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.
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!
Invitations trigger emotions and require a decision. The Father loves to give invites but they usually come at what we might think are strange times. This pod will shed some light on this Inviting Father!
- Is the season here?
- Is now the time?
The calendar provides us with both the time and the season we are in but it cannot inform us of what season and time we are in as ‘intentional growers!’
Eccl 3:1 tell us – There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
I wonder if it is the season and the time; for a Shammah spirit to rise up within us?
There are not many verses given to this character Father used; nevertheless, there are two verses that reveal his character and spirit, which in turn, may help us, who have decided to become intentional growers.
Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory. 2 Sam 23:11-12
Although not directly mentioned; season and time are within these verses.
- Harvest season – field full of lentils
- Raiding season – Philistines banded together
- Fleeing season – Israel ran away
This narrative as the feel of the magnificent seven about it, I’m humming the tune in my head as I write. I don’t know if Shammah looked liked Yul Brynner but these two characters had the same spirit –
It’s the time and the season to make a stand.
- What have we been putting up with?
- What do we keep fleeing from?
- Who keeps raiding what’s being cultivated?
These questions, if honestly answered, will reveal the season we are in and what it is time for!
I entitled this blog ‘Agri-gression’ because agriculture is about growing stuff and sometimes when we are growing stuff, there are times we need to be aggressive against those who seek to steal the potential within the field!
We are His field. 1 Cor 3:9
These two verses in second Samuel twenty three, give us a glimpse of Satan’s strategy: the thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. Jn 10:10
- The crop within the field was for the benefit of others
- The potential within us is also for the benefit of others
It does not belong to the thief but he will keep taking it, season upon season, time after time, until someone takes a stand and gets aggressive about the loss of potential!
Seasonal and generational Groundhog Day will continue until the ‘Shammah’s show up!
The Father wanted to break this seasonal and potentially generational habit within His people, all He needed was someone who was fed up with the status quo and had the courage to make a stand. These were on Shammah’s CV, he offered them and Father did the rest: and the Lord brought about a great victory.
There is a time for ‘Agri-gression, a time to go on the offensive regarding the potential we have been given by our Father but if we still need to be persuaded; then think about these amazing words from Dr Miles Munroe * –
The destruction of a seed is in essence the termination of a forest!
- Satan fears the potential Father has given us
- He knows the results that come from a life that yields itself to Father’s power
All stories have a villain who continues in his ways, until someone puts him in his place and therein changes the plot and storyline. Shammah had come to the place of saying enough is enough and he made a stand.
Are we there?
My Father speaks to me through many things and recently it was through a familiar track from the 1979 Mod revival. I took part in this revival even buying a demob suit (green) from Flittermans for a few quid. (At the time thought I looked cool!!)
The track was ‘Time for Action, the band Secret Affair, it became an anthem.
- It was great song
- It contained a great thought
- I knew what Father was saying – It’s time for action!
Is it time for us to act against anything that is trying to take what we are growing and cultivating?
Our potential IS a battleground as well as a producing field
Is it time for aggression, forceful action but not against people, for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Eph 6:12 but against mindsets, attitudes, strongholds, generational passivity etc…
Passivity is an ineffective pest control. See Proverbs 24:30-34
The expression on Lego Shammah’s face says it all –
- The season is here!
- It’s now time for action!
*Page five Maximising Your Potential
Sir Edmund Hillary made several attempts at climbing Everest before he succeeded. After one attempt he stood at the base of the giant mountain and shook his fist at it –
“I’ll defeat you yet,” he said in defiance. “Because you’re as big as you’re going to get – but I’m still growing
- I’m still growing!
- Question; are we?
Growth can be biological, facial, to do with abs and stomachs. We can grow in confidence, knowledge, skills, learning. We can grow a life, friendship, business, a marriage.
We all grow something, which grows or hinders everything else – habits!
- From everything Father has given life to, He expects growth. See Luke 13:6-9
- To recieve life and not grow is a ‘creation violation.’
- The Divine Manufacture sees growth not as an optional extra but fitted as standard!
- It’s in there and he expects us to utilise it.
To utilise means we make use of, or harness what’s there, we proactively make the decision to apply what is at our disposal and kick start the growth process.
In Luke 13:6-9 the Father, pictured as the vineyard owner, gives us the ‘heads up’ on the growth process –
- Proven material
- Time & Expectation
The Father is described as a vineyard owner, one who is looking for an end result from the investment of His time, resources and effort. These three energies and abilities, that we all have, are the ‘Growth Trinity!’ When these three are combined we release a strength that is not easily broken. See Ecclesiastes 4:12.
- All investments yield a return
- So, what are we investing our time, resources & efforts on or towards?
- Do we need to cash some investments in because they are hindering our growth?
The vineyard owning Father is not happy; in fact He has had enough. He is fed up of not seeing any growth on the plant that He owns and has been literally pouring His resources into for the last three years!
- Are there key people around us who are a little exasperated with our lack of growth?
- Are we exasperated with another’s lack of growth?
- Are we personally fed up with an unproductive area of our lives?
The vineyard owner is in evaluation mode and after His appraisal; He decides on a course of action and sets a time frame.
- If we don’t evaluate we will stagnate
- Stagnant places always yield results
This is real bottom line thinking from Jesus, about His Father and it may be a disturbing picture but it underlines the value and priority Father places on growth.
Winners never quit and quitters never win is simply not true. If we are to win through to growth, to feel the tape across our chest, we are going to have to quit some stuff. The manager of the vineyard implements a plan and the first part is Removal! He digs around the base, agitates and disturbs the soil and this is the preparation for the next stage which is application!
- What has accumulated in our minds and hearts that might need to be removed?
- Does the thought of change, produce agitation in us?
- If so, it might be a sign of the Father’s ‘Divine Fork’ going in!
Doing the same things but expecting different results is quit frankly; barmy! To grow we need to remove stuff – thoughts, attitudes, perspectives, habits!
We need to make room for some fertilizer!
The word is dunged. Nice! The Father will use even unsightly and smelly stuff, to bring enrichment to our lives, these are usually problems. Problems and potential are partners that many misunderstand and yet problems can be the ‘fertiliser’ that can kick start new growth and fruit.
Fertiliser can also be ‘proven material.’ The Father has helped many to grow before us and these growers have left insights and wisdom: proven material, for us to learn from. Wisdom is released when knowledge and learning are applied in given contexts. Father’s wisdom ‘calls out and raises her voice’ in some vital areas of the journey of life – heights, crossroads, entrances. Proverbs 8:1-3
If we are taking steps one through three then we will arrive at four – time and expectation!
Growth takes time and if we are implementing the growth trinity, then we should expect results because we have triggered a due process, which will lead to a due season of new growth and fruit. The Father who has set in place the process of growth has also determined the time of the harvest.
All the time we are waiting we should continually expect results, harvest, and fruit!
We can keep growing or we can remain the same, these are the choices available to us, and both can become habits.
Sir Edmund kept growing; eventually reaching his summit and conquering his Everest.
I don’t know what you might be facing or how mountainous it may seem but can I encourage you to keep growing, remove from your thinking what is hindering growth, apply proven material, give yourself time, whilst expecting the harvest you are cultivating.
Love and respect to all who are struggling and growing!