The premise for these blogs on masculinity is that God did not create humans. That’s a throw away categorisation and generalisation attached by man. Father intentionally and purposely created a masculine and feminine heart and soul and both are unique and complementary, and together they reflect all His fullness.
There is a saying – don’t saw against the grain which speaks of not working against oneself, of not getting the most out of your efforts which leads to compromise in productivity. If I am to avoid theses I need to cut with the God-given grain of my MH&S and that has four ‘grains’ to it – Navigate, Engage, Empower, Sacrifice.
These are the structure, functions and purposes of the MH&S and for maximum productivity I need to honour His grains and work with them and Him.
Navigate speaks of planning and directing a journey, by the use of maps and instruments at our disposal and the journey us men are on is called life! There are records i.e. maps that others who gone before us have left, these charts are pointers and give us a broad understanding of the terrain of life. Then there are the tools, those established principles that Father has put in place that we need to get hold of and learn how to handle and apply them to our contexts.
We have this life, our time and space years, to master the maps and the principles and help our love ones to make progress on the journey of life until we reach the horizon and enter eternity. Simply put, us men are here for others and if we accept this command and challenge of our ‘first father,’ we can move from happiness to fulfilment which is the highest level our father has created and purposed us for.
We can be happy but not fulfilled but we cannot reach fulfilment and not be happy.
It is not co-incidental that happiness and happenings both share the same root word and popular culture is addicted to happenings for their happiness. On the surface, I buy into this dynamic but has a long-term strategy for life it’s a deception because all events/happenings can offer is an invitation which many do not heed and so they need another ‘fix’ and on the addiction goes.
In the beginning the father offered the MH&S an invitation which followed the event of creation and this invitation can be summed up in one word: engage!
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Gen 1:28
Dynamically the father was commanding the newly formed MH&S to participate in a process He’d begun: to fill the earth with what He had planted – Eden.
“A delightful, pleasurable and beautiful place. Eden also means voluptuously which speaks of fullness and is characterised by pleasure and enjoyment, of all the senses.”
The MH&S was created to exercise power and designed to manage it, and given a clear mandate. I like to paraphrase it this way – “given the right and the might to join Father in His global strategy!”
All the commands father gave the MH&S – be fruitful, increase, fill, subdue and rule all have a core dynamic – process.
If I engage with His process there will be many events and happenings which includes conflict and battles, inferred by the use of the word subdue. This is a heads up by father that opposition to his process of filling the earth will come and we are to opposes this and win! These times of opposition will call for me to be aggressive even fierce, to use a whip and turn over the status quo tables! See John 2:15
There does not seem to be any indication to how long it was before the first man, Adam encountered the opposition, i.e. Satan. However, we do have the clear record of how Adam handled it, the root cause of his failure and the global consequences of his failure to engage!
Adam’s passivity, his failure to engage the enemy with the tools he had been given happened locally, in Eden but the consequences were global. Cf Matt 4:8&9 & Rom 5: 17 Authority, rule, kingdoms and their splendour were handed over because father had assigned the earth to men and women. See Ps 115:16
Where there had been intimacy, unity, life and peace there was now fear and shame, separation and blame!
One of the forgotten titles of the man Christ Jesus is the last Adam and in Romans 5:12-20 the last Adam’s engagement and the first Adam’s passivity are compared, and the consequences are staggering!
If as men we have returned back to our Father through the finished work of his Son, then the Holy Spirit will be testifying that we are His sons and we have full rights which includes to reign in life [again] through the man Christ Jesus. Roms 5:17 We do this by remembering our position; the gift of righteousness and using the provision called the abundant provision of grace; His unrivalled power.
All we lost and more, have been restored to us, His co-regents and now we can get back to implementing Father’s manifesto which He released in the beginning – be fruitful, increase, fill, subdue and rule. If we do this and engage with our local contexts we will see the rule and resources of His kingdom become our realities!
Questions are an essential part of life but a subject that us men seem a little nervous around. They are essential because they help us troubleshoot; a vital part of problem solving which is a core purpose of the masculine soul.
Questions are a sign of humility which predisposes God to give us His power. 1 Peter 5:5 they also reveal a desire to learn, grow, develop and transform and these are intrinsic parts of being a disciple of Jesus.
I have had many questions levelled at me through the years and I have had those ‘percolating questions’ that rise up within my masculine heart and soul. These usually fall into two categories – What is a man? Am I a man?
Right from the outset my masculine heart and soul received a steady stream of data regarding these two foundational and fundamental questions. I have to say; the messages were mixed, confusing and conflicting. Until I came to a place, a ah ah moment.
I was reflecting on Gen 1:28 and reading a book by John Eldridge and came to a thought of his –
“God doesn’t make generic people, he makes something very distinct – a man and a woman. In other words, there is a masculine heart and a feminine heart which in their own ways reflect and portray to the world God ‘s heart.” Pg 8 Wild at Heart John Eldredge
If I believe, which I do, that I am created by God, then He intentionally designed and defaulted my masculine soul. At that moment, eight years ago, the desire to discover the design, function and purpose of the masculine heart and soul began.
What I have discover, learnt and am applying is the subject of the next four posts.
The structure, functions and purposes of the masculine heart and soul are fourfold – Navigate, Engage, Empower, Sacrifice.
The big four are like grid references on a map. They are ordinance survey points that help orientate us. They are the needles of a compass and sacrifice is the magnetic north our masculine heart and soul.
Navigate speaks of planning and directing a journey, by the use of maps and instruments at our disposal. This paradigm of life as a journey which needs to be proactively charted, lies at the core of our MH&S, by design. It is not co-incidental that the game Uncharted was a massive hit with men and yet the things called for through the levels, tests and challenges of the game, are paralleled in life. Sadly, too many men have retreated to the online version and seem detached from the real-life version of Uncharted!
“Adam was created outside the garden, in the wilderness. Man was born in the outback, from the untamed part of creation!” Pg 34 Wild at Heart. John Eldredge
An essential part of navigating is trusting the encounters and experiences of those who have gone before and who have left clues to the terrain, obstacles and challenges of the journey. These mature topographers, these generational ‘charters,’ are what the Bible calls spiritual fathers and should be in our world, and yet they are rare.
I have to be honest and say I don’t think I’ve been the best navigator or topographer to my marriage and family but like Paul I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: forgetting what’s past I press on to the upward call of Christ. Phil 3:12
In July and November of 2016 I was given the privilege of becoming a granddad. I feel the call of this new level of the ‘computer game of life!’ I have another chance as a navigator and topographer and I will rise to challenge to be there for the emerging and the established generations.
AS the lyricist said “No one said it was easy!’ and nothing worthwhile ever is!
Just had a wonderful four days at Centreparcs at Sherwood Forest, a serious time of chilling and being with family.
It was my first holiday with my granddaughter Ivy and watching her and her interactions with mum and dad was a joy.
I was reminded of how it really should be in those early days and weeks of life, through Ivy’s eyes and facial expressions when her mum, my daughter Bethany was talking to and interacting with her.
Ivy’s eyes were full of wonder, awe, joy, happiness and sometimes they matched the frown on her face. All this stimulated by Bethany’s tone and gestures.
This was connection and intimacy 101!
I loved these observations and was fascinated by them.
What a privilege to see and be part of these moments.
I do not know what career Ivy will eventually have or take but at the moment she is teaching me a lot and reminding me of the heart of my Father and His desire to love and be intimate with His sons and daughters.
I am reminded of the tender and amazing words of the opening chapter of Hosea –
When Israel was only a child, I loved him. I called out, ‘My son! v1
That I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek, that I bent down to feed him. v4the message
These observations and reminders carried on throughout the week and quite frankly made my holiday.
Many lessons were offered and my hope is that I will learn and internalise them!?
Ivy is only 12 weeks old but already I have observed her preferences and a tradition developing.
Ivy does not like to be held on your knee but desires, quite strongly via her vocal chords to be up and looking around. She communicates to you that she wants you to stand!
Once there her eyes are darting around and her shutter speed is amazing, as she captures info!
It was just brilliant and I find her sense of wonder absolutely beautiful and it wells me up.
Why do we seem to lose this?
It was a week of first for her, all of which she took in her stride.
Her first experience of the sub tropical swimming pool was beautiful. She wasn’t amazed or fazed. She, pardon the pun, just soaked it all up. Although at one time her face did seem to be registering why there were so many people in the bath with her!
The first time in the reclining Mamas and Papas part of the push chair and for the first time wearing her excellent ‘Ewok’ coat. She looked amazing and very cosy. This combo led to her having a four hour nap in the day which was another first. In the end mum had to wake her. Another first!
This week of observations, lessons and reminders have led me back to two core scriptures and desires of the Father –
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” 16 God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. Rom 8:15-16 The message
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. 1 Jn 4:16
Bethany and Liam’s spirits wanted Ivy to be reminded of the love they have and feel for her, and for her, through consistent reminders, to know it and rely upon it.
Just as any parent, including God the Father would!
Thanks Ivy for all you have given me this week.
One proud granddad.
One of Satan’s favourite weapons against the masculine soul is intimidation. The sole purpose of intimidation is found within itself – timid.
To overwhelm the masculine soul with a sense of timidity. Of perceiving and feeling the difference within you with regard to who or what you are facing. To stir up feelings of inferiority and inadequacy.
One man who the Father chose to raise, train and discipline was David and he had many opportunities to be intimidated but only once was he defeated by it.
Have you ever had the experience of standing in a crowd as two captains pick their teams. Your hope and prayer is that you’ll be pick first and you won’t be picked last. This was my first major time with the spirit of intimidation.
It’s important to remember that intimidation is a spirit. After all, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Intimidation will come through flesh and blood but its real source is from beyond.
David had a moment when he realised that there’d been a ‘pick a king moment’ and he was not even considered for the short list. A list compiled by his own Father.
How’s that for major league intimidation! Not even your father thinks you have what it takes.
In fairness to Samuel, this was his first time at interviewing for a King. As Jesse brought all his sons, minus David, Samuel said “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands before me?” Father answers his question – Nope. Not him. Not Eliab!
What happened next I am sure put Samuel in a sweat. He watches as all of Jesse’s other sons are paraded and rejected by God. Whoops!
Samuel asks an obvious question – is this all your sons? Jesse’s reply is insightful. There is still the youngest!
The word for youngest is haqqaton, describing not only age but rank. David is the little brother. The last one in the line but according to the mind of the Father, the first and only one on His list to fill the vacancy
I was never chosen first or last, when the captains where making up their minds but I do know what the intimidation of your dad not thinking you have what it takes, feels like.
It casts a long shadow!
From this moment David’s life begins to change and he faces many more intimidating times. When Satan knows that the Father has chosen another son to raise, train and discipline and take their predetermined place within His epic story.
He will try to intimidate the life and potential out of that son, all the way through the journey.
As stated, David had many but his most well-known one was facing the champion of Gath Goliath. Just before David enters the valley and they get into it, Satan attempts three times to intimidate Father’s chosen masculine soul of the moment.
Satan often tries to use those closest to you and he sifts David’s oldest brother Eilab –
“When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”” 1 Samuel 17:28 NIV
Two questions and two statements designed to intimidate David.
I love David’s response: “Now what have I done!” And he turned his back on his brother! David turned his back on both his brother’s opinion.
Coincidentally, what had Eliab been doing for 40 days but watching Goliath and doing nothing! Huh!
Attempt No 2. Saul wants David to look like him from a distance!
Years ago when playing football there were a few lads who had all the gear, even the latest Georgie Best boots with bright red linings. Some of these lads were really good footballs, others were empty shirts!
David was a warrior, he’d been waging war against the bear and the lion, protecting the sheep in his care!
He wasn’t a lookalike he was the real deal!
“David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.” 1 Samuel 17:39 NIV
This is not me and so he took them off!
Another great and prompt response to the spirit of intimidation.
Attempt No 3 Water!
“Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.”
1 Samuel 17:40 NIV
There was a moment, just a moment when David would have caught sight of himself in the reflection of the water of the stream.
He could have paused and thought about who he was and what he was facing. He didn’t. He broke any false reflection of himself, any fear based fiery dart thought by thrusting his hands through and onto his stock choice of weapon – a stone!
It was a moment the enemy could have used to put him in pause.
To get him look at who he was, where he’d come from and what people thought of him.
David’s hand breaks through the water and demolish any attempt at passing on an old reflection.
David was not a captive to his past and its opinions by endless reflection.David was compelled by who his Father was and where he was taking him.
David’s focus was not on who was waiting for him in the valley:Goliath.But who was waiting upon him in the valley His God!
David’s hand broke up the reflection and released the pebble and he knew his God would do the rest.
David knew this public gigantic moment was very similar in kind to his private moments of killing bears and lions.
We need to have private victories that precede and prepare us for public ones!
Intimidation has to be dealt with otherwise our masculine soul stays on the side watching the action and forfeiting the benefits of victory. See 1 Sam 17:25.
“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, so the LORD spread out his wings and took him, he lifted him up on his pinions.” Deuteronomy 32:11 NET
What do you do when the one who has been caring for you, suddenly starts to destroy what you’ve been comfortable in?
Their action produces a force that destroys the comfortable and clears the ledge, which has been home?
The above are the results of the mother eagle ‘encouraging’ her young to leave the nest and ledge and release their potential.
The nest and the ledge have been necessary and important for a season but now it’s time to soar.
This deliberate activity of the eagle is used as an illustration of the Father’s love to His own. Indeed, the sentence structure of the verse indicates ‘habitual or typically behaviour.’
In my local parlance – “Its how He is!”
Typically, Father will at sometime, mess with the nest and clear the ledge, to release the potential that’s dormant!
Desiring to be comfortable is at the core of being human and yet so too is being disturbed and stirred into action! Comfortable is much easier and like anything will become a habit if another option is not chosen.
The only constant for the disciple of The Father, is change!
We are all being change from one degree of glory to the next! 2 Cor 3:18
Are things in our world being stirred?
Are will feeling the ‘draft and down force’ of the Father?
Is the comfortable falling apart?
Are we on the ledge and there’s nowhere to hide?
Father is probably at work and it’s time to take the leap and leave the ledge!
The promise for ‘ledge leapers’ is that He will spread His wings, catch and carry us to the next part of our progress and maturity.
Maybe it’s time to stop flapping about His flapping and take up His offer of a lift!
Question: what was God giving to believers in 1 Pet 5:5-12?
Grace has two equal sides to it: one is unmerited love, the other is unrivalled power.
Father, gives His sons ‘can do power,’ when they humbly admit, they’re in a ‘can’t do situation. See 2 Cor 12:9&10
The key to this ‘can do power’ of grace is humility –“God opposes the proud but gives grace [unrivalled power] to the humble. 1 Pet 5:5.
Like all bullies, intimidation draws a line in the sand and then declares what will happen if you cross it. Like David we need to run towards the line, cross it, sling our stone and let Father do the rest.
“You cannot take ground off the enemy, if he’s got ground in you!”
People approval, fear of failure, confrontation or rejection are classic reasons why people ‘stay in the lights, and the enemy exploits these ‘soul ties!’
A mind that can still think and reason, even under immense pressure.
“Battle lines and shouting is not engagement, run into the valley!”
They were like boys in the playground, standing either side of an imaginary line, shouting and declaring what will happen if you crossed the line and Israel was hoping that no one would!
Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 1 Sam 17:36
David had already experience, in private, the can do power of God and so he puts Goliath on the ‘already been sorted list.’ Now that’s confidence!
Lions intimidate through their roar, bears by standing on their back feet. Goliath was a combination of both and David had been there, done that, and got the tee-shirt!
Mark it down: When you are in a situation that creates fear, but you face it head on, you will feel a rush of satisfaction in knowing you displayed courage.1
Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities…because it is the quality which guarantees all the others.” Winston Churchill
Invitations trigger emotions and require a decision. The Father loves to give invites but they usually come at what we might think are strange times. This pod will shed some light on this Inviting Father!
Borders are a vital dynamic to grasp because the Father who designed and created the masculine heart and soul, will consistently bring us men, His sons, to many border times and crossing over opportunities.
Sir Edmund Hillary made several attempts at climbing Everest before he succeeded. After one attempt he stood at the base of the giant mountain and shook his fist at it –
“I’ll defeat you yet,” he said in defiance. “Because you’re as big as you’re going to get – but I’m still growing
- I’m still growing!
- Question; are we?
Growth can be biological, facial, to do with abs and stomachs. We can grow in confidence, knowledge, skills, learning. We can grow a life, friendship, business, a marriage.
We all grow something, which grows or hinders everything else – habits!
- From everything Father has given life to, He expects growth. See Luke 13:6-9
- To recieve life and not grow is a ‘creation violation.’
- The Divine Manufacture sees growth not as an optional extra but fitted as standard!
- It’s in there and he expects us to utilise it.
To utilise means we make use of, or harness what’s there, we proactively make the decision to apply what is at our disposal and kick start the growth process.
In Luke 13:6-9 the Father, pictured as the vineyard owner, gives us the ‘heads up’ on the growth process –
- Proven material
- Time & Expectation
The Father is described as a vineyard owner, one who is looking for an end result from the investment of His time, resources and effort. These three energies and abilities, that we all have, are the ‘Growth Trinity!’ When these three are combined we release a strength that is not easily broken. See Ecclesiastes 4:12.
- All investments yield a return
- So, what are we investing our time, resources & efforts on or towards?
- Do we need to cash some investments in because they are hindering our growth?
The vineyard owning Father is not happy; in fact He has had enough. He is fed up of not seeing any growth on the plant that He owns and has been literally pouring His resources into for the last three years!
- Are there key people around us who are a little exasperated with our lack of growth?
- Are we exasperated with another’s lack of growth?
- Are we personally fed up with an unproductive area of our lives?
The vineyard owner is in evaluation mode and after His appraisal; He decides on a course of action and sets a time frame.
- If we don’t evaluate we will stagnate
- Stagnant places always yield results
This is real bottom line thinking from Jesus, about His Father and it may be a disturbing picture but it underlines the value and priority Father places on growth.
Winners never quit and quitters never win is simply not true. If we are to win through to growth, to feel the tape across our chest, we are going to have to quit some stuff. The manager of the vineyard implements a plan and the first part is Removal! He digs around the base, agitates and disturbs the soil and this is the preparation for the next stage which is application!
- What has accumulated in our minds and hearts that might need to be removed?
- Does the thought of change, produce agitation in us?
- If so, it might be a sign of the Father’s ‘Divine Fork’ going in!
Doing the same things but expecting different results is quit frankly; barmy! To grow we need to remove stuff – thoughts, attitudes, perspectives, habits!
We need to make room for some fertilizer!
The word is dunged. Nice! The Father will use even unsightly and smelly stuff, to bring enrichment to our lives, these are usually problems. Problems and potential are partners that many misunderstand and yet problems can be the ‘fertiliser’ that can kick start new growth and fruit.
Fertiliser can also be ‘proven material.’ The Father has helped many to grow before us and these growers have left insights and wisdom: proven material, for us to learn from. Wisdom is released when knowledge and learning are applied in given contexts. Father’s wisdom ‘calls out and raises her voice’ in some vital areas of the journey of life – heights, crossroads, entrances. Proverbs 8:1-3
If we are taking steps one through three then we will arrive at four – time and expectation!
Growth takes time and if we are implementing the growth trinity, then we should expect results because we have triggered a due process, which will lead to a due season of new growth and fruit. The Father who has set in place the process of growth has also determined the time of the harvest.
All the time we are waiting we should continually expect results, harvest, and fruit!
We can keep growing or we can remain the same, these are the choices available to us, and both can become habits.
Sir Edmund kept growing; eventually reaching his summit and conquering his Everest.
I don’t know what you might be facing or how mountainous it may seem but can I encourage you to keep growing, remove from your thinking what is hindering growth, apply proven material, give yourself time, whilst expecting the harvest you are cultivating.
Love and respect to all who are struggling and growing!