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