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Thursday, December 27, 2012


by Jay Burns

Note: Jay Burns is a Relevant Ministry Board member.  He shared a devotion about transitions with the RM Staff at their Christmas gathering.  In his devotion, Jay shared seven steps for transition that we wanted to pass on to our RM Blog audience. 

Transitions can bring feelings of anxiety, fear, apprehension, or uncertainty.  During a time of transition, we need to remember that God is all knowing.  He knows what He is doing!  Isaiah 46:10, "I made known the end from the beginning from ancient times, what is still to come I say my purpose will stand."  

What’s important is that we cooperate with God when He has a transition in mind for us.  We need to realize that often what causes feelings of anxiety, etc., is our inability to see the future like God does.  Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

A key element when we are in a transition is cooperating with God!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Journey of Discipleship

by Brad Houchin 

How would you describe your journey of discipleship?

Think for a moment about the incredible journey that it must have been to be one of the disciples of Jesus.  They walked with him and were eyewitnesses of the miracles He performed. In the Bible, we read about the cost of discipleship and the response that Jesus asks of those who want to follow him.  Imagine Jesus looking directly into your eyes, and hearing these words straight from his mouth in Luke 14:25-35.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

About being disciples

by Nelson Roth
There are two parts of discipleship - “making disciples and being a disciple.”  Both are vital, and it’s important to understand the difference.

“Making disciples” is what Christians are commanded to do in the Great Commission.  "Therefore go and make disciples...”   Matthew 28:19-20

Being a disciple, on the other hand, is about the life-long process of following Christ and striving to become more like Him.  Discipleship is about the Christian’s personal relationship with Christ that is both growing and intimate; producing life changing outcomes.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40

The word "disciple" literally means, a learner.  According to Vine's Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words,  a disciple is "one who follows another’s teaching.”  A disciple is not only a learner, but also an enthusiast and a devotee.

How would you describe your relationship with Christ?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Becoming faithful learners and followers of Jesus Christ

by Jeff Hegstrom

What is discipleship?
It’s an organic process where believers lay healthy biblical foundations in their lives that bring growth and movement from spiritual infancy, to spiritual adolescence, to spiritual maturity … it’s becoming more like the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ example of discipleship:
All throughout the Gospels, Jesus models what true discipleship looks like.  From his personal invitation to leave everything behind and follow him, to the way he walked and lived out his life.  With his disciples he taught, modeled, challenged, corrected, revealed, comforted, and empowered.  Jesus invited his disciples to be with him in every circumstance of life, to be transformed in personal character to be like him. That transformation is at the heart of biblical discipleship.

What do you think is the outcome of true biblical discipleship? 

Here are a couple of questions to ponder:

  • Who is the disciple learning from? 
  • Who is the disciple following?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What do clay pots have to do with ministry?

by Nelson Roth
In II Corinthians chapter four, Paul teaches what Christian ministry is all about.

The word for ministry that he uses in verse one means, giving service to another with the idea that this service is being done because of the command of a superior.  So, Paul says it correctly when in verse five he says, “we don’t preach ourselves, but Christ as Lord, and ourselves as servants.”

  • How does the idea of being a servant and serving in this way settle with you?
Paul explains ministry further with the picture of a clay pot in verse seven.  When it comes to clay pots they can serve two purposes, to either be on display or to be functional because of the contents they carry inside.
  • Where do you think that Paul is headed with this illustration?
  • What point do you think he wants to make?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gifted to glorify God

by Brad Houchin
My wife and I have been serving in the church for a little over 17 years now. Our introduction to ministry began as volunteers with a youth ministry. We had two roles, crowd control and helping with events. Over time, the responsibilities began to change along with our hearts.  We grew in confidence and began to say, “yes” to more and more opportunities; eventually, leading to a paid position as a student pastor.

We have always loved hanging out with students; but reflecting back over the years, becoming a “student pastor” never was the goal. In fact, right after our first son, Clayton, was born in 1999; Teresa and I had both made the decision to take time for family and be done with student ministry. We had just landed at a new church home and the time to make this ministry break was available for us. Well...less than 10 months later we were leading student ministries again, and in 2004 we left a job of 12 years and took a full-time position as Director of Student Ministries at Crosswinds Community Church in Bloomington, IL. God had instilled in us a passion for young people and we could not say, “no” to serving.

What about you? What are you really passionate about? What ministry needs do you see? Are you choosing to respond relevantly?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Healthy ministry begins with relationship

By Jeff Hegstrom
When I first started out in ministry, I willingly admit that I knew absolutely nothing, but I had a passion to “do” something for God. I wanted to make a difference! I longed for God to use the good and bad experiences I had in my life and I wanted to share my spiritual life journey to bring hope to the hopeless and win the lost for Him.

I still love that kind of raw passion for God, but what I didn’t understand back then was that I couldn’t do it alone. During the first three years of ministry, I almost burned myself out trying to “do” everything and reach out to every age group. I had the misguided idea that as the paid staff member, I should and could meet all the needs of the ministry. 

One evening, as I was getting ready to kick off one of our weekly ministries to college students, I broke. Wow, that’s an honest thought. I broke… I broke, and I couldn’t fix me, so right then and there I cried out to God for help and He answered me (Psalm 40:1-3) and showed me that I was trying to serve Him, without Him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ministry and ministers

by Nelson Roth
Believers doing ministry is a mark of spiritual health.

What are the personal challenges from that short statement?  What is your perspective of “believers doing ministry?”  And, what is ministry?  If believers doing ministry is tied to spiritual health, the thought is that as an evaluator - ministry is a gauge for spiritual health.

Let’s look into this further letting the following three questions guide us:  Who are the ministers?  What is ministry?  Why is ministry important?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In the Word is a word for you

by Nelson Roth
God reveals himself through his Word!  So, in the Word, there’s a word for you.  Because God wants each of us to know him and to know the plans that he has for us he reveals himself to us in various ways.  Psalm 19:7-8, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes."

Is God revealing himself, or saying something particular to you today?  How does this next story speak to you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

If I pay attention to a little word

by Brad Houchin
The word “if”, as small as it is, can have a great effect on us. Sometimes that effect can be a good thing, other times not. The word “if” could just be the most important word of our lives....think about it this way...

… if I do not cook this long enough, I could get sick
… if I do not make my mortgage payment, I will lose my house.
… if I do not show up to work each day, I will lose my job.
… if it does not rain soon, the farmers will lose their crops.
… if I do not come up for air, I will drown.
… if she......., then I will.....
… if he would only....., then i would

The list of “if’” sentences can go on and on.
How can this word be more important than: God, Jesus, the Bible and love? Well, I am not saying that it is, I do believe though that without the word “if” the words listed above are only words to us. “If” most often requires an action or response.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

God relates to us through His Word

by Jeff Hegstrom
God’s Word teaches us that relationships matter. From the beginning of Genesis, we not only see the relationship of the Trinity (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit); but, we also see God’s love relationship with His creation as He walked daily in fellowship with Adam and Eve in the garden. (Genesis 2:8)

The Gospel of John clearly declares God’s love for mankind.  The scripture also affirms just how much our relationship with Him matters.  John 1:14 tells us, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  God loves us so much that He sent His One and Only Son into the world to live among us, to have relationship and fellowship with mankind that the world may truly know Him and be saved. (John 3:16-17)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

God’s Word, foundation for life

by Nelson Roth
“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”
  I Thessalonians 2:13
The Bible is God’s written Word to us.  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  II Timothy 3:16-17
  • In what ways do you currently practice the spiritual discipline of Bible reading and study?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In prayer Christ is revealed to us

by Nelson Roth
Like the seasons of the year, prayer seems also to have its cycles.  Each season of prayer has purpose just like the seasons of the year and each a contributing part to God unveiling answers to questions we may have about the future.  The unveiling is that incredible season when Christ pulls back the curtain revealing His plans and ways as we pray.

In prayer, Christ is revealed to us.

Our prayer experience may not always be a revelation though, and that’s why we’re encouraged to persevere in our prayers.  Luke 18:1, “always pray and not give up.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Praying in Response to the Promises of God

by Brad Houchin
Relevant Ministry visits families in their homes to assess needs they have and to consider how we might be able to assist them. We are privileged to be able to hear many of their life stories; and often these opportunities open the door for ministry through prayer. I have yet to be turned down by anyone, when I have asked if I could pray for the needs they have shared.
There will always be a time in which we need to stop what we are doing immediately, and just pray. These times may be from an unexpected phone call regarding a loved one being rushed to the hospital, a disaster just struck somewhere in the world or you’re running late for an important meeting and you are stuck in traffic.  The list can go on and on. Often in these times, one of our first reactions is to pray, “Heavenly Father, I need your help!”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Prayer and relationship

    As a young pastor, my prayer life began to change in significant ways in the early 1980’s when Peter Lord, my mentor at the time, said to me, “God is not only the most high God, He is also the most nigh God!”  His statement caused an important shift for me from saying prayers to a distant Creator to having conversations with my loving Heavenly Father.

    Prayer that is relevant is relational!
    Jesus and Paul reinforce Peter Lord’s words when they say in scriptures to pray to your Father.  Jesus in Matthew 6:9 says, "This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven..."  Paul says, “I bow my knees before the Father” in Ephesians 3:14. 

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    Ministry that is relevant prays

    by Jeff Hegstrom
    Prayer is a mark of spiritual health. For the Christian, prayer is like breathing. Prayer is essential for spiritual health, just like breathing is essential for our physical well being.  God’s Word instructs believers in Philippians 4:6-7 to pray “in every situation.”

    • What does prayer mean to you? 
    • How is prayer like breathing?
    Prayer is the communication of the soul with the Spirit of the living God. It’s what connects us to Him.  Matthew 18:20 says, “... For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    True Worship reveals Christ and my deep need of Him

    by Jeff Hegstrom
    I love the words in the song, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross - they declare, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

    However, I want to be honest with you right now, there are times in my life that I go through the motions of worshiping God. Although I know better, unintentionally, I carry the burdens of life, relationships, finances, and schedules instead of giving them to God and trusting Him with the results. With my priorities out of line, my worship to God becomes routine, without meaning, and I walk away unamazed, discouraged and unchanged.

    When is a time that you went through the motions of worship and went away unmoved and unchanged?

    How did you overcome this feeling of apathy?

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    The Weight of Worship

    by Brad Houchin
    A few years ago, I took a Hebrew class to begin learning the Hebrew alphabet and some basic root words used in the original Hebrew language.  It was very fascinating to me that a word read in scripture today could translate back into one of several Hebrew words.

    My teacher/mentor for the class showed me an impacting illustration.  He pulled two large coins out of his pocket that I did not recognize and put one in each of my hands.  As I held the coins, he asked me to lift up which one I believed to be of highest value.  I made the right choice and lifted the one that was heaviest.  He then began to talk to me about the word “kavod”.  It is one word that “glory” translates into from the original Hebrew language.

    Psalm 29:2 “Give unto the Lord the glory (“kavod”) due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Worship is about knowing and loving God

    Pam and I have been married more than forty-five years.  Though the first-time we met was sometime ago, I remember very well how my heart was captured when we first fell in love.  I wanted to spend time with her.  I wanted to hear about the things she liked.  When I learned that her favorite color was blue, I wanted to get her a gift that was that color.  We were in love.  And though there have been challenging times over the years, mostly due to my part - we are more in love today than ever.  
    Relationship like this is what we can experience with another person.  In a similar way, relationship like this is what God desires with each of us.  The more we know Him, the more we love Him - and, the more we know and love God we desire to give him what he desires and deserves - our worship. 

    How much is the worship of God and relationship with God connected for you?.

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    What do I really love most?

    by Jeff Hegstrom
    In their book, Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel, Allen and Borror describe worship as “An active response to God in which we declare His worth!”
    How would you describe worship?  Most of us may have some preconceived ideas of what we think worship is.  How many of you have thought about worship as: music, singing, emotions, feelings, an experience, or a Sunday morning church service?  What other thoughts or words come to mind?
    • What does worship mean to you? 
    • What describes true worship in the life of a believer?

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    What is the church to be known by?

    What’s become known as the Great Commandment and the Great Commission is at the core for local church ministry.  It’s from these words of Jesus Christ that the 3Rs of Relevant Ministry have emerged.  More on the 3Rs in a moment but first...

    I must begin this third of three articles about the church with a confession.  A few years ago, I would have titled this article, What is the church to do?  - instead of, What is the church to be known by?  Like the previous two articles there is an important shift:
    This third shift is about identity.  The church is people, it is a living organism.  As a person when we get a handle on our identity we come to realize we’re human beings, not human doings.  Our significance is based on who and whose we are rather than what we do.  

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

    How is the Church led?

    by Nelson Roth
    In the early 1980’s, when I was being personally challenged in my Bible study with the  shift of the church being more about people than a place - my eyes were also being opened to another shift - how the church is led.  

    What is it that God desires for us to see and practice in the area of church leadership?

    No matter what our particular titles may be for various leadership roles or what our organizational chart looks like – are there some Biblical principles about church leadership that can help guide us?

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    What is the Church?

    by Nelson Roth
    In 1979, I was called by a church to serve as its lead pastor.  Prior to that, for seven years, I was a youth director at two churches, so I was really excited about my new leadership role.  As my family, Pam and our three children, and I packed to move from Florida to Illinois - I was eager to build the church I’d been called to pastor.

    During the first several years, I enthusiastically focused on methods and programs I had either experienced myself or had seen in other places.  Looking back, I know that my motives were genuine and that I had the best intentions in mind; however, I see now that my leadership focus was based on what I understood about the church at that time.
    This is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.  Or is it?  This is the building that the church meets in, this one has a steeple, open the doors and see the church!

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    The Church

    by Nelson Roth
    When you hear the word ‘church’ - what comes to mind?

    The Church
    This month, I’ll be writing about the church on the Relevant Ministry Blog and I’d like to invite you to join in and give your input.  So, please feel free to participate in the conversation by posting a comment below.

    The plan is to let each of the following questions prompt the writing and the discussion:
    Week 1 - What is the Church?
    Week 2 - How is the Church led?
    Week 3 - What is the Church to be known by?

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    Invest in your future

    by Pam Roth
    In the past few weeks, I’ve been following the “future plans” of some of my friends and family.  Some are dealing with health issues, others are traveling for one reason or another; and for several couples that we know, they are moving either to another state or to another country.  

    Everyone that I am referring to, had developed a plan for their future; and for some, the plan did not turn out the way they thought it would.  
    So, what happens when we find disappointment or struggles in the midst of future plans? How can we properly invest in our future so we can reach preferred outcomes?

    This morning, I was reminded of the verses in James 4:13 - 15 (ESV) - “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”

    Well, that pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? The way things appear to be, may not necessarily be the way they are.  The plans that we create may not turn out just like we thought they would; and sometimes the unexpected turns up when we are in the midst of the transition.    

    When you are making plans to invest in your future, consider the following five steps:
    1. Include God in your plans - take time to seek godly counsel and to pray about your plans
    2. Be careful about presumptions - presumptions can become a barrier to fully reaching our preferred future
    3. Take a perspective “reality check” - ask for clarification and others perspective on a matter
    4. Avoid procrastination - discover the real reason behind putting off what needs to be done
    5. Be prepared to adjust - things don’t always turn out exactly the  way we plan, be willing to be flexible and sometimes forgiving of yourself and others

    What are some of your future plans?  

    How are you investing in your plans?  

    Where do you need to make some adjustments in order to reach your desired future?

    Feel free to comment.

    Click for Relevant Ministry Coaching and The Nehemiah Response Model™

    Relevant Ministry Inc.
    Training future leaders - Building healthy ministries - Serving on the Gulf Coast

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012

    Hope for the future

    by Nelson Roth
    Nehemiah was a great leader who overcame many difficulties and accomplished many more great things.  The book in the Bible that bears his name – Nehemiah – is filled with principles that can help you get from where you currently are to where you want to go.  There are ten responses that Nehemiah makes that we have identified from his application of these principles.  

    What is your hope for the future?
    Where is God leading you?

    Nehemiah Response Model
    God is your ultimate source!  He already knows the other side of where you are right now.  With all ten of the Nehemiah responses, you can overcome difficulties, clarify next steps for moving forward, gain a focused vision for where you’re going, and create a plan for getting there.  Everybody ends up somewhere in life, but few people end up somewhere on purpose. So then, how can you realize what God is doing and then what do you need to do to agree with and join Him in what He is doing?

    What is the vision of the future that God has given to you?
    Are you ready to move forward fulfilling God’s purposes in your life?

    Taking Nehemiah responses and discovering how to get to where you are going!

    1. Make an honest evaluation of your present situation
    2. Envision the preferred future
    3. Incubation Stage (clarifying vision and planning)
    4. Implementation Stage (taking action and overcoming obstacles)
    5. Celebration Stage
    6. Transformation Stage

    Where are you now as you evaluate your present situation?
    How is God changing you?

    Your transformation is not an end, but rather a means to an end!
    The hope for the future is God’s purposes for your life being fulfilled.  Using the Nehemiah Response
    Model™ will help you identify where you are, what the next steps are, and ultimately how to get to where you want to go. Read what others are saying about The Nehemiah Response Model

    Would having a coach help?
    Imagine a relational process that helps facilitate the discovery of God’s agenda - His purposes and how they relate to your life.  Next, picture that agenda becoming a reality.  Having a coach provides a supportive relationship with an objective perspective.  Contact us at Relevant Ministry, our coach approach will help guide you through the ten responses of the Nehemiah Response
    Model™, help you assess how it’s going, provide accountability, and pause with you to celebrate your advances into the future.

    Feel free to comment.

    Click for Relevant Ministry Coaching and The Nehemiah Response Model™

    Relevant Ministry Inc.
    Training future leaders - Building healthy ministries - Serving on the Gulf Coast

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    A harvest will come in the future

    by Pam Roth
    “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:7 – 10

    Depending on where you live, you may be experiencing a harvest of fruits and vegetables from your gardens, or for us along the Gulf Coast – a harvest of shrimp.

    Growing up in the Midwest, I vividly remember the farmers out in the fields – late at night in the fall driving their combines through the rows of corn.  There was something magical about seeing the lights of the tractor in a sea of corn on a crisp, moonlit night.  Row by row, methodically the farmer would take down rows of corn as he swiped through his corn field.  When it was extremely dry, the movement of the combines would create a cloud of dust in the fields that would roll across the roads.  Reminding us that no matter how intriguing the process looked from a distance – it all added up to a lot of hard work and patience.

    And for the folks that harvest shrimp along the Gulf Coast, the same is true.  The equipment for harvesting may be different; but the task is still laborious.  Setting their sights on bringing in a large harvest of shrimp, many of these men and women will spend days out in the Gulf patiently waiting for the right spot to drop their nets.   

    You and I may not be driving a combine through rows of corn or dropping nets in the midst of the Gulf of Mexico; however, we may be in a time of harvest – a time of reaping what we have sown.  If that is true, I’m not sure what that will look like for you.  
    But, I do know that depending on what you have sown, you will surely reap a predictable harvest in the future.

    Yes, it is true – you will reap not just any harvest but a predictable harvest.  Whether it be good or bad; joy or sorrow; plenteous or want; health or sickness; love or hate; forgiveness or unforgiveness; life or death - your harvest depends on you and what you have sown in the past.

    The major question is when will the harvest come?  Just like the farmers in the Midwest or the shrimpers along the Gulf Coast a harvest often requires patience.  Sometimes, we may see immediate results of what we have sown; but more than likely it will take time to see the end results from the seeds we have sown.  It is during this time of waiting that most of us grow weary.  For the most part, we are all in a hurry to see the fruit of our labor.

    Often, we wonder why it takes so long to see some of the best things returned to those that have sown good seeds – a kind word or deed, a loving child, a faithful spouse, a trustworthy friend, some extra cash at the right time, peaceful surroundings or an answer to a prayer.

    For others, this time of waiting can be scary because they know sooner or later what they have sown is going to catch up with them.  I knew a person who had abused her body by smoking cigarettes from the time she was a teenager.  This person once told me, “I know that I am going to pay for this someday; but in the meantime, I am going to have one more cigarette.” Unfortunately, she continued to smoke up to the day that she died of lung cancer.  You may not be abusing your body; but you may be withholding forgiveness, love or a smile.  

    Remember…what you sow, sooner or later you will reap.

    What kind of seeds are you sowing?  Do you know that it is inevitable that someday, you are going to reap a predictable harvest?

    Steps to a predictable harvest in the future:

    1. Just like there are laws of gravity and physics, there is a law of sowing and reaping. 
    2. Sow seeds of kindness, honesty, unity, peace, patience, joy, love, justice and mercy.
    3. Realize that you may not always see immediate results in the sowing and reaping process.
    4. Remember, it is never too late to remove destructive seeds in your life; however, there may be consequences that you will have to live with. 
    5. Keep on sowing good seeds.
    Feel free to comment.

    Click for Relevant Ministry Coaching and The Nehemiah Response Model™

    Relevant Ministry Inc.
    Training future leaders - Building healthy ministries - Serving on the Gulf Coast