Activities over the Easter Weekend
We hope and pray everyone is doing well. Please let us know how we can pray for you.
As you probably already know, we are not allowed to gather together this weekend, due to the Corona situation. We are very sad about this, but we have decided to abide in the government regulations.
However, to not miss this special week completely, we will have some extra events happening online. From Good Friday (April 10th) to Easter Monday (April 13th) we’ll have one message go online each day. Additionally, we’ll have our regular fellowship time on Saturday night (for the ladies) and Sunday night (for the guys).
So here are the details:
Good Friday, April 10th
Sermon on the topic of: “Abandoned by people”. It will be streamed at 7pm and be available to watch as a regular YouTube video afterwards.
Saturday, April 11th
Sermon on the topic of: “Waiting for God”. It will be also be streamed at 7pm.
After the message, the ladies will have their regular online fellowship time at 8pm. (Contact us if you need the link to join this meeting)
Easter Sunday, April 12th
Sermon on the topic of “Power in Christ”. This sermon will stream at our usual time, 3pm.
The guys will then have their regular online fellowship time at 8:30pm. (Contact us if you need the link)
Monday, April 13th
Sermon the topic of “Boldness in Christ”. This sermon will stream at 7pm again.
We hope that this will help all of us to get a bit of the taste of “Celebrating Easter as a church”. If there is anything else you would like to do as the church, please let us know, and we’ll do our best to get it done.
In Christ’s love,
Change of plans for this weekend
Small Change of Plans for this weekend
We had to make a few small changes to our plans this coming weekend. So here we go:
- Nadja’s farewell gathering will now be on Friday (not Sunday). We’ll meet at 6pm as usual, but we’ll finish our Bible study earlier and then have some time to pray over Nadja and send her off. We’ll probably finish a little bit later than usual, but obviously not too late, since we’ll have kids in attendance as well (I’ll be aiming for ~8:30pm)
- That means that on Sunday our program won’t be quite as packed as we thought. So we’ll meet at 11:30am for our workshop (Still early enough to say “good morning” to each other). That part will probably take around 1:30h – 2h. Then we’ll have lunch (a bit late, so eat a big breakfast or bring a snack if that’s a problem for you). When everyone feels ready, we’ll start the service (So it’s very possible that we’ll start our service at around ~2:30pm already, depending on how everybody feels…)
We hope everyone can make it.
Service this Sunday: God with us!
It’s (nearly) Christmas. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely looking forward to Christmas this year. And if I’m perfectly honest, I’m mainly looking forward because of the long-needed break. I need some time to simply stop running and instead reflect on a few things.
So am I missing the point of Christmas? Well, as of today, probably yes. I hope I’m the only one who feels this way, but I would guess that I’m not.
That’s why this Sunday we’ll start with one of Jesus’ names: Emmanuel, which means: God with us.
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
So in our message this Sunday, we’ll go deeper on this particular name of Jesus: What it really means that “God is with us”, and what that means to us today, 2000 years later.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service this Sunday: Results of Repentance
As Christmas is approaching, we’ll be start talking about Christmas related topics on the 15th. But before that, we’ll conclude our “Repentance series” this coming Sunday.
This is obviously a topic that we will come back to from time to time. We have established how important repentance is, so simply doing a series over a few weeks is obviously not enough. But since repentance is a lifestyle, not a “once in a lifetime” event, we’ll also treat it that way in our church. And we’ll just throw in a sermon or two on repentance here and there.
Nevertheless, this Sunday we’ll complete the series for now by looking at the effects of repentance. I know, I’ve already promised this topic a month ago, before I realized that the practical part of this whole series was completely missing. But now that we are really wrapping up this series, we’ll really do this topic this Sunday.
We’ve already looked at some of the effects of repentance. But I think it’s important that we once again look into the full picture of “why repentance is so important”.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service this Sunday: Sins of Speech
We’ll continue our journey through different areas of repentance this Sunday. We talked about “Sins of thought”, how important our thoughts are to God (not just our actions). We talked about the sin of not keeping the Sabbath, and how serious this sin is (though people in the church nowadays don’t take this commandment very seriously any longer).
Now this week we’ll look at another area of sin: Sin of speech.
Our words matter to God. They matter a lot! Just take this one verse:
Matthew 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Every idle word you and I ever speak will be brought back to us by God on the day of judgement. That sounds pretty serious. In other words: What we say (and don’t say) really, really, really matters.
So that’s what we will be looking at more closely this Sunday: How important our words actually are, what affect they have on us and on others. What we ought to speak and what we are not supposed to say.
These and similar questions we’ll answer this coming Sunday. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service this Sunday: Keeping the Sabbath Holy
we’ll continue our journey through different areas of sin this Sunday. This week we’ll talk about something that came up during our “Boundaries”talk a few months back. We’ll talk about God’s commandment to “keep the Sabbath day holy”.
Most of us probably know that one of the ten commandments is about the Sabbath. All of us are to keep a day of rest each week. However, in our society around 3500 years later, many people who call themselves Christians don’t really take this commandment very seriously. Murder, adultery (also in the heart), honesty, no idols,… All these commandments are generally taken very seriously by most churches. But the Sabbath? Well,… that’s a different story. So people do all kinds of things each day of the week, without even considering whether they are supposed to do this on their day off.
Then we have Jesus who rebuked the religious leaders 2000 years ago for being too legalistic. Several times he healed people on the Sabbath. And when the leaders criticized Him for doing so, He basically replied: “Guys, you don’t understand what the Sabbath is really all about! It’s OK to heal on the Sabbath!”
So people have taken these verses to all extremes. From “You can’t do anything on the Sabbath” to “Jesus gave us permission to do anything we want on the Sabbath, because He was working on the Sabbath too.”
So as we can see, there’s a wide range of views on this topic. But I think if we start with the rules, what we can and cannot do on the Sabbath, we are missing the point. First we need to understand why the Sabbath was given and what purpose it serves. Then, with that understanding, we can start applying some principles on what (not) to do on this day.
So that’s what we will be covering this Sunday.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service this Sunday: The results of repentance
we’ll continue our “Repentance” series this Sunday by looking at the results of repentance. We already looked at the fact that according to the Bible, we can nearly equate repentance and Faith. If we have Faith, we will repent. The commandment in the NT on “what should I do to be a Christian” was practically always “repent” (and never: Pray a sinner’s prayer).
But there is a lot more to “what happens when we repent”. And that’s what we will look at more closely this Sunday.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service this Sunday: Psalm 51
We’ll continue our “Repentance” series by looking at another practical example. Last Sunday we compared how King David and King Saul responded to being rebuked. While Saul made excuses and showed that his heart was in the total wrong place (focusing on earthly things), David was only concerned about one thing: His relationship with God.
Now I have to admit: The “David part” was pretty short last Sunday. And some of the things I claimed were a very broad interpretation of David’s simple sentence: “I have sinned against the Lord”. Some of the things I said cannot really be found in the text itself (other than speculation of “what David might have been thinking, but isn’t really written”). Well, there’s more to David’s response. He actually wrote a whole Psalm in response to being rebuked. It’s Psalm 51, when David prays to get things right again with God. And in this Psalm, we’ll find many of the things that I claimed about David in the last sermon.
So this Sunday we’ll continue the story from last week, studying “how David repented” in much more detail.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service this Sunday: Repentance: King Saul and King David
After kicking off our new series on “Repentance” last Sunday, we’ll look at this topic in light of the first two kings of the nation of Israel: King Saul and King David. It’s fascinating to me how the Bible brought them both in similar situations: Both committed a sin. Saul brought home a few cows when God told him to destroy everything. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband, to cover it up.
Now if we stopped here, and had to pass judgement on these two guys, we would probably say: Saul made a mistake, but not THAT big of a deal. David however committed a really horrible sin. So Saul is probably OK, David however is a really bad guy.
But that’s not how the stories continue: Saul was rejected as king because of what he did. David however is called a “man after God’s own heart”.
How can this be? Well, the answer brings us back to the theme we just started: David repented, Saul didn’t.
So we’ll study their behavior in more detail this Sunday, and see what we can learn from them. What did Saul do that shows that he didn’t repent? (And in turn: What does it tell us what we shouldn’t do?) And what did David do that shows that he did truly repent? (And in turn: What can we learn from him that we should do as well?)
These are the kind of questions we’ll be covering this Sunday. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
New Sermon Series: Repentance
Last Sunday we concluded our series on the end-times. One of the points that Jesus said many times in different ways was that He will judge all people, and many people who think they will enter heaven (or try to enter) will not.
Now from this week we will talk about a topic that is closely related to the question: “Am I saved or not?” And that is the topic of “Repentance”.
This world works in a certain way: There’s an outside standard and you have to meet that standard. For example: There’s a standard for criminal behavior, and if you do enough bad stuff, you go to prison. Some companies have certain policies and say that if you do A, B or C then you get fired (or don’t get the job in the first place). Or to use it in the positive way: If you do really well in school (e.g. get good grades) you’ll get a reward.
We are all used to such systems, because we’re all part of many such systems. State laws, company policies, rules in our university or school,… they all function the same way.
The problem is: God’s kingdom doesn’t work like that. We tend to link “what happens to us” with “how good we are”. If a person loses a job, we immediately think: “He must have done something bad or not performed well.” This might be true, but not necessarily. If we hear that a person has cancer, we tend to think: “This person has done something bad, so God is punishing him.” Or if the person gets a great job he or she prayed for, we think: “God is rewarding him/her for his/her Faith.”
While these things might be true, it’s not always the case. Jesus actually addressed this several times. For example:
John 9:1-3 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man who was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Teacher, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
Luke 13:1-5 There were present at that time some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose you that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
So obviously, something is different in God’s kingdom. It’s not about “being better compared to others”. But what is it?
The key is our topic for the next few weeks: Repentance.
So: How is repentance different from performance? What is repentance in the first place? Why is it better? And how do we know whether we truly repented?
Summary of our Vision Partner Meeting
Thanks to everyone who attended our Vision Partner Meeting last Saturday. Since not everybody could attend, I wanted to write down a quick summary of the things we discussed. This is NOT a legal document (We’ll have to create that one too, in German, and hand it in to the German government), so some details might be missing. This is just a summary for everyone, in “our Aletheia language”, in English, especially for those who couldn’t attend.
Our Vision and Identity
During our meeting it became obvious that our Vision and Identity has not yet fully reached all of us. The situation we discussed a few weeks ago (our lack of community and therefore a lack of care for each other) might have been completely avoided in the first place if all of us had fully known and embraced our values (In this case specifically our value of “relationships” and our anchor of “building Christ-centered community”).
Therefore, we will have a sermon series on this topic before the end of the year. We’ll look at our identity and the Biblical foundations for this identity. We’ll also do some workshops on this topic, so that we can all practice how to live out our identity.
We discussed and agreed that in recent weeks, it happened too often that we spoke other languages. Sometimes the whole group completely flipped and spoke German. This will eventually have the opposite effect of our focus, which is “Building community”. Especially newcomers who don’t speak any German might feel like an outsider if this happens on their first day.
Therefore, we all committed to putting more effort into speaking English whenever possible during Aletheia events.
Our main focus for at least 6 months
According to the discussions from our meeting a few weeks back, we have officially made “Building Community” our theme for the next 6 – 12 months. Of course, we can still invite our friends to Aletheia. But we won’t do an outreach push for now (like we did for our anniversary), and instead focus on our existing relationships.
Don’t wait for Aletheia Events
Another important point we discussed: We want to encourage everyone to not simply wait for an official Aletheia event to happen. Events can help us build community, but they won’t get the job done. We want to encourage everyone to simply make a small contribution to this theme. For example: Invite a person for a coffee or meal. Pray for another person each day for a week. Call someone in the middle of the week, ask this person how he/she is doing, and pray with him/her over the phone. Organize a small fun event with 2, 3 other people and go out together.
Aletheia will organize events for the whole church. But due to our different schedules, it will hardly ever happen that everybody can attend. So these events will help, but won’t get us to where we want to be. Therefore, we want to encourage everyone to simply do something small (and not necessarily time consuming) on a regular basis for one, two or three other people in the church. If we all do this, our relationships with each other will naturally grow deeper.
Other ideas that were discussed:
- We could do a “Secret Santa” for Christmas, since it requires us to get to know the other person and find a personal gift for him or her.
- We could give the opportunity for individuals to share something about their lives during the Sunday Services (But we’ll have to be careful that everybody knows that this is completely voluntary, so it doesn’t become a burden to someone who has stage fright, etc.)
The recommendation that the leadership put out was approved. The budget for our apartment was increased by 1000 Euro/month on top of what we currently pay. The salary for Bernd was also increased by 1000 Euro/month on top of what was approved at last year’s meeting. After ~6 months, we will reevaluate our financial situation and make some adjustments if needed. (We will not allow our finances to reach nearly 0 in 12 months, as the projection currently shows)
After our official meeting, Matthias from “Kick it International” gave a presentation on what they do. Check out their website at https://kickit-international.com/.
We would like to encourage everyone to pray over this opportunity. We can then discuss if we want to explore a partnership with them (and if yes: how) in a few weeks.
These were the main points we discussed. In case of any questions, if you think I forgot anything important, got something wrong,… please let me know, so we can work it out together.
Thank you very much.
In Christ’s love,
Service this Sunday: The narrow gate
Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
We’ll conclude our series on “Jesus judging everyone” this Sunday by looking at Matt. 7. Over the next few weeks we’ll still talk about the end-times and study some more aspects on this very important topic. But this Sunday will be the last sermon in which we focus on Jesus’ final judgement upon His return.
Matt. 7 is part of a very famous passage, the Sermon on the Mount. Many famous words from Jesus come from this passage, many of them even non-Christians know. The Lord’s Prayer is part of this passage. “Turn the other cheek” comes from here. “Seeking God first” comes from this passage too. Many of Jesus’ words that are quoted most often are taken from this sermon.
What we will focus on this Sunday is the last part of this sermon: The narrow gate. Like in Matt. 25, Jesus is talking about His final judgement. And like in Matt. 25, there are people who have a bad surprise. I particularly like this passage, because people are actually “preaching back to God”, trying to convince Him that they worked enough to enter God’s kingdom. However, they are unable to change God’s mind. (I guess preaching to God isn’t very effective,…!?) And they have to spend eternity separated from God.
“Many will say …”. We’re not talking about a few exceptions. The Bible says: “Many” will be rejected by God.
This parable adds another aspect to “how we can know whether we are saved”. This parable looks at works and obedience.
We hope you can join us this Sunday. Same time, same place. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service this Sunday: The Parable of the sheep and the goats
This Sunday we will conclude our journey through the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24 – 25). We’ll still continue the topic of “The End Times” by looking at some other Bible passages on this topic. But we’ll conclude this part of our series on Sunday.
We’ve looked at the Parable of the 10 virgins. 5 made it, 5 didn’t. We’ve looked at the Parable of the talents: 2 servants made it, one didn’t. Now we’ll look at the parable of the sheep and the goats.
Again, Jesus is contrasting two kinds of people. There were 10 virgins who all looked ready, but actually, 5 were not. There were three servants, all received talents. But when the master returned, one servant got a bad surprise. Now in this parable, God divides the people. They all come and expect to enter heaven. But: Some of them will not be accepted either. In this parable, we don’t get any numbers on “how many sheep and goats there are”. But again, there are people who are totally surprised when God does not allow them to enter heaven with Him.
The key difference here is: To the sheep, God says (among other things): “I was hungry and you gave me food”. And later he explains that meant that they were feeding Christians in need. To the goats He says: “I was hungry, and you gave me no food.” And then says: “You didn’t give to Christians in need.”
Now what is Jesus saying here? Is it salvation by works? We can probably all think of situations when we helped another Christian. But we can also all think of situations when we saw another Christian in need, and we didn’t help the person. How can He divide us by our works? How can I know when I worked enough? And how does this parable relate to “Salvation by Faith alone”?
These and similar questions we will address at the service this Sunday. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Meeting on Friday + Service this Sunday
In this preview, I will mainly focus on our meeting on Friday, since that discussion will be our main focus for this week.
Most of us were able to attend last Sunday’s service, so you already heard the things I’m writing here. But I just want to remind and encourage all of us again to prepare ourselves for our discussions on Friday:
- Last Sunday you received some questions (Let me know if you need them again). Please pray and think over these questions, so that we can have a fruitful time together.
- The decisions from this meeting will flow into the budget which we will vote on at our annual meeting. So these decisions will impact Aletheia for months and years to come. Therefore, let’s not take it lightly, but seriously pray for the meeting and ask God what He wants us to share (and not what we think we should do)
- As much as it depends on you, please join us this Friday. (But we understand that there are more important things happening in some of our lives right now)
- If you can’t then please send me your thoughts beforehand, so that we can consider your ideas and suggestions at the meeting as well.
- Please be honest. There is no point in talking about “how we can improve our community” if we don’t share with each other what is bothering us. It might take some courage to share, but it’s necessary (and biblical). We don’t have to be rude. But we can be honest, sharing how we feel about certain things with love, care and forgiveness.
So these are the main things we would like to ask everyone to prepare for Friday. We’re meeting at 6pm at the Armbrusters’, starting with dinner.
On Sunday, we will then continue our walk through the topic of the end-times, by looking at the parable of the talents in Matt. 25. I won’t say much to that at this point in time. Next week, I’ll write a proper preview again. But for this week, we’ll leave it at that, so we can all focus on Friday.
We are looking forward to seeing you Friday and Sunday.
Service this Sunday: Love requires Action
We’re taking a quick break from our Endtimes-series and revisit the topic of “Community” this Sunday. As you know, we plan a big discussion on “where we are at and how we can improve in building community” on the 27th. In preparations for that meeting, the sermon this week will be about the Biblical principles and the importance of “Community”. Martin will be speaking, and the title of the sermon is: “Love requires action”.
We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday: The Endtimes (Part 3)
First of all, sorry that there was again no recording of last Sunday’s sermon. It had nothing to do with us, just that we can’t record if there is no electricity in the room. We’ll do an audio recording of the messages again this week (no video though), so that those of us who couldn’t attend will be able to catch up.
With that being said, we’ll continue our series through the end-times this Sunday. After studying the “Signs of the end of the age” in Matt. 24 we’re now moving into the 2nd major part of the Bible’s message on the end times: Jesus judging all people. There are actually three parables spoken by Jesus on this topic in Matt. 25: The parable of the 10 virgins, the parable of the talents, and the parable of the sheep and the goats. This Sunday we’ll definitely cover the 10 virgins, and depending on time, maybe the 10 talents as well. But over the next two to three sermons, we’ll go through all these parables.
The point of all these parables: Someone has a bad surprise. Five of the virgins are not entering God’s kingdom. One of the three servants doesn’t enter God’s kingdom. And the goats do not enter God’s kingdom either. They all thought they were fine. But on that day, they are being rejected.
The danger is that we read these passages and immediately think: “Well, I’m saved, I’m one of the good virgins, one of the guys who multiplied the talents, and a sheep. Jesus is talking about someone else here.”
I hope that is true for all of us. But the question is: How do you know whether you are “on the good side of things”? Most people simply brush it off: “I’m a Christian, so I must be on the winning side.”
But I don’t think that’s the right approach. How on earth can we be sure that we won’t have a bad surprise on that day? Instead, what we need to do is this: We need to find out what the difference is between the two sides, and then examine ourselves whether we are like this person or more like that person.
So that’s the general focus that we will be having over the next few weeks. We’re looking forward to worshiping with you this Sunday.
Plans for this week
First of all, sorry that there is currently no recording of last Sunday’s message. As you know, there was no electricity on the whole floor last Sunday, which didn’t allow us to include all elements of the service we had planned. One of those things we couldn’t do was the recording. We’re in touch now with our landlord to have everything fixed by this Sunday, so we can have our regular service without distractions. We’ll also work on “getting the sermon online” over the next few days. It’ll come, we just don’t know yet exactly when.
Secondly, this Friday’s small group will be a special time. We’ll send off Nadja, as she’s preparing to spend one semester in Brazil. We’ll also celebrate Nadja’s and Miley’s birthday, which were both in August. We’ll be meeting at the Armbrusters’ home at 6pm, start with the study, and then have our time of fellowship over dinner.
Lastly, we’ll continue our study of the Endtimes this Sunday by looking at the next verses of Matt. 24. Last Sunday we looked at the “Signs of the End of the Age”. One of the main messages that Jesus had for His followers: Don’t be deceived! There’ll be so much confusion, and unless we are rooted and grounded in God’s Word, we’ll be deceived too.
Now this week we’ll look at the next few verses from Matt. 24. As Jesus continues His discourse, he continues talking about signs of His second coming, before He then talks about Him judging all people. We’ll pick things up where we left off last time (starting at verse 15) and see how far we come this week. The plan is that over the next few weeks we’ll study chapters 24 and 25 in detail.
We are looking forward to seeing you all again this weekend.
Service this Sunday: Endtimes
It was great to be back last Sunday and seeing many of you again. We completed our sub-series on Jesus’ seven letters with a great warning for all of us: Don’t become lukewarm in your Faith.
Now this week we’ll start another subseries. For the next few weeks we’ll talk about the End-Times.
Unfortunately, when it comes to this topic, a lot of Christians have a very negative view on it. And the reason is: There are so many different opinions about the end-times, and Christians fight over their different opinions all the time. Is the rapture before or after Jesus’ return? Will the rapture include all Christians or only the most faithful ones? When will Jesus return? What are the seven thunders in the book of Revelations and why were they not recorded?
Well, these are valid questions. But these are not the most important aspects of the Bible’s message. The main message is: One day Jesus will come back, establish His kingdom, and judge every single person who has ever lived on this earth. And if we focus on this, then the whole topic of the end-times suddenly looks very, very different. Because the exact order of “what’s going to happen when”, etc. is really not that important in light of the main point: Jesus is going to win!
So for the next few weeks, we’ll focus on what Jesus told us about His return. Part of that will be talking about “signs of the end of the age”. But that’s not going to be our main focus. Our main focus will be: Jesus will establish His kingdom. And He will judge everyone, including you and me.
As for the small group this week: We’ll resume our regular schedule and meet this Friday at 6pm. For the next few weeks we will be meeting at the office, since Vinoth and Sumathi are not in town.
We are looking forward to seeing you this weekend.
Service this Sunday: Jesus' seven letters (Part 2)
This Sunday we’ll continue our study of the “7 letters of Jesus” in the book of Revelations. Last Sunday we looked at the first three letters. And I want to remind everyone that one of the keys to deal with our own failures and sinfulness is to focus on “Who Jesus is”. There’s a reason why Jesus started each letter by focusing on “Who He is and what He has done”. And that same reason applies to us today as well: In order to deal with our sin, we need to know who Jesus is and how He deals with our sin. Because if we try in our own strength, we’ll fail.
Now this week we’ll look at the next letters. And I want to give you a quick preview on the church of Sardis. This church is a little bit similar to the church in Ephesus: They are working hard. They have a good standing within society. But: They don’t have a good standing with God. Jesus says that their works are incomplete.
That should raise a few questions. Are we saved by our works? When do we know whether we worked enough? And how can such a message by Jesus be reconciled with the basic Christian belief that we are saved through Faith?
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
How does this all work out?
That’s the kind of questions we’ll be studying this Sunday.
As for the news from yesterday: It looks like we’ll still be meeting at our current place. So unless you hear otherwise, you can plan with the usual location. In case of any questions,… just contact me personally, and we can talk about it.
We are looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.
In Christ’s love,
Service this Sunday: Jesus' seven letters
We’ll continue our journey through Jesus’ life by looking at a passage that is often not directly associated with Jesus’ life. And yes, Jesus spoke these words around 60 years after His life on this earth. But nevertheless, these are words that Jesus Himself spoke (not words that someone else said about Him). We are talking about the 7 letters that Jesus directed John to write to the 7 churches in Revelations 2 – 3.
Why do we suddenly jump to these letters? Well, these letters were written around 60 years after Jesus was raised from the dead and went back to heaven. During this time, the first churches developed. By this time, most people in the churches have not met Jesus face to face any longer. Churches grew and established themselves. However, most of the leaders and members of the churches heard about Jesus through other people, these churches started to deviate from the Truth. And Jesus was telling these churches what they did well, what they didn’t do well, and what they needed to do to return to the right path.
Why do we study these 7 letters? Because they are really representatives of us today. It is tempting to think: “Well, those churches had those problems” and then move on. But over these next two Sundays, we’ll take a different approach: We’ll put ourselves INSIDE those churches and ask ourselves individually and as a church: What part of my life/our church is like that?
The plan is that we will study these letters over the next 2 weeks, before we take a couple of weeks off. As I said during the service last Sunday: We’ll meet every week. But on August 11th and 18th we won’t have a full service. We’ll still do something meaningful, we’ll still read the Bible together, we’ll still seek His face together, etc. But the format will be different on those two Sundays. From the 25th onwards, everything will go back to normal.
Also, just a reminder: The small group this week will be held at Vinoth’s and Sumathi’s place. Friday, 6pm, as usual.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service this Sunday: The Great Wedding Feast
we’ll continue our journey around Jesus this Sunday by studying another parable He told us: The parable of the Wedding Feast. We can find it twice in the Gospels, Luke 14:16ff and Matt. 22:1ff.
We all know that God invites all of us into a relationship with Him. And we probably also know that when He comes back, there will be a great Wedding Feast. He will be the bridegroom, we will be His bride (And not His “Bridge” as I put on a powerpoint one time, for everyone to see). This parable that we will be studying on Sunday is one of the stories that tell us about this wonderful feast and celebration that will be held when Jesus comes back. So far so good.
But there’s a part that we often don’t really talk about, because we don’t like it. We like the part that God opens the doors to everyone and we are all invited to join the wedding. And we so focus on that part that we forget that the only reason why “everybody is invited now” is that the people who were originally invited didn’t come. In the Matthew passage, we even read how angry God got at those who didn’t come that He destroyed their cities. Calling them “murderers”.
What kind of love is that? People just didn’t come to a wedding and the loving God calls them murderers, killing them? Did God have a bad day here? And surely, He wasn’t talking about us here, was He?
Well, hopefully not. But I’m not God, so I can’t tell. All I can say is: Some people who call themselves Christians fall in this part of the story as well. And one day, they will be very surprised when they realize that God rejected them, just like He rejected these people who were invited to the wedding.
Have questions about this? Then join us this Sunday, as we will take a closer look at this parable and how it applies to us.
And actually, it will tie in nicely with our “Boundaries and Expectations” talk on Friday as well. Because this parable is all about a “righteous expectation from God towards those who have given Hm a promise”.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service this Sunday: Jesus searching for us
Last Sunday we kicked off our new series around Jesus’ life. We looked at “Jesus, our Friend”, and one major aspect why some of us feel close (or not so close) to Jesus: If we confess our sinfulness, we’ll experience how God lifts us up and shows us grace. That will bring us closer to Him. However, if we are proud and self-righteous, then we’ll feel distant to Him, because He will oppose us. The question was then not: “Am I confessing or self-righteous?” The question instead was: “In which parts of my life do I confess my sin and humble myself before God? And in which part do I try to run away and hide from my sinfulness?” The answer to those questions will probably also give us clues to when we feel close to Jesus, and when we feel distant to Him.
Now this week, we will go one step deeper on this friendship that Jesus offers. And we’ll look at how He pursues us. A while ago, we looked at the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. But there are actually two more parables that Jesus tells us right before that one: The Parable of the Lost Sheep, and the Parable of the Lost Coin. Most Christians are very familiar with the Parable of the Lost Sheep. A little spoiler here: I have a very rare view on that parable. I won’t impose my view on everybody, so if you don’t agree with me on my view, that’s fine. But I’ll throw my opinion and the more common one out there. And hopefully it’ll help us all get a deeper understanding of the text, no matter which view we personally hold.
So that’s the topic for this coming weekend. We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday + Explorer Group Kickoff
First of all, we want to thank God for last weekend. It was such an encouragement to have Mary & Alex with us. I obviously can’t speak for all of you. But I can say: Sometimes I need a reminder to focus on “what really matters”. And God definitely did just that over the last 3 days.
Also, we want to thank everyone for your time and contributions. We know all of us have been reaching out to our friends and circle of influence. One feedback that I got several times from guests was how welcomed and loved they felt in our midst. Many of us spent a lot of time this weekend at the training, preparing for the worship sets, setting up the room, cleaning up, buying stuff, etc. It was a long weekend. But I was very encouraged to see how we as a small community can work together and make an event like this one happen. Thank you very much to everybody for contributing in many different ways.
Now in this coming season, we will focus again on the person who really matters: Jesus. The plan for the next few weeks is to (re)establish some foundations about Him, His character. We’ll study some of the parables that he told us. And we’ll also look more closely at some of the interactions He had with people.
Then in Part 2 of the series, we’ll make it personal, and talk about how we can experience this Jesus in our lives. In other words, Part 2 will place a big focus on the topic of prayer and related topics.
So that’s the plan for the next few weeks. We hope you can join us this Sunday, 3pm.
Also, please don’t forget about our Explorer Group kickoff this Sunday and (re)invite your friends to this event.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Admin stuff for our Sunday picnic
We have settled the details for the picnic this Sunday. Here’s how we would like everybody to contribute:
- We would like everybody to contribute side dishes (salads, etc). Consider how many friends you are bringing and adjust your portion accordingly. We’ll order sandwiches etc. as the main food. But we’d like to ask everybody to contribute the side dishes.
- Please also bring along your picnic mats and other things that are useful for a picnic. Also, if you want to do some activities, bring your football, frisbee, table tennis rackets and other equipment that you would like to use to play with others in the grass area.
- Also, please give us an idea on “how many people we can expect” by Saturday. We don’t need an exact number, but we’d like to get an idea whether we should expect 15 people or 50.
In case of any questions, please feel free to contact us again at any time.
We are looking forward to celebrating with you.
Details for our Outreach this Wednesday (6/24)
Here is the promised info for the Outreach this Wednesday:
We are meeting at 5pm or 6:30pm (depending on the shift you want to join), but no worries if your timing doesn’t match exactly. The plan is for each person to reach out for around 1h, but of course you can do as long as you want.
For both shifts, we will meet at “Chinesischer Turm” (https://goo.gl/maps/nLaMsjGSXUNw8ry48) From there, we’ll divide into different parts of the park, so that we don’t nag the same people 2, 3 times, etc.
I’ll bring along the invitation cards as well as some guidelines on what we should be careful about.
It would be great if you could let me know if you are coming, and if yes, which shift you prefer, so that we can make some preliminary plans. In case of any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time.
We are looking forward to serving with you all.
Service this Sunday + Outreach on Saturday
it’s only a bit more than a week until our anniversary event. So we’ll also wrap up our evangelism series this Sunday. Of course, the theme will remain present all the time. (I’ll say this at least 100 more times this year: We want each person to bring at least one new person to church each year) But the sermon series that we have been in over the last few weeks will conclude this Sunday. And we’ll do so by looking at one more passage from Paul: 1. Thess. 2. In this passage Paul write to the Thessalonians how he conducted himself while he was in their midst sharing the gospel with them. And there are some wonderful and often very practical nuggets that we can find in this chapter that we can apply to our own lives and our evangelistic efforts as well.
This week’s sermon will also be a bit shorter than usual, because at the end of the service, we will spend some time praying together for Aletheia and for the anniversary the following week. There is great power in prayer, and there is even greater power in corporate prayer. That’s why the sermon this week will be kept a bit shorter, so that we have some extra time at the end of the service to pray together.
Please also remember that in addition to our regular small group on Friday, we also have our Outreach Event on Saturday evening, 6pm – 8pm. We’ll pray together before we actually go out on the streets to hand out our fliers to people passing by.
We are looking forward to seeing you again this coming weekend.
Service this Sunday: Evangelism 101
We will continue our “Evangelism” series this week and start looking at the practical “how” of evangelism. Last Sunday we have established that God calls all of us to “go”. God calls us to go because all power has been given unto Jesus. And He wants us to proclaim that all power has been given unto Jesus. Where exactly we go is different from person to person. But all of us are called to “go”.
Now this Sunday we will look at a few practical principles on how and how not to share the gospel. We have probably all heard stories of very insensitive Christians who started conversations about Jesus with comments like: “Do you want to go to hell?” As you can imagine, such conversations usually have the opposite effect, we push people further and further away from Jesus. The other extreme is that Christians don’t say anything that might offend others. They talk about Jesus’ love. But they never mention topics like sin, repentance or holiness, because of fear that “the person might not like it and not want to consider Jesus any longer”.
And then we’ve probably all heard stories of Christians who were simply extremely insensitive and basically offend (nearly) every person they try to reach for the gospel. And when you ask them whether they feel they are doing the right thing, they usually answer with things like: “Well, Christians have been rejected for their Faith for the last 2000 years, this is just how it is.” So they justify themselves and their ways, but never reconsider their approach to evangelism.
So this Sunday we will look at some of the practical principles that we should follow when we try to reach people for Jesus. We’ll look at some biblical principles, and also share a few things that should be common sense for Christians, but are unfortunately often overlooked when it comes to evangelism.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service this Sunday: Go!
We’ll continue our “Evangelism” series this coming Sunday. So far we’ve covered the foundations of “God changing our hearts” and “Prayer”. Last Sunday we’ve then looked at the aspect of “evangelism without words”. If we live the life Jesus wants us to live, we make Jesus visible to others. And they will come to us.
Now we’ll cover the next aspect of evangelism: Going! Jesus clearly commanded all of us to “go”. One of the most famous verses that is often quoted when it comes to evangelism is found in Matt. 28:
Matthew 28:19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:
But if we take this verse without the previous one, we’ll miss the point:
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
So Jesus clearly commands us to “go”. But the important part is that our “going” is based on the previous verse: All power (some translations say “authority”) has been given to Jesus.
So why should we go? Because all power has been given to Jesus. How should we go? In the power of Jesus.
So that’s the main verse for our sermon this coming Sunday, that will study in detail. Again, with the goal: We’ll be equipped so that each of us will bring one new person to Aletheia each year.
We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday: Evangelism without words
As you know, we are in the middle of our evangelism series, and we are slowly moving into the practical part. So far we looked at “The heart of evangelism”: God loves everybody, and if we truly live in a relationship with God, He will give us His heart, and we will love other people the way He loves people. Then we won’t “have to” do evangelism. We’ll naturally do it.
Last week we looked at prayer: We can’t convert anybody. There is nothing within us to take the blindness from the devil away. So the only way is to pray: For ourselves, for the lost and for the church.
Now we’ll get into the practical part. But we’ll still focus on ourselves, not (yet) on talking with people. We’ll talk about two of the most effective ways to reach out: love and unity.
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
John 17:23 I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me.
As you can see, Jesus gives us a very simple way to evangelize, even without words: Love and unity within the church. But what exactly does that mean? How can we practice love and unity towards one another? What are the things that take that unity away? And how can we proactively work towards love and unity? That’s the kind of questions we’ll cover this week. We hope you can join us.
I know we already had a sermon on unity in October. I’ll try to not repeat myself too much. But sometimes we just need a gentle reminder, even if we still remember.
Service this Sunday: Prayer and Evangelism
Last Sunday we kicked off our series on Evangelism by looking at the Heart of Evangelism. God does not want anyone to perish. And He wants to change our hearts to become like His heart. In other words: If we allow Him to really change our hearts, we will not want anyone to perish either. If we have little to no desire to evangelize (or even refuse to do so) shows a lack of Faith on our side.
Now this week we will look at another basic principle of evangelism: Prayer. No question, the Bible tells us to DO stuff (going, telling, teaching, discipling, admonishing,…) Those are all necessary elements of evangelism. But it is easy to forget a very important step that has to happen before anybody can receive Jesus. The Father has to draw him. Here are Jesus’ Words:
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father who has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
It’s no wonder that the evangelism efforts of many people fail. They DO all kinds of stuff. But they don’t realize: Unless the Father draws those people, there is really nothing they can accomplish.
This then obviously leads to another important topic of the Christian Faith: Prayer. Evangelism without prayer is basically like trying to take a bottle of water to the top of a high-rise building, and then pouring down the water into a glass that stands on the ground. If you are very lucky, you might hit some. But you’ll definitely waste a lot of water, if not all.
So this Sunday, we will go deeper on this topic. How should prayer accompany our evangelism? What should we pray for? And how can our prayers help us prevent some common mistakes many people make?
We’ll take a deeper look at such questions this week. We hope you can join us.
Service this Sunday: The Heart of Evangelism
The last few weeks have been very exciting, journeying through the topic of money. We’re glad to hear that many of us have been able to glean some nuggets from this series, have heard God speak to us, and made some adjustments in our handling of money for God’s glory.
Now for these next few weeks we will focus on our “theme of the year”: Outreach. We have been announcing this from the very beginning of the year that “2019 is about Outreach”. During the cold season, we didn’t focus too much on it, since it’s harder to reach out during that time. But now that it’s getting warmer and we have more opportunities to “be outside and meet people” we will focus on this topic. AND: We will also do several practical things to spread the word, tell people about Aletheia, inviting them, etc. But if it’s just activity and “things we have to do”, we miss the point. We need to start with the Biblical principles about evangelism. And that’s what we will do over the next few weeks. And after “talking about it”, we’ll actually do it.
So this Sunday we will take a deeper look at two simple verses:
1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Most of us have probably already heard sermons on “evangelism”. And I know that many people get scared when they hear about this topic. “This is just not my gift. What if people laugh at me? What if they stop being friends with me? What if they …”
These feelings are very real, and to be honest, sometimes I have them too. Evangelism can be difficult, to most of us it doesn’t come easily. But you know what? It’s not meant to be hard. It’s meant to be natural, simply an overflow of our love for Jesus. And it all starts with an attitude of knowing and embracing God’s heart: God doesn’t want anybody to perish, but to come to know Him. Personally.
So that’s the topic with which we will kick off our new series this Sunday. We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday: Being Generous
We are coming to the end of our “Money” series. We have covered a lot of ground throughout the last few weeks: We started with the theological part: God owns everything, we are managers (not owners) of money. Then we looked at the fact that God promises to provide for all our needs. We don’t have to provide for ourselves, God will take care of that part. Our responsibility is instead to be obedient to God’s Logos and Rhema Word.
Then we went into the practical part: Our first priority is to give. Second priority is to save. Then we need to manage the rest.
After the practical part, we spent one Sunday talking about “Work” and what the Bible has to say about this topic (Before the fall, the consequences of the fall, and the restoration of work through Jesus). Then last Sunday we looked at God’s timing, how He provides for us, but not always at the time we would like Him to.
And this Sunday we will then close this series by looking at a very important topic: Giving after the tithe.
We already established the principle that our tithe is the 1st priority in “managing money”. The first 10% of our income goes to those who feed us spiritually. The challenge then is: Do we need to give more? Should we give more? What if a Christian comes to us and asks for money? Do we have to give, since the Bible tells us to be generous? What about giving to the poor, the beggars on the street? What about children in need? And even if we do give, there’s no way we can help everyone. Isn’t in unfair to give to one person, but not the other?
Ever had such questions? Well, you’re not alone. And while there are no simple answers to such questions, there are certainly good principles in the Bible that give us great guidelines. But how these guidelines apply to us can vary from person to person.
Join us this Sunday, to hear more on this topic.
Service this Sunday: In His Time
We are continuing our money series this coming Sunday (May 05th). As I already mentioned, if I could do this whole series again, I would do this sermon before the practical part (after “God the Provider” and before “Giving”). But since I can’t turn back time yet, we’ll just have to go with the flow. This Sunday we will talk about “God’s Timing”.
When we read some stories in the Old and New Testament, we realize that God’s timing is completely different from our timing. Not just that time is in Him, which means He is not limited by it like we are. But because of His nature He never feels stressed or pressured like we do. The thing however is of course that we do face worldly deadlines and pressures to get certain things done by a certain time. One example (since we are in the money series): We do have to pay certain bills on a certain day. If we don’t, the consequences can be quite nasty,… We already looked at God’s promise that “He will provide for all our needs”. But the trouble here is: The way and the time God provides for us is often not exactly what we have in mind. We often think things like: “Why is God so late? Why doesn’t He simply answer my question/request today? What takes Him so long? Why does He keep me waiting for no apparent purpose?”
This principle obviously applies to many areas in life. But it certainly also applies to our lives in the area of money: “When and how is God going to provide?”
Ever had these kinds of thoughts and questions about God? Well, then you will probably enjoy this Sunday’s sermon. Because we will try to answer such and similar questions.
We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday: Work
First of all, I want to apologize for a technical hiccup from last Sunday. We recorded the sermon, but the sound went off after ~10min. Looks like I inserted an empty battery, and the whole system just died on us mid service. So unfortunately, no recording of last Sunday’s sermon. Sorry about that.
Now the good news is: There’s always next Sunday, with a new sermon. And after our one-off topic for Easter Sunday, we will be moving back to our money-series. For the next few weeks, we will talk about topics that are related to money. And this week, we will be talking about “work”.
When we hear the word “work” most people start having mixed feelings (if not: totally negative feelings). All they can think about is stress, pressure and the unreasonable boss they are working for. And if you ask them: “Then why do you go to work?” they’ll simply say: “No choice, I just have to.” And if you ask them how they work, they’ll say: “I’ll do enough to not get fired, but nothing more than that.”
Now let’s do a bit of Math: Each week has 168h. We sleep around 56 of those hours. That leaves us with around 110h awake time per week. If we have a regular job (8h x 5 days) and add traveling time to each day (30min one way) we spend around 45h per week at work. That’s between one third and half of our wake time. Plus, when we come home, we are often too tired to enjoy the rest of the day. In other words, most of us spend way more than one third of our wake time on something we absolutely hate. That sounds pretty … depressing.
The Bible has a better plan for our work. Work can actually be joyful. And our attitude towards work should not be that of “I have to work”. Instead, work is meant to be a privilege: We get to work.
God offers all of us to enjoy our work. But as always, there is a part for us to play: We need to cooperate with God’s Word in our attitudes and practices when it comes to our work. If we do, our attitude toward work can turn around completely. And we can again enjoy the blessing that work is meant to be.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, it isn’t. And if you want to learn more about this topic, then we hope you can join us this Sunday.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Easter Sunday Service
We’re taking a quick break from our Money Series this week (for obvious reasons) and do a one-off-topic this coming Easter Sunday. And the topic will be: The great Exchange.
Most people who grow up in this culture can give you the basics about the claims of Christianity. Christians and non-Christians alike would be able to say something along the lines of the following: “On Easter, Christians celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection. Allegedly, that can take away their sins.”
Of course, this is correct. But the cross goes so much deeper than that. Because Jesus didn’t just take care of sin itself, but also of the consequences of sin. Prosperity for poverty, healing instead of sickness and diseases, blessings of Abraham instead of curses of sin, fellowship with God instead of separation from God,… And these are just a few of the wonderful exchanges that happened on the cross.
After the service this week we will be going out for dinner together.
Please help us spread the word as well, invite your friends, and tell people about this special service. Easter is a time when some people are open to coming to church who are not regularly attending. So please use this unique opportunity and give people a chance to hear about this “Great Exchange” that Jesus offers to all of us.
We are looking forward to seeing you Sunday.
Service this Sunday: Budgeting
We’ve come quite a bit in our money series already (Feels totally different to do such a series when we have a service (nearly) every week). We have laid the theological foundations. We have talked about our first and second priority (Giving and Saving). But now we get into the third part, which is hardly ever talked about: What does the Bible say about the rest? Can I just spend the money that remains after giving and saving in any way I want? Or is God telling me something about this part too?
Well, the Bible does give us a great deal of freedom in this part. But it also gives us some important guidelines. And the most important one is simply this: Live within your means.
We all know this. But let’s be honest: Too many people live as if this principle doesn’t apply to them. We get paid, we see our bank account being full. And so we just spend the money. All goes well for 2, 3 weeks. But then the last few days before the next paycheck comes in, we suddenly struggle. And we start wondering: “Where did all that money go? I thought I had enough? Maybe I shouldn’t have bought the cool watch at the beginning of the month!?”
Have you ever gone through such an experience? How did it feel? Did you enjoy the things you bought at the beginning of the month when you didn’t have money left by the end of it?
I have certainly gone through such seasons. I never knew how much money I have, how much I can spend on “nice things”, whether I’ll have enough by the end of the month,… It was all just a blurry feeling. “I have some money, but I don’t know if it’s enough and how much of it I can spend for things that are nice, but not really necessary”.
There is a way of avoiding many of these challenges: Budgeting. It takes some time, it takes discipline. But there is definitely a way to avoid most of such situations, if we are simply having the discipline of deciding how we are going to spend money BEFORE we actually spend it (instead of looking back one day and wondering where the money went). And we’ll talk through some of these principles in our sermon this Sunday.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service Sunday: Money Part 4: Saving
We’ll continue our journey through the topic of “Money” this Sunday. After talking about the foundations (“Everything belongs to God” and “God offers to provide for all our needs, all we have to do is cooperate with the process”) we then started the practical part. Last Sunday we talked about “Giving”: What the Bible says about our tithe, and why tithing (or not tithing) matters to God. Tithing is really about our hearts, showing with our actions whether we truly trust God, or whether we trust in money more than we trust God.
Unfortunately, many churches stop here. They talk about tithing, but they don’t talk about the other 90%. That of course has all kinds of terrible consequences, both for the church members and the image of the church among non-Christians. But what many people don’t know: The Bible actually talks A LOT about the remaining 90% of our income as well. And this Sunday we will continue focusing on our second priority, after the tithe: Saving.
We all know in theory that “saving” is a good idea. Nobody wants their bank account to go below 0 just because our company pays us 2 weeks late. We all want to have the flexibility to quickly buy a gift for a friend who unexpectedly invited us to a birthday party. And if a friend invites us to a “quick weekend trip to the beach”, we would love to have the financial flexibility to say: “Sure, let’s go!” So in theory, we probably all agree: Saving is a good thing.
Actually, this is not just common sense, but something the Bible speaks about as well. The Bible commands us to save. And it makes it the 2nd priority. After tithing, we need to save.
But of course, there are a lot of questions that remain: How much do I need to save? What do I do with my savings? And what about the other side of the coin? What about debt? Is it OK to go into debt? In any situation? Or are there certain parameters that need to be met?
The trouble with these kinds of questions is that the Bible isn’t as specific as it is on the topic of “Tithing”. Tithing is one simple principle: 10% of our income. It applies to everybody, all the time, and it’s simple for anybody to understand what that means.
However, when it comes to savings, the Bible isn’t quite as specific. It gives us some great principles. But how these principles apply to specific people and situations can be quite different. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Bible does give us several important principles on this topic.
This Sunday, we will cover some of these principles together. And it will hopefully give all of us a few thoughts of inspiration to save as God wants us to save.
We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday: Money (Part 3)
We will continue our journey through the topic of “money” this coming Sunday. So far we have been looking at the foundations. God owns everything. We are not owners, but managers of God’s possessions. Our Faith is not directly connected to “how much money we have or make”. But our Faith is directly connected with our view of money. Jesus made it clear that we cannot be Christians and at the same time put our trust in money. Those two things are mutually exclusive.
Last Sunday we then looked at God’s promise to provide for all our needs (not all our wants). Everybody deals with “provisions” and “management”. In this world, we have to do both. We have to provide for ourselves, and then we manage what we made. But as Christians, God promised that He will do the “providing” part if we obey Him. One important aspect of “being obedient”: Managing money well. In God’s kingdom, money doesn’t start with “providing for ourselves”. It starts with “managing what we have”. A total different approach to money and possessions.
From this week we will then look more deeply into exactly this topic: Managing. And this can be divided into 3 main parts: 1) Giving 2) Saving and 3) Budgeting the rest.
This Sunday we will cover the first one: Giving (and if we have time, also “Saving”, but I’m not sure yet). What does the Bible say about “Giving”? Why should we give? Who should we give to? How much? Isn’t the concept of “tithing” something that people only did in the OT? And isn’t it unrealistic to tithe in today’s economy? I mean: Who can live in an expensive city like Munich on 90% of your income (Unless you’re super rich)?
That’s the kind of questions we will be looking at this Sunday. We hope you can join us.
Service this Sunday: Money (Part 2)
After the kickoff of our Money-Series last Sunday we will now look into another important aspect on this topic. And that is the relationship between “providing” and “managing”.
As discussed last Sunday, we all work towards stability. We want to be confident that “we’ll have a place to sleep, clothes to wear and food to eat tomorrow, next week and a year from now”. God created us with such strong desires in this area. And because with have such a strong desire within us, we will look for something or someone to give us that security. Most people look towards earthly things to find this security (job, riches, house, investment, insurances,…), and they’ll never know when it’s enough. But Jesus has a better way. He promised to provide for all our needs.
However, this promise has also been greatly misused by people who call themselves Christians. As mentioned in a sermon a few weeks ago, I have seen people who created A LOT of trouble within the church because they took this principle that “God provides” out of context and twisted it. They basically did whatever they wanted (incl. quitting their job) and then expected other Christians to pay for their bills. As you can imagine, this didn’t go too well. And it’s not what the Bible means when it says: “God provides.”
So this Sunday we will be looking at this whole aspect of “providing”. What does it mean that God provides for all our needs? Does that mean that we can just sit back, sleep the whole day and wait for the postman to give us a letter with money in it? Or is there a part for us to play? (Spoiler: Yes, there is!)
So that’s our topic for this Sunday. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service this Sunday: Money (Part 1)
As promised, this coming Sunday we will be starting a new sermon series. And the topic is: Money.
All of us need money. If you don’t need money, give yours to me. Because I need money. We need a place to live, which costs money (renting or buying, plus warm water, electricity, etc). We need to eat food, which costs money. We need to wear clothes, which cost money. We need to get to our university or workplace, which costs money. And that’s only our basic needs. And we haven’t even talked about anything that is not absolutely necessary. Let alone something like “flying somewhere for a holiday” or something like this.
We all need money. Nearly every day we spend some money. And it’s not a “nice thing to have”. Money is a necessity to survive.
Money is a good thing. Money is meant to be a blessing to us. There are people in the Bible who received financial blessings in direct connection to their Faith. In other words: BECAUSE they had great Faith, God blessed them with material blessings.
At the same time, there are also lots of people in the Bible who had great Faith, but not financial riches. Look at Paul, who gave up all financial blessings for the sake of Christ. Think about Naomi in the book of Ruth who seemed to have nothing left after losing her husband and sons. Think about Jesus, who had no material possessions whatsoever. Clearly, we cannot measure our spirituality by our worldly possessions. The so-called “Prosperity Gospel” (Good Christians become rich) is not Biblical at all.
So we all need money, some Christians have a lot of money, some people don’t have a lot. There is not necessarily a direct connection between “how much money I have” and “how good a Christian I am”. However, money and Faith are nevertheless very closely connected. Not the amount we have, but how we see money, how we pursue money, and what role money plays in our lives.
Jesus for example said these things:
Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Matthew 19:23-24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Paul also said something very profound on the topic of money:
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Solomon, one of (if not THE) richest person who ever lived on this earth could not handle all the wealth he had and was led astray by it. Job on the other hand was also a very rich person, but he had a very different attitude towards money than Solomon did.
So for the next few weeks, we’ll try to work our way through all these different aspects of money. We’ll start with our heart attitudes towards money, what a healthy view of money is. And once we have worked our way through these basics, we’ll move into the practical parts of money: Giving, Saving and Spending the rest.
We don’t know yet exactly how long this series will take. We’ll just get started, and when we’re done, we’re done.
As usual, if you have specific questions concerning the topic of money, then please let us know. We are still a relatively small church, which also has great advantages. One of them being: If one or two people in our congregation have a specific question, we have the flexibility to spend a whole Sunday talking about this particular question. So please let me know if you have a specific question concerning the topic of money, and we’ll make that part of this series as well.
One last comment: We had an amazing response to our fasting series, and many (if not all) members of the congregation mentioned that they would like to do some form of fasting. Some even made commitments to fast for the whole season of lent. Therefore, we do NOT provide snacks between now and Easter Sunday, to not tempt anybody. We provide the usual drinks, and we do provide snacks for the kids. But we do not provide snacks or dinner for the adults.
We would also like to ask everybody to not bring food in until Easter, since we purposely don’t want to provide food these Sundays. From Easter Sunday onwards, we will then come back to a “food/snack rotation”, similar to what we did before we moved to our new location. But until then, we will not provide any kind of food.
With all this being said: We are looking forward to worshiping with you again this coming Sunday, 3pm.
Service this Sunday: Fasting (Part 2)
It was really great to see how many of us have responded with excitement and anticipation to the topic of “Fasting”. In most churches, when you start talking about this topic, people give … well, let’s call them “not too enthusiastic” responses. But many people that I talked with after the last sermon were not only willing to give fasting a try, but were actually looking forward to it. That was a great encouragement. Because it shows that our church is taking God seriously. We are not just cherry-picking the things we like about God, and ignore the more challenging topics (like fasting). But we take God seriously and our highest priority is to please Him and our relationship with Him. And that is just wonderful to witness.
Now the topic is obviously not yet complete. We talked about biblical principles. We talked about the benefits of fasting (which are mostly not directly mentioned in the Bible). But there are still many important questions. What exactly is a fast? Am I fasting when I just skip one meal? Or is there a minimum duration of a fast? Is it a fast if I simply don’t eat …. chocolate? Or does it have to be exactly like one of the fasts we read about in the Bible? Is it also a fast if I fast on TV or internet or something like that? What if I committed to a 40 days fast, but after one week I just can’t take it anymore? And what if I get an invitation to a wedding in the middle of it? Can I make an exception in such case? Or will God be mad at me if I don’t fast the right way?
The good news is: There’s a lot of freedom. Think about prayer. There are principles in prayer (e.g. the framework Jesus has given us in the Lord’s Prayer). But how we implement those principles is different from person to person. The way you pray is very different from the way I pray, the words we use are very, very different. And the same is also true for fasting. There are Biblical principles that we need to consider. (“Just eating less” is not fasting) But as long as we are within that biblical framework, there is a lot of freedom. And the way you fast will probably not be the way I fast. And that’s OK.
So this Sunday, we’ll go into much more details on this principle. What exactly is the framework of a fast? And what freedom do we have within this framework?
These and similar questions we will discuss at our upcoming service. We are looking forward to seeing you there. And hopefully, encourage all of us to do some form of fasting in the upcoming season of lent.
Service this Sunday: Fasting (Part 1)
as announced last Sunday, we are taking a break from our “Verse by Verse” series and focus on something seasonal for the next two services: Fasting. The lent season is starting soon (March 06th) and many people (even non-religious people) use this time for some form of fasting. Some people give up chocolate and sweats during this time, others don’t eat meat. And some people go to more extreme measures during this time (e.g. no food at all until sunset). I grew up in a family where we did fast on certain days, e.g. Good Friday. But what really stuck with me was not so much the fasting. It was when I asked my parents: “Why do we not eat meat on this day?” And my parents could not give me an answer. Now looking back, they were basically trying to say that this is their tradition (and even that they couldn’t really put in proper words). But as a kid, I just didn’t understand AT ALL what they were doing (and by doing so: forcing me to join them). It was one of those strange encounters with religious activities that completely discouraged me from giving the church another chance.
The sad part is that it wasn’t just my family. Even today there are many people who have similar traditions. Some people don’t eat certain foods during lent. Some people have the habit of limiting their food options every Friday. Some people choose to abstain from certain foods on days like Good Friday. But if you asked them the same question I asked my parents (Why do you do this?) they would be as lost as my parents were trying to give an answer to the reason behind their custom. And hardly anybody would be able to point at the Bible and say: “This is why I am fasting.”
At the same time, the Bible is full of verses about fasting. David, Daniel, Esther, Jesus, the Apostles,… they all fasted. And Jesus even commanded us to fast several times. Fasting was not something for the “spiritual elite” or “those who have a special calling to fast”. It was clearly for everybody who called himself a follower of Christ.
So our society is missing something here. For most people, fasting means “not eating certain things”. But fasting is so much more than that. And has such great purposes that go far beyond simply “not eating”.
So over these next two services, we want to bring everybody back to the biblical principle on fasting. The first sermon this Sunday will talk about the Biblical principles and commandments. We’ll also talk about the spiritual benefits of fasting (Fasting is not an end in itself, but it’s a tool to great spiritual benefits for us, for the Glory of God). And then in the second sermon, we’ll talk about the practical ways in which we could fast.
Our hope is that we can encourage everyone to do some form of fasting during the season of lent. We understand that not everybody can do a “40 days, water only” fast (But we’re also not saying that you can’t do that). However, we do believe that everybody can do some form of fasting. And we’d like to encourage everyone to give this spiritual discipline a try in the weeks before Easter.
We hope we’ll see you this Sunday, 3pm.
Service this Sunday: Faith like Heroes
This Sunday we will conclude our “Verse by Verse” series for the moment. We will come back to this theme regularly, since reading the Bible “Verse by Verse” is a very important way of reading it. But at the same time, it’s not the only way of reading the Bible. So we’ll get into some more thematic series in the next few weeks: End February/Early March we’ll talk about Fasting. And then from March onwards, we’ll spend several weeks talking about money.
But for this week, we’ll look at a short passage one more time, taking it apart, verse by verse. And the passage for this week centers around a simple verse:
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Obviously, without context, this verse doesn’t make much sense. So let me give you a little bit of context. The whole chapter of Heb. 11 is often titled the chapter about the “Heroes of Faith”. A long list of people from the Old Testament who showed their great Faith in God through their actions. In the verses leading up to this main verse, the author mentions several people: Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain. Noah rescued mankind by being obedient to God’s calling. Abraham left his country and just went, without knowing where he was going. And Sarah is easily remembered for her failure (Giving Haggar to Abraham, to have a child with her). But I think we are making a huge mistake if we only focus on that part. Because when we really put ourselves in Sarah’s shoes, then we have to admit: She had a pretty tough calling. Abraham got a promise, but she had to deliver (quite literally). And God’s blessing of “being the mother of the nation of God” felt more like a burden, for many years.
All these men and women expressed their Faith through their actions. And all of them had several things in common. One major commonality: They did not see the fulfillment of the promise in this life. But by Faith, they still worked towards that promise and spent their whole lives pursuing a promise that they would not receive in this life.
So that’s this Sunday’s message in a nutshell. Of course, we’ll go into much more details on these Heroes of Faith, what they had in common. And also, we’ll talk about us, what we can learn from these heroes, and how their Faith can inspire us in the 21st century, to live out our Faith more fully as well.
We hope you can join us. 3pm, at the Aletheia office.
Service this Sunday: Counting your troops
2 Samuel 24:10 And David's heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in what I have done: and now, I beseech you, O LORD, take away the iniquity of your servant; for I have done very foolishly.
We have now decided on the sermon topics for the next few months. The next 2 Sundays, we will still do “Verse by Verse”, before we give that theme a break for the moment. (We’ll come back to this theme regularly). Then end of February/early March we will prepare ourselves for the season of lent by working through 2 sermons on the topic of “Fasting”. And then from mid-March onwards we will go through a money series. (That’ll probably take 1 ½ - 2 months or so as well). So as you can see, we won’t run out of things to talk about in the near future.
But before we look into the future, let’s focus on this coming Sunday. We will be studying 2. Sam. 24 together. Many of us know the story: David comes up with an idea: Let’s count all the people in the country! So he does. But as soon as he finished, he realized: He sinned in doing so! And as a result, God punishes the nation, and 70.000 Israelites die.
Many people struggle with this story. The main question is: Why was it sin? I mean, in Exodus 30, God gave instructions on “how to take a census”. Then in numbers 26:4, God commands Moses to take a census. Obviously, taking a census isn’t a bad thing in itself. But in David’s case, God responds VERY strongly to David’s decision. 70.000 people had to die. And all because David counted the people.
What on earth is going on here? Isn’t God overreacting here? (Spoiler: No, He isn’t) Did David really do something wrong here? (Spoiler: Yes, he did) Why was this such a serious sin that God felt the need to kill tens of thousands of Israelites? And isn’t God unfair here, killing innocent people when it was really David and him alone who made a mistake?
Well, if you are struggling with such questions, then join us this Sunday, Feb. 10th, 3pm. We’ll go through this chapter together and try to answer as many of these difficult questions as we can.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service this Sunday: Do not be anxious about anything!
Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
We will conclude our short “beginning of the year” series on “seeing the spiritual realm” this coming Sunday. So far we covered the principle of “seeing the spiritual realm” and “seeking God first”. Now we will look into another aspect around the same theme: Not being anxious.
All of us know situations that make us anxious. Some of us struggle a lot with anxiety, some less. But none of us can say that he/she has never been anxious. While we are to be realistic (acknowledging problems) Paul here tells us that worrying is sin.
I really like the way one preacher describes anxiety. He says: “Anxiety is the fear that God will not get things right in the end.” To me, that description answered so many questions I had. Yes, Christians are to be realistic and acknowledge: “There’s a problem!” Yes, Christians are to be realistic and say: “I am sick” or “I don’t have enough money” or “This relationship really isn’t what it’s supposed to be”. But: We do have an eternal promise. One day, God will get everything right and perfect, the way things were meant to be all along. And with that kind of hope, we can look at everyday’s problems in a different light.
So this Sunday we will dive more deeply into this text. Why is anxiety sin? What should we do instead when we feel that anxiety is overtaking us? Is Paul giving us a list of rules to follow in prayer? What are the reasons behind these “rules” that Paul is giving us?
If you sometimes feel anxious (that would be all of us), then we hope you can join us this Sunday.
Jan. 27th, 3pm, usual place.
In Christ’s love,
Service this Sunday: Seeking God first
Matthew 6:33-34 But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take thought of the things for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
We’re continuing our sub-series on “Seeking God first” this Sunday. Last Sunday we covered the foundations, the theory: Many non-Christians call us “unrealistic”, but in reality, we are more realistic than they. They only see the physical reality. But we, seeing the spiritual reality as well, can see situations more clearly and more completely. As Elisha saw the heavenly army that his servant couldn’t see, so we can see things non-Christians cannot see. And that gives us possibilities to be more realistic than others.
If you haven’t been able to join us last Sunday, we would like to encourage you to listen to the sermon again before this Sunday, since it’s really the foundation for the rest of the month.
So we covered the “what” we should do. But we didn’t cover the “how”. We are not supposed to be “unreasonable for the sake of unreasonable”. And many Christians struggle distinguishing between “my own wishes and desires” and “what God is saying”.
So for the next 2 sermons, we will be covering more of the “how”. And this week we will be studying Matt. 6:33-34, including its context (from verse 25 onward).
We all face constant struggles about our future. What career path should I take? Which job should I take? Who should I marry? How do I balance my time and responsibilities? How do I plan for my retirement? How much money should I save? And how much can I spend now on “nice things”? Should I buy a house? If yes, how much money should I spend on such a huge investment?
Can you relate to such questions? Well, most of us can. And from my experience, I can say: The older I get, the more I think about such things. Wife, children, age,… All of this causes me to think about these questions more and more. And the problem is: There are no objective answers. There are good guidelines. But there’s also a lot of freedom. Some people save more, others less. Some people put more effort into their work, others less. Some people buy bigger houses, others choose to stay in rented apartments. And the most obvious example: 2 men can both be seeking marriage, but they cannot marry the same person.
Most people are very worried about such questions. And since there is no obvious “this is exactly how to do it”, most people don’t know if they are on the right track. They basically make a decision today, but are still worried about whether they made the right decision. And a year later, they think that another decision would have been better. So people never find peace whether they will have enough money for retirement, whether they married the right person, whether they should have saved more money instead of going on a holiday, whether they bought the right house, etc. Their worries simply increase over time, and they eventually get completely consumed by their concerns.
Now the simply answer would be the same as last week: Seeing the spiritual realm, doing what God is telling us to do. But as simple as that sounds, let’s face it: It’s really, really difficult to live it out.
One guidance we get from Jesus on this topic is our main verse for this Sunday:
But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take thought of the things for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Our goal is that we can help all of us to make better decisions with Jesus for the rest of our lives.
This Sunday (1/13), 3pm at the Aletheia Worship place. We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday: Be realistic! God's Way!
2 Kings 6:15-17 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an army compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! what shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray you, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
Happy New Year. We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas time, resting in Jesus, celebrating the Hope He brings. As we get ready for the New Year, we will resume our “Verse by Verse” series this coming Sunday, Jan. 06th. And we will kick off this new year with a sub-series throughout the three services in January. We will focus on “seeking God”. It’s something we have been mentioning a lot in many sermons over the last few months. But we never really studied it and never really looked into the Biblical foundations for this principle. So throughout the month of January, we will be taking a closer look into this topic. We will start this Sunday with the passage above. The Title will be: “Be realistic! God’s Way!” And the other two Sundays we will be focusing on two related passages: Matt. 6:33-34 and Phil. 4:6-7. But for this week, our focus will be on the passage above in 2 Kings 6.
We all have different stories from our past. Some of us have been Christians all our lives. Some of us can very well remember a time when we have not been Christians. One common criticism that non-Christians often have towards Christians is this: “You guys are just not realistic!” For example, a Christian quits his job, goes to a different country and says: “I’m going to preach the gospel there. God will provide for me.” Assuming that this is really God’s calling for this person, he or she does the right thing. But a non-Christians might say: “You’re not realistic. You won’t have money to fly back and be stuck there, living on the streets of that country for the rest of your life!” Or if a person says: “I’m not going to date. I wait for God to tell me who to marry, and then we’ll get married.” The non-Christian might look at this person and come to the conclusion: “You’re not realistic. If you don’t date, you won’t get married.”
As you can see in these examples, there’s often a tension between Christians and non-Christians on “how to approach life”. And non-Christians then often accuse Christians of “being unrealistic”. But is that really the case?
Well, God doesn’t want us to be unrealistic. He wants us to see worldly realities just the way they are. Financial needs are real. Sickness is real. Death is real. Loneliness is real. War is real. God never told us to be unrealistic about these things. He wants us to see these things, and acknowledge them for what they are.
BUT: He also wants us to see ANOTHER reality. And that is the reality of the spiritual realm. As Elijah saw the spiritual realm in the passage above (and the servant later as well), so God wants us to see the spiritual reality as well.
So that will be our focus this Sunday. And over the next couple of services we will then also go deeper into “how we actually do that”. This week we’ll build the foundation, talk about “the theory”. Next two weeks we will then talk about the practicalities.
This Sunday (1/6), 3pm at the Aletheia Worship Room. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Christmas Service this Sunday, Dec. 23rd
We are looking forward to seeing you all again for our 2nd Christmas service this Sunday, Dec. 23rd. The topic for this week: “The Hope of Christmas”
This world is a difficult place to live in for Christians. Of course, the measure of “difficulties” varies greatly depending on the place we live. In some countries Christians live in constant danger of being executed if certain people find out they are Christians. For us in the Western World, we can enjoy a lot of freedom and protection in that aspect of life. But that doesn’t change the fact that we face challenges and struggles all the time. We face health issues and death, for ourselves and our loved ones. We face constant pressure from society to “conform to the majority”. We face uncertainties about our future, our jobs, our financial situation, etc. And then we look at the world at large, and we have to admit: There isn’t much hope there either. Poverty, injustice, crime, oppression,… Now to be fair: The news of course report mainly on the bad stuff, because it sells more. But still: Watching the news on TV can be very depressing. What we see isn’t hope. It’s the opposite.
So this Sunday, we will be focusing on the topic of “Hope”. What is the Hope that Jesus offers us? Is it the kind of hope that we use when we say: “I hope my favorite football club will win the game tomorrow”? Or is there something else to it? And how can this Hope that Jesus offers us make a difference to our lives today?
We are looking forward to worshipping with you again this Sunday.
Service this Sunday: Should I even celebrate Christmas?
We will take a short break of our “Verse by Verse” series for the 2 Christmas services (We’ll continue that series again on Jan. 6th). But for these 2 Sundays, we will be focusing on two Christmas related topics. On the 23rrd, we will be focusing on the Hope that Jesus brings, that the Christmas Season should remind us of. But for this Sunday, we will be looking at a very simple question: Should I celebrate Christmas? Because if we look at today’s culture, we will have to admit that “something isn’t right with Christmas”. Let me try to explain a bit by describing the different seasons that I went through experiencing Christmas.
As a child, I was fascinated by that magical atmosphere. The advent season that leads up to Christmas, that got me and my friends totally excited. Christmas trees, decorations, the special atmosphere. To make it all perfect, we sometimes had snow outside. And then of course the highlight: Christmas Eve, with all the gifts. For 1 – 2 months a year, my whole life was centered around one simple thought: Christmas. Is that what Christmas is all about?
Then I got a bit older, and that excitement started to fade. I knew what to expect. Decorations, etc. became the norm, it wasn’t magical any longer. I chose my own gifts, what I wanted my parents to buy me, so that wasn’t really exciting any longer either. I still looked forward to it, but it wasn’t that special any longer.
In my teenage years, I started to hate Christmas. Because it was a time when I realized that our family relationships weren’t that great. And Christmas was the time when that became most obvious. Sitting politely around a table, eating together, not having much to say to each other,… It was just awkward. And I really wanted to get away from that as soon as possible. When I got a bit older and started living by myself, I was expected to return to my parents’ home for Christmas. Having to buy gifts for them (out of duty, not out of love) was the worst part of Christmas. But as soon as the 26th was over, I went back to my own place, and at least I could enjoy the rest of the holidays by myself, with my friends.
Then I went to Shanghai. And suddenly, I got all emotional over Christmas again. Mainly because in China, there is no real Christmas. Once you stepped outside the church building, there was no difference to any other day. People went to work, people went shopping, TV didn’t mention Christmas at all,… It simply didn’t exist. For 50 weeks a year, I never missed Germany, would never have wanted to go back. But for those 2, 3 weeks in December/January, I got sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo emotional and just wanted to be home.
Then we moved back to Germany and I thought: Now I can finally have a “real Christmas” again. Just to realize how cultural Christmas is in Germany. My last Christmas before Shanghai was in 2003. Back then I was not a Christian. When I celebrated Christmas again in Germany in 2016, I realized: This is just culture. Hardly anybody is truly celebrating Jesus here. And many of those who do, they are more influenced by the cultural stuff than by Jesus Himself.
As you can see, I have gone though all kinds of emotions when it comes to Christmas. And the reason why I went through all these emotions is simple: For most of these years, I didn’t really celebrate Christmas for what it is. I was so caught up in the cultural stuff, in the environment, in the surroundings of Christmas,… that I completely missed the point of what it was really all about. And the question we will be looking at this Sunday is a simple one, yet one that we should take very, very seriously: Should I even celebrate Christmas? Because I believe that most people who do celebrate, should actually not.
If you don’t know what I mean by that, then join us this Sunday, 3pm. We will also have a time of dinner and fellowship after the service. So please invite your friends and offer to come along with them.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Some admin stuff for this Sunday
Just a few admin things for this Sunday, for our Christmas Outreach service.
- Invite as many people as possible. Christmas Services (with an emphasis on “dinner afterwards”) are often a unique opportunity to interest people for a service. Under these special circumstances, some people are willing to join you who wouldn’t join a church service 50 Sundays a year (the other one is Easter Sunday)
- Bring a small dish that does NOT need to be heated. After the service we will eat at the office. But please consider that we have very limited kitchen facilities (small stove, no microwave). Therefore, it won’t be possible for all of us to reheat the food we brought. Therefore, we decided that we all bring dishes that do not need further preparations (salads, drinks, Christmas cookies, etc). The main and warm dishes, we will order in.
- Friday night we will do some more of the setup at the office. If you have time, you are welcome to join us.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
In Christ’s love,
Service this Sunday: 2. Sam. 11 (David and Bathsheeba)
2 Samuel 11:1-4 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. And it came to pass in an evening, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.
We’ll continue our “Verse by Verse” series this coming Sunday (12/2) by looking at an Old Testament story many of us are familiar with. King David committing adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Urriah, the Hittite. A sad story, with terrible consequences, but a wonderful outcome many generations later. This short story tells us so much about God, His hatred for sin, His grace, and how He can turn terrible sin into something beautiful and make it part of His perfect plan. We’ll touch on all those aspects in this week’s sermon too. But the main focus of this week’s sermon will be something else: What were the circumstances under which King David committed this terrible sin?
It’s an aspect in this story that is easily overlooked. Because David made several mistakes long before the actual sin ever happened. Let me just give you the first one: David didn’t do his duty. Verse 1 clearly says that it was the time for kings to go forth to battle. David was not just A king. He was THE king of Israel. And so, instead of being an example to the rest of the country, he was lazy and let someone else do the job he was supposed to do.
Do you see a connection here? When we’re faithful to what God wants us to do, there’s a certain blessing that God grants us. That blessing can include protection from temptation or strength over temptation. When we are not faithful, that blessing may not be granted by God. In turn, temptations become stronger and/or our ability to resist temptation might get weakened.
Do you see that David’s first misstep took place weeks or months before he actually fell? If he had done what he was supposed to do (going into battle), this whole situation could have been avoided. But since he didn’t, he opened the door for the temptation to come to him many weeks or months later.
This was David’s first misstep he took. But there are several more that he took, long before the adultery itself ever happened.
So this Sunday, we will take these four verses apart in greater detail. And of course, we will also talk about the practical applications: What kind of circumstances lead us into tempting situations? (Btw: We’re talking about ANY kind of temptation, not just about sexual sin) And what can we do so that we don’t even come into situations where we are tempted?
So that’s what we will be focusing on this coming Sunday. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
In Christ’s love,
We'd like to hear your thoughts on the small group from January onwards
As mentioned at our Vision Partner Meeting last Saturday, there will be some significant changes coming up from January onwards. One of them: We will move to 3 services per month (and then hopefully soon 4). That’s a good thing. But it has a side effect: We cannot hold our small group in the “off Sundays” between services any longer. The small group will have to move to a different day and/or time.
There are of course several things we need to consider here. We have singles in our midst and we have parents. We have those with a pretty fixed schedule, and those who have very unpredictable schedules, due to work. We have those who have more time throughout the week and less during the weekend, and we have those where it’s exactly the other way around. Consequently, there are many different things to consider. For example:
- Do we want to keep running one small group? Or do we want to multiply to two?
- If we run two: Who could lead one of them? (Bernd could lead one, but not two each week)
- Where do we host this group/these groups? Is there a reason to use a place other than the office? If yes, who would be willing to host?
- What setup works best for the families? (We certainly don’t want just one person being able to join all the time, while the other is always at home, taking care of the kids)
- Would it make sense to run a small group for men and one for women on different days of the week/different times?
- What day(s) of the week are best? Which one(s) are impossible?
That’s the kind of questions that are going on in our heads right now. And obviously, we can’t answer these questions by ourselves, without hearing from everyone what you guys think.
With this being said, we would like to ask everyone to think and pray over these questions. We will then spend some time at our small group this Sunday (11/25) to share our initial thoughts. We don’t have to make a decision yet (though if we can, that would be great). But we would definitely like to hear from each person some initial thoughts, what is preferred, what is possible, and what is not.
Now we will probably not be able to accommodate everybody perfectly. But we do hope that if we all share our opinions this Sunday, we can find a solution with which everybody is happy.
If you can’t join us this Sunday, it would be great if you could tell us ahead of time what your thoughts are, so that everybody’s opinion will be considered as we discuss.
With this being said, we are looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic.
Thank you very much.
In Christ’s love,
Service this Sunday: 2. Tim. 3 (Verse by Verse)
2 Timothy 3:14-17 But continue in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them; And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
This Sunday (11/18) we will be having our next Sunday Service. And we will continue our series called “Verse by Verse”. We started with a story about Jesus, Mary and Martha. Then we looked at a totally different type of literature: We studied Biblical poetry from Psalm 1. Now we again look at a completely different type of genre: A letter. To be more exact: A pastoral letter. From Paul to Timothy.
A bit of background: Paul was Timothy’s mentor. For many years they ministered together. Paul clearly saw Timothy as someone who would “take over his ministry one day”. Most scholars believe that this letter was actually the last of the 13 letters in the New Testament that Paul wrote. He makes several mentions of his upcoming death. So clearly, in Paul’s heart and mind, he is trying to give some final advice to his mentee. Some final words to help Timothy to keep on carrying the torch that Paul can no longer carry.
As part of these final teachings and admonitions, Paul writes the passage above. He is warning Timothy of the many lies that will come to him and the challenges he will face. And he is giving Timothy the one and only tool to keep going: Scripture! The Bible! To put it in my own words in the 21st century, Paul is saying this to Timothy: “You cannot lead others in God’s ways if you don’t learn, study and embrace God’s Word. Or to be more exact: You won’t even be able to remain a Christian yourself if you don’t stand on God’s Word all the time!”
Now this was a warning that Paul was giving to Timothy, a person who, by today’s standards in the Western World, was a very, very faithful and trustworthy Christians. We could probably think of some “world famous preachers” (the “real Christian ones”, not the pseudo preachers) who get paid tons of money for speaking at different churches and who have to be booked in for months or years ahead of time. That was Timothy during his time. He was well respected, trained by Paul himself, knowledgeable, wise,… All of that. But Paul is saying to this very person: “If you don’t abide in God’s Word, you won’t make it!”
If that’s what Paul is saying to Timothy, what about us? How can we claim to be able to live without reading God’s Word? I’ve heard many comments like: “God speaks to me directly, I don’t need the Bible.” or “I know enough already” or “I listen to sermons, that’s enough”. But if we take this verse in any way seriously, we have to admit: These are all lies, straight from the devil!
So this Sunday, we will dive deeper into these verses. Why is the Bible so important? And how do we use it?
We hope we can welcome you there. We meet at 3pm, as usual. Also, remember we will be meeting at our new Worship location on Landsberger Strasse. (This week is the last time I’ll mention this in these announcements.)
In Christ’s love,
Service this Sunday (+ Vision Partner Information Meeting) at new location
Psalms 1:1-6 Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
This Sunday we will continue our journey through the topic of “Verse by Verse”. At our last service and during our small group, we looked at Luke 10, the story of “Mary and Martha”. A story that at first sight just seems to be a strange conversation between Jesus and two sisters from 2000 years ago. But as we looked at it in great detail, we realized how deep this story actually is, and how real Martha is to all of us in every day’s life.
Now we’ll continue this same approach of reading the Bible on a totally different type of writing: Poetry. And we’ll study Psalm 1 in a similar fashion. Studying each verse (and sometimes each word) and trying to dig deep on its meaning.
Let me start with the very first word here (This will be the first couple of minutes of the sermon): “Blessed is the man that …”
This Psalm gives us guidelines on how we can live a blessed life in this world. The original word behind the word “Blessed” in the English Bible is the following:
happiness; only in masculine plural construction as interjection, how happy!:—blessed, happy.
It’s something we are all looking for, isn’t it? We want to live a blessed/happy life. We want to live a fulfilled life. We want to enjoy life. But if I can talk a little bit about myself: I’ve been looking for that happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction in many wrong places. Just to get disappointed over and over again. And if I claim that I don’t do that any longer today, I’d be lying.
So this Psalm gives us very simple principles on “how to live a blessed life”. And this Sunday, we will look at this Psalm in greater detail, learning what we ought to do (and what shouldn’t do) to live the kind of life that Jesus intended us to live.
Also, as already announced:
- We will have this service in our new location: Landsberger Str. 404. Please plan in some extra time to get there. (Going to a new place always takes a little bit longer than going to a place we’ve already been many times)
- Our Vision Partner Information Meeting will take place at 2pm, same location. So anybody who wants to hear more about “what it takes to be a Vision partner” is welcome to join us 1h early.
- We invite everybody to join us for the setup on Saturday, 9am at the new location.
We are looking forward to celebrating with all of you
Service this Sunday: Mary and Martha (Verse by Verse)
greetings from Madrid. I’m currently attending the FEIC Pastors’ Conference, and it’s a great time to be refreshed and connect with other International Church Pastors in different cities in Europe. I’ll tell you more about it on Sunday.
This Sunday we will start a new Sermon Series, called “Verse by Verse”. Over the next few weeks and months we will study some stories and chapters from the Bible “Verse by Verse”. It is easy to just “read the Bible, because we know we ought to”. So we read 1, 2, 3 or 4 chapters just so that we can tell ourselves: “I’ve done my duty, I’ve ready my Bible today.” That’s not bad, but there’s a better way. And that is: Reading the Bible verse by verse, taking time to really draw out as much as possible from each verse. And that’s what we will be doing over the next few services. We’ll look at some stories from Jesus, we will read some chapters from the New Testament Epistles, we’ll study a couple of Psalms and we’ll also look through some Old Testament Stories, what they tell us about God and how they apply to us. We will also deepen this whole theme by studying other passages together in the same manner in our small group. Our goal is of course that we will all receive some new tools to really go deep with our Bibles and receive God’s Word more richly.
So that’s the theme. And we’ll kick it all of by studying a story of Jesus when He meets Mary and Martha in Luke Chapter 10:
38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Simple, short story. But it tells us so much about Jesus and what He truly wants from us. Did you ever hear someone say that “I’m going to do this FOR God!”? I have. I have also had a season in my life where I myself acted like this. Whole churches and denominations have fallen into the trap of doing something “for God”. The only trouble is: This story clearly tells us that we shouldn’t do anything FOR God. (And if you combine this passage with other passages, it becomes clear that we CANNOT do anything FOR God.) All we should (and can) do is do things WITH God. And that’s something completely different. Might sound like mincing words. But when we understand the difference between the two approaches, we will realize that there’s a HUGE difference between the two approaches.
So this Sunday we will take these 5 verses apart and study them in great detail. We will also make a couple of cross-references to other passages, but we’ll mainly be focusing on this short story.
Usual place at 3pm. We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday: Relationships within the Church
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.
We are coming to the end of our “Relationships and Family” series. Hard to believe that we started this series at the end of April already. We kicked it off with some Biblical foundations, looked more closely into the topics of anger and forgiveness, and then journeyed through the different life seasons together: Singleness, how to biblically move from singleness to marriage, marriage life and parenting.
Now to wrap it all up, we will look at one more specific topic. And that is the importance of relationships in general. Not just family relationships. But relationships within the church, with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Bible speaks again and again of the importance of the Christian community. The verse above is one of the clearest statements (but not the only one) we can find in the Bible: It is impossible to be a Christian without sharing life with other Christians. Going to church is not a sign of being a Christian. Listening to sermons at home is not a sign of being a Christian. Most people practicing such a “Christian life” are probably not Christians at all and don’t live the kind of life that the Bible requires of a Christian. And if that is the case, they will find out that they are disqualified from God’s kingdom when they meet Jesus.
So the Bible is very clear on this: Genuine Christians live in community with one another.
But just because it is important to be part of the community doesn’t mean that it’s easy. There’s always that one person in our small group who really annoys us. That one person who just bugs us the way he talks. The one person who always talks about his hobby that we’re not interested in. The one person who <fill in the blank>.
We are always caught in this struggle. We need community. We want community. We know we are supposed to live in community. But more often than not, we also have this thought in us that tells us: “Community is too difficult, not worth it, too complicated, too annoying with that person around,… and btw: I don’t get much out of it anyways. So it’s easier if I just don’t live in community and live my own Christian life without others.” We all have these thoughts at times. But then we have a choice: We can give in to these thoughts, and endanger our own salvation. Or we can say: “I’ll do what is right, even though I don’t always feel like it.”
So this Sunday we will look more closely at the topic of the Christian Community, and what it really means to be part of it. To sum it all up: Community is a major indicator whether a person is a genuine Christian. (But don’t let this summary prevent you from coming this Sunday. *haha*)
We hope to see you there.
Service + Dinner this Sunday (09/23)
This Sunday we will be concluding our sub-series on parenting (And then one more message 2 weeks later to conclude the whole “Families and Relationships” series). We looked at how our own childhood affects our parenting. Then we looked at what the Bible says about disciplining our children. In our small group we then studied what the Bible says about “How (not) to correct one another within the body of Christ”. Now we will look at one more topic when it comes to parenting: How do we prepare our children for the future? A question that many parents are asking goes something like this: “In school the classmates of our children talk a lot about <fill in the blank>. I don’t want my child to be exposed to these things yet. What should I do?” Be it sex, drugs, unhealthy music, gossip,… Every Christian parent who raises their kids in Germany will soon be confronted with this kind of stuff. Homeschooling is illegal. So it’s only a matter of time until parents are forced to deal with stuff they don’t want to deal with yet.
There are two ways which definitely do not work, even though many parents try. One is to overprotect their children. They simply try to prevent their children from ever being exposed to drugs, pornography, etc. And they think that by simply pretending that these things don’t exist, they protect their children from them. Well, that might work for a 5 year old. We can fool ourselves that it still works for a 10 year old (By then the child will have found a way to sneak around mom and dad and find these things, without the parents ever noticing). But by the time the child is 15, we simply have to admit: We have no way to prevent our children from going after these things any longer. If they want these things, they’ll get them, and we can’t stop them any longer. With this “overprotection” approach, we can win the short-term battle. But we’ll lose the war 5, 10, 15 years down the road. This approach simply cannot work.
The other approach: Let the children experience these things, so they can figure out themselves that this is bad stuff. They’ll eventually learn that this is bad stuff. And then they won’t do it any longer. Well, by the time our children realize that this is bad, it might already be too late. An unwanted pregnancy might already be there. A person could already be addicted to drugs or pornography that takes years or decades to overcome. So obviously, such an approach will lead to similar devastating results to the first one when our children are young adults.
So this Sunday we will be looking at some Biblical principles on how to prepare our children for the future. How can we prepare our children for the time when they are adults and we don’t have control over them any longer, without falling into one of the two traps mentioned above? It’s a tough call. But the Bible does give us some great guidance on this topic.
After the service, we will have dinner together. If you have time, please stay back for some time after the official part and enjoy a meal with your brothers and sisters.
We are looking forward to seeing you Sunday. 3pm, usual place.
Service this Sunday
This Sunday we’ll continue our journey through the topic of parenting. And we’ll talk specifically about “how to discipline our children”. But even if you are not a parent right now, it will still be a very relevant topic. Because even though we don’t discipline everybody around us like we discipline our children we can apply some of the principles from “disciplining our children” to other areas of our lives as well.
We all know that parents have the responsibility to discipline their children. Parents need to train their kids, impart values to them, tell them what is good, what is OK, and what is not ok. We have all seen other people’s children that were completely out of control and we could quickly see: “His/her parents did not do a good job in disciplining this child”. And most of us have probably also seen children that were so over-controlled by their parents that we just had to think: “Do these parents give any freedom to the child? Looks more like this child is getting punished if he/she is is looking out of the window without asking for permission from the parents first.”
There are of course two biblical commands that on first sight seem to contradict each other. One is to love the children unconditionally. The other is to discipline the children. By human wisdom, these two commands seem to contradict each other. And yes, if we love our children, without disciplining them, the children will get out of control. (Actually, the Bible even says that “parents who don’t discipline their children hate their children”!) If we discipline our children without love, they will eventually hate the parents, and do everything they can to break free from their control as soon as possible.
So the answer is not: ”Should I love my children OR should I discipline them?” The question is: “How can I show unconditional love to my children WHILE I’m disciplining them?”
Tough call. But that’s what God wants us to do. Not out of our own strength. But because that’s how He disciplines us. And if we experience that kind of love from our heavenly Father, we can show the same to our own children. Not perfectly. But our parenting and disciplining will be rooted and grounded in the experience of our own personal relationship with God.
And, like I said before: This sermon is not only for parents. We can use some of these principles we will discuss this Sunday in other relationships as well.
We hope you can join us. 3pm, usual place.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Service (8/26): Parenting
Our series on “Relationships & Families” is now coming to its last major topic. We focused on some general Biblical foundations when it comes to any kind of relationships. Then we focused on the seasons of singleness and marriage. Now we will focus for 2 – 3 sermons on the season of Parenting, before we then close the whole series with one final sermon on the general importance of family and relationships within the Body of Christ.
To be honest, I’m not so sure yet what exactly I will be focusing on in this sermon. But here are a few topics we will be covering over these 2 -3 sermons.
- Parents have a great responsibility to teach and live out in front of their children who God is. Sounds impossible? It is, unless His Spirit lives in us.
- Most of us are not aware of how much our parents are still influencing us even when we are 30, 40 or even 70 years old. Most people carry the things we loved about our parents, as well as the things we hated, throughout the rest of our own lives, and pass it to our own children. A step that everybody needs to take (but most people don’t): We need to analyze our childhood, receive healing for the things that didn’t go the way they should have been, so we don’t pass on the same issues to our own children.
- Disciplining children is a mystery, and we all get that wrong at times. We are to show God’s unconditional love to children, as well as His hatred towards sin. An impossible task, unless God guides us.
- Our marriage has priority over our children. It’s so easy to get this wrong, esp. when our kids are so small and take all our time and energy, just to keep them alive. But we mustn’t fall in the trap of giving it all to our kids, and having nothing left for our marriage.
- In every marriage, the father and mother bring different things to the table when it comes to parenting. If they do it right, they use their different abilities to reflect God in a more complete way together.
We hope we can welcome you on Sunday, August 26th, 3pm, usual place.
Service this Sunday: Nothing but Sex!
after a very emotional weekend of three young man being baptized and having to say goodbye to Angelo & Phoenix, we will be continuing our relationships series this coming Sunday. And we’ll study a topic that I assume is of great interest to nearly everyone: Sex!
Let me just share a bit of my personal story. Growing up in a conservative church, I knew the one thing that every non-Christian gets confused or offended about when it comes to “the church and sex”: Sex is reserved for the context of marriage. For many years, I wanted to keep this commandment. Simply because “this is what I was taught”. But throughout the years, I saw some of my friends who didn’t wait. And they talked to me about “how great their sexual experiences were”. So I asked myself: “Why should I wait?” And I had to admit to myself: My belief that sex should be reserved for marriage wasn’t really my own belief. The only “reason” for waiting I had was that someone else told me to wait. But I had nothing else. Nobody could explain to me why it’s good to wait, or why it’s bad to not wait. Those guys sharing their sexual experiences sounded soooooooooooooooooooo happy and fulfilled. The combination of all these facts brought me to the point where I decided to no longer follow what my church had taught me as a child.
A few years later I became a Christian. One of the first big changes in my lifestyle was that I decided to return to the Biblical command about “reserving sex for the context of marriage”. At first, I still couldn’t understand the “why”s behind it. But I chose to follow the commandment anyways. And throughout the months and years to come, I gained a much deeper understanding on this topic. Here are a few things I learned/experienced throughout the years:
- Those sexual encounters during the years before I was a Christian have troubled my marriage for a long time. The effects of them outlasted the relationship by many, many years.
- The Bible actually has a consistent theme on this topic. And it gives great reasons for waiting for the right time (not just the commandment itself)
- The average church today does a lousy job teaching on this topic (most of them not talking about it at all). No wonder single Christians are very confused about it and don’t really know what they can and should not.
- Having waited for the right time during our engagement time has built a great foundation of trust between my wife and myself.
- The breakdown in healthy marriages and family, esp. in the Western World, over the last few decades can be directly linked to the so called “sexual revolution”. When society decided to throw out God’s principles on this topic, we created major problems for ourselves (Divorce rates went through the roof, children grow up in unhealthy households, sexually transmitted diseases become an ever increasing problem, etc)
This is a pretty serious topic. There is a reason why God is so strict on this. In the Old Testament, the commandment was to stone a person who was caught in adultery. In the New Testament, God says that “sexually immoral people will not be allowed into heaven”. So we can clearly see that God puts an extremely high value on this simple commandment: “Sex is reserved for the context of marriage.”
So this Sunday, we will look into this topic in much more detail. The Biblical description of sex. The reasons behind this commandment to wait until marriage. The consequences for breaking this commandment (both in this life and in eternity).
We hope you can join us this Sunday, 3pm. Also, it could be a great week to invite a friend or two, since this is obviously a topic that many people are interested in, Christians and non-Christians alike.
We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Baptism + Farewell this Saturday
Aletheia’s very first baptism is happing this Saturday, August 04th. Andre, Quirin and Noah want to make this public declaration of their Faith this Saturday.
Unfortunately, it will also be a time to say goodbye to Angelo & Phoenix, since they will be leaving Munich within the next few weeks as well, potentially as early as the 12th.
We hope you can all join us for these two very special occasions.
Here are the details:
We’re meeting at the “Flaucher”. Since it’s going to be quite full on a hot Saturday in August, we will have to be a bit flexible on “where exactly we can do the baptism”. For this reason, we’ll meet in front of the “Zum Flaucher” Biergarten at 5pm.
(We won’t eat there, it’s just an easy place to find each other)
My family and I will go earlier and try to find a spot that is suitable for this special event, and then we can all walk there together. If you can’t be there on time, you can always contact me via phone or WhatsApp and we’ll direct you to the place we’re meeting. (0176/34330981)
We’ll start with a small baptism ceremony and do the actual baptism. After that we’ll start the barbecue. During this more “informal part”, we’ll give everybody a chance to say something to Angelo & Phoenix and their family for all that they have done for Aletheia in the last 1 ½ years. The whole event is open-end, we’ll simply finish when we feel like going home.
What to bring:
- Bring a prayer for those who are getting baptized. We’ll have a time when we will pray over them together, and if you feel comfortable, you can also pray out loud for them during that time. (No must, of course)
- Bring some words of gratitude that you can share with Angelo & Phoenix. And a prayer for them as well.
- Bring a friend (or two, or three). This is an open event for anybody, and a great chance for people to get to know us who wouldn’t feel comfortable coming to a Sunday Service. (A “Church Barbecue with Baptism” sounds less scary than a “Church Service”)
- Bring enough food for you and those you are inviting. We’ll bring the barbecue, but everybody is responsible to bring his/her own food. So feel free to bring meat, cheese, pasta, salads,… Anything that goes well on a barbecue or a side that goes well with stuff that goes on the barbecue.
- Bring whatever you would like to bring to this kind of outdoor event. If you want to go in the water, bring a set of change. Bring a football, frisbee, etc. Anything you can use outdoors.
Any questions, please feel free to contact me on or before Saturday. We are looking forward to this special day with all of you.
In Christ’s love,
Service this Sunday: My spouse is still like an alien
Our next service is approaching fast. This Sunday we will continue our topic from last time. The last sermon and small group time yesterday focused on the differences between men and women. Society in general is trying to tell us that “there are no (or only very little) differences between the genders”. But if we only took a group of 20 men and 20 women and asked them the same questions, we would realize how different the genders actually are. Let me just ask one question along the lines of the topic from the last sermon: “If you had to choose between two situations, which one would you pick? Being stranded alone on an island for life, or being among people who disrespect you?” More than 80% of men would pick the island, while around the same percentage of women would pick the “disrespectful community”. Such simple questions to a big enough group very easily disprove the misconception that “men and women are basically the same”.
Now this week we will go deeper on this topic and look at some more of our differences. To get started, let me just give you a simple list of needs we all have:
- Domestic support
- Honesty and openness
- Sexual fulfillment
- Family commitment
- Financial support
- Physical attractiveness
- Recreational companionship
- Intimate conversations
We all would like to have these 10 things in our marriage. But the order of importance for each person is totally different. And, as you might have guessed: The average man’s Top 5 needs are the bottom 5 needs of the average woman. And of course, vice versa as well. The order is of course different from person to person. But once you have a big enough group, you’ll be surprised how much people of their own gender agree with each other on their top needs, and how much they differ from the priority of the other gender.
So if we think that we should simply shower our spouse with what our top need is, there is a very, very high chance that we are completely missing the boat. Very often, our own top need is nowhere near the top of our spouse’s list. And if we are not aware of these differences, if we don’t talk about them, if we simply assume that “because this need is so important to me, it must be important to my spouse as well”,… then we’ll soon run into a lot of hurt, disappointment and frustration.
So this Sunday we will look at a similar topic to that from our last sermon. But we’ll look at it from a very different angle and make the whole picture more complete. We hope you can join us this Sunday, July 29th, 3pm.
Also, the following week we will have our first Aletheia Baptism. August 04th in the afternoon. Unfortunately, it will also be a time of saying goodbye to Angelo & Phoenix, as they will be moving to India in August. We hope you can join us for these two special occasions. Details to come.
Service this Sunday: My spouse, the alien
After the wonderful celebration we had last week, we’re now going back to our relationships series. The last couple of sermons we looked specifically at the season of singleness: What the Bible says about singleness, and how we can biblically move from friendship to marriage.
Now we’ll move on to the next season in life, and that is of course marriage. We’ll focus on this season for the next 3 sermons or so. (Quick spoiler alert, to keep everybody interested: One of these “marriage sermons” will be about sex! One whole sermon only on this topic! *hehe*)
We all know that the average marriage on the Western World today is not what it is supposed to be. The Bible is full of descriptions on “how wonderful marriage is supposed to be like”. But let’s be honest: How many marriages do you know that you would describe as a “really good marriage”? If you can say that your parents have that kind of marriage, then you are very fortunate, most of us cannot say that. Divorce rates are now at ~50% in many parts of the world. And of those who do make it for life, there is a very high percentage of marriages that look more like housemates than a husband/wife relationship.
Is it then any surprise that people look for alternatives? If marriage obviously doesn’t seem to work any longer (if it ever did), people start filling that hole with other stuff. That’s why we have the mess we have today. The staggering increase of same-sex-marriages has its root in the fact that people don’t see “real marriages” working any longer. People refuse to make life-long commitments because they don’t want to end up like all the other marriages they see. A huge mess in today’s world. Simply because there are hardly any healthy marriages any longer.
We as the church have a major responsibility (and opportunity) here to make a difference. Because the way the Bible describes marriage is not that “love will fade over time, and you eventually just have to stay with the other person because God told you to”. On the contrary: The Bible actually says that love, excitement and exhilaration in marriage can increase over the years (not decrease).
So this week, we’ll start looking at some of the things that Bible says about “how marriages can thrive over years and decades”. And this Sunday, we’ll start by looking at something that should be very obvious, but the Western World seems to have forgotten: God created us male and female. And we are quite different. Let me just give you a simple example: How many husbands have ever said: “Just talking with my wife, just for the sake of talking, is very, very fulfilling to me!” Probably not many (at least not after the honeymoon stage). But if you asked the wives the same question, a much higher percentage would say: “Yes, just talking with my husband for hours is very, very special to me”. Now let’s turn that around: How many women feel easily tempted if they see a naked man in a TV spot? While we can’t generalize and simply say that “all men are like this” and “all women are like that”, we can certainly say: The average husband has a much harder time resisting such visual temptations than the average woman. (We seem to have forgotten this, but the advertisement industry hasn’t. It is capitalizing on this fact every single day!)
Why is this so important? It matters, because many of us make a crucial mistake: We think that our spouse is just the way we are. If I like flowers, I think my spouse likes flowers too, so I give a lot of flowers, and think he/she will be happy when I do that. If I like sports, I think that my spouse likes sports too, and I initiate doing a lot of sports together. Since I feel happy, I assume that my spouse feels as happy as I do. If I like sex, I initiate a lot, and feel happy. And then I assume that my spouse likes sex just as much as I do. And then after 1, 2 or 5 years into marriage, we are suddenly shocked when our spouse tells us: “Actually, to be honest: I don’t like flowers.” Or Sports. Or sex. And suddenly, our world falls apart. And we wonder: “How could we be married for all these years, and so misunderstood each other?”
Or the other possibility: Maybe we never notice. We just keep on giving what we would like to receive. And we don’t understand why the other person doesn’t respond to our “show of love”. So we try harder and harder, but nothing changes. And eventually, we simply give up.
Simple misunderstanding. But the consequences are huge!
So this Sunday we will look at some of the differences between the genders. Like I said, we can’t generalize every detail for every person. Every person is different. But nevertheless: When we take a big enough group of men and women, we will be surprised at “how different the average man is from the average woman”. Some of the points will come straight from the Bible. Some of them will be based on research from psychologists. But everything will be practical, and if we apply these principles, we can have a much deeper (future) marriage, for the glory of God.
We hope you can join us. 3pm, usual place.
Please don’t forget to keep your eyes open for a place for our Sunday Services. Unfortunately, we have gotten a lot of negative responses recently and currently no promising leads. Please pray with us and ask around in your circle of influence.
Service this Sunday: From Friendship to Marriage
We’ll continue our journey on the topic of “Relationships and Family” this Sunday. Over the last few weeks we have talked about healthy boundaries in our cross-gender friendships. Then we have looked at what the Bible says about “Singleness”. At our small group we then dug a lot deeper on the whole topic of “idols”, how easy it is to make marriage our idol, and how much God hates idols we have in our hearts, etc.
But we haven’t looked at one important question yet: With all these boundaries towards people of the other gender, with all requirements God has for us before we can get married, with the Bible telling us that “singleness is a gift”,… What should I do if I actually meet someone that I am attracted to? I’m supposed to keep healthy boundaries. I’m supposed to enjoy being single. So does that mean that I should just do nothing? Is it bad if I am attracted to someone else? Should I just do nothing and simply wait for God to somehow, miraculously bring us together? Should I simply deny how I am feeling? Well, unfortunately in some church circles, singles generally receive such messages.
And then there is “what everybody else does”. When we like someone, we just start a relationship and then we see whether it’ll work out. Just go with “what feels good at the moment”. If it involves touching, kissing, sex,… then just do it (as long as it’s consensual). What feels good can’t be wrong. Such attitudes have unfortunately become the norm over the last few decades. And because it’s so normal (everybody does it) a lot of churches have also adopted such behavior as normal and acceptable. We’re not looking at the Bible first. We now use what the world does as the foundation (incl. casual dating, sex, etc) and then we try to twist biblical principles so that they match with our “foundation” (the world’s system). But what’s the result? Constant breakups, divisions within the church, loss of trust that “marriage is a good thing”, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies,… All these things are directly related to this whole concept of “free dating when we are attracted to someone”. Obviously, this is also not good for us. And certainly not God’s design for “moving towards marriage”.
So this Sunday we will talk about a few principles the Bible gives us concerning “moving from friendship towards marriage”. We’ll quickly recap a few things we already mentioned (e.g. not to pursue a relationship before we fulfill God’s requirements). But we’ll also look at topics like our heart attitudes, involving our parents, questions we should ask ourselves and each other before starting a relationship, etc. There is obviously not a simple bullet point guide (Do these 10 things, and then you can get married). But there are Biblical principles that we can follow. And it is my conviction that if Christians follow these principles, nearly all breakups and heartbreaks could be avoided. And that would already have a huge impact on our lives, our families, the global church, and how non-Christians perceive the church.
And if you are married today, I want to encourage you to come with an open mind as well. Maybe you are not going through the process of “finding your mate” any longer. But some of the principles we are talking about this Sunday apply to couples throughout life, not just during the time of “coming together” And, as Christians, we do have a responsibility to communicate this Truth to our children and to our brothers and sisters who are still single.
So that will be our topic for this Sunday. 3pm, usual place. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
No response from the potential meeting place yet. Please keep praying with us. Thank you.
Service this Sunday (June 17th): Singleness
Over the last few weeks we have been talking about some foundations of relationships: Some basic principles, forgiveness, anger, and then last time, we talked about “boundaries”, being friends with people of the other gender, but at the same time, keeping healthy boundaries, to avoid misunderstandings, heartbreaks and confusion.
From this week onwards we will be journeying through the different stages in life: Singleness, Marriage and Parenting. For each season we will take 2 or 3 sermons. And we’ll start this week with the topic of “singleness”.
Now before I move on, I want to say one thing: If you are married, please don’t think “OK, this Sunday is for someone else”. The topic and the sermon is also relevant to those who are already married, just in different ways. For example, the day will come for many of us when we will need to teach our children about a healthy attitude towards singleness. Each day, we can all send out good messages towards singles, encouraging them in their singleness. Or we can confirm the world’s lies about singleness that it is “better to get married” (The Bible actually says the exact opposite). Also, some of the principles about singleness also apply to married people, just in a different way. So please keep an open mind, and see how God will speak to all of us. Getting the topic of singleness right is important to all of us, no matter what stage of life we’re in.
Now back to the topic: Singleness in this world unfortunately has a bad reputation. Being single is often interpreted as “not attractive”, “not cool” or “unpopular”, etc. Have you ever heard comments like the following?
“You know, look around you. Most of your classmates (same age) are already married. Even <fill in a name>, the weirdest and least popular person in our class has found someone. What’s wrong with you that you didn’t get married yet? It must be your fault!”
You hear such comments from the world all the time. But they have absolutely NOTHING to do with what the Bible says about singleness. Here are a few things straight from the Bible that we will be discussing this Sunday:
- Singleness is a gift! (Yes, the Bible really says that)
- There’s no such thing as “dating” in the Bible. There’s singleness, betrothal (we would say “engagement” today) and marriage. But nothing between the first two stages! In other words: If a person is not engaged or married, he/she is single.
- Singleness has great advantages compared to marriage life (and vice versa)
- Some people are called by God to remain single all their lives
- God has clear requirements for us before we can even think about pursuing a relationship
So as you can see: The Bible has things to say about singleness that are completely opposed to what society is trying to tell us today. If we are single, we need to understand these principles, embrace them, and live them out. And if we are married, we have a responsibility to not send worldly messages about singleness to those around us (esp. not in the church), but to encourage singles in this season of life and to speak God’s Truth into their lives, instead of confirming the lies of this world.
So that’s the topic for this Sunday. We want to encourage everyone: Come with an open heart, and see what God will speak to all of us this Sunday. With the right attitude, God can speak to all of us in ways that we can’t even imagine right now.
This Sunday (June 17th) 3pm, usual place.
We hope to see you there.
Help us find a longterm location for our services
Now that we are (nearly) through with our legal registration (just waiting to receive back the papers from the government), we are starting to look for a long term location for our services. As you saw last Sunday, we are slowly outgrowing our place. And meeting here was never meant to be a long term solution, we just did it until we are stable enough to justify renting an outside location. We now feel we have reached this point and are willing to go to a public place for our Sunday Services. One positive side effect of this little change: Once we do meet in a public place, and my family and I don’t need to spend so much time getting our place ready, we feel ready to have a weekly service.
So we would like to ask everyone for your help in finding this place. There are two things we would like everyone to do:
We don’t just want “any place”, just for the sake of having a place. We want to find the place that God has for us. So it would be great if you could pray with us along those lines.
Tell us if you know a suitable place
Maybe you already know a place that is suitable for us. If you do, please let us know. If you wonder what we are looking for, then please have a look at the following document:
On this paper it describes most of the things we are looking for. If you know of a church we could rent, a meeting room we could use, a company that is willing to let us use their conference room on Sundays, a hotel that has a nice conference room we could use,… then please, please, please, please let us know. The more leads we get from everybody, the more choices we’ll have.
If you have any questions, please just ask. We’ll do whatever we can to make things easier for everybody.
With this being said: We are looking forward to (hopefully soon) meet in a public place with all of you to worship together.
In Christ’s love,
Bernd & the Leadership Team
Service this Sunday: "Just Friends".
We are in the middle of our relationships series and will soon focus more on specific seasons that we are walking through in life (singleness, marriage, parenting, etc). But before we do that we will be focusing on one more very general topic that applies to all of us the same. And that topic will be: Friendship. Specifically cross-gender friendship.
Churches all over the world have very different approaches when it comes to men and women in the church. In some more traditional churches, the separation is very strong. In some churches you have three sections: Families, single men and single women. And you simply have to sit in the section that you fit in. If you try to sit with the other gender, someone will come and move you, either to the right section, or out of the building. Obviously not a good environment to get to know people from the other gender.
But then you also have other churches where there are absolutely no boundaries, men and women are treated as if there are no differences. And since people treat each other under the assumption that “there are no differences between us” all kinds of unhealthy practices creep into life. People stay over in the same place, share their deepest feelings with one another, go on holidays together, one on one, etc. Until people suddenly feel so drawn to each other that they cannot control their emotions any longer and cross all kinds of emotional and physical boundaries they should never cross. And once they realize that they went too far, the pain just multiplies.
The Bible clearly wants us to have healthy men-women friendships. While society back then was (unfortunately) very male-dominated, it becomes obvious that the early church included many men and women. They had close community with each other, worked together, shared life together, etc. So the Biblical model is definitely not that of “men sit in one corner of the room, women in the other”. We are meant to have close, meaningful friendships, share life with one another and work together. Men and women, all together.
But let’s be honest: Dealing with cross-gender friendships is a tricky business. Especially in a context like our church, where people come from different cultural backgrounds. Let me just give you an example: In Shanghai I met people who greet anybody with a kiss on the cheek. Hugs and minor physical touches are just what friends do. And then we met people who said: “The only body part of a man/woman I will ever touch is a handshake. Everything else I only do with my husband/wife.” Can you see how friendships between people with such different standards can create problems? The physically expressive person can easily interpret the actions of the reserved person as “cold, unfriendly, he/she doesn’t like me”. While the reserved person might think that the expressive person is proposing marriage. Ryoko’s former roommate in Shanghai once shared with us: “I am not allowed to bring a boy to my parents’ home. When I do that, it means we have to marry each other.” If my parents had imposed that rule on me,… Well, let’s just say: I’m glad they didn’t.
As you can see, friendship can be a tricky business. It can cause misunderstandings among singles, it can cause tensions for marriages, and it can cause a lot of disunity within a church if people get hurt.
Our vision is that we will be a church where men and women have great friendships with each other. But at the same time, we will respectfully keep healthy boundaries to people of the other gender, so that nothing gets misinterpreted, and nobody gets unnecessarily hurt.
So this Sunday we will look at a few principles of healthy friendships. What are some things we should and shouldn’t do with people of the other gender? What does the Bible lay out for us? And what is just “good practice”?
Come and join us this Sunday, to hear more. 3pm, usual place.
Service this Sunday: Anger
At our last service we looked at the topic of “Forgiveness”. And we defined that forgiveness doesn’t mean denying that something happened, it doesn’t mean forgetting what happened, it doesn’t mean minimizing what happened,… It simply means letting go of our right to revenge. Nothing more, nothing less.
So, if we take things from there, that leaves us with an important question: If someone hurt me, and I choose to forgive, then what about my feelings? I still feel pain when I think about the incident. I still feel angry. I still feel the consequences of what happened. (e.g. “Someone stole my money, and I’m still struggling financially because of what he did” or “Someone punched me in the face, and the physical pain is still there” or “A guy dumped me, and I still cannot trust other men because of what he did to me”, etc.) How on earth am I supposed to deal with all of these emotions?
These are great questions. And we haven’t answered these in our last sermon, because we “only” talked about the choice to forgive. So this week we will look at the emotions in relationships. And we will specifically talk about “anger”. Since forgiveness is a choice to not punish the other person for what he/she did, we will agree that we can forgive and still feel angry about “what happened”. There’s no contradiction there.
So the obvious question then is rather: “What should I do after I have forgiven, if I still feel angry?” Again, there are many misconceptions about the topic of anger. Some people think that all anger is always wrong. In other words: When you’re angry, you have already sinned. Others take it to the other extreme, and they claim that “I have a right to be angry, that’s why it’s OK for me to say hurtful words to you!” Both these opinions are obviously not in line with the Bible.
So, what does the Bible actually say about this topic? Is there such a thing as “good anger”? Or is all anger always bad? What should we do when we are angry? Is there a way to use our anger in a positive way? Does God feel anger? What does that mean for us?
These are the kind of questions we’ll look at this Sunday. 3pm, usual place.
We hope to see you there.
A few weeks ago, we announced that we would have dinner/fellowship together this Sunday. However, due to the fact that my wife is not here this weekend and the kids and I will be traveling to the Black Forest Monday morning, I will not be able to host the dinner this week. We’ll have that kind of dinner/fellowship time again one Sunday in June.
Get-Together in the park this Saturday (5/12)
Some of us have plans to meet at the park this Saturday (May 12th). So we wanted to let everybody know about it, in case you would like to join as well.
We’ll meet at Westpark, near the west end of the lake (somewhere around here: https://goo.gl/maps/AitLyRBVscK2) We’ll be there from around 12pm onwards. (The weather forecast currently says that it might rain late afternoon/evening, that’s why we want to meet early, so we have enough time with nice weather)
The Armbrusters will bring a small barbecue. Everybody is welcome to bring meat, veggies, etc. that you can grill on it. (Just be aware that it’s not very big, so you might have to wait a bit until it’s your turn.) It would also be great if some people could bring sides dishes that we can share (salads, etc. that go well with barbecue food,…) Same with drinks, it would be great if some of us could bring drinks we can share together.
Also, we’d like to ask everybody to please bring your own plate, fork, knife, cup, etc.
Also, please feel free to bring footballs, frisbees, games, etc. that we can enjoy together.
Any questions, you know how to reach us. Also, if you have trouble finding us on the day, then please feel free to call Bernd under 0176/34330981.
We hope to see you Saturday.
In Christ’s love,
Service this Sunday, May 06th: Forgiveness
After kicking off our “Relationships Series” last Sunday, we will now look into a very practical part of all relationships: Forgiveness. We all know that forgiveness is central to the Christian claims. After all, Jesus died so that we can receive forgiveness. So obviously, calling ourselves Christians means that we should take forgiveness seriously.
BUT: What on earth does it really mean to forgive? Let’s start with a few misconceptions about forgiveness:
- Forgiving means forgetting: If you remember the offense, you haven’t forgiven yet
- If the relationship isn’t fully restored, the way it was before, then you haven’t forgiven yet
- If you are upset about “what happened” you haven’t forgiven yet
The list could go on and on. But none of these “definitions” have anything to do with what Jesus says about forgiveness.
So … what is forgiveness? And what happens if we don’t forgive? Does it do anything to us or to the other person in this life? And what about eternity? Is forgiveness a requirement to go to heaven? And how on earth can I forgive people who have hurt me really badly?
Can you relate to such questions? If yes, then we hope you can join us this Sunday. Cause we’ll try to answer these and other questions around the topic of forgiveness by studying the passage in Matt. 18:23-35. Please feel free to read it beforehand, to prepare for the sermon.
We are looking forward to seeing you this Sunday, 3pm, usual place.
Westpark tomorrow (April 28th)
It looks like the weather will be fine tomorrow, so here are some more details for our get-together.
My kids and I will be at Westpark from 2pm onwards. Let’s meet at the West End of the lake, somewhere around here: https://www.google.de/maps/dir//48.1216372,email@example.com,11.5095792,18z
The advantage on this side is that there’s a restaurant very close by, in case it starts to rain.
If it doesn’t rain, then we’ll probably stay until somewhere around 5pm – 6pm. But it’s really open end. You can join us whenever is convenient for you, we won’t have a program or anything formal. Just some time to enjoy nature and fellowship with one another.
Nobody volunteered to bring a barbecue, so bringing raw meat is probably not the best idea. But feel free to bring food you can share with others.
Also, please bring along games, sports equipment, etc. that we could enjoy together.
If the weather is bad, I’ll cancel the whole thing again tomorrow by noon the latest. But if you don’t hear from me, then my kids and I will be there.
Also, just to be clear: This is NOT a “men only” event. The idea was to do something for those who are not in Vienna this weekend, both men and women. So ladies, if you are not at the conference, you are welcome to join us.
If you have questions, can’t find us in the park,… then please call or text me under 0176/34330981.
We are looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.
Service this Sunday: Kickoff of our Relationships Series
This Sunday we are starting a new series at Aletheia. For the next few services we’ll talk about “Relationships”. A topic that most people are very excited about. But also a topic that many Christians struggle with. Divorce rates within the church are pretty much the same as outside the church, despite the fact that the Bible says that “Divorce is sin”. So obviously, the issue must lie deeper than simply “being obedient to God”.
The Bible actually places quite some importance on the topic of family. Did you know that the Bible considers “healthy family relationships” as more important than getting involved in ministry? Why is that?
Well, God’s design from the very beginning was that our family relationships should reflect how God relates to us. A marriage is supposed to reflect Christ’s relationship with His church. Parent-child relationships are supposed to reflect our relationship with God the Father. As we discussed during our last sermon, it is human nature to project the character of our earthly parents unto God. That explains part of why “marriage and family” is so important to God.
The problem nowadays is that most people, even within the church, have no proper understanding of “what the Bible actually says about marriage”. And it starts even with our children. Think about what they learn and hear in school from a very young age. Same-sex-marriage is now “normal”, anybody who doesn’t agree will be called old-fashioned and intolerant. Free sex is the way to happiness. Exploring sexual desires at an early age is better than waiting. Moving on from breakups is easy, “time heals all wounds”. Full disclosure here: I believed this stuff until age 25. I lived like it, I did all this stuff (except for the same-sex part. But all the others: yes!). And I can say from personal experience: None of these statements are true!
These are all lies that our society has now accepted and even promotes. But nevertheless, they are lies. And the Bible tells us very different things on these and many other topics concerning marriage and family.
So over the next few weeks, we will get into this topic more deeply. We’ll try to keep the topics relevant to everybody, but it won’t always work 100%. We will have to talk about singleness and dating, which is important, but maybe not relevant for all of us at this time in our lives (Maybe it will be again one day, when our children come into that age). We will also talk about parenting for a sermon or two, even though some of us will have to admit that “right now, that’s not really relevant to me”. So yes, there might be the one or the other sermon where you will go home and think: “OK, today’s sermon was for other people.” But we’ll try to keep that to a minimum, and focus on topics that are hopefully relevant to all of us, no matter what season in life we are in.
So we’ll kick this all of this Sunday, by looking at some of the basics. A simple question we will answer: What does the Bible say is the purpose of marriage and family? It’s a simple question. But most Christians could not give the right answer. Could you? Is it about “being happy”? Is it about “being completed by the other person”? Is it about “being allowed to have sex and have children”? Or is it something completely different?
So that’s the main topic with which we’ll start with this Sunday. We’re very excited about it. And we hope you can join us. 3pm, usual place.
Discipleship Group kickoff this Sunday
This Sunday we will be starting our new Discipleship Group. Many might still have some questions about “what this group is all about”, so let me try to explain a bit more.
The purpose of this group is to (re)build the foundations of our Faith. The material really focuses on the very foundations of what we as Christians believe in: What is the gospel? What does it mean to repent and have Faith? What does the Bible say about itself? What does the Bible say about prayer? What does the Bible say about “Overcoming temptations”? Forgiveness? What does it actually mean to “be a Christian”?
The material is really simple to use, but it answers such questions. On each topic, there are a few verses to read, and then the material asks some questions related to those passages. For the first couple of topics, we will do them together in our group, and discuss any kind of questions that might arise. Eventually we might do these questions by ourselves at home, and then discuss upcoming questions, etc. together at our meeting.
It’s really simple, it won’t take too much time, and the questions aren’t hard at all (You don’t have to study for 2h to answer one question, very often you can simply rephrase the Bible verse in your own words). But if we do this, we will be thinking about many of the major foundations of our Faith over the next few weeks. And, because we will be reading those passages ourselves, we will learn where to find those answers directly in the Bible (instead of repeating what someone else told us, and not being 100% sure whether the Bible really says it exactly like that).
With this being said, we will kick off this group this Sunday, April 22nd, 1:30pm (just before our small group). If you are unsure about it, we would like to encourage you to give it a try. Just because you come once doesn’t mean we expect you to come for the whole thing. So if you are curious about it, have some form of interest in it,… then we’d like to encourage you to join us this Sunday. If you like it, you can come back the following week. If you don’t like it,… just let us know, totally fine. (Our philosophy in church has always been and will always be: It’s better to try something and to find out “It’s not for me” than to wonder for months or years whether we should have given it a try,…)
With this being said: Anybody welcome to join us this Sunday, 1:30pm for the kickoff of our discipleship group. And of course then also for our small group at 3pm.
We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday (4/15) + Discipleship Group
For many weeks we have been circling around the same topic. We have looked more closely at the question: Who is God? Then we looked at ourselves: Who am I? Of course we could spend the rest of our lives trying to answer these questions. But if we have listened to this sermon series and have participated in our small group discussions, then we should have a basic foundation on these two topics.
The question for this week is then: Why on earth is it so hard to really believe these things? For example: If we know that God is a good Father, know that He is all powerful, almighty and all loving, if we know that He keeps all His promises, and if we know that He promised to provide for all our needs,… then why do we worry about money so much?
If we know that God has a good, pleasing and perfect will for us, if we know that sin isn’t good for us,… then why do we struggle so hard to “not sin”? If we truly believe all that the Bible says, shouldn’t it be a natural response to simply “do the right thing” and not do the bad stuff?
If we know that God loves us more than any person in this world ever could, why do we spend most of our time looking for love and approval from the people around us instead of seeking it from God Himself?
If we know that eternal riches are waiting in heaven, why do we pursue earthly riches so much (And often to the point that we don’t have time and energy to pursue eternal riches any longer)?
Can you relate to such questions? How would you answer them for your own life? And what can we do about it?
That’s our topic for this Sunday. As usual we’ll meet at 3pm. Also, after the service I’d like to get together for 15min or so with those who are interested in our new Explorer Group (for those who want to take a look (again) at the very basics of our Faith). So if you are wondering if this group might be a good fit for you, please stay back for a short time, so we can discuss the purpose of the group, the content, what’s best time, place, etc.
We are looking forward to seeing you this Sunday.
Easter Sunday Service + Dinner afterwards!
Happy Easter everyone.
This Sunday we will continue our journey through our identity. At our last service we looked at “The Problem”. God created us with wonderful abilities and desires. But all of that got broken and distorted when Adam and Eve sinned. We were created to glorify and worship God, but it all turned into fear as soon as sin had entered the world. God created us to rule this world, but through sin we have become slaves to sin. God created us for good works to enjoy. But because of sin, work now has become a burden, a necessity to survive. God created us for meaningful relationships with one another, but those relationships are now strained as we blame each other, distrust each other, etc. He created us to live in safety and security, but we now have to live in fears, dangers, etc.
If you need a reminder of the sermon, you can listen to it again through our app or website.
Now this Sunday we will then look at the restoration part: When Jesus died on the cross, and rose again, He made EVERYTHING available to us again. And we don’t have to work for it. We don’t have to achieve it in our own strength. All we have to do is to receive it. By Faith.
So this Sunday we will look more closely at the Restoration that Jesus offers, and what our part is in order to receive it.
After the service we will then go to a nearby restaurant for dinner.
Please help us spread the word and invite your friends to the service this Sunday. Many people are more willing to give a church service a try on Easter Sunday than on any other Sunday of the year.
We are looking forward to celebrating with you this Sunday.
Service this Sunday: Who am I? Creation and Fall
After looking more closely at the question of “Who is God?” over the last three sermons, we are now entering the next phase in our series. The question now is: “Who am I?”
We already established the foundations of this topic in the very first sermon of this series. Remember the Israelites in Numbers 13 – 14? They had this amazing promise from God: “Get out of Egypt AND INTO the promised land.” God didn’t only promise to take them out of Egypt. That was only Part 1. He actually promised to take them INTO the promised land. The Israelites saw the miracles of God (Red Sea parting, water out of a rock, pillar of cloud/fire, God’s presence on Mount Sinai,…) They knew that God was with them. And they knew that God had done tremendous miracles for them.
So after only around 1 year, they arrived at the border of the promised land. God told them to take the land. But they were afraid. The text doesn’t know exactly what was going on in their hearts and minds. But it does give us some clues. Basically, it comes down to this: I’m sure that they believed that God COULD get them into the promised land. But they didn’t really believe that He WOULD do it. They either had a wrong image of God (e.g. “He won’t keep His promise this time”). Or they had a wrong image of themselves (e.g. “We’re not that important that God would do a miracle for us AGAIN”). The latter was actually definitely partly true, because they saw themselves as grasshoppers (Num. 13:33).
Whatever it was exactly, the point is: Their wrong image of God and/or themselves prevented them from entering the land. And as a result, the whole generation had to die in the wilderness over the next 40 years. Only their children were finally allowed to take the land.
So a wrong self-image really changes the way we live. So this Sunday we’ll start looking at the question: “Who am I?” And we’ll do so by looking at creation and fall. How did God create us? What does it actually mean that “We are created in God’s image”? It certainly doesn’t mean that we are gods. But where’s the difference? What was God’s intention for us, when He created us?
Then what happened after the fall? What affect does sin have on God’s creation? How did God’s design get distorted by the consequences of sin?
That’s the kind of questions we’ll be looking at this Sunday. But thankfully, it won’t be the end of the story. On Easter Sunday we will then look at how God restored His original design through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and how everything that was destroyed through sin can be made whole again, by grace, through faith.
So we hope you can join us this week. 3pm, usual place.
Service this Sunday: The Names of God (Plus: Please return your questionnaire)
As part of our Identity series we have been looking at the question: “Who is God?” First we looked at some of the attributes of God. Then we looked at the fact that Jesus is God, and the implications of this claim. Both sermons are available online and can be listened to through our app or website. (http://www.aicmunich.org/sermons.php)
Now this week we will conclude this subseries by looking at the Names of God.
In today’s culture, names do not always have a lot of meaning. Some people name their children after cartoon characters or simply choose the name according to the latest list of “currently most popular names”. However, in Biblical times, names had a much deeper meaning. Think about it: Some people received a new name when something significant happened in their lives (like Abram receiving a new name Abraham). Many parents named their child according to something that had happened around the time of giving birth to the child. Obviously, names in the Bible have much more value compared to today’s society.
So when the Bible records names by which God is called, then we can’t overlook the significance of names in the cultural context. Those were not just a way of “making sure that God knows that we are addressing Him”. Those names actually tell us a significant aspect of who God is.
So this Sunday, we’ll look at some of the names, e.g. El Shaddai (God Almighty), Yahweh (The Self-Existing One), Jehovah-Raah (The Lord is my Shepherd) or Jehovah-Shalom (The Lord is Peace), etc. We obviously won’t be able to go through all names of God we can find in the Bible. But we will look at some of these names, and what these names are telling us about “Who God is”.
This sermon will then be the last of this subseries. At the following service, we will then move into the whole topic of “Our new Identity in Christ”. How did God create us? What happened through sin? And what did God give us back when Jesus died for us? Those are the topics for the following few weeks.
But before we move into that, let’s look at the Names of God. This Sunday, March 04th, 3pm, usual place. We hope to see you there.
Also, if you have received the questionnaire from us, it would be great if you could return it this Sunday, as we do start planning our next steps very soon.
Service this Sunday: Jesus is God!
At our last service, we started the whole topic of “Who is God?” As I said from the very beginning, we’ll only be able to scratch the surface on this topic that is impossible to comprehend in this life. (As I said last time: If we were able to fully understand God, that would mean we are greater than God. If I ever made such a direct or indirect claim, then please stop attending Aletheia!)
As we got into the topic 2 weeks ago, and had our small group last Sunday, I quickly realized that we could spend the rest of the year on this. We won’t be doing that, but we will continue looking at this question from different angles for another 2 or 3 services. Last time we focused on some of the most important “Attributes of God”: God is Holy, He is just, He is love, He is merciful and full of grace. (The sermon is available online, if you would like to listen to it (again))
Now this week, we’ll go deeper on this topic by looking at the question: What can we learn about God when we look at Jesus?
The obvious assumption here is of course that we all agree that “Jesus is God”. If we struggle with this question, then everything else we’ll talk about this Sunday can be denied. But if Jesus is God, then that has consequences. Everything Jesus said to people is equal to what God said. Every encounter Jesus had with human beings shows us how God deals with us. I already mentioned the woman caught in adultery in the last sermon. Think about the very thing that you are most ashamed of. And imagine that someone had a video of it. Then this person drags you on Marienplatz, takes your clothes off and shows the video on a huge screen, for everyone to see. Soon TV stations join and broadcast the whole scene. Thousands of people gather around you, looking at the screen and looking at you. Tens of thousands of others see the whole thing on TV. That’s similar to how the women caught in adultery must have felt. And then imagine Jesus standing next to you, silencing all the people who accused you. And then restoring you, simply by saying: “Sin no more.” Put yourself in that kind of situation. And you’ll get a glimpse of the depth of God’s love, compassion and mercy for all of us. And of course, how He wants to deal with all the accusing voices we hear in our heads all the time. That’s how God loves you! And that’s what He wants to do in your life, to overcome our guilt and shame with nothing but love and mercy. Sounds Unbelievable! But it’s true!
So what we’ll do this Sunday is that we’ll go through some other passages and do the same exercise. We look at what we can learn about the people Jesus interacted with. Then we can think about what part of our lives are similar to that person. And then we can learn how Jesus deals with that part of our lives. I haven’t thought through all the details yet, but I do plan on talking about Mark 4:35-41. In this passage we can learn how God deals with us, when we do things in our own strength. I also plan on talking about how Jesus deals with our self-righteousness (maybe I’ll use Mark 10:17-31 as an example for this topic). And I will definitely cover the topic of forgiveness again (maybe going back to the woman caught in adultery). I don’t know all the details yet. But we will definitely be looking at some of these encounters that Jesus had with “real people” and what they tell us about how God sees us and deals with us.
If you are wondering: “Weren’t we supposed to talk about the Names of God?” Yes, we were. And we will. Just not this Sunday. We’ll get to this topic either the next service, or the service after that. It’s not forgotten, not canceled. Just postponed.
With all this being said: We hope to see you this Sunday, 3pm, usual place.
Service + Dinner/Fellowship this Sunday
This Sunday we will continue our journey through the topic of our identity. After building the foundations over the last 2 sermons (“Who am I” on Jan. 07th and “Renewing our minds” on Jan. 21st) we are now diving into the 2nd part of the series. And we’ll look at the question: “Who is God?”
Now, just to be upfront from the very beginning: Nobody in this world will ever fully know. If we could figure out who God is, it would by definition make us greater than God. That’s … well … let’s call it by name: That’s blasphemy. So no, we won’t be able to simply listen to a few sermons, and then come out of it and be able to say: “Now I fully know who God is. Done that. What’s next?” If that’s your expectation, you’ll be utterly disappointed.
However, there are a few things we can do. Especially, we can study some of the attributes of God. Again, we could study this for a lifetime, and only scratch the surface. But we can learn a lot about “Who God is” when we look at some of the attributes that are ascribed to Him in the Bible. Think about love. What does it mean that the Bible says “God is love”? It doesn’t say: “God is loving” or “God loves”. It says: “God is love!” What about the fact that God is holy? What on earth does that really mean? Then He is righteous. How can that be, if we consider all the horrible stuff that is happening in this world all the time? I mean an almighty and all-powerful God who is love and righteous, and He allows this kind of suffering that we see in the world today? Sends people to hell? How does that all fit together? Are there several parts of God that are fighting with each other, and on any given day, one side wins? (So if God has a bad day, then He is just? But if He’s in a good mood, then He’s more forgiving?) Was God more angry and just in the Old Testament? But now that Jesus arrived, God is more loving and more forgiving, because Jesus has dealt with God’s anger?
I have heard such or similar questions regularly, there’s a lot of confusion out there about “who God is” and how we can reconcile the different attributes we learn about God. So for the next 2 or 3 sermons we will be looking at some of the characteristics of God (though obviously, we can only cover a small part of this huge topic). After that we will then focus on us, and our new identity that God has given us, by Faith.
After the service we will offer dinner and a time of fellowship. So if you have time, we would love to spend some more time with you and get to know you all a little bit more.
We hope we can welcome you this Sunday, Feb. 04th, 3pm.
Service this Sunday: Renewing our minds
At our last service we introduced our new series topic: Our Identity in Christ. And I already mentioned that over the next few weeks, we will look at two major questions:
- Who God is
- Who we are in Christ
This week we will then put our focus on another important foundation of this whole topic. And that is the topic of “the renewing of our minds”.
This world is full of lies. We already looked at this whole topic back in November/December, when we established the importance of the Bible, the importance of our own personal Bible time, etc. What we haven’t really looked at is the fact that there is someone out there whose fulltime occupation is to spread lies to all mankind. The devil is a liar, when he lies, he is speaking his native language. Why is he doing that? Because he knows what we talked about last week: A wrong image of God and/or a wrong image of ourselves hinder us from fully living the way God intends us to live. So the devil lies to the whole world, all the time, so that our view of God or ourselves gets distorted. And then we start to live a different life, simply because we believe something that isn’t true.
Since this world is full of lies, we have to accept the fact that if we do nothing, we will eventually embrace the lies. If we are passive, we will believe the lies of this world. We will not accidentally stumble upon the Truth. We will never get to know God and ourselves if we simply live like everybody else. We have to be different, and we have to be proactive.
If you think that’s just my opinion, then you’ll be glad to know that my thoughts are actually taken directly from the Bible: Romans 12:1-2 says this:
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
So what does that mean? How can we “renew our minds”? What actions can we take to not embrace those lies we constantly hear in this world? What is Paul practically asking us to do in these two verses?
That’s our topic for this week. We will also have Communion again at the end of our service.
This week’s sermon will obviously build on the last one. So if you have missed our last service, or if you need a reminder of what we talked about, then it might be helpful if you listen to the sermon (again) through our app or on our website. (http://www.aicmunich.org/sermons.php?serviceid=15)
We hope to see you again this Sunday, 3pm, usual place.
Service this Sunday, Jan. 07th
Happy New Year everyone! We hope you were able to have some rest over the Christmas holidays.
With a new year, we will start a new topic for the next few weeks, and probably months. And that is: Identity. I’m going to start this Sunday’s service with a simple question: “Who are you?” Simple question, but the answer isn’t as simple as we often think it is. Many people would simply state their name. (“I am Bernd.”) Others would state their job, their marital status, their nationality,… There are a lot of things that people point to when they think about their identity. The problem with all these things is: They are temporary. If my identity is my marital status, then what happens if my spouse dies? Does that change my identity? If my identity is my job, what happens if I lose my job, change my career or retire?
An identity by definition has to be something that is independent of time and circumstances. An identity is something that cannot be taken away from us. So obviously, these things we mentioned so far cannot be our identity. But what is it then?
Well, there’s only one person who doesn’t change, and that is God Himself. So consequently, our identity is who God says we are. That’s our identity. And if we take the Bible seriously (which we obviously do) then there are only 2 possible identities: Being eternally adopted as God’s child, or being eternally separated from God. 2 possible identities, and each and every person who has ever existed on this planet either has one or the other.
So far, so good. But let’s take this one step further: Do we really, really, really believe that we are adopted children of God? A royal priesthood, a holy nation? Do we really believe that we will rule and reign this earth in Christ’s name? Do we see ourselves as “more than conquerors”? Friends of God? The Bride of Jesus?
Maybe some of us will say: “Yes, of course, the Bible says all these things about me. So yes, these things are true about me!” Then I want to ask another question: “Do we truly live like that? Would people around us describe us like that? Or would they say our lives seem to reflect mainly things like fear, insignificance, worthlessness and going with the flow”?
These are important questions. The way we live our lives really reflects a) how we see God and b) how we see ourselves. So if we don’t seem to live like “more than conquerors”, there is a great chance that we either have a wrong image of who God is, or of who we are in Christ. And this can have serious consequences, both in this life, and in eternity.
So this Sunday, we will start this new series, discovering and embracing our new identity in Christ. I don’t know yet how long we will stay on this topic. I have some ideas on what we could talk about, but we’ll really just see how it goes. If after 2 messages, we feel like “all is said that needs to be said”, people get bored,… then we’ll move on and start something new. If after 3 months we still have lots to discuss, there are still lots of questions, it feels like we all want to hear more about this topic,… then we’ll keep going. We’ll just get started, and then we’ll decide on the exact focus of each week’s message as we go.
So we hope to see you all again this Sunday, Jan. 07th. We’ll meet at our usual time (3pm) and place again.
We hope to see you there.
Christmas Eve Service (10:30am - 12pm)
It’s Christmas! A very special time for many people. At our last service, we have been reminded to not lose the meaning of Christmas. It’s so easy to get caught up in the cultural craziness, and to push Jesus out of Christmas. (If you would like to listen to the sermon again, you can do so through our app or on our website)
Now this week, we’ll then look at a famous prophesy. Many of us know the verses from the book of Isaiah about the birth of the coming Savior that is often quoted during Christmas time.
Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
What we’ll do this Sunday is look at one particular name that was given to Jesus in this prophesy. And that is: “The Prince of Peace”. When you think about it: It’s an incredible name, isn’t it? Jesus doesn’t just give peace. He IS peace. And if you read through the gospels, you’ll find that the word “peace” appears again and again and again. What was the first word that Jesus gave to his disciples when he met them for the first time, after the resurrection? It was “peace”.
Now this is of course hard for many of us to grasp. We’re living in a world that is going more and more crazy each day. Financial pressures and worries affect all of us. Problems in society affect us directly or indirectly. Health issues affect all of us from time to time. Stress is affecting our lives and our families. Pressures to conform to an immoral society are increasing more and more. That’s the reality we all live in.
So how on earth can Jesus come to us and simply say: “Peace be with you!” Is He just being mean? Is He realistic? How on earth can we live in this world, and still have peace? Is it even possible?
That’s the topic we will be covering this Sunday at our Christmas Eve service. Please remember that we will be meeting at 10:30am – 12pm this week. Usual place, just at an earlier time.
We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday (Dec. 17th) + Christmas Dinner/Fellowship
Christmas! It’s a very special time of the year. It’s actually my favorite time of the year. As a kid there was always that excitement of gifts. But even as that fascination faded over the years, I still loved the Christmas season, the atmosphere, the holidays,… While in China, it was the one time of the year when I did miss my country. But for most of my life, I knew only very little about what Christmas was really all about. I knew that we were celebrating the birth of Jesus. But … what does that have to do with me? I couldn’t make that connection, and I didn’t bother about it. And I simply enjoyed the gifts, the cookies, the decorations, etc.
Many people see Christmas like that, and they really enjoy this season, whether they are Christians or not. But if we dig a little bit deeper, we should really ask a very important question: Should we celebrate Christmas at all? I recently had a very interesting conversation with a person who calls himself an Atheist. He said: “I love Christmas.” It didn’t feel the right time to start a religious or philosophical discussion, so I let it go. But the first response in my head was: “How can you love Christmas while you completely reject Jesus, the very person we are celebrating at Christmas?” (Until I realized that I had celebrated 25 Christmas seasons just like him.)
Of course, there are cultural things we can enjoy. But what if there was a celebration for someone like … let’s say Hitler each year, to celebrate his birth? (Thank God there isn’t!) I don’t know about you, but if Germany did that, I couldn’t enjoy the season, no matter how much “nice cultural stuff” was going on around it. At the core, it would be the celebration of a person that I’m completely opposed to. So then how come that there are so many people who reject Jesus, but celebrate Christmas? Isn’t that a contradiction?
Well, yes and no. There are certainly a lot of nice cultural things that we can enjoy. But at our service this Sunday we will look at a very important question, that I mentioned above: “Should I celebrate Christmas?” It’s a simple question, with a not so simple answer. But I believe it’s a very important question. Because I believe the answer to whether we should celebrate Christmas is also linked to our eternal destination, heaven or hell.
So that will be the topic for this Sunday, Dec. 17th. Join us at 3pm, for our Christmas Service. After the service we’ll have a time of fellowship over a Christmas Dinner (provided by Aletheia).
Please help us spread the word and invite your friends as well. It’s a great opportunity to give others a chance to hear about our church, and ultimately, about Jesus.
We hope to see you (and maybe also some of your friends) there.
This Sunday (Dec. 10th): Serving the poor and needy
This Sunday we will do something new: We will serve together. We’ll hand out gift bags to homeless people and give them a little bit of hope this Christmas season. Here are the details:
We’ll meet at our usual time and place, 3pm at the Armbrusters. But we won’t be doing a Bible study this week. Instead, we’ll pack some gift bags for people in need and write some messages of hope to be put in those bags as well. When we’re done we’ll pray together before we then go out as a group. Once we arrive, we’ll break into groups of 2 -3 people at a time, and hand out the bags, talk a bit with them, etc. Then we’ll get back together and share with each other how it went, how we feel about the whole thing, etc. We plan on finishing by around 5:30pm.
What you have to bring? Nothing! We’ll order the materials beforehand, paid by the Aletheia budget. So you don’t need to worry about “what to buy” or “how much money to bring”, etc. All we ask you to do is to come with a heart willing to serve people.
I know that an activity like this sometimes makes people a bit uncomfortable, esp. if we have never done something like this before. We might be tempted to “just skip this week”. But I do want to encourage everyone to simply give this a try. You’re not alone, we are going out in small groups. And if one person really doesn’t feel comfortable, then just go along with one or two other people, and let them do the actual giving and talking. Such activities can feel a little bit uncomfortable in the beginning. But too often, we can later say that we received much more than what we gave. So just give it a try with us this Sunday. And see how God will work in your heart.
We hope to see you this Sunday, Dec. 10th, 3pm.
Service this Sunday (Dec. 03rd): Prophesy
Last Sunday, we looked at the topic of the Bible. One of the major conclusions was that
- Everything the Bible says is true
- Anything that contradicts the Bible’s teaching is a lie
This week we will then build on this foundation by looking more closely at the topic of “Prophecy”. Specifically, we will look at the topic of “What should we do when someone else is giving us a Prophetic Word”?
Let me just give you a couple of true stories. A few years back, still attending our church in Shanghai, there was one particular Sunday when a person was doing the Pastoral Prayer (leading the whole congregation in prayer). During his prayer, he suddenly felt that God was telling him that “there’s someone here who did something horrible this week and he feels like he doesn’t deserve God any longer. But God is telling this person that He has forgiven him and wants him to come back”. So he shared what he felt God was telling him with the whole congregation. Well, after the service, a young man came running up to the person who shared this word and confessed that he had tried to commit suicide just a few days earlier. He knew that God was speaking particularly to him. This word during that service started a journey that slowly brought him back on the right path.
Now another story, also from Shanghai: There was a guy in our church who was a constant troublemaker (things got so bad after years of warnings that he was told by the Elders that he was no longer allowed to attend the church). One Sunday he went to one of the leaders in our church, who was originally from one of the Caribbean countries. She was one of only a handful of people from this country (maybe the only one at the time). So this guy went straight up to her and said: “God told me to marry someone from <fill in her home country>.” Thankfully, she immediately understood what was going on, and her response was loud and clear: “Get out of here!”
As you can see, prophetic words are real, and can be a great tool from God to speak to us, like in the first story. But there is also a lot of misuse going on, people using the name of God for their own purposes, and saying all kinds of weird stuff. All supposedly in the name of Jesus.
Our vision for Aletheia is that we do want to allow God to speak to us through Prophetic Words during our services. Some of you have been attending services when either I myself or another person said something along the lines of “I feel God is saying that …”. But we also realized over the last few weeks that there are many people in our congregation who might not be familiar with this concept, and who might not know how to respond to such a statement. Questions might arise like “Is this God speaking or a person speaking?” or “Do I know have to do whatever this person just said?” or “What if what this person just said doesn’t make any sense to me?”, etc.
So this Sunday, we will look more closely at the topic of prophesy. Not so much at the topic “How can I receive and speak out a prophetic word to others” (that’s a whole sermon series in itself, and much more complicated). But we’ll look at the other side of the same coin: What should I do when someone comes to me and claims that he/she has a Word from God for me? How do I know if it’s really God? And how should I respond in either case?
That’s the topic for this Sunday, Dec. 03rd. If you couldn’t attend last week’s service, then you might want to listen to that sermon through our app or from our website before this week’s service. It might help you get the most of this week’s service. (But of course, it’s not a must)
Sunday, 3pm, usual place. We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday (11/26): Being Bereans
I plan on opening this Sunday’s sermon with a provocative question (I like doing that, in case you haven’t noticed yet). The question is this: “Why do you listen to my sermons?” And I assume that some of you will (hopefully) answer by saying that you believe that I am telling you the Truth. After all, our church’s name is Aletheia, which is the Greek word for “Truth”. Then my follow-up question will be: “How can you know that I am telling you the Truth? I might be trying to deceive everybody. I might have a hidden agenda. Or I might simply think that what I say is the Truth, but nevertheless, I’m just mistaken.”
Jesus told us that in the last days, there will be many false teachers. There will be a lot of confusion about “what is true, and what is not”. People will preach in the name of Christ, but what they tell their listeners are lies. Jesus also predicted that many people will follow such false teachers in this world. And as a result, they will also follow their false teachers into eternal separation from God.
So … what can we do? How can we know whether we really hear the Truth at Aletheia, or whether we are one of those “false prophet churches” that will increase more and more until the day Jesus returns?
Well, the simple answer that every Christian should immediately give is of course: The Bible. As long as we stick to what the Bible says, we’ll always know the Truth.
Well, that is true. But did you know that the devil used the Bible to lie to Jesus? (Read Matt. 4:6) So yes, the Bible is the final and absolute authority, and the absolute Truth. But it can also be misused. Just because someone quotes a Bible verse doesn’t necessarily mean they’re telling the Truth. It’s a bit more complicated than that.
So this Sunday, we will look at the topic of the Bible, how we should use it, and how we can check whether preachers and teachers are telling us the Truth. The title of the sermon is: “Being Bereans”. And if you have no idea what this means, or what this has to do with the topic, then you can check out Acts 17:10-12.
Come and join us this Sunday, Nov. 26th, 3pm, usual place. We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday (Nov. 12th): Holy Communion
Communion. Most people have been to a church service before where Communion has been served. There are a lot of different church traditions when it comes to Holy Communion. In the church I grew up in, Communion was served every week. And each person in the congregation actually had to go up to the Altar to receive communion from the Pastor. It was quite a ritual. When I reached a certain age, I even had to take classes and there was a huge ceremony before I was allowed to take my first Holy Communion. (Plus, a huge lunch afterwards and lots of money from relatives). So yes, for a while, Holy Communion left quite an impression on me.
But as I grew older, Communion just became part of the usual church ritual that I started to dislike more and more. Eventually I saw Communion just as “one of the weird religious rituals that Christians do”. I figured out that the “holy bread” could be bought and wasn’t special at all. I figured out that all those “Holy People who take communion so seriously each week” actually didn’t live quite as “holy” from Monday – Saturday as they pretended to do on Sundays. And as I heard of some of the terrible things that some of the priests did, I was wondering whether such people could really make bread holy, as I thought they did. As I left the church, I considered the idea of “Holy Communion” as totally obsolete.
Then I went to Shanghai and became a Christian. Suddenly, Communion was a total different thing. One of the first times I experienced Holy Communion was in someone’s home. Without a pastor. Toast bread that was meant for breakfast was just ripped apart and put in a regular household basket. “Everybody take a piece.” Really? Then they served grape juice in plastic cups (The rest of the juice we just drank afterwards as “normal juice”). Since I only knew the huge ceremony that was performed in my childhood church every week, this informal practice of Communion shocked me quite a bit. How could these people claim to be Christians and then do such a lousy job in offering Communion?
So what’s this whole thing called “Holy Communion” really all about? Why do Christians do this? What’s the fuss with that bread and wine? What does the Bible really say about it? And who can and should (not) take Holy Communion? Is there any meaning behind this ritual?
Come join us this Sunday for our service as we look at such questions. We will also serve Holy Communion at the end of the service.
Sunday, Nov. 12th, 3pm, usual place. Everybody welcome. We hope you can join us.
Reformation Celebration this Sunday: Freedom in Christ
Freedom! It’s something we all want, isn’t it? As a child, it was my biggest dream to “be free”. Free from the control of my parents, free from anybody telling me what to do. Free to live my own life. Free to be myself. Freedom was what I was looking for. Back then, in my mind, freedom was the purpose of life. If I’m free, then I have achieved my goal in life.
Looking back now, I can say that at times, I did feel free. Getting my first car, being “free to go wherever/whenever I wanted to go”. I felt free when I left my parents’ place and could finally live without them.
But somehow, it never really worked. At least not for long. Yes, there were moments when I felt free. But somehow, that feeling of “being controlled by someone/something” came back very quickly. University required me to study. Financial pressures required me to work. Trying to live out my freedom hurt friends and family, which resulted in broken relationships, and in turn, guilt and shame for me. And the more I tried to fight for my freedom, the more trapped I felt.
Part of the reason I fled to China was because I was looking for my freedom. And life in Germany didn’t feel free at all. So … “maybe in China I can finally be free.”
Growing up in a Christian environment, I knew that the Christian claim is that Jesus gives us freedom. But what I could see in the church was the exact opposite: Rules, regulations, condemnation, etc. Joy, freedom and love were not words I could associate with the church.
Today however, I can say: Jesus DOES give us freedom. Perfect freedom. A freedom where we can live the way we want to live. We can get rid of all the guilt and shame that wears us down. We can truly and fully enjoy God’s pleasures. And we can truly and fully be ourselves.
The only challenge is: Freedom comes when we perfectly surrender to God.
Sounds like a contradiction, right? Surrender to someone else equals freedom? That doesn’t make any sense, does it?
Well, it does. If we truly understand what happens when we surrender. And truly understand what freedom is.
Join us this Sunday for our next service. Because “Freedom” is what we will be talking about. The whole of Germany is getting an extra day off, because 500 years ago, Martin Luther brought us back to what the gospel is truly all about: Freedom! So if you want to live “more free”, you don’t want to miss this Sunday.
After the service we’ll have dinner together at a restaurant nearby. (On Aletheia)
Sunday, October 29th, 3pm, usual place. We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday: How do I know whether I am saved?
How can I know whether I am saved?
That’s a question I’ve heard many times. It usually goes something like this: “I’m praying every day, read my Bible, go to church, serve in Sunday School,… I do all this stuff. But somehow I’m still not sure whether I’m really going to heaven. Am I good enough for God?”
Many people try to earn God’s favor with their work. They do all the right things that a good Christian is supposed to do. But they never know whether it’s enough.
Then there’s the other extreme. Some people say something like this: “I prayed a sinner’s prayer, so I’m guaranteed to go to heaven. I don’t care about praying, following Jesus,… I don’t even care what Jesus says about money, honesty, forgiveness or sex. I just live my own life. Cause Jesus forgave me for all my sin! And now I can do whatever I want to do, it doesn’t matter.”
Both these attitudes are based on Biblical principles that seem to contradict each other. One principle comes from verses like this one: James 2:24 “You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
Taking such a verse by itself, out of context, we could come to the conclusion that “we have to be good enough with our works to be accepted by God”.
Other people take another biblical principle out of context and to the extreme. And that is that we are saved by Faith alone, not by works. For example Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
So if we take this principle by itself, out of context, without the bigger teaching of the Bible as a whole, we’ll end up at the other extreme, believing that we can do anything we want, if we simply prayed a sinner’s prayer.
Well, neither extreme is biblical. And if I may share my own opinion: I believe that if we fall in either extreme, we are probably not Christians at all. And no matter what we believe about ourselves, Jesus will probably not take us with Him to heaven.
So … what about Faith and Works? Isn’t the Biblical teaching a contradiction, since it says two things that are completely opposed to each other? Are we saved by works? Or by Faith? Both? And how on earth can we know whether we are saved? Or do we just have to try our best and hope for the best?
The church has been struggling with such questions for the last 2000 years. And we don’t claim to be able to answer all of them perfectly. But: We will be trying to get some answers to these questions this coming Sunday at our Sunday service.
We hope to see you there.
Marriage/Marriage Prep Program now available at Aletheia
We (meaning: Bernd & Ryoko) are now licensed to run “Prepare/Enrich” (http://www.prepare-enrich.com/). This program is a tool designed for married couples and those who are in a serious relationship (that is: They plan or at least consider getting married in the near future). The program consists of two parts: One is filling out an online questionnaire, to get a snapshot of what the relationship currently looks like (personalities, agreements/disagreements, strength and growth areas, etc). Then based on that snapshot, the facilitator takes the couple through a series of feedback sessions. There are 6 Core exercises that each couple should take, plus around as many optional ones. Each feedback session takes around 60 – 90min.
With this being said, we want to offer two things:
- If anybody within Aletheia is interested in going through this program with us, please let us know. We’re ready to run this for you. (The cost of 20Euro/couple will be covered by Aletheia)
- If you know someone outside of Aletheia who might be interested in this program, please inform them about this opportunity. This program is not necessarily for Christians only, many non-Christian marriages have significantly improved after taking the questionnaire and going through the feedback sessions. (There is a version of P/E that leaves out the spiritual elements of Faith, etc. Depending on the couple, the version that is more appropriate can be chosen) Reaching out to non-Christians through a marriage-program can also be a great opportunity to connect people to Aletheia, without having to talk to them about Jesus for a while,…
We’ll let you know more about Prepare/Enrich in our next meetings, services, etc. But if you have any questions, suggestions, are interested in taking this with us (or know someone who might be interested), then please let us know.
Thanks a lot.
Service this Sunday (Oct. 01st)
Last Sunday we studied the first part of the Parable of the Waiting Father (aka "The prodigal son") in Luke 15. You can listen to the sermon again through the Aletheia app or on our website.
This Sunday (Oct. 01st) we'll then look into the 2nd part of the parable: The older son. There’s so much focus on the younger son, but hardly anybody ever talks about the older son. But I believe he’s equally important. Because he represents another side of all of us, a struggle that is happening in all our hearts every single day. On the one hand we have areas in our lives where we are rebellious lke the younger son. But at the same time, we are also dealing with self-righteousness, just like the older son.
So: What can we learn from this young man? What side of us does he represent? Why did he become so grumpy, arrogant and judgemental? And how does God deal with that side of us?
That’s the kind of questions we’ll be looking at this Sunday.
To prepare for the message, it might be helpful if you do the following between now and Sunday:
- Please read the Parable again by yourself. Having a preacher speak to us is great. However, allowing God to speak to us directly through the text is way more important. The parable can be found in Luke 15:11-32.
- Secondly, the sermon will build on what we already talked about last Sunday. So if you missed last Sunday, or if you need a refresher, please listen to last week's sermon again through this app or on our website. Understanding of "what we talked about last week" will greatly help you follow what we'll talk about this week.
With this being said, we welcome you to join us this Sunday, 3pm, usual place. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Sermon topic Sept. 24th and Oct. 01st: The Waiting Father (aka The prodigal son)
At our last service (The 2nd fire, available in our app and on our website) God moved in ways we didn’t anticipate, and many members responded by asking for prayer from one another. So we decided to stay on the topic of “God’s restoration” for a while longer. And we’ll do that by looking at one of my favorite parables: The Waiting Father (more commonly known as “The prodigal son”)
Most of us are probably familiar with the story. It’s one of the most famous parables Jesus ever spoke. The wayward son doesn’t want to live with his father any longer, decides to leave, things don’t work out for him, and eventually, he comes back home. The father is so glad to have him back that he throws a party.
So far the short summary. But I think BECAUSE the story is so familiar, and because we all heard it many times before, we sometimes lose the significance of it.
- What is this story telling us about God and His character? Wouldn’t it have been better if the father simply didn’t let the son leave the house in the first place? Doesn’t that mean that God made a mistake?
- What was going on in the son’s heart? Why did he leave? How does that relate to us?
- What does the wilderness experience symbolize?
- Why did the father embrace the son immediately upon his return, and not discipline him first? Or at least ask him a few questions like “Are you sorry that you left? Can I trust you that you won’t leave again?”
- And since there is so much focus on the younger son: What about the older one? What side of us does he represent? How does God deal with that side of us? And what can we learn about God through the story of the older brother?
- If you had to choose: Which of these two sons would you rather be? (Hint: You don’t want to be the older one!)
That’s the kind of questions we will be covering over the next 2 Sundays. This Sunday (Sept. 24th) we’ll focus on the first part of the story, the son’s departure and return (Luke 15:11-24). The following week (Oct. 01st) we’ll then look in more detail at the older son (Luke 15:25-32).
We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday (Sept. 10th): The 2nd Fire
There are many topics that some churches unfortunately hardly talk about. One of them is the topic of “guilt”.
We all deal with it. We all struggle with it. It’s one of the most important things Jesus came to deliver us from. But reality is: Most Christians experience constant guilt, and don’t really know how to deal with it. Let alone, knowing how Jesus can take away our guilt.
Some of us try to simply ignore the fact that we sinned, that we feel shame, and we simply try to ignore all these feelings. We do that in different ways (trying to ignore it, trying to minimize our sin, comparing ourselves with “worse people”, to make ourselves feel better,…). But no matter how hard we try, the guilt and shame just comes back up at times, no matter how hard we try to cover it up.
Others of us in the Body of Christ are totally driven by our guilt. Our response is to simply try to “do more good than I did bad”. If we put ourselves in that category, we might do a lot of seemingly good things for others, for the church, for the poor and needy,… But if we’re honest, we’re not trying to help others. We’re simply trying to help ourselves, to feel better about ourselves.
Can you relate to these thoughts? Are you currently trying either of these “solutions”, just to find out that they don’t really work?
Then join our service this Sunday, September 10th, 3pm We’ll look at Jesus’ restoration of Peter (John 21), and how it applies to all of us.
Check out our app or Facebook page for details.
We hope to see you there.
Church Barbecue this Saturday, September 09th
As promised, here are the details for our church barbecue for this Saturday, September 09th.
We’ll meet at Angelo’s and Phonix’s place. The address is Erlbachstr. 15, 81249 München. Start is around 4:30pm, but we’re obviously very flexible (We don’t have a program, agenda, etc. We also don’t have an official end time, stay as long as you want to).
The main dishes will be provided (with main dishes I mean “anything that will end up on the barbecue grill”). But we would like to ask each person/family to bring a side dish (salads, fruits, breads, etc)
Please also make sure that you let Angelo & Phoenix know whether you’re coming, so they can prepare enough food for everybody. You can reach Angelo by text message (NOT WhatsApp) under 0174/9455278 or email under firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please also invite your friends who are not part of the Aletheia Community. Such a social event is a great opportunity to introduce others to our church in a more relaxed setting.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Angelo or Bernd.
We hope to see many of you there and being able to spend some relaxing time with you all.
Aletheia Barbecue: Saturday, September 09th
On Saturday, September 09th, we'll have a church barbecue. We'll meet at Angelo's and Phoenix's place. It'll take place in the late afternoon (starting around 4:30pm)
Everybody welcome. And please invite some of your friends too. (A great chance to connect others with our church community)
Details to come. For now, just save the date. Saturday, September 09th, 4:30pm.
We hope to see you there.
Service this Sunday 8/27
Life with God doesn't always turn out quite the way we expect it to. Sometimes things go great, sometimes they don't. And sometimes it looks like everything in our lives is falling apart.
How should we respond to those seasons? And how should we respond when it seems like God lost control over our situation?
Come and join our service this Sunday to hear more about this topic. Pastor Bernd will share his personal testimony. And we'll also look into some stories in the Bible when people's lives didn't work out quite the way they expected.
PLUS: After the service, Andre & Yeon will prepare food for everyone. So stay back a bit.
Informal Service this Sunday, August 20th
This Sunday (Aug. 20th) there will an informal Aletheia meeting (since Bernd & Ryoko are out of town). Angelo & Phoenix will be hosting a simple service (with video message and video worship) in Olching (exact address below). The meeting will take place at the regular time, 3pm.
Christliche Gemeinde Olching
Anzengruberstr. 1 / Ecke Daxerstr.
Angelo’s contact information
0174 9455278, email@example.com
Next Sunday (Aug. 27th) we’ll then have a regular service again at Bernd & Ryoko’s home.
Small Group this Sunday (8/13)
This Sunday (Aug. 13th) we will have our next small group meeting. We'll discuss and personalize last week's sermon on "God's Will, God's Way". (You can listen to it again through this app, under the "Sermons" Tab)
3pm - 5pm. We hope to see you there.
Aletheia August Schedule
We’ve settled our schedule for the remainder of the month:
August 13th: Small Group
August 20th: No official Aletheia meeting, since Bernd & Ryoko are out of town. We do however plan to offer an inofficial alternative. Tbc.
August 27th: Sunday Service
Each Sunday, 3pm. We hope to see you there.
Sermon topic this Sunday: God's Will, God's Way
Every Christian likes the “positive promises from God”, right?
- He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4)
- He will provide for all our needs (Phil. 4:19)
- He will give us fulness of joy (Ps. 16:11)
- Jesus will give us fullness of life (John 10:10)
We all like that. We pray for it. We believe it. We work towards it. We are all in. Just … to be disappointed one day, realizing that “we didn’t get it.”
At our service this Sunday (Aug. 06th) we will look at one of the reasons why many of us don’t get what God wants to give us. And that is simply this: We fall for the “shortcuts” the devil offers us.
What did the devil offer to Even in the Garden of Eden?
Genesis 3:5 For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
He offered Eve the desire of her heart: Being like God, knowing good and evil. God placed that desire in her. It’s her destiny. It’s our destiny. Those who put their trust in Jesus in this life will one day be like God. We will be perfectly loving, perfectly holy, perfectly wise,… We will be just like God, yet at the same time completely and perfectly submissive to Him and to His will. That’s our heart’s desire. That’s our destiny. The same was true for Eve. So the desire wasn’t bad at all. And what the devil offered Eve was NOT a bad thing!
What was bad was the WAY in which the devil offered Eve to reach that destiny. God’s plan was to grow and mature Adam and Eve, for them to obey God step by step, to learn more and more,… and reach their destiny over time. Adam and Eve’s part was: Obey God, trust in His ways, trust in His timing.
The devil offer was: “I can get you there, right here right now.” It was obviously a lie, because the devil knew that his way would lead to separation from God, not to their destiny. But that was what he offered to Eve, that’s what they wanted. And she and Adam both gave in.
Before we think too high of ourselves: I fall for that same lie every single day. And unless you’re Jesus, you do too.
So at our service this Sunday, we will go into more detail on this topic. We’ll try to identify what seem to be shortcuts to receiving our heart’s desire, that the devil is offering all of us every single day. We will try to identify the choices we have. And then to learn how to obey and trust in God’s way instead of taking the seeming shortcuts that are no shortcuts at all.
The service will be this Sunday, August 06th, Wirtstrasse 38, 3pm – 4:30pm.
Afterwards, we’ll offer an optional small group study where we can share with each other how the topic applies to us, where we can pray with/for each other, etc. The study will finish by 6pm.
We hope to see you there. :-)
Resisting temptations (Small Group this Sunday, July 30th)
The Bible tells us several times that we need to resist the devil’s schemes (e.g. 2. Cor. 2:11 “... in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his (the devil’s) schemes.”)
So far so good. But what are the devil’s schemes? What is temptation? And how can we resist doing the bad stuff that we are all struggling with?
That’s our topic for this Sunday’s small group Bible Study. Everybody welcome.
3pm – 5pm, Wirtstrasse 38.
Hope to see you there.
Aletheia Schedule for the next 2 weeks
Here is the Aletheia schedule for the upcoming two Sundays:
Sunday, July 30th: Small Group
Time: 3pm - 5pm
Sunday, August 06th: Service + Small Group
Topic: God's will, God's way
We all want to receive God's blessings. But it is human tendency that we want to get those blessings in our own way, instead of cooperating with God's way. Most of the time, we stand in our own way to receive what God longs to bless us with.
This weakness was already evident in the Garden of Eden, we see it everywhere throughout the Bible, and we struggle with the same weakness today.
Service: 3pm – 4:30pm
Optional Small Group: 5pm - 6pm
We hope to see you there.
Small Group this Sunday, July 23rd, 3pm
This Sunday we will meet for a small group Bible Study. The topic will be a follow-up to last week’s sermon. After talking about “God’s love” last week, we will now talk about a specific aspect of God’s love: God’s discipline. The main passage we will study is Hebrews 12:1-11.
We hope to see you there.
Our mobile app is now available!
We are very excited to inform you that our app is now available on both the Apple Store und the Google Play Store. With this app, you can then stay updated on everything that is going on around Aletheia:
- Listen to our Sunday sermons online
- Read our Pastor’s blog
- Stay updated on events and happenings at AIC
- Receive Push Notifications when new content is available in the app.
We want to encourage all members of Aletheia to stay connected with us through this app, since this will be the easiest way to receive all the info and updates about what’s happening at our church.
And if you are not living in Munich, but are still interested in being updated about our sermons, etc. then please download the app as well.
Simple follow this link: http://customers.customchurchapps.net/app/aletheiaintchurch. On there you can then select your store and download the app.
From now on we meet every Sunday, 3pm
From now on we will be meeting every Sunday, 3pm. Some Sundays we will be having a service, followed by a small group Bible study.
On other Sundays, we will only have a small group.
So the format will look a little bit different each week. But to make things easier for everybody to schedule, we now meet each week, 3pm.
We hope to see you there.