Monday, October 29, 2012

Casting All Your Cares on Him


Dear Friends,

Just where on earth am I and who’s in front of me?  It is the question I ask myself as I minister all over the world.  The answers come and my stomach goes into a knot!  How can my words possibly meet the heart needs, convince the minds, and move the hearers towards God?

I could be standing in a strange place in front of youth of all ages, prisoners, women from different ethnicities, leaders, or followers.  I might be in front of students, hostile listeners or fans, old or young, few or many, sick or well, clever or dumb, interested or bored, friends or enemies.  Who is sufficient for these things?  Well!  We know the answer to that, don’t we?

Yes, we do, but knowing must be translated into faith-action:  obedience and trust.  In that ministry moment we must turn our knowing into experience.  At such times, I call to mind His promised, given Holy Spirit which is truly the dynamic of all He calls us to do and say and be.  Whoever and wherever we find ourselves, His Word is truth, a sword that divides bone and marrow, a hammer that breaks rock in pieces, yet is sweeter than sweetness, a distressing, healing ointment, an electric touch.  It brings rebuke or correction, encouragement or clarity to both the confused or too-clever-for-their-own-good minds.  And always – it brings life!

My own words, untouched by the Holy Spirit, are unintelligible to the spirits of men.  Too quiet to rise above the rude noise of unbelief.  Too unimportant to warrant a pause in someone’s busy day.  Unless His truth pierces the conscience and spurs the hearer to response, my words are useless.  But let loose His Word in the power of the Spirit, and it will do all it promises to do.  His sword will pierce.  These words will speed their way to the heart of the matter, doing their unique transforming and energizing work!  He it is that turns our words into soul syllables, breaking down barriers and stripping down arguments, ‘til He is acknowledged as the only truth that must be heeded and obeyed.

When the inadequacy overwhelms me (all the time), when the apprehension rises, and my blood pressure pounds, when my body is fighting jet lag or a migraine, or worse, I’m just plain frightened, tired or old and want to go home and hide (like now!), it’s time to STOP and quit the frantic chasing of my spiritual tail.  I need to be still, take a spiritual deep breath, and ask myself, “Why don’t you cast (hurl) all your cares on Him?  It’s time to have a hurl, girl!” I tell my quivering heart.

So right there, right then, I run to the steps of my soul and find Him waiting in the garden of grace, in the deep place where nobody goes, with my present and future in His hands just smiling at me!  I love it when He does that!  Why, this moment alone is worth all the stress and strain, fear and weakness.  JOY!

Seeing then that “the joy of the Lord is my strength” (Neh. 8:10).  I have a good cry, wash my face, get up and get on with it!  What a life!

Why don’t you do the same?  Cast it all – go on!  HURL IT!

“I’m here, Lord.”
“I know!”
“I can’t…”
“I can – I will!”
“So will you help me?”
“That’s my Name.”
“What’s your name?”
“Helper.  It means one called alongside to help.”
“Oh my… are you coming?”
“I’m here.  I’m with you to walk this road of foreboding.”
“Really?”
“Of course.”  Then:  “Throw it all on Me, Jill, I have broad shoulders.”

Then I remembered:  “The government will be on His shoulders” (Isa. 9:6).  I wasn’t sure quite what that meant, but I didn’t worry about it.  I shifted the weight off my back onto His.  Whew!  I should have come sooner!

Why don’t you have a conversation about this, too?


Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us







Monday, October 22, 2012

Waiting It Out


Dear Friends,

There is nothing quite as difficult as waiting.  When we are in the middle of some particularly difficult situation, time appears to stand still.  Our problem is exacerbated by our Western lifestyle and mindset, which often reflect our “instant” society.  In America it seems we cannot bear to wait for anything.  What is more, we regard instant service and gratification almost as rights.

Not long ago I found myself in such a place.  As I hunkered down to wait my situation out, I couldn’t help searching Scriptures for glimpses of hope that it would all soon be over.  I realized I was on a journey – the journey to “soon.” I couldn’t help but notice how often that little word soon kept popping up in my Bible readings, and I remember complaining petulantly to the Lord, “Not ‘soon’ – ‘now.’”  I didn’t like being on the way to “soon” one little bit!

On one occasion I remember trying to comfort our two-and-a-half-year-old twin grandchildren, who were howling because their daddy had kissed them goodbye and was on his way to work. “He’ll be back soon!”  I shouted soothingly.  It’s hard to shout – soothingly – above twins’ screams, but I did my best.  My best effort, however, did not alleviate the pain of parting, and I realized at once how stupid my attempt had been. What, after all, does “soon” mean to a two-and-a-half-year-old?  When one is a toddler who loved Daddy very much, comfort is when “soon” turns to “now”!

Listening to the amplified cries of children in distress, I have discovered it’s the same for me. Like my grandchildren, I have real trouble with “soon.”  Waiting is not my favorite thing to do, especially when I’ve waited for something extremely important – a child to be conceived, a teenager to give just one little hint that he likes belonging to me, a relative to come to Christ.  But nobody knows how quickly “soon” will be except God, and He doesn’t tell! His knowledge is withheld not to tease us but to test us!  Waiting for closure always exposes the caliber of my faith, the intensity of my patience and trust, and the shape of my character.  But when I’m waiting for some particular, painful trial to be over, there’s bound to be some bright, well-meaning saint who lovingly, and often with ill-concealed satisfaction, comes around to tell me how much deeper I’ll be when it is finished.  I want to scream, “I don’t want to be deeper!  I want to stay shallow and have the huge hurt go away!”  Perhaps you are on that journey today.

Job said, “When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”  Job knew he was in God’s waiting room.  That’s what that little word “when” means; it points to sometime in the future.  “When” is not now.  Yet on this journey to “soon,” we find something is happening to us.  We are being “golded.”  There’s nothing like the fires of affliction to put a gold glow on our souls – on our character.

Warren Wiersbe says, “God never wastes suffering. Trials work for us, not against us…God permits trials that He might build character into our lives.”  Paul puts it very well in Romans 5:3-5: “We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  Knowing that God is intent on painting us with gold sort of helps a little when you are “on the way to soon.”

May God give you the strength to persevere in your waiting room.

For Him,

Jill Briscoe

Executive Editor
Just Between Us magazine 



  

Monday, October 15, 2012

When Your Plan Doesn't Work


Dear Friends,

My teenage daughter Courtney had worked for many hours on a dual-credit History paper.  She’s not typically a sit-for-hours-and-work-on-a-paper student.  For that matter, she just doesn’t sit still for long.  But we had a couple snow days, and she had a busy weekend ahead, so she invested a lot of work ahead of the due date.  All she needed to do on Sunday afternoon was final editing.  Then press the print button, and the paper would be done.

Things aren’t always as easy as they seem.

When she sat at her computer for the final steps, she couldn’t find the document on her computer.  It was nowhere to be found. Not in auto-save files.  Not in the recycle bin.  We even reset the computer to 48 hours earlier to find it.  No document.  And it was due the next day.  And she was involved in a church event that night that she needed to attend.

Drama ensued.  Several options were (emotionally) discussed, but there was really only one feasible option.  The paper had to be redone. She wiped the angry tears away, plugged in her headphones, and started pounding on her keyboard.  Several hours later – perhaps a third of the time it had taken her the first time – it was printed…and saved in three places.

Courtney’s Facebook post: After discovering I didn’t save my DC paper, I’m glad to finally have it done.  Again.

Friend: I think I would have shot myself if mine had gotten deleted.   
 
Courtney: Goodness, it wasn’t quite THAT traumatic.

Friend: Haha. I know.  I was just kidding. History is DEF not worth it.  LOL
It’s all about perspective.

Who tells us life is going to be easy?  Commercials make it appear as if our lives could be easier with this or that product, but no one who has lived much life has ever told me life itself would be easy.  There are things that make the trials of life easier to deal with, but easy?  No way.

What’s something in your life you wish would be easier?

What have you learned through your struggles?

How have you seen your struggles affect others?  How have others grown?

Even when you can’t see a lot of positive in something, there’s potential growth in it.  It might not be comfortable growth.  It might not be the growth you’d choose.  It might not even be growth you can identify.  But when you’re faithful, you’ll experience growth.  And God sees the big picture.  He’s keeping His eye and hand on you at all times.

Be aware of the perspective you have.  Jot words to describe your responses and experiences throughout the day.  Overwhelmed, frustrated, joyful, ecstatic, betrayed, compassionate, frantic, blessed.  At the end of the day, give it all to God.  Share your list, your perspective, with Him, and ask Him to help you see it through His perspective and to ultimately replace your perspective with His.  After all, you’re living life for Him.

Listen to advice and accept correction, and in the end you will be wise.  People can make all kinds of plans, but only the Lord’s plan will happen (Prov. 19:20-21).

Blessings,

Susan Lawrence

Susan Lawrence, our guest blogger, is a conference and retreat speaker and author of Pure Purpose and Pure Emotion Bible studies for women.  She’s passionate about connecting women and teams of people in purposeful and healthy ways.  To find out about her book go to http://purepurposebook.wordpress.com/   



Monday, October 8, 2012

God Speaks Through His Word


Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. ~Psalm 119:105

Dear Friends,

Most often God speaks to me through His Word.  The other day my heart was struggling with a situation that seems desperate.  By desperate, I mean that the plans being considered now – the ones that are set in motion – seem to be moving some people I love in the opposite direction of God’s best for their lives.  I was talking to God about my fears, and I was sharing with Him the hurt my heart feels when I try to imagine what all might be about to transpire.  (Anytime we use the words imagine or imagination in our vocabulary in relationship to fear, anxiety, or dread, we need to be sure to reel those vain imaginations in.) 

Before I share more of the particular instance of God speaking to me, first let me tell you this: your Bible wants you to write in it! Bible verses are made to be highlighted and underlined; your Bible is made to be jotted in and marked in many other ways.  I would not have heard God’s voice so clearly last week had the passage of Scripture that God used not been underlined.  On the day that I was struggling, I was leafing through the pages of my Bible looking for a verse to use during the message I deliver on Wednesday nights at church.  In the middle of my search, I found a passage of Scripture that was written specifically for me – not for Wednesday night’s message but in response to Tuesday morning’s prayer.

Several years ago, during another crisis, God had showed a friend a passage of Scripture in Jeremiah that seemed to be God’s Word to me, so she shared it with me.  How do I know?  In the margin beside the underlined verses, I had written, ‘Kaleigh pointed me here on [date].”  Here I was almost two years later flipping through the pages of Jeremiah, and the verses I’d underlined then were unbelievably specific to the cry of my heart that I lifted that morning.  God spoke to me through His Word.

A Love Story

In order for God to speak to you through His Word, you must read it.  You’ve got to read God’s Word on a daily basis.  His Word speaks best when you read it consistently.  God’s Word speaks best the more familiar you are with it.  I encourage you to read God’s Word from beginning to end. Read all of it.  Sure there are parts that are not as inspirational as others, but as you grow more familiar with the Word of God, you will learn His language.  It’s a language of love, and it is woven throughout all of Scripture.  (Don’t be afraid to use tools to help you make sense of the Bible.  Commentaries, Bible studies, books – all of these are great resources to help you understand God’s Word.  Just be careful not to let the tools take the place of the Book itself.)

When you are struggling to hear God’s voice, camp out in the Psalms.  I’m especially fond of Psalm 143.  The Psalms are full of reassurance that you are not alone if you are crying out and you sense that God is not giving you His full attention.  You can transform many great Psalms into prayers of your own.  I do this often in my quiet time.  I take the psalmist’s prayer and make it my own.
Here’s what I did with David’s Psalm 23 just a few weeks ago:

You are my shepherd – I will never be lacking.
This IS fact. Any lack you sense is there because
Satan wants you to live in the shadow of doubt –
Doubting God’s provision for you.
A good shepherd puts you in the best
Places. Sometimes you’d rather be somewhere
else. But He is keeping you here.
Oh God, thank You for restoring my
soul! I have no fear of evil because You
are with me. Your rod and staff (tools of
discipline) they comfort me. I rest because I
know that You will keep my Enemy away and
You will keep me from going astray.
Right in front of my Enemy You invite
Me to a feast where I am provided for – and
blessed. And You pour Your love over me.
Thank You, Lord. Thank Your for Your
Goodness and Your mercy.

God speaks through His Word.  This is the primary way that He communicates with us.

 Lord, I believe Your Word is true.  Speak to me through it today.  I want to hear from You.  I will respond to whatever You tell me today with a solid “yes” and “amen.”

Blessings,

Leighann McCoy


Leighann McCoy, our guest blogger, is a Prayer and Women’s Minister at Thompson Station Church and author for Lifeway Christian resources. Additionally, she is also the author of Spiritual Warfare for Women:  Winning the Battle for Your Home, Family, and Friends and Oh God, Please! The Heart Cry of a Burdened Soul, Pray Right! and How to Develop Your Prayer Life with a companion book, three personal Bible studies for women, and one devotional book.

To find out more about Leighann’s books go to amazon.com