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 2010 (Page 1 of 3)

November 1st

Devotions from Stephen Smith’s book,  Soul Custody

“Solitude is a deliberate choice we make –like listening to the quiet and getting rested up-that enables us to be still before God.” We all need times of solitude or we lose our way.  Our soul requires nourishment that silence and solitude provide.  There is a rhythm of together time and alone time, even if you are a high extrovert.  Jesus took time from the crowd to go away alone with God. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that solitude is the same as loneliness. But we can be lonely even in a crowd if we think that no one really knows us or cares about us. In solitude we purposely distance ourselves from people temporarily, so we can be present with ourselves and God. There we can know a closeness with Him that would not be possible to experience in the busyness of our days with so many people around.  ALONE is made up of two words: all and one. We can become more one with God and ourselves when we embrace solitude with undivided hearts at peace. We will also find that our hearts begin to move from being lonely to being alone with Him.  So let us be still and quiet in our souls to gain back what we have lost

Oct. 29th

Devotions from Stephen’s book, Soul Custody

Our world is so noisy and so are our hearts. Some fear the quiet because it is scary to be alone with their thoughts. But God often speaks in whispers, and we will not hear Him if we are not quiet.   Like Moses found out, God didn’t speak in the wind and earthquake but in a gentle whisper. When he was fleeing for his life and discouraged, he spent a couple days just sleeping and being fed by the Lord.  WE too may need rest to care for our souls.  When we have expended lots of energy, we need to take time off to give our souls time to replenish and renew with rest and good food. Jesus wants our lives to be free and light. ( Matt. 11:28-30) Our pace often leaves us so busy and empty that we don’t have anything left to give to others.  Let us not cruise on autopilot and run empty but embrace the way Jesus lived and taught.  No one is an Energize Bunny that can go on and on without rest. The soul must stop, learn to be still and rest.

Oct. 28th

Devotions from Stephen Smith’s book, Soul Custody

Abundant living is a choice that requires a beginning step and more after that. If we want to change, we will need to let desire show us the way. God puts His desires in us and we need to get in touch with the longings of our hearts. “When desire meets the soul, we find the place where motivation is unleashed and action is taken.”   What do we really want in life? What is He stirring in us?   “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desire of your heart.” Ps. 37:4  As we grow closer to Him, we actually want what He has wanted for us all along- a life that is deep, full, and satisfying. As we get in touch with our longings we will make choices because it is something we long for, or desire to do.  So caring for our soul is paying attention to what we want in life.  By facing our desires, we will find a deeper way to live from our hearts and be fulfilled. In Matt 11 from the message it says, “ Are you tired, worn out? Burned out on religion?  Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Oct. 27th

Devotions from Stephen Smith’s book, Soul Custody

How important it is to make space in our lives for what really matters. We can choose soul care that will, over time, bring healing, strength, and spiritual well-being. In fact, our small choices lead to larger choices and impact for a long time. Each day we choose how we will live: we can choose life or death, blessings or curses. We can choose if soul care is a priority in our life  and if we want to live the life God intends for us. Our souls get impoverished because we assume that we can live our life on automatic pilot. The truth is that our souls need ongoing attention and choices are a gift from God.  We need to wake up to live before we die!  Life here and now is a part of God’s will for us-not just the one in heaven.  Let us choose to live now, to find new meaning, new purpose, new reason to live –and then to protect and guard this life. It is our one and only life!  We get out of life what we put into it.

Oct. 26th

Devotions from Stephen Smith’s book, Soul Custody

Caring for our soul is never selfish or egotistical. It is the opposite for it is really an act of stewardship. Caring for our souls is an act through which God can replenish our hearts, restore our souls, and revive our day so we can meet the challenges of life, work, and relationships. It says in Prov. 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart. For it is the wellspring of life.” And in Deut. 4:9 “Only  take care, and keep your soul diligently.”

When we love ourselves in a healthy way, we move away from self-centeredness and selfishness. And as we do this it is life giving and honoring to God, having a ripple affect on others too.
We are soulful beings. Our soul is the real person—our heart, mind, emotions, desires, longings- everything that makes up our soul.  It is the truest part of us and will live on after we die. Our body is just the outerwear while we live on earth.

Our soul is God given, God shaped, God sustained.  WE are loved deeply and a reflection of God’s image.  As we care for our souls we will enjoy peace, even in the midst of hard times. We will have exuberance about life and make connections with friends. We will grow in awareness of God and intimate fellowship with Him.  Also, we will find fulfillment in our work He has called us to do. Let us take custody of our souls that we may honor God so He is glorified.

Oct. 25th

Devotions from Stephen Smith’s book, Soul Custody

Are we doing more but living less?  Making a living but not having a life?  Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”
Everyone who feels more dead than alive, more tired than energized, more burned out than motivated is a soul who needs to be cared for.  We can gain the world but lose our soul.

We need to take custody of our souls and choose to live in life- giving ways.  We need to take responsibility for our souls and hearts for this is our sacred privilege.  As we do this we will begin to see the transformation that our hearts have always longed for.  Simply put, being mindful of our souls requires loving the Lord our God with all our heart and mind.

We have only one soul. This it the only life we will live-so let’s live it well.

Oct. 23rd

Devotions from Brennan Mannings book, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat

The words of Beatrice Beuteau, “God’s love is not conditional. We cannot do anything to deserve God’s love-for which reason it is called grace; and we need not do anything to provoke it. It is already there.  Any love that is going to be salvific must be this type, absolutely unconditional and free.”  Some people never seem to get beneath the surface of their lives and die before they learn to live.  They mistrust God, the world, and even themselves and are unable to make a passionate commitment to anyone or anything.  They miss tasting life deeply. Jesus came to reconcile us to Him.  We can’t receive what He has to offer unless we see our plight and need of Him.  He knows our deepest secrets and we don’t have to grab a cosmetic kit to make ourselves presentable before Him. His message to us is forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation.  If we open the door to Him we will find we are not alone. He is with us and also gives us fellow travelers along the way.  We can accept ourselves as we trust His acceptance of us as we are. He said, “Behold I make all things new.”  Today may we receive the wonder and beauty of ourselves as His child.

Oct. 22nd

Devotions by Brennan Manning’s book, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat

“Keep your own death before your eyes each day”, said Saint Benedict. In our society today there is a refusal to view life in light of eternity. There is a denial of death and a fantasy of invincibility.  Some find it too painful to consider separation from a loved one, and they keep up a frantic pace of life so there is no time to think seriously. To keep our own death before our eyes takes faith and fortitude. When we are most conscious of our belovedness and are alert to the risenness of Jesus, we can face death courageously. Because He lives, we will live. ( John 14:19)  The denial of death is not a healthy option for a Christian. Christ within us is our hope of glory. He is our life, the most real fact about us. He is the power and wisdom of God dwelling within us. Let us keep the thought of death in our consciousness as a reminder of the seriousness and joy of life. Our hope is in the invincible power and might of the risen Christ who overpowered death that we might truly live.

Moral Temptation

John Cole in an article published in the “Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care” warns Christians about falling into “moral tempation.”  He defines moral temptation as “the attempt to deal with our spiritual failure, guilt and shame by means of spiritual efforts, by attempting to perfect one’s self in the power of the self.”  Cole maintains that this is a form of moralism that actually protects us from God.  I find this insight very intriguing.  He refers to Dallas Willard in noting that we are all born legalist.  “What a waste of life,” says Willard, “to spend it trying to be good just to keep from seeing the truth of oneself.”  We don’t start out being a moralist spiritually.  It starts to occur when we don’t believe that God will accept us in a postion of honest vulnerability.  We then begin to use spiritual practices to protect us from God

How do we do this?  We can  use religious practices to first,  hide from feelings of failure and guilt by repression of the truth about ourselves.  Second, we cover deep feelings of shame over sin by trying to be good.  It will become apparent that we are practicing hiding from the truth about ourselves and trying to cover up our feelings of shame, if we feel that we must do better in our spiritual life.  This is a sure sign of moralism – we are forgiven but still feel unacceptable.  Thus we use religious practice to make ourselves acceptable.  It can’t be do.  Cole points out that, “using obedience as a means to avoid painful self-awareness in an awful burden to bear.”  It is a waste of much spiritual energy.

The remedy for this kind of moral temption, is to pray from our hearts the prayer of the tax collector, who was in church praying with the pharisee, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:12).  This was honest, sincere praying.  A real man praying to the real God. Three realities are found in this heart-felt prayer.  First of all, by addressing God in earnestness he was not hiding from God.  He was saying, “God, I am being honest and open with you.”   Second, the tax man, know he could not achieve an open relationship with God on his own.  He was saying, “God only you can save me from myself.”  Third, he was honest about who he was.  “Lord,” he is saying, “I am sinful.  I am not pretending to something else.” 

Again, men, none of us start out to become a spiritual moralist.  It happens when we are not willing to be honest and vulnerable before the Lord for fear of being exposed and rejection.  But the fact is that our heavenly Father knows all of our attempts to hide and cover up.  He waits for us to get tired enough of our “spiritual preforming” so that we can open our hearts to his deep love for us not like we should be but as we are.  It does not means that we don’t have to change.  But  real change will not happen till know that we loved in all of our shame and vulnerability.  Then we will feel free to stop performing and have the courage to bring our real selves into God’s presence for healing and restoration.

Oct. 21st

Devotions from Brennan Manning’s book The Rabbi’s Heartbeat

The author said, “Genuine faith leads to knowing the love of God, to confessing Jesus as Lord, and to being transformed by what we know.” If we want to know what a person really believes, we don’t just listen to what he says, we watch what he does.  Jesus reinforced his words with deeds. On the eve of His death, he took off His outer garment, tied a towel around His waist, poured water into a basin,  and washed His disciple’s feet. He took the role of a servant and asks us to embrace that lifestyle too. As we do this we bear the stamp of authentic followers of Him.  In our world of upward mobility, to prefer to be the servant rather than the Lord of the household is the path of downward mobility. Servanthood is not an emotion or mood or feeling: it is a decision to live as Jesus lived.  Let us ask Him for a servant’s heart and show us how to serve this day.

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