Mel Gibson portrays Col Hal Moore, in the film, We Were Soldiers. As he moves into his digs on camp, one of the soldiers talking to his mate calls Moore a ‘Harvard man!’ His sentiment is that his new Colonel is a book worm and a desk dweller. One of the most compelling parts of the film for me, was the preparation this new Colonel put in, before he engaged his enemy. Gibson is seen pouring over books about previous battles, including the massacre of the French forces, eleven years previously by the enemy, this new Colonel is about to face.
I remember, as I watched this character develop, how many aspects of his world related to principles found in Scripture. Colonel Hal Moore understood leadership and the tactics of war, and that all began with knowing your enemy.
In Ephesians 6:11 – Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
An event-minded believer will believe that just putting on the full armour of God is enough to stand successfully against the devil’s schemes. However, it’s also important to know his schemes. How he operates, so we can effectively and efficiently use our armour and defeat his advances.
The word schemes, literally translated means ‘with a road,’ which makes no sense grammatically but the picture behind this, is that of a traveller on a road, heading towards a decided upon destination. The Greek word for schemes is methodos, from which we get our word method. Just as the enemy that Mel Gibson’s character was facing had methods of engagement, strategy and tactics which Gibson needed to know and understand. So too, do we as sons of our father. Who incidentally, is described as “a man of war!” Ex 15:3
In fact, we are commanded not to be ignorant of his schemes, 2 Co2:11. And this verse gives us an important truth about the devil’s strategy – that Satan would gain an advantage over us. Eph 4:27 builds us a clearer picture of what the scheme of the devil is – give no place to the devil. The word place, is topos and is about giving space or room to another. Interestingly, topos is also relegated to maps or areas i.e. topography! Eph 6:13 commands us to stand your ground which again speaks of an area we have dominion and authority over.
This ground, this area he is after, is our HQ and the Bible calls it our mind or intellect.
This truth is gleaned from the use of the word for schemes in 2 Cor 2:11 is noemata which is s form of the word nous which describes the mind or intellect. The devil’s destination is our minds, our HQ in this war we face and he has a threefold purpose, which Jesus revealed –
the thief comes to rob, steal and destroy. Jn 10:9 In a word destruction!
Whoever captures our HQ, will preside over our imaginations, thoughts and emotions and these will fill our hearts and begin to overflow and flood our lives! He cannot do this just to anyone he likes because he is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Pet 5:8. Interestingly, the context of this verse is about strong negative emotions and attitudes of mind and the word for devour, speaks of the devil’s desire to so frighten a person in mind and emotion, that he can simply lick them up, as a lion would do after the kill.
There is a war on and we do have a HQ, that we need to defend and protect and the how of this, is the content of my next blog.
‘No pain. No Gain.’ Is simply not true! Many times, in my personal life and pastoral ministry I have experience and seen pain, that has not led to gain. This is in part due to the deception called event-mindedness which says that just experiencing pressure and pain will lead to gain. It will not!
Some learnt wisdom from Arnie –
“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll go through the pain no matter what happens.” Arnold Schwarzenegger
“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow,” Boom!
It’s not just experiencing the pain that leads to gain, it is what we do within the pain, that leads to growth. Not just physical muscle but mental, emotional and spiritual muscle. As we push, rep-eatedly, against the weight we submit to a process and resist the cry of our emotions to quit and go back to comfort!
The word for suffering in Roms 5:3 is pressure and the writer says that pressure produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope, which does not disappoint because it is attached to the love Father has already poured into our hearts, who we be! On the surface, this scripture seems to support event-mindedness. However, the best interpreter of scripture is scripture. So, let’s bring James 1:2-4 alongside, to build the complete thought –
“consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials [pressure] of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Because you know that testing [pressure] develops perseverance! Do we know this? As a revelation and a principle, do we get this? These verses are a great synopsis of what an event leads to, which is always an invitation to work a process. So, the pressure comes [event] and we have an opportunity to develop [process word] perseverance. We take this invite and our first event of preserving, begins the much-needed process of becoming mature and complete.
No pain. No Gain, is a deception, mostly borne out of our emotions which are kick in when the going gets tough.
What if the Father has designed events that will trigger a much-needed process, so that our potential grows and meets the demand we are facing. The bridge between our potential and the problem is called pressure. What we do, rep-peatedly in this pressure is who we become!
“Because we know that…….
Perhaps, some of the pain and the pressure we are experiencing at the moment, has been purposely factored in by the Father? Maybe, this is His version of gym time? A divinely inspired opportunity to enter that area of pain that will develop us into champions?
All I know is this – life will bring pressure! Jesus, who I trust the most said so –
“In this world, you will have trouble [word is pressure] but take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33
There are two emphatics in this verse: you will have and I have overcome! And there is one command: take heart which to paraphrase means locate and lock onto your courage. Courage is acting in the face of fear. Jesus is asking us for something in the face of fear; to be courageous and act! Not turn and run! For those who stay and face the pressure, He promises overcoming power. Cf Roms 8:37; Eph 6:10 & Phil 4:13
I am learning to use, and I’m enjoying, lose weights in my home gym. But one of the vital lessons is knowing the signs when you are in that area of pain where if I push through and do two more reps, I will gain what I set out to do: develop muscle and strength.
I am not there yet – turning my bay window [stomach] into Baywatch!
But I am on the bridge called pressure and I know what to do and what lies ahead is a ‘enduring walk of faith’ and I will inherit what’s on the other side of the bridge. See Hebs 6:12
Disciple means disciplined learner and is a definition and dynamic Jesus gives to all who return to the Father through him. It’s also a title that will not be revoked, unless we choose, until we exit life and enter eternal life.
Therefore, we are lifelong learners whose only constant is change!
The biblical word for change is transformation, meaning transform or transfigure and appears only four times. Twice concerning Christ appearance on the mount of transfiguration. See Matt 17:2. And the transformation of the believer into the likeness of Christ, through the renewing of their minds. See 2 cor 3:18 & Roms 12:2.
One of the core changes that needs to happened to all disciples of Christ can be seen in the changing of the name, by Jesus, of Peter. Before Jesus re-named him, he was Simon, meaning reed-like. Peter means rock. His previous name infers he swayed and his latter name infers being solid. The name change was a outworking of an invisible truth – Peter’s substance had transformed. He appeared the same but in his words and actions, he was different. These words and actions would take time to fully develop, he would go on to deny his master, but when Jesus said He was now ‘Rocky.’ He was!
The context of this re-naming is very important –Peter had just received revelation directly from the Father regarding who Jesus was. Immediately, Simon is given a new name and his substance is changed. This dynamic is clearly highlighted in John 1:12 –
to “all who received Him (Jesus, the Word) to those who believe in name (work) he gave them power to become children of God!”
Formulaically – receive + believe = become.
The core of Simon was changed by receiving and believing the released Word of God, and so, he went from being easily swayed to becoming rocky. The biblical word which is also an ongoing process, for this, is stable!
Dynamically, stable means established and strengthen, something or someone, who has become and is becoming. They are fixed and becoming firm, established and strengthen! These works are within a person’s life and primarily refer to the state and condition of their faith and their mind! Col 2:5&23; 2 Pet 3:17
In these verses, the word stability and steadfast are being used and the pictures behind them are – to make stable, place firmly, set fast, fix, a firm foundation. These refer to the state and quality of the heart and mind of the believer, and they are also a litany of what the Spirit desires to continue to do in and through us!
Central to our hearts and minds being and becoming more stable is pressure or testing. When the pressure is on, we are close to an opportunity to become more stable, as James, puts it –
“that you may be complete and mature, not lacking anything.” James 1:4.
‘That you may,’ is the language of someone responding, doing their part and so the principle imparts what it contains. The principle here in James is perseverance which is the expected out working or fruit of a life under a time of testing v3. Verse three begins with an assumption – ‘because you know that’ the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Isn’t that just an annoying word, develops?
I say this sarcastically because I have met many believers who have experience and gone through pressure, testing times, and yet they have not become stable. Quite the opposite actually!
This is due, in part, to a wrong paradigm which is called event-mindedness, that simply believes the event will change them. It will but not for the better, unless they respond to what every event offers: an R.S.V.P. And that, is always to understand and work the process being offered – mature and complete not lacking anything.
If our substance is going to transform we need to have, like Peter, a revelation from the Father. As we respond to that revelation by doing our part, consistently, we will see constancy develop and grow in our hearts and minds, and as a result flow downstream into our lives and contexts!
The process of becoming stable I call gym time or road work and in part two of this blog, I share some thoughts about this necessary discipline. Until then some wise words –
“Champions aren’t made in the ring, they are merely recognised there. What you cheat on in the early light of morning [road work/gym time] will show up in the ring under the bright lights!” Joe Frasier [parentheses mine]
Psalm 112 reveals the benefits of a life that respects and is in awe of Father- God. It also reveals that these benefits are not handed out will-nilly but are the promised consequences of a covenant agreement, entered into by God the Father and His sons and daughters.
The results of respecting and being in awe of Father are what one commentator describes as, “uncommonly profitable,” – uprightness, righteousness, graciousness, compassion, generosity, integrity, steadfastness, benevolence. (the synonyms of these make an inspiring glossary)!
These new attitudes of heart flow down steam into their lives but the individuals consecration also benefits their children – they become influential; mighty in the land, and are empowered to succeed. V2.
As for the individual they prosper – wealth and riches v3, have illumination even in darkness v4, good comes their way v5, they are not shaken v6, they become and remain steadfast and secure v8 and their dignity, symbolised by their horn being lifted up, grows and is acknowledged v 9.
The whole psalm pivots on the understanding the individual holds regarding the word fear. The Psalm seems to have a contradiction within it because it says at the beginning that he, the palmist, fears the Lord and in verses 7&8 it says; he will have no fear?
The fear of vs 7&8 is that classic fear or dread of something bad happening or occurring: Future, Events, Appearing Real! However, in verse one fear is not about dreading or cringing before the Lord but about awe-inspiring respect for who He is and great delight at all He’s said and promised, through His Word!
If we embrace the right kind of fear, as spelt out in verse one and resist the fear of vs 7&8, in all its forms and foes, then all the benefits for us and our children are ours!
This battle is won or lost in the heart which pictures who we be. Who we be, is all about the thoughts we entertain, that become beliefs and the interpretations we make about the experiences we have had. This combination of beliefs and experiences forms who we BE and life begins here and responds accordingly.
The psalmist reveals two attitudes of mind and heart, that have to become daily habits of thought and disciplined responses to all aspects of our life – steadfast and secure!
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes
In simple outline form, we see that –
- fear which is a spirit, trying to gain access to our hearts through bad news!
- Steadfastness is the barrier to fear entering in.
- Steadfastness is rooted in trust
- Steadfastness is also attached & supported by an inner heart security
- In the end, after the season is over (1 Pet 5:10 NKJV) they’ll enjoy the vista called triumph
The battle here is about whose thoughts are authoritative in the individuals heart?
This is a vital dynamic because authority cannot be separated from power. Words contain definition and power and in Hebrew thought and language, thoughts and things share the same word –dabar!
Therefore, as a man thinks in his heart so shall he be. Prov 23:7
Thinks suggests focused thinking, not a passing thought but one consistently visited!
The Holy Spirit, speaking through the psalmist is alerting us to the “battle for the benefits!” To triumph in this battle, securing Father’s benefits for us and our children, we have to consider and answer this vital question –
“Who’s words are authoritative in my life?” Our answer will immediately reveal the power we believe IS available to us, for us and toward the issues within our lives and context.
From the outset, Satan went after the benefits the father had given Adam and Eve -the authority they had over the earth and as a consequence the power that came with it, by using words and presenting thoughts, to their hearts and minds! It is still his number one method.
Steadfast speaks of being erect, firm, stable & established. So, my question is established, stable, firm and erect in what? Secures pictures something being propped up, reinforced or strengthen. Again, I ask the question by what?
The answer is words. His Word.
The battle is over words and who’s are authoritative in our hearts and minds, and therefore in our life and issues!
These authoritative words are our anchor, and Jesus said that the storms of life will come and the house, depicting a life, that stands and remains is the one who hears and practices His Words! Matt 7:24-27. Jesus teaching in a word – anchorage! Cf Eph 3:17; Col 1:23 & Hebs 6:19&20
The benefits are free, already given and part of our inheritance, and yet, there is a price to pay which is the discipline of anchoring ourselves in the Word, Jesus. And in the Words of God which are established in the heavens and are eternal. Ps 119:89
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!