Sunday, November 19, 2017

Examining Your Roots

Dear Friends,
Will we ever get over succumbing to the devil’s notion that a tree planted by the river should be an object of pity? That a scrub bush has a much better handle on life? The devil wants us to believe he can supply all we need to deal with life itself if we will only bow down and worship him. That’s nonsense! Look at the lives of scrub bushes and pity them, for they have no roots and no river, no leaves when the heat comes, and no fruit. What’s so beautiful about that?
The simple principles are as follows. First ask yourself, “Do I possess the Spirit?” If not, or if you are unsure, make sure. Pray, “Please, God, will you forgive my sin and invade my life?” Then thank Him for answering your prayer. Second, having made sure of His Spirit in your life, ask yourself, “Do I know anything of living in the power of these spiritual truths?” If not, examine your roots. Next, spend time deciding which river you are placing your roots in. Change the situation if need be.
Think about the “sap” of Scripture. Does it fill your branches? What will you do about that if the answer is no? Will you purchase a good study Bible, sign up for a Bible course, buy some teaching tapes, or join a Bible study? Ask God to show you your tree as He sees it.
Is there any fruit on your tree? Are your branches laden with it, or is there a lone orange hanging on a twig? Read Gal. 5:22-23. Pray about this description of the fruit of the Spirit. Finally, as you put out your roots in the direction of the river, let them down into its depths. Then leave them there, and see what God will grow in your life and show in your life. 
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Friends Can Help You Recognize the Enemy

Dear Friends,
Sisters and brothers in Christ are never the enemy—although the real enemy would have us think so. Satan is the enemy and we must recognize his way of messing things up. He hates friendship as God has intended it to be because he knows the power of it.
I have a close friend who was having trouble with a difficult person in her church. They were friends and both were in leadership. She told me, “You know, we don’t agree on how this particular program should be run—or how to accomplish the plan—but I realized this division is not caused by my friend, but is the scheme of the devil wanting division among us. I’ve decided I’m going to take her to coffee and talk it out.”  She followed through and was able to say to her friend, “We’re both after the same thing, so let’s recognize who is causing this rift!” She stopped looking at the person as the enemy. Remember who you are fighting! Peter was unaware Satan was using him when Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matt. 16:23). Jesus did not say, “Peter, you are Satan;” He said, “Satan—you are Satan, and I recognize you and what you are trying to do.” Friends can help friends to recognize the enemy.
The word “friend” is associated with such words as benevolence, kindness, rapport, amicable.  Not hostile, but helpful and sympathetic. Don’t just look for a friend with these characteristics—be one! Remember, to find a friend, you must first be friendly.
And always make room for more friends. Investigate the friendships you have already, and widen the circle. Be inclusive, not exclusive. “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Eccl. 4:12).
Finally, give your friendships room to breathe. Don’t be possessive. Amy Carmichael says, “If, in the fellowship of service I seek to attach a friend to myself, so that others are caused to feel unwanted; if my friendships do not draw others deeper in, but are ungenerous (that is to myself, for myself) then I know nothing of Calvary love.” Calvary love is always concerned with the other’s well-being, irrespective of the cost to self. Calvary love freshens all friendships. Jesus in the end is the three-fold cord that binds a friendship together!
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The "Mind" of Our Spirit

Dear Friends,
What happens when our mind goes as we get old? Although the mind is our physical part that computes information and relays it to our spirits, “knowing” God is not, in the end, a thing of the physical mind. Understanding this has been a comfort to me. 
For years, I’ve been concerned about getting old and losing my mind! I’m sure you know the little rhyme that says: 

My glasses come in handy.
My hearing aid is fine.
My false teeth are juts dandy, 
But I sure do miss my mind!

Seriously, though, I have known people of faith whose minds have disintegrated. If I know God in my knowings and the knowing part of me becomes confused, what will happen then? David McKenna, in his book Whispers of His Grace, gives a personal illustration that has wonderfully released and relieved me. He has helped me realize that even though we may lose our sensibilities, our spirit goes right on knowing even though perhaps we aren’t aware of it. What a comfort that is! For the knowings I’m talking about are deeper than our physical mind, which will disintegrate. 
My wife, Janet, and I have just returned from the funeral of her only brother who died unexpectedly at the age of 67. Their ninety-two-year-old mother was in the nursing home vegetating in a senile state when my wife told her about the death of her only son. Noting registered. So they debated whether to take her to the funeral or not. Would she get cold? Would it be any point? And they decided to. Entering a side door, along a ramp for the handicapped, we were surprised to be ushered directly into the funeral parlor in full view of the mourners. Instantly we saw in the faces of the family the value of her being there and we heard the audible gasp of surprise from our friends. For her, however, no sign of recognition let us know she was aware of her being at her son’s funeral, despite the flowers, open casket, organ music, and tears. Watching her closely, I detected a light of awareness in her eyes as the minister read the Scripture, gave the eulogy, and offered a homily. Then to close the service the pastor asked us to join in the recitation of the twenty-third Psalm, which was printed on the order of service. At the sound of the first words, “The Lord is my shepherd,” a strong and firm voice began to lead the congregation. It was Mama! Without missing a single word, she led us through the Psalm. Awe swept over us, as we realized that Mom’s lifetime of reading, memorizing, and quoting the Word of God, brought her back to reality and became her promise when her only son died. After the dismissal, we took Mom forward to the casket. Squinting to see his face, she asked, “Is this my boy?” Janet said, “Yes, it’s Eldon.” With full awareness now, Mom asked her next question, “Did he make it to heaven?” Again, Janet said, “Yes, he’s in heaven with Joyce and Daddy now.” With that word of assurance, Mom lapsed back into her fog of senility and rode home without another word. In her, we saw “trusting love” at work. God’s promise had been engraved on her heart and her soul, and even after she’d lost touch with reality and her mind was disintegrating, it came back to her in the evidence that God had answered her prayer and fulfilled His promise. Never again will I assume that spiritual communication stops when it appears as if the mind is gone. Despite the suffering of senility, a lifetime of love is holding Mom in communion with her Lord.

Isn’t that comforting to know? God engraves His promises on our hearts—forever. We can count on our relationships with Him enduring anything. And a lifetime of walking with Him will always keep us in communion with Him!
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Friday, October 27, 2017

An Unlikely Response

Dear Friends,
Job, incredibly, does not declare war on God when disaster comes but rather responds in worship. That’s right—in worship! “The Lord gave me everything I had, and they were his to take away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21, TLB). It may strike you as a little weird that someone could lose everything he owns, as well as all his children, and say, “Praise the Lord,” but we need to look a little bit closer to get the real impact of Job’s amazing response. His trouble is the same trouble that comes to all of us, the just and the unjust, because of that original sin in the Garden of Eden. Job had actually wondered why God had kept the inevitable results of the Fall from visiting him for so long! He had been waiting for the sky to fall on his head for a long time: “What I always feared has happened to me. I was not fat and lazy, yet trouble struck me down” (Job 3:25-26, TLB). 
Some commentators believe Job had lived at least seventy years in peace and tranquility up to this point. But even though he resided in a wild environment, among roving bands of cattle thieves and vagabonds, when trouble first came to Job, he did not ask why, but rather, why not—because he knew trouble was to be expected. He understood that the Lord may well give, or the Lord may well take away. In accepting this, Job found a measure of peace when trouble eventually came, and he refused to charge God with wrongdoing. He would not interpret this trouble as proof of a flaw in God’s perfect nature. He insisted that God is a holy God and has a perfect right to give or to withhold his blessing and protection. And so Job passed his first test with flying colors. 
Would you have come through with flying colors? Would you have charged God with wrongdoing?  Do you believe that God is in control over your suffering—not causing it—but sovereignly watching over it? Suffering gives us the opportunity to learn something new about God and ourselves. Pray that God will help you have the right response to your suffering like Job did.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Monday, October 2, 2017

Doing Something Positive with the Negatives

Dear Friends,
Along with four other women, Elisabeth waited by a shortwave radio for what must have seemed like an eternity, listening for a message from their husbands, who had taken a flight into hostile Indian territory. The young couples had been trying to reach the Auca Indians in Ecuador with the gospel. When no message was received, a search party was sent out after the men, and eventually the dreadful truth was discovered. The young missionaries were found lying facedown in the river, killed by the poisoned lances of the Indians. 
This terrible happening had not been on Elisabeth’s agenda! She and her husband, Jim, had been looking forward to a missionary career together. Now her whole world had crashed around her. 
Elisabeth discovered she had a choice. She could resign herself to the situation and return home with her young daughter, or she could ask the Lord, “In what redemptive way can you use this?”
Elisabeth chose to trust God to do something positive with the negatives. And she decided to be part of the action. She and her young daughter and Rachel Saint (Nate Saint’s sister) bravely set off into the jungle and found the tribe that had killed Nate and Jim. The women were well received and allowed to make their home among the Indians. After the Bible was translated and the gospel shared, many in the tribe turned to Christ. Later, Nate and Marge Saint’s daughter, Kathie, was baptized in the river where her daddy had died. Truly God used that particular situation in a redemptive way. God wants to buy up the opportunities that come our way as we learn to trust Him and to use trouble as a springboard for action. 
Trusting God brings a certain element of hope to our hearts—a confident expectation that all is not lost and that there is something redeemable in the most awful situation. This trust is a tenacious, spiritual insistence that God can be trusted not only to be totally and thoroughly aware of our dilemmas, but also to be in control and already taking eternal measures to work out His ultimate purposes.
“But,” you may ask, “what are we supposed to trust God to do for us?” To right the wrong? To reverse a disease? To bring our loved ones back from the dead or an unfaithful spouse home again? Sometimes God does the unbelievable, but other times He doesn’t. There are, however, certain things we can bank on Him doing. 

Dare to trust God that He can redeem any difficult circumstances in your life. He will.  

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Saturday, September 23, 2017

When Feelings Fail You

Dear Friends,
“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is light to you.” ~ Psalm 139: 11-12
It’s truly hard to cope with feelings that overwhelm us or, worse, to go through difficult times without any good or comforting feelings. When we deal with the unseen world—the world of faith and spiritual life—it’s even harder. When it’s so dark all around us that we can’t “see” or “feel” God at all, we are tempted to put our trust in a real, live, concrete person and not in an unseen Spirit. And, yet the growing we do at this level is really independent of feelings, sight, and touch. It has to do largely with the unseen, not the seen; the unknowable, not the knowable; and with God, not us. 
If there is one major lesson I have learned about myself in times of trouble, it is that I need to live in my knowings and not my feelings, because I cannot trust my feelings. My feelings leave me gasping and spluttering as I dive into the cold waters of trouble. This is hard for those of us who like to live our lives in the feeling realm. And it’s especially hard when we are hurting through our physical and emotional senses. Job struggled with this. He needed someone to touch him. He needed to feel his wife’s arms around him. But the Scriptures say she wouldn’t come near enough to comfort him with that loving touch he so desperately needed. “My breath is offensive to my wife,” he said. We get a sense of Job’s feelings about his feelings in chapter 23. Job wanted, about all else, to “connect” with God, to sense His real and necessary presence. But he couldn’t “find Him.” It was as if God did not exist in Job’s personal universe anymore. “If only I knew where to find Him,” he laments. “If only I could go to His dwelling! But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him” (Job 23:3,8). “Where is he?” Job cries out. He cannot see God’s face. He feels that God is hiding from him. Above all, Job longs to talk to God about it all, but God seems to be absent. And Job was feeling this for perhaps the very first time in his life. 
Have you ever felt that way? The Bible talks a lot about walking by faith and not by sight. The Word of God often uses metaphors of light shining in the darkness of our minds. This is the light of knowledge that God is, that God is there, that God is good, and that God is concerned with our well-being even when we don’t feel His presence. God’s face is always turned toward us, not away from us. Just because we don’t feel Him doesn’t mean He is absent. He is with us in our trouble—always.  
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Persisting Through the Pain

Dear Friends,
When you can’t praise God for what He allows, try praising Him for who He is in the middle of what He allows. The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and He is the Spirit of perseverance. A friend who serves the Lord in France and has seen her hard-won converts falling by the wayside, moving out of the area, or just becoming so discouraged they stopped coming to the mission altogether, keeps on keeping on. “So who is He for you, Cathy?” I asked her. “He’s wonderful,” she replied, her eyes shining. “He’s so wonderful it doesn’t even matter that everything is so dreadful. I can praise Him for who He is even in this mess!” If we are oriented to performance and results, it’s hard to remember that obedience—faithfulness and persistence—is all He asks of us. Praise helps us remember that.
Praise helps us to stop worrying so much about the outcome. It helps us trust Him more. It reminds us God is big enough, strong enough, and loving enough to sustain and help—even when we feel useless. Praise lifts our lagging spirits. In fact, Isaiah tells us God will give us “the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isa. 61:3).
Chuck Swindoll writes about pain being “one of the few things we all have in common.” “Maybe,” he says, “You are the one with the crushed spirit right now—the hidden heartache that is too deep for words and too private for prayer chains.” If this is so, ask God to use pain positively in your life to grow the beautiful and fragrant flower of persistence.
Spend time in James 5:10-12 and ask God to work in your heart a mighty enabling to endure.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Friday, September 8, 2017

Believing God Can

Dear Friends,
Remember Martha, Mary, and Lazarus? When Lazarus died, Martha was hurt that Jesus had not come and healed Him. After all, she and Mary had sent Him an urgent message, telling Him their brother was very ill. Jesus asked Martha if she believed He was the resurrection and the life. She replied that she did. She stood in front of friends and foe alike and testified that Jesus was able to raise the dead (John 11:24). “Then take away the stone from his grave,” said Jesus. “Lord,” Martha replied at once, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been dead for four days.”
That’s Martha—ever the practical thinker! But you see, she hadn’t applied the truth to her own heart. She had been taught by Jesus enough to believe He was God and He could indeed raise the dead. But she had not stayed still long enough to believe He was her God and would raise her dead! She could not roll away the stone.
The last glimpse we get of Martha is in John, chapter 12, where we read that “Martha served.”  The occasion was another gathering of Jesus and the disciples; it was in fact a dinner in Jesus’ honor given in the house of Simon the Leper. This time, however, Martha received no rebuke from her Lord. Martha was doing what she did best. As was Mary, who offered Jesus her little alabaster box of ointment. The house was filled with the fragrance of Martha’s cooking, her gift of practicality, and with the fragrance of Mary’s perfume, her gift of praise. Both aromas alerted everyone to the fact that Christ was present.

There are two sorts of believers; those who believe He “could”—like Martha, and those who believe He “would”—like Mary. The difference lies in the choice we make: the choice to serve Him first. This choice will certainly not mean we will be any less busy! But our busyness will be Christ-directed, Christ-honoring, and Christ-empowered. We will be running, but never running on empty!
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Praise Prepares Us for Problems

Dear Friends,
Learning to receive the good gifts of God, praising Him, and cultivating a thankful attitude in general, gets us into the right frame of mind to accept the problems of life. Job and his family had been the recipients of God’s free blessings for seventy years. Their hands had been open wide, stretched out toward heaven, to receive all the Lord gave them. Job refused to take those same outstretched hands and clench them into fists to shake in the face of God when the gifts of grace, health, wealth, and happiness were withheld. After all, the Giver of gifts has a perfect right to give or to withhold. He is under no obligation to us whatsoever. Having been a truly thankful man all his life helped Job when he had nothing to be thankful about. Praise prepares us for problems. It doesn’t keep trouble away, but it gets us ready for trouble when it comes.
Are you a negative or a positive person? Even if your personality or circumstance leads you to live in the shadows rather than the light, you can begin to discipline yourself to think about the good, not the evil, side of life. Paul enjoins us to do just that. “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about” (Phil 4:8).
A dear friend stricken with terminal cancer wrote to me along these very lines. She said, “I have existed in a healthy body for so many years, this is all so new to me. Oh yes, I do clench my fists at times. It’s still difficult to accept and understand since there is no history of cancer in my family and I have practiced all the healthy habits all of these years. But again and again, prayer and thanksgiving bring me back to an understanding and to an attitude of gratitude. I’ve been blessed in so many ways.” How is your attitude?

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, August 24, 2017

His Plan for Your Life

Dear Friends,
I did not experience faith that works until I understood that God had a plan for my life. Not just a general plan to help me finish school, get a job, marry the man of my dreams, and have kids—but a specific plan. A plan that He planned for me before I was even conceived.
I understood that my parents had a plan for my life. They carefully planned for my schooling.  They did the very best they could in postwar Britain to be thinking ahead and saving for my education.
The idea that God also had a plan and that His was the master plan for my life never occurred to me. Unlike my parents, teachers, and boyfriends, I couldn’t see God, didn’t know Him, and was not remotely interested in Him or His plans. I had absolutely no idea that God had any personal interest in me at all. I considered it responsible behavior to take charge of my own affairs. I was an eighteen-year-old college student, intent on making my own plans for my own life. I appreciated all that the adults in my life had done for me up to that time, but I thought “growing up” meant relieving them of their responsibility and charting my own course. It was going to be my own business to choose my path, partner, and philosophy of living. I had never opened a Bible so had never read any biblical concepts on the subject.
But one day all that changed. God told Jeremiah that He had a plan for his life when Jeremiah was young and inexperienced, and He told me the same when I was young and inexperienced, too. One day I met a girl who was marching to the beat of another drummer. She told me I would never be happy until I connected with God. She had a meaningful life, a sense of purpose, and an unshakable faith in a higher being. She told me that God in love had a plan for her—and that He had done the same for me. I was fascinated, not least because of her vibrant personality that I knew was somehow connected with her faith.
Compared to hers, my own life with all my plans appeared colorless and insipid. Could it be that God was a personal God who cared about me and planned for me in love? Step-by-step my new friend led me to the Cross of Christ and a Savior who died for me in order that I might live with Him forever.
When I asked Him to forgive my sin, my arrogant self-reliance, and my godless independence, I found myself at the beginning of a great adventure—living life according to the grand cosmic plan of God. It’s a wonderful thing to find the Lord in your youth. I thank God for His grace that found me while I still had a lifetime to love and serve Him.
Who is making the plans for your life? You? Your parents, teachers, or friends? Do you know that God has a wonderful plan for your life and that you will never be satisfied until you find that plan by submitting your whole self to Him?
God told Jeremiah that before He even formed Him in his mother’s body He had already figured out the master plan for his life. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” He told him (Jer. 1:5). Think about it. Before Jeremiah existed for anyone else to know, God knew him. And before I was me to know, God knew me. He as surely has plans for you and me as He has for Jeremiah. Before we were conceived in the womb, He knew us! In fact, this knowing and purposeful choosing of God predates our conception.
Like any loving father, our heavenly Father has a plan and purpose for all of His children. In fact, the Bible says, “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future’” (Jer. 29:11). God was talking to Israel, but He wants to give all of His children, including you, hope and a future.

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Thursday, August 17, 2017

It's "Not Fair"!

Dear Friends,
In Ecclesiastes 3:16, the Teacher says “And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there.” Later the Teacher comments, “There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve” (Eccl. 8:14).  What’s more, he warns, “God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked” (Eccl. 3:17).
Have you ever said, “It’s not fair?” You’re right, life isn’t always fair. It stopped being fair in the garden the day of the Fall. Yet God has put a sense of what is right and what is wrong—what is fair—deep down in our being. What’s fair and unfair raises its voice inside us, so even a small child will appeal to some unseen yet known standard of right and wrong.
When our two children Judy and David were in kindergarten, David hated to sing. One day their teacher in the small one-room schoolhouse asked the children if they would like to sing. Most responded “Yes!”
“Put your hand up if you don’t want to,” the teacher demanded. David put his little hand up.  “Good,” he thought, “she’s going to tell me it’s all right if I don’t join in.”
“Go and stand in the corner!” the teacher thundered at David. He did, and stayed there throughout the class. Judy was horrified. Watching her brother standing there, his little face to the wall, her five-year-old mind saw the injustice of it. She got to her feet, the tears running down her face. It’s no fair! It’s no fair!” The teacher turned a wrathful eye upon David’s little sister and said, “What’s not fair?”
“You asked him if he wanted to,” the little girl replied. “You asked him if he wanted to sing, and he told you!”
Good point, Judy. She was still sobbing when I picked the kids up that afternoon. We all need to do a little more sobbing, I think. There is injustice in the world at every level and we need to address it at every level.
Why does God allow it when He has the power to stop it? You may ask. Finding myself facing that question like so many others on 9/11, I resorted to a verse in Deuteronomy: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (29:29).
One thing He has revealed is that life here on earth will be full of injustice and sorrow until He has made a new earth where righteousness reigns. Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We who profess to know the Lord are to live rightly in a “wrongly” world! To shine as lights in the darkness and do our level best to point out inequities.
“Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen.18:25). Yes indeed, He will! He will bring everything to judgment. Meanwhile, we need to do right too.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Is God Governor of Your Marriage?

Dear Friends,
There is a story in John 2 about Jesus going to the wedding in Cana. You know the story—He was invited as a guest, and He went graciously and sat beside all the other guests. As custom would have it, the governor of the feast sat between the bride and groom at the head table. He was in charge of the wedding; he gave the orders.
During the feast, a serious thing happened—the wine ran out. Instead of going to the governor (whom they should have gone to) the servants went to Mary. They said, “The wine’s run out.” It doesn’t say why they went to Mary. Maybe they went to her because she was in charge of the food and the wine. They didn’t know what they were going to do. It would have been a disgrace in that culture to run out of food or drink. They certainly didn’t look to Jesus for a miracle because He hadn’t done any yet. But still, when Mary told them to, they approached Jesus and told Him, “The wine’s run out.”
Jesus said, “Fill the jars with water…Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet” (John 2:7-8). And the servants obeyed, even though they were risking their jobs by doing what He told them to do. As far as they knew, they believed they would be serving water, but they poured the drink anyway—and the miracle happened. The governor was very surprised and exclaimed, “This wine is better than any we’ve had before!” In fact, he said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2:10).
Jesus turned the water into wine when He took over and gave the orders.
Let’s take that story and use it as a picture of marriage for a minute. So many people I know want Jesus as a guest at their wedding, but they do not want Him as the governor of their marriage. And I believe that both spouses have to make sure that Jesus is the governor of their marriage. First, He must be governor of their lives individually. How do you know if He’s the governor? As Mary said to the servants in the story, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). What about you? Are you doing what He’s telling you to do? Are you being obedient? Is He governor?

When Jesus quit being the guest in that marriage and that wedding and became the governor, He turned the water into wine, and the Bible tells us it was better than anything they’d had before. In the same way, I believe marriage can be incredibly exciting, better than anything that has gone before. He, as the Scripture says, has “saved the best wine till now.” All the problems that show up on surveys do not need to be if the principle of Christian partnership is right, if God is the God of your individual life, and if God is the governor of your relationship with your husband.
Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

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