Monday, June 30, 2014

Put Yourself into Silence

Dear Friends,

“Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him” (Lam. 3:28).  Start a habit of sitting in silence until you become conscious that you are not alone.  God’s waiting room is a grand place to be!  You will need to find a solitary place.  As I have worked hard at this, I have discovered that hope is more often birthed in silence than in noise.

Many people find it hard to cope with quiet, yet quiet helps us to cope!  A relative of mine used to fill his environment with sound.  I came to realize he didn’t want to be alone.  It made him uncomfortable.  He didn’t want to hear the still small voice of conscience.  Our postmodern contemporary Christian world needs to rediscover the use of silence and not be afraid of it.

Find a time, and find a place.  Get up early, and get up regularly in order to meet with God.  Remember that sleep deprivation is better than God deprivation. Pay the price necessary to achieve the disciplines required to discover Him in the garden of your soul.  You will never be sorry!

“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam. 3:26).  Quietness is soul therapy. Staying in the quiet of God’s presence brings tranquility back to a frantic spirit.

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, June 23, 2014

Lacking Direction

Dear Friends,

One symptom of faith distress is a lack of direction in life, confusion as to which way to go or what decision to make.  Jeremiah attributed his confusion to God:  “He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked” (Lam. 3:9).

I can remember thinking that God was playing a game with me by sending me up a road and then going on ahead of me and turning all the signposts around just to confuse me!  That is not a good feeling!

We were trying to discern whether to come to America to live.  We received an invitation to immigrate and started up the road in that direction.  Then all sorts of roadblocks appeared in our way.  I became confused.  Why would God call us to America and then put roadblocks in our way?  I began to suffer faith distress.

But it wasn’t God who was blocking our way.  It was immigration, red tape, and government departments on both sides of the Atlantic.  As soon as I applied my faith in the faithfulness of God, the way became clear again and the roadblocks disappeared.

Your faith can be distressed when you feel confused and don’t know what to do.  Never forget that God is not out to confuse you – He will eventually make the path clear.  Be patient and remain faithful.

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, June 16, 2014

Facing Inner Turmoil

Dear Friends,

Jeremiah knew about inner turmoil.  “I have been deprived of peace,” the prophet records in Lamentations 3:17.  Peace is not a fuzzy feeling.  Peace is, as Augustine put it, “the tranquility of order.”  When my spirit is out of order and I am falling apart on the inside and blaming God for it, I am probably suffering a bad case of faith distress.  There is an uneasy awareness that things are not the way they ought to be.  My world is seriously out of sync, and I feel a real resentment toward God.  It is his fault, we tell ourselves.  This trouble happened on His watch.  He is the robber; I am the robbed.

A friend of mine had been sexually abused when she was a small child.  As she struggled to make sense of what God had allowed to happen to her, she got God and life mixed up and ended up in a great state of spiritual confusion.

“What is your concept of God?” I asked her.

“At first,” she replied, “I found it difficult to believe that He even existed.  But I knew that was silly because I knew He did.  Then I really had a problem!  It was easier to believe that He wasn’t there than that He was!  If He was, how could He stand by in a corner of the room with His hands in his pockets?  What sort of a God is He?  How could He do this to me?”

But it wasn’t God who had abused her; it was her father.  And God had delivered her out of the situation in a remarkable way.  God was not the robber.

When you face such inner turmoil, you need to talk to God about it, for ultimately only He can make sense of it.  Only He can restore your faith.

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine





Thursday, June 12, 2014

Are You Struggling in Your Prayer Life?

Dear Friends,

When affliction comes and your faith becomes distressed, you may find that your prayer life takes a body blow!  At times mine certainly has.  As we listen to ourselves pray, we may hear ourselves praying like unbelievers.  We may well find ourselves praying angry prayers, complaining prayers, bargaining prayers, accusing prayers.  Just read Lamentations 3.

In his lamentations to God, Jeremiah accuses God of turning the lights off on him.  “He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light” (Lam. 3:2).  He complains that God has put His hands over His ears and “even when I call out or cry for help, He shuts out my prayer” (Lam. 3:8).

Jeremiah feels as if he has been used for target practice:  “He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows” (Lam. 3:12).  He wails, “He has broken my teeth with gravel” (Lam. 3:16).  Try listening to your prayers; they may tell you if are experiencing faith distress!

One day I received a phone call that put me into a tailspin.  My daughter-in-law had left her husband, my son.  I fell to my knees.  I remember my heart rate escalating.  “Lord,” I prayed… Then my prayer turned into garbled words.  I couldn’t believe I was praying like this!  Had I learned nothing in over forty years of knowing Christ and serving Him?  I listened to myself charging God with sleeping on the job!  I heard myself getting God and life mixed up, accusing Him of behavior that had nothing whatsoever to do with Him.  Suddenly I didn’t want to talk about it anymore.  Not with Him.  My prayer life moved into a holding pattern!

In faith distress, you may find yourself unable or unwilling to pray.  God understands.  He knows your pain.  Pray anyway, and tell Him exactly how you feel.  Those feelings are coming from your inner turmoil, another sign of faith distress.

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor

Just Between Us Magazine


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pray When Trouble Troubles You

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