“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3, 16) We invite you to explore faith in Christ Jesus. Read the blog, look into the different topics, pray and explore a life with a great God!
God, the father, and the son, and the holy spirit, be with you and bless you!
Your Jesus Network
Tuesday, Sept 1, 2020. What do we know about ourselves? What is our life? How are you feeling this morning, and how are you approaching this day? These things are linked. When you think that life is meaningless, you will act differently than if you think life is full of meaning and purpose and joy!
Humans are fascinating beings. We have our goals, our environment, the people we love and those which cause trouble for our life. We are trying to earn our living. At the same time, humans look beyond the direct horizon of their life. We look to see beyond, in time, space, community and relationships! ... more
Good morning on August 31, 2020! This morning, a verse from the prophet Isaiah 2 caught my eye and my heart jumped out of joy. He says about the Lord's house: “People from many nations will go there. They will say, “Come. Let us go up to the Lord's mountain. Let's go to the house of Jacob's God. He will teach us how we should live. Then we will live the way he wants us to.” And indeed, the biblical books are full of wisdom. The voice of the Lord is a fantastic input and guidance for our life. Come, and let us learn from him, from Jesus! Have a great and blessed day! RP
Tuesday, August 18, 2020. Good morning, dear friends and visitors! After some time of break we are now back with more thoughts and discussion about Christian faith, about God and what he can mean for us on a daily basis.
It will be good to continue our journey with you, and with the Lord. He is and remains the living eternal God and father, who wants to be in the middle of our heart and our life every day, every hour.
We want to greet you with verse 6 from Galatians 5. The apostle Paul writes: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” It is our wish and desire that we all discover the reliability of God and find trust and faith in Jesus. Roland Potthast
Monday, May 18, 2020. I had to think about God's wonder over the past days. The bible is full of reports about God's actions, his wonders on many different layers of this creation.
Let us look into God's power and his wonders as reflected and described by the biblical texts. Let us look around as well, and let us try to grasp the beauty and wonder which is given to us through this creation as well as by our own existence. ... more
Thursday, May 7, 2020. Humans are living in a natural environment which can be both seen as ideal setup for humans to live as well as partly hostile and threatening. We find air to breathe, water to drink and crops to eat. But at the same time there is heat and cold, there are storms, there is tides and wild animals can cause a threat as well.
Humans and human societies are tools to help to protect humans. We live together, be build communities and societies. Much of this is natural, coming from the way human reproduction works. Father and mother get children, and they build a unit to nurture such a child and protect it from threats. They provide food and shelter to it. Grandparents as well as brothers and sisters provide a template for community, for different roles and levels of relations. ... more
Monday, May 4, 2020. What is filling my mind and my heart? What is it that is giving me a direction? What is it that draws my attention and my thoughts? Often, we experience this phenomenon that our thoughts circle arount particular topics. We come back to these topics again and again.
What is it that is influencing my thoughts? What is it that is influencing my heart? Sometimes I seem to be trapped in particular negative thoughts. Or I seem to be trapped in some particular pain. My thoughts and my emotions are not independent. Yes, I can use some reason, to argue. But often I realize that my arguments are guided by my emotions - and I see the same effect in many other people. What are the arguments which I would be willing to accept? ... more
Tuesday, April 21, 2020. We are looking into the resurrection stories, as written down in the gospel of Matthew. It is really interesting to read the different reports, each with their particular viewpoint and focus.
Some people have argued that the differences show that the reports cannot be true. But the contrary is the case. The different reports reflect viewpoints and personal testimony of people, just as it is the case in basically every law suit. Having the different reports show that the people who collected and edited the gospels did not modify them just to get one coherent version of it. Discussing this issue with many different scholars and researchers, there is wide range of opinions on the topic. And that again is quite natural - it seems a topic of highest interest if it is true, it will be constantly challenged by various people, and it will be a matter of continuing debate. ... more
Friday, April 17, 2020. Let us touch one of the main and critical points of Christianity. What do we think about the resurrection? What happened? Do we have a clear opinion on the events around the death of Jesus 2000 years ago? Do we have a concept for our world view, which would consistently combine our ethical values, our knowledge about this world and our understanding of its history and future?
The Christian message is touching the very core of our existence. It is touching the very core of the world as it is, its laws, its rules, its possibilities and framework. You cannot deal with the Christian message without changing your idea of reality, without adapting it to what you realize to be real! ... more
Thursday, April 16, 2020. Jesus plays the central role in the Gospel. He plays the central role in the whole New Testament. The reason for it is that he is the son of God. The relationship between God, the father, Jesus, the son, and the Holy Spirit has always fascinated and puzzled Christians and Non-Christians alike.
Jesus is the son of God. He is the word of God. But the word is God. He has been at the beginning. He is the firstborn of all creation. He is the image of the invible God. He is before all things, in all things, in him all things exist. In him is the fullness of God. ... more
Wednesday, April 15, 2020. There are sometimes messges which change your actions when you know them. We are influenced about our knowledge about things. Of course this is the case in a direct whay: the knowledge where you get food enables you to go there and get it. But it is also true in an indirect way. When you know that help is near, your ability to endure some difficulty might be strongly pushed up. When you know you have a big amount of money to arrive in some time, your motivation to deal with shortage for some limited time might be lifted up.
The knowledge about something changes our life. It even changes our mind, our reason, our creativity. It is a phenomenon which is well known in sciences. After some problem is solved somewhere, suddenly many solutions pop up. Where does it come from? It seems that the knowledge, that the problem is solvable, increases our insight and innovative capability. ... more
Tuesday, April 14, 2020. Good morning. We have celebrated easter, the festival which Christians use to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. Let us look into the core Christian gospel today as it is communicated by Paul, the apostle.
Jesus dies around the year 30 AD, with datings ranging from 29 AD to 33 AD. The young Christian church started immediately after this, usually Pentecost is said to be the birth of the Christian church, since it celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit after Jesus left his disciples 40 days after the resurrection. About 20-30 years later, the early letters of the apostle Paul have been written to the young churches, which evolved through the whole Roman empire and beyond. ... more
Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Easter is coming. This week Friday Christians all over the world celebrate Good Friday, Sunday they celebrate Easter Sunday. What are these days about?
Good Friday celebrates the death of Jesus, who is also called Christ, at a cross on a hill called Calvary close to Jerusalem about 2000 years ago. Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, who is said to have appeared many individuals up to 500 people at once in the 40 days after his crucifiction. He is then said to have vanished before their eyes on a mountain in Galilee, saying he is going to the father.
Let us explore the easter story today, let us think about what happened and what it means for you and for me today. ... more
Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Can we be glad “in the Lord”? Already the Old Testament announces joy and happiness for those who believe in the eternal God. It proclaims that you will be filled with joy, that dancing as an expression of praise is completely adequate for believers.
Let us explore what gladness faith brings, and how it can express itself. Let us go from the Old Testament to the New Testament and look into elements of his joy. The Lord is fantastic, and highly to be praised! ... more
Monday, April 6, 2020. Good morning. More people are getting nerveous in times of the Corona pandemic. This also affects daily work for those who are still fully busy or more busy than before due to increased workloads during Covid-19. Others are suddenly bound to heir home - which brings its own severe challenges. Others again have heard enough and want to get rid of the daily news about Corona.
So where is the Lord in all of this? Does Corona proof that there is no God, since you cannot see him answering the prayers of the people? Is it not that many Christians are also hit by the virus, both physically by being ill as well as economically and mentally by being under stress now? ... more
Friday, April 3, 2020. When you are surrounded by difficulties, how to you make sure your metal health is sustained? How do we cope with the challenges which we face?
Difficult situations are common. They come to all people - what ever our status, our situation, our framework. You can be king, and yet be challenged strongly by loneliness, by power struggle around you, by the burden of responsibility. You can be ill, not able to work properly, dependent on social benefit. How do you cope with it? You can be a normal person, with some technical job, with kids growing up. There are many things to do, with the challenges of kids in school or training, with financial questions, with your particular job situation.
Let us discuss what role faith can play in all our challenges! ... more
Thursday, April 2, 2020. Good morning! We are still with the lines from Matthew 6, where Jesus talks about justice and righteousness in the form of doing things for those in need.
Let us take up the actions which are disscussed here. So far, we have discussed the framework of the whole situation. But we have not touched the actions which Jesus is referring to. He talks about “giving to the needy”. Most ethical systems on this planet know the target to give to the needy. But why? And how?
In the political realm, there is an ongoing discussion about the type of help which should be given to people or whole states. There is a conflict between individual help at a given point in time, and the processes which this help might influence or even trigger. ... more
Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Justice is an important term and topic for our society. It is a generic theme which has high importance for all communities and states on this planet. Justice and righteousness is important between humans. It is a topic in economy as well as in law. It is a topic in the political discussion. And it is important for each and everyone of us since our income, granted holidays, taxes, child benefit, household and much more depends on the idea of justice and righteousness which we have in our legal and fiscal environment.
Righteousness is also a topic for our personal motivation. It is a topic for our phychological state and development, for us as a human. Am I right? Am I what I should be? How to look at my own talents, my character, my preferences, my choices, my behaviour? Can I say that I am right? It is an important topic on many levels of social interaction. Our choice how to organize the school system is strongly influenced by ideas of justice, support of young poeple, development and education rights. ... more
Tuesday, March 31, 2020. We have been discussing the personal framework of reference for our life. It means the framework which defines what is important to us, what is the goal and purpose and relational point of our life. You could say the framework of reference IS our life, in the sense that to us our life gets its meaning and purpose from this reference framework.
We have started to look into the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus gives advice on this reference framework. He talks about “your righteousness” which should not be practiced before other people. Today, let us discuss this in more depth. What does it mean? ... more
Monday, March 30, 2020. Let us talk about our personal life, about our framework of reference. What is giving my life such a framework? What does it mean at all? Why should we talk about it at all?
What is giving you joy? What is giving you motivation? What is giving you the feeling that you did it? What is it that gives you satisfaction? Our reference framework has a mental dimension, it has an ethical dimension, it has an emotional dimension, and it has a factual dimension as well. Let us go into some deeper understanding … ... more
Friday, March 27, 2020. Does God exist? How do people approach the question and what is the New Testament advice how to approach it? We have already started to look into the scientific approaches. Today, we want to continue this line of thought, trying to develop the New Testament perspective.
The New Testament teaches the presense of God everywhere. It also teaches the absense of God in the life of most of those who do not want to know him. We can live in this world without God - it is a possible choice. We are given our life time, whithout the exact knowledge of when it ends. ... more
Thursday, March 26, 2020. Humans have basic questions. Where do I come from? How am I? We want to know how the world works. We want to know who we are. We want to know what the framework of our existence is. What can we say?
We also try to understand the human mind and spirit. It matter all what exists? What about intention? What about personality? What about spirit? This touches the old question of matter or spirit. Dualism sees spirit with its own existence, complementary to matter. Since physics developed modern quantum mechanics, our idea of what matter actually is, has significantly changed. The world appears to be very strange - but not less beautiful, in the light of modern physics. ... more
Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Dear friends! We are on a day with 30.000 confirmed cases of the Corona virus in Germany. So far, 160 people died here. The number will be rising, since it is known that severe cases come after 2-3 weeks after infection, and infection cases just went up, basically doubling every 3 days.
How are people reacting to the corona crisis? Many countries today have shut down their economy and social life, with implications to all of us. The reasons seem clear to those who are carefully looking at the situation: before hospitals become overloaded and the whole health system collapses, states and communities try to limit or damp the spread of the virus. ... more
Monday, Feb 3, 2020. How do we live together? How do we organize or social environment? What is governing our relationships, our actions, the way we behave with respect to each other? What is the guiding principle of our interaction? What is the framework in which it takes place?
The societies of this world have their own particular framework. When you look around, you find a lot of diversity in this world. There are so many different systems in the far east. If you compare Japan with China, with Taiwan, with Singapore, with Korea. There is the middle east with its very special historical path. There is Africa, with a strong diversity of countries, from the Mediterranean Islamic states to the sub-Saharan regions and South-Africa. Look into the Americas, with the Spanish speaking countries and the United States. There is Europe with its 30+ States and European Union. ... more
Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020. Love is modern topic. It is a core topic of music. It is in the charts. It is popular. It is everywhere. Advertising uses beautiful bodies - of women and also of men - to attract people to its message. Products are linked to beautiful things which you love to have. Social media such as Instagram are full of pictures which want to generate love and admiration.
Love is an important topic for all ages. Humans search love. We want to be loved as we are - or as we want to be or choose to be. The rainbow flag has become a symbol of homosexual love and liberation. To find love is also part of many divorces. We got to know each other including all our strange character features, have given up in the light of severe problems, - and now search new hope and love and admiration beyond the old vows.
Let us dig deeper into this topic. What is love? ... more
Monday, Jan 27, 2020. There are a lot of things to enjoy on this planet. What is it that is giving you joy and excitement? Some like skying, to get into the snow in the sunlight. When you go down the mountains, it can be a fascinating feeling, a challenge to your skills, and a lot of fun at the same time.
Some of us like to eat and to drink. And indeed, it is great to have access to a variety of food and drink, from Italian to Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican and other kitchen. Do you like green tea, or coffee, or beer, or stronger drinks? The variety of fruits available today in standard supermarkets and more specialized shops everywhere on the planet is fantastic indeed.
What is it that lets you enjoy life? ... more
Friday, Jan 24, 2020. As modern scientists we are trained to be very careful about reality. The basic point of science is to try to find the truth about facts. We try to understand. We try to find the rules and laws which govern some phenomenon. We try to understand what happens and why it happens. We try to gain insight. And we try to find ways to influence and use the phenomena and facts we find.
Science has these two main target points: insight and know-how. Insight tries to understand. Know-How tries to find methods to use and employ the knowledge. Where do we see spiritual questions in this framework? How to deal with faith, with ethics and with the reality of God? Let us think deeper … ... more
Thursday, Jan 23, 2020. When is something “right”? When is something exactly the way it should be? Of course you need a template to talk about something being right. You need a goal or target, you can meet. You need some description of what it should be.
What about humans? Can they be “right”? We could talk about actions. Actions can be right if they carry out what should be done. They can be ok or right if they are within some well-formulated limits. If they obey the rules. If they are ethical, meaning they do what is within some formulated ethics. ... more
Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020. Where do we get our ethics from? What is “good”? Modern society has developed a set of human rights, which is supposed to be a universial law for everyone, for every nation and every community on the planet.
We also know the 10 commandments from the Old Testament, which are basic rules of ethics also active in the New Testament. They take a different role in the New Testament, compared to the old one. But they are still basic guidance for our life, for thoughts, words and actions.
But what is the root of our ethics? Why should we follow some ethics at all? Can we discover the spiritual dimension and true root of our ethics? According to the bible it is a reflection of the holiness of God. It is a reflection of his character, his goodness, his love. ... more
Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020. What is it that humans can know about this world? What is it that we can know about ourselves? Where do we come from? How did we come into being? Why are we what we are? What is the world composed of? How does it work? How does it function? What can we know and recognize about nature, about our mind and reason, about spiritual things?
We also ask: is there a God, and what can we know about him? What about the various experiences and ideas humans have developed about God? Is it that all what we deal with is an illusion, merely the outer shell of something deeper inside? What about the spirits and beings which are worshiped here and there on this planet? What about the spiritual experiences of people who start to explore the spiritual world? And what about the one God of the three big world religions: Jewish faith, Christian faith and Islam? Who is God? What to know about him? ... more
Friday, Jan 17, 2020. Many of us lead a busy life. It is not only those with full jobs and a family. It is already the kids at the age of 16 or 17, who are busy busy busy. There is school. There are various activities, some musical instruments or sports, friends, parties, trips.
If you have a family, there are various things which will fill your time. The composition of your day will highly depend on the age of your kids, and on their particular activities and well-being. Young kids need a lot of direct attention. Older kids need your contributions on other levels - sometimes just funding, but often lifts by car, or help in school or various other things. ... more
Wednesday, Jan 15, 2020. Humans tend to compare themselves to others. We tend to look for a ranking within our environment. This can be the work place, or the network we are part of. It can also be the class in school, or our fellow students, or the co-workers in our company.
Who is the best in sports? Which football club is in the champion's league? Who is the best club, the best trainer, the best striker? We have the same approach in other parts of social life. Who is the best performer? Who is the best musician? Who is the best scientist?
Monday, Jan 13, 2020. What things I own plays an important role for my life. Do I live in a rented flat or do I own a house. Can I afford to buy an expensive car? Do I have enough money to afford holidays and travel?
There is the human struggle to earn enough to be able to buy food and water, clothing and shelter, and to afford some things which make life easy and enjoyable. Let us think about ownership and possessions … ... more
Friday, Jan 10, 2020. Humans are social beings. We all know it. We need each other and we cannot live without each other. We grow up in a family, and we need the nurturing and support to be able to live at all. For years we need our parents to feed us and to protect us.
But it is more. Humans are relational beings. That means we define ourselves by others, which we take as reference. We compare ourselves to others. We live in a framework of relations to others. Where do you stand in a group? This includes friendship, companionship, parentship, but also competition, rivalry and contest. ... more
Thursday, Jan 9, 2020. What is causing trouble for our life? Why are we facing this trouble. What is the origin and cause of the trouble and pain we face? Let us look into different levels of causality with respect to the distress of human life.
Asking for understanding the origin and cause of our trouble is an important question for each of us personally. It is also an important question for the groups we are in, for our family, for our job environment, for our town, our region, our state, our country. ... more
Tuesday, Jan 7, 2020. At the beginning of a new year we might feel like getting a new start. We might feel like cleaning up in our life, and changing some things which caused us trouble. Usually, here we talk about our own life, about our own habits, about the patterns in our behaviour.
But it is not that easy to change behavioural patterns. Do you know how to change them? Patterns of behaviour are actions we do again and again. Habits are important capabilities of humans, let us discuss that in more detail! ... more
Monday, Jan 6, 2020. How does life with God work? Who is God? We need to be careful about what we think about God, what we believe who he is. We need to be careful about our life in general, to build it on solid ground.
Let us talk about the overall framework of our life. Let us talk about this world, as it can be observed and experienced. And let us talk about the biblical promises, the message of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Let us talk about experiences of Christians, and about the life with God, what it can be … ... more
Thursday, Jan 2, 2020. Happy and blessed New Year 2020! May your life be full of peace and purpose, full of love, truth and faithfulness! May you be a light to the people around you, to everyone you know.
We all are called to be full of faith. In the biblical books we are invited to trust the Lord, the creator, the beginning and the end. We are invited to discover the Lord, his presence, his character. Let us discuss this faith and look a little deeper into it! What does it mean? ... more
Monday, Dez 30, 2019. Hello friend! The year 2019 has come to its end, 2020 is starting tomorrow. How are you doing? What is it that moves you? What are you looking forward to in 2020? What is still worrying you?
Today I had a coffee with a friend. It was very nice to see her again, after quite a while where we did not have time to talk to each other. But we had only an hour, and I thought afterwards, that it was a pity that we did not really talk about life, about what is important, about our faith, our questions, our hopes and dreams. To some extend, we talked about dreams, and about personal developments. But there could be so much more! ... more
Monday, Dez 23, 2019. What is it that can bring peace to the world? The discussion of peace is a complex discussion. Look at the freedom map of the world, and you learn that too many countries have their particular understanding of peace and freedom: follow strict rules of a prescribed religion or ideology, and you can live in 'our' peace. Strong suppression is happening in so many places. We could burst into tears about the fate of our planet!
Again and again we need to ask: what type of freedom and peace are we talking about? Does freedom and peace mean that everyone can do what they want? What are the laws we need to insist on? What type of social contract do we follow? What is the framework for our thoughts, our discussions, our decisions? What should be allowed, what should be forbidden? ... more
Saturday, Dez 21, 2019. Christmas is coming, and many of us have holiday to spend time with the family or to take time out, relax and get some distance to our normal duties. It is time to think about life, about MY life. It is time to think about what is really important to me.
What is important to you? Can we quickly check the options? Can we go through what is important to you personally? Let us imagine we sit together over a tee, or perhaps with a glass of wine or beer. Imagine as old friends we talk about what happened in the past 12 month. We look forward into our plans for the next year. What is it that we could achieve. What is it where we failed. What is coming? Are we afraid of some things? Are we looking forward to others? ... more
Friday, Dez 20, 2019. We have been discussing why we need Jesus. We started with the question why we need God to talk to us. And we talked about God being the creator. He knows creation, and he knows humans. We need his wisdom.
We also talked about him and his spirit as the one who can fill our heart and our mind. We are made to be with him, with the eternal father. Only when we find the eternal loving father, we are complete. Without him we will always feel a void in the center of our existence. ... more
Thursday, Dez 19, 2019. Christmas is the celebration of God coming to mankind. It is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Christ. It means the one anointed, which is an image for being prepared and filled with the spirit of God.
The background of Christmas is that as humans we need God to talk to us. We need him to come to us. That is true for mankind as a whole. It is also true for each and every individual person, for you and for me. We all need him. ... more
Tuesday, Dez 17, 2019. The bible contains a lot of encouraging words. It also contains a lot of serious words. If you observe the events in the Old Testament, it is often judgement which is the topic of the day.
Can we understand the cause and point of judgement as it is presented in the Old Testament? Can we understand the judgement which is the topic of the New Testament? Let us take that up for a moment and think about it in more depth! What is the point of judgement, why is God judging individuals or even whole groups of people? ... more
Monday, Dez 16, 2019. When you are in the middle of trouble, usually you find it difficult to see how it could change. As mankind, we have always been in much trouble. Humans fought for superiority, and war and supression has been and is a part of human history. Even today, there are many countries where freedom is strongly suppressed - personal freedom and the freedom of speech and faith. Billions of people suffer from suppression, I do not want to start picking out individual countries - just take a moment to search “freedom of press world map” and you will get a visual indication of the problem.
Can we comprehend the full breadth of trouble we are still in? Can we be honest with ourselves? Are we trying to avoid the trouble, trying to focus on some good things? It can be a good way to keep you half-way healthy, to survive. ... more
Thursday, Dez 12, 2019. How do you understand God? You could start to read the bible, and many of its parts will tell you a lot about the Lord.
Are there particular starting points, which can help you to learn more about him? Yes, there are various such starting points. One of them are the 10 commandments, which are recorded in Mose 2, Chapter 20 (and further places). They are the background and basis for many other parts such as the Beatitudes of Jesus in Matthew 5-7.
This morning, I would like to take the first commandment as a discussion point. Of course, there have been various books and sermons on the 10 commandments. They are attributed to Moses, which means that they have been recorded about 1400 BC. What is their core idea and purpose? ... more
Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019. How do you come to conclusions with respect to God? How do you decide what to think about this basic question? We need to talk a little bit about our communication with God. How can you communicate with him?
The question of how to hear from God is linked to the overall situation of humans in general. If God is there, how does he interact with us humans? This is one of the basic questions people have been asking for a long time. Is God a hidden God? Can you live with him on a daily basis? How does it work? What does the Bible say about this? ... more
Monday, Dec 9, 2019. Today, let us step back a little bit and think about our life, our world and the different interpretations which are possible.
We live on a small planet today. It is still quite a large place, which you realize when you start to travel through the wide planes of Russia or through Africa. There is a lot of space on the planet. At the same time, humans have settled in many large towns - Tokyo, Shanghai, London, Paris, New York.
Today the environmental activists see the planet as a very valuable asset, which humans need to preserve. Human activity has a huge impact on the environment, which is feeding impact back and is shaping human life-style. ... more
Saturday, Dec 07, 2019. The birth of Jesus is described at the beginning of the gospel of Luke. Luke starts with a comment on how he wrote his story. He investigated and collected material and put it together. Usually it is assumed that Luke wrote his two books, the gospel of Luke and the book “Acts” - the story of the early church - between about 55 and 65 AD, since he does not report the death of the apostle Paul 67 AD, even if Acts writes about Paul's missionary journeys until his deportation to Rome. So with the death and resurrection of Jesus about 30 AD, the collection took place about 25 to 35 years after Jesus life on earth.
Thorough Investigation …
Today, let us focus on some important observations. First, we observe the desire of Luke to carry out a sincere investigation. First, he writes: ... more
Thursday, Dec 05, 2019. Talking about facts and history, we are discussing the birth of Jesus. There are many things to say here about the gospels and their way to present the story. You might read the Christmas story following Luke, from Chapter 2. Or you look into Matthew Chapters 1 and 2.
There are several events told in connection with the birth of Jesus. Also, Matthew and Luke have a slightly different way to put the event into historical context - Matthew referring to Herod the Great, Luke to Quirinius and the many censuses, which the Roman emperor Augustus initiated during his lifetime. We have discussed this already earlier. In any case, both Gospels name relatively clear reference points which are well-known historical periods, with the exception that Quirinius was governor in Palestine from 6-21 AD, before that he held many positions between Northern Africa, Rome, modern Turkey and Syria, which might have included Palestine, but that is not fully clear. He conducted a census in 7 AD, but it is not known if this was the first census Luke refers to. References to the Roman emperor Tiberius and to the governor Pilate fit into the story completely, supporting a birth of Jesus about 6-4 BC. ... more
Wednesday, Dec 04, 2019. Talking about facts and history, let us start to think about the birth of Jesus. In the time of advent - the four weeks before the Christmas celebration, Christians all over the globe celebrate the birth of the “son of God”.
When we talk about history, we can state what seems to be historical fact as far as we know today, using the best of our critical efforts to explore what happened 2000 years ago. ... more
Monday, Dec 02, 2019. When we talk about history, we talk about facts. We also talk about interpretation of the facts. History is not just a sequence of events. It is a whole collection of events, many of them chaotic and diverse, contradictory.
When you see comprehensive writing about historical periods, they are to a good extend interpretation. The historian searches to understand what happened. Then, he brings the events into what he perceives as historical line or comprehensive interpretation. ... more
Saturday, Nov 30, 2019. When I was in school, history seemed very boring to me. I had no interest in some wars in the past. Why should it be exciting to learn about some emperors who lived 800 years ago? I did not have any access to these things. No, history was not my concern. Also, Christian faith was not my main concern, though I was part of the Lutheran church. I was interested, yes. But I could not see you to make progress, I did not know what to think.
What is your access to history? And what is your opinion about the Christian faith? Do you have access to faith? Or perhaps you do not really know it? Some people are very much opposed to faith.
Personally, I was unclear about Christian faith in my teen years. I had learned about it in school and in a Lutheran church. But it was not clear to me. I have not been against faith. But from the age of 14 I considered it to be quite unclear what to believe. Who was God? Was God love? What was the meaning of that sentence? So my personal history can be characterized by many questions which the church as I knew it could not answer. ... more
Friday, Nov 29, 2019. Let us look at history from a Christian perspective. Christianity teaches Jesus as the risen Lord. It started with the experiences of the early disciples of Jesus, who were with him for 40 days after the resurrection. Christianity started with the experiences of the Holy Spirit, who comes into the life of people who follow in Jesus by heart. ... more
Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019. Let us talk about history and its relationship to my own life. What is my involvement? Is history really important?
It is a good question! I think we should take it serious and try to list the possible answers. ... more
Monday, Nov 25, 2019. How important is history for my life? Is it really important what happened 150 years ago? Is it important for me what happened 120 years ago? What about things which took place much longer ago, about 1000 AD, or perhaps 1900 AD?
Let us have a look at the meaning of history to us today. History is important for several reasons. Of course, not everyone needs to have his or her main focus on history. Still, it is good to see how the things which we use today on a daily basis came into being. ... more
Wednesday, Oct 2, 2019. The reality of the biblical description and content is astonishing. When you explore the Old and New Testament, you will find the topic of young and old age, life and death, guilt and shame, hope and glory!
What is Life? …
What is life? Humans have the ability, to define themselves. That is human: we have our own mind, our own ideas. We define who we are. At the same time, we fail with this task. We fail deeply. ... more
Wednesday, Aug 14, 2019. What type of book is the bible? You might be asking yourself. How to approach it? How to read it? Who can be a good help to understand it.
The bible is a very rich book. It covers the whole of world history. It has been written over many centuries. There are historical parts, wisdom literature, songs, and the unique stories about Jesus in the new testament, the gospels. There are letters by the first apostles, and the prophetic book of the revelation. There is a lot to discover.
Historical Setting …
The bible is full of history. It is quite some adventure to discover the history of mankind and how deeply it is interwoven with the biblical stories and experiences. ... more
Monday, July 15, 2019. The beginning of the gospel of John is one of the most prominent and most fascinating texts of the bible. It is about Jesus, who is also called the word. The gospel introduces its main topic in its first verses, telling us what is important and why.
The biblical story is about life as a whole. It is about creation. It is about humans. It is about insight and the principles which govern our actions. Thus it is also about conscience, about reason, about emotions, about decisions.
Let us read the beginning of the gospel of John. Look into the original, the biblical text, full of images, full of insight and wisdom, full of power: ... more
Wednesday, June 19, 2019. Christians are called to love all people. God wants to reach everyone. He loves everyone and wants everyone to trust him. Let us keep this first point in mind. Let us take it up from the bible as a core part of the Christian message. We might be suspicious or think that the whole story is not consistent, that we do not understand it. Yet we can keep a note on this core point that God is said to be love and to be trustworthy and that he wants you and me to trust him, to trust our whole life into his hands.
The Old and New Testament also talk about justice, about God to be a very furious God when it comes to injustice, violence and lies. God's justice is of huge importance in history as well as for the relationship between men or women and God. ... more
Tuesday, June 11, 2019. We live in a time where the approval of anything humans do is measured by likes and the money an audience is willing to spend on something. We have come to the point where we hold good what is popular.
Of course, it is good to have everyone involved. Democracy means that all can express their opinion without fearing any negative sanctions or even violence. It also means that by choices of many preferences find their way into real developments. Some people will try to influence the masses - to stir the choices into a direction which is beneficial for them. It is an interesting interaction, this game of influence. ... more
Thursday, June 6, 2019. We are moving toward Pentacost. It is the celebration of the Holy Spirit, one of the main and important celebrations of Christianity. Let us talk about one particular point today, one of the points about the holy spirit. It is about the power of the spirit, but one particular effect of his power.
As a background and framework, let us recall first. God, the creator and eternal God, is spirit. He is father, son and holy spirit. We talk about the one God, but three persons, three ways to experience him and to learn about him. He is the eternal father. He is the son, Christ Jesus, who became human and lived among us. And he is the holy spirit, sent by Jesus, coming to those who believe in him. That is the biblical story about God. ... more
Monday, June 3, 2019. The New Testament invites us to get to know God through Jesus, Christ Jesus. The stories of the gospels are the life story of Jesus. His birth is told, his ministry, selections of his actions and interaction with the people of his time. And then we hear about his death, about the resurrection and the ascension.
Let us understand what the bible tells us about the relationship of God and men. God wants to live with humans, with each and every individual, with you and with me. God wants us to know him. He wants us to be in a relationship with him, in a save and undisturbed relationship, a relationship characterized by trust and truth. ... more
Monday, May 20, 2019. What are our associations when we hear the word “God”? Many of us think of great power, of the ability to do what ever you want. To be God means to most of humans today to be free of problems, of suffering, of pain.
But the biblical story is exactly the opposite. It is about God, coming into this world. But in what way is he coming? What is happening, and what is the message and goal of his actions? Let us look into this deep and important question today! ... more
Wednesday, May 15, 2019. When you search for guidance and peace, the best advice I know is to sit down and read in the biblical books. In particular, the New Testament is extremely valuable, but also the Psalms as well as the prophets or the books of Moses are fantastic to read and to be inspired. ... more
Monday, May 13, 2019. Many people know that Jesus commands his disciples to love their neighbors as themselves. It is recorded in the New Testament, and it is part of this new covenant, rooted deeply in the cross of Calvary and the forgiveness which is proclaimed with the death of Jesus!
However, the command to love your neighbor as yourself is not new at all. It is, indeed, one of the old commands, given together with the 10 commandments when Moses brought the people of Israel out of Egypt. ... more
Thursday, May 9, 2019. Christian faith is about God, we all know that. But what is the role of God for us? What exactly does faith mean?
Some people think that faith is mainly a set of ethical rules. Others believe it has been invented to deal with the fear of people, the fear of death. And indeed, it talks about eternity and about life. Commandments are involved in faith - people are told which type of behaviour is good and which type is not good. But still behaviour is not the first layer of faith, not its core or center.
What is the role of Christ Jesus? And why did he have to die at the cross of Calvary? ... more
Wednesday, May 8, 2019. What should be the first thing to consider in my life? What is the first thing to care about? What is the first thing to do?
You might think the first thing should be to survive. We need air to breethe. We need to drink and to eat, clean water to survive the day, and food to survive the next day. To get all this, we need work. Also, humans need commmunity. We need others, just alone we cannot be, it drives us crazy.
It is interesting to see what Jesus says about the first things to consider. Let us have a look into this fascinating bible passage. ... more
Friday, May 3, 2019. Over the past days I have run several times into the first commandment: do not have other Gods! We were reading the letter of Paul to the Romans recently with our bible study group, and Paul talks about how mankind lives without God. He talks about those choosing their own Gods.
Also, life can point you to a particular topic. You realize that you have some categories in your mind. Things can be deep in your life, your feelings, in the way you look at the world. What are the Gods in YOUR life? I am realizing those in mine … ... more
Monday, April 29, 2019. What is good for us today? I am thinking about input for our life, for our thoughts, for our reasoning about our business and social activities. What would be good to get as input, as impulse, as inspiration?
We are, today, in the middle of new social conflicts. Human history has never been without conflicts, and today there are so many conflicts active everywhere in the world. Migration is just an indicator - with people searching a better life, a better world! ... more
Friday, April 26, 2019. The biblical story of the resurrection of Jesus is challenging. It superseeds our standard experience. It is difficult to judge if we wanted to put it into a framework as we usually do with news about events. In modern language we would say: singularities in space and time are characterized by being single, and it is very hard to get a general understanding of such events.
But there is more in the New Testament. After Jesus is risen, he is taken into heaven. This is another “singular” event. Similar reports we find only very few in the whole history of mankind! It usually does not happen. But let us look into more details of what people have said about what happened. ... more
Wednesday, April 24, 2019. How can we know about God? How do we find out ourselves? What about things people say? How to approach this deep and important question?
Clearly, when you look around, you will find many answers to the question about God. There are those who tell you that there is no God. There are others, who tell you where to find God. And indeed, when you have found an answer yourself, you might tell others what you have discovered.
Yet, in all of this you have to find your own path. What ever you choose, it is your choice. Whom you follow, to whom you listen, your decision. There is just no other option, you choose anyway. ... more
Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Easter celebrations are over, some of us are still in school holidays, others go back to work. Did you have some relaxing time with your family? In the center of Europe, the weather was lovely and nice, with sunny warm days over the weekend.
What is your view to the Easter story? What is your involvement? Perhaps you are part of some church, perhaps you have celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus? Or you are more critical of these things. Perhaps you have your deep problems with the church and its activities. ... more
Thursday, April 18, 2019. Currently, Christian in the whole world celebrate Easter. It is about the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. It is about events which took place about 2000 years ago in Jerusalem, but still have meaning and power until today.
Indeed, the Easter story about the pain and death of Jesus is a very moving and challenging story. It takes much of its meaning to us as humans from the fact that we all experience pain and that we all are going to die. Indeed, that someone who is very important is dying leads us to the core tension and challenge of life. ... more
Friday, April 12, 2019. It is interesting to look at our human life, how we shape our ideas of who we are and where we want to go. How are we making our decisions? What are the guiding mechanism in our life? In what way are our decisions made now, when we seem to do them? What is preparing these decisions? What is setting the environment for us to develop in one or the other direction?
Humans grow up as infants and children. About 20 years of our life are needed to shape our mind and our heart, to give us the framework to think, to judge, to make decisions and to develop some basic understanding of who we are. 20 years are needed! We should not think that our decisions today would be done just the moment we formulate them or become aware of them. They are shaped over time, prepared over time! ... more
Wednesday, April 10, 2019. Christians are called to live in a special way. They are called to BE different. Let us stay at this point for a moment, and understand what it means and how it can be achieved. We are reading in one of the letters of the New Testament, written by the apostles to the young churches in Greece and Italy and some towns in the area of modern Turkey. The letters are milestones of thought, milestones of ethics, milestones of philosophy and faith.
When I read this text from the letter to the church in Philippi, I usually have a lot of thoughts about the various ways the text can be and has been misused. But should I let the misuse of some people keep me from reading and understanding and believing biblical insight? Let us try to get close to what the text means and what it wants! And then let us see where we are and where God is in all of this … ... more
Tuesday, April 9, 2019. Let us have a look into what the New Testament books call “salvation”. God wants to reach people. He wants to reach each and every single person on the planet. It is about justice, about trust, about love, about purity. He rescues us by putting us into his community of trust, love and truth.
Salvation in the biblical sence touches all parts of human life. It touches all we are, all we want, all we desire, all we do. It is a transformation - something like a new birth. It is not just following some rules. It is not just paying money, or assembling in a special building on Sunday mornings. Salvation is a transformation of our life. We become children of God, in a very concrete and amazing way day by day. ... more
Thursday, April 4, 2019. What is the role of state and authority today, in the 21st century? If you look around in this world, different states show a quite diverse range of political systems. There are, in the Europe and northern America states which have democratic systems. There are many systems which do not allow far reaching personal freedom, even if they may have parliaments which officially govern the state elected by “the people”. But even within democratic states there are leaders. We elect people to be responsible, or by property and ownership there are people in charge of a company or institue or process to guide others.
How do you personally deal with authority? How do you treat people who are given some authority, for example policemen, or someone in a state office, or your line manager in your company? What are you feelings? How do you talk about them? What are the difficulties? What is going well? ... more
Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Freedom needs to be taken day by day. Let us discuss dependencies and a special kind of slavery which can be part of our life day by day. What I mean is the following: we all have ideas and images which guide our decisions. We all have mechanisms and reaction patterns, which determine how we act and feel in a particular situation.
Is it freedom to behave like we do? When you are always drawn into a particular pattern of behaviour, is that free? No, it is not. You are influenced by something, by some idea or by a failure in the past. And this is pushing you. It has power over your choices. It determines what you want - or better, it is pushing itself over what you would want and need if this would not determine you! ... more
Monday, April 1, 2019. What about human freedom? What is it that makes you free? We are all free to some extent. We make our choices day by day. We choose what to wear. We choose what to say. We shape our free time. We shape our relationships. We choose a partner. There is so much freedom in human life.
How free are we? …
At the same time, we are also unfree to some extent. Our choices are influenced by the environment we have grown up in. We are influenced and limited by our experiences. Some of us had to make very bad and difficult experiences, traumatic and strongly endangering. It is not easy to get rid of the influences which have shaped our mind, our emotions, our soul, our existence! ... more
Thursday, March 28, 2019. There is a lot of struggle in politics. But there is a lot of struggle as well if you work in a company, or if you want to achieve something in any other community. Where ever humans are together, they have different character, different preferences, different talents and abilities, different capability to endure … a lot of different things.
How do we work together? Sometimes it is just working. If the right characters come to a table, they might easily find a way to collaborate, to invest their personal strength and do great things! But it can also be different … ... more
Wednesday, March 27, 2019. Sometimes people think that faith is a matter of belief. It is about an opinion or conviction. And yes, what I believe with my complete life is very important here. But belief is just my attitude towards something or someone. If my belief is not based on facts, the story would be different. I can believe that someone has brown hair, but if he is blonde my belief is not linked to reality.
Not based on nice Words …
In his first letter to the Korinthians, the apostle Paul insists that the way he presents the gospel is not important. His own strength is not important. It is even not the most important that we have all the arguments sorted out completely. But what is important? Let us listen: ... more
Monday, March 25, 2019. The center of the New Testament is the cross of Jesus. What is it about? It was in about the year 30 of our calender, when a Jew named Yeshua (Jesus) was crucified in Jerusalem. He had come into conflict with the authorities of his time, and was sentenced to death by the Roman authorities.
How many people have died from various causes? How many have been killed over time. What should be special with this particular death? ... more
Friday, March 22, 2019. Is love free of consequences? When you love someone, does that mean that you never react to his or her behaviour? The contrary should be true. The more you love someone, the more you care. The more you love, the more you will pay attention what he or she does.
Love by itself is consequence. Love means to be attentive. Love means to care. Love means that you a full of passion. Your passion will not allow you to ignore what your loved one does, what he or she says. Consequences in our life, our actions, our words and behaviour come from our love. ... more
Wednesday, March 20, 2019. How honest are the words we hear about a particular thing? We all are used to words we cannot trust. We are all flooded by words we cannot trust. Day by day, from morning to evening. You listen to the news, you hear politicians saying a lot of things about their party and the other competitors. It is all marketing, attacking the others. Truth is different! Truth is full of shades, of sincere thoughts!
Where is the problem? Is it that the speaker does not know, that opinion is formulated in a way as if it would cover all of truth? Or is it that there are real lies, where someone knows the truth, but does tell something different? Is the lie so deep that the person believes its own lies? ... more
Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Good morning! I have been reading the Gospel of Matthew this morning, in particular the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5. Jesus talks about beatitudes here, about blessing which comes to those who search God, who listen to God, who come to his community.
Jesus also talks about our own mind, our feelings, our actions, our whole existence.
Blessings and Ethics …
The mixture of the Sermon on the Mount is breathtaking and remains breathtaking. I have read this text 20 years ago, and it was amazing. Reading it this morning, it is still amazing. Of course, you need to think about it. You need to understand, need to dig deeper into it. ... more
Thursday, March 14, 2019. As a human race, or as indivicuals, how far is our understanding? “Wait a moment”, you might say. “What are you talking about?” You might say: “I have problems enough in my job, very strange rules, a salary which does not fully pay what the kids need and relatives which show difficult behaviour. We can talk about understanding of this situation - and a good path through the next days!”
At the same time, of course, a lot of us are working on a better understanding of our world. There are engineers working on “how to make this happen”, for example electric cars. There are scientists working on the basic understanding of phenomena. They search ways to understand, to describe, to simulate and to predict! ... more
Tuesday, March 12, 2019. How important are names for us? Today we are all used to brands, to particular names which are used for building up a brand which carries meaning. Companies try to connect positive associations to their name. And if some name is linked to some bad event, usually the institution which bears the name suffers strongly - up to the point that it needs to be closed completely. Names ARE important, even on a very secular level.
Strong Tower …
In the bible, the name of God, the name of the Lord is of particular importance. In the ten commandments humans are called to not misuse the name of God. Further, in the Old as well as the New Testament you find many places where calling on the name of the Lord is a key step of faith for people. Who ever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved! (Joel 2, 32 and Romans 10, 13). Salvation and justice, which is given to us for free, comes by faith in Christ Jesus, it comes through the name of the Lord. God built his own brand, the “Christ”, his son Jesus, “the Lord saves”. In Proverbs 18, we read: ... more
Monday, March 11, 2019. Let us discuss honesty and integrity. Let us discuss pride versus humility, riches versus righteousness, purity versus wickedness. The book Proverbs, part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, is addressing these things. We are invited to think about it. We are called to wisdom!
Discussing wisdom has some tradition in human history. Today, it is usually hidden in particular tasks, for example the discussion about environmental protection implicitly talks about wisdom. How should we as human race deal with the earth, with our environment, with animals and plants? ... more
Wednesday, March 6, 2019. We have been looking into the wisdom literature of the Proverbs, this important book of the Old Testament. As a core part, it tells us to listen to God and his wisdom, to trust God, to fear God and take him serious. But it also gives very practical on various levels. Wisdom is not only something spiritual, but it is practical. It has clear and immediate consequences. It is about action, about our behaviour!
What is the value of wisdom in our life? What is its status? The following passage talks about the role which wisdom has for us. Have a look! ... more
Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Let us look a little further into the book of “Proverbs”, where we find teachings attributed to Solomon, the wise king, son of David. The advice given here is written in the form of a father speaking to his son. We can read it as a historical document, but we can also read it as God, the father, speaking to us, his sons and daughters.
The following part from Proverbs is remarkable in various aspects. There are so many layers of our mind and our life addressed here. But before we go into further discussion, let us read: ... more
Monday, March 4, 2019. What is it that makes humans wise? Today, we all know that we have gained a lot of understanding of natural processes by science. Sciences means the search and research of humans by thinking, testing, experimenting with nature. So we know that without this search and the experiments we cannot gain a proper understanding of natural processes.
Does science make us wise? Mankind has learned by many experiences that sciences helps to understand particular points of nature. Perhaps more, we gain a quite broad image of how important parts of nature work. We do not yet understand many things, but we have a concept for understanding which worked in many cases in the past - and we expect it to help us to gain further insight. ... more
Friday, March 1, 2019. How does it work with faith today? Is faith fit for modern times? What is it we believe in a 'post-modern' world? Let us ask these questions - with a clear view on the situation as it is today in the world, in Europe, in the US, in Asia.
Of course, if you ask different people this question, you will get very different answers. This is a common feature which connects our world today with the world 1000 or 2000 years ago. Over all the time humans have given very different answers to the question of faith. But can we say more on this? ... more
Wednesday, Feb 27, 2019. How can I listen to God? If you think you cannot listen anyway, probably you should go to another website or book. But if you are interested, you might join us thinking about how we listen to God, how we hear what he says.
The biblical view is quite clear: God is has spoken through the prophets. He has spoken through the son - that is through Christ Jesus. He has spoken through his apostles and evangelists, recording the words of Jesus, and writing letters to the churches and to other Christians. Also, God is speaking through the spirit, until today. Listen to the spirit. ... more
Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019. We are in the middle of a discussion about the phrase “lamb of God”, about the question why forgiveness is necessary. Indeed, we talk about two main points here, one is forgiveness, the other is justification.
Forgiveness and justification are both linked to both behaviour and the state of the human life. We should talk about this: where does the concept come from? Is it valid for our human life? Is it intrinsically there, linked to life itself? Or is it brought to life by some external entity? What is its role to ethics and morale? ... more
Monday, Feb 25, 2019. The New Testament uses the term “lamb of God” for Jesus. The image of a lamb comes many times. You have probably heard it. Some of us have heard it so many times that we have forgotten what is means! Others never realized the term. So let us check it out for a moment.
The term lamb can be seen as an image by itself. I like this idea, to take it out of context first. A lamb is an animal, which is usually very soft, very innocent and very sweet. If you have ever been with your kids looking at lambs and sheep on a farm, you will have an unforgettable experience. The kids love the lambs, they are excited. And there is no sign of any fear. You do not have to fear a lamb! ... more
Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019. The God of the Old and New Testament is the God of Truth. He calls himself by that title in the book of Isaiah (chapter 65). And truth is a core topic in many parts of both the Old and the New Testament.
We will have a special service next Sunday, where the topic “truth in times of fake news” has been chosen. As preparation, I have been browsing for bible passages about truth recently. I can say that I am truly moved by the role which truth plays in the relationship between God and mankind. It is very important - up to the point that we are called to live in spirit and truth! Nothing less. ... more
Tuesday, Feb 19, 2019. What is the background of Christian faith? Is it rooted in truth, in facts? What has happened? What do we know? How do we know? And is it reasonable to believe in Jesus? Is it well grounded? Is it a rational step of human life?
Today, there are a lot of opinions and statements hovering in the social media. People claim all different kinds of things. And we are confronted with strong statements about this and that - which includes sometimes Jesus or “the church” as a whole. People formulate their emotions and opinions. But what are the facts behind the story?
Solid Ground …
The biblical books of the New Testament claim to be a correct account of what has happened in and with Jesus. The apostles, which are cited and which are authors of most of the New Testament letters, have been living with Jesus. They have experienced the events which are described and taken up in the gospels and the New Testament letters. In Acts 4 we find the following typical remark: ... more
Friday, Feb 15, 2019. Sometimes when you see or hear things in our community which are not working well, you could become very angry. This can happen in politics. It can happen just around you, in your neighborhood. It can happen in our schools, when your kids talk about behaviour of teachers or administration. What when you see some behaviour of another person, which is really bad? You could become very angry about it! There are good reasons for this. There is, however, also another reaction pattern: mercy. What is it about?
How to react? …
Let us study a situation where King David, the great king of Israel, took Bathsheba as wife, the wife of Uriah, one of his soldiers. The prophet Nathan came after him to address the evil in his actions. Here is a Psalm about the situation: ... more
Thursday, Feb 14, 2019. What is worth doing? What is of value? What is the driving force of ethics? Sometimes we believe that negation of all values is a modern idea. But it is not. If we look back 3000 years ago, we find basic thoughts already in the Old Testament books, the book Ecclesiastes, the preacher Salomon.
Catching the Wind …
Take some time to read the book where the preacher Solomon writes about life. Here is a passage from its beginning: ... more
Wednesday, Feb 13, 2019. What is prayer? How does prayer work? How to pray? How often to pray? What to say? What to expect? Who is there to be addressed in prayer? What to hear? How to hear? There are a lot of good questions when it comes to prayer - to the communication with God. Prayer is the word we use to talk about this communication.
Two-Way Communication …
Prayer is a two-way communication. You want to speak to God and tell him your points, your feelings, your needs, your requests. Indeed, God wants to hear from you. He wants you to pray. Jesus himself gives us templates for prayer, which contain several important elements. But you also want to listen. You want to listen to God talking to you - usually not by hearing voices. No, God talks in different ways. ... more
Tuesday, Feb 12, 2019. What is it that makes life worthwhile? We all have many things around us which are fantastic. We all know to enjoy food, or community, or sports, or work. There is art, music, beauty. Life is full of fantastic nature, of amazing technology, of culture, theatre, funny stuff, animals, plants, leisure … so much to enjoy! What is making life worthwhile?
We all know that we need to eat to live. Without eating, we cannot survive for long. Without bread or something like it, we cannot live. Jesus is using the image of bread to talk about his own role. In the gospel of John he says: ... more
Monday, Feb 11, 2019. Last summer was quite dry in Europe. We had three months of high temperatures and nearly no rain in the center of the continent. All meadows became yellow-ish. The grass withered, with a lot of consequences which you can still see today, after half a year.
The bible compares human life with grass and flowers. They look green now, but they might wither tomorrow. They look pretty for some days, but then they are gone. What is lasting? What is it that has a future? The fugacity of life is well known to all of us, though we might ignore it for most of our life. ... more
Friday, Feb 8, 2019. What is mankind? What is man? We should know ourselves, we are men and women, we live as humans. We should know! Yet, we strive ourselves to get to know. Sometimes we seem to know. People have ideas about how community works. They have ideas on how to deal with others. Usually, it only works for a very limited time. Or it does not work at all. We seem to be different from our philosophies, our ideas. But who are we? How do we find out?
Reading the biblical stories, we hear about far reaching events. The flood of Noah, for example. With the text from Genesis 8 today we jump into the end of the flood story, when Noah and his family alone survive and inherit the earth, approximately 4500 years ago. There are several exciting things to take up from this story! ... more
Thursday, Feb 7, 2019. As humans we are very concerned about glory. When you watch the evening news, you find reports on the latest winners of the olympics, or the European chapionships. You find news about the latest economic indices and which party is winning in the opinion polls. Much of the media is concerned with talking about people, about their glory, about failure and achievements - which might only be topped by news about catastrophy and war.
God's Glory …
Before we discuss the question of “glory” further, let us look into the following song, from the book of Psalms, one of the famous biblical books. It is about glory as well - but about God's glory. ... more
Wednesday, Feb 6, 2019. The book of Jeremia is one of the tree great prophetic books of the Old Testament. Jeremia's ministry was active between about 626 and 587 before Christ. The book is full of faith, it reflects the struggle of God with his people, the people of Israel.
We hear a lot of detail about the life of Jeremia from the book. Today, let us have a look at the beginning, when Jeremia was called to be a prophet.
I Formed You …
Let us read from Jeremia 1. After some introductory words to the ministry of Jeremia, giving the framework of his lifetime by relating it to the kings of his time, here we are taken to the beginning of the phrophetic work of Jeremia. ... more
Tuesday, Feb 5, 2019. Films about lover's grief are everywhere. In modern times we share the excitement of falling in love. Love is one of the ingredients which cannot be left out in any film which wants to be popular and successful. We all know what happens when love is not returned, when she wants love, but he is not willing to give love, or the other way around. We all know the feeling when “she broke my heart” or “he broke my heart”.
Today, we come to this phrase in a slightly different framework: when it comes to God. Here, the broken heart is addressed in the framework of our relationship to God, the creator, the center of the universe.
Contrite Heart …
In Psalm 51 we hear King David speak about his relationship to God. He talks about his heart, about his spirit, about turning to God and about the restoration of the relationship. Let us read a little: ... more
Monday, Feb 4, 2019. Sometimes we realize that we need to turn around on our path. Sometimes we realize that we need to change our behaviour. Some change is needed even for our heart, for what we think, what we want, for our dreams and goals. What is it to be changed? What is it for you? Where do realize that you are not on a good path?
It is important to be self-critical. It is important to be willing to see where you could do better - or even where you are completely on the wrong track. In Psalm 51, the song writer asks for a clean heart, for a willing spirit, that is a spirit which wants to be shaped and filled by the holy Lord: ... more
Friday, Feb 1, 2019. Two weeks ago I attended a Christian service in a very young and dynamic church in Kobe, Japan. I arrived a day before for a conference, which took place there at the local supercomputing center. So I looked in the internet and found a worship service for Sunday 10am, and I dropped in there to join the congregation. There were many young people, students and people with small kids - in a very exciting atmosphere. It was 20 minutes of worship and dance, then some dedication of two kids, sermon, prayer, vision day for 2019 and much more.
Community without Limits …
When it comes to Christian community, it is a community without the limits and boundaries of nation or origin. In Jesus Christ, we are one people. We are his, and our origin or language or the way we have been shaped before is no longer important. What is important is that HE shapes us now! ... more
Thursday, Jan 31, 2019. Let us discuss one point today. In our text from the letter of Colossians yesterday it was claimed that in Christ there are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge. What does it mean? In what sense is it true? What are the consequences for us personally? What are these treasures of wisdom, what treasures of knowledge? In what way does it link into modern science and knowledge? How does it relate to our personal life?
Let us recall the text, where the apostle Paul writes about his struggle and about God himself: ... more
Wednesday, Jan 30, 2019. In the New Testament, there are many words about love, about peace and the way to live together in a peaceful way. At the same time, there is a lot of struggle in the letters of the apostles as well as in the gospels. Not all is well in the Jewish community. And not all is well in the early Christian church. So there is struggle by those who are called to lead the church deeper into faith.
Deeper into faith …
Paul is writing to the church. Let us listen for a moment, and then put his words into a perspective which includes us today. ... more
Tuesday, Jan 29, 2019. As Christians, we are called to walk in Christ. But what does it mean? Do we understand? Do we do it? Do we know what it means? We can read a lot about Jesus in the gospels and letters of the New Testament. We can read a lot about faith in the whole bible. It is a book full of inspiration, full of wisdom, full of truth, love, joy and encouragement.
In the letter to the Colossians we are called to walk in Christ. Let us read the original passage: ... more
Monday, Jan 28, 2019. Where to find God? The apostle Paul points us to Jesus himself. What was his main goal and message? Paul points us to the reconciliation which comes through the cross of Christ Jesus. What does it have to do with me? Paul talks about our alienation from God, and about the salvation which we find in Jesus, when we get back into a relationship of truth and love with the creator.
In the New Testament letter of Colossians we find a passage which summarizes core parts of Christian faith. Let us read it together and then discuss and understand the statements. The apostle Paul writes to the Church in Collossae: ... more
Wednesday, Jan 23, 2019. How can you know about God? How can you listen to him? Is it possible at all? Many people today think you cannot know much about God. And many think that you cannot listen to God. And indeed: how can you listen? Is God talking to you? How could he be talking?
The idea of many people today is that there is no God, and all people who believe are following some strange old myths or ideas which help them to cope with the problems of life. There are many others, though, who have learned about God when they grew up. What you have learned depends on where you have grown up. Of course, there are many religions today and people get to know some ideas from their social environment, from schools (public or for example Koranic schools). Let us look at some possible answers from different sources … ... more
Monday, Jan 21, 2019. Do you have enemies? Do we all have enemies? Who is your enemy? It is quite some important question. In the past, the French and the British were enemies. Or the French and the Germans. Or the Germans and the British. Then, they became friends, after the desaster of the Second World War. A new chapter was opened. But before that, clearly there were people fighting each other, to death!
It is good to know who is working against you, who is your enemy, who is not honest towards you. I must say that I had to learn that deliberate lies against other people are something people really use and practice, even in the middle of a civilized environment. We call it evil if people behave like that - and this kind of evil might happen in the middle of the best families … ... more
Sunday, Jan 20, 2019. Do you want to be rich? Do you want to be well set with your life and your environment? Do you want to live in a country where milk and honey flow? Yes, you will probably say. Yes, it would be good not to have to fight for the basic things in life day by day, but to be well set, to be prosperous, to be rich and to have all what is needed - and a little bit more.
It is very exciting - this phrase of a “land, where milk and honey flows” comes from the book of Exodus, the second book of the bible. What is the framework in which this phrase is used?
Out of Slavery …
The people of Israel have been in slavery for many years. They have been in Egypt. And now God is talking to Moses at the burning bush. He is promising to free his people, and to bring them into a land where they have plenty. It is adressing the needs we talked about. It is about the desire to be save and in a neighborhood where all is well. Let us look into this passage, the following part formulates the promise a second time: ... more
Wednesday, Jan 16, 2019. Are you willing to look critically into your own activities? Are you willing to hear what is going really wrong in your life? And are you open to hear what is going really well? Sometimes both things are connected. Sometimes people want to stay secure behind some layer or in some distance. But as a conseqence they cannot accept good feedback nor critical words.
Jesus addressing points …
When you listen to the words of Jesus, you hear both clear blessings, consolation and encouragement, but you can find also quite critical and even hard words. Both of them are formulated in a breathtaking and very clear way, in particular in the “Sermon on the Mount”: ... more