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