Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lessons From The Saw Mill: March 2015 in the Books ... April in the Sights .....

Follow the link to the source site or read the text below!!! Lessons From The Saw Mill: March 2015 in the Books ... April in the Sights .....:

Ahhh ... the last day of March ended with some expected (though thought by certain weather authorities unexpected) snow up here in Prattsville, NY.  It has been a beautiful winter and, though according to the calendar it should be spring, you wouldn't just know it yet here.

The winter gave us some challenges too.  We have several head of cattle that need shelter (or strongly feel they need it) throughout the winter so the stalls are full ... and that creates a certain amount of ... fertilizer ... that the sub freezing temperatures turn into concrete ... that the men have to still remove for the sanitary needs of the stalls.  It can be a valiant but unrewarding effort.  Water lines are also a constant issue.  The students made several responses to water line issues (ruptures, freezes, etc) throughout the community.  The students also had a lot of snow to shovel with winds that seemed to just want to put it back.  But the winter is so beautiful here.

Winter also sends us all in doors, which can seem to make the walls move in.  The students face the constant challenge of perspective.  They must remind themselves that they are free here; that their restricted due to events, not policy ... and that can be a daunting task.  Last month I asked you to pray for Adam ... he did not make it.  I ask that you continue to pray for him.  A student has the best chance for success at Discover Life School of Ministry when that student understands the nature of what life will be like up here and what exactly we are trying to do.  I find this to be most efficient when their church leadership can be the preliminary filter of whether or not they can be best ministered to at Discover Life or, perhaps, somewhere else.

Discover Life will never be a fix all ... nor does it compete with any other ministry I am aware of.  It is a specific tool for the church tool bag.  I use the analogy of describing the purpose of DL as being one train with two rails.  DL is about fulfilling the need of in depth discipleship.  One rail is for believers, or contemplating believers, that need more than typical weekly service schedules.  These individuals most likely are those whose lives are completely imbalanced and need to be able to stop hustling and have their needs met for a time so they can specifically focus on their walk in Christ. The other rail is for perspective ministry students who desire to be prepared for the formal responsibilities of ministry in an environment and manner that tests more than their text based knowledge but challenges them to the core of who they are ... because here they live among the subjects of their studies.  The hope is that the first rail merges with the second.  Some first rail students return to their professional lives ... others stay to be prepared to minister as God leads them. The end result we press are people who are content to serve in lay leadership where ever they find themselves "thoroughly equipped for every good work" not demanding support from the subjects of their ministering nor the ministers they serve but able to support themselves as able citizens and prepared to do so.  For more detailed information concerning the ministry here at Discover Life please visit

I am also very excited to share that we had two salvations through our weekly mountaintop community services.  We started Discover Life Mountaintop Community services back in January and the growth and process of that ministry has been rewarding and exciting.  It is based on the Celebrate Recovery ministry of Rick Warren but adapted slightly to the needs of the students and the community and aptly named.  All of the services and the literature are made available online for your ability to keep up with us or even possibly start your own small group and disciple those around you. You can find that information at

Lessons From The Saw Mill: "CAREFUL!!!"
The importance for attention to detail was drilled into me as a young soldier.  "Failure to pay attention to detail..." would be followed by the shout in unison of hundreds of us "will get you killed!"  I also reiterated that myself when I became the leader and have throughout my leadership history post military ... because it's true.  Not just physically killed, but spiritually too.  "Pat! What are you talking about??"  Let me tell you.  We had two avoidable accidents happen up here this month.  Much of the work that the students do involves life on the farm ... which entails machinery.  We have detailed safety plans and plenty of safety gear.  We teach thoroughly our policies and enforce them often to grumbling.  You see, often in our immaturity, we don't value safety precautions, or any regulations, unless we agree with or have experienced their necessity. 

This month a certain student decided to stick his hand under an operating chain saw to clear out the shavings instead of removing the saw, turning it off, waiting for the chain to stop and placing it on the ground.  Instead, he simply left it in the log operating and swept his hand under it.  He didn't want to stop.  He was so bent on production and sure of his ability that he didn't feel the safety precautions applied to him and it resulted in what could (and probably should) have been a catastrophic injury save a highly questionable mercy from the chain.  You see, the chain caught his arm ... just above his hand ... and the chain was slowing down so it should have pulled his hand into itself (it has teeth if you have never seen them).  A slowing saw blade is the worst scenario for injury .. it tears and mangles verses the clean cut a fully powered saw can make.  This students instead received a flesh wound. Though about 1 inch of his artery was exposed, the wall remained intact!!!  Truly a miracle!!!  Also a huge lesson in the importance of heeding rules and making responsible judgment calls. 

You see this student wasn't trying to show off ... he was trying to show gratitude through output.  And that desire to "thank us" led him to ignore safety precautions.  In our talks afterwards we discussed the danger of going out of our way to please others.  Think of it.  This guy is a skilled laborer ... probably has side stepped safety precautions hundreds of times.  But it only takes one slip.  Success at improper risky behavior is a dangerous pitfall for humanity ... because we validate it then as "usual"... like he did and suffer the consequences like he did.  He was trying to show his thanks and his gratitude for the transformation he has experienced in his life by trying to give back.  Think about that!  Think about the spiritual implications of ignoring stated safety restrictions in order to please others.  Think about the ramifications of going beyond what Scripture says is acceptable in order to please others!  It, at the least, sets a person up for a life of abuse by those he or she is trying to please. At the worst, it can lead to a life of constant compromise ... a life marked with disastrous sin because that person took upon themselves the need to be the savior in another's life. 

Jesus said that we should come to Him and that He would in return give us rest ... rest for our souls!  To take His yoke upon us ... to learn from Him. (Matthew 11:28-30) A soul at rest has no need to prove its worth or value because it knows it is completely defined by who takes responsibility for the yoke ... Jesus Himself!!!  This student, as we all must do, had to grasp the concept that his worth to this world, to us, to anyone, can only ever be the fact that he is God's creation and His child.  Anything more leads to abuse and failure.  His value to DL is not in his output but in his existence!!!  That seems almost alien to many people.  "If I do more ... maybe then they'll accept me ... maybe then they will know I love them."  That is the thought process resulting in a life of abuse.  Think about it ... we are sharing a yoke with Jesus ... do we really think we are carrying it for Him??? Realistically, He is carrying it all and at times we drag our feet, at times they aren't even touching the ground, while at other times He allows us to shoulder some of the weight for our own good ... but never because He might fail without us.  It is a good work that is "rest for our souls." 

If the work we are doing is not accompanied by some sense of rest, we must ask ourselves why we are doing it ... why we are wearied.  Perhaps because we are doing the work out of a sense of needing to be recognized ... needing to be approved ... needing to feel valued.  Friends, that road leads to no good place.  If your whole identity, passion, and purpose is not wrapped up in the knowledge of your Savior and His love for you, your life will be a continual race to please those (including yourself) who are constantly changing in what they feel is pleasing ... you will never be enough.  But if your identity, passion, and purpose is solely found in your relationship with Jesus Christ ... you will be all you ever need to be to bring light and life to the world around you ... and you will always be enough.  Be careful to hold fast (2 Tim 1:13; Heb 10:23) to Jesus and grip loosely the things of this world ... including the acceptance of others.  Value others for who they are and not what they bring you.  Otherwise ... failure is imminent.  That's my take on it anyways.

Thanks for reading!!!

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