Category Archives: Israel 2019

A Reflection on the Valley of Elah

The stage was set long before a shepherd boy set foot in this valley with a sling, a staff, and five smooth stones from the stream bed (1 Sam 17). Israel stood before an enemy that defied the people of God and thereby defied God himself. It was Israel’s disobedience that brought them to this place – their lack of faith when it came to driving out the inhabitants of the land during the period of the conquest. However, the disobedience did not start with Israel. It was a result of a heart stained by iniquity that has plagued man since the time of Genesis 3.

The Philistines were a thorn in Israel’s side. Saul failed in his attempts to subdue this enemy just as Adam and Eve failed in their encounter with the Serpent. However, at the battle in this valley, David would have victory over the external enemy. Though the success would lead to victory over the Philistines, iniquity would still reign in the heart of man – sinfulness as seen in David’s adulterous pursuit of Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.

As the Israelites stood listening to the condemnation and blasphemy of Goliath, there was one who would battle for their freedom. However, this battle was not the end. This fight was not the moment when the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. The shepherd boy born in Bethlehem that would become king was but a foreshadow of the Eternal King that would become flesh as a baby in the town of Bethlehem.

It was Jesus, God incarnate, that would not only crush the head of the serpent, but also remove the iniquity of his people through the blood he shed on the cross. Christ would defeat death through death, and grant his people freedom from guilt and condemnation.

The battle at Elah was not the beginning of the fight, and it was not the end of the war. The account of David and Goliath point forward to the victory of Jesus Christ.

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Posted by on March 8, 2019 in Israel 2019, Just a Thought


8th Day in Israel

It has been a great trip. I am sitting at the gate of the airport, waiting to board the plane. Here are some pictures from today, before we traveled to the airport.

This picture is the Valley of Elah; the site of the battle between David and Goliath (1 Sam 17).
The picture above is the Garden Tomb. Two places in Jerusalem are believed to be the tomb of Jesus. This picutre is one of the sites.
After Jesus’ arrest and before he stood before Pontius Pilate, he was kept through the night in this dungeon beneath the house of Caiaphas.
These are the southern steps leading up to the Temple Mount. Common people used this entrance. It would have been the place where Jesus taught and the entrance he would have used.

The next stop on our journey is Miami, Florida.

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Posted by on March 7, 2019 in Israel 2019


7th Day in Israel

Yesterday was cloudy and cold, but today was a beautiful day. We spent the entire day in the region of Samaria and had a delicious meal on the mountain of Ahab and Jezebel’s palace. I enjoy the food in Israel, and there has been no deficiency in the amounts we are given to eat. There has only been one dish that I did not enjoy. It was a small dessert at the hotel. I do not know the name of the dessert, but there are plenty of choices to help me avoid it.

On a fun trek through the City of David, we walked down to Hezekiah’s tunnel that was dug to secure water before the Assyrian invasion. You can walk through this tunnel, but we walked through the Canaanite tunnel instead. The picture above is of the entrance where the water tunnel begins, directing the waters of the Gihon Spring. (2 Chronicles 32:30).
I had the privilege of reading Scripture at this location today, John 9:1-25. Jesus healed a blind man in this location, the Pool of Siloam.
Visiting Shiloh was my favorite part of the day. After the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they established the Tabernacle at this location. It was here that Hannah prayed for a child and God blessed here. At this site, Samuel was raised by the High Priest, Eli.
Jesus was tired and sent his disciples into Sychar, in Samaria, to get food. While they were away, a woman came to the well to draw water. (John 4) This picture is of Jacob’s well which sits beneath the altar of Jacob’s Well Church.

Tomorrow, we open the day touring in Jerusalem and then we will travel to Tel Aviv for a late flight. This trip is fantastic, and I am thankful for this wonderful opportunity.

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Posted by on March 6, 2019 in Israel 2019


6th Day in Israel

It is hard to believe that six days have passed. Each night I have difficulty deciding which pictures to post. It would be nice if I could post each one, but as of this evening, I have taken 800 pictures. Today was a pretty taxing day as we visited the Temple Mount. The journey was not physically taxing, but it was emotionally exhausting. The vast amount of people that are lost is overwhelming. I wrote about this subject earlier; so I will not repeat it here. You can read it by clicking here. Seeing a mosque on the Temple Mount and listening to the call to prayer heightened the heartache.

There is a little box on the right-hand side of the door frame leading into the hotel room. It is called a Mezuzah. This little box, or tube, contains a small parchment called a klaf. The inscription on the klaf is a selection from the Torah, and its positioning is believed to accomplish the obedience required by Deuteronomy 6:9.
The Garden of Gethsemane contains many olive trees. Most of the trees are too young to coincide with the time of Christ. However, tests and people that know more about plants than I do, suggest this olive tree is 2000 years old. In the building to the right, there is a rock in front of the altar that is traditionally believed to be the rock at which Jesus prayed the night of his betrayal.
Where were the shepherds the night they received a visit from the angels that announced the birth of Jesus? This cave is a natural sheepfold that traditionally marks the location of the announcement.
The Church of the Nativity is the oldest church in the word. Beneath the altar of the church, there is a cave. As you enter the cave area, this place of commemoration is on the right, and it is believed to be the location of Jesus’ birth.

As I am here in Israel, Amy is at home with the kids. (Yes, she is superwoman!) I also want you to know what a fantastic church family we have at Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Marietta. The people of the church have brought her meals, helped her with car problems, put together Levi’s birthday present, helped with the kids amid multiple practices, and made sure she has everything she needs. I am thankful for their love and concern. Oak Ridge is a wonderful church that loves and serves well. They are a blessing to our family – they are family.

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Posted by on March 5, 2019 in Israel 2019


Mid-Trip Reflection on Israel

I remember the first Paint by Numbers set that I received. For those of you that have never seen this type of craft, I placed an example below. It is a canvas with different sections labeled with numbers. Each number corresponds to a color and when you finish, it reveals a picture. When looking at the canvas, you could tell it was a picture of a deer (I do not know what this canvas is), but there were areas less clear because they lacked colored that provided distinction. A vague image was visible but so many details alluded the eye.

I love Scripture – reading and studying. I spend a lot of time digging in God’s Word, looking for the lines and colors that complete the big picture. I love the Old Testament. In many ways it is like the canvas that came in that painting kit; it provides structure and direction. There are things that you see vaguely, but they are not clear. The New Testament is like the color added to the canvas. Through the presentation of the Gospel and the things you read, color is added and the picture becomes clear.

You need both. Without the Old Testament, there are so many ideas that can be formulated, but not have the intricate structure and design that God intended. You also need the New Testament, the part that colors the picture and reveals God’s design in a clearer manner.

Over the past four days, I have seen the lines of the Old Testament and the colors of the New Testament become more precise and more vibrant. It is an experience that is illuminating years of study in a way that I never realized. As we walk through the places mentioned in Scripture, the intricate details of God’s Word and the nuances of its cultural illustrations have made my heart accelerate and mind connect dots that I didn’t realize were related.

In all the excitement and intrigue, my heart has also been broken. As our guide shares the number of believers and unbelievers in each city and area, I realize the vast amount of people that have the entire kit in front of them but do not recognize the miraculous picture of the Gospel that lies in before of them.

My immediate desire is to invest and begin building relationships to share the Gospel and encourage the small churches in this region. It creates a burning desire to pray for these people and their salvation. I have received a burden for these people.

Israel, Palestine, and the surrounding areas are beautiful and they are filled with precious lives created in the image of God. As the vibrant, distinct lines of the Old Testament sharpen and the colors of the New Testament gain vibrancy, I mourn for a people saturated by an image they do not recognize.

I look forward to the last half of the trip that begins this morning. I will continue to learn as we walk through this land, but I will also continue to pray for the people that do not see the beatiful canvas that is before their eyes.

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Posted by on March 3, 2019 in Israel 2019, Just a Thought