Having just spent a week in Tuscany with Jane for our 28th anniversary I've been flooded with so many thoughts and emotions. However due to Facebook, I've been neglecting posts here with daily posts there and photos, but need to get back to blogsville. :) I'll be posting photos here from Italy and remember you can always click on them for a "bit" larger 1024 version.
Reading the history of the Roman Forum (shown partly at left) and the interesting concept of the Vestal Virgins this morning, I'm reminded again that before Christs arrival, men tried very hard to create gods to fill that empty void in their lives with religious practices and sacrifices. Some honest , some very sick, but all, as the Hebrews were following, not following and following again Jehovah; waiting for Yeshua Messiah. While on the other continents of the world, men were as well seeking to fill that void with whatever made sense based upon their cultures, upbringing and personal moralities.
We sure see Americanized, NIV Christianity from CBN,TBN,GOD,ETWN and our denominations differently than the rest of the world sees it and views us. For us it appears to be pretty clean cut. With rules, regulations and exhortations on how each denomination see's it's believers to play out faith. Annually creating themes and slogans and bullet points and, and, and ways to grow "our" church while our neighbors continue to be lost, hurting and we turn the care of the homeless and widows and orphans over to the state. I wonder if God would or will bless the church ever again enough financially to take care of the widows and orphans if we had the passion and vision and leadership to do it? Or does God know mens hearts and would we just say "wow, what a super natural crop, I think I'll build bigger barns to hold it" and start a new building program with it... Forgive me Lord for I am part of that problem. Change begins with revelation so reveal to me and convict my heart till I do something Lord other than write, point fingers and talk about it like the pharisees were so great at.
With that said, I'm reminded of a couple obscure paintings I found in old basements of underground churches in Sienna that reminded me that the church has imho become focused to inward with the exception of missions trips. (I think many western missions trips should be re-named anyway as something more western like vacationjesus tours). I don't take away from the fact that just about every American who goes on a mission trip comes back changed and with a greater sense of how blessed "they" are to be living here, and now want to do more, but when I think of missionaries over the centuries, I don't think of bus trips to drop clothes off in foreign lands. I read the other month from a foreign missionary in Africa that the poor and so many of the villages live each day, week and year waiting and viewing calendars for the various denominations and churches to come feed them and cloth them for a certain amount of weeks a year when the weather is best and then leave for another year.
Thank you God for those faithful to live and serve amongst the people, to be living salt and light, teaching and mentoring life skills to those less fortunate, backed by the greater church.
So what was the good smaritan. What was their religion, their passion, their giftings, their motives. I love the other person walking away in this picture. Is this the traditional church or the heathen? I also love the ass in the background that shows that the Good Smaritan was on business and took time out to go out of their way to help. I was also fascinated by the background landscape which looks almost Spanish Western. What a painting, and to think it was about 10feet wide and 5ft tall many floors down in a dark room of an old monastery seen by very few. Talking with a friend this morning about this painting, he asked me, "if you are the good smaritan there, what is the question that the hurting person is asking you right there, and what are you gonna do about it when you get up from there, climb back on your ass to do your business and then get off your "donkey" down the road?
I think I'm gonna start by going to go look for my old 5 yr business plans to build bigger and better barns when the crops come in. ie: houses, cars, toys.