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).
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:
Support urgently – online or by check (see below)
Pray – for us to remain obedient in our calling and faithful servants with this opportunity
Share “Divided: The Movie” w/ friends
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 https://seasonsoflifeministries.org, and via mail at:
Seasons of Life Ministries, 2659 Freedom Pkwy., Suite 285, Cumming, GA 30041
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.
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.
If you’d like to join a few dozen faithful monthly supporters, click a below link to do so:
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!!!
Covered Up This morning, our young daughter, Presleigh, went outside with Mommy to water some flowers in our yard and tend the garden growing in several 18 gallon plastic bins we’ve planted. When I followed up on their work, I noticed there were a few leaves on a sweet potato plant that were turning yellow. Not cool. However, with just a single lifted finger, I was able to move the soil off the leaf and expose it to the sun again. Tomorrow, I expect to see that leaf thriving and in a few more weeks, producing.
After several phone calls and a bit of prayer, I finally got to meet “Alex”. He called us yesterday after searching the internet for ministries in this part of town. Frankly, I was skeptical even getting the call, as we’ve never had someone just “look us up” on the web like that. After his wife, had suffered a hernia, she missed a lot of work and found themselves in a very hard place. About a week ago, they found help from St. Vincent’s. He and his family of 3 had been put up at a local extended stay hotel for the week while they tried to get back on their feet. He seemed a little frantic when he called, explained his story, and asked if we could help.
I did a little asking. He did some more explaining. They had been covered by the soil of circumstance and turning a bit yellow, like my sweet potato leaves. But, there was still life in them. They still had hope – in the Lord, in the work they were already doing, and in the belief that with a few fingers lifted on their behalf, they would again see the same vibrant life my flimsy sweet potato plant is destined to produce.
Their Story: They’re both employed right now, her here in Cumming and him about 20 miles away at a fast food restaurant. With a 6 year old son, they alternate work while the other is watching him. But, because of her physical limitations and his time taking care of her while she was injured, their checks for this past week were about $60 each after taxes. Alex had already begun looking for work that would lower their gas consumption. For now, he’s remained faithful to his employer while battling the uncertainty of “how” God would bridge the gap between now and next paycheck.
“I’ve got to get to work today, but I just don’t know where the gas is going to come from to get me from Cumming to Gainesville and back…” A little soil, a little yellow, but a lot of hope on the horizon: today when we met, he was back from an interview for a second job, here in Cumming. He was completely overwhelmed and noticeably choked up when we handed him the gas card you supporters provided him. “When God does something for you [in Christ] that you can never repay, it’s just really humbling.” I was unsure whether the tears were because of what he knows in Christ or the gift he’d just received. Neither was he.
Thank you, to those who are helping.
We talked about faith, God’s ability to provide, and His amazing track record in “Alex’s” family up to now. With one eye looking up, he remembers God is faithful. But, with the other eye on the clock he knows that tomorrow morning at 11AM if he hasn’t paid for another week or even another day, they’ve got to move out of the hotel and into their minivan. Today’s interview went well – good chance he’ll get hired within the next few days. But, that doesn’t bring a paycheck in for another few weeks.
Speak Life: Speak Life is the part of this ministry that provides food for families like this in situations just like this one. It’s also the initiative designed to help people to recover financially, emotionally, and relationally from challenging seasons of life by bringing enough “sunlight” to their situation to help them thrive on their own again. As of this morning, Seasons of Life has about $140 in matching funds committed to raising funds to help Alex’s family get back on their feet. This means: for every dollar given to Speak Life this month up to $140, a matching dollar will go to help this family – give $10, they get $20. Give $140, they’ve got $280 – enough to buy them another week and almost enough time until their next paycheck(s) – this time, full week’s work of paychecks.
The cool part about this family is that when they discovered how deep the hole was that they were standing in, they looked up. They also “looked up” ministries and churches – members of the body of Christ that were designed to help people get up and over. They realize they can make phone calls, get interviews, fill out applications, and all the rest. But, ultimately, the outcomes and help is from the Lord.
Would you consider helping this family out on a deadline? Yes, gas cards are still a great gift to help them out. Food is taken care of. But, if you would consider them in your financial support – they would greatly appreciate it. If you or someone you know would be willing to take in a family of 3 for a few weeks or even a month, we can tell it will make a world of difference. In the meantime, we’re only $140 away from buying them the breathing room [or sunlight] of another week in their extended stay, but this is a pretty time sensitive situation. Help us keep them indoors.
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.