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Jordan 28th November, 2007

Posted by Scotty in JUC, Travel.
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For our last field study we spent 4 days in Jordan (9th-11th Nov) exploring the land on the East of the Jordan River. Today, it’s a separate country, but in the time of the Bible it was considered part of the Land of Israel. It was made up of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Underneath that were the enemy lands, Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites. It was a pretty great trip!

Lower Gilead: Jordan was stunning. Here’s a pic of one of the many beautiful and fertile valleys we saw as we drove through Lower Gilead on our way to Gadara (where we stopped to have lunch looking down over the Sea of Galilee) (more…)

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Finals Week 26th November, 2007

Posted by Scotty in JUC, Musings.
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Too much work!

I’m in Israel (it’s not got tired saying that yet)… and it’s finals week!  It’s such an odd feeling knowing that I have only 5 days left here before this chapter of my life is closed.  I’ve been here for a nice amount of time.  It’s been 3 months now, and I’m ready for a break from the work while being left with a real thirst to come back here.

I’ve managed to pace things well, even allowing myself a week off to hang out with Brian and Mark, and so I’m sitting comfortably at my desk working on the final paper of the semester, and doing some final study for my last two exams.

I must be growing up.  It sure is interesting to watch people running around stressed as they try to get everything done.  There’s the group of people who leave things to the last minute, and so are doing a series of allnighters in the hope that they get all their papers finished by the deadline.  There’s the group of people who are only here for the ride and so shrug off the finals more concerned about the experience than about what they could have learned.  There’s the group who are annoyed with themselves because they have been telling themselves all semester that they should have already started on the work for the end… because… they do this to themselves every year.  And then there’s me… who for the first time is sitting comfortably with time to blog, because I’ve managed to plan well this semester!  As I said, I think I’m growing up.

The beginning and the end have always been really reflective times for me.  As I start something, I am always aware that God is leading me into a new chapter of my life… and as I draw to the end, I find myself reflecting on the lessons that God has been teaching me, and looking to the “what’s next”.  It’s a good practice that tends to keep me from blundering ahead aimlessly and always has my eyes ready to see where God is working in my life.  Hence things like this blog, where I attempt to highlight some of the things I find God doing around me.

So here I am, at my desk, pleasantly relaxed and enjoying working on my last paper.  I find myself again working in a different manner to the people around me, which I tend to put down to the amount of time I’ve been privileged to spend in full time ministry as opposed to the people who are here continuing on with school.  But it’s more than that, the difference comes down to a philosophy by which I have grown to live my life:

to do whatever God wants, whenever He wants it, whatever the cost.

Which takes different shapes and forms at different times.  (more…)

Flights and Stuff 20th November, 2007

Posted by Scotty in Church, Family, JUC, Multnomah, Travel.
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For those of you who are interested, here are my plans for the next couple of months:

  • Israel:
    • Israel FlagNov 21st: Physical Settings Final;
    • Nov 27th: Arabic Final + Jewish Jesus Paper due
    • Nov 28th: Christian Communities Final + Paper due
    • Dec 1st: Leave Israel
  • Dubai:
    • UAE FlagDec 1st: It’s been 2.5 years since I was last out in Dubai to see my family and friends so I’m making the most of the fact I’m close and going to spend to weeks in Dubai. It should be a good chance to spend time with my family and also to rest up from this particularly busy semester! Expect plenty of blogging!
  • Scotland:
    • Scotland FlagDec 15th: It’s back to the homeland to see family and friends, jump back into church, and get busy with fundraising. Anyone fancy helping???
  • USA:
    • USA FlagJan 8th: It’s gonna be fun to arrive back in Portland and see my friends there! I have a busy few days ahead of me when I arrive as I have a couple of meetings to organise my schedule and reorganise my academic plan in light of my semester in Israel. Term will start on Jan 14th and so hopefully I’ll be able to get everything done that week!

Been and Gone 20th November, 2007

Posted by Scotty in Blessings, Friends, JUC, Me, Rest, Worship.
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Mark, me, and Brian at MasadaThe guys are away back home but what a great week it’s been. I pretty much took the week off school, we rented a car, and then headed out to let them see this amazing land. It was one of those weeks that was hugely tiring because of the combination of sun, messing around, hiking and driving most of the day but it was worth it. Brian and Mark left me tired but incredibly rested… and thirsting to get home and see the things that have been morphing within Re:Hope.

It was good to have them enter into this experience in my life and to give us that “common experience” which I’m sure will fuel a lot of our talks and plans in the future. It was equally great to watch them interacting with people on campus and see how in even a small amount of time they can be used to impact people. I’ve had guys on campus mention at various times “I wish I could have spent more time with them”.

(more…)

My first visitors 13th November, 2007

Posted by Scotty in Friends, JUC, Prayer.
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Brian & MarkOk… so… I’m excited! A few hours ago Brian & Mark arrived in Jerusalem to spend a week here hanging with me and getting to see God’s land. I love the feeling when my worlds collide. There guys are two of the most important guys in my life and so it’s a wonderful blessing to have them here.

It was funny collecting them from where they taxi dropped them off. In the few minute walk from Jaffa Gate (one of entrances into the Old City of Jerusalem) to the school campus I found myself rhyming off names of places, pointing out lights in the horizon that mark the towns around us, explaining the history of the city, the walls that stand and the hills upon which this city is built. I guess you never fully realise how much you have learned until you start to explain it to someone else.

I’m looking forward to this few days. I will enjoy spending time with these guys that I love and watching them interact with my new friends at JUC. I’ll enjoy getting to revisit some of the sites I’ve been to and get that wonderful feeling where the knowledge you’ve learned gets put to use as I give them a mini Physical Settings trip around Israel. I’m by no means an expert but it will be fun to see just how much God has been teaching me in my time here. My soul burns to stay here longer than this one semester to learn this land well. This is the first academic environment I’ve been in where I’ve looked around and thought “I’d love to stay here and teach this stuff!” For now, I know the direction God is leading me and that isn’t it, so I’ll be content with the time I’ve had and relish any chance I get to be back here.

Please pray for this time:

  • that it would be a time of encouragement for the 3 of us as we spend time together
  • that it would deepen our love for God and for each other
  • that the people on campus would be drawn closer to God by being around these men who dearly love the Lord.
  • that it would be restful to my soul to take time off of school to hang out with them
  • that I would make sure I take the time to get any homework done that I have to
  • that Brian & Mark would meet God here in profound ways, and that they would leave here with a deeper longing for God and a better understanding of His Word.

Starbucks, Jordan 8th November, 2007

Posted by Scotty in Blessings, Family, Friends, JUC, Me, Musings, Travel.
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Starbucks, AmmanIt’s strange just how much this coffee-chain has come to mean to me. Tonight I sat in Starbucks in Jordan and what an amazing time of reflection it was! Starbucks has been a place I’ve hung out for the past 7 years and so contains a lot of fond memories. There are a few things that come to mind every time I go to a Starbucks store, but it’s completely hightened whenever I visit Starbucks in a different country. Here are some of my Starbucks thoughts:

  • Friends: I have spent a lot of time with friends and developed a lot of significant friendships over coffees in Starbucks. Whether it’s Exchange Place or Byres Road in Glasgow with my University or Church buddies, Dubai with Stuart or Nikhil, Edinburgh with Wendy, Justin & John Paul, Portland with Justin, Monica & Colin… Every time I step into a Starbucks I’m reminded of how blessed I am to have these friendships is my life.
  • My mentor: For years I had prayed that God would lead me to a godly man who would mentor me as I walked the road I was called to. 3 years ago about this time of year I met Brian and God’s hand was instantly upon our friendship. In the space of the 3 years he has become such an important figure in my life. God has worked through him, inspiring me, filling me with a burning passion for God’s Word and for Prayer, and pushing me to my limits in service. In Starbucks we have spent hours talking about the Bible, praying, and listening as God spoke words of encouragement to us through one another.
  • My Church: God placed Brian and I together to get Re:Hope off the ground. We have spent I don’t know how many hours in that store bringing Re:Hope from an idea in the back of Brian’s mind, to a “real church”. As the church was developing, Starbucks was our office and the social spot for much of our church’s activity.
  • My Calling: In Starbucks, Glasgow over coffee with Brian, God was slowly clarifying the calling He has placed on my life, and it was here that I first heard the name Multnomah. So… from Starbucks, Glasgow… I have moved to America to pursue my M.Div, finding refuge in my favourite resting spot… Starbucks, Portland. And through my time in Portland I am able to be in Israel studying this semester, taking me to Starbucks, Jordan.

It is little wonder that I find so much joy in finding my way to a Starbucks store and taking the time to reflect on how God has used that place to affect my life and no doubt the lives of many other people in the world. I have lost track of all the Starbucks stores I have visitted: in Scotland, England, Poland, Dubai, Oregon, Seattle, Ohio, New Jersey… and now Jordan (and I’ve probably missed some!)

So… In completely surrending my life to God, through “randomly” meeting Brian, God has called me from Glasgow -> Portland -> Israel, and this is just the beginning of my adventure. I can’t wait to see what God has planned next!

I guess the big question is… are you willing to surrender your life to Him and see where He leads you?

The Prayer Commission 4th November, 2007

Posted by Scotty in JUC, Prayer.
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Every Friday night at JUC we have a Shabbat Dinner where all the people on campus get dressed up, and the chefs pull all the stops out and cook up something great. After Dinner we have what are called “vespers”. These are short worship services and usually organised by a different person each week.

manypray.jpgI knew I was leading this week and so for the past month I had been quietly feeling out God’s will for the service. My was feeling that it should be simple: a few songs, and some guided prayer. I have been somewhat frustrated around here at the lack of passion that I sense in the area of prayer. Sometimes, what I’m seeing is someone who loves to pray pushing it aside as they prioritize wrongly, putting socializing and school higher up on their list. I felt it important to create an environment where people would pray.

I have coined a phrase that I have been using repeatedly (well, multiple variations of it). It’s something like this:

If it cost a million dollars to pray everyone would want it; but because it’s free we don’t.

And so God led me to an evening that both encouraged and challenged people to remember the price that has been paid in order that we could have it for free! We started with a few songs to facilitate people coming into God’s presence. The songs were chosen to allow them to lay their sin before God and “get right” so that He would hear our prayers. Then, with a very mellow iTunes Playlist in the background we began to pray.

With the Acts commission in mind we prayed for “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth”. Using that theme of increasing size we all split off into small groups and prayed for four areas:

  • Personal Prayer: sharing some fears, worries, joys… and then praying for one another.
  • JUC: praying for the school, the staff, students past/present/future, direction, finances, protection…
  • Israel: for this country and God’s relationship with it, the politics, religion, evangelism…
  • the World: particularly focusing on the spread of the gospel, the call for new labourers, and for any missionaries we know stationed around the world

(more…)

The Galilee 27th October, 2007

Posted by Scotty in Bible, JUC, Travel.
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So, I recently spent 4 days in “the Galilee”, which was a fun but tiring trip. It was the last of my Israel field studies, and so  I have now officially been “from Dan to Beersheba”, the biblical description of the length of Israel (eg. 1 Kings 4:25). This week we leave Israel and head across to Jordan to explore the tribal inheritance on the east of the Jordan River, including the land of the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites! But before I go there, here are a few pictures from “the North”:

Caesarea on the coast

Caesarea: This is a Roman city built on the coast. There was no natural port here and so they built one. The sea was a frightful place to the people of the Bible, representing trouble and chaos, and so was not the sort of place Israelites liked to settle. A theatre was built right on the coast looking out over the Mediterranean to Rome, reminding the people of Rome’s dominance, and setting performances to the terrifying backdrop, the Sea, the domain of the god Yam.

(more…)

The Baggage Saga Almost Over 17th October, 2007

Posted by Scotty in JUC, Travel.
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epa0671l.jpg So, we’re close to the end of this Baggage Saga, and I have to say, I’m extremely disappointed with the customer service department of Israir.

We have had no contact from the airline, they don’t answer their phone, or respond to their messages, faxes, or emails.  And so 2 weeks ago Monica and I headed to Tel Aviv to their office to try and get things sorted.  Although no progress were made, we were reassured that they would be in touch.  And told that if we wanted to speak to someone in the meantime, to fax, or to email and they would return our call “immediately”.  After numerous emails and faxes, it was time to pay our third visit to Tel Aviv.

The girl who dealt with us last time gulped as she saw us walk in, and then tried to fob us off with the “oh, you didn’t receive my email” line.  Considering she has both of our email addresses (correctly stored in her address book) I don’t think she was being very honest.

Upon roughly calculating the contents of our bags, we both decided our bags were worth at least $1000 each (not including a hand-made quilt in there that could be worth that again!).   You can imagine the looks on our faces when we were offered… (more…)

Snapshots of God’s Glory 12th October, 2007

Posted by Scotty in Bible, JUC, Travel.
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For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Rom 1:20)

These words have never been more true to me. Israel is “the promised land”, but what makes it so special. I have only seen a small amount of the land so far and yet already I am amazed at the huge variety within the landscape. In so many of the locations I find my breath taken away by scenery that I would never have imagined being so beautiful. Each spot in it’s own way reflects the beauty of God. What is He revealing about Himself in each of the pictures below?

Jerusalem from the Mt of Olives

Looking west at Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. What makes this place so special that it would become the place where God’s temple is set. The gold dome is “the Dome of the Rock” which is built on the Temple Mount by Muslims to mark where they believe Mohammed ascended. the city is an interesting mix of modern and ancient. (more…)