Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Laying Down Your Dreams


Dear Friends,

What do you do when your fondest dreams have to be laid down? When you discover that you will never realize those dreams? When, in fact, your dreams turn into nightmares? When God begins to make it plain that you are to spend your life playing on that second fiddle, functioning in a supporting role? Well, if you are like Baruch, you might get a little depressed! Hidden conflict takes its toll. But Baruch’s struggles were, he thought, well hidden from the world and from his partner. We may learn to hide conflict from those closest to us, but we can’t hide it from God—as Baruch was to find out.

There is no doubt that the scribe’s noble family was unimpressed by the decisions he had made. We all know that family pressure can be the strongest cause for discouragement. Many families have tried to discourage a child from, as they see it, “throwing his life away” in missions or ministry. To go into a life’s work that promises to bring little worldly remuneration seems such a waste to those who see things from a worldly point of view. When parents have spent lots of money on a child’s education and given him or her privileges and status, it seems uncalled for that the child would “throw it all away.” Apparently Baruch did not have to put up with the dangerous antagonism that Jeremiah faced from his family, but he had enough family pressure to add to his misery.

Jeremiah’s relatives and “friends” in Anathoth had warned him, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands” (Jeremiah 11:21). How incredibly painful this must have been to Jeremiah! He dealt with his private pain by sharing it with his scribe, who wrote down his personal laments. Baruch also recorded God’s reply to him:

If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? Your brother, your own family—even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you. Do not trust them, though they speak well of you. (Jeremiah 12:5-6)

It was time to play with the big boys. God knew there was trouble enough ahead for Jeremiah, and He encouraged His servant to toughen up and face the battle.

Sometime this is just the message we need, a “toughen up” message. Even though God was concerned about Jeremiah’s pain, God did not allow His servant to wallow in it. “That’s how it is, Jeremiah,” He told him. “Sometimes following me carries with it a cost—a cost that hurts—but in the end a cost that is eminently worth it.” God helped Jeremiah to realize he couldn’t turn to his own family for help, as they were part of the problem. Now that hurt, badly. However, God challenged him to greater faith in the trials that lay ahead.

What dreams have died? Ask God to help you see the bigger plan and to trust Him with His will for your life. 

In His Joy,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Have You Opened Your Hands?

Dear Friends,

Sometimes it helps to sit still in the Lord’s presence and ask Him what needs surrendering. It could be that you don’t know what is wrong with you. You may feel far away from God and not know why. Ask Him. You may find that He’ll show you something you are holding back. When I first came to know the Lord, I used to hear a lot of talk about backsliding. I had a mental picture of a slide and myself on it sliding out of God! But I do not believe you can slide out of God. The Scriptures say, “You have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). You are secure.

So what does backsliding mean? I believe it means “back holding.” It is terribly possible to hold things back from God—things we know we should yield to Him. Do you ever feel as if you are clutching something? I know I do. If it is something I should let go of, I will pry my fingers, one by one, off that thing or person if I give Him permission. As you learn to hold things lightly and not tightly, peace will come. But remember that there is no peace without surrender.

It is a funny thing, but when I think of all the things God has pointed out to me over the years—things I needed to place on the altar—the hardest things to release have not been the bad things but the good things. The blessings of this life can become idols, almost without our knowing it. In fact, so often the only way we become aware that a blessing has become an idol is a lack of peace.

When Stuart and I were raising our children, we immigrated to America. The time came for them to go to college. I found myself facing an empty nest. Not only that, but people began to ask me to speak and write on the subject. I didn’t want to, one reason being that I was struggling with it. I had believed that I had “held the children lightly, not tightly,” yet I certainly had no peace.

I took some time out to pray about it. “Lord,” I complained, “they don’t need me anymore.” I needed to be needed, and I wasn’t! So I sat still a long time until I figured out what was the matter with me. I needed to place my “need to be needed” on the altar. I had to give up my insistence on the kids’ dependence on me. The Lord told me I was not giving up my relationship with my young adult children; rather, I was giving up my dependence upon their dependence! Sitting there in that quiet place, I understood why my peace had disappeared. My children had become my idols. A couple lines of a hymn came to mind:

The dearest idol I have known,
What’re that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.

Once again I had to repair my altar, then make the sacrifice. Once again the peace came.

What things are you holding back from God? Let Him pry your fingers off so you will experience the freedom that comes with surrender!

In His Joy,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine




Monday, January 13, 2014

Beyond Posture to Attitude

Dear Friends,

My husband was speaking at a missionary conference. He noticed a young woman who looked decidedly unhappy. At the end of the service, my husband asked those who wished to, to kneel and pray. The young lady did so. That young lady is kneeling down on the outside, but she’s standing up on the inside, my husband said to himself. He was right. It turned out that she did have serious attitude problems. Among other things, she didn’t want to be on that particular mission field in the first place.

Posturing in prayer will show eventually. You just can’t keep up the effort. God of course sees the playacting immediately. Conversely, He notes sincerity of heart and rewards it. Honestly, humility, and helplessness form the basis of effective prayer. God looks at the posture of my soul. If He sees my soul on its knees, He will reward me. A sense of spiritual poverty is what God is after. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). He did not mean those who are “poor spirited,” but rather the “happy humble,” who make voluntary humility a holy habit. But how do we achieve this voluntary humility? We should dare to ask the Lord to keep us humble! That is a prayer He will always answer.

So just what in my life is hindering the refreshing of the Lord? If you are at all sincere and really don’t know, He might tell you if you ask Him. You can pray, “Why have you withheld the rain, Lord?” He might not tell you until you have done some serious soul searching. Look into your past and see if there has been some breakdown in your prayer disciplines. See if there are any broken promises to repent of. Once you realize where you failed, be quick to acknowledge it. It might even be helpful to record your repentance in a book.

It’s all about your attitude—remember God looks at the posture of your soul!

In His Joy,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What Fear Does to Faith

Dear Friends,

Stuart and I live in Wisconsin, where it gets very cold in the winter. In fact, snow and ice are a big part of our lives during the long winter months. Sometimes we get a blizzard. It is almost impossible to drive in these conditions. You can be inching along, and all of a sudden you run into what is called a “whiteout.” You literally go blind for a moment and become disoriented as the snow swirls around the windshield.

We can experience whiteouts in our faith life too; the blizzards of life can catch us unaware. We could call these experiences whiteouts or “doubt out.” You can see perfectly clear one moment, and the next moment you are disoriented and blinded by the storm. Doubt does that to you. Doubt is faith in distress, and it is very hard to pray when you are doubting God. The Bible says, “Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Elijah was experiencing a mammoth “doubt out.” He couldn’t see God anymore, but worse, he could see Jezebel very clearly indeed. And Jezebel looked so much bigger than God.

It’s funny what things people are afraid of, isn’t it? Here Elijah who has taken on an entire nation, running away from a woman! But then, doubt and exhaustion do strange things to you. It’s easy to lose perspective.

There are two ways of looking at a problem. You can look at your problem through God, or you can look at God through your problem. If God is in front of the problem, the problem appears to be insignificant. But if God is behind the problem, then the problem dominates everything.

When we lived in the English countryside, I was alone with the children for a long period of time while Stuart was away, and was overrun with field mice. I wasn’t a bit bothered about going out on the streets and contacting wild teens, but I panicked about the mice! They bothered me especially when I was under a lot of stress. It really is funny what people are fearful about. But whether the problem is as big as Jezebel or as small as a mouse, you need to look at it through God, who is bigger than everything!

In His Joy,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine