The Lingering Scent of Worship

Things happen when we give our praise, our thanksgiving, and our worship to Jesus. The Psalmist reminds us that the Lord takes His place or “inhabits the praises” of those who love and follow Him. Worship is such an integral response to God’s goodness and God’s Presence that, if we shut it down, the pebbles and rocks will take up the celebration.

Jesus stayed with his friend, Simon, who used to be a leper, and he had dinner with his disciples and some of the followers who had become close friends in the Jerusalem suburb of Bethany. Meals were “semi-public” events and people came and went to check things out.

A woman (it may have been Mary, whose brother was Lazarus owned a nearby house) brought a sealed alabaster jar of concentrated ointments and oils she had purchased for this special act of worship. She broke the top off and drizzled, then poured the fragrant oils over Jesus’ head until it spilled down his beard and all the way to his feet. It covered and soaked him.

She understood. She knew Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem and wouldn’t survive the week. And this oil, normally meant to be spread across the flaccid skin of a dead body, was poured onto her source of life: Jesus.

She was content to love him and worship him. And the scent lingered in the room. In fact, the powerful and intense fragrance that had soaked into His skin may have scented the scene of the Cross as Jesus sweated and bled for your sins and mine, and Mary’s, too.

When we worship, we change the atmosphere. There is a scent, a fragrance to our worship and praise. Let it linger through the week.

He is Risen.

“When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. “That’s criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor.”

When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. “Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.” Matthew 26:6-13

Moving On…

We each need to move. Christianity is a faith of mobility. Biologists use the word “motility” to explain how a cells move almost instinctually toward its purpose. Spontaneous. Instinctual. As if responding to an inner call. Christianity is a faith of motility.

Forward (or backward) motion is a given in the life of the Christ-follower. While we may “stay” in place where we live, work, serve, play, worship, and learn; we are not “static” in our faith walk. Even our vocabulary urges us forward: walk of faith, run the race, stretching for the high prize of God’s calling. He speaks and we move toward His Voice.

Jesus made one final and specific demand on our lives… He is the Boss, after all. He told us to “make disciples,” “instruct in the faith,” “baptize new disciples,” and do it all “as we go.” His demand isn’t that we find the mountainside cave and meditate our lives away. He says “go.” We are a people on the move.

Proverbs 3:7 says “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” The Message captures this movement with this: “Run to God! Run from evil!”

The account of the Prodigal is a story of movement, too. The running from God toward evil that the younger son chooses is quickly followed by the running out of money he faces. Then, he makes a new, timid move back to the father. And the father’s response is both unbecoming and impassioned – he hikes his robes and runs to his son. Then, his next demand is to his servants – restore him to a place of honor and run and set up the party room.

  • Movement in repentance
  • Movement in restoration
  • Movement in celebration

When we move from a place of self-centeredness and sin, we join in the movement…and the Movement. The grace of God is this: He calls, we answer and move toward him, and He runs to us for the grand embrace. And we get to chase after Him in the race of a lifetime!

On the Move,

Rick

Surprised by an Angel… and the Call to Tell the Story!

Nearly everyone loves to hear a good story. Movies, novels, poems, and digital versions of it all, invite us to become a part of the action or the suspense, or the romance, or the journey. Most stories we read or watch or listen to come and go. They may touch us or speak a bit; but they are easily filed away somewhere dusty and hard to find. Some stories are grab our hearts and our imagination. We identify with the people or the crisis they face and how they survive.

Then, there is the story that comes along once in a lifetime. Not only does it capture our imagination – it changes our lives. We look back on this rare story, the characters and what they experienced, and we realize that what happened meets us right where we live, it changes how we see life, and that story redefines who and, more importantly, why we are.

That’s the story the sheepherders found themselves a part of over 2000 years ago on the hillside overlooking the town of Bethlehem. Luke 2:1-20 are the verses that, surprisingly, make up an assignment my high school teacher at NMBHS way back when had me memorize and recite (yes, that was another day.)

It’s the story of Joseph and his betrothed wife Mary, their trek to Bethlehem, the birth of God’s one and only son, Jesus, and a bunch of unwary sheepherders who became a part of the Story of stories.

1At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2(This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

This baby, who is both King and Savior, was born in perhaps the most available and approachable place in the town – in a stable around the corner from a hostel, just shouting distance from the streets of the town. God chose to send His Son, fully human and fully God, to be born where word would get out. And this prepared the town for what happened next. And, this is when the sheepherders are invited into the story.

8That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. 

The Good New story met the sheepherders right where they lived. And it began with the herders who drew the night watch. While their partners caught up on sleep, an angel appeared right in the middle of their conversations. And this angel had just come from the presence of the Father to bring the news about the Son. And the glory of God remained.

And they were terrified. They were used to fighting off wild animals or climbing down the cliffs to rescue a lamb. But, an angel! How many times in the Bible did God show up through His presence, through a vision, or through an angel’s visit – They were scared beyond words. And the answer: Don’t be scared! God met these sheepherders right where they lived.

  11 “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

If the angel’s visit was at first terrifying, the message that he brought was liberating. As good Jewish sheepherders, they heard this message through all they knew about Lord God of Israel.

  • Good news means freedom.
  • Messiah and Lord means salvation.
  • And if you throw in King David, they understood they would be God’s people again, under the rule of His King.

The message from the throne room of God through this single angel literally changed who they were. Sure, they remained sheepherders. But this Good News brought the promise of…

  • Peace that comes with freedom from the oppression of the enemy.
  • Hope that comes with the promised Messiah.
  • Celebrative Joy that comes with being together as God’s people ruled by His King.

And whether in response to the Good News being proclaimed on the hillside or in response to the faith and joy of the shepherds, the worship of the heavens broke through into the physical realm, and…

13Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

This was more than the sheepherders could contain and, by now they were all together on the hillside echoing the same rejoicing. They had to see it for themselves.

15When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

There in a stable for animals, the greatest expression of God’s love slept. The message propelled the shepherds to check it out for themselves and discover if the Good News was really the Good News. And it was. And it changed both who and why they were. They had to tell others and fanned out through the streets of the town telling anyone they saw that Jesus, the Messiah, the Lord and King was born – in a stable, just around the corner, right where anyone could find Him.

The Good News met the shepherd right where they lived, and the truth of the message of Christmas transformed who they were and became the reason for why they lived. God’s great Story intersected their story and surprised them and transformed them.

  • This Christmas – surprise you with His peace, His love, His joy, His hope. He is God near to us.
  • His Good news meets us where we do life.
  • He invites you to approach Him, come to him – with fears, with broken plans and promised, with empty and dead spots in our lives.
  • And he speaks to you right now – no fear except the awe of a Savior with unchangeable love, no loneliness or emptiness because he fills us and comes close, no dead spots because he brings life and mercy.

Welcome again to the Story. Praying it intersects your story frequently in 2020!

Living Successfully in Life’s Valleys

Come to the Party…

Come to the Party (2 Chronicles 29-30)

Introduction: Let me add one more promotional for our Tuesday nights. I love spending time with our Gathering each Tuesday. The dinner is always good. The study time is a chance to learn and to talk about life and Scripture. And the diversity of students and young professionals gives rise to a lot of interesting questions and spiritual conversations. For instance, two week ago I spoke with a student who is studying neuropsychology – that’s about how the brain works. And we talked about none of us needs to be stuck in bad habits. The brain can be our ally, our best friend in breaking destructive patterns. We’ve got some smart people here at ICF. If you don’t believe me, Look beside you to your right, now your left. Doesn’t it look like we have smart people here? And you’ve given us proof by being here today with us.

Let’s get started with our message. Our study today began in my personal devotions. Do you know what it’s like to read your Bible and you come across a passage, and it seems that God makes these verses powerful and special and important. I experienced an intense awareness of God’s goodness and presence as I was reading – and that led to further study; I would like to try to convey some of what I discovered and I believe it will encourage you and draw you further into His grace toward you.

So, let’s pray and invite the Spirit of God to teach us today and reveal the love of the Father to us.

Earlier this year, I had the honor to teach at a local Bible College near here. My course for that semester last year was on Apologetics – it’s the study of how to answer questions about Christianity. And we invested a number of hours comparing the claims of Christianity with other world religions. We studies Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, and more looking at the basics of their beliefs compared with Christianity.

As I was teaching these 18 university students, our conversation led to just how lost and misguided other faith systems are. I’m a firm believer in freedom to worship and express one’s self as I believe this opens many doors for ministry and sharing the Gospel. And While I respect people for their choices and where they stand in politics and religion, it is clear that the values and claims of Christianity – and how the Christian faith has invited us to relate to God and to others – is radically different from other systems of faith.

And at the core of this radical difference is the person of Jesus Christ. His pure and unstained holiness in life, his miracles and teachings, and most importantly his revolutionary love and invitation to relationship to all who would choose Him. This sets Jesus apart from every other religious leader and makes Christianity unique.

When Jesus preached that the Kingdom of Heaven is near, he invited his disciples and others into a radical relationship of grace with Himself, and a revolutionary approach to a life of love toward others.

He invited everyone, regardless of past sins, political stance, gender, economic standing, race or national origin, to trust Him. Everyone was invited to His party!

He lived and demonstrated the lavish grace and forgiveness of His Father. And it was this revolutionary love that led Him to the Cross. More of this at the end, because I want you to join me in 2 Chronicles 29 for our message today. And as you find 2 Chronicles in your Bibles or on your Bible applications on your device, I want to frame our passage with some background.

Transition: The prophet Samuel from the Old Testament served the people of Israel as one of their judges; in fact, he ended up being their last judge. And in his old age, the leaders of Israel came to him and said this:

“Now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” And they got Saul, then King David, followed by Solomon in the United Kingdom of Israel. And things went downhill from there. And for the next three centuries the people of God in the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel lived under the rule of one king after another – an occasional good and a lot of bad kings.

Our passage today is about a good king. Hezekiah was a ruler in Jerusalem who chose to be God’s leader. He was a good king among the many who did evil by leading the nation toward other gods. From his very first month as king, he determined to reclaim the Temple for worship of the Lord God and decreed that Jerusalem was to be a place to worship the living God and only Him.

I wanted to give you this background because during the first few months of Hezekiah’s reign, three things happen that show the wisdom of this king, and the favor that God showed His people because of him.

Read 2 Chronicles 29:1-12

The first thing he did was to reclaim the Temple so the people of God could worship Him. Can you imagine going away for a few years, and then returning to our church building here, and stuff was stacked up and stored, and there was rubbish everywhere, and you couldn’t even see the stage or the cross on the wall to your left? I can’t imagine, and you know that your pastor would never let this happen.

But, after years of evil leaders, the Temple had become exactly that, and more. In fact, the previous king had practiced the most evil of religious practices in the Temple and in Jerusalem. The Temple was in a bad way. And he is how the godly King Hezekiah began.

  1. He began with what he had and trusted God with the outcome. When he started, he had a team of 14 from the Levitical tribe of Temple leaders. It seemed an impossible situation. Too few people. Too big a task. Have you ever read through the genealogies and lists in the Old Testament? There are pages and pages, just of Levites and priests! He began with what he had and trusted God with the outcome. And the King gave them this job: recruit more priests and clean the Temple.

Here’s how bad the Temple was in disrepair. It took them seven days just to clean out the courtyard so they could open the door. Additionally, the number of workers in the Temple had shrunk. And Hezekiah ignored the obstacles of a mountainous task and a small workforce. He began with what he had and trusted God with the outcome!

Can you think of another small group of people that become a movement? Absolutely. Jesus chose how many? Twelve. He walked around the fishing district and said – you, you, and you two also. He walked through the streets of Bethsaida and looked into the fig groves and picked two more disciples. He saw a political zealot in the crowds in Jerusalem and chose another. He walked through the Tax district (the Agenzia delle Entrate – can you believe a disciple could be there?), and he called another. And He gathered the Twelve He called from all areas of the culture minus one traitor, taught them about life in the Kingdom, trained them to pray, heal the sick, cast out the enemy, empowered them, and they turn the world right side up.

Could it be that we need to do the same with what we face today? We may have too little income, or too small influence, or we may feel we have too little education, or limited skills in speaking, relationship, or time.  Bring it to Him. Bring who you are and what you have and ask Him for the best outcome. I believe God’s glory and grace shine best in impossible situations.

For Hezekiah, with the beginnings of a new group of priests to lead the worship in the Temple, Hezekiah tasked this small group with making the courtyards and the Temple ready for worship. As this fourteen recruited and involve more of what the passage calls “their brothers,” they moved one step at a time to make this place one of worship and prayer.

Let’s read our next verses in this story for our next 2 Chronicles 29:16-17, 28-30

  1. They Cleaned the Outside and the Inside – step by step, one step at a time. The King’s team started at the courtyard – the most obvious – and move inward to the holiest places – the most intimate. And they hauled away the rubbish and the idols that cluttered the place. They swept, cleaned, and shined all the elements of worship that had been ignored or dirtied.

Restoration is hard work. Take a look at this picture of the last home my wife lived in during college. We learned that a piece of property in Susan’s family in Georgia is without owners – her parents have passed away, and two houses and land are sitting there – for ten years. It needs restoration.

When we restore a place, the obvious stuff, the big stuff goes first. But, when that’s done, the real work begins and we can see all the little things that need cleaning and repairing. We turn on the lights, and we see even more that needs restoring.

Restoration of our lives is hard work, too. Jesus has promised to make us new and renovate our lives. The hard work of restoration has already happened – he already sees the finished product! He sees you as a new creation. But then Jesus asks us to allow Him into the different areas of our lives, to remove the big stuff that keeps us down, to fix the places that we’ve not allowed the Spirit of God to touch. And He turns on the light in places that need His presence. And he changes us.

Here’s the Principle – whether it’s restoring a home or restoring a heart. It’s this: the rooms inside are more important to God than the outside. What’s outside matters. The big stuff matters. But God wants to get us to the holy places deep inside our hearts. This is the place of worship and intimacy.

Illust. My Heart Christ Home The story of My Heart, Christ’s Home illustrates this. The author compares our lives to a house -with kitchen, workshop, living room, bedroom. It’s the story of an invitation to Jesus to make himself comfortable in each room that makes up our lives.

Let me take you to the third action Hezekiah took that changed the nation. After the first sacrifices and worship in the Temple, Hezekiah looked to the nation and determined that, as a people of God, worship would bring the tribes and people together.

Everybody was invited to the Party.

Let’s read 2 Chronicles 30:15-20

  • The nation was divided. Judah and the Southern Kingdom was still together, but the rebellious Northern Kingdom of Manasseh and Ephraim and who claimed the name Israel had been conquered by the enemy. And they all needed the call to worship.
  • The people were not ready. And while many refused and laughed at this call to an “out-dated” religion, many came.
  • The leaders were too few. Even many of the priests and Levitical leaders had ignored the call to worship. And were shamed to miss out on the party.
  • The day for Passover was past. Imagine trying to get the word out by runners from one end to the other, city after city; then prepare the city for the crowds; then everyone had to travel to Jerusalem. And even though the day of Passover was past, they worshiped and celebrated anyway.

From one end of Israel to the other – from north, south, east and west, he sent runners to every city and he invited everyone to come and seek God and worship him.

What can you do when you throw a party and things go wrong? You throw the party anyway! Invite everyone you can, get the house ready, and work with what you have! Do you know what happened when everyone showed up for worship? They might not have brought their best, but they showed up. God heard their prayers and healed the nation. And their worship party lasted two week!

Conclusion: So, what does this mean to us. Today. You and me. This morning.

Would the worship team come up, please.

What speaks to me in this invitation – whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, wherever you’ve been. You are invited. If you are hurt, forgotten, sick, broken. You are invited. If you have ignored God until now, you are invited. If you have been hiding out and not using what God has given you. You are invited.

So, let’s worship a few minutes and wait and see what God might want to do here at the end of our time together. Pray.

(We are called to come to the party and becoming worshipers. Making our lives the place Jesus feels at home. We are called to bring others with us. The nations need to discover the power of worshiping Jesus.

Illust. Marriage Feast of the Lamb

God heal me. God heal my church. God heal our city and our nation.)

I’m excited.

It’s been a good trip back to the U.S.A. for Susan and me. After another year of Italian life, hearing our “comfort language” of English has been refreshing. Of course, we live in the South, and that makes hearing it even better.

Two words I keep hearing from others this month seem to be normal: busy and exciting. I know both words are relative to the person and the circumstance. Not using one or both words to describe the day isn’t a bad thing.

My heart check happened when I heard someone mention how exciting things were. I have really strayed when I can’t think what excites me (e.g. ramps my heart pace up several notches, stops my breath a moment, and consumes my focus.)

What excites me? When am I so focused on what’s coming or what’s happening that everything else fades? The next gen Marvel movie? Hooking a fish in the surf? Hot doughnuts now lights on?

The doctor introduced me to a new word: sciatica. I had heard it, but had no idea where it was. Muscle, nerve, back, bum, leg, and beyond. Things are suppose to work together – not so with sciatica.

Two months into this malady and everyone I meet tells me their sciatica story, and what has and has not relieved it. One lady in a pharmacy insisted on showing me her patch under her clothes.

Truth be told the pain in my backside could be so agitated and unrelaxed that it hurts – in a consuming way. It’s too excited. It needs to calm down. It has been so agitated at times that I could not do or think about anything else.

But, even without the sciatica, my focus can be on the wrong things.

I want to be so excited about the things of God.

Like the growing number of “behind the scenes” Bible discussions that go on in Hollywood. Or the explosive number of new Christians in otherwise closed nations. Or the open doors that Christians have to share truth and make disciples in Europe where those closed countries are emptying their immigrants.

Or the opportunity Susan and I have to serve alongside Christ-followers who see Europe and especially Italy as the place God is moving and calling His servants to live.

That’s the excitement that halts my breath and focuses my mind.

That, and … the Hot Doughnuts Now lights.

Happy Doughnut Day.

Pieces of Cloth

Not two weeks from the altar, now a new one to come

The words shook our plans, the phone calls to share

Now waiting beside her, the labor intense

Hold hands, and breath a prayer.

In pieces of cloth, they wrapped her up tight

They cleaned up her body, they wiped off her face

and laid her in my arms, a beautiful baby

secure and cared for, what a gift of grace.

Our first Christmas together, decorated in gold

A tree by the mantle, a fire blazing bright

Six months and showing, a glow on her face

The creche spread on cotton so light.

In pieces of cloth, we wrapped him up tight

Small terra cotta and painted face

we laid him in the manger, a beautiful baby

Resting while shepherds and creatures look on

secure and cared for, what a gift of grace.

It’s Easter Sunday morning, dogwoods fill the air

A childhood perfume of Resurrection Days

She’s all dressed in white, with a bonnet on her head

A father’s quiet prayer of surrender.

We raise to let them go, hold on to give away.

To send out in the world, to send to the nations.

And when the moment comes around, to watch them walk away

We are most like our Father who gave His all.

In pieces of cloth, they wrapped him up tight

They cleaned up his body, they wiped off his face

and laid him in the grave, what a beautiful Savior.

secure and cared for, what a gift of grace.

He cast off the grave clothes, overpowering light

And threw back the stone, the conquering  Word.

The resurrection power pushed darkness to the ground.

Victorious champion, the reigning Lord.

He was born for sacrifice, to give His life away.

He was sent into the world, to send us to the nations.

And when the moment comes around, to go or to stay,

We are most like our Father, our broken heart for the world.

“… I’ve never seen so many…”

When the doctors and their team working in Liberia during the height of the 2014 Ebola epidemic saw the damage the disease caused, one reportedly said “I’ve never seen so many bodies.” One doctor was in charge of gathering and disposing of those who died from the disease; he and his team worked tirelessly to serve the Liberians by helping them through the collection and, with a respectful process, cremation of their dead.

Stephen Rowden was a first time volunteer with Doctors without Borders; his team processed between 10 and 25 cremations a day in Monrovia as the work sought to contain the epidemic to the region. He said his team of 36 have shown no signs of the disease even though they worked in such proximity to the dangers of the contagion.

When ask about his motivation, Dr. Rowden confessed that he is “a practicing Christian” who finds support and “strength from his faith and family.”

Since the first centuries of Christianity, those who follow Christ run toward the danger, the tragedy, the hurt… even the contagion, while most flee. From the Antonine Plague in the mid-100’s that wipe nearly 25% of the Roman Empire into eternity and those many epidemics that followed, Christ-followers sought to stay and help and serve…and suffer, in order to live a life that gives credit to the Good News and the love and power of God.

While many might say that Christianity was established in the empire because of edits, it really spread as a revolution of love, sacrifice and suffering. We run toward the need, even if the rest are running away.

Dr. Rowden captures this kind of faith through his actions.

Live sacrificially,

Rick

(Thanks to a great NPR interview by  at https://www.npr.org/2014/10/09/354890862/in-collecting-and-cremating-ebola-victims-a-grim-public-service and Baker Book called Restoring All Things: God’s Audacious Plan to Change the World through Everyday People by Stonestreet and Smith.)

 

Do I know you?

I’m seeing doppelgangers.  Every time I go out, at least the past few days, I’ve seen people I know.  Yesterday, I saw Danny DeVito. Today, I saw Robb, a guy who went with me on my first Italy mission trip (he was a clown, really, literally, a clown – but today, he was normal.)

My step-mother-in-law showed up a lot in the piazzas of Padova. But, then again, there are a lot of little old ladies (sorry, Eleanor) in Italy. They are outspoken. I had one get nose-to-chin with me for carrying shopping bags home one Sunday. She said her piece fast and with many gestures and grimaces. I think she told me it was a holy day and I couldn’t shop for more than one bag full (I had two.)

This doppelganger issue must mean something. I miss home. And people. Don’t get me wrong; I love my city and the people we get to meet with and share life with. The work with our new Fellowship is invigorating. But, I hit a spot in my year where I need my culture and my people.

It means something else, too. Cultures, languages, habits, gestures, colors and shades, all may be very different; still, we’re the same in far many ways than exterior admits. We all need respect, acceptance, love, forgiveness, kindness, and especially a person who will listen.

I’ve got to go – I think I just saw Abe Vigoda.

Still Listening,

Rick

Some people say I have a doppelganger (I’m not so sure):

           

Thinking Globally…

We are committed to building relationships and inviting God’s Kingdom to be present and real in lives here in Italy. We stay in touch with friends from all over Italy, we chat with our student friends from the Bible College, and we pray for the churches that God will do amazing things in Torino, Roma, Milano, Bologna, Venezia, Verona, Bari, Palermo, and beyond!

  • We also stay connected with students (and others) who are from other cultures. We met with our Tun1si@n friend for pizza last week; she is “on the way” to discovering Jesus. We do online devotions with our Madagascar friends every day. They are growing in love with Jesus. Each day is a chance to do life with them.
  • When this journey in Italy began nearly two years ago, we asked (and continue to ask) the Holy Spirit to open doors to serve from Italy and into other nations. On Easter weekend, Susan and I will join Doug and Joan Dorman and several “catalyst” thinkers who are poised to join the movement we believe God is creating among the many European nations who have, somewhere along the way, abandoned Christian discipleship. Our goal is to expand our influence in making disciples who will increase their influence by multiplying disciples.

Please pray for this key meeting in Geneva with leaders from several countries that we will hear what the Spirit is saying. Pray also for N. and P. (our Malagasy friends, and for M. our friend from Tun1si@.

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