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: February 2020

Lion and the Lamb

In my studying of the book of Revelation, I have  been impressed with the image given to us by John of Jesus as both the Lion of Judah and the lamb of God.  In Rev 5:5-6 we read, “Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.  He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain…..'”

N. T. Wright commenting on this passage, notes, “….now we come to one of the most decisive moments in all scripture.  What John has heard is the announcement of the lion.  What he then sees is the lamb.  He is to hold what he has heard in his head while gazing at what he now sees; and he is to hold what he is seeing in his head as  he reflects on what he has heard.”

Wright goes on to say, “The lion is the symbol both of ultimate power and of supreme royalty, while the lamb symbolizes both gentle and vulnerability, and through its sacrifice, the ultimate weakness of death. But the two are now to be fused together, completely and for ever.”

In the rest of Revelation Jesus is continually referred to as the Lamb.  What we read is counter-intuitive to our modern sensitivities.  When the first four seals are broken to loose the four men of the Apocalypse, it is the Lamb of opens the seals.  Then the enemies of God cry out, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.  For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (6:16-17).  In the final battle with the enemies of God, we read, “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and king of kings – and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers” (17:14).

Men, receive what I am about to affirm in you.  If you know Jesus as your Lord, you have the Spirit of the Lion and the Lamb within you.  “This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit…..Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God”(I John 4:13,15 – Message).

I almost am tempted to change the title of my blog site for men to that of “The Lion and the Lamb.”  Why?  Because this seemingly contradictory reality was lived out perfectly in the life of Jesus.  Now that reality can live our own hearts because we have been giving the very spirit of God. “We know that we live in him and he  in us, because he has given us of his Spirit”( I John 5:13). 

The reality of the Lion and the Lamb in our hearts, solves the tension between being tough and tender.  We can be sensitive, submissive, and humble, while still being strong, bold and courageous as a lion.

So my encouragement to you is to allow yourself to be filled with the Spirit of God.  Continually ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that you might know when to be a lamb and when to be a lion.  It will take discernment,  

 

 

Entering Mission Territory

These were the words of Arthur Brooks, in his address at the 68th National Prayer Breakfast.  He asked the audience to imagine a sign above the door reading, “You are Now Entering Mission Territory.”  He was encouraging biblical love amid what he called a nationwide, “crisis of contempt and polarization.” He noted, “contempt is ripping our country apart.” 

Brooks, who described himself as a “follower of Jesus,” reminded listeners that Jesus taught us to love God and to love each other.  Today,” he observed “the biggest crisis facing our nation and many other nations [is] the crisis of contempt and polarization that’s tearing our societies apart.”

In our cultural crisis, Brooks called for “moral courage,” which he defines not as, “standing up to those with whom you disagree…..[its] standing up to those with whom you agree on behalf of those with whom you disagree.”  I want to recommend this suggestion to the readers of this blog.

Men, we need to stand together in our desire to love our enemies.  Brooks thinks that talk of civility and tolerance is not enough, “because civility and tolerance are a low standard.”  Jesus didn’t say “tolerate your enemies.”  He said, “love your enemies.”  Our calling as followers of Jesus is to answer hate with love.  To do this is to be “subversive and counter-intuitive” in a culture that is getting more polarized.

Brooks give us men three pieces of advise.  May we pick up the mantle and take the lead in following his advice.  First,”ask God to give you the strength to do this hard thing, to go against your human nature, to follow Jesus’ teaching.”  Brooks encourages us to ask God to “take political contempt from your heart.”  If it’s to hard, you might have to fake it for a time.

Secondly, “make a commitment to someone else to reject contempt.”  We are going to have disagreements.  Brooks calls it “the competition of ideas.”  There will  be times when we need somebody to hold us accountable.

Thirdly, “go out looking for contempt.”  Why?  I love what Brooks had to say.  May this burn into the souls of godly men. “Because when people treat you with hatred and you answer with love, you change the country.  It’s like being a missionary.  This is your opportunity to show people what leadership is all about.  Run toward the darkness, bring your light.”

Notice what Brooks says about leadership.  Men, it take moral courage to stand for what you know is right.  You will be hated and misunderstood.  We need to be able to take the arrows?  Yes! Brooks encourages us to “run toward the darkness.”  Why?  Because we have the light.

Interestingly, President Trump who was in attendance, after hearing Mr. Brooks remarks, seemed to go off-script at the end of his remarks and had this to say. “I’m sorry, I apologize.  I’m trying to learn,” he said, appearing to return to the question posed by Brooks.  “When they impeach you for nothing, you’re supposed to like them?  It’s not easy, folks.  I’m doing my best.”  

Men, I include this remark from our president, as a strong reminder to pray for our president.  We are strongly encouraged to do so. “The first thing I want you to do is pray.  Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.  Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well…” (I Tim 2:1-3 – Message).

 

 

 

 

 

Curled Up

Men, I am learning more and more to live in the darkness.  I love the Michael W. Smith song,  “Light to You.”  It is based on Ps.139: 11-12, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is a light to you.”

Darkness will descends upon us in our walk with the Lord, when we find ourselves in circumstances in which we are not able find a solution for the lack of peace and “the heaviness of soul.”  Our effort and understanding will not produce any lasting results.  There will not seem to be a way out.  Let me tell you, God is in the very center of what is going on if your desire is to know God

For me it has gotten to the point, where I just want to go away and hide from reality.  I am confessing to you men that it is similar to a little boy curling up in the womb living in self pity.  I testify to you men that the darkness has been significant lately. 

I am so thankful for those who have helped me integrate more of the teaching of St John of the Cross in my walk with Jesus.  He informs us that “faith is like a ray of darkness.”  I read that years ago and it made little sense to me.  Now I am starting to get.  I am learning to trust God in the darkness.  I hope it is an encouragement to a brother reading this post.

The key is what I desire.  I desire God more then anything else.  Desire takes me beyond my thinking and doing.  I have come to the understanding that God loves me unconditionally.  I do not say that lightly.  To come to such a confession has meant being able to surrender and trust God’s goodness. 

The key lately has been allowing the love of God to penetrate into the deeper parts of my soul; what St John calls “the caverns of the soul.”  It is there that I can be found curled up in a womb-like position out of fear, filled with self pity as to what is going on in my every day life.

I testify to you men that there is nothing I can do accept receive God’s love for me.  Since I don’t understand what is going on nor can I fix my condition, it is really a “ray of darkness.”

Why is it darkness?  God’s light is so bright that it overwhelms my understanding of what is going on.  I just have to let it happen.  By being open and willing to receive I create space for God to enter and bring healing.

I know today as I write this blog, that the Lord is bringing new healing to the “caverns of my soul.”  My advice is as follows: First, desire God above all things in our life.  Second, open your heart to receive the love of God, thus making space for his presence to bring healing to your “wound.”  Thirdly, accept the darkness.  Faith is like a “ray of darkness” doing God’s healing work in your soul.

Then remember your desire to want to be free.  Only God can bring you lasting freedom from your bondage and brokenness.  At this moment I testify to you that I can celebrate the freedom that He has given me.  I don’t want to go back to depending on my attempts to patch up my wounded soul.  

 

 

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