I recently attended a denominational church conference with a staff member. The theme for the conference was praying for an open door for the gospel. This is based out of Colossians chapter four verses two to four. The leader of this denomination in his keynote address said, “There is a manifest desperation in the prayer that I’ve observed which is of God and is exactly the place that he would love to work. In a sense God has backed us into a corner and we have no other option but to pray for revival.”
Their denomination has had some struggles, which was the reason he mentioned being backed into a corner. What about us, are we waiting for struggles to drive us to prayer, or are we actively seeking the Lord now? Am I, are we praying for an open door for the gospel? I think far too often my prayers are focused on the little picture of what is happening in my life so that I fail to pray for what our Saviour is doing on a larger scale.
I realised again recently that my outlook on life is so much restricted to myself. This was highlighted in one of the books I was assigned to read this year. It was written by a godly man of the last century – Watchman Nee. In this particular book he pointed out that our love cannot be limited only to other believers. He states that God loved and died for the whole world, so we are not true imitators of God if we only love the brethren. This statement really hit me, as I have been one that would heatedly argue that our love is for other believers almost exclusively. Sure I would say that the entire world is to be loved, but that was mainly defined as a lack of hate, rather than an active serving. I would’ve said that we need to care and serve believers, but don’t really need to make the effort for others. We share with them the gospel and once they received it then we show love.
The Lord Jesus Christ, however, did not act in this way. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. He came to serve all men and women regardless of whether they would receive his love. When I refuse to love those who do not love me, I am, in the words of Jesus, no better than a tax-collector (Matthew 5:46). The attitude and love we are to have is summed up in this prayer that came out of the reformation:
Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on
the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within
the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit
that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those
who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for
the honour of your Name. Amen.
Written by a Discipleship Program Student
Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
If you look at the human body, it would not be able to function the way it was created to without its individual parts. If the leg is broken or the arm removed then the body will not be able to fully participate in daily activities with as much ability as one with the fully functioning body parts. Someone with one leg would not be able to run as fast as someone with two. Or someone born with not all of their fingers on a hand would not be able to pick up items as fast as someone with all five. This is the same idea when it comes to our spiritual effectiveness for the Lord. Often times He has to strengthen what we have allowed sin to weaken; He has to restore what we have not been exercising in order to make us effective in fulfilling His purposes.
Upon my arrival to School of Discipleship I came as someone who was used to gaining recognition from the world in order to bring glory to myself. Pride and self-righteousness had completely infected my body to the point that I would only use it for selfish gain. When it came to serving my roommates in the household or the staff at the Gospel for Asia office, it was if I had to learn to walk all over again. My body was so unfamiliar with it and my heart was very distant. Yes, I would serve others and walk in a way that represented my status as a Christian, but when it came to doing it for Christ’s name and not mine, I realized how weak my hands and feet were. They had been powered by a love for self and not a God empowered love for others. That was my root problem, and no amount of Scripture reading or memorization revealed it to me. It was only when I was challenged to lay down my life in service to others that the Holy Spirit would bring to light the selfish character that I had nurtured all my life.
God has mostly challenged me through the lives of the 5 female students and our house mentor that I have lived closely with this year. When I imagined a house with 7 girls, I automatically thought that there would be a power struggle. Someone was bound to think that the way they wash dishes, do laundry, make their bed, or even sleep at night is the right way and everyone else was wrong. When everyone comes from different backgrounds and lifestyles this is usually bound to happen, and it is the very thing that can eventually cause division in the home. To be quite honest this is what I expected upon my arrival at the door of the house I would be calling home for a year. My confidence in my expectation caused me to stay awake, waiting to hear the one who would be blamed for keeping everyone awake because of their loud snoring. Unfortunately I was the one keeping myself awake, as I eventually realized that I had been blessed with roommates that sleep pretty peacefully. Not only did He bless me with roommates that don’t snore, but with ones that He had handpicked to die to self and exemplify His love and grace. It has been a learning process, but we have faced and conquered the challenges together. A house that I expected to be emotionally chaotic is where we cook, clean, laugh and even cry together creating some of the most precious moments of my life.
As much as I love these girls, God has been using them in my life to challenge me in ways I’m sure they are not even aware of. I never knew that God would have a plan to use them to reveal parts of my character that have been holding me back from fully reflecting His image and very likeness. They have been assigned by God to strengthen my legs so that I can walk in love, patience and self-control. As I have had countless opportunities to give up and shrink back in the battle, they have stood by my side and lifted me up in prayer. Now my desire to serve them stems from love and not selfishness.
I am so thankful that the Lord has handpicked us to go through this journey together. I treasure the moments that we get to worship and glorify the Lord together in this life, but I rejoice knowing that we will one day be before the throne of God in eternity. It is where we will use our hands to forever worship the God who has set us apart, pursued our hearts and called us to surrender every part of ourselves as an instrument for righteousness. We have a goal to have an intimate Father-daughter relationship with God as we grow to be His hands and feet in this fallen world. Together we pick each other up and persevere to grab a hold of our hearts desire.
—School of Discipleship student
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This year is coming quickly to an end… It’s only a couple more weeks and graduation will be here. I am sad to see this year has come to an end. I’ve 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. I, too have often wondered the same thing. Before coming here, the idea of 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’ve 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. But it’s the random small things that I have enjoyed the most: like staying up late doing homework together, watching silly movies on a free weekend, or going grocery shopping at 9pm!
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 because someone is going through a difficult time spiritually. It has been a blessing to know that if I am going through a hard time and need 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. 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, but 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 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 Gospel for Asia’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 one another
Written by a Discipleship Program Student
On August 16th 1812, after only one day of bombardment and a mere seven casualties, General William Hull the commander of the American forces in fort Detroit surrendered his command to a British force of approximately half the size of his. With the greater size of his force, he should have been able to win the battle. Why did He give up so easily?
Prior to the bombardment, Sir Isaac Brock, the British General, through several ruses caused General Hull to believe that the British force was significantly larger than his own. As General Hull focused on the perceived size of the enemy and the barbarities that he believed the Native allies of the British were capable of, he was destroyed by fear. Because of the fear in his heart, he gave up with almost no fight.
Lately, as I have been perusing my social media accounts, I have been noticing that people are worried about the Moslems doing this, the government doing that, and churches compromising Christ all over the place. As the reports are pulled together in the news feed, I have the tendency to believe the problems are greater than they are.
This isn’t limited to social media, when we get together with our friends how often do we discuss that the world seems to be taking over and Christian influence and freedoms seem to be diminishing? This is focusing on the enemy and his work. When we do so, we run the risk of being paralysed by fear as General Hull was. When we are focusing on what Satan is doing, we may miss what God is doing. In the past month or so, God has opened my eyes to what He is doing just in my own circle of friends.
Through the course of the year, we in the Discipleship Program, have an opportunity to go home for a week of holidays. I recently returned from my said week. While I was home, I was greatly encouraged by what I heard and saw God doing. On the day I returned home, a young lady from my Church was leaving Canada to serve God as a nurse overseas with BIC Canada Global. The first Sunday that I was home, I was talking with a young man from my college and careers group and learned that he was going through NTMC’s training. I had the opportunity to meet with my pastor and during the course of the conversation he shared with me a bit about what is happening in the Church. During the year and a half plus, that I have been part of the Discipleship Program, God brought a family into the Church who then went on to Bible College. I never had the opportunity to meet them, however it is quite encouraging to know how God is moving among those at home. He also shared how the Church has begun to focus on revival. Because of this focus, a member of the congregation suggested that they start a prayer meeting and currently about a sixth of the Church is meeting once a week for prayer.
Take a moment to think about those around you, how is God moving among the people around you? Then think if God is doing all this just among those we know, what is He doing in the areas we don’t know about? When we hear about discouraging things and our world seems to be falling in around us, we have a choice. We can either focus on what Satan and his servants are doing and be overcome by fear, or we can look to God and realise that there are more with us than the enemy and in Him we triumph. In the battle for Detroit, General Hull could’ve won if he had have been taken in by a bluff. We are more than conquerors in Christ, let us purpose not to be taken in by Satan’s bluff.
—School of Discipleship student
Some people like to live alone and others don’t think they could survive. But everyone has a family and needs a family because we were created that way. Of course family doesn’t have to be blood related, family are the people we treasure the most.
I’ve been at Gospel For Asia’s Discipleship Program for 1 year and nearly 8 months. I’ve lived in the same house for this time, with the same people for the first year and then a few different people for the second year. I’ve gone to serve at the same office every week day with these people and others for this whole time. It’s like a family. No, I’m not related to any of the people here, I didn’t know any of them before I came. But they are family, and as a house we do everything together. We get up at 6 AM on Monday morning tired and quiet to pray together for the day ahead, we all understand each other because we’re feeling the same things, we slowly travel downstairs to exercise together still tired and quiet. The kitchen is busy at 7 AM as everyone is eating breakfast and getting their lunch for the day, but no one fights or argues, we’re all polite and love to serve each other. Then our house remains silent and empty, because we all head to the office for prayer and ministry service. We come home at 5:30 PM, tired and hungry. A couple of us cook a meal for everyone. At 7 PM we sit down and enjoy each other some more, we’re more awake than in the morning and are able to talk and tell about our day – the joys and the challenges because everyone understands. They’ve struggled with similar things too. I love this family I have, I wouldn’t trade them for anything, but I didn’t realise how close I am to these people until I thought about leaving at the end of the year. They are my friends that I can rely on, as Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (ESV). Here I have made friends who are closer than my own family. I still love my family very much, and I know they love me, but these people know far more than my family does about what I’ve experienced this year and 8 months. They are the friends I won’t forget.
Though I believe I could live alone if the LORD called me to do it, I have found a greater joy in living with others who have the same vision and goal as I do. I want to find family wherever I go because I believe it is God’s plan that His children (Christians related through the blood of Jesus) live together in unity and love, able to say to like Jesus did in Matthew 12:48-50, “But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
—School of Discipleship student
God has angels, why does he not use them for His work instead of man?
In Pastor Damian Kyle’s message “The Fall of a Great Man” from the series “The Making of a Psalmist” he asks this question and also answers it.
Damian Kyle is focusing on the time in David’s life where he falls into sin with Bathsheba. Now there isn’t any way we as humans can be perfect. Sin will always find a way to express itself but Damian Kyle said that when we are occupied with doing the Lord’s work, we are less likely to fall into sin. That would be one of the reasons why we are chosen to do God’s work.
Even when we do fall into sin, He gives us the victory in trials. He picks us up and tells us to try again. Being in God’s will, might be hard but being outside of His will, would be even harder. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10. We are God’s masterpiece, Christ has restored us to Himself and we are now holy and blameless in His sight. “Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without fault.” Colossians 1:22
This brought a new question into my mind; why wouldn’t God use us for His work? Without the perfection of Christ I am nothing. Because I am incapable of living a perfect life I need the application of the righteousness of Christ.
When Christ came to die, His joy was set before Him and that joy was me. In His eyes, we are nothing less than perfect. “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil – the commander of the world of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised from the dead.” Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-5a
—School of Discipleship student
School of Discipleship CA
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