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 2013

The Blood of Jesus

You might be wondering why I am writing a blog about “the blood of Jesus.”  Well, I have a good reason for doing so.  We are on the brink of a new NFL season.  Here in Viking country, hope springs eternal for another super bowl appearance.  Our reigning  league MVP, running back Adrian Peterson was quoted as referring to the blood of Jesus.  That got my attention.

Peterson, in a featured segment on Monday Morning Quarterback, recalls one of his most memorable on-field interactions from the 2012 season when an unnamed linebacker from the Detroit Lions approach him after a successful game and asked him: “Adrian, what you taking? What juice you using?  I gotta [sic] get me some of that.”  His response to a  fellow NFL player was: “I’m juiced  on the blood of Jesus.  Faith is what got me to this point.”  Peterson goes on to write that when the Vikings played the Lions later in the season, the same anonymous linebacker  approached Peterson and said: “Appreciate you saying that.  You opened my eyes.”

I am not sure that our man Adrian realized how biblical he was with the phrase, “juiced on the blood of Jesus.”  Listen to what Jesus had to say about his flesh and blood. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…..For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them” John 6:54-56).  There you have it!  Jesus is saying that if we drink his blood along with eating his flesh, he will live in us.  A real man can drink the blood of Jesus.  Remember this is not voodoo. But what does this mean?

Again, men, we have to put aside our logical, rational take on these words.   I think we all can agree that it means some kind of deep commitment of taking Jesus into our deep inner being.    We consume Jesus, by digesting him in the same way we eat and drink.  Then Jesus says, “I will remain in you.”  Jesus becomes food and drink for our souls.  He gives us strength and nourishment like nothing else.  His blood, as he says is “real drink.” Nothing quite like the blood.  Men, we are talking about something profoundly intimate.  For some of us this means receiving Jesus during communion or the Eucharist.  But for all of us, it surely means that we feed and drink personally of the Lord Jesus by opening our hearts to him.

So I guess I also am “juiced on the blood of Jesus.”  When I put my trust in him as best I know how, He give me the strength and grace to keep on keeping on.  I have been living through a period of time in my life, when that is the most important thing I could do.  I simply cry out to Jesus for mercy to help me, sometimes literally moment by moment.  I feed and drink  the presence of Jesus in my life.   I keep my eyes on him, asking Him give me what I need for each day.  Men, are you like our man, #28, “Juiced on the blood of Jesus?”  Could this be part of Adrian Peterson’s success?  I would like to think so.  I admire his boldness in talking about the blood.  That is highly unusual for a reigning MVP and number one rated NFL player.

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Missing Your life

“Is it possible for people to miss their lives in the same way one misses a plane” Walker Percy asks in his novel “The Second Coming.”  His character, Will Barrett wonders if he has “missed” his life.  “Not once in his entire life had he allowed himself to come to rest in the quiet center of himself but has forever cast himself forward from some dark past he could not remember to a future which did not exist.  Not once had he been present for his life. So his life has passed like a dream.”  This is the sad commentary of many men in our culture, not being present to their lives

Men, we should never allow ourselves to passively neglect our soul life.  Our default mode is to “sleep through life.”   Jesus live at the center waiting for us to pay attention to his voice and presence.  We can live a life of frantic activity, while neglecting the cry of our souls for attention.  We can live all of our days “asleep” to who we really are and can be in Christ. My prayer is that you might be a “soulful man.”  In our day the church needs men who are “soulful,” that is, men who are fully alive, fully human, living authentic lives of integrity because they live from the center and not on the surface of life.  They are strong in spirit because they are soulful.

Listen again to the words of Jesus in Matt 16:24-26, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (NLT). Jesus is very clear – if we hang onto our view of life, we will lose it. You will not know who you are.  But if we give up, that is, let go of the controls, we will  save our life.  Do you feel sometimes that you are losing your life?  Not knowing who you really are as a man, is a sure sign that you are losing your life.  Ask yourself, “What am I becoming?”  Even more haunting is the question, “What have I become in my primary relationships?”  These question are soulful questions. They are the kind of questions that are asking us to walk up to what our soul is saying to us.

I strongly exhort each man reading this blog not to be afraid of their soul life.  Yes, you might have fear and anxiety about what is there.  But never forget, that Jesus waits for you at the center.  He knows what is there, but is now waiting for you to go with him into those hidden places to bring the light of his presence.  I close with this wonderful prayer from Paul in Eph. 3:18-19, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted an established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Having Freedom

Freedom is greatly abused in our culture.  Without a biblical basis for understanding freedom, we are finding that the more we cry for freedom, the less freedom we are experience as a culture.  Jesus tells us, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” ( John 8:32).  Later on in the same chapter (v 36) we read, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” The truth that Jesus offers us will set us free.  Of this freedom Paul exhorts us, “Christ has set us free to live a free life.  So take your stand!  Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you” ( Gal 5:1 – Message).  So indeed there is real freedom for us.  But how do we experience and exercise freedom in a culture where freedom is so misunderstood and abused.

Os Guinness is a Christian sociologist who is very observant of  our culture from a biblical point of view.  Here are two observation he makes regarding freedom. “The greatest enemy of freedom is freedom.  Freedom requires an order, or a framework, and the only appropriate framework for freedom is self-restraint, and yet self-restraint is precisely what freedom undermines when it flourishes.”

The second quote has to do with two types of freedom. “Negative freedom is freedom from – freedom from oppression, whether it’s a colonial power or addiction to alcohol oppressing you.  You need to be freed from negative freedom.  Positive freedom is freedom for, freedom to be.  And that’s what’s routinely ignored today.”

Men, there are two observations that I want to make regarding Guinness’ comments on freedom.  First the balance between freedom and self-restraint.  In our present cultural environment there is hardly any emphasis on self-restraint. which is needed to preserve real freedom.  Paul reminded the Galatians about the balance between the two.  “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life.  Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom” (Gal 5:13 – Message).  Our restraint comes in our submission to the will of God.

The second comment bring into focus the emphasis in our culture of negative freedom.  There is the cry to be freed from many things.  But little is said about what we are freed for and what will this freedom produce in our lives.  Paul reminds us that real freedom comes in giving ourselves to Christ. “You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom.  Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act.  But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do.  But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one who commands set you free to live openly in his freedom” (Romans 6:16-18 – Message). Christ frees us to be who we were always truly meant to be.  That is real freedom – freedom to be.

Masculine and Feminine

Larry Crabb has written a new book for both men and women entitled “Fully Alive.”  The subtitle is entitled,  “A biblical vision of gender that frees men and women to live beyond stereotypes.”  I like the book. I appreciate his use of masculine and feminine in his discussion about gender.  Genesis 1:27 tells us that when God made humans in his image he made then Male and female.  The question becomes, “How do woman reflect something of the nature of God, as well as men?”

I want to quote from an interview he gave to Christianity Today.  My purpose is to highlight the gender role of masculine.  Crabb points out that the word for female (neqebah) means one who is open to receive, having an invitational style of relating.  The word for male (zakar) means one who remembers something important and then does it.

Regarding the feminine this is what Crabb had to say, “Femininity is a relational style – an invitational way of relating to other people that says, ‘I invite you to come to me.  I’m not here to control you.  If you move toward me in godly movement, you’ll find an inviting and nourishing and supportive, wise woman who’s going to be there with you in all the godly movement that you make.”  Regarding the masculine Crabb observes, “Masculinity is a relational style of seeing a situation that needs to be dealt with.  Rather than passively letting someone else deal with it or aggressively taking over and bossing everyone around, masculinity moves gently and meaningfully into the situation.’

While women express the invitational nature of God, men express the movement of God into relationships.   This is seen in the relationship of the Trinity, points out Crabb. God, the Father, first moves towards and into the Son and give all he is to the Son (relational movement), while the Son invites and receives all that the Father gives him (relational invitation). Then the Son moves  right back to the Father (relational movement).

As men while we  are also responsible for expressing the invitational nature of relationships, our primary task is to express relational movement. Men, I don’t know about you, but taking the initiative to move into intimate relationship with my wife and others can be very difficult at times.  I would rather run from such challenges.  Others would prefer to fight.  What I can certainly gain from Crabb’s description of the masculine is this.  We are meant to move into relationships in a loving and humble manner.  For example, don’t expect your wife to take the first step.  We are to set the tone of deepening and enhancing our relationship with our wife. along with others who are close to us.  Remember the masculine means movement.  This means taking the initiative in relationships.  If it is hard, ask God for the grace to move forward with humility and love.

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