Having my Name Changed
“No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be called Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.” Gen. 17:5
“So He said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob. And He said, Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Gen. 32:27-28
“Now when Jesus looked at him, he said, You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas (Peter) which is translated ‘A Stone.’” John 1:42
“Then Saul, who is also called Paul“… Acts 13:9
When I was a little boy (9 years old) I came home from school to a social worker waiting in my home to take me away. My parents had given me up for adoption. A very difficult time in my life, to say the least. It took many, many years to see that the hand of God was in it all along. When I was 11, I got adopted and my name was changed. I took on the new name of my new adoptive parent.
This was a legal process that was done and we had to appear before a judge to petition for the name change. And papers were signed and witnessed, etc. My new legal name became “Hammond.” I want you to notice in the above 4 scriptures the lives of whose names were changed and who the Judge was that declared their name to be changed.
You see, my name-change was a natural one. But these four men’s name-changes were spiritual. They had come to a place in their life that they were no longer the same men who they were before. Granted, these men were not perfect and God was still in the process of perfecting them; but something so deep had happened to their hearts that a name-change was in order.
Let me tell you a story about a bag of stones that I have. I use this bag of stones to convey a deep teaching to people and to churches that I speak in. I pass the bag around and let people get a stone out of it. It has all kinds of rocks of different sizes, shapes, and smoothness/roughness in it. I ask people to tell me what kind of rock it is that they grabbed out of the bag. Some say “Granite”, some say “Quartz”, some say “Marble”, and the real smart ones say “Obsidian” or “Tachylyte.”
I’ll get all kinds of responses…yet they’re all wrong. For every rock in the bag is a piece of petrified wood!! Let me give you some background on how a tree can become a rock. It is a tree that is planted in a river or stream. And over many years the water eventually softens the outer shell (the bark) and washes it away. Then the water begins to work on the tree itself. You see, the outer “man” had to be dealt with first and softened and then eventually stripped away so that the real work of petrification could began.
For many years the water will run around the tree…but then the hardened tree softens and the water begins to run through it. And after a while, the original nature of the tree is gone completely. The old nature has been washed away downstream to eventually end up in the ocean and be completely consumed by the salt of the sea. The tree has now taken on a new nature. Its weight has changed to that of a rock, and only a trained eye can tell you that it used to be a tree. (Therefore only one who has gone through the process of great breaking and transformation can recognize it in others. We are so quick to pray and want to help others find relief from this process…when in all actuality it is the Lord doing it all. Remember Hebrews 12:11? “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” So then, who are the ones who will yield the “peaceable fruit of righteousness?” “THE ONES WHO HAVE BEEN TRAINED BY IT.”)
You see, I used to be a tree and a very useless and fruitless one at that. And one day God and His word began to wash the old man away. And it hurt like no other as He came and chipped away that which offended Him. But I stayed in the river…yes, Ezekiel’s river. And eventually I drowned and died; but yet I lived in Him. And the deepest work that could ever take place in a man began to take place.
You see, in all this process my name was being changed. Do you remember the verse in Revelation 2:17 that speaks of the overcomer receiving a new name? You are right now in the process of receiving that name based upon the degree of your overcoming…and your overcoming is contingent upon your transformation.
This is exactly what will happen to us if we keep ourselves planted in the water of God’s word. It is a beautiful transformation. Yes, it will hurt at times…many times even, as God comes and touches something in us that offends Him.
Abram obeyed in Genesis 12, but he did not believe until Genesis 15; but even then his name was not changed until he met Christ in Genesis 17 and fell on his face and worshipped and it was then that two things happened: he received the promise, and he received a name change. This took many years of walking with the Lord and having his inner life perfected and his faith brought to maturity. He had to go through many trials, many struggles, and many failures. But through it all he loved the Lord and he loved the Lord’s way, and the Lord’s work, and the Lord’s word.
I remember when I was a young man and called out in a meeting by a traveling minister. He didn’t know me at all. But he said to me as he laid his hands on me, “You will walk in the steps of Abraham, and you will live the life of Abraham.” I was so excited to receive a word like this from the Lord. Over the course of the next 7 years, this happened to me four more times. Each time the person telling me the exact same thing just in a different way.
It took many years for me to see and to understand that this was not what I thought it was going to be. I took it all to mean I would be a man of great faith, etc., etc. No…it meant that it was going to take 25 years to receive a promise from the Lord. It meant that I would go into Egypt. It meant that I would go through many struggles and inner trials, but that if I believed I would eventually receive the promise. What promise? The promise of transformation. The promise of being changed from a hardened oak to a rock of stability that could now survive the waves of life and live under the water because the old nature of who I really was had been washed away.
Jacob in his old man was a deceiver and a deal-maker, a liar, and would do anything to get ahead and be first. Until he really met Christ. And then in one night everything changed. I heard a man say once, “A man never really knows God until he has wrestled with Him.” I encourage you to read the story of his conversion and of his transformation in Genesis 32. The Lord never refers to him or his descendants as Jacob again unless He is rebuking them or addressing his (their) old nature.
The self-life will do anything and say anything to survive. It has to be denied on a daily basis. The self-life is a great offense and affront to God. He hates the self-life more than He hates satan!! Because the seed and offspring of satan can be found in the self-life. Unless the self-life is dealt with by God and by His word along with your cooperation, you will never enter into the transformation of the human soul. These men I listed at the beginning of this article were men that gave it all up; they came to the end of themselves and realized it was all vanity and that their self-life was worthless. They wanted God more than anything else. They desired Him above all else. They wanted to please Him and they wanted to be just like Him: holy, perfect, upright, and blameless.
They were willing to spend years on their knees with millions of tears shed over their condition before a holy God Whom they knew that they would soon stand before and give an account to. And they wanted to appear before Him blameless, and faultless with no spots and with no stains on their consciences or on their garments.
They were willing to give it all, to pay it all, and to pray it all down. No one except the Lord knows how deep this work can really go. If I was to try and explain it to you, either you would not believe me or you wouldn’t be able to understand/comprehend it. Only those who have really been to the spiritual-graveyard can understand or see these truths. God will bring each person to this place if they really want it. For many years I tried to understand what Kathryn Kulman meant when she said, “I can tell you the exact day, I can tell you the exact time, I can tell you the place where I was on the day that Kathryn Kulman died.” I understand now…I finally have come to understand.
A doctor can try and explain a heart surgery to a new doctor. He can use all the right vocabulary and diagrams and even his own personal experience. But until the young doctor goes through his residency program and his specialized surgical residency, he will never fully grasp or understand what the experienced heart surgeon is really saying. Why won’t he? Because he hasn’t lived that part of his life yet. He may have heard about it, he may have even seen many heart surgeries in med-school, but until he does it himself he will never fully comprehend the depths of heart surgery.
The name “Simon” means “a reed” a wooden reed easily swayed in the wind with no stability, no substance of weight. But Jesus knew the deep work He was going to do in Peter. The Lord only referred to Peter as Simon when he was in the flesh or in the mind (see Luke 22:31). He also called him Simon when he was asleep in prayer and not watching (see Mark 14:37). And also on the shore in John 21, the Lord is bringing special attention to Simon’s earlier boast that he loves the Lord more than others…and the Lord shows him the error of this. Peter went through a deep inner transformation…you see, Simon went through a name-change. And this is never a quick or an easy process.
Is your name in the process of being changed? Are you in the process of being changed? Many (most actually) kick against this process and never really grow. Could this be one of the reasons that Paul (Saul) went into Arabia for over a decade? God had to get the “Saul” out of Paul. For some, this takes many years and multiple thousands of tears. But God will do it in you if you really want it. You’ll have to be honest with Him and spend many hours before Him in deep humility and with a brokenness of heart and soul.
This process will be easier for you if you give in to the Lord, if you give up to the Lord. If you’ll really surrender and submit and yield to Him, the process can go quicker in certain areas. But like David, your heart will have to “be fixed” on Him. There are deep requirements of you if you really, really want this and really want to move into the deeper things of Ezekiel’s river. There will be a requirement of your will to be utterly abandoned and broken into little pieces. This is the most difficult part for some and the greatest stumbling stone for many. They love their “self” too much and they love their old life too much. Christianity is a strong man’s gospel, and it is only for those who wish to lay it all down. If you can’t lay it all down and walk away from it all, then this will hinder you now and in the end.
Don’t you want to be presented to Him as a chaste virgin (2nd Cor. 11:2)? One who has been untouched, undefiled, and blameless? When your conscience stands as a witness in that day, will it accuse you or excuse you? We’ll all find out one day very soon!!! As for me, I’m going to give it all. I’m going to walk before Him holy, perfect, blameless, and upright. These are four things that He requires of us and even told us to do in scripture.
I fear many (most) will never enter into the deeper things of life…because the cost of giving up their own life for His life just doesn’t seem worth it for some reason. I lived this way for many years until one day I had a Peniel experience as Jacob did in Genesis 32. The name “Peniel” means “Face of God.” Do you want to see the face of God? You can…in His word. Do you need to wrestle with God? You will…in His word. These deeper things come at a great cost (Prov. 23:23), a cost of your will, a cost of your time, a cost of your commitment to spend real quality time with Him each day in crying out to Him and searching His word for deep truth and letting His word search you in deep ways.
I hope to see you in the river…drowning in Him.