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May Newsletter-Baptism

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Back in 1989, as we worked on starting the ministry of WBVN, people would occasionally ask how I could have any confidence that people would support a Christian Radio station with voluntary financial contributions.  It wasn’t a very pleasant time for ministry; four national ministries had been exposed for huge financial or moral failures.  Because of those failures, expecting people to share with broadcast ministry was pretty tough and not overly encouraging at the time.  We were swimming upstream against a current of believer frustration and mistrust.  Often, to answer their question, I remember telling a story about a dog to illustrate how we could possibly move forward.  More about that dog story later. It was perhaps the worst of times, but there never really are any perfect times.

On March 9th, 2014 our 9 year old grandson was baptized.  Parker rose up out of the water and, in his very unique fashion, raised both arms and gave us two thumbs up.  As with all that were baptized that day, those present shouted with joy and clapped with appropriate excitement.  There were others baptized that day.  It’s always so exciting to see people declare their allegiance to Christ Jesus and symbolically be raised to a new Life in baptism.  Everyone seemed to sense a special moment as those two thumbs broke the air.  Each of us knew that Parker was making a joyful expression; an expression that all of us gathered there participated in.  This letter however is not just about Parker; it’s also about those present to witness those baptisms.  Why was it even possible that we all received?  What made that moment possible, not just for 5 people, but for each one of us?

We were, in fact, in the middle of a few hundred believers and each one carries a deposit of the Spirit of God within them.  That’s what we all experienced that Sunday morning, what we witnessed.  Not only was our grandson ‘moved’ by the Spirit of Adoption on his Life, each person attending expressed that same Spirit at that very same moment.  We all experienced the Love of God- a tangible Love of God.  Each person that was baptized as well as those simply present were in an ‘out-pouring’.   Not only one to be expressed as ‘down from Heaven’, but an out-pouring from within.  Every believer is capable of that happening, and not just at baptisms, but uniquely and daily.  In 1990, during our first week of broadcasting, we played a song from an artist named Roby Duke, the song ‘Love Carrier’, and it described the reality of the Spirit of God with us, in us.  Everyone in the presence of that Sunday morning baptism discovered that we’re ‘able’ to know and live with a witness of the Spirit just as in that ‘thumbs up moment’.parker

I remember encouraging people over the years that what we took upon ourselves when we believed Jesus Christ was not a responsibility to be perfect (in our own ability), but we received the ability-to-respond: an ability to receive and take part in His Spirit.  It has been placed right there in our hearts.  The Spirit of God took up a presence, an indwelling, that stays with us forever!  And, as we place a toe in the water of His experience, we become aware and immersed in the reality of the Presence of His Life, His Love, and His Spirit.  We carry that ability-to-respond with us not just on Sunday morning, but Monday through Saturday as well.  The Father has placed Blessing into our lives with the placement of Himself in our hearts.  What happened on that March morning was that the Holy Spirit witnessed or confirmed the presence of the Christ Spirit that has been place within each of our lives.  He confirmed that because of that Spirit living in our hearts, that same Spirit has given each the capacity of being led into all Truth, in this case, into the affirmation of the Spirit of God living inside each of us who believe.

What happened to each person there, what was manifest, was that while we are all aware of being a body and having a soul, we also were proved to have an alive and active Spirit inside us that finds expression whenever we permit that to occur.  We forgot ourselves for a moment; we forgot what bills might need to be paid, forgot our backaches and our heartaches and just experienced Him.  Parker got baptized and we got showered with the blessing of that experience.  In Christ, that’s who we really are.  We’ve just forgotten that!  We have been given that ability-to-respond and express His heart.  And, while it’s not going to happen overnight or from just one experience, it’s possible for the Spirit to dominate our lives, not just for a moment, but for more and more.  What happened that one time has the potential to happen lots of times.  That morning, what did we do to make it happen? Nothing!  For just a moment, we simply got in touch with our hearts rather than our heads.  That ‘stuff’ is in you because He is in you.  Over the years I’ve made statements about the Father where (I guess I would say) I experienced something where I just paused and realized ‘I didn’t know I knew that’.  Those things are buried in our hearts and come to the surface every now and then as we learn to trust and believe.  What would our own little worlds be like if we could live like that more and more each day?  It’s not impossible; it’s just that it’s a journey to get there.  We can make progress each day but we will not get there in just one day.  It’s not even a destination as far as I can see.  Every time we see Him for Who He really is we are changed, every time we experience Him more and more, being changed into His Image as we live forward.  Now, we see in part.  But we can at least clean our glasses a bit.  If you’re in Christ and He is in you, you possess that potential, are given the ability-to-respond as a gift from His Spirit.

Now, that dog story?  Suppose that dog had swallowed a diamond ring?  Would he be even more ‘wonderful’ than just any other old German shepherd?  Now, that dog might not know it, but he would be unlike the dog he was before swallowing that ring.  He would (at least for my illustration) carry it around inside. More than likely, he would be unaware of it or its value.  Believers are a bit like that.  That’s how I looked at making a decision to start the radio station.  While we had no guarantee that people would help, we knew something that believers might not even know themselves.  We knew that the Spirit of God has been placed in them.  And, while they might walk around without knowing that diamond was in them, if we could get them in contact with that Spirit, they would respond to the ministry.  We came to encourage them to find who they really are.  Many have done just that.  They know in their hearts to respond to that Spirit and be ‘other minded’, sharing with WBVN thereby sharing with others.  That dog was more precious for having swallowed that diamond.  You have the treasure of the true and living Christ within you.  All you need to do is get in contact with what you all ready have.  Parker’s two thumbs up brought our hearts to the surface for that moment and it exposed what lives within each believer’s heart.  In some way those two thumbs up were akin to ‘and a child shall lead them’.  On that Sunday morning, we all said and knew ‘Amen’, all with one heart, His.

Acts: the 3-Man Show

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April Newsletter-With God There is No Time

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Exodus 32 tells the story of how God’s people melted all their gold and made themselves a golden calf and an image to worship.  Simply put, they rejoiced in the works of their own hands never supposing that they were moving away from God’s purpose for them. Those were the same people that were led by their prophet Moses, had Aaron as priest. They had experienced the miracles of Egypt.  They had followed the fire by night and the cloud by day.  They were a group that had manna from heaven; they had been uniquely called to be the people of God.  They were a generation of people called specifically to Worship the True God.  But in spite of that purpose and call, they were a misguided people just the same.  How?  By worshipping their own works they lost their way, and because of those same hands, lost their relationship with God.  As believers, we can all do that if we are not careful.  We can fall for the ‘look at what we have done for God’ mindset.  I mean, just look at how we serve Him.  Look at my prayers, my Faith, my ministry.  All of that can be with good intention initially, but gradually it can walk us away from the design of God to follow and Worship Him and Him alone.

Sometimes it’s important to re-evaluate what’s motivating us, whose works are present and what’s consuming our time.  Perhaps we’re doing something great for God but we may not be doing something great with God.  It’s a subtle distinction.  The problem with ‘calfing’ is that it’s a fleshly worship/praise and not a Spiritual one.  At WBVN we’ve always hoped and prayed for a Spiritual result rather than a soulish one.  We hope our psalms, hymns and songs are directed at the hearts of men and women not directed just to their brains.

One of the characteristics of working ‘with God’ as opposed to working for Him has a common denominator: waiting.  It always seems to make up part of the mix of finding purpose in our journey.  What we do all of a sudden rarely contains the same power in our lives as those things that come slowly and deliberately.  I can’t find any ‘hurry’ used in the context of the scriptural text found in the Old or New Testament.  Patience seems like a catalyst for all good things.  In our culture we want instant and quick.  But looking back at the story of the Gospel, all the roads seem to be rather long, a journey rather than a sprint.  We would do well to remember that the Spirit of God will always eventually manifest Himself, time is of no matter.  Time is not a feature of the future and should not be a feature of our present.  With God there is no time, I mean a thousand years is as a day to the One who created all things and holds all things together.  It’s the end results that are important, not the path we take to get there.  Faith by its very nature is not limited to what the calendar hints, the watches say or by the siftings of an hour glass.  I remember hearing someone say many years ago, ‘in the Gospel, we don’t play two halves, don’t play four quarters; in God, we play till we win.’  Christ wins.  

I was thinking about the things we seemingly lack in this society in order for salvation to blossom and the Word to spread like a wild fire again.  I realized there never has been a time that was perfect for that, yet the Gospel consistently moved into each generation.  Certainly, we can’t explain how this Gospel exponentially has grown for the past 6 thousand years.  There never have been perfect people to explain it or perfect denominational expressions to proclaim it.  It simply grows and continues because of what the Spirit does, rather than the works of our hands.  We facilitate the Spirit but we can’t do what only the Spirit can do.  We can build our projects and put in lots of effort sometimes, but they can be golden calves, sterile and worthless, moving us away from purpose.  His Spirit is necessary and able for any lasting results.  We must continue to trust and believe even without a complete understanding of how the full Gospel can come to pass as promised in our lives and the world.  Faith is about believing something not seen, not believing something that’s been proven.

Life is tougher than we were ‘sold’ it would be.  Jesus said as much in the Book of Acts (26:14) telling Saul (Paul) that living life separated from Jesus is ‘hard for you to kick against the briars.’  Without Him, we are always entangled in the thorns of this life.  With Him we are as able as Br’er Rabbit in those briars.  We’ve been promised by the world, and some religion, that everything’s going to be just great; just buy this or just perform that and it will be perfect.  Actually, Jesus left little doubt that there’s trouble in this world.  Coming as man, he subjected himself to trouble; he was challenged each day with what this world has to offer, was tempted to abandon the Father just as we are.  Eventually, they killed him because of his Faith and they’ll do the same to you; only today, instead of physically killing believers they do it by bullying; killing what you say, what you think, what you do, and what you believe.

It’s weird in a way, even with every opportunity to do so, we seem to push away from the table of Trust and Belief, walk away from the opportunity to stay in the ‘shadow of the Most High’.  It comes down to one thing really, permitting our hearts to be led by the Spirit of God that’s been placed within us.  That small voice will often, most often in fact, be going in the opposite direction of our thinking.  But, our thinking has gotten us into a lot of trouble, if not with the law at least with our psychology (our hearts).  We think we know how to do things better; do it our way, but that ‘doing’ is all in the flesh.  The Gospel teaches us not to put our trust in the flesh, yet we continue to cozy up to it most the time, separating ourselves from our hearts.  The flesh is where we’re most comfortable and the thing we’ve been taught to embrace, encouraged to follow rather than following our hearts.  Some go so far as to even use their fleshly condition to measure and ascertain their spiritual condition.

Life is like our highway system, traffic going in two directions at the same time, both along the same path.  It’s not that there’s only one thing going on at a time, actually two things are going on at the same time.  You may be going in one direction, going along with all the has world to offer, but right next to you  the Love of God (profoundly right next to you) is a companion offering you something better but going in the very opposite direction.  There is a way that seems right but leads to destruction; however, the reciprocal to that scripture is that there’s a way that is better, profoundly better, and leads us to Life.  Which road will we take?  Christ encourages us to stop kicking against the briars and slow down, to rest, and the thorns and briars that we struggle against in this life will loosen their hold and will begin to be escapable. Wrestling against the Love of God, mingling with the world only entangles us more and makes life more difficult of a struggle.  Work with Him and we will begin to be set free from what holds us back from experiencing the fullness of a partnership with God.

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