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 New Perspective

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I watched The Passion of The Christ last weekend, but not because I enjoy it. I felt compelled to remember the price that he paid. This time, I found myself viewing it from a new perspective.

I was struck by the wide range of people in the story, and how they seem to represent all of humanity – the good and the bad, all walks of life – and that for all of these, Jesus was willing to give his life. I saw that it includes:

  • Religious leaders like the High Priest, Elders and their false witnesses – some who were misguided, acting out of fear and/or wanted him dead (they spit on him and beat him). Along with some who believed in him, like Nicodemus.
  • A friend who betrayed him: Judas – Jesus fed him, washed his feet, drank with him, and let him betray him with a kiss (wow!)
  • Military men, hardened soldiers who it seemed had no problem scourging and beating him, mocking and spitting on him, crushing a crown of thorns into his head
  • Political leaders like Herod who was looking for a miracle, when he didn’t get what he wanted, he and his men of war mocked and despised Jesus. And Pilot who really didn’t believe he had done wrong, but he allowed himself to be bent to the “will” of those demanding crucifixion.
  • An insurgent (terrorist) – a  known robber, thief and murderer – he was released instead of Jesus. Isn’t it interesting that the meaning of his name, Barabbas, is “A son of the father”?
  • Followers of Jesus, some faithful and some who fled or denied him out of fear – for example: Peter, John, Mary and Mary Magdalene.
  • The unnamed crowd, some crying crucify him and some who probably cried Hosanna earlier that week, but thought he would be a conqueror, and when he wasn’t what they thought he should be, they turned on him. I suspect this crowd represented most of us —  people who were Jews, Gentiles, young, old, rich, poor, religious and non-religious, free and slave.

Oh what an amazing love. Jesus knew he would die so that we would be be saved. He saw how they acted, how they treated him. How we’ve acted and treated him, but still He willingly gave his life for us.

But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly. And there is still so much more to say of his unfailing love for us! ~ Romans 5:8-9a TPT

Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered it’s humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2b

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

 

Say what?!?

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So why “Say what?!?‘ as my first written post of 2019? To put it simply, I feel like God has been putting these words in front of me like a billboard – EVERYWHERE! Obviously I need it, so recently I have been doing a lot of thinking about the importance of what I hear, read, say and believe.

In Proverbs 23 it says “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.”  And in Proverbs 18:21 it says “Your words are so powerful that they will kill or give life.” (The Passion Translation). Considering this, it is equally important that I not only choose to speak words of life (true, kind, pure, loving, etc.) but that I also choose to think these thoughts about myself and others.  To know and believe the thoughts that God has about me,  and not to buy into the lies of my enemy, Satan.

It’s so easy to hear and think the negative. It takes effort to choose to hear, speak and believe words of life.  I am so incredibly grateful that HE has equipped me (and you) with the truth of the Word to fight against the lies, so that I (we) can live in the light of His love.

Here are a few examples of what I am focusing on, my paraphrase:

2 Corinthians 10:5 I have the power to cast down imaginations and thoughts that don’t line up with what God says. I’m weighing my thoughts more carefully, rejecting what’s not right or true, choosing truth.

2 Peter 1:3 He has given me everything that pertains to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him… Everything I need, I can learn from knowing Him!

Jeremiah 29:11  He has a good plan for my life.  I believe it!

John 14:27 He has given me His peace. i take it and I’m holding on to it!

Isaiah 48:17 He teaches me to profit and leads me in the way that I should go. I expect it, I’m looking for it every day.

Be encouraged, believe that God loves you, HE REALLY DOES LOVE YOU. – John 3:16

Update on my October Gratefulness Challenge

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Back in mid-October I challenged both me and you to be more mindful of the things we have to be grateful for every day.  I don’t know about you, but I haven’t always remembered to do this. However, on the days I do the result is that I am more conscious of my many blessings, and I tend to be more content – perhaps even more patient and kind.

Anyway, I want to share an update on some of the things that I have been considering, which may seem random, but are all worth being grateful for.  Things as simple as warm blankets, soft pillows, socks without holes, working vehicles, good weather for raking leaves, front row parking spots, bills paid, and extra to give to others. Playing games/doing puzzles with my mom, any time spent with my husband, children and grandchildren, a good job, time to relax, Sunday and Wednesday services, insightful Bible teaching, faithful friends, yarn & knitting, and music (both peaceful and victory filled).

Of course I could keep going, but I really hope in some way that you are encouraged as you consider your blessings. I pray that you will also find joy in living a gratefulness-mindful life, and that you both know and experience the love that God has for you.

As the hymn by Johnson Oatman, Jr.  in 1897 says:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.