Saturday, April 30, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 14

Chapter 14 - Monday continued...

We arrived at En Gev on the east side of the Sea of Galilee in the early evening. Our accommodations for the next two nights were cottages right on the shore line of the lake. Called “Kibbutz”, these cottages are actually run by a commune. This group of people combine their skills and wealth and families and live together in an agricultural setting. Even though we were separated in groups of 2-4 in the cottages, we all came together in the communal dining room to eat. The whole setting was very clean and well organized.

Staying on the shore of Galilee I was next to heaven. I had been waiting for this shore for a long time. There was something here I needed to experience, to learn. I wanted to better understand why God had brought me to the shore in my mind during times of deep meditation. Having stood on this shore so many times mentally, to be on it physically was a very moving experience for me. I was the last person to leave the beach and go in at night, and the first one out in the morning. At 5:30 a.m. I would get up and be out by the water to watch the sun rise (what magnificent sun rises and sun sets they were!) I wanted to capture every possible moment I could on this shore line.

That first night, in the blackness of the night, I looked across the sea to the city of Tiberias on the hillside. The lights of the city seemed at first like a million tiny flickering candles. Then as I gazed at them, it seemed that they started sparkling like jewels. The lay of the city on the hillside made it seem like the bottom of a staircase just beginning to ascend into heaven. I thought, “If the entry is this awesome, this beautiful, what must heaven itself be like! It must be far too brilliant for human eyes!”

I saw a single light way down the shore on the other side of the lake, and I imagined Jesus down there frying fish over an open fire, just waiting for me to join Him. As I looked out across the waters it seemed that I could see the flowing white robe of my Jesus walking on the water, as though His feet did not touch. He was walking toward me. I sensed His presence all around me.

As I watched the waves roll softly into the shore, I realized that everything I had gone through in my depression was worth this moment. I cannot believe that I might have ended my life and never have had the opportunity to stand on the shore of Galilee in the presence of Jesus. Somehow I felt that no matter what comes my way in the future, I know that with Jesus I can make it through. He holds my hand and will never let me drown. We will walk on top of the troubled waters together.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 13

Chapter 13 - Monday, 3/27/89

Today we loaded into the bus for a three day journey through the area of Galilee in the northern part of Israel. We drove through Tel Aviv, which to the world is the capital of Israel. The population there is 500,000. To the Jews, Jerusalem (population 450,000) is the capital.

From Tel Aviv we drove to Caesarea, a port Herod built on the Mediterranean Sea in honor of Caesar Augustus. It was styled after the Greek city of Athens, only larger. Herod did everything in a big way. For those of us who like to golf, it is in the Harbour of Caesarea where the only golf course in Israel is located.  We had a picnic lunch on the white sandy beach of the Mediterranean. It’s a beautiful blue-green sea.

We stopped in Megiddo and viewed the lush Jezreel valley, so fertile and green and peaceful looking. So many battles have been fought here, but there remains the big slaughterhouse of them all---the battle of Armageddon. It’s very disturbing to think that the beautiful, serene valley will be war torn and bloodied. However, we can rejoice because we know that our side wins!! Jesus will be victorious and will set up His kingdom to reign forever!!
“All hail King Jesus! All hail Emmanuel!
King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Bright Morning Star.
And throughout eternity I’ll sing His praises,
And I’ll reign with Him throughout eternity!”

Nazareth, the place where Mary the mother of Jesus was from, is a city of 50,000 people today. In the time of Mary it was a village the size of a football field with only about 200 people living there. It was a nowhere, no place, little insignificant village. It had the reputation of “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” But where does God go when He chooses to use someone or to reveal Himself? Once again He chose the humble, the seemingly insignificant. In Nazareth God found Mary, who lived in a cave-like house over which a church is now built to preserve her home, the Church of the Annunciation.

When I saw those monstrosities built over the places of significance in the life of Jesus, I couldn’t help but feel Jesus would have been much happier if men would just give Him their hearts instead of building monuments to Him. The monuments will one day be destroyed, but the heart lives on forever. Today He still desires our hearts. It isn’t so much our action as it is our attitudes. Are we humble, are we submissive, do we have a servant heart? Can His love flow through us so that HE might be seen and not we ourselves?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 12

Chapter 12 - Easter Sunday, 3/26/89

Words cannot begin to express the overwhelming feelings of being at the Garden Tomb for an Easter sunrise service. It was as though the women had just run and told me that the tomb was empty and Jesus is Alive! I had to go see for myself.

As over 1,000 of us from around the world walked down the path to the garden, we began to lift our voice in song to Him: “He is Lord, He is Lord, He has risen from the dead and He is Lord!” The birds were chirping, the sun was shining brightly, the garden was in full bloom, a choral group was singing beautiful songs of praise. We worshipped together for an hour, and my tears flowed freely the whole time. My Savior lives! “Thank You, Jesus, Thank You, Jesus, Thank You, Lord, for loving me!”

At the close of the worship service we took our turns going into the empty tomb. There was an iron grate guarding the actual place where Jesus’ body had laid, but I could stand within two feet of it, and I could see where the rock had been prepared for the head of the body, an indentation. I just stood there in awe that my Lord had actually laid there for three days, and then came out of there in triumph...over His death and mine! Praise Him!! I was so excited when I got back to our room that afternoon, I called Paul, who was still asleep for it was the middle of the night in Tennessee. All I could say to him was, “I’ve been to the tomb, and IT IS EMPTY!!!!!”

After we left the Garden Tomb we went to the Mount of Olives Church of God, where they had prepared an American style breakfast for us. What a delicious treat that was. We were getting a little tired of dry rolls, boiled eggs, olives, and cottage cheese---our breakfast every other morning except Easter. The 25 of us from Lee College had the privilege of being the “Lee Singers” choir that morning as we worshipped with that church congregation after breakfast.

We spent the afternoon in the Old City of Jerusalem, which is a cultural experience. There were narrow little alleys lined with stores on both sides, little narrow shops. We learned very quickly that the shop owners like to bargain, so shopping was almost like playing a game of Monopoly, bargaining over a piece of property. Sometimes the alleys became so crowded, we were just moved along with the crowd, with little control over where we went. There were a few scuffles between patrolling guards and people selling their wares, perhaps illegally.

We spent some time in modern Jerusalem also. It has streets and sidewalk cafes, but the shop owners still liked to bargain. We had a lot of fun with the bargaining process. American dollars are very welcome there.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 11

Chapter 11 - Saturday, 3/25/89

On our way down to the Masada and the Dead Sea today we stopped in the wilderness of Judea where we could see the Monastery of Saint George. There are currently eight monks who live there in solitude. It is a desolate area, no grass or greenery whatsoever. This could possibly be the desert where Jesus was led and tempted by satan for forty days. The area is so typical of the Valley of the Shadow of Death that the Psalmist wrote about. I sat and meditated, and it seemed I could see Jesus walking alone here, staggering from hunger and thirst...yet He did not give in to “pleasure for a season”, a quick fix offered by satan. He waited for God’s best....and God sent ANGELS to minister to Jesus. Would I rather have satan’s momentary enticements...or angels from God? I believe I’ll wait for God’s best.

As we continued on our way to the Masada we stopped in Jericho, an oasis in the desert with many palm trees, flowering bushes, and citrus trees. This city, which reminded me of Florida, is the new Jericho. The Biblical Jericho that Joshua defeated could not be rebuilt, according to the oath which Joshua had pronounced (Joshua 6:26). It is a Tel (hill) outside the current Jericho. Through the centuries it has been protected from being rebuilt, showing God means what He commands, and He had commanded that the city be destroyed.

The Masada is a fifty acre fortress built on a mountaintop plateau 1,300 feet above the Dead Sea. We took cable cars to reach the top. Most of us elected to walk the snake path back down, a fairly steep, rocky descent that winded back and forth. It took thirty minutes to reach the bottom. The next time I would opt for the cable car back down. My legs were trembling uncontrollably by the time I was half way down, and I found it would be easy to lose my equilibrium. You dare not misstep, or it was a straight flight to the bottom!

It was time for a break, so we stopped at En Gedi, a public beach on the Dead Sea. This is the lowest spot in the world, lying 1,300 feet below sea level. The Dead Sea is one-third salt, and those that went in said it was impossible to try to stand up, it just flipped you over. From there we went to Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves. In the 1940’s some shepherds were looking for their sheep in the caves and found seven original scrolls containing the scriptures of Isaiah, Deuteronomy, and Habakkuk.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 10

Chapter 10 - Friday, 3/24/89

On this Good Friday we went to the Garden of Gethsemane for a time of worship. After that we visited the Holocaust Memorial, reminding me of the persecution of the Jews. Would things have been different had they not have persecuted Jesus? It is gruesome what evil men are capable of. I could not stay in this museum very long without becoming nauseated at what had happened.

We then went to the Model of Jerusalem, a small scale of the city as it was in the time of Herod. Friday sundown until Saturday sundown is the Jewish Sabbath. The stores, businesses, schools, and public transportation all shut down as the Sabbath is the most sacred day of all the Jewish days.

Several of us attended a Jewish Synagogue service on Friday evening. Men must wear hats, and most wore the little round flat caps. Men and women enter through separate doors. The men go into the main “sanctuary”, while the women sit along the sides behind partial walls and iron grill work through which they can view the service. It was a service with a lot of ritual, yet a very loose atmosphere. As it was in Hebrew, we did not understand anything being said, prayed, or sung.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 9

Chapter 9 - Thursday, 3/23/89

This morning started out with a time of conversational prayer in Shepherd’s Field, outside of Bethlehem. This is the area where the lowly shepherds watched their flocks. How touching that God chose to reveal the birth of His Son through angels to the humblest class of society. Today the Church of the Nativity is built over the place where Jesus was born. Not too far from there is the Herodian, a huge mountain that King Herod had constructed with palace like living at the top. It was to be his tombstone, for he wanted a shrine built for everyone all around to see and remember him.

King Herod had wealth beyond imagination....Jesus was born in poverty. Herod ordered men to serve him....Jesus came to serve men. Herod was cruel, killed maliciously, was hated by everyone, and people rejoiced when he died. His season of reign was finally over. Jesus came in love, came to die for us, and now He lives forever and will one day reign as King throughout eternity. He who is last shall be first...he who is least shall be greatest. I can truly worship such a God as that!

We journeyed to Bethany, a two mile distance from Jerusalem, located at the foot of the Mount of Olives. We went there to walk the walk that Jesus took on Palm Sunday. First we stopped at the tomb of Lazarus, where Jesus had wept over the death of His friend...or did He weep over the lack of faith and understanding of those He had spent so much time with? Does it break His heart today when we show that same lack of faith in Him?

We continued our walk up the hill to Bethpage where Jesus cursed the barren fig tree that represented the Saducees. Outwardly they were spiritual, but they bore no fruit. This disciples were not to worry about them, for the Saducees would perish even as the fig tree did. It was at Bethpage that Jesus mounted a donkey to ride into Jerusalem in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah (9:9)...”Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

It was also on the Mount of Olives that Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. I believe He looked down through the ages and saw all that God’s chosen people, the Jews, and holy city of Jerusalem would go through. It was knowing they could have chosen Him and avoided their destruction that broke His heart. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” In their rejection of Him they marched on toward the Holocaust.

The Mount of Olives represented other events in the life of Jesus also. It was here that He gave His Olivet discourse. Here on this Mount he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, surrendering Himself to His Father’s will. And it was on the Mount of Olives that He ascended into heaven. Jesus had spent much time in this area, and as we sat in the church at the Garden of Gethsemane and sang “Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine”, tears flooded my eyes. I thought of Jesus on that day of His trial, with the crowd jeering at Him, and all of the humiliation He went through. In quiet submission He faced His death to give me blessed assurance.

Thursday night we were served a Passover Supper in a very natural setting with low tables and oil lamps as our source of light. We were served unleavened bread, wine (grape juice), stew (beef in place of lamb), and bitter herbs (onions, radishes, peppers, garlic). This meal was symbolic of the last of the plagues in Egypt when the death angel passed over those homes with blood on their door posts. They were saved from the sorrow of their first born being killed, and were then let go from Egypt...freed from bondage. In like manner we are freed from bondage to sin by the blood of the Lamb. Thank you, Jesus.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 8

Chapter 8 - Wednesday, 3/22/89

Today we headed south to the area of the patriarchs. We stopped at Elah Brook and selected smooth round stones, just as David did from the same brook as he prepared to meet Goliath. We stopped at the ruins of Beersheva where Abraham made an oath at the well. I thought about Abraham and how God called him to leave his country behind and head to a place known only to God. Abraham moved forward in faith, fully trusting God, and wanting God’s best in his life.

I can identify with that same call in my life. I have had to leave behind the security of my heritage and proceed forward in faith to wherever God is leading me. In a sense I have left my “family” (denomination) behind, believing God wants my total dependence to be placed in Him alone. (1999 note - this was during the period in which God took us on a five year journey away from the Church of the Nazarene. It was one of the most profitable journeys I have ever been on!)

Abraham was faced with two options as he followed God. He could isolate, be set apart as God called him to be, or he could assimilate, mix in with depraved humanity and ways not of God. He assimilated in Egypt, willing to give his wife to Pharaoh instead of trusting God for protection. He assimilated with Hagar, instead of waiting for God to give him descendants through his wife Sarah.

Isolate or assimilate...we face those same decisions in our choices today. Do we trust God enough to wait on His timing? Do we have faith enough to believe that He is in control and will see us through every circumstance of our life? I know I must learn to be patient and not try to bring about results in my own way. I must wait upon the Lord.

We went into the wilderness of Zin where the Hebrew children wandered for forty years. We were there only two hours, hiking through the dry canyon, and it was easy to understand why they wanted to go back to Egypt. Had they not disobeyed God, they could have gone on into the promised land. In that same way disobedience in our lives lead us into dry periods in the Christian walk. I want to walk through every door God opens for me, and walk away from those He closes. I trust His wisdom much more than my own.

Down in the Negev area we saw the ancient ruins of Arad, dating to 2600 BC. The only temple left in Israel is still partially visible here. It was interesting to see how the rooms were separated, knowing the Holy of Holies was such a sacred part of the temple. How precious of our Lord to make it possible for each one of us today to enter that “holy of holies”, into the presence of our Father in the sanctuary of our hearts. He is always there waiting for us to give Him praise and pour our hearts out to Him. How I love Him!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 7

Chapter 7 - Tuesday, 3/21/89

Tuesday morning I awoke to sunshine and the beckoning hills of Jerusalem. All I could say was, “Thank you, Jesus, Thank you, Jesus!!!” This was our first full day in Israel. We started out by viewing how Jerusalem is situated on a hill with valleys surrounding the city, and then more hills. This makes Jerusalem like a bowl with mountains surrounding her for protection.  In the same way God protects His children, as though we are cupped in His hands.

Israel is a country that is 185 miles in length and 90 miles wide, smaller than our American states.  It is the doorway connecting three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe. Because of its strategic trade routes everyone wants to control Israel for their own economic reasons. That helped me understand why it has always been such a hot spot, a troubled and war-torn country.

The conflict between the Arabs and the Jews is better understood by knowing how each group believes. The Jews believe that God gave Israel to them in His covenant with Abraham. The Arabs, or Moslems, have a law that once something belongs to Islam it is theirs eternally. The tension between these two groups of people is very obvious. Hatred prevails. In fact, while there I met an American school teacher who is teaching elementary education in Israel, and she told me that the Arab children are being taught hatred as part of their religion. To throw rocks at the Jews is to earn brownie points. Raising children with that philosophy is not an indication of future peace, only war and strife.

We viewed the old City of David, which lies outside the current walls of Old City Jerusalem. Houses today are still built on top of each other on the sides of the hills. The roof of one house is a sidewalk or step up to the next level of houses. With King David living at the top, it was easy for him to look down on the roofs of the houses below him and see Bathsheba taking a bath. The question is, what was she doing taking a bath out on the “sidewalk” except hanging out a sign, “Available”.

King David was raised as a humble shepherd boy. Shepherds are considered the lowest class of society. However, God saw in David a man after His own heart. King Saul, full of pride, took large places and was brought down. David took a small place and God made it the great city of Jerusalem. This lesson of God using the humble continued to repeat itself over and over again to me in various settings during our stay in Israel. As God looks on our hearts, may He find them humble, available for His use.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 6

Chapter Six

The class of 25 students taking the Study Tour in Israel left the Conn Center in Cleveland, Tennessee, on Sunday, April 19th, 1989, bound for Israel. The bus taking us to the Knoxville airport broke down before we got 30 miles from home. Plan “B” went into effect, and several vehicles arrived to take us on the 90 mile trip to the airport. 

We flew from Knoxville to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, switched planes, and flew into New York JFK airport. There we boarded KLM Airlines and had about a six hour flight to Amsterdam. I might add that KLM Airlines is the Cadillac of airlines. They know how to take care of their passengers, down to giving each of us a warm washcloth at the end of our flight to freshen our faces with. It was a very pleasant flight. 

I determined that I would sit by someone different each leg of our journey so I could get to know my class mates better. We were going to be together day and night for almost two weeks, and I don’t like to mingle in a room full of strangers, so it was time to make them my friends.

We had a three hour layover in Amsterdam, so we hopped on a train and went downtown Amsterdam. We walked around, trying not to get run over by bicycles, their main means of transportation. We saw the house of Anne Frank, but it was too early in the morning for it be open. We stopped in a coffee shop to have a snack and warm up a bit before heading back to the airport.

When we got back to the airport we discovered that there was an intense baggage search, and body search, before we could load the aircraft flying us on into Tel Aviv, Israel. This took well over two hours, but we realized it was for our own safety. It was another four hour flight into Tel Aviv. When we landed we were met by a bus which took us to Jerusalem to our place of temporary residence.

The Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies was to be our home for the next twelve days. The whole trip took us 29 hours to reach our destination. I had not slept any of those hours, so Monday night, our first night there, I was ready for bed! My two roommates, Nelda and Kim, were to become good friends over the next few days. Nelda is the wife of Bill George, another one of my professors in the Bible department at Lee College. Kim is a single girl, in her senior year, and soon to be married. (After we got back from the trip, she asked me to be her substitute Mom and help her shop for a wedding dress. That was a neat gift from God, since I did not have a daughter. I knew He would supply a girl in my life to go shopping with some time, and here it was!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 5

Chapter Five

In February (1989) I found that the campus pastor, Robert Sheppard, was the one who had canceled and made the spot available for me. It had been his life-long desire to go to Israel, but it was not going to work out financially for him to be able to go. When I discovered this, I went to prayer. I asked God to please make it possible for him to go on this study somehow surprise him. I did not feel it was right for me to go, and him not be able to. That would have left me feeling quite guilty.

My friend Brenda began to feel that the trip was going to be too much of a burden on her family since they had just bought a house. She wanted to back out if there was someone to take her place. Then I learned that there was going to be a collection on campus to raise the money to pay Pastor Sheppard’s expenses and send him on his dream trip to Israel. Enough was collected to not only pay his trip, but there was an additional $400 for him to use as spending money. The best part of it all was that it was a total surprise to him!!! They surprised him in chapel when the presented the money to him as a gift. God had answered my specific prayer to give him the trip as a surprise, literally! Wow!! What a God!!!!

Pastor Sheppard gave a sermon on God’s Best. He told how he had wanted to go on this trip. His family planned to pool their money together to pay his way, but there just was not going to be enough funds. His wife Gail, knowing how badly he wanted to go, suggested he borrow the money. He did not feel that would be right. He made the decision to wait for God’s timing for his trip to Israel. 

God had it planned all along to give him this trip. If Pastor Sheppard had borrowed money, he would have missed God’s best. The lesson is to wait for God’s timing. I want His best in my life. Sometimes I get too eager, too impatient, and I try to do things in my own way. It never works out the way it should. I have been learning to “wait upon the Lord.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 4

Chapter Four

The final week of the fall semester Mr. Boone informed me that there had been a cancellation and that I was officially in the study tour group. I knew instantly that God had created that opening for me. He truly had called me, and I was going. I was so humbled, for who was I that God should choose me. It was as though I heard Him say to me, “I told you so!”

By the time the money was due for the trip, somehow the funds were available. I do not understand how, for we did not borrow, and nothing unexpected came in. Not only did I have the money for the trip, but I was able to sign up for three additional classes for the spring semester at Lee College. This was verification to me that God did want me to continue to prepare myself intellectually for His service. I have learned that God is an amazing accountant, and whatever He calls us to, He equips us for and provides the means.

Several friends and relatives were hesitant about me going to Israel because of the strife and tension in that country. However, I never had one ounce of fear in me over the trip. God gives peace when you walk in His will. He gave me complete serenity about this trip.

I began to feel Jesus more real in my life. When I would think about places that we might visit, I would sense emotions that perhaps He felt...the tears He shed at the tomb of Lazarus, and on the Mount of Olives as He wept over Jerusalem, and in the Garden of Gethsemane as He surrendered Himself completely to His Father’s will. I became all the more conscious of God’s call upon my life, and I wanted to be submissive to my Father’s will also. I wanted to live a holier life, become more disciplined, walk a deeper walk, and have the mind of Christ.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 3

Chapter Three

There were two reasons I felt called to Israel. I had answered God’s call on my life to get prepared for His full-time service. I do not know what I am preparing for, but I walk on in faith, one step at a time. I felt that Israel was to be a foundation for my ministry, whatever it is.

The second purpose for me going was simply to be with Jesus in a very intimate way. I went through a lot of agony in my depression. I felt everyone else was having all of the fun while I was trying to survive in life and find hope again through Jesus. It was as though He was giving me this trip as a gift, a reward for that faithfulness in the desert of brokenness. My God is a God so very unpredictable, but always faithful and full of adventure and surprises, “in His time”.

The excitement of Israel began to grow in me, even though I was only on the waiting list. I thought about it being such a small country, but THE most historical one on earth. I recalled the verse in Matthew 2:6, “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” 

One man, born in a small country on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, changed the course of history as He stepped on this earth He had helped His Father create. Creation, Destruction, Resurrection.....what a difference Jesus has made in MY life!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 2

Chapter Two

I went to the Conn Center one night for a concert, and being early, I sat in my car listening to a Gaither tape. They were singing “Peace Be Still”. I closed my eyes and transported myself to that peaceful shore in my mind where I often went to be alone in the presence of Jesus.

I was standing on the white sandy beach watching the soft waves rolling into the shore, when Jesus came along and took my hand. We started walking along the shore. He waved His other hand toward the sea and said, “Carol, this is the Sea of Galilee. I walked on these waters. This is the sea where I calmed the storm. Carol, I love you, and I am going to calm the storms in your life also. I will always be with you.

We stopped walking, and as I stood there with my head bowed in adoration, He faded away. Then the tape started playing “Gentle Shepherd”. I looked up and realized that I now stood on a Judean hillside. I saw Jesus standing under a tree with a lamb in His arm, stroking its wool. All around Him were sheep, and I was in the midst of them. He looked at me as if to say, “Carol, I’m watching over you....I care for you.” I was so touched that Jesus would come in such an intimate way. I realized then He truly does meet ALL of our needs...even our need for intimacy.

Those visions were a reinforcement to me that God was calling me to Israel. Soon after that my friend Brenda felt that she too was being called to go on the trip. With only two slots left available, she felt we should sign up. Well, that meant one of my fleeces was answered...I had a female friend to go with on the study tour. However, the money had not come in. That left me somewhat confused, but my husband Paul felt we would be able to manage the funds somehow.

By the time I went to sign up for the trip, it was full. I was the first one on the waiting list. There was no disappointment. I did not want to go on this trip if God had not called me. I knew there was unrest in Israel, and perhaps I did not need to be there in the middle of trouble. Besides, the fleece of money had not come in. If God wanted me on the trip, He could still open the doors.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Journey to Israel - Chapter 1

A note of introduction...when I first started blogging in 2008, I used many of my writings as blog segments.  "My Journey to Israel" was good for several blogs.  One day I was criticized about my blog, and I just deleted it all.  When I got over that, I started another blog, and here I am today.  I decided that for the Easter season I would once again post my Israel Journal.  I'm pretty sure my current readers were not reading my blog back then, so this should be "new" material.  Even if you have read it before, it's worth a second read.  In this coming week we will be reminded of the passion of Jesus in many ways.  May this blog just be one more method of you focusing on God's Goodness, and the Sacrificial Love of Jesus Christ.  I will be posting more frequently for a few days,I hope.  Enjoy...



Chapter One

It was my first semester at Lee College, Cleveland, Tennessee, in the fall of 1988. I was sitting in my Foundations for Ministry class, chatting with a friend before class began. I told her I wasn’t sure if I would have enough funds to come back for a second semester at Lee unless God somehow opened some doors for me.

Class began and Mr. Boone, a Bible professor, began talking to the class about a Bible class being offered in the spring semester that would be going on a two-week study tour in Israel. At first I did not give it much attention, but the more he talked I began to feel this mounting interest inside of me. It seemed a Voice was saying to me, “Carol, you are going on this trip. I want you to come and see My land. I want to show you where I walked while on this earth.”

I had never even been interested in going to Israel before, but when this Voice started humming inside of me, I came alive. Every fiber within me was alert and listening---to the Voice, and to Mr. Boone. I thought, “This is silly! I just told my friend that I could not hardly afford to come back next semester, and here I am thinking of going to Israel to the tune of $1,400. Lord, what are you doing?”

I heard Him answer, “You’re going, Carol. This trip is for you.” I was so excited about it that when I got to my next class I started telling my friend Brenda about the trip, hoping she would be interested also. Then I told the Lord that I needed to know for sure it was Him talking, and not just my own imagination. If it was truly Him calling me, would He please give me one female friend to go with, and would He please send the down payment money as an indication He would supply the rest. That sounded reasonable to me. I did not want to go on a trip with all preacher boys, especially if I had to borrow the money to do so. Time passed and nothing happened. Meanwhile the 25 slots available for the study tour were filling in.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Summer Day in the Middle of Spring

It is 82 degrees out today!!Two days ago I was still wearing a winter coat, and today - no coat.  I like this!  Except...where's the days in between winter and summer?  I'm sure they will be here.  In fact, it's going to be storming and in the sixties the next couple of days.  Winter seems to have been extra long this year, and we all anticipate spring to come and hang around at least a few days before we head into a hot summer.  

Well, another year has passed in my life.  Last year I took myself out for a whole day, and as the day wore on, I got grumpier.  By the time I got home, I wouldn't even speak to my husband.  I was so upset with myself that I could have such a selfish attitude at age 60.  Like by that age, I should have myself pulled together and able to handle anything that comes my way with grace, and have a smile for everyone, and not let things get to me.  

So this year I didn't anticipate the birthday, nor did I plan for it, and I truly didn't even want to acknowledge it.  However, cards started trickling in, a lunch offer came in (she cancelled), a supper offer was given me (I took it), an office party to celebrate three birthdays provided a birthday cake for me (and the others), my sons and granddaughters all called me.  My husband even gave me a gift of the day...whatever I wanted to get done that day, he would do it.  So we spent the day cleaning...the garage, the house, the storage cottage, the backyard (raked and trimmed), the gutters, the front porch.  He is normally busy with camp items, so to have his assistance for a whole day truly was a gift...a gift of his precious time.  Therefore I took him out for a pizza for supper, and gave him the last root beer for a root beer float.  Love is all about sacrifice...and we both displayed our love for each other on my birthday.  Maybe I am growing up after all!

We've gotten our golf carts out of storage.  I've been riding mine to work this past has a rain guard on it which also helps knock down the wind and coldness.  Yesterday, when it was only 70 degrees (smile), we drove around the camp grounds to check out what needs to be done before the camping season begins.  It's looking pretty good out there  We have already had some volunteers come in to trim trees and clean up branches.  It won't be long before the RV crowd starts showing up for the season and settling in.  Our resident snowbirds, who have houses on the grounds, are starting to trickle back also.  The campgrounds are coming to life once again.  And the bird chatter tells me we are going to have a lot of baby birds soon.  Wow...what beautiful courting songs are being sung!!

From my devotional reading this week:

"The Word For You Today"
1.  On denomination-ism:
  • we are all related by the blood of Jesus
  • people are not drawn to a church by its sign over the door, but by the love that is shown
2.  On boldness:
  • being bold does not mean being insensitive or rude
  • you risk rejection stepping outside the boundaries of what others think
  • you must give an account of yourself to God, not to the opinions of others
3.  On the power of parental love:
  • there are three kinds of love:  love if you meet my need; love because you met my need; love in spite of everything...Godly love...unconditional love
  • a child's attitude and performance improve if they know they are loved unconditionally
  • when children are denied love from their parents, they will seek love substitutes, which may be self-destructing
  • children will rebel out of their need for acceptance
  • self-centered parents love only when it benefits them, children need unconditional love
  • support and encourage your children by being present and involved in their activities

  • He will change you into a holy people dedicated to himself; this he has promised to do if you will only obey him and walk in his ways. (28:9)
  • Look, today I have set before you life and death, depending on whether you obey or disobey.  I have commanded you to love the Lord your God and to follow his paths and keep his laws, so that you will live...  (30:15-16)
  • ...choose life, that you and your children might live and choose to love the Lord your God and to obey him and to cling to him, for he is your life and the length of your days.  (30:19-20)
  • Be strong!  Be courageous!  Do not be afraid of them!  For the Lord your God will be with you.  He will neither fail you nor forsake you.  (31:6)

  • Yes, be bold and strong!  Banish fear and doubt!  For remember, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  (1:9)

  • Purity is best demonstrated by generosity. (11:41)
  • Beware!  Don't always be wishing for what you don't have.  For real life and real living are not related to how rich we are.  (12:15)
  • ...what's the use of worrying?  What good does it do?  Will it add a single day to your life?  Of course not!  (12:25)
  • ...don't worry at all that God will provide it for you.  (12:29)
  • ...your heavenly Father knows your needs.  He will always give you all you need from day to day if you will make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.  (12:30-31)
  • Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.  (12:34)
  • ready all the time.  For I, the Messiah, will come when least expected.  (12:40)

  • O God, your ways are holy.  Where is there any other as mighty as you?  You are the God of miracles and wonders.  You still demonstrate your awesome powers.  (77:13-14)

  • Some people like to make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise soothe and heal.  (12:18)  (I am guilty of making cutting remarks...I'm sometimes very hard to be around.  I don't want to be that way, and it brings me to my knees often.  I still need God to work on me and in me.)
  • Truth stands the test of time; lies are soon exposed.  Deceit fills hearts that are plotting for evil; joy fills hearts that are planning for good!  (12:19-20)
  • Anxious hearts are very heavy, but a word of encouragement does wonders!  (12:25)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Devotional Highlights from this past week

The Word for You Today:

  1. Jesus was always available for children - be a role model for them
  2. by age 5 a child knows 75% of all he or she will know in life
  3. by age 18 their minds have been molded
  4. have the simple faith and trust like a child
  5. love and encourage children - speak kindly to them
God Loves You:
  1. God loves you in spite of your shortcoming and has a plan for your life
  2. God will speak to you directly and enables you to do what He asks of you
  1. walls built to keep others out, locks you in
  2. when you keep backing out of relationships when there is strife, you'll soon be all alone
  3. relationships must be based on a commitment to work for peace and love
  4. getting along with each other is a sign of spiritual maturity
  5. talk to God first before talking to the other person in the broken relationship
  6. talk one on one to the other person - take the initiative
  7. be selective on timing - both of you need to be at your best
  8. confess your part - your own flaws
  9. choose your words carefully, and how you say them is as important as what you say - don't be defensive

  • Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is the faithful God who for a thousand generations keeps his promises and constantly loves those who love him and who obey his commands.  (7:9)
  • ...what does the Lord your God require of you except to listen carefully to all he says to you, and to obey for your own good the commandments I am giving you today, and to love him, and to worship him with all your hearts and souls.  (10:12-13)

  • I saw myself so stupid and so ignorant; I must seem like an animal to you, O God.  But even so you love me.  You are holding my right hand!  You will keep on guiding me all my life with your wisdom and counsel, and afterwards receive me into the glories of heaven.  Whom have I in heaven but you?  And I desire no one on earth as much as you!  My health fails; my spirits droop, yet God remains!  He is the strength of my heart; he is mine forever!  (73:22-26)

  • A good man's mind is filled with honest thoughts, an evil man's mind is crammed with lies.  (12:5)
  • Everyone admires a man with good sense, but a man with a warped mind is despised.  (12:8)

  • Anyone who wants to follow me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him every day and keep close to me!  Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it, but whoever insists on keeping his life will lose it; and what profit is there in gaining the whole world when it means forfeiting one's self?  (9:23-25)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring has arrived???

I think spring is playing an April Fool's joke on us this year.  We are still wearing our winter coats, longing to shed them for spring jackets. Despite what the weather is outside, I have spent today trading out fall and winter wardrobes for spring and summer.  Maybe if I "hint" enough, spring will come.  One can only hope!!

Today we skyped with our son and granddaughters for the first time.  That was cool because they like to see the doggies, and we can have them right there, front chair.  

Hubby has been spring cleaning in the garage today, and finally took our Christmas lights down off  the pine tree out behind the house.  I'd like to put the snow shovel away....but I just don't think I need to flirt with spring too much, or winter  will remind me of it's presence.

Went to my small group Care Ring this week for the first time.  We are studying Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love.  We watch him speak on DVD and then discuss the book.  It really resonates with me.  I ended up buying one of his books because he's speaking my thoughts.  During the chapters, he has us going out on-line and watching a you-tube video to emphasize a point he is making.  Pretty cool.  

We began training this week on "Camp Brain" and CWFree and a few other programs at work.  We are gearing up for our summer camp registrations and training on-line.  We as a staff will be in training for the next several weeks leading up to our first camp in June.  That means extra hours at work, but that's okay.  It also helps the paycheck!!

Last night I went to Texas Roadhouse with four other women from our church...girls' night out, sort of.  I needed a break from routine, so it was a nice time for me.  One other night this week I spent an evening at a friend's house watching one of the Alaskan Gaither videos.  Very pretty scenery, and I always enjoy Gaither music.  

So, that's been my week.  Still putting up with the back issues.  I may have to see the doctor eventually, but I am avoiding it as long as possible, for I do not have room in my current budget for medical concerns.  

Don't think I'm going to post my devotional material this week.  If that's the part you are looking for, please leave me a comment.  I find it strange that 100 people will visit the blog in a week, but no one leaves any comments...on any of the three blogs.  But that's okay.  I just like knowing I'm getting hits.  My Genesis blog is traveling the world...very interesting to see where all the hits are coming from.  I'm struggling with the I Peter blog.  Just can't seem to settle myself down and get focused.  Losing interest in studying my Greek also.  I am so in need of major change.  Hubby said it will be interesting to see how God covers my need for change when I am in heaven.  Well, I say God made me this way, and He's certainly not going to let me down when I get to heaven!!  Whatdyathink?