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September Newsletter- CCM

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Celebrating over 27 Years of WBVN’s Contemporary Christian Music…  Contemporary Christian Music!  That’s the moniker we’ve hung our hat on for over 27 years now.  We’ve described how Keith Green, Phil Keaggy, and Randy Stonehill might be considered the founding fathers of CCM.  I’m OK with that, but let me add an asterisk and, at least with a smile, suggest another way to look at the purpose of the music we play.  It’s a short quote from Katharina Schütz Zell recorded almost 500 years ago.  Remember that Christian music has been discussed for such a long time, actually as far back as the Song of Moses.  Here’s Katharina’s statement:

‘God is glad when the craftsman at his bench, the maid at the sink, the farmer at the plough, the dresser at the vines, the mother at the cradle break forth in hymns of prayer, praise and instruction.’

Katharina was a convert during the Luther Reformation, wife of a priest, and pamphleteer with a highly intense concern for the spiritual life of, what we might call today, everyday folks. As a result she began to publish hymns in pamphlet form, thereby encouraging people to participate in a musical experience with God, not just on Sundays but every day of the week.  Martin Luther has been quoted as saying music was “a gift of God to be nurtured and used by man for his delight and edification, as a means for giving praise of the Creator, and as a vehicle for the proclamation of God’s Word.”  So maybe Keith, Phil and Randy will forgive us for looking back a little earlier for the early roots of that every day, ‘at the sink’ music which we trust holds an important place in believers’ lives.

It was for that very reason that we started this radio ministry all those year ago.  Music is relevant to people’s everyday lives and helps put them in contact with a stepped up Worship.  WBVN music can encourage and help all of us focus on Christ. Way to go Katharina!  And, thank you.  Simply put, WBVN is here to declare Good News, Superior News, to the daily grind of today’s world.  We’re here to give an alternative perspective of what the world systems have to offer.  That said, I’d like to ask you a question: do you think God is in trouble?  Is it possible He’s grown a little too old, maybe a bit tired, weary?  How ’bout He’s slowed down a bit or that all the pressure of the world’s problems have become just a little too much for Him to stay on top of.  Just can’t keep up with it anymore.  I mean, more people, more problems, more anger, and more unbelief.  Or, rather, are you one of those believers that in your heart knows that He’s perfectly OK and fully capable, and that image of that old gray-haired man of our imagination might be a bit off course.

WBVN came into being, was commissioned in my and Jane’s hearts and minds, to do one thing and one only: encourage the Body of Christ, the believing Church of Christ.  That’s all we’re about.  It’s all we intend to do.  We’re not about doctrine or denomination, that’s for you to work out individually.  We did not make a mental decision to do this ministry; it was a heart-felt, believed calling for us.  What we’ve discovered is this music is far better than the people that create it or those that produce it or even those of us that share it.  It has a Heavenly purpose, stepped up from the talent and skill of the people that deliver its message; sometimes it’s above a simple lyric or tune.  Worship, even in its lowest form, which this might be, is still a powerful tool chiseled by the Spirit of God.  Here’s why I make that statement.

I think God has built an optimism into the creation. Celebrating that optimism in song sustains optimism in us. No matter the amount of decay in our lives, a new shoot can come forward to bloom again, an infant tree appears, matures to bear fruit.  Over and over again we can see that patterned in the history of the Gospel.  Historically, this Word is seemingly always defeated and being passed off for dead.  Yet even today, a day of so much confusion and stress in our daily lives, the most obviously needed discussion that humans need to address continues to center on: is God dead or is God King of all.  For six thousand years we’re still debating that issue as though this was a brand new challenge.  It is not; this story has been repeated thousands of times over the history of mankind.

For my two cents’ worth, God, in His Wisdom, loaded this creation so that He wins, comes out on top, makes the final decision. I keep scratching my head trying to figure out, it’s crazy really, what makes humans applaud what seems like the best liars in our politics, the anti-heroes in our novels, movies and television.  What makes us so easily take innocent lives before birth, and defend that practice passionately.  What makes many so violent when they’re confronted by the foolishness of their arguments about taking those innocent lives.  Why does the creature hate Truth so much.  In spite of all that, God still overcomes evil with good, and even more importantly, the secular with the Spirit.  I’m relaxed about that, made up my mind about that.  Can’t be moved by what I see or hear about that.

As Katharina believed, professionals, maids, farmers, gardeners, mothers, fathers, all need ‘breaks’ of prayer, praise and instruction.  CCM plays a role in creating a perspective in a world that, left to its own, will debase rather than encourage.  There’s Wisdom in the 23 Proverb, ‘As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.’  What we think about, how we think about it, is of primary importance.  Left to the world’s default, the heart of man drives man to negative conclusions.  With hymns and psalms, the world steps to a different beat and comes to different, more positive conclusions.  Universally, our perception of what we see, hear and believe clouds our vision of any present or future.  We’re instructed, not so much as a suggestion but as a necessity, to think on these things: whatever is True, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these. (Phil. 4:8)  (I think the shortcut to doing that might be to simply think on Jesus Christ, He’s all those mentioned.)

Someday (it’s happened over and over before) we’ll again run out of things to substitute for the One thing that’s real, The Gospel.  I don’t know when, or how, or where, but I’m undoubting that that will happen.  Or, I guess we really will come to an End.  God has rigged the table, stacked the deck in His favor.  That’s a measure of His Love for His creation rather than a domination over the creation.  He just will not let go of us, will not retreat in spite of our rejection.  We’ll run our course and then at the end of that, He’ll appear to us again.  If not physically then He’ll appear again at least in Spirit and Truth as has been done so many times past.  Just as Israel did, who was companioned with Him for thousands of years, the world will come to its end and Christ will appear to reset the priorities once again.  Again, if not in an appearing, at least in a new and fresh revealing.  At least this much is true, according to Scripture, even the last falling away has a glorious end and a triumphant beginning of something new.  Not something where God is diminished or defeated, but where He is made obvious.  I believe that, in spite of our individual wins and losses, the big picture shows us a glorious future separated from this current stress.  He is a strong, dynamic God, excited about you, and He definitely  has not grown too old or tired to be triumphant in the world and in you.

While super important, it’s not only our study that enlightens us about the Father.   Much of the time our heart attitude helps build a place for the Spirit of God to grow, develop and enhance our coming to know Him.  So, I’m saying that to cut a bit of a niche for Contemporary Christian Music in the Church today.  It’s not perfect, as though anything ever is, but it helps set a tone for our daily walk with Christ in this world.  It can build an environment of fertile soil for the seed of God’s Word to grow.  So as Katharina would say, sing along, at the sink, in the car, at work!  Maybe you could even help us encourage that singing along by helping us financially during our next WBVN Celebration on Sept 27, 28 and 29th.  Thank you for 27 great years!

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.

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