Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Jan. 11th, 2010...where I'm at

So over the last couple months my emotions, feelings and state of being have varied wildly from really good to what I might call deep sadness of heart mingled with confusion and some doubt. But the Lord has been faithful even when I am and continue to be unfaithful and lacking in discipline in my life. I've found myself questioning the goodness of the Lord and how and why He does the things or allows the things He does in the lives of His children. And then there are times when an unexplainable peace overcomes it all. I'm intrigued with the Lord and all that He does. No I don't understand it all not even a fraction of it and yes sometimes ok often I wish I did. I'm sure you many of you at some point or another how felt what I'm talking about. Though I've spent very minimal time in the Word lately there have been a few songs that consist of mostly scripture that I just can't get out of my head. It's those promises made by the Lord to His people that keep me going, give me hope and allow me to get up again day after day even when I may not feel like doing so or even when I'd like to actually run the other way. The whole cd is amazing but two Shane and Shane songs in particular have been speaking to me: For the Good and This Is Who I Am. Check them out on itunes. So today Jan. 11th at 11:20 pm I'm feeling good and for today I've felt anew a glimpse of His goodness in my life and a joy in using the gifts He's given me. The sun came out today.

I just finished 500 Days of Summer. Great movie and oddly fitting for the time in my life I find myself in. So go watch it. The artsyness and music are some of my favorite parts. Not your typical humorous or mushy chick flick.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The hurting of a heart

So the news isn't really out to everyone but not quite two weeks ago the guy I've been dating for 5 months broke up with me. I'd always heard stories and seen others go through it but the Lord has spared me that pain for almost 28 years. Until now that is...don't get me wrong the time I spent with this guy was a huge blessing. I saw the Lord use him, our relationship and everything in between to grow me in many areas of my life. It was actually quite beautiful to see and experience it all from the spiritual prospective. Not at all bad for a first relationship but the moment I currently find myself in isn't easy. The first few days I tried to pretend as if it were all a dream and that perhaps I'd wake up and all would be good again. I resorted back to my hard heart and mostly emotionless self from several years ago. But I am not that person anymore nor do I desire to be and then it happened I was quickly broken. I found myself understanding why it ended for the most part, thanking the Lord for how amazing it was and how much He had grown me through it but at the same time deeply hurting inside. I felt feelings and emotions I thought I was incapable of having. It hurt deep inside in a strange way and it wasn't all that pleasant. I wanted to yell at God and ask why he chose to teach me things in this way. I wanted to know how come he couldn't have done it in another way? Or why two people who get along so well, care about each other so much, seem darn good together and love spending time together can't actually fall in love. why? what's the point? In the end I still can't answer all those questions. But I do know that God works in mysterious ways and that sometimes there are just certain things we cannot learn or grow in without being put in very specific circumstances. The fact that I feel anything, am letting myself grieve a little and am actually writing this for all to read is a sign of major work done by the Lord. The last few days I've been pretty good. I laugh again, enjoy going out with friends,etc but it's an ever present battle against the lies of the enemy about my worth, my beauty, things said during our time together and believing the best about this guy. I have nothing to do but cling to the Lord and his promises through this. I've spent a lot of time in the Psalms basking in the raw and varying emotions of David and his conversations with the Lord. They have been a comfort and a beautiful reminder of the Lord's goodness and love for me. So I'm moving on but the tears still fall every now and then. I try to embrace the sick feelings that creep up in my heart every so often and seek the Lord's face through it all. May the Lord ultimately be glorified from this relationships and our individual lives.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


So it seems I'm sick yet again. I can't seem to figure it out but I'm assuming I have a very weak immune system. I can never get hte usual light cold, sore throat, etc like most people. Like always I tried to avoid the antibiotics nad let it heal on it's own a bit. Today I gave in and went to the doctor amid excruciating pain, tiredness, lack of breathing ability, and unable to eat or swallow. Sounds fun huh. It like the light occasional sore throat mutated overnight. The doctor gave me a nice scolding about waiting so long and that I should never do this again in the future because it's very dangerous for me. In the end I have a very bad case of strep throat and one tonsil has abscessed, hence the inability to breath. The tonsil is so swollen it touches the thing in the center of my mouth and that prevents air from entering half my windpipe and causes excruciating pain. The entire side of my neck, lymph nodes, and ear are all swollen. I'll save you the rest of the gory details about the inside of my mouth. But in the end I'm on powerful antibiotics for 12 days and forcing myself to at least drink a little milk or yougurt with the pills nothing more. Pray for quick and complete healing of my throat and tonsils. I don't think I've ever had throat pain this bad in all my life. It's also impairing my ability to talk with the swelling and pain. Our team will be starting planning meetings tomorrow meeting at 10a.m. Those will continue on and off for the next 10 days. I'd love to be up and at full strength for those. So pray for the antibiotics to work quickly and thoroghly. Pray for our team as we enter into this period of intense planning,etc for the upcoming year on campus.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Seeking the Lord- John Piper

Recently I signed up to receive an email devotion from John Piper every 4 days or so. I've always found myself challenged by Piper and his writings but I was thinking how big of an impact can a simple email devotion have, how in-depth can it be,etc. I have to say that I have kept each one of them an I read them over and over again. I love looking into the depth of the Word the way Piper does. I find myself challenged in my my disciple or lack thereof to get into the Word like this on my own time and I'm seeing the grace, mercy and love of the Lord in whole new lights. So here's one that I enjoyed recently. Thought I'd share it with you.

What Does It Mean to Seek the Lord?

August 19, 2009
By John Piper

Read this article on our website.

Seeking the Lord means seeking his presence. “Presence” is a common translation of the Hebrew word “face.” Literally, we are to seek his “face.” But this is the Hebraic way of having access to God. To be before his face is to be in his presence.

But aren't his children always in his presence? Yes and no. Yes in two senses: First, in the sense that God is omnipresent and therefore always near everything and everyone. He holds everything in being. His power is ever-present in sustaining and governing all things.

And second, yes, he is always present with his children in the sense of his covenant commitment to always stand by us and work for us and turn everything for our good. “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

But there is a sense in which God’s presence is not with us always. For this reason, the Bible repeatedly calls us to “seek the his presence continually.” God’s manifest, conscious, trusted presence is not our constant experience. There are seasons when we become neglectful of the Lord and give him no thought and do not put trust in him and we find him “unmanifested”—that is, unperceived as great and beautiful and valuable by the eyes of our hearts.

His face—the brightness of his personal character—is hidden behind the curtain of our carnal desires. This condition is always ready to overtake us. That is why we are told to “seek his presence continually.” God calls us to enjoy continual consciousness of his supreme greatness and beauty and worth.

This happens through “seeking.” Continual seeking. But what does that mean practically? Both the Old and New Testaments say it is a “setting of the mind and heart” on God. It is the conscious fixing or focusing of our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God.

“Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.” (1 Chronicles 22:19)

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1–2)

This setting of the mind is the opposite of mental coasting. It is a conscious choice to direct the heart toward God. This is what Paul prays for the church: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). It is a conscious effort on our part. But that effort to seek God is a gift from God.

We do not make this mental and emotional effort to seek God because he is lost. That’s why we would seek a coin or a sheep. But God is not lost. Nevertheless, there is always something through which or around which we must go to meet him consciously. This going through or around is what seeking is. He is often hidden. Veiled. We must go through mediators and around obstacles.

The heavens are telling the glory of God. So we can seek him through that. He reveals himself in his word. So we can seek him through that. He shows himself to us in the evidences of grace in other people. So we can seek him through that. The seeking is the conscious effort to get through the natural means to God himself—to constantly set our minds toward God in all our experiences, to direct our minds and hearts toward him through the means of his revelation. This is what seeking God means.

And there are endless obstacles that we must get around in order to see him clearly, and so that we can be in the light of his presence. We must flee every spiritually dulling activity. We must run from it and get around it. It is blocking our way.

We know what makes us vitally sensitive to God’s appearances in the world and in the word. And we know what dulls us and blinds us and makes us not even want to seek him. These things we must move away from and go around if we would see God. That is what seeking God involves.

And as we direct our minds and hearts Godward in all our experiences, we cry out to him. This too is what seeking him means.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6)

“If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy...” (Job 8:5)

Seeking involves calling and pleading. O Lord, open my eyes. O Lord, pull back the curtain of my own blindness. Lord, have mercy and reveal yourself. I long to see your face.

The great obstacle to seeking the Lord is pride. “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him” (Psalm 10:4). Therefore, humility is essential to seeking the Lord.

The great promise to those who seek the Lord is that he will be found. “If you seek him, he will be found by you” (1 Chronicles 28:9). And when he is found, there is great reward. “Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). God himself is our greatest reward. And when we have him, we have everything. Therefore, “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”

Seeking with you,

Pastor John

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Summer Pics

Be sure to check out the right hand side of this page as you will find albums of photos from Bari summer camp, Africa and the rest of summer down south. Enjoy!

New Arrivals

Tuesday marked the official start of our year at the Univ. of Florence. The start was a little bittersweet as most of the Florence team had to postpone their arrival for several more weeks. But we are more than excited to host part of the Siena team until their apartments are ready in Siena. At the moment we have a total of 4, 1 year, stitners here. Most have spent some time in Italy before and have even taken a few language classes. Kylie, the lone Florence stinter, has actually never set foot in Italy yet she is unafraid to use her language skills learned in the States. It has been a joy to go back a little in time and remember my first days in Italy when all was strange, unfamiliar, and confusing but yet so exciting at the same time. Though year to year I find myself a little more tired of continually beginning new friendships and relationships I know that it is worth it if not for my sake for theirs. I love getting to help them learn and discover a whole new world. Watching their eyes light up, their confused looks, their embarrassed smiles as they attempt to speak Italian, and so much more provides joy in my days. It's a very simple thing I know but I get much satisfaction out of it. The Florence stint gals have also chosen an apartment very near to my house so I get to spend a lot more time with them than I did last year. I'm looking forward to dinners together, Grey's anatomy dinner nights, and just hanging out as friends. Pray for relationships to be built quickly and that the rest of our team would arrive soon so that we can all start off on this great adventure together.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Moni from Africa....Hope you are all doing well and got my latests newsletter. I've been in Africa since Saturday and things are going well. The team has bonded very quickly nad we're having a grea time together. Unfortunately there was the death of a child in the village we are working in this week so we haven't been able to go to the site as we would be a big distraction to hte funeral,etc. We just returned from gonig to a teammates village in N. Malawi to experience village life i.e. no running water, no electricity, sleeping on the floor, no bathrooms, etc. We love giving hte team of real life here!!! Luckily, I'm used to it nad actually kind of like hte hot cup bath under hte stars. haha. Wish you could all be here to experience it. We also had our first Jesus film showing last night. 500 people came and the response was very positive I think. Pray for the people as they continue to think about and meditate on what htey heard nad saw last night. That htey would come to know Christ in a real and personal way. Pray for our team as well during our morning mettings times in the world and learning about cultural things.Ok I need to go now. Hope you are all doing great!!! MOre news soon.Love, martip.s. pray specifically for God to continue to provide for my finances in the last couple of months many expenses have arisen from flights to africa, to paying to teach at an italian christian summer camp, etc. etc. He has always provided for my needs so pray that I would rest in Him and trust that He will take care of me. Thank you my apologies for how horribly written and misspelled this email is. Africa computer is a little difficult!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thoughts I Stole on Intimacy

It was maybe about 2 years ago when I heard this talk on Hebrews 3 given by one of our national directors here in Italy. It struck me then pretty deep where I was at in my job and spiritually and to this day I go back to it over and over again. 

What is intimacy?
It's a closeness with transparency. What we are looking for is rest and intimacy.  Playing it safe never leads to intimacy or rest.

When difficulties arise one of two things happens:
 1. It pushes you closer to God
2. It pushes you further away from God and you run for safety

Difficulties that push us from God lead to unbelief which leads to a hard heart. 

In Hebrews 3 we are given two commands:
1. consider Jesus, contemplate Him
2. collectively see to it that you don't let anyone in your community fall away

Where is the rest I seek?  psalm 95,   Jesus provides that rest.

Unbelief?  Ex. 17: 1-7 Pay attention to quarreling in your own heart,etc. this can be a sign of unbelief
In Exodus 17 the people ask    1. Is God present?      2. Is God good?
This is always our root issue of faith. Do we believe God is present and good?

Ch 4: 14-16 Where's the grace?
return to the throne of Grace for it is always open. Run to Christ in prayer for here you will find rest. Hold fast to our confession because of Christ's death and resurrection. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Blog Neglector!

Yep that's me a blog neglector. It was and still isn't my intention to be one but I am none the less.  THings have been so busy this year and just when we try to slow it down a notch somehow it seems to get busier or more confusing. The last couple months started out shaky but ever since March I've loved most of my days on campus. The Lord is doing some pretty cool things and I've been blessed to make a lot of new friendships. The months are rolling on and I realize I've been in my new city for just over a year now. crazy how time flies. At the moment we're in the process of ending the semester well, transitioning to summer stuff a little and getting ready for our summer project in Malawi. The last couple weeks have brought some sad losses for me but joy in the midsts of them as well. A great uncle who was like my grandfather passed away. He had lived a nice long and full life. Ever since I can remember spending time with him and his wife was always a spiritually encouraging and uplifting time for me. The love the Lord and had a relationship with Him that I still envy and covet to this day.... 

So Dark is Europe

30 Days Of Prayer for the Muslim World