FCC Public File - contact: Ken Anderson 618.997.1500
    Listen to WBVN online!
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • .


May Newsletter: Resist

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

(This is not a catch-all formula for all events that believers may experience.  It’s just a conversation, a refreshing generated from some things Jane and I have had to face over the years, especially with spiritual pressure on our family or pressure on this WBVN ministry.  It’s simply an expression of what I try to do many times in these letters: just a different way of looking at moments when our Faith is being challenged.  It obviously is not the only way and I don’t presume to cover all bases.  It’s just a conversation about what Jane and I have come to trust about God that changed our lives for the good.  Years ago, J.B. Phillips wrote a book entitled Your God Is Too Small, and over the years Jane and I have learned that many times we were guilty of that in our lives.  Here, we’re attempting to enlarge our thinking about what Christ accomplished on the cross and with His resurrection.  We’ve learned you can never overestimate or exaggerate the greatness of God.)

Recently, in a conversation with friends, we were discussing some characteristics about having Faith in God.  In that conversation, a scripture came flying across my mind, almost like I could see it instead of thinking it.  It was unrelated to the discussion we were having.  ‘Resist the Devil and he will flee’ comes from James 4:7.  But, in this conversation, the central theme had been about God’s Rest.  When that happened, it was like where did that come from?  Rest in God and resist the devil both in the context of that moment!  It was an interesting contrast to me.  At first that appears to be two contradictory concepts.   Rest in our minds generally means do nothing.  Resist generally means give it all you got.  It occurred to me that those responses are not necessarily opposites at all.   From Jane’s and my experiences, Rest has become a powerful tool of Resistance.

As usual after such meetings, I picked up E.W. Bullinger’s New Testament Lexicon and revisited some of my thoughts during those conversations.  Apart from the Bible itself, that book has been one of the most important books that I’ve ever purchased.  As with all Greek Lexicons, Bullinger gives you a detailed breakdown of the original language of the New Testament.  In my opinion, it’s impossible to study the Bible without some look at the uniquely specific, accurate, definitely more complex, Greek word definitions.  For example, in 2Cor. 11:2, Paul writes of a jealousy for us.  The Greek word qualifies that with a kind of Godly jealousy.  Because of our human experience, we sometimes read Scripture and our minds default to thinking about our human jealousy that’s interpreted as an angry jealousy.  We can easily think God is jealous because of some slighting of our faithfulness or devotion.  But, looking closer, we learn from Bullinger that Paul’s jealousy is more correctly associated to God’s ‘eager vehement passion’.  That’s a bit different than our first response hearing about God being jealous. Actually, using the Greek definition, that’s the kind of God we want on our side.  It’s good news that our Father is aggressively passionate about us.  Profoundly, He’s so passionate that He sent His Son to be abused by His creation and topped that with the entrance and continuous presence of His Spirit into our darkness; a Holy companion to comfort and guide us in the middle of all this mess.  That’s by definition a vehemently passionate God for His people.

Smith Wigglesworth was an English plumber.  Because of the great witness of God in his life, Wigglesworth was forced to give up his plumbing business to do God’s business.  A healing evangelist who sometimes was controversial, he’s well known for his book called Smith Wigglesworth on the Holy Spirit.  There’s a story attributed to him that goes something like this.  Awakened out of a deep sleep, Wigglesworth sat up in bed and, according to the story, is to have seen the very presence of evil standing at the foot of his bed.  Wigglesworth is said to have simply addressed the image with these words,’ Oh, it’s only you’; and laid down and went back to sleep.  I know there’re many ways to approach trouble in our lives.  I know there are numerous suggestions on how we should act and do when we face crisis and grief.  But for this conversation, I’m going to think a little differently about resisting the devil.  Simply said, we don’t need to enforce the Gospel, we need to believe the Gospel.  For the most part believing it enforces it.  Believing, according to Jesus teaching, is the very work we’re to do.  We’re to labor to believe in Him and in His Victory.   Believe He has already won the necessary Victory. (John 6: 28-29)  Believing that, we find that Christ, not us, is The Enabler of the Gospel.

Could Rest be evidence of a steadfast Faith?  Instead of yelling, instead of raising our fist and mustering up all the energy we can, what if we remained in our chairs and simply told the darkness, ‘take that up with my brother, Jesus Christ.  He’s the sheriff here, He’s laid down the law here and He’s here to enforce your great defeat in my life’.  What if we acted like that?  I have to be a little careful here because to resist with calm is not about looking to physically show some imaginary confidence, but a real expression of having grown in confidence so much that we actually believe He’s The Enabler.    Being physically demonstrative isn’t necessarily the same as being convinced.   I’m not saying there aren’t times of joy and praise when we just can’t contain ourselves.  That’s very appropriate.  I am saying that there are times when just standing with a quiet affirmation, knowing God, is simple enough and is strong enough that just standing with assurance is to be appropriate.  A calm assurance can be a heavier weight, a more sufficient weight, to crush the kind of evil that visits most of us, most of the time.

Resisting doesn’t mean that we overcome evil with our ability but we simply have a confidence that he has already been overcome by Jesus Christ.  I’ve heard it said that we must win the victory, when in some sense, that Victory has already been enforced and established in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  Ours is to believe that what Jesus teaches about that Victory is true.  That it’s true even when it might not look like it in our life at that moment. Sometimes, our physical warring is characteristic of trying with our ability to re-take or defend His Victory as though that Victory was ever at risk.  Rather the faithful, confident knowing that that Anti-Christ dude is a toothless lion is the simple place where we’re to dwell.  We’re not in the middle of a war between two gods that tear at each other’s kingdoms as much as we’re a people that have been given a Kingdom and we learn to live inside that Kingdom while at the very same time hear the roar of that lion.  No weapon formed against that Kingdom will prosper.  According to what Jesus believed, that devil has no stuff anymore, he’s been made powerless.   That resistance doesn’t require us to puff up or muster up a response.  We simply know that it’s Oh, it’s only him and roll over and go back to Rest.

Look at how Jesus responded in those kinds of situations.  He calmly quoted scripture.  He prays with a knowing Peace.  He does not raise his voice in the street or proclaims anything other than he knows exactly Who his Father is and He trusts Him for every minute.  Was that confidence established in knowing something about evil?  Did it come by establishing or leading a physical rebellion?  In his responses was Jesus teaching us how to resist or just simply being passive?  Was he at Rest because he was just that kind of person he was or did he really know deep in his heart that his foe was a defeated foe?

Again, let me assure you I didn’t write the letter to suggest that there’s only one way to think about Resisting and it just happens to be my way.  My intent is only to try and help believers relax and give them a new way to express their ‘believe’ in tough times.  There’s a Rest that should be common to people having come into Faith in Christ.  The serpent has no ‘voice’ in us, we have nothing to fear.   However, we can be confused and persuaded away from our confidence in Christ.  There’s a ‘calm down’ in knowing and believing in Christ’s Victory.  And, just as with Jesus in that boat, knowing that allows us to roll over and calmly snore away in the storm.  This is not a letter about ‘doing nothing’.  It’s an active, aggressive knowing when Jesus commanded the storm to be Peace.  That Peace is based on knowing something about Whose hands we are in, Whose passion for us is without a shadow or turning.  Possibly, Faith can be measured as much in that confidence as our effort at strength.  I think this is my shortened version:  ‘I agree with what Jesus said about you, your history in my life, you’re over in my life’.  Knowing that, believing that, stating that truth is resisting the devil.  In Ephesians 4:27, Paul taught us not to give place to the devil, encouraging us not to give him a place to dwell in our lives; darkness has no claim or any authority in our lives, not because we’re super Faith people, but because we are His people.  All authority has been given by the Father to the Son.  That’s a transformation of our minds required to begin thinking like Jesus thinks.

April Newsletter: Living From Our Hearts

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Living from our hearts:

Someone recently asked me my thoughts on the difference in a believer’s expression of ‘living out of our heart’ and contrast that with the more secular expression of ‘following our heart’.  That, folks, cuts to the chase.  That might just be, after coming to the knowledge of Christ, the most important question we’ll ever have to answer.  Everything hangs on the presupposition of ‘living out of our hearts’.  That’s the center of our relationship with Christ.  Our praying, our choice of careers, parenting, health, relationships with people, and a whole lot more, depend on our sensitivity to our hearts.

If I had to use a couple of sentences to express the difference, I’d say it like this:  Living out of your heart is hearing the whisper of God from inside us where the Spirit of God is.  That indwelling was His promise to us and we shouldn’t feel ‘weird’ about believing that.  The more secular expression, following your heart, is more akin to being led by our brain or thinking machine.  As a believer, the word ‘heart’ refers to what’s attributable to what we call the Breath of Life.  It’s what God breathed into Adam that uniquely made Adam, well, Adam.  Our heart is God’s fingerprint on us.  It’s one person’s, and only that person’s, life track, their gift from God.  I think we each have that personal Breath from God.  Finding it in the post-Adam world is the key to experiencing the most of our Christian Life.  Absent that, it’s like a man that walks in darkness.   He stumbles.  He falls.  He struggles through life.  Living out of our hearts is discovering and walking by that eternal part of us, not walking after the momentary whims from our brains.  That stabilizes us.  From a secular point of view, following our heart (our feelings, will, and emotions) bewilders us much of the time.  I might add that what we think isn’t necessarily from our heart.  If living the Christian life was simply a thinking thing The Bible would have been enough for us to follow, no need for the Spirit to come.  We could digest the book, memorize it and boom, we’re done. However, the Christian life’s bigger than that.  We need to add to The Book relationship and trust His Spirit.  Our Christian heart is not simply made up of how we feel, what we think, or our opinions.  Everyone can easily follow those.  Rather, ‘living out of where the Spirit of Christ is present’ is unique to each believer.  In that heart, the Spirit of God’s there to guide, whisper, hold and light our way.  One comes from Christ inside, the other is generally created by the environment we find around us. Actually, the Christian Life may be more of learning that our feelings are not to be trusted, but that He is.

That’s tricky.  The secular can mimic the Spiritual rather easily.  I think everything spiritual has a counterfeit that keeps us from finding the real.  We need a witness, a knowing, that blends with what we are experiencing, seeing, feeling, etc.  What we’re experiencing and what we’re witnessing in our brain, must marry into one unction.  Unction is something that we can’t shake.   Sometimes, people get an idea, even a good idea, and ‘think’ that idea comes from God.  I used to explain to people years ago that WBVN was not a good idea I had.  Actually, the idea was more scary than comforting.  It wasn’t something that I hoped for or something just to go try.  WBVN happened to us out of a strong desire to share a message, an unction to share a message: ‘Dad ain’t mad’.   WBVN came from behind me instead of out in front of me.  It came running up my back; that’s different than having a good idea.  With a good idea you’re looking down the road with expectation, unction rides your heart so much that you just look for relief.  With unction there’s a calm ‘beside the still waters’ place even when in the middle of something uncomfortable.  Jane and I simply stepped into His invitation to follow; I let Him be our Light into our ‘not knowing where that might lead’ place. God doesn’t necessarily tell us the specifics as He embraces us and holds our hand as we move forward.

For the most part, the whole pre-Heaven Gospel’s about following Christ.  It’s not necessarily the result we get that defines obedience; it’s the motion of following Him that defines it.  Perhaps the question for believers is not what do I need to do to be perfect, but rather, how do I get to know Christ?  In some sense, Jane and I risked everything for the simple Joy of following His whisper.  In a way, we’ve all been wired to follow Him, perhaps more that than to celebrate our arrival at any destination.  Abraham was simply told to go!  Like Abraham, we might not know the destination, but following with our hearts no matter where it leads is part of why He sent His Spirit.  God’s job description on our journey can be described as ‘a heart looker on-er’.  I think God has His most pleased smile when we’re on the road between two places, following Him along our way, rather than at the end of our journey.  It’s not about having a map that shows us all the detail as much as having a hint of the direction to go and trust with simply a pillar of smoke by day and a fire by night.  What if the Will of God is about relationship rather than location? What if it’s about the journey, His embrace to trust, rather than a certain end?

God has a pleased nature about Him because of what Christ has done.  Living out of your heart is about God leading us to greener pastures, places of rest and places that will bring our life into His Life.  It’s about places that, to us, might look bleak and barren but that God sees as gardens full of potential to bring Life.  God’s whole purpose of Christ in us is that we might prosper in the Life He, His Son and Spirit have made for us.

Secondarily, in our walk, why is greater than how.  Simplified, heart attitude trumps knowledge.  Why we do something is on God’s radar as much as did we do it perfectly.   If we act on whatever understanding we do have about the Gospel, God seems to see the intentions of our heart as good.  In God’s Gospel economy, it’s not so much what we know, it’s Who we know.   Even when other people don’t perceive our purpose, God knows the why all along.  God knowing our hearts can be a scary thought, but that’s the safe place in all this living from the heart.  Did we abide with Him, did we live in the shadow of the Most High, and did we permit the embrace of His invitation to let Him be our God?  Or, did we shake off that invitation and simply say, ‘I got this’?  Religion is ‘I got this’.  Sometimes we’re better at knowing the Law rather than knowing the Lawgiver.

The first step in living out of your heart is to agree with Jesus.  There really is a place in you that His Spirit occupies.  Because of all of the clutter in our lives, that place may not be obvious.  But because He said it, it’s there in you just the same.  That special place is to be discovered through prayer and relationship.  It’s there and we’re designed to learn to recognize and trust It.  Ours is a God that wants to be called Father.  It’s about a Dad that loves anyway; a God that picks us up rather than knocks us down.

In so many words this Gospel’s about Him rather than us.   Living out of your heart is about trusting more than prophesying.  If we’re following Him we have no need to be fearful.  Even with a wrong turn, we’ll find Him standing at the next crossroad with an open hand.

There’s a very slight separation between our hearts and our thinking.  It’s a choice between what our brains make easy for us to do or what our Spirit filled hearts know will actually bring His Life to our life.  There were two trees in Eden:  one tree of good and evil and the other the Tree of Life.  Our ancestors chose the first tree; they started thinking God was holding out on them, wasn’t interested in their best interest.  That kind of thinking started the problem.  How many of us, if we’re not careful, still get to believing that today?

Secularly, following our hearts can come from that first tree either for good or bad reasons.  Jesus’ purpose for coming into this broken world, suffer its punishment, was to re-establish and  to restore  the Tree removed Eden, the Tree of Life.  He set the Tree of Life back into our gardens (lives) with His death, burial and resurrection.  Our current life is about accessing that second tree.  That Tree is Christ, He is Life.  The ability to access that Life lives inside us.  The Spirit of the Living God has made a home in you.  For Christians, living out of our hearts has an assumption in it.  Our heart is where He is present, not just a place where we’re alone.  I believe there’s only one door into our Christ-filled heart: knowing Him.  Our concept of Who He is can bias our ability to access His Life.  Are we still thinking He’s holding out on us?  The essence of God’s great question to Adam, Abraham and Moses was summed up in His question to Peter: ‘Who do you say I am?’  The answer to that question is the key to hearing what He might have to say inside you.

March Newsletter-Easter

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Easter April 1, 2018: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’  John 3:16

We need to slow that down a bit.  It’s an amazing statement that I think we can so easily rush through because of its familiarity.  Image the character and heart of God revealed in that statement.  Sometimes I’m not sure that we hear the depth of its implications.  If we’re not careful, we sometimes let our unbridled subconscious talk to us, letting human logic define what happened in the Garden of Eden.  We can come up with the idea that God’s response to Adam and Eve was an angry response rather than the actual response mentioned in that scripture. We can turn that into thinking that God needed to fulfill a heated temperament toward His Creation in order to get even for that little apple dessert those two had enjoyed.  God’s motivation is bigger and better than anger and restitution.  Rather, His fingerprint as a Giver is all over how He responded to that tragic moment.  It helps to remember that Jesus was coming long before Adam; Jesus was not plan B.  Jesus was coming in the heart of God from the very foundation of the world.  (Eph. 1: 4-5)

It’s Easter.  Roughly 2020 years ago a child was born who, while a surprise to Joseph and Mary, had been prophesied to bless the whole world, at least those that would choose to have it so.  Easter focuses us on the Cross of Jesus of Nazareth just as the Christmas story focuses us on His birth.  For sure the Cross is an appropriate place for Christians to annually pause and think about why and even how this Story came about.   It’s a place for us to wonder about, evaluate, and discover what really happened on that Cross which some 2000 years later still repels some and attracts the human heart of others.  No one has all the fullness of that story to tell, and certainly, my letter is only a part of a bigger picture of God’s Creation and the fix required to ‘fine tune’ it.  But, since we’re playing a lot of resurrection music and most of us will be celebrating that Cross this month, let me just pour out a bit of my thinking about this celebration we call Easter.

First of all, why was this Cross necessary?  Why was this Jesus buried and raised from death?  Big questions and probably too big for this letter.  However, let’s touch the surface by starting here: the fall of Adam.  We’ll start there because most everyone starts there. After all it’s the first subject of Genesis, and that’s where our ancestor’s poor decision-making started all this mess.

One of the things that the Gardens of Eden and Gethsemane remind me of is that we have to go back even further than either of those gardens to understand that bigger picture of God the Father, Son and Spirit.  And, because I always seem to get to this point every few letters, let me shorthand the picture of pre-Eden by just saying God; all three manifestations of God if you will, were from the foundation of the Cosmos together and involved in the dream of Creation and the fellowship that was to follow from the first breath of man.  All three buried themselves into the ‘Yes!’ that emphatically proves that Creation (and its humans) is worth everything that has happened in and to that Creation.  All three persons of the Godhead agreed ‘in One’ that any price They needed to pay would be paid to experience the givingness of Life and fellowship of God and His creature: man.  That any price part is to be emphasized here, before the Creator created, Jesus was coming!  Or, more appropriately, Jesus was not just coming but the Father has said over and over again in New Testament scripture:  He was sending Jesus, with a purpose and on purpose.

It’s here that I like to separate my thinking a bit: dividing the Why He came from the How He came.  It’s really one coin with two different sides to it.  But, that difference helps me clarify some the early questions I have had about this whole Story of the Gospel.  Let me say it like this.  Why He came was to build a bridge between His creature and Himself.  How He came (the story of the Cross) was chosen to convince us that something huge had to be done to build that bridge. The how He came was chosen to help us reconcile in our weak and feeble minds to thinking like He thinks.  The only way to do that was to pay a price so big that it would, in context, overwhelm our thinking. How He did that helps us solve the problem we have about how can we ever have a relationship with God again after the horticultural failure of those famous ancestors of ours.   I know there’s too much to say about all this to examine it in full, the Bible uses 39 chapters in the Old Testament and another 26 in the New to try and convince us of both the need and the remedy, this letter won’t be able to by a few lines of writing here.  But, I think it’s something for us to begin to think about during this special holiday.  Why He did it, How He did it, medicates our alienated minds.  Imagine God desiring so deeply to reconcile with us, even to the point of doing that for us.  That’s a profound Truth.  All other gods pretty much leave it up to the other fella to make up the gap, to build the bridge.  Our God came and did the construction project for us.

Simply, Why God created all this was for relationship. It wasn’t because They were bored; not because They needed anything.  They were three in One and that closeness, Their ‘agreementness’ was so beautiful that They could not help but create something outside themselves to share in Their relationship.  God is Love and in His (Their) very nature, God is aggressive to share, to care and to give.  That Love has never had a shadow of turning, never changed and never will.  The fact that Love is what caused Jesus to step into our world, take on the violence from the men of His own Creation, die and be raised is the center of this Celebration we are now expressing.  It’s the same Love that caused God to seek out Adam and Eve rather than destroy Adam and Eve.  It’s that Love for His Creation that, after the Fall said, ‘No, I will not give up on you, I will not abandon you, We will pay the price to redeem, a heavy price to gather you back to Ourselves.’  That’s the Why: to re-embrace humanity and to pick up the pieces of the Garden of Eden.

The how to do that so that it’s manageable for humanity’s wee little brains meant a grand, huge action by God would be required.  So grand as to overcome our knowledge that we are jerks and really don’t have a reasonable way to get back into relationship with God.  Our natural minds are alienated and darkened.  What could we really do to repair this mess?  We’re so aware of our dire predicament that we just can’t reason our way through it.  And, that was exactly the deal, the plan.  God did something so huge, so unreasonable, His remedy left nothing to doubt as to the passion and will of God to redeem His people.  Something that would grant you access to the fellowship of God, that had to be a biggy.  Had to be something so necessary that only a God could do it.  Something that would overpower our intellect and break our hearts.  Now the world’s religions will tell you that you, by yourself, can do that by either hundreds of actions or perhaps thousands of formulas.  In reality, only God could build that bridge back to fellowship.    It’s His remarkable Story that’s declared simply in Habakkuk 2:4, Hebrews 10:38, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11; the just shall live by Faith.  Faith that Christ did what He said He would do, Faith in His bridge back through reconciling our problem by His Life, Death and Resurrection.  God had to do something so obviously astonishing so that we ‘might’ let down our guard, might not run off into the bushes as our ancestors did.  Dying for us was the way He got our attention and hopefully and justifiably our hearts.

The Way, the Truth and the Light of Life came, died on the cross to show us His determination to be with us and convince us of His willingness to make a way for us.  Jesus died on the cross but He did not stop there.  By the Spirit He was raised to a New Life and by that same Spirit raised us with Him.  All barriers have been removed except in our head.  Our awareness of our shortcoming, the alienation in our minds, those kinds of thoughts will have to be taken captive and changed to His thoughts.  It was completely unreasonable for God to do such a thing, actually illogical.  To make us acceptable and worthy through the death of His Son, that’s unimaginable, but it’s true.  That’s exactly how He did it!  Performed a profoundly unreasonable event so that we might come to understand why He did it.

That’s Easter for me.  Yes, it’s about a man on a cross, but it’s also a picture of what Father, Son and Spirit were willing to do, willing to pay to persuade our brains to imagine how determined They were to be with us in this new garden called the Kingdom of His Dear Son.