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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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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Coming to the Discipleship Program, I didn’t know I would be learning so much. I’ve studied these three books and one audio assignment in the following order: Liturgy of the Ordinary, Core Values, Divine Energy, Jesus Style, and now I’m finishing Touching Godliness. Out of these books I believe Touching Godliness has impacted me the most so far. It speaks about how important it is to submit to our delegated authorities and when we do that we submit to God Himself and please Him. Our real authority is God and if we love Him we will want to submit to those He has placed over us.

“Therefore, submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.” (1 Peter 2:13-14)

I have failed many times in the past to submit to those over me, but my desire is to grow in this. Pain and submission go hand in hand, so if I choose the way of submission I may experience some pain but can have peace through it. The Bible has many great examples of people who were submissive and obedient to God and their delegated authorities. David, Joseph, and Paul are just a few examples for us to follow.

I especially like Joseph’s example of submission. Because of the position God had given Joseph, his entire family was permitted to live in Egypt, escaping starvation. God was able to use Joseph in this mighty way because he stayed submitted to his authority.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to be part of the Discipleship Program where I can continue to learn and grow in my walk with the Lord, alongside others who encourage me on the journey.



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Now that the weather has warmed up a little from the cold of winter, it is time to take down outside Christmas decorations that you can’t do any earlier due to stiff and frozen fingers. But the day I was going to be doing that, there was one problem. It wasn’t warm. It was cold, windy, and snow. The weather throughout the whole day went back and forth from wind and snow, to sunny and calm. This wasn’t too much of a problem for me, since I typically am not bothered by weather. It is more of just an annoyance.

There was another bigger problem. Whether it was due to how the lights came down from the tree, or me making it even more so as I worked on them, they were tangled - seriously tangled. The bulbs weren’t small either. They were quite big with a large clip as well, making it too easy for them to get stuck on one another. They look pretty when hanging on a tree or the edge of your house, but not in masses on the ground. There they were, a whole bunch of strings, lined with hooks, put in a heap, and mixed together. My job was to untangle the mess and neatly roll each string up. Great!

This seems like a very unpleasant job that would give plenty of excuse for grumbling, which I did. Only to myself though while I was doing it. I didn’t actually mind being given the task. I was glad to be given a job outside even though it was cold. But, the lights were so tangled and my back became sore. I even had a little conversation with my work, expressing my displeasure to the lights at their uncooperative behavior.

During our afternoon Psalm reading, I was convicted about the way I was acting. Even though it wasn’t necessarily sin, I knew that I could be doing better.

“Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps,

fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!

 

Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!

Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!

 

Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!

Young men and maidens together, old men and children!

 

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.

 

He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him.

Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 148:7-14)

As we read this, I thought about how even the wind and the snow praise God. The very things that were making my day a bother, were doing the things I should be. Couldn’t the snow and cold leave so I could praise God without them pestering me. Then I thought, God probably gets more glory from those who praise Him, even when they aren’t comfortable, so, when I went back outside, instead of voicing my disapproval, I sang to praise the Lord.

I thought about how we ourselves can be like the lights; wrapped and stuck within sin. I need to let go of the things which hold me captive and let the hand of God pull me out, bit by bit, unhooking me from all my sin. Then He will put me in part of His kingdom, and placing his power inside of me to shine out His glory.

—Disciple in GFA Discipleship Program



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