Sunday, April 25, 2010

The final CHS "group" shots in London

Mark suggested that I park myself down in front of a place we know must have wi-fi even if it's closed. These kids and technology! We're sitting in the Picadilly Circus area, killing time before heading back to Heathrow for our night's bivouac, and "Presto!" I'm on-line and can make a final post on the most extraordinary CHS UK tour ever.Here's what we've been doing today.

Well it stopped raining and actually got very comfortable, patchy sun, warm-ish temperatures. Mark Anderson and David Banz and I have been having an enjoyable time today. We went to St. Paul's for morning worship, singing Psalm 23 from the Scottish Psalter (and others), but one is forced to wonder: there's a stupendously grandiose visible church; how many of the remnant of the invisible church are here?

David and Mark, making room for their classmates in the group shot in front of St. Paul's before Sunday service (I'm reminded again of just how unfinished the English Reformation was, still a good deal of tom-foolery going on).

Found the site where John Wesley heard the gospel and was "strangely warmed." Near Museum of London where we spent some time before heading off to the British Museum for a while.

And then we attended an organ concert at Westminster Abbey (my wife would not have liked it very much). and discovered I was sitting right next (nearly under) a pulpit that Thomas Cranmer preached from.

Cranmer's pulpit in Westminster Abbey

When we were in London half a lifetime ago, so it sort of seems, spring had not yet sprung, but it certainly has now, as seen in St. James Park, London

Today was the London marathon (and some fun runners too--and lots of London party animals).

Blogging this on the street in London

CHS makes it to HEATHROW and LONDON at last!

Generally speaking I don't care much for airports, or perhaps its what airports bring out in people that I don't care for. Let's face it, airports are not charming destinations. They're crammed with far too much massed, over-baggaged humanity, going somewhere else, looking past everyone and everything--except the signage. Which makes our early morning departure from Oxford (5:55 am), our rainy coach ride to Heathrow Airport, and arrival at Terminal 3 for the first wave of CHS flights home all the more sweet. Please don't panic if your son or daughter' smiling face does not appear in the picture below. We have chaperones in each of 5 waves of homeward-bound travel, and these young people were from the first two waves. As of last check (I'm at a London coffee shop with my handful of students blogging and getting in our of the rain--our heavenly Father has been so kind to us in the weather; it rained twice: 2nd day in London for 45 minutes, and now, our last day; sun, blue skies, warm temperatures mostly. There is a great deal for which to be deeply grateful to our Redeemer in this tour. Great kids; good trooper attitudes as the 5 and 6 day delay went on.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

CHS refugees making the most of their time in the UK

So much to do and see in Cambridge! We attended evensong at King's College Chapel before the evening Bible study and prayer time with the CP Church (see the post on the message from Psalm 88). And then we went punting--again! But the curriculum must go on, so I scoured around and got as many copies of Macbeth as we could find in Oxford and Cambridge and launched into the unit of study we would begin when we return. We had class on Christ Church Meadow, Oxford, and twice at All Saints Garden, Cambridge.

We visited Ely Cathedral today. One of the most spectacular churches I have ever seen. Granted it doesn't connect as immediately to our curriculum objectives for the tour, then again, Shakespeare's Henry V opens with the archbishop of Canterbury discussing who on earth their new king is with the bishop of Ely, and Oliver Cromwell lived within site of this magnificent medieval structure (and may have stabled horses in the cathedral during the English Civil War, so say the critics).

CHS featured in the The News Tribune

My perilous cycle ride through Cambridge with the Haylett family

Near disaster! I'm staying with Andrew and Annabelle Haylett and their lovely family, Matthew, Kathryn, Jonathan, and Joanna (who gave up her bed for me). They invited me to an early morning ride through Cambridge on their way to school (and work for Andrew). I decided to try videoing while riding and unfamiliar bicycle, on cobblestones, on the wrong side of the road, through spectacular medieval views of chapels, cloisters, and colleges.

Friday, April 23, 2010

CHS kids: "I love you , Mom, Dad!"

CHS punting on the Cam in Cambridge, and pausing to wish all their loved ones back home and "I love you!"

And Hannah Stipek chasing sheep

CHS Students at Cambridge Bible Study and Prayer Meeting

We were invited by our gracious hosts to join Cambridge Presbyterian Church for their Bible Study and Prayer time on Thursday evening. Ian Hamilton did such a careful and pastoral exposition of Psalm 88. I was thrilled that our students were there to hear him. I was thrilled to hear him. Here are some highlights, quoting as directly as my pen would race.

'The warp and woof of all Scripture is Jesus Christ.'

'Every noun, every verb, every adjective, every adverb, every participle, every syntactical device of the Bible is about Jesus Christ.'

'All of Scripture is a commentary on Genesis, '...bruise the heel of the woman, and crush the head of the serpent.'

'Psalm 88 is about Jesus Christ--he alone experienced utter darkness. He alone experienced utter desolation so that we do not have to. For us to be cut off by God would be for God to cut off his Son.' Followed by comments about the misnomer of referring to 'Messianic Psalms.' They're all Messianic.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

CHS students interviewed by CBS London

I received a facebook message from Hillary Mullin an intern with CBS London this morning. They have been "stalking" (their word) us on the blog and wanted to meet us in Oxford and do a story on our students stranded in the UK.

Exciting time before TV camera today, myself and students, and then they followed us to Baliol College where I discussed Wycliffe's critical role as Morning Star of the Reformation, and the Word of God as his self-disclosure to all people, rich or poor, educated or not, and contrasted with Richard Dawkins, hoping he'd walk through the gate and have a chat!

I don't know how much of this they actually filmed--it seemed like a good bit of it--but I hope the film crew heard the gospel of grace in Christ. Several of our students gave God glory as they were interviewed. The director asked if we had a school song or motto. "What is the chief end of man?" I asked the students. "Man's chief end is to glorify and to enjoy God forever." They shouted it out well. So watch the Morning Show on CBS. Maybe we'll make the cut.

CHS tentative return flight information: volcanic stranding in UK

As of Tuesday, April 20, 2010, CHS students will be returning from the UK per the flights below:

Sunday flights (4/25/10)

AA flight 81, 4/25/10 Depart LHR 12:15, Arrive DFW 4:45
AA flight 1563, 4/25/10 Depart DFW 6:05, Arrive SEA 8:25 pm (students Revear-Yong, 13 total)

AA flight 51, 4/25/10 Depart LHR 10:25, Arrive DRW 2:25 pm
AA flight 1255, 4/25/10 Depart DFW 4:15, Arrive SEA 6:35 pm (students Brown-Reddy, 16 total)

AA flight 79, 4/25/10 Depart LHR 2:30, Arrive DFW 6:30
AA flight 2003, 4/25/10 Depart DFW 7:50, Arrive SEA 10:05 pm (students DeMass- St. John, 18 total)

AA flight 47, 4/25/10 Depart LHR 12:50, Arrive DFW
AA flight 1801, 4/25/10 Depart DFW 5:30, Arrive SEA 7:55 pm (2 total)

Monday flight (4/26/10)

Info to come. 5 students traveling with Mr. Bond (6 total), (Anderson-Bond)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Volcano continues to ground flights as ash cloud spreads over Europe

CHS students are supposed to fly from London to USA Tuesday morning, but airspace is scheduled to be closed through Monday.

[from The Guardian] Thousands of travellers are facing continuing misery after the suspension of flights in and out of the UK was extended until at least 7am tomorrow as the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland spread across Europe.
The National Air Traffic Services (Nats) said the situation was worsening amid warnings from scientists that the eruptions from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano could continue for months, causing unprecedented travel chaos.
British Airways announced in light of the latest update from Nats that it had cancelled all long and short-haul flights in and out of the UK tomorrow.
The European air navigation safety agency, Eurocontrol, said only some 5,000 flight would take place in Europe today compared to 22,000 in normal circumstances. A spokesman said the situation was not expected to change tomorrow.
Last night hopes had been raised of some respite from the disruption, which began on Thursday. Airspace had been opening across Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England, and Nats had said there may be a window for some domestic flights before 7pm today.
But this morning Nats said it was "most unlikely that many flights will operate today", with forecasts suggesting the ash cloud will begin to cover the whole of the UK after 7pm. Passengers were urged to contact their airline before travelling.
"The volcanic ash cloud from Iceland is moving around and changing shape," a statement read. "Based on the latest information from the Met Office, Nats advises that the restrictions currently in place across UK controlled

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Great Britain/Normandy Historical Tour Itinerary April 5 - 20, 2010


April 5 (Monday)
Depart SeaTac – Arrive 2 full hours before departure time
Group A  American #1144 departs Sea-Tac at 9:30 AM
Group B American  #1014 departs Sea-Tac at 2:25 PM 

..And group B got pinned down in thunder and lightning and torrential rain in Chicago. After a pretty bumpy ride (good for ones prayer life, and for reviewing Scripture memory) we arrived two hours late to meet Mr. H and group A. Everyone was a bit weary, but the weather was fair, and London awaits!

What a blessing these kids are, thanks be to the mercy and goodness of Christ in their lives. I sat on the plane listening to one of our young men share his faith in Christ with his seat mate--a Muslim twice the young man's age, but, undaunted, this young man spent a good chunk of the flight from Seattle to Chicago glorifying God in both deed and in words. Wonderful!

April 6 (Tuesday)
Arrive LondonSt. Paul’s exterior visit; Tower of London tour
Holland House Youth Hostel (London)  Ph. # 011-44-2079-370748 for April 6 and 7.

The video below is such a remarkable example of Norman architecture. Built sometime around 1078, only a dozen years or so after the Norman Conquest, St. John the Evangelist's Chapel is where Henry VII's first son Arthur was married to Catherine of Aragon, who after her first husband's death (they were 14 years old), was married to Henry VIII (in royalty, kids kissed dating goodbye long ago), which led to the infamous divorce, which led to the Act of Supremacy (1534) and England's break with Rome and the Pope. With such a sordid intermingling of tyrannical, immoral, and all-around, low-down, good-for-nothing motives, English Reformation history is a paramount model of how God works his sovereign good pleasure in spite of the deeply flawed motives of human agents.

I was attempting to count and figured this was my eleventh visit to London (though anything after 10 fingers is suspect). They've done some changes and improvements in some of the displays at the Tower, this one of Charles I's tournament armor, is a good example

Giddy with sleep deprivation, CHS students having a great time at the Tower:

(Night walk to Kensington Palace from YHA)
April 7, Wednesday: Westminster Abbey and London options. We had a bit of a glitch or two getting everyone to the High Street Kensington underground station, including a couple of never-to-be-named young people forgetting some rather important items on the coach (prescription medicine and a passport, no big deal), and one forgetting his underground pass and disappearing back to the Holland House YHA... never mind. We made it to Westminster Abbey where we reviewed the history of the kings and queens of England, the important role of the Westminster Divines crafting the WCF here in the Jerusalem Chamber, and where the Solemn League
and Covenant was signed next door at St. Margaret's in 1643 (Samuel Rutherford and the rest, more in Scotland on this).  

Les Miserables –Queen’s Theatre or Oliver! Royal Drury Theatre.

I have seen Les Miserables 6 or 7 times now but this was the most nuanced performance I have experienced. Yes, I did shed a few tears, when Jean Valjean sings his final prayer just before he dies (Oh, my goodness), "God in heaven, hear my prayer... keep these children in thy embrace and give them your grace..." Absolutely marvelous. CHS students seemed to appreciate the performance (and stayed awake, even in spite of high-octane jet-lag). The down side: the crudities of the Master of the house scene and a few others seem to get worse each time I've seen it, or I get more disgusted with it, can't tell which for sure.

Check out the CHS students patiently awaiting the performance below:

Check out the London police mounted on horses dressed in day-glow green saddle blankets. Oh, those Brits!

April 8 (Thursday)
Bunhill Fields, Wesley Chapel;  

Watch and listen to CHS students singing the Pilgrim Hymn at John Bunyan's grave, Bunhill Fields, London.

British Museum, Chartwell – Churchill’s home;
Overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St. Malo, France


April 9 (Friday)Mont-St.-Michel Island, NormandyBayeux D-Day Beaches,
Hotel le Bayeux in Bayeux, France   Ph.# 011-33- 231- 927008

April 10 (Saturday)
Bayeux Cathedral and Bayeux Tapestry – ferry departs Caen for Portsmouth

Watch a clip of the night crossing from Portsmouth to St. Malo, Normandy, France

We arrived at St. Malo to a gorgeous morning. See images below from Mont-Saint-Michel, Omaha Beach, and Bayeux Cathedral's magnificent exterior at night and the interior of the nave in the morning light. This is a charming town. Also notice the medieval beams of the little restaurant we ate at just across the cobbled street from the cathedral. Did I mention that this is a charming place? And the food... The French have done food and cathedrals very well over the centuries, a few of them excelling in theology, but only a few.

Here's what CHS students saw as they wandered through more than 8,000 grave markers at the American cemetery at Omaha Beach. Intensely sobering place. "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth."

Saint-Mere-Eglise, paratrooper John Steel memorialized
Night walk to Canterbury Cathedral and along the Medieval city wall Canterbury Youth Hostel  ph. # 011-44-1304-201314

April 11 (Sunday)
Morning worship at Canterbury Cathedral, tour cathedral, explore Canterbury. The Old Weavers was a wonderful place to have a very English Steak and pickled walnut pie, etc. I love Canterbury, though archbishops seated here, like infamous William Laud, did beat up Presbyterians over the years. We had a warm reception at the said service, the presiding priest remembering CHS from previous visits and extending a warm welcome to the young people. They stuck with the Scripture readings and prayers throughout. I found several good books at unbelievably low prices: Lewis's Screwtape Letters, 1942 edition, hardback with dusk cover, great condition; a Scottish Reformation history; and Pascal's Pensees. Found a tea shop and downed threecups (my usual morning consumption) and read, read, read.

Hear and see what the CHS students heard and saw inside Canterbury Cathedral, Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday afternoon: Walking church tour of Cambridge Colleges, dinner and evening worship Cambridge Presbyterian Cambridge Youth Hostel  ph.# 011-44-1223-354601. We got off the coach at the backs and walked over to St. Edward's Church, "The Cradle of the Reformation" where the gospel of grace in Christ alone was first proclaimed in 1525. Hugh Latimer preached regularly at this church, later burned by Bloody Mary at Oxford. "Cambridge grew them; Oxford slew them." The kids have been very cooperative, fun to be with, energetic, listening well (giving away lots of cadbury bars for correct answers... a few push-ups too). Ian Hamilton, pastor of Cambridge Presbyterian Church, met us and gave us a walking tour of King's, St. John's, etc., and All Saint's, the new meeting place for Cam Pres. Church, and the highest steeple in all Cambridge (that's Ian in front of the "new" church). The church hosted a "light" supper (the most ravenous teenage male fairly rolled out of there), and then we worshiped with the saints there, Ian preaching from Genesis 22, Isaac as a prototype of Christ our redeeming sacrifice, our substitute, our righteousness. Wonderful fellowship and ministry of the Word.

Ian Hamilton at All Saints, Cambridge Presbyterian Church 

Great St. Mary's Cambridge where Thomas Cartwright, Nicholas Ridley and other Reformers preached the gospel of grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. When Cartwright preached through Acts here so many students flocked to hear the preaching of God's Word that they were forced to remove the windows so young men and townsfolk unable to get inside the packed church could gather outside at the windows to hear the gospel. O, that God's Spirit  would be poured out like that again!

April 12 (Monday)  
John Bunyan’s Elstow and Bedford,

Click to hear CHS students singing "Hobgoblin, nor foul fiend can daunt his spirit..." at Bunyan's Elstow Abbey where he grew up going to church, and cutting out on services to play tip-cat.

John Newton, William Cowper, Olney, 

Shakespeare’s Birthplace Home,
Attend Antony and Cleopatra  performed by Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon
Stratford-Upon-Avon Youth Hostel  ph.# 011-44-1789-297093

April 13 (Tuesday)
Durham Cathedral, Hadrian’s Wall and Vindolanda Roman Fort
Once Brewed Youth Hostel  ph.# 011-44-1434-344360


April 14 (Wednesday)
SCOTLAND! Jedburgh Abbey (where Samuel Rutherford studied as a boy), Sir Walter Scott’s home Abbotsford,

then to Edinburgh,and the traditional hike up Arthur's Seat; weather was a gift, sunny, blue skies, little wind, warm, so un-Scotland! Thanks be to God. The "Freedom" at left would be Galatians 5:1 standing fast in the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free. No kidding, (I had never met him before) I bumped into Steven Vanderhill and his wife on the summit, president of Redeemer Seminary, Dallas, and on the executive board of my publisher, P&R! It is--forgive the cliche--a small world.

Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel   Ph. # 011-44-1315-242090
A smaller gaggle of CHS scholars invited me to supervise their "girls night out" in Edinburgh. We stopped first at the monument to Horatius Bonar at Cannongate Kirk.

Then at John Knox's home at Trunk Close, Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Then for Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties at Dirty Dick's, Edinburgh
New College, University of Edinburgh (bumped in to Chris Bechtel on the street, no kidding)

April 15 (Thursday)
Edinburgh Castle, Reformation and Covenanter sites, free time

Greyfriars Abbey where Covenanters signed the National Covenant (1638) to "uphold the Crown rights of the Redeemer in his Kirk."

Grassmarket where many Covenanter Christians were martyred for "resisting the usurper of the Crown Rights of the Redeemer in his Kirk."

CHS gang on steps of St. Giles High Kirk, Edinburgh, Scotland

Chris and Jackie and Julien Bechtel, CHS grads (except Julien... yet) living and studying at New College, University of Edinburgh.

Working Edinburgh, near where Thomas Chalmers is buried--what a hike that was! Took a cab back to Knox's house and sat and wrote where he lived from 1560-1572, where he died, his wife reading to him from I Corinthians 15, John 17, and Calvin's sermons on Ephesians as he lay dying.

April 16 (Friday)
St. Andrews Castle and Cathedral ruins and martyr sites in a.m. We began under brilliant Scottish sunshine at San Salvator's College chapel (below interior, including a pulpit Knox preached in) before which the first martyr of the Scottish Reformation, Patrick Hamilton, was burned in a slow 6-hour fire for prclaiming the gospel of grace in Christ alone. The year was 1528; Hamilton was 24 years old. Sang together "The Sands of Time are Sinking" at Rutherford's grave. He died in 1661 at nearby St. Mary's where he taught theology, replying to a royal summons to answer charges of treason, "I have a higher summans and I go to bive answer to a higher judicatory. I go where few kings and great men come."

Before St. Andrews Castle where Knox first preached the gospel publically (after breaking into tears and fleeing the room when they first asked him to preach). In 1547 the castle fell to the combined French and royal Scottish troops. knox served the next 19 months as a galley slave of the French.

William Wallace Monument, 246 steps to the top...

...and Bannockburn Battlefield in afternoon (1314)

CHS students turn Bannockburn (1314) into a football (soccer) contest (2010)

Travel to Newmilns arrive 6:30 PM, meet Scottish host families, stay in homes
Staying here Friday through Sunday evening. Here are my always-gracious hosts, the MacCallums... and the ubiquitous Rebecca Hamilton, the best food, the best rest, home away from home.
Newmilns emergency phone # 011-44 -1560-320734 (Angus Steel)

April 17 (Saturday)
Day with host families: Burn's Cottage,

Culzean Castle with the ever-gracious MacCallums (and ubiquitous Rebecca Hamilton, whom I have been calling "Cedric")

Volcano continues to ground flights as ash cloud spreads over Europe

No aircraft allowed in or out of Britain until at least 7am tomorrow (Sunday) as Icelandic eruption shows no sign of abating (from The Guardian, Saturday afternoon, UK time). CHS parents should check the airline schedules closely coming out of UK. Things are pretty backed up over here, and I have no idea how much it will effect our scheduled departure for Tuesday. Pray that we can get through on schedule or find some place to house 55 people while we wait developments.

April 18 (Sunday)
Morning worship, day with host families, after evening worship travel to Carlisle
County Hotel in Carlisle, England   ph# 011-44-1228-531316

Loudoun Keep (prototype for my book REBEL'S KEEP), where in 1685 8 Covenanter prisoners were aided in escaping from the prison and thereby avoiding being executed the next day. My good friend Eric MacCallum stands with me a stone's throw from Loudon Parish Church, seen above with Pastor David Randall praying; a solid biblical sermon from Lamentations 4:1-11, The transforming power of sin and the transforming power of the gospel. Newmilns is blessed in her new pastor/preacher.

Watch for cars! Go, go! In the UK peds do not necessarily have priority. Not to worry. We've lost not one kid, so far. Here's some excitement! Our coach broke down (no lights) in Newmilns, which is a remote village with no access to repairs on a Sunday evening. So after loading the coach, discovering that we had problems, we off-loaded everyone and redistributed the kids to host families. So I'm back with the McCallums and 4 CHS young men. Hopefully we will have a replacement coach in the morning. As you wait, enjoy the folks from Newmilns.

Pastor Randall's wife loaned Mary Anderson a violin and she stepped right in with the musicians at Loudoun. Well done, Mary.

The Steel clan (some of them, Ian, Calum, and Angus not there). Charming girls (makes me miss my 3 girls).

David Randall, pastor of Loudoun Parish Church, and his son Luke. Sunday evening he preached from Col 3:1-17 (a text I had used in devotions in London) on dying with Christ, and thereby seeking those things which are above and not those things which are on earth. Good sermon.


Mary A and Naomi Scade, Gillian and Kevin's youngest (Gillian Scade is where we discovered the name for our Gillian).

Keep watching the flight situation. Pray that Iceland gets their volcano tidied up soon or we won't be getting home any time soon. News in UK is restricted airspace until Monday evening. We're scheduled to fly out Tuesday. Pray that this comes together. God makes volcanoes, ash, teens, and all things, and he rules the earth, the sky, the sea, and all that in them is. Just listening to the news. "UK flights will not fly until 7:00 pm Monday. 1/2 of the flights throughout Europe.  UK government says it is doing everything it can to get travelers home, including considering getting the British Navy involved. So CHS comes home on a British aircraft carrier? That's a joke (though the suggestions I just heard on the night news, no kidding). 10,000s

April 19 (Monday)
Travel to Oxford,
CS Lewis Church and Oxford University
Oxford Youth Hostel  ph.#011-44- 8707-705970

We are in Oxford for two nights, then to host families at Cambridge Presbyterian Church, then to London, flights home Sunday and Monday. Check with CHS office for details.

Self-catering at Oxford YHA. It saves money, and we need to save money! This looked really good!

Read above for the full scoop on the CBS London. This was the moment of panic for me. He's calling me to the mic

Wycliffe, Adam Smith, Earl Grey (and Richard Dawkins...) Baliol College Hall. Pull up your chair and let's eat!

REGROUPING. What we did on our extra week (nearly) in UK.

English country walk (4 miles) in Kidlington--farms, sheep, canal boats, warm sun, blue skies. Go ahead: feel sorry for us. Life's pretty tough. 

And back to Cambridge, hosted by the gracious folks at Cambridge Presbyterian.

David Banz at the helm, King's College Chapel looming magnificently (as always) in the background. We are gathering in a few minutes for evensong at the chapel. Hopefully we'll all be able to get in. The punting proved to be pretty entertaining, not only for CHS students but for most of the Cambridge crowd basking in the sun on the grassy banks of the river. A student with initials CP decided to reach up and grab the arch of the old stone bridge as his boat drifted underneath. He miscalculated and the boat kept going without him. There he was hanging between heaven and the cold Cam. Finally he realized he had no alternative but to let go and enjoy a cool dip in the river.

Great St. Mary's, Cambridge (picture Latimer, Ridley and others preaching the gospel of grace alone in Christ alone from the pulpit at left.

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
NOT----April 20 (Tuesday)
Depart London for home:
Group A  American #105 to JFK then American #269 arrives Sea-Tac 8:50 PM
Group B American #47 to Chicago then American #1801 

arrives Sea-Tac 7:55 PM