I do appreciate the opportunity to share month after month what God is doing here at Discover Life. God has been so good. We, as a church, pray consistently for God's wisdom to reach the lost, strengthen the weak, support the hurting and wounded in their healing and recovery, and equip and encourage those who are ready; thoroughly equipping them for every good work (or at least we should). Many fellowships just don't have the resources to meet all of the needs of their congregations specifically in the area of intimate, intensive and intentional discipleship at the personal level. Here at Discover Life, we get to be a part of God's meeting of that need. I am convinced that we can serve the collective church as a tool for that purpose.
We have had no shortage of men come through the ministry up here over the last year and a half. We have been privileged to see life changing experiences in almost all of the men who have come to Discover Life. As each new man comes our way, our ministry adjusts, grows, and sharpens. I tend to cringe when I hear the word "program" because that is not at all what is developing here. If we had a single program, no one would qualify and no one would benefit. Instead we have a ministry full of different "programs" that are dynamic in nature, adjusting to the individual needs of each person. They are dynamic in nature because the people themselves change while they are here. While we have a structured day, there is a lot of movement within that structure to handle what each day brings here up on The Hill. That is not a shun towards program-based ministries in any way. They are vital and necessary. It is only that this is where we meet a specific need that is otherwise not met ... and so help fulfill the calling to be many parts of one body (Romans 12:3-8).
As of now we are serving the community, region, and nation in areas of discipleship by offering the following services in ministry at no charge
- Discover Life School of Ministry(Residency and Non-residency) preparation for individuals who are desiring to be specifically prepared for a life of ministry.
- Discover Life School of Discipleship (Residency) - an intense discipleship ministry for individuals who need to get away from their homes in order to be introduced, strengthened, and sent forward in Christ.
- Discover Life Discipleship Ministry (Non-Residency) - a diverse set of class options, weekly services, and retreats for those who are able to live at home and function in their churches that affords leadership, fellowship, and discipleship opportunities that may be unavailable otherwise due to logistical and area-based restrictions.
I am very pleased to report to you the going-ons up here. This month we had a wonderful retreat for the men led by Drew Crowell, a Bible teacher from Colorado who gives of himself to come here and spend time teaching our men and our staff. This month we did an in-depth study on the 1st chapter of James and on the Miracles of Jesus in Mark. I will have them posted soon HERE! We were able to collaborate with the Capital City Mission in Albany, NY for the teaching on James. They sent a group of men from one of their programs to fellowship and learn with us. It was very enjoyable. We were able to serve both a men's retreat and a family retreat as well in service and hospitality. This month we saw the departure of Ken from the residency here to living back at home. Pray that as Ken stays in fellowship, the Lord continues the miraculous work he has began. We are continuing to see Joe grow in the Lord. I also ask that you continue to pray for Nick as we seek the Lord for direction for him. (Nick returned to the residency ministry of Discover Life.) Donovan is continuing in fellowship and growing tremendously in the Lord. Stephen is now balancing a work schedule to prepare for his future life financially while continuing in his commitment here to be prepared for ministry. It is a honor to watch him develop and grow. Please continue to pray for Alan as he continues to "work out" this walk.
I am elated by the fact that we have been able to forge trusting and meaningful relationships with local churches. It takes a lifetime to earn trust. I value and protect the trust offered to Discover Life that we haven't earned, but that we've been given; and we are seeing life emerge here in all aspects of what we are doing. Please continue to pray for the ministry of Discover Life. Please consider how you or your church or ministry may be able to come along side of us in prayer and support. If you would, take a minute to look at our NEEDS LIST.
LESSONS FROM THE SAW MILL: You're Holding That Wrong!
Hay ... not hey ... not a greeting ... just a substance. We are up to our ears in it. The cows we raise up here (for meat ... grass fed meat ... GRASS FED MEAT ... in case you didn't catch that) need a lot of it. This fall we were able to build a better hay feeder that allows 5 bails (square) to be packed in twice a day to feed the cows (it gets cold). But the men have to carry the bails from the barn through the muck to the feeder. It can be a daunting task. The muck is slippery and the lane is narrow in the barn. The men want to grab the hay nearest to the feeder but are instructed to carry it from the back to the front. Our reasoning is to clear out an area to be able to bring the tractor in (the sliding barn door is on the far side of the feeder area.
The bails are stacked about 16 feet in the air so we have a little climbing to do to get bails down. If you have ever carried a square bail, then you know that there are two strands, tightly bound, running long ways with the bail. If you grab them together and carry from the center, it's and easy bail. But often, the new men, just wanting to hurry up and "get done" grab one strand, which causes the bail to come undone. A tight square bail runs about 2x2 on the end running about 4ft in length. When that bail comes undone, it turns into chaos. You'd be surprised how much hay is packed into that bail ... which is the point of bailing to begin with.
So the men, especially the new men, in their impatience ... in their attempts to keep from getting dirty ... in their attempts to just do what they think is best (so many come up here and initially see the farm as an amusement park) make an absolute mess and get pretty frustrated. It is quite humorous. Keep in mind we do everything up here ... every chore is strategic to produce (or at least expose) character with the specific intent to develop Christlike character. So, that being said, the guys get worked up ... and it is pretty humorous. They were taught what to do, how to do it, when to do it, where to do it, and even the consequences of failing to do it right ... yet still go and do their own thing and ... well ... IT happens. Guess who get's blamed (or at least the brunt of their frustration)? The cows. It's quite interesting. The very aim of their service gets the blame for their own failures to do as they were taught ... and they carry on as if there was some strategic mutiny drawn up by the cows themselves. Now they know it's their own fault ... they know that they were given the right instructions. They just didn't believe they were that necessary. One of our sayings up here is "Be careful what you think." Another is "You never have time to do it right but you always have time to fix it." I thing both relate well here. Because the men are led astray by what they perceive is correct totally disregarding the instructions clearly provided ... and it results in a confusing mess scattered everywhere. Then suddenly, they find the ability to gather all of that up and get it somehow to the feeder getting themselves much more dirty than before ... and become frustrated with the receiver of their service.
What's the point?
This is us! Every miracle in the Bible that Jesus performs is a lesson (or a bundle of them) to us for us to be applied in our lives right now. There is so much clear instruction in the Bible about how we are to operate in every area possible within our lives including but not limited to: home, family, career, ministry, fellowship, society, finances, relationships, parenting, community, education.
We can often be so determined and clear in our instruction to others but when it is time to hold ourselves to the instructions of others, we falter, often because we know better (or at least we think we do). Interestingly enough, and not by coincidence, we have that same struggle with God and following His instructions found throughout His Word given to us through Scripture. We always bring our relationship with God into our relationships with people, and our relationships with people into our relationship with God ... because the constant is us. We share the same character (strengths and weaknesses) in all of our relationships.
1 Timothy 4:6-16
6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 7 But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness... 11 These things command and teach. 12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
It is quite clear ... stick to the instructions ... yet we fail; and just like the men here, we often focus the majority of our frustration on the very object our our service.
So how do we fix it? The same way the men do. In the presence of those cows, they learn quickly how to do it right because the cows are the constant .. the men are the variables. The cows aren't moving ... they're not going to change the way they do things. If the men want an easier time when working with them, then they will adjust to the teaching. It's in the continual presence of the cows they experience the greatest change. All of the class preparation in the world doesn't hold a stick to one hour alone with the cows.
The same is with God. If we want to experience true change in our lives in our ability to hold on to an stick to His Word, we've got to get in His presence. All of the classes on "How to Be A Strong and Devout Christian" don't compare to 30 minutes in His presence, better yet, a lifetime devoted to seeking Him. It is impossible for any human, or created thing, to enter into the presence of God and leave unchanged.
Do you, like me, and everyone else, fail at following the detail of God's Word replacing His instruction with your own "better version"? The answer is not more training, classes, etc. The answer is getting into the presence of God as He has instructed through His Word. There we will find fullness of joy. There we will find the peace that passes all understanding. There we will find healing for our souls. (Matthew 11:28) Otherwise, we ... are handling the Bible wrong ... and will end up hostile towards its Writer.
That's my take anyways, thanks for reading!