Lecture Phase

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God Is Infinite

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This week has been awesome!! On Monday it was supper encouraging to be reminded of how God speaks to us in many different ways. Also, it was interesting when Whitney gave a short summary of God’s plan all throughout the Bible of drawing mankind nearer to him. I felt I received fresh excitement for scripture through Whitney’s enthusiasm. Tuesday we took a little different of an approach. She spoke on the life of Moses throughout the book of Exodus. I really enjoyed our discussion times where we split into groups to read and discuss different parts of Moses’s life. Two main things I learned was 1. God took the Israelites on a long journey to the promised land because He knew they weren’t ready yet (He was developing faith in them) 2. God doesn’t call us to have blind faith. In addition to this He knows how much faith we have and has patience to grow our faith through situations and life. Whitney did an awesome job at explaining faith!

The rest of the week was awesome. We practiced many different approaches to hearing God’s voice. One approach was asking God “what do you think about me” and just writing down whatever came to your head. This was really cool because I oftentimes overcomplicate hearing the voice of God. Also, I was reminded through Whitney’s teaching of the lack of power the enemy has. He does not know our thoughts but he studies our actions. We can have confidence knowing God is infinite but the enemy is finite. This week was awesome!

Jessica Hoffman

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Accepting Freedom

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For a reason I cannot explain, I decided it would be a good idea to go for a run under the sweltering afternoon sun yesterday (Saturday). The first mile was a painless cruise, and I smiled and waved at each passerby. Shortly after that first mile I began to feel the intense heat on my face, but shrugged it off and kept on rolling. Eventually I decided to turn around and felt an instant wave of regret. The wind was to my back and the sun was directly on my face. I felt like I was running through a wildfire, and I’m sure I looked about that way too! I stopped for a second to wipe the sweat from my eyes, and then pushed on as hard as I could until I reached home (funny how I now refer to YWAM DP as home). But I didn’t stop running once I made it back onto the path that leads to my casita; I kept going and going until the very edge of our dock and ran straight into the ocean. There was a half a second of air, and then my body immersed into what felt like a cool satin blanket. I stayed under as long as I could as the crisp water tickled my toes and revived my fingers. The ocean felt so invigorating I almost opened my mouth to take a big gulp, but quickly decided against that plan. I eventually came back up to the surface to breathe, as that’s usually necessary (I’m not a mermaid yet but I’m working on it), but the surface just wasn’t as exciting. I went under again and again as I was only alive when I was consumed by this big blue puddle of joy.

As I was reflecting on this joyous moment yesterday, I came across a word that would describe the experience well… freedom. Simple yet profound, like all my favorite things in this world. On my run I was trapped under the hot sun and by the beads of salty sweat running down into my eyes.  But when I took that leap of faith into the water I was free.

I think that little situation of mine is a nice analogy for our relationship with the Lord.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

This past week was ironically called freedom week, and it was taught by the founder of YWAM DP Lynn Toney. Lynn is a passionate woman whose light shines so brightly it blinds those around her in God’s love. During freedom week we talked about being free in Christ, and the amazing life we can live when we are free in Christ. Of course true freedom requires a leap of faith, as I had to take a small jump and experience a second of free fall before I hit the water. But once we do take that leap of faith we are all consumed and covered in his love. I learned that in many different forms this past week. I learned a lot about myself and how the inconsistent and twisted ways that I see myself are affecting the ways that I see God.  I had to approach situations from my past in oder to experience freedom. I had to run a long, hot, sweaty path that I didn’t particularly enjoy in order to experience freedom, but boy was it worth it. Christ accepts us wherever we are, carrying ugly loads and scars, but he doesn’t want us to stay there. I gave him my heart years ago, but as I get closer and closer to him he is asking for more than my heart. He wants my life, my thoughts, my decisions, and most importantly he wants the weights that I am not strong enough to carry. And when I finally surrendered those weights to him He set me free. 

“He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” – Psalm 23: 2-3

If I could give myself a personal “theme” for this season in my life here in Belize I would call it “dare to hope” because the Lord has been beckoning me to hope in the plans and purposes he has for my life (especially because I currently don’t have a clue what’s next for me). Well, in that, the Lord has asked me to accept the blessings that he wants to freely give me. For most of my life I have been carrying the load that I have to earn and work for love, because if I don’t deserve it I won’t receive it. If I made a mistake I lost love, and had to work extra hard in order to deserve any. Well this twisted way of thinking influenced the way that I saw God. I thought that in oder to receive love from the Lord I had to work for him. I had to serve until my eyes bled, and then he would show me his love for me. If I sinned, then I would lose his love and would have to work extra hard and put myself down because that’s what I deserve. Well, in an interesting series of events this week, the Lord revealed to me that weight, and how unnecessary it is for me to carry. One day in class Lynn asked us to write a letter to ourselves from God and to wait and pray until He speaks to us. Immediately I began thinking to myself what God will probably say to me. He’ll tell me the things I need to do better and the things I need to do less of. He’ll tell me where I was wrong and why, and how I need to try harder to do better next time. But when I sat down to hear from Him, I waited a moment in silence and heard “I love you. That’s it.” And that was it. That’s all I heard. I got no other word from the Lord. And then it hit me. I try and earn the love of the Lord. Who am I to say that I can earn the love of the creator of this universe. If I’m going to get it, it’s going to be a gift, and that’s the beauty of it. But that is so hard for me to accept, because I have lived opposite of that for my entire life. **pause for quick dance party outside at the palapa** Anyway, since I have gotten to DP I have been overwhelmed by an increasing and overflowing joy. And at many times I have felt guilty for feeling so much joy. No Lord, shouldn’t I be suffering? Shouldn’t I be struggling? Why are you blessing me? I couldn’t understand why the Lord would want to bless me without any effort of my own. All I did was jump on a plane, and now the Lord keeps giving and giving. He has given me amazing new friends, a wonderful casita full of girls whom I love with my whole being, delicious food at every meal, and THE OCEAN. I do not deserve any of this, but the Lord gave it to me anyway. It blows my mind, and before this week, I was afraid of it. Despite what others have shown me in life, there is nothing I can do to earn or lose the love of the Lord. He has given me his whole heart because he loves me, and that’s it. A basic concept of freedom in Christ is accepting his FREE love; and it is that basic concept that was keeping me from freedom in Him. I was chaining myself to myself because I’m not perfect. I was constantly telling myself that I wasn’t good enough to earn love. I am scared of failing, of falling short, of expecting to feel his love but not being able to. But living in the freedom of Christ requires faith that His love will carry us through this life into the eternal. It requires hope. It comes in a full circle. The Lord revealed to me a weight I was still carrying, asked me to announce in front of my class that I have to forgive myself for trying to earn his love, and He asked me simply to dare to hope that I could sit in my room for the rest of my life and he would still bless me because He just loves me that much. When I obeyed Him and let go I was immersed so surely in his love, just like I was in the water after my run, and today I have felt his love with a new and overwhelming depth.

I encourage you, as Lynn encouraged me, to ask the Lord what unnecessary weights you are carrying, and give them over to Him in order to experience the freedom of Christ. It is a wonderfully beautiful thing.

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Madison

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Life In HD

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A couple weeks ago I had the very awesome opportunity to teaching foundations week for this January school. I had never taught before and it was something I felt prepared for and unprepared for all in one. I have never really had a problem with public speaking before but four hours a day, five days in a row is a lot of time to fill. I have gained a whole new respect for speakers who come to teach every quarter. But that’s not really what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about life.

Faith. Life. Adventure.

It’s one of the many mottos we choose to live out here at YWAM DP. Since I’ve been on staff I’ve had many opportunities to reflect on these three things. But teaching on foundations brought me into a brand new place of learning what “Life.” really means. Throughout the week I taught on things like truth, the bible, God (who is He / what is He like), the value of man, sin and salvation. It was a full week to say the least. But through this week I saw the students listen to what I had to say and listen to what I felt like the Father was telling me. They responded, they prayed, they encouraged.

Each school carries a different attitude toward the DTS process. Some carry an attitude of determination, some an attitude questioning, some an attitude family. Of course, every school carries little bits of all of these. But this school…they carry encouragement. They were constantly encouraging each other, their staff, and even me while I taught. It truly was a blessing to teach them.

They encourage life. They encourage boldness and honesty. They encourage fun when needed and seriousness when needed. They constantly encourage each other to do what they need to do to get freedom, to get more of God.

My bible defines life as this: the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body; period from birth to death; a way or manner of living; spiritual existence transcending death; salvation.

A way or manner of living. I think this school has decided the way they want their lives to be. Full. Alive. Awakened. These guys have decided they are tired of going through the motions, living in black and white. They have woken up. They are choosing color. They are choosing a life lived in HD! Being around 27 students who are living in HD is ridiculously inspiring. They fight for it every single day, but they are determined to make HD a life long attitude. Through them God has (re)taught me to continue to seek after what update He has in store for me next.

I’ve lived in Belize for quite sometime now and have gotten accustomed to the white sand and the blue ocean. I’m used to the palm trees and the parakeets. I walk around without shoes on and wear shorts almost everyday. Now, I realized that for most people…I live in paradise. Because, well I do! But to me, right now, it’s just home. This is just how life is. We get a lot of sun and sometimes it’s blinding. I walk out my door mid morning and the sun reflects off my white porch and the white sand and the bright white clouds, and just for second I can’t see anything. If I’m not in a rush to get somewhere I will give my poor eyes a second to adjust to the blazing sun until I can confidently walk down the steps to wherever I’m heading. I walk into my everyday, my (ir)regular life. Every so often after my eyes adjust to the sun, God stops me. He asks me to wait and look at this place He lets me call home. In those rare seconds I’m reminded that God has given me a life that I can live fully alive.

During my DTS was when I started living fully alive, after being on staff, leading outreaches, small groups, working around the base, being a student in the FCM (Foundations for Counselling Ministry) I have continued my adventure in living fully alive, I have chosen to live in HD. One day when I leave this place, I will continue to walk in that choice, because now that I’ve felt what its like to be fully alive, I couldn’t go back to standard living!

Thanks,

Taylor

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Tamales

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Our society promotes self protection to the point of losing who we are. “Look out for number one!” “Make sure you don’t open yourself up enough to be hurt by others” “Bury your emotions, hide your insecurities, show your better self!” Why is it that this idea is so widely accepted as what we need to do? We have this uncanny ability to pretend like everything is okay, or distancing ourselves from other believers to be sure that we won’t get called out on our facade. Whens the last time someone asked how you were, and you responded with a truthful or deliberate statement, rather than the traditional and habitual “I’m doing well, and you?” We’re told to just BE okay. We’re told to move along complacently as life takes its toll on our sanity. How many christians across the world are struggling with boredom, depression, anxiety or addiction, and choose to cope by shutting out everyone around them and putting on a fake outer shell to hold everything together.

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Release

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Faith has to be a personal and intimate thing. If faith is not personal thing, it is nothing else than guidelines to live by. Here at DP we welcome so many people who are looking to personalize their relationship with Christ. Running a Discipleship Training School is all about creating a space where people can seek a personal relationship in an uninterrupted environment. Faith is personal. Relationship requires time and work as trust is an additional choice. I am honored to be a part of a team that creates the space for people to find these things for themselves as we continue to grow along side the students.

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