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 2020

Follow the lamb

Here is one more blog on the book of Revelation (note: not Revelations).  It was written to the “seven churches in the province of Asia” (Rev 1:4).  At the end of the first century, Christianity was a tiny minority, a movement considered to be a splinter group of Judaism. Try to image yourself committed to one of those small churches, wanting to spiritually flourish in the mighty Roman Empire.  You would be living in an indifferent and sometimes hostile environment, with the increasing pressure to worship the Emperor of Rome.  

The Empire was the undisputed ruler of the known world.  Roman civilization was impressive.  There were signs of its glory everywhere.  There were treasures of art and architecture to be seen along with magnificent temples that held lavish ceremonies.  Rome had a matchless legal and political organization, all of which was protected by a huge and mighty army proud of all its victories.  

Confronted with such an imposing and well organized society and culture could easily intimidate members of the young churches, causing some to question whether following Jesus was realistic. Revelation was written to help those committed to Jesus to be assured that they would be victorious, especially as the persecution increased.

The visions and symbols of the book were meant to stimulate the imagination of believers to see the spiritual reality, one more real than their daily life in the Empire.  It was intended to say, “things are not the way they seem.”  The book as one observer noted was, “a kind of  ‘therapy’ for believers who were in danger of being blinded and deafened by the environment in which they lived.” One such symbol is the Lamb.

 In Revelation the Roman Empire is portrayed as a great prostitute with her seductive powers of adultery and idolatry.  But heaven declares that mighty Rome has fallen.  “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great…For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries.  The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries” (Rev 18:2a, 3)

It is Jesus, the lamb of God that defeats the forces of darkness.  We read in Rev 17:14, “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.” In heaven they rejoice, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise” (Rev 5:12).  

All of heaven rejoices and shouts out in victory.  God, “has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants” (Rev 19:2).  Then an angel tells John, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” (Rev 19:7).  And the angel added, “These are true words of God” (Rev 19:9)

Men, the seductive power of our culture which is similar to Babylon is indeed seductive.  It has caused many men to compromise.  Many men in our churches live in a kind of spiritual stupor because of the influence of the harlot.

Like the Moravians, whose spiritual cry was “to follow the lamb,” I challenge each of you to be a follower of the Lamb.  May this be said of us, “These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure.  They follow the Lamb wherever he goes.  They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.  No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless” (Rev.14:4).  



Behold, I am coming soon

These are words from the book of Revelation. I have been studying Revelation for the last couple of months, while teaching the adult Sunday School class at my church.  One can be overwhelmed by the various interpretations of all the symbols and visions.  But this could be a trick of the enemy to keep believers from this unique book.    I hold unto the promise in 1:3, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”

The cry of my heart for some time has been, “Lord, what are you saying to the prophets.”  My contention is that the days ahead will be darker for followers of Jesus.  This was certainly true for the young church in the first century during the reign of the mighty Roman Empire.

But we know this: 1) We have the word of truth in Scripture, 2) Jesus is Lord over history  3) We reign with Jesus in his kingdom and 4) God speaks to his people through the prophets. The Revelation tells us not to be afraid. “Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Rev. 1:18).

The first century followers of Jesus eagerly awaited for the return of Jesus. They firmly believed the reign of Christ on the earth was more certain the the victory of evil.  The book is meant to give hope to the followers of Jesus.  One author observed, “Revelation touches at the point of our despair, our world-weariness, our future shock, our fear of persecution, our collaboration with an anti-Christ society.  It is quite possibly the most relevant book of the Bible for this moment in history.”  

Here are four reasons why we should be acquainted with the message of Revelation. First, We learn how to live in a post-Christian culture.  The small churches in Asia Minor faced external persecution from a hostile culture that had a seductive influence.  The churches had to also combat lethargy in its midst.  We too, can be attracted to the culture, tempted by its life-style and thinking.

Secondly, Revelation unmasks the powers of darkness.  It opens the curtain so we can see what is taking place in the spiritual realm, alerting us as to how the powers of darkness tempt us and fight against us.  Thirdly, we can celebrate the victory of Jesus, as Lord and King.  The  wonderful worship in Revelation declares the victory obtained for us through the blood of Jesus (5:9).  We are able to see ourselves as overcomers in Jesus, even though it might not seem that way at times.

Fourthly, Revelation helps us to see beyond this world.  Revelation give us a wonderful vision of the new heaven and new earth.  Because we tend to easily focused on the “here and now,” we need to embrace the compelling vision of our final home and destination prepared for us by Jesus  Fifthly, we gain the assurance of God’s sovereign control.  Revelation helps us to understand that God is still in control of a world that seems to be spinning out of control.

So do your self a favor.  Read the Revelation of Jesus.  Ask God for guidance and discernment.  One of the promises of Revelation should be an encouragement to to you. “Behold, I am coming soon!  Blessed is he who keeps the words of this prophecy in this book” (Rev 22:7).    


Kneeling in Prayer

You might assume  I am writing a blog about some good experience I’ve had in my prayer life.  But that is not the case.  I am writing to tell of an experience I recently had with my wife and sister, as I knelt in prayer before them.  It certainly went against my natural inclinations as a man. 

I use myself as an example of what is typical of men in their spiritual life.  We have difficulty being vulnerable, not being able to “fix” what is wrong in our spiritual walk.  It is hard for us to admit that we have needs, especially to other women.  There comes a time when we are meant to let go, stop managing our spiritual life and simply surrender to God’s love for us, by crying out for mercy.

This was the case in my life, when my only sister came for a visit.  There are only the two of us.  Ann Marie is three years younger then myself.  I am very thankful for how our relationship has grown in these last years.  She is an understanding and very perceptive person.

I have had some spiritual struggles, that I finally was able to admit to her.  This was not easy as the older, “spiritual,” pastor brother.  I had to admit how needy I was to my younger sister.  She was able to pinpoint my dilemma as that of being anxious. It seemed to her, that I was manifesting some of the same traits that our father had when he was my age.  I didn’t like what I was hearing.  

So I had to digest what I was receiving in a very loving and concerned manner from my wife and sister.  Both They both agreed that I was struggling with anxiety.  As I was on my prayer walk alone, I sensed that I needed to humble myself before both my wife and sister, by kneeling at the couch, so that they could pray for me. 

Now this was not easy for me to do.  But I knew God wanted me to do this so that I could get some release from what was going on in my soul.  I knelt and confessed my sin of unbelief and my inability to get out of the spiritual slump I was experiencing.  Then I asked them to lay hands on me and pray. 

I can report that I have gotten some release from inner darkness, along with a freedom to avoid being curled up within, focused on my need rather than trusting Jesus to carry me.  It will continue to be a process. But I can testify that when I humbled myself before them and asked for prayer, something got released within my soul so I could gain a new perspective on my journey.

The main reason for writing about this prayer experience is the comment that my sister made after our prayer.  She said something to this effect: “I wish more men would do what you have done.”  I was surprised at her comment

Again it demonstrates how God can use our weakness, to be our strength.  At the end of Jesus parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, Jesus says of the tax collector who cried out for God to be merciful to him as a sinner, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).  

My advice – don’t resist humbling yourself and seeking help for spiritual needs and struggles, particularly from women who love you. 





Another Beer Ad

Have you see the Dos Equis beer ad when you have been watching sports on TV?  It’s the one with three guys in an old row boat fishing.  A dad, son and a grandfather are sharing time together.

The father goes into the ice chest and pulls out two Dos Equis beers.  The dad, trying to be serious, says to his son, “Son, I need to tell you something.”  The young son responds, “What is it, Dad?” In a rather sober tone the father says to his son, as he looks at a label the bottle of beer, “If you have any question call 1-877-522-5001.”  The son, encouraged by that bit of advice, says in a heartfelt manner, “Dad, I’ve always wanted to hear you say that.”  The grandfather, having heard the exchange, adds his two-cents with, “I wish my Dad would have said that to me.” 

The beer ad ends by a voice encouraging the viewers of the ad the make father and son times specially by having a Dos Equis beer.  That’s it!  Forget any heart to heart conversation between men.  If you have any question call the number.  I called the number and hung up.  It’s the beer company.  I wonder what kind of wisdom they have for  men and their masculinity.

The ad, in my opinion, touches a nerve in the souls of many men.  It exposes the wound in the soul of men; that of an absent father. Why else would a beer company spend valuable advertising unless they got the attention of men.  I know they got mine. 

The tone of the conversation, in the fishing boat, was meant to be sober and reflective.  It is saying in a back handed way, “Men, we have a problem.  We don’t know how to deal with the real issues of the heart.  The best thing to do is call the beer company and then go out a enjoy a beer together.”

The ad actually makes me mad.  Communication of the heart between father and son is a vital.  Here it is made to seem trivial.  Instead of the soul talk that a young man with father hunger so desperately needs, we have a grandfather living with regret and a Dad failing miserably to share with his son.

Thomas Wolfe, writing about the search for father, observes, “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.”

My take on the ad – Grandfather and father missed a wonderful chance to speak life into a young man soul.  Their own lack of fathering didn’t allow them to pass on masculinity.  They had neither the words or the courage to go “below the surface.” That is the crisis of our day among men.  They have not been fathered, so they cannot pass on a healthy masculinity. 

To me this ad is a modern day lament.  It is the cry of young men needing to hear the masculine voice.  Men, don’t miss the opportunities you are given, like those in the boat, to speak life into the souls of sons and other young men in our life.    


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