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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Be ready for opposition

by Nelson Roth
You’re ready to move forward, to take action and implement the plan; but something rises up to the contrary.  You know that God is leading; but opposition to the plan, like voices questioning you are saying, “What you are about to do is too big or it’s so different it can’t be done.  What are you thinking?”  Then quickly, fear sets in, faith vanishes and you begin to believe the opposing voices.  

Those voices can be our own thoughts or the voices of people as in Nehemiah’s case.  Nehemiah’s faith was impressive when he encountered the opposition of mocking and ridicule at the outset of the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem.  As a leader, you too can count on opposition at the start of something new.  God’s leading and blessing does not necessarily mean there will be no opposition to plans for moving forward into the future.

In verse 19 of chapter two, Nehemiah experienced opposition that was openly visible and verbal.  His opposers mocked and ridiculed him; attempting to poke holes in the God given plan.  The negativity could have created fear and crushed the vision for the future to become a reality.

Notice how Nehemiah responded in verse 20.  He did not engage in conversation with his opposers over their mocking and ridicule, instead:
  • He honored God, saying “we will be successful and God will be the reason for success.”
  • Then he stated his role as a servant and declared his intentions to get started.
  • And, he was not alone in his actions of faith. He says, “God will give us success … we His servants will start rebuilding.”

Nehemiah kept his focus in the right place and on the right things when opposition could have brought fear and halted action.  What’s this about fear? - is the title of chapter four in my book Nehemiah Response.  The following is from pages 58-59 telling about a time when my wife and I were in a similar situation of opposing odds stirring inner fears about the plan for the future.

Six days after Katrina, Pam and I found ourselves in line with thousands of other people to receive the basic essentials of life: water, ice, and MREs (meals ready to eat). It was at that moment that all that had happened in the preceding days became reality. This really happened; it’s not a dream. I’m standing in a distribution line with my wife.

That day in particular, while in the distribution line, it hit me with a punch that seemed as hard as Katrina herself, and the waves of fear rippled through my mind. It wasn’t the National Guard standing armed and at their posts—their presence was actually reassuring. It was an eerie feeling, almost like being in the middle of a dream, but it wasn’t a dream. Previously, I had felt a numbness which kept me from accepting the situation, but on this day, it became a reality.

Fear is something that will keep you from taking action. Fear is something that can prevent any further progress. We come to realize that there’s a big task ahead of us, and we can be overwhelmed by it all. The thing that could have kept Nehemiah from moving out from where he was, was expressed as fear. He had never been where he was before, and he was afraid. He was standing at the threshold of a lot of things to tackle, and maybe his emotions were numb to some things, but he felt fear.
What are you afraid of today?  What are some of the fears we can have when we’re ready to launch out on a new venture? How about self-doubt, uncertainty, a lack of confidence, just to name a few fears. You’ll have to discover what causes fear in you. But know this for sure: you’ll have to overcome your fears to move forward.
Don’t let fear have power over you.  Be ready for opposition and move forward into the future.  God knows the other side of where you are now, and he loves you! “…perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).

Feel free to leave a comment below.
For more information about coaching - Relevant Ministry Coaching

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Afraid? Of what?

by Pam Roth
Back in the 70’s, my husband worked as a youth director.  During that time, a group of students performed, For This Cause, a powerful play about martyred missionaries John and Betty Stamm.  The Stamm’s were missionaries in 1934 in communist China.  During that period of Chinese history, it was not uncommon for bandits to come into towns to kidnap people for a ransom or to vandalize and then murder their victims.  To these bandits, foreigners were seen as wealthy so this young, American missionary couple became one of their prey.  

As I think about fear and faith, my heart resonates with a poem from that play many years ago.  Although the poem, by E.H. Hamilton, was not written about the Stamm’s merciless murder, it was written about another martyred missionary, Jack Vinsen.  As you read the words to this poem, consider what the “bandit” is that may be holding you captive.

Afraid? Of what?
To feel the spirit's glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace,
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
Afraid to see the Savior's face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace,
The glory gleam from wounds of grace,
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
A flash - a crash - a pierced heart;
Brief darkness - Light - O Heaven's art!
A wound of His a counterpart!
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
To enter into Heaven's rest,
And yet to serve the Master blessed?
From service good to service best?
Afraid? Of that?

Afraid? Of what?
To do by death what life could not -
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from the spot?
Afraid? Of that?

You may not be a missionary overseas like the Stamms; however, you recognize the importance of living a life of faith.  How would you answer the following questions?

  • What requires faith in your life right now?
  • What is keeping you from stepping out and living a life of faith?
  • Who could help you in your discovery process?
Feel free to leave a comment below.
For more information about coaching - Relevant Ministry Coaching

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Getting beyond our fears

by Nelson Roth
My wife, Pam, and I will be celebrating 45 years of marriage this February.  Over that time, there have been several middle of the night events when strange noises have frightened us.  We’ve become a pretty good team over the years and are able to work through these times without losing much sleep.  One incident; however, stands out.  It was when a loud ‘thud’ brought us both up out of a sound sleep.  Imagining the worse, we were so scared we couldn’t move or speak.  Well, long story short, as it turned out the ‘thud’ was harmless icicles falling off the main roof onto the porch roof.  The noise was so startling in the moment; but it turned out so insignificant.  At the time, our minds thought the worse and the fear that came over us was paralyzing.  We learned from this event, a number of years ago, that fear keeps us from action.  

If you are following our articles about the stages of The Nehemiah Response Model™ for transitioning – to get from where you are to a preferred future – we’re currently writing about the end of the Incubation Stage.  It comes just before moving forward into the Implementation Stage.  The important response at this point is faith.  In the Incubation Stage, after a plan has come together for something in your life or in your organization – you are at a critical point because fear can keep you from taking action and implementing your plan.  Here’s where a dose of faith comes in.  Faith is the next important response!

In the story of Nehemiah, we find him moving ahead when fear could have paralyzed him.  In chapter 2, verse 2 Nehemiah said, “I was very much afraid;” however, because of his confidence in God and the plan that had been revealed to him, he made a faith response!

Are you facing challenges to moving forward because of fear?  What is fear doing to you?  If you were not afraid, what would you do?

Our fears can be very real and challenging.  Here are three steps to take to help overcome fear:
  1. Realize that fear is the enemy of your faith.  The two cannot co-exist.  In Luke 8:25, the disciples were afraid because of the storm and Jesus who was in the boat with them said to them, “Where is your faith?”  II Timothy 1:7 reads, “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
  2. Identify the object of your fear, things like the fear of failure or the fear of what others might be thinking.  Fear has an object.  What are you afraid of and why?  In Matthew 14:29, “Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”  Then the next verse says, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out.”
  3. Focus on the truth about the situation and know that faith has an object as well.  Place your faith in God who can help you get beyond your fears.  When Jesus taught the disciples to have enough faith to move mountains in Mark 11:22 he says, “Have faith in God.”  I John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.”
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1)   What have been the effects of fear on your faith?  Like the icicles – it’s interesting that the things we often fear are so insignificant.

  • If you had faith and overcame fear, what would things look like?
  • What are some possible next steps to getting there?
  • Who can come alongside you to help?
  • What do you sense God is wanting you to do?
Feel free to leave a comment below.
For more information about coaching -Relevant Ministry Coaching

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

By faith

by Pam Roth
Hebrews chapter eleven is often referred to as the “faith chapter.”  The chapter starts off with a definition of what faith is – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  And then, the author provides us with a listing of men and women who followed God “by faith.”  Men and women who stepped out by obedience to follow after the will of God even though they did not know what God might be leading them to do.  In Hebrews 11:13, we read that “all of these people were still living by faith when they died.”  What a powerful testimony!

Have you ever stopped to think about how it must have been for the people mentioned in the Bible?  Do you think it was easier or harder to live by faith then compared to now?  Have you ever heard someone say, “You don’t see God working like you did then…it was just a different time in history.”

It may be a different time in history, but I believe that God is still working in miraculous ways and He is still seeking those who will follow Him on a faith journey.  I am blessed to be living among a modern day illustration of God leading couples that are stepping out by faith and leaving behind people, places, and things that they have come to know and love to serve Him.

Over the past three years, I have seen two couples “by faith” leave thriving church ministries to join us in a faith walk with Relevant Ministry.  Independently, both of these couples – Jeff and Angie Hegstrom and Brad and Teresa Houchin – heard the call of God to serve Him on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.  God has given all of us an unbelievable opportunity to serve those that are without hope.  Through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, God swung open the doors to minister to people right where they are; and that’s who God is calling Relevant Ministry to serve.  We are called to come alongside weary pastors and leaders of churches and ministries to help with a spiritual rebuilding and to reach out to those that make up the church in their time of need.

By faith, these couples walked away from the home they had raised their children in, the jobs that had provided for their families, and the relationships they had developed over years.  By faith, they have raised monthly support for their livelihood.  Through the gifts of generous donors, they are able to serve in a ministry with a vision to train future leaders, help build healthy ministries, and to serve the communities along the Gulf Coast.  By faith, we trust God for provision to meet every ministry need.

  • What would you do if God called you today to leave behind all of your cherished possessions and follow Him?  
  • Like the men and women in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, what steps would you need to take right now to prepare you to take a leap of faith?  
  • How would you answer a call to move away from friends, family, and a secure job to serve in an unfamiliar area of the country or world?  
  • God is still calling…are you ready to step out by faith and serve Him in whatever capacity that He may be inviting you to join Him?

Share with us your “faith journey.”

*All three couples with Relevant Ministry are supported monthly by faithful contributors.  If you are one of our faithful contributors, we would like to extend special thanks for believing in the vision and mission of Relevant Ministry.  If you are just becoming acquainted with the ministry, we appreciate your prayers.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

For more information about coaching - Relevant Ministry Coaching

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Transition, getting traction and moving forward

by Nelson Roth
Whether by ice, snow, or mud, we’re all familiar with the helpless feeling of spinning the tires on our car and not getting anywhere.  Traction makes all the difference.  Before living in the South, a winter habit I learned from my dad was to put sacks of sand in the trunk of my car.  Two purposes were served.  First, the sacks of sand added weight over the rear tires; and if I got stuck in a Midwestern winter storm, I could dump the sand in the tire tracks of my car for needed traction.

Personal or organizational transitions most often provide opportunities into a new and exciting future; however, there is often that time when it feels like we’re just spinning our tires.  At this point, we need traction - the help of someone or something like those sacks of sand.

I learned transition lessons from our experiences following Hurricane Katrina.  Rebuilding and revitalization were our greatest needs on the Coast of Mississippi following that catastrophic event.  A help for me, and the people that I was serving with at the time, was a study about the rebuilding of the Jerusalem wall 2,500 years ago.  The servant-leader, Nehemiah, and the principles he used fit our situation and became known as a Nehemiah Response in the book I wrote.

Transitions happen either after a surprise in life - like a crisis event - or when someone delivers unexpected news.  Transitions can also happen when we sense God leading in something new.  

Is God revealing to you a vision for something new?  Is there something stirring in your heart and you are needing clarity and the next steps?  Are you in the midst of a crisis and struggling with what seems to be bad timing and you need to know what to do next?

A helpful coaching tool we use is called The Nehemiah Response Model™.  It is a biblical transition process for revitalization that can help with traction and serve as those sacks of sand.  The model captures ten responses of Nehemiah that are grouped in four stages - incubation, implementation, celebration, and transformation.  When you find yourself stuck these responses can help you get from where you are (present situation) to where you want to go (preferred future).

If you are in a transition, your situation may not be a hurricane, like what I went through back in August of 2005; but nonetheless, your situation is a Katrina of sorts and these responses can be transferred to your present situation.

  • Are you needing traction to move into the future and new opportunity?
  • Does your present situation seem like an end?  What if it was really a new beginning?
Give us a call if you’d like to talk about The Nehemiah Response Model™ and your present situation.  You, your church, or your organization can get beyond that helpless feeling of spinning your tires.

If you’ve learned some life lessons in a past transition, we’d like to hear from you!  How have you gotten traction in the past to move forward?  What have you learned from a transition time in your life?  Leave a comment below.

The Nehemiah Response Model™ is a biblical transition process that will help you get traction for revitalization and moving from your present situation to your preferred future. Each month we are writing about the ten responses in the Relevant Ministry Blog - check out the Blog Archive in the right hand column.  There are four responses each in the Incubation and Implementation Stages of the clockwise circle.  Response number nine is Celebration, and Transformation is number ten.

Feel free to leave a comment below.
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