July 1, 2016
This experience of literally walking and knowing in our whole being, the text, from Moses to Abraham to malkezadek to David Saul and Elijah, plus the life and story of Jesus has been revolutionary. We have travelled almost the entire land of Israel. It is smaller than I ever imagined, more desolate and beautiful than I ever imagined a place could be. The contrast of landscapes and cultures, has truly been for literally thousands of years and will continue to be until the return of our servant king, a platform to engage the world’s chaos and bring shalom.
June 30, 2016
We began the morning with a walk to and through Hezekiah’s Tunnel – an ancient underground water system built to ensure safety from enemies during times of war. It allowed Jerusalem to survive when Assyrians had conquered every other part of the country. For those of the team that are claustrophobic, this was a clear opportunity for them to give that fear to God and rely on him as we walked through dark, skinny, and short tunnels with water ranging from ankle-deep to knee-deep.
June 29, 2016
An obvious theme for a trip to the Holy Land would be discipleship, and that theme has certainly resonated throughout our time here walking the path of the Bible and of Jesus. Today the meaning of discipleship hit us square in the face as we spent some time on two different roads. Do you remember Jesus talking about two roads at all? One of the roads we encountered in a place called Beth She’an. The ruins of this large city south of the Sea of Galilee has been breath-takingly preserved. This city was built by the Greeks and exuded a Hellenistic world view from the large theatre to the public baths. But most striking was the road through the city.
June 28, 2016
As day breaks on the Sea of Galilee, we are met with something we really haven’t seen on this trip since we left Michigan…clouds, not just overcast clouds, but what looks potentially like rain clouds!
Our usual morning routine involves a quick breakfast, a quick devotional, and a group recitation of the Shema in Hebrew and English, then we are off to more adventures.
June 27, 2016
In the time when Jesus walked, the land surrounding Galilee was rich in culture. The Kindgom of Herod The Great had been divided amongst his sons. Herod Antipas ruled Galilee and Perea as client states of the Roman Empire. The capital of his Kingdom, Tiberius, sat along the western shores of this great body of water. Decapolis was a Roman region of ten cities, occupied predominantly by Pagans. The Sea itself is a fresh body of water, large enough to be treacherous to a fisherman but small enough to be chaotic and uncomfortable between people groups like the Jews, the Greeks, and the Romans. It was here, amongst all the world views and the resulting chaos that Jesus chose to cultivate His people and deliver His ministry.
June 26, 2016
All of the spots that we were at today were of epic importance to our history. From all consuming fire coming down on Mt Carmel, to the sparkling marble Harbor of Caesarea, to finally getting to Nazareth; Jesus’ hometown.
After a fairly grueling hike halfway up Mt Carmel, we got to really understand the significance of an olive tree. There is so much to be learned about the olive tree in relation to our Christian faith, but the main takeaway from the olive tree was that branches have to be cut some times for future growth. We had multiple testimonies that would attest to that as people in our group have endured the loss of family members or people near to them.
June 25, 2016
Today was our last day in the desert. We began it with a scorching endeavor into Engedi, the place where David hid from Saul in 1 Samuel 24. It is there where Saul brought 3,000 of his best men, or ‘Remmi’s as Rod calls them – after our Navy seal on the trip, to go after David and his men. The hike in was similar to our previous days of hiking, very hot and full of dust, yet there was a stream that flowed through Engedi that came from the mouth of a waterfall. It’s at this waterfall that we discussed two kinds of water. The first water, dead water, is still. It is dirty and often riddled with disease. The second water is known as ‘Mian Kiam’, or living water. Mian Kiam is water that comes from a stream, a river, lake, or the rain. It is active and moving. When David writes Psalm 42, he looks at this water, and proclaims, “As a deer pants for living water, so I pant for you”.
June 24, 2016
Today we hiked up Timna in the Sinai desert. Our hike was up a shadeless rocky path that offered little relief from the sun. We were happy to find a small broom tree that offered us a bit of relief. We made our way up the sides of the mountain search for hand holds and places for our feet to land. We stopped along the way reflecting on the walk that Israelites took through the wilderness for 40 years, a time of testing and refinement. We scaled to the top and felt tested ourselves as it got hotter and rockier. We reflected on Exodus 19 where God said, ‘Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
June 23, 2016
Masada: “In you Lord, I have taken refuge. Let me never be put to shame. Deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me. Come quickly to my rescue. Be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name, lead and guide me.” Psalm 31: 1-3
We started the day at Masada, a palace on a cliff built by King Herod. To access the ruins, our team ascended the heights in extreme heat with steep elevation. It was the most grueling experience so far and is difficult to describe. Many team members expressed they were brought to the end of themselves. It can be fearful when we reach that moment.
June 22, 2016
Welp! Day 1 is in the books! It was a day full of sweat, dust, sweat, sunscreen, sweat, and I feel like I’m forgetting something…oh yea, sweat! The temperature was in the mid/high 90’s all day and got over 100 as we descended toward The Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth (approximately 1000 feet below sea level). But, despite the heat, sun, and salt water we swam in (both from our pores and the large body of water) it was a truly amazing day.
I’m not sure how to summarize all that we learned and experience throughout the day. It’d be a little like watching Inception and having to succinctly describe it in two words. So, instead of trying to talk about everything we learned, I’d like to briefly mention the two most significant truths I felt God speak to me about.
May 31, 2016
Our trip to Israel will be here before you know it!
Once we’re on the ground in Israel, we’ll post periodic updates and photos. Check back often or get update notifications using the subscribe options on this page.
We’ll be sharing our travel experiences online with you, our friends and family, to not only bring you along on the journey with us, but to also solicit your ongoing prayer and support. Most of us on this trip have been preparing mentally and spiritually for what will be a life-changing experience in the land. We’re also preparing physically as we train our bodies to handle all the time we’ll spend on our feet walking. So please pray that we would be diligent in our preparations and we would all be ready to learn what God has to teach us!