Disciple means disciplined learner and is a definition and dynamic Jesus gives to all who return to the Father through him. It’s also a title that will not be revoked, unless we choose, until we exit life and enter eternal life.
Therefore, we are lifelong learners whose only constant is change!
The biblical word for change is transformation, meaning transform or transfigure and appears only four times. Twice concerning Christ appearance on the mount of transfiguration. See Matt 17:2. And the transformation of the believer into the likeness of Christ, through the renewing of their minds. See 2 cor 3:18 & Roms 12:2.
One of the core changes that needs to happened to all disciples of Christ can be seen in the changing of the name, by Jesus, of Peter. Before Jesus re-named him, he was Simon, meaning reed-like. Peter means rock. His previous name infers he swayed and his latter name infers being solid. The name change was a outworking of an invisible truth – Peter’s substance had transformed. He appeared the same but in his words and actions, he was different. These words and actions would take time to fully develop, he would go on to deny his master, but when Jesus said He was now ‘Rocky.’ He was!
The context of this re-naming is very important –Peter had just received revelation directly from the Father regarding who Jesus was. Immediately, Simon is given a new name and his substance is changed. This dynamic is clearly highlighted in John 1:12 –
to “all who received Him (Jesus, the Word) to those who believe in name (work) he gave them power to become children of God!”
Formulaically – receive + believe = become.
The core of Simon was changed by receiving and believing the released Word of God, and so, he went from being easily swayed to becoming rocky. The biblical word which is also an ongoing process, for this, is stable!
Dynamically, stable means established and strengthen, something or someone, who has become and is becoming. They are fixed and becoming firm, established and strengthen! These works are within a person’s life and primarily refer to the state and condition of their faith and their mind! Col 2:5&23; 2 Pet 3:17
In these verses, the word stability and steadfast are being used and the pictures behind them are – to make stable, place firmly, set fast, fix, a firm foundation. These refer to the state and quality of the heart and mind of the believer, and they are also a litany of what the Spirit desires to continue to do in and through us!
Central to our hearts and minds being and becoming more stable is pressure or testing. When the pressure is on, we are close to an opportunity to become more stable, as James, puts it –
“that you may be complete and mature, not lacking anything.” James 1:4.
‘That you may,’ is the language of someone responding, doing their part and so the principle imparts what it contains. The principle here in James is perseverance which is the expected out working or fruit of a life under a time of testing v3. Verse three begins with an assumption – ‘because you know that’ the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Isn’t that just an annoying word, develops?
I say this sarcastically because I have met many believers who have experience and gone through pressure, testing times, and yet they have not become stable. Quite the opposite actually!
This is due, in part, to a wrong paradigm which is called event-mindedness, that simply believes the event will change them. It will but not for the better, unless they respond to what every event offers: an R.S.V.P. And that, is always to understand and work the process being offered – mature and complete not lacking anything.
If our substance is going to transform we need to have, like Peter, a revelation from the Father. As we respond to that revelation by doing our part, consistently, we will see constancy develop and grow in our hearts and minds, and as a result flow downstream into our lives and contexts!
The process of becoming stable I call gym time or road work and in part two of this blog, I share some thoughts about this necessary discipline. Until then some wise words –
“Champions aren’t made in the ring, they are merely recognised there. What you cheat on in the early light of morning [road work/gym time] will show up in the ring under the bright lights!” Joe Frasier [parentheses mine]
If you’re expecting some thoughts on climate change as it relates to the overall temperature of the planet and toxic gases, then this blog will disappoint.
I am using the word climate as describing the prevailing opinion or feeling, within a people group or locale.
Thoughts and feelings produce a climate that is both internal, within the mind and heart and external, within our contexts. I believe that this climate needs to be ‘barometered!’
A daily checking of this barometer of the climate within our hearts and minds is vital to every kind of health – spiritual, mental, emotional, relational and our potentiality and creativity.
The prevailing climate of our minds and hearts directly affects all aspects of our lives and interactions with others.
As a man thinks within his heart so shall he be. Proverbs 23:7.
The thoughts within our hearts directly affects who we be and all we do, attempt or will not attempt, flows from our being.
In a nutshell all doing or attempting flows out of who we be.
Who we be is built and sustained by prevailing thoughts, feelings and decision, we’ve internalised !
The climate within is directly influencing the atmosphere and weather without.
Ever experienced a feeling of deflation and elation when certain numbers come up on your phone.
Our bodies and emotions reacting to internalised thoughts, which affect our energy levels and attitudes.
I am reading a classic book about enthusiasm and how it is a vital part of wholeness and soundness of being when I come across a discipline of mind and heart the author called mental ventilation!
It fascinated and then resonated with me and I realised that I used to practice this discipline but had let it slip.
The core dynamics the author shared where of lumping and dropping those thoughts and feelings that like toxic gases affect our inner climate.
It reminds me of the truth of Proverbs 14:30 – a heart at peace gives life to the body but envy rots the bones!
Peace and envy are strong feelings and thoughts that give or take from us at the bones and body levels.
We cannot let enthusiasm in when the inner climate is being controlled by dark, gloomy and negative thoughts. Hate, prejudice, resentment, bitterness, cynicism will blanket our inner minds and hearts and we will have a greenhouse effect building within.
Is it time we ‘opened a window’ in our life?
Is it time to ventilate and change the climate?
In the book the author is struggling mentally and meets a man he knows who always seems to have a underlining enthusiasm but not the smiley annoying type!
He asks him how he manages this attitude and the answers he daily ventilates his mind.
His discipline, which was always before he went to sleep passed through three stages –
Through stage one the man briefly went over the unpleasant instances of the day: sharp words, insinuations or harsh or hostile acts said and done by others.
Stage two he reviewed his own mistakes, errors our stupidities. He then added any disappointments, frustrations and every form of unhappiness. Having lumped all these together, he dropped them from his mind. He let them go and let in fresh air!
This practice reminded me of two core passages that command disciples to ‘get rid’ of certain thoughts and emotions. Eph 4:31 & Col 3:8
Through this discipline of mental lumping and dropping I would add something – forgiveness.
The daily practice of forgiving others and myself is vital to all aspects and levels of health.
The English are obsessed with the weather.
This Englishman isn’t.
I am a ‘disciplined barometer checker of the climate within!’
I daily open a window because I do not desire an inner greenhouse climate!
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!
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.. Romans 13:14a
So what is responsibility? Ans: The Ability to Respond. Every man is Response-Able.
THIS IS NOT AN INVITATION TO SANDALS & SOCKS! (do not try this at home!)
Clothe yourself with Christ is the challenge to look like Him by how we live!
“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38 NASU
Everything that Jesus did in the gospels other than His healings all come under the heading of Him ‘doing good!’
In this list you’ll have the potential glossary of a Christ-centred masculinity!
Met a bloke this week that wanted to chat and show all of us who were having a coffee, what he had in his carrier bag, and so, out came a King Edwards cigar box. I thought the box looked cool and then he opened it, and inside were a stack of coins, from various countries. He spoke passionately about his coins and that he was going to the ‘see the guy in the shop’ who will ‘flap like a chicken’, when he sees these! For two or three minutes he held the table with his passionate conversation and then he was off.
This encounter and experience got me thinking about Ker-Ching, the noise coins make when deposited and a popular cultural phrase men use. What surfaced were three questions –
- Is there such a thing as Masculine Ker-Ching?
- If yes, what it’s currency?
- Where is it deposited?
Observe any group of men and it is obvious that Masculine Ker–Ching exists, their interactions and reactions, are just like financial transactions – stuff is being withdraw and deposited. Staying with the comparison of financial transactions, what is the currency being deposited and withdraw when we men get together?
I believe the currency is Respect. This is the coinage we men deal in and it comes in various denominations!
- Humour (inc Sarcasm)
- Projects (work/home)
- Successes (tasks taken on)
- Knowledge (sport, DIY, products)
All of the above are observable when males gather and what we are looking for but would never consider asking for; is respect. Going to stick my neck out here – respect is on par with sex when it comes to the masculine heart and soul. Men I believe, desire both of these in equal measure!
Respect is a close cousin of honour and honour is about your gifts and abilities being recognised, appreciated and celebrated. Recognition, Appreciation & Celebration, is the currency denominations of masculine ker-ching.
The masculine heart and soul that is not receiving the above is dying not thriving inside and will then go to one of two places: Striving or Sulking! Both are hard to be around and live with.
P.S there will be a growing amount of anger too, usually just under the surface.
The bloke with the cigar box had some rare coins that potentially were valuable, hence his visit to the dealers shop. Some of the most valuable ker-ching we men can receive are like these rare coins – not often seen!
- When was the last time your gifts, abilities & actions, as a man, were recognised & appreciated?
- When did you last release this coinage to the men in and around your world?
When I first glanced in the ‘cigar man’s box’ something immediately stuck out because it was a completely different in colour and size to the rest. My eyes and hands were drawn to this particular coin! Recognising, appreciating & celebrating another man, is just like that coin: it will stand out and draw people.
Fathers, sons, brothers, grandfathers, co-workers, bosses, all need Masculine Ker-Ching!
Will we invest in these men?
Genuinely and intentionally release some rare coins?
From experience, this challenge might seem and feel a little weird and it is, because like a rare coin, it’s not an everyday thing. The words that pass between us men are like everyday coins, so when recognition, appreciation and celebration coins show up, they stand out!
One of the first times I ‘Ker-chinged’ another bloke, I was nervous and his knee started to rise but afterwards he was genuinely grateful.
The masculine heart and soul like a bank account needs regular deposits, if it’s going to avoid being overdrawn. We can become ‘Real Investment Bankers,’ investing in the generations of men in and around our world!
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Prov 16:24
So let us be intentional and invest. Ker-Ching!
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!
Following his usual routine, a man buys his morning paper and starts out the shop door for work. He never makes it. Instead he finds himself being checked over in hospital. Finding nothing physically wrong, he takes himself off to see the counsellor who is helping him with his loss.
Believing there to be a stimulus to the man’s experience, he was asked to describe the last thing he saw, heard or smelt! The man stared at his counsellor and said ‘My wife’s perfume.’
The stimulus that triggered this experience was a memory!
- As men we all have the capacity to remember.
- The amygdala processes fear based memories
- The amygdala is larger in us men than women
- The amygdala never forgets a fearful moment!
The man’s present directly affected by a past trauma, via a memory!
A railway worker in the USA was working his shift, checking some refrigerated cars, when he accidentally got locked in one. It was something he’d always feared might happen. It would be hours before the next shift clocked on and found him. Although there was enough oxygen the man knew he would freeze to death if he didn’t get out.
Sadly, the next day that’s how they found him, with a note by his side.
- Those who found him were amazed that his body displayed signs of being exposed to severe cold and yet the railway car was not coupled to any power.
- In fact the refrigeration unit was off!
- Also the outside temperature was in the 70’s!
Imagination had a massive effect.
Our bodies do not understand the different between a perceived thought and a real one; it simply begins to interact with the image we have mentally decided to focus on! Memory and Imagination are strong forces and will ‘influence and affect’ our masculine hearts and souls and the potential Father has placed there.
Why do we need to move from memory to imagination?
Deciding to move from Mem 2 Imag is a Catalyst for change
The power to change our present circumstances and create future new contexts is forfeited if we do not know how to move from memory to imagination. Both are powers that directly affect our present, like the man in the first story and our future, like the rail car man.
Memory is limited & often its look & language is past based & tensed.
One thing I have learnt and am applying to my life and relationship with God as a Father is this: He often enters our today speaking language and sharing images from our tomorrow! The classic ‘son on the receiving end of this kind of Father Stuff’ is Gideon. See Judges 6 esp v 15
God addresses Gideon as a mighty warrior but Gideon is stuck in a memory and his imagination is seized up!
It might seem that God is playing mind games with his son and He is! His Father is after Gideon’s ability to imagine a context change and a different tomorrow. Father’s language is not past but future, not why this but why not. It would be years later but the sentiment would be used by JFK –
If not us, who if not now when?
As men we can fail at times, to activate what we have been given and begin to see change, instead we just complain. If we have developed a habit of complaining can I challenge that habit with this thought and encourage you to really think about this truth –
Our complaining is a sign that we believe something better exists!
- I am tired of x and y.
- Something ought to be done about a and b
- Someone needs to take action and change the status quo
These statements are signs that we do believe that ‘better’ exists!
Gideon was a complainer who, by His Father help, turned the energy of complaint into power that decided upon change.
The catalyst was adopting and focusing on the ‘tomorrow image’ of the Father and making the decision to leave the generationally ‘learnt hopelessness memory’ he‘d been living and wallowing in! v 15
- Strong words & medicine I know.
- However, truth often makes us angry before it liberates us!
- I didn’t like its taste but I love its affect
Memory can be like a straight jacket to our life, potential, capacity and abilities, its power can keep us bound and hold us back. Like the jacket, memory can cover our hearts and tie up our hands, and it’s with our hearts that we imagine and dream and with our hands we work to make the dream a reality.
- We have the power to begin to change where we are and how it is.
- Why, as men, would we not desire to change the circumstances & the context we are in?
- Why not use what we’ve been given to break with the past & move into new futures: for us, our families, others?
The Father asks us to love Him with all we are and have, including our imaginations and He is more than able and willing to release His exceeding abundant power and provision into our circumstances. However, His power and provision are conditionally tied into the use of our imagination –
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Eph 3:20
Without Him we cannot, without us He will not!
St Augustine, Early Church father