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  1. Daily, early morning abiding time is the best thing one can do.
  2. I love the Arabic language and people.
  3. People here are among the most willing on earth to have and start conversation.
  4. Anyone visiting the Arab world, should experience an Iftar dinner during Ramadan.
  5. You are never ready for your first cab ride in an Arab city. Just get in.
  6. Must see Jordan: Jerash, Umm ar-Rasas, Mount Nebo, Amman Citadel, Amman Amphitheatre, ‘Iraq al-Amir, Levant Restaurant, Petra, Dead Sea, Aqaba, Chester’s (Le Royal Hotel)
  7. Turkish coffee. Three-quarters through. Stop drinking.
  8. Continuous sweating is the new normal. Embrace it.
  9. I will never fully accept the cultural norm of always wearing full-length pants in 100 degree weather.
  10. Currency conversion math will almost always lead you to believe you received a good price for a good or service. You are incorrect.
  11. The Arab World and various antiquities will change the way you read the Bible.
  12. Lebanese Food. Get some.
  13. Stubborn persistence to practice speaking, reading, writing, and listening to Arabic will lead to fruitful language proficiency.
  14. Government paperwork, bureaucracy, and inefficiency exists all around the globe. (see: Egypt visa renewal process)
  15. Arab children are impossibly cute. And terribly persistent.
  16. The historical remains of Greece and Rome are breathtaking and impressive.
  17. Do not flush your toilet paper. Really?
  18. Hauling luggage through the Istanbul metro and Sultan Ahmet square at the call of Iftar is a challenge.
  19. Approach an enthusiastic offer for delicious chicken dessert from Taksim Square in Istanbul with caution and skepticism.
  20. Must see Istanbul: Kybele Cafe and Restaurant, Basilica Cistern, Suleymaniye Mosque, Büyükada Island (Princes Island Boat Tour), Four Seasons Hotel Breakfast, walk through Gulhane Park, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Asitane Restaurant
  21. Perhaps no more beautiful landform than the combination of water and mountains.
  22. You can love someone deeply, in Cairo, even while walking through unresolved conflict together. But don’t breathe in deeply.
  23. Bethany knows a lot of quality people, and a lot of quality people know her.
  24. Something powerful about an insider and humble leader who consistently and intentionally welcomes and includes a visitor.
  25. Reconfirmation of my admiration for clear, organized, biblical teaching and exposition.
  26. Must see Izmir: Ephesus (Efes), Saint John’s Basilica, beachfront
  27. There is little I looked forward to more than learning Arabic.
  28. Getting on a bus in Cairo? It is normal for them to keep moving while you board; on or off.
  29. Illness upon arrival in Cairo is a rough introduction to an unknown environment.
  30. Thank you Jesus for OTLOB (Internet food delivery application for Cairo).
  31. This year is simultaneously the worst and best year of my life. (losing Mom / finding Bethany, et. al.)
  32. Read license plates. A quick way to recognize Arabic letters and numbers.
  33. Must see Luxor: Valley of the Kings, Al-Deir / Al-Bahari Temple, Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple
  34. Must see Cairo: Giza Pyramids, Cairo Tower, Left Bank / Sequoia Restaurants (Zamalek), Zooba Restaurant (Zamalek), Oswald Chambers Gravesite – F344 – (Cairo War Cemetery)
  35. Tourist destinations in Cairo can teach a person how to negotiate, politely decline offers, and manage one’s patience.
  36. Niceness is not a virtue, but kindness and generosity are. Learn to selectively ignore. Learn from being taken advantage of. Be firm but gentle.
  37. Dwell on the attributes of God
  38. One can both look forward to the start of, and be thankful for the end of Ramadan.
  39. GPS capability in the streets of an urban tempest proves useful. (see: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 – Cairo – Rabaa Al-Adaweya Demonstration clearings / Mohandiseen conflict / Start of military curfew in Egypt)
  40. Soccer in Cairo. That is all.

* I am aware that Turkey is not the Arab World.

To be where you are

November 5, 2013 — 4 Comments

journeyMuch of life is consumed by waiting. Waiting to be united with one’s beloved. To fully delight in a person’s presence. The process of waiting can be slow and lengthy. Sometimes finding the way to unite with one another is challenging.

Our human relationships and built in longings point to an even greater reality. A sacrificial love that is all-consuming, life-giving, and full of truth. Some of us have experienced a fraction of this and crave more. Some of us have yet to find and rest in the one who cares for us more deeply than we can imagine.

Jesus speaking to his closest followers, said, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” He desires for us to not experience the anxiety, emptiness, broken, and lonely pursuits that can consume our lives. Thankfully, Jesus does not leave us without a way to reconcile with God and experience ideal human flourishing, rescuing us from our ruptured relationship with him, failures, and shortcomings. Thomas, asks Jesus, “How can we know the way?”, and Jesus responds, offering himself as the solution: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

When we pour over the words of Jesus and abide in him daily, we will grow in our love for him. Not only this, but we will come to realize just how extravagant the lengths Jesus goes to gather us to himself.

Read John 13:31 – 14:14 and think about the words of Jesus and how you can respond.

Three new passport stamps, engagement to a woman beyond my dreams, countless of thrilling and challenging experiences, military curfews, over a hundred personal interactions, and breathtaking landscapes. Life will never be the same.

Three months go much faster than ordinary when taking a trip of this nature, and in hindsight I would have written a lot more stories to share while I experienced them in real time. What I could not have anticipated, is how many rich experiences would come my way, finding it difficult to catch my breath, nor pausing long enough to fully soak in all that transpired. My return to the United States allowed for a couple days with family, followed by a swift return to work, traveling to Greenville, South Carolina for continued training in my field of database conversion and implementation.

Those of you with access to my Instagram and Facebook feed, surely observed the more picturesque historical settings I encountered, but much of the detail regarding military presence in Egypt, day-to-day activity, grasping and making sense of local culture, language classes, training, future planning, and spiritual conversations remain largely unknown to most of you. Thankfully, I have the highlights of each day documented in the notebook I dedicated for the purposes of this trip. I look forward to sharing stories with you in writing, photograph, video, and in personal conversation over coffee.

Below are some of the visual highlights of the entire adventure:

Jordan

July 16, 2013 — Leave a comment

Following a complete day of travel consisting of flights, self-taught Arabic alphabet lessons, plane meals, and treks around airports, I placed my foot on the ground of Cairo International Airport. On this hazy warm evening, after familiarizing myself with the airport terminal, I ventured to the gate security line in preparation for the final leg to Amman.

Pulling my passport from my pocket, a young Arab gentleman behind me in line spoke up saying, “You are American?”

“Yes.” I replied.

“Welcome.” He greeted, in polite, clear English.

This simple, tension breaking, question led to a wider exchange between him, an Algerian, and myself. It turns out this man is from wartorn Syria, studying pharmacy, and starting fresh in Jordan. Both students, near my own age, continued to engage me in conversation, offering help with Arabic vocabulary and pronunciation until the flight departed.

Our conversation began a week long confirmation of what I had previously heard about Arab willingness for conversation, generosity, and hospitality.

Arabic for the Week

Greeting: peace be upon you (all)

السلام عليكم

(as-salamu alaykum)
Response: and upon you (all) peace

وعليكم السلام

(wa-alaykum as-salam)

Jerash
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Um ar-Rasas
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Madaba / Mount Nebo
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On Father’s Day, your home shall have the aroma of bacon.

AMH

My Father

June 16, 2013 — Leave a comment

imageSeldom do men overcome the conditions, influence, and circumstances of a less than ideal paternal example. Yet, my father, as others have done, wielded the transforming power held and granted to him by his heavenly father to shape and equip our family with an example of godly character.

When I think of my father, I am reminded of years of selfless labor, consistency, and modest lifestyle, yielding constant provision for his children. Stable and unshaken, he is calm and unaffected by the winds of change and anxieties that stir so many.

Undoubtedly, one of the most impactful examples he displayed is the adaptation of his role as faithful husband, into a loving caretaker, bookkeeper, and cook, as my mother’s health declined, presenting continual trials, hardships, and challenges to remain under for six years.

As my mother is in heaven, my affection and relationship with my father grows daily. In recent months, his generosity, care, and steadfastness are more evident to me than ever.

With dedication to abide in the Father, from whom all blessings flow, circumstance transcendant strength from the only source who can supply it, allowed him to establish a foundation in me I am forever grateful for as his son.

If I affirm that God holds everything together, then I’m free to establish a sustainable rhythm as I entrust everything and everyone to God. When I enter into God’s rest, I crawl into bed knowing the world lounges safely in his hands.

Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck

Colossians Study Series

April 27, 2013 — 1 Comment

colossians

If you think the Bible is boring, lacking content, or just plain cannot keep your attention, perhaps you are not reading carefully enough. Alternatively, you may not have not stumbled upon the richness and depth of the book of Colossians yet. Allow the series documents provided below to serve as a catalyst for your continued exploration of Scripture. I trust that you will find a wealth of life-giving truth as you pour through this stellar Pauline letter to the church at Colossae.

Yes, the remainder of the fourth chapter is not completed. If you have your own contribution or insight to the conclusion, I want to see it.

If you have uncovered a particular portion of the text that jumps out at you, please share it in the comments.

Colossians Series Presentation Documents [pdf]

1. Colossians Intro / 1:1-2
2. Colossians 1:3-8
3. Colossians 1:9-14
4. Colossians 1:15-20
5. Colossians 1:21-23
6. Colossians 1:24 – 2:5
7. Colossians 2:6 – 2:15
8. Colossians 2:16-23
9. Colossians 3:1-4
10. Colossians 3:5-11
11. Colossians 3:12-17
12. Colossians 3:18 – 4:1

For deeper study in Colossians:

(Much content and analysis of this study is derived from the expertise of these works, in addition to my own graduate exegetical work at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

Colossians & Philemon: Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament – Murray J. Harris

Colossians, Philemon – Word Biblical Commentary – Peter T. O’Brien

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The purpose of this recipe is to provide for twelve gluten-free, no added-sugar, no rice, no corn—almond, coconut, pumpkin, and coconut muffins. The resulting muffins are purposely not sweet and absent of grains. (If you prefer a sweeter version, you may add agave syrup or honey to the ingredients.)

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Equipment
Measuring cup
Tablespoon / Teaspoon
Mixing bowl
12 container muffin tray

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup organic pumpkin
1 cup almond flour
1 cup finely shredded organic coconut
1 finely diced apple
2 large eggs
4 T almond butter
3 T organic cocoa powder
1 T ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 T vanilla extract
1/2 T cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t baking soda

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
3. Grease muffin pan with ghee.
4. Add mixed ingredients to the prepared muffin pan.
5. Bake for 20 minutes.

chicago_skyline_web

For as long as I can remember, I have always admired quality and precision in design and communication. The appreciation comes not only from a place of inner creativity but from the connection between logic and creativity—structure and order having as much importance as style and elegance.

Design is the first element which intrigued me as a child. Observing architecture, construction projects, invention, and graphic design captured my attention. Engineering projects and structural feats incited wonder. In later years, I saw the value in simple layout and two-color design for print and web to communicate ideas in visually powerful and compelling ways.

Not until my final years in high school, and to a much larger extent in college, rhetoric and communication formed my thought and ignited imagination. I willingly spend time drinking deep of propositional truth and inspirational ideas by means of effective communication through lecture, sermon, music, and video.

As human beings we consume the words of others with our ears and eyes (reading, watching film, listening to a speech). It is the work of our hands that write, draw, direct, form, and build—the projection of our voice to encourage, inform, persuade, and inspire. A clear work of the senses to create and communicate. And it all makes sense that we would imitate the creative power and the awe-inspiring wonder expressed by our creator-God who fashioned the world with his speech.

I write this from Chicago on a crisp autumn afternoon looking forward to attending the Story conference where myself and other like-minded individuals gather for the opportunity to gain inspiration and encouragement through the many ways to experience, appreciate, and share the greatest Story to ever live?