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Men Step Up Goes Co-ed?!

     The short answer is “no”. Men Step Up, Gwinnett is still a place where men can go to think out loud. But, a few years ago, Kelly Talamo sent out an email telling the guys who regularly gathered at the Cabernet Steakhouse on Friday mornings that he sensed the Lord leading him to step into content development and out of running the MSU venue every week. For a while, the Cabernet went dark on Fridays.

     But, a few years ago, Dan Diaddigo had Ron Dunn step up to lead a very similar truth & lie environment where men could be spurred on to the truth of Christ. Today, ONE TH1NG meets every Friday morning from 7AM to 7:55 on Windward Parkway at the Cab’. Below, I wanted to share with our readers Ron Dunn’s note regarding the truth about a lie we’ll be talking about tomorrow morning, bright and early.

So, What’s the Co-ed Thing
     Oh, yeah, I almost forgot – the tag line that got you to read this article in the first place. My bad… For years, women of all ages have been begging to know what it’s like to sit at the same tables and chew on the same issues their husbands or boyfriends or guys in their church get to talk about each week. As of this Fall, Ron has added a unique “re-run” to the mix: ONE TH1NG Co-Ed. On Sunday nights (this is the LAST Sunday for 2012) from 5PM to 6:30, men and women will gather at the Cabernet to look at a lie, learn from the truth, and be truly set free by the Word of God.

     Mark your calendar. Call your sitter. That barking you’re hearing is me hounding you to show up this Sunday (and only this Sunday for the remainder of 2012) at 5. No food, no admission, just show up as you are, hungry for the Truth.

Ron’s notes:

If it feels good…

      It looked good.  It was a delight to the eyes.  It was desirable.
(Genesis 3:6)

      This wasn’t the first time Eve saw the tree.  She passed by it many a day.  It was positioned in the middle of the garden.  On this day, however, Eve was looking at it through a different lens.

      Her emotions were engaged.  She was feeling it.  She wanted it.

      Satan engaged Eve in a well crafted conversation, then slyly slipped a pair of shades on her eyes and said look again though my lenses.

      Now, lets be clear.  Despite what Flip Wilson might say, the devil cannot make us do anything.  When we came to Christ, Satan lost power.  He was defeated.  Christ overcame him by the greater power of His sacrificed blood.

      Satan can’t force sin, but he does suggest it so vividly that men chose it on their own volition. 

      Satan created an image of God and of the tree that paved a path for Eve to take the forbidden fruit.  

      With his skills to deceive, He perpetually tries the same with you and me.

      Eve wasn’t seeking sin; sin was seeking her.  On this day it looked desirable and permissible.

      Satan would have us believe that he is where fun and freedom reside, so party here and party on.

      Truth is no one has more fun or feels better than God.

      What a bummer…all these people thinking they went to the fun party only to find out they missed the best feel-good a person can experience.

      Lie #6 is: If it feels good, do it!

      If it feels good… I mean really good… and lasts forever…. then you are giving glory to the God who created you, drawing near to Him.

      Join us at the tables as we unpack this uncommon truth and refreshing freedom.

      This Friday morning at 7 or this year’s final Sunday night COED at 5, we hope to see you at Cabernet.

– Ron

I Wish I Were Somewhere Else… Monday Morning Momentum

     Among the many conversations I’ve had with the men God has me walking with, a good double digit percentage of them have been about work – successes, failures, disappointments, prospects, tough cases, difficult people, etc. It always gets interesting when a guy, particularly one who is frustrated with his current work situation, brings up the idea of “going into full time ministry”.

     Occasionally, one of these guys is truly responding to a calling the Lord has placed on their heart. Over time and with much prayer, even fasting, the calling is authenticated. For the most part though, we [the guy and I] have discovered he’s simply in the midst of an “I wish” moment, wishing he were somewhere else, doing something else, with someone else, especially with less strife, contention, and aggravation, and often at a higher rate of pay.

Called?

     We recently moved out of a neighborhood where one of our neighbors was a couple who’ve spent over 25 years as missionaries to the Dominican Republic. I regularly meet with a couple of guys who’ve been in full time ministry for over a decade each. All of these people are amazing, authentically called, God equipped workers for the Kingdom. And, contrary to what some would believe, they’re not always happy about how things are going “at work”.

     Two other guys – Kurt, probably in the best shape of any guy I know. So much so, that he’s a professional personal trainer (who does amazing things for his clients with only a small amount of weight and very few workouts per week). I run into him at some event maybe once every two years, but I see his Facebook page much more often than that. There, I notice two things – he’s not wishing he was doing anything else, and he’s clearly on a mission to stir up peoples’ thoughts and get them thinking about the gospel. Recently, he commented: “I think people tend to harbor naive views as to what is more a thing of God than another.” Great point.


     Ron runs a large company – over 200 retail locations nationwide. I have no idea how he gets done all that he does in a given week with all the employees, warehouses, and fires he has to put out. But, he somehow finds time to write incredibly insightful content for a ministry for men called ONE TH1NG, study scripture, and present a cogent 15 minute “set up” that leaves the dozens of guys who attend thinking deeply about the thoughts of God and how those should govern their lives.

     Neither of these guys are “in full time ministry”. Yet, they show no evidence of playing “I wish” with their careers. What gives? Why the contentment?

     Cristine had an opportunity to pick up a part time job last year for a few hours a week. One of her co-workers has been deeply wounded by “church people” in her past because she identifies as a lesbian. After six months of prayerful, Spirit-led conversation, Cristine received the comment that she had “restored her faith in Christians”.

     This isn’t to brag about how godly Cristine is, how selfless Ron is, or how bad you need to inbox me if you’re serious about getting in shape with Kurt… Alright, only the former two are true. Inbox me and I’ll connect you with Kurt. The point is pretty obvious – it’s not about how difficult people are at work, how off the pay is, how challenging the workload, etc. It’s about the fact that God:

From one man… made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)”

     We have all been given a time, a place… a platform to proclaim the gospel, to spur others on to love and good deeds, to urge others to consider their ways and the God who made them. To assume that we should be somewhere else is a “vertical matter” – we must all weigh seriously the leadings of the Lord who would have us move from one career to another. However, this prayer must always begin with great thanksgiving that God has indeed placed us where we are with whom He placed us for a reason. To ignore this is to call God a fool and assume He knew not what He was doing when he placed us there.

Be Encouraged
     If scripture is true, and I believe that it is, then God has placed some in “full time ministry” and others in “full time ministry” (not a typo). Enjoying the Lord most is often found in enjoying even the rough landscape upon which He has drawn our career path. There is someone in your office, your client list, your platform that needs the love, the wisdom, the comfort, the counsel, the truth and grace of Christ. Reaching them does not guarantee “graduation” to a “better” job, rather it guarantees a “well done, good and faithful servant” from the God who searches hearts and minds and will reward all for what they do in the body, whether good or bad.

    Let us find ourselves rejoicing in adversity, thanking God for His toughest assignments, and receiving eternal rewards once we have ultimately “overcome” (see Rev. 2 & 3), rather than clicking our ruby slippers together wishing we were anywhere else.

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

Monday Morning Momentum Minute

It’s All About “Heem”

     This week at ONE TH1NG, Ron Dunn pointed out to a crowded room of men that in the first chapter of Genesis alone, God refers to Himself by one of His names “Elohim” [‘el – o – HEEM] over 30 times. This begged the question: if someone spoke to you for 5 minutes and mentioned one thing over 30 times, would you guess it was an important part of the point?

     In my life, I have a love/hate relationship with going backward. I love looking over old accomplishments, photos, seasons of change and seeing the progression of where I was and where God has brought me. Some things, I can’t stand going over again, like re-doing the same work that was done right in the first place or re-hashing a point that’s been beaten into the ground. But, God… But, God constantly refers us back to one thing over and over again throughout the Old and New Testaments: Him. Good thing – He’s the only all-powerful, strong creator, who knows all, and is all.

     Jesus clarifies errant teachings of the day repeatedly in the Sermon on the Mount using the construct “you have heard it said… but I tell you this:”, implying a sort of “you’ve lost your way” theme. When the Pharisees try to trick Jesus about the nature of divorce and remarriage, He reminds them “but it was not this way from the beginning… (Mt. 19.8)” John even uses the phrase “from the beginning” about 10 times in his gospel and letters.

So, What?

     So, today, you will be tempted to forget who you are in Christ, by extension “whose” you are. You will be tempted to take over where God is “not doing His job” because sin is all about taking control of something God has already put into place.

Stop.

Remember.

Reset.

     He created the heavens and the earth. This alone could reset your life if you ponder it long enough – He who created millions of galaxies and illions and illions of stars, He is your “strong, powerful creator” (Elohim). Are you staying out of the Driver’s seat and letting Him be God? Where in your life are you refusing to “be still and know” that He is not just God, but the all powerful creator who made the heavens and earth, trillions of stars, yet calls you His own?

Be Encouraged

     When we take our eyes off of Him, He is always faithful and just and willing to put us back on track when we acknowledge His proper place in our lives. He IS our life. He promises us wisdom when we ask for it – generously and without coming down hard on us – (see James 1:5).

     May you walk with eloHim today in peace. May He keep you in perfect peace because you trust in Him.

Walking in Your Footsteps?

My son, Jezreel, walking in my sneakers.
Who’s walking in your footsteps? Watch
your step…

     This week, Jesse Whitfield is opening a discussion for men who dare show up at ONETH1NG, about “Battle Scars”. As these unique men carry on the next installment of a discussion series called “The War Within”, light has been shined on the fact that this is a weak point in a man’s armor and he dare not let his guard down in that area. As guys have opened up, many of us have come to grips with the ugly truth about porn – most guys have a past, a past they’d like to see stay exactly there. More sobering, regardless of the fact that we are new creations in Christ, as the Metallica song goes “the memory remains”.

     Many of the men have walked away from these discussions wildly encouraged by the power realized in them through the Holy Spirit and deeply edified by the knowledge that not only has “no temptation seized [them] but that which is common to man”, but also that God provides a “way out” and “battle buddies” who can help them to win every skirmish and ambush they face. Great news – this week, Jesse will talk about what to do with the pernicious memories that remain and maintaining moral purity at the core of a pornified culture that baits us to the edge. But, is this the end or just a means to an end?

     Wives’ note: you want your husband to be here. You need him to be here for the sake of his victory in this battle, your marriage’s longevity, and your sacred honor. Shy of that, you’re wise to
encourage him to stay in close, regular contact with guys who can lock arms with him and watch his back and blind spot.

     “Practical life application” is a major buzzword among churches and Christians who strive to be “relevant”. This discussion has been, by that definition, very relevant. But, one of the dangers that necessarily creeps in when that brand of Christianity stays “in the zone” for too long is an overemphasis on personal performance, rather than a focus on the sufficiency of Christ. That is, too much time spent on what the Christian does at the expense of what the Christ has done. Worse, when it stops at “my behavior” instead of “testimony of God’s work in my life to and for others” it falls far short of the reason Christ suffered and died for us all.

     As the setup goes for this week’s ONETH1NG: “What is at stake when we allow our past to creep into our present/future?” Further – who’s future is at stake? What is the impact of porn being so “normalized” in our culture on the next generation? Who is God discipling through your obedience?

     I hope you get a chance to join our discussion or join in at ONE TH1NG or with Seasons of Life as we walk with men and women just like you to “realign lives with the Way, the Truth, and the Life of Jesus Christ.”

in Him,

AP