Friday, January 23, 2009

Reflections from Israel and the Holy Land






I have recently returned from a two week trip in Israel and the Holy Land. It is sort of funny because I actually spent two weeks in Israel and a week on the sofa here in Springfield after wicked reaction to some medicine I took while in Israel (side-note: never wear those patches for motion sickness called transderm-scop patches). At least I had that extra week to to reflect on Israel.

Of course many things stand out but one I keep pondering is our stay in the region of the Sea (lake) of Galilee. From the Church of the Beatitudes looking southwest over the Plain of Genessaret, the Sea or Lake of Galilee becomes wonderfully visible.

The "V" in the line of hills in the center of the image are the Arbel Cliffs that are situated in Galilee. These act as a wind tunnel which would cause intense storms to suddenly arise on the Sea. The road to Nazareth also ran past these mountains.

The Church from which this picture was taken preserves the memory of Jesus’ "Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5–7) which was close to the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Words cannot describe the beauty of the Sun setting and the rainbow which appeared while we floated quietly of the Sea of Galilee.

As we floated, I reflected on this location because it is where Jesus gave the greatest sermon on living a life according to Kingdom principles. Going to Israel will enrich my life in many ways as a teacher and leader. However, my prayer has been that it help enrich my life as a follower of Christ. I remind myself frequently how what I do (ministry) must never replace my first priority as a follower of Christ. My trip to Israel help me realize that Scriptures happened in a real world and to real people. It also reminded me how Jesus and the disciples were physically fit (they had to be to walk all those miles all the time). I'll start training for the marathon in a few months. Yea baby!!!

Peace in the Middle East
-Mike

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