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Pray for the Cheerleader and Fisherman

…”Put out into deep water, 
and let down the nets for a catch.” (Luke 5.4b)


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?

Sound Advice:
     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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. Timing: We’re not going to catch anything when the daytime sun is high because the fish are all hiding in darker places.
  4. 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)”

Prayer:
     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.

in Christ,

AP

The Number 1 Lie About Doing "MORE" for God

Painful Lies
    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
ending treadmill.

     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.

in Christ,

AP

Volunteers Needed: The "Why" and "What"?

     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?

The Backdrop:

     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.

    1. 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!
    2. 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…
    3. 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?

    In Christ,

    AP


    Volunteers Needed: The Nuts and Bolts of "How"? (Updated!)

    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.

    How To:
         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…

    1. 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.
    2. 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).
    3. Make a list: jot down the names of the people you’d like to recruit as walkers to help the cause.
    4. 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).

    5. 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.
    6. The important fields on the “donate” page…
    7. Make the connection: If they want to donate, simply send them to

      http://www.onethingathon.com/donate/

      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.

    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.

    in Christ,

    Aarron Pina