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]
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!