Monthly Archives: September 2013
Save the Date!
The “ONE TH1NG a THON” means greater impact for Seasons of Life!
Saturday, November 23rd, hundreds of men, women, and children will strap on their shoes, gird up their strollers, and get ready for the first annual “ONE TH1NG a THON” at Fowler Park in Cumming, GA.
They’ll be walking to support men’s discipleship through ONE TH1NG, father/son ministry through ONE TH1NG for Youth, adults with disabilities through the PIER foundation and Seasons of Life Ministries. Every one of these ministries has an impact on men, women, and children in your community. Seasons of Life strives to help believers in Christ build mature faith and impact those around them for Christ, thrive through challenging seasons like divorce, loss, and addiction, and come out abiding in Christ like a champ.
The Need and Your Role
Every one of these ministries needs funding to survive and add to their impact.
The One Thing a Thon will give hundreds of people to make their mark on these ministries in three different ways. This week, we’ll have updated links for an online site that will allow you to participate in any of the following ways:
- Donate: we’ll have a secure, online giving system that will allow you, your business, your family, or even your small group to donate online. Sponsor a runner for a specified overall donation, or a per-mile amount.
- Run: you can add to the impact by signing up as a runner, and inviting others to sponsor you through online giving
- Lead: you’ll be able to sign up as a team captain for your own team, for example “My Seasons of Life Walkers”, and sign up other runners who sign up donors.
Aarron Pina has personally committed to walk 10 miles between 7AM and noon for his walk and invites you to sponsor him, join him, or bring others along to do the same. (Nothing like keeping your body healthy while helping others in their spirit, right?) If you’d like to help in any of these three ways, email him at aarron at seasonsoflifeministries dot org, or inbox us at our Facebook page and he’ll get you a link as soon as it’s live this week!
Thanks, for your support!!!
How often do we commit to read the Bible from cover to cover only to get bogged down and disinterested around Leviticus? Dennis Mock helped me get over that a few years ago as we unpacked Leviticus as a book all about one word: “holiness”. Today, with a greater appreciation for the rigors of ritual commanded and described in that book, I’m far more grateful for that book’s presence in the canon of scripture.
Then, we get to Numbers and the counting of tribes, more rules, and geneologies that used to make me scratch my head and wonder like high school math class “are we ever going to use this stuff? I mean, what’s the use?”
Nice to hear from an Irish pastor who has some tips for us all that truly make the scripture come to life.
Thinking this morning on God & how big & great He is! He redeems the time. He loves us in our brokenness. He loves us when we are unlovable. He loves us when we hate ourselves. He loves us back to life. (I know this for a fact personally). And in response to that love- then & only then can we love Him back & truly love one another. He has shown me this great love & in response I give Him my life. I confess my yuck to Him. I ask for His forgiveness of sin in my depravity. He not only forgives me but takes the shame & condemnation. Along with forgiveness, He adds to it His power that allows me to walk in obedience to His Word. He keeps me humble. He holds me & sustains me. He renews me day by day. And yes… He even disciplines me because He loves me. He fills my heart so full of Him that I cannot help but praise Him & thank Him. Does that mean everything is perfect? Nope. Not even close. But is there light in the darkness & peace through the storms?
Ya’ll! God loves us, our spouses, our children & loved ones. Remember that He holds the world in the palm of His hand & still has every hair on our head numbered! So, my prayer today is that through faith in Christ, we would trust, love, grow in, serve & live for Jesus & also one another. (This is not that salvation comes through our works because we know it only comes through faith in Jesus’ blood & finished work on the Cross; His taking our sins upon Himself defeating death & reconciling us to the Father.) Then, as an overflow of that amazing grace God give us, we can be a place of refuge for our prodigals, the lonely, the orphans & the widows. May those who are far off receive what His Spirit who calls us unto Himself has been longing to give them all along: Everything He is!
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
What’s True Manhood All About?
Last week, a friend of mine kicked off a discussion for a group of men at ONE TH1NG, part of a series there on “biblical manhood”. That morning, only a few exits in either direction on GA 400 and at the same hour, a couple thousand men stepped into a new season of “Seven” at North Point Community Church and Brown’s Bridge Community Church. I half expected ONE TH1NG to be ghost town. Instead, the room was packed with 67 guys, riveted on the topic of manhood. In groups of 4 to 5, they processed out loud: “What does God have to say about manhood and is manhood as badly shipwrecked as it can be?”
Who’s the Man?
Cut to the chase, most men today operate out of poor definitions of manhood given by poor definers, generally speaking, such as: bad fathers, absentee dads, sitcom fathers, country music, rap music, you get the point… It’s hard, following popular examples, headlines, or even our own churches, to see where all the true men have gone.
Ron Dunn contends there are three “hoods” we can either move through or stay stuck in:
- “Malehood” – doesn’t take any effort: you’re either born with male genitalia or not.
- Boyhood – a season of life when a male is dependent and irresponsible. Often characterized by ungodly strategies such as lying, demanding, blaming, retreating, or relinquishing.
- Manhood – taking responsibility under God’s rule.
It’s Really That Bad
Bottom line, while men are born into malehood and boyhood, many walk into adulthood ruled by their malehood, or refuse to relinquish their boyhood, leaving millions of women either scratching their heads or taking over men’s roles because they’re fed up with the resulting void of leadership:
- 40% of children born last year were born out of wedlock. Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy and criminality.
- Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
- and on… and on…
- Children with Fathers who are involved are 40% less likely to repeat a grade in school.
- Children with Fathers who are involved are 70% less likely to drop out of school.
- Children with Fathers who are involved are more likely to get A’s in school.
- Children with Fathers who are involved are more likely to enjoy school and engage in extracurricular activities.
Fatherhood is only one example of manhood gone wrong… Listen to Albert Mohler from last week and you’ll hear how the “he-cession” is being followed by a “she-covery” and how manhood gone awry is impacting the culture at large. Or, maybe you already get the point.
Maybe you’re doing just fine. Maybe you’re living the dream, abiding like a champ… Until you compare yourself with your heroes. Today I got my weekly e-update from friends at Centurion Advisory Group. Great info on what’s going on with the Dow, Bernanke, etc. Today, they note the recent release of the purely Satanic game “Grand Theft Auto, V” produced sales of over $1B. Then went on to point out a few matters regarding manhood:
At age 20, Bill Gates founded Microsoft. At age 21, Thomas Edison created his first invention, and Steve Jobs co-founded Apple. At age 22, Samuel Colt patented the six-shooter, and at age 24, Johannes Kepler defended the Copernican theory, and described the structure of the solar system. At age 25, Orson Welles directed and starred in Citizen Kane, Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly the Atlantic solo, and Alexander the Great became King of Persia.At age 26, Albert Einstein published five major research papers in a German physics journal, Ben Franklin published the first edition of Poor Richard’s Almanac, and Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Italy.I’ve wondered if we haven’t emasculated a generation of young men, urging them toward a safe, risk free life, instead of encouraging them to use all their passion, energy, and idealism to solve the problems of the world. Too many, it seems, are content to live out their dreams of changing the world vicariously, through a video game, rather than charging the hill to make the world a better place.
|Mel Gibson, as Lt. Col. Harold Moore calling
in “broken arrow” on desperate men.
About a week ago, Rory woke up with so much on his heart and mind, he just wrote it down as fast as his fingers could type, added my email address, and hit “send”. What he wrote was exciting to hear – a breakthrough in his walk with Jesus. We talked about it some more and with a little editing, I’m honored to present his thoughts as this week’s Monday Morning Momentum Minute… (More like 5 minutes, if you read like me.)
I hope you’ll find it worth a read and equally worth a “share”.
You see, there is a reason Christ refers to God throughout scriptures as Abba…or father…not “buddy”, “the dude”, “big guy”, or even “brother”. Even though as a Christian you could argue if any one person who’s been on this planet could refer to God as a peer he could. But, He didn’t. In fact, read Phil. 2.6:
“although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped…”
Remember Jiminy Cricket? “Always let your conscience be your guide!” He was that one friend who didn’t give into peer pressure, didn’t look at you with rose colored glasses, and told you right from wrong. But, Jiminy was a cricket. His advice was worth taking, but surely it had a loophole in it if you were young enough, smart enough, and fast enough to outrun danger, right? Consultants give opinions, not laws of life and death, right?
So, the good news is – God is holy. The bad news is we’re not. Outside of Christ, we’re dirty, awful, objects of wrath. The better news is, that’s why God sent Jesus – not to give us good advice, be our buddy, take away all our troubles, and give us comfy chairs to sit in as the Titanic leaves port. Jesus died to save us from the worst problem ever – indwelling sin, which cannot stand in the presence of a holy god. Our trust in His sacrifice grants us not only saving grace, but sustaining grace – the power to live a godly life. (Titus 2:12) His grace is not just a fact, it’s the empowering force that helps us to do the impossible: live the Christian life in a Genesis 3 world.
Thanks, Rory, for listening to the voice of the Lord. Thank you, Jesus, for your amazing sacrifice. Thank you, Father, for your incredible justice and for sending Christ in the first place. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for empowering us to do all you designed us to do and become all you designed us to be so that we can bring you more glory.
The Short Version:
We can either live long in obedience and die in greatness, God’s way, or live in rebellion and die before our time.
When Will You Die?
Your guess is about as good as mine. But, in general, Paul gives us a guiding principle about our expiration date. One day in Antioch, Paul gives a brilliant telling of the gospel to a mixed crowd at a synagogue. While making a point about Christ’s divinity and perfection (how mortal men die and decay, but the immortal Christ did not), he mentions King David and makes a comment that tells a story on a different topic:
Paul had already set up this statement by reiterating God’s declaration that David would “do everything I want him to do (Acts 13:22)”. So, even though he’s making the point about Christ’s divine nature and perfect sacrifice, Paul makes it clear that God had a temporal purpose for David and David’s expiration date came only after that purpose was fulfilled.
Want to die well? Follow David’s example. No, don’t commit adultery and a murderous cover up for it – do everything God wants you to do and when you sin, repent.
Want to die early? Walk in disobedience to God, do your best to serve both God and money, and fail to repent when confronted on your sin. Without viewing it through this lens, it looks like God gave David great mercy in not striking him dead when he sinned with Bathsheba and had her husband killed in battle as a cover up. It also appears God had a “zero tolerance” policy with Ananias and Sapphira. But, as we read deeper into that conspiracy, we see two very different conditions of the heart in two entirely different people:
The Case for David:
David – full of godly sorrow, confesses his sin to God, leaving all excuses out of the picture:
“Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge. (Psalm 51:4)”
The Case Against Ananias
Yet, here we have Ananias, who sold a piece of real estate and then kept a portion of it for himself and his wife. Now, it’s not wrong to sell something and give some of the proceeds toward Kingdom work. That’s not the case that Peter makes when he confronts Ananias. Ananias and his wife had just seen Barnabas sell a piece of land and put the whole price before the apostles’ feet. Instead of following the example, Ananias and Sapphira were attempting to gain similar status and glory for the kingdom while also keeping some of the money for themselves.
Jesus once called Peter out as a rock star and a couple lines later called him Satanic. Jesus even predicted Peter’s denial of Christ only to later restore him. God gave Peter mercy because He knew his heart: repentant, just like David’s. Peter knew God’s mercy, personally… publicly. Perfect guy to confront a sinner like Ananias, right?
Knowing God’s mercy on himself, Peter could easily have sent Ananias home to repent and bring back the balance. True? True. But, Peter’s accusation of Ananias didn’t come from his own knowledge. No one knew of the Ananias deception but Ananias and his wife. Peter’s accusation was based on discernment of the Holy Spirit, Who also knew sending Ananias home would have proven fruitless. It wasn’t Peter who killed Ananias – it was Ananias’ stubborn, greedy, rebellious heart and his wife’s complicity in the crime to gain recognition in the church while serving their own needs in the process.
Cause of Death?
For Ananias, the cause of death was knowing the truth about his duplicitous condition. The text reads: “
And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last…” In the Greek, “heard” is used in an active form, carrying the meaning that Ananias didn’t just fall dead when the words went through his ears, rather when they were processed by his mind (understood) and subsequently went through his heart, which was hard and bent on its own mission.
Turning the heart against the call of God will not go unnoticed. It will also not go unpunished. If we desire to live the longest life God has for us, we must stay true to His course for our life and return to it when we go astray. God may not have in His perfect plan for us a life as long as David’s, but He will cut us short of even that if we harden our hearts against His kingdom and set our hearts on serving ourselves behind a veil of religious activity.
The Chuck Norris Factor
One of my favorite Chuck Norris jokes is – “If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can’t see Chuck Norris, you may be seconds from death.” How can I be encouraged by that?
Well, if you’re repentant, you can be encouraged to know that if there is breath in your body you are being given another moment to repent for anything you’ve done wrong and another chance to fulfill all God has planned for you. If you fear you may not be repentant, you may actually be suffering from Godly sorrow and are being given another moment to repent for anything you’ve done wrong and another chance to fulfill all God has planned for you.
If you read this and think “that’s a load of crap“… Beware. You may be in the kind of denial that leads to Ananias’ door. But, know that every one of us is tempted. Every one of us sins. Every one of us put Jesus on the cross. Every one of us seeks some form of greatness – our own greatness or greatness for God’s name and kingdom. We can’t have it both ways. Choose today whom you will serve!
Sanctification vs. hyperpersonalization of the Gospel.
Jesus died for you. Get over it.
Does that seem offensive or strange?
Can I have a moment of your time to explain what I mean?
I pray that I never get over the fact that God, who is holy and good, sent Christ to suffer and die on the cross for my sin while I was His enemy. So, I’m not saying any of us needs to get over that fact at all. However, I suffer from a disease from which God is progressively curing all of the saved: ego. Because I’m here inside this earth suit of a body, I experience everything as, you guessed it… me. How about you?
In a Genesis 3 world, it’s natural, normal… familiar and easy to shift into “it’s all about me” mode… frequently. So, when I say “get over it”, I’m referring to the least important word in the sentence: you. You see, the disease “me-itis” (the swelling of a hyperactive self-importance gland), causes many of us to got over involved in what God is doing for us. This isn’t just limited to the disgusting prosperity gospel that promises far less than the true Gospel, but it also easily metastasizes when exposed to an over abundance of life application. When the gospel is constantly reduced to the how-to-apply-it, “what’s the take-away” can morph quickly into “what I can get out of this?” and progress to ”
Didn’t I just say “what’s the take-away” is dangerous? Only where the overinflated “me” gland touches it… Back to the point: if God is sanctifying us all – as individuals and corporately, then Paul’s mission statement in Philippians 3:10-11 (specifically in the Amplified version, below), tempered by a humble heart and well checked ego, becomes a manifesto for any blood-bought born-again believer in Christ:
Ninety percent of the problems we have are the result of a lie we’ve believed – about God, ourselves, others, etc. Problems can’t be properly solved outside of God’s order. He is a god of order. When we violate His order or refuse to walk in His structures and statutes, things get… more complicated…
As a result, many of us walk around unnecessarily feeling a bit empty, unfulfilled, bored, or even bitter. The reason behind these ridiculous and annoying feelings is one word:
What You and Satan Have in Common
God has called every one of us to a purpose so high that if we understood the enormity of it, we might shrink back in terror. We might also scoff at it as “too simple”. But, if we look at the history of the Great War going on around us through proper perspective, we might instead be inspired, refocused, realigned with our proper place on the battlefield. The short version of it is this: you were designed to do what Satan failed to do.
A Look at the Battle
Ron Dunn was kind enough to share with me his summary of God’s great moves and Satan’s weak, sleazy counter moves for some clearer perspective on the story already in progress (it’s a long list, but don’t be intimidated – crank up the theme to “Rocky” and read it out loud if it won’t get you kicked out of your office):
- God created angels to bring Him glory
- Lucifer reacted in rebellion, jealousy, pride and selfishness and took 1/3 with him.
- God countered his rebellion by creating man a little lower than the angels to show what great things can happen when His creation serves Him.
- Satan countered that move with 6 great lies and tempted Adam and Eve to disobey
- God countered that move by providing redemption and a way that man could restore relationship with God
- Satan countered that move by enticing Cain to kill Abel and cut off the Godly line
- God countered that move with the birth of Seth and man once again called in the name of the Lord
- Satan countered that move be enticing Nimrod who founded the Babylonians and Assyrians and built the tower of Babel establishing religion that replaces the worship of God.
- God countered that move by going to an heir of the Chaldeans and a man named Abraham who he called out to establish a nation that would worship the one true God.
- Satan countered that move by trapping them under slavery in Egypt.
- God countered that move by rising up Moses with a message from I AM to Pharaoh to “let My people go” and the entire world acknowledged the God of Israel as the true God.
- Entire OT is move counter move…sometimes not clear who is winning
- 400 years of silence between OT and NT then Matthew 1…the lineage is reviewed and Jesus is born to save His people from their sins.
- Satan counters by tempting
- Jesus counters with God’s Word
- Satan countered that with a crush move by enticing the local powers to crucify Him
- God countered that with the Big Move… the Resurrection. Life conquered death for us and the victory parade took place.
- That is our deciding move! No matter what is happening we must line up with and tie into that move.
- Satan is a defeated foe…but isn’t giving up.
- Until Christ returns He is active with schemes of deception
- God counters that by providing a Helper and Armor
Back to You and Satan
So, God created the angels to bring Him glory and Satan (Lucifer) as the Son of the Morning Star, to lead the angels in the greatest purpose: to worship God. How could there be any higher calling? In heaven right now around the throne are three angelic beasts swirling around the throne crying “Holy is the Lord, Holy is the Lord, Holy is the Lord”. Again, could there be ANY higher calling? Yet, when Satan was cast out of heaven, God’s counter move was to reach down into the dirt, blow air into the dust of the earth, and create a replacement worship leader out of mud. Do you get it? That’s you and me… We’re God’s “in your face” reply to Satan’s rebellion!
Five Take Aways
Satan – the original, fallen Rockstar – designed and commissioned to lead the angels in worship. You and I – the replacement worship leaders: the mud people brought to life by the breath of God and redeemed from sin by His own blood. If you were Satan and you heard the replacement band rehearsing next door for the ultimate worship party, wouldn’t you do all in your power to distract them? Cut their power off? Play louder to get them off tempo?
If you were that band and you knew that God did nothing to redeem Satan, but gave everything to redeem you as his replacement – would you sit idly by and allow Satan to distract you from your true calling?
Stay on track: Jesus warns that the “worries, riches and pleasures of life” are the very things that keep us from growing in maturity and fulfilling our purpose.
Fight the good fight: worship despite the distractions. You and I, especially here in contemporary American Christianity are being actively sold a bill of goods that allows us to believe it’s okay to be self absorbed with our own wounds, problems, offenses, that we miss the Big Purpose. Worship.
Be alert, be on your guard: There are many false prophets preaching in large pulpits to global audiences – that are selling Christianity as the answer to your problems, the deliverance from addictions, the “Best Life Now”, when all of such false gospels deliver far… too… little.
Remember the bigger picture: Our problem is bigger than addiction, discomfort, unemployment, the Falcons losing – it’s sin. Our position is worship. Our enemy is bitter and bent on distraction – to steal, kill, and destroy. What do you expect from a rejected mega-star?
Worship better than a rock star: We’re here to outworship Satan. Satan refused to worship God. Often, we worship smaller gods – football, career, status, personal disappointments, bitterness, etc. If we’re coming unglued about a football game and barely lifting our voice in church, we’re horribly distracted from our purpose. So, yes, musical worship is important. But, pride was the chief sin of Satan – being self absorbed in any way is a distraction. If we are to “do everything as unto the Lord” (Col. 3:23) then everything becomes worship. Work is worship, raising kids, caring for the sick, sharing the gospel, suffering persecution, standing in line for hours without being bitter… You and I are here to take the place of the one who failed to do his job – let’s be the best replacements ever.
Summer is often one of the most challenging seasons for churches, ministries, and other non-profit organizations. August has been historically one of our “driest” months. This August was no different. Despite that, we’ve had 9 new contacts this month seeking one on one discipleship. High demand, low supply. Yet, we know God is still in control and has not brought us to the desert to die of thirst.
Facing Today, Looking Toward Year End
For the first year since our official inception in 2007, we’ve seen at least 4 months of the year fully funded. Normally, we’ll run closer to half that. Praise God, right? However, our immediate need (remaining need from August plus September need) is $5,125. Coming up, we have an amazing fundraising event/opportunity that almost literally fell into our lap. We’ll have more detail on that in the next two weeks, but if you can walk, run, roll or donate, you’ll want to keep the morning of Saturday, October 26th open on your calendar.
Today, I want you to know about two needs – the immediate and the overall. It has never been more crucial that I extend a giving opportunity. By year end, we’re only facing about a $28,000 need. Normally, year end need around September is much higher. But, with this low level of need and the upcoming event in October, coming up even is a very clear possibility. Please, begin to pray for and consider Seasons of Life Ministries as you think about your year end giving.
The second need is this: that immediate September need mentioned above. A good chunk of that will be required for salaries and related fees – meaning, our personal rent/power/water is at stake. We know after many attempts to do otherwise, that God has called us to focus our full time attention on discipleship and all things Seasons of Life. So, we call on you to consider this, our livelihood, in your immediate giving.