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April Newsletter-Jesus Behold

Posted on by Laura Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jesus Happens:
Now this is just my opinion, it and $4 might get you a Starbucks. Why didn’t God just sit down one guy (ok, or girl) and have him or her write the New Testament? Why Mathew, Mark, Luke and John? Why Paul? Using one author certainly would have simplified the manual and be enough to share one Message, one person’s opinion from beginning to end. To me, using 40 authors and 1500 years to share His story points to the Wisdom of God revealed again. The Creator knows the created, knows each is different from the other. And, God sees the beginning, the middle and the end all in one frame. To Him, each human life is like reading a novel, He can describe the current moment, the past, and look a few pages further and tell you the future. You’ve heard the phrase ‘all knowing’ applied to God all your life. Part of the all knowing/wisdom is being aware that each person will hear and see things differently. Result: Mathew, Mark, Luke and John each describing the same thing but in somewhat different manners. Because God was revealed progressively, I always prefer to read the Bible backwards. Paul is my go to guy, and of the four Gospels, I like to read John the best. Paul just speaks my language for some reason. I can say that about John, similarly. Simply put, Jesus happens when we behold him. Each Biblical author’s writing is in so many ways trying to permit that to happen to whosoever will.

I need to express what I’m not saying. I’m not saying all the world’s religious belief systems are the same or OK. I’m not saying all are right and made for each individual. Abram was a moon worshiper until he found the One True God. Then Abram dropped everything and followed Yahweh. Knowing God, Abram became Abraham or Abram with the name of God attached (breath). This God was not one from Abram’s imagination. Likewise, the God that is I Am is not a morality or an ethic. Yahweh is not simply a God defining Good and Evil. He’s Creator. He knows all things; He is Wisdom, Love and the One God, only true God. We can make up many gods, most often creating them in our image. But He (Father, Son and Spirit) existed on the other side of creation, sits outside of what we refer to as the cosmic universe.

I had a friend years ago suggest to me that the writings of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John were similar to each looking at a different side of a mountain; same mountain but each author was expressing a different way of describing it. It’s interesting that God had 40 authors write Scripture. Each is describing the same thing but in a different manner. The four Gospels seem like that to me. It’s interesting to read the first red lettered words in each. They are all different. Jesus’ first statement in Matthew is about Jesus’ role of fulfilling Righteousness. In Mark the first Jesus statement is about the Kingdom of God. Luke’s first red letters refer to Jesus being about His Father’s business. And, my favorite, is Jesus’ first words in John, ‘What do you seek?’ My favorite because the original language implies this is a question, not posed just to the disciples, but to every man/woman ever birthed. Sometimes I listen to the music we play and realize that one song speaks specifically to a person and it’s possible that 3 minutes later another song will hit home with someone else, meeting their unique needs. I have no idea how many times I’ve had a song come across my desk and think to myself, ‘That’s not really what I was looking for or imagining,’ but I go ahead and send it through anyway. And when it rotates it gets more calls than the 10 other songs I added that month.

The Bible is written to reveal God to us but also written to reveal God in us. It’s His attempt to share Who He is and also what He does. It’s the manual to learning how to participate in our salvation. It’s God’s attempt, through what Jesus did, to tell us what’s true about us. Jesus is referenced all the way from Genesis through Revelation. The Bible is inside surgery. It heals us from our heart outward. I once had a small surgery and they left the wound open, no stitches. They told me they did that because the wound heals from the inside out. God’s healing begins in the same place, He is in us. It’s interesting that, as far as I can remember, all Jesus’ miracles were transformations rather than creations. He took broken things and changed them to healed things. He redeemed the already existing into the new. Even in the first words of Genesis:
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created (bara: using non pre-existing material) the heaven and the earth.
Gen 1:2 And the earth was (i.e., became waste and ruin)( has reference to Ezek. 28:11-17) without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved (brooded) upon the face of the waters.

That story of the beginning of heaven and earth was true about creation and it’s a story that remains true about each of our lives as well. Originally, we were created to be in the relationship with God; Adam voided that environment and Jesus’ work recreated us from the material of our old state into a new one. Again, he takes broken things and transforms them into redeemed/healed things…you and me.

For over 30 years at WBVN we have had the opportunity to experience what we have in common with our listeners and concert attendees. Jesus is common to each. Many may have some differences in expression, just like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but all are believers, each perhaps just using a few different words to express that love for God. Here, we do not try to discover and push our differences. I have a dear friend that, when he and I talk about the Gospel, the vocabulary we use is not very similar at all. He loves God passionately; he proves that every day of his life. We both know God and we each express the God that we agree sent Jesus, raised Jesus from the dead, and shares Heaven with an alive Jesus right now. As those four Gospel writers did, each of our expressions permits someone to hear the Gospel in their unique manner. Like the different songs, each person has the opportunity to respond to DC Talk’s ‘Jesus Freak’ or Christy Nockels’ ‘Holy Over Me’. Remember when Jesus said, ‘Who has ears to hear, let them hear’? You know they all had those little floppy things on the side of their heads. But, what Jesus was saying was, in spite of all having physical ears let those that can mentally/in their hearts hear this. Some could, some could not; but to those that could, do so. I think he was saying, I’ll find another way, use different words, a while later for the others. Scottish author and Bible teacher George McDonald once said, ‘In the future we will be amazed at what we now believe about God. Until then, we can give others respect and grace until we come to truly fully beholding Him.’

One of my favorite BVN things to do is sell concert tickets out of my office. It’s an opportunity to meet people who listen to the station. They represent many denominations stopping by. Never once a question about which denomination they or I hang our hat on. I’m very grateful for that. We each have a library of experiences and expression about the Gospel but none of that separates us from one another. In these days we live in, it seems important that in the very near future Christians are going to have to gather together, respecting one another in order to protect one another. Differences which are associated with which side of the mountain we’re looking can simply melt into ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’. As Big Daddy Weave sings, ‘I Believe’ we all can have that in common.

30 Years of Memories: Point Of Grace

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30 Years of Memories-Point of Grace

I wrote about this concert in a newsletter many years ago. It was about a concert on the night of January 20th, 2006. It was Point of Grace. It was the perfect night. Everything was just right, it was a perfect setting for a “great” concert to take place and it all came together for one of the most impressive concerts WBVN has ever produced. Those ladies had the perfect touch to make a great evening.

I’m going to let you peek behind the curtain a little bit. Two-hour concerts are more complicated than what we simply see on stage. Perfect concerts require many things to come together in one place at one time. Concerts begin with calls to artists’ agents and conversations about travel expenses to and from the concert, meals, financial considerations, phone numbers to exchange, security, sound systems, light systems, spotlights, load-in crews, insurance coverage, publicity, hotel rooms, ticket prices, road managers, location for the event, the dates that work and general information in what is called ‘a concert rider.’ A ‘rider’ is pages and pages of detail and organization to make sure everyone’s on the same page. That all begins months before the actual event and each item must be agreed to, must be organized, and must ‘come together’ for a successful two-hour performance. Contracts are mailed, signed and exchanged. Tickets are printed and sold. A play list is created at the station of the artist’s music and ‘spots’ are written, produced and rotated to give the public the information needed.

All those things take place slowly and particularly for a successful concert, but all that doesn’t always make a ‘great concert.’ You need more than that. You need some things that can’t be written into contracts, things that while you hope for and you might have a conversation about with the agent, they are things that for the most part come out of the ‘heart.’ Things that come from the motivation of the producer and things that you trust will show up when the artists and their management arrive at the venue.

We have a ‘heavy lifters’ crew that volunteers for our events: we have a Phil, a Danny, Dale, Nathan, two Tim’s, Michael, Ethan, Ryan, Dave, Woody, Zane, Frank, and Terry. There’s Cindy, Debbie, Jane, Laura, Dan and Trina, Terra, Tammy and Alphonse, Tom, Kim, Norb and Karen, Sherry and Tim, Keith and Ann, Deanna and Lito, Kelly and Dane, Grover, Larry and Janice, Byron, Scott, Kent and Jim, David, Mary Kay, Edna, Pixie. I’m sure that’s not all of them but it’s some of them, and they make the concert possible for all of us by helping make all the things that are required happen that night. Of course the WBVN staff does significant work as well. Josh, Vince, Derek, Mike, Kevin and Russell, are our hosts at the Civic Center and they always do their part to make ‘the room’ ready but also provide a pleasant environment to work in— that’s special to us. There’s petty cash to remember to get for the ticket booth, contracts to have on hand for all concerned. Towels and bottles of water for the stage are a must. Then comes the point in time when the load-in happens, sound checks have to take place. Food must be in place at exactly the right time so the artists get a warm meal, not a cold Sam’s Lasagna dish. Must get the CD’s, t-shirts, necklaces, rings, caps, song books, pictures all inventoried and on the tables. Need to remember the checks for all the expenses. We take the newsletter sign-up book and newsletters. We take a CD of mixed music to play before the concert. Four stools for the stage. Get the piano tuned. Usually (especially for Schulz) fruit and candy for the dressing rooms. Make sure the hotel rooms are reserved and probably add one room because someone is coming that we didn’t know about early in the contract discussions. WOW! That’s quite a laundry list. But we have it all in place. People are lined up outside and we’re just about ready. You know what, all that can make a good concert, but all that can’t make a great concert. Here’s what makes a great concert.

At about 2 pm, a road manager arrives and hopefully puts everyone at ease with his friendly manner. In the POG’s concert I’m referring to, Matt’s with them (Leigh’s [POG] husband, by the way, who plays the guitar and works the inventory for the table of CDs, shirts and pictures out in the lobby). The ‘girls’ get there: Shelly, Denise and Leigh. They immediately greet people with great big smiles and not one ounce of ‘pretense.’ They make sure we are all comfortable with the plans for the event. On that day, at 4:45 Heather arrives, (she’s 7 months pregnant) arriving after driving by herself from Louisville, KY. While we’re getting the sound-check ready, Shelly Breen from POG is calling the local hospital. She’s taking the time to encourage Amber Farnam. Amber and her husband had tickets for the concert, but she was in the hospital the night of our event. They work on a play list of songs, making sure they check with us to see what our expectations were for that night. At this point we’re running about 45 minutes behind most of our schedule. They’re all still just as calm and as pleasant as can be! Matt’s treating the volunteers at the tables wonderfully and they are actually smiling at me when I walk by.

It’s now 6:30pm and meals have been served. The ‘girls’ sneaked a birthday cake into the room for Heather and they have a little birthday ‘thing’ for a couple minutes. Everyone is relaxed. They’re doing the phone calls to their families, etc., resting before hitting the stage at 7:30. It’s a time I like to leave the artists and their manager alone for the most part. I’ve found that a peaceful ‘backstage’ creates a peace ‘on-stage.’ Many of the artists use this time to pray, many like to read before the concert, some just want ‘a quiet-time.’

We’re into concert now. A photographer’s in place taking pictures for the website and ‘for the fun of it.’ The crowd is responding to the performance and POG is responding to the reception of the crowd. The night has become personal. Those are special times and they’re vital to a ‘perfect’ concert. I’ve seen it before, none any better than that concert. During the concert Shelly whips out an email that was sent to POG from Stephanie Cumbelich (who used to live here) and read it to Stephanie’s friends Amy Graves and Belinda Keller, both of them in the audience. That was a little thing that meant a lot to those ladies. Another surprise after intermission: Denise reads a letter from four young ladies that have a vocal group and ‘sing a lot of POG music.’ Denise called Bonnie Childers, Julie Culbertson, Mary Kim Dothager and Erin Ainscough to the stage for T-shirts. It was a little thing; but a big thing as well. The ‘girls’ sang a total of 19 songs! Not because they had to sing that many but because they recognized the unique quality to the evening. One great concert.

We’ve had many ‘perfect’ concerts over the years. Great concerts bring together various denominations but they share a unique message we all can hear. Great concerts soothe our souls and heal our hearts. They bring us together in universal praise and a crowd of worship. That’s why we’ve done almost 220 since 1990 and can’t wait to meet with you again ASAP. Under the current limitations we miss them and you very much. So many memories have been tattooed in our hearts. But uniquely, that concert in 2006 had a special ‘ladies’ touch! Point of Grace and their management never missed one opportunity to encourage, they were always positive. They were terrific at taking little things and making them ‘huge’ for the people at the concert and people backstage. It was the perfect concert, many things coming together all at one time: music, thoughtfulness, and ministry, professional, talented and creative. Guys can do one or two things at a time; these ladies did dozens all at one time. (You’re supposed to smile here.) To call a concert perfect it must be more than special, more than good, it must be unique and powerful. The POG concert was both and will always have a special place in our 30 years of memories.

30 Years of Memories: Bryan Duncan

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30 Years of Memories-Bryan Duncan

Bryan Edward Duncan, born in 1953 in Utah, raised the son of a ‘preacherman’ in North Carolina. I learned that a long time ago in a conversation with Bryan on the drive from Evansville, Indiana, on our way to our concert at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center. I’ll mention more about that talk later in this letter.

Beginning as early as 1973, Bryan was one of the early Contemporary Christian artists. Bryan originally was the lead vocalist for a group called the Sweet Comfort Band.

‘What a vocal gift!’ was one of my earliest thoughts about Bryan. I first signed him through the same agency that I booked Randy Stonehill and Phil Keaggy, the Street Level Agency out of Indiana. Holly was the agent and kind of a mother figure, I think, for all three. Each of those artists have faced personal disappointments and each is blessed with unique and God-given gifts to share with us all. All three have done WBVN concerts multiple times over the years.

Bryan is an artist that I used to say had an uncanny vocal range. If you talked to him you’d never expect that talking voice to have a range unlike anyone else. He can sing rather casually with little effort, actually, I think sounding better than on the cds you listen to. Bryan’s music expands from soul/jazz and pop to heartfelt ballads. Bryan’s a Harley motorcycle owner and has even written a song about that called “Hogwash.” (Ten #1 songs from 1993 thru 1997, 5 of those from one cd: Mercy. He was elected to the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2007. Had Released 18 solo albums.)

Bryan was WBVN Concert number three on 1/19/1991. His most recent was on October 19, 2019. In between, there were many interesting events and stories to remember about Bryan. I remember our first meeting with Bryan and how after the concert Bryan came up to me and Mike Middleton and wanted to know what we were going to do the rest of the evening. Mike and I looked at each other and said, ‘We are going home and get some rest’. We both had just spent three 12 hour days on the radio during a Celebration and we were exhausted. I actually spent a couple of meetings at later concerts over the years apologizing for that comment to Bryan. There are actually too many stories initiated by Bryan to put in this letter, but let me share just a couple. One that I’ve shared the most was a concert years ago where the Civic Center event was on a Saturday night. Friday night Bryan was performing in Springfield, IL. Bryan arrived as usual, on time, humor in hand, ready to go– he’s always ready to go, he loves performing. As he got out of the car Bryan asked that his luggage be brought into the dressing room. Problem, no luggage! Bryan was traveling with a road manager at the time and he and the road manager had set the luggage down on the ground in Springfield to load in the car and each thought the other had loaded it. Interesting face Bryan was wearing at that thought. The luggage contained a new Armani suit that Bryan had just worn to have publicity photos made for an album cover, and a suit with a significant price tag according to the interesting face he was wearing. At the time my car was in the shop and I was driving my mother’s Big Buick, not a sub-compact Buick– a big ancient Buick. Next thing I knew Bryan was jumping in my mother’s car and off to Target to get a concert wardrobe. Bryan said he was going to drive me like they drive in Los Angeles. Interesting skills they have in Los Angeles.

There was a lot of weaving in and out of traffic, much acceleration, and my big eyes and lots of Bryan laughs at my reactions! By the way, a simple black tee-shirt was that wardrobe. That night Bryan did the concert in that black tee and his leather winter jacket. That was a hot concert in a couple of different ways.

Another interesting moment over the years was the trip I mentioned earlier from Evansville to our concert. It took about 90 minutes to travel. 90 minutes with Bryan is always full of conversation. And I’ve traveled many times with him in the car but this time was different from all the rest. That trip Bryan was very relaxed and seemed to spill out a lot of personal family information about his relationship with his dad. And, without the details, I’ll just say that Bryan’s experience as a young man and the relationship with a parent was similar to stories you’ve heard before. The simple version is that his dad and Bryan had a falling out, a separation, and eventually a time of not much communication. Years of heartache and anger passed. However, Bryan told me the last trip in that his father had come to the point of needing health care and he was put in the situation of having to go and help his father during the last part of his dad’s life. That necessity had led to a reconciliation of sorts and brought the story to a loving end. Bryan’s story of how he felt about his mother was shared in a song a couple years ago called ‘Remember My Mother’ that he performed for us during the last concert.

Without going into details, Bryan has experienced a lot of personal hurt over the years. While one of the funniest people I’ve met, he’s also one of the most bruised people I’ve met. He’s mountain topped and walked in a few valleys. When I express that I’m talking not about one or two things that have broken his heart but a handful of things that were painful. Some have been made public over the years, many from Bryan’s radio program called ‘A Road To Redemption’ done over the past few years to help others recover from their pain. He also created his own record label called Red Road Records, Red short for redemption. Bryan had done what we all are likely to do with pain, we slap it away and either cried or yelled in anger. Being human, I think Bryan has had both of those responses.

I’ll close with this thought. At the pre-concert meeting with some concert attendees at our last event with Bryan, those people experienced the Bryan Duncan behind the stage. That moment was so personal, so caring, so real for those that attended. Bryan is the kind of person that expresses much of what he’s thinking without huge filters or masquerades. Now that can make you a bit nervous occasionally, but he’s so energetic it’s always fun to be around Bryan D. He’s still writing music, doing a bit of singing and traveling. He’s a sports nut; knows every team’s members and their stats. I used to tell people if I was stranded on a desert island and had one vocalist to be with me I would choose Bryan Duncan, an unbelievable voice and his stories aren’t bad either.