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.

June 19, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy early Father’s Day! Hope all you dads reading this have a wonderful day and are honored. We are headed for the lake today and will be celebrating Father’s day early with Ann’s family. Maybe we will get swimming and boating too. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Soon Father’s Day is upon us and the stores are full of shoppers trying to find just the right gift for dad, or at least something he doesn’t have. We all had a father and our hearts remember him on this special day, even if he is no longer with us. We have memories of when we were young and if he was there for us, if he loved us, and if he believed in us. Today there is a crises of fatherhood in America as many fathers have opted out of their role and not been there for their children. It could be through divorce, or business pursuits, or occupational challenges, or irresponsibility etc. 
One of our friends has a 20 year old son who he has not seen since he was 2 as his ex-wife made sure he won’t find his son. Sadly, that son needs to know he has a dad who cares. We all need that assurance that our dad loves us- and it is especially important in middle school when bullying takes place and we are finding out how we fit in. But it matters at any age that our dad is proud of us, and for so many that is lacking. That doesn’t mean that dad’s shouldn’t  discipline us, for it is also important that dads set the boundaries and have consequences if we go beyond them; it is a way of loving and protecting. 
One man sadly told Al that he remembers the very day his dad gave up on him and no longer disciplined him; he felt lost and that his dad didn’t care. I was blessed to have a loving father who I never doubted his love for  me; his arms were always open wide to hugs and love. Al’s dad was absent emotionally and spiritually, although he provided for the physical needs of the family. 
None of us got to choose our dads but if you are a dad reading this, you can choose what kind of dad you want your children to remember. In Eph.6:4 (ESV), we read, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” More than ever today we need fathers who train their children according to God’s ways. But even when we have (or had)  an absent father, we all have a Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally, disciplines us when needed, and believes in us.
Challenge for today: Thank your loving Heavenly Father that He is always present, and  provides all that you need, even if it was lacking in your earthly father
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

June 18, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend to you! We have another beautiful sunny day! This morning I cleaned the apartment and made egg dishes and this afternoon we have some errands to run before our walk. Tomorrow we are going to spend the day at the lake and visit a friend on the way. We are celebrating Father’s Day early at Ann’s and also hope to get a swim and boat ride in… and maybe even a nap at the Silver Chateau. We are thankful Kurt and Brenda feel better each day. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We didn’t get to choose the day we would be born but our spiritual journey is a choice we make. When we choose to become a follower of Jesus, we leave behind our old life and enter a new life with new values, beliefs, and a whole different worldview. We don’t know what this new beginning will look like for we are placing our lives in God’s hands. I am reading Fr. Michael Casey’s book, Grace on the Journey to God. He writes how Peter and Andrew were fishermen but when they responded to Jesus’ call, He made them fishers of men instead. They had to leave their past behind, just as we do, and no one is  certain exactly what that will mean.
 This is as far as I got writing to you when I was interrupted by a knock on our apartment door. A friend stopped by and guess what she  shared about….. fish!   She and her husband had just gotten back from 5 days in Florida and  her husband caught a 30” Barracuda, a 4-foot Spinning Shark, and a 5-foot Nurse shark. How exciting that must have been to catch such big ones; but even more thrilling is that they both love being fishers of men. They help at Teen Challenge, at their church, here at Northern Lakes and so many places and they see fish (souls) caught for the kingdom. Some souls seem much  like the big fish for they have been set free from drugs and many horrendous things in their lives. It may take a while to land them and often more line has to be let out before trying to reel them in again. Sometimes we are amazed at God’s timing and ways that He uses to catch them in His net of love. There is great rejoicing by everyone in the boat when fish are landed and then each one puts their line in again to catch more. The Lord may also use different kinds of bait and He desires to use our changed lives, with loving actions and kind words, to help others respond. 
We are all called to win others for the Kingdom and Jesus says to us as well, in Mark 1:17 (God’s Word), “Come, follow me! I will teach you how to catch people instead of fish.” May our response be like that of Peter and Andrew as it says in the next verse, “They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Let us break with our old lives and embrace what God has for us on our new spiritual journey.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to make you a good fisher of men and to use every opportunity He sends.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

June 17, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the day! This morning I baked a zucchini cake and went downstairs for donut day. This afternoon we have Bible Study that Al leads and tonight I have another Bible Study at church for the women. A rich day! Thank you for prayers as Kurt is better; Brenda is not feeling good though and so continued prayers appreciated.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
The Lord wants our all...that means every part of our lives and not just bits and pieces. When I married Al 56 years ago, I gave him my heart’s affections and willed to be faithful to him as long as we both should live. I have not regretted that decision and it was the second best one I ever made; the first most important decision was to surrender my heart to the Lord. The song comes to mind, “All to Jesus, I surrender, all to Thee I freely give. I will ever love and trust you, in Your presence daily live. I surrender all, I surrender all. All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender. I surrender all.” When we give only pieces of ourselves to the Lord, we miss out on the best He has for us. Sometimes we are busy serving Him, but still not willing to give our all. I read today about the couple who came to Pastor Jamie and were broken and weeping. They felt like the Lord was telling them to give every penny of their money back to Him and so they handed the Pastor a check. It was all the money they had in the world and told the pastor, “We are suppose to give this to you. Do whatever you are suppose to do with it.” Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke to the pastor but he asked the couple if he could do whatever he wanted with it. They nodded and He told them, “I know exactly what the Lord would have me do with this check!” He proceeded to tear up the check in front of them without even looking at the amount. The couple fell to the floor weeping and their life was forever changed from that moment. They obeyed the Lord and gave Him everything; they passed the test and gave Him their all. God knows our hearts and what things we may hold back from Him, and He wants to loosen their hold on us so we can know the joy of loving Him with a surrendered heart. Jesus said in Matt. 16:25 (God’s Word), “Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me will find them.” Let us not hold back anything from the Lord!
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to reveal any area you have been unwilling to surrender and give that over to Him.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

June 16, 2021

Devotions from Judy’s heart
The Bible is the most important book ever written and it has power to change us and transform our lives. It is our daily nourishment and our guidebook to show us how to live.  If we embrace the Word and practice what we read, mountains would be moved.  We can’t even imagine the luscious spiritual fruit that would result! Our hearts are like the soil in a garden and when the seed of the Word falls on our soil, we’d like to say our soil is always good but I for one, cannot say that. Perhaps we can find ourselves in all 4 soils but at different times. Jesus told His disciples the meaning of the 4 soils in Luke 8:11-15. The seed that fell on the road are those that hear the Word but Satan snatches it away. Maybe we have sat through church but never really heard and took to heart the message because we were preoccupied. Or like the rocky gravel soil, we heard and got excited about what God was saying; but then things got hard, we lacked faith to continue to persevere and believe. Or like thorny weedy soil we remain immature because the cares and anxieties of the world crowd out the seed. Of course, the seed in the good soil is when we listen to the Word and hold on patiently no matter what the cost, until we see fruit. I loved living in Brunswick and from my study window of the parsonage, I looked out on a field and beautiful woods. The Senior group helped me plant a large garden and most every day I took some time to weed it. Sometimes the bunnies would be in and out of the rows as well. The farmers came often to inspect my garden and said I had the cleanest garden in the county but it was because I loved to be out there in the sunshine and surrounding beauty. If I neglected to weed, even for a short time, it would become obvious and the plants would fail to thrive. We need to take care of the weeds in our spiritual gardens and uproot whatever hinders our growth. To have good soil we need to internalize the Word, let it challenge us and instruct us, guide and encourage us, and convict and teach us. May we attentively take care of the soil of our hearts.
Challenge for today: Spend some time letting the Word sink deeply into the soil of your garden.
Blessings on  your day and prayers and love, Judy

June 15, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying another beautiful Day. We may not get our walk in today as we are servers for the summer picnic party for those  here at Northern Lakes. This morning I made Al’s cookies and a stir-fry veggie dish and porkchops covered with baked apple slices. Emoji Would appreciate prayers for our son Kurt who has been running a fever for a few days. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
With this scorching weather both Al and I remarked we are glad we don’t live in the desert where there are many more days like this. Desert times remind us of a place of lack and deprivation. But maybe desert times in our lives seem more challenging… like when our health goes, or loss of finances, or times of turmoil. What do we do? We have only to look to the Lord, and not ourselves or others but Him. I was reading an article by Robert Hotchkin, founder of Men on Front Lines, and he shares about desert times when we have nothing to rely on other than God. We need Him and we know we need Him in a big way; no more relying on ourselves or others. Robert gives the example of the children of Israel going through the desert for 40 years as they had the tangible presence of the Lord with them in the pillar of cloud by day and in the pillar of fire by night. He was always present. They also were fed in a supernatural way realizing as they woke up each morning there would be manna on the ground, water from a rock when thirsty and quail to eat. Their sandals and clothes never wore out, and God provided everything! Our nation is in desert times and in great need now for we have strayed from God. We have trusted in other things and manmade idols, and left God out. There is lack of reverence for God and desire for truth. How do we get back to being under God? Robert gives us some hints of what we need to do. First to repent in any area we are dependent on man or manmade systems to supply.  God is our provider and we must look to Him. He cares and will make a way for us. We can ask for His grace to trust, especially as we watch the negative news. We need to follow where He leads us and not give in to our doubts. He encourages us to look to our past wins and see how mighty God has showed Himself, like when David killed the lion and the bear or slew the giant. We also need to be other focused rather than on ourselves. Then as we worship Him and get our eyes off the enemy or ourselves, we can know in our hearts that He is faithful and He will supply all that we need, especially as we go through desert times. As John said in I John 4:9 (ESV), “No fear exists where love is.” May we walk through desert times aware of how much He loves us and is faithful.
Challenge for today: Don’t spend time rehearsing all the negative things of your desert times, but look to the Lord to meet every need and give Him praise.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

June 14, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a great weekend! You will hear more about ours in today’s devotion. This morning I made choc chip cookies and went to Aldi’s and my exercise class. Looks like  our walk on the trail won’t be as hot today!Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
The Lord is our Source, our strength, and all that we will ever need. Other things fade into the background when He is the center of our life. I was reading from a devotional book by Billy Graham and He stresses how the Lord must be uppermost in our lives and how important it is for us to trust Him to lead us. He said, “You can be miserable with much, if you are out of His will; but you can have peace in your heart with a little, if you are in the will of God. You can be wretched with wealth and fame, out of His will; but you can have joy in obscurity, if you are in the will of God. You can have agony in good health, out of His will; but you can be happy in the midst of suffering if you are in God’s will. You can be miserable and defeated in the midst of acclaim, if you are out of His will; but you can be calm and at peace in the midst of persecution, as long as you are in the will of God.” Our joy, our peace is conditional on being in the center of His will.  Like the familiar song goes, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” When we do our own will we are robbed of the joy that would be ours if we went God’s way. David prayed often that the Lord would teach him to do God’s will. He said in Psalm 25:4-5 (ESV), “Make me to know Your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” It’s wonderful to give the Lord our day when we wake up and willingly go in the way He directs into. When we have open hearts and minds and listen for the Holy Spirit to direct us, we have no idea what the day will hold. Early on Saturday I told the Lord a few things I would like to do, but asked Him to lead us as we were going to the lake. I surprised a friend in Assisted Living in Hackensack as she had not read my e-mail. We had time to catchup and pray together. Then on to Camp to see the family of Jodi, whose young hubby recently died. They were having a family reunion and we had time to hear the details of how God went with them through this hard experience. After that we got to see neighbors who we haven’t seen since last fall and then time with our own family down by the lake with a beautiful breeze. The day was a joy filled one and God arranged so we could see so many in one day. Let us not miss what He has for us by demanding our own way.
Challenge for today: Give the Lord your day and be open to all that He has for you, even if it isn’t what you had in mind
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

Happy 80th, Bob Dylan

Both Bob Dylan and I celebrate our 80th birthdays this year.  He was born in northern Minnesota, where I now live, and I was born in northern Michigan.  We both come from iron mining towns (Hibbing, MN and Negaunee, MI).  We both have lived through some turbulent times… I remember so well singing “Blowin’ in the Wind” in the late 60’s.  But that’s about where the similarities end…  Still, I wonder what Bob Dylan’s relationship is to Jesus Christ, particularly because I consider Dylan to be an American prophet speaking to the conscience of our culture. 

Francis Beckwith, who teaches Church-State Studies at Baylor University, has long studied Dylan’s music. “When you listen to Dylan,” notes Beckwith, “you can hear that he has been reading classic literature his whole life.  References to Dante and St. Augustine are as likely to show up as commentary about politics… he was quoting the New Testament [at various stages of his career]…Dylan has also soaked up generations of American music – especially folk, Gospel and blues.” 

Dylan’s title song from the 2012 album “Tempest” is about the Titanic.  “The captain, barely breathing, kneeling at the wheel.  Above him and beneath him, fifty thousand tons of steel…In the dark illumination, he remembered bygone years.  He read the book of Revelation and he filled his cup with tears…There is no understanding…the judgment of God’s hand.”   

Beckwith suggests that Dylan has created a religious narrative about “the arrogance of man” and the “brokenness of our world.”  Unlike our present “cancel culture” he isn’t into destroying or erasing history.  Dylan “keeps returning to ancient truths, traditions and books that many ignore.” He wants to learn from the past.  Instead of a lot of evangelical preaching today, Dylan’s music is filled with “medieval Christian images and literary references”.  I wonder how much of a voice Dylan has in our present “cancel culture” with it focus on “critical race theory.”   He seems to be skeptical regarding human motives and actions. 

You can feel the prophetic lament in Dylan’s words, like those of the prophet Habakkuk.  “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?  Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’  but you do not save?  Why do you have me look at injustice?  Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and conflict abounds” (Hab. 1:2-3). 

Bob Dylan has agonized over cultural conditions for over 60 years and expressed that agony in many ways.  Throughout his lyrics you can sense the voice of a biblical prophet.  He has not caved to “cancel culture.”  Rather, Dylan gives us a strong dose of lament.  He speaks to the “brokenness of our world.”  He challenges us to consider how we have lost our way.  Jeremiah laments, “But my people are not so reliable, for they have deserted me…They have stumbled off the ancient highways and walk in muddy paths” (Jer. 16:15).

Dylan is not afraid to speak to pride and arrogance in our culture.  Isaiah warns of pride.  “…The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Is. 2:10).  Dylan gives fair warning of what is ahead if we don’t see our own pride and broken condition.

Prayer for today: Lord, give me eyes to see and ears to hear the pride and arrogance around me and in me. Help me speak in similar ways to “the arrogance of man” and the “brokenness of our world,” while holding fast to and offering words of hope that are rooted in Christ.    

June 12, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying your weekend. Today we are going to be off to the lake and stopping on the way to see a friend in Assisted living and then to Camp Patmos to see more friends and then on to the cabin. We hope to get in a boat ride and swim.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Do we remember the goodness of the Lord to us? Or do we forget what He saved us from and take for granted His blessings. I was reading in Deuteronomy 5 when Moses was addressing the people and reminding them of the many ways God had been with them. He told how God spoke to them out of the fire on the mountain, how God brought them out of Egypt, how God made a covenant with them etc. Then He said in verse 15 (The Message), “Don’t ever forget that you were slaves in Egypt and God, your God, got you out of there in a powerful show of strength.” What an awesome story the Israelites could tell their children born to them on their long journey to the Promise Land: God delivered us, God led us through the Red Sea, God gave us water out of a rock and fed us manna every day! But they forgot and complained and wished to go back to Egypt. Moses also went on in Deuteronomy 6 to tell the people to talk about God’s commands to their children, serve and worship God and don’t forget how they got there. Maybe we are all guilty at times of forgetting how God has blessed us, how He took us out of a life of slavery to sin, made us new and free. Or we may wonder at times why the Christian life isn’t as exciting as when we first came to the Lord when everything seemed so new and passionate; but maybe the fault is with us, as we have taken His blessings for granted.  When we moved here to Northern Lakes, Al and I went through an old trunk of our love letters, diplomas, mementos of all kinds, and it brought back so many memories to us. Yesterday on our Anniversary, we spent time over our celebration dinner and later on our walk, sharing about God’s goodness to us in each move we made to a new church. Some things we hadn’t thought about for years and yet as we shared it was like yesterday. We must not forget the kindness of the Lord or we become full of complaints and feel entitled to more things. As it says in Isaiah 46:9 (NRSV), “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me.” Let us remember the Lord and all He has done for us, knowing that He never forgets us and has us engraved on the palms of his hands.
Challenge for today: Spend some time in quiet, remembering what the Lord has freed you of.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

  

June 11, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend! Nice to have it a little cooler and will make our walk more enjoyable today. I baked cookies on a stick and we went to pick up meat from a rancher. Then Al and I went out to celebrate our 56th anniversary with a yummy steak dinner. God has blessed us so much and we give Him thanks. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Lately I have been getting scriptures on the importance of giving, not just for the receiver, but for the good of our own hearts. Today I read from Psalm 112:5-6 (ESV) where it says, “It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.” We need to give generously to the poor, not only because they need it, but for ourselves to be spiritually healthy. It is good to ponder how much we have been given from the Lord, virtually everything; and remember that when we give to others it is only a fraction of sharing all that we possess. We have been given so much! Whatever we do for the poor we do for the Lord, and He is in the poor. Ronald Rolheiser writes that how we treat the poor is how we treat God. One day He will judge us if we fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, clothed the poor and visited those in prison.  One of my favorite places to give is to missions and particularly to give money so wells can be dug in areas where they have only dirty rivers with water not fit to drink.  A whole community is changed when they have a well to get fresh water. Another important place for our gifts to make a difference is for missionaries who serve the Lord in foreign lands and try to exist on such limited incomes. We will never run out of things to support when our hearts are opened wide to the needs of others. My cousin and her daughter and son-in-law who began the walk across America were treated well by total strangers who gave them meals, sometimes shelter, and other times just a glass of cold water when they were hot and thirsty. When we are generous and joyfully give what we have, we won’t get polluted by wealth or close our hearts to others in need. But even those who are very rich must still remember it was not their own power and ability that gave them so much. It was the Lord who gave the strength to produce all the wealth. Deut. 8:17 says, “If you start thinking to yourselves, ‘I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!’—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.”  Let us not hoard the gifts God has given us and give out of our abundance, but also out of our own need.
Challenge for today: Give something in secret to one who is struggling and in need.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

June 10, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are keeping cool today! We had a couple brief showers and things are looking  fresh again. This morning I made egg dishes and did food prep and went downstairs for donuts. This afternoon we have Bible Study and then going to friends for fellowship over coffee afterwards. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
What kind of a fruit are we known by? That which is in our hearts comes out in what we say and what we do. Jesus said in Luke 6:43-45 (NRSV), “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” We can hide what is in our hearts and put on a good show for a while, but eventually what is really in our hearts will become evident by the fruit in our lives. It’s what is inside that matters. The Message translation says, “It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.” We can’t fool people for long. If we want to know the character of another also, we can simply watch their actions and listen to what comes out of their mouth. Soon we will be able to tell if they are compassionate and kind or if they are consistently rude and unloving. One couple bought a house on property with fruit trees but they did not have the knowledge of  what each tree was until the fruit appeared. They were pleasantly surprised to find they had an assortment of fruit trees and got to enjoy a variety of good fruit. Even if we should fool people for a time, the Lord is the fruit inspector and sees exactly what is in our hearts. Sometimes we may be surprised by our own unloving responses to those around us. We didn’t know that was deep down in our hearts and we must humbly seek forgiveness. The Lord is so pleased when we ask Him to change our hearts and make us more like Him, that we may bear good fruit for His glory.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to purify your heart and make you more and more like Him.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
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