Wednesday we went to the album release/press conference for top Arabic recording artist Grace Deeb. She is a part of the Tent of Praise and a precious believer. We were in downtown Beirut and there were many photographers and music video people. I don’t know his name, but it looked the Ryan Seacrest of the Middle East was there hosting :). I texted Olivia that I was going to be famous in Lebanon because of all the pictures and videos taken of our table. They even asked my name! It was great fun.
Tuesday Michel took me to Byblos. I love historical places like this. Some consider this to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. The people are even mentioned in the Old Testament as bringing the Cedars from Lebanon to help construct Solomon’s Temple. As you can see from the pics, it’s mostly ruins now, but what ruins they are. The size of the stones…unbelievable. We noticed a Star of David carved into one of the stones, and the Temple refrence makes sense. Anyone else know the story? You don’t see many Stars of David in Lebanon.
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.