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Monday, August 28, 2017

The Empowerment of GRACE...


The three familiar bright yellow school buses that turn around right in front of our house both morning and afternoon on weekdays, appeared again this morning! And with that, the summer break has come to an official end for the thousands of students that live in our great state.

The sight of Harnett County school bus number 23 earlier today brought back many memories of my school days beginning at St Rose Parochial School in Santa Rosa, California.  Then to Matanzas Elementary for one year when my family moved to the other side of town and eventually back to Parochial School at St Eugene’s, once the opening for me came up.  After that it was Slater Junior High and Montgomery High… where my life would be forever changed (& quite blessed I might add) when I met a bubbly young brunette by the name of Piper Canevari.

In the fall of 1971 we began attending classes at Santa Rosa Junior College and then traveled to Chico State in 1973 for a year of studies after which I decided to forgo my senior year in order to start a photography business with a friend.  From there we skip ahead about five years when I went back to college at Sonoma State University to complete my degree… but it wasn’t over yet!  Though I wanted to go right after I finally graduated college, I had to wait another 25 years before I could fulfill a big dream to attend Bible College which I joyfully completed in 2008.  And is that it?  Well, you never know…  We’ll see what the good Lord has in mind!

One of the many things I clearly remember about my school years, especially from junior high through college at Chico State, was the trepidation that I would feel when I took that first glance at the new schedule of classes for the new year or semester.  It was different at Sonoma State as I was specializing in adolescent and family psychology and was quite excited about what I might get to learn, especially as we were just starting our own family and ministry with youth at the church.

The same can be said for my time at Bible College.  Each new class schedule produced a hunger and thirst for God’s Word and the practicality of putting it to work not only in my life, but in the ministry settings that I had come to thoroughly enjoy over the years.

I think that it is through the practicality of all our studies we learn in school that we learn the greatest lessons in life.  In the practicality of life’s lessons we build on the foundations of who we are, how we think, and how we respond to others.  One of the biggest lessons I learned, in the midst of very difficult times and caustic experiences over the last ten years is the reality of God’s GRACE.  I feel like the Apostle Paul was talking directly to me when he penned to his son-in-the-Lord Timothy “Therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (II Timothy 2:1 MKJV)

As I studied this verse today, I thought about three important aspects of His GRACE that I have ascertained with all my wife and I have been through… so far!  First is that His GRACE has given me the ability to walk in love in the midst of those who have been critical and/or unkind to us.  Second is the ability that His GRACE has given me to forgive even though others are not sorry or don’t seem to even know (or want to know) that they have deeply hurt us.  And thirdly, is the freedom to forgive myself for my failures that have occurred during this time.

One of the greatest strengths of His GRACE for me, has been that it keeps me focused on God’s love and not on the un-GRACE-fullness of any offenders… including myself!  The utter immenseness of His love for me and Piper, as well as for the others, is an awe-inspiriting strength that can only emanate from Him!  God’s GRACE has empowered me through the hurt, through the tremendous emotional pain and through the resulting feelings of rejection.

Robert’s Word Pictures declares that Paul is actually telling his protégé to “keep on being empowered” or to keep “in touch with the power” of God’s GRACE.  By keeping focused on Him and His Word, Piper and I have received the continuing strength to keep in touch with the empowerment of His GRACE.  Now I am not saying that I haven’t allowed that power to ebb a few times, but thank God, I have known enough to plug back in as soon as I can!

What about you?  How much do you depend on God’s GRACE.  For my lovely wife and I, it is a life-saving power connection that we have come to expect!  Just like I make sure that my cell phone is plugged in each night, I also make sure that I am plugged into the power and strength of His Grace first thing each morning… and last thing before I turn the light out at night!  You Too?

Have a great new week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting God’s GRACE to empower me today?”

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