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: July 2014

Being a Grandfather is humbling

Richard Rohr made an interesting observation regarding his journey.  He prays each day for one good humiliation.  I have thought a lot about that comment.  I have asked God to help me accept gracefully those events in my daily life that are humbling.  We read in I Peter 5:5-6, “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 mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”  Men, your family relationships will keep you humble.  Remember through your failure, God will “lift you up.”

I was humbled recently during the visit of our daughter’s family from San Antonio.  I had prayed before their visit that I might be a loving, and accepting grandfather to three teenage boys.  But during a breakfast meal, I blow it, and made an angry remark.  My outburst produced a noticeable chill to our table fellowship.  After a picture taking session, I asked for a family conference with my daughter’s family.  I humbled myself and asked for forgiveness for my “unacceptable attitude.”

I share my story because all the men reading this blog will face similar situations. You will be humbled by your unacceptable behavior or attitude.  It is a given on the spiritual journey.  In the past I would have gone into my “cave,” feeling like a relational failure, while beating myself up, only to emerge as a “pouting”  little boy. (That is hard to admit.)  But praise God, because of his transforming work in my soul, I could accept  failure but not defeat.  Men, don’t let  relationship failure cause you to go down in defeat.  Stand up, accept failure, and cry out for grace to be a man, by admitting your failure.  The devil loves to have you withdraw emotional, brooding  in defeat. Ask yourself how you are feeling? Don’t you feel like a little boy feeling sorry for yourself?

As I look back on that breakfast incident I would like to make two observations.  First, I was able to “man up” and admit my failure.  It takes inner strength and courage to “man up” in our relationship mishaps.  I praise God for his grace in my life.  Remember God will oppose the proud, that is, the resistant spirit in a man.  When a man can humble himself honestly before others, God offers favor (grace).  That means a man will be made stronger in his heart.  It is a weak man, fearful in heart, who will stiffen up and resist vulnerability, thus being opposed by God

Secondly, I was able to teach my three grandsons a very important lesson.  We will all make mistakes in our interactions with each other.  As the grandfather I needed to set the tone, by humbly admitting my intolerant attitude.  Men, I can not tell you how important it is for you to model humility before your wife and children when it comes to relational failures.  Many of us suffered for years because we had fathers who just lived in their caves of self-pity and loneliness.  They brooded in relational defeat.  Don’t go there.  Proverbs 29:23 tells us, “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.”  Allow God to give you honor, by humbling yourself before your family members.

Sin and God’s acceptance

A spiritual writer, who has helped me on the journey is Father Thomas Keating ( I discovered him in 1984). He makes this observation regarding a quote from St Therese of Lisieux, “This is one to the greatest insights of all time into the nature of God and of our relationship to him.”  Here is her  quote: “Even if I had on my conscience every conceivable sin, I would lose nothing of my confidence.  My heart overflowing with love, I would throw myself  into the arms of the Father, and I am certain that I would be warmly received.”  I must confess that in the early days of “my kingdom building” I could not relate very well to this quote.  It might be that some of you men have the same reaction.

I want to share three truths that I have learned over the years that allow me to say “amen” to this quote from Theresa.  I don’t know why it took so long to have these convictions formed in my soul.  But I am motivated to share my story with other men, so they do not have to wallow in the pit of despair, doubt and condemnation.  I encourage each man to take Paul’s warning to the Galatians to heart. “When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace…..What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love” (Gal 5: 4,6 – Message).

First,  I know at the deepest level of my soul that God loves me in all my shame and vulnerability.  When I began to expose the dark side of my heart to God and spiritual friends, I came to know God’s love for me.  I am his beloved.  With Therese, I can throw myself into “the arms of the Father,” being confident of his love.  Yes, and I know that I will be “warmly received”  because “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:1)

Secondly I am a Beloved sinner. I am a man born into sin.  I have developed deep sin patterns in my life, some of which I am still discovering. It is similar to a spiral that goes ever deeper in the cleansing of my soul.  Yes, I am deeply flawed, but I am the beloved of God.  Paul said of himself, “Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.  I’m proof – Public Sinner Number One – of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy” (I Tim 1:15). I say amen.

Thirdly, I am under construction. The image of God within me is tarnished.  Experiencing God’s love for me at a deeper level, has gives me the vulnerability to acknowledge my fallen state before God and other brothers.  It brings a lot of relief to not have to perform, but freely admit that I am tarnished.  I still pretend at times, but not like I did in the past.  Now it is easier to relax and just let it be, knowing that I am “warmly received.”

Gender Depression

Spiritual author, Ronald Rolheiser made this interesting observation about men and women.  “Men suffer more from gender depression than woman do.”  He sites the work of Robert Moore, a University of Chicago anthropologist, who maintains that men struggle to relate to women not because they have lost touch with their feminine side, but rather because they have lost touch with their masculine side.  Men trying to be more sensitive seem to take less delight in their maleness.  “Most sensitive men are depressed,” notes Moore, “They ‘re so afraid of being jerks or idiots, they’d rather be depressed then to act out their masculine energies.”  Men have “inhaled” the feminist critique of maleness.  Regarding men, Moore notes,  “…it doesn’t take much for them to believe that they are bad in their own guts.  Men have a bad self-image, and they’re  apologetic about being male. When we feel like that, there’s going to be a lot of depression.

Men, my personal story fits with these observations.  I have walked down a long road in becoming  more comfortable with my masculine soul.  I have lived with a “covert” (hidden) depression in relating to my manhood.  I worked mightily to build an image of a “godly” man, that was all my doing, while hiding  feelings of inferiority.   I was a “niece” caring guy, who had to hide negative emotions, thus causing “covert” depression.  As the “gender wars” rage on in our culture, I desire to live authentically as a man.  I want to be free from, “having to manage others impressions of me.” (Willard). I take delight in these words from Paul.  “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).  God help me to live in the freedom of my maleness.

This freedom stirs a deep desire within me to help younger men be comfortable in their maleness.  So what do I want you as a reader of this blog to take away from my confession.  I have two observations.  First, let Jesus into the deepest parts of your soul.  Realize He is already at the center loving you.  Jesus said that He and the Father would come and make their home with us (John 14:23).  John tells us, “And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.” (I John 3:24 – Message).  Jesus waits for you to open the doors to all those dark rooms that harbor your fears of being known. The surprise is that he knows all that is hidden there.

The second exhortation follows the first.  Welcome Jesus into your hidden rooms.  Walk with him through all that is found there.  Let the healing light of his presence shed new understanding as to who you really are as a man.  Let him rearrange all the furniture that is found there.  You will be amazed at how he can recreate your true image as a man.  After all, your person hood as a man is a gift from the one who has created you for himself.

Our Secrets & Loneliness

Terrence Real in his book on male depression makes this interesting statement.  “A boy’s disavowal of the “feminine” in himself falls into two  spheres: rejection of expressivity and rejection of vulnerability.”  I wrote recent blog of the need for men to be both tough and tender.  Being expressive of our feelings and having a vulnerable heart is a display of tenderness.  But observes Real, “Invulnerability rob men of wisdom known to most women in this culture.  People actually connect better when they expose their weaknesses.”   Invulnerability sets men up to be the keepers of their secrets, producing men who live in cramped, isolated and lonely fortresses of outward competence, that is, being only tough.

One of our deepest felt needs as men in our culture is not to feel alone.  Men so often feel like they are in the struggle of life all alone.  They feel that they have to tackle the struggles of life without others who care.  Being emotionally isolated and lacking caring relationships is one of the deep hidden cries of the masculine soul in America.  Men live with deeply held secrets that produce a kind of sadness that fills much of their inner life.  It is like a fog that never lifts.  The cry of many men is this: “Who will help me through this fog into a clearing so that I can enjoy life again. I am tired of playing the game.  I want relief.  Is there a place where I can share my secrets.”

I say yes.  It is with other men who are also tried of being niece and polite in their outward church demeanor.  They are looking for a group in which the healing light of Jesus shines brightly, bringing healing the masculine soul.   This kind of  group takes the words of Jesus to heart.  “Does anyone bring a lamp home and put it under a washtub or beneath the bed?  Don’t you put it up on a table or on a mantel?  We’re not keeping secrets, we’re telling them; we’re not hiding things, we’re bringing them out into the open” (Mark 4:21-11 – Message).  In such a group men admit the difficulty of making themselves vulnerable, but are willing to take the risk of learning how with a group of caring guys.  There is real relief when guys can share their secrets.

Men, take the following words to heart, and find another man or a group that is tired of walking in the fog of relational loneliness.  In the days to come we will need soul care groups for men to care for our inner life as the darkness and confusion increases in the culture.  “If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth – we’re not living what we claim.  But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s son, purges all our sin.”  (I John 1:6-7 – Message)  Praise God that the blood of Jesus will cleanse and purify our souls as we share our secrets in the light with other men.  So lets fight for each other hearts and souls.

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