11.23.12

Majoring in the Minors

Posted in Ancona, church, ministry, Newsletters at 7:16 am

On Sundays our church is going through a study on the minor prophets. Every week at home we all read one of these short, Old Testament books, and then when we are together on Sunday we discuss.

After the very first study, one of our church members made it very clear that he doesn’t like the minor prophets. He said that it seems like they are all about punishment and wrath and sin and war. And I suppose quantity-wise, he’s right. Most of the verses talk about God punishing sin, especially the sin of the Israelites.

But I made him hang on and promise to keep going through the studies with us. Because if you keep looking, if you dig a little, in every one of the books there is an amazing verse or two completely filled with hope.

When the Israelites repented, God said, “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.” (Hosea 14:4). He promises abundance in Joel 2:19, “I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations.” Even though, “They did not return to me,” God promises through the prophet Amos to “…plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them.”

Time and time again we see a God who is quick to turn from His anger and to scoop His people up in his arms and restore the fellowship that they had broken. We see that God will stop at nothing to bring His people back. And the grace that we find hiding in every one of these books is really the key to understanding them. We see how much God hates sin (a lot) and how freely he offers grace (completely).

As we see the church in Ancona grow and wrestle with more difficult passages in the Bible, it amazes me to see how the Holy Spirit is moving and working to change all of us to look more like Jesus. And as we seek to work ourselves out of a ministry in Ancona, we desire for that growth to become a passion for telling everyone we know about the grace that God offers everyone.

Thanks for your part in the work here. We are thankful for you!

11.01.12

24-7 Prayer

Posted in 24-7 Prayer, church, Newsletters, travel at 4:21 am

Prayer spaces. Oh, how wonderful they are. If you or your church or community has never experienced a designated prayer space, you simply must try it. Prayer rooms have been an integral part of our community for about five years now.

We were inspired by the model of 24-7 Prayer International. I know we’ve talked about this before, but we decorate, add some pillows, a couch, guitar, and a little prayer space begins to take shape. Not too long ago, Chloe and I were able to go to 24-7 International’s Eurogathering. There were about 200 people there from all over Europe including Macedonia, Austria, the UK, the Netherlands, Finland, Iceland, Czech Republic, and more. Guess how many people were there from Italy? Two. That’s right. Me and Chloe. Just us.

We worshipped and prayed with others. We heard great lessons and sermons, and we got some great prayer room ideas. We prayed for revival all across Europe. We prayed for new communities popping up across this continent. We know God is working, but it’s difficult sometimes to see exactly how. One thing I know for sure is that Italy needs your prayers. We need you to ask God to stir this city and its hard soil. I think that with the economic crisis, with the little hope there is for young people, with the soaring unemployment rate, with these things people may realize that we really, really can’t do everything on our own. Our hope really, truly needs to come from the Lord.

Our community is doing well. We had a new girl come Sunday night. She had worshipped with us a few times several years ago, but after some scary health issues she wants to come back as often as possible. (She’s on chemo and can’t drive, and the bus ride is a solid 45 minutes) Novella’s faith continues to grow despite her personal circumstances. We are seeing leadership potential. All good signs. But the best is yet to come.

Can I ask you a favor? You know how we often pray our best and most fervent for our own town, our own church? What if you took a little time to do that for Ancona? Pray for this town, for these people like you’ve never prayed before. You don’t know them. I get that. But, chances are, I don’t know them yet either.

Join us in this endeavor. Just ask God, and I know He can change our little part of the world.