Mittwoch, 27. April 2011

… thoughts on Zephaniah … by Chriss

Wow what beginning of this minor Prophet:

Chapter 1:2-6

"I will utterly consume everything From the face of the land," Says the LORD; "I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, The fish of the sea, And the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land," Says the LORD.

"I will stretch out My hand against Judah, And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, The names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests––

Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; Those who worship and swear oaths by the LORD, But who also swear by Milcom;

Those who have turned back from following the LORD, And have not sought the LORD, nor inquired of Him."

One could also put it: God is really angry right here!

How little do we turn our focus to this side of our loving God and Father…

How seldom do we think about God’s justice and his standard of righteousness…

Oh, how we avoid this reality of our Lord, simply because we are scared and have difficulties connecting the God who, out of love, sent his son to die for us with his attributes of wrath that he has to bring if he truly is righteous!

Why is that?

I believe there are many reasons, but two main areas that drive us to avoid meditating on these aspects of our Lord:

Our lack of knowledge about who our God really is! (let me explain)

And secondly our reluctance to give up the sin that so easily entangles us, and that we ultimately enjoy more than loving our Lord.

According to Jesus we love Him if we obey Him and do what is right (John 14:15+21…).

So we really have to face the reality that if we avoid God character of righteousness and judgment out of fear, that’s when we actually love our self and our sin more than our Savior!

But love drives out fear! (1.John 4:18)

The only other reason to avoid Gods attributes of jealousy (Exodus 20:5, 34:14, Deuteronomy 4:24…) that result in God’s chastisement of His loved ones is that we don’t know Him!

We claim to know Him, but we only think and speak about his promises and his faithfulness to meet our needs as we think it’s best. And if he doesn’t comply we ask if our faith is lacking or we are in sin that God might not do what we want Him to…

But if we knew God, we would always praise Him for anything that he allows in our lives, because He truly knows what is best!

He has the right to be jealous and angry with us!

If not, than just look at your life this last week and look at all the times you failed the one who took three nails for you to lead you into a new life.

He is always right!

And especially when he is angry and ready to bring judgment! Because it’s only the mercies of God that we are actually not consumed by now (Lamentations 3:22).

So when he starts of here in Zephaniah with:

I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, The fish of the sea, And the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land," Says the LORD.

Those who have turned back from following the LORD, And have not sought the LORD, nor inquired of Him."

But there is something about God that we rest upon!

Something that is what keeps us alive!

Something that reached it climax on the cross in His Son Jesus Christ:

God’s endless mercies and His continual never ending readiness to turn from his anger to bring peace if we repent!

Just like with Jonah and Nineveh we see it here with the Prophet Zephaniah:

Verses 1- 3 of chapter 2

Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation,

Before the decree is issued, Or the day passes like chaff, Before the LORD’S fierce anger comes upon you, Before the day of the LORD’S anger comes upon you!

Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the LORD’S anger.

There is always the “mercy option” for the repentant heart!

So I call out to you:

Realize the anger of God against you!

Know, that your God who gave his life for you is jealous for you and will not share you with the sin you love more than you love Him!

He is waiting for you to return to him, to turn from your wicked ways to lavish His mercy upon you!

But if you don’t then be assured that God loves you too much to not just let you go – you who you call your self a follower of Christ!

So is it fear, or lack of knowledge of God that keeps you from trusting God?

What ever it is, leave your sin and turn because God will forgive, but He will also punish the one he loves!

Hebrews 12:6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.

But just to make sure we don’t misunderstand:

Jesus died for your sins! We will not and never experience the eternal punishment we actually deserve for our sinfulness, because Christ died and paid it all!

But the love of your father will not allow you to run from His blessings and that is why he will “chasten” you, to bring you back to Him!

So hear the call of the Prophet and turn:

Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation,

Before the decree is issued, Or the day passes like chaff, Before the LORD’S fierce anger comes upon you, Before the day of the LORD’S anger comes upon you!

Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the LORD’S anger.

Montag, 25. April 2011

thoughts... by chriss

I was reading Habakuk this morning...
verse 1 of chapter 2:
I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected.
in chapter one Habakuk has called out to God for justice, for peace...
He has called out to God against their enemies...
he has made is requests known to God...

and now what does he do?
just walks away to continue with his life?
not even expecting an answer?

Well this is what we would do - right?
We just come to go tell him all our troubles and walk off...
continue with life...
hope maybe something might happen if I try a little harder...
or maybe just readjust my view on life a little:
a little more into the direction of: "God is love and great, but too busy for me! not really interested in me..."
and my trust in my heavenly father is being reduced even some more...

But what if we just like the prophet, come to a place where we wait and watch to receive the answer?
What would happen if we would slow down to even a total halt to wait on God?
To hear from Him, what he might have to say...

And what would happen if I even came with this same humility to even have God correct me if I had a wrong perception of my situation?
Just consider that I might be flat out wrong...

Oh how our Lord would be able to speak and answer!
Oh much more we would be changed!
Oh how much more we would actually grow into the image of our Lord (Rom 8:29)

And what else would happen to us?
We would trust God more!
We would be able to see him more as who He is!
Because we would see his answer... maybe not the answer we anticipated, but as we have come humbly, knowing that God as the better answer for us any time for anything!
Oh how the depth of our relationship to our everlasting father and our eternal God would grow...

But we need to wait on Him!
just as the last verse in that chapter asks of us:
But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.
this silence will be our rest as we wait on our Lord!

so when you ask him, wait for the answer...
go to the place where you can best wait and he can best speak!

Sonntag, 10. April 2011

where's your treasure

Jesus lehrte eine Art Gesetz der Aufmerksamkeit: "Wo dein Schatz ist, dort wird auch dein Herz sein." Er sagt, das dein Herz allem hinterherlaufen wird, was du schätzt, oder worauf du deine Aufmerksamkeit lenkst. Diese Dinge wirst du begehren. Dieses Prinzip zu verstehen kann dein Leben verändern.
Lasst mich ein Beispiel geben: Bist du jemals monatelang durchs Leben gegangen, ohne auch nur einen Gedanken an ein neues Auto zu veschwenden. Plötzlich kommst du dann an einem neuen Autohändler vorbei und schaust dir den Laden an. Du setzt dich in ein blitzeblankes nagelneues Auto. Alles ist so neu und makellos. Dieser einzigartige Geruch, den neue Autos an sich haben, steigt in deine Nase. Du nimmst das Lenkrad in die Hand und dein Herz beginnt zu rasen, beim Gedanken, diese wunderbare Maschine zu besitzen. Plötlich, tief in dir drinnen, erwacht das Verlangen- diese Last: Kauf dieses Auto!
Aber lass dich nicht täuschen. Dein Herz folgt einfach dem, worauf du dich konzentrierst. Dein Herz folgt dir dahin, wo du deine Aufmerksamkeit hinlenkst. Wenn dein Augenmerk auf Gott gerichtet ist und auf seinem Königreich, dann wird sein Verlangen zu deinem werden. Wenn du deine Aufmerksamkeit auf etwas verbotenes lenkst, dann wirst du danach verlangen. Denn wo dein Schatz ist, dort wird auch dein Herz sein.
(aus Mark Gungor: Laugh your way to a better marriage)


Jesus taught a kind of law of attention: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." He is saying that anything you treasure, or pay attention to, your heart will run after- you will desire it. Understanding this principle will radically change your life.
Let me give you an example: Did you ever go for months without even thinking about purchasing a new car and then happen by a new car lot? You step into the showroom and sit in one of the shiny new vehicles. Everything is new and perfect. That new- car- smells fills your nostrils. You grip the new steering wheel and your heart begins to race at the thought of owning this wonder machine. Suddenly, leaping from within you comes this desire- this burden: Buy this new car.
But don´t be fooled. Your heart simply follows whatever you focus on- or pay attention to. If your focus is on God and the kingdom of God, His desires will become yours. If you focus on something forbidden, you will desire that thing. For where your treasure is, your heart will be also.
(from Mark Gungor: Laugh your way to a better marriage)

Mittwoch, 6. April 2011

was uns bewegt....

english below

hey Leute,
da in Deutschland ja jetzt auch der Frühling eingekehrt ist, darf ich ohne schlechtes Gewissen schreiben, dass ich gerade vor unsrer Scheune sitze und die frische Luft und das Rauschen der Bäume geniesse. Wir sind so dankbar für diesen Ort des Friedens, an dem wir hier wohnen (ausser wenn man Nachts von fiesen Opposums attackiert wird, wie Chriss neulich).
Nun sind es nur noch 3 Monate bis wir zurück in Deutschland sind. Das wird ein Fest, euch alle wieder zu sehen!
Letzten Samstag haben wir zum ersten Mal als Gemeinde das Obdachlosen- lunch geleitet. Ca. 40 Leute haben mitgemacht und wir haben 150 Mahlzeiten rausgegeben. Für viele ware es der erste intensivere Kontakt mit Obdachlosen. Umso begeisterter waren die Leute nachher, nachdem sie die ersten Berührungsängste überwunden hatten.
Im Wohnheim für HIV- positive Frauen hat mich ein Erlebnis ganz besonders berührt. Glenna (Name geändert) war seit einigen Wochen schwer depressiv, sie hatte wieder angefangen Drogen zu nehmen, und schien hoffnungslos und resigniert mit ihrer Situation. An einem Morgen, an dem es ihr besonders schlecht ging, lasen wir gemeinsam "Psalm 23". Es lag mir auf dem Herzen, ihr zu sagen, dass Gott nicht wütend auf sie ist, dass ER ihr keine Vorwürfe macht, weil sie so tief unten ist, dass sie sich nicht schuldig fühlen soll für ihren Zustand. Eine Woche später betraten wir das Wohnheim und trauten unsren Augen nicht. Glenna sah aus wie ein neuer Mensch. Sie war voller Leben und Begeisterung und konnte gar nicht abwarten zu erzählen, wofür sie in dieser Woche dankbar ist. Sie erzählte voller Freude, dass sie begriffen hat, dass Gott nicht wütend auf sie ist und sie trotz ihres Zustandes lieb hat. Diese Einsicht hat für sie den ganzen Unterschied gemacht.
Momentan arbeiten wir daran, für alle Dienste, die wir hier angefangen haben, Menschen zu finden, die die Vision weitertragen. Wir beten, dass die verschiedenen Dienste weiterbestehen können, wenn wir im Juli gehen.
Wir haben ja schon öfter von Bethel Ranch berichtet, einem Grundstück mit derzeit 2 (bald 3) Wohnhäusern für Pflegekinder. Es ist so schön zu sehen, wie viele Menschen diese Pflegekinder in der Zwischenzeit auf dem Herzen haben und ihnen auf so vielfältige Art und Weise zur Seite stehen. Die Jugendgruppe der Gemeinde geht jeden 2. Sonntag Im Monat zu Bethel Ranch, um mit den Jugendlichen vor Ort zu spielen (Baseball, Football, Basketball). Um Bethel Ranch machen wir uns also für die Zukunft keine Sorgen.
Unser grösstes Anliegen ist derzeit das Mittagessen für die Obdachlosen und das Wochenendprogramm für Pflegekinder. Diese beiden Dienste gut zu übergeben, ist ein grosser Schritt, der noch vor uns steht.
Privat geht es uns sehr gut. Jenna Mae übt intensiv an ihrer Aussprache und macht auch grosse Fortschritte. Dafür sind wir sehr dankbar.
Für die Paare unter euch: Chriss und ich lesen gerade ein Buch zusammen, bei dem wir sehr viel lachen können und das uns schon einige wertvolle Tips gegeben hat: Laugh your way to a better marriage von Mark Gungor. Sehr empfehlenswert!
Sonnige Grüsse
die Kleinlohs

dear people,
as i am writting this i am sitting on our porch, enjoying the texan fresh spring air and the sound of the trees in the wind. We are so very thankful for this peaceful place we are living at (except when some weirdo possums attack us in the middle of the night as they did with Chriss recently). Now we have only 3 months left here until we have to go back to good ol´Germany.
Last saturday was the first time for us as a church to lead the homeless lunch. About 40 people were helping with it and we distributed around 150 meals. For many of us it was the first closer contact to homeless people. It was exciting to see how people lost their insecurities after a while and starting to interact with each others.
One incident in the home for HIV positve ladies had a lasting impression on me. Glenna (name changed had been depressed and hopeless for the last few weeks. She had started taking drugs again and was just so fed up with herself and her situation. On a morning, where she was doing really bad, we read "Psalm 23" together. God put it on my heart to tell her that he is not mad at her and that he is not reproaching her for she situation she is in and that she should not feel guilty about the fact, that her soul is crushed. A week later we could hardly believe our eyes when we entered the home. Glenna looked so alive, so joyful. She could hardly wait to tell everybody about her week. As it was her turn to speak, she told us that she got so strucked by the truth that God is not angry at her and lover her despite the situation she is in. This revelation made all the difference for her.
At the moment we are trying to find new leaders for all the ministries we lead up to now. Our prayer is that those ministries will continue as we are leaving in July.
We told you about Bethel Ranch before. It is a Ranch with 2 fosterhomes (soon to be 3). It is very exciting for us to see how many people have it on their hearts to support those Kids in various ways. The youth group from our church goes there every second Sunday afternoons to play the older Boys (soccer, basketball, baseball). So we are not concerned about the continuing ministries at Bethel Ranch.
Our biggest concern is the lunch for the homeless and the fosterkidsplaydate. We pray to find enough people to carry on these visions and ministries.
Personally, we are doing fine. Jenna is diligently working on her speech and we are making progress. This is something we are really thankful for.
All you couples: Chriss and me are reading a book right now that makes us laugh a lot and learn a lot. Check it out: Laugh your way to a better marriage by Mark Gungor.
God bless