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: March 2020

C.S. Lewis & Coronavirus

Here are some thoughts from C.S. Lewis.  Written 72 years ago, we simply need to replace “atomic bomb with “coronavirus.”  These words should be taken to heart by each of us, men in whatever leadership capacity we find ourselves.  This is especially true when with each passing day our normal routine of life are being disrupted.  It makes us very aware that we are in the midst of a global pandemic.

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb.  “How are we to live in an atomic age?”  I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, and age of paralysis, and age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation.  Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways.  We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors – anesthetics; but we have that still.  It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.”

My wife and I live in a comfortable senior apartment that fits our lifestyle just fine.  But we are seniors, who are being told to take extra precautions.  Everybody else in our building is doing the same thing.

Judy and I have prayed together each morning for many years.  Our prays include deep gratitude for all the good years he has given to us (54 years), his protection over us, and our desire to be his witness in the here an now.

That means that we need to be prudent and wise in our lifestyle choices for the next month or so.  We take all the necessary precautions that are asked of us.  But we do not live in fear.  

Men, I encourage you to read the story of King Jehoshaphat in II Chronicles, when he was faced with a vast enemy army.  He prayed, “O our God, will you not judge them?  For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (ll Chron. 20:12) 

Men, may you lead your family by keeping your eyes on the Lord.  A prophet spoke to the King, declaring, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s…..Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you” ( II Chron. 20:15,17).  

The next morning when the King went out with his army, he declared in confidence to the people, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem!  Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” (II Chron. 20:20). God gave them a mighty victory over their enemies

 

 

 

Yes, I am coming soon

These are the last words of Jesus in the book of Revelation. In our day with so much uncertainty due to the cornonavirus, the thoughts of many are turning to the last days and the book of Revelation.  Will Jesus be coming soon?

Ann Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, has suggested the new coronavirus might be a sign of the end times and stressed the importance of making “sure we are right with God so that we are ready to meet Him whenever the time comes.”  Max Lucado told The Christian post that the coronavirus “could be” a sign of the end times and encouraged Christians to “keep our Bibles and hearts open” more than ever before.

Revelation is like a drama in which we are taken behind the scenes of our present world, to get a glimpse of what God is doing.  Here are a few suggestions of what he might be saying to us, based on the book that claims to be, “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him [John] to show his servants what must soon take place” (Rev 1:1)    

First, Jesus is the beginning and the end.  “”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).  Then again in Rev. 22:12-13, “Behold, I am coming soon!….I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the End.”  The time line of history is securely in the hands of Jesus.  He is sovereign over all that is happening: from the first to the last. 

Second, something all new is coming!  The old will pass away.  We are looking for something much better. So don’t lose hope. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea…. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:3).

Third, the best is yet to come. It will be better than the Garden of Eden. “And the angel showed me a pure river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, coursing down the center of the main street.  On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve  crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month.  Its leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.  No longer will anything be cursed.  For the throne of God and of the  Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him.  And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads.  And there will be no night there – no need or lamps or sun – for the Lord God will shine on them.  And they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:1-5 NLT).  

Fourth, we are told to be patient and endure.  Men, we will get through this time.  The best is yet to come. “Let this encourage God’s holy people to endure persecution patiently and remain firm to the end, obeying his commands and trusting Jesus (Rev 14:12 NLT).

 

The Coronavirus

While I have been studying and teaching the book of Revelation a world wide pandemic is being discussed in the media. Revelation portrays such events.  In Revelation 6:8 we read, “And I looked up and saw a horse whose color was pale green like a corpse.  And Death was the name of its rider, who was followed around by the Grave.  They were given authority over one fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword an famine and disease and wild animals.”

The implication is that God allows such things to happen on the earth.  They are meant to make us insecure and vulnerable, remind of our need for God, leading to repentance.   

The coronavirus could be an example of God allowing an extraordinary event in the world, to be a sober reminder that we are not in charge.  In Revelation, heaven declares the sovereignty of God over nature. “You are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created  all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Rev. 4:11). 

The folks over at Breakpoint remind us of Chuck Colson’s favorite Kuyper-ism quote: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!'”  It is good for us to be reminded that Jesus is in control, even in the midst of a crisis.

But how does world-wide disease play out in history with all the suffering that has to be endured.   N. T. Wright has been helpful for me in gaining an over view of the suffering depicted in Revelation and God’s purposes for a new heaven and earth.  He writes, “Revelation is…….a cosmic version of the tough pastoral struggle over the deeply wounded soul.  The soul of the world is aware of immediate problems and pains; but unless we look deeper, to the ancient patterns of conquest violence, oppression, and death itself we shall not begin to understand what needs to be done if the world is to be healed, really healed rather than merely patched together for a few more years.”  

Revelation pull the curtain open so that we can see the impact the spiritual realm is having on earth.  Revelation is like a drama unfolding before us as follower of the Lamb, who is Lord of history.  We see God at work ultimately bringing our world to a final conclusion, in making all thing new. From the throne God says, “I am making everything new!”

My study of Revelation and the fragile condition of life among us, has produced several resolves in my heart, for the days ahead.  I encourage each reader of this blog to join me.

First, I surrender totally to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is Lord.  “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun the reign” (Rev 11:17).  I choose the follow the Lamb.

Secondly, I am aware that there is a mighty battle raging between the lamb and Satan.  Satan knows that his time is short and he is full of fury.  (Rev 12:13). I put myself under the Lordship of Jesus to be protected from the evil one

Thirdly, I am so thankful to know that in the end, the kingdom of God will be established on the earth. (Rev 11:15)  I pray daily for his kingdom to come.

Finally, I sincerely ask God for strength and grace to endure whatever suffering might occur for those who follow the Lamb in the days to come.

 

 

“The Man”

I was given a tip to view the recent video of Taylor Swift’s new song “The Man.”  Now I know very little about Taylor Swift.  I care even less for her music.  But I took the tip and viewed the video because it had the title of “The Man.” 

Haley Victory Smith, in a review said this about the song: “This anti-sexist battle hymn decries the injustice of society’s double standards.”  Swift sings, “If I was a man, then I’d be the man.” She laments, “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can/ Wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man.”

I am a 78 year old grandpa, of two wonderful granddaughters, who are  comfortable, each in their own way, living out their femininity.  If I were Taylor’s grandpa, this would be my advice for her with all the success she has had in her young career.

Taylor don’t focus on “the man.”  Celebrate your success as a woman.  Use your position to help girls become comfortable with their femininity.  I plead with you to see “the man” as God’s compliment to your being a woman.  Men carry a “deep wound”  because they are not affirmed in their masculinity.  They need other men to help them.

Don’t play the victim card.  Taylor, take some good advice from a long time crusading feminist, Camilla Paglia.  Think of yourself as a “street smart Amazon feminist.” See yourself as “a warrior at every moment.”  Celebrate your sense of dignity as a creative, successful young woman.  You have made it. Use it to bring healing between men and women

Don’t fall for what Christina Hoff Sommers calls, “fainting couch feminism.”  Don’t model yourself after young women who feel, “like fragile little birds in need of protection.”   Sommers laments seeing, “talented, idealistic young women turning inward – away from a world that needs them.”

Taylor,  you have an “incredibly successful brand [that] is uniquely feminine.”  I agree with Ms. Smith, that part  of your appeal is “your unabashed femininity.”  You have won the right to speak  into lives of millions of young girls.  Please, help them to be affirmed in their femininity. 

You sing about being “sick of of them (I assume men),  coming at me again.”  Towards the end of your song, you talk about “hustling,” as you “put in the work.”  You are concerned that, “they wouldn’t shake their heads/And question how much of this I deserve/ What I am wearing, if I was rude/Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves.” 

Taylor, you are a very attractive young women.  I’m sure you remember the controversy with the halftime show during the recent super bowl.  A lot of what was on display was simply the objectifying of the female body, for the sake of a male culture.

Taylor, you know full well that there is a “war of the sexes” in our culture.  As a grandpa, I appeal to you to be a role model of modesty.  Don’t put anymore pressure on young girls to become any more body conscious then they are.  Help them in your performing to celebrate a strong, confident feminine presence.

But Taylor, you need to keep in mind what it is to “be the man.”  Every man, especially young men, have a “tiger in their tank.” Male sexuality needs to be tamed.  Don’t fall for the need to be seductive.  Don’t allow yourself to be a “sex symbol.”

But most of all, encourage and call out young men, to be all that they can be as young men, created equal in God’s eyes.  Our culture needs strong men as well as strong women.  You can be a great influence.      

   

    

The Center Cannot Hold

I believe William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming,” especially the first stanza is prophetic.  “Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The Falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart;  the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/ the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction while the worst/ are full of passionate intensity.”

The latest Gallup poll gives evidence that the center is not holding.  “The fact that the 10 most polarizing years have all occurred in the past 16 years,” notes Gallup, “affecting both Democratic and Republican presidents — underscores how politically polarized the nation has become.  There have always been partisan gaps in ratings of president, just not to the degree seen over the past two decades”

This poll is a good indication of what might be coming during this election year.  We are at a point where no one is going to be a real winner, because of the deep divide. Many observers of our culture are giving us fair warning for the stormy days ahead politically and culturally. 

But men, the good news is that we have someone who is at the center and holds things together. Paul makes this declaration in Col. 1:15-16, “He existed before God made anything at all and is supreme over all creation.  Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities.  Everything has been created through him and for him.  He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together”

Hebrews declares there is a creator who holds everything together simply by what He says. “God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end.  This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature.  He holds everything together by what he says – powerful words.” (Heb 1:2-3 – Message).

So men. remember in your thoughts and intentions to keep Jesus at the center.  He will hold not only the world together, but also our lives.  He tells us “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Yes, we are overcomers in this divided world, because we are committed first to Jesus and his kingdom.  John tells us, “…everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (I John 5:4-5)

Jesus has conquered all potential enemies by his death on the cross. “He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets” (Col 1:14-15 Message)

So men, Jesus has not only overcome all that is opposed to his kingdom, but we, as overcomers in him, are invited reign with him. “To him who overcomes I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Rev 3:21)

 

 

 

 

 

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