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March Newsletter-Angel Rebellion

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

WBVN has always expressed its ministry as a ministry of encouragement. For us encouragement is a given characteristic of Faith. We can actually be in the middle of trouble, perhaps even discouraging circumstances, but not be moved off of how encouraging the Gospel is in spite of those things. For that reason, I’m writing this letter to mix in peace and encouragement with the world which has little of either one. There’s bad news in it, and good news in it, depends on how you look at it I suppose. To simplify it a bit, I think the bad news reinforces the believed good news we all share. What we are seeing around the world today hints at the truth of prophesy. Jesus Christ is still the answer, the Light of the world, the Good Shepherd, the Bread of Life, the Savior, the Lord, the Messiah Deliverer, and much more in spite of the things we hear and see each day. It’s encouraging to know that. We don’t make Him any of those things; they are given things to us, not ones we create. Apparently, some of the future is going to be ugly- then eventually glorious. While the ugly may get to our brains, we should not let the ugly get to our hearts. No one knows the exact timeline of God’s moves, but this moment seems like a crossroads moment of the Gospel message.

In some sense, I don’t believe you can find peace if you can’t find the cause of all this trouble. I think the Bible foretold of a time like this. Forty years ago I remember a biblical teacher expressing days similar to these in our future. He characterized them as a time of ‘separation for clarification’. We are by all accounts being forced by the cultures we live in to choose sides on so many events. Today, much of what we are confronted with in this world, things seemingly delivered to our doorstep, is simply man establishing his/her own morality and ethic, pushing out the Creator’s morality and ethic. We’re seeing a lot of dividing these days, and division causes two things: it creates havoc and it creates a clear picture on which side of the fence you’re standing. It’s a marker to give us easy choices. It’s going to be our choice one or the other: be in the Light or stay in the darkness. Darkness simply by default is the absence of The Light. That absence is the only thing that gives darkness its power, but darkness is powerful without Jesus.

There’s a little something to remember in order to be encouraged in times like these: God is not mocked, what man sows, he will also reap. (Gal. 6:7) I might add in His timing. not necessarily our timing. In Acts 2, Pentecost was God’s beginning of this warfare into the entire world; reclaiming all the nations, Gentile and Jew. That continues today. I never forget that God is consistent and patient. And, I’m always aware this is a big picture project. God’s purpose for creation was simple, is still simple: relationship with the creature of His creation. First attempt ended with the failure of Adam and Eve. Second attempt Noah and his family. Third attempt Abraham. Next time, the nation of Israel is chosen. All ended in not producing the family response. Finally Jesus, and he acknowledged ‘It is finished”; he did it. By being in Christ we enter into the Father, Son and Spirit’s relationship through Jesus. Now, a new creation is set in place, one that begins with the birth, death and resurrection, this time an attempt to bring in the whole world of people, the Jewish people and the Gentiles. In spite of what it looks like today, Jesus has a kingdom and it’s in place. You’re invited to be a citizen. In Isaiah 61:1-11 we find the purpose and the heart of God for Jew and Gentile. (…preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to the bound; …)

Historically: 1Cor 2:7-8, lets us in on a mystery, something hidden from the foundation of the world. There we learn that, had evil known the whole story, it would not have crucified Jesus. If they had been aware enough to know what was happening, no way would they have killed him. What’s revealed there is that Jesus actually ‘duped’ them into killing him, manipulated them into killing him. When he went to Jerusalem it was his setting the trap, a trap that actually had the spirit of anti-Christ making Salvation possible! That hidden knowledge, a mystery, not even the 12 disciples knew it. Peter put on a pretty good show of how the disciples felt. He raised Cain when confronted with Jesus’ announcement that he was going to die. The disciples had planned on an earthly rule. They were part of an Old Testament vision of Messiah. An idea that Messiah would throw out the Romans and abolish the religious corruption. The New Testament vision in the heart of God and Jesus was quite different. The OT people understood Messiah, descendent of King David; they had no idea of Messiah, Savior of the world. They opposed Jesus dying, that was not in their plans for the future king of Israel. However, in God’s plan the spirit of anti-Christ would kill Jesus and, in effect, they would create the future kingdom of God for all mankind, all nations. The spirit of anti-Christ is in the middle of creating Jesus’ return, they do not see that but it’s true; it’s going to usher in a second coming.

Today we are left scratching our heads about how so much spirit of anti-Christ can be seemingly everywhere and in everything. How can there be so much unity against Life as the Father would have it for us? It seems that every day a new and more anti-Christ world emerges. The simple answer is that as the spirit of anti-Christ becomes more bold, more aggressive, its purpose is revealed proportionally as well. Its resistance to that Life as the Father would have it for you swells bigger and bigger. That’s the head scratching part, it’s so huge and seemingly organized we can’t explain with logic or obvious cause where it comes from except in terms of an all-out rebellion of man with the influence of the spirit of anti-Christ. Paul reminded us that resistance of that type can’t be defeated with only our power alone. The anti-Christ spirit wants us fighting in our flesh not the spiritual, whereas God instructs us to fight on our knees and by listening, following and expressing Him. Paul reminds us we’re not required to confront principalities and powers directly; our war must contain the spiritual, not just the physical battle. (Eph 6:12) (I have a pastor friend that says ‘don’t hear what I’m not saying.’) That doesn’t mean we don’t do everything we can to share this Gospel or to oppose the destruction of the Gospel message and the culture. We should certainly be active in doing so. (We’ve spent 33 years doing just that through our private home life and the public ministry life at the station. So you know I believe in effort and hard work to hold on to the treasure of this Gospel in a very practical way. I’ve had a couple friends just recently tell me they think the station ministry is more important to be shared today than any time in those 33 years.)

Personally, I expect a repeat performance similar to what they did to Jesus’ physical life in his first coming. This time, the end will be played out to His spiritual life right in front of our eyes. Today, and I think especially today, much of the world is yelling ‘crucify him’ again. More than any time in my lifetime it appears more people and cultures than ever are opposed to God’s will on earth and His will for man. Today is similar to the days of Calvary. I’m just super aware that He personally will win this battle when it is won. Just as Israel will know in the end (Armageddon) what preserves them in the final battle, I think Christians will recognize the same hand of God exposed at the end of this age.

I consider this a biblical truth: God created angels but He did not create angels to be evil. Jesus, Peter and Paul took that very seriously. We are expected to do the same. In Scripture we can see that some angels rebelled. I don’t think they were predestined to do so but they did. Angels, and we, have God-given free will. It’s possible for God to know something will happen without causing it to happen. (Isa. 14, 2Peter 2:4-6, Rev. 12: 7-12) In some ways, that knowledge of an angelic anti-Christ spirit overlays our interpretation of our daily life. I remember years ago realizing that we are the invading army here. Fallen angels had been dumped here and the original earth became void (Gen. 1:2), then God created man and gave him dominion of Eden, that resulted in the current conflict and struggle we are experiencing today.

As part of that rebellion, part of the spirit of anti-Christ stopping Life as the Father would have it for us, Jesus was offered all the worldly kingdoms (Math 4:8), everything as far as the eye could see. That sounds like today’s siren call to mankind. ‘Just do this, get rid of that God guy and trust in our thing and you can have it all. You will be moral when you accept our morality and reject that God stuff.’ Jesus had a secret, a mystery, a hidden plan. Back then, and now, what God wanted was not anything more than family, a relationship with His creation. Remember again all those attempts to do so in the Old Testament. Look at the descriptions used so frequently in Paul’s writing about God’s purpose, words: sons, children, bride, bridegroom, heirs, and adopted, i.e. family. Revelation 21:4 is where we are headed, what Jesus has prepared for us.
I’m writing this to encourage us not to get discouraged or overwhelmed with what we see and hear each day. It didn’t look good at Calvary and it doesn’t look good now. But that’s not the measure of what is going on or what the results will be. The Bible expresses the true results. We can get on board with that or cave to the stress and pressure not to believe. This thing we are seeing played out in front of us is bigger than economics or politics. We are observing spiritual warfare. Who wins? The same One that won on a dark, discouraging, bloody day at Calvary. They thought they had Him, and that anti-Christ spirit thinks it has Him now!

February newsletter-Big Picture

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

*“For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse.” Rom 1:20

This is a ‘Big Picture/little picture’ letter. What I mean is it’s about the Big Picture of God and His purpose and how He illustrated that in little pictures of our lives. Throughout the Bible are illustrations called ‘types’ that are parables, stories or symbols that are used to express another truth in the Gospel. God’s desire, from before the foundation of the world, was/is to share. Many little daily things we experience give us clues to help see the Big Picture. God’s so eager to express Who He is that, through Christ, He stepped right into the middle of our fallen world. Jesus came to explain and reveal God to us, came to give sight to a blind world.

I like to think that God’s made it easy to believe by placing ‘types’ in our lives to suggest His bigger purpose. His Creation alone shouts His existence. (Romans 1:20: For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity…) Creation is evidence enough that there’s no excuse for not believing. Man in his attempt to be independent of God creates his own story of creation, pushing God aside, and laughing at the thought of a Creator. They sell their story declaring Life began by chance. They imply that man’s great logic and wisdom is moving us to an ever improving world. (However, just read the headlines. It’s sad, even somewhat laughable, to think that we’re on a glide course to a manmade Utopia) Today science is used in an attempt to kill God. In reality, science declares order, providing amazingly ‘breath taking’ evidence of God. How many heart beats will you experience in your lifetime? How many of those do you think about to get them to happen? Amazingly, your eye structurally envisions everything upside down and the brain converts it to right side up. What does your DNA say about the possibility of life being created by chance? How many unique fingerprints are there? Even bumble bees can fly. God made it easy, in our rebellion, we make it hard.

I’ll illustrate Big Picture/little picture by visiting some of the daily expressions and experiences we have in our lives and comparing those with His Big Picture. I’ll start with this: God created Life, birthed humans, birthed the whole world. Genesis, and Colossians (the New Testament’s book of Genesis), confirm that. In Creation, God’s establishment of family relationships is a small picture of our lives mimicking His Life. God created male and female with the ability to experience the same kind of joy He had in creating life; gave us an ability to create life as well. Having children, parents get a hint of the blessing of creating life and natural love that’s the result of childbirth. Jane and I experienced that three times with the birth of three daughters. We never had to muster up love, never had to work on it; the simple act of giving life created love for them as a ‘given’ experience.

God also created humans with both the need and the capacity to choose Him and experience a personal, intimate relationship. Some do acknowledge Him as Father, some do not. Some simply say ‘no’ to a relationship with Him. Recently, (actually at the same time I was writing this letter), I received a phone call. It was a mother who was struggling with the fact that her children seemed to be rejecting her love for them, turning away from it. I expressed how similar that experience was to our Father’s experience. Similarly, the lives that He, and we, give birth to, can respond with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to parents’ love, that love can be unperceived love. That experience creates an environment for us much like the one God experiences from life He has given. Loving so much but that love not recognized is a big/little picture of God’s world. It’s His desire that all people would recognize God’s Love for them; choose to have a relationship with Him. I think our ability to Hope is given to us so we might discover the kind of Hope God has about us. It’s His Hope that all will be saved, say ‘yes’. Children of God have to make a kind of choice relationship about Him. This lady seemed like a very thoughtful and nice lady, a Christian lady for sure, but misunderstood by her children. That sounds a lot like God’s experience with mankind. I mentioned to her, God the Father fully knows how that feels Himself and how it feels to us. He’s experienced that for thousands of years.

Marriage, established by God, teaches us as well. God described it as a partnership where two become one. That’s God’s little touch of us understanding how The Father, Son and Spirit can be One. Each party, in both God and marriage, retains their uniqueness, not absorbing one another, but also blending into one, even though unique. I used to express to friends that Father, Son and Spirit’s unique, individual characteristics can be illustrated by thinking about a musical chord. A chord is made up of three notes, it does not exist without all three, each note is unique, they functions differently in their expression, but blended together: one purpose. Father, Son and Spirit have unique characteristics but all are purposed to share one thing-the Gospel.

Praise/Worship. The angels praise and worship, a focused picture of that’s described in the Book of Revelation. We’re taught in 1Corinthians 13 that God doesn’t seek His own. I don’t think the angels are praising God for God’s own self-satisfaction; they can’t help but praise Him and they greatly benefit from doing so. Not only worshiping Him but also in worship they experience Him. I like to think worship is a gift to us.

Faith is another attempt by God to share something of Himself; permitting us to feel the same kind of Trust Jesus must have had while hanging on the Cross; trusting that the arms of the Father were waiting for Him. It’s a clue into how powerful and glorious the Spirit’s ability to be evident in our lives. Anointing is an expression of how the Spirit works.

Another little picture of the Big Picture of God is found in my garden. That little thing I put in the ground doesn’t look very promising. Looks dead, dry, wrinkly, a hard shell but put it in the right environment: boom! Fruit! Just a little water seems to trigger the whole thing. Living water does the same for us, bring dead things to life. I remember the day that kind of experience hit my life on April 16th some years ago. The miracle of childbirth is a seed and garden picture; it’s a profound image of the birth of Creation itself, a miracle in science and in our hearts. Giving life to our children bears a Fruit we call Love. In Luke Chapter 8, Christ is described as a seed sower, some on good ground and some on bad. True, some of that seed never sprouts. That seed story is a picture of sharing the Gospel still today. We have seasons, 4 of them for most of us, that can be seen as a little picture of God saying “I got this.” Be calm, be at peace, rest, even winter has the promise of spring in it.

The sun and the moon are a whisper from God of Bigger Things of God. The sun is the source of Light/Life, and the moon a reflection of that Life. In creation, the moon shines into the darkness of night and reflects the sun’s radiant light. Jesus provides the light to be reflected into the dark night. Jesus is the Light. We can reflect Him into our present darkness as Christians. Again, so many little pictures can help us understand and see the Big Picture. In essence making believing easier.

Today, with what’s happening and seemingly what’s about to come, we simply won’t be able to fake Faith. We might be able to imitate it; we can flesh it out physically, but we can’t fake believing in our hearts. Another way Jane expresses it, ‘When your cup gets bumped what’s on the inside will spill and be exposed.’ That’s what today’s world is doing, bumping our cup. What’s going to be exposed about your Faith?

We all have single scriptures that are favorites. I have a whole New Testament chapter (John 17) that I consider my favorite, the most optimistic. It’s Hope expressed by Jesus. In those scriptures, we hear the heart of the Trinity of God before the creation of His world. It’s a prayer and in it I think Jesus stated the exact purpose of Christ and the heart of the Trinity for coming to us (read each sentence very slowly, letting the Spirit reveal what’s expressed): “…then the world might believe that You, in fact, sent me. The same Glory You gave me, I gave to them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are. I in them and You in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that You’ve sent me and loved them in the same way You have loved me. Father, I want those you gave me to be with me, right here, where I am, so they can see my glory, and the splendor You gave me, having loved me long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never known You, but I have known You and these disciples know that You sent me on this mission. I have made Your very being known to them, Who You are and What You do and continue to make it known, so that Your Love for me might be in them, exactly as I am in them.” (John 17:20-26, The Message Bible) I heard someone once define religion as what we do when we don’t know that Christ is in us. Religion will not hold us up. Knowing that He is in us and we’re in Him will. He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the knowledge of the Father except by Christ.

That’s the Big Picture, the picture we’re to see and it’s experienced in little things we discover in our daily lives. The sacrifice, the blood, the resurrection was God drawing us a picture of how serious God is to share His Love with us…that we might easy see! And we might easy believe!

January Newsletter-Worship

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

‘…the time is coming, and now is, when true worshipers shall worship the Father in the Spirit and in Truth…God is Spirit and those that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and Truth.’ (John 4:23-24) Worship definition: (in the biblical sense) to bow down with reverence to the One who is present.

Worship is connected to WBVN music and events. We grasp the words of Jesus in the above scripture eagerly. Having done over 220 events, I like the idea of ‘One who is present’ in each of our music concerts. There are two ways of experiencing that kind of moment: 1-we watch the artists do something that encourages us to go out into the world and do something, 2-we enter into the gift of participating in a moment where, with the Spirit of Christ living in our hearts, we are communicating with God, and we step into that expression with Joy and Love. Both descriptions are appropriate. Christ is the one and only High Priest; through Him we draw near to the Father. In the first definition, we can have that kind of response in our own and varied ways, sometimes expressed differently from denomination to denomination. The second kind, Spirit of Christ led worship, brings any divisions present in those different denominations into union. That’s often been our experience over the hundreds of concerts we’ve done for 33 years. Christ centered worship brings us together in moments of looking up, not looking side to side. In Hebrews 8:2 ‘We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.’ The Greek word translated minister in that scripture defines and describes The Lord as ‘the leader of our worship.’ When Jane was paralyzed in the hospital in 2012, one of her expressions was that the worship she experienced always came from her right side. In her vision of the throne of God, that was the side Jesus occupies. In her expression, prayer and praise came from the right side of God and from no other source.

The motivation for why we did the first BVN concert, and have done 222 since, is the belief that worship of the second kind mentioned above, is possible. Worship is not just something believers do to please God, but worship can be The Spirit of Christ participating with us at that moment, leading us in celebrating the Love of the Father.

Today, we seem to be prioritizing on how to fix rather than the Who can fix many of the worldwide problems. Simply put, we’re struggling with how do we solve so many problems politically and economically without really considering Who can solve those problems. Stop and think about how the world would be characterized in Christ each and every day, in each and every situation. For sure, it would be a very different world than we’re experiencing. Instead, today we choose to worship the creation rather than the Creator. Fixing every physical or economic problem will not fix the problems the world faces. I remember Rich Mullins talking about what would happen if we got everything we want. How it seems each time we get what we need to be happy, the human mind simply comes up with one more thing that it needs. Happy is always ‘over there.’ The world needs more than that kind of ‘happy’ fix.

Worship has a connection, a role to play, in being satisfied in this life. Worship is bigger than just bowing down and identifying that kind of physical expression as true worship. Worshiping in Truth flows from the respect of Who God is and what He’s done: ‘I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…I have loved you and redeemed you…I will be your God and you will be my people. Therefore, this is how you will worship me.’ Jesus came to not only redeem us but to establish Spiritual adoption, a New Life experience never experienced before by His creation, our adoption as children of God. Jesus emphasized that using Abba/Father, a Greek term never used of God anywhere other than by Jesus. Calling on us to pray with the simple ‘our Father’, terrified those present at that teaching. Addressing God as a Father, a God that Jewish tradition required not even saying His name, Jesus was suggesting a personal, intimate relationship with God? Christ baptizes us into being able to share with Him and communion with the Father.

Today, Christians are being challenged by the world to just be quiet. That’s a challenge to all of what might be called the worship community or Church. It’s an attempt to muzzle our opportunity to enter into a place we find the presence the Spirit of God and ‘bow down’ in celebration of His works. I re-read a quote the other day that I found stuffed in a book that I hadn’t picked up for awhile. It emphasized that today, just as thousands of years ago, man had a vision of creating his own empire; a man-kingdom in which he imposes his own will and his own inventions upon the earth. It’s similar to Nebuchadnezzar’s image described in the Old Testament and it’s being imposed on us today. Even thinking about that idea increasing every day, I’m not discouraged about the Gospel; it will be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The Gospel does not fail. Jesus is not going away. Sometimes I am saddened experiencing what the world brings. I think we should be disappointed that the world displays more and more of the anti-Christ, human made positions to promote and live by. As I mentioned in a recent letter, almost anything that Jesus said is now fair game to be laughed at and abused. The new world order is if Jesus said it I’m against it.

Result? It’s pretty graphically stated in Romans 1:18-32, God gave them over to themselves; worshipping the creature rather than the Creator. Eugene Peterson put it like this in his The Message Bible “What happened was this: people knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat Him like God, refusing to worship Him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know all but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in His hands, for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand. So God said in effect, ‘If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.’…They traded the true God for a fake god, and worshipped the god they made instead of the God who made them…Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either, women didn’t know how to be women and men didn’t know how to be men…confused, they abused and defiled one another…all lust no love…God quit bothering them and let them loose. And then all hell broke loose.” It goes on but I’ll stop there. Peterson wrote that translation of the Bible in 2002, over twenty years ago and it’s even more symbolic of today. Paul wrote the Book of Romans while in Corinth 2000 years ago. He prophetically nailed the headlines of today, amazingly, significantly pinpointing the psychology and moralities of man in 2022. Isn’t it surprising that the world has walked right into those characteristics some 2000 years later just as Paul predicted?

Today, similarly as in the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s image of a great empire, we will need to depend and trust in a Stone not cut by human hands, but one that will, by the Spirit, smite man’s human empire and break it to pieces. Our confidence for today and tomorrow comes from knowing Him, trusting Him with our future. All you have to do is look around and see that our political, cultural, and economic systems suffer for not worshiping Him. The Gospel message is that we will succeed by knowing Him and succeed by no other way. (And pray His Kingdom comes.)

We will worship something, either the known God expressed by Jesus’ teachings or the unknown gods expressed by Apostle Paul. Worship is given to us as part of the creation, worship will happen, we just have to choose whom to worship. Worship was once (in O.T.) a physical, outward display. Worship (in the New Testament) became an expression of Spirit and Truth. Have you ever watched a musician use a tuning fork to find the frequency of a particular note? In a believer’s heart, we have a tuning fork. When the Spirit hits the frequency, when God speaks, our heart recognizes it and responds because our hearts are tuned to God’s frequency. And, even if it doesn’t always feel like it, or doesn’t seem to be in your plans, when that tuning fork goes off it’s a safe place for sure.

It’s so easy to hear a song that kind of vibrates our hearts in that same manner. God messaging us in music is not unusual – just ask Moses or David or Mary. I’ve heard my daughter mention how much Rhett Walker’s song “Goodness of God” means to her right now. I’m not surprised. That’s her tuning fork going off on God’s frequency. One of the early Old Testament exchanges that I’ve always thought was pretty precious is recorded in Exodus 33:18. Moses asks, “Show me your glory,” and God replies, “I will make my goodness pass before you..I will be gracious…I will show Mercy.” At that moment God was revealing Himself to Moses, His ways, His character, His heart. That’s the God we can easily worship. He is Spirit, His message to us is the Truth.