Saturday, December 13, 2008

Antidote to Stagnation

Image source:
I watched Wall-E with the kids tonight.  I wasn’t too impressed with the movie, but the Special Features (Behind the Scenes, etc) were awesome!  Although everything on the Bonus DVD was (of course) carefully scripted, I was amazed at the number of times they talked about taking risks.

At one point, one of the producers mentioned that the Pixar team begins to ask questions if you don’t “fall off your bicycle.”  They ask questions such as, “Are you not taking enough risks?”  They feel that is the only way to avoid stagnation.

Think about that… the expectation that you will make some mistakes along the way.  They consider failure to be a valuable part of the process – something to be expected, not something to be feared.
What does this mean to us as we lead or serve on teams?

  • We have to make our teams safe places for people to take risks… places where (acceptable) risk, and “failing forward” is celebrated.
  • We have to lead our teams into thinking out of the box… this is often done by change of environment (place, time, structure, etc).
  • We have to be willing to take risks ourselves.  This requires that we deal with our insecurities and limitations - often a leader’s worst fear!

We can’t expect yesterday’s methods to reach today’s culture.  Oh that we would keep this in mind… especially as we lead organizations whose mission is attempting to direct a lost world toward Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Purpose of Christmas

I wrote an article entitled The Purpose of Christmas a few years ago... and thought you might enjoy it.  Here's a little teaser...
I gave in. What was I thinking? My wife asked (begged) me to go shopping with her on the day after Thanksgiving.  My answer?  Ok, sure.  What was I thinking?!?!  I hate shopping!  Even worse, I had agreed to go with her on the busiest shopping day of the year.  The only reason I can come up with is that if she went, I would be at home alone with all three kids ALL DAY LONG!  Oh well…
What I experienced last Friday was UGLY!  People were pushing, adults were fighting over toys & parking spaces (we saw two guys almost get in a fist fight over a parking space), and sales people were rude.  Honestly, it wasn’t all bad.  There were some people that seemed to have some perspective, but not many we ran into.
A bright spot in our day was when we were seated in a restaurant next to a new mom & her baby.  It just so happened that since our sitter was kind of young, we had our baby with us too.  She and Robin struck up a conversation and it wasn’t long before our conversation turned to spiritual things.  She was feeling guilty and alone (as an unwed mother).  We were able to share about Christ’s love and we invited her to visit our church.  It was a total God-ordained appointment.
Anyway, the whole consumer-driven, commercialized theme of the holiday shopping rush always seems to frustrate me.  I keep asking myself, “Don’t they get it?”  I mean… do they really think that’s what Christmas is all about?  If we look at the Christmas story from its original source, the Bible, we can determine the true meaning of Christmas.  Let’s look at it.  There are two biblical accounts to look at, Matthew 1:18-2:19 and Luke 1:5-2:40.
To read it online, click here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The wise use of influence

I have been reading through the Old Testament again.  As I read the story of Hezekiah yesterday, I came across these verses:

2Ch 30:1, 5-6
(1)  Then Hezekiah invited all of Israel and Judah, with personal letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, to come to The Temple of GOD in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover to Israel's God...
(5)  and they sent out the invitation from one end of the country to the other, from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north: "Come and celebrate the Passover to Israel's God in Jerusalem." No one living had ever celebrated it properly.
(6)  The king gave the orders, and the couriers delivered the invitations from the king and his leaders throughout Israel and Judah...

Here we see the king of the nation of Judah (which was divided from the nation of Israel at this time).  He decided that he (and his nation) would return to God wholeheartedly.  That in itself if a lot to try to accomplish, since his father had boarded up the Temple of God in Jerusalem.

He was zealous to draw Israel back to its roots as well.  And so he decided to use his god-given influence wisely: He called the people of Israel to return to God along with the people of Judah. (Notice how he referred to God as "Israel's God.")  He sent messengers all throughout the nation of Israel, encouraging them to join him in celebrating the Passover feast, something that had not been done since Solomon's time.

It made me think about our lives.  Everyday people leverage influence in the business world, school, society, etc.  They use it to get ahead in the world, to win acclaim for themselves or their cause.

Here we see a man that leveraged his influence to bring people back to their God.  He wasn't ashamed or afraid to call for a response in people over which he had no authority.  And although it wasn't totally successful, it did make a difference.

We need to pray for wisdom in the use of the influence God gives each one of us.  And that we'll make wise choices that increase this influence.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'm home!!!

My USA fundraising trip was crazy, but amazing! In three weeks I traveled a little over 17,500 miles, counting 14 flights. I spoke in 15 services and did 3 leadership training sessions. The coolest part was that I was able to pray with four students to give their hearts to Christ.

Now I'm back home and trying to ease back into the Central European Time Zone. It hasn't been pretty so far, but sometimes that's the way it goes. I have one week of down time with my family before heading to Frankfurt (Oder), Germany for four days to do evangelistic school and street outreach, as well as leadership training and a service for the host church. For an updated ministry schedule, check out our website:

I wanted to thank all of you that supported this trip with your finances and prayers. We continue to be amazed at our partners and friends... You're helping us change the spiritual landscape of a planet!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Interestingly fun evening planned!

I (Jon) am currently in Lexington, SC.  Tonight I speak in a Presbyterian youth group, and then hop in a car to go to a non-denominational church to speak to their youth group.  This is a first for me.  I'm used to doing one church on Sun. morning, and another on Sun. evening, but back-to-back will be something new!

The wildest part is that God has put two different messages on my heart.  For the first one, I'll talk about discovering God's purpose for your life. ("Why are you here?")  For the 2nd one, I'll be talking about our expectations... how God conform to our preconceived ideas. ("What are you looking for?")

I'm really excited to see what God will do in both groups!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Leaders show up

image source:

Does this picture describe you in meetings?

One of the greatest requirements of a spiritual leader is that they are present while they lead.  So many people are satisfied to live on autopilot. But leaders can't afford to do this... there's too much at stake!

We can never afford to give less than our all.  God has entrusted us with people that are so precious to Him that He was willing to give His only son for them.  And Jesus sacrificed His very life for them!
We have to do whatever it takes to lead authentically -- from our hearts.  We have to engage the people we are serving.

One of the foundations of leadership is credibility.  And credibility comes through believability.  In order for us to be believable we have to connect with the hearts of those we lead.

Jesus had the amazing ability to connect with His audiences.  He was fully present in everything He did.  He even engaged while he was on the cross.  His statement, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" is proof of this.  He could have checked out and simply paid the price, but He chose to be present.

We have to do the same!  It is the one of the marks of a true leader.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

US Trip

I (Jon) leave on Wednesday for a three week trip to the USA.  I'll be traveling to both coasts and the Midwest.  It'll be a lot of traveling, but a lot of fun.

Now it's the mad dash to get everything finished before I leave(ministry taxes, mentoring phone calls and emails, newsletter, etc).

If you're in the area, come see me at one of the following places:

For up-to-date schedule information or available ministry dates, please check out our website calendar.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Missions thoughts from Robin (part 4)

One of my concerns before we moved to Germany was that maybe this wasn’t God’s will after all. Maybe all this trouble was a big mistake. Deep inside you really know, but there will be questions here and there. Brother Hagin always said that it’s possible to have faith in your heart and doubts in your head. But I think it’s better to go ahead and follow what you think is God’s will and fail, than to never try.

Some people think that it is really too big of a step to take a family overseas to live. (that is why so few ever take the chance) But that’s why it is so rewarding to do what we do. We took a leap of faith and now are able to watch God work in ways that we never would have known. I think in many ways that it is really more of a leap of faith to NOT follow the will of God. With Him, you know that it will all work out.

Just continue doing what you were doing in your city… but do it in another country.


PS. is a godsend!

Missions thoughts from Robin (part 3)

No matter where you are on the earth, in God’s will is the safest place to be. With the political uncertainties that are going on right now in the country you're headed to, it’s important to know that God is in control. We came over here two weeks after 9/11 and things were very uncertain. But, when we got here we knew that this was the right place.

Missions thoughts from Robin (part 2)

Remember the call of God. Write down what He is telling you to do. When the times get tough -- and they will -- you can look at what God said and it will keep you there. There are some extremely lonely times on the mission field. Times where you are in the middle of many people and feel completely alone.

I remember a time when I was at a hardware store and couldn’t figure out how to ask for a concrete screw so I could hang a picture on the wall. I just started crying in the middle of the aisle. Then, I had a good laugh. Many times were frustrating just trying to decipher the bills and the kids' homework. But they all add up to a wonderful and challenging experience that I wish everyone could have.

Missions thoughts from Robin (part 1)

Some friends of ours are leaving in a few weeks for the mission field.  Robin wrote this for them and I thought it was good advice for anyone interested in being a missionary.

I am so glad that you are obeying God and taking this challenge. We are praying for you and your children! I was thinking about what I wished other people would have told me before I left for the mission field and what advice I did receive that has helped over the years.

The first part of the journey is all so quick and exciting that even the frustrating parts are fun. It’s amazing to watch the children learn and adapt to their new environment. Learn from them. They are watching you to see if this new place is okay. As I read about others’ experiences on the field, I am so convinced that the difference between a bad and good experience for the children is the attitude of the parents.

I think one of my biggest challenges is to keep positive about the cultural differences that bug me. Patsy Cameneti once told me that if we continually talk about all the things that we don’t like about the mission field it frustrates the grace of God on our lives.

I am so proud to be an American. There are so many freedoms that you will give up to serve in another country. Many Europeans that I have met long to live in America. Even if they don’t really understand the politics …they understand that America equates with freedom. Because of that, many will be excited to get to know you. They want to know more about you and God will use this as an opportunity to lead them to Him. On the other hand, some people will not like you just because you are an outsider. Their long time prejudices will come out in strange and hurtful ways. This is an even greater chance to show the love of God. Your neighbors will be watching you. (When we meet people in our village, they usually tell us all about our family.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Those we leave behind

I was reading a blog from some of our dear friends that are moving to Russia to become missionaries for a season. It brought back some memories I had completely forgotten.

I can still remember the “OH MY GOD!!!” feelings as we were preparing to leave. It seems as if there’s not enough time to do what needs to be done. And then there’s all the people that don’t want you to go, etc. Our friend wrote about her concern for those they are leaving behind.

In actuality, the very best thing you can do for those you leave behind is to model what a sold-out life looks like. It’s one thing to tell people that Jesus is our Lord… it’s an entirely different thing to actually live it out in our daily lives.

I finally made peace with the feeling of leaving people behind by understanding that our lives are constantly in motion. And we move in and out of the lives of others, as they do in ours. Some relationships are with people that are simply passing through, while others are permanent… and they leave a permanent mark on us.

As we obey what God calls us to do, we position those we leave behind to understand God’s greatness and His grace. I say “position them” because it’s entirely up to them how they choose to react to change. If they react correctly, their hunger to find God’s plan for their lives will grow. And then the Plan of God moves forward... All because we've decided to trust God enough to obey Him.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Spiritual authority

I was reading 2 Cor. 12 today and came across something that's really been challenging to me as a leader. I saw it for the first time a number of years ago, but every time I see it again, it becomes even more clear.

Notice in 2 Cor. 12:21 Paul says,

I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.

In context, Paul is talking about a discipline problem in the church that he established at Corinth. But what is he talking about when he says that God will humble him? Let's look down in the next chapter...

This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority--the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. - 2 Cor. 13:10

He is talking about the use of spiritual authority. He is saying that exercising spiritual authority is a humbling thing.

We've gotten it all wrong! We seem to think that the exercise of authority is a show of power. We thrown our weight around to show everyone who's boss. We establish the chain of command. And we see this in churches as well as in the world around us. Churches that fall into this mindset end up becoming what we call toxic churches because they end up hurting anyone involved in them.

Paul understood the exercise of authority to be a humbling experience. It wasn't something he wanted to do, but HAD to do. He was writing this letter so he wouldn't have to use his authority.

What I'm trying to say is that the biblical exercise of spiritual authority is not an display of power, but instead an act of humility. It's something we do for the good of the people we're serving; not for our good. The world system, which is concerned with power, prestige and position hasn't figured this out yet!

We need to relearn what Jesus said

The greatest among you will be your servant. - Matt. 23:11

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Finding your place

I met a man today that handles the finances for most of the Wycliff missionary projects in Europe and western Asia. And he says it's amazing how perfectly suited he is for this job.

He started out a number of years ago as a church planter in Japan. When his organization needed some help in the financial and organizational dept, he volunteered. He had left a successful job in the banking industry to plant churches. As he helped in this area, he realized how perfectly suited he was for this.

It's definitely not as important in man's eyes, but it is vital for the success of Wycliff Bible Translators... and he's making a difference behind the scenes. As he puts it, "It's not glamorous, nor does it look really good in a newsletter, but it's exactly what God created me to do." How refreshing to hear someone who has found and is fulfilling God's will for their lives!

It's sort of the same for us... we came over to reach every teen in Europe. We planted youth ministries, did evangelistic outreaches, mission trips, camps, seminars, conferences, street ministry, etc... all with and for teens.

And although we had success, we began to notice that we felt the most in our element when we were training leaders. As we began to do more and more training, we saw the huge need for someone to come alongside European leaders and coach/mentor them. And we began to recognize the shift in the grace on our lives... away from the actual youth ministry and more into leadership development. It's not as sensational as doing all the street ministry, but it's just as important... and it's exactly what we were put on this earth to do. what Jesus did when He walked the earth. He spent most of His time training His disciples so they could change the world!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

God answers prayer

When we first moved to Germany, we lived in a small village. We began to pray for opportunities, and did so for five years, with no visible results. Then one Halloween night, they had a Halloween block party in front of our house (nothing more than an excuse to drink), so I went out to make conversation.

I asked our Catholic neighbors if they got to see the Pope when he was in the area the week before. When our other neighbor, a 25 yr old that was already really drunk, began to ridicule Catholicism, they got into an argument. Then the young man turned to me and said, “Jon, you’re a Bible teacher, right? Tell us what you think… is there a God?”

I had practiced giving my testimony in German in less than five minutes, so here was my opportunity. All those standing around heard the response… about 6 – 7 of them. When I finished, he said, “Ahh… that’s all a bunch of [sewage].” Then, he and the other neighbors started to argue again.

Their conversation came to the forgiveness of sins, and the young man turned to me and said, “Jon, you started this argument… what do you think about the forgiveness of sins?”

I said, “First, I didn’t start the argument. I was just making conversation. Second, if you really want to know, I can tell you what the Bible says about the subject.”

He scoffed and said, “The Bible is nothing more than a fairy tale book.”

So I said, “Then you probably aren’t interested in hearing what I have to say. If we can have a respectful conversation, I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned.”

He said, “Okay… I’m sorry. Tell me.”

At this point, all the neighbors were there… about 20 – 25 of them. And it was like an E.F. Hutton commercial where everybody stops what they’re doing and listens. They were still drinking and standing around their tables, but I could tell that they were intently listening. So, speaking a little louder than usual, I clearly presented the plan of redemption, starting with Adam and finishing with the resurrection, in about 7 minutes.

When I finished, the young man’s mom said, “Now Jon, I think you can be a good Christian and not go to church.”

I replied, “You totally misunderstood what I said about being a Christian. You’re either a part of the family of God or not.” Then I took another few minutes to share with her the Gospel message from a different viewpoint. It was exciting to see the fruit of our relational investment pay off in a rich opportunity to give the Gospel to all of our neighbors at the same time. God answers prayer!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Insights from moving

The moving process is often so surreal. You find all these things that you saved or filed for one reason or another. It's amazing how much of this is stuff (read: junk) accumulates on our shelves, in our drawers and on our desks.

Most of the papers, magazines, letters, etc. were filed away because they had value of some sort. Now, in some cases many years later, we look at them and think, "I don't even know why I saved this."

And then there's all the trinkets, cables, connectors, parts to various toys, electronics and office stuff that serve no purpose because either the devices or toys are now dead, given away or thrown away.

It's a true parallel to our lives. We accumulate so much stuff... hurts, disappointments, broken dreams and pain, which lead to unforgiveness and bitterness.

Every now and then we need to reflect on our lives, and the things we've accumulated (emotional baggage). Ps. 139:23-24 is a prayer asking God to reveal the things we've accumulated that will hinder us from becoming who He's created us to be. It's a prayer God will answer. And then He'll help us to work on what we discover.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


As I said before, we found a house in southern Germany and will be moving there next week. But while we were down there looking at houses, we stayed for a week in a vacation apt that was owned by a sweet older farming couple.

They let the girls help them gather eggs from the henhouse and pick cherries. They even gave us over $15 worth of cherries from their Jon & Herr Lang with his Stilltrees. She took us to show us their orchards, he showed me the "Still" he had in his barn, which he uses for making Schnapps (see picture, right), and took the kids on a tractor ride for Ashton's birthday (don't worry Granddad, you won't be replaced!)... they even helped us look through the want ads for houses.

We really enjoyed talking with them (only in German!). On one of the last days we were there, I mentioned how beautiful one of the roadside crosses was. She said it was an old German custom to bless the roads by building a roadside shrine.

Then she shared how she was confused by the last couple they met (Christians) whose children were going to the same school ours will attend. This lady had told her of how Germans shouldn't have these crosses everywhere. To paraphrase this lady's own words, "Jesus is not on the Cross anymore, so why should we make all these shrines."

I shared with our host that the lady was probably only trying to point out that she would rather celebrate the resurrection, and not just the death of Jesus Christ. This seemed to make sense to our host, and it opened up a short opportunity to share about how the Cross brought us forgiveness of sins. This happened because we invested in a relationship with them, and were willing to accept them for who they are.

It's important to always use tact when seeking to communicate spiritual truth to a lost person. Paul exemplified the use of tact in Acts 17:16-31... we should do the same!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


We FINALLY found a house! If you've followed our blogs, you've seen that we've had a lot of trouble finding a place. Although the house we settled on wasn't our first choice because of the size, we got it for a good price and it's incredibly convenient - only a few hundred feet from the girls' school and a few minutes from Ryan's school.

So... bottom line: God is good! He doesn't always work on our time schedule, but it definitely pays to trust Him!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sometimes life stinks

Okay... so this house that we were promised (in a handshake agreement until the contract could be mailed to us) was rented to someone else. It's really frustrating, but sometimes life just stinks.

One of the things I've learned is that although I can't control the way people treat us, I can control my response to them. As is the case with most of us, our first reaction was a desire to go help this man rearrange his priorities (if you know what I mean)... but we have instead chosen to see it as God protecting us from having a landlord with a serious lack of character. And for that, we're thankful!

So the house search goes on...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Exciting news... we found a house! We found a house that is a lot bigger than our current apt, and cheaper as well. It's only about 10km (a little over 6 miles) from the kids' school. The local train takes only 15 minutes to get to Basel (with its international airport and further train connections) and runs every 30 minutes.

We're really excited about it! It has a bedroom or each of the kids and we have a big bedroom. And although our bedroom is unfinished, we get to finish it out however we want to (within reason) at the owner's expense. It's set in the quaint German village of Wintersweiler (Efringen-Kirchen).

Map image

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hard Drive Funeral

After a valiant fight, my laptop hard drive gave up the ghost. It finally succumbed to a worn ball bearing. Fortunately, my supergeek friend rescued not only my data, but my laptop and my pride as well. Moral: Backup, backup, backup!!! (or to quote a cheesy Christian saying, "Jesus saves, so should you!")

Anyway, I'm going to give my old hard drive a proper funeral with a big hammer and a pair of pliers!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Youth Ministry blogs...

Be sure to check out our new blogs... their purpose is to assist those that work with youth. (duhh!!!) We have received a number of questions over the years. In these blogs we'll share the answers we gave.

Having worked with youth for over 20 years, and having served in a teaching/coaching and mentoring capacity for youth workers for the past ten years, we have learned that for every person that asks a question, there are twenty more that would like to have the same question answered.

These blogs are an attempt to share what we've learned through successes, observations and many mistakes. We hope they will be a blessing to you!

Youth Ministry Q & A (English)

Jugenddienst Q & A (Deutsch)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Residence visa

On Monday I got confirmation that our German permanent residence visas have been approved. Instead of having them put in our passports, we've opted to try for the EU permanent residence visas... just in case we may someday want to relocate to another EU country. It would totally streamline the process.

We take the test (on German culture, politics, business, etc) right after I get back from the USA. In order to get an EU visa, we have to prove that we are acclimated to the local culture. And even if we don't pass the test, we will still get our permanent German visas. We'll keep you posted...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Coming to the USA!

Coming soon to a city near you!

Jon will be doing a month-long trip to Texas and Indiana from May 22 - June 16. If you're anywhere near those two states, he'd love to see you. Robin and the kids will be in Germany preparing for the move to southern Germany while he is in the US raising money for it!

Check out our website calendar to see where and when we'll be near you... Or check out Jon's band myspace page at

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Russian Space Shuttle

Today Robin and the kids got to see a barge carrying an old Russian Space Shuttle go by our apartment (on the Rhine River) on its way to a museum in Speyer, Germany. We'll try to put some pictures on our page.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The dreaded black tongue!!!

On Monday night I went to bed with a bit of an upset stomach. I awoke in the middle of the night with stomach pain and took a couple of Pepto Bismol chewable tablets. They took care of the problem and I went right back to sleep.

The next morning I awoke with the absolute worst taste in my mouth -- and breath to match. I was a walking biological WMD!!! (Anything THAT bad HAD to come from the devil himself!) When I went to brush my teeth I noticed that the entire surface of my tongue was covered with a black film. I was freaking out! I had no idea what this was from. I thought it might be from the stomach flu that Robin, Ryan and Emma had been fighting, or I had picked up some sort of parasite from the Döner Kebab sandwich I had eaten the day before, or something worse...

Well, the night before last I had some really spicy food before bed. Again I ate a Pepto Bismol chewable tablet... and again I awoke with the horrendous taste and venomous breath!!! Lo and behold... the dreaded black tongue had returned! To quote Forrest Gump, "I may not be the smartest man...", but I was able to put two and two together and figure out the source.

The moral of the story: Don't eat spicy food before bed!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A little bit of America

Tonight our family had a fun night in downtown Bonn. We had dinner at Pizza Hut, followed by a donut at Dunkin' Donuts... all right in the main city square in Bonn. You can't get much more American than that! We would have done Starbuck's as well, but decided we had more than enough sugar for one evening. Needless to say, we really had fun.

We're definitely going to miss this place. Robin even commented as we were driving home, "Now that I've finally learned the streets of Bonn we're going to move." As the Germans would say, "Na ja, so ist dass." (That's just the way it is.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I know it's a little late to be writing about an Easter theme, but just indulge me a little bit. I led worship for the Easter service at our church and wanted to take a couple of minutes and encourage the people to remember what we were celebrating. It was about John 11:25 where Jesus said, "I am, right now, Resurrection and Life."

It ended up being recorded by an mp3 player in the back of the room, but it's still understandable. If you're interested in hearing it, click on It's me along with a German translator, since everything we do in our church is in two languages.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Light-filled lives (part 5)

If we're not experiencing this light-filled life Jesus spoke about in Jn. 8:12, there are some practical things we can do about it. We've seen that we need to remove distractions around us. But there is another, more proactive thing that we can do.

If we want to experience more light in our lives, we need to spend more time with the light-giver.
  • Jn. 1:4 In him [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of men.
  • Jn. 1:9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
Jesus referred to Himself as the Light of the world. It's not just something He does... it's who He is! As we continue to come to Him, we'll begin to experience more of this abundant, light-filled life He has for us.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Light-filled lives (part 4)

The next thing we need to do is to get quiet. This is different from removing distractions. Distractions are things on the outside. Getting quiet refers to things inside us.

Ps. 131:2 (NIV) But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

I have a friend that used to make "dates" with God. She would set the time and place, and then would show up with nothing else planned for hours. She usually had this quiet time on a hill out in a forest. She said the peace of the place enabled her to forget all that was going on in her life and focus on God and His presence.

I like to get up early and sit in my favorite chair... just me, my Bible and Jesus! It's a great way to start the day off right.

It's not important how you do it... the important thing is that you actually do it! You need to write it into your planner and guard this time like you would an extremely important business meeting. The more often you do it, the easier it gets to quiet yourself in the real world!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Light-filled lives (part 3)

Okay... it's 12:16am and I'm still awake... surfing! I need to go to bed, but I'm only one click away from more information or a great article that I can use either personally or in our ministry.

With that in mind, let's look at the things that steal from us...

Heb. 12:1 (CEV) Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won't let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.

Notice the things that we are supposed to get rid of in order to run our race successfully... of course we know that we should do away with sin. Sin is anything contrary to God's nature, anything that comes between us and Him.

But Paul tell us we're also supposed to remove anything that slows us down. This is talking about distractions. These aren't sins; but they are things that steal from us. They steal our energy, our time and, in essence, they steal life from us.

As I mentioned, one of the "thieves" that I deal with is the internet. I'm not talking about porn sites or anything crazy like that; but I am talking about news, history and human interest websites. If I'm not careful, I will waste hours of my life on them... time which I can never get back.

When we find we're not experiencing the "abundant life" that Jesus promised us... we often need to simplify: unplug, logoff (of course I'm not referring to THIS blog!) and get away. This takes discipline, but the benefits are incredible!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Light-filled lives (part 2)

If you are experiencing darkness (lack of direction and purpose, or hopelessness), what should you do? I believe the first thing you need to do is to remove the distractions around you.

My son has the amazing ability to play a video game, listen to music and carry on a conversation with me. Actually, when we're playing a video game together, he tells me how to do my part while he's kicking tail on his part. I often can't even figure out where I am on the screen, and he knows where we both are, while seeing where the enemy or the next turn is. It's pretty scary!

But when it comes to homework, I have taught him to get rid of all distractions. If the TV is on or the girls are playing in the room, it will be difficult for him to concentrate. Even though he is a multi-tasker, these distractions steal his attention away from what needs to be done. But more on that later...

Light-filled lives (part 1)

John 8:12 (MSG) Jesus once again addressed them: "I am the world's Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in."

This is an interesting verse... Jesus says His followers won't have to stumble around in darkness. In theory this works great. But I find that, in practice, it's often a different story. I meet so many people that just don't seem to know who they are or what they're supposed to do. It's as if they're walking around in darkness.

But according to this verse, believers don't have to walk in darkness. It's not supposed to be a part of our experience. On the contrary, our lives are supposed to be full of light (read direction, purpose and hope). It is a fringe benefit to "Kingdom life."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


So our family is now halfway through the first week of a two-week vacation. The kids are already bored. We're trying not to let the spend too much time in front of the TV, but it's not easy. We're probably going to try to drive over to Paris and spend a couple of nights next week. There's a lot to see there... even if we don't speak the language!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Turn -- How to Leave

Robin initially wrote this a week ago, but we didn't post it for fear that people might think we're frustrated or dissatisfied with our pastors or our current ministry position. This isn't the case at all. I re-read it and not only found it an excellent article... I think it would be wrong for us not to post it. Many people are dealing with transition incorrectly... and paying the price for it. Anyway, here's Robin's blog. Enjoy! - Jon

Okay, enough from the boys... it's my turn :)

As we are turning this new corner of our lives and moving to Southern Germany, I have been thinking of transitions.

I think for many people when there is a change ahead, God begins moving their hearts first and then moves the rest of them. There seems to be a general feeling of discontent. If we're not careful, we begin to look at our surroundings, our job or even our church as the source of this frustration... when actually it is God's leading. We may think that the job or church has changed; when in reality, it's still the same and we are changing.

I believe that we have a certain grace to be in the place where God has us at the time.

Acts 17: 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

When the grace subsides, we begin to re-evaluate things and thus the feeling of discontent. If you are in transition, be careful not to get cynical when looking at your surroundings; just know that God is moving you on... and it's going to be an even better place than before!

What's your price?

People give up when the price to go on gets too high. They shut down a new business when the bills start piling up. They divorce when there is too much stress in the relationship. They change their major in college when they get bored with what they're doing.

Ministers are the same... many quit when the price gets too high. Every year about 1500 pastors quit the ministry. I believe that most of the time it's because the price is too high. Maybe they've prayed and prayed for something, but never see the results. Maybe they've given and given, but feel as if they've not received anything in return. Maybe the church, the people they're counseling, or even their leaders seem to make no progress... they possibly even decline.

But we have to be able to persevere through the hard times if we ever wish to see the good times. We can't expect the devil to allow us to fulfill God's plan unopposed. Hard times are a part of life in the real world. Actually, Paul told Timothy to expect them... and to endure them! (2 Tim. 2:3, 4:5) How we handle hard times will determine our ability to complete God's will for our lives.

One of my mentors says your church will grow to the size of your pain threshold. How true that is! When we reach our pain threshold (our price), most of us give up. And the thing about it is that once the devil finds our price, he knows what buttons to push the next time. And it will get harder and harder to keep going.

So the $64,000 question is... how do I increase my pain threshold? I believe that it's nothing other than time spent with God, and with a community of supportive believers. And Heb. 12:3 tells us that in the face of opposition we should consider Jesus, and what He endured to accomplish His mission. It also helps to know that you're in God's will. If we do these things, we will be able to endure the hard times in order to see the positive results on the other side.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Timing in leadership

In the Gospel of John, we see over and over again that Jesus is keenly aware of God's timing as it concerns his mission. For instance...
  • Jn 2:4 He said, "My time has not yet come."
  • Jn 7:1-9 He said, "For me the right time has not yet come."
  • Jn. 7:30, 8:20 "...they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come."
  • Jn 13:1 "Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father."
  • Jn 17:1 As Jesus starts to pray, he says, "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you."

This sense of timing enabled Jesus to focus on the task at hand. He never jumped the gun though impatience. And he never missed an opportunity because of indecision. He was always at the right place at the right time... this is truly a formula for success!

What about us? How does this apply to us? We need to understand God's timing as it concerns our ministries. For a few people this is natural, but for most us, this is a learned skill. Time spent with God will sensitize us to His timing, getting us to the right place at the right time. In Jn 16:13, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit will show us things to come.

Take some time today to ask God to begin revealing His timing to you so you can make the divine appointments He has for you!

Thursday, March 6, 2008


It has been said that there is no success without a successor. This is so true! If we don't leave behind a thriving organization, how can we call ourselves leaders? In this case, we are nothing more than influential people. But true leaders make an impact by developing and positioning others to take the rudder and steer the ship towards its destiny.

Isaiah 61 is very clear about the purpose of God-given leadership. The first three verses talk about a leader that fulfills their call to develop others. Then in the next six verses we see the results of developing others: they go farther and accomplish more than the leader ever could do on his/her own. And they get the acclaim. But in the end result, it doesn't matter who gets the credit, as long as we're all doing our part in the Kingdom of God. If we do that, Jesus gets the glory, as He should!

New youth leaders

It is finally beginning to resonate in me how short of a time we have left before we move to southern Germany. We met with our youth leaders tonight and did some planning for our last retreat with the teens here. It was tough to begin to think about leaving this group that has come to be a part of our lives for the past six years.

On the other hand, it is exciting to see what God has done through a number of those that have gone through our program. As a matter of fact, the guy that will take over after me was a teen in my first bible study here. It's exciting to see what God is doing in him.

I am determined to make the most of the time I have left in pouring myself into both the leaders and the teens God has given us to serve. Tonight we talked about potential new leaders, and how to bring them into the team. I'll keep you posted!

Where we're headed

In July we'll be moving to the Loerrach area, in the Black Forest of Southern Germany, directly across the river from Basel, Switzerland. Since we won't be working at a local church anymore, we'll be able to focus on leadership development. This is the greatest need among the churches of Europe. Most churches are either dying off or barely surviving.

We intend to do more traveling to places where leadership training is welcomed and needed. Of course it’s easier to get everyone together for a seminar or a conference, but you can have a greater impact by coaching and mentoring. We intend to do both seminars and mentoring, mainly with church staffs, youth and music ministers… and we’ll do it in either German or English, whichever is needed. I also plan to do more writing and making leadership podcasts. And, of course, we will still be teaching in Bible Schools from time to time. We may even host a missions team or two!

Have a great day!

What we do now

We are currently the Youth and LIFE Group (small group) Pastors of RHEMA Bible Church in Bonn, Germany. We were the worship leaders here for a few years, but we have trained a couple other guys to take this area of the ministry and run with it!

We also teach at RHEMA Bible Training Center in Bonn, and in the RHEMA mobile Bible Training Centers throughout Germany. While Robin focuses on doctrinal courses, I teach primarily leadership and practical ministry courses.

When we're not ministering at the church or the Bible School, we do leadership training and mentoring, and produce leadership and youth ministry materials for European leaders. Click on the video on the right to see a YouTube video of what we do.

But a change is coming...

Who are we?

Hello everyone! Welcome to my first weblog. I've done a bit of blogging on our website ( and our myspace (, but I think I've now found a permanent home for my blogs.

As for the magic question of who we are, Robin (my best friend) and I have been married for 15 years, have three wonderful children and live in Bonn, Germany. We are missionaries to European teens. Less than 1% of European teens have a genuine relationship with Christ. Our focus is on equipping leaders to reach and disciple this lost generation.

More about what we do next time.