Jeremiah Seventeen Nine

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)

This verse used to make my skin crawl. If you would have asked me if I agreed with this scripture before coming to GFA School of Discipleship, I would have perhaps said something along the lines of “Well, it is the Word of God, but I don’t believe our hearts are bad. We should live free and pursue whatever our hearts’ desires are. Do whatever makes you happy!” Note–just because I admitted in this response that Jeremiah 17:9 is Scripture, does not result in my comments afterward being correct. The response I provided was absolutely deceitful! It literally stands in direct defiance of the verse, which is the Word of God! (more…)

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How Near God Is

Leaving my home in Idaho to come to GFA School of Discipleship and everything that that step of faith entailed–being away from family, work, my church body, friends, the list goes on–has really showed me how near God is!

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!
Lamentations  3:22-23

 

  I have felt His presence so clearly, and it has been such a delight, knowing He is with me, no matter where I go, and who else is with me. He is omni-present, and is wherever I go. Psalm   139:7-10 tells us, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Or Where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”  This passage been such an encouragement to me while being here, away from what is familiar to me.

  I have been experiencing so many “God-Moments” and seeing His power displayed here so vividly!  He is so faithful. I have learned to worship Him more, even in the smallest things. I have learned what it means to earnestly pray, which we do a lot of here. God is so powerful! I am in awe now. God is definitely working through GFA, and I feel so honored to be a part of and witness it.

 

 

 

“That day was kind of like a point of no return in my life. Even though I had no idea what lay ahead for me, I knew God had placed a longing in my heart to know Him more, and I could not be satisfied with anything less than obedience to His call.” — Read about a Canadian student who invested a year of her life, living and serving with a community focused on Christ-centered discipleship.

 

 

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Perspective and the Real Focus

Perspective.

So lately I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed and stressed. I haven’t had much alone time (I’m very much of an introvert) and the book we’re going over in class is pretty heavy.

This morning in chapel however, the Lord gave me a vision (I promise I’m not weird). Before taking Holy Communion, Bishop Danny asked us to close our eyes and quiet our hearts to prepare ourselves. So knowing that is definitely something I need to do and take advantage of in the midst of this busy schedule, I started imagining myself in an empty white room… Sort of. You know in movies when characters are dreaming and they’re in that white abyss? Exactly like that. There was no up and down, or left and right. There was only white. Bright white everywhere. Did I make that clear enough? So as I’m standing there in the nothingness, Jesus appears in His white robe and wounds in His hand and feet. Jesus Christ, my Lord and King was just standing there in front of me in all of His glory and beauty.

Well, you know how people always ask the question of “What would you do when you see Jesus?” A lot of the times you get an answer like, “The first thing I’d do is ask Him…”

My first instinct was to fall down. I was not worthy. I fell to my knees with my head bowed but it wasn’t low enough. I couldn’t get low enough. I got on my face and started kissing His feet and His wounds that He endured through for ME. All I wanted to do was show Him how much I loved Him. He lifted me up and I fell into His chest, hugging Him and crying… but I felt no shame or embarrassment. There was only love there. Just being in His presence, I had no doubts or fears. I knew this Man loved every part of me with everything in Him. And all I could do was cry because for the first time ever, I knew He would keep me safe and never let me go or give up on me. I could literally feel Jesus’ love radiating from His warm embrace. It felt so tangible, like I could touch it and take it with me everywhere I went. And He just sat there with me, holding and comforting me. No words, nothing needed to be said. But I wasn’t crying because of everything on my mind. No, I was crying because of who Jesus is. In fact, none of those negative feelings or sadness came to mind once. The focus was 100% on Him and who He is.

And so in the midst of feeling discouraged and depressed because I’m not where I want to be spiritually, my Lord showed me the real focus. He also showed me that my first instinct was to fall down before the King and kiss His wounds. So despite my feelings, I’m not failing at all. It’s just a tough season, but on this day, I got a little more perspective, and that is what’s getting me through it.

Read about what another School of Discipleship student learned in the midst of discouragement.

 

 

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You’re an Overcomer – Jesus is the Victory

You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ’til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds you
That you’re an overcomer

  Five years ago, a friend shared this song (Overcomer by Mandisa) with me, and God is still using it in my life this year. It had been my theme song for January. He has given me an abundance of strength and lavished His love on me to overcome so many struggles this last month. What a privilege to know I have victory in Him!

  We read through and discussed K.P. Yohannan’s book, Touching Godliness, talking all about submission. Ultimately to God of course. But then to the authority He has delegated above us. “Bitterness leads to rebellion. And that rebellion to man leads to rebellion to God.” God taught me so much through that book! At times, I felt like it was too much. But He always showed Himself faithful. He caused me to humble myself under Him, and those in authority over me here. I have overcome so much through Him! And He has given me strength, hope, and faith to keep fighting, reminding me that He is holding me in His arms this whole time. He has saved me and bought me with his precious blood, and I have victory in Him! He gets all the glory for all I overcame last month.

  Yes, I still have a long way to go, as it is a lifelong changing process, but I am praising Jesus for how far He has brought me. He is so victorious! He loves me, and has bought me with His blood. What keeps me going and gives me strength, by God’s grace, is pressing forward. Not to look back in regrets, but keep moving forward, remembering all God has brought me through. So don’t give up! Keep fighting. Make little moments matter. Look to the little things.

Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior forever
He sought me and He bought me
with His redeeming blood

He loved me ‘ere I knew Him
and all my love is due Him

He plunged me to victory
beneath the cleansing flood
(Victory in Jesus
by E.M. Bartlett)

Want to hear more from GFA School of Discipleship students? Watch Miriam’s School of Discipleship Story.

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I Shall Not Want

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor is for a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:5

“From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
And from a need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, no, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
Oh, and from the fear of death or trial
And from the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Yes, deliver me O God

And I shall not want, no, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want”

I Shall Not Want by Audrey Assad

 

Discipleship is hard. There’s just some days that are really hard and seem impossible to get through. Those days it feels like everyone and everything drives me crazy.

There’s always a part of me since coming to School of Discipleship that wants to call it quits and go back home on those hard days. Things are easier at home. I can get more rest, I have more friends, I feel more comfortable and even feel I could perhaps impact lives in a deeper more personal way back home. But, that’s not the Holy Spirit talking, that’s me talking. The Lord has called me here for this season whether it feels like it or not.

The song at the beginning has been my prayer lately. There’s been a lot of hard times and hard days. I can relate to everything in this song. I want to be understood. I want to be accepted. I don’t want to be lonely. I’ve felt them all. Yet, I do believe that when I taste the Lord’s goodness I shall not want.

Psalm 119:71 says, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” I have related with this verse a lot lately. School of Discipleship is hard, but (for the most part) nothing worth pursuing is easy. So if all these trials and hard times mean knowing Jesus more intimately, then it is worth all the tough times.

“When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want.”

 

Have you ever felt the need to get away and spend time in solitude with the Lord? Read about what our students experience in School of Discipleship’s regular times of Sunday Solitude.

 

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Dying To Yourself

When the ad for School of Discipleship says, “die to yourself for a year,” they sincerely mean that. Upon arriving here, the concept was presented to my intellect and I perceived that I understood the practice…goodness, was I wrong! Knowing a concept or ideology and establishing the principle in your day to day life, are two drastically distant stand points.

I considered myself an individual accustomed to sacrifice before I checked in at Gospel for Asia. I’ve always loved people and desired to help in any way I could, and if one is to genuinely help another, it requires sacrifice, most typically. However, I’ve been learning that sacrifice is not only reserved for our fellow man, but most ultimately to God.

Romans 12:1 says (NIV): “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” This ministry wholeheartedly embraces that verse! GFA is an organization dedicated to sacrificing and giving all to Christ. Upon arriving here, I was on fire for the Lord, and thought I was ready to embrace this lifestyle as well. As my first month proceeded, I slowly started losing my passion more and more. I became burned out and grew bitter toward sacrifice; not so much sacrifice unto others, but primarily sacrifice unto God.

The Holy Spirit began convicting me to relinquish loved things that I held dear. Things that are not good for my spirit, and that are harmful in my growth with Christ. Upon being convicted of this, I became angry with the Lord and refused to surrender them over to Him. My course of action was an undoubtedly horrid mistake; when I refused sacrifice, I became bitter toward my Creator.

man kneeling, praying, surrender, sacrifice

The reader must note that my goal in confessing all of this, is not to drive you away from School of Discipleship or Gospel for Asia, but rather to inform you that you will face tremendous amounts of personal sacrifice. You, as an individual must choose to relinquish dear things that the Holy Spirit convicts you to let go of. From personal experience, if you do not, the School of Discipleship program will increasingly become more difficult and you will feel trapped. Prepare yourselves brothers and sisters if you are considering coming here. If our Father has called you here, then follow His commands. This is a wonderful and blessed place to be and I highly recommend it! The program is excellent: marvelously prepared, and supremely taught, but it will not benefit you if you are not willing to die to yourself.

I’m currently struggling with a multitude of convictions; relinquishing them is immensely difficult, in fact I would dare say it is near impossible without the strength of our Loving God. As our Messiah told us “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NIV) (bold letters not in actual text).  If you feel that God is calling you to this wonderful ministry, then by all means come! However, brothers and sisters, prepare yourselves to sacrifice to the Lord. Dying to self hurts…that is why it’s called dying, but know that our Loving Father is using this necessary and painful process to benefit and bless your life here and in eternity!

– GFA School of Discipleship Student

 

Read about another GFA School of Discipleship student who was challenged to re-learn what it means to lay her life down.

 

 

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