Revival Recap

July 30, 2007

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Last Sunday morning, I sat upon a rock overlooking Lake Isabella and wrote in my journal that I had hardly ever been as excited at the outset of something as I was as the first day of Revival 07. On Monday morning, I read Psalm 74 which says, “Yet God my king is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.” I remembering rereading this verse as we sang “How Great is Our God” that night and praying that the Lord would work salvation at camp that week.

He did.

Revival 07 was a spiritually exciting week, and I am thankful to the Lord that I was able to be a part of it. Yes, kids got saved, and it was thrilling to see kids pass from darkness into light. Also, I was encouraged by the zeal and growth I saw in many of the kids at the camp who were already disciples of Christ.

Pastor Mike Fabarez spoke each evening from the story of the rich young ruler. Clearly, his clear presentation of how to get eternal life impacted the kids, but his teaching also influenced me. It challenged me to put everything on the table as I consider the future and what I want to for God with my life. I do not know where he will direct me, but I want to be ready and willing to go wherever he leads.

I also believe that it goes without saying that Revival 07 was a super fun week. My team (the blue team known as the “Pain Train” pictured above) ended up winning the team competition for the week. Watching them execute our skit so well was a highlight of the week for me. Their effort and diligence in memorizing their memory verses was also encouraging to me.

Everyone at camp received a shirt that said “Revival ’07: the dawning of a new day.” As I left camp, I was thrilled to think that this great week was only the dawning of a new, bright, and glorious day of eternal life for many of these kids. The excitement of new life does not end with camp, and I have enjoyed following the youth group through their comments on blogs and Scripture at Godsong Music’s site.

While it’s true that I already can’t wait for Revival 08, I am eager to see what the Lord continues to do in the lives of these students during the next year!

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Revival 07

July 20, 2007

This afternoon I’m taking off for Lake Isabella until next Saturday to be a counselor at Revival 07–the summer camp for the high school group at Compass Bible Church. Needless to say, I will not be blogging.

I’m psyched out of my mind for this camp. First, this camp will be so fun that it will surely go down as the funnest week of many of these high schoolers’ lives. From dawn til dusk and beyond, the campers will be engaged in some form of fun activity or another, from team games to meal times to worship to tubing on the lake to hanging with friends to Starburst poker.

Second and most importantly, I eagerly anticipate what the Lord will do at this camp. Pastor Mike Fabarez will be teaching the campers all week from the story of the rich young ruler, and I am sure that the Lord will use his skilled and solid teaching to work in the hearts of these kids. I’m expecting people to get to saved. I’m confident that those who are seeking the Lord will grow this week.

So if you remember, please pray for Revival 07 this week. Hopefully I’ll post about it when I get back!

Prayer–Just Do It

July 17, 2007

Over the course of this summer it seems as if I am hearing a sermon on prayer every other week. Dan Dumas, an associate pastor at my church, spoke once in our college group about prayer and another time at a Bible study on Dawson Trotman emphasizing his prayer life. My brother Bobby is preaching a series on prayer in his high school group, and I have heard two of those messages.

Dan Dumas made his intended application very clear in his sermon. “The point of this sermon is not to get you to go read a book about prayer,” he said. “I don’t want you to go home and study different verses about prayer. I want you to go home and pray.”

I am glad he said this because I know how easy it is for me to go think about prayer without actually praying more.

In his message this last weekend, Bobby went through a few verses about the prayer life of Jesus. He is often getting up early and going off to a quiet place to prayer. Scripture even mentions him continuing in prayer all night.

Often times I have read these passages and thought to myself, “Well, he was God; he didn’t need sleep like I do.” This thought is both a lame excuse and bad theology. I should be thinking, “If Jesus was God and spent this much time in prayer, how much more do I need to be spending time in prayer?”

No amount of time spent studying about prayer can ever replace time spent alone with God. And the more you talk with God, the more you enjoy talking your Father. And as you spend this time communing with him, you only grow more and more excited to see him face to face.

The Egypt Chronicles, Part 6

As the sun began to rise upon the town of Luxor, PC and I were awakened at 4:30 AM by the first call to prayer of the day at the local mosque. This loud call would be the first of five that day, and devout Muslims would flock to the mosque each time. However, PC and I rolled over and slept for a few more hours before waking up for our grand tour of the West side of the Nile across from Luxor.

The day before we had arranged a tour of the west bank through Magdi, our hotel owner, that would take us to the Colossi of Memnon, the Valley of Kings, Hatshepsut’s temple, and the Valley of Queens. Our tour fare covered our entry to all these sites, an English speaking guide, and taxi service.

We enjoyed a breakfast of bread and eggs with a Canadian named Ed (he had a great accent, eh) before venturing outside to meet our taxi. Expecting to find a standard, old, blue-and-white piece of work, a new, black Toyota Corolla with a sweet interior pulled up to take us across the Nile.

As we drove through fields upon fields, you would not have known that we were only a mile away from desert. After a few minutes of driving through this agricultural land, we arrived at the Colossi of Memnon, our first stop of the day. The Rough Guide says, “This gigantic pair of enthroned statues originally fronted the mortuary temple of Amenophis III, once the largest complex on the west bank.” The temple has since been destroyed, but nevertheless, these ginormous statues are impressive.

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Our most interesting stop of the day was certainly the Valley of Kings. Remember the pyramids? While they are magnificent, there were not the best idea the Egyptians ever had. Nothing tempts a grave robber more than a huge monument that screams, “Here I am; rob me.” But the Egyptians got smarter. This Valley of Kings was a secret burial place for many ancient pharaohs. This method protected but tombs a little better than the pyramids, but still only one tomb (King Tut’s) kept its treasure until the twentieth century.

We visited three tombs, and each was fascinating, colorful, and hot. The intricate designs give amazing insight into the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. Also, I had to force myself to imagine these tombs filled with treasure as they were before they were robbed. Let me tell you, grave robbing must have been a very lucrative profession. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the tombs.

In the valley next to these hidden tombs sits the temple of Hatshepsut, the only woman to ever reign as Pharaoh. In order to legitimize her position, she claimed divine parentage and was usually depicted in masculine form. Here we are imitating the statues of the temple.

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And this is PC, Abi, and Whit showing off at the top of the steps.

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The last stop on our guided tour was the Valley of Queens, which houses the tombs of high officials, royal children, and—you guessed it—queens. In one of the tombs we saw a mummified human fetus. After finishing here, we traveled back to across the Nile to Luxor. We ate an afternoon meal and showered at the hotel while catching up with another IBEX group that was now staying there before going to the train station with Magdi.

While we were waiting for our train to Aswan, I was able to chat with Magdi a little bit. Originally from India, he started his hotel in 1992. He has slowly expanded it ever since while also expanding his family (4 boys and 1 girl). From the couple days I was able to know him, I quickly could tell that his life was wrapped up in his hotel, his family, and his religion; he was a devout Muslim who went to the mosque five times a day. (Yes, that means that while PC and I were rolling over at 4:30 AM, he was at the mosque.) Here is our group with Magdi.

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We spent the rest of our third Egyptian day traveling and enjoying great conversation. When we arrived in Aswan, we quickly hailed a taxi to escape from the horde of hotel owners that hounded us as we got of the train. With the help of the Rough Guide, we found a hotel to our liking that even had a view of the Nile. After three days of intense travel, our day to sleep in had finally come.

Time to Explore Luxor

July 7, 2007

The Egypt Chronicles, Part 5

When the day had dawned and the night train has stopped rolling, we arrived in the city of Luxor, which is more commonly known throughout history as Thebes. Outside of what we had read in our Rough Guide and what we had heard in Todd’s lectures, we knew little about the city we were about to explore.

We did know that our first order of business needed to be finding a place to stay, since we would not be leaving Luxor until the next evening. With the help of our Rough Guide, we had selected a couple good possibilities, including one hotel named Fontana. Immediately as we walked off the train, we were greeted by a man named Magdi, who just so happened to own and operate the Fontana. He gave us a free taxi ride back to his hotel, and we quickly decided to stay there. Magdi would become an important character in our adventures.

After taking our first showers of the trip, we laid out our plan (with the help of Magdi) for the next two days. That day we would explore the temples and museums of the East Bank (of the Nile) on our own, while the next day we would investigate the temples and tombs of the West Bank. So we gathered our cameras and set out on rented bicycles for day one of our Luxor adventure.

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I must admit that riding bikes through this Egyptian town was one of the highlights of the trip for me. As we made our way to the Karnak Temple, we cruised down the main street the parallels the Nile River. As I looked to my right and saw the Luxor Temple and then to my left to see the vast Nile River, I thought to myself, “How cool is this?”

We finally did arrive at the Karnak Temple with directional help from a few locals. This temple spreads across 65 acres of land is the best preserved temple in Egypt. We saw nothing of this size or magnitude in Israel. Here is a shot of the front of the temple.

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The Pillared Hall stands as the most impressive architectural feature of the temple. 134 columns fill this hall and would have supported a massive roof in the ancient times. This ruins of this temple were impressive enough; I cannot imagine what it must have looked like in its old splendor. Here is Whitney amidst the forest of giant pillars.

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By the direction of Todd’s Egypt Guide, we found a few carvings in the temple with biblical implications. Here we are in front of Shishak’s city list, which lists the cities Shishak conquered as he invaded much of Israel during the fifth year of Rehoboam. This is mentioned in 1 Kings 14:25-28 and 2 Chronicles 12:1-12.

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After leaving the Karnak Temple, we made our way back into Luxor and ate lunch at McDonald’s before checking out a few museums. We found the Luxor Museum to be much more user friendly than the museum in Cairo. All the artifacts had clear labels, and the museum was well organized. The most impressive items in this museum were two mummies, one of which is possibly is Ramses I. I still remember one of these antique corpses having a very vivid facial expression. Sorry, no pictures were allowed. We also visited the Mummification Museum, which had a mummified crocodile on display.

By the time we finished scoping out the museums, we were all ready for naptime. The nap was great—except for the few minutes PC were awakened by a loud call to prayer at a mosque down the street.

After this refreshing oasis of time, we set out for a more relaxed evening around the Luxor Temple. The Luxor Temple is very similar to the Karnak Temple—lots of pillars and statues—but observing it at night gave it a different feel. Here is a picture of the front.

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Inside we explored, took pictures, and even ran into another group from IBEX. Here we are having some fun with the old self-timer.

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We left the temple and rode across the street on our bikes to a restaurant called Snack Time. While inside the restaurant, you could have easily felt like you were in America, with menus in English and smiling teenage employees in uniform. PC and I taught them how to make Coke floats, and our group sat up on the fifth story rooftop that overlooked the Luxor Temple. We enjoyed the good ice cream and excellent conversation before heading back to the hotel so we could rest up for a second day of adventure in Luxor.

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The Egypt Chronicles, Part 4

Our adventure in Egypt introduced me to many things. I experienced life on my own in a foreign country for the first time—no professors were guiding the way. I saw amazing things like the Pyramids. I tried some new foods (but not too many.)

Also, I rode a real train for the first time in my life. Yes, I did not need to go to Egypt to experience this, but it was in Egypt nonetheless that first made my way by rail.

Train travel (like most kinds of travel) turned out to be not that exciting. Since it was night, there was nothing to look at out the window. Nevertheless, I still found my first train experience interesting. The four of us were put in a room with two Egyptian men. Both spoke good English, so we enjoyed talking to them for a bit. One even had some questions about Christianity, so PC spent some time sharing the gospel with him.

Before too long, all of us felt the need for sleep. The four of us had had quite a day, and it had started at 3:45 AM Egyptian time. However, trying to sleep in the train car proved interesting. Our seats barely reclined. PC eventually stretched out on the floor, and the girls split the three seats on their side of the cabin. I was seated with the two Egyptians, so I tried to make use of my backpack as a pillow, and that worked…for a while.

After about four hours of sleep I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. And for those of you who know me, you know that me plus being tired plus traveling plus not being able to sleep plus an optional side of McGriddles equals interesting times—I feel sick. To complicate things, vacant bathrooms proved to be exceptionally hard to find on this train, so that added some suspense to my early morning experience. Thankfully, I ended up feeling alright and even got some more sleep before the end of the train ride.

That morning as I sat on the train feeling sick to my stomach, I felt like I had never been in such a foreign experience. I was so far away from everything I knew and was comfortable with. I was on a train traveling deep into the heart of a strange country. I was surrounded by people speaking a foreign language and practicing a different religion. I had no way to contact anyone outside of that train, and there was nothing I could do. I was far, far away from my comfortable bed on the Moshav, and even that was fading farther into the distance.

It was this morning that Psalm 139 became the Psalm of Travel/Study Break. In this Psalm, David stresses the omniscience and omnipresence of God, and he says, “If I ascend into heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” I have never made my bed in Sheol, but that morning I felt like I was as close to doing that as I could be. David also says, “Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” Even though I was in the strangest place in my life and nothing felt normal, God was still there, holding my hand, and leading me on.

By this time our trip was starting to take shape. We would spend the next two days in Luxor, followed by a day in Aswan, followed by a day in Abu Simbel. We did not have all the details filled in yet, but that was the beauty of our Travel/Study trip. Next time I’ll post (with pictures) about Luxor.