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Monday Morning Momentum (in a Minute)

Three Reasons for a Link Instead of a Post:

  1. I had to share this link with y’all because it’s dead on with the conversation we’ve been having these past few weeks about appreciation and eternal rewards. In fact, it’s part of the key issue. We worship, serve, and are actively, uniquely loved by a personal God. He know sour troubles, He sees our struggle, He knows our pain, He’s suffered for our wrongs, and He’s watching… waiting… to reward us in eternity with treasures, accolades, even crowns.
  2. Even though it’s not officially Monday, here in America most of us have a four day work week this week because of the Memorial Day Holiday. So, I took yesteraday “off” (for part of the day) and have dubbed today a de facto Monday. But, since I read such a great (and short) post last week by Darryl Dash, I thought it would be a great change for such an odd “Monday Morning” post. I haven’t checked out Darryl’s background, know much about his theology, nor can I vouch for him personally – I just think he’s dead on with this post.
     
  3. Cristine and I meet with a lot of people that are dealing with trial, struggle, and the big “a” word – anxiety. Since our oldest daughter is going through such a hard time with this herself right now, it’s another great reason for us to look to the scriptures for two really great words teased out in Dash’s post: Have a great week.

He Cares – Darryl Dash

Jesus: Life Help DIY?

Jesus as a Do-it-Yourself Kit?
Some people liken the work we do to “faith-based life coaching”. My counter to that statement is often – “life-based faith coaching”. We’re not here to help people with their life, rather help them stretch their faith to a point where they experience the true source of life, named Jesus Christ. One thing we’re not is teachers of theology. But, theology matters.
Dr. Albert Mohler:
We sin against Christ and we misrepresent the Gospel when we suggest to sinners that what God demands of them is moral improvement in accordance with the Law. Moralism makes sense to sinners, for it is but an expansion of what we have been taught from our earliest days. But moralism is not the Gospel, and it will not save. The only gospel that saves is the Gospel of Christ. As Paul reminded the Galatians, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” [Gal. 4:4-5]
…The deadly danger of moralism has been a constant temptation to the church and an ever-convenient substitute for the Gospel. Clearly, millions of our neighbors believe that moralism is our message. Nothing less than the boldest preaching of the Gospel will suffice to correct this impression and to lead sinners to salvation in Christ.

Big News: (2 of 2)


Update and Upfront

     Life happens. Trials are here to make us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, right? Ever think “if that’s true, then this year, I should be pretty close to perfect“? 2011-2012 has been the most challenging on the job training we’ve ever received. Despite the fact that I’ve had time to send out ZERO support letters in 6 months, God has provided between 60 and 80% of budgeted support in some way or another – almost twice our normal program funding level. The Lord has been wildly faithful and we are extremely grateful! More on that and some BIG NEWS below.

Earlier this month, Aarron was asked to stand in for ministry
leader Casey Sanders at Gwinnett’s Men Step Up.

For first quarter, 2012, alone – 

  • Men have received regular 1 on 1 encouragement, wisdom, and discipleship from God’s word, dealing with everything from pornography addiction, blending families from a biblical perspective, deeper quiet time with God, to “pastoring your wife’s heart”.
  • DivorceCare leaders have been equipped and have run for a full quarter reaching a dozen men, women, & children directly and dozens beyond that where they work, live, and recover.
  • Couples have received couple on couple discipleship, wisdom, and encouragement and even been sent to a local marriage conference followed by one on one or couples’ “debriefing”.
    Through a partnership with another local 
    ministry, God has provided food for a dozen 
    families a year with about 6 of them on a 
    weekly basis.

  • Weekly food runs through Divine Resourcing have brought food to more than a half dozen families as part of our “Speak Life” programming.
  • We’ve run a panel discussion for divorced men on “Single Sexuality”.
  • Men have been encouraged to “think out loud” at ONE TH1NG, (a separate ministry led by Ron Dunn designed to “Spur men to walk with God”). Aarron and other men have led dozens of micro group discussions as part of their “ministry within a ministry” environment. 
  • Aarron also recently led a conversation at Men Step Up, Gwinnett, on Friday, 5.11.2012 (see photo above) regarding contentment in current circumstances in light of present and eternal rewards. It hit home for a great majority of the men in attendance.
  • The SOLM blog & Facebook page have been enhanced and regular content added, reaching an audience in the hundreds, soon to be thousands.
  • Our skills have been sharpened through both counseling and impartation through Trinity Psychological Services, Free Chapel, and Jesus Spoken Here Ministries.
  • Aarron has begun preliminary preparation for a “That Day” performance in October and is in talks about another engagement before then.
Argentina?
     Recently, supporters of Seasons of Life and followers of our Facebook Fan Page helped a friend of ours take an unexpected “mission” trip to Argentina. We hope to have an official update from Lily Chauvin soon, but we can tell you it was a heartbreaking trip. While there were some who received her well, she found others to be hostile to her as well as the gospel. We know from scripture that God prepares the heart to receive the gospel, but gives man the opportunity to accept it or reject it. We’re grateful for all of you who jumped at the chance to help her in her calling and honored to have participated.

Fiscal Forecast – Sunny?
     Financially, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by God prompting a number of supporters to step up their giving, completely unsolicited. (In fact, whereas normally we’ve sent out support letters once or twice per quarter, it’s been almost six months since we’ve sent out a “make the need known” letter. Glory to God.) 


    As we approach the summer there are a few transitions on the horizon and we’d like to inform everyone of the possibilities ahead for 2012, 2013 and beyond. The Lord is broadening our territory in Gainesville, GA, where the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few. This could mean carrying a wider load for Free Chapel’s DivorceCare program but also bringing Seasons of Life discipleship to a community lacking in a detailed one-on-one discipleship plan and budget to sustain it, yet rich in a deep and abiding need for it.    

     We are prayerfully moving forward one step at a time, one relationship at a time, one conversation & prayer at a time.


To help us capture a $2,500 matching
donation for 2nd quarter, click here.

The Big News:

    This presents a fantastic opportunity for people with a passion for para-church ministries, pastoral care for the hurt, broken, and addicted, as well as those who love to support missionaries in general. Currently, we are less than $3,000 from meeting our support need – for the quarter – this is a big deal for three reasons:

  1. This is the shortest distance we’ve been from the mark, ever. And this is for the quarter, not the month. Wow, praise GOD!
  2. Summer is historically one of the driest “seasons” of the year for many non-profits and ministries like Seasons of Life, yet this!
  3. God has dropped a (ridiculously timely) $2,500 dollar-for-dollar matching gift on the table for 2nd Quarter!



What You Can Do:
     Your giving power is officially doubled. Anyone who supports Seasons of Life Ministries in new giving, whether one time, “seasonal” (once/month for three months), or joins as a new monthly support family member, will help us not only capture the funds needed for the quarter, but definitively help set us up for a smooth 3rd & 4th quarter and balance the scales moving into 2013. WOW, is right!

     Pray it over, (as always), and consider whether this is the “sign” you’ve been waiting for: the need is great where we’re “growing to”. You may never personally experience the work God’s called us to do all the way up in North Forsyth and Hall Counties, but your giving will make a bold impact on men, marriages, couples, children, and disciples of Christ there. To help capture this timely gift, click here or enter “http://bit.ly/solmsupport” in your browser’s address bar.

Moving Forward
     Thank you, thank you, to all who are still lifting up this ministry, our family, and those we serve in your prayers. Great things are in the rear view mirror and on the horizon. Your “vertical” support has not been wasted. Please, keep us in prayer, join us in prayer, and tell anyone you can to follow us, fan us, like us, and pray for us.

in Christ,

AP

Newsletter Update (1 of 2)

What Happened to Spring?!

     As transplanted Northerners, spring in Georgia is a strange phenomenon for us. It comes with little warning, a month (or two) earlier than we’re used to, and turns into summer even faster. Brown, crunchy lawns in our neighborhood turn verdant almost overnight. It’s almost as if a glacier melted and dropped a new terrain on top of the old, barren one. From a practical standpoint, that’s what it looks like when Jesus drops His abundant life into the life of the broken. Dry, crusty life doesn’t just “perk up”, it thrives.

     This past year has been one of the most challenging seasons of our own lives personally. Yet, we have clearly seen God use it to transform our hearts and refine His ministry through us. Call it “on the job training”, but the trials He’s delivered us through in 2011-2012 have been no different than the dramatic winter to summer transition we’re growing accustomed to here in GA. We’re already seeing the results of it bear fruit in the lives of others.

Our Honor, His Glory
     Recently I had coffee with a guy whose wife is being crushed by the grinder of life. Pain and brokenness from her past is gushing out of her heart, subsequently, her mouth – and that hurts. But, to watch this guy “get vertical” and follow Jesus despite the (tongue) lashing he takes for hurts he didn’t cause, is such a sweet honor.

     I’ve got three or four guys across the table from me this year going through the same thing, and God continues to speak to us all through His word. I’m invigorated to watch them stumble at times, but get up and walk on in the footsteps of “forgive them Father, they know not what they do”. Love, love, awesome, godly love. Masculine, yet submitted to God. Wow.


     Just today, we got an email from a woman that Cristine loves very deeply and has walked with from time to time over the past few years – 

“[My husband and I] are proof that one on one discipleship truly helps (well, some days we’re better proof than other days) in our walk with Christ.” 

    What an awesome, transparent, clear encouragement: we all fall down. We must get up, but never by the flesh, only by the Spirit. Discipleship isn’t the fix-all for everything: Jesus is. But, walking with someone, arm-in-arm, as you walk with Christ can make such a huge difference, no?

The New Adventures of Old New Cristine:

Cristine Pina looks nothing like Julia
Louis-Dreyfus, but she once drove away with her
coffee or purse on the roof and I like the tag line.

     Cristine has transitioned to volunteer status, stepping back from discipleship quite a bit this year and taken on a God given (long story) part-time job to fill in part of a gap in support. As for her discpleship, she is “picking her spots” as God would have her, and we are mindful to guard her bandwidth as God directs. 

     To watch her embrace her role as a mother and discipler of our children out of obedience to the Lord rather than by the force of her husband is an awesome sight. As a husband and father, it is so comforting to know that I don’t have to pressure her to lean this direction, rather just get out of her and God’s way and watch them collaborate for this season. 

     While our oldest daughter, Brianna, has been walking through her own dark season of life, God has used Cristine’s heart for prayer and burden for the next generation to forge a new ministry effort – Mothers In Prayer. 
     This is a once per week environment, where women – whether mothers, grandmothers, or childless – are now gathering to make their prayers and petitions known to the Lord. It is not a curriculum-driven environment, small group, nor networking organization. It is not a place for platitudes and shallow, “proper” prayers. It is solely focused on lifting up the cares and concerns one generation has for the next, honestly, transparently, boldly. To find out more about Mothers in Prayer, message us on Facebook through either Seasons of Life’s fan page or the new Mothers in Prayer page at http://www.facebook.com/prayingmothers.

     Hey, while you’re at it, go to our fan page, click “like”, and then share it with your friends!

The Way Forward for Discipleship

     As a couple, we are still seeing other couples through seasons of turmoil. This has always been a part of the DNA of Seasons of Life and we can see it continuing as God conforms us and them to the image of Christ. We are certain of our involvement with Free Chapel’s DivorceCare program, just uncertain what that looks like as their org structure and implementation strategy changes this month. We would ask for your prayers that we be continually prayerful and open to God’s direction as we stand in the flow of His ministry to the divorced in that territory.

“Like” us on Facebook for
up to the minute news!

Socially Acceptable Behavior

     If you’re on our email newsletter list, you’ve noticed your inbox has been pretty quiet. This is because we’ve been leaning much more heavily on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog for public updates. Social media has grown more and more effective, and we’re pleased with the results. As we track with this trend, you will likely see less from us in your inbox and more consistency on the blog and other outlets. Tune in.


     To connect with us on Facebook, click here. To follow us on Twitter, click here. If you’re just tuning in, God’s impressed on me the idea of staying consistent (again, with exceptions at His direction) with a weekly devotional published Mondays, here on the blog.

Monday Morning Momentum in a Minute

Reward!
     Don’t you just love the red letters? I mean, think about it – if you’re a theist or a deist, you don’t believe in a personal god who is active and involved in the life of His creation. But, if you’re a disciple of Christ, you have pages and pages of ancient manuscripts that have been preserved and protected over centuries that contain the words of the God who not only invented the universe, but also came to earth as one of us to teach, reach, and die for us.

     I’m off topic. My bad.

     The point of today is to further look into what happens today and how it effects eternity. Jesus is on a roll with His teaching ministry in Matthew 6 and sets the record straight on prayer and piety:

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven… I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. (Mt. 6.2,5b)” 

     If you can’t say “amen”, you’d better say “ouch”! “Really? That’s all I get?”

     Salvation is by faith in Christ alone. But, eternal rewards are a different story. Works we do here effect our eternal reward. God promises to reward us for everything we do while here “in the body” (2 Cor 5:10), but here gives us exception clauses as a warning. For the deists & theists out there, this flies in the face of your theology, big time: a personal God is watching you, recording your every move, with a great desire to reward you in eternity for the good you have done. How is that “uninvolved”? Further, and to the point, He also promises to deny us reward for actions done with a selfish motive, i.e. public kudos.

     For those of us in public, vocational ministry, especially the small, Mom-and-Pop type like Seasons of Life, this presents an interesting challenge: how does one report appropriately to “update” the public without sacrificing eternal rewards for bragging about ones’ works like the Pharisees did? Prayerfully and only to the glory of God. Et tu? How do you share your story, your testimony, the things God is using you for without sacrificing eternal rewards?

     Check your heart.

     What I really wanted to blog about this morning is the previous chapter – in Matthew 5:8, Jesus tells the crowds that when our hearts are clean and uncontaminated by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, (roll over to see also Luke 8:14 and Jas 1:27), we have a clear, unobstructed view of who God really is and what He is up to in the world. So, how’s your heart? Is it contaminated by worries over the things of this world? Mine isn’t. I’ve got to sit down right after I hit “publish” and “get to confessin”: I’m laden down this morning with what’s ahead in my day, some things I’m waiting to hear back on, some fundraising stuff that “might” go through, etc., etc., etc.

Be Encouraged:
     We’re never more than one prayer away from access to the full resources of Heaven. We’re never more than one prayer away from true repentance and a fully clean heart: it just takes honesty before God that we’re being controlled, run, “stained” [as James says] by motives other than pleasing God. Do you seek public accolades? Do you seek the desires of your heart independent of a “delight in the Lord” (Ps 37:4)?

     Dump your heart. Repent of the sin of worry. Receive right motives. And, step forward in grace, empowered by the Spirit. It ain’t complicated. Hard, sometimes – I’ll give you that – but simple. Momentum.

Much love.

AP