Monthly Archives: July 2011
Some believe that using scripture as the ultimate authority for Christian life is merely a means of using a term to define itself – of course. But, we see it as something far more valuable – a crucial tool for sorting out what seem to be inconsistencies, “contradictions”, or ambiguities in the text, especially as it refers to application and worldview. That is, “interpret scripture with scripture” is a vital hermeneutical guidepost that helps insure that we do not “make scripture say whatever we want it to say”.
Effective use of this tool may have saved the lives of
What Does Ministry Look Like?
I’m a planner. You know that, right? That’s why God married me to an executor (a doer). Perfect match. I’ve always been able to look at the finished/future product and reverse engineer it into a set of steps – a “blueprint” if you will. For example, while running a friend’s company and working for him as a home theater installer, I also planned my own wedding, all the way down to an automated seating chart in Microsoft Excel. It’s part of my DNA.
Wouldn’t it be just like God to spot me leaning on my own understanding and kick my crutch out from under me? What I mean is, is this: when we formally “launched” the ministry, I had a plan. In fact, I had lots of plans. I even had plans to make more plans. I had plans to find and publish statistics, show returns on donor investments, deliverables for our board, prayer and praise reports, and so on, and so on. I went to seminars on best practices, scheduled planning time, and got my wife’s accountability on executing those plans. Then, with white knuckles wrapped around the plans, we set out to execute them.
That’s when God kicked my crutch. “Lean on me, not your understanding…”
When God gives a vague calling to a specific person, it can be confounding. Yet, it can also be quite liberating. In our situation, God called us to teach, exhort, and encourage people to become fully dependent on Him. Praise God that He wanted us to do it by example, as well, even if we wanted to fight Him on it. Today, we stand grateful that our only choice for obedient living is to “commit our plans to the Lord” as long as we understand “commit” to mean “tell God your plans and when He’s done laughing, be prepared to watch Him unfold something inordinately more awesome in front of your eyes.
“Aarron, the title of the article is ‘Update’, can we have an update, already?”
With ruthless reliance and dependence on God as the backdrop, take a look at a few recent updates on all things Seasons of Life.
“That Day” was (and continues to be) a fantastic success. In April, Men Step Up (Gwinnett) celebrated 5 years in ministry. They thought the best way to celebrate it would be to invite every guy who’d ever walked through the door at the Gwinnett location to come back any Friday in March. On top of it all, they decided the best way to cap off a series about “the value of being present” was to have a dinner theater production of “That Day”, where the main character gets to see the value of the presence (or lack thereof) of a godly man in the lives of those around him.
So, they hired us to perform this one man show (“two man” if you count Rolin Williamson, who played [awesome] guitar and sang [awesomely], or “14 man” if you include all the characters I play… But, you get the point) at Crosspointe Church, in Duluth, GA. The house was sold out at about 150 people – men, women, and children, who came hungry for truth, food, and entertainment. Thanks to California Dreaming and the Lord sustaining me through this 90 minute “monologue (?)”, none left disappointed.
California Dreaming had appetizers ready for the sold out crowd as they piled into the performance room watching video clips of Men Step Up testimonials/interviews. Rolin Williamson offered up a sweet version of U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” to set the tone for the show. Then, after a few moments of awkward silence, Dan Matthewson (Aarron Pina) busied his way to the stage with an abrupt opening line that defined the character from the outset: “Can we just get to the point, please?! I hate wasting time…”
|Annette Creekmore listens as John Woodward shares his
reflections on eternal rewards at the judgment seat of Christ.
Aarron delivered over a dozen characters in a moving first act, making for a very suspenseful intermission. During intermission, attendees were treated not only to a fantastic, catered dinner, but a family style rendition of “table talk” Men Step Up style. Audience members who had just witnessed a man “unprepared for his own judgment” got a chance to wrestle with scripture and their own thoughts on what their judgment will really look like. Rob Marbury, an audience member, said the show took him “beyond salvation”. Bullseye.
The second act proved equally moving and poignant. After great performances by both Aarron and Rolin Williamson, Casey Sanders led the crowd in a brief “popcorn” forum where participants got to share their reflections on the show, the performance, and the truth of God’s word. Gears were definitely turned, hearts were moved, and paradigms stretched. Another bullseye!
In fact, Aarron received a standing ovation and by the time everyone who wanted to talk or ask him questions was done, it was almost an hour before he could get out the door! Wow – God really “showed up”. In the coming months, a local singles ministry hopes to have us perform for them, and a private party is planning to have us in Dallas, TX for a command performance. Additionally, two business men who attended April’s performance will be talking with Seasons of Life later next week about how to put the show in front of several groups of local Christian business owners forums later this year.
|Coral & Rory Martin|
The Two Shall Become One Flesh
As we’ve walked with a variety of men and women over these years, it’s been a unique pleasure to see the truth of God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit facilitate not only minor course corrections, but drastic transformation in their lives. Cristine has been meeting with Coral for the past couple of years and as a couple, we’ve been so impressed by the changes God has made in her life as she’s responded to Him in loving obedience. Rory Martin is a son of a pastor and a man whose heart beats for preaching, reaching the lost, and prison ministry. Aarron has been meeting with Rory for several months now. On May 14th, we witnessed an awesome step in a new direction as the two said their vows and were joined in marriage at a wedding ceremony in Cashiers, NC.
We are incredibly excited to have a front row seat’s view into what God has been doing and will be doing in their life together. We know we’re not responsible for bringing the two together, but we know their marriage is a win for discipleship because these are two people chasing after God, transparent with their flaws, growing in their gifts, and wise enough to surround themselves with godly counsel. May the Lord bless them and keep them. We invite you to keep them in your prayers!
Toby Mac? …and Beyond!
Last week, thanks to your generosity, Seasons of Life Ministries was able to send 5 middle and high school students to Gwinnett Arena to attend the Forward Conference, 2011. Over 12,000 students, leaders, and volunteers packed the arena to capacity to hear speakers from Jentezen Franklin to Judah Smith to Reggie Dabbs. Multiple Grammy Award winner Israel Houghton teamed up with Rory Comtois and Free Chapel’s worship team for a live recording session, Grammy and Dove nominated rapper Flame kicked it Jesus-style, PlanetShakers and Matt Redman brought worship favorites to life, but the clear favorite performances were by TobyMac, whose “Echo” will be echoing through the airwaves for the foreseeable future.
Our students were not only impressed by the move of God in the arena through worship, but were moved and transformed by the speakers and the truth. One of them, a high schooler, placed his faith in Christ the very day after the conference! Praise the Lord and to those of you who give, thank you for making this possible. You’ve got 5 students whose passion for the Lord is growing wild! Next year, we hope to send even more students Forward – to the Georgia Dome. Rumor has it that attendance was so high this year, Gwinnett Arena will not be a large enough venue to host Forward 2012.
|Preview/Buy on Amazon|
Pain Takes Many Forms
In discipleship as well as DivorceCare groups, we spend a good amount of time talking about the places in our lives where God wants to bring truth to counteract lies, comfort to the wounded, discernment to the naive. The question “where does it hurt?” is part and parcel of the calling. Often, those in pastoral ministry, counseling, and other helping vocations have a tendency to take great care of others and terrible care of themselves.
Guilty as charged. “Healer, heal yourself!”
Two months ago, I began reading “Leading on Empty” and “Soul Custody”. Our staff quickly realized we had been ourselves approaching burnout and needed a day off, a week off, perhaps even a month. Last month, we each scheduled a day at a local monastery where we knew we could be in silence long enough to silence every voice in our heads but God’s. After these days of solitude, silence, and simplicity, it was clear that July would be a wise time for us to “come home from the mission field”. Kind of hard to do when your home is part of the mission field.
With that in mind, we found a compromise. For the month of July, we’ll be out of our normal discipleship schedule with no extra classes or involvement, so that we can recharge and renew our minds. We’ve invited a handful of people to come by for a low-key “grill and chill” and will maintain an open door policy for the month to fellowship with some people who’ve fallen off the radar of our lives. If you feel like we’ve fallen off your radar since we got married, stepped out into ministry, and had a bunch of babies, send us an email or give us a call and we’ll save some space on the couch, pull up a chair in the backyard, and lay out a burnt offering on the grill!
Good News & Bad News
In the meantime, I’m compelled to let you know where it hurts – where we could use your prayer and support. Financially, things are tight – they always have been, but God has always provided. We’re just at one of those crossroads again where we’re looking up at Him saying “We don’t know how You’re going to pull this off, but we’re open to Your plan.” Right now, we have about $750 in matching funds available for the month of June – if you’re considering giving to SOLM, every dollar you contribute this month will help us capture a dollar of that matching gift. Overall need for the ministry is over $2,250 for June, but we’re confident that this gift can create enough momentum to exceed that, if people prayerfully engage with us in it.
It’s always a great time to join us as a seasonal (3 months only) giver and if you give online, your gift can be designated as such. Seasonal givers will have the added bonus of counting toward the matching gift. Additionally, local “realigners” Drs. Colin & Claudia Roopnarine have offered to donate half the proceeds of all July office visits to any chiropractic patient who mentions Seasons of Life Ministries. Connect with them at www.nptcc.com on North Point Parkway in Alpharetta. Help yourself & help us! 770-993-4464