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
“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
Abide: to stay or live somewhere, to remain or continue, to wait for, and to endure without yielding.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Jude 21 ESV
School of Discipleship has been so good for my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I am growing in my love for him and learning to abide in Jesus like never before, by the help of the Holy Spirit. I am starting to learn what it is like to abide in Christ and in the love of the Father. It was during my time of solitude that the Lord started showing me a little glimpse of what is means to abide in Christ.
I was sitting outside for solitude on a lovely spring day, waiting on the Lord to direct me where He wanted me to read that it seemed he was directing my attention to a man who was pruning a tree. As I watched him prune away the dead branches the thought came that I should read John 15. This is where an absolutely amazing journey began (which I hope never ends). God started teaching me what it is like to abide in Jesus. I say started, because to abide in Christ and grow in Him takes time; it doesn’t happen overnight.
vs 1. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. vs 2. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. vs 4. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me… As my Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.”
While reading John 15, I was struck by how many times the words “abide”, “in me” and “remain” show up in the first 11 verses. I think Jesus is trying to tell me something. Jesus was and is trying to drive home a point! I need to abide in him and in his love all the time! When hard times come (which they will) we are to abide in the Lord Jesus. The times of pruning in our lives are when the vinedresser cuts away the dead branches that hinder us from bearing fruit. When they are gone, we can grow and yield lasting fruit that glorifies our Heavenly Father. There may be things in our life that distract us from abiding in Christ and loving Him relentlessly.
This is a wonderful promise from God. As we keep His commandments, we will abide in his love! The Holy Spirit is our helper and guide and He enables us to abide in Jesus. It is hard to share everything that I felt like the Father was revealing to my heart as I watched the man prune the tree and as we read John 15:1-11. I am the branch that has been grafted into Jesus the true vine. The dead branches which are being pruned away from me are the things that take the place of God in my life. I can rest assured knowing that my Father knows what He is doing in and through my life. The fruit that will come from this will bring glory to the Father, which is what truly matters.
—School of Discipleship student
At Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship, you have the opportunity to grow in your relationship with Jesus while making it possible for people in Asia to experience His love for the first time! The application deadline for the August 2017 class is coming up fast on May 31.
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I have an independent personality. I’m not saying that I’m rebellious or disobedient (though there have definitely been times those would describe me). I just like to do things myself.
If I can do it well, then let me do it alone. If I think I know how it works, leave me alone and let me work. If I don’t quite know, I’ll get the documentation and figure it out. That is what I have learned about how I work. I didn’t realize any of this before I came to School of Discipleship. I have come to understand just how independent I am since attending this program.
I have learned since being here that I can’t afford to be independent. There are aspects of life that just don’t work doing it alone. I share a house with two great guys, and they are there to help me through my struggles. The days I’m on an emotional roller-coaster, I’ve learned the best help is the help my brothers can offer to me. I used to wade through chest deep problems on my own and tell people I’m fine. I was independent.
When I need advice I’ve learned to ask. I honestly can’t remember ever asking my father for serious life advice. Now I realize that I need advice. God has placed people in my life who know more than I do, or have even gone through the exact same situations. Asking for advice is not something I used to do. I was independent.
The danger of independence is that I could suffocate alone, drown in my own problems, or panic over decisions others have made.
Father keep me dependent.
Empty me of my selfish pride.
And when I am crooked or bent,
Straighten me to be at your side.
Teach me to learn from the others
With whom You’ve surrounded me,
And keep my heart close to my brothers
That my life should be pleasing to Thee.
School of Discipleship US
Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship is certainly challenging, but not always as I would expect. An example of this is the thermostat.
It was my first morning after I arrived at School of Discipleship. I had got in relatively late the previous night and thought I’d go downstairs to get more of a feel for the house and what was where; maybe even meet a housemate who had been out the previous evening. No such luck, but I did notice that I was freezing.
Shouldn’t cause any problems; I sauntered over to the thermostat to change the heat setting.
I’m from Canada, and Canada has been using the Metric system for decades; since well before I was born. So when I looked at the thermostat and it read 70 degrees, my first thought was why was I cold and not dying of heat? Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. Then I remembered that it was Fahrenheit. I looked up online what 70 degrees Fahrenheit was in Celsius and found that it was 18 degrees Celsius! Small wonder I was cold. I bumped the thermostat up a couple of degrees and the house became more tolerable.
That was not exactly what I expected for difficulties. Trust me, that’s not been the extent of my challenges. However, it taught me that what I think, and what is, aren’t always the same.
Gospel for Asia
School of Discipleship
During our time in School of Discipleship, we have the opportunity to assist local ministries. This provides us both a way to see how others live out their love for God, and it gives us the opportunity to partner with them in a practical way, in order that together we can be a part of advancing God’s kingdom. A couple of weeks ago, we had such an opportunity. We spent the morning putting together media players for Galcom. Galcom is an organisation that builds radios and media players for reaching people with the gospel who are illiterate or don’t have access to written copies of Scripture. The radios are designed so that only certain stations can be tuned in.
Assembling the players required some of the students to solder the batteries to the players; I was involved in placing padding within the player so that the components would not shift over time. Batteries and mini sd cards also had to be installed. Finally they were all tested to if the audio recordings worked. As the players were headed to a foreign country, we got to hear the first verse of Genesis in another language over and over.
Galcom was not at liberty to tell us exactly where the radios were headed. They were, however, going to an area where access to the Scriptures is limited. Partially through our efforts a considerable number of people will be able to hear the Bible in their own language even if they can’t read it.
—School of Discipleship student