Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 Can Be Great

New Year's Eve 2007 is here and so 2008 is right around the corner. I don't think anyone looks at a New Year and says, "I hope my life gets worse this year" or "I really want to make some big mistakes this next year". Although I don't believe that is what people really want that is often what actually happens; 2008 can be great and a lot of that has to do with us.

With this blog post I just want to mention a few things that can help us to have success in the New Year. First of all we can't live in the past. No matter what failures, or success, we have had in 2007 we need to keep on moving and not get stuck with what happened yesterday; it's hard to go very far forward when you are constantly looking in the rear view mirror.

Secondly, if we want 2008 to really be great we need to make the commitment to develop spiritually. We need to spend time getting to know God's Word and we need to spend time fellowshipping with God in prayer. Getting to know God and His Word better will help us to grow and develop spiritually. If we live our lives like spiritually mature Christians it will have nothing but positive results for us, and others, in the coming year.

Third and last if we want to have a better year this year than last year we need to do something outside ourselves. We can get so focused on our own lives and what is happening with us that we never do anything for other people and we don't get involved with anything in God's Kingdom. If we get involved in what God is doing in our church and we get involved in helping other people it is pretty hard to be self centered and selfish.

My desire is that each and everyone will have a great 2008, but it really depends on what we do with the opportunities we have. Make the most of this next year by continuing to move forward in life, growing spiritually, and getting involved. I believe if you do these three things in the coming year then at this time next year you will be able to look back and say that 2008 really was great!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Markets

December in Germany means that it is time for Christmas Markets. Many towns and villages in Germany have Christmas Markets where different people set up booths to sell various items ranging from foods to gifts. There are also rides set up for children so Christmas Markets really become a family event.

Rather than try to explain more about what a Christmas Market looks like I have posted several pictures of the Christmas Market in Bonn. I hope you enjoy the pictures and I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Traffic Camera

Everyone likes to see themselves in photos, but there is one kind of camera here in Germany that you do not want to take your picture. In Germany there are traffic cameras placed in different locations to catch people who violate the traffic laws and these cameras take their picture to prove it; here is a photo of one of those cameras. The camera is on the right hand side of the picture by the tree.

These cameras are placed along the roadside to catch speeders and they are also located at some intersections to catch anyone who may run through a red light. I have seen the pictures that these cameras produce but I am glad to say I have never had my picture taken by one of them. In German these cameras are called "Blitzers" because of the flash of light that the camera makes when it takes the picture; the word Blitz in German means lightning or a flash of light. If you are caught by one of these cameras what will happen is that you will receive a letter in the mail with your picture from the traffic camera and the amount of your fine.

The one thing that does seem a bit odd to me about these cameras is that they are usually set up in one place and they stay there. There is a portable version of this type of camera that you can see being set up in different places from time to time to catch people. However, because most of these cameras are in a fixed place, people will drive over the speed limit until they get close to the camera and then they slow down. That seems to me like it defeats the purpose because once people know where the cameras are they watch out for them. I suppose the best thing to do is just to be careful how you drive since not every road in Germany is a part of the Autobahn!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

International Ministry With The International Gospel

This past month I have been doing a lot of teaching in the Bible school and on Thursday evenings in my Bible study. Recently I got thinking about something in connection with all of this and I finally got around to posting a blog about it. Here is a picture of me teaching this year at RHEMA Bible Training Center Germany.

Although you can't tell just from looking at the picture, there are people in our school this year from Germany (of course), Brazil, Cameroon, Croatia, England, Italy, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Slovakia, the USA, and Vietnam. When you add in the people who attend the Bible study on Thursday night there are more Germans, as well as people from Eritrea, Ghana, Iran, Nigeria, Romania, the USA, and Zambia! Besides all this there are many people from other countries who attend our church and others who have been to our school in the past. So, from this one place I end up with a very international ministry that touches the lives of people from many different places.

The other thought I had about this was how, no matter where someone comes from, the Gospel message can have a positive affect on their life. Some people are so concerned about a person's natural identity and ethnic background, but not God. God is not considering where someone was born or the color of their skin. The Bible is just as valid in Europe as it is in North America and it is great to know that God's Word works for everyone everywhere who puts it into action. The Gospel is an international message of the Good News about what Jesus did for all mankind and I am glad to be able to tell so many people from so many places about it!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Message Multiplication

Just over a week ago we had one of our Bible Training Center alumni visit us at the church. Corina is originally from Germany and she now lives in South Africa where she works with children. Here below I have posted a picture of Corina sharing about her work at our church.

It was great to hear about the work that Corina is doing in South Africa. It was also very nice to listen to Corina and see how she has gone from a student in school to an alumnus who is out proclaiming the Good News to others.

At the bottom of every newsletter I have my "Mission Statement" of "Teaching the Word of God and training believers for greater service in the Body of Christ." It is one thing for me to know and understand the Bible so that I can teach and help others. But my desire is to go beyond my own personal development and to teach others to apply the Word of God to their own life and then also reach others with the truth.

When I see one of our graduates, or someone else I have worked with, sharing the life changing message of the Word of God it gives me great satisfaction. There are a lot of things that people use to measure their success. When I see someone I was able to help succeeding in life and the work that God has called them to, that is success to me!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

RHEMA Bible Training Center Starts Its Ninth Year!

This month we are starting the ninth year of RHEMA Bible Training Center Germany! It does not seem like it was actually that long ago that we began the school here and welcomed our first students. This month we welcome a new group of first year students along with those students returning for their second year of school. Here is a picture from school where John Grunewald is teaching the students about the background and history of RHEMA. Because we deal with people from many different backgrounds and many different countries, everything at the ministry of RHEMA Germany is done in English and in German. The young lady to the left of John Grunewald is Simone who is a graduate of our school and one of our translators.

It is always great to get started with school again and to be able to teach and train people to fulfill the will of God for their lives. The beginning of school is a time of excitement and anticipation for the students as they come to learn about God and His Word. But with that there is also a bit of uncertainty as some students are not quite sure what to expect from us. However, as the school progresses and the new students get to know us they settle into the place of learning and growing through the truths that they are taught.

This is our ninth year of school and all of us on the staff are expecting great things. The students are very receptive and eager to learn. I have already done some teaching and in about a week I will start the class on Bible Interpretation. We have had eight wonderful years of school so far and I really believe that this year will be great as well.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Matter Of Perspective

On my recent trip to the USA I was able to visit with some family and friends as well as speak in some churches over a period of about three weeks. It is always great to see everyone and to catch up on all the latest news. Another thing I enjoy is hearing about what is happening in other people's lives and ministries. Taking a trip like this is something I like to do because of the people I see and also because of the chance I have to get some different perspectives.

I have realized after nine years of being a missionary that it is good to get away from things from time to time. Taking a step back from the normal routine helps me to keep things in my everyday life in the proper perspective. It is also good to have the opportunity to talk with fellow ministers to see what God is doing in their lives. Hearing about all of the victories and even the challenges that are going on in the lives of others is also a good way for me to keep my own life in perspective.

It is so easy to get focused on our own lives and situations that we miss seeing the big picture. Taking a step back to examine our life and to see that what we know and experience is not all there is will help us to keep the right outlook on life. Some people think they are the only one who ever had a certain problem or that they are in a situation that no on else ever experienced. Besides that, some people start to get the idea that they see and know things that no one else sees or knows and that is not too good either. We all need to keep our life and experiences in the proper context. With a little realistic self examination and some good input from family and friends we can keep things in the right balance; I believe it is a matter of perspective.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Seeing Around Corners

Driving in Germany is different than in the USA, even though we drive on the same side of the road here and in the USA. I have been asked quite often about driving on the opposite side of the road here but that is in England and not Germany. Besides the obvious difference of signs being in German and not in English there are some other things that you will find if you are driving around in Germany and one of those things are the traffic mirrors. I have a photo here of one of these mirrors to show you want they are like. To get a better view of this you can click on the picture to enlarge it.

The traffic mirror is a handy thing that some smart person came up with to see around the corner in some of the tight streets here. There are some places where you cannot really see what cars might be coming your way but these mirrors are set up so that you can see the traffic on the street you are entering before you might meet them head on. In this picture you can see a mini-van that is on the street that intersects with the street in the picture. These mirrors are really helpful and I can think of a few places I have been in the states that would have benefited from having one of these!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dutch RHEMA Day 2007

Yesterday a group of us from the ministry of RHEMA Germany traveled over to The Netherlands for what we refer to as "Dutch RHEMA Day." This is something we started four years ago as a way to connect with RHEMA alumni living in The Netherlands. At a typical Dutch RHEMA Day, RHEMA alumni as well as other ministers and Bible school graduates come together for fellowship and to share ideas about how to effectively reach The Netherlands with the truth of God's Word.

Yesterday there were about thirty people who got together for lunch and some discussion time. There were RHEMA alumni from three different schools in attendance (USA, Germany, and South Africa). In the past we have also had other ministers from Germany and Belgium too. One of our goals at RHEMA Germany is to connect with and find ways to work with everyone we can with the idea of being as inclusive as possible and sharing resources and ideas that benefit others.

We have seen some great relationships develop through these meetings and many other established relationships have been strengthened. I have had many interesting and mutually beneficial discussions with RHEMA alumni and fellow ministers at these meetings. These get togethers have been wonderful and all of us are already looking forward to the next Dutch RHEMA Day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Permanent Visa!

In a previous post back in April I wrote about the process of renewing my visa to stay here in Germany. This post is an update to that post because I will no longer have to continue renewing my visa every couple of years because I now have a permanent visa! This is a great development for me and it means I will not have to go through the renewal process every couple of years any more.

The process of getting this new visa was a bit strange for me. I went through the usual steps for my visa renewal and then the person I picked up my visa from said he had to ask me some questions for my visa. Since the entire conversation was in German I thought I misunderstood something and said yes I have the visa now for two more years. He said, no I have to ask you some questions for your visa (?). I started to feel like I was in the old "Who's on first?" routine from Abbot and Costello. After a few moments however I realized he was talking about a different kind of visa and for this he needed some more information.

So he proceeded to ask about what I am doing in Germany, my financial status, my health insurance, if I have a family and about where I live. After all of that he said he needed to make some calls to check on some things. Once he did this he said he would let me know the results.

A couple of weeks ago I received the notice in the mail that my new residence permit was ready and my visa now has no expiration date! I am very happy about this and I know it is something every missionary would like to have. The really great thing about it was I did not even request the new visa or ask for the extension but the whole thing just developed on its own. It is so good to serve a God who not only cares about me but He is actively working to help me in every area of life; my permanent visa is one proof of that!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Teaching at RHEMA Mobile Bible Training Center - Berlin

This past Friday and Saturday I was in Berlin teaching at our Mobile Bible Training Center there. Last year we started this school in Berlin as a way to reach more people with the same teaching of God's Word that we have here in Bonn. This was my fourth trip to this school and this time I taught the subject of Bible Interpretation. The twenty students who attended this weekend heard some teaching on the basic principles of interpreting the Bible along with some examples of questions that people have about the Bible like, "What does the Bible teach about women in the church?", "What was Paul's thorn in the flesh?" and "What is the unpardonable sin?" As always the students were hungry to know more about God's Word and I thought this experience would be a good one to write about for my blog.

To start the whole process off I first had to go from Bonn to Berlin. On Friday morning at 8:30 AM I arrived at the Cologne / Bonn airport along with a translator from our ministry here. Our flight left at 9:40 and we did the check in along with the usual security screening. The flight itself only lasts 55 minutes so it does not take long to get to Berlin. Once we arrived and picked up our luggage we found a taxi to take us to our hotel. The Mobile School does not start class until 4:00 PM so there was some time for lunch, a short rest and a little time to look over my notes again. At 3:00 we took the 15 minute walk to where the school meets and got set up.

The classes in our "regular" school in Bonn as well as in the Mobile School in Berlin last for a total of twelve hours. In the Mobile School that means we have four classes on Friday night, four classes on Saturday morning and four classes Saturday afternoon. On Friday night after the last class we usually talk with students for a short time and then find somewhere to have a late dinner before going back to the hotel. Classes on Saturday start at 9:30 in the morning and the last class finishes at 6:30 in the evening. Normally between classes students will have questions so you answer questions, take a drink of water, and check the notes for the next class in between the teaching sessions. When you teach so many hours one right after the other it is different than just a class or two like we do in Bonn but it works fine for me. Once the classes are over on Saturday we get all of our materials packed up and we go back to the airport.

Normally we arrive at the airport around 7:30 PM and the flight will usually leave around 9:30. Unfortunately this time we had a bit of a delay. Our flight did not leave at 9:30 as scheduled but it left the airport at 1:00 AM! That caused us to arrive back at the airport here at 2:00 AM and I finally got home just after 3:00 AM. What made that significant is the fact that by 8:30 the next morning I needed to be at the church to start helping with the set up for our Sunday morning service. You could say it was a long weekend and a short night's sleep but judging from the reaction the students at the Mobile School had overall and from talking with some of them individually it was all worth it because the teaching helped them. That's the goal and with this and the previous classes I taught at RHEMA Mobile Bible Training Center in Berlin and from all indications it seems that this goal was met.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Amazing or ordinary?

This picture is from a castle ruins along the Rhine River, not far from where I live. In fact, I usually see this everyday of the week. I still remember when I first saw it, how amazing it looked and how cool it was to me that there was a castle just down the road from my apartment! But that was a few years ago. Now as I go by this castle, "Drachenfels" I see it but it is just an ordinary part of the landscape.

This experience is similar to what I have seen with myself and others in a number of areas. It can happen with interesting landmarks we live near, it can happen with our relationships and it can happen to us in our Christian life. Since my main area of work has to do with the spiritual side of life I tend to see things from that perspective. So often people start out as excited Christians, amazed by God and His Word and in a few years they have lost the initial excitement and everything becomes ordinary to them. "Yes, the Bible is wonderful but I've read it. God is so good but I've been a Christian for some years and I've settled into reality." These are not unique ideas or attitudes but something I have seen more often than I care to say.

When we start treating the Bible as just another book or we read it only as a part of our daily "Christian ritual" we are in a bad spot. When spending time with God is just another thing to do and not an amazing connection with the God who created the universe and sent His only Son to die for us we are in a sad state spiritually. What we need to do is really consider what the Bible is saying to us today and Who God is. Just like the natural landmarks we so often take for granted we need to take the time to stop, consider, and place the right value on God and His Word so we keep everything in the proper perspective. By doing this I believe we can keep our Christian life amazing and not allow it to be just ordinary.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Paris In The Spring - 2

After I made my first post about Paris In The Spring I wanted to make another post with some more pictures from my visit to Paris in May. For more details about the trip itself you can take a look at my last post; this time I mainly want to put up some pictures. One of the days I was in Paris I took a bus tour with some friends, that is probably the best way to see all of the things there are to see in Paris. This first picture is of the famous cathedral "Notre Dame".
The next picture is of the Louvre Museum. What surprised me about this building was that it is so large. I had the image of it being a building similar to some of the other museum buildings that I had seen in other places. The Louvre however is huge and this picture shows just one end of the building.

I also thought it would be interesting to just show a city street in Paris. Every city is different and this is one of the streets I passed through during my stay.

The last picture may seem odd but I have found it a bit fascinating to see how the police dress in different cities and countries in Europe. This is a picture I took on my bus tour of one of the types of police they have in Paris. I can't tell you exactly what all the different kinds are but I do know that there is more than one kind.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the pictures I took in Paris. In the future I plan to post some more pictures along with my blogs. If you want to find out more about Paris itself I found what seems to be the official website at and this site has plenty of good information and pictures.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Paris In The Spring

Earlier this month I had to opportunity to visit Paris during a series of meetings that were being held there. I had only been to Paris once before and that was only to change planes at the airport. This time I was there for four and a half days while I attended meetings in the mornings and evenings. That left the afternoons open for some sightseeing, which I don't always have much time to do.

Paris is a very interesting and impressive city and there are so many amazing things there are to see in the city. Every city seems to have a certain kind of atmosphere all its own and Paris is no different. The hotel I stayed at was only about 20 minutes walking distance from the Eifel Tower. The picture here is one that I took while I was in Paris.

From where I live here in Germany Paris is only an hour away by air so it is not too hard to get to. Next year there will be some more meetings in Paris during the month of May so if I am able to go to those meetings, and if I have some free time, I would definitely like to go and visit some more of the wonderful places in Paris. I took a lot of pictures while I was there and to end the blog here is another I took. This is of course the Arch de Triumph; it too is quite impressive when you see it in person.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Trash School

This post is actually from my old blog site that I had last year. But, because my old blog site died and went to blog heaven, I decided to "repost" this. I hope you like it and this is not something I am making up but the way things are really done here in Germany.

Before I moved to Germany I took some lessons in the German language and I studied a bit about Germany and the German people. But, when I got to Germany I found out that there were other things to learn about in order to live here and one of those things is trash. Many people have asked me about learning the German language but I don't think anyone has ever asked me if I have learned about the German trash system.

In Germany there are a number of different kinds of trash. At the bottom of this blog I have included a picture of some of the trash cans for the apartment building where I live. There are trash cans for recyclable trash (yellow containers), non-recyclable trash (metal container), and biodegradable trash (brown container); but that's not all. There is also separate trash collection for glass, which must be separated by the glass color (white, brown, or green), and there is also a separate trash bin for paper. So that is five different ways you can dispose of your trash.

But things don't stop there. Just when you think you have earned a degree in trashology you still need to master the trash calendar. The trash calender is a booklet that tells you what kind of trash is which and when it will actually be collected. This trash calendar has nine listings for the different kinds of trash to be picked up because it includes a schedule for things like appliances that you might throw away.

This may sound a little bit funny to hear about trash on a missionary blog site but it is just one of the interesting things you learn about when you live in another country. Maybe instead of just having language schools for missionaries there could be trash schools to help with the trash transition!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Energy From The Inside

Lately things have been so busy that I have not really taken the time to put anything on my blog site. Tonight as I was finishing up some other work I got thinking about what I have been doing lately, how it has been so busy, and how there are a few busy days coming up. It is 9:30 PM as I am writing this and I had a good idea for a blog post based on how things have been going for me lately.

No, I am not going to sing the blues and say it has been so hard lately. What I do want to mention briefly is connected to what this blog is titled, Energy From The Inside. If you look at what Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:16 about his prayer for the people in the church at Ephesus it is very interesting. Paul talk about, "to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man" and I think this is something that we often miss. Too many times we look for strength, support, and help from everywhere but where we should be looking, on the inside. As Christians we have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us and through the Holy Spirit we have available to us all of the strength, support, and help that we could ever need!

So many times we look at our circumstances, our feelings, or other people around us and we think we just can't go another step. I think vitamins, exercise, and vacations are all great but if we are relying on those things to help us get through life without being overwhelmed we are neglecting the real strength that God gives to us. We need to stop trying to be strong in ourselves and start focusing on who we are in Christ and what we have as new creatures in Christ. All of us need some recharging from time to time and I think the best way to do that is to plug in to the greater One on the inside of us and let Him help us and give the strength we need to live the victorious life that God intended for us to live!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Renewing My Visa

This past week I had to renew my visa again. Although this is not an extremely complicated process it can be time consuming. As a foreigner living in Germany I am required to register with the government and then to have their permission to live here. Again, this is not such a big thing but it is not something you think much about unless you are living in a country you were not born in.

The picture shown here is the government building I went to that has the offices for dealing with foreigners who need visas. This place is called the "Kreisverwaltung" but I am not exactly sure what the translation of the word would be into English. This building has offices for people like me looking for a visa as well as the German equivalent of the Department of Transportation where you can get your drivers license and license plates for your car. This is the same place that I got my German drivers license at a few years ago.

As an American getting the visa I need to live here is not too hard. What I am required to do is to show some purpose for being here and basically that I have enough money to not be a burden on the government. There is some paper work to take care of and some documents I need to provide them with (along with a fee of about $50.00) but it has all gone pretty smoothly for me. It is a bit strange thinking about the fact that you need to get permission to live somewhere and that there is even the possibility that they could actually throw you out of the country! The way I look at it is that this is just another one of the unique things that I need to do to live here and just another part of the life of a missionary.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Autobahn

If there is one thing many Americans know about Germany it is about the autobahn. While it is true that the German Autobahn system was an influence on the US Interstate Highway system there are some differences.

Most Americans have the idea that the autobahn is a system of roads with no speed limit. This is not entirely correct because although there are sections of the autobahn that are free of speed limits most of the autobahn has a limit of 130 kilometers per hours (about 80 miles per hour) and sometimes less in areas around cities. On the parts of the autobahn that have no speed limits there is often so much traffic that you can't go much faster than the normal limit. Besides that, because of the normal traffic congestion, a long drive on the autobahn is not a very relaxing experience.

Recently I took a trip to a leadership seminar with some other people from RHEMA Germany. Our trip to the meeting took us just about 4 hours but the trip home took about 7 hours! The main difference was that on the way home there was an accident on the autobahn and traffic was backed up for miles. Some of the traffic jams get so bad that the autobahn basically becomes a big parking lot and people get out of their cars and walk around to see if they can get some idea about what is going on. In fact, we experienced one of those situations on the way to the seminar. The autobahn is a great road system for getting around Germany but you hope that when you want to go somewhere there won't be any accidents or that most other people just want to stay home!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Updates Available

Like most people I have a computer. It is something that is very useful for me and my work and it is something I can use for some fun stuff too. On my computer I have some different types of software, like a firewall program and a virus scan program, that need to be updated on a regular basis. The other day as I was checking one of my programs on the Internet I was told that an update was available and that got me thinking.

To make sure that our computers operate properly we need to constantly upgrade and update the programs in it. If we only install the programs on the computer and then forget about them we can leave ourselves open to problems or at the least we fail to take advantage of some benefits that are available for those programs. This is very similar to how it is with Christians and the Bible. God has given us the Bible to help us in our life here on earth, for our benefit and protection. If we find out what the Bible says and make the truth of the Bible a part of our life it will help us to avoid some of the problems that come our way and it will help us to develop and grow as Christians.

Too often people become Christians and then they fail to check in the Bible to update what they believe and it is to their disadvantage. We all need to do as it says in Romans 12:2 and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. But we won’t be transformed if we do not continually check what we believe against what the Bible teaches and continue to live a life based on Bible principles. There are always updates available to Christians in the Bible because we are all growing spiritually. Don’t wait too long between updates so you don’t miss out on the best things that God has for you!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Up And Running Once Again

Well, here I am blogging once again. This is my second blog site and I am hopeful that this experience will turn out better than the previous attempt. The first blog I used had some problems and an eventual hardware failure that pretty much wiped out everything that I have done before! That was not so nice and I will give this blog a shot at working out.

I have some copies of some of my past blogs and in the future I plan on reposting some of them. This blog is completely new to me so it may take some time to get everything figured out and there will probably be some changes and developments along the way. For now I will just start blogging again and posting things about my life here in Germany and some of my thoughts.