Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Change in Character

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, Phillips wish they were Nathanaels, Matthews wish 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 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. They were “in the making” and in no ways “made”—but 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

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Power of Forgiveness

Dear Friends,
I had the privilege of meeting a family in Croatia that demonstrated such a prosperity of spirit by loving their enemies that they have truly reflected the image of God.
I think of the husband as a modern-day Job and his wife and daughter as Job’s daughters. He is a pastor in the little Croatian town of Pak Rak. The town was blasted to pieces during the war with Serbia, and only three houses in the main street were left standing. The little church where Bozidar Korlovic was pastor was severely damaged, and even though the uneasy ceasefire was broken between the warring factions, the pastor and his seventeen-year-old daughter returned.  They wanted to encourage others to come back and pick up the bits of their shattered lives. The little town was surrounded by Serb-occupied Croatian territory, and the Serb soldiers were visible in the hills around.
One day when the pastor and his daughter were walking to their house, Serb soldiers came through the trees and took them prisoner. They marched them up the hill to the tree line and tortured him and took his daughter off with them. After they thrust Bozidar through seven times with a bayonet, he was still alive. “You can kill our bodies, but you cannot kill our souls!” he told them. “God will bring you to judgment for these cruel things, but if you repent, he will forgive you.” In the end they sent the two home through a minefield. God kept them safe, and the UN forces rescued them.
I stood in his little church a brief fourteen months later as he talked about that terrible time. We listened as Bozidar and his wife testified to a church packed with refugees. They told them that they had forgiven the Serbs for all of it. “We must forgive our enemies,” he told them with passion. “The Lord will help us. Only His love is sufficient.”
I thought of Job. I know he forgave the Sabeans and the Chaldeans for putting all his servants, many of whom would have been born in his household, to the sword. If they had tortured Job himself, he would have forgiven them for that as well. No wonder God prospered Job. The prosperity of spirit that makes the soul fat has little to do with monetary wealth.
Whom do you need to forgive? Your friends, family, servants, the Chaldeans or Sabeans? What do you need to forgive? The only place it’s possible is at the foot of the cross. There the death of Christ gives us power and permission to leave the judgment of the issues involved to Him and to reconcile!
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

His Word is Like a Hammer

Dear Friends,
The Word of God broke Jeremiah’s heart. He described God’s Word as “like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces” (Jer. 23:29). It made him stagger like a drunken man. “My heart is broken within me; all my bones tremble. I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of the Lord and His Holy Words” (Jer. 23:9). Well before God’s Word ever touched other people’s lives, it touched Jeremiah. It made him tremble and stagger like a drunken man, and it broke his heart.
Have you ever had the experience of God’s Word hammering away at your conscience? I have.  When I first came to the States, I resisted getting involved with the women’s work at church. I didn’t particularly enjoy women and much preferred working with teenagers. However, God does not allow us to choose to work with those we much prefer! He wanted me to work with women. It was one of those secondary callings He had in mind for me.
I reluctantly answered an invitation to go to Memphis, Tenn., and speak at a women’s’ retreat. I had no other reason to go than that Stuart knew of the work and encouraged me to go.
A wonderful woman who loved working with women led the retreat. Just my luck, I thought to myself, watching her surreptitiously. She’s going to know I don’t want to be here. I was right.  She did know because my attitude was showing. Those bad attitudes always peek beneath our behavior like a slip hanging beneath a dress. She spoke to me at the end of the conference.  “You are a good speaker technically, Jill, but it’s obvious you don’t like women!”
“Ouch!” I replied. “You’re right, and what’s more I’ve no intention of liking them because if I do, I’m afraid God will just give me a whole lot more of them to like!”
I was really disturbed about that incident. When I got home, I spent some time with God and dared to ask Him to speak to me from His Word about it. A word from Lamentations “came to” or “happened to” me that night: “Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city,” lamented Jeremiah (Lam. 3:51, KJV). Here was a man lamenting over women, while this woman—me—cared little about her own kind. Jeremiah’s heart was broken for the daughters of Jerusalem and their grim state. Mine was not. But I could give God permission to take the hammer of His Word and break my heart as well. And that is exactly what I did that night!
I prayed that God would let “my eye” affect “my heart” when I looked at the women of my city, that I would feel and see what He felt and saw, and that I would do everything I could to reach them. The release was palpable, and I began fulfilling one of my secondary callings that day.  Starting with six women in a home investigative Bible study, God gave me a heart for women that has resulted in reaching thousands of women around the world with His Word.

All He wants is for you to say, “Break my heart, God,” and He will. He will use the hammer of His Word on the anvil of your life, and you will find Jeremiah’s experience to be yours. “My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed” (Lam. 2:11). If God’s Word dwells in us richly hour by hour, we will live and work with a broken heart—and it will show.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rich in "God Things"

Dear Friends,
There was a man who was the richest farmer in the valley. He was not a God-fearing man but was instead a “self—made” man who worshipped His creator (himself!). He had in his employ a humble gardener who loved the Lord.
One day the richest man in the valley opened the door to his godly servant who stood outside on the doorstep holding his hat awkwardly in his hands.
“What is it?” his master asked him.
“Sir,” the man replied awkwardly, “I had a dream that tonight at midnight the richest man in the valley would die.”
“Why, my man,” the richest man in the valley replied, “I’m in excellent health—don’t you worry about me!” Then gently, “It’s all that religion you go in for—makes you think morbid thoughts.”
The man shuffled away and the master went inside the house again. However, he couldn’t get over the man’s words and he decided to stay up late and ask his friend’s doctor to come over and play bridge with him—just in case! The doctor complied and the evening passed with the richest man in the valley glancing at the clock every half hour or so and insisting the doctor stay and play just “one more game.”
At half past midnight the doctor left and the richest man in the valley chided himself for being so foolish. As he turned off the lights and started to go up the winding staircase to bed, the doorbell rang. Thinking the doctor had forgotten something, the rich man returned to the front door and opened it. A young girl stood weeping on the doorstep.
“Whatever is the matter?” the man inquired, not unkindly.
“Sir,” the girl replied, “tonight at midnight my father died.”
“Who is your father?” the richest man in the valley asked.
“Your gardener, sir,” she said.
The richest man in the valley! And indeed he was, for those who know and love the Lord are rich beyond measure—in this world and the next.

We can be as poor as this world’s goods are concerned, but wealthy in “God things.”  There are spiritual riches, the Bible says, that surpass anything the world can offer.  Jesus asks in Mark 8:36, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

God's Amazing Grace

Dear Friends,
When Jesus told the parable of the lost son, He told of a father watching for his prodigal to return. You get the feeling that the man watched the road every day, waiting to catch a glimpse of his boy coming home. Jesus said that this is exactly what happens in heaven. The Father and His angels are watching a whole world full of prodigals sitting in packed-out pigsties! And whenever one comes to his senses and starts out for home, the Father leans out of heaven, alerting the angels, and says, “Look, there’s one” (Luke 15:7)!
When I was fourteen years old and hadn’t a serious thought in my empty little head, I remember looking at a Bible on a bookshelf and struggling with myself.
“Read it,” insisted a little voice inside.
“What for?” I argued, “I don’t need it.”
“You don’t even know what’s inside,” said the voice, “so how can you know you don’t need it!  Go on, take it down off the shelf and open it up.”
“No,” I answered stubbornly.
The funny thing was that I suddenly wanted to but something held me back. I never did obey that still, small voice, but I do believe at that initial moment of spiritual awakening in my young heart, the Father turned to the angels, pointed me out, and said, “She’s coming home!”  I didn’t arrive until five years later, when I realized that the Father of love runs down the road of repentance and meets us at the cross. He does not make us crawl home, because His Son already crawled to Calvary for us, carrying our cross on His back! It’s such a powerful picture, it leaves me breathless.
God’s grace is an amazing thing. God’s truth tells us the truth about ourselves, but His grace forgives us for the truth He reveals!
Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Keep the Faith

Dear Friends,
It isn’t easy to continue going to church or trying to do a ministry during, or immediately after, a period of pain and suffering—and yet there is healing if we do so. I know how difficult it can be to go to a worship service and hear everyone singing happy hymns. One more happy chorus and I’ll scream you think!  But there is a certain therapy in worship and service. Not the least of it because in ministry we often meet a lot of people a whole lot worse off than we are. It’s like the old saying, “I was sad because I had no shoes—until I met a man who had no feet!” In life we usually bump into quite a few people who have no feet! In helping and encouraging them, we find a measure of relief ourselves.
What did Jesus’ followers do while they were waiting for the Comforter to come after Jesus had ascended into heaven? “They all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14). They also went to a great deal of trouble to choose a disciple to take the place of Judas, who had killed himself after betraying Jesus—and can’t you imagine the emotions this process brought up for all of them? At this point, their only instructions were to wait for the Holy Spirit. They waited in faith, restoring the apostles’ number back to the original twelve in the anticipation that their little organization—their body of Christ—would indeed move forward and continue Jesus’ ministry on earth. On the day of Pentecost, “they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1). During their wait, all they knew to do was pray and stay together—and that’s what they did.
I find the examples of these faithful people practical and helpful. While I am in God’s waiting room, I can realize that my character is under divine reconstruction. I can try to normalize my routine (with lots of English cups of tea and a big pair of pruning shears or similar helps). I can continue my religious disciplines, whether I am feeling “connected” or not, and keep up whatever ministry is feasible for me. I can also try to mend whatever fences I can and try not to worry too much about the ones that only God can mend at some future date. Persisting in all of this will help me regain my spiritual perspective.
Are you in God’s waiting room? Are you waiting for a baby to be born? A prodigal to return? A spouse to reconcile? Are you waiting for someone to share your life with? For a Job? or a cure?  Wait on the Lord and not on the answer. Try to concentrate on His person, His plans, and schedule—His business. Job’s growing faith did not stop the agony, but it helped him find a measure of productivity in his life, to the extent that the Scriptures say, “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.”

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ministry is a Spiritual Art for Everyone

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” (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, and emptying of yourself and a “filling up to overflowing” thing.  inistry is in the end an art of the Spirit—a spiritual art.
Ministry 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. And get going!

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, May 4, 2017

I Don't Want to be a Complainer!

Dear Friends,
In the book of Isaiah, God had said no to certain things His people wanted. They were told not to worship other gods. They had more or less complied, but their temple worship had become empty and meaningless—a mere ritual. God had told them their worship must not be like this; but they ignored Him, and apostasy followed, which resulted in their beautiful temple being in ruins (see Isa. 1:10-18).
The people of God felt very bad about it; however, they were not sorry for God but for themselves. They wept when they thought of Jerusalem and their temple rituals. They did not weep for their rebellious, contrary hearts. Now that there was no temple in which to worship, they did not realize their error and begin to worship God in spirit and in truth; they simply grumbled and mumbled as had been their habit since Moses led them out of Egypt. When you indulge in self-pity, it’s a miserable affair. No joy in that!  he people of God had truly hung up their harps on the Gripe Tree!
I’ve discovered that when I complain, my spirit is overwhelmed. A spirit of complaint leads to discouragement and spoils my relationships. I’ve observed that I can be sitting in a worship service and start to gripe inwardly about the music, the teenager’s earrings in front of me, or the lighting or flowers on the platform. Immediately my spirit of worship disappears, and I am overwhelmed with a sense of discontent. The children of Israel were into complaining—especially in “church.” This did nothing to lift their spirits or fortify their souls.
So how do we stop ourselves from griping and grumbling, thereby losing our joy?
Christians, who should be the most thankful people in the world, often sound the most disgruntled. It’s as if we feel the world owes us something instead of remembering it’s we who owe the world. The apostle Paul thought of himself as in debt to humankind. He believed he owed them an explanation of the gospel. He also felt he owed them a life of service and sacrifice.  He was, after all, rich beyond measure.
He had come to know Christ, the priceless Son of God. He had spiritual wealth enough and to spare to pay his debt. Paul had more reasons than any of us to grumble. He was hounded, stoned, imprisoned, beaten, tried unjustly, and abandoned by friends. He was lonely, hungry, shipwrecked, laughed at, homeless, and helpless. But the only thing he grumbled about was the fact that there weren’t enough hours in the day to tell people about his Savior and Lord and to build his church!
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Start at the End to Find the Beginning

Dear Friends,
When reading the book of Ecclesiastes, you need to start at the end in order to understand what it is all about, since the style of this book is in a genre far removed from today’s “fast food” type of literature. I drive my husband crazy because I always read the end of a book first. It sort of makes up my mind if it’s worth my time reading it at all. Ecclesiastes makes a whole lot more sense when you go to the end to find out about the beginning.
It’s at the end of chapter 12 that the whole thing is summed up. “Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing whether it is good or evil” (verses 13-14).
Solomon concludes his work with a summary of the results of all his heart searching, experimenting and discovering. It has been hard work for Solomon.  I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven,” he explains (2:3). It took a lot of his life to find the answers but at the end he came to a satisfactory conclusion: Keep His commandments. This is the meaning to our existence. It’s the whole thing. The Message renders Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: “Fear God. Do what He tells you. And that’s it.” That’s what? The reason we are here—the whole purpose of life in this place, in this time.
There is an old saying: Fear God and live as you like. It makes sense that if you live in the fear of God you will live as He likes you to live. This is the only certain pathway to extreme joy, to living a life that makes perfect sense. Ecclesiastes teaches us that the pathway to an exuberance of living is realized by those who live within the boundaries set by His love. Those limits are simple. We don’t “do this” and we so “do that.” This and that being the ten rules God wrote in His own handwriting on a couple of slabs of rock on a mountain on fire. We call them the Ten Commandments.
Man’s wonderings and wanderings find their end in a relationship with our Maker, pleasing and serving Him. That’s the whole thing! Wisdom is coming to that conclusion as soon as possible, in order not to live a wasted and frustrated life. It is the only path that makes sense of life on planet earth. It’s God-sense. This advice comes to us from numerous places in the Word of God including from the wisest man who ever lived—King Solomon.
Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine





Friday, April 21, 2017

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 Jeremiahs’ scribe, 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 a family has 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” (Jer. 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 brothers, 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. (Jer. 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.
Sometimes 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!”

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Who Will Roll the Stone Away?

Dear Friends,
On the very first Easter morning, some women hurried to the tomb, carrying the spices with which to anoint the body of their Lord. They asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
When we are in a new, frightening, surprising situation, we face the same problem. We would minister to a loved one perhaps, but a boulder lies in the way. Between us and that dear one a great barrier has appeared, one so big that our puny desires appear ludicrous beside it. Our love seems weak and ineffectual in the face of such an obstacle.
We would dive into this ministry, this package we never expected, but a boulder lies in the way, and we can’t possible imagine how to do it and function in this place.
“Love can’t find a way for me; I know, I’ve tried,” you say. Perhaps you face a hostile teenager fed up with being a minister’s kid and being moved around the country every three years or less.  With your hands full of good things—sweet and special presents carefully prepared—you have hurried toward her, only to be confronted with that huge stone of anger, resentment, or misunderstanding.
Jesus’ friends must have experienced some of these same feelings. As the women hurried toward that insurmountable “mountain” of trouble that lay ahead of them, they couldn’t think of anyone in the whole world except Jesus Christ Himself Who had the power to roll that stone away; and that was their biggest dilemma—Jesus Christ was dead! They had every reason to believe He was lying there, sealed into ineffectiveness by the very stone they confronted.
The thing to do in the face of insurmountable problems is to walk right on up to them with every intention of walking right on through them, even if they show no signs of yielding as you approach. If you can’t walk through, walk around—find a way past to the Lord, who may or may not move the stone or intervene on your behalf. Somehow we need to live life with the attitude, “O love the Lord; my hands are full of gifts for Him; and one way or the other, I will find Him on the other side of the problem.” It’s certain that you’ll never arrive at the other side of your problem by running away from it; face it together with your partner and with any other believers you can find with the same heartbeat, the same vision. And don’t waste energy apportioning blame. If you do that, you’ll exhaust yourself before you ever get there!
The women hurried on that early morning toward that huge rock that separated them from the body of their beloved Christ. They were frightened, yes, but they kept going. They went anyway.  Don’t wait until you are unafraid before you walk up to the sepulcher. If you can’t walk up to it unafraid, walk up to it afraid. And maybe, just maybe, when you get there, you will find that the stone has been rolled away.
Christ cannot be contained within the tombs of our troubles, inside the sepulchers of our sorrows, or behind the doors of our doubts. No stone can shut Him up or take Him away from His disciples. The stone still stood there in that quiet garden, a reminder of the reality of the problems we all must live with; but Christ had moved it to one side so very easily, demonstrating His resurrection power on our behalf.
You must face your personal Gethsemane and die at your Calvary. But all is not lost. Look toward your Pentecost, the power that will come. Rejoice, for “The stone has been rolled away!”

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Bit at a Time

Dear Friends,
Giving your life away a bit at a time is a lifelong occupation. It starts with a full surrender to the will of God in your life—and doing so before you know what it entails. “Whatever, Lord; whenever, Lord; however, Lord” are good words to use. It is a mind-set that asks, “What do I possess that I did not receive?” A mind-set that is ever grateful for Jesus. A mind-set that regards everything I have as a trust for the kingdom. I am simply a steward, not only of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1), but also of anything God gives me here and now to use for Him. That includes my property, my home and garden, my cars, my bank balance, and so on. Everything. Jesus didn’t say to the rich young ruler, “Leave some of it in escrow and follow me.” He said, “Sell everything you have…Then come, follow me” (Luke 18:22).
The amazing thing is that when you live like this, you ind your own needs being met. Paul says to his generous friends in Philippi, “My God shall supply all your needs as you supply other people’s needs. That’s how it works. You supplied mine; God will supply yours” (Phil. 4:19).
I want my life to be characterized by generosity. I want people to see me giving it all, all the time, all the way. I want to because that’s what Jesus did for me. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” says Paul, “that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).
When you know the grace of Jesus, then it’s easy to respond in kind. Ask yourself: “How can I become poorer for Jesus?” This may not sit well in some circles today. I hear a lot of, “How can I become richer for Jesus?” Ask instead, “What can I give away? What would really cost me?”  Do you get rid of all your loose change in the offering, or do you empty your purse into the plate and walk ten miles home because you have no money to pay for a bus ride, as a friend of mine did one day in response to a missionary offering? Extreme? Maybe. But did I hear a laugh? A great, grand cosmic laugh? Does God love the one who learns the spiritual art of generosity in all its dimensions? Oh yes, very much!

“Well, Jill,” I hear you say, “I can’t do that. That’s taking this Christianity you talk about too far.” It’s a question of “Will you?” not, “Can you?” You can do anything God calls you to do.  “Well,” you say with relief, “God hasn’t ‘called’ me to be irresponsible with money.” True enough—God has simply asked you to give it all away. Come, follow Him. Like the rich young ruler, you will go away sad if you refuse to abandon your life—all you have and all you are—to God. It’s a choice. If you take the challenge, then you’ll be able to say with Paul, “I can do everything through Christ Who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Trusting Through Trouble

Dear Friends,
If trusting God during the trouble He allows to visit my life teaches me something new about Him, it also teaches me something new about myself. Learning trust (which I can never learn unless I have something to trust God for) shows me how far I have to go in my own growth and development. It shows me the caliber of my faith. Sometimes, in our daydreams, we run through some possible scenarios of suffering in our minds and imagine ourselves coping.  I have often done this. First, you set the scene. Someone you love has just been killed in a car crash. The policemen knock at the door to bring the bad news. I see myself receive it with grace and ask them in, give them a cup of tea (the English always do that in times of crisis), and witness to them of life after death. Somehow, we dream away and see ourselves doing a halfway decent job!  But I have found that reality is another thing altogether.
When I was a child, the Second World War drove my father to move his family to England’s Lake District. A particularly vicious air raid resulted in our piling into the car and running as far away from the bombs as we could. Seeing that everyone was doing the same thing, my father purchased a sturdy little cabin cruiser and deposited us on it until he could find suitable housing in our new environment. We two children loved living on the beautiful lake. We learned to be up early in the morning, dive over the side for a quick bath, and be ready for breakfast and school in no time flat.
I will never forget breaking the thin film of ice on the lake as winter came. It made us gasp and splutter, and mother would cook extra bacon and eggs, knowing what the experience would do to our appetites! No matter that, we knew how cold that water was and no matter how equipped we believed we were to face it; no amount of mental preparation could help us with the actual experience of jumping into that cold water.
In the same way, no matter how well we think we have prepared ourselves for the troubles we know will be our lot, no matter how much we’ve rehearsed our part, the actual experience takes our breath away. It’s like diving into that ice-cold water. You know exactly what ice-cold water must feel like. You are prepared to pay the price and plunge in anyway, believing that, once submerged, you are equipped to cope. As soon as you hit the water, however, the shock takes your breath away, and you find yourself sputtering and gasping. You are surprised at yourself, but you are learning something new.
Pain really hurts. Bodies really bleed. And trauma is traumatic! The mind can do its best to prepare us, but when we are in over our heads, we will find out exactly who we are and what our trust is made of!
So in what spirit will we accept these dark, difficult days and moments? We can grit our teeth and hunker down to wait out the storm with something akin to fatalism, or we can begin to trust God to bring something good out of a bad situation!

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Obeying God

Dear Friends, 
The will of God is not always easy. Sometimes it is kittens and robins, koala bears and woolly lambs. But at other times it’s snakes and reptiles, lions and tigers, and whales! And what if Jonah couldn’t swim and feared fish—especially big fish?
Or, if we can’t identify with Jonah, perhaps we can identify with the little worm God sent to eat the vine. He certainly found that obedience doesn’t always taste sweet! Just think of that poor little worm. The job God chose for him was no piece of cake—nor a piece of vine to be more precise! Worms don’t usually eat six-foot vines! But the Word says, “God provided a worm.”  He specially prepared the little thing, for He never calls without equipping. Even a worm can do what God wants him to do if he’ll obey his Maker.  Perhaps we cannot identify with Jonah—after all, we don’t think of ourselves as mighty prophets—but what about identifying with the little worm?
Have you ever looked at Nineveh as Jonah looked at it—or at the vine as the little worm did—and wanted to turn tail and run? What right thing has God called you to do? What words must be written, what phone call made, what relationship mended, what peace made? What teenager needs confronting, or what elderly person needs to be cared for? What action has God’s voice been directing you to take? Will you obey?
Do you even know how to start? For if you do not start, it is certain you will never finish! Why not take a lesson from the little worm? Just take the first bite. Do the first obvious thing. Even if you think it will poison you, do it anyway. Don’t worry about the second bite, or the third, or the fourth. Just start, and soon you will have finished the whole thing.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Supporting Obedience

Dear Friends,
You and I are Christians today, because somebody somewhere left his or her family to come and bring the Gospel to America. An unknown. A Mr. or Miss Nobody. Maybe he or she never got back to the homeland. Maybe they never saw their families again. But you and I know Christ, and we’re going to heaven because somebody left his or her own family to make that possible for our families. There are some people in the Christian body gifted by God to be evangelists, missionaries, and traveling teachers. In our modern context, there are all of the above engaging I all sorts of travel who are called to be away from their homes to do kingdom work in order to finish the Father’s business.
Our job is to support those families specifically, to pray for them continually and sympathetically, and to fill up that which is lacking while they are away. Above all, we need to encourage them and not criticize them.
A man came a long distance to see me just after Stuart had left for a three-month trip. He was a godly man; in fact, he’d been one of the men who had encouraged us to leave the business world and go into the ministry in the first place. That godly man, whom we looked up to, came all that way to tell me, “Jill, this way of life you and Stuart are leading cannot be right. This is unbalanced.”
That did not help me. In fact, it just about finished me off because I was struggling anyway with what I needed to do; what I knew I had to do.
That very day a marvelous Canadian missionary happened to be visiting me. She’d come to keep me company, knowing that Stuart had just left. She listened very quietly to what this gentleman was saying to me. When he’d left, she said, “You know, Jill, don’t worry about it. I know you’re concerned about the children. What are they seeing? They’re seeing cost and sacrifice modeled.  They’re seeing two parents who love each other to death and hate to be apart but do it for one reason: it’s the right thing to do for Jesus. And these kids are absorbing all that.” I dared to believe she was right. I don’t think there’s any doubt about one of the reasons all our kids are in ministry today. They all modeled after us.
Just don’t expect the world to stand up and applaud. Remember that people thought Jesus was crazy. Not only did He preach a radical message of forgiven sin and new life, He lived radically, too. He drew criticism by just doing what He was supposed to do. When He stayed home and did the expected, He was fine. But as soon as He started the radical stuff they all said, “He’s absolutely out of His mind.”
So you’re not going to get any help from the world or even from church people sometimes. But remember that your resource for encouragement, courage, and strength is in the care and provision of God.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How to Listen and Respond

Dear Friends,
Do you respond, or react, to criticism? I must confess I usually react first and respond later, but I have learned some lessons along the way! First I ask myself, is it true? Isaac D’Israeli said, “It’s much easier to be critical than correct.” If it’s a correct criticism, try to humble yourself and own it. Then ask the Lord how to proceed in dealing with it. If it isn’t true, you need to let it go rather than mull it over, rehearsing it late into the night or sharing it with friends on the phone, thereby keeping it alive.
Second, commit yourself to the Lord who judges fairly. After he had been judged by various people in varying degrees of hostility and accusation, the apostle Paul finally had to say, “It is a very small thing if I am judged by you.” Sometimes we have to leave the record in God’s hands, because we can’t control what others think and what they say about what they think, and how many people they tell, and whether or not what they tell is true. Often, when we try to go back and clean up our record, it only muddies the waters.
Third, Paul urges us not to spend valuable time judging ourselves on the matter. If we have endless postmortems over a situation, no kingdom work will ever get done! We need to take it to God and let His holy light into our hearts. We must open up the secret springs of our motivation for Him to examine, for He alone knows us through and through. Then as we commit our actions to His scrutiny, we need to rely on His judgment of the matter and, if it is possible, put right our part and leave the rest to Him.
Job found out that the one thing he needed to do above all else was to consider the source.  Sometimes a critic is motivated by jealousy (do you ever get the feeling that a person wants to see you fail?) or has some other spiritual ax to grind. So when someone says to you, “I have a word from the Lord for you,” check it out against what you know about the person bringing you the message. Then check it against what you already know about God. And don’t ignore what your own experiences of life have taught you. Job’s general knowledge of life had enabled him to say, in essence, “Were you just born yesterday? Open your eyes! Good people have trouble all the time.”
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Jesus Has Forbidden Me to Worry

Dear Friends,
It really helps me to know that anxiety is forbidden. “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1), counseled Jesus. I have noticed that worry and fear are near allies. Jesus tells us not to let worry dominate our lives. Don’t let it? That means we can do something to stop it—and that something is trust. The act of not letting worry dominate us but rather letting the peace of God dominate us is a learned art—a spiritual art.
Fearing for your life is forbidden by Jesus. In Matthew 6:27, Jesus asks, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” You can go to the grave having worried about all the days you weren’t going to live and have the opportunity to worry about! In fact, some of us will go to the grave having worried about keeping ourselves alive until the moment comes. It’s such a freeing thing to trust God with that. Put it in His backpack.
To the people of His day—and to us today—Jesus declared, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matt. 6:34).  If you trust, you do not worry; if you worry, you do not trust. Ask the Lord for the grace to trust Him.
When Stuart and I travel, particularly in England, we love to wander through English graveyards. Epitaphs are a source of interest and wonder to us. Just a line or two on a gravestone sets you wondering why that sentence was chosen to summarize the life of the one in the grave.  Here are a couple of my favorites: “Here lies a man who went out of the world without ever knowing why he came into it!” That’s sad. And another: “Here lies the Reverend so-and-so, who served God without enthusiasm—a Puritan’s grave! I have often wondered about my own gravestone. I don’t want someone to sum up my life with, “Here lies Jill Briscoe, who worried herself to death.”
We know that worry is a precursor of many physical problems. It is also evidence of all sorts of spiritual problems. For whatever is a lack of faith is sin. I would like to have my epitaph read, “Here lies Jill Briscoe, who overcame worry and fear with faith and helped others to do the same.” I’m working on making this statement true in my life.

Blessings,
Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Being Teachable

Dear Friends,
Learning new disciplines requires planning and setting aside time to submit to whatever it is these practices may require of us. In fact, a good first step is to take some time away to think about it. You might say, “But, Jill, I need God to teach me humility. How do I put that on my schedule?” Well, perhaps you could plan a mission trip where you get your hands dirty in a challenging project that requires compassion. This may mean setting aside other pursuits, such as learning to water-ski or taking a course to gain new skills in your vocation. Or it could be that you go to your pastor or other church leaders and ask that you be empowered to exchange leadership or teaching opportunities for following and serving opportunities for a period of time.  It may mean you take a self-learning theological study on the internet that will require submitting your life to some additional stress for a time. It is important that those who teach others also teach themselves. I don’t know what it will require in your case, but carefully consider the art you need to learn, and then submit to whatever time it takes to learn it.
It may be a matter of learning a skill or a character trait—gentleness, for example. Can you learn how to be gentle? Yes, you can learn how to be anything God wants you to be if you are teachable. Ask yourself, “How can I practice this character trait in my life?” Well, look around for a difficult person in your life. Most of us don’t have to look far. Think of your past dealings with this person. Have you been harsh, loud, or bossy? Have you been inflexible and unwilling to change tactics? Try gentleness. How? Submit to the Spirit’s working in you. Next time you talk to your difficult person, remember the Scripture that says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). It doesn’t mean that you allow this person to run all over you; it means you gently and firmly hold your ground, smile, and lovingly see that you are heard. That takes practice. But gentleness is a learned art.
They say old dogs can’t learn new tricks. Well, I am an old dog, and I’m still learning new tricks—but only insofar as I submit myself to the learning process, admit that I need to learn whatever is necessary to make me more mature in Christ, and make sure that I learn the how-tos as well as the principles of daily Christian living.

Blessings,
Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage

Dear Friends, 
What do you do when you’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’ in your marriage? Maybe you truly adored your husband in the beginning, but now you can’t remember why. Maybe you honestly admired his finer qualities, but now you can’t remember what they were. You once appreciated his wonderful attributes, but now you take them for granted.
Between taking out the garbage, paying the bills, running the car pool, mowing the lawn, disciplining the kids and folding the laundry, sometimes the passion of marriage gets lost. It happens to all of us at one time or another. We can get so busy taking care of life that we forget to take care of love.
No one gets married to have a long list of chores.
If you’re like me, you got married because you were madly in love and couldn’t imagine life without your man! You were passionately stirred beyond belief and couldn’t wait to tie the knot and spend the rest of your days with this incredible person God had miraculously brought into your life. Maybe you still feel that way. But maybe you could use a little reminder—a re-stoking of that passion.
In the book of Revelation, God had this to say to the church at Ephesus: I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first (Rev. 2:4). Ephesus was one of the most loving churches in the New Testament, and yet somewhere along the way they lost that initial thrill of knowing Christ. Their love for each other and for God had grown cold.
So how do you get that lovin’ feelin’ back? God gave the church two simple steps in Revelations 2:5a, and I believe we can apply them to our marriages as well: Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
  1. Remember how it was in the beginning.
  2. Return and do the things you did at first.
For most of us, the accumulation of small struggles can nibble like termites to undermine the foundation of what appears to be a healthy structure as surely as the unexpected, earth-shaking rumble of sudden disaster. And routine, even good routine, can rob us of the joy and passion of marriage … if we let it.
One day I took John’s words in Revelation to heart, and decided to “remember and return” by romancing my husband. One day I simply put a sticky note on his bathroom mirror that said, “I love you.” Another day I placed a box of Red Hot candy on his car seat with a note that said, “You’re a hottie.”
And you know what happened? Steve had a skip in his step and smile on his face. And what happened in me? I can hardly describe the love that welled up in me, as I loved my man well. Hear this … I changed. The passion was re-ignited.
I don’t have a personal story of how God took our marriage and miraculously transformed it into a storybook romance filled with white-knight rescues, relentless romance and rides into the sunset leaving all danger and darkness behind. Although our marriage has been all that at one time or another, it’s no fairy tale.
Our marriage is like a daily journal, one page after another, one day after another. I’m guessing just like yours. Some entries are smudged with tears; others are dog-eared as favorites. Some days are marred by unsuccessful erasures that couldn’t quite rub away the hurtful words said; others are finger-worn by the reading of precious events time and time again.
But on those days when I see my marriage slipping into the mundane cadence of passionless routine, I pull out my list of ideas, and put a smile on Steve’s face.
Lord, may that be my challenge today. When I see the fire needs stoking, help me remember and return. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Leave a comment and share one thing that drew you to your husband in the early days. We’ll randomly pick one comment and send a free copy of Sharon’s new book, A 14-Day Romance Challenge: Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage. 

Blessings,
Sharon Jaynes
Author
Guest Blogger

Sharon Jaynes is a conference speaker and author of 21 books. Her latest release, A 14-Day Romance Challenge is filled over 250 ways to reignite passion in your marriage and captivate your husband all over again. Learn more about Sharon’s resources at sharonjaynes.com