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 2012 (page 1 of 3)

Sept. 29th

Devotions from Judy’s heart
We are enjoying all the special amenities this hotel in the mountains offers and feel “spoiled”!  It’s almost like home with dishwasher, sofa, recliner etc.  This is a treat as we don’t usually get such a luxurious room and so many services. Now this is fine for this time, but what if we think we NEED to have this every time we travel?  It doesn’t take long to get use to comfort and ease!   Today I read from Col 3 about setting our hearts on things above and not on early things. It would be so easy to get caught up in all the earthly comforts of life but the apostle Paul adjusted to both plenty and want. “I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  Phil 4:12 Can we be thankful when we have much and when we have little?

Sept. 28th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Today as we were in the mountains, we noticed how quickly the weather changes.  Al had on shorts and was comfortable when the sun was out, but it wasn’t long before it clouded up and it got quite cool. Then before we knew it, there were raindrops and we had to go for cover. I thought of how we need to be prepared spiritually for the “weather”.  We can be enjoying wonderful fellowship and all of a sudden the spiritual climate changes and we need to put on protective “armor”. I’m sure we have all walked into a hornet’s nest unexpectedly and we had to act quickly.  Let us be alert and aware of what is happening in the spiritual realm and call out when we are in need of His help. As it says in I Peter 3:12, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer.”

A Further Journey

I assume that most of the men who are reading this blog are in the second half of life, that is, they are probably past forty years of age and are wondering what is next in their life.  In the first half of life a man needs to build his container, giving him a strong sense of who he is.  In the second half of life, which is the further journey, he needs to find the contents that the container was meant to hold.  In the first half of life we discover the script for our life, and in the second half we actually write and own the script.  I happen to agree with Richard Rohr, that we are primarily a first half of life culture.  Our focus is on success, achievement, self image, security, etc.  There is little guidance for men, when it comes to the second half.  Why?  Because we are a lazy culture, even spiritually. 

It is natural for us to want to stay with the familiar, the tested and the known.  But the second half of our life is learning to fnd “the task within the task.”  We are afraid to ask, “What am I really doing when I am doing what I am doing?”  There comes that time in a man’s life when “the inner promotings” that orignate within his soul, call for attention.  It is at this point that men have a choice.  Either we wake up to what is going on in our soul, or we put the lid on this prompting and continue on “automatic pilot,” doing what we have always been doing; staying in control and having a handle on what is going on in my life.

Men, I want you to know that I am speaking from very personal and painful experience.  Very few men volunteer for the further journey.  Why? Because it means a lot of “unlearning” and being brought to the place of humility. It will usually take some failure, falling or disappointment to get your attention.  Trust me, this is a moment of grace.  This can often be the only way God can get a man’s attention – through his failure.  I promise you, that you will come to a crisis, if you already have not, and it will cause you to make a choice.  Either you will fight on in what you think is best, or you will realize that God is calling you into a whole new understanding of your journey in life.  It is a time when your “soul life” which has been neglected during the first half demands attention.

As the writer of this blog, I am deeply committed to help men on their “further journey.”  Because we have so few men in our culture who have been willing to be taken on the further journey of the second half of life, there are few elders who can point the way.  I acknowledge I still have a long way to go, but when I read Richard Rohr’s book “Falling Upward,” I came to the deep realization that God had indeed helped me on the further journey.  It has kindled a passion in me to help younger men who are just beginning the further journey

While I had some help from others on a person to person basis, the path that was mapped out for me through my stumblings and failures was not visualized for me by others.  My burden in this blog is to be like a “watchmen” and “guide” for men who have the courage and desire to allow God to change them from the inside out.  To let go of the familiar and give control of who you are and your further journey to God is a very courageous act.  In my opinion, most Christian men would rather stay home, having fallen asleep, living life with little passion and purpose.  I want to stand by the man who says, “I am ready to go on the further journey.” 

Finally listen to Paul.  Here is a man on the further journey. “I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself.  If there was any way to get in on the resurrction for the dead, I wanted to do it…..Friends, don’t get me wrong; By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus.  I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back” (Phil 3:10-11, 13-14  – The Message)

Sept. 27th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Did you read the news where a man in N.C.  gave out $5 bills on his birthday as he was so grateful he had a home, job etc. No strings attached, just giving money to strangers from a full heart. Do we bargain with the Lord and tell Him, if you do this or that for me, then I will give more in the offering etc?  Or do we tell him if you heal my loved one, I will go on a Missions trip? Or do we acknowledge with gratitude the myriad of blessings he sends our way every day?  God loves to give to us and often uses others as His instruments to give us gifts.  We see this first hand as tomorrow we are heading for two nights in the mountains, as a gift from our kids. What a wonderful and generous gift! Just as we want to thank our kids, I’m sure God loves to hear our thanks, and also to see our desire to in turn give to others. I read this morning from Ps.. 112, “Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely.”

Sept. 26th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Colorado Springs, after much anticipation and hours of traveling. We came with birthday gifts for John Mark and had a celebration last night. What 3 year old doesn’t like gifts and he is no exception. He tore open each gift and ohhhed  and ahhhhed , even about the clothes. Now it makes sense that a 3 year old would rather have toys than clothes but he did so well in expressing thanks.  I wonder about us. When the Lord gives us gifts that are wrapped in trials or hardships, do we put them aside and express disappointment and anger?  Or do we open them up and try to see the value of the gift, even if it wasn’t what we were expecting or wishing for. Some of the best gifts for growth come in packages we would not choose. But maybe they are just what we need and will carry us in the days ahead and bring growth. Let us receive each gift from Him who knows us so well and loves us beyond measure.

Sept . 25th

 Devotions from Judy’s heart

When I packed for our trip last week, I was not anticipating the weather turning so cold as we traveled south. While we were at Lily’s soccer game, I was freezing and couldn’t wait to get home to warm up.

We have no control over the weather and have to deal with what is at the time. We are the ones that have to change and dress accordingly. No amount of complaining and wishing for it to be different will do any good so we may as well just accept what is.  That is the way with things that happen in our lives that are out of our control. We can waste all kinds of energy trying to change things, complain to others, and even ignore what is happening. But why not rather go to the One who has promised to walk with us through the difficult times and receive His grace?  He will give us the “covering” we need and shelter us under His wing. The first game we went to caught us by surprise by the cold wind. but the second game, we dressed much warmer and were ready for it!  Let us move with the flow of the Spirit and not be caught unaware!

Sept. 24th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

While at Kurt’s we have observed how different each of the grandkids are and their involvement in various activities that befit them. Paige is Miss Clean so likes volleyball that is indoors and not too hot or sticky.Lily is very competitive and doesn’t mind at all in getting dirty and hot if they are winning. Grant is very social and a free spirit. He likes to be teamed up with a special friend at soccer and can be out in the field giggling and dancing around. Each one is doing what they enjoy and they seem happy to watch their siblings in their events too. Why do we often want others in the Body to just like us rather than different and able to bring a new perspective into our lives?  Can we rejoice when others are succeeding in their lives and we may not be doing as well at the time? We are told to rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those who weep. ( Rom. 12:15)  We are not to compare ourselves for it says in Rom. 6:4 “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.”

Sept 22nd

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Last night we went to Grant’s soccer game and it was fun to watch as they were all around 4 years old.  Now as you can imagine, the game was not played to perfection as they are young and just learning the rules. They had a very tall big coach with a very patient heart. The kids fell down a lot but got up and continued, and enjoyed the time. They didn’t expect perfection from themselves, nor did their coach or most of the parents. (Only one dad on steroids hollered at his son and expected him to do well on his first time of.playing.)  Why do we think we should live a perfect Christian life and not make mistakes?  Of course we will!  I am reading Richard Rohr’s book, “Falling Upward”, and he said, “We grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right.”  That’s because we can’t hide our imperfection and know we need His grace. It causes us to be more forgiving of others too. When we fall or fail, we need not fall apart.  The Pharisees had a hard time to grasp that as they were all about doing it right, especially before the eyes of man. Let us be like Grant falling down and getting up and enjoying the game, without pointing blaming others!  “It is when I am weak that I am strong.” II Cor 12:10

Sept. 21st

Devotions from Judy’s heart

For some time my laptop computer has not been very bright when it was running on battery, and our TDS man said he had fixed that when he came out last week. But when I was showing Kurt some pictures last night, it was still so much darker than it should be. It took Kurt only a couple minutes to fix the problem as he pressed two keys and it lightened it all up. Wow! It made so much difference and I don’t know how long it would have taken me to figure it out, if ever!  Isn’t that the way it is with the Lord?  Things in our lives can seem dark and complicated and we really can’t figure out what to do. We get frustrated and even get use to living in dimness. But as we call out to Him, His answers can come in so many different ways… often through just the right person who connects with us at just the right time. Or could be something we read. I remember a gal saying she had been plagued with headaches and lack of energy etc. and thought she may have brain cancer.   While waiting for a plane, she picked up a magazine and happened to read all the symptoms of Lyme’s. She went to her Dr. and sure enough, after suffering for months, she got the medication and felt great again. God is so awesome, and we just need to bring everything to Him and wait for His answers in whatever form they come.

Falling Into the Hand of God

As I continue to write this blog each week, I am receiving conformation that it is being read by a growing audience of men.  So each week I wonder what I should I write that will help men.  Much prayer and thought go into these words.  So today I am taking a “leap into the blue.”  I have a strong sense that I should write about the struggle all we men have with the latent power of  sin in our hearts.  Paul expresses this delimna well, “I realize that I don’t have what it takes.  I can will it, but I can’t do it.  I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it.  I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.  My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions.  Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the best of me every time” (Rom 7:19-20 – The Message).   We will carry our “fallen” nature to the grave. Growth on the journey is having a realistic view of our “falling” enabling us to learn from our “falls.” 

Recently I came across these helpful words from Bernard of Clarivaux and Julian of Norwich. First from Bernard.  “The just fall into the hand of God and in a marvelous manner, even sin itself works for them towards righeousness.  ‘We know that for those who love God all things work together for good’  (Rom 8:28).  Does not a fall work for us for good if we become more humble and more careful because of it?”  Our falling is into the hands of God, not out of the hands of God.  So the question is not will we fall, but how we respond to the  falling.  If we humbly acknowledge our sin and look to God for mercy, only good can come out an incident of falling.  But if we pull away in shame, rebellion or blame we move further from God. Remember men, God’s love is not conditioned by our behavior.  He loves you unconditionally, period.  In your falling, you fall into the arms of love.  This is a reality we accept by faith.  Trust me when I say, it takes some getting used to the idea of falling into the hands of love when we fall.     

Then Julian of Norwich wrote this about our sinning. “We shall see in heaven for all eternity that though we have sinned grievously in this life, we were never hurt in God’s love, nor were we ever of less value in God’s sight. This falling is a test by which we shall have a high and marvelous knowing of love in God forever.  That love [of God] is hard and marvelous that cannot and will not be broken for [our] trespasses.” In other words, our sins, which we offer to God in repentance, are good in that they remove our complacency and self-reliance, forcing us to rely not on our effort to stop falling but on the mercy of God.  Michael Casey put it this way. “To believe that somehow God is not absent or dismayed by our grievous failures is a giant stride in the right direction.  It means that we have transcended all those inner voices of self-reproach that we have accumulated in a lifetime and have begun to accept as true the Good News that Jesus brought us.” 

A good spiritual practice in confession of our sin, is the use of Psalm 51.  There we have David’s heartfelt confession before God. He begins with a declaration of God’s love. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions” (v 1).  He concludes with his confession with praise.  “Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declar your praise” (v15).  He ends up by declaring that what God looks for is not our effort at self improvement or the justifcation of our station in life, but a humble heart.  Here is the way The Message puts it, “Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you.  I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered.  Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice” (vs16-17).  Accepting fully the reality of your “falling” in the presence of God, will produce in you a humble heart, that is grateful for the mercy of God.

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