July 6, 2015
Now that we’ve returned from our study tour you’ll hopefully be able to talk to one of us in person about what we saw, heard, learned, and experienced!
Below is a wrap up video that serves as a nice summary of the trip and a reminder of all that we did.
July 2, 2015
This morning we woke with hutzpah ready for a big day…and a big day it was. Our feet hit the path this morning overlooking the Old City from the top of the Mount of Olives. The amazing view in the cool summer morning began our journey following the steps of Jesus during His final week before giving His life as the perfect payment for all. We learned of the ancient blood path and found ourselves pensive while traversing the steep downhill road. Arriving near the traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane, we enjoyed the shade of the olive trees and pictured Jesus’ difficult road ahead. Most of us were fully engaged though Joel more resembled Peter nodding off while Jesus prayed.
July 1, 2015
Today we woke up in Jerusalem. The city was filled with activity as usual as people groups and world-views collide day after day. Those of the Muslim faith are celebrating Ramadan making access to the Temple Mount tenuous at best. Expecting rejection but praying for success, God granted our request and allowed us to ascend to the place where the 2nd Temple once stood. We could almost taste the tension between faiths as we learned the story of why such a situation exists. With modesty kits adorned, we walked the Temple Mount circling the Dome of the Rock. Without incident we left this passion-filled place and proceeded to the City of David. Located close to the Temple Mount, we witnessed archeology in action. Hezekiah’s Tunnel greeted us with refreshingly cool water for our feet and dangerously low rocks for our heads. After laying to rest claustrophobic nightmares and tending to a few minor head wounds, we thanked God we made it to the coveted pool at the end of the shaft. From there we journeyed through an ancient sewer-way at times capturing its distinctive smell.
June 30, 2015
This morning we said goodbye to the Galilee and began our ascent to the House, Jerusalem. On route to the City of Peace, we toured the Coastal Plains beginning with one of the most ancient cities in all the world. Over 5000 years of history is deposited in an amazing Tel which welcomed us in through a Canaanite Gate. Sadly, the Canaanite legacy and influence extended far beyond the entrance of the city. Generations of slippage led to extensive disobedience, Baal worship, and even child sacrifice. And God’s people willingly participated. The light to the nations had slowly amalgamated into darkness. We were challenged to be people of the Text – people who trust God’s ways are better, and live faithfully following them. Generational legacy will go one way or another and we must lead to Truth.
June 29, 2015
Our last day in the Galilee began at the beach with a short devotional. As usual, we shared God moments and God sightings of the previous day. God continues to speak and bless us with His faithful presence. The first drive stretched slightly longer than most days. After arriving, we began hiking atop a 1st century Roman Road. The precision of the Romans built a legacy of their presence in the world. But as we would soon see, their legacy has been mixed at best. As a group, we began to identify Rome in us and in our world. We were reminded of the Scripture challenging believers to live in the world and not of it. As salt and light, we can’t run from the culture and at the same time, we can’t embrace a path away from Christ. With each decision we learned to ask the question, “Can I love God with all I am in the midst of this?” With baths, saunas, gymnasiums, shops, and violin music in the latrine, Rome seems so appealing. But its beauty is only as deep as the plaster and tile overlaid floors. All of its promises eventually fall in the earthquakes of life. All that is left in the ruins is empty promises.
June 28, 2015
It was another amazing day. God demonstrated His grace and strength in our team many times throughout the day. We began with a short bus ride to an overlook in the Golan Heights. After hearing a challenging word, we praised God for all the ways He has continued to show his faithfulness. Watching the clouds roll in, we were just beginning to realize He was giving us beautiful cool weather for the day. Following our devotional time, we arrived at our first site. Mounting up with wings like eagles, we descended only to climb high again and learn of the passion of the zealots. It was a difficult site but the challenge was desperately needed. Zealotry founded in love must be present in each of our lives as believers.
June 27, 2015
Today was a big day. After a hearty breakfast, we began with a devotional on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. We were encouraged to trust God’s ways, even when we don’t understand the plan. He strengthens us in the preparation…and we would need every ounce of that strength today. The mountain was waiting and its Creator was ready to speak. All that stood in the way was the ascent. But at the top was a great reward. We were reminded that the banner we hold high must be Jesus and seeking Him through prayer requires intentionality and at times, hard work. But it is worth it. He is worth it. We walked alongside new friends in the form of cows, sheep, and even a snake. Their presence demanded we step over their presents. And we envied their climbing prowess.
June 26, 2015
We began the day on the shore of the Dead Sea. Little did we know that by the end of the day, we would taste living water and watch the sun set over a very different sea. The heat met us at the first site in the morning and reminded us of our need for God’s provision. Every moment of shade and occasional breeze led our hearts to remember who God is. He is our shade and the wind, the same Hebrew word as Spirit, spoke with wordless comfort. We pressed deep into the wilderness following the steps of David fleeing from the pursing Saul. His strong obedience reminded us that God’s ways are always best though not necessarily the easiest or shortest path. Finally, we immersed in living water, committing to leave the cistern filth behind.
June 25, 2015
Today we woke to the gift of a cool morning in the desert, and a little friend in the hotel parking lot. This abnormal summer weather only added to the beauty that the desert revealed. With clouds passing overhead and sun-rays lighting an enormous valley, we hiked into one of the most barren landscapes on earth. Not a tree could be seen and with a small family of ibexes for company, we traversed to the valley floor listening to voice of the Lord as we went. After several stops and faith lessons, the theme of the desert began to emerge. This is where we meet with God. This is the place we cry out often desperately. And it is the place where we need each other most.
June 24, 2015
What an amazing day! We began our journey this morning connecting with the true roots of biblical Christianity. We have been grafted into God’s people, adopted through the sacrifice of Jesus. Understanding the importance of where our faith began, our eyes were opened to see incredible new truths in the Scripture. Overlooking the valley where Samson was raised, we learned the important of faith and obedience. Gazing across another beautiful valley, we learned what it means to throw our rock imitating the faith a young king-to-be named David demonstrated when taking on the giant Goliath. It truly is humbly and inspiring to walk the lands of the Bible.
June 23, 2015
After navigating Houston traffic, catching a short 12 hour hop over the pond, a pitstop in Istanbul, and customs in Israel, we arrived completing 21 hours of travel. Everyone made it all the way…with their bags in tow. Eyes are certainly tired but spirits are high as we look forward to the journey that lies ahead.
A relatively uneventful travel experience allowed great time for the group to begin getting to know one another. While most of the group hails from the Bay Area, some have traveled from Oregon, Ohio, and more. For some, this is the first time their feet have walked outside the United States. For others, they have walked these paths before in years past. But today is a new day and God has something in store for each person on this adventure drawing near to Him.