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November Newsletter- Feelings

It often occurs to me how Jesus must have ‘felt’ as he approached Jerusalem for the last time. I don’t think he was relishing the thought of having his wrists nailed to the cross, he wasn’t particularly comforted by the thought of a spear thrust through his side. A lashed-bleeding back probably wasn’t something he wanted to contemplate. I imagine the humiliation of those next 24 hours wasn’t easy to receive. And where were the thousands of people that witnessed his miracles, who were touched by his words, where were the ones healed, the forgiven, the lowly, the friends, the disciples? Many that had encountered him had the same kind of thoughts as Peter had, ‘Jesus our king, King of Jerusalem.’ Peter thought Messiah’s purpose and reason to come was to overthrow Roman rule and establish an earthly rule– reign right before their eyes. That didn’t pan out; just like Peter, many abandoned Jesus. Jesus’ vision of his purpose was quite different. In Jesus’ mind: the knowledge of being the Lamb of God, and he very well knew what man’s traditions, his chosen people’s traditions did with lambs! Jesus’ death was real, not a showcase, not a drama acted out by him with a fake response or setting. It was associated with real feelings and pain. God’s son became human and experienced the full human spectrum of our lives; suffered the same persecution from those around him. Christ really did bleed, felt pain, died a slow agonizing death. He was spat upon, screamed at, mocked. Not an encouraging day.
Many years ago, a short time prior to starting this radio ministry, a friend of mine (let’s just call him Pastor Todd Greiner to protect his identity) talked me into going to the Halloween march in Carbondale. No Greater Love ministry sponsored that annual event, walked through the downtown streets and ended up at a location near the SIU campus. That night, the band out of Chicago known as the Resurrection Band performed in a Christian Rock concert. What I remember most about that event was not the music but how surprised I was at the way people lining the street responded. The march was led by a cross and we followed behind. I’d never experienced such anger, shouting, obscenities, thrown beer cans, fists raised in anger, hand gestures– and that was pre-1990. Not an encouraging day.

With many things in life it’s not what we see but how we see it. That’s true about hearing as well. It’s not simply what we hear but how we hear it sometimes that makes all the difference. We filter our eyes and ears with traditions and expectations; however, it’s the Gospel that should filter how we see and hear. I try to not live by how I feel or even by what I see. (2 Cor. 5-7) To simplify that statement, I try, not always successfully but try, to live by agreeing with what Jesus says. Literally, the Scripture in 2 Corinthians means ‘to be preoccupied’ with agreeing with Jesus’ teaching. Feelings are soulish and sometimes they have to be contrasted with the Spirit. Feel is different than hear. It’s hard to explain but the closest I can get is that feelings come from the brain, hearing comes from the heart. Jesus’ feelings, while he did have them, were not controlled by his flesh. His walk was not responding to every moment but was focused on a larger, driven vision. Vision is superior to feelings. Many years ago a friend of mine got into all kinds of ‘stuff’, stuff that destroyed much of his life. One day I spent two hours assuring him of God’s Love for him. For that moment I was an ambassador for Someone else, representing God’s Love. I actually didn’t feel like doing that during that conversation, I actually opposed much of what he was doing, but I spoke about God’s point of view rather than my own. Sometimes we have to separate ourselves from own feelings and simply state what Jesus says about a situation. In some sense that’s the Faith Message: believe, trust Jesus, and not what we see, we think, we sometimes even experience.

As we come to the end of 2022 I’ll share this with you. Just as in your life, in this ministry feelings come every day. Being positive about our Faith and purpose, just as in everyone’s life, even at the station, has not been without challenge. Given the past couple years and even now, it’s not as easy as just being verbally positive. From an integrity point of view, believers’ words can’t be the only positive things stated, believers’ hearts have to be positive as well. Our heart of ministry still remains stable because of Whom we believe and trust. We are in our third year of not doing our annual Celebrations. During those events, we explain our purpose, our hearts, and testify to the necessity of raising the funds to operate this ministry. For almost three years our contact with our listeners has been interrupted. We miss that. Roadblocks related to our concerts have occurred. While we continue to try and create opportunities for encouragement and inspiration with those gatherings, things have changed, the environment has changed, so that we’re ‘seeing’ a different world when it comes to gatherings, even gatherings meant for good.

Ministry in the original Greek language, while composed of 8 different Greek words in Scripture, is defined, as applied to WBVN, ‘to serve, to render service, to wait upon’ (others). We’re locked into that and continue to be motivated to provide that kind of ‘ministry’ on the radio. In essence we experience a kind of congregational caring for one another, a daily gathering of people on the radio that God has given us to care about, to wait upon.

Over all the years, and in each of them, we’ve seen much, experienced much–miracles really. Coming up on 33 years, (January 8th) we praise and give thanks that people have been caring and good to us. Even over that past 2 years plus. There’ve been necessary changes in people’s lives that perhaps caused listeners to have to pause their giving to the station and at the same time there have been listeners that have increased their contributions to help cover the differences. We’re grateful for all that help. It can’t be overlooked that our listeners have done that with limited effort on our part. One of the miracles for us is that we’ve seen that happen rather than caused that to happen.

Let me refer back to the first paragraph in this letter. Imagine you’ve not heard the end of our Gospel story, haven’t read the end of the book. Jesus is just a man, a wise, apparently charismatic man making pretty strange and noticeable teachings. Imagine all you have is the ‘now’, simply living in the moment. You’re following a leader that you’ve waited for all your life. Your ancestors have waited on Messiah for thousands of years. Then Jesus comes, says his Father is God. He’s born out of wedlock, he seems to do miracles. He teaches Wisdom, shows compassion to people who don’t deserve compassion, people who for sure haven’t earned it. He seems to have a regional following in a time ‘regional’ doesn’t really exist. He quotes the Old Testament writings effortlessly. He boldly enters your Holy building and exerts authority over the religious leaders of your group. He says he forgives sin. He draws the attention of the King and the Sanhedrin. He doesn’t raise his voice but seems to command an unusual awe, changes the environment everywhere he goes. He parades into the capital of your religion on a donkey with thousands lining the streets. Apparently he is the king of something. But in reality he doesn’t establish a religion, never rules or reigns or overthrows the Roman guards. What he does is die! Your leader dies. Seemingly, the old traditions win. Rabbis and Romans celebrate his death; celebrate his failure. He’s dead. How would you feel at that moment? Sad? Discouraged? Afraid? How would you feel at that moment, only seeing the Cross, not seeing past it? Today we see past it, recognize its glorious future; they only saw the death and burial. It looked over, felt over, was in the practical over.

But, there was more to come. There is more to come for us as well. Do you think that in spite of what we are seeing there is more to this story? Do you think that if before the foundation of the world, God, Son and Spirit set out on a mission and in 2022, it’s coming to an end? Do you think there is something to hope for in spite of what we see, what we hear, what we experience? Eye has not seen nor ear heard neither has entered into the heart the things that God has prepared for them that love God. (1 Cor. 2-9) Personally, I haven’t placed that scripture into only a Heavenly future, I put that in the now, capable of being revealed to us by the Spirit. Hope is real, it’s by the Spirit.

I’ve never done this in a newsletter in 32 years but I’ll end it with a joke. “When questioned by his mother what he learned in Sunday School, 8 year old Justin answered, ‘We learned about when God sent Moses behind the enemy lines to rescue the Israelites from the Egyptians. The teacher said that when they came to the Red Sea, Moses called for engineers to build a pontoon bridge and they barely got across it in time, because the Egyptians were right behind them coming in tanks, Moses radioed headquarters on the walkie-talkie to send bombers to blow up the bridge and they did and all the Egyptians were stuck and that’s how Moses saved the Israelites.’ Mother questioned, ‘Justin is that really the way the teacher told the story?’ He confessed, ‘Well, not exactly, but if I told it her way you’d never believe it.’” We can have Hope because the God of Moses is the God of today and tomorrow. Part of our Faith is to believe and trust even on Cross kind of days. From observing what we see and hear each day, imagining how these things roll into the future, God in that future, it would be hard for us to believe. However, the prophesied His-story will happen, just like Life after the Cross.

Now’s not the time to abandon him either, where were the formerly blind, the lame, the lepers, those set free by Jesus, where were they on crucifixion day? Our eyes and ears may be discouraged because of what we’re seeing and hearing but the reality of this situation is not as easily understood as it appears. The story is not defined by our sight, it’s defined by the words of Jesus. Luke 18:8…when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Will we be celebrating or wrapped in fear?

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters

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