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.

September 20, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a lovely weekend enjoying the fall colors. We are going to take off shortly for North Carolina and plan to spend the night in Coralville, Iowa, at our favorite hotel. They have a nice walking trail there and also a pool so we can get our exercise after the long hours in the car. We appreciate and are thankful for your prayers for our safety as we travel. It is storming out right now so hope we drive out of it.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Fear is something we all wrestle with and has no natural release valves. I was reading from “Wrestling with God by Ronald Rolheiser and he shares what Bieke, the late Belgian spiritual writer, had to say about her struggles. She was facing a terminal illness at the age of 19 and wrote about how she was tormented by sadness, anger, and fear. She felt we can handle sadness and anger easier than the fear. Sadness can be expressed through grieving and tears that soften our hearts; we cry and we feel better.  We may deal with anger through expressing it by punching bags, exercise, shouting etc. and get some release.  But fear is not something that has an escape valve that will lighten it. Fear can’t be taken out on someone else, but we have to live with it and endure it until we are willing to give it to God.
 Many people live with fear of death because of the unknown. As a nurse many years ago, I saw the difference of those who were ready to meet the Lord from those who did not know Him. Those that were afraid had their call light on all the time, and were filled with anxiety. But those who were waiting to go home to glory had a sense of peace.  Jesus came to rid us of our fears and so many times in scripture it says to Fear Not.  
We can probably all remember fears we had as a child and mostly overcome them as we grew up. But there is also a healthy fear of God when we have a loving sense of awe and reverence for Him. We may fear we may not be faithful to what He asks of us, or that we don’t trust Him enough, or that we may disappoint Him, but that is not the same as being afraid of Him. Jesus doesn’t want us afraid but that we live in holy fear like David who was called a friend of God. God is merciful, kind, forgiving and good and we do not have to fear. As it says in Isaiah 43:1-2 (The Message), “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God.”  He goes on to say that we are precious to Him, honored and loved by Him. Let us not fear; reverence yes, but not be afraid.
Challenge for today: Give all your fears to the Lord and trust Him with everything.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

A Soft Answer

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).  This verse became more real to me recently after I spoke in a harsh tone to my wife.  There was no need for such a response.  I was simply frustrated.  In its footnotes, the NET Bible gives an alternative translation as “a soft answer.”  “The adjective ‘soft; tender; gentle’ is more than a mild response; it is conciliatory, an answer that restores good temper and reasonableness.”  I definitely was not conciliatory toward my bride. I was ill-tempered and unreasonable.  

By all accounts I had blown it with my attitude and especially with my tone of voice. It was harsh and condescending. I confessed my fault to my wife. That is spiritual progress for me. Usually, I would simply brush off my remark with an insincere “I’m sorry.”  But this time I was aware of the tone in my voice.  I was deeply convicted when my bride expressed “fear” that I might regress to giving her the old silent treatment.  My wife’s expression of “fear” was frankly shocking to me.

Men, it has taken me a lot of years to get to where I can confess to you my shameful attitude when I get frustrated.  I pride myself in being a caring guy.  I am not harsh and judgmental in my outward behavior toward others.  Yet my own wife can become fearful because of my harsh attitude.  That makes me a hypocrite. 

“Gentleness” is a new watchword for me at home. There are six references to gentleness in scripture (NIV).  Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22).  In Col. 3:12 there is the challenge to clothe “yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Paul appeals to believers “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (II Cor. 10:1). In Phil. 4:5, Paul exhorts us to “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Phil 4:5).   In I Peter 3:15, we are told to answer “with gentleness and respect.”

According to The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, “Gentleness is an image of God’s ultimate subversive power that undercuts the power structures of the world.”  Jesus tells us to take his yoke and learn from him because he was “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:29).  By doing so we would “find rest” for our souls.  Men, we can be subversive by being gentle and humble in relation to our wives.  

Paul urges us to live a life worthy of our calling as a follower of Jesus.  “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).  The first place I can practice being gentle is with my wife, since Paul tells us “He who loves his wife loves himself” (Eph. 5:28).   My harshness only shows how far I still have to go in loving my wife as my own flesh.

So how am I going to become gentler as a husband, father, or man – one who desires to give a gentle answer in an attitude of love and caring?  I know I will not succeed in every situation.  But I hope to improve in showing gentleness. Many of you could feel the same way.  

Here are three things I challenge us all to do, as we ask for grace to improve.  First, become aware of our attitude and tone of voice as we sincerely pray for a sensitive and gentler spirit.  Second, confess on the spot when we detect a lack of gentleness. Third, seek forgiveness when we fail, while asking our wives to pray for us.  We’re in this together!

September 18, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope your day is full of sunshine and peace! I have been cleaning, scrubbing, washing, baking cookies and packing for our trip. This will be my last e-mail from here and the rest will be on our trip as I am able to write. We hope to get to North Carolina in time for John Mark’s soccer game! We would appreciate prayers for our safety as we may be gone a couple weeks. Thank you so much for prayers for Lily as she is home again and doing well. PTL!  (Perhaps even better since she saw her boyfriend!)Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
As things get darker in our world, how vital it is to let our light shine. But how do we do that in today’s culture that leans more and more away from God? I read recently on Crosswalk.com what Mark Roberts had to say about how important it is to let God’s light shine through us that others may see Him. Jesus said in Luke 11:34 (ESV), “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.” Jesus wasn’t talking about our physical eyes but rather our conscience, knowing right from wrong, and projecting what is within our souls into the world.  He cautions us to take care that the light in us does not become darkness by compromising with the world. This happens when we accept the world’s morals, and reject His truth. Maybe we don’t think we will get caught and that it doesn’t make a difference but it does. Young people today are asking what is right and what is wrong? What do they see as examples around them?
Today, more than ever before, we are being closely watched by others There are surveillance cameras everywhere and they are often hidden in hotels, bathrooms, offices etc. Our behavior is caught for others to see and we may end up feeling ashamed; but of course, the Lord always sees even in the darkest places and we can’t hide from Him.                                                                                                                                     But what kind of message do we want to send to the world though our words and actions? If our eyes are the windows of our soul, then what is in our hearts will come out in our words and behavior. Hopefully we desire to be full of His love and grace and for others to see His light in us and in our actions. Let us be fully committed to the Lord and live according to His will and reflect His character to all those around us.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to strengthen you to live for Him without compromise.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

                       

September 17, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a great weekend. Everything seems to get more colorful each day. This morning I wrote letters, made some side dishes and did some packing. Lots of details when you on a trip. Lily is making good progress and will be taking the plane home this afternoon so please pray it may go well for her.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
When we come to faith in God, we are called to be His instruments of grace; that means, as St. Francis of Assisi would say, we are to be the bearers of God’s love, the pardoners, the bringers of hope, the comforters of those who grieve. It is not always easy to be that, and when someone lives it out in their life, we feel divinely inspired by their example. We are not to excuse ourselves, saying that we are unfit or too unimportant to be God’s instruments, but rather that we all live out the Jesus way in a variety of ways. The most important thing is for us to be willing.
I was reading of the life of Alan Paton, a white Anglican clergyman who wrote Instrument of Thy Peace, which was based on St. Francis’ well known prayer. He writes in a language of forgiveness and love, and encourages us to be active instruments that are willing to give our life, our gifts, and our strength to be bearers of hope.
Paton writes of a man who leaves prison to go back into the world for he paid for his crime. The prison chaplain assures him that his past is done and forgiven. But when he returns to the world, he finds that they have not forgiven him nor forgotten his past; so, he despairs and begins to doubt that God has forgiven him. That should not happen among Christians for we are to forgive others, even as we have been forgiven.
Today we live in a cancel culture and there are conflicts over the smallest issues. It makes for lots of broken relationships and we seem to be a graceless society. But as God’s instruments we are to forgive others and give up the right to get even. Jesus said in Matt. 6:14-15 (ESV), “But if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” We all have the same need for forgiveness and Martin Luther King said, “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”
Just recently at our weekly Bible Study we all wrote encouraging words on a card to a young man who was at Teen Challenge and accepted the Lord. He has a wife and children but is due to go to prison for a year to pay for his offense. We want to commit to pray for him and to let him know he is forgiven, and that he would be an instrument also, that God will use to win others even while in prison.
Let us all be His instruments of grace with forgiving hearts of love to all.
Challenge for today: Be willing to be extend grace and forgive the next time you get offended.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

September 16, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this beautiful day! This morning I studied, started some packing, and went downstairs for donuts. This afternoon we have Bible study and tonight I have our women’s Bible study at church. 
Lily is doing well but of course dealing with pain. Tomorrow they are scheduled to fly back to home to Kansas so getting on the plane etc may be challenging. So grateful for all your prayers. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
A real test of our love for God is seen in our obedience. When He speaks, do we listen and then obey or do we go about our life simply doing our own thing? Lately as I have been reading the Word, I see how many times it says God spoke and then the person did what He said. Before Jesus departed from this earth, He said to his followers in John 14:21 (The Message), “The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.” Not loving means not keeping His word. We see this in children who refuse to obey and it only gets them into big messes. 
This morning I was reading in I Samuel 15 when Samuel tells Saul that when he goes to war against Amalek, they were to totally destroy the people and all of their cattle and sheep, donkeys and camels. Nothing was to remain as they were under a holy ban. But Saul does not completely obey and saves King Agag along with some of the choice sheep and cattle. God reveals to Samuel what Saul has done and how sorry He is that he is king. When Samuel heads to see Saul, he hears the bleating of the sheep and mooing of the cattle. Saul makes excuses and says he is going to use the animals in sacrifice to God. God does not want partial obedience but total. Because of Saul’s disobedience the kingdom was torn away from him and was later given to David. Samuel tells Saul that God says what He means and means what He says. 
Our disobedience can be very costly! When it says in the Word that something we want to do is wrong, we don’t have to question it, it is not right! But sometimes we are not sure what God is saying and we need to listen carefully and then do whatever He says. Even something good but delayed and out of God’s timing, can become something negative. We need to obey now as His ways are so much higher than our ways. What if Noah had waited until it started to rain before he began to build the ark? Let us do all that the Lord calls us to do and do it in His timing with hearts of love.
Challenge for today: Please the Lord with your obedience even in the smallest things today.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

September 15, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you have a peace filled day. I just made some egg dishes and soon going to my exercise class. This afternoon I am going to crafts and will be making cards. Tonight is Bible Study so is a  day of blessings. 
Please continue to pray for Lily’s recovery as she is in a lot of pain today.  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Music is so good for our souls and has many health benefits too.  Music is often mentioned in the Bible like David who composed songs when he was tending sheep; or Deborah, or Moses and Miriam who sang songs of praise to God after a victory.
Paul wrote in Eph. 5: 18b-19 (ESV), “Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.”
Brian Vaszily wrote about the benefits music has on us and the power it has to influence our brain and body. Music is actually known to boost our memory and learning, and those who listen while they are working can outperform others doing the same tasks.
Scripture set to music helps us in memorizing passages and gives us better recall. I’m sure our kids can remember scriptures we learned as a family that we sang to music during family times.
Music also has a way of lifting our spirit and lowering our stress levels. If we play a praise song, it can take us from a tense mood to one of peacefulness, helping us feel less anxious and reduce depression symptoms.
Brian writes that music stimulates creativity and can inspire us for creative things like art and writing
Music is also good for our hearts as it lowers our blood pressure and our heart rate and helps in the recovery time from a heart attack. Of course, it also depends on what kind of music we are listening to!
Music is also known to give us energy and help our exercise performance. At my exercise class, upbeat music is always played and seems to boosts our energy. I find it even more energizing when I am doing it to Christian music. I use to do that with a rebounder and at times I felt like I could touch the ceiling!
Music can also help reduce pain and it tends to help decrease chronic or acute pain, like after surgery.
Lastly music can help improve our sleep, both the quality and just falling asleep. You might find that if you put music on at bedtime, you may get to sleep faster and sleep better.
Music is good for the body, soul and spirit so let us make music in our hearts to the Lord.
Challenge for today: Listen to praise music while you get ready for work and see if your day goes better! 
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

September 14, 2021

Dear Ones,
May you wake to a fresh awareness of the Lord today.  I hope to get downstairs this morning for coffee and choc covered raspberries and this afternoon we are having friends over for coffee. Our granddaughter’s hip surgery is at noon today so our thoughts are on Lily and thank you also for your prayers. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Doesn’t it feel peaceful when we have mental space and can spend some time in silence with the Lord? Sometimes our minds get so cluttered as we try to figure everything out that we can hardly hear what God has to say to us.  Francis Fenelon, a French Bishop, writes to a friend who desires spiritual direction. He addresses his cluttered mind and tells him that there is so much filling his head that there is not room for God to speak. He, more or less, tells him to get out of his head and stop trying to figure God out but instead to be humble and open to hear Him speak.  It is good at times for our body to fast to clear things out, but our mind needs to do that as well. Our confidence is not to be in our intellect but rather in God who has so many truths to teach us. Fenelon warns his directee to beware of those who put their confidence in their great minds, for they can talk endlessly around things but none of it matters. In fact, it leads to nowhere and even though they keep consuming so much, like Solomon said, it becomes vanity. 
I remember one time when Al and I visited a church around Lenten time, and the preacher went on and on, building his sermon on false assumptions and no longer truth. At first, I wondered if I was actually hearing right, as he said the cross was not really about Jesus at all but more about us etc. He seemed to go around in circles. Another pastor we knew did not believe the resurrection happened and so he told his congregation about the story of the resurrection. How sad! Fenelon wrote that even when we study, we should think of it as going to the market and getting only what we need on that trip. He said, “We can know truth only in proportion to how much we love.” When love is not present, it is just dead facts and not really knowledge at all. We are to use our minds prayerfully for as we come to know the Lord, we have the perfect balance between truth and love. That requires us to be humble like children, with open simple minds to receive. Let us not get puffed up in our human intellect but remember what Jesus said in Matt. 11:25 (God’s Word), “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from wise and intelligent people and revealing them to little children.”
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to give you an uncluttered mind and simple childlike faith so He can teach you more.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

September 13, 2021

Dear Ones,Hope you had a beautiful weekend! Such gorgeous perfect weather. This morning i have been doing food prep but won’t get to my exercise class as I have a long dental appointment in Remer.  I would ask for prayer for our granddaughter Lily who is in Vail now and will have her hip surgery tomorrow. There are two Doctors doing it and join us in prayers that she may play soccer again.  Devotions from Judy’s heartNearly every day we meet a couple on the Paul Bunyan trail who have become dear friends. We met not by chance but God’s design, and most every day we walk nearly a mile and a half together. We call our time of sharing the Lord together, Church on the Paul Bunyan trail. We go away blessed by the time of fellowship together as we seek to hear what God is saying to each of us.Since our first meeting, David has been writing poetry that God has been using to bring healing and comfort to his soul, for he has experienced several big losses. He describes it much like a storm he has been going through and Jesus has become his shelter to weather it.Each day we walk by a place on the trail so full of color. There are cattails surrounded by stunning bright yellow prairie sunflowers in full bloom. David took out his camera to capture the flowers but realized that his shadow was in the center of the picture. Nothing seemed to work to remove his shadow, not even the zoom on his camera. There were no other options as he did not have the power to move the sun. But God spoke to him with the scripture from John 3:30, (ESV), “He must increase, but I must decrease.” At first, he was not sure how this could be done but realized it happens as we make Jesus our Lord and give Him control over our life. He gets first place and we are His servants to do His will, not ours. Then our self begins to decrease and Jesus increases in our lives and others are drawn to the Light.Isn’t that what needs to happen to all of us, that we put Jesus first in our lives and give Him the control? Then we won’t be the shadow in the picture but the focus will be centered on the Lord. We will also find that we have more joy for when we no longer live for ourselves but for Him, life becomes so rich. The happiest people are not those who are self-seeking and put themselves first, but rather those who are eager to serve the Lord and others. Let us get ourselves out of the way, that the beauty of the Jesus will be seen.Challenge for today: When you sense you are casting a shadow, get self out of the way!Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

Facing The Giants

There is a lack of “soul care” for men in the church.  More time is spent on the boundaries or circumference of our lives – thinking, managing, and trying to address issues in the church.  Instead of aiming at the soul, however, we tinker with religious performance, programs and activities.  I join the voices crying out in our contemporary spiritual wilderness for men to pay attention to their souls. This involves the “inner journey” to the center.  It is a call to what Augustine and Calvin called “the double knowledge” of “knowing God and knowing ourselves.”   

Moses sent 12 spies, one from each tribe, to explore the Promised Land and come back with a report.  Ten spies came back with the majority report, saying, “The people who live there are powerful and the cities are fortified and very strong.  We even saw descendants of Anak [giants] there” (Num. 13:28).  As a result, they, “spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored” (Num. 13:32). 

The people complained, “Where can we go?  Our brothers have made us lose heart.  They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller that we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky; we even saw the Anakites there'” (Deut. 1:28).  Moses pleaded with them, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them.  The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert.  There you saw how the Lord your God carried you as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place” (Deut. 1:29-31). 

Caleb and Joshua, however, brought back a minority report.  After quieting the people, Caleb declared, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Num. 13:30).  Joshua then declared to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good … do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up.  Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them” (Num. 14:7-9).   Because of their positive report, God declared Caleb and Joshua would survive the plague that brought death to the 10 spies who brought back the bad report.

My concern is that we are paying too much attention to a majority report about “giants” in the land. For men, many of our giants are not without but within: overeating, addictions, sexual fantasy, pornography, fear, shame, inner wounds, etc.  I think you get the idea. 

These are the giants we need to face and defeat.  But we need groups of men who believe in “soul care.”  We cannot conquer these inner giants alone.  This battle takes time.  It will be a process.  We need brothers to stick with us as we face the giants.

Concerning the Israelites who believed the majority report, God said, “Not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers.  No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.  But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land…”(Num. 14:23-24).  I pray that you will join me in striving to be a Caleb Men need encouragement, not to flee from or deny their inner giants, but to be willing to fight the good fight with other brothers.   

Suggested application: Seek out that kind of group – and don’t quit till you find it.

 

 

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