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.
Day 4 in Israel – the best is yet to come
I’m sure many of you heard the story of an elderly woman who wanted to be buried with a plastic fork. The reasoning was that much of her life had been spent at church socials and at the end of every meal as the plates were cleared away she was told to hold on to her fork because “the best is yet to come.”
Each day of our journey I, or some of the 45, would say this was the best day yet. Cliff often replied, “The best is yet to come.”
Several boats were on the Sea of Galilee. One group was singing praise songs as they approached the pier. Next it was our turn!
Here is video of us on the boat on the Sea of Galilee.
Day 4 in Galilee – with #goodbattletours.com
It was surreal realizing I am in Galilee!
Several boats were on the Sea of Galilee. One group was singing praise songs as they approached the pier. Next it was our turn!
It was great after the previous days walking to relax on the boat for a few minutes – a few minutes because I saw one of the ladies whispering to one of the boat staff – turned out she requested we be taught to dance the Hora! Wonder what Peter would have thought of that!
Cliff videoed our fun exercise and then read to us from the New Testament some of the stories of Christ and the Apostles that happened on this water and in this area.
We also drove through the Golan Heights to Caesarea, Philippi and the Banias, one of the water resources of the Jordan River. Itai and Cliff taught extensively about the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur war, the two conflicts in the 20th century that most shaped modern Israel, then we stopped at the “Valley of Tears” and heard the amazing story of that four day battle.
Back to the Sea of Galilee area, we visited Capernaum, walking among the ruins of this Biblical village, including seeing the remains of the Synagogue where Jesus preached.
Then we drove up to the Mount of the Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount and saw a video about
finding the remains of a 2,000 year-old fisherman boat, known as “The Jesus Boat” since it dates to the time of Christ, which is now in the museum there.
Day 2 – was about arrival and the Ancient Words that formed this land, this people, and this trip. Ancient Words still alive and speaking to us today.
Day 3 – Ancient Israel – Stones of RemembranceDay – Everywhere in Israel you see stones – mostly this white stone Jerusalem stone. the statue carvings, the buildings, the sarcophagus, caves, everywhere are stones. One of the guides told me they had to make rules such as not stopping excavation for new buildings for everything (though they still do when they find human remains) because new discoveries are a daily occurrence.
One of the books that made a great impact in my early faith life was Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard. The main character who starts out as “Much Afraid” (and later receives the new name of Grace and Glory) has a habit of piling stones of remembrance after each victory. Each day, or more like each hour of each day in Israel we saw stones of remembrance as we also heard the corresponding scripture story and history behind each site.
Drive to Caesarea by way of the famous highway known in the Bible as the ‘Way of the Sea’. Explore the ruins of the Roman and the Crusader city, reconstructed Roman portions, walls from the times of the crusaders, the prison area where Paul was held in captivity before being sent to Rome.
We saw the remains the Hippodrome (Roman horse racing theater), remains of a Roman aqueduct, Mount Carmel, the site where the Prophet Elijah fought with the prophets of Baal and won, a breathtaking view over the whole Valley of Jezreel, better known as the Valley of Armageddon, the famous Tel Megiddo— a city that was fought over continually.
At Megiddo, we saw the remains of King Solomon’s Stables, an altar from Abrahamic times (around 4,000 years old), and the magnificent water tunnel, and across the valley viewed Mount Tabor, where Deborah and Barak met to plan their wars against the Canaanites, and the springs where Gideon selected his army and discuss why it was done in that fashion.
Then it is arrival at our hotel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
Heading down the path (now stairs) the women took daily to scoop up water to carry back on top of their heads!
It was amazing to stand here (or near) the place of the beginning of civilization. To watch and listen to Cliff and Itai read the scriptures and realize that those words were written for all of God’s family for instruction, correction, and tender encouragement
Zech. 9:16 And the Lord their God will save them in that day
As the flock of His people;
For they are as the stones of a crown,
Sparkling in His land.
Old and new. It began at the airport in New York just before we left for TelAviv. We were invited to join a Purim celebration!
We were given noisemakers. We watched the reading of the whole Megillia – the entire book of Esther – in Hebrew – about 15 minutes (!) and participated with groans and noise every time Haman’s name was read. Whew.
Little gift bags were shared that contained Haman’s hat cookies and candy. We were instructed to share them with others, so everyone exchanged. That’s when I noticed.
We eager foreigners, were, of course, taking pictures with our phones and cameras, but I had not expected the Rabbi’s standing nearby to pull theirs out too! It just seemed incongruous for these gentlemen in ancient regalia to have a modern iPhone in use 🙂
That rather set the tone for the entire trip. Day One was mainly arrival but also some introductory scenes – the airport, the bus ride to the hotel, Tel-Aviv (not a tourist town), the little grocery store, the lego-like construction going on everywhere, people in costume for Purim and the Mediterranean Sea.
Not sure what was with the death warning – probably a high voltage pole. I felt safer here than in Milwaukee or Chicago. Walking on the beach at sunset again we saw old and new – always and constantly new construction going on – sometimes the new on top of the old, or seeing the old view through plexiglass on floors.
First meal in Israel – plate was my selections from about 20 choices set up buffet style.
Notice the Schindler elevator
And the journey began – Lessons on the bus on the way to new adventures – tomorrow Caesarea and many other stops – usually 7-8 a day.
We traveled with Cliff Graham and the Good Battles Tour group. Itai and Marla were our Hebrew guides.
For more info: http://www.facebook.com/cliffgrahamauthor
The trip’s Instagram account is http://www.instagram.com/israelbattletours
In any of those services, you can also click on the hashtag #goodbattletours and see where travelers are going to be tagging their posts.
It was amazing to stand in these places, to realize I was where all civilization began and in places (here or near as they say) where Jesus, apostles, warriors, and ancestors were. It was remarkable to hear scriptures read at varied sites and to view what was being spoken.
Old and new – Ancient Words.
Still true and still changing me and bringing new life and hope.
The more you think about Jesus, the more you will think like Jesus
This week I’ll be focusing on Jesus, thinking about Jesus, and pondering how Jesus walked
I’ve been particularly entranced with the idea since 2001 when I found Bruce Feiler’s book and dvd Walking the Bible.
Feiler had a learned, religious man as guide through the historical places where Jesus lived and walked.
I will have a learned godly man, leading me and others through some similar territory, but with a special emphasis and perspective from one who walks with God.
Walked in the Bible means more than to propel oneself forward on foot
1John 2:6 says: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (original word meaning behave or conduct)
And how did Jesus conduct or behave himself? In such a manner that the Spirit of God was recognized in Him.
John 1:36 tells us how John perceived this man walking toward him:
and he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
What do people see where we walk? How we walk? When we walk?
In what manner do we walk?
Is the Spirit of God recognized in us by the manner in which we walk (conduct ourselves/live?
Will walking where Jesus walked cause me to think about Him? I’m sure it will. Will that experience also make me more like Jesus? I hope so.
Pictures coming. In the meantime, let’s focus on our walk – more important than how many steps we walked, what did we notice? Were there people with a story to tell? People who want us to listen to them?
What or who did we notice? What did Jesus do when he noticed someone?
Here are a few examples of what Jesus saw and how he walked:
Matt. 8:18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side.
Mark 9:25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.”
Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Mark 12:34 And when Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.
Luke 13:12 And when Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.”
John 1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”
John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”
What can we learn from things Jesus said?
When Jesus looks at me, he sees that I too, have a “condition” and have been a long time in it. Jesus knows that and asks me the same question.
I know there have been opportunities before the moment when Jesus asked, “Do you wish to get well?” Jesus saw the people. Jesus listened to them. Jesus observed their needs and weaknesses.
Sometimes I play/try to get out of the condition on my own, but Jesus offers freedom with His authority.
I hear Him asking: Do you really want to get out of that habit (condition) that you’ve been in a long time? Do you want to be free of it’s enslavement?
Yes, I do.
I’ve been meeting with a wonderful group of supportive friends discussing food and how there are often spiritual needs (or lacks) behind some of (most of?) our physical habits.
It’s refreshing to encourage one another to develop healthy habits and a healthy life. without condemnation.
Sometimes I feel too busy to take the time to plan healthy snacks or meals, or when out doing errands to choose to find healthy and exceptionally delicious foods, or to even eat at all. I married a good man who stops me in my tracks and asks, “Have you had lunch yet?” When I start to whine that I have so much to do, he reminds me that I will have little strength and “thin attitudes” if I allow my body to get dehydrated or weak, and that I am cheating those I want to nurture if I don’t nourish myself physically.
It is also vital to nourish our souls so we have something to feed others spiritually too! Ken is awesome at scripture memory and I taught our kids to have quiet times when they were toddlers. I’d give them a book, and let them observe me across the room being quiet for a minute reading and praying. Gradually I upped the time to five minutes, then seven minutes. Those practices helped them and helped me too.
All of those things are habits we develop bit by bit, day by day. Nourishing ourselves, strengthening others, and allowing others to nourish us.
God has a lot to say about nourishing us too!
“The LORD will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring” (Isaiah 58:11, NLT).
So, I need to make it a habit to go to the well, and sit for a while, allowing God to guide, and refresh me.
We’re not to make the matter of food a way to impress God. What is that saying – eat to live don’t live to eat. Food was made as a temporal thing with a short life – to sustain our bodies for a short time. Food rots. Why would I go to something that rots before going to God for ever-lasting nourishment?
Matt. 6:25 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.
Then there are emotions. I know I often eat emotionally – sad, glad, or rushed – they are all excuses to grab chocolate, or curl up with a bag of potato chips. None of those things are bad – but eating just that can be a very bad habit affecting every area of our lives. When I don’t eat well, my body doesn’t run well, and I get more tired and crave more junk.
Do I eat differently when I go out with someone who will treat me to a smorgasbord of elaborate foods? I still forget sometimes that it takes 20 minutes for food to settle, and if I eat until I feel full, I’m likely to also feel sick. The last 3 words of this verse speak of another habit:
“When you go out to dinner with an influential person, mind your manners: Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full. And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite” (Proverbs 23:1-3, MSG).
Several days of this week I will be at speaking engagements – and they are all at meetings that involve eating! On the way there and back and in between I’ll be spending time with some delightful people and we will also be eating together. I’m sure I will have a lot of temptations before me.
I’ll be praying this prayer for those in my circle of outreach in life and praying for myself too – to let this awesome week be an example and an encouragement – and the strengthening of good habits!
3John 2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
Did you get that last phrase? It gobsmacked me! – When I turn it around (don’t you just love reconstructing sentences) Here’s what I read:
Just as (how) your soul prospers
May you prosper to the same degree in every work and ministry you do
May you be as healthy physically as you are spiritually!
Now there’s my thought for the week
I pray it nourishes you too.
Nobody Loves Me… Please notice me!…
That’s the way a majority of the world feels today. Not everyone will be getting a bouquet of roses, a box of candy or even a valentine. The “Commercial Holidays” as my hubby puts it, makes many singles, widows, widowers, orphans, feel sad, so let’s notice them tomorrow!
There’s familiar (a neighbor, a clerk where you often shop or get service of some kind)
unfamiliar, (saw a fellow pushing a bicycle through the slush today),
A small gift card or a little gift useful to male or female can bring joy by lifting some hearts that they were noticed. If you have time, they may even want to chat with you.
Be prepared to answer why you are giving them a gift –
I am so cared for and want you to know God cares for you too
27 days to Spring – Sunshine is on the way!
A little gift from the one who created hearts
In memory or honor of a loved one (often share my Daddy’s love for people or how Mom loved surprises and ice cream!)
How easy can it be with a day of hearts!
Grab some baggies
Insert some color (heart or flower cut outs or cardinal pictures – or a drawing your kids made)
Insert a little message – a verse, a proverb, a song, a random picture of a flower or something that evokes hope,
Insert a treat – something individually wrapped and decadent like a Ferrero Rocher Hazelnut Chocolate Candy, or something useful like hand lotion, a pair of dollar store mittens, or a small gift card to get a hamburger, sandwich or coffee, ice cream cone, some quarters for laundry/parking meters, rummage sales, etc..
How many smiles will you get tomorrow giving out your baggies that say You Are Noticed?
Phil. 2:1 If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,
Phil. 2:2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Phil. 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;
Phil. 2:4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Phil. 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus
Happy Valentine’s Day!
2Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
Simplicity, in my experience, is usually found in Single Servings – One at a time.
There is a very profound ongoing growth principle in the Bible. It is the Put On – Put off principle.
To put off complicated put on simplicity
To put off overscheduled, put on a single focus – one at a time
To put off indecisiveness, put on a single decision
Breaking the Fast has long been described as the most important meal of the day. Yet I often skip it as I have so many plans to accomplish
Relating that to my spiritual life, the first thing I need to do daily is to fuel the spirit with healthy life-giving fuel.
Start with 7 minutes (1 min for thankfulness (I look at yesterday) – 2 min to read a verse or three – 1 min to write down any directive to do, not do, start or stop – 1 min to pray for someone else this makes you think of and 1 minute to pray for yourself, 1 min. to write out last thing first (if nothing else gets done today – what was one most important thing you to accomplish), and close with 1 min. to praise God for what He is going to do today
Mid-day refueling is something I also often skip – too busy with the day’s plans, too involved with others plans for us, or too tired already from trying to complete an impossible list for the day. Too busy to nourish, or snacking on quick unhealthy and often unsatisfying tidbits.
Hydrate body and spirit – Take 1 minutes to drink water, 1 minute to stretch, 1 minute to review a scripture verse and 1 minute to remind self that because I am in Christ, wherever I go and whatever I do, I am bringing Christ into the situation.
Rather than vegetate on the sofa, overeating by the television, too tired and then to full to get up, I need to plan my next day’s ‘bites’ so I can enjoy a peaceful evening time.
Make a menu of all three meals, preparing what I can in case I have to run out and do errands, I can grab a healthy choice in my Bento and fuel while on the go. Similarly, write out my memory verse in large print on a card I can pocket and glance at throughout the day.
I don’t foresee my life slowing to a lounge-by-the-pool pace anytime soon, if ever.
Can you relate?
Simplified living is about more than doing less.
It’s being who God called us to be, with a wholehearted, single-minded focus.
It’s walking away from innumerable lesser opportunities in favor of the few to which we’ve been called and for which we’ve been created.
It’s living life in Single Servings.
Are you dishing up at least three times a day? Keep it simple, body and soul.