Keep diligent watch over your heart, for that’s where life starts.
Keep your heart with all diligence for the issues of life spring from there Prov 4:23
The picture behind the thought of guarding your heart; is of something so valuable, it needs to guarded by special forces! It is the intentional stationing of trained guards, to protect at all cost, that which is not just valuable but strategic.
Strategic because our heart is our core and life and ALL its issues, issue from here!
Another way of saying it would be this, our core is who we BE and life IS responding to who we be not what we do. However, if who we be, synchs with what we do, then life and circumstances begin to change. And yet, there is another level of life and circumstance changing power available to us; when who we be is in NOW Grace and what we do is empower by the Spirit of grace.
Eruptive and disruptive power, the same as the Father exerted in raising his Son IS available, and part of ‘now grace’ which He has given to all His sons and all His daughters! Eph 6:10
A solid core, begins when we evaluate who we be. We take our heart in for a mot.
This is an ongoing dynamic the Father undertakes. “I the Lord search the heart. ” Jer 17:10. I do not look at the appearance. I Sam 16:7. His word tests the thoughts of our hearts. Hebs 4:12 Father is very interested in our hearts, who we be.
Who we be is the sum total of all we Believe and our Experiences. To be more forensic, it’s not just having experiences but our interpretations of those experiences.
The life limiting sentences like: I can’t. I am not good enough, talented enough or educated enough. If only. I’ll never… All of these and many more are decisions, usually made from within a traumatic experience and via the emotions that were present and strong at the time.
These short sentences can themselves be life-long prison sentences, keeping us in, holding us back, keeping us out and stopping us from entering in!
Gideon would be the classic biblical character for this core mind-set. See Judges 6. When God entered Gideon’s present He did so answering Gideon’s prayer and complaint by addressing the answer –
The LORD is with you, mighty warrior! Judges 6:12
God’s description clashed with Gideon’s interpretation of himself which was generationally deep! V15. Until Gideon’s core interpretations synched with the released revelation, the situation would be the same. God is patient and will wait but nothing will change long-term, until His revelation becomes our interpretation of who we are, what we have and what in Him, we can do.
The all-encompassing biblical word for this is grace.
A graced core is a solid core, one that has been set in and upon his Word; about who we are, what we have and what we can do because we are in Christ, the anointed one! When who I be lines up with what He says about me, and I stay there, my core becomes solid and stable. Stable is vital because unstable speaks of being two minded, or two-souled and this condition means we will not receive anything from Father. See James 1:8
Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth will speak. Matt 12:34 So, our words are a glossary and a dictionary of our hearts. Jesus also said that we would be acquitted or condemned by our words, and that we would have to give an account for every idle word we have uttered. Matt 12:36&37
The word idle speaks of not being employed, of not putting our words to work for us!
The combinational power of who I be, synched with confessing His Word is unparalleled and is far more than just positive self-mirror talk. Jesus said that His Words were spirit and life. Jn 6:63 and that they had the power to set us free. Jn 8:32 When we take to heart, literally, His Word, his definition of who we, whose we are, what we have and what we can do, all things become possible.
Biblical meditation is thinking on and speaking out His Word simultaneously, so that the words of our mouth and the meditations of our hearts synch. Ps 19:14
Satan knows the system that the Father has put in place and all he can do is try to work the system, for his own aims and agenda by deception and lies. He’ll try and convince us that we are over the top with all this guarding your heart and confessing stuff. Don’t buy it for a minute. He’ll also try to get us to over emphasis one above the other which is typical of him, another one of his subtleties, designed to bring imbalance to our lives which inevitable leads to dis-ease!
Solid in core and steadfast in confession is vital to seeing all the promised resources of His kingdom becoming our reality. The Psalmist knew the importance of a solid core and a steadfast heart
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. Ps 112:7&8
When our core and our confession are synched God’s promises will materialise even when everything looks hopeless.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Roms 4:18-21
Against all hope, Abraham in his core believed therefore he had hope. It says that he never wavered concerning the promise [the Word of God] but was strengthened in his faith by giving glory to God. Giving glory to God means in opened his mouth and confessed God’s faithfulness to his Word and His people.
Abraham was fully [core and confession] persuaded.
God still wants to release new ‘Isaac’s into His world but needs sons and daughters to become fully persuaded, in their core and their confession.
To all the next generation of Abraham’s and Sarah’s stayed solid and remain steadfast, your Isaac has been released!
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.
- Adam, created from the dust of the wilderness, not the soil of Eden. Gen 2:7
- Father breathed into Adam, then he became a living being; lit: a speaking spirit!
- He then blessed, empowered & equipped his man. Gen 1:28
- He mandates his man – BE – fruitful, increase, fill, subdue, rule 1:28
- He decisively puts Adam in what He’d already planted – Eden.
- 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!
The premise for these blogs on masculinity is that God did not create humans. That’s a throw away categorisation and generalisation attached by man. Father intentionally and purposely created a masculine and feminine heart and soul and both are unique and complementary, and together they reflect all His fullness.
There is a saying – don’t saw against the grain which speaks of not working against oneself, of not getting the most out of your efforts which leads to compromise in productivity. If I am to avoid theses I need to cut with the God-given grain of my MH&S and that has four ‘grains’ to it – Navigate, Engage, Empower, Sacrifice.
These are the structure, functions and purposes of the MH&S and for maximum productivity I need to honour His grains and work with them and Him.
Navigate speaks of planning and directing a journey, by the use of maps and instruments at our disposal and the journey us men are on is called life! There are records i.e. maps that others who gone before us have left, these charts are pointers and give us a broad understanding of the terrain of life. Then there are the tools, those established principles that Father has put in place that we need to get hold of and learn how to handle and apply them to our contexts.
We have this life, our time and space years, to master the maps and the principles and help our love ones to make progress on the journey of life until we reach the horizon and enter eternity. Simply put, us men are here for others and if we accept this command and challenge of our ‘first father,’ we can move from happiness to fulfilment which is the highest level our father has created and purposed us for.
We can be happy but not fulfilled but we cannot reach fulfilment and not be happy.
It is not co-incidental that happiness and happenings both share the same root word and popular culture is addicted to happenings for their happiness. On the surface, I buy into this dynamic but has a long-term strategy for life it’s a deception because all events/happenings can offer is an invitation which many do not heed and so they need another ‘fix’ and on the addiction goes.
In the beginning the father offered the MH&S an invitation which followed the event of creation and this invitation can be summed up in one word: engage!
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Gen 1:28
Dynamically the father was commanding the newly formed MH&S to participate in a process He’d begun: to fill the earth with what He had planted – Eden.
“A delightful, pleasurable and beautiful place. Eden also means voluptuously which speaks of fullness and is characterised by pleasure and enjoyment, of all the senses.”
The MH&S was created to exercise power and designed to manage it, and given a clear mandate. I like to paraphrase it this way – “given the right and the might to join Father in His global strategy!”
All the commands father gave the MH&S – be fruitful, increase, fill, subdue and rule all have a core dynamic – process.
If I engage with His process there will be many events and happenings which includes conflict and battles, inferred by the use of the word subdue. This is a heads up by father that opposition to his process of filling the earth will come and we are to opposes this and win! These times of opposition will call for me to be aggressive even fierce, to use a whip and turn over the status quo tables! See John 2:15
There does not seem to be any indication to how long it was before the first man, Adam encountered the opposition, i.e. Satan. However, we do have the clear record of how Adam handled it, the root cause of his failure and the global consequences of his failure to engage!
Adam’s passivity, his failure to engage the enemy with the tools he had been given happened locally, in Eden but the consequences were global. Cf Matt 4:8&9 & Rom 5: 17 Authority, rule, kingdoms and their splendour were handed over because father had assigned the earth to men and women. See Ps 115:16
Where there had been intimacy, unity, life and peace there was now fear and shame, separation and blame!
One of the forgotten titles of the man Christ Jesus is the last Adam and in Romans 5:12-20 the last Adam’s engagement and the first Adam’s passivity are compared, and the consequences are staggering!
If as men we have returned back to our Father through the finished work of his Son, then the Holy Spirit will be testifying that we are His sons and we have full rights which includes to reign in life [again] through the man Christ Jesus. Roms 5:17 We do this by remembering our position; the gift of righteousness and using the provision called the abundant provision of grace; His unrivalled power.
All we lost and more, have been restored to us, His co-regents and now we can get back to implementing Father’s manifesto which He released in the beginning – be fruitful, increase, fill, subdue and rule. If we do this and engage with our local contexts we will see the rule and resources of His kingdom become our realities!
Questions are an essential part of life but a subject that us men seem a little nervous around. They are essential because they help us troubleshoot; a vital part of problem solving which is a core purpose of the masculine soul.
Questions are a sign of humility which predisposes God to give us His power. 1 Peter 5:5 they also reveal a desire to learn, grow, develop and transform and these are intrinsic parts of being a disciple of Jesus.
I have had many questions levelled at me through the years and I have had those ‘percolating questions’ that rise up within my masculine heart and soul. These usually fall into two categories – What is a man? Am I a man?
Right from the outset my masculine heart and soul received a steady stream of data regarding these two foundational and fundamental questions. I have to say; the messages were mixed, confusing and conflicting. Until I came to a place, a ah ah moment.
I was reflecting on Gen 1:28 and reading a book by John Eldridge and came to a thought of his –
“God doesn’t make generic people, he makes something very distinct – a man and a woman. In other words, there is a masculine heart and a feminine heart which in their own ways reflect and portray to the world God ‘s heart.” Pg 8 Wild at Heart John Eldredge
If I believe, which I do, that I am created by God, then He intentionally designed and defaulted my masculine soul. At that moment, eight years ago, the desire to discover the design, function and purpose of the masculine heart and soul began.
What I have discover, learnt and am applying is the subject of the next four posts.
The structure, functions and purposes of the masculine heart and soul are fourfold – Navigate, Engage, Empower, Sacrifice.
The big four are like grid references on a map. They are ordinance survey points that help orientate us. They are the needles of a compass and sacrifice is the magnetic north our masculine heart and soul.
Navigate speaks of planning and directing a journey, by the use of maps and instruments at our disposal. This paradigm of life as a journey which needs to be proactively charted, lies at the core of our MH&S, by design. It is not co-incidental that the game Uncharted was a massive hit with men and yet the things called for through the levels, tests and challenges of the game, are paralleled in life. Sadly, too many men have retreated to the online version and seem detached from the real-life version of Uncharted!
“Adam was created outside the garden, in the wilderness. Man was born in the outback, from the untamed part of creation!” Pg 34 Wild at Heart. John Eldredge
An essential part of navigating is trusting the encounters and experiences of those who have gone before and who have left clues to the terrain, obstacles and challenges of the journey. These mature topographers, these generational ‘charters,’ are what the Bible calls spiritual fathers and should be in our world, and yet they are rare.
I have to be honest and say I don’t think I’ve been the best navigator or topographer to my marriage and family but like Paul I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: forgetting what’s past I press on to the upward call of Christ. Phil 3:12
In July and November of 2016 I was given the privilege of becoming a granddad. I feel the call of this new level of the ‘computer game of life!’ I have another chance as a navigator and topographer and I will rise to challenge to be there for the emerging and the established generations.
AS the lyricist said “No one said it was easy!’ and nothing worthwhile ever is!
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!
“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:
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.
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.
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.
All reality, global and local was spoken into being by my Father
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?
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.
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.
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!
Just had a wonderful four days at Centreparcs at Sherwood Forest, a serious time of chilling and being with family.
It was my first holiday with my granddaughter Ivy and watching her and her interactions with mum and dad was a joy.
I was reminded of how it really should be in those early days and weeks of life, through Ivy’s eyes and facial expressions when her mum, my daughter Bethany was talking to and interacting with her.
Ivy’s eyes were full of wonder, awe, joy, happiness and sometimes they matched the frown on her face. All this stimulated by Bethany’s tone and gestures.
This was connection and intimacy 101!
I loved these observations and was fascinated by them.
What a privilege to see and be part of these moments.
I do not know what career Ivy will eventually have or take but at the moment she is teaching me a lot and reminding me of the heart of my Father and His desire to love and be intimate with His sons and daughters.
I am reminded of the tender and amazing words of the opening chapter of Hosea –
When Israel was only a child, I loved him. I called out, ‘My son! v1
That I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek, that I bent down to feed him. v4the message
These observations and reminders carried on throughout the week and quite frankly made my holiday.
Many lessons were offered and my hope is that I will learn and internalise them!?
Ivy is only 12 weeks old but already I have observed her preferences and a tradition developing.
Ivy does not like to be held on your knee but desires, quite strongly via her vocal chords to be up and looking around. She communicates to you that she wants you to stand!
Once there her eyes are darting around and her shutter speed is amazing, as she captures info!
It was just brilliant and I find her sense of wonder absolutely beautiful and it wells me up.
Why do we seem to lose this?
It was a week of first for her, all of which she took in her stride.
Her first experience of the sub tropical swimming pool was beautiful. She wasn’t amazed or fazed. She, pardon the pun, just soaked it all up. Although at one time her face did seem to be registering why there were so many people in the bath with her!
The first time in the reclining Mamas and Papas part of the push chair and for the first time wearing her excellent ‘Ewok’ coat. She looked amazing and very cosy. This combo led to her having a four hour nap in the day which was another first. In the end mum had to wake her. Another first!
This week of observations, lessons and reminders have led me back to two core scriptures and desires of the Father –
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” 16 God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. Rom 8:15-16 The message
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. 1 Jn 4:16
Bethany and Liam’s spirits wanted Ivy to be reminded of the love they have and feel for her, and for her, through consistent reminders, to know it and rely upon it.
Just as any parent, including God the Father would!
Thanks Ivy for all you have given me this week.
One proud granddad.