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Road Report, Part 1 – God Connects the Dots

“for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
(Matthew 6:8b)”

I’m out at work a lot when my wife is teaching the “academic” part of our homeschool curriculum. But, part of homeschooling our children is simply being on mission to spot teachable moments and helping them connect the dots between what they observe and what God has already said in the word. You can’t schedule that. You have to wait for it… patiently.

Sometimes, strategy and execution get out of line with vision and we need to course correct. Other times, God frustrates our plans to give us a broader or more detailed look at the vision He’s crafted for us. He changes the map, yet keeps us on course with His planned destination; or zooms out to reveal that our timing and His timing are two different things… God calls us to connect the dots. But not at the expense of the bigger picture.

Long Day, Weary Driver?

We’re driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains on our way to Tennessee – it’s a stretch of winding, mountain road of tree tunnel, speckled with pull offs where gaggles of tourists like us stop to take selfies in front of God’s majestic mountain scenery. A 7 year old mind behind me, Presleigh, breaks my concentration: “Daddy, when are we going to see deer or elk or moose?”

(more…)

5 Reasons You Should See “War Room”

war-room

Click here for official trailer.

First off, I’m a guy. I like movies where things blow up, cars turn into walking, talking robots, and good guys outwit the bad guys. Yes, one way I love my wife like Christ loved the church is to watch an occasional “chick flick” with her. But, as a Christ follower, I’m finding it increasingly harder to find movies where I don’t feel like I’ve violated my conscience or Psalm 101:3:

I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I will hate; they will not cling to me. (NIV 1984)

You’d think by 2015 there’d be tons of great, clean movies out there made by God following producers, wouldn’t you? Enter the Kendrick Brothers?

  • The church was abuzz when “Facing the Giants” came out. Great idea. Strong values. Cheesy acting. Wonky editing. Meh.
  • “Fireproof”. Kirk Cameron? Let’s give it a try. Umm… No. Good story. Kirk, not great. More slow acting… Help!
  • “Courageous”… Better, but not great. Come ON, guys!!!

So, imagine my mixed thoughts when I got invited for an advanced screening of “War Room” back in May. “Please, God, don’t let it be lame.”  Then again, free tickets. Having heard Priscilla Shirer speak a couple years back at Free Chapel one Sunday morning, I was willing to go give it a try since it’s her premiere on screen acting role. Plus, T.C. Stallings is a solid “man’s man”…

My Reaction?

Understatement of the Year: “War Room” is the Kendrick’s best film yet and every God fearing man needs to see it.

Here are my Top 5 Reasons You Need to See War Room:

5. Stallings did not disappoint (see clip below).
4. Alex Kendrick took a very bold and wise step to a smaller, supporting role, but
3. Priscilla Shirer carried the film on her shoulders with craft and strength. The movie is well worth seeing for her performance alone.
2. If you can get out of the theater without falling in love with Karen Abercrombie and you have ice in your veins. One thing I remember from my senior year in college “Audition Techniques” class: “Make ’em laugh and make ’em cry.” Miss Clara will bring you to your feet and your knees.
1. Last: the story. Focused, fervent, relentless prayer should be the starting point for any man, woman, or child once our heads come off the pillow every day. We have lost that in our culture. We have become (even in the church) utterly self sufficient in many ways. War Room doesn’t beat anyone over the head with “dude, you need to pray more or you’re a miserable Christian”. Instead, it makes a graphic wake up call that will inspire you to fight your tallest battles on your knees before God.

Here’s a Michael Jr. and TC Stallings scene from the movie. War Room releases Friday, August 28th with select, preview showings on Wed & Thurs the 26th and 27th throughout Atlanta. If you’re interested in preview screenings, contact me and I’ll connect you.

You’re Doing What?!

Catch-MeIf you’ve read scripture much, you know that God calls men to the most inconvenient or “impossible” obediences when it’s most… inconvenient and impossible.

Abraham…

Moses…

Nehemiah…

Jesus…

Peter…

You… Me.

But, these were giants of the faith with burning bushes, appearing angels, signs and wonders. I’m just a little guy with a really big question that needs to be answered, right now! This time no man’s answer will do. What do you do when only God has your answer, but the line goes… quiet? Wait on Him and get even “quieter”?

So, here I am. Quiet. Off the radar. Waiting. With a question only God can answer…

The scariest thing to hear from God when lots is happening and “everything” is at stake is “Be still”… for a week?! A big workshop ramping up, webcast publicized, finances tight(est), and the “summer giving slump” ahead. “Something has to be done on a deadline!!! God, this is work only I can do!

“Really? Did you make the world, Aarron?”

Some would say “do the next right thing”. But, if I were me sitting across from that guy, I’d remind him the wisest place for Elijah (at that specific, faith-shaken moment) was in the wilderness, in utter, Godward dependence – that if God is calling him to quiet his soul and wait, “Shh. Sit still.” I’d tell him that running from God is a place he doesn’t want to go. (See the book of Jonah…)

So, if you don’t hear from me by next Wednesday it’s not personal. It’s deeply personal… for me… to be still. I’m off the radar until then. Cleaning the slate. Pray for me, my family, the ministry. It looks like I’m about to step onto a high, narrow ledge by faith alone. I may find it was a lot wider all along and I was needlessly worried… Or, I may fall… only to be caught by the God who sent me. 

(I’d love you to think it’s as glamorous as the cliff diver photo above, but it’s really pretty terrifying. Thanks, for the prayers! – AP)

Discipleship Update, Fall – 2012

Seasons of Life Ministries Discipleship Update

Wherever You Go, You Bring You with You…
     Moving from Cumming to Gainesville, I thought I might discover a whole crop of men with new problems to drag to the cross. Nope. Today, I have one foot regularly in Alpharetta/Cumming and the other in Flowery Branch/Gainesville. Totally different demographics, right? But, the issues men face are the same – integrity in the workplace, trusting God in an “uncertain” economy, purity vs. pornography, “quiet time guilt”, loving our wives as Christ loved the church, addiction, and on and on. Every guy I sit down breaths and bleeds further evidence that “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. (1 Cor. 10:13)” While the issues are many, the solution remains singular – abiding in Christ.

     “My job goes back and forth from being terribly frustrating to the most enjoyable calling on earth. I watch men, though grown physically, “grow up” in their faith as God challenges them, tests, them, stretches them by His power. Sometimes, they succeed, sometimes… they… grow. But, growing in faith resembles growing in muscle like this: without breaking and tearing the fibers, the muscles never increase in capacity. Some of these guys, like me, have had to be “wrecked” by circumstance and God’s hand of discipline in order to grow. But, I see growth in them – I see Christ in them. Praise God.

My Addiction:
     This year, I’ve had many opportunities to say “no” to new things that have come up. Odd, while many are looking for work, I have an abundance. But, not all work is paying work and not all that we’re paid for is what we’re supposed to be doing. Case in point – me. I’ve recently begun managing my workflow differently and in the process discovered I had too many commitments. Good had become the enemy of God. Underneath the many commitments I had made to do this, be that, go here was a horrible addiction that had ruined my productivity in some of the key areas God had called me to. I was addicted to the approval of men and progress.

     With all the projects and subprojects I had going on, I had to dramatically improve my ability to say “no” to several “good things” in order to do the best I could at the “God things”. Now, this is a lesson I’ve been learning for several years now, but this summer was a major breakthrough and I’m witnessing clear productivity spikes as a result.

His Addiction
     I’m currently meeting with a guy who’s been battling an over the counter addiction and has been for over 7 years. He takes comfort in knowing that my addiction can be just as detrimental to my family as his can be to his, but knows that if God can sanctify me, He can do a great work in him, too. Watching this guy abide in Christ for 30 days, 60 days, and longer between relapses is remarkable. This week, it’s back to “day 7” again, but I can tell his prayer life and the one on one accountability of another Christian guy who has his back is a key component to his successes. Lasting life change is under way. Long term freedom is in the works.

The Solution:
     Abiding in Christ has always been the only solution to any problem. Drinking in the Word until people smell truth on your breath, receiving specific encouragement from men who know you well, accountability from godly men, and biblical comfort, rebuke and counsel are all elements that enhance our connection to Christ. More importantly, they help us plug back into the vine when we fall away. There is strength in numbers, especially when God + anyone = a majority.

Moving Forward – 2012 & the 2nd Half of our First Decade
     Wrapping up 2012 could look like this (unless God “calls an audible”): continued one on one discipleship, a step back from DivorceCare for a season (which is hard to step away from at a time when they’ve just updated all of their videos & curriculum!!!), leaning more heavily into a writing project involving interviews with over 50 men regarding their discipleship upbringing and/or their discipleship of the next generation.

     Next year, we’re offering a half day workshop on “Getting Things Done God’s Way” and will follow God’s prompting down that trail as He leads. “That Day” should see a new stage here and there over the next two years at least, and thanks to a very generous donation, we’ll be exploring video media over 2013 & 14 in an attempt to reach more people with out compromising impact or relationship.

How to Pray for Seasons of Life:
     Most often, when a guy is caught in the middle of addiction, those whom he has betrayed – wife, family, co-workers, friends – absorb the wound of betrayal and become embittered against him. I would ask all of you to pray for this guy and every guy who struggles with addiction as God helps them and their wives to resist the temptation (trap) to turn against each other, rather to stay united in prayer against the addiction.

     Pray for Seasons of Life as we do our best to stay out of God’s way and allow Him to grow, sustain, and use this ministry to impact the people and community around us. Pray for financial support as we’re in roughly the same place we are every year at this time – fully dependent on Him, praying for obedience, and making the need known.

That’s the story – thanks for reading it!

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