How the God of the Generations defines success

How do you define success? For you personally, what makes a day to be a „good day“? How do you know your life decisions brought you forward? If you are like me, your answers will center around YOUR life: what you achieved, how you felt, etc.

God’s perspective

Western societies tend to over-emphasize the individual. God has a different perspective: He is a God of the Generations. When he thinks of you, he also sees all the connections: Where you are coming from and where you are going to. Your ancestry and your children’s children. Your society, your culture, and how your life is shaping the life of tomorrow.

In order to be successful by his standards, we need to live beyond our own lives. When the settlers came to America, they knew: it will be hard for us, and maybe we will survive. It will even be hard for our children. But if we succeed, and our children succeed, our children’s children will have a better life. This kind of long-term perspective is rare in today’s thinking.

For a family, having kids is not about the well-being of the parents. Not even about the well-being of the kids. The question is, how can we raise our kids in a way that they can display godly values even when their society opposes God? How can they be Daniels & Esthers?

Jeremiah wrestles with God’s plan

In Jeremiah 32, we see a similar theme going on. Jeremiah knows from God that Jerusalem will be destroyed. But then his cousin asked him to buy out his land, and Jeremiah recognized this to be a command from God (v. 8). After the transaction, he complained: God, why?? (v. 25) He tried to make sense of that. He looked at the history of Israel and didn’t find a solution.

But God saw life beyond Jeremiah’s „today“. He re-affirmed that Jerusalem will be destroyed, but then gave hope: he will gather them and let them live in the land again (so buying land does make sense). And here is his end goal of all this:

„I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them.“ (Jeremiah 32:39)

God’s goal

He is after our hearts. And when we follow His heart, this will actually benefit to our spouse, our children, and our society. A healthy family is a testimony of God’s covenant.

And „healthy“ doesn’t mean you need to be perfect. Healthy means: staying connected with the vine (John 15). Without this connection, all fruit is temporary. But when your love grows to God, it will grow to people, too. The most spiritual thing you can do is not spending hours praying in tongues, believing for healing, or donating 90% of your income, but: to love (1Corinthians 13:1-3). This is the call that God gave you. And as marriage & family is a vocation, too: he has called you to be a God-fearing husband/wife, father/mother, son/daughter, etc.

So how about this criteria of success: Did I love well today? Did my actions reflect God’s love? Did we as a family experience his grace today? Did I model God’s values to my children?

(Photo by Anna Dziubinska on Unsplash)

Parental wounds

Probably, there is no relationship in life that is impacting you more in your life than the relationship between your parents.

  • If you have good parents, you say to yourself: „I want to be like them.“ They are a good role model to you. And this will help you a lot, especially when parenting your own children.
  • If you have bad parents, you say to yourself: „I will never become like them.“ The problem is: this „never“ rarely works. By default, you will parent your children the same way your parents did – or do exactly the contrary of how they did it.
  • And probably, everyone of us have parents who range somewhere in-between. So we have both things we cherish and things we will „never“ do like them.

This „never“ is essentially an inner vow, a self-directed promise that we make out of our frustration/pain (often because of an traumatic experience). Consciously or subconsciously, we promise ourselves: „This will never happen again!“

Dealing with this kind of things is painful. We like to move on, we want an easy-going life, so we tend to push the pain down. We prefer to walk the familiar way – protecting ourselves. This is a trust issue – because God wants to be the one protecting you.

So, what can we do?

As we become aware of such inner vows, we can bring them to the cross – Jesus already died for them. We can exchange our wrong beliefs and promises with his truth, listening closely to what he says about them, making ourselves dependant on Him again.

And then, we need to practise to live in this freedom, by reminding ourselves of the truth again and again, deciding to trust Him again and again. These decisions will literally change/re-train the chemistry in our mind and body, the way how we instinctively react to certain situations. That’s why it often takes more than a day to change a habit. That’s why it took Israel many years to arrive in the Promised Land – because God took the time to disciple them as a nation.

These processes are a lot of hard, emotional work. But o the freedom you experience afterwards!

„Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit,
let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts,
but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.“
(Galatians 5:25 The Message)

Options

(Deutsche Version)

Which option should I choose? Now that I am married, the answer to this question often involves my love to my wife. How can I meet my partner’s needs while respecting my own needs?

Often, this is only possible with creative solutions … and in order to develop these, we need a deeper understanding of each other’s heart. For example: „So you dream to travel to Hawai …“

  • „How could this look like?“
  • „Why is it important to you?“
  • „What would this give you (emotionally)?“

And as David and Nancy Harper emphasized: Dreaming about these options can stretch us also in our relationship with God. Because He always has options available for us… What do we need to navigate these? Trust. And patience. Exactly the disciplines that he wants to grow in us.

Maybe that’s why he sometimes doesn’t answer my questions immediately!

Young Love

(Deutsche Version)


I have been married for 9 months now … so, I can totally identify with the situation that Joseph was in (Matthew 1:19). My heart is aching to love my bride well. However, it is not possible to love her well out of my own strength. My good intentions are not enough.

It’s only when my love to Jesus is greater than my love to her, that she feels truly loved. It’s only when I receive her as a gift from God to me that I can be a gift from God to her.

I want to learn deeper what it means to lead her well. Leading is serving. Serving is only possible by looking at Jesus and doing what he tells me. Father – please teach me how to love.

(Stills from „The Messager“, Special Christmas Episode from Season 2 of The Chosen, 04:47-06:50)

Ich will einfach nur sein Schaf 🐑 sein

(With English translation. I just wanna be a sheep!)

Text: Jesaja 42, 10-11

  • Was heißt es, ein Schaf zu sein?
  • Was ist der Unterschied zwischen dem guten Hirten und dem angestellten Hirten?
  • Warum gibt Gott Berufungen, die viel zu groß für einen selbst ist?
  • Warum werden Leiter in der Bibel oft Hirten genannt?
  • Und: Was sind die wichtigen Aufgaben eines guten Leiters als Hirte?
  • Kann man Schaf und Hirte gleichzeitig sein?
Benjamin Pick: Ich will einfach nur Sein Schaf sein (I just wanna be His sheep) 🐑 28.03.2021

To live is to be called into the unknown

What if … what if life, even „my life“, was not about me? Not about what I do, what I find important, my cozy this-is-what-I-am-used-to-Bubble, or my ambitious this-is-who-I-should-be-if-only-I-work-a-little-harder …

Real life is radically different. There is somebody knocking on my heart’s door (and yours as well!), waiting to enter in. Not just a nice visitor, mind you. He is offering an all-or-nothing deal. His life – or my life. His will – or my will. But the way he talks, the way he asks me questions, I somehow realize that he actually knows what is going on in my heart – and wouldn’t comdemn me, ever. He is kind, patient, and somehow sometimes it feels like he loves me more than anybody else did – even more than I love myself. Can this be true? If it is true, what has to change? Or rather, what will remain? I don’t know.

Some say, Christianity is about getting answers, the right answers. My hunch is, if my main focus is to get the right answers, I will miss the most important bits of life. I mean, I am a researcher by heart and want to understand everything I can. And now that I am following Jesus, I would love to understand what he will do with my life and how to get there. Instead, I only hold a handful of puzzle pieces that don’t even go together. Oh, they are beautiful! But … what is the bigger picture???

Somehow, love is more about trusting somebody than understanding something. And how do you learn to trust? Well, when Love asks you out (and it will!), just say Yes. Every day.

Sounds scary, like giving up control? Exactly.

– So in the end you made the decision you’re talking about?
– I did. Those fishermen took a similar step into the unknown 2000 years ago. They got called. They went. Fishing for men, becoming a shadow doctor – we hear the words, or we read them like I did, but we’re not usually allowed to have a significant grasp of what we’re signing up for. We get called, and if that call comes from someone we want to be with – well, there’s just one question. Will we be wise – or foolish – enough to go? It begins with relationship. Always did. Always will. Who can tell where it will end? The good news is the same as the bad news. Once you’ve said yes, that’s no longer your business.

(Adrian Plass, The Shadow Doctor Vol. 2, p. 110f)

(I love that novel. Thank you so much, Adrian Plass, for spelling out how messy yet rewarding it is to follow Jesus. This book should be required reading for any counselor or Christian that really wants to impact other people’s life. I want to become a shadow doctor as well!)

(Photo by Martin Jernberg on Unsplash)

God Math

More? God math is different than human math.

Human math is with finite numbers: If I have 10 Haribo bears, and I give away 6, then only 4 are left for me. God math is infinite: If God has infinite sweets, and he gives you 600 Haribo bears, he still has infinite Haribo left!

That’s why there is always more. And not only more for ourselves.

Our live is a vessel. We receive so much grace from above, but we can only handle a certain amount. All the rest gets „spilled“ to the ground. (And I mean „spilled“ in quotes, because: God doesn’t care. He’s generous anyway.) But then, how can we increase our „grace capacity“?

Now another wondrous God math operator kicks in. Actually, only by giving away what you have. If you hold on to the many gifts God gives you, and you are very careful to not „spill“ it anywhere – well, it will die inside of you. Maybe it will even get moldy. Instead: Receive the goodness – then pass it on. Receive, pass it on. Receive, pass it on. And then you realize: huh, somehow this fun! (Because you are made for it.) So you share generously, because he is generous to you. And without you even realizing at first, your vessel capacity is expanding. Your gifts are sharpening, and your heart is more and more capable to love.

Come, Holy Spirit, come. Transform our lives. Make our hearts responsive to your self-giving love. Not only for our sake – we need it – but also for the world around us.

More!

Photo by Zac Harris

Die Liebe ist verletzlich

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (dt. „Was man Liebe nennt“)

Lieben heißt immer verletzlich sein. Liebe irgend etwas, und es wird dir bestimmt zu Herzen gehen, oder gar das Herz brechen. Wenn du ganz sicher sein willst, dass deinem Herzen nichts zustößt, dann darfst du es nie verschenken, nicht einmal einem Tier. Umgib es sorgfältig mit Hobbies und kleinen Genüssen; meide alle Verwicklungen; verschließe es sicher im Schrein oder Sarg deiner Selbstsucht. Aber in diesem Schrein – sicher, dunkel, reglos, luftlos – verändert es sich. Es bricht nicht; es wird unzerbrechlich, undurchdringlich, unerlösbar. Lieben heißt, verletzlich zu sein.

Unsere Berufung / Our calling

Manchmal verliere ich aus dem Blick, dass ich nicht nur geschaffen wurde, um diese Welt und dieses Leben zu genießen. Dieses Video fordert mich immer wieder neu heraus.

We have decided to value both pioneers and settlers: Pioneers to expand our territory, and settlers to build on those territories. But we are NOT squatters – People who take up space others have fought for without improving it.

Wir haben entschieden, sowohl die Pioniere als auch die Siedler zu ehren. Pioniere, die das Gebiet erweitern, und Siedler, die auf diesem Gebiet bauen. Aber wir sind nicht Hausbesetzer – Leute die den Platz einnehmen, für den andere gekämpft haben, ohne ihn zu verbessern.

(2:49-3:07)

Mit dt./engl. Untertitel hier.

DTS Lecture Phase - Oxford, New Zealand

Technological Credo

(Deutsche Version)

lat. credo – I believe. This is what I believe concerning God & Technology.

I believe in God, the origin of all technology. He commanded menkind to invent, discover and use technology to steward, fill and multiply the earth to His glory. Yet we humans perverted this aim of technology by putting our own glory first, using it to manipulate nature and other men in order to “get” what we “want”.

I believe that God can redeem any technology, subvert any mischief, and even use our failures to glorify him; this is what the whole creation is yearning for. I believe that he loves to cooperate with us in this process; if our lives are completely submitted to him, the tools we use will join our worship.

I believe that God cannot be overcome or surprised by technology. There is nothing more powerful, more awe-inspiring, more practical and more efficient than God’s love. If we use technology but do not love, all our efforts are bound to fail. If we love God, ourselves, others and nature, we will use technology in a way that glorifies God and confirms the God-given value of people and nature.

I believe that God is preparing a dwelling place for us. In that city, some technologies of today will be irrelevant, some will be given by God, and many will finally be used to their full potential.

(© Photo by Tom Taker – CC BY 2.0)