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: August 2012 (page 1 of 4)

Sept. 1st

Devotions from Judy’s heart

The other day Al took me for a boat ride around the Lake. When we got near to our Point the depth finder said it was 6 feet deep. Just a short distance from there it went down to 91 feet. Hard to believe!   It made me think of the deep things of the Lord and how careful we need to be to listen to His word for our lives. Sometimes we are going along in our ordinary life and reading the Word or listening to someone speak when suddenly we know we have just received a deep nugget. It could have come through a new Christian or a seasoned preacher but it doesn’t matter as it hits us deeply in our soul.  We feel we want to hang on to it, to savor it, and to reflect upon what the Lord is saying to us. How we hear and the attention we give is important as the Lord wants to impart His words to our hearts. I read today from Mark 4:24 where He said, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, It will be measured to you, and still more will be added.”  If we embrace what we hear, He will add yet more.  Let us not miss the deep things He sends our way but “pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”  Heb 2:1

August 31st

 

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Our grandkids are coming tomorrow and I am making preparations for them. The toy bins from the storage are now out, little chairs on the deck washed, daily prizes wrapped, food prepared etc. As I do these things there is anticipation for the fun we will have together when they come. Making the preparations also lets them know we love them and are eager for their coming. That is so minor compared to the preparations that the Lord is making for us in glory. Can you even imagine what that day will look like?  In John 14:1 He says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…I go to prepare a place for you.” He is getting things ready for us right now. I think it is pleasing to Him that we make Him our highest priority and to draw closer and closer to Him in trust and love. One day the reunion will be beyond words for we have been enjoying His presence all along and are now “Home”!

Deep Men

Back in the early 80’s I was deeply influenced by Richard Foster’s book “Celebration of Discipline.”  I became aware of the shallowness of my spiritual life.  I had prided myself as being a “spiritual” young pastor with a desire to serve God.  I never forgot the first paragraph, because it was very convicting to me. “Superficiality is the curse of our age.  The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem.  The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”  In this blog I want speak to the need for “deep men.”  Superficiality and instant satisfaction afflict many men on their spiritual journey when they continue to stay in their heads, that is, the control tower of reason and control, will fearing the depths of their souls where Jesus waits for them. 

Men in our culture can live all their lives on the surface, while neglecting the center.  “We are” says Richard Rohr, “a circumference people with little access to the center.  We live on the boundaries of our own lives, confusing edges with essence, too quickly claiming the superficial as a substance.”   When Paul prays that we might, “know this love [God’s love] that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19) he is referring to the center, where Jesus dwells.  If we take time to listen, we come in touch with the cry of our soul at the center.  The Psalmist put it this way. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps 42:1-2). 

Rohr goes on to make this interesting observation about the journey.  “We do not find our center.  It finds us….We don’t think ourselves into new ways of living.  We live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”  This means that we will have to be honest about our life on the edges (circumference) .  This is the reality we have constructed for our selves, making us shallow people.  Coming to the conviction that reality is at the center, we accept, admit, and confess our illusions about reality.   The Spirit helps us in this process. “God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.  If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter.  He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.  He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God” (Rom 8:27-8 – The Message).  Think of it – you are pregnant with reality at the center.

Listen to Rohr once again. “Our journey around and through our realities (circumstances) lead us to the core reality where we meet both our truest self and our truest God.  We do not really know what it means to be human unless we know God.  We only know God through our own broken humanity.”  I want to get testimony to this reality.  I stood on the edges for years, trying to be spiritual, as I manufactured in my own mind, spiritual improvement projects, that would enhance my spiritual facade as a “professional holy man.”  It was a lot of work.  But in the years that I have now dared go to the center, I have came to greater peace with the real me (the good, bad and ugly) and a deeper knowledge of God’s love.  This is my new reality. But I have had take the journey to the center.  Of course, you never fully arrive.  It is a matter of always turning and coming home.

So my advise to any man reading this blog is this: give up the fight for your “manufactured” spiritual reality on the edges. Take it from an old “veteran” of the spiritual battles, it is not worth the fight.  Real life –  freedom, spaciousness, love, acceptance, etc. is found at the center.  Trust me, Jesus waits for you at the center.  Don’t stay in your head.  Spiritual life comes through death, not manufacturing reality.  “Unless a kernal of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  Anyone who loves their life will lose it (living at the edges), while anyone who hates their life in this world ( going to center) will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:24-25).

August 30th

 

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Lately we have had some rich times around the table. It is a place where belonging happens!  As Henri Nouwen says, “The table is a place we invite our friends to be part of our lives. We want them to be nurtured by this same food and drink that nurtures us.”  It is a place where we are joined in heart and soul and each of us has a place.  Steve Smith relates how Jesus used the table as a pulpit or meeting place of the heart too. He engaged those around Him at meal time and the talk was nourishing as much as the food.  It is too bad in our day that so many of our meals may be fast food and we rush on with the rest of our busy lives. Lately I have sat with friends several times around the table as we celebrated my birthday…. Even though the food was good, it was the nourishing of my heart that filled me up. May we use mealtimes as a gathering time to unite us with others and share His love.

August 29th

  Devotions from Judy’s heart

God is so generous with us and always giving and giving.  As our spiritual eyes are open more and more, we will see that He is pouring out numerous blessings throughout our day.
As you know I have been celebrating my Big birthday in many special ways these past days. Our house is adorned with flowers, there are gifts piled on the hearth, I have been taken out for lunch, supper etc etc.

Now these expressions are lovely for my birthday but what if I thought I deserve this special treatment every day. Hummm!  What if I demanded it? Not good!  But isn’t that what we often do with the Lord?  He is sooo good to us in ways we see and also so many ways that we don’t recognize. And yet when a spiritual gift comes wrapped in something we don’t really like… a trial, a loss, a sickness…we rebel. God where are you and why is this happening? But often we grow the most through these gifts that test our faith. He knows just what we need to draw us closer to Him.  May we receive His gifts with hearts of gratitude and faith, as we trust Him who loves us most of all!

August 28th

 

Devotions from Judy’s  heart

Steve Smith says in his book, Jesus Life: “To discover our true identity as the beloved of God is one of the most fundamental rocks we can build our lives on.” Everyone has a need to love and be loved, to care and be cared for, to know and be known, to celebrate and be celebrated. Last night Al and I went to see a movie about sex trafficking at a church in Remer, and it was so sad to see the millions of girls who do not know they are the beloved of God. Most all were abused in their early years and then loathed their lives as prostitutes later. But inside they felt they had no worth until they came to know Jesus and could receive healing and forgiveness.  The difference it made could be seen in their very countenance and miraculous changes in their lives. In Him we find a Mother, Father, sister and brother. We aren’t orphans but belong to a Father who absolutely delights in us. So many need to hear this message.  Prisoners of Hope, out of IHOP, is helping so many come to healing and wholeness.

August 27th

 

Devotions from Judy’s heart

I was touched by a video I saw on www.FFHM.org, (Foundation For His Ministry), which is a mission for orphans and the poorest of the poor in Mexico. I remember meeting the woman who started this mission when Al was in Seminary in California, and she is now 80 years old. On her web site is the story of a young girl named Isabelle was diagnosed  in 2010 with NLP Hodgkins Lymphoma, a rare form of cancer. Her parents had a hard time to give her up into the Lord’s hands to do what He wanted for Isabelle.  She was offered a wish by Make-A–Wish foundation and her wish was to volunteer at an orphanage and hold babies. For a young girl that is quite unusual in the first place as most may want a trip to Disney World or something else. Her wish caught national attention and people gave money so she could take with several large hockey bags full of clothes to the poor. When she got there ( Aug 8,2012)  it must have been a culture shock for her but she played with the kids, fed them peanut butter and milk, visited a migrant camp, and spent time holding lots of orphans. One that especially touched her heart was the littlest orphan that came with no name, and she called him “Little Man”.  She played with and showed love to the children, and her family was even granted permission to take some to the ocean. I don’t suppose she or her family will ever be the same after this experience and they already want to go back. Sometimes surgery cures this type of cancer and so far after Isabelle’s surgery she is CA free.   But no matter what happens she didn’t let this difficult time go wasted. God has a purpose for everything.  “You can’t choose the life you were given but you can choose what to do with it.”  If you want to watch the video go to FFHM Praise Reports & Prayer Requests 8/24/12 and click “Watch” on Isabelle. I know you will be blessed

August 25th

 Devotions from Judy’s heart

Next weekend lots of family will be here at the lake for Labor Day weekend and then there will be a long pause before they are all up again. That means more of a time of quiet for Al and me (although we have retreatants coming too). I thought of Steve Smith’s words about embracing the hidden seasons of our lives and remember Jesus had a hidden life for 30 years.  He quotes Trobisch in saying that real  love is not gained through performance or accomplishment but by “Living with anonymity instead of fame, of living in obscurity rather than trying to be in the limelight all the time.”  The hidden times in our lives can be sacred spaces when we can come to know God better and our true selves. God can use theses times to shape and mold us and help us see things in new ways. Even though we may not all get away to a quiet place like Canaan we can all find a quiet secluded place where we are not tempted to role play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as we can and let the focus shift from us to God and we will begin to sense His grace in new ways.
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August 24th

 

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Have you ever had a dream where you were floating through the air or on water, completely relaxed and free?  Today I went to the Point and the day was so beautiful.   I floated on an air mattress and noticed the blue sky overhead, felt a refreshing breeze, and soaked up the sunrays. It was in a little bit of heaven!  When we allow the Spirit to have complete control of our lives, it seems just like floating, for our cares are given over to Him who is able to handle all of them. It may be surprising where He leads us, just as I floated near the lily pads, on the other side of the dock and into deep water etc.

And when I just relaxed and shut my eyes, I really didn’t care where I went. Sometimes when I opened my eyes, there was an eagle over head, or a kayak near by. I wanted to enjoy the moment and just savor it all. When the Lord has freedom to direct our lives, it is like He leads us to the place where we know we belong…we feel one with Him and we are truly “home”.  Let us give up directing our own lives and float in freedom!

Busyness and Angst

One of my favorite writers is Eric Metaxas.  He now writes on “the Breakpoint” blog.  He made reference to a series on the New York Times blog site concerning anxiety, which has become for many not a disorder, but a part of the human condition.  This anxiety is like an angst, “a kind of dread that comes from the suspicion that life, as we presently live it, doesn’t make sense.”  One recent post discussed busyness not due simply to ambition and drive, but rather a “dread [0f] what might have to be face in its absence.”  Busyness then becomes a kind of existential reassurance and a hedge against emptiness.  This busyness is self-imposed, by people who “feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work.”

When I read these comments I immediately went in my mind to Jesus words in Matt 11: 28-30 from the Message.  “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.”  When I mediate on this passage, I imagine having a center for my life.  Jesus is my “existential reassurance and a hedge against emptiness.”  With Jesus at the center, I will find real rest, while experiencing “the unforced rhythms of grace.”  He is the still center in the midst of my active life.  

Finding my center means knowing that at the deepest place within me, beyond my understanding and experience, Jesus abides there.  He is my center.  Jesus promised, “My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23).   Paul express it as “this mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).  I John 3:24 give us the assurance with these words, “And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us”   Because of this reality John goes on to say, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (I John 4:4).  So men in the midst of all your craziness and the demands on your life there is a still, strong center.  It is Jesus.  He is your rock, your fortress, you shelter in the storm.  You are not empty, but full.   Think of it – He waits for you at the center.  Don’t neglect his voice.

So our task each day is to learn to live from the center. I believe that God is calling a new generation of men to live “soulful lives.”  Richard Rohr puts it nicely when he observes, “We are circumference people, will little access to the center.  We live on the boundaries of our own lives….confusing edges with essence, too quickly claiming the superficial as substance”  A soulful man know that he has a center as he learn to give attention to this ultimate reality within him.  He knows that at the core he can be at home, finding real rest.  It is from this place within, that he find the courage, strength and wisdom to arrange his priorities according to the one who has called him to given himself to something bigger then himself, learning to respond to his calling from God.

Rohr goes on to say that we do not find our center, it finds us. “We do not think ourselves into new ways of living.  We live ourselves into new ways of thinking – the journey around and through our realities (circumstances) lead us to the core reality where we meet both our truest self and our truest God.”  We begin as Jesus promised to recover our life.  Jesus invites us to walk with him and work with him.  Then remember this promise from Jesus, “I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  There is a lifestyle to be envied by anyone suffering from angst.

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