Monday, May 31, 2010

You Can Make a Difference

Dear Friends,

Not long ago, I was engaging a fellow traveler in conversation and didn't seem to be getting anywhere. A little voice in my soul kept saying, “Tell him about hell.” I didn't want to, so I kept majoring on heaven. “Maybe I can get him into the kingdom and then let him read the small print later,” I suggested to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was not amused.

So I took a deep breath and told him the whole truth and nothing but the truth as it is in Jesus. He looked at me amazed and asked incredulously, “You believe in hell in this day and age?”

“I have no alternative,” I replied. “Jesus talked more about hell than heaven.”

“Oh,” he responded. “We don't believe in hell in our subdivision!”

Now it was my turn to be incredulous. “How do you know what people in your subdivision believe? It doesn't sound as if you sit around shooting the breeze about religion,” I said.

He backed down and an amazing thing happened. As we got down to the nuts and bolts of the gospel, his interest deepened, and I believe God was able to make an eternal difference in his heart.

We can make an eternal difference in someone’s life by introducing them to Christ. That is the first thing. Then we can make an eternal difference by nurturing them to maturity, because they will then make an eternal impact by leading someone else to Christ! Then we can make an eternal difference by our prayers.

The Bible is pretty clear about how we can change lives for eternity. Being faithful to tell everyone the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is our mandate. So we must have unfailing trust in the truth of the power of the Spirit, applied to the human dilemma, and be faithful to share that true truth with our skeptical world. The Bible is a two-edged sword whatever people think they believe about it. Wield it, and they will feel its sharp edge.

Second, we can make an eternal difference in someone else's life if we invest in the nurturing of a man or woman, boy or girl, once they have become a Christian. One of the first things that the girl who led me to faith taught me how to do was this very thing. “Its no good bringing a new baby Christian into the world and then leaving him or her on the doorstep,” she said.

So she showed me the verse that says newborn babies need to drink a lot of milk so they can grow, and then she showed me how to mix the formula (1 Pet. 2:2-3).

“But I’m such a new Christian myself,” I whined.

“This will help you grow up in a hurry,” she answered cheerfully. She was right!

“All you need to do is stay one step ahead of them,” she advised.

So I tried to be faithful to disciple the people I was leading to Christ, and 'oh the joy' one day when one of the girls in my university group made an eternal difference by leading her first person to Christ! I showed her how to mix the formula, and she went happily on her way to make an eternal difference all over again.

There is a third way you and I can make an eternal difference. Prayer. Guess what? You don't even have to get up off your knees to make an eternal difference in someone else's life! If there is a failure of nerve in the Scriptures, and a benign neglect of the newborn in our churches, there is certainly a criminal absence of prayer.

Prayer, intercession particularly, demands discipline and endurance. Two words that none of us appreciate. If we are going to make our lives count for eternity, then we need to be on our knees with our face to the 'Rising Son!" all day, every day. Not that we can literally be in that posture because there is work to be done, families to be cared for, and ministries to be engaged in, but we can surely be' there' metaphorically as we go about our daily duties.

Making an eternal difference is what the Christian should be about. That is the reason we are left here after our conversions, otherwise God would take us immediately to heaven the moment we come to faith!

Spend a little time thinking about the people who made an eternal difference in your life and then spend time in prayer asking God to renew your fervor for evangelism and discipleship. And remember, don't major on one at the expense of the other. Be an eternal balanced blessing to your family, your church, and your world!


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, May 24, 2010

Blessed to be a Blessing

By Cindee Re

After I turned 30, I decided it was time to read the Bible – the whole Bible, cover-to-cover, Genesis through Revelation, no matter how long it took.

Excited and often challenged by what I was learning, I eagerly shared my new knowledge with my husband, who wasn’t nearly as interested in listening as I was in speaking, but who patiently endured until I broached the subject of tithing.

“Is that 10% of gross or net?” he asked, slightly annoyed.

“Gross,” I replied. “I’m pretty sure God comes before taxes.”

“Do you have any idea how much money that is?”

Well, no, actually I didn’t. The conversation quickly ended with, “You can give as much to church each week as we spend on entertainment – twenty dollars. That’s it.” It wasn’t a tithe, but it was a start.

Months later, my husband walked through the front door with a large cardboard box in his arms. “I lost my job today,” he said. “It’s time we started tithing.”

“What? Your job? You want to tithe now?” I could barely speak.

“Yes, now, off my severance check.” I think I stopped breathing. I definitely couldn’t believe what I was hearing. We had no income, no insurance, two young sons, and a baby daughter on the way. What a time to test God! Yet that’s exactly what my husband was doing. Like Gideon in the Old Testament, my husband needed assurance – tangible, unmistakable proof that God is as good as His Word, and for him there was no better time to begin. So my husband threw out his fleece – ten percent of his severance check – and waited.

God’s response was immediate and abundant, if somewhat overwhelming. Unexpected refund and rebate checks began arriving in our mailbox, so many of them that we wondered what God would possibly do next. We continued to tithe off every dollar that came in, and it didn’t take us long to discover that we simply couldn’t out-give God. The more we gave, the more He poured into our laps, “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over” (Lk. 6:38). We were hooked. God is absolutely as good as His Word.

Over the years, we’ve learned that tithing wasn’t the ultimate object of that lesson, Biblical giving was. Second Corinthians 8:14 says, “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality.” That’s why we give! God gives to us so that we can give to others. We are blessed to be a blessing. We are simply conduits of God’s grace, mercy, and abundant love to others. Giving isn’t about a set percent, and it’s not about what we can do, but about what God can and will do through us when we’re willing.

“’Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’” Malachi 3:10.

So go ahead, test the Lord and see what He will do.We dare you!

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Monday, May 17, 2010

It's Time For An Attitude Check

By Cindee Re

I awoke to a dismal, rainy, gray morning. I usually don’t mind the weather, enjoying the variety of our mid-western climate, but this morning it absolutely annoyed me. I felt frustrated as soon as I stepped out of bed.

I knew I was tired. It had been a long five weeks of sickness in our house. My oldest daughter had been hospitalized briefly because she lost the feeling in and partial function of her left leg, which thankfully reversed itself after a week. That left four days until my husband’s shoulder surgery, four relatively quiet days for me to finally come down with the virus plaguing my family.

I knew God had kept me healthy through the days I was most needed, so I trusted Him to handle the details of the next four days as well. By Tuesday morning, I wasn’t well, but improved enough to take my husband to the hospital. His surgery went well, and by week’s end we’d all settled into a bit more normal routine. Saturday I awoke frustrated by life, and grumbling aloud to God, “Why does everything have to be so hard sometimes.”

Throughout the morning, the Apostle Paul’s words rang in my ears, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am!” (Rom. 7:21-24)

I felt as wretched as Paul. I didn’t want to be short-tempered, frustrated, and annoyed, and I didn’t want my words to hurt the ones I love, but they did.

Too often I fail to be the wife and mother my family desires and deserves. They try to be patient and understanding. They know the pain and frequent nausea, resulting from an accident four years ago, often causes my quietness, impatience, and frustration, and they’re right, but that’s a reason, not an excuse. God doesn’t excuse my attitudes because of what He’s allowed in my life.

He’s allowed my injury for a reason, and He’ll use it if I’ll let Him, but there’s the rub. God knows I can’t struggle through this on my own, and He doesn’t expect me to. Instead, He asks me to take every thought captive to Christ, to lean on Him, because His grace is sufficient for me, His power made perfect in my weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)

God wants me to do life with Him, through Him, in Him, for then He can redeem the pain, limitations, and even my attitudes for the glory of His Kingdom.

Father, teach me to willingly surrender to Your will. Grant me courage to take up my cross daily and follow You, for then my life will honor and glorify You, and whatever You allow will be well worth the cost. May I learn to walk worthy. Amen.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Just Between Us Magazine Daily Quote

Future grace is glorified by intense and joyful confidence. This faith is what frees us and empowers us for venturesome obedience in the cause of Christ.

~ John Piper

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Just Between Us Magazine Daily Quote

Somehow we must reorient our lives to God. We must learn to see things from his perspective. We must allow Him to develop His character in us. We must let Him reveal His thoughts to us. Only then can we get a proper perspective on life.

~ Henry T. Blackaby

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Just Between Us Magazine Daily Quote

To anyone in any kind of suffering, Jesus Christ has earned the right to say, "Come unto me...bring your pain here to me. Together we will find a way to make use of it. I am your Redeemer. We will not waste a single tear."

~ Eugenia Price

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Let My Heart Be Broken

by Cindee Re

“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God,” wrote Mother Teresa in the flyleaf of her Bible.

Her words have challenged me for years. When I first read them, I thought of world hunger, corrupt governments, AIDS orphans, terrorism, and disease, but my view has broadened to include my neighbors who have recently experienced divorce, my mother-in-law’s loneliness, the frustration of a friend struggling with her wayward child, the weariness of a mom who patiently, tenderly cares for her special needs child, the hopelessness of another caught in addiction.

Sometimes I feel helpless in the midst of all this brokenness.

Saturday afternoon, I received a call from a neighbor disabled by Parkinson’s Disease. She’d recently had a mastectomy, and called to tell me her husband, her primary caregiver, had just had surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor. My heart broke.

I offered meals and scheduled a work day to help keep up with their yard. It’s a short-erm solution. They need so much more help than we can give.

That evening, a friend called, pouring out her heart over a loved one’s struggle with addiction. “How do you help someone who doesn’t want help?” my friend sobbed. I don’t know. I only know that God is bigger than brain tumors and breast cancer and Parkinson’s, bigger than addiction and AIDs, bigger than our limited ability to help, and any solutions we can offer.

We want so often in our fast-food, drive-thru, easy-answer, instant-gratification culture to diagnose a problem and find an immediate solution. Sometimes, however, there are no easy answers, no quick solutions.

As I sat across the table from a friend recently, I thought, “She’s so strong. She tries to find the humor in what she’s going through, but her eyes speak what her words don’t.” It reminded me of the last lines of a poem I wrote in college entitled, Veiled Expressions: “Vermeer captures only what he sees,/And then her soul/Bleeds through to stain/Her likeness on his canvas.” My friend’s soul bled through her strong fa├žade, and broke my heart.

Perhaps it isn’t always what we can do, but how much we can love. Perhaps it’s more about walking with others through the pain than finding a solution for the pain. Perhaps it’s just our presence that soothes some of their brokenness. Perhaps that’s what keeps us from building another Tower of Babel. If we could solve all the problems, we wouldn’t need God. We would be God.

Father, keep us humble and mindful of who we are. Remind us that we don’t need to have all the answers, for You do. There is nothing we experience that You do not know completely. There is nothing that is out of Your control. Teach us to accept our finite limitations, and to rely on You, and You alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Just Between Us Magazine Daily Quote

...Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your work in the Lord is never wasted.

~1 Corinthians 15:58

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Passing It On: A Time of Stillness

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2 Peter 3:9

God is not in a hurry. He knows exactly who He is and what He’s doing. Frenzy and chaos are not His companions. Like a performer spinning multiple plates at the ends of long sticks, you’re a hard-working mother balancing multiple roles at once. The whole concept of slowing down runs counter to your reality, doesn’t it?

“Think of how I can help God if I’m living at high speed,” you might rationalize. “After all, isn’t God better served by industrious wives and moms who race through life with the accelerator pressed to the floorboard?”

No, actually, He isn’t. God is not frantically looking for volunteers to do His work hoping for some help. He’s not wringing His hands, wishing that we would do what He cannot without us. Our task as His disciples is a fairly simple one. Pleasing Him is simply a choice we want to embrace.

“Do your best to be without sin and without fault,” the apostle Peter urges. “Try to be at peace with God” (3:14, NCV). We need to stop racing and take time to rest. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NCV). Be still? It’s not a suggestion. It’s a directive and it’s for our good.

Look at us—we’re under so much pressure that the veins in our necks are bulging. Our to-do list is so long that it drags the floor. We need to slow down. We must slow down. God is better served by a woman who takes time to reflect. He is looking for a woman who draws strength from her heavenly Father and listens to His promptings. A woman who thinks God’s thoughts and knows the individual needs of each member of her family. This woman is willing to give valuable time to her husband, children, and friends, not just brief moments on the fly.

She will be a woman who is able to serve her family when she meditates on what honors the Lord. Does this seem impossible? Take a deep breath. Ask the Lord to quiet your heart as you carve out time to reflect on Him. Then listen to what He says to you. “If you will be calm and trust me, you will be strong” (Isaiah 30:15, NCV).

Excerpt taken from Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers
General Editor Bobbie Wolgemuth
Published by Thomas Nelson

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Just Between Us Magazine Daily Quote

We cannot always trace God’s hand, but we can always trust God's heart.

~ C.H. Spurgeon

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Comparison Trap

Dear Friend,

“Oh, Lord,” I breathed as I sat on the platform at a meeting. “Look at that chic speaker three chairs down. Why did I wear beige? They won’t be able to see me against the curtains!”

I’ve always struggled with comparisons. I had a sister I adored and I wanted to be just like her. I had a friend with cute freckles on her nose and I wanted freckles too. I played tournament tennis and I wanted to perfect my backhand and make it look like my Wimbledon idol.

It didn’t help when I became a Christian either. In fact it grew worse. I looked around the new friends I had made and found an inordinate desire to walk like them, talk like them, witness like them, pray like them, and know the Bible like them. It was a trap?a comparison trap- and this little church mouse was caught securely in it.

Half of the problem was my own insecurity. Another piece of my problem was a sincere desire to be the very best for God, and when I saw someone doing that, I tried to copy her. Comparisons usually lead to copying and that is not all bad if you copy the principles and not the particulars.

You can’t copy spiritual gifts, however, even if you have gifts in the same area. God has made us uniquely and intends for each of us to be ourselves. Escaping the comparison trap is a question of being sure of your own identity.

The most freeing thought for me has been, “If I were them, who’d be me?” Why would God make me one of a kind if He wanted me to try being a clone? Over the years, I’ve noted that the worst group for falling into the comparison trap is ministry wives who find themselves following a perfect predecessor. No matter what, just smile and insist on being you!

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine