Facing Yourself and the Body of Christ

Anna Beth Harrison

The broken bridges, the desert plains, these are images that come to my mind when I think of what the past has been. I came here to School of Discipleship thinking my walk with the Lord would grow stronger and it did. What I didn’t realize is how I would face myself. When we truly seek the Lord and ask Him to change us, we will have to face who we really are, behind the walls, the gates, the bars and all the defenses we throw up. That is a hard thing to do: face yourself. When we get to know our true selves we won’t like who we are but we have to remember, the Lord changes us. He seeks out our hearts as we seek out His and He will change us, from the inside out. We have to allow Him to change us.

It will not be easy to bear as the Lord starts changing us, sometimes you’ll wake up and a fear that what you once had will be gone and you have to claim it and praise the Lord for it. Other times it will be a slow process. It will often be painful in these times. The world will seem to have flipped upside down but God is still God, no matter what. Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship is one of the safest places to really let your guard down before the Lord. As you let your guard down, your guard will began to drop with your housemates, your supervisors, and your department heads and that may terrify you. However, as will be reiterated and reminded of you many times over, the Lord is always with you, so lean on Him. The Lord has brought me here to Gospel for Asia for a reason and that is to grow in Him and part of that is change.

Something important to understand about School of Discipleship is that people will constantly encourage you into the arms of the Lord and that is the best thing that can happen. You can cry here, you can be vulnerable, it’ll happen at some point whether you want it to or not. There is so much of the Lord’s presence here and His heart is lived out. People will ask you if you are ok and genuinely want to know if you are. You may find yourself responding with disarming honesty, you may find that you can no longer give the phony answer. If you can or do give the phony answer, you’ll feel as if you’ve missed the opportunity to reach out and be part of the body.

That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned here, The Body of Christ. Christ’s Body is made up of so many other Christians and they are meant to be there for us, to exhort and uplift one another in the pursuit of God and His Will. I have discovered that the Body of Christ is a genuine thing and God has used it to soften my heart in areas I had not realized my heart was hard in. Don’t be afraid to grow, don’t be afraid to reach out to others, it’s hard and may not turn out as you expect but there are times God will use it. You will be blown away and through it all you will realize how much He loves you, cares for you, desires your heart and to know you. School of Discipleship is a tool God uses greatly to shape young Christians. Through School of Discipleship you will be introduced to a true Body of Christ (if like me you had never experienced it before) and yourself. It is good. Learn what it means to have a relationship with Jesus; School of Discipleship will teach you.

-Anna Beth

Christ’s Love Actually Displayed in His Body

Anna Beth Harrison

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am so thankful that the Lord has brought me here to GFA. I actually have lost count of the number of things I’ve learned while being here. Between the books, the classroom, work at the ministry itself, the community, prayer and even home life the Lord has taught me a lot. He continues to everyday. Something I have noticed that is hard for me to accept, believe or let alone realize is how treasured we are in Christ. God calls us precious; He compares us to jewels and prized possessions. Harder than that has been those moments with people who just stop and say, we love you. They genuinely mean it. That is Christ displayed in the Body. There is no reason we should be able to love each other so freely but we do because of Christ.

It seems every time I am going through some tough growing pains, the Lord uses His Body so openly to display His love and it overwhelms me. I am a weepy person, or as my mother once stated: some people would call that tender hearted. Either way the reality is that God’s love just pours out on us like a warm blanket or an amazingly comfortable bath. You’re just covered in warmth, His love. One of the mentors here once said to me, “Those pieces of your heart that the devil took, that were caused by your past; the Lord will and is restoring them. Don’t ever doubt that.” God loves us SO much, guys. I cannot emphasize this enough. There is no one on the entire earth that cares about us the way God does.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Did you know that a yoke was traditionally meant for two animals to pull? That means Christ is on the other side of that yoke, He is pulling it with us. This is the reason why His burden is light, because He is pulling it with us. Rather, He’s pulling it and God’s grace and strength is more than sufficient that He puts His strength in us and it seems that we are able to pull it. In the end, it is still Christ doing all the work.

Praise the Lord!

How God Spoke to Me

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God will often use other people to confirm what He is speaking to our hearts. The question is how do we know it’s from Him? In 1 John  4 God’s word says not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirit to see whether or not it is from God. With that said we must always check our hearts to make sure it is in line with the word of God.

I remember just last month my heart longing for more of God and desiring to give up anything that doesn’t stir my heart towards growing in Him. I was then invited to a birthday party for someone on staff here at GFA for a very Godly women that I highly admired and respected.  This woman is also a dear friend of mine and amongst our friends, it was always a tradition to ask the birthday girl or guy questions. One question I asked her was” what was the most important piece of advice that someone has ever given you that impacted your walk with God?”

Her response was to give up anything that doesn’t stir her heart more towards the Lord. She decided to give up her love for sports to fill that time with more of Jesus and to pour into the lives of others.  Sports in of itself is not a sin but anything that takes up space In our hearts, time and thoughts can become something that replaces God in our lives if we are not careful.

Looking back to her testimony often draws my heart to Philippians 3:8 “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.”  As a result of making this sacrifice she has grown more passionate in her walk, has led many people to Christ, and has a love for God that is so evident to anyone that meets her.

It is such a joy dear brethren to have a God that doesn’t force us to love Him yet gives us the choice. I have made a choice to love Him above all else and by His grace and with His help learning to trust that He is more than worth it.

The question, “Is He worth whatever you have to give up?” Well you will never know until you step out in faith to trust Him to fill your life with more of Him.  Jesus says in Matthew 22:37 to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and your entire mind.” I encourage you brothers and sisters, to humble yourselves before the Lord and ask Him to show what you have to give up so that you may do this. I am so excited to go on this journey with the Lord and I encourage you dear brethren trust God as I have.

White & Gold or Blue & Black?

Jo Dee

 

 

 

So I would imagine that many of you have either seen or been involved in “the dress” debate. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, there was a picture of a dress that was going around social media. Some people saw the dress as being black and blue, while others saw that the dress was clearly white and gold. I was fascinated, and, I admit, my roommates and I discussed the phenomenon for a good couple of hours.

But then I started to really think about it. How could I see a dress that was, to me, so clearly white and gold, but my housemates saw it as being completely opposite colors? I was intrigued and, at the same time, a little frightened. Who was it that had the wrong perception? What color was the actual dress? Was I going crazy? But we couldn’t all be right, when we saw things so differently.

Then I began to think about the bigger picture. How often do we see things from our own point of view—whether it is based on our past, our ideals, our beliefs, etc.—and insist that we are the only ones that are right? One thing I know is that we can’t always trust ourselves. Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” We, as humans, make mistakes. I know that I am not always right about everything. But sometimes I will insist that I am.
Long before social media existed, there was an even greater debate. One that started over 2,000 years ago and continues to this day. And it wasn’t over a dress. It was over a man. Some people said, “He is a liar and a blasphemer! And he must be stopped!” Others said, “He is a good teacher and He heals people. Leave Him alone!” Even a great ruler of that time said in John 18:38a, “What is truth [about this man]?” But Jesus himself asked the question to those around Him, “Who do men say that I am?” So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:27-29).

People will always be fighting and debating and arguing over something. That is what our sinful nature does. Our pride causes us to insist that we are the only ones who know the truth. Our perceptions are correct, because our pride won’t let us admit that we might be wrong. So is there any way to know what is actually truth, and what is just our own biased perception?

Yes. We can know truth. In fact, we can know THE Truth. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” When we are confused about situations, and don’t know where to turn—Jesus is the truth. When we are struggling with doubts and questioning people and even ourselves—Jesus is the truth.

When we feel our reality—the things we have always known and trusted in—shifting around us, I want you to know that Jesus longs for you to trust Him, to run to Him, to turn to Him with your questions and doubts. And in the end, you will be free. We don’t have to trust in ourselves, or our own abilities. It’s all about Jesus. Talk to Him and study His Word (the Bible). He is all you need, and that’s the truth.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Humility Exercised through Classes and Community

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What gives the blood of Jesus it’s power? Roy Hession states this answer in his book, The Calvary Road: “that which gives the precious blood its power with God for men is the lamb-like disposition of the One who shed it and of which it is the supreme expression. ”

For almost two weeks now, my whole class has been going through this book which emphasizes on understanding what it means to be broken and humble like Christ. We are finding plenty of opportunities to be broken and to love without expectations, especially because we get to apply everything we are learning at work and at home.

Since the Lord is in the midst of our everyday conversations and decisions, there is no way we could simply talk about brokenness and not find ourselves quickly dealing with our convictions when we offend someone or when we enter in denial of our need for God.

As for me, within this week alone, I have been offended by at least two people. Pride arises so quickly in me during these experiences and I would venture on to give excuses for my bitterness toward my offenders.

But there really is no getting around it.

I live with my peers and Jesus knows exactly how to make a reality what we have been discussing and reading about. Plus, we read Philippians 2-3:11 at least twice a week for the whole month of October. It speaks of considering others before oneself and thus exemplifying the life of Jesus, who is the very reason why we joined School of Discipleship in the first place! As a result, there has been a lot of “I’m sorry’s” and “I forgive you’s” going around. Praise the Lord.

By God’s grace, in the midst of my own struggles, I am becoming more conscious of the bigger picture. I am recognizing my self-focus; and more importantly, I am learning to obey the gentle rebuke of my heavenly Father. My peers and I are finding that there truly is power in the blood of Jesus through brokenness. Beyond the little annoyances and selfishness in our hearts is healing, true character building, and a deeper sense of fellowship through humility.

Our union as Christ’s body grows stronger each day as we obey the Lord’s voice in our individual lives. Thanks to our classes and the experience of living in an interdependent community all centered on Jesus Christ, the humble lamb of God. We are learning what it means to be broken and humble in the small things. How encouraging. Imagine the big things that God must be planning for our lives in the future to glorify Himself.

Praise Jesus.

Genuine Community

The 19th graduation of the Gospel for Asia School of Discipleship took place on Tuesday, December 9, 2914 in the Fellowship Hall.  There were 14 year one and 14 year two students graduating.  This is the first second year graduation and the first SD graduation at the new GFA USA Campus in Wills Point, Texas.After the ceremony the graduates spent time fellowshipping with each other, visiting family members and GFA staff.

Who would’ve thought that one word would carry so much meaning? When you type “community” into google, this is the top definition that pops up: “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I have struggled most of my life to find a place to belong. When I first came to Gospel for Asia to attend School of Discipleship, I didn’t have many expectations of finding that place to belong here. In fact, I was expecting to stick out like a sore thumb because this has been my experience my whole life. Even in the best situations like with my family or friends, I always had this lingering feeling of being on the outside.

I never understood it and having known the Lord most of my life, I would ask Him over and over why I had these feelings of not belonging: in my family, friends, school, college, even workplaces. Most of the time, I would think in the back of my mind: “would they even miss me if I was gone?” Well, since coming to School of Discipleship, I have experienced true community for the first time.

The fellowship that the Gospel for Asia staff and students has with one another is real and profound. Since my first step on the campus, they have intentionally taken the time to get know and welcome me. It has been incredible to see the love and genuine kindness expressed from each person here at Gospel for Asia. At first, I was overwhelmed and confused by the community; I didn’t understand why everyone was just so nice to me all the time! But the longer I’ve been here, the more clearly I see what their motives are. They love the Lord and it’s His love that pours out from their hearts, mouths, and actions when they interact with one another. “We love because He FIRST loved us” (1 John 4:19).

As I have been seeking the Lord during my year in School of Discipleship, I have a better understanding of how this community is so genuine and loving to each other. The second part of the definition of community is “having a particular characteristic in common.” Google is completely right! The community here at Gospel for Asia does have one characteristic in common: Jesus. He is the One who unites us and it’s His love and His sacrifice on the Cross that brings us together in a way nothing else can.

Community is just one of the ways the Lord reveals Himself to us. I mean, who else could unite people with such vastly different backgrounds, opinions, and personalities as they live and work alongside of each other?! No one and nothing but Jesus. I have been amazed and grateful to God for the community I have experienced at Gospel for Asia. And more than that, I know now that wherever I go, I can experience community with other believers because of Christ and my experience at Gospel for Asia.

-Laura

Allowing Myself to Be Vulnerable

Allowing Myself to Be Vulnerable

Was I Vulnerable?

The first day of orientation we started out with worship and prayer. To be vulnerable, I didn’t know any of the songs or hymns.  I was a little unsure why the Lord had decided that this is where I needed to be, I didn’t really know how to pray other than asking for forgiveness.

As orientation went on we had different people talk to us about the unreached in Asia, their personal testimonies, and their journey with Christ. I noticed vulnerability about each of the speakers, not where it was a weakness or a lack of confidence, it was their humility. I wanted to be transparent to others, but I was so good at hiding my past and pretending my life wasn’t broken that I had become accustomed to being defensive and putting up walls. As the weeks went on, we learned about core values, and humility was one of them. Jesus showed me how He wanted me to humble myself and be honest not only with others but to Him and myself. I struggled with the thought of sharing all my faults and failures and my past with other people, especially people in the Body of Christ.

I was afraid that my classmates wouldn’t understand or that they would think I was some awful person. A week passed by and one of the girls in my class invited all the girls in our class for testimony sharing, I was so nervous I prayed about going and sharing my story. I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to tell my new classmates about my past, I really struggled with this but then I realized that this was a chain of bondage that the enemy had over me. He had allowed me to believe that I wasn’t good enough to be saved, or tell my story with other believers because they would judge me.

When I looked to the Lord though, He told me I am worthy and this is a testimony of how mighty I am to save and how He delights over me and everyone who loves Him. I realized that I wouldn’t change if I didn’t speak up, and fill myself with humility and be vulnerable.

Before our testimony time, the Lord gave me courage and I was able to tell 4 girls my whole testimony before the official meeting, it was freeing and I was surprised with the reactions. I got hugs, and tears, and prayers of love. The official time came and I was so surprised about some of the struggles I had in common with other girls and I was the last to share. How I felt afterwards was indescribable. I felt lighter and not so heavy burdened.The Lord let me feel the freedom of humility. The girls reactions were nothing I expected. I was told I was beautiful and what an amazing story I had and how amazing the Lord is and how much He loved me. I received so many hugs, it was one of my highlights of my time in School of Discipleship. For the first time I understood the beauty of being in the Body of Christ. That’s what School of Discipleship has been so far for me, freedom to live in a community that is Christ centered, living within a body of Christ. I have the opportunity to learn from people who are filled with graciousness and Christ’s love. I have never once felt like I was being judged or I wasn’t “holy” enough. Everyone’s walk with Jesus is a lifetime commitment and I’m learning skills that will help me keep going no matter what I do. I am so thankful that the Lord has brought me here, and being in a place of constant encouragement.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His immense patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” ( 1 Timothy 1:15-17)

-Elizabeth

Why should I go?

Why should I go?

As my year at School of Discipleship draws to a close, there is the ever-present question of “what’s next?” or “what is God’s will for my life?” According to God’s word, I do know that “God’s will” is just that–“God’s will.” This means not my will–which ultimately means a total abandonment of self and all self-interests and the total consecration to the Lordship of Christ in my life!

As I have pondered the various ways in which I could legitimately lay down my life for Jesus and the gospel sake, the Lord told me to read Matt. 28:18-20. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth… Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” I had read this passage so many times and yet this time it stopped me and got me thinking really deeply concerning Christ and His eternal glory. As I felt the Spirit urging me to commit my life to pioneer missions amongst the unreached, especially to nations and peoples that don’t have any local witness, I questioned God by asking, “Why should I go? I mean, of what use am I to foreigners who will think me weird? And besides, I am not adequate to go anyhow.” The reply was very clear… “All authority has been given onto me”

“JESUS IS WORTHY!” This is the reason why I should go no matter how high the cost. In fact, the greater the price I am to pay to follow Him, the more precious and glorious He will become! The absolute Sovereign Lordship of Christ and His supreme glory over all the nations is what makes this such a “GREAT COMMISSION!” My only response can now be… “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

 

 

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