Saturday, September 29, 2012

...but I thought You came to bring peace, Jesus

There was a holy reason the Spirit guided me to Proverbs 16:7 when Christ took over my life when I was nineteen years old. My family of origin was negative and critical, except for my maternal Christian grandmother who lived with us and left us for Heaven when I was fourteen. From that time on, it was as if someone reached up and turned off the light switch. Darkness set in for the next five years. That "darkness" felt like this: "You are bad and we adults are here to tell you so." Translated: "You will never be worth an investment of any kind."

...then a few adult Christians welcomed me into their circle and showed me that I was worth their investment.  The Holy Spirit Who had entered my soul guided me to Matthew 10:34:  "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword, for I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law--a man's enemies will be the members of his own household." I began to experience the pain of the "Dividing Sword" of Jesus. At the same time I was experiencing the beauty of the pure, sacrificial love of Christ in my emerging Heavenly family.

One of the many times when Jesus was talking with a crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside wanting to speak to him, "Someone told him, 'Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you'.  He replied to him, 'Who is my mother and who are my brothers?'  Pointing to the disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother.' "  His dear mother had been told by the angel Gabriel "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God." ...and she replied: "I am the Lord's servant...."  As the news of her pregnancy leaked into the community, Mary suffered as the Sword divided.  Later, as Jesus spoke to the crowd, she had to have known that her son's words did not apply to her.  Jesus' brothers had not yet believed that He was the long-awaited Messiah.

Because of the terrible damage to my young soul years ago, I pick up very quickly on legalism that portrays a Heavenly Father Who is never satisfied with anything we do for Him.  I have been convinced for years that when people enter into the thrilling knowledge and comfort of His unconditional love most lift their bar of behaviour higher.  I have been a mentor/discipler/counsellor for many years. Never once has anyone come to me, broken and discouraged,  that has understood that God the Father measures their preciousness to Him by every drop of the blood of His Son. Many have suffered rejection from members of their own family , religions, or Christians who hold them hostage through guilt, shame and blame.

Paul won the prize when the Sanhedrin held "Biggest Bully of the Year" contests . ...but  then later, after he was cleansed forever from the terrible murders he had committed,  he wrote in II Corinthians 5:17 " "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ...God was reconciling us to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them."

I distance from Christians who are in bondage to the evil one who tells them: "You are a dirty, rotten sinner and that is all you will ever be!" That person has made an idol out of someone. So, my dear friends, what idol is holding you hostage? Does that "idol" wield more power over you than the Father and His infallible Word?  Remember how the Egyptians worshipped idols? Then remember how God caused those very idols to drive them to the brink of insanity?  That's what idols eventually do, even idols in the form of human beings and institutions.  In Exodus 20:2, 3,  He told the Israelites: "I am the Lord your God Who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me". 


What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart!
I have light in my soul for which long I had sought since Jesus came into my heart!
I'm possessed of a hope that is steadfast and sure since Jesus came into my heart!
And no dark clouds of doubt now my pathway obscure since Jesus came into my heart!

Love, Jo

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mom, Dad's in the scriptures

It was about a week after Ted was gathered into the arms of Jesus and taken to Heaven. Second son, Jeff called from Sacramento to say: "Mom, Dad's in the scriptures!" I didn't reply for a minute because I didn't understand what he meant. Then he explained: "Everywhere I am reading in scripture, Dad is there"!  ....and it's so true. I am just finishing reading through Genesis in the "One Year Chronological Bible", and I've been thinking all the way: Maybe Ted has already met Adam and Eve, Abel (oh, Cain, why did you not read the directions?), and the bazillion or so progeny that followed.

I,  along with many of you, "groan for Heaven". I weep for it sometimes, actually, but then my Father brings over my phone or through my computer a reason that causes me to say, "Uhh... I didn't mean it, Lord.  I can wait a little longer". One day this week a  young man invited me to a Bible study he has started and asked me to wrap it up at the end. Less than a year ago, this young man's life was in a shambles. As I listened to him present a well-thought-through Bible lesson,  I thought my heart would explode with joy! This week has been one of those that has brimmed with reports of God's heaven-activity through the lives of precious ones who are drenching themselves in God's Word  and partnering with Jesus to bring hope and new life to others. 

Some of us have been searching for Jesus in the Psalms in our Bible studies. Psalm 40 has for years been a "Balm in Gilead" for me and I cannot count the many that needed to read, absorb and be lifted by it that He has brought into my life. ...but I have missed the main Person in the Psalm. It's JESUS"For we do not have a High Priest  who is unable to sympathize  with our weaknesses , but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin." This Psalm is about His suffering before and during the Cross. I have been so focused on my suffering and the suffering of those that come for comfort that I missed God's graphic description of the Lamb's suffering altogether.

We would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to know that as a nation, we are in serious jeopardy. If we do not bless Israel, we will no longer be blessed by God.  ...but to let that fact control my mind, my emotions and my will is sin.  Yes, we are to "wait expectantly" for His coming to fetch us,  but we are not to be bored and boring while we wait!

Years ago I heard Charles Ryrie (professor at Dallas Seminary) speak on I Thessalonians 1:10. Greek scholar that he was,  he translated the verse this way: "(We are to ) wait UP for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead --Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath". Now, we know that the term "wait up" isn't even considered correct grammar, but the Greeks apparently didn't know that. While we "wait" we start our days with, "O.K. Father. What are we going to do together today? Let's get after it!"

                                HYMN OF THE WEEK: HALLELUJAH, WHAT A SAVIOR!

"'Man of Sorrows," what a name for the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing  shame and scoffing rude; in my place condemned He stood
Sealed my pardon with His blood; Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we; spotless Lamb of God was He.
Full atonement, can it be! Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die; "It is finished!" was His cry.
Now in heav'n exalted high; Hallelujah! what a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King; all His ransomed home to bring
Then anew this song we'll sing,  Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Love, Jo

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How long?

I just received a note from a dear  friend, former astronaut Commander Jack Lousma: "How long will God continue to bless America despite its disobedience?"  Jack, I don't know. You and I and others like us are sounding more and more like Jeremiah, the weeping Prophet. .... but with good reason. Perhaps the Lord's final judgment on America will be withheld longer, giving us a shot at repentance.  You, Jack, who have twice viewed our Planet from space and have twice been astounded by God's amazing Creation and have testified of His might and power to thousands around the world, have a perspective that we groundlings must gain from scripture alone. ....which is pretty "astonishing" all by Itself. We are without excuse if we ignore God's megaphone call to "Return to ME!"

This is an old illustration, but maybe new to some of you who read this blog: Are we Christians all suited up in the finest of deep sea diving equipment, sitting in  bathtubs that are fast filling up, frantically trying to hold down the plug?

I quote from Jonathan Cahn's excellent book, "The Harbinger" (the definition of which is: "a person who comes before to give an indication of what is coming next; a herald") :   "Has America turned away from God?...Yes, it has turned and is turning.  ...As with ancient Israel, America began ruling God out of its life, turning, at first subtly and now more brazenly. ....In America's greatest moments there was always sin, and in its worst moments, greatness. ...In the middle of the twentieth century America began officially removing God from its national life. It abolished prayer and scripture in its public schools.  As ancient Israel had removed the Ten Commandments from its national consciousness so America has done likewise, removing the Ten Commandments from public view, banning it from its public squares, and taking it down by government decree from its walls. ... God has been progressively driven out of the nation's public life. The very mention of the Name God or Jesus in any relevant context  has become more and more taboo and unwelcome unless for the purpose of mockery and attack. That which has once been revered as sacred is now increasingly treated as profanity. And as God was driven out, idols have been brought in to replace Him. ...idols of sensuality, greed, money, success, comfort, materialism, pleasure, sexual immorality, self-worship, self obsession. ...The nation has forgotten its foundations, its purpose and its calling. What was once known as immoral, is now accepted. Its culture has become increasingly corrupted.....growing more crude and vulgar. A wave of pornograpy now penetrates its media. The same nation that was once dedicated to spreading God's light to the nations now fills the world with the pornographic and the obscene. ....Some would call it tolerance. ...Yes, the same tolerance for everything opposed to God, a growing tolerance for immorality and a growing intolerance for the pure. ...Children are taught of sexual immorality in public schools while the Word of God is banned. It was tolerance that put the profane on public display and removed nativity scenes from public sight. ....a strangely intolerant tolerance."

My dear friends, this aging woman is trying to stay calm enough not to have a stroke or heart attack (which took the lives of both my grandmother and mother). That would be so unfair to my remaining children after all they have suffered from the deaths of their dad and brother. This is the verse my Father thrums through my mind daily:  "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, mind your own business and work with your hands". It steadies me. Eating right, keeping my weight 'way down, walking and taking in great gobs of biblical truth and dispensing it as my Father opens doors for the Gospel,  staying away from people who are lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love,  unforgiving,  slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (lazy, welfare mentality), having a  form of godliness but denying  its power, has narrowed the list considerably of people I once thought I had to be around. In fact, He has specifially told me to "have nothing to do with them."  I Timothy 3:1-5. Read it for yourself.

                       HYMN OF THE WEEK: STAND UP FOR JESUS

Stand up, stand up for Jesus! Ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high his royal banner; it must not suffer loss
From victory unto victory, His army shall He lead
'Iil every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Love, Jo

Saturday, September 8, 2012


The Twin Towers went down on Tuesday morning. A day and a night before, dear friends, Ted and I had sailed in to Gramercy Park in the evening and were awestruck by the New York skyline, with the magnificent Towers standing tall and elegant midst the giant buildings containing the business dealings that have in the past made us the wealthiest nation in history. We were residing for the week in White Plains, thirty miles west,  with a thought of returning to the City on Tuesday, but at the last minute, changed our minds and headed west toward Niagara Falls. Midway we turned on the radio to learn of the shocking events unfolding behind us that changed our world forever. The next days were spent attempting to believe that what we were watching on television was actually happening. On Sunday, we were allowed back into the City and were able to walk within a few blocks of Ground Zero from which billows of black smoke were still rising. Nearly all of the tourists and many of the residents had fled, leaving a city locked in silence.  One broadway show, "The Music Man" was playing so we entered the nearly empty theater and watched a courageous cast present a superb show, ending with a gigantic American flag dropping from the ceiling at the back of the stage and the cast singing "God Bless America" with tears streaming down theirs and our faces.

We did not know then what I have learned since. When the nation began,  its capital city was not Washington, D.C.. On April 30, 1789,  the city of Washington did not exist. Our first president was sworn in on what is now Wall Street in New York City. A statue of him stands there facing the New York Stock Exchange. An inscription on the pedestal at his feet reads: "On this site in Federal Hall, April 30, 1789, George Washington took the Oath as the First President of the United States of America."  Washington placed his hand on the Bible and swore the oath,  then withdrew into Federal Hall where he delivered the first presidential address before Congress. After that, he led the nation's first government on foot in a procession through a courtyard into the sanctuary of a little stone church to commit the nation's future in prayer to God. The same little stone church still stands.  In 1789 the church was surrounded by land it owned.  On this land, the Twin Towers would one day be built.  George Washington, John Adams, and America's Founding Fathers all came to this corner to pray on the day that America's foundation was laid. It was here they came to commit the nation's future to God's holy protection. ...and it was here where that holy protection would first be withdrawn.

The shock of 9/11 did not send thousands to churches to pray and worship for very long.  Seven years after 9/11 the American economy collapsed. Then , as did Israel so long ago, we fortified our systems of defense, launching a global war against terror. ...all a reaction to 9/11, trying to reverse the consequences.  ...but the poison at the root of our nation's soul remains. A spiritual problem cannot be solved by a military or political solution.

Judgment isn't our Lord's desire, but His necessity. Yet God's mercy is still greater than His judgment.  This is our hope. Remember Sodom? God would have spared it had there been even ten good men. Remember Ninevah, the city in the most brutal empire imaginable?  God turned away His judgment. ...and yes, He could and may still turn away His judgment on our America.

C.S. Lewis spoke of his time of this earth as "my little life". Me too. I meet with a handful of women and men and young people in scripture and prayer each week, and I wonder: "Lord, what more can I do?"  Lord, lead me, guide me, fill me, use me; help me to have enough sense to keep myself healthy so I won't siphon off energies from others that had best be spent leading others to repentance, to Jesus and His Word.  
I cannot be too fervent in my suggestion that you read "The Harbinger" by Jonathan Cahn. (Front Line Publishers)   Ted's podcasts and other stuff:
                         HYMN OF THE WEEK: FAITH OF OUR FATHERS

Faith of our fathers, living still in spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy when'e'er we hear that glorious word!

Love, Jo

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Our son, Doug, now in Heaven, was an artist at heart. He knew beauty when he saw it and he created beauty in every home he built and every landscape he designed. After my childhood Kansas farm was abandoned, Doug salvaged the pump that supplied water for the livestock during the scorching hot summers when the creek dried up, and kept our garden growing so we could can and freeze vegetables that would guarantee us food during the harsh winters. Doug brought that pump to the city in which we then lived and set it in the middle of a tiny pool in our back yard. When we moved to the California mountains the pump came with us.  Doug and his brother, Jeff,  inserted a motor that recycles a lazy stream of water into the  pool below.  Around the unsightly edges of the pool I have laid colorful slabs of granite to create a natural looking effect. Shade-loving plants complete the lovely oasis. The racoons were elated, insisting on pool parties at midnight, then slipping away with no conscience whatsoever about the dead plants and muddy water they left behind.  Not to be defeated, I surrounded my little garden with a  four foot high wrought-iron fence and threaded it through with a hot wire. It worked. ...but not all the smaller night critters have seceded. Some water plant lovers wiggled through the fence, snacked and nibbled away until I have finally let them win the water lily war. They do not touch the other beautiful plants, and I am grateful.

For years I attempted to grow formal flowers in a 10'x5' sunny space across the patio from my little pool garden.  The deer and gophers loved those colorful annuals and I waged a losing battle again and again. for  the last three years I have planted only rather messy-looking perennials that I have grown to love and the critters disdain. This morning, as my kitties and I started our day sitting on the comfortable swing between the gardens,  we watched to see what animals and birds would join us. Would the mama deer and her twin babies make their way across the wall above us for a fresh drink of water from the birdbath?  We knew there would be blue jays and woodpeckers disturbing the morning quiet with their raucous calls, but would the covey of quail or the humming birds join us today?  Yes, they did, zooming over the garden, searching for the little cup flowers that would give up their nectar to these remarkable little birds whose endurance boggles the human mind.

Bootsie, my walking cat,  and I just returned from our morning stroll down the road to the bench where we sit side by side under a giant oak, contemplating,  as we watch for herds of deer or an occasional elk or two. We examined every footprint along the trail, discovering some that belong to a night creature I don't ever want to meet. Last night I could not sleep so I moved out to my front deck and snuggled down beneath the comforters on my chaise lounge, said "Good night, Full Moon" and slept peacefully through most of the night.

Ted and I lived in five cities during our sixty years of life together. With each city, my soul shriveled up a little bit more. Our second son, Jeff, as avid an outdoor person as are all my children and me, pointed out to his dad (who could live happily in a high rise above Times Square),  "Dad, my mother is dying". The greatest sacrifice my Ted ever made for me was to leave two sons in that city and bring me to the fresh air of my beloved mountains where my soul has been restored.

Some days, I climb the gracefully curving railroad-tie steps to the thousand year old oak under which rests the beautiful granite headstone that reads: Ted Stone. 1928-2010, under which are the words: "To God be the Glory".  I know full well that Ted is not there and that gladdens my heart for him.

I am in the winter of my life. If my remaining family retains this home, my headstone will rest beside Ted's, reading: "Great things He hath done." Until then, these ancient but alive words of Psalm 71:18 give me fulfillment and strength for each day:  "Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power and your might to all who are to come."

                                  HYMN OF THE WEEK:  IN THE GARDEN

I come to the garden alone, while the dew us still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.

Love, Jo