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So far, I have absolutely no regrets about coming to Israel. I’m having a blast. IBEX is new and exciting on so many levels. Academically, I get study things that I am less familiar with, so it feels like I’m learning more. Culturally, I get to experience a mixture of cultures as I walk the streets of the Old City. Spiritually, I get to visit the sites where so much redemptive history happened. Socially, I get to hang out with some of my best friends all the time in some really cool places.

We spent all of last weekend in Jerusalem, so I had to hit the books pretty hard yesterday and today. Tonight, we head back to the Old City for another field trip, so the blogging train will so down just a little bit. I’m hoping to post some Jerusalem pics later this week. In the picture above, a group of the guys, including myself, is seeing what it felt like to be dead in an ancient tomb.

In the meantime, check out http://www.ibexsemester.com

There you can see some Jerusalem pics, as well as out group pic.

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Jerusalem

January 25, 2007

“Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers,
consider well her ramparts,
go through her citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will guide us forever.”
Psalm 48:12-14

On Tuesday, my IBEX group made our first trip to the city of Jerusalem for an introduction to the Old City. Thankfully, this trip was only the first of many trips we will take there.

One of our first stops was the roof of the Petra Hostel. From this roof, we could see the entire Old City, the Mount of Olives, and even the hills of Moab on the far horizon. Here’s a pic of the Dome of the Rock from the rooftop.

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Another stop we made in the Old City was the church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is the traditional location of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While the church is not exactly picturesque, it is most likely the accurate location. Being there really drew my attention to what was accomplished at that spot 2000 years ago–the salvation of men. I was forced to think about the glory of the cross that I had heard about at Truth and Life last week. Here’s a picture of my roommate, Patrick, coming out of a preserved first century tomb.

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Another stop we made was outside the Eastern wall of the Old City by the Golden Gate–a sealed gate that would lead to the Temple Mount. This gate is directly opposite of the Mount of Olives, an important location throughout the Bible. Jesus taught his disciples there. Jesus would have walked down this mount many times, including his triumphal entry. Gethsemane is located on this mountain. Finally, this is the mount from which Jesus ascended and to which the Bible says he will return one day. This is a picture of me and Lester, with the Mount of Olives behind us.

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One of my favorite stops of the day was at the ancient Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a lame man. The ruins of the pools were pretty interesting, especially this one large cavern that still contained water under the remains of Byzantine arches. However, the coolest thing there was a church that was built in the days of the Crusaders. Todd, our Land and Bible professor, took us into the church and told us to sing. So we sang in this old church with amazing acoustics. I don’t know if “Be Thou My Vision” will ever sound so beautiful again.

As we wrapped up our day in Jerusalem, we briefly visted the Wailing Wall and the Jewish Quarter before returning to Jaffa Gate, where our day had begun. We will return to the Old City twice in the next week for field trips. I’m psyched out of my mind.

Orientation

January 23, 2007

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Living and studying in another part of the world takes some getting used to.

First, there’s the jet lag. I did not sleep much on the flight to Israel, so I was pretty tired when we arrived at the Moshav. I went to bed around 10 PM the first night, and I thought that I would sleep fine for a long time because I was really tired, and I usually have no trouble sleeping. Yeah, I was terribly wrong. I woke up shortly after 3:30 AM and never got back to sleep. Last night, I took a little advice from my RD back at school and took some Tylenol PM. I slept great. Hopefully, I get used to this whole new time zone (I’m 10 hours ahead of California time) quickly.

Second, there is a new studying/living environment. We were introduced to this by Todd Bolen, yesterday morning. He is my main professor this semester because he teaches my main class–The Land and the Bible. He talked to us about life in Israel, especially life on the Moshav where we live. (You can see him leading us around the Moshav in the pic above.) The Moshav Yad Hashemonah is on a hill about half way in between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The closest biblical site is Kiriath Jearim, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept for almost 100 years before David brought it to Jerusalem. Some of the students (myself included) took about a 15 min walk over there yesterday.

Near the end of our Moshav tour, Todd lead us in to a small concrete room/building that sticks out of the side of the hill (picture below.) This is called to miklat, which means “bomb shelter.” We use this as our student lounge. Not quite Hotchkiss…

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Today, we were introduced to the city of Jerusalem. I’ll blog about that later this week.

I am in Israel

January 21, 2007

Step Onto Liquid has officially gone international.

The IBEX group arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv at 4:15 PM, local time. Then we traveled to our home at Moshav Yad-HaShemonah.

I’m hoping to get a good night’s sleep before orientation tomorrow morning, but the blog is up and running again!

I do not think that I have ever experienced such mixed emotions in my life.

I am deeply sad because I am leaving.  I am leaving my family.  This trip to Israel will be the longest I have ever been away from my parents, and I will not get to see my brothers, their wives, or my super-cute nephew for three-and-a-half months!   I am also leaving behind my friends at school; I will dearly miss seeing them around campus, in the caf, and in the hallowed halls of Hotchkiss.  This semester I will also miss out on an awesome study of the Sermon on the Mount at my Bible Study, Generations.  Leaving all these things that I have come to know and love is hard and sad.

However, I am also so excited that I may spontaneously combust in anticipation of going to Israel.  I am psyched out of my mind out this trip.  I get to travel around the world and experience different cultures.  I get to walk where Abraham, David, and ultimately Jesus walked.  I get to hang out with some great friends who are also going to IBEX.  I get to study in a place that has and will be pivotal in the history of the world.  Going on this world-wide adventure of a semester is new and exciting.

Now I get to go to sleep with these mixed emotions so that I can rise early and catch my first international plane flight.  Next time I blog, I’ll be in Israel.

See you then.

Welcome to My New Home

January 17, 2007

Step Onto Liquid is now at WordPress!

I’m really excited about this new site.  I’ve brought all the 2007 posts over here from Blogger.  If you want to explore the archives, check out the old site.

If you want to know where the idea “Step Onto Liquid” comes from, check out the “About” page.

Make yourselves comfortable.  And stay tuned for future posts.

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I leave for Israel on Saturday, so today I prepared myself for my world travels by purchasing a new camera. Here’s a pic I took of Buddy–the family dog.

Stay tuned to the blog over the next day or two. I’ve got a big change and a big post coming up.

So don’t nobody go nowhere.

Recently I’ve been reading through Genesis with a Bible reading plan from Compass Bible Church. As I read these early chapters of the Bible, the faithfulness of God stands out in big and little ways. We can see his faithfulness on both a broad, historical scale and on a small, personal level.

First, you see God’s faithfulness in the immense context of mankind and world history. Let’s call this God’s macrofaithfulness. The beginning of the story of Genesis is the beginning of the story of redemptive history, which is really world history. We see God’s choosing of a person to build up a race that will someday produce a Savior who will defeat the Curse of the Fall.

Second, you also see God’s faithfulness to individual people. We’ll call this his microfaithfulness. One of my favorite scenes from Genesis is found in chapter 24, near the end the story of finding a bride for Isaac. Verse 63 says, “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening.” Do you ever do this? Do you ever go to a quiet place at the end of a day and think about life? I know I do. Sometimes I think about all the awesome things God has done in my life or the awesome people he has surrounded me with. Other times I might think about things that have happened that I don’t understand or the uncertainties of the future. Isaac surely had a lot to think about. His mom had recently died, and he probably knew that some servant was on a mission somewhere to find him a wife.

It’s at this moment of meditation when he lifts up his eyes “and behold, there were camels coming.” His wife had arrived. This is just one of the many examples of God’s bigtime faithfulness to little people like Isaac, Abraham, and Sarah. They probably couldn’t see the full extent of what God was beginning there, but in their moments of deep personal need when they were concerned about their family or their future, they experienced God’s faithfulness.

So be encouraged to have faith in a faithful God. He is/has been faithful throughout the events of history, and you can believe that he’ll be faithful to you, too.

Facing Fear

January 8, 2007

This morning I had one of those Bible reading experiences where the words seem to jump off the page and slap me in the face. Today those words were…

“Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”

These words come from Matthew 8. Jesus and the disciples are out on the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the storm. The disciples are convinced they are going to die, so they wake up Jesus and try to explain the gravity of the situation. Jesus responds with the question above.

Jesus had just healed a leper, Peter’s mother-in-law, and a centurion’s servant. He deserved their faith. He deserves mine.

I’m leaving for Israel in 12 days, and too be honest, I have some fears about leaving. Most of the fears I have are not about safety, they are more about missing my friends and my family or finding a job when I get back. Reading Matthew 8 this morning was a reminder to me that I don’t need to be afraid. Jesus deserves my faith.

I had a couple other great reminders that I don’t need to fear. First, I listened to a sermon my brother Bobby gave last week on “A Confident 2007” from Psalm 27. He says that the presence of the Lord drives away fear and enables us to face our fears.

Second, I looked through some ancient blogs I’ve written and seen moments like this where I have had fears about the future. Here’s a section of one of them:

“All the driving near the end of the trip gave me plenty of time thinking about the future. And just like the nightime road, the future was dark, and I really couldn’t even see five weeks in front of me. To be honest, I did not like that feeling; I was scared of what might lie ahead. But these times helped me consider the Lord, for he holds the future in his hands. I knew that I could cast my many cares upon him, because he remains the same, and he will lead me by quiet streams and green pastures, and surely his goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and through all the incredible events to come. Amen.”

Get to Work

January 4, 2007

Congress is back in session today, and the Republicans are no longer in control.

The Democrats officially take control of both Houses of Congress as the new term begins. It will be really interesting to see what they do with their first 100 hours.

Also, President Bush wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal today encouraging Congress to “use their time well.” He pushes for a balanced budget that eliminates pork and excessive government spending. More and more I’m realizing that eliminating government spending always seems to be the goal of the minority party; the majority seems fine with spending big.

Anyways, pay attention to what happens here at the beginning of the new term. Before you know it, it will be election season again.

I’m off to Orange County and Corona for the weekend. Enjoy the blogosphere.