Friday, January 30, 2015

A "Heart On The Table" Night

Class was exceptional last night. We finished working through Philippians 1, concentrating last night on the primary thrust of the letter, Philippians 1:27-30. There's a way to live that is required of us as kingdom citizens. It's not enough to just talk about living for the Great Commission. Talk really is cheap. What we are talking about is obedience–not saying you're living for the mission, but really living for the it.

Friends, I want to share something with you. It's not a braggamony. It's not information for the sake of telling you what kind of an amazing teacher I am or anything like that. Believe me. God has to be at work down here, in and through me, or nothing I say means anything. My speech is not eloquent. My Spanish is not perfect. I'm younger, once again, than most of the students in the class. But I'm amazed at what's happening. I'm amazed at what God is doing in this class. I walk away each night with the greatest joy because I can really see God working in the hearts of the students in this class. Last night we had what one of my professors used to call a "heart on the table" moment. You all know that it's impossible to pass my classes without praying together. We pray together as a class each night in groups of two and three. It's a little different with "heart on the table" nights. With those kind of nights, I leave the students alone with the Lord. They spend time right there with the Lord. They can pray short prayers, they can pray long prayers. They can sit there in silence and ask the Lord to search their hearts. They can confess any sin if they need to or they can dedicate an area of their life to the Lord where he hasn't had the reign that he deserves. "Heart on the table" nights are opportunities for the Lord to work right then and right there in the minds and hearts of the students. Last night was one of those nights. I wish I could describe for you what it looked like last night. I wish I could put into words just how the Lord worked. The thing is, what the Lord did was for the most part unseen. I could see some of the effects of what the Lord was doing, though. I could see the tears that were shed. I heard the expressions of thankfulness for the cross. I saw the smiles as students walked out of the class. I received the hugs that were "deep" hugs, not the "hey, what's up, how ya doin'" kind of hugs; I'm talking about hugs after you've just had an encounter with the Lord and all you can do is give someone a big hug because God's done something in your heart. It's hard to put those things into words. I don't know how the Lord will use last night in the days, months, and years ahead. But I know something happened last night. I know last night will be one of those unforgettable classes. I have a whole handful of "heart on the table" moments in my head. I can think back to those classes where God pierced my heart, challenged my walk with the Lord, or put spiritual Neosporin on an open wound and patched me all up. Those classes are special. I hope this will be one of those for each of my students here in Peru.

Yesterday's Trip To Miraflores

Lesly and I went down to Miraflores yesterday and met up with one of our friends from North Carolina. Willie used to be in the youth group that I taught back in the day. It was so nice to see him. It's been just a week shy of four years since we all last saw each other. Seeing old friends in the Lord is such a blessing. We walked around. We talked about what's been going on in our lives, what the Lord's been doing, etc. After four years, there was lots to talk about. We grabbed some food at one of the restaurants downtown. I opted for the lasagna. That's right. Lasagna at lunch, overlooking the Pacific. Sounds crazy, I know. But it sure was delicious.

After hanging out with Willie, Lesly and I decided to just sit, relax, talk, and take in the view of the Pacific. The last time I looked at the Pacific I was living in El Salvador. I guess it was 2011 or 2012. Nothing beats those times, though, when I lived in Los Angeles, watching the sunset at Venice, Santa Monica, and Zuma. Sitting up on the cliff and looking out over the Pacific here in Peru is super nice, though. The world's a big place. That's a big body of water. And the Lord upholds it all by his powerful word.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Found: Lima's Copy Of The Polyglot

Lesly was doing some research for me earlier and found the info about Peru's copy of the Complutensian Polyglot (might be another one down in Arequipa, but we won't be heading that way). Apparently it was stolen/borrowed (but not properly check out) by Chile during a war/battle, or something like that. In 2007, some 3,000+ books were returned to Peru. Included in the books that were returned is the Polyglot. We can't figure out if it includes the whole set (volumes 1-6) or certain volumes. But it's pretty cool to know that they have one here. We'll be downtown tomorrow, so I think we'll swing by and see if we can get a peak.

Class Is Going Strong

I'm loving the opportunity God's given me to be here in Lima at SEL. What a privilege to be here and be showing some of my brothers and sisters in Christ just a little of what's been entrusted to me. There's no glitter falling from the sky or anything like that. I'm just showing the students what I do when I study the New Testament. From where I'm standing the class looks like it's one of my favorites ever. Who in the world would have ever thought that I would be teaching in Spanish? It's evidence that there is a really powerful God and he does really amazing things with really ordinary people!

I can't believe that this week is flying by so fast. I feel like I walk into class, and like a flash it's 10 o'clock already. I keep asking myself, "How did the time go by so fast?" You know, these students are super engaged. They are making amazing observations, asking amazing questions about the Greek, etc. Whoever got them going in their Greek studies, honestly, they did a really good job. I'm impressed! Big time! They are reading from their New Testaments in Greek, they know their vocabulary, etc.

For every single one of you praying for us, thanks so much!!! It means a lot. I can see God working in all of us through this class. This is one of those John 4 moments. I had to come to Peru. It absolutely had to happen.

Out On The Town (Part 3)

Lesly and I went to a Catholic church this morning, too. It is one of the most famous churches in South America, and it has a beautiful art collection. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed inside (flash or no flash), so I wasn't able to take any pics for you. The highlight of the tour we went on was undoubtedly the catacombs underneath the church. As we walked through the catacombs, you could hear the mass taking place above us. It echoed through the times corridors of the catacombs in a very eerie way. It used to be a very popular thing to have your remains laid underneath the Catholic church. People felt they were closer to God and to eternal life if their bones were placed nearer to the crucified Christ, the virgin Mary, and the holy sacraments. Tens of thousands of femurs, thigh bones, and skulls are stacked underneath the church. Take all the Catholicism out of it, when you see skulls on top of skulls a thousand times, you can't help but realize this life is not forever. A last breath awaits us all, and then eternity.

While we were downtown, Lesly and I checked out the changing of the guard ceremony of the Palacio Nacional. The architecture is so similar to Madrid's. The ceremony was different though here in Lima. No horses. Madrid had horses. Musical instruments (drums and horns). Madrid had neither. Etc.

Out On The Town (Part 2)

Lesly and I grabbed lunch downtown this afternoon. We walked around the centro, checked out the architecture, saw some of the sites. We went over to the historical archives office for the Franciscan priests also; I just wanted to check and see if they had a copy of the Complutensian Greek New Testament. I couldn't identify one in their records. But they probably have one, if you ask me. Unfortunately, the books are falling apart, uncared for and exposed to some pretty wild elements, including sunlight, with no regulated temperature. Imagine having 25,000 books, about 20% of them from the 16-17th centuries and no way to really keep them protected more than they are.

Lunch was delicious. Seriously, Peruvian food is some of the best food in the world! Find an authentic Peruvian restaurant wherever you live and go there this week! You won't regret it, I promise.

Out On The Town (Part 1)

Lesly snapped some pics of me today out on the town. We stopped off to get some Starbucks before heading downtown. When we got to the downtown, we found this archaeological site that is active. The architecture dates back to the 17th century. It was really cool to see how they did patterns on the floors back in those days. The really nice homes had pebbles laid in patterns on the floors. We also got to see the butcher shop. They knew it was such a place because of the remains found there. What was interesting is there were holes in the craniums indicating that they ate the brains of the cattle. Yum, right?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Class Was Great!

Last night we had our first session for Greek Exegesis of Philippians. The students are great. There are eight students in the class here in Lima. Each one of them brings so much to the class. They are serving in a variety of different ministries. Some are married, some are single. Some from the city, some from outside the city (traveling a pretty long way just to be in the class). In order to get to know everyone, and for everyone in the class to get to know each other better, we did some introductions last night. That time was critical. These students are in my heart. They've been there for almost a year now. Of course, I didn't know their names a year ago or what their faces looked like. But they've been in my prayers since I first knew that we'd be coming to Peru. Meeting them is sweet. It's such a pleasure to meet someone that you have that sort of investment in their lives. Praying for people you haven't met yet. Paul knew a lot about that. He had never met the Colossian believers, but he said that he didn't stop praying for them.

The students and I had dinner around 8 o'clock together. It was a special time of hearing about their ministries and bits of information about Peruvian culture. I loved it. Later in the evening we started looking over the "The Ten Exegetical Steps." It's important for us to know what we are actually doing when we come to a passage in the New Testament. What sort of information is relevant to us? What type of things are we trying to discover in a passage? Tonight we'll finish up this review of the exegetical steps and we'll jump into Philippians 1. I appreciate your prayers. Keep them going. Pray for my voice too. So far, so good. I taught last night without any raspiness. But remember: I've got eleven more days of 4+ hours of teaching, back-to-back. Six of those are going to be in place 11,000 ft. above sea level. If you're interested, I've uploaded a couple of videos to the ALGNT YouTube page: (1) Trip to Peru (Part 1), and (2) Trip to Peru (Part 2). Part 1 shows you a little of what the campus looks like and where we are staying. Part 2 is a short clip of me teaching last night.

And what would one of my posts be like without some pictures?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Getting Ready To Board For Lima

Riding The Train In ATL

All Aboard To ATL

Lesly Is Relaxin'

In The Terminal

Great Commission Shuttle Service

Beautiful Wife, Check!

Bags, Check!

New Testament, Check!

Getting Ready To Walk Out The Door

Viewing Some Of Harry Sturtz's Personal Resources

While I was up on the Lancaster campus last week, I got to view some of Harry Sturtz's personal resources. My friend Jerry brought them to the TLC so that I could take a look. The really cool one was seeing Sturtz's personal copy of Hoskier's two-volume work on Revelation, including personal notes inside. Thanks, Jerry, for bringing them all to campus. Very cool!