Deutschland #11, #12, #13+

I’m writing my last couple of Germany posts from home, very jet-lagged, sleep-deprived & very fuzzy. So if/when you read this & it doesn’t make sense, that’s my excuse.


Like at home, I woke up early… it’s Sunday & I’m speaking… my brain was running a mile a minute, so it was pointless to attempt to catch an additional 20 minutes of sleep. Ate some oatmeal with Jan, then headed off to church. He delivered me to the espresso bar in the fellowship area, where I was able to caffeinate to my hearts content while he took care of business.

The EnChristo Church in Mainz feels a lot like home – informal, personal, & relational with a definite focus on Jesus. I really enjoyed worship & also connecting with Flo (big guy, about 6’6″) my translator for the service. I find that it always helps me to talk with the person translating me in advance of the actual message. Spoke on John 20:19-22 – simple message on Jesus sending us as His representatives into the world where we live, work, & play. Had several comments afterward on the simplicity of the message – & its applicability. That’s what I was aiming for. Had an interesting moment in the beginning of the message when a lady in the front row started yelling… she eventually stopped, got up & left. No one knew who she was. Good times.

After service, Jan & I grabbed a quick bite at one of his favorite Chinese restaurants – then headed to the train station.

Waves of fatigue hit me when I got on the train. Hard. I have been pushing myself for the last 3 weeks of travel (Mexico & then here) & have been running on fumes, knowing that at some point I would have to pay the price for it. And that was today. I fought off slumber because I knew if I crashed, I would miss my train stop & end up drooling & confused on the other side of Frankfurt. Somehow, I managed to stay awake until my stop – at which time the heaven’s opened & a thundershower of epic proportions kicked into full gear. It was only about a mile from the station to my host’s flat, & I was thoroughly soaked by the time I arrived. They weren’t home from their own weekend jaunt yet, so I dried myself off & threw myself on the bed. Don’t know how long I was out, but Alex woke me up just in time to head out to watch the World Cup Finale – Deutschland v. Argentina.

I can honestly say that the atmosphere in the pub was the most electric of any I’ve ever experienced – & the tension was tangible. And when Mario Goetze buried his shot in the upper right corner of the net during extra time, the celebration was beyond words… only to be surpassed when the final whistle blew. Unbelievable. Truly a life-highlight for me, as was the celebration afterwards. We drove around Frankfurt along with thousands of others, honking horns, waving flags, singing at the top of our lungs. It was AWESOME. The theme for the night was Pharrell’s “Happy.” Every time I hear it from now on, I will be transported back to that moment.

DAY 12 & 13

My last full day in Germany was packed – &, as hard as I tried, I was unable to connect with several people that I really wanted to see. Such is life. Had a great final evening of talks & dinner with Alex & Linda.

Then, on Tuesday, Levent & Ines picked me up & took me to the airport (thank you!) & I spent the whole trip home reading & trying to stay awake to make my acclimation to Pacific Standard Time easier.

Slept most of my Wednesday, & now I’m trying to stay awake so I don’t mess with my sleep cycle any more than I already have.

I’m grateful for the last 2 weeks – for the opportunity to see friends & for God to work in & through me in reaching a people/place that I love so much. And I’m so happy to be home with my theBean & my kids. And I can’t wait to reconnect with my church family – so thankful for them.

Now, back to real life. After a nap.

Thank you for your prayers while I traveled – it made a difference. Blessings to you.


Wanted: Table servers. Must have good reputation, be full of the Spirit & full of wisdom…

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples & said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit & of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer & to the ministry of the word.”… & Stephen, full of grace & power, was doing great wonders & signs among the people. Acts 6:1-4,8

What are the characteristics you’d look for in a person to serve tables? Good personality. Responsible. Able to multi-task.

The disciples had a different list: Good reputation. Full of the Holy Spirit. Full of wisdom.

To serve tables. Isn’t that a little much?

I don’t think so. The disciples weren’t just trying to find a warm body to help pass out food; they needed several someones that fit their description exactly to help heal a potentially volatile situation that had arisen in the church.

“…anyone who calls upon the Name of the LORD will be saved,” meant that people who had had little to nothing to do with each other in the past, were now worshiping Christ together. Former points of division were tentatively, but surely being overcome.

It was precisely at those points of racial and cultural division that our enemy, the devil, attempted to strike by stirring up offense & bitterness, trying to get the Greeks to lash out & retaliate against the Jews, subtly whispering to them that this ‘salvation in Christ’ was just a sham, & that the Greeks were still second class citizens.

The Apostles brought the Church together – the whole church – & asked them to pick 7 men, of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit & wisdom. And they did – if you read Acts 6:5, you will see that all the men chosen had Greek names.

This seemingly menial assignment was actually one of great significance, & the discernment, grace, & faithfulness of Stephen & the rest help diffuse the antagonism & bring unity to the Church.

Every single one of us who belongs to Christ serves in a vital place in the body. Our job title may not be prestigious according to the wisdom & values of our culture, but in the eyes of the One who made a way for us to serve in that role, it’s perfect. Because our world needs us, men & women of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit, & full of wisdom to bring glory to God by the way we live & serve.

And real significance comes from hearing God say, “Well done, good & faithful servant.”

what lies beneath, & other musings…

Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, asking as a favor against Paul that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. Acts 25:1-3

I was re-reading the last few chapters in Acts, and couldn’t help but notice the determination and single-mindedness of the Jewish religious leaders in their pursuit of Paul. And here in chapter 25, once again they’re plotting to kill him. Suddenly, it hit me: they think they are on a mission from God.

It might sound silly to say that, but I think we have to take a second and remind ourselves just who these people were: the chief priests, and the principal men of the Jews. The leadership.

These were the people responsible for leading other Jews in their pursuit of relationship with God.

These were men of (presumed) good reputation, character, and integrity who’d come into their priestly and leadership roles not by wile-and-guile, but rather based on recognition of their gifts and callings.

They are the ones leading the charge to kill Paul.

Somewhere along the line their zeal for the LORD had been contaminated with sin and marred by fleshly, even demonic motivation. And they didn’t know it.

They thought they were on a mission from God.

I can’t merely look at the religious leaders & wonder how they got so messed up that they actively & murderously opposed the work (& people) of the LORD, & let that be the end of it.

I also have to consider what lies in the depths of my own heart, because the kind of terrible wickedness we see repeatedly from the religious leaders is something that can lurk in each of us.

Unaddressed sin. Bitterness. Unforgiveness. Jealousy. Unchecked ambition. Pride. Judgment. All provide fertile ground that could allow seeds of sin to grow that would ultimately lead to the manipulation & poisoning of my heart & mind to the point that I could be used to oppose God’s work and stand against His people.

All while thinking I’m on a mission from God.

It’s sobering.

Search me, oh God, & know my heart. Try me, & know my thoughts! If there be any wicked way in me, lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23,24

thoughts about Paul’s ‘mission from God,’ suffering, perseverance, & other musings…

Acts 21 tells of Paul’s intent to head to Jerusalem, and also the fact that he received several prophetic words and pictures declaring, “If you go to Jerusalem, you will be thrown into prison.”

I never understood why, after hearing these multiple warnings from the Holy Spirit of the imprisonment, persecution and suffering awaiting him in Jerusalem, Paul still purposed to go to Jerusalem. I even tried to come up with possible reasons WHY he might be so intent to finish this journey; none of the reasons made sense, especially considering the man the Apostle Paul was. So I asked the LORD, “What would make a man choose this path and persist in the face of what looks like preemptive warnings of danger and trouble from the Spirit?”

Immediately, an earlier portion of Paul’s story flashed into my mind, from the time right around his conversion (Acts 9:10-19.) From the beginning, God revealed that He had made Paul His “chosen instrument to testify of Christ and spread the gospel, before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” And one of the first things revealed to Paul was how much he would suffer for the sake of the Name of the LORD.

Aha! I get it. Paul was on a mission from God.

The single-minded purpose to get to Jerusalem wasn’t an exercise of stubbornness on Paul’s part – he simply understood that this was part of the living out of the mission given to him by the LORD years before. The fact that his obedience and persistence could (and would) result in imprisonment and suffering were almost an afterthought; the mission, and the spread of the gospel, were preeminent.

I think that we might have an underlying assumption that suffering is to be avoided at all costs, probably because suffering hurts. Digging deeper, we may have an unscriptural ‘karma-like’ belief about good and bad happening in our lives, e.g. if we’re doing what God wants us to do, life will be good, and if not, then that’s when the bad stuff happens.

Jesus told His disciples, “The servant isn’t greater than his master; if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…” (John 15:20) If I’m living a life of obedience to the LORD, living for eternity and not just for comfort in the here and now, I will suffer. The good news is that any “present sufferings won’t even compare to the glory that will be revealed” in, through, and around us in Christ Jesus and by His Spirit (Romans 8:18.)

Paul was sure about one thing – God had given him a mission, and therefore, whatever it took to complete the mission, he knew that God would provide it.

I pray for such a faith to grow in my heart and mind, and for that kind of faithful perseverance to the calling and mission that God has placed in front of me. LORD, help me live life with eternity and Your values firmly in sight, and with a single-minded focus on my mission.