Lauren Roeper and Matt Reis are enjoying Matt’s handlebar moustache that he grew for no-shave November. Actually since that are leading together in Rome, we should call it a "spaghetti moustache"? When in Rome...
Their team serves alongside two ICS teams in the city. There is a CityFocus team gearing up for the next fall as well as another team that focuses on reaching the post grads in Rome. Lauren and two others on the STINT team are there for the 2nd year. (If you count the craziness of last year as a real year.) They feel blessed to serve alongside so many who want to see Italians know the Lord and a city transformed.
One of the things that Matt, Lauren and their team are trusting the Lord for is two thousand souls. They're trusting that the Lord would allow them to meet two thousand new students who would in turn have the chance to hear the gospel. However, one of the hard things in Rome is the Church history. Matt shares, “It's difficult to ask a student to think of God outside of the Church because they have been told for years to think a certain way and they have a lot of ‘conditioned responses.’ Still, it's great to see all the wonderful things the Lord has done and is doing in Rome.”
Since tomorrow we will have tryptophan-induced naps and stomachs full of pumpkin pie (or whatever concoction you can make in your part of the world), I thought we’d look at a thanksgiving passage this week. Colossians 3:15-17 is in the context of living this new life we have in Christ. Three times in this passage Paul writes about thanksgiving – be thankful, with gratitude in your hearts and giving thanks to God the Father. Diving in gives us insight into what makes a grateful heart.
Let peace rule in our hearts. Christ took on the punishment that brought us peace. (IS 53:5) He preached a gospel of peace. (Eph 2:17) He gives us with peace. (Jhn 14:27). We are members of a body called not to strife, conflict or division; but peace. Does peace reign in our hearts? Are we content? Do we lack for nothing? Are we no longer longing for a day when we will get this certain thing or this or that will happen - except longing for the Day He comes for us? A heart that is at Shalom is grateful because we realize we do not deserve anything… except hell.
Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. Dwell… not just be a guest we invite over whenever we have time and a cup of strong coffee. We need to let the word of God, as Eugene Peterson says, have the run of the house. We need to let His Word become a part of us, embedded into our lives where it spews out as we teach it, admonish others with it and sing it… with gratitude in our hearts. We need to ask if our hearts are hard, rocky or thorny toward His word or like rich soil allowing the Word to produce a bountiful harvest for us and those He has entrusted to our leadership. A heart where the Word dwells like this is a grateful heart.
Let the name of Jesus be the framework of our words and actions. Can we really scoff in the name of Jesus? Can we really be sarcastic in the name of Jesus? (I hope I am not right now.) Can we hate in the name of Jesus? Can we just not care in the name of Jesus? Can we serve our own flesh in the name of Jesus? Paul says, “Whatever you do… do all…” And he ends with “giving thanks to the Father through Him”. A heart that lets the name of Jesus be the framework, the boundary, the guideline for his or her actions, is a heart that speaks and acts out of deep gratitude. It is gratitude because we know that we have life only because of Him. We obey not out of duty or to earn His love. We do things in His name because His name is love and life.
Have a Good Thanksgiving.