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.

The Babylon Bee

My temperament is that of an extroverted, sanguine male.  Because I’m also intuitive, I often feel on the outside looking in when it comes to male camaraderie.  Yet God, by his grace and mercy, has allowed me to feel secure in my maleness even in the company of men very different from me.  In fact, I have found that joshing and joking with men has given me an inside track into their lives. 

I say this just as a segue to expressing my appreciation for The Babylon Bee: “Your Trusted Source for Christian News Satire.”  The Babylon Bee “was created ex nihilo on the eighth day of creation week, exactly 6.000 years ago.  We have been the premier news source through every major world event, from the Tower of Babel and the Exodus to the Reformation and the War of 1812.  We focus on just the facts, leaving spin and bias to other news sites like CNN and Fox News.”

Men, when we can no longer laugh at life, nor get along with people who think differently than we do, we are in trouble.  Many of the leading comedians of our time admit it is harder to do standup comedy today, because people are too easily offended.  This is not good for our emotional and even spiritual health. 

Because of this, I release you as a man to joke, poke fun, and josh with other men. When the people of Israel came back from captivity in Babylonian, Psalm 126:2 tells us, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.”  When we can no longer laugh at ourselves and enjoy good, clean joshing as men, we are still slaves in captivity.  Men, in Christ we can live in freedom and joy. 

I write about The Babylon Bee for two reasons.  First, I recommend their website to you if you have not already discovered it.  You will be surprised at the insight they provide into our culture through satire.  Second, I want to point out how they are in the crosshairs of the popular media. It only shows how oversensitive we have become to opposing positions.  When satire is misconstrued, then we are in real trouble as a culture.

Recently The Babylon Bee was able to force the New York Times to remove its defamatory characterization of The Bee as trafficking misinformation and fake news.  However, the battle against The Bee continues: recently Facebook announced it would be moderating satire to make sure it doesn’t “punch down.”  Essentially, Facebook posits that it can judge what qualifies as “true satire” – which also means it can judge jokes that “punch down” to be hatred disguised as satire.  

Seth Dillon, CEO of The Babylon Bee, noted: “Having failed in their effort to lump us in with fake news, the media and Big Tech… now hope to discredit us by saying we’re spreading hatred – rather than misinformation – under the guise of satire.”

I appreciate how Dillion responded to the attacks on The Bee.  “But we’re not ‘punching down.’ We’re punching back.  Conservatives have been on the ropes in the culture war for a long time… the left’s new prohibition of “punching down” is speech suppression in disguise.  It’s people in positions of power protecting their interests by telling you what you can and cannot joke about.” 

Men, I encourage you to use satire to lighten your load.  It seems like we can no longer laugh.  Remember the people of Israel when they came back to Zion: “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” (Ps 126:2).

September 25, 2021

Dear Ones,

Hope you are enjoying the weekend. We are having such fun here in N.C and playing games with the grandkids is helping us feel young! (or maybe old!) We played lots of outdoor games yesterday and this morning have some indoor ones as well. They have a stream flowing through their land so we plan to spend some time helping in the clean up near the water. So  beautiful here.  Please pray for our friend Marlene who fell and broke her hip and will be having surgery at 10:30 this morning.

Devotions from Judy’s heart

I love the word GRACE and everything about it! It is so wonderful to know that we are loved by God, not because we do everything right, but because of who He is. Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve. It is a gift as it says in Eph. 2:8 (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.”

It brings a song to mind that was written by Julia Johnson in 1910 and put to music by Daniel Towner. It begins with:“Marvelous grace of our loving Lord/ Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt, /Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured/There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt/ Grace, grace, God’s grace/Grace that will pardon and cleanse within/Grace, grace, God’s grace/Grace that is greater than all our sin.” It doesn’t matter what we have done in our past, God will forgive us if we humbly ask. I’m sure we all can think of many things that we wish we had never done; but no matter what they are, it will never exceed God’s grace to us! Just think of how great that is!

Years ago, I read Philip Yancey’s book, What’s so amazing About Grace? Yancy was interviewed recently and he said that the message of grace is so important right now as we are so divided in our country. But even though we may disagree with others on issues we can still show love and be dispensers of grace, remembering that we have received grace. It is possible to hold our values without compromise, while not condoning others with contrary beliefs, yet do it in a grace-filled way. Listening to others can help us see where they are coming from and expand our outlook on things, rather than just trying to win an argument. We must especially practice grace within our families and continually ask ourselves what do we need to forgive.Yancey describes a picture of God’s grace like that of a mountain stream that begins on a high mountain peak. But the stream always flows to the lowest part and touches the poor, the disabled, the prodigals and all of us that are undeserving.Let us always be amazed by His grace and then let it flow out from us to others.

Challenge for today: Share His grace with all who touch your life.

Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

September 24, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy beautiful fall weekend! We got to Mark’s yesterday afternoon and in time to go to John Mark’s soccer game. He played well but team lost. Emoji We enjoyed time with the family and Andrea’s folks came for supper also. We got to see their home within Mark’s house that is beautiful. The whole house is lovely and so spacious and Andrea will have a ball entertaining! Today Al and Mark are going to Panera’s and then all four of us are going out for lunch while kids are in school. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Do we sometimes get bored with our daily routine and think we are not doing much for God? I was reading about what Karl Rahner, a theologian and prolific writer, wrote about in his book, Encounters with Silence. He notices that his life is so full of trivialities and doesn’t seem to have a lot of eternal value. Like many of us, we have many conversations with others that often seem empty, and activities that also seem pointless and we wonder if it has importance in the light of eternity. Karl is so honest with God and wants all his daily activities to lead him closer to the Lord.  Maybe like him, we do the same routines over again and get so busy with the everyday things that we lose sight of the Lord and forget about Him. In many ways we end up feeling robbed of closeness to God and that doesn’t need to be.
 Karl comes to the conclusion that he can find God in every place and in each and every thing he does during the day. Whether his days were filled with work or rest, he could experience God and seek Him in both times.  Likewise, in the unremarkable ordinary things we may do during the day, we can experience what is most important, seeking the Lord and spending the day together.
God comes to all of us directly and indirectly and we can enjoy His presence when we are busy serving Him or even as we are doing the mundane routine things.
Every day should be the Lord’s day! In everything we do, in the middle of our tasks, He is there beside us, and our work will not be meaningless. He meets us right where we are and He will show us if we start veering off.
Like David, we can pray as he did in Psalm 16:11 (ESV), “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures for evermore.” As we invite God into our day and ask Him to show us the path He has for us, we will enjoy His presence; even our routine activities can bring us closer to Him.
Challenge for today: Give your ordinary day to the Lord and let Him fill it with the grace of His love.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

 

September 23, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you will enjoy a peace filled day! We are in Knoxville, TN and soon going to leave for Statesville, N.C. to see Mark’s family and their new house. We want to get there in time to unpack and go to John Mark’s soccer game which is an hour away. Excited! Yesterday we went to Gethsemini Monastery in Kentucky, situated among the rolling hills, and shopped in their bookstore. We got to Knoxville for an early supper at Cracker Barrel before a nice swim and walk. Lots of traffic and always thankful when we get to our motel! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
What is our number one priority in life?  Is it our desire to know God in a deeper way? Augustine said we are defined by what we desire; if it is not God, we get bogged down by lesser things.  Our desires influence all the choices we make each day, how we spend our time, our money, our influence etc. But why do we spin our wheels and get distracted by other things? St. Benedict use to ask candidates for the monastic life, “What are you seeking?” What might we also ask ourselves, what is our deepest desire?  We are in this world for such a short time and when we know the Lord, each day can be a day that draws us closer to the One who we will spend eternity with.
If knowing God is our deepest desire, we will prioritize our time to be able to spend time with Him in reading the Word, listening to Him in silence, worshiping Him, helping others, and enjoying fellowship with others in the family of God. King David says in Psalm 63:1 (ESV), “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is not water.” This is a time to know Him in deeper ways as it seems to be getting darker in our culture with stormy times upon us. I read today how fisherman notice that fish feed more aggressively before a storm. Also, that sharks seem to have a sixth sense and when a hurricane is coming, they tend to swim deeper. Isn’t that what we need to do? To spiritually go deeper and feed on His promises for the stormy days ahead. King Solomon said in Prov. 10:24-25, “What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted. When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.”
Let us go deeper with the Lord as we face whatever comes upon us in the future; for we can only stand in the strength and power that He gives us.
Challenge for today: Spend some time considering your priorities and write down what you are seeking most of all.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

September 22, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope your day is full of sunshine! It is raining here in Elizabethtown, KY and predicted for the next couple days. We had a restful night and I got a nice swim in when we arrived here. It was later than planned as we were in bumper to bumper traffic in Louisville.Emoji  Soon we are going to head to Gethsemini Monastery before continuing on with our trip to N.C. Thank you for prayers for our journey. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Let us not ever forget that in the darkest times of our lives that God is right there with us. When we feel broken and alone, He is present and offers comfort and hope.
Ellie Holcomb, award-winning Christian singer released her latest album, Canyon, in which she shares how God meets us in those darkest times and brings healing. She personally went through a deep healing time from wounds of her past and then not long after, experienced effects of a tornado that hit her neighborhood, followed by lockdowns by COVID-19. But through those times of pain, she learned how to grieve and lament and experienced God’s tenderness.
Once COVID seemed to lessen, she and her husband took a trip to the Grand Canyon, where she was greatly inspired and a new album resulted. They camped on the riverbank of the Northern Rim of the canyon and rafted out from there. The guide they had told of how creation declares God’s glory and also rehearsed the story of the canyon walls made from of the landslides, mudslides, earthquakes and volcanoes with the huge divide in the middle. But in the depths of the canyon there is a river that runs through and Ellie said, “There is a current of God’s love that runs deeper than our deepest ache or sorrow that will carry us when it feels like we can’t carry on any longer. It will carry us back to the place where we know and can remember that even when we’re broken, we’re beloved, and we have a place where we belong. It’ll carry us to a place where we know that we belong to each other.”
The experience in the canyon left her feeling like God’s love was as big as the ocean for she personally experienced His presence in the midst of pain, and really knew God was right there with her. One night while camping she woke up and looked up to the sky. Because they were a mile into the surface of the earth, the darkness was so great but the stars seemed brighter and closer than ever. Just as her song Paradox says that God meets us in the darkest nights of our soul, the darker the night the brighter the stars shine!
Like Ellie, we all have dark times but as the Lord said to Moses, He says to us in Exodus 33:14   (ESV) “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Challenge for today: Let the river of His love flow through your deepest sorrows. 
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

September 21, 2021

Dear Ones,
May you wake up to a day of soaring  with peace! We are in Coralsville and will be leaving soon to get on the road again. We had good travel weather yesterday and a refreshing evening that you can read about. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Sometimes the Lord just wants us to enjoy Him and words don’t seem necessary for we simply rest in Him.  He reads even our thoughts and knows what is in our hearts.
When we arrived in Coralville late yesterday afternoon we went to our favorite motel and quickly unpacked and went on a long winding walk in the woods that bordered a small stream. Al and I talked together as we walked along and when we got back to the motel, I swam by myself in the pool that looked out on the woods and sky. My heart was so full and I found myself so thankful to the Lord for the beauty on our trip of the autumn colors, and his protection as He watched over us on our journey. As I swam, I noticed the clouds were not ones I normally have seen but looked like angel wings, many of them so delicate and beautiful. I know the Bible says we have ministering angels and that is a comforting thought. I was pondering what the Lord may be saying to me and remembered that I had gotten that morning Psalm 91; I recalled verse 4 as the Psalmist said, “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge.”  But that was not all, for then all of a sudden, I saw an eagle soaring high up in the sky. It was a majestic sight and one that made me feel so carefree in my spirit. Wouldn’t we all like to be like that eagle, that seemingly without effort, just soars about as we trust the Lord for all things?
The Lord said in Isaiah 40:31 (ESV), “But they that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” 
May we not get earth bound with all our concerns but wait for the Lord and get our strength from Him.
You may also know the familiar song,
  “And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
   Bear you on the breath of dawn.
   Make you to shine like the sunAnd hold you in the palm of His hand.”
 
Challenge for today: Give the Lord all that concerns you and soar, soar, soar!
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

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
« Older posts

© 2021 Canaan's Rest

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑