“Der mentsh trakht un got lakht.” (Man plans, God laughs.) –Yiddish saying
Our Plans Meet God’s Curveball…
✍︎This year, we’d planned on 6 That Day performances and at least 3 Clean Slate Workshops. Clearly, God had a different vision…
Lockdown foiled those plans, but as it dragged on, we witnessed a social phenomenon in our neighborhood and among our “tribe”: anxieties, fear, isolation and relationship challenges were taking the spotlight and the magnifying glass.
Some may have predicted this. But, as work-from-home walking traffic in neighborhoods increased, we never imagined the spike we saw in crisis and family discipleship that flowed from “social distancing” among the people we encountered! Impromptu, biblical conversations about complex topics like better marital communication and homeschooling as well as simple conversations like “tell me about your faith” dominated our calendar all of a sudden.
It’s like God shouting “Stay put, I’ll bring the work TO you.”
As a result, we now know dozens of our neighbors and can pray for them by need and name. Glory to God, right?
Care ministry concepts we learned 15 years ago are bringing biblical truth to bear for women struggling with alcohol, single motherhood, training up children, husbands loving their wives (even when they feel like they’re working on top of each other because of impossible, unplanned work-from-home situations). One on one has gone through the roof, Zoom calls, prayer calls, all off the charts in 2020…
When’s the Next “That Day”?! As I talk with pastors and leaders, they DO sense people are itching for the “old normal” gathering for events and entertainment (like That Day), despite the ongoing fear fueled by the media. We were made by our creator for real relationships and restraining THAT is a herculean effort. THAT DAY will return… Then, here’s what you can do in the meantime:
With the many changes that have taken place in the marketplace, Christ-followers increasingly seek new ways to win their battle against distraction. The great news is, there are plenty of old, time-tested ways to defeat new challenges and Clean Slate can help. I personally envision a “Best Year Ever” workshop or webinar series sometime in December designed to help people make 2021 their most focused, mission-driven, chase-down-God’s-purpose-for-my-life year, ever.
If you’re interested in that, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, then take the free, 60-second productivity snapshot here to figure out how Clean Slate can help you get more done with less stress and greater intentionality in 2021.
Closing Thoughts: Ultimately, none of our plans matter if they’re not lined up with God’s will: prayer is the crucial link to our Lord, Redeemer, and the lover of our souls whose plans are… perfect.
4 Second Prayer Challenge: Each day on our prayer calendar is a blurb you can lift up to God in less than 4 seconds.PLEASE, make sure to download the October prayer schedule and take the 4-second challenge every day of October. Will you give it a try?
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.
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,
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 endfor 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
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.