Monthly Archives: November 2012

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

Before and After the Altar – 5 Things You Should Know About Marriage

Two Ways to Stop Being So Judgmental

Two Ways to “Stop Being So Judgmental”
     “You’re so judgmental.”
 

     Stings, doesn’t it? Begs the question “How can I stop being so judgmental?”
     

     Short answer: curl up and die.
 

     Not helpful? Okay, I’ll give you the long answer. But, for context, I have to  go way above my pay grade and make a football analogy:

     Any pass has at least three parts: the ball, the throw and the receiver. Throw a perfectly good ball poorly and the receiver will need a miracle to catch it. But, even with a regulation ball and a great pass, there are three things that will result in an incomplete every time: wickedness, pride (mockery), or a wounded receiver.


Gimme the Ball!
     A friend asks for advice. A regulation football represents God’s wisdom. So, you throw it to them where they are. Should be a complete, right? Instead, they snap back at you and accuse you of being judgmental and “holier than thou”. For weeks, there’s enmity between you. You feel rejected. They’re offended. Yet, in your heart, you’re between a rock and a hard place because they asked for the ball and you delivered. What the dilly?!

Incomplete?!

What’s Their Problem That Was a Great Pass?!
     Wisdom invites two distinct responses: a “toward” response “growing wisdom” (complete) or an “away” response of insult/abuse/hate (incomplete). The toward response is born at the intersection of a healthy heart and the tendency of wisdom to add to itself. The away shows up at the intersection of unhealthy conditions of the heart and a natural tendency to protect that heart from further harm.   

Scripture tells us:

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult;
    whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;
    rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;
    teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. (Prov. 9.7-9)”

      Ultimately, how we react to wisdom is a symptom of our overall spiritual health: your doctor may run tests to tell what’s wrong with you, yes? If he gives you a plate of wisdom and you eat it, the proverb above tells us you’re healthy – you were just suffering from a slight case of ignorance in that particular area, but if you add this wisdom to your learning – you’re cured! Reject it though, our proverb says you’ve got a case of wickedness or mockeritis.

 The Truth
    We have to judge. We’re designed to judge. Our brain is constantly comparing and contrasting things and making conclusions that could easily be classified as “judgments”. If you or I saw someone about to fall into an open manhole, we’d warn them, right? But, if we’re a Christian following the above logic, we’d be considered “judgmental”.  If we lied down on the warm pavement of a busy street, we could easily be classified as “having poor judgment”.

     Jesus’s teaching on the plank and the speck of sawdust (see Matthew 7) illustrates that we are not to pass final judgment (Greek: krino) on others, but to judge them or their behavior in light of our own faults and the fact that we, too will be judged. This implies a more compassionate confrontation than I or my friend may have in mind above. But, Jude 23 tells us we must “snatch” them from the fire – which may be abrupt and could be considered harsh if not explained.
 

Freedom
     Judging is necessary for survival. But in Christ, we are free to judge a behavior and free from having to condemn the “behaver” in the process (Greek: krino, brings a connotation of final judgment and condemnation). We are also called to love one another, abruptly pull someone in danger from their danger, and to consider others better than ourselves. Not everyone receives wisdom well. Thus, the only other way to win 100% of the time is to pass wisdom only to people who are “all-wisdom, all-the-time” instead of those who are wounded, wicked, or proud.


     Good luck with that.
 

     In a Genesis 3 world, we will never fully get this to work seamlessly. There are creases, folds, and tears in everyone’s life and even godly advice delivered with best intentions can set off a fire storm of resent. There is great news for those situations – Jesus died for the fire starter and the fire breather.  But, He also promises reward to for everything we have done in obedience for His name and by the Spirit. Suffer persecution, even from followers of Christ, and you will be rewarded as an overcomer. Perhaps not right now… but God promises a retirement plan that is out of this world.

In Christ,

AP

Why the Election Was Rigged from the Start

18 The wrath of GodE)’>(E) 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,G)’>(G)
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.I)’>(I) 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for imagesK)’>(K) in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.M)’>(M) and worshiped and served created thingsO)’>(O) Amen.Q)’>(Q) to shameful lusts.S)’>(S) 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.U)’>(U) to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,W)’>(W)

2 Cor. 11.2
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy…”

2 Tim. 3.1-5 

God must instruct and discipline us.

God has many roles, one is as a thief – where He takes away from us to discipline us. But, it’s unnecessary loss!!!

Stop Doing Your Quiet Time

Those Who Walked with God
     Eve walked in the garden with God. Do you get much closer than that? Moses entered the tabernacle, saw God’s shoulder blade, and caught a case of “incandescent face” because he was in the presence of God. Solomon was brutally honest and humble with God that above power and riches, he’d need wisdom to rule God’s people – and received all three for that purpose.

     All three had incredible responsibilities for God and all three have been recorded in scripture as having a few major failures on their performance reviews. Moses was denied entry into the promised land, Solomon led the nation of Israel astray, and Eve… Eve, Eve, Eve…

     I don’t know what you’re called to, how much responsibility you have, or how closely you’ve walked with God, but I doubt anyone reading this post has more on the line than any of those three. I doubt anyone reading this post has a more direct connection with God than them, unless they have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them… Ooops… You get the point…

Those Who Walk with God & “QTG”
     We not only have the Spirit of God in us, but we have the full, inerrant, inspired written revelation to go back and refer to, which none of the above had… So, what’s the problem? QTG… The biggest source of embarrassment when I sit down and talk with guys weekly is “Quiet Time Guilt” or QTG:

  • I haven’t been in the word as much as I would like to…
  • I’ve been kinda… busy… this week.
  • Well, I’m kind of all over the place in my reading… But, I wish…

     It’s as if they (by they, I mean we; and, by we, I also mean me…) have a painful, throbbing case of “Gotta do my quiet time again” that flares up every time they look in the mirror.

Stealing Our Excuses & The Bait and Switch
     Every time I read the stories of Eve, Moses, and Solomon, I get this sort of “righteous indignation” and almost shout at my Bible: “You had personal experiences with God that most people would kill for – What were you thinking?!?!” Eve got to walk with God, Moses was chosen to lead Israeal out of Egypt, Solomon was born into nobility and somewhere along the line, they took God for granted… What do you think they might say if they read my story, though? Me, a bought-and-paid-for follower of Christ filled with the Holy Spirit, given the full canon of scripture…

    The issue at the heart of QTG is that somewhere along the line our “get to” has gotten infected with “have to” and our guilt gland has gone into overdrive. Do we ever imagine Eve waking up in the morning thinking, “Oh, dread, have to walk through a beautiful garden today with the Sovereign of the Universe again…”? I know Moses had justifiable beef with the stiff necked people he was in charge of, but did he ever approach the tent of meeting and think “Sheesh… Gotta go talk to the Lord, again. What a drag.”? After all that Solomon wrote, can you ever picture him saying “Another boring revelation from the Creator of all that is seen and unseen.”?

Upping the Ante – Trading in the Guilt
     Make no mistake, there should be a sense of urgency – if Eve walked with God and failed miserably to defend direct revelation to Satan, Moses saw God’s glory and still disobeyed, and Solomon got wisdom, riches, and power from God but still married foreign wives, multiplied horses, and gold and wound up worshiping rival gods – who are you and I to think we’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell without constant contact with the Word of Truth?

     Look, it’s a war out there. There is a battle for our hearts and minds no different than the competition Solomon fell prey to when he took a thousand wrong turns with foreign women and their gods – we’d better be in the word, right?

Freedom from the Swelling

   Yet, we must not allow our guilt gland to be overrun by the lie that Quiet Time is another chore to be added to the list, another thing to be “done”. Today, we have the stories of these three and many others to remind us that they got to walk with God, they got to enjoy His presence, and we get to, too. Furthermore, knowing that it’s a battle, we can cling to the word out of a guiltless “have to” and a grateful “get to” as we would a life raft in choppy seas following the sinking of the Titanic. How much guilt does a soldier have when the siren blares and he and his platoon run off to the chopper, the tank, or the Hum-V and it comes time to grab his rifle? Is he “too busy” to throw it over his shoulder? No, it’s my rifle and I must, I get to, I will bring it with me!

   Find any refreshment there? Yeah, me, too.

   Pray, today, that the Helper, the para-kletos comes along side you and I and ups our urgency to get in and stay in the Word not out of guilt or obligation, but out of crucial battle-readiness and love for the Lord whose presence is in us. Thank Him for the scriptures – worshiping the God of the Word, not the Word of the God. Let’s stop DOING our quiet time and embracing our lifeline to the Savior with freedom and confidence.

Soli Deo Gloria

AP

4 Ways to Build a Strong Bridge Cheap and Fast

Ten Years Ago
     For about the past ten years, Cristine and I have been in discipleship ministry in some way or another. It wasn’t until about 7 years ago we began hearing God’s call to “full time” vocational ministry. Several wise friends of mine have taught us that “men and women who walk with Jesus walk with men and women who walk with Jesus”. It was 5 years ago this month that we heard God and the wise counsel around us say “you should do that full time”. So today, as then, we help followers of Christ bridge the gaps between “real life” situations and applied biblical truth.

Now…
     For the past 5 years, Seasons of Life Ministries has been a true “walk of faith” for me and my family. It’s a strange animal – you never know if you’re getting 100% of your paycheck or 20% of your paycheck. God has answered all of our prayers, sometimes with a “Yes”, other times with a “No”, still others with “Not Yet”. But, what He has given us, through the support of some amazing givers from $10,000 a year down to $20 a month is this: 100% of what He intended us to have. Wow.

     All that remains to land 2012 “on target” is about $14,500. That may seem like a large number, but I can tell you three things about that –

  1. That’s over 30% less than what God has raised for those two months over the last 5 years.
  2. This year, we’ve got roughly $5,000 in matching funds committed so far toward reaching that goal, so any giving done from this point forward counts double up to $5K.
  3. As in every year past: “many hands make light work”.

The “Brutal Facts of Reality
    Every month, we start out an average of $3,000 in the hole as a ministry. Call that a small gap or a canyon. You may be right. Call it foolish. You may be right. Call it “trusting God” you may be right. Bottom line, He has provided all He’s wanted for us for 59 months in a row, not for our glory, but for His. Over $250,000 has been raised over these 5 years – a lean $50K a year to run the entire operation. But, God has been faithful to His promises and built bridges of provision for this ministry.

Why Matching Funds are So Important
      Matching gifts have helped us achieve that. Matching funds make Seasons of Life a wise place to do giving beyond the tithe. It’s like building a bridge but having one side of the canyon come closer to what you’re building. When I know a dollar that I give to a local or foreign mission is going to be matched with another dollar for free, I don’t have to think long or hard about the return on investment – the match makes my giving go farther. How about you?

So, what can you do?

1. Get/Keep Your Toe In ’til You’re Ready for Deeper Waters
     Many of our supporters started giving something “small” and eventually increased. Others, started “small” and stayed there. If you wade in right now as a monthly supporter “cheaply”, your giving will count double for November and December because of the matching gift. This is a big deal for you, because you may only have $25 available for sacrificial giving this month – but it brings us $50 closer to meeting the urgent need at hand. (See links at the bottom if you care to do this through our secure online giving portal).

     Some of our supporters tithe a percentage to their own church and give proportionally to other ministries as well – have you considered Seasons of Life as a percentage for 2013? Now might be a great time to give it a try. What would it look like if you gave 10% to your home church, 1% to Samaritan’s Purse, 1% to foreign missionaries, and 1% to a local ministry like Seasons of Life?

2. Delegate Socially. (And, What Does That Mean?)
     General Contractors hire people who swing hammers, hang drywall, paint and finish so they don’t have to. Delegation. The most pivotal financial “shot in the arm” God gave this ministry in our first year was through a friend who invited her small group and neighbors over for dessert, to have Cristine and I share the story of how God called us to one on one discipleship ministry. That one friend delegated fundraising to her friends and in one afternoon, God breathed over $300 in regular monthly support and $1,200 in one-time help into Seasons of Life Ministries! Social delegation.

     With social media at your fingertips all you have to do to delegate fundraising to others is click “share”. Wow. Could it be more simple? Consider your small group, church, or family & friends:

  • Invite them to subscribe to our newsletter by texting 42828 to “SEASONS”, 
  • Send them a link to our blog (where you’re reading this now), or 
  • Encourage them to follow or “like” us on Facebook or Twitter
  • Invite one of us to share our story at your small group (we’ll even bring dessert!)

     Share any of the links above with people you know and you may turn out to be one of our cornerstone supporters without a dime out of your own pocket! (Or, just go ahead and send us a dime and call it a day? Who knows!)
    
Online Form – Constant Contact List Signup
3. Be a “Heavy Lifter” or Tell One About Us
     No “selling” required: If you have the capacity to give or know someone who does (which, you almost never know until you ask: “Hey, what ministries, churches, and non-profits do you support?”), forward them a link to this blog post and let them convince themselves.

4. Pray for Us
     Hey, prayer only costs time and energy and if you’re out of work, struggling to get by, or just fully committed on your current giving priorities, even you can lift up this ministry in prayer. Incidentally, if you’re in one of those first two categories, email us and we may have some help for you!

Bridge, Meet Sides; Rubber, Meet Road:
     Whatever your current or projected-year-end giving capacity is, we’d love your help as soon as you feel prompted and sure this is where the Lord wants you do give. Below are some links for immediate online giving. FYI – The only immediate needs for November are about $1,800 for expenses due by the 15th of the month. Can you help bridge the gap?
 

For getting your toe in the water:

For heavy lifters

For others – email or private message us on FB if you’re in a position to help in any other way at this time.

FINE PRINT: Seasons of Life Ministries is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization according to IRS tax codes and all gifts are tax deductible to that effect. [Year end giving must be postmarked by Dec. 31st, 2012 or done online by midnight of Dec. 31st 2012.]
To give offline, make your check payable to Seasons of Life Ministries and send it to us at:
     2659 Freedom Pkwy.
     Suite 285
     Cumming, GA 30041

Thanks, for reading, considering, giving, praying, and helping us to build bridges…

in Christ,

AP