In 2016 me and my wife Dawn were over in San Francisco waiting for our first grandson to make an appearance. We decided to wait by visiting the Grand Canyon – what a place and what an experience! This was one of those times when the use of the word awesome was appropriate but inadequate!
This visit has helped me recently regarding a new discipline I am learning which I’ve called – ‘Echoes from the Psalms!’ The Canyon had some brilliant echo points and to my amazement so too do the Psalms! The difference between the Grand Canyon echoes and the echoes from the Psalms is this –
It is another voice that comes back to me through the Psalms and not my own.
That voice, through the Psalms, is the Father’s and it will resonate with where we are, how it is and how we might respond to the situation we are in! When we take this new ‘echo’ and through the discipline of meditation, implant it into our hearts, it will strengthen and empower us to persevere and overcome.
Here are the steps I have learnt and am applying about this wonderful truth and discipline –
- Bring the issue we are struggling with and honestly name it before God.
- Start to read the Psalms with an expectation of hearing His echo!
- Continue to read the Psalms until you hear His Echo!
- Take the verse or verses and read these again, in different versions.
- Keep reading until you see the word, image or thought, the Father is releasing to you!
- Repent of any thoughts that are contrary to what He is showing you.
- Then take this new thought and implant it into the soil of your heart which will produce the fruit contained within His echo!
- Every day and throughout the day say what His echo is saying!
Confessing is coming into agreement with what He has said. Faith also comes by hearing the Word of Christ. Roms 10:17
An often-used word throughout the Psalms is Selah.
Selah means to – ‘pause and calmly think about that, in His presence!’
There is nothing off limits to Him concerning our lives and He desires to empower every aspect of our life. My final thought about this Echo from the Psalms is taken from studying angel Gabriel’s words to Mary in Luke 1:37b –
For nothing is impossible with God.
The word nothing is actually made up of two words: no and thing. The word for thing is Rhema. Rhema is God’s now word which comes out of His said (logos) or written word.
Jack Taylor sums it up well –
“No, freshly spoken Word of God will ever come to you, that does not contain in itself the ability to perform itself.”
The Echo from the Father which is His now Word will have the power within itself, to perform and deliver what is being promised. All we have to do is implant it within our hearts. This implanting is vital because James 1:21 says – “it is the implanted word that is able to save us! “ The word able means –
“a word whose property it is to root itself like a seed in the heart.”
The power and capacity of His ‘seed Word’ needs the soil of our hearts. When His Word is in our hearts it is able to produce a thirty, sixty or hundredfold harvest. Mark 4:20
So, don’t let any issue boom around in your hearts and minds. Go to the Psalms, hear His echo, follow the above steps and begin to see the issues, your life and your contexts change.
One of the greatest deceptions the masculine soul has to deal with is – self-reliance and one of its greatest fears is indebtedness. However, by design, God the Father has placed within the masculine heart and soul, the need to live in and from, what I call ‘blessed Indebtedness!’
The law of the first mention, reveals to us the core dynamic of the word blessed –
“God blessed them and said…Gen 1:28.
In the beginning, God gave His man and woman the ability to function in and achieve the commands He would give. The Father gives His sons and daughters the Capacity to fulfil His Command and the Power to function in His Purpose(s)! Cf Gen 1:28 & Phil 2:13.
Most people when they think about indebtedness automatically think of owing money, i.e. being in debt which means we owe something to someone and they expect us to pay up! However, exploring the dynamics of indebtedness and coupling them to the dynamics of Blessed is potentially a life-changing revelation!
There are three words and three dynamics that lay at the core of indebtedness – acknowledgement; mutuality and gratitude. These three words and dynamics take on more meaning when we bring them alongside the three levels of life the Father has designed for all those He has created – Dependence, Independence & Inter-dependence.
Dependence was everyone’s entry-level, we then we move into Independence which feels so freeing that we can think we have arrived as a person. However, the highest level of life, set by The Father and the one that brings most joy and fulfilment, is Inter-dependence.
We begin in reliance, move to self-reliance but the question is, have we moved to inter-reliance?
Inter means between or among and so inter-reliance speaks of reliance being rooted not in self alone but in relation to another.
In the beginning, Adam was described as being alone (Gen 2:18) but not defined as being lonely! After all, he had the community of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit!
Adam was not designed to do life on his own and this might shock but also, not just with God alone!
He needed a suitable and comparable helper in the earth. He needed Eve. Eve did not finish or complete Adam because he was perfect. Eve empowered Adam to live and function, on the Father’s highest level – Inter-dependence, and vice versa!
Inter-dependence is the Father’s strategy for His Kingdom to come through His people, into the earth and then fill the earth with the realities of His Kingdom. The Father entrusts the responsibility and authority of His Kingdom to an inter-dependent team. He then brings them into a unity of heart, mind and purpose and through these qualities He releases the power to achieve the impossible. Gen 1:26-28 & Gen 11:6
All three of the words of indebtedness – acknowledgement, mutuality and gratitude, are within Adam’s words of response to The Father’s giving of Eve into his world –
The man said, “this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man.”
Satan attacked The Father’s team, Adam and Eve seeking to divide and conquer them so that he could use their authority and power against them and then fill the earth with his agenda. John 10:9
When the Last Adam came which was Jesus, Satan attacked The Father’s new team – the twelve. The greatest demand and source of frustration in Jesus’s earthly ministry were the twelve; who were slow to learn, eager for the best seats and struggled to do life – inter-dependently!
Jesus deliberately chose a Jewish Zealot and a Tax collector to be on His team.
These two polar opposites eventually came to the revelation that they needed each other and the other ten! So, an inter-dependent team was in place, united in heart, mind and purpose, all they needed now was the power. At Pentecost, they received that needed power!
The Father of the Kingdom has hidden two further revelations within the revelation that is inter-dependence –
- The Impossible. See Gen 11: 3-7 esp v 6
- The Saturation Anointing. The eg’s of Aaron & Mount Zion are the results of v 1
I desire to see and experience the saturation anointing, that leads to the impossible becoming possible and tangible in my life. Therefore, I have to renounce forever self-reliance, independence and isolationism and ask The Father to lead me to my polar opposites. I know it will take a work of grace within me and within them but there are no shortcuts to the saturation anointing and to seeing the impossible entering and changing the earth!
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.
Cardiology is the medical study of the structure, function and disorders of the heart. In this mini-series of four blogs I want to share some thoughts around the importance of the heart, as revealed in scripture. The state of our hearts, is right up there as a subject matter to our Father, in fact it is His number one subject – above all else, guard your heart! Prov 4:23.
God the Father is a committed and highly proficient cardiologist!
The heart has the ability to have affections, to think, to guide and set our life’s boundaries. It also has an overflow; the mouth which in turn has the power of life and death attached to it, namely the tongue.
The heart is so strategic to all of life, we are commanded to guard it, (Prov 4:23) as if it contained the crown jewels. The thought behind the word is to show vigilance more than over anything else we have or own. One commentator refers to it as the master-controller!
One man in Scripture understood this and that was David. He was after all, described as a man after God’s own heart! Acts 13:22. This king, warrior and minstrel penned these words –
“search me O God and know my heart…Ps 139:23”
David had the confidence, prior to Christ and Calvary’s grace, to ask God to know his heart. This is high level trust and a little risky but is the kind of prayer Father loves and will answer. David was asking His God and creator to know his heart through observing, experiencing and reflecting. All of these are the core dynamics of what the word know depicts. David was also saying “let me in,” on your observations, experiences and reflections.
For David, there were two aspects of his heart that he wanted His Father’s feedback on – the thoughts and the ways within his heart and that through these reflections Father would lead him in the way everlasting. This word everlasting means the old path and is made of two words that differ slightly. One means the right way, the way a man should go and the other, the way a man goes by habit. David’s son would learn this from his father and his own experiences –
“there is a way that seems right to man but its end is the way of death. “Prov 16:25
Here’s my attempt at paraphrasing David’s request from within this verse Ps 139:23
“I want you God to test through observation and experiences the thoughts and ways within my heart and reflect back to me, any habits that are not leading me in the well-established path of life which is Your desire for me!”
David’s prayer would be answered, numerous times and some of these were not good feedback but every time God spoke into David’s life about the state and condition of his heart, David responded with humility, transparency and faith! It is for this reason I believe God defined David as a man after my own heart, who will do my will.
David was far from perfect, however, he always, apart from sixteen months of complete madness, went after and stayed after God’s heart! Like David I have prayed his prayer and invited God to search and try my heart and give me feedback because I want what David had and I can only have that, if I do what he did!
God is a proficient cardiologist understanding the hearts structure and function like no other, he designed it but He also knows the disorders of the heart and these fall into six categories –
- unclean heart Ps 51:10
- proud heart Prov 21:4
- hard heart Prov 28:14
- cold heart Matt 24:12
- double heart Ps 12:2
- unbelieving heart Heb 3:12
The beginning of the answer to that part of us described as deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jer 17:9 NIV Is to humble asks God to do in us what He did in David – search me and try me and give me feedback!
The next three blogs I’ll take two disorders from the list and share some thoughts.