This post is not about taking the law into our own hands but at the heart of the dynamic of a vigilante is a sense that something has to change and someone should do something about it. Their frustration with the ruling authority’s inability or reluctance to act drives them to action. These thoughts are all contained within the 23rd verse of Proverbs 4 –
“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts!” The Message
The ruling authority, God, is informing us that He is not going to do what only we can do – it’s ‘our heart!’
The short three-word sentence; keep vigilant watch, translates this way –
keep with more vigilance than you would use for anything else. Barnes commentary.
The NIV puts it this way – “above all else!”
The number one priority and discipline is to guard our heart as if it were the most valuable resource, commodity or treasure. The language of this verse seems over the top but actually, it is the language of a very concerned Father, who is seeking to help a beloved child, as they take their place in this world. Chapter four starts with this counsel – listen and pay attention to a father’s instruction. God as our Father, is trying to get us in the loop and see what’s vital and important, as we start out into adulthood – Guard your heart.
The last part of the verse – for that’s where life starts, carries the idea of the fountainhead or spring, i.e. the starting point of a river. Just as the spring of a river has its starting point deep within the ground, so too does the ‘downstream of our lives!’ The state and condition of the river are directly affected by the state and condition of the source, that is the spring. Making sure the spring was fenced off and protected from debris and dead animals would result in the downstream river quality being at its best. So, it is with the heart!
I have learnt, the hard way, that I cannot change me or my circumstances without first making the effort to go to the source and see if I have allowed anything in into my heart, that is directly affecting what it is I am seeking to change. This is vitally important because if I take new actions but still hold the same heart attitude, eventually my heart will win and my actions will wane and I will be discouraged.
Life, literally in the Hebrew, means boundaries and they are set within our heart and so, real transformations have to begin in the heart!
The context of verse 23 is from verse 20 to 25 and contains hints and warnings about how debris and death will try to get into the heart, so as to affect the downstream –
- Ears – Pay attention, to what it is our ears are listening closely to v 20
- Eyes – The words we continually focus on will get into our hearts
- His Words are life & health to our downstream life v 22
- Lips – put & keep far away perverse & corrupt speech v 24
God, as ruling authority, as our Father, is letting us into how He set up the system and informing us of our part. How vigilant we are, is our decision because love does not insist on its own way. However, love desires the best for us and as a father, He is not a passive observer regarding our life. Therefore, He will try to influence us for good and for change.
His influence centres around the event that lead to the ongoing discipline called self-discipline. The event is to show and reveal any perceptions, thoughts & attitudes that are in our heart. The saying is often true: the way we see the problem is the problem! Biblical transformation begins and only happens by the entire renewal of the mind. Roms 12:2.
After event number one comes to the ongoing process which will regularly lead to more of event number ones, and that is self-discipline or self-control. This is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and He longs to help us through this ongoing event and process of transformation.
When the spring that’s producing our downstream is cleared of debris and death, the water and flow of our lives will run clearer.
It is a wonderful thing to be led back to the double take in the margins which was written in your own hand.
It’s one of the great joys of the Holy Spirit to double take us, get our attention and lead us into truth.
I know that when He is engaging me in this process I will experience more freedom and liberty in my soul, mind, emotions and then down stream into my life and contexts! I am learning to honour these moments with my full attention.
Pay attention is all the way through both the book of proverbs and my school days!
What did I write in the margin? Wow and appropriate.
These were in response to an amazingly succinct sentence written by Alec Motyer in his commentary on Philippians –
“As we become in experience what we already are by grace!”
As we become in experience is the language of appropriation and this is a lost spiritual discipline. This discipline empowers and enables us to become in our day to day what we are already, the day we reunited with His grace.
” yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name He gave the right to become children of God.” Jn 1:12 NIV
He gave the right are vital words to grasp in relation to the dynamic of appropriation.
The use of appropriate in our culture is predominately about taking what you have no permission or authority to take.
It’s not yours so you cannot take, use or appropriate it!
The Father gave permission and authority to ALL who received and believed His Son and His work, to make their own, ALL He has given us in Christ.
Who we are. What we been given. What we can do.
Identifying with His work is the beginning but not the end of our journey back to Father.
Making real to our experience and contexts, all He has done, given and commanded is!
And the shorthand for that is appropriation
We cannot be more connected, loved, empowered, resourced, protected and thought of because we are in Christ and seated at the right hand of Father.
We have the best seat in the house. This is hospitality beyond five star.
These and many more truths are a part of being in Christ and yet for many the reality of their day to day is anything but!
Every time I eat the appropriate nutrition, take in the appropriate hydration and lift the appropriate weights I appropriate to my body, life and world what is there but needs to become visible!
The Holy Spirit’s primary role after conferring on us the spirit of sonship (adoption) is to testify or witness to our spirits that we are children, heirs and co-heirs!
He double takes us, show us the truth that’s already been given and reveals to us the principles we need to work to make His finished work a reality in our day to day.
I call this my ‘road work!’ My punch the clock workouts!
The only work that made me worthy and deserving of His grace has been done. My ‘road work’ empowers me to become in experience what I already am by grace.
To make visible what is invisible at the moment!
To bring from His dimension into my dimension.
To use theological language justification is all gift. Sanctification is graft!
I am three weeks into a lifestyle change. I say lifestyle change not diet because diet infers an end date, whereas lifestyle change; well…!
As part of my prep, I have read and am re-reading my notes, from Bigger, Leaner, Stronger by Michael Matthews. An excellent, challenging, informative and empowering read.
This book has reminded me of the power of the immutable law of combination that my Father has put in place and also the mantra – principles work if you work the principles! To which I would add the importance of finding and understanding the principles.
In the past, I have not bottomed this rule and acted but not with a full enough understanding, so my application did not bring transformation!
The science underpinning the gains that can be experienced post weight training has really captured my imagination and heart and has me saying over and over again – “that’s how He is!
His grace always gives us more than we can imagine or ask. Eph 3:20
This principle is at the core of His character and one example of it is found in Luke 6:38 –
“Give and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.””Luke 6:38 NET
The measure you use, not hold, He will use to measure back to you…..but
Pressed down, shaken together, running over!
The picture of The Father in this interaction of measure and measuring back reveals how committed He is to the law of return.
Three times He adds to the measure, pressing and shaking until every part of the measure is full and as a result begins to over flow!
He keeps working after we have used the measure, making sure we have the return on our effort.
The science supporting proteolysis is ‘so how He is,’ and in some clinical test where a post infusion of amino acid mixture was given, they saw increases of between 30 – 100% of protein synthesis! Cf Mark 4:20
The stats regarding carbs post training is also indicative of who He is. A carb post meal workout resulted in elevation of insulin levels that were still working 2 – 5hrs after all the effort of the sets and reps!
Father does not help those who help themselves.
He honours those who work the principles He’s put in place and to those who acknowledge and honour him He makes a greater promise –
“I will do exceedingly abundantly above all you can imagine of ask, according to the power that’s at work within you. Eph 3:20
The exceeding abundance of the Father is waiting to be draw upon or downloaded.
He’s waiting for someone to set the bar and beginning repping with it!
Father is a ‘filler!’
A re-read of Genesis 1&2 reveals that He fills all He creates – the sea, land, plants, us!
I love the phrase describing the sea – it was teeming with life.
Father is draw to emptiness. He desires to bring His life to empty spaces.
There is a space that He particularly desires to fill that is often overlooked and misunderstood: unconscious incompetence.
This can be defined as not being aware that I don’t know what I need to know!
Father is clear about a lack of knowledge – it’s a dangerous place.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Hos 4:6 NKJV
When I become aware that I don’t know, what I need to know, this can become a sacred place. Father invites us into this space and holds His breathe to see if we will RSVP and enter?
As men, when we lack info, knowledge, experience, skill, we have a number of choices – blag it, ignore it or humble ourselves and ask for help.
I don’t know, what I don’t know, is a core obstacle to learning, development & transformation.
All great teachers are aware of the space that learners have to enter and remain in until they’ve received the info, experience, knowledge or skill they need.
Blaggers hate this space and time but learners positively love it.
Learning lies at the heart of Christianity because Jesus defined everyone who followed Him as a disciple. Disciple means ‘disciplined learner’ and we have this label until we see Him face to face.
I am therefore a lifelong learner!
Right at the front end of His earthly ministry, the Father took His Son into a sacred space for a specific reason.
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into a stark, dangerous and potentially deadly place. See Luke 4:1. Jesus was tested and His humanity was put under great pressure. What He’d been acquiring for around 30yrs, (see Lk 2:52) He now began to apply.
The contrast between how He went into this sacred space and how He came out is remarkable.
He went in full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) and came out in the power of the Spirit (v 14).
This was a test and He passed it with flying colours!
The verses in the Bible that give me the most trouble are the ones I understand! Take this one –
He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. Roms 8:29 The Message.
“Along the same lines as the Son!”
The Holy Spirit wants to lead me into a thought through place, so I can apply what He’s be teaching me, realise and release the potential He has given me and have new experiences to learn from!
If we RSVP to the Spirit’s leading, we can be sure that we will enter the sacred space one way and come out completely different.
We will return with new power; His super on our natural and with renewed confidence and increased enthusiasm.
Let’s face it, He created us men to take stuff on and with His power win some battles.
Father desires to empower us so we become acquirers of knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
“Wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have get understanding. Prov 4:7
There is a cost and a price attached to learning which is more than monetary.
We have to admit, enter the space and find what we lack.
Humility is the prerequisite to learning and Father always gives grace to the humble. 1 Pet 5:5
He does not intend to leave us as mere acquirers. He wants to take us into that sacred space so we can apply what He’s been showing us, mature and mark that place with His grace!
It will cost us but sacrifice lies at the heart of biblical masculinity.
I am learning to love those times when He leads me to this unconscious incompetence space. I know that this is a sacred space and a divine appointment and I will become aware of what I don’t know or what I’ve been given but am not using!
At these times, Father is setting me up for a new revelation, insight or experience that will empower me to transform and to move up, move out or move into!
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever. 1 Cor 9:25
Don’t you just hate the word ‘everyone!’
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. v 27
I want to be the champion!
No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
A walker as he entered a new village asked a question of an old man leaning on the village sign: “Any great people been born here? Nope, said the old man. Only babies!!!
‘Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:32
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is under age, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. Gal 4:1
You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:2a-3
For Abraham is was over twenty yearsFor Joseph around seventeenFor David over twentyFor Mary around sixteenEven Jesus had around thirty years!
Daniel outshone all the ministers and satraps because an extraordinary spirit was in him, and the king considered setting him over the entire kingdom. Dan 6:3 NASB
He outshone the competition!
Is grace dormant in us?Is grace buried under the soil of our wrong motives?what’s our attitude to road work and rituals?
It’s not rituals vs rewards but ritual equals rewards!
All living things grow and change and so our Father has expectations that we as men will do the same. If we have a pulse, then it’s not over! Growth and change are still expect. Before we attempt to grow or change it is vital we check our paradigm, which acts like an internal map. This pod will shed some light on this subject. Enjoy