I AM Free | The Still, Small Voice

  
Sometimes, the simplest answer comes in that still, small voice after the raging storm. Striving, struggling, and straining against the waves & ways of the world when at the peak, perspective becomes crystal clear: I AM Free. I am free because I stood firm on the foundation of The Word of God. True FREEDOM comes only when we truly love. ..as Christ loved & continues to love. Of course it is easy to love the lovely, but to love the unlovely and cruel is to truly love as He loved, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. ..He forgave those who murdered Him IN the midst of the greatest pain any human can possibly endure and He has every right to whisper into our pain, “When you have done everything to stand. Stand firm.” 

Love never fails

I AM Free because I love as Christ loves.

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His banner over me is LOVE | I AM Safe

I AM Safe

He treats her with the utmost cruelty, the very man who made a covenant to love & cherish his bride has treated the union as merely a contract. Year after year, with ever increasing hatred & vengeance, he tries to drag her into his personal hell of an existence. And he is so clever. No one suspects that he is cloaked in deception & disguise. He has isolated to psychologically destroy her. ..year after year

She only ever wanted to be a wife. More than a mother, she couldn’t wait to grow up and lavish her husband with every form of love possible. ..on her wedding night, his eyes went blank, he looked away, and in that horrifying instant, she realized that she had just made the greatest mistake of her life. ..year after year she has sought wise counsel in the words of The Great I AM to press on & impress love on this man who rejects her in every facet of life. ..year after year

Cowering & crying year after year in the corner, struggling to her core spiritually at times to survive his punishing attacks, her case has finally reached the high courts of Heaven. More than 20 years ago she believed God promised a powerhouse marriage. ..and He who promised is faithful, in spite of her gravest mistake in marrying this man. So she clutches & clings to the hem of His robes, draping over the summit of Everest, and gets her first peek at the peak. The highest point in this world is LOVE! Love is the promise fulfilled of the powerhouse marriage. Love is the weapon of warfare against every demon. Love is what makes me feel safe in a 17 year marriage to this man. If God is Love, and I am created in His image, then I am to reflect His Love. It is easy to love the lovable, with the joy we so naturally share with a dear friendPHILEO, and most enjoyable to love a loverEROS. But it takes the highest form of God’s Love, sacrificialAGAPE, to love the unlovable, those who are bent on destroying us. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” From the cross, He sacrificed His whole self for those who were jeering and spitting on Him from below! That kind of self sacrifice is the most powerful weapon, the highest form of Love. At the foot of the cross & from the hem of His robes, I am SAFE in His parentalSTORGE love which protects my whole life.

I can trust my Heavenly Father to protect & provide the promised powerhouse marriage. In my mind’s good humour, I see Door #1, He repairs & restores this marriage; or Door #2, He removes & replaces this man; or Door #3 His choice. Whatever He chooses. I trust Him. In Him, I am safe. ..year after year

And from this vantage point, at the peak of Everest, I can see the Promised Land, that powerhouse marriage in the distance.. .

Lion

“As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. with great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me is love. Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me! I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” Song of Solomon 2:1-7

battle banner

2 cents worth of wisdom | I AM Powered to Parent

  
Head’s up! Here’s my 2 cents worth of wisdom for the day (puns facetiously intended)

READ Proverbs 22

We all have Proverbs 22:6 ingrained in our biblical parenting toolkit, “Train up a child in the way he SHOULD go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” We moms wonder if & pray that we have helped set our childrens’ feet on the path that God would purpose for them-using scriptures to train & fashion their character.. .But, have you ever considered the FLIPside WARNING of this exact passage? There are 2 sides to every coin, after all. It’s all how you emphasize the phrasing: “Train up a child in the way HE should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” a completely different mindset, worldview, & outcome!! Contemporary culture is PCing parents to “spare the rod” (which spoils the child). “Woe to you, O land/household, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning!” Ecclesiastes 10:16. “The rod & reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” The scriptures, especially the book of Proverbs, trains us parents in the way we SHOULD go, with the confidence that if we “discipline our children, they will give us rest” (Proverbs 29). 

Ok, 2 more cents: DISCIPLINE & PUNISHMENT. I learned this lesson many years ago, before I was married, in leadership training with Bible Study Fellowship. We were empowered to tackle a room full of toddlers which had a Little Tikes slide as the temptation/centerpiece in the middle of the classroom! I was absolutely amazed at how we could manage this crew of motley minis!! We navigated minefields of dysfunction & distress with these simple imperatives:
1. We walk up the steps & slide down on our bottoms. 

2. If you choose to walk up the slide, you will be invited to have a talk with the teacher outside the door. 

….singing the chorus of “Trust & Obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to TRUST & OBEY“. ..we transition from bible story to playtime.

Jubilant toddlers form a line at the steps, except for Jack. “Jack, remember, we walk up the steps and slide down on our bottoms.” | DISCIPLINE is training a child in the way he should go.

Jack smiles and proceeds to climb the slippery slope, upward. ..to the chagrin of eager bodies, exercising a new lesson in patience, itching to slide downward. There are no willowy threats in this room, no, “I’m going to count to 3”. ..and we don’t allow the insurrection to continue until all the adults are exasperated to the point of an emotional outburst and yelling, “DON’T DO THAT!!” when we have hit our own tipping points as little ones have started to cry & meltdown.. . | PUNISHMENT is giving an apt consequence for the infraction at hand.

Nipping mutiny in the bud, as the newbie childrens leader in training, I am assigned to practice the parenting lesson. Deep breath. I reach out to take Jack’s little hand in mine, smile, & invite him to come and have a chat. Outside the door, hearing the muffled  giggles of pure joy that must seem like a world away to the little pirate prince, I kneel to eye level with the now, wide-eyed Jack. The devious smile has flipsided in reverential fear. This is when we share understanding with the little rebel :: Logic + Love. “Jack, what is the rule for enjoying the slide?” Respectfully he answers, “We walk up the steps and slide down on our bottoms.” “Yes”, I explain, “This way, everyone will safely enjoy the slide. I care about you and all the children here. I want you to be able to enjoy the slide. In fact, Jack, you are the oldest boy in this class. You could be the leader and show everyone how to use the slide safely! Are you ready to go back and try it again?” nod, nod. big smile!

Jack, a 3 year old, rose up to the challenge! He obeyed the rules of the slide & led his classmates, cautioning those who would start to backslide. He also came to trust my loving authority and would save a seat for me next to him at snacktime each week!! A disciplined son gives rest. 

What pocketful of parenting gems have you gleaned from this month’s 31 for 31 challenge in the Book of Proverbs? 

#IAMWise #IAMPowered #IAMPoweredToParent …COMING SOON to the I AM Powered Series

  

I AM Wise | Proverbs 31 for 31

 
May’s I AM Powered theme is I AM Wise 

“To know wisdom & instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive discernment in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, & equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge & discretion to the youth-Let wise hear & increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb & a saying, the words of the wise & their riddles. The fear|reverence of The LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom & instruction.” Proverbs 1:1-7 

Solomon’s words of wisdom for the wise & warnings for the fool are encouraged today as Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias urges, “Let my people think”. Let each of us be built up & so build up our children to read well & think well. Wise men do still seek The Great I AM.

an apple a day | Let’s each read 1 chapter from the book of Proverbs on each of the month of May. 31 for 31

PLEASE SHARE PROVERBS & RIDDLES in the comments below & let’s think well, being transformed by the renewing of our minds! 

Who’s in the forum?

scaling EVEREST

scaling EVEREST

We go from strength to strength until each appears before God in Zion.” Psalm 84:7

ARREST | Tall mountains are built by vey tiny movements. Before 1953, most climbers of Everest failed or died. Sherpas revere the highest mountain in the world as the house of the gods. Edmund Hillary, 1st to reach Everest’s summit, reflected that the mountains gave him courage & strength. To prepare, one must learn to Arrest one self. ..to stop one self once falling, sliding downward. Isn’t that so like our earthly lives, slipping out of control some days in certain circumstances that have been built up bit by bit over the course of a lifetime?  Adapting to continual irritations year by year, we hardly realize the that the slope of life has become a 90∘ Angled summit. Sherpas quip with summit seekers, “If you fall into a crevasse, you fall all the way to America, 1/2 way around the world.” Quite a disappointment, to prepare for the upward climb if we don’t heed the need to prepare for the downward spiral.

A REST | Too high, too soon, and you will develop edema, lungs swelling with fluid. Ironically, you must drink more water to survive. Coughing spells can even break ribs. Several times a day you hear the roar of an Avalanche. And very few climbers have survived storms on Everest as temps plunge below 100∘F with hurricane force Arctic winds. Climbers must stop, sometimes for several weeks at a time to rest & wait. ..early May is the best time to scale the summit of Everest. After years of trials, tests, & temptations in the desert, the wilderness, & the seemingly everlasting winter season, I somehow never expected that The Great I AM would lead me to scale the summit of Everest! Highest heights, deepest depths. Here I stand, the 1st day of May, facing the precipice of life’s next GRAND ADVENTURE ~ summer school in Apologetics & having just applied to grad school, Master’s & PhD ahead!!

ALTITUDE | Climbers must Ascend slowly. The body will naturally Acclimatize, doubling the number of red blood cells so the breath, at increasing elevations Above sea level, can carry more oxygen. Nearest the summit, the Altitude starves your brain for oxygen, the body deteriorates rapidly, and bones become weak. This is the “Dead Zone”. Imagine starting the climb for the summit at midnight, with oxygen tanks, at 30∘F below zero. No one speaks, there is no oxygen to breathe. You cannot get enough Air & feel completely Alone. The human body is not designed to survive up there, it screams for you to go back. It takes every bit of strength & concentration to put one foot in front of the other. You’ve never been so tired in your life, you want to stop & rest, but  tell yourself, 10 more steps.

ATITUDE | At this point, remember the Atitude of respect for God. Everest climbers “cleanse bad spirits & make offerings to the gods”, as we must remember to PUToff self & PUTon increasing Christlikeness. In the face of terrible hardship, will the watching world say of us, “They handled themselves with courage & grace“. The Hillary Step, just at the peak of the summit is all rock & ice and you feel like you’re closest to death. ..it is the voice of your loved one that pushes you to the very tip. I press on.. .to the top of the world!

“It is not the mountain we conquer. It is ourselves.” Sir Edmund Hillary

I press on.

“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of The LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young- a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools; They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob. Look on our shield, O God; look with favour on your anointed one. Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For The LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favour & honour; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.” Psalm 84

A ~ descriptions from Everest on IMAX.

Creme de la Creme

Salted Caramel Macaron with Gold
Salted Caramel Macaron with Gold

Over french roast (with a splash of cream & a whole lot of sugar), I shared with my bestie, “The Creme de la Creme is when you rise to the top of your circumstances (though they have not and may not ever change before our hair turns completely grey) by extending mercy to thoseespecially those– who do not deserve it & top it off with a whole lot of grace.”

Besties are blessed to share the best & the worst with each other, especially in the days when our ‘for better or worse’ circumstances seem like they can not get any worse. Of course, I should not be surprised at the attacks attempted at dragging me down the mountain when a new lesson is at hand. Then again, I am continually amazed at the perspective of The Great I AM, which is all together opposite my view from the bottom of a seemingly eternal crevasse. ..when He announces that I am being led to the next level, scaling the summit of Mt Everest. ..to the tip of the top we go!

cream: the thick part of milk that rises to the top. the part of the milk that contains fat. :a food that is made with cream. :a very thick liquid or soft substance that is rubbed into the skin to make it soften or is used as a medicine for the skin. ORIGIN: Welsh, cramen :scab or crust.

As a wordNERD I run to the dictionary, as a WORDnerd, I distill those words through the sieve of Scripture & The Spirit’s counsel. ..How are hardened hearts softened? What medicine can heal a whole life? What breaks through my hardened heart while wallowing in self-pity & self-preservation at the base of the cliff? It is that thrilling movie moment when the underdog becomes the hero with a determined thought that determines the triumph! Isn’t it funny how we reference the ‘worst of the worst’ as the valley, but in grammatical terms, that scene is referred to as the climax? That turning point is when we, IN our deepest pain & weakness, extend MERCY & GRACE to the one who pushed us over the edge. At that very moment, the crushing weight of rock & ice releases and we soar as a phoenix! He gives us a crown of beauty for ashes. In a single bound, we can even lift the lilting Lois in her downward spiral within this epic tale of life on earth!!

So, go ahead, mercifully forgive your brother (or sister) from the heart & bake that [pardon my French], jerk, his favourite treat with the finest of ingredients & celebrate Tuesday. ..just because. because of mercy & grace. Yours is the heart that will be thickened and rise to the top. Yours is the whole life that will be fattened-flavoured & filled-with the anointing oil of The Spirit of The Great I AM. Your love for the brother (or sister) who pushed you will be a healing balm that covers over a multitude of sins & promotes peace.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1Peter 4:8-10

Creme de la Creme: THE VERY BEST. Synonyms: A-list, aristocracy [co-heirs with Christ] (Romans 8:17), best, choice (1Peter2:9-10), cream, elite, elect (2Timothy2:8-13), fat, flower, illuminati, pick, pink, pride, [a royal] priesthood (1Peter2:9), prime, royalty, upper crust.

I AM Loved therefore, I AM Love.

Serving Others | I AM Love

I AM Love In the transitions from day to day, even moment to moment, season to season, & study to study, this glorious picture of budding trees bursting with life against the azure backdrop above, my gaze extends even beyond, to the heavens. It’s where my help comes from. How pridefully we can assume that after 20+ years of intensive expositional & experiential bible study, the lessons are for others, not ourselves, like this old terrestrial ball, saturated with spring rains. Ha! As a teacher, I have the most yet to learn! “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1

My Dominant Gifts: Teaching & Pastor/Shepherd
My Dominant Gifts: Teaching & Pastor/Shepherd

So, as the teacher, I delegated homework to my students for this month’s lesson, not realizing that The Great I AM had an additional list of life lessons for me. [The next few blog posts will try to extrapolate the vast depth & height of love.] For now, here’s your homework for I AM Love: 1. Memory Verse “Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:8 Easy to memorize, a challenge to live! 2. Daily Read & Meditate on the page scriptures. [Get your copy of I AM Powered at Amazon.com] 3. KNOWLEDGE | Read Romans & 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 on Spiritual Gifts. Learn what the gifts are, why we receive them, & how we are to use them (hint, the classic “love” passage from 1Corinthians 13-in its proper context-shows us a better way to serve others. 4. UNDERSTANDING | Take this FREE online Spiritual Gifts Assessment discover your gifts http://gifts.churchgrowth.org/analysis/index.php 5. DISCERNMENT | Research your gifts in the Scriptures, use a Bible Concordance if needed. 6. WISDOM | Pray for opportunities to serve others with your spiritual gifts. We study to BUILD UP ourselves | We serve to BUILD UP the local church/the body of Christ “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” Romans 12:4-5 As I As