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30 Years of Memories-BIG DADDY WEAVE

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30 Years of Memories-Big Daddy Weave

It’s been awhile. Not because we haven’t tried, not because they haven’t tried, but Big Daddy’s travels and our opportunities to have them in for our concert series simply has not crossed paths. Obviously, they are one of our favorite events. They are a great band with tons of great music and message. They are great people; artists with ‘pastor’s hearts’ from my perspective. Even if they did not sing a note, did not play a chord, BDW are the kind of people you would want to have come to your town just to create a ‘family union’ atmosphere with members of the band. In 1998, Mike and Jay Weaver started the band while in college in Mobile, Alabama. They were worship leaders from Florida. Today’s BDW band also has Joe Shirk (keys), Jeremy Redmon (guitar), and Brian Beihl (drums). (Original drummer Jeff Jones left in 2013.) We first came in contact with BDW in 2002 with a concert at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church. I remember that night pretty well because of something Mike told me that afternoon. According to him, one: they were thrilled to be here. Two: that night was their first touring ‘headliner’ event. Three: he hoped they had enough music to fill the evening because they only had one cd (One and Only, let’s see… 9 songs and 2 hours to fill!). That caught my attention, made an impression for sure.

This fall’s concert scheduled for September would have been the 17th appearance for them for WBVN. As you can tell we kind of like them, and even better, you kind of like them. They are unique in that only Mark Schultz and BDW have filmed DVD’s here. That tells you that not only do you love them, they love coming here, choosing you as their audience to be filmed for that DVD. I will always remember hearing Mike and band singing ‘Redeemed’ and you singing louder than they were. I think I will hear that in my memory until my dying day. BDW also have been so popular with our concert family that they have done what only two other artists have done in 30 years, two sell out concerts in one day. (others: Schultz and NewSong) They are unique in another way; out of 213 concerts we have produced over the years, BDW (and Lincoln Brewster) are the only ones I’ve not been able to attend. Both those events were in the spring of 2012. The night of the BDW concert I was in Chicago with my wife Jane as she was being overcome with GBS, paralyzed from head to toe and in ICU. I remember Mike Middleton sending me videos from his phone that night to just give me an appreciation for that event. I remember getting a phone call a couple days later from Jay Weaver just wanting to assure Jane and me that they were praying for her and that they would keep her in their hearts over the next few weeks. Nice guy that Jay Weaver.

As you are aware, Jane survived that illness. And after three months in Chicago hospitals, she came home and finished her recovery back here. Ever since that experience, every time BDW is in town Mike and Jane have spent a few moments discussing that specific experience. A comment that Jane came away from Chicago with, and one Mike has spent time contemplating, is that thanksgiving is a place established in God, a place we can occupy, that it can hold us up in times like hers. (A He in us, we in Him place.) Mike still quotes Jane’s comments about thanksgiving being a dimension in God while on stage. He always brings that conversation up when they visit on the day of concerts.

I mentioned earlier that BDW coming to town is something like a family reunion. Many times, they have rented an extra bus and brought their wives and children with them. They are the typical traveling band but prioritize their families as well and make sure that their home life is preserved and cared for while out on the road. Another family connection that gets made in Southern Illinois when BDW comes to town is the family reunion between the Shirks. Joe (keys) went to grade school in Murphysboro. His dad, Steve Shirk, was a pastor/worship leader in Carbondale until his death a few years ago. (Steve was always a favorite with me, calling the station just to encourage me occasionally. Steve asked nothing in return for his encouragement and prayers, just loved folks, pastored folks and majored in kindness to me.) When Joe comes home his mother Betty is always present and his sister and family always attend. I remember just a couple years before Steve passed away that the bus pulled into the parking lot at the Civic Center and a little later the tour went to Murphysboro where Steve and Betty had prepared a huge picnic for all involved with the tour. The Shirk family has been very special.

Big Daddy Weave: one of the huge memories and experiences of WBVN’s 30 year history. It could not have been any better. I will always remember, and this was after the second night of two sellout crowds in a row, I mentioned to Jay that they were getting so big nationally, so popular in the large venues around the country, that I was concerned whether they could keep coming to a small venue like we have here in Southern Illinois. His response still rings in my ears because I think he sincerely meant it, ‘Big Daddy will always come to Marion, I promise you that!’ We are and they are going to make that come true again in 2021.

(As I write this memory it is appropriate to ask the readers to pray for Jay and his family. He has been and still is going through a very hard place physically and needs those prayers and certainly, the encouragement of God.)


December Newsletter-Christmas 2020

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But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son…Gal 4:4

There was a perfect time, a unique time, an appropriate time, and in our case, it became Christmas time. The implication is, after a delay, sometime after there was space between God’s planning and doing, at a specific time, the Father gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, ‘that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ That’s the overwhelming purpose of the Gospel. The word used here for Son holds more meaning than just being an offspring of God, more than just simply originating from God. The fullness of being God’s Son also implicates the presence of the character, the nature, the heart of the Father as well. God sent His Son to share a ‘God Life’ with us, to redeem us from Adam and deliver to us a new way to live. It was a loving God’s response to Adam’s failure, ‘For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.’ (John 3:16) God’s Purpose defined.

Now the next few sentences are not important. It’s only fun to look at, to think about. They make no difference in the actual application of what Paul called our adoption as children of God. But it’s Christmas, it’s interesting to search some of the material on what day was Jesus born. As I said, it’s not important, only our curiosity drives it, but most everyone that has written on that subject is quick to point out that the one day we’re pretty sure he was not born is December 25th. Don’t throw stones at me just yet. It’s just that the Bible doesn’t specifically indicate a date and people that research such things all agree that the clues in scripture move us away from December. Our traditional Christmas celebration was established by Emperor Constantine in 336AD. Clues in the Bible such as shepherds in the field usually not indicative of December, Augustus’ census was never held in an Israel winter because of the weather. In fact had it been a winter, Mary and Joseph probably would not have been traveling the 70 miles between Nazareth and Bethlehem, Mary very pregnant and not really donkey agile. Also, the folks that study the physical sky point to the practical alignments of Venus and Jupiter (June 2BC) or Saturn and Jupiter (October 7BC) as likely the Shepherd’s- leading bright star of scripture. But, we wish you a Merry December Christmas just the same! As I said, not important but fun to look at.

The reason I bring that up is because the birth is the important part, not the date. The incarnation of Christ doesn’t depend upon December 25th being significant; what’s significant is that before the foundation of the world, ie, the whole of the cosmos (and that’s everything that exists out in front of God, everything), Jesus was coming to comfort, redeem and save. In that coming, on that perfect someday, Jesus was a New Adam, making all things new, not only in each life that is re-generated, but a New Garden was established to sustain believer’s lives. The tree of Life had been replanted in the Garden of Gethsemane to re-establish the one removed because of Adam and Eve. Once again His creation could access a way to live that was in a person relationship with Father, Son and Spirit. The Old Testament migrated from the original relationship of Adam and Eve with God, to an Adamite separation with its fear, embarrassments and alienation. New Testament teaching after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascending, re-established a Garden environment for believers to personally walk, talk, trust and be comforted by God once again. When Paul writes in 2Corinthians 5:17, he confirmed that in believers’ lives all things were new. All things in the Greek means all things! We stand in the middle of a fallen world, but we also occupy the middle of a new creation because Christ is in the middle of that new creation.

Son of God: strong words and many significant meanings. As the second Adam: The Son established universal dominion on earth. As a son of Abraham: heir of the land of the Covenant. As son of David: heir to the throne of David. As Son of God: the heir of all things as testified to in Hebrews 1:2 (heir of all things, made all things) Acts 10:36 (Lord of all).

Next month on January 8th, we will celebrate our 31st year of music ministry over FM 104.5. Singing began as an expression of a future hope. We still prepare and hope for a new day to come and ‘come quickly’ might be an appropriate present attitude. I hear that in much of the music coming out for us to play on the radio recently. Music in the faithful began early as we have writings of the Song of Moses, David, Elizabeth and others. I’ve had many conversations over the years with artists that have come in concert. I remember talking to a few about their creative songwriting. Some songs just stop us in our tracks and our attention and heart is drawn to the lyrics. I have changed my tune about using the word ‘creative’ over time. I no longer express what an artist does as a creative process. That hangs all the responsibility on their skills and ability to envision the moment. I’m more likely to express my thought as what great ‘discoveries’ they have made to write their music. Christ lives in believers’ hearts, His Spirit whispers to our souls and that’s the real resource I think artists tap into to write those songs that cause us to pause and listen intently. What’s inside them is being discovered by the artists and shared to others. It’s not being created as much as revealed in their music. I mentioned to someone just a few days ago, the Spirit of God is like a musical tuning fork that, when the fork is struck, vibrations of the right frequency are activated. Like that fork, our hearts vibrate when we hear the Truth of God, our heart responds to God’s frequency. We hear a song, a sermon or a spoken word and it vibrates in our soul, lights up in our Spirit.

Music, and we’ve had all these years to share it, can stimulate the tuning forks in our hearts. The math associated with musical scale is fascinating but too lengthy to describe in this letter. However let me say this, when we listen to music the notes are at differing frequencies, those vibrations of the frequencies hit the 10,000 ‘organ of corti’ in our ear and we sense the sound. Our hearts have spiritual corti and Jesus taught that those that have ears to hear, let them hear. All those people had flaps on the side of their heads, but Jesus was saying to listen with the corti of our hearts. Even though we hear it through our ears, on the inside it is playing in a playground of our hearts as well. Some people dance, some raise their hand, many fall to their knees, tears can stream down our faces, smiles appear, eyes brighten and amen’s are thought or said or can be heard around us. What’s going on in the inside is not only entertaining but it can be a place where time stands still and a spiritual ‘touching’ can take place. When that happens sometimes intimate things happens that step us into that New Garden that Christ has established. All of God, Father, Son and Spirit, dance, raise Their hands, smile, express shouts of Joy for us. That Trinity is with us, never at any time are any of the Three separated from us. When Jesus came as Son, Father was with Him, Spirit was with Him and that is true today as well. If Christ be in you, you in Christ, He, the Father and Spirit are present in our lives as well. If we live like that is not true we rob ourselves of the purpose again of God sending the Son on that unique day, that perfect time.

From all of us at WBVN we obviously have for 30 years hoped the best for you and your family. We are blessed to be able to celebrate the birth of Christ every day of the year. And, getting to wish you a very Merry Christmas for the 31st time is a gift to this ministry staff.

30 Years of Memories-Randy Stonehill

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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.