Sunday, March 27, 2011

Trip of a Lifetime - Day 3

After a decent night's rest (thanks to Ambien), we were eager to start our first day of touring!  Thankfully we had been instructed to bring a warm, all-weather coat because the forecast showed rain for the next three days with a chance of snow in the higher elevations!  The weather man was right but we didn't let the wet and cold stop us.

We began our day with a visit to the Mount of Beatitudes where Matt read the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5. 

Matt and Dr. Tolar

The Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes
We then traveled North to the foothills of Mount Hermon and Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"  as recorded in Matthew 16:13.  Peter responds in verse 16, "You're the Christ, the Son of the Living God!"  And Jesus responds, "Right, you are Peter!  And on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!"  As we stood before this awesome rock, we got the full impact of what Jesus was saying. Jesus used this rock as an illustration of the solid foundation of faith in Peter's confession of Him as Christ, that stood against the pagan idols in the niches scattered all around in the hillside.

Caesarea Philippi,  today called Banyas

The beginning of the Jordan River at Caesarea Phillipi
Continuing to head North into the Golan Heights we stopped at a park overlooking the United Nations checkpoint leading into Syria.  It was at this point that it was VERY cold and snowing. 

United Nations Checkpoint

  After a brief picture stop, we began descending the mountain to a small Kibbutz (a Jewish community) called Ein Gev to eat St. Peter's Fish at a restaurant situated on the Eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  It is called St. Peter's fish because of a marked pouch under the mouth and refers to the fish with a coin in its mouth that Peter caught.  (Matthew 17:27)

St. Peter's Fish
Our fourth stop of the day was on the Northern shore of the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum, Jesus' hometown during his ministry (Matthew 9:1).  Capernaum was the operational center for the larger part of the Galilean ministry of our Lord. Here he performed many healing miracles:  the Roman centurion's servant (Matthew 8:5-13), one sick of the palsy, one sick of an unclean spirit, and Peter's mother-in-law healed of a fever (Matthew 8:14-15).  Jesus called Matthew to "Follow Me" (Matthew 9:9) in this town as well as a few other disciples (Matthew 4:18-20).
We saw many excavations in this town.  We stood in a synagogue (the White Synagogue-built with white limestone) that was built on top of the very synagogue (built with black basalt) where Jesus had taught.  We also saw an extensive excavation of first century houses as well as what is believed to be the house of Simon Peter where some early Christians met to worship after Christ's ascension.

Olive press

White Synagogue

Peter's Home (house-church)

We left Capernaum and traveled to Tabgha, another town on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  Since Byzantine times this has been identified as the site where the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and the feeding of the five thousand took place (Matthew 14: 14-21).  A beautiful mosaic of two fish flanking a basket of loaves commemorates the biblical event inside a church built in 1982 on the foundations of the early church.

We drove past Magdala, home of Mary Magdalene, and stopped at the Kibbutz Ginosar to see the 1st century "Jesus Boat."  This boat from the New Testament period was discovered along the muddy shores of the Sea of Galilee during a drought in 1986.  It was in a boat such as this that Jesus and His disciples crossed the Sea, faced the storms, and fished, and from which Jesus taught the crowd that gathered on the seashore.  The highlight of the day for me was when we boarded a modern day boat and headed to the middle of the Sea during a rain storm.  In the middle of the sea they shut the engine down and we read of Jesus calming the storm in Matthew 8:23-27.  We sensed a moment of Peace as the rain stopped and a double rainbow appeared!  Jesus was surely with us!  I cry just thinking about that awesome moment.  As we rode back to shore, the song Worthy is the Lamb played and we worshiped the One True God!

I've got chills reliving these moments!! 

Stay tuned for the rest of the story...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Trip of a Lifetime - Day 1 & 2

After returning from the trip of a lifetime, I have been trying to decide how to document this adventure.  I think I will do a post capturing each day so..... bear with me because that will be about 10 posts!

Matt and I were given the opportunity to host a group on a trip to Israel...the Holy Land!  Never in a million years would I have thought that we would get to make this trip this early in our lives.  For whatever reason, when I think about people going to the Holy Land I imagine the older generation (and for the most part that is what we saw.)  One of Matt's seminary professors, Dr. Bill Tolar, came to Fairview last year and taught the Winter Bible Study in 2010.  On the last night he encouraged our church folks to consider a trip to the Holy Land.  He teams up with Dehoney Travel and lectures groups in the Holy Land several times a year.  He loves to see his former students have the Bible come to life in the Holy Land (the trip would not have been the same without him.)  He is 83 years old and says he won't retire as long as he can continue to take these young people to Israel.  With Dehoney Travel, the pastor goes for free with the first 5 people to sign up and the pastor's wife (that's me!) goes for free with the next 5 people.  Guess what??  We took 15 people with us therefore Matt and I were able to go for next to nothing!!  What a blessing!

We left Shreveport, La. on March 7th and had layovers in Houston and New Jersey before embarking on a VERY long flight (10+ hours) to Tel Aviv.
Part of our group in Shreveport, La.
Not the normal view out of your airplane window!

It was nearly impossible to sleep on the crowded flight due to our excitement and anxiousness.  Upon landing in Tel Aviv, we were greeted by a Dehoney representative and transferred to Gai Beach Hotel in Tiberias.

Dr. Tolar and our Dehoney Representative

  After a delicious meal, we went to bed anticipating the adventures that were ahead....

Delicious food

The view out of our hotel room....Sea of Galilee

**Our hotel rested on the shores of the Sea of Galilee which is fed by the Jordan River. The Sea of Galilee is 13 miles long and 7 miles wide. At its deepest point the body of water is about 150 feet deep. The peaceful calm of the Sea of Galilee can quickly become a maze of white-cap waves as a storm approaches. And like many of our Texas lakes, the Sea of Galilee is currently about 12-feet low.  

**As quoted from Jim Binns ( a fellow pilgrim on our trip)

Our Hero

Today my brother was deployed once again!  Saying goodbye is never easy but we are proud of his mission in protecting our freedom. This is his third time to serve our country on foreign soil and we love calling him "our hero!" 

Jason and DD

My siblings

Jason's Family

Governor Bobby Jindal

Jason's son, Zac, making sure all the stars are there!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Claire and Levi participated in a wonderful sports program at FBC Natchitoches called Upward Basketball.  Upward Sports is a first-class sports experience that emphasizes healthy competition, sportsmanship, skills building and fun versus the “win-at-all-costs” mentality found in many children sports leagues.  It was a rewarding experience for both of them!