Monday, October 24, 2011

loves me like a rock.

time is ticking away as we prepare and prepare only for another week of classes, the gathering, visitations, church, retreats, studies, weaving class to flash before our eyes.


what are we doing here? on this earth?

we are re-thinking "the gathering" (our spiritual outreach to college students). on our way home last night ryan said "yes, we have moved to the dorms to reach out to these students, but now we are still expecting them to come to us on our terms: that they want to know Jesus." the truth is...they don't. they have been hurt/burned/turned off by a legalistic and punitive version of religion practiced by their parents  or parents friends or grandparents and they want nothing to do with    any of it. can you blame them?

they have never felt an ounce of relevance for the story of Christ in their lives. most of them don't know the story, and they don't care. the more we try, the more we feel like we are just spinning our wheels.

we are here for "evangelism" (please keep reading). i have never liked that word because to me it feels like one of those politician phrases or words they use to make something bad sound good or something normal sound really incredible. i also think the word has a bad reputation. like, it's my way or the highway, you're wrong and i'm right, follow my rules and you'll be fine. just like all things/people with bad reputations...they probably earned it. i'm sad that that has been some people's misinterpretation of Jesus' message and i'm sorry to the people who have been hurt by that idea of Christianity. THAT is not why i'm here. i'm here because he story of Jesus has turned my life upside down and i can't sit still about it. i have to tell people the TRUTH and how they handle it is not something i can control and it definitely doesn't change how i treat them. BUT telling them about the truth is not all. i have to LIVE like he lived.

i MUST take care of poor people. i must love them and have their back and share my things and my money with them. and i must do this not to "win" them onto my Jesus team but i must love them just to love them. because that's what He did and that's what i'm expected to do when i accept that he saved my life. i must accept that when he told the rich ruler guy "sell everything you have and give it to the poor" that he wasn't speaking metaphorically.

in the same vein i must love these college students just to love them. i have to learn about them, what makes them unique, what they value, understand how they've been hurt, find out what this life keeps throwing at them that they cannot handle. i want to do that. if i love them for any other reason then because God loves them then i am doing it wrong. how wonderful it would be if one day it clicked with them that i love them because of the incredible life-giving love that God has given me, but if it doesn't, i will love them just the same. but i can't sit still, God isn't sitting still, he is moving, fiercely pursuing our hearts, and i must do the same.

pray for us. pray for me. pray that the overwhelmingly relentless love of Jesus keeps flipping my life upside down on a daily basis and that i'm never able to be still or be quiet as long as i live.

i feel like besides his Word, another book that God is using to flip my life and my world view upside down right now is the book "Blue Like Jazz" by donald miller.

i just want to quote a couple of paragraphs from that book. ps i highly suggest you read this book but not until after really, as in actually, challenging yourself with the teachings and life of Jesus. it's not as neat and tidy as we make it out do be, and i don't think our lives would be either if we were really living the way he does.

middle of page 100
"there is something quite beautiful about the grand canyon at night. there is something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what he is doing. they hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz. and as i lay there, it occurred to me that God is up there somewhere. of course, i had always known He was, but this time i felt it, i realized it, the way a person realizes when they are hungry or thirsty. the knowledge of God seeped out of my brain and into my heart. i imagined Him looking down on this earth, half angry because His beloved mankind had cheated on Him, had committed adultery, and yet hopelessly in love with her, drunk with love for her. i know a little of why there is blood in my body, pumping life into my limbs and thought into my brain. i am wanted by God. He is wanting to preserve me, to guide me through the darkness of the shadow of death, up into the highlands of His presence and afterlife. i understand that i am temporary, in this shell of a thing on this dirt of an earth. i am being tempted by Satan, we are all being tempted by Satan, but i am preserved to tell those who do not know about our Savior and our Redeemer. this is why paul had no questions. this is why he could be beaten one day, imprisoned the next, and released only to be beaten again and never ask God why. he understood the earth was fallen. he understood the rules of rome could not save mankind, that mankind could not save itself; rather, it must be rescued, and he knew that he was not in the promised land, but still in the desert, and like joshua and caleb he was shouting, "follow me and trust God!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

time is on my side.

beware: this is very different from my past posts. 

i feel exhilarated. 

god is moving so strongly, so evidently, so gracefully here in the few circles i find myself in. a few of my students, my heart, ryan's heart, angela's, peter's, erme's, kelli's, david's, debbie's. it's indescribable and tangible at the same time. 

jesus' message is becoming more real every day. i have to live like him no matter the consequences, no matter what that looks like to anyone around me. 

the big things are losing importance as little moments are filing my vision. this life, this time here, is about the little things, the way i handle the "little" things. 

pray for what's happening here. pray that god is glorified and jesus is shown in his true light, not a human interpretation of him that makes everyone more comfortable. his message is the messiest and most beautiful thing i've ever seen and it is so worth it. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

sooner or later love is gonna getcha.

a flock of sheep i stopped and watched one day

i am tired of my boring blog post names, so from now on the title will be a lyric from a song that i hear while i'm writing the post, deal?

anyway, 2 saturdays ago angela and i went with the HUF kids to stia, where we learned to weave, just to visit our weaving teacher and spend a relaxing saturday in that wonderful town.

ang and i on our way to stia
the next day we participated in the corri la vita which is kind of like the race for the cure in the states. there were over 20,000 people in piazza signoria that morning, some to run a marathon and some to walk a 5k. which group do you think i was in?

that evening we went to the bible school and had 30 HUF students over for taco salad and a devotional, led by ryan. after the devo we presented them with info about "avanti italia" and what we do here and they asked us questions. i got to show a few of the videos i have made over the months. the kids were sweet.

stretching before the walk
that next day began our second week of classes, i have 5 on mondays, 2 on tuesdays and 5 on wednesdays. mondays, like last semester, are spent at the bible school from morning to night. ryan starts with a student at 9:30 monday mornings and since we have the scooter now, we have to go together. i use the morning to prepare my lessons for the week, we have lunch with the other avanti members and, spend the afternoon in classes. every monday evening, remember, we have our men's and womens's bible studies and a simple supper together. i so look forward to that study.


besides regular our classes last week, ryan and i re-did all the bulliten boards in our church "fellowship hall", we tried to organize/crammed 3 huge boxes worth of clothes into our already crowded church clothes closet, we had our weaving class, ryan was sick, we went to our italian bible study on thursday night, we went to a mexican restaurant with some friends friday night, i went to the saturday market in scandicci, we went to a neopolitano pizza place in piazza santo spirito and went out for gelato saturday night for ermenita's birthday.
ermenita's birthday celebration

we are also trying to eat healthier...that is fun.
this sunday was a day as busy as they get. that morning we had church as usual, which included ryan leading singing in english and italian, and then we had our monthly potluck meal together. after that we split up into groups and went all over different parts of the city. sunday was the national day of evangelism in italy so we talked to people and handed out information about what we believe. that evening we returned back to the church and sang together. then us avanti members headed over to one of the dorms at the university of florence where we had our first "gathering" (our effort to spread the gospel to college students here) of the fall semester. we had a small turnout but it was great. we discussed our goals and how to get people interested so we'll see how it goes. we are praying that this group is spirit led, not us led. i'm just grateful to be an instrument He is using to plant a jesus seed in someone's heart.