A Special Update from the Zellmer Family

Almost 12 years ago a friend of mine introduced me to a place called the El Shaddai Ranch.  The Ranch is a beautiful 85 acre piece of property 30 minutes outside of St. Louis County. It is nestled in the rolling hills of Lincoln County with picturesque rock-bottom creek, mature trees, and large lake. As a young youth pastor, I first got involved by leading an event called Rally at the Ranch.  During this time my wife and I built a special friendship with the founders of the ministry, Bryan and Debbie Short.  We were immediately drawn to their love for Jesus and incredible gift of hospitality.  No matter how busy Bryan and Debbie were, they always welcomed us like family.  Even in those early years, Heather and I felt a special draw to the property.   Little did we know, God was planting a seed in our hearts that would take 12 years to bloom.

Fast forward to fall of 2016.  I had lunch with Bryan one afternoon and he shared with me that he sensed it was time to transition out of leadership at the Ranch.  He proposed a sale of the property and asked if Heather and I would be interested in becoming the new directors.  We took a lot of time to pray and seek wise counsel. This was a huge step for us and we wanted to make sure it fit with our giftings and call to ministry.  After a few months of discussion and prayer, we sensed the Lord saying YES!  To purchase the property, we knew that we couldn’t do it alone.  After sharing the vision with St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, our friends there made a very gracious commitment to partner with a bridge loan as we are establishing our 501©3. 

 

It took us some time to bring all of the details together, but as of Tuesday this week we are the official owner/directors of the ranch! Due to the fact that the ranch was purchased from the Shorts/El Shaddai, it will now have a new name.  We are calling the ministry Redemption Ranch, to be a constant reminder that Jesus purchased us from our slavery to sin.  In the coming years, our focus will be on strengthening families, developing leaders, and serving the community.   The ranch will build on the legacy of the Shorts, while turning its focus to family camps, marriage retreats, church planter trainings, leadership summits, and missional events that serve the greater St. Louis area. 

 

The Lord has been incredibly kind to give my family this opportunity.  We have big shoes to fill and feel inadequate in so many ways.  At the same time, we are comforted by the fact that God is with us.  He will supply all that we need, including wisdom, partners, and strategy for what is ahead. 

 

In addition to leading the ranch, I will continue my full time job as a church planting leader/strategist.  If you would like monthly updates on my family’s journey, you can email me at therevjz@gmail.com to be added to our newsletter.  In the coming months, we will be launching a new website for Redemption Ranch. For now, you can follow us on the social media platforms listed below.  We look forward to what is ahead. I hope my family will have the privilege of being able to serve you one day soon. 

 

Sincerely,

Jason & Heather Zellmer

T: @redemptionrm Insta:@redemptionranch FB:@theredemptionranch

Therefore Encourage One Another

One thing that God has been reminding me of lately is that Christians need encouragement. In 1 Thess. 5:11 Paul tells the Christians at Thessalonica, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” Apparently the believers there were struggling with their identity. They were concerned that they would be rejected on “the day of the Lord.” Paul reminds the church  that they are “children of the light” and that they have been destined for glory because Jesus died for them. Paul was reminding the Thessalonians of who they were, and he was challenging them to go on encouraging one another and building one another up until Christ's return.

Like the Christians at Thessalonica, the believers in your church today need encouragement too. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. People are forgetful.  We can’t go a day without forgetting who we are. We have been created in God’s image and in his likeness. Every person is beautiful and unique. God has given Christians special talents and spiritual gifts that are intended for the building up of His Church. And most of all, Christ has purchased us with His own blood. But people are forgetful, and we need to be reminded of these things. Therefore encourage one another. . .
  2. The devil is deadly.  As you read this, Satan is stalking you and deploying every trick he knows to kill you and destroy your faith (1 Peter 5:8). Don’t fool yourself. Satan is a beast and he wants you dead. When your brothers and sisters in the faith are struggling with discouragement, anxiety, depression, anger, jealousy, and doubt, it’s not because they are just “having a bad day.” These are all traps strategically placed by our enemy! One of the greatest means God has given us to escape the traps of Satan, outside of Scripture memorization and prayer, is mutual encouragement. Therefore encourage one another. . .
  3. The cross is heavy.  Following Jesus isn’t easy. Remember when our Leader said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). What about when Jesus said, “Any of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:33). When you are spotting your friend at the gym, do you just watch silently when he’s trying to max out on bench? No, you encourage! Everyday the Christ followers around you are picking up their cross. Therefore encourage one another. . .
  4. God is love.  If you want someone to experience God, then you must show them love. At the foundational level, one of the most important ways to show love is through encouragement. If you meet a woman who finds it difficult to love her father, you will find a father who gave little encouragement to his child. If you want to help bring your friends into the presence of God, bring them to the place of encouragement. “In His presence there is fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11). Therefore encourage one another. . .

In response to this you might say, “What if I don’t have the gift of encouragement?” Not all have the gift of teaching, but all are called to teach. Not all have the gift of hospitality, but all are called to be hospitable. Not all have been given the gift of generosity, but all are called to give. God may not have given you the gift of encouragement, but he definitely didn’t give you the gift of discouragement. We have all been called to build one another up in the faith. Therefore, go look another Christian in the eyes, remind them of who God has created them to be, and encourage one another.

Pastor Your Pastor

When I got the call, I was confused, hurt, angry. Someone had called the Division of Family Services and claimed that I had been neglectful of a foster child under our care. The toddler had touched a hot stove, like any child could do. What was a very minor situation was reported as a 3rd degree burn, and even though I wasn’t home at the time, it was claimed that the situation happened under my supervision. In fact, it was even implied that I had done this intentionally. How could someone say this? Don’t they know how much I love these kids? Don’t they know I’m pouring my life out for them? Why would they so aggressively assault my character and reputation?

These were all the thoughts running through my mind. That is, until I got a text message from a member of our church. My wife had phoned his wife and told her the story. He texted me to give me some encouragement. Very simply, he said these words:

Remember, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt. 5:11-12

It has only been a few months since we studied that verse from Matthew 5. I hate to say it, but it never crossed my mind; I was too busy thinking about how I was treated unfairly. But when I read his words, a flood of peace overcame me. Jesus promised that people would utter all kinds of evil against us on His account. Instead of throwing a pity party, he calls us to rejoice! Why? Because even as our reputation is being assaulted, our reward is secure. Persecution only confirms and reminds us that the ultimate treasure is waiting for us in heaven. 

You might think that your relationship with your pastor is all one-sided. He leads you, teaches you, shepherds you, visits you, and then during pastor appreciation month you send him a Hallmark card. Have you ever considered that your pastor needs to be pastored, and that often times God will do that through you? My friend who sent me this text isn’t a pastor or small group leader. He’s just a dude that loves Jesus, loves people, and believes the Bible. But in his pastor’s time of self-pity and doubt, he knew exactly how to pastor me. Your pastor may seem like the Bible answer man, but he doesn’t know as much as you think. He’s forgetful, and at times he’s even faithless. Who is going to pastor your pastor? Maybe you are . . .

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col. 3:16)