For seventeen years we at WBVN have called ourselves encouragers. In fact, that’s the single characteristic of how we describe this ministry. Certainly, encouragement is the end result of what we do. But, I’ve recently discovered that what we do to receive and experience that encouragement is ‘praise.’ Throughout scripture, true biblical praise has shown to be a powerful experience for believers. For example, in Ezra 3, they ‘praised’ before they laid the foundation of the Temple. Joshua was quiet for six days before being instructed to shout (or praise) and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. In 2Chornicles 20, ‘praisers’ were sent before the Armies of God. There are many other events and times that praise played a significant role. There surely has to be an important purpose for God’s instructions to praise in those situations. I do not think it is necessary for Him to receive those praises, but more importantly for our sake, it is necessary for us to give them.
As I mentioned earlier, we like to use the word encouragement. It’s present in the biblical text. The Hebrew meaning is consistent in each use. Encouragers are associated with ‘cheering’ (my word) people on. It is a word used when imploring people to be strong, to hold fast, to withstand, to repair and to recover, and in each case to be courageous. I think that pretty well describes what we do on WBVN. At least that is our hearts desire for this ministry. We do not challenge listeners to a new doctrine but instead; we cheer our listeners on in their own personal Faith, no matter the specific doctrine.
I know it cannot be true, but it seems that praising was ‘easier’ or at least more common two thousand years ago. There are many scriptures that instruct us to ‘praise’ in all kinds of situations. For some reason, praising is not as natural for today’s believers as it seemed to be for the early Church. I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown up feeling a little too ‘self aware’ at times when I was in the middle of simple praise. Seems that praising God needs to ‘be given a defined time’ for it to take place anymore. By that, I mean, we seem to need to have a special event of praise. For us to feel comfortable to express biblical praise, we need a meeting designed especially for praise rather than a spontaneous event of praise. I think in the future we are going to see more of that ‘spontaneous praise’ as God manifest His presence in our common daily lives. I think a time is coming when we will see believers just drop to their knees, honoring the Father, as we see His presence more and more often in our lives.
The environment provided on the radio seems to elicit a kind of private praise response. That seems to hold some importance for our listeners. I’m not sure just how important. It seems to play a significant place for most of us. I suppose what value it does play can be debated. I know personally it’s been very important many times over the past 17 years.
Today, for the most part, praise gets all bundled up and packaged as ‘singing praises.’ Now, we do plenty of singing here. And, as I mentioned above, it is encouraging. It brings a confidence and an awareness of God’s love and provision. But I think just as importantly, the opportunity for the station to just simply say praises is good for all of us. What we say and what we play is all part of one expression of praising God.
As believers, many times we may not know exactly what to do. Maybe there are no words, no action that can be done, but we can always know that it is powerful to praise Him. If in doubt of anything, you can always be sure on this one thing: praising Him is always appropriate and a certainty to help clarify any situation. It brings to mind the over used, and too much quoted, but always appropriate scripture from Habakkuk, “although the fig tree may not blossom, neither shall fruit be on the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail; and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, and I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Even now, as we ‘wait’ on re-locating the station, my best advice from me to me is to praise in just this scripture pattern.
What we have to say about the Father, what we believe about Him is so critical during times such as these. The world, and specifically the Christian community, sure needs to know what to say and we need to be saying it with confidence right now! Praising Him does that for us. It’ in times like these, times when the world seems to overwhelm, that we can discover how important ‘praise’ is for us.
Any day could be our last day. I have one general rule for the last or any day of our lives: I believe we should just praise our way into His presence. If it’s not our last day, let us praise Him anyway, expecting the Father to follow up with His presence and evidence of His manifestation in our daily lives. We may not understand every scripture. We may not have memorized each verse. We may not have prayed each morning this week. We may not feel as though God is present at all. We might feel all alone. Maybe things are falling apart all around us. But each day, whether we feel like it or not, we can praise Him.
We’re very grateful for you being in this partnership of believers known as WBVN, in order that we might be able to Praise God over FM 104.5 twenty four hours each day.
Over the years, almost 17 now, WBVN has tried to become more and more a servant to our listeners. Early on we increased the amount of time we broadcast over FM 104.5. We began broadcasting on air January 8th, 1990 from 6 in the morning until 10:30 each evening. Volunteers did the evening shifts; Patti, Larry, Clay, Tom, Mark, and Sarah each took a turn keeping the station on the air. On April 8th, 1994 we became a 24-hour a day radio station. Over the years we’ve created Crank It Up Monday, Double Play Tuesday, Classic Wednesday, Worship Thursday and No Break Friday. Each ‘day’ was designed to offer special listening advantages for our audience. Encouraging the Body of Christ is our single purpose at WBVN. We need to be encouraged toward God and away from so many other sources that man can find to try and experience moments of gladness. For us, gladness is a spiritual term with great meaning. We can be momentarily happy by getting a new car or perhaps finding a 100 dollar bill on the sidewalk, but gladness cannot be found in buying a car or for anything that we might find at Dillard’s or Wal-Mart. Gladness is at odds with being happy! Gladness only comes from a heart of praise centered on the giver of that gladness: Jesus Christ.
This gladness doesn’t come easily for us. We all fail at connecting into that source of gladness much of the time. I’ve been thinking about Peter’s relationship with the Lord over the past few days. Peter represents so many of us. He always seemed to misinterpret God’s heart, seemed to be ‘behind the 8 ball’ so often. He was just a ‘goof-ball’ for the most part. Peter always seemed to be cross-wise of the Truth. In Matthew 16:22, in spite of words directly from Jesus’ own mouth that he would be killed, Peter predicted Jesus would not be killed. According to Peter, in no wise, in no case would that happen. But, it did. In Matthew 26, Peter declared he would rather die than deny Jesus. Peter, with that silly confidence of his, that famous bravado of his, offered to lay down his own life before deserting Jesus. But Peter absolutely denied him, not once but three times! Said he did not know Jesus, had never met him, had nothing to do with Jesus! Likewise, Peter, matter-of-factly, said that Jesus would never wash his feet. Jesus did exactly what Peter said he would not permit. It was Peter that sank into the sea, letting his mind wonder as he approached the Lord. Peter the great fisherman who caught no fish and marveled at the suggestions Jesus made to him to try and fish just on the ‘other side’ of the boat. You can just image the look on Peter’s face when the empty nets were filled to the full by taking this ‘carpenter’s’ advice. Thomas said he would not believe but he did. In John 6:66, Mark 3:21, and John 7:5, we find the disciples deserting Jesus and that his own brother did not believe him. In spite of the imperfections of all the disciples, God did not need them to be perfect people to accomplish His goals. He does not need that today! That should give all us hope. It seems that all of us come up short on this ‘spiritual stuff’. Einstein once said that men only use about 10% of their brain capacity. I sometimes think that might be a high figure in comparison to our ‘spiritual’ capacity. Haven’t we all been discouraged on occasion when our friends abandon us? In Gethsemane, they could not even pray for an hour as the world crashed in on Jesus emotionally.
We live in a time of bad news and ‘badder’ news all the time. Discouragement gets handed out like candy. Everywhere you go, in most everything you read and in much of what you hear: disappointment. But, it’s that ‘it did happen’ part found above that I remember so often. Even though everything seemed to be going wrong, and it all seemed against Jesus, the Father’s heart won out.
There was a product a few years ago called Slick 50. Stuff cost about $40 dollars a bottle. Just by adding it to the oil of your car, this stuff promised to ‘tune up the engine.’ Slick 50 was ‘some kind of good stuff.’ You could only get it from people, you know friends that went into the Slick 50 business. They actually promised that Slick 50 could protect your engine even if it lost all the oil out of your car while driving down the road. Why, you could drive 50 miles with no oil in your car without causing any damage to that engine! Pretty powerful stuff that Slick 50. As you might have guessed by now, I bought a quart of that promise! I can’t tell you if it worked. My car was running pretty well before I purchase it and ‘running better’ was not possible for me to measure. I just always figured the next owner of that car got the hidden benefit of having a car with Slick 50 in it.
Like our cars, which need periodic service, we need something added to us as well. If we run on just what came ‘directly from the factory’ we’ll not make it. Oh, we’ll make it at some level of ‘existence.’ We’ll exist like a tree exists or an animal exists, but we will not experience the fullness of what we were made to do with out adding something. On our car, we’ll need to occasionally change the oil, grease the bearings, put in new plugs and belts. Adding Christ into our lives does that necessary maintenance for us. I don’t think we do that just once, but over and over in our lives.
We need the encouragement of God to ‘Slick 50’ us up. The Father said there would come a time of being ‘rejected by all men.’ We need to remember that there’s a supernatural Rest to be found in those times of rejection and trouble. Matthew 11 illustrates such a time for Jesus. He had experienced the cheering crowds and performed great miracles. But even John (‘whom he loved’) questioned whether he really was the Christ. Jesus was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard (verse 19). So what does Jesus choose to teach his friends while in the middle of all this rejection? “Come to me all those who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you Rest.” That’s what we encourage at WBVN. In this world we need to expect ‘gladness’ even in the mist of rejection and times of trouble. There’s an abiding gladness that does not depend on what we have to live in or what we drive around in but a gladness that depends on what we have in our hearts.
That sounds so hard to attain sometimes. Yet the hard part is just being willing to yield to the Spirit of God and enter into His life for us. Because of the political, social and financial influences, that step seems to get harder to take. And, try as we do, we’re not perfect at attaining that dependence much of the time. However, each time we do yield to His Rest it’s easier to trust and abide in it the next troubled time. We just need to try it one moment at a time and see that the Lord is good! We will learn to praise, not to get anything, but because of what we already have. A little praise in our hearts occasionally, leads to a chorus of praise in our lives eventually.
“Praise the Lord! O my soul! …I do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation…glad is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” (Psalms 146)
Gladness is declared to consist of having the God of Jacob for our help. For almost 17 years now, we’ve called ourselves ‘the gift of FM 104.5.’ We don’t say that because WBVN is ‘the gift.’ The message that we share is ‘the Gift.’ Paul was teaching on Mars Hill and declared, “men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects…I found an alter with the inscription ‘to an unknown God.’ What you worship in ignorance, this (God) I proclaim to you. The God who made the world…does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands as though He needed anything…; and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth…that they should seek Him…for in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:24-28) There, right there and only there, can you find gladness! Not in men (friends, family, anyone!) but in Him!
That’s what we wish to bring to our community each day. We need that gladness added to our lives each day. Unlike that bottled Slick 50, I know this ‘Slick 50’ works for anyone that adds it to their daily experience. It is not possible for it to fail because God is good! You might say, ‘well, how can we be sure of that?’ I’d answer that like this: Occasionally someone will ask me, ‘what’s your favorite scripture verse?’ Actually, it’s rather short. And, it’s not any verse that you might think I would choose. I’ve always valued it because is seems to me to show the very heart of God. Jesus says it as Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James enter His tomb. It was the first thing that He said after the resurrection, “Go, tell the disciples and Peter.” Peter had denied him, had failed Him so often. I’m sure that Peter was depressed having lost the leader of this movement, but also Peter had failed Jesus in so many ways, misinterpreted so often, misrepresented so often and I can just hear Christ say with His heart “go tell the disciples and Peter, especially Peter”. It’s Jesus, taking so much care to understand and encourage a ‘failed and discouraged’ friend. I think that’s the heart of God about us as well. That’s why we enjoy and value so much the opportunity to share the Gospel over this radio station.