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: May 2021 (Page 1 of 3)

May 31, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this holiday weekend!  We had a wonderful time with relatives at the lake and enjoyed staying at the cabin. Lots of sharing and catching up; swimming, fishing, sauna and tubing for whoever wanted, wiener roast, and coffee times. We also enjoyed going to The Lighthouse yesterday with some of the family. Catching up today and just got back from Aldi’s. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Today we celebrate Memorial Day and remember all those who have fought for our freedom and sacrificed so much. “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13. I would like to share a prayer by Debbie McDaniel expressing our gratitude for those who have so bravely served our nation.
“Dear God,
We thank you for the freedom you have given to us, and for the price that was paid by Christ so that we could live free. We remember today. The cost of it all. The great sacrifice for freedom. We thank you for the brave men and women who have fought, and continue to fight, so courageously for our nation. We ask for your covering and blessing over them and their families. We pray that you would be gracious and encircle them with your peace. We pray for your great favor and goodness to be evident in their lives. Please be with all those who wear the uniform, who serve our communities and nation every single day. We ask that you provide your protection, that you would be their guiding force who leads the way, and their rear guard who keeps them safe from behind. We ask that you would draw them to yourself amidst the dangers they face in a dark world, for you are the Truth, you are the Way, you are the Light. Help them to walk wisely. To stay covered in your armor. Give them godly discernment. Make them constantly aware of what lurks close by. Help them to be men and women of prayer, realizing that this is where their greatest help comes from. Help them to stay united and strong, bold and resolute, determined and unwavering. Bless their families. Bless those they love. Give them your great favor, this day, and every day. Thank you that in our nation today, we are free to worship. We are free to pray. We are free to read your Word.  We are free to speak.  We are free to share. For this, we are incredibly grateful. Yet, we understand how quickly these freedoms can be taken away. Give us an increased awareness of the spiritual battle we’re in. Help us to stand strong in you and for your purposes. Thank you that as believers, we can be assured, you will never leave us, and are with us always, in this life, and the next. Thank you for your truth that says, who the Son sets free is free indeed! We know that in you alone, true freedom is found.     In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen”
Challenge for today: Pray for those who fight for our freedom.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

 

Our Cheating Heart

The prophet Hosea was told to demonstrate God‘s love by marrying a prostitute and having children with her. This lived parable portrays Israel as a cheating wife. It reveals the depth of God’s pain and his love for his people.  He wants intimacy with his people but they continue to reject and betray him.  This message should prompt us to consider the ways we have cheated and been unfaithful to God, while he loves us at our worst, pursues us, and desires to see our relationship flourish.  “Once we absorb this story and the words that flow from it, we will know God far more accurately” (Eugene Peterson). 

In Chapter 11, Hosea boldly expresses his fatherly heart. Verse 1 portrays God’s love as that of a Father for his son. “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”  “He is our hurting Father who did everything he could for his children, only to be taken for granted, let down, and abandoned…” (Goldingay).  Verses 3-4 portray a father’s love in helping his child take its first steps. “It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms.”  But the Father’s love is rejected, as “…they did not realize it was I who healed them.”

The heart of the Father is exposed when He laments his tender love being dismissed.  It is as though our heavenly Father’s heart has been broken.  “I led them with gentle encouragement, their harness was a harness of love.  I treated them like the man who eases the yoke to free the jaws – Yes, I bent down to them and gave them food” (v. 4 – Phillips).  Whether the rope (or harness) is taut or slack, it is always meant as loving discipline.

Still, the people dishonored God. “For my people are determined to desert me.  They call me the Most High, but they don’t truly honor me” (v. 7 NLT).  They used the acceptable religious jargon, but continued to trust the positive-sounding words of false prophets and slipped into idolatry and polytheism.

In verses 8-9 we have a picture of our Father God, agonizing over the lost state of his people. “How, oh how, can I give you up, Ephraim!  How, oh how, can I hand you over, Israel!  How can I turn you into a Sodom!  How can I treat you like a Gomorrah!  My heart recoils within me, all my compassion is kindled” (Phillips).  The Message says, “I can’t bear to even think such thoughts. My insides churn in protest.”

God expresses his steadfast love to his people, promising them that he will not “carry out [his] fierce anger, nor will [He] devastate Ephraim again” (v. 9).  What a wonderful and reassuring picture of the grace of God.  We don’t get what we deserve.  Rather, we can experience the grace of God anew.

God then reminds his people that he’s able to exhibit such amazing lovingkindness because he is God.  “For I am God, and not a man – the Holy One among you” (v. 9). As the holy, transcendent God, he expresses unconditional love rather than anger and hurt.  The depth of God’s love is demonstrated when love wins out over the attitudes of hostility, anger, and aggression.

Father, help me to:

  • desire an ever-deepening relationship with you (Eph. 1:17 NIV)
  • see my unfaithfulness in not taking time to listen for your voice, nor doing in faith what your Spirit prompts me to do (Luke 6:46)
  • be freed from the baggage preventing me from experiencing the healing you offer (Ex. 15:26)

 

May 29, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you have a wonderful weekend. We will be leaving this morning for the Silver Chateau and staying overnight. We are having a family gathering for a wiener roast tonight at the Point and tomorrow we plan to go to the Lighthouse for church and to Ann’s for dinner. In between we hope to see friends and coffee with family. Keep praying for Jodi whose husband suddenly died; she has twins, Sean and Chris, who are only 13 years old who all need prayers.  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Where is our treasure found? So many today are making wealth their God and wanting more and more; yet we are the richest country in the world with the highest standard of living. We are warned about not laying up treasure on earth for one day we leave it all behind and it doesn’t live up to the promise of bringing happiness.  In fact, it often brings more worries and pressures as it steals our peace with concerns of how we are going to protect all of it. None of us got to choose if we would be born into a family of means or a poor family just barely getting along. God gave us our station in life as He knew what was the best soil for our spiritual growth. When Al was in seminary, we were poor and had to watch every penny as we lived on Al’s part time salary but we were happy. In fact, we saw God’s hand provide for us in miraculous ways that brought so much gratitude to our hearts. But all of us have to guard our hearts for if we are wealthy, we can spend our time, trying to get only more and it will never be enough; or when we are poor our thoughts can primarily be focused on trying to get rich. But Jesus said in Matt. 19-20 (The Message), “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or –worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” Our focus should be on the Lord with the desire to know Him better, and who better knows our needs than the Lord? It’s in His presence that we find fullness of joy.  When Covid first hit, I think it taught us a few things about what is really important. We may be sitting with a fat bank account but yet we longed rather to just see our family and hug them again; or instead of going to a fancy restaurant, wished we could go to a praise gathering and be united with the Body of Christ. Now that things are more relaxed we are especially appreciative of these times. Money can’t buy what we are looking for; only in God can we experience peace and all that our heart longs for.
Challenge for today: Rejoice in the place God has put you and treasure His presence.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

May 28, 2021

Dear Ones,
As it is the beginning of Memorial weekend, let us not forget to honor and remember those that have sacrificed their lives for our country!  Today it is only 36 degrees out but the sun is shining! I am writing early as we are going to take a friend to the hospital this morning for a test, then to Costco to pick up a Birthday cake and then have a Birthday Party here to celebrate the May birthdays.  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Are there times we don’t feel like praying or cannot find the words to pray? Maybe the enemy puts obstacles in our way and tries to tell us that another time would be better as we aren’t in the mood right now etc. But if we keep putting it off, soon we seem to grow lazy and cold spiritually and no longer have a desire to pray.  When we studied about prayer in our Bible Study, we talked about barriers to prayer such as anger, pride, busyness, brokenness, disobedience etc. Those things become obstacles in our prayer lives. Maybe we have done things that we know are wrong or habits we need to give up but we are ashamed to come before Him. Praise God we have an advocate, a helper, who is the Holy Spirit and will come to our rescue. He intercedes for us as it says in Romans 8:26-28 (The Message), “God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.” The Holy Spirit knows us and will nudge us and help us, even though we don’t have the words. How often do we pray the Lord’s prayer and call God our Father?  When we do, we can be assured that we can come to Him any time, anywhere and He will hear and answer us.  He may not always answer us in the way we would like and the enemy may whisper to us that God doesn’t care or He is punishing us etc. But let us not believe his lies and instead firmly trust the Lord, accepting whatever answer He gives us.                                                                                            
Challenge for today: Pray the Lord’s prayer slowly and with faith and meaning.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

May 27, 2021

Dear Ones,
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We need to be alert and on guard for things can change in a moment when we are not expecting. Just this past weekend we were visiting friends and the weather was in the 80’s as predicted, so we dressed in summery clothes. Then it seemed in a matter of minutes it suddenly dipped down to 59 degrees about the time we were to eat outside on a beautifully set table. That morning I had slipped a sweater in the car before we left, even though I never thought I would need it. I was thankful that I was prepared for cooler weather, even though I had no idea it would happen. There are many changes taking place today as we can all attest to, and more to come, but are we prepared? We don’t know how the future is going to unfold but now is the time of preparation. Do we know the Lord ourselves and have received Him into our lives? “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12) And when we know Him, are we prepared to tell others about Him? Paul writes about how people are going to turn away from God and the truth but he said to Timothy in II Tim. 4:2 (ESV), “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” When things get worse, others are going to be looking for answers and more open to receive the Lord. We need to be ready to share our faith with them. We also prepare by putting on the armor of God each day so that we can stand in the difficult days and not fold. We need the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit. (Eph 6:13-17). We must also prepare our minds for action (I Peter 1:13) and feed on His word and promises. You can add many more things as you seek to get prepared but don’t wait! We don’t want to be like the 5 foolish virgins who were not ready and missed out on the wedding banquet. (Matt. 25:1-13) But rather let us be like the 5 wise ones who had their lamps trimmed and burning and were ushered into the marriage feast when the Lord appeared. Now is the time to get ready!
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord how you should be preparing for dark days ahead and follow through. 
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

May 26, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this day. This morning I made egg dishes and a zucchini cake and went to my exercise class, and this afternoon is creative crafts. The weather has certainly changed and  is only going to be in the 50’s today…going from sweating to sweaters!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I think we are all aware that church attendance is declining more each year; even before Covid the number of those who have no religious affiliation has continued to increase. Particularly large numbers of young adults are dropping out for a variety of reasons; 73% because of feelings that church members are judgmental and hypocritical, and 76% because they disagree on political or social issues. But the bottom line is America is becoming less Christian and does not see the need for the Lord and fellowship of the Body that was to be a place of refuge and healing.  How sad that we neglect the very One who gave everything for us. It says in Isaiah 53:5 (The Word), “He was wounded for our rebellious acts.  He was crushed for our sins. He was punished so that we could have peace, and we received healing from His wounds.” The Lord has given us Himself and also the gift of Christian community. No, the church is not perfect, for we are all imperfect people who make up the church. I was recently reading Al’s thesis and he talks about how we are meant to belong and not to have the “Lone Ranger” mentality; we are to be participants in this community of faith. Bonhoeffer writes about how it is not just a purely spiritual relationship but has a human element as well, for we are sinners gathered together and saved only by grace. Yes, we have this wonderful ideal of what Christian community should be like, but we also have to live in the real. We need to acknowledge our own sins and judgments and how it hinders spiritual growth in the church. Bonhoeffer said, “He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” Christian community is a reality, not an ideal and we have to live in the actual. We have to give up our high expectations and face our own sinfulness, rather than accuse others. Then we can enter into fellowship, not as a demander but as a thankful participant, receiving God’s love through others. Let us not neglect the church, but love the church as God does and join together with fellow believers.
Challenge for today: Meet others in the church where they are at, and purpose to grow along side of them.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
 

May 25, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying a nice sunny day. This morning I did lots of food prep and took a friend with me to the Dollar Store. I tried a new chicken recipe for lunch and my chief-taster liked it. Emoji 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
God delights when we gather together with His children to praise Him and recognize His presence, power and love. We most likely come away feeling encouraged and lifted in our faith, knowing that God is at work in our midst. Al and I have been blessed in deep ways lately as we see how He has brought people into our lives to share and fellowship together. We are especially grateful for the couple we met on the Paul Bunyan trail and daily walk with them as we talk about the Lord together. We pray for one another’s needs and it is exciting as we see how God answers. Some can be very practical needs and when the answers come, we all rejoice. Others are long term more hidden needs that we continue in prayer daily. Sometimes the Lord surprises us as things we have prayed for a very long time are now answered. We were with a pastor and wife over the weekend who have been seeking God’s will about going to Africa as missionaries. We have prayed daily they would know His will and now rejoice with them as they are preparing to leave and go. The Lord has added another blessing as his dad, who was in his 90’s, recently came to know complete forgiveness and restoration with family before he died. That concern was all taken care of before they even depart. We are told in Romans 12: 15-16 (ESV), “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another.” When we know the Lord, we are part of the Body of Christ and care for one another. When one hurts, we all hurt and when one is full of joy, we rejoice with him. But we have a choice if we will join with our spiritual family, and if we don’t, we miss out on a huge blessing and the support God has in His plan for us. Two are better than one and as it says in Ecclesiastes 4.10, “For if one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.” When we join with the Body of Christ, God can provide for us what we lack. Some of us may need parenting because of what was missing in our own family, and others may need to be healed to trust again.  The Lord uses others in the Body to fill the needs that we have. Together we can be strong!
Challenge for today: Join together with others who know the Lord and grow strong together.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

May 24, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a great weekend! We enjoyed going to Barnsville on Saturday for a lovely graduation party and to see a friend who is a libraian, and then to Hawley for prayer and fellowship with missionaries. This morning I made cookies on a stick, went to Aldi’s and to my exercise class. It is turning out to be a beautiful sunny warm day!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Don’t we all love those mountain top experiences when we have an awesome awareness of the Lord’s presence. It could be in a high worship experience or a time of retreat in the mountains, or a place to meditate in the beauty of nature or simply in our own homes. But it is a time apart from our busy lives when our focus is the Lord and we drink in His loving presence. In the past Al and I not only ran a retreat house but we also went at times to other retreat places in the mountains, or a monastery or a hermitage. But even though it is wonderful we still had to come back to living in the valley and doing our regular everyday life and work. Things don’t always seem so inspiring and beautiful as on the mountain but what we experience on the mountain can remain in our hearts with us in the valley.  That’s because we don’t need to leave the Lord on the mountain range, for He is always with us. Eugene Peterson shares about the how John wrote the gospel of John, and Revelation; but he also wrote three brief letters (I John, II John and III John) to a small community of believers who were having trouble getting along. He even names the trouble maker in his letters. The church had difficulty and Peterson said the problem was love as John mentions love 51 times in those brief letters. The congregation knew lots about God and they loved spiritual things but they also had to deal with one another. Does that sound familiar? Maybe there are people we would rather not deal with and get under our skin. But Jesus is with us in our everyday life in the valley during the week as He is with on the mountaintop on Sunday when we go to church. Jesus wants to be involved in the messes in our lives and certainly understands as He was human as we are, and also God. John had walked with Jesus and ate with Him and at times was probably weary with all the crowds. And he knew he was loved for he calls himself the disciple who Jesus loved. We also learn to love others around us but not being told we have to love them, but by being loved. We are told many times in scripture how God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) As we come to know His love in our hearts, we will have His love to give to others in our family, in the church and in the world. Let us open ourselves to that daily, whether we are on the mountain or in the valley.
Challenge for today: Remember what you learned on the mountain but carry it with you into your daily life.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy 

Missing in Action

Men reading this blog will gain some insight into the challenges Judy and I experience as we seek to be light in our world.  Jesus tells us, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). We pray each day that we might reflect the “light of life.”  But it can be disconcerting when darkness enters our relationship inconspicuously.  That happened to us recently; unfortunately, I went “missing in action.” 

Judy and I believe in God’s order for marriage as described by Paul: “But there is one thing I want you to know.  The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (I Cor. 11:3 NLT).  This is quite a countercultural idea in our present day, but it has validity when both husband and wife believe this view of reality and desire to model that reality in their lives through mutual submission to each other.     

Paul’s words speak to a divinely ordained order or hierarchy.  With a servant’s heart for my wife, I accept the responsibility of headship.  This does not mean primarily authority and dominance, but rather service, providing among other things protection and discernment.  There are times when I go missing in action, unaware of what is happening spiritually.  Remember: light and darkness have to do with the spiritual realm.   

Our enemy hates the light, especially as it radiates through a godly marriage.  Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 5:8-9, “You groped your way through the murk once, but no longer.  You’re out in the open now.  The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around.  Get on with it!  The good, the right, the true – these are actions appropriate for daylight hours.  Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it” (Message).  The prince of darkness wants to take out our light – or at least dim its effect.

We were counseling another couple recently when I went missing in action. During our conversation I gave up attempting to contribute, not discerning the presence of darkness.  I let my wife carry the load while I stewed in my frustration, getting upset as my wife dialogued with the couple. 

Afterwards, I was on overload with all the words I had heard. I was agitated, confused and fearful – and only wanted to be left alone.  This was a victory for the darkness.  Finally, after regaining some spiritual balance, I asked Judy to pray for me. 

It became apparent that I had escaped emotionally: I was “missing in action.” See: Normative Male Alexithymia (5/17/21). The word “order” came to me. We had been broadsided by exposure to darkness.  Instead of staying engaged emotionally and spiritually, standing in the gap, praying for spiritual protection, I fled.  I left my wife exposed and vulnerable, while she was attempting to be gracious and caring.

My responsibility was to pray and engage as the head in our relationship.  Instead, I went missing in action.  The result was confusion, disorder, and doubt.  Thank God for an understanding wife.  We prayed for reestablishment of harmony, and protection from darkness in our relationship.

I now have new resolve to stand strong in the light, knowing “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (II Cor 11:14).  We are both aware that the enemy hates a marriage that radiates light.  Why?  Because marriage reflects the profound mystery, which is “Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32).  The enemy desires to sow discord, confusion, and doubt.  

 

May 22, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a relaxing weekend. We are heading out this morning for Barnsville for a graduation brunch and then to see a missionary/librarian friend, and then on to see a missionary couple that is soon going to Africa. A rich day for sure! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Why do we try so hard to be a good Christian? Why do we just have to read the latest book by a popular author, or make sure we hear a well-known speaker. The truth is we can talk all about spirituality and yet not be spiritual ourselves. Yes, we may know many facts about the Bible and yet fail to live in close relationship to the Lord. We don’t need to know more truth but we need to practice living the truth we have. It is far better to admit how much there is that we don’t know and how needy we really are, than to run after more truth.  Knowledge puffs up but love builds up. What we really need is to listen to God and be led by the Spirit and not to be concerned if others see our actions. I love when I see persons who are joyfully serving others, often in hidden ways, and not calling attention to themselves. They are doing it out of love for the Lord and not to be seen as a super Christian by others. God has so much to teach us directly from His heart. I think of a mate who has read all the books on being a good spouse and does many of the things out of duty. He says he loves his wife every day before he goes to the office and does his share of household duties; but how much better when he spontaneously takes his wife in his arms and expresses what is in his heart. In contrast the older Al becomes, the more he expresses his love for me in varied ways and it is a delight to my heart. I keep telling him it just keeps getting better and better. Our love for the Lord should keep increasing day by day, until one day we see him face to face. A friend related stories about Fanny Crosby who became blind when 6 weeks old. It didn’t keep her from loving and serving the Lord and she wrote and composed more than 8,000 hymns and gospel songs including Blessed Assurance and To God be the Glory; she also wrote 1000 poems, books and did mission work. Once a pastor remarked to her that it was a pity that the Master didn’t give her sight when He showered her with so many other gifts.  But she was full of gratitude and surprisingly thanked God for her blindness and told him, “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I should be born blind?” The pastor wanted to know why and she said, “Because when I get to heaven the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”  May we also “love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might (Deu.t 6:5) and to keep growing in love for Him until one day we see Him face to face!
Challenge for today: Express your love for God and others in new ways today.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

 

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