Saturday, May 26, 2012

Travelling with Chris

 I travelled to Sacramento and back on Amtrac last weekend to see my beloved children and grandchildren in Granite Bay. From Fresno to Sacramento my unplanned-for travelling partner was Chris who is shuttled back and forth like a pingpong ball on Amtrac from his dad's home to his mother's. I asked him how old he is and after telling me "I'm fifteen", without a second of hesitation he asked me, "...and how old are you?" When I told him I am 83, he looked stunned, then blurted out: "How have you lived so long?" I laughed then replied: "Jesus!" "Oh yeah, I went to Sunday School once when I was seven, and the teacher asked if I wanted to invite Him in. I did. I haven't been back to Sunday School since though." we talked about Jesus.

Last week,  Patsy Walkup died. My Ted and Doug met her at the Gate with the rest of the cloud of witnesses. She was seventeen, and we were twenty-nine when we met her in Palo Alto when we were on Ray Stedman's staff as Youth Directors. She was without a dad at home to be her rudder; Jesus became her Rudder. Every Friday afternoon I drove to Palo Alto High School to fetch Patsy for Bible study. Most of the time, she would fill up my nine-passenger station wagon with her friends and we woud go to our house and study God's Word. After we moved to Bakersfield to pastor a small church, Patsy came for a summer to help us launch our youth group. During college, she met John, a student at Stanford, they fell in love, married and moved to Lubbock, Texas, where John served for many years as a professor at Texas Tech. Upon retirement they returned to the Bay Area, joined Campus Crusade for Christ and ministered around the world to teachers and professors.

Patsy's Homegoing, as was my Doug's, unexpected. Today for the first time, I placed a picture of my two sons, side by side, that was taken just a few days before Doug left to be with Jesus. Until now I haven't been able to look at the picture. The stages of grieving are different for each of us.

This last Thursday afternoon as I looked down both sides of Lynda and Bob Howell's dining table at the beautiful teenagers who were laughing and joking with each other as they opened their Bibles to I Corinthians, Patsy was on my mind. I had just heard that morning that she had died. What if I had heard that and did not know that she is not dead at all, but is very much alive with our living Lord in Heaven? In the future, the teenagers I was about to teach will be with Him; by then I will be in the throng that meets them at the Gate. Already they are beginning to fan out and be a Light in the darkness. I do not hesitate for a minute to tell them that in their lifetime, the visible church may be severely persecuted, but the scriptures they are learning will be their strength and power. I cannot express to you how grateful to my Lord I am to have eternal Purpose. Nothing brings me more joy than imparting His Word and observing the transformations that only His Word can bring.

Slowly I am digesting Bonhoffer's biography (Author: Metaxis; Publisher: Thomas Nelson) which graphically traces the account of the way Satan blinded even the Christians' eyes in order to use them for his purposes in putting Hitler in power.

One night, in Jerusalem, Ted and I sat at a dinner table with sixteen Jewish Holocaust survivors, all doctors at Hadassah Hospital. Later I will tell you that story. Many of you tell me to keep writing my stories. As Chris told me: "You are very, very old and have had many experiences!" I will. I will write more stories.

                          HYMN OF THE WEEK: A MIGHTY FORTRESS

A mighty fortress is our God; a bulwark never failing.
Our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe
His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate
On earth is not His equal.

Love, Jo

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I will tell you at the end of this blog why you are receiving it a couple of days earlier than usual.

My earthly dad had to drop out of grade school after the fourth grade to support his parents, younger brother and sister. ...but by then he could read. My earliest memories include his sitting in his rocking chair after the noon meal (which was "dinner" then) snoozing for about five minutes, then reading the Kansas City Star which was delivered a day late by our mail man. He listened then to WDAF, a conservative station as I recall,  out of Kansas City to get the latest news. Franklin Roosevelt, President, had brought in the New Deal. He also launched Social Security, the WPA and government handouts to people who did not work. When a college ""boy" (My dad called these guys "educated jackasses!) showed up in Dad's field to offer him government subsidies if he didn't plant wheat that year, my dad threw him (verbally) a country mile and told him never to come back. If you have never been cussed out by an Irishman, you've never been cussed out. At our kitchen table, we had socialism for breakfast, dinner and supper. Before I entered first grade in the one room school house when I was five years old (We had no such thing as kindergarten) I was schooled on what socialism would eventually do to our country. My dad said, "When people are paid for work they do not do, I'll give this country fifty years before it's finished."

Now, that is a "philosophy". My dad, with only a fourth grade education, could THINK!  Have you noted that small-thinking people talk about PEOPLE, but wise people speak about philosophies, ideas and concepts? My dad was not a Christian until he moved to California and the believers out here loved him into the Kingdom when he was 75 years old. He quit drinking and smoking overnight, and not one human person had said a word to him about either. I don't think he cussed any more either, though let me tell you that my dad never cussed around women, but I could hear him and both my brothers set the air on fire with their swear words (but never "dirty, sexual" words that only "trash people" used then) ) down around the barns and fields. ...but they did use God's Name because they didn't KNOW GOD!

Only God's grace is keeping us from experiencing persecution and nation-wide poverty. Oh, we are poor, all right. We're still floating above reality. I remember, even as a little girl, the realities of the Great Depression (and we ain't seen nothin' yet.). We had plenty of food because my family worked like slaves to produce nearly everything we ate. ...but the city people? ...lined up for miles in the food lines, waiting for a meager, meatless bowl of soup and a piece of bread.

I suspect our Lord is giving grace because we Amercan Christians continue to send missionaries and money to the poor around the world. I am quietly worrying (and now not so "quietly") about the shows being offered in our evangelical churches. A huge percentage of American church goers have never led one person to Christ. " What is it going to take to get church people out of the pews and into the market places? ...the visible church being forced underground, meeting secretly in the middle of the night?  Probably.

Yesterday in my little Bible class with women, I sat there, listening, and agreeing with John who says in his third little epistle: "There is no greater joy than seeing your children WALK in the truth."  Notice?  ...not SIT on the Truth.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, Jo. You've been touting the same "go get 'em" message all your life. Yes, and I will continue to tout the same message until Jesus comes and gathers me in His gentle arms.

This afternoon I will be at Lynda and Bob's kitchen table with a handful of teenagers who continue to come every Thursday and study the Word. I tell them openly how much they are going to need it in the days to come. Can they believe it when none go to bed hungry at night and sleep between clean sheets in a cozy house? No, not fully can they believe it, but they will remember after I am in Heaven, for God's Word NEVER "returns void" when everything and everyone else fails.

I am going tomorrow morning for the weekend, on Amtrak to Sacramento to be with my beloved Granite Bay family. Lauren, granddaughter #2,  is coming from Azusa  Pacific where she is a student. This week she texted me these verses from Lamentations 3:22-24: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself. "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him."


Jesus! what a friend for sinners! Jesus! lover of my soul!
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He my Saviour makes me whole.

Love, Jo

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What Lens are You Looking Through?

                                             WHAT LENS ARE YOU LOOKING THROUGH?

Our home where we have lived for 28 years is at the end of a half mile of dirt road which meanders through a forest of giant oaks. As I walk that road for exercise, I am often accompanied by one of my cats who loves to take side trips to chase a flock of quail.  Because I choose not to have a dog as a pet, the deer feel quite safe on my property and often bring their friends for a party. As I walk by them, they lift their heads, look straight at me and go about their grazing. Sometimes an owl who has forgotten that he is supposed to sleep in the daytime, swoops down to greet me. In the summertime my eyes are on the alert for snakes that are stretched out on the road full length for sun bathing.

The first seventeen years of my life I lived alongside a dirt road; a much longer one. I walked that dirt road to my one room schoolhouse for three years. I was never afraid and I am not afraid now. I had a great deal of time to think, and I have a great deal of time to think now. I am ending my life as I began it, but there is a difference. As a young woman, I walked alone. I knew nothing of God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. I checked out books (mostly novels about animals) from the town library on Saturdays and became an avid reader. Now I am not alone for the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe lives within me. I have time to read the Bible for myself as well as for teaching others and I have time to read biographies of the great Christians that my Ted and Doug are meeting right now. I am currently reading ‘Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” by Eric Metasas, writer of “Amazing Grace”.

Next Friday, May 18, Doug will have been in Heaven for one year. The Holy Spirit brings back memories of when he, Ted and I were a threesome. …for five years. Ted and I had been married exactly ten months when Doug arrived. We were new Christians, knew very little about how to build a marriage and there were no classes  on relationships in the Christian schools we attended. …but we had the Holy Spirit. Our little Doug had such a tender heart toward the Lord. As people flowed through our lives in Minneapolis and Dallas, little Doug would ask them, “Are you a Christian?”  …or he would whisper to me, “Mommy, do you think that person knows Jesus?” That was our little Doug. Then our lives became programmed by the churches we served, and little Doug struggled as he viewed his world through the lens of the church. As he grew up he began to view the church through the lens of the world, and his heart went out to the world that was suffering with confusion, just as he was.

You see, Ted and I had no church background so we were not tainted by the worldliness that invades the church.  As I was walking along my dirt road this week, accompanied by critters,  I was thinking about the wonderful people God is putting In my life and my classes. Both groups are small and that would have bothered me years ago, but I have learned that Jesus and those who were trained by him, left the crowds and poured themselves into a few that would understand that they are on this earth to make the invisible Christ visible in their homes and market places. I have learned that we are not defined by the church we attend, or even by being married or not being married, or by the way we make our living. We are defined only by who we are in Christ.

My lovely Wednesday women all have large networks of lost people in their lives. I just spoke to Patricia, who lives part time in a mansion in Malibu and sells her cosmetic products to the Rodeo crowd of women; the rich and famous, who are bored. These are the ones the world worships. Patricia lives part time in a tiny one-room house in the backwoods up here. She lost her husband and parents in the same time frame not long ago. She is a “fish out of water” in Malibu, and when she comes here everyone is busy with their families. This time together on Wednesdays when she can get here, is a lifeline for her.

One of the other precious ones is a masseuse and soothes the bodies of countless people as they escape the realities of their lives for an hour. She gave me a massage for my Mother’s day present. AHHHHHHH.  Another has been a professional singer. She went with me to Round Top, Texas  last October for a week with my dear, dear friends, Euphanel and Nick, and with First Place for Health (I will tell you more about FP4H soon), and God has been shifting her heart  ever since to reach young people. She will be teaching music in two schools this coming fall. A plan is forming. …a plan that neither she nor I could have ever imagined.

…and then there is the wife of an actor/musician. She is the daughter of pastoral parents who minister in small churches in Minnesota. She and David have six children. The oldest is going to Russia for an internship this summer, so yesterday I connected her with a dear missionary friend in Tel Aviv who lived for years in Russia and can guide her to the right places and people.  Connections. Connections. Perspective. Perspective. Think on both of these vital necessities lest you become stagnant.

..and then there is the wife of a farmer. Together with their family, (whom I love dearly)  they market excellent products in fairs, festivals and gatherings in cities, as well as the local Farmer’s Market which will open soon. Albertson’s now sells their pickles that they personally cut and can . Their network is vast. …then there is our City Hostess who meets everyone who moves to our town. …and then my New Zealand friend, mother of seven, who alongside her husband, has opened their home to the throngs. Thursday night, after Bible study with the teenagers, there must have been forty people who dropped in for supper. …or maybe more. The Thursday class with teenagers has become a “spectator sport” for couples and single adults who are coming to sit at Lynda and Bob’s kitchen table to listen in. My prayer is that they will open their own homes to teenagers. Ted’s and my home teemed with teenagers on Madrid Street in Bakersfield. Some of you who receive this blog were part of that crowd of kids. Many of you are in ministries around the world. These Thursday kids are either home schooled or are in a Charter school, and they are sharp. Only one is in public school. Jasmine and Briahanna Howells  flew in from Patrick Henry University in Virginia on Thursday morning, had had no sleep, but got right into stride with the Bible study and the party that showed up for dinner. Jazz wants so much to be accepted for an internshlp with World Vision for the summer; Bri will be studying Arabic (having received a full scholarship) at Cal State San Bernadino for part of the summer. All of these kids are going to make a difference in this pathetic world.

Three of the Thursday kids are from the same family, are in college on line, and come loaded for knowledge of God. I am, as you know, coming out of a siege of emotional and physical stress so words of encouragement such as Micah gave me slast week send my heart soaring: Her words: “This class has changed my life!”

 One of the kids is an actor/musician and is surrounded by people who view the world from the stage. One of the boys will be starting his own small group, developing the study himself. Four months ago he was into drugs, alcohol and sex. He is sixteen.

Now let me tell you about a dear friend of Daughter Dee’s and mine who is a modern day Lydia who opened up Europe to the Gospel after a “chance meeting” with Paul and his boys alongside a river outside of Philippi on the Sabbath. (Whew! There ought to be some way to shorten that sentence.) Karen is a teacher in a Bakersfield High School. She has been in three high schools that I know of and each time has left the footprints of Jesus  with faculty and students. This time she really “went for broke”. She challenged her Bible Club that meets on campus to invite their friends to a Christian bash last Friday night. She had great kid music and a youth director with tattoos who blew three hundred kids straight into heaven. Five hundred students showed up! Is God through with America? It doesn’t sound like it to me,though Satan would have us believe so.

SO, are you viewing the world through the lens of your world or through the lens of Jesus, who left this world with this commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of te Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Don’t overlook that last promise as you ask your Lord to give you eyes and heart to view the world through the lens of the pitifully lost and frightened people all around you.
                                 HYMN OF THE WEEK: PRECIOUS LORD, TAKE MY HAND
Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, help me stand.
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the Light
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
Love, Jo

Saturday, May 5, 2012

God's Choice of an Earthly Dad for Jesus

I want to talk to you about Joseph, the humble hard-working carpenter that our Father carefully chose to be the model of a man’s man for the Saviour of the world. I read an old novel this week by Marjorie Holmes entitled “Two from Galilee”. Her detailed “take” on what both Mary and Joseph suffered kept me riveted. I had never given much thought to Joseph. After the Holy Spirit startled them  both by sending Gabriel at different times to announce the most dramatic and traumatic news any couple ever received, the violent mixed emotions set in.
Mary was given the astounding news first and reeled with shock and there was no safe place to vent it. Most young Jewish virgins hoped they would be the one chosen, but when Mary became pregnant, they  probably appointed themselves as conduits of the news that Mary had committed the worst of sins: adultery . …and dear Joseph. God didn’t tell him about His Divine Plan until later. The Lord really tested this man’s faith before the Angel Gabriel came to him to reveal the truth and relieve him of his doubts and worries. How he suffered, not knowing if there was another man in her life, and yet wondering, wondering.  Could it be that Mary was the chosen one of God to give birth to the Messiah? …then the pressure became so unbearable that Mary joined a caravan headed for Jerusalem, leaving Joseph to suffer alone, and travelled for four days to visit her mother’s older sister, Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was married to an elderly temple priest in Jerusalem named Zechariah. This couple were well past the age of hoping to have children, but to their amazement the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and told him that Elizabeth would bear a child, and that “he would be a joy and delight to them and many would rejoice because of his birth”. That child was John the Baptist, whose assignment later was to go ahead of Jesus and announce His coming.
Zechariah was struck blind by the Lord because he did not believe the promise of Gabriel that came directly from God. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t strike us blind when we doubt Him? I read in the Book of Joshua this morning: “Joshua, stand up! What are you doing down on your face?” I know I have heard my Lord’s voice saying that to me at times during my lapses of faith, but so far He hasn’t struck me physically blind! Amazing Grace!
When Mary arrived at Elizabeth’s home the baby in her womb leaped and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. …and she knew then that Mary carried the Messiah. Mary sang her beautiful song as given us in Luke 1.  

Back to Joseph, the humble carpenter. Mary visited Elizabeth for three months while Joseph was stuck in Nazareth with the gossipers.  He probably kept building feverishly, trying to finish their home, which actually they would not be privileged to live in until after Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem and they were forced to flee to Egypt from Herod who was bent on killing the Baby Jesus.

Here’s a little bit of information that you have probably known all along: A local pharmacist from Cairo and I engaged in a conversation a few years ago. I asked him where he was from, and he volunteered that he was a member of a Christian sect in Cairo. I asked him how that could be and rather condescendingly, he said, “Don’t you remember that Joseph, Mary and Jesus lived for a time in Egypt before returning home after Herod died?”  …and finally I tied some dangling threads of biblical history together. When Ted and I were In Egypt many years ago, we searched in vain for believers, but we obviously did not know where to look.

I so look forward to meeting Joseph. Who are you looking forward to meeting? The more I read  scripture, the longer becomes my list.
The blog I wrote last week entitled “Aunt Bessie’s Dresser” hit home with many people. Apparently I am not the only child of God who holds on to items and people because I am emotionally attached to them and can’t imagine my life without them.

My mother and my grandmother before her suffered strokes toward the end of their lives because neither could let go of their loads, even when it was possible. If I use my head like I am supposed to maybe I can outfox the strokes that beset them.

…and now the question: What are you learning about your human limitations and can you live peacefully with those discoveries?

Hymn of the Week: “Jesus I Come

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus I come, Jesus I come;

Into Thy freedom, gladness and light, Jesus I come to Thee;

Out of my sickness into Thy Health, Out of my want and into Thy wealth;

Out of the sin and into Thyself, Jesus I come to Thee.