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Your Name in Lights

Ever Want to be Famous?

     You and I and everyone else who ever was or ever will be will eventually become the same thing: a memory. The longevity of our memory is something that most of us thinks about at least once or twice a day – “Will I be remembered as a ‘good person’? Will what I’m doing right now matter in 100 years?” Who wants to be forgotten?
http://www.redkid.net/generator/star/newsign.php?line1=Your+Name+Here&Celebrity=Celebrity

Slaying the Fame Monster

     Killing the obsession with earthly fame comes for some through stoking the fires of personal gain rather than achievement – they’re not concerned with who remembers them as long as they got what they wanted while they were here. Others don’t have to kill the beast, because their desire is like John the Baptists’, to minimize their own name while maximizing the name of Christ.

What’s the Problem?

      Whether you desire to kill the fame monster or you’re hopelessly beholden to it, there’s a tension that showed up in your gut when you read “Will what I’m doing right now matter in 100 years?” If you felt that, you get it. You get that we all have a desire for significance.
     There’s a universal tension between who we are and who we will become that grows more vivid the closer we get to death. Just ask anyone that’s been in a car wreck or overdosed or had some other near death experience. The thought of losing control over how we’re perceived by others is a cliff far more terrifying than the fiscal cliff in the news these days. We don’t just long to be remembered, we long to be remembered on our terms.

True Fame in Your Future

     In the book of Revelation (not Revelations, please), Jesus tells the church at Philadelphia they’re on track to earn a crown – a highly coveted chunk of eternal reward – but, if they don’t persevere in doing what is right, they’ll forfeit it.
     He also tells them of an even more coveted reward – I will make [him who overcomes] a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Rev. 3.12)”
    A pillar is strong, a support that holds up something (in this case, the Heavenly temple of God), and important pillars often have plaques with inscriptions on them. Jesus tells them God will autograph the person, put the name of the new Jerusalem on them, and write a new, personal nickname on him or her. Biggest fame, ever… and on God’s terms! Trust me, way better than anything you or I could come up with.

Freedom

     Surrender is about trusting that God’s way is infinitely more valuable than our ways. To walk in freedom is to relinquish control over how we will be remembered. I’ve often said the Bible is a collection of 66 books by over 40 authors that ultimately ask the same question from God to us: “Will… you… trust… Me.”
Well, will you?

in Christ,

AP

Year End Support Update – November 2012

The Not-So-Hard, but Fast Numbers:
     To finish the year even, all that’s left to raise is about $11,400, with about $3,200 in matching funds available to reach that milestone. Immediate need (due by 11.30.2012) is about $4,900.

    Last week , we received donations of $150, $150, $100, $200, and $22. I’m not sure which we were more thankful for… How about “all of the above”? I mention this example to let some of you know, it’s all appreciated – every dime that God has provided has been appreciated. Thank you, one and all.

Dan’s Story
     For the past few weeks I’ve been meeting with “Dan” (not his real name). Dan’s in the middle of what he believes may be a divorce – her resolve to pursue the divorce is uncertain. He admits a lot of his hand in the marriage breakdown and that his faith has been tested by all this. Talking to him, I got a very clear picture that his church experience has been a culture of “performance” where he’s done a lot of “Jesus stuff”, but never been actively discipled in experiencing Christ and walking closely with Him. He’s even been taught a few lies about marriage and never had a chance to confront and debunk them.

     As we’ve been talking, I can see thin, but heavy layers of hopelessness lifting off his shoulders. Talk of repentance, apology, and forgiveness surfaces when truth meets transparency. Only time and prayer will tell what the future holds for Dan. But, I’m honored to walk with him through this season of life, indeed the most challenging holiday season he’s ever faced.

     Many of the men and women we meet with are active supporters of Seasons of Life. But, for every one of them, there’s a Dan out there who can’t yet afford to support because of this kind of financial hardship. Your support “buys us” the time to meet with a guy like Dan. Thank you, from us and from Dan.

Why Now is Important
     Many non-profits, ministries, and churches rely on year end giving to catch up on support from earlier in the year and to prepare for a solid start for the year to come. In addition, the availability of over $3,000 in year end matching funds means your giving is doubled up to the $3,000 mark. Your $25 brings us $50, your $100 brings us $200, etc. These matching funds are only available for giving up to the end of December.  

5 Ways You Can Support:
   1) Pledge: Contact us to let us know if you’re planning to support and we’ll guide you through the process.
   2) Support online or by check (details below) at any level.
   3) Consider Seasons of Life in your 2013, 2014, and/or 2015 giving & let us know as the Lord leads.
   4) Invite your small group or coworkers to join in “liking” us on Facebook or following our blog or start a pool in your group or office to help push us over the top.
   5) Pray, pray, pray. That’s a gift we always appreciate.

To Support Online Using our Secure Online Giving Portal:
Monthly Support:

One Time Support:

To support by check, make your check payable to Seasons of Life Ministries and mail to:
Seasons of Life Ministries
2659 Freedom Parkway
Suite 285
Cumming, GA 30041

Thanks, as always!

in Christ,

AP

3 Ways to Avoid Awkward Holiday Conversations

Cue the Soft, Peaceful Music…
     I love the Christmas season. The deeper my walk with Christ, the more I appreciate the time when we celebrate His incarnation. Yes, I’m a foodie – all the foods, drinks, smells, and flavors of Thanksgiving and the weeks leading up to Christmas create vivid, IMAX moments in my memory of seasons past. The most powerful thought that comes to my mind each year is that Jesus came to earth to deal with the source of our troubles – sin and death.

Sour Notes
     Everyone around you has the same problems. Sin and death. Some just experience louder and longer versions of the same struggles. Some just have layers and layers of problems piled on them. But, essentially it all comes down to the problem of living in a broken, Genesis 3 world. We’ve trained our oldest daughter to recognize one of the simplest results of the Fall – hurt people hurt people. And, we’re all hurt people, but grace means we don’t have to let the cycle continue and we don’t have to be the source of someone else’s hurt.

Enter “The Awkward Conversation”
     What does the intersection of Thanksgiving/Christmas and “hurt people” mean to you? Sometimes, it means running into someone you haven’t seen in a long time and asking one of those “awkward” questions:

“So, Sandy, you and Rick getting married soon?” Rick just left Sandy for his executive assistant. Oops.
“Hey, great to see you! Where’s Margaret?” Margaret died of cancer three weeks ago. Tragic silence.

Rewriting the Script:
    Too close to home? Been there. Done that. So, what do I do, show up and not say anything? Well. That’s an option… But, the bible offers several practical disciplines that God commands us to practice before that awkward conversation that will make it ten times easier to handle the kinds of situations that only exist in a fallen broken world filled with fallen broken people. Actors don’t just “learn lines”, they prepare their character. Athletes don’t just work out, they practice their craft. Wise disciples of Christ engage the Master and His wisdom.

1. Show up “Clean”.
     For years, Men Step Up’s table leaders have carried a card around in their wallets that demands of them 5 things, one of which is “Show up clean and on time.” “Clean” to these guys and to anyone as a disciple of Christ who disciples others, means asking themselves and the Lord this one question: “Lord, is there any unconfessed sin in my life?” David wrote “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139.22-24)” Jesus would later teach in the Beattitudes: “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

     Bottom line – sin clouds our vision and numbs us to not only the voice of the Holy Spirit, but the innate sensibilities God has impressed on our conscience and memory of Godly wisdom. This prevents us from paying attention to the fact that “Rick” isn’t in the room and Sandy looks a bit emotionally aloof or that Margaret, too, isn’t at the party and we recall her name showing up in a prayer chain email a few months back. What if we prayed those lines from Psalm 139 on the way to ever function and begged God to “create in [us] a clean heart?”

2. Stay Clean. 
     For personal reasons, Cristine and I have eliminated alcohol from our diet as of about two years ago. But, have you ever noticed that some of the most careless things can come out of our mouths after only one glass of wine or one snobby, locally-micro-brewed IPA? Scripture is replete with commands to “be alert”, “be sober minded”, “consider others better than yourselves”. When we’re not at peak performance, around tons of people (each of which bring their own “holiday” baggage to the room, not to mention our own), how can we possibly be as alert, sober minded, and attentive to the needs of others when we’re even mildly impaired? I could focus on the word “mildly”, but it’s used here to describe the word “impaired“. Are you with me?

     So, as a rule, I used to show up with a “two drink maximum”. But, since we are all easily blinded by the wiles of our own indiscretions, what would it look like if you took the number of drinks you consider “conservative” and cut it in half or quarter?

3. Got Dirty? Get Clean Fast.
     The most astounding prayer Jesus ever prayed was hanging on the cross while insults were being hurled at Him: “forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” For you and I to get great at praying (and really meaning) that prayer is a major chunk of walking the Christian walk. Family times often bring awkward tensions brought about by unconfessed or unforgiven sins. Work parties can so easily turn into contests of who can suppress the urge to tell someone what they’ve wanted to say about unfair conditions the longest. But, forgiveness is the only true solution.
     John Woodall once asked me “are you aware of your subtle methods of seeking revenge?” That question stuck with me like a drop of gas fallen from the pump onto my shoe. Impossible to shake the smell, right? It’s true – you and I all share in Cain’s folly… “I’ll show you!” The regular practice of confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation ought to flow from the believer with force.
     “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Have a great Thanksgiving and a Christmas season marked by incredible “un-awkwardness”.

in Christ,

AP

Breaking with Breaking Dawn – Should Christians Watch This Stuff?

     First off, I’m not here to judge you. I’m sincerely asking these questions for selfish reasons: for my own personal understanding and a better handle on why people do what they do. If you’re a disciple of Christ – a follower, a raving fan – then here’s what I want to know… 
     Why are you and I here? I already know what I believe. What do you believe?

     I believe you and I are here to let our names shrivel while magnifying the name of Christ. That means everything you and I do should point to Him. How we work, how we treat each other, spend our money, care for the less fortunate, treat the more fortunate, make our choices – in our strength & wisdom vs. by God’s Spirit and power… If the bible is true, all that we do should point to God.

     I struggle with this sometimes.

     Sometimes, I’m so busy building my kingdom that I let people who cut me off in traffic set me down a path of anger. Sometimes, I’m so busy working my agenda that when God asks me to do something, my mind is to cluttered with worldly noise, I don’t hear His voice. Sometimes, I raise my voice at my kids and treat my wife harshly because they don’t meet my needs or submit to my leadership.


     So, I get disobedience. But, planned and habitual disobedience? Ever read the story of King David and Bathsheba? Judas Iscariot? Recent resignation of General David Petraeus’ because of an extramarital affair?

    That’s why I don’t get Twilight. That’s why I don’t get Harry Potter. That’s why I don’t get Walking Dead. Everything we do reflects our hearts. Everything we do tells what we “stand” for. But, the “this”  we stand for – Nike, the Bulldogs, Pro-Life, Coke, etc. stands for something. And, every day, the things we spend our money, time, and effort on point to where our heart and our worship is. No, I’m not saying that we worship salad because we purchase one every day for lunch. I get that. But, there are things that seem “neutral”, things that are clearly good, and things that are obviously wicked.


     So, I don’t get why you’re so excited about the latest Harry Potter book, the latest episode of a TV show about the undead, and the latest movie about a vampire lusting after a young girl who lusts after him… How do these things celebrate Jesus? How do these things magnify the name of God? How can I sit in a movie theater, investing in a company that produces and promotes unholiness, lust, a culture of death, and other things my Savior clearly warned against and openly condemns, if I stand for the name of Christ?

     Yep, here’s the part where I whip out chapter and verse…
     One day, I’m going to come before the throne of Christ and give an account for my life. He’s going to present me to the Father. He’s great and He’s promised me He’d reward me eternally for everything good I’ve done here on earth, but that I’d experience loss for everything I did that was sinful, pointed away from Him, or was done in my own effort, solely for my own earthly reward. (See 2 Cor. 5.10 and Rev. Chapters 2&3) 

      With that in mind, how will I defend my choices to spend money, time, effort, and social media bandwidth on movies that “stand for” the kingdom of darkness and the culture of death and lust?

     We’ve been called to be “separate”, “holy”, “imitators of Christ”. How do we reconcile that against watching movies about vampires, demons, undead, death, lust, etc.? When Paul tells us:

whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” 

or David says:

“I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; 
they will not cling to me”, 

how do we handle these truths in one hand and Hogwort’s School or “Drive like a Cullen” in the other?

     I can’t figure this one out, gang – reading 759 pages is a premeditated act. It’s not the same as blurting our a 4 letter word upon stubbing one’s toe. No sin is worse than another under the blood of Christ, but when it comes to eternal reward… What do you think? Standing in line for hours with worshipful anticipation of a 2 hour movie, then sitting through the movie and telling everyone how great it was, while spending zero hours that same week (even month) telling people how great it is that while you were dead in your sin, Christ died for you and them… It’s not the same as cutting someone off on the I-285 on ramp.  

     How does that wash? How does this stuff pass as “witness”? Separateness? Holiness? Noble & pure? …crickets…

     Should Christians watch this stuff?  How would you feel if Christ returned while you were digging popcorn dust out of the bottom of the bucket halfway through Breaking Dawn? How much eternal reward will we receive for this willful, premeditated disobedience?

AP

Year End Support Update – 2012

Short and Sweet:
     Straight to the point, here’s where we’re at. Ahead of years past, but still playing “catch up”, a little bit “short”, but so little it’s “sweet”. Praise God.

The Not-So-Hard, but Fast Numbers:
     $850 in support needed by tomorrow (11.16.2012) in pledges or actual receipts with about $250 in matching funds available for that period. Praise God. To finish the year even, all that’s left to raise is about $11,700, with about $3,500 in matching funds available to reach that milestone.

     Yesterday, we received donations of $100, $200, and $22. I’m not sure which we were more thankful for… How about “all of the above”? I mention this example to let some of you know, it’s all appreciated – every dime that God has provided has been appreciated.

     Don’t make the mistake I did a few years ago when a friend of mine told me his ministry had s $40,000 shortfall in October – I didn’t give anything because I thought “I can’t make a difference in that big a deficit.” I missed out on helping him. Don’t be fooled like I was. Mike would have appreciated my $22 as much as we appreciated this week’s $22.

Here’s how you can jump in:
   1) Pledge: Contact us to let us know if you’re planning to support.
   2) Support online or by check (details below) at any level.
   3) Consider Seasons of Life in your 2013, 2014, and/or 2015 giving & let us know as the Lord leads.
   4) Invite your small group or coworkers to join in “liking” us on Facebook or following our blog or start a pool in your group or office to help push us over the top.
   5) Pray, pray, pray. That’s a gift we always appreciate.

To Support Online Using our Secure Online Giving Portal:
Monthly Support:

One Time Support:

To support by check, make your check payable to Seasons of Life Ministries and mail to:
Seasons of Life Ministries
2659 Freedom Parkway
Suite 285
Cumming, GA 30041

Thanks, as always!

in Christ,

AP