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: August 2010 (Page 1 of 4)

Sept. 1st

Devotions from article in Just Between Us magazine

In Phil 4:12 Paul says he has learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Contentment is defined as ‘Happy enough with what one has or is: not desiring something more or different; a satisfaction with ones’ possessions, position, status, or situation.” It’s not having what we want as wanting what we have.  If we are truly content, we will be able to say that we are happy right where God has us. We don’t have to be rich in earthly possessions to be rich in Him and we don’t have to have a lot to give all we have!  If we compare ourselves with others who have more we will find ourselves discontent. When our thoughts and hopes are always on what we are wishing for, we will find it hard to set our heart truly on Him. If we are discontent with our marriage, our salary, our circumstances, etc, we can ask the Lord to help us discover the secret of contentment. He desires to give us all the strength we need to live a contented life.

Becoming simple and elemental

I participated in a “wildman” Saturday last weekend.  I was reminded again of the importance of becoming childlike in our faith.  As men we tend to complicate our relationship with God, analyzing rather than being able to simple receive and rest in the Father’s love.  We feel we must do something to improve our relationship.  Richard Rohr observes that men are trapped in their small psyches, believing in the validity of their objective truth.  We as men can easily get trapped “in complex consciousness” continually returning to the same wells for water; “the wells of reason, control, order and power.”  Rohr points out that it is through pain, struggle and darkness that a man is forced out of his control tower of reason, into a new openness, which produces a new trust in the goodness of God.  The complex is simplified into a simple trust in Jesus.  One Puritan author called it, “A comfortable walk with Jesus.” 

Jesus speaks to this simple trust when he observes his disciples arguing over who has the highest rank in the kingdom.  “For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, ‘I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.  Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom” (Matt. 18:2-4 – The Message).  Men, it is only when we give up “the big deal” along with analyzing out of  the need to know, that we become simple and elemental.

I am not talking about being simplistic.  Rather I am referring to a man who has an open, trusting spirit that is open to God.  He has been able to give up the need to control and understand, for a simple trust in God’s leading. He is a man who can live with great conflicts and paradoxes in his daily life, but yet keep a simple trusting focus on Jesus.  He has become single minded in his attentiveness to the presence of the Lord in his life.  This allows him to be discerning in choosing the “one thing that is needful.”  When are focus is not on the Lord, we make choices that complicate our lives

So how do we keep moving toward this childlike posture in our spiritual life.  Speaking from personal experience I would mention the following steps.  First, be willing to admit your pride and arrogance in thinking you know  more about your heart’s condition then God.  Second, get your focus off your own ruminations and inner striving. If you have to – cry out to the Lord.  The Lord delights in helping desperate men.  Third, find a trust spiritual friend, who can help you objectify your spiritual condition.  Four, trust the Lord as best you can with your condition, by being totally honest in his presence. Be real before the Lord with your struggles.  Fifth, ask for grace and strength to walk in simple faith before the Lord.  Finally, learn to give thanks in all circumstances and have a grateful heart.

August 31st

Devotions from Fil Anderson’s book, Breaking the Rules, concerning spiritual blindness

“A blind man knows he cannot see, and is glad to be led, though by a dog; but he that is blind in his understanding, which is the worst blindness of all, believes he sees as the best, and scorns a guide.” Samuel Butler

We don’t naturally see and all of us have distorted vision and blind spots. We need to see as God sees and let Him guide us to see the things that we have not been willing to see or unable to see. The author’s religious training led him to believe he was a failure and disappointment to God.  This kind of self-rejection blinds us to the truth that God wants us to see about ourselves. We are His beloved and are chosen by Him. Maybe we are scared to let Jesus tell us what He really sees when He looks at our life.  But we won’t come completely out of hiding unless we trust Him. He wants to open our spiritually blind eyes and enable us to see everything about ourselves more clearly.   We will find that He loves us and knows us better than we know ourselves. Because of who we are, in spite of what we are, God loves us!  He loves us up and down, through and through. Nothing and nobody can remove us from His presence.  May we believe His voice and listen to Him so our knowledge of His love can move from our head to our heart.  Let us be still long enough to listen to Him that we can hear our true identity declared.

August 30th

Devotions from Fil Anderson’s book Breaking the Rules

Jesus says His kingdom in not a subdivision for the self-righteous nor for those who feel they have it all.  It is rather for those who know they are sinners and cannot make themselves righteous.  Those who talk the most about others’ need for a savior are often blinded to their own need for one. Jesus came for sinners. We can stop lying to ourselves and admit that we are often unkind, angry, selfish, and mean even towards those we love. Yet we have been warmly embraced and welcomed into God’s family.  “God, whose very nature is love, will never love us any more of less because of what we do or fail to do. Therefore, we don’t have to strive to make ourselves acceptable to God.” We can face our failures, knowing we are deeply loved and forgiven. We repent because we are forgiven and we are grateful.  Isn’t His grace amazing?! It gives second and third chances and never stops. We are
“hopelessly flawed and hopelessly forgiven

August 28

Devotions from Fil Anderson’s book, Breaking the Rules

Dan Banister said that Religion is the archrival of intimate spirituality. It is a tiresome system of manmade dos and don’ts and is what is left after a true love for God has drained away. “Religion is the shell that is left after the real thing has disappeared.” Sometimes we can spend much of our lives learning rules instead of celebrating and enjoying our relationship with Jesus.  Has the emphasis on following rules has caused us to live from our heads?  Instead we should live from our hearts, where our God-given and God –guided intuition resides.  The author, Fil, spent so much of his life trying to manage a glittering public image, which prevented him from trusting God and to accept himself for who he was.  Union with God is more than behavior. God reaches down to us, telling us to come to Him when we are burned out and tired, and learn the unforced rhythms of His grace. ( Matt. 11:28-30)

August 27th

Devotions from Fil Anderson’s book Breaking the Rules

It’s time to leave our ought- tos, shoulds, have- tos and musts behind. We need to shift our attention from what we feel we MUST DO to what God has ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED..  God wants to give us freedom and has designed us for living from the inside out. We don’t need to feel pressured to do certain things in order to be in relationship with Him. God’s gift of grace is intended to produce a much different kind of fruit.—Rest. Think of yourself as floating in the river of God’s love. Floating is like a gift we can only be given; it’s never achieved by striving. 
We live fully only when His life is streaming into ours. The author found freedom as he realized he was lovable only because God loved him and He always expected more failure from him than he expected from himself. He said,
“When love permeates us we are whole, redeemed and free to be our beautiful true self. This is the hope that inspires me. This is the foundation and the love on which I live.”

We get to live our lives here on earth only once, so let us live it fully and as beautifully as we can!

August 25th

Devotions from Fil Anderson’s book. Breaking the Rules

How wonderful it is when we can take off our masks and not have to jump through any more hoops .. just be accepted as we are. Pretending drains every ounce of our integrity and it never really stays secret.  God is never fooled. It is both humbling and freeing to acknowledge there is nothing we can do that reaches beyond the appearance of things. Only Jesus has the power and resources needed to change what’s on the inside of us and help us live from the heart.

When the author stopped being afraid of being himself and came out of hiding, then he could experience the love his heart longed for. He could let himself be known. He struggled a lot with anger and felt like anger is a signal of what is going on beneath the surface. He said it is a G.I.F.T. ,indicating guilt, inferiority, fear, and trauma.  When he learned to use the gift of anger to know himself more fully, he could then step more fully into his true self. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is really the starting point of our living with Jesus, not because he will mend our brokenness, but because we then stop seeking perfection. WE can instead seek the One who is present in the brokenness of our lives.  Let us be done with frantic striving to achieve intimacy with God and open ourselves up to receive God’s gift of intimacy.

August 25th

Devotions from Fil Anderson’s book, Breaking the Rules

We are all deeply flawed and broken, and there are no exceptions.  If we deny our brokenness it can lead to additions, and destruction. Too often we edit ourselves so that we don’t know the person we have become. In the process we forget our true identity as beloved daughters and sons of God.  Dare we to believe that our brokenness can become a wellspring of insight and wisdom and strength instead?  Are we willing each day to bring our true self into the light of Jesus?  Let us stop fooling others by appearing to have our act all together.  “If we really believe the gospel we proclaim, we’ll be honest about our own beauty and brokenness, and the beautiful broken One will make Himself known to our neighbors through the chinks in our armor – and in theirs”.  Isn’t it amazing that God can use our brokenness, reflected in our failures, and disappointments to reach out to the hurting people who surround us? Sharing our struggles can actually help others.. And yes, God breaks us where we need to be broken so that we’re able to heal and become stronger and more authentic.  May our brokenness help us to grow!

Doing Violence to Our Souls

One of my favorite authors is Stephen W. Smith.  He has a new book out entitled “Soul Custody.”  Smith encourages us to take custody of our souls.  “Soul custody is taking back what we’ve almost lost in order to gain what we should never want to lose.  It’s doing what the word custody implies – taking responsibility for our souls and hearts.  This is our sacred privilege.”  He shows how modern life does violence to our souls.  He quotes Thomas Merton who observed, “To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.”  In other words, if we get too busy and forget our soul, we are succumbing to the violence being done to the soul in a culture that has little time for the inner life.  In the process we never find out who we really are. 

Taking custody for our souls is a challenge that each of us men need to heed.  Remember the words of Jesus – “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul” (Matt 16:26)”  The Message reads, “What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself?  What could you ever trade your soul for.” This blog is committed to helping  care for their souls.  Soul care is not a selfish endevour.  Rather it is practicing a form of spirituality that take seriously the responsibility of knowing, with the help of God, the state of the soul. To use a phrase I have used often in this blog, this means “going with your mind into your heart.”  

Paying attention to our souls will means that you will come to know the real you.  “The life that is within you is your living soul.  It is the truest part of you, and it will live on after you die.”  Our soul is “God-given, God shaped, and God sustained.”  To live on the surface of life, to avoid the inner journey is to allow violence to be done to our souls.  In the process, we will not find out who we are nor know the depth of the love that God has for us.  You will be living life in your own energy and strength, never coming to experience the energy and life centered in the soul, that place where God met you in the secret place.

If you are a man reading this blog and you are fearful of the inner journey, that is, going with your mind into your heart; here are a few simple suggestions.  First, be honest and open about your fear.  If you can share this with a spiritual friend that would be ever better.  Second, it is vital that you begin some practice of be quiet and still before the  Lord.  Thirdly, ask God for the grace and mercy to begin to know who you really are, that is, the good, bad, and ugly.  Fourthly, know that the Father is pleased that you are coming to him in order to know who you are.  Fifthly, don’ be discouraged by what you discover.  Surrender the bad ( the old, false self) to God and rejoice in the discovery of the good, who you really are in Christ.

August 24th

Devotions from Fil   Anderson’s book, Breaking the Rules

“God has broken into our brokenness to find us, yet there is no guarantee that God will paste our messy, fractured life back together in the way we want Him to. To the contrary, brokenness is the key that unlocks the life we long for.”

When we have cracks in our lives, it is the very way the light gets into our dark and messy lives. They are also the way the light shines out of us to other people. So whenever we cover the cracks of our lives, we cover up the light that shines through them. When grapes and grain are crushed there is wine and bread. In our lives if we are not broken, there will not be the deep communion with God. The life we desire and the future God wants us to have is most likely hidden in our biggest predicaments, our worst failures, and our dreadful disappointments.  Brokenness, more than any other force, has the power to mold our character into the unique shape that God wants for us.  Accepting the reality of our broken life is the beginning point in us becoming the person God created us to become. The Bible is full of stories of broken people and Jesus called His followers to come out of hiding and stop pretending.  Let us remember that it is in our brokenness that His power flows into us and transforms our lives.

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