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.

February 8, 2023

Dear Ones,
 Hope you have a peace-filled day! I just finished making a casserole without a recipe so hoping it will taste good. Al is preaching and giving communion next door at Assisted Living this morning. I have exercise class and tonight we have Bible Study at church. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
   The clock is ticking and every day we are that much closer to our homecoming to glory where we will spend eternity with the Lord. It is good to keep that in mind so that we live not just for today, trying to squeeze as many pleasureful things into it, but that we live our lives for Him. As Paul said in II Cor. 5:15 (ESV), “He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”
   We need to ask ourselves what we give our energy and time to. If we live just to make money and live a life of comfort all for ourselves, we will soon discover it leaves us feeling empty. We were made for more. In fact, we were made to bring glory to the Lord and to serve Him and share Him with others. We were made to help the poor, to bring comfort to those that mourn, to help set the prisoner free. God has given us spiritual gifts to help us to do that and one day we will have to give account of how we used those gifts. It is sad when gifts are not opened and never used for what God intended. In fact, the enemy will use all kinds of tricks to shame us and prevent us from using our gifts. But instead of swallowing his lies, we need to remember how Jesus looks at us. We are His beloved, we are chosen, we are His forgiven ones who He delights in. 
  We are made to fellowship and serve the Lord until our last breath. Even though Al and I are getting older, we are never to retire from spending time with the Lord and serving Him. He can use every one of us until our last breath, even if the only thing we can do is to pray for others.
  As the clock ticks away, let us make each day count. Let us draw closer to the Lord, and serve Him through our gifts and reaching out to others.
 Challenge for today: Ask the Lord how you can touch the life of another today with His love.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

February 7, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope you will have a good day. The sun is shining and makes everything sparklle out my window. I just scrubbed and did some food prep. We are having friends over this afternoon for coffee and fellowship and we love those times. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  How do we live our lives each day? Do we live whole heartedly for the Lord or do we see how close we can fit into the world’s ways and still remain a Christian? A compromising life misses the best the Lord offers to us we end up missing so much of the joy and the peace He came to bring
  I was reading today how God told Moses to command the people to drive out the inhabitants of the Promise Land they were to claim, and to not let any of them remain. They were to destroy all their idols and traces of their pagan worship and practices. If they didn’t obey and drive them out, they would become like thorns in their sides and barbs in their eyes. (Numbers 33) And sadly, the Israelites compromised and didn’t fully obey or heed the warning. They became more like the idle worshippers and assimilated their practices and ended up suffering for it just as God said. Their compromise caused endless trouble!
   But can we admit that we can also be like the Israelites who engage in worldly things? Maybe something we are asked to do seems harmless at first and yet we get hooked and soon we feel trapped. Hopefully instead, we stand out as different and more like Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego who would not compromise at all when King Nebuchadnezzar ordered everyone to fall down and worship his 90 foot gold statue. They told the king, that their God was able to deliver them but even if he chose not to, “Be it known to you, O King, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:18) They could have compromised and bowed down this one time, rationalizing that they weren’t really worshipping it; or could have made other excuses but they were decisive and bold. Their witness caused the King to acknowledge God’s power and ordered no one to speak against God.
   Let us not waver in our faith and get distracted by the things of this world, but live each day for the Lord, with a willingness to pay the cost, no matter what.
  Challenge for today: Ask for holy boldness to stand up for the Lord and His kingdom, without compromise.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy 

Thrownness – And Your Calling

This is the title of a blog by Jonathan Rogers. German philosopher Martin Heidegger once wrote of “Geworfenheit” or thrownness. “You’re thrown into the world, into a particular set of circumstances not of your choosing, with a few tools thrown into your toolbox (also not of your choosing), and you start figuring out how to make a life – hopefully with the help of some wise guides, though, again, many of those guides won’t be people you identified or sought out exactly. Many of them were thrown your way too.”

Rogers then quotes James K. A. Smith: “Thrownness is not a negative thing.” We can regret our thrownness, resent it, or feel shame about it.  Or we can take it as a gift and a guide to our calling: “We are bundles of potentiality, but the possibilities are not infinite. We are thrown into a time and place, thrown into a story that is our history, and these form the horizons of possibility for us… That is not a limitation as much as a focusing, a gifted specificity.  This corner of earth I’ve been given to till. These neighbors I am called to love. These talents I’m exhorted to fan into flame. This neighborhood in which to birth a future.”

At my age, I really identify with the word thrownness.  I have been reading I and II Timothy.  I am impressed by how Paul the Apostle encourages young Timothy in his thrownness – that is, his unique call to carry on the ministry. “Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof – Public Sinner Number One – of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy” (I Tim. 1:15 – Message).  Never forget the mercy of God on your journey. None of us deserve mercy, but God is merciful and gracious. 

Paul expresses how God’s grace has carried him: “You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting – God’s applause!  Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming” (II Tim 4:6-8 – Message).  Personally, I have lived through a lot of thrownness in my life.  I am so grateful to have gotten through this far and plan to finish strong. 

Paul reminds Timothy that God confirmed his calling through all his thrownness:  “And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed – keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible” (II Tim.1:7 – Message).  He also encourages Timothy to remember how God has gifted him.  “And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed – keep that dusted off and in use” (I Tim. 4:14 – Message).

Finally, Paul encourages Timothy to “hang in” there, fight, and not give up:  “Run hard and fast in the faith.  Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses” (I Tim. 6:12 – Message).  Men, my testimony in the fourth quarter of my life is this: God can take every part of our life and make something out of it all.  Let go – and let God use your thrownness.

February 6, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a good weekend! The temperatures have warmed up and so good to catch up and walk outside again with our friends on the trail. This morning I did food prep and made a dessert and soon going to Aldi’s and my exercise class. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Jesus Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. If we could practice all that Jesus taught there, our lives and the world would be radically changed. When our kids were young, I had a friend in our church who was like a mentor to me and like a grandma to our kids. She and I decided to memorize that portion of scripture and we would go berry picking and other places and recite those verses together.
   One thing we discovered was that the kingdom of God was so opposite of that of the world. God’s way is like upside -down from man’s, for to be great in God’s kingdom we must be a servant to all, the last will be first and He must increase and we must decrease, etc. The world’s way is to seek the best places, to be first, to be right etc.
   So, when we pray, “Thy kingdom come and His will be done”, if we really mean what we say, we will demonstrate His kingdom in our own lives in obedience, being humble, gentle, showing mercy and all those things that belong to His kingdom. Wow! It also means loving imperfect people and that is often a big challenge. Love is more than a feeling, it is also an action for His love will flow out of our lives to others as we experience His unconditional love for us. As it says in I John 3:18 (Amplified), “Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].”
   How do we live out the Sermon on the Mount? We have to have open hearts to the Lord, and let the Holy Spirit have His way in our lives. He wants to help us die to self and live for Him. Each time we choose Him rather than self, His kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. By how we live our lives should be a demonstration to the world whose kingdom we belong to.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to help you put the Beatitudes into practice in your life (Matt. 5:2-12)
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy
 

February 4, 2023

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend! Hope you can enjoy some downtime to relax! The weather is warmer so we will be going outside for our walk today!! This morning I have been busy in the kitchen. I just finished making a veggie stirfry,  and a new cookie recipe which I doubt I will try again. Al loves to be the taster and also bowl-licker so will let him give me the final verdict! Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
   Is there a disconnect between what we believe and how we live? Does our walk match our talk about the Lord? We all fail and fall short and we have so many examples in scripture of men of God who blew it many times but confessed their sin and were forgiven and used of God. We have only one life to live and we can’t do it over, but we can learn from our mistakes and failures and let Him restore us.
  It’s good to acknowledge our weaknesses and insufficiencies and rely on the Lord and not our own strength. We can never measure up on our own but He makes us new creatures in Christ and we are righteous in His sight. As the apostle Paul wrote in Eph. 2:8-9 (ESV). “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works. So that no one may boast. “I am so thankful that we don’t have to try and try on our own and become discouraged when we fail again and again. But salvation is a gift that we receive by faith and then daily walk it out in our lives.
  We can trust the Lord to take care of us, and the deeper our trust is in Him, the closer it brings us to Him in intimacy and dependency. Sin is refusing to trust God and vitally connecting to Him. We need the Lord and when we try to protect ourselves, rather than rest and trust in God, we lose ourselves and become distant from Him. Yes, we go through hard times as all people, but even in our suffering we can grow through it as He draws us closer to Himself that His glory may be seen.
  Let us always be growing in our relationship to the Lord and know that we are loved without end. May the life we live today match our talk and bring Him glory.
  Challenge for today: Trust God no matter what happens to you throughout your day and let it bring you closer to Him.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

January 3, 2023

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend to you! Do keep warm! My phone says it is -18 and so glad we don’t have to go out today. I’m sure we will be walking in the underground later! I just finished  cleaning the apartment and made porkchops smoothered in apple slices. When it’s cold out I love to bake too. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  We were never meant to run our own lives but to lean on the Lord and let Him direct us. I read today from Jeremiah 10:23-24 (Message) “I know, God, that mere mortals can’t run their own lives. That men and women don’t have what it takes to take charge of life, So correct us God, as you see best.” I’m sure if it were up to us, we would take the most comfortable and easy way in life but we would miss God’s best.
   When we think of the children of Israel escaping from Egypt for the Promise land, God’s route for them was much longer than they would have chosen; but God had purpose in the more difficult way. They had a slave mentality and when they saw the enemy coming after them they might have gone back to Egypt. Also, the way through the wilderness that God took them on, was preparation for the battles that they would have to face when they reached the Promise Land. But the hard way taught them to depend on the Lord, knowing they could not go in their own strength. God wanted to let them know that He was with them on this long journey, so He gave them a pillar of cloud by day to lead them and a pillar of fire at night to give them light. When they looked up, it must have soothed their fears to know they were not in this on their own.
    God gives us assurance that He is with as for He gave us His word and the Holy Spirit. It may seem like He is taking us through the wilderness, the longest and most difficult way also; but we can rest assured that He has things to teach us through it all. I know I thought it took God so long to move us when we were in a difficult circumstance, and I would have preferred moving on much sooner. But yes, God taught us things we may not have learned otherwise and we also found that He is enough. No matter how tough the terrain is, He will guide us through as we depend on Him. 
   Challenge for today: Ask God for a teachable spirit when going through hard times.

 

January 2, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope you are keeping toasty warm on these cold days and it is so good to see the sun. This morning Al went to Men’s group and I did food prep, washing etc. and went downstairs for donuts and coffee with a few others. This afternoon we have Bible Study here and then I suspect we will walk inside.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  Do we live our daily lives our way or God’s way? Every day we have a choice if we will let God lead us or if we will manipulate to go our own way. It works well when we are receptive to His plan and His plan becomes our plan, and we follow as He leads.
   I am reading Ann Voskamp’s book, Waymaker, and she writes things in such a way that I am left to ponder her comments for some time. She said, “Prayer is moving us to do things God’s way on earth—not moving heaven to do things our way.” Like we pray so often in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” do we really mean it?
  God is wanting a relationship and communion with us but maybe we would rather have clarity to know what God is going to do next. Ann asks us why God should give us a road map of what He is going to do when He can give Himself. We need Him!
    The Lord desires that we be receptive and attentive and to wait for His timing, rather than pushing our own agenda. Perhaps we aren’t so good about waiting but Ann says, “Waiting is letting go to let something grow. The waiting need not destroy the soul but grow the soul. Waiting isn’t loss; it’s enlarging.” Our hearts can actually expand as we hold onto what God has for us, if we are willing to wait as grace grows within.
  The bottom line is that we don’t need to know all the answers but we need to trust Him. As Ann said, “Prayer isn’t giving God information to act upon but God giving intimacy to rest in.” We can always be at peace when we remember that He is holding onto us and will show us the way. As David said in Psalm 16:8 (NRSV) “You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord for His plan for you today and stick with His, not yours!
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

February 1, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope you have a wonderful day. The house is filled with aroma as I just made choc Oh Henry Bars. Soon I am going to my exercise class, crafts, and maybe shopping to spend my Kohl dollars! Tonight is Bible Study at church. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  The alarm rings, and it’s time to get up to the start of a new day. But how we begin our day can reflect on how the rest of our day will unfold. If we are selfishly living for ourselves our day can get to be toilsome; but when we put Jesus first, others second and ourselves third, our day will contain deep peace.
  Our friend David has been a caregiver to his wife who has had Alzheimer’s for 7 years and in the late stage now; he has put the Lord first and then his wife before himself. God has given him the avenue of writing poetry to help him find his way through this maze of changes. I want to share this short prayer poem he just wrote that we can also identify with when we go hard situations in our day. Putting Jesus first and ourselves last will move us to a better place.
              POEM: FLICKERING LIGHT
“As a caregiver, God help me to give more light than I take.
God, show me how to mend more than I break.
The candle of one I love is flickering like a river caught in a prolonged drought. 
I know God; only you determine when her candle goes out.
 
God, sometimes I wonder where you have been.
It seems like you show up like a long-lost friend.
Forgive me for doubting that your love is like a never-ending fountain. 
I have been climbing for too long the rough side of the mountain.”
 
 David goes on to mention that he feels that Alzheimer’s is like a hurricane and God has placed him in the eye of the storm where it is calm and beautiful. That can only happen when God is first, others are second and we are third. Let us entrust each day to Him!
Challenge for today: Give God first place each day, and open your heart to the blessings He will rain down on you!
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

January 31, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope you wake to a day of sunshine! This week the question is: When have you received a perfect gift that you sensed God prompted someone to give you to let you know He sees where you are at and loves you? Maybe it was an encouraging card to lift your spirit and give hope, or a perfect job offer that you didn’t know existed, or maybe an offer to relieve you from caregiving for the afternoon when you wondered if you could go on etc.  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  How bright is our light shining for the Lord? Do others observe that we are His children and have the family likeness? One scripture that I learned as a child in Sunday School was Matt. 5:16 and will probably always be remembered as we recited it each Sunday. I will use the Message translation today, “Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Our lives are to be lived for Him and not for ourselves and our love for Him can be expressed in numerous ways.
   One way is to be generous person that loves to share with others; not just material things, but faith and love and good deeds. I read today King Solomon’s words in Prov 22:9, “Whoever is generous will be blessed because he has shared his food with the poor.” It is exciting when we listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and He tells us to do something, which later turns out to be exactly what was needed at that moment.
   Maybe we are shopping and we are led to buy something for someone who is going through a hard time. I know a gal that recently went shopping and was led to buy a lovely top for a person new to Northern Living. The new gal has her own health issues and her son is very sick. We pray for her each day but maybe the Lord just wanted her to know He sees her and wants to bless her and encourage her.
   Others may not want to hear about our faith journey but they may recognize a deed done in His name and want to know our Father who is Love.  Let us not dismiss thoughts that come to us throughout our day for if the Holy Spirit is prompting us, let us follow His leading. May our lights not go dim by ignoring the needs of others but shine bright that the glory may go to Him.
  Challenge for today: Be open and willing to help meet the needs of others as led by the Spirit. 
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

  

Feminine Mystique

Elle Purnell recently wrote an interesting article in The Federalist about an earlier interview Emily Blunt had with The Telegraph. Emily may be best known for her lead role in Mary Poppins Returns, but as a Hollywood star, she often plays “tough girl” roles.  In the recently released Western miniseries The English, however, she does not play such a role. According to Blunt, “It’s the worst thing ever when you open a script and read the words: ‘strong female lead.'”   

Discussing her role in The English, Blunt captured some of the magic of her character as well as some of the magical attributes of womanhood. “I love a character with a secret,” she said. “And I love Cornelia’s buoyancy, her hopefulness, her guilelessness.”  Blunt maintains that strong female lead roles are “written as incredibly stoic, you spend the whole time acting tough and saying tough things. Cornelia is more surprising than that. She’s innocent without being naïve and that makes her a force to be reckoned with.”

Blunt has critiqued roles that reduce women to caricatures of men in the past.  In a 2015 Vanity Fair interview, she said, “I get [told] a lot, ‘You play a lot of tough female roles,’ but I don’t really see them as tough. I think there are plenty of strong women out there and I don’t think they can be compartmentalized as being one thing. ‘You’re tough.’ What, because I have a gun?”

Purnell then comments, “But there’s nothing empowering about burying a female character’s natural strengths under a tough-dude facade. What is empowering is embracing those natural qualities.” Women have a secret. It’s their “feminine mystique.” Purnell describes mystique as “a fascinating aura of mystery, awe, and power surrounding someone or something.”  Purnell closes her article with these words: “[Mystique is] the complex, beautiful, powerful, gentle, unyielding nature that we often try to capture with the world ‘femininity.’ And men spend their whole lives trying to figure it out.”

This hearkens to I Peter 3:4-5: “You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious to God. That is the way the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands.” The beauty from within speaks to mystique.  While men are more direct, task-oriented, and analytical, the hearts and minds of women are more beautifully intricate.  The strength of women doesn’t mimic that of men, but rather has its own character.  Those differences between the sexes are designed to complement each other. 

My wife, Judy, is “a strong woman.” She continues to challenge me with her Christian character and lifestyle.  She is the most consistent believer I know. I say to her daily, “Thank you for putting up with me for all these years.” Without her I would not be the man I am today. She has believed in me, supported me, and encouraged me over 57 years of marriage, while accepting my leadership in our marriage.  I know firsthand the mystery of a strong inner spirit that expresses itself in a feminine Christian witness.  Judy is “a complete, natural woman” who has learned to live with a “character” like me. 

Since my wife exemplifies inner beauty and feminine mystique, I do not need to be convinced of the influence and strength that women can express in a feminine manner.  They have a “secret.”  Men, my advice is to not try and figure it out. Rather, learn to appreciate it, while enhancing your wife’s ability to express her unique Christian strength.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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