‘No pain. No Gain.’ Is simply not true! Many times, in my personal life and pastoral ministry I have experience and seen pain, that has not led to gain. This is in part due to the deception called event-mindedness which says that just experiencing pressure and pain will lead to gain. It will not!
Some learnt wisdom from Arnie –
“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll go through the pain no matter what happens.” Arnold Schwarzenegger
“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow,” Boom!
It’s not just experiencing the pain that leads to gain, it is what we do within the pain, that leads to growth. Not just physical muscle but mental, emotional and spiritual muscle. As we push, rep-eatedly, against the weight we submit to a process and resist the cry of our emotions to quit and go back to comfort!
The word for suffering in Roms 5:3 is pressure and the writer says that pressure produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope, which does not disappoint because it is attached to the love Father has already poured into our hearts, who we be! On the surface, this scripture seems to support event-mindedness. However, the best interpreter of scripture is scripture. So, let’s bring James 1:2-4 alongside, to build the complete thought –
“consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials [pressure] of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Because you know that testing [pressure] develops perseverance! Do we know this? As a revelation and a principle, do we get this? These verses are a great synopsis of what an event leads to, which is always an invitation to work a process. So, the pressure comes [event] and we have an opportunity to develop [process word] perseverance. We take this invite and our first event of preserving, begins the much-needed process of becoming mature and complete.
No pain. No Gain, is a deception, mostly borne out of our emotions which are kick in when the going gets tough.
What if the Father has designed events that will trigger a much-needed process, so that our potential grows and meets the demand we are facing. The bridge between our potential and the problem is called pressure. What we do, rep-peatedly in this pressure is who we become!
“Because we know that…….
Perhaps, some of the pain and the pressure we are experiencing at the moment, has been purposely factored in by the Father? Maybe, this is His version of gym time? A divinely inspired opportunity to enter that area of pain that will develop us into champions?
All I know is this – life will bring pressure! Jesus, who I trust the most said so –
“In this world, you will have trouble [word is pressure] but take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33
There are two emphatics in this verse: you will have and I have overcome! And there is one command: take heart which to paraphrase means locate and lock onto your courage. Courage is acting in the face of fear. Jesus is asking us for something in the face of fear; to be courageous and act! Not turn and run! For those who stay and face the pressure, He promises overcoming power. Cf Roms 8:37; Eph 6:10 & Phil 4:13
I am learning to use, and I’m enjoying, lose weights in my home gym. But one of the vital lessons is knowing the signs when you are in that area of pain where if I push through and do two more reps, I will gain what I set out to do: develop muscle and strength.
I am not there yet – turning my bay window [stomach] into Baywatch!
But I am on the bridge called pressure and I know what to do and what lies ahead is a ‘enduring walk of faith’ and I will inherit what’s on the other side of the bridge. See Hebs 6:12
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!