Monday, May 19, 2014

A Change in Character

One way or another, Christ will enable us to accept our inability to be what He never created us to be!  But make no bones about it; Christ always perfects our potential over time and eternity.  That is, Christ always finishes what He begins.  I’ve never seen an unfinished sunset or a perfect bird with one wing—have you? 

Dear Friends,

Being a Christian means a change of character brought about by discipleship, beginning the moment you meet Jesus.  By change of character I don’t mean a change of personality but rather the ability to handle your personality, to enhance it and find its full potential.  For example, the person who is lazy by nature will probably be a pretty laid-back character, fun to be with.  After accepting Christ, this sort of person should be even more fun to be with, and Christ will help him not to allow his strengths to be his weaknesses anymore.

Our daughter is an extremely conscientious girl.  She is an overachiever who doesn’t particularly enjoy overachieving!  So many times while growing up she would say with great intensity such things as, “Why can’t I be like my brothers and take life a little easier?  Why do I always have to get an A when a B would be perfectly acceptable?  I wish I could be like them!”

One day a wise friend told her, “Judy, you’ll always be Judy.  God made you with this type of personality.  But He will help you to ‘handle’ yourself, to cope with your strengths, which are also your weaknesses.”  That piece of advice was an enormous help to our daughter.

How often do Simons wish they were Andrews, Philips wish they were Nathanaels, Matthews with they were Peters!  That is an exercise in futility.  Christ changes for the better what is best and helps us cope with the things that are lacking in our personalities.  He does this in many ways, one of the most common being to link us up with others who can balance out the deficiencies.

One way or another, Christ will enable us to accept our inability to be what He never created us to be!  But make no bones about it; Christ always perfects our potential over time and eternity.  That is, Christ always finishes what He begins.  I’ve never seen an unfinished sunset or a perfect bird with one wing—have you?  We can be confident of this: “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

During the early years of our marriage, my husband and I worked with young people in Europe as part of a missionary organization.  When that assignment was over and we had to move to America and leave those lovable teenagers we had been working with, I found myself struggling emotionally.  We had seen many of these young [people come to Christ from really raw backgrounds.  They had kicked the drug habit, cleaned up their sex lives, and begun to show radical changes in their behavior.  What would happen if their leaders just “disappeared,” I worried.  Would they go on with God?

My husband reminded me, “You didn’t save them; you don’t have to keep them, Jill!”  No. the work in them was not finished.  The God who had begun that changing work in their hearts had promised to complete it, and I could safely leave them in His hands.

Blessings

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, May 12, 2014

A Handmaid of the Lord

That was the day God gave her the idea of a magazine for women.  A truly preposterous idea!  Publishers were sure that German women wouldn’t read it and no one would finance it.  But her husband encouraged her.  And when she cried out to God, “You see, God, nobody wants this magazine,” she heard Him saying, “But I want it!”

Dear Friends,

When I think of the wonder of women discovering their spiritual birthright, I think of the story of Elizabeth Mittelstaest, whose impact on her world of women was astounding.  Her birth—a miracle in itself—and her family’s difficult circumstances led her to think little of herself and of her womanhood.

Elizabeth was nearly aborted because her mother, who was very ill and living under communist rule where medicines were hard to come by, was encouraged by her doctor to abort the child rather than have it born infected.  Yet, a strange sense of foreboding gripped her heart, and she seemed to hear a voice say, “Don’t kill this baby!”  She did not know the God who spoke to her, yet she heeded His silent voice.  A few months later she delivered a sickly little girl and named her Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth was nine years old, Maria and her family heard the gospel, and they all accepted Christ.  In her teens, after hearing a woman missionary speak, Elizabeth promised God that if He ever needed another woman to serve Him, she would be that woman.  Miraculously, God open doors for her to attend Bible college, where she prepared for ministry and met the man she would marry.

Several years later a flawed dental procedure left Elizabeth in constant, excruciating pain.  One day as she was walking across a bridge over a small river in her town, she looked down into the water, and a voice seemed to say, “Jump!”

Startled, she looked up and across the bridge to the pretty little German village beyond with its Geranium flower boxes and white picket fences.  Behind those nice homes there is a lot of pain and brokenness for women,” she heard God say to her.

“I could feel how God loves the women,” Elizabeth recalls.  “In that moment my heart was broken about what broke His heart.  So I said, “God, I would love to help, but what can I do?”
That was the day God gave her the idea of a magazine for women.  A truly preposterous idea!  Publishers were sure that German women wouldn’t read it and no one would finance it.  But her husband encouraged her.  And when she cried out to God, “You see, God, nobody wants this magazine,” she heard Him saying, “But I want it!”

Shortly thereafter, the frail little child who had been rescued from the abortionist’s knife by the voice of the God her mother did not yet know, became the editor of Lydia magazine.  Contrary to all the warnings publishers had given her, the magazine had a circulation of ten thousand by the third issue.  Today it is published in German, Romanian, and Hungarian and read by an estimated one million readers.

Elizabeth is a handmaid of the Lord.  She celebrated her womanhood.  Being a handmaid and a heartmaid, however, doesn’t mean you won’t be a hurt maid!  Mary experienced a sword piercing her own heart as she watched Jesus crucified.  But that hurt was transformed on the other side of the Cross.  Serving Jesus is worthwhile, and joy truly comes in the morning.  Mary, Jesus’ beloved mother, was in the upper room at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came in power, and for the second time she was overshadowed and indwelt by Him.

Blessings

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, May 5, 2014

Learning to Live in Nazareth

There were no daily days for mother—only divine ones!  And seeing she believed she was living in “Nazareth” because God had ordained it that way, she felt quite free to draw on His strength for the job.  It takes more power to live below our capacity sometimes than when we are stretched beyond it.      

Dear Friends,


My mother-in-law worked hard all her life.  She was a extremely bright and gifted lady.  She had wanted to be a nurse, but her father decided she should stay home and housekeep for the family.  A woman’s place was in the home, he said.  During the war, mother ran the small family grocery business under acute pressure in a Nazareth sort of town in the north of England.  She lived every day and accomplished every task as if it were the most important day of her life, even though she never had a chance to develop the many talents she had.  Her Lord was truly “the Lord of her pots and pans”!

I remember her cleaning shoes as if Jesus were going to wear them, making beds as if He were coming to stay, and working in her pretty English garden as if her Lord and Savior would be sitting on the little bench by the roses for a brief respite.  The English bakery, even on wartime food stamps, was prepared as if Jesus were coming for afternoon tea, and she drove her car as if he were an honored passenger.  There were no daily days for mother—only divine ones!  And seeing she believed she was living in “Nazareth” because God had ordained it that way, she felt quite free to draw on His strength for the job.  It takes more power to live below our capacity sometimes than when we are stretched beyond it.  Over her kitchen sink (well before dishwashers) she hung a plaque with the words “Diving services conducted here three times daily.”  It was, I can tell you, quite unnerving and did away with any griping while washing up!  Needless to say, most times I had the joy and privilege of being around mother, I would hear her humming or singing a praise song.

Mother’s praise songs were a lesson I’ve never forgotten.  Her testimony to believers and unbelievers alike was powerful.  Babylonians are usually amazed at such an attitude.  After all, slaves tormented by the daily grind usually have scowls, not smiles, on their faces!

In contrast, I remember another lady who was employed to clean the castle we worked in that served as a youth center.  It was a thankless task.  Being in England, where we have only two seasons—winter and the second week of August—three hundred rambunctious European teenagers would run in and out of the castle tracking mucky mud all over the place.  One day I came upon this cleaning lady, slaving away with her broom.  “Move out of the way,” she said curtly.  “I need to brush all the dirt out you’re tracking in.”  She began to hum a grim tune (a daily grind composition!) between her teeth.  “I’ll do my work to the glory of God!” she sang furiously!  One look at her grim face made me realize this was not a song of Zion.  This woman was an unhappy soul.  None of her dreams had been realized, and she felt that none of her gifts were appreciated.  How different from my mother-in-law’s happy hymn of praise!

Blessings

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine