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Masculinity P4 

Navigate, Engage, Empower and now finally, the fourth ability of the MH&S – Sacrifice.

Although last in sense of these blogs, this dynamic is at the heart of what it means to be a man made in Father’s image.  At its core, Biblical masculinity reveals a Father who sends His Only Son and a Son who lays down His life, to accomplish His Father’s greatest desire: that His estranged sons and daughters would come home.

Sacrifice has two key components to it – value and cost.

Cost is what the one making the sacrifice is prepared to pay because of the value they see in the one they are sacrificing for or toward.

God so loved, He gave…. Jn 3:16

For the joy set before Him, He endure the cross. Cf Hebs 2:10 & 12:2

What we value, we sacrifice for.  Therefore, we can locate what we value by following the trail of our sacrifice.  Biblical masculinity understands the need to value and to sacrifice and how these interact with it other, and the benefits sacrifice can and does release.

So how does sacrifice fit in with the other abilities of the MH&S? It costs you to walk the terrain and produce the map.  To engage you have to disengage first! This too, is the language of sacrifice.  So where does empowerment fit into these?

The law of combination states that when two elements are combined they release a compound, that is energy.  As we as men, take our navigation experiences and combine them with engaging with those we love and value, power is released.

We put something on or in, those we value.

Sacrifice like maturity, is in the minority.

There’s far too much selfishness around.  In fact, there is a dangerous cocktail within society today: boys in men’s bodies in relationship with girls with too much princess syndrome.   The combinational out working of these is often not pretty!

Time and money are real treasures and Jesus said where our treasures are so too is our hearts!   Evaluating what we spend our time and money on, will reveal what we truly value and therein love.

Maybe this evaluation will lead to a life transforming revelation: the need to re-distribute and reallocate our ability to sacrifice.  To give more time and spend less elsewhere or to spend less money and to sacrificially invest more into those things that move Father’s heart – Ps 68:5&6

  • A father to the fatherless
  • A defender of widows
  • Setting the lonely in families
  • Leading prisoners out with singing

 

Masculinity P3

The thought underpinning these blogs about the masculine heart and soul is this –

God did not create humans.

This is a label attached by man to categorise and generalise.   God intentionally created and uniquely designed a masculine and feminine heart and soul.

One of the biggest problems and frustrations in men and women, regarding masculinity, is how we both perceive what is a man.    After years of banging my head against the wall, I have changed my starting point, my perception of masculinity.  This little adjustment has made a massive impact.

I have simply started with how men are by design and not how they should be according to the previous generations, popular culture or the expectations of mums, wives & girlfriends.

It’s not that I am closed to all these voices, rather I want to begin in the beginning and that’s Genesis and use what the father reveals there as a diagnostic tool which I will use to keep the good and ditch the crap!

In my last post, I talked about not sawing against the grain, of not working against oneself, of not getting the most out of your efforts which leads to compromise in productivity.   To not begin at the beginning, may well lead to me sawing against my father given grain.

Sometimes the quickest way to illumination is to use the tool called outline.  So, here’s my outline of the ‘grain of masculinity,’ that father created in the beginning.

  1. Adam, created from the dust of the wilderness, not the soil of Eden. Gen 2:7
  2. Father breathed into Adam, then he became a living being; lit: a speaking spirit!
  3. He then blessed, empowered & equipped his man. Gen 1:28
  4. He mandates his man – BE – fruitful, increase, fill, subdue, rule 1:28
  5. He decisively puts Adam in what He’d already planted – Eden.
  6. Commanded him to work & keep it!

The MH&S was empowered and equipped with authority and power, given a clear place to exercise these gifts, the earth and then the core priorities, that will call out to all he has been pre-loaded with –

  • Barrenness will ask for fruit.
  • What’s empty will need to be filed.
  • Multiplication will be a default setting.

So to achieve and increase is a design requirement, not selfish ambition.

He will be called on to fight and use his God-given fierceness to subdue anything that will come against the beauty God has put him in and commanded him to work and keep. Before all these commands, The Father, blessed or empower the MH&S & the FH&S with everything they’ll need for all He’s asked them to do.

The first MH&S was empowered and then mandated which is so important to grasped.  Another way to put it would be to say, that who he [Adam] be had already been given everything he need to do all he’d been designed and purposed to do! He had the capacity to obey and fulfil the command!

Unlike some earthly fathers, our heavenly Father always includes the batteries [power] to go with the gifts He gives us.

Fast forward and the father of the heavenly lights, who does not change, who gives every good and perfect gift (see James 1!7) provides us with  these verses.  These  remind us that we are thoroughly equipped as men to empower the love ones within our ‘Eden!’

  • Blessed with every spiritual blessing Eph 1:3
  • Abundant grace at all times & in all places 2 Cor 9:8
  • Grace [love AND power] that’s all sufficient, esp when we lack ability 2 Cor 12:9
  • God-given & resurrection strength, might and power.  Eph 6:1
  • Exceeding power that will go beyond all we can imagine or ask! Eph 3:20
  • Power to desire to do & accomplish glorious will.  Phil 2:13 Weymouth translation
  • Can do strength and power Phil 4:13
  • Father’s faithful, can-do power.  1 Thess 5:24
  • The Covenant promise to equip us with good, so we can do his will. Hebs 13:21

These verses are spiritual nutrition, an all you can eat buffet for the MH&S and the FH&S and when we ingest and digest them, we’ll come up strong in love and faith, ready to empower all our loved ones within the Eden He has put us in.

As sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, granddads, great granddads, uncles, team players and work colleagues, we ARE fully loaded by our father, to empower those around us.

Em, is like en and dynamically refers to putting on or in.  So, encourage, enthusiasm, enable, empathise, empower.   We can and must, put on and put into our love ones, what the Father has given us and what our loved ones need from their fathers, husbands etc…

The primary way this is achieved is by engaging with them and speaking life enhancing and confidence empowering words, about who they are, what they have been given and can do.

Please make sure these words are true and so avoid building a princess and prince syndrome in our children.

Engage with their lives, help them navigate what’s in their hearts and empower them to release ‘it’ with words of truth and love.

It will take guts and courage but remember, if I help create a vacuum, it will be filled and the father of lies, is more than willing to fill that vacuum with his words!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Expectations.  

If a muscle isn’t worked it atrophies which means it shrinks in size and weakens in its ability to function. When a muscle is over worked it looks weird, disproportionate and often elicits comments.

Expectations are a core, core muscle and avoiding both of the above extremes are vital to the development and maturity of our masculine core.  No man lives free of expectations, they usually and sometimes conveniently choose not to accept this or attend to them.

This normally flows from the experience of having had too many wrong expectations put on them or having tried to meet expectations, they have failed or become absolutely frustrated, so they quit. Now they stop expecting and just go with the flow.

For this group of men their expectation muscle is atrophying!

The other extreme reveals itself in something that us men are very prone to; driveness and just like any over worked muscle, driveness is obvious in the life of a man and disproportionate to the Father’s design and desire for our masculine soul. The Father created man to live and work from rest.

Adam’s first working day was the Sabbath!  A day off was his starting day!

How can we avoid both extremes?  What exercise does our expectation muscle need and how does it become part of our daily routine?

First, we need to accept that we have this expectation muscle by design and our Father desires that we develop and mature it.  A failure to acknowledge this truth is dangerous because ‘perishing and lack of knowledge are intrinsically link.  See Hosea 4:6.

Then we need to take responsibility to work with our personal training Father, to seek the knowledge we need and then daily act on this so we become wiser and mature at our core. I call this initial part, lifting with the bar.

The bar is the essential tool for all the weights[expectations] we shall choose to lift. Starting to rep with the bar, is a decision and an acknowledgment regarding our desire to get our masculine core into shape!

I am using this illustration of lose weight lifting because of the picture and thought contained in Ecclesiastes 3:10 –

“I have seen the burden God has laid on men!”

The word burden can be translated as heavy responsibility, occupation or task.  The thought is not a negative one; burden has so been misunderstood in the church and so it’s time to redeem it.

The thought behind this ‘burden’ He has laid on all men is really the ‘weight of responsibility!’   Our Father given ability to respond; when the right weight of expectation presents itself.  God as our personal trainer and spotter knows our potential because He put it in there and so He is only asking for what’s dormant and latent.

When we respond to His expectation prompts, put all our core under the weight of responsibility and rep, we are introducing our potential to the problem He designed us to solve. This is the core exercise our expectation muscle needs!

“Everything manufactured was designed to solve a problem or bring pleasure, with Father it is both.”

..HE predestined us according to His pleasure and His will.  Eph 1:5

For it is God Himself whose power creates within you the desire to do His gracious will and also bring about the accomplishment of the desire. Phil 2:13

All this acquiring of knowledge, the discipline of practice and enduring through daily habits [reps] leads us to the core expectation the Father has for His men -achievement!

By design we are hardwired for achievement.

Within our hearts, at the desire level, He has given us ideas and outcomes He would love to see, realities He deeply desires would be released into the earth; AND He has also given us the power to achieve these desires.

Father’s expectation is that we will think about this truth, respond positively in faith and do all He will show us, to make it a reality within our time and space context.

He is the only Father who is allowed to dream his dreams through His sons.

He has great expectations of us men.  May we see them fulfilled in our time!

 

 

Resources.

“Abilities available when demands are made!”

This is the core dynamic of this blog thought about resources. Merriam Webster and the Cambridge Dictionaries have these entries about resources:

a source of supply or support: an available means —usually used in plural (MW) a usefulor valuable possession or quality of a countryorganization, or person (TCD)

The masculine soul by design, has valuable resources that the Father desires are used to serve and nurture all that He deems beautiful and to use these resources in a sacrificial manner.

The source of these resources are common grace; abilities and resources the Father gave to each masculine heart and soul He created and formed and ‘Covenant Grace’ which He gave and continues to give to all returning and reunited sons!  At the common grace level, we are by nature limited but at a covenant grace level we have access to unlimited love (see Paul’s struggle to describe His love in Eph 3:18&19) and unrivalled or surpassing power (see Eph 1:19)

When demands are made on our masculine heart and soul, we are expected to step up to the plate, if the expectation behind the demand is an appropriate one.  Some expectations made of us as men from those within our world are not appropriate; in fact, they are contrary to design!

An often-heard phrase to men’s’ worlds is this – Why don’t you grow up?!

Many times, this question is legitimate because the male is acting and behaving like a boy, and at this moment in the relationship a man is needed.  However, we are never meant to grow out of our sense of wonder, exploration, adventure and this may come as a surprise, our mischievousness. Why don’t you grow up is sometimes a reaction to these moments and should be resisted!

The buzz word for all these demand making times is responsibility!   Often the definition of a word gives me the dynamic that’s being called for, and responsibility is dynamically about my/our ability to respond. The demand is looking to and calling for much-needed supply.”

“Potential is determined by the demands place about it by its creator.”  Myles Munroe

All designed and manufactured products have inbuilt capacity, max stress levels and gross ladened weights and as a product of the mind and heart of my ‘first Father,’ so do I.   Accepting this truth is the beginning of being able; to be able to respond with our grace given abilities.  The core muscle that needs to be developed, again through meditation, is a core characteristic of the Father’s heart and mind, namely that He is just!

“The justness of Father is a daily plank exercise!”

I have learnt and am daily applying, especially in those ‘demanding make moments,’ to remember His justness and that the Father is making a legitimate demand on the resources and abilities He has given me through both aspects of grace.

This is not unfair but a moment to release and realise my potential!

The other muscle to develop alongside this is discernment which is a much-needed ability because has I said earlier not all demands of us are legitimate, that is, not from Him.

Our resources and abilities as men are very much-needed today and I believe the Father desires to train and develop our masculine hearts and souls accordingly, by reminding us of all we are in Him.  All we’ve been given in Christ, and all we can do motivated by His love and through His surpassing power!

Let’s us get ready in heart and mind for new training opportunities and stay disciplined in our ‘gym time’ of daily meditation on and in His word.

 

Opinions!

I am using the acronym CORE to help me and hopefully others understand the design of our masculine hearts and souls. Our physical core needs exercise to help it develop and strengthen so too does our masculine core.

C.O.R.E

  1. Certainty
  2. Opinions
  3. Resources
  4. Expectations

In the previous post I shared thoughts about certainty as a core muscle, so let’s look at opinions.

Opinions are like arm pits, everyone’s got a set and some stink!

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me, is mostly true.

Mostly, because only words we choose to take to heart can wound and hurt us.   The singer Cher puts it well –

“Words are like weapons, they wound sometime!”

Why are opinions important to the development and maturing of the masculine heart and soul?  In the beginning, this was the core strategy of the enemy’s attack on the masculine soul; he used opinions!

“Did God really say?” “You will not surely die!”

Both of the above are rooted in opinions.  The first is asking the masculine heart and soul for their opinion: did God really say?  The second is Satan’s opinion about the answer Adam gave: You will not surely die!

A simple and timeless strategy of the enemy; getting us to doubt Father’s word by the introduction of another opinion.    We can only be two-souled which is the New Testament meaning of doubt; when we are listening and paying attention to two opinions.

Did God really say?

Is a direct attack on His essence and character and our confidence in His character!  Adam answered in the affirmative and Jesus, the second Adam continued to answer in the affirmative!

You will not surely die.

Is also an attack on the character of the Father which has to do with consequence and conclusion, i.e. what outcomes He’s set in place in response to our actions.

This addition of an opinion is a direct attempt to move us from our consecration to His word, having failed in his attempt at undermining our confidence in His word.  Satan then and now; constantly seeks to undermine our confidence in and our commitment to staying with and remaining in Father’s word.  In His opinions about who we are, whose we are and what we have been given.

Why is that?

The Father’s words, internalised, that is taken to heart, into our core, contain tremendous power and nutrition for our masculine hearts and souls.   As a man thinks in his heart so shall he be and the heart is the source and starting point for all the issue of life. Cf Prov 23:7 & Prov 4:23

Let me say again (see blog on certainty 9/6/) meditation which is focusing on and repeating words, so they enter our heart, is the core muscle developing exercise.

It is the spiritual plank!

The words I hold in my heart are directly setting the boundaries of my life, namely what I will or will not attempt. The primary function of the word of God is to test the thoughts and attitudes of the heart [our opinions about His opinions]  See Hebs 4:12

The classic Biblical eg of a struggling masculine heart & soul receiving God’s opinion and transforming is Gideon!

No one’s opinion of me, not even the Father’s, can become my reality without my co-operation.  Meditation is co-operation and through this discipline my core is developed and strengthen by the opinions I am focusing on.  These eventually flow out of my core in actions which affect the context and reality of my life, for good or bad.

No words are neutral they all flow from someone’s spirit, heart and mind.

The reality I am in and that surrounds me which is my context has within it characters who all have opinions and these can lead to pressurised times.  Yet my context is not the ‘Ultimate Reality.’  The dimension or realm I live and move in is superseded by the reality called the Kingdom of God.

This truth about the dual nature of reality that I hold, has two aspects to it.  I hold these aspects by meditation in my heart and mind which then empowers, develops & matures my masculine soul.

  1. All reality, global and local was spoken into being by my Father

  2. Jesus the Word became flesh and dwelt, as a man, in this lower reality.

All time, space and matter were formed by Father speaking them into being, by His command.  So, what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Heb 1:3    Jesus the Word, was with the Father in the beginning (Jn 1:1) and then entered our time and space reality and walked through it as a man. (Jn 1:14) Jesus’ incarnation is a vital revelation and meditation that daily adds nutrition to my masculine heart and soul because I am not in covenant with a distant deity, rather with the Son of God who also was the Son of man!

Therefore, Jesus’ opinions are the most important to me, for He has experienced both realities and is the only man I know who whilst on earth was tempted in every way but did not cross the line once.   The pressures within my local context and reality He has also faced and defeated!

Opinions matter and some opinions are still affecting our matter, both as a person and in our performance.

There’s a phrase that Jesus often used towards the men He was training and mentoring – “you have heard it said; now I tell you! Matt 5:21-43

Knowingly or unknowing we have internalised someone’s opinion.  Is it time to evaluate these and consider Jesus’ thoughts and opinions about us?

The Word and His words can and will change our matter and our time and space context.  When we receive the Word and believe what the Word has done, we are given power to become.  Become what?  Adopted sons of the Father and given full rights, privileges and responsibilities and the power to accomplish and achieve, all He’s put in us at the desire level.

To a group of men Jesus once said these words – you have no room in your heart for my word! Jn 8:37

I hope and pray there’s space in ours for His?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C.O.R.E  

My Father and Creator did not create humans but a man and a woman; therefore He created and specifically formed the masculine heart and soul and vice versa.   We are different but have the same Father and I am speaking more than biology!

Just like our physical core strength determines our external performances i.e. what we can lift, carry, push, hold and resist, so too our masculine core.  Our physical core needs specific exercise to develop it and therein our external performance, so too does our masculine core.   Using the word core as an acronym let’s explore what  muscles our masculine souls have and what specific exercises will help us develop them.    

corejpg

C.O.R.E

  1. Certainty
  2. Opinions
  3. Resources
  4. Expectations

These are the four core muscles of our masculine soul as designed by our Father and they are vitally important to our success and achievement as men and also our fruitfulness and productivity as disciples!

Being uncertain at our core is destabilising and leads to increasingly erratic behaviour. The exercise that will strengthen and develop our ‘certainty muscle’ is validation and affirmation.  These validations and affirmations have their roots in the Father’s voice and not in the voices of our mums, spouses or girlfriends!  There were many things my mum gave me and I am forever indebted to her.  So to Dawn my wife, she is a constant reminded of grace and beauty which are vital macro-nutrients to my masculine heart and soul.

However, for years I unknowingly took my need of validation and affirmation as a man to Dawn but she just didn’t have, by design, what I needed.  My need could only be met by my father(s).  I put the letter in brackets because I have two Fathers – a heavenly and earthly one.

When life happens by design; then earthly dads see the need for validation and affirmation and act and speak accordingly into their sons’ masculine heart and soul.

Many men I have met are still uncertain at their core, never having the validation and affirmation from their fathers and spending years seeking it from the women in their lives.  If you’re one of these men and your father is still alive, then it’s never too late.  If like me your earthly father is no longer around, the good news is, the heavenly Father loves to validate and affirm His sons.  Cf Matt 3:17 & Roms 8:16

If you are still seeking validation from the key women in your life, give it up and let them off the hook!

The nature of this vital validation and affirmation is this; our worth and value is rooted in who be, not in what we do.  This truth and experience avoids the massive deception that we as men can get so easily suck into – ‘performance related approval!’  PRA is a toxin to the masculine heart and soul; a slow killer that leads to either driveness, striving or hiding.

My father never validated and affirmed me because I don’t think he ever got me and now, retrospectively I understand this and no longer hold a frustrative attitude toward him.  He did a very good job.  Thanks Dad!

Certainty is really about confidence which is the doctrine of  assurance and this truth is a vital experience our Heavenly Father deeply desires we understand, live in and function from.

Before Jesus had preached a sermon, healed or driven out a demon, His  Father locked onto His heart, who He be and loaded it with His love, His assurance, His approval.  Out of this Fatherly assurance, Jesus ministered, worked and rested! We can and must too!

Uncertainty has its root in fear: Future Events Appearing Real.  We look out from our core as men and ask two vital questions – What is a man?  Am I one?   The Father’s love drives out fear 1 Jn 4:18  and His love starts by answering, in the affirmative, the above two questions. The Father does this by asking us to meditate on the finished work of His Son and inviting the Holy Spirit to testify to our spirits.

John 1:12 says to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave them power to become children of God.  To all! Period!

Meditation is the core mental exercise that will build our certainty muscle, along with taking stuff on but that’s another blog.

If we have come back to our Father by believing His Son’s finished work  on the cross, then He has given us the power to become His adopted sons.  This title and all the realities that come with it are bestowed. They are an utter gift.  Not earned but given!  This is a real stumbling block for us men who have been raised to believe there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Well guys, that’s untrue and grace will continue to be a stumbling block until we let go of this lie.

The primary work or ministry  of the Holy Spirit in the life of an adopted son, is to testify to them that they ARE, who Father says they are and they HAVE what Father says they have.  The key verses to memorise and meditate on regularly, I call this my ‘gym time’ is Roms 8: 15-17

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Rom 8:15-17 ESV

Meditation on His word is the spiritual equivalent of the  plank exercise to our core.

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The Holy Spirit bears witness to our spirit that we are, by the gift of grace bestowed; sons, heirs and co-heirs!  Heirs of all the Father has put in His will and co-heirs of all that He promised to His son.

This isn’t a free lunch.  It’s a lifelong feast and we are distinguished guests.

Lack of Father given validation and affirmation in men,  leads to us being and becoming increasingly frustrated.  There are a lot of angry men out there and the answer to their struggle is to come home to Father, get His validation and affirmation and begin to feast at His table.

There we find the Father given nutrition that will feed, grow and develop our masculine souls.

Is it time to come home men?  The table is set!

Lessons from Ivy!

 

Just had a wonderful four days at Centreparcs at Sherwood Forest, a serious time of chilling and being with family.

It was my first holiday with my granddaughter Ivy and watching her and her interactions with mum and dad was a joy.

I was reminded of how it really should be in those early days and weeks of life, through Ivy’s eyes and facial expressions when her mum, my daughter Bethany was talking to and interacting with her.

Ivy’s eyes were full of wonder, awe, joy, happiness and sometimes they matched the frown on her face. All this stimulated by Bethany’s tone and gestures.

This was connection and intimacy 101!

I loved these observations and was fascinated by them.

What a privilege to see and be part of these moments.

I do not know what career Ivy will eventually have or take but at the moment she is teaching me a lot and reminding me of the heart of my Father and His desire to love and be intimate with His sons and daughters.

I am reminded of the tender and amazing words of the opening chapter of Hosea –

Hos 11:1

When Israel was only a child, I loved him. I called out, ‘My son! v1

That I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek, that I bent down to feed him. v4the message

These observations and reminders carried on throughout the week and quite frankly made my holiday.

Many lessons were offered and my hope is that I will learn and internalise them!?

Ivy is only 12 weeks old but already I have observed her preferences and a tradition developing.

Ivy does not like to be held on your knee but desires, quite strongly via her vocal chords to be up and looking around. She communicates to you that she wants you to stand!

Once there her eyes are darting around and her shutter speed is amazing, as she captures info!

 

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It was just brilliant and I find her sense of wonder absolutely beautiful and it wells me up.

Why do we seem to lose this?

It was a week of first for her, all of which she took in her stride.

Her first experience of the sub tropical swimming pool was beautiful. She wasn’t amazed or fazed. She, pardon the pun, just soaked it all up. Although at one time her face did seem to be registering why there were so many people in the bath with her!

The first time in the reclining Mamas and Papas part of the push chair and for the first time wearing her excellent ‘Ewok’ coat. She looked amazing and very cosy. This combo led to her having a four hour nap in the day which was another first. In the end mum had to wake her. Another first!

This week of observations, lessons and reminders have led me back to two core scriptures and desires of the Father –

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” 16 God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. Rom 8:15-16 The message

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. 1 Jn 4:16

Bethany and Liam’s spirits wanted Ivy to be reminded of the love they have and feel for her, and for her, through consistent reminders, to know it and rely upon it.

 
Just as any parent, including God the Father would!

Thanks Ivy for all you have given me this week.

One proud granddad.

Intimidation:the life & level limiter

One of Satan’s favourite weapons against the masculine soul is intimidation. The sole purpose of intimidation is found within itself – timid.

To overwhelm the masculine soul with a sense of timidity. Of perceiving and feeling the difference within you with regard to who or what you are facing. To stir up feelings of inferiority and inadequacy.

One man who the Father chose to raise, train and discipline was David and he had many opportunities to be intimidated but only once was he defeated by it.

Have you ever had the experience of standing in a crowd as two captains pick their teams. Your hope and prayer is that you’ll be pick first and you won’t be picked last. This was my first major time with the spirit of intimidation.

It’s important to remember that intimidation is a spirit. After all, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Intimidation will come through flesh and blood but its real  source is from beyond.

David had a moment when he realised that there’d been a ‘pick a king moment’ and he was not even considered for the short list. A list compiled by his own Father.

How’s that for major league intimidation! Not even your father thinks you have what it takes.

In fairness to Samuel, this was his first time at interviewing for a King. As Jesse brought all his sons, minus David, Samuel said “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands before me?” Father answers his question – Nope. Not him. Not Eliab!

What happened next I am sure put Samuel in a sweat. He watches as all of Jesse’s other sons are paraded and rejected by God. Whoops!

Samuel asks an obvious question – is this all your sons? Jesse’s reply is insightful. There is still the youngest!

The word for youngest is  haqqaton, describing not only age but rank.  David is the little brother.  The last one in the line but according to the mind of the Father, the first and only one on His list to fill the vacancy

I was never chosen first or last, when the captains where making up their minds but I do know what the intimidation of your dad not thinking you have what it takes, feels like.

It casts a long shadow!

From this moment David’s life begins to change and he faces many more intimidating times. When Satan knows that the Father has chosen another son to raise, train and discipline and take their predetermined place within His epic story.

He will try to intimidate the life and potential out of that son, all the way through the journey.

As stated, David had many but his most well-known one was facing the champion of Gath Goliath. Just before David enters the valley and they get into it, Satan attempts three times to intimidate Father’s chosen masculine soul of the moment.

Satan often tries to use those closest to you and he sifts David’s oldest brother Eilab –

“When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”” 1 Samuel 17:28 NIV

Two questions and two statements designed to intimidate David.

I love David’s response: “Now what have I done!” And he turned his back on his brother!    David turned his back on both his brother’s opinion.

Coincidentally, what had Eliab been doing for 40 days but watching Goliath and doing nothing! Huh!
Attempt No 2. Saul wants David to look like him from a distance!

Years ago when playing football there were a few lads who had all the gear, even the latest Georgie Best boots with bright red linings. Some of these lads were really good footballs, others were empty shirts!

David was a warrior, he’d been waging war against the bear and the lion, protecting the sheep in his care!

He wasn’t a lookalike he was the real deal!

“David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.” 1 Samuel 17:39 NIV

This is not me and so he took them off!

Another great and prompt response to the spirit of intimidation.

Attempt No 3 Water!

“Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.”
1 Samuel 17:40 NIV

There was a moment, just a moment when David would have caught sight of himself in the reflection of the water of the stream.

He could have paused and thought about who he was and what he was facing. He didn’t. He broke any false reflection of himself, any fear based fiery dart thought by thrusting his hands through and onto his stock choice of weapon – a stone!
It was a moment the enemy could have used to put him in pause.

To get him look at who he was, where he’d come from and what people thought of him.

David’s hand breaks through the water and demolish any attempt at passing on an old reflection.

David was not a captive to his past and its opinions by endless reflection.David was compelled by who his Father was and where he was taking him.

David’s focus was not on who was waiting for him in the valley:Goliath.But who was waiting upon him in the valley His God!

David’s hand broke up the reflection and released the pebble and he knew his God would do the rest.
David knew this public gigantic moment was very similar in kind to his private moments of killing bears and lions.

We need to have private victories that precede and prepare us for public ones!

Intimidation has to be dealt with otherwise our masculine soul stays on the side watching the action and forfeiting the benefits of victory. See 1 Sam 17:25.