Saturday, March 27, 2010

Israel - part 4

We've been home from Israel for about 9 days. Finally getting back on a regular sleep schedule. And still basking in the glow of an amazing adventure. If you have not been to Israel, you need to make it a priority to go. (Have I said that before?) Here are a few more fun memories.


King Hezekiah built a series of underground tunnels to carry the water sources into the city and keep the people safe from their enemies. Now, these tunnels are accessible to walk through! 2 Kings 20:20 ~ "As for the other events of Hezekiah's reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?"


This is Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. A little boy was herding goats in the area and one of the goats stumbled into a cave. The boy went in to find the goat, and he stumbled on some parchments. The boy couldn't read, and brought some of them home to his mom, who nearly threw them into the fire she was using to cook their dinner (she didn't read either). When the father came home, he had a feeling they might be something important and took them to those who validated they were ancient copies of the Old Testament! See the cave openings in the rocks? The parchments were found in these caves and others. Fascinating!


En Gedi is the place where David was hiding from King Saul. Saul is trying to find David, to kill him. David is hiding in a cave, and Saul enters that cave. When Saul is not looking, David cuts off a piece of Saul's robe. When Saul leaves the cave, David comes out and shows him the piece of cloth in order to say "I could have killed you, but I didn't". Remember that story? This is us at En Gedi. It is along the Dead Sea, and there are rock formations, trails, waterfalls, etc. A beautiful place. We hiked up the mountain.


View on the climb . . .

I'm the king of the world!

"I'm the king of the world!"


View from the top. The Dead Sea.

Niotice the side ringlets

On this day, we saw a group of Hasidic Jewish boys on a field trip. Note the side curls.


Our final day, we visited the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. A sobering, honoring place. This was one of the statues as you entered the museum. Notice the many stones laid on the sculpture. In Jewish cemeteries you will see stones laid on the graves, rather than flowers. The stones symbolize the rebuilding of the temple one day, and it is honoring to the deceased to have stones laid in their remembrance.


Also on the last day, we had a little free time and wandered around Jerusalem for a few hours. I had one of the best treats in my life. No exaggeration. Gelato! This was a "small" cone, believe it or not. You got to choose 2 flavors. Mine? Dark chocolate and peanut butter. Yum!


On the final evening, Steve Green did a concert. He and Dick are such a great team. It was a wonderful way to end our journey.

The Bible will never read the same for us. Seeing the actual places we've read about . . . connecting the dots of scripture . . . what a privilege to be there!

One of the questions that we had as we visited Jerusalem was this: When Psalm 122 says, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem", doesn't that seem like a futile request, in light of the fact that we know until Jesus returns there will be unrest and opposition to this country? And one of the Dallas Seminary professors gave us a "light bulb moment". He said, "We should pray that Jerusalem comes to know the PRINCE OF PEACE, Jesus". Now that's a prayer we can pray! "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you . . . " (Ephesians 1:18)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Israel - part 3


View of Jerusalem from our hotel room. Unlike any other city we've ever seen.

Wailing Wall #2

The Western Wall (Wailing Wall). An amazing place. Note the men's side and the women's side. The protocol here is that you back away from the wall out of reverence when you leave, in order to always be facing it.


The Wall at night.


Loved seeing this bride and attendant walking the streets of old Jerusalem.


And yes, little boys eat popsicles in Israel, too.

Pink cauliflower?

Speaking of food, ever seen pink cauliflower? Neither had we. Not sure what the food is on the left . . .

Wayne & Debbie Moore, Amy & James Paarlberg

New friends we made on the trip ~ The Moores and the Paarlbergs, both from Indiana.


The beautiful Garden of Gethsemane. This was one of those places where you pinch yourself to see if you are actually there! Our trip was filled with moments like that.

Still more to come . . .

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Israel - part 2

It's hard to decide which pictures of this wonderful trip to show ~ which of the many experiences and memories to include. Have we mentioned that if you have never been to Israel, you NEED TO GO?


Yes, there are still camels in Israel. This one was available for a camel ride (and no, we weren't brave enough to hop on). We also saw camels roaming on the countryside as we traveled.


Here we are in a fishing vessel on the Sea of Galilee. Let that one sink in for a minute (no pun intended) . . .
Each boat held about 75 people, and our group tied about 8 boats together and held a worship service on the water. This was a life moment for Dick, as he got to play keyboards for the service.



Our bus traveled down these meandering roads. Definitely had us alert and praying! The land of Israel is so incredibly beautiful and diverse.


Yes, this is for real. A reminder that we need to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).

Beth Shan

The ancient city of Beth Shan. In the background is Mount Gilboa, where Saul and Jonathan lost their lives in battle.


We're standing in front of the Jordan River, at the place where it is strongly suggested Jesus was baptized. The river divides the countries of Israel and Jordan. What you don't see in the picture are soldiers that were guarding both sides of the river. While we felt safe overall, there are always reminders of the unrest that continues to hover over this country.

But we definitely want to go back someday.

And if you haven't been . . . well, you know what to do.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Israel - part 1

For the past 2 weeks, we have been on an incredible journey (and that's an understatement) in the beautiful country of Israel. We were traveling with Chuck and Cynthia Swindoll and Insight for Living. 600+ others joined the tour, filling 14 buses. Each day would begin with breakfast, getting on the bus by 7:15, visiting 4-5 sites a day, back to the hotel for dinner, and then an evening of entertainment of some kind. Are you getting tired just thinking about that? No doubt, our days were full. But we really got to experience everything, and surprisingly, never felt rushed. And when you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this one, you don't want to spend your time doing anything else!

In the next several blogs, we're going to give a pictorial tour of some of the highlights of this trip. Here we go . . .


This is a photo of Caesarea by the Sea. Much of Paul's ministry was here, along with 2 years of imprisonment. A beautiful place on the Mediterranean Sea.



This is the Valley of Armageddon, where the final battles in Revelation will be fought. The valley is next to the city of Megiddo. Interestingly, there were other battles fought here through the Old Testament.


This is an area called Tavga. What makes this special is that tradition strongly suggests this to be the place where Jesus met the disciples after rising from the grave. The disciples had fished all night on the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus was grilling fish on these banks when they saw Him. If you remember the story, Jesus asked Peter "do you love me" on this particular morning. While we were there (also early in the morning) some fishermen approached in their boat, doing their early morning fishing. Can we say perfect timing? (Notice the fishermen's net. Remember when Jesus told them to cast it on the other side of the boat? Talk about scripture coming alive!)



Dick playing for Steve Green, with Chuck Swindoll in the background. This was in the coliseum where Paul, while imprisoned, was brought before Herod Agrippa as a prisoner and delivered his amazing defense (Acts 26).


One of the oldest gates to a city that has been found. The Canaanites built this, and it was (very probably) traveled through several times by Abraham.


A column still remaining in the city of Capernaum. Much of Jesus' ministry happened in this city.


These are the head waters of the Jordan River. Yes, THE Jordan River. Isn't this beautiful?

That's all we'll show for part 1. It's hard to really capture everything we saw and learned and experienced. And it's wild to think that just a couple of days ago, we were there! If you EVER get the opportunity to visit Israel, DO IT. It's
heart-changing and inspiring to watch the Bible go from black and white to 3D!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


We have the greatest dog in the world. Keebler is a part Golden Retriever/part Yellow Lab who was guide dog trained before he became a part of our family. He is smart, disciplined, gentle, and most of all, a creature of habit. He knows that at certain times of the day there is food coming. He knows when I grab a jacket and a few things from the back porch, it’s time for a walk. He knows that my morning routine includes what we call “the morning rubdown” in which I pet/scratch/love on him vigorously while my bagels are heating up. Once he hears the oven ding, he knows that the “morning rubdown” is over.

We live in a very walking-friendly neighborhood and many of our neighbors have dogs. The property managers here insist that pet owners keep dogs on leashes when walking, but because Keebler is so disciplined, we do let him off the leash from time to time. Most mornings, in fact, once we’ve had breakfast and the day is underway, include a walking time for Mr. Keebs and I, we head outside for a walk. Once we’ve had a little exercise and he’s taken care of his business, I’ll often take the leash off and we’ll sprint back to our home. He senses the freedom and it’s genuinely a pleasure to watch as he runs at full speed . . . tongue wagging, ears flapping . . . with the wind at his back. Obviously he has 4-wheel drive and there’s no way I can keep up with him. He’ll dash 40-50 yards ahead of me then turn around and just run circles around me. He is, at that moment, as uninhibited and completely free of any and all burdens as he’ll ever be. It’s the best and most joyous part of his day. He’s free.

Scripture has a good bit to say about our spiritual freedom. A couple of the biggies:

Psalm 146 – “The Lord sets the prisoners free . . .”

John 8:32 – “ . . . and the truth will set you free . . .”

Romans 6:18 – “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”

2 Cor. 3:17 – “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Gal. 5:1 – “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”

The same way that freedom is expressed by our dog ~ exuberant joy ~ is the response that we should have in knowing that we’ve been set free from sin, oppression and guilt. May we celebrate God’s gifts to us with abandon!

But let me run loose and free, celebrating God’s great work, every bone in my body laughing, singing, “God, there’s no one like You!” (Psalm 35:9, The Message)