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.
We have just recently come back from the US from a time of rest and holidays with our families. Looking back during that time Carli and I both had some time to think through some of our desires that we have for this new school year. One of those desires was to maintain the blogspot on a weekly basis, not just for our ministry and mission partners but also for our own discipline spiritually. That being said, Carli and I will be alternating writing every week with either prayer requests, devotions, scripture and news about what is happening. We want you all to know that we appreciate your prayers and thoughts for us as we live and serve in Italy!
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
We hope you are well. We have been busy with the Summer Camp that happens every year here. It was another great year and we are thankful for the many ways God provided for us and the whole team throughout the week. Please continue to pray for the children and the families that we met through the camp. Pray for their hearts to be open and that we would be ready and willing to love them well and show them the truth found in Scripture. Above is the camp video that the team from Bethel Church created.
Thank you for praying with us.
Carli & Justin
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
May has been a busy but fun month for us. We had a team from the Netherlands come down and help us with English workshops in the schools and outreach to a group of young refugee men. They were great at interacting with everyone and the kids had fun practicing their English. There were many opportunities to share how God has changed their lives and we are praying that these seeds of truth take root in the hearts of the young people. It can be discouraging at times to think of how little truth and light these students hear on a daily basis. Thankfully we serve a BIG God who can move mountains in the hearts of these kids and that is our prayer. That God's love and grace would be irresistible in the hearts of these young people. As you are praying with us for those who have already heard the Good News, please also be in prayer for our Summer Camp that is quickly approaching. It will be the last week of June. We already have 35 kids signed up and a team from Bethel Church in Houston is coming to help. This is our fourth year of camp and we encouraged to have some returning campers. I will share later in June some specific ways to be praying during the week of camp, but in the meantime please pray for all the logistical details to come together and that the hearts of the team and volunteers would be open and ready to serve God.
For our church here, please be praying for unity. We have finished going over the confession of faith with each family and we are pushing forward with church membership. We will have a special service on June 11th to recognize Justin and Stefano as the elders of the church. Please pray for the hearts of our group to be unified under the Gospel and to realize the sweetness of being more than just a group of people the have similar beliefs meeting weekly, but to see the goodness of being a family. A family that encourages one another, is committed to God and the Good News reaching our city, but that also speaks truth into each others lives.
Our family is well. Luca is walking and running everywhere now. He loves being outside and is excited for our city pool to open next week. He's so friendly and loves people. We are thankful that he continues to open conversations with other parents at the park. Justin is finishing up his teaching job at the middle and elementary school. It has been an amazing opportunity for him to learn and get to know some of the students, parents, and teachers there. We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on the 19th. God has been so gracious to us in sustaining our marriage. If you have ever prayed for our marriage. Thank you and please continue to pray that the Lord uses our love for one another to display His greater love for the world.
We love you and thank you for praying for us,
Justin, Carli, & Luca