Ladder

Throughout my two years in the Discipleship Program I have realized over and over things in my life that I need to surrender to Jesus in order to continue to grow. Trying to continue without letting go is like trying to climb a ladder without letting go of the rungs. You'll tie yourself into a knot trying to stay back and move forward, plus you stand a chance of upsetting yourself.

There was a specific detail of my life that I spent a lot of time during the first-year wrestling through surrendering that. God eventually showed me Joel 3:16, which has kind of become my life verse.

The LORD also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the LORD will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel.

— Joel 3:16 NKJV

God asked me if He, as the King described in this verse, wasn't worthy of absolute surrender. He was and is.

This year I've come back to this same aspect of my life, just with a broader brush. I was wrestling with it again. Surrendering the specific detail wasn't too hard, I had done so before. My reaction was "Haven't I already surrendered this? Why am I dealing with the same thing again?"

God again asked me to surrender in this detail, but in a larger scale. What had before been a fine point, a certain playing out of events, that I surrendered had become a drastically life-changing decision that will likely govern large parts of my future. Jesus was now asking me to give Him everything. While I had surrendered the micro aspects, I still had to surrender the macro aspects of my life.

After this I wouldn't be surprised if this is revisited in the future. There is no endpoint to my surrender. This has taught me that surrender is a continual enlarging of what is given to Jesus.

—Disciple in GFA Discipleship Program



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We, disciples, recently completed our final class of the year which was a study of the Divine Embrace by Robert Webber. It was definitely a challenging book to read, not only because of the big words that the author used, but also because of the challenge he gives to Recover a Passionate Spiritual Life.

I think the main thing I took away from this book was an understanding that my spirituality is not based on what I do or don’t do but on God's Story, what He has already done for me and all of creation.

 Having grown up in a Christian home and made a decision to follow Christ at a very young age, for as long as I can remember I have known God’s Story. I knew that man had sinned and the only way to reconciliation with God was through trusting in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. But until going through this book I never really understood God’s story and how He invites me to enter into it.

One thing that stood out to me was the significance of Jesus being fully God and fully man. I’ve never realized before just how important it is that Jesus be fully human. This means that He experienced the same struggles and difficulties I do. In chapter 8 of the Divine Embrace, Robert Webber says: “As one of us, real flesh and blood, Jesus reversed the wound of Adam. Beginning in the womb of Mary, and continuing throughout his entire ministry, he struggled to surrender His will to the Father. And because He succeeded in surrendering His will to the Father’s will, in all things, he restored our will in his obedience. Even as Jesus struggled to surrender His will to the Father, so also, in our own spiritual life, Jesus is the model not only for victory but also for the struggle. Therefore we ‘fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith…’ as the writer of Hebrews encourages us, ‘so that you will not grow weary and lose heart’ (Heb. 12:2-3).

So, what will my response to God’s Story be? How will I live each day with my eyes fixed on Jesus?

For me, personally, living in light of God’s Story means being willing, as Jesus did, to surrender myself completely to the Father. In recognizing that my spirituality lies not in what I can do but in what Christ has already done, my desire is to no longer strive to do it on my own. As I have been asking the Lord to show me how to live out this life of surrender, He has been teaching me to simply rest in Him, trusting that He holds my life in His hands.

God has been teaching me that the surrendered life is a life of continual repentance. It means not allowing the enemy to fill my mind with guilt and self-pity when I fail, but confessing my sins as soon as I am aware of them. I am learning not to become overwhelmed by my shortcomings but rather, to ask the Lord for His mercy, pick myself up and move on.

God has been showing me that even when I fail and take my eyes off Him, He is still watching over me.  He will never leave me but will patiently wait for me to cry out to Him and allow Him to once again take my hand. In knowing this I can have peace that nothing I do can take me away from the loving care of my Heavenly Father. He is so much bigger than I am and knows what lies ahead. As long as He is leading me and my focus is on Him, I know that whatever happens I am in His hands.

—Disciple in GFA Discipleship Program

 



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Solitude is something I look forward to every month which is part of the Discipleship Program. As students, we are given a turn to share a devotional before we go to be alone with the Lord. My desire is to give glory to God for what He is doing.

I would like to share what the Lord has been teaching me and how that has affected me the last few months. It has taken me some time to process and the more I process the more there is more to learn.

I use the “Revised Common Lectionary” for my devotional times in the morning which is really good. When we have our regular 6 am house devotional time we read the same passages and then at the office for our prayer meetings we read the same Psalms as well. So, all throughout the day I hear the same scriptures read and the Lord has used this to minister to my heart. I have found that each day God has given me a word of encouragement, hope and strength to continue in the fight.

While spending time with the Lord one morning I was reading Deut 6:16-25, which talks about the Lord having brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and is giving them the commandments they are to keep and teach to the coming generations. What I came away with was from verses 23-25 “And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.” It was like the Lord was asking me if I trusted Him to take care of me and if the fear that was in my heart was the right kind of fear. Would I leave behind my own plans and follow Him no matter where He called me to go? or would my fears of the unknown keep me back?

Trusting Him is the first area I needed to address. If I don’t trust the Lord then I will not follow. Just like the children of Israel needed to leave Egypt behind so I need to leave my fears behind. The promise land is prepared, will I go in and take it or will my fears keep me in the wilderness? Having seen the Lord’s faithfulness throughout my life and even more so in the last two years, being in the Discipleship Program how could I not trust Him?

My Father reminded me of another passage from His word, which came through him extending his loving hand for me to take as an act of surrender and complete trust. 1 John 4:18-19. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” The fears I had before were tormenting me and had caused me to shrink back in times past; but now I was ready to place my hand in His and follow wherever He chose to lead me.

As I surrender my plans for His I am learning to trust my leaders and realising that my time and schedule are not my own and this has been so freeing for me. Fear has been replaced with perfect Love. Trusting the Lord by obeying all that He asks of me has caused me to glorify Him and praise Him for being faithful.

—Disciple in GFA Discipleship Program



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Sunday Solitude

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Sometimes our lives get loud and noisy. We forget to make time to just be quiet, listen to the Lord and hear what He has to say. GFA Discipleship students participate in the biblical and time-tested practice of solitude. Sunday Solitude is an occasionally a monthly scheduled time of seeking the Lord in the quiet. What does it look like?

For Sunday Solitude, students and some of the GFA Discipleship team will gather together first to pray. There will be a short time of worship to get hearts set upon the Lord. A student will share a few Bible verses that have impacted them recently and how God has used those verses in their life. This brief time of sharing is a starting point as everyone enters this time alone with the Lord. Everyone disperses to find a quiet place, inside or outside, to be alone with God for about an hour and a half.

Times like these are different than a typical devotion or prayer time. Students turn off their phones, and with a Bible, pen and journal, sit alone with the Lord and hear what He says. After the time is up, everyone gathers back and are encouraged as some share things the Lord spoke to them. The event closes with a couple songs song and prayer.

Here are a few of the encouraging things shared during the last Sunday Solitude:


“He’s not asking us to be something He’s not already.
He’s asking us to be like Him.” – Lucas


“God desires to change us, if we will let Him.” – Benjamin


“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you,
‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” – Isaiah 41:13


“No matter what we go through, God will be there with us.
He will never leave us.” – Emily


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Recently we as students were able to attend a Sunday service in a Believers Eastern Church congregation. It was a huge privilege for me and an opportunity to meet some of the people that I've been praying for.

The service was a very beautiful event. I would even say that it was one of the most beautiful times of worship that I've ever been a part of. The church building itself was not excessively ornate, but the altar and the bishop's vestments were certainly decorative enough. But even that, while it added to the beauty of the service, wasn't the main reason that I would say the service was beautiful. My first reason for saying so was that every person around me that I could see was worshipping God absolutely. The entire congregation loved Jesus and was lost in Him.

I don't cry easily, but during that service I cried. Just being in an environment that charged with the Holy Spirit was extremely moving for me.

Over my time as a disciple with GFA Discipleship Program I've learned and seen a few things. I've learned about submission, surrender, discipleship, and the important facets of Christianity. I've learned about the liturgy, lectionary, and even the altar. I've been to visit Anglican churches and even an Eastern Orthodox church. I've been learning the reason why there are elements of design that all churches share. Visiting this church, I felt that everything that I've been studying for nearly two years culminated in one service.

The final thing is that I was blessed just to be with this congregation. These are many first-generation Christians, although not all. These are people who have dedicated their lives to Jesus' service. People who have laid down their entire lives at the foot of the Cross.

As these thoughts were running around my mind I was humbled to be with them, to worship together with them, and to know that God has done the same for me as He has done for them. Knowing this and seeing their response also has impacted my life and given me a greater drive to surrender and serve Christ.

—Disciple in GFA Discipleship Program



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