New Year's Day has come and gone and whether you declared a new year's resolution or not, the coming of a new year always brings with it a certain, unexplainable hope. On New Year’s Eve, as I count down to midnight, everything appears to happen in slow motion. As everyone in the room begins to count down from ten as loud as they can, I always take a moment to stop and scan the room. I look at my friends and family one by one, all smiling, and can't help but feel that beautiful hope bubbling up inside of me.
As a child, I always wondered who I was supposed to be. I knew I believed in God and I believed that he had sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay for my sins. I did not, however, know how that belief was supposed to take shape in my day-to-day life. Should I go to church every Sunday and invite my friends over and over to come with me? Should I wear a WWJD bracelet or get a WWJD bumper sticker? Should I only listen to K-Love on the radio? The question of how being a follower of Christ should look constantly ran through my head and I spent the majority of my life getting different answers from different people—living in constant confusion.
I stood in my kitchen, dirty dishes piled up on every counter. Water was leaking from under the sink, from under the dishwasher, all over my hardwood floor. Just another Saturday, I thought as I rolled my eyes and tried to take calming breaths. We did the dishes in the bathtub, only to make dinner which of course, led to more dirty dishes piled up again.
As followers of Christ or even those of us who are searching, we want to experience God's presence in our lives. This is manifested in different ways. Sometimes we want to experience His power, His peace, His direction, His healing, His hope, or His wisdom. However, no matter how much we want those things or even pray for those things, we still aren't experiencing God in the way we want.
Last month, a team of 5 from Relevant – Debi Jaeke, Laura Malsam, Natalie Meeske, Kristin Nelson, and I – had the awesome opportunity to visit the Safe Haven Orphanage! On previous trips, Tasanee had shared with us her and the children’s desire for additional English lessons, beyond what the kids have in school. God provided an awesome team of skilled educators to be a part of this trip, who willingly used their spring breaks to travel to the Thai/Burma border!
Because of Relevant’s generosity, Safe Haven was able to put the finishing touches on a new stage just in time for their Christmas celebration. The old stage was deteriorating and was no longer usable for the Christmas performances of singing, dancing, and acting that the children put on. From Tasanee: I would love to thank you Relevant Community Church so much for our new stage. Wish you all the best. Merry Christmas to you all.
Digital communication, including texts and emails, is a great way to communicate information and facts quickly, efficiently, and effectively. But what texts and emails can’t communicate are emotions, your heart, eye contact, non-verbal cues, forgiveness, love, etc…all the things that are required for a relationship to really flourish. Those things can only be experienced in true relational connection…face-to-face.
Too often we make “inviting someone to church” WAY more intimidating than it needs to be. Numerous research studies show that people are much more likely to show up on a Sunday morning than we think. The key ingredient that these studies find is that people will show up if invited by someone they know. So let’s explore easy ways to extend an invitation to someone in our life who doesn’t normally “go to church”.
The season of Lent starts today. Lent is the 40 days that lead up to Good Friday, the day we recognize Jesus’ death on the cross. I’ve always looked at Lent as a very “religious” thing; something “religious” people do. I’ve been challenged to “give things up” for Lent. In the past, I’ve tried and failed to sacrifice things like soda (“pop” for the natives) and watching hockey. My heart has never really been in it.
The following was written by Sara Frank, the mother of Allison Frank. It details what God did in Allison's life through the faithful prayer of her parents, family, and friends. "A little over three years ago, our oldest daughter was diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis, a rare autoimmune disease that can attack the skin, muscles, and internal organs. At our first appointment with the rheumatologist, he told us we needed to start her on medicine right away.
What follows is a story from Brian Steere on how an act of kindness changed his life. “I met Matt Paddack, Relevant’s Worship Pastor, in November of 2015. A few months prior, my marriage was irretrievably broken, I had lost my job, I had no money, and I was unable to pay my bills for several months. I thought I was going to lose my possessions like my house and vehicles. Christmas was coming and I couldn’t even provide a gift for my child.”
For over two years I’ve had a lot of back and SI joint pain, sometimes severe, often just uncomfortable and annoying. Because this has been going on awhile, I started accepting this pain as something I might deal with for the rest of my life (often people do). As a physical therapist, in some ways I think I’ve gotten hardened by seeing and hearing stories of people having chronic back pain. Despite my efforts to treat it myself, it has never gone completely away.
If we’re being honest, pretty much everybody feels warm and fuzzy on the inside when we are the recipient of generosity, OR when we get to bless someone else. Unexpected generosity is especially powerful. It can change a person’s day….sometimes, their life. With all that's going on in our country right now, it's time to show some kindness to one another, don't you think?
Let’s face it…many of our kids have been struck by the “arrow” of entitlement. They’ve developed an attitude that says “I deserve more and better”. You can quickly spot entitlement if you hear your kids constantly complaining, “It’s not fair!”. Entitlement is destructive because it results in the act of greed. In order to kill greed, we must to train our kids to be grateful. How do we help foster an attitude of gratitude in our kids amidst a culture of entitlement?
After 40 years of wandering in the desert, you’d think that the Israelites would have learned their lesson. In the book of Numbers, we see the Israelites leaving Egypt behind, as they were challenged to obey God’s commands, have faith, and trust Him through what seemed like impossible circumstances. Miracles were performed before their very eyes, God Himself provided their daily needs, and the Promised Land was so very near. Yet, the Israelites complained and grumbled about their journey in the desert.