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April Newsletter: Changes

Posted on by Laura Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Recently, I was standing in the studio, the studio that’s been our home for over a dozen years now. I looked around at the CD’s on the wall, the computers, looked at the yellow and blue wiring running every direction, knots of wires actually, observed the needles vibrating on the audio board indicating another song about the Gospel being shared with thousands of listeners. What started out fairly organized 10-12 years ago, well, can’t call it organized today.  We’ve been forced simply by ‘wear and tear’ to ‘freshen’ the basic framework of the broadcast studios.  Though delayed a bit, the upgrades we mentioned during the past two celebrations we’ve finally begun to make. Those people that donated for the specific purpose of those changes, thank you and here we go. As with most things, it seems one thing leads to another. Re-doing that system identified other issues that have had to be addressed as well. The benefits of upgrading to current standards will make long-term differences that are necessary for the future of the station.  Submitting to change always brings a bit of ‘tension’.  Being a broadcaster, most of the improvements will not be seen, but each will be heard.  We’re excited about ‘dressing up’ the broadcast with better digital sound and programming options on the radio and in your car.  The old dogs will have to learn new tricks, but we’ll work hard to make it as ‘seamless’ as possible.

Standing there, looking at the ‘knots of wires’ reminded me of the memories held in this building.  There are so many stories about what has happened here and memories from our first studio location. At the same time, I remembered how necessary it is for people to take new steps and not be encumbered by holding on to yesterday too firmly. I’m often reminded when facing new things that God is a ‘mover’ and, as His people, wehave to ‘follow’ Him on our journey of faith. By its very nature, Faith is not stagnant but flows.  In the very first verse of Scripture, God moved on the face of the earth.  As far as I can tell He’s still moving on it today. He told Abraham to change, to move, or better said, simply to Go! Telling him very little about ‘go where.’ One of my favorite biblical teachings is about Jacob. If you remember, Jacob ran in fear after receiving (actually by deceiving his father and cheating his brother Esau) the blessing from his father. He stopped running at Beth-el, literally meaning ‘God’s house.’ That was the first place he met God (Jacob’s ladder). It was a bit bumpy here and there, but Jacob’s journey ended in a place of peace. As was traditional in that time, Jacob built an altar of stones at Beth-el to mark the place ‘where God was’ found. Jacob could have stopped there. We sometimes act the same way when we first meet God. We get stuck in thatplace thinking all that God has for us is in that one location. We enjoyed our journey to find Him, enjoyed meeting Him, and we get comfortable thinking we’ve arrived at our final destination. In a subtle way, we quit seeking Him. Oh, when we get in trouble or need God to show up, we go back to those original stones we use to ‘mark the place where God is.’ We go back there because we want what happened the first time there to happen again there. But God has moved and calls us to follow! Simply, we will need to find our ‘manna’ at the next location!

Jacob did that; he packed up his family and re-located, this time to a place named ‘El-Bethel,’ literally, ‘God of the House.’ Jacob now had two experiences with God. First, he had found where God was, and in the second, he had found who God was. Jacob had ‘located’ Him in the first and had come to ‘know’ Him in the second. That’s very much like our lives. Hopefully, we find Him one day and over time we continue to learn of Him. However, just as with Jacob, there’s another journey to take. That third journey is the purpose and fulfillment of the first two journeys. For believers, God’s prepared a place for us. It’s not just the Heavenly one He’s promised, but also promised an earthly one. In Jacob’s case it was called Ephrath.  In Ephrath, Jacob’s purpose for all his journey was found.  As you read the Scripture you discover that Jacob had no idea why he was to go there. In fact, he had opposition to going there. All that Jacob knew was he was to go and simply followed God to a new place. Jacob never realized why he needed to go there, why put down roots there. At that time, the town of Ephrath was of no real consequence. Generations later, Ephrath came to be calledBethlehem. Do you know why Jacob needed to go to Ephrath? On the journey Rachel died in child-birth, but a son was born to Jacob and Rachel: a son Jacob named Benjamin. Benjamin would raise his sons in Ephrath, and his son’s sons would be born there, and their sons would live there. Jacob’s great, great, great, great, great, great grandson, Boaz, would be born there.Boaz would meet Ruth there and they would have a son, Obed. Obed had a son Jesse and Jesse had a son David and out of Bethlehem, out of David, would come a future ‘son’ named Jesus. Jacob’s changing locations had a purpose beyond what he could see. God had a plan for all the earth and it would be located in the last move of God in Jacob’s journeys.

Some 30 years ago, each having found God years earlier, Jane and I moved from our comfortable spot. It was a spot marked with wonderful experiences.  But knowing we needed to follow rather than stay in that place, we changed our journey location,we started WBVN.  In that new place, we discovered more fully the provision and the very nature of God. In this place we discovered ‘El-Bethel’ or God of the house. Here, we learned of who He was, not just where He was. Here, we experienced newmiracles of God. Here, we grew confident in Him. Now, in our 31st year of this journey, we have found Him always trustworthy! His Grace has been sufficient here. His provision has been manifested here. We’re comfortable here! But we know it’s necessary to make these changes even though it makes us feel a bit vulnerable. It’s time. I look around and want to pile stones here in my office, in the studio and at the front door and just ‘park there’. In our flesh, we want to stay comfortable and do this ministry in the way we’ve done it for the past dozen years. This is the second time in 30 years we’ve kind of ‘torn up everything’ and remodeled the ‘how’ of doing FM 104.5.

I remember reading a book years ago on the ‘secrets for living from the Lord’s language.’ In it, the Hebrew word “DOR” was discussed. It’s the word for generation and is most importantly the essence of DOR to DOR, meaning from generation to generation. In the Hebrew language, the continuity from generation to generation is of primary importance. One generation doesn’t stand alone to be looked at as independent from the one before it or the one after it. A clue to DOR to DOR is found in the Hebrew spelling of DOR. Reading forward brings the message of generation; however DOR read backwards reveals the meaning of “to decline.” In the Hebrew language for generation to generation there is no ‘stagnation.’ We are either growing from generation to generation or we’re shrinking away from the continuity needed in our and our children’s lives. We’re not going to stand still; we will either move forward or we will be destined to decline. This next generation will either build on the shoulders of the last, or as has been the recent trend, this generation will continue to see a ‘falling away’ in the next DOR. 

I’m not sure what tomorrow holds for WBVN. After 30 years I get that kind of question a lot.  Ministry to me is about people. It’s not the building, the tangled wires and equipment; it’s not show business, or not even simply the music. It’s more about changing people’s attitude about their God, truly their Father. One of things I like to share with people is about the monthsJane spent in the hospital in Chicago.  In 2012 she was completely paralyzed head to toe.  She was in ‘total body’ failure if I can say it like that.  She was in crisis health treatment and under medical care for many months.  It was a long story and a complex story, but the shortest version of that story is summarized by this: she went to Chicago a believer and came out of Chicago a knower. She and I both encountered, probably more than any other time in our lives, the God of the House, Who He is, what He does. WBVN, its programming, music and concerts is about encouraging people, helping them to find the house where God is and about finding the God of the house in their lives. It’s about changing from knowing there is a God andarriving in their journey at the place of knowing the very nature and character of Our Father, not only discovering what He is to us but who we are to Him.

Mark Schultz-his 20th BVN concert!

Posted on by Laura Posted in Concert Photos | Leave a comment

March Newsletter: Jack

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.  CS Lewis

This past December at our Very Merry Christmas Tour I got an unexpected surprise. Just prior to the concert, Newsong’s drummer came up to me and told me this was his last NVMCT that he would be doing at the civic center. I was stunned! Jack (whose real name is Raymond and I have no idea why we all call him Jack) Pumphries has been drumming for the band for 26 years. We did our first Newsong concert on May 3, 1996. Since that beginning we’ve done 22 concerts with the band. Stunned does not really translate all the emotion and passion that that conversation brought to my heart. Jack (and Mark Clay, called ‘Poe’ for some reason, the band’s road manager and bass player for the past 25 years) have been like brothers to us. They’re cut out of the same ministry cloth to us. I really can’t explain why, I have no idea how, but each December when the band comes to town it’s like someone in my family is stepping off the bus and coming back home. We go from December to December and it seems like it’s from Monday to Tuesday. There doesn’t seem to be a clock or calendar to our appreciation for one another. That night, Jack and I shared every word we could possibly say to express our feeling to one another. I think I saw a little tear in the corner of his eye, I know there was one in mine. As we tried to find the words and compete with each other to find those words, I discovered that there were really no words to meet the challenge of Jack not coming next year. Lying in my bed that night after the concerts I was trying to put together why this ‘road-guy/ drummer man’ had come to be so valued by me. What had happened in those many, many years to make us so compassionate about the other’s life? We were such friends without ever really spending much time together. It’s not because we’ve shared very many experiences, never met Jack’s family or friends, no hunting or fishing trip together, no childhood memories. Simply, just a deep appreciation for how he cares, speaks, remembers so many moments with us.

What makes those kinds of friends so important, so special to us? I have a few people, dear friends that know me better than most other people. My wife knows me better than anyone else, but there are a few people that for some reason have tapped into being more than just acquaintances. Simplified, they are people that you have no fear being around. I guess there’s a trust that comes into play. And those kinds of friends always seem to be willing to encourage and support. They’re the kind of people that would cross over traffic to get to the other side of the street to greet you rather than turn their head and miss the opportunity to say ‘hey’. Most of those kinds of friends check on you on the days of your doctor appointments or emergency room visits, just to make sure all is ok. My really best friends smile and laugh when something wonderful happens to me; they share my joy when they see joy in my eye. I think most importantly, the friends I think of the most, are the ones I laugh with the most. Bottom line, those few best friends know me in some different way than other people know me. They don’t seem to struggle to forgive me often. I need that with my many personality weaknesses.

It often seems that friends are spiritual gifts to us. My very close friends, I think, were given to me and not made by me. In many ways I don’t deserve them. I don’t ever send them Christmas cards, seldom call them, never write them, don’t text them very often, but more importantly there is a heart connection rather than a Wi-Fi one. You can’t group my friends by things we all have in common. They are all over the place in occupations, interest, faith, age, and temperament. Some of my best friends have far different favorite things and many have slightly different expressions of the Gospel than I. For the most part, it’s like they just showed up in my life and volunteered to put up with me. In fact my really, really dearest friends are people that I can’t figure out why they are my friends. I can’t even remember how those relationships happened, when they started or what started them. It seems like neither side of the relationship necessarily needs the other but rather they just prefer one another.

Scripturally, Abraham was the first to be referenced as a friend of God. In 2Chronicles 20:7, Jehoshaphat expresses Abraham as God’s friend. James restates that reference in Chapter 2: 23. Chapter 33 of Exodus says that God spoke to Moses as a man speaking to a friend. Imagine Abraham and Moses being considered friends of God. Neither was perfect; both were flawed. They made mistakes, probably as many as the things they got right. Abraham was a moon-worshiper from the Chaldees. Abraham, a 100 year old man that fell flat on his face and laughed when God told him he and Sara were still to have a child. I’m sure what Abraham was thinking, doubting in his heart no doubt, as God declared he would be the father of many nations. Abraham’s claim to fame is for being put to sleep so God could do His thing for Abraham. Moses seemed to have an excuse for not accomplishing everything God asked him to do.

Our friendships, which much of the time can’t give rhyme or reason to justify the relationship, are small images or pictures of how our relationship with God works. Many of our friends chose us rather than us choosing them. (Sound familiar?) With God, who has impressed Him so much that He would be attracted to that person? Who is justified apart from the Blood of Jesus to stand in His presence? Yet, God stays, encourages, cheers us on, and delivers Mercy and Grace to us. He touches our sicknesses, anoints our head for the ministry, and permits us to be an ambassador of His giving Himself to us and others. He lives in believers’ hearts and walks hand in hand into our journey and our lives. As we have friends in our earthly journey, He steps into that circle of our relationships and joins with us daily.

Here, I was going to refer back and ask you to re-read the second paragraph in this letter and put Christ’s name in it, but I’ve decided to make it easy for you: In the presence of Jesus Christ you have no fear being around Him, He’s to be trusted because of His characteristic of being trustworthy. As a Friend, He’s the kind of friend that always seems to be willing to encourage and support, in fact, being present for that very particular purpose. He’s the kind of Friend that would cross over traffic to get to the other side of the street to greet you rather than turn his head and miss the opportunity to say ‘hey’. Actually, He crossed the whole universe to get to you and even more than saying ‘hey’, rewarded us by building a bridge to His Father and Their eternal Life. He’s not only aware of the days of your doctor appointments or emergency room visits, He’s there to comfort, to intercede and be present in our hopes, our fears and our prayers. Jesus finds Joy and pleasure when something wonderful happens to us; He shares my joy just as if it were His own. I think most importantly, at least for me, I image God with us always and I see Him smiling and enjoying the time spent with each and every one of us. Bottom line, He knows me the most, knows me inside, and forgives some of the things that go on the outside. I have often quoted the scripture in Acts that says: ‘I know you kick against the briars.’ He knows the difficulties and the struggles of this post-Adam life. And, amazingly, He does not seem to struggle to forgive me often, to forgive me good. Jesus teaches (John 15:13) that there is no greater love than that a man would lay down his life for his friends. That’s what He did for us; you are who He was talking about!

All gods proclaim dominion and often holiness. Our God goes much farther than that. Not only does He proclaim Holiness, but He’s established Holiness in the earth in/by/thru Christ Jesus. Even more astonishingly, our God equates His Holiness with a claim of Love and relationship, purposed in His friendliness toward us.

The Old Testament pattern of salting the sacrifice (Lev. 2: 13) before offering it to God was establishing and referencing His friendliness toward His people. E. W. Bullinger writes in his Greek Lexicon: ‘Salt is the emblem of perpetuity, and especially of friendliness perpetually preserved…The salt with the meat-offering betokened the reconciliation of man and the friendliness of God. All who have now made a covenant with Him by sacrifice are reconciled to Him.’ The whole Gospel, the whole incarnation, pivots on that Reconciliation. It first appeared in the sky as angelic on the night of Christ birth, ‘Peace on Earth, Good Will toward men’. That sounds pretty friendly to me.

Jack has been a gift from God to me. Actually, Jack, Poe, Eddie, Billy, Russ, and Rico have all been friends from God to our community of believers known as WBVN.