Sunday night and again Tuesday night I went with Keith to Abundant Life Church in Beirut. He spoke and I sang two songs. The people received me and the songs so graciously. Wonderful young people who wanted to talk about music and worship. Afterwards the pastor took us to another great Lebanese feast that lasted until two in the morning. The Lebanese love to eat!
The Lord is so amazing and so wonderful. He gives us good gifts. He wants to give us good gifts. So often I feel like it’s a stretch to think that the Lord would want me to have the desires of my heart, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. He desires Himself to give me the longings of my heart — he put them there in the first place!
Saturday we travelled to the South to visit some families that Michel and Nouna worked with during the war in 2006. They were amazing and it was so moving to sit with them and hear their view and stories. Lots of Arabic coffee and good, in season, watermelon. On the way down it was fascinating to see all the sights from thousands of banana and citrus trees to the UN peacekeeping troops and vehicles, to the ancient cities of Tyre and Sidon.
The pace has really picked up. Thursday night I taught my first music class at the TOP. We had about twenty people learning guitar and songwriting. I had them all write a song together — it turned out great! May the Lord raise up a new group of songwriters here in Lebanon!
Friday Michel and Nouna graciously allowed me to lead the worship team at the TOP service. It was so awesome to lead in a free environment not worried about singing a song too many times :). The Spirit was there in such a strong way. We sang the chorus from the song “How He Loves” and the love of Jesus manifested powerfully. After we sang “How Great is Our God” there was a spontaneous song that asked for the nations to see how great God is and then moved on to the call from the end of the book of Revelation that “the Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come.'” It was so precious to be leading worship again.
A great few days here in the Middle East. Tuesday was action packed. I went up to the mountains to a ski resort (Who know there was snow and skiing 45 minutes away from the beach???) with Michel to meet a friend of his who was planning his wedding. We went to lunch afterwards at the Intercontinental resort. Unbelievable. It was in a teant outside the main buildings that was set up to be like an old Bedouin camp. The food was amazing. It was a traditional Lebanese feast (my word) with lots of hummus, tabouli, lamb, baba ghanoush, and even raw meat. If you know me this was a stretch, but it was great!
Tuesday night I spoke at the youth meeting at the TOP. I shared on intercession and the imporatance of “standing in the gap” for others before the Lord. This is what He is calling us to do as believers…to grow into maturity. Not be so self-consumed with our needs, our wants, but to stand before Him with the needs of others: believers, unbelievers, cities, nations, all needs that He brings our attention to. I used these scriptures: Genesis 18:16-33 (Abraham); Exodus 32:7-14 (Moses); Romans 8:34 (Jesus); Romans 8:26-27 (Holy Spirit). The youth really went after it. We spent about one and a half hours after that just interceding before the Lord. It was powerful.
Today I am posting from Starbucks in Beirut. Here’s a pic. My friend Ramy is the manager of several here and in Jordan. We’ve had great fellowship today.
Had a hike with Yves today up to the Mar Chaaya Monastery. It was fascinating. If you have time read some of the history. Great workout too.
I posted some pics of that and of the Saj feast we had yesterday. Saj is a flat bread that you cook on a special grill outside (see the PIcs). You can fill it with all kinds of things from cheese to sweet things. It was great!
I also posted some pics of the prayer meeting Wednesday at the Matar’s. They’ve had it for many, many years. It is such a great time with the Lord.
Almost two weeks since I’ve been here. It’s been a great trip and an eye-opening experience. From the first day driving from the airport (Lebanon is like a nation of New York City cab drivers. No attention to lanes of any kind, no attn to stop signs, they only installed some traffic lights four months ago!) to playing tennis today with some of the brothers here on the top of a mountain with the most spectacular views. Everyday is a day of new things. The Lord majors in making all things new. So I think I’m in the right place.
One great thing has also been the ability to video chat with Olivia pretty much everyday. We get home from meetings close to midnight which is 4 pm Nashville time. So we’ve been able to communicate quite a bit — so awesome!! I miss her so much…that’s the hardest part of this so far.
The food has been a new thing as well. I’ve been known to eat a lot of junk in my time and this trip has been wonderful for making a new start on that front. Lots of fruits and vegtables all the time. Not much Diet Coke — lots of water. They do not eat many sweet things which is a BIG change for me. I started running Friday in the way too steep mountains here in Broummana and hopefully I’ll come back a little thinner than when I left :).
We’re going to do an outreach at a Catholic Church tonight. Lebanon has many Catholics and a small amount of Evangelicals (about 30-50,000) and Michel and Nouna have a great relationship with many of the Preists. They go and worship and share and have seen the Lord do some mighty things in those communities. I’m excited to see what it’s like.
I’m going to try and post pretty regularly for the rest of the trip–with some pics and (hopefully) some audio/video.