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 16, 2017 by Relevant

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Thank you for continuing to financially support and pray for the children and staff at Safe Haven Orphanage and Learning Center. Your prayers and sacrificial giving are blessing Safe Haven right now and are making a long-term difference in the lives of many orphan children, their leaders, and their local community. Check out this month’s update for the latest happenings, pictures, and prayer requests from Safe Haven!

 

Children’s Day Event

 

The children at Safe Haven enjoyed a special Children’s Day event with lunch, sweet treats, games, prizes, and lots of fun!

 

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Holiday Gardening

 

The children spent part of their holiday time off from school working to clean up one of their gardens!

 

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Graduation!

 

Two girls who grew up at Safe Haven graduated, after completing their school studies away from the orphanage. In order to further their education beyond 9th grade, students must continue their education in a larger city, such as Mae Sot or Chiang Mai. The girls returned to Safe Haven in December to celebrate their graduation with their Safe Haven family. What a special time for them and Tasanee (“Big Mum”)!

 

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Prayer Requests and Praise Reports

 

Please pray and praise God for…

  • The children at Safe Haven…for their health, safety, and well-being. Praise God for His provision in the lives of the two young women who completed higher education and graduated! May their example motivate the younger kids at Safe Haven to be focused and diligent in their studies, in order to provide more opportunities for their futures. Most importantly, let’s pray that each child at Safe Haven will come to know and put their faith in Jesus, be transformed by Him, and bring transformation to the world around them.
  • Tasanee and the other staff at Safe Haven…that they will feel and experience God’s love and presence deeply among them and be encouraged in their work with the children.
  • Safe Haven Trip in March: Praise God for the opportunity the team recently had to connect with a local Karen worship team to assist in preparation for sharing music with the children at Safe Haven! Pray for God’s continued guidance in the planning and preparation for the trip.
  • Burma Trip: Relevant is focused on globally and locally impacting the Karen people from Burma. For years, Relevant has been wanting to get into and send teams to Burma, but this simply hasn’t been possible. In the past few months, we’ve seen some doors open to make this possible. At the end of this month, Ronnie Rothe, Cory Nelson, and Tyler McCarty will be traveling to Burma to connect with a church plant (outside of Hpa, the capital of Karen state) about a possible partnership. Praise God for this potential opportunity to help Karen people directly through Christ-following Karen people, and pray for wisdom, direction, clarity, courage, and protection for the team traveling to Burma.

 

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 

 

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.

December 17, 2016 by Relevant

 

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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. He said that without it, her disease would only progress and that the longer we waited, the harder it would be to reverse the damage. The standard treatment was a minimum of two years on steroids and chemotherapy. We were honestly terrified, and told him we weren’t ready to decide that day, and needed time to pray about it.

 

After that first appointment, I became obsessed with researching everything I could about the disease. I would stay up most of the night every night, just starring at the computer screen and bawling. I was in the darkest place I had ever been, and so depressed that I just wanted to die so I could escape it all. I discovered through the research that before medication was introduced a third of the kids died from the disease, and a third were left permanently disabled; but with the medication, kids also passed away, because of the side effects. Either way felt so scary, and I couldn’t handle the thought of losing one of our kids. I often kept a lot of the information, and my emotions, from my husband. Because I was doing all of the research, his attitude was affected by mine, and I didn’t want him to lose hope.

 

Looking back, I was in such denial, and so upset, that I just didn’t go to God right away. I can be a huge control freak, and I think I believed that if I could just read enough, I would find some magic answer, and it would all go away. The weight was unbearable, and after several weeks of little to no sleep, I couldn’t handle it any longer – I was ready to just surrender to God. I felt led to start asking people to pray for miraculous healing for Allison and wisdom for us. We asked everyone we knew to pray for those two things, over and over. It still makes me emotional every time I think about a friend who looked at me one day and said, “You know I’m not the praying type, but I’ve been praying for your daughter.” God was carrying us through with the prayers and love of so many people.

 


 

“I couldn’t handle it any longer – I was ready to just surrender to God.”

 


 

It was during this time, that I literally felt closer to God than ever before. I wanted to really know and hear Him, so I began to set aside very quiet times with Him in the mornings. One morning, I felt led to pray “God, please don’t let me be unchanged by this.” I had been struggling with condemnation and wondering if maybe this was all a consequence for my sins. But if it was, I knew God didn’t want me to sit in that, but to change. Right away, I had two things come to my mind – sin issues I had been struggling with, and I knew God was calling me to deal with them. Since that morning, I have had freedom from those sins. I began to realize that God was using this trial to bring us closer to Him and make us more into the people He wanted us to be.

 

James 1 became our verse, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I read that verse over and over and started to believe and see how we were finding the greatest joy in the midst of the hardest time of our life. Being that close to God was the best place we had ever been.

 

In the midst of all this, we were still undecided on the course of treatment for our daughter, and still seeking prayers and wisdom. In a short time period, I had three separate, unrelated people all suggest that we contact the same naturopath doctor in California, so we contacted her! She did some tests, and gave us a list of supplements she recommended. One morning, I prayed over the list, and was able to write exactly the ones I felt God was leading us to! We had also been told by several friends to try changing our diet, so we prayed over that as well, and totally felt Him leading us to the changes we should make. It was all a little overwhelming, but so cool because we felt like we were really hearing from God, and that gave us strength and hope that these changes might help with our daughter’s healing.

 

In the meantime, we knew we had to really pray about the steroids and chemo too. We had our third appointment with the rheumatologist coming up (about 3 months since the diagnosis), and we had to make a decision. My husband and I had both been praying, and the morning of the appointment we both felt led to the same thing: the doctor had been telling us we should do an MRI to see how much damage had been done to her muscles, and we both felt like we were supposed to agree to the MRI and let the results determine the treatment. If there was any sign of damage, we would start her on the meds, and if there wasn’t, we wouldn’t.

 

The MRI itself had been a scary decision because it was two-hours long and she would have to go under general anesthesia. The day of the scan, I would normally have been full of fear and anxiety, but instead, we felt a total sense of peace. We knew we had done all we could and that we had so many prayer warriors who had really, truly been praying. For the first time, right before she went back for her MRI, we texted all of our friends and asked “Please just pray for God’s will to be done.” It was such a hard thing to ask for, but we knew that it was the safest and best place to be, in His will. We were finally okay with whatever plans He had for our daughter’s life.

 


 

“We were finally okay with whatever plans He had for our daughter’s life.”

 


 

The wait for the results seemed like an eternity. When we finally got the call, the nurse told us the results had come back completely clear … there was zero sign of damage. They had also done an echocardiogram and PFT to check her heart and lungs, and those came back completely normal as well! We couldn’t believe it. I have never been that emotional or in awe of God. I hung up the phone and started balling and worshipping like crazy. I sang and danced around the house the rest of the day, just yelling to our girls that God is SO good. We knew He had given us His answer.

 

We went to our next appointment shortly after, and the doctor agreed to let us hold off on the medication, as long as we came back for appointments every two months. So every two months we went in, and each time, our daughter’s symptoms disappeared more and more. Before long, she had no symptoms left, and no sign of disease. It was seriously a miracle. Our doctor told us he had never seen this in his career, and had no explanation for how it could have happened. We told him we knew exactly how it happened – God had answered prayer. We are now over three years since her diagnosis and although they say you never “get rid” of an autoimmune disease, she is still symptom free, and we are still treating with just food and vitamins. Every day is a gift.

 

We are honored and humbled that God chose to give this story to us. We can see clearly now how he used every detail to make us better, make us closer to Him, and guide us in the directions He wanted us to go. And our daughter, at a young age, has been given a testimony she will never forget. So cool.

 

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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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December 7, 2016 by Kelly Samson

 

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. I had started praying before that night at Staff United about this back/SI pain and surrendering it to God, telling Him I believed He could take it away if He chose to. I’m not sure that I really believed He could though.

 

At the second Staff United of the summer, Ronnie and Matt encouraged people to go forward and be prayed for at anytime during the night about anything that they wanted prayer for. I immediately felt like God put on my heart that I should go and have by back and SI joint prayed for.

 

Since I was running the computer stuff at Staff United, I knew I would wait to go forward for prayer until the end…IF I went. In the mean time, from the start of the night on, the stuff going through my mind was interesting. I knew going forward to be prayed over, for me, meant that I was choosing to believe and expect that God could heal me if He chose to. Partly out of pride (the fact that my job is to “heal” people’s injured backs and SI joints and I hadn’t been able to make myself better) and also out of fear (what if God didn’t heal me and I truly believed in full faith that He could?), I wasn’t sure if I could take the step of faith and choose to go forward for prayer about my back.

 

Then, something made me think of the story in the Gospels about the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, who reached out and touched Jesus his cloak and was healed. I had read recently that part of the power and significance of that miracle lies in the fact that the woman had been bleeding for 12 years! Even after all the failed treatments, she still expected and believed Jesus could heal her, and He did. The next song we sang after that story popped in my head had the line “[He is] Greater than our pain”. With all that on my mind, I decided I would go forward at the end of the night…if He could heal the woman who had been sick 12 years, I believed He could heal me too. I believed that He is greater than my pain.

 

I was still kind of scared to go forward. I was in a lot of pain that night. Going forward meant facing my fears and letting go of my pride. But, at the end of the night, I went up to Mitch and Kim Elliott and told them about my back pain a little bit and asked them to pray for me. Kim asked if she could put her hand on my back. Without me telling her the exact spot, that’s exactly where she placed her hand—the most painful spot, a very spasmed muscle. I don’t remember the words that Kim and Mitch prayed over me exactly, but I remember telling/encouraging myself to believe in full faith that God could heal me. To believe that He could do it.

 

In my heart, I think for the first time, I believed He could. At one point during the prayer, Mitch took hold of my hands and helped me stretch my arms upward toward the sky, while praying about God giving a spiritual traction to my back and he said something about this being a prophetic posture of me praising Him with my arms lifted for healing me.

 

I walked away after being prayed over, and instantly the spasm that I had in my back/hip that night was gone. I’ve had spasms like that many times before in the past few years, and it never before just went away. It usually took weeks (sometimes longer) for a spasm like that to fully go away. And there it was…gone. My back pain, gone. My SI joint pain, gone.

 

I went to Dairy Chef afterwards, and as I sat there I just kept feeling my back and muscles around my lumbar spine and SI joint, and I couldn’t believe how it felt. The tightness was gone, the pain was gone! I probably felt my back and my back/hip muscles 100 times that night. I believed that God could do it, but I couldn’t believe that it had actually happened!

 

I laid in bed that night, and stretched my arms overhead, like I had remembered Mitch praying prophetically for me to praise God for what He had done with my arms lifted. And I did just that. I praised God and I told Him that whether He chose to heal me for just that night, a few days, or for the long term, I would praise Him and remember the miracle of that night–experiencing Him be my Great Physician, my Healer that night.

 

I woke up the next morning with some stiffness but none of the dreaded “knots” and tightness in my back and hip musculature that I have grown accustomed to having. In the days that have followed, I’ve had some pain in my SI joint, but my muscles do not have any of the same spasms that I’ve dealt with for so long.

 

I praise God for showing me that night what He can do when we expect him to move!

 

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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

 

November 19, 2016 by Relevant

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Relevant..thank you for your financial support and prayers for the Safe Haven Orphanage and Learning Center in Thailand. Your sacrificial giving and prayers are making a HUGE difference in the lives of many orphan children! Check out this month’s update for a letter from Tasanee, as well as the latest happenings, pictures, and prayer requests from Safe Haven.

 

 

Serving Their Community

 

Tasanee and some of the children served water and orange juice to the villagers in their community were celebrating the Kathina Ceremony, a Buddhist celebration. Buddhism is the predominant religion in Thailand. A kind expression of generosity, love, and support for their local community.

 

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Some of the older kids also had an opportunity to enjoy some soccer as part of the ceremony festival.

 

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Planting

 

Always hard at work…here are a couple of kids at the Learning Center planting long beans and peanuts.

 

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Dictionaries

 

The children at Safe Haven recently received their own dictionaries…and look how excited they are!

 

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Artwork

 

Recently, the kids at Safe Haven had an opportunity to put their creative abilities to work. Check out some of their artwork below!

 

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Letter from Tasanee

 

Dear Relevant Community Church,

 

   I would love to thank you very much for your extremely generous donations to Safe Haven Orphanage.  Supporting us during this difficult time is just another of many kindnesses you’ve shown us throughout the years.

 

 

   On October 25, there was a lot of rain in the Tha Song Yang area. Many villages were flooded and some houses went to the river. Some who know of Safe Haven Orphanage called me and asked for help. The next day, on October 26, 2016, in the Tha Song Yang area, there was fighting on the Burma side.  Some of the families (from the Burma side) crossed the river looking for safety.

 

  Because of rainy season, people here have had a problem when they need to go to the hospital, because the road was broken and so they couldn’t travel by car and had to travel by boat instead. One boat carrying 9 people was sinking, and 5 people passed away on the boat. One of them was a lady on her way to the hospital to give birth. The next day, her husband killed himself. That couple had 3 children who survived. Another lady and her daughter also passed away on the boat. The boat driver also killed himself, because he felt responsible that many people died on the boat. So they asked me to go and give counseling to those who survived on the boat, which I did.

 

   The government gave rice to the villages affected by flooding and other organizations have provided necessities for the families. We at Safe Haven have provided rice, blankets, and mosquito nets to help those affected by the flooding, as well as those who had to leave their villages (due to the fighting in Burma) to try to find a safe place to live. Safe Haven Orphanage is a small organization, but we’re doing what we can for children and families in need of help. Right now we are also trying to repair the house for the kids who lost both of their parents (in the boat) to stay with their grandfather.

 

 

   I would love to send my big thanks to Relevant Community Church. Because of your donations, Safe Haven Orphanage kids can grow up, go to school, have good health and hope for their future. And we can help other people who really need help. Relevant Community Church is my angel…when the children here need help, you provide for us so I can help them, along with allowing us to help others who really need it.

 

   Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Safe Haven gets much from you, and we will give to children who need help too.

 

 

   You are a good friend to me. I do the one thing I can…remembering you all in our prayers every day. May God bless you and guide you.

 

Kind Regards,

Tasanee

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These are the 3 children who lost their parents in the boat

 

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Some of the blankets and supplies Tasanee provided to the displaced villagers

 

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Tasanee on the boat, where she provided counsel to some of the individuals who survived boating problems

 

Prayer Requests

 

Please pray for…

  • Tasanee…what a year she has had, with the death of one of the children earlier in the year and many of her own health problems, with blood pressure issues, back pain, and other illnesses. She has been having bad back and leg pain.Pray for God’s sustaining power, peace, encouragement, comfort, and for physical healing for her to enable her to care for the children and staff He has put in her care.
  • The children and staff at Safe Haven…for their health, safety, and well-being. That the children will be focused and diligent in their studies and get a good education that will provide them with opportunities for their futures. That each child and adult at Safe Haven will come to know and put their faith in Jesus, be transformed by Him, and bring transformation to the world around them.
  • The families displaced from their homes in Thailand due to flooding, as well as the families who had to leave their villages in Burma to flee for safety from the fighting. For physical and spiritual provision.
  • The three children who lost both their parents in the sinking boat. That their grandfather’s home will be repaired to allow them a safe place to live, and that these children will come to know the love of their heavenly Father.
  • Tasanee recently has had 2 babies brought to her. One came to her with his mother, after the baby’s father passed away. Then two weeks ago, a second baby was born. This baby’s mother passed away during birth. As a result of the mom dying, the father doesn’t want to look after the baby, so the baby’s aunt has taken him in. Tasanee provided formula for both babies to the baby’s mom and the other baby’s aunt. Pray for the health of these babies and for the mom and aunt caring for them.
  • For one of the little children, New, who had to have an operation this week and is staying in the hospital.
  • God’s direction, wisdom, and guidance for the planning of Relevant’s March 2017 trip to Safe Haven.
  • God’s blessing upon the local village of Tha Song Yang (where Safe Haven is located) and for God to continue use Safe Haven to powerfully impact and influence their local community.

Jeremiah 29:7 “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you…Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

October 27, 2016 by Relevant

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Check out this month’s update for the latest happenings at Safe Haven!

 

Kids Back Home

 

Safe Haven recently celebrated the birthday of one of Tasanee’s daughters. As you can see, the kids are back together again at Safe Haven after the younger children were taken to nearby Mae Sot last month during the peak of fighting in Burma.

 

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Update on Sunday

 

When baby Sunday was born prematurely, the doctors gave him a 50/50 chance of survival. Now, 18 months later, with lots of love and care from “Big Mum” (the kids’ name for Tasanee) and all his brothers and sisters, Sunday is a super healthy, active and happy little boy. Praise God!

 

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Goin’ Bananas

 

In conjunction with a company in Bangkok, Tasanee and the kids started a new income generating project at Safe Haven…growing bananas!

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Tasanee and some of the older girls preparing the banana plants for planting

 

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Tasanee checking up on this year’s banana plants

 

Working Hard

 

The kids at the Learning Center have been busy working the land…check out some pictures below!

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Prayer Requests

 

Please pray for…

  • The health, safety, and well-being of the children and staff at Safe Haven Orphanage and Learning Center.
  • Success with the banana ‘crops’ for Safe Haven’s new partnership with a Bangkok company to generate additional income for the Orphanage.
  • Peace in Burma and God’s protection and provision for the Karen people affected by military conflicts in Karen state.
  • God’s direction, wisdom, and guidance for the planning underway for Relevant’s March 2017 trip to Safe Haven.

2 Corinthians 9:13 “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”

 
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info@relevantcommunity.org   |   (402) 957-5966   |   PO Box 520, Elkhorn, NE 68022