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Archive - January 2012

Towhead, Blue Eyes and Milk Duds

Towhead, Blue Eyes and Milk Duds   (a minister friend of mine shares this wonderful story about an un-named friend)

My first playmates were my older brother and sister.  Then there was a towhead girl with blue eyes.   I cannot remember not knowing her.  She could do anything a boy could do.  Simultaneously she possessed the most tender heart. She was my first buddy.  We learned to skate together with our clamp on street skates.  Then, her skates fell apart from wear and tear.  One day her body stood motionless as she watched us skate.  All thought she was tired.  But “towheads” blue eyes told me her spirit felt unloved and wept silently.  I stopped and let her borrow one of mine.  Skating with one skate was not much fun, but watching her tender spirit deep within those blue eyes feeling rejected my young spirit hurt too.  One day we saw older kids doing something we had never seen before.  Each was sitting on a small board placed on top of a single skate streaking down a hill.  We found two boards suitable for six year olds.  Then, I gave her a skate.  I remember pausing because I was wearing a new pair of yearly shoes.  I thought of a refrain Red Skelton’s, “If I dood it, I get a whooping – I dood it!” The logic of a six year old waited until the was going down before he went into the house.  Tomorrow was forever for an adventuresome boy.  My parents had a crystal ball and XRay vision.  The latter side of “I dood it” visited my kiester within minutes.  By the time I was ten my keister had callous like the knees of a camel.  I forgave them and started another journey the next morning.  If I saw her at the theater on Saturday morning, I used my nickel to buy Milk Duds and shared them with her.  I lost touch with her as a teenager, because she had discovered older boys.  Within months our childhood adventures ended. 

I saw her a few times in our twenties.  By our late twenties, both of us had moved to other states.  In my mid-fifties, I had a dream about her.  It took several years to find someone who had her telephone number.  I called and told her about my dream.  She cried and told me the nightmare she had lived. Years of drugs, exploitations by men and even prostitution broke her heart and spirit.  These events destroyed her family relationships and herself respect.  She accepted Christ, forgave herself and others.  She asked me if I would baptize her some day?  Several more years passed before she flew to Atlanta.  We meet the next day.  Her towhead was a little thinner, but her blue eyes sparkled and she allowed me to snuggle with my first buddy whom I still cherish.  In spite of others being close by I put my arms around my first sweetheart.  Children jell best when alone.  I pulled out some Milk Duds for old time sake.  The years rolled back to the early days.  She was still my buddy.  By this time in our lives, we had acquired the gift of XRay vision.  The spirit I knew within those blue eyes told me she was dying.  Innocent and honest children ask questions adults cringe to hear. I asked her, if she came home to die?  I heard those close by gasp and freeze in shock!  She said, she knew a few people loved her, but her siblings did not want to see her.  Then, she said, “Atlanta would be the safest place to die.  And, she would prefer to die with someone’s arms around her than to die alone.”  Finally, one of her sisters agreed to let her spent the night with her.  She spent Saturday night with her sister.  During the night she died.  Our plan was for me to baptize her on Sunday.  We know baptism does not save one.  Baptism is an act of obedience reflecting the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I share this with you to demonstrate how sacrifice, precious memories and friendships are sacred gifts.  At her funeral service, I passed out Milk Duds.  I told how a nickel went a long way in the early 50’s.  I bet you a nickel, when I see her in heaven, the first thing she will do is share her Milk Duds with me!

ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE-DEC 28 TO JAN 8, 2012

WE-12/28/11 departed USA on Delta flight 268

TH-12/29/11
Delta 268 arrived on time. The wait to get through immigration was lengthy but we finally got off about 4:15pm Israeli time.
Left the airport and drove south to Mitzpe Ramon. We checked into the Ramon Inn. Dinner and Bible study and off to bed. Everyone would be up early due to time change on the flight.

FR-12/30/11-ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE 
Mitzpe Ramon is quite chilly this morning. Breakfast was at 6:45am. They have several kinds of yogurt, a multiplicity of breads, homemade jams, fresh honey and the other standard breakfast items. I mention this because their breakfast is unique because of the number of items that are so well prepared. 

The bus was loaded on time and we left the Ramon Inn on time at 7:45. Bye Ramon. We were with you such a short time. 

Avdat took about 15 min. to get to and we toured the site for 45 min. Dr. Butler lectured on baptismal founts and baptism in the early church. Gilla lectured on the Nabataeans and their cities including Avdat. This is a significant site in the history of the Negev. 

Beersheba was about 45 min. away. Abraham’s well and Tel Beersheba including the water system were included in our site discussions. 

The road to the Dead Sea passes by Tel Arad. It has a replica of the Holy of holies in the Israelite fortress on the site. We noted this as we zoomed by the site. Shebbat begins at sunset so we at pressing today to get to all our sites as they shut Down at 3 pm. 

We stopped at the site of ancient Zohar, a Dead Sea overlook. After the completion of our drive down to the Dead Sea we had lunch at Ein Boqeq Aroma Bar. 

We made it to Masada with moments to spare. We finished our site visit by 3pm and hustled back down by stopping time. Masada is an amazing site. 

Qumran was now closed so we stopped at the En Gedi beach to experience the Dead Sea Water.  It is composed of 35% minerals and you can’t drown, floating is the only option except the horrible stinging that happens of you get it in your eyes. Rinse thoroughly after getting the Dead Sea mineral water on you. 

1 1/2 hr drive north to Maagan Guesthouse on the southern end of the Dead Sea. Dinner and Bible Study, study and then to bed. Avner our driver does an outstanding job of getting us safely to each site and our hotel.  

SA -12/31/11…ISRAEL  PILGRIMAGE 
Sat morning on the Sea of Galilee.  Jim Dukes led our devotional on the boat. We finished out boat ride at Nof Ginnosar where where we visited the Galilee boat. 

We drove up the hill to the Mt. Of Beatitudes then across to Chorazin. We took a group picture at Chorazin in front of the 1st century synagogue.   An imposing site. 

We drove down the hill to Capernaum and visited the synagogue, Peter’s house and talked about the process of pressing olives. 

We have devotionals and Bible readings at every site and sing hymns at many sites. Our Galilee boat ride and visits to the places of Jesus ministry have been a high water mark for our Pilgrimage. Our journey will grow in  spiritual intensity as we continue tomorrow and Monday in the Galilee and then on Tuesday turn our faces towards Jerusalem.  I was in Jerusalem for 3 days before our group arrived and I am filling the excitement growing about our time in Jerusalem. 

We had lunch in Migdala (Mary of Migdala.) After lunch our next stop was the Primacy of Peter on the beach.  It began to rain at the end of our time at Primacy. 

We visited a spice and dried fruit store and headed back to Maagan for Bible Study and dinner. Another great touring day. New Year’s Eve and most of us were in the bed early.

SU -1/1/12.. ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE
Sunny morning as we drove to Kursi. A good visit to the church and site. 

We drove up to  Mahanaiim and met our jeep group for an off-road ride across the Golan. Amazing sights including Syrian mine fields and bunkers.  Also a lot of wildlife.  We left Mahanaim about 9:30am and finished about noon. 

We continued our touring be driving to Mesada for lunch. 

Caesarea Philippi was our next stop. We saw the Gate of Hades and toured the summer palace of Herod Philip.  

We drove to Dan and saw the Ahab Gate, Horned Altar, nature walk and the Abraham Gate. This is a Tel that was occupied in Antiquity about 4,000 BC. 

Kiryat Shimona was our last stop of the day at the Aroma Espresso. 

Our return to Maagan was in the rain. Another great touring day. 

MO -1/2/12.. ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE 
Rain day. Rained all night and still raining this morning. We drove by Nein where the widow’s child was raised from the dead and where the witch of Endor lived.  Mt. Tabor was on our right. The rain continued. 

Our first stop was at the Nazareth Overlook. The rain stopped for a few minutes and then returned.  

Zippori was our second stop. The rain stopped and the sun came out. Then after 30 minutes the rain returned with a vengeance. 

It rained heavily on the way to Megiddo.  We ate lunch and toured the site and the sun is now out. 

We are driving through the Jezreel Valley on the way to En Harod, Gideon Springs.  Along the way we visit the Jezreel Palace of Ahab and Jezebel and stop at Naboth’s Vineyard.  Just a little way east of us is Shunem and to our South are the Mts. Of Samaria.  What an Old Testament run.  Not far to the west is the area where Deborah Judged.  Our stop at En Harod was picturesque. It was a place of mighty acts of God. 

We had to get to Bet Shean quickly. They let us come in at closing and stay late. Yea. It is a huge Roman city from the time of Christ. The Tel dates back to occupation by Israel, Philistines, Egyptians and others in antiquity. It has a beautiful theater and Roman Mall. 

Last stop of the day at Aroma Coffee at the junction.  Back to Maagan, Bible study, fellowship, dinner and off to pack. Tomorrow we head to Jerusalem. 

TU -1/3/12. ..ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE
Devotional this morning on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. On the bus and off we go toward Jerusalem.  Just a few blocks away was our first stop-Aroma. Coffee to go and back on the road to Muhraqa-the Carmelite Monastery on Mt. Carmel.  This is the place where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal.  Great statue and excellent view. 

Caesarea Maritime was our next stop. So much happened at this site. It is the birthplace of Gentile Christianity. This site has Roman, Byzantine and Crusader antiquities. 

We had lunch in Or Akiva.  Amazing how quickly the day passes. We are on the road to Jerusalem. 

We arrived in Jerusalem and dropped Gilla our guide off and went on to Bethlehem.  Long wait at the Church of the Nativity but worth the wait. Visited Edward Tabash and then to our hotel in Jerusalem. Wonderful dinner, Bible study and off to bed. 

WE -1/4/12. ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE
Beautiful day-Crisp, cold-started our tour with morning devotional at Haas Promenade by Dr. Kelley. Extensive view of the Old City of Jerusalem from the south. Wow!

The Mt. Of Olives was next with camel riding and an outstanding eastern view of the Old City.  We walked down the Mt of Olives Ascent to Dominus Flavit where Jesus wept over the City of Jerusalem and David wept for Israel as he fled from Absolam.  After our devotional we continued down the Mt of Olives to the Church of All Nations and then across to a private garden in Gethsemane. 

Crossing the street in front of the Garden of Gethsemane is a real experience. 10 people trying to turn, go straight, get around parked cars and busses what a zoo. We connected with Avner and he took us up to the Damascus Gate where we entered the Old City. 

The walk into the Suk (shopping area) was crowded and hectic. It is different than any experience you’ve ever had. We connected with the Via Dolorosa and went to the Russian Orthodox Church of the Judgment Gate and then around to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. After our tour of the Holy Sepulcher we took an hour to shop in the Christian Quarter and then over to the Jewish Quarter for lunch. 

Moshe Kempenski lectured and interacted with us at Shorashim and the group had an hour to shop in the Jewish Quarter. 

Late in the day we walked down from the Jewish Quarter to the Kotel Tunnel Tour.  Seeing the foundation stones from Solomon’s Time for the Temple Mount is breathtaking. 

We had dinner at Ramat Rachel and Bible study and then to bed. I’m tired!

TH -1/5/12. TH..ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE
We began the day at Haas Promenade with Dr. Kelley leading our devotional.  Another sparkling day. 

Avner drove us around the old city to the Dung Gate where we planned to visit the Temple Mount but the line was too long and Avner picked us up and took us around the city again and we went into the Lion’s Gate visiting Bethesda, Church of St. Ann, Ecce Homo-Lithostrotos, Via Dolorosa and back to the Western Wall. 

Our appointment at the Davidson Museum was for 11am. This is the place that has a model of the Old City at different periods in history.  This is a very interesting model. 

We got in line for the Temple Mount at noon and were on the Temple Mount about 12:45pm.  We walked across the Temple Mount visiting various sites and then exiting by the Lion’s Gate. 

We went up to the Aroma French Hill for lunch.  I love their Sweet Potato Lentil Salad.  Their coffee is excellent.  

Avner took us out to Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.

FR – 1/6/12. .ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE
Rained most of the night and turned windy and cold. It didn’t look promising as we ate breakfast but by the time we got on the bus the weather was clearing.  In a very short time the sky cleared and the sun came out and it was a beautiful day. 

Today’s devotional was at the Haas Promenade overlooking the Old City from the south.  Dr. Dukes led us. 

Our next stop was the Upper Room where several including Don sang. Don did a Gregorian Chant.  All was superb. 

We jumped back on the bus and rode down to St. Peter in Gallicantu.  I love the Roman Stepped Way that comes right by the church and dates back before Christ. 

Ein Karem would be our next place to visit.  We walked down to Elizabeth’s Well and then up to the Church of John the Baptist.  This is a very picturesque little town just outside of Jerusalem. 

We had lunch at the mall in Mevaseret  Zion some at the Aroma and others at McDonalds or a sandwich place.  Nice mall and good to mingle with Israeli’s.  Everyone is friendly.  Avner parked in a space that was impossible to get the bus in but he did.  

We drove across Jerusalem to the North to Nabi Samuel at Mizpah of Gibeah.  This site dates back to before the time of the Judges.  The building, a Crusader building that has a synagogue downstairs and at one time housed a church and a mosque dominates the skyline.  Their is a wonderful view of the city of Jerusalem.  

Our last stop today was at the Hebrew University Overlook of the Dead Sea.  The rain last might cleared the air.  The Jordan Valley, Dead Sea, and Jericho were clearly visible. 

We went all the way across town to Ramat Rachel, our hotel and ended out touring day.  Dr. Dukes complete our study in Revelation.  Dr. Warren completed out study in Luke.  Dinner, pack for the return home and off to sleep shortly. 

SA – 1/7/12 – ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE
On the road to Jaffa for dinner on the Mediterranean.  We go from Jaffa to the airport and fly home.  It has been another good pilgrimage to Israel.  We are sad to leave and happy to be heading home.  

We began the day at the Herodion.  Luckily we were fresh for the climb.  The weather today is chilly and beautiful.  Herodion has a great 360 of the Judean Wilderness with towns such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Tekoa and several other Biblical towns. We could also see the Dead Sea and the mountains of Jordan. 

Our next stop was the Israel Museum. We visited the Jerusalem Model, the Shrine of the Book and the Museum collection. We spent about 3 hours. 

Then we drove across town to the Garden Tomb. We had a lecture, worship and communion.  It was just perfect. 

Our next trip was down the Elah Valley following the route David would have traveled to take food to his brothers when they were fighting the Philistines.  We stopped at the place where David fought and slayed Goliath.  Most everyone got smooth stones. 

This has been an excellent Israel Pilgrimage.  Pray for us as we pray for you. 

SU – 1/8/12- return home in the USA. Uneventful flight home!

NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!

ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE – NOV 18 TO 29, 2011

NOV 18- FR- depart USA on Delta

NOV 19- SA-arrive Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv and transfer to Kfar Maccabiah Hotel & Suites, 7 Perets Bernstein, Tel Aviv 52109, Israel

NOV 20- SU- early departure, devotional on the bus, travel south near where Samson and Delilah lived, by Bet Shemesh and finally into the Elah Valley where we will visit the site of the historic battle between David and Goliath. Tel Lachish about 40 kilometers from Jerusalem guarded the southern ascent to Jerusalem will be our next stop. We will then travel further south to Beersheva where we will have lunch then we will visit Tel Beersheva. It was the southernmost border of the Israelite kingdom. It is identified in the Biblical phrase “From Dan to Beersheva.” We will see Abraham’s well, the horned altar and the ancient tel. We will continue our drive south deep into the Negev region down route 40 for about 80 km to the little town of Mitzpe Ramon where we will visit the overlook above the huge Ramon Crater and then to Isrotel Ramon Inn Hotel where we will overnight. Our Bible study today will be before our evening meal.

NOV 21- MO- early breakfast, load our bus and depart our hotel in Mitzpe Ramon early and begin our journey north through the Negev Desert. Our daily devotional and then the first stop of the day at Avdat the greatest Nabatean city in the Negev. Avdat peaked as a city on the Spice Route from 37BC until 70AD. It is on a limestone hill overlooking the desert and is on the edge of the Wilderness of Zin that is one of the 7 wildernesses the Bible says Moses and the Israelites crossed in the Exodus from Egypt. Wilderness in Biblical and Middle Eastern terms generally means a desert (unlike what we think of wilderness as a heavily forested area.) At Avdat we will be especially interested in seeing the two churches on the site and the northern churches baptismal fonts. Avdat was destroyed by an earthquake in the 7th century AD and was never reoccupied. Our journey will continue north to Tel Arad an ancient Israelite fortress that is about 18 km west of the Dead Sea and then east descending to the Dead Sea where we will have lunch at Ein Bokek a tourist and therapeutic complex on the Dead Sea shores. After lunch we will visit Herod the Greats Masada and then continue north to visit Qumran were the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Our touring day will end with a quick dip in the Dead Sea so be sure to have your bathing suits ready. Our journey will continue north along the Jordan River into the Sea of Galilee region, thru Tiberias to our home for the next four nights at Maagan Kibbutz Hotel. Our Bible study will be before our evening meal.

NOV 22-TU- breakfast daily devotional and then we journey south to Beit Shean one of the cities of the Decapolis and one of the most ancient cities of Israel. Our next visit will be to Beit Alpha a Byzantine era synagogue located at the foot of Mount Gilboa. We will visit Megiddo next. It overlooks the Jezreel Valley and is one of the oldest cities in the world. Megiddo is built on a mount that overlooks two key trade roads between Egypt and Assyria and the Phoenician cities and Jerusalem. We will travel from Megiddo to the Nazareth Overlook for a panoramic view of Nazareth and the surrounding area. Our drive back to our hotel will be through the Galilean countryside and down to the Sea of Galilee to Maagan Kibbutz Hotel. Our Bible study will be before our evening meal.

NOV 23- WE-breakfast, daily devotional, Sea of Galilee boat ride and then our journey north thru the Golan where we will first visit Ben Tal, and lunch in the Druze Village of Masade. We will then travel to Caesarea Philippi where we will visit the Gates of Hades and Herod Agrippa’s palace. Our next site will be Tel Dan located at the foot of Mt. Hermon and the Golan Heights. This site will include a visit to the high place of Jeroboam, the Abraham Gate from about 1800 BC, and the Ahab Gate. We will complete our touring day by driving south through the Hula Valley and back to Maagan Kibbutz Hotel on the Sea of Galilee. Our Bible study will be before our evening meal.

NOV 24- TH- breakfast, daily devotional and visits to the Christian sites around the Sea of Galilee. This will include the Mount of Beatitudes, Chorazin, Capernaum, and the Primacy of Peter. Our lunch will be at a falafel stand in Migdal. We will now proceed up from the Sea of Galilee into the Galilee region where we will visit Sepphoris a Roman city that has beautiful mosaics and was the capital of the Galilee region during the Roman occupation. Sepphoris was a prosperous town at the time of Jesus and was only a few miles from Nazareth. We will end our tour day with a drive back across the Galilee down to Maagan Kibbutz Hotel on the Sea of Galilee. Our Bible study will be before our evening meal. This will be our last night in the Galilee.

NOV 25- FR-breakfast, load the bus, set our faces for Jerusalem. The daily devotional is on the bus as we drive across the Galilee. Our first stop is Mt. Carmel where Elijah slew the prophets of Baal. On a clear day the view from here is stunning. Back on the bus and drive south through the Jokneam Pass and down to Caesarea by the Sea. We will see the theater, Herod’s house on the sea, the hippodrome and the Crusader City. We will stop for lunch as we sprint towards Jerusalem. Along the way we will read the Psalms of Ascent and discuss current and historical events related to Jerusalem. We will arrive in Jerusalem and go straight to Bethlehem to Manger Square and visit the Church of the Nativity. Afterward we will have a time for shopping in Bethlehem. We will depart Bethlehem and drive to Ramat Rachel where we will be staying in Jerusalem. Bible study will be after dinner tonight.

NOV 26- SA-breakfast then on the bus and we will have our daily devotional at the Promenade Overlook of Jerusalem. We will visit the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Church of all nations and then up to the Old City of Jerusalem. We will walk into the Old City through what used to be the Sheep Market and enter through the Lion Gate. Our first stop will be the Church of St. Anne and the pool of Bethesda. Continuing up the street we will go to the beginning of the Via Dolorosa at the Ecce Homo Convent where we will visit the Lithostrotos Pavement and then begin our journey on the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We will identify several of the stations on the Via Dolorosa, including a stop at the Russian Orthodox Church and see the Judgment Gate through which Jesus would have passed on his walk to Calvary. Continuing on the Via Dolorosa we will walk around the corner into the complex of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We will have some time for shopping in the Christian Quarter of the Old City and return to Ramat Rachel about 5:30pm for our Bible Study and dinner.

NOV 27-SU- breakfast then on the bus and we will have our daily devotional at the Promenade Overlook of Jerusalem. We will visit the Temple Mount, the Kotel Tunnel and the Davidson Museum and Southern Steps of the Temple. We will walk up to Hurva Square in the Jewish Quarter where we will have our lunch and a visit with Moshe Kempenski at Shorashim. We will have some time for shopping in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and return to Ramat Rachel about 6:00pm for our Bible Study and dinner.

NOV 28-MO- last breakfast in Israel after which we will load the bus and begin our day with our daily devotional at the Promenade Overlook of Jerusalem. We will begin at the Upper Room. Afterward we will walk over to St. Peter in Gallicantu where we will see the location of Peter’s denial of Jesus, a Roman Stepped Way from the time of Jesus, the Assumptionist Church St. Peter in Gallicantu built over a traditional location for the house of Caiaphas and an overlook of the City of David and a Southern view of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. Yad Vashem’s Holocaust Museum will be our next stop and then the Israel Museum Shrine of the Book. Our visit to Jerusalem will be completed at the Garden Tomb located not many steps from the Damascus Gate. After the Garden Tomb we will begin our trip to Tel Aviv. We will visit several sites along the way to Jaffa where we will have our evening meal. Then on to the airport for our 11:55pm flight home.

NOV 29-TU- arrive home in the US by late morning