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Newsletters

March Newsletter-John 17

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

I celebrate a birthday in April.  I won’t tell you which one but it’s a few dozen.  Having another, a big number, birthday got me to thinking about my life a little more reflectively than perhaps I usually do.  Oh, I say pretty much the same things that most people say about their life when thinking backwards a bit, ‘it’s been a good life’, ‘I don’t know if I’d change a thing’ etc.  In my case, and I’m sure many others, it’s actually been much more than good, it’s been precious actually.  Recently listening to my wife Jane and hearing about some of the things she was dealing with brought my favorite scripture in all the New Testament to mind.  Actually, there are many single or short scriptures that might be considered my favorite scripture.  I guess it’s more accurate to say these scriptures are more like my favorite Chapter in the New Testament.  John Chapter 17 has always caught my attention because it does one thing better than any other chapter- reveals the inner workings, the heart and purpose of God in our lives.

Most of you know that in March, 2012, Jane was suddenly and critically immersed in a health crisis that placed her in the hospital paralyzed head to toe and on life support.  I’ve written about that a lot, discussed it on the radio and privately among friends.  Needless to say, something happened and something was revealed during that incident that stopped me in my tracks.  Startling might be a good adjective.  Her vision and version of that incident was totally different than what I was physically seeing.  I looked at an eighty-eight pound person, someone that could not talk, eat, breathe, none of her organs was functioning, yet she assuredly confirmed and made clear that her spirit, married to the Spirit, was completely and fully healthy and alive.  Everything I was seeing with my eyes was conflicted with what I was seeing with my heart.  Jane had, in some sense of the word, a unique, let’s call it a light.  Something that she possessed and yet something that she seemed to not own but more correctly carried.  It was a beyond understanding light that pulled us all—doctors, nurses, friends, family and me closer to her.  What we were seeing simply did not match what we were feeling and observing in our hearts.  Something about being in the middle of that misery, the terror of that moment still had an intangible Hope in it.  Something about who Jane was overshadowed what she was going through and left all around her with a vision of a knowing and comfort that there was more than what met the eye going on there.  That’s my jumping off spot to quote John 17:

These words Jesus spoke, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:  As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.   And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.  I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gave me to do.   And now, O Father, glorify thou me with your own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.   I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gave me out of the world: Yours they were, and thou gave them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gave me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are Yours.

And all mine are Yours, and Yours are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through Your own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gave me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou should take them out of the world, but that thou should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 

 

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

 

Jesus came to uniquely show us the Father, show us 100% of the Father.  He was again in these verses revealing even more of the Father’s heart and character with this prayer.  Did everything that was prayed in this prayer line up with His earthly experience?  Did everything that was prayed look like what He had seen with his eyes from believers?  Did what He was saying measure up to what even His own disciples had done?  Hardly!  This prayer is the essence of God’s heart toward us, His Hope for us, His Patience with us!  Jesus was expressing God’s Wisdom and words shared with us again by Paul: the just do not live by sight but by Faith. (2Cor. 5-7)  What I saw in the hospital in Chicago was real.  There was no room for denial.  Jane was very near death, the only thing healthy was her spirit.

What we see with our eyes is real; it’s just that it’s not the whole Truth.  He is the whole Truth.  If you believe the prophesies of MSNBC or Fox News then you’re only seeing the drama around us but not getting the whole picture of what’s going  on in addition to the drama.  There’s more than the knowledge of our failures, our hard-heartedness, and our ill bodies than meets the eye.  As Christians, we live in a better place than the world has to sell us.  It may take courage and a barrow of Faith but we can be in the middle of a storm and have no fear.  The reason for that is that inner light that I saw in Jane is in you also.  Hers was revealed in the middle of the stress.  Sometimes ours gets hidden as under a bushel.  Left with nothing but her spirit, hers was a reflection of Him inside her; most of the time we reflect only ourselves.

It fascinates me how people can be very close to us and still not know exactly who we really are.  Jane, being my wife, has revealed herself to me in a way that’s only been revealed to me and me alone.  It’s personal.  I know her completely in a different way than anyone else knows her.  I’m the only one that can tell you about her in a way that no one else can.  Jane and I have had the privilege of knowing she and I are one.  One unlike we could be one with any other two people.  Her parents, her brother and sisters, her daughters, her friends, her community, none of those know the Jane Ann I know.  That’s the knowing that Jesus knows about the Father.   Jesus came to reveal the Father to us and how He thinks, how He hopes and how much He desires to seek us out and personalize His offer of Grace and Peace.  Jesus, the Spirit, and the Father are One, and their desire is to invite us into knowing them in a way that only they and you can know each other.

Let me paraphrase chapter 17: Jesus has been given power over all, he came that we might know the Father, Jesus finished a work by Him for us, all that is of Christ is the Father’s as well, all that is the Father’s belongs to Jesus as well, Their Hope is that we will be one with Them, and as such we would have Their Joy, set us apart from the world because of the Truth we possess, Jesus is in the Father, the Father is in Christ and we are in Jesus as well, know that the Father sent Jesus and loved Him and loves you in same manner, know that love began before Adam, before the world even existed and I, Jesus have known the Father in a way that no other has known Him and Jesus has been sent and has eagerly come to share that with whosoever will and Jesus will be with believers always.  That’s a revealing, an expression of the Love of God toward us.  All that’s left for us to experience that, to know that, is to say and know in our hearts:   ‘Amen!’

February Newsletter-Sally

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

WBVN just celebrated a birthday; January 8th, 1990, was our first day broadcasting CCM.  We’ve rotated thousands of songs for almost 16 million minutes of programming since that day.  Our first concert was on June 6th of that same year. There’ve been lots of little memories made over those years.  Mark Schultz’s motorcycle ride with Marci and her husband.  Rich Mullins drinking his usual Coke while performing.  Christy Nockels, practically silencing the audience that night with the incredible quality of her voice, a stunningly silent audience.  Phillips, Craig and Dean going down into the audience to sing a song to Carla, who came in a wheelchair, suffering the pain to see her favorite artists.  Tragically, Carla passed away 10 days later.  Phil Keaggy playing his hair comb for an instrument.  Andrew Peterson strumming an armadillo skin ukulele. NewSong’s surprise ‘pop-up’ concert giving us just a 72 hour notice.  Bryan Duncan getting all tangled up in a mic cord while twisting and turning to ‘Holy Rollin’.  We celebrated Mark and Kate’s anniversary one Saturday night, surprising Mark with Kate sitting in the audience and discovering her as he sang on stage.  Big Daddy Weave recorded a cd here.  In December 2017,Crowder–yep that Crowder–doing two Christmas concert appearances for us.  And now a new memory is about to happen.  We will be hosting our 205th event in just a few days on Saturday, February 16th.  This event is unlike anything that we’ve ever presented for the BVN community.  Singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson will host the evening featuring special guest, author of The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones.  The event features musical performances by Andrew and story-telling by both performers with support from video from their fictional book characters. For sure, these two have intriguing stories to tell. Approximately two hours of ‘Lost In Wonder’, and I think that concert night tag represents exactly what it will be: Wonderful.

Sally’s book has sold over 2.7 million copies since its release in 2007.  She was born in Uganda and now lives in New York.  Andrew has been performing CCM since the early 2000’s and has written numerous children’s books known as the Wingfeather Saga series.  Andrew was one of our favorite guests and a repeating artist for WBVN since his first BVN concert at the Aldersgate Methodist Church in 2001.

Including Taylor Mason, our 2019 first two events have concentrated on quality family friendly events.  In today’s cultural environment we believe it’s important to sponsor such events in our community bringing family and friends together.  Concerts, specifically events that bring parents, children and grandparents together, hold a promise of great evenings but just as importantly hold the promise of future memories and ‘forever’ moments.  Check out the video information on our website at wbvn.org and get a feel for how special this can be.

The following words are the opening chapter of:  The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Chapter 1
The Story and The Song
Introduction from Psalm 19 and Hebrews 1

The Heavens are singing about how great God is;
And the skies are shouting it out, “See what God has made!”
Day after day…Night after night…They are speaking to us.

Psalm 19:1-2 (paraphrase)

 

God wrote, “I love you” — he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote his message everywhere! Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror – to show us what he is like, to help us know him, to make our hearts sing.
The way a kitten chases her tail. The way red poppies grow wild. The way a dolphin swims.
And God put it into words, too, and wrote it in a book called “the Bible.”

Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.

No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!
You see, the best thing about this Story is – it’s true.
There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story.  The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.
It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle – the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.
And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child upon whom everything would depend. This is the Child who would one day – but wait. Our Story starts where all good stories start. Right at the very beginning . . .

*******

That’s a simple message that’s appropriate for 6 year olds and 60 year olds.  The Gospel is simple really.  It can be shared in ways that make it recognizable and believable with simple words and simple tunes.  It’s the kind of thing we like to do. Over the years I’ve described our ministry as a ‘blue jeans Gospel’, comfortable, casual and a Gospel designed to be relevant 7 days a week.   This event is Andrew and Sally simply being themselves and eagerly sharing their talents and hearts. Events like this are not a guaranteed financially successful event for us, but an event that has meaning and purpose for those people that we’ve had the opportunity to care about for over 29 years now.

WBVN has been fun over the years, it’s been serious, it’s been compassionate, and it’s been entertaining.  It’s also been inspirational for all those years, been that for over 15.5 million minutes.  In some way, it’s taken all that time to finally work our way to this very special event.  It witnesses to our believing that God continues to work through this ministry to meet people’s hearts and needs, young and old, bringing wonderfully talented and gifted folks into our community and lives.   Each has been a blessing to ‘whosoever will’ come and experience what God has provided though these especially talented and thoughtful people.

Thank you for all the years– we’ve all had such good times together.  Get ready for another on Saturday, Feb. 16th.

January Newsletter- Jeep

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

I drive a Jeep.  In some ways I’m not really a Jeep person because, while I drive a Jeep, I drive only up and down the highway or street.  The people I know that really ‘drive’ Jeeps for all they’re worth – the hardcore – they drive Jeeps in ditches, through creeks, over rocks, on mountain switch-backs, up things, down things, in things; me, I’m just on pavement!  That said, I’ve owned four Jeep Wranglers beginning with a 1983 CJ, and currently a 2010.   I bring that up because in a sense I’ll be going off road a bit in this letter.  I’ll be away from the generally traveled pavement and on to some perhaps bumpy territory, or at the very least a little different way of thinking.  (Let me also say this, I’m not hard or pushy about all the stuff in this letter.  Actually, it’s only a different perspective, and I’m completely okay with it only being what I hope is simply another way to encourage people.)  In some sense I’m not trying to change things but, more accurately, adding to what we all do in the hard situations in which we occasionally find ourselves.  I’m not subtracting from how we commonly talk about Faith (what I will in this letter call ‘the Hand of God in our lives’).  It’s simply an attempt  to relieve some of the pressure I see on some people’s lives as they try, try, try to experience ‘Life as the Father would have it for them’.

Because we’re involved with daily radio ministry, occasionally Jane and I hear of many people struggling with either (1) trying to figure out what they can do that they’ve not been doing or (2) they’re trying to assess what went wrong with the things they have been doing.  Many times we hear of believers struggling with self-imposed pressure.  We hear of others experiencing pressure from their friends’ and family’s good intentions.  Put simply, we can let the Gospel become full of stress rather than the remedy that Jesus taught.  Jesus’ Gospel was about a Rest, an easy burden, a relief valve from rather than an ascent into greater pressure.

What did Jesus teach about experiencing more of His Gospel?  That was a question his followers asked in John 6:28.   Jesus answered:  ‘believe on Him whom He has sent.’  His answer was simple, direct and, most importantly, sufficient.  They pushed it a bit further by questioning, Jesus, you want us to believe, and we get the Moses and manna thing, is that what we must do, believe the stories about You handed down in our history?  Jesus clarified that the manna story, while true, was not exactly what he was referring to.  His answer to their question was an answer clearly about Himself.  Jesus instructed them to believe in the True Bread (Manna) from Heaven.  That Bread would give them not just physical life, but give them The Life, ‘Life as the Father would have it for them.’   Now here might be our first boulder along this off-road experience.  Throughout the New Testament, Jesus described specifically that he came to deliver to whosoever will, something called Life.  This Life was meant to distinguish between our biological life and our Eternal Life.   Jesus didn’t, by name, stress miracles as such but emphasized a new way of Living; a Way that would produce a new experience with the Hand of God in our lives.  Those things that we call miracles are really a moment contained within something much bigger than that.  Jesus’ new Way of Life was not about us persuading God, as though this new Life depended upon us to persuade our Father to do things for us.  It was not about any bargaining that could take place, as though we’ve reached such a level of Faith that we had anything to bargain with in ourselves.  In fact, Jesus implied that the Father is actually eager to be in the middle of our lives in this New Life.  Our Father isn’t looking for us to come up with some secret before opening the door of Heaven to us.  The only key, the only thing, that Jesus identified that would work for us to experience a Life similar to the one He lived here, was simply believe.   Personally, I don’t think about a miracle here and a miracle there.  Rather, I prefer to look at this Gospel as a whole Life of miracle after miracle.  In my thinking, the Hand of God consistently brings us Life as the Father would have it for us.  Miracles not rare, but miracles common!

Now here comes another rough area to travel in this little off the highway adventure.  Okay, believe, I get that, but ‘believe what?’  If believing is paramount in Jesus answer in John 6, what are we to believe about him must be our starting point.  Are we to believe God heals– I do.  Are we to believe God wants His people to prosper– I’m sure a loving God wants that.  How about believing that our family could heal its broken relationships?  You know He wants that for sure–one of the obvious things God sent Jesus to do was to reconcile.  All those things and many more things are included in what God wants us to know, wants us to believe; they are in His purpose and goals for us.  However, while they’re things prayed for, things hoped for, the operative Faith that will activate those possibilities takes us back to Jesus’ answer: ‘believe in Him whom He has sent.’

Jesus is saying that if we are to see the Hand of God in our lives, if we’re to experience the Life as the Father would have it for us, we’ll have to obviously believe something first!  Here I think he’s implying – ‘look this is going to be a full time, an all encompassing job.  As such, the hardest thing (also the thing that will work the most for you and the thing that will be challenged the most) is to believe, and specifically believe on, whom He has sent!’  Jesus wasn’t suggesting believe things; but believe this One Thing.  This One, He is the Way, the only Way, all things come by Him and through Him.  Prayer contains two elements: First, how to pray and secondly, most importantly I think, Who it is we pray to.  By that I mean what’s the character and nature to Whom we pray.  What picture of God is in our imagination when we pray?  Must He be talked off the sidelines into our lives? Do we need to trade Him something in exchange for Him to respond?   Is He hesitant or eager to do for us?   Much of our stress comes from believing that this entire Hand of God thing depends upon how strong we are, perhaps the volume of Faith we have.   And, if we don’t meet the measure of Faith required, we must work harder on things or have more specific requests in order to activate the Compassion of God.   Maybe memorize more, say more, plead more.  I think realistically, those are not used to test our faith as much as it’s a test of do we believe on His Faith, His Way, His Love, His Compassion, His Interest in our lives.   Is it possible that this Gospel, this New Life, is somehow more about you entering His Life rather than Him entering yours?  Is His abundant Life about getting our life, this earthly one,  like His or is it more about an abundant Life that’s  available and accessible inside this hard world system?

Many times I think we find it easy to know what to pray for but forget how Jesus taught us to pray.  We can list all the things we’re praying for and forget the Who we’re praying to.  Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that without Faith, in every case without knowing Who Christ is, it’s impossible to discover this ‘Hand of God moment’ unless we know ‘that He is and that He’s a rewarder of those that diligently seek him.’  That’s the first step in prayer.

That’s the ground for prayer to grow.  That’s the preparation for Hand of God in our lives to be manifested.  Yes, the things we call miracles are the fingerprints of the Life of God.  Significantly, they’re also part of a much larger ‘New-Life’ mentioned in Romans 6:4.  This new-life was always designed, purposed, to be natural for believers.   I don’t think God creates miracles as a surprise, I think He’s always wanted us to live in such a way that we expect them consistently.   Actually I think many Hand of God things happen all the time.  If anything, we’re just not sensitive to them at the moment they occur.  It’s not supernatural when we see the Hand of God manifested; it’s the most natural, a by-product of His Kingdom come on earth.  We should expect that what we call the unusual to become usual.  For sure they are super but they’re as natural to the God Kind of Life as anything can be.

Let me just mention a couple short examples and these are examples pulled from hundreds/thousands of other things that stand out as Hand of God in our lives.  When we started the ministry of WBVN we didn’t talk our way into it.  We believed our way into it.  We knew the Love of God, trusted our understanding of His Compassion, and assumed that He was with us.   Again, in Jane’s medical crisis 5 years ago, we didn’t become spiritual specialists so we would know how to pray, we didn’t take a quick bible course or memorize scripture, we didn’t try to persuade Father, Son and Spirit to rescue us, we didn’t re-dedicate anything or expand our promises if God would do something.  We trusted and assumed that what we believed about Him, what we knew to be true about Him, was actually true in a very huge way.

Let me leave you with this thought.  Have you ever thought it strange that when they came and announced to Jesus that his dear friend Lazarus was sick, Jesus abided two more days before going to him?  Jesus took his time, ministered along the way and arrived in plenty of time to raise Lazarus from the dead.  No rush, no panic, no hurry, just a confidence that the Father and Spirit would join him in doing the Father’s business.  That’s the faith that we need in every instance, not only that He is able but that He is eager to have us live in such a way that we experience ‘life as the Father would have it for us’ right in the middle of this mess.