Echoes from the Psalms. 

In 2016 me and my wife Dawn were over in San Francisco waiting for our first grandson to make an appearance.  We decided to wait by visiting the Grand Canyon – what a place and what an experience!  This was one of those times when the use of the word awesome was appropriate but inadequate!

This visit has helped me recently regarding a new discipline I am learning which I’ve called – ‘Echoes from the Psalms!’ The Canyon had some brilliant echo points and to my amazement so too do the Psalms! The difference between the Grand Canyon echoes and the echoes from the Psalms is this –

It is another voice that comes back to me through the Psalms and not my own.

That voice, through the Psalms, is the Father’s and it will resonate with where we are, how it is and how we might respond to the situation we are in!  When we take this new ‘echo’ and through the discipline of meditation, implant it into our hearts, it will strengthen and empower us to persevere and overcome.

Here are the steps I have learnt and am applying about this wonderful truth and discipline –

  1. Bring the issue we are struggling with and honestly name it before God.
  2. Start to read the Psalms with an expectation of hearing His echo!
  3. Continue to read the Psalms until you hear His Echo!
  4. Take the verse or verses and read these again, in different versions.
  5. Keep reading until you see the word, image or thought, the Father is releasing to you!
  6. Repent of any thoughts that are contrary to what He is showing you.
  7. Then take this new thought and implant it into the soil of your heart which will produce the fruit contained within His echo!
  8. Every day and throughout the day say what His echo is saying!

Confessing is coming into agreement with what He has said.  Faith also comes by hearing the Word of Christ.  Roms 10:17

An often-used word throughout the Psalms is Selah.

Selah means to – ‘pause and calmly think about that, in His presence!’

There is nothing off limits to Him concerning our lives and He desires to empower every aspect of our life.   My final thought about this Echo from the Psalms is taken from studying angel Gabriel’s words to Mary in Luke 1:37b –

For nothing is impossible with God.

The word nothing is actually made up of two words: no and thing.  The word for thing is Rhema.   Rhema is God’s now word which comes out of His said (logos) or written word.

Jack Taylor sums it up well –

“No, freshly spoken Word of God will ever come to you, that does not contain in itself the ability to perform itself.”

The Echo from the Father which is His now Word will have the power within itself, to perform and deliver what is being promised.  All we have to do is implant it within our hearts.   This implanting is vital because James 1:21 says – “it is the implanted word that is able to save us! “ The word able means –

“a word whose property it is to root itself like a seed in the heart.”

The power and capacity of His ‘seed Word’ needs the soil of our hearts.  When His Word is in our hearts it is able to produce a thirty, sixty or hundredfold harvest.  Mark 4:20

So, don’t let any issue boom around in your hearts and minds.  Go to the Psalms, hear His echo, follow the above steps and begin to see the issues, your life and your contexts change.

Every blessing,

 

Andy

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BLESSED INDEBTEDNESS!

One of the greatest deceptions the masculine soul has to deal with is – self-reliance and one of its greatest fears is indebtedness.  However, by design, God the Father has placed within the masculine heart and soul, the need to live in and from, what I call ‘blessed Indebtedness!’

The law of the first mention, reveals to us the core dynamic of the word blessed –

“God blessed them and said…Gen 1:28.

In the beginning, God gave His man and woman the ability to function in and achieve the commands He would give. The Father gives His sons and daughters the Capacity to fulfil His Command and the Power to function in His Purpose(s)! Cf Gen 1:28 & Phil 2:13.

Most people when they think about indebtedness automatically think of owing money, i.e. being in debt which means we owe something to someone and they expect us to pay up!  However, exploring the dynamics of indebtedness and coupling them to the dynamics of Blessed is potentially a life-changing revelation!

 There are three words and three dynamics that lay at the core of indebtedness – acknowledgement; mutuality and gratitude.  These three words and dynamics take on more meaning when we bring them alongside the three levels of life the Father has designed for all those He has created – Dependence, Independence & Inter-dependence.

Dependence was everyone’s entry-level,  we then we move into Independence which feels so freeing that we can think we have arrived as a person.  However, the highest level of life, set by The Father and the one that brings most joy and fulfilment, is Inter-dependence.

We begin in reliance, move to self-reliance but the question is, have we moved to inter-reliance?

Inter means between or among and so inter-reliance speaks of reliance being rooted not in self alone but in relation to another.

In the beginning, Adam was described as being alone (Gen 2:18) but not defined as being lonely!  After all, he had the community of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit!

Adam was not designed to do life on his own and this might shock but also, not just with God alone!

He needed a suitable and comparable helper in the earth.  He needed Eve.  Eve did not finish or complete Adam because he was perfect.  Eve empowered Adam to live and function, on the Father’s highest level – Inter-dependence, and vice versa!

Inter-dependence is the Father’s strategy for His Kingdom to come through His people, into the earth and then fill the earth with the realities of His Kingdom.  The Father entrusts the responsibility and authority of His Kingdom to an inter-dependent team.  He then brings them into a unity of heart, mind and purpose and through these qualities  He releases the power to achieve the impossible.  Gen 1:26-28 & Gen 11:6

All three of the words of indebtedness – acknowledgement, mutuality and gratitude, are within Adam’s words of response to The Father’s giving of Eve into his world –

The man said, “this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man.”

Satan attacked The Father’s team, Adam and Eve seeking to divide and conquer them so that he could use their authority and power against them and then fill the earth with his agenda. John 10:9

When the Last Adam came which was Jesus, Satan attacked The Father’s new team – the twelve.   The greatest demand and source of frustration in Jesus’s earthly ministry were the twelve; who were slow to learn, eager for the best seats and struggled to do life – inter-dependently!

Jesus deliberately chose a Jewish Zealot and a Tax collector to be on His team.

These two polar opposites eventually came to the revelation that they needed each other and the other ten!  So, an inter-dependent team was in place, united in heart, mind and purpose, all they needed now was the power.  At Pentecost, they received that needed power!

The Father of the Kingdom has hidden two further revelations within the revelation that is inter-dependence –

  1. The Impossible.  See Gen 11: 3-7 esp v 6
  2. The Saturation Anointing.  The eg’s of Aaron & Mount Zion are the results of v 1

I desire to see and experience the saturation anointing, that leads to the impossible becoming possible and tangible in my life.  Therefore, I have to renounce forever self-reliance, independence and isolationism and ask The Father to lead me to my polar opposites.  I know it will take a work of grace within me and within them but there are no shortcuts to the saturation anointing and to seeing the impossible entering and changing the earth!

 

Every blessing,

Andy

 

Stripes & Spoils.

The title of this blog is, to my mind, the core dynamic of Isaiah 53 which describes the strategic battle that Jesus took on, a battle that produces specific outcomes.  Those outcomes I am calling the spoils of war.   Literally,  Jesus’s stripes secured all the spoils of this battle.

Spoils of war describe all that a victorious soldier captures from a defeated enemy. 

In v12 Isaiah says that He [Jesus] will divide the spoils with the numerous.  Isaiah uses three short sentences that form the backbone of the revelation within this amazing chapter –

He was, He Will, We Are!

This blog is intentionally short because I have made a video, my first on my new YouTube channel which I hope you will watch.   This video is my first attempt at recording and video editing and I believe, like the founders of Google who started in a garage, that your experience of the Ironjohn channel will increase, as I become more and more competent and creative.

So, please check out my video – Stripes & Spoils, via the link below.

 

Andy

 Inbox & S.P.A.M!

“Keep inbox [mind] free from SPAM [specially prepared accusation mail].”

This thought came as a strong command during a time of listening prayer.  Along with it three verses – 2 Cor 2:11; 1 Peter 5:8 & Eph 4:26&27.  Within each verse, there was a word that stepped out of the text – schemes, adversary, no place! I will put them in outline form and share some thoughts about each and how they relate to the title of my blog which is also a command of the Father, to His sons and daughters.

  1. Schemes.      2 Cor 2:11
  2. Adversary.    1 Pet 5:8
  3. No place.      Eph 4:27

2 Cor 2:11.  ..in order that no advantage (pleonekteo)* be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes (noema)* NASB

This verse contains an assumption: we are not ignorant of his, the devil’s, schemes!  Through the words used by the Holy Spirit i.e. advantage and schemes, He is revealing how the devil operates, the primary methods he uses to attack us and what he is ultimately after.  The core dynamic of his attack is the desire to get more (advantage)   access to our minds, so as to gain more dominion over us.  It’s important to remember that he has no authority, except that which he can deceive off of us and then use against us!  The word for scheme, pictures a scheming, calculating and consistent mind, who will not quit unless he’s forced too!

1 Pet 5:8 be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary (antidikos)*the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  NKJV 

In this verse, Satan is described as an adversary, a word which depicts an opponent in a lawsuit.  The fuller picture is one of a prosecution lawyer who enters the court with the singular purpose of bringing offences against the defendant – you and me!   His ultimate objective is that through these offences, he will try and incarcerate or make a prison of the one in the dock.   The offences come from the facts of our story, our journey and include past mistakes and failures.   He so presents and spins these facts, trying to convince us that we deserve judgement and sentence, rather than mercy and grace.  The HS through Peter tells us what to do with this slick lawyer? Resist him!

We resist by remembering and declaring, with thanksgiving, that Jesus has set a precedent.  He has gone into the dock for us, took up our offences and iniquities and bore the punishment of them in our place. See Ish 53:4&5  It is finished and the price has been paid.  Jn 19:30 & Roms 6:23  Therefore, we have to remind and forcibly so, this prosecution lawyer, that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus and the punishment that brought us peace, was fully bore by Him.  In Him, ALL the righteousness requirements of the law have been fully met in us. Cf  Roms 8:1 & 4

Eph 4:26&27 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place (topos)* to the devil. NKJV

We are to give no place, to the Devil. The word used is topos and speaks off a marked off spacea geographical location.  Topography is all about maps, regions and territoriesAll territories and regions have boundaries or another way of describing them is crossing over or entry points.  The entry point, where the Devil can cross over into our marked off location, is through strong emotion – anger.

When we bring all these words – scheme, lawyer and marked off space together, we get a clearer picture of what the Devil is after.  He is after our hearts, by persistently scheming against the boundary line of our minds which is our will.  He seeks to penetrate our will by bringing accusations against us, via our thinking and stirring up strong emotions, so as to breach the disciplined mind, the Father gave us.  See 2 Tim 1: 7

Give no place is the language of choice.

He cannot just walk in and take over; we have to surrender our space and territory.  Remember this profound truth – Satan has no authority over a blood brought son or daughter of God. The only authority he can get is the one he deceives us into giving which is our authority.  He will then use that against us, just like he did with Adam and Eve!

Just like spam, the Devil has Specially Prepared Accusation Mail, which he constantly bombards our inbox (mind) with.

His title, the Devil is made up of two Greek words – dia and balo.  Dia meaning through which dynamically is about penetrating and Balo means to throw!   When we bring them together it reveals the picture of one who is consistently throwing accusations at us, seeking to penetrate our minds and take territory in our hearts.

If he succeeds through his accusations, slander or lies, he will fill our minds with confusion, guilt, fear and shame.

The way the US treasury train their personnel to spot a forged dollar bill is to never show them a counterfeit.  They are so used to the true version; they can automatically spot a fake.

Likewise, we need to know the truth which for us is a person, Jesus Christ and to know His Word.   So that, when the Devil of a lawyer seeks to penetrate our mind, we can send him running, by wielding our sword of truth.  In His encounter with the Devil, Jesus answered twice – It is written and His final answer was – I tell you. See Matt 4: 1-11

We too, need to know what has been written, become familiar with the laws and precedent of His Word and then give the Devil our final answer – It is written!

Issachar anointing!

To be anointed is to be empowered and enabled to do that which God is commanding us to do.  The anointing of Issachar has a twofold outworking, firstly, to know the time you are in and secondly to know what to do.  See 1 Chron 12:32

“In any moment of decision, the best thing to do is the right thing.  The next best thing is the wrong thing but the worst thing you can do is nothing at all.”  Theodore Roosevelt

The Father does not what us to be in the dark and so he has promised to switch the light on so we can see the time and our much-needed action.

The entrance of His word brings light. Ps 119:130  He has also promised that He will flood the eyes of our heart with light.  See Eph 1:18  (enlightened means to flood with light).

So, as I open His word now, I pray and come into agreement with you, that the Holy Spirit will give you the anointing of Issachar, so you’ll see what time it is and what actions are needed.

In the New Testament, there are three different words for time and each one is describing a different phase of the same process.  The three words are Chronos, Kairos & Pleroo.  Let’s look at the keyword and core dynamic of each, how they related to each other and what actions, lead us from one phase to the next?

Chronos – general or everyday time.  What I call tick tock time!  The clock just keeps ticking and tocking, like an old grandfather clock in the hallway of life, as we come in and go out!   Scripture reveals three core dynamics, attitudes of life, that need to be developed in Chronos time: perseverance, faithfulness and thanksgiving.  See Roms 5:3-5 & James 1:2-8

“Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time (kairos) we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal 6:9

An illustration from the life of the bee will give us insight into proper (kairos) time.

In the first stage of its life, the bee is placed in a hexagonal cell, given sufficient honey and then the cell and bee are sealed over with wax. Stage two happens when the bee runs out of honey, it discerns it is time (kairos) to start stage three.   Stage three is all about pushing through the wax.  So, it begins to make a hole just big enough to push through.  This stage and the effort requires becomes very wearing to the bee.  Yet, it this effort and pressure that removes a thin membrane, that’s covering its wings.   It then flies, soars and begins to receive and release life-giving material.

Kairos means opportune or strategic time and always involves pushing against pressure.  It does not feel like an opportune time for the bee, and for us too because the pressure and effort can make us weary.  Yet, the consistent effort the bee makes in ‘wax time’ and we make in Kairos time, contains the designer’s strategy which will enable and empower us to fly, soar and receive and release life-giving material.

The third and final word for time is pleroo and refers to something being completed or finished.  So, in Gal 4:4 we read –

“but when the time (pleroo) had fully come, God set His Son….”

I refer to pleroo time as holding and showing the baby off time!

I am an Abu el Banat which is a Bedouin saying & the title of an episode from the West Wing.  It means father of daughters!

I was there when each one was conceived and born.   I share this because I don’t know of a more precise illustration for all the three words for time and the process it leads to, than having a baby

Conception and gestation happen in tick-tock time.  When the news comes that a baby is on its way, there are actions around nutrition and check-ups that are key.  Then comes Kairos time – labour. It’s time to push!

I can remember with our first daughter, Dawn was enormous and feeling very uncomfortable and so we walked over the river for a drink at the pub.  Dawn got her soft drink, I had a pint of Guinness that was settling when suddenly Dawn said – “my waters have broken.”  I have never drunk a pint of Guinness so fast and off we went to the hospital where, 24 hours later, Heidi was born.

Chronos became Kairos and I can well remember the pain and difficulty that Dawn went through and the potential danger there was, to her and Heidi!

All of this was forgotten, for a while at least, as Dawn held Heidi!

‘Spiritual babies,’ the gifts and new arrivals Father puts inside all His sons and daughters, all have to come through this threefold process.  So, the crucial question is –

What time are you in?

  • Is it time to get pregnant? (the historical meaning of intercourse, describes two minds connecting!) Father has something in His mind that He’d like to see running around in His world.  Is it time to take His idea and give it life and legs
  • Maybe you’ve been carrying and feeding His idea for a while now.  Keep persevering, remain faithful and step up the thanksgiving because, these attitudes and disciplines, will lead you to Kairos time! (labour time.)  Read Ish 66:9)
  • If your circumstances are difficult, uncomfortably painful and there’s been an increase in fear, then you are definitely in Kairos time.  Get ready to push!
  • If you’re holding the baby congratulations! Now help that new arrival to mature, produce and multiple.

Every Blessing,

Abu el Banat

What time is it Mr Wolf?

When our three daughters were very young I used to play the game – what time is it Mr Wolf, with them.    They would ask the question and I would say a number and they would move closer to the wolf which was me!  I’d time it just right and when they asked what time is it Mr Wolf I would shout dinner time and turn and chase one of them. The girls loved it.

Although Satan is not depicted as a wolf in 1 Peter 5:8 he is a carnivorous hunter – one looking to devour flesh!  The context shows that he cannot just walk up and devour anyone he wants but like a lion, he is looking to take advantage of the injured and the inexperienced.   He uses his main weapon which is intimidation, seen in the phrase – like a roaring lion!

Peter urges believers to be proactive against this carnivorous hunter by understanding and developing three disciplines – be sober, be vigilant and resist!  These three decisions and disciplines, working together, will send this flesh eater running!

The Holy Spirit warns that anyone in the flesh cannot please the Father.  Our flesh cannot, meaning it does not have the capacity, and will not, meaning it does not have the desire, to submit to God. See Roms 8:7&8.    Flesh in the NT is shorthand for ‘any part of our soul, that’s not being renewed by the truth of His Word and through the power of His Spirit, being brought under the Lordship of Christ.’

When my images, thoughts, desires and emotions are not lined up with His, then I am in the flesh which means I am not pleasing God and I am open to being devoured by this carnivorous hunter!

We are commanded to not be ignorant of this carnivorous lion’s schemes (2 Cor 2:11) and as we are establishing, he is after our flesh and seeking to take advantage of our inexperience and injuries.  Two verses will help our understanding and empower us to overcome his attacks – 2 Cor 2:10 & 11 & Eph 6:11

In 2 Cor 2:11 Paul declares he is not ignorant or inexperienced in his dealings with Satan and so his action of forgiving in verse 10 stops Satan taking advantage of him.  The word advantage speaks of gaining more of something.   The need to forgive speaks of being injured by another and so Paul moves quickly to forgive because he is not in the dark about Satan’s schemes.  Unforgiveness, although a very difficult issue at times, gives Satan access to more of our mind, emotions and heart.

The reason unforgiveness can feel like we’re being eaten up from inside is; that is what is happening!

We are not going to get through life without experiencing ‘relational injuries!’  But behind the scenes is the one who constantly schemes to get us in the flesh.  Let us remember that Christ was bruised and pierced, in other words, his blood heals all internal injuries, bruises done to us by others, and not just physical sickness.   See Ish 53:5

Unforgiveness, offence, bitterness are access points for him.

Eph 6:11 contains the image of us putting on the whole armour of God so we can make our stand against the wiles of the devil.  The word wiles literally translates as – ‘with a road.’  It compares the devil to a traveller heading down a road.

I like to remind myself this way: he’s heading in one direction, towards one destination to accomplish three desires – to rob, steal and destroy.

That destination is our minds and through our mind, to fill our hearts, so as to flood our lives with his images, thoughts and actions!

What time is it Mr Wolf?

It’s time to stay sober and remain alert to his persistent schemes and plans.  Time to take decisive action when he tries to take advantage via our relationships, past mistakes or our lack of experience.  It’s time to resist him by and in faith and see him flee.  It is time to grow our confidence and faith and mature as super-conquerors in Christ.  See Roms 8:37

 

 

Transition.

I haven’t blogged for a number of weeks, due to a number of pressures and loss.  This time reminds me of a truth – we are always in a season, and according to His Word, there’s a key activity to undertake in the season we find ourselves in.   See Eccles 3:1   The season I am in is transition and this season can really be a troubling time emotionally and mentally and we can experience what I call soul lag.

Soul lag, like jet lag, affects our ability to function.  Our bodies which are used to a particular time zone, struggle, initially to assimilate the new zone we are in. It is just the same with our soul which houses our mind, will and emotions – our thinker, chooser & feeler!  Temporarily, these all struggle to function, as they transition to a new time, season and activities!

Transition is where all growth and development occur.  Nothing new happens when business is as usual.  Except, things compound!

Transition is a constant and seasonal dynamic in the heart and mind of the Father for all humans and especially for His sons and daughters.  The purpose of His transitional programme is summed up in Deut 8:2 – “remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep my commands.”

Transition is the time and season where the Father reveals the state and condition of our heart, both the good and the bad!  His desire is to bring out both and to develop the good and remove the bad.  This is the purpose of the pressure and the test.  See Roms 3:5 & Jas 1:2-8

As I write, from my experience of transition, my character trait that needs to be developed is a steadfast heart.  Ps 112:8 gives me the qualities of a steadfast heart.   These qualities need the pressure of their counterparts, so I can resist the and through my multiple repetitions against the resistance, I can develop a steadfast heart.  The character trait that needs to be removed is a lack of consistency, or as scripture calls it – constancy!

As I continue on this ‘going and growing’ transitional journey, a foundational theological truth and revelation as come back to me which is found in Roms 5:8 – but God demonstrated his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

Demonstrate, translates as an introduction and so God introduces His love when we are in the worse of states and places – Christ died when we were sinners.  This core characteristic of Father’s love is an important reminder as I take on the gap between where I am and where He is leading me which is the goal of transition.

His love kicks in even when I or it, are not looking good or going well! AS well as His unmerited love being available in transition, so too the other side of grace – His unrivalled power!  And this power is made perfect in weakness which translates as lacking ability.

So, when I know I cannot, I reminded myself that His power, strength and might, are available, as a covenant right and applied by faith. See Eph 6:10

Whatever season you may be in and however it is going, or not! Remember, His unmerited love AND unrivalled power IS available, especially at those times that look or feel impossible.

1096 P2

1096 is the Strong’s number for the Greek word – power to become which is within the foundational verse of this blog –

“to all who received him, to those who believed in His name, He gave them power to become children of God.” Jn 1:12

He gave, is the language of bestowing a gift or privilege! Everyone may be a child of God, however, sonship or daughterhood are bestowed when we are born again or from above, by the Holy Spirit.

Bestowing happens in a moment, becoming takes a lifetime and then a few seconds! See 1 Cor 15:52. Bestowing and becoming involves the Father, The Son & The Holy Spirit.   What the Father desires, His estranged sons and daughters to come home, The Son has secured and The Holy Spirit will apply.

In fact, the primary function of The Holy Spirit is to testify to our spirits that we are adopted sons and daughters, who are also heirs and co-heirs with The Father and The Son.  Roms 8:15-17.  The Spirit desires to reveal to us – who we are, whose we are and what we’ve been given.

This is the Biblical path of identity and becoming!

We are adopted sons and daughters, we belong to The Father, who views us as His prized possession, His workmanship, a good work in progress and a Persona Viator –

“a person on the way!”

We have been given full rights as sons and daughters which includes all sins forgiven and forgotten and the power, price and penalty of that sin decisively dealt with through Christ.  We have The Spirit who is a down payment and a guarantee of daily empowerment and the anointing to be, live and speak for Christ.  Below is a list of sixteen truths and present-day realities which is why they are written in the past tense, that are part of the full rights, every son and daughter has been given.

  1. Purchased
  2. Rescued
  3. Ransomed
  4. Redeemed
  5. Adopted
  6. Accepted
  7. Approved
  8. Translated
  9. Transferred
  10. Grafted in
  11. Loved
  12. Called
  13. Kept
  14. Raised
  15. Seated
  16. Blessed

Our being is in Christ, who has brought us back home to our Glorious Father. Eph 1:17 and the Father desires that the eyes of our heart be opened so we can know Him better and see and know the hope, the inheritance and the power that are ours by adoption.  Eph 1:18-20. The Spirit’s core role in all of this is to help us to –

“become in experience what we already are by grace!”

Alec Moyter commentary on Philippians

This Spirit led and achieved process, of being and becoming, needs us to understand and undertake two lost spiritual disciplines – identification and appropriation.

When the Spirit does a work of grace within us, He leads us to see that Christ’s work on the cross and through the resurrection, was for us.  He then leads us to repent of our declaration of independence, the core nature of sin and we return to the Father, deciding to make Jesus our Lord; all of this is identification.

Historically and sadly, much of recent church history has focused almost entirely on getting people to identify with the finished work of Christ.  Although correct, it is incomplete because Jesus never came to ask people to pray prayers, or even invite Him into their hearts.  He gave people the opportunity to become His disciple, to learn with and from Him and to follow His leadership for the rest of their lives.

In between the moment we identify with Christ’s work and the very moment we see Him face to face, our core concern is appropriation! This is the daily partnership with the Holy Spirit, so we become in our experience what we already are in Christ!

Moving from being in Him to becoming more and more like Him!

 

1096

 

Identity takes little time to write but can be a dynamic that takes longer to work out, and yet it is a sum that is vital to answer because identity is foundational to building a life!  All of us identify that we are human beings which is one use of identity i.e. the fact of being.  Oxford Dictionary.  Another definition is about ‘determining characteristics.’  The first usage is what we are, categorised the second who we are, characterised!

The facts are, we came into being on a given date and one day we’ll go out again and in-between, we have the small dash to work out who we are.  The difficulty of developing our identity is that life happens and it releases its momentum which we can get drawn into and before we know it the sense of self-begins to form and we begin to think and live from this ‘contextual momentum!’

Like a coffee pot, our sense of identity just percolates through and into us, from the events and process called upbringing.

I guess the time where I took hold of this massive life issue was around thirty, when I entered the Church Army College, for three years of theological, academic and practical training, to become a Church Army captain and to enter into the office of an evangelist in the Church of England.  This context, put some serious heat on my ‘coffee pot identity’ and I began to notice that I had different identities for different people and contexts.  After two terms, I was emotional and mentally spent, and so, I made a conscious decision to ‘change the brew! Literally, I woke up and smelt the coffee and I didn’t like the brand!

One of the first thoughts that empowered my ‘dash-identity journey’ was a thought that came one day in listening prayer – “all labels are essentially self-adhesive!”  With the attached peace that came with this thought, I knew it was the Holy Spirit speaking and so I asked Him to help me grasp the understanding and wisdom He was offering to my world and this key issue.

“The flavour, strength and aroma of the coffee, comes not from your contexts or experiences but from your interpretations and decisions about these times and occasions.”

In a moment which I am still applying today, I saw that my interpretations and decisions were the coffee powder!  Therefore, I knew, that wake up and smell the coffee was simultaneously the chance to change the coffee.  I did and still am!

1096 is the Strong’s reference number for the Greek word ginomai, meaning cause to be (“gen’ –erate) and is used with great latitude i.e. Literally, figuratively and intensively.  It is not coincidental that this word is associated with the word ginosko (1097) meaning ‘to know.”

Our ‘cause-to-beness,’ our 1096 is rooted and flows out of our 1097 – knowledge which is always relational in its nature.  Our identity is rooted in the internalised knowledge resulting from the effects of events and interactions in our upbringing.  Identity is bestowed but no one’s bestowing opinion can become mine/ours without our co-operation.  Not even God’s!

Listen to and think about these words from John 1:12

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God…”

Children of God is a bestowed title, an event, granted and given because a divinely imparted process was adhered to – received, believed and so become!

In this verse is a simple but profound principle that underpins identity –

what we receive, [knowledge, information, reflections] that we subsequently believe [trust, place confidence in, are persuaded by] this we become!

To become an adopted son or daughter of God is a gift, to change our identity is graft, and this begins with revisiting the information we have received and what beliefs this has led to.  This is what the bible calls transformation and happens through the entire renewal of our minds.

If we don’t like who we’ve become then receive the new life that Father and His Son offers and then we can work with the Holy Spirit, who will lead us into truth and bring about the transformation that truth contains.

 

 

 

Lavished & Labelled! 

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God and that is what we are.  1 John 3:1

Sometimes the quickest way to understanding a text is to use the study tool called outline form.  So, –

  1. Behold
  2. What manner of love the Father
  3. Has bestowed
  4. Should be called children of God
  5. That is what we are

 

  1. The word behold carries the idea of seeing & experiencing something so amazing, it stops you in your tracks.  It denotes seeing and contemplating which ends in a sense of wonder, even awe! This is not someone taking a glance, it’s someone fixed by a tracker-beam, being drawn to something mind-blowing.

 

  1. The love being seen and experienced is otherly worldly in kind and degree and the writer is aware that it is not from this realm but from another world! It is not like anything he has seen or experienced, and he finds it fascinating to his mind and understands it will be a life-changing experience!

 

  1. What’s staggering about this otherly worldly love is that it has been bestowed. It has already been given but also waits to be received. Bestow is all about something being given to another without any reference to their merit or behaviour.  This otherly worldly love is summed up in Roms 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us.  The Word demonstrates means introduced.  I say it this way – “when I was in the worst of states and places, Father gave me His best!”  His very best, given, when we were at our worse.

 

  1. Popular culture would say we are all children of God, and in the sense of we are all created and made in the imago Dei (image of God) we are! However, the people being addressed in this context are people who have stopped, looked and responded to God’s introduction to His otherly worldly love, namely Christians.   They bear the imago Dei but in Christ, it has been fully restored, freely, by grace and through faith.  They are children by adoption, by second birth and the writer so wants this truth to be understood, he uses the phrase – this is what we are!  In today’s text world, it would be CAPITALISED, EMBOLDENED & UNDERLINED!

 

  1. The reality, as far as God is concerned, is that anyone who comes back to Him through the work of His Son, immediately becomes adopted by grace and they receive the full rights as sons and daughters. See Gal 4:4&5   Jesus gave us a great glimpse of this truth in telling the parable of the prodigal son, He pictures God the Father, lavishing His love on an undeserving, lacking in merit son –

“But the father said to his servants, Quick [immediately] Bring the best robe and put it on him.  Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.” Luke 15:22 parentheses mine.

The good news of Jesus is not believe in me and one day you’ll be in heaven.  That’s correct but woefully incomplete!  His good news, the gospel, is that we can come back to the Father and immediately be given the full rights as adopted sons and daughters.  And that, through covenant love and the blood of His Son, we have the right and the might, to draw on the resources of the Risen King and see the reality of His kingdom begin to rule and reign in the earth!

From the time, we come home to Father, His Spirit is constantly witnessing to our spirits that we are adopted children of God and the sooner we experience the loving spirit of adoption, the better our lives will be.

Adoption is our starting point.  Inheritance our focal point!

If we are children then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order to share in His glory.  Roms 8:17