Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. Ephesians 1:1-4 NASB

Hello All, this has been a week, or two, of looking at the apostle Paul, and I have grown to absolutely love the way he starts his letters, but I kind of feel it would that it would be stealing his words. I am not claiming any of the apostleship that he was rewarded by Christ, don’t worry!! We have had a fantastic first week of classes and an incredible weekend with the church, at a Young Adults Weekend (YAW) conference in Northern Ireland (which was gorgeous, by the way). We started with classes, and found that the genre of the books is heavy, which is very good. It also quickly waded into the life of Paul, and the influences and culture that helped make him effective, other than the Holy Spirit, of course, and that continued during the weekend. The theme of messages was  evangelism, and we read out of the book of Acts in chapters 16 and 17. It was mentioned that the name of the book of acts really isn’t the best, because it isn’t just about what the apostles did, but rather where they went to continue furthering what God told them to do in the great commission, to first go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. They listened and that is what Acts is, the account of how the early church did as God instructed down to the order of where to go when to tell.

One of the themes that I have been seeing is how God is showing us as students that we need to be bold, and yet still be gentle. On Wednesday, we went to visit Stirling Castle and the Battle of Bannockburn battlefield; we learned about how the people fought boldly for their freedom, now of course this was not for freedom of religion in these cases, but their country. Still you should see the point. On out first Sunday, the sermons were about how Elijah the prophet needed to be bold and yet humble as he served our Savior. And then we get to Paul, as we learned this weekend, and how even after he was beaten, and thrown into jail, and then asked to leave the city after the night of the earthquake and the conversion of Lydia and her family, the Guard at the jail and his family. and a few others, he continued on into many different cities and did the same thing.  Sometimes he was hurt again, other times the new Christians found out what was happening and sent him on his way with blessings and thanks. What an example of boldness! Still, when God said something, he was “still” enough to hear what God said. He knew when it was time to be bold, and he knew how to go about that. It was something that made me stop and wonder if I am bold enough, and also if I am “still” enough to hear what God tells me to do in my life. That is something that I have found I myself need to work on – constant  communication with God.

Outside of what I have learned so far this semester though, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know people in the church, and can’t wait for more of that. We have had so much fun reading our books and seeing places. This time will be something I will never forget – we saw some awesome things that God has made, like this view from the “hill” we climbed on Saturday.

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We also had a lot of fun finding our way around the bus and train system. That was a completely new experience for me, but very fun nonetheless!! Other things that were really fun? Meeting fellow Christians on the way over the Irish Sea on the ferry.

And so now I bid you a most gracious farewell, filled with the joy of God, our Father, who should live in our hearts and minds constantly. I pray peace and joy live in our hearts until our time on earth ends. Catch ya next time!! -Louisa

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