Thursday, March 29, 2012

Incredible you want to come to Israel this fall??

Living in Israel for the past couple months, I have become quite overwhelmed with this land, the people, the conflicts, and the purposes God has in all of it. As you know, I have seen soooo much, and have begun to experience His amazing heart for Israel. I want to share it with all of you very much, that's why I created this blog, and have hoped to transmit just a small portion of what I have been blessed to experience.  But much more than that, it would be an honor for me to personally be with you when you see Israel for the first time.

This fall Michael will be coming to Israel to join me for the last 11 days that I am here (November 25th-December 6th). I have arranged for a private tour guide named Aubrey, who is adjunct faculty here at JUC, to take us around the land of Israel in a private vehicle (10 passenger van, including driver and tour guide). We will be coordinating the itinerary together, but believe me, this will not be an ordinary tour...where you are crowded into a bus and herded to all the popular tourists site, and often told wrong information about them. We will be seeing things that many never get to, as God leads us to visit the often more remote places where He wants to touch our hearts. We will have a full itinerary, but also take time to pause and pray and look at God's Word as we experience the Land.

The first several nights we will be staying right in the Old City, at the Gloria Hotel, where we can walk to many sites, including the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, the City of David, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Garden Tomb, and soooo much more.  We will also take day trips, e.g, down to the Dead Sea, Masada, Qumran, etc. The next several nights we will be staying at a beautiful resort on the Sea of Galilee. From there we will see many northern sites, and of course, Capernaum and the places where Jesus did most of His earthly ministry. We will return to Jerusalem for the last couple nights, possibly staying at a beautiful log cabin guest house in the Judean hills near Jerusalem.

I could tell you much more, but I just wanted to put out the invitation and ask anyone who may be interested to contact me asap at my email address for more information. Obviously, we only have seats for just a few people, our space is very limited because we want to keep the group small (actually only about 4-5 seats left). You would need about $1500 to purchase the plane flight very soon, and about the same amount of $ for the hotels and tour expenses, but that half won't need to be paid until just before the trip in November.

I am praying the Lord will stir the hearts of the ones who are to come and be with us. 

Many blessings to you all,

Baptism in the Jordan River! come see what it is like...

Yesterday I had the awesome experience of going with one of our students, Clara (who is dear to my heart) to be baptized in the Jordan River. She was baptized by another one of out students, Ikwan, who is a Korean pastor at a Korean congregation in Tel Aviv.
 This is where we turned's about a 40 minute drive from Jerusalem, near Jericho, in the Jordan River Valley next to the wilderness.  This is the actual site (or close to it) where Jesus was baptized, as the scripture says he went down from Bethany to the Jordan, and Bethany is close by.  There is another more popular site for baptism up near the Sea of Galilee called Yardenit, but this one is closer and just right for Clara, who has been wanting to do this for weeks.
 Clara has to get here's the women's changing area.
They have these cool bamboo changing booths.
 Look what I get to wear!
 Here's the site...the Jordan River is not very wide here. That's the country of Jordan you see across the river with the church, as the Jordan River is the border between the two countries.
 Clara with her 2 roommates, Chelsea and Liz.
 Ikwan goes in the water to check it out, but went in a little too deep!!
Definitely a great and memorable day in her life:)
 Ok, here goes....(watch the video)

 Baptized, Blessed, Beaming...
 A little Korean boy about to be dedicated to the Lord and baptized.
Dad proudly holds his son as Ikwan blesses him with the water of the Jordan River.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Derek Prince's gravesite, and an awesome mural

A couple days ago I was walking along a street with Hermana, and a gate was open to a cemetary.  Hermana said "this is where Derek Prince is buried, but I've never seen the gate open" (well-known Bible teacher, great friend of Israel), so we walked inside to see his grave.
 Derek Prince's grave, I love the inscription.
Here's his grave again, and right behind it was this most outstanding huge, life-size mural, painted on the wall surrounding the cemetary, depicting the history of the Jewish people.
 I can't show you the whole thing, because it's a work in progress, but it starts here with Adam and Eve.
 Here the seed of the woman (the Lion of the Tribe of Judah) is crushing satan's head.
 Abraham and Sarah.
 This one is Hagar and Ishmael.
 Here Joseph is reunited with Benjamin and his brothers.
 Moses and the Red Sea.  In the middle of us looking at the mural, we see a woman with a paintbrush, she is the artist and has been painting this thing for a couple years, still working on it. We spoke with her for quite some time, and even prayed with her. Her name is Patricia, she is a Christian, not Jewish, but loves Israel. Her website is if you want to know more and see more picturesl
 This part of the wall is above a smaller stone fence, but that is Miriam dancing after crossing the sea.
 I had to show you this one, and the sun was shining on it so the picture is not as great ....intead of depicting the cross (because a cross is very offensive to most Jews), she depicts a lamb with a crown of thorns on his head being led up the road to Golgotha towards an altar, going of his free will, along with a roman soldier and a jew. She received this image in a dream and then painted it.   Beautiful.
 This is the garden scene after the resurrection. Mary recognizes her risen Lord.
Here is Jesus in His glorified state in the book of Revelation chapter 1. The sword out of His mouth, the seven stars in His hand, standing amidst the 7 lampstands, which are the churches, etc.  Powerful..I had never seen an artist's depiction of this before.

Just last night, at a meeting at Succat Hallel (the 24/7 house of prayer), I turned around and there was Patricia, the artist!! We talked some more, and she is going to come visit me at the University. How cool is that:)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

4th day of Field Study - Sea of Galilee!! Capernaum! Climbing Arbel!

 We began our day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, the students were climbing aboard and everyone was so excited.
 It was a very hazy day, and you couldn't see much on the shoreline, but we really didn't care, we were boating on the Sea of Galilee, the one that Jesus walked on and sailed on many times. While in the middle of the Sea (actually an 8x13 mile lake), they cut they engines and we were taught about ancient fishing - about the different types of nets they would use i.e. drag nets,  cast nets, and trammel nets, there were all different techniques, which we know that Andrew and Simon, James and John were all well aware of. Capernaum (our next stop) was a huge fishing center - we know that from the number of fishing piers they have found. The water level of the Sea of Galilee is essentially the same as it was in Jesus' day.
 Driving toward Capernaum, we see the Jordan River and how it looks just before it enters the Sea of Galilee at the northern end.
 Here's the entrance to Capernaum, the city where Jesus stayed at Peter's house and conducted much of His earthly ministry from. I love this place.
 There are remains of a synagogue there (photo below) that dates after the time of Jesus, but the black basalt (volcanic) stones you see at the foundation are the ones dated from Jesus' times and are likely stones of the synagogue that He preached in.
 Here's the synagogue remains. The remains of what they think is Peter's house is next to this, with a church built over it.
 This is still at Capernaum, down at the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
We sat down on rocks on the shore, Dr. Wright read scripture, and a hush fell over the group. We literally sat silent for about 15 minutes, most of us praying, listening to the lapping of the water on the shore, meditating on where we were, knowing Jesus spent most of His ministry in this very place.  I did a quick video of this quiet time, so go ahead and listen for yourself:
 Now we are at another city's remains: Chorazim. This Sea of Galilee village is only mentioned once in the NT, in Matthew 11:20.  Jesus rebukes Chorazim as one of the cities that He had done most of His miracles in, but did not believe!  So He must have done a tremendous amount of miracles here, but there's not a mention of one in the Bible. Just knowing He was there was good enough for me.
 Chorazim has good examples of an 'insula', which is the most common New Testament era housing. It is a cluster of several rooms around an open courtyard, usually shared by two or more related families, all under the father's roof. When a son grows up wants to get married, he and his father add a room to the house to prepare for the bride. Do you remember that verse in John 14 where Jesus says "in my Father's house are many mansions", and I go to prepare a place for you, etc.?  That word mansions really means a dwelling place..and what it really means is that the Father and son have added on a room for us to come live, and still be under the Father's roof...pretty awesome!
 I don't know what this is, but we had fun posing for the pic, I am on the lower left.
 Ok, get ready for another scary hike!  The bus drove us up on top of this mountain with cliffs called Arbel, and it overlooks the Sea of Galilee. Our job was to climb down it. I am standing on the top, and see this sign.  I am trying not to get too close to the edge, because it's a straight drop down.
 Of course we had to have class before we begin the climb down. Dr. Wright is using the map to show what we were looking at.  I'm just sitting there twitching, anticipating what is about to happen.
We start walking, and I see this through the crags in the rocks.

 We have hiked for several minutes, when we come upon the sheer drop of a cliff....ok, so this is the hard part.
 All I can say is BLESS whomever put the rope handles into the cliff so I had something to grab when we were going down!! I told Liz, the young girl ahead of me, that I was going to watch her feet and put mine exactly where she did...I concentrated on that and listening to several students cheering me on (they know I don't like heights too much).
Well, praise the Lord, I must be down (whew!! I am sweating!!) because I am taking this picture of where I just was. Wanna see just a little video of it?  Here you go....

It got easier!!  The rest of the climb down was rock/dirt paths and occasional steps, that just kept snaking down the rest of the mountain...I was so relieved to be down the cliff part that this was definitely a piece of cake. I got out my phone and called Michael while I was walking down:)
 Looking up above the path...alot of the students climbed up there(above the path) to check out some caves in the cliff...those were inhabited for centuries.  I didn't feel like climbing back up, I just wanted to keep going down...
Hey, I found my own cave right next to the path that I didn't have to crawl up to get into it.
 Clara is up above me yelling " HEY CHERYL!!!  so I snapped her picture:)
 This is looking down below me, there's family with children on the path ahead of me, working their way down.
 I am all the way down, looking back up at where I was, on top of those cliffs!! I deserve a chocolate ice cream bar! (so I bought one, it cost 12 shekels - about $3, and was worth every penny and every calorie!)
The little stream at the bottom of the mountain, I just love the running water.  We are now finished with our 4 days of field studies (until next time, which is in 1 1/2 weeks - when we go to Jordan!), so we got on the bus and headed back to Jerusalem, my home away from home.

3rd day of Field Study - The Golan Heights, Northern Israel

This day we were in the northern and northeastern portions of Israel, up on the Golan heights, an uplifted land above the Sea of Galilee area that belonged to Syria before the 1967 war. This land was called Bashan in the Bible, and looking out my bus window I see the 'cows of Bashan'  (Amos 4:1)
We saw hundreds of these danger signs on the Golan heights...that's because there are literally MILLIONS of undetonated landminds that were planted in this area during the previous conflicts with Syria. Believe me, none of us ventured past the barbed wire, but I felt sorry for the unsuspecting cows in those fields...instant hamburger.
We are at an ancient sight called Hazor, but before looking at the ruins, I had to look at the beautiful field and old ?crusader building in the background.
Just before we got to this sight, we stopped the bus to get our first glimpse at the snow-covered Mount Hermon. This huge mountain is part of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range, and is the major source of the water for the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee.  It has snow on its peaks all year long.
Back to Hazor, this was an absolutely immense city, a crossroads for international travel, as people coming from Aram (Damascus) would need to come through here, or even people going to Damascus from Egypt would travel through here.  This is an olive press. I guess you would put the olives in the basket, then use the rock weights to press down on them.
There are four main streams or rivers that feed and create the Jordan River. This one is the Dan stream. The water is full and rushing, as Israel has received abundant winter rains this year to end a 7 year drought. Hermana said she has never seen this much water in these streams in the 12 years she has been around Israel.
We are at the tel Dan (did I 'tell' you what a 'tel' is?? It's a mound, not a natural hill, that has layers of villages been built on it over the centuries, because back then if a city was destroyed, they would just rebuild on top of it. The tels have the shape of one of those stands an elephant puts its legs up on).  Dan was even further north than Hazor, and also on the ancient international highway routes.
This is the ancient gate to the city of Dan that has been unearthed.  It is made of mud brick. Normally, a mud brick structure would not have survived, but this one was apparently filled over with dirt when they built another larger and more elaborate gate of stone up higher, and the people covered this one over with dirt and preserved it.
Now we are at Caesarea Philippi, also called Banias. The large opening you see in the middle is a huge cave that this water used to flow out of, and where a pagan temple and sacrifices were made. This was a huge center of pagan worship to the god Pan, there was a temple to Pan, and also a temple to worship Caesar Augustus that Herol built. So all that's bad, but what's good is that Jesus came here, and it was in this area of pagan worship that Jesus asked his disciples the ultimate question "Who do men say that I am?", and then "Who do YOU say that I am?" We know that Peter answered "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God", and Jesus said "upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it", etc.  This is a picture of the rock He may have been standing by when He said that.    This stream Banias is also one of the four major sources of the Jordan.
We took a long hike along the Banias stream, on our way to see some water falls.
We are up above the water falls, looking down, and hearing the thunderous sound of the crashing water. This is all water coming out of the mountains that will go to the Jordan, and end up in the Sea of Gailee.
We hiked down to the bottom of the ravine and see the river is furiously rushing, again this is the most water the locals have seen in many years.
Here's Hermana, my south African friend, sitting next to the river which is just below the Banias falls.
So we made it down to the base of the falls. If you get too close you get soaked with spray. I am taking this video while listening to Hermana sing from Psalms 29 - It was a profound moment, to see and hear this water crashing and have her singing this scripture.
The abundance of cold, fresh, pure water coming from Mount Hermon.
Here's another view of Mount Hermon at one of our stops.
Now we are on Mt. Bental, which is an extinct volcanic cone. Down below Steven and Natalie, you are looking into Syria.
This used to be a military base up here, and I am manning a gun, a true watchman on the wall:)
As you can see, you can go anywhere from here.
We saw this view into Israel from Mt. Bental as we were leaving to go back to our hotel.
I don't know how this picture got in here out of order, but this was from the tel Dan, where you see those steps going up was site of an ancient temple.