Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pray without ceasing

I can't believe you're still reading this homespun blog. I can't believe I'm still writing it. Each week I listen to and read the teachings of wise patriots, theologians, apologists, defenders of our faith and scientists; yet when I sit down to write this blog it all flies out the window and I just want to gather with all of you, fall on our faces before God and pray without ceasing for our country. What has happened to us? How has the evil one wormed his way into the very core of our government and into every facet of our society? In my little world, I continue to fight for marriages. Divorces abound. "Blended families" don't blend. Second and third marriages struggle to navigate through layers of relationships. The family that was in my lifetime the strength of our country is being laughed off the stage. It isn't that the family has not always been under attack. ...ever since the Garden of Eden. ...but this is America. ...a nation established upon biblical principles.

I was thinking yesterday about Solomon's many wives. Did they pick a number? As a wife of sixty years I  know well how much I needed to be the most important person on earth to my husband.  For a man purported to be wise, Solomon wasn't. He bemoaned the effects of his indulgences throughout one of the Books he wrote.  His daddy wasn't much of a role model; yet the Lord called David his "friend". many puzzles that will have answers in Heaven. ...and then there is Paul to wonder about. He writes about marriage.  He had to have been married in order to be a high mucky muck in the Sanhedrin. In his pre-Jesus days as a cut-throat murderer did he kill his own wife too?  Did she divorce him?  Did she simply die from emotional brutality? Male-like, he sums it up: "I was the chief of sinners". ...which brings me to another musing. Paul was no light-weight discipler. He hadn't written his part of the Bible yet (which was a chunk!) so he had to have repeatedly shared his own unfolding story of God's grace. Adults who come to Christ usually come because of pain from some level of rejection that ranges from mild to shattering.  Unanswered questions press on their minds, such as:  "Where was this 'loving Jesus' when my soul was being raped?"

A person's worth is measured by the love and sacrifice of another person. If no human has ever loved another human enough to sacrifice for them God's love for them is in question. ...and this is where we in the Body come in. "...and this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ lay down His life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." I John 3:16.

                           LOVE THAT WILL NOT LET ME GO

O love that will not let me go; I rest my weary soul in thee.
I give thee back the life I owe, that in its ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O joy that seekest me through pain. I cannot close my heart to thee
I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead
And from the ground there blossoms red; life that shall endless be.

Love, Jo

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Belly

I think it is the Jew's "Torah" that declares: "Thank God I am not a woman!"  Here is my spin, a Gentile woman with an impressive (or DEpressing) amount of mileage on my odometer: "Thank God I am not a man!" Right out of the chute, Eve, who walked and talked every evening in Paradise with the same Father as did Adam used her God-given influence to seduce her husband to eat the one fruit that God forbade them to eat. She hated him for listening to her,  and that disgust of wives for their weak husbands trickles on down to today.

It takes a  strong man (not a bully) to be the head of a home: the common denominator of the Church. ... the picture God intended to image Christ as our Bridegroom, and us,  His bride. At seventeen, I thought my boyfriend Ted was strong because his muscles bulged as he let fly a baseball from the pitcher's mound that landed right where he aimed it.  He was shy. I did not know, nor did he,  that his shyness was a result of physical beatings from the time he was a two-year-old little boy. We were in our 50's before Ted revealed that awful secret to himself, and to me. "The eyes of our hearts were enlightened". I appeared to be confident. I wasn't. Not having had a father who protected me I had learned to protect myself.  Inside was a little girl, begging for a strong man to make me feel safe. I entered my marriage needing that protection, but neither Ted nor I knew it. Like the iceberg that sank the Titanic, ninety per cent of our real selves was hidden beneath the waterline. After some years the Lord mercifully took us out of church pastorates into less demanding ministries,  in order to give our whole souls opportunity to know ourselves and to really know each other.

Upon our conversion, we had entered immediately into training for ministry.  We were prematurely thrust into leadership. Through years of Christian college and seminary there was not one reference made to the soul. It was as if we were only a brain that needed to be filled with facts about God and His Word, but the other parts of our souls, ...  our wills, emotions, and that mysterious DNA that was imprinted with everything that had happened to us would simply evaporate. Scripture seems to indicate that but the evil one twists scripture. He did that with Jesus when he tempted him, didn't he? There is no relationship like marriage to expose the truth.  Oh, how I wish older Christians had lovingly pressed into our whole souls.  Later, along the road of our Pilgrim's Progress, Ted sometimes said two things: 1) "I had no idea how many people Jo and I took to bed with us on our wedding night!" 2) "The mind cannot believe what the damaged emotions cannot receive."

I picture our souls as a tightly interwoven ball of lies and truth that hide in our bellies. In many languages the soul is actually called "The Belly".  As God's Truth attempts to penetrate that "belly ball" it may take a holy toilet-plunger to suck out the filthy, embedded lies that hide in the soul. ...sometimes for a lifetime. Lies are heavy, hindering the freedom from bondage that Christ bought for us with every drop of His blood.  I firmly believe that discipleship needs to include allowing the whole soul to freely speak. Disciplers can talk too much. The Body of Christ needs to help each other be healed. You don't need a manual or a degree in psychology. We must earn the right to listen with God's ears and love with God's heart.  When He leads, bring scripture and prayer to the forefront. Sometimes the evil one needs to be reminded that he was conquered by the blood of Christ and His finished work on the Cross.  Firmly tell the enemy to leave and never come back. You need not fear him for he is a defeated foe. Love confronts! "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith..."  Peter is addressing Christians.  The Word of God is powerful. ...more powerful than satan.  God will give you courage to venture below the water line with your friend. ...and never forget: THERE'S POWER, POWER, WONDER WORKING POWER IN THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF THE LAMB.

Tune in next week. Meanwhile,  I can't resist quoting one more Ted'ism: "Satan isn't a pimple   squeezer. He goes for the JUGULAR!"

                          THE BODY
We are One in the Spirit; we are One in the Lord.
We are One in the Spirit; we are One in the Lord.
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.

We will walk with each other; we will walk hand in hand.
We will walk with each other; we will walk hand in hand.
And together we'll spread the News
That God is in our land.


Love,  Jo

Friday, February 12, 2016

No short-cut

My dears,

Psalm 147:8 states: 
147:11 states: 

The Holy Spirit brings me again and again to Hebrews 11 where He lists a few of those family members we will meet in Heaven. There was no short cut for any of them (us)  All learned to trust Him by being humbled first so that He could lift them up. If we do not humble ourselves, He presses us to do so...gently perhaps and then not so gently if we harden our hearts in pride, refusing to accept the truth that our yoke is only made easy when we come to him in complete dependency.  All who are listed and the millions who are not named looked ahead to the City where one day we will all dwell and reign (Can you believe?) with Him. ...completely free of our flesh in which dwells no good thing, the world and its ways which are never God's ways, and the evil one who relentlessly bombards our minds with lies. I cannot even imagine what it will be like to be free of these enemies. The evil one hasn't given up even yet but has ramped up his attempt to dishearten me so I will not continue to be a conveyor belt of the Way, the Truth and the Life that can be found only in our Lord Jesus Christ. I am well aware that I (we) are being trained for God- activity in the new Heaven and the New Earth. Now, that thought adds a whole new dimension to what our current afflictions are about, doesn't it?

The first three chapters of Ephesians assure us of who we are in Christ; the next three tell us to behave like who we are!  The minute Christ came in the bar was raised for righteous living. ...a calling far higher than becoming president of a nation. ...the highest calling on earth. We are the only Light. There is no other. "...for it if Christ IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY."

Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord
(Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord)
Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord
(Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord)
And He will lift you up
(And He will lift you up, higher and higher)
And He will lift you up. 

Love, Jo

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Righteous Anger

I haven't been so angry in years as I was lately. This week I have wept, spent hours in prayer and scripture.  This passage has helped me: " ...and Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to others, 'It is written: My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a robber's den.' "  WE are His temple.

I am so weary of the excuses Christians use for sinning against their body/temple that belongs to Jesus. Recently one told me: "I was sick of being told what to do." That statement blew the lid off of a jar full of smoldering anger about what unbiblical sex is doing to His Name, the church; families; the world and to this nation. A church that I dearly love is still reeling from the front page news that their long-time pastor has been a pornographer for years. His wife has divorced him and his family is shattered. I could write of similar story after story.  Sex. The beautiful sexual union of a married man and woman was instituted by our Creator to image Christ and His bride. That would be us; therefore there are always consequences when there is sex outside of man/woman marriage. Years of being a counsellor underscore the scripture that men and women sin against God and their own bodies when they engage in sex any other way. I grieve over the consequences suffered by those who come to me for help in re-starting their lives after having premarital sex, sex with multiple partners, multiple marriages and divorces, abortions, pornography, homosexuality, children born out of wedlock, and all sexual activity other than what God intended to be pure and life-giving rather than life-stealing.

A long time ministry partner/friend of mine in Texas, after reading last week's blog called me and said, "Jo, you are tired of baby sitting!"  She nailed it!  My dear Texas male board member was a very successful business man who took his hard-earned money and built a Christian retreat that hosts 6,000 every year! He immediately Emailed this response to last week's blog: "Great teaching today as always. Strong in truth and love and we are more than proud of you. Your insights concerrning the compromise of the church are the reason I am writing this note. Ted always pushed the agenda of the churches making disciples. The church, in general, has failed to do this and this failure has caught up with our degrading society. Because we did not make disciples, God's precepts have not followed men and women into society and the various institutions that shape our country. Jesus knew that making disciples would insure us a reasonable stable society down through the ages. This omission is very clear now. Ted knew what he was doing. Every time Ted would try to implement this command you two suffered many indignities. Heroes in the faith to us."

The four couples who make up my Family Life Resource Board not only pray for and support me, but they give me wise advise when I call them. One couple lives in Orlando, Florida, another in Round Top, Texas, another in Sacramento, California and one couple lives here in Tehachapi.  These are long-time trusted friends who all have proven ministries of their own.  I have a network of pray-ers. After Ted's and son Doug's home going within the same year, diverticulitis and shingles set in. There were other family losses and then I broke my hip.  It was a dark time. I would have curled up in a fetal position and willed to die had these warriors not been my encouragers to bury myself in God's Word and keep on making disciples for Christ. I still am ....making disciples. There is no other reason for me to still be here.

If you were writing this, what hymn would you choose now?  I always return to the old ones. How 'bout "Blessed Assurance?"

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine.
Heir of salvation; purchase of God
Born of His Spirit; washed in His blood.

Perfect submission; perfect delight!
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight.
Angels descending, bring from above
Riches of mercy, whispers of love.  

Perfect submission; all is at rest.
I in my Savior am happy and blest.
Watching and waiting; looking above
Filled with His goodness; lost in His love


Love,  Jo

Monday, February 1, 2016


I am abysmally grieved over the fact that the world has infiltrated and influenced the Church more than the Church has infiltrated and influenced the world. I do not know how full our Lord's cup of iniquity is.  I firmly believe in His unconditional love. I firmly believe that we have been imputed with God's righteousness and that we stand before Him, blameless in His sight because of the shed blood of Christ and His finished work in our behalf on the Cross.

There is a disconnect here somewhere or there would not be so much compromise of absolutes among evangelicals. As the lines between right and wrong become increasingly smudged, the work of discipleship has become far more difficult than it was a generation ago. We will be called "legalistic",  "self-righteous", "judgmental", "intolerant", "grace-less",  and other soul-wrenching even the Christians if we live in obedience to such scriptures as:

"I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people. I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves."   I Corinthians 5:9-13. Whew! God said it. I didn't.

There is always a consequence to be paid for any sin we Christians willfully commit. The whole Body of Christ suffers and the worst consequence is that our precious Lord's Name is discredited. The world watches us, as it should. Our Lord is judging our nation. Think about it: When we who are born from above compromise with the world and it's sinful ways,  do we think for a minute that our Lord looks the other way? He is kind, but He is not soft. It is His Name at stake. ...and His Name is being mocked in this country that was founded on Biblical principles. In the future we may not be allowed to even speak His Name or gather in His Name without severe punishment or even death.

The "Woman at the Well" was offered a "spring of living water that would never run dry." She was so excited that she ran into the town to tell everybody about Jesus. This woman was God's Plan of Evangelism for Samaria, but don't suppose for a minute that the townspeople were quick to believe that she could be trusted. I look forward to meeting David so much. ...but did people forget that he bedded down another man's wife and murdered her husband to cover up his sin? Did he ever gain the credibility and respect he had had before. No, he didn't.

Paul's conversion was spectacular. ...but did people forget that Paul had been the "hatchet man" for the Sanhedrin?  Of course not. For this reason he always gave his credentials at the beginning of the Books he penned  (except for Hebrews and we don't know who wrote that.):  "I, Paul, an Apostle BY THE WILL OF GOD."  NObody trusted him. ... not the Jews, not the Gentiles, not the Apostles. Dear Barnabas came alongside him and whisked him back to his home town to "cool his heels" awhile. Paul had to earn the trust of people. Was that his "thorn in the flesh"? We are not told, but possibly it was.

Every one of us who are God's children wrestle with the "biggie" of forgiveness. ...especially now that compromise with the world has smudged the lines of absolutes. All of us are stretched to the max as our families and churches are affected by the "new morality"....which isn't "new" at all as we study history and the demise of every empire before us. The process of forgiveness for the behaviours we have to forgive cannot be hurried.  Please don't lay on anyone your time table for forgiveness. Encourage your Christian brothers and sisters, pray for them, but leave the timing for forgiveness to their Lord. Wounds run very deep, Only our Lord and His Word can go that deep into our souls and heal them.


Search me, O God, and know my heart today.
Try me O Saviour,  know my thoughts,  I pray
See if there be some wicked way in me.
Cleanse me from every sin  and set me free.

Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine.
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine.
Take all my will, my passion, self and pride.
I now surrender, Lord, in me abide.

Love,  Jo