Deutschland #5 & #6a – in brief

DAY 5 – Finished my Monday off with a dinner at a great Sicilian restaurant with Jochen & his wife Brigidda & Tim & Deborah – we dined, Italian style, over a several hour period, & the food was really great.

Except it came back up a few hours later… with interest. I’ll spare you the gory details, but I have done more than my time holding on to the toilet to keep from falling off the world. I think it was the gnocchi & its sauce that must have done it. Finally went to sleep about 4, & then woke up early Tuesday for a Skype & headed back to bed until 1.


DAY 6 Felt a lot better after waking up – good enough to grab some coffee & bread, & then get cleaned up in preparation for going bowling with the Kern family before the Deutschland/Brasil football game. Julia likes to bowl, & was feeling so confident that she decided to make a bet with me: WHEN she won, I would have to sing the German National anthem outside (which is never done, save during the World Cup.) And if by some miraculous chance I won, she would drink an espresso, with no milk or sugar. For her to propose that as her ‘punishment’ for losing gives you some insight to how much she detests the taste of coffee. The closest she comes to drinking a hot beverage close to coffee is 4 fingers of warm milk & 1 finger of hot coffee.

So, of course, I won – both games. I posted a video of her drinking her coffee on Facebook if you’re interested.

After bowling, we grabbed a doner, burrito style, & headed to Heiko & Linda’s to watch the game, which started at 10 p.m. local time. I even stood & sang the national anthem with the family. Instead of ‘game’  I should say, the rout.. None of us had ever seen anything like it in such a high level of soccer. After the 3rd goal, we were almost speechless… not quite, as my hosts made sure to yell their lungs out. I have to say, every time the TV showed Brazil’s fans weeping in the stands, I laughed really hard. Evidently, it is NOT just a game to them, but something more. And it was funny to watch.

Can’t wait for the final on Sunday – I’m pulling for an all European final – Deutschland/Netherlands.

This is a short blog – I didn’t do much since last night except barf & bowl, & it is now 1:20 a.m. So, I hope to write a bit more tomorrow before I head back into Frankfurt.

Many blessings to you – & thank you for the prayers.



Deutschland #4 & #4.5

Woke up early on Sunday & got ready for church – on a whim, I decided to try to FaceTime theBean (it was midnight at home, so I thought my chances of catching her awake were slim to none.) Imagine my surprise when she answered on the first ring. There’s nothing in the world like the sound & sight of myOne. Our brief connection made the rest of the day seem doable.

After a quick breakfast, we headed out to church. Actually, it was to a regional church service – every 8 weeks or so, the 5 Foursquare churches in the area get together for a joint service. On a rotational basis, each church takes part of the responsibility for elements of the service (kids ministries, hospitality, worship, announcements, preaching/teaching, etc.) The reason behind the get-together is two-fold:

  1. Fellowship & relationship building – there aren’t many Christians in Germany, so opportunities for getting together with other Christians are rare. The kind of encouragement & ‘life boost’ that comes from these get-togethers is huge.
  2. Many of the “free” (non-Catholic/Lutheran) churches in Germany are small – 40 people & under. Partnering with other churches allows them to share resources & do more than they could do if they were organizing a gathering on their own. It’s a cool picture of parts of the body of Christ functioning well for the benefit & growth of the whole body. It really makes the self-focused, “doing church my way for my church’s benefit” that is emerging in the Western Church seem pretty silly, petty, & shallow.

Tim spoke on the 3 marks of a disciple from Mark 3 – emphasizing that disciples have 1) been with Jesus; 2) been sent by Jesus; 3) have lives marked by the power of God as evidenced by declaration of the gospel & overthrow of the kingdom of darkness. He did a great job bringing things into a context that made sense regardless of our nation of origin/language. Made me proud, & I’m loving watching he & his wife Deborah fall in love with the people, church, & nation of Deutschland.

IMG_1557I was whisked away right after church to the house of Julia’s sister, Linda, & her husband Heiko. I haven’t seen them since right before they were married a couple years back, so I really looked forward to catching up with them. They spent the morning prepping a BBQ for us – & goodness, it was tasty. We ate steaks, white sausage, tater salad – German style, cucumber salad, & a kind of meat that came from France that no one really translated. It was French, but even so, it was palatable. Here’s a picture of Heiko & Julia, representing Nevada & the Wolf Pack, surrounded by German flags. I had to tell them to put their index fingers up to make “#1” – because in Germany/most of the rest of the world, they start counting numbers with the thumb being #1. They were happy to look like ‘real Americans.”

IMG_1558We’d barely finished lunch when Linda decided to take us on a brief walk through the forest near their home, overlooking a green, tree-filled valley. Didn’t walk too fast – didn’t want to hurl. It was a beautiful, refreshing walk through the trees – except for the 50 meter section where the midges showed up in force. Mr. Frodo, I feel your pain. I ended up with several bites on my right leg – evidently that one is much tastier than the left.

Unfortunately, I had to leave early from the family dinner to head out. Julia drove me to meet Jochen (the regional leader) & Tim & their families for a dinner in a local biergarten in the village of Ulm. Think Great Basin-Sparks outside sitting area x3 & covered with a well-trimmed & lush grass patio blanket, surrounded by 30 foot tall trees. It was nice. Over the pub-brewed beer, we discussed Foursquare, both the US & Deutsch churches, & went back & forth asking/answering questions… there were a few times as we talked that I could see that some of the political/bureaucratic activities that unfortuntely happen as denominations get larger really struck a nerve, & gave me new & fresh eyes to reconsider what has been our (US) normal for church life.

For the most part, we schemed different ways for an interchange to take place between the US & German churches… & have a couple potential dates on the calendar for next year. We’re meeting to firm them up over dinner tonight.

Got back to the house of Kern in time for a snack – salami, cheeze, pretzel bread, & some vino from a local vintner. One of my highlights from this trip has been time around the tables, both in the kitchen & on the patio, with the Kern family: Klaus, Pia, & dear Julia. They’ve taken great measures to ‘stop life” & make the days I’m here very, very special. Words are inadequate to describe the special, special gift that this has been to me, & I am very, very thankful for this ‘chosen family’ who have become some of ‘my people” on the other side of the world.

The storm hit about 10 p.m. Rain. Thunder & lightning. Wind. Reports of a tornado touchdown in nearby Rammstein. It was hot, humid & loud. Made it very, very hard to sleep. I guess I eventually drifted off around 2:30 a.m., as my last iMessage to theBean was at about 2.

Woke up on Day 5 (4.5 for blog purposes) with a start at 8. FaceTimed theBean again as she was off to bed. Weirdness to be starting & ending our days at exactly opposite times. Winding down while the other is winding up. But the 9 hour time difference is cool too, as it provides a great communication window. This morning, I wished I was home getting ready for sleep in my own bed. And I would have turned on the air. TheBean told me she turned the air off upstairs because she likes to be warm. Evidently, 90 degrees in our room is just about right. No exaggeration, no kidding. That girl.

IMG_1563My man bag has died. I bought it 7 years ago in Frankfurt, & it has survived travels all over the world, carrying my lappy, journal, notebook & all my other ‘go-tos’. It has holes in the sides & bottom, & it no longer zips. Therefore, I decided to replace it – Julia took me shopping a couple of places until I picked out the newby. Here it is.

Found out that the store we were shopping in had a familiar name, so I decided to get a pic of the sign with Julia in it. IMG_1565

A successful shopping trip deserves a reward, so Julia & I drove a whole 7 minutes to get out of town & go to McDonalds. It was an experiment really – I wanted to see if the beef in the McDonalds burgers tastes the same as it does at home. Got a McDouble w/extra ketchup. Turns out, they taste totally different. It might be that they use Australian beef here like they do in Eastern Europe. Not sure, but the burger tasted… beefier? More real? Its not like I eat at McDonalds at home very often; more like 2 or 3 times a year. Maybe it was because I was a hungry elf & anything would taste good. It was time well-spent.

Picked up a couple of gifts & then headed to the house to study a bit for next Sunday (I’m preaching in Mainz, Germany at the church of Jan von Wille, a pastor & the national leader of Foursquare Deutschland. I’m doing a variation on the last message I preached at home: We Are On A Mission From God, text John 20:19-22. For the last hour or so, Julia & I have been sitting at the table, not talking, working on our laptops. She’s my kind of people, & I’m so thankful for this wonderful adopted German daughter. Love being her Ami-Papi (the name she gave me, means “American Dad.”) I’ll finish my Monday blog sometime tonight or tomorrow morning, after I live it. :)

I close this blog before I head to take a nap with a picture of the old Man-Bag next to the new one. Distinctly heard the old one say to the new one, “Carry on.”



Deutschland #2 & #3

This post will be a sum up of the last 2 days – life has been busy, & it’s been very late by the time bedtime comes… so late that I have prioritized sleep & rest over blogging. But tonight, I’ll at least give the “sum up” version of what’s up so that you can be praying for me.

Day #2 – Independence Day began for me with a great breakfast – lots of coffee & a paleo-friendly plate of food which included cucumbers, carrots, hummus, an egg, & an oven-baked peach sweetened with honey & balsamic. Great stuff.

Even better were the talks over food – I have to say, one of my favorite things is being able to pick up with friends after a couple years worth of life & ‘catch up” without missing a beat. Alex & Linda are those kinds of friends, & I am coming away rich & blessed from our conversations.

The time came for me to head to Baden-Baden (Southwest Germany) for my next round of commitments – I bought a train ticket & took an Uber ride to the main staition. My train was delayed for a 1/2 hour, so I had some rodeo burgers from Burger King & then caught the train.

Which was full. To overflowing. Turns out, one of the passenger carts was condemned/closed, so there were more people on the train than seats. Which meant that my place for the entire 90 minute trip was standing in a hallway directly outside the bathroom. With no A/C. And with an extra pungent toilet to boot. It took all of 10 seconds for me to start sweating, & within 10 minutes, I was soaked. I tried to help the problem by fanning myself & using paper towels to wipe away the perspiration. But to no avail. After soaking (I could wring out the towels) my 5th set of 3 towels, I decided, “what the heck,” & sweated like a beast for the remainder of the ride. The arrival in Baden-Baden was celebrated with great joy.

IMG_1545Julia picked me up & took me to her family’s home in Achern, about 20 minutes away. I quickly cooled down & caught up with my adopted German daughter. On the way, I found out that the plans for the night included watching the Germany/France World Cup match with a crowd of people. Boom!.  After freshening up, Julia & I headed to the home where we would watch the soccer game – it was broadcast on a big screen about 8×10 feet, in a room with about 30 people in it. And it was hot.

IMG_1547And the best part was the people watching. Everyone, ladies included, are hard core fans. The lady in the picture looks sweet & kind & self-controlled. And she was. Until Germany was close to scoring. Then, she would jump & scream at the screen along with everyone else. It was beautiful, & would make the most ardent SEC Football fan proud.

SIDE NOTE: I’m really proud of myself too – I was able to sneak a photo without even looking. I may even be able to take a selfie at some point. But I won’t. Because, hey, guys shouldn’t take selfies.

After Germany’s victory, we ended the day with pizza & I headed to my room to FaceTime theBean & then head to sleep. Waaaaaay too late, especially knowing I had a 7 a.m. wakeup call the next day.


Day #3 – I woke up right before my alarm & decided to FaceTime my girlfriend. Because I can. Personal connections, even for a few moments, make the weeks apart more bearable. Julia’s mom is an incredible hostess, & prepared a great German breakfast – kaffee, rolls, jam, meats & cheeses. The best. Benny, my ride to today’s pastor’s meeting showed up way too soon, & I had to leave to make the 2 hour trek to Engstingen (near Stuttgart.)

The weather was rainy & overcast – which meant a well – needed respite from the hot. We arrived at the pastor’s meeting, & there were about 9 churches represented, & approximately 25 people in total. The program for the day included food (yes) plenty of coffee (double yes) & discussions led by my good friend Tim Clark (triple yes.) He talked from Exodus 3 on the calling of Moses… he’d intended to develop the idea of “Pastor Moses” but we never got beyond the calling. Our meeting developed into a Q&A session, with many people weighing in & speaking “real-talk” from their hearts. We finished about 4 hours later with prayer for each other. It was a divinely appointed time that was very impactful for all involved. I am blessed beyond words to have been with the men & women living & serving on the front lines of the church in Germany. They are true heroes of the faith – living faithful, obedient lives in the face of great opposition. These are Hebrews 11 people.

IMG_1551I ate too much blackforest cake at the meeting, so I got a little car sick on the way back to Baden-Baden. It wasn’t that we were traveling at 110 mph. (170 kmh) Truly. I managed not to barf in the back seat, & we arrived back in Baden-Baden just in time for Julia’s mom’s chili. And I was feeling better. So yay for me.

We ended up spending the rest of the evening (about 5 hours) eating & hanging out on the back porch. Talking about important things: theology, asking questions, joking, & sharing meaning of life interactions. Klaus & Pia, Julia’s parents, have blessed me so much in the short time I’ve been here. Can’t wait for the next 2 days of fun, laughter, & great, great talks.

I finally stole away to write this at about midnight. Klaus & I have been watching the Belgium/Costa Rica World Cup match out of the corner of our eye, & as of now, there is still no winner. No matter. I will wake up tomorrow & know. And then Tuesday, there is a late-night fest at a friend’s home to watch Brazil/Deutschland. It starts at 10 p.m. local time, so we will be up LATE.

Tomorrow is church – Tim is speaking, & I don’t have an explicit assignment, which means I get to show up & talk to people. Easy peezy. I love this place. I aim to blog again tomorrow – please know, if I wrote down everything that happened in the last 2 days, it would fill more books than you would want to read. But these are the highlights. And I am a thankful & blessed man. And one of the best parts of life is sharing it with brothers & sisters in Christ from Germany.

Please pray for me as you think of it. Many blessings & much love to you!


Deutschland, #1

On a whirlwind trip.

My flights to San Francisco & then to Frankfurt were on time… early even. For the 11 hour flight to Frankfurt, I ended up next to a burly Russian bear of a man. He claimed the center seat’s armrests & didn’t give them up for the entire flight.

Either I haven’t flown United in a long time or my memory of palatable airplane food is revisionist history – both dinner & ‘breakfast’ this morning went largely uneaten, in large part to a) my inability to discern WHAT it was I was eating & b) the gnarly gnarly odors coming from the food trays. I ate yesterday, thanks. I’m good.

Claimed my bags (yes!) & navigated out to the U-Bahn – I had confirmed with Alex that I’d be going to the Hauptwache (main station) & waiting until I heard from him, so I followed the plan & grabbed an authentic German delicacy, “Coke Light” from the McDonald’s. And I waited, read, people watched. And then I got Alex’s call. Jump on a U1, U2 or U3 (UBahn trains) & get off at Hueglestrasse. And then wait for instructions. Man. It seemed like I was James Bond for a second.

After getting off on Hueglestrasse, I waited at the Rewe (local supermarket) for the Uber taxi driver to pick me up. Uber is a phenomena we experienced in San Francisco over spring break – & I’m really glad its made its way to Germany. Uber are run by private citizens with 2010 or newer cars – & they serve as an on-demand taxi service. I was picked up by my driver & delivered to Alex & Linda’s home in about 20 minutes.

Words can’t describe the joy I feel at reconnecting with Alex & Linda – a very special couple who we hit it off with in 2007– &, on top of that, the joy of being able to be in their home again. Alex was at the dentist when I arrived, so I had a glass of water & took some time with Linda to catch up on the happenings of life for the last 3 years. Linda is a teacher – & she is a bundle of energy, very passionate about education… but even more so, she is passionate about Jesus. With her job in the German school system, she gets paid to share the gospel – to give students an understanding of what Christianity is – & I can’t think of a better messenger than her. If you are a Hillsider, let me describe Linda for you, using people in our church family as examples of a little of what she’s like. Imagine crossing Katy D & Danae L – & you get a little insight as to the kind of person Linda is. Alex arrived home & our talks were precious – pointed, raw, real, & full of wonder. I love these 2.

Tomorrow I’m off to Baden-Baden to see our dear Julia, our adopted daughter who lives near the Germany/France border… Julia lived with us for about 6 months, then came back & visited for about 2 more months. Can’t wait to see that girl & her family too. Also, we’ll be connecting with the regional pastors for a youth group/youth leaders event. Saturday, we’re heading to a town on the Swiss border called “Engstingen.” It’s a one-day gathering of pastors from all over the southwestern/south central region of Germany. Then Sunday, I will be joining a gathering of 5 churches for their monthly ‘celebration’ service.

I’m having fun already :)

Day 11 & 12 – Deutschland Fall 2010 – Ottersweier & other fun things to say…

Day 11 –
After a great evening of being wined & dined by the Kern family, I slept great. Woke up to coffee & a small German breakfast with lightly sweet bread & homemade quitten geili mit amaretto (aka: quince berry jelly, with amaretto.) Oh so tasty. I ate waaaaay more than I normally would on a Sunday morning just because it was So. Good.

Julia took me to the church in Otterweier – it is the only “free” (non-Catholic/Lutheran) church in the village, & the building itself faces a mammon twin-spired Catholic church. The Arche Ottersweier (Julia’s church) has been in existence for 8 years, & has grown to about 50 people, a testimony to the goodness of God, prayer, & the faithfulness of pastor Roland. It is almost impossible to explain the missionary task that they face – attempting to live out a living, vibrant, loving, gospel-declaring faith in a manner & context that makes no sense in comparison to the traditional way of how things are… it’s not uncommon for church goers in the state churches (& Catholic) to not ever have heard, let alone understood, the news that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was resurrected from the dead, & now sits at the right hand of God the Father. People haven’t heard that salvation is necessary, let alone available to all who would believe, repent from sin, & turn to God through Christ. Roland (& others) are attempting to live out simple, faithful lives, aiming for reaching the next generation with a clear picture of Christ. It’s a life-long vision, which stands in stark contrast to the ‘microwave faith’ culture of a desire for immediate gratification that the Western church can often epitomize.

Julia did a great job translating me – we hung out with the church after the service, & I had the privilege of talking & praying with several people that really just wanted to pray for boldness – that they would live as witnesses for Christ, & not grow weary. It humbles me to think about it.

Headed back to the Kern house for food – & Goodness! there was food. Julia’s grandparents came over – he was quite the character & from the time he arrived until he went home 6 hours later, he didn’t cease to give me a good-natured hard time, going into painstaking detail about why Germany is better than America. Good times. Took a brief nap after dessert, then the whole family went for a walk in the nearby vineyards, (some of which had provided the wine we had last night. Cool stuff.) The vineyards are laid out on hills in ways that defy gravity, & left me wondering HOW the vinzer (vintner) would go about harvesting & caring for the grapes. We walked for about 90 minutes at a leisurely pace; the highlights were 3 generations of family humor, an amazing sunset (the top picture in this post,) & Heiko, the boyfriend of Linda, Julia’s older sister; he wore his Nevada t-shirt proudly, a relic from his visit to the states in 9/2008.

In the evening, I was invited out to dinner by Roland & his regional overseer, Jochen (who I last saw at the Foursquare Convention in Atlanta in May, where we had lunch.) They took me to a local restaurant called, “Blume” – which means flower – & we all got Amerikan Rumpsteak & Paulaner, the world’s best hefeweizen. And it was great, & came with a huge plate of french fries.

We ate to our heart’s content; I was really encouraged talking with the two of them about their strategy for the region – they live in an area made up of small villages – so, they’re attempting to plant smaller, relationship-based churches that share resources. Each one has a pastor, & each church is ‘autonomous’ – but they all intentionally choose to work together, to cover each other with a layer of relationship & accountability that insures no one (& no church) is isolated or solo. Great ideas that left me with all sorts of ideas & inspiration.

Made it back to the Kern’s in time for some late night hanging out & prayer; giving thanks to God for the budding relationship & friendship between us, celebrating the commonality we share with other people who follow Christ. Truly precious.

Day 12 –
Today was a travel day, meaning Julia & I had to head to the train station by 9 so we could make our way north, me to Mainz, Julia to Frankfurt; she’s flying to Norway Tuesday to visit her sister & her family. After a goodbye at the train station, Julia & I navigated our way through the maze & haze that is the DB (German train system.) Our 2nd train connection was randomly canceled, so we were escorted to another train, a high speed one that normally you have to pay big $ to ride on. However, we were assured that because our train was canceled, we’d have no trouble. Right. :)

We made it to the first “ticket checkpoint,” about 10 minutes into the train ride & took a tongue-lashing & dressing down from an uptight DB agent. Fortunately, we were rescued by a supervisor, but not until we had heard how wrong we were to be on such a fast train without having paid the extra money for the extra speed. Good times.

Said a tearful goodbye to our dear Julia, made my way to my meeting point with Jan, the pastor of enChristo church & National leader of Foursquare Deutschland. Normally we do pizza together, but he spared me the anguish of yet Another trip to Italy by taking me to a favorite Chinese place he frequents.

We had deep talks about the state of Foursquare in the US, as well as what is happening in Germany. Good stuff. Both of us were plagued with sneezing & coughing fits, so lots of hot tea was consumed, along with our duck in plum sauce, surrounded by vegetables. Yes really. Can you hear that? It’s me! I’m growing.

Caught the train back to Frankfurt, & walked the last couple blocks to Eddy & Laura’s in the hardest rain I’ve ever experienced in Germany. I was absolutely soaked by the time I arrived. Changed out of my wet things & into my Reed hoodie & sweats, & warm, dry socks. Ahh. Comfort. Hot tea helped too.

Just packing tonight, then heading out with Levent & Ines as soon as I post this. We’re going to grab some Turkish food & celebrate their pregnancy. Ines is about 7 months along if my counting of weeks is accurate.

I absolutely cannot wait to come home & see my family. Hug myBean. Be with my church family at Hillside. Celebrate a good trip with lots of answered prayers. Sleep in my own bed.

Booyah! And thank you. I am grateful, & filled with thanks tonight.

Blessings to you.

Day 9 & 10 – Deutschland Fall 2010 – Friends Day

Day 9
Friday was mostly a slow, restful day; on purpose, as my weekend is packed… I spent the morning packing for my weekend trip to Engstingen & then Ottersweier. I’m taking one small bag for the road trip, & trying to squish as much into it as possible. Oh I wished I had the Bean’s mad packing skills with me at that moment.

I headed for the Frankfurt main station about 4. Fortunately, I made the 1st train, but somehow, someway that train was slow getting to the next station – meaning, I missed connection to Reutlingen by 10 minutes. There was another train headed that way that was delayed by 10 minutes from leaving – & I jumped on that one seconds before it started pulling away from the station.

Arrived about 20 minutes late – picked up by Juergen, the pastor. He took me to house where I would be staying, which turned out to be in the home of an English teacher, Frank & a doctor, Kerstin, (1 e, 1 i.) I had a great room, & immediately connected with Frank on an American history research project was working on – absolutely fun!

Frank took me to the church to meet with several leaders – it was not really a ‘meeting’ but rather a ‘meet & greet’ over good pizza (yes, pizza!) & good wine. We had long discussions about how I got connected with Germany, then spent some time getting to know each other. Around 10 p.m. left with Frank to head for bed, & crashed hard.

Day 10
I woke up early to the smell of coffee & biscuits – got to sit & talk with Frank about life & marriage – truly, cultures may be different, but the challenges facing husbands & wives are the same worldwide – great opportunity to encourage each other – too soon, we had to leave to go to the church for Foursquare Friends Day.

The Day was hosted by the “Shelter Alb – Foursquare Church” of Engstingen, pastored by Juegen & Gudrun Zeeh – the purpose of the Day was to give their church a perspective on the Foursquare Family, see that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves.

Juergen had asked me to speak twice on whatever I want – BOOYAH. Got to choose 2 topics close to my heart: First up, the Monday Morning Church. Spoke out of Matthew 5:13-16 – shining our lights, living for God, bringing Him glory – I had everyone break into groups to answer the question for themselves: “What would Jesus do & how would He live if He were in my shoes?”

Second, talked about the Spirit-filled Life – from John 16:5-8 & Acts 1:8. Talked about how God fills us with His Spirit so we can live for Him, & be His witnesses – that He doesn’t ask us to do anything that He doesn’t provide the ways & means to do it.

I tried to make it as interactive as possible & get feedback. I was really encouraged to hear that there was lots of connection with what was talked about, as well as affirmation that this hit where they lived – & better, went along with what they (& Juergen) had been talking about for the last several months.

Had to leave to catch the afternoon train to Baden-Baden. On the way, Juergen’s car suddenly stopped – he tried restarting it to no avail. So, in desperation, (I had to get to the train station,) we decided to ‘jump it’ by popping the clutch in 2nd gear, which meant I would push the car, & he would steer it, then pop it at the appropriate time. After 3 tries, the car sputtered started, & we were on the road again. Several people got a good laugh watching me doing my best Jamaican bobsled pushed impersonation. However, I made my train with minutes to spare, & made the rest of my connections with plenty of time.

Julia picked me up at the train station with her friend Hannah – took me to her house where I’d be staying with her & her family for the next couple of days.

I’ve been really looking forward to this time with Julia & her family – there really is a special connection since she lived with us for 6 months. It was such a fun time with her family. We ate Pflammkuchen (french style pizza. Yes. Pizza) with all sorts of toppings on it, & great wine from the region & vineyards around her home. Lots of laughter & fun, really feels like a home away from home.

Talked with Julia a bit about Sunday a.m. She will be doing her first bit of translation – working to help her ease into it. Teaching from John 13:34,35 on Living a Simple Life: Love God, love people.

Missing home, theBean, & the family. To minimize the missing, I headed for bed, & crashed hard. Booyah!

Day 7 – Deutschland Fall 2010 – #1

Today was the last day of the conference, which I started off with my traditional “Youth Hostel” breakfast of coffee, cherry quark & chocolate mueslix. Ahh. I will miss this.  We gathered for worship & then Jan taught on the declaration of the gospel (good news, God’s message,) from the book of Jonah. He talked about the selfishness & self-focus of Jonah, who didn’t want to declare the message given to him for the Ninevites. What really jumped out at me was the need for faithfulness & perseverance in the life of Christ-followers in living & speaking the gospel… & not just to those people for whom it is convenient/preferred for us to interact with.

The conference time closed with the “blessing of breaking of bread” – not communion, but a time where each person takes a piece of bread (the good, dark, dense German bread,) & goes to another person to pray a blessings over them.

I felt prompted to pray with Ryan, a guy from Connecticut by way of Newburgh, New York. He & his wife Rebecca are attending this conference in the final stages of praying about moving to Germany to serve in the Gau Algesheim church. It sounds like if they’re able to get jobs, they will relocate in January 2011. My heart is totally full, & I felt very encouraged to hear Ryan & Rebecca’s story – their heart for Germany & the German people, their desire to give their lives away here. I told them that they were answers to prayer: prayers that I (& I know others) prayed, asking God to send workers to serve in Germany… talked to them a little about the 6 pastors’ conferences that I’ve been to, praying & looking for ways to encourage, help, support, & ‘cheer on’ the pastors & leaders. I can remember at our first conference in November 2005 sitting in my room with Joni, praying for workers for the harvest. Ryan told me that it was 6 years ago that he & Rebecca, out of the blue, felt a pull & a stirring towards Germany. They’d never really had any inclination that way before, but in 2005 it started. Hmm.

I wept.

Prayed for favor, acceptance, & provision for them. That the LORD would bind the 2 of them together & pour them out (kinda like a never-ending pitcher of cool refreshing water pouring into the glasses of thirsty people…)

A couple of people prayed for & blessed me too.

Lunchtime was the final event before everyone piled into their cars (or onto the trains) & headed towards home. Eddy & I gave a ride to Rene (TPLF’s youth pastor, ) & to Stefan (the youth pastor of ICHTHYS church in Frankfurt, the church that TPLF was planted out of.)  I love youth pastors. And these 2 guys are good ones who love youth & love their city.

It has been absolutely POURING this afternoon – with the kind of cold that chills you to the bone. Laura made a “challah” & some coffee, & we all sat down, (along with a neighbor of theirs,) for hot drinks on a cold afternoon. Of course, it was at that point that I started yawning my face off, & excused myself to take a nap. I’ve got a ‘getaway’ planned late this evening (about 9 p.m.) with Martin & Sandra to catch up with them, & to check out one of Sandra’s favorite wine shops. Don’t know how late we’ll be out, & I’ve been to bed late & up early for the last few days, so squeezing in a nap seemed like a good idea.

I woke up to the 6 p.m. bells from the Catholic church across the street – though they’re loud, they’re also cheerful, welcoming, & they bring me joy. For reals. Once my brain clicks on, I will definitely see if it’s stopped raining long enough to get out & stretch my legs with a brisk walk around the block.

My upcoming schedule:

  • Tomorrow, Thursday is a ‘free’ day for the most part, which means studying for my “Foursquare Friends Day” in Engstingen, with Juergen & Guedrun Zeeh. I do have a lunch appointment with Tobias (who Matty stayed with last year,) so that will be fun.
  • Friday is a ‘rest’ day; I’ll be traveling to Engstingen via train about 4 p.m. & will spend the evening there with a planned celebration with lots of people from their church, as well as good food & drink. I’m greatly looking forward to it; it’ll be my first time there.
  • Saturday is “Friends Day,” a celebration at the Shelter Alb Foursquare Church – followed by lunch. In the later afternoon, I’m on another train to Baden-Baden to see Yoooooooouuuuuullllleeeeeeeeee-AHHHHHH! & her family. Good times WILL be had by all.
  • Sunday morning, I’ll be speaking at Julia’s church (the Arche Ottersweier, pastored by Roland & Manu Lorenz) then spending the afternoon with family & food. Did I mention food?
  • Monday, Julia & I will take a train towards Frankfurt; I get to stop off & meet (for lunch!) with Jan, the pastor of the enChristo Church in Mainz. He’s also the Foursquare Deutschland national leader, & I’m looking forward to talking & planning with him.
  • Finally, it’s back on the train to Frankfurt!

  • I’m not sure what my internet connection situation will be starting Friday afternoon, but at the very least, I will be blogging & posting upon my return to Frankfurt on Monday. Blessings to you, & thank you for your prayers.

Day 6 – Deutschland 2010

Day 6 –

I woke up this morning mostly rested, with enough time to shave & shower today (hooray!) Headed out with Eddy & Laura to the youth hostel where the conference is being held. Fortunately, we arrived in time for breakfast – which for me means copious amounts of German coffee, & mueslix (kind of a home made granola,) with cherry quark (kinda like yogurt, except creamier, with no fake sugar aftertaste.) Unbelievable.

We all gathered together for worship & teaching – Volker Heitz  talked from Matthew 14 (from the story about the feeding of the multitude with the 2 fish & 5 loaves of bread,) as well as from John 2 (Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding.)

What stood out to me from Matthew 14:

  • Don’t focus on what you DON’T have, but rather on what you DO have: God will use it & will multiply it
  • Faith is trusting that what God has provided will be enough for you to do what God asks of you
  • Be thankful for what you have – complaining poisons your heart & makes your eyes bad… & even what you have will be lost

John 2 –

  • A shortage or lack is an opportunity for a miracle (Mary saw this)
  • The only way a miracle ‘fails’ is if the workers don’t obey (no faith)
  • Thankfulness & faith gives Jesus room to work

We weren’t going home during the afternoon break, so Steve & I decided to take a walk through the streets of old Bad Homburg. I got a chance to know Steve better & hear his story. He’s ‘bent’ toward the area of evangelism & worship – & has an incredible sense of humor that keeps everyone around him laughing. He’s truly a joy to be around.

I ate lunch with a couple of pastors that are from an independent church that is in the process of exploring whether or not they will become a Foursquare Church. In Germany, that process takes a couple of years & has several defined phases. At any time during any of the phases, its possible for either one or both parties (the church & the Foursquare Deutschland leadership) to stop the process completely or to put it on hold. The Foursquare leadership really wants to make sure that any non-denominational church thinking of joining the movement really understands what it is they’re doing – what the ‘DNA’ of Foursquare is, & what it means to be in relationship & accountability with the other churches & leadership.

The couple I was talking to asked a lot of questions about Foursquare history in the US; they were especially interested in knowing about Aimee Semple McPherson & the stance of the Foursquare Church towards Germany during World War 2. Fortunately, I have collected a few publications over the years that were produced by Foursquare in the ‘war years’ & was able to communicate that Foursquare was staunchly anti-Nazi, but for the German people. And since I’ve been around the Foursquare world a while, I was able to pass on some interesting stories that helped clarify some thought processes they’re working through. They also loved that Joni’s paternal grandparents were married by Sister Aimee, a fact that earned me some ‘Oooohs’ & ‘Ahhhhhs’.

This evening is the traditional celebration banquet, though instead of eating at the hostel as we usually do (& have done over the past few years worth of conferences,) we’re being shuttled to a nice restaurant in one of the nearby castle. (I must be tired because I’m cracking up at the idea of there being a plethora of castles nearby. Castles. We don’t really have those at home.)

I had the opportunity (& the invitations) to set up a few meetings over the weekend & Monday – I’m thankful for the increased favor that I continue to experience, & the opportunity to give input to & encourage pastors in their work & in their families. Its especially cool when something I’ve lived through can be used to help others.

Dinner was great & the fellowship was priceless. Life is beautiful.

Day 2 – Deutschland Fall 2010

Today was Eddy’s day off, which perfectly coincided with my day too. I woke up at 7:15 to the sound of the Brandenburg Concertos, my preferred alarm. (It’s hard to be grumpy hearing the sound of Bach, even in the morning when one’s body is telling you that its really 11:15 p.m. & you should be GOING to bed, not getting up. But I digress.)

Laura made pancakes, Eddy-style, meaning they were filled with almonds, apple, & coconut. I ate to my hearts’ content, using syrup, Nutella, & apple marmalade as toppings for different rounds of pancake-ery. Good times. The coffee was excellent as well.

Beings as it was the day off & the two oldest kids were at school, it seemed like a good idea to take a nap. So I laid down on the couch with a favorite book, (Heschel’s The Sabbath,) & read/napped for about an hour. I think. :)

Woke up in time for lunch, which was raviolis. Eddy & family headed off to a birthday party & I set myself for an afternoon of solitude. Which is my favorite. Read & dozed for a bit, then decided to head towards the city, through Bockenheim, which is where the church is located. Walked past the White Tower, which is located near the university. It used to be a watch tower, a line of defense for the city of Frankfurt.

Made my way past the familar cafe’s & university dorm-style apartments towards the city center. It was quite a ways away… further than I’d remembered, which is funny, because I usually take the U-bahn downtown. And now I remember why.

This is the “Hammering Man” – he symbolizes the 24/7 work ethic represented within the city of Frankfurt.

He’s about 45 feet tall – makes me think about the Sabbath & the need for rest. (Probably because this is where God first ‘convicted’ me about my own work-a-holism…) To me, Hammer Man stands for the worst parts of humanity,  Western Civilization & how we so easily work ourselves to an early grave, valuing each other only based on what we make or produce. I know its just a sculpture, but it stands out in my mind as a symbol of what God has rescued me from.

It also makes me think about tomorrow – I’m giving a presentation called, “A Revolution of the Soul” on the topic of living life in all its fullness; talking about rest, life rhythm, & the Sabbath. I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. :) Truly, God’s work in my life in this particular area has been one of the most impactful things that has ever happened to me, & the thought that I get to share what He’s done in me, & what I’ve been taught & what I’ve learned brings tears to my eyes. Sometimes I get weepy. It happens.

Came home from my walk just in time for pizza & movie night with Eddy, Laura & the boys. Then to bed early so I can get good rest & be ready for the day tomorrow.

Blessings to you!

Day 1 – Deutschland Fall 2010 – Travels

Left early on Wednesday morning for the airport with my favorite Transporter, theBean, in the drivers seat. We had the full gamut of emotions on the trip, from laughing to tears. It’s hard to leave home.

My flight from Reno the LAX was uneventful, but the gate for my LAX  to Washington-Dulles flight was on the other side of the concourse. Which meant a sprint. And a prayer to hope that the baggage handlers were sprinting too… :)

On my flight, I felt the LORD dealing with me about faith & believing – specifically in regard to anxiety that I have had about this trip, most pointedly about the “Revolution of the Soul” mini-seminar I’ll be doing in Frankfurt this Saturday. I’d like to say that I’ve been the picture of a man of faith, full of resolve & confidence about what I’m doing, & about what is happening. But if I said that, it wouldn’t be true. I’ve been anxious. Worried. Stressed. About the unknown. And even some of the known.

I felt the LORD saying that He’s given me everything that I need for what I’ll be doing – the mini-seminar included. And that by worrying, stressing, & being anxious, I was not believing Him for that provision, for the words, for the direction, & that somehow, someway, whatever happened good or bad, was somehow MY responsibility.

Ooh. Not good.

So I repented. Asked forgiveness for my ego-centrism, worry & preoccupation. Prayed for a heart & mind  renewal. Thanked God for what He’s preparing for Saturday… & that I get to be a part of it.

After my 4 1/2 hour flight to Washington Dulles, I looked around to see what gate my Washington-Frankfurt flight would be departing from. It wasn’t listed. That made me a little nervous, so I checked with a couple of United personnel to see if they had a clue. No dice. I pushed away my anxiety, & thanked God for the peace that I knew He gave & will give, a peace that I determined to contend for.

Walked to the other end of the C Concourse to the United Customer Service desk – & on the way, called United Customer Service as well. The automated ‘agent’ on the phone was very helpful & told me exactly what I needed to know, & where to go. The personnel at the airport were having some troubles locating the airplane & gate, & my flight never did end up showing up on the Departures board. I did however board my flight. Right where the automated agent said it would be. Thanks Hal!

Landed in Frankfurt, & picked up my bag (Yes!) then headed out to meet Eddy, the pastor of our sister church, Treffpunkt Leben Foursquare Church (TPLF.) We took a few minutes to catch up as he drove us back in to town to pick up his 2 oldest boys from school. On the way, he took me by the site of the old TPLF building – there is literally NOTHING there – The entire building, all the way down into the ground, was torn down & the rubble removed. A new building will be built in its place as soon as a new foundation is being poured. I hope to get a picture or 2 of it when I go on my walk this afternoon.

We took a brief foray by the new TPLF church offices, said hello to the multi-talented & imminently gifted Elena, then made our way back to Eddy (& Laura’s)  house for lunch. I have to confess: one of my favorite things about staying with Eddy & Laura is the FOOD. Spaghetti & meatballs. So. Good.

It was about at that time that I passed out on the couch, & woke up… slowly. It took me a while to realize who (let alone) where I was. Turns out, I slept for about 30 minutes, then stumbled around groggily to get my bearings. Took my daily “EmergenC” & myVitality. And my brain turned on, & I took a few minutes to catch up on the election coverage from the vote Tuesday, & decided to blog a bit.

The sum up: I’m well, encouraged, jet-laggy, in a safe place with great friends, in one of my favorite cities & places in the world. Praying for focus, clarity, & the ability to see what is really important for me to pay attention to & do today. I’ll post pictures later, God-willing.