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 :)
- 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
"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 www.relevantmagazine.com/thedrop.php 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.