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: July 2012 (Page 1 of 4)

August 1st

Devotions from Judy’s heart

As you received the picture of us tye-dyeing our shirts, you can see how we put rubber bands in many places throughout the shirts. Then we sprinkled on the dye and let it sit overnight before washing and seeing the beautiful results. I thought of how it is much like our lives when circumstances come that may cause us restrictions and pain… situations of hard learning etc. It is not pleasant and yet necessary for our growth. Then grace (dye) is poured out on us and we wait while God does His work in our hearts and we remain still. But the glorious thing is that when the bands are removed we can see the beautiful pattern of what He was doing all along in our lives. He knows what it takes for each of us and sees the end result. Our part is not to resist His hand on us but cooperate and trust that He knows what He is doing. Notice how different all our shirts are and His work is unique in each of our lives.

July 31st

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Sometimes it seems like many things go wrong at once and yet we are told to be thankful for trials.  The other day, after getting our new boat home, through the channel and into our lake and dock, the new motor would not start.  The grandkids were disappointed as we were going to christen the boat and have a celebration, a wiener roast etc, which we postponed.   The same day I also got a huge bill from my Dermatologist, and other things that went wrong. We have choices when such things happen. We can complain, blame God, have self-pity etc or we can trust Him and give thanks.  I read from “Jesus Calling” just after this happened, “Thanking Me for trials will feel awkward and contrived at first. But if you persist, your thankful words, prayed in faith, will eventually make a difference in your heart. Thankfulness awakens you to My Presence which overshadows all your problems. “  How timely!   As it says in Ps. 16:17,,”I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.”

July 30th

Devotions from Judy’s heart
Words are so important and have the power to build up or tear down. We have all said things we wish we could take back but it is too late. I’m sure we have all received words that have wounded us too.  In Matt. 12 it says that we will have to give account for every careless word we speak. With the grandkids here we are doing something to help us with our words. I gave each of us 10 pennies and if someone hears us say a negative thing about someone else they get to take a penny away.  Before they leave to go home, whoever has the most pennies will get a prize. So far a few pennies have been exchanged and I’m sure more will in the future. In Prov. 16:24, it says that “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”  May we have up-building words for others that will bring health and healing to our souls.

July 28th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

We are enjoying the grandkids so much but if you looked at our house, you would say it is rather messy. Does it matter? NO!  Usually things are in their place, but the counter is cluttered; the Scrabble board is on the floor with games going on continually; comics here and there and some hidden under the sofa etc. You get the picture. But I read from Jesus Calling today, “Glorifying and enjoying Me is a higher priority than maintaining a tidy, structured life. Give up your striving to keep everything under control- an impossible task and a waste of time….Let me prepare you for the day that awaits you and point you in the right direction. …Keep your eyes on Me, enjoying Peace in My Presence.” 

Let us be light hearted and enjoy the present rather than being tidy and structured, lest we miss the peace and joy of His presence.

July 27th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

We don’t know how many days we have here on earth but let us live them fully. In Ps. 102 it says our days pass quickly as smoke and are like evening shadows.  We are also told to number our days that we can get a heart of wisdom. ( Ps. 90)  We are to “rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us” … Since we don’t know how many days we have it is important to live each day as if it were our last day. We need not be consumed with worry for tomorrow or stuck in regrets of the past but to be open to all that the Lord has for us in each new day. In Sarah Young’s book, “ Jesus  Calling,”  are the words, “At the end of your life-path is an entrance to heaven. Only I know when you will reach that destination, but I am preparing you for it each step of the way. The absolute certainty of your heavenly home gives you Peace and Joy, to help you along your journey. You know that you will reach your home in My perfect timing: not one moment too soon or too late.”  Let us live each day fully as we have the wonderful hope of heaven that awaits us!

July 26th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Yesterday at Renewal class we talked about gratitude. Isn’t it refreshing to be around grateful, positive people? They may say thanks to people around them, like the cashier, that others neglect to thank. Their attitude can be contagious. If we were one of the crowd of 5,000 that Jesus fed, imagine how grateful we would be that the little boy with the 5 loaves and 2 fish would share his lunch.  At our house, our 3 grandsons come to the table full of anticipation. Yesterday they had mounds of potatoes with their meatloaf dinner and fresh gluten-free cookies on a stick for desert. With contented expressions on their faces they said words of gratitude for the meal. It makes me want to make more things that they love.  Paul even thanked me for cleaning today. ( his job at home is to clean and scrub the bathroom etc.)  How good are we at expressing gratitude to those around us and especially to our Heavenly Father?   I think He loves to give to His children but also to receive words of thanks.  Ps. 118:1 “Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good!!!!!”

The Big Deal

Pastor Tim Keller, who has had a significant ministry to men in New York City, has found that gaining or losing significance is clearly one of the basic motivational drives in the lives of the men he has known.  He has observed that the thought of failure to most men is such a nightmare that it can be equated only to a kind of psychological death.  So could it be possible that most men are driven not primarily to succeed, but rather are driven not to fail.  This reality is compounded when it become apparent that most men do not know how to share with others men their fears, particularly if it might make them look weak or like a failure.  Inevitably, when men clam up, they will carry their load alone and withdraw emotionally from others.

I can give testimony to this dynamic in my life.  I spent 15 years (1976-1990) in a wonderful ministry at Redeemer Lutheran church in Des Moines, Iowa.  But in the midst of all the good things God seemed to be doing in our church, I had made the success of the church an idol.  I took pride in the fact that we were a unique “charismatic” Lutheran church in central Iowa.  But the last year saw the dismantling of that ministry.  What I thought was impossible happened.  I was not able to keep the church united with “my caring pastoral presence.”  Along with the church being an idol, my pride in being a caring pastor was exposed.  I left a broken man.  It took me a year to recover.  There were days when I actually wondered if I could continue as a pastor.

That happened over 20 years ago and it changed the course of my journey.  At the age of 50 I finally was able to give up what I called “the big deal.”  I did not have to be important or significant any longer.  Being successful and have a rising career in the Lutheran church receded as a focus.  I went to a small, insignificant church in rural Minnesota and started to learn to “just be” and see God in the ordinary.  My self worth and image of self had less to do with my performance.  I began to simply enjoy the presence of God in my life as I went about being a pastor. I could even accept the fact that other pastors saw me as insignificant in my country church.  I finally could find peace living as a “nobody” in the eyes of the greater church.

My testimony to any man reading this blog is this – my giving up “the big deal” brought me a freedom and joy that I had not known when I was caught in my “performance trap.”  The pressure was off – I had a peace and restfulness that I had not known before. I  learned that “being” and “becoming” who I am in Jesus, is much more spiritually rewarding then having to perform so as to be signifcant in the eyes of others, especially pastors. 

Two passages of scripture became important in my “recovery” from having to live with “the big deal.”  The first was in Isaiah 30: 15.  “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength..”  The four words repentance, rest, quietness and trust became important in those next years in rural Minnesota.  As I learned to repent of my self-righteousness behavior in needing to be successful, I found rest from having to perform.  I began calling myself  “a recovering pharisee.”  Living a quiet life of contemplation began to be part of the rythmn of life, as I trusted God to do his work in his way through me. 

The other passage was from Ps. 18:19.  “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”  “Spiritual space” became a new reality.  I was not as full of my ideas, plans and desires.  It was more about what God wanted and who he was in my life.  I found spacious in me that allowed for freedom and joy.  The fear of what people thought of me receded as I began enjoying simply “practicing the presence of God.”  I was still highly motivated but for the right reasons.

July 25th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

The search is on!  We are looking for a boat for our family’s use these days and going various places trying to find the right one. Also, we took the grandsons to Brainerd yesterday and they searched for a prize which is like an early birthday gift. They combed all the toy shelves and one came back with his “treasure” and the other 2 are still looking. But isn’t the search good, as it causes us to weigh what is important etc? We are told many times in scripture to seek and to search. Just this morning I read from Prov. 2 and it says to seek wisdom like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure.  We are also to seek righteousness and humility; to seek the things that are above; to seek His Kingdom. We are promised if we seek Him diligently we will find Him, the one our hearts are made for. (Prov. 8:17) Let us not be passive or apathetic, but let us be actively seeking and searching for then we will find the Real Treasure!

July 24th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

The other day I was using a funnel to pour a big jar of olive oil into a smaller container. I started by using a large funnel but realized it was too big for the smaller hole in the oil bottle. I noticed some of the oil spilling down the sides of the bottle. But I had a smaller funnel and it fit perfectly and I could pour in the rest of the oil without spilling a drop. I thought of how sometimes we may try to pour into others things that they are not ready for….it doesn’t fit at the time for them and much of what we try to teach is lost. But if we pour out what is for the season they are in and for where they are in their journey, it will be taken in and used. Let us not “overload” others with things that were not meant for them at the time..“Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right.” Prov. 16:13

July 23rd

Devotions from Judy’s heart

The other day I played a lengthily game of Scrabble with 2 of our grandsons. It was down to the last few letters and one grandson was prancing around thinking he won by 20 points, since his brother had only 1 letter left. I told him to be humble and not to celebrate before the time.  What do you suppose happened? His brother played his last letter on a double word and they ended up in a tie. That was a disappointment for the one who was leading. Sometimes we think we know how things will turn out and then God does a “fast one” on us. He humbles us to let us know that we are not in control and don’t know how things will turn out in the end.  In Prov. 16:18 it says that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”  We don’t know everything but “God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.” ( I John 3:20). Let us listen to His Spirit’s leading and not jump to conclusions that we know!

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