As I reflect on the past year, I think back over all the events that have made it what it was. I think over the good and the bad, the joy and the sadness and the victories and the defeats. Much of my life has been characterized by winning and losing. When you choose coaching as a career path it’s hard to get away from that. Your success is perceived by whether you are a winner or loser. It becomes easy to look at yourself in relation to where you stand within the table.
Whether we admit it or not, as humans we use winning and losing to measure success in relation to others. As much as we may say that we don’t think this way, our Facebook and Instagram accounts would beg to differ. We fill them with our recognitions and honors, we humble brag over the gifts our children are to this world and we sneak our wins into posts over our beautiful vacations and experiences. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with celebrating our successes, but God also works through our defeats.
God did this in my life to bring me to a place where I could better understand His will for my family and me. In fact it was the defeats that enabled me to see his will in a deeper way. As God humbled me of my position I began to lean more fully on Him. I began to understand that I had slowly allowed my successes to replace my worship of Him with myself. This is what we do when we only talk about our successes. We use them as an opportunity to bring glory to ourselves instead of our God.
As I reflect back on this past year, I have learned how to embrace both the victories and the defeats. I believe this can only be done when God becomes the center of our worship. I have not mastered this. I still struggle at times with the defeats and elevating myself in the victories, but I am learning to bring praise to my Father with both. The exciting thing is that when our lives are founded in worship to God, then our desires become His desires and we can’t help but bear witness to who He is.
Just like the angels announcing His birth, we cannot contain our worship. When we begin to understand that God has come to make peace with us we should not be able to contain our desire to bear witness of Him.
This time of year we remember when God set his plan in motion to defeat our shame and guilt. The victory was sure that night Love came down to us and we only need to look at the Lamb that was slain to remember that the victory is ours for those who are in Christ. So push on, my brothers and sisters, for He came to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat and He did this for you and me.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”
I Corinthians 15:57
May your reflections of the past and hopes for the future be founded in bringing glory to the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The Christmas season is a beautiful time in Germany. It gives us many opportunities to come together with others, even those from other cultures and backgrounds. Our church hosted an international Thanksgiving dinner to start the season and we had people from all over the world in attendance. Two special families from Syria joined us and we continue to build relationships with them around the table. Pray for their hearts to be drawn to new life.
Our work in Reinickendorf and Pankow culminated in Christmas parties with the children and families we are working with there. Our co-worker in Reinickendorf, Tabea, told the story of Christ coming and how it made possible His rescue of mankind on the cross. It was a powerful culmination to our year of sharing Jesus with these boys and girls.
Two weeks ago we started a new outreach into a Heim near our home that has asked us to specifically come in and work with the men in the camp. Some ladies from our church have been consistently working here and this has created the opportunity for us to work with the men through soccer. This is a tremendous answer to prayer because men are so important to reaching the whole family. We are praying for wisdom to know how to see fruit from this opportunity.
The season has also been busy with serving our church family. Our youth ministry was in full swing this month and we enjoyed anticipating Christ coming through many events throughout the month. Our whole family sang in different Christmas programs throughout the season. The girls performed with the children for our church and Cherry, Jeannie and I were able to sing in the Christmas Eve Service. Our pastor shared a powerful gospel message with many visitors in attendance. We ended the service singing Silent Night in German and English by candlelight. We also had the teens and men from our church in our home this month for fellowship. We continue to be thankful for the people God has brought around us over the past year in a half. We are blessed beyond measure by our new friends and family here in Berlin.
We have enjoyed spending time together as a family at the Christmas markets around Berlin. The girls love ice skating and have enjoyed visiting different rinks across the city. We were able to spend time in Braunschweig at a beautiful Christmas market with some good friends from Bremen this past weekend.
Quinn and Gracie finished another semester in their school. We are thankful for the German traditions we are discovering through the girls education. One of our favorites is the singing circle centered on Christmas. We enjoyed hearing both girls sing Christmas songs and carols in both English and German with their classmates.
This month has also given us many opportunities to spend time with co-workers and friends. We have grown close with the other staff at our church and we have had many opportunities to celebrate together. We are thankful for those working alongside us and encouraging us along from both near and far. Thank you for joining with us in making Christ known in this city. We are thankful to share with you in the fruit that is being produced for God’s glory. We especially are grateful for those of you who partner with us financially. Your gifts are a sweet savor that remind us to call others to worship Christ, the greatest gift.
Praise for God’s grace in providing opportunities to share the gospel through Christmas programs and parties.
Praise for God’s faithfulness in bringing our family through another year in good health.
Prayer for enthusiasm to encourage other believers in Berlin to truly worship God and bear witness of Him.
Prayer for wisdom to hear the Spirit’s leading as we seek effective outreach to refugees in the communities we are working in.