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: January 2018

Time’s Up

At the Recent Golden Globe awards, Oprah Winfrey gave a powerful and moving speech advocating women’s empowerment, in light of the recent revelation regarding sexual harassment.  Women and the “MeToo” movement against sexual assault took center stage at the Golden Globes. Almost all the attendees wore black as a show of respect for gender equality.  In accepting the Cecil B De Mille Award, Oprah summed up the moment: “For too long women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men.  But their time is up. Their time is up!”  The energy around sexual harassment resulted in a new movement – “Time’s up.”

How will men respond to Oprah’s passionate plea?  I wonder how  the “wildmen” reading this blog relate to women speaking their new found truth?  It is going to take more then women on the stage, dressed in black to bring change to men and their sexuality.  It will take candid dialogue between men and women.   Women have processed their story, finding their voice, expressed in previously hidden anger.  Men will need to find their authentic voice as well.

It is a time for men of moral integrity and sexual purity to rise up and be heard and seen as exemplars.  But we must be ready to  “suffer” misunderstanding and anger from women, who are expressing some justifiable anger.  Are men prepared to face the new cultural winds of adversity.

Peter mentions suffering at least nine times in addressing “aliens and strangers in the world,” challenging them “to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” ( I Peter 2:11).  He warns them, “You’ve already put in your time in that God-ignorant life, partying night after night, a drunken and profligate life” (I Peter 4:3 – Message).  Then Peter gives this encouragement., “So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation” (I Peter 5:10).

Men, we are to  stand up for the sake of  our wives and daughters, for those who have been abused, and for those who are in bondage and fear because of a distorted image of the masculine that is robbing them of the fullness of life in being a female. We must not be silent.  Sexual harassment by men of any kind is wrong.

Here are some principles to remember as you attempt to influence the sexual harassment controversy in your sphere of influence.  First, and foremost, make sure you are centered in your unique, masculine soul.  In all your shame, vulnerability and sin allow yourself to hear the truth – “You have a Father in heaven who very fond of you.”   Secondly, learn to accept, embrace and digest the justified anger of women regarding abuse.  It is real and painful. Make no excuse for men.  Humbly admit that WE have a problem, not women

Thirdly, take a good look in the mirror.  James tells us, “For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like” (James 1:23-24 NLT).  Admit to yourself that there is a wolf  within you, a latent predator,  that needs continual monitoring. Befriend the eros energy within you, rather then being in denial.

Fourth clean up your lifestyle, knowing that we live in a sensate world. Your wife is your best monitor.  And finally, walk with humbly and confidently in the Lord, as you navigate the sexual minefields of our day.  Hear Isaiah say to you, “Let us walk in the light of the Lord” ( Is 2:5).  Don’t live in the shadowy jungles of sexual fantasies.

Blonde Espresso

I recently (Jan 18th) got a Pike Place coffee from Starbucks for the hour drive home. I have issues with Starbucks more liberal views regarding social issues, but I figure once in a awhile I can patronize their establishment. The cup holder grabbed my attention.  Of course, that is the whole point.  It read, “Blond espresso – breaks rules.”  On Tuesday ( Jan 16th) Starbucks had just introduced a new light-roast espresso.

Their on- line add gave this rationale: “Who says espresso has to be intense?”  “We have for 43 years.”  “So we did the exact opposite.”  Starbucks is taking a risk with a Blonde espresso.   As one competitor put it, “If you go too light with espresso, it can be like an acidic bomb.  Some baristas might like it, but it’s probably, not a crowd-pleaser…You want to roast it light enough to taste good on its own, but dark enough to stand up to milk.”

Starbucks is going against it own self-imposed policy of using only dark-roast blends.  But as Washington Post critic Tim Carman noted, “The slogan is downright comical in its braggadocio: Smaller, more innovative roasters have been breaking the espresso rules for nearly two decades.”  He also wondered, “Will the demand remain once customers realize their Blonde lattes are now little more than caffeinated cups of milk and froth, with little evidence of the burned-coffee flavor that defined the drink for decades.”

What is your response to the slogan?  When I saw the word “Blonde” on a yellow background, along with breaking rules, I have to admit, I thought of women and harassment, not coffee.  I wonder if this was intentional on the part of Starbucks.  Are they sublimely promoting dialogue between men and women over the broken state of sexuality.   If so, I agree. As a follower of Jesus, I can give testimony to being a “one-woman-man.”  After salvation, the greatest gift in my life has been my marriage to the same woman for 52 years.  Peter reminds husbands, “As women [wives] they lack some of your advantages.  But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals.  Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground” (I Peter 3-7 – Message).

“Women are unhappy about the state of sex and romance,” observes Mona Charen. “They feel pressured, they feel disrespected, and they are fighting back.”  What are seen as normal sexual encounters, are being expressed as  harmful for many women. “At the heart of the MeToo moment in American culture is the dawning awareness of just how unfair revolutionary sex can be,” notes Samuel James.  The sexuality of men has been assumed to be naturally brutish, needing to be tamed by feminist dictates.  But men will still be men.  As a result women are confused, hurt and even fearful of ongoing relationship with men.

Men, this is now our time. Men who have practiced moral purity and sexual integrity need to enter the dialogue with the women in their circle of influence.  I full heartedly agree with James when he states, “The task of repairing a broken sexual culture…..begins with repenting of our prejudice against purity….We need to consider whether a more proactive, more equitable place for the sexes will be one that errs on the side of prudence rather than revolution.  We are hearing from a generation that they want sex that doesn’t break, abuse or humiliate them.”

Men need to heed Paul advice,, “Be gracious in your speech.  The goal is to bring out the blest in others in conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (Col. 4:6 – Message)  Let the “Blonde”  slogan be a reminder of  the many women, who need  to hear a caring male voice in their lives.

.

.

He said – She said

During the recent Golden Globe Awards, the New York Times spotlighted sexual harassment with their “truth” ad.  They acknowledge “The truth is hard.”  The ads opens with the back and forth exchange of  “He said” and “She said” that climaxes when “she said” rapidly fills the screen.  Then the campaign’s staple “truth” lines appears, asserting, “The truth has power,”  “The truth will not be threatened,” and “The truth has a voice.”

A spokesperson for the newspaper noted, “We thought that using language that has been used to silence women in the past and turning it on its head as a simple way to show the clear distinction between the way the world was a year ago and the way it is now.”  When “she said” begins to fill the screen, it felt like men were in a corner needing to face the truth. Jesus said he had come to testify to the truth.  Pilate asked Jesus  “What is truth?”

The truth in this controversy is found in relationship with God in whose image we are created as male and female.  Truth regarding sexual harassment has been apparent long before the Times began the search.  Truth is what accurately conforms to reality.  God the creator is the source of all truth.  Exodus 34:6 tells us God is, “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.”  Jesus who came from Father is, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  Jesus said of himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life” ( John 14:6).  The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” ( John 14:17).  Truth may be hard to know in ourselves, but God has revealed the truth as the triune God.

The truth about human nature is found in Scripture.  Romans 1:21-22 tells us what happens to us when we leave God out of our search for what is true.  “They knew all the time that there is a God, yet they refused to acknowledge him as such, or to thank him for what he is or does.  Thus they became fatuous in their argumentations, and plunged their silly minds still further into the dark.” When we leave God out of our lives He gives up on us.  “So God said, in effect, ‘If that’s what you want, that’s what you get” (Romans 1:24 – Message).  The result, “God therefore handed them over to disgraceful passions” (Rom1:26).

So truth is hard when God hand us over to disgraceful passions.   We naturally prefer illusion, a counterfeit truth.  In II Thess 2:12 we read, “Since they refuse to trust truth, they’re were banished to their chosen world of lies and illusions.”

Yes, truth has power.  But only  God’s truth has the power to set us free.  “If you hold to my teaching,” Jesus said, “you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31).

The truth can also be very threatening because it exposes our hearts.  “For the Word that God speaks is alive and active; it cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword: it strike through to the place where the soul and spirit meet, to the innermost intimacies of a man’s being; it examines the very thoughts and motives of a man’s heart” ( Heb 4:12 – Phillips).

Truth has a voice, it is the  voice of God, who spoke everything into being.  “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth……. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded and it stood firm” (Ps 33:6&9).  God says, “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word” ( Isaiah 66:3). We need to tremble at God’s word for our day.

Sexual Harassment Apocalypse

John Stonestreet  wonders if we are not in a “sexual harassment apocalypse,” which literally means “revealing.”  “It seems as if another celebrity or politician is outed almost every day,” notes Stonestreet, “and it’s changing our culture.”  Could it be that we are entering a new normal in male and female relationships.  Karla Jacobs suggests, “both men and women need to figure out how to navigate the new normal together, and that starts by being allies and speaking honestly with each other.”  David Masciotra believes, “Resolving the sickly lack of masculinity, along with cultivating a culture that has no tolerance for the degradation of women, are the long-term solutions for sexual harassment.”

I personally rejoice in the observation of Matt Lewis over at The Daily Beast of all places.  This is what he actually said. “While good women and good men must band together, two specific coalitions of stakeholders within these broader categories are perhaps most important, inasmuch as they are already activists: liberal feminists and conservative Christians.”  Wow!  There’s more from Lewis. “The Pendulum, it appears, is now swinging back in a more puritanical direction.  To be sure, this is a secular movement that was the product of left-leaning feminists.  But rather than resisting it, social conservatives should perhaps be cheering it on.”

Lewis wonders if social conservative should take this opportunity to, “spend some time talking about masculinity, chivalry, and old-fashioned virtues that used be called, ‘gentlemanliness.'”  He quotes  from an old piece in the NY Times about the Promise Keeper movement: “Promise Keepers extols a man who is a leader, while also possessed of characteristics once stereotyped as feminine: a nurturing parent, a model of marital fidelity, and a churchgoer who cultivates close friendships and likes to sing.”  Lewis wonder if we don’t need men like this in our day.  He quotes Bill McCartney’s observation. “If men are a principle cause of family meltdown, crime and racial strife, then men also are central to the solutions to those problems.”

Men, I could quote more sources.  But this is enough to demonstrate that as a culture we have come into a  period when there is a serious search for a “new normal” in male and female relationship.  I must say – I can hardly contain myself.  What a time!  What an opportunity for the “wild men” of this blog site, to stand up and be found faithful.   When secular voices in the public square being to talk about a “lack of masculinity,” with the social pendulum swinging back to a more puritan ethic, men of Christian virtue need to make their voice heard in a loving, gentle and respectful  manner.

I have desired to live with sexual integrity and moral purity all my life.  I am  grateful for God’s grace and mercy over these 52 years of marriage to my wonderful bride.  I never thought I would be allied  with radical feminist. But yes, I agree – there should no tolerance for the degradation of women.  I also believe that the morality of these gender issues is more important then gaining the political edge in politics.  Men, I must say, I am disappointed not only in the Democrats but also the Republicans for their ethics of expedience, turning a deaf ear to the cries of wounded women for  political gain.  This is wrong!!

I close with a final word from Matt Lewis (The daily Beast). “Changing the world will require good women and men working together.  Feminists and Christian conservatives should unite around shared goals.  It sound crazy, but all we need are a few leaders who care more about fixing than scoring points.  Will they emerge?”  I pray that you are one of those men.

“Welcome To Our World”

After Christmas we enter into the Epiphany season, celebrating  the light coming into the world.  Christian song writer, Chris Rice wrote a song entitled, “Welcome to Our World,” telling the wonder of Jesus entering our world: “Fragile finger sent to heal us/Tender brow prepared for thorn/Tiny heart whose blood will save us/Unto us is born.” It is hard to imagine the reality of Jesus, through whom, “all things came into existence” (John 1:4), who, “holds all creation together” (Col 1:17), and in whom, “the full nature of God chose to live” (Col 1:19) entered our world as a vulnerable, helpless infant.

The incarnation is a magnificent portrayal of unconditional love for each of us.  Philippians 2 describes it as the movement of the preexistent, preeminent Son of God to become the man called Jesus.  “For he, who has always been God by nature, did not cling to his privileges as God’s equal, but stripped himself of every advantage by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born a man” (Phil 2:5-6 – Phillips).

The word “strip” or “emptied” comes for the Greek word “kenosis,” meaning to sacrifice oneself for the good of others.  C.S. Lewis refers to this as a miracle.  “The Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion being that what is beyond all space and time, which is uncreated, eternal, came into Nature, into human nature, descended into His own universe, and rose again, bringing Nature up with Him.  It is precisely one great miracle.”  In emptying himself, Jesus is coming all the way to where we live.

The Message calls this miracle the” Life-Light.” ” What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by.  The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.” (John 1:4-5).   Hans van Balthasar describes this  descent of divine light. “It is not our movement toward God, but God’s movement to us.  It is heaven interrupting our world….the descent of the divine light among human beings not only to shine on, to illuminate, to purify and to warm them, but through grace, to make them also shine with a light of this world.” The darkness will not prevail against the Life-Light.

Men, my sense is the darkness is getting greater in our nation.  My concern for the men reading this blog is that you are not being  pulled into the cultural darkness.  It is like a prison, where our hope gives way to the despair of being  confined in iron chains.  The Psalmist declared, “Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High (Ps 107:10-11). As a result God, “subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help” (v12).

But they cried to the Lord. “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.  He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains” (v13-14) Only Jesus, the Light of the world, can, ” breaks down gates and bronze and cuts through bars of iron” (v16).

Once out of prison,  be careful not to stumble.  “A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light” (John 11:9-10).  There is only one source of light.  That is Jesus.  All the rhetoric of the policy makers and those who implement change in our culture, are stumbling in the dark, if they ignore the light.  Don’t follow their lead.

© 2019 Canaans Rest

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑