May 2015
  • Day0

    Still home...

    May 6, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 54 °F

    I leave in less than 2 weeks for a 21 day trip to Israel with Tozer Seminary. I thought that I would keep a bit of a travel journal for this particular trip, mainly because I want to share the experience with friends and family. I often have big intentions with things like this though, and then it turns out to be too cumbersome and tedious. Like dieting, I often abandon the effort quickly. Hopefully that won't be the case this time.

    I'd like to start it off today, see if I can generate some interest and hopefully I'll stick with it.

    Feel free to try to keep me accountable and, God-willing, we'll all learn a lot on the journey.

    I leave May 17. I'll start updating again then...
    Read more

  • Explore, what other travelers do in:
  • Day11

    Last breakfast...

    May 17, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 63 °F

    Last breakfast with Carol and Sam before I catch my ride to SFO. ? I'm going to miss my girls. If you're not signed up to follow my travel blog on FindPenguins, what are you waiting for? It's bound to be so exciting that people will skip meals to be a part of it. (I wouldn't, of course, but people who don't care about food as much might.) Don't miss out.Read more

  • Day11

    San Francisco International Airport

    May 17, 2015 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    Now for a 13 hour plane ride to Istanbul, Turkey... See you on the other side!

  • Day12

    Tel-Aviv Israel

    May 18, 2015 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 97 °F

    It was an uneventful flight from Turkey to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. I sat next to a kind old Jewish man named Moshe from Northern Israel.... he has a small home on a hillside overlooking the border, just south of Beruit. He splits time between San Francisco and Israel where his wife and eight kids live. He works on high-rises with clients from all over the world. There was no Kosher food on the flight so he didn't eat. I felt bad eating my chicken salad in front of him, even though he wasn't missing much.Read more

  • Day12

    Jerusalem University College

    May 18, 2015 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 93 °F

    We have arrived! Here's a photo of most of our group. Mostly students from Simpson who are often more well versed in Bible knowledge than I am. Dead tired. :) Good night.

  • Day13

    Day 1: Morning

    May 19, 2015 in Palestine ⋅ ☀️ 70 °F

    Tozer taught that the teachings of Jesus were so deeply disturbing to the "natural mind" because it takes from sinful men, the power of self-determination. "It cuts the ground out from under their self-help and throws them back upon the sovereign good pleasure of God-and that is precisely where they do not want to be." I'm sitting here right outside of the old wall looking out over the city. This is said to be the site of the new Mt. Zion. I have to wait to get started to figure out exactly what that means, but suffice it to say everything just seems so normal. Cars honking, chain smokers, brakes squealing. Nothing "supernatural" here. Just a regular old city.

    Yet here I am in the place where the unnatural became natural. And I can see how easily that would get lost in puffs of exhaust from tired out old cars.
    Read more

  • Day13

    In the Kidron

    May 19, 2015 in Israel ⋅ 🌙 75 °F

    After morning class today, we spent six hours walking an overview of the Old City of Jerusalem. We’ll do this two more times before we leave Jerusalem. We entered the Zion Gate, about ¼ mile from where we’re staying. Walked down to and out of the Dung Gate, wandered past the City of David, down into the Kidron Valley, up through the Lion gate, out the Damascus gate, then back through the Christian, Muslim and Jewish Quarters, finding ourselves exhausted and happily back at the Zion Gate. Most of you won’t care about that, but for those that do, you now know.

    My favorite spot of the day was to sit in the small valley of Kidron while our professor read Psalm 130. We all squinted in the scalding sun as we took in the history of this place. 1 Kings 15:13 tells the story of Asa around 913 B.C. in the Kidron valley, burning "an abominable image for an Asherab" which his mother, Maacah, had created. He lit the fire in the Kidron Valley, not far from where we stood. As Hezekiah again sought reform for the nation about 200 years later, "all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of Yahweh" was carried to the brook Kidron (2 Chronicles 29:16); "All the altars for incense took they away, and cast them into the brook Kidron" (2 Chronicles 30:14). Josiah’s reforms of Israel in the 7th century B.C included bringing “the Asherah from the house of Yahweh, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and beat it to dust." (2 Kings 23:6).

    “The Kidron Valley is a place of cleansing. It is the place where God puts things right,” he said. Which then makes it no surprise that Jesus’ return will be right above this spot, on the Mt. of Olives. “On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east.” (Zechariah 14:4)

    As we sat in the Kidron Valley and listened to Psalm 130, it was a blatant reminder that we too need to come to the valley every once in a while and purge our lives of the burdens and sins that weigh us down. Our idols, our high-handed sin… bring them on down and beat ‘em to dust. Then make slow, steady climb back up out of the valley to the Holy City.
    Read more

  • Day14

    Day 2 Morning

    May 20, 2015 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 63 °F

    Tozer writes, "I am on record, and will be as long as I live, that I would rather lose a leg and hobble along through the rest of my life than lose my sensitivity to God and to His voice and to spiritual things."

    I'm wandering along through my "Mornings with Tozer" devotional, skipping days, reading four days in a row, getting distracted easily by sounds. I feel like I'm wandering through the tightly enclosed hallways of the Jewish Quarter. My time with God has always been far from linear.

    Yesterday's chaotic walk through the crowded old city had everything to do with Jesus, but even strolling along the Via Dolorosa, the disconnect is profound. I tried to be so intentional about sitting there, tuning everything else out, straining to imagine His journey to the cross. And when I could put myself there, it lasted for less than thirty seconds. Maybe less than 15.

    Waking up to city sounds again this morning reminds me of the difficulty of hearing from God in the fray. He's present, I just have to watch for Him like a hawk for an unsuspecting field mouse.
    Read more

  • Day14

    Western (Wailing) Wall, City of David

    May 20, 2015 in Palestine ⋅ ☀️ 81 °F

    Today we walked back into the Old City via Zion Gate. We went to the Broad Wall (an ancient remnant of the wall around Hezekiah's Jerusalem). Then we made our way through the security checkpoint to the Western Wall (Wailing Wall). From there we made our way down to the City of David and the incredible Hezekiah's Tunnel.

    In Florence, over a decade ago, I begrudgingly paid the fee to walk into the museum that housed Michelangelo's David. As I viewed the statue from my low perch below, I was overwhelmed at the sight of it. On that day, I was not expecting to be moved. Today as I walked toward the Wailing Wall, that same feeling came flooding back over me. My throat tightened and tears started to well up in the corner of my eyes as I neared the wall. I struggled to find a small spot between worshipers and tuck my hastily written prayer into any available crack.

    The Wailing Wall is part of the retaining wall that held up the foundation for the second temple. It is the last remaining portion of the structure and is currently the closest thing that the Jews have to their ancient temple which housed the very presence of God. For this reason it is a place that is so important to Jewish worship. There is a sign leading up to the place where the Temple used to be (now where the Dome of the Rock is located) that says that no Jew should enter the place above because they may inadvertently enter the Holy of Holies and be struck dead.

    Standing at the Wailing Wall today, I laid my hands on the smooth stone, worn by millions of hands and lips that have rubbed the roughness away. I allowed the profundity of the moment to sink in and found my way to Hebrews 10:11-14 and the words leapt off the page into my heart.

    "And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified."

    I prayed for the people around me who were rocking back and forth and crying, and as I backed away from the wall, they continued to offer their powerless sacrifices.
    Read more