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: December 2009 (page 1 of 4)

January 1st

Devotions from Mark McMinn’s book,  Finding Our Way Home

All of us have been wounded by others and we have done our share of wounding also. Some would tell us to forget about it, to put the past behind us. But the path to peace and forgiveness is not found through forgetting, but through remembering. Henri Nouwen writes, “If God is found in our hard times, then all of life, no matter how apparently insignificant or difficult, can open us to God’s work among us. To be grateful does not mean repressing our remembered hurts. But as we come to God with our hurts-honestly, not superficially-something life changing can begin slowly to happen. We discover how God is the one who invites us to healing. We realize that any dance of celebration must weave both the sorrows and the blessings into joyful step.

Forgiveness is never easy when the pain runs deep.

The first step in forgiveness is to deliberately recall the hurt and feel the wound and the pain, all the  time acknowledging our anger. Pain opens us up if we stop and listen to it. As we remember the incarnation and realize all that Jesus went through, we know that He understands every throb of our broken hearts. He is with us and turns us toward healing and hope.

“Our greatest health-physically, spiritually, relationally, and emotionally comes from unpacking the satchel and choosing to remember, inviting God to be with us in our pain, honestly looking at our own shortcomings as we consider how others have failed us, and ultimately releasing the pain by forgiving those who have wounded us. The process of forgiving and remembering may take a long time, but it leads to Shalom.”

Dec. 31

Devotions from Mark McMinn’s book, Finding Our Way Home

Each of us is individually valued by God. God views us collectively but also individually as He knows and understands each of us.

He knows every doubt, every longing, and every fear we have.  He is not shocked by our behavior. Because He knows and understands then we can live authentically with one another too.  We can struggle together in honest relationship, and together look at the messes and struggles of the pain of life and death.
Each of us wants to be loved, to be the apple of someone’s eye. God’s love is at the center of everything, and the rest of these expressions are just ripples of the greatest love of all.

Fear is the enemy of love and we try to be good enough to earn love. Fear prevents us from being authentic with one another, blocking us from the depth of pure love.
He invites us to leave our fears behind and grasp the truth that we already have a home in Him.

Dec. 30th

 

Devotions from Mark McMinn’s book, Finding  Our Way Home

God remembers us first, even before we can utter our first words or cry for help. He knows and cares about our struggles, celebrates our victories and grieves our sorrows and holds us in his arms of love.

God knows us by name and chooses to love us.  He not only remembers us but bursts into human form, and lives with us-Emmanuel whose birth we just celebrated. 

In the incarnation, God becomes someone who can be touched and whose touch can heal. He wants to soothe and heal the sicknesses of our soul.

Because we see His utter love and care that God showed in living with us on this earth, we can reach out to others in their pain with His love.

 Everyone of us is His priceless masterpiece. We are noticed and have His attention, and can never lose it.
Let us carry that thought with us today and it will change how we perceive all that comes our way.

Dec. 28th

Devotions from Mark McMinn’s book, Finding Our Way Home

Spiritual remembering often gets lost with the routine of daily life. As we go to bed at night, we may find we forgot to remember God in the midst of our life’s daily demands. We can get caught up in schedules, expectations of others, without stopping to reflect on the most important matters of life. 
The spiritual life calls us to slow down and create space to remember God in the midst of our lives. We become deeper, more reflective when we contemplate, sit still, pray, meditate or just take a nap. All these practices help us slow down and become more present to God, ourselves, and each other. The antidote to our superficiality is not to do more but in doing less and finding our spiritual center in the midst of life’s busyness.

The world tells us to speed up and step up and keep up. God whispers an invitation to slow down, to sit down, to center, to remember, to be bathed in grace and love, and to keep Him close to the core of our lives.

Jesus came to bring abundant life; we find abundance not by doing more things but by resting in the center of God’s love.
We have very little control over what happens in our lives, but we have a lot of control over hoe we integrate and remember what happens.

Let us remember God who is always with us and always will be!

Being the “aroma of Christ”

I am sure that  most of the men who read this blog have had some quality time with family during this holiday season.  I wonder how it has gone for each of you?  We always joke about our family relationships during our wildman gatherings.  This joking is really a reflection on the stress and even the pain of  family relationships.  (Again, I use the word “pain” to point us to our hearts.)  Yet I don’t know of a better situation for a wildman to “the aroma of Christ.”  Paul tells us that we are, “the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (II Cor. 2:15).  The Message puts it this way: “Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ.  Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance.  Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation – an aroma redolent with life.”

To be the aroma or the fragrance of Christ in your family relationships means to simply be the presence of Jesus.  I want you to know, men, that is not as simple as that sounds.  When we are the aroma of Christ we are to  be reflecting in some small measure the very character of Christ in very personal relationships, that can be stressful at times.  The more stress, the more aroma we should be giving off.  The measure of a wildman in family relationships is the grace to just be who you are in Jesus.  For me it can at times be a continual turning of my heart to Jesus and asking for the grace to just stay there and reflect something of aroma of Christ.  Ps 27:8 is key for me.  “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.”  Instead of turning in on myself in stressful circumstances, I pray for grace to turn my heart’s attention to Jesus.  There are times when I get my focus off of the Lord.  Then I begin to “stink.”  But I know that does not happen to you guys.

Another practice that has helped me over the years in family relationships, is to take the posture of a servant.  That means to the best of my ability I want to put others ahead of myself. For me this has been a hit and miss proposition.  But my best intentions are to give rather then to receive.  So my first thought should be other’s needs and desires.  My attention should be on them and not myself.  Listen to the way the Message portrays the attitude we should have as servants in our families. “This is the kind of life you’re been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived.  He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.  He never did one thing wrong.  Not once said anything amiss.  They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back.  He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right.”  ( I Peter 21-23)

The last part of these words from Peter will test any wildman during a family gathering.  We are told that the way of Christ means that we do not say anything back and remain silent, knowing that God will take care of our reputation and place in the family.  That is a tall order for us, men.  But that is a part of being that “fragrance of Christ.”  I want to close with the last verse of this chapter from the Message.  “He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way.  His wounds became your healing.  You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going.  Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shephard of your souls” (I Peter 2:24-25).  Men, learn to monitor your heart when you are with family.  Allow yourself to “taste” your pain.  Remember that Jesus took that pain to the cross so that you could be healed.  In that healing you will become more the “fragance of Christ” with your family.

Dec. 26th

Today rather than thoughts from a book for a devotional , I just want to share a thought that came to me.   On cold winter nights we gradually let the fire die before we go to bed so we don’t get too hot during the night. It use to be when I got  up in the morning the house was pretty cold and I had to often use a fire starter to get a roaring fire going. But one time when I got up in the wee hours of the morning, I decided to put a log into the stove where it just settled in and gathered embers. Then when I got up in the morning it took only a second for it to ignite when I opened up the draft. Before I knew it, I had a crackling, warm fire. I wonder if sometimes we feel like we don’t really make a difference or that we don’t have a lot to offer the Body of Christ. Maybe we are in a place where there are luke- warm Christians or where they have been turned off completely to the Lord. But we do make a difference!   As that one log laid there gathering up coals and embers, it was ready to ignite other logs when I put them in. It was just what was needed to get the fire going..

It reminds me of the old song, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going…and soon all those around will warm up in its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced.”
May we be that spark that helps others to know His love and warms their hearts.

Christmas

A blessed Christmas! It may not see that this devotional is appropriate for  Christmas but perhaps it is since most of us will be with relatives and reviewing past experiences.

Devotions from Mark McMinn’s book  Finding Our Way Home

Today’s devotional is on looking back. As we do that we begin to see patterns. Yesterday’s roles get replayed in today’s relationships. None of us was loved perfectly and we need to forgive others but also to be forgiven.

We often confuse the limited human love we’ve known with the limitless love God offers us. We can look at our old “scripts” and evaluate them only after we discover them. It is important to recall the painful things of the past so we can learn to free ourselves from their grip, and to turn our pains and struggles over to God. As we look back we are put in touch with our stories and it helps us connect the past and present, allowing us to disentangle today from the scripts of yesterday. It frees us to face an uncertain future with self-awareness and confidence.

One of the most important things we can do is to build bridges of reflection and continuity between the past and the present. If we do this well, it draws us close to others.

“We can choose to turn humbly in the direction of the past to find meaning in the present and hope for the future.”

In remembering, we create space for God to meet us in our journey, and we allow our lives to be centered in the security of God’s love.

Dec. 24th

Devotions from Mark McMinn’s book, Finding Our Way Home

In our human relationships we see a mirror of God who is divinely relational. We instinctively reach out to build families and friendships because” we have God’s joy in our blood.”

If it were not for God’s love we would be forever stuck in the vicious cycle of looking for love in all the wrong places.  But in His presence we are surrounded by hope for He is always loving us and creating a desire in us for home.

“Home is not merely and inner state of peace but a relationship of secure love with a transcendent God who loves us first, pursues us, draws us close.”

We can rest in the embrace of a loving God. The world is a broken place and we struggle but with God’s help we keep on the journey and He is able to turn our mourning into dancing.

May we find time to sit quietly and listen to “home” calling.

Dec. 23

Devotions from Mark McMinn’s book, Finding Our Way Home

There is a rhythm to life of venturing out in an unpredictable world, being footloose, and then coming home to safety and comfort. 

When we try to insulate ourselves with a predictable life, our plans invariably fail because life is not predictable.. We cannot know what will happen tomorrow. IF we fail to see life as adventure, then we are going to  be disappointed.

The unpredictable life may have losses but it also brings spontaneous joy and good things.

We are looking for something deeper than we know. If we set aside the clutter of life and quiet ourselves long enough to hear the rhythm of our souls, we will see that we are searching for something deeper than a promotion, something richer than more material possessions or more entertainment etc.

Deep in our being we are called to settle back into a place of secure love. None of us have seen God, yet we are called by the promise of secure love into a relationship with the Divine.

We are frail and sinful and often fall down, but each time we choose to give up or to struggle back to our feet and head toward home, toward God, once again.

God always welcomes us home with open arms, regardless of the paths we have traveled …He just wants us home!.

Dec. 22nd

Devotions from Mark McMinn at Finding Our Way Home

Each of us has a story to explain where we have been and where we are going. We are making sense of things, looking at the past in light of the present and the present it light of the past.

Intuitively, we know we are crafted by God for something beautiful, and we yearn for it. But life is not always as we wish, and is full of pain and struggle.

Longing for home has 3 dimensions:  past, present, and future.

As we look back we remember the good, regretting the bad and wondering how things could have been different. We may have sorrow, celebration, remorse, and all sorts of emotions.

As we live in the present we struggle at times with sensing God’s love and presence.

As we face the future, we look beyond our broken world to eternity and our true spiritual home.

Mark Buchanan writes that the instinct for each of us is that this world is not enough, long enough, deep enough to contain or explain even one single life in it.

“We were made for eternity. The world is not enough.”

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