Monthly Archives: November 2013
Watch Your Own Film Lately?
There are some great communicators out there in the world. Last month, I had opportunity to communicate truth through a 90 minute one man show. While I don’t think it put me in a class among those men, it did renew my appreciation for such men.
The amount of time poured into the craft of communication cannot be understated, if one is to do it with excellence. Today, I’m watching video of my performance with a critical eye and a yellow pad of paper. World class communicators make it a habit to “watch the film” like elite athletes who seek to achieve peak performance.
Two Extremes and an Extremely Dangerous Center
There is great value in learning from mistakes and honing one’s craft. But, there is a tension in our culture between sharpening one’s communication skills on one end, foolishly “winging it” on the other end, and yet an even more dangerous spot in the middle where we become worshipers of our gift of communication instead of relying on the Giver of all gifts (often referred to as “the liability of ability”). This happens when we cross the line of developing our skills and believing our own press…
But, there is a reason why Paul makes it a point to explain that he didn’t use flowery language, etc., isn’t there? There is a reason why so many were astonished at Peter and John, though they weren’t “educated men” (Acts 3 & Acts 4), isn’t there? Was it because they dumbed down the gospel? Was it because they had graduated from the Tony Robbins school of Communication on the Cutting Edge of Relevant Leadership?
Who Does the Attracting?
In His letter to Titus, Paul gets to the bullet points of preaching and teaching and makes it clear how to make the gospel as appealing as possible. Paul never advocates for being intentionally foolish and simply blurting out nonsense. But, Jesus hints that it’s not our words that draw people to God, rather the God of the word who does so. (See John 6:43) Further, here are a few points Paul also does not make:
- Make the music in your worship service as appealing as all other contemporary artists so that converts to Christianity will not be repelled by it.
- Manipulate crowds of people by emotional altar calls designed to answer temporal needs (freedom from addiction, restored marriages, financial prosperity) rather than clearly addressing their greatest need: a Savior and Lord, who delivers them from depravity and eternal damnation.
- Stay away from words like “sin” and “judgment” that are unappealing or even offensive to a culture steeped in the gospel of self esteem.
The gospel is about grace, not performance. But, the overflow of a life surrendered to Gospel is… wait for it… godliness… God initiated, God directed, God glorifying and God pleasing performance. (Not to be confused with man made behavior modification or putting on airs of “fake it till you make it”.)
The common thread here is this: don’t rely on your slick communication, some grandiose new, “relevant” presentation of the truth, or softening, denial, or watering down of the truth to make the teaching of the gospel more appealing to the lost. Instead, abide in Christ and God’s agape love so tightly that the natural overflow of your life is godliness – this is the outward manifestation of a changed, exchanged life which God Himself uses to attract others to the Savior. Performance is the result of grace, not the other way around. And, it is this performance that God uses to attract the lost and dying.
Meditate today on these:
“Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. (Titus 2:9-10)”
“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Cor. 1:21-25)”
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them… (John 6:43a)”
|Aarron Pina plays Dan Matthewson and 12 other
characters in the recent “That Day” production.
Seeing the Results
I love immediate feedback, don’t you? Do something, see the results. Measure the results, adjust for next time. Isn’t it great?
But, how do you feel when you can’t see the immediate payoff of your efforts? Me, too.
“That Day” is a one man show based on Tim Stevenson’s “The Bema: a Story About the Judgment Seat of Christ”, in which I get to play “Dan Matthewson” (also a pretty results oriented guy, btw), and over a dozen different characters who tell the story of a Dan’s story. It’s a wild, amazing jaw dropper as he gets to see the payoff of his efforts: eternal rewards at the judgment seat of Christ according to 2 Cor. 5:10.
Our latest presentation of this 2 hour look behind the curtains of heaven was live at Woodstock First Baptist Church’s “Warehouse”. Seating was set for about 80 people, but we wound up with an audience of over 100! It was received with rave reviews – there was laughter (more than we expected – hooray!), tears, and as we expected, a little elbowing between people as they witnessed the truths of the bible played out in a highly entertaining, thought provoking, and challenging parable.
|Dan Matthewson shares his regrets as he sees what
could have been his eternal rewards.
Delayed Gratification, but On Target Feedback
Ironically, we’re still waiting from some feedback from our cameraman who filmed the show, but we did get some still photos, which you see here in this post. As the video becomes available, we’ll post anything of high enough quality on our YouTube channel, to pass on a bit of the event’s flavor. However, our online feedback forms gave us a clear picture of the theological impact of the story:
- Most people, though they know the day is coming, have never really considered very seriously or frequently a) what the bema seat judgment will be like and b) how our abiding in Christ today impacts the eternal rewards we receive then.
- Everyone was encouraged by the fact that Christ longs to reward us for the things we do here in His power, for His kingdom, in His timing, and for His reasons.
- But, my favorite common feedback point is this: “I’m now far more mindful of how I treat the people around me and in seeking opportunities to follow God’s lead.”
Bam! Bullseye on that last one. That’s what we were hoping to hear. Glory to God.
|Kevin Swan nails an opening rendition of U2’s
“Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
Husband and wife team Ryan and Crystal Casey got together with ex-boy band member Kevin Swan to add great musical punctuation to the performance. We’re thrilled with how the night went and are grateful to Echo Ministries for inviting us to put the production on.
Special thanks, also, to Jacob Burton for his invaluable assistance as Aarron’s production assistant throughout the rehearsal process, and to Jeff Johnson and Sunny Williams for giving us use of rehearsal space at Brown’s Bridge Community Church and North Point Community Church.
For information on how to bring a production of “That Day” to a church, retreat, or organization near you, sent email to email@example.com or visit us at www.thatday.info!
My Mea Culpa
This year, I’ve had great opportunity to talk with men, reason through the scriptures, and pray about the difference between fault and responsibility. In hindsight, I’ve failed to communicate in many areas the great things happening at Seasons of Life. Please forgive me. It’s both my fault and my responsibility.
When you talk to people regularly about personal issues, sensitive matters, and their walk with Christ, you experience a tension between sharing what God is up to with the ministry (BIG NEWS! I can’t tell you about it, though…) and maintaining full confidentiality, therefore cultivating trust. Many of the men I’m locking arms with this season are experiencing breakthroughs in their faith, marriages, and careers. But, I must respect their privacy as I report from the field.
Some are experiencing new seasons – a season away from their children because of divorce, a season of their children being away from them while at school, a season of focus on a marriage after taking it for granted, reconciliation and rebuilding of trust after a fight, a loss, a betrayal, overcoming an addiction… etc. Today, I even got to have a great conversation with a guy about walking with God through the challenges of toxic relationships, maintaining godly standards, and boundaries in the home. God was honored and we both walked away sharper!
These are the vagueries that are “okay” to share publicly because they don’t break confidentiality. But, I want you to know – I get to hear some raw stuff from time to time… And, by God’s grace, I get to point these men back to scripture and watch them recalibrate when they see where they were out of alignment. Other times, it’s just about the basic blocking and tackling of the Christian life. Falling deeper in love with the Word of God and knowing more intimately the God of the Word. Life transformation is happening.
I also get to share some raw stuff about my own failures from time to time… And, I get to cheer them on when God brings a job their way after 18 months of unemployment… a godly relationship after years of “sorting through counterfeits”… Six weeks of deep and devoted regular quiet time… And, through it all, we’ve been able to trace God’s Providential hand at the helm and His grace sustaining it all.
The Way Forward
As Cristine and I step into our 7th year of public ministry, we’re seeing her schedule pick up again, potential dates for “That Day” performances on the horizon, and the continued vision of men, women, couples, and families abiding in Christ, surrendered to their Savior, and serving His kingdom daily. We continue to thank God for the work, the people He entrusts to our care, and the calling He’s placed on our lives. One thing is for sure: no matter what the years ahead have in store, He will continue to test our trust in Him just as much (or more) than those we urge to do the same.
For those of you who are praying for us and those who support this ministry financially, we want to thank you for all you do for the community you serve: the body of Christ and the Kingdom of God. Your prayers matter. You resources make it a reality.
We encourage you to engage with God’s work through us via our Facebook page, Twitter, and weekly on our blog. It is my prayer that after a year “deep in the trenches” with a select few, I am able to devote more time in 2014 to reconnecting with many of you I haven’t been able to make such time for.
If you find yourself in the “it’s been too long” category, email, text, or private message me… Or, go really old school and pick up the phone. I’ll do my best to have my 2014 calendar ready!
Executive Director, Seasons of Life Ministries, That Day, Speak Life, The Uprising
For six years now, Cristine and I have been following God’s lead in “realigning lives with the Way, the Truth, and the Life of Jesus Christ.” We have a passion for building relationships with people and with God and for seeing believers in Christ transformed by the power of God and walking in obedience to Him.
Most of that work has been through one on one discipleship. Some of it has involved bringing food and other material needs to working poor families across five metro-Atlanta towns, some of that work has involved public speaking and performing our one man show “That Day”, and often it involves doing the administrative and fundraising work that comes with the territory of full time vocational ministry.
I’m writing this Friday, 11.22.2013. Tomorrow is the first time I’ll actually step out of running Seasons of Life Ministries and step into running for Seasons of Life Ministries. About 200 other men, women, and children will descend on Fowler Park on Carolene Way to walk, run, or roll for four local charities, including Seasons of Life. It’s called the ONETHINGathon. And, I’ll be running 5 miles… in the rain. Praise GOD!
For us, ONETHINGathon represents three things:
- An chance for many to come together to raise awareness & support for this ministry.
- An opportunity for people around us to rally people who aren’t around us around the vision, mission, and future of this ministry, without necessarily burdening our existing supporters with additional giving requests. Teamwork will make the dreamwork.
- A chance to watch God raise the funds needed to bring the ministry current on this year’s bills and get ahead of schedule on other expenses well into the 2nd quarter of next year without another dime spent on fundraising! WOW!
Even more exciting, WSBTV Channel 2 has decided to do a story on 5 local events going on around Thanksgiving and the Christmas Season and the ONETHINGathon is one! The story will run around Christmas. So, keep your eyes on our Facebook page, Twitter feed, or here for details on when it runs!
- In person: We have plenty of volunteers already on the schedule, but will need more to help with the picnic, setup, and clean up. If you’d like to help in those areas, sign up at www.onethingathon.com to…DAY!
- Online: The most important thing about tomorrow is that people make the connection between the vision and mission of these 4 ministries and the financial need addressed tomorrow. The best way we’ve found to do that to share a five minute video with anyone and everyone you can that explains what the event is all about. It costs nothing to share the video, but a few seconds and a few clicks. So, I invite you to do this: share the video, invite people catch the vision, and if God leads you or them – support Seasons of Life or any of the other ministries online.
- In your shoes, NOTE: If you want to walk, run or roll with us, you’ll have to register as a walk on in person tomorrow as online registration is closed as of noon today.
Eat and Greet… And, GREAT!
There will be a picnic from 12 to 1PM at the pavilion at Fowler park – rain or shine, since it’s covered and mild (in the 60s by midday). Representatives from ONETH1NG for Men, ONETH1NG for Youth, PIER Foundation, and Seasons of Life Ministries will be in attendance. At 1PM, there will be a raffle that will include $50 gift certificates to Dick’s, Best Buy, dinner certificates to Cabernet, a flat screen TV and a Dale Murphy signed uniform.
We invite you to join us for any or all of the above, and wish you and your family a fantastic, safe, and grace filled Thanksgiving!
Sportman vs. Professional
If you fish for sport, you know your gear, the boat, the weather, and how to find the good spots and how to find a good spot when all the good spots are taken. If you fish for a living, you not only know where the good spots are, you also get there before anyone else does – it’s your livelihood, isn’t it?
What Jesus told Peter to do made no sense. It sounded “foolish”. A carpenter turned rabbi telling a fisherman what to do? Are you kidding? If anyone else had commanded him to do it, Peter would have rebuked them on four logical, well reasoned grounds. After all, he’s a trained professional.
- Availability: We’re not going to catch anything, because we’ve been out all night and have already caught nothing (which Peter reminds Jesus, anyway).
- Exhaustion: We’re not going to catch any fish because we’re exhausted – these aren’t butterfly nets we’re cleaning. They’re made from strong, heavy rope, made heavier by the weight of the water within them, and we’ve already labored all night to place them, pull them in, and clean them.
- Timing: We’re not going to catch anything when the daytime sun is high because the fish are all hiding in darker places.
- Location: We’re not going to catch anything in the deep waters because fish are caught where the water is just deep enough and not too deep.
Any logical, wise person would hear the counsel of this seasoned professional and intelligently decide not to ask him something so foolish. Yet, the Lord asks Peter to do something utterly counter-intuitive. Scarcity of fish, exhaustion, wrong timing, bad location.
Have you ever sensed the voice of God calling you to the wrong place, at the wrong time, when you’re discouraged and spent, and there’s no logical hope for accomplishing what He’s asking you to do?
Who am I?
I’m adventurous, with a moderate to high tolerance for risk. Right? I’m strong in my faith – after all, I’ve been called to “full time vocational ministry” for the past 6 years, right? I mean, I’m a trained professional, right?! I cheer on fisherman for a living! Uh, oh… You can see where we’re headed here, can’t you?
Yet, over the past month, I’ve heard God call me to cast my nets into the deep. When I look at my assets: high risk tolerance and previously held beliefs about the strength and depth of my faith, I’d normally say “sure, Lord. You say so, I’m in.” If it were someone else asking me what to do, I’d pull out my pom-poms and cheer them across the finish line: “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!!! Go, team, go!!!” But, this is different.
So, What’s the Problem?
But, this time… This time, I’ve heard God calling me to do something, trust Him with something so big, so dangerous, so counter-intuitive, that if He doesn’t swoop in with a miracle, dozens of people are going to be impacted negatively, including my family. This is deep water – not someone else’s life, calling, boat, or nets… Not only does my boat look too small, but my pom-poms feel like they’re 100 lbs a piece. When I realized the fisherman I’m to cheer on is me, God exposed the shallowness of my own faith when I, a mere man, began to weep and tell the sovereign of the universe: “I’m going to trust you in this, but you’d better come through!” Can you imagine such arrogance?
Yet, Peter wrestled with the soundness and depth of his own faith so much that when the Lord did what Peter expected could only fail, he was brought to his knees by his own lack of faith. “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man! (Luke 5:8)”
So, today, I ask your prayers – that I will trust God in the area He’s asking me to. That I will not rely on my own senses, wisdom, will, or nets, but on Him who calls me to the deep. That I will not be overwhelmed by the fear of men who would later say “why would you have done something so… foolish?” Today, I encourage you as always by allowing God’s faithfulness in my past afflictions and faults to overflow to you as a testament to what He might do in your current circumstance. But, this time, I’m doing it before the fact… With sweaty palms on heavy pom-poms.
Be encouraged: fisherman’s boat nearly sank with the catch… And, he later walked on water.
On October 26th, we staged our fourth local performance of a one man show called “That Day”, about a man who receives his rewards at the judgment seat of Christ as promised in 2 Cor. 5.10. As I listened to feedback from those who witnessed the performance and read through comment cards, I was struck by the number of times I heard people say “I realized tonight that I could be doing more for God.“
It was painful lie to hear.
|As “Dan Matthewson”, Aarron describes his experience
at the judgement seat of Christ in “That Day“.
They weren’t lying – they sincerely want to do more for God. It was only painful to hear because most people have been brainwashed into thinking one of their greatest problems is that they’re not doing enough (at least in American culture).
The lie is: “You’re not doing enough.” The truth is, God is not the God of “enough”. God’s will for us is that we do His will for us. It’s not about doing all of the tasks on our list – it’s about doing only the things that God has ordained for us to do. The truth is often that we’re doing too much – that we’ve heaped extra things on our plate out of guilt or fear (guilty, and guilty as charged), things that are good, but not the things assigned to us in a particular season.
What Do You Call an Underachiever?
Most people would refer to that person as “lazy”. And, they’re probably right. But, someone who consistently does less than what is required is in violation of God’s order and commands, specifically whem it comes to the first command given in the garden – “take dominion”, but also references such as Col. 3.23. Ultimately, God calls underachieving sin.
What Do You Call an Overachiever?
The painful truth is, God doesn’t discriminate when it comes to eternal rewards – “I desire obedience, not sacrifice”. When someone does more than what’s called for, it’s often labeled “overachiever” or “zealous”. But, can we be honest? All time is spent doing something. If we’re spending it doing something God hasn’t called us to do, we’re using time He set aside for us to do something else He ordained for us to do. What does God call an overachiever? Same thing he calls all who do iniquity: wicked, sinner.
In Their Defense
I understood what the commenters were saying – most of the people at “That Day” had a massive epiphany while watching the show: that God is watching us, recording our every deed, word, and private thought. Even better than that, He’s not doing so to shame us, punish us, or squash us for being lowly worms. He’s promised us rewards. So, their desire to do more of the things God was calling them to do naturally increased. Good for them and glory to God.
“Right” vs. More
|God wants us to “do the right thing”… all the time.
This is abiding… Not sprinting on a never
Ultimately, God desires us to walk in obedience, “by the Spirit”, in His ways, not to the left nor to the right, obeying all of His commands and statues, because they bring life. He wants us to “do the right thing”… all the time. This is abiding. This is total surrender, total obedience. Not sprinting on a never ending treadmill.
But, in a Genesis 3 world, we’re assured both that we’ll never do this perfectly and we’re not given license to stray from the path for “good reason”. There is no “good reason” for disobedience. It’s still disobedience. The litmus test for all of our actions is: “is this what God is calling me to do right now.” The pivotal matter is not that we do more, rather that we do more of the right things – not merely good things, but the things God has specifically ordained for us to do at this time.
May God teach us to use our time to do all He designed us to do, nothing more and othing less.
Every day, you’re faced with the decision to read, archive, or delete dozens to hundreds of emails. Today, I want to ask you to stick with this one for about four minutes. I’ve even got a special section for you if you’re out of town. Would you do that?
For six years now, Seasons of Life Ministries has answered God’s call to lock arms with Christ followers as they pursue deeper intimacy in Christ, primarily through one on one discipleship. If you’re unfamiliar with this ministry, the video below can give you some insight into what we do and why.
|For info, go to www.onethingathon.com.|
My wife, Cristine, and I have been meeting with men, women, and couples to lift up the word of God as our sole source of wisdom, help, and counsel for these past 6 years and beyond. Many of them have chosen to support the ministry financially – they have “skin in the game”. Others just can’t. Some of them are deeply tied to a small group, seeking professional couseling as their insurance allows, but deeply need more or different than these avenues can provide.
As a result, we’ve essentially given away thousands of hours of bible based counseling, and delivered tens of thousands in donated food to working poor families, provided Gospel hope, healing, encouragement, and even rebuke to meet their needs as God leads.
Where You Come In
To continue the work we know God has called us to do, I’m asking you to commit to participating in an upcoming fundraiser. It’s called the “One Thing-a-thon” and it’s a walkathon that will benefit four local ministries including Seasons of Life.
Three Ways To Join Us
The event will require a good number of volunteers and if you’d like to just help out with the picnic, follow this link to find out about it and you’ll have all the information you need. But, the greatest need we have is donors, walkers, and leaders. Read below for a brief idea of how this works. For a more detailed “how to”, you can follow a link to this article on all the nuts and bolts of being a high octane volunteer.
- Donate: If you’re already a donor/supporter of Seasons of Life, you may just want to share this video with your friends or coworkers and invite them to sponsor me either per mile or make a flat donation on behalf of Seasons of Life. Or, you might just volunteer at Fowler Park for the picnic that day. At www.onethingathon.com you’ll find the “Purpose and Goals” video explaining the event and its potential impact, as well as all the tools you need to volunteer, sign up, and even give online. This is a great way to help even if you live out of town or state!
- Walk: If you’re already a regular supporter of SOLM or just feeling frisky, I’d like to invite you to strap on your shoes and hit the road as a walker/runner/stroller on our behalf, OR…
- Lead: Some of you, however, are both gifted at leadership and have a heart for discipleship/Seasons of Life. I’d invite you to consider being a team leader, leading a team of other runners/walkers, and recruiting them to help support this ministry.
We’ve been advised this event could raise $30,000 for Seasons of Life – that’s about half our operating need for 2014. A day like that would literally “buy” me an average of ten hours a month to meet with more men, develop and deliver content for our blog and other social media, and prepare to deliver “That Day” presentations to several churches and organizations throughout 2014 and beyond.
Would you commit to looking over this material and letting me know how I can count on you this month?
You Like “Easy”, Don’t You?
For those of you who see the “One Thing a Thon” as the ideal opportunity for serving the Seasons of Life community (or any of the other three ministries involved), keeping it simple is key. (Updated:) Below are 6 simple “how to” steps. You don’t need to be a professional fundraiser or even highly athletic to make a huge impact, even if you won’t be in town the day of the event (see note below)!
Wise counsel has led us to believe this event could bring in $30,000 or more. Because of this, walkers and “team captains” are the area of greatest need for November 23rd. Hitting that number would bring us current on several professional expenses and deep into next year without having to spend another minute on fundraising. In other words, if this event is “successful”, we could spend nearly 100% of our time next year working in the ministry rather than on the ministry. Volunteers and individual donations are needed, but the number above demands a lot of feet at Fowler Park and hands sharing this video.
As a walker, even if you were to commit to walking a few miles and signed up 10 donors at $10 a mile, you would bring a few hundred dollars to the cause. If you’re a great organizer/networker/motivator (team captain) and all you did was share this specific post with three people you really believe in, you could captain a team “Team Jones”, for example, that brings in three or four times more than you could on your own.
Well, you’ve seen the “Purpose and Goals” video at www.onethingathon.com or on our YouTube page. Right? Here are 6 steps to help you move forward…
- Make a decision “how, how much, and how far?”: If you won’t be in town the day of the event, see the note below “What If I’m Not Available That Day?”. Then, decide if you’re going to walk, run, push a stroller, etc. and how far you you’ll go and how much you hope to raise. (Pray fervently about all of these.)
I’m planning to walk/run 5 miles, Kirby Wisler is roller-blading 5 miles for his cause, etc. From there, you’re on the honor system to complete what you say you’re going to do, so if your friends donate $5 per mile, make sure you go as far as you said you would to honor their donation. Fair enough? Excellent.
- Make it official: Register at “Event Registration” under your own name if you’re walking/running, etc. or enter your team name in “Name” at whatever level works for you (Gold, Silver, or Bronze, or Basic).
- Make a list: jot down the names of the people you’d like to recruit as walkers to help the cause.
- Make the introduction: share the video with them via email, text, Facebook, or other preferred media (really “old school” people might just invite a few friends over to watch the video at their home, right?).
“I’m supporting Seasons of Life Ministries in a walk-a-thon on November 23rd and I’d love to give you some brief info on it so you can decide how you can best help. Could you take a few minutes to watch this video that explains the event and the causes involved?”
(Here’s the link again for you to copy and paste: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjtPLjumhkw or send them to www.onethingathon.com).
- Make a request: Once they’ve seen the video, ask them if they see themselves as fellow walkers or if they’d just support you in your support of us and our mission.
Make the connection: If they want to donate, simply send them to
and they can make an online donation. Remind them to enter your name (or your “team”) name in the appropriate field and remember to tell them to choose “Seasons of Life Ministries” in the “*Give my donation to” menu. (See illustration.) They will then be taken to One Thing Ministries’ secure, online giving page.
|The important fields on the “donate” page…|
What If I’m Not Available That Day?
Rest assured, barring any catastrophes, I will be there, rain or shine, even if you can’t.
Simply invite them to donate on my behalf. You may be surprised how many people are still willing to support when they know provision has already been made for your absence. Remember – it’s not about the event, walking, or even running. The event is just a rally point for people to gather around in support of our mission and the cause of those we minister to.
What About Corporate Sponsors?
We are anticipating several hundred people at Fowler Park on the 23rd, so there is ample opportunity for corporate sponsorship including banners and other collateral. If you’d like information on that, please contact me directly via email, Facebook message, or phone.
On behalf of all those who we minister and all those who are praying for this ministry, its impact, and our family – thank you.