21st Century Lens

It has been a few months now since I’ve returned to the Discipleship Program for my second year and what a year it’s been already!

We are currently studying the history of the church. I know, I was thinking the same thing… Why study church history? I asked our GFA director this question and he mentioned that it is important to know the history of the church because it’s my testimony, and as a believer it’s my history. Though I accepted the answer, I still didn’t quite understand until we actually started going through our classes. I am also reading “Destined for the Throne” by Paul Billheimer; it has also really helped me to understand why church history is so important. Jesus is coming back for the church, His bride, that’s all believers of the past, present and future generations. What the early church believed and did impacts what I believe and do today, the early church also looked back to what the Israelites believed and had them as a role model.

As I am reading through the Old Testament (my goal is to finish reading through the Bible by the end of the year)  with this new thought of the church having existed since the beginning  of time it has helped me to understand the Holiness of God and His great mercy and amazing love towards us. All throughout history God has been building up His church and preparing it to reign with Him in Heaven.

As I read Deuteronomy, there are so many verses where God only asks the Israelites to obey Him and He promises that when they do He will bless them. The word “obedience” is not a pleasant thought, it makes me feel like I’m going to be bound and never able to do what I want. Deuteronomy 11:22 (NLT Version) says; “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in His ways and holding tightly to Him.” Reading this verse helped me put the word obedience into a whole new perspective! Now when I obey the Lord I know that He knows how much I love Him. My obedience is proof of my love and yet I find myself more often than not disobeying just as the Israelites seemed to do.

Reading about the Israelites journey and how God had to deal with their sin makes me so grateful for His great mercy! If he would still deal with us and our sin the way He did with the Israelites’ sin I would have been condemned to death a long time ago!! What a merciful and compassionate God we serve, who so willingly forgives us when we ask and who with patience continues to lead us to our everlasting Home!!

Written by a Discipleship Program Student

A Broken Life

This past month in class we have been reading through “Calvary Road” by Roy Hession. In the beginning I really struggled with the message of the book, this was mostly because it was so convicting for me. It was as if God was using it to point to all the areas of my life that needed to be dealt with and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew that God was going to have to do the work in me and I asked Him to do whatever it took to bring me to that point of brokenness before Him. It was one of those prayers that I didn’t really know what the answer would look like at the time, but all the way through the book I experienced God breaking me in answer to that prayer.

God showed me what true brokenness looks like. It is responding in humility to God’s conviction of sin. It is not a onetime thing, but a daily choice to surrender myself completely to the Lord’s will. Brokenness begins when I come to the foot of the cross and look upon Jesus who was willing to be broken for me. He was willing to give up His life and take upon Himself my sins, because of His love for me.

When I think of what Christ went through, it humbles me and puts me in awe of the incredible love of Jesus. He was willing to be broken, suffer and pour out His blood on the cross in a demonstration of complete obedience to His Father. In response I cannot refuse to follow in His example by being willing to yield my time, rights, reputation and will to Him, in order to be filled with His life.

The only way God can do His work in me is if I allow Him to put to death my sinful nature, so that He can live victorious through me. I have to be open to God’s conviction, allowing Him to reveal the sin in my life and then be willing to respond in obedience to His voice. I cannot change or experience brokenness through striving on my own. Only Christ can do the work in me through the power of His Holy Spirit.

As I daily walk with Christ He continues to bring to light the areas in my heart that I must surrender to Him. When I choose to respond to His conviction, I am able to experience the
nearness and intimate fellowship of my Father. For He is near to those who are humble and broken before Him.

“Lord, break me, then cleanse me and fill me
And keep me abiding in thee;Broken-Life-1S8GWOY55F
That fellowship may be unbroken,
And Thy Name be hallowed in me.”

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

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

Walking In The Footsteps Of Jesus

I have only been in School of Discipleship for two months and the amount that I have learned already is amazing. We have gone through the Core Values and now are reading The Jesus Style. Not only have I learned from these classes but the characteristics and values that we have studied are so well lived out by Gospel for Asia staff. I count it a privilege to be here and have these servants to look up to, to follow and learn from their example.

A few of the characteristics of Jesus that I have observed and seen lived out by staff are servanthood, love and grace. The staff at Gospel for Asia are NOT afraid to go the extra mile for anyone, they are ready to serve. There seems to be a never ending supply of love. It is truly the love of Jesus shining through. In the two months that I have been here I have had to learn many new things and all the staff has been very gracious through it all.

One of the Core Values that stood out to me was “being a people sold out to win the lost at any cost”. Through most of my life I never realized the need to share the Love of Jesus with others. How selfish, to only be concerned about my own salvation. A few months before arriving at Gospel for Asia the Lord started working in my heart and giving me a desire to share His love with others. However, even though I had this desire, I didn’t know where or how to start sharing the Gospel with others. Now having gone through some evangelism training, I have an idea how it’s done. I have yet to actually go out and evangelize. Lord willing, that will be very soon.

I am looking forward to all that the Lord has for me to learn yet!

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.

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