What is Gospel-Driven Productivity?

If life on earth is just preparation for the new heaven and new earth, why would we spend so much time, money, and brainwidth on things that aren’t going to last and instead focus all of our efforts on building for a retirement that will never end?

What About the Mundane?

Yes, the oil needs to be changed, the conference table has a big scratch and needs replacing, and your middle child needs help on her math homework. But is there anything in this list that can’t be done out of a spirit of eternal responsibility, faithfulness, and stewardship? Am I the only one who sees the connection between present obedience and eternal rewards? When we look at the menial tasks of daily living, do we do them knowing God is watching and waiting to reward us for being productive in all things, large and small?

Don’t Efficiency and Effectiveness¬†Matter?

When it comes to productivity, I used to think only in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. But, if that’s where productivity ends, all I’d have wound up with are a lot of to-do lists converted to “to-done” lists. Gospel-driven productivity contains efficiency and effectiveness as elements, but the core of Clean Slate is not so much about getting more done in less time, rather being found faithful in the face of the Father.

The Aim of the Game

Jesus never told parables that ended in “well done, good and efficient servant”, did He? While Paul does command us to be fruitful or effective, God is the ultimate judge of what was effective or not. He will be the one to weigh both motives and outcomes and promises to reward us accordingly.

If we look at individual scriptures, we’ll find efficiency (Prov. 21:5, Eph. 5:15-16, Matt. 25:14-30, etc.). We’ll find effectiveness (1 Cor. 16:9, Philemon 1:6, Phil. 1.22, etc.). Heck, we’ll even find excellence & zeal, (Col. 3:23, Eph. 6:7) right? But, I believe if we comb the entirety of scripture, we’ll see something much more sizeable, significant, and simple as we seek God’s definition of productivity. Here’s my definition from a biblical perspective:

Gospel-driven productivity: Right things, done well, in God’s power and timing, for His glory.

Productivity happens when faithful followers take extreme ownership of the stewardships God has entrusted to them and in gratitude for what Christ has done and will do (2 Cor. 5:10), work diligently at them. It involves everything that comes across our desk, our phones, our inboxes and beyond.

What are you doing regularly at work, at home, and elsewhere to ensure you’re doing right things well in God’s power and timing and for His glory?

You Ought to Know

Great commission. Very simple – “Go, and make disciples.”

So, almost 10 years ago, we went to work on that as a public ministry of discipleship – encourage, rebuke, exhort, build up, wipe out the lies with the truth of scripture and watch people walk away a little more like Jesus. Less distracted by the world, the flesh, and the enemy that hates them… and a tighter focus on the Kingdom of God.

Help others get on track and stay on track with God’s plan for their lives.

That’s the job description. No pressure, right? ūüôā

Why Press Pause? What Does That Mean?

It only took me 10 years to finally admit the following: to help others win the battle against distraction, I need to eliminate the biggest distraction of all – our very flawed funding approach of operating at 20-30% and “trusting God with the rest”. Over the years, that approach has worn me and a lot of people around me out. I recognized I needed to change that, but, it would mean pressing pause on all the things I love to do that God called us to do!

You may have heard that last month, we pressed pause on all ministry activities – no That Day’s, no Clean Slate’s, no discipleship, until we get one big project out of the way: stabilize the monthly support for the ministry at large once and for all.

Whatever God Wants, Whenever He Chooses…

Then last week – a week where most ministries (historically, us, too) are in the pit when it comes to summer funding – we have this crazy gift that came our way… a pledge!¬†While we need about $6,800 for the remaining programming for August, we now have a whopping $2,500 challenge match at a time of year when matching funds have never been plentiful! Insane! Praise God!!!

What That Means:

First, a matching challenge means if you donate a hundred bucks, we get a matching hundred bucks – effectively doubling your impact. Second, once all of the August need is met ($6,800), I can quickly and completely shift my focus to one thing: running fast and focused for the entire month of September toward getting the ministry’s regular monthly support raised up to a much more sustainable level. That is a hill worth taking because it will help me be more effective at helping others be more effective.

Your Role?

Would you pray about this over the week? Pray about helping us position this ministry to make maximum impact for 2017 and beyond. Pray about how God would use you to impact people wherever He sends us and beyond. Then, give online or via mobile right here.

 

***Update: the matching gift is applicable to all giving done up to Friday, August 25th.

Situation Report: Prayers for Cristine

Thanks & Complications

Thank you, to all who have prayed or are praying for Cristine! Here’s the official update, complications, and addendum to prayer request:

Last week’s surgery was a success. Pain dropped¬†significantly within a couple of days. Yesterday, however, she awoke extremely early, due to¬†momentous¬†pain. No, more than that… After a ride to the hospital and an ultrasound, doctors discovered an ovarian cyst (formed when an unfertilized egg, which normally disintegrates and passes with the monthly cycle, forms a fluid-filled sac). It had ruptured, causing a tremendous pain surge. They also confirmed two more things: this is entirely unrelated to last week’s surgery¬†and the cyst had a much larger big brother waiting to explode in the wings. Fun, fun, FUN!

What Do You Do For That?

They explained we’d need an appointment with an OB-GYN, but ovarian cysts are a “wait and watch” phenomenon: wait on it, watch it, and if it ruptures, just come back to the hospital immediately. Doesn’t that sound a lot like “Here… sit on this landmine and call us if it blows up”? Pain level: 7 of 10.

Fast forward to this morning, roughly 5:30 AM… Cristine alerts me that the pain woke her up, danced a jig on her face, and hog-tied her to a wagon wheel. Level: 9 of 10. Back to the hospital, this time without the fancy ambulance ride. Happy Independence Day? The pain¬†eventually bumped to 11 of 10. Loud screaming and flailing. Not a graceful affair. With good reason… see below.

Scans & Results

Today, after a harrowing ride through the CT scan (or “70 Seconds through the Donut of Doom” as we call it), the new doctor confirms: surgery will be required to remove at¬†least the cyst and quite possibly a couple of personal parts. With one OB-GYN and 6 babies to deliver, we could be in for a long day.

Presently, she’s admitted to the surgical floor, resting on pain meds, and being prayed for by dozens of Facebook readers and friends. Oh, and pretty flippin’ thirsty. Can’t eat or drink with surgery impending.

Prayer Points:

  • Pray the doc gets a break¬†very soon and can perform the appropriate surgery for Cristine.
  • Pray that if God’s perfect will is something other than emergency surgery that we find out about it ASAP.
  • Pray for a¬†successful surgery, swift and thorough recovery, and God to use this to impact whoever He has ordained to impact.
  • Pray for continued favor for our kids, who have been lovingly and awesomely cared for by a few families from recent small groups.
  • While you’re at it… Pray for Bekah James, daughter our friend, Chris
    • Bekah was hit by a truck yesterday, car totaled.
    • Has several¬†fractures:¬†pelvis, left hip socket, and one on her spine.
    • Brain hemorrhage has stopped, regaining some memory of the incident.
    • Expected hospital stay 4-6 days.
    • Rehab expected 6-8 weeks.
  • Pray for me. I had plans to meet with several people over the week regarding this ministry’s mission and helping to fund it at a very crucial time. Those meetings will have to be put off a bit, but appropriately so.

UPDATE: 8 PM

Surgery was quick, efficient, and successful. THANK YOU, for all of your prayers. Clearly, the Lord heard them and delivered!

The surgeon removed a grapefruit-sized cyst from Cristine’s abdomen. Because of her recent hernia surgery, the typical laparoscopic route was not possible, so a small incision had to be made. This means muscle and pain recovery times will be a bit… longer.¬†

So, pray for complete and swift recovery, praise for all God has done with keeping our kids safe, peaceful, and well entertained in Mommy and Daddy’s absence. We look forward to a nice, chill weekend at home this week with a prayerful week of back to work (and Mommy back to bed!) next week. Your prayers for fruitful ministry on both parts are greatly appreciated.

Clearly, this summer, the Lord is reminding us that often the most pressing ministry is our private ministry. Praise Him for the grace to turn our attention there and be fully present with significance and grace.

in Christ,

AP

Staff Update: Prayers for Cristine

This week, Cristine went in for outpatient surgery to repair an umbilical (belly button) hernia. Many of you received the “calling all prayers” email and prayed like crazy. She and I wanted to thank you for your prayers. Today, I wanted to give you a quick update on her situation.

First off, the procedure went great. Dr. Goehring, who had done her previous surgery for gall bladder removal 2 years ago, led the team. In his opinion, Cristine is in phenomenal health and was a dream patient as far as this procedure goes. Having lost and kept off 75 lbs over the past couple years, this type of surgery is more often on people whose weight puts them in greater danger of complications. While it took her quite a while to come out of unconsciousness afterward, it was pretty well uneventful surgery.

Upon leaving the hospital yesterday, Cristine had all the pain that should be expected after such a procedure. On a 1 to 10 scale, she commented “it’s about a 4-5 when I’m sitting or laying down. But, standing? About an 8.” As of this morning, on minimal sleep, her pain level is down to a 2-3 when sitting or laying, but still about a 7.5 when standing.

Our goal today is to get her some uninterrupted sleep for a few hours, push fluids, and get her some experience standing and walking. Your prayers are greatly coveted for a swift and thorough recovery.

The ONLY Productivity Exercise That Matters

If you’re into productivity and getting things done, this is going to sound like the strangest exercise, ever. I get it. But, humor me because as I read the scriptures, it’s the only productivity exercise that matters.

You will need about 2 minutes and your to do list or calendar for this exercise. Before you begin, let me give you the essential backdrop for it:

What Does Matter?

One day, we will each¬†come before Jesus. Here, I’m specifically referring to those who are “in Christ”, saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. We will be rewarded for the things we did while living here in the body. Here, for the first time, we will know the true measure of our earthly productivity from the only¬†perspective that matters: God’s. See 2 Cor. 5:10. We call this the bema (BAY-muh) seat judgment. While we don’t exactly know what how it will go down, we know that it will go down.¬†Some will hear the word “welcome”. Others will hear “well done”.

Exercise, Part 1:

Look at today’s to-do list and/or calendar, reading each item and appointment briefly. Imagine you accomplished everything on the list and met every appointment on your calendar. Imagine at the end of that day, everything you’d hoped to accomplish was not only checked off the list, but also¬†catalogued in detail in the book of your life. From this book, you will account for what you accomplished – see Romans 14:12.

On that particular day, you die and appeared before Christ to account for everything He just recorded in the book of your life. You received some rewards for things done well and experienced loss for some things you did out of selfish motive, but you’re still saved and you’ll still spend eternity with Him. Suddenly, heaven disappears and you’re back here at the beginning of that day with your list and calendar. The day has just begun – and I sit down across the table or desk from you. “So, what did you see?” I ask. Could you tell me at that point?

Exercise, Part 2:

The prophet Daniel details a vision of standing before God. It’s a vision of national judgment, not personal, but gives us valuable insight regarding what it will be like to stand before God. Before you tell me about your encounter with Christ, you need a picture of what you’re about to describe to me. It’s crucial that you read this in a very specific way:

  1. Stare wide eyed as if looking off into space. (I know, weird, but you’ll understand why in a moment.)
  2. Read this in a whisper as if you’re telling me every stunning detail of what¬†you actually saw with your own eyes just before being¬†called to account for your life:

    As I looked,
    “thrones were set in place,
        and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
    His clothing was as white as snow;
        the hair of his head was white like wool.
    His throne was flaming with fire,
        and its wheels were all ablaze.
    A river of fire was flowing,
        coming out from before him.
    Thousands upon thousands attended him;
        ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
    The court was seated,
        and the books were opened. (Dan. 7:9-10)

  3. NOW… Look back at your list. Glance at your calendar. Is there anything on either that you don’t want to have to account for in front of the God you just described to me? Not because you don’t feel like doing it, but because you know our time on earth is short and if you invest time in doing that activity it will steal time away from something more important that the Christ you just described has called you to do?
  4. Eliminate what does not line up with this judgment. You know you have responsibilities. You know there are pleasant distractions you’d like to follow. But, you know there’s only so much time and you… will… receive rewards or suffer loss… (1 Cor. 3:12-15) in front of… the God of the universe – Ancient of Days (El Olam!!!) – seated on a flaming throne, attended by millions, aware of every detail of your life… longing to reward you with a “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

One day, we’ll all be called home. And, that’s great news because we’ll spend forever worshiping Christ. But, He promised rewards, detailed rewards, and commanded us to store them up in heaven (not for our glory, but to His). If we’ll spend forever enjoying Him and the rewards He’s given us (to which some would add “enjoying Him in proportion to the rewards attained”), why would we waste what little time we have here on things that will turn to ash at the bema seat?

Eternity is the only proper base line for temporal productivity. That’s the connection between That Day and Clean Slate. You’re going to be judged for everything you do. Make sure what you do is worth judging.

Now, go. Be eternally productive.

in Christ,

AP

Mission Trip Report: Geico Land?

As March came to a close, Seasons of Life Ministries packed all of our gear into a big truck and made a 4 hour journey to Tennessee!

Coincidence?

Pastor Bill Requardt has been leading a growing church through 2 years of transition and invited us to bring the live parable “That Day” to his church. West Hills Christian Church is a small denominational church on the Tennessee/Virginia line. In fact, Bristol¬†is featured in this Geico Commercial: whether you live in Bristol, TN or Bristol, VA you can save a lot of money by switching to Geico.

Universal Story Geico Doesn’t Know…

Both Pastor Bill and I agreed: whether you live in Bristol, TN or Bristol, VA you can save a lot of waste at the judgment seat if you’re living every day with eternity in mind. So, it was fitting that the latest rewrite of the That Day script opens with main character Dan Matthewson telling his story in terms of 3 words – “‘why‘ are you here?”, “‘what‘ do you do about that?”, and “‘how‘ do you do what God’s called you¬†to do along the way?'”

With pews that haven’t been this crowded in years, the Sunday, April 2 church service opened with worship leader Dani Gibson singing “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and Dan Matthewson, Joe the Shoeshine Guy, Juanita the Cleaning Lady, and eventually Jesus Christ taking the spotlight… and the judgment seat. Not only did I get to play all of the above characters (and more), I also got to watch the crowd’s reactions in real time. There were smiles, laughs, tears, a few elbows and pokes, and many pensive looks of introspection. By grace, viewers¬†were clearly moved.

Based on our conversations afterward, some were also awakened and motivated to live more intentionally for Christ’s kingdom, rather than their own. Big win. Praise God.

“We really were uplifted!!!! Thank you for Blessing us!!”

Mission – Invest & Invite

West Hills brought us to Tennessee in order to create some buzz and a big event to which their members could invite people. Pastor Bill, his wife Holly, the elders, and members were diligent in inviting people from the surrounding community. From where I stood, I could see about 30-35 new guests attending Рwith a church that typically runs about 100-120 attenders, it sounds like this was a very successful outreach.

An Investment in Prayer

Here’s how you can¬†pray for West Hills Christian Church:

  • that¬†many of the guests who came to see That Day return,
  • that many of the returners come to saving faith in Christ and
  • that all begin to really connect the dots between their days and that Great Day (2 Cor. 5:10, 1 Cor. 3:12-15, Rom. 14:10).

Our Hope Forward…

This year, we hope to reach 10,000 people with the message of “living every day with eternity in mind.”

That Day is “step 1” in that process: engaging eyes and ears with the story of eternal rewards – it’s about why each of us is here living from Point¬†A (birth) to Point¬†B (judgment). It’s¬†mission/purpose/destination.¬†Once people start thinking about why they’re here, it’s time for the second question: What?!

Part 2 of That Day is Clean Slate – either a conversation, a live workshop, series of webinars, or even leader training on “what do I do with what I now know about where I’m headed?” Clean Slate dives into God’s order, the nature of work and accountability to God for that work, two sections on neuroscience for dummies, and a comprehensive workflow process that helps people develop a plan or roadmap between point a and b.

Part¬†3 is a deeper dive into “how” each individual’s¬†time, treasure, and talents apply to walking that path from point A to point B.¬†It’s¬†where coaching and discipleship have always come into play. For nearly 10 years now, we’ve been focused on “thinking out loud” with others in one on one discipleship about their walk with Christ.

Spread the Word!

We’d love your help to move this forward – prayer, share, and support:

Prayer – Pray that God opens doors with those who’ve seen That Day and we’re invited to do more of this kind of engagement. Pray that Aarron continues to refine the story and tell it well.

Share – help us get as many eyes and ears on the That Day teaser video as possible. Share it on your social media channels.

Support – join Seasons of Life Ministries as a monthly partner and help bring That Day and Clean Slate to churches and organizations who value the alignment of vision, strategy, and execution and who want to make the right impact for God’s kingdom and glory. Setting up the next That Day Leader’s Lunch only costs us a few hundred dollars – maybe you’d like to help sponsor one? Click or tap here.

3 Steps to Victory Over Tyranny of the Urgent

What’s Killing YOUR¬†Productivity?

As more people come to me for advice on productivity, the most common issue I’m asked about is this:
‚Äúurgent things keep intruding on important things‚ÄĚ a.k.a., ‚Äúdistractions & interruptions‚ÄĚ
My best response is God’s response:
‚ÄúBe sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds. (Prov. 27:23a)‚ÄĚ
Not the answer¬†you were looking for?¬†I’ll elaborate…

Meet Your Sheep

You’ve got stuff to do… That’s your flock.

You may not have actual sheep like Solomon’s audience 2,500 years ago. But, you do have a flock of¬†‚ÄúP.R.I.O.R.”¬†commitments: Projects, Responsibilities, Ideas, Opportunities, and Relationships.¬†For these God will¬†hold you accountable and reward you (2 Cor. 5:10). Therefore, “knowing the condition of your flocks and giving careful attention to your herds” is of critical importance to you.

Gut Check:

Some translations even render this phrase ‚Äúbe diligent to know the state of your flocks‚ÄĚ. ¬†So…
On a scale of 1 to 10, how diligent are you right now in knowing your state of flock?

Pray for April Fools Day!

Aarron Pina playing “Dan Matthewson” from the recent Dawsonville performance of “That Day”.

This year, Seasons of Life Ministries is on the road and praying big: praying God’s will is to¬†reach 10,000 people with the idea of “living every day with eternity in mind”. So far, He’s helped us reach over 500 with that message, locally. In January, about 100 people clamored in to Holy Trinity Christian Church in Alpharetta for our first 2017 performance and another¬†500 at Christ Fellowship Dawsonville, GA the following weekend!¬†As of last week, we’re gearing up for the next leg of Mission Trip, USA!

On April Fool’s Day, we’ll be at West Hills Christian Church for what may turn out to be an “open tech rehearsal” (opportunity for press and invited guests to preview the performance). Sunday, April 2nd, West Hills Christian Church has invited us to bring That Day to their Sunday service at 10AM!

I’d sure appreciate your prayers for a captivating and transformational performance. Pray big – Pastor Bill Requardt has planned this very special event two weeks before Easter in hopes of drawing hundreds of new and unchurched people to the cross on Resurrection Day.

If you know someone in the Bristol, Sevierville, or Kingsport, TN (or even the western Virginia area), please SHARE the That Day info with them so they can see the 90 second teaser video, invite some friends, and begin seeing every day from an eternal perspective!

Webinar, Take 2!

So… Last Week?

We had great content, great traffic and a HUGE technical malfunction that left a lot of you hanging – THANK YOU, for your patience!

This week, if the Lord wills, we’d like to give you another opportunity to answer the question “How can I make every day count?”

  • If you registered last week, all you’ll need is a Firefox or Chrome browser and this link. (NOTE: This link will not “go live” until Thursday. Try it before then and you will get an error message. Just showing you some technological love…)¬†
  • If you haven’t registered, it takes less than 60 seconds – tap here.

Martin Luther is often quoted:

“there are only two days on my calendar: today and that day [we come before Christ].”

Two Needs Worthy of Your Prayer and Participation

Here’s a quick note on two special needs for Seasons of Life that are pressing and promising:

Bring That Day to the Kineo Leader’s Conference:

     This is a conference for church leaders where I will have opportunity to bring That Day directly to our target market Рpastors who want to see their people more engaged in living everyday with eternity in mind.
¬† ¬† ¬†They represent churches from 7 states including IN, LA, VA, and GA. This could be very big for the kingdom and for Seasons of Life. Funding this will allow me the bandwidth to bring my A game to pastors really dedicated to kingdom building. In order to provide this special P/R performance for them at no additional burden to their respective churches, we’re inviting you, our key supporters to contribute to bringing That Day to their day.
¬† ¬† ¬†Could we do it for free as a “marketing write off”? Sure, under normal circumstances, but right now it’s just not financially feasible to do much pro bono work until things really stabilize later in the quarter. So, we’re praying a few people might band together to help “prime the pump” with us. Would you be one of them?

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GTD Training, Atlanta

¬† ¬† ¬†I’ve been practicing a lot of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD) methodology for a little over 10 years now and teaching key pieces of it for a few years through Clean Slate.
¬† ¬† ¬†GTD is the gold standard for personal productivity training and in 2017 will be in cities including Mumbai, Edinborough, Dublin, Tokyo, and… Atlanta. They will sell out and I only get one chance to get their certification before they’re off to another city.
     Their blessing (and branding) could open a ton of new doors for us with our Clean Slate workshop, not only in churches, but also in businesses. Your help in getting me there in part or in full would be greatly appreciated.
     The training is $600 and will (always does) sell out.
¬† ¬† ¬†I’d love for you to pray about helping us with these two specific opportunities as urgent and important needs. To give, use our online portal here.
 

in Christ,

AP