Saturday, June 30, 2012


                     HYMN OF THE WEEK: JESUS CALLS US

Jesus calls us o'er the tumult of our life's wild, restless sea
Day by day I hear Him saying, "Christian, follow me".

As of old, disciples heard it by the Galilean lake
Turned from home and work and leisure; leaving all for His dear sake.

In our joys and in our sorrows; days of toil and hours of ease
Still He calls, in cares and pleasures, "Christians, love me more than these."

I do so long to teach only Truth to those He sends me to disciple. A verse I learned as a new believer clearly warns us against taking lightly the teaching of His Word: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth."

Thankfully I have trusted Bible expositors' works from the past as resources. I would not touch Chapters 12,13 and 14 of First Corinthians without consulting the Greek grasp of the languages these men had. Even so, I pour over their persuasions regarding the meanings of words that continue to cause church and even family splits and prevail upon my Father to give me clear understanding of what He is saying before I open my mouth or write a word.

As I look down the length of Bob and Lynda's dining table each Thursday afternoon and wait for the giggling and punching each other that kids do before they settle down to listen, I think, "Oh, dear Lord, what can a small band of these teenagers do to stem the fast-moving tsunami that is sweeping us all into inevitable destruction?"  I recall that the very words I am teaching were penned by a man who was part of a small band of impassioned , soon-to-be-martyrs who did not give into their fears but trudged ahead with their  assignment to  "take the Word into all the world", and I am energized to press on.

None of us knows whether or not the Church will go underground , even before Christ comes back to whisk us Home.  If it does, human lives will be sacrificed, but many more will come to know Christ than would have been otherwise saved. SOMETHING has to break pretty soon. As I hear more and more of pastors who are having affairs on facebook, indulging in sex with a computer screen as they view pornography by the hour, leave the wife of their youth for a bimbo with no brains, I could just throw up. Ted and I were on the staffs of quite a few churches, served on four mission boards and helped to train many for the work of the ministry. Because of those contacts, I receive otherwise unpublished reports of the fruit that is being born for the Kingdom around the world. ...and I go on.  Wearily, but I go on. ...and so must you. "...for the night cometh, when no man can work."

...for Jesus calls us o'er the tumult of our life's wild restless sea
Day by day I hear Him saying, "Christian, follow me."

Love, Jo

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Her Name was Lillian

Lillian was born in Bristol, England. The foggy, soggy weather caused her to be abysmally sick most of the time, so her parents sent her to boarding school in Cairo, Egypt, to dry her out. She never went back to Bristol, but became a midwife, met her husband, a man of many languages who served as a statesman, and had five children before the Second World War broke out. Because of her husband's work, they were exiled. Lillian took her five children, moved to the north of Germany and set about helping countless Jews across the border to safety. After the war, the family reunited in Libya where Lillian taught the children and hosted many people, including missionary families. The children scattered for higher education,  then to employment around the world, Lillian's husband died, and her oldest son, Peter Junior, a dear friend of ours, brought her to Houston and settled her in a condo not far from our home.

I met Lillian at the church Ted pastored and knew I had just met a goldmine of knowledge. Lillian hosted a tea at 4 P.M. every Thursday, right smack in the middle of the worst traffic and at the time kids were getting out of school. She never could understand why more women did not come to her lovely teas (tea which was perfectly steeped, with home made "biscuits" served on English China). I was always glad when I was the only one who showed up.  It took about thirty seconds to get her headed down a story-road that would lead us to high adventure. Usually I took her home for dinner with Ted and that's when more fun began. Lillian was self-taught, but she was no doctrinal novice. She and Ted would start chewing on a doctrine and two hours later they would still be ragging it to death.

At times when my loneliness for Ted becomes nearly unbearable I force my imagination to visit Heaven and picture Ted and Lillian along with so many that we love at the feet of Jesus hearing the Truth and nothing but the Truth from the lips of our kind and blessed Saviour.

It's a lovely day, but then, after having lived the first part of my life on the windswept grasslands of Eastern Kansas, five years enduring snow from late October until late April or May in Minnesota, then four years in Dallas, panting for a breath of air all the long summer, then Palo Alto where the weather is perfect year 'round, then Bakersfield where once again we panted for breath through smoggy air, then Houston, where humid, hot air is what you get if you dare step outside,   I think every day here is next to idyllic. The Los Angelans who have moved here mutter if the sun doesn't shine for two days in a row.

This morning, I was soaping and hosing down my white satin bedspread out on the deck. (a bedspread no other woman in the world would allow two black and white cats to even dream of snoozing on).  In the tree not twenty feet from me came a blood-curdling scream/snarl of a bobcat who was begging me to toss him one of my kitties for breakfast. I screamed back at him and he high-tailed it over the mountain.

Today, some of my Bear Valley family is hiking in the lower Sierras.  I am reasonably sure that my Sacramento family is hiking, jeeping or riding Ted's motorcycle (Jeff has laminated his dad's picture on the dashboard)  in the high Sierras. After I finish this blog I plan to hang out by my pretty garden where the 150-year-old pump from my childhood farm sends a steady stream of water spashing into the little pool below , and take a nap.  Then I will go to my precious friend Sherry's for tri-tip and games with people she has invited in. Another time I will tell you about Sherry, if she will let me. What a story is hers!  ...Just think about the stories we will hear throughout eternity. ...and that includes YOURS!

                              HYMN OF THE WEEK: WOUNDED  AND COMING FOR ME

Coming for me; coming for me; One day to earth He is coming for me.
Then with what joy His dear face I shall see,
Oh, how I praise Him--He's coming for me!

Love, Jo

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"God, is this the best You can do?"

There I was, 19 years old, thrust into a Christian school in Minneapolis, Minnesota with a thousand students who seemed to know everything about God. I would soon find out that they didn't. Billy Graham had thrown me a rope of hope, sent me to the school where he was President and then disappeared to reach more people with the Gospel than had ever been reached before or since. I rarely saw him after he deposited me in the music department which became my world. I looked around and muttered: "Where are the men with muscles?" ...and the girls? "Little House on the Prairie" would describe the way they looked. I got in trouble the first week with the Dean of Women, Mother Reilly, because I refused to take off my lipstick. I chuckle when I see Patricia sashay into my living room on Wednesdays for Bible study in her skin-tight sequined jeans and five inch wedgie shoes, picturing how Mother Reilly would react. We have to get our giggles where we can!

I fell in love with Ted Stone's muscles when we were both seventeen and he was throwing a baseball from the pitcher's mound that sent batters to the dugout again and again. I prayed fervently that Ted Stone, the man with the muscles, would come to Christ. ...and he did. He had been in the medical corps in the Navy for two years, so naturally he assumed he was to go into the field of medicine and had already applied and been accepted at the University of Kansas to study....then I reentered his life and there went that plan. Never underestimate the influence of a woman!  I knew enough scripture after one semester in Northwestern to know I couldn't marry him. We broke up. That very night, he said to God, "I don't know if you exist or not, but if you do, come on in." "sinners' prayer", no choir singing "Just as I Am". ...just a simple prayer of a young man who desired to know God.  I convinced him that he needed to come to Northwestern for a semester and get some Bible under his belt. He became immediately commited to learning everything he could from scripture and I don't think we ever had a converstion about his going into medicine. Instead he became a physician to people with bruised and broken hearts for the rest of his life.

I miss my teammate so. Pulling this wagon alone isn't as much fun, but I am not really alone. My own family comes around me. Muscle men show up to do what I cannot do.  Many others are in the wings when I need them. My greatest fun is on Wednesdays and Thursdays when God lets me teach His Word. I can feel lower than a snake's belly, but when a half dozen women walk into my living room at 1 o'clock on Wednesdays, I come to life. Pam, a hot-blooded Italian masseuse, said to me yesterday:"We are an eclectic group and I love every one of them." One is the City Hostess, another owns her own cosmetic company in Hollywood and flees to the mountains when she can; another is a fabulous singer/teacher; another, mother of four, prepares gourmet nuts and beautifully canned pickles for markets, one is a mother of seven and opens her home to teenagers who want and need to be there; another is a mother of six who helps her actor/musician husband in his field; this week a Doctor of Psychology will join us, and who knows who else.

On Thursdays, when I walk into Bob and Lynda's kitchen/dining room and ready myself for the teenagers that will begin to flow through the door, my Holy Spirit adrenaline kicks in. More kids are coming now than ever. Today I will go to the Howells for a swimming/food party and there will be dozens of kids there. There are many youth groups in churches around town and they are good ones. ...but there is something outrageously powerful about a couple like the Howells who are taking on the sacrificial responsibility of welcoming all kinds of kids with all kinds of needs into their private home.  Their ministry is very like ours was in Bakersfield when we were at Fruitvale/River Lakes. Our house brimmed with young people. ...and some of you are reading this and remembering, right now. Some of you are in pastorates; some in missions; hopefully all are responsible fathers and mothers, teaching and training your own children and grandchildren about Jesus and how to introduce others to him.

Ezra Howells is here weed-eating. Every spring, everybody who lives in this area scramble around to get this job accomplished. Fires are our great hazard. ...then of course there are possible earthquakes (The rocks and trees on my property have obviously been rearranged a few times over the years), tornadoes or tsunamis or even torrential rains. We are fortunate if we get a sprinkle from May until after Thanksgiving. ...but the snows were abundant this past winter and our wells are brimming.

I have lived here 28 years and yesterday, for the first time, as I was coming home, a doe jumped out in front of my car; I could not have missed her and she is dead. The front end of my truck is a mess, but oh, well, that's life in the mountains. I have at least thirty deer that roam around my property. As I look out my kitchen window in the mornings, it is not unusual to look right into the face of a buck, doe or fawn, standing on the wall by my house.  A mother and her baby will often nap in the bushes on the hill by my front door. I could do without the rattlesnakes, but so far this summer none have shown up to scare me out of my wits. People up higher occasionally see mountain lions and bears. We have had gigantic elk on our property a couple of times...a startling sight!

O.K., now for the hymn that speaks to me and may speak to you as well, my dears.

                        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 my sin and into Thyself; Jesus, I come to Thee.

Love, Jo

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Honey, are you all right?

If you are a reality fan, read Corinthians. Nothing on television or in the movies matches the sordidness of the sin that Paul exposes that prevails among these believers.

Someone I love very much told me I need to lighten up about sex sin because that sin is no different than any other. That's not what I read in I Corinthians 6. There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for "becoming one" with another. Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.                                                                                              

The Corinthians were putting up with rot wihin their midst that even made the world suck in its breath. One man was sleeping with his stepmother. Yuk! Paul's words to the church: "and it doesn't even faze you!"                                         

I hate legalism, but I also hate the soft attitude many Christians have toward sex outside marriage, and now, acceptance of homosexuality as a valid-with-God lifestyle. These are Christians that do not believe that the Word of God is inerrant. On Wednesdays and Thursdays a handful of God's children of different ages (including some who have paid a price for having sex outside marriage) are taking in Paul's very direct words to these Corinthians. "I don't want you to become part of something that reduces you to less than yourself", he says in Chapter 10. "Less than ourselves?" What does he mean? Our preciousness to God was measured by every drop of the blood of Christ. From that base we live in the world, but not of it. It isn't easy. We need His Word every day (for we must live by every word that comes from the mouth of God) and we need each other for loving support, correction and prayer.

We are not going to lose our salvation if we are truly born from above, but the power of God is diminished when we sin and do not acknowledge our sin to God and to each other. That was the glaring condition in the church at Corinth. They knew all about the doctrine regarding forgiveness of sin; there was nothing wrong with their theology, but they did not undertand that the Holy Spirit Who indwells every believer enables us to die to sin and live in His power. When His power is diminished, it is not likely that anyone will be brought into the Kingdom.                             

The Corinthian church was oozing with every kind of sin, including pride and haughtiness about their knowledge of doctrine. ... boy howdy, is that ever a subtle one! Yes, I hold a hard line about sex outside marriage and that is not going to change, but am I capable of withholding grace from those who are caught in its trap? You bet! ....and that is sin.

Many of you ask me to continue to write my stories so here is a story about Ted, Doug and me. ...and God.  This week, on June 12th, my Ted will have been with Jesus for two years. We were together for sixty. As ecstatic newlyweds, we were oblivious to how easy it was for us to conceive a child. I had been carrying little Doug in my body without knowing it for longer than I care to admit, when my car was slammed into at a Minneapolis intersection and I was thrown into the back seat. When a policeman delivered me to my husband, his first words were: "Honey, are you all right?" It didn't matter that our first car was demolished. A few hours later, after traveling by street car across the city to a doctor who took care of students free of charge, and learning that my body had not been damaged, then hearing the shocking words  "...and your baby is not damaged either!" Ted's words were: "Oh, honey, is that all? You are all right?"

That was my Ted. Thousands of times when he could have been shaken, his response was never about anything but the grace and mercy of God. Our Doug was born ten months to the day after we were married. He died ten months and twenty-six days after his dad. You see, I had them both nearly the same amount of time. Is it any wonder that my bouts of grieving still overwhelm me at times? After going over the fact that both are together again in Heaven with Jesus, I give into the feelings of loss for awhile, then I settle into the reality that I am not released yet from my assignment here on earth.   

                                HYMN OF THE WEEK: SAFE IN THE ARMS OF JESUS

Safe in the arms of Jesus; safe on His gentle breast
There in His love o'ershaded; sweetly my soul shall rest
Hark! 'tis the voice of angels borne in a song to me
Over the fields of glory; over the jasper sea


Saturday, June 2, 2012

One night in Jerusalem

It's midnight and I've had a two hour nap, so I might as well quit tossing the covers around, get up and see if the thoughts that are pestering my mind are what He wants me to write about this week. My emotions have been on a wild road trip this week as I have sorted through hundreds of pictures, diplomas, speeches, term papers, theses of our early years, then books, manuscripts of Ted's and friends who have sent their manuscripts for Ted's endorsement, a wall hanging signed by hundreds when we left our first ministry in Palo Alto (Many are in Heaven); a "This is Your Life" album given to us when we left Fruitvale in Bakersfield after fifteen years, with loving cards, letters, pictures and names that brought up floods of memories (Many of these are now in Heaven with Jesus and their former pastor.). When we came back from Houston, several years ago, our children threw a WOW of a 50th anniversary party for us and there were several hundred there from across the U.S. Those pictures and letters capsulized much of our history. The next albums of loving cards and pictures are of our Houston ministries (and now many of those have been lifted into Glory), then there are albums galore of our 28 years here, and many of those who have come into the Family of God are already with Him. Interspersed throughout all of these trips back to the future are countless pictures of our own beloved family, and now two of those have joined the saints of the ages. Nobody but Ted was familiar with these thousands of people and it would have been such a delightful trip with him. We never had time to look backwards when he was alive. ...but Heaven awaits where "the rest of the stories" will be revealed. Jeff will come from Sacramento some weekend and we will go through all of Ted's filing cabinets, and sort through his messages on nearly every book in the Bible.

Just yesterday, I threw off my track another Aunt Bessie's Dresser. Scroll down to the blog about this now famous Dresser if you are ready to bite the Bessie bullet.  Sometimes you need a biblically saturated prayer warrior friend who walks deeply with Him to go with you on this leg of your journey for it  can require great courage. God gave me such a friend yesterday.

Now, I will give you a short version as I promised last week, of a night in Jerusalem in the home of Lili, one of sixteen holocaust survivors from eight different countries. Every one of them had lost all members of their families in the ovens. Only our Lord could have orchestrated such a privileged  but heartbreaking evening. Not one of these precious wounded Jewish people had ever met an evangelical Christian who really believes that Jesus is the Messiah. They were not incredulous and I have wondered if Ted is seeing any of them in Heaven. ...and that really was the "short version" for we were in Lili's home all night hearing all of their stories. ...and then they heard ours, about four o'clock in the morning.

Tonight I entertain at the Apple Shed restaurant and that will be fun. I started rehearsals with the Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra last week, in preparation for the July 4th celebration on the highschool football field. I went to the high school graduation on that field the other night to watch some of "my kids" close off this era of their lives. ...and now you have been so kind as to walk through another chapter of my ongoing history. Are you documenting yours? You have a beautiful story, you know, and Christ is orchestrating it all.

                                     HYMN OF THE WEEK: ANYWHERE WITH JESUS
                                             Anywhere with Jesus, I can safely go
                                         Anywhere He leads me in this world below
                                       Anywhere without Him dearest joys will fade
                                            Anywhere with Jesus I am not afraid.
                            ANYWHERE; ANYWHERE! FEAR I CANNOT KNOW
                                ANYWHERE WITH JESUS I CAN SAFELY GO.