Israel
Israel

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148 travelers at this place:

  • Day16

    Judean Wilderness to Jericho to Gezer

    May 22, 2015 in Israel ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

    Today we left Jerusalem for the first time and headed out into the wilderness east of the city. This is known as the Judean wilderness. This is the same wilderness in which Jesus chose to set his parable about the good Samaritan. It is the wilderness in which Jesus was to be tempted by Satan. It is stark and barren and wild and honestly, human beings have no good reason to be there.

    Except, I think, to learn to rely on God. Wilderness is a great classroom and the lessons learned here can be learned nowhere else. Jesus faced the same question in the wilderness as the Israelites did before entering the Promised Land. The question God asks in the wild is, "Will you trust me, even if the fundamentals for your survival are stripped from you?"

    One psalmist prayed, "Let me know how fleeting is my life." Standing on the edge of a cliff above a rugged canyon, watching dark gray shapes soaring in the sky below you reminds you: the wilderness is a death-ready place.

    And then we watched as a Bedouin shepherd grazed his flocks on the steep ravine sides far below us. And the twenty-third Psalm jumped off the landscape. Yes. The Lord is my shepherd. And I will not take one God-forsaken step without Him. I need nothing but Him.

    We read a poem called The Peace of Wild Things

    When despair grows in me
    and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water,
    and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

    :)

    We stopped in Jericho to explore excavations of ancient ruins. Jericho was actually way smaller than I had always thought. Maybe only about 10 acres. The same size as David's Jerusalem. Tiny really, but so important to the people of Israel as they moved into the Promised Land. We then traveled the Jericho-Gezer Road across the plain of Benjamin, watching so many stories of God unfold as we crossed the landscape. We stopped at the traditional tomb of Samuel and ended the day studying more archaeology in Gezer. 12 long hours, packed with information and scenery.

    Tomorrow, we head to Mt. of Olives and then back into the West Bank area then south to visit Bethlehem.
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  • Day29

    Lower Galilee

    June 4, 2015 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 86 °F

    We had some extra time to sleep in this morning, so I set my alarm for 6:30, thinking I'd get caught up on some sleep. It's 5:45 and I'm wide awake. I hate it when that happens.

    Yesterday we spent some time exploring lower Galilee. This doesn't mean the southern side of the Lake of Galilee, but rather a place that's lower in elevation from upper Galilee, a mountain range to our north. It's mainly around the north side of the lake even though it's called "Lower." That might be hard to visualize, but there it is. We started the day with a boat ride across the Sea (Lake) of Galilee (I guess this is a must do for tourists). There was actually a pretty cool moment when the boat guy stopped in the middle of the lake and played super old, super cheesy worship songs and our whole group lifted voices and eyes to heaven in praise. It was another one of those moments, you know? Being a part of the "the church" on the Sea of Galilee, singing praise to the Creator in the middle of the lake. Even though our voices echoed off of nothing, we were heard.

    We disembarked on the north side of the lake and made our way up to Capernaum. This is the town that, on a few occasions in the gospels, is called "Jesus own town" and his "home." It is likely the home of Peter and his family. It was here that Jesus healed the man lowered by his faithful friends through a broken ceiling. The conversation of the day was a converasation about authority. "By whose authority" angry men ask. Jesus taught by an authority that certainly wasn't given to him by the Jewish leaders of the day, so they want to know. We know who gave Jesus the authority to speak, but that's because we witnessed the transfiguration along wih Peter and John. They hadn't, so it was a legtimate question. Jesus answered the question by doing what only God could do: forgive and heal a lame man and send him walking back through the thick crowds.

    Mt. Arbel is a high and very rocky mountain that juts up into the skyline on the west shore of the lake, near the town of Tiberias. I'll post pictures when I have my computer back. You can see it from the north and east shores. It doesn't necessarily dominate the skyline, but it stands out in sharp relief because of its craggy and imposing appearance. When our professor said, "We're going up there!" I got pretty excited. Mt. Arbel is an important site to modern Israelis because it was the site of another Jewish revolt where Roman soldiers had to work long and hard to oust a group of rebels holde up in mountain caves and on sides of cliffs.

    For Christians, the site doesn't hold specific Biblical reference, but our professor made a strong case that two important, geographically undetermined events happened here. He believes that both the sermon on the mount and the Great Commission happened on this spot. As we sat on top of the 1200 foot cliff, it was not hard to picture Jesus looking across the lake to Hippus, a Roman city that appealed in its worldliness, set high on a hill and saying, "No, YOU, oh, Israel, are the city on the hill." It's not hard to picture him looking down at the village of Magda (home of Mary Magdalene on the west shore of the lake) and telling people, "You are the salt of the earth." (Magda was a town that specialized in the preservation of fish). It's not hard to picture him looking down at the International highway from these heights and using it to tell his disciples that they were to take the gospel to all corners of the earth. I have loved watching as Jesus took the things that surrounded Him and taught theology to his friends.

    That's what I have loved so much about this experience. There isn't much out here in Lower Galilee that is "high church," with airs and pretentions. Jesus became more of a man to me out here. Like a real flesh and muscle man. I think back home, I have a better grip on the God-side of Jesus. I can picture him floating above the water and healing people. But Jesus didn't float everywhere. He walked on caloused and dirty feet. It's no easy hike to the top of Mt. Arbel. You don't get to the top without sweating and panting.

    You don't walk these hills and swim these seas without getting the scent of human all over you.
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  • Day4

    Neve Ilan

    November 12, 2017 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 55 °F

    Good morning from Israel! Quite the whirlwind of travel and planes and luggage and people. The details there aren't all that exciting except to say that it was long, but not overly stressful.

    However, the thought that came to me this morning is that whether or not we're ready, because "Here we go!" All the preparation that we have been putting this is now at the point of testing. Did we remember the razor? Did we leave enough cat food? What about the name tag? Did we remember the blasted name tag!?!?

    Now we get to really see if we're ready.

    Carol (my wife for those that don't know us) sent me a powerful devotional this morning from Living Proof Ministries.

    "I’ve thought over and over in the last five years," it said. “We’re unprepared for what has befallen us. Our discipleship, generally speaking, is not matching the demand of our violent, unstable days. We who follow Jesus were timed for this exact era on earth. God thought we were capable of serving it or He would not have planted us in this bloody soil at this moment in history. He’s a strategist. We leaders and teachers and mentors and communicators can either embrace what has been entrusted to us or answer for it when we see Him."

    The author goes on to talk about the lost call of discipleship in the church today. Like that gritty discipleship of old where you walked on hard paths and you made life altering decisions for the cause of Jesus Christ. That type of discipleship that was not needing to be coerced, entertained or played to. It was a sold out commitment to a cause and to a revolution. It was a cause that would call for suffering and rejoicing... simultaneously! It was the type of discipleship that equipped one to suffer persecution and gave cause for joy.

    Are we ready?

    I hope the call of Jesus Christ to perseverance, sacrifice, strength, love, faith and defiant joy in these times of chaos will be heeded by the church. I want to be like Paul described Epaphras who was “always struggling” on behalf of those he served, that they might “stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.” (Col.4:12)

    Your prayers are appreciated for our own readiness... as we face day one in Israel and as we, as followers of Jesus Christ face whatever it is He has for us.

    Blessings.
    More to come.
    Paul.
    Read more

  • Day20

    Mass at Holy Sepulcher & Temple Mount

    May 26, 2015 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 64 °F

    Today we had a day off class, and we were free to do as we pleased. A few of us decided to wake up early, drive the sleep from our eyes and attend a pre-dawn Latin mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The empty streets (see photo) were such a different experience than the chaos of the days before. When we got to the church, we could hear the music before we walked in. Gregorian chanting, done in the great room of that cathedral was certainly something to behold (photo). It is (if you’ll remember) the likely place of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. There isn’t much to compare to a high mass in that kind of setting. It was something that I will not soon forget.

    After the mass, we made our way down to see if we could get up onto the Temple Mount. This is the structure that used to be the foundation for God’s Holy Temple, but now is the site of a mosque called the Dome of the Rock (gold-domed structure in photos). The Dome of the Rock is a magnificent piece of architecture that was completed in the 1300’s. The mosaics (see photos) are absolutely stunning.

    For Muslims, this place on the Temple Mount is considered the third most holy place on the planet (after Medina and Mecca). Of course, the Jews consider the Temple Mount their most holy place and as Christians, we make our own claim on the place, alongside the Jews.

    The temple mount is not always open to foreigners, but right now, there is enough peace between the Palestinians and Jews that we were granted access. As we made our way up the steep ramp from the site of the Western Wailing Wall to the top of the Temple Mount, a Jewish man below shouted “Remember, it is not the Muslims who are discriminated against, it is the Jews!” For the time being, I could make nothing of that comment, but that would change soon.

    As we walked through the archway onto the Temple Mount, we were greeted with very contrasting impressions. We were surrounded by lush gardens, beautiful fountains and breathtaking architecture. But the tranquility was broken by large groups of old men in traditional Muslim garb chanting to Allah, heavily armed soldiers shouting various things at various people, and Muslim women chanting loud prayers in high-pitched voices.

    We weren’t quite sure what to think. Or how to feel.

    We made our way around the mount, ourselves being shouted at a few times for stepping where we were not supposed to step or trying to go where we were not supposed to go. It was very tense, and this feeling was exacerbated when a group of Jews came onto the Temple Mount and all eyes turned to them. Most Jews are forbidden on the Temple Mount (and I suspect many would not be caught dead there), but some choose to go anyway to get that much closer to the Holy of Holies.

    As they entered the courtyards, the chanting Muslim women started yelling at the Jews in screams of anger, running over and shaking fists. This caught everyone’s attention and suddenly, a group of men reading from the Koran abandoned their studies and started to close in as well. Shouts of “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is greater) filled the air from both men and women. The Jews were immediately surrounded by security police who escorted them to a corner of the Temple Mount where they could worship, unmolested by the Muslims. The fray died down and we scurried down to the safety of less tense places.

    As I watched this unfold the man’s words echoed in my ears, “It is not the Muslims who are discriminated against, it is the Jews!” and I had new insight. This hatred has existed for a long time and there is nothing easy about the answer. Both faith traditions lay some valid claim to this area. But, as we walked away, it was so obvious that all was not right with the world. Shalom was not here.

    There was once another ancient conflict between the Jews and a group of people called the Samaritans. Jesus addressed it in John 4 “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

    And the heaviness of the day was lifted as our team broke bread together over dinner. Although it isn’t always obvious, things are going according to plan.

    I won't be posting for the next few days. We take a field trip to the south and the Negev, a stark desert regions. Temperatures of 110+ to be expected. I'll keep good notes though and post when I return to Jerusalem.

    In the mean time, Shalom!
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  • Day15

    Excavations, Holy Sepulcher

    May 21, 2015 in Israel ⋅ ⛅ 68 °F

    We woke up early this morning and headed back out into the Old City. This time we went to visit the excavations in the area of the southern side of the western wall (Temple Mount Excavations). We sat on the steps that used to lead up to the temple, the probable location where Jesus taught and learned as a 12 year old. This was also the likely location of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2. We read Peter’s sermon from the steps and listened in as Peter pointed behind himself to David’s tomb. We could see the tomb from where we sat and it was not hard to imagine that we were there.

    From there we headed into the heart of the Old City and spent the rest of the morning absorbing the massively complex Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Here, pilgrims from almost every Christian faith tradition find themselves in awe. For those who don’t know, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is built on what was likely the site of Jesus’ death and burial. Golgatha. Good archaeological and historical evidence points to this being the very place where Christ died for you and for me. You can imagine the sense of awe you might feel as you walk amid devout believers, venerating this holy site. The church houses the highest point of the rock quarry that once made up the hill of Golgatha, as well as the traditional tomb of Jesus.

    We’ve learned that there are connotations associated with all places. In other words, every place evokes thoughts and feelings when someone speaks its name. When people of the Bible say, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” it shows that there is a connotation that is associated with that place. Similar to the connotations we have when we think of place names we know such as “Hawaii,” “Compton,” “Detroit.” As modern readers of ancient Biblical texts, this is largely lost on us. At best, a place name is simply another dot on the map (for those who even bother to look at a map).

    But each name carries so much more.

    I left the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and wandered alone back through the shops and vendors of Habad Street. Haggling and turmoil all around me, but I was lost in the sense of inspiration. I am coming to understand some of the connotations of the name “Jerusalem.” But I am only scratching, scratching at the surface.
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  • Day5

    Choose Life or Choose Death

    November 13, 2017 in Israel ⋅ 🌫 46 °F

    It's a good place to begin. Any trip that starts in a garden seems like it'll be a good trip. Our first stop here in Israel was a Biblical Garden in the hill country of Judah called Yad Hashmona. I took a bunch of photos there, only to discover that I had forgotten to put my memory card back into my camera. I want to go back and recapture them, but those photos are gone now.

    But even with that little mishap, a garden is still a good place to start a journey. Adam and Eve started in a garden. Theirs was a garden with a choice. They were going to choose to obey God or not. One way would lead to life and the other way would lead to death. "I have set before you life and death," God would tell them. "So choose life." (Deut 30:19).

    We ended last night with a dark drive down 3000 feet to find ourselves on the shore of the Dead Sea. This is the lowest place on earth. It actually feels like you're closer to the center of the Earth here. It's dry, the air is heavy and hot. This sea is dead and you can tell.

    One of the reasons this Dead Sea is a dead sea is because it has no outlet. The Sea of Galilee to the north teems with life as the Jordan river flows in and then right back out. It brings nutrients and life in and the Sea of Galilee responds by letting nutrients and life right back out.

    But that same Jordan river only flows into the Dead Sea. Nothing flows out of it. So the water sits.

    All that potential for life sits and stagnates.

    "I have set before you life and death,"

    My devotional this morning reads, "Whether in Eden or Canaan or California, our decision remains the same. The land where we live - be it lush or desolate - is the stage on which we act out God's glory. Regardless of our location or influences, God gives us a choice each day from which tree to eat."

    Paul writes to the Romans in Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

    As we walk through our days today, may we see every opportunity to overflow with hope and to bring life.

    Because if hope and life get stuck in us and never flow back out, it rots.
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  • Day15

    Day 3: Morning

    May 21, 2015 in Israel ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    We are learning to organize Scripture as a “walker” would (nothing to do with Walking Dead here). Our typical ways of organizing Scripture are either by theology or by or by topic or by the layout we have in our Bibles. In Biblical times though, literacy and access to the text of Scripture was virtually non-existent. People didn’t pass books to one another, they passed on places. They built altars in places to remember the movements of God. Deuteronomy reminds us to pass on the stories of God to our children as we “walk along the roads.” Travelers would move from place to place and as they did, they would move from story to story.

    Stories fill these places.

    Rarely do we organize Scripture geographically. But now, as I walk among the stories of the Old and New Testaments, I find that “place” creates connections of Biblical texts as I have never seen. One place carries so many stories. Each one is an important reminder of the ways in which God has broken into this story of humanity.
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  • Day3

    Jaffa

    December 8, 2018 in Israel ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    Our first stop on our pilgrimage was Jaffa which was the first port city in Israel. We spent some time exploring St Peter’s Basilica which has some extraordinary Stain Glass Windows. We also saw the Mediterranean Sea and the old light house. As well at that we also saw Simon of Tanners house, who was believed to be St Peter’s friend while he was spreading the word and teachings of Jesus.Read more

  • Day10

    The room of the Last Supper

    December 15, 2018 in Israel ⋅ 🌬 18 °C

    We visited the room where Jesus would have had his last meal with his disciples. This is the traditional location of the last supper. This is where Jesus and his friends celebrated the first ever mass and took part in the first ever Eucharist ceremony.

  • Day4

    Jerusalem

    December 9, 2018 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    After having mass at the Shepherd’s field we then visited the Israel Museum. Here we viewed the model of Old Jerusalem which was absolutely amazing. Our tour guide explained how Jerusalem has changed over time and used the model to allow us to visualise this. We then went and viewed the Dead Sea Scrolls which were found in a cave in Qumran by some shepherds. These were the first recorded written text of the Old Testament. This was such a historically rich place where I learnt so much about the history of this wonderful place.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

State of Israel, Israel, እስራኤል, Israhēl, إسرائيل, İzrail, Ізраіль, Израел, Isirayeli, ইসরায়েল, ཨི་ཛ྄་རེལ།, Izrael, Їздраил҄ь, ཨིཛ་རཱེལ, Israel nutome, Ισραήλ, Israelo, Iisrael, اسراییل, Israa'iila, Isireli, Ísrael, Israël, Iosrael, ઇઝરાઇલ, Izira'ila, ישראל, इजराइल, Izrayèl, Իզրաել, Israele, イスラエル国, ისრაელი, Israeli, អ៊ីស្រាអែល, ಇಸ್ರೇಲ್, 이스라엘, ئیسرائیل, Ysrael, Medinat Yisrael, Yisirayeri, Isirayelɛ, ອິສລະເອວ, Izraelis, Isirayele, Izraēla, Israely, ഇസ്രായേല്‍, इस्त्राइल, Iżrael, အစ္စရေး, Isuraeli, इज्रायल, Israèl, ଇସ୍ରାଏଲ୍, Израиль, اسرايل, Isiraheli, Israëli, ඊශ්‍රායලය, Izuraeri, Israaʼiil, Izraeli, இசுரேல், ఇస్రాయేల్, ประเทศอิสราเอล, ʻIsileli, İsrail, ئىسرائىلىيە, Ізраїль, اسرائیل, Isroil, Israel (Do Thái), Orílẹ́ède Iserẹli, 以色列, i-Israel

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