In the Discipleship Program, we recently finished an assignment where we chose a spiritual discipline and practised it for three weeks: I did not really ‘enjoy’ this assignment, but I learned a lot about grace.

I chose to work on the discipline of ‘quiet time’, and over all, it went very badly.

I really wanted to work on this discipline because though it’s already a part of my life through DP I often felt like I was doing it merely out of duty and wasn’t ‘getting much out of it’, so I tried to get up earlier to have more uninterrupted time with the Lord.

Before we started the assignment, we went through a book called “Before You Hit the Wall” by Danny Lehman. It talks about the spiritual disciplines, what they are, why to practice them, and practical tips on how to do so. I tried really, really hard to follow the suggestions in the book by setting goals and going to bed early enough to get up to have quiet time. However, even though (for the first few days) I got up almost an hour earlier, I ended up having the same amount of time with the Lord, and I was more tired, so I got off with a bit of a rocky start.

I went to our Discipleship Program coordinator for help and she suggested that I take time later in the day to meet with the Lord, so I did and it was wonderful. Still I struggled to remember to take the time and also to know what to do with the time. I felt aimless. I tried to set new goals, but they always came out as vague as if I didn’t have any. Every time I tried to come up with a form to structure my afternoon quiet time it just became another box to check off my task list.

Through this I struggled a lot with feeling like a failure and like I needed to be doing more, because what I was doing wasn’t ‘good enough’. Then the Lord really spoke to me through the Mary/Martha passage in Luke 10. I really wanted to be like Mary and sit at the Lord’s feet, but He showed me that I was going about it like Martha - always trying to do something. I was very much trying to prove that I could do it out of my own strength and personal discipline, instead of relying on Him. It felt stupid that I would have to rely on Him to do something as easy as having a 20 minute quiet time, and most of the time I came away at least slightly frustrated with my own inability to have a focused quiet time.

So, I’m still having a hard time agreeing with the Lord that my quiet times were not a total failure. In the book Danny Lehman talked about how discipline creates an atmosphere where we can grow. I can see how the Lord did use these disciplines to help me grow, even if it wasn’t in the area or way that I thought He would or wanted Him to. I really wanted to develop a habit of spending time with God, not just making requests/demands or reading the Bible, but to know His presence. I think I had to try in order realize how much this isn’t something that I do. The Lord had to show me that I don’t have or need a one-thing-is-always-right pattern to follow, but a Person, and that while structure is good, it must stay in its place as the means of knowing God and not the end to be arrived at.

According to myself, my self imposed standards, logic, and reasoning, this assignment was a total failure, a grand flop.

But, according to God, it was a success - because God doesn’t use the same measuring tape I do, and He knows where I need to grow a lot better than I do.



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Before coming to the Discipleship Program, I had never been away from home without my family for more than a weekend. I wasn’t expecting what hit me. Sure, I had heard about homesickness before, I didn’t think that it was an actual sickness. But it can be, now speaking from experience.

Why would I go through this physical, not to mention huge emotional turmoil and not run back home where I so desperately wanted to be? That seriously made me think about why I am here.

Jesus. That one word explains a lot. He called me here, I now believe that without one doubt. I had a lot of doubt in my homesickness. If God really wanted me to be here, why was I going through this pain? Wasn’t I stronger than this, more ready? In those sleepless nights I found Jesus in a new way. He was my source of peace and in prayer I found solace. I questioned whether I really had put Him first in my life before. When so much of my surroundings and circumstances are different, I realize what I am really depending on, and where my heart’s allegiance lies.

I am here at the Discipleship Program because I want to know Jesus more. I want to serve Him with everything. I want Him to be my everything. To live a life of laying everything down, that includes laying down my home, my family and my comfort. Everything is a strong word.

Now that I have come to that conclusion, does it all become easy and those troublesome nerves and emotions go away? No, not at all. But I have something to cling to – my Saviour. He is my Rock in the raging sea and Living Water in the empty desert. Feelings are not what should dictate our lives. If I let my emotions rule me, my life will crash pretty quickly. I need Jesus to rule my heart to have peace.

There is another aspect to this. Life is not simply about me and Jesus. Community is very key. Learning to trust my housemates and be close with people other than my family was and still is a point in need of growth for me. I don’t need to put up a false front to those around me. That’s not going to help me at all; in fact, it will hurt me. Community is not about the number of people around me, but about building and maintaining relationships. Sharing pain inside of us with others does not always cause it to disappear, but it is easier to bear. God gave us each other for a reason!

Though it has taken me a while to come to this place, looking back, I wouldn’t have changed one thing in my past few months. The pain and disappointment that I felt in myself, were beneficial in teaching me a lesson. I am not self-sufficient; I am very much in need of the Lord’s grace and the love of my siblings in Christ around me.

~ Disciple of 2019



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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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