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May Newsletter-Memories

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The last few months I’ve been writing about thirty years of concert memories, not just the onstage but the backstage as well. This month’s letter is not artist memories, but memories just the same. Do you remember your first memory? The very first thing you can just see in your mind when you pull out the memory file in your brain? Mine has always been easy to remember. I was about 3 years old, my mother and father rented a house on what was called the Martin Odum Hill. My first filed away memory was of me and our two terrier dogs (Snoopy and Poochie) playing under the porch. That porch went all the way across the front of the house and rose away from the ground so that it was easy for someone my height and two dogs to play in the dirt. The dirt was dry and soft because the dogs slept there and kept it in perfect condition for a little cowboy to spend the afternoon. The house was located west of the Springhill Church in the community of Palzo, South of Crab Orchard. My grandfather, Parker Holmes, was the postmaster there and ran a general store near his home (just like Ike’s in the Walton’s TV series). I still have one Palzo cancelled envelope that was given to me by my grandmother.

Another early memory is of the church at Springhill. There, I remember sitting in Dennis Tanner’s Sunday school class and actually listening. Some of the others kids (I won’t incriminate them by giving names) were passing notes, giggling and whispering. Sharing chewing gum seemed to be a big church thing in that class. Even then, I was serious and attentive about the Gospel. Those church memories take me back to a unique day when I was 16 years old. I remember that afternoon I was washing my red with black interior, two door, 1962 Impala. It was a sunny Saturday and I’m washing that car and I had tears in my eyes. Something was going on inside my heart. L.G. Hartley was holding a revival in the church that week and I knew, deep inside I knew, if I went to church that night I was a ‘goner’. As it turned out, I went. Dale Beasley, who was sitting behind me that evening, put his hand on my shoulder, never said a word, but the next thing I remember is standing down front, I don’t remember how I got there. After that, Leslie Hartley and I became good friends. I was a teenager, he was in his 80’s and a retired pastor. I became his chauffer for nighttime church meetings around the area. Those road trips ended up changing my life. To this day, I’ve never met any other man like L.G. Hartley.

For many years after that, I became quiet about my faith; my belief was alive, but silent. When I was about 35 years old something went off inside me again. All of a sudden I couldn’t study enough; I read lexicons, concordances like they were great novels. Studying more lead to hearing more, those lead to following my heart more. Memories can be markers that identify special times and changes, moments similar to Robert Frost’s poem ‘the road less traveled’, places where our lives take on a new direction. I’ll now skip to 1987; it was another ‘road less traveled’ decision.

That year, someone, knowing how much the Gospel meant to me, asked me if I’d ever thought about getting into Christian radio. This part of the story would take far too much room than this letter can give so I’ll use to the short-cut version. My answer: No, I had not. I didn’t want to even think about the risk involved with something like that. One, because of the insecurity it created for my wife and three daughters. Secondly, I had no skills for broadcasting, speaking or engineering. I would be for the most part a fish out of water. Third, there were no financial resources to even begin that kind of project. You can’t imagine how little finances Jane and I had, and Christian radio would be a pretty big undertaking. I was pretty much exhibiting the spirit of Jonah at that time. The person making that suggestion didn’t know that just a few days earlier I had walked down the hall to my boss’s office to knock on his office door and tell him I wouldn’t be able to stay on the job much longer. I didn’t know what ‘not going to be able to stay’ meant, but I knew that it was true. For some reason, I didn’t knock. I turned around and went back to my office and simply prayed, asked God to calm me down on the inside. Something was going on inside that I’ve often described as ‘being with child’ and a birthing needed to take place. Had I left that job position on the day I went to resign, the next step in the creation of a WBVN would never have had a chance to happen; from my standpoint, one of the early miracles in BVN’s history.

Then, within weeks, a man gave me $5000 and told me to do with it whatever I wished. A few days later, the suggestion about creating a radio station was mentioned to me again. An AM station had become available for purchase. After that I began to pay attention to the idea more and more. Jane and I did attempt to purchase the AM station, the attempt failed. Actually Jane and I learned about the failure at midnight the day we had signed the purchase contract. One moment we thought we owned a station and the next I was simply unemployed. Amazingly, almost immediately a second radio opportunity presented itself. The FCC opened up the possibility of a new FM. Pretty soon I had contracted an FCC attorney in Washington to help make an application. I had left my job, was unemployed, and I had a big, fat loan approved for starting a new FM station, but no real station and no real skills to do one. From there, I could literally stack miracles on top of miracles. The incidents were so numerous and obvious that Jane and I could not find excuses to run from what seemed to be going on. Things were happening without us initiating many of them. Impossible things became possible. Those didn’t happen because we were special, they were happening because the Father getting His Grace message to you was special. We were just willing; He was enabling.

Since we began the station in January, 1990, our ministry story would contain mentions of hundreds, perhaps thousands of miracles. Instead of a marker every few years, there would be markers almost every week. Literally, there’s not enough space and not enough time to list them here. In many ways, I can’t even describe the life of WBVN. Years ago I wrote a family history document for my daughters to read about their father’s life, a short little summary of my history. The first half of my life was easy to write about. When I came to the part about Christian radio, I haven’t added one sentence further in that document. It’s just too big, too amazing, for words to express. It’s been so overwhelming it would be hard to argue against the reality of God’s hand being on what we’ve seen with this ministry. WBVN has not been something accomplished by our abilities but something that happened simply by following His lead. So much of what is now BVN was not planned or easily explained. Much has just simply been discovered along the way of walking with Christ Spirit. Again this year our story has been amazing. Covid had changed so many lives and certainly had its gut punch to the station. Our announcers have an isolated work area, and everyone has their unique schedule, headset, mic cover and very little contact with the others announcers. The office doors are locked; there are no concerts (we love concerts). As I write this letter, we’ve had one DJ hospitalized for some length of time, two of the staff have had surgery incidents to manage through. Add to that, being a listener supported station while many of our listeners are financially stressed. Yet we’re still here for 2021. The kindnesses and help from our listeners is one of those continuing miracles we’ve experience again this year.

Memories. We began on January 8th, 1990, with two announcers and 7 volunteers that helped run the audio board, one each evening. That was long before doing 213 concerts. So much has happened that we never imagined. Even today, as I write this letter and describe these memories, faces and names flash across my mind of people we’ve met along the way that have become part of the pleasure of doing radio. Artists, lyrics, stories from our listeners, testimonies of how those artists and lyrics have changed people’s lives, all those have been powerful moments and memories. I’ve always said ministry is addictive. Once you’ve experience how ministry changes lives, or hear about how a song can change the whole day for someone, you want to do it again and again. Loving God and loving people is following Christ. When believers experience a simple smile from someone affected by their having given compassionate care, they experience encouragement a hundred fold in their lives as well.

I’ll mention one more of my early memories that I’ve always found interesting. At the time it was an incident that seemed so misplaced, now not so much. I was in my teens. I had gone with my cousins to visit some of their friends. While we were there the mother of that family said to me, ‘You should be on the radio.’ She explained that she was teasing that because I pronounced my ‘ings,’ therefore, I should be on the radio. Instead of huntin’ I said hunting, instead of goin’ I said going, and instead of hunerd I said hundred. Her statement was a bit shocking back then, so shocking it’s become one of those markers in my memory. It crossed my mind that day that this shy, scaredy-cat kid was never going to be on the radio. Sometimes it still sounds strange to me even today. But, maybe Gatha knew something on the inside of her that day; something so impossible did become possible because God cares immensely about you

April Newsletter-Jesus Behold

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Jesus Happens:
Now this is just my opinion, it and $4 might get you a Starbucks. Why didn’t God just sit down one guy (ok, or girl) and have him or her write the New Testament? Why Mathew, Mark, Luke and John? Why Paul? Using one author certainly would have simplified the manual and be enough to share one Message, one person’s opinion from beginning to end. To me, using 40 authors and 1500 years to share His story points to the Wisdom of God revealed again. The Creator knows the created, knows each is different from the other. And, God sees the beginning, the middle and the end all in one frame. To Him, each human life is like reading a novel, He can describe the current moment, the past, and look a few pages further and tell you the future. You’ve heard the phrase ‘all knowing’ applied to God all your life. Part of the all knowing/wisdom is being aware that each person will hear and see things differently. Result: Mathew, Mark, Luke and John each describing the same thing but in somewhat different manners. Because God was revealed progressively, I always prefer to read the Bible backwards. Paul is my go to guy, and of the four Gospels, I like to read John the best. Paul just speaks my language for some reason. I can say that about John, similarly. Simply put, Jesus happens when we behold him. Each Biblical author’s writing is in so many ways trying to permit that to happen to whosoever will.

I need to express what I’m not saying. I’m not saying all the world’s religious belief systems are the same or OK. I’m not saying all are right and made for each individual. Abram was a moon worshiper until he found the One True God. Then Abram dropped everything and followed Yahweh. Knowing God, Abram became Abraham or Abram with the name of God attached (breath). This God was not one from Abram’s imagination. Likewise, the God that is I Am is not a morality or an ethic. Yahweh is not simply a God defining Good and Evil. He’s Creator. He knows all things; He is Wisdom, Love and the One God, only true God. We can make up many gods, most often creating them in our image. But He (Father, Son and Spirit) existed on the other side of creation, sits outside of what we refer to as the cosmic universe.

I had a friend years ago suggest to me that the writings of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John were similar to each looking at a different side of a mountain; same mountain but each author was expressing a different way of describing it. It’s interesting that God had 40 authors write Scripture. Each is describing the same thing but in a different manner. The four Gospels seem like that to me. It’s interesting to read the first red lettered words in each. They are all different. Jesus’ first statement in Matthew is about Jesus’ role of fulfilling Righteousness. In Mark the first Jesus statement is about the Kingdom of God. Luke’s first red letters refer to Jesus being about His Father’s business. And, my favorite, is Jesus’ first words in John, ‘What do you seek?’ My favorite because the original language implies this is a question, not posed just to the disciples, but to every man/woman ever birthed. Sometimes I listen to the music we play and realize that one song speaks specifically to a person and it’s possible that 3 minutes later another song will hit home with someone else, meeting their unique needs. I have no idea how many times I’ve had a song come across my desk and think to myself, ‘That’s not really what I was looking for or imagining,’ but I go ahead and send it through anyway. And when it rotates it gets more calls than the 10 other songs I added that month.

The Bible is written to reveal God to us but also written to reveal God in us. It’s His attempt to share Who He is and also what He does. It’s the manual to learning how to participate in our salvation. It’s God’s attempt, through what Jesus did, to tell us what’s true about us. Jesus is referenced all the way from Genesis through Revelation. The Bible is inside surgery. It heals us from our heart outward. I once had a small surgery and they left the wound open, no stitches. They told me they did that because the wound heals from the inside out. God’s healing begins in the same place, He is in us. It’s interesting that, as far as I can remember, all Jesus’ miracles were transformations rather than creations. He took broken things and changed them to healed things. He redeemed the already existing into the new. Even in the first words of Genesis:
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created (bara: using non pre-existing material) the heaven and the earth.
Gen 1:2 And the earth was (i.e., became waste and ruin)( has reference to Ezek. 28:11-17) without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved (brooded) upon the face of the waters.

That story of the beginning of heaven and earth was true about creation and it’s a story that remains true about each of our lives as well. Originally, we were created to be in the relationship with God; Adam voided that environment and Jesus’ work recreated us from the material of our old state into a new one. Again, he takes broken things and transforms them into redeemed/healed things…you and me.

For over 30 years at WBVN we have had the opportunity to experience what we have in common with our listeners and concert attendees. Jesus is common to each. Many may have some differences in expression, just like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but all are believers, each perhaps just using a few different words to express that love for God. Here, we do not try to discover and push our differences. I have a dear friend that, when he and I talk about the Gospel, the vocabulary we use is not very similar at all. He loves God passionately; he proves that every day of his life. We both know God and we each express the God that we agree sent Jesus, raised Jesus from the dead, and shares Heaven with an alive Jesus right now. As those four Gospel writers did, each of our expressions permits someone to hear the Gospel in their unique manner. Like the different songs, each person has the opportunity to respond to DC Talk’s ‘Jesus Freak’ or Christy Nockels’ ‘Holy Over Me’. Remember when Jesus said, ‘Who has ears to hear, let them hear’? You know they all had those little floppy things on the side of their heads. But, what Jesus was saying was, in spite of all having physical ears let those that can mentally/in their hearts hear this. Some could, some could not; but to those that could, do so. I think he was saying, I’ll find another way, use different words, a while later for the others. Scottish author and Bible teacher George McDonald once said, ‘In the future we will be amazed at what we now believe about God. Until then, we can give others respect and grace until we come to truly fully beholding Him.’

One of my favorite BVN things to do is sell concert tickets out of my office. It’s an opportunity to meet people who listen to the station. They represent many denominations stopping by. Never once a question about which denomination they or I hang our hat on. I’m very grateful for that. We each have a library of experiences and expression about the Gospel but none of that separates us from one another. In these days we live in, it seems important that in the very near future Christians are going to have to gather together, respecting one another in order to protect one another. Differences which are associated with which side of the mountain we’re looking can simply melt into ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’. As Big Daddy Weave sings, ‘I Believe’ we all can have that in common.

March Newsletter-The Refuge

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January 8th, 1990, WBVN was birthed. Long time ago, lots of songs, lyrics, scripture, teachings, and so we’ve been told, much encouragement and inspiration. Now, we step into a new year. Enough has been said about 2020 that I won’t go into the last year but choose to share a Hope about the new one. I capitalize Hope because I’m referring to something bigger and grander than a simple hope or wish. The Hope of 2021 I’m referring to is the Hope that lives within you. Doesn’t always feel that way does it? Occasionally, I hear people say it’s hard to have any hope anymore with all the stuff that’s going on in the world. That comment always brings a bit of response in my heart that, in the reality of Jesus Christ, the Father and the Spirit, Hope’s not hard to find but it takes effort for sure. Our faith says Jesus came specifically to reveal a new Life, to reveal God as no one else had ever revealed Him before. Jesus (the Word) the creator of the universe came to bring a new creation. He came to restore the damage to His original ‘work’ of creation and undo the disarray of the world B.C. He did not come to try and do that, He came to accomplish that whether anyone believed that or not. The Garden of Eden had released a corrosive corruption. Men’s hearts were pulled away from God, seduced by a suggestion that God’s holding out on you. Humanity said: let’s do our own thing physically, soulishly, and spiritually. A whisper entered the Garden saying man can do more for man than God was willing to do. (Interestingly, that same idea is prevalent still today.) Men could be their own remedy, approve their own thoughts and polish and shine the cultures of the earth to perfection. Man could by the very nature of his brain and self-righteous heart establish man and society to their own image, their ideas being superior to God’s ideas. They would come to a place, prophetically according to God, that their ways would be good and His ways would be bad!

In the Book of Revelation the 7 churches enumerated could be summarized like this: we got this, we can, we will. Emphasizing we instead of He. The first sin was not apple eating, it was thinking they could be gods…they could accomplish Zoe-Life by themselves and, who knows, perhaps God would watch, be impressed and would applaud.

Today, as much as anytime ever before, we stand in front of three doors similar to the Price is Right folks: door number one, there is no savior, number two, we are the savior, door number three, He is our Savior. I mentioned in the last newsletter, man doing the best for man, we can provide the answers for body, soul and spirit; that’s the spirit of 666. I have a one word reference for the environment we live in today: revealing. All things are being revealed. People’s inner hearts are coming forward without fear of any consequences. Prophetically, today, perhaps more than ever before, ‘we will know them by their fruit.’

In 1990, WBVN came specifically to encourage. In times like these, perhaps that’s even more important than when we started. Don’t misunderstand my comments, we see the same conflicts in our world as you see. Does our heart break to think of this world so robust to separate itself from the Love of God? Yes it does. Has that been announced and declared by God in man’s future? I’m afraid so. We live in a world that has educated the most people ever, has more communication than ever before. Man’s knowledge is skyrocketing and still with all that, we find ourselves not having progressed but having fallen back into Old Testament patterns. In my opinion, the most elite society is also the most lost humanity since the Garden. For sure, as believers we need to be active in our environment, try to make a difference. BVN is built on that principle. Also, we need to be careful and not be moved to be discouraged or fearful. Our environment, what we see and hear, should not challenge our Faith. There are literally an infinite number of things to do about the Gospel, Christianity as a whole has thousands of activities that appropriately need our help and support. This ministry sees and hears everything that’s going on around us, the same as you do. That said, we also don’t see the world through rosy-colored glasses just to look positive or ignore the facts. We get it, it’s a tough world. And, without Love, Christ Himself identified the world as fearful for sure. As a radio ministry we can point out all that’s wrong, and there’s plenty. But, in what we believe to be in line with our first mission-vision in 1990, we came to encourage you to believe. We applaud all kinds of Church activities and The Church needs a multitude of actions to fight against all the various ways anti-Christ splashes out into our daily lives and cultures. Callings are anointed and callings are specific and need to be followed for sure. When we first began WBVN we didn’t write down every idea we had about ministry. We simply chose to proceed into ministry expecting things to happen along the way creating an obvious path to follow as we advanced in what has now been over thirty years.. Following the Spirit doesn’t require a goal or script; it needs a willingness to travel in unique ways and unimagined tomorrows. Abraham had no clue about anything except “Go”.

What to do at this moment? We choose to believe, believe to the point of knowing not hoping, He will never leave us, never separate Himself from us. The world can and always has been against Christ’s coming, His appearing and His coming back. Christ Jesus calmly told us as they hated Him, they would hate you. The Spirit of anti-Christ is talented in giving people good causes and hiding his anti-Christ motives underneath them. I’ve always maintained that I think Christ’s return will look exactly like His first appearing, His death and His resurrection. The spirit of anti-Christ will be cheering in the streets, ‘we crucified Him, we’ve won, and God is dead.’ It will look like it’s over just like it did on that hill 2000 years ago. Rome ruled over the faithful then, and in some way, Rome again is trying to rule again today. Imagine how the believers must have felt the day of and after the cross.

The anchor to this newsletter is this:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government (true authority in the earth) shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal (passion) of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isa. 9:6-7)

We need to believe that no matter our environment. 2Cor. 5:7 refers to living by Faith, not by sight. The Greek word used there for sight is only used once in the whole New Testament so it’s very specific and with emphasis on the actual external, physical seeing, not seeing with our imaginations. Mathew 4:4 instructs us to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, therefore: for unto us a child is born…to order it and establish it…the passion of the Lord will perform it.

The world thinks it’s going to get rid of Jesus and get good, get better. That’s a deception, an old deception as old as the Garden. The Word of God doesn’t express that, rather it describes a world of chaos where He must return to save it from itself. That’s door number three again, Jesus Christ is that powerful. He’s that powerful even when the world we see and hear looks the opposite of that Scripture. We know He will perform it! He will see to it. That’s the good news, that’s what we see, what we hear, and that’s better that what the world is saying and doing. In John 6:28-29 they ask Jesus what works should they do to perform the works of God? Jesus replied, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He hath sent.’ Believe, trust, follow; welcome to that world. As Stephen Curtis Chapman sang,

Let’s follow our leader into the glorious unknown
this is a Life like no other, whoa, whoa this is the great adventure.

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