Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Where is God in Our Priorities?

Dear Friends,
When I was very young, I believed that all wisdom definitely resided in my mother.  She alone was the fount of all knowledge, the safest and surest way to find the truth about my small world.  As I burst into my turbulent teens, my friends replaced her.  Together we rearranged the parental values we agreed had been laid upon us into a more comfortable place to live.
By the time college rolled around, I decided to rationalize my sin and call it growing up.  This was after a boyfriend suggested if I had never been drunk, my maturity was suspect and my education somewhat lacking!  Such maturity and knowledge went together, he insisted.
Then I became ill and was rushed to the hospital.  Here my view of what was really important was redefined in a hurry!  Life view of what was really important was redefined in a hurry!  Life and health became a sudden and vital neccessity.  These basic values were modeled by a dedicated medical staff.  Up to this point I had put no value on death whatsoever.  “Why should youth value age?”  I reasoned.
The Scriptures command us, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say,’I find no pleasure in them’” (Eccles. 12:1).  But I had never read this particular verse—and if I had, would have considered it a very upside-down way of doing things!
Facing this immediate medical crisis focused my eighteen-year-old life.  It also taught me that fears revealed my priority system.  The trivial concerns my protected environment had produced to this point in my life had to do with fears of failure—of my place on the tennis team or losing my boyfriend.  Now I realized that what I feared, I valued.  Brought face to face with death and the possibility of my personal demise, I realized the “light” priority I had placed upon life itself, my very existence as a person.  Then and only then did I begin to fear the Lord!  He, after all, was the One who held my life in His hands.
And so I came to Christ and my focus did an about—face.  My family and friends stood back in shock as I began to be involved in church, Bible studies, prayer and witnessing.  Now I was discovering that we spend our time doing the things we value most!  In other words, our activities give a clue to our value system!  This was where wisdom began for me.  Now I believed that Jesus was the point of all knowledge, His Word the explanation.  He is the truth, not a truth.  And for me, it has been so ever since.

Blessings,
Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How Open is Your Home?

Dear Friends,
In Scripture hospitality is not a gift but a command.  And, incidentally, it didn’t have much to do with women in the beginning.  In 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8 it is the men who are commanded to be hospitable; the word actually means “the love of strangers.”  Strangers would often come into the local church or assemble (often a large home), as it was called, and as they did, a leader would make a beeline for them and take them to his home to “the little woman,” who hopefully had the gift of hostessing.  Hospitality involves hostessing: what you do with the people who come into your home.
Hostessing, that lovely gift that you might or might not possess, is the ability to make the environment such that the stranger feels welcome—to make it comfortable, to make it pleasant, to make it as pretty as you can with what you’ve got.  The idea is to make it a place people want to come to.  That’s the gift of hostessing, and you know as well as I do that some people have it and some people don’t!
I wonder about Peter’s wife, whose home became a meeting place for the masses. When I get to heaven I want to ask Peter’s wife a lot of questions.  How did she cope?  I want to ask her if she had the gift of hostessing.  The Bible doesn’t really tell me, and that frustrates me.  Was she an introvert or an extrovert?  Did it drain her to be surrounded by people or did she thrive on it?  Some people do thrive on all this activity.  Being around others energizes them.  They run down in solitude.
When the whole town is gathered at your door, what do you do, human that you are?   I have found that I just cope.  What I really think is that it doesn’t matter if you have the gift of hostessing or not.  It doesn’t matter what your personality type is either, because when the world is at your door, you simply do it.  You put the kettle on.  If a loaf of bread is all you have in the house, you make toast.

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Money Trap

Dear Friends,
One definition of “rich” is: “the general word to describe one who has more money or income—producing property than is necessary to satisfy his normal needs.”  And there’s the trap!  We are convinced we need more because we still have “needs” to meet and are conned into thinking that money can buy us the happiness that seems just out of our grasp.  Which of us reading this is indeed rich according to that definition?  Surely, nearly all of us.  But the devil baits the money trap with greed—cheese, and church mice are just as likely as nonbelievers to get more than their whiskers caught in this one!
The greed—need tempts all of us to strive to catch up to and live up to the particular family of Joneses who live beyond our particular garden fence.  The problem is a greedy little something inside every one of us that is never satisfied with merely having its needs met—it wants its wants to be met, too!  If we set about getting our wants met, we will find ourselves wanting more than the “enough” that meets our needs.
In fact, the more we get, the more we want.  Webster’s says that greed is “an excessive desire forgetting or having (especially wealth); a desire for more than one needs or deserves; avarice.”  It expands this definition: “Wanting or taking all that one can get with no thought of others’ needs.”  Greed is “getting” obsession—a religion all of its own, leading to idolatry.  This greed-need is part of every human heart, part of our “earthly nature”.  Every single human being is born with a greedy heart.  What, for example, is usually the first word articulated by a toddler in respect to his worldly goods, mainly toys?  “Mine!”
I have a vivid picture of my little girl, age three, gathering up her favorite toys, books, and even clothes into the small circle of her arms and carrying them protectively all over the house.  You see, Judy had two brothers, one older and one younger!  I can still see her little frowning face, telling me she was worried because she couldn’t carry all her belongings to safety.
One of the things we discover as we know Christ and increasingly experience his life in us is a growing spirit of generosity: a willingness to share.  Thinking again of our three-year-old Judy—trying to survive as the middle child and endeavoring to carry all her worldly goods along with her—gives me a vivid image of what many adults do when they are caught in the money trap.  For Judy, generosity came with maturity.  I wish I could say the same is true for everyone!  We all need to realize that generosity is God’s antidote to greed.  If we suspect we are addicted to money or the possession or other.  Look around to see if someone needs that particular thing more than you do.  Pray about it.  If you are honest, you may realize that the thing has you in its power.  Give it away speedily!

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Garment of Grace

Dear Friends,
Back in the sixties when masses of street people came to Christ and into the church, people made such a fuss over them as they gave their testimonies and sang their weird music.  Meanwhile, good little church kids who had always obeyed and stayed close to home watched with resentment.  No one had ever killed the fattened calf for them!
There is another story that illustrates how very difficult the fattened calf can be.  A woman I met at a conference told me how she was sexually abused as a small child by her father.  She grew up, overcame the emotional damage that had been done, and eventually married a missionary.  Years later, after her children were fully grown, she received a letter from her father telling her he had become a Christian and had asked God for forgiveness and received it.  He had, moreover, realized he had sinned dreadfully against her, and was writing to ask for her pardon.
Feelings she didn’t know were there suddenly surfaced.  It wasn’t fair!  He should pay for what he had done, she thought bitterly.  It was all too easy.  And now he was going to be part of the family!  She was sure her home church was busy killing the fattened calf for him and that she would be invited to the party!  She was angry, resentful, and determined “she would not go in.”
Then she had a dream.  She saw her father standing on an empty stage.  Above him appeared the hands of God and in them a white robe of righteousness.  She recognized it at once, for she was wearing one just like it!  As the robe began to descend toward her father, she woke up crying out, “No!  It isn’t fair!  What about me?”
The only way she could finally rejoice, as her heavenly Father “pleaded” with her to do, was to realize that her earthly father was now wearing the same robe that she was.  They were the same in God’s sight.  It had cost His Son’s life to provide both those robes.  As she began to see her father clothed with the garments of grace, she was able to begin to rejoice.
The fact is, we brothers and sisters in Christ need each other.  If we wear the same robe, we must learn to work together for the Father’s sake.  There are people in the far country who need us—people still mired in the muck of the pigsty.  They are waiting to hear the good news.  If we can unite our hearts as we share the Father’s inheritance, then we are well on the way to delighting His heart.  He loves to look down from heaven and see living harmony between His own.
My mother used to say that when she had gone she wanted only one thing from my sister and me.  She wanted to know we would keep in touch and work on our relationship.  I never really understood why she felt so strongly about it until I had my own three children.  Now they are adults and I too work hard at promoting harmony and understanding among them.  History repeats itself as I ask them to continue working on loving each other after I am no longer here.
Both of the prodigal sons (yes, there were really two) were running on empty!  Both had wandered away.  Yet the love of their father never wavered.  And the same is true for us.  The Father is waiting with open arms.  His Son died for all prodigals, and He and His angels rejoice when each one returns home to Him.  And He wants us to rejoice together when that happens.  We can make Him happy by making Calvary worthwhile.

Blessings,

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine