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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Update for February 2007

February is the month the permission arrived. In April last year, we requested legal permission to translate and publish Tim Woodroof's fine book: A Church That Flies. Believing in the book's validity to bless the churches in Italy, Harold translated it. Much time passed, but the publishers' permission was not immediately forthcoming. We were also concerned about where the money would come from to print and distribute this book.
And then the Lord brought things together this month:
1. Grenola (KS) Christian Church sent their yearly monetary gift. Would you believe that it was roughly the estimated cost of printing this book?! We did not need this fund until the moment we had legal permission to print the book.
2. The publisher, Leonard Allen, gave his glad permission on February 22! As Harold opened this precious e-mail, he literally yelled to Enid to come read it and share in the joy. We had prayed for this gracious letter for months (perhaps he was checking some copyright ramifications of this procedure). We did not absolutely need his legal permission until the moment we go to press.
3. Vittorio Vitalone, evangelist in Rome, had already proofread the book two times. Even so, he urged sending the manuscript immediately to another well-read believer for final checking before we go to print. The marvel is that he was available to help at this time. God had a special blessing in store for this brother too. We did not need money or legal permission, until we really had a book to print.
God brought us all together for this task from two different continents and Christian backgrounds. Obviously, the mechanics of the job are still ahead, but the Lord is in charge of that too.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Update for January 2007

Mid-Winter Rally in Germany. ?Simply splendid? describes our reaction to our yearly family retreat with other Europe Christian workers, gathered from France, Germany, Kosovo, Albania and Italy in a youth hostel near the German border with Luxembourg. Mark Scott from Ozark Christian College used the parables of Jesus to teach on the surprisingly Upside Down Stories of God.? His wife Carla led the music, blending the old and new in great hymnology. Other local workers led in the prayer sessions and workshops. Al and Val Cinnamon (Emett, Idaho) and other workers with them guided the children?s program. Each day representatives from three European areas presented ?Five Things to Pray for my Country.? Everyone divided into six small prayer teams and took notes to pray pointedly for each need.
How should we pray for Italy? Two provocative quotations address questions for which we ask your prayers for Italy:
1. ?A divided church, by its very nature, warns the world against its own Gospel.?
2. ?What kind of human being are we producing by the kind of Gospel we are proclaiming??
You may know of the unity efforts among Churches of Christ in Italy; you could imagine another issue: the impact of practical Christian living. God is more interested in creating new human beings in His likeness and who will act like Him, than He is about people who go through the forms.
For too many church members, the Gospel had more to do with getting into ?the right church.? It had little to do with changing their personal, family or social life. The message they thought they accepted has not transformed their families into ?a little colony of heaven.? Among church members, husbands and wives fight, perhaps more subtly in public, but they crudely shame their children showing them little respect. This badly hidden hypocrisy weakens the credibility of the Gospel?s claim to transform the believers into ?new creatures in Christ?. They claim to follow the Gospel, but their home life is indistinguishable from that of worldly people. In some cases, it is plainly inferior to that of some unbelievers!
No wonder Paul urgently required Christians to ?make the teaching about God our Savior attractive? (Titus 2:8, 10; see also 1 Timothy 5:14; 6:1). Paul chose the normal word for ?embellish, adorn, and beautify? (kosmo) from which comes our word ?cosmetics?. This is no mere ?gilding the lily? (beautifying what is already lovely). Godly living exalts the true beauty of the Bride of Christ. Then curious bystanders can begin to believe that the Christian Gospel has the power to make an impact in the family, transforming lives into works of art in God?s hands. They sometimes miss the truth because of the shoddy packaging.
The true Gospel creates human beings in the image of Christ. Anyone who has accepted a sectarian ?gospel? that is reducible to a merely intellectual exercise in doctrinal purity, but that does not transform his/her family, has accepted a sectarian version of the true Gospel. It does not matter whether it came from their ?one true church? or not; it still distorts God?s truth, besmirches its beauty and blocks evangelism.
Please join us in prayer that we may all, as the Lord?s servants, address these questions, helping everyone to see how the kind of human being our Gospel creates, affects evangelism, builds families and churches.
What kind of human beings are you producing by the kind of Gospel you are proclaiming?