A recent conversation with a young pastor about rest revealed how seldom we take Jesus’ commands about rest to heart.
In our crazy multi-tasking world, some look at resting as being lazy, but God created us with the need for rest. LIke a car needs fuel, like a phone needs a re-charge, like a computer needs an occasional reboot, we need rest. We need refreshing – body, soul, and spirit.
I remember a pastor asking the congregation one Sunday if anyone got so busy they forgot to eat. When I raised the only, lonely hand to a bit of laughter, he amended – except for her. It is an unusual thing in our circles, but Mark 6:31 tells us it does happen and did happen to Jesus and the disciples…
” And He *said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)”
I love searching out the original meaning of words and several of the uses of the word rest in Hebrew have varied, but similar descriptors:
a cessation, a pause, a quiet, a rest:
a giving of rest:—holiday
a resting place, state or condition of rest:—place(1), rest(2), rested(1), resting place(2), security(1).
to lead or guide to a watering place, bring to a place of rest, refresh
The New Testament verses I checked with Greek commands to rest had identical meanings with the additions of
to refresh, rest upon: —rely upon, rest upon.
rest: —repose rest.
to cause to cease, to rest: —given rest, rested, restrained.
—and for my young pastoral friend who enjoys naps:
to lie down to rest with, fig. to be refreshed in spirit with: —find rest
Family and friends have told me they find rest in ways as varied as their personalities: some by gardening which seems like work to me, but is restful for them. Others by going into nature, and seeing God’s creation – getting away from the hustle and bustle of work and life’s many demands. Some by opening God’s Word, or by playing soothing music, and still others by taking a short nap.
Are you a goal maker like I am? I long for summer, and always make goals to find time to rest, but it doesn’t happen as often as I like, so I’ve made a new goal: a 15-20 minute rest in the sunshine, (or fresh air on alternate WI days), usually reading fiction or affirming non-fiction that allows my heart and mind to relax. I am still working on developing a sufficient sleep schedule because we know the many ways our resistance is lowered from insufficient sleep. I used to regularly work through the night (free from interruptions), with little to no repercussions physically, but find each year it takes longer to recover from such events. I know I’ve experienced some of those side-effects from lack of physical rest and in addition to some probable poor decisions, slower than healthy reactions, and close calls that probably required a legion of (exhausted) angels watching over me, I wonder what I have missed spiritually.
Now you know why I have “rest” in my daily and weekly goals this year.
How do you find rest? Is rest one of your goals for today, or at minimum for each week?
Lev. 16:31 “It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute.
Interesting supplemental reading is found here on the biological Shabbat clock in our bodies
Of course we don’t keep Shabbat because we are biologically attuned for it, but it’s nice to know that the One who created the world in six days and then rested on the seventh, gave us the Shabbat not only as a commemoration of His work, but as a perfectly timed rest from ours.
My Aunt Angie explained how Uncle Tony sent her messages during war-time, and how she was motivated to read “between the lines,” to look in secret places (like under the postage stamp), and to understand and savor things that other readers did not see.
That prompted me to consider if I read, savored, and searched my letters from God in such a consistent and detailed manner.
How do I read God’s Word?
Like a newspaper?
Like a billboard ad?
Like a love letter?
Like a history story?
Like a call to action?
Like a cookbook?
Like a foreign language to interpret?
Like an instruction manual?
Like a treasure map with clues?
Like a living and active supernatural living Word?
Although I’ve read my Bible every one of those ways, my favorite way to Read (look at, comprehend the meaning of, pore over, be absorbed in, interpret, understand) is wearing my spiritual ‘headset,’ and listen to God.
Listening to God
“Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God.” – John 8:47 NLT
When we listen with intention we ask God to make us gladly willing to hear and obey what His words say.
We read with the intention to find what will make us more Christ-like, and to make an accountable plan to fulfill that application
Application is desiring change
When we listen we observe:
I don’t know about you, but I often tend to list for God what I cannot do, and honestly, I think he’s been waiting to hear it J, so he can laugh, and say, “I know.”
Activating Faith –is my call (charge to go and do or be)
Every go includes a do (an act of obedience)
Every do has a promise of provision
What did you read yesterday?
What did you hear yesterday?
Were you challenged to follow a command or did you learn something new?
I stood in the grocery line behind a man 20 or more years my senior. The bent arch of his shoulders spoke of defeat and sadness. His dull eyes turned toward me, showing little hope. “Go ahead,” he said, “I’m retired and have nothing to do when I get home but watch TV.”
I was approaching my retirement with great anticipation and told him how I was eager to visit mission fields, to read all I could and to write about how God rescued me from myself.
What if those few words meant as much as they seemed? Did that little man actually stand straighter, as he shook his head at my enthusiasm while promising to read the little booklet I handed him?
What if God had me in that store, at that moment, not just to speak to this dear lonely man, but to hear him, and to hear God’s message for me in that moment to write this story for you?
What if is a question we should never stop asking. What if you write your stories too? You know you have had some strange, some wonderful, some tender, and some frightening experiences. What if you were to publish them in those free magazines available locally, and reach those who cannot afford to buy books?
What if you were to share them at your library? What if you wrote your stories electronically on a blog similar to this one? Or, what if, like Moses, (in Exodus 4:1) you cringed in fear and whined, “What if they will not believe me, or listen to what I say?” What if you let fear stop you from writing your stories? What blessings could you miss?
What if is a question I like to ask every morning. What if God’s Word is true? What if God wants to make a difference in someone’s life through me today?
Go ahead – Be the Miracle! Write your stories. Be God’s hands and feet as you live out His story of The Good Samaritan. Be the voice from heaven as you share the difference His words and His love have made in your life.
“ So, go now and write all this down. Put it in a book…So that the record will be there to instruct the coming generations” Isaiah 30:8 (The Message)
God has placed you in a sphere of people that you can influence as I never could. As you go about your day today, I challenge you to wonder about the stories people have to tell…the clerk at the grocery store, the gas station attendant, the nurse’s assistant, the neighbor leaning over the fence or stoically shoveling mounds of snow. What if a story could give them hope?
What if a simple offer of a cool or warm drink could free their hearts to share their stories with you or to ask what is your story?
Would you believe a cow turned me into a miracle-believing lady? Though I’d always known about Jesus dying on the cross, and the Bible being God’s words, it took a couple of amazing and unexplainable events for me to understand miracles could happen to me and through me!
Not realizing we were risk-taking, hubby and I hopped in the car and headed for Colorado. Youthful and ignorant in the ways of the world, we’d learned the night before that the Navigator’s who produced the Bible studies our friend had given us were having a conference so we packed up and went! When a startled young man answered our phone call, made when we were already halfway across the country, where we got to thinking maybe we should have told them we were coming (!)
The conference was full, but separate rooms across campus were found for us. Consequently we only sat by each other during meetings and meals, so we didn’t compare notes until on the way home. When we both started sharing the identical leading—to give a certain amount to a specific missionary for 6 months—we knew God was at work. The only amount in our budget that matched the leading was for food. Would God ask us to give up food? We said we would, and God surprised us with every meal in a most unexpected way.
That is from Surprise Us for Dinner, God, the first story in my 31-day personal-challenge devotional, Be The Miracle! When God did that miracle (delivered a cow when we asked Him to surprise us for dinner!) at the beginning of our Christian life, we knew He was real, and that He dealt with people on a personal level. If God could do this, we figured He could do anything, and our faith grew with every story.
Each of the true incidents tells how God led me to bless someone else (often a stranger), or how others brought us an unexpected answer to prayer. Often when I share my stories, some women are excited to tell stories of miracles in their own lives. Others wonder if God would do miracles through them too.
I always share that God is not a get-your-prayers-answered-here vending machine. But God does call all of His followers to put our hands and feet (and less often our voice) to our faith to be what I call a delivery-girl for God. Just as we represent our spouses with our children, and our supervisors with the public because we know them so well, and can anticipate their response to a situation, we can know God in such a personal way that we can represent Him to others too.
That takes time. In Be The Miracle! the life changing lesson, verse and challenge for each story will help you get in God’s Word and be the miracle—the messenger delivering an answer to someone’s prayer.
Now, Be the Miracle 2nd edition has scripture guided journal pages so you can record your own adventures in faith!
If you have a miracle story, or want to know more about my book come visit my blog at http://deloresliesner.com
Delores’s Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Everyone’s Story: Meet Delores Liesner @DLiesner & see why she wants you to be the miracle! (Tweet This)
June 7 – 7-8 pm CST –
Delores Liesner @DLiesner: What’s up with cows and miracles? (Tweet This)
Women of Faith escapade
Date: September, 2011
Original Goal: Attend a Women of Faith event together
Original Setting: A nearby hotel
Supercharge Instigator: Marvel
Here’s how it went: A belated birthday gathering (Marvel and Marlene both early September) met at my home in Racine. I’d obtained tickets to a Woman of Faith event with fun surprise stops on the way for whatever food or fun intrigued the birthday girls. It was lots of silly fun, but none of us knew what Marvel would do (I think she even surprised herself!) Our first surprise was the location. Apparently many of the hotels near the event were filled or just not ‘exciting’ enough for Marvel. The picture above gives a peek into our shared surprise which turned out to be more reasonable than the hotel would have been – especially considering the luxurious setting and treatment in a . . .
Yes, a bed and breakfast – catered to our desires and health needs, plus
a hot tea/coffee as desired wake up call or snack served in our porch
Of course, Marvel also arranged for a tour of the historical building. The couple who ran the B&B were witty, charming, knowledgeable and so friendly we felt we were leaving long-lost relatives when we headed to the Women of Faith event the next morning. We thought if we got bored or tired we could head back to our classy temporary residence a little early. I’d been to a Women of Faith event in the past and thought I knew what to expect (get in line, wait a while, longingly eye the artists’ tables on the way in, enjoy the concert, shop on break, enjoy more music and testimony and head on home). However, I’d let slip my mind that Miss Marvel was traveling with us.
Consequently while waiting for the doors to open we paid no attention to the fact that neither of us had seen Marvel for a few minutes, until the door opened and she called from inside (INSIDE? how had she gotten INSIDE?) come quick and say yes. Adventurous and on a lark, we obeyed and shouted YES! She reached around the door and grabbed one arm and instructed us to hang on and stay with her. And we ran to a spot where a group was gathered and receiving instructions of ‘where to go.’ “I got us free tickets,” she whispered, and possibly some perks if we work before and during breaks. Marlene and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. Okay – here we go. The before ‘work’ was distributing packets of material in every seat for the 8,000+ attendees. We then were introduced to our assignments. Marlene and I for Liberty University, and Marvel selling/marketing at one of the huge settings for author books, CDs, tshirts and so on.
The two “more mature” hunny bunnies had fun with the youthful staff at Liberty (who actually gave us hope for our country’s future) and received cards for a free future Women of Faith event.
Meanwhile baby-bunny Marvel endeared herself to the managers of the event’s sales, racking up more sales than any other section at the event. She did bring us the potential perks she hinted at (her motivation she said).
The only part of my expectations that were fulfilled was enjoying the concerts and speakers which were outstanding. The rest – being on a first name basis with some well known people, (at least for two days), hauling off all kinds of goodies, exchanging addresses and photos with new friends from across the country., and having stories in abundance to share when we got ‘home’ to the mansion (ha ha doesn’t that sound pretentious) was like whipped cream on the hot chocolate.
Yep, there was a cozy place to enjoy that too as we told our tales
and a place to relax and work on a puzzle.
What a wonderful honey-bunny trip that was – full of adventure and surprises.
Marlene and I agree you could say it was MARVEL-ous!
You too can have adventure (and even high tea) – but you might want to check if it’s the week we are attending – you might get more than you planned on! Click here for- Schuster Mansion Info
When the Honey-Bunny’s get together, things happen. But how do we ever abbreviate our UNPLANNED 5,000 mile trip (one day short of a month)
Marlene and I talked often about taking a trip to help Marvel empty her Florida storage unit, but our baby sis continually postponed with “as soon as” she started or finished something. All our lives were crazy busy and we wondered if it would ever happen. Marlene, the organizer, had had it. Long-distance calls were rare, so when caller ID revealed her number; I answered with concern.
“Nothing, I just figured Marvel’s delays will go on forever if we don’t do something.”
“Like, I’ll be packed in an hour, and I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Yes!” she laughed, “Try to get some sleep – we have a lot of driving to do.”
The next morning we meshed plans: mine – to see Nashville, Amelia Island, and 3 friends who lived along our path; Marlene’s included Dollywood, a couple in North Carolina, and a son in Florida.
Marvel ‘s response was shock and then the unexpected –she’d ride back with us, visit her daughter, a friend in Tennessee, and Elvis’ Graceland, then fly home from Wisconsin. An hour later Marlene and I headed south, laughing and zipping in and out of flea markets, caves, and gem mines. Instead of 2 days, we took a week. Besides, things happened.
Near Nashville, the GPS went wacky, directing continuous turns around a deserted gas station. Finally I pulled in, yanking out maps, when a southern drawl called, “Y’all need help?” Neither of us had seen a car there, but the fellow’s chuckle indicated he’d watched my red Vibe do the loop-de-loop. We explained we were headed to Nashville but the GPS was malfunctioning. Instead of pointing us toward our goal, scratched his jaw in thought. “You can always see Nashville on the way back,“ he drawled, pointing us to Cumberland Gap Highway and Asheville. “You’d have more daylight to do things then,” he added. It sounded reasonable and we were frustrated it was twilight already. There were other things we wanted to see in Asheville anyway, so we thanked him and drove to where he pointed.
The moment the car glided onto the Cumberland ramp, the GPS made a loud ZZZZIPPP and then worked fine. Huh.
Marlene drove and I photographed beautiful scenery until black clouds rolled toward us, and moved rapidly over the car. Marlene commented that she was glad we were headed a different direction than that big black cloud.
The next morning’s news shockingly reviewed the flooding we’d escaped in Nashville. We prayed for those affected and wondered again at the GPS insanity and the mysterious man’s directions.
Blocks shy of our Asheville lunch destination, we stopped to walk and check out street vendors. Nearly to the restaurant we’d chosen for lunch, sirens blared and police blocked off the street due to a fire in that restaurant! A nearby vendor who overheard us wondering what else we could possibly escape suggested an international experience in another direction –Jerusalem Garden Café, joking he’d better warn them we were coming. Perhaps he was right… there was the breakfast incident after Savannah’s carriage ride, and using Marlene’s arm for a windshield-wiper the last hour to Lake Worth. Yep, things happened.
The storage unit was 120o inside so we worked fast, giving away most goods to families at the units. Completing the goal was celebrated with a middle of the mall shoulder massage, triple-breasted chicken dinner hilarity at Sawgrass, and sharing 5 desserts.
Five wild days followed as we headed west then north toward home, visiting Marvel’s daughter Trinity, Amelia Island, friend Becky’s farm, Marlene’s friends, Marvel’s friends south of Nashville and Benita and Barb, whom I’d worked with at Horlick. Down the mountain from Barb’s beautiful Comfort Mountain rental (best stay of the trip highly recommended) was Dollywood.
Dolly Parton’s unexpected personal appearance thrilled Marlene, and Marvel got a marriage proposal for all three of us on our way to Memphis! Marvel’s southern-Tennessee baker-friend greeted us with bunny shaped chocolate, and later, warning of washed-out mountain roads, directed us north to Nashville, then south to Memphis. In minutes we grew impatient and took a shortcut cross-country. Sign 5 minutes later: Road closed. When a truck drove between the sawhorses, I drove through too – discovering a damaged bridge and startled workers. Pulling up a slight hill to turn around, another construction truck rumbled toward us, the Tennesseans hollering, “Hey! We’re the Cooper brothers and we’re looking for some good women to marry.” Marvel had shoved the video camera in our faces since dawn, so we voted her to leave the car, garnering her the first invitation to change her name to Cooper. Hilariously, the brothers directed us out of the maze, stopping twice for hilarious proposals and laughingly bemoaning our happily-married status.
After Graceland we searched nearby museums’ Army photos because Marlene’s husband drove jeep for Elvis’ unit, but afternoon flood warnings convinced us to head for home, and look for a restaurant.
“What kind of restaurant is that?” Marvel exclaimed about a Missouri billboard ad. “They were throwing rolls!” I knew instantly: Lamberts. I’d wanted to go there.
A quick call to my daughter produced the phone number, and soon Marvel was sweet-talking the manager. “We’re the Honey-Bunnies, and have driven almost 5,000 miles to find a Lamberts. Please direct us there…” The laughing manager greeted us on arrival, with three entertaining servers!
I slid to the back of the booth watching waiters dance with Marlene, toss rolls across the room, and sending so much food home we filled the ¾-size motel refrigerator, providing proof that where the Hunny Bunnies go, things happen!
Hunny Bunny Sister Trips. There’s nothing in the world like them. I have two sisters. Once we determined we’d waited way too long to spend some sister time together, we began planning a trip. We decided we wanted a theme, and noticed when recalling memories of our dad a particular phrase came up repeatedly – hunny bunny. That is what Daddy called us – his hunny bunnies. . We all have different personalities, and our nickname (given by our dear Daddy), developed over the years, from a proof of love in the midst of a crazy family life, and a mutual support group, to a lighthearted public persona that recaptured the freedom we missed in our childhood.
The first time the two (slightly) older ones decided to visit the baby in Florida. We ordered shirts with bunnies and our new group name and went where? Disneyland of course!
Dressed alike, we got stopped and asked, “Are you somebody?”
“Of course we are – we are the Hunny Bunnies!” and we happily posed for pictures.
It was fun to be silly, and free from all of lives little downers. How could you be sad when people constantly reminded us how “lucky” we were to have each other!
Life intervened after our Hunny Bunny “tour” and it was a full decade later we met again.
We realized how much we’d missed shortly after we picked up the youngest of our trio at O’Hare Airport in Chicago and headed for Branson.
We’d just slid into a retro diner, when Marvel let out a screech. The waitress ran to our booth with concern, only to find three women convulsed in laughter at the discovery that we were all eligible for the senior discount!
Though we only spent 2 nights in Branson, we likely set a record with our schedule, dashing from one event to another and sliding into theaters as the curtains rose for the show. We had not realized the traffic jams we’d be facing on the —main road — but even that provided a hilarious memory.
We’d obviously over scheduled but intended to get to every show we’d paid for – and I’d turned the wrong direction to finally enable us to get to a show with more than seconds to spare. The only thing we hadn’t figured out how we would do was to get one of those period costume pictures, and as I pulled the car into a tiny mall to turn around, we realized that was exactly where we were. How much time to the next show, Marlene asked? Twenty-five minutes. We dashed inside as customers left, bemused at our hurry, and confronted the owner with our need. She laughed at the challenge, grabbed some dresses off the rack, posed us and snapped away. In under twenty minutes we grabbed the pictures and dashed for the car and the next show.
With no reserved tickets, we assumed we’d have to split up, and made plans to meet at the door after the show. We opened the doors to the usher’s warning that the show was about to begin, looking to the right – no seats – and then to the left – 3 seats all together. Just as our seats glided into the theater’s, the lights dimmed and the fellow next to us joked, You gals must be somebody…you arrive and the show begins! Marvel giggled back that he had it correct – we were the Honey Bunnies!
Whether physical or spiritual sisters or best friends, (we are fortunate the Hunny Bunnies claim all three titles), we encourage you to not wait as long as we did. Grab your sibling or friend and head for the road. New friends, great adventures, and memorable sights will greet you. In addition to dreams come true, lots of hope, healing and hilarity await you if they are anything like our trips!
Have you had a sister trip yet this year?
In addition to the Holocaust Museum which was extremely emotional for me, we visited the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, where we saw the Dead Sea Scrolls and an impressive miniature of New Jerusalem. In Bethlehem we saw the Bethlehem Shop of olive wood carvings. At the City of David archaeological park,we learned about the excavations of King David’s palace and the newly discovered fortresses of Solomon – a place known in the Bible as the “Hall of the Mighty Men.”
Many in the group (not me) were ready and eager to crawl through the waters of the ancient Gihon spring through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the actual tunnel built by King Hezekiah to preserve the water flow to the city when they were under siege. I was emotionally overwhelmed by this point with all the information, the sights, and the scriptural unveilings of battle and victories.
We had some time to visit the marketplace displays and many stores, have lunch in the fresh air and a little friendly banter with the shop owners. I was surprised to see fresh squeezed juice less expensive than bottled juice. The food was ok but expensive. French fries were $8 and lemonade was $7. We later found others haggled price for lunch. We should have. Some of the market displays (like the spices shown below) were amazing.
Farewell Dinner was in a Christian Armenian Restaurant. It was in the old city of Jaffa on the coast near Tel Aviv, where Jonah once tried to flee from God.
The dinner was the usual several courses of varied salads, breads, lamb meatballs, vegetables, and with dessert came a surprise birthday cake with a candle for one of the girls.
Below was one of the restaurant owners’ markers of faith displayed throughout the restaurant
– the Lord’s Prayer.
Goodbye Lego buildings
Goodbye Pool of Bethesda
Goodbye Mediterranean buffet
Goodbye new friends
Knowing this place was the origin of mankind brought a deeper viewpoint into everything we saw, learned and did. This is where my faith began. This is where the first Christians were brought to faith. This is where Jewish God followers were marked and persecuted. Where I stood, those in the spiritual hall of fame (Hebrews) stood for faith in so many ways, and this is where Jesus, the Christ answered all the enemies by sacrificing Himself. For us. For me.
A high point was St. Ann’s Church, hearing and joining in song as we approached St. Ann’s church near the Pool of Bethesda
For a sample… Click the links below on More! and on Singing. The sound cuts off on the first one as there was a respectful silence followed by calls of More! More!
We didn’t want to leave… but the time had come. I am grateful God called Cliff Graham to this ministry, #goodbattletours.com, and gave me an opportunity to see, hear, and know many of the stories of this land. Others who have gone said they were forever changed.
Now I understand.
Warfare History in Jerusalem —View of the Old City from the Mount of Olives
This huge ancient olive tree was in the Garden of Gethsemane in Kidron Valley
We were told how some of these trees have been there from antiquity and were not hundreds, but thousands of years old. Olive trees can be cut down to the ground, and appear dead but it will grow again. New shoots of life will rise again from the roots, becoming a symbol of Christ rising again. Hearing about the olive trees was a lesson in continued growth and fruitfulness in advancing age, no matter appearances, no matter circumstances or trials. Not only are the olive trees extremely long lived and natural survivors, they point us to our roots of faith in the past, when olive oil was used to anoint kings and prophets, and to our future when olive oil will be used to anoint the King of Kings when the Messiah returns. The remains of Gethsemane was a very small area. Some believe these are the original trees, but others think they are new generations as historian Josephus reported the trees were cut down by the Romans in AD70. Other research from 2012 concluded that all eight trees originated as cuttings from a single parent tree. Introspection from those details made me wonder will the branches of our family be identifiable in time to come? What time and prayer do I need to invest, surrender, and wait for so those roots will grow and rise again?
A few of us did not go with the group on the walk that led to Gethsemane as it involved a lot of stairs but the bus was going to meet us there. A half dozen of us took the stair-free shortcut but there was no crosswalk to get to the church and garden. I suggested that I’d experienced respect for the elderly and decided to test it out. I put one foot in the street and waved my hand. The cars came to a halt and the driver and passenger waved as the group followed ‘grandma’ across the street!
We’d also seen the old border fence area where the last battle in 1967 (the Six Day War), the Israeli paratroopers united the Old City with Jerusalem, and walked through the famous tunnels where Christians fled persecution and where soldiers had carved some treacherous, rocky, muddy underground passages. I took the least challenging tunnel but it was still interesting in light of a dvd documentary In Our Hands that I’d seen shortly before this trip. Highly recommend it. Plaques on the wall of the overlook commemorated some who gave their lives for Israel’s freedom.
I don’t know why I was surprised to learn the Armenians were brought in to repair these temple designs.
My name means many sorrows – so it was special to actually walk the street where Jesus walked to the cross called Via Dolorosa
and near that was the Arab Market –
the Shuk, with hundreds of stores yet in between the hustle and bustle, sights like the men playing backgammon
Other sites included several beautiful gates, the Holy Sepulcher – the largest Church in Jerusalem,The Jewish Quarter, the renovated Cardo and the Davidson Center Museum where we saw some of the ancient scrolls.The remains of Caiaphas’ House, where Jesus was kept. Then Mt Zion and the Garden Tomb.
The last photo is of a picture from years ago that shows more clearly the skull directly above and behind the camel in the pictures. After decades of decay that area is below and to the right – you can barely see parts of a skull. Whether it was here – or near – as you often hear in Israel – it was an important place to remember what Christ suffered for us, and we were all provided a precious time of communion in the gardens outside of the tomb with songs and prayer offered by one of the pastors in our group.
Masada was more than a stronghold, it was the site of a last stand against the Romans, and an almost total suicide to prevent the Romans from declaring a murderous victory and taking any survivors as slaves. It was originally built as a magnificent palace for Herod the Great, and was possibly the stronghold for David referred to in the Bible. It was like a box on top of the mountain, and had some marvelous design features like water capture, hot and cool bathing, beautiful tiled designs, storage rooms, the mosaics and the Byzantine Church built at the top.
About half our group took the tram to the top of Masada, and the other half climbed the legendary Snake Trail. Those of us who took the tram had time to view a small museum at the bottom, including a brief video overview.
Hear the detailed story of the Jewish zealots as narrated by the ancient historian Josephus about one of the most decisive battles ever for the Jewish people and Israel. At this great fortress we will visit the bath house, the
We all descending to the bus by walking along the siege ramp built by the Romans that still remains, then rode the bus to a Bedouin camp. There we enjoyed a special visit with Middle Eastern hospitality and experienced a camel ride, and had my favorite meal on the trip. Stuffed grape leaves, lamb meatballs, artichokes and peppers on couscous plus salads and desserts.
Next a bus ride via the Negev Desert to the Elah Valley, site of the famous battle between David and Goliath, where a couple of the guys reenacted part of the story while Cliff read and expounded on a gripping devotional of what took place here and why. My heart was struck with David’s bold confidence in God.
We continued the ride – our ascent to Jerusalem, 2,400 feet above sea level, via Beit Shemes and Emmaus. We got our first glimpse of the city from the Haas Promenade, the area where most armies surveyed the city before preparing to invade it. Another huge buffet dinner (which explains why I only lost 1#) and overnight in Jerusalem.