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: March 2012 (Page 1 of 3)

The Sign of Jonah

Richard Rohr, who does a lot of significant work with men, has chosen the whale as the logo of his men’s ministry.  The whale comes from the words Jesus declared when the crowds were increasing.  “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it expect the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matt 12:39).   Rohr makes the point that the sign of Jonah is appropriate for men’s work, since grief and darkness are at the very heart of his work.  Listen to what Rohr has to say, “Much of early men’s work is teaching men how to trust their time in the belly of the whale, how to stay there without needing to fix, to control or even to fully understand it and to wait until God spits you on a new shore.”

I know for myself, it has been hard to be left in the belly of the whale.  The darkness of not knowing has lasted for much longer then three days. Remember Jonah was running from God’s purposes for his life.  He did not what to go and preach at Ninevah.  It was in the belly of the whale God gots his attention.  Sometimes it is only in the unknown and darkness that we will finally cry out to God for help.  God allows the apparent darkness to be a teaching space in our lives, especially when we are on the run like Jonah.  As men we desire to control and understand our circumstances.  It can be hard to admit that we are running from God and that some thing is broken in our lives.  In the words of AA, “I am powerless to fix the brokenness of my life on my own.  My life has become unmanageable.” 

It is imperative to remember that it is out of love that God puts us into the belly of the whale.  He knows we are on the run, even though we might think we are being a “niece Christian guy.”  The worst response would be that of rebellion or anger at God.  Evidently Jonah got the message for after just three day in that small and smelly space, God spit him unto a new shore.  Jonah had learned his lesson.  He would go God’s way.  Sometimes, God in his compassion, and in acts of mercy will bring us back over the same ground, hoping that we will learn our lesson.  This is sheer mercy.  But he will not force us to obey.  We can choose.  Could the whale be a warning to you that you need to stop running?

Jesus warned a “wicked and adulterous generation” in giving them the sign of Jonah.  This can be a warning to men.  There are voices both in the culture and even the church that will not understand the special “teaching space”  the the belly of the whale provides.  Men I want to assure you that the great spiritual tradition of the past speaks with one voice on the necessity of the darkness and unknown.  Could it be that “the sign of Jonah'”  is a warning for us as men, to take a “second look” at what God is doing in the lives of Christian men?  Could it be that many of us have had our special “spiritual improvement projects” operating,  using them to protect ourselves from what God really wants in our lives?  Could God be wanting to get your attention in the belly of the whale?

March 30th


Devotions from Judy’s heart

Have you noticed how so often that people who have so little are the most thankful?   Some who have so much are often the least thankful. A grateful spirit is not based on what we have. In fact it isn’t having more that makes us happy. Sometimes we just need to dwell on the things we already have, and we will find our lives are already so full and overflowing. Paul said, ” In whatever condition I find myself, therein will I be content.”  If we just have food and clothes, we can be content!   When I was reading the “Ultimate Gift,” the character Jason, was to think of 10 things he was thankful for each day before he got out of bed. What a good exercise to practice! When we are full of gratitude it keeps negative thinking and bad attitudes far away and helps us to see the abundance that our Father showers on us.  ( Ps. 95:2 “Let us come before Him with thanksgiving.”)   Why not start tomorrow morning with  5 things that we are grateful for, and just maybe we won’t  be able to quit!

March 29th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Have you had the experience of going downstairs for something and forgetting what you went for? Memory lapses are not unusual especially the older we get or the more stressed we get. Many of these forgotten things are not highly important but as I was reading today from Deuteronomy 6, there are things we are to hold on to tightly. We are not to forget God’s rules and regulations and to love God with all our hearts and all our souls and all our strength. As we live in reverence before Him, we are to remember to teach our children and grandchildren how we were taken out of bondage into freedom. We are to talk about His commands from the time we get up in the morning until we go to bed at night. Over and over again we are reminded not to forget and to do what ever it takes to remember. Verse 9 says to inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. (Today that may mean putting up meaningful pictures on our walls, scriptures where they are clearly visible, spiritual sayings on our computers etc.)  He has promised us a life of abundance, and let us not forget how He delivered us from bondage into the land flowing with milk and honey. We may forget why we went into the closet for something, but let us remember the really important things of all that He has done for us!!!!

March 28th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Each of us has a path designed by God, and we are never alone for He walks with us. How comforting that is as we go through hard times of struggles, grief, and challenges. Sometimes we wish we could see way ahead, and at other times we are glad we didn’t know what was coming.  But whatever we go through, it is a time to learn to trust in a deeper way. It is so easy to say we trust the Lord, and yet when we go through difficult times we are so full of “whys”.   I like what Sarah Young says in Jesus Calling,” I have promised to keep you in perfect Peace to the extent that you trust Me…My Peace, however, is such an all-encompassing gift that it is independent of all circumstance. Through you have everything else, if you gain My Peace you are rich indeed.”  Everything we go through is preparatory for what lies ahead.  We have had several friends who have gone home to be with the Lord just this past week, and it is comforting to know they are forever with Him. “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:7

March 27th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

When I go for prayer walks, I try to slow down and take in all that the Lord has created for our enjoyment . Yesterday as I walked, I thought of how the land is just teaming with activity of little creatures, many of whom are hidden from my sight. Then I just happened to read later from Psalms 50:11 where it says, “I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.” Just think that if He knows every one of the millions of birds and every creature that moves, then He knows us better than we know ourselves. God is so awesome!  Sometimes He surprises us, like today, as a deer just pranced out of the woods right in front of me on the road. It made me think of how sometimes the Lord reveals Himself in surprising ways. Just this morning as I was singing on my way to church, I just felt His presence splash all over me. I wasn’t expecting it, but just enjoyed the special time with Him.   Is not He who created us and knows us inside and out, worthy of our trust?  May He guide our walk with Him and surprise us along the way!

March 26th


Devotions from Judy’s heart

Yesterday I went up town to do many errands and I had to time it just right. The post office was only open for 1 ½ hours; the bank only for part of the morning, as well as, the Co-op; and the Dollar Store didn’t open until 9.  I was able to get to each store while it was open because of my timing. But if I had gone in the afternoon, I would have missed out on most all of them. God’s timing is perfect and although we say we want to do His will first, are we really on His time schedule? Some of us may jump ahead of his timing in eagerness or impatience. Others of us may lag behind as we need to decide if we are really going to do it His way. But when we are willful, our timing is not in sync with His, and we miss out.  Jesus was very aware of His Father’s timing and did not jump ahead as his disciples often wanted Him to do. And He didn’t lag behind but willingly went to the cross.  Let us do the will of God from our hearts ( Eph 6: 6) and we will be on His time table and bring delight to Him.

March 24th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Often when I go walking with Linnea, I may have on a hooded jacket and long pants while she may have on shorts and a short sleeved shirt. I am always cold and she is not, but we have to be who we are. She would not want to be all wrapped up in my clothes and I would freeze if I dressed in hers. One isn’t better than the other but we are all distinct individuals. We do not need to be just like someone else for each of us is unique with specialized gifts. Just like playing in an orchestra, we need to play our notes clearly that the song may be the masterpiece God has planned and not all bleeding into one another. Let us be exactly who God has created us to be and appreciate our differences and distinctions.  Then much glory will go the “Conductor”, for we will play in harmony and unity.

March 23rd

Devotions from Judy’s heart

While in Sanibel we heard Dr. Daryl Donavon preach, and since we were visitors we also got a gift bag with his book in it. ( “Able to Stand”). I liked what he had to say on faith as we hear so much that causes us to wonder if we have lost our faith. His definition of faith is: “Faith is hearing God and responding accordingly”. So simple! It is more than believing the right things and saying the right words.   It is not  something we produce to get God to do what we want. Sometimes our mountains aren’t moved because God might have those mountains to teach us how to climb. WE may not get a Jaguar from lack of belief but God said a Ford would do. Joni Erickson may still be in her wheelchair if God can receive greater glory with her in that position than on her feet.
Faith is something real and tangible. Through prayer we line up to God’s heart and become sensitive to what is on His heart.  As we spend time with Him and listen we will discover His will in our lives and we can walk in confidence.

March 22nd

Devotions from Judy’s heart

It’s important to live one day at a time and to live each moment to the fullest. We often try to live the future ahead of time because we want to get ready for what is to come.  But we can’t live beyond the moment and we need to savor each day as a gift. Recently when I was reading, The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall, the character Jason had to spend a day like he would if it were his last day on this earth. I wondered how I would spend it. I don’t think it would be spent cleaning  etc but rather wrapped in relationships, letting others know how much they mean to me etc. What would it be for you?  We can only live one day at a time and as we live it to the fullest our lives will be rich and meaningful. Let us anticipate each day trusting in Him, one moment at a time, and we will experience great peace and rich blessings.

The “Dove” affect

Well, I just can’t resist myself during “March Madness.”  I have to write at least one more blog about this time of year, when basketball fans get into the madness.  I know I take more time then usual to watch games.  I find it very exciting to watch the competitive nature of these young men.  They will never forget this experience.  I know I will never forget the thrill of my high school ( Negaunee) winning the Class B state championship of Michigan back in 1957.  You never forget the thrill.  But today I want to share a few reflections on the Dove Men’s Care ads.  The various basketball personalities are talking about being “comfortable in their own skin.”  Of course,  my favorite  is Tom Izzo.  He and I talk alike.  We are both UPers.

First the symbolism of the dove.  In scripture the Holy Spirit is represented by a dove.  Listen to Matthew 3:16-17, “At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'”  I am fascinated with men being associated with a dove.  The symbolism could not be more relevant for men and their presonal struggle for identity today.   A man’s true male identity is affirmed when He hears his Father in heaven declare that he is “the beloved.”  Romans 8:16 tells us, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”  I would say biblically for a man to be truly comfortable in his own skin, he needs to have the assurance and confidence that his heavenly Father loves him.

But for a man to be comfortable in his own skin spiritually, he has to be honest about who he really is.  This was a difficult hurdle for me as a man.  I hit the wall in my late 40’s.  There was a lot that I did not like about myself.  It was my “shadow self,” that part of me that I was ashamed of and did not want other to see, especially as I was spending all my time trying to be a “good, caring and helpful pastor.”  It was a real trap.  I would try harder and often feel worse.  I was not comfortable in my own skin.  I was “posing” as a Christian man.  You could say that I had on an outward spiritual skin I was posing in, while hiding and even trying to flee from the darkness in me.

Well, men the good news that I have to share with you today is this.  First, God knows all my hiding tricks.  He knows my “badness” better then I do.  He is not even surprised by my false spiritual antics.  He knows when I am not comfortable in my own skin. Secondly, He loving awaits for me to come home to that place of acceptance.  It is my choice. I can bring my real, honest, lonely self to him, with all the mess I have made.  He know this as the real me, someone that needs transformation, that is, a new spiritual skin as it were.  Thirdly, he can not do very much until I am honest enough with myself and come in all of my need.  Having a new skin to be comfortable in is the work of God.  He changes a man from the inside out.

So if you are not comfortable in your present spiritual skin, don’t stay on the “treadmill” of performance and effort.  You will not be at peace with yourself.  Admit your hypocrisy and your hiding.  Come home to Jesus at the Center (your deep soul).  In that place of acceptance  surrender your efforts and allow him to bring about a change in you so that you can be comfortable in your own spiritual skin.  Remember we can not patch up the old and make it look good spiritually.  We need something new.  Jesus warns us, “”No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work cloths; you want fabrics that match.  And you don’t put your wine in cracked bottles.” (Matt 9:16-17 – The Message).

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