Monday, July 26, 2010

Starting Something from Nothing

Dear Friends,

I happen to be a self-starter, so in a sense, I don’t know what it’s like to be in a situation where I can’t think of some sort of action to take if action is called for. However, I do spend a lot of my time believing other people into doing what they don’t believe they can do! So how does this work? How can those of us who are initiators help non-initiators to initiate? Let’s take the word START.

S stands for SEEING. Seeing what needs doing and starting to do what you can do, not what you can’t. Jesus watched a woman doing something for Him one day and simply said, “she did what she could!” I’m so glad He didn’t expect her to do what she couldn’t!

T stands for TRYING. “Have a go” as we say in England – even if you’re not gifted in that area. Most of us won’t try at all unless we think we can do whatever it is well. Trying means we may fail or succeed but, at least, if we fail, we will have succeeded at something. We will have succeeded at trying.

A stands for ASKING. Ask God to help you. Feeling inadequate is great – it means you have to depend on God. And if we have to depend on Him, we shall surely find Him adequate even if we’re not.

R stands for REGROUPING. Don’t be afraid to evaluate what you’ve started quite early on. “If a thing ain’t broke, don’t mend it,” the saying goes! But on the other hand, if things aren’t working out, be brave enough to ask yourself some hard questions. Questions like, “If we buried this ministry would anyone come to the funeral!?”

T stands for THANKING. Thank God for His presence in your heart by His Spirit. He started lots of things from nothing, and He can give you some inside information on how to do the same if He sees you’re really serious about meeting the needs of a lost and hurting world.

So if you are an initiator yourself, make sure you are helping others who are not initiators get started. And if you are someone who knows you’re not a self-starter, why not look for someone who is and ask her to help you to get going!

In His Joy,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, July 19, 2010

Handling The Storms Of Life

Dear Friends,

How do you handle the storms of life? How do I? Do we stride over them like Jesus did, or do we sink under them like Peter (Matthew 14:30)? There’s the conflict of church splits, or elders not supporting you. There’s the conflict in the ministry home when children act up and don’t follow the Lord.

There’s the inner conflict as we battle through spiritual issues, often without a trusted confidante. The winds of adversity can buffet us pretty badly, just as they buffeted the disciple’s little boat (vs. 24).

But then Jesus comes to us, just when we’re swamped and going down and says cheerfully, “take courage, it is I, don’t be afraid.” Then we have a choice to walk over it all in triumph with Jesus or look at the storm instead of the savior and drown.

As soon as we cry for help, we’ll feel His hand holding us. He’ll catch us – you’ll see – and then He’ll ask us, “Why did you doubt?” Conflict gives us a chance to know “His hand is not too shortened that it cannot save.”

I pray you remember, despite the winds and waves of panic within you, to obey Him.

Trusting Him,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Elements of Change

Dear Friends,

Say “change” and everyone freezes, screams, or leaves the church. Hardly anyone likes the word, concept, or process. We ministry leaders are perhaps the worst at coping with it, yet we are often subject to such a huge amount of the stuff!

If we serve in a pastorate, we might move every three to five years. And para-church and missionary ministries are often, by their very nature, mobile situations necessitating a flexible lifestyle. How well do we ‘go with the flow,’ or not drown in the flood of all the practical implications, plus the emotional traumas involved?

Whenever my husband and I are together, we check into our hotel room and I immediately busy myself emptying my entire suitcase into the hotel’s furniture.

“What on earth are you doing?” my husband inquires. “We’re only here overnight!”

“No matter,” I reply cheerily. “Let me ‘nest’ then I’m ready to face the challenge of the day!”

I think it’s this necessity to nest that gives me a clue as to my struggle with ‘change.’ Change interrupts my nesting habits – it intrudes into my comfort zone! I find I don’t want to throw myself into the opportunities that present themselves in a new place because “I’ll be moving on again soon, so why get involved?”

I have learned to fully live where I am by pretending I’ll be there forever! Otherwise I’d never get involved in projects (who will finish them?), or invest myself in someone’s life (it’s too painful saying goodbye), or bother joining anything (I hate leaving things unfinished!) and so on it goes.

Change, on the other hand, can be a tremendous catalyst for growth and blessing. What are the elements of this blessing? Let’s use an acrostic.

The elements of change are:

Challenge – All of us need one of these to get us out of our evangelical rut – which, as someone has aptly said, is really only a grave with the ends knocked out.

Humor – You need a sense of humor – it is absolutely necessary. Change gives you a chance to have a healthy laugh at life, yourself, and everybody else!

Anxiety – Anxiety engendered by change can give us a workshop in trust – something I need at least once a month. Every anxious thought gives me an opportunity to trust God in a way I perhaps never trusted Him before.

Newness – change gives me a new start – a clean page, a new chance to do it right this time.

Growth – Change forces growth in my experiences, ministry opportunities, and in personal skills.

Evaluation – Change forces me to evaluate my life. It makes me ask, “Where have I come from where am I now, and where am I going?”

I hope you will be encouraged to trust God with the many faces of change in your churches and the ministries you serve.

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fruitful Affliction

Dear Friends,

I recalled that 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 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 39:21) 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 Joy,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine