Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Update and Prayer Requests

We had a wonderful time in Austria at the Missions Conference.  We always say how great and encouraging they are but this year had such a sense of refreshment and this call to go forward in whatever God is calling you in.  The messages and the fellowship were awesome!

We have been meeting at the park again this summer.  It’s been good and though no one new has joined us, it’s interesting how many people are hearing the Word and the worship.  There are some regular people who are there each Sunday reading their papers or utilizing the free WiFi that we continue to pray to join us.  Leno, the manager of the park is wonderful to us.  Last week he had music playing when we arrived and turned it off so it wouldn’t disturb our study time.  We keep praying he will get saved and trust the Lord that one of these days he will!! 

As you know we have been praying fervently for a permanent place for the church.  We haven’t had this since being in Padova.  It looks like we found the right place.  As we took time to pray, wanting to hurry but sensing the Lord telling us to wait patiently, we found a place smack in the middle where most of the University students are.  We prayed a lot about the location-in one sense we wanted a place that was family friendly.  But with our experience we have seen that tradition plays a huge role in the older generation and though they don’t even attend their traditional church, to come to a Protestant church is not something they are comfortable with.  We have had some couples start coming but we sense that God is leading us to go all out with the University students.  There are still families in the area and of course the park is right up the street so we will have plenty of opportunity for outreach.  The building has a small yard and also a terrace.  There is a room that we will be able to put a little kitchen area in also.  One of the things we want to do is to have women’s and men’s meetings each month or every other week-but with a meal.  There seems to be more of a turn out when we invite people to a bible study with a meal.  Perhaps it sounds less threatening to them.  Either that or they want to find out if Americans can cook Smile  We are also praying about having a weekly Thursday Taco Night....something like that for the students –as a way to get them familiar with us.  All the things we have in mind are up to the Lord and we want to hear from Him what He would have us do.  It would be nice to say that we can just meet people on the street, share the Gospel with they show up for church-we still pray that to happen but so far it hasn’t so we are seeking the Lord as to ways we can reach out to our community.  Please pray also for laborers.  We would really love to have some young people come alongside us as we reach the college students.  The ability to lead worship is an added plus. 
We have seen the difference it has made with the other CC churches here and pray that God would put it on some hearts to come to Padova to help for a season.

In a couple weeks I (Margie) will be flying to CA.  I am so excited since I haven’t been for over 2 yrs. now.  I am looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible!  I do have need to borrow a car while I am there so if anyone has one available please let me know.  I have one to use for 2 weeks mid Oct so beginning and end of Oct is needed as is a couple weeks in November.   Please email or private message me via facebook if you can help me out with a vehicle.  I promise not to drive like we do here in Italy!

Next weekend we head to Munich, Germany.  Jim’s been asked to lead the worship for their church conference so we will be driving there Fri-Sun.  After a 6 hr drive home next Sunday, I need to catch a 6:45am flight on Monday so please keep all that travel in prayer for us please.  I have MRI’s, dr appts and a girl’s discipleship class to teach next week too so it’s going to be a busy week.  Thankfully Marla is taking the week off to come and help out.

We appreciate your prayers so much.  So many of you stand in the gap for us and the ministry here in Padova.  It has been a long, difficult few years but God has always told us that we are to continue on in the work here,  keep pressing on, and so we have obeyed even when we had no more tears left and thought of every reason to move on from here.  And now, He has renewed our hearts, given us fresh vision and an excitement of things to come. 

Please pray also for Franco and Rosa.  They are both new Christians and on fire.  They are a little older than we are and have been such a big help.  Also pray for Michelle and Gianni-they live about an hour away and it’s expensive for them to come since they are on a pension but they are such a sweet part of the fellowship.  Joseph is from Nigeria.  He is looking for work and I tell you-he tries so hard every day to find work.   Please pray that God will open something up for him.  He is a real neat guy.  Pray for those we meet and share God’s Word with, but they haven’t made the decision for Christ yet. 

So looking forward to talking to you in person!!  Thank you for your prayers, your love and financial support.  We are all in this together!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

102 Minutes

Yes, I am alive, no I haven't written here in a long time!  Now that that's out of the way....

(Disclosure-I am not good at Math lol.  I thought I calculated correctly between the first plane attack and the last and came up with 81 minutes.  I decided to Google it and CNN states it was 102 minutes)

On September 11th, I went into town to the 9/11 Memorial we have here in Padova.  I went to pray, to reflect and catch a glimpse of what others were doing on that day.  As the train schedule would have it, I was at the site at the exact times the World Trade Center was hit.  Two wreaths were beautifully placed at the memorial.  One with a ribbon from the City of Padova, the other from the Vincenza Army Base.

I arrived solemn, tears for the victims and their families, and anger as I looked at the piece of structure from the site that was hoisted at the Memorial.  Evil.  Evil had struck and taken the lives of thousands of people.  Evil showed its ugly face that day.

Around me were a group of high school boys walking down the ramp and around the back of the Memorial to sit and smoke their cigarettes.  One couple touring Padova walked down to take photos.  Two gals who were obviously a couple, giggling loudly as they shared their time together.  That was it.  It would appear to have been any other day.

While at home, I watched some footage from the actual morning of Sept. 11, 2001.  It was interesting to hear the TV hosts speak about what a gorgeous day it was that September morning.  One weatherman even commented on how it was a quiet day, nothing much happening in the country.

People on their way to work, Moms getting their children out the door and into school, people running to chase their bus, their train.  Others off to a late start and upset that they are going to be late to work.  Passengers on airplanes looking forward to seeing loved ones once they reach their destination.  Lovers kissing each other goodbye with the assurance they will see one another later that evening.

And then, something happened that would change the lives of so many forever.  Something so unexpected and shocking.  A catastrophe that would alter our world as we know it.

102 minutes that would be used to kill, rob and destroy. 102 minutes that the world would stare at in unbelief. 102 minutes that we thought would never end.  102 minutes of unknown, fear and tragedy. 102 minutes that would live on in the memory of all of us for the rest of our lives.

After awhile, I walked around our city, watching people scurry about to their destinations, stopping for coffee, going in and out of various shops looking to buy the latest fashion. All seemed normal, typical, nothing earth shattering was going on around us.

Naturally my thoughts turned to the Rapture.  The day when Jesus will return for His church and take those that are His with Him.  It's going to be a day just like the September 11, 2001 and just like September 11, 2014.  A day that seems like any other day.  A day where for many there is no forethought that something life altering may occur.  A day where people will be eating and drinking, making plans for the weekend, picking out the perfect blouse...........and then...............something happens.  A trumpet will sound.  Will everyone hear it?  I don't really know.

The news media went on for days, weeks, even months about the 102 minutes on that September day.  They brought in all kinds of analysts, experts, and anyone else willing to discuss the hows and the whys of that day.  Everyone had their own opinions and thoughts.  Questions asked about how to prepare for such a tragedy, how do you move on, and of did we not know?

I can only imagine the day of the Rapture.  The news media sitting around their desks, trying to bring in as many 'experts' as they can find to try to explain the phenomenon of what occurred.

The saddest is going to be those that do know what happened.  Those that were warned and yet didn't heed the warning.  Those who had friends or loved ones that told them beforehand about this day and yet for whatever reason, they chose not to believe it.  Those that mocked their friends when they shared Christ's love with them and told them how they, too, could take part.  Those who thought they had more time and put off this important decision.  Those who thought they were guaranteed tomorrow.

We are not guaranteed tomorrow my friends.  We know the saying that every day is a gift from God. Today is the day of salvation!  Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

Jesus said "I am the Way, the Truth and the Light."  There is no other, there is no other way.  Each of us has to make a decision as to whether or not we believe this.  And how we respond to this truth will effect our lives for eternity.   It's a choice we all have to make.

As I mentioned earlier, I entered the Memorial sad and in a solemn mood.  After awhile, everyone left the area and it was just me and the Lord.  I walked over where the wreaths were and prayed a little more.  And then, I found myself looking at that piece of steel and thought how mighty our God is.  There is nothing impossible for Him.  He is Alpha.  He is Omega.  He is stronger than anything that evil might throw our way.  He will stomp the enemy and all its evil under His mighty foot.  Soon, I started to sing aloud, (not too loud mind you) the song by Janny Grein-We've Been Made More Than Conquerors.  We do not have to fear evil, we don't need to worry about the future.  As someone put it--we know the end of the Book.  Do you?

Sunday, January 5, 2014


This morning at church Jim was teaching from Matthew 25 and the parable of the talents.  We have been studying different parables since last summer and it's been great.  One of the advantages that we have of being a small church is being able to have discussions about what we are studying.  I personally have learned a lot through the parables lately and there is always such good application.  It's also been good just as a check seeing where my heart is and the attitude of my heart.  I don't think we ever reach that point of being content with where we are spiritually-there is always room to be taught, to learn and to grow.

Today, Jim used an example about chapters in life.  He didn't get into it, but for some reason it really stood out to me.  Chapters.  We know the term and we use it so often in describing many things-where we are in life, where we were, and where we may be in the future.

I thought about books.  Obviously we would think that when the word 'chapter' is being used.  I thought how the chapters of books so often parallel lives.  We tend to divide our lives into sections.  For some, there are the chapters of being single, a new chapter for when we are married, have children and then there are even chapters reserved for the future-perhaps retirement or a new adventure that we know is coming.  For Christians, we often hear people categorize their lives as a chapter or chapters before they came to know the Lord.  That was one chapter, then new chapters arise as they walk with the Lord, follow after Him and journey along the road where He leads them.

Think about an adventurous novel.  Think how when you read a book it is usually exciting at first-especially if you are fond of the author.  You grab a cup of tea, a warm blanket and find your little nook on the couch or snuggle up in your favorite chair and get ready to escape into the tales that await you.  (can you tell it's winter and cold here) You get excited because the scene is being set.  The characters are being named and identified.  Usually within the first few chapters we meet each of the characters and know the role they will have throughout the book.  We figure out how this person is connected with that person, what the purpose is in the main character heading out for some kind of adventure.  Enthusiasm builds and we find ourselves unable to put the book down because so much is going on and we don't want to be left hanging and wondering what is going to happen next.

More often then not, what happens next?  Well, I venture to say that many times we get to the middle of a novel.  We get to that section that is not thrilling to read.  It seems boring, we wonder why the author wasted time even putting all those sorted details in there.  Perhaps we think it was just to make the book a little bigger -we cannot see the importance of the middle portion of the book.  All these silly details of someone going to a shop, doing the ordinary, nothing that seems to have to do with much of anything.  Surely we think the author could have just skipped all that and just got to the end.

How many of  you have become bored reading a book once you get to the middle of it?  It's hard to keep your attention and you may even be tempted to skip over a few chapters in hopes to get back to the exciting parts.  And then........finally.......finally the author starts to get your attention again.  Things start happening, some surprises, some things that we sort of expected or hoped to happen we just didn't know how it was going to work itself out.  And what happens from this point forward is all leading up to the end-the final chapters.

So today I thought about life.  I thought about just like a book, our lives can be categorized into chapters.  We have the beginning chapters, middle and then of course the ending chapters.   But, I thought about ministry too.  I thought about how just like in life, we have chapters in our ministries whatever they may be.  For some, like Jim and me, our ministry is overseas.  We had the beginning chapters.  The newness of it all where we were so excited to start writing the story of what God was doing and how He was using us.  The things the Lord was teaching us as we embarked on this new chapter of our lives.  It was exciting too because others were just as excited.  Something new!  Excitement often times begets excitement.  We all have been in situations where exciting news is shared and we want to be able to share and talk about it also.

But what happens later on?  It's kind of like a book-you have the 'normalcy' of life.  The chapters of the ministry where it is slow, mundane, seemingly day after day the 'filler' pages.  The pages that aren't so interesting for others to read about.  The excitement others once had for you has now been replaced with something else, something newer.  You feel as though the chapters of your book are not important to anyone any more and they just lay aside the 'book' for another time.  Just as people get bored with reading a book when they get to the middle, they can get bored with people or ministries when it doesn't seem like anything exciting is taking place.

Yet, we know that just like with most books, there is a purpose for the 'middle chapters'  There is a reason, albeit sometimes only known to the author, for those middle pages.  There is a story to be told, there is a connection between the first chapters and the last chapters.  We may not see it, but that doesn't mean it isn't there.  There has to be a beginning, a middle and and end.

Even our bibles have the same set-up.  There is a beginning....Genesis.  There is an end....Revelation.  Yet, between those 'chapters' is so much more.  Can you imagine if the Holy Spirit didn't inspire all the rest of the bible?  All the lives and lessons we would miss out on because there weren't those 'middle' pages in between Creation and Christ coming again.  Would it have been enough?  Well, I suppose since it is God's Word it would have been enough-but we wouldn't have all those amazing verses underlined to help us through each day.  We wouldn't have the record of those whose lives we can so relate to to remind us of our loving and forgiving Savior.

I feel like we need to be reminded not to get bored with things, with people, with ministries.  We live in a world that moves so quickly.  I tell you I cannot even watch tv when I am home because it just moves so quickly that I cannot understand what is happening.  My brain doesn't process things that fast anymore!   Society wants to tell us to just get rid of the old and bring in the new.  Think about the phone system in the US-oh you have had your phone for 2 yrs already-that is way too long, you MUST get a new one!

So, what's the point of all this?  Well, I suppose it is that we try hard not to get bored with our ministries, with other people's ministries, with our friends, with life in general.  Change is good and we all need it when the time is right.  But, there is something to be said for steadfastness.  There is something to be said for faithfulness.  All of us are going to experience 'the middle chapters' in life.  We will experience them in our personal lives, in our jobs, in our ministries, in whatever things we are involved in.  I don't think any of us want to go through them alone.  None of us wants people to get bored with us and set us aside just because we may not be as exciting as we once were.  Let's all be willing to cheer one another on through the middle chapters.  Let's all be those who don't give up on whatever we are called to do just because the middle pages seem redundant and boring.

There is a new chapter coming for each of us.  God is the author of our lives and just as He planned a beginning, and the years in between, He is planning the final chapters.  We all know as His children that it is going to be a glorious chapter.  Sometimes I get so excited about the end that I want to forego the middle stuff and just get right to the chapter where I am home with my Jesus.  But, he wants us to know that even though we don't understand the middle chapters, they are there for a reason.  He has a purpose and a plan.  He has given us His Word that all things will work together for good-and that means even the ho-hum chapters we think we could do without.   Don't be in a hurry to skip chapters to get to the end.  I think in the end we will often times see that those middle chapters were the ones used to form us into the people God wants us to be :)