Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Are you haunted by your past?

Inspiration for today from the Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (NKJV) http://www.nelsonbibles.com/bible.php?id=15:



Are you haunted by your past? Are you less accepting of other believers because of their pasts? Take a page from the apostle Paul. God can soften even the hardest heart. Continue to walk forward with Him, one step at a time.


Scriptures for Exploration


Witnessing—Acts 1:8, 21, 22; 1 Corinthians 1:18–31.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Busyness and time pressures are dramatically shaping our culture.

In today’s society, busyness and time pressures are dramatically shaping our culture. It can be difficult enough to get together for a family meal, let alone a daily Bible study.

Not only does our on-the-go mentality affect our family units, our academic and relational skills are hindered as well when we neglect positive influences in our lives such as the Bible. “Christian Book of the Year” award winner The Word of Promise™ New Testament Audio Bible and its companion DVD Study, 40 Days with The Word of Promise™, offer a way for people to experience the history and promises found in the entire New Testament in a mere 40 days.

Whether in the car, exercising, milling around the house, or relaxing, The Word of Promise™ New Testament Audio Bible is the perfect way to inspire listeners, encourage education, and strengthen family bonds in today’s fast-paced culture. Click here to experience clips: http://thewordofpromise.thomasnelson.com/cast/.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Will You Give Christ this Christmas?

Dear Friends,

It’s hard when you can’t get home to be with family for Christmas.

Jesus’ birthday was coming up. Christmas was just around the corner. “What should I give Him?” I wondered. I thought about flowers and suddenly that triggered a vivid memory of a meeting in Singapore, where a veteran missionary had shared an experience on the mission field. It was to do with trying to get home, not for Christmas, but for his mother’s 90th birthday. Because of a crisis, and the primitive circumstances in which he worked (he had a leadership role in the mission) it was impossible to get away. It broke his heart.

“That must have hurt,” I pondered as I listened to him. How difficult both for him and his mother. It hurts so badly when those we love can’t get home for the holidays. Well, I thought, at least Jesus will be home for Christmas this year! He wasn’t always able to make it. For 33 years it was impossible. He had a leadership role in a mission!

The missionary told us how he had the idea of sending his mother ten roses each hour of her birthday till she had received all 90. A “thank you” note was tied to each rose, and a card sent with the first batch of ten. It said: “How do I love you, let me count the ways.” Then he thought of 90 ways he loved his mother and attached a different thank you to every rose!

“I’ll do that, “I decided. So I bought a big bunch of roses, went to the Deep Place where nobody goes and sat down on the steps. If I stayed still enough I could hear angels singing carols – practicing. Pretty.

“Hello,”

I jumped. “Oh! Hello, I thought I’d get ahead of the rush.”

He looked at the roses in my hands and I resisted the urge to give Him the whole bunch at once and return to the mall to continue my shopping.

I began taking the roses one by one and, carefully attaching a message to each, I said loudly, so He could hear me: “How do I love Thee, let me count the ways,” and then I began to count them. I wanted above all to thank Him for being willing “not” to get home for Christmas for 33 years.

He sat there – relaxed and He looked serious and focused. He accepted each offering into His hands – I tried not to look at the scars. (I hate that.)

“I love you for sitting on the steps with me in the Deep Place where nobody goes,” I began, handing Him a flower. “And I love it that you always follow me up the steps and remind me you are there in the shallow places where everyone lives – even though I forget you’re there in all the commotion.

“And I love you for coming to earth and walking straight into my heart – and making this woman yours forever. And oh how I love you for becoming poor so I could become rich beyond measure. Yes, yes, Lord, that I through your poverty could become rich! I love you, I love you, I love you!”

Rose by rose I thanked Him, telling Him all the ways I loved Him, and then the bunch of flowers was in His hands and mine were empty. I cried – happy grateful tears, and watched in amazement as each tear became a rose petal strewn at His feet.

He bent down, holding my roses carefully, gathering my flowers of love and thankfulness into His scarred hands, saying quietly, “Not one of these shall fall to the ground.” Then He looked at me with eyes so full of love I thought I would die. Then He was gone.

I heard the church bells ringing then, and knew I had to return to the shallow places where everyone lives. I did so reluctantly, knowing the party was about to begin. Christmas was coming!

This Christmas season why don’t you think about what bouquet of roses you can bring to your Savior?!

In His Joy,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Many people are seeking hope.

In today’s society many people are seeking hope. Academy Awards® winners Jon Voight, Richard Dreyfuss, Marcia Gay Harden, Lou Gossett, Jr., and hundreds of other actors have joined together to create The Word of Promise® Audio Bible, a dramatic audio theater production that offers hope and inspiration to listeners. After three years of production, the 90+ hour project helps to connect listeners to the Word in a new and exciting way. Click here to listen to sample clips from this award-winning cast http://thewordofpromise.thomasnelson.com/cast/.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Think about your relationship with Christ.

Inspiration for today from the Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (NKJV) http://www.nelsonbibles.com/bible.php?id=15:

You’ve probably met people who attend church regularly but are unmoved by the preaching of God’s Word. Their attendance seems more of a social obligation than a means for sharing and being enriched with God’s Word. Is that how life is for you or your family? Think about your relationship with Christ. Does it have a true and real meaning? Make your goal next Sunday to worship God through active participation and listening.

Scriptures for Exploration

Acceptance—Judges 11:3; Luke 4:24; 9:1–6.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Handling Grief at Christmas

by Lynda Elliott

My personal grief

My father died at noon on a Christmas day when I was 20 years old, so I can understand why people grieve during the holiday season. Although my father had been ill for several years, I felt the bizarre combination of shock, loss, and relief. I even felt joy because he was finally out of pain and with Jesus. During the next few months, those emotions constantly bounced around inside of me until I felt like my mind was playing the old children’s game of Fruit Basket Turn Over. One day, I was able to feel joyful, the next, I grieved, the next I felt totally lost.

Late on that Christmas afternoon, my husband and I returned to our apartment. When I opened the door I heard joyful voices singing, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas!” In our haste, we had left the Christmas music playing. The colorful lights on our tree were cheerfully twinkling, seeming to mock my father’s death. “How could anybody die on Christmas day?” I asked myself. Everything felt surreal. I felt a little crazy, but later I learned that my feelings were the normal responses to shock and grief.

Until my father died, I had not experienced the death of anyone close to me. I had no idea how to bear grief. I was expecting another baby to be born in a month, so I decided to ignore my grief and pretend that my father was still alive until our son was born. That sounds a little crazy, but I know now that it was the only way I could temporarily cope. However, when our son was born, I had to finally face the loss of my father and learn how to bear grief.

Your grief

I know that many people are experiencing loss at this time of year, especially. For example, you may have been divorced since the last Christmas or one of your sons or daughters may be at war or a friendship may have been broken over the last year. Perhaps it’s health problems that have robbed you of many activities that were common to your life before this year or someone you love may have died.

Grief is an experience that is common to everyone. Nobody who has ever lived on this earth has been able to avoid it, but it often comes to us when we least expect it. We can easily be overwhelmed and stuck in grief for years, if we do not have some understanding of it.

Getting Through Grief

Since my father died, I have learned three things that have helped me deal with grief.

1. Grief usually comes in waves, which lasts about 20 to 30 minutes.

The body cannot sustain such strong grieving for much longer than that. After my father died, I had been afraid that such strong grief would just consume me. I feared that my grief would drag me down into a dark hole and I would never be able to come out again.

When I found out that the waves had a limit, I felt safe to let go, to cry, or talk or write my feelings down. In the months that followed, the grief waves also came less and less. I learned that the Holy Spirit is the God of all comfort (2 Cor.1:1-3) and I learned to ask Him to enter those grief waves with me. He did and He brought comfort. The grief hurt, but I wasn’t nearly as afraid.

2. Emotions don’t know time and space.

Memories are stimulated through the senses. For example, you may hear a familiar song that takes you emotionally back to a very sad place. The smell of potpourri may cause you to think of familiar previous family rituals that can no longer occur. The sight of a Christmas ornament can remind you of people who are no longer alive.

A few years after my father died, an uncle came to visit us. As I hugged him, I smelled Old Spice cologne, which had been my father’s favorite. Suddenly, I felt like a helpless 20-year-old whose heart had just been broken. I didn’t know how to come forward emotionally and I got stuck in a miserable emotional state that Christmas.

Now I remind myself to pay attention to my senses before each holiday season begins. I begin to say to myself, “That was then and this is now.” I learned to pause between the stimuli and my response. I began to practice enjoying what I have “now,” rather than automatically letting myself move emotionally backward in my mind. I have learned to celebrate the season for what it is “right now” in my life, remembering the birth of Jesus, counting the ways His birth has brought blessings and joy into my life.

This was a discipline that I had to practice and, year by year, this process has helped me live in the present.

3. Confine and assign time to your feelings

We don’t need to ignore our feelings altogether, but it’s helpful to deliberately make a time and place for them.

I began to set aside a period of time to think about my father. Sometimes I wrote about him in a journal. Other times I talked about him to my children, sometimes I lit a Christmas candle and gave thanks for him. I also looked through a scrapbook of my childhood. However, I placed a time limit on my grief and nostalgia.

I had to exercise my will to do this, making a decision to invest most of my energy into the family members who were still with me, serving friends and strangers who had needs. I invested my energy more and more into serving than grieving, and creating new memories, rather than looking back.

Years from now, you may find yourself writing or telling your grief story. Your pain will be less, because you will have experienced the Lord’s comfort. You will have also practiced the process of grieving. You will know that every day is a new day. Every day will train you to help others in grief, just as our Lord promised.

There’s no doubt that the holidays can be a sad time for those of us who are experiencing loss. But with God’s strength and grace, He can help us make it through the sadness finding peace and healing that is found in Him –The Prince of Peace. Jesus continues to seek and find us at Christmas, bringing hope to our hurting hearts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.

Dear Friends,

Here in Egypt there are many graves to see. You can, of course, start with the pyramids, the tombs of the Pharaohs. The world wonders at these wonders – these monuments to lives so shortly lived, whose magnificent artifacts are displayed in the nations’ museums. Many precious objects were sealed in the tombs of these kings to accompany the monarch on his journey to the afterlife. Thousands of years later they are still here! They went nowhere. Sadly, the same is true of the Pharaohs. Furthermore, their deaths also meant death for many people who, along with the precious objects, were also sealed in the Pyramids to accompany the kings. Most of these famous Pharaohs died in their teenage or early adulthood and in their deaths, the Pharaohs took life.

But, the pyramids are not the tombs I want to talk about. Today we were pilgrims to two other tombs. While here in Cairo, Egypt, my husband Stuart and I visited the graves of Oswald Chambers (1874 – 1917) and Bill Borden (1887 – 1913). You can “Google” both names and read more, but in summary they were two brilliant young men, one from the U.K. and one from America, who had one thing in common. They both lived short lives, but unlike the Pharaohs, they left life with no reserves, no retreats, and no regrets. To their graves they took not objects of pottery or precious stones, or the corpses of slaves or wives, but glory and heavenly treasure – the precious souls of men. In their deaths, they gave life.

Both these young men were privileged to benefit from the top scholastic training of their nations. Both came to Christ in their youth. Chambers struggled with boredom reading the Bible even after his conversion. Finally, after four years of “spiritual dryness,” Chambers realized he couldn’t force himself to be holy. He came to see that the strength, peace, and transformation that he was looking for was Christ Himself. The secret was in the “exchanged life” – Christ’s life in exchange for his sin. He experienced a revival of grace in his heart and described it as “radiant, unspeakable emancipation.” (1)

Then came the First World War. Chambers became a chaplain for the YMCA and was assigned to Zeitoun, Egypt, where he ministered to Australian and New Zealand troops that were later part of the disastrous battle of Gallipoli. Many met Christ through Chambers.

On November 15, 1917, he suffered a ruptured appendix. In extreme pain, he refused a bed in the hospital that was overrun with wounded soldiers, allowing them to be treated first. It took him three days to die. Standing by his grave, I paid a spiritual tribute to this man whose life and writings have enriched my life and the lives of thousands.

I thought about his education in art, archeology, and English literature. Some would say, “What a waste of a life!” But there is nothing wasted in the economy of God. From this heritage of learning he became a wordsmith for God, making every day count. He died so young, but at exactly the right age. For God says that “our days are numbered.” If we will commit our lives to him, He will work through us to bring people to heaven and God’s Church will be revived. No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.

This first grave of Chambers was beautifully kept. Not so the second. A very different sight met our eyes as we went in. A sister from the convent next door had a key and let us into the cemetery. Here the graves had been forgotten. This was not a war cemetery as the other, but a small rectangle with very old graves of American citizens. In a corner, under debris and weeds, we found the flat gravestone of Bill Borden.

From a Chicago high school to Yale, Bill Borden (heir to the Borden Dairy estate) put his love for the Lord into a lifestyle that, as his diary recounted, summed up his life. That entry said simply, “Say ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to Jesus every time.” (2)

As a young man travelling the world, Borden knew God was calling him to serve hurting people. On hearing Borden’s missionary plans, one friend commented that he was surely throwing his life away. In response, Bill wrote two words in the back of his Bible: “No reserves.”

At Yale he began a prayer time that ended up affecting the entire campus. By the time Bill Borden was a senior, 1,000 of Yale’s 1,300 students were meeting in Bible study groups. He also founded Yale Hope Mission and ministered to drunks from the lower parts of the city streets.

Borden’s heart turned to China and the Muslin Kansu people. Upon graduation from Yale, Borden turned down some high-paying job offers and headed for Princeton seminary. In his Bible, he wrote two more words: “No retreats.” From here he sailed for China. Because he was hoping to work with Muslims, he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted spinal meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.

The story of his death was carried by nearly every American newspaper. “A wave of sorrow went round the world… Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice,” wrote Mary Taylor in her introduction to his biography.

Is there such a thing as an untimely death? Not in God’s economy. Not in God’s plan. Prior to his young death, Borden had written two more words in his Bible. Underneath the words “No reserves” and “No retreats,” he had written: “No regrets.”

So what impacted me as I stood in the heat of Cairo today and looked at that old, flat gravestone with those words engraved across its face? First, I realized how privileged I have been to live such a long life for God. Then, I was gripped with a necessary urgency. While I still have time, I want to reach the next generation with the challenge and message of these two lives. And thirdly, I want to pass on the words God has taught me about our interior life in Him. For words are weapons for good or ill, and in the hands of the Spirit, words can be honed and polished and winged to many a heart – as Chambers and Borden’s have done!

Oswald Chambers and Bill Borden had no way of knowing how long they had on this little spinning planet – nor do we. May each and every day be lived as our last for Him with no reserves, no retreats, no regrets.



Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Simply Relevant

The Simply Relevant series makes it easy to introduce others to Jesus--and strengthen lifelong relationships with him. Each session begins with a fun snack and time to mingle, and then women experience an activity that leads to an intriguing study.

Discover how relevant God's Word is to our lives today--no matter who you are or where you are in life. Simply Relevant is great for those who have never studied the Bible, and it’s packed with new insights for those who have studied for years.

Studies include all the Scripture you need for each session. There are six books in the series, with topics including finding joy in life’s ups and downs, grace, patience, spiritual refreshment, self-control, and steadiness in God.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Inspiration from Lucado Life Lessons

Inspiration for today from the Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (NKJV) http://www.nelsonbibles.com/bible.php?id=15:


Have you ever found refuge or support in an unexpected place? Have problems resolved themselves in ways you didn’t expect? Ask God today to make you the unexpected solution to someone else’s problem— God’s miracle channel.

Scriptures for Exploration

God’s Will—2 Chronicles 18:28–33; Esther 4:13, 14; Acts 16:6.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Are You a Faithful Giver?

Dear friends,

For they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood. ~ Mark 12:44


“Americans are so gullible,” a rescue mission supervisor told me. “Did you hear about the man who went out and raised two hundred dollars in half an hour from people on the street by telling them he was collecting for ‘The Unknown Soldier’s Widow’?” I confessed I hadn’t heard about it, but I wondered if it were true.

I thought about the money that I gave away to charity. Gullible giving is not God’s way. Guidelines have been given to us. Tithes first – 10 percent of all our income. This is His. We touch it not, lest we be guilty of thievery – robbing divinity is a heinous crime! Offerings next. “Nor will I not offer… to the Lord My God with that which costs me nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24), said David. What say you? Think of the widow. She only had two mites. She could have thought that two mites were too little to give. But Jesus didn’t think so. He knew that casting in all your livelihood makes you rich with much more valuable coinage than can come from any earthly mint.

Spastic generosity, triggered by nerves, touched off by impassioned please of poverty, or doled out to starving unfortunates pictured in scraggy photographs, is not the best help we can give. Careful accounting of our budget – as if we were handling someone else’s funds – is the way to go. After all, we are merely stewards, and as the Good Book reminds us, “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2).

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Moms in the Bible

Moms in the Bible
The Mother Who Fears the Lord;
Children Who Love God, Too


Are there those who respect the Lord? . . . They will enjoy a good life, and their children will inherit the land. (25:12–13) Some Sunday morning take a look at the parents at your church. How engaged are they in the service? Do they look like they’re enthralled with God’s holy presence? Then, the next time you’re at a big ball game, look around at the parents in the stands. How engaged are these people in what’s going on? Or what if a famous person happened to be seated in the stands? Wouldn’t there be a buzz? An electricity in the air?

Maybe the above comparisons aren’t fair, but the point is well taken. Our children are watching what we do. If our kids observe us excitedly talking about our favorite athletic team, or enthusiastic over a celebrity, they’ll begin to believe that sports or fame are worth serious attention. If we get fired up reading about the stock market over breakfast, they’ll get the idea that making money is a big deal. And if they see us sleepily checking our watches or mumbling our way through the hymns during a church service, they’ll decide that knowing God is about as exciting as waiting in a doctor’s office.

It’s likely that your children will be influenced by the passions you demonstrate in front of them. David asks, “Are there those who respect the Lord?” (25:12). Where are the parents who love being in God’s presence, who can’t wait to enjoy their heavenly Father’s nearness? When you find them, look at their kids. Chances are they’ll be easy to spot. They are the children who will inherit what’s truly important.

The excerpt above is found in the pages of the Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers, with General Editor, Bobbie Wolgemuth.

Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers gives women an awareness of just how precious and vital they are in God’s plan for the family.
Available in the New Century Version and drawing on solid Bible teaching, it encourages women at every stage of life to strengthen their relationship with God. A perfect gift for Christmas, birthdays, or whenever it’s time to say “thank you” to a special mom. To experience the Mom’s Bible for yourself and receive a free download visit www.momsbible.com.

Inspiration for today

Inspiration for today from the Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (NKJV) http://www.nelsonbibles.com/bible.php?id=15:

Is there anyone you are not willing to tell about Jesus? Is there any place you are not willing to take the Good News? Ask God to give you the willingness and the courage. Let him direct you where he wants, not where you want.

Scriptures for Exploration

Witnessing—Acts 13:46, 47; Romans 1:14–16; 10:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 15:1–4; Galatians 2:7–9; 2 Timothy 1:8; 1 Peter 1:23–25

Monday, December 6, 2010

Our God Is Better Than Anything Else

“One day in the courtyards of your Temple is better than a thousand days anywhere else.”
(84:10)


These psalmists knew that spending time in the presence of the Lord was time better spent than doing anything else. Do we also believe that? They knew that there was true value in being a faithful follower of the Lord, even if it meant just standing at the Temple door as a servant. Do we agree?

When we spend our time in church, worshiping God, talking to Him, praising Him, listening to Him, and serving Him, our days have eternal meaning and joy. The same happiness is available when little ones learn to worship (verses 3–4). Ask the Lord for a perspective like that of the sons of Korah. It’s what will really make you happy. “I want more than anything to be in the courtyards of the Lord’s Temple. My whole being wants to be with the living God” (Psalm 84:2).

The excerpt above is found in the pages of the Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers, with General Editor, Bobbie Wolgemuth.

Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers gives women an awareness of just how precious and vital they are in God’s plan for the family.

Available in the New Century Version and drawing on solid Bible teaching, it encourages women at every stage of life to strengthen their relationship with God. A perfect gift for Christmas, birthdays, or whenever it’s time to say “thank you” to a special mom. To experience the Mom’s Bible for yourself and receive a free download visit www.momsbible.com.

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Featuring a star-studded cast of over 600 actors, original music score, and incredible feature film quality sound effects. Experience the Scriptures like you’ve never experienced them before – brought to life and dramatized in a way that will fully immerse you in the experience and leave you wanting more.

Feel like you’re really there with Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Listen in your car, on your MP3 player, or with your family to gain a new perspective of the Bible. Click here to experience a clip from the Word of Promise Audio Bible http://thewordofpromise.thomasnelson.com/cast/.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

He Is Kind and Merciful

Insights

He Is Kind and Merciful

Psalm 103:1–5


Our children need to know of God’s mercy, kindness, and goodness. And they need to hear words from our lips, thanking the One who forgives our sins, heals us, saves us, blesses us, satisfies us, and renews us. In everyday conversations, we can respond to little kindnesses of the Lord with, “Isn’t God amazing?” or “Thank You, Lord!” as naturally as we say “Good morning” to our children.

We can choose between two attitudes—either arrogance (thinking that our accomplishments are because of something we muster up on our own) or humility (realizing every breath we take is because of God’s mercy). Nothing we’ve ever done can ever make us worthy of the incredible love of God. Because a mother’s attitude is picked up by her children, let them hear you praise the Lord. He is kind. He is very kind.

The excerpt above is found in the pages of the Mom’s Bible: God’s Wisdom for Mothers, with General Editor, Bobbie Wolgemuth.

Mom’s Bible
: God’s Wisdom for Mothers gives women an awareness of just how precious and vital they are in God’s plan for the family.

Available in the New Century Version and drawing on solid Bible teaching, it encourages women at every stage of life to strengthen their relationship with God. A perfect gift for Christmas, birthdays, or whenever it’s time to say “thank you” to a special mom. To experience the Mom’s Bible for yourself and receive a free download visit www.momsbible.com.