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: May 2013

God’s story and your story

I don’t know about you, but I can only absorb so much of what is happening in our culture that disturbs me.  The problems that our culture faces, and the solutions that are being offered make me wonder what will happen to our nation.  In all the commentary, the reality of a sovereign God, who is in control of history and who has invited me to live my life under his lordship can easily be forgotten in the midst of all the voices wanting my attention. I must remember that  God has says, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.” (Isaiah 14:24)  I am so thankful that I belong to the kingdom of God.  I always end up praying, “May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”  That gives me hope and certainty.  Jesus and his kingdom has come and it will endure into all eternity. We may ask as Sam did in his conversation with Mr. Frodo in The Lord of the Rings, “What sort of tale have we fallen into?”

There is a danger for men to get caught up in their small story, with the need to control and understand, that we forget we have entered into God’s story, which is so much bigger.   Listen to this quote from a book entitled, “Deep Mentoring”. “We understand the plot line of God entering our story, but we fail to realize we have entered God’s story.  Our stories are too small.  And consequently our God is to small.” I don’t know about you, but that is a very convicting statement for me as a follower of Jesus when I get my spiritual eyes off the lord and unto my need to understand and control. Eugene Peterson reminds us that, “story is our most accessible form of speech.”  Story is the primary way in which the revelation of God is given to us.  From beginning to end, Scripture is written in the form of story.

God invites us to become a part of his everlasting story  by inviting our participation in what he is doing in the earth.  Jeremiah tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11).  The danger for men is our tendency to turn God’s story into information, to be used, rather then allow God’s story to transform our lives.  We can use “spiritual” information, to take matters  into our own hands, taking charge  of how we will live our lives.

Men, there is the real danger that we can so easily make up our own story of “salvation” that we miss what God is saying to us.  We must never forget that the God’s story in scripture is meant to draw us into a relationship with God.   Jesus tells us, “The Spirit can make life.  Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen.  Every word I’ve spoken to you is a ‘Spirit-word’, and so it is life-making.” (John 6:63 – The Message).  Allow God’s story to impact and expand your story.  Become aware of the ways in which you try to fit God into the “small box” of your story.

Courageous Dads

Men, did you know that there is a strategic new initiative that is designed to help dads across America coming on Father’s Day weekend in June.  A group called “The Fatherhood CoMission Summit” came up with an idea of a “Courageous Dads Simulcast.”  The 90-minute simulcast will be aired Friday, June 14th.  You can go to “Courageous Dads Simulcast” to find out how you to get involved.  Better yet, get a group of guys from your community or church to join together.  The event is meant to engage, encourage, and edify fathers; equip churches to champion the cause of fatherhood; and instill a vision for what Father’s Day should be in our homes and churches.

Dads need all the help and encouragement they can receive in our culture.  It is hard to find a strong father and caring dads portrayed in the dominant media.  Dads are more likely to seen as clueless, rigid, or the butt of constant jokes.  It seem like fathers are expendable, not necessary in the raising of  children.  But the reality is very different.  According to The National Fatherhood initiative: “Children in a father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor.  Children born to single mothers show higher levels of aggressive behavior than children born to married mothers.”

Chuck Colson, who was founder of Prison fellowship, make this observation, “Our prison systems are full of people who never had the example of a courageous father – or any father at all.  Over 70% of long-term  prison inmates come from broken homes, and young men raised in fatherless households are at least twice as likely to be incarcerated as those from intact families.”

I am sure I don’t have to convince the men who read this blog about the truth of the above observations.  Yet I am sure that you need some encouragement and support in your role as dad.  Many dads struggle with busyness, cultural pressures and unreal expectation in trying to be good Christian dads.  You are willing, but you need some support and encouragement.  Why not check out the “Courageous Dad Simulcast.”

Atheist Billboard

Not long ago a coalition of over 18 atheist and secular groups, unveiled a billboard along a San Diego freeway, which read, “Atheism: A personal relationship with reality.”  ‘”We want to express how using intelligence to free oneself of the god idea can open the curtain to a inspiring new outlook,” said spokeswoman Debbie Allen. ” Atheism is positive and offers grounding in the real world.”  The billboard features a curtain with a painting of a sky exposing a stack of books.  “When you raise the curtain between the known and the unknown, there is nothing there but the natural world.  No wizards, no spirits, no deities,” Allen explained.

The message of this billboard screams for a reply.  There simply can be no personal relationship with reality without a personal Creator.   The universe is the result of a personal being, the Triune God of love. who created reality, that is, our world, in order that we might have a personal relationship with him.  The universe is very personal, the result of a loving creation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who have lived in perfect loving relationship from all eternity. We are invited into this perfect relationship.  C.S. Lewis called it “The Great Dance.” In the beginning “God said,’ Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.'” (Gen 1:26)  Then we read in verse 27, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Men, never forget that “personhood” is a precious gift bestowed upon by by our loving Heavenly Father.  Human intelligence comes up empty in an attempt to explain personal relationships.  Paul reminds us in I Cor 2:9, “No one’s seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it – What God has arranged for those who love him.”  (The Message).  When the curtain of awareness is opened, it is not “stack of books” that we contemplate.   But we hear the same words that the Father uttered to his beloved Son,  “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:12)

I pray that when the curtain lifted, that each of  us will see how much God longs for personal relationship with each man reading this blog..  Ponder these wonderful words from the Message (Eph. 1:4-6).  Just let them sink into your heart and soul.  “Long before he laid down earth’s foundation, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.  Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!).  He wanted  us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”

Sharing your pain

At the last “wild man” Saturday, I shared honestly with the men, that I had been in a cave, or an abyss, as I called it in an earlier blog.  I didn’t get very far in, but it was dark enough to give my wife some concern.  In my struggle, I continued to cry out to Jesus for grace and mercy.  I put my trust in him as best I could.  Today I would say that I am at the entrance to the cave, in the sunlight, wanting to move on.  I was surprise at the response of the men.  I have been the spiritual director of this group for years.  So as leader, I should have it together.  It was hard for me to humble myself and show my wounds.  But it caused a deep sharing by every other man about their own pain and the resulting time in a cave.

I was reminded of Paul’s words in II Cor 1:4-5.  “…who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”  One of the lessons I am learning from my “cave time” is the realization that God can use my weakness for good.  When I am willing to show my “emotional scars” and the help I am receiving from God, it can be used in the life of another men.  It is also a good step in humility.  Men, I encourage you not to hid your scars.

Listen to what Brennan Manning has to say in this regard, “Christian who remain in hiding continue to live the lie.  We deny the reality of our sin.  In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift.  If we conceal our wounds, out of fear or shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.  But when we dare to live as forgiven men and women, we join the wounded healers and draw closer to Jesus.”

I hope this blog can be an encouragement to some man, who is existing in a spiritual and emotional “cave” to be willing to share his pain.  To hide is to flee from reality.  But as we share our struggle we help other in their struggle. This is what real life is all about.  We need to face the pain of our struggles, and not keep it to ourselves.  We become  “wounded healers,” helping illuminate the road to recovery for someone else.

Matthew West in song entitled “The healing has begun” has a verse that talks about “our beautiful scars.”  “There is a world full of people dying from broken hearts, holding unto their guilt thinking they fell too far.  So don’t be afraid to show them your beautiful scars.  They’re the proof, you’re are the proof.”   So don’t hide your scars.  Share it for your sake and for someone else who can learn from your story.  Don’t waste you pain.

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