Welcome to iThinkTank, a home for all Christians that are hungry and thirsty for more—and those who want to get there. I am Ralph Rickenbach.
I do not believe in producing when there is no revelation, but when I produce, the articles tend to be meaty and a bit longer than average—just to warn you. But I hope you profit as much as I do.
I have to tell it again and again: I have no doctrine. I only point out something. I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen. I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window. I push open the window and point outside. I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue.Martin Buber
I like the idea of dialoging with others. I strive to discover knowledge or wisdom I can share with the world. But I can struggle when it comes to directly expressing my judgments. I am more comfortable exchanging ideas by way of brainstorming aloud than I am in delivering harmonious monologues. I can also become impatient with those who are slow to understand my ideas. I often expect others to learn as quickly and independently as I do. For these reasons, I am ill-suited for teaching (with the exception of highly motivated individuals and small groups) and better off sharing my insights less directly, such as through writing.
But I am working on it.
Let me tell you a bit more about myself:
Early years—the Jesus people
I grew up as a Swiss heathen, until—7 years old—I was introduced to Christianity. My mom took us to a Jesus people church in Winterthur. We found ourselves sitting on pillows on the ground—in orange and brown—in a room without doors, as they were replaced by strings with sea shells, wine pegs, and beer caps. You guessed it—it was the seventies. Church consisted of singing to the guitar, having a short input, and discussion. This last part was my world—I loved participating in discussions with grown ups. It was more about positive feedback and pads on my back then being wise beyond my age:
And after three days they came across him in the Temple, seated among the wise men, giving ear to their words and putting questions to them. And all to whose ears it came were full of wonder at his knowledge and the answers which he gave.Luke 2:46-47
That was Jesus—and I tried hard to be like him. I did not know of the wise counsel Yoda gave his Padawan Luke—no, not the same Luke:
Do. Or not Do. There is no Try.Yoda
After a while we did not go to church any longer, and it took another 5 years to my next encounter with faith.
The next steps
This time we joined an evangelical denominational church. I just turned 12 and soon 13—the age of bar mitzvah. But instead of accepting my own responsibilities in life, I joined church because of another reason closely related to this age: girls.
Thus I went to church services, youth, read my bible, and hoped to catch her attention. Which never happened.
With 14, I was put in a Catholic boarding home.
Well, it sounds harsher than it was. Thanks to the boarding home I was able to finish my schooling—I was at the verge of quitting and dropping out before. Latin and French were such a pain.
In the midst of my high school, I left for a year in the USA. My first family: Quakers. My second: Lutheran. My third: Jews.
Finally saved, but
Finally, with 22, I gave my life to Jesus for good. I joined a charismatic church, married, had my three children there, active in leadership, worship team, the church newspaper, teaching youth and adult Sunday school. A computer programmer for a living.
And here I was. Close to forty, a multi-denominational breed, I had personally lived through church history in odd order. And then my life was turned upside down. I lost my job through bankruptcy. What followed was an uprooting decade plus, living through 4 bankruptcies, loosing an additional few jobs, being unemployed a few times.
But finally rooted in a church.
God had talked to me earlier. He wanted me in full-time ministry. But nobody else wanted me there. So I took up a career as computer programmer.
And God had to shake me out of it when the time was right.
I am looking forward to what the future holds.
I hope my writing helps you in your walk with Christ.
If you want to support my work regularly, I do have a patreon page.