Sunday, 8 November
Woke up early to have breakfast with Alex & Linda – a good German breakfast of bread, nutella, yogurt & mueslix… & coffee of course. I appreciate these people who have opened up their home & life to me, inviting me in to be a part of what they do.
Alex dropped me at TPLF at 10, & I spent time reconnecting with friends & mentally preparing for the Sunday speech. Worshipping with our sister church is a lot like being at home, with a pleasant comfort that comes from revisiting something familiar, something that you’ve been missing. It was especially fun to see Dudi on the keyboards ☺.
I spoke on John 15:1-11 – on Staying Connected, with 3 specific points about connection:
Speaking through an interpreter is mentally draining – esp. because it requires thinking in complete thoughts vs. in ‘sentences’ if that makes sense. I hit a tangible ‘wall’ in point #2 about connecting to church & church leaders – because of the German reticence to ‘trust’ those in leadership due to both the history of domineering leadership in Germany (WW2) & also the loss/removal of TPLF’s senior pastor 18 months ago. It was tough, but I know I did what I was supposed to & said what I needed to. And left the rest up to the Holy Spirit & the grace of God. Sigh.
After church, I ate a döner with Shawn & Matty, then waited for Eddy to come pick us up to take us to the Pastors conference that I’ve been a part of for the last 4 years – really enjoyed the talking & laughing with the boys on the long (3 hour) drive to Prüm, on the western border of Germany near France & Luxemborg.
Our evening at the conference was one of getting oriented to the youth hostel where we’re staying, & a service consisting of praise & worship. Afterwards, we spent time with the German pastors & talked at length about the life & times of the last year. I met a pastor from Kazachstan who was visiting Germany & the German conference to see how the FEGW (Foursquare Germany) functioned as a church movement. As I stood their & listened to amazing story after amazing story, it reminded me both of how incredible our God is, & how small I am.
FEGW Conference, Day 2
Peter Wenz, a pastor from Stuttgart is the presenter. The thing that jumped out at me is that he is very animated & full of life & a tangible joy. The topic for the week is “FAITH” - & learning to live ‘correctly’ – which he defined as being filled with the Word of God, filled with hope, & lead by the Spirit into a life that is greater than me, for a purpose that God intends. Our main texts for the session were Habakkuk 2:14 & Hebrews 11:6
I love how he defined & discussed faith –
• not as something nebulous or intangible, but as something that is a secret, Godly substance placed in the hearts of His people; this secret substance gives us Godly confidence & boldness, special hope, discernment, & supernatural abilities to accomplish God’s purposes.
• Faith is a gift from God to stir us, to awaken us to be looking for opportunities to live for God & to intersect the lives of others for God.
• Faith opens us to God’s realm, the really real realm, to live life in a way that is ‘overcoming’ (Romans 8:39)
• Faith is real & integrated into our everyday life, & as we act on it causes truth to become ‘real & evident’ in our hearts & lives
• Faith is real & tangible, & causes ordinary people to really live extraordinary lives.
Session 2 addressed Mark 1:14,15 & the ministry of Jesus – he talked about Jesus’ 4 declarations:
• The time is come
• The Kingdom of God is at hand
• It is time to Repent – to renew our minds & way of thinking to God’s
• Believe – in Christ, & follow Him
Things that stood out:
• The main obstacle to faith is unbelief – a humanist intellectualism that opposes the purposes & plans of God
• This unbelief is often centered in the religious upper-class of society
• We ask God to increase our faith, & then we ‘stand’ in & exercise the faith that we have – not the letter of it, but the Spirit of it.
Good stuff – lots of great testimonies & encouragements.
Shawn, Matt & I ate lunch together, then walked to a store down the street for supplies (snacks & water.) The highlight of our walk was when Matt tried to engage the cashier in small talk with a little, “How you doin?” She just looked at him blankly – didn’t speak any English. Shawn translated for Matt, & the clerk, once she understood, just looked at Matt & said, “Bad. Bad.” We all got some good smiles from that. Went to an Austrian restaurant for a schnitzel, a hefe, & lots of good discussion then went back to the hostel for the evening.
We’re learning all kinds of stuff about each other. Good times.
FEGW Conference, Day 3
I woke up at 1 a.m. to a dull ache in my right shoulder, waaaay down deep in the joint. It kept me up until about 4. Bummer way to start the day.
Our final sessions with Peter Wenz centered on Ephesians 4:7-13 – which is a portion of scripture that is especially significant for me (on account of the fact that we spent more than 3 months in those verses last year at this time – he focused on the words “measure of grace,” something given by God for people to live & function in - & that the “some people” who’ve been given the role of being a pastor, teacher, evangelist, prophet, or apostle are to be about the work of making disciples, spurring others on towards maturity in Christ.
I especially enjoyed his discussion on how the body of Christ is to be “complementing” each other instead of “competing” with each other – with complementing being “to harmonize, go together better;” truly functioning like a body functions towards the same goal, not 100 unique ones.
The boys & I are debating what we’ll do this afternoon during the ‘small group’ time – everyone else will be getting with the other pastors & leaders from their region & working on a project. We may be making another run to the store for snacks & supplies; Shawn found a “Sculpture Park” that we might be walking to, though the chill of our day, coupled with the ache in my shoulder makes a longer jaunt seem much less attractive… We will see.