Friday, December 24, 2010

Reaching Out To Others...Across The Globe

I will be posting the 4th week in Advent post...just a little late. Christmas week has been busy getting ready for the coming of Christ!

Meanwhile, I just got the exciting news of where our shoeboxes went this year! Samaritans Purse has a new feature. If you get a tracking number, they'll email you where they send each box! Apparently ours were all sent to Togo, Africa!
What's especially incredible to me is that we had contributed a lot of flip flops to our boxes this year. We found a good many at a great price...and God sent them to a country where they actually can use them! It's so neat to follow the threads...or paths...of the adventure of following God. We didn't have to worry about the details, God knew where those boxes were needed!

If you'd like to read more about Togo and the children who received our boxes, click here: Samaritan's Purse.

The children in Togo will have a tangible picture of the Gift God sent on Christmas day. The Gift of Salvation for each one of those precious ones.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Third Week In Advent: Waiting Between the Times

Sunday the third candle in the Advent wreath was lit. This candle represents John the Baptist. The man wearing camel hair clothing in the desert, eating locust and honey, and preparing the way of the Lord. He was a modern day prophet to the Israelites. His calling was similar to Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah. With one big difference. His calling was to prepare the way for the Savior...who was coming right after!

In many ways [John] represents waiting...He proclaims Jesus' coming, points people to Jesus, waits eagerly for him, yet stands permanently on the outside. His role appears to be simply one of herald, announcing Jesus, point beyond himself, looking forward but never arriving. He stood, waiting, between the old and the new, because that was what God called him to do and, perhaps, in that waiting he found meaning.
This year I found greater meaning than ever in hearing this story. I think it's because I was able to picture the surroundings. The areas where John lived and ate locust and honey. I know what camel hair feels like. I've felt the heat of the the middle of a dry desert.

(photo was taken at Qumron, Israel)

 In some ways John is the epitome of Advent: a figure in whom the past and the future meet in an explosive message for the present: John may be called to waiting, but his waiting can hardly be called passive; John's is an abrasive, disruptive, unsettling waiting- a waiting that is about as active as it is possible to be.

While we are called to wait, we're called to wait actively.  Sitting around twiddling our thumbs does not count as active waiting. Sometimes, it can be hard to picture what active waiting might look like in certain situations. But we're to be ever moving forward, ever active in this adventure of following God. Even during the waiting times.
Part of the adventure of following God is discovering where God will lead us next. Knowing that God has called us tells us nothing about what God has called us to do. Even those who are more or less comfortably established in doing something to which they have been called by God cannot be certain that tomorrow, next month, or next year this calling will remain the same. The people who heard about John's birth knew that God was calling him and pondered where that calling might lead. 
Our following God truly is a journey or adventure. When I think of journey, I think of the active part. The walking, running, climbing, sliding, moving. It's fluid, and the surroundings are constantly changing. Our calling changes, we move, we change, new things come up. Old things end. There were never any promises that things would be easy on this journey. We go through times when we wonder exactly where God is and what he's up to, and how is this place and this time any help or any significance anyway. Think of John in jail. He sends his disciples to find out if Jesus is really the one they're waiting for. Don't you think he may have wondered what good his being in jail was in fulfilling his calling?

....We need to recognize that John the Baptist's calling is, in fact, our own calling just as he is called to point beyond himself, to deflect attention ever onward to the one who is the Light of the World so we are called to do the same. John's ministry sets up a chain of which we are now a part. He pointed to the truth so that "all might believe through him", once believing they, like the woman at the well, should pass on the message to others so that many might come to believe and pass it on themselves. 
John the Baptists stands as an example to us of one who is prepared, in all humility, to recognize that he is not he center but the periphery; not the attraction but the signpost to the attraction; no the Light but the one who helps others see the Light. Jesus' calling to us all is that we pick up the baton of John and become witnesses to the one who brings salvation to the world. This is only a part, but an important part, of the reorientation that we were reflecting on in the previous passage. John the Baptist's message of repentance involves a huge reorientation in which the center of our believing becomes no longer ourselves but one who is much, much, greater. 
The waiting we do at Advent reminds us of the importance of taking up John's baton of witness and passing it on, and of reorientating ourselves outward from the center of our lives so there is room enough for Jesus in the core of our being.

This begs the question, who are we passing the message on to? And what message does our life send to those who are waiting to see it?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Waiting For The Day Of The Lord

The second candle of advent was lit today in recognition of the prophets.
The prophets heralded the coming of Christ, the day of the Lord.
This week we're focusing on waiting for the day of the Lord.

"The second candle on the Advent wreath is associated with the prophets and, in particular, their prophecies of the "one who is to come." With this candle, therefore, we are waiting for the future and all that it might hold."

The day of the can bring different pictures to mind. Isaiah for instance was talking about the day of the Lord meaning deliverance for Judah from the Assyrians. But he was also referring to the day of the Lord meaning Jesus being sent for our redemption. Today, when one references the day of the Lord, we automatically think of the end of times, and the second coming. Either way, all three are instances of God's people waiting for the day of the Lord. The day of our redemption and deliverance.

This second candle brings more light to darkness, more hope to our waiting. The hope is growing stronger with the light that our waiting will not be in vain. We are waiting for someone to fulfill the prophecies of a peaceful world in which a lion will lie down with a lamb, where a virgin will have a son and call Him Immanuel, a son who will establish a kingdom and uphold justice with righteousness forevermore.

Of course everyone has their own private idea of a savior. Maybe someone on a white horse with shining armor, ready to combat the dragons at the gate. Maybe a warrior with arrows at the ready to conquer the enemies pouring down upon them. Someone who changes the darkness of fear and oppression to the light of gladness, peace, and happiness. The Israelites were expecting a savior who would free them from the oppression of their enemies, who would bring peace to their land once again. Their idea of a savior looked more like the fierce warrior on the white horse.
"As is so often the case, Jesus fulfills these ancient prophecies in a surprising way, and it is through weaving light into the shade of our present world that he evokes wonder by the wisdom of his counsel; shows the power of God in the world's cares eternally just like a parent; and is the source of all well-being for God's people. Jesus lived as wonderful counsellor, mighty God, everlasting father, and prince of peace in the midst of our broken, despairing world, shining in the darkness and bringing hope. 
It is this light shining in the darkness for which we wait, and the season of Advent calls us to readjust our eyes in that darkness so that we can see glimmers of the Light of the World, glowing and pointing us forward to that ultimate time in the future when everything will be fulfilled...."

And so we wait. Quietly, in the darkness, staring at the shine and glow of two candles. One reminding us silently of how we are called to wait. The second, that we are waiting for the day of the Lord.

Waiting is not just sitting around, slightly bored, passively waiting for the next thing.

" The Hebrew word that is often translated wait (as in Genesis 49:18, "I wait for your salvation, O Lord") has the additional meaning of "look eagerly" or "lie in wait for" that brings with it that concept of being a "lookout" whose sole task is to gaze into the distance, waiting for a particular person to come, and then, when they do come, to be able to distinguish them from the others who come the same way....Waiting for the future involves a recognition of what the world might be and the resolve to bring our own part of it one step closer....Waiting becomes active: waiting for the future involves transforming the present."
Active waiting, then is the proper outlook for Advent. We're actively waiting for the day of the Lord when we reach out to others and bring the light closer to shining throughout the world.

So on this second Sunday in Advent, think of the prophets who were actively waiting for the Savior of the World...for the light to chase away the darkness. And actively wait for the day of the Lord.

All exerpts taken from the book by Paula Gooder, The Meaning Is In The Waiting

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Psalm 37:23-24

 The LORD makes firm the steps 
   of the one who delights in him; 
 though he may stumble, he will not fall, 
   for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

Psalm 37: 23-24

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Meaning Is In The Waiting

Waiting is increasingly a strange notion. After all, we have microwaves for fast instant food. We have cell phones for instant access. We have digital books for instant download. We have google for instant answers. We are increasingly impatient when something is not forthcoming as quickly as we think it should be.

Then we have Christmas.
It starts in August and is celebrated sometimes until January.
What happened to looking forward to Christmas?
What happened to saving the dessert for after dinner?

Why is Christmas in full swing as soon as the Halloween candy is on sale?

Advent is a time of waiting.
Advent is a time of anticipating.
Advent is a time of looking forward to the coming of Christ.
To quote the book, The Meaning Is In The Waiting,
 "Advent lies in waiting. Waiting rests not in frustration but in stillness. Not frenzied anticipation but in embracing the present. We need to relearn how to wait, to rediscover the act of savoring the future of staying in the present and of finding meaning in the act of waiting."

The first Advent candle was lit today. The first candle represents Abraham and Sarah, our ancestors in the faith, the patriarch of our Savior. And it represents expectation. The expectation that God will follow through with His promises. The expectation that our waiting is not in vain.

Abram was called to wait. He packed up his household, turned down his birthright, (unheard of!) and was sent on a journey to a new land...but he had to wait to find out where it was.
He was promised a great nation, but had no children until his old age. He was called to wait for the child who would fulfill that promise. Even then, he did not live to see the nation that came from his waiting.

Abram's call was to wait, but it was also to change. We know he had had big change in his life already: His father had moved the family once, establishing himself in a new town with new acquaintances and associates. But here he was, asked to make changes again. Leave his father's house, his relatives, his inheritance, to go to an uncertain place.

One thing I learned while in Israel was that Hebrews have a way of thinking that is completely different. They're always changing. They're always doing things differently. The lady I was traveling with has been in Israel many many years. She was even recently there just a couple months before I visited. Yet she remarked constantly on how things had changed even from when she was there a couple months before. Israelis have no problem changing the way they do things.

It strikes me that maybe they get this from their patriarch.

Quote: "The voice that spoke to Abram still speaks to us: "Go, from the things that bind you, from the sense of your own identity, from your day-to-day way of being to something that I shall show you." God calls, and waits for our response....
God's call to us remains a call to change; to leaving and accompanying, to moving and changing, to growing and flourishing. It is part of human nature to yearn for stability, to put down roots, and to stay put; but it is also a rule of nature that things that do not move do not live. Water that does not move becomes stagnant, and in the same way when we do not move we become sluggish and hard to change. God's call does not necessarily ask us to move our physical surroundings, (although sometimes it does); most often it asks us to move our internal surroundings, to be prepared to be changed and transformed." 

We are asked to wait. We are asked to change. We change in the waiting. Waiting is an essential part of our journey with God.

Abraham was asked to change, was asked to wait. He moved forward, not knowing exactly where his journey was leading. He and Sarah were promised a family, a land, a nation. They thought they had waited in vain for the family to materialize. They became anxious and tried to fix up for themselves how it would all work out. But Ishmael was not the child God was planning to use to form this nation.
In the end, after all the pain of waiting, all the anxiety of the unknown, of not knowing exactly where they were headed  or how it would work out, they finally had their promise fulfilled. Isaac was born. He grew, and then God did an unexpected thing: He asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. Abraham prepares to do so, but what questions must have run through his mind. How could he now have another son to fill the spot of Isaac? How about the nation that would outnumber the stars? Yet in faith Abraham acted, and God provided a sacrifice instead of Isaac.

Abraham and Sarah became symbols for us not only of faith but also of waiting: of waiting as an essential part of our journey with God, of waiting being vital for the proper unfolding of God's plan, and of waiting being as important as that for which we wait. God summons us to go out but does not always tell us where to, or why...for that we must wait, but in the waiting we can, sometimes, discover a meaning.

The first candle is for Expectation. The first candle is for the Patriarchs of our faith. Who often had to wait.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Journey of Waiting: The Meaning Is In The Waiting


Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for God
To speak; the air a staircase
For silence; the sun's light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great role. And the audiences
Still; all that close throng
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.
Prompt me, God;
But not yet. When I speak,
Though it be you who speak
Through me, something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.

R. S. Thomas

A Journey of Waiting.
Join me every week in Advent as I read and study the book, The Meaning Is In The Waiting by Paula Gooder. 

A journey of waiting, a journey looking for the coming of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Picture of Love

This is one of my favorite pictures from my trip to Israel. The background is the Sea of Galilee. The stomping grounds of Jesus.
I took this photo at Capernum. There is a Greek Orthodox church there and there is a gate with this decorative iron cross looking out toward the sea.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for what this picture represents. It reminds me of Jesus. His home town was Capernum. He lived and preached all around the sea. Then He died for my sin on a cross. His essence. His life. His death. His love.

All in one picture.

A picture is worth a thousand words they say.

A picture of His Love.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sun and Moon

Psalm 148

 1 Praise the LORD.

   Praise the LORD from the heavens; 

   praise him in the heights above. 

2 Praise him, all his angels; 
   praise him, all his heavenly hosts. 
3 Praise him, sun and moon; 
   praise him, all you shining stars. 
4 Praise him, you highest heavens 
   and you waters above the skies.

 5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, 

   for at his command they were created, 

6 and he established them for ever and ever— 
   he issued a decree that will never pass away.

 This Sunset was taken at En Gev Kibbutz looking at the opposite side of the Kinneret towards Tiberias. 

This moon was taken in Migdal. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Eye Of A Needle...

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
   19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]
 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:18-25

One day as I was walking in Jerusalem I came across a little door. Then suddenly this story came to mind as I realized that I was looking at the eye of a needle. City gates and other entrances had these eyes as a way to let people through after the big gate or door is closed for the night and before it was opened in the morning.

Later in the day I happened to have the chance to ride a camel. Now the story really came to life. I recalled how small the door was as I stood next to the sitting camel.

Then I imagined the group around Jesus as he was talking to the ruler. He was traveling to Jerusalem. All the disciples were with him, as well as a large group of followers.  Jesus was telling parables and teaching. I always like to imagine the sights and sounds and smells around. Jesus had a habit of using what was at hand to illustrate his teaching. I imagine them near sundown sitting near the gate. This is the place men gathered to talk and meet. Women are coming to the well to get water. The crowd lingers to catch every word this man has to say. The Pharisees are arguing and debating. Children running and playing. Cooking smells are in the air. Just then a string of camels loaded with goods on the oriental trade route nears.  The ruler approaches and asks Jesus his question. As they talk, they're idly watching the camels near the gate. Suddenly Jesus uses them to illustrate his point! How much easier for the camel to go through the eye of the needle than the rich man to sell all he has to follow Jesus! The crowd would have immediately looked at the size of the loaded camels against the familiar eye of the needle of their own city gate. The contrast was so impossible, it cemented the idea of how hard it is to enter the kingdom into their minds.

I know when I saw the door, and then the camel it cemented the story in my mind. And oh how I don't want to be like the rich ruler who couldn't let go of his riches to follow Jesus!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Playing Catch-Up: Jerusalem

Jerusalem. I never thought I'd actually make it to Jerusalem. Every year for the last 14-15 years we've celebrated Passover as a family or as a church. And every year at the end of the Passover, we lift our glass and say together: "Next Year in New Jerusalem!"

I never thought I'd actually visit Old Jerusalem. The Jerusalem where Jesus walked. The Jerusalem the Romans took over. The Jerusalem that crucified Him. The Jerusalem that missed the Messiah. The Jerusalem that saw the miracle of Jesus dying for our sin. The Jerusalem that saw the miracle of Jesus vanquishing darkness and rising from the dead!

In the words of a dear friend of mine: "I WAS THERE!"

Yes, and I felt Him there.

You know, I just spent a month in Israel. A place known as the Holy Land. A place for pilgrims to visit. A place thousands and millions visit journey to in hopes of meeting a void in their hearts. A place where they look eagerly for a physical sign of Jesus, for a moving Spiritual event. They hope to meet Him there. But I discovered something. I don't have to visit Israel to feel Jesus. Or find Him. Or see Him.

I feel Jesus at home in everyday life.
I find Jesus at home in everyday life.
I see Jesus at home in everyday life.

I feel Jesus when He touches me and heals an imperfection.
I find Jesus when I meet someone who shows His Love.
I see Jesus when I look around me at the many blessings He gives me.

This is not to say it is vain to look for Jesus in Israel. But if you never make it to Israel, you can still feel Him, find Him, see Him.


In Jerusalem, I visited the Wailing Wall which is now known as the Western Wall. It is a small portion of a wall that surrounded the Second Temple, the Temple Herod built over the temple that Solomon built. It was destroyed by the Romans. Then others came in and gained control. The Turks filled in the Eastern (Golden Gate) because they heard that the Messiah was supposed to enter through that gate. Later as everyone knows, the Muslims gained control of the Temple mount and built a Mosque. So now the Jews only have access to the outer wall.

The Golden Gate

I visited the wall several times. Once, during the afternoon. Once early early on Shabbat morning. Once at midday. Each time I was there I noticed how quiet it was, and how reverent people were. When entering the area, you should have your head covered and arms covered. You approach the wall and spend time praying, or reading a scripture. As you leave, you back away for about 50 feet. Some people write prayers to leave in the wall. It is quiet except for the murmur of prayers. Prayers in all languages, prayers of fervor, prayers deep in the heart.

One of the golden moments I will always remember from this trip occurred when I visited early on Shabbat morning. There were only a few Orthodox Jews present. Real people who really live and worship. I and my companion were the only "tourists" and we were there reverently and for a purpose, just as the Orthodox were.
The sun was just beginning to send rays over the mountain. There were few out, so it was quiet. People were intent on praying. Suddenly, from the men's section (which is fenced off separately from the women) came a loud prayer and song in Hebrew. The voice was full of feeling. He was singing and praying for Messiah to come. For Messiah to save.
When the voice died away, the women at the wall praying with me were in tears. They wanted Messiah too.

I loved Jerusalem. The streets were busy, brisk with people buying and selling. So many smells and sounds and languages, and sights. I could imagine how it might have been when Jesus was walking those streets. We visited an archeological park where they've excavated down to the 1st century streets around the base of the temple. Surely, surely Jesus walked those stones.

Another Jerusalem memory was the 12 stations of the cross tour I took with the archeology team from Mexico. The leader was speaking Spanish, but if I could see her and hear her well when she spoke, I could catch the idea of what she was saying. And the team was very gracious to translate everything for me as well.
I walked the steps that Jesus walked the night he was betrayed. I visited the prison he might have been held in, I experienced the pain of the muscles in climbing the hills and walking the distance between the Mt. of Olives and Pontius Pilate's house. I think the most meaningful moment was standing in the prison, where historians think they threw Jesus and hearing the 88th Psalm read...
... I am overwhelmed with troubles 
   and my life draws near to death. 
 I am counted among those who go down to the pit; 
   I am like one without strength. 
 I am set apart with the dead, 
   like the slain who lie in the grave, 
whom you remember no more, 
   who are cut off from your care....

Another moment on the tour was in the Holy Sepulcher. There hidden away are two tombs carved from rock. It was there that Jesus was laid. There that Jesus was risen!

The womens section of the wall.

Prayers in many languages.

Prayers stuck in every crevice.
The wall must be bathed in prayer.

Another view of where the Temple stood.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Home Really Is Best

It's a little weird to sign into English. While I was in Israel, everything appeared in Hebrew. And from Right to Left. But I'm back in the States and now everything is back to English.

My flights arrived home safely. I had a bit of excitement in Tel Aviv as the security decided my pink suitcase was suspect and emptied it unceremoniously and took it off to some undisclosed place only to return it after about an hour to let me re-pack. Meanwhile they scanned all of my belongings (some several times) to be absolutely sure of...something. Since they only spoke to each other in Hebrew, I have no idea what made them suspicious. They questioned me a little.

Why are you here? (I don't know.)
Do you understand any languages besides English? (Does Pig Latin count?)
Did you learn Hebrew in school? (I can read it backwards and forwards! Ha!)
Is your suitcase used? (It's full of dirty clothes right now. Of course I used it!)

After all that for about an hour or more and being quickly expedited through security, I finally made it to the gate and on the plane. In Atlanta the drug dog sniffed me. Apparently there was something he liked because he jumped up on me and the guard had thoughts of keeping me. I turned my $4,000 smile on him, and he let me leave without any trouble....but I think the dog also liked my pink suitcase.

I think the pink suitcase will stay at home next time.

It's good to be home.

Now it's time to catch up all my journaling, blogging, and photo organizing as I sort out everything I learned and experienced on the trip. More blog posts coming as I debrief!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lift Off

I'm sitting in Tel Aviv airport waiting for lift off. The last few days I've had no internet, so when I get home I'll upload all the photos from the Jerusalem weekend. Just to give you a brief view of my feelings on the subject:

It. Was. Awesome.

So many many places to see and experience where my Jesus walked. And died. And was buried. And ROSE FROM THE DEAD.

But more on that later.

Gotta catch a flight! I think it will be much faster than this:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's Official This Time!

Today was the day that I finally found what I've been looking for since Oct. 5th. I found a coin! A complete coin. A wonderful coin.
I've been moved to a new square. N 990 E 902 for the curious. I was hacking a way cleaning around rocks so they can figure out if it's a floor or a wall. Cleaning around rocks is good, but a little boring because you can't go deep, just use a little trowel thing and brushes to make the rocks stand out against the rest of the dirt. Nothing glamorous there. I was really really really hoping to find a coin here. Please, just one coin! So there I was, thinking about how much I wanted a coin. They'd found 2 in the square next to mine, so the hope was pretty strong. And then, I struck pay dirt! I saw green and after a careful brush with the little paintbrush, there she lay. "Una moneda! Una moneda!" Everyone laughed and clapped. There's usually a little stir or celebration over each find, so it's fun! We had to measure with the surveying equipment, and then measure where it was within the square. Then I could pick it up. It has a hole in it, which they think means it's the end of a mint. They punch a hole in it to take it out of circulation. It's very small, so it's probably a Jewish coin. We registered it and they took photos for me and then it's back to digging. So fun!

Tiny little thing, isn't it?

This photo has a little perspective to it.

The head archeologist, Marsala takes a look.

This is how the place is looking now. So much has changed just while I've been here!

And another view. You can kinda see the floor just to the left of the checkered shirt guy.

Una moneda! Whoop!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Find!

Today was rather full. This morning we went to the site and it felt so empty and quiet because all the Germans have left. I marked pottery this morning for a while. About mid morning before 2nd breakfast Rosaura and Fernanda and I were talking, and Fer was not feeling well. We decided she needed water, so she and Ros went to get some...and Fer fainted. We had to call the ambulance because she hit her head when she fell and hurt it somehow. So I cleaned up the pottery and went to dig for a while.

While digging I found some fragments of a coin! Since it was fragments, I kept it and didn't report it. I know it's a coin because it is blueish green from the metal oxidizing.

This afternoon we came in and because it had been 100.4 degrees F today we were tired and all took a nice long nap. Then we cleaned our room a little and took a walk. We stopped and got some fresh squeezed pomegranate nice.

No pictures today because blogger is doing some kind of update and won't upload. Maybe tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pen and Ink

Just a few photos from today. Rosaura and Fernanda and I marked pottery today because my square was getting photographed. Here are a few photos from that:

There are piles and piles and piles of pottery to mark. Before December!
And then they have to draw the pieces they marked. Amazing.

This was the big excitement today: A floor was discovered! The flooring style is definitely 1st century. Not sure what it is yet, but they'll be finding out soon!

Anton (I was telling you about him Mom) "May the guardian angels and good winds be with you!" is his greeting. :)

My square in it's present state. Maybe tomorrow I can dig deeper! And find a treasure!

This afternoon Lorna and I went to Capernaum and saw what they call Peter's house. I'm not positive that it is. This is actually a church they built on top of Peter's house in the 4th century. The foundations are from 1st century.

Mosaic from the church.

Capernaum where Jesus lived and walked, breathed and ate, healed and talked.

A HUGE synagogue. It's not the 1st century one, but the foundations are from the 1st century. So it's on top of the one that Jesus taught at.

This pillar is heart shaped because synagogues always use heart shape pillars for strength. It also indicates that there was a second floor to this synagogue!

After Capernaum, we went back to Tabgtha and sat in the cave. I read my Bible and gazed at the Sea as the sun began to go down. So lovely.

Lorna and I before we head back to the city.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ye Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me

Matthew 16:13-19 (NIV)

Peter's Confession of Christ
 13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"  14They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
 15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
 16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
 17Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

This weekend we visited Mt. Hermon, Tel Dan, and the area of Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea Philippi is where Jesus was speaking these words, and Mt. Hermon is thought to be where he was transfigured.

The interesting thing about the area is that there was a big temple area there that dates back to the Caananite time when the Israelites in Dan decided they were too far to worship in Jerusalem and set up their own places to worship. There were also other cult worshiping going on. This particular place was set up to worship the god Pan which has been changed to Banias with the change of language. Pan was worshiped by sacrificing animals, particularly goats. I believe there were also children sacrificed here as well. Anyway, the temple was built against a big mountain at the base of which there was a deep pool of water that was believed to be bottomless. They threw their sacrifices in there, and if there was no sign of blood, the sacrifice had been accepted. If there was, it had been rejected. Over the years as different civilizations took over, the Greeks and Romans also had temples there to different gods. The thing is, the pool is known as Hades. Makes it all the more meaningful that Jesus said while in the area that the Gates of Hades would not prevail. There was so much idol worship going on and worshiping false gods. There was darkness and death and fear because of the pool known as Hades.
 Hades. It's since been filled with rocks.

Mt. Hermon is also the tallest mountain in Israel. They have snow in winter, and it was definitely cooler up there when we climbed the mountain.

Approach to hades.

 Greek inscription on an old column.

 A Greek god stood where I am standing here. 

The workmanship of the architecture was beautiful.