Monday, January 21, 2013

Pray When Trouble Troubles You

Dear Friends,

There should be no excuse for any of us.  It’s not as if we have nothing to pray about!  God has allowed enough trouble in all of our lives to keep us on our knees.  And yet, for some this could be the sticking point.  It’s hard to pray when trouble troubles us.  Yet James sets his remarks about prayer in the context of trouble.  “Is any one of you in trouble?  He should pray,” he says (James 5:13).  We should, but do we?  It has been my experience that my prayer life seizes up as soon as trouble pokes its ugly head into my life.  But in the end I look back and recognize that without the trouble there would have been very little praying at all.  If we are desperate enough, trouble forces us to spend time with God.

When we first came to live in America, our children were thrilled with the music programs in the public schools.  All of them wanted to play an instrument.  “I want to play the drums,” seven-year-old Pete announced!  I was aghast and hastily signed him up for clarinet!  This was a serious mistake.  The net result of all this was that he never practiced because he didn’t want to play the clarinet; he wanted to play the drums.  One day he came whistling into the carrying his clarinet.  “Pray for me, Mom,” he said.  “It’s try outs at school for band, and I want first chair clarinet!”

“I can’t pray that for you, Pete.  You haven’t practiced in months.”

“If I’d practiced, I wouldn’t need you to pray,” he retorted!  Many of us are like Pete.  We never practice prayer, but when urgent business arises, we expect to know exactly what to say and how to say it.  Trouble gives us the grand opportunity to practice for the concert.

What sort of trouble was James talking about?  All sorts.  Little troubles and big ones.  He mentions relational troubles: “Confess your sins to each other” (James 5:16); and he deals with sin troubles: “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (v. 20).  Is any among you hurting?  Has your spouse left you?  Has someone mistreated you at work?  Have you been passed over or gotten the bad part of a deal?  Is there someone out there friendless, loveless, childless, cashless, jobless, powerless, clueless?  “Is anyone in trouble?  He should pray!”

Trouble is a great growth hormone.  It takes us from being spiritual dwarfs to spiritual giants – if we respond rightly to it, that is.  A few years ago, our family moved into crisis mode.  I listened to myself praying.  I was shocked.  I heard myself praying like an unbeliever.  I was praying panic prayers, indulging in angry tirades, and using bargaining language.  “Where is my prayer life just when I need it the most?”  I asked God.  Hard on the heels of that thought came the realization that this trouble was going to do wonders for my prayer life!  And it had.  Trouble can, in fact, jump-start our prayer life.  If we respond to divinely permitted trouble instead of reacting against it, we will find that the situation does two things for us.  It will show us that our devotional life isn’t working, and it will show us how to work on making it work!

God is such a God of grace.  Sometimes He must feel very like the father whose son was in college and who only got in touch when he wanted money!  Does the Lord hear from you and me only when we want something?  The amazing thing about the Lord is His patient love.  He will hear us out whenever we get around to approaching Him.

So when trouble comes, don’t resist it as if it is an enemy; rather, welcome it as a friend.  Let it drive you to your knees.  Think about it.  If trials persist, it just may be that you will persist in prayer.  One day I may write a book about the prayers God didn’t answer at once.  Looking back, I can see how constant pressure kept me in the Lord’s presence, and for that I am grateful.


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, January 7, 2013

Appreciating Your Husband's Differences

Dear Friends,

Marriage reveals that we are very different people.  It takes God to help us handle – even appreciate – our differences.  It’s not easy to have a very different person living in our lives, up close and personal!

Stuart and I are very different.  You can tell just how different we are by looking at the titles of our books! Stuart is very positive by nature.  He is an optimist, so he gives his books grand titles such as, What Works When Life Doesn’t or Eight Ways to Get a Life.

 My work, on the other hand, reflects my natural tendency toward introspection, a sober spirit, and morbid thought patterns!  So I have written books on Job, Jeremiah, and Lamentations, as well as a children’s book about suffering called Harrow Sparrow, which is a harrowing tale indeed!  We are different in temperament and work habits; in fact, we are direct opposites.  He always assumes the best; I always anticipate the worst.

Not long ago, Stuart and I were in a hotel in Chicago.  In the middle of the night, the fire alarm went off.  I leapt out of bed, threw myself into my best suit, grabbed my purse, computer, Bible, and notes and took off down the fire escape.  Stuart followed leisurely in his shorts and T-shirt and didn’t even bring his wallet!  He was sure it was a false alarm.  Actually, it was a false alarm, but the incident highlighted our differences.  As he joined me outside, he looked at me knowingly, and we both laughed.

We have not, however, allowed our differences to irritate but rather have learned with God’s help to celebrate and delight in them.  For this we have needed Jesus, but for this we have had Jesus!   Love always accepts the differences in others as a challenge and delight.  Self always imagines everyone should be like it.  Love thinks differently and allows others to do the same.

Paul talks about “growing up” out of our inherent selfishness into selflessness.  “Love does not demand its own way,” he writes in 1 Corinthians 13:5.  He tells the Corinthians that they cannot make love work unless they grow up and mature.  Mature love is not selfish!  In 1 Corinthians 13:11 it says, “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does.  But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”  To be selfish is to act like a child; in order to love, you need to grow up and put away childish selfishness!

One day we were visiting a family we hadn’t seen in a long time.  The older children were bringing us up to speed on their lives and telling us their plans for the future, while the four-year-old waited impatiently for a pause in the conversation.  His father noticed his dilemma and said to him, “Duncan, tell Pastor Briscoe what you want to be when you grow up.”  Duncan thought for a moment and then said, “Bigger!”

That was a noble aspiration.  Oh, that all of us were like Duncan, that all of us would want to be bigger people and grow up into mature human beings.  We all need to grow up in the art of loving. If we don’t we will live lives that are inherently selfish.  Do you want to be “bigger” in the matter of loving?  I do.


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us     

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Death of Innocence

The recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., is one of unspeakable horror. The most recent in what appears to be an alarming trend of mass murders in America is, in my mind, the most gruesome -- most significantly due to the tender ages of the victims.

Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, little has been done to secure the safety of our children. Metal detectors, security cameras and resource officers in schools offer little protection against one determined to commit a heinous act. Neither will gun control or tougher sentencing serve as a deterrent to those filled with evil intent. We've put a Band Aid on the problem rather than treat the underlying illness behind the carnage of our people.

I grew up in the 1950's and ’60's, when acts of violence in rural America were a rarity. But violence is only a symptom of a much deeper-rooted problem: for decades, our country has been in a state of extreme moral decay.

We have become a nation of self-centered, ego-driven, rude, arrogant, self-righteous people who have lost all regard for our fellow Americans. We are a nation where power, greed and ego take precedence over decency, compassion and kindness. We have turned away from our religious roots and chosen to live life on our own terms. Some find God offensive - His Commandments obsolete and irrelevant in a modern-day world. "Love your God; love your neighbor as yourself; do not kill." Totally archaic.

We continually violate His laws and are shocked when horrific events occur.  That's akin to exceeding the speed limit, then being surprised when issued a citation. Laws are created for a reason and God's Laws are absolute.

We have filled our hearts with hatred. We glorify anger, violence, and the suffering of others as entertainment. We judge and label those struggling with personal demons or who don't meet our standards of excellence. We seek revenge on those who offend us and have become oblivious (and even more shocking) indifferent to the suffering we cause others.

We do what we want, when we want, however we want. If others don't like it, too bad. That's not our problem. Our rights, feelings, and needs override that of others. People must earn our respect and even then, we choose who receives this honor.

We have devalued human life and therein lies the root of evil in this world. We are all God's sacred children, scarred and struggling, but no less precious in His eyes. Who among us was given authority to redefine another's worth?

The massacre in Columbine, the slaughter of 32 at Virginia Tech, the recent mass murders in a movie theater and mall haven't been enough to wake this country up. Will the bloodied bodies of 20 precious babies and the heroes who gave their lives protecting them be the pivotal moment that reminds us to have reverence for all human life?

We don't need to fear the "fiscal cliff". We plunged off the "spiritual cliff" decades ago. It is not our government's responsibility to fix what is broken within each of us. Each individual must commit to resuming a life of high moral integrity.

The keys to preventing more bloodshed in this country are a return to the moral and spiritual dictates of God, to live lives of compassion, kindness, acceptance, inclusion, generosity, forgiveness, and love; to be a reflection of God's presence in this world and treat all His children with the same dignity and tender care He does. Only when love for all becomes the standard measure of a life well lived will we defeat hatred, destruction, and evil.

We are to be healers to one another. With the grace and guidance of God, we can achieve this goal. Let THIS be the new American dream. Return to your houses of worship.  Read and live the words of the Bible. Raise your children in the ways of the Lord. Be examples of kindness and love for others to follow.

Rest assured: our precious little angels are resting safely in the arms of our Heavenly Father while we are left to clean up this mess we have made. God help us. We need it.

God gave His only Son so that we may have life. Let not the loss of these babies be in vain. Let their lives inspire us to truly learn how to love.

About Janet Pfeiffer

Janet Pfeiffer, international inspirational speaker and award-winning author is a Fortune 500 consultant, radio host (Anger 9-1-1) and TV personality (CNN, Fox News, Lifetime, ABC and more). She’s N.J. State certified in domestic violence and specializes in healing anger and creating inner peace. Janet's books include the highly acclaimed The Secret Side of Anger and The Great Truth. For more about Janet, visit &