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!
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!