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Not a Chance!
On the heels of the first December snowfall, Sunday morning’s thermometer read 27°. Snow & black ice battered and threatened families in Dawson and surrounding counties. Some still had no electricity. We half expected a half-empty, chilly sanctuary for this Sunday’s “That Day” performance…
Instead… over 200 people from Gainesville, Cumming, Suwanee, Cleveland and beyond filled the room to around 80% capacity – WHOA! Further, our whole family was SO warmly welcomed by the Set Free Church family. It was amazing! We had heard the Dirt Road Disciples (pictured, left) play before, but they really kicked it into high gear with the worship set, including the 70s classic “Spirit in the Sky”, “Amazing Grace/Chains are Gone”, and “Where I Belong”. Set Free was originally founded as a biker church in Dahlonega, but has grown into a thriving family congregation with a wide outreach.
Great Set Up,
Dressed in a business suit, Dan Matthewson doesn’t exactly “fit in” with the leather jacket, biker boot, and Carhartt wearing crowd. His opening line is a bit curt. After Thursday’s dress rehearsal, the pastor’s son, “Tank” Dunkerly highly recommended no segue between worship and the opening line of the show. Since Pastor Marty Dunkerly (pictured, left) agreed and hadn’t given the church at large a heads-up about the play beforehand, the crowd was perfectly set up for a shock. The potential culture clash and abrupt opening presented a fantastic opportunity to capture and hold the crowd’s undivided attention with the unexpected tale of Dan Matthewson coming to the judgment seat. And, it paid off.
Scott Biddulph, church member and editor-in-chief at Two Drops of Ink, later commented on the surprise opening:
“…to be transparent, at first I thought, ‘Here we go, [Pastor] Marty’s done brought some yuppie speaker into our church’ (laughing), but when he got going, it was such a powerful message.”
Later, he also said,
[That Day] “reminded me that the little things in life, the prayers, taking a moment to love on someone who needs love, to listen to somebody who needs to be heard, to hug somebody that needs a hug, and so many other things that remind me of what Jesus meant when he said, ‘What you do to the least of these, you have done unto me.’ Our father is so loving, merciful, and penetrating with his Holy Spirit. Praise the mighty name of Jesus.”
Another attendee commented:
Lots of things he spoke on hit me hard…balancing my daily routine has been thrown into the pit of hell these last few months and to be honest it has caused many many problems emotionally, physically etc.. I honestly have become so bitter to others it’s overwhelming..I’m just ready to be back normal…” – D.W.
Associate Pastor Sandy Reece (pictured, right)pointed out
“It makes me look back and think ‘there are some places my walk could be tightened up with Jesus’. I mean, even as a pastor… [we all need to keep our] eyes on eternity.”
In the play, a character named Mickey explains the gospel to Dan Matthewson through a thick, iconic New Jersey accent. Ministry professional Casey Sanders from Men Step Up called it “pretty idiot-proofed… the clearest presentation of the gospel I’ve ever heard.” Praise God.
These are just indicative of the reaction this story brings. We were so honored to share this story with Set Free Church and grateful for any chance to help others live every day with that Day in mind. A look at life from the judgment seat is setting people free from the disappointments, disillusionment, and drudgery of living in a Genesis 3 world and resetting their eyes on the eternal glory that awaits us all in His presence!
A Unique Point of View?
As the performer, I have the blessing of being able to see the crowd reaction from the stage, for nearly the entire 75 minutes. People were visibly moved by thoughts of what it will be like to witness our lives as we account for them before Jesus. There were plenty of laughs (even from Bulldog fans, when the “Go, Yackets” line played!), lots of wide eyes and pensive looks, and plenty of heartfelt tears. The menfolk would have you note this: many of the women cried, too! 🙂 Thoughts were provoked, eyes filled, hearts moved, and many came to the altar at the end for prayer.
To God be the glory for it all. (Including the fact that I pinched a nerve in my lower back the night before while lifting a bin of That Day hoodies! God alone sustained me through seventy-five minutes of jarring, unpredictable back pain! Let’s hear it for the healing power of prayer!)
We’re so grateful for the opportunity to share this story with the body of Christ in this part of North Georgia. We look forward to whatever God has next for That Day. If you’d like to help bring That Day to your church or other organization, reach out to us online here.
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!
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.
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 – with 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).
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.
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!
As a ministry, it appears we’ve turned a God-ordained corner in 2016. The year before, we were committed to walking away from Seasons of Life Ministries for a time. But, once we made that commitment, it appears God opened up new doors. So, we walked through them.
Cristine gave her first women’s conference talk for a retreat in Norfolk, VA. Aarron spent several months on a part time job a few days a week while here in Cumming, but also gave Clean Slate leader training to local leaders and earned his Evernote Certified Consultant designation! (For more on how he uses and optimizes Evernote, email him at aarron at zeroinbox.org.
Today, we have two That Day performances already on the books for January with a third in the works for March. With very little effort poured into publicizing our app (Stay in the Word), we’ve reached over 50 mobile devices and are taking a very low key approach to it so we can focus on keeping the main thing the main thing.
Lessons learned: when we take our hands off God’s work and let Him be God, our plans fail and His succeed wildly.
Over the past 2 years, Cristine and I have lost a combined total of 130 lbs. and are compiling video to create a series on how we did it. Ultimately, it comes down to stewardship of the body, obedience to God, and the three words that God consistently pops up on our radar: vision, strategy, and execution. Short version: God has radically transformed the way we look at food, our bodies, and stewardship.
While I have several blog post ideas in the works on each of these 3, my goal is to release them only as time permits, in order to keep the main thing the main thing: That Day, Clean Slate, and Discipleship/Coaching.
If you’ve ever wondered what this ministry is about, I’ve compiled a simple document that explains what we’re about in those three words. You can download it here: SOLM Ministry Model.
So, How Did It Go?
Year end giving is always surrounded by uncertainty – did we send out enough information, soon enough? too much information, too late? will regular supporters stay on?
This year, the books closed on 2016 with only a few thousand dollars “in the red” and some surprise gifts large and small coming in right down to the wire. If you were one of those year end supporters – THANK YOU.
As it became clear the ministry work demanded all of me after my family and not after family and the part time job, I gave appropriate notice and we’re living back out on faith and faith alone so as to maximize my efforts toward the family and That Day, Clean Slate, and Coaching/Discipleship. After our first That Day Leader’s Lunch yielded great fruit, we discovered that God might make it distinctly possible to reach 10,000 people this year with the message of “living every day with eternity in mind.” Until He says differently, we’re joining Him in that pursuit!
If you see value in helping us to help others, please consider us in your regular monthly giving. We need about 5 more regular supporters to join us at $125-200 per month to keep us fully available where we are needed most: partnering with others to keep God’s main thing their main thing.
Click here to join us in that effort.
- On Sunday, Oct. 2, Aarron will be speaking at the 10AM service at Holy Trinity Christian Church at 5000 McGinnis Ferry Rd., Alpharetta, GA.
- The following Friday, Oct. 7, Cristine will be speaking at a Women’s Conference in Norfolk, VA details, TBA.
- THAT DAY will be presented in full at Holy Trinity Christian Church’s 10AM service on Sunday, October 16th!
- And, our very first That Day Preview Lunch:
At noon on Thursday, October 20th, Midway Community Church (Alpharetta) will be hosting an invite only event for pastors, church leaders, Sunday school teachers, and retreat organizers. Space will be very limited for this event and catered lunch will be served along with an abbreviated performance of That Day.
If you know a pastor, teacher, organizer who strives to increase engagement in their church or circle of influence – wake the dead and reach the lost, That Day can help!
Share this web page with them and we’ll try to get them added to the guest list before the registration closes.
That Day Hits the Road
On August 4th, our family and ministry packed up and headed for a few days’ break at a friend’s place in Pigeon Forge, TN. Once vacation was over, we repacked and headed for Virginia, where we prepared for our very first outdoor performance of “That Day: a Story of Great Rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ”!
Pastors Reuben and Pam Lockridge spent great effort and time organizing “The Called: a Revival” at the Bull Run Memorial Park outdoor theater. Despite sweltering August heat, over 100 people from at 8+ churches from Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia united for a day long event of prayer, preaching, worship, repentance, and celebrating the name of Christ. There, I got to perform That Day for all in attendance.
Digging Past the Surface
When you perform a one man play, you’re going to get a lot of surface “WOWs” about the performance itself like “Wow, how’d you memorize 90 minutes of story?!” or “Wow, how do you do all those voices?” But, digging past the comments about what people saw, you may find more exciting comments about how people were changed, like “Wow… I haven’t been thinking about eternity anywhere near as much as I ought.”
As a performer, consultant, and personal pastor these are the kinds of comments I look for to see if the play is on track; the kind of feedback that isn’t about me and my effort, but what God is up to through His efforts.
I’m used to giving people a “wow”, but this feedback email made ME say “wow”…
I’m out at work a lot when my wife is teaching the “academic” part of our homeschool curriculum. But, part of homeschooling our children is simply being on mission to spot teachable moments and helping them connect the dots between what they observe and what God has already said in the word. You can’t schedule that. You have to wait for it… patiently.
Sometimes, strategy and execution get out of line with vision and we need to course correct. Other times, God frustrates our plans to give us a broader or more detailed look at the vision He’s crafted for us. He changes the map, yet keeps us on course with His planned destination; or zooms out to reveal that our timing and His timing are two different things… God calls us to connect the dots. But not at the expense of the bigger picture.
Long Day, Weary Driver?
We’re driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains on our way to Tennessee – it’s a stretch of winding, mountain road of tree tunnel, speckled with pull offs where gaggles of tourists like us stop to take selfies in front of God’s majestic mountain scenery. A 7 year old mind behind me, Presleigh, breaks my concentration: “Daddy, when are we going to see deer or elk or moose?”
Who Said “Slump”?!
For some, the term “summer slump” is that painful period when their baseball team goes on a long losing streak. The Red Sox are only a game out of 1st place right now, so that’s definitely not what I’m writing about.
While many people get the beach, travel, and vacation bug this time of year, ministries and other non-profits often experience a very painful drop in support. With all that God has potentially put on our to do list right now, it would be a terrible time to bottom out financially. Fortunately, we have some good plans in the works – a paid That Day performance coming up in August (with the possibility of a second booking), plus some matching funds available in the meantime. You would help us accomplish the work if you help us capture the match.
They’re Overwhelmed, We Can Help
Even smart people, Christ following people, deeply committed people get overwhelmed. Jesus warned us it would happen.
If you’ve ever felt like there’s just too much to do and not enough time to do it, been over committed, or just felt outright overwhelmed by all you have on your plate, you’ve lived a life of “inbox full”. Helping people connect the dots between “why am I here/where am I going” (vision), “what do I do about it?” (strategy) and “how do I do THAT?!” (execution) is key to minimizing their stress and frustration.
That Day provides vision, Clean Slate develops strategy, and Discipleship and coaching clarify execution. Simple enough? My professional goal this year is to help “defrustrate” at least 5 individuals plus 3 organizations or groups, bring them to “zero inbox”, and help them stay there.
How We Plan to Help Them
To make that happen we need help, but we’ve done, are doing, or plan to do the following:
- we’ve unified some of our branding (free)
- have been approved by Google Apps for integration of our zeroinbox.org division [you can now email email@example.com, etc., seamlessly] (free)
- plan to migrate our entire site to a new, cleaner WordPress template ($400)
- are editing and developing our Clean Slate Workshop and Webinar materials ($unknown/time)
- we’re brainstorming about a pastor/leader’s lunch that gives pastors a preview of That Day and an opportunity to pray for the lost, the saved, and the confused. (For more on that, email me.)
- Be a Summer Slugger: need about 8 supporters at $25-50 a month and 6 at $75-150 for the summer.
- Swing for the Fence: Give a one time gift to help us capture a $500 matching gift this week and meet our $2,500 June need.
- Pick Your Spot: Make a planned donation for July or August to help us meet those upcoming needs.
To give online, click here.
Text to give by texting “seasons” to 77977 (they’ll send you a reply text, you tap the link, and set up from there – just remember, normal texting rates apply, but most people already have unlimited text).
Hey, thanks for reading, praying, and supporting this work!
Here’s a quick ministry update for you. Many of you may be seeing what God’s up to with us this year and wondering why, considering what happened last fall.
Let me clear up the confusion:
In September, 2015, following a major case of tunnel vision on my part, both Cristine and I were buried in stress, so we called a round table together to ask some prayed-up outsiders their feedback on the tension we were experiencing.
They listened prayerfully and replied as lovingly and bluntly as we’d asked. Their conclusions were:
- “You’ve been faithful with the calling God had given you.”
- “You AND your wife are clearly exhausted.” and
- “Now is the time for you to lay this ministry down and pursue a full time job to bring stability to our financial situation.”
I felt like Abraham being asked to lay his son, Isaac, on the altar as a sacrifice. With deep grief, I obeyed their counsel.
That Day is an amazing, modern day parable about a man who comes before Christ to receive rewards for what he did with his life. (This is the “believer’s judgment” or “bema” as opposed to the “White Throne” judgment.)
The most poignant response I get from people who have seen this story is this: “I didn’t really have such a clear picture of what eternal rewards could look like.” Suddenly, they’ve magnified this simple truth: “I am called and accountable.” The next question that typically comes up is – “now, how do I minimize my losses and maximize the gains for Christ?”
Clean Slate is where we help tease out those ideas and bring clear, biblical thinking to bear on the day to day “to do” along the way. www.zeroinbox.org
This April, we’re excited to present two That Day performances at Greater Heights Baptist Church, here in West Forsyth, on Saturday, April 16th at 7PM and the Sunday morning 11AM service on the 17th. Following that, we will be presenting our Clean Slate – Gospel Driven Productivity workshop for staff and volunteers at the church. With some favor from God and GHBC, we may have room for a few invite only guests. Inbox me for details!
In the meantime, SAVE THE DATE, register for free seats, and keep us in prayer!
I look forward to seeing you on That Day!