Psalm 112 reveals the benefits of a life that respects and is in awe of Father- God. It also reveals that these benefits are not handed out will-nilly but are the promised consequences of a covenant agreement, entered into by God the Father and His sons and daughters.
The results of respecting and being in awe of Father are what one commentator describes as, “uncommonly profitable,” – uprightness, righteousness, graciousness, compassion, generosity, integrity, steadfastness, benevolence. (the synonyms of these make an inspiring glossary)!
These new attitudes of heart flow down steam into their lives but the individuals consecration also benefits their children – they become influential; mighty in the land, and are empowered to succeed. V2.
As for the individual they prosper – wealth and riches v3, have illumination even in darkness v4, good comes their way v5, they are not shaken v6, they become and remain steadfast and secure v8 and their dignity, symbolised by their horn being lifted up, grows and is acknowledged v 9.
The whole psalm pivots on the understanding the individual holds regarding the word fear. The Psalm seems to have a contradiction within it because it says at the beginning that he, the palmist, fears the Lord and in verses 7&8 it says; he will have no fear?
The fear of vs 7&8 is that classic fear or dread of something bad happening or occurring: Future, Events, Appearing Real! However, in verse one fear is not about dreading or cringing before the Lord but about awe-inspiring respect for who He is and great delight at all He’s said and promised, through His Word!
If we embrace the right kind of fear, as spelt out in verse one and resist the fear of vs 7&8, in all its forms and foes, then all the benefits for us and our children are ours!
This battle is won or lost in the heart which pictures who we be. Who we be, is all about the thoughts we entertain, that become beliefs and the interpretations we make about the experiences we have had. This combination of beliefs and experiences forms who we BE and life begins here and responds accordingly.
The psalmist reveals two attitudes of mind and heart, that have to become daily habits of thought and disciplined responses to all aspects of our life – steadfast and secure!
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes
In simple outline form, we see that –
- fear which is a spirit, trying to gain access to our hearts through bad news!
- Steadfastness is the barrier to fear entering in.
- Steadfastness is rooted in trust
- Steadfastness is also attached & supported by an inner heart security
- In the end, after the season is over (1 Pet 5:10 NKJV) they’ll enjoy the vista called triumph
The battle here is about whose thoughts are authoritative in the individuals heart?
This is a vital dynamic because authority cannot be separated from power. Words contain definition and power and in Hebrew thought and language, thoughts and things share the same word –dabar!
Therefore, as a man thinks in his heart so shall he be. Prov 23:7
Thinks suggests focused thinking, not a passing thought but one consistently visited!
The Holy Spirit, speaking through the psalmist is alerting us to the “battle for the benefits!” To triumph in this battle, securing Father’s benefits for us and our children, we have to consider and answer this vital question –
“Who’s words are authoritative in my life?” Our answer will immediately reveal the power we believe IS available to us, for us and toward the issues within our lives and context.
From the outset, Satan went after the benefits the father had given Adam and Eve -the authority they had over the earth and as a consequence the power that came with it, by using words and presenting thoughts, to their hearts and minds! It is still his number one method.
Steadfast speaks of being erect, firm, stable & established. So, my question is established, stable, firm and erect in what? Secures pictures something being propped up, reinforced or strengthen. Again, I ask the question by what?
The answer is words. His Word.
The battle is over words and who’s are authoritative in our hearts and minds, and therefore in our life and issues!
These authoritative words are our anchor, and Jesus said that the storms of life will come and the house, depicting a life, that stands and remains is the one who hears and practices His Words! Matt 7:24-27. Jesus teaching in a word – anchorage! Cf Eph 3:17; Col 1:23 & Hebs 6:19&20
The benefits are free, already given and part of our inheritance, and yet, there is a price to pay which is the discipline of anchoring ourselves in the Word, Jesus. And in the Words of God which are established in the heavens and are eternal. Ps 119:89
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!
“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!
In my last blog (18/8/16) I shared some thoughts about unconscious incompetence.
The dynamic of not knowing that we don’t know what we need to know as men.
Our Father loves to bring His life and fill those spaces that are empty.
Today’s blog is a reflection about one man, who one day was led into a sacred space and divine appointment by Jesus.
His teacher was trying to make him aware of the competency that was already in him, which would fill the space and meet the need which was coming over the horizon.
That man was Philip. That day is found in John 6:5-13
As a disciple, a man within His team, Philip had the mandate and the designated power to ‘fill the earth.’ Cf See Gen 1:28 & Eph 1:23
Jesus was intentionally training His men to do what He’d been doing and do greater things. Jn 14:12
This particularly day Jesus saw the need before Philip and He turns and asks Philip, there were other team players there, a direct question.
Teachers and questions are historically almost negative for me.
What is it about being put on the spot by being asked a question?
This is one of the uncomfortable sides of Jesus but a side I now expect and am learning to love.
Here’s my paraphrase of that event (Jn 6:5) – Jesus saw on the horizon a pressing need; hungry people. “I can and will feed them, yet I need to train the lads because when I go back they’ll have to do what I’ve been doing. Who’s ready for this test, this pressure? Phil!
Turn up the heat, apply great pressure are the dynamics of the word test.
Jesus intentionally puts His friend and team mate in the zone, and He makes no apology for it!
The words of the late Myles Munroe are very insightful –
“Potential is determined and revealed by the demands placed on it by its creator.” Myles Munroe
Jesus puts Philip in an exacting place and a sacred space, for the sole purpose of bringing out what’s dormant: the power to fill the space and meet the need!
Some time back, during an intense time, I asked the Father want was going on and He said this-
Exacting places; are extracting places!
- Exacting – trying or unremittingly severe in making demands.
- Extracting – to draw out, withdraw.
I came to realise that the problem I was facing and the pressure I was under, were designed and factored in by Father. Through me, He would fill the space, meet the need and relieve the problem!
The problem was, I didn’t know what He’d put in me and how it related to what I was facing.
I was unconsciously competent!
This problem in me needed to be addressed before the external problem could be properly faced and solved.
Are we under pressure?
Is a problem coming over or covering the landscape of our life?
Perhaps these are designed and factored in by your Father?
Is He trying to get us to realise what we’ve been given, so we can release it?
Pressure is essential for muscle growth.
Is He asking us to wake up and grow a latent ability, gift or skill?
Willing us to pick up the bar, start to rep and produce?
Unless we realise, become consciously competent, we cannot release and we and others will miss out.
To remind us of those moments we could of and should of said no, and to prompt us to use this word no, more often this year!
Culturally, January is the reminding and prompting month and by the end of it, here in England at least, we’ve had enough! Along with the reminders and prompts are the necessary products we will need to remind us of what it is we say we want, and to help us achieve our goal!
What is this Father given product? Grace.
grace keeps no record of wrongs! 1 Cor 13:5
Within every memory is energy, a power that can, will and does moves us!
Shame, Guilt and Regret are all weights Father never created us to lift, hold, carry or rep with.
Guilt says I did something wrong. Shame says I am wrong. Grace is the answer to both!
Grace makes us both deserving and worth at the same time! Still find this mind blowing. What a product and it’s free!
Forgiving others is not easy!Neither is forgiving ourselves!
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
Jesus has experienced all that life and men can throw at us!
and bore our suffering,
Took up: a massive Hebrew thought – remove and utterly destroy!
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
Wounds: internal, that is bruises & external, that is blows; are both healed by and through His blood on the cross!
Some memories are devastating, despicable, depressing and yet even into these, He longs to bring His peace and one day also, His justice.
The opposite of focus is distraction.
To blend or amalgamate into a whole, through heat. Central to fusing is intensity, which is about concentration and application, all directed to a single point.
“His personality began to focus, his powers to fuse.” 1
The Bible has one word for this: wholehearted!
The realities, resources and reign of God, entering and transforming our ‘earthly contexts.’
It is the committed and wholehearted, who are changing the world, whether they are doing it for good or bad!
“Throw your heart over the bar, the rest will of you will follow!”
It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. Gal 4:18
Is what we desire from our ego, or is it Father saying “here you go!” I want you to have this or do this for me!
I believe that God gives me the power to attain what He’s brought to my heart and mind. I expect the best and with God’s help I will attain the best! 2
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever. 1 Cor 9:25
Don’t you just hate the word ‘everyone!’
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. v 27
I want to be the champion!
No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
A walker as he entered a new village asked a question of an old man leaning on the village sign: “Any great people been born here? Nope, said the old man. Only babies!!!
‘Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:32
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is under age, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. Gal 4:1
You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:2a-3
For Abraham is was over twenty yearsFor Joseph around seventeenFor David over twentyFor Mary around sixteenEven Jesus had around thirty years!
Daniel outshone all the ministers and satraps because an extraordinary spirit was in him, and the king considered setting him over the entire kingdom. Dan 6:3 NASB
He outshone the competition!
Is grace dormant in us?Is grace buried under the soil of our wrong motives?what’s our attitude to road work and rituals?
It’s not rituals vs rewards but ritual equals rewards!
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