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 2017

Prayer for our Nation

Included in this blog is an inspiring  prayer, adopted from Daniel 9:4-19,  written by Christina Walker, who is Associate Director of Academic Programs at the Billy Graham Center.  I belong to a small prayer group that meets at my church every Wed. morning.  I am highly motivated to drive into town each week because the others in attendance are intercessors like myself.

The words of the prophet Habakkuk  help shape  our prayers as we cry out to God for mercy. “I have heard about you, Lord.  I am filled with awe by your amazing works.  In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by.  And in your anger remember your mercy” (Hab. 3:2).  We join Nehemiah as he prayed, “….let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel.  I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you” Neh 1:5-7).

Here is The Prayer.  “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong.  We have been wicked and have rebelled against the Gospel of Love; we have turned away from your commands to care for the least of these and to consider others’ needs before our own.  We have not listened to your servants, who spoke through scripture in your name to our leaders, and to all the people of the land.

Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame – the people of America.  We, and our leaders, are covered with shame, LORD, because we have sinned against you.  The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the LORD our God or kept the law of love you gave us in Scripture.  Your Church  has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

Therefore, we face the judgments written in your Word.  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:1-2).  We know the judgment of God’s household will be first ( I Peter 4: 17), yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The Lord will not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand, who raised Christ for the dead and conquered sin and death, and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong.  Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger.  Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made your church an object of scorn to all those around us.

Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant.  For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your church.  We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.  Lord, listen!  Lord, forgive!  Lord, hear and act!  For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your people bear your Name.”  ( Adaptation of Daniel 9:4-19)

Men, use the content of this prayer to help you wade through the turbulent times we live in, as you contempt the direction of our nation.

Toxic Masculinity at Work

Hurricane Harvey has been a very sad event to experience from up here in the Northwoods.   It is hard to comprehend the suffering the people in southeast Texas have been enduring.  I have watched  with tears in my eyes, as brave men from all walks of life rescued thousands of people from dangerous flood waters.  In some cases men have risked their lives.  Yes, there have been women as well, but the majority have been men.  One of my favorite groups was ” the Cajun Navy.”  As one man said so matter-of-factly, “I’m gonna try to save some lives.”  I was deeply moved to hear the heart felt gratitude of whole families being rescued from the rising water.

It takes a humanitarian crisis for a tone deaf culture to realize how distorted the false narrative of the extreme feminist movement has become.  It has gained prominence partly through the dominant media spreading the distortion idea of toxic masculinity.  One woman tweeted in response to the photo of SWAT officer Daryl Hudeck:  “It’s not that women aren’t brave.  They are.  But this is just what men do.  Great, gloriously toxic men. Love them to death.”  Another  woman tweeted, “A man, behaving as a man. Thank goodness for men like him.”

What we have witnessed in so many of those dramatic pictures is the true chivalric nature of masculinity.  These were ordinary men acting upon their innate sense of  responsibility to be  protectors.  They courageously responded  in the face of real danger, helping to dispel the “toxic masculine” narrative. “Seemingly over night,” wrote Mark Tapson, “our culture has unquestionably embraced the term “toxic masculinity.  Male nature itself is the problem, we are told, and the solution is the deconstruction of our understanding of what it means to be a man.”  But the photos and news reports coming out of the devastation in Texas by Hurricane Harvey are putting to rest this subversive idea.

Men, when you begin to feel intimidated by the persuasive voices of radical feminism, along with men who accept their narrative, remember those brave “toxic” men that are now being praised for their heroic rescue efforts.  Rise up with inner strength and courage and allow your protective “juices” to flow. Do what honorable men have always done. Take responsibility for the care of your family and work for the good of those who are less fortunate in your community. Live out of your God-given masculine soul.

Remember Peter’s words about the wife being weaker.  “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives.  Treat your wife with understanding as you live together.  She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life.  Treat her as you should so our prayers will not be hindered” (I Peter 3:7 NLT)  A footnote in the NLT study bible  states: “Peter was probably thinking of the woman’s physical strength and perhaps her social status.  Since women are typically physically weaker than men and were often less able to assert themselves in that society, husbands had the duty of protecting and caring for his wife.”

My bride is an equal partner, but she does not have the same physical strength.  But she is strong spiritually, continuing  to be a “challenge” spiritual with her consistent walk with the lord.  God has called me to be her protector, both physically and spiritually.  I take seriously the warning of our prayer being hindered if I am not being responsible for being protector.  Men, stand up in the strength of the Lord and fight for your family.

Sam Bradford – Our Quarterback

We are into the NFL season.   I am pulling for the  Minnesota Vikings.  I have to admit that my bride and I get  “jacked up” over our team.  The Star Tribune recently had an article in which  Sam Bradford, our quarterback, talked about his faith.  The bar has been raised high for this coming season.  Our quarterback in under a lot of pressure.  He acknowledged that his faith helps him handle the stress. “A lot of it is my faith and knowing the Lord has a plan for me, and I put my trust in him.”

The sports writer, Brian Murphy observed, “Relinquishing oneself to a higher power is counter intuitive to a profession driven by control freaks, its simplicity almost too much for  data driven fans who define players by algorithms and fantasy rankings and wanting Bradford to deliver wins.”  Bradford talks of giving up control. “You give up control of your life to God and you allow Him to take control of your life.  We get in our own ways a lot of times, but by turning it over to Him and coming in here every day and focusing on what I can do to become a better quarterback….”

Now I have learned not to put too much stock in what professional athletics say about their faith.  However, I would like to take Bradford’s expression of faith at face value.  Yes, it takes  lot of faith to put our trust in God and get out of “the driver’s seat.”  The Message puts it straight forward in  Matt.  16:24-26, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.  You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.  Don’t run from suffering, embrace it.  Follow me and I’ll show you how.  Self-help is no help at all.  Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to find yourself, your true self.”

Surrender is not a  popular concept with men.  It seems to implies failure or defeat, while for women surrender seems more like abuse or use of power.  For men surrendering  feels like a diminishment of our manhood.  We prefer autonomy and control, wanting to be in “the driver’s seat,” thinking self-control will bring  freedom, significance and respect.   Yet if we are honest there is much in life that is unpredictable  and out of our control.  Rather than facing the vulnerability and risks of life, we choose to be willful, living with resolve and self effort. For Christian men  will power and discipline can easily produce a religious self with  a “clinched fist.”  The result can be  rigid and prideful person, lacking authenticity, vitality and spontaneity. God save us from men with this kind of religious presence.

In the church this is expressed in the words of the Pharisee, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men…even like this tax collector (Luke 18:11).  But the tax collector prayed, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (13).  Jesus said of these two men, “This tax man, not the other, went home make right with God.  If you walk around with your nose in the air,  you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself” (Luke 18:14 – Message).

There are many men who do not know who they are in Christ, because they have built up a hard shell around their inner life, choking off the vitality of the Spirit, who brings forth our true self.    It is sad how often our “spiritual self improvement projects” really protect us from ourselves, while only reinforcing our false religious self. Remember it always, “letting go and letting God.”

Angry Storms of Life

This is another of those personal blogs from yours truly, brother Al.  Yesterday (Aug. 31st) was not a good day for me.  Using the analogy of a storm, I would say my day started out rather sunny and peaceful.  I was looking forward to being at my desk studying, praying and writing.  In the afternoon I would be out in the woods chopping wood.  I then would treat myself by watching the Golden Gophers play their first game against Buffalo.  But then came the storms.

These were two emotional storms that got the best of me.  The first storm involved my dear bride and I having an altercation, which I always dislike, because I  get  resentful and feel like a failure.  The second storm involved  the grader coming by, plowing our gravel road, resulting in dusting being stirred up by passing cars.  I was under the assumption that the grader would not grade in front of our place.  After the grader went by I got angry over the prospects of having to deal with dust. How trivial compared to Hurricane Harvey.  I had been broadsided by two storms.

I was not be the same for the rest of the day.  I was constantly reminded of Eph 4:27-28: “Go ahead and be angry.  You do well to be angry- but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge.  And don’t stay angry.  Don’t go to bed angry.  Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”  Men, with all my heart I want to grow in Christlike character and in holiness.  But on the 31st I was broadsided by storms.  Sometimes l weather them in fine fashion, but on this occasion I failed miserably.

For what is’t worth, here are some learnings from your truly, who has navigated many emotional storms over the years, but is still needing grace and mercy for continual storms.   First, for the most part I have learned to admit to myself that I am angry.  I was able to process my anger in an open space of my soul, rather than deny the storm within.  David said, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you.  Think about it overnight and remain silent” (Ps 4:4).

Secondly, I knew from the beginning of the storm that I had to ask forgive from my wife and to forgive the country supervisor for his policy.  Forgiving the supervisor took some doing.  I worked in the woods all afternoon, clewing on my resentment for his decision.  By the end of the day, I was able to let the man go. I am learning that the Lord is “a refuge from the storm.”   Holding on to resentment would only cause the storm to linger longer, settling as a cancer in my soul.  Today (1st) I am ready to ask my wife for forgiveness.  If I don’t it would erect a barrier between us.

Thirdly, it takes time. This is not easy for me to admit.  I thought I was strong enough spiritual to weather storms.  I was wrong.  I have a long ways to go.  It takes time for God to form the soul, and it takes time to get over emotional storms

Fourthly, the distaste for these storms. I don’t like what I feel and experience during these storms, especially when I know they are of my own making.  It makes me what to “grow up” in the Lord

Fifthly,  the storm has mostly  passing in my heart and soul.  I thank God that I can make confess of my unspiritual behavior due to this self-inducted storm.  I pray I will  be more mature and vigilant for the next emotional storm that will surely come.

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