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.
Abu el Banat
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.
David was honoured for his decision to allow God to search and try his heart, even when the going got rough and David went walkabout! His son would learn, in some way, from his father’s struggles with his heart and would come to this understanding –
“above all else, guard your heart. Prov 4:23
The state and condition of the heart cannot be separated from the state and condition of our lives, after all, the reason Solomon and the Holy Spirit were so adamant about guarding our hearts is this: that’s where the issues of life spring from. Prov 4:23. This final blog on God as a committed and highly proficient cardiologist, concerns guarding against developing a double heart Ps 12:2 and an unbelieving heart Hebs 3:12
A Double Heart. Ps 12:2
The word double here literally translates as ‘a heart and a heart!’ What David has learnt from his experiences with Saul and his own son Absalom, he pens here. His hard-learnt advice is – watch out for deceiving and flattering words because they reveal a double heart. Saul used lies and deception in his attack against David and David’s son used flattery to influence people against his father. A heart and a heart, a double heart, speaks of a person who is saying one thing but internally they hold an entirely different sentiment or attitude. See Prov 23:7
A prime example of this is reality TV!
Seven Psalms later David would write these words – may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Ps 19:14
may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Ps 19:14
Contemporary words for this double heart condition would be incongruence or lack of integrity.
An Unbelieving Heart. Hebs 3:12
Context is king, and the context of Hebrews 3 is important to what an unbelieving heart is, and it is all about not responding in faith!
Hebrews 3 is a summary of servants who hear the Holy Spirit speaking and, act accordingly in faith and accomplish what the Father is commanding. The servants in this chapter are Jesus vs 1-6, Moses vs 3-5, the Founding Father’s generation vs 8-11 and the present generation of covenant servants! Vs 12-19
The overarching narrative of God to all these servants has three parts to it – out of Egypt, through the wilderness and into the promised land and the umbrella word for this in the New Testament is salvation. At the core of this epic journey is the leadership of the Holy Spirit, seen through the pillar of fire and cloud, the ark of the covenant and leaders!
In this summary chapter of their Exodus journey the Holy Spirit speaks and some of the servants are described as having an evil unbelieving heart which one commentator describes as a ‘lack of confidence in God!’ Review the Exodus generation’s journey and you’ll see that God asks some pretty big stuff of them but always He backs it up with a re-occurring promise –
“I will be with you! The classic example is the twelve spies. See Numbers 13.
The journey of salvation always includes crossing boundaries or borders! When the people of God left Egypt, it is implied that they are headed to another boundary or border. At these border crossings, there are attended guards – fear and discouragement. See Joshua 1:8&9. All God asks is that we trust Him and enter in, no matter what or whom might be in the way. Ten spies gripped by fear and having no confidence in God’s promise shrank back and spread their contagion throughout their tents. See Number 13:31-33
Only Caleb and Joshua had a believing heart, and they and their kin went and saw the provision of God in the next part of their salvation journey. David understood that he would face border and crossing-over opportunities –
“the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Ps 16:6
So, lets us continually guard our heart, so we are ready for those boundaries, crossing over moments and, to especially guard them if we successfully negotiate the crossing over point! Read Deut 8
A pathological and extremely efficient cardiologist, is my working definition of God my Father, as a heart expert! His words to Samuel when Samuel was discerning which one of the seven sons who stood before him was the new king are a helpful reminder –
“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Sam 16:7
Eliab, was the eldest of the seven and Samuel when he saw him, made a decision – surely the Lord’s anointed stands before me!
Samuel saw but God looked and Eliab was not the one.
Fast forward a few years to the encounter with Goliath, the man mountain and Eliab and David’s other brothers would stand frozen for forty days and nights before Goliath’s challenge.
The day David arrived, he went out to meet Goliath. God saw the difference and chose David.
It’s worth remembering that the challenge of Goliath was for everyone and everything, because all the people, their land, houses and goods, would be to be given to the victorious one and vice versa.
David’s answer to Saul gives us a real insight into what is the opposite of a hard or a cold heart – “your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep…1 Sam 17:34. David had a sense, to be more precise, he was sensitive to the prompts of the Spirit of Almighty God. He knew that today, as he delivered the cheese butties, was going to be a life-changing day!
A hard heart, as described in Proverbs 28:14 and a cold heart, as described in Revelation 3:15 are about love for God and His purposes. In both of these verses, the love of the servant is under attack from outside forces, who are seeking to stop the servant from taking action, prompted by love and supported by faith, so that Father’s kingdom would come.
David’s heart was not perfect but it was maturing and central to this maturity is an attitude David adopted throughout his life which he wrote about in Ps 37:4 –
“delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
The word David and the Spirit chose for delight means to live tenderly and delicately at heart, to be sensitive at the core of our being to His love – delight yourself in the Lord. Our being should have its being and becoming in His love, His friendship, His purposes. The Father and His ways should be our greatest desire and from this starting point, He will give us the desires of our heart, that He has placed there!
An illustration might help us – being and remaining like putty in His hand. Pliable and responsive is the baseline and our Father who is a master potter will push and work, at our pliable heart level to form and mould us, ready for the purposes He has already prepared ahead of time for us. Eph 2:10
Hard and cold putty is anything but pliable and as a result, it becomes unworkable.
So, what can we do to remain pliable at heart and avoid the state of being unworkable?
- Adopt David’s attitude & approach – “Search me O God, & know my heart
- Know that His adoptive love already accepted & approves of in Christ.
- The primary role of the Holy Spirit, is to testify WE ARE HIS!!!1
- His agenda is that His perfect love would drive out fear within our hearts
- Fear keeps us in, holds us back and stops us taking on our Goliath
- Worship and Word, keep us pliable at heart.
- Worship gets us of ourselves and over ourselves
- His Word gives us the insight into the height & depth & the width & length of His love
- His Word reveals how we can serve Him & obedience to His Word shows our love for Him
The final action is taking action, as He prompts us, towards the people and purposes He has in his heart and mind.
I began this mini-series on the heart by describing God the Father as a committed, efficient and expert cardiologist, knowing the structure, functions and disorders of the heart. I highlighted King David’s heart attitude, towards the heart, summarised in the words of Ps 139 v 23 – “search me O God and know my heart.” God answered David’s prayer many times and at different seasons throughout his life. David is the only one the Father said these words about –
“a man after my own heart, who will do my will.”
Whatever feedback God gave to David about the state and condition of his heart, David responded accordingly and stayed after the heart of God. The Scriptures reveal six disorders of the heart and in this blog, we’ll look at having an unclean heart Ps 51:10 and a proud heart Prov 21:4.
Unclean heart. Ps 51:10
Context is king and so it’s important to get some knowledge of what has gone on, to understanding why David is making this request of God – create in me a clean heart.
Clearly, David is describing his heart in this moment as being unclean. Psalm 51 is David’s response to Nathan the prophet’s delivery of a story, who’s punchline convicts David of his sins with and surrounding Bathsheba – disobedience, lust, adultery, murder, pride!
The word clean primarily relates to animals being ‘clean; for sacrifice but it also describes being morally clean i.e. free from guilt! However, although David is asking God to forgive his actions, those times when he missed the mark, he is also asking for a deeper, more profound work to take place with his heart. David’s uses create, bara, in Hebrew which always refers to God creating, as in Gen 1:1.
David realises that the source of his sins, his actions, was his heart and if someone did not create a new clean heart within him, history would repeat itself. He came to the truth that his heart had a disorder and only He who created Him had the power to change his heart within him. David is asking for a re-creative work within his heart, he’s asking for God to re-incline his heart.
Not a re-set of his heart but to utterly re-calibrate it! To create within him new desires, new focuses, new priorities.
David came to understand, and we must too, if we haven’t already that ALL of life’s issues spring from the heart. Prov 4:23. David was not just asking for water to cleanse him outwardly, but that the spring that flowed from his heart would be completely re-directed and re-coursed!
God loved David’s response, answered his prayer and changed the course of the reminder of his life. He’ll will change the course of our lives too, if we have the same attitude and approach to our hearts as David did!
Proud Heart. Prov 21:4
The entrances to the heart are our ears, eyes and words, Prov 4:20-25 and here in 21:4 the eyes and the heart are intrinsically linked and as one commentator puts it – “the former [haughty eyes} are a sign of the latter [proud heart]. The word proud literally means broad or wide.
I like the Targum’s paraphrase – ‘the swelling of the heart!’
I am sure we’ve heard the phrase – their eyes are bigger than their belly!’ The life in Prov 21:4 has eyes and a heart that are synched at the setting – ‘swelled up opinion of themselves’ with respect to others. Synonyms would be conceited, arrogant, superior and vain. In the New Testament this proud, swelled up opinionated heart is revealed in the Pharisee and the tax-collector parable –
He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’ 13 “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’ 14 Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” Lk 18:10-14
God has said that any life that has a proud, swelling heart, He will not endure and actively oppose! Cf Ps 101:5 & I Pet 5:5
God as cardiologist, is pathologically committed to the transformation of our hearts, by revealing to us the state and condition of our hearts, so that the change and transformation we long to see in our lives can be realised.
Years ago, an entire village in the Himalayas went down with sickness and diarrhoea, except one elder and no one could figure out the problem. This wise elder left the village and began to climb the mountain, to the bewilderment of the villagers. Eventually, he reached his destination – a spring, that was the source of the river than ran through the village. There he saw that a sheep had fallen into the mouth of the spring and died and its decomposing body was releasing bacteria that were flowing into the village. He removed the carcass and within a day, the sickness and diarrhoea disappeared from the village.
Keep vigilant watch over your hearts; that’s where life starts. Prov 4:23 The Message
The spring that is the source of all the issues of our life, is in the heart and whatever state that spring is in, is determining the flow downstream and out into our lives and contexts.
An unclean or proud heart, like the dead sheep, will affect the downstream of our lives and contexts!
Cardiology is the medical study of the structure, function and disorders of the heart. In this mini-series of four blogs I want to share some thoughts around the importance of the heart, as revealed in scripture. The state of our hearts, is right up there as a subject matter to our Father, in fact it is His number one subject – above all else, guard your heart! Prov 4:23.
God the Father is a committed and highly proficient cardiologist!
The heart has the ability to have affections, to think, to guide and set our life’s boundaries. It also has an overflow; the mouth which in turn has the power of life and death attached to it, namely the tongue.
The heart is so strategic to all of life, we are commanded to guard it, (Prov 4:23) as if it contained the crown jewels. The thought behind the word is to show vigilance more than over anything else we have or own. One commentator refers to it as the master-controller!
One man in Scripture understood this and that was David. He was after all, described as a man after God’s own heart! Acts 13:22. This king, warrior and minstrel penned these words –
“search me O God and know my heart…Ps 139:23”
David had the confidence, prior to Christ and Calvary’s grace, to ask God to know his heart. This is high level trust and a little risky but is the kind of prayer Father loves and will answer. David was asking His God and creator to know his heart through observing, experiencing and reflecting. All of these are the core dynamics of what the word know depicts. David was also saying “let me in,” on your observations, experiences and reflections.
For David, there were two aspects of his heart that he wanted His Father’s feedback on – the thoughts and the ways within his heart and that through these reflections Father would lead him in the way everlasting. This word everlasting means the old path and is made of two words that differ slightly. One means the right way, the way a man should go and the other, the way a man goes by habit. David’s son would learn this from his father and his own experiences –
“there is a way that seems right to man but its end is the way of death. “Prov 16:25
Here’s my attempt at paraphrasing David’s request from within this verse Ps 139:23
“I want you God to test through observation and experiences the thoughts and ways within my heart and reflect back to me, any habits that are not leading me in the well-established path of life which is Your desire for me!”
David’s prayer would be answered, numerous times and some of these were not good feedback but every time God spoke into David’s life about the state and condition of his heart, David responded with humility, transparency and faith! It is for this reason I believe God defined David as a man after my own heart, who will do my will.
David was far from perfect, however, he always, apart from sixteen months of complete madness, went after and stayed after God’s heart! Like David I have prayed his prayer and invited God to search and try my heart and give me feedback because I want what David had and I can only have that, if I do what he did!
God is a proficient cardiologist understanding the hearts structure and function like no other, he designed it but He also knows the disorders of the heart and these fall into six categories –
- unclean heart Ps 51:10
- proud heart Prov 21:4
- hard heart Prov 28:14
- cold heart Matt 24:12
- double heart Ps 12:2
- unbelieving heart Heb 3:12
The beginning of the answer to that part of us described as deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jer 17:9 NIV Is to humble asks God to do in us what He did in David – search me and try me and give me feedback!
The next three blogs I’ll take two disorders from the list and share some thoughts.
‘No pain. No Gain.’ Is simply not true! Many times, in my personal life and pastoral ministry I have experience and seen pain, that has not led to gain. This is in part due to the deception called event-mindedness which says that just experiencing pressure and pain will lead to gain. It will not!
Some learnt wisdom from Arnie –
“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll go through the pain no matter what happens.” Arnold Schwarzenegger
“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow,” Boom!
It’s not just experiencing the pain that leads to gain, it is what we do within the pain, that leads to growth. Not just physical muscle but mental, emotional and spiritual muscle. As we push, rep-eatedly, against the weight we submit to a process and resist the cry of our emotions to quit and go back to comfort!
The word for suffering in Roms 5:3 is pressure and the writer says that pressure produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope, which does not disappoint because it is attached to the love Father has already poured into our hearts, who we be! On the surface, this scripture seems to support event-mindedness. However, the best interpreter of scripture is scripture. So, let’s bring James 1:2-4 alongside, to build the complete thought –
“consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials [pressure] of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Because you know that testing [pressure] develops perseverance! Do we know this? As a revelation and a principle, do we get this? These verses are a great synopsis of what an event leads to, which is always an invitation to work a process. So, the pressure comes [event] and we have an opportunity to develop [process word] perseverance. We take this invite and our first event of preserving, begins the much-needed process of becoming mature and complete.
No pain. No Gain, is a deception, mostly borne out of our emotions which are kick in when the going gets tough.
What if the Father has designed events that will trigger a much-needed process, so that our potential grows and meets the demand we are facing. The bridge between our potential and the problem is called pressure. What we do, rep-peatedly in this pressure is who we become!
“Because we know that…….
Perhaps, some of the pain and the pressure we are experiencing at the moment, has been purposely factored in by the Father? Maybe, this is His version of gym time? A divinely inspired opportunity to enter that area of pain that will develop us into champions?
All I know is this – life will bring pressure! Jesus, who I trust the most said so –
“In this world, you will have trouble [word is pressure] but take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33
There are two emphatics in this verse: you will have and I have overcome! And there is one command: take heart which to paraphrase means locate and lock onto your courage. Courage is acting in the face of fear. Jesus is asking us for something in the face of fear; to be courageous and act! Not turn and run! For those who stay and face the pressure, He promises overcoming power. Cf Roms 8:37; Eph 6:10 & Phil 4:13
I am learning to use, and I’m enjoying, lose weights in my home gym. But one of the vital lessons is knowing the signs when you are in that area of pain where if I push through and do two more reps, I will gain what I set out to do: develop muscle and strength.
I am not there yet – turning my bay window [stomach] into Baywatch!
But I am on the bridge called pressure and I know what to do and what lies ahead is a ‘enduring walk of faith’ and I will inherit what’s on the other side of the bridge. See Hebs 6:12
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!