Saturday, July 28, 2012

See ya', Corinth

I've had a heck of a few weeks (years) emotionally. Most writers have sense enough not to write when their emotions threaten to blow the cover off the cool facade they want to present to the public.  No publisher is paying me to be politically correct; no church elders are cautioning me to "Be careful, Jo. We must guard the purity of the church!"  (Isn't that a hoot? if any human being can!).  I can't get fired because nobody hires or pays me. Paul was sensible enough to make tents for a living so he couldn't be controlled by people who thought they owned him because they paid him. ...but I do have a Governor that cools me down and His Name is Jesus.

 I look forward to Heaven for a lot of reasons, but one is: The war will be over! ...but Jesus has left me here to do somethin', and the "somethin" that twangs my twanger is studying and teaching his Word. ...but when we teach the Word and disciple, there are people involved and people spell dissension.  ...eventually. I have written to you recently about my two brothers, both now in Heaven and not negative any more. Blair and Bob opted to isolate from people and died as near-hermits. That possibility crosses my mind. Satan would love it if I put the Bible on the shelf, climbed the stairs to the family oak, sat down beside Ted's gravestone and watched the acorns fall off the tree for the rest of my life. 

Maybe I'll hide in the Psalms for awhile with David and those other guys and give vent to my emotions as they did. I've been studying and teaching Corinthians for months.  Paul was fed up with them and I'm kind of sick of them too. They had been given every spiritual gift by the Lord and were always mad at each other about something. In Chapter 3 Paul blurted out:  "I am completely frustrated by your unspiritual dealings with each other and with God. You're acting like infants in relation to Christ, capable of nothing much more than nursing at the breast." Now, there's  a picture".

...but Paul got hold of his emotions sometime between 55 A.D. when he wrote Corinthians and 61 A.D. when he wrote Philippians. Paul, just like us, was given permission to grow up and cool his jets.  He writes: Finally, ....whatever is TRUE, whatever is NOBLE, whatever is RIGHT, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY,  whatever is ADMIRABLE,  if anything is EXCELLENT or PRAISEWORTHY--think about such things.

O.K., what are we going to think about today? Ted always said, "It's all in your attitude!"

What IS true? Jesus loves us and will never quit.
What IS noble? We are in a royal family, required to behave like royalty!
What IS right? Do the RIGHT thing when we don't feel like it.
What IS PURE? ...only Jesus, but we are becoming LIKE Him, as we pass these rugged tests.
What IS lovely? Jesus.
What IS admirable? ...righteous thinking and righteous behaviour.
What IS excellent? Jesus.
What IS praiseworthy? You'll figure it out if you're willing. So will I. 

                                            HYMN OF THE WEEK: MORE ABOUT JESUS

More about Jesus would I know, More of His grace to others show
More of His saving fullness see
More of His love who died for me.

Love, Jo

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Truth or Fiction

My 94-year-old brother, Blair, died night before last.  I cry, but only because there is no loss to grieve.  I can give you two versions of his life.  The one version would be the sanitized one expected of a Christian woman of my age and reputation. The one I am going to give you is not sanitized and that may bother some of you.  ...but then, some of you may be helped to let go of your own embarrassment and guilt-ridden lies about family relationships. This morning as I sat on my sunny deck and prayed for the Lord to give me this blog to give to you, I asked Him to sift my motives for being truthful about my brother Blair's affect upon me and countless others. His memorial will be Monday in Overbrook, Kansas. I will not be there. I grieved his death many years ago.

Blair was eleven years older than me, and my other brother, Bob, was ten years older. Bob died a few years ago. I did not attend his funeral in Nampa, Idaho, either. As with Blair, I grieved his death many years ago. There were no tears left for either brother, but only sadness that I never had a brother to show me the Godly maleness of Jesus. We can live well with sadness; we cannot live well with bitterness.

Our last name was "Flynn". We were "Fighting Irish" to the marrow of our bones, My brothers were well over six feet tall, broadly built... and frightening to a little girl who both longed to follow them everywhere they went (fishing, hunting, trapping) and at the same time wanted to be invisible, dreading their critical, negative words.

My mother's mantra: "What would the neighbors think?" put the lid on any reports to the outside world about the terrifying anger that often exploded in our farmhouse.  We were a handsome family that "cleaned up good" for the community dances and school functions. All were excellent dancers and to this day, I love to dance, but there's nobody to dance with. Ted was a mechanical dancer and after awhile I loved us both too much to put us through the charade of appearing to be having fun.  We'll dance in Heaven.

Bob's temper and his fists came out of nowhere. Like lightning! Blair made an attempt to appear to be calm and cool.  His nasty disposition surfaced in the form of criticism and withholding of affirming words.  His oldest son died of cancer at 58 just a few years ago, waiting in vain to be approved for something by his dad.

In my 40's I finally matured enough to quit lying about my brothers' powerful influence in my life which all but sabotaged my belief that Jesus approved me at all.  I had told countless others of the unconditional love of Christ, but deep in my little girl/woman soul, I could not believe it for myself. ...until I told the Truth: I had allowed my brothers to be "god" for me. With wracking sobs I confessed this to my Father and hand in hand, He and I began the beautiful journey to His Great Heart.

Where was my earthly dad through all of this? He was there, but he wasn't there. He gave me a work ethic for which I am grateful. When he died, he left me a deep sea fishing pole and a tackle box.  Ted and I took care of my parents for fifteen years toward the end of their lives during which time both came to Christ. When my dad left this earth,  I stood by his coffin, quiet tears flowing down my cheeks, because I never knew him.

What kind of woman have I become, in part because of the disappointing male examples that were dealt me?  Just under the surface of my personality is an "edge" that I am afraid of, lest it hurt somebody.  My dear Ted had little or no discernment about peoples' agendas, and often was dumped on mercilessly because he simply didn't hear the rattle of the rattlesnakes before they bit him. This forced me into the role of watch dog, which I hated. Sometimes I was a bull dog; sometimes, a harmless lap dog., but always on the alert. My happiest days were when we were out of the pastorates in which somebody is always mad and the bigger the church, the more vulnerable to people's "mads" the pastor, wife and family become.

Our Lord required of Ted and me that we show both of my brothers and my dad and mother,  again and again, what Jesus is really like. ...and we did. We helped Bob move from ranch to ranch as his temper cost him his foreman's job. He was obviously using us,  but we wanted him to see Jesus.  We made countless trips to Kansas to help Blair and his family, knowing there would never be any gratefulness or kind words except from Blair's wife, Aggie, who simply wore out and died from the emotional and physical load she carried so Blair could hunt and fish nearly every day of his life.

My Heavenly Father has given me brothers across this world. ...and I have sisters ...and I had dads when I was younger.  I didn't need mothers so much, for my own mother was a nurturer, but underneath she was wounded and hurt.  Early on, I signed on to be responsible for my mother's happiness.  Somebody had to be.  It was a load that I do not want my daughter to bear.

...back to Blair. Would you rather I had prettied up my spin on his life? Some of you would, because your m.o. (That's modus operandi) is fantasy.  I am grieving because he gave nothing to me but pain. ...BUT with that pain, I learned what a godly man ISN'T and what a godly man IS. He gave me kind Ted for sixty years. There's not another one like him and if there were I wouldn't marry him if he asked me, which isn't likely at my age. He would only want a nurse, and I just finished that assignment.

Now here is the surprise ending to this Flynn saga:  All three of these men, my dad and my two brothers and my mother are in Heaven. I was the first re-born and have never understood why the Lord would require that of me: the youngest, the one with no credibility whatsoever.  How do I know the four Flynns are in Heaven?  Do their lives square with many scriptures we could quote?  No, but they are there. Today. Right now. In the presence of Jesus. I will not be drawn into a debate about whether or not demons can be in the body of a believer.  I met them face to face for years even after, one by one, all four in my family became Christians. ...but they weakened, as  scriptures began to sink into the abyss of darkness in each soul.  Were those suckers ever completely gone? I don't know, but now they are, for all four are "seeing Jesus as He is, and they are LIKE Him."

                                   HYMN OF THE WEEK; NEAR TO THE HEART OF GOD

There is a place of quiet rest NEAR TO THE HEART OF GOD
A place where sin cannot molest; NEAR TO THE HEART OF GOD
O JESUS, blest Redeemer sent from the heart of God
Hold us, who wait before Thee; NEAR TO THE HEART OF GOD.

Love, Jo

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Royal Route to Heaven

Many people have said to me since Ted went to Heaven, "Jo, the Lord has left you here because you have work to do." The word "work" has always jazzed me. When I can't work anymore, just "Bury me out on the lone prairie where the coyotes howl and the wind blows free." Paul, the workhorse who immediately, upon his conversion asked Jesus "What do you want me to DO?" states very succinctly what his goal has become: 1) "...for me to live... Christ; to die is gain." and 2) "...that I may KNOW Him...."

What IS my goal? "work" for Him, or to "know Him"? My goal has changed over the years. Paul, the best of debater/apologists, came to a conclusion: One Christian with love is worth a thousand who are a library of argument. We never win a soul to Jesus at the end of a debate. Peter came to Christ because his brother Andrew came after him, brimming over with the LOVE of Christ. Andrew had spent about twelve hours in the presence of Jesus. Before, he had been with John the Baptist, who had spoken about the Messiah. Andrew followed Jesus Christ to see where He lived, spent the night and came out from His presence absolutely spilling over with Jesus' LOVE. He went straight to his brother and said, "I have found the Messiah!"

Has anyone followed you or me home lately? If so, did they do so to argue and debate us about whether or not Jesus was the Messiah, or did they SEE the Messiah's love IN us and want to experience that love for themselves?

I am slowly emerging out the other side of a very sad schism that has arisen between people I love. The reason? Instead of being apostolic, some are "apologetic": on the defense instead of on the same side of the attack against Satan. When I was first born again I was deposited in Northwestern Bible Schools, founded by Dr. W.B. Riley, a great debater/apologist. There were all kinds of little Dr. Riley's running around, waving their arms, defending the Gospel. They seemed ridiculous to me, a newborn. John R. Rice was another; Bob Jones, another. ... then my boyfriend, Ted, came to Christ and followed me to school one day and never left my side until two years ago. Over the years of ministry, I heard him say a thousand times: "Just teach God's Word. It will defend itself!" Naive? No. The evidence demands a verdict. As my Ted taught the clear Word of God for years, countless people were drawn to the LOVE of Christ. I daresay no one was in awe of Ted's great mind (although he was no dummy), but everyone recognized that he had a very personal love for Jesus and people "wanted to follow him home to see if that love was real."

I took a week off from teaching to study Chapter 14 of I Corinthians which seems to raise more questions than are answered. I knew that couldn't be right. I researched, read the best of theologians' conclusions about the "sticky issues", probably muddied the waters even more by my notes for my students and finally picked up "The Message" (Yes, the version that some say is "New Age"; "simplistic, and meant for children", "not an accurate translation from the Greek and Hebrew" and asked Jesus to make clear to me His meaning of this controversial chapter that has divided believers from the year 55 A.D. when Paul penned it from the city of Ephesus to the conflicted church in Corinth, to this very day. Conclusion: The church is to come together for two reasons: to build one another UP and to be a witness to the unbelievers who come in. In that day the lost people were swarming into the Corinthian church. Are unbelievers "swarming" into our local churches today? In many places in our world, YES! There is a great harvest going on. ...and so is persecution.

Here comes a "Jo story". The most exciting pastorates of our lives were from 1956-1975. Three of those years with Ray Stedman were meant to be our training for the rest of our lives. All who have come through Ray's grid (and others who understood the principle of teaching, training and letting go) understand what the church is to do and be in the community. Only in Bakersfield, starting with a tiny cluster of people who had zeal and love for God, but little knowledge, were we able to build on what I Corinthians 14 teaches. The fruit was abundant! From then on, we were forced out of the visible church because the philosophy of ministry was pulpit centered and not about equipping the Body to do the work of the ministry. ...and now I meet precious saints everywhere I go who are wandering around looking for a place to plug in their umblical cord, and all the while, Jesus is the Power. The Message? You LACK NOTHING! Colossians 2:10: "And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power."

I don't know how this blog will effect you, my precious fellow pilgrims in the cities of Viet Nam, China, Israel, Kenya East Africa, Bolivia, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Thailand, America and other places this blog seems to slither into but I know how the Spirit is speaking to ME: I must pursue righteousness, holiness and love above all else. If knowledge does not lead me there, knowledge is worthless. I want to know HIM the best I can on this earth; not ABOUT Him, but HIM!

I told you last week I had seen no elk on my property. The very next day on Sunday, three majestic males showed up; on Monday, a single male was seen by my granddaughter and friend on a trail above my home.


The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord
She is His new creation by water and the Word
From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride
With His own blood He bought her and for her life He died.

'Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of her war
She waits the consummation of peace for evermore
Till with the vision glorious, her longing eyes are blest
And the great Church victorious shall be the Church at rest.

Love, Jo

Friday, July 6, 2012

Daddy, the children are coming!

Dear Husband, Dad, Grandfather Ted,

Jeff and Carla are leaving Granite Bay about now and will be rolling in around 4 o'clock this afternoon.  The first loaf of  "Jeff bread" is baking. If he walked in this house and the fragrance of baking bread didn't greet him, he would think he was in the wrong house. ...and for Carla, as long as I have a brimming bowl of fruit on the counter, she feels smothered in my love. Their Lainey is working and their Lauren is in a summer music institute in Winona Lake, Indiana, so the grandkid count drops to four.

Doug, your three children will be with us tonight and tomorrow. Dee is cooking the Big Dinner for everybody tonight so we will be hanging out on her deck.  Daddy, tomorrow we will be at our house. Jeff, the sentimentalist, does not want me to sell this big ol' house, but wants to keep it in the family. How many times have six grandchildren raced up and down all the stairs, laughing and screaming as they played "Ghosts in the Graveyard"? ...and now those six grandchildren love each other and will take care of each other after I join you there with Jesus. When Jeff comes today, he will say, "Mom, it's so good to be here", and I will reply as always, "You have no idea how GOOD it is to have you here!"

Daddy, when you greeted Doug at the Gate just over a year ago, is that what you said to him, "Oh, Son, it's so good to have you here! ...and we are together to meet the rest of the family as they come Home, one by one, OR, maybe they will all come at once when the Trumpet blows!"  ..but Honey, I may be here awhile longer.  Recall that Blair, my brother is 94 years old.  I surely don't want to hang around and be a burden to our kids and grandkids. You were never a pain during your many surgeries, then cancer. Doug, you left so quickly, the remaining family is still reeling from shock. We will miss you both this weekend, but all of us think about Heaven in ways we never did before. We talk about what you may be doing, but suspect that we are not even close to knowing what is really going on with the two of you.  ...but then, in all truth, I never DID know what was going on with the two of you. You had a special relationship that excluded me, and I was never jealous of that.  Well, maybe a little.

On Sunday morning, Dee and Brent's Lexi and Doug, yours and Robin's Maddy Jane will go to a Hume Lake Christian Conference for teenagers.  Thank you, Lord,  for the solid Christian foundation you are providing for all of our grandchildren. You are so good to us.

As I write, Dee is  fetching yours and my Ridgeline Honda from Scott's Auto Repair. I don't know if you heard that Mrs. Doe Deer bounded off the side of a mountain in front of me  and rearranged the front end of our  truck. I couldn't have missed her, Honey. She was travelin'! Somethin' was chasing her. We have lots of "somethings" up here, as you know. I haven't seen any elk this year, but they're around. bear or mountain lions around our place. ...coyotes in the night that cause Pussn'Boots to snuggle closer. rattle snakes...yet. ...but Dee and Brent had one on their property last  week. I haven't moved my air mattress out on the deck yet, so will have Jeff do that for me this weekend. You know how I love to sleep under the stars and wake up to several crows dive bombing me and cawing, "GET UP, WOMAN!"

Wednesday night as I played fabulous music with our Symphony in celebration of our nation's independence, I looked out over the vast crowd on the football field, half expecting to see you smiling at me, for you never missed a concert even when you were wheelchair bound. Thank you for always being my cheerleader.

You know how I obsess until I get whatever I am working on exactly right. Between yours and Ray Stedman's messages on I Corinthians 14, I just may be about ready to write next weeks lesson for the eager Bible students He graciouly brings me. I skipped teaching this week because I was stewing about meanings and needed to have lots of time to hear just His voice. Man, the messages you and Ray could teach now since Jesus has cleared up all the mysteries.  Some of yours and my buddies are divided right now over doctrines, and truthfully, Honey, I am sick of the whole business. It seems to me that Paul was fed up too at the end of the 12th chapter of I Corinthians so he simply cut to the chase and wrote the most beautiful words in all of scripture: "Would ya' just LOVE each other? None of your human arguments are going to convince one lost Jew OR Gentile that I love them with an everlasting love that will never let them go!"

I must check on Jeff's bread, then I think I will snatch a nap on the deck in the sun. I do get more tired than I used to.

Love, Your wife, Jo

Oh, yes, ... one of your favorite closing worship songs: His Name is Wonderful

His Name is Wonderful; His Name is Wonderful;
His Name is Wonderful; Jesus, my Lord
He is the Mighty King; Master of everything.
His Name is Wonderful; Jesus my Lord.
He's the Great Shepherd; the Rock of all ages
Almighty God is He!
Bow down before Him; love and adore Him
His Name is Wonderful. Jesus, my Lord.