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June Newsletter- Dad Ain’t Mad

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On January 8th 2020, WBVN began broadcasting in a new year for the 31st time. I’ve had people ask me over the years where the impulse to start a Contemporary Christian Radio station came from. It’s not a simple or necessarily an easy question to answer. There were many things that occurred to push the process forward. At the time, there were many things happening to me and Jane. Our lives just seemed to be propelling us in a direction we had never anticipated, in what seemed to us, unexpected ways. If I had about 10 pages instead of this one, I would discuss all that, but for this letter let me just say the twists and turns were so exaggerated we could not have been mistaken about the evidence of the fingerprint of God in the mix. Most significantly, I think the reason we were experiencing such new and, let’s call them wonderful, things was we were increasingly following our hearts. We were following what was coming from deep inside us, not in our logical brains but our spiritual being. There was one single knowledge that had occurred in both of us pretty much at the same time, the one thing that set us out on this journey. That knowledge that we came to believe with everything within us was that ‘Dad ain’t mad.’

Somewhere along the way, we became overwhelmingly convinced that God was a giver, a lover, an encourager. That knowledge was in contrast to some of our previous thinking. Over the years, it had been suggested that God was holding out on us a bit, was slow to give much of the time. That’s a thought very similar to the whisper of Satan in the Garden in the third chapter of Genesis. We became persuaded God was a friend. That He was not angry at His creation but was actually the remedy for people of His creation. He was not mad at us, not repulsed by us, not trying to find an excuse for eliminating us from His Life. Rather, God was, in Jesus, providing a way for us to enter into that Life. We discovered that God so powerfully Loved that He could not help but Give. We had come to believe that He takes every opportunity to bring us into Himself, not looking for ways to keep us out. He was making a way for us, not getting in the way. He was eager to be a companion, not an angry God finding reason to separate us from His Love. If ever there was one reason, one thought, one thing that was the seed that eventually grew up into WBVN, it was that truth. To take the kind of steps we were taking, the confidence in those thoughts was the only way for us to have been so bold. For us, we found that believing in God’s Love for people was a full-time thing. As we did that we saw our lives change. We saw more and more opportunity to say that over and over again. That ‘knowing’ led to more opportunity to do what we had been doing in the privacy of our home and eventually to do that publicly with thousands of WBVN listeners.

What we trusted in the most, what we said the most, was that God Loved us before we loved Him. That He chose us before the foundation of the world to be in Himself. And, it was His Purpose and His Will that we might live and move and have our being in Him. It was God’s dream to do that and we’re the benefactors of His dream. In spite of thousands of reasons and justifications to turn us into ash, God has always desired for our relationship with Him to be real. He literally provided cover for Adam and Eve. He placed blood on the doorposts in Egypt so that His people might be spared. He provided a ram for Abraham. He put Abram to sleep and cut a covenant, one that He knew Abram could not keep, so God did that by Himself. He provided a Day of Atonement in the Law to offer forgiveness to Israel. He provided manna from Heaven. Does that sound like a God looking to separate Himself from His people? He personally buried Moses with loving kindness. He chose David (in today’s terms kind of a jerk) in spite of David. He chose Saul (Paul) even though Saul was the chief persecutor of believers. And amazingly, immediately after the resurrection Jesus instructed Mary to go and tell Peter of His resurrection. That was the same Peter that had just denied Him three times. And it was God that gave the ultimate sacrifice, the final sacrifice, His Son for a perpetual sacrifice so that we could approach the throne of His Grace. God searches us out, offers us a Grace and Mercy we don’t deserve, provides access for the unworthy. He sent the Comforter of God to be in and on people who will need comfort. And, what was once reserved for only the Prophet, Priest or King became a companion to all that believed. Does that sound like a God that was trying to find a way to eliminate people from His presence? Does it sound like a God that we have to persuade to love, care and share? Does that sound like a God that’s holding something back?

He paid a price we could not pay. He gave us a Gospel that, if anything, is too good to be true. He pledged that He wouldn’t leave or forsake us. He obligated Himself that nothing could separate us from the Love of God. He promised to set a rainbow in the sky as a testimony of His Grace and Forgiveness and being totally and completely satisfied with Christ’s life and blood as a propitiation for our Sin.

For us, it’s constant that ‘Dad ain’t mad!’ His hand is still reaching out. He is, in Jesus’ parable the Good Samaritan that paid the price. He is the Father that stands at the road’s edge watching and hoping for His son; places a ring of covenant on his son’s hand and a covenant coat on his back upon his return in the story of the Prodigal. Bottom line is He’s not the problem, we are the problem. Our alienation, fears, embarrassments are self inflicted.

People sometimes say to me: Yes, but! And I’m okay to have someone describe the Gospel in other ways and in other expressions. However, if I had to tell you what’s the most important truth, what changed our lives the most, what’s the secret to seeing the impossible happen in people’s lives, what’s the most profound, most powerful, it is this: God told Abraham that He was the Friend of Abraham and we are Abraham’s seed and we have inherited that same Friendship and Love. (2Chr. 20-7,James 2-23) Dad ain’t mad is the most powerful truth Jane and I have found in the Gospel. He is the Center of our attention, and amazingly, we are the center of His. We believe God has sought us out, reached for us, gone through the heart-ache of the cross for us, all for the moment of hearing someone say, ‘I Believe,’ to Him. He has done all these things for us so that believers can do just as the angels have done, declare ‘Peace on Earth, good will toward men’! That Peace has been declared, a covenant of Love has been fulfilled and we can be the beneficiaries of that Great Love. It hasn’t been a revelation of who we are that changed our lives; it was a revelation of who He is that made that difference. When we began to live like ‘Dad ain’t mad,’ things that we had struggled with all our lives fell off our hearts. Peace became our home. We finally entered into His promised Rest that comforts us daily. When death stood at our door in March of 2012, His Rest had already filled the room, filled our hearts.

Well there! I’ve done it. I’ve blown our cover! In Ephesians, Paul teaches that in order to understand the height, width and the length of God; we will first need to know the Love of God. That’s step number one in knowing Him. That’s the order of His revelation of Jesus Christ. Any other order than that one, Paul calls a foolish pursuit of the Gospel. Simply put, God intervenes in our lives every time we see Him for who He really is. Jesus said in so many words, if you can perceive me, correctly perceive who I am, you will be able to perceive who He (Father) is.

For us, that was the turning point. That truth has brought liberty; it has brought a freedom that doesn’t take advantage of the Love of God, but has expanded what we have seen and what we’ve experienced. We all know what is wrong with the world; we know what is wrong with us. The mystery is to discover what He has made Right in us. Why and what we started broadcasting in the beginning is still in our breath today. WBVN continues with one message and one hope: that all those who have come to trust and obey that trust, will find the God of Abraham who was Abraham’s Friend, is their Friend also.

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May Newsletter-His Love

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(I originally posted this letter on our website and Facebook the last week of March. Found a few mistakes in that one, restated a few things differently in this one. The first was spontaneous, this one had a bit more time to express a few things more clearly. I have made changes to the text but the context is only slightly different…ken)

Well, as grandma would say, “We’re in quite a pickle.” Covid-19 is certainly enough to deal with, thank you, but I recently saw an interview from some celebrity about him being angry at God. It’s always fascinated me what unbelievers must think about some of the things we believers attribute to God in times like these. Sometimes, I can see why many are ‘put off’ by such talk rather than being drawn to God. During a major crisis it seems we often take every opportunity for the self-described defenders of our Faith to ‘tag God’ as leaving His fingerprints on the crisis, maybe even suggesting He caused it. So, let’s see, let’s put weight to this point of being angry at God. Should anyone think it’s logical or appropriate to be angry at God for any reason? Who among us is willing to give a Loving God the glory for this virus and for it having such a negative impact on human lives? Seems to me you can only come up with some reason to be angry at God if you either have misinformation, maybe fake news about God, or you simply parrot the traditional things that have been said for centuries about Him. In that traditional world, nothing changed very much with the cross and resurrection. We just simply moved on with our story about an angry God and a foolish or stiff-necked people. I get it; we’ve been saying things like that so long that sometimes it’s our first response in these terrible situations. We teach it, we say it, we print it and when this is all over we will pack it away to be used again in a future crisis.

My point, this God we so easily believe deserves anger and maybe our accusations, this is the same God that has come from the other side of Genesis, before the foundation of the world to be with us, this Emmanuel God. This God Who physically stepped into our world, took on flesh, did that to be with us in times like these, to be included with us during these times–are we to be believe He had something to do with actually doing this to us? This God, our God, Who sent His Son to be harassed by the very creatures He Himself created, creatures that humiliated Him, those very same creatures flogged Him, spat on Him, hated and despised Him, nailed Him to a tree, and separated themselves from Him as He took His last breath. To me, that’s not the kind of God that deserves any anger from His believers. To look at Love that way, we certainly are an interesting bunch! Jesus tried to show us the heart of the Father in Luke 11:11/Matt. 5:21: ‘If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father will he give him a stone?…If you then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.’ That’s God’s position in this whole thing for all those that will receive Him. Some may suggest that God is holding back something from us to teach us something. While Covid-19 is happening both believers and unbelievers perish. A God that is Love isn’t holding back from loving people. A God like ours is the remedy. Not to be confused with anything else we might imagine. The God that was the kind of God that was holding out, holding back, was the initial accusation of the serpent to Adam. God seeks us out, doesn’t hide and wait. The serpent’s lie was the first lie and it’s still a lie today. That’s a whisper we should not believe.

Jesus came to be with us for two reasons: first, to die on our behalf, to forgive us for our sins even while we were sinners. Second, and this is found throughout the New Testament writings of Paul and John, Jesus came to give you a New Life, a new way to live life, a new covenant. A New Covenant! Not to establish the old one but to introduce a New One. Would Jesus have come even if Adam had not fallen? I think He would have in order to establish that adoption relationship between God and creature:
‘But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because we are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant but a son; and if a son, then heir of God through Christ. (Gal. 4:4-7)
There is so much to say in that verse but let me narrow it down to just one thing: We, the church, are sons. Each of us has been adopted to the Father, Son and Spirit’s life as ‘belongers’ there. Yes, Jesus came to die for our sins but also to adopt believers into the family of God. We are His. Knowing that, is there anything that we should be angry at God about? Is there anything that deserves that kind of thinking from us? Is God’s hand responsible for this mess we’re in, even just a little bit? Should we accuse Him of such? In times like these just the opposite is actually going on. God does not move away, He is in our hearts for goodness sake; how far can He go? He does not abandon the world. God does exactly what He did with Adam when Adam was such a jerk, He seeks us out, looks for us behind every bush until he finds us and embraces, does not scold or condemn. He simply cannot be separated from us; nothing can separate Him from us. Actually, if God pulled away, left us alone for one second, the whole thing would blow up and return to cosmic dust. (Col. 1:15-16) He’s holding all things together; He’s the only glue we have that stabilizes the whole world in a time like this. God’s hand is stretched out, not pulled back. The Father, the Son and the Spirit all agree, never a difference of opinion but they are One. Each, all, are for you not against.

One last thing, the Gospel is a response to a response. It’s first, God’s response to us. That’s the Father, the Son and the Spirit’s language to say post Adam, ‘No way, I’m not leaving them to themselves, I’m not giving up on them. Let us, Father, Son and Spirit, step into the whole mess and bring them from fear to Faith, from darkness into Light. God responded to us by redemption and adoption. Now we can respond to their response. Repentance is not our persuading our God to graciousness. His graciousness and forgiveness have already been established. His Mercies are new every day. They are a part of His character. This God is not like any other god. God doesn’t need His mind to be changed about us or be persuaded for favor (as though you thought you really could). It’s our minds that need to be rearranged. We must rearrange our minds to comprehend His first response: His Love. Psalm 136:11-12 reaffirms that God’s arm is constantly reaching out because His Mercy endures forever. That is His response to us; what will we do about that, what will we say and share about that? What will we say about Him to believers and unbelievers in times like these? Days like these should be evangelical moments, share His Love moments, sometimes I think we do the opposite of that.

There is a warning against apostasy found in Hebrews chapter 5. Verse 12 refers to elementary things, basic things, to which we should return. Knowing the following is elementary in times like these and really sufficient enough for us, this should be our first thought instead of some of the ones I’ve heard: ‘Jesus loves me this I know, the Bible tells me so….’ It’s not possible for me to be angry at God. My knowing the Love of God doesn’t permit me to think God is holding back stuff, because Jesus said His heavenly Father doesn’t hand out stones. These kinds of days are when the Church should be in season, bear the most fruit, and make the most effort to celebrate God’s Love, not be defined by someone that’s a bit angry.