April 2, 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.
April 1, 2015
Today we said goodbye. We walked Jerusalem and we took it in with all we had left after climbing, following, pouring out, taking in and asking questions all over this beautiful land. Some of us weren’t sure we had any absorption left. Others were mourning that our last day had come so quickly. A few of us were terrified. Terrified of a tunnel.
Four of us would have rather been anywhere else than in a tunnel with cold water flowing through. As we almost ran through Hezekiah’s tunnel, some of us found strength beyond what we knew we had. We made it though together, just as we have every hike, every day and every turn of this journey.
March 31, 2015
What an incredible privilege to be in Jerusalem this particular week! Today we remembered the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. We found ourselves literally walking through the story as we began our day on the Mount of Olives and journeyed to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the very likely site of the crucifixion, tomb, and resurrection.
March 30, 2015
A small white cloud blew across the sky this morning above Mt Carmel. The timing of our arrival to the top of the 1400 ft peak was perfect; it was a beautiful day with plenty of water to sip along the way. I thought about the servant of the prophet Eliyahu (Elijah) who summited Carmel seven times in a row, and my muscles ached thinking about him.
March 29, 2015
This morning I pondered this scripture verse: “Come let’s climb Gods mountain, go to the House of the God of Jacob. He’ll show us the way He works, so we can live the way we’re made” (Isaiah 2:3). Such a compelling invitation to lead our group out of our time yesterday of much needed Shabbat. In no time our bus slowed and came to a stop at the base of Mount Arbel. With camel backs filled and (still) sore muscles rested, we began our 1050 ft climb to summit. A five mile steep hike would require the teamwork we have learned to employ as a family of pilgrims with deep love and honor for one another. Mount Arbel is on the western shores of the Sea Gallilee. Because of its location in the orthodox triangle it would have been a quiet place of retreat and prayer in the first century. Scripture tells us that Jesus during his time of ministry in the Galilee would often retreat to pray. So this morning we will remember the prayer life of Jesus and consider our own.
March 26, 2015
We started day six at Gamla. A Zealot stronghold, site of a bloody, intense battle, where in the end, the people there threw their children, wives, and themselves off of the mountain to death rather than surrender to the Romans. Thousands of lives. Gone. What would Jesus say to this? How do you pull out what is good and noble of the heart of the Zealots and leave the rest behind? That is the question we were asked to ponder for ourselves. Jesus fought violence with love the whole time He was on this earth. May we do the same…
March 24, 2015
Today was our last day in the desert. We started it bright and early, as usual, and headed into the West Bank to climb Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered. We started our journey in the ruins where the Essenes lived. The Essenes were known as “Sons of Light” and to be waiting for the redemption of Israel. The Essenes moved out, as priests, from lush Jerusalem to the desert on the Dead Sea in an effort to reorder things and prepare for the Messiah. The question was asked “What do I do that says I will go to extreme lengths for the God we love?” Would I answer the call of love if it meant risking everything? I would like to think the answer would be yes. But I think it is a question I should ask myself daily as I consider where God is calling me next.
March 23, 2015
Today our group of 24 people started our day by venturing into the Negev desert for the most intense physical challenge and profound spiritual message on this tour so far.
Upon arriving we find our desert surroundings to be almost hauntingly beautiful. Though our group has different physical capabilities, we all learn to work together weaving through very intricate terrain. Stopping first at an Acacia tree, we learn the survival, beauty and treasure like properties thereof. We were then asked to find a person in our lives who shared these properties and that we could consider our Acacia tree in life. I was quickly able to answer that my wife Tracy is that person. She’s beautiful, comforting and will stand strong through the weathering of life. That certainly furthered my appreciation for her and will improve my marriage as a result.
March 22, 2015
What do you wonder?
Kids intuitively do this. They ask questions about everything and are in awe of the ordinary. Some day when life’s ambiguities become reality, we lose our wonder. We who want finite answers and pay bills and see the challenges of life forget how to wonder.
Jesus tells us to have faith like a child. So we must reclaim our wonder. We must see the world through their eyes. But how do we wonder and see the beauty of God in the midst of such tragedy as we climb Masada? As we wheeze and struggle up the mountain?
March 21, 2015
I’m sitting down at the end of a very long day staring at the inky blackness of the Dead Sea trying to write this blog, which, for reasons lost on me now, I happily volunteered to write early this morning! After a day and a half of travel and just shy of three hours sleep, legally I shouldn’t make any decisions. Other than the faint lights of Jordan across the water it is a vast nothingness, somewhat, I feel, like my mind. So tired and already so much information it seems my thoughts have settled to a nice buzz. Yet write I must and I think the best thing to do is go a little Julie Andrews (which I’m reminded of after hearing Scott do a little “Do, Re, Me” hiking through the Valley of Elah…yup) and start at the very beginning…as it is the very best place to start and all.