Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out With The Old And In With The New

"Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead," - Philippians 3:13 (NKJV)

Here we are at the end of another calendar year; tomorrow will be the first day of 2009! This is the time of year when a lot of people make resolutions about what they would like to accomplish or change in the future. Often people look back on the previous year and see things they are not satisfied with and want to make some positive changes.

The verse from Philippians 3 is a very good verse to start the New Year with. No matter who you are I am sure that there were some things in 2008 that did not work out the way you would have liked them to. For me, 2008 was a very good year in many ways but there were some things from 2008 that I would rather not repeat in 2009!

First, we need to be like Paul and realize that we have not already arrived. Since we are all still human we will make mistakes and we are all still growing, developing, and changing. We should all do like Paul says here and forget about the past and look forward to some new things.

Second, we need to look at the coming year as a new page for us to write some great things on and not a worn out old piece of paper filled with crossed out lines and white out (remember that stuff?). We need to learn from our mistakes and failures but not live in the place of failure. Too many people make a mistake and then don't move past that place because they don't leave the past in the past. Forget about the shortcomings of 2008 and plan on success for 2009.
Even if you had a lot of success last year you can't go very far forward when you are always looking backwards. So start off 2009 right, forget about the past and look toward the future; God has a great plan for you in the coming year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Here Comes Santa

When I was young I remember being told how Santa Claus would come around to bring presents at Christmas time. Somewhere along the line the story was told that Santa would somehow magically come down the chimney to get the presents into the house. Since we did not have a fireplace with a chimney I was never too sure how that was supposed to happen, but since I always got some presents I did not really care how he got into our house.

Well, that whole idea takes a different turn in Germany. Since so many people live in apartments Santa has no chimneys to work with but he still has a job to do. Although apartments may not have chimneys many do have balconies and that is where someone got the idea for Santa's M.O. here in Germany, take a look at these pictures.

This is one of those things that made me do a double take when I first saw it, Santa climbing over the balcony like a burglar! It was a bit of a shock to me to see these guys hanging off of balconies all over, and while not everyone does it the "balcony Santa" does seem to have his place here in Germany. This is one of those things about living in another country; some things may be the same in principle but different in application.

If you are interested in some more German Christmas type things, last year I posted a blog about German Christmas Markets with some pictures that you can see by following this link - and if you would like some more information about what Christmas is like here in Germany you can go to this website -

Friday, November 28, 2008

Being Thankful - Part 2

Yesterday I posted a blog about being thankful and focusing on positive things instead of the negative. Well, tonight I had a really good opportunity to do that! This weekend I am hosting Jon Perrin who is a friend of mine and a former co-worker here at RHEMA Germany. Jon and his family now live and minister in southern Germany and if you would like to know more about their ministry you can follow this link and go to Perrin Ministries to take a look.

At about 10:00 PM Jon and I were doing some computer work when we heard some very loud music. When I say loud it is not an exaggeration but it was so loud things in my apartment were literally shaking! I soon discovered it was the neighbor next to me who was responsible and so I went out on to the balcony to try and get him to quiet down. He did come out to talk with me and he said he would be quiet after I told him it was too late to be so loud. Well, he went back into his apartment and started up again. By now all the other people in the building and even the people at the pizza restaurant across the street we all yelling at him to turn the music down.

Finally about 10:30 PM the apartment building superintendant had called the police, since my neighbor would not answer the door, and the police asked if they could come into my apartment to get to the noisy neighbor. I let them in and they climbed over my balcony to his to make him turn off his music. The police then told me to call them again if he starts with the loud music.

What does all this have to do with being thankful? What I have noticed is that when you see and embrace a Bible truth that very often something will come up to "test" you in that area. When this guy was playing his music so loud and ignoring my request to be quiet I was very tempted to start yelling some more and to maybe even throw something at his speaker, which was outside on the next balcony by the way. But, unhappy as I was with the situation I kept my cool and did not let it ruin my evening. The whole thing went on for over and hour with Jon and I laughing at how crazy the whole thing was. So the next time you face a difficult situation, especially about something you are just learning about do like it says in James 1:2-4 and count it as a joyful thing when you have a trial because you can be sure that your successful completion of the trial will only make you better!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Being Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. I think it is great that one day has been designated as a day to be thankful for things. What I think would be even better is if everyone was more thankful during the entire year and maybe we just had one day to be ungrateful and to not give thanks for what we have! That is a joke by the way.

As I thought about this blog idea I actually started to wonder if "thankful" was a word or if my English language skills were really getting bad after 10 years in Germany. So, I looked at an online dictionary to see if it is really a word and it sure is! Not only is thankful an actual word but the definition fits with my idea for this blog. The dictionary says thankful means, conscious of benefit received. Today is a day when we should be conscious of the benefits we have received.

Just before posting this blog I got home from my Thursday night Bible study and I can look at this two ways. I can be thankful that I have a place to go on Thursday night where people want to learn more about the Bible or I can be grumpy that it is late and it takes me about an hour to get home. Being thankful is a matter of perspective and focusing on the blessings we do have and not on whatever may not be so great. Everyone faces challenges in life but spending all of our time thinking about them will not only lead us to be unthankful (if that is even a word) but we will have a negative outlook on life and be a person no one wants to be around.

We need to start counting our blessings, as they say, and see how blessed we really are. So often we have a lot of positive things going on but we look at the negative. For example, when I saw the advertisement for this apartment they said it has a view of the Rhine River, which is cool. What they didn't say is that my apartment also has a "view" of a major street on one side and a "view" of the railroad tracks on the other side! I like my apartment and when I look out the window I choose to be thankful I have a view of the Rhine River and I don't focus on the traffic or the train. To me that is what it means to be thankful, focus on the good and positive things and don't let the negative side of things be all that you see. Happy Thanksgiving and remember to be thankful for all that God has done for you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

That's What I'm Here For

It has been a while since I posted my last blog, almost a month in fact. Things have been busy here with school starting and all of the other activities of the ministry and everyday life. I also had some computer "issues" to deal with but I am glad to get back into the blogging world. It seems like I have a lot of ideas for blogs but usually the blog falls behind other things in my list of priorities so that means no blogs sometimes.

When I moved to Germany 10 years ago one of the main things I wanted to do was teach other people Bible truth. I not only see this as my calling in life but I have a great desire to help others learn about God's Word for themselves. Last week I taught the class "New Testament Literature" in our weekday Bible school, I also did my Bible study on Thursday, and I led a small group with some of our students as a part of the Bible school.

What happened was that during the week when I taught my class, on Thursday at the Bible study, and in the small group with students there were times when I could tell that people were seeing the truth for themselves. Two particular instances stand out to me where I was having some discussion time, once in the Bible study and then in the small group with students. Both of these times I was asked a question about what something in the Bible meant and I explained from the Bible what was being talked about and what it means for us. The great part was when you could see the light go on with these people as they recognized the truth for themselves. When this happened I remember thinking to myself, that's what I'm here for!

I would by no means say I know everything about the Bible and my goal is never to brag about how great I am. What I do want to say is that when I see God use me to help someone else get an understanding of what the Bible is all about it gives me a sense of satisfaction because I know that is why God brought me here. Being a "missionary" living in another country and even being in full time ministry is not always the easiest thing to do. But I must say that the rewards of helping someone to learn more about God and His Word are more than worth it all. I am in no way complaining about my situation in life but rather I am rejoicing that I was able to fulfill part of the plan of God for my life and to help someone along in God's plan for their life; that's what I'm here for!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

10 Years In Germany!

Today is a special day for me as it marks the date that I moved to Germany 10 years ago to work with John and Michelle Grunewald and the ministry of RHEMA Germany. So much has happened during these past ten years that I could write several blogs about it all but I will only mention a few things.

My first trip to Germany was in 1995 but it was not until three years later in October 1998 that I actually moved. At first I lived near Heidelberg, Germany, which is a few hours south of here, and I relocated to the Bonn area a few months later. In 1998 there was no RHEMA Bible Training Center Germany; it was still in the planning and development stage. Being a part in this ministry from the very beginning has been a great experience.

These past ten years have been filled with growth and development. RHEMA Germany now operates a weekly Bible Training Center in Bonn and we oversee several weekend Bible Training Centers all over Germany and Europe. RHEMA Bible Church in Bonn has grown from a handful of people at its beginning in May 1999 to an average attendance, including children, of over 200 each week. The branch of the ministry we refer to as "RHEMA Europe" helps to oversee and assist the over 1000 RHEMA alumni who live in greater Europe.

The ministry team I am a part of at RHEMA Germany is outstanding and it is one of the reasons I have enjoyed being here so much. Most missionaries do not stay on the mission field for ten years and I credit some of my longevity to the awesome "fellow-laborers" I work with at this ministry. Being a missionary is not always the easiest thing to do but I have found the experience to be very fulfilling and rewarding. Not only am I following the calling that God has placed on my life but I have been able to be a part of working with and changing the lives of so many people through the church, Bible schools, and home groups. With ten years now behind me I look forward to the next ten and I expect them to be even better!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

School Registration Day

Today was the first day of the 2008-09 school year at RHEMA Bible Training Center Germany! This is always a great day as we get to meet new students entering their first year of school and we welcome back those students who are returning for their second year. For all of us who teach and are involved with the school it is a day we look forward to each year. We know it is just the beginning of great things in the lives of our students.

Although we are a Bible school there are still some things we have to take care of like registering the students, collecting fees, distributing books, and giving some basic instructions and information about the school. This picture shows some of the students waiting in line to register. They will then pick up their student manual which includes the student handbook and some class material.

Some of these new students come to us through the referral and recommendation of our graduates. Some of them have heard about us but do not know us very well. We also realize that the students come from different backgrounds and are at different levels of spiritual development; but the principles of God's Word work the same for everyone. No matter who they are or what course these students may have taken to come to the school we know that as they are taught the Word of God it will be a life changing experience for them!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

One Class, Two Missionaries

Last weekend we held a class at our mobile Bible Training Center in Bonn, the subject was "New Testament Literature". This is a class that I normally teach in our week-day school and in some of the mobile schools, but this time we did something different. Another missionary, Mark Six, was in Bonn during this weekend so it was decided that he would teach this class. Mark was informed that I would be attending the class and because the class consists of 12 hours of teaching over two days, and because he would be speaking in our church on Sunday, I could do part of the class if he wanted me to. We ended up having Mark do the first six hours of the class and then I did the final six hours. Here are two pictures from the class, one with Mark Six teaching and the other of me teaching.

Mark received a copy of my notes to help him prepare for the class and he did an excellent job not only covering the material but also by adding some of his own personal insights on the New Testament. It was different for me to have someone teach the first half of a class and then coming in to finish it but it worked out great. I personally enjoyed the teaching that Mark did and I heard from others in the class that they also benefited from his teaching as well as mine. With two different missionaries teaching in the same class the students had a unique opportunity to gain insight from both of us on the subject of the New Testament.

Mark and his wife Robin have been missionaries in several countries for a number of years, and I actually met them both a few years ago. Previously they lived and ministered in Belgium and The Netherlands and a return trip to these two countries was why they were in Europe. Both Mark and Robin are graduates of RHEMA Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma and they currently live and minister in Japan. If you are interested in learning more about Mark and Robin Six and their ministry you can visit their website at

Friday, September 12, 2008

Don't Get Weary While Doing Good

"And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint" - Galatians 6:9 (Amplified Bible)

Recently I have been thinking about this verse and how it can apply to growing and developing as a Christian and even making changes in everyday life. In July I posted a blog called "Making Changes" where I wrote about how we need to be open to change and growth in our lives. This blog might be called a second part to that one because they both fit together. There are many people who as they make changes in their life or as they take a further step to grow as a Christian they get tired and give up before they reap the results of their efforts.

There will always be growth "opportunities" and things that the Holy Spirit will show us that need to be changed and/or corrected. Usually we are enthusiastic at the beginning and ready to do whatever has to be done. But as time goes on we don't often see things change as fast as we want and we get weary in doing the right thing and we quit. In times like that I am so thankful that God is a good and gracious God and He will continue to work with us and help us get back on course if we get off track.

As I have been making some changes in my life, naturally and spiritually, I have sometimes become discouraged because it seems like it is taking me so long to get where I am going. God reminded me of that verse in Galatians 6:9 and He also gave me a good example to encourage me. One problem we have is that we live in such a fast paced society today and we want everything to happen right away without any waiting or delay. But the fact is that real growth and change will most often take time.

The example God gave me was that of a ship in the ocean. If one of those big oceangoing ships decides that they want to change course it is not an instant thing, especially if the course change is a big one. What God showed me is that making changes in life is more like a ship on the ocean than the drive through at McDonalds. We would like everything to be like the drive through where we place our order and a few minutes later we get what we want. Real change may take some time and realizing that can help us to hold steady as we make course corrections in our life. If we continue to follow the growth plan that God has for our lives we may not see changes overnight but if we don't get weary in doing the right things we will see the desired results. No matter what change you may be making or no matter how long you have been standing on God's Word in faith be assured that the time will come when you reap the rewards and it will be worth the effort!

Monday, September 1, 2008

What Would We Do Without You?

Last week I was helping someone move into a new apartment. There was some painting to do along with the moving of boxes and furniture. The person who was moving made the comment to me, "What would I do without all of you?" They were simply expressing their gratitude at the fact that a number of us were helping with the necessary work involved with relocating to a new apartment, but it got me thinking about a spiritual truth.

This comment made me think about the fact that today Christians are called the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:27 it says; "Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually". Then you can read in Ephesians 4:16 that every part of the body of Christ has something to supply, or give, to help the body. Too many times as Christians we do not realize the connection we have to one another and how important we are to each other. Often we think it is only the pastor or someone called into full time ministry who is really vital to what God is doing today. The truth is that we are all important parts of the body of Christ. If every Christian would see the value of what God has called them to do and then use the abilities that God has given them to help others it would change how they live and act.

Most of the time we put a high value on the gift and talent that someone else has and we minimize what God wants to do through us. The problem then is that every part of the body of Christ is not supplying what they have and so the body is not as well developed as it should be. Naturally speaking, if only half of our body was functioning we would have a problem. Spiritually speaking, too many Christians are not fulfilling their part in the body of Christ and we all suffer because of it. The answer to the question, "What would we do without you?" is that we will do far less than we should and not be as effective as we could.

If you are not sure about the plan that God has for you or about the gift and talent He has placed in you then ask God about it and get involved in your local church. God will help you see the ability that you have and how you can use it effectively to be a vital part of the body of Christ. Getting involved in your local church will give you a place to start contributing to what God is doing and it will give God something to work with in your life. We all need to understand our own importance to the body of Christ, take our place, and contribute with the abilities that God has blessed us with.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Leadership Training

This past Thursday and Friday, August 21 and 22, I attended a leadership training seminar led by Dr. Dean Radtke of The Institute of Ministry Management and Leadership. Dr. Radtke travels all over the world holding workshops for pastors and ministry leaders to help them develop their overall leadership skills. In the past I have attended this same "CEO and Leaders Workshop", as Dr. Radtke calls it, but I believe that teaching about leadership and effectively working with people is something that needs to be heard over and over again. As a minister and a missionary I strongly believe in continued training and education along the lines of ministry and leadership to help me stay sharp and so that I can continue to grow and develop in these areas.

On the left is a picture from the workshop that just took place here. Approximately 85 people from Germany, France, The Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, and The United Kingdom participated in these meetings that we at RHEMA Germany hosted for Dr. Radtke. There is a lot of work that goes into holding a series of meetings like this but it is well worth the effort. This leadership seminar was a benefit to me personally and by being involved with the work of hosting this seminar, and in that way having a small part in helping train and develop pastors and leaders, this also helps me fulfill the calling that God has for my life.

If you are a pastor or ministry leader I would definitely recommend attending one of these workshops. More information about Dr. Radtke's ministry can be found on his website at and you can also find a schedule of his upcoming meetings there.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Just Not My Day

The other day I was at a grocery store and as I was going to pay for my purchase I got mixed up trying to get the correct amount of change to the cashier. I was about to hand her some money when I realized my mistake and then recounted my money to give her what was needed. As the girl working the register saw my mix up she said, "It hasn't been my day either". I just smiled at her, trying to be nice and not really able to think up a good response in German. But I thought to myself, "Every day is my day because God is on my side" and as I took my things and walked away I got thinking about what she said.

Sometimes we have a day where it seems like we run into problem after problem. Often when this happens we say something like this girl said to me, "I guess it's just not my day!" But if today is not my day then when will I have my day and how will I know when it is my day? The problem is that the standard we use to determine when we are having a good day or a bad day is our circumstances. Instead of checking my circumstances to gauge if today is my day I have decided to make every day my day and believe that God will help me to deal with whatever comes my way.

Part of this for me is getting my thinking straight and part of it is getting what I say lined up with what God says about me. I choose to take God's side in my day and He has said He would help me (Hebrews 13:6), He is on my side (Psalm 118:6), He is for me and not against me (Romans 8:31), no weapon formed against me can succeed (Isaiah 54:17), and He will guide me in my life (Psalm 32:8). By focusing on what God has said about me and what He will do for me I find that my days are better and even when I face a difficult situation God always helps me to overcome it. So, if it seems like you are having one of those days that is just not your day then focus on God and what He has to say about your life and every day can be a great day!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Actions Or Reactions

This blog is from another one of my adventures at an airport. Traveling on an airplane is normally a very fast way to go from one place to another and usually the place that you are traveling to is one you want to get to so it is generally a pleasant experience, but not always.
This picture on the left is one I took at the Chicago O'Hare airport back in January after a crazy day of flight cancellations and delays. The line that these people are standing in was going to the United Airlines customer service center where a person would have the opportunity to try and reschedule their travel plans. I stood in this line earlier for just over an hour to find out that I had to wait two days before I could actually get on another flight to go back to Germany. When I was in the line it was actually much shorter than it is in this picture. My connecting flight arrived late in Chicago so I missed the plane I should have been on to Germany. But upon my arrival I found out that I was not alone in missing a flight and due to some severe weather conditions many, many flights were canceled.

This whole incident was not one that I would like to relive but things like this can and do happen. What I noticed about all of this was how the people involved in this unhappy mess were acting and reacting. Many people were very upset and yelling at anyone from the airlines who was standing still long enough to listen. I had to work my way around a couple of irate people just to be able to speak to someone from United Airlines and find out what my options were after missing my flight. I will have to say that everyone I talked with from United were very helpful and since they did not cause the tornadoes that caused my flight delay I was not mad at any of them, but that could not be said for everyone in the airport that day.

For me this whole incident was a lesson in actions and reactions. In any negative situation we can either react to the problem and be upset and take it out on whoever or whatever happens to be around us or we can see what has to be done to solve the problem and take the appropriate action. Although I was not happy about missing my flight back to Germany I realized that if I yelled at the United Airlines people that they would be less likely to even want to help me. Besides that, my being upset would not do anything to first of all change the weather (or what had already happened) and second of all it would not make me or anyone else happy. So my thought for this whole thing is that it is better to take a moment to look at a situation and find out the proper course of action instead of reacting to the problem and possibly making it even worse. Sooner or later in life we will all face a problem and how we act or react will make a big difference, for us and everyone around us.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Making Changes

For over two years now I have had a blog site. This blog site is actually my second, the first one I was using crashed. Then, to make things worse, the company running the site did not have things in place to back up the site and restore everything so I moved on to a new site. Just the other day I was looking at my blog site and I decided to make some minor changes to the way the site looks. That got me thinking about some other related things.

Throughout our lives we are making changes. In fact, the only thing that does not change is that things change! Most people are like me where the things that are familiar are what we like best and we don't always want to make the changes and adjustments that we should. Recently I have been looking at some things in my own life and making some changes. Nothing radical, just some small adjustments that I believe will make things better for me.

My belief is that since none of us are prefect we need to be ready and willing to make changes when we find an area of our life that needs it. As a Christian and a minister I want to follow God's plan and purpose in my life and that sometimes leads to a change or two. What I have found is that there are times I resist the change from something familiar to something new, but when I make the changes that God leads me into it always pays off! Keep an eye on your life, and keep your spiritual ears tuned in to God and be ready to make any necessary changes; it will always be worth it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

RHEMA Germany Graduation 2008

Last month I posted a blog about our school graduation ceremony and the alumni luncheon that was held on the same day. At that time I only had some pictures that I took at the luncheon but none of the actual graduation ceremony itself. I now have some pictures and I have finally gotten around to making another post using these pictures to show what our graduation was like. This first picture shows the graduates from RHEMA Germany with Pastor and Mrs. Hagin and the school instructors.

Pastor Hagin was the featured speaker for the ceremony itself and here are some pictures from the ceremony showing Pastor Hagin and also one of the audience.

At the end of the graduation ceremony the students received their diplomas to signify their completion of the two years of training that they received at RHEMA Bible Training Center Germany. Here are one of our students from Germany and another from The Netherlands receiving their diplomas.

The graduation ceremony was a complete success. Many of these graduates are already involved in one area of ministry or another. We believe that the training that all of these graduates have received has helped to prepare them to continue on in the plan of God in their life and we expect them all to be a great benefit to the Kingdom of God!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Playing Softball In Germany

Yesterday we had our annual church picnic. It was a really great time of fun and fellowship with the usual cookout on the grill and lots and lots of good food. One thing we did here for the first time was to have a softball game. For most Americans that does not sound like a big deal but in Germany most people have never played any kind of baseball. So what we ended up with was quite a few people doing their best to play a game they had only seen in a movie.

We divided up those who wanted to play into two teams. But when the teams consist of a few Americans and people from Germany, Croatia, Russia, and South Africa then as you can imagine the skill level is not too high. Besides that we had adults and kids playing so that also had an effect on how much we bent the rules in order to just have fun and not really count who was winning or losing. Some of the kids ended up having about five strikes before they hit the ball and many of us who were playing the field were suspiciously inept at being able to make an easy throw to first base or something similar. However, everyone had a lot of fun (myself included) and we all found out that just playing for the fun of it is alright sometimes.

One thing that I did get thinking about was the differences between different countries and how something that people are so used to in one place is so strange to people from another place. Softball is one such example of that. I thought it was really great for so many people who had never swung a bat or put on a baseball glove to go out and try this strange game and how most of them did surprising well at it. We may or may not play softball at our church picnic next year but I am sure the memories from this year's game will last a long time.

Friday, May 30, 2008

RHEMA Germany Promotional Video

At our graduation ceremony last week we showed a video that we are using as a way to promote our school and the overall ministry of RHEMA Germany. The video is about four minutes long and it gives some information about what we are doing at RHEMA Germany. The video also includes some statistics about Europe, RHEMA around the world, and there are some testimonies from past and present students. I hope you enjoy the video and it helps you to have a better idea about what we are doing here in Germany and Europe.

This video was originally posted on the RHEMA Germany channel on YouTube with some other videos from the ministry here. If you would like to view this video on YouTube you can see it at

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Graduation And Alumni Meeting

Last week we held the graduation ceremony for RHEMA Bible Training Center Germany and an alumni luncheon on the same day. Although we have students who complete the school program each year we only have the actual graduation ceremony every two years. There are a couple of reasons that we do it this way and one of those reasons is so that we are able to have Pastor Kenneth and Lynette Hagin come as our featured speakers for this event. The graduation ceremony is a wonderful time for the students to have a public recognition of their completing the two year school program and a time for others to celebrate this occasion with them.

One other thing we always like to include with our graduation is an alumni meeting. Because Pastor and Mrs. Hagin are already here for the graduation ceremony we like to hold an alumni meeting with them as well. Here is a picture of the Hagins addressing the alumni and a couple of pictures I took of some of the alumni who attended the event.

There were approximately 90 alumni from four different RHEMA schools who attended this meeting. The Hagins expressed their joy at being able to see so many graduates and they also encouraged each person to fulfill the plan that God has for their life. Graduations and alumni meetings are not something we do here every day but when we do have them they are always special events.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Let Go Of The Can!

In February, after returning from my last trip to the states, I was in the Frankfurt airport waiting for my luggage. As I waited for my bags to come down the conveyor belt I saw another man doing the same thing. However there was one difference between him and me, he was holding a can of some type of drink in one hand. I noticed the drink and thought to myself about how after a long trans-Atlantic flight it is nice to have something to drink.

Then, before my bags came along the man with the can spotted one of his bags. Like many people he had a large bag that was packed pretty good and when it came by him he grabbed it, but he didn't let go of the can! I watched in amazement as he struggled to get his one bag off of the conveyor belt with only one hand. He did it but it took a lot of effort and certainly much more than he would have needed had he used both hands. Then something even more amazing happened, his second bag arrived and he did the same thing! This man was on the opposite side of the baggage pick up area from where I was and too far away for me to help him but I wanted to yell at him, "Hey, let go of the can!" It would seem like an obvious thing to do, but rather than drop the can he struggled to get his two bags with only his one free hand.

Shortly after this incident my luggage arrived and I left the baggage claim area. As I walked away I thought about how hard it was for this man to do what he needed to do because he would not let go of the can he was holding. This was an example to me of how so many people go through life hanging on to things that although they are not wrong, what they are holding on to makes what they need to do in life more difficult than it has to be.

This reminded me of what it says in Hebrews 12:1 where it tells us to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Often times it is not the sin that becomes a problem but it is the extra weight that holds us back from "running our race" for God as Hebrews 12 goes on to say. We need to keep an eye on the things we hold on to in life, like that man did with the can, and let go of anything that might hinder us from being as effective as we ought to be. God has a great plan for each and every person and by putting aside the things that hinder us we can be more productive in the things that we do.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Teaching AND Translating

On Thursday nights I lead a Bible study in the city of Cologne. The group is made up of people from several different nations and normally we do the meeting entirely in English. That may sound strange to lead a group in English while living in Germany. But there are a number of people here who speak English and it is simpler to lead a group in one language. Occasionally we do have some people who do not speak English at the Bible study so someone translates for me. This group has been going for over two years now and it is always something I look forward to.

Last night was a different meeting than normal. I did my usual part of leading the group and teaching the lesson but I had an extra job to do last night, I was the translator too! This is actually the second time this happened. Last night there were two people at the meeting who did not speak enough English to be able to understand the lesson without translation. The only problem was that no one was present who could translate. One young man in the group volunteered to try to do it but he did have a few moments where he got stuck and so for some of the group I would say something in German and then translate it myself into English. The other time this happened I did the whole thing on my own.

My German language skills are not at the level where I would consider myself a fluent speaker of the language but I can get by and have some conversations with people solely in German. But, translating yourself from German into English is another thing! And because my German is not as good as it could be there were a few funny moments as I mixed up some words or used a completely wrong word and had to have someone else help me out. It certainly made the evening a very interesting and memorable one.

Now, I am by no means trying to drum up sympathy here. I am willing to do whatever it takes to do what I am supposed to do. The first time I did this it was harder because I had never done it before. But, it did work so when faced with the situation the second time I was more prepared to jump in since I had been down the road before. This whole thing motivates me to improve my German language skills more but it also shows the importance of being ready for anything and being willing to do whatever it takes, even if it sometimes means doing double duty.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Different Kind Of Memorial

One of the things that the city of Bonn is known for is the fact that Beethoven was born here. The house he was born in has been turned into a museum and they have placed a statue in the center of the city as a way to remember and honor Beethoven. While I was in Bonn the other day I took this picture of Beethoven’s statue.

As I was riding the train home I got to thinking about this statue of Beethoven that was set up as a memorial to remind people of who Beethoven was and that he once lived in Bonn. This got me thinking about Good Friday and Easter, which were only a few days away at the time, and how these days are used to remember Jesus, who He was and how He died and rose again. Today Beethoven is dead and you can listen to some music that he wrote. Today Jesus is alive and He gave us more than just some music; Jesus came to die on the cross for us and to bring us into a new covenant relationship with God.

As Christians we are the temple of God and living stones in the spiritual house of God, which is the church, the Body of Christ on the earth (1 Corinthians 3:16; 12:27; 1 Peter 2:5). To me this is an amazing thing and it is what makes Christianity different than every other belief system in the world. We are a different kind of memorial, a living representative of Jesus on the earth here to show the world who He is and what His life meant for us and everyone else. Easter is a special time to remember Jesus but we need to keep in mind that we are ambassadors for Christ everyday and we all have a “mission field” to work in. From now on when I am in Bonn and I look at this statue it will make me think of more than just a great composer; it will remind me that I am a different kind of memorial.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Traveling, Traveling, Traveling

This past year I have done a lot of traveling. In fact, I just returned to Germany from a two week trip to the USA to speak in some churches and to attend the Winter Bible Seminar at RHEMA USA in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When I look back at the past twelve months I realize that I have done quite a bit of traveling.

In the past 12 months I have taken 3 trips back to the states as well as several trips inside of Germany and Europe. I have traveled in cars, trains, and airplanes through 4 different countries and in 6 different states. During my travels I have spoken in 12 churches and shared about my missionary work at 2 others. I have spoken in 4 different Bible schools, including our regular weekly Bible school here in Bonn, on 9 different subjects. I have also been through 14 different airports and I have flown on 7 different airlines.

Not every trip was as smooth as I would have liked it to be but I was satisfied with what I was able to accomplish on these trips. My first goal is of course to teach people about the Word of God. Many of my trips also included times of me telling people about my ministry to give them the chance to get involved with what I do through their financial support. I do like to travel but after a few delayed flights and several different hotel rooms it does not seem so glamorous any more. But don't get me wrong, I think what I do is the greatest "job" in the world even though it isn't always the easiest thing to do.

One other aspect I like about traveling is that it gives me the opportunity to see what God is doing in other churches and through other people. As I travel I also have the chance to visit with many people that I have been friends with for several years and even to make a new friend or two along the way. Besides all that, just with all the traveling and interacting with other people you end up with a lot of stories to tell. I already have a few ideas about some blogs I could write about some of these stories so that is coming up. Traveling can be a busy and tiring experience but it can also be very rewarding. This time next year I suppose I will have to look back again and see if I traveled more or less than these past twelve busy months.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Rhine River

One of the things I like about where I live in Germany is that I am close to the Rhine River. I am fortunate to have a view of the Rhine River from my apartment. These first two pictures were taken by me from my balcony looking towards the river. The first was obviously on a sunny day while the second I took after a storm had passed through.
The Rhine River is about 700 miles long and it is the most important inland waterway in Europe. The Rhine flows from the Swiss Alps northward to where it empties into the North Sea. Here are two more pictures that I took of the Rhine that show some of the river traffic.

In case you are wondering if I rented an airplane to take those pictures I have to say no, I just climbed a hill that lies to the west of the Rhine. On this hill there is an old castle ruins, which you can see in this picture below.

On the very top left-hand side of the picture you can see the castle ruins I mentioned before. The castle on the right hand side of the picture is the same one I mentioned in a previous blog titled "Amazing or Ordinary" from last July.

The Rhine River is quite a sight to see and I feel very fortunate to live so close to it. In fact, the advertisement for my apartment listed a view of the Rhine River as one of the apartment benefits. However, what was not listed is that on the side of my apartment where the Rhine is I also have a nice "view" of a very busy road and on the other side I have a nice "view" of the train. If you look carefully in the fourth picture you can see both the road and the tracks for the train. In spite of all that it is still a great place to live and I really enjoy being able to look out my window and have a view of the Rhine River.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Most Important Thing

It seems like I just made my last posting here but it has actually been one month ago! Normally I have been adding something to my blog site twice a month. But since returning from my trip back to the states in December I have been busy catching up with some things here so my blog had to wait.

Like most people it seems that I can always find something to stay busy with. One thing I have learned is that we need to keep things in the proper perspective and to set priorities. Because people do not do that they often have difficulties in life. Too many times we just run from project to project trying to put out all of the fires that come up and we never really seem to get caught up. Besides that, the most important thing in life gets neglected - our relationship with God. We should realize that if we put our relationship with God first then everything else in life will fall into place; getting God more involved in our life will only help us!

My main goal is to be sure that I take time to keep my relationship with God strong through reading and studying the Bible and by spending time with God in prayer. If I do that, then I am better prepared to do the things that God wants me to do in my life and ministry and everything else in my life seems to work out better. If we don't keep our relationship with God strong then we cheat ourselves and everyone around us out of the best that we can be. The most important thing in life is to have a strong relationship with God and with that as our main goal everything else in life will be much better for us and everyone else too.