Tag Archives: spending time

Finding God

As humans we all, constantly, look for solutions and answers. As a Christian one of the most vital ones seems the answer to where to find God… how to find Him… how to rediscover what it is all about…how to draw near again.

Let’s look at some biblical truth in this matter:

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Amos 5:4 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live;

If anything, it seems that we CAN in fact find God. He wants to be found. However he will be found only in His true nature, when we seek wholeheartedly.

Here some ideas of where to look when you seek God and which ways will lead you astray eventually:

–          The Bible. I’d say the most logical place to look and the safest one if you want true information. For all we know about God will be found in there and in personal experiences, that no matter how personal they are won’t EVER contradict the Bible.

Books by Christians are often much loved and valued, are however never a solid choice. They might add to the picture given in the Bible, but every human depiction of who God is and how He is etc is fallible in itself.

So unless you just want to hype your feelings about what others experience with God, I’d suggest looking at the source of it all: God’s Word (the Bible).

–          Information outside the Bible and outside Christianity will – just like Christian faith – always be colored by a belief system. Thus is not objective, though it might claim to be (e.g. by saying it is scientific – because you find Christian scientists and non-Christian scientist that are thus again part of another belief system).

Though outside sources might support the biblical claims, I ask you to be aware of the fact that every person has a belief system and every statement made is colored by such.

So if you desire to find the Christian God, look at His own work – the Bible, read it.  

Pray – you will be surprised that God answers those that truly seek Him.

Seek fellowship with other Christians – they might in fact be able to guide the way further even though we are all fallible.

May God bless your journey in finding God!

If you are Christian but feel far away from God and want to draw near again:

spend time alone with God!

visit a church (even if it is not perfect – none is. But the Church is God’s choice for a body.)

read the Bible again!

choose to worship and make it all about God and less about yourself!

Trust… God will be found… He wants to be found by you again! You CAN draw near again! God is waiting for you!

And if you like… share your story about finding God with us! Email it to me… or post it as a comment!

Be blessed!

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.

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!

Outreach to the wood crafters of Swakopmund

It all started when I had too much time at hand and decided to find out what people really needed. I walked down toward the Mole (that is the beach near the city centre of Swakopmund) and just before arriving there, I stopped at the wood crafters market. The men that work there make wooden souvenirs for tourists to buy and try to make a living of that. Most of them come from Kavango (an area in the north of Namibia), Zambia or Zimbabwe and Congo.

Of course when I arrived I was treated like any customer…asked to come and look at their pieces of art and acknowledge their work. So I did… but not without letting them know that I wasn’t here to buy anything but to talk to them about Jesus.

We talked and shared… about our lives with Jesus. And they voiced their need for Bibles… their need for someone to teach them how to reach out to their (mostly atheist) European customers. I promised to be back.

Next time I went… I brought some Bibles I could get. They wanted me to write a dedication into each one of them. I exchanged cell numbers with Alex (a local there) to keep track of who needs a Bible still and who is to get the next one.

So I went again… and again… sometimes with Bibles (sadly not every time, as I do not have some available every time I go) sometimes just to sit and chat.

One day… Walter (an artist there) invited me…to come on Sunday afternoon and teach them. Spontaneously I said yes. That Sunday after Church I invited JP and Dorette & Leon to come along. All of them were all fired up to the task and we went at 15h to reach out at the wood crafters market.

Inviting people individually we gathered them… and preached on the “Prodigal Son”  – of the 30-40 men and women that came to hear, 8 or more got saved that day!

The Sunday after we went again… teaching on “Why God allows suffering” as that was a topic that came up. We also started bringing our guitars and introduced the song of “Jabulani Africa”. John entered discipleship with Dorette and Leon that day… wanting to be discipled as he is on the verge of being married.

 

The next Sunday we went… we talked about following Jesus. Jesus being LORD and living a sanctified life!  We also talked about baptism. Dominique as well as John decided they wanted to be baptised. We could not agree more. Both do not have a church yet and have a strong faith. So we agreed to go the next Sunday at 12h to baptise them in the sea.

Today is the Sunday of Pentecost and the Sunday of John and Dominique’s baptism. Two men have decided to publicly proclaim their belonging to Christ! Dying to their old self and rising from the seawater clothed in Christ being a new person!

 gathering at the beach   off we go into the water   we baptize in the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

   instantaneously glorifying God after rising from the water.

We will continue to go… we intend to start discipling a group there and to help them to learn how to disciple others themselves (for we do not want this reaching out and fellowshipping to be nonexistent once we do not come). We intend to provide more Bibles… and to teach them how to reach out to their customers as they desire to.

Please pray that we will get more Bibles and to gain wisdom to teach to open hearts and open ears and eyes. That more lives will eternally be changed!

Making a living as a wood crafter is anything but an easy task. Many use witchcraft to gain customers and often therefore the Christians amongst them have a hard time to get round financially. Many have problems with alcoholism and need deliverance that only God can give.

Please intercede for these precious men (and women) of God!

May God bless you! And remember… one person CAN make a difference – by BEing the change!

Outreach to the DRC, Swakopmund, Namibia

It started off with holy discontent and the need to BE the change. As part of Shofar Christian Church, we as a small group felt the need to reach out. To live adventurous faith by adding hope to the lives of others.

So on 15th April 2012, after having collected second hand clothes and food supplies from church members, we packed them in cars and headed off to foreign territory – the DRC (the poorest part of Swakopmund, Namibia).

Driving as a group of white and brown people, we were somewhat still alien to the surrounding area. Upon arrival we were welcomed by Elizabeth and many children and their parents. So we spent time with the kids… playing and laughing…whilst poverty and need seemed looming imminently.

After clothes and supplies had been sorted, we started distributing. It seemed the number of people present doubled within the second of us starting the distributions. And heavyhearted we had to acknowledge that what seemed like a lot still back at our church would never even suffice to give everyone at least a piece of clothing.

It was an afternoon of laughter, loving, singing and dancing… and observing with God’s heart the need of people He early loves.

Please pray…

…for the children and their families at Ubuntu Day Care that their need will be met

…for Elizabeth…that GOD may bless her abundantly for what she accomplished there

…for us…to go again soon…and to BE the change

and for yourself…to become part of the change right there…where you live…and where need is imminent. May God give you a holy discontent too.

Spending time…

How much time have you spent…

–         working

–         with friends

–         watching TV or in front of the pc

–         eating, drinking, sleeping

–         doing sport

–         on the phone, writing sms

–         playing games

–         complaining, gossiping, bragging

–         dreaming without knowing where to start

–         hoping and despairing

–         envisioning

–         making un-kept promises

–         thinking you are insufficient?

STOP.

When last have you…

–         spent some quality time with friends

–         had a lovely meal

–         a warm bath – just because you can

–         enough sleep

–         looked at nature and been in awe of GOD

–         prayed

–         read your bible

–         spent time with GOD

–         loved like JESUS … like there was no tomorrow but eternity waiting

–         asked forgiveness and said you are sorry

–         repented, eyes full of tears, on your knees before GOD

–         spent a night in prayer

–         told someone about JESUS?

EXACTLY.

I guess you are starting to see where I am heading!

Most people feel, like they are missing out. It is the stuff of the first list, they relate to. Are you one of them? And then they’d laugh about the second list, as they’d agree with some of the stuff and think the GOD-stuff ridiculous.

Well, if you are… feel invited to read on – this is for you!

If you are not… if you are just a Christian who feels he/she hit rock bottom and would just finally need some REST…then this is for you too

The quality of life doesn’t get determined by the things we do or do not get to… it is determined by the perspective we have on it… by the dimension we live in and by our focus and the sense that that focus gives our lives!

Try focussing on things one at a time.

What are you living for? Is it really … are you sure… make sure.

Will this give you peace beyond understanding … joy independent of circumstances… and unconditional love? If so… it is worth it. If not so… then be sure, you will continue longing…it will never be enough.

In case you were wondering who could give the above mentioned requirements… JESUS can.

IF you make him LORD in your life!

Perhaps Jesus is Lord in your life… then as yourself the questions in the second block…they will help you get back on track.

After you found out what you are living for… try to focus… not on the dreams that go with it… but on each single step up the hill that lies before you… upon the flowers and grasses next to the path you take… on the air you breathe and on the beauty that lies ahead.

Then walk it… step by step. But never forget… it is not about the things of the way… it is about the relationship… the focus on the One, that is the centre of it all. It is about knowing Him…seeking Him…feeling his heartbeat and sharing in His mind and heart. It is not about you.

We often make the mistake to make it all about us. It is all about HIM. HE is LORD. HE is JESUS.

You think I’m not speaking the truth… then give it an honest and full-hearted try and experience it for yourself!

The Bible tells us in the book of Romans 10:9 “ if you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.“

Be blessed!