Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Lord will fight for you

I have six grandchildren. I pray for them every morning by name. I love them. I don't see them very often, but I am not whining. This morning three grandchildren plus two of their buddies showed up for breakfast. The Lord multiplied the loaves and fishes. Our three grands and I had a reminiscent time that was sweeter than honey.  Their two friends politely listened as our three told of the many hilarious games they played over the years in this Grandpa and Gramma house. Then one (who shall remain nameless) said: "I miss our talks about God" ...and this gramma melted into a puddle. we ended our time together in the living room with a run-through of Psalm 23. Only He knows what will remain with them from this morning's talk about God but something will and we can count on it!

In my personal morning time with God He still has me immersed in Job's story. Maybe Moses recorded this philosophical work; maybe Ezra or Solomon or maybe even Job himself.  I think Job was written 1) to rebuke the slander of Satan against mankind; 2)  to reveal Job to himself; 3) to teach him patience as his three "friends" showed up to debate him rather than comfort him.  This book lopes along until we reach what may be God's main reason for writing the book: to teach that we never get beyond our human condition that requires repentance.  God selected the best man who had ever lived with the exception of Jesus Christ to show us that.

I run from people who think they "get God". Job's friends.  How do we "get God"? You know the answer: through suffering.  I am finding that whatever security blanket I have enfolded around myself slips off and there I am: naked before my Lord. (Don't picture it! Please!)  Adam and Eve didn't like that much and neither do I. Neither did Job. We know from scripture that "If we suffer with Him we will also reign with Him".  Now I do like that picture much better!

Job had been living in a fools' paradise. He knew God as a Creator; he understood Him as a Redeemer but he did not know God as a Sustainer and the One Who loved Him. It took him awhile to know in the deepest places of his heart that God would not let anything happen to him unless it would make him more aware of His presence. He had lived in a Cinderella world and when the clock struck midnight his chariot turned into a pumpkin.

Job had dreaded something like this and states as much in the third chapter. Over and over he has used the pronouns "I" and "me". He defends himself repeatedly,...almost to the end of the Book. It most certainly does take mature trust in our Lord not to defend ourselves. Somewhere in II Samuel God says, "The Lord will fight for you!"

Job was coming to brokenness. My dear Ted called this terrible necessity "The death rattle of the male ego". He maintained that a proud man will not become teachable until he loses his job, his health and his marriage. that order.

..and that's why I won't write a book:  As with Job during this abysmal account of his breaking, I can't yet leave the "I's" and "me's" out of my story; but I am trusting my human tactics less and less, and turning to the living God Who has given me Holy weapons with which to "fight the good fight". 


If thou wouldst have the dear Savior from heaven walk by thy side from the morn till the even
There is a rule that each day you must follow: Humble thyself to walk with God.

Love, Jo

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tests and temptations

My family has meant so much to me. There were five of us. Spiritually orphaned from my home of origin, Ted and my three children were, it seemed "all I had". Their approval  or disapproval of me as wife, mother, then mother-in-law and grandmother often defined me.  In a little book by Eric and Leslie Ludy ("When God Writes Your Life Story"), I read this: "If the praise of others elates me, or if the blame of others depresses me, then I know nothing of Calvary love." That really smacked me hard, but God's "smacks" always hit me hard. He doesn't mean for them to flatten me to the ground, but only to bring me to my knees in humility before Him.

One of the tests of being old is not "thinking more highly  of myself than I ought to think" (Romans 12:3).  I am becoming more careful about giving counsel and advice. I guard myself, lest as I come alongside people in Christian leadership I do not give guidance that is not asked for. I am sobered to the point of Holy Fear as I teach His mighty, powerful Word, lest I give my opinions rather than simply teach what God says and leave it to the Holy Spirit to guide His students into all Truth. (If you want to check out that stunning promise, it's in John 16:13.) The temptation of a teacher/discipler is that we will set ourselves up to be worshipped out of our desperate neediness for approval.

As humans age,  our losses increase. The "gains" usually happen in the first segment of our earthly lives, then children leave, our bodies remind us that we are but temporal as pain and sicknesses set in, bones weaken, we become bent with sorrow, our minds flag a little or a lot,  family and friends move or die, governments fail, heros fall from their pedestals, job assignments change and depression threatens to lure us into a dark valley.  Need I continue this litany of reality that is inevitable in our predicament as fallen, yet reborn children of the Most High God?

Many of the young people God puts in my life are suffering terribly because of the divorce or death of their parents.  When I was their age, no one but my family knew that my parents would have divorced had either of them had a place to go. Alcohol had stolen whatever trust my mother had for my father. I was terrified, but I couldn't tell anybody. My grandmother had died when I was fourteen. She was the feeble, flickering light of Jesus in our home; then the darkness set in. My parents did not have Jesus to heal their pain so somehow I felt that I was assigned that responsibility.  I did not understand anything about God, I could not understand my parents' pain and most certainly I did not understand myself. As I am reading Job's biography, I am thinking that was the pitiful condition of his three "friends". They didn't know diddly themselves, but after seven days of sitting in the dirt with Job and saying nothing, they couldn't stifle their mouths any longer.   If they had done so, Job would have come to the conclusion that finally delivered him from Satan's temptation to believe that God is not a good God. His three friends added nothing whatsoever to his understanding God or himself, but only frustrated him until he became angry.  Finally Job saw himself as he really was: a man talking without knowledge. He concludes:"  I have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:4-6).

...and we ask ourselves, "Why would God give permission to Satan to tempt Job when he was "blameless and upright, he feared God and shunned evil" ? I must remind myself that God cannot tempt us, His children, to do evil, but he tests us that we might be as gold---not even silver, but gold!  Check out that promise in Job 23:10.

For awhile, I did not think I could survive the loss of both Ted and my son, Doug, within months of each other.  Don't give me any credit for running to God through His Word. I had nowhere else to go. My remaining family cannot heal me for they are grieving the losses themselves. I am rich with friends and not one of them is like Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. They cannot help me heal, but they love me, quietly and faithfully pray for me and allow me to process my grief without giving me advice. These are true friends who have probably wanted to throttle me at times as my "processing" has become tedious for them.

Will there be more losses before I am carried by my Jesus through the Gate to be with my Father forever? Oh, yes. Every day there is another loss of some kind. If I keep my mind disciplined, I will note with praise the "gains" as new members of my family are being added, new disciples are being sent to me by my Lord, new wisdom and understanding are being given me. I am entering into the marvelous promise in II Corinthians 4:16-18. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." Note that I used the word "entering" rather than the words "have entered", for I am in the process of understanding and believing His promises that will carry me for the rest of my life on Earth.

                                     HYMN OF THE WEEK: THE MORE I LEARN ABOUT JESUS
(                                    (This is not a well known hymn. I found it in an ancient hymnal.)

The more I learn about Jesus, the more I know He loves me
His love is greater and stronger than human love can be
The more I live in His presence, the more His trueness appears
The more I'm learning to trust Him, through all the changing years. Amen

Love, Jo

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rescue the Perishing

My Ted was known for his one- liner zingers. Just before he had to be resigned to a hospital bed for eleven months, Ed and Judy Underwood, two of our "kids" who have been in ministry for decades by now,  came to see him. At the kitchen table Judy asked this: "Ted, why would the Lord require this of you?" Ted's answer: "Judy, I am not in management!" ...and we all chuckled. I chuckled through sixty years of marriage to this pioneer I married.   Years ago, my sons found a  stick man in a craft store with a football under his arm,  running pell mell toward the goal line.  They removed the football and replaced it with a Bible. Picture it. That was Ted.

Here's another Tedism: "If you want to be on the map, draw your own map". ....and he did.  Finally, after I nearly died emotionally and physically after pioneering in two towns and five cities,  and launching missions on several continents,  Ted's agape love for me brought us to this mountain.  I am looking  to the top of Bear Mountain right now, a couple of thousand feet above me, where the sun is making the ice and frost sparkle on the trees. As the snow has come down by the bucket-full the past few days, I have required nothing more of myself than throwing another log on the fire, cranking up my fleece sheets to 5, and burying my soul in the Book of Genesis, where all great truths of the Bible are germane. Were Ted here, he would have lasted about a half day before he jumped in our four-wheel Honda and ventured out to find some action. I have connected around the United States by phone and Email these past few days. That's "action" enough for me when the snow is blowin'.

I have been reading about a few heroes of the faith this week:  Polycarp and Tyndale. ...then my thoughts have gone to Susanna Wesley. All were simple mortals with no selfish ambitions who lived large on the pages of history. ...They,  "by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight".  Hebrews 11:33,34.  Their stories are action-packed. Did they have a "map"? I don't know. God did. If Polycarp had a map, he certainly didn't anticipate being burned at the stake for his faith in Christ. Caesar 's intent was that the watching believers would be terror-stricken and forsake their belief in Christ. His plan back-fired. The believers saw Polycarp's unshakeable courage and joy in the face of death and became even more resolved to stand firm in their faith. Polycarp bravely pioneered uncharted territory and beckoned his fellow explorers to follow in his footsteps. They gained strength to face even death for their true King.

Tyndale, a theologian and scholar in England in the early 16th century, lived during a time of widespread church corruption. (When hasn't that been the case?) There was no Bible in the language of the people. Those who defied the church were burned at the stake. Tyndale made it his life's work to develop an accurate English translation of the Bible that could be read by every person. His Bibles were outlawed, seized and burned, and he was killed. ...but his death was not in vain. His very last words were: "Lord, open the king of England's eyes".  A century later Tyndale's Bible paved the way for the Reformation in England and served as the foundation for the King James Version of the Bible.

Susanna Wesley? ...mother of 17 (!) who taught her own children and their friends in scripture. Her "classes" reached such proportions that the Church of England excommunicated her. Did that stop her? ...uh, no. I am reading her son John's quote: "Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clerymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth."

For a few weeks, I was less than excited about heading into 2013.  It's tough going on without my racing partner on some days, but I can't quit. There is fruit. Fruit galvinizes me into bearing more fruit. let's GO!
                                               Hymn of the week: Rescue the Perishing
Rescue the perishing, care fot the dying
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave.
Weep o'er the erring one, lift up the fallen
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.

Love, Jo

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Nail the enemy

"The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy".  Thank you, dear Corrie Ten Boom who lived through the Holocaust and forgave those who had tortured her.

I have never received so many responses to my blog as last week's "My struggle with ambiguity".  I was losing the discipline required to "take every thought captive" but I opted to  write the blog anyway.  Many Emailed back to thank me for letting them know that the attacks from Satan that they endure must not be ignored, but faced as strongholds and nailed to the Cross. As I look over the list of responders, all are fruit bearers.  Another commonality is that all have prophetical moxy and know that "night is coming when no one can work".  The Satanic attacks are predictable.

I have been remiss in not asking you to pray for my ministries.  I am a missionary by calling. Missionaries with any humility at all ask the Body of Christ to pray for us. I must have thought I could handle everyone He sends me by myself. Well, I can't. For two days and nights this past week I have cried my eyes out and prayed with my best friend of 50 years. Result: I awoke this morning with motivation to keep on doing what I am doing instead of isolating and getting depressed.

1. Yesterday nine young people showed up at Koenig's Restaurant for Bible Study. Two of them led the study on the subject of "Laziness and Procrastination". They did a superb job. Some of these kids are from less than happy homes. One person can change the world. I cannot even imagine what nine can do. You will know how to pray.

2. Next week I will begin to meet with the 50-year and up wonderful women. They call themselves "eclectic", and they are.  We study Ephesians. Some of their kids are either on their way out the door forever or are drawing near that time. There is one single, very lonely business woman. Please pray that she will not let "losers" prey upon her. I understand loneliness now. That critter can screw up our otherwise balanced minds and cause us to drop our guard. These are all precious women with huge networks of people to influence. You will know how to pray.

3. I will also start on Thursday to teach another class of  young people, ranging in age from 16 to 21.  Several are in college. Sometimes there are a dozen as there were the last time we met before Christmas; sometimes there are four or five. One of the boys that has been in that group led yesterday's group at Koenig's, and boy howdy, there is nothing more thrilling than to "see your kids walk in the truth". We talk about the best and the worst of what is going on in their worlds. We study Ephesians. What hope a dozen young people can bring to this nation that has come under the judgment of God!  You will know how to pray.

4. My six grandchildren are under the best of parenting. I am not involved much in their lives except to pray for them while reminding the Lord that He gave me this promise several years ago: "As for me, this is my covenant with them," says the Lord. "My Spirit who is on you and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth or from the mouths of your children or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever," says the Lord. You will know how to pray.

I will come alive at the Apple Shed tonight, playing whatever the diners want, moving from table to table,  drawing people out of their possible pits into a few minutes of release from their troubles.

The Lord  has been faithful to keep me financially afloat as a widow and I believe  He will continue to do so.  You probably note that I never speak of money because I absolutely despise the subject.  My appliance parts are wearing out, so water is leaking out. ...not unlike my personal body parts....My Honda Ridgeline should last as long as I do if I quit dinging the fenders by overshooting my alloted parking space.  and if I don't let another deer smash into me. They are hard to miss in Bear Valley because no Birth Control classes are offered here. A magnificent buck and several lovesick doe have been munching away at acorns in front of my upstairs office window as I write. Instead of enjoying the love scene I am thinking of how many more offspring will be scampering around under my oak trees before summer.

I love each and every one of you. That's why I send out the blog to you personally so I can think about you and love you afresh each week.

My long-time missionary-to-the-Yura-Indians-in-Bolivia-friend, Marge Day, gently chided  me for not including her favorite verse to:  "Praise the Saviour, Ye Who Know Him" a few weeks ago. here it is:

Then we shall be where we would be;
Then we shall be what we should be
Things that are not now nor could be
Soon shall be our own.