Thursday, December 31, 2015

Saying Goodbye to 2015

Dear Friends and Loved Ones,

As 2015 comes to an end we would like to say thank you to all of  you who have stood beside us in the past year.  2015 brought us the joy of having a church building for the first time in our seven years here in Padova.  With that, we have been able to host events, English movie nights, Teas, meals, English get-togethers, and of course our church services.

We were blessed with a couple of new students, Emily, from England and Jessie from Germany.  They are both here studying at Padova University.  They have been inviting their fellow students to different events and it’s been a joy having them with us.  The timing was perfect too as Marla’s contract ended in October with the family she was working for in Milano.  She is now back in Padova with us and it is just like the Lord to bring along some gals close to her own age to hang out with.

We also have a few people stationed in Vicenza who have joined the fellowship.  They are such an encouragement and so much fun to have around.  Jim really enjoys his ‘war talks’ with Anton and Tim and it’s nice to see God bring us some seasoned Christian men.

We look forward in the coming year to more outreach with the university students and the people of Padova in general.  One thing we are blessed by is seeing God bring a couple of new people who have also been inviting their friends to come to church.  Do they stay or come back an other time?  To be honest, no, most don’t.  But they have heard the Gospel now and that is what our calling is.  We pray that they would return and the Lord would soften their hearts, but as we have learned in the past, it’s our work to give the message, we can’t force them to accept it.

There are some needs we have-one that is something we have been praying for and asking pray for for many years and that is for a team to join us.  Even if were a couple of people who could lead worship, lead a bible study and have a heart for the unsaved.   We need those who are motivated to go out and hit the streets, led by the Holy Spirit to talk to people, get to know them and share the Lord with them.  The land needs to be plowed and we find there are not many interested in plowing the fields any more.  We do our best in our small fellowship to reach out and invite, but we are few and we know the Lord loves the people here in Padova and we want to see more and more get saved. 

 Our friend Ed from Santa Barbara playing keys for Sunday service
 Marla and Jessie
Giving Thanks

Jim’s right hand man Franco has been such a blessing throughout the year.  He has taught the bible studies when Jim is not there and he and his wife Rosa are our evangelists.  They are always praying and inviting those they know to come and hear about Jesus.  They pray always that God would break the chains of so many of the people here.  They themselves have only been saved about 2 years and they know what it is like to be stuck in your traditions and unable to believe in the finished work on the cross.  Please pray for them to continuously be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit as they share the love of  Christ to those they come in contact with.

Jim is finishing up Romans in the next month and will begin teaching the Parables of Jesus on Sunday mornings. We are excited about this study and the practical teaching and application of each of the parables.  Some who have come to visit actually asked Jim if he would teach some of the ‘stories’.  After praying and seeking the Lord,  we will take a break from verse by verse for a time to see how the Lord teaches us through His parables.  

Jim is looking forward to the Pastor’s conference in Austria later in January.  He will bring Franco again this year and perhaps if the schedules work out, some of the other guys from Padova.  We are also praying that perhaps early summer or Fall of 2016 to have a weekend church retreat at the Castle.   

We thank you for all of your prayers, your encouragement and support in the past year.  We know that we are just a speck in the big picture, but nonetheless, where two or more are gathered, God is in their midst.  God has given us a tremendous amount of love for the people of Padova and though there have been times of discouragement and even despair at times throughout the past year, we have been overjoyed at every work of the Holy Spirit, though small to some, an answer to prayer for us. 

We ask for your continued prayers for CC Padova, for our fellowship and the people in our city.  Sometimes I am sitting on the train or just walking around and I look at the faces of the hundreds of people around  me and weep inside because though they may look good on the outside, inside there is emptiness-a life without Jesus Christ.   Please pray for an outpouring of the Spirit in our lives so that we can communicate His Truth with the people here.

On the personal side, I need prayer for my health.  It hasn’t been very good as far as my back is concerned-I have for the moment decided not to have the disc surgery.  I researched a lot about it and the results seem to be 50-50.  Those are with healthy people and being that I have pretty bad osteoporosis, the odds of me being able to grow strong bone is not in my favor.  I have peace about it even though the pain can be crippling at times, but I sense the Lord guiding me to this decision-at least for the time being.   They also discovered I  have a lot of gallstones in me.  How, I have no clue but I will have more blood work done in the next week and who knows what after that.  I think they have to come out but again, I am not sure what the doctor will do.

Many of you know that my brother was diagnosed with cancer a couple of months ago.  He is set to have surgery January 15 and I was so blessed to get a ticket to go to CA to be with him and my family during this time.  The prognosis is very promising which is, I believe, an answer to all who were praying for him.   God is a God of miracles and we continue to put our trust in Him for a complete healing.  Steven will have to have some reconstructive surgery on his face simultaneously as the one surgeon is extracting the cancer.  It’s amazing what they can do these days.  I will actually miss the surgery by a couple of days because they moved it up after  I had already purchased my ticket.  Thankfully I will still be there to help out in any way I can.  Looking forward to saying hello to as many of you as time permits!


Our vision for CC Padova in 2016
To strengthen those who are already in the fellowship, to equip them to do the work of the ministry and see them use the gifts God has given them not only in the church but in the community.

That we as a fellowship would be united in the things of the Lord, attentive to the voice of the Spirit, overflowing in our love for one another and sharing that love with others.

To reach out to our community through God’s Word, music, meals and other events with the love and truth of the Gospel. 

To be a place of refuge for those without hope, those looking for answers and those who have nowhere to turn.

Our prayer requests as we enter 2016

Laborers…Pray the Lord of the harvest that He would send workers-young and not so young-those willing to plough the field.

Wisdom in decision making, fresh filling of the Spirit.  Walking in step with the leading of the Lord and seeking His direction and guidance in our outreaches and various ministries.

For the marriages in our fellowship-that we would yield our wills,  have grace and unconditional love for one another.  To encourage an build up each other.

Continued financial provision to enable us to do the things we do in the church and also to enable us to have more outreach events.

Teams from different places to come over for short-term mission trips and help evangelize our city.

Our health, perhaps if anyone knows of a dentist in CA who would donate his/her time to do extensive dentist work on our teeth.

To trust God for the future and not to be afraid.

Jim’s prayer for us as a church -
“My prayer for Calvary Chapel Padova is that each of us knows, teaches and demonstrates the love and truth of the Word of God to our community. I pray that we would reach out to others in accordance to God's Word in love, grace and mercy."

Again, we thank you so very much for your commitment to stand in the gap with us. Without you we would not be able to continue the work that God has sent us to do.  I believe in Heaven you will see, that we could not put in pictures or words, the effect your perseverance had on the lives of many.
May the Lord bless you in the coming year and fill your lives with His grace, mercy and love.

Much love 
Jim and Margie

For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. Philemon 1:7

If you would like to be a part of supporting us financially there are a couple ways you can do so:

Send a check to with a memo stating it's for Jim Stewart CC Padova to:
Calvary Chapel Vista
885 E Vista Way
Vista, CA 92084

OR you can give via online donations at either of the two websites.  Just be sure to scroll to designate for Missions/Jim Stewart
Go to 


All donations are tax deductible

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

12 Songs Of Christmas -An Interlude

Well, I didn't get to the blog as often as I wanted to finish out the series but my daughter and friend Tracey encouraged me to keep going even though it's after Christmas.

We had a lovely Christmas with a couple of friends spending the night and even an entire day afterwards where absolutely nothing was done except curl up on couches and chairs in our pj's, wrapped in duvets, watching back to back episodes of Masterchef Junior, followed by the Downton Abbey Christmas special.  (Living in Europe has its perks every now and then).  We pulled out leftovers, pie, and cups of tea to keep us warm.  Jim didn't find that entertaining so he stayed in the other room playing guitar and catching up on the news.

Following the laziness, I mean restfulness, I had lots of stored up energy yesterday and got to work around the house.  First up was spraying one bedroom with bleach due to's a HUGE problem here in Italy which everyone just seems to take in stride....then onto the kitchen.  Not just washing the dishes, including the ones hidden in the oven for a later day, but stovetop, counters, whatever was in need of washing got washed.  Then onto the floor.  Now, mind you, sweeping the kitchen floor is normally a daily thing but yesterday was intense....throwing the rugs outside, moving all the trashcans (we have 4 since you to recycle here) rugs, etc...and then having the amount of energy I did, I decided not just to mop but to get down on hands and knees and scrub.......well,,,,that was my mistake.  While scrubbing underneath the island I felt something or some things move about inside my stomache.  I screamed so loudly even Jim heard me with his earphones on!

Something, somewhere, spun around inside as if part of my insides were coming out.  It felt like parts of me were twisting about trying to do gymnastics inside.  It was that all too familiar pain of ribs cracking or breaking or moving or whatever in the world they do.  Ouch!!  So, with that, Jim ordered me not to clean anymore.  (at least until next week lol) and I spent the rest of the day on the couch inside a blanket drinking tea and eating panettone.  Wednesday I will probably head out to the ER and get an x-ray.  We figure it is easier and quicker to do that than go to the doctor and wait a couple hours for him to write a paper for me to make an appointment to get an x-ray and see what exactly happened.

Fortunately, the pain is not as bad as in the past.  If I move a certain way you or try to lift something, the pain is horrendous but thankfully it's not as bad as it could be.  I have had some strange bump on that side of my rib for the past year and the doctor has yet to give me the paper to get an x-ray so maybe this is a good thing after all.  At least we may find out what the bump is :)

So, hopefully tomorrow I will be back on track and write about the next song.  I am thankful for my daughter and friend who encouraged me not to give up.  It's so important that we have people in our lives to whisper in our ear to press on no matter what we feel like.  I love the picture of running a race and having people on the sidelines cheering us on.  I used to run track in high school and it was always inspirational to hear your friends cheer you on throughout the race.  I also remember one of the key lessons my coach taught us-never look back!  Keep your eyes on the finish line, always look at what is ahead of you.

My friend, if there is something you have purposed in your heart to do but lost your motivation, maybe people didn't respond as you had hoped, perhaps you are tired or you have been injured and don't have the energy to finish what you started....please don't give up.  Take up your pen, your guitar, your voice, time,  the bible study you used to attend, whatever it may be that you put down for whatever reason and put it to use once again.  Don't let discouragement keep you from enjoying your race.  Confide in a friend and ask them to be your cheerleader if you need one.  Most of all, recommit whatever it is you have stopped doing to the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to help you finish what you started.  Also, look around and see who you can encourage to keep going.   Be the friend that someone needs you to be but perhaps is too afraid to ask for.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.  We don't need to be these mighty women who think that asking for help is a sign of weakness.  It's not.  It just means we realize we cannot run this race alone and quite frankly, we aren't meant to run it alone.  Runners may run alone, but they are often part of a team. They have a coach to train them and bring out their potential and they have team-mates to root for them along the way.

Let's ask the Lord to show us those around us who need cheering on, to help those who are ready to quit the race, to encourage those who may not feel they are part of the team and then to also be those who aren't afraid to ask a team-mate to run alongside of us, reminding us that we are in this together and we can do this!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

12 Songs Of Christmas Day 5

Sometimes you just go through rough patches.  Things beyond your control.  In the midst of the glee and laughter of the season comes those times of sadness, even heartache.  I know so many friends that are going through a really rough season right now.  Whether it is financial, health or knowing they are far away from family at Christmas, whatever it is, they are aching inside.  Some are wondering what is in store for them in the coming year, others are joyfully and sacrificially giving out to others even though they have very little to give to their own family.

I think it is even harder as a Christian when you go through these difficult times because we tend to start to feel guilty for feelings and emotions that arise.  On one hand, we know that it rains on the just and unjust yet we are to have faith.  Faith that God will see us through whatever we are going through.  We are reminded that God takes care of the birds of the air and all the more will He meet our every need, and many times our wants.  But there are those moments when we find ourselves lacking faith and then feel like we blew it because we 'went there'.  We went to that place in our minds that asks all the questions....why, what if, how come now, etc.

With that, I listened to a new song today and decided to use this one rather than one from my list.
It is by Chris Tomlin and the song is Adore.  You can listen to it here:

I love that about the Lord.  He knows His children so well.  He knows what each of us needs to hear and is ever so faithful to whisper to our hearts-'do this, read that, call her, and so on.  That still small voice that is our God.  That loving and gracious Father who doesn't chastise us when we have those moments-rather He tenderly grasps our chin and lifts our head so that we can focus on what is rather than succumb to despair, guilt and shame.

I love worship music and how it lifts my soul.  It takes me from where I may be in my current state of mind and puts my focus back on the Lord.  That is why I like this song so much.  Adore Him.

Tune out everything else that is occupying your mind right now.  Listen to this song and adore your Savior.  Your circumstance may not change, but your focus will no longer be or those things occupying your mind.  Your heart will be full because you have taken time out to adore the One who adores you so very much.  Go to your room, a quiet place if possible and just play the song (repeat if necessary :)  )  I put it on auto replay!

I made this printable to go with today's song (yesterday's also) so just click on them if you want to save and print out to put in a frame.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

12 Songs Of Christmas Day 4

Such a busy day but I wanted to be faithful to this series and put up a post.  Today's song is another one of my favorites.  It is scripture and that put to song is always going to be inspiring and uplifting to our souls.  I have taught on this portion of scripture at a couple of Christmas Teas and each time I am challenged to get back to basics-being reminded what it is to serve the Lord and that everything is about Him and the things I do should be done as unto Him.

"An audience of One" is a phrase I read in Gail MacDonald's book High Call High Privilege.  It's a wonderful book about the call of being a pastor's wife.  In one of the chapters she shares about doing what we do as unto the Lord, pleasing Him and not looking for the praise and adoration from man, being faithful and obedient in whatever we are called to do.

In Luke's Gospel, we ready of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  We catch a small glimpse into her life and though not much is written about her, we are able to glean volumes from her life.

Today's song comes from Luke 1:46-55, known as The Magnicat.  Click below to hear this beautiful song:

I am so intrigued by Mary's life-her simplicity and her obedience. She faced fear of the unknown and probably had many questions about what was to be. Yet, she chose to obey God and to trust Him. She didn't need the story laid out before her and know every detail before she said yes-'behold the maidservant of the Lord, let it be according to Your Word'. Wow, what a response! It caused me to think about how I respond to things when God calls me to do something. Most times, I want to analyze like most of us women do. We tend to want to think it over, weigh the pros and cons, are there benefits, and wondering what the cost might be.

After meditating on these verses in Luke 1:46-55 (the Magnificat) you can really see Mary's heart. How much she loved the Lord, how well she knew her God. It showed me that that is what it comes down to in our lives, at least in my life. How well do I know Him, and how much do I really trust Him. Do I trust Him so much that I can abandon everything to Him, to believe without wavering that He will be faithful, that He will indeed work out every detail of the plan as I leave it to Him to do so. She praised the Lord in these verses from her heart, not just with her lips. Her worship wasn't based on how she felt at the time, or her circumstances. It was true worship from deep within her soul.

Another thing that really stuck with me in studying her life was what didn't happen. Here was Mary, soon to be married to Joseph. One might think that from this point on they would live spectacular lives, perhaps go on tour and share what it was like to 'carry the Son of God, write books, do promotions, etc.  . After all, they would be the earthly parents of the Messiah.

Mary and Joseph didn't become wealthy materialistically. Joseph didn't have the biggest carpentry business in town or business cards made up with a fish on them and try to gain from the call on their life. Nothing was about them. They didn't seek to profit nor did they expect that God would suddenly make their lives easier. There weren't some rich guys in the synagogue running over to build them a house or offer them all kinds of neat things because Jesus was living with them.

It made me think about life as a Christian. Life as a servant of God.  We can think that if we do what we ought, then God will be well pleased with us and He will make life a bit easier, He will suddenly change our financial status, our social status, and other things. I tend to fall in this rut at times. Thinking ok Lord, I am doing this and I know You are in it, I know You called me to this, and so everything is going to work out so well. I realized that this type of thinking can easily lead to bitterness. Bitterness towards the Lord because we had expected something more than He had promised. Bitterness because you said yes and you are struggling in your life and someone else said no and seems to be living the life of Reilly (who's Reilly anyway???)

We need to protect our hearts and minds from thinking that God owes us something just because we obeyed the call. When these thoughts come to mind, I need to run to my Bible and read the accounts of those who said 'yes' and see how easy and pain free their lives were (being sarcastic here) while on this earth.
Mary's obedience cost her much! She would watch her Son be beaten and hung on a cross to die. She would endure listening to the loud, scruffy voices of the soldiers hurling insults at the Son she once cradled in her arms. She would hear a crowd of voices yelling out to crucify the little boy she watched grow into a Man.  No, Mary's life was in no way easy just because she was obedient.

I read this quote from Charles Spurgeon:
"Oh how we ought to rejoice in Him, whatever our union with Him may cost us. Mary did not know what that wondrous visitation would cost her-and it was to cost her much, as Simeon said to her-"Yes, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also," But even though the sword must go through her soul, it mattered not to her, for unto her a Child was to be born, unto her a Son was to be given, who was to be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Might God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."

Oh to live this life with total abandonment to Christ.  To say 'yes, Lord and not worry about things to come, to not live in fear of the future.. Surrendering ourselves to Him without hesitation, to trust Him, to believe that yes, my God has everything under control. And then, not to just accept what He has for me-but to praise Him!  I realized how easy it is to get to that point of acceptance of His will but fail to get to the point of praise.

We do have reason to exalt His Name, to rejoice in our Savior! No matter what the circumstances of our lives are, no matter what or where He calls us to, we can magnify His Name!

How do you respond when the Lord asks the seemingly impossible of you?  I pray for all of us that as we know and trust Him more and more we can respond in praise as Mary did.  We can magnify the Lord rather than magnify what we deem impossible.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

12 Songs Of Christmas Songs Day 3

Today's song is one many are probably not familiar with.  As I look through my Christmas playlist I have a gazillion versions of many of the same songs that have been sung throughout the ages.  As much as I enjoy them and have my favorite versions of the classics, I do appreciate it when someone comes up with a new Christmas song that evokes the spirit of Christmas.

This song makes me think, it makes me wonder, and it often leaves me more in awe of Jesus after listening to it.  The words stir up within me so many different thoughts and makes me glad that someone else thinks the same way as I do.

I love Jesus and everything about Him.  I love that He is the Word and He dwelt among us-He walked and talked with the common person, the sick, the outcast.  I love that he hated hypocrisy and wasn't afraid to call people out when they were prideful and looking their noses down at others.  I love that He was so powerful, so holy, so magnificent and yet He took time to wash the dirty feet of others.  His wondrous love that hung upon a cross so that we would be set free and have the opportunity to live with Him in Eternity.  I absolutely love that He calls us, you and me, the simpletons of this world, His friends.

John writes at the end of his Gospel, in chapter 21, that if everything Jesus did during His time on earth was written down, the world couldn't contain the books they were written in.  How amazing is that!  We get but a glimpse into the life of Jesus.  I wonder in Heaven if we will hear from all the people whose lives He touched.  Those He healed, spoke a Word to that changed their life.  Some He may have only gazed at and it was enough to pierce their very heart.

The song for today is by Todd Agnew.  It is titled 'Did You Know?'  It is written sort of as a dialogue between a person and Jesus.  It's almost as if someone went inside my head and wrote out some of questions in my mind and put them to song.  You can listen to it here: (the lyrics are there too)

Have you ever wanted to ask Jesus questions?  I don't mean the why's of events in our lives.  That's a given-we all have things we don't understand and wish He could explain why we go through what we go through.  But, I mean questions about Him and when He was a child.  Do you try to imagine His household as He grew up?  His brothers and sisters and what it must have been like living with the Son of God as your brother???  Wow, I cannot imagine it!

Did He know when He was a baby that He was still God?

Did He go through the 'terrible two's or was He a perfect child?

Did He call Joseph 'Dad'?

Did Joseph have to correct Him when He was young?  Did He ever roll His eyes at His parents like most children do?

How did He interact with His brothers and sisters-knowing they didn't believe who He was until much later?

Did He ever frustrate His parents as kids sometimes do and if so, did Mary and Joseph feel like the could correct Him?

Was He Mary's favorite?  Did the others pick up on that?

When Joseph taught Him the scriptures as a child did He already know them?  And was Joseph nervous that he was teaching Jesus the Word of God?

Ah, so many questions fill my mind as I think of Jesus coming to this earth.  Do these questions matter in the long run?  No, obviously not, but I still think of them-especially in December as we prepare our homes and especially our hearts to celebrate the birth of our Jesus, our King.

Do you ever wonder about Jesus and His growing up years?  Does your mind sometimes work like mine where you think of Him as a child and doing the things children do?  Are you curious if He had buddies in the neighborhood that He might have played baseball or football with (lol...I know they didn't have those games back then) but still, the kids must have played some kind of games.  Was He the best player on the team?  Did He discourage the boys who would say bad things against the girls? Did he run to Mary with tears streaming down His face when someone roughed Him up in a game or maybe even picked on Him?

I wonder just as in this song-since Joseph was a carpenter and we know he taught Jesus how to build things out of wood-did Jesus know as He was handling the nails that they would one day pierce His hands and feet?

When He shaped the wood as a young boy did an image of a cross with His body upon it cause a sudden shrill to flow through His being?

The glorious wonder of our Jesus.  God Incarnate-God who became flesh-who left Heaven to come down to earth for you and me.  We hear and read so many accounts of His power and greatness and yet He came as a baby.  Fully God and fully man.  Wow, just wow!  How I love Him so!  How thankful I am that Jesus is our Savior and that He came to this earth because of His great love for us.
God's gift to us all, wrapped in love.

I would love for you to share your thoughts :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

12 Songs Of Christmas Day 2

Today's choice of songs has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl.  I remember sitting in the living room with my family watching one of the many Christmas specials that came on TV in December.  Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, and many other classics were always fun to look forward to each year but there was one show in particular that always got to me.  I was mesmerized by the storyline and used to think about it so often.  I marveled that there was a little boy who was able to approach Jesus.  How much courage it must have taken him to walk over to gathering and in his little squeaky voice ask if he might join them.  My mind would race and wonder how this could be and what a special boy he must be.  I would try to imagine what it was like for him-all little and probably scared but he was also so brave.  Yes, it is a fictional story with a little boy but sometimes that is all it takes to rouse one's curiosity and being so fascinated that you want to know more.  

If you haven't guessed it yet, well, here is today's song choice.......drum roll....get it :)
The Little Drummer Boy!!

Here is Pentatonix's version of the song:

In the midst of the 20 or so 'pa rum pa pum pum's there is that very first word in the song...'Come'. Only four letters and not even the most used word in the song but it speaks volumes (at least to me it does).  This little lad is given an invitation to come. Come and see!  Isn't that marvelous!

Who doesn't enjoy being invited somewhere?  Ok, I will admit that at certain times of year it may be overwhelming to receive invite after invite requesting your presence at an event.  In December, calendars and planners are filled with school events to attend, cookie exchanges, teas and socials and let's just get together and enjoy some eggnog together {I can't stand eggnog so if you invite me for that I will have to decline ;)}.  But what about when that one invite comes in the mail and you see the return address and can't wait to rip open the envelope and read each and every detail.  You were invited to the 'it' party or THE main social event of the season that everyone would give their right arm to attend.  You start to scream, jump up and down with excitement, call the hairdresser for an appointment closest to the time of the event and rummage through your closet to find the perfect outfit.  

Do you know that you have already received the MOST amazing invitation to 'Come and see'?  In John 1:39 Jesus invites the first two disciples to 'come and see'.  

In John 1:45-46  Phillip is telling Nathaniel that they found Jesus, Nathaniel is skeptical so Phillip invites him to 'come and see for yourself'.  
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

My friends, this is the best invitation you could ever receive.  To come to Jesus!  Wherever you are in life, whatever burdens you may be carrying, whatever your past or even your present situation consists of-you are invited to come and see!!  See for yourself who Jesus is. Don't let media or anything, anyone dissuade you.  Don't make your opinions based on whatever negativity you may have heard from somewhere else....Just as Phillip said to Nathaniel-'come see for yourself'.   How else will you know if you don't see for yourself?!

Imagine receiving an invitation to come and see the Prince and Princess get married or perhaps and invitation to come and see their new born baby.  Oh my gosh, the excitement would surpass all you can think of.  And then, those thrilling moments quickly pass because now you have to think of the perfect gift that is befitting royalty.  Your excitement quickly dulls as you start to realize that there is nothing you can think of that would be good enough to bring this little prince or princess.

Ah, but here in this song, we see this young lad being invited to come-come and see this new born King.  Only a child himself, he wonders what could he possibly give that would honor the King that he was invited to see.  He has his drum and asks to use it to play a song for this new born babe.  And yes, it is a made up song but I really do love how it says 'He smiled at me'.  You know, we don't all have elaborate gifts that we can wrap up in the finest gift wrap and present to royalty.  We don't all have bank accounts that exceed double or triple digits. Not all of us can sing on key, some of us may get physically ill at the thought of speaking before a crowd,  or our culinary skills may only include boiling water without it spilling over.

Guess what?!  That's ok!!!  Yes, it is ok!  You don't need to be Ina or Martha!  Each of us has been given some type of gift and when we use it for the Lord I believe it makes Him smile.  He is well pleased to see us use whatever we have for his glory.  So again, don't decline an invitation to come just because you don't feel you have anything of worth or value to offer.  You do!

There is a Parable in the bible found in Luke 14:15-24  It is a parable about a man having a big banquet.  He sends his servants out to invite the people to come, the banquet is ready. Sadly, one by one the invited guests made an excuse why they couldn't come.  My job, my household, one reason or another why they couldn't come to the banquet.  

Revelation 19:9 speaks about the Marriage Supper Of the Lamb.  Once again, there is an invitation offered.  This invitation is open to all who will come.  Jesus Christ extends this invitation to each and every person ever born.  There are no exclusions.  But just as with any invitation we receive, we have a choice to make.

We can choose to ignore the invitation and throw it away.  We can take the invitation and put it with a pile of other things to sort through at a later date, we can simply RSVP with a 'no' or we can respond by saying 'yes'.  

Like any other invitation, there is usually a deadline as to when you should RSVP.  If you try to do so after the deadline, it's too late and you cannot be included.  The same holds true for the invitation to come to Christ, to join Him and many others at the marriage supper of the Lamb.  We only have while we are alive and breathing on this earth.  Once we die, we are not given another chance.  The choice we made while living is the choice that stays with us for eternity.  No prayer after death said by any one on your behalf can change the reality of your choice on earth.

So today, you have have received this invitation to Come...come to Jesus.  You have been invited to offer what you have to Him-no matter how big or small in anyone else's eyes.  You have been invited to come and the choice is yours.  You have been invited, perhaps once again, to cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for you.  To give over your burdens and worries because He wants to carry them for you.  You have been invited to come-just as you are-into the presence of God.

How will you respond?

Monday, December 14, 2015

12 Songs Of Christmas Day 1

I have wanted to do this for some time now but it never seemed to work out time wise.  So now I am going to give my best effort to write a little devotion based on a Christmas Song I really like.  Some songs may be familiar to you, others you may not have heard before but each one has a special place in my heart.  It was hard to narrow it down to just 12 but after lots of scratching and erasing I think I have the list ready.  Who knows, it may change but you will never know because I am not putting up the list :)  You will have to wait with such patience each day!
I pray these will be a blessing to each of you and the Lord will minister to your hearts throughout the next 12 days.

The first song I chose is I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day.  Below are the original lyrics (minus the references to the Civil War) and also Casting Crowns version of the song.

It's such a beautiful song and I have been listening to it for a few years now.  It wasn't until recently that I looked up the meaning behind the song (I honestly don't know what I would do without Google lol).  Like so many beautiful hymns that were written long ago, this poem was so beautifully penned from the heart by Henry W. Longfellow.  "On Christmas day, 1863, Longfellow—a 57-year-old widowed father of six children, the oldest of which had been nearly paralyzed as his country fought a war against itself—wrote a poem seeking to capture the dynamic and dissonance in his own heart and the world he observes around him. He heard the Christmas bells that December day and the singing of “peace on earth” (Luke 2:14), but he observed the world of injustice and violence that seemed to mock the truthfulness of this optimistic outlook. The theme of listening recurred throughout the poem, eventually leading to a settledness of confident hope even in the midst of bleak despair.

As I read this story I couldn't help but think that his thoughts and words ring true for so many, especially at Christmas time.  The sights and sounds of the this joyous time.  Bright lights, Christmas caroling, church and school programs, parties to attend, cookies to be made, trees to be trimmed and the excitement in the air can be quite contagious.  

We hear the laughter, children carefully making their wish-lists, the smell of woodsy candles and every kind of baked goods permeate the air.  The satisfaction of finding the perfect gift for that someone special in our lives makes waiting in the crowded lines seem worth it-we may even find ourselves tapping our feet to the Christmas music being piped  throughout the stores.

And yet for many, there are no parties, no joy, no trying to sing on key, no longer is there that sense of accomplishment when we have found the perfect gift for that someone special. The choirs are singing of peace and yet we cannot with our eyes see any peace on earth yet alone in our own lives and hearts.  There is a sense of despair, hopelessness and sadness within us. 

A broken heart, perhaps a broken spirit.  One that finds it challenging to look around at the well placed twinkling lights and see the Light of the World.  One that sees and hears the words 'peace on earth' written on cards and sung in song but cannot sense the 'Prince of Peace' within his own heart.  Perhaps listening to the naysayers as he walks about his neighborhood or gathered around the water-cooler at his work place discussing  aloud if God were truly God why is there so much pain, so much evil, loneliness and heartache.  Why, when we have done all to follow You, would You allow this suffering to be so?   How would he answer others questions when he finds himself wrestling with the same things?

Are you there?  Have you been there?  In the midst of the joy and laughter all around you, you are just trying to get by.  You've lost your job, your loved one passed away, you received bad news from the doctor, your family is not going to be together at Christmas.  The dream of giggles and wrapping a present for your own long awaited child will not come to pass this year either.....whatever it may be. You listen to your friends talk about their plans for Christmas Day, the traditions they have and you smile on the outside and pray like crazy that no one sees the pain inside you, and you quickly find a reason why you have to be on your way because if you stand there one more minute you are going to burst into tears.

I want to picture Mr. Longfellow at his table as he writes these words.  Is he writing speedily, scratching out words and replacing them with others?  Are tears dripping down on the paper as he pours his heart out in prose?  Are his eyes so red and tear-stained that he finds it difficult to see where one word ends and another begins?  Does he in fact know that one day these very words would be put to song and fill the hearts of all who hear it with the reminder that despite what is going on in life and the world around us that there is hope-there is life and there is God?!

He writes that in despair he bowed his head.....oh my friend....I believe many of us have been there. We can no longer hold the pen, we tire of pouring our heart out in our journals, there remains no other noise but the sobs and cries pouring out from deep within.  Everything we have been trying to hold back, the thoughts, the doubts and fears within the depths of our soul can no longer be contained.  And we sit with our head bowed low at the table, or we grab a pillow to help drown out the pangs of despair, we lock ourselves in the bathroom-running the water so no one else can hear us and we weep and we weep some more.

But, look at the next verse-the bells were ringing louder and louder.  At first, the cries from our heart were overpowering the sounds of the bells.  Yet, after a time, the sobs became quieted within us.  As we poured our heart out we began to surrender our own understanding, we no longer needed an explanation as to why.  We could feel the warmth of the Holy Spirit comforting us with the very Word of God.  We were reminded that there is no circumstance in life that God cannot help us through.  We experience the God of all comfort comforting us in our sorrow.  We believe once again that ALL things work together for good for those who love God.  Slowly, we feel His precious hands lifting up our head, we see the bottle where He has stored each of our salty tears and though we are alone, there is that sense that His arms are so tightly wrapped around us assuring us that He is with us always and will never leave us nor forsake us.  His truth once again overshadows the fears.  His light once again illuminates our hearts and His peace that passes all understanding gives us the strength we need to make it through whatever comes our way.

I hope that there are church bells near where you live.  (If there are no bells, maybe find an app or ringtone or something that makes the sound of a bell and set it to go off throughout your day)  I pray that you will not be so busy that you cannot hear them as they ring, and that when they do, you stop and you pause no matter where you are or what you are doing and look up.  Look to Him and be reminded of all the promises of God.  Be reminded of His love for you and that our God is alive and powerful.  Be comforted to know the Lord can fill your heart with His peace despite what is happening around you.  Let the truth of God and His very words ring out loudly in your hearts and lives.  Let His voice speak louder than the fears, doubts or any uncertainties that you may be experiencing in your life right now.  

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

Friday, July 10, 2015

Matters Of the Heart

I wanted to write and share some things that have been happening lately.  It’s not a typical update-more a journal of thoughts.  It’s long so I am posting as a blog post rather than a regular update.

Anyway, God has really been doing a lot in my heart and mind over the past years since being in Italy.   Before we moved, I thought it was going to be heavenly-the picture most of us have of Italians is overly friendly, always inviting you over for something to eat, hospitable, etc.  I truly imagined that within a year I would be fluent in Italian and trying to keep up with my planner with so many invites.  Ha ha, was I ever setting myself up for disappointment and serious disillusionment.
When we arrived there was the curious neighbor or two peeking through their window across the way as we would walk through our kitchen.  Thankfully I knew how to say ‘ciao’ but quickly discovered that you only say that when you know a person well.  Jim was actually rebuked at the toll place because he said ‘ciao’ to the guy.  It was quite strange and we were left wondering where were these friendly Italians!   I soon discovered that though we lived in a neighborhood, people went to work in the morning, came home and went inside.  I was perplexed!  After a while, we realized there is a huge difference between the north of Italy and the south of Italy.  It is a bit like California in many ways with the differences between north and south.

For the first few years we would pray and try to start some program, some outreach, some something-anything that would bring people to church.  We started out on Saturday evenings and were overly excited when the Lord opened up a place for us to have church service on Sunday mornings.  Once again-our expectations were so high, only to be brought down to the lowest point.  We realized that most would come on Saturday evening because they either went somewhere else on Sunday morning or didn’t have to wake up on Sunday morning for church.  Here in Italy most children go to school until 1pm on Saturday so Sunday am is the day to sleep in.  Once again, we were asking God why, what, how, etc.  We were barely hanging on by a thread.  Thankfully, we know that it’s ok to hang on to Jesus by only a thread.  When the world, even the church, looks at you as failures when you are hanging on by a thread, Jesus is well pleased that you didn’t just cut the thread off, rather used it to cling to Him.

I remember one particular Sunday leaving church and burst into tears.  I looked at Jim and said ‘I just can’t do this anymore’.  You see, in Hungary, though we had our share of challenges, we really didn’t have much of a problem ministering to people.   Hungary, though many are Catholic, there are also many Protestants.  We also had the poor and needy, we had those who would come and listen.  Some stayed and grew in their relationship with the Lord, some chose not to.  But, the difference was, it wasn’t so difficult to invite them to come and see.  One person begat another after being set free and we were thrilled to see God work in so many lives.  We couldn’t find people to come and see here in Padova.  We would make up flyers, sometimes using the last euro we had for another two weeks, only to see them crumbled up and splattered across the ground.  Our hearts sank and we wondered so often if God’s money couldn’t be better used elsewhere.  We just couldn’t seem to get the people to care enough to engage in conversation or even be curious enough to come to a Sunday service.

Lo and behold, one day Marla and I were walking in the city center and we saw a poster on the window of a Bar.  It was for an English Club that met once a week where everyone was invited to come and practice speaking English.  It was quite interesting and I went home to tell Jim about it.  Of course when it came time to go, I decided that the word ‘bar’ prohibited this pastor’s wife from going.  “What would people think if they knew I went to a bar?”  “How could I possibly carry on a conversation with someone, even if it was in English, at a bar?” These and other fears kept me from going.  I told Jim he could go check it out if he wanted but there was no way this girl was going to be around such a crowd of people.  He went, came home, and couldn’t say enough good things about it.  He said there were about 100 people all ages, from many countries and it was great.  A bar here is so much different than what we thought of.  It is a sandwich place and people may drink one thing through the evening if anything.  So different than what we considered a bar atmosphere.  Needless to say, I joined him the following week and was amazed.  It was so fun and a pleasant environment.  The people we met actually wanted to speak to us and Jim was able to share the Gospel with those he felt God sending his way. 

Over the last year and a half, the Lord has taught me so much.  All my Christian life, I never really had to go outside the church for fellowship.  Within the busyness of church functions there wasn’t a need to go out and meet unsaved people.  There was enough to do with the church.  It was good-very good and I grew so much.  I loved women’s ministry and still do.  I love discipling other women.  I love all that ministry involves in this way.  But, I hadn’t had to go outside the church until we moved to Padova.  In my mind, it was going to be the same as Hungary.  People would come and want to be discipled, then bring their friends and the chain would continue.  But wasn’t going to be this way and I was so distraught.  I cannot tell you how many times I cried, how many times I wanted to quit, to give up being in ministry all together and just ‘be a Christian’ and have my husband have a ‘normal’ job and we could be the ones writing checks to others once again.  Yes, it may sound alarming and unfaithful to some, but that is where I was at.  I could no longer see the reason God would have us in a place where no one was interested.  I thought of all the horrid things some had said about us in the past and started to believe that oh yes, they must have been right and we are worthless, useless.  I tried so, so hard to beg God to just take us away from this place.  He never allowed it to happen.  Fleece after fleece was being met by Him and to be honest, at times I was disappointed that He provided the fleece because I thought ‘oh no, here we go again-is it a trick”?  God had a plan and it would be His way, His timing. 

God showed me that no two places are alike.  Through the English Club I started meeting quite a few people.  Ladies who were my age and even some younger.  I was excited but nervous.  From the start, they knew why Jim and I were here and what we were all about.  It was so awesome to see week after week when we were at the bar how the same people would come talk to Jim even knowing he was going to be talking about the Lord.  Now when some see him they call out ‘hey pastor, I really need to talk to you one of these days’.  We have been able to see a guy who is about Jim’s age, tell him the first night they met ‘well, I am an atheist’ and yet he has come to our home for meals, went to events we had with church and now for the first time has actually come to a church service.  “you make it sound so simple Jim” he said!  Yes!!! It is that simple!!!  Another gal we met from there has been coming to church and telling her friends about what she is learning.  Others will come when we have special events, even at Easter we had many come.  I am learning patience.  Learning that it is up to God to do the work in the lives of others while I need to be willing to be out of my comfort zone and go and do as He leads.  We have learned that God indeed has a plan for the place He has called us to but we had to allow Him to take the old wineskins of our thinking and allow Him to give us new ones. 

This past week has been exceptional.  Two ladies I met at the English Club both invited me out different times during this week and ended up pouring out their heart to me.  Each said they really liked that my life seems so simple and it’s different than most they know.  God so graciously allowed me to insert His grace and love in our conversation and I am thrilled.  In the past, I would have given up on them a long time ago.  They have come to our ladies Tea and a couple events but one has not come to Sunday service.  In the past, I would have sadly written her off as one not interested and tried to move on to someone new.  But God!  His ways are not my ways, His thoughts are not my thoughts. His timing is not my timing.  Oh what I would have missed out on had I been my old self.  What I would be missing out on right now had I allowed my fears to take over because or the word 'bar'.   Most all the friendships Jim and I have now, most all the people who come to the church events, are those we have met through this English Club!

One of the biggest things the Lord has shown me these past few months is not to judge the work by who shows up on Sundays.  As I read through the Gospels there is very little mentioned about a Sunday service and what was going on ‘in the church’.  Jesus’s ministry was everywhere.  He was up on a hill teaching, in a boat, by a well, in peoples’ homes, at a beach bbq.  Not all of our ministries are going to look alike and I have learned that that is ok.  I am one who has the tendency to look around at others and compare myself to them.  You can imagine that that only leads to depression and destruction of heart. 

It is a slow process, but I can say that we see the fruits of the labor.  I cannot imagine that I wanted to give up and yet God was so very faithful and didn’t let us quit.  I know that God loves the people here and we love being His servants.  I love that He doesn’t think like the world and say we are too old or can’t be used by Him.  I love that He loves us and loves to shake our world at times to show us that it really is all about Him-that we don’t get to a point in our lives where we  have this ‘Christian Ministry’ down to a tee and think we could do it in our sleep.  God help us when our thoughts go there!!!  May we never think, no matter how long we have served Him, that there isn’t something different He wants to teach us, to show us.  Our work truly must be all about Him and the only way it can be all about Him is when He is in control.  He is taking the lead and we are willingly laying down not only our lives, but our way of thinking and doing so that His work can be accomplished.

I pray that through my struggles, doubts and fears that some may be strengthened and know that it’s never too late to surrender to Him.  Whether it be your desires, your thoughts, your plans, your way of doing what you’re used to, or even clinging to what you know.  Don’t try to stick with what you know.  If you are right now holding onto a thread that is ok.  He will take that thread and make something beautiful out of it if you let Him.

Please continue to pray for us, the ministry here and the lives God has intertwined with ours.  Pray that we would always be clay in the hands of our gracious and loving Potter.

Monday, June 1, 2015


Greetings to all!

When I was younger I used to laugh when I heard people ask 'where did the time go?'.  Now, I understand.  It seems like the days, weeks and months just hurry before our eyes.  One moment we are complaining about how cold it is and the next it is time to get the fans out of the garage.  We have been quite busy but it has been a good busy.

The last few months Jim has worked so hard getting the church in order along with Franco and Rosa.  The kitchen was put together and thanks to 'YouTube', Jim could do the plumbing himself and also put in a burner and oven.  We are good to go.

can you believe this stainless sink was set out for the trash!  Good thing Jim spotted it :)

We had Easter at the church which was wonderful!  Doug and Rose Martin were here and Doug helped Jim get things set up so we could enjoy Easter lunch after service at the church.  We are thankful they use their holiday time to come visit us each Easter!  We invited a few friends and they came out to join us.  It was a great day and the Gospel of Hope went out with love.  We pray the seeds that were planted will continue to be watered and eventually sprout up to new life in Christ with those who heard the message.  We also had a great visit the following week with Mark and Renata Nigro.  Mark is now teaching at bible college in Murietta and he brought a group of students over for a time of outreach in some of our cities here in Italy.

my lovely friends Ornella and Emanuela
Edney-such a wonderful servant of the Lord
Easter Sunday 

A few weeks later we hosted a Mexican food evening.  A few students from the bible college came down and we enjoyed a night of meeting new people and sharing the love of Christ with those in attendance.  One of the university students who came is Paolo.  He is getting his Masters in Physics and is also the Italian Rubik Cube Champion!  He and Jim corresponded a few times after that night and now Paolo is attending church on Sundays.  He is very interested in the Bible and even asked Jim which 3 books he would recommend for him to read first!  So exciting!

We have really been blessed with the friends we have met through the English Club here in Padova.  Each time we host an event at the church we invite many/all to come and each time about 8-10 show up.  From that, we have now had 3 people start coming to the church.  It's such an encouragement.  We are able to see the faithfulness of God to keep our friendships with these people without having to compromise who we are or in whom we believe.

The past couple days we have been able to host Rob Nash and an young guy Steven who is interning at CC Vista at our home.  It is always great to have friends visit and encourage us in the ministry.  Last night, Rob shared Simply the Story at the church.  He shared from David and Goliath and the interaction was phenomenal!  He had everyone's attention-from the young child on up to us older ones.  We all enjoyed learning this way of storytelling and bringing out different facts to think about and apply to our own lives.  Afterwards, we enjoyed a great time of fellowship and food with our friends from CC Treviso and CC Ferarra.  Denae, Bethany, Lorenzo and Steven led worship which was so sweet.  Jim and I were both overjoyed that so many from these two churches came out to join us and support not only CC Padova, but our guest as well. It was such a great night and I know the Lord was smiling down upon His people.
Steven, Denae, Jim, Bethany and Lorenzo 
Lorenzo and Rob 

Praying good things for this guy :)

So,  do you see a theme here?  We invite people, share the Word, eat and enjoy fellowship!  It's Acts 2:42 and we love it!  We have found that when we have an event and share food, the people come out.  Praise God for His provision that enables us to do this and prayerfully will continue to do so.

The women's leadership conference in Portugal was awesome!  We had a great time in God's Word, meeting new friends, and enjoying the beautiful sunshine and seaside.  Thanks to all who prayed for this event and we are already looking forward to next year's time together.  Our teachings from Romans 12:9-13 were each challenging, encouraging and heart-searching.  It was a great blessing to attend CC Lagoa and see the amazing work the Lord is doing through Jon and Laura and others.  They have a ministry to the homeless each week and they are seeing God work miracles in the lives of drug addicts, prostitutes and the homeless.  People are getting saved, reading the Word and now some are even getting jobs!  It's so great to see the Lord change peoples' lives!
When Leaders Lead In Europe
So much fun!!!

Jim will be going to Germany to help with an English Camp at the end of July, early August.  He is also having some band guys from Hungary come over to Padova to hopefully play some concerts one of the weekends.

We want to thank all who pray and support us and those who support our building rent.  It was such a step of faith-not only for us, but also those coming alongside of us.  Thank you for hearing from the Lord and helping us with this.  In such a few months, we have been able to do so much now that we have a building to meet in any day and any time we choose.  It's incredible!

We have a list of ideas and plans for September once the students are back at University.  English club, Student Nights, are just a couple of the ideas.  Please pray that God would give us His wisdom on what to do and how to best do these things.  We don't want to just do things for the sake of doing them.  We want the Holy Spirit to guide and direct all of what we do.

Please keep our daughter Marla in your prayers as she has one more year before graduating with her Masters Degree in Non Profit Management.  She is working in Milano and taking her courses online.  She has been doing so well and we are very proud of her.  Please pray that the Lord would work things out for her in the next year to move back to the US and that she would find a good job and a place to live.  She has been a tremendous help to Jim and me-especially to me as I am not as mobile due to my back issues.

As many of you know, we have our annual Missions Conference coming up in August.  It is often the highlight of our year as we get to listen to so many encouraging teachings, catch up with our friends who are serving in different countries throughout Europe and just relax in the beauty that surrounds us in Milstatt.  We really are quite spoiled for the week as we don't have to clean, do dishes, set up chairs, teach Sunday School etc.  A team comes each year and has a VBS for all the missionary children and they are able to have so much fun with their friends.

I want to ask you to please pray for a special family that is so close to our hearts.  They don't get outside support so things are really difficult financially for them.  They are a family of four and would really be blessed to attend the conference this year.  Would you please pray that they would be able to attend.  If the Lord puts it on your heart to donate towards the cost please let me know.  They would need airfare, car rental (it's 4 hours from the airport) and then of course the conference fees for their family.  They don't really get much outside fellowship and the conference would be so good for them.  They have been blessed to attend a couple times and I know that they would all greatly benefit from being able to attend again this year.  It's been 'one of those years'.  Thank you for praying for them and seeking the Lord how you might be able to help them out.

We thank you all for your love, prayers and financial support.  It's in thanks to your faithfulness that we are able to minister here in Padova and continue reaching out to the many here who so desperately need to know the truth and love of Jesus.  Pray for those who are still hardened and stubborn that as we allow the light of Jesus to shine in and through us that they would see Him, desire to know Him and then walk with Him daily.  Please continue in prayer also that the Lord would bring a few people to come serve alongside of us here at CC Padova.  We really need some help :)

To God be the glory for the great things He has done!
In love,
Jim and Margie

If you would like to be a part of supporting us financially there are a couple ways you can do so:

Send a check to with a memo stating it's for Jim Stewart CC Padova to:
Calvary Chapel Vista
885 E Vista Way
Vista, CA 92084

OR you can give via online donations at either of the two websites.  Just be sure to scroll to designate for Missions/Jim Stewart
Go to 


All donations are tax deductible