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Yearly Archives: 2014

August newsletter-Rushes and Mire

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“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).  The good news is it all brought forth fruit, anywhere it was sown, and that’s the story of Jesus Christ.

“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.”  Mire!  That’s what we all are experiencing in some way or another.  It comes in a thousand different recipes but it’s ugly, it’s gooey and it sticks!  Just showing up in this fallen world qualifies you for a bit of mire and muck in your life.

Jesus often met people in the mire, in their darkness, and he did something about their lives.  In fact most all the miracles were expressed to the lost, the least, the last.  People stuck in their mire if you will.  Tax collectors, the blind, the lame, the sick, the poor, the hungry, the brokenhearted, the lonely outcast-all stuck in the unpleasantness this life can bring.  Perhaps the most stuck guy in the bunch was Saul and his murderous attitude against the Christian Faith.  Paul went from violently persecuting the Church, from overseeing the stoning of Stephen, to Apostle.  All that Jesus touched were raised up out of their unique situations and given ‘newness of Life.’  God makes Life out of mire!  He makes something beautiful out of ugly, gooey and sticky.  Not necessarily overnight, but with time.  As those seeds are sown they will need to have some rest, some quiet, will need to be hidden away in the ground before they are visible above the ground. In Jesus’ parable, the farmer planted and went away, not looking back, but leaving that hidden seed to work its way to the surface and be seen.  Many times our lives will need that same procedure as well.  If you plant and immediately start rooting around, rummaging for proof of a crop, you will destroy the very crop that is hoped for.  Left to itself, given time to germinate, left undisturbed, it will produce new Life, some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred fold, but a harvest will come no matter; all that can come out of the rotting, decomposing things of our lives.  Don’t give up.  Jesus came to overcome the mire and bring us Life.

Bildad’s rushes were actually reeds that grew along the Nile River bank.  Just to look at them, you might not have a clue as to what a great benefit they were to that culture.  However, they truly played a significant part in people’s daily lives and carried significant value because they had so 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 many times they were crushed and made into papyrus paper.  Moses, who as a baby was hidden in the rushes, eventually used the reed papyrus paper to write the first books of the Bible.  Amazingly, the Egyptians advanced their culture above all others of that time because of their ability to write and pass their thoughts and way of living down to the next generation.  Simply, without those rushes we would have had no books, no written narrative or literature from their history.  Just as importantly, however, there would not have been any rushes without the “muck” in the bottom of that Nile River bank.  Yep, muck!  That mire turned out to be pretty important stuff.  It was located about 6 feet below the rushes.  In its own unique way it was miracle stuff.  Muck is a coagulation of dead things, dead things that produce life.  Today it could be compared to the stuff you’ve felt between your toes if you’ve ever been brave enough to step out into a farm pond.  It looks and smells terrible.  It’s 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 the reed!  Another way to say it is to have good reeds you gotta have “muck.”

Just like Bildad, we believe that “out of good soil others shall grow.”  Our declaration is it’s God’s desire to grow Life out of the daily muck we may come in contact with, make something new out of something dead, bringing Life to life.  Even in the middle of muck, there is still hope for Life to spring out of that darkness.  Jesus’ implication all along was that we would need to bury our lives in order to see a risen Life.  We would have to die to our own mire in order for our new Lives to come forth.

WBVN “sets the table” for all 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.  Our prayer is that the Christian community would be mixed with encouragement and faith, that apostolic ministry would follow to lead us in the Spirit of Christ, that teachers would come and plant Word seed, that pastors would care for the community of faith, and that the evangelists would inspire healings in the Church Life and the dead would be brought to Life.   Of all people, we who believe in Christ and all that He did to provide Life as the Father would have it for us, we have the most Hope.

From all of us at the station we wish you a great summer and hope to see you at the concerts this fall. Thank you for supporting and praying for this ministry.

for KING & COUNTRY with Aaron R. Smith

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July newsletter-Chicago

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It was over two years ago.  Most remember the situation.  It was on the first day of Spring Celebration, March 21st, 2012.  Jane was suddenly very sick.  Within 10 days she would be paralyzed head to toe, on a ventilator.  She could not communicate, could not blink an eye and every system in her body was shut down with only artificial means to function.  Physically, she was in a very, very bad condition.  And, while we have said lots of things about that during and after her experience with GBS, we always had difficulty trying to express ourselves completely about what our Christian life was like at that exact time.

I was actually listening to a teaching about what happened to Jesus on the cross and some of the words expressed by the teacher triggered, ‘Yes!  That’s how it was, that’s exactly how it was!’  The illustration used was how Jesus, by hanging and dying on the cross, symbolically, walked up to the edge of the darkness, looked over the edge and jumped!  Free fell into the darkness; could not see the bottom of the pit kind of that darkness.  He jumped into it!  What happened in that free fall?  When Jesus lay down his life he was human, looking at death and the darkness of that death with Faith and Hope, but still seeing it for all of its fear and darkness, an Adam kind of fear.  The obvious answer to my question is he met the Father there.  We know from Psalm 22 exactly what happened to Jesus, the exact description of the cross of Christ is expressed by David’s psalm.  It is too long to repeat here but the rejection, the thoughts and the pain are clearly expressed in Psalm 22 in explicit detail.  It, and its continuation in the 23rd Psalm, is exactly what Jesus experienced.

In actuality, Jesus jumped off into that darkness of death and was embraced by the reassuring arms of his Father.  Any fear, doubt or angst was just an illusion, an illusion dispelled by that embrace.  That’s the kind of words I was looking for about Jane’s and my experience two years ago.  When we were free falling into what could have been fear, doubt and darkness, the Father was there.  Certainty is a good descriptive word to use, certain that we were in the embrace of the Father and we were present with Him in some real and tangible way.  That darkness was not darkness.  Any fears at the beginning of the experience were illusions.  At the temptations of Jesus he was offered illusions.  The One who holds all things together (He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  Colossians 1:17) was rejected and killed by the very Creation that he created.  He was called names, accused of being demon possessed, alienated, betrayed by his brethren, denied by friends, and mocked, beaten and shamed.  At his crucifixion, the illusion was that it was all over.  His following had dwindled.  Jesus was killed with only a few women and one apostle present.  The illusion was that the movement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was dying as he was dying.  But all that was an illusion, not real, not what was really going on.  Actually, the one that thought he had defeated God was actually being defeated.

In Christ, what goes on in our lives in moments of great fear is illusion as well. He does not leave us alone.  He is present in our free falls.  Many times we have to lean into the darkness to find the hand that is present there.  I’m not talking about being happy, content or embracing our hurt, sickness or pain; I am talking about leaning into those experiences with a Faith and Expectation of Him being in that moment with us.  That free fall was what I could not articulate about Jane’s experience.  Once in it, we leaned further into the things that we could not see to find His hand in the middle of it.  The Holy Spirit is there to teach us who we are at those times so that we can find His presence no matter what we are going through.  I heard a teacher explain one time that Jesus has been tempted and pressured in every way we are.  And, because of all he suffered on earth, when we cry, He tastes the salt.  In Chicago we got to experience and see the Father just as Jesus sees Him:  compassionate, caring, embracing, always present, and we jumped off into the middle of it.

Let me end with this side note.  We are going to experience the sufferings of Christ in this world.  Those sufferings are not about being sick, He never was.  It does not mean we will suffer wrath at the hand of God; He is love, and has no shadow or turning in Him! He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  It does mean, however, we will perhaps suffer the emotions of being alone, we will know the feelings of being rejected, it will sometimes look like we are in hopeless situations, we will be accused of terrible things, sometimes unjustly, sometimes by family and friends, we will be bullied, called all kinds of names and be rejected because of our Hope and Peace we have found in Christ.  Those are the sufferings of Christ.  The broken-heartedness of that will hurt and be painful, but if we believe the Father loves us, cares about us and won’t give up on us, if we believe that, it will trump those terrible experiences and we can experience Peace in the middle of the storms of this life.

In 2012, we literally made a decision to believe in the Father’s Love no matter the darkness.  Our war was a war he had already won.  Our relationship was one already prepared for us by the death and resurrection of Christ.  I remember sitting in a very small waiting room just down the hall from Jane while the nurses did some routine things to her that I just preferred not to watch.  You know- 14 blood draws a day, needle things and other terrible procedures.  It was about 6:00 a.m.  as our days began about that time every morning.  Jane required that the room stay so cold and I found this little room with just one single little window of sunlight to sit in, get warm by.  That morning it became ‘perfectly’ clear to me that Jane was His child, was someone He loved more than even a husband could, and that she was His possession, was in His hands and we both were going to be in partnership with the Creator of the Universe.   That morning I leaped….guess what I found!

Charlie Peacock has a lyric that runs: ‘you can only possess what you experience; truth to be understood must be lived.’  In this life we will all get chances to have to use what we believe.  What are we to do with our Faith in those moments?