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: September 2014

Being a soulful man

Jesus was soulful man.  He was in touch with  his deepest emotions and reactions to life. Just before his death, Jesus he became deeply troubled.  We read in John 12:27, “Now my soul is deeply troubled.”  The same word is used to describe Jesus’ reaction at  the tomb of his good friend Lazarus, “Deep anger welled up within him and he was deeply troubled” (John 11:13).  Here we have a snap shot of the soulfulness of Jesus.  He was in touch with and able to express what was deeply troubling him in his soul.  The supreme example of Jesus being in touch with his soul is during his prayer in the garden, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44).  Imagine what Jesus must have felt and said during this prayer.

My burden in this blog is to exhort men to pay attention to the life of their soul; to become a more soulful men.  Why?  Because the soul is the deepest part of you; the real you, not your idealized self or who others think you are.  But John Ortberg reminds us that the soul is shy.  It  waits to be heard.  We easily neglect or even deny the life of the soul. “I do not lie on the surface, If you look and listen patiently, you will know.  I speak through you confusion, through your wanting, through you hurt.” (Ortberg).  The Psalmist had learned to pay careful attention to his soul. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning…” (Ps 131:2).

Because our soul runs our life, soulfulness becomes essential.  Dallas Willard reminds us, “What is running your life at any given moment is your soul.  Not external circumstances, not your thoughts, not your intentions, not even your feelings, but your soul.  The soul is the aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions to the self.  The soul is the life center of human beings.”  An unhealthy soul is the soul that experiences dis-integration from neglect.  “The blizzard of the world.” writes Leonard Cohen, “has crossed the threshold, and it has overturned the order of the soul”  The cultural mandate for psychological health in our culture is to focus solely on the self.  But self is soul minus God, with little or no reference to God.

To lose our soul is to no longer have a healthy center that organizes and guides our life.  If a man spends all his energy, time and resources on his outward life and forgets or denies his soul, he will lose his soul. “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:25).  This involves more then having the right belief in order to escape the world one day and go to heaven.  The lose of soul points to the depths of the human condition.  Men, my exhortation is to pay attention to your soul life, that which is below the surface.  Don’ t run from, deny, or neglect your soul life.  Be still, listen and pay attention to what your soul is saying to you.

Adrian’s Woes

I must report that Viking fans in Minnesota are conflicted these days, especially the men.  There will be a lot of discussion about the future of our superstar,  Adrian Peterson.  Adrian might not be playing for the rest of the year because of reported child abuse accusations from several sources.  As I was on my daily three mile prayer walk, I felt led to write a blog about Adrian’s woes.  I do not want to weigh in on whether Adrian is guilty, or whether he still should be playing football.  I have two observation regarding our dance as men in the family and our tending the vineyard of our family.

First and foremost there is  God’s order for the family, which is the oldest and most basic of human institutions.  J.I. Packer has observed, “The family has a built-in authority structure whereby the husband is leader to the wife and the parents are leaders to the children.” (Eph 5:22-6:4; Col 3:18-21; I Peter 3: 1-7)  Within this structure there is a mutual submission to Christ. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21). Structure and submission becomes a delicate dance between husband, wife and children, with the husband taking the lead on the dance floor with the family.

I know as a father of three grown children and a husband of 49 years, that I had to die each day to my way of dancing in order to learn the god given dance between leadership and mutual submission that was unique to the Hendricksons.  It meant sacrificial love and humility most of the time.  Adrian has not learned how to practice this dance since he is not been committed to one woman.  His mother, Bonita said he was married in July and has children from different women. How can you possible learn the dance in such a situation?  Men, we need to be a “one woman man” as we learn to dance with our wife and children.  This means we are totally committed to leading the dance with our children and their mother.  They will be watching how we will lead in the dance.

Secondly, children are a stewardship given to us by God.  Children are our most precious gifts.  We read in Psalm 127: 3, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.”  Psalm 128:3-4 expresses beautifully the joy of family, “Your wife will bear children as a vine bears grapes, your household lush as a vineyard.  The children around your table as fresh and promising as young olive shoots.  Stand in awe of God’s yes.  Oh, how he blesses the one who fears God!” (The Message).

Picture a father around his dinner table rejoicing in what God has given him.  There is no greater joy or satisfaction for a man then being able to “lean into” the stewardship of rising his “young olive shoots” brought forth by his wife.  He is looking at a lush vineyard.  It is his task to create the spiritual ecology  in which the vineyard can thrive.  This means being “present” and “involvement” in the vineyard.  I know it took all the emotional and spiritual energy I had to “enter into” life in my vineyard.  Adrian obviously is not able to attend to his vineyard.  What will happen to the “young shoots” his relationships has produced?  Many dads are absent from their vineyards.  Men, take delight in tending to your vineyard.  After cherishing your wife, it is your most important calling before God.

The Barbarians

Back in the early 90’s I read a book by Charles Colson entitled “Against the Night.” Here is a statement that seems almost prophetic over 20 later. “I believe that we do face a crisis in Western culture, and that it presents the greatest threat to civilization since the barbarians invaded Rome.  I believe that today in the West, and particularly in America, the new barbarians are all around us.  They are no hairy Goths and Vandels, …….they are not Huns and Visigoths storming our borders or scaling our city walls.  No, this time the invaders have come from within….today’s barbarians wear pinstripes instead of animal skins and wield briefcases rather than spears”

Men this blog comes as a warning. I John 2:18 warns us, “Dear children, this is the last hour, and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.  This is how we know it is the last hour.” (I John 2:18)  Could it be that time is running out for our culture?  The barbarians among us are an antichrist spirit.  It may be openly hostile, or hidden behind a polite disposition, but it will always be opposed to the Lordship of Jesus and his reign in the earth.  This anitchrist spirit now pervades our culture.

John gives us this advice in discerning the antichrist spirit. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world .” (I John 4:4-6)  You will always meet resistance when you confess faith in the Lord Jesus, as God incarnate, come in the flesh to save us from our sins. This will never be political correct!

So here is some friendly tips on being a warrior of the light in the midst of a culture where the spirit of antichrist is very much in evidence. First and foremost, submit your will to the Lordship of Jesus. Place yourself under the umbrella of his authority and protection. You are open game to the enemy when you have no covering. Be a man under authority. Secondly, never leave the foot of the cross.  The cross is the ultimate sign of our victory.  Paul exclaims, “Think of it!  All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross.  He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched the naked through the streets.” (Col. 2:13-15 – Message)  We are overcomers through Jesus death. “Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (I John 5:5)

Two more suggestions.  Do your homework by integrating the the Word of God into your life.  Don’t just seek a head knowledge of truth, but let the truth sink into your soul.  Allow it to be the light and leaven that sets you free.  Jesus said “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)  One more piece of advice.  Always keep you gaze on the Lord.  Always keep a upward posture, looking up to Jesus.  “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’  Your face, Lord, I will seek” (Ps 27:8)

Your Legacy

In a recent men’s group at my church we were discussing death and the legacy we each will leave behind.  We all agreed that the ”stuff'” we leave behind will not be nearly as important as our “relational” legacy.  How will we be remembered as a “godly man.” Why is it harder to leave behind a godly relational legacy, that is, how we are remembered for our relationship with others?  Because cultivating a relational legacy demands more from men then they can produce on their own.  We are dependent upon God to work through us.  It calls for a love, that is self giving even when the relationships can be difficult.  Remember Paul’s words, “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (I Cor 13:3)

A legacy describes the way a man is honored. We read in Proverbs 18:12 in the Message, “Pride first, then the crash, but humility is precursor to honor.” Proverbs 29:23 reminds us, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.”  I  have conducted many funerals during my ministry.  I can say with some confidence, that a man is honored not so much for his accomplishments, but rather by the way he related to others, especially his family. Few things in my ministry motivated me more then the memory of a godly man honored by his family for how he lived.  It gave me godly resolve to work on my relationships.   It seems, men, that if we want to be honored by other when they have our funeral, humility will have to be displayed in our relationships.

How is humility expressed in our relationships?  Here are some suggestions from a man, attempting to leave a healthy relational legacy.  First and foremost, I have given my heart to Jesus.  This means he is reconstructing me so that I might relate more humbly and lovingly.  Second I know I have to give priority to having good relationship with those in my “circle of influence.”  Third, I am asking Jesus to help me to learn from my relational failures.  Fourth, I pray continually that I will have the grace to put others before myself.  Fifthly, I pray that I can learn from the difficult relationship God has brought into my life.  Sixth, I pray that I can  live in a spirit of forgiveness, while keeping my heart open to relational wounds.

I close with this caution.  Every man who is reading this blog will have to deal with failure when he looks back into his story.  You will not be looking at the “perfect” legacy.  This is where humility plays a vital factor in your legacy.  Where you have knowingly failed in your relationships, humbly seek forgiveness.  You cannot rewrite the script of your story.  But through forgiveness God can take your story and rewrite the script for you.  Men, I cannot stress how important it is  to live a lifestyle of forgiveness.  “Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.  And regardless of what else you put on, wear love.  It’s your basic, all-purpose garment.  Never be without it” (Col. 3:13-14 – Message).

Fathers and their quiver

Every once in awhile there is an ad that gets it right when it comes to the  moral values in our culture.  There is a “Cheerios” ad that shows a married father helping his children through their morning routine,  reflecting on his role as dad. “Dadhood isn’t always easy.  When a rule is broken, we’re the enforcement. Hey buddy, it’s garbage day.  But when a heart is broken, we’re the reinforcement.”

John Stonestreet who blogs over at Breakpoint made this comment regarding the ad. “The last strong father figure on TV was Cliff Huxtable on the Cosby Show.  In 1980s television, family was the solution.  By the 1990s with shows like Seinfeld and Friends, family had become the problem, and particularly dads like the buffonish Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin from Family Guy.”  There is a plaque of fatherlessness in our culture because of absent fathers,  both physically and emotionally.  The privilege of being a father is not celebrated in our culture.  It many cases it is ridiculed as being insignificant in the life of children.   The modeling of godly fatherhood is desperately needed in even our churches.  Who and where are to models?

Psalm 127 portrays fatherhood as a godly heritage, with children being a reward from him. “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.  They will not be put to shame when they content with their opponents in court” (3-5) .  Eugene Peterson observes, “We didn’t make these marvelous creatures that walk and talk and grow among us.  We participated in an act of love that was provided for us in the structure of God’s creation.”

Yes, “dadhood isn’t always easy.” It demands sacrifice and surrender of our selfish egos. This is not affirmed in today’s world.  But remember children are a stewardship given fathers.  Their formation has been entrusted to us.  Your children did not choose you as father; God choose you.  So a full quiver of arrows is gift of God.  While they are a responsibility, they are not a burden, but a blessing.  When brought up in a godly manner, children will be a witness to their father’s integrity.  So men, thank God that you are a father, since their are men who have an empty quiver.

I helped raise three children.  I now crying out for God to teach me in my role as grandfather to seven grandchildren.  So here is some hard earned advice from a “grandpa.”  First, give absolute priority to your role as father.  After your wife give your best energy and time to your kids.  You have them only for so many years.  Secondly, don’t let the cultural wars, intimidate you in your role.  You are the priest of your family.  You lead and set the spiritual tone of your family life.  It will not be easy.  But accept your role with all humility and surrender to Jesus who is your head.  Thirdly, love and cherish the mother of your children.  Give them the example of a dad who has sacrificial love for their mother.  Fourth, give thanks every day for the gift of your children, while asking for wisdom in knowing how to shape their lives.  Be grateful for your quiver.

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