A Strong Tower

strong tower RJ250514BattleRhuddlan-03

It seems the storm around us is always raging which in this case would be translated into trials. Lately the Lord has been teaching me about fighting battles.  I have been finding encouragement from 2 Chronicles 20:15-17. My most common way of battling against my struggles in life is to worry and over process these things in my mind. Once the enemy has gotten me with worry he then proceeds to attack me with discouragement which is one of the enemy’s most successful ways of prying into our hearts. One day after the passage in 2 Chronicles was shared with me by a friend it really caught my attention and even more so after I went to read it for myself. King Jehoshaphat was instructed to not be discouraged, because the battle didn’t belong to him but to God. All he was supposed to do was to go out the next day, take his position and watch God take the battle.

At the same time as I read 2 Chronicles 20 I had been reading through 1 Samuel 14.

In verse 10 Jonathan say that if they are called by the Philistines to come up and fight and that it would be a sign that the Lord would help them defeat the Philistines. The Lord showed me how this can be true for me today. Even though my battles may not be an army of men, whatever it may be, health, battles of the mind, the Lord is ready to help defeat the army. The Lord desires for me to hand the battles in my life over to Him and there is no other way for me to find victory. With this I was so encouraged to know that no matter what comes my way it’s not my battle, its God’s.

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

The Perfect Proposal

perfect proposal

While learning about the divine characteristics of God, I have grown to really appreciate the outdoors. Climbing up a high peak and glancing over the scenery has never gone short of leaving me in awe; the sunlit clouds moving across the clear blue sky, the different shades of colour in the trees, and the clear view of the horizon. As I take in the beautiful view, I am reminded that this is the same God who gave up His Son so that I can be reconciled to Him. I am reminded that as far as the east is from the west, God has removed my transgressions (Psalm 103:12). This is the God who is holy, eternal, and knows me deeply and specifically. He is the One who sought after my heart and asked for me to unite with Him in fulfilling His purpose for the world. The beauty of the whole universe is a reminder of His proposal to me!

Before coming to School of Discipleship, I lived a life focused on gaining the approval from others. It was more important for me to be accepted by the people here on earth, than to live a life accepted and pleasing to God. Going through Crazy Love by Francis Chan, gave me a clear understanding of the love that God has for me. Francis Chan really emphasizes that even though I am a sinner who is prone to fail Him every day, He still chooses to love me regardless of my failures. He set me apart before I was born and chose for me to be a part of His glorious inheritance. How can I turn my eyes away from the God who offers the very thing that man cannot fulfill in my life? Does my life show that I have accepted His Love and His vision for the lost? Even as I write this, the feeling of guilt still overwhelms me.

In the book of Romans, God has a job description laid out for each one of His disciples. As a follower of Christ and a receiver of His love, I am called to go and preach the gospel so that those who hear will believe, call upon the Lord and be saved (Romans 10:14-15). If that is required of me, then I should not live a life staying idle and content with my bad work ethic. It reminds me of the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. Jesus tells the story of a master who went out to the market place and hired men who were standing there idle all day. When the master asked them “why do you stand here idle all day?” they said “because no one has hired us”. The master then gave them a job and sent them to go and work in his vineyard. This (according to Jesus) is exactly the perfect image of the kingdom of heaven. At one point in my life, I was standing idle, wasting my time and life. But God sought me out and hired me to be a worker for His kingdom and Romans 10:12-15 is the job description. This is what I’m required to do; it is why He has chosen to reveal His perfect love to me!

Father, thank you for offering me your perfect gift of salvation.

Thank you for choosing me to be your bride.

Thank you for surrounding me with your creation;

Never being able to forget your love and divine qualities.

Work in my heart and life so that I can be a vessel for your kingdom.

Give me the desire to draw others to say yes to your proposal

So that they can also bask in your unfailing love.

—School of Discipleship student

Abnormal Lifestyle

 

abnormal lifestyle RadicalSaviorRadicalFaith

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Not being conformed, to live differently than the world… Looking at this verse it’s easy to say that I do live differently, I don’t swear, I don’t dress immodestly, I don’t party, etc. But what if that isn’t enough? What if God calls us to a higher standard?

This past month or so we have been going through two different books, Touching Godliness by K.P Yohannan and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. They have really impacted my view of life. Life is so fragile and short; the Bible says it is like a vapour, here today and gone tomorrow. What we do in this little while, determines our eternity.

Deuteronomy 10:12, 13 sort of puts everything I have been learning in one paragraph. The verse says; “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?” It sounds simple but when I look at each command more closely I realize it is so different than the normal Christian life.

To fear God, means to show respect and reverence. How often do we give a hurried prayer asking God to bless our day and then not think of Him again until we are in need of Him? If we took the time to examine and really ponder over how great and amazing our God is, it would cause us to come before Him in awe and reverence.

To walk in His ways, how many of us truly live as Christ lived on earth? Do we love the poor and needy as he did? Do we take time to share the gospel with the people we come in contact with? Do we forgive those who wrong us and love those who hurt us? Christ did all these things and He calls us to follow Him.

To serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, this is taking it a step further. We are not only called to follow Christ but to do so with a joyful heart. Everything we do as we follow Christ must be done with a genuine heart of love and not because we feel obligated to serve. God doesn’t want half-hearted service; He wants all of us or nothing. Jesus said to pick up your cross and follow Him; He didn’t leave room for excuses or half-heartedness.

We are to keep His commandments; someone asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” When we are more concerned about things in our lives than the things of God or God Himself we break this commandment. How many of us even think about others half as much as we think of ourselves? I know I don’t!

The most encouraging part of this verse is the end of it; God commands these things for our good. God wants us to enjoy life and make the most of it and He knows the only way to do so is by obeying these commands.

As you probably have realized by now, this sure doesn’t sound like the life the world advertises. In my personal life I find it difficult to stay focused on Christ and the things that will count for eternity. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day, to worry about all the little things that happen throughout the day. What encourages me and keeps me going is that we don’t have to do it on our own. God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us and gives us the power to live out this abnormal lifestyle.

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

Abiding In Christ

Abide:  to stay or live somewhere, to remain or continue, to wait for, and to endure without yielding.

 “Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Jude 21 ESV

School Of Discipleship has been so good for my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I am growing in my love for him and learning to abide in Jesus like never before, by the help of the Holy Spirit. I am starting to learn what it is like to abide in Christ and in the love of the Father. It was during my time of solitude that the Lord started showing me a little glimpse of what is means to abide in Christ.

I was sitting outside for solitude on a lovely spring day, waiting on the Lord to direct me where He wanted me to read that it seemed he was directing my attention to a man who was pruning a tree. As I watched him prune away the dead branches the thought came that I should read John 15. This is where an absolutely amazing journey began (which I hope never ends). God started teaching me what it is like to abide in Jesus. I say started, because to abide in Christ and grow in Him takes time; it doesn’t happen overnight.

vs 1. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. vs 2. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. vs 4.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me… As my Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.”IMG_2296

While reading John 15, I was struck by how many times the words “abide”, “in me” and “remain” show up in the first 11 verses. I think Jesus is trying to tell me something. Jesus was and is trying to drive home a point! I need to abide in him and in his love all the time! When hard times come (which they will) we are to abide in the Lord Jesus. The times of pruning in our lives are when the vinedresser cuts away the dead branches that hinder us from bearing fruit. When they are gone, we can grow and yield lasting fruit that glorifies our Heavenly Father. There may be things in our life that distract us from abiding in Christ and loving Him relentlessly.

This is a wonderful promise from God. As we keep His commandments, we will abide in his love! The Holy Spirit is our helper and guide and He enables us to abide in Jesus. It is hard to share everything that I felt like the Father was revealing to my heart as I watched the man prune the tree and as we read John 15:1-11. I am the branch that has been grafted into Jesus the true vine. The dead branches which are being pruned away from me are the things that take the place of God in my life. I can rest assured knowing that my Father knows what He is doing in and through my life. The fruit that will come from this will bring glory to the Father, which is what truly matters.

 

Waiting On The Lord

Waiting-Lord-DSC_0211During my solitude time this past week I was reading from Isaiah chapter 8 where God speaks to Isaiah about the coming judgement against Judah. Because of their wickedness, God is going to send the nation of Assyria to punish them and carry them away into captivity.

God reminds the prophet Isaiah in the midst of all of this not to be overcome by fear but to keep his focus on God. Verse 13 says, “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.”

In times of difficulty and struggle, it can be so easy to take our eyes off of God and to be overcome by the fear of man, but God says that He is the One we are to fear.

To fear God means to live in reverential awe and respect of who He is. When our focus is on the power and might of our God, we will no longer be concerned about what is taking place around us. We can trust that God is in complete control.

Further on in Isaiah 8 verse 17 says, “I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in Him.”

Isaiah knew that He could put His complete trust in God and had faith that God would use the Assyrians to bring His plan to pass.

Waiting on the Lord means to be attentive to His voice and to be constantly in tune to what He is doing. Just as a waiter at a restaurant has the job of making sure the needs of their customers are met, so we must be looking to see what God requires of us and how we can serve Him.

When I am facing a spiritual battle it is so easy for me to focus on what is going on around me instead of keeping my eyes on the One who is in control of the situation. Instead of waiting on the Lord and being attentive to His voice I allow fear and anxiety to overtake my mind. God used this passage in Isaiah to remind me that my mind must be continually on Him. He is the One that I should fear and stand in awe of. I can wait on Him and rest in the assurance that my trust does not lie in man but in God, who is sovereign over all.

“If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people”

– Charles Spurgeon

 

School of Discipleship CA

—School of Discipleship student

God’s Plans, Not Mine

God's plans WP_20160508_008

“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands… Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD God disciplines you.” Deuteronomy 8:2&5

It has been the cry of my heart for years that God would call me to be a missionary and use me to do something significant for Him. Last year God closed the door on what I had been counting on doing and longing for. I was upset, I couldn’t accept the reality of it and believed it would still happen. Then God showed me why I was so upset. I had my own plans that I had given my life to and when God changed them, not only was that moment shaken, but my whole future.

It didn’t happen just once. God also opened a door I counted on being closed. I wrestled within my heart and fought the will of God, until finally I accepted it and followed Him. I can’t explain the peace that filled my whole being each time I surrendered my plans and submitted to God. He waited so patiently for me, just like a loving Father, not letting me have my own way.

Now as I look back I realize that for the longest time I had fooled myself into thinking, I was submitting to God’s plan. In my outward actions I was, but my heart was set on the things I wanted to do. Without knowing it, I put my plans above God. They were good things I was longing for, but when they became more important to me than God, my walk with the Lord was hindered. As I read this verse from Deuteronomy, I see what God was been doing. I thought He was keeping me from something good, instead all this time He has been patiently teaching me to follow Him and preparing me for what lies ahead. He’s been testing my heart just as He did to the Israelites, to see if I’m really willing to obey His commands; He’s disciplined me in a gentle and Fatherly way.

My longings aren’t gone. I still hope and pray for God to open the door He closed, yet I know His timing is best – better than any of the plans I have. I hope that when God changes my plans I will be quick to surrender to His ways. I may have learned this lesson once or twice, but I have to continually surrender my plans to God. Every day is a choice.

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

The Danger of Independence

I have an independent personality. I’m not saying that I’m rebellious or disobedient (though there have definitely been times those would describe me). I just like to do things myself.

If I can do it well, then let me do it alone. If I think I know how it works, leave me alone and let me work. If I don’t quite know, I’ll get the documentation and figure it out. That is what I have learned about how I work. I didn’t realize any of this before I came to School of Discipleship. I have come to understand just how independent I am since attending this program.

I have learned since being here that I can’t afford to be independent. There are aspects of life that just don’t work doing it alone. I share a house with two great guys, and they are there to help me through my struggles. The days I’m on an emotional roller-coaster, I’ve learned the best help is the help my brothers can offer to me. I used to wade through chest deep problems on my own and tell people I’m fine. I was independent.

When I need advice I’ve learned to ask. I honestly can’t remember ever asking my father for serious life advice. Now I realize that I need advice. God has placed people in my life who know more than I do, or have even gone through the exact same situations. Asking for advice is not something I used to do. I was independent.

The danger of independence is that I could suffocate alone, drown in my own problems, or panic over decisions others have made.

Father keep me dependent.
Empty me of my selfish pride.
And when I am crooked or bent,
Straighten me to be at your side.

Teach me to learn from the others
With whom You’ve surrounded me,
And keep my heart close to my brothers
That my life should be pleasing to Thee.

School of Discipleship US

From a Cold to a Caring Heart

kid on street

I didn’t come to School of Discipleship for the missions aspect. I grew up in a church that was often talking about missions, but I never had a heart for it. Missions was not something I ever wanted to do or worry about. I came to School of Discipleship for my walk with God, because I wanted to deepen my walk. My walk definitely deepened.

I have and am discovering that the closer my walk with God is, the more I seem to have a genuine heart for people who don’t know Christ. I find myself hurting for the fact that there are children across the world that have never known what love is. I was reading No Longer a Slumdog and my heart was breaking over the children mentioned in the book.

It has taken more than a book to break my heart. It took my coming here, being discipled, and genuinely seeking God more than ever and allowing the Lord to work in me. For my heart was cold when I came. I saw and heard of the conditions that millions of people go through every day but my heart did not break. There was no sorrow or great desire to see them restored. However, I knew that the Lord’s heart breaks for those who suffer and I wanted to have the Lord’s heart. So that was part of my prayer this year, “Lord break my heart for what breaks yours. Help me value these people I don’t know. I want to see them as people and not just sad photos”. They are real people. I know they are. However, the truth is I don’t see them that way.

I can say the Lord has changed my heart in countless ways; one of those ways is having a heart for people. I’m still growing but I can say that I am finally starting to see the national missionaries as who they are; my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I can see the suffering children as precious, valuable and desperately needing to be loved. The Lord has used this whole time here to shape me and give me a new heart that I don’t recognize. It’s the most amazing thing and I thank God for it.

 

School of Discipleship

Bridge of Hope

Pursue God for God

These past couple months in School of Discipleship have been wonderful, yet hard.

God has been teaching me a lot about surrender. It’s revealing—I’ve been praying for the Lord to show me things in my heart and about my character that aren’t of Him. Now that He is showing me, I’m seeing how complacent my Christianity has been. We have been reading The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer (if you haven’t read this book, please do!), which has been the catalyst to all this realization. I didn’t understand how much of my motivation for seeking the Lord was self-focused: “what can I get out of this”, “what can I improve on”, ‘‘what can I get right by following God”. All those I”s! Those are some of the questions I would ask myself to stimulate my walk with God. I had to sit back and reflect on when I have sought the Lord to learn more about His character, His love, and His personality. The fact is that I can’t remember when that was. Maybe it is due to having a bad memory, or because I never pursued God for God. It has been painful to realize that it has been the latter.

Pursuing God needs to be about God. This is the wonderful part! My viewpoint on going through life has completely changed. Instead of living my life and trying to make as much time for God as possible, it needs to be the opposite: I live for God and make as much time for my life as possible. As simple as that sounds, it has been groundbreaking for me.

When I wake up in the morning, it’s not about making time for God in between all my daily tasks. It’s about making time for my daily tasks in between meeting with God. I’m so thankful that it’s all about Him and not about me. My issues and struggles look massive to me, but to God and His strength, they don’t stand a chance. Psalm 139 has been a beacon for me, directing me on what to pray for and showing me the straight awesome facts about the God we serve. Psalm 103:8-14 will always be my heart’s favorite verses, but 139 is getting up there! Praise the Lord for His faithfulness in revealing these things to me. I’m so ready to run hard after Christ.

—School of Discipleship student

Gospel for Asia

School of Discipleship

What can a Thermostat Teach You?

pic of thermostat

Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship is certainly challenging, but not always as I would expect. An example of this is the thermostat.

It was my first morning after I arrived at School of Discipleship. I had got in relatively late the previous night and thought I’d go downstairs to get more of a feel for the house and what was where; maybe even meet a housemate who had been out the previous evening. No such luck, but I did notice that I was freezing.

Shouldn’t cause any problems; I sauntered over to the thermostat to change the heat setting.

I’m from Canada, and Canada has been using the Metric system for decades; since well before I was born. So when I looked at the thermostat and it read 70 degrees, my first thought was why was I cold and not dying of heat? Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. Then I remembered that it was Fahrenheit. I looked up online what 70 degrees Fahrenheit was in Celsius and found that it was 18 degrees Celsius! Small wonder I was cold. I bumped the thermostat up a couple of degrees and the house became more tolerable.

That was not exactly what I expected for difficulties. Trust me, that’s not been the extent of my challenges. However, it taught me that what I think, and what is, aren’t always the same.

 

Gospel for Asia

School of Discipleship

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