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