I hear and I know. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

— Confucius

When I came to the Discipleship Program (DP) I had my own set of goals I wanted to accomplish; things I hoped to learn and spiritual practices and disciplines I wanted to integrate into my life.

But I also had a subconscious list of questions I didn’t know how to ask; “Why do we do this?”, “Why is this important?”. There were certain things that I knew we needed to do; baptism, communion, reading the Bible, and especially attending church regularly. I knew that these were supposed to help me in my walk with the Lord, I knew that they were important, but why? I was ashamed to ask questions. ‘This is what we do, and that is that’ was the impression I got. I know that my parents and youth leaders did not at all mean to give that impression, but sometimes I wondered if they even knew why we did these things. I had heard all of the answers, but I didn’t understand. I read stories about missionaries like Mary Slessor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the like, who never really ‘went to church’ in the way that I understood it, and wondered if going to church was really a necessary part of the Christian walk. I saw people who went to church all of their lives but who never seemed to grow spiritually, and others who didn’t regularly attend church who seemed to me to be spiritual giants.

All of the pain and suffering that I saw in the church, I wondered if it was worth it. I thought that the problems I saw were caused by the church, and that by simply not going to church the problems would go away. That was what I thought, though in my heart I knew it wasn’t true.

Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

— Psalm 119:34

I used to help my younger sister with her math. I was naturally good at math, and she struggled, so I would try to help her. “You do it like this, and it comes out like that” I would tell her, and show her how to solve the problems. She could copy what I showed her, but she didn’t understand, and when she needed to use the same technique on a different sort of problem she was at square one again. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t help her understand (I also have very little faith in my ability as a math tutor). That was how I felt about going to church; I knew what to do, but I didn’t understand. I was just copying what I had been told to do, and when different problems or difficult situations arose I didn’t know how to handle them.

Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

— Psalm 119:73

DP wasn’t - and isn’t - a magic ‘fix everything’, and certainly not in an instant. I can’t explain what happened; I don’t think that it was anything that I read or was told, but something I saw. It wasn’t just ‘one thing’ that suddenly changed everything; it was a slow realization that now, somehow, I am beginning to understand:

-why we go to church.

-why attending church regularly is important.

-why we are baptized.

-why we take communion.

-why we read the Bible everyday, even when it doesn’t ‘feel’ as alive as I would wish.


This is something that means a lot to me. I had accepted that there are things in this life that I won’t understand, and had just thrown these in along with everything else. I had been told and believed (and still do) with all my heart that faith keeps going even when you don’t understand. I didn’t come to DP looking to understand these things, but I am so grateful to the Lord that I can now - after years of struggle and months of healing - say “I understand”

The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; give me understanding, and I shall live.

— Psalm 119:144

~ Disciple of 2019



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As part of our curriculum in the Discipleship Program we are listening to a series of messages that are a survey of the Bible. I am really enjoying going through these, getting a better understanding of God’s Word, seeing the ‘scarlet thread' throughout, and looking for application for my life.

Recently I was listening to a message on Ezra, and the pastor was sharing about the exiles who had returned from Babylon and were weeping along with the celebration at the dedication of the temple. (Ezra 3:12). He said one thing that really stood out to me, “If you want to live a miserable life, live it looking back over your shoulder.” He then went on to state how the living “in the future” can be just the same.

I think most young people grapple for quite some time with what they want to do with their life, or “what they want to be when they grow up.” This has always been something on my mind because I never had a definite idea of what I wanted to do. It isn’t for lack of ideas, I just don’t have it all clearly laid out, which as someone who likes to know what is going on is hard to take. Sure, I could decide something right now, but is that what the Lord wants for me?

I have been seeking the Lord for what He wants me to do after my year in the Discipleship Program and have been so focused on next year, and after that. It was getting frustrating that God wasn’t giving me clear direction. And then it came to me. I don’t know if I would say that God spoke to me, as there was no audible voice, and I don’t feel very skilled in listening to Him or discerning His direction. But this is my summary of what I believe He is showing me, “You don’t need to have a plan. I am in control, and I have guided and provided for you every step of the way so far. You need to keep following step by step, day by day, not decade by decade, or even year by year. Am I not teaching you now? What do I have for you in this moment? In this week? In this day?”

My focus was so much on next year, that I wasn’t paying near enough attention to this year. I thought I had given this one year to the Lord, but I was taking moments back one by one and filling them with anxiety, concern, and not near enough trust.

So, going forward, I am putting aside next year; that stage of my life and decisions about it will come in God’s perfect timing. For now, I am taking each day and trying (I’m still learning) to discover what God has for me right now and what He would have me grow in this day.

~ Disciple of 2019



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Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

— James 5:16

Have you ever asked for help and gotten the strangest advice imaginable and thought ‘no way that will ever help’? We had that the first week or two of DP.

Our problem was a simple one; the deadbolt on the door of our house was nigh impossible to turn with the key. When we asked if something could be done to help, I thought that the solution would be WD-40 or oil, but to my surprise we were told to put soap on our key. That’s right, soap. Just lather the key in soap a couple times and slide it in and out of the keyhole and the lock will turn, we were told.

There was no way we were going to do something as ridiculous as that. So we kept fighting with the lock, and several times we gave up and left our house unlocked while we were at the office. Finally, we gave in and lathered our key in dish soap, and could lock and unlock our door. The weather had also warmed up so, stubborn as we were, we insisted that it was because the temperature change in the ground had caused the house to shift ever so slightly. We felt justified in this when the temperature dropped again and we had more trouble with our lock.

After fighting a few days we gave in and tried more soap, and lo and behold! Our lock worked; not that we were going to admit that, though. Not long after some of the guys came to get some things out of the storage at our house, and the lock was stuck. They tried everything you could think of - warming the key and lock with a lighter, wiggling and jiggling, you name it. Meanwhile Susana, our house mentor, was standing by, thinking about the soap. Finally, very sheepishly, she offered to try the soap. They had the same opinion we had about it, but had nothing to lose. Five minutes later, the lock was open. Fancy that.

Fast forward two months into March, and due to the lovely spring weather I opened the windows. When our house smelled fresh and springy and I was tired of being cold I went to close the window, but the lock wouldn’t budge. So I went on the prowl for some WD-40 and, lacking that, was going to put some vegetable oil on it. Then I remembered our previous success with the soap, so I daubed a generous amount into the slider, flipped the lock a couple times to get it around inside, and once again it worked perfectly. So, I think it’s fair to say that I am now convinced.

The first weekend of the Discipleship Program (DP) we went to a Spiritual Renewal conference in Guelph, and one of the things that was talked about there was confession, the ‘go to the priest and confess your sins’ kind of confession. For me, coming from an Evangelical background, that was a struggle. My first thought was ‘what in the world have I gotten myself into?’ and I thought about going home. But I had only just arrived, and I knew that God had called me to come here - how could I give up so easily? So I prayed about it, and the Lord gave me His peace, and I stayed. I saw in the lives of the staff the real Christianity that I had been searching for and wanted to live; they weren’t perfect, they never pretended to be, but when they fell down they got up again, they forgave each other, they grew… and I desperately wanted that. I still do.

We were encouraged to ‘make confession’, but in no way were we compelled or forced to. Everything that we were and are being taught we are encouraged to go back, to the Bible and the early church fathers, to try and test for ourselves and see the background of different practices of faith. And there, in the very pages of the Bible I thought I had known so well, I found things. Verses like James 5:16, Numbers 5:6-7, 1 John 1:8-9, and Proverbs 28:13 had a new meaning. I had always been taught (truthfully) to confess my sins to God, and that no one else needed to ever know about it. But I had also been taught (not exactly in words) that if I did something wrong (taking cookies without asking, for example) that I should confess. I had heard of confession, but always associated it with Catholicism and thought ‘that’s good for them, I guess, but I don’t need it’. The more I thought about it, the less strange it seemed. I had done a form of confession before, not to a priest or pastor but to a very close, godly friend when I was really struggling with a destructive sin pattern in my life, and the freedom that it gave me was bliss. So, like the soap on our door, I decided to try it.

Last summer I was in a situation that hurt a friend very deeply. I knew that I had done wrong, I had confessed to the Lord, asked forgiveness of my friend, and done everything I could to make things right. Though I knew that I had been forgiven in my head, I still carried the weight of guilt of what I had done, and felt condemned. So I went to one of the leader’s (the same one who told us to use the soap on our lock 😊) and confessed. The peace I felt when he spoke the words of Jesus to me, instead of just reading them myself, reminding me that I was forgiven and that there is ‘no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1a)’ removed all guilt from my soul. I don’t have to guess or hope that I ‘did enough’ to make up for what I did, and I know that if fear or guilt tries to creep back into my heart I can go back, receive prayer and encouragement and be strengthened to keep fighting.

I’ve read some about ‘locks’ and ‘keys’ in the Christian life, but sometimes it just feels like the key is stuck in a rusty lock. For me, confession has been like soap to make the lock turn.



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One of the strangest things to me about being in DP is the Tupperware. Or rather, the lack thereof.

Growing up we always had Tupperware containers for everything (in part due to the tendency for mice to live in our pantry), and several years ago my Mama became a Tupperware consultant, so we had even more. I was always taught that it’s better to pay more upfront for something that will last basically forever.

Then I came to DP, and while there are a few pieces of Tupperware to be found, for the most part Ziploc dominates the scene.

It may seem like a really small thing, but it made me rethink my priorities; if everything in this world is temporal, why would I spend money on something I don’t really need? I may think that I need it, but really, most of the world gets along just fine without any storage containers at all.

Which made me ask the question: what small pleasures am I willing to sacrifice so that I can give more to God? Consider - $7 is enough money for a burger, or for a Bible. A burger is very unhealthy and may nourish me for one day, but a single Bible in the hands of a believer can nourish a person, a family, or even a church and community, for a lifetime.

Does that mean that I’m never going to eat at McDonald's again? Probably not, but I will certainly thank the Lord more fervently when I do.

To me there's more to it than even that. Ziploc, to me, is like many things of this world- it’s cheap, convenient, and sufficient for my current needs. Everyone - or almost everyone - has it and uses it every day. I have no need for anything else, I’m not ‘that sort of person’.

The Tupperware Company is more like God’s grace (this is an analogy, please remember. There is very little that is actually spiritual about plastic containers); you can’t just go to the store and grab it, it’s costly, but it will last forever. And if, perchance, you make a mistake and drop a frozen item on concrete (been there, done that) and it breaks, you get it replaced. Brand new, for free, just like that, just like grace. It’s not that I grew up with Tupperware because everything had to be name brand and the best quality -a lot of ours we got for under $2 at garage sales and thrift stores- but we wanted something that would last.

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

— Luke 9:25

I'm now faced with two questions almost every moment of my day: what can and should I give up to gain eternal life and share it with others and what am I willing to pay to have the very best of Jesus? For me this most often looks like getting up early to start my day in prayer; waiting on the Lord, not with any prayer requests, simply listening to His voice and resting the in the presence of God.



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Giving up may sound like a negative phrase, and it often can be. But when it comes to the season of Lent, giving up is one of the best things we can do.

Growing up, I was always used to people around me “giving up” something for the Lenten season. I never understood why, I just assumed that we became more spiritual by not eating chocolate, drinking coffee, etc.

Through what I have been learning in the Discipleship Program, and in seeing the lives of GFA staff, I have been realizing that there is more to Lent than this. I don’t want to participate and enter into Lent because someone told me to, or to look better than those around me. Rather, I do this because of my love for my Saviour. If there is anything hindering me in my walk with the Lord, or something that is not aiding me, I need to remove that from my life and replace it with a new practice that will draw me closer to Him. Lent is a time of mourning and repentance that helps me to remember my sin, the suffering and death that Christ went through to free me of it, and what it looks like to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. As I prepare my heart for Easter, for the great celebration of Christ’s resurrection; like He did, I first go through the pain and the suffering before the victory.

In Lent this year, I feel the Lord is really teaching me about my sin, specifically being judgmental of others. In the past, I have been very quick to quickly gloss over it or justify it, and to remind myself that Jesus has covered it all, and so I don’t need to think about it. It is most certainly true that Jesus’ blood has paid for my sin in full. But to live the free and victorious life that Christ has bought for me, I need to identify and confront the sin in my life, and in the power of Holy Spirit conquer and defeat it. This is somewhat like weeding a garden. The longer I leave sin in my life, the deeper it grows and the harder it is to pull it out by the roots. If I simply gloss over my sin and remove the visible signs, but leave the roots intact, it will quickly grow back, as I was often reminded by my mother when working pulling weeds in the garden. I also will not be able to pull out the weeds if I do not look carefully and identify them among the plants in the garden of my heart.

Each year I look forward to Lent and don’t at the same time. For me, going through Lent is a painful journey. It hurts to look at all the ugliness that remains in my life, and how often I do not surrender to Jesus. But it is a beautiful road too. It may not be easy to fast, to spend extended time in prayer, and to root out sin, but in the end, it is so, so worth it. I love to walk with my Saviour, to get to know Him more and more.

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for He is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and He relents over disaster.

— Joel 2:12-13


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