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.

November 28, 2020

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend to you! It’s another beautifully sunny day and we are seeing quite a few people on our walks. This morning I made a big pot of chili and we saw the mass of Christian Burial from St. Michael’s for my aunt who died. It was a beautiful service and so honoring of her life lived for the Lord and others. Tomorrow we will all zoom and share our special remembrances of her as she touched so many of our lives. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
There seems to be a big shift that takes place right after Thanksgiving when our thoughts go towards Christmas. Black Friday is advertised, decorations go up, cards are being addressed and a lot of frantic activity begins. For many the real meaning of Christmas is lost and Jesus is often pushed to the periphery when He is to really be the center of our celebration. That’s one reason why we need Advent, which begins tomorrow to help us prepare for His coming. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, that means visit or coming. We remember Jesus first coming as a baby but we also look ahead to His second coming as we anticipate that awesome day. There are things we can do to prepare our hearts and many churches help us recognize this special time in different ways. Al and I are in charge of the paraments at our church so we took down the green ones and put up deep blue paraments, the color of royalty, after the Thanksgiving service. We also set up the beautiful Advent wreath that is circular to represent God’s infinite love. The four candles set in evergreen branches are: The Prophecy candle for the prophets who predicted His coming; the Bethlehem candle for Mary and Joseph’s journey; the Shepherd’s candle for the joy of finding Jesus; and the Angels candle which represents peace. But the middle Christ candle is white for the One who brought light into our world. If we have small children at home having devotions around the Advent wreath and letting them light and extinguish the candles can help them grasp the true meaning of Christmas. Mark Roberts writes in “Welcome to Advent” suggestions of how to make Advent meaningful and shares Psalm 62:5 (God’s Word) “Wait calmly for God alone, my soul, because my hope is in Him.” We are reminded to wait and Advent is a time of preparation and reflection rather than constant activity and frantic shopping. Our world is such a mess at this time but we can wait in hope because Jesus came and because He  is coming again.
Challenge for today: Take time for quiet reflection and do preparations that help you take in the true meaning of Christmas.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

Father Knows Best

I write this on Thanksgiving Day.  My bride and I are alone in our apartment due to the coronavirus. But we are content since our lifestyle already resembles that of a “monk and nun” living a somewhat atypical monastic life.  Even so, we see that Thanksgiving has changed over the years. 

I happened upon an article about the old TV show “Father Knows Best.”  During Thanksgiving week in 1954, NBC aired the show, which ends with the Anderson family praying before their meal.  After the family gathers at the table, the father leads the family in prayer: 

“Oh Lord, we give thee thanks from the depths of our humble hearts for all the blessings thou hast seen fit to bestow upon us.  We thank thee for this food, which graces our table, the roof, which covers our head.

“We thank thee for the privilege of living as free men in a country which respects our freedom and our personal rights to worship and think and speak as we choose.

“We thank thee for making us a family, for giving us sincerity and understanding.

“But most of all, dear Lord, we thank thee for giving us the greatest gift a family may know – the gift of love for one another.  Amen.”

I was 13 years old when that episode aired.  It sure brings back a lot of memories of growing up in the 50’s.  As I reflect on the evolution of my blogging, I am aware of being a voice of remembrance: “Stand at the crossroads and look: ask for the ancient paths…” (Jer. 6:16).  

Having walked with the Lord for over 60 years, I pray my voice will bring a godly perspective. We desperately need “truth tellers” since much of the past is dismissed as irrelevant or too harmful to remember.

“Father Knows Best” highlights cultural changes our nation has experienced over the years.  I am deeply grateful that I came to faith in the early 60’s and met my future bride in those early days.  Jesus has been the center; Scripture has been our moral compass; and the Spirit of Christ has continually renewed us.  Praise God the center holds and the foundation is secure.  

What are some positive impressions from “Father Knows Best” that could to be integrated into life today?  There are many.  Here are a few,  knowing that the cultural narrative of our day is often hostile to both the Bible and the idea of the traditional family.

First, and foremost is the spiritual leadership of the father. Traditional Christian thought sees the father’s role as spiritual initiator, pointing his family to God, to acknowledging God’s presence in everyday life.  Men, start with being thankful and positive, giving your family a hope-filled future because of Jesus and his kingdom. Your role as father is critical: do your best to keep your family “heavenly minded.” 

Second, we need to be thankful to be part of a nation that “respects our freedom and our personal rights to worship and think and speak as we choose.”  Back in 1954 this was assumed.  In the coming days, men will be called to advocate and stand for religious liberty. Expect to face strong opposition.  Resolve to “stand.”  

Finally, we can thank the Lord for “the gift of love for one another.”  This is a gift God gives to each of us.  Keep your spirit open to receive.  Only then can we pass on the love of God.   I know – I have cried out for mercy often to be able to love beyond my ability to do so. 

 

      

 

November 27,2020

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Today is another sunny beautiful day and makes it enjoyable to walk the trail. This morning I made egg dishes and cleaned the apartment and finished decorating. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I woke early Thanksgiving morning and began remembering the many blessings that have poured down upon me throughout my life and gave thanks. I rehearsed in my mind of the evening before at our Thanksgiving service when Pastor gave time for people to go to upfront and share what they were most thankful for. It was not so much for the physical gifts given us that people spoke of, but mostly for what Jesus has done. One man said he disagreed with apostle Paul who said he was chief of sinners, for he felt like he was; he was so grateful for the gift of forgiveness. It is a most precious gift for we are all in need of forgiveness daily and Jesus paid a tremendous price for all those who are willing to confess their sins and seek His forgiveness. Since that is so, why do we hang on to our sins and refuse to give them up? Today, some pastors don’t even use the word sin, but instead shortcomings and mistakes; but the truth is we all sin throughout our day and need to let go of them in confession and experience forgiveness and cleansing. I remember when I was growing up that we had a clothes chute that went from a little door in the bathroom down to the basement into a closet where they could be taken out and washed. Whatever we put in the chute, we had to let go of; but every now and then, we went downstairs and retrieved something that we wanted to wear again before it got washed. Sometimes sins are much like that for we confess something we have done or said but then hang on to it with feelings of justification that maybe others were more at fault. It doesn’t matter who is most or least at fault for we have to let it go down the chute. When we humble ourselves and ask forgiveness of the Lord and others, we sense a lightness, cleanness, and freedom. In Prov. 28:13 (The Message), it says, “You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.” Let us abandon our sins and let go of them that we may receive mercy and forgiveness.
Challenge for today: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any sins you are hanging onto and let them go down the chute of forgiveness.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

November 26, 2020

Dear Ones,
Happy Thanksgiving and may this day overflow with praise in all of our hearts. We enjoyed the Thanksgiving service last night  and there is so much to be thankful for! We aren’t having the traditional Thanksgiving  dinner  today but rather steak, fruit salad with real whipped cream, roasted Brussels sprouts and squash, choc/almond pie etc. I hope to get out my Christmas decorations later if I don’t need too long of a nap after eating.Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
As Thanksgiving is now here how truly thankful are in our hearts? It’s easy to give thanks when things are going well; far harder to be thankful when we are going through difficult times. But we are told to give thanks to the Lord in all circumstances for He sees things from a divine perspective and will work together even those hard things for our growth.
I read a prayer on Crosswalk.com by Debbie Przybylski and may it be our prayer too.
“Lord, teach me to offer you a heart of thanksgiving and praise in all my daily experiences of life. I long to bring pleasure to Your heart daily. Break the power of the enemy in my life. Defeat him through my sacrifice of praise. Change my outlook and attitude into one of joyful contentment with my present circumstances. I thank You for… [Name a difficult circumstance in your life presently and thank God for it.]
Jesus, I want to be like You who obeyed the Father without complaint. You embraced the chains of humanity when You walked this earth. Convict me whenever I complain or compare myself with others. I know that Your truth dwells in a thankful heart.
I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens’ (Psalm 7:17-18:1). In Jesus’ Name, Amen.’”
Blessings on your Thanksgiving day and love, Judy
 
 

Novemeber 25, 2020

Dear Ones,
A blessed Thanksgiving whenever you celebrate. So many plans have been canceled but our hearts still give thanks to the Lord. I heard from Taylor today who many of you have prayed for and she and her boyfriend have COVID and quite sick. This morning I made a meatloaf for our lunch and a pie for tomorrow. This afternoon we have errands to do and also ice cream treat at Culver’s drive up. Tonight is the Thanksgiving service at church but no pie afterwards like years past.Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How do we care for our soul as well as our body? I get e-mails daily about health concerns and ways to detox and to take good care of our body etc. I was fascinated when Craig Groeschel wrote about Soul Detox and how important that is for all of us. Just as we wouldn’t knowingly physically swallow poison, why would we consume hazardous poison to our soul? Everything we allow into our minds has an impact on us and will affect our souls. It’s important to identify lies that we have grabbed hold of especially from our culture that lead us away from God; then we need to replace them with the truth of what God says. Just like our bodies need detoxing, we need to clean our thoughts of what is unhealthy and focus on how God sees things. Craig tells us to choose positive words that create and heal and avoid negative words that destroy. Sometimes we need to analyze words that others have said about us and ask God if they are true. It’s important to deal with our hidden sins and confess them to the Lord and seek forgiveness. If there is bitterness and unforgiveness we need to get rid of it for it is toxic to our souls. Envy of others has to also go, and instead of comparing, thank the Lord for what He has blessed us with. When anger bubbles up, we need to listen before responding and deal with anger productively, not destructively. If we are plagued with fear, we need to break free by trusting the Lord more deeply. Or if we are surrounded by toxic influences like unhealthy people, materialism, media etc. we need to separate from such things and spend time in ways that lead us back to the Lord. Just as it is Thanksgiving tomorrow, let us start today in giving thanks with grateful hearts. Let our mindset be on His goodness to us for as we do this it is as a cleansing flow through our souls. Like wise King Solomon said in Proverbs 3 (The Message), “Trust God from the bottom of your hearts…Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go…Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! “Challenge for today: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal toxic influences in your life and be willing to detox.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

November 24, 2020

Devotions from Judy’s heart
It seems there is so much fear in the hearts of many as we wonder if we could be next to get COVID, if our job will be eliminated, if we can pay the rent etc. Some cannot sleep at night with worry and if we allow ourselves to go down that road in our thinking, we will find it comes to a dead end. But like I read today the Psalmist asks in Psa.49, “Why should I fear in times of trouble?” If we know the Lord, we need to ask ourselves the question of why we should be afraid when the God of the universe who made us is able to care for us and see us through this crisis. In the next Psalm 50 the Psalmist begins by calling God the Mighty One, God the Lord, and in verses 14-15(ESV) says, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” We have an abundance of promises that can help us attack fear and not let it take over in our lives. Our strength is in the Lord and not in ourselves and during this time of the virus, we are seeing how our lives are in His hands and not our control. One friend e-mailed me that she is at peace during this Covid time. She had spent some time alone with the Lord and concluded that there were two possible outcomes. One that she might get the virus and recover or the other that she would go home to Jesus. She said that either way sounded like a “win” to her. She went on to say that she looked forward to the possibility of death, not necessarily with longing or any immediate desire, but knowing that her joy in the Lord would be complete. For all of us like the Psalmist we can offer to God the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. I am reminded of a chorus I learned years ago and a pastor recently had his congregation sing it over and over. “We bring the sacrifice of praise unto the House of the Lord. (4x) And we offer up to you the sacrifices of Thanksgiving; and we offer up to you the sacrifices of joy.” When we feel down and worrisome, then it is a sacrifice to praise the Lord; but we become that sacrifice if we do it anyway. Let us not give way to fear but offer a sacrifice of praise to Him who is worthy of our worship and praise.
Challenge for today: Spend some time just worshiping and praising the Lord and release your fears to Him.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
 

“Does it Matter”

I am a football fan, which means another season enduring ads trying to manipulate men in new, subconscious ways.  I notice some ads are beginning to make social statements. Rod Dreher calls this “woke capitalism.”  He maintains, “Woke capitalism is now the most transformative agent within the religion of social justice, because it unites progressive ideology with the most potent force in America: consumerism and making money.”

Men, be forewarned: you may be being manipulated by a woke capitalism that wants you to embrace the progressive social agenda, not because it means a better future for America, but because it is now mainstream and it sells.  And if you disagree, you may be on the wrong side of history.

Coors, for example, still wants to sell beer.  Beer is all about men, football and having a good time.  So the underlying message goes something like this: Men are willing to be made fun of, so long as they can just be who they are.  We can’t live up to today’s expectations of being a proper male.  So let’s just be boys… These ads can be very subtle. 

Case in point: one of the Coors beer (Made to Chill) ads.  Coors Light wants to be the official beer of the discontented male, and Coors tries to win over the male audience with a new appeal: “Chill Out”.  Two guys are settling down to watch football.  A guy asks his buddy, “Who’s playing?”  The answer, “Does it matter?”  To which the first guy replies, “Nope.”  Then this caption flashes on the scene.  “The official beer of who cares, it’s football.” 

What is the underlining message of this “Who Cares” ad?   Remember, a lot of psychological study goes into these ads.  Here is my take:  First, get men to laugh at themselves.  It fits the dominant narrative of the “dumb” male: uninvolved in the issues of the day; just wants to have a beer with his buddy.

Second,  this message reinforces the idea of “escape.”   The chaos, stress and confusion of life at the end of 2020 is too much for men.  They just want to have a place where life is normal.  This is watching football with your buddy.

Third,  the remark, “Does it matter?”  That is loaded with implications.  We are left to draw our own conclusions.  I take it to mean two guys have checked out on real life by escaping together into football. 

Fourth, and most damaging is the remark, “Nope!”  That is totally the stereotype of “toxic” masculinity.  Males in our culture have been told they have to be reeducated to know how to behave in our new “brave” world with its demands of feminine equality.  But men would rather “check out” of the drama of contemporary life.   

I could be wrong.  But that is my take.  My sadness is that many men subconsciously accept  the “I don’t care” message.  My suggestion is that you get your laugh from the ad and then take a look in the mirror.  

I know that I want to stay engaged, even at 79.  I ask God to give me a passion for his kingdom and a desire to understand what he is saying to America today.  I refuse to check out, just trying to survive…  

I am reminded and convicted by the words of Jesus to the church of Ephesus in Rev. 2:4-5, “But I have this complaint against you.  You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!  Look how far you have fallen. Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” 

 

 

November 23, 2020

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful weekend. The sun is shining and looks to be a beautiful day. One pastor suggested we have a Thanksgiving week and begin today making a Thanksgiving list by writing down things each day we are thankful for. I started mine and hope you will too. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I think we would all agree that the darkness is getting darker in our world right now. More than ever before we see evil blatantly parading around and not just lurking in the corners. We have read this would happen but somehow it seems to have grown darker so quickly. More than ever before, as Christ’s followers, it is time to rise and let our lights shine! Kris Vallotor writes about how light and darkness cannot cohabit. If light is increased in a room it can’t get simultaneously darker unless the light is shielded with something. Light needs to be put in the highest visible places and not hidden. Over the past weekend, our son was at the Silver Chateau with 3 friends, putting wood siding on the cabin. He has plenty of lights in the cabin but also powerful outdoor lights. My cousin e-mailed me Saturday night that Kurt’s lights were lighting up the whole lake and she took a picture. (It is attached below) Since the cabin is very close to the water and so many trees are down from the past storm, the lights shine even brighter and also reflect in the water. Everyone on the lake could see the darkness penetrated. It was such a vivid picture to me of the importance of letting our lights shine brightly without being apologetical or hiding in silence when we should speak out, or going along with the worldly crowd.  One small light can make a difference in the darkness and cause others to get their bearings and find their way. Let us not get distracted so that our lights grow dim. Also, think of the effect we can have for God’s kingdom when we combine our lights and let them shine together as Kurt with all his lights on. We can make a difference and the stakes are much higher when we think of eternity. We read in Isaiah 60:1-2 (NRSV) the promise to Israel but also to us, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will appear over you.” May we arise and shine for the Lord is our everlasting light.
Challenge for today: Share the Lord in a new way today with someone who needs the light.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

November 21, 2020

Dear Ones,
Happy Weekend! Hope you are staying well and at peace. This morning I studied and made Al’s favorite cookies. I can’t share them downstairs as we aren’t allowed to meet now. This afternoon may include a hop over to Kohl’s.Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We may not realize the blessings we miss when we think negatively or hang on to our past.  I read an article by Lysa TerKeurst who had a painful childhood as her father left their family when she was a young girl. She lived with her aunt for almost a year when things were falling apart. She tells about her aunt’s beautiful rose garden and the rule that she was not to run through it. But one day the thought of those petals just sailing in the air with their fragrance got the best of her and she took a run through the roses. She quickly came to a halt as thorns pierced her legs and blood began pouring down. She felt like that was a picture of her life that had handed her thorns and she was having a hard time seeing the beauty of the roses. Jesus said in Luke 8:14 (God’s Word), “The seeds that were planted among thornbushes are people who hear the word, but as life goes on, the worries, riches, and pleasures of life choke them. So they don’t produce anything good.” Lysa had a choice to make in her life if she would focus on the worries and thorns in her life or the beauty of a flower that would one day be seen. She could dwell on her father’s absence and all the negatives or she could let go and know that God would work it for good in her life. She still hasn’t heard from her dad in 25 years but she is not letting the absence of her dad be her focus. Although she acknowledges the negative,  she is dwelling on the beauty of the roses and letting the word take root in her. Just before I read Lysa’s writing, a friend e-mailed of some devastating circumstances in her life. Right now, it’s hard to catch the scent of the roses and seems like the thorns are choking out the beauty of her garden, but one day she will see and smell the beautiful scent. What about us? Do we trust the Lord when we feel like we have been pricked and are bleeding? Let us let go of the negative and remember that one day we will see beauty that was all the while taking place in our transformation process.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to show you any area that you are focusing on the thorns and to help you smell the roses.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

November 20,2020

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the day. Waiting for the sun to show it’s face but hasn’t happened yet. This morning I made individual egg dishes and cleaned the apartment and studied. Hope to get shopping and a walk this afternoon. Sadly they closed down the community rooms so people can’t meet together as they usually do every day. Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Connections are important and we are finding that out more and more, especially during this COVID time. We use to be able to call someone on the spur of the moment to meet for lunch but now we must think first if it is safe or if the restaurant has shut down. We can text and do face time, but it is not the same as getting a hug from a loved one in person. Our son came to see us on his way to the Silver Chateau this week and how much better is that than a text message. We have many inventive ways of staying connected with others but how about our connection with the Lord? We don’t need any electronic devices for we can talk to Him anytime and anywhere and can spend time in His presence at leisure. Just think of how rich our lives can be when we nurture that connection throughout the day, just speaking to the Lord as we do our best friend. We can be ourselves, with honesty and openness about anything and everything. It is so freeing to be able to share whatever is on our hearts and know He completely understands. My Bible opened to Psalm 103 today and in David’s words I was reminded of all that He has done for us….”He is the One who forgives all your sins, the one who heals all your diseases, the One who rescues your life from the pit, the One who crowns you with mercy and compassion, the One who fills your life with blessings so that you become young again like an eagle…He is compassionate, merciful, patient, and always ready to forgive.” And so much more! David concludes with a heart full of praise. How can our lives be more like that, telling the Lord everything and letting our hearts spill over with praise? When we ask the Lord to be the center of our lives, and not just on the periphery, we can speak to Him from our hearts all the time. We can be open and tell Him our frustrations, our sorrows and pains, and we can ask Him for whatever we need at the time. So often Jesus asked others before He healed them, “What would you like me to do?” We also, can be specific with the Lord and share all our needs and then trust that He will do for us what is best. Let us connect with Him all throughout our day and then not forget to praise Him from a heart of love and gratitude.
Challenge for today: Begin your day telling the Lord you love Him and want to connect throughout the day.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

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