Perspective

This morning I was frustrated with some silly things. Primarily technology, and the spotty internet, and my inability to finish my silly blog because of the aforementioned silly things.

Then we got on the bus and made the winding trip up the side of Mount Arbel. From the parking lot, it is a fairly steep uphill slope on a gravel path to reach the top. The path isn’t scary; it’s not on the side of the cliff, in fact it’s in a wide open area. For a while you can’t even tell you’re walking up to the top of a cliff. As you walk (or…huff and puff) up the pathway, a beautiful meadow stretches out to your right, with green grass waving in the breeze and wildflowers dotting the landscape. You can see the Galilean hillside stretching away to your right. As you climb, to your left it becomes apparent that there is a drop-off, and far below you can see crisscrossing roads, neat patches of farmland, modern communities, and the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

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On the way up Arbel

Some of us were tempted to stop climbing, but I had been to the top last year, so I promised them – “It’ll be worth it!” So we pressed on, and it was.

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Keep going!

The top of Mount Arbel presents sweeping views of the entire northern tip of the Sea and all of the countryside around it. As I stood (far from the edge) looking down, I felt really small. I imagined the storm that rose suddenly on the Sea as Jesus and His disciples were crossing to the other side. I could almost see the waves and the rain and the flashes of lightning. Imagining the immediate calm after Jesus’s simple words, “Peace! Be still,” (Mark 4:39) was so convicting to my heart, after my trivial frustrations.

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Then we gathered not far from the edge, and John told us he wanted us to remember two things: power, and perspective. Mark 6:46 tells us that during Jesus’ ministry, while surrounded by the lost, the needy, the sick, the demanding, the disbelieving, He went up on the mountain to pray, and it was likely this mountain.

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Gathering at the top
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John showing us something on a map

He reminded us to remember the immense power of Jesus; His complete lack of fear in the face of earthly elements and spiritual struggles. He walked on water through storms, fed crowds when it seemed there was no food, raised the dead back to life, yet He was a servant: humble, compassionate, and caring.

What hit my heart was the word perspective. Not just about my annoyances, but perspective in daily life overall. In the storm recorded in Mark 6:48,  Jesus noticed that His disciples were “making headway painfully, for the wind was against them,” and He walked on the water to them. “He meant to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost,” and they were afraid. Why did He mean to pass by them? It doesn’t say. Maybe He intended to let them work through the struggle, and he would wait for them on the other side. But when He saw their fear, He spoke to them and told them not to be afraid, and then He got into the boat with them, and the wind calmed.

Sometimes I feel like we struggle through life, making headway painfully, or making no headway at all. We may be fighting against things we can’t control, and we feel helpless in the face of those things. Some are truly heartbreaking and painful, and simply overwhelm us. But some of the things we are fighting, when we are honest with ourselves, are truly insignificant. The perspective we realize, when we sit back and look at it, is that Jesus has power to calm any storm. It may not be as quickly as we wish, or in the way that we wish, but standing on the mountain and viewing the scene below reminds us that for Him, nothing is impossible. “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Take heart, it is I. Do not be fearful.

Take heart, it is I. Do not be anxious.

Take heart, it is I. Do not be discouraged.

He sees, and He cares.

Immediately after calming the storm and the disciples’ fear, Mark 5 tells us that they came to the other side of the sea and were met by a man possessed, tortured by an unclean spirit. What a miserable existence his must have been, living among tombs, with others trying to subdue and shackle him, and crying out and cutting himself. When Jesus cast out the unclean spirit, the man finally had peace, and begged Jesus to allow him to be with Him. But Jesus said, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

This is our reason for being here. John told us to take pictures with our heart. To meditate on what Jesus has done for us and to tell others the personal impact He has had on us. To remember how He has blessed us – He has redeemed us! Walking where He walked helps remind us to keep perspective.

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters His voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:4-7

Jason said tonight, in nine words better than I could have ever explained it – “I got it before, but now I SEE it!”

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From the shore of the Sea, you can see the cliff face of Mt. Arbel to the left

Day four in the Galilean hill country was a powerful one. We began the day at the end of a pier on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, looking to the east and watching the day arrive. I tried to jot down some notes on my phone, so you could all see it too, but words cannot do it justice.

Standing on the pier, we all stood quietly, listening and watching. I could hear roosters crowing from both sides of us. Birds of all shapes and sizes (masses of them drawn to the water) in different tones were chirping and tweeting and honking and chattering to one another. Boats were sputtering to life on the shoreline. Occasionally I heard a fish flopping in the water. The sky was grey with a pink tinge that slowly bloomed streaks of yellow and orange. The haze in the air was slowly burning off and the sky above us was brightening to blue. Above the hills of the shoreline on the other side, a yellow sort of halo appeared. I was afraid that the clouds had obscured the sun and I thought it had already risen when all of a sudden a tiny little sliver of dark orange appeared. Slowly but certainly, it grew larger and larger until there was a dark orange complete ball above the horizon on the other side. We read Luke 5, where Jesus was standing on the store of the Sea while fishermen were washing their nets after a night of fishing. “They left everything and followed him.”

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Finally, a tiny sliver of sun appears
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Gnats!

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This is my FAVORITE, with the fishing boat heading out at sunrise

I thought it would be hard to top that sunrise, but we had so much more.

Our trip up Mount Arbel was quite different than last year’s. Last year there was a military festival going on with hundreds of Israeli soldiers milling around. This year seemed to be THE DAY that all Israeli schoolchildren took a field trip there. It would be a personal nightmare to me, to chaperone children up the side of a cliff with no barriers! We have also had quite a number of experiences of being interrupted by other tourist groups. We will be sitting in a group, obviously having a serious devotional, when another group will just walk through the middle of us, talking noisily and laughing. A Russian group did this to us here. As annoying as it is, I couldn’t help thinking that I was grateful that people ALL OVER THE WORLD love Jesus – whether or not their religious ideas hold tight to the gospel, I am grateful that His name has reached the whole world, and others also want to walk where He walked.

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Field trip – I could never chaperone this trip, I’d be a nervous wreck!

We had to get a picture of First, Second, and Third John, as they have been dubbed.

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First John, Second Jon, and Third Jon (in the order that I know them!) 🙂

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After we left Arbel, we headed to the bus station to drop off Murray and pick up Tsvi! It was honestly so wonderful to see him again. We felt like we had reunited with an old friend. Who, by the way, no big deal, guided a personal tour for the band One Republic last year…! We also found out that he had experienced a heart attack last year. He told us he’d been “given a yellow card” (if you have no knowledge of soccer you’ll have to google this) and had to slow down for a while. He is doing well now.

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Tsvi is back!

Our next stop was the Nof Ginosar museum, which holds the “Jesus Boat” – a first century fishing boat that was found a number of years ago during a drought, when the Sea of Galilee had receded. They recovered it, dried it out (over a period of nine years!) and have it on display there. It is interesting to see the size and imagine how it was used. No one really claims that Jesus rode in it – just that the boat is from that century and is like boats He would have used.

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The “Jesus” Boat

We got in a boat (our group had the boat to ourselves) and headed out to the center of the lake. The captain made a big fuss over Chelsea and had her raise the United States flag (and then flirted with her the rest of the ride…sorry Chelsea, you know I had to tell…) There were other boats not far off; one in particular we could hear singing “How Great Thou Art” and then ten minutes later were singing and dancing one of those traditional Russian dances. It was amusing.

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He flirted with Chelsea the entire boat ride 😉

It was very warm, and the Sea was very calm. Josiah read Matthew 14:22-33, the account of the storm arising over the Sea while the disciples tried to cross. Then Chelsea read Matthew 8:23-34, another account of the storm, but this one includes the account of the tortured, possessed man whose demons Jesus cast into swine. They ran down the cliffs into the Sea (later in the day we drove over to the other side and saw these cliffs.) Then Gerry read John 6:1-27, the feeding of the 5000. We will never read these the same again, after seeing the location where these events happened! Fred prayed, a sincere, heartfelt prayer that obviously came from a man who regularly talks with His Lord.

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Group photo! Mat, Simon, Josiah, Jay, Gerry, Chelsea, Angela, Wynn, Jon, Jonathan, Anh, Fred, me, John, and Jason with Doug in front
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More magic by Mat
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Fred, Simon, Gerry, Jon, Angela
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Demonstrating throwing a fishing net
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Jason and Josiah – love that they’re able to share this together

After we left Nof Ginosar, we stopped quickly at Migdal, or Magdala, where Mary Magdalene was from. Last year, we made a stop here at the end of the day, and *some of us* (like Mat and Doug) (and me) were exhausted and hungry and maybe a little grumpy. I had to snap a picture with the Cranky Snickers that Doyla gave me before we left last week.

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Cranky1

It really is an interesting site. It was discovered very recently, when a group had begun digging the foundation of a new hotel. As Tsvi said, “whenever you deeg in Israel, there ees a good chance you will find something!” Sure enough, they found a synagogue that dated back to the time of Christ. It is very likely that He came through this synagogue.

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Even though it doesn’t look like it, I think Simon enjoyed the site! 🙂

The old mosaics found all over Israel fascinate me. I think I would like to go home and create a mosaic floor, okay, John? I have always thought the tiles were about the size and thickness of a Scrabble tile, but they are much thicker; I suppose so that they will adhere deeper and not be kicked out so easily. They’re beautiful.

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Beautiful mosaic floor
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The mosaic tiles are much thicker than I thought
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Fresco

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We stopped for more schnitzel/falafel/shawarma for lunch and Doug ended up having to do a little “AC” work even 5000 miles away in Israel!

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Our next stop was the Church of the Beatitudes. I’m not a huge fan of most of these ornate church buildings found here, but this one is so calm, beautiful, and peaceful. We asked permission and stepped inside to sing “It Is Well With My Soul” – the rounded ceiling and octagonal shape make the acoustics amazing.

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Overlooking what we think is the “Cove of the Sower” where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount

Jon talked to us here about Matthew 5, while we stood overlooking the likely spot where He gave that “Sermon on the Mount”. These “beatitudes” call for a deeper relationship with God, and for fruit and transformation that comes from that relationship. He calls us to be humble, poor in spirit, to comfort others. Salt that has lost its flavor is worthless – and a Christian who has lost his flavor – his distinctiveness – is worthless as well.

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Beautiful roses!
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Anh and Fred!
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Master Gardener Wynn was happy as a lark here, running around to all of the different flowers and trees

{Side note: as I’m sitting here typing this, I’m on the tenth floor at a Dead Sea hotel, and there is a serious windstorm going on outside. I wonder if something disconcerting is going to happen every time we are here? Last year it was fighter jets screaming over the Dead Sea – doing drills, I suppose, but it was interesting to say the least. Right now the wind is blowing through cracks (the intentional kind, I guess to allow air to escape) in the windows, but it’s rattling some cabinets and blowing the curtains – even though the windows are closed. I wonder if they deal with this often…}

After we left the Mount of Beatitudes, we went to Capernaum. Tsvi pronounces it like KafarnaHOOM (emphasis on the last syllable.) This is where Jesus made His home after he left Nazareth (Matthew 4:13). Tsvi showed us some of the 3rd and 4th century capitals (decorative top of the Roman style column) and the many millstones that were found there. Jesus taught in the synagogue many times in Capernaum, but the synagogue that is here now is likely from the 4th century. Here, right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, is where Jesus taught others to be like children, and that if anyone caused a child to sin, it would be “better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the Sea,” (Matthew 18:5).

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Star of David on a capital
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Simon!

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John also spoke to us about Matthew 8, and healing the Roman Centurion’s servant. It is an interesting story of a Gentile who was well thought of by the Jewish people in Capernaum: “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue,” (Luke 7:4). The Centurion’s complete and utter trust in Jesus is compelling, and Jesus says “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith,” (Matthew 8:10). He was a common man – not a rabbi, nor an academic, nor a scholar, yet Jesus praises his faith. Jesus spoke to the heart of the common man, and gives us hope and trust that we can also be praised by Him.

It was crowded and hot and sunny, but still peaceful, and since it was almost Shabbat, they were closing early. We made our way back to the bus for our final stop of the day: the eastern side of the Sea. We drove past steep cliffs, and Doug and Mat jumped out to get some footage of this area where the swine must have run down into the Sea.

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This cliff runs straight down toward the Sea

Then we stopped at Ein Gev near a restaurant where there happened to be a circular area just off the shore where we could gather. A little calico kitty came and curled its way around our ankles and begged to be petted. The sun was on its way down and as we sat under a tree and watched the waves sparkling under the sun, we talked about Jesus asking Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” to which Peter replied “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” John said that our responsibility is to feed His sheep, to help others see that His word is true and accurate, that there is a God in heaven who loved and died for them. It was a beautiful, quiet time of reflection and several others commented on things that had made an impression on them. Jonathan said that nothing has changed since that day long ago – we still have the same obligation, and that we came here because we want to know Him more. Jon said that Jesus deserved to be brought up in a palace like the one Herod had in Caesarea, but God wanted Him to be raised in such a way to teach and exemplify humility. I have treasured these moments and the bond that we have in Christ.

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Eastern shore of Sea of Galilee

We had our final dinner in Galilee at the hotel. Jay told his Shetland Pony and BB gun story; if any of you haven’t heard it, you MUST ask him about it when you see him.

All of that was yesterday, Friday.

Today, we left our hotel at Nof Ginosar, and though I couldn’t wait to leave the land of no internet, I was sad to leave Galilee. I think I love that area more than any other in Israel, because Jesus seemed to love the area and feel at home there. So much of His ministry happened around the Sea, I can see Him laughing and healing and touching people there. In Jerusalem, though it is a wonderful city, I feel sad knowing what happened to Him there.

We stopped at Tel Beth She’an and the Roman city of Scythopolis, a fascinating ruins discovered when a farmer was mowing and ran over what he thought was a rock, but it turned out to be the top of a Roman column. Excavation revealed an enormous city that had been destroyed and covered by an earthquake. I have more detail from last year here.

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Tel Bet She’an and Scythopolis

We drove over to Ein Harod, the spring where Gideon and his army had camped, and where God tested the army and culled out the 300 who would go along with Gideon to defeat the Midianites. It is an interesting story (Judges 6, 7, 8) of a common man chosen by God – because God saw something in him. Gideon trusted Him, and God used Him in a powerful way. Jon talked to us about how God can use us, and that He is the one that wins our battles.

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Interestingly, at Ein Harod, there was a huge festival going on commemorating the 50th anniversary of a walk up Gilboah, honoring Moshe Levi, one of Israel’s chiefs of staff. There were hundreds of people, families gathered around picnic baskets, children in bright colored tshirts proudly sporting medals (for completing the walk up Gilboa), kids splashing in the spring, most all of them secular Jews. There was Israeli music and traditional dancing all around. I loved it! We wandered around in search of food, and Tsvi found some Druze Pita (at first I thought he was saying Jews Pizza) –  it was a HUGE tortilla (they called it a pita) folded in half and then folded in half again. Then on top, you could choose between goat cheese/parsley/hyssop, or hummus and olive oil, or Nutella. They would roll it up and tuck it under just like a burrito. As tempted as I was by the Nutella, I chose hummus and John had goat cheese. We wandered around some more and found drinks, others in our group chose smoothies. I saw popcorn and cotton candy. No hot dogs to be found anywhere! 😉 I felt completely at home (maybe it was because of the tortillas!) there were only a few curious glances our way but everyone was friendly and welcoming.

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She wanted her picture with the Firemen – she used to be one!
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Jon/Gideon
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Druze Pita with goat cheese, parsley, hyssop
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Kids are the same wherever you go!
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Music!

Back on the bus, and after a few thwarted attempts to make our way up Gilboa (we were turned back because of the walk) we found an open road and went to the top. Jon then talked to us about King Saul, and how we reap what we sow. Saul was prideful, and didn’t fully trust God; he went and sought counsel from a medium at Endor; he bolstered his army. He ended up dying on Mount Gilboa, committing suicide to avoid being killed by the enemy. Three of his sons died as well. By contrast, Gideon emptied himself and trusted in God – and God used him. Jon mentioned how sad it is that sometimes our decisions impact not just ourselves, but the ones that we love, like Saul and his sons.

He read a verse that I know I have seen, but never really focused on: “Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:14)

Has He not sent us? I think I am going to paint or print this somewhere in my house, to remember to go in the strength He has given me, knowing He has sent me.

We finally got back in the bus and made the two hour drive to the Dead Sea. It’s amazing how the landscape changes, from the lush, green, hilly region of Galilee, then the area seems to flatten out, though you can see the mountains of Jordan to the east. Driving through the West Bank, there is trash and mess everywhere. It’s quite sad. But the further south you drive, you start seeing the Judean hill country in the west – steep, forbidding, dry mountains, with the tip of the Dead Sea appearing soon after. It is a peculiar color, somewhere between blue and green, and oddly still and shimmering. Nothing survives in the Dead Sea.

We got checked in to this hotel and some of us walked down to the Sea and floated. The water is very warm, and you are warned to remove jewelry and be prepared for any cuts to sting, and to keep the water out of your face. After wading around for a bit, my legs felt oily and crusty at the same time, gross! But the minerals that are found here have been proven to be restorative. Maybe my calves will look 20 years younger in the morning!

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Chelsea, Jay, Jon, John synchronized swimming

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The wind/sand storm has died down and I guess we’re not going to blow away tonight. Up tomorrow: Masada! Qumran! Jericho! And then we will end up in Jerusalem! I can’t wait!

Incidentals:

Tsvi quoted Golde Meir: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” We had an interesting discussion about the state of Israel and how it came to be. I recorded some of it, and hope to post it soon.

After our discussion about the state of tension between Jews and Palestinians, Mat happened to be eating a chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Mat: “Chocolate and vanilla are having a race war in my stomach!”

We discussed concealed carry laws in the US – there is no such thing here. People are so accustomed to seeing Israeli soldiers carrying automatic weapons – they all serve compulsorily in the military after high school, and are trained and educated to use it only when needed. I’m sure it is much more complicated than that, but it is interesting to hear his take on it.

Another Tsvi quote, about our kids: “You guys send them to college, we send them to a deeferent kind of education!” (Military! Young men serve 3 years, women serve two)

Stinkbug in Hebrew is translated “Moses’ cow”. Go figure.

Someone mentioned Rick (Brumback) to Tsvi. John said, “Remember Rick?” Tsvi: “Remind me?” John: “Southern steps?” Tsvi: “Ahhhhh, poleece! Reek!”

 

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Janice Garner says:

    My favorite! But I’ll have to read again when I get home — it’s 4:20 and I have sat here too long. LOVED the 3 Johns!! The quotes are cute..funny. I’m glad to know how to pronounce Capernaum now. Bring Tsvi home with you. BTW, it’s not Luke 6:46; I believe it must be Mark 6:46. I noticed that ONLY because I know what Luke 4:46 says! Love, Mom

    On Sat, Apr 9, 2016 at 3:44 PM, Walking Where Jesus Walked wrote:

    > carmoore68 posted: “This morning I was frustrated with some silly things. > Primarily technology, and the spotty internet, and my inability to finish > my silly blog because of the aforementioned silly things. Then we got on > the bus and made the winding trip up the side of Moun” >

    Like

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