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Saturday, April 01, 2006

UPDATE FOR MARCH 2006

Our Terrible God. What drives our obedience? Some Italian Christians believe that they need the horrible threats of God?s punishment to keep them in line. Rather than rejoice in our Father?s love and grace, and seek to please Him as His beloved children would, they overemphasize God?s terrible threats to the disobedient.
No one should doubt for a minute that ?it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God? or that ?our God is a consuming fire.? (Hebrews 10:31; 12:29) An overemphasis on fear, however, tends to transform legalists into perfectionists, who become, then, slaves to their own rules. No one can fulfill God?s will perfectly, so these Italian believers concentrate on certain sins for which they perceive a particular weakness. The prohibitions of these special sins become their special law. So, when they are tempted, they imagine God?s terrifying punishment for these few sins, and back off. These rules, of course, comprise only a part of the whole Law of God, but they seem to miss this. Sadly, most members of one congregation share this mistaken idea, judge each other and threaten its members by the hand-made rules of their own creation. Worse, this church threatens to die by its own legalism. Some have openly criticized those who would teach on God?s grace!
The truth is, as Paul put it, ?Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ?Abba, Father.?? (Romans 8:14, 15) Encouraged by fellow missionaries Harold wrote a Bible study, balancing the fear of the Lord and the grace of God.
Our Visitors. David and Amanda Knapp, missionary interns with Randy and Katy Smelser in Germany, visited us. It was our pleasure to share not only some hospitality with them, but also some encouragement and advice.
Nigerian preached at Matelica. Our Nigerian brother, Kingsley Eseigue, brought the morning message recently, speaking on the Kingdom of God. We no longer have to translate the Italian sermons into English for him, but since he has been in Italy about a year, his street Italian is coming along fine. He chose, however to preach in Nigerian English and asked Harold to translate. Did you ever listen to second-language English, mentally translate it into your own version, so you could understand it yourself, and then translate it into another language (like Italian) clearly enough so that others could understand it in their tongue, and do it smoothly so that your audience could understand the message, catch the nuances, and be moved by them? ?It?s nice work, if you can do it!?
Enid?s physical. Enid has been under a doctor?s care for three years for acid reflux, polyps and Barrett?s esophagus. We have a very fine specialist at Perugia who has been following her case. Now she has taken a number of tests to evaluate the long-term effects of the medication. We haven?t received the results of the lab tests, but the doctors think that this part is healing. Tests for osteoporosis show a lowering of her calcium level, so she will undergo some more tests.