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 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

January 15, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy Weekend to you! The snow has quit and left us with a beautiful white landscape. This morning I cleaned our apartment and made a pot of stew and cinnamon raisin bread. The house is full of wonderful aroma!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Sound the alarm! I still remember in grade school when a teacher asked me what I would do if there was a fire. I responded with saying I would go in the hall and break the glass and push the alarm button and he said, “Do it now!” I did what I was told and fortunately it was just a drill but if it had been a fire, it would have been the quickest way to evacuate the school. We also have alarms that go off in our Apartment complex and make a great deal of noise, like early one morning. Al and I were awake but most people here were sleeping in. We dressed and went downstairs where some others were gathered until we got the all clear. Today the alarm is sounding for the church to wake up from our spiritual slumber. It seems that the enemy wants to hush the voice of the church who stands for God’s truth and love. The church has compromised in a variety of ways to the culture and many have chosen to just sit on the sidelines and be silent. Sadly, we have become lukewarm and passive and neglected the calling God has given us. But can you now hear the alarm sounding for the church to wake up from its slumber and complacency and become bold witnesses and warriors?  I believe that this time of unrest and chaos can be used to strengthen the church if we heed the alarm. We are being called together which may take the form of small groups meeting in homes where we discern with others what God is saying. Just like it was comforting to gather with others in the early morning hour here at our apt, we can be strengthened as we gather to hear what God is calling us to do and not waver. But we can’t just play church but we must rise up and be the church that Jesus loves and gave His life for. I think it is time for us to be on our knees and to seek His forgiveness for how we have strayed, compromised and become lukewarm. We have to decide and choose who we really want to serve and then point others to the way. As the apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian church in Eph. 1 (The Message), may it also be a prayer for us, “to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing Him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is He is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for His followers, oh, the utter extravagance of His work in us who trust Him—endless energy, boundless strength!..,at the center of all this, Christ rules the church!” May we refuse to be silent and let our voices be heard and actions express our love for the Lord. Let us wake up and become the church!
Challenge for today: Join with others and discerningly pray for the church to become focused and strong.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy
 

 

January 14, 2021

 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Forgiveness is not always easy and we sometimes need reminders of Jesus words to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Perhaps one of the hardest things to forgive may be the betrayal of a secret affair of a mate who is later found out. I was reading an article in Just Between Us magazine by Lysa Terkeurst, who has experienced that pain and shares about how forgiveness is like a double-edged word, and often seems impossible. Her heart was shattered and yet she has lived out forgiveness over time and warns us to never refuse to give forgiveness. If we harbor hurt and hang on, a hardness forms in our own hearts. She said it isn’t that forgiveness hinges on our efforts as we grit our teeth, but rather something to participate in so that His grace can actually flow through us. That means we have to lean into what Jesus has already done and cooperate with His work of forgiveness in both giving it and receiving it. Of course, it is much easier to experience God’s forgiveness to us but it doesn’t stop there, we need to forgive others.  Yes, we have all been hurt and we have hurt others also.  If we don’t forgive, our hearts get calloused and bitter. In Eph. 4:32 (The Message), Paul says, “Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” When we pray the Lord’s prayer we pray, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” God forgives us because of His great mercy and we are to pass it on to others. Just think that Jesus forgave those who spit on him, betrayed him, whipped him, crucified him etc. + We are to forgive freely as we have been forgiven. Let us not make excuses, but quickly ask forgiveness of the Lord and also of one another.  I read about Lysa at the close of her article, and she is the mother of 5, NY Times bestselling author, head of Proverbs 31 Ministries etc.; it leads me to believe God has healed her heart.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord if there are people in your life you haven’t forgiven and forgive from your heart.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

 

January 13, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a good day! I am getting my exercise in today as I cleaned all the blinds in our apartment, went to my fitness class and later Al and I will go for our walk. Al had the Band of Brothers this morning at church and went well.
Devotions from Judy’s heart,
It’s good for all of us to have a healthy rhythm to live by. Monasteries have a beautiful rhythm that alternates between work and prayer. We can learn from them as prayer can quiet us and centers us in the Lord, and work energizes us to make a difference in the world. Al and I have taken silent retreats at monasteries and we love to enter into the rhythm they live by. We can all get so caught up in our world that emphasizes work but neglects the important part of prayer. Jesus followed a rhythm as he would be ministering to people and healing the sick, but He also took time to go apart to pray. In Luke 6:12 (Amplified) it says, “He went up into a mountain to pray, and spent the whole night in prayer to God.” The next day he chose His disciples and when they came down from the mountain crowds gathered to be healed. If Jesus went apart to pray, how much more do we need to. Without prayer, our daily lives of work can become empty and be self-serving and even become an idol; many try to go from one thing to another with busy schedules so as to gain power and prestige. But when prayer is neglected, we lose focus and have no purpose. Then when we add prayer and dependency on the Lord, it gives value and eternal significance to our day. Some might wonder how can I add more to my busy day by adding prayer? But maybe we have that backwards and should plan our work around our times of prayer. We can get up a little earlier to pray for the day, adjust our schedules to His, and read scripture.  If we are having lunch with other Christians, we can pray together for needs of our work place. Or we can pause briefly during the day to pray for our family and those around us with whom we work. And on Sunday we can gather with others to worship but also take time to rest and play and get refreshed. When Monday rolls around we will find we are much more ready to work and the rhythm begins again. At bedtime it is also good to review our day to see how we did in being mindful of the Lord and shining our lights at work and helping others. Let us not be lopsided Christians that work only at the expense of prayer; let us instead have a wonderful rhythm of both.
Challenge for today: Spend some time accessing your rhythm and be willing to change where is  needed.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

January 12, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying your day and keep focused on the Lord. This morning I baked cookies and went to a strength building class and hope I won’t be sore later.Emoji We are blessed with another beautiful day and love to get out on the trail to walk.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Isn’t it wonderful to find a place of quiet peace when we are stressed or overcome by the fitful noise of the world? I smile when I hear of moms who have young children and so tired of their squabbling that they lock themselves in the bathroom to get a few moments of quiet. It’s like putting themselves in timeout so they get some peace. But there is a better way and like an old song goes, “There is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God…There is a place of full release, near to the heart of God, a place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.” We all need a place to go in this day of so much turmoil, when the news is given to cause fear, hate and a desire to get even, and leave people confused. The anxiety level is high as seen in the continual posts on Facebook. But our hope is not in this world, but in the Lord. That’s not to say we won’t suffer and that hard times aren’t coming but we can have peace even in the midst. Many of you have probably read what a pastor in China said some time ago to the believers in America. The Christians in China have been praying for God to bring persecution to America to filter the world and lukewarmness out of the hearts of His people. The church in China is very strong because of what they are willing to go through for their faith. Are we willing to stand for the Lord no matter what the cost? We must place our faith and hope in the Lord and not in any political process, but in the person of Jesus. In Psalm 118:8 (ESV) the Psalmist said, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” The Lord is unchanging in our changing world and He will always, always, be there for us and give us strength to go through whatever is sent. Let us not get down and lose courage but fix our eyes on the Lord. The Psalmist must have been felt down and overwhelmed for he says in Psalm 42 that his soul is discouraged and he feels God has forgotten him. But then he closes the Psalm in verse 11 (God’s Word) as he remembers that God is all he needs and says, “Put your hope in God, because I will still praise Him. He is my Savior and my God.” Let us live and walk in hope and peace and not be overcome by the world!
Challenge for today: Spend time thanking the Lord for the hope we have in Him and keep focused.
Blessings on  your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

January 11, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a peace-filled weekend. This morning I made a Starch free cake and went to Aldi’s and then to my exercise class. This afternoon we are going to Costco and other errands before our walk in this gorgeous weather. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Perhaps more than ever before we long for peace, not just in our world but peace within ourselves. Jesus has promised His peace that is not dependent on circumstances but found by trusting Him. He said in John 14:27 (God’s Word), “I’m leaving you peace. I don’t give you the kind of peace that the world gives. So don’t be troubled or cowardly.” The peace Jesus gives is a gift the world cannot give us. The Message says, “This is my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re use to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.” No, real  peace is from above and available to us as His followers. I was reading from Ann Spangler’s one year devotional and she writes of the Hebrew word for peace, Shalom. It has the meaning of calm, wholeness, wellness, harmony, perfection, safety, completeness, soundness etc. Doesn’t that sound beautiful, especially in our chaotic world right now? How we need shalom and we can have that within, even when the world is full of so much evil. God sent Jesus who sacrificed His life so that we can come to know real peace. He is our peace and when we know Him we can experience peace that is not dependent on what is happening around us. We can ask Him to help us show others as well, the things that make for true peace. Ann quotes Etty Hillesum, who I have written about before; she is the woman who died in a Nazi death camp during World War II. She wrote, “Ultimately, we have just one moral duty; to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world.” Think of Ann in a death camp and yet had peace in the most adverse circumstance because she had His peace within. In this time of chaos, God’s children should be not be anxious and go about the day full of fear, but rather be lights showing the way to claim His peace in the darkness. We don’t know what is going to happen next, but we do know that God is in control and He is certainly worthy of our trust. The Lord is our light and salvation, we have nothing to fear.
Challenge for today: Memorize Psalm 27:1and carry it in your heart in fearful times. 
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

The Fury of the Fatherless

Mary Eberstadt is a sociologist who studies faith and family. She wrote recently in First Things, “… Summer 2020 signals something new.  The triply disenfranchised children of the West have achieved critical mass.  They have slipped the surly bonds of their atomized childhoods; they have found their fellow raging sufferers and formed online families; and they have burst as a destructive force onto the national consciousness en masse, left and right, as never before.”  

Like me, many of you may wonder why so many young men expressed such anger last summer with their rhetoric and destruction of property.  I often ask whether this might be due to absentee fathers. 

Eberstadt notes, “The riots amount to social dysfunction on parade. Six decades of social science have established that the most efficient way to increase dysfunction is to increase fatherlessness.”  I continually maintain in this blog the importance of fathers and their commitment to their families.  The real issue in culture as I learned years ago from Derek Prince is “renegade fathers.” 

Eberstadt believes the riots are a “frantic flight to collective political identities” that have primordial origins.  Rioting shows in part the “invisible crisis of Western paternity.” When the family has no father, a vacuum is created in which lost young men seek family substitutes. Quoting a study by the Minnesota Psychological Association, “A high percentage of gang members come from father-absent homes…possibly resulting from a need for a sense of belonging…the gang leader may fill the role of father.”

The problem of fatherless young men finding identity in gang families is not going to disappear.  More angry and lost young men are going to find their way into these gang-families.  “They have been left alone in a cosmos with nothing to guide them, not even a firm grip of what constitutes their basic humanity, and no means of finding the way home” (Deborah Savage).  Eberstadt warns, “The dispossessed children who roam the streets in search of yet more destruction…will not go away until the crisis that has unhinged them and severed them from their own is ameliorated.” 

So, what can we anticipate in the coming days?  I believe there will be more riots.  We will see young angry, disinherited men on the streets expressing their anger at our culture.  What does this mean for the reader of this blog?  Here are some suggestions:

First, give priority to the kingdom of God, in which parents hold an honored place.  The fourth commandment tells us to honor your father and mother.  There is this promise added, “so that you may live long and that it may go well with you…” (Deut. 5:16).  Proverbs 20:20 gives us a warning, “If a man curses his father and mother, his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.”  Honor your own parents for the role they played (or continue to play) in your life.

Second, be a godly man.  We cannot alleviate fatherlessness in our nation.  But we can be examples of godly men who live out godly parenting. We not only honor those placed above us, but also seek to be servant-leaders in our sphere of influence. 

Third, commit to pass on a healthy paternal principle to the next generation.  Find a fatherless young man to mentor… Be an involved dad… Read and discuss Mary Eberstadt’s article… This blog is one man’s attempt to be a voice speaking to the curse of fatherlessness in our culture. 

Fourth, remember that God opposes the proud (those opposed to authority), but gives his grace to the humble (I Peter 5:5).  May we all be men under authority.    

 

January 9, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a good weekend. This morning I cleaned our apartment and made Beef Stroganoff  and took a friend here to the Dollar Store. Another mild day and lovely for a walk. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How many of us accept suffering as a gift? Really a gift? I’m sure we don’t seek suffering but when it comes our way, do we embrace what it has to teach us or do we quickly try to escape. Most of us would say we like comfort and we are being manipulated today by our love for pleasure and fear of discomfort. It is one of the enemies lies to promise us a life without suffering or any kind of discomfort. Jesus never said that His followers would not suffer and says in Matt. 5:11-12a (ESV), “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for our reward is great in heaven.” God can teach us many things through times of suffering if we are open to its lessons. In Rod Dreher’s book, he said that Jesus doesn’t want admirers but followers. Admirers play it safe and don’t want to make sacrifices but followers want to be like Him and willing to pay the cost, no matter what. It is almost hard to read the accounts of those who have paid the ultimate price. When we think of life under communism, people sent to prison were never returned, children were taken away from parents because of their faith, others endured terrible torture.  Maria Wittner is a national hero for fighting the Soviets when they invaded Hungary. She was a teenager and was arrested and sentenced to death row. Every day there were hangings and miraculously God spared her life. She tells us that if our soul is free there is nothing they can do to us. In the end those who are afraid end up worse than the courageous. Our suffering can have purpose even if we are not aware at the time. It can deepen our love for God and for others, teach us patience and kindness, and help us sense true meaning in life. Suffering refines us and also helps us join with others who have grief, for we understand and know that God is enough.  But we must refuse hatred and leave vengeance up to the Lord. We will live most freely when we bear suffering and pain for Jesus, and do not run from it but accept it as God’s severe mercy. Let us live in truth no matter what the cost.
Challenge for today: Embrace suffering as a friend and as a gift that has things to teach you.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
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