Friday, March 31, 2017

The Word Comes Alive

"If I hurry, I might get there in time to hear him teach," I thought to myself as I headed up the hills above the lake from where I lived.

"Everyone says his teaching is amazing - practical, pointed, and personal. Will it speak to me like it speaks to them??"

"I hope I'll find a seat close enough so I can really hear him! They say his voice is strong, yet gentle. I can't imagine what that will be like!"

"I'll admit, I'm a little nervous to hear him. Some say that he's the Messiah we've all been waiting for. But others don't trust him. What will I think??"

"This Jesus! Who is he?? Oh how I want to hear him and learn who he is for myself!"

And those were my thoughts as we walked down the hillside, in the place where historians believe Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.

What WOULD it have been like to go hear Jesus teaching up above the Sea of Galilee?? Would I have responded to his message of hope, love and salvation?

I like to think that I would have!

Getting to hear Dave quote passages of Scripture by memory from Matthew, chapters 6 and 7, where Jesus was preaching the Beatitudes, was compelling! But what would it have been like if Jesus had been there in person?

At least I could imagine it today as we sat listening to Dave!

These are such precious days, walking where Jesus walked, and listening to his Word come alive!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Come, Lord Jesus!

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that I love Israel, and that I love the Nazareth Village there!

I wrote about it HERE a month ago when we were there with our JV team, visiting this beautiful place that reenacts what Nazareth was possibly like in Jesus' day.

Honestly, every time I'm here I think more about Jesus, envisioning him, his life on earth, and what he did for us.

It seems like every guide (we've had a different one every time) adds a new piece that helps me picture his life more clearly. Such as...surely he was around donkeys! And surely the wildflowers grew around there back then as they do today! Did he pick bouquets of them and take them to his mom??

When he passed by the shoots growing out from the olive tree, did he think about the fact that he was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 11:1 or 53:2? Growing up like a tender shoot, a shoot from the stump of Jesse? (I need my Hebrew scholar son, Tyler, to explain why that has the significance that it does!)

For the first time, I saw almonds growing on the tree. Jesus must have seen those too! Did he and his siblings or friends pick them off the tree when they were ripe?

When he saw all the colors of the wildflowers, did he remember when he and his Father created them?

And who were the people in his every day life? Were they women like Hannah, the weaver in the Nazareth village?

I had a delightful personal conversation with her today where she found out that I am also a true believer! My friend, Polly, captured her crying out, "Praise the Lord for my born again sister!" She then prayed for me, a prayer of blessing for more fruitfulness for the Kingdom of God. What a treasured moment with her.

There were so many other sites there today that again brought me closer to Jesus, seeing things with my own eyes that he most likely saw too. How thankful I am for those who had the vision to create this village in order to give us a clearer picture of his life.

After our time there, we headed up to the Nazareth Precipice.

This is the traditional spot where people believe Jesus was brought to be thrown off by his own people from Nazareth (they didn't!). While we don't know if this is the exact spot, we do know from Scripture that many in his town did not believe he was the Messiah so wanted to be rid of him.

Dave spoke from up here about how we can know a lot about Jesus, like those he grew up with in his own hometown, but not have faith in him. It's a powerful teaching, one that I again soaked in this time. I don't want to just know about Jesus, but to believe IN him.

Oh may our faith continue to grow ever stronger in him!

From this spot, you have a nearly 360 degree view of so many biblical places, including the plains of Armageddon, where the Bible says the final battle will take place someday. With it so beautiful up here, it's hard to imagine that, honestly.

What I DO know is who wins the final victory!

One day every knee will bow and confess Jesus Christ as Lord. No longer will there be any curse. And the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. And we will reign with him forever and ever.

Jesus himself said, "Look, I am coming soon!" He says that he is "...the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End...the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."

AMEN! Come, Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Perspective on Top

It's our first day out on tour in Israel with our friends from Jackson Hole Classical Academy!

And where did we head to first? UP!

We headed up above the city of Tiberius to Mount Arbel, which gives a fantastic view and perspective of the region around the Sea of Galilee.

Dave began teaching today, setting the stage for the rest of this week as we study the life of Christ from two perspectives: personal and professional.

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? And how did Jesus teach for transformation? We'll spend all week thinking about those two themes!

As we were up here this afternoon, one of the teachers took out his sketch pad and began drawing.

I loved seeing his perspective! He's taking what he's seeing and doing something with it.

And that's what we hope and pray for this week - that for each of these teachers, they will gain a great perspective on God's truth connected to their lives, personally and professionally!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

30th Anniversary Day

Today, on our thirtieth wedding anniversary, we took a five kilometer morning walk.

Along the boardwalk of Tel Aviv, Israel!

Yes, we're back in Israel after having just been here three weeks ago. We didn't come to celebrate our anniversary, though this would've been a great place to do that! Instead, we have the joy and privilege of being here to lead another tour of the Holy Land.

We flew in a day early so that we'd be here in time to meet the group coming in from the States. Since they were arriving in the afternoon, we had the morning to take a walk to Old Jaffa, somewhere that we've never been before.

See Acts 9 and 10 as one of the places where the Bible talks about this place!

Spring has fully arrived here in Israel, which made it THE most delightful walk along the sea as we made yet another memory to celebrate the actual day of our wedding thirty years ago.

You'll forgive one more picture of the bride and groom today, won't you?! I sure do love this amazing man, and enjoy all of our adventures together!

We had one more special event today, before meeting up with our group from the States.

Many years ago, we met these dear friends at our mutual home church in Illinois. They are Israeli believers, and missionaries in their own country. Oh what a beautiful testimony they have, and what amazing work they're doing to share Christ with their fellow Jews. It was such a joy to share a meal with them and catch up this afternoon.

We then headed to the airport to meet up with our group. I loved standing in the arrival area, listening to Jewish children call out to their "Abba" (daddy!) as we all passed the time before everyone arrived!

Before we knew it, the group made it through and we headed to our bus to begin our journey to Tiberius at the Sea of Galilee!

We'll be with this group of amazing teachers from Jackson, Wyoming for the next eight days. Dave will teach from two perspectives: a personal dimension about how to go from being a follower of Jesus to a disciple; and a professional dimension about how to teach like Jesus.

It's going to be an incredible week here in Israel, again walking where Jesus walked, and thinking about his life from these perspectives!

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Little Bit of Paradise

Thirty years ago, we made our way across Austria, west to east, skiing in several locations.

When I think back to those days, I almost can't believe I did that on our honeymoon! Maybe it shows how much I loved my new husband, that I was willing to join him in one of his all time favorite activities!

Well, I love this husband more now than I did then. So much so that I encouraged him to ski on this trip, as we celebrate that joyous event all those years ago.

But this time, I let him go by himself!

Oh, but don't think I didn't head up to the top of the slopes with him! No way would I miss out on another adventure together.

At the top of this ski area, which is open for its very last day of the season, Dave tucked me in at this darling restaurant where I could read, write and soak in the gorgeous scenery.

Oh yeah. And enjoy famous Austrian "apfel strudel" and cappuccino while he makes his way out to the slopes!

He came in to check on me every few runs, and I was happy to tell him that I was more than fine, and say, "Enjoy yourself on the slopes, even if they're foggy!"

While he's in his little bit of paradise...

I'm in mine!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Anniversary on the Zugspitze

A number of people have asked me if I was preparing a special gift for Dave to celebrate our 30th anniversary. They've also asked me if I knew what Dave was preparing for me.

In answer to those questions I said, "While we both enjoy gifts to and from each other, what we like even more is doing something together."

So this anniversary week-end is all about creating some new memories and having a great experience with each other.

And one of those experiences is going to the top of this mountain!

The Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany, 2,962 meters above sea level - that's 9718 feet!

It sits right on the border of Germany and Austria, and you can get to the top from either side. We chose to go up on the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn. And oh wow!!! What a ride up to the top!

I was both giddy, and a little sick to my stomach, as we gained a whole lot of altitude in the bahn car that holds 100 people, and reaches the top in just seven minutes.

The giddiness won over the sick feeling! It was absolutely spectacular being at what felt like the top of the world!

You have a 360 degree view from this unbelievable engineering feat that allows you to be at the top.

While it is starting to feel like spring in the valley, it's definitely still winter up here.

There were still hundreds, if not thousands, up here skiing on this amazingly beautiful day.

While Dave wouldn't have minded skiing (and in fact, has skied there before I even knew him!), I was content to walk everywhere around the top, soaking in the spectacular view.

And yes, that's me with my arms outstretched, marveling at God's creation!

On the top we walked into Germany.

And back into Austria!

We walked over to the far side and saw the marker that is actually the top of the Zugspitze, loving the fact that it was such a clear day and we could see for so far in the distance.

To say this adventure to the top of the Zugspitze was a highlight is an understatement! I've driven by here many times over the years, but never had the joy of going to the top. And now I have!

As we traveled back down in the bahn car, I was still pinching myself that it was all real.

All of God's creation is amazing and spectacular in its own way. But this. Wow. This part of his world kind of got an extra dose of "amazingness"!

My heart rejoices in the Lord most High, who made it all.

Ended the day on this bench, praising God for 30 years of marriage and the loveliness of his creation!