Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

JFK Airport

“Start spreading the news…we’re leaving today…”

Well, bad rendition of a Sinatra classic but good news!  We are in New York and waiting for a Jet Blue flight at 6:10pm to head to Boston.  Then into auto’s and driving home to the family.  If all goes well I should be hugging Kim and the kids at 10:00pm tonight!

As far as the strike in Israel goes, they postponed it for another week.  Thanks for your prayer on that one!  It’s good to be back in America…

At the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv

Well, we, along with everyone else in Israel that wants to leave the country and fly home – wherever that may be – are here at the airport.  Getting through security and to the ticketing agent was a nut house!  To all of you who have complained about airport troubles before – we trump your stories!  It is currently 4:36am, we have not slept in 20 hours and may not for many, many more.  The good news is our plane is scheduled to take off for New York at 7:15am.  The bad news is that the airport is set to shut down due to the Civil Workers Union strike at 6:15am.

Please continue to pray that we get on our plane as planned and fly the friendly skies back to the greatest place on earth to live!  Israel is great and I have fallen in love with this land – but New Hampshire is home, and that is where I want to be!

One thing that they have over us in the states is that I am on free wireless right now.  Can’t beat that…

I’ll keep you all posted as to our status.  If you don’t see any new posts anytime after midnight (your time) we are on a plane headed home.

Shalom!

Something to watch as we fly

We’ll be on a long flight back home to the States. In the meantime. Enjoy watching Bono’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast from 2007.

Travel Plans Changed

Well, rather than leaving tomorrow morning at 6:00 to head to the airport our plans have been changed.  With the Civil Workers Union Strike to begin at 6:15am on Thursday, thereby shutting down all operations at the airport we have been pushed to an earlier flight.  We will be leaving for the airport at 12:45am as we need to arrive at least 5 hours before our flight so that we can pass through security and get loaded onto the plane prior to the strike.  Our flight is not scheduled to leave until 7:15am so we may have a “Jet Blue” experience forth coming…

Pray that we have a pleasant surprise at the airport and that everything occurs smoothly.  I want to get home as scheduled so I can hug my wife and kids!

Via Dolorosa and Church of the Holy Sepulcre

We walked the Via Dolorosa today.  It all began in a place called the Praetorium.  This is the location where Jesus was beaten by the Roman soldiers.  The floor of the courtyard where the beatings took place still exists.  They have built a chapel over the site to protect the stones.

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As we made our way through the narrow roadways that are now cluttered with many small stores and marketplaces I could not help but feel the intensity that would have been present as Jesus struggled along carrying the cross towards Golgotha.  The Via Dolorosa ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcre.  This, according to Catholics, would be the holiest place on earth.

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While it is a very beautiful building filled with ornate gold lamps, chandeliers, and candlesticks of great worth – there was a hollow feeling there.  I will not leave much commentary here on this other than genuine praise that we serve and worship the Living God!

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We then headed to the house of Caiaphas, the chief priest that Jesus was brought to after being arrested at Gethsemane.  Under a chapel there was the dungeon in which Jesus would have been beaten before being brought to Pilate.

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This was also our last stop on the tour for our trip.  I can say without a doubt that each and every one of us here on this tour are different than when we arrived.  Being here in Israel is a life changing experience.  The Bible “in 3-D”, as our tour guide put it…

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Thank you all for joining me and the rest of the GCC-er’s that were on this trip.  Please pray for safety for all of us as we head to the airport in Tel-Aviv tomorrow morning.  There is a strike ongoing here in Israel with the Civil Workers Union which may effect our flight tomorrow.   Please pray that the issues they have are resolved quickly so that we can return as scheduled and see our families.

Foursquare Convention and “The Covenant”

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Tonight we had the privilege to view the musical “The Covenant”  This musical tells the story of Israel, the Jews, and the Promise of God.  It was a beautiful weaving of song and storytelling beginning with Abraham’s encounter with God all the way up to the declaration of Statehood for Israel in 1948 by Ben Gurion.

This was a very emotional retelling of the story of Israel.  I believe even more so after our visit today to Yad Vashur.  This is the Israeli Holocaust Museum.  I have a few photos from outside the museum but out of respect for the victims and in keeping with the solemn environment that is in the museum no pictures were taken.  At the entrance of Yad Vashur is the scripture from Ezekiel 37:14 – This speaks so deeply of rebirth and hope!

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Our first area that we visited was the Children’s Memorial.  I simply can not write the words to describe the emotions that I felt throughout my visit to this memorial.  From sorrow, grief, sympathy and even anger and outrage, I was on a roller coaster throughout my time on the grounds of this memorial.

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It brought up a new commitment to stand up for and speak out about injustices that go on all around us.   The realization that we as the United States did nothing about this happening until after the bombing of Pearl Harbor was infuriating to me.  My prayer is that we never as individuals or as a country will ever allow something like this to happen again – however, Rwanda and Uganda and Darfur are all ringing in my ears right now…

We visited the Model City at the end of our day as well.  This was fascinating!  The whole of Jerusalem in a scale model that is 1 inch to every 3 feet.

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As I am tired tonight this will be the end of the post.  I’ll add more tomorrow.

New Anointing

Tonight during the Foursquare Convention Pastor Jack Hayford spoke from Psalm 92 beginning with verse 8:

8 But you, O LORD, are exalted forever.

9 For surely your enemies, O LORD,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.

10 You have exalted (raised up) my horn (or influence)  like that of a wild ox(strong)
fine oils have been poured upon me.

11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

13 planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.

14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,

15 proclaiming, “The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

He spoke about how we need to always be open to a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  That we must live dependently upon His Spirit all the days of our lives.  As we wrapped up our time together each person, or couple, was given the gift of a vial of anointing oil.  We gathered in small groups and anointed and prayed for each other.

I met a couple from the West Coast that just recently moved to Gettysburg, PA because they felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to move East.  We were able to pray for them to be refreshed and for a new depth of relationship to develop between them and the Lord as well as many new relationships to be birthed as they reach out to the new community that they are in.

I was prayed for as well.  Knowing that I am returning home to many decisions that need to be made and action steps that I need to take I asked for wisdom, discernment and boldness to do what needs to be done – no matter how hard.  If you are praying through these entries I would ask that you continue to pray for myself and Kim as we take the steps that need to be taken in our ministry with students at GCC and throughout Northern New England.

The way that the service ended just sealed many things that the Lord has been speaking to me over the past 7 days here in Israel and I am so refreshed and energized as we continue our time here on the tour and at Convention.  There’s lots to do when I get back home and I am charged up and ready to go!

Miraculous Places

Today we started out at convention.  Our tour began at the Pool of Bethesda.  This is the location that Jesus healed a man who had been suffering from an affliction for many years.  Jesus asked a profound question to the man, “Do you want to be healed?”  How many of us, even though there may be suffering in our lives, hold onto the pain because it has become part of our identity?  Rather than seek healing from our pain we hold onto it and remain in the place where we suffer for years.  Jesus asked the man if he really wanted to be well.  That is a challenge to you all as well as myself.  Are there things in our lives that we hold onto rather than seeking healing?  Do you want to be healed?  Ask the Father and He will set you free!

The pools here were very large and quite deep – up to 50 feet in depth and 200 feet wide.  That may have been why the man replied to Jesus that there was no one to help him into the pool when the water stirred.  Because of the depth of the water, those with afflictions may have needed assistance in staying above the surface.

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From the Pool of Bethesda we went on to the Garden Tomb.  Two sites were seen at the Garden Tomb.  Golgatha (or Skull Hill) and the Tomb where Jesus was laid.

Golgatha gets it’s name from the look of the face of the cliff.  To the right in this picture are 2 small caves that look like the eye holes in a skull as well as the small stone that juts out between them forming a nose.  Looks like a “skull hill” to me!

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We then moved on to the Garden Tomb.  The garden were the tomb was located was owned by a very rich man named Joseph of Arimethia.  The tomb was carved out of the stone and was designed to be a family burial tomb.  When Jesus was brought down from the cross Joseph donated his tomb for a burial site for him.  I guess we could say it was only on loan.  The tomb is still empty today!

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Praise God for the resurrection and all that it means for us today!

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We are off to convention again for the evening.  We will be walking the Via Dolorosa tomorrow as well as visiting St. Peter Gallicantu which is the site where Jesus was beaten by the Roman soldiers.  They have built a church on top of this site but some of the original floor exists where the courtyard was.

His Will is to Be Desired

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Today we began in the Jewish Sector of the Old City, within the walls of Jerusalem.  Our first stop was at the Upper Room.  There was a German group there singing hymns in German and the way the room is constructed with arched ceilings the sound that their singing made was beautiful.  We spent time praying in this location and then headed to a room below where it is believed that King David’s Tomb resides.  The picture below is of an oil lamp that burns outside of the synagogue at David’s Tomb.

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From there we went on to the Wailing Wall.  I can only describe this experience as unbelievable.  Understand, we do not pray to the wall – but focus on the one that the wall was built for.  This is the only remaining wall from Solomon’s Temple.  To see the endless number of papers that were crammed into the smallest of cracks in this wall is incredible.

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After spending time praying and interceding on behalf of all the requests that were posted here and for the services at GCC that would be taking place later that day we all regrouped to head to the Southern Steps.

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This would have been the traditional location of the entrance and exit for all Jews making their way to Temple.  The people of this time had a great handle on crowd management as the way in and the way out are separate with the entry on the right and the exit on the left.  We at GCC stand to learn many things about how to design a parking lot from these folks!  Even the design of the stairs was done in such a way as to keep people walking down them slowly in order to keep people from falling and being trampled by the masses of people leaving Temple.

After lunch we headed to the Mount of Olives.  The view across the Kidron Valley towards Jerusalem is spectacular.  It is almost too much to take in in just one viewing.  This picture does not do the city view justice.

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We made our way down from the top of the Mount of Olives walking the same pathway that Jesus did on his Palm Sunday march into Jerusalem.  This was incredible!  To be walking in the very same place that Jesus is known to have walked…

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We stopped at an overlook of the city where Jesus had wept over the city.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”

We spent time at this location interceding on behalf of all those in the city who do not know Jesus as Messiah.  Not only the Jews, but Muslim and Arab as well.  It is written in Scripture that before Jesus comes back the 2nd time all of Jerusalem will be with Him!  Let us all be reminded to pray for revival in Jerusalem!

Once at the base of the Mount of Olives we stopped at Gethsemane.  The word actually means “olive press”.  The olive trees that are in the garden here at up to 2000 years old.  Some of which could have been right where Jesus collapsed when He prayed in Gethsemane.  To see a tree that is so old was amazing.  They literally keep regenerating new growth.  Out of what looks like dead stumps are new shoots constantly sprouting up.

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Gethsemane was were I led the devotional and talked about how we need to surrender hopes, dreams, struggles, plans, things, and pain over to the will of God.  It is only through Him that we can be made strong and persevere through all things.  We spent time praying in the garden before leaving to prepare for the start of our convention.

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Tomorrow, Pool of Bethesda, Garden Tomb, Church of the Holy Sepulcher.   We have convention in the morning and evening so we will only be touring in the heat of the afternoon.

Highs and Lows

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We began our day by heading off to Masada (Hebrew for “fortress”).  This is the name for a site of ancient palaces and fortifications  in the South District of Israel on top of an isolated rock plateau  on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea.  Masada became famous after the First Jewish-Roman War(also known as the Great Jewish Revolt) when a siege of the fortress by troops of the Roman Empire led to a mass suicide of the site’s Jewish Sicarii fugitives when defeat became imminent.

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The fortress was later taken control of by Herod the Great and a palace was built on the North End of the cliffs.  To say this place a had a view would be an understatement.  From the edge of the height of land there was a 1500 foot drop straight down.  The view of the Dead Sea from above was breathtaking.

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Onward we went to Ein Gedi, which is Hebrew for Spring of the Wild Goats.  As if on cue a wild goat, or Ibex, walked along the grassy area and stood for us to take pictures.

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This is the location that is believed to be where David and his 300 men ran to and hid from King Saul when he was pursuing them.  There are many waterfalls above that feed into this desert oasis.  It is in the cave pictured here that David is believed to have taken shelter.  “And David went up from thence, and dwelt in the strongholds of Ein Gedi” (Samuel 1 24:1).

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We gathered and read  shared a devotion together and then sang, “Blessed Be Your Name”.  This song put an exclamation mark on our time at Ein Gedi as we committed to always seek shelter in the Lord when troubles come – and we know that they will.

From Ein Gedi we continued North to Qumran.  This is the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1968 by a Bedouin shepherd.  The amazing thing about this find is that from all the books in the Old Testament except for Esther.  The book of Isaiah was the only one found in it’s entirety.  These scrolls date back to 200 BC.  This is over 1000 years before the earliest scrolls that had been found previously.  When they compared the two scrolls for the book of Isaiah they found the two to have 99.9% accuracy.  The Word of God is infallible!

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After leaving Qumran we headed down to the lowest place on Earth.  The Dead Sea is located 1,378 feet below sea level.  The salt levels in the sea are 9 times more than that of the ocean.  With all that salt it makes it very easy for things to float.  So that is what we did!  Pictures will come tomorrow due to technical errors but take my word for it.  This was an incredible experience!  I found myself laughing for quite a time as my legs shot up to the surface of the water.  It was like I was sitting in an inflatable pool chair.  Cindy and I raced across a portion of the sea as we could stand upright in the deep water and literally “run” through the thick water.

After getting rinsed off – we were really salty! – we headed home.  We stopped quickly for a quick drink at the same site that we stopped yesterday.  The guy that had the camel yesterday – he had 2 today!  I told you he made enough to buy another camel!  We all got a good laugh at of that one.

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Tomorrow we head to the Jewish Sector of the Old City in Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane (where I will lead a devotional – so excited!) and the Wailing Wall and Temple Mount.  If you have any prayer requests please send them to me by 10 PM tonight EST and I will write them out and place them in cracks in the wall while praying for each one.