Monthly Archives: August 2012

What climbing can teach about Faith.

I recently started climbing and bouldering and am enjoying it very much. However the question that determines most of the things I do is: “What does it teach me about God or my Faith?”

Though the below might not be an all inclusive list…it is what stood out to me:

Dependence is what keeps you alive. Even though society tries to convince us that independence is the ultimate goal, here tied to a top rope you learn to treasure the dependence of another person below. Likewise dependence on God is an absolute essential for life!

You only climb ahead when secured. Equipment to be in good shape and order is essential and secures life. Choosing the right equipment is equally important. When you climb you want to make sure that equipment is in place and in good shape. That goes for every walk of our lives…for when it is not…we suffer the consequences. When thinking of it, the equipment represents the basics you have learned in faith…it is your gifting and the anointing combined with the acquired skills. Climbing without being secured onto a rope (i.e. dependence on God and a congregation) and the right equipment will lead to failure.

The rope is you life-belt. It is quite simple… the rope breaks, you fall and possibly die. The rope is a symbol for your personal relationship with God and what you do to maintain and enhance it daily.

You need to put the weight and emphasis where your foot is. i.e. don’t climb primarily by arms strength or you’ll grow tired! This is a wonderful analogy to mission work and/or growth in the congregation. The foot represents the land you can conquer spiritually; the arms are your outreaches. Only when you have taken a solid stand spiritually does an outreach have a long lasting effect… otherwise it is often comparable to a drop of water on a hot plate.

(Foot)hold is only provided once you put your full weight on it. I have often met Christians who barely take in the land given to them, before they move on… it seems they are only on a journey through. However for the land to remain in your possession you need to STAND on your foot. Feel the ground… rely on it to carry you.

Once your foot can reach, your hand can follow. It is when you have taken the land in a spiritual sense (i.e. foot hold), that your arms and hands can reach out in ministry.

Your foot gets you up… your hand keeps you close to the rock. Your taking the land will allow you to advance… your reaching out will keep you close to the heart of Jesus, the Rock.

Think about where you want to go how BEFORE you climb that part. It is vital to know where you are headed to avoid failure and disappointment as well as burn out (the latter goes especially for spiritual matters).

You only concentrate on where you are at that specific moment – it’s of no avail to think of the top. If you do not focus on where you are at that moment, you are losing momentum, concentration and strength. Though this might seem simple and logical I have seen numerous people and Christians for that matter, that focus too much on the end goal to acquire the abilities/skills God wants them to acquire in the here and now. Likewise they disobey God in not doing what they do wholeheartedly and in love.

It is good to take a short rest and breathe once in a while… even enjoying the view. There is nothing wrong with enjoying what you do, finding rest and regaining strength. That goes for spiritual issues as well!

Technique is best trained when bouldering i.e. close to the ground. Bouldering is done in proximity to the ground… it is done without rope or harness to secure you. Your feet and hands are equally trained with your mind and eyes, to find good hold. The spiritual implication this has is: a congregation is a training ground…it is a place to learn technique and skills.

Falling down is part of the deal, but you allow the rock/wall to challenge you and get up and do it again and try to improve on it. Falling is part of the deal…so are scrapes on your knees and the like… so you get up and do it again and avoid making the same mistake twice. Likewise in faith… you will not lead the perfect life… you will at times fail, backslide, get hurt and scraped… but remember… you can get back up… the Rock (i.e. Jesus) challenges you to do so… in order to grow.

No matter how good you get…you never really excel 100% and are still vulnerable and dependent (on the rock, the rope, the equipment, skills, …). It is good to remember this last point. It teaches you humility and respect. And that goes for faith and daily life especially.

So next time you climb… remember these lessons (or at least some of them) and allow God to teach you more on the matter. Or if you haven’t climbed before… why don’t you go and try it… it might teach you on faith through experience and a good, fun workout.

God bless.

Deliverance from sin

The problem often isn’t the one sin as such… it is our relation to sin.

The Bible informs us that there is no big and small sin – there only is sin. Sometimes our focus has been shifted to believe that one sin is greater than another. Likewise a dangerous shift in focus occurs when we start being disgusted only by some sins and not by others.

For many of us Christians (and I include myself) the time has come to pray and open our hearts completely… to be again convicted of the gravity of sin and the mercy of forgiveness. So that iniquity, (no matter whether it is lies or sexual sin) again disgusts us in the way it disgusts God, so that we turn from it and sin no more (for we are ALL sinners)…ALSO, I pray that we start LOVING the sinner with all our heart… and do not judge the person …but hate the sin.

No matter which sin. Sin is sin and it will be punished by death the Bible says. Knowingly remaining in sin or maintaining a sinful lifestyle is open rebellion against God.

However know the good news: JESUS died for the forgiveness of ALL our sins, so that we may stand before God without blemish! When we come to Jesus and repent (make a 180degree turn away from it) and ask for forgiveness, He WILL readily and gladly forgive us.

As for today I would like to speak of one sin amongst many: homosexual relationships.

All I ask is read… and allow God.

I will not tell you what the Word of God says this time… not in respect to sin – for you know it already as you feel it is wrong and you feel convicted. Should you have any questions in regard to that though, please feel free to ask. Let me tell you a bit about my relationship that was that way:

I loved her… I had some months before I got to know her, left my congregation for the sake of another woman… I struggled my but off to leave the congregation but my desire was stronger than my faith. Now 4 months later, I was in love with her. She was not one of those ladies that looked lesbian from afar… she was however what I longed for… she had great humour, seemed self secure, yet was vulnerable and no afraid to show it at times… we talked with open hearts when we did… and we both trembled when we first kissed, knowing this was more. To make a long story short… she was all I up to then had ever dreamed of. I loved her… and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.

At some stage in my relationship, I started to pray. It had been a long while since I had prayed… and I hadn’t opened my Bible in ages it felt. But I started to pray because –strange as it might sound – I wanted to ask her to marry me.  God is gracious and He used that situation to reach out for me yet again:  I had a dream… and in that dream I found a treasure chest… like in the movies… with a great lock in front of it… and in my hand I held the key. On the key it said: “Jeremiah 2:19”. I put the key into the lock and wanted to turn it. In that instant I awoke. The dream still is vivid in me today as I recalled it then. But when I awoke, I did not know what the scripture contained…nor did I care to look it up till late that day in the afternoon (this was in November 2006). When I did, I actually flung the Bible into the corner of my room… such shock did I get. I later checked and found out, I had never before in my life read Jeremiah – which added to the uproar and unravelling I felt inside.

I prayed over the scripture for about a week… but didn’t get any answers. My life seemed perfect – so did my relationship. However even though I had long forgotten about the scripture, my life in general seemed to change. I cannot describe it really… but I remember my friends at university got worried – they thought I was depressed. I knew I wasn’t. I had been depressed before in my life… and this was something completely different – I was dying… from inside out… and it was spiritual. But how could they understand? I didn’t even want to know about it myself. It was December that year that I started to read my Bible again… away from all distractions and to talk to God earnestly. And it was in early January that I ended up in my old church… and came to a point in life where I knew: “I don’t WANT to live without her, but I CANNOT live without God. And to have both is impossible.” And these were truths that were echoed in my spirit and soul so loud I could not deny them any longer.

So after 3 days and nights without sleep…struggling with God about the decision that was upcoming… I called my friends in the middle of the night. Friends from university… telling them what was up and that I couldn’t help but follow God’s call and terminate my relationship to my girlfriend. They had seen me the weeks preceding and admitted that though they couldn’t understand my decision, they supported me fully.

I was ready to fight. And I did. Later that morning after relentless fighting alone with God and my soul, I asked the pastor to assist me in the final step of my choice. His wife, he and I went into a quiet room… they asked me to repeat after them a prayer of salvation. However they included the sentence: “I renounce the spirit of homosexuality.” It took three attempts until I was PHYSICALLY able to say those words into the spiritual realm… but when I did, the spirit left and I was set free.

I will not lie to you… it was only the beginning of the battle. I still had to go home, call my girl friend, split up with her, clean my house spiritually (i.e. I tossed everything that did not honour God into big plastic bags and into the trash it went!) and continue a battle against my body. I split up…and I have never heard or established contact with her again. I threw away music, videos, photos, clothing, jewellery, and friendships that were connected with that life style. I wouldn’t have been able to make the transition otherwise. I mourned my relationship for quite a while as I had loved. And I knew there would be no easy way. But I had come to the conclusion that I loved God more… and that no matter if my feelings would ever change from being homosexual, I would live a sanctified lifestyle and live it to honour God and in complete obedience to God.

I entered a process of filling my spirit and nourishing my spirit again with the Word of God, reading the Bible… going to church, praying regularly with prayer partners who knew the whole story and meeting once a week with an evangelist that worked through deliverance with me. It took 10 months… but then things had changed. I had decided to renounce the lifestyle, no matter if God would change how I feel about women. But HE delivered me completely. I have never since seen in a woman what I have seen in women so many years of my life. I do not feel that kind of love any longer for women… and never have since. Instead I feel that kind of love for men.

What once was, is part of who I had been… it serves as a testimony today, to reach others with the love of God… but does not determine who I am in Christ, for I am a new creation and was fully restored.”

That is my story. Perhaps it will encourage you to share what at this stage you are afraid to share … I have come to know my weak spots spiritually. There are days when I cannot watch movies others take as ‘normal’ … there are books I cannot read at times. I have learned to respond to the Holy Spirit immediately, because if I do not… I trip and fall into sin. So I try to be sensitive to the Spirit at all times… respond as vigorously and immediately as I can fathom and stay as far away from sin as possible. Today I do no longer struggle to maintain friendships even with people who feel they are homosexual. God has given me a powerful testimony and has blessed me with the ability to share it without condemnation.

You have to choose. No one can take that from you. And the choice isn’t an easy one – but the struggle and fight is worth it and you do not stand alone… an army of angels will be right there by your side…and Jesus with them.

I have tried to show what I believe is a problem with many Christians… the fact that we judge too quickly and that we are no longer disgusted by sin itself. We have started to choose which sin may disgust us – but God doesn’t make that distinction… and God loves the sinner and made a way for every one through Jesus Christ.

Likewise I have opened my past, for you to gather a glimpse to see and be a witness that I speak out of love… not condemnation.

I cannot and I will not choose for you. I will pray for you. I will not bible-bash you to decide the one or other way. I have said what I was led to say… and will not pressure you with it. You know my heart and my story now. It might not be yours… for all I know yours might be completely of a different nature… but I pray you will be able to transfer of it what you need to hear.

I am your friend…and I will stay your friend. And I refuse to judge.

from one desert to another

“What is it with you and deserts, Lord?” We tend not to appreciate the desert times with God that much. Many sermons have circled around them and we so totally miss the point!

Living in Swakopmund and being basically in the Namib Desert here, I felt called to go visit a missionary in the Kalahari Desert in Noenieput, S.A.

But let me start at the beginning:

When I moved from Munich, Germany to Swakopmund, Namibia end of 2010 it was a move from a big European city to a small coastal city that lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Namib Desert. A city that finds comfort and familiarity more essential than rapid service and anonymity. Where roads are made out of salt (which creates a total mess IF it ever rains), the Light House is still the highest building and there are still places where you can come and pay tomorrow – provided you know the owner (which is in fact still very likely). A place where it still possible to know all about every other person you get to know and at the same are deceived by thinking you know them at all.

It was here that I perceived Gods calling to go and spend a week in Noenieput to meet a missionary there. Which I did. I thought I was going there to be blessed by God. I went with this sense of excitement believing God was going to reveal something very important to ME there and that I would be SO blessed through that. He did…but He did so very much different from what I thought. However I went with an arm long list of questions I had for God.

It was a trip full of blessings. A trip full of a silence that is able to still the inside storms. A journey from one desert to the next. But little did I know why I was being sent. But I was about to find out. Arriving there I had two choices…get unravelled about the fact that there was no common electricity, no cell phone reception and only bore hole water, OR I could embrace this fact to get a break from the speed in our lives that sometimes mutes our souls just once to many.

So I calmed…and the presence of horses made it ever so much more easily, as horses do not communicate primarily verbal but with body language. And they allow you to just “BE”.

I spent a week in the beauty of vast open spaces in a desert…coming from another desert and being left with finding: “God does in fact love deserts!”. I met an amazing man of God and his wife (Barrie Burger and his wife Annette) and we talked before the sun came up and after it had long left the horizon to give way to a starry sky. We talked and shared the silence looking into the fire. We prayed together and shared testimonies. We shared the air we breathed and at times that was all that was needed to answer both our questions. For sitting in silence with another person without feeling the urge to talk is something wonderful. And during that week I met more people… I met people of which I now – weeks later – call some friends. And I cannot help but discover that I have changed.

And I too cannot help, but find that I was responding to God’s need for me to be there as a messenger much rather than being only on the receiving end.  Being sent there to accompany another on her way from the cross closer to Jesus heart. To walk with her a while and lead her to a place where she finds that Jesus wants to serve her too. Talking with yet another and being the partner in conversation that was able to exalt Gods glory and His healing power – where he had believed…but now was allowed to witness and see.

In the end… I left with tears streaming down my cheeks. Knowing… I had spent a week in the centre of Gods will…serving others and yet being served… by my glorious Lord and Saviour!

“What is it with you and deserts, Lord?” I have come to love the desert…and I will embrace every one of the deserts I get to be in, knowing… they calm my storm and bring me closer to my Lord and God!

Normal life with a mission

Many times people have asked me what I actually do – being in Africa, working as a teacher … and if there are chances to evangelize, and work for God too. This time, let me tell you how exciting an ordinary week of mine can be – especially with God.

I am a teacher…at a private school in a small coastal town called Swakopmund in Namibia (a country in southern Africa). I teach 33 lessons a week – most of them sports (Grades 3-7), Religion and Moral Education (Grades 5-7) and I have my own register class (a grade 5) where I teach Natural Science and Mathematics as well. Most learners of that private school come from wealthy households and people might think they need less attention as they surely lack less. They do not know HOW MUCH they are mistaken. Every day, I come across learners that desperately desire to be taken seriously, be listened to earnestly, be heard, be loved and that seek who they are with every inch of their being.

So here is a typical week:

I get up daily at 04h50 to spend an hour in prayer for my learners (for otherwise I would not make the day)…then get ready for school…and cycle 4km from my flat to school. There I encounter friendly and challenging faces, moods, colleagues and learners. They all are in need for someone to honestly ask how they are, and they all need to be served with loving kindness that only Jesus can grant sufficiently – but to be honest many do not want to hear that part.

When teaching I encounter questions from learners that allow deep insight into their souls. They are looking for a reason to live… a reason to form values and morals, they are in need for a better reason to continue learning than a short answer of how it helps in later life… they struggle with their peers, are saddened by fights among class mates… are terrified of test results (because they get measured too often only by performance results)… and struggle to understand adult behaviour and choices at times.

They get told what to do when, where to perform how and many times sit next to someone they dislike in their class – just because it helps keeping them quiet. They sometimes have been given up… their dreams have been demolished and they seek for a place and world where they can just BE who they at that stage hope to be.

I started a project in my RME classes last year. I made them write a letter to me (or rather an imaginary diary that would then answer them) talking about what moves them inside and inviting them to ask questions (primarily) on faith that they have. They were allowed to do so, using an anonymous name. I started it with my register class of last year… this year continued it with all the grades 5-7 of my school. And the results are shocking, moving to the core, heart breaking … they make you laugh and cry… hope and despair… and they call out for a change!

Here are some typical questions and needs that come to light through these letters:

– How can I deal with my friendship challenges (fights, disagreements, …)

– I cannot concentrate in school because I am so concerned for my mom – how can I help her?

– I get bullied by … what can I do?

– I hate my life… and I am thinking of committing suicide.

– There are so many accidents happening – why can’t people just drink responsibly?

– I want to be good again – how can I do that?

– I have been to my hometown. There is great poverty. What can I do to make a change?

– My parents are not living together any longer. I struggle with that and sometimes I wonder if it is my fault. Can you tell me what I can do to fight my sadness?

– I get mad so often…but I don’t even know why?

– Why does God love sinners?

– How do I know God is real?

– Why is there so much violence because of religion?

– What does nothing look like?

– Who created God?

– How does God communicate with us?

– Did Jesus really die for us?

– Why are we here on earth?

– Religion says God created the moon, however science says something else. How can I know who is right?

– I think I am gay… what now?

– Can I be a Buddhist AND a Christian?

– I smoke and drink…and no one notices.

– No one seems to have time for me.

– I want to spend eternity with Christ. HOW CAN I BECOME A CHRISTIAN? Please tell me how!

There are so many more things they tell me… they ask… and some are funny and humorous, other shocking and state more severe need to interact than even the worst one’s above. I answer every single one of them… in letters – handwritten. I offer for them to continue writing. Some take me up on that offer. And all I do… I pray… I ask what really moves them and what questions they still have… and the results are honesty beyond words, questions that I feel need to find a place at home but quite apparently don’t (for whatever reasons). I do not judge… I listen. And I allow their pain to be displayed in full force and I bring that to the cross of Calvary.

Besides that I teach them… about healthy living, team work, the miracles of our body, core values and morals; about Judaism, and Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and African Cults in comparison to Christianity, the Bible, the person of Jesus, Christian worship and Christian persecution. We discuss who we are… the ‘self’, the community we live in… matters of life and death such as abortion, artificial insemination, death sentences, euthanasia, medically assisted suicide and many more.

And when the school day ends after 8 lessons of teaching every day… I go home… and do the work only teachers know of really. Then I come before God… and I prayfor grace when talking to parents that are desolate of ideas to help their child, for patience and other fruit of the spirit when dealing with my learners, for ideas to teach curriculum and syllabus appealingly…and so much more. And I thank God… for loving me… for granting wisdom… for giving hope and a future… and for placing me, where I admittedly sometimes dislike to be…but know I am at the centre of His will for the meanwhile.

So if you ask me what I do… I might just as well answer… I am a servant of the Most High God! … and I need your prayers and His grace daily!