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 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:
This is the shortest distance we’ve been from the mark, ever. And this is for the quarter, not the month. Wow, praise GOD!
Summer is historically one of the driest “seasons” of the year for many non-profits and ministries like Seasons of Life, yet this!
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.
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 OldNew 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.
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.
Several years ago, God called us into full-time vocational ministry. As most fans of Seasons of Life Ministries already know, His call was a touch vague: “be available”. Most fans will also tell you this has allowed me a lot of room to get into trouble – overextended, wiped out, overcommitted trouble. However, last quarter – 4th quarter of 2011, it seems like (and I hope, this is in humility) both Cristine and I were in full agreement with what God wanted us to do, more importantly what He wanted us to not do. We did our best to stay out of His way.
In 2011, God used us to reach hundreds of people through one on one discipleship, couples discipleship, DivorceCare, DivorceCare 4 Kids, through existing environments like ONE TH1NG and Men Step Up, our Speak Life programming, and That Day production. This is pretty mind blowing to me as I type it, because while I know I’m a pretty high capacity guy, to see all of this done despite going through what we went through personally is clearly an act of God. Me? Not capable of all of that in one year. Him? Able to do abundantly more than all we could ever ask or imagine.
For Q4, our goal was God sent – “only do what I tell you to do”. We were able to train two leaders for ONE TH1NG and several more for service at FreeChapel for their DivorceCare and DC4K program. But, again, only by God’s grace and not because we’re anything special. Totally “a God thing”. Goal met. As we’ve heeded God’s call to do less stuff for greater impact, He’s seen to this kind of impact:
More important than the numbers is the depth of effect – to have a guy call me on the phone or text me to say “we need to get together” or “thanks, for your prayers” is a humbling honor.
To see a man who’s been in the word, active in his church, and obedient in the marketplace finally break through the wall of “prays regularly with his wife” is a milestone. To watch a woman respect her husband when he’s not being respectable so that he may be “won over
As we look at God’s mission for Seasons of Life “Realigning lives with the Way, the Truth, and the Life of Jesus Christ”, we saw a great ROM (Return on Mission) in last year – God repositioned Cristine to speak into the lives of women who’ve undergone emotional and physical abuse, struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and now is able to speak out boldly about how God has redeemed the abortion she had over a decade ago. God has widened her ability to minister to the broken because He’s God and “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8.28)”
God has called me to begin the process of duplicating myself – in a few unique ways, He’s begun to bring that process to fruition as we’ve released a few leaders to shepherd others in pastoral care and men’s ministry. Where that may lead through the use of technology and improvements in our Social Media strategy is entirely up to Him, but we stand just past the threshold of 2012 with our ears open and feet “fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of Peace”. What does that mean? We’re awaiting His next orders and you’ll hear about it both online and offline.