Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Our attitude towards sickness and healing

Here are some thoughts, jotted down after listening to a teaching by Bill Johnson on unanswered prayer. I hope you will find some encouragement and/or some food for thought and further reflection. God bless!

  • "If you just had enough faith, you would be healed!" This is not a cruel thing to say to somebody who is sick (even though it certainly can come across in a condemning way), but it is throwing them a life-line, pointing them to the only solution to their problem. It is actually cruel not to tell them that they should have faith for their healing!
  • The opposite of "a little faith" is not GREAT faith, but NO faith! Jesus said that with faith as small as a mustard seed we could move mountains – no "great" faith required even for such a monumental task. Jesus also simply asked whether He will find "faith" on the earth when He returns – again no "great" faith required or expected. Similarly, Jesus asked the disciples after He stilled the storm WHERE their faith was. He did not rebuke them for not having "enough" faith, but simply made it clear to them that their faith was in the wrong thing (i.e. in their own ability top maneuver through the rough sea, in this case).
  • "Complacency and ignorance tolerate unanswered prayers." Bills Johnson
  • Accepting sickness in our lives somehow seems to be easier than believing God for healing, as you will not be disappointed (you cannot be disappointed if you didn't really expect to get anything in the first place), but it simply does not glorify God.
  • If we pray for somebody to be healed, but doubt that God wants to heal that person, we are actually saying that we have more compassion for that person than God, but that is impossible. That makes me think that God wants to heal me more than I want to be healed myself!
  • If we expect to be healed because of some kind of merit from our side, we are doomed. God is our Father, and as such we do not have to and we cannot do anything to earn His favor. He heals us because He loves us.
  • I want to be healed so that my life glorifies God. It's a sad, man-made theology that says God would be glorified when we accept sickness because He wants to teach us something or build character in us. Jesus never told that to ANYBODY who came to Him for healing!
  • Rather than shaking or being bedridden or being dependent on medicine, I am convinced it glorifies God much more when I am hiking through the mountains, enjoying His creation while snorkeling off the coast of the Cayman Islands, riding a bicycle to a waterfall around Chiang Rai, or playing football, being fully alive FOR Him, IN Him and together WITH Him.
  • I do not want to be healed merely so that I can SERVE God better, but to ENJOY Him more (even though it will certainly be much more fun to preach, teach, drive busses, clean stuff or do whatever, rather than being miserable, unable to do anything. Jesus did not die on the cross because the Father needed servants… He wanted CHILDREN J
  • God wants us to pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. There is no sickness in heaven, thus to "seek His Kingdom" here on earth entails for people to be healthy and whole.
  • 2. Timothy 3:12 says that everybody who wants to lead a godly life will suffer PERSECUTION, not sickness.
  • I do not want to accuse God ("You don't want to heal me") and neither do I want to blame myself ("I deserve to be sick") but I am guilty of self-pity, believing that I have to convince God of how miserable my situation is – as if He had not noticed.
  • Healing was God's idea, not ours.
  • Mt 6:33 ("Seek first His Kingdom"): We should never make our needs the primary focus of our prayers, even though it is absolutely legitimate to pray for our "daily bread" – instead, we should always be praying for what is on HIS heart.
  • "Answers to prayer reveal God" – we need to pray for more than one thing at any given time, not to focus on just one issue. The breakthrough in one area will give us the hope and perseverance to see breakthroughs in other areas.
  • Some things God does not give to soldiers / fighters, but only to sons and daughters. This point seems to be the easiest one, but often turns out to be the hardest, because we grow up being taught that we only get what we deserve…
  • Just in case you were wondering: No, I am not a parrot. God created me to be a son, made in His image, not a parrot who just says what we think He wants to hear…

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Gospel

                                  Deutsch    ภาษาไทย
I don't know how the gospel was presented to you, but I am convinced that Jesus will not come into anybody's life as a guest. He will either enter as Lord or He will remain outside. God opened my eyes to this reality on what began as a normal Friday in February 1989.
I had driven about 3 hours to the city of Muenster, Germany. While driving, my friend and I listened to a teaching tape by Wilhelm Pahls, a German evangelist. I had never heard a man speaking so passionately about bringing people to Jesus, never before and hardly ever since. I knew that the things he said were true, and it was as if he spoke directly to me. Every word pierced my heart. Without having a scientific proof for it, I knew that the Bible was God's word. I had no defense, no reason not to accept what Jesus had done for me and that He now wanted to come into my life as Savior and Lord. After we finished listening to the tape, I had maybe the most terrible two hours of my life. We went to visit my friend's girlfriend in a hospital, but I could not participate in the unfolding conversation whatsoever. There was a war going on inside of me! A part of me wanted what Jesus was offering, another part of me wanted to stay in control of my life, and reasoned against it. And one of the main reasons why I hesitated was that I knew I could never have the kind of sex I desired if I really followed Jesus.
I finally found a reason to leave the room and went back to the parking lot. I could not look into anybody's face and everything seemed to be dark and gray around me. I arrived at the car, but instead of getting my guitar out of the trunk I sat down in the driver's seat and prayed.
I do not remember what exact words I used when I prayed, but when I opened my eyes, the world looked different. Everything dark and gray was gone. I got out of the car and I recognized trees, people, LIFE! I literally saw the world with new eyes! I read later in 2. Corinthians 5:17 that those who are in Christ are a new creation, and I sure felt like that!

From my book "Tempted, But Holy!" You can purchase the book from Amazon and other online bookstores or directly from me here!

Friday, February 10, 2017

God's sovereignty in natural disasters, accidents and terrorist attacks - A short study

Tsunami warning sign in Phang Nga, Thailand

Tsunamis, floods, storms, earthquakes... do those kind of disasters just happen? Are they God's judgments? 
A common answer from Christians is that God certainly did not cause these disasters, but that he is grieved by the destruction they cause, the lives that were taken, etc. I want to suggest 6 reasons why this kind of thinking stands on very shaky ground, and does not align with what the Bible reveals about God's character. 
The ultimate question is whether anything seemingly bad can be caused by God. He might have reasons that we don't understand, but I don't think that "God allows disasters, but didn't want them to happen" is a very smart answer. Indeed, it's an unbiblical answer. 

If God is not causing (for whatever reason) natural disasters like tsunamis, floods, fires, earthquakes, etc., what would be his role? Just by common sense and, yes, logic, I see 6 options: 

a) He is not able to prevent them from happening (which would mean he is not all-powerful (but all Christians hold that he is all-powerful)

b) He is not willing to prevent them from happening (and thus protect the innocent and the children); a person who was able to prevent a disaster/crime/accident, but didn't do anything can be held responsible (at least in a German court)! 

c) He didn't see them coming/was surprised by them; that would mean he is not all-knowing (but of course all believers hold that God is all-knowing)

d) He knew it would happen, but didn't warn at least his people, so they could evacuate the innocent & children 

e) He simply doesn't care what's happening (but every true believer knows that God is interested even in the smallest detail of our lives - even the hair on our head is numbered…)

f) God is not in control - either Satan or men is, and God has to allow things that he doesn’t want to happen (this seems to be the politically correct answer in modern day evangelicalism, but it does not stand a Biblical test, neither does it solve the above mentioned concerns) 

g) ________________________________(please let me know if you have another thought) 

Any of the above mentioned options make God look to me like a toothless grandpa who would love to see everything being peace, joy and pancakes, but can’t quite muster the strength to really do anything of significance, and who retreats therefore to crying and weeping. The Bible, however, speaks of an all-powerful God, before, during and after the cross, who does whatever he wants and whom nobody can resist…

Job said that he would worship/trust/hope in God "though he slay me" (Job 13:15). And in Job 2:10 Job says ""Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.""

Isaiah 45:7 "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things." 

Psalm 105:7 “He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.”

Revelation 16:7 "Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments."

Saying all that does not mean that every natural disaster is God's judgment. Thailand frequently sees major mudslides destroying villages, and most of them indeed can be blamed on forest encroachment and following erosion. In some cases we can therefore speak of man-made disasters. But a tsunami that kills hundreds of thousands of people is definitely not man-made. The options are thus that natural disasters are either caused by God himself, or that he at least allows Satan or “nature” to cause them, for whatever reason. In the Old as well as in the New Testament are many examples of natural disasters being directly caused by God. Many times children were killed together with their parents, who had sinned (e.g. Numbers 16).

Now some point out that Korah’s rebellion, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the flood were before the cross, and that now nobody has to be afraid of being judged by God, because all punishment was laid upon Jesus on the cross. That is a very good argument, but even after the cross we read about God pouring out his wrath, especially in the book of Revelation. Only in Jesus are we saved from God’s judgment. Those who do not believe in Jesus remain under God’s wrath, in spite of the cross (John 3:36)! But just as God was able to safe whomever he wanted through the flood in Noah’s days, or from the plagues in Egypt, God is able to protect whomever he wants from natural disasters, accidents and terrorist attacks in our time. Therefore, I am not afraid that I will die in a freak accident, unless it’s by God’s appointment. He will fulfill his purpose for me (Psalm 138:8), and no devil and no earthquake will be able to remove me from this planet before God’s purposes have been fulfilled in my life. That’s my strong conviction and confidence!

God is able to safe! But if he chooses not do that, he will have reasons. And I tend to think that God is not merely interested in displaying his awesome power, making man realize how powerless he is, in spite of internet, bank accounts, nuclear bombs and international space stations. God might sometimes really use disasters as judgment and as call for repentance. And then it’s even more tragic when man does not respond by humbling himself and repent! I would say that the USA completely missed the boat in the aftermath of 9/11. While there are many great, god-fearing people in America, who really love God with all their hearts, the overwhelming majority of Americans pay nothing but lip-service to God or even openly oppose godliness on every level. Now the very symbols of the things that most Americans (and other Westerners) really trust in were attacked on 9/11: The World Trade Center was the symbol for economy (banking, trading, insurance, money) and the Pentagon obviously is the symbol for military might. A godly response would have been one of humility and repentance, but America responded in pride, and put even more trust in the economy and in the military. This led to two disastrous military campaigns (Iraq and Afghanistan) and the global financial crisis in 2008.

So, if you think that God never judges anything in our days, you better think twice… you might ignore the very thing that God is using to shake up people’s consciences, and you might just put a band-aid on wounds that will lead to certain death and eternal separation from God if not treated rightly!

For further reading I recommend John Piper’s book “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God”, which you can download for free at http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/onlinebooks/bytitle/2439_Suffering_and_the_Sovereignty_of_God/

* Before about 200.000 people were killed by the tsunami in 2004 in Banda-Aceh (Indonesia) there were no churches in the region; now there are 26… so in some ways the tsunami opened the doors not only for emergency relief teams, but also for the gospel! 

Marks of a disciple

The following is a (non-exhaustive) list of attributes that mark a disciple of Jesus Christ.

A disciple...
  • follows Jesus
  • wants to be discipled (!)
  • is faithful
  • loves people
  • is not only interested in him-/herself
  • cares for others
  • is concerned about other people’s salvation
    (if you are not concerned about this, you are most likely not saved yourself!)
  • is interested in world-evangelization
  • is a giver, not just a taker
  • is obedient
  • knows he/she is forgiven
  • has assurance of salvation
  • is marked with the blood of the lamb
  • is a sheep
  • is chosen (not just called)
  • loves Jesus
  • knows God
  • honors and treasures the Scriptures
  • disciples others

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Facing temptation

The Bible leaves no room for doubt: Practicing homosexuality is sin. So how could God possibly redeem same-sex attraction? I am convinced that same-sex attraction is a gift, rather than a curse. But, like every gift that God has given, we can either use it for good, according to God's purpose and for his glory; or we can use it for our own, selfish and, in the long-run, harmful purposes according to the lies of the enemy. So the answer to our question is actually rather simple: God wants people, who feel attracted to their own gender, to love people of their own gender with His love. What God created to be an expression of his own father-heart, Satan wants to pervert and reduce to a sexual level, just as he is trying to reduce the love between a man and a woman to a mere sexual experience. Most Christians are aware that the relationship between a married couple is supposed to be much more than just a god-sanctioned boundary for sex, but a picture and a reflection of Christ's love for his bride, the church. In a similar way, God intended the love between two men to be an expression and a demonstration of the love of God the Father for his Son, Jesus. The sexual confusion of our days, which is really nothing new, but has existed since biblical times (see Sodom and Gomorrah), shows how far the enemy has succeeded in deceiving mankind to believe his lies.

When Adam and Eve tasted the forbidden fruit, they found it had not only looked delicious, but it actually was. To this day, there is some kind of pleasure in sin – that is why it is so attractive to us. But not only are there negative long-term consequences of sin, but the rewards of trusting and obeying God's instructions far outweigh the pleasures of sin. Adam and Eve were not scolded for thinking that the fruit was delicious, but because they did not believe God that it would be better for them if they abstained from eating it. That is the nature of all temptation: it promises us some kind of gratification, but it covers up the fact that it will not really satisfy our deeper need. And this need is the presence of God, His blessing, His glory and His delight in us. So don't be afraid if you face temptation, because you have the opportunity to get one step closer to what you are really looking for – if you resist the temptation! Giving in, on the other hand, will take you one step further away from the One who is the only one who can fulfill your deepest desires. If you know that you have not really found what you are looking for, and many of you do know that, then don't despair but simply turn to Jesus, repent and start to follow him. He is waiting to fulfill your greatest dreams and longings. He wants to give you life, abundant life, a hope and a future. Come now and taste and see that the Lord is good!
Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, November 22, 2015


   "Alle Flüsse münden im Meer." So heißt es in einem Sprichwort, das ich oft höre, wenn ich in Thailand mit Menschen über ihren Glauben spreche. Gemeint ist damit, dass doch letztlich alle Religionen zum selben Ziel führen. Hört sich toll an, oder? Wenn das so wäre, dann wäre in der Tat alle Mission hinfällig, und Jesus hätte sich die Erteilung des Missionsbefehls ("Gehet hin in alle Welt und predigt das Evangelium aller Kreatur") eigentlich sparen können. Hat er aber nicht. Er erhob den Anspruch, der einzige Weg zum Vater zu sein, und dass niemand zu Gott kommen könnte als alleine durch ihn. Es ist im Übrigen auch gar nicht wahr, dass alle Flüsse im Meer münden, denn es gibt einige, die in Wüsten und Steppen versickern oder in einem See ohne Abfluss enden...
   Alle Religionen haben jedoch in der Tat eines gemeinsam: Sie sind eine Erfindung von Menschen! In Religionen versuchen Menschen die Welt zu erklären und den Menschen zu lehren, wie sie leben sollten. Die Geschichte Gottes mit dem Volk Israel, so wie sie im Alten Testament berichtet wird, ist jedoch der Bericht darüber, wie sich Gott den Menschen offenbart hat. Es ist also genau anders herum: Hier versuchen nicht verschiedene Autoren zu erklären, wie Gott ist, sondern hier erklärt Gott den Menschen wie er ist und wie sie leben sollten. 
   Es ist halt nicht so, dass alle Religionen gleich sind. Pure Logik macht das unmöglich: Wenn eine Religion sagt, es gäbe nur einen Gott, eine andere jedoch lehrt, dass es 300 Millionen Götter gibt (Hinduismus), und eine weitere wiederum behauptet, dass es überhaupt keinen Gott gibt (Buddhismus), so können doch unmöglich alle wahr sein. Nun gibt es ja manche Schlauberger, die ganz gerissen einfach erklären, dass alles wahr sein kann, wenn man es für wahr halten möchte. Ich habe tatsächlich mit Menschen gesprochen, die mir sagten, dass die Gleichung 2+2=5 für mich wahr sein könnte, wenn ich es denn nur glauben möchte. Na, Menschen, die so denken, wünsche ich viel Spaß dabei, die Mathelehrer ihrer Kinder von ihrer "Wahrheit" zu überzeugen! 
   So, wie es mathematische, physikalische und auch historische Wahrheiten gibt, so sollte es uns auch bei den Fragen nach Gott, einem Leben nach dem Tod, Himmel und Hölle und anderen "geistlichen" Dingen eigentlich darum gehen herauszufinden, was denn nun wahr ist. Leider machen sich viele Menschen jedoch nie wirklich auf die Suche nach solchen Wahrheiten, da sie sich von Sätzen wie "Wissen kann man das ja nicht" einschüchtern und abschrecken lassen. Ja, aber wer sagt denn das eigentlich? Die Bibel jedenfalls sagt unter anderem, dass sie geschrieben wurde, damit wir wissen, dass wir ewiges Leben haben. Hiob, ein Mann der unglaubliches erlitten hatte, sagte schon im Alten Testament, dass er weiß, dass sein Erlöser lebt. Und auch ich bin so frei dir zu sagen, dass ich weiß, dass es Gott gibt, dass Jesus von den Toten auferstanden ist, dass meine Sünden vergeben sind und dass ich nach meinem Tod für immer in Gottes Gegenwart im Himmel sein werde. Du hast richtig gelesen: Ich hoffe nicht, dass dies so ist, sondern ich weiß es. 
   Das war nicht immer so, denn bevor mich Gott in seiner Gnade zu sich rief und ich am 10. Februar 1989 auf einem Parkplatz in Münster wiedergeboren wurde, war ich geistlich tot. Ich war zwar als Kind und Jugendlicher in die Kirche gegangen, aber so richtig sicher  war ich mir nicht, ob es Gott denn wirklich geben würde. Dann offenbarte sich Gott mir auf einem Berg in Norwegen, und ein paar Wochen später verstand ich, dass meine Sünden mich noch von diesem Gott trennten. Und seitdem habe ich keine Religion mehr, sondern eine Beziehung zu Gott. Nur geistlich tote Leute können mit Religion zufrieden sein! Leider haben auch die meisten Pfarrer, Priester und Bischöfe in den großen Kirchen lediglich eine Religion, die zwar mit vielen Wahrheiten gespickt ist, die aber gleichzeitig versucht, die Praktizierenden mit Ritualen zufrieden zu stellen. Gott kennen tun sie nicht, und sie wissen dies auch; man muss es ihnen gar nicht beweisen, dass sie von Gott getrennt sind. 
   Wenn eine Religionsgemeinschaft die Wahrheit nicht wirklich gefunden hat, wird sie zwangsläufig etwas hinzufügen müssen, um Menschen bei der Stange zu halten. So entstehen religiöse Systeme, in denen nicht nur viele äußerliche Dinge wie z.B. große religiöse Gebäude, religiöse Gewänder, Zeremonien und auch - nicht zuletzt im evangelikalen und charismatischen Lager(!) - gewandte Redner benutzt werden, die von der Inhaltslosigkeit der Lehre ablenken und Respekt einflössen sollen. Die Verpackung, die jedem Geschmack angepasst werden kann, sieht also sehr attraktiv aus, aber hinter dieser Fassade ist nichts - das Paket ist leer! 
   Die Angst vor Bestrafung hält die meisten Menschen erfolgreich davon ab, die Regeln, die Lehre und die Autoritätspersonen der jeweiligen  Religionsgemeinschaft in Frage zu stellen. Perfekte Liebe jedoch lässt keinen Raum für Angst. Und hier ist der echte Unterschied zwischen der Wahrheit (Jesus) und der Lüge (Religionen): Während Jesus uns befreit und alle Lehre in der Gemeinde das Ziel verfolgt uns zu liebevolleren Menschen zu machen, die sich ihres Wertes, ihrer Berufung und ihrer ewigen Bestimmung gewiss sind, lassen Religionen ihre Gläubigen immer mit einem Gefühl der Ungewissheit zurück, in dem man nur hoffen kann, dass das eigene Leben am Ende irgendwie gut genug war, um in den Himmel zu kommen bzw. man aufhört zu existieren (Buddhismus). 

   Da, wo echte Beziehung mit Jesus gelebt und gelehrt wird, wird man gerne auf religiösen Pomp verzichten. Der geistlich tote Mensch, der von der Bibel auch als "fleischlicher" Mensch bezeichnet wird, ist von Äußerlichkeiten leicht beeindruckt:
  • "Die Tempel sind doch so wunderschön!" 
  • "Der Pastor ist so ein guter Prediger: Er hat 2 Stunden über nur einen Vers gepredigt!"
  • "Diese Religionsgemeinschaft/Kirche existiert schon so lange, die kann doch gar nicht falsch sein!"
  • "Aber dieser bekannte Künstler, Komponist, Politiker, Sportler... ist doch auch ein Moslem/Christ/Freimaurer/Mormone/Scientologie/Buddhist..."
  • "Wir sind Buddhisten/Katholiken/Baptisten/Moslems weil unsere Vorfahren es auch waren" (nach dieser Logik sollten wir eigentlich in Deutschland immer noch Wotan und sonstige germanische Gottheiten anbeten...).
   Ein geistlich lebendiger Mensch wird hinter die Fassade schauen wollen, und fragt immer nach dem Inhalt, anstatt sich von der Verpackung blenden zu lassen. Es wird jedoch immer mehr Aufwand betrieben, Menschen mit immer schickeren Verpackungen von der niedrigen Qualität des eigentlichen Produktes abzulenken. Mir wird das immer deutlich, wenn ich mal wieder ins Kino gehe, und mir den neuesten Actionfilm anschaue: Die Technologie, der Sound, die Spezialeffekte, die Kameraführung... wow, absolut fantastisch und beeindruckend. Aber die Handlung des Films? Die Moral von der Geschichte? Naja, man kann ja nicht alles haben, oder? So wird die Verpackung zum Selbstzweck. 

   Und genauso gehen viele an die Fragen heran, die sich eigentlich jeder normale denkende Mensch irgendwann einmal stellen sollte: Wer bin ich? Warum bin ich hier? Wo gehe ich hin? Gibt es Gott? Was ist Wahrheit? Befriedigen Sie diese Fragen nicht mit geistlichem Fastfood, sondern suchen Sie echte Antworten, bis Sie sie finden. Wer sie gefunden hat, merkt das auch. Wer noch nicht gefunden hat, weiß dies auch. 

   Wenn Sie jetzt unzufrieden sind, weil Sie feststellen, dass Sie zwar eine Religion haben, aber nicht wirklich sicher sind, ob denn dies alles wahr und echt ist, schlage ich Ihnen vor, dass Sie sich direkt an den Herrn Jesus wenden, denn er hat gesagt, dass er niemanden ablehnen wird, der zu ihm kommt. Bekennen Sie ihm Ihre Sünden - Sie überraschen ihn damit nicht, denn er kennt Sie sowieso viel besser als Sie sich selber. Vergeben Sie denen, die Ihnen Unrecht getan haben, gerade auch denen, die Ihnen ihre Religion beibringen wollten. Die meisten haben es gut gemeint! 

   Möge der Herr Ihnen große Gnade schenken und sich Ihnen offenbaren. Ich bin sicher, dass er das tun wird, wenn Sie es ehrlich meinen! 

(Post von 2015, mit leichten Veränderungen im November 2021)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

It's October 31st - Reformation Day!

Click for more pictures of this beautiful exhibition
498 years ago on this day, Martin Luther nailed a paper with 95 theses to a door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany, and thus started what became known as the Reformation. In Luther's day, only real witches and sorcerers thought about "Halloween," because it was (and still is!) the most important day in the lives of all those who knowingly worship Satan. Nowadays, hardly anybody thinks of the events that were so crucial for the forming of protestant churches as we have them today in every country on the planet, while millions even here in Thailand are "celebrating" Halloween. It indeed looks as if darkness has increased. The light of the gospel, that once shined so brightly in Germany has been dimmed by dark forces, and voices that proclaimed eternal truths as clearly as Martin Luther once did, have been widely silenced by political correctness and a spirit of tolerance that tolerates everything except the truths contained in the Scriptures. To bring the gospel back into the country from which it used to go out to all corners of the globe (e.g. through the Moravians), I have started to make plans for a project that I named "Back to Wittenberg." Its goal is to mobilize at least 100 teams from around the world, who would sojourn to Germany in 2017 to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In cooperation with local churches, the teams would preach the gospel on the streets, markets and public squares as well as in schools, churches and other venues all over the country. 
It is time for another Reformation, a Great Awakening in Germany! Please pray for the leadership of YWAM Germany as they will discuss my project proposal next week. Thank you!

Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Paul on Malta

   As I have been reading the Book of Acts recently with the special emphasis on Healing, I was amazed about Paul's experience on Malta, a tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea. Paul, together with all 276 passengers, had just survived a two-week long odyssey through a storm that ended up with the ship breaking apart when it ran aground just off the island. So here is the picture: Paul, like all the other passengers, is tired, cold, wet, hungry and weak after a long fight with the forces of nature. On top of all that, he get's bitten by a poisonous snake, which leaves him quite unimpressed, though, while it certainly made an impression on the locals who expected Paul to die after the snake-bite. But what really got the locals' attention was what happened afterwards:

There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 
Acts 28:7-9

   Do you see that? Paul heals one guy and then "the rest of the sick" on the entire island were healed as well! Wow! Now, as I said, Malta is a small island, today's population is about 400,000. So let's say there were just a few thousand people living on the island in Paul's days, but anyhow, every sick person among them was healed by Paul! I like verse 8, where it says that Paul "after prayer" healed the father of the official. That means he did not pray for the sick, but he healed them. All of them. Not a single sick person stayed behind, and this on an island where they had never heard of Jesus before. People were healed who could not have had any faith in the Lord, simply because they had never heard of him. Praise the Lord: Paul really walked in the fulness of his calling, according to Mark 16:17-18. It looks like Paul spent about 3 months on the island, which gave him plenty of time to preach the gospel and then to teach the young believers. But the church planting strategy that Paul used was to heal people before he told them the gospel... 
   It looks to me that we could still use this strategy today, especially among the unreached. People like Heidi Baker in Africa are doing just that. Of course, some critics say that it doesn't really help the people if they are healed physically, but remain lost in sin. That is true. But, my Bible says that the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Many times I realize that most churches in the Western world are not exactly overflowing with joyful people. We do have a lot of sick people, though, and we have come up with great theological crutches to justify our sickness. It seems to be that the longer an area has been "christianized," the harder the ground for healings to take place, and - going hand-in-hand with that - the less joy there is. I am sure there was lots of joy in Malta's young churches, as there were many grateful people who had received healing. A gratefulness that expressed itself, among others, also through abundant giving to the cause of  missions, by the way (see verse 10).
   I want to dare to expect healing for myself and for others. I am encouraged to go to unreached villages in Thailand and expect God to heal the sick, whether they have heard of Jesus before or not. And, for greater joy in the churches, it might in deed be good to start with healing, rather than teaching all kinds of other things first... :) jtol (just thinking out loudly) :)

Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, March 13, 2015


Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples. Some challenging thoughts to those of us who are claiming to do that.

Whom are we discipling? 
Jesus did not wait for people to apply at his ministry, but he approached his disciples and asked them to follow him. Likewise, we should not wait for people to choose us as their mentor, but we should choose people to follow us!

Requirements in a mentor - disciple relationship
  • Required: The mentor needs to love the person he calls to follow him!
  • Not required: The person called loving the one who calls him. 
In fact, the motive of the person called does not really matter:
  • he might be looking for financial stability and wealth (like Judas)
  • he might be looking for an increased social status (e.g. from fisherman or tax-collector to teacher religious authority)
  • he might be in it for some other personal benefit (like a "Greencard," English language, education,...)
How or why did Jesus choose the 12  apostles? 
Obviously, Jesus prayed before he made his decision. But here are a few characteristics that I found:
  • The natural gifts, talents and abilities of the disciples were not important - on the contrary: God chooses the foolish things!
  • Jesus didn't abandon the disciples when they show certain signs of progress, growth and maturity after a while
  • The only criteria that Jesus seemed to have was that he loved them!
That is good news for us, because Jesus chose us. After 3 years of having been with Jesus, the disciples did not "get" most of the things that Jesus had taught them, but Jesus didn't kick them out of the discipleship training school. How much did we not get yet that  he has been teaching us all along? And how much did the people we disciple not get yet, even though we have been trying to teach them for years?

Remember: The only thing that is required for you to make disciples is that you love them. So keep on loving them. If you haven't really started to make disciples yet, then maybe now is a good time to call somebody you love to follow you. It will mean that you allow that person to be a part of your life, because I cannot see there being a different way of making disciples. That's how the Master did it, and I don't think we have come up with another, better way than that yet.

The goal of discipleship, but not required at the beginning, is to love Jesus. After 3 years of having been with Jesus, Peter can't help but to realize that indeed he loved the one whom he followed. And it is in that very moment, that the Lord releases him to feed his sheep... Before then, Peter had been send out to preach and to heal, but only now, after he realized that he really loved the Lord, was he given the greatest task of all - to make disciples :)

Brothers and sisters in the ministry: Let us delight in this high calling!
May the peace and joy of the Lord be with you all!

Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Honoring God's work in one another

Sitting in a classical concert tonight I found myself in awe of the musicians' excellence. Each member of the orchestra performed on his or her instrument with almost stunning perfection. And while each instrument by itself would be nice to listen to, the real feast for the ear (and the spirit) is to hear the orchestra play the symphony together. It made me realize how little I appreciate what God is doing in and through other people. No, it is even more than that: I don't really appreciate WHO HE IS in other people. I don't know about you, but I don't like it when I have the feeling that people are trying to point out to me what God still needs to do in me, how far I am falling short and how many problems there still are. It makes me feel belittled and unappreciated. But I know that I often look at people in the same way. And with that I am expressing a lack of appreciation not only of the person I am thinking about, but also of who Christ is in that person. "Jesus in us, the hope of glory," it says in Colossians 1:27. Instead of pointing out other people's faults and shortcomings, let us honor what the Lord has already done and what he is currently doing in one another. Yes, let us honor who He is in one another. We have more reason to thank Him than we think. And not only that we should ask the Lord to show us what he is doing in the lives of our Christian brothers and sisters, but also in the lives of those who don't yet follow the Lord. If we honor and praise the Lord for that, not only will we encourage one another, but we will also pave the way for God doing even more! Because why should He do anything else if we don't give him praise for what He has already done?
Oh Lord, open our eyes that we would see who you are in us; for your name's sake, I pray.

Print Friendly and PDF