Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Are you haunted by your past?

Inspiration for today from the Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (NKJV) http://www.nelsonbibles.com/bible.php?id=15:



Are you haunted by your past? Are you less accepting of other believers because of their pasts? Take a page from the apostle Paul. God can soften even the hardest heart. Continue to walk forward with Him, one step at a time.


Scriptures for Exploration


Witnessing—Acts 1:8, 21, 22; 1 Corinthians 1:18–31.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Busyness and time pressures are dramatically shaping our culture.

In today’s society, busyness and time pressures are dramatically shaping our culture. It can be difficult enough to get together for a family meal, let alone a daily Bible study.

Not only does our on-the-go mentality affect our family units, our academic and relational skills are hindered as well when we neglect positive influences in our lives such as the Bible. “Christian Book of the Year” award winner The Word of Promise™ New Testament Audio Bible and its companion DVD Study, 40 Days with The Word of Promise™, offer a way for people to experience the history and promises found in the entire New Testament in a mere 40 days.

Whether in the car, exercising, milling around the house, or relaxing, The Word of Promise™ New Testament Audio Bible is the perfect way to inspire listeners, encourage education, and strengthen family bonds in today’s fast-paced culture. Click here to experience clips: http://thewordofpromise.thomasnelson.com/cast/.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Will You Give Christ this Christmas?

Dear Friends,

It’s hard when you can’t get home to be with family for Christmas.

Jesus’ birthday was coming up. Christmas was just around the corner. “What should I give Him?” I wondered. I thought about flowers and suddenly that triggered a vivid memory of a meeting in Singapore, where a veteran missionary had shared an experience on the mission field. It was to do with trying to get home, not for Christmas, but for his mother’s 90th birthday. Because of a crisis, and the primitive circumstances in which he worked (he had a leadership role in the mission) it was impossible to get away. It broke his heart.

“That must have hurt,” I pondered as I listened to him. How difficult both for him and his mother. It hurts so badly when those we love can’t get home for the holidays. Well, I thought, at least Jesus will be home for Christmas this year! He wasn’t always able to make it. For 33 years it was impossible. He had a leadership role in a mission!

The missionary told us how he had the idea of sending his mother ten roses each hour of her birthday till she had received all 90. A “thank you” note was tied to each rose, and a card sent with the first batch of ten. It said: “How do I love you, let me count the ways.” Then he thought of 90 ways he loved his mother and attached a different thank you to every rose!

“I’ll do that, “I decided. So I bought a big bunch of roses, went to the Deep Place where nobody goes and sat down on the steps. If I stayed still enough I could hear angels singing carols – practicing. Pretty.

“Hello,”

I jumped. “Oh! Hello, I thought I’d get ahead of the rush.”

He looked at the roses in my hands and I resisted the urge to give Him the whole bunch at once and return to the mall to continue my shopping.

I began taking the roses one by one and, carefully attaching a message to each, I said loudly, so He could hear me: “How do I love Thee, let me count the ways,” and then I began to count them. I wanted above all to thank Him for being willing “not” to get home for Christmas for 33 years.

He sat there – relaxed and He looked serious and focused. He accepted each offering into His hands – I tried not to look at the scars. (I hate that.)

“I love you for sitting on the steps with me in the Deep Place where nobody goes,” I began, handing Him a flower. “And I love it that you always follow me up the steps and remind me you are there in the shallow places where everyone lives – even though I forget you’re there in all the commotion.

“And I love you for coming to earth and walking straight into my heart – and making this woman yours forever. And oh how I love you for becoming poor so I could become rich beyond measure. Yes, yes, Lord, that I through your poverty could become rich! I love you, I love you, I love you!”

Rose by rose I thanked Him, telling Him all the ways I loved Him, and then the bunch of flowers was in His hands and mine were empty. I cried – happy grateful tears, and watched in amazement as each tear became a rose petal strewn at His feet.

He bent down, holding my roses carefully, gathering my flowers of love and thankfulness into His scarred hands, saying quietly, “Not one of these shall fall to the ground.” Then He looked at me with eyes so full of love I thought I would die. Then He was gone.

I heard the church bells ringing then, and knew I had to return to the shallow places where everyone lives. I did so reluctantly, knowing the party was about to begin. Christmas was coming!

This Christmas season why don’t you think about what bouquet of roses you can bring to your Savior?!

In His Joy,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Many people are seeking hope.

In today’s society many people are seeking hope. Academy Awards® winners Jon Voight, Richard Dreyfuss, Marcia Gay Harden, Lou Gossett, Jr., and hundreds of other actors have joined together to create The Word of Promise® Audio Bible, a dramatic audio theater production that offers hope and inspiration to listeners. After three years of production, the 90+ hour project helps to connect listeners to the Word in a new and exciting way. Click here to listen to sample clips from this award-winning cast http://thewordofpromise.thomasnelson.com/cast/.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Think about your relationship with Christ.

Inspiration for today from the Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (NKJV) http://www.nelsonbibles.com/bible.php?id=15:

You’ve probably met people who attend church regularly but are unmoved by the preaching of God’s Word. Their attendance seems more of a social obligation than a means for sharing and being enriched with God’s Word. Is that how life is for you or your family? Think about your relationship with Christ. Does it have a true and real meaning? Make your goal next Sunday to worship God through active participation and listening.

Scriptures for Exploration

Acceptance—Judges 11:3; Luke 4:24; 9:1–6.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Handling Grief at Christmas

by Lynda Elliott

My personal grief

My father died at noon on a Christmas day when I was 20 years old, so I can understand why people grieve during the holiday season. Although my father had been ill for several years, I felt the bizarre combination of shock, loss, and relief. I even felt joy because he was finally out of pain and with Jesus. During the next few months, those emotions constantly bounced around inside of me until I felt like my mind was playing the old children’s game of Fruit Basket Turn Over. One day, I was able to feel joyful, the next, I grieved, the next I felt totally lost.

Late on that Christmas afternoon, my husband and I returned to our apartment. When I opened the door I heard joyful voices singing, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas!” In our haste, we had left the Christmas music playing. The colorful lights on our tree were cheerfully twinkling, seeming to mock my father’s death. “How could anybody die on Christmas day?” I asked myself. Everything felt surreal. I felt a little crazy, but later I learned that my feelings were the normal responses to shock and grief.

Until my father died, I had not experienced the death of anyone close to me. I had no idea how to bear grief. I was expecting another baby to be born in a month, so I decided to ignore my grief and pretend that my father was still alive until our son was born. That sounds a little crazy, but I know now that it was the only way I could temporarily cope. However, when our son was born, I had to finally face the loss of my father and learn how to bear grief.

Your grief

I know that many people are experiencing loss at this time of year, especially. For example, you may have been divorced since the last Christmas or one of your sons or daughters may be at war or a friendship may have been broken over the last year. Perhaps it’s health problems that have robbed you of many activities that were common to your life before this year or someone you love may have died.

Grief is an experience that is common to everyone. Nobody who has ever lived on this earth has been able to avoid it, but it often comes to us when we least expect it. We can easily be overwhelmed and stuck in grief for years, if we do not have some understanding of it.

Getting Through Grief

Since my father died, I have learned three things that have helped me deal with grief.

1. Grief usually comes in waves, which lasts about 20 to 30 minutes.

The body cannot sustain such strong grieving for much longer than that. After my father died, I had been afraid that such strong grief would just consume me. I feared that my grief would drag me down into a dark hole and I would never be able to come out again.

When I found out that the waves had a limit, I felt safe to let go, to cry, or talk or write my feelings down. In the months that followed, the grief waves also came less and less. I learned that the Holy Spirit is the God of all comfort (2 Cor.1:1-3) and I learned to ask Him to enter those grief waves with me. He did and He brought comfort. The grief hurt, but I wasn’t nearly as afraid.

2. Emotions don’t know time and space.

Memories are stimulated through the senses. For example, you may hear a familiar song that takes you emotionally back to a very sad place. The smell of potpourri may cause you to think of familiar previous family rituals that can no longer occur. The sight of a Christmas ornament can remind you of people who are no longer alive.

A few years after my father died, an uncle came to visit us. As I hugged him, I smelled Old Spice cologne, which had been my father’s favorite. Suddenly, I felt like a helpless 20-year-old whose heart had just been broken. I didn’t know how to come forward emotionally and I got stuck in a miserable emotional state that Christmas.

Now I remind myself to pay attention to my senses before each holiday season begins. I begin to say to myself, “That was then and this is now.” I learned to pause between the stimuli and my response. I began to practice enjoying what I have “now,” rather than automatically letting myself move emotionally backward in my mind. I have learned to celebrate the season for what it is “right now” in my life, remembering the birth of Jesus, counting the ways His birth has brought blessings and joy into my life.

This was a discipline that I had to practice and, year by year, this process has helped me live in the present.

3. Confine and assign time to your feelings

We don’t need to ignore our feelings altogether, but it’s helpful to deliberately make a time and place for them.

I began to set aside a period of time to think about my father. Sometimes I wrote about him in a journal. Other times I talked about him to my children, sometimes I lit a Christmas candle and gave thanks for him. I also looked through a scrapbook of my childhood. However, I placed a time limit on my grief and nostalgia.

I had to exercise my will to do this, making a decision to invest most of my energy into the family members who were still with me, serving friends and strangers who had needs. I invested my energy more and more into serving than grieving, and creating new memories, rather than looking back.

Years from now, you may find yourself writing or telling your grief story. Your pain will be less, because you will have experienced the Lord’s comfort. You will have also practiced the process of grieving. You will know that every day is a new day. Every day will train you to help others in grief, just as our Lord promised.

There’s no doubt that the holidays can be a sad time for those of us who are experiencing loss. But with God’s strength and grace, He can help us make it through the sadness finding peace and healing that is found in Him –The Prince of Peace. Jesus continues to seek and find us at Christmas, bringing hope to our hurting hearts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.

Dear Friends,

Here in Egypt there are many graves to see. You can, of course, start with the pyramids, the tombs of the Pharaohs. The world wonders at these wonders – these monuments to lives so shortly lived, whose magnificent artifacts are displayed in the nations’ museums. Many precious objects were sealed in the tombs of these kings to accompany the monarch on his journey to the afterlife. Thousands of years later they are still here! They went nowhere. Sadly, the same is true of the Pharaohs. Furthermore, their deaths also meant death for many people who, along with the precious objects, were also sealed in the Pyramids to accompany the kings. Most of these famous Pharaohs died in their teenage or early adulthood and in their deaths, the Pharaohs took life.

But, the pyramids are not the tombs I want to talk about. Today we were pilgrims to two other tombs. While here in Cairo, Egypt, my husband Stuart and I visited the graves of Oswald Chambers (1874 – 1917) and Bill Borden (1887 – 1913). You can “Google” both names and read more, but in summary they were two brilliant young men, one from the U.K. and one from America, who had one thing in common. They both lived short lives, but unlike the Pharaohs, they left life with no reserves, no retreats, and no regrets. To their graves they took not objects of pottery or precious stones, or the corpses of slaves or wives, but glory and heavenly treasure – the precious souls of men. In their deaths, they gave life.

Both these young men were privileged to benefit from the top scholastic training of their nations. Both came to Christ in their youth. Chambers struggled with boredom reading the Bible even after his conversion. Finally, after four years of “spiritual dryness,” Chambers realized he couldn’t force himself to be holy. He came to see that the strength, peace, and transformation that he was looking for was Christ Himself. The secret was in the “exchanged life” – Christ’s life in exchange for his sin. He experienced a revival of grace in his heart and described it as “radiant, unspeakable emancipation.” (1)

Then came the First World War. Chambers became a chaplain for the YMCA and was assigned to Zeitoun, Egypt, where he ministered to Australian and New Zealand troops that were later part of the disastrous battle of Gallipoli. Many met Christ through Chambers.

On November 15, 1917, he suffered a ruptured appendix. In extreme pain, he refused a bed in the hospital that was overrun with wounded soldiers, allowing them to be treated first. It took him three days to die. Standing by his grave, I paid a spiritual tribute to this man whose life and writings have enriched my life and the lives of thousands.

I thought about his education in art, archeology, and English literature. Some would say, “What a waste of a life!” But there is nothing wasted in the economy of God. From this heritage of learning he became a wordsmith for God, making every day count. He died so young, but at exactly the right age. For God says that “our days are numbered.” If we will commit our lives to him, He will work through us to bring people to heaven and God’s Church will be revived. No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.

This first grave of Chambers was beautifully kept. Not so the second. A very different sight met our eyes as we went in. A sister from the convent next door had a key and let us into the cemetery. Here the graves had been forgotten. This was not a war cemetery as the other, but a small rectangle with very old graves of American citizens. In a corner, under debris and weeds, we found the flat gravestone of Bill Borden.

From a Chicago high school to Yale, Bill Borden (heir to the Borden Dairy estate) put his love for the Lord into a lifestyle that, as his diary recounted, summed up his life. That entry said simply, “Say ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to Jesus every time.” (2)

As a young man travelling the world, Borden knew God was calling him to serve hurting people. On hearing Borden’s missionary plans, one friend commented that he was surely throwing his life away. In response, Bill wrote two words in the back of his Bible: “No reserves.”

At Yale he began a prayer time that ended up affecting the entire campus. By the time Bill Borden was a senior, 1,000 of Yale’s 1,300 students were meeting in Bible study groups. He also founded Yale Hope Mission and ministered to drunks from the lower parts of the city streets.

Borden’s heart turned to China and the Muslin Kansu people. Upon graduation from Yale, Borden turned down some high-paying job offers and headed for Princeton seminary. In his Bible, he wrote two more words: “No retreats.” From here he sailed for China. Because he was hoping to work with Muslims, he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted spinal meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.

The story of his death was carried by nearly every American newspaper. “A wave of sorrow went round the world… Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice,” wrote Mary Taylor in her introduction to his biography.

Is there such a thing as an untimely death? Not in God’s economy. Not in God’s plan. Prior to his young death, Borden had written two more words in his Bible. Underneath the words “No reserves” and “No retreats,” he had written: “No regrets.”

So what impacted me as I stood in the heat of Cairo today and looked at that old, flat gravestone with those words engraved across its face? First, I realized how privileged I have been to live such a long life for God. Then, I was gripped with a necessary urgency. While I still have time, I want to reach the next generation with the challenge and message of these two lives. And thirdly, I want to pass on the words God has taught me about our interior life in Him. For words are weapons for good or ill, and in the hands of the Spirit, words can be honed and polished and winged to many a heart – as Chambers and Borden’s have done!

Oswald Chambers and Bill Borden had no way of knowing how long they had on this little spinning planet – nor do we. May each and every day be lived as our last for Him with no reserves, no retreats, no regrets.



Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Simply Relevant

The Simply Relevant series makes it easy to introduce others to Jesus--and strengthen lifelong relationships with him. Each session begins with a fun snack and time to mingle, and then women experience an activity that leads to an intriguing study.

Discover how relevant God's Word is to our lives today--no matter who you are or where you are in life. Simply Relevant is great for those who have never studied the Bible, and it’s packed with new insights for those who have studied for years.

Studies include all the Scripture you need for each session. There are six books in the series, with topics including finding joy in life’s ups and downs, grace, patience, spiritual refreshment, self-control, and steadiness in God.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Inspiration from Lucado Life Lessons

Inspiration for today from the Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (NKJV) http://www.nelsonbibles.com/bible.php?id=15:


Have you ever found refuge or support in an unexpected place? Have problems resolved themselves in ways you didn’t expect? Ask God today to make you the unexpected solution to someone else’s problem— God’s miracle channel.

Scriptures for Exploration

God’s Will—2 Chronicles 18:28–33; Esther 4:13, 14; Acts 16:6.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Are You a Faithful Giver?

Dear friends,

For they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood. ~ Mark 12:44


“Americans are so gullible,” a rescue mission supervisor told me. “Did you hear about the man who went out and raised two hundred dollars in half an hour from people on the street by telling them he was collecting for ‘The Unknown Soldier’s Widow’?” I confessed I hadn’t heard about it, but I wondered if it were true.

I thought about the money that I gave away to charity. Gullible giving is not God’s way. Guidelines have been given to us. Tithes first – 10 percent of all our income. This is His. We touch it not, lest we be guilty of thievery – robbing divinity is a heinous crime! Offerings next. “Nor will I not offer… to the Lord My God with that which costs me nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24), said David. What say you? Think of the widow. She only had two mites. She could have thought that two mites were too little to give. But Jesus didn’t think so. He knew that casting in all your livelihood makes you rich with much more valuable coinage than can come from any earthly mint.

Spastic generosity, triggered by nerves, touched off by impassioned please of poverty, or doled out to starving unfortunates pictured in scraggy photographs, is not the best help we can give. Careful accounting of our budget – as if we were handling someone else’s funds – is the way to go. After all, we are merely stewards, and as the Good Book reminds us, “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2).

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Moms in the Bible

Moms in the Bible
The Mother Who Fears the Lord;
Children Who Love God, Too


Are there those who respect the Lord? . . . They will enjoy a good life, and their children will inherit the land. (25:12–13) Some Sunday morning take a look at the parents at your church. How engaged are they in the service? Do they look like they’re enthralled with God’s holy presence? Then, the next time you’re at a big ball game, look around at the parents in the stands. How engaged are these people in what’s going on? Or what if a famous person happened to be seated in the stands? Wouldn’t there be a buzz? An electricity in the air?

Maybe the above comparisons aren’t fair, but the point is well taken. Our children are watching what we do. If our kids observe us excitedly talking about our favorite athletic team, or enthusiastic over a celebrity, they’ll begin to believe that sports or fame are worth serious attention. If we get fired up reading about the stock market over breakfast, they’ll get the idea that making money is a big deal. And if they see us sleepily checking our watches or mumbling our way through the hymns during a church service, they’ll decide that knowing God is about as exciting as waiting in a doctor’s office.

It’s likely that your children will be influenced by the passions you demonstrate in front of them. David asks, “Are there those who respect the Lord?” (25:12). Where are the parents who love being in God’s presence, who can’t wait to enjoy their heavenly Father’s nearness? When you find them, look at their kids. Chances are they’ll be easy to spot. They are the children who will inherit what’s truly important.

The excerpt above is found in the pages of the Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers, with General Editor, Bobbie Wolgemuth.

Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers gives women an awareness of just how precious and vital they are in God’s plan for the family.
Available in the New Century Version and drawing on solid Bible teaching, it encourages women at every stage of life to strengthen their relationship with God. A perfect gift for Christmas, birthdays, or whenever it’s time to say “thank you” to a special mom. To experience the Mom’s Bible for yourself and receive a free download visit www.momsbible.com.

Inspiration for today

Inspiration for today from the Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (NKJV) http://www.nelsonbibles.com/bible.php?id=15:

Is there anyone you are not willing to tell about Jesus? Is there any place you are not willing to take the Good News? Ask God to give you the willingness and the courage. Let him direct you where he wants, not where you want.

Scriptures for Exploration

Witnessing—Acts 13:46, 47; Romans 1:14–16; 10:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 15:1–4; Galatians 2:7–9; 2 Timothy 1:8; 1 Peter 1:23–25

Monday, December 6, 2010

Our God Is Better Than Anything Else

“One day in the courtyards of your Temple is better than a thousand days anywhere else.”
(84:10)


These psalmists knew that spending time in the presence of the Lord was time better spent than doing anything else. Do we also believe that? They knew that there was true value in being a faithful follower of the Lord, even if it meant just standing at the Temple door as a servant. Do we agree?

When we spend our time in church, worshiping God, talking to Him, praising Him, listening to Him, and serving Him, our days have eternal meaning and joy. The same happiness is available when little ones learn to worship (verses 3–4). Ask the Lord for a perspective like that of the sons of Korah. It’s what will really make you happy. “I want more than anything to be in the courtyards of the Lord’s Temple. My whole being wants to be with the living God” (Psalm 84:2).

The excerpt above is found in the pages of the Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers, with General Editor, Bobbie Wolgemuth.

Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers gives women an awareness of just how precious and vital they are in God’s plan for the family.

Available in the New Century Version and drawing on solid Bible teaching, it encourages women at every stage of life to strengthen their relationship with God. A perfect gift for Christmas, birthdays, or whenever it’s time to say “thank you” to a special mom. To experience the Mom’s Bible for yourself and receive a free download visit www.momsbible.com.

Hear The Bible Come Alive

Featuring a star-studded cast of over 600 actors, original music score, and incredible feature film quality sound effects. Experience the Scriptures like you’ve never experienced them before – brought to life and dramatized in a way that will fully immerse you in the experience and leave you wanting more.

Feel like you’re really there with Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Listen in your car, on your MP3 player, or with your family to gain a new perspective of the Bible. Click here to experience a clip from the Word of Promise Audio Bible http://thewordofpromise.thomasnelson.com/cast/.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

He Is Kind and Merciful

Insights

He Is Kind and Merciful

Psalm 103:1–5


Our children need to know of God’s mercy, kindness, and goodness. And they need to hear words from our lips, thanking the One who forgives our sins, heals us, saves us, blesses us, satisfies us, and renews us. In everyday conversations, we can respond to little kindnesses of the Lord with, “Isn’t God amazing?” or “Thank You, Lord!” as naturally as we say “Good morning” to our children.

We can choose between two attitudes—either arrogance (thinking that our accomplishments are because of something we muster up on our own) or humility (realizing every breath we take is because of God’s mercy). Nothing we’ve ever done can ever make us worthy of the incredible love of God. Because a mother’s attitude is picked up by her children, let them hear you praise the Lord. He is kind. He is very kind.

The excerpt above is found in the pages of the Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers, with General Editor, Bobbie Wolgemuth.

Mom’s Bible
: God’s Wisdom for Mothers gives women an awareness of just how precious and vital they are in God’s plan for the family.

Available in the New Century Version and drawing on solid Bible teaching, it encourages women at every stage of life to strengthen their relationship with God. A perfect gift for Christmas, birthdays, or whenever it’s time to say “thank you” to a special mom. To experience the Mom’s Bible for yourself and receive a free download visit www.momsbible.com.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Ministry of Presence

Dear Friends,

Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia saying, “Come over and help us.” Paul, Timothy, and Luke went. They scrapped a planned evangelistic tour and just went because someone needed them to come over and help them.

It’s time for Stuart and me to take off around the world again. The man of “Macedonia” calls! Ahead there are meetings to attend, airplanes to catch, and people to help, teach, and listen to. We will “weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh.” There will be much to learn about cultures, church around the world, evangelism, mission, Jesus, and myself!

The main thing I am learning is just to go. When I get to wherever we have been invited to be, we are most times met with the same words. In many different languages we hear, “You came! You came! You didn’t send a book, or tapes, clothes or medicine, not even money or Bibles; you came to us!” I have learned this is called “a ministry of presence.” There’s a real need and an invitation to “go over” and help someone. So if it’s possible, you just go. And you know all of us can do this! You don’t have to do it abroad. The man of Macedonia may well live across the street. I’ve been practicing the ministry of presence for years, first in the UK and then in the USA. Just go.

The next thing I have learned once I get there is I need to have “a ministry of silence.” Yes, I’ve gone to talk; that’s what they have invited me to do. But in between, before and after the sessions, over breakfast, lunch, tea, and supper, and sometimes far into the night, I will need to have a ministry of silence. And you know all of us can do this! We talkers, counselors, and teachers need to listen before we lecture, advise, or hand out our biblical anything!

Then, I am learning to have “a ministry of tears.” And do you know something? That’s not hard! How much sorrow there is in our hurting, wounded world! How could we not be reduced to tears? We would need to have a swinging brick in us instead of a heart. If we set ourselves to listen without lecturing, we will find wise and comforting words of instruction when it’s time to use them. And our words will find a ready resting place.

Oh yes, it doesn’t mean there will be no teaching and training. I will be teaching “Ministry of the life of Jesus,” Philippians and Ecclesiastes. I’ll tackle: “How to discern, discover, and do the will of God,” “Women in the life of Jesus,” and, “How to go with God.” There will be lots of other scriptures too, but none of this will be as effective if I haven’t had a ministry of presence, silence, and tears first.

So, as you pray for us, pray we get where we are going! Then pray we have hearts full of love and compassion for the many women and children of “Macedonia” and have a ministry of silence and tears. Then pray for these good folks who cried out “Come over and help us.” Pray for those in Romania, Turkey, India, and Russia that after we have done our going, listening, and weeping, they will be ready to hear the teaching we bring and obey it with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength! Pray they, like all of us wherever we are, will go out and do the same!

I Just Had to Come

I just had to come

Because I want to be like Jesus

I just had to come

So that someone could be near.

I just had to come

And have a ministry of presence

I just had to come

So someone could be here.

Now I just have to stay

And find some way of helping

I just have to stay

And try to do my part.

I just have to stay

And meet you in your sorrow

I just have to stay

And offer you my heart.



I just have to tell you

That the One who sent me to you

Is Jesus of Calvary

Who died to make you whole.

I just had to tell you

That He’s waiting to forgive you

I just had to tell you

That He wants to save your soul.



I just want to say

I’ll carry you to Jesus

And we’ll pray He’ll help and heal.

That I’ll weep and pray and love you

And I’ll show you Jesus cares for you no matter how you feel.

I just had to come

So I could know your heartache

So we can pray together and He will help and heal.

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Letting God Carry Your Burdens

Dear Friends,

“Bear one another’s burdens.” ~ Galatians 6:2


There is a time for everything, a season for this and a season for that. There is a time to bear a care in solitude, and a time to share a prayer with a friend. We need the wisdom to know when to shoulder responsibility, when to delegate, and when to cast it all upon Jesus – our incomparable Burden Bearer.

Sometimes I have to have a cry, then wash my face, and get on with it! I know I must bear the thing alone. Another day, when I was burdened beyond belief after watching a loved one suffer, a friend came to me and touched my hurt with tenderness, mending the raw edges of my helplessness. Such love brought a blessed buoyancy that helped more than I could tell. Someone cared enough to help make my burden bearable. Yes, there is a season for sorrow, a time to bear another’s burdens.

But there comes a time when only God’s shoulders are broad enough to carry the weight of my worry. Then crushing burdens become carried burdens. Yoked to Him, I can plow my lonely furrow, walk a straight path, cope with the intolerable, and figure out the impossible. Then, having been carried, I am sent on my way strengthened to help carry another. I need to pray:

Show me when to share, Lord – Commission me to carry, Lord

And teach me not to burden one of your special children, if I must bear my burden alone!

In Christ,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, November 22, 2010

Flying Free

Dear Friends,

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

My husband Stuart and I love God’s birds. So does God. We love to take a hike and revel in the Father’s finger work. He loves and cares for His creatures, feeding and clothing them. He watches their flight with joy, knowing when each one falls to the ground. None falls until it is time, and none falls without the Father in its falling. When one is trapped, He rescues it. When it is hungry, He feeds it. When it is attacked, He defends it. When it is trapped, He releases it. He clothes it in color and softness and watches over it all day long. His eye, He tells us, is on the sparrow.

I was a little scared about something. That’s nothing new, but I was anxious and knew my help lay in His word. That’s nothing new either. I read again about the birds of the air. Years ago, I wrote a children’s book about sparrows and thought it might do me good to read my own book again! It had comforted me during the writing. But I was far from home, and anyway, His Book is always the best.

While reading that morning, Jesus talked to me about sparrows again, and it helped me again. He reminded me once more that I was of more value than many sparrows. He doesn’t promise there will not be a time to fall to the ground, but until then, He does promise there will be no falling without the Father if it is not His time and His will. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without the will of Your Father.”

All this reminding was comforting to me. I thanked God for His life lesson. I thanked Him that I was of more value to Him than many sparrows and asked Him to help my little faith. Jesus often talked to anxious people…people who were living under occupation of the Romans - poor people, mistreated people, frightened people, and people who felt trapped and imprisoned. He was teaching in the open air and used the little creatures, busy with their “bird-ness,” as an example of the Father’s care. “Trust me, just like they do,” He said. “You are of more value than many sparrows.”

We were staying with a family in Germany at the time. They were Russian German immigrants and conservative believers whose families had been persecuted first by their own countrymen and then by the Communists in the former Soviet Union in a long and painful history. I listened with huge respect to the man of the house telling us a little of his story in halting English and wondered at the faith and strength God had given him in the labor camp.

Then, I listened to his wife, who was born in Siberia, as she described her grandparents going into the woods after World War II to find berries and flowers to eat so they wouldn’t starve. I thought about them, weak and helpless and trapped in cruel times so they couldn’t fly free. But God had released them, it wasn’t their time. He, after all, is the one who has “numbered our days.”

After a while I went to our bedroom, thinking about the stories we had heard of the man’s amazing release and the long-awaited permission to emigrate from Kazakhstan. They were only allowed to bring a few hundred dollars and a suitcase or two. But they left everything and came. Then these groups of Russian German immigrants formed their Baptist churches all over again and flew free. They are the fastest growing evangelical denomination in Germany.

“Consider the birds,” the Lord advised me as I climbed the stairs to our bedroom at the top of the house. As I walked into the room, I was startled by a flying object—a little bird! It flew frantically this way and that, panicked and frightened. As I stood watching it in amazement, our hostess came to see. “It’s never happened before,” she said. The window was only open a little bit. How it found its way into our bedroom, none of us knew!

“Consider the birds,” said a voice in my ear! Well now, how good of God to give me a live visual aid to emphasize the words He had been speaking to my soul all day! I smiled.

“Ok, ok, I get it,” I said softly. “Here is your beautiful little bird trapped in a frightening situation, but we just opened the window and it flew free. Nothing can happen to it without your permission and your will. It isn’t its time!

Then I heard, “Aren’t you of much more value than many sparrows?”

Do you need to “consider the birds”? Take a walk in the woods or just outside your garden gate. Look up and marvel at His watchfulness and care. Take heart. Consider the birds.

Blessings,
Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Keeping your focus on the work God gives you to do.

Dear Friends,

“It is finished!” ~ John 19:30

“Tetelestai!” cried Jesus. “It is finished!” Notice that He did not say, “I am finished!” He was shouting in triumph, witnessing to heaven and earth and sea that the work of redemption was accomplished. These were not the whimpering words of a defeated man, but the victory salute of a conqueror. “I have finished the work Thou gavest me to do,” He said to His Father in the Upper Room.


Will we be able to say, “It is finished,” when our time comes? Not about the work of redemption, for only One could accomplish that – but about the work of telling the world about Him. Will we cry, “I am finished” or “It is finished” when God calls us home?

Recently I heard of a young Christian man who died in an accident. He had lived his short life for his Lord, making every happy moment count. His life had not been “cut off” as some suggested, but completed. If we have sought to finish the work He has given us to do (notice it does not say that we are to finish the work He has given someone else to do!), then like our Savior we will be able to commit our spirit into the Father’s keeping – in peace (see Matt. 27:50).


Jesus, because He was Jesus, could say, “Spirit, go home.” We are not God and do not have the capacity to make our spirits obey us. But when God says to us, “Spirit, come home,” we shall go. May our missions be accomplished and a glad cry of “Tetelestai” be on our lips!

In Christ,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just between Us Magazine

Monday, November 15, 2010

Finding Courage in Christ

Dear Friends,

My husband Stuart and I recently finished teaching hundreds of missionary and pastoral students who were in seminary training in India. My last message in chapel concerned Moses and his renewed call to service after 40 years in the wilderness. Read the account in Exodus 3 & 4.

The bush burned with fire and yet was not destroyed, and Moses turned aside to see this strange sight. When The Lord saw that he turned aside to see, He called to him out of the bush: “Moses, Moses! Take off your shoes for you are standing on Holy ground.” The fire in the bush was the fire of God.

A divine conversation ensued that had worldwide repercussions for the Kingdom of God on earth! Moses was feeling sidelined, defeated, shamed, and guilty. He had killed a man and fled from Pharaoh’s wrath. God had gone to much trouble training Moses in Pharaoh’s palace for his life work: delivering the children of Israel from bondage and taking them to the land promised to Abraham.

But the devil attacked Moses through a character weakness. Temper! In fact, all through his long life, he was brought low through an uncontrolled temper! He literally broke the Ten Commandments because he lost his temper! Read about it in Exodus. You always break the Ten Commandments when you let your anger control you instead of you controlling your anger!

This led to self-imposed exile while the people of God suffered incredible brutality at the hands of the Egyptians. But failure is never final for the servant of God. So one day, the Lord, concerned with His people’s suffering and wishing to deliver them, met Moses in his dry and barren place of failure and defeat, and the great adventure began. We thought about Moses’ story as I spoke about the students and the call of God on all of our lives and the fact that failure along the way is never final for the believer.

This is India, so according to custom, I slipped off my shoes every time I entered the sanctuary for the lectures. I lived barefoot in those days. Teaching the students barefoot greatly focused my attention on the story of Moses and the burning bush where God renewed his call and commanded him to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground! I’ve thought of the many lessons that I, the teacher, (and hopefully the students) have learned!

It is only when we live barefoot in our hearts that we will hear our renewed calling to ministry. It is only when we live barefoot in our hearts that we will know the true fear of God and be suitably afraid of the great God we serve and wish to obey His calling however hard it is. And it is there; barefoot in the presence of His holiness, where He will give us the courage to go where He wants us to go and do what He wants us to do.

Here is a prayer I wrote at the end of my talks. The words were left with the students so they could make them into a song and remember the lessons of the bare feet.

Barefoot I bow at this altar of grace,

Barefoot and humbled with tears on my face.

Ashamed and repentant I hear the Lord’s voice

Barefoot and humbled He gives me a choice.

Holy the ground where the promise is made

Keep the fire burning Lord don’t let it fade.

Help me obey You despite all my fears

Help me to serve You the rest of my years.

Barefoot accepting Your plan once again

Give power for my fainting heart, peace in my pain.

Deal with the darkness give strength for my days

Barefoot and humbled I offer you praise!

Barefoot I bow at this altar of grace,

Barefoot and humbled with tears on my face,

Ashamed and repentant I respond to your call

Barefoot and humbled I give you my all!

Why not stand before the Lord? Slip off your shoes, wherever you are.

Listen! Can you hear your name? He’s calling you. What will you say?

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Impossible Situations

Dear Friends,

“Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!”” ~ John 19:26-27

Take courage! Jesus did more with His hands tied than anyone else on earth! When Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, Herod’s soldiers tied His hands behind His back so they could better buffet Him. Then they sent Him back to Pilate. “That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for before that they had been at enemity” (Luke 23:12). Jesus had an amazing effect on people, even when they hated Him. He even helped people get over their quarrels when His hands were tied!

The centurion untied Jesus’ hands, only to nail them firmly in place upon the cross! But think what Jesus did when His hands were nailed into place – the centurion came to Christ! When Jesus’ hands were tied, He never stopped helping people! Seeing His mother standing at the foot of the cross watching Him die, and seeing His best earthly friend supporting her, He gave His mother into John’s hands. He could no longer take care of Mary; His hands were tied.

But He still had a mind alert enough to plan for those He loved, and even through His desperate thirst, He could still speak words of encouragement. Jesus, choosing to die, could not do much for Mary and John, but He did what He could – and it was enough.

Are your hands tied? Are you imagining yourself helplessly restricted? Think about Jesus. Ask Him for a way around the dilemma. He’ll show you! He’ll tell you, “It’s amazing what you can do when your hands are tied!”

In Christ,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weary in Well Doing

Dear Friends,

“Jesus, being weary with His journey sat on the well.” ~ John 4:6


Are you tired inside as well as out? Those serving the Lord will certainly be weary in well doing as the Bible puts it!

My husband Stuart says: “I was born tired, I've lived tired, and I'll surely die tired. But if I'm tired when I get to Heaven, I'm coming straight back!” His idea of Heaven is waking up on the glad day he arrives there finding himself not tired! There is so much to do for hurting people in Kingdom work and so few doing it. We are bound to have weary servants of the Lord around!

There were plenty of “well doings” (excuse the pun) to be done at this particular spot on this particular day in the life of Christ. Though He was worn out, He attended to His work on earth and accomplished it.

Reading the story about the Lord Jesus and His stop at the well both touched and challenged me. After all, He was weary with this journey! The one He took for me! The challenge lay in the fact He was never too hungry or tired to speak life into a soul thirsty and hungry beyond measure, however spent He was.

The sun was hot. The party had walked a long way in the Middle Eastern sun. Donkeys trotted past them, carrying their passengers. The disciples and Jesus were poor and had no extra money to hire the beasts, even though certain “women were helping to support them out of their own means” (Luke 8:3).

Everyone was hungry, including Jesus. Breakfast was a memory, and then there was the frustration of sitting on a well and not having a bucket! Of course He who made the seas could have turned sand into water as He could, on another occasion, have turned stones into bread. He had the power but not the Father’s permission, in this instance, to use His powers for Himself. So He waited patiently for the disciples to come back from Sychar with refreshment.

If you’ve ever felt weary with the journey, like you’re walking in deep sand, and are frustrated with no means to help yourself, Jesus understands. Wait for the woman to come. Proverbs 11:25 tells us: “He that refreshes others will himself be refreshed!” It’s true!

Once Jesus had given the woman living water, He forgot about His lunch! Don’t be so absorbed with your own weariness that you fail to see someone’s need and realize you have a divine appointment. He will energize you as only He can.

Lord, I am weary. You understand. Send me someone to minister to even when I’m tired. I know that in the giving I shall receive refreshment of soul and joy in the journey. Amen.

Blessings,


Jill Bricoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Inner Beauty

Dear Friends,

“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.” ~ Psalm 90:17

What is beauty? There is a beauty of form and figure that catches the breath by its sheer symmetry. Then there is the beautiful supple strength of the athlete. But we are thinking “outward.” What about the “inward,” the beauty of a bright mind, for instance? The queen in Proverbs 31 warned her son, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (v.30).

The most radiant beauty of all is spiritual beauty, that inner tranquility that comes from a meek and submissive spirit resting at the Savior’s feet. Moses prayed that the beauty of the Lord would be upon His people. When David had placed the ark of God inside the tent that he had pitched for it, he offered burnt offerings and told the people to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (1 Chron. 16:29).

Romans 10:15 tells us that the feet that take the gospel to the lost are beautiful. But how perfectly beautiful is our Savior Jesus! Beautiful in love, holiness, forgiveness, and grace! If we will only pray the prayer of Moses as we worship Him, the Lord will think us beautiful too. We will hear our Savior whisper, “You are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair!” (Song 4:1).

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, November 1, 2010

Power of Words

Dear Friends,

“Words…given by one Shepherd” (Eccles. 12:9-11).

The twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes tells us that words are weapons ? for good or ill. It says, “Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people.” Apparently it takes work to be wise, and to put your wisdom into words. Words, like the “goads” and “nails” used to prod cattle from a depleted pasture to a green one, are the tools God uses to move people from meaningless-ness to meaningful-ness and from empty-ness to useful-ness. That’s what the writer of this little book did.

Growing up listening to Churchill and Hitler, I had a perfect example of how words can be used for God or for Satan. When one, as the teacher says, gets the words from “one Shepherd” (we know Who that is don’t we!), then they bring life to the hearer and light into a dark world. Words move people to decision. They inspire, rebuke, and instruct.

They will only have power to do this as we spend time with the Shepherd. In fact, unless my words have been in the throne room worshipping, I can forget them impacting the people who listen to them. Years ago I captured that thought in a poem:

Give my words wings, Lord

May they fly high enough to reach the mighty,

Low enough to breathe the breath of sweet encouragement upon the downcast soul.

Give my words wings, Lord,

See them now, nesting down at Your feet,

Silenced into ecstasy,

Home at last.

Ideas and words sent firsthand from the one Shepherd, Jehovah Himself, who will declare His power to the people who are living in the shallow places where everyone lives, are received, as I often say, in the deep place where nobody goes, as you sit on the steps of your soul, with the “golden book,” outside God’s front door.

I have found that my life and ministry are only as powerful, rich, and effective as the time I spend with God. I must find my way to the “waiting room” a hundred times a day, where He is waiting for me to wait! I must learn quietude, however much the “busy Grinch” howls. Strangely, in finding quietude so I can hear His voice, I can begin to gather words that work and live my life out loud.

However many good things there are to do -- good programs to organize, good meals to cook, good children to manage, good soccer games to attend, good messages to prepare, and good people to meet -- I must above all, work at good intimacy with God, for this is where the power lies. Power to live a life of meaning and purpose, and to declare that power to this troubled generation.

I commend the reading of Ecclesiastes, this little Old Testament book that walks down the centuries into a world tired of its toys!

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, October 25, 2010

Experiencing the Peace of God

Dear Friends,

Christ desires us to have peace. If we do not have it, we miss part of the blessings of being a Christian. Now there’s a simple statement! But I think we make it too hard. Too complicated. We think that peace of mind when we are in the midst of a storm can only be for the super saint who knows how to have super faith. Since most of us know ourselves well enough to know we are not super anything, we figure such experiences are not for us.

No, Christ wants every Christian to experience His peace. How many of us lived in peace this past week? Have you had peace today? If not, what is wrong?

The word peace runs through the whole Bible. In the Old Testament in the wonderful words of a benediction used by the priests, the promise is: “The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:26). Here it is a gift of God.

Where does peace begin? In the words of Job’s friend Eliphaz, “Acquaint now yourselves with Him and be at peace” (Job 22:21). It begins as we get acquainted personally with the mighty Prince of Peace. The Messiah is foretold as the Prince of Peace.

His Peace enters the heart by the Holy Spirit and makes it independent of all outside conditions. We cannot hope for a life without sorrow. To love is to weep sometimes in the journey of life. One of two friends must hold the other’s hand and stand by the other’s coffin. But when joy isn’t possible, peace is. The peace of God can turn sorrow into joy. And we can sing away the pain! Try praising! I loved this poem in my ‘old’ book:

God hasn’t promised skies ever blue
Flower-strewn pathways always for you
God hasn’t promised sun without rain
Joy without sorrow
Peace without pain.
But God has promised
Strength from above
Unfailing sympathy
Undying love.

And with this knowledge comes peace. Peace in the pain and sorrow. Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee (Is 26:3). There’s the promise. There is music in these words of the old prophet. Why then, can’t we get this music in our lives?

First, we need to stop trying to manufacture this peace feeling. We cannot keep ourselves in peace. “Thou will keep him in perfect peace,” the text says. It is the Lord who will do the keeping. “The Lord is thy keeper” (Ps 121:5).

We need to believe that God doesn’t need to get nine hours of sleep each night to do His keeping work properly either! He that keepeth thee will not slumber; the Lord will keep thee from all evil. He will keep thy soul (Psalm 121:3, 7). He will, He will, He will, we are promised.

And this peace cannot be disturbed -- only if we allow doubt and fear to dominate us instead. We must submit to Him and trust Him to be as good as His word. Corrie Ten Boom used to say: “Children, don’t wrestle, nestle.” And she should know because she endured months in the Nazi concentration camps in World War II. A lot of this has to do with our trust in God as our Father.

There is a story about Rudyard Kipling in my old book. As he lay dying, the nurse sitting by his side saw his lips were moving. Thinking he needed her, she leaned over him to hear his words and realized he was praying. “I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling,” she said. “I thought you wanted something.”

“I do,” he replied. “I want my Heavenly Father.” His Heavenly Father apparently came for his son, and the nurse witnessed a “peace that passes understanding” on the face of Rudyard Kipling as he entered the land of peace and glory.

A trifling illness frightens us. The most insignificant things in our lives can send us off in pitiable panic, spoiling our days, blotting out the blue of the skies, and putting out the stars. If we would like continual peace, we must have continuous trust in the little things as well as the big.

Jesus told us, “In nothing be anxious. Nothing means in anything. It is our privilege and duty to be free always -- free from anxiety, showing this sad world victorious joy. Even though joy may be manifest in difficult times as sober gaiety!

Every one of us should have peace. If we do not have it, we are living below our privileges. This is the will of God and it is only in the faithful doing of God’s will that peace can be found. When we are focused on God and others first we will know the peace of God. Selfishness is always a hinderer of peace.

Shalom!

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Where Will the Way Lead?

Following Jesus is a lifetime adventure. It requires risk and experimentation. Courage is necessary to increase our faith, hope, and love along the journey. We don’t know what life will bring to us—surprises that both overwhelm us with joy and sorrow.

So how do we know the way? A long time ago I heard a story that I’ve contemplated many times in my life when I didn’t know where the path I was on would lead. The story goes as I remember it like this: One night a father decided that his daughter was old enough to go to the barn and feed the horses on her own. But she was afraid.

So the father took his daughter out to the front porch of the house and lit a lantern, held it up, and asked her how far she could see by the lantern’s light. She said that she could see
halfway down the path to the barn. “Good!” her father responded. “Now carry this lantern halfway down the path.” The young girl did as she was told and when she reached her destination, her father called out to her, “Now how far can you see by the lantern’s light?” His daughter responded that she could see all the way to the gate. “Great!” her father responded. “Now walk to the gate.”

Once again the girl did as she was told and when she reached the gate, her father asked, “Now how far can you see?” She responded that she could see the barn. “Wonderful!”
replied her father. “Now walk to the barn and open the door.”

The girl did just as her father told her and finally she shouted back that she was at the barn and could see the horses. “Excellent!” her father called. “Now feed the horses.” And
he stepped back into the house.

God is like the father who gives us light for now and for the next step. God’s light doesn’t illuminate the whole journey, just one step at a time. The girl trusted her father to get her safely to the barn; and we, too, must trust God to get us safely to the next destination, decision, turning point, opportunity, or experience along our path.

When you are uncertain of the path ahead, how do you trust to take the next steps?

Taken from A Faithful Heart: Daily Guide for Joyful Living by Sally Dyck (Abingdon Press, 2010)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Finding Spiritual Strength

“You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season.” (Job 5:26)

Dear Friends,

Have you ever had a time in your life when you couldn’t face what the day would bring? I have – like today. Then I go to the Deep Place where nobody goes. He who has already visited all my tomorrows knows what today will bring forth. He is not beaten down – not bowed over, bent low like a sheaf of grain in a wind storm. Not like me.

“How do I ‘do today,’ Lord? It’s too long, too hard.”

“Life won’t go on without you?”

“No. But I can’t do today! Pain takes my breath. The things that matter most to me are crumbling. “Help!”

“I am here. Come” --

“I can’t ‘do today.’”

“I can!”

“I’m not God – that’s the problem.”

“I Am.”

“I believe! But dear Lord, I can’t do today – even half a day.”

“Do this minute.”

“I don’t think…”

“Yes you can, you can do the next minute. Try, count the seconds: One, two, three –

Silence

“Now the next one. I have counted out your moments and your days for you already. Now you do it.”

“But that first minute lasted so long!”

“This time stop counting and read a verse of Scripture: fill the next minute thinking about Me.”

Then I read Job 5:26: “You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season.”

“Lord, I feel beaten down like a sheaf in a wind storm.”

“Here comes the sun! You and I will ‘do today’ together.”

Silence

I put my hand into His, and counting hard, “did today.” “Lord of all my yesterdays and tomorrows: help me to ‘do today,’” I asked Him. “My sheaf bends in the wind.”

“Till I gather you into my barn you must bend in the winds that come: for you must stand in the harvest field until it is your season. It will not blow so hard today. In the respite wait patiently. Rest in Me. One day, ‘today’ as I intended it, will come to be.”

Then I began to climb the steps to the shallow place where everyone lives and found “today” happening. I counted every other step and tried to think of a promise. On the alternate step I said loudly, “I believe!” And when I just couldn’t’ take another step I breathed, “Help thou mine unbelief!”

Lord, sometimes I have no more strength to cope: However hard the wind blows, give me the spiritual vigor I need to serve you today. Amen.

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, October 11, 2010

Are You Parenting to Please Everyone?

Dear Friends,

Down through the years I have wrestled more with the fear of other Christians’ disapproval than with anything else, leading me to attempt to be all things to all people. Some people are so quick to “know it all” and tell others how they should be living the Christian life, ordering their family relationships, bringing up their children, and conducting their ministries that they forget Jesus told us not to judge – that we should cast out the plank in our own eye before we start scratching out the speck in our brother’s!

How often have I heard mature Christians waxing eloquent about clergy and missionary parents who “ruin” their children by neglect – by sending them off to boarding school or not spending any time with them. Now, I know some children of couples in full-time ministry don’t make it, but then some children of car salesmen and lawyers don’t make it either! I would want to know the dynamics of the relationship of a particular troubled family before I would even dare voice a suggestion as to what may have gone wrong.

Missionaries and ministry workers are ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances – called to do extraordinary tasks with very little help and less than adequate resources. By and large they do a wonderful job, but they would be much more effective if we who support them (and therefore think we have the inalienable right to criticize them) would pray more and try to think of practical ways to unload their boats for them once in a while! It is a very heavy burden to be told continually, “Your children will never make it – they will grow up to reject the Lord!” Sometimes I used to get the feeling that those giving us this “loving counsel” would almost be glad if that did happen to our kids – because then their opinions would be vindicated.

Even now, with our three children grown and in ministry, I have on occasion been told, “Well it was obviously the grace of God, despite what you did to them that brought them through!” Now undoubtedly there is a lot of truth in that; it was certainly by the grace of God that they turned out so well. But I have come to realize that no one does it all right – and no one does it all wrong, either. We mustn’t demand that all Christian families live according to this formula or that, but try and encourage each family to find out their formula from Him and fulfill it. The important thing is to please God first – then you’ll know what He wants you to do.

In His Joy,
Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, October 4, 2010

Finding God's Will in Your Life

Dear Friends,

Finding the will of God for our lives should be easy. After all, we know and love the Lord and want to serve Him. Yet around the corner of our surrender to the Lord we sometimes find confusion and regrets. “Did we miss the turn in the road?” a young pastor asked me. “Things have not been as we were led to believe they would be.”

Around our glad, “Yes Lord, anytime anywhere any way,” may be a day that finds us saying, “Oh no Lord, I never expected this!”

My husband was addressing the questions of a crowd of British teenagers who wanted to know just how they could know the will of God for their lives. He gave a great illustration. “Life is like a runway,” he said. “Before a plane lands it helps to have the lights that lead up to the runway lit before you land.” Then he talked about some of those landing lights.

The advice of Christians. Seek out Christians who are a little bit further along the road of faith than you are. It also helps if they know you well.

Inner convictions. This is different than feelings. The Holy Spirit does not come into our lives to do His deepest work in the shallowest part of us, which is in our emotions. He comes to do His illuminating work in the deepest part of us which is in our knowings - our convictions.

The Word of God. Principles from the Word will help us know His will. As we diligently keep our head in the Book a line of action will be confirmed.

Circumstances. How are the circumstances pointing?

Common sense. God expects us to use our reasoned judgment, which is another word for common sense.

Honesty. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to know the will of God whatever it is?”

Once as many of these lights as possible are lit, then land on the runway, asking God to, if you have misread the lights, abort your landing!

“What happens if you land and you find you shouldn’t have?” inquired a young girl.

“The Christian life is like a freeway not a tightrope,” my husband explained, changing the analogy. “There is plenty of room to crash, bump up against the fence, right the car and continue on your way a little bruised, but sadder and wiser!”

I have found that God is far more anxious to have us get it right than we are! Just because things are difficult doesn’t necessarily mean that you took the wrong turn. Jesus said, “I am the way.” Follow Him as best as you can and He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Happy landings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Evangelistic Heart

Women are natural evangelists! What I mean is that women are quick to share with each other—with their mothers and sisters and daughters, with their best friends and even co-workers—what is deep in their hearts. Deep in their hearts can be joy and gladness; deep in their hearts can be sorrow and pain.

So when women are filled with good news, excitement, or deep interest in something, such as what God is doing in their lives, I find that women talk about it a lot! Maybe not publicly, standing in front of a large group and pontificating about their religious beliefs, but over cups of coffee, in book groups (whether the book is “religious” or not), and even in line at the grocery store.

But I doubt that many of these women who talk about their faith over coffee, in book groups, or in grocery lines would raise their hand if you asked, “Who here has an evangelistic heart?” But they might raise their hands if they understood that “evangelism” isn’t preaching like Billy Graham or buttonholing someone with the question, “Have you been saved?” Evangelism means having a conversation that shares the love and grace of Jesus with others. Sometimes we use our words, and sometimes our actions speak louder than our words.

An evangelistic heart is one that is sincerely interested and excited about being a person who is on a journey of faith. Some would describe it as having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but others might express it as a journey with others toward God. An evangelistic heart doesn’t kick anyone off the journey because they express their experience differently!

An evangelistic heart is interested in how other people experience and express their faith in God, and the best way to do that is to talk to them about it. That means the subject of God seems to come up in conversations naturally, regardless of whether or not the person goes to your church, or how well you know the person, or even if they would describe themselves as Christian. Just as it’s natural to talk about the weather, which is everywhere and constantly impacting us, why wouldn’t we talk about God, who is everywhere, all the time?

An evangelistic heart is also a heart that is broken. A heart that breaks is part of what happens when we journey with Jesus. An evangelistic heart breaks for the people in this world who suffer physically, emotionally, spiritually, and any other way that we can suffer.

Someone with an evangelistic heart might be accused of being a “bleeding heart,” and if that’s the case for you just say, “Why, thank you! That’s the nicest thing anyone’s said about me today!”

God’s heart breaks for those in need and breaks when our hearts don’t seem to care. An evangelistic heart beats for the kid never picked on the team, the mothers whose children precede them in death for any reason, the homeless man on thestreet corner . . . the list goes on.

An evangelistic heart has a passion—at least one—for people in need and does what she can to reach out.

A person with an evangelistic heart is a beautiful person . . .like you.

Have you ever had such good news that you couldn’t wait to tell your mother, sister, friend, co-worker, the woman on the bus, anyone because it was so wonderful? What was it, and who did you tell?

Taken from A Faithful Heart: Daily Guide for Joyful Living by Sally Dyck (Abingdon Press, 2010)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Learning from God

Dear Friend,

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” ~ John 14:26

Is your memory a thing you forget with? Are you good at remembering birthdays, wedding anniversaries, the names of your in-laws’ family? How about Scripture? Are you good at memorizing verses from the Bible? We are told to hind God’s Word in our hearts and it will “check” us when we think of sinning (see Ps. 119:11). Jesus promised His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit into their hearts to help them remember His words. That promise was for all disciples in all ages – people like you and me!

But even the Holy Spirit can’t help us remember what we’ve never taken the trouble to learn! Some people seem to think the Holy Spirit is a magic wand standing in the corner of our minds. When we are too lazy to learn something, we somehow expect Him to cheat for us by whispering the right answer in our ear. But He won’t do that. He never said He would. Our Lord said the Holy Spirit would be sent to teach us all things and would then help us to remember what had been taught.

Now I don’t know about you, but my memory needs help. It stands to reason that I might need heavenly help when it comes to heavenly things. But I must learn the spiritual concepts, do the studying, and work at the memorizing. Only then will my heavenly Helper aid in the recall of all that hidden treasure of wisdom in the vault of my heart.

In His Joy,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Uniquely You

Three separate and unrelated quotations call to mind that God calls us to be uniquely who we are in order to uniquely live out our lives in belonging to God.

There’s an old Jewish saying: Rabbi Zusya, when he was an old man, said, “In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They’ll ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?’ ”

We look around at other people and see their talents and gifts, accomplishments, and opportunities and may be tempted to try to be like them, to even be them. Yet God doesn’t want us to be like others, except to be like Christ. God wants us to be truly, uniquely ourselves because God values the diversity of talents and gifts, people and perspectives. Without our unique being, something will be missing in any given situation in which we find ourselves. We should constantly be asking ourselves—especially when we feel like we don’t see things like others do or have the same gifts and abilities— how God would expect us to add to or influence a situation. God doesn’t need more than one Moses, likewise God doesn’t need more than one of anyone else; God needs each one of us!

“Something’s your vocation [or calling] if it keeps making more of you.”-Gail Godwin

When we’re truly and uniquely being who God has created, called, gifted, and empowered us to be, it will “make more” of us, not less. By “making more” I believe that means that it is something that doesn’t diminish us but magnifies our own sense of self and relationship with God and others. When Jesus said that the yoke is easy and the burden is light, I believe he meant that when we’re truly being ourselves in service to God, it may require a lot of physical, emotional, and spiritual energy, but it will also “fit.” And not just “fit,” but make more of us in terms of joy and satisfaction at what we’re able to do. Like the image of the yoke suggests, usually what makes “more” of us, what multiplies and builds upon who we are, will be as the result of others pulling in the same direction, working together with us, and exponentially making our lives full of joy, like a cup running over.

True vocation joins self and service when “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”—Frederick Buechner

What we are most passionate about is the place where we can team up with God to make a difference in the lives of others and do what we love the most all at the same time!

What passion do you have that could be transformed into a ministry?


Taken from A Faithful Heart: Daily Guide for Joyful Living by Sally Dyck (Abingdon Press, 2010)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Staying Healthy When You're Busy

Dear Friends,

One of the questions I am most often asked is, “How do you stay healthy when you are so busy?” I expect the question arises when the questioner has read my itinerary and learned I have just gotten back from speaking in Korea, or picked up my latest book, and now sits at the table next to me in McDonalds watching me corral a number of my grandkids.

I assure this person that I was not doing all of those things at the same time, and that I am no busier than he or she is. We are just busy doing different things. Perhaps my particular things are more visible than her things so it appears like I’m doing the impossible, but both of us have exactly the same amount of moments in each day to accomplish what God has called us to do.
We need to also keep in mind that we are all different, so we shouldn’t compare ourselves with each other. Some of us have larger capacities than others, and others flourish when they focus on one task at a time. By coming to understand how God has made us, we’ll come to better understand our own limitations?and that will make for a healthier life.

Especially as women, when it’s so easy to take care of everyone else, we can neglect our own health. But by doing only those things that God has assigned to us, we will become healthier overall.

There are wonderful promises for renewed and supernatural strength for those who weary themselves in kingdom work such as the prophet’s promise of rising like an eagle above life’s wearing challenges. “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They shall rise up on wings like the eagle, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:31).
Let’s focus for a moment on our spiritual health:

H - The secret of good spiritual health is hope. An Arabian proverb says, “He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” The word, hope, means having confidence, looking to God for our everything. It involves trusting God to be God enough for all of our health needs in a life lived for Him.

E - Keeping spiritually healthy involves exploring and finding the will of God - and doing it.

A - Spiritual health also includes activity?serving, praying and knowing God’s Word.

L - Above all else, being spiritually health means loving God and others better than yourself. Loving others is the healthiest thing you can do for your personal health, because as you give yourself away to others, God meets your own needs in the process.

T - Thinking helps a person stay spiritually healthy by keeping interested in our world and all that is happening. Charles Spurgeon told a story about a little girl who, when asked what she thought her soul was, replied, “My soul is my think.” Spurgeon responded, “If that were the case then a lot of people do not have very much soul.” It’s hard to read and stay aware of what’s happening when the pressures of our ministry press in on us, but healthy, inquisitive minds help us to have healthy bodies and spirits.

H - is for helping. If we are gloriously busy doing all these things, our soul will prosper, and a prosperous soul knows how to help others live long enough and stay well enough to honor and glorify Him.

Busy learning to love and depend on Him,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bearing Private Grief Publicly

Dear Friends,

When Joseph’s second son was born, he named him Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Genesis 41:52). God can make us fruitful when He carries us into a place of affliction, but how?

He can surely use the pain, if we cooperate, to grow some of the fruit of the spirit in us – love, joy, peace, patience, and self control. I think it begins when we accept trouble with a “why not?” instead of a “why me?” attitude, and when we submit to His timing, not with a “why now?” but a “thy will be done”. As we learn to grow through suffering we will begin to know God, ourselves and others better through it all, and might even develop hidden gifts of mercy and grace that will only flower in the land of our suffering.

It’s easier said than done, of course, but for those of us who seek to serve the Lord, we will discover that at such painful times, like Joseph, we have a choice. We can become fruitful or barren, become overcomers or overcome. We can allow pain to drive us to God, letting the prison show us His face. While Joseph was in the pit, God showed him his mercy – in the prison of His kindness (Genesis 30:21) and in the palace of His grace.

Sometimes we can preach the most effective sermons of our lives from the prison or the pit, simply by responding rightly to people who are responsible for bringing us into the “land of suffering.”

When our turn comes, may He help all of us to be fruitful – for His sake.

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Do you see God in your life every day?

When we can sense and feel and therefore know the presence of God, it is the tangible presence of God in our lives. We touch, feel, perceive, sense, recognize, and notice God around and within us; God’s presence is something that is obvious, evident, and plain. I want a passionate faith where I deeply sense God’s presence in my life. Passionate is a confusing word, especially for people who are introverted. Passionate often implies a proscribed way in which one experiences God: a jumping up and down, raising your hands, and shouting out loud way of experiencing God. That may be unfair to the word passionate; its true meaning describes something that is ardent, fervent, and deeply felt. I want to deeply feel and experience God’s presence. I want my expression of it to be authentic to whatever it is that I perceive, sense, and notice about God’s presence in my life. Today. Any day. Any time.

But why is it that sometimes we feel the presence of God and sometimes we don’t? Why is it that some people seemingly sense God’s presence in their lives more readily than others?

N. Graham Standish suggests that just as there are multiple intelligences, such as emotional, musical, and intellectual intelligences— or ways of knowing—so there is a mystical intelligence “which has to do with how aware we are of God’s purpose, presence, and power.”* It’s intriguing to think that just as people have varying degrees of intellectual, emotional, musical, and other intelligences, so we might also have a varying degree of mystical intelligence. A mystical intelligence simply means that we have a way of knowing God’s presence through our mind, our senses, our feelings, and our intuition.

Initially it might sound like we either have it or we don’t, but Standish doesn’t describe it that way. Likewise, the theory of multiple intelligences doesn’t suggest that we either have one or another, but that we have a degree of any of the intelligences and we can cultivate them in our lives so as to enhance our ways of knowing, learning, and experiencing life.

Experiencing the passionate presence of God means that we seek to sense, notice, and perceive God around us. We stop confining God to some activities, such as going to church, reading the Bible, and praying, and begin to sense God’s presence in anything or anywhere.

As Eugene Peterson in his paraphrase of Romans 12 calls it, giving my “everyday, ordinary life” as an offering to God means that God meets me where I’m at whether or not it’s a place I would expect to see or experience God. It means that as a result of God meeting me where I’m at, God transforms the way I see the world around me—my friends and family as well as strangers, my work and daily tasks of life, the beauty of creation, and the world’s suffering.

Years ago my extended family experienced a horrible tragedy that resulted with two members of our family dying. It was a devastating experience that forever impacted us. But as we prepared for this double funeral, my mother shared a list she had made of how God had been in the midst of it. My definition of tragedy is that God doesn’t intend for it to happen—I would never say that God willed or intended for this tragedy to happen—but I believe in the midst of the worst of life, even in dying, God is present and sometimes even more palpable because in our darkest times we look for every glimmer of light.

God’s goodness may be in the silence rather than the speech, in the edges rather than the center of things, in the healing rather than the untouched.

Where do you need to practice seeing the presence of God?

Taken from A Faithful Heart: Daily Guide for Joyful Living by Sally Dyck (Abingdon Press, 2010)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cultivating Contentment

Dear Friends,

Statistics show that a large percentage of ministry wives don’t like what they do! If there is that much discontentment, there is no question there will be discontented spouses as well. We cannot go cold as a Christian without lowering the temperature of everyone else around us.

Discontented believers do not encourage unbelievers to believe! They do not excite believers to develop an exuberant faith. What’s more, discontentment shows and that’s not good. You can’t hide unhappiness of soul. You may be going through the motions of ministry because you know how to do it, but if there’s no joy there’s not much hope of infectious multiplication in evangelism or spiritual growth in the church. What can we do to find contentment in ministry?

Confess your discontentment. Paul said “learn to be content” in Philippians 4. And confession is a good place to start.

Order your private life. Check your priorities, talk them over with your partners or close friends.

Nourish your relationships. Do you have a friend who can encourage and challenge you? Will she call you on your discontented attitude?

Try counting your blessings, not your troubles! Counting “a blessing a day keeps the devil away!”

Expect the devil to whisper discouraging things in your ear. Answer him with words of Scripture – like Jesus did (Matthew 4).

Nurture your prayer life. This is where the battle is won.

Trust God. Let resentment go. Forgive your enemies (and your friends). Accept adversity cheerfully. Don’t play God!

How can a child of the King have a sour face? Live royally – it’s your birthright.

In His Joy,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Your Lifestyle Needs to be Different!

Dear Friends,

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind. ~ Ephesians 4:17

A warning is necessary if you are a new Christian living among old pagans. Your lifestyle has to be different! How do the pagan nations live? People wander in a world of illusion and futility (see Eph. 4:18). Love has become lust, and their darkened understanding says that what is temporal is eternal, and what is eternal is irrelevant. Spiritual experience is not for people living in the real world, they say!

This worldly thinking is the result of a callousness of heart (see Eph. 4:18). People sin and get away with it, then stick out their chins and say, “See, the sky didn’t fall on my head!” They are greedy, wanting more of everything even though they have most everything. They indulge in outrageous conduct, living without care for high personal standards or social sanctions, and they have a passion for sexual indulgence at the expense of others. This is how the nations without Christ walk about this earth. They become so indifferent even to the sanctity of human life that they reduce everything to the mighty dollar.

The story is told of a man’s watching another man drown in Hong Kong harbor. The drowning man begged the observer to jump in and save him, but the man refused until a passer-by offered him some money! Not every unbeliever behaves in such a callous way, but every unbeliever, with no mighty checking power within, has the potential for all of the above. Alone against the foe, the Christless one is easy prey.

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spiritual Gifts for the Church

Dear Friends,

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” ~ Ephesians 4:7-8

Did you know you have a spiritual gift that was given to you for the church’s benefit? My husband was asked to visit a family who was thinking of joining our church. “Pastor Briscoe,” began the father, “what does your church have to offer my family?” “What does your family have to offer to my church?” replied my husband. He explained that the policy of our fellowship is to help people discover their spiritual abilities and exercise them for the good of the whole.

Paul explains that persons are gifts (see Eph. 4:11). There have been apostles who had a distinctive position, prophets with inspired utterance, evangelists with the ability to spread the Good News, pastor-teachers to shepherd the flock under Christ the chief Pastor. All these men are there to teach the saints (rank-and-file members) to do the work of ministry (see Eph. 4:12). The greatest mistake people can make is to think of church as a spectator sport.

Paul also writes that gifts are given to all Christians. Unto every one of us is given a gift (see Eph. 4:7). Each gift is different, and there is a diversity as subtle and beautiful as the spots on a leopard, snowflakes on the grass, grains of sand on the seashore. Each personality with its matching gifts is unique, but, like a note in a chord of music, or an instrument in an orchestra, it is intended to blend with others so that the message of salvation becomes the loveliest symphony of all.

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

God of My Pleasant Places

Dear Friends,

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. ~ Psalm 16:6

The Bible tells us that when the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, Joshua, Eleazar, the priest, and the heads of the tribes divided the land for inheritance by their borders (see Josh. 19:49). The “lines” in our text were the boundaries around those pieces of property. David, thinking about this, was able to look at his life and say, “the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.”

I once found myself raising my voice in praise to God for exactly the same reason. I thanked God for the “pleasant places” of our home, our marriage, and our relationship with our grown children. I praised Him for our ministry, and for our friendships. I thought about the pleasant place around our dining table, and our bank balance with enough money to buy clothes and necessities. Like King David, I could truly say “Yes, the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places!”

Then another thought came to mind, engendering petition. This time it was a warning.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land,…..When you have eaten and are full,…..Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God….When your heart is lifted up…then you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.” And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth. (Deut. 8:7-18)

It was quite simple, really; I had been reminded not to make my pleasant places my God, but rather to worship the God of my pleasant places!

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe

Monday, August 16, 2010

Making Your Programs Work

Dear Friends,

The crooked cripple waited outside the temple gate called Beautiful. Peter and John came along. It was time for a prayer meeting. It would have been easy to walk right on by, but the man looked at them expectantly so they stopped. His expectation wasn’t very high. A mite or two would do – Peter and John didn’t appear to be flush. What a shock he got! What a glorious, fabulous, stupendous shock! After 40 years of immobility the man walked – leapt up and down for joy. He asked for alms – but God gave him legs! (My husband’s line!) Peter and John saw their program work!

It’s a sad commentary on the church that people don’t expect much from us. Just a mite or two. A handout – the usual meager token – the nothing-very-much-giving they’ve grown to expect. But to receive ‘life more abundant’ – to be straight instead of crooked, to stand tall instead of groveling on the ground, and to be independent instead of dependent – now there’s a story! It got everyone’s attention of course, as such a miracle should, and more and more people asked to join the program.

Peter and John’s program worked because it wasn’t theirs, it was His. It was the living, loving, healing, resurrected Jesus’ idea.

What sort of people is the Lord Jesus looking for to run His program of gospel-telling and radical life change? People like Peter and John. Now before you begin the killing game of comparisons – wait! Peter and John are described in the narrative as “unschooled and ordinary men.” Well now, that’s good news for those of us (me included) who have never had the chance to go to Bible school or seminary. (Some of us were too busy putting our partners through.)

Many of us women qualify as “unschooled” – no Master of Divinity for us. The leaders of Israel (schooled men) took note of the fact “that they (the disciples) had been with Jesus!” (Acts 4:13). Ah, so they didn’t need a Master of Divinity – they had been with the Master of Divinity! Now that’s very good news for those of us unschooled and ordinary women who feel inadequate and less than ideally equipped to make our programs work. And of course, it’s obvious to me, the more ordinary we are the more extraordinary He will be seen to be. That way we can make sure that He gets all the credit. Incidentally, you can accomplish anything if you don’t have to take the credit!

So far as I can see from this incident, God can use poor, unschooled, and ordinary people to lend a hand to help this crooked, crippled world up onto its feet for the glory of God! And, after all, that’s what His program is all about. What a joy to be a part!

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Women are Hungry for the Truth!

By Jill Briscoe

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.. ~ Ephesians 5:16

We must buy up the opportunities we have before the night comes.

This is the day of opportunity. Our church took a survey of two thousand women in our community to find out what they were thinking, and how our women’s ministry could best meet their needs. Out of all of those interviewed, only a handful of women were hostile or refused to talk with us. We need to buy up these opportunities.

Colossians 4:5 tells us to walk in wisdom toward those who are “outside” – redeeming the time. Paul goes on to explain that in this wise walk our speech must be salty (there will be a tang to it) so that we may know how to answer every person. Redeeming the time means cultivating the “know-how” of argument and debate. Redeeming the time means that by our very lifestyle, we will engender some questions from others.

Once in a train full of rowdy, drunken football fans, a young Christian was sitting quietly, reading. An old gentleman, observing first the drunks and then the young man, said to him “You seem to have found the secret to life – do you want to share it?” Our young friend lost no time “redeeming the time”!

Paul even goes so far as to warn the married that “the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none”! (I Cor. 7:29). We must ask God for a great sense of urgency.

Please visit Just Between Us Magazine.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Worry and Prayer Can't Coexist

Dear Friends,

One paraphrase of 1 Peter 5:8 says “You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him for you are His personal concern.”

Prayer and worry cannot live together. You cannot worry and pray at the same time. Prayer is the place to let your anxieties go – to hand them off to someone else, someone well able to carry them for you. God!

It’s hard to throw the whole weight of our anxiety upon Him isn’t it? How do we do that?

When I’m traveling, which seems to be constantly, I carry a briefcase full of files and books with me. It’s heavy. When I’m on the road alone my back hurts by the end of the day. Often I’m with my husband, Stuart, or daughter, Judy, who hurry to take my briefcase to lift the load. I want to help so it’s not an extra burden for them. Sometimes I say, “Let’s both carry it. Let’s share it.” But the handle isn’t big enough and it doesn’t work. I’ve even been tempted to open the bag and take out some of the books to carry myself so it’s lighter for them! But their backs are strong and well able to carry the case while my back is hurting, unable to carry it. So I throw my burden gratefully into their hands! They always smile at me because they love me and are concerned.

Occasionally I refuse their kind offer of help. Why? For all sorts of reasons. I get to thinking they have their own burdens, and I should be able to carry a little briefcase filled with a few books. Or I begin to worry that they’ll dread having me along because I’m such a nuisance with my moving library! I always reap the consequences of carrying the stuff myself, when guilt, self-effort, pride, or stupidity lead me to refuse their helping hand.

I’m sure Stuart and Judy consider me very foolish when they are walking right beside me and are willing and able to help, but I insist on going it alone. I think God thinks we are very foolish, too, when He has told us to hand off our heavy issues to Him and we don’t. So don’t forget: God is your constant travel companion along life’s road. His back is big enough and strong enough for your case load of worries. And don’t be opening the bag and keeping a few books to carry for yourself to make it easier on Him. Throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him for you are His personal concern.

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine