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 2013

Man Up

Craig Groeschel, a pastor and popular author has written a new book for men entitled, “Fight: Winning the Battles That Matter Most.”  In an interview for the Christian Post he said something that got my attention.  He was asked, “What are some of the weapons that God has equipped men with to become warriors?”  This is part of what he said.  “…. we could also pray and as men that’s sometimes  harder to do for whatever reason but we can learn to fight on our knees in prayer, that’s the strongest place we can fight.  Sometimes, the strongest thing we can do and the best weapon you can have is to show unconditional love to someone and to apologize and ask for forgiveness when we’ve wronged someone…”

I agree with the focus on prayer, along with love and forgiveness.  When men are told they need to be warriors and fight, they often think of physical action and confrontational  behavior.  That is not how we are to fight as men. Paul warns us, “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do.  We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the stronghold of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments'” (II Cor 10:3-4).  In Eph 6:12 we are told that “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies…”   Paul talks of “weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.” (II Cor 6:7)   Phillips translation reads, “Our sole defense, our only weapon, is a life of integrity.”  That says it well.  We are to be warriors who live with integrity as our greatest weapon.

Godly men are ready to fight for their families and other who are dear to them. In Nehemiah we read, “Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”  (Neh 4:14).  Men, we do this by prayer and our example of love and forgiveness  (“a life of integrity”).  Nothing is more powerful then integrity in your family. With integrity you fight in prayer by naming and remembering your loved ones.  I do this continually throughout the day as I remember my children and their families.  I cannot stress how vital your prayers are in the spiritual realm.  Don’t ever minimize your prayers. Your family needs your prayers.  You are the spiritual priest in your home.  No one can take your place.  Take you place in integrity

Furthermore, your example of love and forgiveness will send shock waves throughout the spiritual realm.  This is not the way men should fight.  But there were times  raising my family, when we were under attack spiritually, we needed to let some spiritual “air conditioning” into our family.  This happened when I took the lead by humbling myself and asking for forgiveness for my attitude.  Men, we fight by have a genuine heart of love and forgiveness for those closest to us.  Listen again to Jesus instruction to us in Mark 10.  “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.  Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.  This is what the Son of Man has done: he came to serve, not to be served – and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”  We are to be servants in our families, not overlords or absent, passive fathers.

Adrian and his children

As you all know, I am a Viking fan.  Adrian Peterson is our main man.  Without Adrian the Vikings are a diminished NFL football them.  I wrote a blog awhile back about Peterson’s comments on the blood of Jesus. But lately we have heard of a  hidden part of his life.  It has became national news in the sports world that Adrian was the father to a 2 year-old boy he only met on his deathbed and a daughter he welcomed into the world with a waitress about three months ago.  Now Erica Sylon, a former dancer and mother of one of Peterson’s sons says she is aware of five children, including her son, who have Adrian as their father. Sylon noted that as far as she was aware, Peterson takes care of all of his children financially but he could do more as a father.  “I’ll say he takes care of them financially, the ones that I know of.  He gets my son in the summer time but he could do better,” said the former dancer.

I am doing another post on Adrian for two reasons.  The first is the danger of the pedestal, we believers put our superstars on, because of their professed faith in Christ.  I am not questioning Adrian’s journey with Christ, but rather my own mistake of putting him on a pedestal.  I want so much for ourViking superstar to be not only an” “impact player” but also an “impact witness” for Jesus.  But Jesus warns us, “If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit.  If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm-eaten fruit.  The fruit tells you about the tree” (Matt 12:33 – Message).  We are all “damaged fruit” as persons.  It takes time for us all to produce good fruit.  So the lesson for me is to pray that Adrian grows spiritually so that he can become an impact witness.  It take time to produce the good fruit of an “impact witness.”

My second reason is to lament to diminished status of “fatherhood” in our culture.  Adrian’s recent past does not set a good example for young men, who admire superstars.  I will say it again in this blog.  The greatest social failure in our culture is irresponsible, passive and absent fathers.  Until fathers take their rightful place in the family and policy and opinion makers acknowledge the “absence” of real dads, there is, in my opinion, little hope for culture renewal.

Men, I know that all of you who read this blog want to be good dads.  I am now a 72 year old Grandfather.  When I was a very young father, I learned of my responsibility before the Lord to be a father.  Eph. 6:4 was very convicting to me. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  My NIV bible has this note on “exasperate. “Fathers must surrender any right they may feel that they have to act unreasonably toward their children.”  I did the best with the what I had to be a dad.  So dads take heart, if this is your intention, as you come before the Lord.  Crying out for mercy, he will meet your need in the task of fathering.

Our imagination

I keep little notes on my desk, which I have copied down, thinking they would be the making of a good blog for men.  Here is a quote I got from some place that I keep coming back to in my pondering about the lives of men who read my blogs. “We suffer more from our imagination than from reality.”  We read in Isaiah 65:2, “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations…”

Our imagination is a wonderful gift from God. But if our inner gaze is not on the Lord and our minds are not “washed” in the cleansing power of God’s Word, our imagination can cause great harm to our souls. Ezekiel prophesied concerning this washing.  “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh ( Ezk. 36:25-26).  I don’t know about you, but I can imagine myself into some pretty deep holes of fear, worry and anxiety fairly quickly, especially when I think about an uncertain future that I have no control over.  My imagination can run wild at times.

What do I do? There are at least two vital practices that get me settled down and experiencing the peace that passing all my understanding.  First, I turn my heart’s gaze away from myself and my circumstances  unto the Lord,  “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’  Your face, Lord, I will seek”  (Ps 27:8).  With the awareness that Jesus is within me, I direct my imagination, that is, my gaze on him. I am not navel gazing, but being aware of God’s presence.  This I do in faith, knowing this is absolute reality.  God is at the center.  Sometimes it bad enough, that I cry out like the blind man, who wanted so desperately to be with Jesus.  “Jesus, have mercy on me.”  I need help to “center” myself in the Lord.

The second thing I need to do, is allow my mind to  feed on God’s word.  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” (The Message John 6:63).  Men, our imaginations need to have life infused into them, so that we can visualize the truth and action of God in our lives.  This is what Paul had to say about what we should do with our minds. “I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and, meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (The Message – Phil 4:8).

Under the Umbrella

I am leading a small group of men at my church on Wednesday evenings.  We are focusing on various descriptions of God based on the letters of the alphabet. Last week it was the letter “D.”  Our discussion centered on the phrase, “You are the God who DEFENDS me.”  It provoked some interesting discussion.  We struggled with an understanding of when and how  God defends us.  Our discussion brought to mind for me the concept of “the umbrella of protection”  which has been helpful me on the journey.

The question that each man has to ask is this, “Am I under the protective covering of God?”  This implies submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  If a man is not under the Lordship of Jesus, he has no umbrella of protection, especially from the forces of darkness.  He has to find his own covering.  Where does that leave a man?  Out from under his covering, vulnerable, out matched and out witted by the enemy of his soul.  Remember Jesus said that the enemy, “comes only to steal and kill and destroy”  (John 8:10).

I Peter give us specific instruction on how to resist the devil, whom he says, “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (5:8).  We are to “resist him, standing firm in the faith..” (5:9).  But in order to resist and be firm in faith we have to be in the right posture or standing.  Peter exhorts us, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.’  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s might hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (5:5-7)

So there you have it men.  We need daily to submit our proud ego self to the Lord, coming under “God’s might hand,” remembering that God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble.  Grace is the power to resist and stand firm.  But it is found in a posture of humility as we come under his might hand.  So the question  to ponder is whether or not we are under the mighty hand of God.  This is our umbrella of protection.  I know for myself, the practice of humbling myself is a daily practice.  My old willful patterns take me out from my protection.  In humility and repentance I need to daily submit myself to Jesus.  There I can rest in his promise found in Exodus 14:13, “Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Ex 14:13-14)

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