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That Day: Warm Welcome Despite Cold Weather

Dirt Road Disciples worship band

Cold Reception?
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.

Pastors Marty & Jamie Dunkerly and us at Set Free Church

Great Set Up,
Greater Impact

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.

 

Friends, new and old, visited Set Free for a That Day performance

Thanks, to our friends and fans who made the drive from Gainesville and Cumming, to Heaven’s Saints Motorcycle Ministry, Set Free Church and Dirt Road Disciples!

 

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 – 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).

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/destinationOnce 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.

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!

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 – pastors 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?

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