Back From Germany

Sharing about the cross the Father Heart Conference in Germany

No I’m not being crucified, at least not in this photo. This was a wonderful time sharing about the cross with the Father Heart Conference in Hannover. It was one of many wonderful and incredible moments hanging out with brothers and sisters in Germany. I can’t believe I spent two weeks in Germany and did not have time for one blog update from there. I’m so, so sorry. It was a whirlwind trip, to be sure, one that pushed me to the limits of exhaustion at one point. But I wouldn’t have traded the times I had with so many diverse groups and people from throughout Germany.

I began in Nuremburg, spending a few days there and then the first weekend at a retreat in Bavaria. From there I went to the area around Stuttgart for the week. Then on Thursday I took a train up to Hannover where I spoke at the Father Heart Conference. The final weekend I was near Hannover at another retreat of free-rangers exploring life in Jesus beyond our religious institutions.

What a fascinating trip! I met people all over the spectrum of this journey, from people deeply involved in and committed to church life lived out in corporate settings, some with 500 year old chalices that the saints have used to celebrate the Lord’s Supper through good times and bad, to those who no longer connect there and are wondering what’s next. The common thread was this—people have a growing hunger to truly engage a relationship with God, not just talk about one. Almost in every locale I was asked about the cross and how God had begun to reshape my thinking there fifteen years ago with some brothers and sisters in Australia.

I talk more about this trip in our recent podcast at The God Journey, but it refreshed me in the knowledge that the most important questions to be answered are not about “church” structures or “church” meetings, but have to do with knowing God as Father and learning to live in his love. If we don’t do that, no matter what we do for “church”, it will become a substitute for our not knowing him. Once we begin to connect with him in a real way, then we can follow him as he leads us into connections he wants to give us with others, in whatever setting best serves his work in us and the world.

Truly there are people all over the world who have a growing hunger for an intimate relationship with God that transforms their lives. As many of you know, I rarely do “lecture” presentations from the front of a room, but enjoy engaging conversations, whether it be two or three of us over a meal or 700 people in an auditorium, though that conversation is a bit more stilted. I loved hear the stories of how God has been stirring the hearts of his people to not settle for religious rituals, but to find their way into a real relationship with him. I love the questions people are asking that deal with real issues of the heart and the confusions brought on by much of their religious training.

At each locale we had an extended time to process a nonappeasement view of what God accomplished at the cross. So many Christians believe that Jesus died to satisfy the anger of his Father, instead of to resolve the sin and shame that kept us estranged from him. Viewing the cross as appeasement presents God as an abusive Father, who lures us into his kingdom under the threat of death and destruction. Instead, he is our Abba who invites us into his house to rescue us from all the ways that sin and shame seek to destroy us. There’s nothing I enjoy talking about more. I even did it in Hannover with a huge cross in the front of the building (see above) that helped people have an image of what was going on in Jesus during those incredible hours. (If you’ve never heard this view of the cross, which I believe to be the primary view of Paul, the apostle, you can listen to it here, and it’s free!)

I hope it was a blessing to those I was with. I can think of so many individual stories of dear, dear people finding their way into freedom and resonating so deeply with some of the things I’d written and some of the things we shared. I am deeply grateful to all those who made my trip so wonderful. I’m thankful to be home now for a delightful Thanksgiving celebration with my family and friends. I hope you have some warm and wonderful days this week with those you love as well.

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