Ten things I’ve loved about the Coronavirus lockdown

Coronavirus is scary.   Certainly a few important questions come to mind:

When will it end?   Will we survive? How will we pay the bills? How will I survive the boredom of being stuck inside with nothing to do?

The good news is that God ordered Israel to stop often…not just once a week. There were good reasons for that. Here are a few tips I have come up with from my first week of lockdown:

  1. Spend more time with your children and spouse.
    • Make memories!
    • We played Dodgeball as a family in our small yard.
    • Noah and have time to play Chess
    • We have played FIFA on the Playstation (but not too much)
    • We enjoy cooking together
    • We are praying together (more later)
  1. Get ahead with your reading while enjoying a nice fire
    • Readers are leaders!
    • My goal is 40 books this year! I track my reading with Goodreads.
    • Video courses are good too! Melodee and I are signed up to a thinking course and I am signed up to a coaching course and a course on the book of Romans.
  1. Catch up on sleep
    • Ahhh..the elusive eight hours of sleep!  Its amazing how much better I can think when I take care of my sleep!
    • Enjoy the break!  Trust in God!  Rest is an act of faith in God’s ability to meet our needs.
    • Sometimes our sleep deprivation is not due to an actual need, but to bad choices. Netflix even admits that they’re main competition is with sleep!
  2. Catch up on your housework
    • Put stuff away finally! Or get the kids to put their stuff away!
    • Declutter your life. Evaluate what you have, what you actually need, what you could get rid of.
  3. Care more about those who are at risk with the virus
    • We have several in our congregation that are high risk.  We pray for them and keep in touch with them.  Unfortunately many older people have died because of the indifference of people toward keeping the virus from spreading.
  1. Family worship
    • We had an extraordinary time of worship Sunday as a family. Melodee played the piano, I played guitar, Noah ran the PowerPoint off our TV and Eva stood up and sang her heart out!  Of course the kids enjoyed choosing the songs, and Noah even read us a Psalm!
    • Our kids loved it!  They want to do it again!  I only asked why we had not done this sooner…it took a worldwide pandemic to make this possible!
Technical difficulties
  1. The opportunity to team up with others
    • Daniel and Danilo worked feverishly to get something up for our team.
    • Wednesday night’s test run was incredibly well attended and there was very good interaction.  Danilo’s sister even recorded herself singing along with the worship songs!
    • You can see the service here.

You can join our services too! Click here!

  1. Encourage others
    Make time to encourage others or to show the love of Christ, even to unbelievers. People are more then ever hungry to make sense of all this. They are more than happy to receive a verse of encouragement in a time such as this. Make the most of every opportunity! Ephesians 5:16
    1. Use Facebook
    2. Connect with Whatsapp. Here in Italy most people use this way to send text messages, video conference calls and audio message, as well as Bible verses!
    3. Make a phone call (novel idea!)
  2. Realize how much you love your church
    • Our church people are writing up a storm of encouraging messages!
    • Our people would have been willing to be infected by the virus to spend time together!  Fortunately with today’s technology that is not necessary!
  3. Stop to realize how much you love and need God
    • Get your prayer life and devotional life back on track.
    • Read some deeper books about life. Journal.  Pray.  Meditate on God’s word.
    • Read some puritans, or even better read through the Psalms, or Romans! Or Job!

Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get to do all that you hope to do.

You have to roll with the punches a bit, especially with children, but I guarantee that it will be a memorable time that God can use in your life!

What is your list? Feel free to come up with your own list and share it here!

Jumping in Head First Without Losing Our Heads

Seven things in our life that ABSOLUTELY need your prayers this month.

Psalm 127:1-2
    [1] Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
[2] It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
(ESV)

Yesterday we went to a park with our children to take advantage of the last days of Summerfall (word I just invented to describe our warm October weather).
Noah and Eva have become much more courageous after this summer in America with slides and swings and climbing things.

Cousins at the park

Cousins at the park

Suddenly, I saw Noah, my normally cautious firstborn, do something I had never seen him do…slide head first at rapid descent down a steep plastic tube with somewhat of a drop at the end.  He was proud of himself for stopping before he fully ejected into the unknown below.  You should have seen the smirk on his face!

Mom and Dad were a little less impressed…he has a good brain and we hope to keep it inside his head.  And keeping his new jeans nice for school would be a plus.

Quite frankly, Melodee and I feel a bit the same way about jumping into this fall; maybe you feel the same way.  There are more opportunities than there is time, and we want to be wise about how we commit.  That’s why I’ve dropped everything to write you.  We need backup!

Can I ask you to pray for seven things?

Conference1. This weekend we have a Bible conference to encourage the church at large with the help our good friends of the Italian Theological Academy.

2. Our ministry has gotten really busy already this fall with Young Couples group, Choir preparations, Staff and Church leader training, Preaching, Discipleship, Melodee teaching English and Piano (she already got to share the Gospel in her first English lesson!!).

3. On a personal level we are trying not to over commit with family, but both Noah (6) and Eva (4) are taking a music class and we’re debating on signing Noah up for a sport to help the arches in his feet (at his pediatrician’s suggestion).

4. Thursday I head to Como to have my regular checkup with my oncologist…it’s an all-day trip there and back for a fifteen minute visit, but well worth it!  Pray that I don’t miss any trains and that the appointment will go well.

5. Pray for the salvation of the many people we are in contact with…We share the gospel so often, but there are so many people to reach and so little time!  Pray for Holy Spirit’s work!

6. Pray for us as we are praying about the completion of this church plant and about where God would move us, and that God would provide Italians to go plant the next church with us!  There are so many cities and towns in Umbria still unreached by the Gospel!

7. Pray for good stewardship of time, energy, money and all our other resources!

I know that your time is precious.  Thank you for taking time to read this and especially for praying.  There is nothing in the universe that God uses more than your prayers to do His will in this unreached heart of Italy.

Unreached Umbria

Love,
Jon, Melodee, Noah and Eva
P.S. Have you been on our website lately?  We have made some fun changes!
You also might want to check out Dann and Liz’s cool new website, with a few recipes to boot!

Our first Video Update ever

Mr. and Mrs. WhitmanYou’re probably thinking: “What are you talking about??  You just sent one the other day!

Funny how that works out…
Wednesday I worked for two hours on this video report, then the earthquake happened.

So you received a second video update before the first one.

In this video we share what is going on in our family and ministry life, plans for the near future and important prayer requests.

We hope you enjoy it!

Seven Praises and Seven Prayer Requests

As we get into our fall activities here, I give you a few items to praise God for and prayer requests for you to print out and share with your family, friends and church.

The Whitmans in 2016Praise:
1. No known cancer for two years.
2. Ten years in Italy as missionaries
3. Gospel opportunities coming our way.
4. New Young Couples group
5. Vacation Bible School
6. God’s continued provision.
7. More men being equipped for ministry.

Prayer:
1. Preaching
2. Training men in the church, especially pastors and deacons
3. Health for our family
4. Furlough plans
5. New Young Couples Ministry and pastoral care
6. Evangelism and church planting
7. Salvation of our children and personal/ministry growth.

Thank you for praying!!

 

Pray forever!

[8] And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.                 (Revelation 5:8 ESV)

Did you know that there is no expiration date on your prayers?The Whitmans

In the words of E. M. Bounds:
God shapes the world by prayer.
Prayers are deathless.
The lips that uttered them may be closed in death,
the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat,
but the prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them and prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.

Desperate times call for desperate praying. 
Frankly, the greatest weakness I find in our church and in most churches I have visited in America is not a lack of sound doctrine, but a lack of sound, perseverant and desperate praying.  We are so drawn to Bible study, to testimony time, to singing, but when it comes time to prayer, few stick around.

My mentor, a veteran missionary that I affectionately call Uncle Eric, once asked me: “Do you want to be a part of the problem or part of the solution?”
I want to be a part of the solution.
And I am convinced that if you are reading this, you do too.

The world needs your prayers.
America needs your prayers.
Italy needs your prayers.
We need your prayers.

This week we desperately need your prayers.

  1. Any day now my sister Elizabeth could give birth to their daughter.  Her husband Daniel is the only other pastor here with me at the moment, and he is also in charge of Radio Luce.
  2. Tomorrow morning I take Noah to Assisi to have his adenoids removed.
  3. Two days ago Luigi, a member in our church, was hit by a car.  He has multiple fractures in his spine, a head trauma and a broken pelvis.  On top of that he is usually caring for his elderly wife, who is blind.  Pray for us as we lead the body in ministering to each other, even in times when our own families have pressing needs.

On top of these three urgent prayer requests there are a few more that are on our hearts.

  1. Please pray for our training of leaders.  All we have invested in 40 years of ministry as a family would be for naught if we are not able to equip Italians to replace us.
  2. Please pray for our witnessing, especially in the neighborhood and at Noah’s school.
  3. Pray for the management of our time and resources, especially now that I have taken on the bulk of the preaching.
  4. Pray for our Vacation Bible School outreach this summer.
  5. Pray for my health too. I have a cancer checkup soon and my oncologist is a little concerned over the health of my lymph nodes.  I also have a potential re-do on my hernia surgery.

Desperate moments call for desperate praying. 
America is facing a critical moment in its history.
The world is facing a critical moment in its history.
Our ministry is facing a critical moment in its history.

Together we can be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
Your prayers will forever be a pleasant sacrifice of praise to our God.

Will you join me on your knees?

Love in Christ,
Jon, Melodee, Noah and Eva,
and your brothers and sisters of the Centro Evangelico Battista

CEB people praying

Three more things:
1. Thank you to the many people who contributed to our reader survey!  Your time helps us make better use of your time!
2. We are trying a new format that should be a little easier to print.  Let us know what you think!
3. Once a month hardly enough?  How about joining our Twitter Prayer Hotline or our Facebook Page!