Spiritual Formation in The Holy Land

November 24, 2012

Paul's Perspective on The Two Seas:

These past two days were really spiritually fulfilling for me. Although we saw many historic Biblical sites, two were especially relaxing and peaceful for me.I enjoyed floating on the Dead Sea and sailing on the Sea of Galilee. I almost missed the opportunity to float on the Dead Sea because of what I thought would be a hassle in cleaning off the salt after having already been clean. With a little "encouragement" from Valerie, who reminded me I would likely regret it, I "got passed myself" and decided to go.I love being near bodies of water.Whether they are oceans, lakes, seas, or streams, I feel that places like this give me a setting where I am more receptive and feel God's presence. Because I have experienced this, I have realized that this retreat to bodies of water is necessary for my soul and spiritual development.


Valerie's Perspective on The Dead Sea:

One of my highlights of the trip was floating in the Dead Sea! It was so refreshing, relaxing, and energizing! One of the themes of our trip has been seeing these places where Jesus retreated. He went away from the crowds sometimes. This has gained a new meaning for me. Although the sea was crowded, it was like a 15 minute retreat for me. Perhaps the most fun, most energy Ihave received was there at the Dead Sea, salt and all. The purity of the salt cleansed our skin and our spirits. This was a nice break in the busy routine that we have experienced on much of the trip.


Cathleen's Perspective on The Bible and Peter's House:

People often say that the Bible will come alive as you travel through Israel. It is true. But it is also true that there are so many parts of the Bible that will read differently for me. At the end of today, our guide told us about the Israeli government bringing the "remnant" of Ethiopian Jews back to Israel in 1991 (17,000 of them). When the Ethiopians landed in Israel, they fell on their knees and quoted Isaiah 40: 31. They truly felt God bring them on wings like eagles. I will not be able to read that verse the same again. These people had not seen electricity and were in rags. They found liberty and praised God for it.

Being here on the Sabbath brought to mind that the day really starts in the evening, at sunset, as stated in Genesis. So many things were explained to us from the Jewish perspective. When we visited the Sea of Galilee today, we learned that Jesus never would have visited Tiberias. It was a pagan town. Jesus only spent time in the upper west part of the sea. He did go "to the other side" (to get away from the crowd) that time when he performed the miracle of the swine. He did not go with that purpose. it was obviously a gentile area since there were pigs.

There are so many things. I wish I would have studied Hebrew. It's not too late . . . well, not to study it but to spend time researching more of the words that I just read over and assume my English translation is literal. For instance, there have never been deer in Israel. But rather it is the ibex that the Psalms talk about.

One of the places we visited that was really memorable was what is known to be Peter's house. It was just the foundation of the house but it showed how it was circular and it is amazing to think how many people lived in the small space. And there was an eight sided wall built around that. This is the first house church!

It surprised me that so many of the places we read where Jesus ministered was so close together. But then there were places where he took his disciples to get away from the crowds that were so far away.


Lupe's Perspective on the Western Wall:

Even though we know it as the Wailing Wall, but we wail because we want to wail our prayers to the Lord. People here call it the Western Wall and find the term "Wailing Wall" offensive because they have regained the land of Jerusalem. As you enter, you have to walk with a purpose towardthe wall. Once you get to the wall, a lot of people are praying in different ways: people touch the wall, they grieve the Wall. I had a special mission. I not only took my own prayers, I took the prayers of others with me. Although my friends' prayers atthewall, it was only symbolic because it was as if they were praying there. This is what remains of God's temple until He returns. As we left the wall, we had to walk backwards inreverencefor God and not turn our back to Him.

Geoff's Perspective on the Mount of The Beatitudes:

After admiring the peaceful atmosphere and beautiful scenery of the place Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, I was surprised to learn that instead of envisioning that Jesus was speaking on top of the hill, down to the people, Jesus was actually down below the people as they were around and above Him on the mountain. I know God always has a reason for doing everything. I realized that He was down lower to better project His voice, as He did not have a microphone to speak to the large crowds. After walking in the footsteps of Jesus, I realize why I pray - to walk humbly before Him.

The end of the journey

This will be our last post of this journey. We head home tomorrow (Sunday). It will not be the last of our thoughts and words though. On December 2, we will give a presentation with photos and video as well as more stories on our trip to Israel. 7:00 pm, we will provide refreshments at Clovis Christian Church. Let us know if you can come!