A Fond Farewell

Debbie ShaferIt seems like only last week that Andrew picked David and me up from the Glasgow airport.  I can hardly believe that we have been here for four months.  But these past four months have been fantastic all around.  Looking back, the main reason I went to Geneva College was not because both my parents, an aunt, and three of my siblings went there, but so that I could participate in the Semester in Scotland Program.  I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am that God led me in that direction.  I have learned so much, and seen so much, and made some great friends.  I’ve grown in ways than I could hardly have imagined.  Even in four short months, God has done so much in me through the classes, and sermons, and the people of the church.

We spent our last day here in Scotland at church with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  I don’t think there could have been a better way to spend it either.  While I’m happy to be going home to see family for Christmas and the New Year, I’m sad to leave my new family here.  They have all been so kind and loving and supportive.  After the evening service tonight, we had tea and biscuits as usual and everyone was wishing us well and saying goodbye.  I was in tears most of the night, because it hurts so much to leave.  This place has not been just some place that I’ve been staying, no, it has been another home.  A home where people love me, and care for me, and are constantly praying for me.  The church here in Airdrie is a closely knit family through the grace of God.  It was great the way that they opened their lives to us and welcomed us so warmly from the beginning of the semester.  The questions of the night seemed to be, “Did you enjoy your time here then?” and “so what was your favourite part of the semester?”  Well, the answer to the first is, “yes, I enjoyed it all, immensely.”  The second question is a bit harder to answer, but I think I would have to say the people of the church.  The day trips were great, and I got to see a lot of Scotland during them.  The classes were phenomenal, and I pray that I can retain all that I learned and put it to practice.  But the people in this small church have touched me in a way that nothing else could.

During the church services on Sundays, I have been fed spiritually and encouraged weekly.  Andrew Quigley’s preaching has been such a blessing.  He is so passionate for the work of Christ and genuinely cares that God’s people in the Airdrie RPC get the food and guidance that they need.  The singing of the Psalms is always so beautiful, and the members truly sing with joy and gladness in their hearts.  Tonight, I started crying during the first Psalm (and the second Psalm) because I am going to miss the services and the people here so much.  Everyone is so hospitable too!  Every Sunday after the morning service, someone would have us over for great food and wonderful fellowship.  And boy do they know how to do both!  I learned to appreciate the Lord’s Day much more being a part of this church for the past four months.  It is such a blessing to be able to worship with and talk with fellow believers each Sunday.

Meeting for our weekly METs (Mutual Encouragement Times) in the middle of the week was great too!  The Bougheys were very hospitable, opening their home to us each week (and their kids are adorable!).  And I learned a lot from our studies in Nehemiah and Habakkuk.  It was helpful to meet each week to discuss them because the prophets are usually hard to fully understand.  I especially liked how Stephen so faithfully guided us in applying it to our lives today.

I loved working with the kids at Kid’s Club.  It was great watching and helping them learn about God and what it means to be a Christian.  We only had them for a short while, but I can already see how much some of them have grown.  I will miss them all very much as they have all touched my heart.  It’s sad to think that the next time I see them they will be so grown up.

I didn’t spend as much time with CY (the youth group) as I could’ve, but it was fun when I did.  I appreciate that the church takes the time and energy to continue CY even though there are not that many attendees.  When I was growing up, my church didn’t have a youth group since there were only three of us who would have been in it (awkward age difference between the older kids and us).  However, I still think they are very important and think that the leaders are doing a great job here in Airdrie.

Over all, this has been a great semester.  I have made many memories, taken about 2,895 photos (give or take a few), and gained lots of friends.  I’ve grown closer to God and have learned to love Him more.  The end of this semester though, marks the end of a very great chapter in my life.  I am officially done with school.  When I go back to the states, I have to get a job, and plan a wedding, and prepare for the next chapter of my life.  Lord willing, I will graduate on May 9, 2015, and David and I will get married on May 16.  My time here in Scotland has helped prepare me some for being away from home long term, and I look forward to what God has in store for me.  I hope to return to Scotland in the future as it has stolen a piece of my heart forever.  I have never liked saying goodbye, mostly because I never know exactly what to say.  However, Billy Boyd’s song for the end of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, “The Last Goodbye”, says goodbye quite

I saw the light fade from the sky
On the wind I heard a sigh
As the snowflakes cover my fallen brothers
I will say this last goodbye

Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away
Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the sea

Under cloud, beneath the stars
Over snow one winter’s morn
I turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

Many places I have been
Many sorrows I have seen
But I don’t regret
Nor will I forget
All who took the road with me

Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away
Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the sea

To these memories I will hold
With your blessing I will go
To turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

I bid you all a very fond farewell

I will miss you all, so much.  You have been such a blessing, and I can’t wait to see you again!  Love you!  God bless!

Debbie Shafer (soon to be, Debbie Beer)

…And Back Again

Ethan Mathews













As I set out to write this final record of my time in the land of Scots, I am listening to the third Hobbit movie soundtrack.  The movie comes out this Saturday here in the United Kingdom, but David was able to purchase the soundtrack early (thank you iTunes!).  I look out my window, and I see the last line of clouds from the storm fade away into the distance.  Today seems to have the theme of lasts.  Last movie, last clouds, last blog post.

In the movie, there is a song that few of us can listen to without tearing up.  It’s called “The Last Goodbye.”  For the Scotland crew it’s the last of an era, the last of a collection of movies that have defined our lives up until this point.  If you have followed The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, you probably understand our feeling.  This movie couldn’t come at a better time.  Tomorrow four of us will be traveling to a movie theatre with an elder from the Airdrie congregation to watch the movie with him and his wife, who have become our close friends.  It will be the last activity we do with them here in Scotland.  When that song of farewell plays, we will all be crying.

I don’t want to go.  I don’t want to say goodbye.  These people here in Scotland have changed my life.  Without their love, their care, their selflessness, their love for Christ, I would not be the man I am now.  I have been challenged in my faith.  I have been tormented by various temptations.  I have struggled and wrestled with the things of God.  Yet, without this congregation, I would not have made it through.  My relationship with God would not be where it is.  On the outside have I changed much?  Do I act radically different?  Have all my desires turned around?  Nope.  It’s hard to change every facet of your life in a few weeks.  Yet, my mind went through a shift these weeks, and it’s all thanks to this little congregation in Scotland.

You are probably reading this thinking, “Okay Ethan, that’s nice and all, but let’s talk about specifics.  What do you mean?”

Since about May of this year, I struggled with the topic of my salvation.  Was I saved?  I knew I was sinful.  But I also knew that I was living a new life, given to me by my Savior Jesus Christ.  How then could I continue to sin?  Were all God’s promises of growing in maturity in the faith, producing fruit of the Spirit more and more, and putting to death sin in every area of life just lies?  Was I actually not saved?  Was it just pretend when I joined the church almost six years ago?  The devil gave me no rest, and my assurance wavered.  As I hopped on the plane to Scotland, I prayed for safe travel, but not without a nagging voice crying out, “Hypocrite!  He won’t hear you!”  But I held onto the thought that had guided me even before I went to Geneva: Jesus was waiting for me there in Scotland.

For a few weeks I learned theology and doctrine, all about the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God.  I also started to read the Old Testament in an effort to read through the whole Bible (I’d tell you the story on how I developed that plan, but that’s another long story).  The books I read encouraged me to work out spiritual disciplines to bring me closer to God.  I heard from Andrew every morning about the destiny of God’s children, found in Romans 8:29: “For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (emphasis mine).  My destiny is to be united to Christ and conformed to His image, and my duty is to work out my salvation with fear and trembling and put to death sin in my life.

Naturally my question that never quite seemed to be answered was, “How???”  How can I possibly do this?  I sin, am bound up in sin, trying to break habits of sin that I had spent twenty years building up.  I cried many nights to God, wondering why I couldn’t break free, why I couldn’t measure up to the commands, why I felt so far from Him.  How?  How can one that is sinful be free?  How can I let the truth set me free, if I can’t even obey to know the truth (see John 8:31-32, 14:15, and chapter 15)?

It wasn’t until Andrew’s sermons through 1 John that my prayers were answered.  In that letter, John writes to the church, which he loves very much.  He even calls believers “my beloved children”.  He loves them dearly.  He is also writing near the end of his life.  These are in the last days, when all the fear of man is gone, all the cares about the world, and the worries about this life are nothing to him now.  He has every right to say to the world, “I am too old for this.”  He has gone through all the trials and outlived all his brothers, the apostles.  Now, he writes to a church struggling for Christ, sharing what he feels is most important for the Christian life.

John starts off by declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the person he touched after He rose from the dead, whom he ate with, whom he saw rise to heaven.  Jesus was eternal life.  John’s authority and reason for caring for the church was in the fact that he had seen Him and known Him.  All the words of Jesus ring in his ears as he writes.  He remembers the words of the gospel book he wrote, specifically that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5).  In the letter, he writes about the light that is God.  He calls the children of God to walk in the light.  Why?  So that they may have fellowship with God and other believers.  John’s purpose in the letter is to get his readers to abide in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Why would this be such a big issue for him that he spends hundreds of words writing about it?  What is so important about abiding in God?  Andrew answered that same question for me by turning to John 13-17.  In these pages, the hope of the Christian, the assurance of salvation, the reason for the love of God, the reason for the love of the Church, the truth of the work of the Trinity, and so much more are wrapped up in these chapters.  The amazing thing is only John records this conversation of Jesus with His disciples in the upper room, the very last conversation between them before He dies in a few hours.  And what is the central point for Jesus, who is so troubled in His spirit He later sweats blood?  His one care is that His disciples would abide in Him, in the Father, and in the Holy Spirit.  Jesus’ whole purpose in His life was to do the will of His Father in heaven (John 6:38).  He prays in the garden “Not my will but your will”.  He teaches His disciples to pray “Thy will be done.”  His purpose and His Father’s purpose are the same: that the children of God abide in God.

This was the missing link.  This was it for me.  How can I be assured that I am saved and will persevere to the end?  Because I believe in this Savior and King and love Him (though honestly very little due to my weakness).

But this assurance was not just from the fact that I believed.  My assurance is in the fact that the King of the universe, that loved so much that He died for a people that hated Him to bring them into His joy — that God-man Jesus loved me.  Who can stand against us if the King of the universe is for us?  Not even us.  That is where my hope is.  That is where the ability to change lies.  Jesus loved us as much as the Father loved Him.  You cannot get any greater love than that.

This leads to another point that I learned in my classes.  Jesus is a King.  We learned the importance of Jesus’ kingship in class through several books about doctrine.  Without the truth that Jesus is king, we have no reason to go out and evangelize, nor do we have the authority.  It was only after Jesus declared that He had all authority on heaven and earth that He told the Apostles to go and make disciple of all the nations.  In His rule we have the foundation for missions (out of country sharing the gospel) and evangelism (in country sharing the gospel).

This doctrine came alive for us when we learned about the Covenanters of Scotland.  Why did thousands of Christians, male and female, young children and old folk, die in those years three hundred years ago?  Why did they give up their lives?  Why were they executed, slain without trial, murdered for merely reading the Bible?  They died because they held that Jesus Christ was King over nations, including the monarchy of their day.  They signed covenants declaring this truth, vowing before God that they would keep to the faith, and that the country would submit to His rule.  This was not a piece of knowledge that divided the church, as some may say of doctrine today.  This was living, breathing truth from the Word of the Living God, the Testimony of the Risen Savior and King, Jesus Christ.  To deny Jesus being ultimate King and to assert that the monarchy of the time was ruler of the church was blasphemy (and still is).  No one dies for an idea or a question mark.  One only gives up their life for something they believe with their entire being.  One does not submit to God alone unless he has faith that is grounded.  A faith built on sand is washed away in the flood of the persecuting world.

I now call these Covenanters my spiritual ancestors.  There have not been any Christians in my family for generations.  I cannot look back and say, “My great-great-grandfather went to this church” or “my great-great uncle helped this woman come to faith in Jesus Christ, then married her, and they had so many kids”.  My family is a first generation Christian family.   I have no ancestors of the faith.  But since I am Reformed Presbyterian, and since the Reformed Presbyterian Church descended from the Covenanters, I now call them my spiritual ancestors.  It is my hope that I can follow in their footsteps and uphold the doctrine of Christ’s Kingship.

There is so much more, but I will leave that to the personal conversations.  To Christ alone be the glory, forever and ever.

Ethan Mathews

The Long Journey Home

David BeerThe journey has been long, and the road has not always been the smoothest.   Certain portions were difficult, while others flowed calmly like a quiet river.  There were times when I wondered why I was on this trip or whether I should have even come, but in the end, I have learned from this and I know God wanted me to be here.

I’m not a writer, and I don’t talk very much when it comes to class discussions.  Along with those facts, I come from a different denomination, so I knew there were going to be some beliefs that I disagreed with.  I wasn’t as open to what I could learn from the books we were to read or the discussions we were to have.  It was mainly from the readings and discussions when I didn’t agree that I wondered why I was even studying here, but those began to form my opinions about the rest of the discussions.  It took a while to tear down that wall I built, but it had to be done, and I am grateful that I did.

I’ve learned much since I have been here.  I learned about the Covenanters and the rough history they had, yet they were still willing to lay down their lives for Christ.  I learned about Paul’s life and some of the theology he presents in his epistles.  I’ve learned different principles of evangelism, missions, and church ministry.  But I think the most important thing I have learned is the importance of doctrine.

I wrote about how important doctrine is in a few different papers, but since most people aren’t going to read those, I’ll explain.  While growing up in a different denomination, I was still taught the importance of doctrine.  I was taught to be wary of churches that have no doctrines or don’t have them easily accessible.  The reasoning for that was that if a church does not have doctrines or does not have them where people can find them, then they have very few or no ways of regulating what is taught, and people can say what they want without fear of being told they are wrong.

Systematic Theology, which at first was one of the classes I was not excited for, turned out to be one of my favorites.  I began to understand the Reformed doctrine, although I don’t agree with everything, and it helped prepare me for when we read Why We’re Not Emergent, where the authors talk about the emergent church (ex: Rob Bell, Brian McLauren, etc.) and the different views that permeate this movement (that doctrine is unnecessary, that the Bible isn’t inerrant, etc.), which then provides the movement with no boundaries for what they claim, thus leading to people in the movement adhering to a form of universalism.  After reading about the emergent church, I am very thankful for the doctrines I have been raised with and taught while I was here.  Had I not torn down the wall I put up at the beginning, I would not have realized this.  I also learned that, while I may be different, I share the core doctrines with Reformed theology, and for some of the doctrines that different denominations argue over, at their core, we are still the same.

We’ve had a lot of fun trips, from the Wallace Monument to Stirling Castle to Edinburgh Castle.  The church members who took us on these trips were a lot of fun and were great people to get to know.  We made some great and interesting memories with Kids Club, and while it confirmed the fact that I’m not the greatest communicator (even with little kids), I found a place behind the scenes, contributing to preparing snacks for the kids as well as taking some of the pictures.  There is a way for everyone to contribute when it comes to some of these ministries.

I have made a lot of friends here, from the people at Marco’s (fish and chips shop) and Burger7 (American style cuisine, I highly recommend it) to the members of the church.  This is a very bittersweet week, as we prepare to leave for home.  I miss my home and family, but the people here also make leaving very sad.  I’m definitely going to miss everyone here.  Billy Boyd’s song from The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, “The Last Goodbye”, reflects the feelings shared by the five of us.  As hard as it is to say: people of Scotland, I will miss you.  But now, I must bid you all a very fond farewell.

“…And, oh, where the road then takes me
I cannot tell.
We’ve come all this way,
but now is the day
to bid you farewell…”
Billy Boyd – “The Last Goodbye”

David Beer

The Eldership

This week I was going to talk about some of our classes, and I was about halfway through typing up my first edition of the post before I went to a talk at the church.  It was on eldership.  But when I went my brain was overloaded with the pure awesomeness of God’s design of the Church.  SO, I will keep this short and simple.

What I learned from the talk: the eldership is of utmost importance because the elder is in charge of leading the church.  Why?  It cost the precious blood of the one true Son of God to be founded.  If that isn’t enough to impress upon you the seriousness of the office, the fact that the church will come under attack and Christ gave the office responsibility of protecting (shepherding) the Church adds to the importance.  What happens when the elders do not protect the flock?  Will they be lost?  No, no one can snatch them out of God’s hand.  But they will become confused about Christ, and if they become confused their love for Him will lessen, which leads to a lessening of hope in Him, and as a result they will pursue him less, which means the fruit of the Spirit will not be produced in their lives (less love, peace, joy, patience, etc) which finally prevents them from effectively being the church.  Thus the church falls apart.

Something to dwell on.

Pray for your elders.

Ethan Mathews

It’s Pathetic! (But I Love It)

So, apart from all the gallivanting I’ve been doing while here, I have also learned a great deal (well, I would hope so, seeing as that’s the real reason why I came here).  I can’t even begin to tell you of all the many things that I’ve learned.  A lot of it has to do with various doctrines and why they’re important (which are all very beneficial in learning), but I think one of the things here that has impacted me the most has been the church’s children’s ministry: Kid’s Club.  I’ve always loved kids and seeing them learn about God is a wonderful thing!  So having the opportunity to actually participate in a kid’s program while in Scotland has been a great experience for me.

Games at Kids Club

Games at Kids Club

In one of the books we read for Church Ministry, No Guts, No Glory, the author talks about how a lot of people view youth groups and children’s ministries as prosperous and successful by how many kids show up.  If they get a lot of  kids, they think the program is doing well, but if they don’t get a whole lot, they say it’s pathetic.  The author then refutes that theory by expressing the importance of the quality of the program and not the quantity of the attendees.  Yeah, it would be nice to get a lot of kids to show up at youth group (after all, they are our future), but that’s not all that matters.  It is more important to invest in the kids at a deeper level as opposed to having so many that you can barely know them all by name.  It is in this way that you will make a difference in their lives.  Other wise, you just give them a hang out time and place in which they may or may not stay out of trouble.  The whole point of youth group and children’s ministries is to teach them not only about God, but to show and instruct them how they can have a personal relationship with Him.

Psalm singing at Kids Club

Psalm singing at Kids Club

Kid’s Club then, is pathetic.  Even CY, the youth group, is pathetic since it is even smaller than Kid’s Club.  But that is what makes them so great!  It’s not all about the numbers.  It is about investing in the individual kids.  Why?  Because — and I can not stress this enough — because: They. Are. People.  That’s why all this is so important!  These children, that are entrusted to us for a couple hours of the week, are people.  They have needs that need to be met: spiritual, emotional, physical needs.  These needs can’t be fully met when there are too many attendees and not enough leaders.  In the grand scheme of things, investing in the kids in the programme will benefit both you and them.  In teen youth groups, this is essential because teens are already at a tough time in their lives.  In younger youth programs it is still very important.

Craft Time

Craft Time

Telling the story

Telling the story

Kid’s Club focuses on kids aged 5-10, not quite teens but still very much people.  On a good day we have about 13 kids who come.  Usually though, it’s more like 10.  Pathetic, right?  WRONG!!!!  Numbers don’t really matter in the long run!  It may be small in number, but Kid’s Club in the Airdrie RPC has been one of the best kids programmes I’ve had the privilege of being a part of!   We teach the kids about God using stories from the Bible and let me tell you, they pay attention.  Some of the greatest times are when the kids are sitting around the person telling the story, and they are listening intently and asking questions.  They goof around sometimes but for the most part they pay attention.  We sing Psalms and have a memory verse.   We also have games, snacks, and crafts every week too, but these are only supplemental to the lesson.  The focus in this pathetic little programme (and I mean ‘pathetic’ only in terms of the numbers), is right
where it should be: fully on God.  Numbers may look impressive, but if none of the kids attending grow to have a relationship with God then what was the point?

Debbie Shafer

Autumn Break

Hey there! I hope all is well with you and yours wherever you may be.

We have been working hard studying and learning from some pretty great people. We’ve been loving the community we are in and the church family that has welcomed us so selflessly into their lives.  Sometimes the best way to ensure that you don’t forget all that you have been learning is to take some time to reflect and relax.  This brings us to our recent autumn break.

For break my parents were able to come and visit.  It was great to have them here, not simply because we were able to spend time together, but because they were able to get a glimpse into the whirlwind of adventure and learning I have been blessed with these past few months.

Since the public transportation is a lot better than what I am used to, we were able to use that great system to experience multiple parts of the UK.  Of course the adventure for break began with a tour of Airdrie and a small day trip to Edinburgh.   During the week we spent a few days exploring London, a part of a day in Glasgow, and a few days exploring Inverness.

I could go into ridiculous detail telling you each and every amazing thing we were able to experience, but that would take way too long.  So I thought that I would pick my top moments.  My parents and I were able to see the crown jewels of both Scotland and England in a matter of three days.  In three days we saw jewels of such immense worth that I will never be able to fully understand.  We were able to see the amazingly large display of poppies at the Tower of London.  Each handmade poppy represents one allied life lost in World War I.  The sheer number of poppies were a reminder of the frailty and shortness of life, which we often take for granted.

In Inverness we were able to take a boat trip on Loch Ness.  It was a gorgeous day and the best part was that we were able to experience it while relaxing together.  Perhaps my favorite part was that my parents were blessed to experience not one, but two Sundays at the church here in Airdrie.  They witnessed the body of Christ coming together to worship their Creator, half a world away from where my family lives.  They witnessed the community that has welcomed the Semester in Scotland students with open arms and has extended hospitality far beyond what we could have ever asked for.  They were able to see that though the world seems so big sometimes, when you are part of a family with a Father who created that world, the miles between His children who love Him seem to fall away.

-Jennie Smith

Jennie and parentsOutside the entrance to the crown jewels inside of the Tower of London.

The poppies outside of the Tower of London​

The Christian Ministry

When last we met, I told of some of the adventures we had that week, galavanting through the country.   However, this time, there was something in one of the  classes that really stuck out to me recently.   So here it is.

Evangelizing.  Matthew 28:19-20, known as the Great Commission, tells us that we are to go and make disciples.  The Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John echo this, and in Acts 1:8, Luke tells us of Jesus’ declaration, that we will be His witness in “Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (ESV).  So Christ commanded us to evangelize.  I’m sure most of us knew these passages and this command.  It wasn’t these verses that stood out to me, but there lay the foundation for what I am going to say.

What stood out to me was not in our Reformed Evangelism class, but in a book Ethan and I were reading for the Christian Ministry class, a book titled The Christian Ministry: with An Inquiry into the Causes of its Inefficiency.  This book is written mainly about the office of the minister, his responsibilities, things that can cause his preaching to not be productive, and sections about how he should build his sermons and preach them.  Now, I have no plans of being a minister.  I loathe speaking in front of people, and I’m terrible at it.  I think the professor of my Intro to Communications class was being merciful to me when he passed me with a high grade.  So when I started this book, I wasn’t very interested because I wasn’t going to be a pastor (also because it was hard to read at first, as it was written in 1829).  I didn’t realize how applicable it was going to be for me.

The part of the book that really impacted me was in the fourth section: “The Public Work of the Christian Ministry”.  This part focused on the actual preaching of Scripture: the preparation for composing and preaching sermons, how to preach God’s Law, the different aspects of preaching the Gospel according to Scripture, the types of preaching, and the spirit of preaching.  The types of preaching, whether on specific topics or a whole book of the Bible, or whether it was written out or preached without notes, didn’t really mean that much to me but the rest of the section I realized I could apply to my own evangelism.

“The Scriptural preaching of the Gospel” and “The Spirit of Scriptural preaching” were very applicable, as they spoke about preaching the various doctrines, as well as the spirit and the attitude behind the preaching.  Preaching in boldness (being unashamed), wisdom, plainness (making it clear to someone who wouldn’t understand the words we normally use), fervency (showing our passion and that it is important to us), diligence (not slacking off), singleness (solely for the glory of God), and love (love of God and love of others).  I looked at these and thought to myself, “Wow.  This book was a lot more applicable than I originally thought.”   It’s true what they say: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”   Even if you don’t like an assigned reading, that doesn’t mean that you should just disregard it.   There can still be beneficial knowledge that you might otherwise miss.

Philosophical thoughts from the American Mathematician,
David Beer

Reading the Word

Something I love about this semester in Scotland is all the time we have with  people from church!

We had a night recently when Jennie and I went to a café with about a dozen ladies from church. We enjoyed hot drinks & yummy deserts, laughing together at some of the café’s art:

cafe art









We talked about chocolate, we talked about people we love.

I heard stories about husbands and children, and I told stories about my own family.  We discussed knitting sweaters, owning dogs, and reading books.

I remember we had a particularly interesting conversation about reading.

It was mentioned that attention spans lessen as we age.  We can’t remember what we’ve just read; it’s harder to concentrate than it used to be.

This was a rather sad train of thought… until we remembered our favorite book!  Whether we’re old or young or anywhere in between, we will *always* have God’s help understanding and remembering His Word to us in the Bible.

Paul writes that we understand the things of God because His Spirit is in us and in those who teach us (1 Corinthians 2). Also, since all who belong to Jesus have His Spirit (Romans 8:9), He will *always* be there to help us understand His living and active Word.

This is beautiful news! It is encouraging for the Lord’s dear, gray-headed saints… and it is encouraging for clueless blondes as well.   Praise the Lord.

Pick up and read the Word, my friend.

Pray… pick up… and read.

Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you. –Isaiah 46:4

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
–Psalm 19:7

Rosie Perkins

The Continued Adventures of the Quintessential Quintet

Last week was a quiet week for our titanic team.  With two professors out for various reasons, the fantastic five only had one class to attend on Thursday night.  What lay before them was a week of reading and opportunity.  Admittedly, the students took the week a little easier and devoted time to other things, such as Skype conversations with friends and family from home, work on wedding plans, playing video games, and catching up on television shows.

Four out the five students decided to break out of the sitting and the screen watching, and get out of Airdrie. They hopped on the train and went to Glasgow.  The couple of the group had not ventured to the big city yet, so the other two led them through the streets.  They visited several shops without buying anything, just enjoying the experience of stretching their legs.  As they traveled through the streets full of brick buildings, they hunted for a store of fabric that would bring the two young men of the group warmth in the coldness that was approaching the land they were studying in.  (In short, the boys needed coats, so they went to Primark.)

Once the valiant men purchased their coats of warmth and wonderful comfort and put on that cloth that fended off wind and cold with the awesomeness that permeated every stich—and the girls did their thing and bought various article of clothing—the group ran to Greggs for a bite to eat (this chronicler assigned to record various adventures of the Quintessential Quintet cannot remember which Greggs they went to, as there seemed to be one at the end of every street in the city).  Then they ran back to the train, so that one particular girl of the group could get back to home base (i.e. the girls’ flat) for a quick nap before she went off to walk a friends’ dog.

The rest of the week was filled with more reading and much screen watching.  The couple and their faithful friend finished Legend of Kora, the first season and began the second season.  The mighty men of the five also diligently trained their beloved Pokémon on their video games.  One of the men searched on his game for a certain Pokémon of incredible strength for several hours, of which he comments in a recent interview, “I see now that it was pretty much a waste of time.  I have a feeling if I actually spent more time reading and working on my studies, I wouldn’t be as frustrated as I am and more inclined to be patient.  Now I am behind on my work and all for nothing.”  Well, folks, looks like even the quintessential quintet are human.  The same young man (i.e. me) later on found the Pokémon he was looking for, though now he is putting his free time back in its place, not letting it push out responsibilities, in order that the day would be better used for God’s glory.  Thanks be to God that He is patient in our foolishness!

Ethan Mathews


So after a week of touring around lots and lots of places (on the Reformation Tour), this week was a bit slow in comparison.  Nevertheless, it was still fun!

Sunday, we went to church, had lunch at Beth’s, I went back to the flat and took a nap, then we went back to church, and after the boys and I played Pokémon (what else is new?).

On Monday, we had worship, and read in the morning, and had lunch.  Then David, Ethan, and I went to the charity shops in Airdrie, looking for coats for the boys.  We didn’t find any coats, but it was still fun traipsing about the town…in the rain.  The three of us usually have fun together no matter where we are though, so the rain didn’t bother us.  We went back to the church and read some more, and then we went to the boys’ flat for dinner.  Afterwards, they played Pokémon and I read some more for class.

Tuesday, we had worship, we read in the morning, and then we ate lunch.  We came back to the church and had Church Ministry with Andrew where we talked about making space to spend time with God.  It was another great class that was very thought provoking.  Next, we had our class on Paul, and then our book discussions.  After, we went to our respective flats since the boys didn’t have MET. I read some more, and then went to Tesco with Jennie for groceries.  I finally had dinner (it was pretty late) and read some more before I went to bed.

Wednesday, we had worship and then had Systematic Theology with Kenneth Stewart.  It was another mind blowing seminar as we learned about the Law.  The most mind blowing part was when Kenneth said that in Exodus 20, God literally spoke the Ten Commandments to all the people from the mountain, and then it happens again in Matthew 5-7 when Jesus is on the mountain and speaks about the Law. (Sermon on the Mount).  It was pretty cool.  After class, we had a quick lunch, and George took us to Edinburgh and dropped us off near the castle.  We explored there for a few hours and then had dinner at George and Jeanette’s.  It was scrumptious!  After, the girls went to their MET, and the boys went to their flat.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle
Students at Castle

View to Arthur's Seat

View to Arthur’s Seat

Looking out to the Firth of Forth

Looking out to the Firth of Forth

Thursday, we had worship and then read in the morning.  After lunch, we had a catch up Paul class, and then we went back to our flat.  I decided to take a nap because I didn’t feel well, and I was super tired.  After a quick dinner (just a snack, really), we went back to the church for our Reformed Evangelism class.

Friday, we had worship, and we read in the morning.  It was a bit cold in the church that day so David, Ethan, and I sat in front of the heater.  It was pretty funny.  I made lunch for the boys back at the girl’s flat, and we watched an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Then we went back to the church to get ready for Kid’s Club.  I baked cupcakes and decorated them like pigs!  While they were baking, I got the craft ready too.  We made Pom Pom Pigs!  They were sooooo cute!  And Fluffy!  When the kids came, we played a game, but it didn’t last very long.  Then we had the Cupcakes for snack!  Everyone loved them.  We then had the songs, Psalm (that I made motions up for), and memory verse.  Then Rosie told the story of The Prodigal Son.  I led the craft, and they played a time-killer game (Pig, Pig, Farmer).  Since there wasn’t CY afterwards, David, Ethan, and I went back to their flat and we chilled, and played, and watched Pokémon.

pig cupcakes

Rosie telling the story

Rosie telling the story

Craft of pigs

Craft time

Saturday, I slept in and then cleaned our flat from top to bottom while Jennie and Rosie were out.  David, and eventually Ethan, came over to keep me company.  When I was finally done, we went to the boys’ flat and made dinner.  Then we watched and played Pokémon, and when it was available, we watched the new episode of Doctor Who.  After a long day, David walked me back to my flat, and I went to bed.

Debbie Shafer


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