Israel Part 3
Posted: Oct 25, 2009 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

What a day of contrast it was today. The tour is winding down and we have just a few more things left to see tomorrow. Our flight leaves in about 24 hours and we will get back to Fort Myers at about 5:30 on Monday. This truly has been a trip of a lifetime! Today was the culmination. We started the day in Bethlehem and first went to the shepherds fields. How incredible it was to imagine the sky above filled with the heavenly hosts telling those humble shepherds, “Behold I bring you tidings of great joy!” If I was one of those shepherds, I probably would have had a coronary!
After the fields, we made our way to the church of the nativity where Jesus was born. I have never seen a crowd of people like that in my life! We seriously felt like cattle! They took us down to a little cave where they had a star of Bethlehem in the spot where they believe Jesus was born. Inside this little church, there must have been no less than 2,000 people. Imagine not being able to move a step. People crowding everywhere around you all for the chance to peek inside a little cave. We waited in line for over 3 hours just to have that chance.
After having some lunch, we made our way to the garden tomb where it is believed by many to be the place where Jesus was laid. I saw Calvary which is the spitting image of a skull just like the gospels said. After spending some time there, we made our way down to the tomb and to our surprise, there were no crowds there. The tomb was smaller than the cave where Jesus was born. Only 5 people at a time could go in. Our group of 50 was in and out of the tomb in less than 15 minutes. This whole experience got me thinking about the contrast between the two locations. On one hand, we have thousands of people waiting in line for hours to see the place where Jesus was born and another, much fewer seeing the spot where He was raised from the dead. Ladies and gentleman, I sat in the tomb. He isn’t there anymore! I saw the place where the stone was rolled away. The resurrection of Jesus is the lifeline of our faith. It is because He raised from the dead that we have freedom and hope for tomorrow. I leave you with a song many know so well. This truly has been the trip of a lifetime and I can see with absolute certainty I will never be the same again.
“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know, I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because He lives.”
Now go and tell someone about it.

With Expectancy!


Israel Part 2
Posted: Oct 22, 2009 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

What an incredible trip this has been! We have been touring now for about a week but it seems like a lot longer than that. We started the tour in the area of the Sea of Galilee which was gorgeous! We then took a 2 day jaunt into Jordan to visit the city of Amman as well as Petra. Petra was an experience that I will never forget. The only thing that comes remotely close to describing Petra is the Grand Canyon. If you ever have a few minutes, google Petra. The pictures that you see online will not come remotely close to portraying how amazing this site truly is but at least it will give you a lot of information. After leaving Petra, we crossed the border into Israel which was quite an experience.

I have a hobby of collecting knives. I have them from several different countries that I have visited. While we were in Jordan, I picked up a very interesting dagger. Well, crossing the border into Israel proved to be very interesting. I put the dagger into my suitcase as to not give the impression that I was using the knife or could have it handy for any sort of intent for harm. We took a bus and all of the luggage was underneath. When you cross the border, all luggage has to go off of the bus, get inspected and then put into a different bus. It seems like a lot of security but I will give them the benefit of the doubt because of what they have to deal with on a day to day basis living in Israel. Needless to say, I understand why security is so tight. Our group made it through the line fine and then I came through passport control where they made me (and only me) go through to a separate room where they searched me, took my fingerprints and picture and asked me a bunch of questions about why I had the knife with me. They actually let me keep it! The group was a little curious as to why I was detained and we had a good laugh. It was a bit interesting to say the least.

After the formalities with the border situation, we passed by Jericho (which though in Israel is controlled by the Palestinians) and made the trip into Jerusalem. Seeing Jerusalem for the first time was an experience I will never forget. This morning, our first stop was at the Mt. of Olives where Jesus will one day return to take His rightful place! The most memorable time of the day came just a few steps down the Palm Sunday road to the Garden of Gethsemane. Today, I sat in the very spot where Jesus sweat drops of blood in anticipation of drinking the cup of suffering. What was in that cross? The sin of humanity. I have often heard comments from people saying, “The Jewish people put Jesus on the cross.” They are wrong. The Jewish people did not put Jesus on the cross. I did. You did. We all did. Jesus died for us all and it was because of our sin that He died. I will never be the same again after experiencing what I experienced today. We also got to see the Holocaust museum today. That was a heartwrenching experience, but I will talk about that more on a different day.

With Expectancy!


Israel Part 1
Posted: Oct 17, 2009 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

Wow! I have been in Israel a grand total of 3 days and I feel like I have seen more in the last 3 days than I have for my entire life. What an experience! For the past few days, we have spent the majority of our time around the Sea of Galilee where Jesus spent most of his earthly ministry. This morning, I woke up at 5:00 am to watch the sunrise over the sea. As I stood out by the water, ten million thoughts went through my mind. This is the very same water that Jesus walked on. The hills across from our hotel are the same hills where Jesus healed the man that was demon possessed. To the left, Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. To the right, the Jordan river where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Everywhere I looked it seemed was the location of something extremely significant to my faith in Christ. This morning during my time of devotion, surrounded by scenery so beautiful that words pale in comparison, the only words that could come to my mind were words that I borrowed from Job.
“For I know that my redeemer lives.”
Ladies and gentleman, I may not be able to tell you when the economy is going to recover. I can’t tell you when your house is going to regain it’s value. I have no idea which stock to invest in. But there is one thing that I do know. I know that my redeemer lives! I know because I spoke with him this morning. I know because I have walked in the same steps that he has walked. I know because he has changed my life. As we begin to share our faith and tell others about Christ, stop worrying about what your don’t know and starting talking about what you do know. We know that our redeemer lives and that my friends, is by far the most important thing that there is to know.
More to come in a few days.

With Expectancy!

For the Birds
Posted: Oct 5, 2009 in Uncategorized | No Comments |

I know that I have a lot of pet peeves. This past weekend, First Assembly in Fort Myers did a presentation about Noah and the Arc. They had tons of animals including lots of birds. This is where the whole pet peeve thing comes into play. I strongly dislike birds. Yesterday was just another reason why. As I am doing the alter call, a white bird (no idea what kind it was) took off from the platform, flew right next to my FACE and landed in the front row. To say that I was startled would be the understatement of the century. After the initial shock, I recovered to proceed with the alter call and all was well.

I remember several years ago I had a bout with a nest of birds at our church. There was a branch that was covering the door heading into the office and it needed to be cut down. What we didn’t know was that in that branch was a nest of birds who were none to happy that we demolished their home. For about the next 2 weeks after that, these birds were in attack mode! I remember several times walking into the sanctuary and being attacked by these killer demonic birds. They always seemed to come after me. They would swoop down, peck you in the back of the head and make a horrible shrieking sound.

From that day forward, I had a strong dislike of birds. Now I know that God created birds and that they serve a purpose and that tons of people all over the planet love them…..but I am not one of them. Yesterday’s incident, however reminded me that even though I am not a big fan of birds, God likes them a lot. He created all the birds and they must bring him a tremendous amount of joy. Yet as much joy as the birds bring to Him, you bring him even more. I am reminded of the old song that says,

“(I) I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me”

God loves you and knows what you are going through. There isn’t a bird that falls from the sky that He doesn’t know about. He knows what you are going through and cares about you more than you can imagine. So the next time you see a bird flying through the sky, I hope it reminds you how crazy God is about you. And the next time I see a bird, I will be reminded about the many times they have attacked me and sent me into a state of panic.

With Expectancy!