I wrote a post over a year ago while I was in the US about being independent; you can read it here. The general idea behind what I wrote was that I needed to be okay with asking for help from those around me. This remains and stands true, but God has recently taken me one step further than that even.

In my walk with Jesus and growing to know Him more, I have come to the realization that I need to not only avoid being independent of those around me, but I need to stay very close to Jesus from one day to the next. As it says in the Psalms...

He only [is] my rock and my salvation; [He is] my defense; I shall not be moved. In God [is] my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, [And] my refuge, [is] in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God [is] a refuge for us. Selah

— Psalms 62:6-8 NKJV

...I need to be trusting in God always. Whenever temptation or my human frailty creeps up on me, I need to run back to Jesus.

Another verse that we are rather familiar with...

Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

— 1Thessalonians 5:17-18 NKJV

...is also an encouragement as it outlines exactly what I have found to be necessary in my life. Without going to Jesus on an almost hourly basis I have no strength to live a life that pleases Him.

As part of the Discipleship Program we've been reading The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Laurence. This book has been a great encouragement to me in my learning to walk closely to Jesus. Brother Laurence describes what it looked like for him to walk with Jesus; doing every act solely out of a deep, heartfelt love for God.

He also describes his challenges in this growth. I can see myself, toddling along, beside the great strides that he was taking. Of course, he had decades of experience and practice; just as in everything else, practice makes perfect.

This is my desire; to walk with Jesus daily, hourly, and minutely. If I'm not there yet (I'm not), I will keep going forward and growing as I walk. Maybe by the time I become a senior citizen I will have steps to match Brother Laurence.



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Is there a place where one can encounter the presence of God more than in another place?

This question surfaced in my mind after what I experienced a couple weekends ago.  We went camping… and it was amazing. The lake was right near our campsite, the birds sang loudly in the early mornings (not so pleasant for sleeping), the sunrise and the stars were so beautiful. It was so peaceful to go down to meet with God by the lake, in the calm, the wind, which caused the waves to crash against the shore. I could have sat there for hours just to soak in the beauty of God’s creation and most of all His presence. What the LORD showed me during that weekend was incredible! It was like my mind and spirit were so ready to hear from a loving Father everything was so clear. Each night I couldn’t wait to get up and go to the lake to meet with God, it was worth rising early, getting a bit dirty and cold to experience Him.

Only one thing was wrong: the camping trip came to an end. That meant tiredness from late nights and early mornings and being thrown back into weekly routine. But the worse thing was my excitement to meet with the LORD was gone. It was just another thing to do like it had been before. My mind was no longer clear and I couldn’t focus as easily as I had been able to at the camp. I longed for that experience again, but it wouldn’t come back.

Can I not learn? Do I not change? Why is it that some places cause me to experience God in a greater way?

Then the LORD showed me so gently the missing treasure: Expectation.

Expectation: “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” (oxforddictionaries.com)

I get up each morning to meet the LORD in the same place; nothing changes, it’s dark, I’m tired, I pray and read. But there is something I can change, and that is my expectation. On the camping trip I had high expectations, partly coming from being in a new place and in creation, God met and exceeded them. But when I walked into the house again, those expectations left, and everything was normal, just as I expected it to be.

I may not have a choice as to where I can go to meet with God, but I do have a choice as to what I will expect from those times with Him. I want to enter each time of prayer or reading with great expectation as to what the LORD will do and say with the Psalmist, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” –Psalm 62:5 KJV

Written by a disciple in the Discipleship Program



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discipleship-blog-showThis year is coming quickly to an end… It’s only a couple more weeks and grad will be here. I am sad to see this year come to an end, I have made many new and close friendships and I will miss them as we part ways.

Many people have asked us how it is possible to have seven girls living in the same house and still get along, and I too have often wondered the same thing. Before coming here and knowing I would be living with six other girls frightened me a bit because in my home I had six brothers and only one sister (who is twelve years younger than me) so I really didn’t have experience relating to other girls. I did have a lot of friends but I never had to live with them!

Looking back over this year I am amazed at how well it has worked living together! There was no need for me to be worried. I do not believe it would have been humanly possible for so many girls to live together except for the grace of God and the fact that we are all believers and came here for the same common goal and that was to grow in our relationship with the Lord.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been always easy… The first few weeks were very hard, I often felt alone and out of place with everyone being so different than what I was used to. I had never been away from home for more than a month and so that also made it hard because I missed my family a lot.

Some of the best times this year have been sitting around the supper table, having conversations about how our day went to what we learned in class that morning to many other random, funny topics that get us all bursting with laughter. I have also enjoyed Saturday cleaning, with seven ladies the cleaning gets done super-fast as we work together and have music playing. We have also done many weekend activities as a group that are always fun but for me it’s the random small things that I have enjoyed the most; like staying up late doing homework together, watching silly movies on a more free weekend, or going grocery shopping at 9pm with my domestic coordinator partner and having an Iced Capp with espresso to try and stay awake only to realize half hour later what a bad idea it was!

I think though that it has been through the difficult times that we have grown close to each other the most. Times where we lift each other up in prayer, whether it is because someone is not feeling well physically or someone is going through a difficult time spiritually. It has been a real blessing to know that if I am going through a hard time and need prayer or someone I know needs prayer I can ask the girls and they will stop what they are doing and take the time to pray.

Living together has allowed me to live out and practice the things I learn through the books we go through. I get to practice humility in not always having to have my own way, I get to learn how to be a servant and serve my sisters by washing the dishes, making dinner, or by surprising them with homemade cookies, etc. I have opportunities to show grace and love when someone does something that irritates me, and I also learn to forgive and ask forgiveness when I fail in any of these areas. Corporate living has not only been helpful and a blessing as I have gone through this year, it is also preparing me for what the Lord calls me to in the future, whether it be going back home and serving my family, serving in ministry, or serving at a secular job. It has taught me to work together, serve others and to think more of others than myself.

Going through the book, Jesus Style has also been very helpful in showing me how to live and interact with others. It talks a lot about the lifestyle Jesus had while He was here on earth and how He humbly served all those that came to Him, Mark 10:45 says: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” And Philippians 2:6,7 “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”  And so as Christ served so we are called to serve. Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me to come to GFA’s Discipleship Program and to learn what it means to live as Christ and to give myself to serve others. I am also thankful for the staff that I have the privilege of serving with and the example they have been in showing me how to serve and love others as they willingly serve me and each other.

Written by a Discipleship Program Student



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All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

— Acts 2:44-47

This is what living in community with other believers looked like for the early church, but is it really possible to experience today? We lead such individualistic lives, each person is focused on what is happening in his or her own world, that it seems almost impossible to experience the kind of fellowship that we read about in the book of Acts.

Before coming to GFA’s Discipleship Program I had no idea what it would look like to spend a year with a group of believers who take community living based on the book of Acts seriously. The family here at GFA is passionate about loving Christ and that naturally results in a lifestyle of servanthood. John 13:35 says “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

So what does love actually look like lived out in practical everyday terms? True love means being willing to sacrifice. It is looking beyond your own interests, wants and needs to see how you can invest in the life of another. Christ-like love demonstrated through a lifestyle of servanthood is what I have experienced during my time in GFA’s Discipleship Program. I have had the privilege to be a part of a family whose one supreme focus is Christ and that results in a close and precious fellowship with each other.

At first I wasn’t sure how to receive this kind of love. These people seemed so radical I wasn’t sure if they could be for real. Who is actually willing to leave behind all that they are comfortable and familiar with, sacrificing relationships and their own dreams and desires along the way in order to be obedient to the calling God has placed on their life?

Who is willing to invest in other people’s lives and be an example of what it means to follow Christ?

It is people who have experienced the call of God on their lives. It is a radical call to live for something different than the rest of this world. It is what has brought each one of us here, staff and students alike, and it is the reason why we can live together in fellowship with one another, showing the same kind of selfless love that Christ did.

Every day I have the privilege to do life together with my family here. It isn’t always easy but on the difficult days we hold onto and encourage each other to continue pursuing Christ and remain steadfast in Him. My experiences as a part of this community will impact me for the rest of my life.

I have had the opportunity to learn from older brothers and sisters who have walked with the Lord for many years and don’t just talk about having a radical faith, they actually live it out. Their passion to reach the lost, dedication to a life of prayer and commitment to following God’s call on their life is what I desire and have now begun to experience in my own life.

I’ve realized that as a part of the Body of Christ I wasn’t meant to do life on my own. Just as my physical body is designed in such a way that each part is important and relies on the other parts to function, so it is with the Body of Christ. Eph.4:16 says “From Him (Christ) the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

This living in community has required of me a level of openness and honesty that I never had before. I’ve been learning that I don’t have to keep all of my struggles and failures on the inside. My family here truly cares about me and not just because of how I appear on the outside. They are willing to walk with me through good and bad times and care most of all about how I am doing on the inside. As I am learning to open up to the people around me I have also begun to realize my need to be totally open before the Lord. Close relationships both with the Lord and other people are developed only through trusting enough to reveal who I really am, even if it’s not always pretty. It’s definitely not easy but it is bringing me closer to the Lord which is right where I need to be.

What a journey this year has been, one that I wouldn’t trade for anything! My goal for this year in GFA’s Discipleship Program was to become more like Christ. Being a part of this community of radical believers has shown me what that looks like and helped me tune my focus to Christ.

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are

discipleship-blog-piano

automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.

— A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Written by a disciple in the Discipleship Program



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What a precious gift the Word of God is. in it we find hope, healing, courage, comfort and strength for each day. We also find things that we might not like so much at first are good for us in the long run, like the verse in Hebrews 4:12 which talks about what God’s word can do:

 

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

— Hebrews 4:12

As you can see, the Scriptures are full of promises for us. They are also filled with convicting and challenging verses that have the potential to cut swiftly and directly as we apply them to our hearts. My desire is to ingrain the Word of God deeply in my mind and heart so that when it is needed, the Holy Spirit can bring it to mind.

A passage I’ve been trying to memorize is James 3, and God is using His word to cut away the unnecessary and hurtful words that come out of my mouth. Our words have the potential to destroy someone and once they are spoken, they can either crush or build up. I desire that the conversations I have with people be uplifting and encouraging– not damaging. It is by the grace of God that fresh water will come out of my mouth which will refresh my recipients.

There are a few verses that talk about how the tongue is impossible to tame and that it is a restless evil. This really caught my attention. It seemed discouraging at first to think that our tongue cannot be tamed. As I kept reading, it became clear why that cannot be done. I, in and of myself “trying” harder cannot tame it; only God can through His Holy Spirit. As my body becomes the instrument of the Holy Spirit, life will flow out to those around me.

But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?

— James 3:8-11

- School of Discipleship student



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