God’s Plans, Not Mine

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“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands… Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD God disciplines you.”

—Deuteronomy 8:2,5

 

It has been the cry of my heart for years that God would call me to be a missionary and use me to do something significant for Him. Last year, God closed the door on what I had been counting on doing and longing for. I was upset. I couldn’t accept the reality of it and believed that it would still happen. Then God showed me why I was so upset: I had my own plans that I had given my life to, and when God changed them, not only was I shaken in the moment, but my whole future seemed to shatter.

It didn’t happen just once. God opened a door I counted on being closed. I wrestled within my heart and fought the will of God, until finally I accepted it and followed Him. I can’t explain the peace that filled my whole being each time I surrendered my plans and submitted to God. He waited so patiently for me, just like a loving Father, not letting me have my own way.

Now as I look back, I realize that for the longest time I had fooled myself into thinking that I was submitting to God’s plan. Even if I was submitting in my outward actions, my heart was set on the things I wanted to do. Without knowing it, I put my plans above God. They were good things I was longing for, but when they became more important to me than God, my walk with the Lord was hindered. As I read this verse from Deuteronomy, I see what God was been doing. I thought He was keeping me from something good, but instead all this time, He has been patiently teaching me to follow Him and preparing me for what lies ahead. He’s been testing my heart just as He did to the Israelites, to see if I’m really willing to obey His commands. He’s disciplined me in a gentle and Fatherly way.

My longings aren’t gone. I still hope and pray for God to open the door He closed, yet I know His timing is best – better than any of the plans I have. I hope that when God changes my plans I will be quick to surrender to His ways. I may have learned this lesson once or twice, but I have to continually surrender my plans to God. Every day is a choice.

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

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From a Cold to a Caring Heart

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I didn’t come to School of Discipleship for the missions aspect. I grew up in a church that was often talking about missions, but I never had a heart for it. Missions was not something I ever wanted to do or worry about. I came to School of Discipleship for my walk with God, because I wanted to deepen my walk. My walk definitely deepened.

I have and am discovering that the closer my walk with God is, the more I seem to have a genuine heart for people who don’t know Christ. I find myself hurting for the fact that there are children across the world that have never known what love is. I was reading No Longer a Slumdog and my heart was breaking over the children mentioned in the book.

It has taken more than a book to break my heart. It took my coming here, being discipled, and genuinely seeking God more than ever and allowing the Lord to work in me. For my heart was cold when I came. I saw and heard of the conditions that millions of people go through every day but my heart did not break. There was no sorrow or great desire to see them restored. However, I knew that the Lord’s heart breaks for those who suffer and I wanted to have the Lord’s heart. So that was part of my prayer this year, “Lord break my heart for what breaks yours. Help me value these people I don’t know. I want to see them as people and not just sad photos.” They are real people. I know they are. However, the truth is I don’t see them that way.

I can say the Lord has changed my heart in countless ways; one of those ways is having a heart for people. I’m still growing but I can say that I am finally starting to see the national missionaries as who they are; my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I can see the suffering children as precious, valuable and desperately needing to be loved. The Lord has used this whole time here to shape me and give me a new heart that I don’t recognize. It’s the most amazing thing and I thank God for it.

 

School of Discipleship

Bridge of Hope

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Before the Day Began

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Time has gone by very fast this year.

It seems the month just begins and then it is the end. Now, there are just over a few weeks till the graduation of my first year at School of Discipleship.

Lately I’ve been pondering how fast time is going and struggling with what I can do to take advantage of it. I want to make the most of every last day, but how can I? How can I truly grasp everything out of today?

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I believe it starts at the beginning of the day.

A while ago I asked one of the staff at Gospel for Asia what keeps them focused on God throughout the day, and they said that it was spending time with God in the morning and surrendering the day into His hands. When they spent time with God in the morning they were more focused during the day. I find it challenging to focus on Jesus throughout the day a lot of the time; but giving myself to prayer and the study of God’s word early in the morning makes a difference. It’s kind of like putting on one’s armour for the day.

I once heard Joni Eareckson Tada (a lady who became a quadriplegic at a young age from a diving accident) say on the radio that she would pray a certain prayer every morning. It went something like this: “Lord, please look at the world through my eyes today and speak your words through my mouth and listen through my ears….” and so on until she had dedicated herself to God for that day.

This has stuck with me ever since I first heard it and I believe it is part of the reason why Joni is such a friendly, joyful, encouraging and loving person. And why she has impacted so many lives.  Because of Joni’s inspiration I want to write my own prayer of dedication and I thought I would share it with you.

“Dear Father,

This morning I give my eyes to you

For only your grace to shine through.

I give you my words today,

That my mouth may speak of your way.

Please take my ears for you to use,

May I hear only what you choose.

Whatever, Lord, my hands will do,

I dedicate it all to you.

Father, please lead the paths of my feet,

That I walk where joy and suffering gladly meet.

Each thought, each action, movement and plan,

I gave to you before the day began.

Amen.”

—School of Discipleship student

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A Man After God’s Own Heart

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Today, as I was praying, God reminded me of a phrase that was once quite special to me. The phrase is “a man after God’s own heart.” In my early teens, I spent a lot of time reading the books of Samuel and Kings. At the time I was looking for insights about faith and how people were demonstrating faith. I didn’t really understand faith so I ended up reading these books over and over and I became very familiar with the stories.  It was at this time that this phrase began meaning a lot to me.

In my early twenties God brought me to a place where I spent a lot of time in the gospels and the teachings of Jesus.  This concept of being a man after God’s own heart was kind of placed on the back burner for a time. Now God is bringing the two concepts together for me.

In class we have been learning about having a radical Christian lifestyle.  A lifestyle in which we renounce and hate everything, that would keep us from pursuing our Father with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  It is a lifestyle where we renounce everything as we pursue Christ.

What is it that enables us to do these things?  How do we get from knowing that these are the right things to do to the place where we are able to do it?  This is where I see being a man after God’s own heart fitting in.  It is when we have that heart that we are able to pursue Christ radically without worrying about what others will think.

What does it mean to have a heart after God?  I believe it means to be absolutely controlled by the Spirit of God.  When we are totally yielded to His Spirit, we can live the radical life.  The life and love of God will flow out of us.  It will no longer be a standard that we are attempting to attain to but it will be a lifestyle that naturally flows out from the Spirit within us.  This is having a heart after God.  This is being a radical disciple.  The life controlled by the Spirit is the life of True Discipleship.

—School of Discipleship student

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Sweet Hour of Prayer…

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Of the many things I have learned at School of Discipleship so far, I think the most precious is the sweetness of prayer! It has been well said that GFA was founded by prayer, continues through prayer, and will die without prayer. How true I have seen and experienced this to be  over the past 7 months of being here. It is an unexplainable privilege that I have often overlooked, and am learning to be more thankful for….. being united together as His people in Spirit with a heart cry for God and His kingdom to be established in our sinful world. God is ever-faithful in answering the pleas of His little children and because of it many precious souls are coming to life in Jesus Christ! Glory be to God who alone is worthy!

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” Matthew 6:9-10

—School of Discipleship Student

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Sap and Surrender

 

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As my class and I read through How to Pray by R.A. Torrey I ask myself, how do I know if I am abiding in Christ and staying connected to the vine? If I am in Christ and the connected to the sap (the Holy Spirit), I will bear fruit accordingly.

Therefore, to abide in Christ means that I need to be surrendered to God. By surrendered I mean as the Lord shows me areas in my life that I need to give up, that I do. It will be a continuous process of surrendering to the Lord for the rest of my life.

Yes, this is going to take a lot of time. I wish I hadn’t prayed for patience all those years ago. The Lord is finally answering my prayers. If that is the way that it needs to be, then the Lord will give me grace and strength to persevere.

Now the real question is, how will I practically apply or act upon what the Lord showed me?

With the Lord’s help, I will surrender those things in my life that the Lord shows me and to seek to abide in Christ. I may have to surrender on a continual basis, maybe even moment by moment.  Lord, I am going to need your help even more than before. I know You are faithful though, so I’ll make it. No problem.

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