Wednesday, July 30, 2008

God answers prayer

When we first moved to Germany, we lived in a small village. We began to pray for opportunities, and did so for five years, with no visible results. Then one Halloween night, they had a Halloween block party in front of our house (nothing more than an excuse to drink), so I went out to make conversation.

I asked our Catholic neighbors if they got to see the Pope when he was in the area the week before. When our other neighbor, a 25 yr old that was already really drunk, began to ridicule Catholicism, they got into an argument. Then the young man turned to me and said, “Jon, you’re a Bible teacher, right? Tell us what you think… is there a God?”

I had practiced giving my testimony in German in less than five minutes, so here was my opportunity. All those standing around heard the response… about 6 – 7 of them. When I finished, he said, “Ahh… that’s all a bunch of [sewage].” Then, he and the other neighbors started to argue again.

Their conversation came to the forgiveness of sins, and the young man turned to me and said, “Jon, you started this argument… what do you think about the forgiveness of sins?”

I said, “First, I didn’t start the argument. I was just making conversation. Second, if you really want to know, I can tell you what the Bible says about the subject.”

He scoffed and said, “The Bible is nothing more than a fairy tale book.”

So I said, “Then you probably aren’t interested in hearing what I have to say. If we can have a respectful conversation, I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned.”

He said, “Okay… I’m sorry. Tell me.”

At this point, all the neighbors were there… about 20 – 25 of them. And it was like an E.F. Hutton commercial where everybody stops what they’re doing and listens. They were still drinking and standing around their tables, but I could tell that they were intently listening. So, speaking a little louder than usual, I clearly presented the plan of redemption, starting with Adam and finishing with the resurrection, in about 7 minutes.

When I finished, the young man’s mom said, “Now Jon, I think you can be a good Christian and not go to church.”

I replied, “You totally misunderstood what I said about being a Christian. You’re either a part of the family of God or not.” Then I took another few minutes to share with her the Gospel message from a different viewpoint. It was exciting to see the fruit of our relational investment pay off in a rich opportunity to give the Gospel to all of our neighbors at the same time. God answers prayer!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Insights from moving

The moving process is often so surreal. You find all these things that you saved or filed for one reason or another. It's amazing how much of this is stuff (read: junk) accumulates on our shelves, in our drawers and on our desks.

Most of the papers, magazines, letters, etc. were filed away because they had value of some sort. Now, in some cases many years later, we look at them and think, "I don't even know why I saved this."

And then there's all the trinkets, cables, connectors, parts to various toys, electronics and office stuff that serve no purpose because either the devices or toys are now dead, given away or thrown away.

It's a true parallel to our lives. We accumulate so much stuff... hurts, disappointments, broken dreams and pain, which lead to unforgiveness and bitterness.

Every now and then we need to reflect on our lives, and the things we've accumulated (emotional baggage). Ps. 139:23-24 is a prayer asking God to reveal the things we've accumulated that will hinder us from becoming who He's created us to be. It's a prayer God will answer. And then He'll help us to work on what we discover.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


As I said before, we found a house in southern Germany and will be moving there next week. But while we were down there looking at houses, we stayed for a week in a vacation apt that was owned by a sweet older farming couple.

They let the girls help them gather eggs from the henhouse and pick cherries. They even gave us over $15 worth of cherries from their Jon & Herr Lang with his Stilltrees. She took us to show us their orchards, he showed me the "Still" he had in his barn, which he uses for making Schnapps (see picture, right), and took the kids on a tractor ride for Ashton's birthday (don't worry Granddad, you won't be replaced!)... they even helped us look through the want ads for houses.

We really enjoyed talking with them (only in German!). On one of the last days we were there, I mentioned how beautiful one of the roadside crosses was. She said it was an old German custom to bless the roads by building a roadside shrine.

Then she shared how she was confused by the last couple they met (Christians) whose children were going to the same school ours will attend. This lady had told her of how Germans shouldn't have these crosses everywhere. To paraphrase this lady's own words, "Jesus is not on the Cross anymore, so why should we make all these shrines."

I shared with our host that the lady was probably only trying to point out that she would rather celebrate the resurrection, and not just the death of Jesus Christ. This seemed to make sense to our host, and it opened up a short opportunity to share about how the Cross brought us forgiveness of sins. This happened because we invested in a relationship with them, and were willing to accept them for who they are.

It's important to always use tact when seeking to communicate spiritual truth to a lost person. Paul exemplified the use of tact in Acts 17:16-31... we should do the same!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


We FINALLY found a house! If you've followed our blogs, you've seen that we've had a lot of trouble finding a place. Although the house we settled on wasn't our first choice because of the size, we got it for a good price and it's incredibly convenient - only a few hundred feet from the girls' school and a few minutes from Ryan's school.

So... bottom line: God is good! He doesn't always work on our time schedule, but it definitely pays to trust Him!