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Anticipation grabs the human soul like no other electrifying experience.  So, I played it cool when we boarded the plane in anticipation of spending time with our first granddaughter, our second grandchild.  Everyone took their turn while I gave my attention to my I-phone.

Eventually, just as I suspected, someone asked, “Do you want to hold her?”  I looked up surprised and acting detached and other-worldly occupied, “What? Oh, sure.”

This little life was carefully handed over to me.  She was so tiny.  The warmth of her little body felt good in my arms.

With attention I cradled her in the crook of my arm and caught her in the palm of my left hand.  There was no weight to this little package.  It wasn’t long before I melted into her world.

Her soft breathing made me sigh with joy.  Carefully I took her little hand in between my finger and thumb.  The tender skin, perfectly formed appendage broadened my smile.

It was natural to rock the newest member of our family.  Gently I hugged her.  Then I kissed her.

Babies smell so good.  They wiggle in grasp of their grandfather.  Surely, they love the comfort of protection, affection and admiration of their favorite relative.  It is instinctive.

In this small world between granddaughter and grandfather, the other people around us faded away.  Now, for all time a bond was forming that would be everlasting.  Nothing could break was being established at this moment.

I was falling in love with another human being with whom I have not yet had a single intelligible conversation.  Nevertheless, no one would dispute its reality or its beauty.

There is nothing comparative about a Grandfather’s love for his grandchildren.  Love is never about such small distractions of others.  Instead, Grandfathering is only about concentration on the blessings in the arms at the time.

Favorites are not allowed when love is completely pure, unselfish, giving and overwhelming.  We who wear the badge of Grandfather can’t be bothered with attention hived off to total strangers.  Love is fully devoted to a the little life at hand.

That’s what the touch of a granddaughter  will do.  It melts the strongest of men, the most accomplished of me into a bowl of gelatin ready to be molded into whatever this little life desires.  That’s why God created little ones with little fingers; just the right place to wrap Grandpa around.

photo credit: KJB photography

Joshua 21,22
Part 5 of 7

 

Before the tribes separate, they openly declare their devotion to specific convictions.  This is not merely a religious rite but a declaration of allegiance to truth.  It is what is most important to them.

 

They vow to keep the commandment and the law.  Together they announce their love for the LORD their God.  In unison they declare their intentions to walk in all His ways.  As a nation they will obey His commands.  They will hold fast to Him.  As a people they will serve him with all of their heart and soul.

 

If those of us who follow the LORD will do likewise then oddities like misunderstandings and human biases will be dramatically lessened.  Instead of churches splitting and Christians ending fellowship, the Spirit will win over human limitations.   Humans clinging stubbornly to their self-centered position that they are right will humbly defer all righteousness to God where it belongs.

 

This stirring national statement of spiritual commitment may have saved Israel from an unnecessary civil war.  Today we who live in the focus of God’s grace have too often been a part of separations that never should have been allowed to fester into something exclusively human.

 

More later…

Can you imagine the Apostle Paul being embarrassed?  Does the idea of this courageous and bold man of God cowering behind tender feelings seem odd to you?  He was feeling that way when he addressed the Corinthian believers in his second letter to them.

They were in pursuit of the “super-apostles” as if they were the earliest “groupies” in human history.  Whenever one of these eloquent teachers stood on his soapbox in the Agora, they would flock to hear his tantalizing words.  It was not a quiet academic pursuit, they loudly invited their acquaintances and vociferously lauded the unverified credentials of these charmers.

Consequently, Paul had to rein them in by competing on the level that he did not enjoy.  He forced himself to lay out his credentials in comparison, showing that he was not only equal to any of these charlatans but superior to them.  Instead of the Corinthians taking the initiative to defend and acclaim their apostle as the bearer of truth, he had to do it himself.

True apostleship must be accompanied by signs, wonders and miracles.  Paul had more than the minimum that demonstrated these authentic qualifications.   Furthermore, he never imposed himself on the Corinthian believers for any inconveniences, never once being a burden to them.  This ease of relationship should have not been missed by them but it was. 

Nevertheless, the Apostle Paul was planning a third visit to this gathering of Christians in Corinth.  His purpose is not to take advantage of their resources.  He only wanted to win their hearts.

Paul loved these believers as a father loves his own children.  He wanted to take care of them not for them to take care of him.  We who share in the privilege of ministry don’t easily live with this example.  Our hardships and want in life have often left our souls longing for better compensation so that the ministry is not a distraction for us.  Yet, if we love as God wants us to love and live according to that simple principle, God will make it work out.

In Paul’s emotional plea for the Corinthians to consider their loyalties, he taught the valuable lesson.  Will those that serve God among us feel our love as we care for their needs out of our initiative?  When we find a pastor or Christian leader who gives of  himself without selfless demands on us, will we give them our favor and care?

2 corinthians 12.11-18

Frankly, 2011 was a great year.  I loved everything that happened.  If a year could be planned with blessing, joy and delight then last year was fabulous.

I even got a headache trying to think of any regrets from the year that has now passed.  But, there weren’t any moments that made me cringe.  In many ways it was a year free from flaws and pain.

Maybe it’s my memory that is starting to fade.  But, again maybe it is learning to live for now and hoping for the future that gives me such a good year to enjoy.  What has happened in the past is just that, it is past.

Moaning about mistakes, lost opportunity or bad decisions doesn’t change much.  Nor does the hesitation to try anything because of past hurt ever accomplish much.  God’s grace and mercy are more than enough to give us a fresh start no matter how people treat us, make their demands or impose their judgment on us.

Instead, when we embrace God and receive His embrace of us, life goes along very well.  Even if it should turn sour, we can look to Him to grow us through the trial.  He will never give us more than we are able to withstand.

Now, that we are facing a new year, it can be seen as a blessing!  Another fresh start to experience more in His goodness.  It’s time to regroup and refresh our determination.

Two key features make sense to me.  As I plan out the new year, there are principles that reverberate in my mind.  These principles are vertical in nature, horizontal in intensity.

First, this year is one where I will devote myself to prayer.  The Word “devote” is intentional.  This term means to be focused, determined, relentless and passionate.

Prayer is my commitment to keeping the Almighty in the routine of my life.  Instead of going from project to project and person to person, I want God to be a part of every detail of my life.  Tight communication in His care and grace is my desire.

Second, I want this year to be about opportunity.  I believe that the providence of God will open up doors that He desires me to be passageways for His best.  His sovereignty is the basis of my life.

Hungry for opportunity is my desire.  This passion will be my daily appetite.  I will not wait for someone else to act or wait for waiting sake.  I’m ready to make this new year count.

photo credit: google image

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