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: October 2012 (page 1 of 4)

Your Dance

What kind of dance are you preforming in going about your daily routine?  Are you part of a sacred dance, or is your dance one of survival.  Giving thought to these two dances can bring clarity as to who and what motivates our life choices.  In the “Sacred dance” we accept the invitation of God to enter into the dance of the Trinity, which has gone on from all eternity.  The “survival dance,” on the other hand, is our attempt to make it through the daily routine on our own.   Instead of being lead by the grace of God, we are constantly evaluating how we can survive by our wits. I would like to draw out the contrast between these two dances for us as men

First the “Sacred Dance.”  C.S. Lewis called this “the Great Dance.”  It is what has been going on from all eternity between the Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  From all eternity they have existed in perfect harmony in a community of love.  The love of the Trinity by nature desires to reach out and to create.  So as human, we were created to enter into this fellowship.  We read in Genesis 1:26 we read, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”  It has helped me greatly to see the Trinity as a dance to enter into, that is, a loving relationship,  rather then just simply a doctrinal truth, discribing the mystery of God.  God invites – He desires – He longs for our participation.  For this we have been created.  It is built into our spiritual DNA.  The spiritual journey is paying heed to the invitation to the dance. 

What a contrast when we try to describe our “dance of survival.”  You can use your own words to describe what it is like.  We all know the dance.  It is so easy to get caught up in “making” life work, while we try to manage all the pieces.  We live a self-enclosed life, doing our best to control circumstances, trying to   understand with our limited perspective.  It feels like survival.  It reminds me of Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death.”  This survival dance produces anxiety, guilt, loneliness and the great dread of wondering where is this dance is really headed

My strong encouragement to us men is to give up trying to dance on our own.  Reach out to the hand that invites you into the sacred dance.  I know for myself, my rhythm is off and on.  There are times when I am dancing to my own tune.  I need to stop long enough to pay attention to the voice of the Spirit within calling me to participate in the life of the Trinity.   I have to choice of either going on in the survival mode or reaching out for the hand that invites me into the dance.  That invitation is always present.  Remember Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).  So the question becomes, “Whose tune are you dancing to?”

November 1st

Devotions from Judy’s heart

I have had a virus this week and am trying to be so careful not to share the bug with Al. He needs to be in Duluth at Shalom this weekend so we are trying to keep some distance between us. I don’t like this and am reminded of what a blessing it is to be in close relationship. But in a spiritual sense, when we become frustrated, afraid, disillusioned, or confused we may put distance between us and the Lord and even blame him at times?  That is the opposite of what we need to do, for He is the very one who wants to help us through each situation and give us the power to overcome.  Instead of running away from Him, we need to run to Him. Even as I look forward to closeness with Al again, I believe the Lord is always waiting for us to come to Him and to seek Him and to find rest, comfort and healing. He tells us to come in Matt. 11, “Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest….Keep company with me and you will learn to live freely and lightly.”  I won’t forget the time  Al was preaching and was saying, “The Lord says, ‘Come to me! Come to me!!’”  As he did this a little boy ran up the aisle and stood there with his hands raised until Al took him up in his arms and held him. What a living demonstration of what He wants to do with us!

Oct. 31st

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Last Saturday we stopped at Sam’s Club in St. Cloud on our way home to stock up. We went to get in a line and the cashier was casually visiting with a friend who she had just checked out. I asked if the line was open and she said “Yes”, but she continued to just visit with her friend. So we moved to a different line and watched as the cashier continued to talk and the line at her register grew long. She was so unaware and unconcerned for others. I thought of the contrast of little grandson Grant. He was sick with 103.6 fever but told his mom he would be just fine and she should go to Colorado and enjoy herself. So unselfish and not thinking of himself. I’m sure we are not always aware when we are self concerned and cause others great frustration. The more we are filled with Jesus though the more we can think of others and not ourselves. “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:26-28. As we put others before ourselves we will find we are truly happy too.

Oct. 30th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

While babysitting at Kurt’s, 8 year old Lily’s chief concern was that grandpa would find her soccer field for her practice and that she would get there in time. You see she has a dream and it is to become a Great Soccer player. She loves the game and makes most of the goals on her team.  We also enjoy going to her games as she plays with all her heart and energy plus. Dreams are born in the heart and mind and may demand sacrifice so that the dream becomes reality.  For her that means lots of practices in all kinds of weather, from cold rain to 103 temperatures at times.  But that doesn’t hinder the dream within her to become a great player.   Dreams must be our own and fit us. They grow and develop slowly but the fruit of them can be enjoyed by the world. Paul’s dream was to spread the gospel and to finish the course as he said in Act 20:24 “If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”  What is your dream? Are you pursuing it and willing to sacrifice that it may become a reality and bring glory to God.

Oct. 29th

 
Devotions from Judy’s heart

While we were at Kurt’s we played the Twister game and the 3 grandkids were all in contorted shapes as they tried to do what the spinner told them. Sometimes their hands were behind the one next to them or feet in between someone else’s etc and they looked like pretzels all mixed up. I thought about how messy it gets when we try to fit into the crowd and be and do like everyone else. We lose our individuality and miss out on what God intended for us.  I like what author Jan Hagberg said, “God gives each life worth, even when we don’t see it” And there are” beams of light that shine from each life, no matter how these lives appear on the surface.” Every life is precious and individual and we aren’t created to be just like someone else. He delights in how He made us and desires the beams of His love to shine out from us to others.   As David said, “You created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Let us be all that He created us to be!

Oct. 27th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Last night the grandkids put on a program for us and were dressed up in adult clothes. Ten year old Paige had on her mom’s dress and 4” heels so she had to be careful how she walked. Eight year old Lily had on her mom’s blouse and scarf and a frilly skirt. Four year old Grant had on a Bat Man outfit and all three of them performed for us. They were also interviewed with such simple questions as their favorite color to deeper ones as to the meaning of life. We laughed until we ached at their antics as we know they are just children and not the adults they are portraying. Sometimes perhaps we think we are more spiritually mature than we actually are. We want God to give us a meat (a big steak) when we are ready only for milk. Sometimes we show our immaturity by our carelessness with our words. Or we refuse to persevere in trials and want to get out of them as quickly as possible. James 1:4 says, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  We may fool others but the Lord sees us as we really are and knows what we are ready for. He is always desirous that we grow in His grace and mature, becoming more like Him.

Oct. 26th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Our grandson, Grant, is quite a little schmoozer and is able to share his feelings well for a little boy almost 5. Lately he has been sick and is hoping to get a special helicopter earlier than for his December birthday. He said to Brenda,” “Mom you’re beautiful but I just really wish you could have gotten me that helicopter. It’s too long until my birthday.”  We laughed but I wonder if we often treat God that way. “God you are so wonderful, so good. Would you give me this new vehicle I have been wanting, or this new position that I want”. It is not about His will but what I want!! God’s ways are perfect and He knows best what is good for us. When we pray according to His will we can be assured it is His desire to do just that.  In Ps. 84:11 it says, “No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”  We won’t necessarily get what we ask for, but we get what is best for us in the long run. Praying in His will help us live in freedom for He will decide what is ultimately good for us as He knows us best!

Oct. 25th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Ann and the boys just got back from Germany and traveled 10 hours on a military plane with the temperature of only 40 degrees. ( I would have  froze!!!) They “sacrificed” by going on a military plane in order to go to a far away land to take in the beauty and sights. Their trip was simply for learning and pleasure, but I think of the missionaries that leave everything behind and go to a foreign country to share the gospel.  The have sacrificed everything for the kingdom. As I read today from Mark 10:29-30, “No one who has left mother or father or children or fields for Me and the gospel will fail to receive a 100 times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields- and with them persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” Are we willing to sacrifice for Him for whatever He may call us to do?  When we are in His will there is a deep joy. I remember being at a missionary camp and seeing the missionaries light up like a candle when they talked about “their country”. God had put His plan and purpose for them in their hearts and it seemed like no sacrifice for them. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, and may we be so open that whatever He asks of us, we are willing to say YES!

Spiritual Desertication

“Spiritual Desertication” is a spiritual phrase that is new to me.  It comes from Pope Benedix XVI.  I am preparing a talk for an ecumenical group of believers, so I thought I would find a quote from the Pope.  He was lamenting the reality that in the West,  people think they can live without God.  The Pope is a realist, in accepting the loss of the Christian witness in the West.  “But,” reasons the Pope, “it is starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing;  its vital importance for us.”  I was struck by his insight and its importance for men, wanting to be godly.

First there is the awareness that we may be living in a “desert time”.  Like the prophet Habakkuk, you may be perplexed, asking God, “Why do you force me to look at evil, stare trouble in the face day after day?  Anarchy and violence break out, quarrels and fights all over the place.  Law and order fall to pieces.  Justice is a joke.  The wicked have the righeous hamstrung and stand justice on its head” (Hab.1:3-4 – The Message).   The former Christian consensus that was prominent in our culture is lost and God seems to be more absent from the “public square.”  Jesus never promised that it would get better.  He warned, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginng of the world until now – and never to be equaled again” (Matt 24:21).  Men we can not expect our culture to do for us what we as believers have to do for ourselves.  Living in a “desert time” is the present reality.   Are you prepared spiritually for the “desert time?”

Secondly it is in this “desert time” that we can discover the joy of believing.  God informed Habakkuk that he was indeed active.  He was using the ruthless nation of Babylon to punish Judah.  This perplexed Habakkuk, yet God’s assurance that justice would be done and a vision of God’s glory brought the prophet to a sure faith.  “But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive” (2:4 – The Message).  During this  “desert time” of Judah, the prophet began to see the hand of God in his society.  He prays “God I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you, and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees.  Do among us what you did among them. Work among us as you worked among them.  And as you do bring judgment, as you surely must, remember mercy” (3:1-2 –  The Message).

Here we find a key for living with a postive faith, finding joy in believing during a “desert time”.  In accepting that God was in the midst of his nation’s “desert time,”  he prays for God to be merciful.  Daniels prayed in a similar fashion.  “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.  Lord, listen!  Lord, forgive!  Lord, hear and act” (Daniel 9:1819).  A person who is crying for mercy, has no where else to turn but to God.  In a “desert time” such as ours, God hears the crys for mercy.  The Psalmist prayed “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer” (Ps 6:9).

Men I believe God is mightly at work in the midst of our “desert time” in America.  I take great comfort in the words of Paul to the Romans.  “But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.  So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20-21).  Allow yourself to be honest with our fears and anxieties before the Lord.  Confess your unbelief, and cry out to him for mercy.  Allow him to fill you with his grace for this day.  Get with a group of other men, who believe the same way.  Support one another and cry out to God together for mercy.

Oct. 24th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

As we traveled to Kansas we went through Pequot and drove by the Bank drive- through canopy where we found shelter one summer night . At that time we were returning home and there were tornadoes around us and predictions of hail. When we saw the bank it brought back memories, but today there were no storm warnings out and we were safe. I have been reading Conversations magazine and this whole issue is devoted to healing.  Sometimes we overreact in areas of hurt and wounding in our lives and need inner healing. Jacci Turner said, “Inner healing is inviting Jesus into the past to see where He was and what He wants to say to us about a painful experience.” We all get stuck in areas of our lives and Jesus wants to free and heal us. Sometimes in healing prayer the results are immediate but often it takes place over time, as in soaking prayers.  Let us care for our wounds and bring all our hurts to the Chief Physician for He has the remedy to heal us. Our wounds can become an instrument of God’s grace.

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