Canaans Rest

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.

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The Crucifix

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am auditing a composition honors class at the local junior college.  Our first major essay was to write on an object.  I chose the crucifix for a couple of reasons.  First it has significance for me and secondly, I want to continue to share the “good news” with young people.

So here is  part of what I had said about the crucifix.  Because the audience has different opinions regarding Christianity, I did not include bible verses.  I will simply quote from the essay

“I grew up Lutheran and eventually became a Lutheran pastor.  In my religious tradition a “dead” Jesus on a cross is almost a denial of the resurrection….I came to value the Crucifix, while learning from Leanne Payne.  Leanne had a significant healing ministry in which the Crucifix played a major role.  She has written, “Christian reality is diminished for us because it has been reduced to an abstraction…we need to be reminded that a crucifix is more than a valid symbol of truth, it is and always has been a central one.”  Then I stated, “I found healing for my wounded soul, in part, by focusing on Jesus dying on the cross.  I visualized him taking my pain and sins into his body.”

I write of wanting to make three points about the Crucifix.  “First, the cross depicts a compassionate and loving God, who has demonstrated the extend to which he loves humanity.  He was willing to suffer and die for the failures of each of us. I would like to reimage the Crucifix, not as a bloody portrait of a good man, with all the misconceptions surrounding the death of Jesus, but rather as ‘good news’ in a culture that is crying out for help. Briefly stated – Father, Son and Holy Spirit have lived in a loving relationship from all eternity.  At one point in history a loving heavenly Father, sent His Son to die for the failures of the human race.  The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in our hearts, making this reality a present  truth, bringing healing to our wounded souls.

Secondly, the story of Jesus and his death on the cross as a historical event is meant to provide a way home.  We have all wandered from home, that is, away fro a loving relationship with our heavenly Father.  Jesus came to provide a way back, through his death on the cross.  In a day when many in our culture struggle with issues of identity,  significance, belonging and loneliness, the cross boldly declares, “here is a way home.”

Thirdly…. the Crucifix represents a place where I can go with my problems and pain.  I visualize Jesus bearing them in his suffering for me.  Of equal importance is how I have been able to help others, by going with them to the foot of the cross to find healing for their wounded and broken souls. In simple terms – we can lay our problems at the foot of the cross.

I am simply telling my story and the significance the Crucifix  continues to have in my life.  I know of no other symbol that is more important to me.  That is why I tell my story.  I close by quoting one of the most familiar verses of the Bible.  This is a quote from the Message.  “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son.  And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life” (John 3:16).

Kidspeak

I am enrolled in an honors composition class at the local Junior College.  My reasons are twofold: first, getting to knowing gen X students and 2) improve my writing skills.  It has been both interesting and challenging thus far.  Recently, we were asked to write a paper on  writing a perfect sentence.

One of the assigned paper was entitled ‘Why Grown-ups Keep Talking Like Little Kids.” The author, John McWhorter, notes, “More and more, adults are sprinkling their speech with the language of children.”  What is surprising is his contention that with “the rise of kidspeak, we are actually witnessing English’s enrichment.”  I see it more as a surrender, due to adults not living with integrity, thus cheapening the use of words.  Paul exhorts us in Eph. 4: 15 to speak the truth in love.

“The horrors of the real world,” McWhorten observes, “are enough to make a person seek the safety of childhood by any means including linguistic ones.”  I wrote in my reflections the following; “Really, do we actually need new words to hid behind in order to protect ourselves from the scary world.”

McWhorten cited a study by April Smith, a psychology professor at Miami University, in Ohio, indicating that young people have become newly fearful of reaching adulthood. Students seemed to be agreeing with statements such as “I wish that I could return to the security of childhood” and disagreeing with such statements as “I feel happy that I am not a child anymore.”  “A generation understandably spooked by ‘adulting,'” McWhorton concludes, “may well embrace the linguistic comfort food of childlike language.” My question – “How long can one survive on linguistic comfort food in a conflicted society.

In a class of 18, including myself, made up of students all in their late teens and 20’s, I shared my reflection on the paper. I suppose I am viewed as a curious grandfather to the 17 others.  As I spoke up, I admitted feeling awkward and insecure.  I told the class that I had issues with what I called “the dumbing down” of the language.  I agreed that we live in a difficult time.  The blame for this is not their, but that of my generation. As for myself, I wanted them to know that I desire to speak clear, loving words,  as I have always done with my children and grandchildren.

I came away from that class with these three impression for myself.  First, a new perspective on their dilemma.  My classmates  looked at me and listened intently.  There is a 50 year gap between us.  These students are bombarded with hateful speech every day through social media.  I want to be a male voice speaking to truth in love, not a voice of accommodation.

Secondly, I am more committed then ever to simply being a humble, loving follower of Jesus among my classmates. I want to listen intently and discerningly.  I hope to win the right to speak.  But I will  speak as an adult man, who speaks the truth in love.  No kidspeak for me.

Thirdly, I want to act with integrity among my classmates.  I am sure there are hurts, disappointments and sorrows with grown up men in their lives.  Through my words and attitude I want to point them to a God who loves them and is waiting for them to come home.  I can do this by speaking as a grandpa who has learned a lot on the journey.  I don’t need to revert to kidspeak.

Drew Brees

I am sure that most of the readers of this blog have heard about the media controversy Drew Brees, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints got into recently. In a short video, Brees encouraged students to participate in Focus on the Family’s ‘Bring Your Bible to School’ emphasis.  In his comments he never once mentioned sexual orientation or gender identity.

In the 22-second video titled “Shout Out From Drew Brees” the 12-time pro-bowler encouraged students to “celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with friends.”  He referred to II Cor. 5:7 as his favorite verse in Scripture.  “So I want to encourage you to live out your faith on ‘Bring your Bible to School Day'” Brees said, “and share God’s love with friends.”

But because the video was sponsored by Focus on the Family, which endorses traditional Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, the liberal media characterized Brees as being anti-gay.  Brees later tweeted, “Love, respect, and accept ALL.  I encourage you not to believe the negativity….I do not support any groups that discriminate or that have their own agendas that are trying to promote inequality.”

Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly posted a video on You Tube.  “Our goal is to say, ‘Jesus loves you, cares for you, no matter who you are – your race, your creed, your sexual orientation.  Jesus died for every one of us’  That’s the message we want to get out.”

I really appreciate what John Stonestreet over at Breakpoint had to say about this controversy.  Referring N.T. Wright who asks “What time is it?” in the redemptive history from the creation to the new creation, Stonestreet asks, “What time is it?” in regard to the cultural  moment  we live in?  “What is being asked and expected of people of faith now, in this time and in this place.

“The gatekeepers of the LGBTQ movement have moved on, and are now demanding that everything….from football to business to education to politics has to be about this [sex].”  So what time is it?  “It’s a post-sexual revolution, a time in history in which nearly everyyhing about life and our life together, from our understanding of right and wrong, to our understanding of what it means to be human, has been reimaged along the lines of sexuality.”

That sure is the lesson from the “Bring your Bible to School.”  It had nothing to do with sex, but the liberal media made it out to be a matter of sexuality.  So don’t believe that falsehood that Christian are obsessed with sex.  But also be aware of how you speak about theultural issues, such as sexuality, in a time such as this.

Here are a some things to consider from this “dust up” over Drew Brees and a plain, straightforward encouraging word to teens that so desperately need hope and how it was turned around to be about sex by the liberal media.  First, keep you comments and focus on the love of God.  I am learning this with the young people I meet in my college class.  Secondly, don’t get caught up in negativity.  What helps me is to say to those I am in dialogue with, “I am a humble, simple follower of Jesus.  He loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”

Thirdly,  above all else don’ get defensive when confronted with charges of hatred and bigotry.  We must all get used to the fact that sharing the Good News” of Jesus’ love is more like being on a mission field were we would expect opposition and ever hostility.  Jesus never said it would be comfortable.  He said we would be hated.

A well of sadness

Nathenial Hawthrone is quoted as say, “Everyman has his secret sorrow which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”  Recently I have been experiencing a well of sadness that has unexpectedly surfaced.  The combination of a new living environment and my desire to allow God’s love to penetrate deeper into my heart, seems to have triggered this sadness.  I am learning not to be “cold,” that is, indifferent to inner pain, but rather process the pain.

The inflow of God’s love into my heart confronts my  egocentricity, exposing my focus on self rather than the Lord.  My sadness is that of the wounded ego. My frail ego, turned inward feeling sorry for myself. “This is real affliction,” writes Ruth Burrows.  She maintains, “what we do almost always inflates the ego.  True affliction deprives us of every vestige of self-complacency.  It is often low-keyed, miserable, something we are ashamed to call suffering.”  Those last words, “ashamed to call suffering.”  When I see people  around me who suffering much more than myself, I have to confess that I am ashamed to be aware of my pain.

I am learning to identify my shame, as part of my fragile ego not making “the grade” spiritually. I am hurting because the spirit of God has exposed vestiges of my false religious self. Pain from being self absorbed in my walk with God is hard to accept. ” God will not protect them [men] from their lives” observes Donald Bisson. He goes on to say, “Men must learn that God desires to enter into their experiences, even when they are filled with ambiguity, pain and struggle.”

The Psalmist is a good model for finding help in expressing our pain.  He tells of his experience. “”The pressure never lets up; all the juices of my life dried up.  Then I let it all out; I said, ‘I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.’  Suddenly the pressure was gone – my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.” (Ps 32:4-5 – Message).  Men, there is no need to go digging around in your inner life to identify your failures.  Instead listen to what the Spirit of God wants you to become aware of in your heart.

Listen again to Donald Bisson.  “Men feel deeply. They feel so deeply that they fear to let any of these feelings out; they fear they will be engulfed by them.  The most profound feelings are associated with grief.”  Boy, can I identify with this insight.  I sometimes get overwhelmed at what the Spirit of God is exposing in my soul.  It goes back a ways in my story, exposing my well of sadness.

My testimony to any man reading this blog who is in a battle of not wanting to identify and be exposed to his sadness, is to trust in faith that God loves you in all of your stink.  God loves you unconditionally.  What you are experiencing is the inflow of his love.  In order to know this love on an ever deepening level, we are called to expose the dark caverns of our heart to the Lord.

Remember again the wonderful promise in I John 4:18: “Such love has no fear because prefect love expels all fear.  If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us. Men, focus on the love God has for you, not on the pain of exposure.

My Trophy Wife

This blog is a testimony to the grace of God in my marriage of 54 years to the most wonderful woman in the world, Judith Ann, my  trophy wife.  I am prompted to write this blog after an incident in the parking lot of our local Costco store.  A man and his wife ( I assume) were just getting out of their brand new red corvette convertible.  I mentioned to Judy that the guy had a trophy wife, you know, the kind that enhances his status as a man.  It was a classic example of how status even in relationships must be displayed in the presence of others.

I told Judy later that she was my trophy wife.  Or as The Song of Solomon express it, “Yes, compared to other women, my beloved is like a lily among thorns.” (S of S 2:2 NLT)  I told her that I would not trade her for any other women.  She was perfect for me in every way.   Being sincere, I know it meant something to Judy. Men, let me tell you – it will bless your wife if she knows she is your trophy wife.  So why could I call Judy my trophy wife.

First, making the commitment to be a “one woman man.”  For all of our marriage, I have had only eyes for my wife.  That does not mean that I have not been tempted by thoughts  so that my mind would wander to places that are not healthy for our relationship.  This is a part of “everyman’s battle.”  But by the grace of God I have never been in a compromising position.  Judy, knows I am a one woman man by my conduct and disposition.

Secondly, by the grace of God, we have become one in the spirit.  This has been a process of growth for both of us.  This means that Judy is my “soul mate.”  I find strength, encouragement and comfort in our being one in the spirit.  She knows how much I appreciate her spiritual help.  I need her.  She is not a kind of “5th wheel” that I can do without.  No, she is my helpmate in a very real way

Thirdly, how we blend together as a couple.  Paul tells wives and husbands to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  We have always had the concept of knowing that our marriage is a daily dying to our own ego needs, while wanting to put the other first in our marriage.  This has meant honest times of confession, surrender and recommitment to one another.

Finally, after 54 years with the same woman I know Judy like no one else.  I see all the good qualities that Judy  brings to  our marriage.  Men, don’t take these things for granted.  Show your appreciation and gratitude by telling your wife how wonderful she is.

I could have said other things that would relate more specifically to our unique dynamic as a couple.  For these I am very thankful.  Your relationship is unique to your bride.  Focus on those good qualities and thank God for how they compliment your marriage and get into the regular practice of telling your bride, in specific ways why she is your trophy wife.

Another way you can express your love and admiration for you wife is to tell her she is your crown.  “A wife of noble character is her husband crown” (Prov. 12:4).  Or as the Amplified put it, “A virtuous and excellent wife [worthy of honor] is the crown of her husband.”

Apollo 11

As a nation we have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people in history to walk on the Moon.  What has often been overlooked was the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on the Moon.

Aldrin told his pastor that he had “been struggling to find the right symbol for the first lunar landing.”  He wanted a way to express  what man was doing in the mission as transcending electronics and computers and rockets. “One of the principal symbols,” noted his pastor Dean Woodruff, “is that God reveals himself in the common elements of everyday life.”  These elements have traditionally been the elements of bread and wine – common food in Bible days and typical products of man’s labor.

Not wanting to cause a controversy, his fellow astronaut Deke Slayton, who ran the Apollo 11 flight crew, told Aldrin to “go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general.”  Aldrin asked listeners to contemplate the event and give thanks.  Then he took a piece of  scrap of paper on which he had written the following words and  he read – “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit, for you can do nothing without me.”

I never knew this happened on the Apollo trip.  It is another case of the media choosing to ignore the message of the gospel.  As I read about the sharing of communion in space I thought of Col. 1:19, “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and by him God reconciled everything to himself.  He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of his blood on the cross.”

The bread and wine shared on Apollo 11 represent the body and blood of our Lord.  It is a tangible reminder of his death for us.  It is by his death that one day all things in heaven and on earth will reconciled and peace will be established because of what Jesus did on the cross. How great that this was being proclaimed out in space.

I also thought of Heb 1:2-3, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” The first man to step foot on the moon remembered the one who, “sustains all thing by his powerful word.”

One other scripture from the Message (Eph 1:22-2).  “He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.  At the center of all this, Christ rules the church.  The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church.  The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.”  The body of Christ is at the center of all things.  Even in space, through the bread and the wine, the church is central to what God is doing.

Praise God that the Lordship of Jesus was declared by the first human to set foot on the moon.  We should not be surprised by this event.  God is sovereign creator of the universe.  He will make this truth known.  Even though many do not acknowledge this truth, we declare Jesus’ lordship  over the heavens and on earth.

Adulting

Millennials who feel they lack some basic life skills can now take “adulting” classes, which are expanding across the country.  The classes teach life skills such as  cooking, budgeting, and time management.  CBS New York reports  young adults are signing up for lessons in person and online.

Experts say millennials are behind on these skills because many haven’t left their childhood homes.  The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2015,  34 % of Americans between 18 and 34 still lived with a parent.  That’s compared to just 26% in 2005.  “It’s more common than living with roommates and more common than living with a spouse,” demographer Jonathan Vespa said.

Adulting is a verb mean, “to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals, for example,  paying off a credit card debt.  It can be exclusively used by those who adult less that 50% of the time.”  In other words, adulting is something you choose to do, rather then become an adult. There is even an “adulting” calendar to reward grown-ups with stickers for completing mundane tasks.

I’m in my late 70’s.  I have worked  intentionally on a Godly masculine lifestyle, but I  have never heard the word “adult” used as a verb to describe becoming a man.  But evidently Millennials  are familiar with the word. I wonder if their is a man reading this blog, who has choosen “adulting” as  lifestyle, rather then becoming a man.  God is looking for full time men, not those choosing selective adulting.

Manhood is a gift bestowed by our creator.  Again we go back to the order of creation.  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them”‘ (Gen. 1:27). This is not a selective process of choosing how to “adult” as a man.

Becoming a adult male does not come natural.  “Adulting” is really taking the path of least resistance.  Glenn Stanton in an article entitled, “Manhood is not natural” made this observation about men.  “Womanhood is natural.  Manhood is not…..As a behavior, manhood must be learned, proven and earned. Maleness just happens, but manhood does not.”

Maleness is biological, but manhood is a developed character quality.  “When manhood is not formed and cultivated,” Stanton maintains, “males fail to mature, resulting in the ‘perpetual adolescence’ or ‘failure to launch’ that plagues our culture.” Much of the blame for young men living in perpetual adolescence rests with  fathers.  A young man’s manhood is first learned from his father.  But if the father is not affirmed in is masculinity, many young men will go into the adult years feeling abandoned and fatherless.

Here is some simple advice for any father who is struggling with being a dad to a son.  First, surrender your life the Lord Jesus.  Allow him to bring you to your heavenly Father so that you may receive your affirmation as a man.  Secondly, be intentional about your fathering. You are the exemplar.  Your son has only one father. 3) Let your son know that becoming a man is difficult. Teach him to be “tough and tender” in the midst of the accusations of “toxic masculinity.  Finally, show your enthusiasm and intentionality about being a man.  Let your son know that Jesus and His kingdom are worth dying for.  Their is no room for compromise in being a godly man in the midst of all the confusion of our day.

Building Fences

My bride and I have gotten into a consistent pattern of going for our daily three mile walk together.  I cannot express how meaningful this has been for my present spiritual journey.  In our transition to senior apartment living as well as finding a new church home, we have had to go about building new relationships.

On one of recent walk we discussed “building fences.”  It’s really another way of talking about boundaries. In moving to a new community and establishing new relationships, we have had to talk intently about appropriate boundaries in our relationship with others.  As committed followers of Jesus we want to be a  light in our relationships, not be a stumbling block. “What is important is faith expressing itself in love” (Gal. 5:6 NLT)

It takes real discernment in knowing how to walk out what Paul tells us is the essence of our faith in relationships, especially those closest to us.  Jesus warns us – “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you.  You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves.  Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove” (Matt. 10:16 – Message).  Paul tells us, “Love must be sincere” (Rom. 12:9).  But we are also instructed, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Rom. 12:18).

I think we can all agree that establishing relationships is like walking in relational “minefields” or not knowing when we will be “broadsided.” Men I am learning from my wife, of her appreciation for my talking the lead in dealing with minefields and ambushes in relationships.  In other words, as husband, I am called upon to build the fence or boundary.

Personally, I do not like talking the responsibility for set the boundaries.  It means that I have to take the heat and getting involved in the messiness of relationships.  My wife appreciates when we candidly talk through our mutual experiences with others.  After coming to a clear agreement as to how to handle a relationship, some one has to “pull the trigger.”  Men, don’t expect you wife to do the difficult work of keeping proper boundaries.  This is our job.

I think this part of what Peter means when he exhorts husbands – “In the same way, you husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way [with great gentleness and tact, and with the intelligent regard for the marriage relationship], as with someone physically weaker, since she is a woman.  Show her honor and respect as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered or ineffective” ( I Pet. 3:7-8 Amp.).

I am showing gentleness and being tactful when I listen to my wife’s  emotional needs in relationships, taking into consideration how we doth perceive others and then going about protecting and keeping my wife secure in our relationships  Men, your wife needs to know that you are willing to take “the heat”  by building the proper fence around your relationships

Number Eight

On our daily walks, Judy and I  often meet others on the Paul Bunyan trail.  One day we met Trent.  He is friendly and engaging millennial.  When we first met we would exchange pleasantries.  Now our conversations takes more time.  I am asking Trent more about his life story.  One day I noticed he was wearing a New England Patriot jersey.  He was number 8.  I said I could not identify the number with a player on the team.  That when he said, “number 8 is me.”  On the back it had his last name “Daniels.”

I told Trent I was impressed with his determination to see himself as a unique person in his own right.  I could tell that he was a thoughtful young man, who was intentional about his beliefs and lifestyle. He was not going to follow the crowd.  I told him that I prayed for him daily.

Each time we meet it seems Trent has another t-shirt with the name of an rock band on the front.  Among them are such groups as “pantera,” “Audio Slave,” “A Perfect Circle” and “Alice In Chains.”  I went to I-tunes to sample Alice in Chains.  It sure is not for me.  This is what I read about Alice in Chains. “Alice in Chains puts a darker spin on 80”s hard rock, wielding a bubbling-tar grunge sound that anchored the 90’s alternative movement.”

One day I  told Trent I had  listened to an old favorite from my youth by a country western singer named Charlie Pride, entitled, “Crystal Chandeliers.”  Our daughter was moving into our home on the lake. She had installed a crystal chandelier.  I hope to share the song with my daughter and my three grandsons who are in their 20’s.

I share this budding relationship with Trent, because God have put a burden on my heart to reach out to the younger generation.  As of now I am enrolled at the local junior college to be one of 20 students in a honors compositions class.  I would like to learn more about relating to young adults with the intent of sharing the love of God.

The scripture that motivates me to reach out to the next generation is found in Ps 71:18, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all we are to come.”  In the margin of my bible I wrote “my retirement – 5/11/10.  That was over nine years ago.

I also wrote in the margin of Ps. 102:18-20 – “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord: The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.” I underlined the words, “the groans of the prisoners.”  Many young people are suffering under the terrible burden of a post-Christian culture that gives them very little hope

I pray with the Psalmist for the next generation to hear of  “the glorious deeds of the Lord” (4) – “so the next generation might know them – even the children not yet born – that they in turn might teach their children” (v.6).  Oh, Lord may men reading this blog have the same burden.

Western Skies

Recently I ran across a review of Bruce Springsteen’s new album entitled “Western Stars.”  I down loaded the music. He sure is able to express the deep angst in the souls of brokenhearted men. The songs are the stories of older men.  The reviewer, Stephen Klugewicz, writes, “The men of Western Stars are Everyman; they are all of us. They are broken, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and are alone sometimes by choice but often because of their own foibles, some seek redemption by asking for a second chance, others through hard work, or by wallowing in nostalgia and regret.”

The American West is depicted as a “land of sunshine, open roads, and new beginnings.”  But the West is not able to provide salvation for the lost and lonely.  I was moved by what Springsteen called “tone poems.”  Instead of stories of young men wanting to “blow this whole town apart” or middle-aged men experiencing the disillusionment of marriage and the working life, Springsteen sings the laments of isolated, down-and-out, older men, “who have been left mostly broken by their experiences and filled with remorse for their actions.”

The men in these songs need the assurance of a loving God, who is able to heal their broken hearts. Ps. 51:17 declares that a broken heart is pleasing to God. “The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.”  In Ps 34:18 we are assured of God being close to the brokenhearted. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  “The brokenhearted” and “crushed in spirit” notes The ESV Study Bible, “refers to the pride and stubbornness in one’s heart being humbled.”

It is Jesus who invites brokenhearted men to come to him. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Matt. 12:20).  He understands the needs of a broken heart and how to mend the wounds.  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light” (Matt. 11:28-29).  There is a place for men to bring their burdens.

“Rest for your souls” speaks of “eternal rest for all who seek forgiveness of their sins and freedom from the crushing legalistic burden and guilt of trying to earn salvation by good works” (ESV Study Bible).   Jesus will remove a man’s burden, enabling him to live freely.

Here is a sample of the broken hearts in the stories depicted in the songs.  In “Tucson Train” we listen to a man who regrets leaving a woman in San Francisco because he “got so down and out in Frisco/tired of the pills and the rain.”  The relationship was broken – “We fought hard over nothin’/We fought till nothing remained.”  Now he was waiting for her to come on the train to “show her a man can change.”

In “Chasin’ Wild Horses,” we learn of deep regret. “Guess it was somethin’ I shouldn’t have done/Guess I regret it now/Even since I was a kid/Tryin’ to keep my temper down is like/Chasin’ wild horses.”  In “Stones” we hear about a man who wakes up with stones in his mouth, a symbol of the lies he tells his beloved.  In “Moonlight Motel,” we learn of a man, who is married, recalling a long-ago love affair at a now-abandoned motel.

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