I’m Not Here to be an “I Told You So”

     Perhaps one of the most difficult lessons in this life is learning that people are going to do what they want to do despite godly counsel. Then again, I’m a father of four, so it’s bound to happen sooner or later, right? This month, I want to focus in on the importance of discipleship before it’s required and the implications it has on the turn of season from single to married. Bottom line(s), like my pilot friends will tell you “it’s better to be on the ground (single) wishing you were in the air (married) than to be in the air wishing you were on the ground”; and discipleship matters, especially when obedience is the result.

Watch Out for the Brick!!!
     My wife has such an interesting mix of spiritual gifts – a heart for pastoring, but a gift for exhorting. Not only is she street smart, but she’d got a direct line to the Father, who sometimes gives her inside information. Some might call it “word of knowledge”. Some would call it “prophetic”. I sometimes have to call it “spooky”. It’s especially spooky when she’s dead right about it.

     This week, I got to catch up with a guy that asked us for wisdom and counsel in a relationship he was pursuing. I was kind yet firm. I offered very little opinion and much scripture. Cristine… When she spoke, I thought I saw a brick come out of her mouth and hit the guy in the head. It wasn’t entirely gentle. Blunt, clear, and true, but ouch. I could see the guy squirm in his seat. I could also see, by the look on his face that my wife was right about what she told him.

Fast Forward

     Months went by and here I am sitting down with him again – heartbroken. What Cristine had shared with him was utterly accurate and painfully real. He and his wife were now struggling through deal-breaker after deal-breaker in their marriage and it looked like this could have been prevented if he’d taken the advice my brick-throwing bride had given him months earlier. This isn’t an article about how we’re so great and others need to bow down to our massive Hans & Franz sized biblical biceps. It’s about how great this week’s conversation went.

     See, this guy had married a wounded woman. I personally believe that when it comes to woundedness, “the tide goes out of the harbor as soon as you say ‘I do’.” Meaning that if you have junk in your harbor from past shipwrecks, it will become most visible after the altar, not before. Well, it’s low tide and their harbor is loaded with flotsam and jetsam: hurts, pains, fears, wrongs, unspoken expectations, minimized weaknesses… Since the wedding, wounds in her life had begun to consume her, him, and their marriage. Yet “Tom” was so steadfast. I absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, love the attitude of Christ this guy was wearing – he knew in the middle of fights, blow-ups, and tit-for-tat’s that he could not leave this woman even if she asked him to. This guy had studied the scripture and taken the time to think out loud with other guys in his life.

The Point?

   The point of the story is to update you on some of the great things God is doing in the lives of men and women willing to “seek [Him] with all of [their] heart(s) (Jer. 29.13)”. It’s also to provoke you to action.

Action Items:
1. Will you pray for “Tom” and his marriage? You don’t need to know his real name, God will get who you’re praying for, because He’s… well… omniscient.

2. Pass this article on to a friend of yours who’s in a great unmarried relationship. Pass it on to another friend who’s in a terrible unmarried relationship. Then, purposely don’t tell each friend which one you think they are.

3. If you’re engaged or in a serious relationship, contact your local church about their ministry to the engaged – don’t walk through the engagement process on your own – we didn’t and we’re thoroughly grateful for it. Don’t consider meeting with other couples who have been married for many years – do it. We did that, and still meet with them from time to time. It has been a vital part of our marriage growth curve. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm. (Prov. 13.20)”

Discipleship Update, Toby Mac, Moving Forward

Coral & Rory Martin

The Two Shall Become One Flesh
     As we’ve walked with a variety of men and women over these years, it’s been a unique pleasure to see the truth of God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit facilitate not only minor course corrections, but drastic transformation in their lives. Cristine has been meeting with Coral for the past couple of years and as a couple, we’ve been so impressed by the changes God has made in her life as she’s responded to Him in loving obedience. Rory Martin is a son of a pastor and a man whose heart beats for preaching, reaching the lost, and prison ministry. Aarron has been meeting with Rory for several months now. On May 14th, we witnessed an awesome step in a new direction as the two said their vows and were joined in marriage at a wedding ceremony in Cashiers, NC.

     We are incredibly excited to have a front row seat’s view into what God has been doing and will be doing in their life together. We know we’re not responsible for bringing the two together, but we know their marriage is a win for discipleship because these are two people chasing after God, transparent with their flaws, growing in their gifts, and wise enough to surround themselves with godly counsel. May the Lord bless them and keep them. We invite you to keep them in your prayers!

Toby Mac? …and Beyond!

     Last week, thanks to your generosity, Seasons of Life Ministries was able to send 5 middle and high school students to Gwinnett Arena to attend the Forward Conference, 2011. Over 12,000 students, leaders, and volunteers packed the arena to capacity to hear speakers from Jentezen Franklin to Judah Smith to Reggie Dabbs. Multiple Grammy Award winner Israel Houghton teamed up with Rory Comtois and Free Chapel’s worship team for a live recording session, Grammy and Dove nominated rapper Flame kicked it Jesus-style, PlanetShakers and Matt Redman brought worship favorites to life, but the clear favorite performances were by TobyMac, whose “Echo” will be echoing through the airwaves for the foreseeable future.

     Our students were not only impressed by the move of God in the arena through worship, but were moved and transformed by the speakers and the truth. One of them, a high schooler, placed his faith in Christ the very day after the conference! Praise the Lord and to those of you who give, thank you for making this possible. You’ve got 5 students whose passion for the Lord is growing wild! Next year, we hope to send even more students Forward – to the Georgia Dome. Rumor has it that attendance was so high this year, Gwinnett Arena will not be a large enough venue to host Forward 2012.

More Updates:
The Way Forward – Recap and Upcoming
Speak Life: She Got the Car, Her Mom Got a Future
Where Does it Hurt?