Monday, May 28, 2012

Broken Dreams


Dear Friends,

One of our own children had a difficult time conceiving.  I suddenly found myself wanting to be a grandmother more than anything else in the world!  I was glad of the feelings I began to experience on our children’s behalf, because it helped me to understand a little of their deep struggle.  Suddenly it seemed that everyone around us was getting pregnant and having babies – and I was buying shower gifts for others’ celebrations!  Everywhere we looked we saw babies.  The magazines were full of them; the TV commercials featured them.  Everyone was using cute little babies to sell their products.  Even young mothers playing in the park with their children triggered that yearning feeling.  Maybe this is your struggle too.
  
Or perhaps it is a longing to be married that has engendered bitterness.  Or maybe you have had high hopes for a career opportunity or have had some special personal goal that has been thwarted.  If this is the case, know that emptiness can invite bitterness to invade and control you.  Suddenly, you can come to the end and find yourself running on empty. It’s what we do at such times that determines our well-being and God’s glory!         
  
When you become obsessed with the notion that only the desired end can satisfy you, and the desired end is withheld, bitterness is bound to take over.  That is unless you turn it over to God.  But how do you do that, you may ask, when God is the One who has the power to give you your heart’s desire and has been busy withholding the very thing you beg Him for?  That’s a good question!  So how do we deal with this tension?
  
Talk to God about it – in prayer and in tears. That’s where it has to begin. You need to get alone and start to tell Him just how you feel about it all.  Even if you’ve done that a thousand times before, you can do it one more time!  Tell Him everything you’ve wanted to unload for so long!
 
It’s not that God doesn’t understand all of this, and it is certainly not that God has been detached or forgetful of your agony.  It is not even that God is ignorant of the facts of the case.  But it is necessary that you begin to tell Him what is in your heart.  Don’t worry about what you sound like either; let the angry tears flow.  And if you can’t put the whole sad scene into words because you’re so empty you even seem to be empty of words, just kneel down and say, “I am a prayer, Lord. Read me,” and He will!  You are in fact an open book to Him.  Read, marked, and learned, your story has already been recorded in heaven!
  
There is a beautiful therapy in this sort of praying, for the exercise of such heartfelt prayer eventually leads to hope!  The final step towards resolution is when we are able to accept whatever answer God gives us.  We are finally able to leave it with Him. There’s no more trying to twist God’s arm with enough prayer to make Him come through with the goods.  No more hoping that enough shouting, crying, and tearing our hair out will touch the heart of God and extract a favor He had for some reason been withholding.
  
Once we arrive at this point of abandonment of all our hopes and dreams, we are able to have a good cry, wash our face, get up and get on with it.  It’s at that point that God can really work and heal our broken dreams.

In His Love,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor 
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, May 21, 2012

Living My Life 'Out Loud'


Dear Friends,

Sitting in my study in Wisconsin, I am thinking about all the Lord’s people we have met whose lives are lived ‘out loud’ in really troublesome situations.  They insist on such a vibrant life in Christ that their lives shout the message of transformation to their world just by being who they are, and they don’t care who hears them, even though many could get into big trouble by announcing how much they love Jesus!  It’s pretty impressive!

Upon returning from a six week ministry trip, I began writing a book on Ecclesiastes, and I had cause to challenged anew, not only by my friends’ lives and witness, but by the ‘Teacher’s’ words concerning the brevity and importance of time on this little swinging planet.  The shocking news of the bombings from the UK, Which was so horrific and sad, had greeted us upon our return.  It made my writing somehow more urgent, and the material more relevant.  This little Old Testament book walks down the stairway of time into a world tired with time, its toys, and its turmoil.  It tells me there is a God to know and obey, and in knowing Him, I can know real joy even in a violent world.  And it makes me say, “Yes, I want to live my life out loud and unafraid too,” like my friends living in troublesome places!

Life is so brief it appears meaningless; I am reminded by the ‘Teacher.’  Yet it is time enough to come to know God who alone gives us meaning and purpose, and who is the God who can give us joy in the midst of sorrow.  So here are three of the things from this favorite piece of Scripture of mine that have helped me. And I trust will help you at this time, so we can all together learn to live our lives ‘out loud’ while yet it is day, ‘for the night cometh when no man can work!’

First, be wise.  Wisdom is spiritual intelligence – to be spiritually ‘street smart’ – and, of course, that is impossible to obtain without The Spirit of wisdom Himself.  We all need ‘life skills’ in a complicated and heartbreaking world, to have the knowhow to know what to say or do, or what not to say or do!  We will need a spiritual perception and intelligence beyond ourselves to deal with relationships that go astray in family, mission or in church.  Who doesn’t need the ‘Sword of Solomon’ to broker a peace in society – between warring saints or deal with the beloved but difficult people in our lives?

To live above with saints we love

Oh that will be glory

To live below with saints below

Well that’s another story!

Wise words, however, come out of wise people, and I have discovered as this book teaches, there is no short cut.  It takes work to be wise!

So, secondly, Spiritual intelligence takes spiritual industry.  I have learned you have to be willing to work at wisdom.  It doesn’t come naturally.  That’s because it comes spiritually.  The teacher of wisdom wearies himself, pondering and correlating his wise words to impart to the next generation, searching it out until he finds ‘just the right words’ that are fitting for the dilemmas that demand a statement of truth and righteousness.

So what is the secret of finding words that will change my world?  And where do I get the power and strength to declare them to the next generation?  The secret lies in spiritual intimacy – in words given by one Shepherd.  Ecclesiastes Chapter 12.  And we know who ‘that’ is, don’t we?

Receiving ideas and words, firsthand from one shepherd, that will declare His power to the people who are living the shallow places where everyone lives, are found in ‘The Deep Place Where Nobody Goes,’ as you sit on the steps of your soul, with the ‘Golden Book,’ outside Gods ‘Front Door.’

I have found my life and ministry is only as powerful and rich 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 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 lied.  Power to live a life of meaning and power and to declare that power to this troubled generation.

Remember wise words come out of wise people, and there is no short cut.  In marriage, ministry, or marketplace, in the university of life and the school of hard knocks, may God grant us Spiritual intelligence gained by Spiritual insistence and industry, stemming out of Spiritual intimacy – with One Shepherd in the deep places where nobody goes.  Read the book of Ecclesiastes this week – listen to the Teacher – He had a word for us all.

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, May 14, 2012

How Do You Get By?


Dear Friends,

Do you ever feel small?  Really, really small?  I do.  Faced with huge challenges while on a past ministry journey in Asia, Europe, and the former Soviet Union, I was overwhelmed with the task ahead.  I had so many lectures to prepare and knew there would be so many people to counsel as well as many different languages to deal with, foods to eat, and beds in which to sleep in so many countries.  Then there were such different groups of people waiting with such different cultures, that I felt consumed with the size of it all and with the size of me!  I was also not feeling very well.  I didn’t know how I would get by.

One morning really, really early, I asked the Lord about it.  “You know I’m not a morning person, Lord,” I began.  “But I couldn’t sleep with so much on my mind, so…”

“Even if you’re not a morning person,” He replied, “you need to be a ‘morning by morning’ person.  It’s a choice.  You need to remember what you’ve forgotten!  Refocus and renew your mind.”

He knew I’d been getting some messages ready on the life of the prophet Jeremiah and that I’d been reading Lamentations 3.  Being of a sober temperament myself, I feel really close to Jeremiah – like a sister or something.  He was called “the weeping prophet,” you know.  I love his lamentations, too (of course!).  I really believe a lamentation a day keeps the doctor away!

Anyway, I’d been memorizing the lovely verses in Lamentations 3:22-23: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.”

“Lord, it says, ‘Great is your faithfulness,’” I said.  “You are the great God.  I believe!  The problem is I’m so little.  Such a small person and shrinking by the minute!”

“But I’m so big,” He said with a great laugh that sounded like a thousand waterfalls.  “Now what can a small person do that has a great big God living inside of her?”

“Be a big person?”

“By My grace,” He replied.  “My grace is sufficient for you.  You’ll get by.”  He added encouragingly, “Just as long as you focus your mind on Me!”

Then I remembered.  Earlier in the chapter, Jeremiah says, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me” (Lamentations 3:19-20).

Then he changes his mind about what he wants to think about.  You can, you know!  “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed!”

Ah! – I was reminded about minding my mind!  Then the Lord looked at me very seriously.  “You mind your mind, Jill, and I’ll mind your heart!  Great is my faithfulness!”

And it was so!

A morning by morning small person I am
That’s good cause I often get in a jam
So I come to the Lord at the start of the day
Then I’m ready for what comes my way.
Then when come what may happens in the course of my life
And I find myself facing such trouble and strife
If I’ve met Him at dawn, and He’s strengthened my hand
I find His good grace to withstand.
So I’m “minding my mind” and He’s “minding my heart”
And I’m trusting and praising and doing my part.
A “morning by morning” small person am I
And quite frankly that’s how I get by!

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, May 7, 2012

Will You Take the Bait?


Dear Friends,

When you think of temptation and how it is presented to someone what comes to mind?

If you’re like me, you have thought of temptation in relation to something big and “in your face,” but the Bible reveals that temptation can come in the form of something much more subtle.

In John 8, the Pharisees brought a woman who was caught in adultery to Jesus and asked Him a question, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery.  In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.  Now what do you say?”

The next line in the text in the NIV is fascinating.  It says, “They were using this question as a trap.”  In the KJV this verse in John 8:6 reads, “This they said, tempting him that they might accuse him.”

So the NIV uses the word trap and the KJV uses “tempting.” Both words come from peirazo in the original Greek language and the definition made me go “Whoa!  That is powerful!”

Peirazo involves “entangling a person in a sin or discovering what good or evil or weakness, or strength is in a person, or knowing it, and through the temptation making it manifest to the one who is being tempted.”

In short, peirazo is designed to entangle to sin, lead into a trap, and to reveal where we are weak. This type of temptation is designed by Satan to entrap us.

Isn’t it fascinating that getting trapped by temptation can come in the form of a simple question?
I remember many years ago I was running errands around town and as I walked out of a store, I was met by a reporter who shoved a microphone in my face and asked, “Are you aware that Senator so-and-so has been arrested for a DUI?”

I didn’t have time to think.  “Yes I am,” I responded.  She then asked another question and the next thing I knew, I had participated in mud-slinging.

As I drove away, I thought, “That is not right.  I shouldn’t have done that.”

I then realized that the questions the reporter asked were designed to suck me (and every other person interviewed) into slandering the newly-arrested Senator.  I immediately called the radio station and told them to strike me from their video.

And that is how fast temptation can happen through a question.  The media uses questions to trap and tempt just like the Pharisees tried to trap and tempt Jesus.  Those around us can do the same with us and unknowingly use questions to trap others, too.

“Will you come to bed with me?”  “Will you participate in this business deal?”  “Will you go on this trip?”  “What do you think about that horrible thing that the Senator did?”

Just as Jesus was self-controlled when the Pharisees tried to trap Him, we need to be self-controlled, too.  We need to be discerning.  Not every question needs to be answered.  Some of them need to be ignored.  Don’t engage your tempter.

As seein in John 8:6, temptation to do wrong can come in the form of a simply stated question.  The question is: will you take the bait?

Blessings,

Shana Schutte
Beyond Imagination
www.shanaschutte.com