Monday, January 25, 2016

Give Me Your Child

Dear Friends,

Have you ever known a mother that was beyond the ability to pray for her child? These are times when we can pray for her. Once I had an experience like this, but I was on the receiving end.

It was a long time ago, when my children were all teenagers. The dating years were upon us, and I lived in a permanent state of internal panic. Fortunately I had a husband who reveled in those years, and so I leaned on him. One day, however, he was away, so I couldn’t “lean,” and a young man asked my young daughter, Judy, to the school dance. I panicked, until she explained I could come and chaperone. At that I gladly gave permission and the invitation was accepted. Then I looked in my appointment book. Both my husband and I had meetings out of town on the day of the dance. Neither of us could chaperone! I panicked. Suddenly this perfectly nice young man took on another image in my imagination.

I couldn’t get out of my commitment, and so I arrived at the meeting in total spiritual disarray.  Looking at the program, I saw that there was a prayer room. I made a beeline for it and met Margaret, whose ministry it was to help people like me!

I explained my problem, and she listened to me patiently and gave me some Scripture. Then she said I would need to let my daughter go. “After all,” she said, “Moses’ mother put Moses in the little ark and let him go among the crocodiles.” Now that I didn’t want to hear.  Suddenly all the nice boys that Judy knew took on the shape of crocodiles! Then Margaret told me she would be like Miriam for me. She would stand watch on the riverbank in prayer. In essence, Margaret said to me, “Give me your child.” And from that day to this she has carried my child to the upper room and prayed for her.

A few months after this incident, I received a package through the mail. It contained a little crocodile with its mouth tied up. “That’s what prayer does,” said the note.

Can you think of a mother in need, a father in trouble, a friend in dire distress with a child in a rehab facility? Why not contact them and say, “Give me your child.” There are plenty of empty places on the riverbank today, waiting for watchers. You can be the prayer that makes a difference!


Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, January 18, 2016

Don't Worry About Your Reputation

Dear Friends,

As we go about our daily lives, it’s important that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Once we start listening to our own press, thinking that we are really very important people, humility tiptoes out the door. Learn to laugh at yourself—a lot! The Bible tells us to humble ourselves and not wait for someone else—like God!—to do it for us. “Humble yourselves,” says the Bible (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6), or God will humble you (see Daniel 4:37; Mat 23; 12). Take responsibility to practice this spiritual art.

As Paul begins to paint this wonderful word portrait of Jesus in Philippians 2, he says that Jesus “made Himself of no reputation” (verse 7). Think about that. Our reputation, what people think about us or say about us, is very important to us—too important sometimes.

Years ago, I was working for a youth mission in the United Kingdom. We were reaching many young people who hung around the pubs at night. Some came to Christ as a result of our outreach. One day, Trevor, a young man who was a relatively new believer, came to our house to ask if I would go to one of the pubs and talk to his friends about the Lord. “They’re really interested, Jill,” he said, “but I can’t answer all their questions. So I told them I knew someone who could. Would you come with me tonight?”

I was surprised at my response to this young man. I didn’t want to go. Reluctantly, I said I would, hoping he wouldn’t notice my hesitancy. When he had gone, I spent time with the Lord talking it through.

“Why don’t I want to go?” I dared to ask God.

“You’re afraid of your reputation,” He answered.

“Oh, yes,” I replied, “I suppose I am.  What if someone sees me going into the pub and tells someone about it?  What would they think of me?  What would they think of you? They know I’m a Christian who works at the youth center, and I may not be able to explain why I’m going into such a place.”

Yes, I decided that the Lord was right. I was indeed concerned about my reputation.

That night I read Philippians, asking that some principle I found in the letter would show me how to answer my young friend.  Of course, when I came to Philippians 2:7, I stopped in amazement.  There was my answer: Jesus “made Himself of no reputation,” “Well, now,” I said to myself, “what was I worried about my reputation for? He didn’t worry about His.” I had a choice to make. I could make myself of no reputation for Jesus; or I could play it safe, stay home, and let someone else put his or her reputation on the line and answer the questions.  Anyway, why couldn’t these kids come to church and get their questions answered if they really wanted to know?  Why bother me?  As I tuned in to my thoughts, I was ashamed of myself.  Soon I was on my knees, the question settled.

I went into the pub with Trevor and met his wonderful friends. That act of obedience started a movement of the Holy Spirit across the town. Jesus didn’t hang on to His reputation, and He didn’t care about recognition for who He was. The Bible puts it this way: Christ Jesus “made Himself nothing.” He came to a pub—in fact, He was born in the stable that belonged to the pub!


Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, January 11, 2016

Bringing Unity and Harmony

Dear Friends,

Stuart and I recently took part in a church growth convention. I was captivated by the comments of one of the speakers we met there. An expert in worldwide spiritual revival movements, he noted that in the great revivals of history, the Spirit appeared to move in unprecedented ways in certain areas and then moved on. First were the revival movements of the early church in the Holy Land. Eventually, it was Europe that sent out the great missionaries. Then America had its time as a “sending nation.” And now it seems that Asia’s moment has come, particularly South Korea. “This small nation is leading the charge and sending a tide of blessings in our direction,” the speaker noted. We thank God for them.”

He summed up his comments with a vivid analogy. “A movement of the Spirit seems like the ocean,” he said. “The tide comes in, and all the shrimps are in the same ocean. Then the tide goes out, and all that is left are puddles. I’ve noticed that every shrimp has its own puddle!” We all laughed at such a graphic picture.

Is it true of North America? Of Europe?  Of other continents?  Are there groups of people who seem to be competing in ministry?  Did the tide go out?  Undoubtedly. And what is left? Isolated puddles with shrimps jumping around in them. Shame on us! And fast on the heels of that thought, I found myself alone with God, asking, “Am I one of those shrimps?” God forbid! May I be known by my efforts to work across the puddles to bring unity and harmony among Christians.

How much does all this matter?  Who would want to commit a huge part of one’s life to working with the saints when one can work with sinners who are, at times, a whole lot nicer and easier to deal with? Who does it matter to? It matters to God.

When Jesus spoke His last words to the disciples in the upper room, He prayed for them. You can read this prayer in John 17. Many times that night, Jesus prayed for love and unity among His disciples. Then He said, “My prayer is not for [those disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one” (John 17:20-21).  That’s you and me! Jesus prayed for love and unity among us. Is this prayer being answered in our lives? Wouldn’t you like to be the answer to one of Jesus’ prayers?

One might have thought that Jesus would have been praying for the world and its salvation that night. Yet Jesus knew that the world would not hear about the great salvation He had left heaven to accomplish if His disciples were using all of their energy to bicker and fight.


Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, January 4, 2016

The Spiritual Art of Ministry

Dear Friends,

People often say to me, “I wish I knew what God wanted me to do with my life.”

“That’s easy,” I reply.  “Ministry.”

Their eyes open wide.  “You mean give up my job and go away to a nunnery or something?”

“No,” I reply, “probably not.  Just get going.  Look around you. The mission field is between your own two feet at any one time.”

Ministry is not something for the professional Christian only—someone who has been to seminary or Bible school or on the mission field.  It is for all who have become new persons in Christ Jesus and have experienced “the old things passing away, and all things becoming new” (see 2 Cor. 5:17).  It is for those who have had a radical change in their lives because of their conversion and who want—more than that feel—a responsibility to make sure everyone has the same opportunity.

Ministry is being a blessing. It’s serving and giving and not counting the cost. It’s what we who love Jesus are supposed to be doing all day, every day. Ministry is talking about Jesus, serving Jesus, being Jesus where people are in need of Jesus. Ministry is the most exciting, stretching thing in the world. It’s an art—a spiritual art.

Ministry—helping people—happens all day every day and all night every night. Ministry goes on all over the world and on all seven continents. Old people and young people minister. Black people and white people. Wealthy people and poor people. Sick people and healthy people.  Ministry is a full-time twenty-four hour thing. An “I can’t wait to get going in the morning” thing. An “I don’t have time to sleep” thing. An “I can’t believe I have the privilege of doing this” thing. It’s a hard thing, a glorious thing, a stretch, a reach, a “pulling you in every direction” thing.  It is exhausting and exhilarating, an emptying of yourself and a “filling up to overflowing” thing. Ministry is in the end an art of the Spirit—a spiritual art that is for all of us—those of us who have grown up in the church and those of us who, like me, have come to Christ from the outside of “Christian everything.”  So don’t say, “But I don’t have any opportunity to minister. I have no training.” Ask God to show you the hundreds of opportunities that are right under your nose every day.


Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine