Saturday, December 31, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May you bask in the provision, protection, and pleasure of God this year. Blessings to you friends!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Quote!

The raging river of death is so treacherous that no one dare cross it without the bridge of peace built by God.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Quote!

Better to be young and have heeded biblical counsel than old and have regretted not listening to instruction...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Quote!

The reason many of us do not do much soul searching is because we are rightly afraid of what we will find.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quote!



The graveyard of your faults is not bigger than the garden of grace that God is cultivating for you. Live in the beauty of God's grace toward you today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Christmas in November? Stop. Just Stop.

As I write this blog I am sitting in California, in shorts, and looking out the window at sunny skies with 78 degrees of a perfect day. And then it happened...the first Christmas song came over the radio. It's November 14. Thanksgiving has not even happened yet. Something is terribly wrong. The song is about reindeer bells jingling on the rooftops, snow falling, and jolly old saint Nicholas. Or something like that.

Needless to say the song immediately put me in a confused state of mind. I didn't know whether to run outside to try and make a snow ball or drop on the ground to form a snow angel in the driveway, or to start baking some cookies...but I don't bake. Also, dropping to the ground and trying to make a snow angel in the driveway would cause me to get a concussion from the cement and tear my skin as it rubbed on the blacktop. No snow here.

The question remained, "Why would they do this to me over 40 days before Christmas?" And why would they let Frosty the snowman be played over and over getting me to think Christmas is here? Is nothing sacred? Nothing holy? Look at all the happy children!


It was so bothersome the channel had to be changed. I was not ready to process Christmas this early in the year. My head and heart revolted.

Yet as I typed this, I realized it was not the holiday I was not ready for, but the popular, commercial side of Christmas was what I didn't want to transition to. I came to recognize that I loved Jesus all the time and I didn't ever feel the need to get an emotional 'season' to fit him into.

After all, the first Christians didn't even celebrate his birth. Interesting.

Of course, most people hardly care about Jesus during Christmas because of the commercialism that has invaded our lives but I want to cherish him without all the trappings of 'holidays'. Nothing wrong with a little snow and hot chocolate and a song about a fat man in a red suit that never existed, but I aways want to honor Jesus above all.

Everything has it's place. And commercial Christmas? Let's at least wait until after Thanksgiving please!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How does your 'good' compare to mine? Take the quiz!



I love quizzes!

At the death of most important, world-changing people, I hear many people refer to the fact that the deceased person is 'in heaven' or 'looking down on us smiling' or 'is partying with their friends' or in a 'better place'. And the rational for this person being 'in heaven' or 'a better place' or whatever is usually all the good, joy, happiness or brilliance they have brought to the world or to the person speaking about them.

So, it got me thinking, "What good have I done that would qualify me, if that is the standard for 'heaven' or the 'better place'?" See how many of these 'goods' you can claim for yourself...get your calculator out. Ready? Go!

I have comforted many people who have lost a loved one after performing their loved one's funeral (+3)
I never slept around and married Julee as a virgin (+5)
I have never done illegal drugs (+2)
I pay my taxes and have never been delinquent (+2)
I have raised my son to be a strong, athletic, caring, straight A student (+3)
I have never hit my wife, nor hardly ever raised my voice or talked down to her (+3)
I have been married for 17 years and never cheated on my wife, even in my heart (+4)
I have rarely used profanity my whole life, even in anger (+2)
I have led mission trips around the world to help those less fortunate than myself (+5)
I chose a life of financial uncertainty and lower end pay to serve others when I graduated near the top of my police academy class and had multiple opportunities to do something more lucrative (+6)
I have never murdered anyone nor rarely ever even wished someone would die (+2)
I have never raped anyone (+2)
I was rarely disrespectful to my parents or adults in general (+3)
I have treated women with respect my whole life (+2)
I have served the poor and homeless food many times in poor neighborhoods and LA shelters--pictured above (+4)
I have given shelter to those who needed a place to stay in my own home for years at a time (+5)
I have given money to those who were in dire straights never expecting repayment (+4)
I have never abused my animals but have loved and provided for them (+2)
I have constantly sacrificed personal and family time to be there for others in their time of need (+3)
I have been a father to the fatherless, supporting those who were not my children out of my own pocket (+4)
I have clothed those who needed new clothes (+2)
I have supported the weary and those who were ready to give up by counseling them for hours at a time (+2)
I have risked my own life by breaking into houses that were on the verge of burning down while others stood outside to see if anyone was alive, rescuing pets and calling the fire department (+5)
I have rescued marriages and families on the verge of divorce (+3)
I have talked people out of suicide (+4)
I have coached my son's soccer, basketball, baseball and football teams (+2)
I have written songs that have brought joy and hope to people around the world (+2)
I have continually performed duties for others outside my job requirements that people fail to pay me for (+2)
I often suffer disrespect and gossip while pouring my life into others (+2)
I have made being at home for dinner and praying daily with my family a priority (+3)
I have tried to talk highly of others even if they have not done the same for me (+2)
I have visited strangers in prison to give them hope (+2)
I have rarely been in default on a debt my whole life (+1)
I have been a loyal friend and try to put others ahead of myself (+1)
I have visited the elderly and sick in their homes or in the hospital to encourage and bring them joy on my own time (+3)
I got the presidential award for physical fitness 4 times, was president of Students Against Drunk Driving, sat on the student council, was chosen for Boys State by the American Legion, and got more medals and awards then I could fit on a letter jacket in high school (+4)
I have written published articles and poetry to bring awareness and encouragement to others (+1)

Well, how did you do? Looks like my score is 107 for the things I could remember in 10 minutes sitting in front of the computer. How does my list make you feel? Bad, because you got a low score? Great, because you have done all these things and MORE? Jealous because scoring over 100 in anything is a great score?

Now, what if you and I were to list the 'bad' things we have done and that score was higher than our 'good' score and we died 30 seconds from reading this? Where will you end up? In 'heaven' or the 'better place' or 'hell' or the 'bad place'?

The reality is that everything I wrote above is true but the score or value I gave to those things is arbitrary and of my own making. What if all those things above is equal to....zero? In fact, those things above are things that I should do just because I am human, not because I am 'good'. But unfortunately many of those examples are 'above and beyond' what most would do. Which actually shows you less of how 'great' a person I am and more of how wicked and unable to do 'good' people are in general. And how much we need the grace of God to get through this life and be saved in the next life.

It is a popular idea to look at the external of someone's life and say 'that person deserves good in the next life because they did good in this life'. But the issue is never 'good'. You should be doing that anyway. The issue is 'perfection' which we will never be without the grace of God. I need God to make me pleasing to Him. He did this through sending Himself, Jesus--who was God in the flesh, to forgive my sin on the cross--which outweighs my 'good' even if that was the standard.

It reminds me of Jesus' words:

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matt. 16:24-26

Today, purge from your mind the idea that God is 'impressed' with your good or someone else's. Do 'good' because you are human. 'Repent' because you are a sinner in need of grace. Once grace is found, then the 'good' actually means something--because you are emulating the God who loves you and loves others through you.

Be blessed today friend!

Jim

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

God's Spiritual Groundhog's Day



In the 1993 movie 'Groundhog's Day', Bill Murray's character is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he can learn to give up his selfishness. This mind-numbing reality of going through the same motions and conversations and experiences day after day would drive any sane person to insanity. In fact, it is precisely this idea that drives Murray's character to change--because he couldn't stand doing the same things over and over infinitely never having a real 'life'.

As I have been teaching through the books of the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and now having just finished the book of Joshua at Revive, I am struck with the nearly unbelievable idea that God, who is eternal, has to deal with the SAME issues with EACH person--ALL the time. Not only has God had to deal with sinful people who act the same, speak the same, and think the same since He created the first one (Adam) in the garden of Eden, but He has to reteach each new generation the same things over and over and over and over and over and...well, you get the idea.

Looking at the history of people in their interaction with God, the Bible records that God has to patiently work with each new generation almost from scratch. Imagine that. It is not just one person who God must connect with, convict, convert, counsel, comfort, correct, and care for, but billions of people. Each person, their whole lives. Everyday (which it's always continually 'day' somewhere where people are awake doing something, so there is no 'break' for God).

So, right now God must manage trillions of decisions for the 6 billion people on earth at this moment. This is not to mention the billions of people who have already existed since the beginning of time. Meaning God as been 'reliving' the same issues and problems (and also joys and happiness) over and over and over for thousands of years for billions of people that have made trillions of decisions. Wow. That kind of patience for humanity is unreal. Beyond comprehension. This is an aspect of God I have never really considered until I started to see the sinful patterns of humanity played out on the pages of the Bible in a continuous, irritating and embarassing storyline.

I am amazed by God for many things. However this new appreciation for Him and His love for humanity to save and love and shepherd us is mind-blowing. We get mad when our child or spouse or dog won't listen after the second or third time, imagine trillions of times...
"Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Romans 2:4

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
Wow. True. Thank God!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hungry? Thanksgiving every Sunday.

Hunger does strange things to people. It can cause people to become irritable. It can make people lose focus. It is so important that the hungrier people become, the more desperate they usually become. Even the current marketing strategy for Snickers is 'You're not you when you're hungry'.



There have been times when I have been so hungry I have dreamt about food and almost tasted the food. In fact, we are so biologically designed to desire food that we start to automatically salivate when we smell or see food we enjoy. The Bible says the same is true of our souls.

Humans are designed with an insatiable appetite for God. This comes out in the form of worship or 'giving worth to something or someone'. Worship is a value system instituted by a person for the depth of control surrendered to another entity. The only problem is, instead of turning to God and giving Him the attention and devotion due Him, humans worship self and self interest. So they end up trying to fill their correct appetite for God with the superficial vanity of self. It is similar to trying to fill your starving stomach with the air of a balloon. Although you may become bloated, it does not produce health nor long term satisfaction.

This brings us to spiritual eating. Where do you get 'fed'? Although it is true we must feed on God's word individually, especially in our day and age when we have God's word in almost every format imaginable--written on paper, digital documents, video and audio, the Bible says God has chosen special men to speak His words to His people. This is known as the 'church' gathered together to learn together. I have had many great and rewarding times with God by myself studying and absorbing His word, but I have had the most consistently spiritually rewarding moments with others gathered together to learn and worship.

Every Sunday should be a thanksgiving holiday. Every sermon should be a thanksgiving dinner. Every believer should be a thanksgiving participant. Everyone should leave church well fed on the word of God. Shame on the spiritual shepherds that starve their flock with their own words or teach an unbalanced perspective on God to the harm of their sheep. Deception runs rampant in our world and unsuspecting, spiritually starving people wander around looking for food and they eat whatever is near them no matter how unhealthy. How damning that they cannot find a good meal in churches many of them attend!

What kind of climate are we in that much of the preaching that reaches peoples ears is neither healthy nor biblical. It might not tickle the ear all the time but if it is what is needed to bring wholeness then let it be brought forward. I fear for shepherds who keep throwing out sermons of 'peace and happiness' when it is like filling the stomachs of their flock with air rather than food they can use. Their souls may indeed want to passionately pursue God but they are so malnourished they cannot follow.

You are designed to worship God and burn with the energy given from God's word. May we find it this Sunday--this 'thanksgiving'!

Monday, August 1, 2011

quote!

A marriage is the relentless light that exposes either your unquenchable selfishness or your unreserved servitude. You cannot serve yourself and your spouse simultaneously--one will flourish while the other one dies.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Quote!

Human coincidence is God's sovereignty being used without your knowlege.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

quote!


churches need to worry less about who is coming and more about if Jesus shows up...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

your ignorance of, anger towards and rebellion against the Everlasting will not last.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Soul Soaking


What if you were deathly allergic to water? Possible? Well, no. Considering you are made up majorly of water, I guess you wouldn't be alive then. In fact if you really are alive, you not only don't have any aversions to water but an actual craving for it. This is especially pronounced when there is a lack of it in your body.

Water. So underappreciated but so vital. Water. Without it there is death. With it there is life. So simple yet so profound. I can remember playing beach volleyball on the Central Coast in a tournament and my partner and I had been playing for almost 4 hours and I was the thirstiest I had ever been. Although I was drinking fluids, I couldn't get enough and during the last match I started to tingle all over and some of my muscles began to convulse and my mouth was like someone had stuffed cotton in it. We ended up winning but for more than a day I had no energy and drank like a fish until I wasn't nauseous anymore. (do fish really 'drink'?)

This is similar to God. We as humans are spiritual creatures. We desire spiritual connection more than water some times. People can attempt to fill their spiritual thirst with athletics, relationships, drugs, sexual conquest, scientific ponderings or what-have-you but it never really satisfies. Jesus said "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37, 38) Jesus claimed to be the 'living water' and that whoever drank from Him would never thirst again in a spiritual sense.

Can you say you don't spiritually thirst anymore? Are all your needs and desires for divine connection satisfied. Without Christ they will not be....they cannot be for He is God. How good it is to drink true, pure, unadulterated water....free and freely. How much better to find refreshment for your spirit that proceeds from the Spirit of God.

Drink deeply my friend. Drink deeply from Jesus in His word, the Bible. Find the nourishment for your soul that you crave.
Bottoms up!

Friday, March 25, 2011

your daughter looks like a prostitute--poisoned femininity



A tremendously insightful article from the Wall Street Journal by a woman who grew up in the 'sexual liberation' movement. The movement of the 60's and 70's promised to 'unshackle' women from the home, modesty constraints and free them to be as sexually aggressive as men.

The problem became that it brought women not into liberation but bondage to their new reality. Ironically it helped to solidify men's objectifiying of women as sex objects as they cared less and less about modesty. It also gave men the freedom to view women as men by role and let them 'take care of themselves' as they now were out in the workforce. This reality made it all the easier for men to abandon their wives and families. Although there was nothing wrong with women getting great careers, the family became last priority to money and job and no one was left at home at all.

Now a post-liberated woman writes for the Wall Street Journal (of all places!) about her sexual regrets and how the values from her day have poisoned feminity for her daughters. Great journalism.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703899704576204580623018562.html

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

radiate



Looking at the devastating pictures coming out of Japan has been heart wrenching. To think that thousands of people lost their lives during the quake and resulting tsunami is tough to consider. Japan is the 10th largest population in the world and the 3rd wealthiest as far as economic production goes. Because they are an island nation and the majority of their national power lies near the coastline, a massive unstoppable wave is a nightmare come true for them.

I have friends who are missionaries in Japan and it is extremely difficult spiritual ground. The vast majority of the nation identifies itself as Buddhist or Shintoist but it is more of a cultural religion than one that most people are devoted to. In reality, Japan is an atheistic society that prides itself on wealth through production of goods and services to the world. After the near fatal crippling of the nation after World War II and the help of primarily the United States to get Japan growing again, they became a world super-power. Since that time they have become focused on education and economic growth. Japan is less than 2% followers of Christ.

Unfortunately both education and national wealth cannot stop a natural disaster and cannot prepare anyone who dies from such an event for the eternal reality that happens after death. All of a sudden Japan is in a state of panic after one large earthquake and wave. One. It is amazing to see that one event can bring a nation to its knees in moments. It is a sobering thought to consider that it can happen to any place at any time.

One thing that has not been fully realized yet is the damage to some of the nuclear reactors on the coastline. I heard this morning that radiation has leaked out into the atmosphere surrounding the reactors and people are told to stay inside until it can be dealt with. Although it seems to be low levels at this point it will be interesting to see how people are affected in the coming years as people were during the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl nuclear disasters.

Jesus has been reaching out to Japan for centuries. So why would God allow this? Just like in our personal lives, it is often the hardest times that are used to break the hardest hearts. The dark is necessary to see the light. Rarely do wealth and ease produce an acknowledgement of God and the resulting pursuit of His glory. The destruction of pride is necessary to precede the desire for righteousness.

Just as the nuclear reactors are spilling out poison because they have cracked, spiritually I pray that the heart of Japan will crack and the poison of an empty, false belief system will pour out so it can be met with the love of God for the Japanese. I pray that the true Christians in Japan and those around the world who will come into contact with them through this disaster will 'radiate' the love of Jesus and bring many to salvation.

"You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden" Jesus, Matthew 5:14

Radiate. Glow with the love of God. May it be true of us today.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


God often uses His gentle hands to violently dismantle the hideous construct our sin has built. Then He uses His strong hands to gently rebuild our lives in His glorious image.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Humility is the art of painting yourself out of the picture.
Living with humility is dying to your own agenda which allows the birth of God's plan in your life.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SUPER BO(W)LD

As the western hemisphere (well, at least the U.S.) gets ready for the biggest event on the advertising calendar--the Super Bowl--I am yearly amazed by its massive popularity. For prime time advertising during the Super Bowl, advertisers are paying up to $2.8 million dollars...for 30 seconds! This unbelievable amount of money for air space shows the audience density to watch this game--100 million viewers held captive for 3 hours. Advertisers are bold for their product, often pushing the boundaries of good taste and decency to get their product remembered.

The funny thing is that for most people who do not watch, or care, about football during the season, this game is special only because of the importance it has to those people in their life who really love the game. So for all the wives and girlfriends and others who would never watch 5 seconds of a game usually, they will watch this game because their acquaintances are so excited about it...and they like the funny commercials.

This got me to thinking about the things that people get excited about. I love football and played football most of my life and get excited to see a great game. But I know the game will only last a couple of hours and if it is a lame game then I will lose interest faster than that. I will invite people to my house to watch a game or spend $70 a month to have cable TV so I can get the games or put on special jerseys or buy special food for the game or cancel other obligations if the game is important enough.

All this for a game that will last about 2.5 hours. All this for a game that has no real bearing on my everyday life. All this for players and broadcasters and advertisers who don't care about me or my family or if I will drop dead tomorrow. All this excitement and focus for very little payoff. All this time and money for a piece of fleeting entertainment.

Am I bold with my 'Product'? Do I tell others about the Greatness of what I know? Do I get this excited about the things of God? Do I get this overwhelmed with looking forward to being at church hearing God's word and being with God's people? Do I arrange my schedule so nothing interferes with my time with Him and other believers? Do I spend my money on things that glorify Him and am I generous to the church so they can facilitate ministry? Do I really care about things that last more than 2.5 hours a year? Do I really focus on things that will go on into eternity or just some temporary entertainment that may or may not be exciting at all?

God is the ultimate excitement. Get excited for God. You are the advertising. The sacrifice Jesus paid for you was greater than $2.7 million...and His life lasts longer than 30 seconds. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Science recognizes 'Noah's flood' but calls it 'the great dying'! Read this.


Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees. Scientists see what they call a 'great dying' of a massive amount of animals (both land and aquatic), plant life (both land and aquatic) in a fossilized state.

No one knows how they got there. No one knows why land and sea creatures and land and sea plants got buried together in a massive graveyard. No one knows why some creatures survived the 'great dying' and others did not. No one knows why it hasn't happened again. No one knows why it happened the first time.

Read the AOL article here http://www.aolnews.com/2010/12/22/fossil-find-shows-how-life-recovered-after-great-dying/?icid=main|hp-desktop|dl1|sec3_lnk3|191577&a_dgi=aolshare_email

The reality is that for something to become fossilized it takes a very specific set of parameters (quick burial, permanent sealing of the organism, mineral 'swap out' of organic material, etc.). In other words, something does not just 'die' and become a fossil. Though fossilization does not take a long time with the right circumstances, very few fossils are being made today. Why? Because it usually takes extraordinary circumstances to make a fossil. This is not to mention how land and sea creatures (as in 'millions') could be buried in the same place which is unheard of given the earth's current reality. This finding mirrors the 'Cambrian Explosion' fossil sites as well.

An excellent article on this fossilization phenomena is described here http://www.lewisdt.com/research/fossil3.html

Even the idea that volcanos or a huge meteor could have created a death scenario for the atmostphere of the earth to bring about death all over the earth does not explain fossilization. It just means there would have been a lot of carcasses to lay around and rot.

But the bible says in Genesis 7 that the fountains of the deep were opened which caused upheaval of the subterranian plates not only causing flooding but the quick burial of land and sea creatures together.

Read the tragic account of the earth's darkest days here. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+7&version=NIV

Yet again, modern scientific findings support the biblical story that has been around for 4000 years.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Science disproves evolution.

Check this out.



I found it oddly hilarious that scientific research has definitively concluded that a fully-matured chicken must have come first because in order to form the egg shell from which a chicken must develop, it first needs a protien only found in a hen's (female chicken) ovary. The only other option was...just a random egg sitting on the ground waiting to hatch to bring about 'chickendom'?

I also found the expression at the end of the Brian Williams video oddly hilarious as well when he reiterates that the scientists have not figured out where the first chicken came from. Although couched in humor, it shows how people are resistant to accept the plain testimony of Genesis where the uncreated God created all things 'up and running' with full grown adults capable of procreating.

Here is the article. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38238685/ns/technology_and_science-science/
Strange how science proves the premise of scripture.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Israel day 10 (click on any picture below for HD)

An old olive tree in the garden of Gethsemane (which means 'oil press') which is the place where Jesus spent His last night before He died. It was in this garden that He prayed if there might be another way for God's wrath to be satisfied than to be poured out on Him for the sin of the world. There was not. His Father sent Him to die out of this garden once He was arrested after being betrayed by Judas in Luke 22:39-54.


I am standing next to a first century example of the tomb Jesus was buried in after being tortured and killed on a cross. It was in here that Jesus spent three days (died on Friday, dead over the day of rest--Sabbath, then rose on the morning of Sunday, which is why most Christians get together for worship on that day) as told in Luke 24. Once He arose He went to tell His disciples who were so scared they were hiding lest they be crucified as well.


The front of the modern-day Mount of Olives (Gethsemane). There are thousands of above-ground tombs scattered all over the mountain. Mostly, these are people who believe they will be the first to resurrect when the Messiah appears. We know this as Jesus who will return to the Mount from which He left after leaving for heaven as recounted in Acts 1. I like the fervent belief.


The Lion's Gate (you can see the lions facing each other on each side of the door). This gate dates from the 1500's being built by the conquorer Suleiman. Once you enter, the Temple mount is directly to your left. It has no real biblical significance, I just thought the gate was cool!

This ends my tour of Israel. I will be posting more pictures when I get back to the States as well as keeping everyone updated on the over 40 videos we shot in the land from which many of these pictures were from the locations. You will be amazed to see these places all shot on location in high def!

Blessings!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Israel day 9

Our group at the stairs leading to the original entrance to the Temple on the south side. We are reading the Psalms of Ascent where Jewish pilgrims coming to worship on three festival days throughout the year would read Psalms 120-134 one at a time as they were on each step. These 15 steps of ascent would prepare the worshiper to enter God's presence and keep the person from rushing into God's presence unprepared.


Tracy, Barrett and I scouting out a shooting location on the wall built by the conquorer Sulemain to protect the city in the 1500's. We were trying to get a good spot to shoot the Hinnom valley that Jesus used as an illustration of hell in Matthew 10:28 as it had the city dump in it which was full of non-stop burning fires and worms that continually lived and bred in it.


Chris, Barrett and Tracy down in Hezekiah's Tunnel which he carved out of solid rock for over 1700 feet to bring water into the city from the Gihon spring as described in 2 Kings 2:20. It is one of the marvels of ancient engineering. In parts it is only 5 feet tall and about 2 feet wide so claustrophobics do not apply! The water on the day we went was about 12-18 inches deep.


Barrett, Tracy, me and Chris at the end of the tunnel near the pool of Siloam which is where Jesus told the blind man to wash his eyes in John 9.


This is a picture of the southeast corner of the Temple mount where Jesus was tempted to jump by satan during His 40 days of temptation from Matthew 4. This was a temptation because thousands of people would have been walking up the stairs just to the left of this picture so Jesus could have landed without injury or death in front of everyone proving that He was the Messiah. Jesus does not give in to prematurely presenting Himself as the Messiah nor being challenged to pridefully use His divine powers to 'show off'. The drop is over 100 feet.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Israel day 8

An empty former muslim mosque outside of Jerusalem that remembers the burial of the prophet Samuel. Now it sits on Crusader ruins and has nothing to do with Jesus or biblical history I just wanted to take an artsy photo...


A school of young orthodox Jewish boys on a school outing. They wear their hair that way based on an understanding of Leviticus 19:27.


This is a 1:50 scale model of Herod's Temple that stood in Jesus' day. Notice how it dominates Jerusalem's skyline. Inside the Temple would be the Holy of Holies where the ark of the covenant stood on the rock where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac. It is all gone today as the Roman General Titus demolished it in 70 AD and it has never been rebuilt as Jesus prophesied 40 years earlier in Mark 13:2.


I am standing in front of the valley and hills that surround Bethlehem from Luke 2. These are the same local hills where the shepherds would have been grazing their flocks when the angels announced that Jesus, the savior of the world, was born in the city of David. The shepherds walked into Bethlehem and found Jesus lying in a feeding trough for animals and they saw with their own eyes God come in the flesh.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Israel day 7!

Me standing along the shores of the Jordan river where Jesus was baptized by John the baptist in John 1. That water is cold!
Myself standing on the shores of Galilee as the sun was coming up over the sea. This would have been similar to when Jesus walked and talked with His disciples during the early morning hours.


Myself, Chris, Barrett and Tracy standing on the front of a ship as it takes us across the sea of Galilee. This would have been the way fishermen went out to sea to catch fish and the same lake that Jesus walked on water to meet them during the storm in John 6.


Chris and Tracy by a pool of water from the head of the Jordan river up north in Dan (which is the northern most part of Israel). Here in Dan a temple shrine was built for the northern Kingdom during the split kingdoms of Israel and God punished the tribes that went to it in 1 Kings 12.




Sunday, January 2, 2011

Israel day 6

Climbing along the ridge of Mount Arbel that overlooks the Sea of Galilee. Down below in the valley is the passage way from northern Galilee to Jerusalem which Abraham would have taken when he was called by God to leave Ur and go to the land of Canaan which would someday become Israel. This is also one of the ways Jesus would have made His way from Galilee down to the southern parts of Israel. That little valley has seen some great men roll through it!


Once we made it to the top here is myself standing at the peak of Mt. Arbel. Down below is the Sea of Galilee. Off in the distance over my right shoulder up in the fog is Capernaum where Jesus lived and had His ministry headquarters. Mt. Arbel is thought by many to be the mountain where Jesus went to to spend the night in prayer as it is only a few miles from Capernaum. It is also possibly the mountain where, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul refers to the risen Jesus showing Himself alive to 500 brothers at once up in Galilee. Mt. Arbel has a large flat spot which I am facing on the other side of the camera.


One of the places I was looking forward to being the most--the synagogue at Capernaum. This was Jesus' home 'church' where He spent a lot of time and taught. I am standing where Jesus stood after He fed the 5000 men in John 6 and they followed Him to Capernaum. They wondered why He had left them on the shores of Galilee on the other side and how He had gotten there so fast. (they didn't realize He walked on water to get here so He took the 'short cut' across! lol) Jesus stood in this spot and told them to follow Him they had to 'eat' His flesh and 'drink' His blood. Although He was speaking figuratively, this was shocking enough to drive almost everyone away who didn't bother to hang around and become a true disciple to find out what Jesus was referring to. (His death on the cross and communion which remembers it) This was a very surreal moment for me as I realized I was preaching the exact passage that Jesus spoke from that very spot. Humbling to stand on the same ground as the Master communicator!!!


This is a 1st century fishing boat that they pulled out of the mud when Galilee was very low after a severe drought. You can see how having 12 grown men in this small boat would become a problem when the storm came down on them while they were on the Sea of Galilee and why Jesus had to come rescue them!


I am realxing on a rock in Tagba from John 21 where Jesus reinstated Peter after his dismal failures. I am contemplating the goodness of God for sinful fishermen like Peter who ate fish cooked by Jesus on the shore to my right. When Peter is asked about his love for Jesus he reponds positively without saying a wholehearted 'yes'. Jesus then goes on to ask him two more times to which Peter is hurt as Jesus asked him three times in a row. This passage makes the point that Jesus puts our devotion to Him to the test often and even when we fail he is ready to forgive and pick us up and move us on! Thank you for grace today Jesus!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Israel day 5

I am sitting in front of the ampitheater at Cesarea Maritima on the coast of the Mediterranian Sea. This impressive structure was built by Herod the Great around 20 BC to bring some Greek culture to Israel in hopes of attracting tourism and business to his area. Acts 12 records that around 34 AD Herod's grandson, Herod Antipas I was having disputes with surrounding people groups but they came to gather here to ask for peace. While this stadium was packed with over 4000 people he came out in his silver-stranded robes and as he spoke to the people the sun glistened off it so the people cried out 'these are the words of a god and not a man'. Because he did not give glory to God an angel struck him with intestinal worms and he died 4 days later.


I am standing in Herods' pool that he carved out of solid rock on the shores of the Mediterranian in front of his palace. He could literally walk out of his front door (where the picture was taken from) and recline down to his salt water pool. There were beautiful mosaic tiles at the entrance to the pool just like in many of our pools. His palace and the harbor he built here by using the first cement that could harden underwater was a marvel of the ancient world and still is to this day.


This is the view from Mount Carmel where Elijah famously called a battle to the death between himself as the lone prophet of Israel's God, Yahweh, and the 450 prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. The people of Isreal packed around this mountain to watch the death match to see who really was the living God. After the prophets of Baal could not get their god to respond to their cryings to set fire supernaturally to their altar for a whole day, Elijah prayed to God to send down fire and God sent fire from heaven and burned up the altar, the rocks that were there, the water and even the dirt around it. The people then turned to God and Elijah took the prophets of Baal and killed them all by the stream near the trees in the picture below.


Barrett and Tracy sitting on the top of Har Meggido. This is the outpost developed by Solomon to protect Jerusalem from invasion through the valley. It has amazing technology such as a huge underground tunnel for water during a seige. There were many horse stables here in a small example of the sin of Solomon to trust in horses rather than God as he was prohibitted from having many of them for war by God. Revelation 16 states that in the future the hill and the valley below will be the staging area for the nations of the world when they come to war against Jerusalem after the anti-christ has broken his promise of peace to Israel. At their darkest moment Jesus will descend and destroy all the men and women in this valley with the word of his mouth killing 200,000,000 in the largest bloodbath in history. This battle is famously called 'the battle of Armeggedon' which will happen at the end of days.


I am standing on one of the high cliffs just outside of Nazareth. This is where Jesus was chased to after speaking in the local synangoge about the fact that He was the Jewish Messiah prophesied about in Isaiah--but that God also loved Genitles as much as the Jews in Luke 4. This enraged the Nazarenes and they tried to throw Him off a cliff like this one but He supernaturally walked through the mob.