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: December 2014

Men and the Family Christmas

Larry Crabb, made this observation regarding men, in his book, “The Silence of Adam.”  “Men are easily threatened.  And whenever a man is threatened, when he becomes uncomfortable in places within himself that he does not understand, he naturally retreats into an arena of comfort or competence, or he dominates someone or something in order to feel powerful.  Men refuse to feel the paralyzing and humbling horror of uncertainty, a horror that could drive them to trust, a horror that could release in them the power to deeply give themselves in relationship.”  Do you feel threatened by the unpredictable nature of seeing all those relatives again?  How will you react when you feel uncomfortable?  What about the uncertainty of those “relational minefields.”  Here are a few tips for negotiating the “mine fields” of relationships.

First, and foremost, make sure your heart is clear.  What do I mean?  Let me tell you from personal experience, that if you have not forgiven and let go of any bitterness, resentment or anger towards any family member,  they will have a “hook” into your soul.  Only with a “clear heart” will you be able to accept another family member for who they are, created in God’s image, a fallen person just as you are.  Keep “short accounts” with the offenses that have been committed against you, by forgiving and letting the others go. Men, don’t let another family member steal your peace.  You might have to practice  continual forgiveness during your gathering

Secondly, when you let someone go through forgiveness, who has been stuck cross-ways in your heart, you create space  in your heart for that person.  This will allow you to practice hospitality.  You will be able to welcome that person’s presence into your space, rather than wanting to avoid them or become defensive in their presence.  With a “clear heart” you will have the grace to give up  your expectations of how they should be relating to you.  Remember you will not be able to control the dynamics that will be on display in your family gathering.

Thirdly, in humility  confess and admit to the Lord, that you do not have love for all those family members.  This is very normal.  After all, you are related to family members who are very different then you, having their unique perspective on the family dynamic.  Nothing keeps me more humble.  I cry out for mercy and grace before and during our get together.  I ask for a heart and mind that will be openly accepting of others.  Each one can teach me more about how I  still have  to die to my  way of viewing  family relationships.

Fourthly, determine to be an instrument of peace.  Above all else, don’t let gossip, slander, or backbiting be a part of your conversation.  Determine before  hand to put the best construction on other relatives.  Go into your family gathering with  a “servant’s heart.”   Practice what I call “holy courtesy” by showing a genuine interest in the story of all your relatives, no matter how they might treat you.   I have to continually ask  myself, “How best  can  I  contribute to the harmony and unity of the  family?”

Here is good reminder from Col 3:13-14, “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.” (Message).  Men, ask God for grace and mercy to be clothed with this “all-purpose garment.”

Being Spanked by the Police

When Judy and I were raising our family, we had the practice of having family devotions after our evening meal.  I always tried to make  our conversation relevant to our children’s lives.  On one particular  evening as I was sharing, I said to my gathered family that, “Dad got spanked today.”  The kids  got real wide-eyed, wondering how this could happen to their father.  It so happened that I had gotten a speeding ticket that day for going 45 in a 30 speed zone.  I told the kids that I had been wrong and deserved the ticket, even though I had been in a hurry, not realizing how fast I had been traveling.

I tell this story in order to make an observation about the recent riots regarding the death of two black men at the hands of police officers.  I have no intent to assign blame or innocence.  I want to reference something that all the national discussion often misses.  That is the disrespect of authority.  We read in the Message, “The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms.  God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it.  That’s why you must live responsibly – not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live.” (Rom 13:4-5).  I told my kids during devotions that the police officer is a servant of God, put there to bring  law and order.

Men, we need to model to our children, respect for authority.  I knew I had to honor authority and follow the laws, even when no one was watching but my family. We taught our children to obey authority by our example.  It was not always easy to be under the authority of a church council or to submit to the leadership of my bishop.  We told our children that their teachers were authorities that they need to obey while at school.  There were a few incidents where it was rather painful to have our children submit to the final authority of others.  Rules are meant to be obeyed ; those placed in authority were to be respected.

Men that is missing today.  I think we all know that.  There are a lot of very angry young men today, who literally hate the authority imposed by the police.  Granted, police make mistakes. But why is there so much hatred.  In my humble opinion, it again comes back the the lack of fathering.  Young men are growing up without having a loving, caring male to  establish limits in their  lives.  They are been taught by misguided elders to push the  limits of the law.  Young men gather in groups that only fuel their anger.  I believe we are seeing the  brake down  of our civil order, because  of the failure of absent fathers.  Society will not change till the fatherless issues is addressed in our culture

My plea to the fathers who read this blog is this.  Place yourself under the authority and Lordship of Jesus.  Literally tell your kids that, “Jesus is the boss in this house.  Starting with me, as your father, we will honor Jesus and live as  respectable members of our community.”  I know from painful experiences that your children are watching and will learn lessons that all the education in the world cannot provide.  Remember the words of Joshua, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

What Happened to Our Souls?

On “The Troubles,” a song off of U2’s latest album “Songs of Innocence,” the band observes that the  loss of one’s soul is far more serious than any social or political problem: “Somebody stepped inside your soul/Somebody stepped inside your soul/Little by little they robbed  and stole/’Til somebody else as in control.”  These words are a soul alert for men to be  paying attention to their souls. The Austin band “Spoon” has named their new album “They Want My Soul.”  The title track describes an urban pilgrim who sees that everyone he encounters want the same thing: “Card sharks and street preachers want  my soul/All the sellers and palm readers want my soul.”  These words are a warning to be vigilant in the care of our souls.

Over twenty years ago, Thomas Moore wrote a book that alerted our culture to our loss of soul.  “The greatest malady of the 20th century, implicated in all our troubles and affecting us individually and socially, is ‘loss of soul.’  When soul is neglected, it doesn’t just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning.”  As astute social critics of culture, U2 calls us to pay attention to our souls.  Twice in their song we have this refrain, “I have a will for survival/So you can hurt me and hurt me some more/I can live with denial/But you’re not my trouble anymore.” The words, “But you’re not my trouble anymore” are rather haunting.  While living in denial, as a means of protection, is there the real possibility of becoming hardened?  We may become brittle and inflexible in our relationships.  If you wonder about  this is happening to you, check with your wife or someone who knows you well.

One of the passions of this blog, is for men to become soulful.  The call is to pay attention to our souls.  The Psalmist cried, “Awake, my soul!” (Ps. 57:8)  In Psalm 130:6 the Psalmist depicts his  soul being more awake then the morning watchmen; alert, attentive and aware.  “My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen wait fro the morning.” (v6) Men, don’t neglect the condition of your soul.  According to Dallas Willard, “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  that aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions of the self.  The soul is the life center of human beings.”  There is a lot going on in our souls. As one observer of our soul life puts it, “Where I find nothing done by me, much may have been done  in  me.”

We need to be mindful of the words of Jesus, “What good will it  be for  a man  if  he gains  the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? (Matt 16:26).  Or as The Message puts it, “What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself?  What could you ever trade your soul for?”  Don’t neglect or be fearful of your soul.  Pay attention to your soul life, by being quiet and listening to what your life is telling you, instead of dictating how you think  life should be.  The soul brings us down into realities of life, while we have the tendency to life on the surface.

What about Misandry?

Do you know the meaning of “misandry”  The simple dictionary definition is “a hatred of men.”  We hear  often about “misogyny,” the hatred of women,” but little about misandry.  In a recent panel discussion entitled “Mad men, modern family: examining the role of men in social development.” the question was asked, “Is the  cultural conversation about men, accessible to men?”  The reply from Dr. Paul Nathanson, author of several books on attitudes  towards men said “No.”  Do you the cultural trend being largely  negative towards men?  Men are having to “check their privilege.”  The implication for men seems to be; “your opinions on matters of  sexual and social importance are less important, your experience is less valid, and any offense you may have  felt is less offensive than the offense you have dealt.”

As observers  of culture have warned, the pendulum between the excesses of misogyny and  misandry will continue to swing, one extreme to the next. It could be that in our present confused culture, the dominant media seems to be portraying the rise of  women, which then necessities the fall of men.  As one observer put it, “Believing almost everything we read and  hear, disparaging or demeaning remarks about men are culturally permissible, largely acceptable, and most often left wholly unaddressed.”

There is a new phenomenon among online  videos.  It involves women, men and the former being incessantly harassed  by the latter.  The best known was made by Shoshanna Roberts,who was filmed walking the streets of New York amid catcalls and sexual comments.  It has attracted a staggering 36 million views, and has been hailed as a much-needed exposure of the plight of a woman in 21st century society.  The presence of decent men have now become strikingly absent online.  It seems that men are guilty until proven innocent.  This only reinforces gender stereotyping.  One commentator has noted that, “The more the online anti-men trend gains traction, the more women will be deprived of decent male allies in the battle against abuse.”

Southern Baptist ethicist, Russell Moore, speaking at the Vatican Colloquium on Marriage and Family remarked, “The Sexual Revolution is not liberation at all, but simply the imposition of a different sort of patriarchy.  The Sexual Revolution empowers men to pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha-male, rooted in the values  of power, prestige  and  personal pleasure….We see the wreckage of sexuality as self-expression all around us, and we will see more yet.”  The best evidence for this is the “objectifying” of women in the porn industry, which is booming even among evangelical men.  This only adds fuel to the  “feminist fire” regarding men. So the question is “How should a man behave?”

First, when with other women admit freely how men have wronged women for too long in our culture.  I have often publicly confessed the sins of men in the present of women’s groups where I have shared on masculine spirituality.  We are guilty of gross misogyny.  I also confess my own history of misogyny.  Men, if any of you have the vestiges of misogyny in  your heart because of the issues you have had with mother or other women in your life, it is vital that you deal with the seeds of bitterness that are in your heart.  Secondly, love you wife; cherish her as God’s greatest gift to you.  Other women will be watching how you treat your wife.  Your greatest witness to other women is your relationship to your wife.  Thirdly, celebrate the complementarity of male and female.  We need each other.

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