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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The past few weeks I have been reading through 1 and 2 Chronicles. I used to not really like studying the lives of the kings of Israel because honestly, I found them quite annoying. I mean, what was wrong with those guys? They just couldn’t seem to stay on track! There would one good king who would follow after the Lord with all his heart and after that would be 2 or 3 bad ones who would cause the whole nation to turn away from the Lord. They never seemed to be able to learn from the mistakes of those who went before them and it was almost like they wanted to bring trouble upon themselves.

Recently I have begun to gain a bit of a different perspective as God has been challenging me to see myself in the lives of those kings. It hasn’t necessarily made me like Chronicles more but it has certainly been eye-opening as I am learning that often I am a lot like those kings that I found so annoying! So many times, I make the same mistakes over and over, refusing to listen to the Lord’s voice and instead becoming focused on myself, my wants, desires, and will.

One verse that really stood out to me was 2 Chron. 12:14 which speaks about the downfall of King Rehoboam.  It says, “And he did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord." I noticed that seeking the Lord seemed to be the missing piece for those kings who went astray. Whether it was wealth, security, relationships or their own pride, somehow their focus was turned from following the Lord to going after their own ways.

I was reminded of the importance of keeping my focus in the right place when I had the opportunity to go horseback riding a few weeks ago. For horses there are so many possibilities for distraction when out on the trail. There are spooky holes and strange objects along the way, green grass to stop and eat, pesky flies and birds that come up out of the middle of nowhere. If a horse is well trained it knows that it must tune out everything else and focus in on one thing only, that is the cues that it receives from it’s rider. These can be verbal cues or physical touch, but it must be fully in tune with its rider in order to not miss the cues when they come.

In my experience, the person I was riding with had spent a lot of time with her horse so it was well trained and  sensitive to the voice of its rider. My horse on the other hand was older and hadn't been ridden much for several years. She was constantly wandering off track and seemed to be dulled to my commands. Her mind was only focused on one thing and that was getting back home so she could be free of her rider and go back to enjoying her horsey life!

In my own life God has been showing me that in order to not get turned aside by the many distractions that try to pull my heart away from Him I must stay sensitive to His voice and be attentive to His cues. These can come through  spending time in His Word,  being with others who are also seeking after Him or simply while in the day to day activities of life. If my heart is consumed with my own plans and desires it becomes so easy to wander off track and be dulled to the voice of the One who is leading me. God desires that I am continually walking in His presence in order that my heart might remain sensitive to His voice and leading.

Going back to Chronicles and the lives of Israel’s kings, I am encouraged to remember that no matter how many times I fail or refuse to listen to the Lord’s voice He never fails to draw me back to Himself. 2 Tim. 2:13 says “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” I am amazed by His abundant mercy and grace towards the Israelites. When they turned their hearts towards Him and began to seek His face He was always faithful to answer their cry. He could have just said that they deserved the trouble they got and left them in the mess they were in , which is what I would've wanted to do. Instead He promised that when they would humble themselves and seek His face, turning from their wicked ways, He would hear their cry and forgive them. I am so thankful that God in His mercy never leaves me where I am at but is continually working in my life to shape and mould me into His likeness.

 ~ Disciple in the Discipleship Program



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I’ve often wondered how different my life would be if I practically lived out Matthew 25:31-46. This portion of scripture is where Jesus is talking about the final judgement and how those that took care of people in need were welcomed into His kingdom and those who had not were condemned to death. This verse is what the Lord has been putting on my heart, which is causing me to look for ways to minister to those people around me. “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ A few verses before this Jesus is shares the ways we can minister to those around us in need and He talks about visiting those who are in prison, clothing those that are naked, hungry and so on.

So, the question is, in what ways can I be Jesus to my neighbours and show love to them? I didn’t need to wait very long to see how to do that. Being part of the GFA Discipleship Program has given me many opportunities bless those around me which has brought much joy. As we were preparing for our first Community Outreach Event there was a growing anticipation in my heart and a bit of hesitation as well for what it would look like to interact with our neighbours. When it comes to crowds I get nervous and want to be behind the scenes; this wasn’t possible because I was assigned to lead the children activities.

Children

Much prayer and seeking the Lord was done beforehand to see what would spark an interest in our community and when all was said and done we hosted a Free Pancake Breakfast. There was much planning and prepping beforehand, making sure all the details came together and it seemed to bring our own home office even more together in getting everything ready, which was an added blessing. Many hands really do make work light.

The morning of our Community Event, which was in celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday, came bright and early with both energetic and sleepy people to help setup for this special time. Soon our neighbours started coming and what fun it was to meet and greet everyone.

Colouring Contest Sign

Our morning was filled with delicious pancakes, good conversations, colouring contest and a pancake race for children of all ages. We were able to share a meal with our neighbours and show them the love of Jesus and it was over way to soon. There was such excitement inside my heart with how we had been able to bless our community that I am ready for the next event with less hesitation. My heart was filled with joy and I was not at all waiting for the morning to be done.



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#1 I came to grow in my walk with the Lord.

discipleship-blog-pathThe focus of  GFA Discipleship Program is to know Jesus more fully and intimately and that is what I was longing for in my own life. Growing up in a Christian home I knew a lot about what it meant to follow Christ but often times knowing was only as far as it went, I didn’t actually live it out. I felt frustrated because I knew my walk with the Lord was not where it should be at but I didn’t know what to do about it. In my heart I wasn’t satisfied with just a superficial relationship with the Lord. I wanted to experience that kind of Christianity that I read about in the Bible, to look beyond what I experience in the here and now and live in light of eternity. It was out of this dissatisfaction with “good enough” Christianity that God challenged me to lay everything aside for one year and come to DP to pursue Him.

#2 I came to be involved in missions.

When I was 18 years old I went on my first short term mission trip to Malawi, Africa and it opened my eyes to the reality of a world in need of Christ. God challenged me to see the people I met as He did, broken and lost without Him, and He began to stir in my heart a desire to commit my life to reaching the world with the hope of the Christ. I returned home knowing that God was calling me to be involved in missions in some way but not knowing how or what that would look like. It was around that time that I first started to consider coming to GFA Discipleship Program. It is a unique program offering young people the opportunity to spend a life-changing year at GFA’s home office in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada. Participants come to study and grow in true discipleship as well as serve in a ministry role alongside GFA home team staff. The program provided the perfect opportunity for me to not only be involved in missions but also to grow in my walk with the Lord. After learning about the program it took quite some time before I actually had the courage to commit to coming. I knew that God was calling me to set aside one year of my life to pursue Him but I wasn’t yet willing to leave behind all that I was comfortable and familiar with in order to obey His voice.

#3 I came to step out of my comfort zone.

I was never the type of person to pursue adventure. I would much rather stay with what was safe and familiar than to step out with faith into the unknown. Needless to say the decision to come to the Discipleship Program was a pretty major one for me. To start with there was fundraising, which meant I had to actually talk to people and ask them for money, there’s nothing safe and comfortable about that. I had to be willing to leave behind my home and family for one year, move across the country to Ontario, (Did I mention leaving the farm to live in the city for the first time?) and live with a bunch of people I had never met before. While I knew that stepping into the unknown would be scary I also knew that I would benefit greatly from it. Because I would no longer be able to rely on what I was comfortable and familiar with I was going to have to totally rely on the Lord and trust in His grace to see me through. I knew that the Lord was asking me to be willing to let go of reliance on self and instead rely totally on Him.

#4 I came to be a part of a community.

One aspect of the program that really stood out to me was the opportunity to live in community with believers whose passion is to love Christ and to serve others. I wanted to not only learn more about following Christ but to actually see it lived out in daily life. My desire was to learn from the example of 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. The staff and leadership of GFA are committed to knowing the Lord and giving of their lives to make Him known to the world around them. They were willing to invest in my life and allow me to be a part of theirs showing me what it looks like to live as a part of the Body of Christ. I knew that community living would help me grow in being willing to open up my life to others, which was an area of my life that I struggled with. My desire was to develop Godly relationships that would and encourage me to pursue Christ above all else and keep me accountable in my walk with the Lord.

Written by a Discipleship Program Student


Do you have a desire to know Christ more? A hunger to pursue His call? Don’t wait any longer—apply to GFA Discipleship Program and find yourself transformed in the year to come!




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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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