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: June 2016

The Truth

Jon Lovett was the White House speech writer who penned those infamous words, “If you like your insurance, you can keep it.”  In 2013 Lovett gave a graduation speech at Pitzer College, in which the 30-year-old sage seemed to be warning graduates about people like himself.  “One of the greatest threats we face, simply put, is bulls—.  We are drowning in it.  We are drowning in partisan rhetoric that is just true enough not to be a lie……it infects every facet of public life, corrupting our discourse, wrecking our trust in major institutions, lowering our standards for the truth, and making it harder to achieve anything……Know that being honest, both about what you do know, and what you don’t, can and will pay off.  Up until recently I would have said that the only proper response to our culture of B.S. is cynicism, that it would just get worse and worse.  But I don’t believe that anymore.”

Could this young man be wondering if speaking the truth is a better way?  How would he get out of the  deep deceptive fog he lives with, in order to walk in the truth.  Truth today is elusive and slippery, having become an object of wordplay. This young man is lacking in the ability to recognize truth when he sees and hears it.  I recommend young men like him and others caught in a web of lies to look to Jesus, who tells us: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).  Who else could possibly free us from our own deep deception?

When I read this quote I thought of Leanne Payne’s perspective on the crisis of masculinity in our culture and the relationship to the truth.  “The crisis of masculinity is a crisis of the unaffirmed masculine and the inability to initiate and stand for the truth.  For the power to honor and to stand for the truth is at the heart of the masculine.”  Men, we can believe something is true and still be wrong.  But truth itself is clear: truth has to do with whatever is real.  An affirmed man, speaking truth from a clear mind and heart cuts through a lot of lies and deception.

Before  his crucifixion, standing before Pilate, Jesus was asked, “So you are a king?”  Jesus responded, “You say I am a king.  Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth.  All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true” (John 18:37).  Pilate’s replied to Jesus, “What is truth?”  Like a typical politician, Pilate was cynical regarding truth.  Truth for Pilate was whatever the majority of people agreed with or whatever helped advance his  own personal power and political goals.  When there is no standard or acknowledgement of truth, there is no basis for moral right and wrong.  Truth becomes  whatever we want it to be.  Pilate was not able to face reality, when confronted with the truth.

Standing before Pilate that day  was the ultimate expression of truth embodied in a person.  Jesus came from the father to reveal the truth to us.  Jesus and His kingdom are the expression of ultimate reality.  “I am the way, the truth and the life,” Jesus proclaimed, “no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).  Ultimately truth is a matter of relationship. I assure you men, a committed, whole hearted relationship with Jesus will bring you face to face with the truth about yourself, others and the world.  But remember Jesus is full of  grace and truth.  Grace helps us live in and with the truth.

Bathrooms and Fathers

I have not commented on the travesty of our national policy regarding transgender bathrooms.  But a blog by David Murrow over at “Church for Men”  got me to thinking about men and our instinct to provide for and to protect women and children. Husbands and fathers are frustrated because the wives and daughters they love could be victimized in the bathroom.  We know that men can be real perverts.  We worry about what goes on in the bathrooms. ” Biologically defined men are now allowed to disrobe in front of women” observes Murrow.  “Most men would see this as a threat to the wives and daughters they are expected to protect.  Furthermore, they are powerless to shield their loved ones because the threat occurs in a place they themselves cannot be.”

This new bathroom policy angers men, “because it strips them of their ancient protector role.” This is a deep invasion of the government into a sacred, instinctual duty of men: protection of family.   Even worse, “any man who expresses concern for his daughter’s privacy is labeled a bigot.  Men can’t shield their loved ones – and they’re publicly shamed if they try.”  Just writing this get me upset.  If the prospective I am presenting doesn’t get  you mad as a Dad, then you have capitulated to an imposing “nanny” state mentality.  We live in a culture of female empowerment.  Murrow wonders, “Maybe women don’t need men to protect the any more.  One wonders what society will be like when men finally realize they are no longer needed as protectors and providers.”

Men, you need to understand that husbands and fathers will continue to be striped of thier ability to provide and protect because of the combination of the intrusion power of a “nanny state” which believes it has the right to  supplement the traditional role of husband and father, and the empowerment of women who no longer see the value of the traditional roles of husbands and fathers as necessary.  So, we need to wake  up.  We need to be a  part of a Christian culture  that will form a culture of resistance to what is happening our society.

Let me make four suggestions for men who want to take their rightful place as providers and protectors.  First, get yourself under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Allow Jesus to have lordship of your life. Declare in our family the Lordship of Jesus.  You will need his protection as you stand for your family.  Secondly, thank God for the gift and stewardship he has given you as a husband and father of a family.  Unless you have the gift of celibacy, this is why God made you a man.  You have a role to fulfill that no one else can.  You are irreplaceable.  Your family is not a burden but a treasure to fight for.

Thirdly, don’t play the role of the martyred father or defeated soldier.  This is warfare.  The enemy want to destroy your  family by taking you out. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the rapid social changes taking place in our culture, know that there are many other warriors going through the same conflict.  Finally, as I say often in this blog, cry out to God for mercy.  This means you are desperate and need help.  “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role play before God.  Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage.  The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace” (Matt. 6:6 – Message).

The Pajama Boy

I do not intend this blog to be political, but I could not resist writing about the “Pajama Boy.” During the showdown over Obamacare, a PAC put out an ad now known as “Pajama Boy.”  “It showcased a young fellow in thick retro-rimmed glasses, wearing black-and-red plaid children’s pajamas, and sipping from a mug, with a sort of all-knowing expression on his face.  The text urged: ‘Wear pajamas.  Drink hot chocolate.  Talk about getting health insurance. #GetTalking.'”  I think the hash tag should have read GetWorking,  young man, instead of GetTalking, which strikes me as adolescent.

How many men do you know, who sit around in their pajamas, drinking hot chocolate, while contemplating their health care? I see the image of a man who is no longer outer directed, taking the initiative to be responsible. The pajamas cry out, “Help me in my fragile condition.” This is the classic picture of a “feminized man.”  He is hoping someone will take care of him so he can live a sheltered life.  He is  the “soft male” that Robert Bly described: “The male in the past twenty years has become more thoughtful, more gentle….He’s a nice boy who now not only pleases his mother but also the young woman he is living with….You often see these men with strong women who positively radiate energy….yet he himself has no energy to offer.”

It bothers me that a government ad would portray such a dependent, weak man, sitting around with “an all-knowing expression”  hoping to  be taken care of by someone else.  He needs to get working.  Work is what God gave Adam to do in the garden. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). However with the fall, work was cursed (Gen. 3:17) and became toil, carried out “by the sweat of [man’s[ brow” (Gen. 3:19).  But the curse of sin did not eliminate work as a God-ordained and vital part of life.  God still commands people to work: “Six days you shall labor and do all our work” (Ex 20:9).

God himself is portrayed in scripture as a ceaseless worker.  His first great work was the work of creation (Gen. 1).  As one observer said, “The God of the Bible is preeminently a worker.”  The concept of work found in Genesis I is that it is purposeful, creative and above all “good.”  But it will also involve sweat, labor, often being unproductive and laden with a curse (Gen. 3:17). Each man reading this blog knows what it means to toil under the curse of the fall.   But by the grace of God we work as good stewards, bringing glory our heavenly Father.  We want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt 25:21).

Jesus saw himself as a worker.  He saw his public ministry as his assigned work.  His food was “to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34).  He said of himself, “”My Father is working still, and I am working” (John 5:17). On another occasion he said to his followers, “We must work the words of him who sent me” (John 9:4).  Following Jesus, we get up and work.

Jesus warns us, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:27).  Then he tells us, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29).  In other words, the ultimate focus of our productivity has an eternal focus, with the intent of bringing  glory to the Lord Jesus.  We “do it” for Jesus.

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