The Perfect Proposal

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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

 

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“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.”                                                                                          Romans 12:2

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 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. These books have really impacted my view of life. Life is so fragile and short. The Bible says it is like a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. What we do in this little while determines our eternity.

Deuteronomy 10:13  puts everything I have been learning in one paragraph:

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:  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 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 around us ? 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 just 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 certainly didn’t leave room for excuses or halfheartedness.

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 His 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. What encourages me and keeps me going is that I don’t have to do it on my 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

Trust and Obey!

Trust-Obey-TD15-00796O what fullness of life, to trust and obey the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Having studied the book Touching Godliness by K.P. Yohannan, I have learned much about submission to authority, and how submission and obedience is the secret to an intimate relationship with God and with my fellow creation. It amazes me that submission to authority and obedience to the commands of that authority are the principles on which all invisible and visible things exist and are sustained. If GOD were not holding all things in order as the ABSOLUTE authority, this world would be absolute chaos. I’m sure I would have been annihilated a long time ago by a falling star, if God were not in control and holding all things in order with absolute perfection!

Unfortunately, my natural sinful arrogant nature wants to do everything but submit and obey to God and others. I realize this is my overruling problem; that as long as I want to live my own way doing what I think is best I will never truly come to know and live the life that God desires me to live — one of freedom and peace and joy!  The amazing thing is that we can live an intimate life with God with only one condition: that we die to ourselves. Hebrews 5:8 says that “Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered”. I guess that means we “must suffer” if we are ever going to come to a place of obedience. This is most certainly true but the amazing thing, is that what is already “wretched and rotten” is that which will suffer and die so that we can be raised anew to truly live a godly life! This is a most amazing exchange and oh so worth it. Learning to Trust and Obey Him, is to KNOW HIM and this is all we need!

—School of Discipleship student

True Discipleship

True-Discipleship-TD13-01075When I first started to read True Discipleship, I realized that I would be getting a lot of answers to questions that I had had in the back of my mind. Questions about Scripture passages like, “…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 (KJV)and “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33 (KJV). A few of the statements that Jesus said sound so radical, to the point of impossible. The thought that runs through my head is, “forsake all? is that even possible?”. The truth is that I can’t and never would be able to forsake all, because my flesh wouldn’t allow me too. The Holy Spirit in me is the only way. I cannot live a perfect life no matter how much I try but Christ indwelling my heart changes me more and more into his image. Christ enables me to be a Christian.  I claim what Paul said ” I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (KJV)

Believing that Jesus walked the earth is easy. Believing what He said and obeying requires faith and trust in God. To be a true disciple of Christ, I must hail Him as King over my life and obey when He speaks. Yet Jesus offers so gently, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:29. What does it cost on my part to be a true disciple and what is my motivation, is now the question. My part is surrender completely and know that Christ is worth it and worthy of all praise. Radical is the normal for a Christian because Jesus is the Christian life, He showed us how to live — To be different and to stand out by how we love one another (John 13:34-35).

—School of Discipleship student

Justifying Rebellion

justifying-rebellion-TD13-04142-PFIn School of Discipleship, we dug into the area of submission. I know, I know, it’s not really a top favourite thing to learn, but Praise God we did!  As a class, we read the book by Brother KP, called Touching Godliness. This book was something I know the Lord needed me to read!

I don’t really think I knew the vastness of submission, until reading and learning these materials. I think one can become so numb and senseless to it, as one continues to have the selfish mindset of rebellion. There is so much that God taught me in this unit! I learned that when I rebel to my authority God has placed over me, I am ultimately rebelling against God who sovereignly placed them there! I then become easy prey for the enemy to seek and destroy. Even when I submit half-heartedly, I am living in rebellion. What?!?  I thought when I rebelled, it was because I was right!! No, no, I am learning that it is more like a lack of faith and God’s promises! This is truly a startling thought to ponder!

I truly give thanks to God for this unit! Thank-you also to the facilitators that so clearly taught this, not only in the unit, but also by example!   Now, the hard part come, where I must pray for strength to live out what He has taught me. I believe this will be a battle that my flesh must continue to war against. But, Praise God for His grace! He reminds me that He is on my side in this war against self-centredness!

Father, may my focus be on You always! Even when I struggle to want my way, teach me to let go and cling to You! I praise You for your unending grace and patience as I walk this journey of life.

—School of Discipleship student

The Glories in Suffering!

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“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for his sake.” Philippians 1:29

What a blessing to have studied the book of Philippians and “The Calvary Road” in class the past couple weeks. I certainly feel like I have a greater understanding of suffering and the glories thereof. Time and time again the Holy Spirit has brought me to a place of sweet brokenness, as I am reminded of my Lord Jesus Christ hanging on a cross for me. It remains a mystery to me that God would go about bringing redemption to the world, through the ultimate sacrifice, our Lord Jesus Christ. Seeing as though I will never figure out God or His ways with my mortal mind, I am coming to a place of acceptance and faith realizing that in suffering is a hidden fellowship with God that will not be experienced in any other manner. O WHAT GLORY! WORTHY IS THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN!

—School of Discipleship student

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