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.

Category: Brother Al (Page 1 of 44)

Be an Influencer

Jeremiah the prophet was called to convince the stubborn people of Judah to repent and turn back to the Lord before it was too late.  Jeremiah complained to God about the assignment: “Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?  Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?” (Jer. 15:18).  The Message says, “You’re nothing, God, but a mirage, a lovely oasis in the distance – and then nothing.” 

After this complaint God exhorts Jeremiah (v. 15:9-20) to repent and stop uttering worthless words: “…If you utter worthy, not worthless words, you will be my spokesman” (v. 9).  “All Jeremiah’s talk had become negative, destructive and worthless – characteristic of a disillusioned person” (Bible Speaks Today).  Jeremiah had begun parroting the negative narrative of his culture.  God was asking him to change his tune and faithfully proclaim the message God was giving him.      

I need to regularly check my habits of speech if I want to be a truth teller.  I don’t want to be caught complaining about how “anti-God” our culture has become.  Yes, it’s right and proper to complain or protest to God (see the psalms of lament).  But it’s wrong to “stoop to cheap whining” (v. 19 – Message).  I need to refrain from reciting the secular, godless view of life.  I can’t stay in the negative.  “Worthless words” should be eliminated from my speech. 

Men, the more we experience God’s love, the more we can share it in the most difficult situations.  And the more our lives are integrated in this way, the more we can be “influencers.”  The Message says, “Let your words change them.  Don’t change your words to suit them” (v. 19).  The NLT tells us, “You must influence them; do not let them influence you!”  The verb in Hebrew implies turning away from the negative, while turning to the good.  This can renew relationships, especially with God.

After this rebuke, God recommissions Jeremiah: “You will be my spokesman”          (v. 19). God does not reject Jeremiah, but rather repeats the same call and commission Jeremiah heard at the very start of his ministry: “you may serve me…you will be my spokesman…I am with you” (v. 19-20, cf. 1:7-9 – Bible Speaks Today).  Never underestimate your life as an “influencer” – as God’s spokesman.  God isn’t looking for perfect vessels, but rather men who know their calling and are willing to stand for Jesus. 

Beyond this, God promised to protect Jeremiah in his prophetic ministry.  “I’ll turn you into a steel wall, a thick steel wall, impregnable.  They’ll attack you but won’t put a dent in you because I’m at your side, defending and delivering” (v. 20 – Message).  These words must have been reassuring for Jeremiah in the face of stiff opposition.   

Wow, I need to hear these words about being a “thick steel wall.”  Men, if you are an “influencer” for Jesus, you will need reinforcement in the days to come.  I don’t know what form it will take, but it will come.  But are you willing to take your stand?  You have God’s promise: “I am with you to rescue and save you” (v. 20).  

Let this be a word for you:  “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations'” (Jer. 1:4).  You may not be a prophet, but God has called you to be his man, his influencer, for this time.  

Don’t Give Up

The prophet Micah was called to prophecy to Israel and Judea, exhorting them to repentance. He called out the disobedience of God’s people, especially in Jerusalem.  In Chapter 7:1-7, we find Micah walking around the city, absorbing, “both the appalling scale of the wickedness and the implications of the doom he has just declared” (Bible Speaks Today).  

Micah is overwhelmed by what he sees, “What misery is mine!” (7:1).  Evil was widespread and the very fabric of life was unravelling. “The faithful have been swept from the land; not one upright person remains” (7:2). The godly had lost influence, while the violent did as they pleased. “The powerful dictate what they desire – they all conspire together” (7:3).  God’s judgement would soon be announced by the watchman on the wall. “Now is the time of your confusion” (7:4).  Interpersonal relationships, even within families, were failing.  

Despite all this, Micah did not lose hope. He continued to pray and wait for God, who would eventually vindicate the remaining remnant. “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me” (7:6).  In contrast to the unfaithful leaders of the people, he would act like the watchman, “wait for God my Savior.”  Micah began in 7:1 with lament, but in the end expresses quiet confidence that God will act in due time.

What the prophet described in these verses (7:1-7) has a very contemporary feel to it.  Sin has affected government leaders and society in general.  “The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains” (v 2). Deceit and dishonesty have even ruined family life, the core of society.  “A man’s enemies are the members of his own household” (v 6). 

We are witnessing social disintegration in our culture.  Many of us can attest to divisions in our families due to cultural or political divisions.  “Micah would direct us all back to the way we have steadily ignored, and often directly flouted, the requirements of God for our personal, social and working lives, as well as for our nation.  Defiant rejection of God’s revealed truth is the fundamental reason for the social disintegration we see around us” (Bible Speaks).

Micah 7:7 can be an encouragement to us in the midst of cultural decay.  Like Micah, we need to declare that we aren’t giving up.  “But me, I’m not giving up.  I’m sticking around to see what God will do.  I’m waiting for God to make things right.  I’m counting on God to listen to me” (7:7 – Message).  Isaiah also spoke of waiting on the Lord during judgement. “Look, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he has saved us.  This is our God; we have waited for him.  Let us rejoice and be glad is his salvation” (Is 25:9). 

It could be that God wants us to wait for him to make himself known to us during this time. “Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt.  And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me” (Hosea 5:15).  Isaiah told the remnant, “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by” (Is 26:20).

Could it be that the most important thing we can do at this time is to cry out to God for mercy?  Has his hand of judgment already come to our nation?  Could it be a time to seek God in confession and repentance?   

Say, I Won’t

I appreciate the music of “MercyMe.”  I believe the band can relate to men with both lyrics and style, and their music affects me deeply.  They have a new song out entitled, “Say I Won’t.”  When I saw the word “rocket” in the lyrics and heard the song, the rest was history. Please listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2IHibLEYdI

The song opens with, “Today / It all begins / I’m seeing my life for the very first time / Through a different lens / Yesterday / I didn’t understand / Driving 35 with the rocket inside / Didn’t know what I had.”  My interpretation: this guy is seeing his life with Jesus in a new way.  He has a rocket inside.

The song goes on, “While I’ve been waiting to live / My life’s been waiting on me.”  But now the guy is learning to fly spiritually.  He dares others, “Say, I won’t” … “Not enough / Is what I’ve been told / But it must be a lie / ‘Cause the Spirit inside says I’m so much more / So let them say what they want / Oh, I dare them to try.” 

Men, there comes a time in your spiritual life when you need to come to terms with the rocket within you.  It’s your deepest longings for God. It’s your passions and desires. Yes, it even involves your sexual energy.  Visualize all this as “the tiger in your tank.”  Conservative, biblical guys like me sometimes have difficulty pointing the rocket heavenward and taming the tiger.  Like the song says, “Not enough / Is what I’ve been told / But it must be a lie.”

I must confess that I’m reluctant even to write about sexual passions and passion for God.  Why? Because of some of my own struggles, plus misconceptions Christian men tend to have about their own desires and fantasies.  For me, however, only love can tame the tiger.  I am coming to peace with this energy as I experience more of God’s deep love for me. “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps 63:1).   Like the song, “’Cause the Spirit inside says I’m so much more / So let them say what the want / Oh, I dare them to try…” 

You and I have sexual energy in our souls that is mingled with our spiritual desire for God.  Yes, passions have eros (erotic) energy.  But can you believe that God’s agape is able to come into your heart and redeem eros, purify it with resurrection power, and untwist all the distorted images?  “This is how God showed his love among us.  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (I John 4:9 cf. Luke 4:4 MSG).  

Christopher West in his book “Fill These Hearts” has helped.  We have three choices:  1) Starvation diet: Pleasure is an evil to reject.  I have lived under this cloud for years, 2) Fast food diet: Pleasure is an idol to indulge.  Simply let the tiger roar.  3) Banquet: Pleasure is a beacon that points to heaven.  For me this has meant allowing Jesus to transform my soul, using agape love to direct eros.  

As I get older, I find more and more that my deepest desires are for God.  The more I die with Jesus to distorted eros, the more his agape purifies the eros: “While I’ve been waiting to live/ My life’s been waiting on me.”      

Peace, Peace – and no Peace

Watching and reading the media’s narrative on the state of our nation, I often visualize bandages being applied to deep cultural wounds.  These wounds fester beneath the surface, producing enormous amounts of pent-up anger and frustration that will one day boil over in lawlessness.  I feel I’m being force-fed a false sense of peace when spiritually I can see the dark clouds on the horizon.  I want to shout, “Wake up America!! You’re being fed a lie!”

Twice Jeremiah warned the prophets and priests of his day about covering up their sins with bandages.  “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.  ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14; 8:11). They were giving people false assurances that everything was well. It was like putting bandages on cancer and declaring people healed.  As a nation we can ignore the reality of having strayed from God for only so long.  Bandages only create an illusion of wellness.

Later Jeremiah complains to God about the prophets, “O Sovereign Lord, their prophets are telling them, ‘All is well – no war or famine will come.  The Lord will surely send you peace’” (Jer. 14:13 NLT).  God responded, “These prophets are telling lies in my name.  I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts” (Jer. 14:14 NLT).   

Even more indicting are the words of Jer. 23:17, “They keep saying to those who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’  And those who stubbornly follow their own desires, they say, ‘No harm will come your way!'” (Jer. 23:17 NLT).   

“It is a terrible thing to mislead God’s people into falsehood, complacency and immorality, to be chaplains to the unrepentant and to collude in the culture of lies” (Bible Speaks Today).  Through the mainstream media we are witnessing a massive spiritual coverup.  We are told all will be well, while we are becoming more decadent each year.  Men: don’t fall for this propaganda.

I must warn you that things are only going to get worse in society.  Here are a few convictions we must diligently live out if we are going to weather the storm that is already upon us. We don’t want to be caught believing the lie.  

First: ultimate reality is found in a loving Creator God, who has given us his Word of truth in scripture.  Here we find God’s view of reality; a worldview to live by.  Every other view of reality needs to be (and can be) measured against scripture.

Second: total surrender to the Lordship of Jesus (Joshua 24:23 NIV, James 4:7-8). No secrets, no compromises, no half-hearted commitment.  Ask continually, “Lord, what is the next right thing?”  Seek his counsels diligently and do what he prompts you to do. He will see us through the coming storm. The propaganda will only get louder and more convincing.  “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Is. 5:20).

Third: commitment to kingdom living.  I am part of Jesus’ reign on the earth.  No earthly rule will last. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve and they will reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).  And later in Revelation: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he will reign for ever and ever” (11:15).  

On Life Support

Do you ever feel like your spiritual life has hit a brick wall?  Especially this past year, have you found yourself depending on others to feed you spiritually, while inside you are thirsting for something to sustain you?  Are you afraid of others getting a glimpse of what is really going on in your soul?  Are you on spiritual “life support”?  Well, there is hope – if you are willing to take the plunge.

Sometimes music and poetry can grab our attention, getting us beyond the “control tower” of our minds to speak to our hearts about what is really going on in our lives.  Recently I came across these words from the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke: “You are not dead yet, it’s not too late to open your depths by plunging into them and drink in the life that reveals itself quietly there.”  They were the inspiration for this blog.

Jesus was hard on the Pharisees for their outward show of religion, while they were empty on the inside. They were all about religious performance, giving little attention to their soul life.  They were disturbed with Jesus because he saw through their performance.  Listen: “You’re hopeless, you religious scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh…you’re total frauds” (Matt. 23:27-28 – Message).

For our own spiritual health, we all need to look “under the hood” sometimes.  That means we need to take the plunge. Jesus is at the center. Yes, he is in heaven, but He has come to live in our hearts.  I am assuming you are born again and a new creation in Christ. If so, Jesus has made his home in you.  “My Father will love him and will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).  Paul reminds us, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).  

When you take the plunge, fix your eyes on Jesus.  I am not taking about introspection or digging up the “dry bones” of the past.  I am talking about developing an intimate relationship with the God who loves us.  He is the ever-inflowing God.  As you take the plunge you will find living water, to quench your dry and thirsty soul that you know is on life support.  Jesus promised, “indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13).  

Jesus promised we would not thirst: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:38).  So, if you are on life support, I encourage you to take the plunge – and heed what he has to say.  

Jeremiah warns us about forsaking living water:  “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jer. 2:13).  He portrays for us, “a picture of absurd agricultural stupidity, and a…picture of wrenching physical futility” (The Bible Speaks Today).  You have living water flowing in you. Why go through all the religious performance?  

Men, we sometimes have to admit we are on life-support and by faith take the plunge and “drink in the life that reveals itself quietly there.” Jesus waits for you in love.  Simply confess that you’re thirsty – and ask him to help.

I Abandoned My Post

My bride and I had a disagreement on a recent Sunday morning as we were getting ready for church.  We came to an agreement and went off to the service. But I did not let go. I shut down emotionally. We both knew the oneness of spirit was missing.  I nursed my wounds all day. Monday morning helped me see the light. I repented, knelt before Judy, and sought her forgiveness.

As I reflected on my relational “stumbling,” the words, “You abandoned your post” came to me. I was convicted of my lack of sensitivity to my wife’s emotional and spiritual needs.  I realized that in acting childishly and nursing my self-pity, I simply walked away from the emotional space I am to help provide in our marriage.  I abandoned my wife, leaving her alone and emotionally vulnerable.    

I believe, accept, and desire to live out my role to lead in our relationship (Eph. 5:23).  Part of my responsibility is to cultivate and protect her emotional space.  But what I did was abandon my post.  I have done that before; this time, however, I saw how damaging it was to my wife.  I could see it in her eyes and in her tone of voice.

In our marriage, our oneness makes me complete in the Lord.  I can say with Adam, “Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!  Name her woman for she was made from man.” (Gen. 2:23 – Message).  I need to treat Judy as I would treat myself. “So men ought to give their wives the love they naturally have for their own bodies.  The love a man gives his wife is the extending of his love for himself to enfold her” (Eph. 5:28 – Phillips).   

After 55 years of marriage, I am becoming increasingly aware of my bride’s emotional needs and how I can take our relationship for granted.  My role is to cherish my wife, giving her space to grow in the Lord. It helps me to see her as a blooming flower. “Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens” (Song of Songs 2:2).  Praise the Lord for this newfound sensitivity.  I have missed so many cues over the years.    

For what it’s worth to men reading this blog, here is some of what I am learning.  I still fail, but I’m learning to create emotional space. 

First, put my wife’s needs first. This means to not take our relationship for granted.  “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way” (I Cor. 13:4 NLT).    

Second, have a caring, loving attitude.  My wife can easily detect insincerity.  Only the Spirit of Christ can help me be consistent. “Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly” (Col. 3:19 NLT).

Third, use words to build up. Words can either build my wife up or subtly cause her to doubt herself and fade as a beautiful flower. “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry” (James 1:19 NLT).

Fourth, watch your tone of voice.  I never knew how vital this is in communicating and really have to work at this. It is so easy to sound negative and condescending.  Love “is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged” (I Cor.13:5 NLT).

Last, be quick to admit failure.  “…Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed…” (James 5:16). My ego must go first. That’s what a good leader does (Matt. 20:26-27).

Being a “Watchman”

I have been blogging now for over 12 years. I never imagined I would still be blogging in 2021.  A lot has changed in those years and in my own personal journey.  But in my retirement, I am grateful for having a blog site. It has given me an outlet for my spiritual motivation, which is to be that of a “truth teller.” I have spent many hours in the prophets, seeking discernment for our day. It has not been an easy journey, given my temperament and insecurities. Yet it seems I cannot escape the call.  My continuous prayer has been, “Lord, help me understand what you are saying to your church through the voice of the prophets.”

A special word for me has been Amos 3:8, “The lion has roared – who will fear? The Sovereign Lord has spoken – who can but prophesy?” I realize there are others much more qualified than me to share God’s word to his church through the prophets. Yet I sense I must respond to the call to be a watchman on the wall. “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth” (Is. 62:6-7).

Little did I realize that ten years after I began “The Wildman Journey,” I would be led to embrace the role of a “watchman.” But my spiritual journey has formed this role in me. It is a hidden ministry that finds expression mainly in this blog. In the fourth quarter of my life, the “truth teller” role seems to give me a focus for ministry.

I have no idea how many readers out there in the blogosphere pay attention to my blog. But at this stage of blogging, I find myself simply thankful to the Lord for giving me this outlet as a ministry. I am just a 79-year-old Lutheran monk living with his wonderful bride (my nun) of 55 years in our monastic cell in a senior living complex in northern Minnesota – and my “soul mate” and others seem to confirm my calling.

I firmly believe God is raising up prophetic voices to address the contemporary church. As for myself, I sense a greater clarity in applying the Word of God found in the Old Testament prophets to our day. I humbly pray that I may speak the truth, so that others will see Jesus amid the confusion of our day. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10).

As I pray and continue to read the prophets, I identify with the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “…His word is in my heart like a fire, and fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (Jer. 20:9).

I am the least likely follower of Jesus to take up the mantle of a “truth teller,” with a burden to give expression to the voice of the prophets and the state of the church in today’s culture. So how much I will write about the prophets is an open question for me. It will be a work in progress. I write today simply to inform you of my struggle with this call. But I have learned this principle over years of ministry: when a man leans into his calling before God, he will be fulfilled and energized spiritually. It will have its difficulties, but obedience has its own rewards.

Boy Energy

In an “Institute for Family Studies” article, Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Coulombe have a very informative essay on the place of young men in our culture. “We determined,” the authors state, “that in our culture today, “boy energy” is at best not valued and at worst demonized.  In response, young men are deciding that it’s not worth it for them to invest their time and energy back into society.  Many are asking what is in it for them and only hear crickets.”  

Boys in our day are getting left behind.  They are “failing to launch,” evidenced in such symptoms as “a disenchantment with education, lack of motivation to work towards real-life goals, opting out of the workforce, self-imposed social isolation, and excessive video game and porn use.”  The authors make reference to fatherlessness being on the rise.  “… even the boys that have fathers in their lives,” notes the authors, “only spend a fraction of their time in one-on-one conversation with them versus the time they spend in front of a screen, where they see men depicted as emotionless warriors, deadbeat dads, or losers.”

Could the lack of “boy energy” reflect the absence of fathers and male mentors in the  lives of boys?  I think it points in that direction.  My intention has been to be an encouragement to men, especially fathers. 

Men need to evaluate the God-given position they have before God.  “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it” (Gen 2:15 NLT).  From the beginning, God first gave man the primary responsibility of rightly ordering relationships.  Then he gave him a help mate.  In the fierce “gender wars” men have vacated their male relational leadership post.  Who will watch out for young men?    

The authors place the blame on society for the lack of boy energy.  “…it is society that is not providing the structure, guidance, means or places for young men to develop themselves and thrive.”  They describe, “Boys going from female-dominated home environments to  female-dominated school environments, back to female-dominated home environments – where boys are being told to behave.”  Can godly men admit to themselves and those closest to them that they might have abandoned the place God has for them  in society?

If you are a man reading this post, and sense you have abandoned your God-ordained place in relationships, it is not to late to return and stand.  What can you do?  In repentance and humility come before the Lord and admit that you have left your post as a man.  Cry out to God for grace and mercy.  Resist the desire to leave your relational responsibility.  If it is sincere, God will delight in your request in wanting to stand where your belong.  Don’t give in and flee.

The lack of “boy energy” is  confirming  a theme mentioned consistently in this blog.  Energy is something that is caught and passed on from older men to younger men.  “Masculinity is caught, not taught,” has been a consistent mantra.   How do you pass on this energy?  By opening your heart and spirit and just being you.  Walk in integrity and honesty.  “He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). 

As a man with an open spirit, you have male energy flowing through you.  In relating to younger men, you give them “father energy.”  It is something that is desperately needed in our society today.  You don’t have to fight or argue; just walk it out.  

 

I Am Not a Mechanism

Recently, while going through some old papers, I came across a poem by D.H. Lawrence that spoke to me some years ago.  I was amazed at how it still speaks to my heart today.

I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections

And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.

I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self,

And the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help

And patience, and a certain difficult repentance,

Long, difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake,

And the freeing oneself from the endless repetition of the mistake

Which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.

When I re-read these words almost 20 years later, I realize the spiritual journey is a process of going deeper into the same wounded emotions, diseased attitudes, and default patterns of sin.  Paul knew this well. “It happens so regularly and it’s predictable.  The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.  I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.  Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge” (Rom 7:21-23 MSG). 

In his frustration Paul cries out, “Is there no one who can do anything for me?” (Rom. 7:24 MSG).  Then he answers his own question with thanksgiving for God’s provision. “The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.  He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different” (Rom 7:29 MSG). 

Over the past 20 years, I have learned to embrace my fallen nature without falling into ditches on either side of the road.  One is trying to understand and “fix” my faults out of my own strength. The second is resignation and despair in not being able to make a certain spiritual grade.  Even as I write, I sense the freedom to acknowledge, “I am ill because of wounds to my soul.”  These wounds take a long time to heal.  Lawrence’s poem talks of patience, allowing for “a certain difficult repentance.” 

I want to encourage each man reading this blog in finding freedom from “the endless repetition of the mistake.”  I exhort you to keep your eyes on the One who loves you unconditionally and to not fall in line with the patterns of the culture which “mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.”  Accept that you are still a work in progress.  

My focus at this stage of my journey is not on my incapacity to do God’s will, but my capacity in Christ.  Paul says it well, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).  That’s capacity.  Instead of sulking in my incapacity, I put my trust in God, who gives me the capacity to accomplish his will (it’s all grace).  

For too long I have limited the horizon of my spiritual life, having spent years shriveled up in a corner, nursing my self-pity and fear of exposure.  Now I am learning to celebrate the depth of God’s love for me despite my failures.   

My cry is for God to be merciful as I continue to find freedom “from the endless repetition” of my mistakes, God is giving me the capacity to receive not his condemnation but his love.  There is a new capacity to just be me… in Christ.

A Perfect Storm

An unknown author recently described this past year: “Year 2020 has been a brutal, perfect storm of a pandemic, a contentious election, racial unrest, financial troubles and conspiracy theories.”  One way of visualizing this storm is to see it as a rising flood.  

The approaching flood waters are a warning to wild men (men of faith) reading this blog.  The water will continue to rise before our very eyes. It will not level off for some time. God’s intervention in history has often been portrayed as a flood. The Psalmist prayed, “Surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him” (Ps 32:6).   

A flood describes God’s retribution of his own people. “See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong.  Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind, like a driving rain and a flooding downpour he will throw it forcefully to the ground” (Is. 28:2).  Here God is speaking of the king of Assyria bringing destruction on Israel.

Committed followers of Jesus will need to be prepared for a flood of opposition and confrontation coming from those who have gained influence in our culture. Our experience could be similar to the Psalmist, “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of the deep waters” (Ps 18:16).  This blog could very well be speaking to more than one man who feels almost overcome by the flood waters of our destitute culture.   

In Psalm 69, David’s prayer give expression to being overcome by a flood. “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.  I have come into the deep waters, the flood engulfs me (vv1-2).  You might not identify with David at this point in your journey, but trust me, many of you will face a torrent that will cause you to be anxious, doubt, and become discouraged.   

Each man needs to realize that God has allowed such floods throughout history in order to bring renewal to his people.  We are going to experience the flood and possibly its aftermath.  We need to be praying as Jeremiah did, knowing that he would endure the judgment of God. “So correct us, God, as you see best.  Don’t lose your temper.  That would be the end of us. Vent your anger on the godless nations, who refuse to acknowledge you and on the people who won’t pray to you” (Jer. 11:24-25). 

To endure the coming flood upon our land, we first and foremost must make a choice. We are either all in for Jesus or we could be swept away by the flood.  This does not mean physical loss, but the loss of soul.  Jesus said in Mark 8:36, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”.

Secondly, take inventory of your priorities and commitments.  Are you building on the rock or on sinking sand?  If you are honest, you know the difference.  “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock… (Matt 7:24).

Thirdly, be sure you are in the ark.  This of course is the body of Christ.  The ark is built on relationships.  Make sure you are part of the body, and not a lone wolf. Fourthly, when you feel like you are sinking, cry out to Jesus for mercy.  Remember Jesus words when he comes to his disciples in the storm.  “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).

 

« Older posts

© 2021 Canaan's Rest

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑