For His Glory

This is the third lesson in a series on the mission of God. I started previously with a series of thoughts initially on the image of God filling the earth and then wrote the lesson itself over on the Search Party site.

From there, we moved on to underline the idea that God’s mission should fill the whole earth. That means that God’s redemption is available to everyone. God wants everyone to return to him, to be with him as he originally intended.

Now, we want to ask and answer the next questions such as, “Why is God doing this? Why is he going to all of this trouble?”

Created to Glorify God

Let’s start with a scripture in the book of Isaiah:

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth — everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. ”

Isaiah 43:5-7

Through Isaiah, God is saying that his people will come from the ends of the earth back to him. Those people whom God made and that called by name, he is now calling all of them back to himself.

But God says something interesting in the midst of calling the people back. He gives the reason WHY he created them. He says that he created them for his glory.

As God’s people, created in the image of God, we are created for a purpose. That purpose is to give God glory.

Killed to Glorify God

Now we move forward in the book of John to see if this is also Jesus’s perspective. Does he also believe that his purpose is to give glory to God?

At the end of Jesus’s life, he begins to teach and prepare his disciples for his death. As he speaks about his death, he admits that carrying out this mission even is difficult for him, but he wants to bring glory to the Father:

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!

John 12:27-28

Jesus’s overriding concern is that God would be glorified. Even if he is troubled; Even if it means difficulty or pain for him; Even if it means that he would lose his life, the most important thing is that God would be glorified. This is the overriding purpose for God’s people: To give glory to God.

What about me?

So let’s apply this to each of us. What does this have to do with me? If I believe in Jesus and am one of God’s people, what is my purpose?

As you probably have guessed by now, we must also live our lives to bring glory to God. Take a look at what apostle Paul said in the book of Romans:

For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.”

Romans 15:8-9

In this passage, we see that there are two purposes for Jesus to become a servant of the Jews. Paul says that he did it so that the promises that God made would be fulfilled and that the Gentiles would glorify God. In this case, God’s credibility is upheld in that his promises are fulfilled. However, we see again the purpose of the people: that they give glory to God!

This, therefore, is also our purpose. We have been made to give glory to God. But how? How do we give glory to God?

We don’t need to look any farther than the way that God’s story finishes. God brings all of the nations back to himself exactly as we saw in the prophecy above from Isaiah. God said that all people, including both the Jews and the Gentiles, would come to him to give glory to him.

And that is exactly what happens:

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”

Revelation 5:8-10

Believing in Jesus and following him is not just about avoiding Hell. Instead, following Jesus is all about bringing glory to God. We bring glory to him when we join God in his plan and his mission to bring people from the ends of the earth to worship him.

To believe in Jesus and follow him is a first step, but there are many other steps to follow to be his disciple and follow him, all for the purpose of bringing God glory!

Study Questions

We actually ended up doing the study a little bit differently than what I wrote above. Instead of going through each of the scriptures, we actually worked through the concept in a different way this time. Here were the steps we went through:

Part 1

What do you thank God for this week?

What do you need prayer for this week?

How did you obey God from our last meeting?

Part 2

What does the word “glory” mean? What does it mean to give God glory?

Read Isaiah 43:5-7.

What is this scripture talking about? How would you summarize it?

This is what we were made for: To give God glory!

Cat vs. Dog Metaphor

Who considers themselves to be a cat person? A dog person?

How does a cat think? A cat thinks, “You pet me, you feed me, you love me.  I must be God.”

But a dog thinks differently. The dog thinks, “You pet me, you feed me, you love me.  You must be God.”

Is the point of the story of the Bible about you, or about God? Try these statments:

StatementCatDog
Jesus left the Father’s glory for…MeThe glory of the Father
He suffered for…MeThe glory of the Father
He died for…MeThe glory of the Father
He’s gone back to heaven to build a mansion for…MeThe glory of the Father
He’s interceding for…MeThe glory of the Father
He lives for…MeThe glory of the Father

Part 3

So if we understand and believe that the point of our lives is to give glory to God, and then if we understand that we also can have a tendency to make the story about God instead of me, what should we change? For example, here are a few questions we might ask ourselves:

  • How should my prayer life change if I live to give glory to God?
  • How should I spend my time if I live to give glory to God?
  • How should I spend my money if I live to give glory to God?

Does God accomplish his plan? Read Revelation 5:8-10.

Who is there around God’s throne?

What can I do this week to join God’s plan and give him glory?

Who can I share this lesson with this week?

Reference

I’ve worked through the Perspectives class several times and have heard Bob Sjogren share on this topic several times. He has been a great influence to me regarding this subject. I recommend checking out this whole video to hear Bob teach this subject. You will see that a portion of what Bob teaches has been included in this lesson.

Monkey Mind Pong

Neuralink is a company started by Elon Musk. They have been working on making a chip that connects the brain directly to the internet.

I heard Elon Musk on a podcast not too long ago say that he feels that we are already cyborgs as we carry around a smartphone in our hands. He said that the problem is that the interface is too slow because we communicate with two thumbs. He says that even typing with our thumbs is a step down from the ten fingers that we have previously used as we typed on our computers.

Musk has talked about this for the last few years. Think about what he is saying in this video…

So Neuralink has been taking its first steps in the direction of making the mind connect to the computer. Take a look at what this monkey is able to do with its brain.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jesus

Where we are, we have found quite a few Jehovah’s Witnesses on the streets of Catania and in the refugee camps. They seem to primarily be trying to go after Nigerian Christians, representing themselves as just another group of people who follow Jesus.

Recently, I met a believer who had fallen prey to them and was meeting with the JW folks online through Zoom. In following discussions, I explained to my friend that the JWs do not see Jesus as divine. They do not believe that he is God that has come to earth. Here is a page on their website that mentions this in particular:

What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe? – See point 3. Jesus

Here are three brief thoughts that come to mind after considering this perspective:

If Jesus is not God, John 1:1-3 cannot be true as Jesus could not have been there in the beginning, creating the heavens and the earth as the book of John says:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 1:1-3

If Jesus is not God, Luke 1:35 cannot be true. Jesus was born of a virgin as a result of the Holy Spirit placing the Son of God within Mary. Jesus is referred to as the “holy one”, a reference that cannot be made unless Jesus is himself God.

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

Luke 1:35

If Jesus is not God, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is invalid. God offered a perfect sacrifice in Jesus. Only if Jesus was divine, only if he was God himself, could Jesus be a perfect sacrifice to provide forgiveness for our sins. From Hebrews:

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews 9:11-14

A Relationship Based on the Gospel

I was recently talking with a friend about how I have typically tried to do my work. I was explaining that I had been working with people from an unreached people group and that I typically try to connect with someone personally, but then fairly early in the relationship, share the Gospel with them so that they understand who I am and what I am about. Based on this, the person can have a clearer picture of the nature of the relationship that I am hoping to form.

My friend asked, “But what if sharing the Gospel will drive them away?” It is a good question, and not an easy one to precisely figure out what to do.

I explained that I don’t know that I have the right answer in this, but that I can explain how I typically think about these scenarios. As I share my faith with someone else, I want them to be able to understand who I am and the things that are important to me so that they can either appreciate that about me…or not.

And I am happy to do the same with them. If I can understand who someone is and what they are about, then we can have a relationship “in the open”, if you will. They don’t have to guess what I might want from them, and I don’t have to guess what they want from me. It is clear from the start and we can each then evaluate if that is the type of relationship that we want to have with the other person or not.

As I am working in my role of trying to catalyze a discipleship and church planting movement, I want to try to do this with a clear-eyed vision of where I am hoping the relationship will go. With people who do not believe in Jesus, I try to share the Gospel soon after the start of the relationship. My hope, of course, is that they will believe and that we can begin to walk forward together, following Jesus together. If they do not want to do this, we can still continue to be friends and I will pray for them.

On the other hand, if I meet someone who is already a believer in Jesus, I try to share a vision for who we believe God wants us to be and what the Bible teaches us to do. For those that are interested in learning more, I typically try to invite them to continue to go forward with us.

All of this to simply answer my friend that the Gospel and who we are in Christ can be a “filter” of sorts. It is a filter in the sense that we are looking for people who want to learn to follow Jesus as far as he will take us. For those that already know that they aren’t interested in this or having that type of relationship together, that is OK. As I say, we can still be friends and I will still be happy to pray for them. But for those who are not interested in this, we can understand all of this from the beginning.

Requirements and impediments toward a discipleship and church planting movement in our context

On Friday, I talked with one of my teammates about a conversation for this coming Monday. We typically meet on Monday afternoon to talk about our strategy and plan for the week, although given some recent changes with our team, we have taken some time to talk at a little higher level than normal, attempting to think more strategically rather than tactically so that we can consider where we want to go as a team.

As a team, we have defined our goal that we want to catalyze a discipleship and church planting movement among immigrants to the fourth generation. This means that we want to see disciples making disciples and churches planting churches four generations deep, starting with us at Generation 0.

So the two questions are these:

  1. What do we believe needs to happen to see a discipleship and church planting movement started here?
  2. What are the impediments that we have seen so far to catalyzing a movement?

I’m going to take a stab at these from my perspective here in this post…

What needs to happen?

I think there are a few elements that we need to make sure are in place to see a movement start:

Vision

First, I think that there is a great need for vision. I like how Zume Training says this when it says that we need to see where the Kingdom of God is not currently reigning and begin to work in these areas. Here is that page with a video that explains this concept:


As people attempting to catalyze a movement, we need to communicate and help people understand the urgency to see where the Kingdom is not and move into those places with the good news of the Gospel. Without a heart to see the lost saved, we won’t go anywhere.

Dependency on Jesus and the Holy Spirit

As a community, we must live dependent upon the Holy Spirit to give the fruit for the work that we are doing. We have been working long enough now to know that, if God is not leading the work in the area that we are hoping to see fruit, it will simply not happen. We can work and work but we will labor in vain and no fruit will come.

But there is good news in that Jesus said that we must abide in him, and if we will do that, then the fruit will come. If we will listen to what he is saying – if we will stay connected to what he is doing, then we will produce fruit. Jesus said:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:5-8

Practically speaking, I think that this means spending time in the Word of God to understand God and what he wants to have happen. We have a great advantage in that God decided to tell us many things already through his Word, so we need to be reading it consistently to allow him and his thoughts to be soaking into us and our thoughts.

I think it also means spending time in prayer, asking God what he wants to happen and asking him to work in each of the areas where we are hoping to see fruit. Jesus taught us to pray, asking God for his Kingdom to come and his will to be done here on earth as it is being done in heaven. We can assume that God’s will is being done on heaven, but we also assume that it is not yet being done here in earth. This is what we are praying to happen.

And finally, I think it means that we need to foster a culture in a community of people that are doing the same. Individually and as a community, we must be connected to the vine so that we will be branches that produce fruit.

Community

In each of the items under what is needed, a community of people is implied, but I wanted to explicitly state it here. If we are going to see a movement, we must have a community of people to work along with us. I don’t necessarily assume that everyone in the community will do everything that we are hoping that they will do. Neither do I assume that they all will become fully-developed disciples of Jesus. But if the community doesn’t exist, we won’t be able to call the people to be part of the disciple-making and church planting movement that we hope to see catalyzed.

There may be a few ways that we could connect with community. We could consider developing a community. That is, we could create something, or continue to grow something like we already have been doing with the bike shop or the community garden, or possibly creating a business that could be used as part of the missional work. This would mean that we need to grow that community to such an extent that it becomes a hive of activity around which people will enter and exit.

A second option could be that we enter into an existing community. In some ways, we have already done this with our churches. These are existing communities that we have entered. However, these communities do not necessarily have yet the refugees and immigrants that we are hoping to reach within them so the efforts to date of entering community may not be fully sufficient for reaching the immigrants.

A third option that I can think of is to create a hub, a community of communities, if you will. We attempt to tie together various activities to essentially be, in a sense, a clearinghouse of various activities that people can join to serve and that we can offer to others to receive assistance through the services offered.

C0mmunity of Practice

We want to be a community that:

  • Looks for the places where the Kingdom of God does not yet exist
  • Prays for non-believers and depends on the Holy Spirit to bear fruit
  • Shares the Gospel with non-believers
  • Makes mature disciples of Jesus
  • Starts new churches
  • Raises up new leaders who will teach others to do each of the above

If we want to do these things, then we need to be people who will take action upon what we believe. We must make disciples who will make disciples, and we must start churches amongst them that will start new churches.

As a part of doing this work, we must have a defined set of tools that we teach along with a way that we do church. We need to be able to define what we mean when we say specific words like “church” and “disciple” because these words have consequences in what we are trying to see created.

Local Leadership

The leadership of the work must be or quickly become local. Instead of being dependent upon us to be the lead disciple-makers or in leading a church, we want to be consistently training others to lead.

When we say “local”, we mean that in a few ways. We do, of course, refer to the geography, but we also are referring to the languages and cultures of the people that we are trying to reach. If we want to reach Group X, then we need to find someone from Group X who speaks their language and knows their culture to find persons of peace, share the Gospel, and make disciples within Group X. In this way, the leadership must be local so that it can be continually reproduced within the context of the culture and language where we hope to see the Gospel reach.

Impediments to a movement

In our situation, we have run into a few impediments to a movement taking root. Here are a few that I can list so far that have created challenges in seeing our work go forward.

  1. Preconceived ideas – Attempting partnership with people from other places and other backgrounds, and then describing ideas of a reproducing disciple or a reproducing church, is often met with resistance simply because of preconceived ideas. Just recently, as we read the Bible with a man from Nigeria, we saw that he was immediately taken aback with the idea that God has called us to be his messengers of God’s salvation. This was a result of the fact that this man believed that to be a messenger meant that you needed to be a preacher on TV, reaching thousands, or even millions, of people at once. He couldn’t imagine that this was something that he was supposed to do. As I explained that he was right – that this wasn’t necessarily what he was called to do – he still continued to struggle with the concept, being unable to let go of his preconceived idea of what it means to be a disciple and make a disciple.
  2. Finances – This is an impediment primarily because of the fact that there isn’t work nor opportunity for most of the people that we work with. The theory for movements says that money shouldn’t enter the equation in discussion for workers, and generally I would agree with this. But that also seems to assume that there is some opportunity for work to make money and live in another way. This is a situation that we may likely need to find creative solutions to work around in our situation specifically.
  3. Reliability – Finding people who are reliable enough to show up within a certain time period, or at all, has been an impediment toward seeing growth toward movement to date. We will need to continue to search to find the people who will have a burning desire to see the discipleship and church planting work go forward enough such that they would be willing to show up to study the Word of God or pray in the same way that they might if someone were offering them a sum of money.

The World Has Been Crucified to Me

I had a good meeting yesterday in the park with my friend. He was baptized last summer and we continue to meet together to read the Bible and grow together as we apply what we have learned. He hasn’t had any background in the church or any prior connection to the Christian world, so there are many things that he is learning for the first time, and I am learning anew, through the scriptures and our experiences as we meet and try to walk a life of faith together.

While we met a couple of times on a video call during our red zone lockdown times, we hadn’t seen each other face-to-face over the last couple of weeks. During that time, I had watched the video with my family during our Life Lessons time that we do with our kids about boasting only in the cross of Christ. While we were watching this video together as a family, I thought of him. He is a young guy, just a few years older than the people who listened to Piper that day in 2000. In fact, as I told him, he is about the same age that I was when I first heard this message 20 years ago.

In that message, Piper says that you don’t need to be rich, good-looking, or very smart to make a difference in the world. Instead, he said that, if you truly do want to make a difference in the world, you need to be gripped by an idea that is great, that is eternal. It needs to hold onto you in such a way that you live by it, that you are consumed by the idea.

So that leads to the question: What is that idea? What do we need to know that would allow us to truly make a difference that will not only be significant now but last for eternity?

In our conversation yesterday, we went back and read through the verse that Piper used in his message that day in 2000. Ironically, in the sermon, through all of the language that Piper used in his explanation, I even found his talk a little difficult to follow toward the end as he was explaining this verse, so I thought it would be helpful to my friend to break down the verse and understand what it says, understand what it means, and think about how we could apply it to our lives. Here is that verse:

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Galatians 6:14

It is a relatively simple sentence, but I suggested that we should break it down further into two smaller parts, so that is what we did:

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…

We started with the word “boast”. What does that mean? A synonym could be that we are bragging. Why would we brag? Typically, we would brag because we have something in the world that others would want, or would want at the level that we have. It might be money, fame, power, position, or a possession. These things are pretty universally desired by people in our world today. As men and women in the worldly system, we want these things and so, if we attain one or more of them, we might be inclined to boast in one way or another to other people about what we have achieved or what we have attained.

But here, the apostle Paul is writing and says, “May I never boast” unless it is in the cross of Jesus. Piper says this is like boasting that I am going to be killed in the electric chair, or I am going to be lynched. If I am boasting in the cross, I am finding myself bragging about death.

But that is the exact opposite of the reasons that we would brag to someone else in our worldly system. We brag or boast because of a sign of success that I have obtained like money, fame, power, or position, not a sign of defeat like death! Yet Paul says that he wants to never boast unless it is in the cross of Christ. How can this possibly make any sense at all?

To understand this, let’s look at the second part of the verse:

…through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Paul says that the world has been crucified to him. What does that mean? I believe he is talking about the system of the world, the pleasures of our world. The things that we believe signify and show that we are a success in this world, those are the things that Paul says have been crucified to him. Those things are now dead to him. The things that the world values no longer have any value to him.

If that is the case, what is he living for? Paul is saying that he is living only to brag about what Jesus has done and this is what his life is now oriented around. He wants to not live according to the values of our world today. He doesn’t want to be considered to be a success according to the standards of our world. He wants to be a success within the Kingdom of God and be judged by its standards. He wants to live in the way that Jesus has called him to live, as someone who is subject to the King, who is Jesus, and teach others to do the same. Only in the things that Jesus has done, paying the price for us through his blood – the price of a sacrifice to offer forgiveness for our sins – only in these things does Paul want to boast.

Together with my friend, we talked about needing to be gripped by this idea, as Piper said in his message. What would that look like to live in such a way that we don’t value the things that the world values?

My friend continues to grow in his faith and has a desire to move forward in his faith walk with God. He wants to make a difference with his life and seems to understand, at least intellectually, what we talked about. Now we will need to continue to walk together to learn how to apply these things in our lives as the Holy Spirit leads us. As he works within us, and will work through us to help others also become disciples of Jesus.

We must even go on to help even more people be gripped by these simple yet profound ideas that will allow us all to truly make a difference in this world that will last for eternity, only because what we have done, we have done for our Savior and King Jesus.

The Role of Suffering in the Kingdom of God

I was recently reading Matthew 10 with some others here in Catania. Jesus selected the 12 disciples and immediately sent them out to tell others about the Kingdom of God. There are some interesting things that I see here in this chapter, specifically related to suffering and persecution as he sent them out. Here are a few of those observations:

In verse 8, Jesus says, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” Jesus is sending his disciples to the places where there is disease and the demon-possessed.

Verse 9 – “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you…” Jesus tells them that they shouldn’t take money with them. It turns out that they must depend on the local people to make things work.

Now we go down to the heart of the matter… it doesn’t get any better!

Verse 16 – “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” Jesus is telling his disciples that they should expect danger on the mission that he is sending them on.

Verse 17 – “Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues.” The disciples are going to be beaten.

Verse 19 – “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it.” The disciples will be arrested and brought before governors and kings.

And if you thought that was bad…

Verse 21 – “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.” Families will work against one another. Brother against brother. Father against his child. Children against their parents…and all to the death.

Verse 22 – “You will be hated by everyone because of me…” You will not be liked. You will be hated.

Verse 23 – “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.” Plain and simple, you will be persecuted.

Verse 38 – “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Jesus tells his disciples that they have to carry the instrument of their own death on their backs. If they don’t, they aren’t worthy of him.

Verse 39 – “…whoever loses their life for my sake will find it…” Jesus calls his disciples specifically to die for him.

All of this is in the context of Jesus sending out his disciples to find the person of peace and tell them about the Kingdom of God. I think this means that if we are sent by Jesus, be prepared to suffer.

And yet, there is another part of the Bible that talks about what our attitude should be as we suffer and as we face trials. Here is James:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4

I think that we sometimes read over these verses a little too quickly. So, if I am understanding James correctly, even in all of the suffering and persecution that Jesus said that we would have, we are to consider it pure joy! God is trying to help us grow and mature through these trials, through the suffering and persecution, so consider them joy as you live through these times. God wants to do something in you and through you, and without the trials and without the suffering, the Word and the work won’t go forward. But we can expect both the trials and the suffering when he does send us, and through those things, God’s Word and his work will go forward.

Milestone: Phase 2 Training Course

Over the last few months, we have been investigating the possibility of bringing people to Catania as part of a training program for new missional workers, teaching them to do the things that we do and then sending them along to other locations in Italy to engage the unreached.

Yesterday, I finished the first draft of the training course. It is a year long, and if you’re curious, the draft is here:

My teammates are looking at the course now and giving me feedback for edits and updates. We’ll then be taking this to various agencies and organizations that partner with churches to send those that are called overseas to reach the unreached. As they come, we will then train them here using this curriculum and then send people along to other cities in Italy where there are immigrants from across the world in an effort to catalyze discipleship and church planting movements in those locations as well.

For what it is worth, as a team, we discussed that just calling it Phase 2 Training probably isn’t what we want to do, so we’re considering names. I nominated a name today that we’ll see how it goes:

Tyrannus School

or in Italian:

Scuola di Tiranno

This comes from Acts 19, verses 8-10, where it says that Paul taught this disciples at the Hall of Tyrannus and then everyone in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. Here is the specific quote from the book of Acts:

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

Acts 19:8-10

I think that this generally describes what we are hoping to accomplish here in Italy, and beyond. Using the school, from the one location, sending people out to share the Gospel with both the Jews and the Greeks of our time and place, so that they can offer the hope of Christ to everyone.

Reading the Creation Story

Today, as I mentioned in my previous post, I started reading through the Bible with my friend who has been a believer for only about 6 months. We’ve read the Bible a lot over the last several years, although most of what we have done previously has been reading through the Gospels as well as the new believer lessons that our team uses with people who have said that they want to believe and follow Jesus. I felt like it was important for him to understand the bigger picture, the larger story that God has been telling from the beginning so he could have a solid Biblical picture of what God has been doing, leading to Jesus, and ultimately now to us.

We read Genesis 1 today, talking about how God created the earth. Here were a few notable parts of the discussion:

  • God seemed to have systematically moved through the process of creation, developing each component of the creation of the earth and the heavens in a step-by-step way.
  • God created man and woman in his own image. We are loved by God and considered to have great importance to him as carriers of his image and his likeness.
  • We were given two commandments directly from the beginning: To be fruitful and multiply and to have dominion – oversight – over the birds, the animals, and the fish of the seas. We have been given a great responsibility for all of these.

New Regions for Phase 2 Training

This morning, I was able to work through two additional regions for the Phase 2 Training:

As I noted in my last post, the intent is to continue to develop the list of these countries so that we can be praying through them, having some basic information to work from and a basis for which we can pray in addition to the people that we know and have met from these countries here where we are working. It is probably also important to understand that I am primarily including those countries whose people we meet here in Italy on a regular basis. I haven’t necessarily included all of the countries, for example, from East Africa, but if they are a regular part of the population that we connect with, I will include them in these lists.