Israel: God is Here!

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I have obviously not kept up with the days as they have come and gone. Each day feels as if it is filled with a college semester’s worth of information and revelation. As I have walked in Jerusalem these past two days, it feels as if we have been here weeks and I fear I’ve not written everything down that has been received.

I have decided to break down my “findings” here into three categories.

  1. Information
  2. Revelation
  3. Inspiration

Without going into detail, suffice to say that all three are active in the days here.

I want to share with you one moment of Inspiration following a Revelation which came from the Information given through our guide (Erez). By the way, Erez is a Messianic believer in Jesus and has an amazing and rich awareness of the land. He has been a guide for over 20 years.

Information/Revelation/Inspiration

On Sunday morning, following a time of devotions on the Mount of Olives (Near Gethsemane), we each had a time to find a spot to pray. Finding my olive tree, I leaned on it and began to listen for the Lord’s voice. He began to speak to me of the New season He is bringing (Revelation) and of the things He is doing in my family and in me. It was such a moving time and I enjoyed the peaceful prayer, overlooking Jerusalem and imagining Jesus many times of prayer there.

As I wrapped up, I stepped back and took some pictures of the tree so that I could remember that altar, or that place of prayer. We boarded the bus and continued our visit to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, we encountered a museum full of amazing INFORMATION. Let me just say that walking briskly through a museum in Jerusalem is NOT exactly how I believe it was meant to be experienced. (It is, however, the only way to get in as much as possible.) At the top of a tower, Erez calls everyone over to what looks to be a very plain topographical map of Jerusalem. As he shows it to us, he describes the three valleys that make up the area and come between the important mountains of Jerusalem. Finishing his explanation, he turns to 2 Chron. 6:6 and explains that God has told us that HIS NAME would be on THIS PLACE. He then shows us that the three valleys form the Hebrew letter, “shin” which is the symbol for Shaddai (God). God has indeed written his name on the very land which he promised to his people. I thought, “Wow! Amazing”, and marveled that I almost missed that information as I had walked to the side of the tower to look out over the city thinking topography to be “boring”. (Just being honest)

With the revelation of the morning and the information of the afternoon, I returned to the hotel later that night to look at my pictures and found this!

The tree was actually in the shape of the Hebrew letter, "shin".

The tree was actually in the shape of the Hebrew letter, “shin”.

There was my place of prayer, and there was the letter, “shin” and GOD WAS HERE!! All I was doing was trying to remember the place where I prayed. All God was doing was saying, “I AM HERE”! It was a moment of INSPIRATION, and I was blessed!

Maybe you are in a place of prayer or need. Maybe you can’t see God right now. Maybe you just don’t know it, but I want you to know that God is HERE! He is here for you! He is there in your need. He is in all places and He cares.

I hope you are blessed today!

Shalom,

Pastor Kevin

P.S.

Here is a view of the valleys of Jerusalem.

Ancient Jerusalem on a map, marked to see the "shin" ... the first Hebrew letter in "Shaddai" - Hebrew for God.

Ancient Jerusalem on a map, marked to see the “shin” … the first Hebrew letter in “Shaddai” – Hebrew for God.

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Israel: 2 Day Update – Upper Galilee to the Dead Sea

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Two days worth of updates in a few paragraphs. Almost impossible, but here goes!

Tel-Dan (Laish): Genesis 14:14, Judges 18:27

Tel-Dan, Caesarea and Baptism photos

Ancient gate of the city of Laish and Tel-Dan.

Ancient gate of the city of Laish and Tel-Dan.

In a driving rain which literally became a flood over Isreal, we set out for Tel-Dan in Upper Galilee. While we were not able to walk to the gate, we did get the above photo of the gate that has been uncovered in the last two decades. This gate belongs to the city of Tel-Dan, also called Laish in the Bible. This is where Abraham went to rescue Lot from his enemies. A 3,800 year old gate standing intact as a reminder of the pursuit of a liberator! It is simply awe-inspiring to look at the gate where Abraham would have undoubtedly walked through!

Caesarea Philippi: Matthew 16:13-20

Standing in front of ancient Caesarea Phillipi's "Gates of Hell"

Standing in front of ancient Caesarea Phillipi’s “Gates of Hell”

Standing in front of ancient Caesarea Phillipi’s “Gates of Hell”Second we visited the ruins of the city, Caesarea Philippi. This city, devoted to the Greek god “Pan” and center to extreme ungodly perversions is the scene of Jesus’ famous question to his disciples, “Who do YOU say that I am”. As Peter declares Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus says, Upon this ROCK I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not overpower it.” POWERFUL when you realize that Jesus had brought his disciples, very near to the end of his ministry in Galilee, to the center of ungodly worship and practices. Brought them to the very cave/temple dedicated to “Pan” and called … “The Gates of Hell”! We spent time praying and worshipping on this site and declaring that the CHURCH will continue to go to the “hard” and “unreached” places and that the KINGDOM will advance because of JESUS at the center.

War is Real

Building in middle of shelling in Syria.

Building in middle of shelling in Syria.

On our way out of the Upper Galilee we stopped at a tourist overlook to look over the border into Syria. Upon arriving we thought we were hearing gunfire and explosions. As we stood not the look out platform we indeed began to see the shelling taking place. A stark reminder of the cost and reality of war! Please pray for the people of Syria as the continue to experience a deadly civil war!

Baptism in the Jordan River

Not much to say here expect for the amazing blessing to remember my baptism and experience something like the experience of Jesus when John came baptizing, and Jesus submitted himself to the baptism which he clearly didn’t “need”. Just an amazing experience.

Beit She’an (Capital City of the Decapolis)

Photos for Beit She’an, Qumran and Dead Sea Sailors

10325694_792591640760736_201665591820496861_nOn the East side of the Jordan river and south of Galilee stood 10 cities in the Bible known as the Decapolis, the capital being, Beit She’an. In Old Testament times, this is where the body of Saul was taken and hung on the walls by the Philistines. That city, which stood high on a hill, was later abandoned and this city built on the grounds below. The ruins are staggering and reveal much about the life and lifestyle of the Greeks and Romans. I won’t tell all the stories, but suffice to say that Greek and Roman center of life is the individual, the body, and sensuality! How we need the TRUTH of the word to bring us back to God’s plans and God’s thoughts on things like the “meaning of life”.

Qumran:

We made a quick stop at Qumran and reveled in God’s hand of preserving and then revealing these “Dead Sea Scrolls” just days ahead of the birth of the modern state of Israel. One cannot help but see His hand in history and in the confirmation that comes with finding the prophecies of Jesus … which were clearly written before He was born!

Dead Sea “Sailors”

As we arrived at the dead sea, it was imperative to try out this “rumor” that one can float with no help because the sea is so full of minerals and salt. Truly striking to drive for so long past such a large body of water and not see one boat, one house, no apparent life anywhere near the sea! Good news is this, it appears the rumor is true! Lift up your feet and you are a “super floater”. Strange sensation (especially the gooey mud on the bottom.)

 

Final Thoughts Today:

As we worshipped through the day and shared in a time of devotions, our team has reflected on the “Special Things” we have seen on this trip. We have seen unique storms on Galilee. We have witnessed war raging before our very eyes. We have experienced RAIN that flooded the land (after experiencing drought for some time.) God is clearly working in our hearts to speak powerful revelations which I, for one, am excited to bring back with me. Not the least of which is this!

God calls us to receive life, to life life (abundantly), to join Him in the “hard life” of following and obeying and honoring Him. God calls us to SPEAK life and to GIVE life and to prophetically DECLARE life. Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE! I hope you are living in and giving out that very life today!

Shalom,

Pastor Kevin

Israel: Sea of Galilee Day

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Northern Shore

 

Updating from the bus today as we travel to the North to visit Caesarea Philippi.

A few notes and links if you’re interested in viewing pictures.

Photos

On the Sea

I have to say that I was not prepared for the emotional reality of being on the Sea of Galilee and heading toward the site where 2/3 of Jesus ministry on earth took place. As we travelled by boat, pastor Dan Backens shared a powerful devotional concerning “storms”. It’s interesting how many stories of storms are included the gospels. Everyone experiences storms of some sort. Some of us are caught in fear. Some of us are asking, “who caused this storm”. But in every storm, Jesus will come and bring peace! So amazing to be on the sea where Jesus walked, and calmed the storms.

As we sailed toward the north shore of the sea, our guide showed us the very small stretch of shore which contained 2/3 of Jesus ministry! Amazing! I tried to capture it via photos, but photos never quite tell the whole story. Here! Here is where Jesus walked, taught, performed miracles! What a privilege to be in this place.

Mount of Beatitudes

We were so blessed to ascend to the Mount of Beatitudes, believed to be the place where Jesus shared this sermon. We sat overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and read the passage together. Powerful to see the mustard seeds and to know that Magdela (visible in the distance) was a key city, known for it’s salted fish. (You are there salt of the earth.)

Capernaum

Capernaum, the headquarters of Jesus ministry. Strategically situated between the sea and the Great Coastal Highway, this small town of 2,000 is where we find four times more miracles than anywhere else. The synagogue foundations date back to Jesus day, and there are extensive housing structures which have been uncovered. Also in Capernaum is an excavation of what is believed to be one of the earliest churches. In Capernaum, the woman with an issue of blood was healed … And Jesus told them to pull a fish out of the water. A fish which had a drachma in its mouth.

Dinner and a Storm

We enjoyed a dinner of Saint Peter’s Fish on the Sea. As dinner was winding down a sudden wind blew in! Really! So strong it was blowing glass containers off of tables! We were told that there hadn’t been a storm like that storm in over 2 years. I think The Lord wanted to impress on us what a storm must have been like that night the disciples couldn’t make it to shore without his help.

Maybe you are experiencing a storm in your life? Jesus is watching! Jesus cares! Jesus calms storms. You can trust him.

Shalom,
Pastor Kevin

Israel Day 4: Four Sites- Amazing

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Too much to process/post!

Today we visited a “Biblical Garden” near Jerusalem, Caesarea Maritime, Mt. Carmel and Megiddo. We ended our day by descending to the Sea of Galilee where we will be based for the next three days. I did my best to document through photo/video and a little description, but I’m not sure any of the descriptions have appears on the photo sites (and I think there are duplicates… sorry!). I will not be able to describe each place and all that we learned along the way, but here are four photos and a short description of each, as well as a link to all of the photos I have to share. (Warning, I didn’t “weed” them out very much, but you’re welcome to take a look.)

The Biblical Garden

WatchtowerOur first night was spent at a Messianic Jewish community of believers. They have created a “Biblical Garden” full of authentic and replica items from biblical times. Fascinating see a replica tomb, threshing floor, grape and olive press. Also amazing is the Galilean Synagogue which has been re-constructed on their site. The stones were removed from Galilee and we were blessed to share a devotional in the outdoor synagogue. Photos here:

Caesarea Maritime

Guess he wasn't really happy to see me.

Guess he wasn’t really happy to see me.

Caesarea is where Peter was sent to preach to Cornelius’ household. And, Cornelius is the first Gentile convert recorded in scripture. Caesarea was built by King Herod and was the KEY city for the Romans. We visited the ruins including the theater where Paul gave his defense of his faith, and where Herod died because he refused to give God glory. We prayed over the nations standing on the place where the Gospel first began to come to those of us who are gentile! Photos here:

Mt. Carmel

Fun "re-creating" the story.

Fun “re-creating” the story.

Elijah had enough of the pagan gods who the Israelites were following! He challenged the prophets of Ba’al to a “duel on the mountain” and God answered with fire from heaven! We enjoyed a “re-enactenment” on the site and viewed the valley of Jezreel. Photos here:

Megiddo and the Valley of Armageddon

Megiddo WallsOur final stop before heading to Tiberias for the night (on the Sea of Galilee) was at Megiddo. Megiddo is an ancient city/state which has been built and re-built 25 times by civilization after civilization. Solomon used it as a stronghold during his reign and had over 100 horses and chariots stationed here. The site has an altar to false gods which has been uncovered. This “city” also sits overlooking the valley of Jezreel and it largely believed to be the place that the Bible refers to when it talks about the final battle at Armageddon. Armageddon meaning, “Hill of Megiddo”. We experienced a severe dust and wind storm while atop the “Mount of Megiddo” and spent some time declaring in prayer that God loves LIFE and that JESUS wins in the end! Hallelujah! Photos here:

Tomorrow we head out on the Sea of Galilee, visit a village with a 1st century fishing boat, and spend our day viewing sites of Jesus ministry in Galilee.

Shalom for now!

Pastor Kevin

Second day of travel – We Made It

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Travel Day – DONE!

Today we arrived in Israel just in time to celebrate their 66th INDEPENDENCE day! Unfortunately, we were not able to participate in any celebrations because of how late we arrived. Since I didn’t take any photos so as to stay away from the “travel day” Trains, Planes and Automobile photos … I have decided to steal Doug Chandler’s photos from the grounds around the Messianic Community in which we are staying tonight.

The trip was largely uneventful, but I DID enjoy a long conversation with a 23 year old Jewish young man from Toronto who was seated next to me. He was reading from the book of Leviticus, so I began to ask about who he was and what his plans were. He is studying in Jerusalem to become a Rabbinical scholar, hoping to teach Rabbinical law to High School students.

During our conversation, I asked and he shared with me his views on the law, on Messiah, on Elijah, and on the Jewish practice of praying 3 times a day (4 on Sabbath). How does it work? When do they do it? Who does it? What does it mean to him?

Memorable Conversation:

Perhaps most striking was (after discovering that he is the 3rd to last of 13 children) when I asked if he hoped to marry one day.

“Yes”, he said!

I asked when he would plan to do that?

“In a month”, he said.

I asked, how long have you known her?

“Weeks”, HE SAID!!

This led to him sharing with me that his parents had been working at arranging this marriage for him. Upon making all of the arrangements, he was informed about ONE month ago, and plans are for him to be in Jerusalem this next month studying, then to return to Toronto to marry a girl he met a month ago. Following the wedding they will move to Jerusalem where he will continue his studies.

I can still see his eyes when I asked, “Did they do well” (referencing his parents choosing a bride for him)

His eyes lit up and with a big smile he said, “YES!”

I was grateful for the time to speak with Noson Adda (“Nathan” – one who gives, and second name “one who plants”.) I assured him that he had given to me and planted new knowledge and we parted as I assured him I wish him God’s blessings in his upcoming marriage and in the dreams of his heart.

Tomorrow:

We begin with an Israeli breakfast here at the Yad Hashmona Country Hotel. Following which we will view their “Biblical Gardens” … then we head for the coast and Caesarea (The place where Peter received the vision to go to the Gentiles and the site of the first Gentile convert). We’ll be at Mt. Carmel and Mt. Megiddo (Where we’ll view the valley of Armageddon) then we head for Tiberias on the Sea of Galillee (Where Jesus spent most of his years of ministry.)

I look forward to sharing more tomorrow.

Shalom!

Pastor Kevin

Today the journey begins…

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One World TowerFlight from VAJust a little over three week ago I received  a totally unexpected invitation to take a pilgrimage to Israel … All expenses paid!

I am still stunned as I sit on this 777 preparing to leave for Tel Aviv. After the day of travel, we begin our journey up the coast to the sites of the Bible! I will try to post a photo or two or many each day from our travels and experiences.

Today, I will just post two travel pics. Not nearly as exciting as the pics to come.

If you would like to receive the itinerary with Malta describing when and where we’ll be, email Evan or myself and we’ll send it to you.

Next post from Israel!!

7 Meaningful Touches Every Husband Should Use When Reaching for His Wife (Re-Blog)

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7TouchesOne more for today! Here is a great article for husbands! Short, to the point and good stuff. 7 meaningful touches…

CLICK HERE to READ at charismamag.com

Here are 3 of the 7 …

2. Throughout the day, a text or quick phone call is a great touch of affection. A simple “I love you” or “Just thinking about you and looking forward to the evening” will go a long way in letting her know she is on your mind.

3. Write a note the old-fashioned way. We’re so tech-savvy these days that sometimes an old-fashioned approach is more meaningful.

6. Hold her hand at random times —while driving, walking or just sitting at home.