Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Back in the Saddle (or in this case, pulpit) Again!

Riding an elephant--not the
fastest transportation I've
taken, but certainly some of
the coolest!
Well, it's been a good long while since I've posted, and much of that time I have been out of the state and out of the country.  The last full weeks of July were spent in Chiang Mai, Thailand, teaching for the Asia Biblical Theological Seminary.  ABTS is a graduate school of Cornerstone University offering American-accredited Master's level degrees to church leaders throughout the region.  My students included U.S. missionaries, an Australian missionary, leaders of ministries within four tribal groups in northern Thailand, a Thai pastor, and students from Pakistan and Bangladesh.  Through ABTS, I was able to assist leaders in countries and groups I will never visit personally, but who are training literally hundreds if not thousands of others.

Jim and Karen Blumenstock
I taught "Spiritual Formation," a class I teach on the undergraduate level at Cedarville, which meant a different kind of preparation--making the class appropriate for those who would be teaching this to others.  It was a delightful two weeks on many different levels.  I spent time with our own Jim and Karen Blumenstock (and their daughter Ella, who was my elephant riding companion in the picture above).  Jim and Karen grew up at Grace and are sent out to minister by us.  Jim is the Dean of the Seminary, and arranged this invitation for me.

ABTS classes are taught in two week seminar formats, with instruction in English, so I taught every day for
Scott Carroll speaking with 2 attendees
after the seminar, one from US via Ukraine,
and one from Germany
four hours in the afternoon.  A second seminar was offered for four hours in the morning on Biblical Archeology.  Dr. Scott Carroll was the visiting professor there, and an added bonus for me was attending a Saturday seminar on the reliability of the Bible's manuscripts that he gave, sponsored by ABTS and Chiang Mai Community Church (where Jim and Karen worship).  He brought very old manuscripts along, and also some seals that dated from near the time of Abraham.  What a treat to see and actually handle an ancient Torah scroll and a seal from Abraham's day.  I am making plans to have Scott come and make a presentation here at Grace!
Massage time!

The two weeks went so quickly, and were filled with time with my
A Buddhist Temple on the
Mountain above Chiang Mai
students and seeing the sights of Chiang Mai with the Blumenstocks, who were wonderful hosts.  Asian street markets have similarities wherever you go, but one great plus in Thailand is their love of massage--foot massage especially.  That is a custom that I could get very used to, especially at about $3.00 for a 30 minute massage!  Food in Thailand is also very familiar to those who have gotten acquainted with Thai restaurants in the states, although there are many Thai foods that have not made U.S. menus, and probably will not.  And the "heat" factor of Thai curry there is much higher than it is here.
Watching my students write their Final Exam

Following the completion of the class, I flew back to the USA, arriving in Los Angeles for a short week or recovery and vacation with Kathy, and visiting our daughter Rebekah and our grandson, Landen!  Even though I was recovering from jet lag, the easy schedule made for an easier time of it.  And one treat for us
What a cute kid!  Takes after me,
don't you think?
(as always) is visiting favorite California eateries that we don't have back here, from In N Out Burger ("Quality You Can Taste") to Del Taco (so sorry for all of you who only have Taco Bell in your memory) to Rattlers BBQ (barbecued tri tip marinated in their amazing sauce).  Ah yes, it was quite a change from the land of gravy and casseroles.  Our week flew by and we arrived back in Ohio on August 2.

What a joy it was to come back and worship with the Grace family again.  It was a special joy to me NOT to be preaching and to hear one of the finest messages on the process of sanctification and "grace driven effort"  I could have heard.  You should listen if you haven't already, by going here.  Chris Miller "hit it out of the park," and it was the perfect capstone to a ten week consideration of the Fruit of the Spirit.  Thanks to Chris, Stu Olley, Brian Hanson, and Mike Standish for their contributions to this series.  You can find all the audio and video by going to our media link.

And now, I am trying to get back into the swing of things.  We launch a new series this Sunday--actually this message and the next are introductory material to get us ready for the series in the Book of Revelation.  Our first message: "Who's Afraid of the Apocalypse?"  I hope you're not!