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.

January 25, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a good weekend! We were happy to watch Kansas City win yesterday and hope to actually be in Kansas for the Super Bowl. This morning Al had cancer removed from from his ear and so glad our Dermatologist caught it during his annual check up. I went to my exercise class and did some studying.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How do we get along with those who seem difficult to love? I was reading what Joanna Teigen had to say on Crosswalk.com as she wrote about, “How to cope when your spouse is driving you crazy.” But I think what she had to say may be helpful for each of us in loving others, anyone who may be quite different from us and seems to get under our skin. She begins by telling us to give thanks for the good we see in our partner. Try to see them from another point of view as seen by others as a good boss, a helpful neighbor, a faithful Elder etc. Then to pray for our spouse and put his failings in God’s hands. If he has a bad attitude, also pray for our own attitude and to be filled with God’s love and compassion. Try to see them through God’s eyes as someone fearfully and wonderfully made. Remember that God looks at them as a chosen possession, treasured, honored and loved. The next thing is especially important for Joanna tells us to look in the mirror ourselves and see the speck that is in our own eye. Rather than focus on their failures and irritations pray Psalm 139:23 (NRSV), “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” As we look at what needs to be corrected in ourselves, we will be more patient with our partner on his growth journey. Rather than criticizing and judging him, we can be supportive as the Holy Spirit works changes in him. But Joanna also tells us if we are ready to explode, sometimes we may need to just walk out the door and reach out to a trusted mature Christian friend. This would be someone who can listen to us and hear our confession of our own bitterness and help us get a fresh perspective. I have to say I am very blessed to have a hubby that has heard a teaching about the man being the first to ask forgiveness and he really practices that. It humbles me when he kneels before me to ask my forgiveness and my heart melts to also see my failures. Let us do our part in being good confessors, forgivers, lovers of others, and practice what Jesus told us to do.
Challenge for today: The next time a friend or your spouse drives you crazy, go apart and pray  Psalm139:23.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

A Contact Sport

“A contact sport.”  When I saw this theme for a United Methodist Men’s national gathering, I thought to myself: “Blog.”  “The practice of discipleship is a ‘contact sport’ and cannot be ignored,” explained the event’s organizers.  “Most members of the United Methodist Church can recite the mission statement of our church… What appears to be missing in many places is a systematic way within local churches to make disciples that are transforming the world.”  This is certainly a challenge for each man reading this blog, including myself.

Being a former high school “jock” (Class of ’59), I think of the smell of sweat when I think of contact sports.  That sent me to II Cor. 2:15: “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.  But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.  To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom.  But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume” (II Cor. 2:15). 

So, what kind of aroma do we give off in our relationships? “As the gospel aroma is released in the world through Christian testimony, it is always sweet-smelling, even though it may be received differently.  Ultimately there are two kinds of people: those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (NIVSB).

Here are four observations about aroma (sweat) and men.  First, we need to know Jesus personally.  If we are to be the aroma of Christ, Christ must be absorbed through relationship. Facts and methods will not do the job. We need to have an open spirit so Jesus can pour His presence (and aroma) into us.  Only then can we give off the aroma of Christ. You can’t fake it; it has to be real.  

Second, when I think of how men are brought to Jesus, it is usually through another man or a group of men.  There is something that is assimilated or absorbed that opens a man’s heart to God.  It was true for me.  As a younger man, I was drawn to men who simply had Christ’s presence about them.  They were giving off the aroma of Christ without knowing it.

Third, find a group of men that “gives off the aroma” of Christ. This is especially important. Remember, masculinity is not something that is primarily taught; it is rather caught and assimilated.  A group of men committed to Jesus, wanting to be honest and transparent, and willing to reach out to a “wounded” brother*, can mean the difference between life and death in a man’s life.

Fourth, there is something powerful about a group of guys who have worked up a good sweat, giving all they have for a good cause.  That is how brotherhood and unity are built. Picture a group of guys that senses, “in the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade.  Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ” (II Cor. 2;14 MGS).  Wow! This is real “mojo!” 

Men, take it from me: You are going to smell like something.  With all your heart, desire to give off the aroma of Christ.  Think of a group of guys doing the same thing.  I picture a football team coming out together to start the game, running through the smoke, with flags and cheerleaders urging them on. 

That’s who we are.  We are going into the conflict already knowing that we are ultimately going to win.  We want other men, even “wounded” soldiers*, to join in that “triumphal procession.

* See: Rescuing a Brother, Dec. 21, 2020

January 23, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the weekend! Our apartment is full of aroma as I made 2 Mexican pies and a pot of chili. Also, cleaned today and hope to go through some papers to get rid of. We had an enjoyable afternoon with friends yesterday. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Our whole lives belong to the Lord! Everything we do during the day has purpose when we live for Him. There isn’t a division between what is spiritual and what is secular, for whatever we do we are to do it as unto the Lord. That makes even our mundane ordinary days bright with joy and promise. Since dealing with COVID, our lives have all changed and for many it means less meetings or going into work and more time at home.  For some it may mean no long commutes to the office and having more   time to spend with the Lord first thing in the morning. Rather than stressing to find time to sandwich in a Bible Study in a busy week, we now look forward to Bible study and getting out to be with others in fellowship.  (and social distancing of course) Hopefully we have grown during this time and have learned to love others with differing views, spent more time in prayer, and practiced turning the other cheek. And hopefully we have experienced what it means to give all our cares to Him and not be anxious and full of worry. May we also have learned how important to leave room if the Lord should change our schedule and interrupt our plans, for we can be assured He has something greater that may be happening behind the scenes that we cannot see. Then as we look back at the end of the day, we may be in awe as to how the Lord worked out things to accomplish something greater for His kingdom. We must remember that every day is the Lord’s when we belong to Him and it says in Psalms 118:24(ESV), “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” There may be days we don’t feel like celebrating but we can tell Him how we feel and thank Him as He helps us to remember reasons to rejoice. Fred Hammond wrote a song based on this scripture and part of it goes, “No matter what comes next, I’m going to stand up and give Him praise ‘cause this is the day…. this is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made. I will rejoice, I will rejoice and be glad in it, glad in it.” Let us awaken with a song to sing to the One who gives us another day to praise Him.
Challenge for the day: Spend some time just praising the Lord for the many ways you have to rejoice in Him.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

January 22, 2021

Dear Ones, 
Happy weekend to you! It’s sunny out but quite cold today. Will see if we brave the cold and walk the trail later. This morning I baked two kinds of cookies and did some studying. This afternoon we have been invited to friends for coffee! Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Prayer is powerful and I wonder if we know what a difference our prayers can make. How often do we recite the Lord’s prayer or mumble some words at bedtime without realizing we are talking to the Creator of the universe. Sometimes the Lord lets us tangibly see the effects of our prayers in a dramatic way. Such was the case I read of in Ann Spangler’s devotional book as she shared about a specific instance in Fern Nichols life when she felt called to pray for her husband and their 10-year- old son. They were on a canoe trip with friends in Canada and Fern was led to intercede for them. She didn’t shrug off the need to pray but paid attention and for an hour prayed through scriptures of protection over them and also promises of God. Psalm 91:14 (NIV) stood out to her, “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.” That night Fern knew why she had prayed so fervently, as she got a call from her husband explaining their struggle he and their son had that afternoon. Their canoe capsized in raging waters of the Fraser River, and for an hour they and their friends were in the icy water. A helicopter finally rescued them and the paramedic told her husband that their son would have died from hypothermia had it been just 10 more minutes in the frigid water. Fern realized that the very time they were their fighting for their lives, was the same time she had been praying! Four people were saved through her prayers and how thankful she was she paid attention to the Spirit calling her to pray. Perhaps we can all think of instances when we have suddenly been led to stop and pray and later find out how the Lord intervened. When our son was in his teens, I was awakened to pray for him and later he shared how he had witnessed such a great power of evil and was able to get set free. We don’t always know the reasons we are to pray for someone or something but we need to respond. Paul told the Ephesian church to pray in the Spirit at all times and to stay alert and persist in prayers. Let us be faithful and persistent in prayer!
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to use you as a prayer warrior and respond to the Spirit when He prompts you.  
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

January 21, 2021

 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
It is good to remember when we go through stressful times such as unrest in our nation, COVID etc, that we are not alone. God is our helper! He is with us in our midst of whatever is happening. On Crosswalk.com., Julie Barrier wrote of how many of the hymns we know today were written by people of faith in the midst of troubles, wars, and plagues. When I read the stories of what the writers were experiencing at the time, I know the words will be even more meaningful when sung; they wrote about that which they knew and experienced. Pastor Martin Rinckart composed a song that we probably all know, and it was written in the midst of the Bubonic plague. Martin was the son of a poor coppersmith and became a Lutheran pastor sent to Eilenberg, Germany, which was a very small town ravaged by the Thirty Years War. He pastored there for 31 years under great hardship. The Swedish army set siege around their city wall and the whole town was overrun by refugees looking for a safe place. Shortly after, the Bubonic plague broke out and almost 5,000 died within a year. Food was scarce and many starving people showed up at his door. He could barely feed his own family and yet gave what he could away.  Pastor Rinckart took care of the sick and dying and was the only Pastor left to bury the dead, which included his own wife.  Sometimes he performed up to 50 funerals a day and but even in the midst of all this sorrow, he wrote the words to Now Thank We All Our God. You have most likely sung in in church too. The words are:

1.“Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

2.     Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And guard us through all ills in this world, till the next!

3.     All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven—
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heav’n adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.”

May we trust God whatever our circumstances, and even in the midst. give thanks.
Challenge for today: Spend some time thanking the Lord for where He has you right now.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

January 20,2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a good day and experiencing His peace. This morning I made bars and went to my exercise class. This afternoon we are going to a party for a little 14-year-old dog, Abby, and having Birthday cake. Then we go to the Soup Kitchen to serve. Oh, just got a call that our grandson is on his way so will put some S.F. pizza in the oven for him. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How often are we like little children that saucily talk back to someone who has been hurtful, hit someone who has socked first, or stomp on something that is valued because they did it to something of ours? But it only escalates things and often mom or dad has to come and referee and give time outs. But isn’t that what grownups are doing now, returning evil for evil? That is not God’s way as His way is exactly opposite of the world’s way of handling things. Darkness can’t drive out darkness and each one of us who know the Lord are to let our lights shine wherever we are. One candle in the darkness makes a difference. But today it seems like even Christians are responding no different than how the world reacts. We are to be lights, and to fight the battle in the spiritual realm. Jesus had to help his disciples understand that in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night Judas betrayed him. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter took out his sword and cut off the ear of the High priest’s servant. Jesus healed the man but he told Peter in Matt. 26:52 (The Message), “Put your sword back where it belongs. All who use swords are destroyed by swords.” He goes on to tell him that if he wanted, he could ask His Father to send more than 12 legions of angels to help him. Jesus lays it out quite clearly in the sermon on the Mount of how we should respond. He said in Luke 6, “I tell you, love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person …If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff.  Live generously…Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never –I promise– regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.”  Let us pray and seek the Lord that we may respond Jesus way. It is His love that will drive out the hate and bring peace.
Challenge for today: Spend some time reading the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)  and ask God to bring change to your heart where needed.
Blessings on your day and prayers for our nation  and love, Judy

January 19, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this day and experiencing His peace. I made choc chip cookies on a stick this morning and took down for our coffee time, as they have been asking for them latelyEmoji! I made starch free pizzas that we had for lunch, but I can’t say they as yummy as  regular pizza. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How do we discern what the Lord is up to in our lives? We all want to make good decisions but although some decisions may seem easy to make, it is not just about deciding with our intellect but to know what God is saying. Our false self wants to get in the way so we need to also listen with our heart and gut as well as our mind. I pray often for discernment as decisions need to be made and I seek to know how God is leading. There are times something doesn’t just feel right; even though I may not know why, my spirit is saying no. At such times, I like to wait and pray and ask for discernment. Sometimes we need input from others and God can give us spiritual directors that help us sort out things. It could be your pastor, a spiritual friend, and for Al and I, it is our spouse. We have a good friend who has taken Spiritual Direction classes and is called to be a spiritual director. She seems to know just the right questions to ask and listens well. Just recently her husband who is in his 80’s, has gone to his Pastor for spiritual direction and we are never too old to do that. A Spiritual director does not tell us what to do but they listen without judgment, ask questions and in the process we are helped to discern and to get in touch with what is underneath and identify our motivations. There are times the spiritual director may share their own experience but the focus is mostly on the directee. They are much like a sounding board. Sometimes the questions asked just help us become aware of what God is wanting to do in our life. When Al and I go on our walk each afternoon, we ask each other questions and try to help one another listen to the Lord. One question that Thomas Merton use to ask young novices, “What do you really want out of life? What’s stopping you from getting that?” Those are questions we need to ponder as we discover God’s call on our lives and grow in awareness of His presence. I know I desire to spend time in His presence and to recognize Him in every day events. Sometimes it is good to pause in what is happening and savor that moment, knowing He is present. I did that when I was with my former Bible Study group and went home feeling so blessed. God gives us deep desires and we need to pay attention. He has put within each of us all the gifts we need to pursue those dreams. When we are constantly on our phones and on social media, we can miss what God is up to in our lives. Let take time to stop, look, and listen throughout our day and respond to His grace.
Challenge for today: Ponder what God is up to in your life.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

January 18, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful weekend. It is a special day today as it is our daughter’s birthday. We plan to celebrate this afternoon as I have a big chocolate cake made with 14 eggs in it! No flour!  This morning I made porkchops smothered with apples and went to Aldi’s and my exercise class. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Have you ever been really really thirsty? I mean where you felt parched and longed for a cup of cold water? I remember once when Al and I were in the mountains and away from any source of food and water. We went to ghost towns and out of the way places and there were no McDonalds or any kind of a campground faucets. I was so thirsty in the hot sun and came home with a bad headache. I needed water and couldn’t find it as we were not in the right places to find any. But more sobering is our spiritual thirst that cannot be quenched by things of this world. It can only be satisfied in an intimate relationship with the Lord. Until that happens, we all have restless hearts that are dissatisfied. I am reading Gerald Sittser’s book, “Water from a Deep Well”, and he writes about the lives of saints. They are remembered for their faith like St Augustine who lived in AD 354-43. When he was a teen, he left the faith of his mother and indulged in all sorts of wild fleshly pleasures. But they didn’t satisfy and he later surrendered to the Lord and confessed, “God must always be first in our lives because God is the center, source and end of all existence.” Professor Sittser also writes about the martyrs who didn’t hesitate to pay the ultimate price of their lives by confessing Christ. They knew that life in this world is not the most important life there is but what is yet to come. One such martyr was Perpetua, who was young, married mother to a new born and imprisoned because of her faith. When she was marched to the amphitheater for her death, she was calm and radiant and sang a hymn, knowing she would soon be ushered into glory. But even those back then who despised Christianity admitted that Christians obeyed the laws, took care of their families well, blessed others even when persecuted, did good, took care of the poor, and showed love to all no matter their status. We know today that Christians are dying for their faith all over the world . Some disappear in the night and others are beheaded. Martyrdom is not a choice but a calling and a gift that God gives only to some and is a witness to His grace. People in our country may lose their jobs for Christ, but very few have lost their lives. But let none of us be silent about our faith but share it with those who are parched and thirsty and need the Living Water! May streams of living water flow from within us. (John 7:38)
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord for holy boldness to share Him with others He brings into your life.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

Those Super Bowl Ads

I watch Super Bowl ads to better understand the mood of our nation.  Some of the best minds in advertising have been hired to analyze the national mindset – with the intent to manipulate our purchasing behavior. This year the consensus seems to favor the need for relief.  If the ads have their intended effect, you will come away with a happy, positive attitude.  It’s “let the good times roll” and “cast your cares away.”  

Ad agency executives sense the country is looking for a reprieve from its problems, including the surging coronavirus, an uncertain economy, and political divisiveness. Susan Credle, FCB’s Chief Creative Officer, notes, “People want to laugh and they want to feel normal again.” Sarah Long of Mars Wrigley believes people “want to smile, they want to be positive.”  

In recent years ads have tackled heavy issues like cyberbullying, domestic violence, and gender stereotyping. This year the ads will pay little attention to the pandemic because people have been bombarded with “stay safe” or “we’ll all in this together.”  “Every marketer is being very careful right now because of all the tumultuous events around the world,” observed John Patroulis of WPP PLC’s Grey. “You don’t want your ad to be misconstrued or be controversial,” he added.

I must admit the ads in these last few years have been much easier on the male ego, since culture seems to have accepted the idea of “toxic masculinity.”  As you watch the ads and enjoy the game, however, my suggestion would be: think the opposite. The ads tell us to avoid our pain; I say, “Stand in the pain.”  See yourself as “a wounded healer.” 

First, Super Bowl ads can tell us something about life but they cannot deliver the “Good News.”  It’s all make-believe.  Ads only touch the surface of our lives; they are like bandages trying to hide the wounds of broken hearts and wounded souls.  Our nation needs deep soul care. We desperately need Jesus the gentle healer. “… It was our pains he carried – our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us… it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him – our sins! (Is. 53:4-5 MSG). There is a place to go with pain. Bring it to Jesus. Only he can truly heal the hurting heart.   

Secondly, the ad industry might discern the state of our nation better than the Church. But it only covers up the pain. If we are to bring healing to our fractured nation, we need to address the wounds of the heart. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps 34:18). 

Thirdly, don’t use ads as an excuse to escape from reality.  We are to stand in the pain as men in our ordained places as husbands and fathers. The enemy wants to take us out. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).  But we are called to stand in the gap.  “I looked for a man… [to] stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none” (Ez. 22:30).   

Fourthly, deliberately make fun of the ads, knowing they are in conflict with your spirit.  They accentuate our struggles, warring against our spirit. “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other…” (Gal 5:16-17).

January 16, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the weekend. No more snow here for now.Emoji This morning I wrote letters, made egg dishes and went  went to church  for our Women’s Bible study. We had a good turnout and good discussion and study. We are getting 2 free meals today and should be arriving any minute! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
As a child, I memorized, along with my siblings, the scripture verse from Heb. 4:12, only I will quote it to you from the Message translation. “God means what He says. What He says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey.” My mom, by example, taught us how important it is to be in the Word and let it speak to us. Like most of you reading my daily devotionals, we have many Bibles in our house of various translations. I use several different ones each day so that what is old and familiar will make new to me what the Lord is saying to me now. It is important to not just read scripture but make it our own. They are not just words but a true story of our sinful condition and God’s remedy. We find stories of so many heroes that had flaws and yet God used them to bring healing or even save a nation. It gives us all hope of what God can do through us if we are open and willing and how He forgives our past. I think of the apostle Paul and how he persecuted Christians and put them to death; and then when receiving the Lord, he was used of God to bring so many into His kingdom. It is most important not only that we just read the Word but that we apply it to our lives. It is a really more like learning to listen to what the Word is saying to us and asking how it impacts our lives. How do I need to change? It is also important to hear the Word preached as we go to church and along with others, listen to what is being said. We shouldn’t be ho-hum about this but expect that God has a specific word for us. Maybe not every Sunday, but there are times that God’s word seems to hit our exact need and it’s like He is directly speaking to our hearts. Some people have accused Al of preaching about them, as if he knows some secret in their lives. We may not have a fiery profound preacher but if he is basing his sermon on the Word, we can expect that God will have something to say to us. We should take that word given us and apply it to our everyday life. It is also good to memorize scripture as it seems to become part of us and to feed us, especially in situations when we need a word from God right then. One young dating couple we know are memorizing scriptures together and what a wonderful way to be drawn together in the Spirit. This week our pastor asked us to read the book of Judges and I wonder what God will have to say to me through it.
Challenge for today: Read a portion of scripture and really listen to what God is saying personally to you
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy
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