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Newsletters

October Newsletter-Bed 2

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Last month I wrote about the un-comfortableness or restlessness described in the Prophet Isaiah’s scripture: Isaiah 28:20. I referenced the linkage between our human soul’s (mind, will and emotions) attempt to dominate our daily lives and contrasted that with what our heart/spirit was purposed to do in our lives. Created by the new revelation of Christ in our heart, I mentioned that there’s not really a war requiring us to have to destroy the soul in order to find success in the spirit. Rather it’s a matter of once alive unto God, our spirit becomes the tool that the Father uses to guide and lead us into more of His Life versus the three amigos of the soul being in our driver’s seat. From birth, the soul, having been in charge most of our lives, wants to continue being the leader in our everyday lives. Our mind, will and emotions want to force the spirit into the back seat, want it to be quiet. Our mind, will and emotions are perfectly content for our hearts to just travel quietly back there from birth until death. I mentioned that the soul is not evil in itself, but is God’s gift to us. Our mind, will and emotions are some of God’s tools designed specifically so that we can experience all that God has provided for His creation. For example, we may write poems in our minds that express hope and beauty. By our will, we can set goals in our lives, hopefully, goals that are remarkable simply by being goals that He’s purposed for us. And, the emotions– those relationships we’ve found in family, friends, the face of a newborn child, marriage, in fact, all our relationships, even the joy in our pets, or baseball(forgive me I digress!). Our worship experiences are gifts for us so that we experience the depth of our worship and the lifting of our soul. Our emotions permit us to touch a bit of His emotions for having, by His Love, chosen to send Christ and the Spirit into believers’ lives and their relationship. By design, they enrich and enhance our journey but they can, if we allow them to, create their own kingdom in our lives. They can also separate us from what God has prepared for us.

Last month’s letter about merismos, the proper dividing of the soul and spirit, is connected to this letter. Both letters combine and clarify what’s going on between our heart and our head. So, this letter is the foundation letter for the last letter. I’m not actually sure why the letters occurred to me in this order, but I’ll just take it at face value that you will permit me to do them backwards. Just keep in the back of your mind that the first will be last, and the last is first.

First, why have we become professional soul creatures rather than moving toward more of the spiritual creatures God intended us to be? Why is it that more and more our culture moves away from the spirit and spends all its efforts and times ginning up our soul (what we think, what we want, what we feel). The correct order of the Gospel is: accept, believe, and change. Dominated by our logical minds we reverse that in our cultures to: change, believe, and accept. Here, seems to me, we major on the minors and minor on the majors. What we’re seeing in America today is a total rebellion to the spirit and a swelling of the soul. The ultimate goal is to get you to think like it thinks, to want what it has and to feel like you’re right and everyone else is wrong. Everything the spirit thinks is somehow sub-human, everything the culture elite thinks is righteous. By the time we’re adults, our mind, will and emotions have countless experiences. In a kind of a self preservation process, those experiences develop patterns and habits in our souls of how we manage our lives. In order to change our fixed mind, will and emotions, the Spirit of God knew we would need something so strong that it wouldn’t simply persuade us for awhile to a new way to live, but something so powerful that it would dynamite our reliance on the three amigos to lead our life responses and place our new alive unto God spirits in the lead. That’s the Gospel. To overwhelm our thinking and emotions we will have to come to believe, without wavering (!), something like- while we were sinners Christ died for us. Or something like-our guilt, shame and alienation have been destroyed by the Cross of Christ. There are hundreds of others. Those are things that sound too good to be true, but those are the things that are to become constant down in our soul. Those kinds of things simply don’t make sense to us if you think about it only with your brain. That’s where the Gospel must overpower our Greek logic, taking foothold in our hearts. The Gospel must be so powerful that it’s only believable because it is so illogical, so outlandish, and doesn’t match the things we’ve experienced in our lives.

Image all the things that can happen to us as we grow into believers. Some of us experience mistreatment, perhaps insufferable infant or childhood environments. Our teen years can be traumatic, as young adults we face so many temptations to pull us away from the Love of God. By the time we’re a legal adult our emotions may be shot. Much of the time, what happened to us on the outside burrows itself in our insides: hurtful words, physical abuse, and abandonment, learning struggles or something similar, all affect our interpretation of the world around us. Many times those environments leave us damaged or at the very least suspicious of everything, everyone around us. I still default to certain emotional responses from my early childhood disappointments and fears. Our emotions become full-time devotees to all kinds of past pressures. We feel and see through the filter of our soul, locking in on only things that have hurt of damaged us, rather than anything beautiful or meaningful in our lives. For most of our early lives, our soul antennas have been constantly stroked and have become the ‘first responder’ in most every situation. We can easily lose sight of the mystery of life, the wonder of each breath, the miracle of birth, and we begin the process of isolating ourselves from people and God, from caring and confidence. We can be alive without living. That causes us to miss part of what God has prepared for us. What changes in us, along with our spiritual change, is we can become convinced we’re people that God can love and partnership with. When that happens, our spirit can begin to lead us away from the simple mind, will and emotions of our earlier experiences. We begin to hear, follow and be led of God.

C. S. Lewis wrote a line in one of his novels that expresses much of our problem- our ‘eyes are wrong’. Sometimes our mind, will and emotions blind us from the workings of God in our lives. Our soul is being changed, either positively or negatively, day by day. It’s just natural that as we begin to see the Glory of God in our daily lives, our spirit stands up and our three amigos sit down. In that process, our shredded lives that were held together by the weak twine of human experience begins to give way to assurance, security and hope. That in turn creates freedom in us, a freedom to care and to be cared for. It gives us the ability to trust and be trusted, even in the midst of the world’s unlovely and unjust system. Knowing the Love of God is the most efficient thing for escaping our past, our heart-ache and our fears: in fact it’s instantaneous.

Our experiences aren’t alone in our struggles to live by the Spirit. There’s a helper that persuades us away from the embrace of God. He’s a whisperer for the most part. Whispering is the only power he possesses, which when fully understood, is truly powerless. He’s reminding us of our failures and fears, playing with our soul (mind, will and emotion) in a playground of his choosing- one between our ears. His game is it to take away our Joy and hide God’s Glory already in our everyday lives. For all the trying to break out, we can remain blinded by the Yo-Yo effect of feeling saved one minute and falling for the suggestions of self-condemnation the next. That problem got addressed in Jesus’ teaching about double-mindedness. First, we must become convinced that we’ve been found by the Love of God, that we’ve been embraced by It, that we’re forgiven, that we are, as David was (with all his faults), the apple of His Eye. All that, not because we deserve it, but because of His choosing! Being single-minded about the Love of God bulldozes the whispers and puts them in our recycle bin. Once we establish those kinds of truths in our heart, not arrogantly but with humility, so that nothing can move us away from them, we’ll begin to persuade our mind, will and emotions to quit murmuring and get in order.

Isaiah 7:14 references and introduces us to Immanuel, literally, ‘with us is God’. Not God was with us or He will be with us later, but God is NOW! He’s our new Helper and His Whispers are more powerful and able to separate the spirit and the soul. Isaiah goes further in Chapter 8 verse 8. ‘And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.’ I looked up the literal translation and it reads: ‘…and He shall pass through Judah (meaning descendents of the original, Jesus is the original and Judah would be his descendents: the Church) and He shall overflow and go over, He shall reach even to the neck (this is where burdens were carried in Isaiah’s culture, and can reference our burdens), and stretching out His wings (He) shall fill the breath of land (our lives)- O’ Immanuel (With us is God!). Knowing He has done that, is doing that, is the first step to saving the soul.

30 Years of Memories-Phillips, Craig & Dean

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30 Years of Memories-Phillips, Craig & Dean

Occasionally I dream. The most recurring ones are about concerts– strange concerts for the most part. Even today, I still remember many of them. One of the early ones was when I couldn’t find the concert stage where I was supposed to meet Geoff Moore and the Distance. It was 7pm concert time and I’m supposed to introduce Geoff, but where? Another was when I couldn’t get a certain group to come on stage and sing; they were just too busy to sing, they were like stray cats, all over the place but not on stage. I remember a Wes King concert in a Shakespearian theatre; a late 1500’s, English Shakespearian theatre. One time had an artist that wouldn’t come to the stage because he was finishing a Lucky Strike. (Not a factual dream but a strange one.) None were based on true experiences. Just crazy, interesting, kind of make you smile dreams. The only thing they had in common was all the concerts started at 7pm, and in each, that was not significant in the artists’ eyes. Those dreams never reflected any real life, just reflected ‘stress creation’ for someone responsible for producing a concert. At least they were always creative and funny the next morning.

The last couple months writing about 30 years of artist memories, I’m amazed that our WBVN concerts have been such powerful events in our community of believers. We’ve done over 210 of them and all have such beautiful moments. In the beginning of the ministry, I never imagined the quality of the performers’ talents and the sincerity of the performers’ hearts. I’ve written about Rich and Mark most recently and now some guys I will never forget. Actually it’s a group that we’ve done many concerts with: Phillips, Craig and Dean. They’ve supplied many memories and their visits have been ‘dream come true’ events for us.

Randy, Dan and Shawn began their music ministry at about the same time we started the radio station. They are three pastors, Randy and Dan from Texas and Shawn from the St. Louis area. Our experience with them began when they released a single called ‘Turn Up The Radio.’ Hearing it, there was something that just told me, ‘this is special, see about booking them for a concert.’ We did that after only hearing one song. We were so excited and they were so new to the ministry that BVN decided to give away the tickets. We didn’t tell them that and they came to do the concert at the Civic Center, and we had 1000 people meet them there on January 8th, 1993, our third broadcast anniversary. I remember they were so excited. Imagine, they thought they had sold out 1000 seats. That’s exciting for a group that had just started out! I remember telling them after the concert that we gave the tickets away and the looks on their faces would make great ‘sad’ photographs. Well that was the start of many special nights with PCD.

During the concert they had a surprise for me. Randy called me up on stage, I assumed to just be nice to the station and compliment us signing them to do the event. Not what happened! They put me in a black trench coat, pulled my prescription glasses off and put sunglasses on me. Put a microphone in front of me (which I couldn’t find without my glasses) and proceeded to do a choreographed song which I have no idea what the song was because I was a bit distracted being unable to see and forced to try and follow their choreography. Not pretty, not safe, but FUNNNNNNY! I’ll never forget that moment; I can’t think about it without smiling even today. The second concert, December 11, 1993 (same year as the first), I had called Randy prior to the event. I had gone over the details of the concert and I asked for one more favor. And just like the good guy that Randy is, he promised me not to ever do the ‘call me up on stage’ thing ever again. Needless to say, (I think I can say this) Randy lied, I guess a pastoral lie, with a small L of course! Well, they are funny guys for sure.

One year they were late for a concert, arriving at 4:30 for a 7 o’clock concert, late because of ice and snow and driving down from St. Louis. They’ve filled the stage with kids a couple of times. All three have brought their wives with them here because of the wonderful times we’ve had together. It’s always been fun and talented evenings with Randy, Dan and Shawn. And they are caring, caring people. I have a special memory to share of that caring.

It was a concert on April 17, 1995, and Carla was there. PCD was Carla’s favorite group and she loved their music. She came with some pretty high expectations for enjoying that special night at the Civic Center. And, it was special for all of us because Carla was, as I’ll call it, long-suffering from a terminal disease. To be there, she had to have special care and equipment. She arrived in a special wheelchair and we brought her in from the alley side of the old Civic Center and put her close to the stage. She was susceptible to more damage and pain by coming but she was determined to hear ‘live/in concert’ Phillips Craig and Dean. They actually came down and met with Carla, sang to her and made a special moment even more special with their caring hearts that night. It was a joy for Carla in an almost joyless time. Carla would pass away just a few days later.

It would be impossible to think back over the 30 years of WBVN memories without thinking about PCD. Special nights, special people. They have brought smiles and tears. Over the years, some artists have told me that when they retire from CCM and traveling around the country doing ministry they for sure want to come one last time and do a WBVN concert. Phillips Craig and Dean have said that to me. I have promised to make it happen if at all possible and that is a promise that I will keep better than Randy’s to not get me back up on stage.

September Newsletter-Bed

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

“For the bed is shorter than a man can stretch himself on it; and the covering narrower than he can wrap himself in it.” Isaiah 28:20

There are a lot of things that go on in our lives, most either make us happy or make us sad. In this letter I’m going to talk about something that makes us uncomfortable. Occasionally, while sleeping I find my feet out from under the covers, or maybe the whole blanket falls off the bed and the chill wakes me up. Isaiah’s scripture identifies old fashioned restlessness: the bed too short, blanket too small for rest. I sometimes wonder why, even when things seem to be going well, I can find little rest. I think the back story is we’re not home; truly we’re never at home this side of Glory. Paul called it being ‘strangers and pilgrims’ on the earth. Much of the restlessness occurs because you and I are ‘spirit critters’; however, we’re spiritual critters tethered to the earth. Ultimately our soul and spirit spend much time tugging against the twine that holds us here. That struggle reminds me of how important it is to think about our tomorrow, rather than spending all our time trying to fix everything about today or being sorry for yesterday. A word you hear all over the internet is ‘woke’. We hear of people, seemingly for the first time, being ‘woke’. Earthly ‘wokeness’, by its very nature is incomplete, it’s a limited new awareness.

Before our spirits were ‘quickened’ we were ‘born of the flesh’. Upon being ‘woke’ of God, we kindled a ‘Life of the Spirit’. To experience Life as the Father prepared for us, we need to be made alive unto God. Otherwise, we can simply live our lives and not experience the Life God purposed for each of us. Miraculously, with woke, our spirits get changed all at once, come alive, but our ‘souls’ drag their feet, get changed gradually. Changing of our soul is the program between the time we spent on earth and our stepping into Heaven. That division, spirit and soul, is what causes much of our uneasiness.

Acts 4:32 confirms that our heart and soul are two separate entities; they’re not the same thing. Recognizing the struggle between each is an early step to understanding our restlessness and finding our cure. We have to identify both as part of our lives but also separate. Jesus taught that we would need to love the Lord (1) with all your heart, with (2) all your soul…. (Matt. 22:37) John’s scriptural wish was, above all, that our lives would be prosperous: be prosperous in health, and that our souls would prosper. (3John1:2) When we became alive to the spirit, each of us became, more than ever before, a house divided. According to Jesus, a house divided cannot stand (establish itself). (Matt. 12:25) We’re purposed, in God’s heart, to be ‘ruled by the Spirit of God’ rather than remain that old ‘born of the flesh’ creature. However, that old creature doesn’t want to give up its position as the ‘ruler’ of our lives. To unbelievers, Jesus said he came to bring peace, not division. To believers Jesus said he came to divide, exposing the conflict between the soul and the spirit. We know what happened with Adam and Eve. They were not deceived by the apple tree but by the war between their spirit and their soul (mind, will and emotions). They were thinking, their soul reasoned, the wrong thing about God. God’s ‘don’t’ became simply a symbol of God holding out on them. The playground of Satan was found in their souls, between their ears, not in the apple. By contrast, we know the ‘last Adam’ (Jesus) was tempted in all things; yet the Spirit ruled in Him. In Jesus, his soul was present, he became flesh, but his soul was submissive to the Spirit.

Adam’s consciousness thinking was dominated by the following order: body, soul, and spirit. That’s the natural, raw, earthly order of fleshly people. In Jesus, the proper order was established: spirit, soul, and body (1Thes. 5:23). “The first Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). Our soul is not to be broken or destroyed; it’s not an evil thing. Our mind, will and emotions are a gift from God, a part of His sophisticated creation. Our minds can create wonderful, beautiful thoughts. Our wills help us set goals as we move in the direction discovering Life as the Father would have it for us. Our emotions make the marriage between love and compassion possible. Only when the soul is separated from the Love of God, does it become putrid with selfishness. Our soul needs to be trained to follow our spirit rather than it being our leader.

Our soul is comprised of our mind (our understanding), will (our determination), and emotion (our five senses). Merismos is a biblical Greek word meaning distinction between the soul and the spirit. It refers to separating and is useful to describe the necessity of dividing, in a good sense, soul and spirit.(Heb. 4:12) Christians are not actually at war with either. However, merismos is necessary to help us define, not two enemies, but two different lifestyles. We don’t have to kill the one (mind, will and emotions) to experience the other (spirit life) but we’ll have to learn separate them and identify which one should dominate in our lives. James 1:21 makes clear Christians need to be aware of the ‘saving of the soul’. It’s the metamorphous (changing) taught in Romans 12:2. It’s about the renewing of our minds.

What we must have is a distinction between our hearts and our heads, a separation between our spirit and our thinking. Paul admits to being the kind of person that did what he did not want to do and also guilty of not doing the things that he wished to do. That’s the tugging that’s still present in us today; that tugging keeps us ‘rest-less’ and uncomfortable. We’re living in a bed that’s too short and under a blanket that’s too narrow. Enlightened by the Spirit of God, we’ve been re-created to be comfortable when our spirit rules and simultaneously uncomfortable when our soul rules over us.

As new creatures in Christ, our choice isn’t between two natures (sin and divine); it’s a choice between two lives, His or ours. How many of our prayers start in our heads instead of our hearts. Most of our conflicts are not caused by Satan, rather most are our flesh ruling and reigning instead of our spirits. The expression ‘666’ in the Revelation of John refers to man doing the very best man can do for man. The best man can perform in all three areas of life: body, soul, and spirit. That’s where the world is going right now. Medicine, technology and false religions all are the best man can do for man. It tries to cover an itch which it can’t relieve. They’re our own creations to try and put us at ease. But the closer we get to the ‘best’ we can create for ourselves the less comfort we find. In our restlessness, our spirits know that that kind of life isn’t the best we can experience.

If you follow the biblical Greek text you’ll find that Jesus referenced laying down his life (the actual Greek word used is psuche). That life laid down wasn’t identifiable to his biological life, although he did do that. It was about his ‘soulish life’. Jesus teaches unless we lay down our (psuche) life, we will not find Life as the Father has prepared it for us (Matt. 16:24, Isa. 53:10). We need to be persuaded that what He has started with our ‘wokeness’, He can likewise perform in us. (Rom. 4-21, Phil. 1-6). ‘Separation for clarification’ is an expression I heard years ago to illustrate the Word’s ability to divide the things of our heart and the things of our mind, will, and emotions. The Word is powerful, sharp and able to divide soul and spirit. (Heb. 4-12) Our feeling that we’re never at home is part of being ‘a new creature’; it’s natural; it’s good for clarification. ‘Restlessness’ is buried deep in our hearts and it’s created and placed in us as a guard for our hearts so that we can evaluate what our ‘treasure’ is. It causes us, by the very nature of restlessness, to never find comfort in the things of this world. That restlessness, once we begin to understand the distinction between our spirit and our soul can be cured. Trusting in Christ is that cure. Resting in Him is our remedy.

Being wanderers causes us to discover the only peace we ‘get to experience’ is His Peace. Trusting that Jesus is who he said he was and did what He said He did. It’s not only a trust for what He will do for us, but a trust that He will finish what He has started in us. I’ve only had the pleasure of sleeping in a king sized bed a couple of times, but it was wonderful compared to what is like to sleep on a couch with a lap afghan. Our lives can find that difference by the spirit that lives in us.