Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Learning to “go” where you are needed








Insights: Going First
2 Chronicles 34: 22 – 33, NCV

God’s punishment for Judah’s disobedience was inevitable.

The Lord could no longer tolerate the people’s blatant sinfulness. But King Josiah didn’t despair. He didn’t look for someone to blame. He rolled up his sleeves and led the people back into faithful, godly living. As he took on the challenge of a lifetime, we don’t hear any “woe is me” from the king.

But before he made new rules for others to follow, he promised the Lord that he’d do these right things himself. Step-by step Josiah showed people how it’s done.

What a great idea! You and I set our families in the right direction by our own example of doing the right thing with the right people at the right time for the right reason. By going first.


Excerpt taken from Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers

General Editor Bobbie Wolgemuth
Published by Thomas Nelson
For more please visit: Just Between Us

Monday, March 29, 2010

Just Go!

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

I think of this man every time Stuart and I take off around the world again. The man of Macedonia still calls! Ahead there are meetings galore, 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, the 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 a ministry 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 United Kingdom and then in the United States. Just go.


Once I get there, 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! By listening, the one talking realizes we are interested in them. In fact, that is the way they will believe we love them. Then after having a ministry of listening they will be willing to listen to us!


I am also learning to have a ministry of tears. And do you know something, that’s not hard! How much sorrow and trouble there is in our hurting world. How could we not be reduced to tears? We would need to have a swinging brick inside of 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.


It doesn’t mean there will be no teaching and training. I will be teaching “Ministry in the Life of Jesus,” Philippians, plus Ecclesiastes. I’ll tackle “How to Discern, Discover, and Do the Will of God,” “Women in the Life of Jesus,” and “How to Go Deeper with God,” and 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.


And so, friends, as you pray for God to allow these incredible opportunities of ministry presence and compassion to abound in your life, lean on the Holy Spirit to empower you with a heart full of His love so that you can truly listen, weep, and respond in His strength. Then those you are ministering to will be able to go out and do the same!


Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Finding a Heart Partner

By Jill Briscoe
All of us need friends. Some might say, well I’m married—and my husband is my best friend. I believe women need women friends, especially as we seek to serve Jesus –our best friend. Serving in church and missions brings stress and strain. Finding heart partners, or women friends, makes us better servants.

Over the years God has gifted me with many wonderful “heart partners” as I call my friends. Whatever would I have done without them? What sort of friends have I had? All sorts, shapes, ages, colors, nationalities, and sizes!

A friend of mine told me she has a shopping friend, a prayer friend, a fun friend, and a challenging friend who drags her along to all sorts of classes to stretch her mind. Sometimes you can get all these friends and more wrapped up in one friend - but not always.

I noticed David had two friends he was eternally grateful for. He had Jonathan and he had Nathan. Whatever else other friends bring into our lives, we all need the elements David found in these two friends.

Jonathan loved David as his own soul. David could do no wrong. Jonathan offered David his kingdom and said he would serve him. He almost worshipped David! We all need such unconditional love from a friend.

Nathan loved David too, but he showed his love by keeping David’s feet to the fire and not letting him get away with sin. “Thou art the man,” he said, after confronting David with his adultery with Bathsheba. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6). I thank God for the Jonathans and Nathans in my life—I am a better friend and servant because of them. Of course if you have friends you must be a friend first—it is a two way street this art of friendship.

“But how can I be a good friend?” you may ask. Let me use an acrostic.

Find a common interest and pursue it. Study together, Serve together. Have fun together. Laugh together. Learn a new skill.

Remember to be honest and open with each other. Make sure you can be trusted to keep secrets. Gossip kills friendship!

Intercede together. Nothing draws you closer than praying together - use the phone, e-mail, or snail mail.

Encourage each other when times are hard. Just “be there” when trouble comes. Have a ministry of quietness.

Nurture your friendship. Read a book a month and discuss it. Take a growth class at church. Serve together. Go on a mission’s trip. Serve a meal at the rescue mission. Listen a lot.

Discover God together. A test of friendship is to be quiet together! Try it!

All these things work in measure for long-distance friendships, too.

Finally, think of the friends you have had in the past. What happened? Maybe there are some sorrys to be said, or thank yous to be offered. Are there people in your life whose friendship was lost and could be renewed? When all is said and done, friends are too precious a commodity to loose for whatever reason. Life is too short to fall out with people.

If we will examine and evaluate our human friendships before God, He will be delighted to help us build better relationships. He who said He counted His disciples His friends, wants us to enjoy the gift of human friendship. He also knows how building our friendships will help us to be better friends with Him.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Honoring God with Your Purse

Dear Friends,

I married a bank inspector. When my bank account gets in a mess, I find the best thing to do is to open another account! So you can just imagine how interesting our marriage has been. Well, they do say opposites attract.

Having come from a home where I had money for everything I wanted as well as everything I needed, I found myself serving a youth mission and living with everything I needed, but no money for anything I wanted - a new experience for me!

Of course, I had already observed that in the affluent arena where I lived and moved and had my being that money “doesn’t do it”! However, I reckoned, if I just got more money there would be a level where I would have enough and find myself content. As Lee Iacocca, a famous wealthy man, once said when asked just how much was enough, “Just a little bit more than what you’ve got.” Another “doesn’t do it” philosophy.

The problem with our Western society is that the American hero tends to be the poor man that makes a bundle, rather than the rich man who voluntarily becomes poor for God or humanity’s sake. The greed need reigns. It is fed by advertising and lifestyles of the rich and famous. Most Christians may not be addicted to drink, drugs, or pornography, but we can be addicted to things - good things, nice things, expensive or cheap things. Jesus said that, “No man can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Lk. 16:13). We will find greed an unrelenting deity. There are no lasting returns. We will end up craving things we neither need nor enjoy once we have obtained them. Are we hooked on having?

Arthur Gish comments in Beyond the Rat Race, “We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like.” As Christians we have an added incentive to handle money well. Three of the things that can bring us down are money, sex, and power, and the devil tries to use one or all these devices to destroy ministries, marriages, and families. So be on your guard! The incentive we have is the honoring of our Lord Jesus Christ in all these areas.

I have found that the antidote to greed is generosity. We first practice generosity by giving ourselves away - our time, our energy, and our passion. Here are some ways that can help you breed generosity in your life:

Get involved with relief and development work or a missions project from your church. Try to go on a family missions trip to expose your children to poverty and how the developing world lives.

Study what the Bible says about helping the poor and relieving the oppressed. You can then make a list from the Scriptures about the warnings to those who allow things to have them instead of them having things.

Attend a lot of funerals. That’s a huge help. You can’t take it with you, you know. As Solomon said, “Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath.” Proverbs 11:4 says, “In the end the most valuable thing each of us possesses is the one life we have to live on earth.”

Read Philippians 2 once a week. That will keep your mind on the right track and on Him who was rich and yet for our sakes became poor that we through His poverty might become rich. We can follow His example by becoming more like Christ and serving Him who already purchased everything for us that has eternal value.

Money can’t buy all the things that last forever! Yet money can help people know about Jesus, who we know gives spiritual wealth beyond our wildest dreams. Must go and deal with my checkbook and be a good steward myself. I have decided I will be responsible for Jesus’ sake, and I won’t open another account!


Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cultivating a Thankful Heart

Dear Friends,

Do you want to do the will of God? Then “cultivate a thankful heart.” So often we think that doing the will of God means sacrifice, or going to a far-off culture with the gospel, or being persecuted, etc. The will of God can be all these things, but it will only be some of those things for some of us. Developing a thankful heart is the will of God for all of us who profess to love and serve Jesus.

My husband, Stuart, preaches a wonderful sermon called “the gratitude attitude.” I need to listen to it regularly. I find my rebel heart much more engaged with the “bratitute attitude.” Being discontent comes naturally to the race from Eden who weren’t content with paradise! Living with resentment is quite understandable in the sinner, but what part does it play in the lives of the redeemed? How can sinners saved by grace dare to whine and mutter their way through life? It all started in Eden when Eve, having bitten into the apple, began to whine about it being too sour, or not hard enough, or not as nice as a Granny Smith’s! Her dissatisfaction was catching and she hastened to find a recruit for her cause. Adam bit – and so it began.

I call it the G virus or the grumble germ. From the moment man moved outside the garden gate, grumpy human beings have grumbled their way through the centuries. And neither does it stop when we are lost to grace. The forces that tempted man at the dawn of ‘man time’ are the same forces that tempt us to be unthankful and resentful today. Satan still whispers, “If you can’t think of anything to whine about because you’re trying to cultivate a thankful heart, I’ll give you a hand. Have an apple!”

He tempts us to think we never have enough of anything or anybody. “You poor thing,” he hisses. “That husband of yours is always out looking after other people. He doesn’t have anything left for you! I’d complain if I were you. When he comes in tonight try pouting until he notices and then when he asks you what’s wrong say, ‘Nothing!’ Make him guess what’s wrong.” We whine about the fact that we don’t have enough money, or time for ourselves, our church, our friends. Have you noticed it’s not that we have nothing? It’s just that something in our hearts called the ‘greed need’ is telling us we would like just a little bit more! The devil is into this “little bit more” thing. Have you noticed nothing is ever enough? But then paradise wasn’t enough for Adam and Eve, so what’s new? Next time you hear the hiss of the snake in your garden, resist him and say “thank you Jesus” out loud – he will disappear in a hurry. The evil can’t stand being around thankful Christians. If you’re going to cultivate a thankful heart, try going to sleep singing hymns and spiritual songs. Allow the wind of His Spirit to grace you with a “gratitude attitude.”

Having traveled extensively in Third World countries these last years, I have been greatly convicted by the attitude of my sisters and brothers who live incredibly difficult lives with much to complain about. But what we would call hardship, they call inconvenience. While teaching in a restricted country where a knock on the door could mean imprisonment for daring to gather to study the Scriptures, I thought about all the whining we do in the West. We, who are drowning in our freedoms, comforts, and materialism get hardship and inconvenience mixed up. These people don’t! I asked the Lord to show me how to, like them, cultivate a thankful heart. Here are a few practical suggestions: Stop whining! Go on, you can do it; it’s a decisio. Count your blessings. Choose one blessing a day to thing about. Share something you are thankful about with your husband, parents, or friend. Write a personal note to someone you’ve never thanked for something. And Smile at God. That’s called praise!

And remember “a thank-you a day keeps the devil away!” He hates it when you’re thankful, but God loves it! Who do you want to please?

Happy day!

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine