It seems like the months fly by up here ... and June was no different! Let's get to it!
The ministry and men of DISCOVER LIFE have benefited this month by four wonderful blessings.
At the beginning of the month we were blessed with a week of personal and group ministry to the men and staff of DISCOVER LIFE by Bob Hudson, the director of The Cross Ministry Group. One of the major focuses of his ministry is to assist people in finding their identity in Christ by dealing with their false selves. Much of this is done through dealing with emotional responses. The Cross Ministry Group hosts national retreats for men and women and both can be found HERE. We were blessed to host the Woman At The Cross retreat here in early June.
The very next weekend we celebrated with the union of our own Stephen and Naomi Conti (formerly Gockel). This relationship has been a joy to watch develop in Christ. What a testimony! In a culture that presses the denial of godliness and the pursuit of self-centeredness, this couple chose to walk before God uprightly and entered their marriage as a testimony to countless young people resounding that God's way is the right way and is possible for those who choose to obey Him! Well done you two and a huge congratulations to both families, who are, in our opinion, very incredibly special.
Immediately following the wedding DISCOVER LIFE was blessed with the ministry of Colonial Carpenters For Christ. This ministry based in North Carolina brought 17 men to take on the project of reframing the house we are preparing to move our residency to (Our Father's House). They were a huge blessing to us here in both work, but also in ministry. Words cannot express our gratitude for their willingness to give of themselves so freely.
To wrap up the month we we privileged to participate in Larry Poston's teaching retreat on a Biblical approach to demonology. The notes and sessions will be made available soon. With so many culturally and emotionally driven while Biblically obscure teachings out there, and with that the overt disagreement so many have on the issue, who can anyone trust regarding this very important topic? According to Larry Poston, the Bible is the only trustworthy source. This retreat channels everything the Bible has to say concerning Satan, demons, and the occult for the student to gain maximum insight while minimizing unbiblical influences on the topic. Thank you Larry!
In closing, I do continue to ask that you pray for the men of DISCOVER LIFE and the leadership. This dynamic ministry exists to disciple people in the discover of their identity, passion, and purpose. This is no easy task. The only model of ministry we have to complete our mission is Jesus Christ Himself and the discipleship He demonstrated to us. The nature of our ministry brings us very close and personal to people who are in dire need of God's grace. We have no ability within our human capacities to offer them anything that will truly help, but with God's leading and directing through His Holy Spirit, we have life to offer. If you would like to know how you can help, please CLICK HERE! Thank you for helping us as we help others!
LESSONS FROM THE SAWMILL: Nobody Does That!!!
Experts! They're all experts! I was discussion the process and need for weeding our garden with one of the men up here and he sounded off with the all-familiar phrase.
The men most often come up here with lives that are shattered including immeasurable amounts of collateral damage that their poor choices have caused. The usual cycle is they start out very appreciative of our acceptance of them, but within days the same self-life that led them to their destructive lifestyle resurfaces because we always bring us along. Criticism begins veiled as "I know how to do this better" ... and it can be self deceiving because they don't realize that the problem is not within the issue of who gets to come up with new ideas but it has everything to do with the fact that the motivation behind their thinking is merely self-preservation.
They don't want to do the work (whether it be studying, helping around the house, or jobsite assignments) so they would rather think (while others work) of ways to do the work better and when their ponderings are not received with appreciation, they become offended which leads to becoming bitter and critical. They do not consider the existence of strategies behind the work. They do not consider their commitment and promise to do what they are asked to do cheerfully. They are veiled from their own selfishness and all they can see is our unwillingness.
It is at this point that the decisions are made. We recognize the cycles. There are no shortage of compliments for the first few days ... but they are merely reactionary to being off the streets. I have an old saying I hold to: I can trust a compliment from a person that will tell me when I am wrong. Think about it. If you have a friend who tells you when they don't like your cooking, then you can trust their compliments because ... well ... they wouldn't otherwise. So the compliments from the new inductees is taken as what they are: survival. The truth is the compliments are merely another method of self-preservation. I look to the point where the critical nature begins to show itself ... because this is who they are and this is where the work will begin. Jesus' disciples criticized Him and we can expect no better in this process.
In John 6, late in the chapter, Jesus is teaching about how God reveals Jesus' divinity to us. He uses some hard to grasp teachings that caused even His disciples then to shake their heads in confusion. "Wait! I have to drink Your blood? This is nonsense." Many left without understanding the point and Jesus response is initially as confusing:
65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"
We probably would have chased down our departing followers and straightened it out with them. "No! Don't leave! What I meant to say was ..." Yet he says to the twelve, "You leaving too?" But Jesus knew everything quite conveniently being God. He knew the hearts of those following Him whether they were following for their own agendas or because they genuinely wanted what He had to offer: abundant life (John 10:10). He knew that His use of language would cause those listening to harden their (already hardened) hearts or it would stir up something and cause the hungry to press closer for food (Matthew 11:12-19; Matthew 15:27).
What's the point?? I remember one of the Charlie Brown theme songs had a line in it that said "We are all a boy named Charlie Brown." I didn't get it as a child but I get it clearly now. What Charles Schulz was manifesting in Charlie Brown is in all of us ... that is why everyone identifies with Charlie Brown! We pick out people that fill the rolls of Linus, Lucy, Susie, etc ... but we all identify with Charlie Brown. That was the genius in creation of his character. Well this is the same here! These men ... they are all versions of us, though concentrated. We all suffer from our own agenda that blinds us. We validate our behaviors and actions by tunnel-visioning our intentions ... and we defend our intentions to the death ... even to the death of those we love because we will not be wrong or wronged.
I can overlook your weakness of character unless it stumbles on my weakness of character, then I am validated to destroy you in order to protect others from seeing my weakness of character. But it is in the very choosing to put off self-ambitions and to strive for unity that we actually get to experience true fellowship and the joy it brings. Paul didn't mince words here!
3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
When the men finally come face to face with their conflict within themselves to continue in their criticism or to put it off and choose to be appreciative, the relationship begins, not ends. And the same is with all of us. We really don't have the right to enjoy the fruit of fellowship until we have chosen to fight for it against our own nature. It is in the very intentional decisions we make to not walk in offense and criticism of others that we usually find our genuine love and appreciation for them. Anything until then was simply that you just agreed, and who doesn't like a good association? But it is there in the choosing to unite through conflict where the joy of the relationship really begins because it's been tested, not by agenda, but by just plain old life circumstances. I am blessed to have many such relationships. But even as I write this, I am reminded of a conversation I was having just the other day with another believer and the response was the same: but Pat, nobody does that! Well somebody does.
That's my take anyways, thanks for reading!