MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son. That whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

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God’s gift to us…His son. The greatest gift of all. Have you recieved Him as a gift in your life? And have you recieved him in every area of your life?

May God bless you richly in the new year to come.

With prayers that you will accept the gift of God’s son into your own life this new year…The Ronchi Family

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8SaX7ubTx4

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

[CHORUS]
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

[CHORUS]

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

[CHORUS]

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

[CHORUS]

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

40 Year Anniversary

The Modugno church celebrated their 40 year anniversary this Sunday. It was a great occasion to praise the Lord for all He has done here in Italy through this church. It was fun to look back at the past and see pictures and videos of the church building, the church leaders and the church members. It was amazing to see how God has fulfilled His promises and how far he has brought the church. In the Psalms, David is often reflecting upon the past and what God has done for Him. In Psalm 77, for example, he says, “5 I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” and again in verse 12 “12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” It is incredible to see how the church has grown in number and in maturity. It was a great celebration of God’s goodness and man’s faithful dedication to serve Him. Looking back and seeing God’s faithfulness was David’s key to keeping faith when he was going through difficult times. And it should be the same for us. So, this Sunday was a wonderful celebration of God- of His faithfulness, His church and His people! Praise the Lord for He is good!

Why I love Christmas

I must admit that I love the holiday season- starting with Thanksgiving and wrapping things up on New Years day. I love reflecting on all the things I have to be thankful for at Thanksgiving time, and I love starting off the New Year by reflecting upon my victories from the last year and my goals for the coming year. But why do I love Christmas?

Once a year my husband and I celebrate the anniversary of our wedding. In realty the date which we celebrate is fairly arbitrary since we have 3 actual “wedding” dates. We got married legally on one day, had our marriage ceremony in America another day, and had our marriage celebration in Italy yet another. We have chosen to celebrate our anniversary the date of our actual wedding ceremony- May 18. Why? To remember the significance of that day. Our anniversary is a chance to remember our wedding vows, to make an extra effort to show each other how much we love each other and how thankful we are to be able celebrate our years together. Shouldn’t we do this every day? Sure. Of course! But do we? Honestly, no. Things are busy, life is filled with appointments, work, meetings, kids, family, our kids activities, friends, etc, etc. and more days than not we do not celebrate our marriage intentionally. Our anniversary, on the other hand, is a day we set aside for one another. It is a day that we pause, that we rest from all of our busyness, however good and wonderful it may be, and that we take time for each other. We tell each other we love each other, we give each other extra attention, we give each other gifts, we make things right that need to be adjusted in our relationship, we make commitments for the next year of our marriage together. We celebrate our walk together. It is a beautiful opportunity, not to be taken for granted.

I have heard many say, “I don’t celebrate Christmas because we should celebrate Jesus every day- not just on Christmas.” But the truth of the matter is that we do not. We are often so occupied with our busy lives, even our busy lives of service in church, that we do not take the time to meditate on Christ, on his birth, his life, his death and his resurrection. It is a lot like the example of my anniversary. I love my husband. I try to show him every day that I love him. I try to spend time with every day too. But our anniversary is still precious. It is precious because it is that chance to step back from everything else that calls our attention and dedicate ourselves to each other. Christmas is that. It is the chance to place our eyes on Jesus- because most of the world stops on Christmas, and it is a holiday from work and we have a pause from our busyness, it is that chance for us to stop and reflect upon the life of Jesus.

The most beautiful thing about Christmas to me is the reminder that Jesus came- that He lived. It is easy for me to live and experience the Lordship of Christ. I live it every day- his sovereignty, his omnipotence, his omniscience, etc. But sometimes it is harder for me to remember the humanity of Christ. I love these verses in Hebrews:

Hebrews 2:9-14 “But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.’…’Here am I, and the children God has given me.’ Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death… For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted… Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Christmas reminds me that Jesus lived- that He was fully human, and that because he lived, he can truly empathize with everything I experience, feel, and desire in my own life.

I love to take the opportunity to slow down on Christmas and to be thankful for the gift of God’s son. The most precious gift that ever was and that ever will be. It is through this gift, it is through the sacrificial gift of God in giving his son, that my sins could be forgiven. Christmas is the chance to thank God for giving his son for me. It is the chance to celebrate John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” For God so loved me, that He gave. For God so loved you, that He gave. He gave his son on Christmas day so many years ago…His son became flesh, and lived among us. The son of God lived every temptation, discouragement, trial, and frustration that we live so that he could be our great high priest. His son came to die, on a cross, and then raise again from the dead, so that WE MAY LIVE! And that is why I love Christmas. And the beauty of this particular day is that not only do I take the time to slow down and reflect upon the gift of God’s son, but so does much of the rest of the world. Christmas is a unique opportunity to share the love of God for us- to share the love of God with your friend, your neighbor, your co-worker. Because on Christmas people are just more open…they are already reflecting upon the true meaning of Christmas, and this I believe is by God’s design. It is a precious opportunity to share with those who maybe normally would not want to come to church, or to receive a Bible verse, or to hear you share about who Jesus is. We had the opportunity once to invite a family of another religious heritage over on Christmas eve. It was an amazing opportunity to share what Christmas is, and through that to share the gospel!

I hope that you will take time to enjoy this Christmas. I hope you will celebrate it with all your heart. I hope you will use the opportunity to share with those who are close to you the love of a God who gave…

Let it snow

IT’S SNOWING! Yeah!

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I love the snow…in fact I have even been praying for a little of it this winter.

I love how the snow covers over everything and makes everything white, clean and beautiful. Our yard could be a mess, but when it snows you can’t see all the disorder. Everything is white, clean and new. Isaiah 1:18 says,
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

I love this image. Just as the snow makes everything white, clean and beautiful in my yard and on the streets and on the rooftops, Christ makes us white as snow with his sacrifice. The Cross hides the mess of our sins under the clean white layer of the snow of his sacrifice. And we are, in Him, white as snow.

SUBMISSION

Submission is not a very popular word these days, right?

Well, I had the honor to teach the ladies of the church who are in a leadership position on the controversial subject of submission. It is a subject that I LOVE and I enjoyed the chance to share the heart of God for marriage and submission with this great group of women!

Preaching in Andria

Sunday Gianluca was invited to preach at a small church in Andria, a nearby city. It was a great opportunity and things went beautifully. God is working here in Italy.

We also had the privelege to host a very special gentleman this last weekend. He was a blessing to the church leadership while he was here and we look forward to seeing how God will cross our paths again. And I, Carli, had the honor of translating the service for him on Sunday- my first time translating a sermon! =)

God is good and He is working!

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The 5-8 of December our church had the honor of hosting a unique event in its kind. This event was dedicated to the use of media in the church- how to produce a short, communication, how to use the Italian language, internet, videos…how to communicate the gospel through this powerful and useful tactic that reaches this generation!

Things went wonderfully and we are so thankful that church is beginning to see the usefulness and potential of this powerful tool and getting behind those who have the gifts to use it!