1 Peter 1:19 “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” We are bought by the blood of Christ and the blood of the saints are the seed of the Church. If you would have asked me a few months ago what my church roots are or anything about church history I’d have only been able to tell you a very little bit. The Lord directed me to come for a second year of the GFA Discipleship Program and in this year I’ve been learning about Church History, which is proving to be very beneficial.
I’m in awe of what the death of Christ has done for me in making me a part of the Bride of Christ. The Apostle’s passion to see the nations reached with the love of Christ compelled them to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the extent that it cost them their lives. Those that came after them paid a heavy price of martyrdom, passing on the tradition and the Apostles Creed onto the next generations. Saints like Polycarp, Ignatius Tertullian and a host of others that would not back down on what they were taught and believed; they gave their lives for Christ in unimaginable ways. If it had not been for them we would not hold a Bible in our hands, have the structure and order in our worship services that we do today.
As I’ve been learning about the lives of the saints the verse in Psalm 116 starts to make more sense. When reading it before I wondered why the death of saints would be precious in the eyes of the Lord. Psalms 116:15 says. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Couple this verse with a quote from Tertullian an early church father. “The blood of the saints is the seed of the church.” This gives a glimpse of why the death of Christians might be precious to the Lord. I don’t fully understand the verse or the meaning behind it but I’m grateful for what others have gone through to give us the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In studying books like “Tried by Fire,” “Early Church History Made Easy” and a few others on early Church History I see that the Church has gone through very dark times. I was reminded in our last lectures that in the middle of all the darkness God is still working and keeping the Church alive, the Bride of Christ and preparing her for Jesus. Just like a seed when it is planted in the dirt, we don’t see what is happening but we trust that the seed dies, germinates and then brings forth life; so God kept His Church and will keep it until Jesus returns. We are one body with many different members and together we are the Church of Jesus Christ bought with His precious blood.
As I’m learning about what the Universal Church is and how it is one body which is being prepared for Christ return, I get excited because I am part of the whole Church. I, as a blood bought child of God, am part of the universal church. It is not about this Christian life being just Jesus and me; it’s much more than that. Every born again believer is part of the Body regardless of what church they go to. This realization makes me grateful to live in a community of like minded believers. We may be different and come from diverse backgrounds, but we are one in Christ.
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Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Silence is void of noise, movement or action. To be still is to turn off the noise, stop the movement and do nothing.
“But Lord, there’s a dying world out there?!”
God: “Be still and know that I am God…”
Me: “But how will they know that you love them if I sit still?”
God: “I will be exalted among the nations…”
Me: “Okay Lord, I will be still and know you are God.”
God: “I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:11 “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah”
It’s been difficult for me to be still and unmoved by all that is and could be going on . The restless “Jacob” in me says I need to be out there doing things and making a visible impact in the world and in the lives of people NOW. Circumstances around me shift like waves in the ocean, yet God is the Creator of the oceans saying “be still”. To my soul He also says “be still”. It’s a sobering reminder that God is in control and very active as I am still before Him who keeps the universe in place. Yes, there is a time to be active myself but there is a time to be still.
Having a mentor to help guide my steps through this year has been challenging in ways because I’m used to running my own show and set my pace. Having to concentrate my time and energy into a set time (one year) for a specific purpose has been hard to do. Especially dying to self has become less attractive when it’s actual dying to self, the flesh. It seemed that in order for me to be still before the Lord, and to realize that He is in control, that I needed to hit the wall. First, by being gently nudged by my mentor to “settle down”, I realized that she was right, though I didn’t want to admit it. I did and still do need to settle down more, not run around here, there and every where, but rather to be intentional in this unique setting God has placed me in this year. It’s easy for me to be busy with many “good” things but I’ve been reminded that the “good” isn’t always the best and right now the best is DP. It seems that when I still don’t quite get it, along comes the blessing of a seasonal virus. Everything continues as normal even when I’m sick and in bed. All this helps me to learn a single lesson, realizing that I can be still for God is still God. I am learning what it means to be still and let God be God because things go best when I’m yielded to Him.
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Our August 2017 application deadline has been extended to June 10th. We’d love to see you apply for our upcoming term!
Graduation is Coming Up
The August 2016 students have been here for almost a year, and it’s been awesome to see how the Lord has grown them during their time with us. We invite you to celebrate with us by streaming their graduation on July 25th at 4pm CDT . Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more info!
Check out what a soon-to-be-graduate said about her time in the program:
“My year was challenging at times, but very beneficial in my walk with the Lord. I learned to see His hand at work in my life, and to clearly hear His voice.”
— Kristina, August 2016 School of Discipleship Student
A Time for Rest and Recuperation
Earlier this spring, School of Discipleship staff and students took a weekend retreat for spending time in fellowship with each other and the Lord. It was a fun time and a wonderful blessing from the Lord!
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Apply for our August 2017 Term
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This past weekend we took some time to bless one of our staff families by helping them with Spring Cleaning. We had a great time and were able to finish in record time as we all worked together. The fun conversations, smiling faces and good food that we enjoyed made the work not seem like work at all! (The tiredness that I felt after we were finished though was a strong reminder that we had indeed worked hard.)
Since coming to the GFA Discipleship Program I have learned to appreciate living in a close knit community. Not only do we get to help each other with house cleaning or other projects that need many helping hands but we also get to help and encourage each other in our walk with the Lord. It is not always easy and many times I would rather run and hide than open up to someone about the things I struggle with. Having the opportunity to share with a sister in Christ who is my mentor and have them pray for me has been such a blessing! I don’t have to feel like I am alone in my struggle. I don’t always take advantage of the opportunity to go to her about what I am struggling with and it seems that the enemy has so much more control over my emotions to make me feel alone, unloved, and helpless to overcome.
My personality is more of an introvert, I like being on my own and don’t really like being surrounded by people for too long. I often use this as an excuse when I am struggling with discouragement or sin in my life. If God made me this way then maybe He will also help me to overcome on my own as well. Through many failed attempts in this I can assure you that this never helps! God didn’t make us as His children to walk alone, He created us to need others and help each other.
Hebrews 10:24-25 “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
I have really come to appreciate the three girls that I get to be a part of in the Discipleship Program. I have been blessed and also challenged by each one and their desire to grow in their relationship with the Lord. In our times of praying for one another we take some time to share any personal requests that we may have so that we know how to pray for each other better. I am often tempted to share something that is impersonal or very broad, not really share what I am struggling with personally. Many times I struggle with doubts and insecurities that I think Satan likes to use to get me not to open up so that I will continue to struggle on my own. The honesty and openness that I have seen from the other girls has helped me to also be more open and honest.
As the return of Christ is drawing near and the war against the power of darkness becomes more difficult, I am thankful for the Body of Christ. Together we are able to stand much stronger than if we had to stand on our own.
Romans 15:5-7 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
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Since coming back for Year 2 of the Discipleship Program my understanding of serving the Lord as an individual has been changed or shall I say gone out the door for me. I have the awesome privilege to serve at GFA Canada while seeing firsthand what it is like to be part of the body of Christ. Serving in the office and living with five young ladies has helped me to appreciate community living. I can observe the staff that are committed to living their lives fully for the Lord and in the power of the Holy Spirit. The book Guiding Principles of Believers Church by Dr. K.P. Yohannan, which we finished reading, has been a helpful tool in learning how to live in community. I’ve come to a new appreciation for the body of Christ. In my individualistic mindset I have missed out on many wonderful blessings that come from being a part of one body, which is the Church.
In reading this book the Lord started to point out some areas that need to be more fully surrendered to His control and motives that need to be honouring to Him. There was a quote from Brother K.P. that caused me to search my heart for areas that are not fully surrendered and serving in the Lord’s strength rather than my own. “It is impossible to serve God as He wants us to without being anointed but the Holy Spirit and receiving His supernatural gifts.” In order for the Lord to use my life to help fulfill the Great Commission I must be surrendered to the Lord and filled with the Holy Spirit.
There are many things we as Christians can try to do in our flesh that non-Christians can do just as well bringing change, but not lasting change that will glorify God. Take for instance working in an office, both can work with numbers and data and helping people; but one is probably very concerned about getting ahead on the corporate ladder and making big money where as in a ministry like GFA the desire is to see big numbers so that many will hear the Gospel and be added to the greatest corporation ladder which reaches to the Kingdom of heaven.
In Zechariah 4:6 it says “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the LORD of Host.” If all I do for the Lord is done in my own strength and with selfish motives, God is not glorified.
Having come back for GFA Discipleship Program Year 2, I have been able to build on the foundation that was laid last year where it was about surrendering and dying to self. This year is a continuation of building our character more into Christ’s character, which doesn’t happen overnight.
I am a work in progress and there are many opportunities to practice what the Lord has been teaching me and with the help of a community and the power of the Holy Spirit growth is happening. Daily I get to choose to die to my selfishness and bad habits, which are being replaced with the character of Christ like love, joy, peace and humility as the Holy Spirit is given more liberty to rule and govern my life. He enables me to obey the commandments of God, which is to love as Jesus loved and to give my life for others not holding anything back. My life is not my own to live as I please, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit as it says in 1 Co 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Also in Rom 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
While I am going through the Discipleship Program, I want to remember that as a Christian fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit the Lord’s work is not a burden or overwhelming, rather there is peace in being right where God wants me to be. This allows for overflowing joy in being part of helping to reach those that are half way across the world and an ever growing love for the LORD and the lost. I have a greater desire to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit not just “trying harder” to obey God, but rather to ask the Lord to fill and refill me on a daily basis. I like what Brother K.P. says in this book “The first step toward receiving the Holy Spirit is to acknowledge my need of Him.”
Written by a Discipleship Program Student
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