Archive for the ‘Holy Land Travel’ Category

Ending the Journey of a Lifetime at Golgotha

Our last day began with a brief tour of the hospital where Tom Gronewald volunteers as a missionary servant to Israel. It was very enlightening to hear about and to see the medical facilities and preparations done by this hospital.

We went from the hope of holistic medicine to the sobering reality of the Holocaust! Touring the Yad Vashem museum and the atrocities of the Nazi Holocaust leaves you an ache in your heart. The staggering scenes and video-taped interviews with Holocaust survivors left a grim reminder of the evil that is in this world. It ignites the passion for showing love and restoring the dignity and value of every human being. People matter to God and people matter to us too!

Our final journey took us to the Praetorian where Jesus was flogged, mocked and spat upon. He went through all the agony of Gethsemane, the beatings and the crucifixion for us!

Wow, what a Savior!

We wept as we stood on the stones in which Jesus received His cruel thrashing. We followed the Via Dolorosa , the way of suffering where Jesus carried His cross with the help of Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21).

Along this busy road we came to Golgotha and the Garden Tomb. We were truly standing on holy ground as we saw the Skull in the rocky cliff and personally witnessed the empty tomb. We gathered to read, worship and celebrate Holy Communion. What a special time of personal renewal and spiritual intimacy with our Lord. Richard played his violin and Kyler led us in worship as we spent an hour and a half just praising God for His gracious sacrifice on our behalf. This is the fitting conclusion to an amazing tour.

Isaiah 53:4-5 reveals the prophetic truth of our Messiah Jesus:

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.”

Our group has truly become a family and many are already planning to join us on our next trip to Israel and Greece from July 8-22, 2011. Please pray about joining us as well. You will never be the same!



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The Ancient City of David

We viewed a 3-D movie of the ancient city of David before we saw the actual ruins left in this archeological site. Over 3,000 years of history is being excavated here. Then we participated in the Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation where we took part in the actual archeological process with our own hands. Our group discovered coins, bones, pottery pieces, mosaics, frescoes and other specialty rocks dating back to the Second Temple period. It was great to literally get our hands in the dirt of this ancient land.

Our lunch was at the Ramat Rachel Kibbutz, which has a very nice Hotel with a view into Bethlehem and Rachel’s Tomb. My pre-conceived idea of what a Kibbutz would be like was shattered by the modern facilities and luxuries enjoyed in this Kibbutz. It is the only Kibbutz with a Hotel in Jerusalem.

Back into the Old City of Jerusalem, we sang within the Church of St. Ann as our songs echoed off the ceiling. Just outside were the pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the man who had been ill for 38 years (John 5:1-17). Kyler continued to lead us in wonderful worship as we tried to assimilate and soak in all the spiritual insights that have flooded our heads and hearts. There is so much to absorb and learn!

Finally, we went through the Rabbi’s Tunnel that goes underground along the western wall of the Temple Mount! The foundations stones of the Second Temple range from 400-1000 tons each and fit so closely together that a razor blade cannot slide between them. The incredible process of chiseling, transporting and laying the stones to make the Temple Mount was illustrated in an animated movie presentation. As we walked along this tunnel, there is a spot that is closest to the Holy of Holies in which people pause to pray.

After this trip of experiences, learning and ministry opportunities, may we all practice Colossians 4:2: “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”

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It's an amazing gift to walk where Jesus walked and pray where Jesus prayed.

An early morning after a late night was well worth the effort as we walked along the Dan River to Tel Dan. This hike invigorated everyone with the beauty and splendor of this land. This resembles the land that the Israelites of old found:

“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9).

These eight items listed in this passage of fruitful produce are still national crops today as well. We also could look into the Lebanese and Syrian borders where so many military conflicts have occurred.

Caesarea Philippi was our next stop, the most northeast place that Jesus traveled. Like the Dan River, another spring flows as a head water tributary for the Jordan. It was here that Jesus questioned His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (read all of Matthew 16:13-20).

This Roman colony was the place where they worshipped the false god Pan, of lower Echo. Here they had the “gates of Hell” where they performed sacrifices to their pagan gods. It was also here that Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus was the Master teacher who utilized visual illustrations to impact His listeners with spiritual truths. Praise the Lord that He is the One who is building His church!

Back in Galilee, we ate a St. Peter’s fish lunch and then came to Capernaum, the place where Jesus spent most of His earthly ministry (Mark 1:21-3:14). It was here that Jesus called five of His disciples; therefore, we learned about what being a disciple really looks like.

Passages of John 8:31-32; 13:34-35; 15:8-11 and Luke 14:25-27 all point out key qualities of being a biblical disciple! We had a spiritual time of worshipping God right there on the sea shore of Galilee. It is remarkable to walk where Jesus walked, pray where Jesus prayed, teach where Jesus taught and worship where Jesus worshipped. Please pray that our lives will never be the same as I pray for you too. Thanks!

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We see the hand of God everywhere we look.

In most places we close our eyes to envision Jesus, but here you need to open them.

Our morning began with a “float” in the Dead Sea. It’s amazing the buoyancy of this sea. Our journey continued to Masada, the mountain fortress where 960 Jewish defenders organized their last resistance against the Roman conquerors and eventually took their own lives rather than surrender into slavery. Masada is a symbol of courage and perseverance for Jewish nationalism. It is an incredibly well designed fortress with ancient “air conditioning” and water supply system.

Next we went to Ein Gedi where David hid from King Saul (I Samuel 23:29-24:22). It is an Oasis in the middle of the desert. The river flows from powerful springs and the animals were abundant. Ibex, goats, birds and coney were running all around. Psalm 42:1 comes to mind in this majestic Oasis: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.” That is my prayer for each of us and you reading this blog. May we all seek the Lord with a fresh thirst for His will for our lives!

Following Ein Gedi we visited Qumran where the “Dead Sea Scrolls” were found. There were many purchases of the special lotions, ointments and other souvenirs at the gift store. We drove as it became dark up to Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee.

After dinner we went out on a night boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. What a sacred time of prayer, worship and the Word floating on the Sea which Jesus walked upon. The Israeli boat crew was so moved by our worship and prayers that they allowed us stay out for one hour forty five minutes—it was supposed to be only one hour. In most places we close our eyes to envision Jesus, but here you need to open them.

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Our Adventure in the Holy Land Continues

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At the top of Mount Sinai

Following the Exodus of Israel through Sinai desert!

Leaving Cairo, we traveled under the Suez Canal and spent the day going through the Sinai desert on our way to Mt. Sinai. According to tradition, it was on this mountain that Moses received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19 and 20), which we reviewed with our family on the bus. The mountain is also reputed to have served as the site where Moses was commissioned from God at the burning bush (Exodus 3). The alternative mountain is in Saudi Arabia (formerly Midian).

The hike to the top of Mt. Sinai was grueling, but well worth it. We had a full moon as we started hiking at 2:00 a.m. to climb for more than four miles. God provided an amazing site of the sunrise to the east and the full moon illuminating mountain ranges to the west.

Chelsea took a picture of the full moon and a brilliant blue cross appeared in the photo. As we waited to see the sunrise, there appeared a bright blue light just above the rising sun. It seemed as if God was affirming His manifest presence to us.

We left Egypt and entered the “Promised Land” of Israel and there seemed to be a lighter spiritual atmosphere. It was here that we felt like we were standing on holy ground. We greeted our good friend and tour guide Ido Keynan and “Yoshea,” our driver from the last tour. It was a great time of fellowship and laughter driving up to the Dead Sea.

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Journey to the Holy Land

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