Tag Archives: discipleship

3 Keys to Renovating Your Life for 2013

Don’t Do This, This Year…

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… (Romans 12:2)”

 
     Every one of us has experienced setting a goal or making a New Year’s Resolution at least once in our lives, yes? Some of us have become so jaded by the experience of failing at the “eat better, read the Bible more, get in shape” routine that we don’t even bother anymore. Others are amazing goal-setters and have a complete Life Blueprint binder sitting on your desk at arm’s reach.

People Watching?
     “Watch my weight”, “watch my mouth”,  “watch less TV”… Resolutions often have the “watch” word in them. While were at it, who doesn’t like to watch a good episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” or “Restaurant Impossible” or “What Not To Wear”? Chances are, you’ve been sucked into one of these shows by the whole “before” and “after” theme that makes grown adults scream like children “Move… That… Bus!!!” and then cry like babies when they see the finished result. We love to watch the reaction of the people whose lives have now been changed forever…

     We’d all love to be one of those people, wouldn’t we? What if we already are?

Lost in Translation… 

…at the Home Depot Checkout

     Recently as I was reading Romans 12:2 I saw something I hadn’t noticed as vividly as before. We’ve talked before about the word “suschematidzo” – to conform. It’s a word that’s used only twice in the NT and both times as an “avoid doing this”. Don’t be conformed any longer… You’re free – be free. Sounds like a good resolution, right?

     Unfortunately, the NIV – one of the most popular translations – renders another word rather weakly and causes us to lose significant impact from this verse. The word “metamorphosis” comes from the word rendered “transformed”. A better translation of that word alone could really give this verse some deep-sinking teeth, no? But, the word that really jumped off the page for me is the word turned into “renewed”. Wimpy word. The Greek for this word is “renovation”.

    Astounded yet?

    I understand. Before you tune out all disappointed, let’s compare the two words at the checkout counter at Home Depot. Cool?

     You walk into Home Depot and Frank greets you at the door. “Finding everything you need?” 
You: “I’ve got to renew a room in my house. What have you got?”
Frank: “Paint counter’s right over there.”
You: “Thanks, Frank.”

     Total Cost: $22.45 and a couple hours taping, cutting, and painting. Room renewed.
     Impact: Whatever.

     You see where we’re going here, right? There’s a huge difference between “renew” and “renovate”. How radically different would your conversation with Frank be if you told him you needed to renovate a room?

Four Things About Renovation… and then Three Keys
    Having done hundreds of home theater jobs, flat panel TV and surround sound installations, and been around contractors and home owners for over a thousand hours, I can tell you four things about virtually every renovation I’ve ever seen:

  • They always take longer than planned.
  • They cost more than planned.
  • Create a bigger mess than you ever dreamed.
  • You appreciate the finished product far more than any other human being ever can.

     So, why “renew” when you can “renovate”? Why renew, when you’ve been commanded to renovate “so that you may be able to test and approve God’s good pleasing and perfect will”? Why would you settle for less than the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God… if it’s there for the asking? Most of the time it’s because the mess of the demolition, the cost of the job, and the ever expanding time line give you a pit in the stomach.

     Scripture tells us to “put off the old self” and “put on the new self”, “renovate”. This means demolishing a lot of old patterns, old ways, familiar habits, and developing a Spirit-led habit of saying “no” to the flesh. 

  1. Fast & pray – Fasting is telling the flesh “no” for a prolonged period of time so that we may “sow to the spirit”. Each year, our home church does a 21-day Daniel Fast. For great resources to help you on your way, go to “http://danielfast.wordpress.com/”. Or, contact us and we’d love to share stories and help you plan for your first 3 day, 7 day, or even 21 day fast.
  2. Renovate, not renew – Your mindset going into the fast is as simple as this: are you asking God to inform your conscience of the things He desires to do in and through you from this point forward or are you begging Him to lock arms with you as you seek to put to death the flesh and renovate your mind/life/past? Resolve to renovate. It will cost more, take more time, but in the end be worth it.
  3. Be accountable – Left to ourselves, we can justify anything. My blood pressure spiked a few weeks ago and I immediately sent out an email to 5 guys in my life that will hold my feet to the fire about diet, exercise, and workflow management. Today, I’m down 9 points on both sides of the “/”. If you’re not in close accountability with a group or individual, you’re prone to drift off course or quit altogether.

     “I pray that He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Don’t settle for slapping a new coat of paint on your life. Renovate. He commanded you.

Happy Metamorphosis!!!
in Christ,

AP

3 Steps Toward Getting Unstuck

Doing Two Things at Once…     Have you ever been on the phone with someone while you were driving to work, get to work and think “Wow, how did I get here?” 

Auto-Pilot Explained
     There’s great brain science out there that explains this phenomenon. Without getting hyper-biological, let’s just say that God designed our brains to do really great things. One of those things our brain yearns to do is to embed familiar routines into the “auto-pilot” section of our brain. We’ve subconsciously trained ourselves how to get to work by storing “directions to work” in the routine-function section of our minds (also called the basal ganglia). When we shifted our “full” attention to the phone conversation, auto-pilot is what helped us arrive at work instead of Peru.

     Much of what you and I have learned as children has been broken down into easily recalled “chunks” (how to go to the bathroom, how to lift a glass, what to say when someone gives you a toy, how to respond to someone who yells at you, etc.) and stored it in autopilot. This saves us from wasting time and energy rethinking the routine each time we have to do it.

    The Old Testament teaching from Proverbs 22:6 is echoed in Jesus’ teaching “…but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)” Which, begs the question:

Who (more often, what) has been your teacher?


We’ve All Been Discipled by Someone
     Many of my teachers growing up were contrary or marginally average examples of godly behavior. It took time in the Word and the Holy Spirit to expose to me the places where I’d learned wicked examples of auto pilot. Today, I was interviewing a mental health professional and he reminded me that when men and women are under great pressure they tend heavily to fall into default modes of thinking learned from their childhood/family of origin. The brain science I’m reading right now fully confirms this assertion: while we may have new ways of thinking and be a “new creation” in Christ, we don’t always let go of our old programming. Could this perhaps explain why some of the following passages appear in scripture:

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12.2a)”

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)”

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)”

All Things New?
     When we come to faith in Christ, we do, indeed, become new creations, but this does not mean our most basic programming is completely erased. How much good would we be to God’s kingdom if our mind were erased, personality wiped clean, and we had to learn reading, writing, even potty training all over? We have been “trained up (Prov. 22:6)” for a reason. But, submission to God in all we do, abiding in Christ and walking by the Spirit, demands that we are constantly renewed in our minds. We have much to relearn and the Holy Spirit who is our teacher, but we must dedicate time and mental bandwidth to the process.

  1. Take an inventory of “pretension that set up against the knowledge of God” and pray – multiple times daily – that the Holy Spirit will renew those old, bad, faulty thought patterns, giving you a “new” auto pilot. But, make sure to do this on paper – soon, I’ll be posting on how your brain isn’t designed to hold too many important things in the forefront – there’s great practical value in getting things out of our heads and onto paper.
  2. Think on these things – don’t just say “I’m going to not do x.” There’s great truth to “garbage in, garbage out”. Ask God to fill you with new desires and that’s likely what you’ll get. We’re in charge of our minds and what we consciously let in. Memorize the fruits of the Spirit – (Gal 5.22-23) and Philippians 4:8 and actively pray that God leans you toward these new ways. Life in Christ is not about good behavior, rather a changed heart that puts out godly behavior. But, let’s at least have a Holy Spirit Wish List.
  3. Say “no” to self-condemnation when you “fall off the wagon”. Looking in any mirror can show any of us far more faults than we’d care to think about tackling. But, at least now, we’ve got a more exhaustive list of what to pray for. Remember that while you are imperfect, God is leading you to perfection that will only be complete in His Kingdom reign.While you will make mistakes, Christ already paid the price for them – no sense beating yourself up when Christ has already been beaten for you.


     This January, I’ll be running a half day workshop called “Getting Things Done God’s Way: Restoring Order to Your Mind, Your Work, and Your Life”, where we’ll be covering how this stuff is just as related to getting your inbox to “empty” as it is to sharing the gospel at work and loving your enemy while you’re under attack.

Be Encouraged
God wouldn’t have put this stuff in the Bible if He didn’t intend to help us on the journey.

in Christ,

AP

Thank God for the Rod – Monday Morning Momentum


“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23.4)”
Comfort in the Wood?
     I’ve often read through, listened to, even performed in choirs the 23rd Psalm and wondered – “Rod… Staff… Comfort?” Then, my wife and I went through three years of what we pray wasthe most challenging season of our life. Blending a family, learning to live and love more biblically, a challenging pregnancy, a second pregnancy – this time with twins, running a ministry, caring for people, the loss of two good friends in their 30s, tight financial situations that seemed to never end, etc. God stretched us and delivered us. 
     He still does. Hallelujah.

 

Rolling in the Deep
     Ever been through one of those seasons when it seemed you were barely treading water, putting out only the nearest and tallest fires, catching a breath only to be dragged back to the bottom by the next wave? Yeah, odd mix of metaphors. But, you get the point – “survival mode”?
Sometimes, for God’s perfect will of sanctification to work best in us, we have to go through the worst, darkest of valleys. Sometimes, it’s truly the valley of the shadow of death. A close friend of ours just lost her mom very quickly to cancer. Other friends just experienced a miscarriage. A 37 year old woman with 4 kids ranging 8 to 1 has stage 3 cancer. Not valleys I’d want to go through. You?
     Those times, in my mind, never bring up the image of a well carved billy club or a 6-foot tall walking stick, especially when I admit to my need for comfort.
But, God…
     But, Christ is our shepherd. Our authority, guide, protector, and liberator. In those valleys I get weary. In those times, peripheral vision shrinks because of the calamity right in front of my eyes. In those times, I might be stalled and stifled by self-medicating: mouth stuffed with cookies, ears stuffed with buds, zoned out and wandering through life like a… like a… lost and wounded sheep.
     Can’t relate? Your time will come. We’ll all find ourselves at one time or another thinking “snap out of it!”, when “BANG!” God hits us in the head with a “reality slap”.  I’ve never been hit with a nightstick in literal terms, but have you ever told of a time in your story when God hit you “in the head with a spiritual 2×4”? Rod… Thank you, God. So under the pressure I’d have stepped off the cliff had I not been hit by that blow. Startled, yet comforted that someone was looking out for me when I had no capacity to do so for myself.
     Thank God for the rod.
Your Mileage May Vary
     I won’t give an example of being stuck in a thicket of thorns, wounded and bleeding by my own wandering – you fill in that blank. You’ve got the scars, don’t you? As Shepherd, He’s shown you the value of a staff that can pry you out of what’s entangled you. It may take patience and struggle and you may keep bleeding while you come unstuck. But, there’s comfort, isn’t there, seeing His staff lift the briars from your path?
Be Encouraged
     As you disciple others, the thickets and cliffs God has protected you from are crucial testimony. We all wander into trouble… too close to cliffs. Trouble even occasionally seeks us. Sometimes, we may even question His authority or sovereignty when He leads us through treacherous territory. Ultimately, the toughest territories turned out to be the best way to the greatest and most lasting life change under His authorship. The muscle and spiritual stamina built by the climbs through the valleys are what bring us the greatest mountain top experiences.
Grace and peace,

AP

Death to Interruptions! – Monday Morning Momentum

Windy, Bendy Roads
     If you’re not a mom, stick with me for a moment. We’re driving down a road that’s required us to make 50 course corrections an hour and you’ll appreciate it about halfway through this post.

     My wife is in the middle of an amazing transition where God is forging in her heart a fresh desire to lead and train up our youngest three children for a season. They’re 2-1/2, 2-1/2, and 4 (next week). It’s amazing to watch her grapple with scripture in her very Berean way – searching the Word to see if what the Spirit has told her is true: “You’re called to care for and train these kids.” Amid her research in this lifestyle shift, she often encounters blogs, columns, and talks where weary and harried mothers of multiple toddlers and school age kids vent their frustration over how their kids are a “drain”, an “inconvenience”, etc. They’re frazzled: emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted, with no immediate hope of relief.

     Cristine responds: “I can relate to them. But, I’m choosing joy.” We discussed what this meant and I’ll share my synopsis of it below. But, right now, you’re wondering:

What Does this Have to Do with Me?

     You and I share something very simple in common. Even with my ADD tendencies, I can’t stand interruptions. As Cristine shares some of the “frazzled Mom” comments with me from her research, I can’t help but notice a common thread that all of the moms share: they see their kids as an “interruption”.

     But, if I were focusing on my kids all day long (which I occasionally do), how can the point of my focus interrupt me from the point of my focus? Exactly. What we’ve observed with so many moms (and how this relates to you, even if you’re not a mom) is that most of them have been focused on themselves all day long, hoping their kids would give them a break. So, when their kids make noise, screams, damage, diapers, etc., those things weren’t their focus, therefore they’re interrupted.

     My phone is often the worst. Texts, tweets, updates, reminders, and [God forbid] actual phone calls,  come with no warning. Unless the point of my focus is “watch your phone all day for signs of life”, these things are, by nature, an interruption. It’s really a matter of my agenda being interrupted. I planned to do my stuff in my time in my order the way I like to get things done and anything that gets in the way becomes an enemy to my agenda.

So, What’s Your Agenda?

     Here’s the tough part. I think you might be expecting me to give you some simple solution for stress free living. And, I might. But, it might be at a much higher cost than you had planned. As I’m reading the gospels, Jesus tells me in three of them that I’m ignoring the cost of discipleship: a bad mindset.

“Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s. (Matt 16:23)”

     “Peter, I love you, but Satan has fooled you into believing your agenda is more important than mine. Bad mindset, my friend. You’re an interruption to God’s agenda.”

     Bottom line: God is sovereign over phone calls, text messages, messy diapers, sibling arguments, senior management initiatives, conference calls, emergency meetings, etc. When I have my mind set on God’s interests, not man’s [read: mine], God is the point of my focus and His “interruptions” aren’t really interruptions… rather, they’re the point of my focus.

     As we take a day off of labor for Labor Day, let’s keep ourselves aligned with His mindset, die daily to ourselves, and carry our crosses. This is the true cost of discipleship, the cost of following the Master, the basic blocking and tackling of the Christian life – abide.

in Christ,

AP

What’s Next? "Un-divided"?

Where Did THAT Go?

Anyone ever tell you “it goes by so fast” and you look at them like “you don’t even know the half of it!”? So, you when I tell you – this first 5 years of ministry has absolutely blown by as a vapor, you just GET it, don’t you?
Five years, hundreds of 1-on-1 conversations, dozens of group and micro-group settings, weeks of study, performances of “That Day” [impacting hundreds directly and thousands by extension], DivorceCare and DC4Kids, and so on. The result – men and women walking in deeper intimacy with Christ, producing greater witness in the marketplace, wrinkle-free marriages (okay, how about “wrinkles that get ironed out quickly and regularly”?), crises averted, men living free from porn addiction, etc.
Glory to God, glory to God, glory to God.
This month, we were riveted to an eye opening documentary (which we highly recommend you watch, too, at www.dividedthemovie.com) that’s radically shifted our perspective on family discipleship and widely exposed to us a unique opportunity from God to make an impact in that direction. Specifically, we will be empowering fathers to disciple their sons and it’s all about relationship with Christ.
We’ll be posting more information on our blog and Facebook page in the coming weeks and months about how this environment will work and the new reality that will be created in the church as a result. But, we have never experienced a greater need for fourfold support (see below). 
For more information on
The Uprising, click here.
This month, as we ramp up for this new program shift, our financial need is roughly $2,850 higher than expected (calculations updated 8/31). To help bridge this gap, we have about $750 in matching funds committed in a dollar for dollar scenario. Yes, we’d love your prayers. Yes, we’d love to hear your story as we continue the curriculum/content development. But, right now and through the remainder of 2012, we greatly need your prayer and financial support to bring this to fruition.
So, I’m inviting you to do one of four things:
  1. Support urgently – online or by check (see below)
  2. Pray – for us to remain obedient in our calling and faithful servants with this opportunity
  3. Share “Divided: The Movie” w/ friends
  4. Volunteer – if you’re a dad, a son, or you and your son would like to share your story for our research project (anonymously or publicly).
I’d love to talk with any who have questions about this new step as soon as you let me know who you are. I’ll be interviewing about 50 men by the end of this year as we continue our due diligence. Message me if you’d like to be one of them. Otherwise, keep us in prayer and send support either through our website at http://www.seasonsoflifeministries.org, and via mail at:
Seasons of Life Ministries, 2659 Freedom Pkwy., Suite 285, Cumming, GA 30041
Thanks, for your readership & support!

AP

Shifting Gears? Need New Tires.

Speed read: We’re shifting gears, taking steps to develop intensive family/leader training that makes discipleship so simple you’ll have no excuse but to start doing it. We have some financial resistance, but would like to make a mass appeal for immediate as well as long term support. – Oh, and until an iWeb problem is solved, our website cannot be updated. (So, keep your eyes on the blog, Twitter, and Facebook instead, for now.)

Changing Traffic Light:
     Last week, Cristine and I watched a movie called “Divided”. As we watched, God made very clear it was a flashing road sign we needed to obey, immediately. Written by Philip Leclerc, it shines painfully bright light on the fact that the body of Christ has made a tragic departure from the biblical model of family discipleship, leaning toward an outsourced model in a surprising place with terrible results – 80%+ teenagers are abandoning their faith by college.

     The family has abdicated its most crucial role in God’s plan. A growing movement in discipleship training can turn this around.


     The information in this documentary was so compelling and convicting to us, we immediately agreed that not only was something to be done about it, but that we are uniquely called to join the movement God has already initiated in turning the tide. In the coming months, I believe you’ll begin to hear stories on our blog (and Facebook) of men and women who are intentionally discipling their children and strategies for discipling your co-workers, children, and others around you.

    By the way, make sure you’re friends with us on our Facebook fan page.

Click here for original link.
Warning:

     This will require a commitment, accountability, and will be highly opposed by many local churches who have bought into a carnal, worldly model of discipleship. There. You’ve been warned. Rocky road and traffic ahead.

For the Road Ahead –
     This summer, we’ve experienced many great one-on-one, group, and couples discipleship moments, our own personal losses, a move to North Forsyth, and both some wild financial ups and sobering downs. The way forward will demand much of me as a husband, father, and discipler of men as well as an increased need for financial support from those who appreciate our calling and this ministry. Wild terrain will demand great tires…

     
     Overall, some hard-knock financial surprises have Seasons of Life facing a $4,102 need for the month of August, but less than $21,500 for the remainder of the 2012 support year. If you’re considering some end of summer giving, or are already (wisely) reviewing and planning for year end or 2013 giving – one time support could use a big boost, effective immediately.

     However, thanks to a boost in quarterly giving, we currently have a $500 matching gift to help raise some of the funds for August.

         
     Until a glitch in Apple’s iWeb can be circumvented, our website will remain time frozen in June or July. So, in this post I’m including links that will help those who are called to support Seasons of Life.

Support Monthly-

     If you’d like to join a few dozen faithful monthly supporters, click a below link to do so:
  • Monthly Support – $25
  • Monthly Support – $40
  • Monthly Support – $50
  • Monthly Support – $70
  • Monthly Support – $100
  • Monthly Support – $200
     If you need a custom link for a dollar amount above, below, or between the listed amounts, email me here. Also, we highly recommend anyone consider using their bank’s online bill pay service (most often free for you and for us) and setting up a regular check to Seasons of Life Ministries, 2659 Freedom Pkwy., Suite 285, Cumming, GA 30041. Seasons of Life is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit and also can be supported through the National Christian Foundation.
Support Just for Now-
     If you’d like to simply jump in with some one time support, click any of the following links and you’ll be taken to our secure online giving portal. Thanks, so much!!!
  • One Time Gift – $25
  • One Time Gift – $50
  • One Time Gift – $100
  • One Time Gift – $250
  • One Time Gift – $500
  • One Time Gift – $1,000

Designation:
Secure Merchant Account Credit Card Processing.Merchant Account

Thanks, for your prayers, readership, and support!!!

in Christ,
Aarron & Cristine Pina 

Big News: (2 of 2)


Update and Upfront

     Life happens. Trials are here to make us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, right? Ever think “if that’s true, then this year, I should be pretty close to perfect“? 2011-2012 has been the most challenging on the job training we’ve ever received. Despite the fact that I’ve had time to send out ZERO support letters in 6 months, God has provided between 60 and 80% of budgeted support in some way or another – almost twice our normal program funding level. The Lord has been wildly faithful and we are extremely grateful! More on that and some BIG NEWS below.

Earlier this month, Aarron was asked to stand in for ministry
leader Casey Sanders at Gwinnett’s Men Step Up.

For first quarter, 2012, alone – 

  • Men have received regular 1 on 1 encouragement, wisdom, and discipleship from God’s word, dealing with everything from pornography addiction, blending families from a biblical perspective, deeper quiet time with God, to “pastoring your wife’s heart”.
  • DivorceCare leaders have been equipped and have run for a full quarter reaching a dozen men, women, & children directly and dozens beyond that where they work, live, and recover.
  • Couples have received couple on couple discipleship, wisdom, and encouragement and even been sent to a local marriage conference followed by one on one or couples’ “debriefing”.
    Through a partnership with another local 
    ministry, God has provided food for a dozen 
    families a year with about 6 of them on a 
    weekly basis.

  • Weekly food runs through Divine Resourcing have brought food to more than a half dozen families as part of our “Speak Life” programming.
  • We’ve run a panel discussion for divorced men on “Single Sexuality”.
  • Men have been encouraged to “think out loud” at ONE TH1NG, (a separate ministry led by Ron Dunn designed to “Spur men to walk with God”). Aarron and other men have led dozens of micro group discussions as part of their “ministry within a ministry” environment. 
  • Aarron also recently led a conversation at Men Step Up, Gwinnett, on Friday, 5.11.2012 (see photo above) regarding contentment in current circumstances in light of present and eternal rewards. It hit home for a great majority of the men in attendance.
  • The SOLM blog & Facebook page have been enhanced and regular content added, reaching an audience in the hundreds, soon to be thousands.
  • Our skills have been sharpened through both counseling and impartation through Trinity Psychological Services, Free Chapel, and Jesus Spoken Here Ministries.
  • Aarron has begun preliminary preparation for a “That Day” performance in October and is in talks about another engagement before then.
Argentina?
     Recently, supporters of Seasons of Life and followers of our Facebook Fan Page helped a friend of ours take an unexpected “mission” trip to Argentina. We hope to have an official update from Lily Chauvin soon, but we can tell you it was a heartbreaking trip. While there were some who received her well, she found others to be hostile to her as well as the gospel. We know from scripture that God prepares the heart to receive the gospel, but gives man the opportunity to accept it or reject it. We’re grateful for all of you who jumped at the chance to help her in her calling and honored to have participated.

Fiscal Forecast – Sunny?
     Financially, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by God prompting a number of supporters to step up their giving, completely unsolicited. (In fact, whereas normally we’ve sent out support letters once or twice per quarter, it’s been almost six months since we’ve sent out a “make the need known” letter. Glory to God.) 


    As we approach the summer there are a few transitions on the horizon and we’d like to inform everyone of the possibilities ahead for 2012, 2013 and beyond. The Lord is broadening our territory in Gainesville, GA, where the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few. This could mean carrying a wider load for Free Chapel’s DivorceCare program but also bringing Seasons of Life discipleship to a community lacking in a detailed one-on-one discipleship plan and budget to sustain it, yet rich in a deep and abiding need for it.    

     We are prayerfully moving forward one step at a time, one relationship at a time, one conversation & prayer at a time.


To help us capture a $2,500 matching
donation for 2nd quarter, click here.

The Big News:

    This presents a fantastic opportunity for people with a passion for para-church ministries, pastoral care for the hurt, broken, and addicted, as well as those who love to support missionaries in general. Currently, we are less than $3,000 from meeting our support need – for the quarter – this is a big deal for three reasons:

  1. This is the shortest distance we’ve been from the mark, ever. And this is for the quarter, not the month. Wow, praise GOD!
  2. Summer is historically one of the driest “seasons” of the year for many non-profits and ministries like Seasons of Life, yet this!
  3. God has dropped a (ridiculously timely) $2,500 dollar-for-dollar matching gift on the table for 2nd Quarter!



What You Can Do:
     Your giving power is officially doubled. Anyone who supports Seasons of Life Ministries in new giving, whether one time, “seasonal” (once/month for three months), or joins as a new monthly support family member, will help us not only capture the funds needed for the quarter, but definitively help set us up for a smooth 3rd & 4th quarter and balance the scales moving into 2013. WOW, is right!

     Pray it over, (as always), and consider whether this is the “sign” you’ve been waiting for: the need is great where we’re “growing to”. You may never personally experience the work God’s called us to do all the way up in North Forsyth and Hall Counties, but your giving will make a bold impact on men, marriages, couples, children, and disciples of Christ there. To help capture this timely gift, click here or enter “http://bit.ly/solmsupport” in your browser’s address bar.

Moving Forward
     Thank you, thank you, to all who are still lifting up this ministry, our family, and those we serve in your prayers. Great things are in the rear view mirror and on the horizon. Your “vertical” support has not been wasted. Please, keep us in prayer, join us in prayer, and tell anyone you can to follow us, fan us, like us, and pray for us.

in Christ,

AP

Newsletter Update (1 of 2)

What Happened to Spring?!

     As transplanted Northerners, spring in Georgia is a strange phenomenon for us. It comes with little warning, a month (or two) earlier than we’re used to, and turns into summer even faster. Brown, crunchy lawns in our neighborhood turn verdant almost overnight. It’s almost as if a glacier melted and dropped a new terrain on top of the old, barren one. From a practical standpoint, that’s what it looks like when Jesus drops His abundant life into the life of the broken. Dry, crusty life doesn’t just “perk up”, it thrives.

     This past year has been one of the most challenging seasons of our own lives personally. Yet, we have clearly seen God use it to transform our hearts and refine His ministry through us. Call it “on the job training”, but the trials He’s delivered us through in 2011-2012 have been no different than the dramatic winter to summer transition we’re growing accustomed to here in GA. We’re already seeing the results of it bear fruit in the lives of others.

Our Honor, His Glory
     Recently I had coffee with a guy whose wife is being crushed by the grinder of life. Pain and brokenness from her past is gushing out of her heart, subsequently, her mouth – and that hurts. But, to watch this guy “get vertical” and follow Jesus despite the (tongue) lashing he takes for hurts he didn’t cause, is such a sweet honor.

     I’ve got three or four guys across the table from me this year going through the same thing, and God continues to speak to us all through His word. I’m invigorated to watch them stumble at times, but get up and walk on in the footsteps of “forgive them Father, they know not what they do”. Love, love, awesome, godly love. Masculine, yet submitted to God. Wow.


     Just today, we got an email from a woman that Cristine loves very deeply and has walked with from time to time over the past few years – 

“[My husband and I] are proof that one on one discipleship truly helps (well, some days we’re better proof than other days) in our walk with Christ.” 

    What an awesome, transparent, clear encouragement: we all fall down. We must get up, but never by the flesh, only by the Spirit. Discipleship isn’t the fix-all for everything: Jesus is. But, walking with someone, arm-in-arm, as you walk with Christ can make such a huge difference, no?

The New Adventures of Old New Cristine:

Cristine Pina looks nothing like Julia
Louis-Dreyfus, but she once drove away with her
coffee or purse on the roof and I like the tag line.

     Cristine has transitioned to volunteer status, stepping back from discipleship quite a bit this year and taken on a God given (long story) part-time job to fill in part of a gap in support. As for her discpleship, she is “picking her spots” as God would have her, and we are mindful to guard her bandwidth as God directs. 

     To watch her embrace her role as a mother and discipler of our children out of obedience to the Lord rather than by the force of her husband is an awesome sight. As a husband and father, it is so comforting to know that I don’t have to pressure her to lean this direction, rather just get out of her and God’s way and watch them collaborate for this season. 

     While our oldest daughter, Brianna, has been walking through her own dark season of life, God has used Cristine’s heart for prayer and burden for the next generation to forge a new ministry effort – Mothers In Prayer. 
     This is a once per week environment, where women – whether mothers, grandmothers, or childless – are now gathering to make their prayers and petitions known to the Lord. It is not a curriculum-driven environment, small group, nor networking organization. It is not a place for platitudes and shallow, “proper” prayers. It is solely focused on lifting up the cares and concerns one generation has for the next, honestly, transparently, boldly. To find out more about Mothers in Prayer, message us on Facebook through either Seasons of Life’s fan page or the new Mothers in Prayer page at http://www.facebook.com/prayingmothers.

     Hey, while you’re at it, go to our fan page, click “like”, and then share it with your friends!

The Way Forward for Discipleship

     As a couple, we are still seeing other couples through seasons of turmoil. This has always been a part of the DNA of Seasons of Life and we can see it continuing as God conforms us and them to the image of Christ. We are certain of our involvement with Free Chapel’s DivorceCare program, just uncertain what that looks like as their org structure and implementation strategy changes this month. We would ask for your prayers that we be continually prayerful and open to God’s direction as we stand in the flow of His ministry to the divorced in that territory.

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Socially Acceptable Behavior

     If you’re on our email newsletter list, you’ve noticed your inbox has been pretty quiet. This is because we’ve been leaning much more heavily on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog for public updates. Social media has grown more and more effective, and we’re pleased with the results. As we track with this trend, you will likely see less from us in your inbox and more consistency on the blog and other outlets. Tune in.


     To connect with us on Facebook, click here. To follow us on Twitter, click here. If you’re just tuning in, God’s impressed on me the idea of staying consistent (again, with exceptions at His direction) with a weekly devotional published Mondays, here on the blog.

Monday Morning Momentum in a Minute

Reward!
     Don’t you just love the red letters? I mean, think about it – if you’re a theist or a deist, you don’t believe in a personal god who is active and involved in the life of His creation. But, if you’re a disciple of Christ, you have pages and pages of ancient manuscripts that have been preserved and protected over centuries that contain the words of the God who not only invented the universe, but also came to earth as one of us to teach, reach, and die for us.

     I’m off topic. My bad.

     The point of today is to further look into what happens today and how it effects eternity. Jesus is on a roll with His teaching ministry in Matthew 6 and sets the record straight on prayer and piety:

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven… I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. (Mt. 6.2,5b)” 

     If you can’t say “amen”, you’d better say “ouch”! “Really? That’s all I get?”

     Salvation is by faith in Christ alone. But, eternal rewards are a different story. Works we do here effect our eternal reward. God promises to reward us for everything we do while here “in the body” (2 Cor 5:10), but here gives us exception clauses as a warning. For the deists & theists out there, this flies in the face of your theology, big time: a personal God is watching you, recording your every move, with a great desire to reward you in eternity for the good you have done. How is that “uninvolved”? Further, and to the point, He also promises to deny us reward for actions done with a selfish motive, i.e. public kudos.

     For those of us in public, vocational ministry, especially the small, Mom-and-Pop type like Seasons of Life, this presents an interesting challenge: how does one report appropriately to “update” the public without sacrificing eternal rewards for bragging about ones’ works like the Pharisees did? Prayerfully and only to the glory of God. Et tu? How do you share your story, your testimony, the things God is using you for without sacrificing eternal rewards?

     Check your heart.

     What I really wanted to blog about this morning is the previous chapter – in Matthew 5:8, Jesus tells the crowds that when our hearts are clean and uncontaminated by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, (roll over to see also Luke 8:14 and Jas 1:27), we have a clear, unobstructed view of who God really is and what He is up to in the world. So, how’s your heart? Is it contaminated by worries over the things of this world? Mine isn’t. I’ve got to sit down right after I hit “publish” and “get to confessin”: I’m laden down this morning with what’s ahead in my day, some things I’m waiting to hear back on, some fundraising stuff that “might” go through, etc., etc., etc.

Be Encouraged:
     We’re never more than one prayer away from access to the full resources of Heaven. We’re never more than one prayer away from true repentance and a fully clean heart: it just takes honesty before God that we’re being controlled, run, “stained” [as James says] by motives other than pleasing God. Do you seek public accolades? Do you seek the desires of your heart independent of a “delight in the Lord” (Ps 37:4)?

     Dump your heart. Repent of the sin of worry. Receive right motives. And, step forward in grace, empowered by the Spirit. It ain’t complicated. Hard, sometimes – I’ll give you that – but simple. Momentum.

Much love.

AP

Context is King – Care for a Crown?

       
   
 

Want one of these in your 401K?

Context is King.
     But, Jesus is the King of Kings and He offers not only salvation for those who believe, but also some desperately needed context for our worldview.

     Trials and troubles and annoyances and tragedies exist. No getting around that in a Genesis 3 world. So, Jesus gave us a heads-up – “In this life, you will have troubles.” But, what is the context in which we are to interpret these troubles? In chapter 15 of John’s gospel, Jesus has just spent a bunch of time telling his disciples some bad news: the world is going to hate them “for no reason (John 15:25)”. Then He moves forward into the “you will have trouble” part of the speech. As if the “they’re going to hate you” part wasn’t bad enough, He explains two things:

  1. “I’m telling you this so you won’t get freaked out when it happens. I’m giving you a heads-up now that I’m on my way out.” (John 16:1 – paraphrased)
  2. “It’s going to be so bad, people are going to try to kill you because of me, thinking by killing you they’re serving Me.” (John 16:2-4 – paraphrased) “So, what do you guys want for dessert?”

    Can we skip to the end of the story? For some context?

The End That Satisfies the Means
    Here’s why “the end of a matter is better than its beginning… (Ecc 7:8)”: At the “end of the story” – Revelation 2 & 3, where God dictates seven letters for John to address to the seven churches in Asia Minor, Jesus reminds them who He is. “I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (v. 23)… To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations (v. 26)” At the Bema seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5.10), believers in Christ will receive their eternal rewards, including many crowns promised throughout scripture.

    Bottom line – in a world where trouble is the everyday landscape of our walk, everything you and I do [within God’s will for us and that’s not done with selfish motive (Mt. 6:2, Mt. 6:5, Mt. 6:16)] will be repaid with eternal reward.

     So, here’s the compensation structure when it comes to persevering under trial:

  1. Get paid now – “Atta boy!!!” (remarkably temporary)
  2. Get paid in eternity – “I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” or
  3. Both – “do everything without arguing or complaining. (Phil. 2:14)” and “I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Rev. 2:23b)”

     We’ve been warned. We’ve been told it won’t be easy, but given the Holy Spirit to guide, empower, and protect us. We’ve been given the context of our trials, persecution, and our eternal rewards. We can take the recognition from men now or we can take a rain check in our eternal 401K. What would you prefer, a compliment that lasts a little while or a portfolio that lasts forever?

    If you’re a man within 30 minutes of California Dreaming in Duluth, GA – do whatever you have to do to get there tomorrow morning (Friday, 05.11.2012) at 6:30 for Men Step Up. There, we’ll be thinking out loud about the lies of the enemy and the truth that sets men free, specifically this stuff. Hope to see you there!

AP