April showers bring what? Truthfully, the month has been a roller coaster here at DISCOVER LIFE. Peaks and valleys are a part of life but God promises us the peace that allows us to get caught away with neither and, through it all, hold onto the steadfastness of who He is through think and thin ... and this month brought a lot of each. Let's get to it.
This month began with the loss (or more accurately the gain) of Mr Charlie R Gockel. He is now enjoying his eternal reward, but it was very emotional here. His obedience and willingness to love touched so many lives, as was evident at his funeral. The man lived, loved, and laughed furiously. It has been a great adjustment here in his departure.
A week later, we were blessed with the teaching ministry of Drew Crowell as he blessed us with two back to back teaching retreats. The first week was on the Three Kings and the weekend covered the miracles of Jesus. You can listen to them and download the study guides HERE. Just click on the link and scroll down. There are also many other teachings there that you can enjoy. During the retreat we were able to enjoy fellowship with former students Donovan and Alan. Donovan has remained in constant fellowship with DL since his departure and now is part of our leadership staff. Alan tays in constant communication with us and travels up to visit often.
Several of our students were able to attend a ministry teaching series offered by Teen Challenge in Ravena, NY. We strive to develop relationships with local ministries in order to lead by example through fellowship and collaboration. We are pleased to see the growing number of ministries we are developing trusting relationships with as we mature in ministry.
Work continues here. To accommodate the growing needs of housing the men, we moved Stephen out of the Hope House into the Cabin. That was a fury of renovation work mostly done by Mr. Charlie. Work on Our Father's House (formerly known as the Farm House) has continued. There is a great need there for assistance both financially and in labor. The estimated cost for renovations is $80,000. This will make room for 12 beds and greatly increase our ability to disciple the men who come here. They are currently crammed into a house that should only reasonably house 2 men with one leader. This will also make more staff leadership housing available as well. Please pray with us and consider how you can help us help others.
We were able to fence in some more pasture and continue to increase our grazing lands. Last year was a bad year for hay. We went into winter not having enough. Much of that was caused by not having sufficient grazing land for the cows mixed with a really rough hay season. We ran out of our hay in February and started having to purchase round bails ... an expense we don't have provision for. Yet God does provide. This year we hope to settle that issue by making more use of grazable lands that will allow our hay pastures to produce more volume.
We have also experienced continuing transition within some of the men. Robert and Ed moved on. Please pray for them as they move back into their society ... that they will choose to continue the discipleship journey they have begun here. We are watching Jay be transformed by the grace of God. He has developed a love and desire for the Word. His nature is changing and it is a pleasure to watch. John has continued to be a blessing as Residential Supervisor. His presence in the home has brought a welcomed stability for the men. Joel is continuing to strengthen. His presence in the home brings a powerful reality of the love and grace of God to the men through his own humility and willingness to be drawn on. Please continue to pray.
I do ask again that you consider investing into the work we are doing here. We have a needs list HERE. Maybe your live locally and can provide some much needed labor. Maybe you would like to invest in some of the projects here. Maybe you would like to sponsor (partially or fully) one of the men here. Perhaps you have machinery, tools, materials, and/or resources that you would like to offer. Maybe you minister locally and would like to invest time into the men regularly. Whatever your desire, we will receive it gladly. Please consider to help us as we help others.
Lessons From The Saw Mill: Root Well!
This month I began the process of pulling up compacted stone that serves as a part of a driveway in order to prepare the ground for the garden. It was only about a 16 foot length of driveway but it resulted in a mountain of stone that I had to do something with. The thought then occurred to me that I could use the stone to solve the water runoff problem (as well as once and for all handle the weed problem) in the breeze way between the church building and the parsonage.
The previous state of the breezeway consisted of a weedy alley with a flagstone path. It is a nightmare to keep trimmed and water ponds there pretty terrible working its way into the garage because of the inability to be routed elsewhere. I decided not to poor the stone over the path and, as a memorial, to replace the original stone in the path after completion. Those stones are very old. This lesson results from an amazing discovery I had while preparing the ground for the rock as I removed the stone.
The flagstones were surrounded with weeds. My idea was to strip the ground to the dirt, then lay down weed blocker paper, cover with the rock and aggregate, compact, and replace the stones using rock dust to level and secure them. The grass was a nightmare to remove, as expected ... until we got to the grass around and between the flagstone path. It looked the same and felt the same, but when I removed the stone, I could grab feet long thick strips and remove them simply with just my hand using no pulling strength. The path was underlayed with a rock dust of sorts in order to keep the stones level that was extremely dense and refused to allow the roots of the grass to penetrate it. The grass looked healthy and felt healthy ... even responded to the lawn mower and weedeater the same ... but there was no depth, and there was no real root to it. It gave easily once the flagstones were removed. Its stability was completely based on the stones layed there and had nothing to do with its own maturity!
What's The Point???
This is potentially the case for all of us! The truth is, we are all only as stable as the stones we identify with. For some, their stability is in the acquisition of whatever they define wealth to be, whether it be money, possessions, education, family, social position, political position, etc. But all of those are stones set only for a season. They are not lasting and can only provide a minimal level of support. Once they are shaken, all that is dependent on them comes crashing down with them.
We would do well to remember the words of the Psalmist:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
Peter reminded us:
Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHIEF CORNERSTONE, ELECT, PRECIOUS, AND HE WHO BELIEVES ON HIM WILL BY NO MEANS BE PUT TO SHAME."
1 Peter 2:6
All of humanity consists of people looking for some foundation to build their lives from. We tend to simply reproduce what others seem to do that led them to the success that we want. When it fails, we conveniently blame them for our current condition. There is no shortage of new self-help books. If the originals worked, there would be no need for furthering that industry. What do you do when the experts disagree? Fortunately for humanity, there is only one expert: the Creator God. Humans are not experts on humanity ... we are always still in the process of discovering it! Jesus made it clear that we could and should completely trust Him.
42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE. THIS WAS THE LORD'S DOING, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES' ? 43 "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder."
It's simple logic. All of us will die. Our works will cease. Anyone who builds themselves on any stone laid by another human is making a big mistake. Christians that encourages others to build on their own works rather than bringing them to a place to be dependent only on God set the masses up for failure. We always reproduce what we've been taught until we learn that it is wrong ... and that usually takes time. It may look good for a season and that season may endure. But the minute that stone is removed, and it will be removed, the work will be shown for what it is ... rooted poorly and taken up quickly. There is only one Stone that is immovable ... and you can build your house on that stone.
So for me, the choice is simple and I made it:
24 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Root well! Otherwise ... well ... it's just not going to last.
That's my take anyways! Thanks for reading!!!