“A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.”
John Owen (17th Century)
It is Friday afternoon here in Israel and the Sabbath is just beginning. As a result we are back at our hotel earlier than normal and I have some time to post again. We arrived to Jerusalem yesterday (Thursday) and spent the afternoon viewing the city from some high spots such as the Mount of Olives. Jerusalem is a very complex and ancient city and the overview is always helpful.
This morning we began our day by entering the "Old City". We walked through some of the city and visited first the Church of the Holy Sepulchre built over the area where many believe the cross of Jesus Christ stood.
We then went to the Western Wall (often called the "wailing wall") and had the opportunity to walk up to it. Here is a picture of Chris Fink, LaRue Short and Jim Grube standing near it:
From here we visited the Rabbinal Tunnels (an excavation along the Western Wall deep below ground level). Here we are well underground with our host for this part of the tour:
After our time in the "Old City" we traveled to the Israel Museum to learn from a huge model of Jerusalem as the city was in the time of Jesus. Then we spent some time inside viewing some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here's a picture of some of our group at the Jerusalem Model:
We enjoyed some other stops as well today. Tomorrow we walk the footsteps of Jesus on His final day including the Upper Room (what it looked like), the Garden of Gethsemene, the house of Caiaphas, and the Garden Tomb where we will celebrate the Lord's Supper together.
Everyone is doing fine here. It's been a great group!
We began today with another great breakfast! The food has been spectacular so far on our trip as have been the hotel accomodations. We will leave our Tiberias Hotel in the morning as we travel south from the Sea of Galilee area to the far south where the Dead Sea is located. On the way we'll make several stops.
After breakfast this morning we traveled north into the Golan Heights and stopped at one of the 300 or so still operating "kibbutzs" in Israel. The one we stopped at produces Naot Shoes. So a little shopping was either enjoyed or endured by all!
We then traveled to the Tel Dan Nature Preserve which is located near the northern border of Israel with Lebanon. There is much Biblical history here related to the reign of Jeraboam, the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Later we stopped at Ceasarea Philippi, an ancient center of pagan worship. This is where Jesus took His disciples on their first trip away from Sea of Galilee area. The story is recorded for us in Matthew 16 which I had the priviledge of sharing with our group.
We traveled the day throughout the Golan Heights learning about the spiritual, political and economic aspects of this region. The Golan is a unique area. At one time we were only 40 miles from Damascus, Syria (a long ways from home)!
Thank you again for praying for us! We're looking forward to tomorrow!
At the risk of being redundant, today was another phenomenal day for our group in Israel. Here are just a few highlights and pictures of the 203 pictures I just downloaded from today:
That's it for now! Tomorrow we travel to the Golan Heights, Ceasarea Philippi, and several other places. What a blessing!
We've had a great Day Two today! While the weather was a bit overcast, we were able to experience several great sites and locations. Here are a few highlights before I call it a night:
I could post another 100 pictures easily if time permitted. For now though please know our New Hope group is having a great time and experiencing so much. Thanks for remembering us!
On Friday, March 23, many from our group gathered at New Hope's North Campus to board our transport bus. Others will meet us at the airport in Detroit and some others at our international departure point in Philadelphia. Here is a picture of those who met at the North Campus:
At 10:00 Saturday morning Ohio time, after almost 24 hours of travel by bus and plane, we arrived to our hotel on the Mediterrean Sea outside of Tel Aviv, Israel. Here is a view from one of our rooms:
Tomorrow morning we head north up the coast of Israel to Ceasarea, Mount Carmel, Nazareth, and several other sites. We're looking forward to a great day!
I have shared several times here how much I find myself rejoicing in the words of some of the great preachers of the past. There was a time when I was quick to purchase the latest book by a contemporary preacher. But seeing so few actually stand the test of time, I have developed more and more respect for those who have done so. This post is filled with some great quotes from Charles Spurgeon, one of the most gifted preachers of the Gospel ever. Please read each one thoughtfully if you have time.
Several weeks ago, I was asked if we would consider canceling our Sunday morning services at New Hope since Christmas was falling on a Sunday this year. It did not take long for me to answer that question as the very idea of canceling a religious service because of a religious holiday seemed prepostorous to me. And so this year at New Hope we are hosting three identical Christmas Services, two on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas morning.
The Wall Street Journal had this article describing how the same issue has been being processed by churches around our country. I was especially struck by this sentence from within the article: "But it's also self-defeating to complain about keeping Christmas holy when churches close on Dec. 25." The writer makes a great point with that statement!
I do hope to see you either on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning for one of our services as we celebrate "the Word made Flesh"!