My next trip to Israel leaves in 8 days! Julie and I sense this will be a very special trip with many exciting encounters. This group is preparing for an incredible journey of life change. Below is an excerpt from the last email that I sent each of them before we leave:
As we prepare for the journey, I want to help you sharpen your focus. Please prepare yourself for a spiritual pilgrimage. Prepare to learn a massive amount of information. Most importantly, prepare to allow that information to transform your heart. Spend some time praying in preparation for God to ask you to remove idols. Get ready for times of very real decision between you and God. Your commitment level will be challenged to be sure. Are you willing to say yes to whatever God asks of you…tells you…commands you? It will happen, and your response will make all the difference in the world. This is it. Are you ready?
Here are the major areas to focus on when we arrive and begin our walk through the Land.
1. Soak in the experience - let every detail of the culture, history, and geography bring God’s Word to life. Sense the closeness to God as you walk among His chosen people and see the literal stones, waves, and trees that were there when Biblical events and conversations were recorded. God chose this land, and He loves it. Live in the context.
2. Watch for connections - every turn will reveal more connections between passages of Scripture. They will come together at breakneck speed. Take notes and be diligent to listen very carefully. Lights will come on like never before for those who are searching.
3. Follow the themes - we will see and discuss the idea of the Jewish foundation of our faith. We will unfold the concept of what a real disciple is. And, we will see God’s plan and mission for both Israel and the church today. Everything you learn can be taken home for remarkable application.
4. Get ready for the “encounters” - at various spots along the way, we will stop to take some time for application. These meaningful sites will remind us of a very specific promise or principle that we will allow to penetrate deeply into our hearts. These times will be so critical. We will read, meditate, pray, and sing. We will drive spiritual markers in the ground and make commitments. We will surrender and let go of things we have held onto and been captive to most of our Christian lives. We will be filled with encouragement and determine to courageously face the life that lays before us when we return.
5. Enjoy - get ready to smile, laugh, sing, cry, and walk (and eat). There is no material possession, world event, or earthly experience that matches what you are about to do. Everything else you spend money on will quickly fade (moths, rust, thieves). This will be fun and eternal at the same time. Your experience will grow and gain value as time goes on. The Psalmist says, “in His presence is the fullness of joy (Ps 16:11). This is the most effective experience I know that leads you to entering His presence.
My friends, we will come back different. You will be inspired and prepared to go on mission with Jesus. You will be a renewed disciple with firmly established directives for life. You will become someone that others follow through trials and difficulties because of your steadfastness and understanding of God’s promises. You will be changed.
Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow you will walk on holy ground and the Lord will do wonders among you (Ex 3:5; Josh 3:5).
I can’t wait to walk the land with you next week.