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: September 2010 (page 1 of 3)

Oct 1st

Devotions from Lisa McMinn’s book The Contented Soul

Do we live as though the earth belongs to us or as though we belong to the earth?  Another way to say it, do we view the earth as primarily a resource to harness and use or as a gift put under our stewardship to protect, conserve and preserve? The earth is a sacred space for it is God’s creation.  “Contentment is a byproduct of living rightly, properly understanding our obligatory relationship to creation.”  Our technological advances and consumption of resources need to take into account the impact and implications of our choices. In the U.S. it takes 24 acres of land and water to support what one person uses. There are only 4.5 productive acres per person in the world, and we need to learn how use less in sustaining our lives.  When we truly appreciate the gift of creation and its blessings, we will want to walk gently and leave a small footprint, to use resources carefully. There are so many wonderful things about creation that give us pleasure and cause us to praise and honor God.  Let us leave a legacy that shows we have walked respectfully of the earth, mindful of those who came before us and those who will come after us.

Men and their Sons

For the men who regularly read this blob, you are aware that I missed a week.  I was gone for a couple of weeks with “my bride”, visiting our two sons and their families in Kansas City and Colorado Springs.  For me as a Dad, it has been rewarding  to watch both my sons grow in their calling to service the Lord.  I rejoice likewise in seeing my daughter grow and mature into a wonderful Christian woman, who is an example to me of a dedicated mother of three grandsons and a wife of a service man (Leif is a Chaplin in the Air Force).  Since my recent experience has beenwith my sons, I have been doing some reflecting on my relationship with both of them.  The following is for the “whatever is worth department.”  (If you read this post, Ann Marie, be assured I find it a similiar privilege to “speak into your life.”)

I have had the privilege now, for several years of “speaking  into the life” of my two sons, regarding their careers and personal life.  This has been a deep joy for me.  I am aware that there are Dads who are not able to do this.  As for myself, I cherish this privilege.  I have had to earn this position by believing in my sons and knowing that God can use them in significant ways. For me it has meant practicing three thing; visualizing growth, encouragement, and clarifying.  For the sake of any Dads reading this post, who are wondering how they can help their grown sons, I would share these three practices.  Notice they have  nothing to do with correcting, instructing or directing.  It is all about having your son come to an awareness on his own as to how God is both leading him and forming his life. I believe it is imperative not to be “direct” but to be “indirect.”  Help you son see for themselves.

 Visualizing growth  is simply pointing out  how they are growing in their profession and personal life.  Often it is through the difficult times that the most growth takes place.  Since a Dad knows his son fairly well, pointing growth can be very obvious.  It might not be to one of my sons, but for me as “Dear Old Dad” the growth in confidence, maturity and character formation can easily be recognized because I know them very well.  Dads, don’t miss the opportunity to visualize growth.  I never had a Dad who did this for me.  I was left to “measure” my own life without the voice of my Dad.   Help your son “measure” his growth by your caring, loving and thoughtful insights.  Remember these are not directives. 

Encouragement can like a deep drink of fresh spring water in a dry and difficult season.  As your son grows in his personal live and career, he will need “cheerleaders” in his corner.  There is no one more important then Dad, cheering him on.  Again, I had very few words of encouragement from my Dad.  He just was not very good in those kind of conversations.  I longed for my Dad’s approval, but I never heard it from him.  I think he thought I turned out alright, but it sure would have been refreshing to my soul to here it as I struggled in my early years of manhood.  Dads, don’t waste or neglect the times you will have to encourage your son in his journey into manhood.  The voice of Dad is very important.

The third practice is that of clarifying.  Since I know both Mark and Kurt so well, I can help them clarify what is going on in their lives.  I don’t necessary tell them directly, but help them to see what is going on in their circumstances and how it is effecting their individual lives.  I know when I was their age, life could get pretty confusing and uncertain at times.  How I wish I could have heard the loving, caring voice of Dad helping me have a better perspective on my journey.    So Dads, when you have the opportunity to give clarification to your son, take that opportunity as a privilege.  Your son would like to know what you think.  Don’t go silent on him.  Pray for guidance and direction as to what to say.

Sept 30th

Devotions from Lisa McMinn’s book, The Contented Soul

“Sipping and savoring life is and act of worship. Contentment comes as we relish the mercies God pours out in daily life.” The food we eat, the sleep that renews us, work, play, and  celebrating etc-all these gifts call us to praise and worship God.  You may not think that listening to music, writing poetry, painting etc can all be acts of worship but they are if we perform them with a sense of awe for our Creator. Caring and loving others, being God’s hands and feet of mercy to stranger, is often our highest act of worship. Worship is a way of life, not just something we do for an hour on Sundays.   As we go through our day let us choose to be mindful of the wonders around us, even when we have disappointments. Let us extend kindness in listening to each other, bear each other’s burdens, play whole heartedly etc. As we actively engage with the world we are God’s image bearers called to love and walk humbly with God. We are also called to come together corporately in worship and to encourage each other toward a life of hope, love, and thanksgiving. Let us come together regularly for we will be strengthened as we do this.

Heb, 10:23-25

Sept. 29th

Devotions from Lisa McMinn’s book, The Contented Soul

We don’t have to change careers and downsize our life to begin to attend to rhythms in our lives.  The author writes about sleeping, eating, seasonal rituals and the Sabbath as examples of established rhythms of rest from daily life.

1.Sleep is necessary and good for us!  Most of us are sleep deprived and it affects our productivity and relationships. Depriving the brain of sleep is not healthy and affects our mental sharpness and kind responses to daily living.. Sleep is a gift-a daily reminder that we are frail humans that need rest.

2. Eating nourishes our body while satisfying our palate.  We need to “slow down and to choose what we eat with intention, and to gather with family and friends as we nourish our bodies with food.”.  Eating can become a meaningful part of our day as we use it as an opportunity to slow down  and to build fellowship into our eating. As we eat together it reminds us that we belong to something bigger than ourselves. Let us sip and savor our meals.

3. “ Seasonal rituals call our attention to the present and encourages us to be mindful of the underlying activity of a particular season.”  For the author her favorite Fall activity was to go into the forest on a windy day and let the trees rain down their leaves on her. It was a reminder to her to let go and trust that the work she had down was sufficient. Sometimes we engage in community-held celebrations and we pause from work and become aware of the season we are in.

4. Saving the Sabbath is to acknowledge our dependence on God who sustains us. This day invites us to pause, to reflect on where we have been and where we are going. Sabbath is a day we may walk in the woods, sit by the lake,

or anything that encourages us to be free from our usual tasks. “Sabbath rest is one of God’s good gifts, a discipline intended to bless.”

Sept 28th

Devotions from Lisa McMinn’s book, The Contented Soul

Each moment in our life is sacred and can be savored for what God is doing in it.  “There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven,” says King Solomon in Ecc. 3.   We are given bitter and sweet moments in our lives and he concluded that we should be happy and enjoy the fruits of our labor as gifts from God.  Perhaps he is suggesting that whatever our circumstances in any given season, we stop, calm ourselves and look around for gifts from God.  Maybe when we have had a frantic day we can just stop and focus on the goodness of life itself and the miracle of life.  That means slowing down and learning to just BE without having to DO!  If our job at present is demanding and extremely busy, we can try to balance it out with slowing-down periods through out the day. The author is a busy professor and some days instead of grading papers during lunch at her desk, she just went through the park and walked to a coffee shop. Such things help refocus our desire to live in the present and to slow us down. Let us all look for ways to build margins  around our lives and to seek rest and stay open to the wonder of the moment.

Sept. 27th

Devotions from Lisa McMinn’s book, The  Contented Soul

“Contented souls have learned the art of sipping and savoring – experiencing life slowly with a leisurely mindfulness.”  That is quite a difference from our nonstop culture that seems to drown out quietness and restfulness. You may have noticed how cell phones take people out of the present moment they are sharing with others and puts their attention to some virtual place instead.   Technology that brought convenience and eased our work has invaded every part of our lives. Sipping becomes gulping and savoring is lost in the noise of multitasking.  If we are to live contented lives we have to say no to some opportunities so we have space to sip and savor life. When our lives are too full of good opportunities we are less available to be God’s hands and feet to minister to others in the unexpected. We all need balance in our lives so there is time for renewal and refreshment as well as labor and work.  Let us seek a sacred rhythm in our lives and we will find contentment expanding into our lives.

Sept. 25th

Devotions based on Lisa McMinn’s book, The Contented Soul

We live in a society that wants a good measure of control over pain, hunger, disease, aging etc. We get frustrated when we encounter something we can’t control. But it is in our pain and things that limit us that we discover how finite we are and so dependent on God.  But when we are willing to relinquish control and to take what God sends or allows- not because it is good but because we trust, then God will work through all things to bring about His goodness in the end.  This allows us to find joy even when today disappoints or wounds us.  We need wisdom though to know when to accept our circumstances and when to fight to change them.  If the change we seek is to provide peace for someone else, then it is likely good. If circumstances can’t be changed, then acceptance is the pathway to peace.  Like Joni Erickson who became a quadriplegic after she had a diving accident.  She said when she accepted her paralysis, she moved ahead …she  become an artist, a writer, speaker and founder of an organization to help others who ware disabled. She accepted her suffering and is being used to bless many. Let us embrace what God allows and know we are held in His hands.

Sept. 24th

Devotions from Lisa McMinn’s book, The Contented Soul

Today’s devotion is on limits, and as a culture we are not particularly good at accepting limits, especially if our comfort is involved. People today tend to feel pressured to make the most of every opportunity and end up living frantic lives.  But contented people accept more limits and have a sense of belonging and being part of something bigger than themselves. They seek rest, renewal, and reflection so they can continue to find joy in being with, serving, and working alongside others. They relinquish the need to constantly push to have or do more, or to keep up and instead welcome opportunities to slow down, to rest.   We are all frail and finite and dependent on our God who sustains us. Let us also accept the limits imposed by our aging bodies. When we do we are released from the expectation to control something we ultimately can’t control. Instead why not celebrate each birthday and live content with ourselves, God, and others .

Let us also limit our consumption.  When we do we learn to enjoy what is simple, and in consuming less we remind ourselves of what brings contentment.”  Elaine St. James said, “The secret to happiness is not in getting more but in wanting less.”

Sept. 23rd

Devotions based on Lisa McMinn’s book, The Contented Soul

We live in a society that wants a good measure of control over pain, hunger, disease, aging etc. We get frustrated when we encounter something we can’t control. But it is in our pain and things that limit us that we discover how finite we are and so dependent on God.  But when we are willing to relinquish control and to take what God sends or allows- not because it is good but because we trust, then God will work through all things to bring about His goodness in the end.  This allows us to find joy even when today disappoints or wounds us.  We need wisdom though to know when to accept our circumstances and when to fight to change them.  If the change we seek is to provide peace for someone else, then it is likely good. If circumstances can’t be changed, then acceptance is the pathway to peace.  Like Joni Erickson who became a quadriplegic after she had a diving accident.  She said when she accepted her paralysis, she moved ahead …she  become an artist, a writer, speaker and founder of an organization to help others who ware disabled. She accepted her suffering and is being used to bless many. Let us embrace what God allows and know we are held in His hands.

Sept.22nd

Devotions from Lisa McMinn’s book, The Contented Soul

We belong not to ourselves but to God, and are part of a whole that connects us to each other and to creation. As we grow less preoccupied with ourselves, we are filled with the wonder at the God who created us and all that surrounds us. Our identity is in Him, and our life’s meaning transcends gratifying ourselves.  When we really grasp this reality, we will become less self-conscious about our successes and failures, our popularity or lack of popularity. To become God-conscious rather than self-conscious brings freedom and joy.  When our hearts are mellow, we can look through even the darkest circumstances of our lives and find joy. Our happiness transcends our immediate circumstances because we know that in the end all will be made right. God can use our pain and struggles to shape and strengthen our character and draw us towards Him. Sometimes that means accepting loss but we gain peace as we relinquish control. May we be  able to see beauty amidst ashes and have hope for what is yet to come

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