Canaan's Rest

Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

December 7, 2021

Dear Ones,
May you wake to a fresh day full of promise and blessings! We had a fun party last night with 4 great soups and lovely decorations and caroling etc. Al also won a prize that  lit up on our table and used later as our power went out for  while. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Haven’t we thought at times that we could serve God better if he removed some of what we see as hindrances or roadblocks in our lives. We might say, “Lord, I could serve you better if you gave me good health and healed me,” or “Lord if you gave me more eloquent speech, I would preach and teach others.” You can put in the if’s, but the truth is that God uses even our weaknesses to bring glory to Him…especially our weaknesses, for others know it is the power of God working in our lives.
We may not understand why God doesn’t heal us of our chronic condition and restore us now, but He has purpose in everything and one day we will know. Jesus told his disciples when he was washing their feet “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” We may not even know in this life why we must live with disabilities and pain, but one day we will know. In the meantime, may the Lord use whatever we go through to demonstrate to others that He is enough!
Helen Keller ended up thanking the Lord for her handicaps because she said through them she found herself, her work and her God. “The Messiah” was composed my Handel who was paralyzed on his right side and arm. Paul suffered so many hardships and had a thorn in the flesh that was never removed but kept him humble and dependent on God. He said in II Cor. 11:30 (ESV), “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
We all have weaknesses and some are evident to others but some are hidden. Rather than complain and hold back from serving the Lord, we are to gain our strength from Him. 
Some of the best speakers have been in wheelchairs and are radiant as they share how the Lord meets their needs. Or maybe you are a caregiver and have to keep reminding yourself that as you care for your loved one, you are serving the Lord.
May we all remember that “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b) One morning we will have perfect bodies and minds and glory in His presence.
Challenge for today: Thank the Lord for how He will use your weaknesses and handicaps for His glory.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

Robert Bly & Iron John

Robert Bly died recently (Nov. 21, 2021) at the age of 94. Bly was one of the early leaders of the Men’s Movement. While some of what he advocated in his retreats for men was outside a biblical framework, he persuasively called men to become aware of their hearts. I vividly remember one interview with Bill Moyers on PBS when he said, “The way to a man’s heart is through his pain.”  

After that interview, I knew a major focus of my ministry would be directed to the broken hearts of men. “It never occurred,” wrote Bly, “to think that men had feelings, or could be easily hurt… You never notice that in any of the commercials that are on television or radio. Men are regarded as something useful and ridiculous. There is a tremendous amount of belittling of men that has been going on for a long time in our culture.”

I felt Bly was speaking right to my heart as I was working through father wounds and father hunger: “With no male mode of feeling, some sons give up, collapse and become numb, for they received only the temperament of their father and not his blessing and energy.”  

Bly’s book, “Iron John” had a deep impact on me. I was able to locate much of my pain through his story telling.  One way in particular spoke to my family of origin: My mother was the dominant figure in my youth. My dad was distant. As an intuitive “feeler” by personality, I learned from Bly my natural tendency was to absorb the emotional environment in my home. 

“The child,” observed Bly, “in a messed-up family may feel a ghastly tension between the addicted parent and the clean parent, between the cold of the angry father and the heat of the loving mother, or between the cold of the furious mother and the heat of the sorrowing father.”

Bly spoke directly to my confused heart: “In such a situation it’s relatively easy to give up iron work and take up copper work. A child can easily become a professional bridge. The child can become a conductor made of that good conducting metal, copper.”

For the first time in my life, I realized that I had allowed myself to be the conductor of all the dysfunctional emotions in my home. I learned to visualize the copper wiring in my body, absorbing and storing emotions that I needed to release through confession and forgiveness. I slowly began to give up “chairmanship of the universe” knowing that I could not “fix” the emotional needs of people in my own strength. I will be forever grateful for this singular insight from Iron John.

Some of the readers of this blog are probably too young to remember the influence of Bly on the early men’s movement. In my opinion, a comment by Bly in the beginning of his book is even more telling today in light of so much focus on “toxic masculinity.” He wrote: “The grief in men has been increasing steadily since the start of the Industrial Revolution and the grief has reached a depth now that cannot be ignored.”

I am very thankful for the courage Robert Bly had to speak out on behalf of men during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. He faced much hostility and ridicule. “The best effect we’ve had is on young men who are becoming fathers who are determined not to be the remote fathers that their own fathers were.”  I was one of those fathers. Thank you, Robert Bly. I owe you a debt of gratitude. 

 

December 6, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Today it’s cold and we got lots of snow so the view out our bedroom window has changed. We had a lovely Christmas Tea on Saturday and fun to see old friends. The program was excellent! This morning I studied and had exercise class and at 5 we have  Soup Supper party here at the apartments. Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Our days were written in God’s book and he knows the number of them and has a plan for us. But do we sometimes wish we could trade lives with someone else who we feel is successful, beautiful, exciting and has it all together? But is that really wise?!
While at exercise class, doing leg stretches with our hands pressing against the wall, the gal next to me confessed she had felt envious of a mutual friend who seemingly had such a beautiful life. But her feelings of envy were short lived as so many tragic things happened to this beautiful gal, as her life was turned upside down with griefs.
We have only one life and we need to remember that the Lord has a plan for each of us. As it says in Prov. 20:24 (God’s Word), “The Lord is the one who directs a person’s steps. How then can anyone understand his own way.” The Message translation says, “The very steps we take come from God; otherwise, how would we know where we’re going?” If it is the Lord who directs our lives,  it is not for us to envy or compare our life and what we are going through with anyone else.
I went to a Christmas Tea on Saturday and the theme was Joy and how the Lord is our exceeding joy. (Psalm 43:4) Joy is not having the right circumstances or it is not finding it in another person, but in the Lord who made us. At each table, we all had time to share moments of joy in our lives; and all that was shared seemed to result from times of hardship when we discovered how the Lord is enough. We closed with a song you may know from Fires by Jordan St. Cyr, and the refrain goes, “You’ve walked me through fires/ Pulled me from flames/ If you’re in this with me/ I won’t be afraid/ When the smoke billows higher, oh and higher/And if feels like I can barely breathe/ I’ll walk through these fires/ Cause you’re walking with me.”
The Lord has given us everything we need to face whatever comes on the road we walk in this life for He is always there for us and with us.
Challenge for today: Thank the Lord for a specific hard time in your life when you experienced the Lord walking with you through it.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

December 4, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the weekend! You are getting this early as Lynn and I are going to Hackensack this morning for the ladies’ Christmas Tea at the Lighthouse…. a highlight in preparation for Christmas! We hear snow is coming tonight and hope it isn’t a lot as we are serving at church in the morning! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Yesterday I wrote of the inner journey and what it is to hit the wall. Everything seems to be going well outwardly as we have been busy serving the Lord, and yet we come to the place we are inwardly dry. We don’t feel that joy bubbling up and we begin to rely on ourselves and take matters in our own hands. We may try to remedy this by seeking to read the Bible and praying more, and doubling our efforts by spending increased time in spiritual disciplines etc… and yet we still feel unsettled and dry.
It could be that it is a wake-up  call from the Lord, inviting us to go into the next stage of the journey, where He brings us into a new place of intimacy. All that we have been doing in helping others etc. is good but our first calling is our own relationship with the Lord. Drs. Bill and Kristi Gaultiere authors of Journey of the Soul, write of how it is a time we have to stop doing for the Lord and start just being with Him. When we feel stuck and tired and lacking in peace, it is time to not do more but to rest in His love without the sense we have to accomplish something.
St John of the cross, practiced “holy idleness” and said to pastors that it was more profitable to spend half their time with the Lord in prayer and the other half in their work. The challenge is to us also to cut our work load of doing, and spend time with the Lord.
A group of pastors who were overworked went on a retreat and spent 24 hours in silence where they were not to try to make things happen or write sermon notes etc. but just be with the Lord. They could relax in His presence, go for a walk, sit by a lake, and open themselves up to God’s loving presence.
Maybe some of us experienced that in a small way if we were quarantined because of Covid and had to stay quietly apart from others. It can be an opportune time to help our souls to be realigned and cultivate new ways to relate to the Lord and to prepare us for the next stage of the journey where we work in harmony with the Lord and in His strength.
It says in Heb. 4;9-11(Message), “The promise of ‘arrival’ and ‘rest’ is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. At the end of the journey, we’ll surely rest with God. So, let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience.”
Challenge for today: Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, open yourself to the next stage the Lord has waiting for you.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

December 3, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend to you! Today I woke to fresh snow covering the ground and trees and looks a little more like Christmas is on its way.  I took a friend to the Dollar Store this morning and did some studying and food prep. Should be a beautiful walk this afternoon. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We are all on a journey of our souls and sometimes we may feel like we are stagnant and yet we want to cultivate a fresh intimacy with the Lord. It could be that we are recognized and applauded, and everything is outwardly going well, but yet our souls feel dry and parched. 
Bill and Kristi Gaultiere wrote Journey of the Soul, and I have been reading their practical guide to emotional and spiritual growth. Bill is a pastor and psychologist and Kristi is a marriage and family therapist, and they share very candidly from their own life experiences. They write about how we can all get in trouble when we rely on ourselves rather than the Spirit, which we may all know from experience. They give a map of stages in our life’s journey that are circular, rather than linear, since we often revisit the places we have been before.
We start out with receiving the Lord and our confidence is in Him. We then go on to grow in grace along with other Christians and practice spiritual disciplines. After that it seems we use our gifts and have responsibilities in ministry to serve God. But then we often fail to rely on the Holy Spirit, and it follows that we become spiritually dry and hit the Wall. That often wakes us and leads us to take the inner journey as we share our emotional distress with a safe person, and in prayer come to a new place of intimacy with the Lord. We can then go on to Spirit-led ministry where we serve God by working in harmony with Him rather than doing things in our own strength. That leads us to the next stage of transformation when we practice the Presence in all we do. Our life becomes one of joy and of love as we come to love in deep ways, even to love our enemies. 
We all have ups and downs in our journey of faith and we need to rely on the presence and power of the Spirit and not ourselves. Professor and author Dallas Willard once said, “Do your best, but don’t trust your best—trust God.”
As we go through the stages of emotional and spiritual growth, let us not trust our own abilities but rely on the power of the Spirit and place our confidence in the Lord. We are all at different places in our journey, but let us remember it is walk of grace and keep moving. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Gal. 5:25 (ESV)
Challenge for today: Care for your soul and rest in grace.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

 

December 2, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a great day. I started the day at the dermatologist at 8 a.m as the biopsy on my back was cancer but not melanoma. PTL! But I had to have another biopsy on my cheek so I won’t look too hot for Christmas pictures! Emoji It’s Donut Day so had treat when I got home!  Last night we decorated the church before Bible study and got it done in 1 hour as many came to help. Record time! This afternoon Al will be leading the Bible Study here and is a blessing as many usually share .
Devotions from Judy’s heart
One morning I woke to a lingering sweet aroma in the apartment as I had made Al’s favorite cookies before going to bed the night before. Even when I was briefly awake in the night, I noticed how good the scent was. It caused me to think of the sweet aroma of Christ and wondered what aroma I leave behind after I have been with others. As it says in II Cor. 2:14-15 (ESV), “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
Perhaps the question is something we all need to ask ourselves. When we are with a friend or a group of people what is the fragrance that we bring and then leave behind? Is it sweet smelling or could it be even offensive?  It is good to pay attention to how we live our lives, for others notice our attitudes and behavior, and are either attracted to the Lord or turned away. I’m sure we have all been with a person who seems to bring a beautiful essence into the room just by their positive, loving presence. Then there may be another that is negative and brings an offensive heavy scent.
Each day is a day to live for the Lord and the Holy Spirit wants to continually help us walk in love, to be kind and tenderhearted. That means we don’t have to push our opinions on others or say hurtful words but be respectful and loving with soft answers. As James 1:19 (ESV) says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
Let us all ask the Lord to show us  how we need to change and to become more like Him. May we each become a sweet-smelling fragrance that will draw others to the Lord.
Challenge for today: Daily ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with His love that the fragrance of the Lord will touch others through you. 
Blessings on  your day and prayers and love, Judy

December 1, 2 021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a good day. It is a wet one here with rain but no snow. I studied this morning and went to exercise class. This afternoon is crafts and then Bible Study tonight at church. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How many times have we prayed the Lord’s prayer through and got to the end before realizing we haven’t comprehended a word of what we have said. We have not connected with the Lord. Prayer should not be mundane and said without meaning and yet it can happen when we are hurried or worried or rushing on to the next thing.
Jesus’ disciples had a wonderful example of how to pray as they must have watched Him many times. They heard His prayers when He calmed the wind or raised Lazarus from the dead, or perhaps when He called His Father, Abba or Pa Pa, in the Garden of Gethsemane. It says in Mark 14:36, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” As I read from Journey of the Soul, Bill or Kristi Gaultiere wrote a paraphrased wording of the Lord’s prayer that I want to share with you. You may want to pray it sometime instead of the usual one to help give you fresh meaning.
 
“Our Father in the heavens, always near and ready to help,
May your name be precious to us and bring us delight always.
May your Kingdom of the Heavens come to rule over us.
So your good, pleasing, and perfect will is accomplished in us.
Please provide for us the food and care that we need today.
Please forgive our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.
Please hold us by the hand so that we don’t fall down in trials
And are kept safe from all evil.
In everything help us to live in your kingdom, by your power, and for your glory
Amen.”
Challenge for today: Pray this prayer with meaning before going to bed tonight and open your heart to hear the Lord’s response.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

November 30, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you wake up with a peaceful heart and anticipation of a new day. What is the hardest thing for you to hold on to with faith at this time? 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We must never give up! As God’s children we will win if we fight and don’t give up. As we look around us in the world today there is so much evil and destruction; the enemy wants to do us in and is using all his tactics to destroy us. But the bottom line is his time is short and almost over; if we hang in there and lean into the Lord, we win!
I read what Heidi Baker wrote about how God’s Got This, and we are to hold on by faith. She and her husband have a ministry in Mozambique and have seen evil so rampant. Christians have lost homes, family and friends, and been tortured because of their faith; whole villages have been wiped out. But she says to us that love wins, and when we share His love, loss and grief are not the end of the story. We overcome as we lean into the Lord and commune with Him and make our life one of prayer and worship. Every day we can live in His presence as we go about our work and give thanks for His sustaining power.
Most of us are not going through anything like those in Mozambique but we also must continually realize that we are not in control. Then we can place our life in God’s secure hands and practice what Paul said to the people who are being persecuted in Thessalonica.  He tells them in I Thess. 5:16-18 (God’s Word), “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.” We are not thanking God for the terrible things happening to us or our loved ones but we are giving thanks to the Lord in the situation. Even when we feel pain and loss, we remember that He is enough, He is sufficient.  As we go through suffering, our lives can be transformed as we learn things we never would have known otherwise. So let us not give up hope and throw in the towel, but rise up stronger as we go forth in the strength of the Lord.
Challenge for today: Refuse to give up when going through rough times, and listen to the Lord as you draw closer to Him.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
 

November 29, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a great weekend! We enjoyed our time in Mora yesterday as Al preached and we got to see old friends and go out with several couples for lunch. We came home very spiritually blessed. This morning I went to Exercise class and this afternoon we are having  Trim the Tree and cider and cookies!
I have a prayer request for my cousin’s son, Jeff, who they just found out he has cancer of the brain, lungs, pancreas, and liver. He is single but has a girlfriend and needs a miracle! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Our home is with the Lord and that is the very best place to be. It is a place of safety and rest and blessing. How quickly we can stray and get caught up in so much busyness that we miss our intimacy time with the Lord.
Today I was reading from Psalm 84 that was written by a Levite who served in the temple as a singer. I became aware of how much joy he found in being in God’s house (temple) and praising the Lord. From the message translation, he says that I have “always dreamed of a room in your house, where I could sing for joy to God-alive! …And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel…One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.”
The writer is wanting to get away from a bustling life and meet the Lord in a place of prayer. He desires to quiet his mind and just spend time with Him. What better way to experience peace and freedom from stress, when we go apart to bask in His presence?
The Psalmist mentions going through the valley of Bacca which symbolized hard times of barrenness and struggle; yet for one who finds a home in the Lord, it can become a peaceful place of cool springs. Just as with him, we can actually grow in the tough places we must walk through, if we spend time in God’s presence and draw our strength from Him. When we try to go it alone, we fail and often get discouraged. But when we take time with Him in prayer and worship and reading the word, we feel at home with Him who holds us tightly in His love.
The Psalmist goes on to say in closing that the Lord does not hold back any blessings from those who live uprightly. When we put Him first in our lives, He blesses us more than we can imagine and we are in our true home.  
Challenge for today: Instead of spending time with your phone today, spend time with the Lord. 
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

Fathers Found Guilty

The prophet Hosea was called to live out a parable of God’s persistent love in the midst of Israel’s betrayal.  God commanded Hosea to marry a common whore and have children with her (Ch. 1-3). God “goes after us at our worst, keeps after us until he gets us, and makes lovers of men and women who know nothing of real love” (Message). 

God wants us to identify with Gomer in her wretched state to understand how spiritual adultery offends God. We can see the heart of God as He calls us back to himself. God does not give up on us. In our day both spiritual and moral idolatry keep us from relationship with Him.

Who is responsible for this spiritual condition of our culture?  Hosea 4: 14 gives us a clue: It is fathers who have not set the example in taking the lead in spiritual and moral fidelity. Hosea calls the fathers out for their failure: “I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot, nor your brides when they commit adultery, for the men themselves slip away with prostitutes, and they offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes [who give their bodies in honor of the idol]…the people without understanding [stumble and fall and] come to ruin” (Hosea 4:14 – Amp.).

To win the favor of the fertility god Baal and the goddess Asherah, the Canaanites engaged in “sacred” prostitution, which involved ritual sexual acts with “sacred” prostitutes. “These rituals took place at special shrines located on hills under the shade of trees and were designed to promote fertility in the land…The Israelites encouraged their daughters to visit the shrines, hoping that their participation in ritual sex with the priests of Baal and Asherah would encourage their gods to give them numerous children. But their fathers were just as guilty, for they too visited the shrines and has sexual relations with the priestesses there…to enhance their own virility” (Chisholm – Handbook on the Prophets).

Israel became so infatuated with idols and sexuality promiscuity that they surrendered to “a spirit of prostitution” in which “the men consort with harlots and… sacrifice with temple prostitutes” v. 14 NET).  “Verse 14 is in fact a landmark in moral history by its refusal to treat a man’s sexual sins more leniently than a woman’s” (Bible Speaks Today). Here Hosea makes clear that the daughters are innocent when compared to the men, who were not setting an example to their daughters, but were going to prostitutes, both religious and secular. 

Verses 12-14 reveal people who had forsaken the Lord and turned to promiscuity. They show how self-indulging and mindless religion is in fact guilty of producing spiritual decadence, which in turn produces a moral breakdown in the culture. God declares they are, “a stupid people, ruined by whores” (v. 14 – Message). 

Men, God’s directive in the sixth commandment is: “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14). Luther’s Small Catechism tells us, “We should fear and love God so that we lead a chaste and pure life in word and deed, and that husband and wife love and honor each other.” Paul exhorts us, “Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity” (I Thess. 4:3 – Message).

It seems to me that in a sensual and sexually-confused time, Christian men need to step forth and practice sexual purity. We can apply this by resolving to: 1) Be a one-woman man, 2) Live and model a virtuous life of purity, and 3) Acknowledge how much we and other fathers have failed in our culture.  God help us as men and fathers to do that.

 

 

 

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