WOW! What a life-changing time of study, learning, growth, friendship, community, walking, coffee, and fun! There is NO possible way I can (or should) give you a drink from the fire hose of what God did in my life in ONE blog entry, so I'm just going to unpack little by little what God did in my life from time to time here at Cup O' Joe with Bill. I'll include some fun pictures and some specific learnings... let's just say I will never read the Bible the same again. [Above: Investing in another day of study/prayer/worship at The Garden Tomb—right outside Jerusalem's Old City walls and right next to what was believed to be Golgotha (the place the Bible says Jesus was crucified). The Garden Tomb was so peaceful—even during times that large groups of believers from ALL over the world came to worship (in every imaginable style, tongue, and culture). The Garden Tomb quickly became one of our favorite places to study.]
We flew out of O'Hare to London's Heathrow Airport. We flew through the night (hardly getting any sleep) and when we landed, we had about seven hours before our next flight to Cairo, Egypt. So Dave and Rennie Garda and I—operating on pure coffee (yes... from Starbucks) and adreneline—jumped on "the tube" and headed out for a few hours of exploring London. Though we were tired, we were energized by the adventure.
We left London and arrived in Egypt to stay with a friend of a friend who lives and works there. The next day we promptly went to see the pyramids (what else would we do?)—and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the world-famous museum in Cairo (no cameras allowed in the museum). The next day we met up with some more friends from around the various parts of the world and—together with them—drove across Egypt's Sinai desert into the most southern part of Israel. (I did lots of thinking about the forty years of wandering in the desert that the children of Israel did... simply because they rebelled against God. All that hot, barren desert inspired me in a new way to want to obey God : )
Though we arrived in Jerusalem at a very late hour, once we were settled, there was only one thing we could do: walk 45 minutes to Jerusalem's Old City and spend some time in prayer at the Western Wall! (It must have been the caffeine... or perhaps my child-like sense of adventure... I'll let you decide.) The small visible portion of the wall (see picture above) would have been the foundation of the temple in Jesus's day. My experience praying at the wall almost every night of the study sabbatical was surreal and somewhat emotional... as I came to tears the first night during prayer. [Above: I'm on the far right.]
If you're going on a study sabbatical, you gotta have study tools. Here's a picture of Team Cadre's study tools we collected before and during our study sabbatical—from top left to right:
The Holy Bible... both Old and New Testaments. A Cadre Sabbatical Study Guide—complete with maps... created by Dave Garda. A map of Israel—one side was modern day Israel and the other was Jerusalem in Jesus' day... our constant companion. With Christ in the School of Disciple Building by Carl Wilson—the no-longer-in-print-gold-mine study of Jesus' strategy of making disciples who made more disciples who made more disciples, ad infinitum. (Try to find and read this book... it's a rare but possible find.) New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus: Insights from His Jewish Context How to Walk in the Footsteps of Jesus and the Prophets (Figure out where you are in Israel... look it up in this book... and it will tell you the various biblical stories that happened there! I LOVED this book and constantly referred to it on our sabbatical adventure.) John and Jamnia: How the Break Occurred Between Jews and Christians (Purchased in Israel for $5!) Listening to the Language of the Bible: Hearing it Through Jesus' Ears The Rise and Fall of Alexandria was my text for Egyptian history. VERY readable.
In addition to the right tools, I had the honor of experiencing this study sabbatical with GREAT friends... and that makes ALL the difference... because Ministry IS Relationships. [Above: Dave Garda, me, and Rennie Garda... take a moment to sip a latte inside the Old City of Jerusalem... and process what God was teaching us that day.]
Thank YOU so much for reading... and stay tuned for another study sabbatical reflection... and maybe even some video clips!