Thursday, October 30, 2008

Reason #123 Why I love the Spurs

I am copying this off another website... "As some of you might recall, during the preseason doldrums, Suns center Shaquille O'Neal took offense with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich's liberal use of the Hack-a-Shaq strategy during the first round of the playoffs last year, calling it "a coward move."

Check this. I love Greg Popovich, who is the guy with the white beard and the Spurs head coach.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Life Update

The whole goal of writing here once a week has been sadly neglected and I sincerely hope to do better at this. Please forgive me for the time being. There is so much to catch you up on so I will try make this as detailed yet brief as possible. Let's rewind to last weekend; I went on a retreat with my "Archo", which is really a group of people that gets together for community, wanting to walk together towards following Jesus which will result in our ministry being more fruitful. The more we become like Jesus, the more we "abide" in him, we will bear fruit. SO acknowledging this, I showed up at a train station at 9:30 AM and got on a train, having no idea where I was going, just knowing it was an overnight with fun people. We headed off to Castel Gandolfo and Lago Albano, which is where the Pope's summer palace is. It was my first time at a lake in Italy and while not as beautiful as Muskoka, Canada, it was pretty spectacular.
That Saturday was spent getting to know each other better by each getting to share about our lives, experiencing life together, swimming in the Lake and wrestling with the Patterson boys. It wasnt really buisnessy at all but was a good break from Rome and really inexpensive. I has some great time with God, just enjoying the beauty of his creation. For me, this is a great way to connect with Him... spending some time in his Word, looking over the Lake Sunday morning was pretty fantastic. Here are some more pictures from the weekend.
We spent a lot of time chilling, talking...
While I really wanted to moon the camera, wisdom made me settle on this...
I love lakes... and flips...Me upsidedown over Giacamo

Some of the Patterson boys checking out the view..
Giacomo Campobello looking pensive... I like it.
This past week was a week of ministry diving in and spending time on campus. I loved it. This is what I have been missing. I had some great conversations with students, both that I knew and that I didnt know. It is great to begin to share truth and just get a small taste of someones life and where they are coming from. At times it seems a little overwhelming for me... there are literally tens of thousands of students here that I will never meet. How am I supposed to make an impact? One of the things I was reminded of this week was 2 Cor 2:14-15. My good friend GV reminded me that when I go onto campus, it is "God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; ". GV told me that when we step foot on campus, that even before we say anything, the spiritual atmosphere changes because it is God going before us. And that isnt just the reality for me here in Rome. That is the reality for every Christian, wherever they go or work. That was a huge encouragement to me... thanks GV.

Last but not least in this update is this weekend, Amanda was in town and it was so good to hang out with her and others. We hung out with the lady from the Post Office for appertivo which was pretty sweet and then made dinner for a bunch of friends. Dinner was quite the occasion, with conversations happenining in Spanish, Italian and English at the table. I was really encouraged by my conversation with my buddy Daniele about reaching his friends... I like guys like Daniele and am eager to see how God uses them. After dinner we hopped on a metro to the Colosseo and just hung out there until 1:00 AM.... strange how the Colosseo is 20 minutes from where I live. Wild. Well thats it... peace... oh and check out THE DROP (link on the right) for some quality music from Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot).

Friday, October 17, 2008

So Much to Say

I wish I could fill you in on all that is bouncing around in my head. I am not even going to try. But here is a sampling...
  • Many of you might wonder what my actual week looks life. There was a lot of meetings in this one. I hate meetings. I consider it a necessary evil at the beginning of the year, something we need to do to start to plan where we are going but I will be glad when it is over and I can simply go out and meet students. Of my "campus time" this week, which is the time I spend on campus or with students, probably half was meetings. The other part though included these highlights; quality time with my friend Valmir, an Albanian believer who I am pretty sure is my twin (youngest of 7, same # of nieces and nephews), meeting a group of 7 sweet freshman at Political Science who are open to talking about spiritual things and want to hang out more (I met them because one hit me in the leg with a paper airplane), "randomly" running into my friend Mark (Scottish-Italian... he speaks English with a Scottish brogue, which is amazing), meals with Nic and David from the Grass. Other significant time chunks included language lessons, 3.5 hours helping others finish paperwork/meeting with officials in order to legally live in Rome, Bible Study... and much more :)
Scottish/Italian Mark
Albanian Valmir
  • HUGE NEWS: There was a young peoples conference here in Rome last weekend for evangelism. It was SO encouraging to see so many young people who want to see their lives influence others for the Gospel of Christ. We went out together in the morning and got to try to survey the community to see how the church could serve them better (and get into spiritual conversations if people were interested in hearing more about Jesus) and then that evening has a concert/church service together. In the afternoon, I had the chance to go outside of Rome to Fiano Romano and go running with my old friend Giuseppe. He kicked my butt but we had terrific conversation about what he has been reading in the Bible, what I have been learning, and life in general. Giuseppe is still searching, so pray for him... he is a great friend.
This is some of the people from the conference. The lady in front in the yellow is a handful... so much fun, so crazy, and she is Amanda's "italian mom" so I had to get permission from her... who is Amanda, you ask? See below
  • I am reading a book by Frederick Buechner called "Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Trajedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale" and he is a phenomenal writer. I mean, the man has a gift with words that I only dream about. So I thought I would simply transcribe some of the things he has wrote that I was floored by their beauty... here goes
"At the level of words, what do they say, these prophet-preachers? They say this and they say that. They say things that are relevant, lacerating, profound, beautiful, spine-chilling, and more besides. They put words to both the wonder and the horror of the world, and the words can be looked up in the dictionary or the biblical commentary and can be interpreted, passed on, understood, but because these words are poetry, are image and symbol as well as meaning, are sound and rhythm, maybe above all are passion, they set echoes going the way a choir in a great cathderal does, only it is we who become the cathderal and in us that the words echo."
Let him tell them the truth. Before the Gospel is a word, it is silence. It is the silence of their own lives and of his life. It is life with the sound turned off so that for a moment or two you can experience it not in terms of the words you make it bearable by but for the unutterable mystery that it is. Let him say, "Be silent and know that I am God, saith the Lord" (Ps 46:10). Be silent and know that even by my silence and absence I am known. Be silent and listen to the stones cry out... Out of the silence let the only real news come, which is sad news before it is glad news and this is fairy tale last of all....Let him use words which do not only try to five answers to the questions that we ask or ought to ask but which help us to hear the questions that we do not have the words for asking..."
  • I am also reading a book by AW Tozer called "The Radical Cross" which is helping me see the Cross in a new lens. Just realizing the reality of the call to those who call themselves Christians; "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me" (Matt 16:24). Tozer focuses a lot on the fact that taking up your cross is death; the cross was an instrument of execution, not a cute symbol that hung around your neck. On it dies the old man, the one that is fouled up and corrupted by being born into this world. It is a necessary death. Only then can we begin to truly live. I have loved in 2 Cor 3:4-6 where is talks about being sufficient in Christ, it talks about "the letter brings death but the Spirit brings life." I realized for the first time that in order for the Spirit to truly bring life, we need to die to the crap we have help onto for so long. In another verse, it talks about "taking up your cross daily." This is a day by day walk... and I look forward to experiencing more of the life He has for me.
  • New music... check out which has some killer tunes. I just downloaded an EP from a band called Deas Vail, but I really recommend checking out some of the other music this website offers. Also downloaded Matthew Smith's "Love Shall Never Die: The Road Sessions Vol2" which includes a stellar song "Calmer of My Troubled Heart". And last but not least, check out Randall Goodgame, who is releasing a new CD and has offered a free download of the song "All the Years" which is pretty fantastic.
Ok, I gotta go to sleep... but I will try to do a better job of posting more frequently in the future. Hope something here was encouraging for you. And oh yea, on the personal news front, I am now dating a lovely girl named Amanda. I would love to tell you all how terrific she is but you know, that is more personal that this blog should be :) So feel free to shoot me an email and ask away...

Saturday, October 4, 2008


My sweet team... We do pyramids.
It has been much too long since I have last written in this blog and I apologize. This post will be epic, I promise…. I hope. I wish I could write about my summer that has led up to me being in Rome but I don’t think I can do that in specifics without boring you all (ok, you three who actually read this blog).
Instead I thought I would fill you in on what it feels like to let go. I just bought “Swallow the Sea” by Matthew Perryman Jones as the end of the summer and the song by the title “Feels Like Letting Go” seems to describe my summer and the lessons in life that God is trying to teach me right now. This summer kicked my butt; it was busy, full of work and family and support raising. I loved parts of it and hated parts of it and to be honest, didn’t like the parts that God was probably teaching me the most in. A good friend once told me “We all long to be refined but once we are in the crucible, we cry out and don’t like it and try to get out.”

I learned a lot about trust this summer and have been learning the same thing since being back in Rome. I have a hard time trusting God when it is something bigger than I can accomplish on my own. And raising all the money to come back to Rome was something bigger than myself. So there were times when I was riding high, after encouraging conversations or support appointments, and just as quickly I would catch a downdraft and my plane of trust would nose dive towards “reality.” However, the reality I was looking at was one that was dependent upon my efforts, not one that trusted God for doing what he does best, which is God-sized stuff. I read recently that “Hosanna!” means “Save us now!” and the author who wrote this said that “Only in God’s Kingdom is a cry for help equal to a shout of praise.”

I needed to be yelling Hosanna! and believing God would actually show up more often this summer and even after I have arrived in Rome. The great thing is that He doesn’t have to wait for me; he still moves to save me from my incompetence. When I arrived here this year, I thought I had it down. After all, I have been in Rome for a year before and I am a capable leader, just check out all the leadership experience on my resume. Instead I found out that I am a pretty selfish guy, being frustrated when others cannot keep up with my pace, and spent a lot of time being upset at what I didn’t know. Hosanna! God answered my call.
We took over a train car on the way to Tuscany
After the first week in Rome, we headed out to Tuscany for a 3-day “Nuovo Inizio” conference for all new staff and Jenny and I stuck around for a couple more days for a leadership conference. God was gracious to “satisfy the weary soul (Jer. 31:25)” with friends and fellowship, teaching that spoke to my heart (2 Cor 3:4-6… if you have never read it, it blew me away), and the beauty of his creation. I felt as if God was saying, “Just like this summer, all I want is for you to trust me. You are enough because I with you and I am enough for you because I am God, the Creator and sustainer.” I want to walk in that truth as we begin this next week as the first week on campus, the first week of the new quarter.

That song “Feels Like Letting Go” that I talked about has a bridge that says “Well I’m stepping out / I cant see and there is no sound / Seeming void becomes the solid ground / Sight I’ve lost becomes the faith I’ve found.” I want to step out, truly let go and step out into the void to find that I am standing on the Solid Rock.
This is what I wrote in my journal one of the mornings, trying to capture the beauty in front of me. “The beauty here is breathtaking. Literally. The sun slowly creeps up over the horizon, illuminating mist covered fields of corn, olive trees, vineyards and rolling lush green woods. The colors shine in a hazy mist, a golden hue that makes one think of fields, rather than streets, of gold. It is a serene setting, only interrupted by birds and the low murmurs of the cattle. The world lies in wait. For another day, a day that brings closer the day of the Lord.”