A Travellerspoint blog

Up to Jerusalem - Day 4

The Holy City

Today, we began our journey Southward toward the Holy city, Jerusalem. The first stop along the way was at the archaeological site of Beit Shean. Everyone had a great time exploring these ancient ruins yielding Old Testament and 3rd, 4th, and 5th century AD treasures. Some of our group even braved the steep hike up to the top of the Tel to see the oldest site. It provided the most incredible view of the entire area. Personally, I worked up an appetite for ice cream on the way out.


Our next stop was one of my personal favorites. We stopped to dip our hands in Gideon’s Spring. This was a good reminder for all of us that God calls us to follow Him into battle against the worlds ways with His strength. Each of us had some time to reflect and pray about our own personal struggles in thinking that we don’t have enough resources to obey God. Personally, I remembered of a very difficult challenge that our church is facing. So, I took the opportunity to gather a couple of the staff and church leaders to solidify our faith in prayer. Those who wanted were able to take a stone from the water of the spring as a memorial reminder.


After driving by Jericho, we headed up to Jerusalem. The anticipation built as we ascended the Holy Mountain hearing Susan’s description of the timeless treasure this city provides. Finally, we crested the top and got our first glorious glimpse of the Temple Mount. There were tears of joy. The excitement was literally palpable in the bus as we beheld the very site where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his own son…The threshing floor and land that David purchased from Ornan the Jebusite…the place where Solomon built the Holy Temple. It was amazing.

We then spent some time on the Mount of Olives looking and talking about the Temple Mount and the City of David. After touring a few beautiful churches, we entered into a very private portion of the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here that we each stood, knelt, or prayed by one of the ancient olive trees and identified with Jesus’ plea with the Father to remove Him from the pain that was to come. We all committed to letting God press our own will out and fill us with His. This very emotional day ended with…you guessed it, ice cream.


Posted by Budwenzel 11:15 Comments (0)

Way up North - Day 3

Day three started out with an “unscheduled” stop at the Naot Shoe factory in Northern Galilee (thanks to my wife). It was a fun way to meet some Jewish people who live and work on a Kibbutz. From there we made our way further North to the ancient city of Dan. There were some very nice Kings era walls and lots of cool archaeological finds. The best of all was a Canaanite gate that was sure to be the place where Abram would have first entered the land three thousand years ago!


The next stop was at Caesarea Philippi, which was the pagan spring/cave that was operating in the day of Jesus. It was the backdrop for Peter’s confession of Christ as Messiah. We had a great time to think and reflect about the Lord “building His church” with the truth of the Gospel using each one of us.

The afternoon was spent touring the Golan Heights. At one point, we were literally a stone’s throw away from Syria. Our tour guide, Susan, gave an in-depth commentary on the political and military history of modern Israel. And, of course, we managed to find a good ice cream spot along the way.

Posted by Budwenzel 10:57 Comments (0)

Focus as Talmidim - Day 2

Learning to be a disciple

Day 2 began with an incredible Sunday morning worship service on the Sea of Galilee (literally). We traveled on a boat to the middle where my good friend Mark Howard led us in a sweet time of singing and worship. Then, we looked carefully at Matthew 14 where Peter joins Jesus walking on the water. The Spirit was moving, and we all had meaningful times of rededication and commitment to embracing the storms of our lives. We now have a bright and joyful perspective concerning the goal during storms...ready to find Jesus walking over the top of the individual waves of our difficulty.


After seeing a really cool Jesus era fishing boat that was discovered and dug up out of the mud along the shore, we moved on to the site of the Beatitudes. The gift shop at this stop also has good ice cream. Reading from Scripture, talking about what a Jesus meant by "disciple", and a time of personal prayer led to our refocus as followers of Jesus. The group is learning more and more at each new site concerning the Hebrew Rabbi concept of the Talmid.

We had the chance to stop for lunch at a very cool restaurant where everyone had the chance to try St. Peter's fish from the Sea of Galilee. Then, staying within the triangle of Jesus' primary Galilean ministry area, we stoped for a lecture and wonderful lessson by our tour guide Susan at Peter's primacy. This is the traditional site celebrating Peter's restoration along the shore of the Sea of Galilee when Jesus asked him 3 times, "Peter, do you love me?" Susan taught us about the Hebrew concept of Tshuva which as to do with repentance and restoration. We all grabbed a small rock out of the water to take home commemorating our own personal issues of restoration with the Lord.

The Biblical site of Capernaum was another special stop for the group (although it was quite hot). They were courageous pilgrims braving the heat to see a 4th-5th century Synagogue that was built on some of the stones of the original synagogue where Jesus actually taught and worshipped. This is also the site of Peter's Mother-in-law's house, a 1st century olive press, and many many artifacts showing the culture and life of Jesus' home base for Galilean ministry. And, again...ice cream.

The last stop of the day was for baptisms in the Jordan River. Several people enjoyed a re-baptism as a celebration of what Jesus has done for them. My friend Lee Welch helped me perform the baptisms and distracted all the fish from nibbling on my feet (thanks Lee).

Posted by Budwenzel 06:42 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Day 1

The JOURNEY Begins


Day one was a great beginning for the journey. We began with a comprehensive tour of Caesarea Maritime where we stopped to meditate on Peter's visit to Cornelius' house. This marks the very site where the Gospel (God's invitation to know Him) is taken to the Gentile people. Peter's unusual obedience and willingness to join God in the mission outside of his own experiences and comforts compelled us all. We also saw the very site where Paul stood trial for His unwavering preaching of the good news. Paul's boarded a ship here at this Port for his last trip to Rome where he would be imprisoned and put to death for his faith.

Moving our way up the coast, we climbed Mt. Carmel for an outstanding view of the Jezreel Valley. Many had a moving experience on the top of Mt. Carmel where Elijah challenged his people to choose to worship God and defeated the prophets of Baal. We had a significant time of evaluating our own worship recommitting ourselves to worshipping God alone with all our heart, soul, and strength.

Next, we went to Tel Megiddo which is an absolute treasure of Biblical and archeological wonder. It includes over 16 separate and distinct layers of civilization. We stepped on walkways that were built as part of King Solomon's palace and the stables for his 400 horses & chariots. This site also provided an adventurous trek down a steep well dug by King Ahab redirecting water from a natural spring outside the city gates. This allowed God's people would have a protected water source. It was simply ingenious! There were a few other small surprises at this site. Some were surprised to learn that "mangers" in Israel were stone not wood. Pam, Chaplain Jim, and James were all happy to try it on for size.

The day ended with an unscheduled surprise stop at the 1st century site of Magdala (where Mary Magdalene was from). This is a current dig where we got to see where archeologists have just uncovered a fully in tact archway from the original community. The group had another reflective time considering Jesus' healing and transforming touch. And, for the record, I have found a new favorite ice cream stop to add to my list.

Finally, home to a beautifully presented full buffet for dinner (and of course, more ice cream)

Posted by Budwenzel 06:58 Comments (2)

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