Part 4: Israel 2019 – The Golan Heights and more…

This day was about seeing some of the incredible raw beauty in the area of the Golan, hearing from some Israelis, and prayer.

We started the day on a long bus ride, leaving the Sea of Galilee and climbing high up to the area of the Golan Heights. First we visited the look out point at Misgav Am. The views were breathtaking as we heard from a leader about some of the history of this Kibbutz located literally on the border of Southern Lebanon. Our group took time to pray here too… for the people on the other side of the border, as well as for the people of the kibbutz and the soldiers stationed there. We really wanted to bless them, so I think we may have just about “bought out” their small store.

Next we visited Caesarea Phillipi near the foot of Mt. Hermon. It’s a beautiful park now with springs and more (including fig trees as in the photo above), but it has a dark and pagan history. If you want to learn more, you might find this article interesting, it includes some of the things that were shared by our Pastors and guides that day.

Our last stop for the day was The Valley of Tears Memorial, on the border of Syria (so close we could see buildings in the distance) and the site of one of the largest tank battles in history. It commemorates those who fought and lost their lives in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Rani Levy passionately shared the story of what turned out to be a miraculous battle and victory with us, as well as the importance of the Golan Heights to Israel. It was very clear how much he loves his country. If you want to learn more, check out this book: The Heights of Courage.

We traveled back down the mountains to the Sea of Galilee for our last night at the hotel there, with much to reflect on and pray about. I couldn’t help but notice the places where the land has been reclaimed and is once again fruitful. Just before laying down that night, I took one last photo, it’s Tiberias from the balcony of my room. I wish the photo would show how lovely it really was — the lights of the city were twinkling and shining brightly.

Jerusalem was coming next, and I was excited to go there. But still, leaving the Galilee was a bit heart-wrenching. It’s my desire to go back and spend time at Migdal Arbel, in His time.

Part 3: Israel 2019 – Jesus and The Galilee

Thoughts of Jesus filled and continue to fill my heart as I think of this day.  As the Gospels and historians confirm, the Galilee is where Jesus came after his baptism by John, his desert temptation and the miracle of the water & wine at Cana. It is on these shores where much of his ministry took place. I can picture him there, calling Peter, the miraculous net-breaking catch of fish, feeding five thousand, calming the storm, walking on the water.

We started our day at a 1st century synagogue in Magdala. Mary of Magdalene came from there and Jesus definitely would have taught there. The excavation was amazing, as was the beautiful mural in the church there. it represents the woman with the issue of blood who was made whole by her faith, and by touching Jesus.

 

Next was Capernaum (Kfar Nahum or Nahum’s village). Archaeological excavations there include Peter’s house and a 4th century synagogue (limestone) which was built on the foundation of a 1st century (black basalt) synagogue.  This was the hometown of Peter, James, John, Andrew and the tax collector Matthew. Its where Jesus healed the Roman Centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law and the paralytic lowered through the roof.

 

We spent time on the Sea of Galilee before going to lunch at Ein Giv. We enjoyed the peaceful waters, saw how the fishing net was thrown, sang worship songs and danced an Israeli dance (thanks to instruction from Eli, one of our guides), and were taught by Pastor Terri.

 

We visited the Jesus Boat Museum at Ginosar before continuing on to Yardenit, the baptism site on the Jordan river. At Yardenit many of us donned baptismal robes and were baptized by our pastors.  It was very meaningful for me, a reconfirmation of my dedication to Jesus, and it was so precious to be baptized by Pastor Terri . (I didn’t want to show myself crying, so the photo shows Pastor Terri smiling as I came up out of the water).

 

We ended our day with dinner back at the Sea of Galilee Hotel in Magdala, and rested in preparation for day 4.

 

 

I am so grateful to have been there, where he walked. I hope the next time you read about the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum in the Gospels that these images will help these places and stories come alive for you too.

And Jesus, getting into a boat, crossed over the Sea of Galilee and came to [Capernaum] His own city…

Part 2: Israel 2019, Memorial Day and the Sea of Galilee

This year my 1st full day in Israel was on Memorial Day for the U.S.  We started in Ceasarea and ended at the Sea of Galilee. But in the midst of it, we stopped to remember… to remember that freedom isn’t free, and to be grateful for all who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us.

MAY27009As on every day of the tour, we began by reading Psalm 91 out loud together (on this day Pastor George and Terri were on our bus and led us). Then we prayed and thanked God for his protection and leading.

 

Next we visited Ceasarea on the Mediterranean, saw some ruins (including an aqueduct) and other parts that are still in use (like the amphitheater).  We also visited Mt. Carmel and saw the Jezreel Valley (a.k.a, the Valley of Meggido).

We planted trees! It’s a big deal — over 2 Million have been planted since they Jews returned to the land in 1948. It was truly an honor to remember those who gave their lives by planting trees. Several leaders and guides shared, and then we got to work in the hot Israeli sun. Our trees will be irrigated for 2 years, and then grow on their own. I like to think of how big they’ll be in ten years – and the part they will plant to make a difference in the land. I am thankful for Albert who helped me plant it too!

On to the Sea of Galilee, with our next stop on the Mount of Beatitudes for a teaching from Matthew 5. I can picture the people sitting on the hills and hearing Jesus with the wild grasses and the wind softly blowing and the sea below. It seems so wild in spots, I think it probably looks pretty much the same as when He walked there with his disciples.

We stayed at the Sea of Galilee Hotel in Magdala (remember Mary Magdalene? – she came from there). The scenery was breath-taking, and as evening came the winds increased making the palm trees sway. We slept with our door cracked open, again… enjoying the gentle breezes and sounds of the Galilee.

I am grateful for every moment. and I for now will leave you with these words from Matthew 5:

“What delight comes to you when you wait upon the Lord! For you shall find what you long for. What blessing comes to you when gentleness lives in you! For you will inherit the earth. How enriched you are when you crave righteousness! For you will be surrounded with fruitfulness. What bliss you will experience when your heart is pure! For you will see more and more of God.”

And I say, amen, so be it Lord.

Scripture quotations marked TPT are from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Two Weeks Ago I Was Waking Up In Israel

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As I sit on my couch enjoying the early morning sunshine in Michigan, I am so grateful that just two weeks ago I was waking up in Israel at beginning of a wonderful trip. It was a great joy and blessing, so I want to share it with all of you. We did so much and my heart is so full that I’ll need to share it in “bite sized” pieces.

Days 1 and 2 were travel days where sleep was hard to come by since we were all so excited to get to Israel. We were at the airport by 8:30 am on Saturday and did not arrive in Israel until Sunday evening.  It wasn’t easy, but it was so worth it! First there was a short flight to Chicago, a delay of the flight to Newark, a force in change of planes due to issues with plane 1. We arrived in Newark, NJ and had to collect our bags very quickly, change terminals and then check in at El Al. But 1st we had to go through interviews with El Al/customs that were very rigorous, I had to answer questions for 30 minutes. IsraelDay1-001

The flight left at 11:30 pm and finally, on Sunday evening we arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. We got through customs, collected our bags, met up with the rest of the tour and our four buses headed to The Western Lagoon Hotel in Netanya. We had a lovely dinner and went to bed.

 

The next morning we awoke to a beautiful view of the Mediterranean.

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I’ll share more soon, but for now I leave you with this encouragement from Jeremiah 29:11-12 (Good News Translation)

“I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me and i will answer you.”

Oh how He loves us!

A Spring Reminder of His Faithfulness

Flowers of your faithfulness are blooming on the earth. Righteousness shines down from the sky.
Psalms 85:11 TPT

And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty more than one of these! So if God has clothed the meadow with hay, which is here for such a short time and then dried up and burned, won’t he provide for you the clothes you need—even though you live with such little faith?
Matthew 6:28‭-‬30 TPT

Scripture quotations marked TPT are from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.