Friday, February 27, 2015

This ol' house

....costs a bundle to heat on a cold day I crank up my electric blanket and hunker down in my king-size bed which becomes my office for the day.  Spread out around me besides my cats are my land and cell phones,  my Bible,  J. Vernon McGee's commentaries and writing materials.  Before 9 A.M. I may have communicated with beloveds in Connecticut, Pennsylvania,  Florida, Alabama, Kansas, Colorado, Texas,  and Arizona. The West Coast communication begins a little later.  During the freezing day I throw on my fuzzy robe and run to the computer in my office,  harvest the prayer requests then zoom back to hunker down to pray for my buddies.  I am a blessed older child of the King.  Carol Burnett said this about being "older". "I didn't know I was aging until I looked down at the end of my sleeves and there were my mother's hands hanging out!"  Yep!

My friend Ed went to be with Jesus last weekend.  Pat, as with all of us who are left without our spouses would just as soon go with him. ...but probably won't get to do that for awhile because she's got a lot of pizazz left in her to finish God's assignment for just her. Yesterday's' conversation with widowed Robin V. brings joy unspeakable to my heart. Her husband Gene was a drop-dead handsome Bulgarian anchor man on a local TV station in Bakersfield, became a Christian and was fired because he talked about Jesus too much. That very day Ted had a letter from Bill Bright asking if he knew any successful media men that could take over Crusade's needs. Ted and Gene headed for Arrowhead Springs, Campus Crusade's headquarters at that time.  Bill saw that this classy couple could reach executives so he moved them to New York City and then back to Southern California. Gene is gone, but Robin isn't. She continues to throw glitzy parties in the homes of wealthy women who know Jesus.  New-believer fruit happens and Robin and her friends disciple the new fruit.  Here is something else this enduring woman does: She walks her nearby beach nearly every day,  sharing Christ with kids around campfires, tourists from other countries and other beach lovers.  In front of me is a list of 36 people to pray for who have either asked Jesus into their lives or are "on their way"  as my Ted would say.

A week or so ago a widowed friend, Glenna W.  now in her late 70's and her daughter came through Tehachapi on their way somewhere. We breakfasted together in town.  Glenna continues to be an encourager to her pastor and church and to countless others...including me. My memory zinged back to the early 60's when Fruitvale church needed to expand as people were pouring in from all over Bakersfield and surrounding towns.  Ted  refused to borrow any money to build. The flock was encouraged to buy bricks as God provided the money.  I shall never forget the morning when Glenna and A.M.'s  five children came down the middle aisle of our church,  pushing a wheelbarrow brim full of pennies they had earned! During that time a pastor from a big church that was in debt up to their armpits stopped by Ted's office. Ted walked him around our humble property and church building and these were his words: "I can only imagine what you could accomplish here, Ted,  if you only had faith."

...back to that same restaurant after Glenna and Leora went on their way.  It was lunch time. By appointment, in the door walked Randy and Bea, dearest friends from their days here in Bear Valley. Randy became the Warden at Sole dad Prison. Retired from that position he and Bea are moving into new ministry.  Exciting!  God is opening doors and they are walking through them!

There's more, but not today.
                                               OLD HYMN: LIVING FOR JESUS

Living for Jesus Who died in my place,  bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace.
Such love constrains me to answer His call, follow His leading and give Him my all.

Living for Jesus through earth's little while; my dearest treasure, the light of His smile.
Seeking the lost ones He died to redeem, bringing the weary to find rest in Him.



Friday, February 20, 2015

The Keys to His Kingdom

It is 4 A.M. My body announces the beginning of a new day before the crows begin to caw. In a few hours a strikingly beautiful Hispanic woman from Bakersfield will come through my doors and Jesus will be in our midst for several hours. I urge you to read her story on our website under  "Real Life Stories".  In order to protect her privacy we have renamed her "Sonja".  She is married to a strong-in-Christ man now; they have beautiful children and together they minister to broken people.

During a recent visit long-time trusted OC missionaries, Greg and Denyse Grippentrog gave me the book "The Great Evangelistic Recession" by an Arizona pastor, John Dickerson (Baker Publishers).  I suggest that you read it. Greg and Denyse,  after years of heading up their organization are returning at the age of 68 to Indonesia to resume their ministry there.

Grandchild news: Jeff and Carla's Lainey is working hard at her job and studying Law at Sacramento State University. Second granddaughter Lauren is working hard to become a physician at Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia. Doug and Robin's Luke is working hard in Coeur d'alene, Idaho. His younger brother Lance, now working for the Wind Farms will join him in Idaho next month.Their youngest, Madi Jane is nearby...a home-schooled junior in high school.  Dee and Brent's Lexi, a champion swimmer on the Varsity team at Bakersfield Junior College will transfer to the University of California in Hayward in the fall. When all discover for themselves that this world, the flesh and the devil are not their friends they will come to rest in Him.  I believe that,  for God promised me.

As the east coast struggles to stay in business while buried under immeasurable mountains of snow we in California watch as our orchards spring into bloom  'way too early, with fading hope for actual floods to raise the water to a level that can produce vegetables, fruit and yes, nuts that feed the nation. At night my mind whirls around all of the above before I can let it all go to Him and sleep.

This morning my renewed mind is going over last week's chapter of my life.  An estranged Hispanic couple is reconciled after inviting Jesus to fight their exhausting war with the devil. Last Monday a beautiful, slender blond woman whose life was once a train wreck brought from Bakersfield her Hispanic friend whose life is now a train-wreck.  I sat with them on my sun-drenched deck and listened as my friend guided her friend to life-giving decisions.  ...and then there were conversations with life-producing fellow pilgrims.  From one of my nearby lovely young friends, delivered along with her husband from a death-wielding cult came a welcomed call bringing me up to date on the life-giving discipleship they are giving to others. Always there is a life-giving conversation with my oldest California friend who is recovering from surgery for melanoma that attacked her eyelid. Another life-giving conversation was with my spiritually strong widowed niece-by-marriage in Kansas, left financially poor but making many rich.  Another life-giving conversation was with my Alabama-born friend in Florida whose marriage was flushing down the toilet when our lives intersected in Houston. Now she and her husband are bringing life through Christ to other couples. Another conversation was with my dear Houston friend whose husband was on our California church board as well as our Houston church board.  Ed is slipping into Heaven where all kinds of cancer will be forever gone.

Thursday in my living room were a new-in-Christ mother and her beautiful six- foot- tall ex-military daughter who are both reading and growing in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sitting near them was the dark-haired beautiful Korean Christian piano teacher who sowed the Seed into the heart of the daughter who sowed the Seed into the heart of her mother. Next to me on my couch was a gorgeous woman whose family from India was transplanted to New Zealand where my friend came to know Christ as she listened to the hopelessness at the funeral of her Hindu father. Then in the door came another lovely one whose husband was removed from a local church staff in order to "go and make disciples".  Another of the Thursday women, a raven-haired Italian is in Connecticut bringing life and hope to her family as her mother recovers from heart surgery. I don't know where the others were yesterday but I know they are about the Father's business.

My darlings, the gates of Hell will not prevail against the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He has gifted us with the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and we are still privileged to offer those Keys to others who are thirsting to know Him.
                                             WONDERFUL PEACE

Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial-like strains it unceasingly falls o'er my soul like an infinite calm.

Ah! soul, are you here without comfort or rest, marching down the rough pathway of time?
Make Jesus your Friend 'ere the shadows grow dark;  Oh accept this sweet peace so sublime. 


Love,  Jo

Friday, February 13, 2015

Love language

My man never laid a guilt trip on his congregations. He even  refused to be called "Reverend",  "Pastor" or "Doctor".  Like his mentor Ray Stedman,  he was simply "Ted".  I loved that about him.

Last week's blog hit a nerve,  I hafta wonder how many women maneuvered a way to get your husbands to read it. It would seem such a simple goal for husbands to desire to learn their wife's love language. Nope. Ted didn't. ...for years. He just couldn't "get" that words like "Jo can bounce ten balls at once. She is so resourceful!"  didn't do a bloomin' thing for my woman/soul.  I needed words about my heart; my character traits...not about my performance.   I listened to Ted Stone teach the Book from pulpits,  in living rooms, under trees, on hillsides,  in restaurants.  Once I said to him: "You'd preach to a stump!"  His reply: "Yep. ...if it would sprout!" ...but across the breakfast table or next to me for a thousand nights?  He couldn't seem to cough up words that touched my soul.  His love language was deeds. I felt guilty because I wasn't grateful enough for his deeds. My guilt increased as we travelled and taught in poverty-stricken countries where women are treated like dirt, live in dirt,  feel like dirt and manage to survive. Barely.

...and then the Cavalry came over the hill.  God 1) turned to me, 2) heard my cry, 3 )lifted my foot out of the miry clay and 4) set it upon a ROCK,  and 5) made my footsteps firm....then He 6)  put a new song in my mouth; a song of praise. Result: Many are seeing and hearing.  That's Psalm 40:1-3. God asks us to wait and trust Him while He is doing six things.  Ted's and my personal "Cavalry" will remain unidentified, for this dear couple would be embarrassed if I told you who they are. They lovingly confronted us; nobody else had had the courage,  for after all, weren't we the "experts"?That's the downside of  being professional pastors, missionaries and counselors. We are supposed to know it all.   We don't!  You see, Ted and I hit the ground running when we were introduced to Jesus at 20 years of age. We didn't know we even had a soul.  For eight years our brains were stuffed with doctrine, with not one class that mentioned emotions. I knew I had 'em, but considered any emotion but joy to be sin.  Anger?  Oh, my no.  Ted never got angry so I concluded that my tears had to be about something I was not grateful for. ...and then there is that confusing scripture in Ephesians about being angry, not sinning and for Jesus' sake, never going to sleep I didn't.  I took a drug to help me sleep, but only my Christian doctor and I knew....except for Jesus.  He knew.

I began to search the scriptures daily.  Ecclesiastes became my corner-turning Book.  I am not sure exactly how that happened.  I won't be writing any manuals because I believe The Manual that God wrote says it all. ...if we read it and ask the Holy Spirit to tell us exactly what God is personally saying to us,  believe it and act on it!

I just took a break to make a second cup o' coffee in my Keurig,  looked out my kitchen window and there are buzzards and red-tail hawks circling above something dead on the mountain above my house.  Thankfully,  it's not me, so let's proceed.

Currently I am listening to the death rattle of some male egos (Ted's words; not mine.). Later in life Ted began to know and declare that a proud male will not change until he loses his business, his health and his marriage...usually in that order. The Gospel through individuals and families is the hope for the on-going Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many pastors are not discipling those entrusted to them to read, hear and speak His Word to others.  I believe the true visible church will be forced underground in the not-so-distant future. Will that true church ever die? No. I believe it will become stronger through persecution.  It always this is no time to fold up in discouragement. Pick your battles. If you are in a messy church that is using up all of your emotional stamps, get out and start your your home...with your family and maybe a few friends.  The Holy Spirit will teach you as you teach others. You may screw up a few doctrines here and there, but so do many pastors with a slew of degrees.  Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing:  the Lord Jesus Christ,  the Author and Finisher of our Faith.

A recommended book to encourage your hearts:   "Miraculous Movements"  by Jerry Trousdale; Thomas Nelson Publishing.

The Lord will bless you and keep you;
The Lord will lift His countenance upon you 
And He will give you peace.
The Lord will make His face to shine upon you 
And He will be gracious unto you. 

Love, Jo

Friday, February 6, 2015

Regret: satan's Bullseye!

In order to balance my female spin on matters I need a couple of trusted men around me since Ted went off to be with Jesus. One of those, an older pastor discerned that I was under attack from satan. I was feeling regret for putting our children's dad's and ministry requirements ahead of theirs at times. Not all made choices that would not bring painful consequences. The blame for their choices was hitting me right in the belly. (Did you know that in many languages the soul is actually called the belly?)   I quote from my pastor friend's Email to me: "Dear sister-in-Christ, ...about regrets: We all have them, but regret acts like guilt long after God covers it by His grace. The adversary stirs regret to reinvigorate guilt over things confessed and forgiven. When we give him a hearing, he will prompt us to mishandle the pain of regret and move from self-pity to resentment to bitterness."  Bingo!

On my very worst day during this attack my Lord sent a pair of veteran missionaries with whose ministry Ted and I have been associated for years.  This beloved couple is returning to a Muslim-dominated mission field very soon.  The husband's question: "What do you believe I need to concentrate on most as we return to train ten new couples on our field?"  I needed to think about the question. After they left I texted them a shorter version of what I am about to write. 1)  Make sure the two of you are lovers. I am not talking about sex. You will get your sex if you pay attention to what I am about to tell you.  Most married women servants are emotionally starving to death. This condition will manifest in depression, physical illness, mood swings, repressed anger and possibly death. Divorce is usually unthinkable for that would make the husband and God look bad, and wives must protect the image of both.  It says so in the "Submission Manual" that some insecure, domineering or unmarried man like Bill Gothard has written.   She must lay down her life for her husband... whether or not he lays down his life for her.  2) To implement the above:  Ask your wife what her love language is, then give her time to recover from the shock that you asked!  3) Wait and listen as she fumbles around for her answer.  This may take a couple of weeks or months because she has to make sure you really want to know.  4)  Now you have a decision to make:  Are you willing to nail your male pride to the Cross, admit that you do not know how to agape her by submitting to let her teach you? Uhhh, read Ephesians 5:21 before you read verse 22.  Go on.  Read it!   Ephesians 5:25 applies to you as well as to the people you lead."

...and now for other people who read this blog that are not in full-time ministry.  If you are Christians, you are in "full-time ministry".  Don't think for a minute that these words do not apply to you!  

Well, that's about it for this week. I've shot my wad. It has cost me emotionally. I think I will go back to bed.

                                 OLD HYMN: YIELD NOT TO TEMPTATION

Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin
Each victory will help you some other to win.
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue
Look ever to Jesus; He'll carry you through. 

To Him that o'ercometh, God giveth a crown
Through faith we will conquer, though often cast down.
He who is our Saviour, our strength will renew.

Look ever to Jesus; He'll carry you through. 

Ask the Saviour to help you, comfort, strengthen and keep you.
He is willing to aid you;  He will carry you through. 

Love,  Jo