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: October 2019

A New Blog Site

I am not sure how many men read my blogs.  I have been faithfully blogging for over ten years.  Over that period of time, the blog has created a audience of men who intuitively identify with what thoughts regarding men, who desire to be followers of Jesus in our day.     

What I have to say has been out there long enough on the internet for men to get a sense what the experience of “the wildman journey” means for young as well as older men in this time of “toxic masculinity.”  I know there are men who pass it along to others.  My Son, Kurt is the most faithful in sending it to other men.  

I hear enough from time to time about a man appreciating what is being said about masculinity.  That is enough to keep me going.  Be assured. I carry my weekly blog around in my heart the way I used to carry around my weekly sermons.  I continually have in mind my men’s blog when I am reading books, meditating on scripture and praying, and when I read all my favorites on the internet.

I am convinced more then ever that what God has put on my heart is relevant and  helpful, especially for younger Christian men, who want to be a men of God

I write about the blog site, because my Son, Mark and a good friend, Bill Weber, have created a new blog site entitled “Canaansrest.”  The  old site needed updating, since Judy and I no longer run a retreat house on Man Lake.  I also wanted my wife, Judy’s blog to be on the same site.  It is entitled “whispers.”  She will soon be posting her blogs.

To get to our blog site, simply go to “Canaansrest.org.”  In the near future we plan to allow for comments regarding our blogs, so that we can respond and interact with what is being said on our blogs. 

I close with a scripture that keeps me motivated to keep on blogging after ten years.  “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” ( Ps. 71:18).

 

 

 

 

 

Men and their Secrets

There was an interesting article in The Atlantic by Lori Gottlieb entitled, “Some men share their secrets only in therapy.”  Gottlieb, who is a therapist, noted that men in therapy often say, “I’ve never told anyone else this before.”  “I think that speaks volumes about how isolated men can be, how isolated in their struggles,” suggests Gottlieb.

Men typically tend to avoid emotional intimacy with another. This can spell trouble at home and in our marriages.  Men are reluctant to share  because they do not want to appear  weak.  “It just shows,” noted Gottlieb, “how much shame there is for men around talking about anything that feels vulnerable to them.”

Michael Stepian of Columbia University’ business school thinks men resist sharing because it goes against stereotypically masculine values.  A person would confide a secret to get help.  “And confiding a secret to  another person, it’s also an act of intimacy…That kind of warmth and sociality and intimacy is also stereotypically more feminine.”  Men tend to emphasize “agency, independence and autonomy,”  which gives the impression of not needing any help with any of those hidden secrets. .

Men, it is vital that we expose our secrets.  Our secrets have a life of their own within our souls.  They spread emotional and even rational poison that can distort the way you look at life.  Take for example, a long standing anger toward a indifferent father. This can create distorted view of God, other men and those in authority in your life.

We read in Ps. 51:17, “The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit.  A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.”  Why is a broken spirit considered a sacrifice?  Because that is just what it is – a sacrifice.  Your ego will suffer a blow.  Its humbling to share secrets because our self image gets tarnished and our effort at self preservation suffers.  But remember I Peter 5:5, “God opposes the proud, but give grace to the humble.”

Being proud and stiff-necked does not allow for the grace of  God.  Rather our inner resistance walls us off from ourselves, others and God.  We live with our secrets, often nursing them in our self-pity and self-hatred.  Don’t let that happen to you. If the light begins to shine on our secrets, don’t hide in the cold, lonely place with your secrets.

Only exposure and brutal honesty brings the healing light of Jesus’ presence.  As I have mentioned on several occasions recently, I have been going through a rough time in my adjustment to apartment living.  I continue to learn some vital lessons that I pass on to you

First, have an open spirit.  Cry out to God for mercy, so you have the courage to open the doors to those hidden closets in our soul.  St John of the Cross calls them “deep caverns” of the soul.  Remember these secrets are buried alive in you.  Don’t kid yourself.  You are not able to manage and order these secrets. You will never get clarity till you get them out into the light

Secondly,  humbly ask God for the ability to receive his love.  Yes, this sounds simple, but once you are assured of God’s love you will sense a new vulnerability to share those secrets.  Shame is lifted, so you can be honest

Thirdly, be brutally honest in prayer.  I often cry out for mercy in my misery.  If you don’t pray to the real God, you will not be sharing the real you.

Fourthly, find someone you can trust.  God will provide that person.  If not a person , then a group of men who are honest about the secrets.  You will learn how to share as you listen to other men.

Day of the Dead

Did you men know that according to World magazine, “The sugar skull, an emblem of Mexican folk holiday Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead is this year’s must-have Haloween décor, plastered on succulent vases, wreaths, mugs, and pillowcases.  Mattel recently announced its new Day of the Dead Barbie, adorned with a floral dress and a skull-painted face, and Nike released a tennis shoe in honor of the holiday, with colored piping and ever-so-faint sugar skulls.”

Only a few years ago this holiday was unknown.  But now Day of the Dead celebrations are taking place in many parts of our country.  “The holiday,” notes the World article, “has established itself as a part of the Halloween retail juggernaut.”  Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virigina Commonwealth University believes, “We’ll continue to see more Day of the Dead shrines and altars……in places we wouldn’t expect.  The more people are rethinking death, the more Mexican culture is becoming relevant.”

I live in a Senior living complex.  My wife and I are surrounded with the reality of death every day.  At our age more relatives and friends are dying.  We both talk about being in the ‘fourth quarter” of our earthly journey.  To me what is interesting in the World’s article is the reference to the “postive death movement.” “There is an encouragement to talk about death and plan for it.  But few in the movement acknowledge any afterlife.”

Men, don’t be fearful of your own death.  Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you.  He tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).

Paul was torn between remaining in his body and going home to be with the Lord.  “For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better” says Paul. “Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ.  I really don’t know which is better.  I’m torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ.” (Phil 1:21-23).  He reminded the Corinthians, “that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:6).

Men, take the lead in your family.  Talk about our dying, or the dying of one of your family members.  Help them visualize the great future they have because of the resurrection of Jesus.  Peter tells us, “Because  Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new lie and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven – and the future starts now” (I Peter 1:4-5 MGS).

If your kids haven’t been to a funeral, make sure they get to one when a relative or friend dies.  Expose them to the reality of death.  Your  attitude help them to become comfortable with being foreigners in this world.  In Chapter 11 of Hebrews, where we read about the great heroes of faith we are told: “They agreed that they were no more than foreigners and nomads here on earth.  And obviously people who talk like that are looking forward to a country they can call their own” (Heb. 11:13-14 NLT).

So everyday, men check your perspective.  With Paul remember, “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (II Cor. 4:18 NLT).  Develop that upward focus, with your eyes on Jesus and eternity.

Peanut Butter Falcon

I want to see the movie entitled, “Peanut Butter Falcon.”   David French wrote a review with the heading, “A film with a Conservative Soul teaches three great truths of manhood.”  The movie is  “about a boy becoming a man.”  It happens “through ancient forms of tradition and ritual that are disguised behind the modern frame of the unconventional, accidental family.”

Zak is a young man living in a nursing home because of his disabilities (down syndrome).  Zak longs to escape and find his hero, Saltwater Redneck, a professional wrestler.  He flees the home and meets up with Tyler who is also on the run.  Together they drift down the waterways in the South on a handmade raft.  For Zak the journey is about manhood: “it’s about manhood in a deeply traditional sense.”  French sees the trip communicating three profound truths.

First, a man needs his journey.  Tyler agrees to help Zak find Saltwater Redneck’s wrestling school.  Tyler tell Zak they are going to have “stories.”  In their heroic journey Zak comes “to greater life.” “You can see him walk in new confidence” observes French. “The brushes with disaster and his courageous responses start to define him.”

In modern manhood life is comfortable and safe. “Yet” French maintains, “there is something inside most men that rebels against comfort and safety.”  French insists, “That’s an impulse that should be nurtured and cultivated – even celebrated – not denied and suppressed.  In our comfortable, therapeutic society manhood does not happen by default.  Risk and adventure are not part of life for young men.”

Second, a man needs his strength.  “There is a moment” French remembers, “in the film that encapsulates the way a therapeutic society and mindset can sap a man of his confidence.”  Eleanor who took care of him at the nursing home find him and wants him to take his medicine and come back to the home.  But Zak is now a new man and wants to hang on to that strength.

Young men don’t need to be cuddled, but given encouragement and confidence so  they can face the hardships of life.  In this way they begin to taste the reality of manhood.

Finally, a man needs his dad.  The movie isn’t just about Zak, but also about Tyler, who is transformed into a loving, protective father figure.  As French notes, “Zak finds his manhood, Tyler finds his purpose, and his purpose is in leading and loving Zak….a young man’s restless energy shouldn’t be indulged or suppressed, it should be shaped and directed.”  Tyler is acting as a father figure building up Zak’s strength while protecting him from harm.

If young men do not have fathers, they need what French calls, “a ringleader.”  They don’t stand on the sidelines.  Rather they are participants in the journey.

“Energy and vitality” are often discouraged in young men.  Thus, in French’s estimation: “Young men grow up without facing defining moments.  They don’t know who they are. They don’t know who they can be.  They’re overly protected at best and scorned at worst.”  They need to be encouraged on their journey to be strong so that one day they can sense their calling as a man.

Personally, I can see myself in all three of French’s points  First, at 18 my folks let me go as I ventured out to Southern California, and found myself as a man.  Secondly, there were many ups and downs in my life.  But I can vividly remember realizing at 28 years of age a confidence in my manhood.  Thirdly, I am so grateful for the Godly men in my life, who helped me become a man.  I desperately needed father figures.

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