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Benefits & Battles! Ps 112

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.
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 –

  1. fear which is a spirit, trying to gain access to our hearts through bad news!
  2. Steadfastness is the barrier to fear entering in.
  3. Steadfastness is rooted in trust
  4. Steadfastness is also attached & supported by an inner heart security
  5. 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

 

 

 

 

Masculinity P2

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Masculinity P1

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Flapping Heck!

“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!

Unconscious Competence!

Unconscious Competence!

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.

 

 

twitter-new-year-resolutionsWe are in that blessed month where the emphasis is on making ‘new resolutions!’   To activate in a positive way our resolve and use it on something that will add value to our lives.
There has grown a multi- billion pound industry around the big five Jan resolutions: more exercise, lose weight, improve diet, save more & pursue career ambition! (courtesy of Nat west via recent email!).  The bombardment on our minds and hearts, is staggering and along with this systemic barrage , there is a subtle strategy: to remind and to prompt!
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!

The purpose of this blog is not to encourage you to make a new year’s resolution but to break one and to use a Father given product that will bring instant weight loss, fresh energy to our bodies and much needed peace to our minds and hearts and lead to better and deeper sleep!
What is this Father given product?  Grace.
the-grace-card.001Grace is the unique product of Christianity and yet many Christians know grace but struggle to live in and from this truly liberating truth and reality.  Grace is our USP (unique selling point) no one else has it and it still saddens me, that it has taken me years to get into the ‘now grace zone,’ but now I am here, I am not leaving!
The realities of Father’s grace are wide and varied, and  affect every aspect of what makes us human and empowers every ability we have been given.  Although grace is a massive subject, not one I ‘ll try to cover here, there’s an aspect of grace that is really vital to experience, in the midst of the bombardment of the ‘remind and prompt month,’ –
      grace keeps no record of wrongs! 1 Cor 13:5
files
Grace erasers from its memory, those times we know we have fallen short of His and our standards, and we have asked for forgiveness.  The question is have we forgotten and have others?
I have conducted hundreds of funerals and experience grief up close and personal and I have learnt many things, one that’s in the top three, is the place and power of memories. In the context of bereavement memories become a  gift and a curse.  A gift because of what has been but a curse because of what would have been!
Within every memory is energy,  a power that can, will and does moves us!
The problem is some memories are toxic and are slowly draining the life, energy, sleep and hope out of us!   So, in this reminding and prompting month, is it time to stop re-visiting a memory that weighs you down, condemns you and has frozen your potential and abilities?
Shame, Guilt and Regret are all weights Father never created us to lift, hold, carry or rep with.
These weights are not putting muscle on us, quite the opposite, they are sapping our strengths: physical, emotional, volitional, psychological, seeking to eradicate any and all sense of hope.
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!
We may lose weight, improve our diet, exercise more, save more, change jobs but still carry around inside a weight which nothing seems to shift.  Grace will shift it and that’s when we’ll experience instant weight loss, energy gain and better and deeper sleep.
Forgiving others is not easy!
Neither is forgiving ourselves!
Both, said Jesus,  are necessary because both release us from a yoke and burden that we were never meant to carry!
One purpose of a yoke was to tie the inexperienced ox to an experienced one, so it could learn, grow and develop its potential, capacity and skill.
jesus
  He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Ish 53:3  
Jesus has experienced all that life and men can throw at us!
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted. v4 
Took up: a massive Hebrew thought – remove and utterly destroy!
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed. 5
Wounds: internal, that is bruises & external, that is blows; are both  healed by and through His blood on the cross!
Peace has been made available by grace, all that remains is a choice.
Do I want His peace?  Will I yoke myself to this ‘experienced’ Jesus?
Some memories are devastating, despicable, depressing and yet even into these, He longs to bring His peace and one day also, His justice.
May 2016 be a ‘weight loss’ year!

2p’s + 2f’s = w!

The opposite of focus is distraction.
focus
At the heart of focus is centering our attention on an interest or activity.  Pay attention, be attentive are mentioned 84 times in the Bible.
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.  F
These two words and their dynamics, leapt out from the pages of a book I am reading about expectation.  Here’s the full quote –
 “His personality began to focus, his powers to fuse.” 1
These two p words; personality and powers, needed the two f words, focus and fuse.  All that was left after combining personality,all that I am, with all the abilities I have been given: powers; was the discipline of concentration and application.
The Bible has one word  for this: wholehearted!
If I am to achieve the desires of the Father, see them realised and become realities in the earth, I have to become wholehearted.  I have to give all of me, to the thought through process  He has put in place.  When Jesus was asked by His disciples how to pray, He gave the team a formula; the Lord’s Prayer and in so doing defined the primary request of our prayers – your kingdom come in earth as it is in heaven.
The realities, resources and reign of God, entering and transforming our ‘earthly contexts.’
We are the channels He has chosen, through which His rule, resources and realities, are released into the earth. And wholeheartedness, which is essential to all achieving,  is what is needed, if we are to see and experience the  3R’d of the kingdom of God!
It is the committed and wholehearted, who are changing the world, whether they are doing it for good or bad!
earth
Many years ago an apprentice trapeze artist found himself looking across at the swinging trapeze he had to catch.  The trouble was, he had to let go of the one he was holding!  His teacher shouted some advice –
“Throw your heart over the bar, the rest will of you will follow!”
The teacher was saying – be wholehearted, put your heart into it, otherwise you will not achieve it!  How many times have we known that our hearts have not really been into what our time and hands have given themselves to.  Frankly, there’s nothing more frustrating than being with someone whose heart is not into the task!
wooden_ring_trapeze_plastic_rings-2
Wholeheartedness can reveal itself in many ways: drivenness, passion, intensity, confidence, surety, enthusiasm.   In England these traits are often looked on with suspicion; the stuff of the overly emotional but wholeheartedness is about passions and powers being directed to a single point, through the individuals personality.
Wholehearted people do move us because there’s an electricity, an energy to them, therefore we should expect to be jolted!
One of the difficulties with wholeheartedness is the matter of what that particular heart is after.  What it desires. What has it set its heart on?
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!
This verse also reminds the reader that being zealous, which is not viewed as being positive culturally, needs to be a lifestyle choice, not a decision when certain people are around, who we’re seeking to impress!
The Father has placed within His sons and daughters hearts, His desires and He longs for us to known them and become wholehearted about and towards them.  This is strong but Father hates indifference, in all its forms!  Jesus said I’d rather you be cold than lukewarm.  See Rev 3:16
toxicsign
Father designed us to live wholeheartedly, for a good purpose He’s created and prepared for us, and living wholeheartedly is far better than being indifferent.  That’s a real slow killer!
So we need to know what He wants us to give ourselves to.  Ask Him and also listen to what makes you come alive and what makes you angry because His potential within us is meant to solve a problem we keep encountering also bring us pleasure. After all, we are called according to His pleasure and His will. Eph 1:5
Then we make the decision to focus and fuse our personality and powers on that which He is revealing to us.  We then have to change ourselves accordingly, which may include developing dormant skills within us and then live by faith and expectancy, that His empowering grace is going to get the job done through you.  Expect. Expect. Expect.
Then to paraphrase Vincent Peale, we need say these truths out loud everyday and throughout the day,  and also meditate them into our hearts   –
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
1&2 Power of positive thinking pgs 94 &109
pg 94 The power of positive thinking Norman Vincent Peale.
pg 104 The power of positive thinking Norman Vincent Peale.

Road work!

Champions aren’t made in the ring, they are merely recognized there. What you cheat on in the early light of morning will show up in the ring under the bright lights.  Joe Frazier Joe-Frazier-007
The ring is the potential place of the reward, it is also the place that reveals our rituals.  It is the moment that will uncover how we have used our ‘daily moments!’
Without a commitment to rituals, there can be no rewards.
road
There’s always a road that leads to the ring, and it is our commitment to our road work, that prepares us for the ring and positions us for victory in the ring.
The ring here can be literal or it can represent a task, job challenge, character issue, a marriage, business, concept, an issue of justice or a humanitarian undertaking.   The fight has to be prepared for and road work, daily rituals have to be adhered to.
boxingring
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!’
Every competitor who wants a crown has to come through strict training, whether those crowns are temporal or eternal.   crowns
Can I also just highlight that ultimately we are in competition with ourselves, with the potential that has been given to us and our human nature that dislikes words like everyone, strict and training.
Lining up the road and the ring, the ‘here I am and here’s where I’m heading’ is the first step.  Then we break down what it will take to get us there, and then these become our daily rituals, our non-negotiables; our road work!
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. v 27
 
I have never failure to start anything, knowing where I’d like to be and writing it down, has never really been the issue.  It’s the road work, the preparation that is the problem!
Years ago, Frank Bruno was asked why he ran on Christmas day? 
I want to be the champion!  
Road work takes on that part of us the Bible calls our flesh, which has a core desire; its own way, that reveals itself through wanting comfort and avoiding pain! 
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.
I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave.
This is bottom line thinking: I have to exert strength and power on my body, so that it becomes my slave, that is it obeys where I’ve decided we’re headed.
The Father is not letting anyone, especially His sons and daughters of the need for preparation before they inherit what He has purposed for them.  Whether that be crowns down here or up there!  
He Builds up,  before we enter into the ‘Our time, He has prepared for us.
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
Being built up, comes before the conjunctive; and, which means there is a contractual dynamic to this inheritance, and that is preparation.  There’s an inferred level of maturity that has to be reached before we can have, hold and enjoy what Father has planned 
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  
 
There is a set time, and although this verse is about the Father sending His Son at the right time, it also reveals His desire to give what He has written into His will for our lives, only to those who qualify: the mature.  Children do not make good inheritors because they have a tendency to spend or use, that which has been inherited on themselves.
You do not have because you do not ask God. 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
Is it Father saying; “here you go, have this.” Or is it our ego?   If it is Father, then get ready for some road work, be prepared for daily rituals and each time you do them, hold the reward in your imagination and power through the pain, therein releasing your given potential.   
Father as no favourites.  See Roms  and one truth I glean from this, is that He will treat everyone the same, so all have to undergo training.  All have to do road work. 
For Abraham is was over twenty years
For Joseph around seventeen
For David over twenty
For Mary around sixteen
Even Jesus had around thirty years!
Disciples, ones in the loop, understanding road work!  Like Daniel of old, they add something extra to their daily, to their ordinary, and so they become extraordinary 
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
This extraordinary spirit, the spirit of God, Daniel worked with.  He availed himself of what Father could do through Him, and Daniel daily chose to do more than the status quo, to go beyond the norm.  He understood what was needed; something extra and so he aimed for that and drew on the spirit of God, and  his desire and His power, released wisdom, words and actions, which meant he distinguished himself.  
He outshone the competition! 
Daniel’s covenant with God, I need to tread carefully here, was not as full or as powerful as the one we have, or can have through Christ today.  The power in us, is the same as that exerted to raise Christ!!!
This power is the other side of the grace, which we have been given in Christ but it can lay dormant because we may not be aware that Father wants us to distinguish ourselves and has given us the power to succeed.
Is grace dormant in us?
Is grace buried under the soil of our wrong motives?
what’s our attitude to road work and rituals?
Father has assigned the ring, allocated the rituals and has set the appointed time of our reward!
He gives us grace, His unrivalled power, for each part of His designed process.
It’s not rituals vs rewards but ritual equals rewards!
 

Crossing the line!

It was the second week in theological college and my first proper lecture when, right in the middle of the presentation, I had a tangible experience of intimidation, which came as a series of thoughts.  “I do not understand what the lecturer is saying.” Well say so and ask him to explain it again.”  “No way, everyone in the room will look at me like I’m stupid and be annoyed that I’ve stopped the lecture.”  For what seemed like a life time I battled the contrary thoughts and emotions within me and then my hand just seem to go up in the air.  Clive, the lecture said yes Andy.  I made a joke about speaking in an unknown tongue and his Methodism, and he laughed and covered the material in a way that was more accessible.
hand_raising-193x300
When I entered the student coffee-room I expected some funny looks or some sarcastic comments.  Instead, two fellow students, one older and one younger,  came up and thanked me for sticking my hand up because they were also experiencing confused dot-com!  This learning and intimidation experience was not my first, that happened when I was twelve, and no I did not put up my hand! Now as a thirty year old man it was time to ‘leave childish ways behind,’ and so I put my hand up and removed the ‘line in the sand’ that intimidation had drawn.
line-in-the-sand
Although not all our experiences of being intimidated will have a spiritual cause behind the affect; some will be rooted in the emotions around insecurity, which is the lack of inner self belief.  Nevertheless, we need to be aware that intimidation is a spirit and when this spirit is the cause behind the affect we are experiencing, we need to use the right weapons, and they’re grace and our authority as believers, to bind and loose!
Question: what was God giving to believers in 1 Pet 5:5-12?
The simple answer is grace, which raises another question.  Those being addressed are believers, haven’t they already received grace, to have been defined as believers?  So those who have been ‘graced,’ are being graced again by God!  What’s going on?
Grace has two equal sides to it: one is unmerited love, the other is unrivalled power.
The first puts us in a right state and condition before the  Father, without any reference to our merits or performances, anchored only in the work of Christ.  The second kicks in when we lack the ability, or are faced with spiritual adversaries, like intimidation.
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.
The spirit of intimidation is after something, which it can only get, if it deceives us into a mindset, found embedded in the word intimidation – timid.
Intimidation seeks to convince us that we are not up to the task, that we are small in comparison too, and this should make us afraid to move forward and act.  What intimidation fears, is that we will realise this is a Father given moment, humbly our selves, receive can do power and take the ground the spirit is seeking to hold on to.
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.
stay-out-of-my-territory
It’s always about territory.
As in any war, the ultimate aim is to win hearts and minds, and Our Father and the father of lies, are working to this same objective.   I once read some words many years ago that have served me well –
“You cannot take ground off the enemy, if he’s got ground in you!”
The thought around the word timidity in 2 Timothy 1:7  is that of cowardice, of being in servitude or bondage to fear.
Like rabbits in the headlights, some are struck by fear and just sit there and take it, afraid of what might happen, what people might think and how they will react.
People approval, fear of failure, confrontation or rejection are classic reasons why people ‘stay in the lights, and the enemy exploits these ‘soul ties!’
rabbit-headlights
The Father says that He has given every one of His born again sons the spirit of power, love and a sound mind.
A mind that can still think and reason, even under immense pressure.
The power that formed and placed stars, and raised Jesus from the dead, is with you, within you and for you!   This power can do exceedingly abundantly above all you can imagine or ask.  See Eph 3:19-20
This blog is current for me, I am taking on the spirit of intimidation, and I am not finding it easy at times.  Recently, the Holy Spirit showed me something from the account of David and Goliath, which came as a clear statement –
“Battle lines and shouting is not engagement, run into the valley!” 
 ” Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry.
 
God’s solution, David; arrived as his brothers were entering day 40 of lining up and shouting!  As I hovered over this verse, Father spoke and said this is not engagement, run into the valley and I will sort him and it out!    
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!
In fact there was such reluctance in the Israeli camp that king Saul had to offer a threefold incentive – great wealth, his daughter in marriage and the father and the family of the victory would live tax-free!
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At some point we have to re-new our minds and admit we are just shouting and posing but not engaging.  Then we need to re-position ourselves and with confidence in the can do power of grace, do what David did – run towards the hairy man mountain!  
What I absolutely love (well most of the time, love) about my Father is that he will not test me beyond my ability to endure. See 1 Cor 10:13 and that He arranges prequels on the way to the main event, as He did with David.  
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! 
Why should we take on the spirit of intimidation?
1.  Love won’t allow us to live at this postcode.  Perfect loved drives out fear.  I Jn 4:18
2.  We forfeit our potential and deprive others of its benefits. Jn 17:19
3.  To leave a stronger generational legacy. Cf Judges 1:19 & 4:13 (don’t leave the kids iron chariots)
4.  The sense of deep satisfaction that will flood your masculine heart & soul.
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
1 Ortberg pg 126 if you want to walk on water you’ve got to get out of the boat

Mind Worm!

monkMedieval monks devised poetic ways of talking about issues, and one of these was the ‘Mind Worm!’  This Mind Worm, was used to talk about psychology, issues of the mind.  So what is the Mind Worm?
A creature that had the power to burrow into the mind and come to know an individual thoroughly: their dreams, fears, strengths, weaknesses. It was supposed that this creature also had the power to create events in the world.  Therefore, this Mind Worm could create an event, that was unique to the nature of the individual, and this event would act like a trigger, to an adventure that would bring out the true character of the individual; demanding and stretching them on all levels of what it means to be human.
This Mind Worm concept I came across reading Robert McKee’s excellent book Story, and after his summary of the Mind Worm he made a statement –
The writer is a Mind Worm! Robert McKee 1
This thought immediately connected with a description of Jesus, who’s described as an author.  See Hebs 2:10; 12:2  The main dynamics of the word author in the texts are: one who takes a lead in, or provides the first occasion of, anything. Dynamically it’s speaks of being the source or originating cause
 
The writer, and Jesus as author, understand thoroughly  the mind and the heart of their characters and consequently the event, and events that their character needs to begin and finish their adventure.
In Kingdom of Heaven, Orlando Bloom plays a blacksmith, who is happily married until an unjust event, robs him of his wife. Bloom the blacksmith then makes a choice under  pressure and kills a man.  Then we see him sweat for a few scenes, until a knight played by Liam Neeson shows up.  He announces that he’s Bloom’s father and invites him to join him on a journey to Jerusalem.  Reluctantly, but feeling justice on his collar, Bloom joins his.  kohBloom
This scene, always reminds me of a core dynamic of the gospel or good news: the father inviting us into a journey, an adventure with Him, which He describes as entering and pursuing the kingdom of God!    An event that triggers a process that continually leads to other events, that leads to another process which etc…
An essential and vital  part of this process, written in by the Author,  is pressure.
…saying that through many tribulations [pressure] we must enter the kingdom of God.  ESV  
Two essential dynamics of ‘kingdom maturity,’ are coming under authority and exercising authority and pressure can position us to experience a greater level of ‘ruler ship!’    Pressure and character maturity go hand in hand.  
CHOICE
McKee’s definition of true character is excellent – 
True character can only be expressed through choice in dilemma.” 2
The reason I like McKee’s definition is that it is both true and clarifies the core issue when pressure comes – choice!   This is important because having an experience of pressure does not make you experienced or lead to maturity.  It’s the choice(s) we make, continue to make or defend, within the pressure, that matures us and then we become worthy of the label – experienced!
I do not believe that my Author is always the originating source or cause of the pressure I might experience, however, I do know that He always seek to use pressure for my  transformation and His purposes.  I am learning to develop what I call 50:20 vision, which takes time and effort and was one of the things Joseph matured in.
In Genesis 50:20 hindsight brings real vision:
  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Joseph started out as a ‘cocky kid,’ yet in this verse he’s now a ‘mature prince’ with massive authority and power, facing the people, his own brothers, who started all the pressure! This character as experienced many dilemmas, has struggled, yet has made and defended right choices. Now, at this pivotal ‘arch in the story’ he understands that the Author’s intention all the way through the story, was to transform the one He had chosen, so he would be ready to fulfil the Author’s desire: to keep alive many people, who were to experience famine!
This Author, who is my Author, thoroughly prepares and strategically places His characters, so that they are ready to help those who are on the Author’s heart.  See also the beautiful story of Esther.
I see, believe and follow an Author that gets me, like no other, understand my strengths and weaknesses, and intends to use the first and transform the latter. See Hebs 10:34
He understands that all adventures start with an invitation and as He did many times in the gospels, Jesus stills invites us to follow Him.  Now, it’s my turn and my shift, in this meta narrative of the kingdom of heaven filling the earth and I can learn from those, the Author has thoroughly prepared and strategically placed before.
The event called invitation directly leads to a process called transformation, which needs the dynamic that is confrontation, and so the Author sets up events, to bring out our true character and our dormant potential.  See Philip in John 5:5-15.
In this narrative Jesus deliberately puts Philip in a dilemma and at the end of the test,  even the broken bread and smelly fish pieces are gathered up and used.
My Author, can and does take up the broken and smelly parts of my life, the wrong choices, moments of madness,  and uses them to wise me up and empower me to help others!
Martrix
“The nearest anyone can come to finding himself at any given age is to find a story that somehow tells him about himself!” Norman Maclean. 3
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Have we found that story yet?
Jesus as Author is still looking to cast new characters into His Kingdom of heaven Epic!
Interested?
  1. Story Robert McKee pg 374
  2. McKee pg 375
  3. quoted in The Way of the wild heart John Eldredge pg22