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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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/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.
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:
“urgent things keep intruding on important things” a.k.a., “distractions & interruptions”
My best response is God’s response:
“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds. (Prov. 27:23a)”
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 “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.
Some translations even render this phrase “be diligent to know the state of your flocks”. So…
On a scale of 1 to 10, how diligent are you right now in knowing your state of flock?