My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

See you at the throne of grace!

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Revelation 21 describing the heavenly Jerusalem and God’s presence among his people. Whatever might happen before that (I just don’t want to get into it in this post) – even so, I cannot help looking forward to being with Jesus. And with my fellow Christian brothers and sisters.

I currently attend an international church. So the turnover within our congregation is considerably high. About a third leaves every summer and new families come in every fall. In the meantime though, friendships developed, some closer, some more casual, but a lot of people just grow dear to each other’s hearts. So when summer and leaving time arrives, the question is: “goodbye” or “see you later”?

Although some friendships might remain or even stay close and reunions in vacation etc. might happen, we will not see many of them again here on earth.
Some of my friends are leaving this summer. And I remember leaving after my exchange semester in Norway knowing that I would probably not see most of my friends from church, bible study and my Christian student group again.

But I think we will see each other again. If not in this lifetime, then in the heavenly Jerusalem. The Bible teaches us that we will have a different body after our resurrection. But I personally think that we will still be recognizable. I do not know how it will work that people who only met us in our youth and people who only met us when we were adults or old, will all recognize us. But I think they will. God created us in his image, but he created us all as individuals. He loves us as individuals. I just cannot imagine that He would take our individuality from us after resurrection.

So, I personally think that we will surely see our friends who truly believe in the Lord again.
The most important thing about heaven is being with Jesus. But seeing our families and friends will also be wonderful.

So it is not goodbye when we leave, but – as an English friend and leader of our little bible study in Norway wrote into my memory book – “See you at the throne of grace!”

Monday, June 27, 2005

Teaching the children

I think we all agree that it is so important that children be raised in a godly way. That they learn about God and Jesus and what he did for us and how to live a godly life right from the start.

God instructs parents to teach their children his ways all the time. Through some blog friends I found out that some families even do not send their children to children's sunday school or children's church, because they consider it their prime and sole responsibility to teach their children concerning God and his ways.
This was new to me and I've been thinking a lot about it (maybe cause I'm a children's church teacher? :)). I'm more used to parents sending their children to children's church cause they think they will benefit from it more than from a grown-up service or because they don't want them to be a bother upstairs or because they have never thought about it if they really want somebody else to teach their children such important things.

I understand that it is primarily the parents' responsibility to train their children, also in matters of faith. And I totally agree. Children's church can never replace parental instruction. It can only reinforce and supplement it.
I can also understand concerns cause parents might not know the teacher of their children and especially not his/her maturity of faith and beliefs. If there is no careful screening of the teachers, somebody who holds a different belief on certain questions than the parents could be teaching their children. Which in turn could lead to doubts, conflicts, etc.

If that however is not the case, I think children's church can be a good place for the children to learn about God and his word. I think it is especially benefial for children who do not receive the training by their parents that God planned them to get. And there are more of those children than we might expect, I think. Coming to church on Sundays does not necessarily mean teaching your child in the Lord's ways at home.

Sometimes it's hard for the children's church teacher too, if the loving home teaching is missing or not very strong. If you cannot get children to hold hands for prayer cause the neighbor is of the opposite gender or if they currently giggle through prayer, the teacher is facing a whole new task. A basic one that should be taken care of at home.

But anyway, I love my little children's church class :)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Tagged again ... this time it's childhood

Anne tagged me this time. :) The question is five things you miss about childhood.

1. My granddads. Accurate would be the dad of my mom, cause my dad’s dad just died about three years ago. But I miss both of them.
My other granddad died the year I turned nine. I remember him as lots of fun, great to play with and how he took me for walks along the Neckar to see the locks. I know (from my mom and dad) that he had quite some peculiar habits (combing the carpet fringes :)), but that just makes him kind of more dear to me. One of my favorite pictures is my granddad in a big chair with me and my little sister, I think he’s reading to us. He was very sportive, into mountain hiking, etc. and quite good-looking.
My granddad from my dad’s side didn’t spend as much time with us (at least not weeks at a time) due to family complications, but I loved him as much. After his death we got old pictures and there he is as a young man, playing music, hanging out with friends and family, and lots of pictures with him riding horses.
I just wish there had been a time when they could have shared their memories of growing up, going through the war (as soldiers) and then building new lives after the war.

2. Norway. We lived in Oslo from 1980-1983 due to my dad’s job. It was hard moving there and I didn’t really have friends the first year. But then I started in a Norwegian kindergarten, learned Norwegian really fast and made lots of friends. In retrospect it seems to me that this was the best time of my childhood (years 4-7!). I loved it there. I loved kindergarten, being outside in every (seriously every) weather, hiking, visiting museums, playing lots of fun games, being read stories, cooking, learning how to ski and to skate, ... Lots of snow in winter, nice warm summers, playing outside with my best friends, Sunday school at the Salvation Army. I felt more like a Norwegian after those three years than a German. I still feel at home in both countries.

3. The childhood belief that everything is well. That everybody loves everybody. That your parents never disagree. That the world is a fun and adventurous place to be. Well, it is, but it’s far from the perfect image I held as a child. That everything can happen. That you can change the world (that was when I turned older and learned about poverty and street children etc.).

4. Having all the time you want for playing and reading and hanging out and cuddling ;).

5. ... I’m skipping No. 5. Although I’m sure there are more things I miss, all that comes to my mind right now is what I definitely do not miss: school from 1st-9th grade (in total we have grade 1 through 13). I did very well in school, but I was a girl, shy and bad in sports (until I started volleyball and dancing which was not until I turned 15). So on the popularity level I did not rank very high. I had some really good friends who are still my friends. But it hurts when you do not get invited to the birthdays of the “cool” kids, no boy shows any (harmless) interest in you, you get chosen last into a team in sports, etc. I know I shouldn’t have cared at that time, but the truth is I did.
Things have changed a lot. So this is past and gone, but I know that it influenced my later behavior (and not always in a good way). Well, so that’s what I don’t miss! :)

Remove the first person from the following list, bump everyone up one spot and put your name in the number 5 spot. Please link all of the blogs as they are linked now or risk future blog-shunning. (Do you think this would really happen?)

Mommy Brain
Journaling through the valley
Threefold Cord
Anne's Cafe
Sharing Life

Now, select four unsuspecting souls and add them to the list...

Worship Naked
Attention Span

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A question of the heart

Often I wonder why some people – fellow Christians – keep on living their lives like they have always done. No changes, not even discussions, ... nothing. As if the Word of God and the pastor’s teaching on it never happened. As if it had no meaning for their personal lives. Of course I know that God (and only God) can look into their hearts and see what happens there and is not obvious for human onlookers.
But it makes me wonder.

Sometimes we receive the impression that people do not want to grow in their walk with Christ, they don’t want to move from babes in the faith to mature Christians. Hardly anyone is attending the Sunday School for adults in my church and although we have several bible study groups in various homes, it is still only a minority of our congregation who attends. A spiritual gifts workshop was more filled, but still it was more or less the usual suspects.

Why does it seem like there is no desire for a deeper understanding and a closer walk with the Lord? And far too often I see this happen in my own life. Falling back into old habits and refusing to grow more mature.

At blogotional I found a link to the sermons of John Piper. And one of them (actually the one that precedes the sermon John linked to) dealt with a text in Hebrews (5, 11-14) and a disease Piper calls Dullness of Hearing. The reason for this is not a physical problem, but there is something wrong with [the] heart. The heart is not eager and diligent to embrace the promises and turn them into faith and patience”; “it’s hearing without faith and without the moral fruit of faith.” Piper then tells about a remedy for this disease and how babes in faith mature by practicing Biblical milk. The milk of God’s gospel promises must transform [our] moral senses – [our] spiritual mind – so that [we] can discern between good and evil. [...] If you want to eat the solid food of the Word [which the mature eat] you must exercise your spiritual senses so as to develop a mind that discern between good and evil. This involves being obedient to God’s Word and His promises, applying it to our hearts and minds and be satisfied, which (if I understand it right) means to love what we find there. And this in turn will transform us, our values and principles and in turn enable to discern between good and evil. In all decisions.

It will change us deeply from within and give us an ever stronger desire for God and his Word, to know Him better and to obediently follow Him. It is a question of the heart. Let us therefore gladly mature on the milk of God's Word and then move on to deeper understanding!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Another quiz: what's your theological worldview?

Found this at the Raging Calvinist who is not that satiesfied with his results... I got 89 % for Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan and 86 % for Reformed Evangelical. Some of the questions were as usual difficult to answer, especially as there were some in there about which I'm currently thinking and trying to understand scripture and haven't really made my mind up yet... So here it is:

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Reformed Evangelical




Neo orthodox






Classical Liberal


Roman Catholic


Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I’ve been tagged...

by Carol from Carol’s storybook.
So here we go.

Q. The most books you’ve ever owned?
I guess I currently own around 500 books, not including my old children’s books which are still stored at my parents’ place (probably another few hundred). It could be more though ... and it’s growing steadily!

Q. The last book I bought...
The last one I bought in a book store was Strange Affair (An Inspector Banks Mystery) by Peter Robinson. And I just ordered a stack at amazon: RC Sproul, The holiness of God; John Piper, Desiring God and What is the difference? Manhood and Womanhood defined according to the Bible; and Scrapbook Lettering by Memory Makers.

Q. The last book I read...
I’m currently reading Strange Affair. On vacation I read about ten books, so I’m trying to remember the last one... I think it was Rory and Ita by Roddy O’Doyle. And I often browse through books I’ve read before during a meal by myself or on the bus (this week it was This present darkness and Piercing the darkness by Frank Peretti).

Q. The five books that meant the most to me...
Well, this is a hard one, folks. How to narrow it down to just five? This is what comes to my mind without too much time to reflect:

1. The Bible (not a very unique answer, but what’s true, is true)

2. The Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis.

3. Making Jesus Lord: The Dynamic Power of Laying Down Your Rights by Loren Cunningham (and also Is it really you, God?)

4. Unspeakable truth, Confronting State Terror and Atrocities by P.B. Hayner. This is a book from my area of work. It’s about the work of truth commissions in countries dealing with a past full of atrocities. Very interesting and also motivating.

5. Everything by Astrid Lindgren. These books are funny, sad, it’s about adventures, growing up, pain and loss, play and work, character, ... Just love them!

One extra:
6. My collection of children’s books that I have in my apartment. I know this is more than just one book, but these really meant a lot to me when growing up. I’ll narrow it down a little bit though: the books by Louisa M. Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Edith Nesbit.

So I'm tagging
miss o'hara

I'm sorry if any of you already was tagged (I've been gone for a while) or if you don't do things like this, but I'm curious for your answers!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Free book/CD giveaway

June Giveaway

Tim Challiess at challiess dot com has a giveaway every month where you can win books and CDs. The one for june is open now. Just click on the banner above.
This month it's two great sounding CDs and a book.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Sharing secrets

All of us have secrets that we don't plan to share with anyone - ever! And we think we have lots of good, thought-through reasons. And sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. There's a whole variety of reasons why we don't want to share certain desires, experiences, thoughts, ... They might be embarrassing, too funny, illegal, or just incredible painful.

This secret in the picture is not mine (although I used to really love my stuffed animals, they were never just toys to me!). It is depicted at post secret. People can send anonymous self-made cards there on which they share a secret they've never shared before. Go over there and have a look. Some are funny, some may seem strange, some are just heart-breaking.

Thanks to Tracey at worship naked for posting about it!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Vive la France - part 2

This is a picture of Cap Taillat that I took on our hike (when I still thought we were close to home - far from!). In the evening we went for aperitif and dinner in St. Tropez. We had Pastis at the main place and watched the participants of an oldtimer ralley where all the drivers were female. Afterwards we had dinner at a very nice restaurant (snails with garlic and pastis, daube de boeuf and tiramisu à la maison - did I make your mouth water? :)). Afterwards we watched those incredible yachts that were harbored there. I cannot imagine their price. It's hard to believe that people can be that rich!
The next day we made our nicest day trip. We drove over crazy hair bend roads to the Chartreuse de la Verne, a cloister of the Kartäuser (no clue what that is in English, sorry!). It was interesting, they only meet for two services a day and one meal a week (I think), the rest of the time is spent in their cells (Kartausen) in silent prayer.
Afterwards we drove on to Collobrières. That's a nice little town over a river with a church ruin above. We had lunch in a restaurant on the terasse which went across the river and just enjoyed ourselves. Collobrières is famous for its chestnut products, so Markus had chestnut creme for dessert.
Then we spontaneously visited Notre Dame des Anges, a church on the hights mountain in that range (Massif des Maures). It's a church dedicated to Mary worship and there were all kinds of pictures and other gifts there related to things Mary supposedly did for those people - there was a stuffed crocodile hanging under the ceiling!
Markus' aunt and uncle were there for the weekend, so we had a nice time together.
We also toured Grimaud and La Garde Freinet, visiting the castle and the mill in Grimaud and hiking in the mountains above La Garde Freinet to get to a cross above the village and see the ruins of a fortress built by the Sarazenes. And we went to a beautiful botanical garden right at the sea.
There's so much more we did, but that would fill far more posts than just these two ... :)

Vive la France

Posted by: coffeegirl
Vive la France
This is a picture of the cliffs and the Mediterenean Sea at Gigaro, France. It's actually the view from the beach where we spent quite some time.
We had a wonderful vacation, two weeks of sunshine, sea and lots of outdoor activities. We always had breakfast out on the terrasse from which one has a view on the sea and two islands. Markus' parents were still there when we arrived, so we spent one evening together with playing boules, walking down to the beach, wine and good conversation.
After breakfast we went down to the beach if we went there at all and stayed for a few hours. The water was really refreshing, especially during the first week when it was still quite cold. We also went to other beaches, at Cavallaire and at St. Tropez.
But we really enjoyed the tours we did.
We visited St. Tropez during the day once and walked around the cemetary (that may sound strange, but it's right at the sea and quite beautiful) and the fortress. Of course we had Pastis at Senequier, a famous cafe right at the harbour.
We also did a hike up and down the mountains behind Gigaro to the sea and then along the cliffs with some swimming at a beach that can only be reached by foot or boat. The scenery was gorgeous, but it was really exhausting... My face was bright red afterwards, I seriously need to work on my fitness!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Back from France

We had a wonderful vacation in France. I just came back and have been trying to catch up with the blogosphere... Not that easy! Lots of great posts and book suggestions out there. I read ten books during the two week vacation, so I need more :)

Miss O’Hara has a really interesting post on the question if traditionalist faith is really ascendant. I agree with so much in that post! Rev-Ed found an astonishing new bible translation. You won’t believe it...
Definitely check out the discussions on evangelical update. It will take me at least a week to catch up over there. They covered family planning, death penalty, condemnation, ...
Amy did a review on Work Excellence by Charles M. Garriott. I need to order that, my work ethics need a boost after that long break. I seriously need to work on my work attitude anyway.
So, enough suggestions for the moment...

I’ll post about our vacation soon and also put up some pictures. Just waiting for the rolls to be developed...