Thursday, November 16, 2017
Just wanted to update you all with some prayer requests from the last week. This Saturday we are having our second meeting in the morning with several from our church family. We call this meet up theology and breakfast. It is a time where our people can dig deeper theologically while applying what we learn to our local context. Please pray for open hearts as the Lord shapes the vision of our church and that His spirit gives us a desire to live out what we learn together. The course is called, "daily theology in mission" and it focuses on applying the theological truth of the Bible into our every day lives.
Please pray for our families who come to this event once a month. Please pray that we as a group and family understand the importance of putting theology into the everyday fabric of our lives and families and that these Saturdays are perfect for our people to serve one another.
Justin and Carli
Monday, November 6, 2017
Yesterday was the International day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Every year we as a church come together with four other churches in the area to have a joint gathering. This year we had a morning of prayer, worship, and community together. We had a representative from Open Doors Ministry share with us some stories of our Christian brothers and sisters going through persecution and the countries that are the most persecuted. It was hard to hear those stories, but also challenging for our hearts. In the evening we had a prayer gathering in which we learned about persecution in North Korea, Pakistan, and Egypt. The theme this year was to "Pray with Them". It was a good reminder for our hearts that we are praying with them. Here is a link to ways to pray for the persecuted church. There are five prayer points, we encourage you to take one prayer point for the next five days to focus on. Below are some pictures from both the morning and evening gatherings.
Monday, October 30, 2017
This past weekend we had our Reformation conference in Budrio and had more than 50 guests attend. The Lord was gracious to us as a church family to be able to proclaim the Gospel openly and without any hinderance. Please pray for those who heard the good news of the Gospel of grace and that we as a church can continue to stay in contact with those guests and continue to grow our friendships with them. Could you pray for those who attended who want to know more about what the grace of God means for their lives? Could you pray that the Lord shows himself to them and that they see the beauty of a Gospel that is grace-filled?
We are so thankful for this opportunity but understand that our work doesn't finish with this conference in a weekend but that we continue to ask the Lord to open doors with these friendships so that people can come to know Him personally and have eternal life.
We love you all,
Justin, Carli and Luca
Sunday, October 15, 2017
This upcoming week we as a Church are studying the sola of "only Christ." It can be quite easy in the cultural context of Italy to spot ways in which Christ isn't central to one's life. This can be noticed in the postmodern pace of the everyday but also in the religion of Catholicism. As someone who isn't Italian, I realize that although I may see Christ in this country hidden in various ways, He can also end up hidden in my life when other things are more precious to me and grab my attention.
The premise of solus Christus "only Christ" is that the salvation which I hold dear to by faith is a salvation that can only be brought about by the work of Jesus. A work that was finished on the cross and through his resurrection. That work that Christ accomplished is what makes salvation that much sweeter to me. When I live however in a way that diminishes Christ and His work, whether it be through my pride, my need for approval of man, my anger and resentment towards others, etc, the beauty and truth of Christ alone shines less bright in my life.
Would you pray with Carli and I that the light of Christ alone is shown brightly in our city and that we as a church understand the implications of basing our salvation only on the work of Jesus. Would you pray with us that our lives show our need for Christ and not our need in what this life and world offers us. This week is a week where we reflect on what we live for and the meaning of Christ alone for salvation. Would you reflect and pray with us?
Saturday, September 30, 2017
As we start a new month, we have an amazing opportunity for reaching people with the Gospel. 500 years ago, the Lord used Martin Luther in changing the public's perception of the Bible and salvation with God. As a result, churches from all over Europe reformed many of their misplaced practices and doctrines in order to promote the truth of a biblical gospel.
When the reformation started in 1517, many of the roman churches in Italy did not experience reform because of the immense hold the Vatican had on Italian regions. Because of this, almost all of the population in Italy has no idea what the Reformation means and what it accomplished outside catholicism.
We as a church want to use this unfortunate reality in our own city. We are moving through the 5 solas of the Reformation; sola scriptura, (only scripture) sola fide, (only faith) sola gratia, (only grace) solus Christus (only Christ) and soli Deo gloria, (only to God the glory) teaching our people what it means to reform in the light of the truth found in the Bible. During these 5 weeks we will study the meaning of the solas and also invite our contacts and friends around the city to an event hosted by our church on the 28th of October. Please be in prayer for us as we use this evening to share with the public what it means to embrace the Gospel of grace compared to works of religion. Please pray that we speak the truth in love and that the Lord can plant seeds of curiosity and interest in the hearts of those present.
We love you...
Thursday, September 14, 2017
This past week we have been studying through Genesis 31 together and the issue of idolatry has been on all of our hearts. When one reads this chapter, the first thing that you think about is the absurdity of Laban having household gods like the picture above. I know that for us westerners it's kind of comical to think of someone bowing down to something that was carved out of wood.
In the same way, the Scriptures show us that we like Laban can be controlled by idols and pursue them because we find our identity in them. Surely these aren't pieces of wood, but it could be a job, money, our time, food, our identity as a good mom or dad, sleep, etc. If we aren't careful, we too can be looking for the joy these idols bring as Laban searched the tents of his family in darkness as he wasn't able to find his idols. Laban symbolically represented humanity in these verses of chapter 31 who search in the darkness as blind men for something that doesn't give them what they ultimately need.
This is why Cari and I must return to the word of God daily, telling the Lord the idols that tempt us and keep us from Him. Even living in this country for a period of time and the comfort of our town being our home can be an idol. It becomes an idol if it is the thing that you seek every day. Will you pray with us to overcome our idols in Christ by daily giving our hearts to His will for our lives, in the way we parent, serve, preach and love?
What are the idols in your life?
Thursday, September 7, 2017
Carli and I are going through the Psalms write now and have found so much joy from the promises that are written there for the believer. One such Psalm speaks of the benefit and promise of God's word. It is God's word that holds us as believers together as His church and also holds us to Him.
Jesus prays in John 17 that 'we may be one' as he and the Father are one and unified. This oneness cannot be achieved solely by speaking the same language, sharing the same culture, holding to the same political views and convictions. No, the unique and beautiful way that Christ holds His church together is by the authority and power of His word.
Therefore, when we face trails and suffering with one another in the Church, we must remember that our convictions and beliefs, no matter how strong they may be, will not be that with ultimately unites us and leads us through life. No, that which is there for you and me in the body of Christ is Christ Himself, the word of God, the bread that we cannot live without.
Love you and please pray that we have a desire to saturate our lives and family with His word.