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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The eye of the storm

by Pam Roth
Gooood morning, South Mississippi. You have a beautiful day to wake up to today.

If you lived where I do – on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi – this would have been the greeting that you would have heard from our local weather person this morning. And trust me, this is the greeting you hope to hear during hurricane season.

In just the past few days, we have been reminded of the devastation of a hurricane. Monday, August 29, was the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; and this past weekend most of us were glued to the television as we watched Hurricane Irene create havoc up the eastern shoreline moving into the New England states and changing the face of countless number of communities.

If you are interested in weather, you know that the center of those massive storms is called the eye of the storm. Most “eyes” are approximately 20 – 40 miles in width. These few miles in the midst of a ferocious storm are the only place where you will find calm and beauty. Outside of the center of the storm you will find massive destruction and incredibly powerful winds. Pieces of people’s lives are being scattered for miles in the torrent of wind and rain. Much like a hurricane, the storms in our lives make us long for the center of the storm where it is calm and peaceful.

Unfortunately, no one can live in the eye of a storm for very long before the outer bands of wind and rain come to beat you up, again. Where are you right now in your life? Are you in the midst of a storm or are you enjoying the beauty of the calm in the eye of the storm?

Years ago, we attended a conference on crises management. I’ll never forget when the guest speaker asked those that were going through a crisis to raise their hands. Then he said, “If you’re not going through a crisis right now, have you ever experienced a crisis in the past?” And then this was the most powerful statement he made – “For those of you that have not experienced a crisis – it is not when, it is how you are going to go through your storm.”

You see, most – if not all of us, will go through some kind of a storm in our life. It may not be a literal storm; but it may be an unexpected death in the family, an economic downturn that leads to financial woes, or an unfaithful partner in business or marriage who decides to walk away from his/her commitments. Whatever the storm – it leaves behind a wake of destruction.

This month, in the Relevant Ministry blog, we have been focused on “being centered” and as we wrap up this series of articles, I want to encourage you to break through the pressure of the storm like the hurricane hunters do and get into the eye of the storm where it is peaceful and beautiful. Here are three suggestions that might help during a storm:

  1. I would like to recommend Nelson’s book, Nehemiah Response. The principles in this book are beneficial to anyone who has a decision to make whether it be that you are in a transition or a major crisis.
  2. Find the “eye” in your storm. There’s one in every storm. Maybe it is your relationship with God, your support network, a life coach, or a literal place where you go to be alone.
  3. Realize that you may be in a stormy season; but it will pass and there will be a brighter days ahead.
Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Second chances

by Nelson Roth
Highway 53 is a road that I travel frequently here in South Mississippi. It’s a narrow road with dangerous ditches in many places. A few years ago the forty mile long highway that runs from Lyman to Poplarville was resurfaced and widened. That was a good thing; however, with the road improvement the ditches were made deeper and there is no shoulder in most places.

Life’s journey is a lot like traveling Highway 53 - a road with ditches on either side. Pam and I have been writing about being centered in life this month. The being centered in this analogy would be knowing my lane on the road and keeping my car between the lines.

Along Highway 53, among the beauty of pine tree forests, ponds, and awesome skylines are a number of crosses in the ditches where someone tragically ended their life. Someone because of a distraction or maybe the temptation to drive too fast died an early death. A sad result in several of those tragedies was innocent people becoming victims of the accident.

Some accidents on Highway 53 have not been fatal. I’ve driven past tow trucks pulling cars out of the ditch numerous times. I’ve also caught myself daydreaming, inattentive and seconds away from rear end collision.

Spiritually, life’s road doesn’t have to end fatally. But, if we get in a ditch because of distractions or temptations like “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (I John 2:16) – God gives second chances! I’ve been in the ditch myself a number of times for all three reasons that John writes about. Several times it’s been nearly fatal, but God in His love and mercy reached out to me with second chances.

When Highway 53 was upgraded, there was one other very important addition. They put a ‘rumble strip’ along the outer edge of the road. When the tire of your car goes over it, the noise made becomes a warning that you are too close to the edge.

Spiritually for me and for you, that 'rumble strip' can be God reminding us of his love and mercy. He doesn’t want distractions and temptations of life to cause us to plunge into the ditch and die. Actually, He wants us to die another kind of death and choose to stay on the road. The other kind of death is – to die to self, saying “no” to “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”

Here’s is a poem, that has meant a lot to me, that speaks about my life’s journey. The words were written by Theodore Monod in 1874 during a series of consecration meetings in England.

O the bitter shame and sorrow,
That a time could ever be,
When I proudly said to Jesus,
All of self, and none of Thee!

Yet He found me; and I beheld Him
Bleeding on the cruel tree,
And my wistful heart said faintly,
Some of self, and some of Thee!

Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
Less of self, and more of Thee!

Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered:
None of self, and all of Thee!

The Apostle Paul writes about how to die to self and say “no” when distractions and temptations of life come:
  1. “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:6)
  2. “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11)
  3. “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (Romans 6:13)
Thank God for second chances.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Staying centered on the potter’s wheel

by Pam Roth
Every time I think about being centered, I have to think about a lump of clay on the potter’s wheel. We’re privileged to live in an area where there are a vast number of artisans. One of those artist is Peter Anderson, a well known artist and potter. And though, we have been several times to the Anderson’s pottery - Shearwater - my mind goes way back to when we lived in Springfield, Missouri and we were just an hour away from Branson - home of Silver Dollar City.

Often when we went to Branson, we would stop by the pottery. I’m very drawn to pottery - it seems to speak to me - metaphorically that is. Anyway, I can still remember a time when the potter threw this huge glob of clay on the potter’s wheel and he began to slowly spin the wheel. Suddenly, the potter began to pick up speed; and as the wheel went faster, the clay began to lean to one side - pulling away from the center. Of course, you know what happened, right? The clay was way off-center, so the potter scooped it up and threw it back on the wheel and then he began all over again.

So the question is, “How do we stay centered on the potter’s wheel?” If in the analogy - Christ is the potter and we are the clay, how do we stay centered? What keeps us from spinning out of control and veering too far to one side or the other - perhaps fretting over a decision, getting angry with someone, becoming jealous, or afraid to take that next step because we are concerned what someone might say about us or that we may not measure up to their expectation.

May I share a Scripture that was an encouragement to me this week? Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid. (GNT)” In this verse, we see that Jesus left us with peace - not the kind of peace the world hopes for; but, we have been given a gift - His peace.

He is our peace. He is our center. When we get off kilter, we have a choice to either bring ourselves back to the center of the “potter’s wheel” and get centered or continue out of balance hoping that eventually everything will work out. How will you respond to the choice you need to make?

Here are six steps to consider:
  1. Take time to know the God of peace (I Peter 3:18 – 22 & John 16:33)
  2. Pursue peace by living in harmony with yourself and others…be sympathetic, compassionate, and humble (Colossians 3:15, I Peter 3:8 – 12, Romans 12:17 – 21, Ephesians 4:1 – 6)
  3. Keep your heart filled with peace by eliminating transgressions in your life (I John 1:9 & Proverbs 14:30)
  4. Seek peace by reading the Word of God (Psalm 85:10)
  5. Rest in the fact that you can have peace with God (Romans 5:1)
  6. Enjoy the peace of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)
Feel free to leave a comment below.

For more information about coaching email: or

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reacting or responding

by Nelson Roth
You’ve probably been to the doctor’s office and have experienced what happens when the doctor strikes that tiny reflex hammer just below your kneecap.  Uncontrolled action, right?  

In a similar way, the things of life, whether positive or negative can trigger uncontrolled actions.  Hasty decisions or negative reactions are often the result.  In a time like this, you have a choice to either react or respond.

Last week, Pam wrote in her article that being centered brings balance in our lives.  How then can we experience balance more often?  When the things of life come our way like the reflex hammer, how can we keep from reacting with uncontrolled actions?  

When it comes to being centered there is another choice.  Being centered is about who’s in the center - self or God.  You can live your life, take action, and make decisions based on either being self centered or God centered.  In their book, Lead like Jesus, the authors Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges use an acrostic to explain EGO, saying that we can either - Edge God Out or we can Exalt God Only.   Who is in the center of your life - self or God?

Is there something like a reflex hammer striking in a sensitive area of your life?  Is career, relationships, finances, ministry, health, or an unexpected event causing quick, uncontrolled action?  If that’s happening you have the choice of either putting self or God in the center - running from God or to God, reacting or making right responses.  Running to God when we have those reflex hammer experiences - is the right response.  When we get centered in God, it helps to bring stability and balance in our lives.

In John chapter 15:1-10, Jesus told a great story about being centered - He called it abiding in the vine.  The word abide is used ten times in these verses.  Abiding means to continue, to remain - to be centered.   Note that being centered in God includes Jesus. Previously in John 10:30 Jesus said, “I and My Father are one.”

May I call out three observations I have made in this passage in John?  

  1. We all need God and Jesus.  He said “I am the vine, you are the branches … without Me you can do nothing.”
  2. God and Jesus love you, He says so in verse nine.  He is faithful and will always be available.  He also says, “Abide in Me, and I in you.”  He has already made the choice to abide.  No matter what, He will be there, you can count on Him.
  3. So, God and Jesus will abide - now, the matter of abiding or being centered in Him is up to you.  Jesus uses the word “if” in verse seven, “If you abide in me”.  To abide is your choice, and if you abide, you will be centered in God.  
Getting back to the analogy of the doctor's examination with the reflex hammer - physically it's a good thing to have quick reflexes; however, in the things of life and the choices they bring, we want to be careful to not react; but to make right responses by being centered in God.

Question: What is striking in your life like a reflex hammer and what choices are before you?

Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Being centered brings balance in your life

by Pam Roth
When our children were young, we took them to a parade in a small rural town. In the not so far distance, we could see a tractor coming down the street. What drew our attention to the tractor was not just all of the clowns around the tractor; but that the tractor was going up and down as the driver tried desperately to keep the tractor in the center of the street. At a closer glance, we realized that someone had welded the axel off center on each of the wheel frames to cause the tractor to be unbalanced. When we see something like that in a parade, we laugh; but in real life…it’s not so funny.

In this illustration of the unbalanced tractor, someone had intentionally welded the axel off center on the tractor to cause it to be unbalanced. Are you like the tractor in the parade – struggling to be centered or are you choosing to live an intentional life that is centered and well balanced? So how do you get centered and stay balanced?

Unfortunately, most of us rarely take the time to pause, breathe and think about what’s working well in our lives. If you are like most people you would say, “There is just too much to do and not enough time to do it…let alone pause to listen, reflect and get centered.”

Practice listening:
  1. Stop what you are doing and take the time to listen – to God, to trusted friends, to a life coach or mentor.
  2. Find a quiet place where you can spend uninterrupted time alone to pray, meditate and listen.
  3. Be prepared to listen to your body. What are you doing to improve your health?
  4. Listen to how you respond to situations and others by keeping your emotions in check. Intentionally choose not to let circumstances get the best of you.
Reflect on what influences you:
  1. How do I respond to those that are in my circle of influence – family, friends, neighbors, co-workers?
  2. What or who challenges me to be a better person? Am I willing to make the changes that I need to make in my life?
  3. Am I growing in a deeper understanding of my own physical needs, emotional needs, and spiritual needs?
  4. Am I spending time reaching out to others?
Stay centered:

It takes a conscientious effort to remain centered. You must choose to bring yourself back to the center; and every time you do, you will find more balance in your life.

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