offers a constancy that creates good things out of or in the middle of un-peace. I recently heard someone say, ‘it’s not that the world is falling apart, it’s more like it’s falling in place.’ It’s not a hopeless moment any more than when the world rejected and killed Jesus the first time. He rose again. Today, they are trying to crucify him again, which may appear grim, but God will either resurrect the Gospel in this mess or He will enter earth and bring real Peace, physically establish Peace for all time. We need to remember that the Bible is an unfinished narrative. It has not finished its story yet. Yes, there’s a pause in it. A pause between the ‘Kingdom’ established by Christ and the next manifestation of the Kingdom sitting on a New Heaven and A New Earth.

In the meantime, while we wait on that to occur, what about what we’re meant to be now? I like to simplify what is meant to be like this: relationship with God, relationship with others, both relationships without fear. That’s created by knowing that God is holding us in His hands, knowing that we’re free to care without fear of being damaged in return by God or man, letting our hearts be free to accept His acceptance, life a day at a time, a life not arrogant in ourselves but confident in Him. The nearer we get to those ambitions, those goals, the more we experience what we were meant to be.

Our meant to be, our purpose, is simplified in the Garden of Eden: walking with and talking with God, those were the subjects of Eden. Yes, Adam and Eve and their kids needed their daily provision of shelter, food, and other necessities- probably no trips to Walmart or binging on Hulu- but they had human needs and focuses just the same. The center of the conversation in Genesis was God creating them, approaching them, accepting them and encompassing their lives. Even with our Sam’s, Targets, sports, theater, music, jobs, life today still comes down to finding ‘the meant to be’ in our relationship with Him, finding that with Him just the same as Adam and Eve. That’s the measure of humanity’s true purpose. Lots of things enter our world but none more relevant or important than the presence of that relationship. I have many things that I possess and tons of things that interest me; too many things according to Jane. I can enjoy watching the political drama staged before our eyes and ears. I love photography and can be preoccupied with my pictures of the San Juan mountains in Colorado. I like to accumulate books on all kinds of subjects, and I agree with Jane, I’m interested in too many things for sure. However the most cherished, the most treasured, is not any of those things; it’s my personal relationship with Father, Son, and Spirit. It might not be the most skilled thing I do, but that intimate relationship is the most important thing I attempt to do. Now don’t permit this to seem arrogant, I don’t mean it that way, but, ‘Ken and God, it’s a bit of Eden.’ Your name could be substituted instead of mine and that would be my true meaning for making that the statement. What you were meant to be is that personal, that intimate. God is outside the immeasurable heavens above our heads but also inside your heart. You were created and meant to be face to face with The Creator of that cosmos.

Most of what we see happening around us, in this country and the world, are struggles that fill voids created because of the absence of His ‘meant to be’ experience. Hate, anger, sadness, lying-dishonesty, aggression, frustration, fills in the space when we leave a space between God and ourselves. Separation from the Love of God is the bottom line that causes so much conflict. Even believers can suffer from those symptoms. We can believe there’s a God without believing that He has chosen us, forgiven us, and forgiven others. (Actually, Jesus said, you can’t be forgiven if you don’t forgive others. That doesn’t mean He won’t forgive us as a penalty, it’s more akin to us being unable to understand, accept, or administer Grace in our own lives because we don’t believe it for others.)
Let me take a little liberty with Scripture and tweak a little thing that, over the years, I’ve expressed many times. I’m not going to say I’m necessarily right about my tweak, but it has been a help for me to keep me encouraged about God within us.

In 1Corinthians 15:52, it states ‘In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.’ That literally will happen on a tomorrow, but I believe that’s also true each day of our lives. When we see Him, each time we see Him as He really is, we are changed forever. That’s happened to me what seems like a zillion times. Simply, He doesn’t (and this is with our cooperation of course) leave us the same as we were 20 years ago or even sometimes yesterday. Moment by moment, day by day, time after time, when we are a step nearer to understanding Him, Who He really is, we are also beginning to understand and live more like we were meant to be.

There is a God in us, and as we discover Him, we come alive to more of Him. I remember years ago telling friends as I’ve been in conversations (or sometimes even more obvious to me, as I write these newsletters) and I discover things that I can only express like this: ‘I didn’t know that I knew that’. It’s a revealing that takes place as He pours out of us. That’s how we’re meant to be. The Gospel is not an intellectual process where we logic ourselves into it, it’s a heart process. Learning simply that God exists is not the end of our journey; having a personal, trusting relationship is the goal.

That’s the new creature being enlightened time after time by hearing what’s on the inside; hearing what makes us a new creature: His presence. If we’re not careful, we focus on us recreating us. We try to recreate who we are by our ability. Instead of seeking to know Him inside us, which recreates us each time we see Him for Who He really is, that new understanding creates a new us and moves us closer to who we were always meant to be. The Gospel is not us just spending our whole lives becoming good. It’s more significantly about finding and celebrating the Goodness He is. Jesus didn’t come to make you into a Jesus 2.0; he can’t be copied or duplicated. Instead, finding ’Who He is’ is so powerful it changes us ‘for goodness sake!’ Every believer has The Spirit inside, He dwells there, that’s the only thing that makes becoming who ‘we were meant to be’ possible. Knowing the Love of God makes it impossible to live in hatred and fear, hatred and fear are evaporated in His Peace.

October Newsletter-Bed 2

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Last month I wrote about the un-comfortableness or restlessness described in the Prophet Isaiah’s scripture: Isaiah 28:20. I referenced the linkage between our human soul’s (mind, will and emotions) attempt to dominate our daily lives and contrasted that with what our heart/spirit was purposed to do in our lives. Created by the new revelation of Christ in our heart, I mentioned that there’s not really a war requiring us to have to destroy the soul in order to find success in the spirit. Rather it’s a matter of once alive unto God, our spirit becomes the tool that the Father uses to guide and lead us into more of His Life versus the three amigos of the soul being in our driver’s seat. From birth, the soul, having been in charge most of our lives, wants to continue being the leader in our everyday lives. Our mind, will and emotions want to force the spirit into the back seat, want it to be quiet. Our mind, will and emotions are perfectly content for our hearts to just travel quietly back there from birth until death. I mentioned that the soul is not evil in itself, but is God’s gift to us. Our mind, will and emotions are some of God’s tools designed specifically so that we can experience all that God has provided for His creation. For example, we may write poems in our minds that express hope and beauty. By our will, we can set goals in our lives, hopefully, goals that are remarkable simply by being goals that He’s purposed for us. And, the emotions– those relationships we’ve found in family, friends, the face of a newborn child, marriage, in fact, all our relationships, even the joy in our pets, or baseball(forgive me I digress!). Our worship experiences are gifts for us so that we experience the depth of our worship and the lifting of our soul. Our emotions permit us to touch a bit of His emotions for having, by His Love, chosen to send Christ and the Spirit into believers’ lives and their relationship. By design, they enrich and enhance our journey but they can, if we allow them to, create their own kingdom in our lives. They can also separate us from what God has prepared for us.

Last month’s letter about merismos, the proper dividing of the soul and spirit, is connected to this letter. Both letters combine and clarify what’s going on between our heart and our head. So, this letter is the foundation letter for the last letter. I’m not actually sure why the letters occurred to me in this order, but I’ll just take it at face value that you will permit me to do them backwards. Just keep in the back of your mind that the first will be last, and the last is first.

First, why have we become professional soul creatures rather than moving toward more of the spiritual creatures God intended us to be? Why is it that more and more our culture moves away from the spirit and spends all its efforts and times ginning up our soul (what we think, what we want, what we feel). The correct order of the Gospel is: accept, believe, and change. Dominated by our logical minds we reverse that in our cultures to: change, believe, and accept. Here, seems to me, we major on the minors and minor on the majors. What we’re seeing in America today is a total rebellion to the spirit and a swelling of the soul. The ultimate goal is to get you to think like it thinks, to want what it has and to feel like you’re right and everyone else is wrong. Everything the spirit thinks is somehow sub-human, everything the culture elite thinks is righteous. By the time we’re adults, our mind, will and emotions have countless experiences. In a kind of a self preservation process, those experiences develop patterns and habits in our souls of how we manage our lives. In order to change our fixed mind, will and emotions, the Spirit of God knew we would need something so strong that it wouldn’t simply persuade us for awhile to a new way to live, but something so powerful that it would dynamite our reliance on the three amigos to lead our life responses and place our new alive unto God spirits in the lead. That’s the Gospel. To overwhelm our thinking and emotions we will have to come to believe, without wavering (!), something like- while we were sinners Christ died for us. Or something like-our guilt, shame and alienation have been destroyed by the Cross of Christ. There are hundreds of others. Those are things that sound too good to be true, but those are the things that are to become constant down in our soul. Those kinds of things simply don’t make sense to us if you think about it only with your brain. That’s where the Gospel must overpower our Greek logic, taking foothold in our hearts. The Gospel must be so powerful that it’s only believable because it is so illogical, so outlandish, and doesn’t match the things we’ve experienced in our lives.

Image all the things that can happen to us as we grow into believers. Some of us experience mistreatment, perhaps insufferable infant or childhood environments. Our teen years can be traumatic, as young adults we face so many temptations to pull us away from the Love of God. By the time we’re a legal adult our emotions may be shot. Much of the time, what happened to us on the outside burrows itself in our insides: hurtful words, physical abuse, and abandonment, learning struggles or something similar, all affect our interpretation of the world around us. Many times those environments leave us damaged or at the very least suspicious of everything, everyone around us. I still default to certain emotional responses from my early childhood disappointments and fears. Our emotions become full-time devotees to all kinds of past pressures. We feel and see through the filter of our soul, locking in on only things that have hurt of damaged us, rather than anything beautiful or meaningful in our lives. For most of our early lives, our soul antennas have been constantly stroked and have become the ‘first responder’ in most every situation. We can easily lose sight of the mystery of life, the wonder of each breath, the miracle of birth, and we begin the process of isolating ourselves from people and God, from caring and confidence. We can be alive without living. That causes us to miss part of what God has prepared for us. What changes in us, along with our spiritual change, is we can become convinced we’re people that God can love and partnership with. When that happens, our spirit can begin to lead us away from the simple mind, will and emotions of our earlier experiences. We begin to hear, follow and be led of God.

C. S. Lewis wrote a line in one of his novels that expresses much of our problem- our ‘eyes are wrong’. Sometimes our mind, will and emotions blind us from the workings of God in our lives. Our soul is being changed, either positively or negatively, day by day. It’s just natural that as we begin to see the Glory of God in our daily lives, our spirit stands up and our three amigos sit down. In that process, our shredded lives that were held together by the weak twine of human experience begins to give way to assurance, security and hope. That in turn creates freedom in us, a freedom to care and to be cared for. It gives us the ability to trust and be trusted, even in the midst of the world’s unlovely and unjust system. Knowing the Love of God is the most efficient thing for escaping our past, our heart-ache and our fears: in fact it’s instantaneous.

Our experiences aren’t alone in our struggles to live by the Spirit. There’s a helper that persuades us away from the embrace of God. He’s a whisperer for the most part. Whispering is the only power he possesses, which when fully understood, is truly powerless. He’s reminding us of our failures and fears, playing with our soul (mind, will and emotion) in a playground of his choosing- one between our ears. His game is it to take away our Joy and hide God’s Glory already in our everyday lives. For all the trying to break out, we can remain blinded by the Yo-Yo effect of feeling saved one minute and falling for the suggestions of self-condemnation the next. That problem got addressed in Jesus’ teaching about double-mindedness. First, we must become convinced that we’ve been found by the Love of God, that we’ve been embraced by It, that we’re forgiven, that we are, as David was (with all his faults), the apple of His Eye. All that, not because we deserve it, but because of His choosing! Being single-minded about the Love of God bulldozes the whispers and puts them in our recycle bin. Once we establish those kinds of truths in our heart, not arrogantly but with humility, so that nothing can move us away from them, we’ll begin to persuade our mind, will and emotions to quit murmuring and get in order.

Isaiah 7:14 references and introduces us to Immanuel, literally, ‘with us is God’. Not God was with us or He will be with us later, but God is NOW! He’s our new Helper and His Whispers are more powerful and able to separate the spirit and the soul. Isaiah goes further in Chapter 8 verse 8. ‘And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.’ I looked up the literal translation and it reads: ‘…and He shall pass through Judah (meaning descendents of the original, Jesus is the original and Judah would be his descendents: the Church) and He shall overflow and go over, He shall reach even to the neck (this is where burdens were carried in Isaiah’s culture, and can reference our burdens), and stretching out His wings (He) shall fill the breath of land (our lives)- O’ Immanuel (With us is God!). Knowing He has done that, is doing that, is the first step to saving the soul.

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