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UAE Winter 2012

Undisclosed Location January 3-13, 2012

The team will take part in a conference the first weekend that is led by Chris Bosson. The rest of the week will be spent meeting with pastors and doing pastoral training in the evening.

Follow along as teachers in the field offer their experiences as they share theological training with local church leaders.

Field Notes   UAE Winter 2012

Jan  11th,  2012Last night's Teaching

Last night we offered an extra session on biblical interpretation.  More people came than we expected and they were very interested in how to apply the Bible to their lives and ministries. I began the time with a discussion of how we must pay careful attention to context (context is king!) when we look at any passage of Scripture, and I talked about some of the nuts and bolts of observation and interpretive questions.  Ben did a good job of walking them through how to apply the meaning of each passage to our present situations.  He mainly focused on helping them to do their application in a responsible way.  Then Ben also put in a good word for expository teaching and preaching as the meat and potatos (shawarma and fries here in UAE) of the church's healthy diet.  Finally, Joe competently walked them through an example of how to observe the text, ask the right questions and apply a passage of Scripture.  They had lots of questions and our session spilled over into the scheduled session by 15 minutes. 

Our final session on God-centered Living went well.  We talked about being God-centered with our money and in suffering.  It has been a joy to be here with these brothers and sisters.  They have been very appreciative and hope to have others come to do something like this again.

Many thanks to those of you who have been praying for us!

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Jan  9th,  2012Monday Teaching Complete

It's hard to believe, but our time in the UAE is quickly coming to an end!  Our third day of teaching is now complete.  After Chris' very helpful and thorough lectures on the truthfulness and reliability of God's Word on Saturday, we moved to on to consider Scripture's authority and sufficiency on Sunday.  While it didn't seem that many had considered these ideas or their implications in much detail before our meeting, it was so encouraging to see them receive this teaching with eagerness.  After showing these things the Bible, their response was the perfect object lesson of what we were teaching: they received the Word with gladness and thankfulness!

Tonight we considered what differentiates a man-centered Gospel message from the God-centered Gospel message we find the Bible. Any presentation of the Good News of Jesus Christ that doesn't put reconciliation with our holy God as the foremost benefit of salvation has missed something essential. We fail to give Christ the glory He deserves if we present the Gospel as a means to gain various gifts (eternal life, freedom, forgiveness, etc) rather than seeing that God's greatest gift through the Cross is Himself!  That is, God's greatest gift through the Cross of Christ is that undeserving sinners would be granted glorious access and fellowship with the all-knowing, all-powerful, majestic, all-wise God! 

Tomorrow morning we will have another opportunity to explore some of the sites here in the UAE. We will then conclude our time tomorrow by teaching lessons on biblical interpretation, personal stewardship, and remaining faithful through suffering.  Please pray for us that we will be rested, faithful, and effective in our last day of teaching these fellow believers who have already become quite dear to us!

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Jan  7th,  2012First Encounters

It is around 9 am Sunday morning here.  Most of us are awake.  It is somewhat difficult to sleep in since the first call to prayer happens around 5:45 each morning.  Who needs an alarm when there's a mosque about a block from us?  Chris and I went for a run this morning.  It was very refreshing.  We are preparing for our sessions this evening and waiting to go out to see some of the city.  Please pray for us.

Chris did an incredible job yesterday.  He spoke for several hours over the doctrine of inerrancy.  It was encouraging to see how receptive and engaged the people were.  Chris balanced well using technical terms, but explaining them in a way to drive home his main point.  The Bible that we have today is trustworthy.  God has revealed Himself to us through Scripture, and we can be confident that His truth has been faithfully transmitted.  The people were grateful for the material and excited to attend the sessions over the next 3 evenings.

I had a brief, but interesting conversation with a Filipino lady who came to the lecture.  She had asked Travis if he was Joe Meyer.  He directed her to me.  She asked me a question that many have also in previous places I have visited.  She asked if I was related to Joyce Meyer, a popular Bible speaker and TV preacher in America.  I smiled, said no, and might have included the word "fortunately" in my response, too.  Having been asked this question before numerous times, it was not a surprise.

I share this encounter for one main reason.  TLI trips require that we read "Reaching and Teaching" by David Sills.  The book is VERY good.  I have tried to get it into the hands of my supporters and friends who are "missions-minded".  I believe that if its content is taken seriously, the way in which missions is viewed and practiced will change dramatically for the better.  It is no wonder that globally the Church is as theologically weak as it is when our methods are as shallow as they are.  In one portion of the book, Sills discusses the role of theological education in the missionary task.  One reason it is essential is the constant presence and advancement of heretical teaching.  Not only are there false gospels, but the religions of many areas also often influence how believers practice their faith (syncretism).  It is only by consistent, Biblical teaching that these pitfalls can be avoided.

Case in point, the conversation I had with the Filipino lady yesterday.  Reflecting on that, it is clear that theological education is greatly needed at home and abroad.  The devil is not passively sitting by hoping that people are not equipped in the truth of Scripture.  No, instead he is actively seeking to devour people and whole Churches through heretical teaching.  If believers around the world are going to be so easily exposed to false teaching (whether it be via TV, radio, internet, or literature), then our efforts ought to be tenfold to see the truth of the Gospel preserved.  I join Sills in affirming that no longer can we neglect theological education and teaching believers to obey ALL that Christ commanded us but still think we are seeking to fulfill the Great Commission as Jesus has commanded.

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Jan  6th,  2012Church in Dubai

This morning (after a few precious hours of sleep) we had the joy of worshipping with our brothers and sisters at the United Christian Church of Dubai.  It is encouraging to see a thriving community of Christians in this fascinating country.  We've passed the world's tallest building a couple of times now (if you haven't seen it, its the one in the new Mission Impossible movie), and we've enjoyed some Middle Eastern cuisine. 

Tomorrow Chris will begin our time in Al Ain with his talks on the reliability of Scripture.  Then the rest of us will follow up the next few days with our classes. 

We are excited to be here and look forward to how the Lord will work in our own hearts and among the brothers and sisters we've come to serve. 

For now, it is time to catch up on some of those lost hours of sleep.  Keep us in your prayers!

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Jan  3rd,  2012Preparation

After prayer and preparation, the team heads out tomorrow.  We will also meet up in France and then fly together to Dubai.  Thursday night we will be picked up by someone from United Christian Church of Dubai and then go to church the next morning.  The elders are going to take us out to lunch afterwards!

On Friday afternoon we will head down to the Oasis Hosptial where we will spend the next few days teaching and learning.  On Saturday Chris leads an all-day seminar on the Inerrancy of Scripture.  Then on Sunday-Tuesday the rest of team is teaching material from The Bethlehem Institute's God-Centered Living cirriculum.

Pray for us.  We will keep you updated as the trip progresses!

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