The title of my blog site is This Focused Center. It is taken from The Message translation/paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. “Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.” It is easy to lose focus amid the normal whirlwind of every day activity in and through a local church. It is easy, oh so easy, to forget that our marching orders from the Risen Savior and Lord are to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Add to the whirlwind what seems to be a weekly tragedy of some kind – a hurricane or typhoon, a shooting in a school or place of worship, a devastating forest fire - then layer in the anxiety of a coming General Conference on a deeply contentious issue. It all can seem overwhelming to the best of us. It is easy to lose focus! It is important to remember that “human beings are genetically hardwired to do one thing at a time with excellence.” (The Four Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, & Jim Huling, p. 25) Multi-taking is a myth! Repeat after me: Focus is the key to excellence. Now stir in our stated mission and Wildly Important Goal based on the Matthew 28 passage (commonly called “The Great Commission” – Marching orders give to us by our Lord and Master) to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” In the midst of everything that is going on, it remains critically important that we stay focused on the Wildly Important Goal (WIG). This is especially important with Advent and the “holidays” (which means “holy days”) approaching. Counterintuitively, Thanksgiving and Christmas open people up to hearing about God with us in the form of a baby named Jesus. Remember that “there will always be more good ideas than there is capacity to execute.” (see The Four Disciplines of Execution, p. 29) McChesney, Covey, and Huling note that “Discipline #1is about applying more energy against fewer goals because, when it comes to setting goals, the law of diminishing returns is a real as the law of gravity.” (The Four Disciplines of Execution, p. 24) All this brings me back to our WIG of “making disciples of Jesus Christ.” I pray that we may make this our ardent focus as we moved into and through Advent. Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Msg.) Below are two slides that illustrate how we are progressing so far against our WIG goals. The news is great! As a conference, we are growing in worship attendance and professions of faith! May the Lord of the Harvest guide us through Advent and beyond!! May the blessings of Thanksgiving be yours!