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 2022 (Page 1 of 3)

February 28, 2022

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Ours was very low-key as we are doing what we can to get well. We studied some but also took frequent naps. Today we both feel better but not a powerhouse of energy yet. Thankful though that each day is better and healing is happening.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
All eyes seem to be on Ukraine today as we see the struggle of the people there. It stirs my heart as I see the Christians in the Metro Station of Kyer singing songs of forgiveness and love. We must not forget them but pray much for them.
As we tuck our kids into warm beds at night, let us remember those that are hiding in the cold underground to protect their children. Many of them have already lost homes, loved ones and livelihoods.
Let us pray for Vladimir Putin’s heart to be changed and that he would no longer continue in his wicked ways.A prayer I read recently by Archbishop Justin Welby and Archbishop Stephen Cottrell Is one we can all pray:
“A prayer for Ukraine:
God of peace and justice,
we pray for the people of Ukraine today.
We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons.
We pray for all those who fear tomorrow,
that your spirit of comfort would draw near to them.
We pray for those with power over war and peace.
for wisdom, discernment and compassion.
to guide their decisions.
Above all we pray for all of your precious children, at risk and in fear,
that you would hold and protect them.
We pray in the name of Jesus, the Prince of peace. Amen.”
Challenge for today: Take some time to lift in prayer those suffering in Ukraine and for courage to be given them.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

 

Deconstruction of Men

Recently I came across an address given by U.S. Senator Josh Hawley.  I do not intend this blog to be a partisan plug for the Senator. But I must say I was thrilled and energized by what he had to say about young men. When I find a “truth-teller” cutting through all the distorted fog of our time, I rejoice. All truth is God’s truth when it lines up with the truths of scripture. I praise God for the courage of this one senator to stand up for the young men in our culture.  His focus was “the deconstruction of men.” 

He asked, “How are we going to raise up good men today?”  His reply, “We can start by repudiating the lie that America is a systemically oppressive nation and that men are systemically responsible.” He challenged his audience to consider virtues that men have traditionally embraced.  “To keep a republic, you have to be willing to fight for it,” observes the Senator, while adding, “To preserve liberty, you have to discipline your passions and sacrifice in the service of others.”  “Assertiveness and independence,” he maintains, “are strengths when used to protect and empower others.”

Hawley declared, “…We must seek a revival of strong and healthy manhood in America.  We need men who will shoulder responsibility, men who will start and provide for families, men who will enter the covenant of marriage and then honor it… We need men to raise up sons and daughters after them, to pass on the great truths of our culture and history, to defend liberty, to share in the work of self-government.”

He gave a challenge to the men present: “You are a tremendous force for good. Your nation needs you. The world needs you.” He gave this encouragement: “Your strength can liberate others. Your power can serve those in need. Your creativity can light new paths. Your courage can defend the weak. Your faithfulness can raise up sons and daughters after you and make their way straight. You can make this a more perfect nation.” 

Wow! I felt like one of guys on the team, before the big game, being exhorted by the coach to believe we can actually go out and win.  The coach (senator) believes in me.  He believes as a team we can make a difference.  I need to hear that kind of message from someone in public office.  For me, it reaches into my male soul (at 80 years), motivating me to want to still make a difference.

So, I exhort you as a voice crying out in the wilderness: God is not through with you yet. Rise up as a man.  Don’t believe the voices telling you that you are the problem because you are a man. There are manly virtues such as courage, truth, orientation, assertiveness, independence, direction, and responsibility that have traditionally been considered male virtues.

Maybe God is speaking right now to some men out there. You are at a crossroads. You feel beaten down by the message of “toxic masculinity.” You don’t see a way out.  But trust me.  God is putting his hand on men who have been crying out for direction.  Jesus is calling men who want to make a difference – men who know there is more.  They are willing to pay the price in an anti-Christian climate.

I like the way the Message puts it: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat: I am.  Don’t run from suffering: embrace it.  Follow me and I’ll show you how” (Matt. 16:24). 

February 26, 2022

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having an enjoyable weekend. Al is better now but it is going to take longer for me as I didn’t get sick right away like he did. I’m not doing a lot of work so am getting lazy! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
What is the first thing we do upon waking from a long night’s sleep? Is it to groan and quickly fill our mind with all the things we need to accomplish during the day; or is it to greet the Lord and thank Him for a night of rest and a new day before us, full of promise and of course, His presence.
I smiled when I read what my cousin e-mailed me about their dog Buddy who is a Golden Doddle and looks just like our grand-dog, Cali! Both of them are so friendly and like to greet everyone. Buddy recently returned from a month-long trip with my cousin and her husband who traveled with another couple and pulled their Teardrop camper, Every morning, right after they got up, Buddy wanted to go to their friends’ camper to greet them; he wouldn’t do anything until he had done that. When a yellow bandanna was put in their window, it meant they were ready for Buddy to come and say good morning; afterwards he came back all set for the day.
I was immediately reminded of how it pleases the Lord when our first thoughts of the day are on Him and we have his promise in Ex. 33:14 (ESV), “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Perhaps children find it easier to just trust that the Lord is with them and  not to worry about what the day holds.
We just returned from visiting our grandsons in North Carolina and our hearts were so blessed by how they are growing in the Lord. One night I had prepared slips of paper with instructions and put them inside plastic eggs. We went around the table and each one of us had to do whatever was written on the slip of paper in our egg. Lots of laughter as compliments were given to someone on their right, or a song sung by someone on their left etc. When we finished our grandsons, asked if they could write the instructions and went away to do so. I though oh boy, we are going to be running around the house or doing strenuous feats but we were so pleasantly surprised. John Mark is only 12 and one of his slips he wrote said to give 3 Bible verses by heart and tell how they impact your life. He happened to get that one and proceeded to share the importance of following the Lord etc. Tears came to my eyes to see one so young who is so wise in the ways of the Lord. A.J who is only 8 rattled off all the books of the Bible as his brother and mom did push-ups. Both have so many scriptures stored up in their hearts.
How wonderful to start the day with the Lord and then to rehearse His promises throughout the day when we need them.
Challenge for today: Before you step out of bed, greet the Lord and give your day to Him.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

February 25, 2022

Dear Ones,
It’s a sunny day and looks lovely  but was -15 this morning. I put away the Valentine decorations and made choc covered raspberries, did food prep, and  washed linens down to our mattress. Al doesn’t have much energy yet so studied a bit and is napping.We will miss our monthly birthday party today but don’t want to expose people here to any kind of a bug. So glad there are willing volunteers to take over. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I don’t think we realize how often we forget what God has done for us. We take for granted His daily blessings, His sacrifice for us, and even the miraculous things He has done for us in the past. Maybe we have been healed of cancer but fail to remember to give thanks for our present health, or God showed His love for us by providing in supernatural ways that we now take for granted. I read today from Psalm 106 where it says in verse 7, “They gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses.’ And also in verse 21, “They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt.”
How sad that is to just forget God’s mighty hand on our lives. These things we should be sharing with our children and grandchildren and friends who also may have the same struggles that the Lord took us through and often miraculously.
I have been so encouraged as I have been reading J.P. Moorland’s book Experience Miracles. I have shared a couple miracles already but I would like to include another unusual one that was verified. Tim Newell went to church one night to hear Sister Petri, a guest evangelist, speak. He had many doubts that God still performed miracles today and went with a skeptical attitude. Sister Petri started her sermon and then suddenly stopped and pointed to a section of the sanctuary and said that someone came that night questioning that God does divine healing today, and He is going to answer your question once and for all. She went on to say that this person was going to feel a drilling sensation in his mouth and teeth and God was going to remove a cavity and give a new filling in its place. When that happens the person was to go to the bathroom and look in the mirror to see the new filling and come back and share what God had done. She went on to speak and Tim thought that it was quite a joke…. that is, until he felt the drilling sensation in his mouth. He couldn’t believe it and went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. He not only one but he had two new filling on his back molars. He was overwhelmed and went back to the sanctuary to testify of what God had done. He never doubted that God still performed miracles today after that. About 15 years later a tooth in his mouth cracked and the dentist took full-mouth x-rays of his teeth. He was a teaching dentist and said whoever had done the work on those back teeth did an amazing job. He wanted to use the x-ray in a textbook he was writing!
Does God still do miracles today?! Yes! Yes! They happen to ordinary people by an extraordinary God.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to open your spiritual eyes to what He is doing around you and in you today. 
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

February 24, 2022

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this sunny day! Lots more snow out our window now than when we left a couple weeks ago for N.C. God’s timing is so good as we got home just about the time, Al started not feeling so well. After we unpacked he went to bed and slept and slept, some coughing, etc. His covid test was negative so we are thankful for that. So this morning, I went back to Aldi’s and got chicken to make lots of soup for him etc. To be safe though we won’t go to Bible study today or the party tomorrow but isolate ourselves as we don’t want to pass anything on. We are grateful we are not at a hotel but home!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
There is a marriage crisis is our country today and the family unit has broken down. Children are left as victims, as well as parents. So many no longer believe in marriage and we have the lowest marriage rates since recording marriages in 1867. Ericka Anderson writes how devastating this crisis is to our culture with less marriages has come a higher rate of crime and poverty and less emotional and physical wellbeing for families. We also see more drop outs, and more domestic violence as the cost of the family breakdown is enormous.
I wonder if communities and schools realize the benefits of the family unit. The Heritage Foundation found having married parents reduces child poverty by 80%.
God created the union of marriage and it is important for His kingdom and also holds society together in a way the government can’t. Sadly, the government is seeking more control of the family and resents the parent’s influence. But Government can’t love a child but a parent can! Millennials are asking today of what makes a lasting marriage when so many end in divorce. Studies show that those who cohabit before marriage are 15% more likely to end in divorce; but faith-based marriages are most likely able to increase the odds with a long and good marriage. Marriage is symbolic of Christ’s relationship to the church. When we stray from God’s plan, society falls apart.  But if we instill Christ centered values in our children like humility, love sacrifice and service, chances for a lasting marriage increase. For Christians it is not just signing a marriage license but it is a binding contract that is symbol of Christ’s love for us.
As Christians let us not live according to the worlds’ view of marriage but as Ericka says, “It is a binding spiritual contract with God at the center as each man and woman surrenders his or herself daily to the other. In the hardship of surrender come unconditional love and acceptance.”
Jesus said in Matt. 19:4-6 (NIV), “Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So, they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Let us do all we can to preserve marriage and the family!
Challenge for today: Be an example and also encourage others to have a godly marriage and family.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

February 23, 2022

Dear Ones,
Hope you have been having a good day. We just got home and are unpacking and soon I will go to the store to restock the frig. Thank you so much for the prayers as we had good roads and weather all the way home. We left at 5:30 a.m. and so glad to be home again after a wonderful time with family.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
There is a family crisis today in our country as we see how the family unit is being devalued. Many are choosing not to get married and settle for lives without responsibilities. There is a trend especially of men dropping out of the labor force, not going to college, and living simply for pleasure.
But when the man is out of the picture there have been many consequences that are evident today. We particularly see how crime has increased, especially by males from fatherless homes. One in ten men are experiencing depression and anxiety, and the suicide rate has spiked. There is a 35% increase in deaths from drug related causes as well.
The father problem seems to be escalating as both white and black men fail to interact with the younger generation. The highest incarceration rate is from youths that never had a father living with them. Children miss their daddies.
Fathers are meant rather to be protectors, providers and disciplinarians. They help a child feel secure and are to be an affirming influence as they impart values.  But because of absent fathers, mothers are having to take on a dual role and fill in that place.
Statistics reveal that the more opportunities a child has to interact with his or her father, the less likely they are to commit a crime.  I recently read that when a father attends church there is a 93% chance the whole household will go too. A father’s place is so important.
But many men sense the church has become feminized and they feel out of place. The Promise Keepers movement some years ago, however, emphasized the father’s role and masculinity. That is surely needed today.
Wise King Solomon said in Prov. 1:8 (NIV), “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” The apostle Paul exhorts fathers to bring up children in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph 6:4)
Fathers, know how important the role is that God has given you and take your rightful place.
Challenge for today: Encourage dads who may be floundering and be willing to help mentor those who are fatherless.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

February 22, 2022

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a good day. We just arrived at the Holiday Express in LeRoy, IL. It is very windy out so we are going to exercise in the weight room tonight. We left N.C. at 5 am. this morning and drove in light rain much of the way. Thank you for your prayers as we had a wonderful time at Mark’s and a safe trip through the traffic today. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We were created to have a close relationship with the Lord and to live in fellowship with our Creator. But sometimes we ignore that longing of our hearts and go our own way and seek to fill that void with accumulating earthly treasures, going on one adventure after another etc. But it will never work. Only Jesus can fill that hole in our hearts that is meant only for Him.
Today I woke with the words of a hymn going through my mind, and maybe you know it:                                                    
“Nearer, still nearer close to thy heart
Draw me, my Savior, so precious thou art
Fold me, O fold me close to thy breast
Shelter me safe in that haven of rest
 Shelter me safe in that haven of rest.”
The closer we draw to the Lord, the more joy we have in Him. When He is our focus, we find we are strengthened for whatever comes into our lives. He will take care of us for we are His beloved. David said in Psalm 31:23-24 (Message), “Love God all you saints: God takes care of all who stay close to Him. But He pays back in full those arrogant enough to go it alone.”
All of our needs are met in Him when we are in close relationship with the Lord and as David also says in verse 19, “What a stack of blessing you have piled up for those who worship you. Ready and waiting for all who run to you.”
God will never force us to choose Him but He will use many different ways to draw our attention to Him. Things may happen in our lives as a wake-up call for us to get us back on track of what He has for us. When we say yes to Him and listen to Him as He leads us each day, we will come to enjoy close fellowship with Him.
Let us not settle for things that don’t satisfy but find joy and contentment in knowing the Lord and saying yes to Him!
Challenge for today: Tell the Lord you are done going your own way, and seek Him with an open heart. 
Blessings on your evening and prayers and love, Judy

 

 

The Bible: “Hate Speech”

I have been following a court case in Finland where government prosecutors have described quotations from the Bible as “hate speech.” I take personal interest in this case because I am of Finnish descent. After taking an ancestry test, my sister informed me that we are 98% Finnish. My roots are in the old Suomi Synod of the Lutheran church. I still remember the pastor of my home church preaching in Finnish. So, I take a special interest in what goes on in the “old country.”

The case involves two Christian leaders in Finland: longtime member of Parliament Paivi Rasanen and Lutheran Bishop Juhana Polhjola, who have been brought to trial for writing and publishing, respectively, a pamphlet explaining Christian teachings about sex and marriage.

Ms. Rasanen (the pamphlet’s author) explains, “My writings and statements under investigation are linked to the Bible’s teaching on marriage, living as a man and a woman, as well as the Apostle Paul’s teaching on homosexual acts. The teachings concerning marriage and sexuality in the Bible arise from love to one’s neighbor, not from hate towards a group of people.”

Paul Coleman, a human rights lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom International who is helping represent Rasanen and Polhjola at the trial, commented that “it was very surreal” to observe Rasanen and Pohjola being questioned about details of Christian theology. It gave the two Christians the opportunity to preach the gospel in court.

Coleman noted, “Finnish trial attorneys who had been in and out of court every day for years, said they didn’t think the Bible had ever been read out like that in prosecution.” Never has a Finnish court had to decide if quoting from Scripture could be a crime. He described the trial, “as a modern-day inquisition or heresy trial. And the heresy was that Paivi [Rasanen] and Bishop Juhana were on trial against the new sexual orthodoxy of the day.”

Human rights observers see this trial as an important marker as to whether Western governments’ persecution of citizens for their speech and beliefs will increase. U.S. House members said in a public letter that the Finnish government’s prosecutions of these Christians for their religious beliefs “raises serious questions regarding the extent of Finland’s commitment to protect religious freedom for its citizens.”

For me, this trial is a “wake up” call to take nothing for granted as the biblical worldview in Western culture steadily erodes. It is difficult for me to comprehend how quoting the Bible is now viewed as hate speech by some in a nation in which Christianity was foundational to its existence. It shows how far and deep opposition has grown to biblical Christianity throughout Western civilization.

This reminds me that all civilizations are like grass that can wither or flowers that will eventually fail. Isaiah tells us, “The grass withers and the flowers fail, but the word of our God stands forever” (Is 40:8). Remember Jesus told us, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Luke 21:33).

Western civilization may be withering and failing, but God’s word will remain and accomplish its purpose. The new orthodoxy of the post-Christian West is not God’s thoughts. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55:9).

Take heart – and submit anew to God’s word revealed in Scripture: “So is my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Is. 55:11).

February 21, 2022

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a good weekend. We heard a great sermon yesterday at Mark and Andrea’s church and then went to an Asian restaurant for dinner. We played outdoor games and indoor games and finished the day with a good movie and popcorn and blueberry smoothies. Today we have all day to play games as the boys are out of school. Tomorrow we plan to leave for home so would again be appreciative of prayers for our health and safety. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Our culture values strength and confidence, not weakness and vulnerability.  But the worldly values are so opposite from what Jesus teaches and exemplified in His life. The Apostle Paul writes how Jesus made Himself nothing by taking the nature of a slave…and He did this willingly.
We need to be more vulnerable like Jesus, although most of us would not choose to let our weaknesses be displayed for all to see. Matthew Dickerson writes and uses the example of a winning football team who suddenly loses the game when the coach of the opposing team discovers a weakness of the team and exploits it. They are exposed!
But isn’t it hard for us to choose the Jesus way and to be exposed and vulnerable and not cover up our weaknesses? But if we hide those vulnerabilities, we will not be able to get help or connect with others who have similar ones. Jesus showed vulnerability when he came as a helpless baby, or his tears while with His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane.
I so vividly remember the prayer over me by a friend, just before I was to speak to a large group. I didn’t like to speak but was doing so in obedience, and his prayer just touched my inner spirit. It was from I Cor. 1:27 where Paul said not many were powerful and wise according to worldly standards, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” That fit me perfectly as I felt weak and unworthy to speak. The Lord saw me through and I could only give praise and thanks to Him.
We all can benefit from those around us who share their weaknesses. I text back and forth with one who shares her vulnerabilities. I not only pray for her but I now see more clearly weak areas in my own life that are very similar to hers. How neat that we can pray for each other!
Let us be humble and vulnerable so that God can use us to shine His light through us, just like a cracked pot in a dark room…the light is seen through our cracks.
Challenge for today: Be open about your cracks and accepting of others with theirs.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

 

February 19, 2022

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a good weekend! We are having a wonderful time at Mark’s and spending lots of time sharing together. This morning we did indoor games with our grandsons while Mark and Andrea shopped and this afternoon we are going to do outdoor games. We look forward to going to their church tomorrow.  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I believe in angels, although I have never seen one, I have seen evidence of them and perhaps you have had an encounter with one. A friend of ours shared he had physically heard angelic voices singing. We certainly know there are many instances of angels in scripture.
It says in Psalm 34:7 (RSV), “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them.”
As J.P. Moreland wrote, Angels worship and obey God and serve on His behalf; they minister to our need and bring comfort; they protect us from harm; they reveal messages from God to us; they guide us; and they often attend to people at death.
Moreland himself had 3 angels attending him, although he himself has not seen them. They were witnessed by several others who had no contact with one other. Each one said Moreland had a tall angel behind him and two shorter ones on each side and they were seen in similar instances when he was preaching or teaching.
But one of my favorite stories is verified account of Mayme Shroyer, who went through a broken engagement. Soon afterwards she moved from Oregon to Virginia. She wanted to buy a house and could only afford one in a rather poor rundown neighborhood. It was next to a park but she soon discovered that it was also the hang out of gang members; drug dealers were often seen in her front yard. She wondered if she should get a security system for $35 a month or thought the money could be better used to sponsor a child in another country through Compassion International. She sensed God was telling her to support a child and He would be her security. Mayme often came home after dark and she felt God would protect her and started exercising again in the park. One night she sensed someone was following her and glanced back to see a police car slowly moving towards her. The police officer asked if she had seen any suspicious characters in the area and she said no. He then told her they had received several calls at the station from people living near the park and all of them described seeing a tall black man, around seven feet tall, wearing a white muscle shirt and carrying a long sword. After the officer drove away she began to laugh out loud and with much gratitude felt the officer described her guardian angel. Nothing ever happened to her while she lived there!
The supernatural realm is real for we have a a supernatural God!
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to open your eyes to unseen reality.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy
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