Monday, November 26, 2012

I AM Changes i am: An Ambassador

     As I begin to write this "I Am" statement, the word ambassador sends shivers up and down me. Not the word itself, but the pictures that are conjured up in my imagination. Just weeks ago, as America reminisced the devastation of 9.11.01, another act of terror was being perpetrated on our US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Once again, Al-Qaeda struck at the heart of our country, as they broke into, burned, and murdered four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.  Being an ambassador is not a cake walk. It is not a roll of glamour and glitz. It does not always come with tantalizing benefits.  It comes at great risk, immense vulnerability, and excessively dangerous potential.  As an ambassador, one represents his country. So, as far as your country finds favor, you will find favor.  If you believe in your country, have faith in your government, honor the fundamentals of her foundation, and love what she stands for, representing her is a great honor.  An honor that comes with great cost.  A cost that must be considered before taking the job. Loyalty and patriotism to a cause are not easy. 

     Those who claim the identity: I Am Reconciled, also receive another I Am Truth:  Ambassador. We don't have one without the other.  Re-read above paragraph again...there are a lot of comparisons for the reconciled follower of Jesus Christ. It is not easy being an ambassador; its risky and comes with a great cost.  Ask Paul, the Apostle.   Yet the man considered the cost, just as Jesus asked all his followers (see Luke 14:25-33).  He considered the cost, and then gladly declared, But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I counted everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish...(Philippians 3:7-8).  Who does this?  I think I know.  One who never gets over who they were, what they were, and whose they are now.  One who remembers they arent worthy, but absolutely know that in Jesus, they have become something so much more.  One who remembers what life was like under slavery, now set free, but not just free, handed a remarkable calling.  A calling to represent the Kingdom of New Life.  Read his words:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.
One word stands out to me in that passage - the word entrust.  Paul understood what an honor it was to be entrusted with the message of reconciliation. He never lost sight of that matter how difficult the job became. I'm just beginning to comprehend it.  I wish I understood it more. Maybe the shivers would fade away. I've begun to pray that like Paul, I would never "get over" my new life in Jesus and what it means.  May I always be "One Who Remembers."

Monday, November 19, 2012

I AM Changes i am: Reconciled

...givng thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us into the kingdom of  His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins...For it was teh Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of the cross...And althought you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through deal, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach...
Colossians 1: 12-13, 19-20, 21-22
I am such a visual learner.  I really need a picture bible, a picture dictionary, and a picture commentary to go with the bible.   If someone can sketch it out for me (stick figures are fine), then I seem to understand meanings much better.  Somehow it helps me connect the dots that run from my head to my heart. 
With that said, I have a story that helps illustrate the next “i am” from The I AM.  Here goes; and since it’s a true story, I can’t start with “once upon a time.” 
There lived a little girl who loved God.  She loved God so much, she thought she wanted to grow up and serve him one day (so she considered joining a convent).  She also loved church.  She went almost every Sunday, and especially loved the stories, the songs, and the crafts.  One day, the little girl asked her Sunday school teacher about the stories.  “Are all these stories you tell us from the bible really true?” she asked.  The teacher replied, “Oh, no, honey.  These stories are sort of like fables that teach us lessons about life.”  The little girl pondered that answer.  If the stories like the ones about Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, Noah and the Arc, Moses and the Ten Commandments weren’t true, then were the stories about Jesus real?  Remembering her teacher’s words, she decided they must not be.  Yet, the lesson about life that rang in her head like a little sing-song was this:  Good-Enough.  The Bible was about being Good-Enough.  But, over the years, it got very tiresome trying to be Good-Enough.  So, as the little girl grew, she decided she’d had enough of Good-Enough, and she became Bad.  She knew she was Bad, because she wasn’t Good-Enough anymore.  The God she’d learned to love felt very far away.  He was very Unattainable & Far-Away.  The more Unattainable he seemed to be, the more Bad she grew.  Of course, the more Bad, the further away God seemed to be............until one day, she realized God was not only Unattainable, he was Invisible.  And............ Little-Girl-Grown-Older was very Sad. Very Sad, indeed.  Sad and Bad.  OUCH!
In reality, God had never moved.  He was still where he’d always been.  He’d always been on the other side of a big canyon.  No amount of Good-Enough would help the little girl “attain” God.  No matter how hard she tried, Bad was always inside of her.  On her own, she could never cross the canyon that separated her from God.  As long as she could see him, she thought he might be reachable, but when Bad took over, she moved further and further away from the edge of the canyon and could no longer see God.  That’s when he became Invisible. 
One day, Little-Girl-Grown-Older grew very discontent with her life.  The further away from God, the darker her world became.  She despised Bad.  She longed for something different.  She wanted, no, needed some light.  However, she was so lost, she couldn’t find her way back to the edge of the canyon, where glimpses of light were seen.  In her shame, lostness, and despair, she cried out, “Help me!”  That’s all the Lord God was waiting for, and, when he heard her cry, he sent his Son who delivered her from her domain of darkness and transferred her across the Chasm-Deep-and-Wide right into the presence of God-the-Father.  The Beloved Son lay down his life, bridged the Chasm-Deep-and-Wide and made a way for the Sad-Bad-Girl to become Little-Girl-Holy-and-Blameless.  No longer Bad, she was beyond reproach...and reconciled to the Father. 
That little girl was/is/will be Me.  I am reconciled!  What a story, I have to tell!  You, too?

Monday, November 12, 2012

I AM Changes i am: Not Perfect and Weak

“He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6).”
Someone posted this verse on Facebook this morning, which sent my mind traveling down an “i am” road, which I didn’t expect.  Here’s what Paul is trying to say in so many words, “I am: not perfect!”  Nope.  I am not perfect!  I am far from perfect.  I am in process of becoming, but I am not perfect.  The process is called sanctification. 
I love this truth! Love it!  Just saying it over and over (as I just did) is quite liberating.  The statement takes a lot of self-inflicted pressure off.  I’m a perfectionist by nature.  I confuse my perfectionism with God’s expectations of me.  He doesn’t plan on me being perfect this side of won’t be until the day of Christ Jesus!  What God does ask for is for me to “work heartily (meaning as from the soul)“ in Colossians 3:23.  He doesn’t want me to work heartily with the motivation of pleasing men – that gives man too much power and control.  He does want it to be “as unto him.”  I’m the one who wants perfect.  I want instant complete (another word for perfect).  I want instant maturity.  Why?  Of course, I want the pats on the back, the atta-girl, the well-done.
According to what I do know, all of those words are reserved for the Lord to speak over me when the race is won.  Of course, there are those cheering us on, but that’s another story.  One day, the One I’ve been reconciled to by the blood of Jesus will give the coveted, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  All he asks of me on this earthly journey is faithfulness.
Faithful to:

·         Suffer as a good soldier

·         Work with consistency as a farmer

·         Train as an athlete

·         Prepare and be ready as a bride waiting for her groom

·         Surrender as a living sacrifice

·         Remain weak so he can be strong

I want perfect.  I’m the one disappointed and frustrated if I’m not.  I judge.  I grade.  I lecture.  It’s been this way since I was a kid.  I loved the feeling of accomplishment when I completed a goal.

But the older I have gotten, the more pressure I have felt under the weight of perfect.  So God has reminded me, “You are not perfect...yet. Don’t expect to be.”  In fact, he pleads, “Stay weak!!  It is in your weakness I am made strong.  When others see me doing what you cannot do in. and of, yourself, they will look past you, and see me!”

Simply put, his message is this: “Remain weak...please...for heaven’s sake!!”

There is GREAT RELIEF in this truth.  Sigh.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I AM Changes i am: Beautiful!

This blog entry this morning may need to read: For Women Only (although, if you are a guy reading this blog, remember to treat the woman God gives/gave you the way he sees her!).  Please think about the following verse:

Listen, Oh daughter, consider and give ear…The King is enthralled by your beauty.

Psalm 45:11

According to one author, the cry of every woman’s heart is the answer to the question, “Do you think I’m beautiful?”  I found this difficult to believe, until I realized just how often I ask my husband, “Do you think I look OK?”  However, I don’t want to know that he simply thinks I look “OK,” I long to hear the words, “You look beautiful.”  I also began to notice how many times I look in a mirror during the day, to smooth my hair, or reapply lipstick, or check out how I look in a window as I walk by.  It simply wouldn’t do to not be at my best.  But, one thing is for certain.  We do not ever have to wonder what the King of the Universe thinks about us.  This verse says it all – He thinks you are gorgeous, and he wants you to pay particular attention to this fact.  So, go ahead, say it:

I am beautiful!

The problem is that in our society, the world has unveiled a certain box that women must fit in to be called “beautiful.”  We must dress a certain way, be a certain size, wear our hair just right, and have a complexion that is flawless.  If we don’t fit the box, we don’t think we measure up.  If we don’t measure up, then we can’t be beautiful.  And, if we’re not beautiful, then, obviously, we are less than significant.  This is such a lie!  After all, if you lived in Africa, the bigger your butt (sorry if the “b” word offends you), the more beautiful you are.  It’s all so relative, depending on the culture you come from.  But, no matter where we live, it’s the “world” that sets the standard.  This should not be!

The Lord God should set the standard.  He created each of us unique.  He knew what our bone structure would be before he planted us in our mother’s womb. He knew the color of hair we’d have, and he had every one of them counted!  He intended for there to be variety and creativity, so we wouldn’t live in a mundane, cookie-cutter world.  His idea was that we’d learn to find the beauty in “different.”  But somewhere along the way, man got this hair-brained idea that his version of beauty was better than someone else’s.  As a result, we are ruled by “opinion.”  Sadly, the opinion of man became more important than the opinion of God.

Now, certainly, there are things we can do to enhance our beauty and femininity.  As someone once said, “Some barns are just better painted.” J Taking a little more time with how we look can certainly change the way we think of ourselves, and increase our confidence level.  However, we don’t have to succumb to the world’s standard.  So instead of dressing for fashion, we dress to fit our body type; don’t over-do on the makeup; exercise and eat right to be healthy; and stay clean and neat.  The little things can make a world of difference, especially where attitude is concerned.

At the same time, every mirror should come with a warning sign!  Warning:  Reflections in this mirror could be distorted by socially constructed ideas of beauty.  Instead, look in the mirror of the Word - Ah, yes, you are beautiful!  And, so am I!