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All Packed and Ready to Go

Today was the big day – our container came and we packed it full. We had an amazing crew of helpers. You see most of those who helped in the picture, but there were some who didn’t get in. Most of them are from staff of Calvary Chapel of Siegen – a wonderful group of brothers and sisters in Jesus who really love God and love His people like they should. Many of these same people helped us unload a container at that same house seven years ago. We’re going to miss working with these great men and women of God, whom He is really using to build something special in Siegen, in Germany, and in Europe.

It was a lot of work, but they did it all with a cheerful heart. They canceled normal staff meeting to come and help, and Pastor Alex even joked that this was the most productive staff meeting they ever had! And the work was done fast. That whole container was loaded in well less than 2 hours. I didn’t think that would happen, but it did.

As for Inga-Lill and myself, we are just happy that it is over. All our “stuff” is packed and on the way to Santa Barbara. There is a real sense of relief and freedom in having that hard job done. Thank You, Jesus!

Thank You Jesus for strengthening us through this big job.

Thank You Jesus for Jonathan and Karen who worked so hard to make this move happen.

Thank You Jesus that You brought so many wonderful people to us here in Siegen.

Thank You Jesus for all that You have ahead for us in Santa Barbara.

Thank You Jesus that You and Your work for us on the cross is bigger and better than anything and everything. Thank You that all that “stuff” of ours in a container is just that – “stuff.”

Father’s Day

First of all, “Happy Father’s Day” to my dad, Richard Guzik. He is and has been a great dad for me and all my brothers and sisters. There are five Guzik kids born to my parents, and two sets of twins (my mom and dad had five kids born in four years).

Here is a little Father’s Day gift that Jonathan did for me. He’s quite the graphic artist, and knows how to use Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. He’s done a lot of comic-book style stuff in the last year, because he was editor of his high school yearbook and they had a comic book/superhero theme for the yearbook.

The idea, as he explained, is “Dad as a Comic-Book Featured Bible Commentator.” Of course it’s both funny and nice for him to do it, and a great Father’s Day present.

I tell my kids all the time that Bible Commentators are going to be the next big cultural icons. I can just see it:

  • An “American Idol” type show where they highlight the unknown yet talented Bible Commentators, and they compete week after week explaining Bible passages until a winner emerges.
  • A “Survivor” type show were Bible Commentators are stranded in obscure places and have to prepare good commentary without their normal resources. Texts are explained with stone carvings, hieroglyphics, or smoke signals.
  • A “Cribs” type show where a Bible Commentator gives a tour of his office and book collection.
  • A reality show that peels back the lid and shows the gritty, rough-and-tumble life of a Bible Commentator and his family.
  • Instead of music at the Super Bowl halftime, and Bible Commentator shows his skills and lays out a text for the millions who watch.

You just wait. It could happen.

Graduation

Sorry it has been so long since my last post – the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Inga-Lill’s missionary trip to Egypt was powerfully blessed. I had a great trip to the East Coast, and then a wonderful time in Santa Barbara.

When we both got back, a few days later we went to Berlin. We have lived in Germany for 7 years and had never visited the Hauptstadt, the capital city. We had an amazing, but tiring time there. We walked all over the place, seeing as much as we could as well as some dear friends who live and serve God there. One big thing bugged me about Berlin, and if someone asks me about it in the comments, I’ll let you know what it was.

On the way back from Berlin we stopped at Leipzig, and I preached at the Calvary Chapel there. Again, this was something I have wanted to do for a long time, know Pastor Kurt Ibbotson and his family for a long time. It just would not have felt right to leave Europe without a Sunday with them, and I’m glad we made it there.

Then, the family started coming. Nathan (from LA) on Sunday, Aan-Sofe (from Ireland) on Tuesday, Nils and Gunnel (Inga-Lill’s parents from Sweden) on Wednesday. Thursday we went down to Jonathan’s school (Black Forest Academy) and had a great time for his graduation on Friday. At the graduation ceremony they took the time to say something personal and a Bible verse for each one of the 75 graduates in Jonathan’s class. All I can say is that I am very, very proud of Jonathan and all he has accomplished at school. BFA has been a great experience for him, but like most graduating seniors, he is ready to move on – and get involved with things at Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara.

Best of all is just having the family together. A special treat was that my mom and my Uncle Bill and Aunt Dorothy (and some of Dorothy’s relatives) were also able to make it for the graduation at BFA, making the whole event extra special. It’s also probably the last time we will be together with all three kids here in Germany. It all makes for a memorable stretch of days.

Now, for the packing, and packing, and packing. Let’s do this!

Some Influential Books

For some reason people like making and reading lists, so here is a list of 10 books that I think have been – I hope have been influential in my life. Here’s the list, and then I will explain. The list is in no particular order.

Lectures to My Students – Charles Spurgeon
Mere Christianity – C. S. Lewis
A History of Christianity – Kenneth Scott Latourette
Not Knowing Whither – Oswald Sanders
Jesus Style – Gayle Erwin
Romans, Verse by Verse – William Newell
Charisma vs Charismania – Chuck Smith
Full Surrender – J. Edwin Orr
The Making of a Man of God – Alan Redpath
The Gospel of John – Leon Morris

Lectures to My Students: Charles Spurgeon
I like most everything of Spurgeon, so it was really hard for me to single out one book. Really, I should just put his 63-volume set of sermons on this list, but that seems a little overwhelming. So, I will list this gem from Spurgeon. Lectures to My Students is made up of lectures that Spurgeon delivered to the students at his famous pastor’s college. Best chapter: “The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear.” That one chapter has been a great source of wisdom and help to me in ministry.

Mere Christianity – C. S. Lewis
I read this classic from Lewis as a young Christian, and it really got me interested in theology and simply thinking about the Christian faith. It’s a great book describing essential concepts of the Christian life, coming mostly from a series of radio addresses that Lewis did in England (either during the Second World War or soon after; I forget which). Lewis presents Christian as it really is: sensible. Honorable mention: Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters also made an impression on me as a young Christian.

A History of Christianity – Kenneth Scott Latourette
This mighty two-volume set is the best treatment of church history that I have ever read (though I haven’t read that many entire church histories; perhaps 10 or so). Did I say “mighty”? The two volumes total about 1,550 pages. It is a presentation of the history of Christianity that is scholarly (Latourette was a distinguished Yale professor) and has a heart. Really, really good.

Not Knowing Whither – Oswald Chambers
This little devotional on the life of Abraham was deeply meaningful to me when we left California and came to Germany. Chambers mines some deep and serious gold from the life of the great patriarch of faith. If you can, get it in its original version (“Not Knowing Whither”) instead of the “modernized” version (“Not Knowing Where”).

Jesus Style – Gayle Erwin
I read Gayle’s book as a young Christian, before I was 20 years old. It made a big impression on me, and I hope it continues to do so. Gayle simply and clearly presents the life and nature of Jesus to the reader, and gently contrasts it to our misconceptions and “churchified” ideas of who Jesus was and is. This is a book that really presents and glorifies Jesus.

Romans, Verse by Verse – William Newell
When I went to Calvary Chapel Bible School (not college) right out of high school in 1980, this was the textbook for the Romans class. The class was great; this commentary was even better. I think that Newell does an amazing job of presenting the great message of Romans and applying it to our thinking and our life. His section on “A Few Words About Grace” was life-changing for me, and I included it as an appendix to my own book on the subject of grace.

Charisma vs Charismania – Chuck Smith
Pastor Chuck later wrote a bigger book on the Holy Spirit titled Living Water. That bigger book is great, but this earlier book will have a special place in my heart for the impact it made on me. Pastor Chuck’s treatment of the Holy Spirit and His work in the life of the believer and the church is just so Biblical in this book. I have given away copies of this by the dozens to those who have questions about the Holy Spirit and His gifts for the church. I’ve never had anybody come back debating or confused about the subject after reading this book.

Full Surrender – J. Edwin Orr
Through his books (more than 40) and many recorded messages, Dr. J. Edwin Orr has had a big effect on me. It’s hard to single out any one book, but I will use this one as an example. Dr. Orr wrote books about his life and ministry, and about the history of revival and spiritual awakenings. But he also wrote books like this: books about what revival and surrender to God mean in the life of the individual Christian. This book led to a wonderful season of personal revival in my own life. The messages upon which it was based also had a significant impact of Billy Graham and a critical turning point in his life.

The Making of a Man of God – Alan Redpath
This is a fantastic book, combining both quality exposition of the life of David along with deep insight into human nature and the Christian life. Just about anything by Alan Redpath is rewarding; I personally have greatly benefited from this work.

The Gospel of John – Leon Morris
I have many favorite commentators, and the late Leon Morris is certainly one of them. This amazing treatment of the Gospel of John combines great scholarship with a true heart for God’s word and work in the world. Since I do read a lot of commentaries – week in and week out, I probably read more commentaries than anything else – I thought it good to list this, one of the best single commentaries I have ever read.

Inga-Lill

In the past several weeks I’ve done short blog articles about our kids – Aan-Sofie, Nathan, and Jonathan. Maybe some have wondered, “When will David write a post about Inga-Lill?” I’ve thought the same thing, and I didn’t have an easy answer.

Where do I begin? We’ve been married 27 and one-half years, and we met a couple of years before that. My first impression – I was just out of high school – wasn’t so much romantic or falling-in-love. It was much more just plain fascination. I was a somewhat dopey Southern California kid who really loved Jesus but had perhaps never even really known someone from another country. She was a bright, funny, godly, friendly, and remarkably interesting young woman from Sweden. Best of all, she really loved Jesus and wanted to serve Him and His people. How did she look? See above. That picture comes from the months we met at Bible School. Hubba hubba. Of course, I could just as easily posted a picture from last week.

When I think of Inga-Lill, so many qualities come to mind. She is still the person I met at Bible School, but they years have made her only better. She is remarkably skilled with her dental assistant work, and especially loves to do it in missionary, developing-world situations. She is a gifted teacher, used by God for Bible Studies, retreats, and conferences. She is an insightful personal worker, touching lives one-by-one. Most of all, she is a wonderful mother and wife.

That’s where she really shines. The love, humor, and grace that mark our home life are mostly due to her. As the years go one we grow closer and more and more “one.” It isn’t unusual for us to be apart for a week or so here and there (like right now). But as the years go on, I don’t feel like myself when we’re apart. She really is my better half.

Right now, Inga-Lill is off on a missionary trip to Egypt. I can’t say that she is fearless, but almost so. She never shies away from something she feels God has for her. This was especially true when we made our way out to Europe after living in California for all our married life. It was a big step of faith and there were many unknowns, but iLill just went forward in faith and saw God do great things.

In these 7 years at the Bible College in Siegen, Inga-Lill seemed in a remarkable zone. She worked with the operations of the Bible College in an amazing way – kitchen, housing, guests, scheduling, and so on. On top of all that, she taught classes and led ministry for the women for most every semester.

If it wasn’t easy trying to decide where to begin in writing about Inga-Lill, it’s also hard to know how to end. I could keep going on and on. But here is a closing thought: When we came to Siegen, we didn’t really know exactly what Inga-Lill would do and how God would use her. As it turned out, God used her far beyond her, or mine, or anyone’s expectation. Now as we head to Santa Barbara, it’s really not so clear what Inga-Lill will do and how God will use her. It doesn’t take a genius to know how this story will work out.

A Few Days Breather

Last week I didn’t post anything – we were busy all week long with the May Leadership conference in Siegen. You can read about it on facebook and see lots of pictures there. I’ll just say that it was amazing. Hundreds of people from about 30 different churches from 9 different countries – all greatly blessed, taught, encouraged, strengthened. It’s a long week but it is definitely worth it. And one of the best parts is the team that comes over from the USA. Of course Rob Laskin coordinates it all, but in the very best way it’s Ricky Ryan’s team. His heart and vision is all over the place. So, much thanks to all who made it happen – Rob Laskin, Troy and Heidi Spilman, the Amlings, Dr. Rick Danson and the other visiting pastors. God really blessed the time, money, and effort they all put into it.

So this weekend I taught at church in a village about 45 minutes away. The wonderful congregation in Weitefeld was very kind, and it was great to share with them. Then tonight Aan-Sofie and I went to church at Calvary Chapel of Siegen, where Ed Rae from Calvary Chapel Redlands taught.

You might notice that I left out Inga-Lill – because today she is on her way to Egypt for a missions trip. She and two other women from Siegen are headed to [city not named] to minister to a group of Coptic Christian women from a church there and to do some dental ministry work. So, it will be a dental work and teaching trip for Inga-Lill. Lots of prayer has gone into this trip – so please pray!

So over the next few days I get a bit of breather . . . but not really. On Monday I take Aan-Sofie to the airport so she can go back to Ireland. Then it is the work of getting the house and myself ready for a trip to the east coast and then Santa Barbara, flying out on Thursday. Somewhere in there I need to line up the six teachings I’ll be doing that week. When you pray for Inga-Lill in Egypt, remember to pray for me!

Better In . . .

We had a really wonderful night last night (Friday). It was our semester end and recognition of graduates service to conclude the Bible College semester here in Siegen. It was also deeply touching, because the people of Calvary Chapel Siegen, the Bible College, and some friends in the Siegerland used the evening to specially thank Inga-Lill and myself. They were kind, generous, and heartfelt. It’s a night that me and iLill will remember for a long, long time – especially with the book of photos and kind words from so many that they gave us. We are very grateful.

In this season of transition, it’s natural to make some comparisons to where we’ve been the last seven years and where we are going. So here are some quick thoughts – add to the list or give your thoughts in the comment section!

Better in Germany:

  • Spaghetti Pizza from Da Vinci’s
  • Autobahn and fast cars
  • Good drivers
  • Relatively low fines for traffic and parking tickets (so I have heard)
  • Punctuality
  • Organization and cleanliness
  • Politeness and good manners
  • Shops closed on Sunday
  • Fussball/Soccer
  • Mobile phones
  • Spring
  • Cities
  • Trains

Better in California:

  • Double Charburger from the Habit (with onion rings)
  • Lots of exits on the freeway
  • Gas prices (less than half of Germany!)
  • General friendliness
  • Sun and surf
  • Shops open on Sunday (can’t make up my mind which is better)
  • Baseball
  • American football
  • Television commercials that are actually funny
  • Winter, Summer, Fall (or what Californians call these seasons)
  • Sense of a larger Christian community
  • Hard-to-describe feeling of freedom and general opportunity
  • Customer service

Wonderful in both places:

  • The love and power of God
  • The goodness and effectiveness of God’s Word
  • Amazing friends and generous partners in God’s work
  • People who really pray for us

In the next few days: our May Leadership conference. Pastor Ricky and the team are coming! Lance Ralston speaks Sunday at Calvary Chapel of Siegen! It’s going to be a great week.