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: October 2023 (Page 1 of 4)

October 31, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope you are keeping warm. We have snow and so beautiful. The Halloween party last night was a fun time with the community room highly decorated and candlelight, games, costumes, prizes, good food and lots of laughter. Such a fun evening for all. This afternoon we are invited to friends for coffee and fellowship. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Change comes and sometimes very quickly! When it was getting dark last night, I looked out on a clear sidewalk and a green lawn with some colored leaves. Much to my surprise as I opened the blinds this morning, everything was all white and covered with a blanket of snow. It was beautiful but what a sudden change. Fortunately. I had put away the chairs and small table from our balcony yesterday and got out the shovels, not realizing I would need them so soon.;

Changes come in our lives that seem to come suddenly and without our permission. I think of the two friends from our church, who recently experienced radical change overnight as they are now widows. Some people are active and then in the thud of a car accident made invalids. Or one who is a healthy body builder now faces a limited time to live with a diagnosis he did not want to hear. In just the blink of the eye, things can change but thankfully God does not change and will always and forever be there for us.

So how do we live in the present? We don’t want to live with anxiety, waiting for something that could happen to change our lives for the worse; but rather living in trust and confidence to the One who will take us through any situation. The One who created us and the whole universe, is He not capable of caring for us? He promises us peace even in the midst of the chaos of our culture and all the unknowns that come to mind. But if instead of thinking of the “what ifs”, we firmly trust Him in all things, then we will be peaceful even when changes come unannounced.

Like the Apostle Paul told the Christians in Phil 4:6-7, “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace (shall be yours, that ‘tranquil state of soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace) which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Challenge for today: Don’t live in fear but trust the Lord for the changes that come into your life and live in His peace.


A Comfortable Walk With God

Years ago I came across the phase “a comfortable walk with God,”  which was coined by early Puritan writers.  James Houston used it while discussing prayer,  referring to a person coming to peace with who they were in relationship to God.  He said, in effect, “A person is never more true to themselves and more natural before God, than when they are in Christ.” 

I thought of “the comfortable walk” when our men’s group discussed the chapter on the “Discipline of Devotion” in R. Kent Hughes book, “Disciplines of a Godly Man.” The tendency for men is to make our devotional life a religious performance in which we win favor with God and satisfy ourselves by being spiritual.   In a group, men often measure their spirituality by comparing themselves with other men. There’s always pressure to measure up to a certain standard.  In a book entitled “The Pressure’s Off,” Larry Crabb maintains that when you seek God and nothing else, the pressure truly is off.  

We can easily make our walk with God something that works well for us.  It is more about us than a relationship with God.  If we do certain spiritual practices, then we will be blessed by the Lord.  Crabb warns, “when the desire becomes our goal, the objective we most value… our lives then become a sustained effort to discover and follow whatever principles will provide a life that lets us feel pretty good.”  As a result, “the pressure is on.”

My journey of prayer has been one of “letting go” and simply “receiving.”  It has taken years for me to become “comfortable” in my walk with the Lord.  It has been plagued with pride, shame, selfishness, and self-pity. What has made it a ”burden” at times is that my calling was to be a “professional holy man.” I was paid to be good.  The pressure was on for a lot of years. I still get caught on “my treadmill” of trying to be good.  But thankfully, I am finding more freedom and joy in my walk.  Even so, I still hit “ditches and potholes” of my own making when I focus on me.  

After years of growth and struggle, here is some hard-learned discoveries I have come to appreciate about prayer:

1)  First and foremost, prayer is not a duty or discipline, but rather an ongoing conversation with the living God.  He has put within each of us a hunger to know Him.  The Psalmist says it passionately, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Ps. 42:1)  Panting is a heartfelt response.  I bring my whole self before God, not just my “shiny, religious self.” 

2)  The Lord is already present within me.  Paul reminds us, “The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26).  Did you know that prayer is already going on in your soul?  The Lord is there waiting for you to make yourself available to Him.

3)  I need to get beyond my thoughts and simply be quiet in the presence of the Lord.  Listening is imperative in a mutual and intimate relationship. 

4)  My maturing in prayer is unique to my personality.  What works for me does not necessarily work for someone else. We find our own unique way with Him.  

5)  This has been particularly hard to accept: the Lord changes the nature of the relationship as I mature.  My Father is after intimacy and oneness.  I have to give up my childish ways, including my “spiritual achievements.” 

Remember: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (II Cor. 3:17).




October 30, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful weekend. The weather is getting colder, and we are bundling up on our daily walks now. This morning I plan to do food prep and go to my exercise class. Later we have a dinner party and dressing up in costumes. Fun times! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  Surprise! One day I looked out our bedroom window from my desk and all the golden leaves on the tree in my immediate sight were gone. The day before the tree was full of bright, yellow-colored leaves but it also blocked much of my view of the other beautiful surrounding trees. Now with the leaves gone, I could see plainly the red and yellow and burnt orange colors of the other trees and also the people who walked by on their nature walks.

   My thoughts went to the clutter we may have in our lives and how it just seems to keep growing and branching out and one day we realize we can’t see clearly. Our vision is blocked, and we are missing the good things the Lord puts before us because we are blinded by worldly things. Our clutter can be possessions that seem to grow in importance, or pursuits that get to be more important than Him, or overextending ourselves with no time left for Him. Something doesn’t feel right for we are missing most importantly our close relationship with Him. When we come to the realization and let go of whatever is blocking our vision, we begin to see again what was there all along, only we missed out.

  It is good for all of us to ask ourselves what hinders our walk with the Lord. What seems to creep up as more important? I love to read many of Al’s books, and I find that when I have been drifting from that closeness with the Lord, that if I go to the Word or read about the Saints or books by authors who have a passion for the Lord, my sight returns. Everything seems right and in order again and I experience joy Why didn’t I realize it sooner?

  Let us not have our vision blocked by lesser things but may the Lord be first and foremost in our lives. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  (Matt. 5:8)
Challenge for today: Lay down everything that distracts you from seeing the Lord.  
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

October 28, 2023

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend! Hope you take time to relax and get refreshed. Today I plan to clean and also do food prep and try out a new recipe. Al is happy to be my food critic and willing to try new things! Emoji 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  How willing are we to step up to the plate when needs come before us? Have we not all been amazed when we see people in the exact place at the right time to do something God is explicitly directing them to do? It is not coincidence but obedience on the part of those prompted by the Spirit.

  At the close of our Bible Study on Thursday, a friend shared something that happened to her last Sunday in church, and I was left with the feeling that God was directing the whole scenario. It was just after the pastor had finished the sermon that my friend began feeling weak and faint, and quickly sat down in the pew. The next thing she knew she was lying down and someone was holding her hand and another man examining her and taking her vital signs. It wasn’t long before an ambulance arrived and took her to the hospital where it was discovered that the infection she had been treating with an antibiotic, was still active in her body. She was given a hearty dose of another antibiotic and later sent home to recover. She was so grateful for the ones who had shown care to her and wished to thank them. After asking a few questions she discovered that the one who was taking her vital signs was indeed a retired doctor who just happened to be at the early service. Then there was the EMT who was seated across the aisle from her who rushed to help and held her hand and recorded her vital signs; it was his first-time visiting the church. Plus, there was a retired nurse sitting right behind her ready to help. The pastor told her that when she had heard a commotion she looked back and saw so many people praying for my friend. All were used of the Lord to care for her and willing to step up to the plate and help. My friend said she was never nervous or afraid as she felt so much love.

We never know when the Lord will put His hand on us and tell us He has work for us to do in the situation at hand. We can tell him we are not qualified to do whatever is needed, but He would not ask us if He wasn’t going to enable us. We might also protest that we have a schedule to keep and if we were to stop and help, we will miss out on an appointment. But since our time is in His hands, again He wouldn’t have prompted us in the first place.

It is quite exciting when we put our lives in the Lord’s hands and are willing to do whatever He tells us, Let us all respond to the Holy Spirit and follow His lead by stepping up to the plate, Like it says in Gal 5:25, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

Challenge for today: Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as He opens doors for you to meet the needs around you.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

October 27, 2023

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend to you! I am making egg dishes and chicken soup and then Al and I will be going to Costco to get the birthday cake as it is party day here! Emoji  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  How well do we see? We have eyes but are we bind to the love the Lord wants to pour into us? And does our blindness keep us from seeing others with a heart of love? Blind Helen Keller said that it may be terrible to be blind but worse to have eyes and not see.

  Sometimes my glasses are smudged, and I hold them up to the light to see where they need cleaning. Once they are cleaned, I see clearly and wonder why I waited so long. Of course, we all get smudges throughout our day when we fail to forgive someone or when we miss seeing who they really are. We become judgmental and soon we have a heart that is cold and hardened and without love.
  However, when we come to know how loved we are, we become spiritually aware, and we see things that we were spiritually blind to previously. Instead of focusing on the negative in others, we may see the failings of our own lives, wrong attitudes, and sin patterns that we need to deal with. Perhaps we suddenly become aware that there are idols in our lives as we spend our time and money and focus on some temporal things that we thought would give us significance. We may see areas where we have compromised and not been faithful to the Lord.

  Then one day, we sense the Holy Spirit working in our hearts and we see more clearly what things need to go and that the Lord is more important than any of them. I wonder if that is how the Psalmist felt when he wrote in Psalm 73:25-26, “Whom have I in heaven but you? You’re all I want! No one on earth means as much to me as you. Lord, so many times I fail; I fall into disgrace. But when I trust in you, I have a strong and glorious presence protecting and anointing me. Forever you’re all I need!”

 Let us not be blinded by the enemy who seeks to draw us away from the Lord, but rather may our eyes be on Him who gives us love and draws us close into His presence.
  Challenge for today: Let go of the things that are blinding and ask the Lord to give you spiritual sight.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy




October 26, 2023

Dear Ones,
May your day be filled with joy! Temperatures are getting cooler, but may our hearts be warm towards the Lord and others. Al will soon be off to men’s group and I will be going downstairs for donuts, and later we will have Bible Study.  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How many things do we do to be seen by others? Do we want to impress them about how good we are by serving others, or is our heart motive to share God’s love in the ways we sense the Holy Spirit is prompting us?

  Today I read from Matt. 15:8-9 (Message) when Jesus responded to the Pharisees and Scribes by saying, “These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it. They act like they’re worshiping me, but they don’t mean it. They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy.” We can just imagine how upset this made the Pharisees and Scribes who loved the applause of men and Jesus blew their cover. But are we also like them sometimes?

  Maybe we begrudgingly do something outwardly good but inwardly complaining and not doing it from a caring heart. God sees our heart and is more concerned with why we are doing things than what we do. I read today of how Jesus always responded by how His Father was directing Him. It wasn’t always convenient and there were many times He must have been so tired from people pressing in on Him and all wanting healing or their questions answered. After He got the news of his cousin John being decapitated, I’m sure He must have wanted to be alone as He grieved. He tried by slipping away by boat alone but someone saw Him, and word got out and the crowd walked around the lake to where He was. He didn’t hide from them but had pity and compassion and healed many all day long. Not only that but He fed the crowd before they went home. Jesus did it all to please His Father and His motive was love.

  Now we might ask ourselves how we would respond? I might have told the crowd to just give me some time and space to grieve since someone I loved died. But when we do what we feel the Holy Spirit is directing us to do, He will give us the energy and strength to do all that is needed; and I’m quite sure our hearts will expand with joy.

 Challenge for today: Listen carefully to find out what is on the Lord’s agenda and do it out of love for Him and not to be seen by others!
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

October 25, 2023

Dear Ones,
May you sense the Lord’s presence with you today. This morning I am going to make zucchini cake and go to my exercise class and this afternoon is crafts and Bible Study tonight. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I love the Psalms and they are about real people who have real problems without any sugar coating, and they go on to say that real help comes from the Lord. It should not surprise us that Christians have troubles like everyone else but we have no cause to be without hope for we have a Helper who is by our side through everything that comes our way.

I was reading from Psalm 124 today and it is a song that was sung by the Jewish people on their way to Jerusalem for a festival. I can only imagine how many problems that they may have had in their life but notice a few words of what they sing. “If God hadn’t been for us when everyone went against us, we would have been swallowed alive by their volent anger…We would have lost our lives in the wild, raging water. Oh, Blessed be God! He didn’t go off and leave us…God’s strong name is our help, the same God who made heaven and earth.”

 We note that God is not unaware of what we are going through, and He did not promise us a life without struggles, but He assures us of His presence and help in absolutely all our circumstances. I think of our dear friend, Connie, who is head of Transformed by Love Ministries and one who I have asked you to pray for several times. She has been through so much and has passed the 50 day mark from her transplant and labs improved etc. Her daughter writes of her and says, ”Mom used all of the recent good news to fuel her soul and strengthen her to speak at Sister’s in Christ last Sunday. She did more than amazing, and I do not doubt she touched the hearts of everyone in that church. She is definitely God’s little girl, and will continue to trust Him, follow Him and praise Him every day no matter what struggle she goes through. It is because of this, she has gone through this journey the way she has!” Connie is a person who experiences God with her in the raging waters and knows He has kept her afloat.
Challenge for today: Thank the Lord for the many times He has been with you through hard times in your life and when given the opportunity share with someone else.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy


October 24, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope you have a wonderful day! It was a great win for the Vikings last night and a close exciting game. Today I am going to fry sunfish given to us by one of our friends from our Bible Study group!!!Also, going to make cookies for Al and do lots of food prep. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  As we get older, I hear people saying, “I can’t do all the things I use to do! My body is wearing out!” Our bodies do give out as we age and just recently, we have lost two men from our congregation who have been gradually declining and now are home with the Lord. But one day all of us who know the Lord will receive new bodies that will never wear out. Like it says in Phil. 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” One day we will give up our earthly tent for our heavenly home. We can’t even imagine what that will be we exchange our tent for a mansion in glory! If we are living when Jesus comes again, it will happen in the flicker of the eye, for we will be transformed into our glorious eternal bodies.

  We can live securely now for we can depend on God to do what He has promised. I was reading from Psalm 125 and “Those who trust in God are like Zion Mountain: Nothing can move it, a rock-solid mountain you can always depend on.” We can rest assuredly like that mountain for we are in a safe place, which is like a fortress surrounded by the Lord. He is our safe place and ready to always always help us.

  When we have doubts and anxious feelings, we need to grab hold of the promises we have been given. We are not to live by our feelings for they are up and down but to find our security in the Lord who doesn’t change. Even when we have pain and troubles, may it not destroy our confidence in the Lord who will never give us more than we can handle with His help.\
  Let us rest secure, protected as if by the mountains that can’t be moved by our circumstances, but trusting His protecting hand until the day we are ushered home to glory and receive our eternal bodies.
  Challenge for today: Spend some time thanking the Lord for how He is preparing you for an eternity with Him.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy    

Men are Lost

Christine Emba, a columnist for the Washington Post, recently wrote an essay entitled, “Men are Lost. Here’s a Map Out of the Wilderness.”  She states, “Men find themselves lonely, depressed, anxious and directionless… They have no idea what it means to be a man.”  Going on she writes, “Past models of masculinity feel unreachable or socially unacceptable: new ones have yet to crystallize.  What are men for in the modern world?  What do they look like?”  

While men are told constantly to be “better” and less “toxic” it seems difficult to pin down what this means. Among modern influencers there is a tendency to minimize men’s issues or to even erase references to masculinity altogether.  One strategist admitted “an allergy to admitting that some men might, in fact, be struggling in a unique way and could benefit from their own tailored attention and aid.”  Men are expected to just shape up and simply “learn the code” expected of them. 

Convinced men are in crisis, Emba believes “it will require a positive vision of what masculinity entails that is particular.”  Most of what is offered to help men is descriptive rather then prescriptive.  Richard Reeves has observed, “As soon as you start articulating virtues, advantages, good things about being male… then you’ve just dialed up the risk factor of the conversation.”  “But,” he warns, “I’m also  acutely aware that the risk of not doing it is much greater. Because without it, there’s a vacuum.” 

Emba calls for “a new script for men.”  Gender roles of the past gave boys a script for being a man, but now we have a vacuum in our understanding of masculinity.  This, in Emba’s view, “gives us a chance at a fresh start: an opportunity to take what is useful from models of the past and repurpose it for boys and men today.”  Men as well as women need codes for how to be human.  

Implementation will be slow.  A new masculinity “will be a norm shift,” Emba believes.  If the crisis of men “is left unaddressed, the current confusion of men and boys will have destructive social outcomes, in the form of resentment and radicalization.”  In the end, the sexes rise and fall together.  Emba sees “the old script for masculinity on its way out.  It’s time we replaced it with something better.” 

Ms. Embra was not able to point the way out of the “gender wilderness” that our nation has created for men.  She sure has tried to point the way.  She stated in her article, “People need codes for how to be human.”  And although she and I may disagree on where to find the code, I believe it’s found in God’s revealed Word.  Here is a brief outline for it:

First, God created men and women to both reflect the likeness of God. “When God created human beings, he made them to be like himself.  He created them male and female, and he blessed and called them ‘human'” (Gen. 5:1-2).  Second, it will take authentic Christian men and women to interpret the code. Third, through a Christ-focused relationship with my wife, I can better understand the code God intended for me. Fourth, our marriage can be prophetic in our day: “This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one” (Eph. 5:32).

I desire to live out the new masculinity expressed in Scripture by our new (and Last) Adam and being made relevant in our current wilderness (I Cor. 15:45-47).  Men, our marriages and lives as godly men can be prophetic in our day, as we express the code the Lord reveals to us.  




October 23, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful weekend!  Our walks on the Paul Bunyan trail are still so beautiful and full of gorgeous colors. Makes me wonder what heaven will look like! Today I go to my exercise class and hope to get some errands done. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  What is our attitude on Sunday morning as we prepare to go to church? Is it Lord, I am doing you a favor and going to church, even though I would like to sleep in and just take the day off. Or is it like King David who said in Psalm 122, “When they said, ‘Let’s go to the house of God,’ my heart leaped for joy.” That sounds like someone excited and looking forward to worship. This very Psalm is a Psalm of Ascent that Hebrew Pilgrims sang as they went up to Jerusalem for worship. Three times a year they made that trip to celebrate the festivals and it was a joyful time.

Today we don’t have to worship, but we get to worship and it is a voluntary thing that we do because we desire to. Growing up, we all got dressed on Sunday morning for church and it was never a question IF we were going to church. In a sense, what we did showed what was important to us, even without having to say anything.

When we gather to worship, we are united with Christians from all different walks of life, some rich and some poor, some super smart and some dull, some with important positions and others in servant jobs. But as we worship together, our differences fade into the background and the Lord units us in spirit and we become one Body, the body of Christ. God made each of us, He has saved us, He provides for us and our response is praise and worship. It is not dependent on our feelings for they are unreliable, but as we praise and worship, we find our souls are nurtured and God unites us together with others. Eugene Peterson writes that Worship whets our appetite for God and deepens our relationship with Him, bringing peace of heart.

A simple song we use to sing in church that comes to mind, “We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord…. And we offer up to You the sacrifices of thanksgiving. And we offer up to you the sacrifices of joy.”
Let us gladly go to the house of the Lord and be united with others in worship to the Lord.
Challenge for today: Memorize Psalm 29:2, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy


« Older posts

© 2024 Canaan's Rest

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑