Ahhh, February. The month of love. Any of you guys out there reading this better have “buy chocolate for ____________” on your calendar…
We gals really appreciate it even if we say, “Oh no, please do not buy me any this year.” Just know we do NOT. MEAN. A. WORD. OF. IT. (!!!)
This month we’re going to have some fun with four different kinds of love:
Love for God,
Love for Spouse,
Love for Family, and
Love for Friends.
We’ll be exploring ideas from God’s Word and from excellent authors who can teach us a thing or two or ten.
Just when I thought our beloved Naples, Florida couldn’t get any better, Hubster and I were blessed with an unbelievable opportunity to enjoy it even more. On Sunday, January 24th, we attended Covenant Church of Naples (www.covenantnaples.com).
Pastor Trent Casto delivered a sermon on ‘The Lion of Hell” which caused each of us to walk out of there with both eyes open, hearts beating more rapidly, and much more on the alert for the prowling lion/thief/father of lies who’s looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) Translation: Major wake-up call!
In addition to being blessed by an applicable sermon, we noticed in Covenant’s bulletin we could return on Wednesday to have “Breakfast with the Briscoes”. As in Jill, Stuart, and Pete Briscoe! For real???
Guessing many of you have either heard of the Briscoes or have read one of their many, many excellent books. Their books cover every topic you can imagine such as Bible studies, women’s ministries, prayer, marriage, family, aging, renewal, children’s books, etc.
Two of my personal favorites are Time Bandits: Putting First Things First (LifeChange Books) by Stuart
And A Little Pot of Oil: A Life Overflowing (LifeChange Books) by Jill
Stuart and Jill hail from England, married in 1958, and praises to our Lord landed in the United States, ministering at Elmbrook Church (www.elmrook.org) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for thirty plus years. They’re “retired”, altho’ still travel and speak everywhere while being in their 80’s! They are still goin’ strong. Stuart said when asked when they were going to quit speaking, “As long as we’re able, we’ll go!”
Their youngest son, Pete, pastors Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Dallas (www.benttree.org). He, too, has written several books. He is very articulate, clearly loves the Lord, and is fun to watch interact with his parents.
The three of them have an amazing ministry, in addition to all they do via www.tellingthetruth.org. It offers messages that are broadcast all over the world via six hundred radio stations in eight different countries! Their website is a wonderful resource with invaluable teaching. (Podcasts, etc. are available PLUS they have a FREE APP you can download on your phone!)
Let’s get to the questions Pastor Trent posed to the three Briscoes. Each and every one of us can benefit from these. Consider your love for God in each of these scenarios:
QUESTION #1 – How do you find joy and purpose in your everyday life?
Stuart said we must keep everything in perspective, especially from our human vantage point. He quoted Theologian Dr. Vernon Grounds who said, “aging means diminishing”. We must embrace slowing down, finding joy in each and every stage.
He told us he loves enjoying different generations. He and Jill are blessed with three children and thirteen grandchildren. Each month, he asks his grandchildren for a few sentences’ worth of an update—for their “beings and doings in the last month”. Then he publishes them in “Pappa’s Monthly Round-Up” so they can keep up with one another. Grandparents, take note!
Stuart told us he used to be a runner. One day he was out jogging and became really tired. He slowed to a walk and suddenly realized what he’d been missing: trees in bloom, green, green grass, blue skies, he heard birds singing, etc. He added, “It’s amazing what you see when you take the time to slow down.”
He quipped that in England there’s a trajectory to your life: you start out playing rugby, then soccer, then you just run, then you walk and play golf, and finally you become a bird watcher. We all laughed at this, and yet while Stuart said he and Jill are now birdwatchers, they still were quite spry moving around on the stage, up and down the steps, etc. He may have been fooling all of us!
Pete said one lesson he’s learned was that he does not find joy and purpose in success. He pointed us to Galatians 5:22-23 which lists the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
He said, “Joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit. We must be available to the Spirit and receive joy and purpose from Him.”
Jill said when you can’t praise Him for what He’s allowed, praise Him for what He has done. She cited cancer as an example. She doesn’t believe we should praise Him for the cancer, but praise Him for our caregivers, medicine working, family surrounding us, etc.
Praise Him that we find joy in Jesus, within us. There’s joy in serving Him. Look for the invisible qualities of God that are visible in His Creation. She cited Psalm 16:11 which says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy…”
QUESTION #2 – Each of you are leaders in different capacities. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned?
Stuart replied that “leaders are intended to lead with followers following—a followship if you will.” He offered three suggestions:
A – Lead them where they are, not where you think they should be.
B – Lead in the direction they’re willing to go, not where you’re determined they should go.
C – Move at their speed, not yours.
IF you’re able to accomplish all three of these, two things will happen:
1 –Rapport is built.
2 –Momentum is generated. As a leader, you need momentum because nobody can steer a stationary vehicle!
Pete said he loves the opening line of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life: “It’s not about you….” He said, “As a leader, you must remember that!”
Two levels to consider are “is this working?” and “is this not working?”, all the while remembering it’s not about you! Piece of cake, right???
Pete quoted Bill Hybels’ book Courageous Leadership illustrating the difference between “Capitol L” leaders and “Little ‘l’” leaders. He talked about leaders who are visionary, entrepreneurial, motivational, directional, strategic and managerial. Many audience members nodded recognizing some of their own particular styles.
He admitted, “It’s tough to not get hung up on performance. At the end of the day, people still want to know how well you know Jesus, not how well you perform.” John and I talked about this later and he said, “This reminds me of that saying, ‘People don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care.’” Amen.
Jill confessed she’s quite the instigator, full of ideas. While this is a gift of hers, putting the ideas all together, coming up with a plan, and implementing it is not. Therefore, she learned to invite help.
When she and Stuart first arrived at Elmbrook, she realized she was the “minister’s wife”, therefore she must surely have a job to do. She gathered the women of the church and asked them to write out what their expectations of her were. (Can you imagine?)
Not surprisingly, their lists, upon lists, upon lists of expectations not only overwhelmed Jill, but she almost instantaneously realized she could do nothing on those lists!
After her cup of tea in a time of crisis (great suggestion!!!), she realized, thanks to the Lord, she’d just chip away a la Ecclesiastes 9:10 and “do unto the Lord”. Even if her efforts were bad, she was trying with all her might and praying harder than ever.
QUESTION #3 – In your own walk in Christ, what is the single greatest discipline a Christian should develop?
Jill suggested three things: prayer, solitude, and silence. No performance. She said, “Jesus will mentor you when you pray to Him.”
Jill recalls a visit to Viet Nam thirty years ago. They were led to a secret church. After hearing Jill pray, one young gal who’d also risked her life to be there said, “I love how well you know Jesus. I want to know Him like you do.” Jill realized that how we pray suggests how deep our relationship is to the Lord. Now that will make you think!
Stuart believes there’s more than one discipline. He said, “Both dependence and obedience are required.” These produce trust. Let that soak in a minute…
He pointed us to Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 where He tells His disciples to “go and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to obey all the commands I’ve given you…”
Pete believes the discipline of knowing who you really are is of paramount importance. He threw us a curve ball. He asked, “How many of you are sinners in need of a savior?” To which we all raised our hands.
He corrected us by saying, “We shouldn’t identify ourselves as sinners, we are saints now, saved by grace. Perhaps we’re saints who sometimes sin, but we cannot mistake our identities…
There’s so much Christ has purchased for us. Knowing Him more today than yesterday should be our goal.” How great is your love for God?
After the Q & A we had the opportunity to receive two books:
Improving with Age: God’s Plan for Getting Older and Better by Jill and Stuart Briscoe
Experiencing Life Today: 365 Day Devotional by Pete Briscoe
Sadly the morning flew by and it was time to leave. Pete, Stuart and Jill all gave John and me lots to discuss and ponder. We got to meet and speak with each of them and they were positively lovely, engaging and sincere. Their love for God is contagious.
Take the time to explore their website: www.tellingthetruth.org. You will be blessed!
‘Til next time!