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: November 2019

There was Jesus

At the recent CMA Awards, where women of country music were honored and highlighted, Dolly Parton was a central part of the evening, helping to host the event.  Dolly took the event to a higher level later in the evening with some faith-filled songs, teaming with Christian artists For King and Country and Zach Williams.  In the duet Parton, a country western icon, sang at the top of her voice “There was Jesus. (amazing) After the medley was done, Parton declared, “Praise God!” (Wow)

I write about this event for several reasons.  First, I like country music.  I am personally moved by the duet.  Secondly, it is amazing to me how God is able to brake through the hard crust of modern secularism, with the message of love and grace.  Thirdly, I want share some thoughts from the duet with Zach Williams, entitled “There was Jesus.”

Men, I strongly suggest that you watch Zach Williams’ concert at Harding prison.  I was moved to tears as I listened and watch Williams minister to hardened prisoners.  He is the real deal in my opinion.  His soulfulness connected with those inmates.  Watch it for yourself.

Here are some of the lyrics that speak to the journey of men in our day.  “Every time I tried to make it on my own/ Every time I tried to stand and start to fall/ And all those lonely roads that I have traveled on/ There was Jesus.”  Men, whatever detour you’ve taken, whatever ditch you might be in, you can be assured that Jesus, stand there waiting for you to look to him.  Hear Jesus say, “Take courage!  It  is I. Don’t be afraid” (Mark 6:50).  In the midst of the storm “There was Jesus.” 

Here’s some more lyrics. “When the life I built came crashing to the ground/ When the friends I had were nowhere to be found/ I couldn’t see it then but I can see it now/ “There was Jesus.”  Men, like myself, you will crash and feel all alone.  But hear his words to you, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  There was Jesus

Finally, the refrain, “In the waiting, in the searching/ In the healing and the hurting/ like a blessing buried in the broken pieces/ Every minute, every moment/ Where I’ve been and where I’m going/ Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it/ There was Jesus.” 

Today, the words of this refrain might speak directly to your situation.  In the midst of your searching and hurting, “like a blessing buried in the broken pieces” you might not feel it or understand it, but his presence is with you to care for you. 

I speak from recent personal experience in my own journey.  My best advice, look up in faith into the face of Jesus (not focused on you) and cry out for him to be merciful to you as wandering and hurting sinful man.  He will meet you at your point of need.  Remember “There was Jesus.”  We read in Ps. 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds.” 

Again, do yourself a favor and go to the YouTube videos of Zach’s ministry at Harding prison.  You will be moved to tears.  I believe the guy is anointed to speak to the broken hearts of men.  He is singing from a deep place in his own soul, that connects with the hurts of men.  He is not niece and fluffy.  He is deep, sincere, and passionate about exposing hurt and pain and bringing them to Jesus.  

“Go Home”

Recently John MacArthur accused the Southern Baptist Convention of theological error, in allowing women preachers to speak at the SBC’s 2019 annual meeting.  “When you literally overturn the teaching of Scripture to empower people who want power, you have given up biblical authority,” said MacArthur.

On panel discussion after the convention, a moderator asked MacArthur and his fellow panelists to offer their gut reaction to one – or two-word phrases.  When the moderator said “Beth Moore,” the female preacher who had spoken at the convention, MacArthur replied, “Go home.”  Of course, it created a fire storm on the internet.

“Go home” implying that a women place should be in the home.  But is  this comment can apply to men as well.

Jen Pollock Michel got me to thinking about this matter of the home.  Michael writes, “In the Bible, home has never primarily been a woman’s place…..Any church teaching that solely consigns women to the responsibilities of home proves exegetically paper-tin.”

She reminds us that, “Prior to the Industrial Revolution in the West, the spheres of work and home were not as discretely divided as today, with men leaving to earn the bacon, women staying to fry it. Homes were public places of industry and business as well as private residence.”

I have met men who either grew up on a farm or whose father ran a business out of the home, allowed the children to work right along side of their father  This gave them a real sense of who dad was, as he related to them throughout the day.  They got a good dose of Dad, for good and bad.

That is missing in our day.  Dads go of the work and are away from the home for much of the time.  Moms then fill in much of the home space for dad.  It is generally accepted that the Industrial Revolution changed the perception of the father’s role in the family. He was now the “bread winner,” while Mom stayed at home and nurtured the children.  Dad was absent.

Men, I remember well the time in my early marriage when I had no concept of “being home” as a young pastor. I was gun-ho on saving the world and being good to other folks.  But I forgot my home.  It was not my first priority.  This was in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  But when I was exposed to the clear teaching of Scripture on order in the home, the light came on for me.  

I was deeply convicted.  I was not loving my wife the way Jesus loved the church and I was not being the one and only father to my children.

So in my heart and mind, I had to “Go Home.”  Or as Focus On The Family used to say, I needed to “turn my  heart toward home.”  I needed to first get my convictions straight and then practice those convictions.  

Men, I realize that you can’t be at home similar to the good, old days.  That is unrealistic.  But, and hear me when I say, in your heart and mind you need to “go home.”

This is what it meant for me.  First, home was my greatest priority.  Second, I had to demonstrate this in my lifestyle. (Being there emotionally was the hardest for me).  Third, this meant loving my wife the way Jesus loved the church and being emotionally and physically involved with my three kids.  Fourthly, repenting of my failure to be at home emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Finally, humbly asking the Lord to help me “Stay at Home,” 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

What do I want when I want to be embraced?

How would you respond to this question? The sentence above is the subtitle from a chapter on fathers in James Smith’s new book on Augustine, entitled “On the Road with Saint Augustine.”  Smith described Augustine’s spiritual life as that of being on a journey back home to the Father.

 Many men are on the road looking for their fathers. It could very well be the oldest story.  “You do not stop hungering for your father’s love,” Paul Auster notes, “even after you are grown up.”  Speaking of his father, Auster laments, “It was not that I felt he disliked me.  It was just that he seemed distracted, unable to look in my direction.  And more than anything, I wanted him to take notice of me.” 

The description of a father being distracted and not noticing is something I felt very deeply as a young boy.  I was never fathered by my Dad, even though he cared about me and was a good provider.  I longed for my father’s embrace.  I never was able to receive his approval of myself as a man.   

Smith quotes Thomas Wolf ‘s observation about our search, “….the deepest search in life…the thing that in one way or another was central to all living was man’s search to find a father, not merely the father of his flesh, not merely the lost father of his youth, but the image of a strength and wisdom external to his need and superior to his hunger, to which the belief and power of his own life could be united.”

As a young man, I had no idea that I was searching for the approval of my heavenly Father.  To me, God, the Father was distant, viewing me as incapable of his approval.  Thus, my hyper performance orientation, even as a pastor.  It took some time on the journey before I know that I was being embraced by my heavenly Father, who was “strength and wisdom” exterior to my needs.

Augustine, became known as the doctor of grace, because Jesus brought him to a father who came looking for him.  That looking is grace. As Augustine searched on the road, he was found by his father and brought home. 

At the heart of the Good News, told to us by Jesus, is the wonderful truth that speaks to the deep hunger for a caring father; one who we can came to know and be loved by.  We can celebrate the news that we have a father who comes looking for us, who adopts us, who chooses us and “who sees you a long way off and comes running and says, ‘I’ve been waiting for you.'”

Men on the road looking for an absent, distant father, like myself, are covering up a deep desire.  It is that of a father, who would come looking for them.  The arrow of hunger Smith notes is, “reversed and the father would return.”  

Could some man reading the blog today sense the brokenness and loneliness of their journey, as a need to be embraced because of a father hunger that goes much deeper then words can express.

This father hunger, when embraced, helps us embrace a deeper longing to be seen and known by the One who made us. 

Men, drink deeply from this great quote by Augustine.  “To be comforted by the word of God’s grace unto the hope of pardon of our sins is to return after a long journey to obtain from a father the kiss of love.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Manhood Must Be Taught

“Healthy masculinity is not natural,” notes Glenn Stanton.  “It must be constructed.”  This is not the case with a woman.  “Her biological make-up ensures the girl will more naturally grow into a healthy woman.  As her body matures, internally and externally, it sends her and those around her an unmistakable message of what she is and what she is becoming.  It moves her in a very particular direction with great force.  Her family and community treat her differently because of it,” notes Stanton.

“Not so with men,” George Gilder states in his book Men and Marriage. “Unlike a woman, a man has no civilized role or agenda inscribed in his body.”  He must find, learn and activate his social role. Maleness simply happens.  It is not the same with manhood.  Manhood must be constructed and cultivated.  If not, there can develop a perpetual male adolescence that we see in our culture today.  

Manhood is a behavior that needs to be taught and bestowed upon a young man by his family and other men.  Margaret Mead observed this necessity: “In every known human society, everywhere in the world, the young male learns that when he grows up, one of the things which he must do in order to be a full member of society is to provide food [and protection] for some female and her young….Every known human society rests firmly on the learned nurturing behavior of men.” But she warns: “This behavior being learned is fragile and can disappear rather easily under social conditions that no longer teach it effectively.”  How true this is in our day.

One of the significant, destabilizing forces in a culture is unchecked male sexuality and strength.  “If a society does not find a way to bring these under control,” warns Stanton, “society is impossible to sustain, and very bad things happen.” 

These observations by Stanton and Mead speak to the heart of my passion to continue this blog site.  I continue to “sound the trumpet” for male mentors.  Manhood needs to be achieved with the help of the company of elders.  

I am one voice crying out in the confused wilderness of today’s gender wars, for men to rise up and take their place as mentors to their sons, grandsons and other young men in their lives. Manhood is a behavior that must be taught and an identity bestowed by other men.  We need to step forth. 

I agree with author Erica Komisar, when she suggests boys, “should not be told that having more masculine traits make them lesser.  They should be told to harness that energy productively.”  It is other men who will help harness this energy.  

Men, don’t allow the angry voices in the gender wars cause you to doubt who you are in Christ.  You are his beloved as a man.  “For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2:10). 

Together, as younger and older men, we can do our small part in restoring manhood in our day. “You younger men, accept the authority of the elders.  And all of you, serve each other in humility, for ‘God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble'” (I Pet. 5:5-6). 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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