Friday, April 1, 2016

Discover Life: Wrapping Up March of 2016: Ouch! Don't Do That

Lessons From The Saw Mill: Discover Life: Wrapping Up March of 2016: Ouch! Don't Do That!:

It’s been a fast and busy month here at Discover Life! Let's catch you up to what we have witnessed concerning the grace of God in the lives of the men up here! Click on the original link above or just keep reading!

Patrick and his family returned from their trip to Louisiana safe and sound and hit the ground running. John Vodarsik returned to Discover Life to join the ministry leadership staff serving the men as their head of household. Soon after, Ed (from New Jersey) joined the discipleship ministry after learning of it through a candid run in with a former student. A few days after that, Jay came as part of our ministry relationship with Teen Challenge. A week later, Joel joined us.

Robert is doing well in his progression as a disciple of Christ. He is working things out with his family and beginning the process of building his future as a vessel for Christ. Robert began working part-time last month in order to provide for his children. Though we would typically restrain a student from working until they have been here in residency for one year, we also cannot allow children to go without while their father is being provided for. The leadership of Discover Life feels that if we accept a man with a family, then we must adjust our policies where necessary to ensure the families are being taken care of while their father is away. So we felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to make provision for Rob to get work. We are also praying about his (hopefully soon) return to his profession. We are witnessing the miraculous transforming power of the grace of God through Jesus Christ in the heart and family of Rob. God’s love is amazing!

Please continue to pray for the men. Stephen is soon to be married (June!) and we are celebrating that union. His studies are progressing as he prepares for a life of ministry service. Rob needs guidance and assurance that God will provide. He is in the middle of learning to trust Him resolutely. Ed and Jay both need God’s affirming peace and rest in their souls. Pray they are able to maintain this walk towards their own freedom in Christ. Pray for Joel that he finds true and total healing and restoration through the grace of God in Jesus Christ and pray for his wife that she is comforted by the Holy Spirit during this time.

I want to give a testimony … it may seem insignificant but it’s really not. This month, the men asked us for a griddle for cooking. Things are tight so instead of purchasing one we asked through Facebook for someone to consider donating a used griddle they may have laying around. Within a couple of days, we had a brand new griddle as a surprise. That meant the world to the men … that someone would do that … but it more importantly demonstrated that God is truly interested in the little things. He tells us to ask … and He moves on the hearts of His people. Thank you, whoever you are! Trust Him!

One of the focuses Patrick feels God is drawing him towards it preparing the men who are discipled at Discover Life to really be thoroughly prepared to commit and contribute to their community and to their church congregation. Life in any residency ministry can give a false sense of reality concerning everyday life. Paul spoke of meat and milk, this is neither … this is milk preparation. The high number of program recycles are often linked to the disillusionment a graduate experiences when he is no longer the center of everyone’s focus. There is no pastor who can, or should for that matter, offer the concentrated level of personal ministry we offer. There is no boss who can provide the level of purpose that we do. Any residency program is going to schedule the day and provide tons of one on one. Here at DL, we move carefully and as responsibly quick as possible to get the men to where they are setting their own schedules that work within what is minimally expected of them … just as they would in any other field of work. We work to wean them off of concentrated need and replace them with healthy relationships. We press them to seek responsibility for themselves without someone constantly doing it for them. The only textbook that practically teaching how to thrive free … is freedom. Pray for us as we strive to follow after the leading of the Holy Spirit to disciple these men into a strong, practical, and disciplined walk resulting from a solid relationship with Jesus Christ.

This coming month (April) we are excited to host Drew Crowell. Drew is a Bible teacher from Colorado who has a burden for seeing men find freedom in Jesus Christ. He is very involved in the founding and supporting through Bible instruction to several discipleship ministries. We are always thrilled with his presence here. His gift in teaching allows the student to really layer into the Word, first at surface level, then quickly move deep into personal applications. Pray for the people to be prepared to receive. Pray for Drew as he follows God’s leading. We can’t wait!

Lessons From The Saw Mill: Ouch! Don’t Do That!
We do a fair bit of wood working up here. This month I was asked to build this big planter from cedar so I set to the task. I don’t know if you’ve ever worked with cedar but it is not the easiest wood to work with. The tree itself is knotty and not very thick, so a lot of wood is wasted in just getting some workable boards. The wood grain itself is … well … difficult. The best I can describe it is that is a very “hairy” grained wood. But people love the smell … and the look … and it handles the weather very effectively.

But to get that wood to a place where it can actually be usable, a lot of work must be done. First, it has to be cut. So on the mill it goes. We have to remove most of the tree just to get to board size cuts (round vs square). Once we have some boards, we have to plain them. A plainer, in case you don’t know, is a saw of sorts that acts like sand paper. A board is sent through it, there are a series of small cutting blades that cause the surface of the board to be smoothed to skin-soft. But it takes a hard toll on the board itself.

To get a board that is ½ inch think, we have to start with a board that is at least ¾ inch thick. The plainer takes several passes on each side, while adjusting each time to get that board smooth and beautiful. Often during the process, a knot (the tree is full of them) will be hidden within the cut and will show itself. The plainer has a hard time with those knots sometimes because, unique to cedar, the knots come out of the board and cause a hole to form, along with a bunch of racket. Often the board will break. Other times the board will appear knotty, but after a few passes, the knots are gone and all that remains are some awesome grain patters and colors. Rarely will the plaining of a board result in anything other than a finished, smooth, and beautiful piece of wood prepped and ready to find its place in the project. If a board is rendered useless through the plaining process, it’s never the plainer’s fault, it is the inconsistencies in the tree itself. The result, either way, cannot be predicted, it can only be discovered. Yet it is the very refining process that is wounding that board that brings out what no one else can see otherwise.

What’s the point? This is us!!! God speaks to us through Jeremiah saying,

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 
Jeremiah 29:11 

That word for hope is “expected end.” He promises to get us to that place He desires us to be … where we will be of the character that He always intended us to be!


… He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ… 
Philippians 1:6 

But we expect the work to be easy … or at least that’s what we want. But He promises fire … FIRE people! I’ve seen nothing in my life that can stand before fire and not be destroyed … except precious gold and silver … they love the fire. But it is that fire that changes them and removes from them their “dross” or better said impurities.

I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; And each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.' " 
Zechariah 13:9 

So the process is tough and it does remove stuff from us that we thought was part of who we were … and it reveals things in us that we didn’t know were there. It also removes fears from us for things we thought were so big and were mere surface lies … and what lies beneath is made beautiful and useful for His purposes … which is after all, or should be, the hope we seek.

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 
Jeremiah 29:12 - 13 

I’d say that was a pretty good deal. Don’t run from the refiner … you and I are more precious than fine gold! Let Him do His work. What He takes, we don’t want. What He reveals, He can sort out. What He breaks, He can mend. Because the result will be amazing! What is that result?

That the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:17

That’s my take anyways! Thanks for reading!

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