Thursday, July 30, 2009

Random Thoughts

It has been over a month since I last wrote and by now most of you could probably care less about what I write... sorry for dropping the ball. I spent most of today reorganizing my room and trying to throw out a lot of junk. Some were just little scraps of paper with quotes or thoughts I had scribbled down. I thought I would share them with you. Enjoy

From 2007 at Miami University:
"Life is a symphony. We all play an important role, even if we dont know it. Most of the time, we are a discordant noise, a jumble of sounds. But when even clusters, small pockets, start listening and following the conductor, beautiful music arises. Just think if everyone was watching and following him."

"The truly humble are never embarrassed."

"Be at a place of absolute and complete abandonment. It is the difference between the holy and the common."

And last but not least, some great quote I found scribbled down from living in a house with four other guys:
"I must have been one of those gifted childs..." Brent
"This was supposed to be a guys weekend and you inviting that little Yeti!?" Ben, to Brent, referring to Brent's girlfriend.
"If you dont guarantee me at least a C, you are in trouble." Brad, as he was attempting to copy someones work.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Private Symphony

This is still a work in progress, but I thought I would share it with you all...
The Private Symphony
Scuffed, thrice-repaired shoes showed the mileage he had put on them. From a distance, he maintained a quiet dignity and could have passed for just another passenger. But he wasn’t. The beat-up violin showed that. The creased Coca-Cola cup that jingled with change any time the Metro car rocked was a dead giveaway. So he stepped on the car yet again and picked up the bow.

His suit was patched at the elbows, a small hole in the shoulder and when you stood close to him, you could tell it hadn’t been washed in a couple days. A worn out suit for a worn out man. The creases on his face, the tanned leather lines, spoke of more experiences than 45 years should have. It spoke a journeys and trials that the others would never know of. Not even the men that he shared a train stoop knew his story. They just knew he slept with the violin, got up and went to work on the Metro every day.

So he picked up his bow and put it to his worn out violin. Cracked in the front, varnish peeling, and scuffed on the edges, the instrument looked as if it had as many journeys as the man playing it. The stories it could have told would have filled many a Moleskin, stories that Steinbeck would have loved to tell of hardship and real people.

With the first draw, the man’s eyes closed and he was lost. The music was not the typical Godfather theme song nor 35 second ditty that would impress in the time between stops, leaving enough time to collect a little change. No, this was classical, Beethoven and Brahms, music for mahogany paneled halls, not metal Metro cars. And as this man’s eyes remained closed, in his mind he saw it.

The Metro, with its graffiti painted walls and crowded mass of humanity, became his concert hall. The iron bars that people clung to became gleaming brass banisters. The plastic seats with busy commuters and tourists because plush cushioned rows of high class concert-goers. The rubber lined floors became polished wooden floors. Shoes polished to a military shine, tuxedo crisp from the cleaners, the man stood a little straighter as he stepped forward to take the lead.

No longer was he playing a beat-up violin but a 1765 Stradivarius, on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose every fiber vibrated with class, borrowed dignity from a rich source. And though he was playing alone, behind the squeezed eyes and passionate playing, an orchestra swelled in his private symphony.

The others on the Metro noticed it. Some sat at straighter, pressing pause on their iPod to head the magic. A few even dared to openly gawk at the man, surprised that he didn’t even start with the typical, “Buon giorno tutti.” One man didn’t get off at the next stop, though he should have. Another wondered what he could have created if he stuck with his dream of being a concert pianist. But their reactions didn’t matter to the man.

Nor did the change he should have received. Ignored was the cup in his jacket pocket. There was something more important than money that was being exchanged. It was a gift from one to another. When he finished, the Metro stopped at suddenly as he started, as if the music was propelling it along and it no longer could go forward without it. It jolted the man and he stumbled back into reality. His eyes opened, sad eyes that spoke of past loves and performances.

Not a word was said. His hand reached back for the change cup in his jacket pocket. He began to walk up the car, still not saying a word as people fished into their pocket for change to give him, giving that robbed him of his dignity. It wasn’t meant to be like this, he thought. A hand reached out and placed a bill into the cup. He looked to find the face of a young, bearded man.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Fathers Day

President Obama, I applaud this article. Thanks for not only being a politician but also being a person, for being a father. Happy Fathers Day to all those fathers out there who had the guts to stick around, to love their kids, to raise them well. Dad, you are top notch. I love you. Thanks for being not only physically present but always emotionally present. Thanks for teaching me about Jesus. Thanks for caring about what I am doing and for constantly praying for me.

I havent done this in a long time. So FREE MUSIC FOR YOU. I used to do something called Free Music Friday and I have just gotten swampted. But the return is a free live album, courtesy of our British friends COLDPLAY! Just click on the link, go to their website, and click on Free Download Left Right Left Right (the name of the free live album). It is good stuff.

And to make up to you the fact that I havent written sooner, here is another free download! This one is an album from a band called The Damnwells. I dig their sound and it is FREE so what do you have to lose?

As for me, more will be written about changes, about wrapping up The Italian Grande Adventure TOMORROW. So check back soon!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Countdown: Day 25

Currently listening to Jon Foreman - Limbs and Branches
which you can listen to by clicking the link and going to the 7th cd in the list
My sports hero is David Robinson, who played for the San Antonio Spurs. The beautiful thing about his career is he knew when it was time to retire and declared it before the season. So his entire last season was a lot like a celebration parade for an illustrious career. And he finished it by winning a Championship, like the Champion he is and was. Why do I say all this? Well my STINT career here in Rome, Italy is coming to a close and I know it. I have no championship to win but "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:13-14)

In celebration of that, of only 3 and 1/2 weeks left in this Grande Adventure of Roma Italia, I would like to fill you in first on a day by day of this week.. well probably every other day to be honest. And then celebrate Sunday by posting a short story I wrote earlier this year. So here I am, Monday winding to a close, and I have lived a full day. Waking up at 7:30, I wanted to spend some time with God before my morning meeting to evaluate the year with the two other members of my missional team. However Rome was Rome, and I had to settle for some prayer time as I waited for a bus... and waited... and waited. What should have been a 25 minute commute turned into a 50 minute commute and I got there 5 minutes before our meeting was to start.

The meeting went well, good honest evaluation is not always easy but is good for the soul. As past failure is exposed to the light, their power is stripped and the light of God's truth and how he has redeemed even our failures shines through. Hopefully we will learn and move on and pass along that learning to help others learn from our mistakes and successes. We swung by my favorite kebab/pizza place, Pizza Design, on the way to campus and I said hey to Hassan as he hooked me up with some killer pizza. Yes, this it Italy and we eat a lot of pizza.La Sapienza, 2nd largest university in the world
Campus time was especially sweet for me today as I got to see some old friends. Initially we were meeting with the american Summer Project students that are here hanging out with us, but I had to duck out and plan a beach outreach with The Dueck. Returning briefly to the SP students, I was once again drawn away seeing David from the Grass, an old friend that I havent seen since December. Connecting with him was good but he is still very much David from the Grass, kind and gentle and with a spirituality that is about as solid as the wind blowing... you can feel it but it isnt really based in anything concrete, so it goes wherever it pleases. I had to take off and make some phone calls to schedule physical therapy for my healing left arm, but it was good to see him.
Me and Giovanni in London in January
I tried to meet some guys playing around with a Rugby ball, which was a lot of fun for me to play with but we didnt really get to talk a lot. It was still refreshing to simply play, and I invited them to the beach thing this Saturday. But even better is I ran into Giovanni the Juggler, a good friend from last year who has been studying in London all year. I got to talk to him, his girlfriend, and another friend Giulia. My favorite part was when another friend, Dmitri, joined us and asked me, "Do you think what your association does here is useful?" I got to respond to both why it is useful in general to have a place to discuss spiritual things and for me, as a Christian, how this relationship with God has changed my life. Dmitri seemed to think that it wasn't necessary, not in a mean way, but simply that people can find other places to talk about this stuff. And I got to sit back and watch Giovanni argue for why we are needed here in Italy, even though Giovanni isn't a believer! Here, my dear friend Giovanni, argues for why Agape Italia is needed even though he doesnt agree with my stance on Christ. God is BIG!

After campus, I hit up the grocery and then to some good talk time with The Dueck, learning from his wisdom and the lessons that God has been teaching him. His parting words? "Seek God. Really seek him this week, not just to fill in your quiet time quota, but to seek God." Good advice. Simple yet profound. Then I cooked for me and Brian, including an amazing steak I bought as a special treat. Emails, calls to Amanda my lovely and amazing girlfriend, and enjoying music filled out the day. So there it is, Monday, more than you ever wanted to know... but a day in the life.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Simply Beautiful 90s Memories

This is incredible... I love it

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Evening Art

Photo by Chris McClelland
Beautiful post... you can find the original HERE but I copied and pasted this from The Rabbit Room by author S.D. Smith.
Evening Art
Thunder is rolling behind me like a boulder down a mountain. The lightning is so frequent it feels like there are only flashes of darkness to interrupt it. Appalachia is alive at evening time. Like the stomach of a starving giant, the sky growls. I take cheating glances back through the broad, open windows. Trying to work. Trying to write. I look again. An inelegant tree silhouetted against a blazing peach band of evening sky. Charcoal clouds above and surly earth beneath. Uneven edges –like life.

The window-framed beauty entices me away from the false light of this monitor. Monitor? I am watching the images of my mind appear before me in insufficient words. I am feeding this hungry screen with the little somethings of my soul. This machine receives my humble offerings like an understanding woman. Behind me the day fades in glory, trumpets of thunder announce its passing. The king is dead, rest in peace. Tomorrow you rise again.

So many things I have put behind me belong there. But here is wondrous thunder and bursts of brightness. Here is sunset. Words can wait. Mine can wait. Here is the evening song of the first Poet. Here is the next line in an undying verse.

Before me is my sub-creation. Behind me is Evening by God.

Turn around.

Perspectives on a Ceiling

This kid went to my high school and graduated this year. Thought I would post his speech that someone read for his at graduation. You can find his story HERE but the long and short of it is he got some crazy disease that caused both his legs to be amputated during his senior year. Kid knows something about trials.

Perspectives on a Ceiling

Greetings to all, and thank you so very much for providing me with the opportunity to communicate with you today. I want to also thank my good friend, Michael Caligiuri, for standing in for me (no pun intended!!!)

Seriously, why Perspectives on a Ceiling you may ask?.....Well, as most of you know I have spent the last couple of months having more of an opportunity to “look up at the ceiling” than I have much else……..funny what you see when the only place to look is up.20

That rather humbling feeling makes you ponder things a bit….and maybe adds a new perspective.

One thing we ALL know is life has its share of “tests “that’s for sure. For example, to get here, WE have all endured the tests of some 13 years of academic rigor. Not to mention, tryouts and tests of all kinds ranging from theatre to track, from first base to first chair, from social studies class to “which social class??” and the list goes on. Whether it is chemistry or crew (had to have a blatant plug for my rowing mates of course) we have all had tests we will all endure tests.

And yes, the tests will vary in intensity and challenge. Some tests won’t make sense….Some we will never understand …But what matters is not so much the results we achieve but the CHARACTER WE REVEAL

The Bible tells us that “blessed is the man who perseveres under trials” How blessed we will be depends on how we respond to the trials, will we rise to meet a challenge? Will we study just a little more? Will we try again even though we have failed? Or worse yet, we refuse to try just because we MIGHT fail …Will we be afraid to go just a little further to show a kindness even if it costs us something?

I think these are the responses that often distinguish the best of us from the rest of us…

It is the gamers and strivers that push on just a little longer and a little further,…..those that make an accomplishment seem to rise above others of their kind due to the sheer determination and iron will which birthed them that inspire us all, these are truly the memorable moments and people of life.

And I want you to know this, you are all those inspiring kinds of people to me. You see, most all of you have taken a moment to reach out to me…to try to sign a card, to participate in a walk …to check on me through someone or some blog and most of all, to pray for me and my family!!….

This has been called a miracle by some, and certainly unbelievable by most…...And yes…I am a living testimony to just what a difference you as individuals, and as friends together could make, as you shout up to Heaven,, and what a difference it did in fact make!!!

Let me say for sure that I know the extra mile works. the extra word, the extra gift of care, the extra prayer….OH boy does it work!!!…… Know this, that as you face tests and trials in the future …th at it is not the trials, but your faith and your reaction to them that will be the measure of you true Character

And remember….”when you do what you can, God will do what you can’t”. So please accept my sincere thanks and gratitude for being my friends and my intercessors….Accept my congratulations for your accomplishments and your successes….And I know no matter what challenges you face, you will pass the test!

God Bless You All.
Your Friend,

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Gospel and Next Year

I have listened to this sermon twice from Hudson Community Church. It is called "Justified Sinners" and based out of the end of Galatians 2. It has been impacting my view of the Gospel and is sinking into my life. You can listen to the audio HERE or see the video HERE. Feel free to leave feedback.
"Right at this moment you are more deeply flawed than you have ever dared to admit to anyone, even yourself. And right at this moment you are more deeply loved than you have ever dared to dream."

"If I live my life like this, saying this is what I have done, and God asks "Why not Hell?" and I say, "No hell for me, look at what I've done!" I am still completely self absorbed. Bricks are good to stand on and look at other, to build walls, to build forts...but the cross is only good for one thing. The cross is an instrument of death."

"Once you've paid the death penalty, you are paid in full, there is nothing more you can give. In the words of Clint Eastwood, "When you kill a man, you take everything he has and everything he is going to have."
The cross takes everything you are, ever have been and ever will be. All your good deeds and all your bad."
"What does it cost your God to love you? [Some people's answer] is, "Oh it doesnt cost him, he just does?" What kind of love is that? That is not like any love we experience here on earth. All love is costly!... If you dont believe in a God of wrath and a God of hell, then when I tell you "God loves you," you dont have any idea what that means. It has no power to change you... And if I you think you are a good person and just need a little bit of grace and tell you that Jesus died for you, you will yawn. You will say, "Yea I know, of course he did, because I am worth it." And it will have no power to change you."

I don't think I have said this on this blog but I will not be returning to Italy next year to work with Agape. I have loved my time here and love what God is doing but I don't know if this is what God is calling me to long-term. So I am going to take this next year and explore. Try new things. Hopefully find my passions and what God wants for me. Two things have given me a lot of peace about this. One was an interview with Randall Goodgame found HERE. The quote that he said was, "as I eventually gained more discernment about my gifts and passions, I realized some time last year that I needed to go... I learned that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. It seems like something I should have learned a long time ago, but I’ll take what I can get in the wisdom department." I love Agape Italia and I am fairly "good" at this job here. But I still dont know if that means I should be here long-term. I might be coming back, but for this period in life, I wont be.

The second thing that helped me was a worksheet I did on identity. I realized that I have been basing a lot of my identity on what I do. So you ask me who I am and I would answer, "I am Chris Rule and I work for Agape Italia...." I realized that identity is deeper. Who we are is deeper. If it is just what I do, then my identity is constantly changing, and I was afraid of that. But my identity is that I am a child of God, I am appointed to go and bear fruit that will last (John 15), that I am loved and accepted by God because of Jesus and he is with me always. That doesnt change if I am in full time ministry, a journalist or a janitor.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Davide - A Spring Break Story

Who would have thought that the long-haired kid with the longboard strapped to his backpack and rocking shorts, a ‘stache and a soul patch was Italian. I have never met an Italian like this. But Davide was Italian, sure enough, and he spoke fantastic English. So me and two spring breakers from the first week sat down and started to chat.

Turns out Davide is a surfer who had spent the last 3-months in Hawaii. He loved American’s and speaking in English and wanted to hang out more, so I was all about it. More specific, he is a body-surfer but lest you think that is weak, he has surfed a 14-foot wave on one of his boogey boards; these aren’t your $25 Wal-mart Styrofoam boogey boards.

So the next week, Davide came to grab lunch with me and some guys from Ole Miss who were in town for their spring break week. Isaac and Gabe (Ole Miss) hit is off with him and they spent the entire afternoon together. Davide even went touring with them, because he had never been to a lot of the churches. As they spent time together, Isaac began to explain what the meaning behind churches is, why God came, what the Bible is, and who Jesus is and what he did.

The next day he got lunch with us again and spent the entire day with Isaac and the guys again. Isaac continued to walk through the basics with him, explaining that Jesus truly was God and came to live a perfect life, die as the perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins, and rose again to conquer death once and for all. And because of all this, we can have a relationship with God through Jesus and can learn about this in the love-letter that God wrote us (which we call the Bible). This was news to Davide, something he had never heard, and when he heard it and knew he could, he made a decision to follow Jesus and start this relationship with God!

I wasn’t there during most of this conversation but I met up with him the next week to hang out. He had already read through the Gospel of John and had some questions. We got the chance to hang out, talk, and it was so encouraging for me to see that he legit, for real, a new brother in Christ! I am stoked to keep talking with him, to see how God continues to help me grow through this and also how God helps him grow in this new faith.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Links for the Lazy

Dear faithful blog reader(s),
I am sorry I have alienated so many of you by not writing often. I promise to change my wayward behavior when they shorten this cast on friday. And I promise to write how I got the cast too. But right now I can only type with on hand, so this is gonna be short. Enjoy the pictures and check out the links for some worthwhile reading. Much love.
Perhaps our inability to abide repetition, our constant looking for something “new,” has a lot more to do with our weakness and failure than it does our becoming “mature.”

Interesting thoughts on our culture and the desire for new experiences.
As punishment for a "major offense," such as fighting or stealing, students are told to place both hands on the seat of a leather chair and brace for what Nixon calls "a whippin'." Before he begins, though, he sits the child down for a quiet talk about why he, or she, is in trouble. He tries to determine if a deeper issue, such as a problem at home, might warrant a meeting with a counselor. If the child shows remorse, Nixon will often send him or her back to class without a spanking. Otherwise, he makes sure he is calm, and he makes sure his elbow is still. Then he delivers "three licks" to the child's rear end. If the child is a girl, then a female administrator does it. Some of the kids cry. Some are silent. Some want a hug. And after the child is sent back to class, still stinging, Nixon sits alone in his office and thinks about what the child has done, and what he has done. "If I could burn that paddle in my stove," Nixon says, "I would. This is the worst part of my job."

Check out this article. It is what good parenting and correct discipline should be like, in my humble opinion.

Check out musical artist Adam Agin, who had this to say in a recent blog.
I'm not saying I have lost all of who I was, but I sure am trying... I want to grow, break, build again, and come back stronger. Dare I say, hurt is worth it."

Generation Me
This is a short, quality read and a sad indictment on our culture... lets pray it changes. Check out this worthwhile read.

But no matter how you were raised, the handiest cure for narcissism used to be life. Whether through fate, circumstances or moral imperative, our culture kept hubris in check. Now, we encourage it.....Treating the whole world as if it works for you doesn't suggest you're special, it means you're an ass. As an antidote to a skyrocketing self-worth, Twenge recommends humility, evaluating yourself more accurately, mindfulness and putting others first. Such values may seem quaint, maybe even self-defeating, to those of us who think we're special, but trust me: it gets easier with practice.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Good Friday to Easter Sunday

I am stealing from another persons blog today. The person who wrote this is the wife of a guy who is a missionary here in Italy and had a stroke recently, and among other things, spent 50 days in the hospital. So she has a right to say what she says. Read it and praise God. HE IS RISEN!

Dear Friends,

"A blessed GOOD Friday to each of you!!

Just wanted to share with you a reflection the Lord gave me this morning in my meditations. Today is what we call in America “Good Friday”. In Italy this day is called “Venerdì Santo” (Holy Friday). I wonder if there are other countries that use the word “good” to describe this significant day. And I wonder when the idea that this day was “good” first came into being. I seriously doubt that anyone who was actually present that day would have called it good. At least not until Sunday. Sunday changed everything. Sunday made Friday “good”.

I have been thinking how “the end” explains “the before”. The Passion of Christ “ended” in the resurrection and ascension which “explained” the crucifixion. His coming again will give further explanation to all that comes before.

Our lives follow the same pattern. The events of “today”, without the commentary of “tomorrow”, are hard to evaluate. Even though these are difficult days for us we feel confident that the end will explain all that has come before. Perhaps that end will only come when we see Jesus face to face, but then we, too, will say it is “good”! And if in the end I will call it “good”, why not now?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Treasure Principle

I am working on stories from spring break to tell here but want to obtain permission from those involved before putting their names or pictures all over the internet. So in a brief break from my life here, I would love to let you guys in on a sweet book called "The Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn. I first read "The Treasure Principle" probably 4 years ago and of all the self-help or Christian literature I have ever read on giving/finances, it is still the best one I have read. Not only is it solidly based in what the Bible says (important for me as a Christian) but it is practical, with tips that you can actually apply to your life. At less than 100 pages, it is short and easy to read. This book truly will open your eyes to the JOY of giving, how it is something that is a blessing and not an obligation. I apologize that I can't give a more in depth summary right now because the books are at my parents house in the States, but I recommend this book as highly as I possibly can.

In the spirit of giving, I (thanks to the good people who publish this book) want to give away two copies of this book. All you have to do is shoot me an email at or leave a comment with your name and email (unless I already know your contact info... in that case, a name is fine) and I will draw out of a hat the two winners. So allow me to give away something that benefitted me. Enjoy.

Story Behind the Book
After years of writing and teaching on the theme “God owns everything,” in 1990 Randy Alcorn was sued by an abortion clinic (for peaceful, nonviolent intervention for the unborn). Suddenly he had to resign as a pastor and was restricted to making minimum wage. Legally unable to own anything, Randy gave all his book royalties to missions work and need-meeting ministries. He and his family have experienced the reality of The Treasure Principle—that God really does own everything, takes care of us, and graciously puts assets into our hands that we might have the joy and privilege of investing in what will last for eternity.

If you don't win in the drawing, you can buy the book for REALLY cheap at

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mustache and Mullet March

Did I say that I celebrated the 6th Anniversary of Mustache and Mullet March? Check out the hair evolution (or should I say devolution?) from this year. Enjoy.

Two Worthwhile Articles

I know, I know, the blog has been languishing (for the few that actually have been faithful to check it out. That is about to change. Spring Break was crazy fun and busy and stressful here in Rome but we saw God do some HUGE things. So over the next couple days, I will be posting stories from that. In the meantime, here are two worthwhile articles to check out:

Cobain and Biggie: How We Misjudge Music - Thoughtful article on music... I especially likes the conclusion; "The only difference is that we have invented new rules for what’s “cool” (this year it seems to be putting odd, “progressive” sounds in your songs and ignoring traditional songwriting structure). I wonder what albums that we’ll listen to in 15 years and realize that they weren’t everything we built them up to be."

Staring into the Abyss: An article that is actually quite frightening. This article synthesizes some of Nietzsche's key ideas on a way that a simple guy like me can understand. Highly recommend checking this out

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pre-Spring Break Madness

This past Thursday, here in Rome, we celebrated Valentines Day. No, this isn't because the Italian calender is that different from the American one, simply we needed a good excuse for a party and didn't plan ahead enough to do a Valentines Day party earlier. The party itself was a blast, and although my mind was done after speaking Italian for 4 straight hours, I loved that so many people were able to make it. I met a bunch of cool new people and got to stand on a chair and give a top 10 ways guys and girls are different... in Italian. I think a good time was had by all, though sadly I didn't take any pictures to prove it.

Life here has been a whirlwind lately, with little time to slow down. We are preparing for 3 weeks of American spring break students who are coming to help us out, to experience the ministry in Rome. It is a great help but also a great responsibility and a lot of work to prepare to best utilize these students. Not only do we want to use them well, we want them to have a great time, to truly get to experience ministry in Rome in one week. Needless to say, planning isnt my greatest strength and so this has been a little stressful for me.

Some of my responsibilities have been obtaining places for the nights to have outreaches with the students. In a large part due to my poor planning, but also due to not knowing the city and bars as well as I should, a lot of this is still up in the air. And the first spring breakers arrive here in 3 days. Pray that God works and all this gets taken care of. I am learning in the midst of all this what it truly means to trust God.

And speaking of trusting God, I am in the middle of trying to figure out what this next year holds in store for me and it frequently freaks me out. I am learning how to trust God and sometimes I do a great job of that, knowing that He holds my future in His hands and loves me more than I know. And then there are the other days that I get stressed out, dwell on the many options (join long-term staff here in Rome, return to the USA to do any number of jobs, work here in Italy in a job other than with Agape), and get buried under stress, paralyzed and unable to move. So pray for me on this decision, that I might actually trust God.

There is a church here this week to help out with a number of things, Hudson Community Church (I think). They did a night of music/praise/worship/sharing/prayer for us yesterday and one of the pastors shared something. He told a story about a pastor he knows in India who has a pretty debilitating case of leprosy but who continues to walk from leper village to leper village. He asked him what the Gospel means to him and his response is what I want to be true in my life. "Jesus Christ is all I have. Jesus Christ is all I need. Jesus Christ is all I want." May that be true in all of our lives.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Short and sweet... Agape Italia does a summer trip to Malawi. This trip is for Christian's and non-Christians, is a sweet way to show God's love to those in Malawi by building a school/well/latrines. One of the guys on staff here, Haswell, is from Malawi and his heart for his homeland is a beautiful thing. Check it out... it is in Italian, but it still looks cool, even if you can't read Italian :)


Wednesday, February 18, 2009


In January, I saw a band called Bluetree perform at an Agape UK conference in Nottingham, England. The journalist in me took notes, wanting to write a speedy concert review. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. These past two days I have been in leadership meetings for all of Agape Italia. It has been some heavy thinking, some fantastic teaching, and great application points. So I should write about that, right? Well, needless to say, my brain is a little fried and I need to write about something a little lighter. Hence, I give you my personalized, unjournalistic (because it includes first person and heavy opinion) concert review of Bluetree, a month and a half late.

As the lights dimmed, I had no idea of what to expect. The only thing I had heard of this band was that they wrote a fantastic song called “God of This City.” But looking at the stage, I wasn’t exactly expecting a Chris Tomlin carbon copy; the electronics and two Macbooks just screamed “high tech hipster pop punk.”

The six boys from Northern Ireland trotted out and didn’t waste time; the electronic beat began its metronome time from the keyboard, the bass kicked in with the drums, the keys adding color and suddenly the stage exploded with sound as the rest joined in. This was not going to be a low-key worship service.

Soaring above the wall of sound was lead singer Aaron Boyd voice, somewhat similar to his British Coldplay cousins, yet rarely having to revert to falsetto to hit the high notes. Instead, the full extent of the rockstar yell was employed, capturing the passion in the music. As he smiled and rocked back, reaching down to fire from his six-string notes to attack the silence, the joy was palpable.

Both visually and audibly landing between the pulpit and the pub, the scarves and ties were paired with tattoos, sacred lyrics with good Irish rock. In what I consider one of the hardest feats for a worship band, they had fun and put on a great performance without being pretentious, without a “look at me” attitude. They even did the seemingly impossible; they played “Light the Fire” and made it cool.

Their sound was at times influenced by the “techno madness” served up by Pete Kernoghan, at times by chunky chords and other times by U2 atmospheric rock. Solidly landing in the rock category, it rarely felt recycled, or typical, avoiding most Christian clichés and feeling genuine. Soaring at times, at other times it quieted to an intimate encounter between the individual and God, with the band simply providing the background music.

The audience loved it and the band loved the audience, frequently making jokes, pulling members on stage to do actions or sing with them. Their self-depreciating humor reached its pinnacle when they rocked out to Jock Jams on stage for their encore, dancing with unbridled idiocy to the solid 90’s beat.

The Christian music industry, specifically worship music, often catches flack for mediocrity, commercialism and lack of creativity. It is a beautiful thing to see a band of Irish musicians turn those assumptions on their head, sticking out like a blue tree in a forest of green.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Somebody pull the Brakes!

Somebody pull the brakes on this train called life! I am a slacker when it has come to the blog this New Year and for that I apologize. Here is a quick rundown of my life since the last post: 2.5 days in Dublin, Ireland, 6 days in Spain, back in Rome and running like crazy with ministry! The team that I go onto campus with has gotten reshuffled so now I am on a team of 7 (Gigundateam or The Magnificent Seven are possible team names) and have been crazy hectic busy planning and meeting with students/friends. I am training for the Rome Marathon on March 22 and I got lost yesterday running 11.5 miles and had to ask a prostitute for directions. First time I have ever been propositioned, which was kind of weird but she did give me the right directions. I have also joined a basketball team, which has been great for meeting more guys. Ok, I realize all this is summary and not my deepest or most profound thoughts, but my brain is so scattered right now I couldnt give you that. So here are some pictures instead... Starts in Spain, ends in Dublin (sorry, reverse order) Enjoy
This is where I spent a few hours with Jesus one of the days in Spain... and a few more later that night smoking a pipe and talking with good friends.
Squadra Rome + Team Istanbul = sweet prayer partner love
Make up your own caption for this one!
Dance party... and this is not what it looks like, I promise. But it is hilarious!
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome "Smooth Sam and the Fabulous Five!"
I get to go on dates with my girlfriend in Spain... my life is crazyAt the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
And a sweet door at the Alhambra... so intracate
I like the reflection

A beautiful girl overlooking the lovely city of Granada, Spain
He's happy, I'm happy, we are all happy!
The view out my window in Nerja, Spain: Our Creator is a true artist
They could dance... for real
So amazing I have to invent a word to describe it. Scrumtrulescent. Yes... tis true.
The dude on the flute (L) was amazing. The music was amazing. Loved the tradition Irish music. Loved it.

Went on a tour of the Guinness Storehouse; it was this guys birthday and he sang on the mic at the bar at the top of the Storehouse. It was sweet.
Click on this picture and look at the sign behind Jimmy

Pouring rain, gusting wind, and Guiness Lake in the background... beautiful

A beautiful old Monastary in the Irish hills
Have you seen the movie Once? These guys were playing on the same street a lot of that was filmed on.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

London Bridges and Skating Rinks

Yes, a picture update is easier (initially) than words. Hopefully I will throw up a few words here before the day is over, but this is my life since Christmas. I have already spent nights in 4 different cities, 2 countries, traveled by plain, train, tram, automobile, bus, taxi, car, metro... my life is crazy. It began by going to Florence on Dec. 30 to visit my buddy Drew and he had 4 guys from Caserta staying at his place. So I was basically the only one not fluent in Italian.
Can you find the American?
New Years was welcomed running through the streets of Florence... literally...
With these guys... Magdi and Bruno
I then left on Jan. 2 for England, for a Fireseeds Conference (Agape UK) with my buddy Danilo (pictured below), who is a student here at La Sapienza. It was a 3 day conference in Nottingham England and was full of good talks, challenges, British food, and time to reflect on the direction that life is taking us and how we can serve God best with our lives.

Bluetree, a fantastic band, played at Fireseeds. And they rocked out, praised Jesus, and had a good time. Oh yea, these are the guys who wrote the song God of this City. If you havent heard it, listen to it HERE. And their version is better than Chris Tomlins cover.
Two Brits, an Italian, an American and a Scotsman got together for some soccer. They called the magical team International Stew... and lost quite badly.
For all those Harry Potter fans out there... I couldnt resist.
English brews with Fish and Chips... I was a happy man.
Me, Danilo and Big Ben

This lion reminded me of Aslan... in Trafalgar Square.
Up in the London Eye
We met up with my buddy Giovanni the juggler and hung out in London with him... and had great Chinese food
We saw Les Mis (pictured below) and it was fantastic... truly fantastic
London Bridge was not falling down but this bus almost ran me over.
After our adventures in England, I returned back to Rome, to work, and to a weekend where my beautiful girlfriend came to visit. So we went ice skating and invited a bunch of friends to come along. Claudio joined in for the fun, as did about 8 other italian friends and 6 or so Americans.