Canaans 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.

Month: October 2009 (page 1 of 4)

Oct 31

Devotions from Gary Moon’s book Apprenticeship with Jesus

John Calvin said, “For as the surest source of destruction to men is to obey themselves,, so the only haven of safety is to have no other will, no other wisdom, than to follow the Lord wherever He leads. Let this, then, be the first step, to abandon ourselves, and devote the whole energy of our minds to the service of God.”

We must imitate Christ’s life if we are to be free from the darkness of our own hearts. When we experience pain –be it rejection, loneliness, grief, depression or fear- we can celebrate these cracks and pray it through. Because of them, God’s light can come pouring in. And when it does, we become freer from the illusion that it is possible to thrive separate from the power of God. 
As His apprentices, we learn to work in and with the light that comes pouring through the brokenness of our lives.

If we experience pain, we shouldn’t deny it, but envision it as an opening in our soul that allows the love of God to flow into our hearts and back out to others.

“Live as children of light ( for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”

More than our thoughts and feelings

Like most men, Job struggled to understand the involvement of God in his life.  His experience brought him to the place of humiliation, as he humbly surrendered in dependance to God.  He made the following confession. “You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’  It is I – and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.  You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!  I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’  I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.  I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance” (Job 42:3-6  NLT).  Instead of resistance, Job was brought to the freedom of dependence.  As a wildman can you identify your resistance to God, especially when you don’t understand God’s ways in your life?  Then can you embrace dependance regarding the mystery of God’s will for you as Job did?  He ended up being content to let God be God, far beyond his comprehension.

I thought of this verse when I reflected on  words from Thomas Keating reminding us that we are more then our thoughts and feelings.  Men are not comfortable with the mystery of God, especially trying to discern his involvement in our lives.  But God’s way are far beyond our thoughts and feelings.  God tells us, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts…and my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine” (Isaiah 55:8 NLT).  He will not bow to our desires and demands.  To come to the realization that we are more than what we think and feel can be very liberating, indeed.  For God is present in our lives far beyond our consciousness aware of Him.  Job expressed this freedom when he could say, “I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”  Now he saw with spiritual eyes, saying,  “now I have seen you with my own eyes.”   Paul refers to this as, “having the eyes of your heart enlightened” (Eph 1:18).  Job humbly repented of all his wrong thinking in his relationship to God.  

“Humiliation.” Keating reminds us, “is the way to humility.”  I am finally coming to see that humiliation is a good experience, even though it is hard on my male ego.  Surrender in dependance and weakness to the Lord, is the path to freedom.  “Humility,” says Keating, “is very close to trust and hope.”  For hope is found as we learn to trust God.  It is not based on what I think or do, but on the fact that God is good and merciful. 

My distorted thoughts and confused emotions are not who I really am in Christ.  My life is Christ is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3).  There is plenty of mystery here.   As I learn to surrender my old patterns of sin  to his will, I will gain a confidence that  God truly desires my best.  In humble dependance on the Lord, “we know that whatever happens, the love of God is always with us and that He will turn even our failures into perfect love.”

Oct. 30

Devotions from Gray Moon’s book Apprenticeship with Jesus

Sometimes life gives us lots of painful shocks and we try to deaden the pain.  The painkillers may take the form of certain patterns of behavior—like perfectionism, overachievement, approval seeking, avoidance, people pleasing, co-dependence, always being in control etc.  Regardless of the form, these God-substitutes are idols . 

But the way through the rough spots  resembles the steps of AA: confession of my addiction to self-sufficiency, admission of my helplessness to live a meaningful life on my own terms, and a request to return to living life by God’s side who always welcome us back to his embrace.

We may also go through the dryness of the “dark night of the soul” when we feel separated from God and we can’t figure out what is going on or what we are doing wrong. But HE has moved us farther down the road and during this dark night we are to seek Him and go to Him again. When we do we realize we aren’t the same person. We have moved and we are now closer to home. 
But what does it matter if our rough spot is due to us moving toward idols or God moving us on the path to greater maturity, our job is the same. We say, Here I am, Lord, helpless without you.”

Oct. 29

Devotions for 10-29   from Gary Moon’s book Apprenticeship with Jesus

Joshua Kang said, “Abraham had to empty his heart….And when he did so he made room for God’s abundant blessing. He became a friend of God through surrender.”

The ways of the kingdom of God are often at odds with those of the world.  If we are going to be like Jesus, we’re often going to look different in an oddly loving, peaceful, joyful way.
Jesus was in the business of getting people to be odd. He didn’t want his followers to fit into the world but to be at home in the kingdom.

To the extent that we become empty of self, He is revealed through us.
May we ask Him  what we may need to put on the altar so that we can be emptied in order to be filled with Him.

Oct. 28th

Devotions from Gary Moon’s book Apprenticeship with Jesus

Jesus chose to invest his life in “lowbows” and “discards in the eyes of the world. Think of unlearned fisherman Peter, or the despised tax collector, Matthew etc.
Have you ever thought that you are not good enough and that He might pick someone else but not you?! 

 We cannot earn His love and acceptance but be open to receive His love and a willingness to be His apprentice.
Becoming His apprentice requires more than being with Jesus. It requires us to allow Him to live His life through us.  And that requires a personal cross, a place where all pretence of self-sufficiency must die.

The author suggests spending some time writing down every reason you can think of for being unworthy to be in His apprenticeship program. Just be honest. Then ask Him if he’s sure you are fit for the program. Listen carefully to His response.  I think I know what it will be!!

Oct. 27th

Devotions based on Gary Moon’s book, Apprenticeship with Jesus

Lily Tomlin said,”Why is it that when we speak to God we are said to be praying but when God speaks to us we are said to be schizophrenic.”

Many people ask if it is possible to live so close to God that you can hear His voice. People are meant to live in an ongoing conversation with God speaking and being spoken to. God created us for intimate friendship with Himself.

“We best hear God through knowing Him-the process of being mutually indwelt, one within the other-in a passionate relationship in which conversation is but one facet.”
We best hear Him when we are orchestrating each day in such a way that we are constantly abiding in His presence.

We are meant for deep communion with Him.
The goal is not hearing God but the enjoyment of a perpetual and transforming friendship.

You may want to ask Him today, “What would you like for us to do together?”

“Thawing” of the soul

Yesterday we had another “wildman” Saturday retreat here at Canaan’s Rest.  Since our place is a “prayer house” we do not have a large space for overnights.  We can  hold up to 8 to 10.  So day retreats for a larger group work out best.  There were 11 of us yesterday.  Many have been to most of the wildman retreats.  Yesterday we had two new guys.  It was a good mix of regulars and new-comers.  The energy and commitment makes the spiritual dynamic significant.  I always come away deeply encouraged by what God can do with a group of men, wanting change.  These are men who want to go below the surface.  I keep learning new things each time we meet.

I want to share one new insight that I came to me as I experienced the dynamic of a “Wildman” retreat. Remember I have said in previous blogs, that men are going to have to get together in committed groups in the days to come, if they are going to find their masculine soul.  The culture will be a hinderence, with its confused and even negative messages.  The church, in many cases,  has proven to be unreliable in giving “soul care” to men.  The feminine voice can help only to a degree.  What is needed is the “community voice” of other males.

The word that came to me as we met, was the word “thaw.”  As men shared their stories of faith coming from their deep masculine soul, men in the group could identity with the stories. It gave men permission to risk sharing, what Thomas Keating calls the “undigested emotional material”  that is “warehoused in the body in the form of afflictive emotions such as grief, shame, humiliation, anger, discouragement, loneliness, desolation and the sense of rejection.”  Notice Father Keating calls this material “afflictive emotions.”  They are “warehoused” inside, effective our whole body.  The “tiger” in the tank of many men are the “afflictive emotions that need to be released from the inner “warehouse.”  The cry of their hearts is “how can God help me to change?”  A “band of brothers” can help with the birthing process in which the pain is acknowledged and brought forth

When the “thawing” comes to a group of men, you can almost feel a sense of relief in the air, as men realize they are not alone and unique with their deep, hidden stories of defeat, failure and shame.  Our wildmen gatherings have a strong component that is similiar to AA meetings in which we,  “admit that we are powerless over our sin and that our lives have become unmangeable.”  As a man begins to experience a “thawing” of his soul, he can begin to admit his “dark side” to a group of other men.  The awareness that it is 0.k. to do so and to experience loving acceptance in the inner struggle bring a new freedom for men.  They come to the awareness that they are not alone, but they are is the company of wildmen” who share a similiar story and are on the same journey

I thought of the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:2 as I reflected on the thawing effect. “Always be humble and gentle, be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”  For any man reading this blog, I strongly encourage you to find a group of men, who are both “humble and gentle.”  In such a context there can be  foundations laid for “space” to be cultivate an honesty about what is going on in the soul.  For it is when men make “allowance” for each other’s faults, that such space is created. Henri Nowen calls it “hospitality.”  When this is done in love among brothers, there can be a remarkable thawing affect.   Rmember men, you will not thraw out on your own.  Your wife knows that you need thawing, but she can’t help, in many cases.

Oct 26th

Devotions from Gary Moon’s book, Apprenticeship with God

“There is a sense in which the secret to Jesus’ ministry is hidden in the lonely places where He goes to pray—often before dawn.” Henri Nouwen

In that lonely place, Jesus finds the courage to follow God’s will and not his own; to speak God’s words and not his own; to do God’s work and not his own.

Without a lonely place in our lives we are in danger. “Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening, speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place (solitude) our actions quickly become empty gestures.” 

There is a balance between silence and words, distance and closeness, withdrawal and involvement etc.

 We may find the “real me” is often hidden behind noise and chatter, and it is good to retreat from the noise of words.

 When we become quiet enough, we may find out our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared.

It is in silence that the door opens to communion with God.

Often in the silence we most clearly hear the whispers of God’s love and experience most deeply a sense of being His beloved.

oct. 24

Devotions  from Gary Moon’s book Apprenticeship with God

Today’s devotion is on celebrating our differences.

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…..Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”  St Paul

Maybe God gave us all individual differences to trick us into community life!  Precise rational thinkers benefit from the balance of those with sensitive hearts when it comes to important decisions. Neat freaks need messy folks or they might never enjoy eating a chocolate cone while wearing a white shirt. Messy people need neat freaks to help them get the chocolate out. You get the picture!
God seems to want us to need each other. Our individual differences are to be viewed as an occasion of celebration, not conquest.

Today why not ask God for His input of an important person in your life who may get on your nerves because of individual differences.
Then come up with 5 good things about this person’s traits that differ from your own. 
I know Al and I marveled after being with all our kids and grandkids this past month, of how very different each one is and so unique and special in their own way.  Isn’t it great how the Lord fashioned each of us as He wanted us to be?

Oct 23

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Devotions for 10-23 from Gary Moon’s book, Apprenticeship with Jesus

Richard Foster wrote, “Think of the millions of people who say, sincerely, that the Bible is the guide to life, but who still starve to death in the presence of its spiritual feast.”

The average person owns 9 Bibles and is looking for more. But have we really grasped the Bible teachings or do we just go to it for information to help us win a debate or answers to a specific problem?
Perhaps we need to approach the Bible more about letting it transform us and knowing more about “with-God” life.  “Indeed, the unity of the Bible is discovered in the development of life ’with-God’ as a reality on earth, centered in the person of Jesus.”

God wants to help us with our specific problems but even more He wants us to be a dwelling place of God.

May we resolve today to spend as many moment of this day in dialogue with Him.

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