The two words: “undiluted devotion”. Can you imagine your family and the families around you living every day with undiluted devotion to Christ? That’s the vision we’ve been called to.
The two families: “ours” and “theirs”. And, over the next two weeks, we invite you to partner with us to help these two families make those two words part of their daily reality.
Family # 1 is “theirs”. “They” are families recovering from infidelity, addiction, or divorce. Rough terrain. Right now, we’re in the thick of it with 4 couples whose families can either be shattered or shored up. I (Aarron) am meeting with several men whose daily desire is undiluted devotion with Christ, but need a “battle buddy” to help them navigate from “here” and “there”. Crisis Discipleship – one on one or couple to couple – is the way we help them walk out of “survive” mode and into “thrive” mode.
Our family… For 10 years, our family has relied on the support of people like you to help us reach people like them. We have 3 simple tools for freeing people from the distracted life – That Day, Clean Slate, and Discipleship. As a missionary family, we traveled from Dawsonville to Alpharetta to Tampa, Florida to put hundreds & hundreds of faces in front of That Day.
Next year, we hope to partner with dozens of pastors to bring That Day to thousands and thousands. We have individuals, couples, and families in need of continued Crisis Discipleship. And, we have dozens of pastors who could benefit from an extra 4 hours carved off their work-week overwhelm (Clean Slate). Your financial support will help make all of those things possible.
Right now, we have opportunities for people passionate about evangelism, discipleship, and pastoral care:
- Pastoral Care – $125 a month will scholarship one individual or one couple in need of financial assistance (see “Theirs”, above) as they recover from divorce, depression, debt, or all three. Your gift means a LOT to them and their families.
- Discipleship – help bring a Clean Slate Lunch & Learn to pastors struggling with personal productivity challenges from delegation to overcommitment to inbox overwhelm. $125 reaches 1 pastor and may help us disciple their leaders and members in Gospel-Driven Productivity.
- Evangelism – help bring That Day Leader Lunches to pastors seeking an extra tool in their toolbox for reaching the lost. $125 reaches 1 pastor and either hundreds or thousands of people who will be directly impacted by That Day.
For the next TWO WEEKS (roughly through year-end), we have a challenge match of about $5,000 pledged to reach our year-end need of over $15,000. So, if you give $1,000 it will be matched $1,000 and so forth.
Would you consider “adopting” a pastor or other person in your regular monthly giving for now and 2018? To give, download PushPay or tap here to give online through their secure, online portal.
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?
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? 🙂
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.
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.
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!
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Stare wide eyed as if looking off into space. (I know, weird, but you’ll understand why in a moment.)
- 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)
- 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?
- 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.
What’s Killing YOUR Productivity?
Meet Your Sheep
You may not have actual sheep like Solomon’s audience 2,500 years ago. But, you do have a flock of “P.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.