Thursday, October 31, 2013

Role exits

Somewhat embarrassing is my need for words that tell me I still have a purpose here on earth.  Since I don't hang around the elderly, I don't know if this is normal or if I am a "Tell-me-I'm-needed" junkie.  I think back to the years when my parents came to Palo Alto, California to live after they were 70 years old. I know now that I did not verbally give them the loving, reassuring, grateful words they deserved. Ted and I met their spiritual and physical needs, but their emotional needs? Nope. ...but then we weren't even addressing our own or our kids' emotional needs at that time in our lives. Our children all paid a terrible price for our constant attendance to the louder bleating cries of the sheep in our various pastures.  It's a wonder any of our kids want to go to Heaven, lest Jesus ask them to "Take a number and have a seat in the waiting room".

I am aware that I am experiencing a series of losses and role-exits that are affecting every aspect of my life. I fight a frequent battle against settling into a "until death do us part" mindset since Ted and Doug are gone. Coming back through the gate into Bear Valley after being treated like the "Velveteen Rabbit" in Texas was hard. It always hits me square in the heart: Ted isn't here and neither is Doug.

Eighty-five is just weeks away. No wonder I have days when I simply want to stay under the warm covers, sleep, read and watch the best of soul-stretching programs like Ravi Zacharias on National Religious Broadcasting. I carefully avoid the embarrassing screaming nut-cases that are on some other Christian stations. I still love a mystery. Jessica Fletcher, where did you go? I think half the population of Cabot Cove was murdered so you had to hang up your show for lack of people to have knocked off.  I have watched every Matlock mystery at least once, even though I know I will be viewing at least one bloody body. I wonder: Is Andy Griffith in Heaven?  He was brought up in an old fashioned fire and brimstone church somewhere in the Bible Belt.  He often managed to get an old gospel song woven into his scripts, but then some sexual innuendoes slipped in toward the end of his life. Maybe his money-conscious producers insisted. I so hope that this upcoming generation of talented Christian kids will do something about producing high level movies and plays. Those two boys from a southern state that produced "Fireproof" and "Courageous" did a great job on a shoestring.

I have three assignments made clear by my Lord: 1) continue the blog. It encourages readers, I have recently been told. The personal benefit for me is this: Life review enables me to recall the past which provides a drug-free anti-depressant.  2) Disciple those He brings over the phone and through my door and 3) encourage by phone and Email the saints accumulated over a lifetime of ministry. Many are losing spouses. One dear man has just lost his third wife. Some are dying with cancer or from a stroke; others are losing their physical and mental health. My physical health is good, I think. I will find out tomorrow after a thorough check-up. I would just as soon not know any specifics about my brain.

Would you be O.K. with another old "Heaven song?" My generation used to sing them, but this generation? Well, I'm not at all sure what their music is about, but I'm not ready to give up on trying to be cool.


Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care
Then when all of life is over and our work on earth is done
And the role is called up yonder, I'll be there.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

The right kind of ambition

It was a thrilling week, as it always is every October when I return to be with my beloved Texas friends. I was spoiled and loved every minute of it! Thank you who travelled to visit with me at Round Top.  What a treat!  One wonderful woman who came to see me was one of the first I ever led into scripture in 1957 when she was brand new in Jesus. She has been used to disciple countless people all these years. 

Thirty-five years ago Nick and Euphanel gave their lives and everything they possessed to Christ. I sat in their Round Top Retreat Board meeting last Friday night in a circle of members who are all sacrificing disciplers. I should have been washing their feet instead of sopping up being treated like visiting royalty. ...but it felt so good!

Another part of the thrill of being at Round Top was watching with wonder as dear Michele Lawrence led the worship for FirstPlace4Health, taught an encouraging Bible study for a group of women every day,  and blessed the hearts of the faithful leaders of that transforming ministry.  She lugged my luggage and did all the travel-thinking and planning for me. I am so grateful.

Suggestion: Download the website, FirstPlace4Health as well as that of Round Top Retreat.

I so wanted to be famous when I was growing up on our east Kansas farm.  I would stand on a stack of hay bales and sing,with dramatic gestures to the cows, horses, pigs and chickens.  I  married a man who had no ambitions to be famous. From his beginnings, hard-wired into his soul were phrases like:

If you don't care who gets the credit, God will do great things. 
Humiliation precedes honor.
The Cross precedes the Crown.
God only uses broken things.
Self sufficiency must be replaced by Son-sufficiency.

His sermon on iTunes and 12stoneslegacy, and Ted's podcasts: "The Right Kind of Ambition" pretty much exposes the wrong kind of ambition by emphasizing the right kind of ambition.

One of our precious granddaughters told me on the phone last night, "Gramma, I listened to one of Grandpa's messages on my iPod. I lost it and sobbed and had to call my Mom."  I "lose it" too, Honey, when I listen to his voice, but dear Grandgirl,  keep listening. These messages are your legacy. This granddaughter was in what could have been a fatal car accident a couple of weeks ago. Her jeep? History. She is miraculously alive with no injuries.

Some of the next generation will walk through my door soon to study Romans in preparation for reaching others with the Gospel. One of these wonderful women and her husband are opening the Word of God to kids who come around their job site asking for more Bible verses. Others in the group are touching the lives of many lost people. Praise His Holy Name!

Would you live for Jesus, and be always pure and good?
Would you walk with Him within the narrow road?
Would you have Him bear your burden, carry all your load?
Let Him have His way with thee.


Love, Jo

Friday, October 4, 2013

My "Bucket List"

Being a helpmate to a visionary like Ted Stone was a full time job; I cannot count the ministries he pioneered during his lifetime. I always had a specific assignment alongside him. What's first on my "Bucket List" now that I am alone? "Go and make disciples". I have to be rather tough about not allowing the outstanding women He brings for discipleship to fill their car up with their hurting friends. I want no energies siphoned off that need to be spent in training them to carry out Matthew 29:19,20.  I am so proud of them. They are getting it!

When we were in our first ministry out of seminary with Ray Stedman we took kids on snow trips, requiring that they bring a lost friend with them or they didn't get to go.  The Spirit's ministry happened alongside carefully chosen counselors on the slopes and in front of the fireplaces after a day of skiing. On the last night we had a Young Life speaker give the Gospel.  We were up all night, leading at least fifty teenagers to Christ. When we got back to Palo Alto, my husband presented me with girls to disciple. I went to the highschools on Friday afternoons, picked them up and stuffed them into our nine-passenger station wagon. At our kitchen table, they opened their brand new Bibles and we began to read the Book of Ephesians, the only Book of the Bible I sorta knew. ... so what does it take to be a discipler? ....staying ahead of the new Christians by one verse, if that's all you've got.

Another item on my "Bucket List" is to get the pitifully few audio sermon messages I have found of Ted's on iTunes, 12stoneslegacy, Ted's podcasts, and other venues.  A number of devotional podcasts were recorded close to the end of his life and have been available for several years.  These sermons, recently salvaged on tape and transferred to CD's are all I have from his three pastorates. I suggest , especially, that you listen to "Discipleship is Imperative". That pretty much sums up our lives together, and my ending years here before I go to join Jesus, Ted, Doug and countless others that have gone Home before us.

My precious Michele and I will be at Round Top Retreat in Texas where she will lead worship, sing and teach for "FirstPlace4Health" from the 10th until the 19th of October. By God's, Euphanel's and Nick's grace, I am on the Board of their Retreat. it's a great excuse to get to go be with my dear buddies in Texas.

 I will not be writing or sending the "Blog" until the 20th of October. You will survive. A suggestion: Order a copy of "The Insanity of God" by Ridkin. Your heart will be broken and encouraged at the same time. ...and isn't that the conflict of emotions we believers- in- Jesus all share?

O they tell me that He smiles on His children there
And his smile drives their sorrows all away
And they tell me that no tears ever come again
In that lovely land of unclouded day.

Oh, the land of cloudless day, Oh, the land of an unclouded day
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise
Oh, they tell me of an unclouded day.

Love, Jo