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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.

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

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

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

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

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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