Tag Archives: discipleship

I Asked, You Answered, Our Thoughts

At the end of last year, I invited over 300 people to share with me what areas of life they’d like to see “under control” for 2017. That is to say, under God’s control moving forward… The response was quite revealing, candid, and telling. Below is the chart with your responses.

  • Top 4 drives for change: greater bible engagement, and control over inbox, worry, and overcommitment.

Our thoughts?

Well, if we get the first one right, the other three tend to fall into place. Vision drives it all and knowing God should be the center of our vision. If our focus time with God is on point and the other areas don’t fall into place, we’re a lot more at ease/at peace with the things that don’t fall into place, true?

We have suggestions and help for those seeking answers, accountability, and tools, but we’re holding them for those bold enough to say “I’m serious.” So, if you want to grow in those areas, reach out and we’ll develop a battle plan to go the distance with you.

in Christ,

AP & CP

Survey Chart_Graph

Update on 2016!!!

As a ministry, it appears we’ve turned a God-ordained corner in 2016. The year before, we were committed to walking away from Seasons of Life Ministries for a time. But, once we made that commitment, it appears God opened up new doors. So, we walked through them.

Newsletter boxes Vision_Newsletter Box That DayThat led to That Day performances in Alpharetta, Cumming, Manassas, VA, and a return to Alpharetta.

WHEW!

Cristine gave her first women’s conference talk for a retreat in Norfolk, VA. Aarron spent several months on a part time job a few days a week while here in Cumming, but also gave Clean Slate leader training to local leaders and earned his Evernote Certified Consultant designation! (For more on how he uses and optimizes Evernote, email him at aarron at zeroinbox.org.

app-store-logo_ios

Available for IOS and Android here.

Today, we have two That Day performances already on the books for January with a third in the works for March. With very little effort poured into publicizing our app (Stay in the Word), we’ve reached over 50 mobile devices and are taking a very low key approach to it so we can focus on keeping the main thing the main thing.

Lessons learned: when we take our hands off God’s work and let Him be God, our plans fail and His succeed wildly.

IMG_20161231_155254130 lbs. Lost and Three Words:

Over the past 2 years, Cristine and I have lost a combined total of 130 lbs. and are compiling video to create a series on how we did it. Ultimately, it comes down to stewardship of the body, obedience to God, and the three words that God consistently pops up on our radar: vision, strategy, and execution. Short version: God has radically transformed the way we look at food, our bodies, and stewardship.

While I have several blog post ideas in the works on each of these 3, my goal is to release them only as time permits, in order to keep the main thing the main thing: That Day, Clean Slate, and Discipleship/Coaching.

If you’ve ever wondered what this ministry is about, I’ve compiled a simple document that explains what we’re about in those three words. You can download it here: SOLM Ministry Model.

So, How Did It Go?

Year end giving is always surrounded by uncertainty – did we send out enough information, soon enough? too much information, too late? will regular supporters stay on?

This year, the books closed on 2016 with only a few thousand dollars “in the red” and some surprise gifts large and small coming in right down to the wire. If you were one of those year end supporters – THANK YOU.

Shifting Gears?

that-day-vision-logoAs it became clear the ministry work demanded all of me after my family and not after family and the part time job, I gave appropriate notice and we’re living back out on faith and faith alone so as to maximize my efforts toward the family and That Day, Clean Slate, and Coaching/Discipleship. After our first That Day Leader’s Lunch yielded great fruit, we discovered that God might make it distinctly possible to reach 10,000 people this year with the message of “living every day with eternity in mind.” Until He says differently, we’re joining Him in that pursuit!

If you see value in helping us to help others, please consider us in your regular monthly giving. We need about 5 more regular supporters to join us at $125-200 per month to keep us fully available where we are needed most: partnering with others to keep God’s main thing their main thing.

Click here to join us in that effort.

in Christ,

Aarron Pina

Who Cares About Giving Tuesday?

A few years back, it seemed the importance of Black Friday had eclipsed the importance of Christmas and Thanksgiving. People camping out at retail stores to buy “doorbuster” deals? Then, Cyber Monday came on the scene, giving us a chance to take down our pup tents mounted in the Best Buy parking lots and shop in our jammies online. But, was that a good thing?

giving-tuesday-box-08In 2012, the idea of “Giving Tuesday” was born. According to their website, last year over 700,000 people in 70 countries raised over $116,000,000 for charities, non-profits, and other NGO’s worldwide! Maybe the spirit of giving hasn’t been destroyed by the spirit of getting…

This November 29th, #GivingTuesday will see over a million people giving time, talent, and treasure to support the causes they’re most passionate about. This year, it’s quite likely that over a quarter billion dollars will be raised for worthy causes because of Giving Tuesday. At Seasons of Life Ministries, where we help churches, organizations, and marriages get obstacles out of the way of what God has designed them to do, and we only need to see God raise about $30,000 of that… Side note: it’ll take less than $3,000 of that to bring That Day to dozens of churches and organizations throughout the Southeast, exposing hundreds of non-believers to the gospel and refocusing thousands of believers on eternity in the most tangible way possible!

In the coming weeks, we’ll invite you to put your prayer knee pads on, your thinking caps on your heads, and consider giving to Seasons of Life Ministries to help us bring the message of “Why Does God Have Me Here? What Do I Do Next? and How Do I Do It?” or “Vision, Strategy, and Execution… God’s Way” to people all over the metro-Atlanta area and beyond.

Next Thursday will be our first “That Day Leader’s Lunch” where we give away lunch to a bunch of beleaguered pastors and ministry leaders, along with a preview performance of “That Day”. This event will give That Day some much needed exposure to influencers who can bring the message to their churches, organizations, and/or retreats, unleashing greater kingdom impact. If you know someone who ought to be there and deserves a free lunch, send them our video invite card.

If you’d like to jump start our Giving Tuesday matching fund, email us or give online today using either Paypal (to “giving@seasonsoflifeministries.org”) or clicking here to use our secure online giving platform.

How Can We Help Connect the Dots?

80-vs-forever-02I’m asking my youngest 3 kids – “what’s longer, 80 years or forever?” They’re 6, 6, and 7. But, they understand “forever” is a whole lot longer than 80 years. If we live for 80 years here, it’s still TEENY, TINY compared to forever, right?

Scripture teaches two big things about forever:

  1. By grace, through faith, we get to spend it with Jesus – salvation from our sins.
  2. In addition to forever with God, we’ll receive from God rewards commensurate with the works that flow from our salvation.

In other words, do good stuff in your TEENY, TINY 80 years, get good rewards that last forever.

 

Great leaders agree with Jesus – vision leads. When we begin our day, our week, our quarter, our game, our deal with eternity in mind, how we conduct that time, that game, that deal are dramatically different than when we’re only thinking about the now. How much more engaged are we when we realize how high the stakes of our obedience are? Vision – what could be and should be – impacts strategy and execution. It also raises engagement. Nothing at stake? Not paying attention. Eternal rewards in the balance? You have my undivided attention and engagement.

The history of Seasons of Life Ministries has been about helping people keep one eye on eternity and one eye on the now. Or, as some might put it, “eyes on Jesus, hands on the wheel, ready to turn at His command.” In the coming months, you’ll likely see some events popping up on our calendar – speaking engagements, performances of That Day, perhaps even a Clean Slate Workshop or webinar. Whatever form it takes, we want to stay laser focused on helping people stay on track in their walk with Christ, which involves connecting the dots between present obedience and eternal rewards.

If you know someone who’s struggling with the 3 O’s: “Overcommitment”, “Overwhelm”, “OVER IT!”, point them our way and we’ll see how we can help. Start by joining us at our next That Day performance at Holy Trinity Christian Church on Sunday morning, October 16th, 2016, at 10AM. By then, we’ll likely have a date on the calendar for “next steps” like Clean Slate, microgroups, or one on one coaching & discipleship.

One day, we’ll all come before Jesus to receive rewards for what we’ve done here (2 Cor. 5:10). When you come face to face with Christ for the first time, do you want to hear a mere “Welcome” or a hearty, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”?

What Happened, What’s Now, What’s Next?

confused-face1-300x198I’m Confused, What Happened?!

Here’s a quick ministry update for you. Many of you may be seeing what God’s up to with us this year and wondering why, considering what happened last fall.

Let me clear up the confusion:

In September, 2015, following a major case of tunnel vision on my part, both Cristine and I were buried in stress, so we called a round table together to ask some prayed-up outsiders their feedback on the tension we were experiencing.

They listened prayerfully and replied as lovingly and bluntly as we’d asked. Their conclusions were:

  • “You’ve been faithful with the calling God had given you.”
  • “You AND your wife are clearly exhausted.” and
  • “Now is the time for you to lay this ministry down and pursue a full time job to bring stability to our financial situation.”

I felt like Abraham being asked to lay his son, Isaac, on the altar as a sacrifice. With deep grief, I obeyed their counsel.

2016 Ministry Update – Hard Plowing, Good Fruit?

Last year, Seasons of Life Ministries celebrated 8 years as a public ministry. We faced some of the toughest work in many years: many marriages in great distress, conflicts within regarding short term application of the long term vision, and financial challenges that made us wonder if 2016 would see us walking away from this mission altogether.

In September, we sought outside counsel from an impartial roundtable of “prayed up” believers. Cristine and I presented the ministry’s predicament with all the brutal facts of its then current reality, including the painful 25-30% funding status. Their unanimous responses:

  1. You two are exhausted.
  2. You’ve been faithful with what you’ve been given.
  3. It’s time to bless your family with a steady paycheck.

So, we followed their counsel, sending out Aarron’s resume, interviewing, praying, listening, waiting on God to use someone or some company to bring clarity and peace. Instead, we received a job offer that created nothing but turmoil when it was discussed. We’re so smart it only took us two weeks to figure out it was not only not a God opportunity, it wasn’t even a good opportunity. In the midst of this, we got an invite to present That Day at a church here in Alpharetta. By November, we had presented the best performance yet of our best script yet to a sold out crowd of nearly 300!!! Amazing!

Following this, Aarron picked up some part time work at a local store a mere few minutes away from home and we moved forward as prayerfully and patiently as possible, discipling a limited book of clients, shifting most of them to virtual meetings, reaching out to a very small handful of couples still in distress, and waiting for God’s next move.

In the meantime, we’ve seen a handful of men and women that were in troubled marriages actually walk out the biblical advice we were able to cover with them and appear to be rebuilding their marriages God’s way. Others will still need a whole lot more prayer, because this kind of turnaround doesn’t happen overnight.

After a review of the books at year end, we discovered the numbers we’d given the September roundtable were way off… By year end, God had used dozens of people, families, etc. to fund this ministry to well over 80% of its need. Armed with that information, Aarron began reaching out to his network of contacts with a much clearer vision of what God may be doing with this ministry:

“leading men, women, and couples to overcome barriers to intimacy with Christ”; this time, with greater alignment between vision and strategy.

In a nutshell, we hope with God’s help, to:

  • engage the eyes and ears our broadest audiences with our shorter, “That Day” script;
  • translate those to hearts and minds with our Clean Slate (Gospel Driven Productivity Workshop);
  • encourage hands and feet through one on one discipleship and coaching from there.

Cool News!!!

To that end, we begin a pair of That Day performances on April 16th and 17th that will lead to a three week Clean Slate Workshop series at Greater Heights Baptist Church, here in Cumming. To join us at either, go to www.thatday.info.

We’ll need all available help to make this happen; so, if you feel like you’re particularly gifted with marketing, social media, or just good-old-fashioned prayer, we’d love to invite you to be part of our street team. To lend a heart, hand, or lips, send email to volunteer@seasonsoflifeministries.org. If your gift is giving, we’d like you to know the most challenging months for this ministry are typically May, June, August, and November. So, if you’re a strategic giver – join us anytime, but keep those specific times in mind and prayer. This month, I’d encourage you to pray God keeps us on track with all we have ahead and that He raises up 3 new regular monthly supporters at $50 and $100 each.

Keep our Stay in the Word community in prayer, as well. Though we haven’t been wildly promoting the app, we’re approaching 50-100 users between IOS and Android combined. If you don’t yet have the app, check out what the buzz is all about!

As always, thanks for your prayers, “shares”, and encouragement!

in Christ,

Aarron & Cristine Pina

Fairness in Action?

UnfairYou Made Me Do It!

At work, I meet with men and my wife and I meet with couples for “faith checkups”. We talk about their engagement with scripture, the God’s apparent working in their lives, and personal struggles. Sometimes, that involves encouragement. Sometimes, it calls for rebuke or correction. In the latter case, maybe a guy has said something to his wife, his kids, or someone else he shouldn’t have said, maybe at a volume level he shouldn’t have used. Jesus would call that “sin”.

In those conversations, I try to separate “reasons” from “excuses”. All our “dones” are done for a reason. However, no reason excuses us from our actions. One day, we’ll all stand before Jesus to account for what we’ve done and said (the “bema” seat judgment [see 2 Cor. 5:10]), and in receiving eternal rewards for the things we did and said, we cannot effectively invoke anyone else’s name to our defense but our own:

  • “You made me mad!”
  • “He stole my idea! It’s not fair!”
  • “She cracked my screen; of course I’m going to get angry!

None of these reasons will excuse us from losing a reward for that specific action. (Note: this is not a matter of salvation, which comes by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone; rather eternal rewards – such as crowns, treasures, honors, etc. – which come by works that flow from a grace based salvation.)

Guest Post: Love Them to Death – Daniel Diaddigo

Sometimes, the words of Jesus bother me.

Care to jump in the mirror with me for some plank yankin’?

It’s then that I try to shut my mouth and silence the alerts and distractions around me to examine the bother:

Sharp, yucky bother? Just the enemy trying to condemn me over a thing of which Jesus has already pronounced me “not guilty”.
Warm bother? That’s the Spirit drawing me closer to the mirror for some good old fashioned plank yankin’.

While our written blog has been back burner’d in favor of  building a few recently released and soon to be released YouTube video blog (vlog) articles, this week I had a hard time not passing on the following post from a really sharp thinker some of you already know – Daniel Diaddigo. Dan’s had a good look at the plank that was in his eye, my eye, and probably yours…

Allow me to hand the mirror over to Dan so you can stare long and hard at it. I pray you’ll join me for some plank yankin’.

–A.P.


 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

We’ve been talking about things that distract us from Jesus, deep things that growl at us from the corners of our hearts. Last time, we discovered that we can trace our fear to misplaced hope. To conquer fear we must confront it and bring it before Jesus. Fear approaches us from the future, with things that might hurt us tomorrow. But what about those things that hurt us from the past?

A college roommate once told me, “Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I have to like him.” The “him” was a mutual acquaintance who had apparently fallen from favor. I was a babe in the faith, begging wisdom wherever I could find it.  Here was a friend, more seasoned than I, telling me over milk and cookies that there would be people I just didn’t have to like.

A liberating thought.The fact that I recall this conversation so many years later gives me a clue that I must have made some space for the idea. I see now this is the Spirit’s prompt to shine light into a corner that needs attention.

Live long enough, feel long enough – and you’ll experience the pain that accompanies the human condition. It is a pain born of brokenness. Deep cuts. Wounds of the heart that pump the serpent’s venom into our souls. Wounds at the hand of another.

For some, these wounds bear the scars of physical or sexual abuse. Others carry the weight of an absent dad or a cheating spouse. People who have hurt us, who left us hemorrhaging and gasping for air. People we don’t like. People, if we are willing to go there – we hate.

Jesus says that anyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer. And somehow we’re okay with that. “You know Jesus, always using hyperbole and parables to make a point.”

“Yeah, like when the disciples asked Jesus how many times they had to forgive their brothers and Jesus said, ‘seventy times seven’ which meant, like, ‘infinity’?”

“I know it. That’s crazy talk.”

What Does Love Require of Me-04

How are you doing with loving “difficult” people?

I’ll be honest. If I could write my own story, there are people I would remove from its pages. I would erase them completely. I’d pencil in new characters to take their places. Characters who were neither arrogant nor hypocritical nor small; characters who did not steal from me, or belittle me, constantly compete with me, or otherwise cover my light with their bowls. I would cut the characters that cut off people’s heads in God’s name; and I would dispose of those who sell girls to wealthy bidders. There are people who simply would not exist in my world – if I could write my story.  Hmmm.  Maybe Jesus is onto something.

Unforgiveness distracts us from Jesus. It diverts our gaze from Him and cements it to our pain. Jesus wants to break the shackles that bind us to our wounds. To fully experience the freedom that Jesus offers, we must choose to walk away from the wounds and to release those who inflicted them. We must… forgive.

Forgiving “those who trespass against us” is not easy. It can be a process. Here are some things that help me. I hope you find them to be useful:

  1. Surrender your right to not be wounded. Or, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “why not rather be wronged?”
  2. Cancel the debt. Write down on a sheet of paper what the offending party owes you. Respect? Credit? Dignity? Reputation? Then tear up the paper. Debt cancelled. It is Jesus who makes us whole, not people.
  3. Embrace Jesus’ suffering. Jesus suffered unjustly. Sometimes He gives us an opportunity to share in that suffering. Truly, an opportunity. I have discovered there is a special flavor of intimacy in that place where we consciously occupy Jesus’ suffering. It’s hard to describe, but I know it when I taste it – and it’s sweet, not bitter.
  4. Set up my assailant as a prayer target. Have you ever tried to forgive someone but it just doesn’t seem to stick? You find yourself having a thousand imaginary conversations, reliving the offense again and again? Remember, we have an enemy who will leverage our pain to distract us from Jesus. Try this: Every time these thoughts assail you, fight back with prayer. Aggressive, war-footing, prayer. Speaking out loud may help:“Here’s the deal. Every time I hear these thoughts, I am going to pray for _________.  I’m going to pray for this person everything I would pray for myself. I’m going to ask  the Lord to prosper him / (her) and draw him near and conform him to His image. So, if that’s what you desire as well, I invite you to keep bringing me these thoughts to remind me to pray. Thank you for the prompt.”

    Then, allow for the possibility that your persecutors may have been brought to you by the Lord so that they may be set free in response to your intervention. I know, twisted, huh?

Okay, let’s strip this down to its foundation. Is it possible to forgive, to truly forgive at a heart level, absent the life of Jesus pulsing through us? I would say “no”. No, because in order to forgive, something in us must die. Let’s call this something the offended Self.

We who are being conformed to Christ’s image will eventually experience what it means to forgive someone who does not deserve our forgiveness. In this, we are invited to join God in the ministry of reconciliation of which Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians.

Yes, forgiveness will cost us – just like it cost Jesus.

“While we were enemies of God, Christ died for us.”

My roommate was right.  We don’t have to like them.  We have to LOVE THEM. We have to love them to death.

1 Corinthians 6:7, Romans 5:8

–D.D.

The Video That Went Viral – Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast Keynote by Jonathan Cahn

A Stern, Prophetic Warning to America 
     by Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn
From the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast
January 21, 2013

     In his keynote speech, Jonathan Cahn brought to light biblical passages concerning the fall of nations (as characterized by the fall of Israel) and connected the dots between those harbingers and the potential judgment of America, as a nation that has made itself a stranger to God.

     Rabbi Cahn presides over Beth Israel Worship Center in Wayne, NJ and Hope of the World Ministries, also in Wayne, NJ. His book “The Harbinger” has been a best seller, but we will not be featuring it here because, in my opinion, it is a bit more reiterated fluff and filler than concise and theologically sound content. For purposes of intellectual honesty and full disclosure, this assessment is not from my actual reading of the book, but a conclusion based on first watching this video, transcribing it, and reading sound reviews of the book online.

Chew the Watermelon,
Spit Out the Seeds

      Warning: We believe that parallels of America and Israel can be quite dangerous. The church is God’s chosen means to reach the world, not America, nor any other geo-political entity. So, any attempt to consider it a “chosen” nation is in error. America is not the hope of the world, unless we begin spelling America “J-e-s-u-s”. A once shining city on a hill, as Cahn reminds us, but not the hope of the world, nor a nation without hope.
      That aside, we cannot argue that we have much to learn from the fall of Israel as a world power both on a macro and micro level. America‘s foundation is firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian values and has strayed greatly as a culture from this for many decades now. The signs and symbols present in the front page events he describes bear incredibly eery parallels to past biblical events. Disobedience still brings death. Perhaps not actual, biological death, but death in some form. God still punishes sin, if only with temporal consequence and a removal of the veil of protection from such consequences. We are by no means suggesting any form of salvation by works and I don’t believe Rabbi Cahn is, either.
      If Rabbi Cahn is correct about these harbingers, which I currently hold he is, we must begin praying fervently and frequently for great, national revival and surrender more soundly to the call of Christ to “go forth and make disciples”. 

in Christ,

AP

Nobody Likes a Nag – Monday Momentum in a Minute

Discipline your son, for in that there is hope;
    do not be a willing party to his death. (Prov. 19:18, NIV)”

     The most dangerous addicts are the ones who don’t know they have a problem. They endanger themselves and those around them by either their ignorance or their denial.
 
     This morning, I was talking with one of my mentors – a guy who knows the God of the word and the Word of God. He’s a very savvy business guy and I’m honored to have his voice speaking into my life. We were chewing on the topic of clutter. We agreed that an upcoming talk I’ll be doing about clutter could really hit some guys hard. My concern wasn’t just that it hit guys hard, rather that it hits the guys who need to hear it.

What’s Irrelevant?
      When a man hears that another man will be giving advice or wisdom regarding clutter, chances are strong that he’ll mark it irrelevant if he doesn’t see himself as having a clutter problem. I don’t see you nodding your head in astonishment… Of course not – it’s obvious – and you probably already know firsthand the value of accountability. So often, it takes an outside eye to “yasar” (chasten, admonish, discipline) us when there’s sin in our blind spot. But, who wants to be a nag? Who wants to be the bearer of bad news? Who wants to be a Nathan to David?

     When we don’t have ears to hear that we’re overweight, drinking too much, looking too long, etc. what’s required is a father figure to save us from our own folly while there is hope. Blind spots are funny like that… you never see them coming. David didn’t and it cost him a mighty man named Uriah and a son who was born to die.

     But, sin always brings consequences, often brings collateral damage, and failure to point out sin in others’ lives doesn’t have to be about being a nosy Christian with nothing better to do. If you chasten me not to have one more drink for the road, you may save more than just my life – you might save your neighbor’s kid’s life who just got his license and doesn’t see me coming until it’s too late.

     Jude tells us to “snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” James ends his letter to the 12 tribes with this: “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (Jas 5:19-20, NIV)”

Be Encouraged
     So, what do we do? Do we risk being called a “nosy Christian” or do we speak up? The fine line we are encouraged to cross is the one between having nothing better to do and looking out for the safety, well being, and life or death of those around us. Check your motive – are you seeking to feel better about yourself or truly concerned for saving your brother/son/other “from death”? If there’s danger lurking at the end of their sin, be a nag… and be alive.

Much Agape,
AP