‘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
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]
Keep diligent watch over your heart, for that’s where life starts.
Keep your heart with all diligence for the issues of life spring from there Prov 4:23
The picture behind the thought of guarding your heart; is of something so valuable, it needs to guarded by special forces! It is the intentional stationing of trained guards, to protect at all cost, that which is not just valuable but strategic.
Strategic because our heart is our core and life and ALL its issues, issue from here!
Another way of saying it would be this, our core is who we BE and life IS responding to who we be not what we do. However, if who we be, synchs with what we do, then life and circumstances begin to change. And yet, there is another level of life and circumstance changing power available to us; when who we be is in NOW Grace and what we do is empower by the Spirit of grace.
Eruptive and disruptive power, the same as the Father exerted in raising his Son IS available, and part of ‘now grace’ which He has given to all His sons and all His daughters! Eph 6:10
A solid core, begins when we evaluate who we be. We take our heart in for a mot.
This is an ongoing dynamic the Father undertakes. “I the Lord search the heart. ” Jer 17:10. I do not look at the appearance. I Sam 16:7. His word tests the thoughts of our hearts. Hebs 4:12 Father is very interested in our hearts, who we be.
Who we be is the sum total of all we Believe and our Experiences. To be more forensic, it’s not just having experiences but our interpretations of those experiences.
The life limiting sentences like: I can’t. I am not good enough, talented enough or educated enough. If only. I’ll never… All of these and many more are decisions, usually made from within a traumatic experience and via the emotions that were present and strong at the time.
These short sentences can themselves be life-long prison sentences, keeping us in, holding us back, keeping us out and stopping us from entering in!
Gideon would be the classic biblical character for this core mind-set. See Judges 6. When God entered Gideon’s present He did so answering Gideon’s prayer and complaint by addressing the answer –
The LORD is with you, mighty warrior! Judges 6:12
God’s description clashed with Gideon’s interpretation of himself which was generationally deep! V15. Until Gideon’s core interpretations synched with the released revelation, the situation would be the same. God is patient and will wait but nothing will change long-term, until His revelation becomes our interpretation of who we are, what we have and what in Him, we can do.
The all-encompassing biblical word for this is grace.
A graced core is a solid core, one that has been set in and upon his Word; about who we are, what we have and what we can do because we are in Christ, the anointed one! When who I be lines up with what He says about me, and I stay there, my core becomes solid and stable. Stable is vital because unstable speaks of being two minded, or two-souled and this condition means we will not receive anything from Father. See James 1:8
Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth will speak. Matt 12:34 So, our words are a glossary and a dictionary of our hearts. Jesus also said that we would be acquitted or condemned by our words, and that we would have to give an account for every idle word we have uttered. Matt 12:36&37
The word idle speaks of not being employed, of not putting our words to work for us!
The combinational power of who I be, synched with confessing His Word is unparalleled and is far more than just positive self-mirror talk. Jesus said that His Words were spirit and life. Jn 6:63 and that they had the power to set us free. Jn 8:32 When we take to heart, literally, His Word, his definition of who we, whose we are, what we have and what we can do, all things become possible.
Biblical meditation is thinking on and speaking out His Word simultaneously, so that the words of our mouth and the meditations of our hearts synch. Ps 19:14
Satan knows the system that the Father has put in place and all he can do is try to work the system, for his own aims and agenda by deception and lies. He’ll try and convince us that we are over the top with all this guarding your heart and confessing stuff. Don’t buy it for a minute. He’ll also try to get us to over emphasis one above the other which is typical of him, another one of his subtleties, designed to bring imbalance to our lives which inevitable leads to dis-ease!
Solid in core and steadfast in confession is vital to seeing all the promised resources of His kingdom becoming our reality. The Psalmist knew the importance of a solid core and a steadfast heart
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. Ps 112:7&8
When our core and our confession are synched God’s promises will materialise even when everything looks hopeless.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Roms 4:18-21
Against all hope, Abraham in his core believed therefore he had hope. It says that he never wavered concerning the promise [the Word of God] but was strengthened in his faith by giving glory to God. Giving glory to God means in opened his mouth and confessed God’s faithfulness to his Word and His people.
Abraham was fully [core and confession] persuaded.
God still wants to release new ‘Isaac’s into His world but needs sons and daughters to become fully persuaded, in their core and their confession.
To all the next generation of Abraham’s and Sarah’s stayed solid and remain steadfast, your Isaac has been released!