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August Newsletter-Paper Route

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Pro_9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One, understanding.  

Or my version with a bit of Col. 1-16 mixed in:  the recognition of the awesomeness of what He has done, that God is with us, that the Father, the Son, and Spirit created all things, are in all things, are present at all times, is the beginning of knowing Him, i.e., understanding.

I never had a paper route.  But my neighbor Mike Hickey had one.  He had one of those big cotton bags that hung on the front of his bike with those special hooks added on the handlebars. If I remember correctly, Mike delivered about 70-80 newspapers each day around our neighborhood.  As part of our friendship it was agreed that some days he and I would sit on the front porch and I’d help Mike fold the papers, stuff them into the bag and off he’d go.  The papers were folded into thirds and into thirds again, and one third was tucked into another third to make perfect square paper.  Today, I catch myself occasionally folding papers just like I did many years ago just for old time sake.  Now the key to being a good paperboy (besides the obvious of being on time and showing up to work your route every day), was the obligation to throw those folded papers while riding your bike down the sidewalk, and make those babies land on people’s front porches.  Landing it in the bushes, wet grass or banging the windows was not part of the acceptable, professional description of a good paperboy.  If that newspaper was folded just right, if you held it just right, you could throw a slow curve and lay the news on a 6 foot by 6 foot front stoop.  Mike let me help a few times and I soon learned ‘the toss’.  It was like Wainwright’s strike to Beltran–a beautiful thing to behold.  But, if you landed it into the gutter’s water puddle, or tossed it on the roof: job not done!

Now I mention that to say a few things about the Gospel.  I tease a lot about Faith but in reality I’m very serious about it, maybe even too serious sometimes.  But I believe each day is a package of Life to be opened and discovered in the light of that Faith.  I haven’t found a day when there’s not, at some point, a need for the application of the Gospel of Grace into our lives.  After all, Christ has made all things and is present with us at all times. So, except in our brains, aloneness is not something that ever really takes place.  Each day is filled with opportunity to follow Him in our mundane! (You’re supposed to smile there, not frown.)  Whether at a ball game, shopping, work, driving, and even sleeping, He is with us.  That’s His name: I Am!  Moses was told to just tell Pharaoh, if Pharaoh asked, ‘I Am’ sent him.  That’s really one of the first things we need to know about Him-always present, on duty with us.  I Am is standing with us, at hospitals, at funerals, at doctor’s offices and yes, He’s with us at Kroger, Busch Stadium or at Bald Knob Cross on Easter morning.  He just simply is, always is.  Knowing that takes away the I was, the I will be or the I might be about Him.

I don’t know for how many times now, but I’m going to bring up Jane’s Chicago experience again.  So many things were evident there, observed there.  Allow me to refresh your memory about Jane being rushed to a Chicago hospital in the spring of 2012.  For those that don’t know, my wife was paralyzed for about 6 months due to a condition known as GBS.  For this newsletter purpose let me jump through a long story into this short statement: The one thing, and the only thing, either she or I knew was that God was (Emanuel) with us.  His I Am filled in all the gaps in what we did not know, what we could not see, salved the hurt and chased all our fears.  Fortunately, we, while not really being aware of it, I suppose were pre-prepared for such an event.  The seeking and searching to know the heart of God years before suddenly became His embrace in her critical health condition.  We didn’t have to go looking for help, Help was standing right there with us.  We didn’t have to plead for compassion, Compassion was all around us. We had spent years preparing our hearts with this single fact: that God wants to be with us, desires above all to have a relationship with us.  That knowledge made trusting in His companionship easy.  That’s the slighted story of Genesis; that Father, Son and Spirit, because of their natural character, were determined to re-unite with man. God sought Adam out in the bushes, not the other way round.  He’s a lighthouse so that we can find our way to Him in every situation we face.

Jesus taught that the best way to live is to maintain your house in the good times so that you’re pre-prepared for the storms.  When storms come, a foundation made of the Cornerstone of our Faith will get us through.  The world is betting that this Jesus thing is a hoax, wants you to believe that Jesus’ friends robbed the grave, took the body, faked the deal.  They’re betting that this creation thing was just a mixture of accident and time, trusting in their intellect over their heart.  Believers, on the other hand, find Jesus as a door to huge things prepared by God before the foundation of the world.  We find Jesus personal, and personally involved with our daily lives.

Here’s the big picture of pre-preparation:  God wants to be with you, wants to partner with you, wants to have a personal one-on-One relationship with you.  Settle that!  I remember having conversations over the years with people about the most important thing I’ve ever learned in my Faith. It’s always been such a simple, short answer:  ‘Dad ain’t mad.’  Instead of trying to keep us out of His presence, He’s worked and is working on ways to woo us in.  Try walking in that kind of knowledge about our Father for a year and see if it doesn’t change your sensitivity to His presence with you.  The problem, since Adam, has been that the knowledge of our failures, or Sin, has separated us from the Love of God, just like it did with Adam and Eve.  We’re infected with that belief.  God’s take, He’s seeking after us to bless and turn us away from Sin and that wrong headedness.  God (Father, Son and Spirit) in Wisdom decided to heal that separation with the death of Jesus.  His blood and the cross tore open the veil of separation, and Forgiveness opened a way for us to stand at the throne of His Grace.  Therefore, the Word of God rings true- you shall be My people and I shall be your God.  That was a promise to Israel and it’s reality to us.

The most important part of my newspaper boy story was the fold.  Let me say it like this, it was the necessary thing before the thing.  That fold made the paper manageable and prepared it to be thrown with such accuracy as to hit the porch.  That preparation meant ‘job done’.  Our Christian life is much like that.  How we prepare our hearts about God’s Purpose and Love makes all the difference when we deal with all that life can bring.  Pre-preparation (making up our mind about the character and nature of God) before the weight of the world comes heavy on us affects the outcome of that pressure.  Job done is in walking a journey of personal relationship with God.  That’s the end game.  He came to put away Sin so that we could again do as Adam and Eve did before the fall– walk and talk with God.  Taking away the barrier between you and Him at the Cross was what He did, but why He did it was so that you could step into a life embraced by the One who created and Loves you.  Now we get to finish His Purpose.  Just as Mike was gratified when we hit the porch, we can know the gratification that comes when you yield to the invitation of a personal, intimate relationship with Father.  In the heart of God, that was worth the price He paid to be with us. Worth His Son so that They could step into this world and seek us out, stand at your door and knock with their invitation to a new Life.

July Newsletter-Morning Star

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

‘The morning star often appears between two and three at night, when the darkness is complete and the faintest sign of morning is not yet visible.  So small that it threatens to vanish, the star seems unable to vanquish the overpowering darkness.  Yet when you see the morning star, you know that the night has been defeated.  For the morning star pulls the morning in behind it, just as certainly as Jesus pulls the Kingdom in behind Him.’  …Bob Goudzwaard

This letter is about Hope and Promise.  I remember a favorite sunrise many years ago that caught my attention so much that I had to stop driving long enough to take a photograph.  It still sits framed on the shelf of our family room.  It happened in Kearney, Nebraska, at least 20 years ago but was so memorable for its unique beauty.  However, this letter is about another sunrise, a sunrise that I will never forget but for a completely different reason.  This time we were traveling through Topeka, Kansas, just before sunrise.  That’s the darkest part of night; the moon had descended and except for Topeka’s artificial light, seemed the whole world was dark.  Darkness had overpowered the day and everything was hidden in the deep black of that night.  There it was.  Unexpectedly for me.  I hadn’t seen the morning star in many years, not that they’re so rare, it’s just that I usually like sleeping a bit longer than getting up at dawn.  When I saw it a story went off in my mind.  It was a story that came from an experience years ago that features a Promise.

It first began in the ‘belly’ of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.  On a tour of that cave with our family, the guide turned off all the lights and complete and total darkness wrapped everyone in that cave.  In that cave it was darkness unmatched by any previous experience. Then the guide lit a match and suddenly all things in that cavern were revealed.  Every person and thing could be seen from that single small light.  Just a small match shined enough light to reveal hundreds of square feet of cave; nothing was left unseen.  That experience prompted me to do a little research about light and its unique relationship, or properties, in relationship to darkness.  That led me to look at the story of the Morning Star mentioned in Revelation.  Jesus the Messiah is that Morning Star in Chapters 2 and 22 and that’s what came flooding back into my mind on that early morning in Kansas.

Many times God reveals much of His heart through things seen and not just things written.  In a baby’s birth we see an explosion of Life as the Father gives it, in family we see the Father’s bend toward personal relationship and unconditional love.  In the sky we see the simple and profound creativity of a Creator.  That kind of seeing helps our hearing many times.  Actually, it’s said that 80% of our memories come from what we see.  Physically seeing that star created a renewed awareness of Promise.

The very last thing that Christ called Himself, the last description of Himself, was the ‘Morning Star’ (Rev. 22).  Christ did not repeat the familiar titles used in earlier scripture (ones we’re all familiar with at Christmas or Easter) but chose this final time to reveal Himself in a new and unique way.  It’s a picture of Hope and Promise at a most unlikely time.  The morning star appears when the sky is most dark, when our future is the hardest to see, a time perhaps that appears we are the most lost, without hope of where we are or what direction to take.  Could be a time when the world is most discouraging.  Then, in that deep darkness (perhaps not unlike today) when the Morning Star appears (and He has) we know that the dawn has began.  It triggers the promise of a new day in our eyes, in our minds.  It’s in the darkness when we can’t see that we get to trust the most.  The morning star in that real Kansas sky was about to raise the curtain on a gorgeous sunrise.  That small flicker of light in the total darkness of that morning was announcing the approach of a light that would dispel all that darkness; all that was hidden, all that had not been revealed was about to be made known.  All the deep darkness of the night was going to be replaced with a brilliant dawn that would overpower all the darkness of the night.

Jesus Christ calls Himself that star.  Any mystery that had been hidden before was revealed in Him.  The power of a Kingdom came with the entry of this Morning Star.  Its Promise of a New Day was fulfilled with the rising of the Son.  When I saw that single star in the Kansas sky it reminded me that even in this present darkness, a darkness that confuses and blinds, there is a Hope and a Promise of a New Day that’s set before us.  His new day can’t be stopped by politics, or hatefulness or ignorance.  This star of promise has come and rules the day, no matter how much darkness ‘grunts’ to beat it down, beat it out.  I can get pretty distracted and concerned about the condition of the world and our apparent voyage away from the Love of God that I see the world taking.  It’s overwhelming to sit and think about the consequences of our choices over the past many years.  We know from Scripture that all our actions create consequences, all things sow and reap, and it’s most concerning to think of our future founded on the rejection of the Love of God.  But, God is not wringing His hands about His future.  That star reminded me that in the middle of that total darkness, our hope is not in men, not armies and chariots, but in the Words and Heart of God.  It was most dark on the Cross of Christ.  For a moment all looked lost.  Everything that ‘believers’ had put their hope in was hanging on that Cross, dead on that Cross.  All that they had hoped for, all that they believed to be true about ‘their king’ was killed on the hill of Jerusalem.  Hopelessness weighed heavy on not only the people of Calvary, but all of mankind.   A deep darkness dropped as Jesus took his last breath.  Yet, there was a Promise hanging on the lips of Jesus.  What those people saw was not the story of the day.  They did not know that the darkness there at the death of the King of Glory embraced a new hope.  A new Light was about to appear and all that they had put their trust in, all the hopes of a political kingdom, was being converted into a Heavenly Kingdom.  Not a Kingdom of meat or drink (fleshly) but a Heavenly Kingdom that ran in opposition to what they were experiencing and interpreting.  He would come back, He would rise again, His Light would kindle again. And when that happened He would reveal all things, and every man could see the hidden things of that night.

That Kansas black turned into a beautiful golden light and everything that the darkness had hidden was suddenly exposed.  As hard and weighty as our circumstances become, no matter how bleak the world’s condition looks, we can keep going forward because Jesus Christ, our Morning Star of Promise, has already come.  We know that in spite of how dark our eyes see the world around us, our hearts know that the darkness of our lives, of the world, have been defeated with the rising of the dawn of Christ’s resurrection.  Jesus revealed a Kingdom that was attached to this Star.  Because of Jesus’ life, because of Christ’s resurrection, there will never be a total darkness in our lives again.  The Morning Star of Promise is in every dawn for us.  Each day is a new day with the Promise of a Kingdom.

Look, we need not fear anything.  Surely, Life as we experience it every day can be tough.  We, being incomplete in our understanding of all that God has given to us, live with a bit of darkness lingering in our lives each day.  The full disclosure of The Revelation of Jesus Christ still gradually works its way through us.  That doesn’t totally happen in an hour, a day or years; however, we gradually come to know Him, just as each day comes with a star, a dawn and a full day of sun.  Christ has been given to us uniquely and expressively to reveal all things in the Light of God, Son and Spirit.  Daily, He stands and knocks (Rev. 3-20) for entry into our earthly lives.  His resurrection changed everything.  Now, just as that dawn progressed across that Topeka sky, we can, if willing, see more and more of God revealed in our lives.  Jesus Christ has announced the dawn of a new day for us.

June Newsletter-Future

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

The past few months I’ve written about Prayer, Revelation, Hope, Incarnation, and Miracles, all of which I’ve never written about before during the 27 years of WBVN.  This month: the Future, well kind of.

I don’t really mean the kind of future we see on a calendar or think of as our future dwelling place in the Heaven of God.  In some unique way, only a great God could pull off the future that I’m writing about. That’s because not only is our future coming, it’s already come.  This future is both here and yet it has not come into full view just yet.   But, it’s a future that (wrap your brain around this), in Jesus’ own words, is neither in waiting or in hiding.  Actually, his words suggest the future is already present –that the ‘the Kingdom of God is come’ and is coming all at the same time. Perhaps a hint of it can be found in Paul’s implication that believers have already died, not to die again.

Let’s start here with these two points: With God it’s possible for the glorious to co-exist within the deplorable.  Also, God is able to be present here and yet never leave the realm of Heaven.  God, through Christ, has made it possible for us to experience the Wonderful while living in the rebellious, the peaceful inside the chaotic.  Jesus started something that was never present before on earth.  He did not change the politic, the economic, or even the flesh, but nonetheless, His Life, Burial and Resurrection left this world in the middle of a new future. Not a future that would simply come someday down the road, but one that has already begun and continues on its way to the fruition of the manifestation of the Son of Man.  The Kingdom of God is simply any place that He is present and He is present everywhere in the form of the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit of the Father.  Now, this future, the one already present, is God’s (Father, Son and Spirit’s) way of living in our lives while we live in this messed up world.  They’re not absent to be joined with us later, they’re present and to be experienced now. God so loved the world that he gave and stayed in it.  Stayed in an intimate relationship with it.  The future came to us, stepped into our creation and corruption; His Name was Jesus Christ.

I heard a story once about a woodcarver who was being interviewed about the beauty of his work.  When asked how he could possibly take a block of wood and carve such an inspiring eagle, his response was that he just cuts away everything that’s not eagle.  Inside that wood block was something that, while we could not see it, was present just the same.  Something about what Christ has done can be revealed by peeling away the layers of earth that are simply not the Gospel.  After the crucifixion, Jesus definitely affirmed that those people standing beside him were standing in the Kingdom of God.  Said that in the bleakness of having been rejected, alienated and crucified.  Yet, right in the middle of the very air they breathed was air of the Kingdom.  Only God can make that possible, make it true.  That day, their senses surely told them something different; their fleshly experiences surely seemed to make Jesus appear as the most unknowing or at the worst most ignorant man that had ever walked the earth.  But, somehow, Jesus knew that a cosmic turning had taken place.  A turning that, yes, had a future hope but also a present purpose.  The Kingdom of God surrounded them in that very moment!

Surely, we’ve become suspicious that doing anything about the past or the future is pretty much impossible.  I know we try to control both but to little avail.  However, if we could whittle away both the past and our attempt to do life our way (our plans), we’re really only left with today.  Today is what Jesus taught us to take thought of.  Reality is now.  The future imaged by our flesh has no guarantee of ever being real.  The Kingdom of God is today, it’s placed within our moment and we’re encouraged to take no thought of tomorrow.  That’s exactly the opposite of everything we’re taught as children, as students at school and as professionals of whatever career we choose.  We can, in small steps I think, learn to trust in today, just get through this moment, and learn that tomorrow will take care of itself.  I know that’s too much to accomplish in one newsletter or perhaps even months of conversation, but something about it is validated by the very fact that it was the Spirit of Christ who said it.  It’s taken me years to experience in any consistent form. Many times I think if I could have only started ‘in my future’ not my past or my present, how much easier life would have been.

Most of our time thinking about our future is mixed with a good dose of fear for the unknown.  I think what ‘cooks’ that into our hearts is because our futures are almost always imaged as being alone and without Father, Son and Spirit.  In our thinking, most of our futures are imagined as bleak.  However, even if we could look far into tomorrow and beyond, the one truth above all truths is: God is there, He’s in the middle of all that.  He’s been here with you in the past and He’s going to be with you in what we call a future (if that’s what you prefer to call it).  Actually, he doesn’t call it that, God calls it all ‘today’.  Now is the appointed day for God.  When we step from this life into the next, we will simply step into an eternal day, not night or day, no sun or moon, simply one very eternal day. That will be true tomorrow and forever.  Let me just say this at the risk of the guys with the white coats coming in and grabbing me as I type.  A new creation has already begun. Something new was added to the old.  Just because we don’t see the fullness of it doesn’t mean that we’re not right in the middle of it.

Until the fullness of His manifestation comes, as believers, we’re put to service to make more ‘bits’ of the new creation happen within the world as it still is.  We live in a future that’s already ticking away, an eternity that has already taken root, live in a victory in a war that’s already been won.

The future has come to us in Christ, now we can step into that future.  For sure the world is still doing all the things it did before, but there’s one added ingredient– a new creation sits within it.  We may not, in fact it appears in scripture as though we won’t, get our act together to bring Heaven to earth.  He has already and will always do that.  There’s a commercial that says, “I got your six.”  In the military, “Got your six” means I’ve got your back. It originated with World War I fighter pilots referencing a pilot’s rear side as the six o’clock position.  Let me assure you, He has our six.  If it depended on me or you, this Gospel and its future would be in trouble.  God is going to see this through; He will see that the end is exactly as He promised.

The Kingdom of God that Jesus secured and delivered to us is not hidden behind a planet in the Milky Way, not on another ‘earth environment’ somewhere.  The Son of God actually came from outside the stars, separated from all the universes, to be born of a woman, in a manger, in a not so sterile environment, stepped into an earth suit, patiently sat around a fire talking to his disciples, volunteered to suffer a most cruel and unjust death, just to be with you.  God, for the first time since Eden, walked and talked with His creatures.  Shared with them, gave vision to them and placed in this world the opportunity for us to Live in His Life in the middle of this earthly life.

He stands at the door of our world encouraging us to let Him step into our day to day.  He didn’t die that we might only go to Heaven some day, he died so that we might have Life, experience that more abundantly and do that now.  Living with Him is the future and that has not been delayed.  I’ve heard that Life in songs and poems, felt it in embraces, in kindnesses, in the look of a mother and child, in a father and a son.  I’ve seen that Life at reunions of family or friends, at hospitals and cemeteries.  His Kingdom is something stronger than this breath. It lays itself on top of the hurts and heals when healing seems so far away.  A new creation has been ushered into this creation and sits, today, inside this experience.

In 2012 when Jane was paralyzed head to toe, unable to speak, all her organs had failed; in a very practical sense Jane had no physical life except pain.  Months after her recovery, her expression to me was that the distance between this world and His world was as thin as a breath.  Actually, there was no distance in that moment.  In that environment, all Fear was cast away.  All Peace came right in the middle of Chicago, of all places, right there in an IC unit in a hospital, of all places, there in a cold, dark, painful paralysis. The Kingdom of God was present in the presence of a personal Jesus Christ.  No person can produce that by human will.  No person can fool themselves or con themselves into experiencing the presence of God.  Only a real place, only Heaven in the real world, can produce that kind of Calm.  Only a great God could pull off our future and place it in our now and chaotic world.

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