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October Newsletter-Jump Rope

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Back in the day, when Jane and I raised three girls, there was moment in each girl’s life when it was all about jumping rope. It was a ritual for girls. Every little girl that we knew had a jump rope. Even the schools our daughters attended had large, grass jumping ropes. I tried ‘jumping’ a couple times. I still remember some of the lingo: ‘hot peppers’ and ‘double dutch.’ I also remember that the secret to jumping rope was the timing. I mean, the rope, or in some cases the ropes, were ‘whirlwinds’ of rope! I can still imagine one of our daughters standing at the side, ‘semi-stepping’ into the rope, waiting for just the right time to ‘step in’. They needed to get into the rhythm of the thing to get into the thing! Remembering that ‘whirlwind’ of ropes reminded me of how life is, and especially the Christian Life.

Our lives are like those whirlwinds. We’re trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. We’re attempting to become financially secure; most everyone is trying to ‘get theirs’ before someone else comes along and takes ‘theirs’ from them. Most are searching for a fountain of youth. We’re dieting. We’re exercising. We look for purpose. Ever since the Garden of Eden incident, the children of Adam and Eve have ‘paddled upstream’ against so many daily struggles. In the beginning, Adam and Eve lived in an environment that fostered Peace. I doubt that they knew what a ‘whirlwind’ was. Now, earth comes with its daily ‘hard-labor’.
That’s why it’s so critical for believers to enter into His Rest. Doing that is very much like entering that jump rope. Having been made alive to God, we can then enter into the life-style of the Gospel. Jesus said, ‘If you abide in my Word, then you are my disciples, and you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you Free.’ Just as in this Scripture verse, the Christian life is a process, one step at a time, a journey each day. We move along the journey, possibly to find freedom each day! I mean you have to go through something; we need to get in ‘order’ with God, to discover the fullness of God. Remember: Body, Soul and Spirit. Faith, Hope and Love. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Things ‘that were, that are and that are to come.’ The Outer court, Inner court and Holy of Holies of the tabernacle. All those are the order of God’s universe. We move through places with God, in patterns ordered by God. To get to the Peaceful place of God, we will need to move in His patterns in our daily lives. We will need to get into the ‘rhythm’ of God, get into His ways and not just our ways.

I have used this story before but let’s just suppose we are going to have a seminar on chairs. We can get coffee table books showing us pictures of all kinds of chairs. We can purchase DVD’s that show us how chairs are designed, manufactured and sold. We can travel to factories and look at all kinds of chairs. We can buy a chair or buy hundreds of chairs, but having done all those things, you’ll still not really ‘know’ the true nature and purpose of a chair until you’ve sat down on one! You must put all your weight on a chair before you know everything there is to know about a chair. Before that, you had a theory about chairs, you had ideas about how a chair works and even speculated on a chair’s purpose. However, you have to actually sit in a chair to know all about chairs. The Gospel is the same. All the reading, the memorizing, the attending Bible studies, traveling to conferences and discussions about the Gospel will only leave you with a philosophy about the Gospel. Until you have put you weight (your life) on the Gospel you really don’t know the fullness of the Gospel. To find that peaceful place inside this earthly whirlwind, we will need to enter into the center of that whirlwind. That’s where God is, that’s where our Peace is.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘eye of the hurricane’. In the center of those storms, with winds and destruction all around, there is a place where it’s calm. You can actually stand in the ‘eye’, right in the middle of that storm, and be perfectly safe. The Gospel will do that for us. Right in the middle of the war on terror, in the middle of financial pressure, in the heat of a medical crisis, there is a Peaceful Place! Jesus referred to it, expected it. But, you’re not going to be able to enter into it by just ‘talking about it’. We will have to get in rhythm with the ‘God life’; we’ll have to take a step to get in there! Just as we must get into the rhythm of the rope to enter into ‘hot peppers’, we’ll need to get into the rhythm of God as well. Become a giver, not just with money, but attitude as well. Become an encourager, not just someone needing encouragement all the time. Become someone that is externally minded, aware of others’ hopes and needs. The center of that storm, it can be stress-less. It is calm inside that place once you get in the ‘center’. There will be things going on all around you but you will not have to struggle each day. You will not ‘pull your hair out’ trying to come up with every solution. You will enter into a state of trusting God in a way that you have not been able to do thus far.

Will everything be perfect? No! Will it always go well? Probably not! Is every day a ‘picnic’? No– might be a war that day! We may not be able to avoid the war but we can know that God is with us even in that terrible place. God’s blessings come just the same. There is a special meaning to the Hebrew word for blessing, “r’racha.” In the Hebrew language words are either male or female. In this case, the word “r’racha” is female. Its essence is that one blessing becomes two blessings, and so on. You see, “r’racha” has the ability and the nature to multiply itself! One blessing produces many more! They will come if we are in that center place, His Rest, that secret place that God has prepared for us. Get in rhythm with God. Give and expect it to grow, Love and expect it to multiply, Trust and watch the Father be Trustworthy. That’s the rhythm of God. The world will rub against us, and that can chafe and even irritate us, but keep doing Faith even when things don’t seem to be working for you. Look, there are three ways to live life: being evil and separated from God, being good and yet separated from God or being alive because we are right in the middle of the rhythm of God. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. We need to stop looking back to see if Faith is working. We’ll have to step forward into God’s rhythm, just like our daughters stepped into that jump rope. God’s rhythm is just simply doing life in the way that God says works for us and avoiding life the way the world brings it to us. Going back is to step back into the whirlwind, and according to Scripture, going back is seven times worse! We should never give up. Just do it! Over and over, do it! That faithful ‘action’ will eventually produce a ‘kingdom’ blessing from the Life of God, and our worldly experience will be interrupted by evidences of God in our lives; we will be able to count them, experience them and trust for them as we abide in the Rest to be found in the center of this storm. Our girls never ran away from that ‘double-dutch’… they ran straight into the center and got into its rhythm.

September Newsletter-Separation

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Yikes! What’s going on here?  Ok, I get the political thing.  I understand the posturing.  I’ve even lowered my expectations on what to expect from our political leaders.  I now only have little hope that we can again raise our heads and find a national purpose with integrity.  But, what is really going on in the big picture?  Why the total hatefulness, the discouragement?  Who’s peaceful?

Well, here’s my guess as to where we’re at.  There’s a separation going on, one huge, big, colossal rejection here.  It’s the fruit of 40 years of trying to shake God.  We’ve outlawed Him, disparaged His Name and His Character.  We’ve tried ridicule, suspension, attack, rumor, name calling, everything you can think of to paint a picture of God in such a way as to create doubt in the Christian community and create rejection by the world.  Now, all that independency from God is ‘coming home to roost’ and creating a world of aloneness.

Just as with Adam and Eve, we’ve arrived at their same conclusion; we’ve doubted the Love of God, the Passion of God for us. That doubt has successfully separated us from that very Love, that very Life.  In becoming dependent upon ourselves rather than on Him to take care of us, we’ve died from His Life.  It’s pretty tricky really.  The separation can take a couple different paths to accomplish its goal of independence from God.  One is just simply Evil.  That separation is justified in a hatred of God.  It ‘unbelieves’ and is in real opposition; it not only hates dependency upon God, it demands that others join their opposition to Him.  Anything attributable to the Love of God spontaneously starts the fires of anger and the battle to eliminate the very possibility of God.  ‘God is dead!’ is the battle cry.  Loving the darkness is its heart.  This Evil is simply anti-Spirit, Anti-Christ.  It does not hide its opposition or its hatred; it’s an obvious pulling away from all things ‘God’ and loves doing so.

Another kind of separation is actually not sinister and can be simple and motivated from a good place and well intended.  Many times it takes place by not directly opposing the Father, but actually it can raise Him up, can declare Him.  It does have a weakness in its religious fervor.  It does not destroy the Christian Life but inhibits it.  It can proclaim the reality of God but deny the dependency, relationship, or fellowship with the Love of God.  In all its bravado, it falls off into self-righteousness and elitism.  It’s motivated correctly and purposefully, but forgets to include the Love of God in its environment.  While the other separation is obvious and hateful, this separation can be subtle.  It was a small lie, actually a suggestion, which led Adam and Eve away from the Joy and Peace of their lives into self dependency and fear; they developed a suspicion of God’s Goodness, His Love and total Devotion to them.  Adam and Eve knew God, walked and talked with God, but they began to suppose that God did not really include them in the intimacy of His Life.  That suspicion flushed them into an image and a life of fear, doubt and self-centeredness.  It was not their ‘un-believeness’ that separated them, it was their misinterpretation of the Heart and the Nature of God.

They forgot that God did not Love as an action, but Loved as a Nature.  In the garden He included them, cared and provided for them, lavished His Life toward them.  They forgot that they were created in the Image of God and began a process of making God in their human image.  They ran and hid because of their fear of an angry God, hid themselves from what they presumed would be a God of retaliation.  They simply separated themselves from Him in their mind, assuming something was true about God that was not true at all about God: that He was angry with them, just fed up with them, God looking for revenge.

Sept-2That was not the reaction of God at all.  Asking Adam ‘where are you’ was not God looking behind every tree and leaf to find them, it was God asking them, Adam where is your head, where’s your heart in this hiding.  In other words, ‘Adam stop!  Think about how you perceive Me’.  Adam and Eve did not physically die that day but they died to being alive in the relationship and fellowship of God.  They cut themselves off from the Vine of Life and Source of their Joy and Peace.  Their lives continued but their hearts perished.  They had forgotten that from the foundation of the world God Loved them; had forgotten that the Father, Son and Spirit of God provided a sacrificial Lamb for them before the Fall.  In forgetting what they knew about God they separated themselves from God’s very Life.  That separation was self-imposed; it was them doing something to themselves rather than God doing anything to them.  They believed ‘against God’ and suffered the consequences for that ‘misguided belief.’  We need to be careful of doing that again today as we play in the playgrounds of self-sufficiency and self-righteousness.

James’s scriptures taught us that a double-minded person should expect nothing.  Double-mindedness is best translated ‘double-souled’, believing two different pictures of God: one is imaged as Father and the other to be shunned as Judge.  Given that picture, we’re simply left to wonder what’s going to happen next, what mood He’s in today!  If we trust completely in Him, if we know He is Love, we should experience the Fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of knowing the Spirit, rather than fruit of fear and doubt.  Paul says in Colossians 1:21 that we are alienated (estranged) in our minds.  That our problems stem from the thinking we’ve done about God, humanizing Him in our human image rather than an image of God characterized by Corinthians chapter 13.  We’ve bathed our minds in the same image as Adam and Eve.   Rather than knowing an image of a caring Father seeking them out, providing a Remedy, we assumed an image of revenge.  We forget He is a God of Mercy not misery.  Paul teaches that now, He has reconciled us through His death, to present you Holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight.

Paul was the most informed, he understood the most, about the Christian Life, and he still found struggle and rejection.  Paul’s Faith, his relationship with God, did not isolate him from trouble.  Knowing God’s heart is the healing balm to all our struggles.  Knowing God’s heart brings the Comfort and the Peace of God to calm our souls and refresh our bodies.   In our effort to explain God I think we sometimes try to use the Flesh to describe the Spiritual.  Paul thought such was foolish.  Looking at what is going on in the realm of the body or soul will not make a good yardstick for what is going on spiritually.  ‘Yikes, what is going on here?’ is not answered by looking around us.  The Kingdom of God is not meat or drink but Righteousness, and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit.  Relationship with God yields that Fruit of the Spirit:  Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness and Temperance…  Those are the evidences of His presence, His Kingdom.  They were exactly the world of Adam and Eve before they separated themselves from Him by thinking He was any other God than the One that walked and talked and provided for them.  One little lie about the Nature and Character of God destroyed the Source of their Life.  I believe that’s why Jesus asked Peter, ‘Who do you say I am?’   The answer to that can make a big difference in what to expect about God in our lives.

August newsletter-Rushes and Mire

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

“A sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured it up.  Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth… because they had no root they withered away.  Some fell among thorns; the thorns sprung up and choked them.  Others fell into good ground and brought forth fruit, some a hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold…”  (Matthew 13).  The good news is it all brought forth fruit, anywhere it was sown, and that’s the story of Jesus Christ.

“Can the rush grow up without the mire?”  That was Bildad the Shuhite’s question to Job in Chapter 8 verse 11.  Bildad’s purpose for that question was to be revealed in a later verse (19), for “out of the earth others shall grow.”  Mire!  That’s what we all are experiencing in some way or another.  It comes in a thousand different recipes but it’s ugly, it’s gooey and it sticks!  Just showing up in this fallen world qualifies you for a bit of mire and muck in your life.

Jesus often met people in the mire, in their darkness, and he did something about their lives.  In fact most all the miracles were expressed to the lost, the least, the last.  People stuck in their mire if you will.  Tax collectors, the blind, the lame, the sick, the poor, the hungry, the brokenhearted, the lonely outcast-all stuck in the unpleasantness this life can bring.  Perhaps the most stuck guy in the bunch was Saul and his murderous attitude against the Christian Faith.  Paul went from violently persecuting the Church, from overseeing the stoning of Stephen, to Apostle.  All that Jesus touched were raised up out of their unique situations and given ‘newness of Life.’  God makes Life out of mire!  He makes something beautiful out of ugly, gooey and sticky.  Not necessarily overnight, but with time.  As those seeds are sown they will need to have some rest, some quiet, will need to be hidden away in the ground before they are visible above the ground. In Jesus’ parable, the farmer planted and went away, not looking back, but leaving that hidden seed to work its way to the surface and be seen.  Many times our lives will need that same procedure as well.  If you plant and immediately start rooting around, rummaging for proof of a crop, you will destroy the very crop that is hoped for.  Left to itself, given time to germinate, left undisturbed, it will produce new Life, some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred fold, but a harvest will come no matter; all that can come out of the rotting, decomposing things of our lives.  Don’t give up.  Jesus came to overcome the mire and bring us Life.

Bildad’s rushes were actually reeds that grew along the Nile River bank.  Just to look at them, you might not have a clue as to what a great benefit they were to that culture.  However, they truly played a significant part in people’s daily lives and carried significant value because they had so many uses.  Papyrus reeds were woven and used for clothing, their roots were burned for warmth, the rushes were woven to make sails for their boats, the poor people had to eat the plant occasionally, and many times they were crushed and made into papyrus paper.  Moses, who as a baby was hidden in the rushes, eventually used the reed papyrus paper to write the first books of the Bible.  Amazingly, the Egyptians advanced their culture above all others of that time because of their ability to write and pass their thoughts and way of living down to the next generation.  Simply, without those rushes we would have had no books, no written narrative or literature from their history.  Just as importantly, however, there would not have been any rushes without the “muck” in the bottom of that Nile River bank.  Yep, muck!  That mire turned out to be pretty important stuff.  It was located about 6 feet below the rushes.  In its own unique way it was miracle stuff.  Muck is a coagulation of dead things, dead things that produce life.  Today it could be compared to the stuff you’ve felt between your toes if you’ve ever been brave enough to step out into a farm pond.  It looks and smells terrible.  It’s dark, ugly stuff for sure, but without the mire, the rush would not grow!  Without the mire the rushes that benefited those people would not have been possible.  That stuff under water, out of sight and seemingly insignificant, was the foundation to what was seen above the water.  In the order of God, mire comes before the reed!  Another way to say it is to have good reeds you gotta have “muck.”

Just like Bildad, we believe that “out of good soil others shall grow.”  Our declaration is it’s God’s desire to grow Life out of the daily muck we may come in contact with, make something new out of something dead, bringing Life to life.  Even in the middle of muck, there is still hope for Life to spring out of that darkness.  Jesus’ implication all along was that we would need to bury our lives in order to see a risen Life.  We would have to die to our own mire in order for our new Lives to come forth.

WBVN “sets the table” for all ministry to come and sow, tend and harvest.  We prepare the environment, charge the environment, with potential for the miracles we call the Christian Life.  Our prayer is that the Christian community would be mixed with encouragement and faith, that apostolic ministry would follow to lead us in the Spirit of Christ, that teachers would come and plant Word seed, that pastors would care for the community of faith, and that the evangelists would inspire healings in the Church Life and the dead would be brought to Life.   Of all people, we who believe in Christ and all that He did to provide Life as the Father would have it for us, we have the most Hope.

From all of us at the station we wish you a great summer and hope to see you at the concerts this fall. Thank you for supporting and praying for this ministry.

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