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.