The last book we as students finished was Touching Godliness by Dr. K.P. Yohannan, which talked about submission. Submission is like obedience, except that the difference is that obedience is merely the action of fulfilling an order, while submission is a heart issue. In the military, obedience is a must, because there will be consequences otherwise. In God’s army, He asks us not to just obey, but to submit; to give our hearts fully to Him. Giving up our will and plans to God is a difficult thing. It means that we’re not in control, but when it is done, it is a beautiful thing. Submitting to the Lord means that we trust Him.

When I was a little boy, I loved soldiers. My brothers and I pretended to be soldiers. I drew pictures of knights and castles. We amassed armies built out of Lego and had battles with them. Today, now that I’m older and more mature, I still like the military. I have thought about enlisting before, but it simply isn’t my calling from God. The main thing which I like about the military, is the order and how everything is structured.

I had one friend who I worked under who also liked the concept of being Christian soldiers. He eventually got the name of “Sarge” (short form of sergeant). Every time I would go ask him what he wanted me to work on next, I would snap to attention, salute and say, “Sarge! Reporting for duty Sir!” Other people watching might of thought it silly (except my brothers who did the same), but because we had that understanding of military authority and respect, it was my way of showing respect and honour to him as my leader.

When in a war, you need everything to function perfectly, if you want to win. This is why obedience is paramount in the military. When a superior officer gives you an order, you don’t question it; you obey! The officers at the top create strategies and plans to win, but they must be carried out exactly as ordered for them to work. They then give the plans to the next rank lower and so on, all the way to the privates, which is the lowest rank. When soldiers in any rank don’t obey their commanders, goodness knows what could go wrong. One little disobedience or slight mess-up can cause the whole plan to fail and many unnecessary losses.

Of course, there will always be times where there will be faults in the strategy given, and the top commanders will make mistakes. This, however does not give reason for soldiers to question their leaders’ commands. If one were to do so, even if the commanding officer made a mistake, it might happen again when there is no mistake in the order and the operation would fail. Thankfully, our top commander is one who never makes a mistake. He is all knowing, all wise, and all powerful. I think of how often I, myself have doubted God and been hesitant to obey His orders.

A spirit of submission is a spirit of love. In the army, unless the soldier is a believer, submission can never be perfected, because it must be ultimately for Jesus. A soldier can obey and serve well, but in human power, it is only so deep. When we obey out of our love for the Lord, it is true submission. When we do this, we can say as the apostle Paul did.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

— 2 Timothy 4:6-8


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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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One of the things I have been learning through my study of Church History this year is that God is always at work in the lives of His people. Even during the times of darkness and chaos when it looked as if God wasn’t even in the picture, He was at work behind the scenes using each circumstance for the good of His people and to bring glory to His name.

All throughout history the Church has been faced with hardships from within and without, but the Middle Ages was an especially dark time for God’s people. We recently read about some of the struggles they faced during that time including: wars from invading barbarians, the destruction and violence of the crusades, leadership corrupted by greed, the division of the church between East and West, and the devastation of plagues and sickness.

Yet in the midst of all of this there is evidence that God had not abandoned His people. Even during this dark time we can see that God was at work bringing forth His purpose through it all. He raised up missionaries, like Boniface and Lioba who dedicated their lives to reaching Germany with the Gospel, Reformers, such as the monks, who called people to a life of holiness and a deeper love for God, and the Mendicants, mobile preachers who travelled from town to town preaching the Gospel to all who would listen. During this time the Gospel was taken to many unreached peoples such as the English, Irish, French, and Moravians (modern-day Czech Republic). God was working through the lives of His faithful followers who were willing to give their lives in order to be obedient to God’s calling upon them.

In one of the lectures we watched the speaker made a comment that really stood out to me. He said “God is like a field teeming with life below the surface.” On top it may look like nothing is happening at all, but underground, within the soil, the seeds are very much alive and change is taking place. Soon the seed will sprout and push its way out of the soil. Then what has been taking place below the surface will become visible to all as we see the evidence of a new life.

Many situations in my own life are much like that field. On the surface I don’t see anything happening and assume that what I can or cannot see in the natural must be all that is taking place. I am so quick to focus only on what is right in front of me and grow discouraged because it appears that God is not at work. In the midst of difficult circumstances I don’t see any way that God can be using it to bring about His purpose. I am unaware of what is taking place just below the surface and that out of the trials and struggles God is creating something new and beautiful.

God has been reminding me that just as He was at work behind the scenes in some of the darkest times of history so He is at work in the difficult moments of my life. I can trust that in the same way He raised up His faithful followers to bring about His purpose during a dark time in the Church, so He will use each circumstance in my life to ultimately show His faithfulness and unfailing love to the world around me.

My desire is to choose each day not to focus on the apparently lifeless soil above ground but to remember that underground, where I cannot see, change is taking place. What I can see in the natural is only momentary in light of all that God has in store for eternity.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

— 2 Corinthians 4:17-18


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This past month in class we have been reading through “Calvary Road” by Roy Hession. In the beginning I really struggled with the message of the book, this was mostly because it was so convicting for me. It was as if God was using it to point to all the areas of my life that needed to be dealt with and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew that God was going to have to do the work in me and I asked Him to do whatever it took to bring me to that point of brokenness before Him. It was one of those prayers that I didn’t really know what the answer would look like at the time, but all the way through the book I experienced God breaking me in answer to that prayer.

discipleship-blog-crossGod showed me what true brokenness looks like. It is responding in humility to God’s conviction of sin. It is not a onetime thing, but a daily choice to surrender myself completely to the Lord’s will. Brokenness begins when I come to the foot of the cross and look upon Jesus who was willing to be broken for me. He was willing to give up His life and take upon Himself my sins, because of His love for me.

When I think of what Christ went through, it humbles me and puts me in awe of the incredible love of Jesus. He was willing to be broken, suffer and pour out His blood on the cross in a demonstration of complete obedience to His Father. In response I cannot refuse to follow in His example by being willing to yield my time, rights, reputation and will to Him, in order to be filled with His life.

The only way God can do His work in me is if I allow Him to put to death my sinful nature, so that He can live victorious through me. I have to be open to God’s conviction, allowing Him to reveal the sin in my life and then be willing to respond in obedience to His voice. I cannot change or experience brokenness through striving on my own. Only Christ can do the work in me through the power of His Holy Spirit.

As I daily walk with Christ He continues to bring to light the areas in my heart that I must surrender to Him. When I choose to respond to His conviction, I am able to experience the
nearness and intimate fellowship of my Father. For He is near to those who are humble and broken before Him.

“Lord, break me, then cleanse me and fill me

And keep me abiding in thee; 

That fellowship may be unbroken,

And Thy Name be hallowed in me.”

—School of Discipleship student



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discipleship-blog-crossThe Son of God is hanging on a cross, suffering unimaginably but not just from physical pain but from the weight of the sin of the whole world, my sin included! He has the choice to call ten thousand legions of Angels to His rescue but He stays, He submits to the will of His Father to redeem mankind from their sin. He knows He is their only hope, and so He willingly gives up His life on the cross. All creation trembles and the sky grows dark, it acknowledges what has taken place.

It was here at the cross when Jesus died that redemption was made possible for us. Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of God’s grace.” (NKJV)

I have known the truth of this for almost my whole life, having grown up in a Christian home, but only recently has it actually changed my life. I have been a Christian for a couple of years now; I gave my life to Christ at a revival meeting one night when I was 18. The joy of being forgiven of my sins was amazing! I was on fire for God; unfortunately it didn’t last very long… I didn’t know what I had done wrong and I started doubting my salvation. I had many doubts and had no victory in my Christian life, I felt confused and alone. I lived this way for many years and eventually I began searching Scripture and started believing the promises of God about how He has called us and will complete the work He has started in our lives. I didn’t have complete victory over this until recently.

We had a speaker come and teach our class a couple of weeks ago and his topic was not about redemption but while teaching he mentioned briefly what redemption means and how it impacted his life and I was just struck by this truth and it has stayed with me ever since. He said that when we come to the cross in repentance and salvation we exchange our lives for the Righteousness of Christ, so that when God looks at us He does not see us in our sinful flesh but He sees Christ’s Righteousness in us. Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (ESV)

This verse was not foreign to me, I just never really fully grasped it’s meaning but it makes so much sense now and it has really encouraged me and helped me be victorious in my life! Through Redemption Christ lives in me, by understanding this truth I now can fully surrender my life to Christ and trust Him to work in me and make me more like Him; I don’t have to try and overcome my sins and failures on my own.

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.

— 1 Corinthians 1:30

—Disciple in GFA Discipleship Program



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