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: August 2021 (Page 1 of 3)

August 31, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope your day is filled with His peace. We woke today to no internet, along with all the other CTC customers. so I did some baking. and later we are invited to friends.We just got back on and I found out my cousin Susie is now with the Lord. She passed from this life surrounded by her children, and  heard her sister’s voices and her mother’s voices by phone.  Her battle is over and she is in her heavenly home. Thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray for her family.  She will be greatly missed.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Life can be messy! There are times we may have all questioned where God is in the midst of heavy trials we are going through. We may be crushed with pain, feel broken, or we worried about loved ones going through hard times. Why are these bad things happening we may ask? But in the midst of our questions, it is a time to cling to His promises, trust Him, and to seek the big picture, remembering that the Lord is right in our midst. David said in Psalm 34:15,17-18 (The Message), “God keeps an eye on His friends, His ears pick up every moan and groan…Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath.” 
Jane Marczewski went through so many hard times and yet said, “I am so much more than the bad things that happen to me.” You may know her as Nightbirde who sang, “It’s Okay” on America’s Got Talent. She appeared on the show in June and even Simon Cowell, hit the Golden Buzzer and had tears in his eyes when she sang. It was after singing her song that she shared how her cancer had come back again and was now in her liver, spine and lungs. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 26 and two years later was told tumors were in her lungs, lymph nodes, liver ribs and spine and had 6 months to live. She went to CA for treatment and 4 months later had a clean bill of health. Her husband left her during this time and she acknowledges that her life story would look different if she would have written the script. Hope isn’t a very natural response for all she had gone through, but she knows her life is in God’s hands and communicates hope to all of us. She said she wanted to be the bird that sings in anticipation for the good things that she trusts are coming. Her stage name comes from a reoccurring dream she had for several nights of a bird singing in the darkness. Then in the middle of the night, she woke to actually hearing birds singing outside her window as if it were morning. She said she wants to be like the bird that sings in the middle of the darkness, even when there are no signs that it will end.
We have much to learn from Nightbirde to remember, that whatever we are going through presently, It’s Okay. We have hope and joy even if God doesn’t take away our own pain and darkness, he adds light and is very near. God meets us wherever we are at, and will give us a song to sing in the night.
Challenge for today: In those dark times, draw close to the Lord and ask Him for a song to sing.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

August 30, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a great weekend! I was spoiled for my birthday  with a delicious steak dinner at our daughter’s after Al preached at our church yesterday. Also had a hot game of scrabble with our grandson Joe (he won)  at the cabin and time to catch up with with the family. I am blessed. Today is beautiful and clear and I got to Aldi’s and to my Exercise class this morning.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Some people mistakenly think that when we become a Christian, our problems are all over; so, when we go through hard times, that we must have sinned and are getting our just punishment. But if that were true, why did Jesus closest followers suffer and experience persecution and a martyr death? No, the fact is Jesus said we would be slandered, persecuted, and suffer because of our faith in Him. We are told to rejoice in our suffering for His sake and to be faithful and let our roots go deeper into Him.
Our hearts go out to those in Afghanistan whose lives hang in the balance, wondering if they will die because of their faith. Missionaries there have seen many many come to the Lord, though the cost may mean their very lives.
I was reading what Mark Morris wrote about the Afghan/English retreat they had 2 weeks ago. They learned that a Pastor in Afghanistan had received a letter from the Taliban saying: “We know who you are, what you do, and where to find you.” On that Saturday they were knocking at his door but he had gone into hiding. PTL! But another pastor wept as he shared about his Christian friend whose village had been taken by the Taliban 3 days before and young Christian girls were being pursued; his own niece was taken to become the wife of one of the Taliban.
As they all wept and prayed, they were exhorted to build their faith on Jesus, the only cornerstone that can stand in face of the Taliban. They ended the retreat sharing about The Cross and Suffering: first of all, to face suffering with a higher view of God and a humble view of themselves and others. Also, to remember that suffering and evil exist to exalt the glory of God’s grace, as seen in Jesus’ death for us. God may use suffering to refine our faith, to show His glory and to teach us dependency on Him. And finally, God may lead us into suffering as part of His plan to fulfill the Great Commission. They closed the retreat singing, “Let goods and kindred go/ this mortal life also/ the body they may kill/ God’s truth abideth still/ His kingdom is forever!”
May we also say as David in Psalm 61:2-4 (ESV), “From the ends of the earth, I call to you when I begin to lose heart. Lead me to the ROCK that is above me. You have been my refuge, a tower of strength against the enemy.”
Challenge for today: Pray for those being persecuted and ask for grace to stand firm in the days to come.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

The Fiji Rugby Team

The Tokyo Olympics are now history. The spirit and demeanor of the event changed dramatically this year because of political unrest all around the world. National pride seemed to be a waning, with more focus on individual accomplishment.  The Covid-19 virus certainly impacted every event in some way. Yet the gospel message was presented through the testimony of some very committed athletes. 

One such example was the Fiji Rugby team. Now I am not a rugby fan.  I know little about the sport.  But what I have seen on TV has left a lasting impression: two groups of grown men, physically strong and agile, each determined to out-muscle each other and force their collective will on their opponents.  These are real guys in the classic sense.  I marvel at these athletes working together as a team.  In my opinion, most NFL teams could use these guys on their offensive lines. But that is perhaps a naïve point of view.  

Whatever the case, the Fiji Rugby team won a gold medal.  I happened to see the last part of the medal ceremony.  I thought to myself, “Amazing! These strong, muscular guys are praying and worshiping after being awarded an Olympic gold medal.”  Here is how Breakpoint described the medal ceremony: “This was the second Olympic gold for the Fijians.  They got on their knees, they prayed to God in thanksgiving, and sang a hymn of praise.  It was so beautiful.  It’s a traditional tune that contains these words, ‘We have overcome, by the blood of the lamb, and the word of the Lord, we have overcome.’”

When I read that, I knew I had to write this blog.  First, I deeply admire these strong, athletic men for defying the cultural narrative so prevalent during the Olympics. “God talk” was carefully monitored and capped.  But the guys from Fuji came to the games to collectively witness to their faith.  These men played together, united in faith, witnessing to the world of the saving gospel of Jesus.  Being culturally and politically correct was not part of their worldview.  They were a team of Christian men, and they wanted the world to know that God deserves the glory.  How refreshing it was to see their united witness.  

Secondly, I love the words from the hymn they sang. As the world watched, these men celebrated, prayed, cried, and worshiped.  The words come from Revelation 12:11, when John heard in a loud voice from heaven celebrating the defeat of Satan and his angels, who had “lost their place in heaven” (v. 8).  “They overcame him, by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (v. 11).

Thirdly, these men sang their testimony.  My impression is that they wanted the world to know that they were “overcomers” in Jesus.  John wrote in I John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  Wow!  On the world stage these men boldly dared to say that Satan has been defeated.  We are reminded that we too can be “overcomers.”

Fourth, imagine a rugby team singing about the “blood of the lamb.”  We read in Col. 2:15, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”  Praise God!  During the 2021 Olympics, Jesus’ victory over evil was declared to a world in desperate need of hope.  That’s powerful!  

August 28, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the weekend.  I went shopping this morning, mostly for prizes, and this afternoon am going to shop a little  more! Emoji Tomorrow Al will be preaching at our church and then we are going to the Lake and have dinner with Ann’s family. The rain is suppose clear and be nice tomorrow but we are thankful for the rain today. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
David often had to flee for his life and in Psalm 59 he writes about when Saul had sent men to watch his home to kill him. But he calls on God for help and trusts Him for protection. David describes his enemy like howling dogs, prowling about after him. Then he adds a but and says in verse 16, “But I will sing about your strength. In the morning I will joyfully sing about your mercy. You have been my stronghold and a place of safety in times of trouble.”
God protected David and He protects us in many ways; sometimes we even hear stories of angels He has sent in just the precise moment of danger to rescue us. Maybe you have a personal angel story. I believe an angel saved my dad when he was hit by a car on an icy city street; he flew up, right over the car and my mom expected to find him dead but he had only a scratch on his knee.
This week when we were out for dinner with friends, we were asked about what we thought of guardian angels and do we each have one. Since then, I have thought a little more about angels and today an email just happened to come from a Dr Roger Barrier who is a Pastor/teacher in Arizona and wrote about this very thing. He said Jesus answered the question in Matt. 18:10 where he says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” Dr. Barrier mentions that we all have a guardian angel who is assigned to us, probably when we were born. They are all ministering spirits and are powerful to protect us. He shares a personal example when they had just moved to their first house. He was out in the front yard when his wife screamed for him to run to the tiled bathtub. He raced down the hall as his wife was also heading there. They got there just in time as their two-year-old daughter was tottering on the tile edge of the tub and ready to fall head first into the three-foot deep pool. They grabbed her in time and then he asked his wife why she screamed for him. She said she had never screamed and at that moment they saw a wisp of white robe leaving the room. They were stunned and they both concluded that it was their daughter’s guardian angel who was on duty and screamed for them to run to the bathroom.
Don’t you wish we could see the angels that are all around us throughout our day. They are there to protect us, especially in the spiritual battles that we can’t see. Dr. Barrier and his wife pray that the guardian angels assigned to them will fight strongly in their behalf, in the physical realm and also the spiritual realm. Let us give thanks for the protection we have been given.
Challenge for today: Be mindful of God’s protection for you. 
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

August 27, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend to you! Today is our monthly Birthday party day here and Al and I went  to pick up the cake from Costco and to get the tables ready. I have a question for those with birthdays and also a booby prize.Emoji I cleaned the apt this morning and hope to get a walk in between rain.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
When I recently sent out my daily devotional, I asked the question, “What is the hardest thing in your day for you to let go of and give into God’s control?” What I noticed was most people wrote that it was most difficult to give up concern and worry about their loved ones, particularly their children. One mom said that when she worries, it helps her to realize that her love is minuscule for them compared to the expansive, immeasurable love the Lord has for them. When she remembers that, peace comes to her. Another mom shared how God is helping her to be able to put her children and grandchildren into God’s capable hands. Recently her daughter’s young husband suddenly died and that upped her concern for her family even more. But she writes that not long ago when they were in the street loading the car and saying good-bye to her daughter’s family, my friend noticed that there was a cross in one of her daughter’s windows. She knew that there had not been a cross there before so she walked towards the house and prepared to go inside to see the cross that her daughter must have hung there the previous night. But surprisingly, there was not a cross there! She walked back to the street and looked at the window again and the cross was once again there. This time there was also a beam of light crossing over the window down to the ground. She had two grandsons stand by the window and took their picture by it. When she approached the door again the cross and light were gone. She knew then that God was speaking to her and was saying to her, ”I’ve got it!” She felt God let her know that she needn’t worry for He would be watching over her kids. Later when she got home, she developed that picture, and the cross and beam of light are there to be seen. Since then, she has experienced His peace knowing Jesus has her children and grandchildren covered.
For all of us it is good to remember we are in God’s hands. Like David said in Psalm 16:8-11 (God’s Word), “I always keep the Lord in front of me. When He is by my side, I cannot be moved. That is why my heart is glad and my soul rejoices. My body rests securely because you do not abandon my soul to the grave or allow your holy one to decay. You make the path of life known to me. Complete joy is in your presence. Pleasures are by your side forever.”
Challenge for today: Give your family into the Lord’s hands and rest in the assurance that He loves and cares for them more than you do.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

August 26, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a peace filled day!  We are getting a little rain here. This morning I studied and made stroganoff and went downstairs for donut day. This afternoon we have Bible Study here and we are blessed by the sharing of so many.  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
What does it mean to give our all to the Lord? When we freely give and don’t hold back, we have no idea what God will do. The little boy with his lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish didn’t know that his tummy would not only be full but also that of 5,000 men (plus women and children) after Jesus blessed it. God takes what we give Him and multiplies it, even though we never know the extent of the blessings that may result from it. As it says in Heb. 13:16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Our part is to simply give what we have and leave the results up to God.
One such story comes to mind of an eight year-old boy named Biruk. He had an idea and asked his dad if he could have 8 chickens. That is an unusual request for such a young boy but his father, wanting to encourage entrepreneurship, not only agreed but purchased 100 chickens instead.  Once the chicks arrived and started to produce eggs, Biruk’s parents asked him what he would like to save his money for. They expected him to say a certain toy, but instead, heard him explain (in broken English) that he wanted to send the money he raised to Wuchale, Ethiopia. He had once lived there and had memoires of deep poverty, hungry days and nights, rain coming through the roof etc. He had a big heart and concluded that if he could send money back to Ethiopia, perhaps some kids would not have to live like he did. Biruk began to sell his eggs to relatives and neighbors, and after around a year, $10,000 had been raised. Biruk’s family helped and connected with the development director of the EECMY (“Home of Jesus”) church in Ethiopia, and a long-term relationship began. This project then began sponsoring 10 children, so the flock of hens was upped to 400. Before long Biruk was interviewed on TV and his story appeared in newspapers so more people began buying the eggs. A nonprofit was formed and since they continued to send 100% of the egg donations to Wuchale, Ethiopia, they were then able to sponsor 100 children. Soon a micro loan program was formed where single parents could attend classes and borrow money to start their own businesses. Last year they funded a maternal medicine clinic where expectant mothers come to visit and deliver their babies, and new born care is provided.
Just think of all that one young adopted boy began by simply giving his egg money to the Lord. What can we give to the Lord to let Him use as He sees fit?
Challenge for today: Spend some time asking the Lord what He would have you give to Him…no strings attached!
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

August25, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this beautiful day. This morning I studied, did food prep, stir fry etc, and went to my exercise class. Next is crafts in a few minutes. Keep praying for my cousin Susie as she needs a miracle!   
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Do we sometimes feel the Lord is hidden from us and we start doubting and wondering, “Where are you, God?” When we have trials of various kinds, sickness, or just feel bummed, do we doubt He is with us or that He sees and cares? No matter what we feel inside, we can go to scripture and find the nuggets of truth that lets us know how loved and cared for we are. 
I was reading what Ronald Rolheiser wrote about such times. Like a baby in its mother’s womb, he is totally surrounded by his mother and yet cannot see her with his eyes. She is present but the baby has to be born to see his mother. We cannot see God and yet we are enveloped by Him. We must first be born (death as our second birth) to see Him. The more we come into the Light of His presence the more He seems hidden as we are blinded by His brightness, just like when we are looking at the sun and we feel blinded. But as Rolheiser says we are not being blinded by God’s absence, but by the light of His presence. The longer we know the Lord it seems we realize the greater mystery He is and know we have so much more to learn of Him. Faith is required as His presence in us is hidden and rather quiet and gentle. He never forces Himself on us but waits for our response and respects our freedom. Just like the familiar picture of Jesus at our heart’s door knocking, the latch is on the inside and we are the ones who are to open to Him.
  I think we would all confess that we have doubts at times like Peter who began sinking when he looked at the big waves and felt the wind. Doubts come to all of us and we begin to sink when we try to go in our own strength and don’t trust the Lord. Maybe there are days we feel like we are walking on water and other days when we know we are not. It leaves us humble and more dependent on the Lord and we grow in maturity. We might say our relationship with the Lord goes beyond the Honeymoon stage when emotions are strong and full of certainty about our love. Marriage is more, for even though it has ups and downs and times of feeling distant, we are being drawn closer and deeper together as we face the challenges in life. Let us hold fast to our faith even when we walk in darkness.  As it says in II Cor. 5:7 (ESV), “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Challenge for today: Don’t let your faith be determined by feelings, but by trusting in His promises, even in the darkness.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

August 24, 2024

Dear Ones,
As I write this it is storming outside but so wonderful to hear the rain that is so needed. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How often do we find ourselves asking forgiveness and then having a hard time letting go of the fact that we have failed? Yes, we all sin, we all fail, and daily we all need God’s grace and forgiveness. Why is that such a surprise? Grace is God’s unmerited favor to us, and how freeing it is to be able to tap into that when we know we have blown it and need forgiveness. None of us are squeaky clean and even if we have not been caught outwardly in doing something wrong, we sin daily in our thoughts, unspoken words, and unnoticed deeds. We all have need of forgiveness!
Recently, I read a devotional by Kristen Terrette who is a Children’s Ministry Director. I thought she had an ingenious way of helping the children understand our need for forgiveness. She tried to think of a way of helping explain the gospel and such big words like justification and sanctification etc. She came to class wearing an oversized perfectly white t-shirt and gave each of her students a sharpy permanent marker. Then one by one she had each child make a mark on her shirt to represent a sin which they said out loud. It could be a very small mark or a large gash but before long her shirt was full of visible black marks. Then she told them how she would not be able to enter heaven even if there was one tiny black speck on her shirt, for it didn’t matter if it was big or small. It reminded me of the verse I learned as a child found in James 2:10 (ESV), “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” We are all guilty for no one is good enough as we all fail! Kristen then put on a new white t-shirt over the stained one to represent what Jesus did on the cross for us. She told them how Jesus was sinless and took our place and that we all have to confess our sin and accept His offer of salvation. It is perhaps easier for children to understand rather than adults, as our pride gets in the way. We feel we have to earn it, or strive to be sinless but all our efforts are futile. We need grace! We are undeserving and unworthy and yet He invites us to accept His free gift.
May we humbly confess our sins and let Him cover us with his white robe of righteousness.
Challenge for today: Be quick to admit when you have sinned and accept His grace to you.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

August 23, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a great weekend. We had a wonderful one in Mora with friends from our previous church. So many blessings! Today I made porkchops with Spanish rice, S.F Choc chip cookies and egg dishes and soon am going to my exercise class. When I get home we are being taken out to lunch by friends. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Once again on Saturday four of us couples gathered together for our annual time of fellowship and lunch together. The couples are very special in our lives as they helped us dream and plan and build Canaan’s Rest when we lived on the Lake. Although we no longer run the retreat house in the woods for Pastors and wives and others, we still meet together to share our lives and how we sense God is leading. It is so beautiful to see how God individually speaks to each one but also that together we seek corporate discernment for the Body of Christ.
One couple is very active with a group called Celebrate Recovery. They meet each week and help so many get free of addictions and introduce them to the Lord. They are like Spiritual parents to men and woman of all ages. I was blessed to get hugs from some of them in recovery who read my book or daily devotions and shared with me a bit of their lives on Sunday morning.
Another couple are mentors to so many in their church. They are examples to couples of what a godly marriage is like. They also help the youth memorize God’s Word and have a passion for missions etc. They show wonderful hospitality as their home is open and welcoming to so many.
The other couple makes a difference in influencing young people for the Lord. He is also man of prayer and prays for his wife who works during the week at a pizza place. It is frequented by hard core young people, heavy into drugs and unholy living. She shares God’s love by her actions and waits for opportunities to tell them their worth in Jesus. Her hubby is also a whiz in the sound booth and makes music for church even when no one on the worship team shows up. Their house is also open any time to their kids and grandchildren as they live out Jesus’ love.
All of us couples are so different but each happily married and serving the Lord in unique ways. We don’t all have the same gifts but desire to use what we are given, as Paul said in Romans 12 (The Message), “Each of us finds our meaning and function as part of His body….Since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other or trying to be something we aren’t.”  Let us not copy or envy the gifts of others but use our gifts for His glory in the way God has designed.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord how He wants to use you today and don’t miss the opportunities He sends.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy
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