Category: Inviting
June 15, 2017 by Relevant

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James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, WHENEVER you face trials of many kinds.”

 

God promises us over and over throughout Scripture: “You WILL face trials and experience suffering.”

 

Why does God allow trials anyways?

 

7 Purposes for which God allows trials:

  1. To gauge and grow our faith
  2. To humble us
  3. To break us from trusting in what can’t provide true life
  4. To focus our eyes on eternal hope
  5. To teach us to value what is important vs. what is immediate
  6. To develop strength for greater impact
  7. To enable us to help others through theirs

Trials test our faith. Perseverance is how we work our faith. Persevering through trials is the pathway to transformation.

Thankfulness is how we do that. It’s how we redirect our eyes from the trial we’re in back toward Him.

 

We have so much to be thankful to God for, even in the midst of trials…

 

Thank you, GOD, for using this trial to work my faith, so my faith in you grows

Thank you, GOD for using this trial to break my pride and fill me humility. Thank you for all the good that’s in my life that YOU have given me that I didn’t do anything to deserve and that I realize is all from you.

Thank you, GOD, for using this trial to break my trust in what can’t give life. You’re all I need, and I’m thankful I’m learning that.

Thank you, GOD, for the hope I have in you, for the cross and your resurrection. Thank you that if I lose everything, I’m OK because I still have you, and in the end, I will be OK.

Thank you, GOD, for how you have provided what is most important to sustain me through this.

Thank you, GOD, for making me stronger through this so I can be used more for your glory

Thank you, GOD, that this will help others get through similar trials

 

What are you thankful for in the midst of this trial?

 

James 1:5, 12 “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything… Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

 

If you missed gathering with us on Sunday, re-live the gathering, check out the message podcast, songs, Scripture, and weekly T-life reflection/discussion guide here.

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May 17, 2017 by Relevant

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On Sunday, we celebrated Transformation Sunday. At Relevant, we pause 3 times a year to recognize some of the transforming work God has done in people’s lives, within Relevant, and through Relevant over the past trimester. It was awesome to look back over the past 4 months and celebrate the transforming work God is doing in people’s lives and within our church. Here’s a recap.

 

3 Transforming Things God Did In and Through Relevant:

 

1. We made prayer better.

Relevant’s vision theme for 2017 is “Make It Better”. One of the key areas to “Make it Better” this year is “Make PRAYER Better”. For God to transform us into who He wants us to be so we live as a transforming church, we must be a church that seeks God by “praying first” in everything we do. So, this past January, we launched monthly Prayer and Worship nights, where we gather together to (1) call on God to move in lives, church, community, and world, (2) have an extended period of time in worship, and (3) take communion. As we’ve become more committed to pray together, God has moved! We’ve experienced God’s presence together, we’ve seen God answer prayers, and we’ve grown in our relationships with Jesus.

 

2. God confirmed again.

One of the main initiatives we are undertaking to transform our community is the building of The Relevant Center on a 10-acre piece of land on Maple/Elkhorn Drive. Our goal is to build and occupy The Relevant Center by Christmas of 2018. In order to have any chance of that happening, we need to start grading the land around June. Due to some significant complications in April, it looked like we may not be able to start doing that until August or September, which would actually have put us behind at least 6-8 months. For weeks, many of us prayed fervently that God would confirm His plan for us to be in by Christmas of 2018 by removing the complications and making it possible for the land to start being graded in June. At the end of April, we found out that GOD ANSWERED THAT PRAYER! It was like God was saying, “I’m in this. Keep going!

 

3. Lives were forever changed.

At Relevant, we are committed to do everything we can to reach people far from Jesus and the church, by creating a church un-churched people love to be a part of. That happens because of ALL of us. Relevant has grown to be more committed to investing in un-churched people, inviting them into Relevant, and then everyone relentless loving people who were invited right where they are. We saw our passionate pursuit to reach people pay off through 1400 people gathering together on Easter to hear the message of Jesus. Even more awesome than that, is that 25 people put their faith in Jesus last trimester…25 lives and eternities were forever changed through Relevant last trimester!!!

 

 

On Transformation Sunday, we shared the story of someone whose life was forever changed by God through Relevant last trimester. Check out Dani’s story here:

 

Baptisms

 

We had the opportunity to celebrate 15 baptisms…15 people who have put their faith in Jesus by asking Him to be the Forgiver of their sins and Leader of their lives! The following people publicly proclaimed their faith in Jesus through baptism…

  • Noelle Beyl
  • Rheese Houck
  • Tricia Sheer
  • Jana Derry
  • Sam Derry
  • Max Derry
  • Andy Richter
  • Danielle Richter
  • Carol Behrendt
  • Gabriel Peet
  • Josh Edwards
  • Hunter Youngblood
  • Camden Gille
  • Tara Carrier
  • Jake Burnside

 

Transformation Stories

 

God is so good! He deserves all our praise and worship! Check out some more stories of the transforming work God has been doing in lives and our church in the last trimester:

 

 

Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, TO HIM BE GLORY in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

 

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May 4, 2017 by Relevant

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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.

 

For the sake of relationally connecting, we need to know when to talk face-to-face and when to type a text or email. To help resolve that tension going forward, the following 3 QUESTIONS are helpful to use as filters to determine when to talk and when to type…

 

1. COULD I say this face-to-face?

Part of human nature is to avoid anything uncomfortable because it’s easier on us. While typing a text or email may be easier or more comfortable you in some situations, it’s likely that it will also be harder on your relationship. If you’re getting ready to type, and you ask yourself “could I say this face-to-face?” and the answer is NO, talk instead of type.

 

2. WOULD I say this face-to-face?

We get really brave behind our computer and phone screens and type things that we would never say face-to-face. When we do that, it’s hurtful to our relationship and to the person we texted or emailed. If you’re getting ready to type, and you ask yourself “would I say this face-to-face?” and the answer is NO, talk instead of type.

 

3. SHOULD I say this face-to-face?

To relationally connect, there are definitely some instances where you SHOULD talk instead of type.

 

You should TALK instead of type…

  • If you want and need to communicate your heart or emotions, instead of just facts. Emojis are not a good substitute for emotions.
  • If you want to share intimacy instead of just information.
  • When conversation and not just one-way communication is needed.
  • If what you type will ruin their day.
  • If what you are thinking about typing could be misunderstood in any way.
  • If you need care, support, prayer, and companionship.
  • If you need to confront someone or have a hard conversation. Or if you’re getting ready to type “we need to talk”. TALK about TALKING instead of typing about talking, and in doing so, lessen their anxiety and yours.
  • If you’re going to type anything that might be hurtful to their soul.
  • If you’re going to feel dismissed if they don’t respond right away to your text or email or by how they may or may not respond.
  • If you’re not willing to immediately talk about what typing
  • If you’re mad. (Side note: it’s OK to be angry, but so many times our anger goes away when we take a step back and wait before we choose to respond.)
  • If someone texts or emails you something that requires you type back something more than facts or information. If a response requires more than facts or information, get together and talk or talk on the phone about it.
  • If what you type might leave the other person thinking “If I was really important to them, then they would have called or gotten together with me instead of typing that.

If you’re getting ready to type, and you ask yourself “should I say this face-to-face?” and the answer is YES, talk instead of type. The only time you should type instead talk is if that will be most helpful for them and your relationship with them.

 

Digital communication is helpful when it is used correctly. But don’t fall into the trap of substituting true relational connection with digital communication.

 

For the sake of your relationships, it is worth to begin asking today…Could I…? Would I…? and Should I…say this face-to-face? before you type. Let’s RECONNECT!

 

 

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

 

 

 

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March 30, 2017 by John Schluchter

 

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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 extend an invitation this Easter to someone in our life who doesn’t normally “go to church”.

 

Start With Prayer – Before you make any kind of invitation, invite God into this process. Pray for Him to reveal to you who you should invite, to open up that person’s heart to your invitation, and to create the right opportunity to extend the invitation. Then make the invite!

 

Make the Invite! – Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, here are 3 really simple ways to invite someone:

 

 

1) In-Person with an invite card

 

Simply hand somebody you know one of our Easter invite cards and say something like, “Hey, my church puts on these awesome Easter services. It’s different than what most people expect when they think of church. I think you’d really enjoy it. Let me know if you’re interested and I can meet you there (or ‘I can save you a seat’ or ‘I can pick you up’).”

 

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2) Through a text or email

 

For those who don’t feel comfortable with an in-person invitation, send someone a text or an email one of the following links in it.

 

EasterInElkhorn.com – Main Easter page with info and videos
https://vimeo.com/157773198– a video preview of a typical Sunday at Relevant
https://vimeo.com/209817558/bc202a2d4b – a invitation video from Pastor Ronnie

 

And maybe say something like this…

Text

 

3) Through Social Media

 

This one is the easiest. Just share one of Relevant’s social media posts about Easter with a specific person (either to their page or in a private message, see screenshots below) and say something like, “Hey, just wondering if you might be interested in coming to this with me. I can meet you there (or ‘I can save you a seat’ or ‘I can pick you up’). Let me know!” You can also just tag the person’s name in the comments section of one of Relevant’s posts and include a quick invite.

 

Invite1

 

 


 

 

Invite2a

 


 

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March 1, 2017 by Relevant

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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.

 

Don’t get me wrong. Fasting—during Lent or any other time—is an important spiritual practice. Among other things, it causes us to remove obstacles that distract us from walking with Jesus. But I’m not really talking about the fasting side of Lent in this post.

 

What I’m realizing this year is that the original intent of Lent is about confessing, repenting and preparing our hearts in anticipation of celebrating Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s about reflecting on our depravity and understanding the weight of what Jesus did for us. So that when the day arrives for us to remember Jesus’ death on the cross, and to praise Him for overcoming death through His resurrection, we are grateful.

 

As we start counting down the days until Easter weekend, I challenge us all to begin preparing our hearts. The first step—before we celebrate—is to take time to confess our sin and our desperate need for Jesus. The simple video below could be helpful in getting you started. Set aside a couple minutes of quiet, and echo the prayer in this video.

 

 

Lent (A Prayer of Repentance) from Freebridge Media on Vimeo.

 

I challenge all of us to not let this important season in our faith pass without taking time to confess, repent, and reflect before we celebrate. Lent is like turning down the volume of everything else in our lives so we can hear the Holy Spirit.

 

On Easter Sunday, when we all gather together to joyously worship our Risen Savior, let it not be a halfhearted ritual. May our worship be an overflow of gratitude for what Christ did, a true recognition of our utter reliance on Him, and genuine praise for powerfully overcoming sin and death for all mankind.

 

There is a lot more to Lent than I described here. Below are a few posts and resources if you’re interested in learning more about Lent.

Pastor John Schluchter

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January 24, 2017 by Ronnie Rothe

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Do you want to be happy?

 

Don’t we all? In the most famous sermon that Jesus preached, the Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew 5-7), Jesus shared 8 things that are true about people who are “blessed”, or “divinely happy”. Check them out…you’ll be happy you did! :)

 

Happy people

 

  • Embrace daily dependence on God for everythingevery day, regardless if they have a little, a lot, or somewhere in between. 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

 

  • Face their pain head on by turning to God in the midst of itbecause they know He is ultimately the only one who can comfort them.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

 

  • Choose humility by not thinking of themselves more highly than they oughtbecause they recognize that meekness is not weakness, rather that it paves the way to happiness.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

 

  • Hunger and thirst to know what is right and are committed to doing thatbecause at the end of the day, those who have committed to do what is right will be happy.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

 

  • Are relationally generousby giving others what they do not deserve. That’s what mercy is.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

 

  • Pursue puritybecause they want to see the activity of God in their lives.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

 

  • Are peacemakersthey walk into their relationships that are broken and breaking and reconcile them.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

 

  • Are committed to doing what is right at all coststhey maintain peace with God and themselves because they are committed to doing what is right even when it costs them everything.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)

 

 

 

Do you want to live a happy life?

 

RememberHappiness is an outcome. Happiness is a result. You sow and you reap your way to happiness.

 

So, what are you choosing? Are you sowing your way to unhappiness or happiness?

 

 

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For more…re-live this Sunday’s gathering, including the sermon podcast here and download this week’s weekly sermon reflection and discussion guide here.

 

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January 10, 2017 by Relevant

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On Sunday, we celebrated Transformation Sunday. At Relevant, we pause 3 times a year to recognize some of the transforming work God has done in people’s lives, within Relevant, and through Relevant over the past trimester. It was awesome to look back over the past 4 months and celebrate the transforming work God is doing in people’s lives and within our church. Here’s a recap.

 

Raising the Heat

 

Nothing good – and no transformation – happens when we live lukewarm. BUT when we raise the temperature of our lives and our faith to boiling point, God does transforming work. Over the past trimester, the temperature was raised within our church in many ways. Below are just a few!

 

The Temperature Was Raised On Our…

 

1. Financial Generosity

Generosity is so important because generosity generates transformation in our lives, church, and the world through us. In the past trimester, we launched the 212 initiative – a two-year generosity initiative and an opportunity for every person at Relevant to “turn up the heat” of their generosity and their commitment to Relevant’s mission of transformation. About 500 people made 212 commitments and we committed to raising a total of $4.3 million, surpassing our God-sized goal of $3.8M! The coolest thing is what God did in so many lives and marriages as we went before Him to ask what He would have us do financially.

 

One of the main initiatives the money is going toward over the next 2 years is The Relevant Center. We’re so excited about The Relevant Center, as it will…

  • Provide a gathering place for our church to meet AND be a place our community can use throughout week.
  • Help us grow the ministries of Relevant AND be tool to impact our community by helping us meet the needs of our community.
  • Be a tool to help us reach more people for Jesus and make disciples of Jesus.
  • Be a catalyst to reach people far from Jesus and the church and see their lives transformed by Jesus through Relevant.

The money committed in the 212 initiative makes The Relevant Center possible. WHEN? Our December 4th offering, which we called the “First Big Give“, totaled $370,000. This will allow us to move forward with the building process and break ground on The Relevant Center later this year, with plans to occupy The Relevant Center by Christmas 2018. PRAISE GOD!

 

2. Commitment to “Invest and Invite”

As followers of Christ, Jesus has called us to reach people people far from Him by INVESTING in them, through sharing the love in Jesus in how we speak and act toward them. At Relevant, we’re always challenging people to INVITE those they’re investing in, into Relevant to hear the gospel. There is nothing more important than investing and inviting, because it’s ultimately about inviting people into a relationship with Jesus! The temperature was raised in this area last trimester. Because of Relevant’s “Investing and Inviting”, we saw more than 20 people put their faith in Jesus in the past 4 months!

 

Christmastime is a special time that people, many of whom are not already part of a church or interested in God, spiritual things, or being part of a church, are more open to God and the church. Leading up to Christmas Eve, we encouraged everyone at Relevant to be intentionally about inviting and bringing people in their lives with them to our Christmas Eve gatherings. Because of Relevant’s commitment to investing in and inviting others, over 1100 people had the opportunity to hear the Gospel message at our Christmas Eve gatherings. PRAISE GOD!

 

3. Global Impact with the Karen people

Our global impact initiatives are focused on Karen people from Burma. We do everything to impact the Karen community with Jesus’ love in word and deed– bringing long-term transformation to their communities both here locally, with over 6000 Karen refugees in Omaha, and globally in Thailand and Burma.

 

Our main initiative globally with the Karen people up to this point has been through Safe Haven Orphanage on the Thai side of the Thai/Burma border. Last trimester, we began organizing the next trip to Safe Haven, which will be taking place this March. On the last trip to Safe Haven, Tasanee oversees the orphanage shared her desire for musical training and instruments for the children to help them grow in leading their own daily worship times. We have the awesome opportunity of being able to send 5 members of our worship team to Safe Haven to share the Gospel and love of Jesus through providing musical training and interacting with the children and staff.

 

For years, we’ve been wanting to get into Burma, into Karen State. Up until recently, this hasn’t been possible. However, in the past several months, we’ve seen God open some doors to make this possible, including our contacts in Thailand and Burma, connecting us with a church plant in Burma. This church plant, located just outside of capital city of Karen State, Hpa-An, is a people committed to meeting the needs of and sharing the Gospel with their Karen brothers and sisters. At the end of this month, a team of three will be making Relevant’s first trip into Burma to connect with this church plant in Burma about a possible partnership. We’re excited to see where God leads and for an opportunity to help the Karen people directly, through Christ-following Karen people. PRAISE GOD!

 

 

Baptisms

 

One of the things we always celebrate on Transformation Sunday is transformation through baptism. On Sunday, we had the opportunity to celebrate 15 people who have put their faith in Jesus by asking Him to be the Forgiver of their sins and Leader of their lives. The following people publicly proclaimed their faith in Jesus through baptism…

  • Natalie Aksyonov
  • Millie Bautch
  • Riley Beltran
  • Jimmy George
  • Solomon George
  • Will Grisham
  • Amy Houck
  • Scott Houck
  • Shayli Houck
  • Cassi Krepela
  • Cruz McCarty
  • Rigley Renbarger
  • Zoe Sullivan
  • Andrew VanHoozer
  • Jake Wolfe

 

Transformation Stories

 

We always want to hear from as many about transformation and what God has been doing in people’s lives and our church in order to praise God together. In December, we set up a video Story Booth, along with inviting people to send in their stories to answer the question of, “What have you seen God doing in your life or our church recently?” Here are some of the responses we received (~4.5 min):

 

 

 

It is humbling to see the transforming work that God is doing in our church! To Him be the Glory!

 

December 31, 2016 by Ronnie Rothe

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All of us are born with the desire to make a positive difference in the world and in people’s lives, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and to belong to something that matters.

 

In fact, as followers of Christ, we are called to be difference makers. As God’s people, we’re called to be the people whom He blesses the world through, spreads the message of redemption to the world through, saves and redeems the world through, proves that He is the one, true God in the world through, turns the world upside down through, and that He transforms the world through.

 

With the New Year just around the corner, many of us already have or will spend some time thinking about the resolutions we will make come January 1 and our hopes and dreams for 2017. Maybe you’ve thought about your New Year’s resolutions and even wrote some down or discussed them with your family and friends. Perhaps you’ve tried and failed at New Year’s resolutions so many times before, you’ve thrown in the towel on making resolutions this year. Maybe you’re not even sure where to begin.

 

Regardless of how you feel about or where you’re at with New Year’s resolutions, I believe God wants to do powerful and transforming work in you and through you in 2017, and I can think of no greater resolution for the New Year than resolving to live wholeheartedly on mission for God as a difference maker. The following is a list of 15 Attributes of Difference Makers. Use this list, if it’s helpful, to inspire and motivate you to commit to living as a difference maker in 2017. I believe that if we all resolve to live as difference makers, we will see God do a transforming work like He has never done before in us, in our city, in our nation, and in this world.

 

Difference Makers…

  1. Are ready and committed to be Difference Makers.

    Being a Difference Maker doesn’t just “happen”. Difference Makers become Difference Makers by being ready and committed to live as God’s people together with those in their local church.

  2. Worship God, keeping Him as their #1 priority. 

    Difference Makers worship God by keeping Jesus at the center of their lives. They keep Jesus at the center of their lives by surrendering all of ourselves to Him.

  3. Rejoice in the future, rather than weep for the past.

    Difference Makers don’t get stuck in the past, whether that means missing the past for its good parts or regretting it for its bad parts. Difference Makers focus on God’s plans for the future.

  4. Expect opposition and refuse to back down when it comes.

    Difference Makers stand firm in the face of opposition, refuse to back down to the fears that opposition produces, and never quit.

  5. Choose to only speak words that inject life when speaking TO and ABOUT others. 

    Difference Makers recognize that words are powerful and that every word they speak injects something into the soul of another. Because they know that words can literally change someone’s life, they choose only to speak words of blessing…words that inject life into others.

  6. Prioritize “God’s stuff” over their stuff, thus setting themselves up to experience “God-stuff”. 

    Difference Makers make God’s stuff a top priority, by putting it first, sacrificing everything else for it, and choosing not to elevate something else above it or set it aside for any reason.

  7. Are radically obedient to God, even when absolute certainty is not guaranteed.

    Difference Makers choose to be obedient even when it doesn’t make sense, they don’t have all the answers, and they don’t know what’s next. When God calls a Difference Maker to do something, they obey with their all. They choose to act before they understand.

  8. Are faithful to the One who commands. 

    Difference Makers respond with ready obedience to God, recognizing that delayed obedience is disobedience. They are faithful in the small, ensuring that they can be trusted with the significant. Difference Makers live faithfully, by focusing on choosing to DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING, step by step.

  9. “Set their hearts” on knowing, living by, and teaching God’s Word to others. 

    Difference Makers recognize that a lifetime of being “ready and committed” to the Word of God provides the opportunity for the legacy and life they leave behind to change the course of their family, friends, and acquaintances lives for generations to come.

  10. Are ready and committed in how they fast and pray. 

    Through prayer and fasting, Difference Makers prove that their entire lives and their daily needs (their daily bread) are literally dependent on Him, and they prove that they know who they are and Whose they are.

  11. Live in the freedom that comes from confession. 

    Difference Makers recognize the bigness of sin, what it is, and what it does. They recognize their specific sin. They confess they have TURNED THEIR BACK on God by admitting what they have done, owning it, and being truly sorrowful for it. Difference Makers are free to be KNOWN. They “come out of hiding” and choose to walk in the light.

  12. Don’t just confess their sins…they repent.

    Difference Makers refuse to be okay with sin in their lives. They TURN BACK TOWARDS Jesus and His will through the action of repentance, one step at a time. Difference Makers burn the boat of lukewarm Christianity and turn towards radical obedience instead.

  13. Are ALL-IN in their engagement and commitment to carrying on the mission of Jesus. 

    Difference Makers recognize that heaven and hell are realities and people are truly going there every day. As a result, they live 100% committed to proclaiming Jesus’ message of transformation and carrying on Jesus’ mission of transforming the world.

  14. Care for the needs of those they are connected with. 

    Difference Makers prove they truly love God by the way they love others. When they see a need, instead of relying on someone else to do something, they meet the need.

  15. Do not “come down” for distractions. 

    Difference Makers are single-mindedly focused on carrying on Jesus’ mission of transforming the world. Every time they’re faced with a decision, they ask themselves the question “Will THIS help us complete the mission of transformation given to us by Jesus?”. If the answer is YES, they do that thing wholeheartedly. If the answer is NO, they don’t do it, choosing to say with their actions and words, “I’m doing a great work and cannot come down!”.

There is no greater calling, purpose, or fulfillment than living as a Difference Maker, carrying on Jesus’ mission of transforming the world.

 

If we choose to be ready and committed to live as Difference Makers, we will experience what it feels like to make a lasting difference, turn the world upside down, and live a live that counts for something! If we choose to be ready and committed as Difference Makers, our community will see that this Jesus we say is alive, really IS alive!

 

This year, let’s resolve to be the DIFFERENCE MAKERS and the DIFFERENCE-MAKING CHURCH we are called to be!

 

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Choose to be ready and committed to being a Difference Maker! Download a free printable version of the “15 Attributes of Difference Makers” image shown above here.

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December 14, 2016 by Relevant

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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. I remember staring at the bare Christmas tree praying to God to show me my worth. The thought of being unable to provide for my child overburdened me.

 

Two weeks before Christmas I woke up and headed to my CrossFit class which the Wounded Warrior Project provided me to help with my physical rehabilitation. I used this time to help with the depression I was feeling. I said my good mornings to Matt and his wife, Holly, and after my workout I went to change and noticed a red card on my belongings. At first, I wasn’t sure whose it was and I am not a thief so I grabbed it and put it on the bench thinking it may have fallen out of someone’s bag. Upon setting the card down I noticed it had my name on it and what I read had me in tears. Inside there was a card that said “Something unexpected to show you God loves you” and attached to the card was God’s gift to allow me to purchase presents for my daughter. I found out it was Matt who gave me the card. I still have this card, and in fact, I have used it to start a new holiday tradition that reminds me to remember that day and the lessons God showed me.

 

On Christmas Eve, I had presents under the tree but my family wasn’t there and there was an awkward silence in the house. On the back side of the card that Matt gave me was information about Relevant’s Christmas Eve services. I felt rather than sitting in the house I would attend Relevant and am I glad I did. As soon as I walked into the Christmas Eve service I was welcomed by many people, many whom didn’t even know me. There was this black curtain up, bright Christmas lights were everywhere, and I believe they even had hot chocolate. The service wasn’t traditional, rather, I felt like I was at a concert. Pastor Ronnie was hilarious, and preached in a way I had not seen before which I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

I decided to continue attending Relevant because I enjoyed the preaching and being able to feel the presence of God again during their worship services. The presence of the Holy Spirit is not something that I had felt in a long time. I longed to continue to be in the Lord’s presence because it brought reflection and value to my life once again.

 

A year later, I still attend Relevant and even went through their Volunteer Staff program. Relevant isn’t just a church, it’s a family, and they are invested in me just as I am them. Pastor Ronnie still makes me laugh during his preaching and the music still allows me to feel the presence of God. But most important out of everything is this journey which has transformed me. Relevant has renewed my relationship with the Lord and shown me that I am valuable, I am loved, and most important of all that I am family. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 states for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to harvest. For me, my time was Christmas Eve 2015.”

 

To learn more about attending Relevant’s Christmas Eve services, visit ChristmasInElkhorn.com. To learn more about blessing others through Something Unexpected Cards, visit SomethingUnexpected.org.

 

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November 25, 2016 by John Schluchter

 

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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?

 

Last year we started a new Christmas tradition at Relevant. It’s based on the idea that there is power in “randomly” doing something kind for someone and pointing to God as the source of that kindness. For some people, Christmas is the loneliest time of the year. So we printed up thousands of cards that said “Something unexpected to show you God loves you” on them. Then we handed them out to our church and told people to pair the card with an act of kindness. People left big tips, bought meals for strangers, gave food, did acts of service…and then they left the card. It. Was. Awesome. Check out some of the examples of how Relevant people used these “Something Unexpected Cards” below (these are just a sample, click here to see all of them).

 

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We’re doing it again this year!

 

We’re going to equip YOU, our church, with cards and ideas on how to unexpectedly bless others. We printed up 2,500 cards (pictured below). Grab a handful of cards starting on Sunday, Dec. 4 and start sharing the love of Jesus through acts of kindness!

 

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You’ll see on the back, we’ve got an invitation to our Christmas Eve service. Understand that the goal is not to “get them to church”. It’s to do something unexpected and kind for someone else, catch him/her off guard, and point them to God as the source. But what’s cool about the invitation is that it “tethers them to God’s house”. It gives them a place to go if and when God works in their heart.

 

With that said, you can still use these cards with people you know. Co-workers, friends, neighbors. If you’d just like to directly invite them to Christmas Eve, hand them a card with the Christmas Eve info side up and a little candy bar taped to the other side.

 

Below are some ideas to get you going. We’ll continue posting new ideas on SomethingUnexpected.org.

  • Leave an extra big tip and a card for your server at a restaurant.
  • Put an envelope with money and a card on the windshield of a beat-up car.
  • Give a certificate good for free babysitting and a card.
  • Attach a candy bar or a Scooter’s gift card to the card and leave it on a co-worker’s desk.
  • Shovel snow off someone’s driveway early in the morning and leave a note and a card on their front door.
  • Pay for the order of the person behind you in the drive-thru and have the cashier hand a card to them when they pull forward.
  • Bake some Christmas goodies for someone and attach a card.
  • Do an act of service for someone, and leave the card.
  • Leave some flowers with a card.
  • Pay for someone’s dinner at a restaurant and have the waitress give them a card instead of their bill.
  • Come up with something original and thoughtful!

Be intentional! Be prepared! Keep the cards and whatever other supplies you need in your car. When you see a need, MEET IT, and point to God with the card. Imagine if hundreds of us were using these cards each day. How might that change people’s perceptions of the Church and our Heavenly Father?!

 

Lastly, we would love for you to share what you’re doing with us. You can post what you’re doing online and tag it with #SomethingUnexpectedCards or send us a photo and a description at stories@relevantcommunity.org, and we’ll post it on our social media pages.

 

You ready? Get excited. Grab some cards on Dec. 4th. Go big! Do something really unexpected! And pray that God works in people’s hearts.

 

John Schluchter

Communications Pastor

@jschluchter

 

 
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