Anyone ever tell you “it goes by so fast” and you look at them like “you don’t even know the half of it!”? So, you when I tell you – this first 5 years of ministry has absolutely blown by as a vapor, you just GET it, don’t you?
Five years,hundreds of 1-on-1 conversations, dozens of group and micro-group settings, weeks of study, performances of “That Day” [impacting hundreds directly and thousands by extension], DivorceCare and DC4Kids, and so on. The result – men and women walking in deeper intimacy with Christ, producing greater witness in the marketplace, wrinkle-free marriages (okay, how about “wrinkles that get ironed out quickly and regularly”?), crises averted, men living free from porn addiction, etc.
Glory to God, glory to God, glory to God.
This month, we were riveted to an eye opening documentary (which we highly recommend you watch, too, at www.dividedthemovie.com) that’s radically shifted our perspective on family discipleship and widely exposed to us a unique opportunity from God to make an impact in that direction. Specifically, we will be empowering fathers to disciple their sons and it’s all about relationship with Christ.
We’ll be posting more information on our blog and Facebook page in the coming weeks and months about how this environment will work and the new reality that will be created in the church as a result. But, we have never experienced a greater need for fourfold support (see below).
This month, as we ramp up for this new program shift, our financial need is roughly $2,850 higher than expected (calculations updated 8/31). To help bridge this gap, we have about $750 in matching funds committed in a dollar for dollar scenario. Yes, we’d love your prayers. Yes, we’d love to hear your story as we continue the curriculum/content development. But, right now and through the remainder of 2012, we greatly need your prayer and financial support to bring this to fruition.
So, I’m inviting you to do one of four things:
Support urgently – online or by check (see below)
Pray – for us to remain obedient in our calling and faithful servants with this opportunity
Share “Divided: The Movie” w/ friends
Volunteer – if you’re a dad, a son, or you and your son would like to share your story for our research project (anonymously or publicly).
I’d love to talk with any who have questions about this new step as soon as you let me know who you are. I’ll be interviewing about 50 men by the end of this year as we continue our due diligence. Message me if you’d like to be one of them. Otherwise, keep us in prayer and send support either through our website at http://www.seasonsoflifeministries.org, and via mail at:
Seasons of Life Ministries, 2659 Freedom Pkwy., Suite 285, Cumming, GA 30041
When I waited tables, I remember the reason I was there most days was to make money. Yes, over time you grow to love the business and the people, but you do have to pay the rent, right? This is why it would frustrate the heck out of me when management would make the waitstaff clean the joint. Wiping down windows and walls… Deep cleaning tea urns… Polishing silverware and brass fixtures… pain in the neck.
Ever polish or deep clean something? Never noticed how dirty it was before that, right? (“Won’t this stuff just come off?!“) Ever look at it when you’re done and think – “Wow, that looks a whole lot better”? Then, someone comes barreling around the corner with a mess in their hands and you kind of guard your well polished treasure… “You must not tarnish my precious!!!
Deep cleaning things frustrates me almost as much as fake platitudes, especially people who quip scripture at you when you’re having a hard time. “God works all things for the good… Count your blessings…”
Shut it, preacher.
For this reason, I stopped counting my blessings years ago and I’m recommending you do so, too. Yes, I’ll explain. But, first, a word or two from scripture:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them. (Ecc. 3.1,5a)
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal 6.9)”
Stones had a lot of uses in the Old Testament culture, one was to mark occasions and events, like the 12 stones set at the Jordan River when Joshua led the nation across on dry land. The goal of having those stones there was not so that they could be counted. The goal of having those stones there was so the nation of Israel could remember God’s miracle and faithfulness as He ushered them into the promised land with supernatural fanfare. If I were one of those Israelites who saw the previous generation die off in the desert and then watched the Jordan river pile up in heaps while 2-3 million of us crossed over with the Ark of the Testimony, I’d probably go back from time to time and polish those stones, telling my kids and grandkids how crazy it was to see not just a sea part, but a rushing river stop in its tracks!!!
A few years ago, Cristine and I were struggling with some tough issues and people in our life. It seemed though we were doing what God called us to do and standing for His truth, we were encountering harsh resistance from people who should have been cheering us on. We were truly “wear in doing good”. My mentor gave us incredibly practical and helpful advice – “time to start polishing up some of the monuments og God’s faithfulness in your life.”
While temptation begs us to believe that if God is empowering us to do something, it’ll be easy-breezy. While God may call and empower us to climb a mountain with a 500 lb pack, He might help lighten the load, but it doesn’t mean we won’t be achy and out of breath at the summit. Weary can come with doing good. We must not lost perspective by ignoring the monuments of His faithfulness, much less minimizing them by only tallying them up. Counting blessings gives glory to God, but how much more when we pause for a moment or a season and examine every curve, chink, and line in the stone set up in remembrance? How much greater is our context and appreciation during strife when we think of the minute, clear detail of the miracles God has performed in the past.
May we not stop short by merely counting our blessings. May we pause and think back to the great, awesome details of God’s faithfulness in our past, even our present. May we not grow weary in doing good. Yet, if we do, if we become tarnished by the gunk of life and doing good in a broken world, let us be refreshed by God as He restores us to the joy of His salvation. May we reap a harvest in due time because by His power, we did not give up.
“the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. (John 1:27b)”
Pretend one of these guys is your boss for a moment… Will ya?
Meet the New Boss Pick your hero of industry – Trump, Gates, Ellison, whoever – they’re your boss and you’re their direct report. At a private lunch they tell you about this amazing concept that’s going to revolutionize your industry, even the world. It’s one of those ideas that’s actually been around for a long time, but the company got busy with other things, and now the simplest, cleanest idea that actually launched the whole industry has become crystal clear, relevant, and the timing has never been better!
As the check comes, he drops the bomb on you – “We’re going to give the technology/idea away for free and I want you to be the worldwide spokesman for the campaign!”
John the Baptist had a great head on his shoulders – lived outside the mainstream, ate non-GMO honey and free-range grass fed locusts, wore organic clothes… But, he also had an amazing attitude. Despite the fact that God had given him the same news “you’re going to be the worldwide spokesman for the free gift of the oldest, simplest concept, ever!” John kept an incredibly level, sober head. “This idea I’m about to drop on you comes from the biggest boss out there – I’m not going to take an ounce of credit for it, but you’d best pay attention.” There are two ways to look at this – “I’m such a loser. I’ve been wracking my brain for years and the Boss comes up with something so big it even makes my life simpler, because I’ve been complicating my life for all my life.” This is not the Gospel. The Lord of Grace doesn’t lord grace over our heads to make us feel like crap. Second way to look at this is honor by association – “Our company’s idea kicks your company’s butt so bad and you’d better listen to me because I’m with company X!”
If I were John, I’d have probably erred on the side of #2 and gotten cocky because my boss is bigger than all of your bosses combined and he tasked me with bringing the greatest idea, ever, to market.
The good news of Christianity is the Gospel of grace – we don’t deserve anything but God’s wrath and yet He’s sparing us from that so long as we repent and turn back to Him. The great news about the good news is not only is option 2 put to death by the humility of Ephesians 2:8-9, but also option 1 is over as well. Condemnation is through (see Romans 8:1). We can keep our heads bowed in humility rather than condemnation, yet held high as we boast in the Cross of Christ and the power of God (Gal 6:14).
Speed read: We’re shifting gears, taking steps to develop intensive family/leader training that makes discipleship so simple you’ll have no excuse but to start doing it. We have some financial resistance, but would like to make a mass appeal for immediate as well as long term support. – Oh, and until an iWeb problem is solved, our website cannot be updated. (So, keep your eyes on the blog, Twitter, and Facebook instead, for now.)
Changing Traffic Light: Last week, Cristine and I watched a movie called “Divided”. As we watched, God made very clear it was a flashing road sign we needed to obey, immediately. Written by Philip Leclerc, it shines painfully bright light on the fact that the body of Christ has made a tragic departure from the biblical model of family discipleship, leaning toward an outsourced model in a surprising place with terrible results – 80%+ teenagers are abandoning their faith by college.
The family has abdicated its most crucial role in God’s plan. A growing movement in discipleship training can turn this around.
The information in this documentary was so compelling and convicting to us, we immediately agreed that not only was something to be done about it, but that we are uniquely called to join the movement God has already initiated in turning the tide.In the coming months, I believe you’ll begin to hear stories on our blog (and Facebook) of men and women who are intentionally discipling their children and strategies for discipling your co-workers, children, and others around you.
This will require a commitment, accountability, and will be highly opposed by many local churches who have bought into a carnal, worldly model of discipleship. There. You’ve been warned. Rocky road and traffic ahead.
For the Road Ahead – This summer, we’ve experienced many great one-on-one, group, and couples discipleship moments, our own personal losses, a move to North Forsyth, and both some wild financial ups and sobering downs. The way forward will demand much of me as a husband, father, and discipler of men as well as an increased need for financial support from those who appreciate our calling and this ministry. Wild terrain will demand great tires…
Overall, some hard-knock financial surprises have Seasons of Life facing a $4,102 need for the month of August, but less than $21,500 for the remainder of the 2012 support year. If you’re considering some end of summer giving, or are already (wisely) reviewing and planning for year end or 2013 giving – one time support could use a big boost, effective immediately.
However, thanks to a boost in quarterly giving, we currently have a $500 matching gift to help raise some of the funds for August.
Until a glitch in Apple’s iWeb can be circumvented, our website will remain time frozen in June or July. So, in this post I’m including links that will help those who are called to support Seasons of Life.
If you’d like to join a few dozen faithful monthly supporters, click a below link to do so:
If you need a custom link for a dollar amount above, below, or between the listed amounts, email me here. Also, we highly recommend anyone consider using their bank’s online bill pay service (most often free for you and for us) and setting up a regular check to Seasons of Life Ministries, 2659 Freedom Pkwy., Suite 285, Cumming, GA 30041. Seasons of Life is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit and also can be supported through the National Christian Foundation.
Support Just for Now-
If you’d like to simply jump in with some one time support, click any of the following links and you’ll be taken to our secure online giving portal. Thanks, so much!!!
One of Cristine’s favorite Old Testament figures is King Josiah. Thrust onto the throne at age 8 after his father was assassinated by his own cabinet at the end of his two year reign. How does an eight year old kid cope with his dad’s untimely murder? The same way you and I ought to respond – “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”
I’m sure he grieved the loss. I lost my dad to divorce when I was about his age. My dad was still alive and it marked me for life. I won’t sit here and tell you it was easy. But, Josiah’s heart was all God’s. At eight, he’s crowned. At 16 he begins massive reform figuratively equivalent to bombing ESPN, MTV, FOX, and NBC’s broadcasting operations (2 Chron 34:3-6). He completely turned their culture upside-down. At 26, he restores the temple and the Book of the Law was found.
If I’m this 26 year old “kid”, I’d be feeling pretty good about myself at this point – I’ve made up for my father’s wickedness, I’m serving the one, true, living God and routing out all other rival gods… I’d be fired up to see how my actions were lining up with this famous manuscript. It’s report card time!
I don’t know how far off the mark Josiah was or even where he was missing the mark, but when he read the text, he “tore his robes (v. 19)” in shame. Even though God had put the wheels in motion to begin the demise and exile of Israel because of their wicked disobedience to Him, the prophet Huldah tells the administration that Josiah will be spared this destruction. For the remaining 13 years of his reign, it’s pretty much “all good in the ‘hood” for Israel and they celebrate a Passover feast that even rivals anything put on in the time of King Solomon or even David, all on Josiah’s dime.
The key is pretty obvious here – God postpones judgment on Israel a few years “because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God… (v 27)” It’s a gospel message all over again. Repent – change your mind and turn your heart away from idols and lesser gods – and you shall be saved.
Seasons of Life is about relationships restored, first to the Father, then to the people. When our vertical relationship with Him is intact, often the relationships with those around us bang on all four cylinders with less stalling and coughing. In relationships, one of the greatest idols that comes between us and our God is expectation. When pride gets the best of us, we bank all we have on our plans and expectations of how things should go, people should act, outcomes should manifest. In so doing, we leave little or no room for the plans of God, leading to death, destruction, depression, and/or discouragement either figuratively or literally.
The Good News:
As always, the gospel offers a reset button of sorts. When we set aside our altars and high places, holding our plans with open hands, we’re free to let God remove from our hands what is temporarily “ours” and replace it with what He knows we really need. With open hands we also lower the risk of losing our fingers when He removes something from our possession very quickly.
As we grieve our oldest daughter’s departure to live with her dad, we thank many of you for your heartfelt prayers and encouragement. We thank others for tearing their clothes, sitting on an ash heap with us, and weeping without words. But, we also thank God that He has shown us two things: 1) that our children are not ours forever – we are to raise, love, and steward them as any other charge He grants us and 2) that we can trust Him with the expectations we had for how her life would go. Yes, we must grieve the loss of “our plans”, but Josiah’s dextrous feet shifted his balance so nimbly. God grants us the grace to repent of our plans, however good they may have been, and concede to His higher, greater, and better plans.
What expectations are you holding onto? Will you trust God as Josiah did and run full force in the opposite direction if God so guides you? Even if it means going against what culture and comfort say is right?
The Better News:
The message of the gospel is not “be good”. It’s “an A+ is completely unattainable” or “you’re wicked and completely incapable of pleasing God, so He did it for you.” You don’t have to try harder to tear down the altars and high places in your life. You’re incapable of doing it on your own. Thank God!!!
Be encouraged. Jesus took your test and passed it with flying colors! His grade can be trusted.