Sunday, December 26, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
I wanted to share this video with you from our new Italian National Director, Franco Bosio. He and his family are incredible spiritual leaders for us here in Italy and I am excited as well as blessed to be workign alongside them in Italy.
Since last fall actually longer I think I've been in a low grade yet steady period of mild depression. Looking back on it all and thinking about how I felt I can see it very clearly now. This past January it seemed to all fall apart and I broke down into a time of severe depression. For me there is no shame in depression, admitting it or even working through it. I don't believe it makes me any less of a Christian or that it's a sin issue. I do believe there are many factors and one of which is the enemy at work in our lives trying to destroy us spiritually using every tactic possible. But thankfully the Lord allowed me to come to the realization that I was in this tough place and to ask for help. Some pretty incredible people have stepped into my life over the last few months and I can honestly say I am doing significantly better, that's not to say there aren't still tough moments for me. But in the depths of who I am I know the Lord has to be here at work in my life and I am every thankful for that.
Moving on like I said as I came back on Sept. 5th I was unsure of how I would really be doing emotionally and spiritually as I stepped back into this environment, culture and uncertainty that can sometimes be my job. The first week or so back felt really different and alone in some ways. There are no longer any stinters(1-2 yr. staff) in my city and one of my good friends/teammates has left and gotten married. So in my neighborhood there are really only 3 of us now in terms of American single crusade staff. Others are in the city but with families or they live further away. I had thoughts of what hte heck am I doing back here, can I do this, am I happy, etc. but I also knew I could not trust those feelings and emotions immediately. I needed time for people to come back from the summer and then for ministry to start up. So I pushed through making decisons to trek across town to hang out with other staff and teammates or just go play at the grocery to keep myself doing well with the depression and emotions. It seemed to really help.
The last couple days I've really felt a turn around in how I am feeling. Really back to myself, enjoying Italy, excited about ministry and all the changes this year, but also a little more ready to jump into working on the rough realtionship I seem to have with the Lord right now. Don't worry I haven't stopped being a Christian but I do believe I am in a significant and crucial place with the Lord right now. It's going to take some work on my part and well I know He's already at work from His side. I'm praying for a desire to pursue Him and the ability to fully know and experience Him. If you think about it please feel free to pray about my realtionship with the Lord specifically. I'm also strving to be honest about how I am doing but also not ashamed of the place the Lord has me. Thanks for being on the journey with me.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Some interesting facts about the spiritual reality here in Italy.
DID YOU KNOW:
• 32,000 (out of 33,500) Italian communities have no established evangelical witness
• Only 10% (of expatriate missionaries) on average return for a second term
• there are 616 official religions in Italy
• there are an estimated 100,000 recognized fortune-tellers
• less than 5% of Catholics are actually practicing
• Islam is the second religion in Italy. Jehovah’s Witnesses are as numerous as all Evangelicals put together
• 2.6 million foreigners live in Italy
• in Milan alone more than 1000 teenagers commit suicide each year
Would you take a moment and pray about these things?
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
One of the signs of elder brother lostness according to Keller is a lack of assurance of the Father's love. He says that because we are unsure of God's love we try to live up to a moral code to earn our salvation. Problem is we're never sure we've arrived at being good enough for Him. So we simply aren't sure God loves us and delights in us.
Though I might not always come right out and tell you this is where I'm at or how I feel it's often my reality. Many times I may not even see this lack of assurance in my Christian life but if I look below the surface behind all my symptoms I see this is the root. Some of the symptoms he mentions are a lack of wonder, awe, intimacy or delight in one's conversations with God. I'd say since the summer of '05 this has for a majority of the time been very true of me. Most of my life prior to this time I'd say I already struggled with feeling emotionless in general. But I started to explore the roots of this in '05 and well the venture continues... Keller tells us to think of 3 kinds of people: a business associate we don't really like,a friend we enjoy doing things with and then someone we are in love with and who is in love with us. He talks about our communication style with each one. I'll skip to the one about the lover since this is one of the phrases standing out to me. He says that "with your lover you will sense a strong impulse to speak about what you find beautiful about him or her". Personally I find myself doing this sometimes with people in terms of God being the lover here. But too often I can look and see that this is really lacking in my relationship with God. Or often times I find myself telling students and others all about God's beauty, greatness, power, grace,love, etc. because I do believe it's there and He is all of these things and I want so badly for others to fully experience even if I don't myself. I hold out hope that perhaps they will experience it 100%.Problem is I want to know why it isn't this way for me. Why can't I feel it, be assured of it, fully embrace it?? It's not like I always am out there consciously choosing to seek out other Saviors or talk about my other beautiful lovers. But deep down or rather all over I feel very little and most times nothing. There's no emotion, no feeling, no nothing. That opens up a whole other area in my life. Too much for a blog. However, I am not content with this state of being. I refuse to accept that I will never fully get the Gospel and never fully be assured of God's love for me and His delight in me. Sometimes I think I'll never get it 100% myself but I've yet to give up the battle to do so. I believe and know that ultimately God is good and He does what he promises. Usually in his own timing or in his own ways though.
So the place I find myself at the moment is admitting the yes I'm not fully sure of God's love for me and that coupled with my feeling very little makes for a strange and confusing place to be for a Christian whose job is full time ministry. It'd be the same kind of place for any other Christian with any other occupation though I think. So the other night I was attempting to describe my current state of being with adjectives as I lay in bed. This is what I do most nights. Around 2,3 or 4 am when I finally crawl under the covers I begin to just think, ponder, wonder and then dialogue with God. Usually goes on for a while and well I find myself barely sleeping. Anyway, back to the other night... as I thought about a more thorough description for my current state of being I avoided the "dry" word because I wanted to honestly get at the root of what I was feeling or rather not feeling. I began to imagine this place that was pretty large but empty, a light but hazy shade of gray, with an abounding silence where I was all alone. It felt a little lonely at first but mostly it felt calm like it's ok to be in this place and not understand it, not really know how to go forward in it, or exit out of it. Just a place to kind of just be and think.
I would describe this place as where I currently find myself spiritually. I think I'm there just being and wrestling with God and the Gospel. And I don't think it's a bad thing just tough. To end this post here's a couple sentences from pg. 70 of the book that caught my eyes.
"If you've become a Christian out of being an elder brother, you can even more easily slide back into elder brother attitudes and spiritual deadness. If you have not grasped the Gospel fully and deeply, you will return to being condescending, anxious, insecure, joyless and angry all the time." (keller,70)
I logically know the Gospel and have accepted it but I believe mostly I don't deeply and fully grasp the Gospel in my heart and a large part of that comes out of my mistrust of God's heart, my lack of assurance of His love for me and my issues with feeling/emotion. So this is what I am wrestling with. Welcome to the journey.
come back later for more ramblings...
Moving along through most of this I was like ok ok got it. Yeah I see that tendency in me to be a pharisee law abider trying to earn my salvation but there's also a bit of the rebeller in me. Keller takes time to redefine sin for us as well just in case we don't quite have it down yet. "Elder brothers obey God to get things. They don't obey God to get God himself-in order to resemble him, know him, love him and delight him. So religious and moral people can be avoiding Jesus as Saviour and Lord as much as the younger brothers who say they don't believe in God and define right and wrong for themselves." (keller, 43) So in the end what God is saying is sin isn't just doing bad things or wrong things but rather putting ourselves in the place of God as Savior, Lord and Judge.
Then Chapter 5