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: November 2009 (page 1 of 3)

November 30

Devotions from Jan Johnson’s book, “Invitation to the Jesus Life”

This is my last devotional from her book. And today I would just like to leave you with some of her ideas for spiritual practices to connect with God and absorb His transcendence

  1. Meditation:  Picture scenes of scripture as you slowly read them and see how you might have reacted if you were there etc
  2. Reflection: think of moments that have occurred lately when Heaven and earth have overlapped but maybe you have missed them.
  3. Sacrifice: give away something you need and watch God supply your need
  4. Worship and celebration: Consider songs that highlight the transcendence of Jesus and sing them to Him
  5. Fasting: Fast in some way, focusing on how this helps you experience the reality of His kingdom and relying on Him,
  6. Guidance: Who might help you understand how God is inviting you to partner with Him?
  7. Practicing His presence:  May pick up an object in your home and consider how Jesus was before all things and how things hold together through Him
  8. Reflection and Confession: Examine yourself and then confess to God.
  9. Secrecy: Allow something good about you or good deed you have done to remain hidden from another who might be overwhelmed by it.
  10. Service: Ask God to show you how to give people space to be themselves
  11. Study: Consider which passages in Scripture most speak to you about the majesty of God.

Let us learn what it is like to live with Jesus day by day and be transformed into people that love God and love others.  It is the most worthwhile thing we can ever do!

November 28, 2009

Devotions from Jan Johnson’s book, Invitation to the Jesus Life

Have you experienced a transcendent moment when heaven and earth overlapped…like seeing a new born baby, or seeing someone’s character change etc?

In an effort to be known personally by us, God creates some spaces on earth where heaven and earth intersect so that His presence is more easily apparent on earth.  Because of our lack of sensitivity we often miss His’ transcendence.  “God didn’t create us to be an “audience” but to be responding participants and even performers in the act of responding to divine glory in worship. Indeed, God is the audience, watching us and enjoying us as we respond to his great love.” In Psalms we have examples of how to respond to God’s greatness…singing, dancing, clapping, shouting, telling God’s great deeds etc.
Jesus doesn’t overwhelm us with his power and transcendence because his goal is to build a relationship with us.  He doesn’t want us to be puppets but free and partnering with Him in loving people. Being a partner of God doesn’t require any role or position.  “It’s about moving through life living in union with God, bearing His image to the world as we bless enemies and go the extra mile.”

“Celebrate in the Lord always.” Phil. 4:4  Let’s celebrate His greatness, His power, His works, and how He has helped us.

November 27th

Devotions from Jan Johnson’s book, Invitation to the Jesus Life

Jesus lived and taught with beauty as a storyteller, poet, screenplay writer, and street-theater actor. He used symbols and stories and presented his radical but beautiful message in delightful ways.

Jesus used stories not so much to give information as to cultivate transformation in his listeners. The parables charmed listeners into interacting with the drama, and they acted as invitations to believe and trust.

To woo us into the Kingdom, Jesus chose his symbols ( concrete items used to describe beautiful truths) carefully. He portrayed the kingdom of God as a celebration, even a marriage feast. He used metaphors to explain spiritual realities. He said, “I am the Door, The Good Shepherd etc”  Such symbols and metaphors speak to the creative, imaginative parts of ourselves that are often closed off to God.  They help us grasp what is almost too much to grasp otherwise.

“Connecting with God is not about receiving orders from heaven but is packed with back-and –forth personal interaction. The Bible is a divine love story, a novel in which, though the scene is set, the plot well developed, and the ending planned and in sight, there is still some way to go, and we are invited to becomes living,  participating, intelligent, and decision-making characters within the story as it mores toward its destination.”

Today drink in the beauty around you and  think of what it was like for God to create it that way.

November 26

Devotions from Jan Johnson’s book, “Invitation to the Jesus Life”
There are certain practices which shift us away from self and help us with simplicity of speech.  These practices allow the Holy Spirit to retrain our hearts, minds and bodies (mouth and gesturing hands) at the same time so they work together in harmony.

  1. Silence. Extended times of silence retrains our mouths. Being silent in community is especially helpful as we don’t have to impress with words. Situational silence ( not having the last word or giving your opinion unless asked) is also a good practice.
  2. Pausing. Silence, in the form of a pause, gives us time to consider the issues. Pausing reminds us to rely on God for what to say and we don’t usually hear what is given to us unless we do slow down and wait on God. The first thing that pops into your head may not be the wise or loving thing to say.
  3. Reflection and confession. If we ask God to reveal to us when we use too many words, the Holy Spirit will tell us.  He may reveal our showy speech, our self-interested motives, pushiness,
     and disregard for the other person. After confessing these, we can ask God to help us to change.
  4. Prayer. Prayerfully consider who we may talk to today and ask God to help us love and respect them, without trying to convince them of something. And rejoice when we see into the hearts of others more easily and are not so self-absorbed.

Today let us be brave and ask the Lord to reveal our motives when we speak unnecessarily and focus on getting to know another.

November 25

Devotions from Jan Johnson’s book, “Invitation to the Jesus Life”
As we think more on “being quick to hear, slow to speak” we realize we often over-talk …. It seems our heart has stopped trusting God to work in the situation, so we help God out with our ready supply of persuasive words.

Words can dominate and interrupt, exaggerate, become dramatic or spiritual sounding. And we can also use gestures and tones to influence.
But” simplicity of speech usually flows from a heart that mirrors the heart of Jesus: compassion and truth, love and goodness.” Our words reveal what is in our hearts. (Matt. 12:34-35)

If we are putting confidence in ourselves instead of God, it will show itself in the force and volume of our words.  But as we mirror the heart of Jesus, we will direct our mouth to state an idea briefly and peacefully and then allow others full freedom to respond.
Rather than a lot of words it is better to love the person standing before us, asking ourselves how we can draw them into the conversation.  How is the Spirit nudging us to love the people around us and hear their deeper selves in this moment?

As we practice eager listening and slow speaking, we become fully present to others without thinking of what we are going to say next. 
Let us practice putting aside what we want to say  and consider deeply what the other person is saying.  As we practice this it trains us to have confidence that God works without our over-the-top efforts. We can trust Him.

November 24

When we were at Kurt’s church Pastor Dan had an excellent sermon on anger and was very vulnerable.

He has struggled with anger since he is “Spewer” and tends to let his anger out quickly and blows all over others. He said he gets over it quickly and then wants to make up quickly.
There is another kind of anger called the “Stewers” that store it up and are ticked off inside. They remember things people have done from long ago.

Pastor Dan had us rate ourselves on a scale of 1-10 and he used the passage of scripture from Eph. 4: 26-27 on “In our anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold”

His main point was that Jesus wants to replace our anger with passion for Him. We all have a built in need for passion. When we are no longer passionate for God, we become passionate about minor things.

“Anger is frustration about my inability to achieve or control a desired outcome.”
We all need to work on letting go of our expectations and asking the Lord to replace our anger with passion for Him.
When we blow up and injure others or stuff our anger we give the enemy a foothold. He waits for just a crack to get inside.
Pastor Dan had us rate our passion for Jesus on a scale of 1-10. If our anger number is high, our passion number is usually low. So in prayer let us ask that our passion be increased for Him.

November 23

Devotions based on Jan Johnson’ book,  Invitation to the Jesus Life

 In James 1:19, we are told to be quick to hear and slow to speak but that is easier said than done.  When we feel insecure, overlooked, or slighted, we often use words to win people over or to prove our sincerity.

Jesus was not given to gushy speeches or explaining himself but to brevity of words.

When we speak little and chose our words carefully, it creates a clear and compelling effect.

Sometimes silence is our best choice. It gives us time to hear God and creates space in which the other person may also hear God.

Sometimes people ask us to take sides but that doesn’t mean we have to. When the woman was caught in adultery and the crowd waited to see which side he would be on, Jesus simply wrote in the sand. Jesus silence gave them time to ponder and caused them to face their own hearts.  Loving people and speaking to their needs is usually better than taking sides.
Inactivity, silence , and brevity of speech give people space to hear themselves.

November 21

Devotions from Jan Johnson’s book, “Invitation to the Jesus  Life”
Love is doing whatever is needed, no matter how menial, just like Jesus who washed his disciples feet.

How could He do such menial things?  Because He knew who He is.  He came from God.

There are disciplines that can help us die to self.

The discipline of abstinence teaches us to die to self and do it all for the glory of God…example…abstaining from letting our good deeds be known-keeps us from pride.
The discipline of selfless service frees us from living by the opinions of others or doing things to be approved by certain  people.

Solitude drains us of pride because it keeps us from being  productive for a short while.

Silence (not having the last word, not giving one’s opinion unless asked) keeps us from focusing on self.
Frugality also helps us die to desires to indulge ourselves. It helps us learn to be at peace without getting more.

As we practice disciplines, we will have more inner quiet and more time to love people; more time to be content because we are satisfied with not having what we thought we wanted.

It all goes back to “More of Jesus less of me”

Your Personhood is a Gift

As you who read this blog, you know that I have been greatly influenced by Dr James Houston of Regent College in Vancover, B.C.  This single thought from him has had a great impact on my sense of self.  It goes something like this, “Personhood is a gift not an accomplishment.”  That is powerful, when you consider that our whole culture puts the emphasis on the indiviual, with its emphasis on the self-made man.   But we need to remember, as Dr.  Houston points out that an individual is  a matter of our own creation.  Identity is based on the accomplishment of the self.  Freedom is that of a “autonomous self.”   In the process we become a self enclosed self, living far from home.  We live as Henri Nouwen observed as, “people without an address.”  The result is a lonely, alienated self, seeking meaning and purpose in life

On the other hand, a person is one who is created in the image of God.  Each person is unique and loved of God as “His beloved.”  In being addressed by God we are called forth as persons.  We are “made righeous” by the work of God in our lives.  We are rescued from enclosed selves by God in Christ.  Freedom for the person called by God is grounded in our life “in Christ.”  Our life is one of openness before God as we respond to his call on our life.  We hear the voice of the father, calling us my name.   Responding to his call we come home “out of dark” of our self made identity, to live in the spaceness of God’s abundant grace and mercy 

What does this mean for a wildman?  It means we don’t have to go around created our own image of self.  That is a lot of work, working on self-image.  I have spent years getting beyond this dreadful habit.  We can rest as a children in our Father’s embrace  Paul tells us, “You received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’  For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children”  (Romans 8:15-16).  So, men relax in who you are.  It is a gift.  Discover  your potential in Christ.  The Psalmist give us help. “Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.  Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me” (Psalm 131:2).

November 20

Devotions from Jan Johnson’s book, “Invitation to the Jesus Life”
As we participate in what it means to die to self, the self sins fade: self-righteousness, and self-pity, self-sufficiency etc.

It means we no longer want to have our own way but ask God to meet our needs and to have His way.

It means we no longer get concerned about what others think of us and are released from the bondage of wanting people to like us. 

We no longer think we know what is best for others but respect them and listen to their ideas.
When attacked we practice silence instead of explaining. We don’t try to manage other’s opinions of us.
It means we no longer get obsessed with self: Self-preoccupation is a result of pride.
“As we die to self, we have the companionship of God and live an eternal life now.”

Embracing the cross was Jesus  act of self-giving love for us and a world full of self-importance and in need of selflessness.
More on this tomorrow .

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