Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sounds of Music

One summer day Ted and I visited Constitution Hall on Bourbon Street in the City of New Orleans. The sound of Dixieland music drew us into the crowded building. Seated on a piano stool was an elderly woman, pounding on an old upright. Some of the keys were missing and so were some of her teeth, but could that woman ever play those Dixie melodies! Oh yeah!

Some years ago, down the hill and around a curve lived Phil. Phil owned a goat. In order to track his pet he hung a bell around its neck. Each morning we were awakened by the sound of that jingling bell. One morning a deep male voice floated up the mountain. It was Phil's daddy, here for a visit from New Orleans. He was singing negro spirituals, accompanied by a happy-sounding bell hung around the neck of a frisky goat. Can you imagine it?

In Oberammagau, Germany we listened in awe as the townspeople presented "The Passion Play" that has been performed at intervals since 1634. In Switzerland we awoke before dawn to the sound of jangling cowbells, hanging from the necks of Swiss Browns as the milk maids herded them into the barn. We rode a gondola to the top of a mountain where yodelers echoed their messages across the snow-covered peaks.  At a restaurant high in Austria's Tyrolean Alps we sang "Edelweiss" with other diners. In villages and towns chimes rang out from bell towers. Majestic-sounding clocks announced the time on the hour. The varied sounds of music in the mountains delighted us.

.Journeying on to Rome we sat at night in the market square beside bubbling, singing fountains. We flew to Athens and Corinth,  then boarded a ship to Ephesus and Patmos. Muscled men entertained  us as they vigorously danced to Greek Island rhythms.

In Jerusalem, on a Sunday night in a tiny little Arab church I played an old upright piano as we sang "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that Day."  My soul was blessed when I least expected it.

Upon landing in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa, to our surprise Christian music was played over
loud speakers. In the nearby mall Christian music played. Does that mean that Africa is Christianized?  By no means, but there was a hunger to learn scripture as my Ted taught at Phil's training school, such as we had not experienced here in America since the Jesus Movement in the late 60's and 70's. Our souls were heartened and we could come back to our pastorate with anticipation.

Deeply embedded in the African soul are rhythms and harmonies. At Stephen's church where Ted preached, a large circle formed outside, walking and slowly singing in harmony. We visited an orphanage. On the property stood a church where children gathered to sing Gospel music in harmony.  I attended a Catholic mass in Nairobi. Hundreds of people sang in parts, accompanied only by drums. We flew south to the Mara Safari. After dinner Masai Tribal Jumpers, hair and bodies covered with red clay sang and danced to their rhythmic chants.  By invitation, Ted taught a Bible study to the camp's employees where we sang, accompanied by a soft guitar.  In the group were newly born-again Masai Jumpers. Our souls were encouraged.

Before the break of day on teaching ministry trips, in two Muslim countries the blasting call to prayer jarred us awake. Our souls were unsettled and troubled.

On the day South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnam Communists we were standing in a circle in Dalat, singing, joyously with the Chief  and his two sons of the born-from-above Su Tong tribe.  Police came to the door, telling us that we must leave or we would be unable to escape. We hailed a taxi amd raced down from the Highlands to the Saigon airport where Catholic nuns handed each of us an orphaned, crying baby to bring back to America for adoption. Beneath our ascending plane were fleeing boat people. We didn't feel like singing for a very long time. .

What did Jesus tell the broken woman who asked Him for a drink of water at a well in far-away Samaria?  "My well will cleanse you with clear, spring water that will never stop flowing."  His powerful promise soothed her hopeless soul.

        FILL MY CUP,  LORD

Like the woman at the well I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy.
And then I heard my Savior speaking:
"Draw from my well that never will run dry". 

There are millions in this world who are seeking
For pleasures earthly goods afford.
But none can match the wondrous treasures
That I find in Jesus Christ, my Lord. 

So, my brother, if the things that this world gives you
Leave hunger that does not pass away
My blessed Lord will come and save you
If you kneel to Him and humbly pray.


Love, Jo

Friday, July 21, 2017


Last Friday night I led a Singalong from my keyboard under the cabana at our golf shop. New next-door neighbors drove my truck down the mountain and unloaded the paraphernalia it takes to offer an outdoor singing party. Two elderly ladies soon came, sat down at a table, hauled out their Yahtzee and threw the dice. Game on!  One said, "You don't have to introduce yourself.  I find you wherever you're playing. Just don't ask me to sing."  In a few minutes an elderly gentleman joined them. I asked him his name. "Snelling"."Oh, my goodness, are you Lauraine's husband?"  "I am". Lauraine Snelling is a well-known Christian author who lives down the mountain about ten miles from here. She was off somewhere in America doing what book writers do. Wayne wanted me to play anything Hoagie Carmichael ever wrote. "Stardust" popped up in my memory.  About that time bass singer Dave came ambling in.  I handed him the microphone and "Ol' Man River",  "Fiddler on the Roof", "The Impossible Dream", "Sixteen Tons", "It's Impossible" and  "I Left my Heart in San Francisco" rolled out of him. Nostalgia set in. The diners/listeners leafed through my Singalong book and requested their own favorites. At dusk some folk drifted on home as others of us gathered to talk and get acquainted.  Over the mountain to the west the setting sun announced the end of a lovely evening. My neighbors brought me home, unloaded my electronic stuff,  then walked down the road and around a curve to their house.

On the following Sunday afternoon I entertained from the grandest of Grands at Triassic Winery. Two couples from the Czech Republic wandered in and sat down at a table to taste wines. They could not communicate in English, but sat for three hours listening to the music. I wonder how they will spin that experience back in their home country.  A young Christian couple with two little ones came. The five-year-old sparked to "Do Re Me" from "Sound of Music".  From farther up the mountain came a couple who asked for favorites. The Catholic Chaplain from a nearby prison wanted anything Sinatra ever sang, so  I played "Fly me to the Moon", "Unforgettable", "A Foggy Day" and "Come Fly With Me". Three Filipinos, ...two men and a woman came through the door as I was playing a Gospel song from the 70's: "He Touched Me". The woman came immediately to the piano and said, "This is a miracle! We were just singing that song!" She sat down beside me, we harmonized then morphed into "How Great Thou Art". Two women who had never met before hugged each other as though we had been friends for years. Later in the week this engaging woman, Naomi brought five other Filipinos to my home for a warm time of fellowship.

Connections. ... with music. How I love them. We'll do a lot of that in Heaven, don't you think?

                WHEN WE ALL GET TO HEAVEN
         Written from a bed of pain in 1898 by Eliza Hewitt

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus;
Sing His mercy and His grace. 
In the mansion bright and blessed,
He's prepared for us a place!  CHORUS

While we walk this pilgrim pathway
Clouds will overspread the sky.
But when travelling days are over
Not a shadow, or a sigh!  CHORUS

Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving every day.
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.  CHORUS

Onward to the prize before us;
Soon His beauty we'll behold.
Soon the pearly gates will open,
We shall tread the streets of gold!  


Love,  Jo

Friday, July 14, 2017


A wealthy Greek couple who had come to Christ called us to their home. "We want you to take some weeks away from the pastorate. We have two requests: 1) Go to Greece and share the Gospel with our relatives.  2) Go to Israel.  Fly anywhere else in the world where you can get some rest. Now, go!"

We went!  From Switzerland and Austria we flew to Rome, then to Corinth, Athens, Ephesus, the Island of  Patmos and on to Egypt. The Six Day War had ended. There were few tourists. We ventured out into swarms of human beings. Burka-clad mothers broke through the crowd to put their little ones directly in our path, with palms up, outstretched for money. We managed to elbow our way onto a bus crowded beyond capacity, with people hanging on the outside and riding on the roof. When we reached the Museum to view King Tut's sarcophagus we found it covered with layers of dust. We proceeded on to a Muslim mosque and were required to remove our shoes and put our feet into filthy slippers. We braved another bus back to the hotel where I sank into a "Where are You, God?"  funk. Ted proceeded on to the zoo, returning shortly to report that the animals were cleaner than the people. The next day we found our way to the train station, hoping to be transported to the Valley of the Kings. The train stood on the tracks with no indication it intended to go anywhere. Disappointed, we caught a cab to the Pyramids and Sphinx. I rode a camel. Ted watched. Hot and dirty, we returned to the hotel and called the airport for a flight to Israel. Uhh,  We would have to enter Israel by way of a neutral island. The next day we were put on a single engine plane that delivered us to Cyprus where we made our way down rickety stairs, at the bottom of which was a flat vat of disinfectant. We waded through,  caught a cab to a hotel, showered and slept. The next day I went swimming in the Mediterranean while Ted explored Nicosia. The following day we flew to Tel Aviv, Israel, and that's a story for another time.

The Bible shapes the world. Where there is not such a foundation there will be no freedom of religion, no honoring of women, no cleanliness, no preservation of human life, health and dignity, and no gainful employment for the multitudes. Muslims worship a god of FEAR, as do all other religions.  A civilization will not be "civil" unless its foundation is laid upon the Word of God that extends to us the LOVE of God. Our America was founded upon that foundation. You and I inherited a treasure. exquisite treasure that we have shared with the world. We are the ones who give money and blood that other nations might survive. We are the ones who send missionaries to every tribe and nation to take the message of the LOVE of God Who continues to give us grace because of the determination of a handful of Christians who fled the tyranny of a government that would not allow them to freely worship the One Who gave His life that we might have life. ....everlasting life!

All of us with half a brain know that our country's moral compass has shifted.  The lives of the millenials He sends me to disciple resemble a back-lashed fishing line that would be easier to snip than unsnarl.

Father, dear Heavenly Father, as prophecy unfolds, keep older Christians focused on encouraging action and peace that is found only in Christ to the next generations.

               HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you, who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by my gracious, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow.
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not harm thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose;
I will not, I will not desert to his foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!

Love,  Jo

Friday, July 7, 2017


Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose Driven Life" sold a bazillion copies everywhere there was a book stand. Everybody seems to need a purpose.  I still do, at 88, but am not as "driven" as heretofore. The Lord sends me just enough millenials to guide into scripture and encourage in their faith.

There's not a white chalk mark around my body and I still have a pulse, so there's still time for me to learn to leave alone what I cannot figure out about God. He asks that I trust Him. The evidence is clear: He is trustworthy! Another proven characteristic about God is promised in Romans 2: His kindness (goodness) brings us to repentance when the world, the flesh and the devil wage war against us and our faith momentarily falters.

Do I understand everything about God? Of course not. Ecclesiastes says it well: "I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time; He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no man can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

Ira Sankey, the "sweet singing Methodist "of the late 1800's wrote this poignant hymn

Encamped along the hills at night, ye Christian soldiers, rise. 
And press the battle, ere the night shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below, let all our strength be hurled
Faith is the victory, we know that overcomes the world. 

Faith is the victory; faith is the victory.
Oh, glorious victory that overcomes the world. 

Love, Jo