• Shepherds Cave
    Israel Day 12 May 29, 2014 Israel Day 12 May 29, 2014

    Israel Day 12 May 29, 2014

Israel Day 12 May 29, 2014

Today was a free day for our group so we all got to choose what we wanted to do. I decided to book a tour guide to take me around and show me some of the sites that were the most interesting. I was hoping some others in the group would join me and split the expenses but everyone else wanted to save the money for other things. I almost decided not to go but I am glad I stuck with my original plan. I have enjoyed everyday here in Israel. Each day has been full of its own surprises, frustrations, and enlightening moments. However, today was the most amazing day I have had. This was in large part due to my tour guide Esseam. We did not get to go to Bethlehem on any of our group excursions so that was very high on my list. This was the first place we went this morning. Bethlehem is in the West Bank so we had to pass through a checkpoint but they did not even stop our car. On the way out it was the same we just drove right through as the guards waved. I was surprised because I had only heard about how hard it was to get in and out of Bethlehem. Our first stop was Boaz and Naomi’s field, or the shepherds field. According to archeological evidence and local traditions this is the place that Boaz owned. There is also a cave on the site just behind the church that marks the spot the shepherds had their encounter with the angel that was a cave that has been confirmed to have been used by shepherds during the time period. It was […]

  • My Roommate Ray
    Day 11 May 28, 2014 Day 11 May 28, 2014

    Day 11 May 28, 2014

Day 11 May 28, 2014

Today was a massively wonderful and disappointing day all at the sometime. The sites and stories were the wonderful part along with some family stuff.  Today was my wedding anniversary. It’s the first one I have not been there to celebrate with my wife and it felt strange. I was blessed to be able to call home and talk to her this afternoon as she was waking up.  That really helped put the rest of the day in perspective and there was really nothing that could have ruined this day.  However the tour guide and bus were the disappointing part. They showed up late of course. We drove to Masada and after our tour it took almost an hour to get them to come and pick us up. That wasted time was really disappointing. Today was the last chance we had to see some of the sites so the late start and delay at Masada caused everything else to be cut short. Then on the way home there was something wrong with the bus and we drove about 10 mph for really long way. My roommate (Ray) and I finally got out and walked the last few miles to the hotel. Our day started at Masada. This is a huge desert fortress built on top of a large mountain overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built this place for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. This guy really was a master builder. I was so amazed at the thought that went into this fortress that was designed to be a place of refuge and last stand if needed. In this day there was really no easy way to […]

  • My roommate took some pictures of me praying at the wall. In case you are wondering you have to have a hat on to pray at the wall...
    Israel Day 10 May 27, 2014 Israel Day 10 May 27, 2014

    Israel Day 10 May 27, 2014

Israel Day 10 May 27, 2014

Today was the day we were scheduled to travel out to a few sites with a tour bus, however we learned early this morning that the bus was not able to meet us. So we spent the day wandering the streets of Jerusalem instead. It was a great day but a long one. For those considering coming to Israel be prepared to walk a lot. Here in Jerusalem you get the feeling that everything is uphill as well. Some in our group were really struggling today to keep up and we are all tired after a day in the old city. Our first stop took us just down a very step hill from our hotel to the Garden of Gethsemane or Mount of Olives where Jesus went to pray on the night he was betrayed. The Mt of Olives gained its name from its extensive olive groves which were renowned in antiquity (Zec 14:4; Mk 11:1). [1] There is good reason to believe this could be the exact place. From this garden you can see the Golden Gate which is sealed and said to only be opened at the return of Christ. You can also see where the Lions gate leads into the city. There are also two extremely large olive trees here. Tradition and science according to some say that at least one of these trees was here the night Jesus prayed. Olive trees are known to live for over 1,000 years in some cases so it is not impossible to think that Jesus would have prayed near or under one of these very trees. Of course there is a church built here and there is a rock exposed in the floor of the […]

  • Caesarea Maritima amphitheater from the top
    Israel Day 9 May 26, 2014 Israel Day 9 May 26, 2014

    Israel Day 9 May 26, 2014

Israel Day 9 May 26, 2014

Today was another overwhelming day for me. This morning I stood on the stones where Paul made his appeal in Acts 25 before eventually being sent to Rome where he was later executed. Tonight I lay down to sleep on top of the Mount of Olives near the spot my Savior spent his final hours in prayer before his passion began. Each day of our journey here has presented me with different views, challenged me in different ways, and brought about a variety of emotions. Words are not able to express these things but I hope my detailed journal will help me share how wonderful this trip has been, and keep these memories fresh in my own mind long after I return. So here is a play by play of today. We started the day by leaving Nazareth and driving to “Caesarea (“city of Caesar”). This is a coastal city of Palestine that served as capital of the Roman province (Acts 8:40). Built by Herod the Great, it is located 37 km. (23 mi.) from the foot of Mount Carmel; also called Caesarea Maritima.”[1] This city was built between 22-10 B.C.E. and is believed to be about 8,000 acres though not all of it has been uncovered. This city “became the administrative center of the country throughout the period of Roman occupation. Three Roman governors of Palestine lived here: Felix (Acts 24), Festus (Acts 25:1, 4, 6, 13), and Pontius Pilate, who visited Jerusalem on special occasions (as in John 19). Archaeologists found Pilate’s name carved in stone in the theater at Caesarea.”[2] This city also sits right on the Mediterranean Sea so it was a major seaport as well. There were not any good […]

  • Cookies and Cream Gelato on the Sabbath!
    Day 8 May 25, 2014 Day 8 May 25, 2014

    Day 8 May 25, 2014

Day 8 May 25, 2014

Today was the Sabbath so we worshiped and rested. It was great. The day started off at the Baptist church down the road. The worship was great and the sermon was good. I did not understand most of the songs but really enjoyed the spirit that filled that place. We were given little boxes that transmitted a translated version of the sermon but the battery on mine ran out only a few minutes into the Pastors message. I followed along on the power point and in my bible. The pastor was talking about Faith and mostly the faith of Abraham. He had some good points from what I could make out. After church we went back to NETS for lunch. We had sandwiches and it was great. It is strange how a common food like a sandwich can taste so good after you have been without it for a week. There was a sweet time of fellowship, then a long period of using the Wi-Fi up at NETS to call home and send some emails. Then we all slowly made our way back to the hotel taking in the scenery of Nazareth one last time from atop the hill. Everyone did there own thing this afternoon. I spent sometime in prayer, then started reading a book. Tonight we ate here at the hotel and then, headed down the street looking for some Gelato. We finally found a place that was open and everyone sat outside in the cool breeze visiting and laughing. I am amazed that just a few days ago I did not know these people at all and tonight we are true friends. This has been a great trip in so many ways […]

  • Israelite Wall
    Israel Day 7 Israel Day 7

    Israel Day 7

Israel Day 7

Today was another amazing day in Israel full of adventure. We started this morning by traveling to Hazor. On the way we passed through Cana where Jesus preformed his first miracle at the wedding by turning the water into wine. Hazor is a great archeological cite located in the Upper Galilee, north of the Sea of Galilee, in the southern Hula Valley. Its history starts sometime in the early Bronze Age. The city has been found by name in Egyptian records as well as the biblical account. At one time they believe this city had about 15,000 residents which is amazing. There is an upper and lower city that have been inhabited by many people over the years. The most amazing feature to me is the water source. They dug a hole 45 meters deep, then tunneled another 25 meters outside the city walls to get to the water source. They did this so that the city could have water even when they were under attack or under siege. There is a lookout tower on the far end of the ruins that gives an amazing view and you can really understand why this was such and important and strategic location. According to the Books of Kings, this town, along with Megiddo, and Gezer, was very fortified and expanded by King Solomon.You can read about this city in the Bible in 2 Kings 15:29, 2 Kings 23:8, and Joshua 11:1-12. Next we traveled to Tel Dan which is now a nature reserve and has some biblical ruins as well. This cite is very different from Hazor. Here you find lush green vegetation everywhere because water is so abundant. There is a huge natural spring that is […]

  • Standing on the edge of the precipice
    Israel Day 6 2014 Israel Day 6 2014

    Israel Day 6 2014

Israel Day 6 2014

Today was another amazing, and full day in Israel. We started out this morning with the usual routine of breakfast and then departed our hotel for Mount Precipice. This is likely the place that the events recorded in Luke 4:29–30  took place. The scripture says…29They got up, forced him out of the town, and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.30But he passed through the crowd and went on his way. [1] Standing up on this high spot really brings the situation into perspective. The hill gradually climbs to the precipice where you are surrounded on three sides by a steep and large drop. Being pushed or thrown from here would mean certain death. Seeing these kinds of places really brings the bible to life. While thinking about what happened here on the precipice and considering the scripture was great, the view is really what makes this place worth visiting. From here you can see so much biblical history. Off to my right I saw Mount Tabor. I wrote about some of the things that happened here on Tabor in the journal entry for day 2 when we first arrived in Nazareth. This is a very important biblical site and one that I never realized was so close to the home town of Jesus. Some new information I learned today about Tabor is that at the foot of the city is the city of Debareh where Deborah lived.  She was, an Israelite judge, and played a major role in the war against the Canaanites (Jgs 4:6, 12; 5:1, 12).[2] It all happened in the valley below. Then looking straight […]

  • DSCN0243
    Israel Day 5 Nazareth Israel Day 5 Nazareth

    Israel Day 5 Nazareth

Israel Day 5 Nazareth

This morning our lecture did not start until 9am so the hotel requested that our group come to breakfast a bit later to allow the other guests that needed to leave earlier to have breakfast first. OF course none of us objected so we got to sleep in a bit later today. I woke up around 7am and proceeded to read my bible outside on the balcony overlooking Nazareth. Just a few weeks before we left for the trip I decided to use my daily times in the Bible to read only scriptures that were related to Jesus. I found a reading plan in my Logos Bible program and have been following it. I have been amazed at how much my reading of scripture has changed in the last week. For example, this morning I read John 4:3 “he left Judea and set out once more for Galilee.” That once simple verse that would have only been words a week ago now jumps off the page. I was in Galilee just yesterday. I remember the layout of the towns along the Sea of Galilee. I can still feel the breeze, and smell the richness that is in the fresh air coming off the lake. My mind instantly recalled watching the fish swim in the clear water. It is really amazing how seeing this stuff first hand brings ordinary verses like John 4:3 to life. There is a new richness to my time in the New Testament for sure. After breakfast we walked through the streets of Nazareth and arrived at NETS (The Seminary). We waited a few minutes for our presenter Brent Nealey and another group of students to arrive. After the introductions Brent presented […]

  • Sea of Galilee Boat Ride
    Israel 2014 Day 4 Sea of Galilee Israel 2014 Day 4 Sea of Galilee

    Israel 2014 Day 4 Sea of Galilee

Israel 2014 Day 4 Sea of Galilee

Today was especially exciting for me because I really enjoy archeology, history, and the Bible, and this day was packed full of all three. We stared out this morning by departing Nazareth to the north-east through the Turan Valley. In the valley we saw many farms that are suppose to have some of the most fertile fields in all of Israel. We continued on until we reached Tiberius. This is an extremely large city on the Sea of Galilee and along with the view of the city we caught our first glimpse of the lake. We drove through the winding streets of Tiberius until we reached Magdala. Magdala is named after Mary Magdalene and confirmed to have lived here. This site was only discovered five years ago and the excavation has been going on ever since. It was an amazing site. At the center of the dig is a small but significant synagogue. This 1st century structure would have certainly been present during Jesus’ ministry. Due to His habit of worshiping in the synagogue and His strong connection to this town through Mary it is highly likely that Jesus was here. From this spot you can also look across the lake and see Capernaum where Peter lived and Jesus based most of His ministry from during His time around the sea of Galilee. Again more evidence that Jesus was here. As a believer I worship Christ, not the ground He walked on, but it is a cool feeling to think you are standing in the place your savior likely walked and worshiped. Inside this small synagogue you can see the four pillars along with three rows of seating. There were several very intricate mosaics that […]

  • DSCN0251
    Israel 2014 Day 3 May 19, 2014 Israel 2014 Day 3 May 19, 2014

    Israel 2014 Day 3 May 19, 2014

Israel 2014 Day 3 May 19, 2014

It was great to get a full night’s rest and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day. This morning started about 7am for me, after a shower and time in prayer and scripture I headed down stairs for breakfast. The food was good, but now as great as last night’s meal. Lots of bread, eggs, and some fruit were presented for us buffet style. After breakfast we gathered in the lobby then departed by foot for the NETS (Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary) building. It was a bit of a climb but we arrived without any major problems. There we met our lecturer for the morning. His name is Katanacho. He explained that in Greek Kata means “according to” so everything he was going to tell us was “according to nacho.” Katanacho was very articulate, informed, well read, and extremely honest and fair in his presentation. He is an Israeli Palestinian Christian Arab. His task was to help us understand the Arab Israeli conflict that has been going on for so long. To do this he described what each of the titles associated with him mean. How can he be and Israeli Palestinian? How can he be a Christian Arab? Or Palestinian Christian and so forth. Having only been here for 48 hours one thing I have noticed is how big everyone is on classifications. Everyone you meet is defined by these categories. Our presenter explained why this is such a problem and why it causes so much confusion. Next he asked the question, who is fighting who? During our discussion we learned a great deal about the plight and oppression of the Palestinians in Israel. To be certain they have done their fair […]

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