Demo of Julie's Bible Reference Library

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Master of the Calm

Treasured friend,

Throughout this week I've been in desperate need of rest ... because of work obligations and deadlines, and more so because of sleep depravation (partially due to worrying about Dad's health and my friends' parents' deteriorating conditions far into the wee hours of the mornings).

In that state of mind, I found myself proofreading final pages for the soon-to-be released updated edition of my book, Conquering the Time Factor. I ran across this passage -- and it spoke to me right where I was. Somehow, I thought it might minister to you, as well. So, here 'tis.

Rest. It is an endangered commodity in this chaotic twenty first century. And yet, chaos cannot snuff out true rest. Don’t believe me? If you have a Bible nearby, take a quick read through Mark 4:36-41. It’s the story of Jesus and His disciples in a boat in the middle of a storm. The disciples respond to the storm just as I would—with disquiet and fear, straining at the oars, trying to survive the situation with brute strength bolstered by huge surges of adrenaline. Their spirits are in an agitated state that is the antithesis of rest.



Jesus, on the other hand, well let’s read how He responds in verse 38: “Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.” It’s always bugged me that Jesus could be so calm, so at rest, in the middle of a storm. While He’s enjoying a cushy, comfortable sleep, the boat is being swamped with squalls and assaulted by violent air currents. When the petrified disciples finally succeed in rousing the Master, He stands, looks around, tells the waves to be quiet and sits back down—reproaching the disciples for their lack of faith. And I’m left shaking my head. You see, He hasn’t changed. He’s still calm in addressing my life storms today. He’s calm, while I’m an absolute wreck. Jesus, how can you be so CALM? It’s a storm. It’s scary. That lightning packs a punch! It’s bigger than I am. And it’s out of control. Don’t you care?


It shouldn’t surprise us that Jesus is calm in a storm, and that He can bring calm to a storm. It shouldn’t surprise us because the God of the Old Testament is also surrounded by a calm. Consider how God showed Himself to the prophet Elijah.



The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13)

When He appeared to Elijah, God allowed the shattering wind and the earthquake and the fire to precede Him, but He Himself was in the calm, not in the chaos. And it wasn’t until the quiet came that His gentle whisper was evident.

And so, my exhausted fellow caregiver, I challenge you to use at least a sliver of what's left of this Lord's Day to find a place of calm and quiet to refresh your body--as well as your soul. It will be there if you listen and look for it. You'll find this gift awaiting you, from the quiet-yet-ample provision of your gracious Savior.

I'll be doing the same--you can hold me to it. In fact, I wish you would.


Excerpted by permission from Conquering the Time Factor: Twelve Myths that Steal Life's Precious Moments. (c) 2002, 2010 by Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission or to order the entire book in print, e-book, or audio editions, contact: orders@joymediaservices.com.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tune in to "Focus on the Family" Friday May 28

Julie Interviewed on Caregiving Topic ...

‘Focus on the Family’ May 28!

The big news is that Julie’s Overwhelmed Woman’s Guide to … Caring for Aging Parents is scheduled to be featured on the May 28 edition of “Focus on the Family” daily radio broad­cast.

Julie was in Focus’ Colorado studios to tape the broadcast back in December. We’re thrilled that it’s going to run on Memorial Weekend.

In Chicagoland, that runs on Friday, May 28 at 11:30 a.m. on WYLL AM 1160.

Check your local listings for times in your area!

Julie’s “Focus on the Family” interview also will be available on the website: http:// listen.family.org/ recentdaily/ as soon as it airs on Friday, May 28. It should remain available to listen online, download or Podcast for about a month.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cling to This

Treasured friend,

I have been feeling spiritually wrung out in these days. Chasing to doctor visits. Worried and concerned about many things -- like Martha (Luke 10:41). Missing out on the truly important, I've resisted the opportunity to use these moments of testing in my life to draw closer in my relationship with Christ.

Perhaps you've been through some seasons like this, as well.

As I was praying this morning, confessing that I simply didn't feel like having a quiet time with the Lord, the words of this long-ago memorized passage came to mind -- and in them I found a measure of strength and energy to press on:

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith (Galatians 6:9-10; NASB).

It seems the Apostle Paul recognized in the Galatian believers (probably from having experienced the same temptation himself) a fatigue -- a drained-to-the-dregs feeling that had them sure none of the effort they were spending would ultimately prove worthwhile.

His prescription was to press on through -- keep doing good and keep your heart in it. There will be a dividend one day, even if you can't see it right now. Don't be weary. (Sounds a lot like the Master's words in John 14:1, "Don't let your heart be troubled. Trust Me.")

It seems to me the second half of the prescription is to find and seize every opportunity to keep doing good -- to everyone. Does that include the doctor who may not be treating my loved one with the tender care as if he were his own flesh and blood? Does that include the client who is delinquent in paying what is owed? Does that include the driver who cuts me off on the road? Or the customer service agent who seems more interested in venting her own frustration than in helping solve my problem with her company?

I suppose the "everyone" in the passage includes all those individuals -- and so many more. And especially those in the household (whether God's household or our own). Those closest. Those most likely to hear our tirades. Those who need our "doing good" the most.

I'm not quite sure how this works, exactly. Because Paul (and Christ) tell us simply not to let it happen. The weariness. The discouragement. The feeling that none of this battle is worth the effort. They make it sound like a choice -- a change in perspective. And perhaps it is. Looking toward another eventuality -- the one that is in what seems like the far distant future (but could be as close as this very hour). In light of eternity this "momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor 4:17, HCSB).

Fellow weary one, perhaps those words of perspective may be enough to sustain you through this day. I'm clinging to them here ... and pray you will, as well.

Blessings and prayers,

Julie

© 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mom, My Best Friend

Treasured Friend,

One of the most compassionate and selfless scenes that Gospel writers record in the life of Christ occurs in the last moments, as He is gasping for those final breaths. It's a scene I'm thinking about this week, because in our house gift-giving holidays (like birthdays, Mother's and Father's Day, Christmas ...) aren't single days, but whole week celebrations. So, Mother's Day ('er week) is on my mind today, although brunch came and went on Sunday.

Here's how John records the scene I want to draw to your attention today:

But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. (John 19:25-27; NASB)

In honor of my mom, who (along with my dad) is my dearest and most understanding cheerleader, supporter and friend, I have a few observations from the passage that might be both comforting and challenging to those adult children among us who find ourselves cast in the roles of caregiver/advocates for our parents.

The beauty in this scene is three-sided.



But standing by the cross of Jesus  is His mother.

The one who didn't always understand Him; didn't always get what He was all about, sometimes even tried to sidetrack Him from the mission His Father sent Him to fulfill--even yet, she stood by Him to the bitter end. The end that pierced her heart, as was prophecied by the sage Simeon on another day in Jerusalem--the day of the infant Christ's dedication at the temple. That's what moms do, at their best (although I grieve over the fact that not all moms achieve this height).

The second side of the scene's poignant beauty is the Son's action in being absolutely certain that He entrusted the mother He loved into the care of His most beloved and trustworthy disciple--John.



Behold your mother.

In those few words, so much more was said: Take care of this one I love as if she were your very own. Be kind to her. Compassionate. Care for her. See that her needs are met. See that she has safety, protection, food, a place to live, a place where she's needed and wanted and loved. Be to her what I would be if I were there--companion, friend, confidante. I trust you to do that for her, as if you were doing it for Me.

Don't you love that scene? Faithful parent. Concerned adult child. Compassionate caregiver. Eyes meeting, through a veil of tears, in a moment of such intensity that the earth would soon shake in agony and the sky would turn to total darkness. These are moments we who are caregivers can feel--because in many ways we've been there ourselves. Commiting our parent into the care of medical teams, other relatives, staffs at rehab facilities or even nursing homes. Oh, how we can relate to the words of the Son of God--instructing His earthly friend on the long-term care of His mother. We too have begged -- Care for my parents as if they were your own.

The final beauty of this scene comes in the simple line,


From that very moment, that disciple took her into his home.

No second-guessing. No waffling about fulfilling the request. No wishy-washy or half-hearted response. An immediate and complete action. Close-up. Affecting John, and Mrs. John, and their entire household. And yet, he did it, out of love for the Master.

On this Mother's week, I'm rededicating myself to doing as John did ... to quickly and open heartedly doing all I can in the care of the loved ones Christ has entrusted to me.

Blessings to you on Mother's week, and all year round!

Julie

© 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Sunday, May 2, 2010

When the Well Is Dry

Treasured Friend,

Our family would covet your prayers this week. We're struggling with illness and impending surgery. My writing and editing deadlines. And much more.

So, for me, the well seems dry today. That's why I returned this evening to a Scripture my grandfather bequeathed to me in a card shortly before his death. I've found it meaningful as I've read it over and over in the last years. Tonight, I confess, it nearly made me cry -- the good kind of tears.

I pray it will touch your heart in much the same way -- at your point of most humbling need.

Psalms 20:1-7 (NASB)
Prayer for Victory over Enemies
May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high! May He send you help from the sanctuary And support you from Zion! May He remember all your meal offerings And find your burnt offering acceptable! Selah.

May He grant you your heart's desire And fulfill all your counsel!

We will sing for joy over your victory, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.

Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.

Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.

The strength in this passage, for me, is not just the confidence in God's strength, but the fact that a cheerleader out there somewhere is carrying me to the throne of God even this very moment. As we've examined in earlier devotions, there are two Heavenly Prayer Warriors speaking my name (and yours) to the Father -- Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. And, joining Their voices, in this passage, are godly friends -- all pulling in the same direction, asking God to strengthen us and to prove Himself faithful to us.

Let's make a covenant ... you and I ... I'm praying this passage for you as I write tonight -- and please pray it for me whenever you read it. I'm quite sure I'll need it! As will you.

Many blessings and prayers that the Lord will answer you in your distress even if it's ongoing in this day and this hour.

Julie

© 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com