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May Newsletter: over 27 Years and here is the 326th Newsletter

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Let’s Get Personal: 27 years X 12 months……

It’s post Celebration and let me say one more time, thank you to all the people that have supported and do support this ministry.  If there is such a thing as people being eternally grateful, that characterizes us about having you partner with us.  As I begin this letter I’m at my computer watching me type the letters and thinking about having written over 325 of these over the past 27 years.  As the words appear on my screen there’s a feeling of watching them appear involuntarily rather than on purpose.  Newsletters, for me, are one day events.  They begin with one thought and in some way I simply write something in front of that thought and then simply find my way out at the other end of the conversation.  Watching the words form on the screen, it’s very much like one word just naturally follows the last word.  I know it sounds weird but most of the time I’m discovering what comes next as it actually takes place, well just like right now.  I’ve said this before; the letters are a bit of discovery for me, getting to the end of the newsletter I can almost say, ‘I didn’t know I knew that.’  More on that later.

It’s funny to me in a way. My mother asked me one time if I bought my newsletters somewhere.  🙂  In my brain I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, mom, got that in aisle 34 at our local Walmart.  She was so cute asking that!  I mean, my own mom!  Well I wasn’t too surprised actually; she knows I struggled to write papers in college so why not assume these are Walmart kind of letters?  In reality they are born out of an honesty in my soul.  I don’t write the letters to express doctrine or to convince people of a particular persuasion, but write them only to show the inside of this ministry.  Everyone can hear the songs and programs that dress up the outside of WBVN.  But to peer inside, to see ‘how this clock ticks’, I slide back a curtain with these letters so that people can see behind the obvious into the not so obvious.  I’m not naturally like that very much.  At home I’m too quiet, too non-verbal much of the time.  Put me in a room with 12 people and I’ll usually be the one holding up the corner of the room.  When I’m gone I guess the kids will get a pretty good idea of what their dad was all about when they find all the stuff I’ve stuck away, books, pictures, articles etc, that I found valuable to me but hidden away most of the time.

I’m confessing all this just to say thank you for giving us a chance to sing out over the radio and letting me pour out my heart in these letters.  I’m suspicious whether they’re healing for those that read them, but at the very least they are healing for me to be able to express what’s on the inside.  When we started the station in January of 1990 our only hope was to encourage a Church that for the most part had been disheartened by national scandals associated with two huge ministries.  Wasn’t a pretty time to ask people to trust us with their money let alone their hearts.  But here we are 27 years into this ministry and our opportunity to encourage has been much more than we had ever imagined.  Not only the music and programming, but the opportunity to establish and work with CCM artists that have come to love being here and making this a day-home as they entertain and inspire us at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center.  I remember having read an author’s quote some time ago that went like this (I paraphrase), it’s not just the work we do but, even more importantly, much of our joy is found in the purpose of why we do it.  You see, nothing outweighs the simple trust you’ve given us by allowing us to be a part of your Christian experience.  I think being trusted, being comfortable with one another, creates an environment of mutual appreciation.  We certainly have had the joy of that at this ministry.

Well, I’m not writing all this to give you any new news, no ulterior motive other than to say thank you.  WBVN does not pretend to be anything other than a small expression of the Love of God toward you.  One voice in many voices.  I remember a conversation I had with a friend many years ago that went something like this: a young man (let’s give him the characteristic of being desperate) prepares to walk into, let’s call it a Huck’s for reference, to let’s simply say relieve that store of some of its cash. On the way in there’s a small child that dashes out in front of an oncoming car.  And, as most would do, that man risks his own life to save the child.  In doing so, something goes off in his heart.  Something clicks in his mind and that very act leaves him moved to tears and joy for having made a difference, having had a moment of meaning and seeing the smiles and excitement of family and people all round.   He simply walks away.  The desperate mind had been replaced with a tender-hearted moment.  I think in his case and in ours, helping, serving, making a difference is addictive.  The Wisdom of God knew that when He instructs in Malachi 3:10.  (Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.)  I know how that’s usually taught but somehow I like to say it like this, the windows of Heaven will open and ‘I will pour you out! a blessing.  You see in some cases, a blessing is not always to be consumed.  Sometimes God pours us out and in doing so we are a part of His blessing to others.  He empties something in us and pours us out on others and covers them with blessing.  Many times our needs are met by the mere process of encouraging others. That’s what’s happened here over this radio station.  By encouraging, we have been encouraged.  By caring, we have been cared for.  By pouring out our hope we have been most hope-full.  By offering the Grace of God, we have received the Grace of God.  It’s as simple as the Wisdom found in Jesus teaching ‘in giving you will receive.’  That’s the simple order of God’s blessing, give first and what follows will be a great blessing not just to them but to you also….taste and see, the Lord is good.

Well, that’s our secret, that’s pulling the curtain back and exposing our secret for all to see.  Not totally, but in some simple way, WBVN is built on two small scriptures.  Firstly, Acts 4:20, ‘For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’  That was given to us by someone the very first week of broadcast and it’s something that I have never forgotten.  And secondly, the Malachi verse above.  The first word comes from our heart from being made full day after day, year after year.  The second scripture comes from our confidence in the known Wisdom of God.

Back to the writing.  Put me down as someone that thinks we contain more knowledge of God in our hearts than we’re aware of in our heads.  For me, it’s like He’s buried Himself inside us and when we search down deep enough, organize the clutter enough, get our stinking thinking out of the way I believe we discover Him waiting to reveal Himself to us, having been there all along waiting on us.   That knowing is hidden much of the time as we hoard all the other things we place in our soul.  It’s interesting for me to watch, literally watch, this letter come out of no real plan for what I might write about this month.  When I sat down just now I only had one thought in mind: how can I share what, even to me, seems impossible, writing the 326th newsletter in this 27th year of WBVN.  Well, I just wrote on top of that thought, wrote after that thought and now all I have to do is finish.   Oh, and thank you again for making that possible.  There, done!

April Newsletter-Hope

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Ok, my suggestion is let’s calm down a bit.  If you’re a believer in Christ Jesus, you’re in good hands.  Not to panic.  Oh, I know it looks bad, it sounds bad and actually it’s pretty tough.  And perhaps you’d think that it’s over.  But don’t be discouraged.  Maybe the world’s given up on Him, but God has not given up on the world.  He’s determined.  He’s proclaimed a loving heart for His creation.  He’s never leaving or forsaking.  He’s in this for the long haul.  If you believe that He is and that He’s a rewarder of those that seek Him, Father, Son and Spirit are calm, confident and excited about you.

I’m going to write about something in this month’s letter that I’m not completely finished thinking about for myself.  I’ll kind of be thinking out loud as I write this note.  It’s a thought that’s been rattling around my head for a few years now.  As I write, I’m just going to see ‘how it goes’.  When I say I haven’t finished thinking about it, it’s something that’s a bit bigger than my brain can squeeze out into one simple picture. It’s an image that I would like to see in its entirety because of its perspective about Jesus’ mission to come to earth.

Let me start by saying a few things about him coming to live within Israel.  Now think about this, Jesus physically stepped inside Israel and he lived there.  He did!  God of the Universe somehow squeezed the Holy Potter into an earth suit to live slap dab right in the middle of Israel.  How ’bout this, similarly Jesus by His Spirit stepped inside you.  He did– slap dab within you.  And, seems to me that that first appearing in them was related to, and much of it applies to, his second appearing in us.  What I’ve been thinking about for a few years is that what Israel did in the flesh to Jesus then is very much the same story as what the world is doing to him spiritually today.  Seems the world as a whole is determined to crucify him again.  His presence in Israel and his devotion to his Father only seemed to intensify the rebellion against him.  His grace/forgiveness and patience was met with their fear and legalism.  His relationship with Father and Spirit only seemed to remind them of their embarrassment at having been a chosen people but also a rebellious people.  That was personified in Peter’s call for Jesus to ‘depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man.’  Of course he would not depart; actually, in essence he moved closer than ever before, and in doing so, their rebellion was revealed and exposed even more.  So much more, to the point that the Creator of the very breath they breathed was crucified in a horrible death at the hands of the humanity that he created.

When Jesus showed up in his earthly ministry, Israel, just like Adam in the Garden of Eden, preferred to hide in the bushes of their religion.  Distant and bone-headed, hard-hearted and stubborn all fit the bill.  Rather than accepting the closeness of his presence, they, like the children of Israel ages previous, preferred to stand back at a distance. Preferred to send someone else to meet God much like they’d sent Moses up the mountain to be in His presence.  The revelation of Christ came slowly if at all, with only a few followers in the end.  Israel had hung a ‘do not disturb’ sign on their door, no Saviors needed sign, at least a Savior of this kind.  The fear and ignorance of an up close and personal God only increased their desire to separate themselves from Him, even to the point that the religious leaders, the very people He had come to offer relationship, killed him.  The Creator of hands was killed by the same hands He had created.  This Jesus, offering Peace and Grace, was met with the same stone-heartedness that Moses encountered with Pharaoh.

At a time when Israel was hoping, believing, trusting, praying for Messiah, their Messiah came.  What did they do?   They accused him of being delusional, demon possessed, a child of an unwed mother, criticized his grace toward sinners, deserted him, lied about him, called him names, exchanged his wisdom sayings for legal arguments supported by the letter of the scripture, ignoring the spirit of the Word.  They dismissed all evidence, signs and miracles Jesus said and did.  They conspired in his death, the condemnation of the most innocent at the hands of criminals and atheists.  We’re repeating that story today.  ‘Get out of our schools, our market place, our politics’.   ‘Get out, and shut the door on your way out’, ‘be gone’ is the world’s statement to a God that has come not only offering but doing reconciliation.

Here’s that good news I was mentioning at the beginning of this letter: this did not and will not divert God from His standing offer of Grace.  This isn’t a new story, it’s not the first time, it’s generational in some sense.  God had determined from the very first rebellion in Adam’s Garden to look His creation in the eye and say, ‘No’.  He will not let us go so easily. Instead of scrapping the whole thing, God stepped right smack dab in the middle of the violence, muck, heart-ache, filth, evil, rebellion, all the slime and rolled up His sleeves and went to work on our behalf. This story began with God searching for and finding the first rebeller (Adam) and giving a firm ‘I will not give up on you!’  I will not give up on establishing a relationship with my beloved.  He did not give up then, He’s not giving up now.  Just because it’s tough doesn’t mean it’s over.

Here’s an important thing to remember about His first coming.  True Reconciliation came at the world’s most rebellious, most ill-conceived time.  It came at the same time that evil men killed the Son.  The Cross of Jesus represented a moment where the Grace and Love of God was rejected the most.  The very evil that had grown into a roaring furnace of hate and rejection was used by God to be the moment of His Reconciliation.  Hate and fear had reached the boiling point as Jesus stepped into our world, sought us out, came to our little corner of the Universe.  Astonishingly, that fervor to run God out of town, out of the world, was used to accomplish reconciliation between their fallen mind and His Embrace.  A first apostasy savagely crucified Jesus.  On that Cross, Jesus overwhelmed the spirit of anti-Christ in His ‘No, I will not let my people perish.’

Our generation is backing away again.  And, while that reconciliation gave people a way to enter into a personal relationship with God, not everyone will do that.  Some will do as men have always done, turn away.  For the umpteenth time a generation pushes against the closeness that God provided, having drawn near to us in the incarnation of Christ Jesus. Look, I don’t know how, don’t know when, but I have a confidence that the Gospel of Grace, like a cactus in a dry desert, will bloom again. The Word has been through Adam’s fall, Pharaohs, 400 years of Babylon, slavery in Egypt, Roman rule, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a. d., the Dark Ages, the Holocaust, wars, persecution, secularism, and much more.  In Jesus, the Father, Son and Spirit submitted themselves to our violence, anger and smear.  They permitted us to crucify the Son of Glory in a most unjust way.  Innocent, real blood was shed by hateful humanity. But, the tread of the Gospel has survived it all.  This Word is not going away.  The world with its attitude and systems is not going to put out this Light.  It’s been tried many times before and has failed each time.  It will fail again.  It cannot be captured by Satan and his angels, no world power will possess it.  Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega.  The Father, Son and Spirit, this Gospel, will be standing after all else has fallen.  He is and will always be the same yesterday and forever.  We live in terrible times but there have been other terrible times. The Gospel that was set in motion by God ages ago continues to be offered to whosoever will.  Not all will but enough will.  This Gospel is not subject to the world’s judgment or its political powers.  It may look like it’s over, may feel like it’s over…but whether we are seeing it or not, whether feeling it or not with our emotions, it ain’t over!


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