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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Take a Break!

I’m pretty sure I received an email from God.
I’d been writing all day—seven hours straight and counting. Definitely beyond the wise max for one sitting. But I had so much more to get done on this rare day without family doctor visits or other interruptions. I had to capture those hours.
My head throbbed. Unconsciously, I brought my hands up to my temples. I’m so tired.
That’s when the email dinged. I’m usually disciplined about ignoring emails until I’m finished working. But when my right hand returned to the mouse, it clicked “Open Outlook” on its own. There I found the email—a devotion with a subhead that grabbed me:
Coffee Breaks Are Not Optional

It might as well have been flashing blue neon. I read further: “We must … learn how to stop working. That’s called rest.… It was on God’s Top Ten List.”
Hmm. Is Someone looking over my shoulder? Kind of eerie.
I may not have much trouble with some of the commands on God’s Top Ten list: Don’t steal—okay, what’s not mine doesn’t belong in my sticky fingers. Honor your parents—I work at that every day. Don’t take God’s name in vain—I love that Name. But Sabbath rest? Surely, God you didn’t mean for me to get worked up about that one. Yet, it is prominent on the list, which is why I realized the devotion written by Ed Gungor was pretty much an email from God, sent via Ed’s keyboard.
I did a little homework on rest and found a pertinent challenge in Hebrews: “Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:10-11 ESV). Rest is a privilege God offers—and it’s increasingly obvious that He considers failure to accept this offer an affront—a sin every bit as appalling as failure to keep any of His other commands.
But God … I began my moan.

Just stop! You know what to do!


So, I pushed back from the keyboard and dragged myself to the family room to rest. Was it in the schedule? Nope. Was it necessary? You bet! Mostly because I never want to be on the wrong side of the Word—even when it arrives via an email from God.

Blessings and prayers,

Julie

 © 2012, 2014, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Replacement

I was standing in line at the post office when my cell phone rang. It registered as one of my colleagues. That’s odd. She always emails.
“Hello? Julie?” Her voice sounded strained, panicked. She didn’t pause for me to say hello. “The speaker just cancelled for my conference; it starts tomorrow. I have hundreds of people on their way from all over the country. Please tell me you’re available to replace her.”
And so, for neither the first nor the last time, I became (trumpet flourish):The Replacement. I flew into a frenzy. I had to reshuffle appointments while creating a fresh presentation to parallel the topics the original speaker advertised. I had only hours to pack for the week-long trip before getting on the road.
Don’t think for a minute I’m complaining. I’m a willing replacement. When a conference director or TV interviewer tells me, “We’d love to have you back,” I always reply, “I’d love to be back. And, if you ever need a last-minute replacement, I’d be happy to fill in.” I mean it, too.
There might be a temptation for some to feel slighted, like, why wasn’t I invited first? But a true replacement is as Paul suggested to Timothy, “ready in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2 ESV). That’s actually a great motto. Like a backup quarterback, I never know which day I’ll get called in.
I was noodling on this as I prepared for a last-minute radio broadcast the other morning. That’s when my Bible reading took me to Acts. The followers, huddled in the upper room waiting, did a head count. Only eleven original disciples remained, since the betrayer Judas had allowed guilt to drive him to suicide.
Peter, remembering an Old-Testament prophecy, knew the disciples (learners), about to turn into apostles (witnesses), needed a twelfth man.
My eyes froze on something I’d never noticed before. The circle of Christ-followers included a crew of replacements waiting on the bench. Everywhere Jesus had gone during His ministry years, these folks had followed. They’d heard all His sermons. They’d slept where He slept and travelled the roads He trod. There had always been the big twelve—the ones we hear about. But there were others, just as faithful, just as attentive, just as available.
After identifying two of these followers with potential, Matthias and Justus, Peter voiced the group’s prayer, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry” (Acts 1:24-25 NLT).
When the answer came back as Matthias, Matthias willingly became the twelfth man replacement: “And he was numbered with the eleven apostles,” Luke reports in a matter-of-fact tone (Acts 1:26).
We know little about Matthias. Clearly, he didn’t trumpet his own publicity, but God took notice of his willingness to serve, his faithful heart, his availability. So, in honor of Matthias, and replacements near and far, I’ve prepared a Manifesto for Replacements
As a Professional Replacement I will …
  • be available
  • be enthusiastic
  • be prepared to jump in with little notice
  • check my ego at the door
  • bring a good attitude with me
  • fill in wherever I’m needed
  • seek others’ best interests over my own


Matthias gained an unparalleled privilege when he agreed to become God’s Replacement. I gained the privilege of addressing an attentive, enthusiastic crowd at my friend’s conference. And so it will go any time we agree to join God’s team as The Replacement.

Blessings and prayers,
Julie

 © 2014, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com