David was honoured for his decision to allow God to search and try his heart, even when the going got rough and David went walkabout! His son would learn, in some way, from his father’s struggles with his heart and would come to this understanding –
“above all else, guard your heart. Prov 4:23
The state and condition of the heart cannot be separated from the state and condition of our lives, after all, the reason Solomon and the Holy Spirit were so adamant about guarding our hearts is this: that’s where the issues of life spring from. Prov 4:23. This final blog on God as a committed and highly proficient cardiologist, concerns guarding against developing a double heart Ps 12:2 and an unbelieving heart Hebs 3:12
A Double Heart. Ps 12:2
The word double here literally translates as ‘a heart and a heart!’ What David has learnt from his experiences with Saul and his own son Absalom, he pens here. His hard-learnt advice is – watch out for deceiving and flattering words because they reveal a double heart. Saul used lies and deception in his attack against David and David’s son used flattery to influence people against his father. A heart and a heart, a double heart, speaks of a person who is saying one thing but internally they hold an entirely different sentiment or attitude. See Prov 23:7
A prime example of this is reality TV!
Seven Psalms later David would write these words – may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Ps 19:14
may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Ps 19:14
Contemporary words for this double heart condition would be incongruence or lack of integrity.
An Unbelieving Heart. Hebs 3:12
Context is king, and the context of Hebrews 3 is important to what an unbelieving heart is, and it is all about not responding in faith!
Hebrews 3 is a summary of servants who hear the Holy Spirit speaking and, act accordingly in faith and accomplish what the Father is commanding. The servants in this chapter are Jesus vs 1-6, Moses vs 3-5, the Founding Father’s generation vs 8-11 and the present generation of covenant servants! Vs 12-19
The overarching narrative of God to all these servants has three parts to it – out of Egypt, through the wilderness and into the promised land and the umbrella word for this in the New Testament is salvation. At the core of this epic journey is the leadership of the Holy Spirit, seen through the pillar of fire and cloud, the ark of the covenant and leaders!
In this summary chapter of their Exodus journey the Holy Spirit speaks and some of the servants are described as having an evil unbelieving heart which one commentator describes as a ‘lack of confidence in God!’ Review the Exodus generation’s journey and you’ll see that God asks some pretty big stuff of them but always He backs it up with a re-occurring promise –
“I will be with you! The classic example is the twelve spies. See Numbers 13.
The journey of salvation always includes crossing boundaries or borders! When the people of God left Egypt, it is implied that they are headed to another boundary or border. At these border crossings, there are attended guards – fear and discouragement. See Joshua 1:8&9. All God asks is that we trust Him and enter in, no matter what or whom might be in the way. Ten spies gripped by fear and having no confidence in God’s promise shrank back and spread their contagion throughout their tents. See Number 13:31-33
Only Caleb and Joshua had a believing heart, and they and their kin went and saw the provision of God in the next part of their salvation journey. David understood that he would face border and crossing-over opportunities –
“the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Ps 16:6
So, lets us continually guard our heart, so we are ready for those boundaries, crossing over moments and, to especially guard them if we successfully negotiate the crossing over point! Read Deut 8
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.
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!
One of Satan’s favourite weapons against the masculine soul is intimidation. The sole purpose of intimidation is found within itself – timid.
To overwhelm the masculine soul with a sense of timidity. Of perceiving and feeling the difference within you with regard to who or what you are facing. To stir up feelings of inferiority and inadequacy.
One man who the Father chose to raise, train and discipline was David and he had many opportunities to be intimidated but only once was he defeated by it.
Have you ever had the experience of standing in a crowd as two captains pick their teams. Your hope and prayer is that you’ll be pick first and you won’t be picked last. This was my first major time with the spirit of intimidation.
It’s important to remember that intimidation is a spirit. After all, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Intimidation will come through flesh and blood but its real source is from beyond.
David had a moment when he realised that there’d been a ‘pick a king moment’ and he was not even considered for the short list. A list compiled by his own Father.
How’s that for major league intimidation! Not even your father thinks you have what it takes.
In fairness to Samuel, this was his first time at interviewing for a King. As Jesse brought all his sons, minus David, Samuel said “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands before me?” Father answers his question – Nope. Not him. Not Eliab!
What happened next I am sure put Samuel in a sweat. He watches as all of Jesse’s other sons are paraded and rejected by God. Whoops!
Samuel asks an obvious question – is this all your sons? Jesse’s reply is insightful. There is still the youngest!
The word for youngest is haqqaton, describing not only age but rank. David is the little brother. The last one in the line but according to the mind of the Father, the first and only one on His list to fill the vacancy
I was never chosen first or last, when the captains where making up their minds but I do know what the intimidation of your dad not thinking you have what it takes, feels like.
It casts a long shadow!
From this moment David’s life begins to change and he faces many more intimidating times. When Satan knows that the Father has chosen another son to raise, train and discipline and take their predetermined place within His epic story.
He will try to intimidate the life and potential out of that son, all the way through the journey.
As stated, David had many but his most well-known one was facing the champion of Gath Goliath. Just before David enters the valley and they get into it, Satan attempts three times to intimidate Father’s chosen masculine soul of the moment.
Satan often tries to use those closest to you and he sifts David’s oldest brother Eilab –
“When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”” 1 Samuel 17:28 NIV
Two questions and two statements designed to intimidate David.
I love David’s response: “Now what have I done!” And he turned his back on his brother! David turned his back on both his brother’s opinion.
Coincidentally, what had Eliab been doing for 40 days but watching Goliath and doing nothing! Huh!
Attempt No 2. Saul wants David to look like him from a distance!
Years ago when playing football there were a few lads who had all the gear, even the latest Georgie Best boots with bright red linings. Some of these lads were really good footballs, others were empty shirts!
David was a warrior, he’d been waging war against the bear and the lion, protecting the sheep in his care!
He wasn’t a lookalike he was the real deal!
“David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.” 1 Samuel 17:39 NIV
This is not me and so he took them off!
Another great and prompt response to the spirit of intimidation.
Attempt No 3 Water!
“Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.”
1 Samuel 17:40 NIV
There was a moment, just a moment when David would have caught sight of himself in the reflection of the water of the stream.
He could have paused and thought about who he was and what he was facing. He didn’t. He broke any false reflection of himself, any fear based fiery dart thought by thrusting his hands through and onto his stock choice of weapon – a stone!
It was a moment the enemy could have used to put him in pause.
To get him look at who he was, where he’d come from and what people thought of him.
David’s hand breaks through the water and demolish any attempt at passing on an old reflection.
David was not a captive to his past and its opinions by endless reflection.David was compelled by who his Father was and where he was taking him.
David’s focus was not on who was waiting for him in the valley:Goliath.But who was waiting upon him in the valley His God!
David’s hand broke up the reflection and released the pebble and he knew his God would do the rest.
David knew this public gigantic moment was very similar in kind to his private moments of killing bears and lions.
We need to have private victories that precede and prepare us for public ones!
Intimidation has to be dealt with otherwise our masculine soul stays on the side watching the action and forfeiting the benefits of victory. See 1 Sam 17:25.