Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from Bethlehem

Day 8 in Israel
Stooped into the cave where Jesus was born.  Surreal surroundings.  Oh Little Town of Bethlehem in such disheaval. The Shepherd's Field nearby.  I wept as I faced my own sinfulness.  Romans 2:4 - it's His Kindness that leads us to repentance.
Shared a Thanksgiving Meal with my 134 new friends.  Quite the feast from a 50-foot salad banquet table to succulent artichokes to tempura turkey to an array of 22 desserts and Roman gelato.  But it was the conversations, the precious people who shared what God was forming in their hearts this week, and Larry's word to us that meant so much this Thanksgiving Day.  For 2 Cor 4 says God is shining Light in our hearts so that we can see the Glory of God and reveal His Glory by the way we relate.  "Being committed to the well-being of others at any cost to ourselves."  Repentance is in order.
May you reveal Christ to others.  May you release the Beautiful Christ in you this Thanksgiving Day! 

Went to the Tomb---HE was not there!

Day 7 in Israel
Stood inside the tomb at the Garden.  HE was not there!  Mark 16:5 We looked to the right, yes we did, inside the tomb, and there was a young man sitting on the right side dressed in a white robe and they were alarmed...Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth.  He is not here.  He is Risen!

Visited the Pit where Jesus was lowered down into the prison as he awaited interrogation by the Sanhedrin. 

He carried a 210 pound six-foot high crossbeam down Palm Sunday Road.  My Savior, a Man of Sorrows and Courage. 

I only have about 2 minutes to write this blog today...but I will be back.

Larry shared with us the 7 sayings as we sat in the Garden.  We stood in time past.  We are in a battle present.  He will return.  So we lean forward.  It was not possible for death to hold Him back. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Managing My Life or Glorifying My God"

Day 6 in Israel
Saw the cave where David hid from his father King Saul.  Amazing that a child has to hide in fear of his life --- from the hand of a father who really never came around.  David learned to love his father.  He didn't shrink away.  Didn't distance himself.  Didn't hide in his heart.  The wilderness is amazing.  To think that the Israelites wandered 40 years when it could have been an 11-day journey is, well, just like me and what I deal with. 

Jogged down to the sea and ... Stood at The Dead Sea in its surreal salty stinging sea as the sun set.  The Lowest Spot on Earth.  Surrounded by blistering vast spanse of hundreds of miles of desert.  We had just been to Masada, a desert stronghold, where they holed up to protect their very lives---but it didn't work.  Read Psalm 62 standing in their little church.  My soul waits on God.  I shall not be shaken.  On God my Glory rests.  Pour out your heart to God.  He Alone is our stronghold.  Pillars crumble.  Earthquakes shatter.  God is my Refuge.

Larry spoke tonight on "The Managed Life."  Here is what he said:
What does it mean to be spiritually formed?  Truth can feel offensive at times cause something in us needs to die.  Am I living a managed life?  If it's working---there's no way to avoid pride.  We can't keep all of the law.  We have been given a better hope.  Put first things first and 2nd things are thrown in.  Put 2nd things first and you lose both (C.S. Lewis quote).  There is a better hope by which we draw near to God!

God gives us trials and people in our lives for sanctification.  Do I turn to spiritual disciplines?  Lexio Divina?  Do I manage my life, my wounds? So wanting my children to turn out right---for me to do it right.  Wanting my ministry to turn out right.  Or am I glorifying God...there is something underneath my pain.  When I am in trouble, how do I get out?  You know, I got stuck in the elevator yesterday for 10 minutes.  Alone.  I was literally screaming for help.  Could this be from God a forming experience for me?  Where sin abounds, grace abounds.  Radical Repentance.  Celebrate Calvary. 

Hosea 7:14 Am I wailing on my bed or crying from my heart?  Do I have a right to certain blessings?  Have Mercy rather than fix me.  The more we are formed, the more we relate like Jesus.  Radical Christianity --- committed to the well being of others.  Brokenness.  Repentance.  Release the Life of Christ. 

What is the center of our soul?  The center that I feel is terror.  But my center is a longing for the Hope.  There's more to you and me than our sin.  Search the center to long for God and persevere and not be controlled by my fear of elevators, my fear of failing, my fear of not making an impact.  Have Mercy, O God!  Fill us with Hope to lead a resurrected life!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Groan Inwardly. Wait Eagerly. Love Well.

Day 5 in Israel

The tears fell when we descended the steep Palm Sunday Road. Jesus did this for me, for you. The Garden of Gethsemane---no words to convey the 2,000 year old grotto of betrayal. More tears fell as our eyes fell on the Rock of Golgotha symbolizing the crucifixion. More tears fell at the Wailing Wall. To stand there with your face flat on the wall hearing the wailing of those nearby caught me so off guard.  Thousands of people come here every single day 24/7 to pray to our God.  Jesus loves Jerusalem.
Larry shared with us on the steps of the Psalm of Ascent as the sun set in Jerusalem this Sabbath Day. 
Here are some quotes that touched me deeply:
"You have been graced with a disaster that your soul requires to find its way back home."
"Does your thirst for God sustain you more than your experience of God?"
"You will experience God by the ways you relate."
"The richer the Spirit's work in you,
the deeper our ache will be.
The deeper our ache,
the stronger our hope,
and the more certain
our sustaining joy
which is Spirit produced
and not reliant on blessings now."
"Groan inwardly.  Waith patiently.  Demand nothing now.  And God will sustain you with joy based on hope."
"The degree to which I can love others produces Hope that has nothing to do with how others treat me."
The sun set and the words remain.
Back at the hotel...
I got stuck in our hotel elevator for 10 mins. on the 9th floor in Jerusalem about an hour ago.  I have claustrophobia.  It was a l-o-n-g ten minutes.  There are places where I am not free and that is one of them. 
Groan Inwardly.
Wait Patiently.
Love Well.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The White Words

Day 4 in Israel
"God fully revealed the Truth we must know and believe to the Servant He chose to most greatly suffer."  Walking in his well-worn paths this day is overwhelming.  The beauty these people sought smacks so much like our day, our times.  Yet they missed the most Beautiful One of all.  The King of Kings was not honored on the ancient expensive Beit She-An city. lined with marble and mosaic floors and walls and towering Roman columns.  Today it lies in expansive archeological ruins.  Saul was killed and hung on the hilltop.  I climbed up that hill----gives you chills to see the spot. 

Armageddon---a dreadful word.  The Valley of Megiddo holds such significance as the Last Battle between Good and Evil will be fought here.  Rev. 16:16.  Seeing the past, experiencing the present, beholding the future. 

Joppa...home of the beautiful Tabitha.  Peter brought her back to life.  Oh my goodness.  We stood at the home of Simon the Tanner.  It is an amazing thing to experience the black words of Scripture and the white words of Scripture---all those gaps, all those blanks that we must fill in and live.  Truly live!

Friday, November 19, 2010

"The Black Words Come Alive"

Day 3 in Israel
On our way to the Sea of Galilee.  On my left is the city of Migdal---that's where Mary Magdalene is from.  On my right is the Gennesaret Valley.  Oh how the stories come alive.  Larry said someone told him that it is the "black words" that come alive when you walk into Israel.  We all know the "red words."  As we entered Capernaum, Home of Jesus, we found the ruins of Peter's 4,000 square foot home where Jesus reclined most of those 3 years according to Israeli lore.  And Jesus' second public miracle was here.  Remember, the royal official's son was healed as he lay in this town and Jesus was in another city.  The black words come alive. 

Tabgha is on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, 3k south of Capernaum.  Everything is so close in proximity.  Jesus walked over here and found his first apostles.  We stopped to pay homage to the place where Jesus multiplied the Loaves and Fishes.  This verse has meant so much to me over the past 4 years because as I pondered what on earth I would do to find God...HE was finding me, and protecting me from harm and carrying me.  Nothing touched me that He didn't allow and He stood me back up again!  5 Loaves and 2 Fish. I wept as I witnessed the stone set under an altar in a chapel symbolizing the miracle.  And it was a miracle that God lifted my head and stood me up.  And stood me up He did indeed!

Larry's sermon on the Mount of Beatitudes was this:  Larry drew me to the heart of God just as that leper sat on that hill listening to the sermon on the mount knowing that he was not healed.  The leper found Jesus after the sermon not knowing what He would do.  God healed him.  But the point of this is that the leper was drawn to the heart of God even before he was healed.  Ohh!  Larry humbly spoke:  You are blessed if you are poor and down to your last dime (I can relate to that one) and if you are spiritually a beggar for you are in a protected place where no harm can reach you.  Larry went on to say:  "Life doesn't consist of relationships but it consists of getting people like you to better relate.  He told of a friend of his dying from cancer who said:  "This is my last chance to love Jesus Christ in pain." 

Larry asked, Where are your markers?  Are you no longer demanding fair treatment, offering mercy to those who don't deserve it, martyred to your own narcissism?  He said his professor said in his old age and Larry says the same:  "I'm just beginning to understand."  Jonathan Edwards:  "The purpose of the Gospel is to communicate the happiness of Jesus to His Followers."  Was Jesus only happy at the Canaan wedding and with Mary & Martha or was He happy not because of His circumstances but because of His willingness to obey God on that Narrow Road.  Do we reflect the character of God and serve His Purposes not matter how our spouses and children act. 

I visualized that leper listening---I'm just like that leper needing to be healed.  But I am a little more dependent on Him than ever before and that's a very good place to be.  We ended today at the Jordan River and several of us were baptized in the cold still water.  And the dove rested---incongruent for our character but not for His.  Larry said at the baptisms:  "You rise up out of the water never to a God Who will never have an ounce of anger towards you.  You are loved.  Your future is guaranteed.  The pressure's off.  You no longer live to get it right." 

We closed the day with a boat ride on the noble Sea of Galilee looking into the towns on the hill where we had just walked, just a mile away.  The waves of this sea carried both Peter and the King of Kings as He walked on water to rescue his sinking disciples screaming for help in their fishing boats in the midst of a terrifying storm.  It was pastoral and peaceful on this day.  But our hearts hold a few storms and our Master showed up as we sang and wept aboard our boat "Worthy is the Lamb." 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Standing in the Past, Present, and Future

Day 2 in Israel
Standing in the palace that remains of Herod the Great and the story comes alive.  This palacious place is painfully breathtaking and heartbreaking.  Paul was sentencted to 2 years in prison right here.  It's a narrow road for Paul following Christ.  And it's a grateful invitation to join the Bigger Story, the Unimagineable Work that Christ was doing in this place for me and you to truly live this day. 

We are in Caesarea and it's the place where Cornelius accepted Christianity and opened a door to his own people.  On to Mount Carmel, 25 miles long and 20 miles wide.  We stand in this present moment at the very top of the mountain, looking at past days gone by from Galilee to Tiberias to Nazareth all in one panoramic glance.  The towns are so close.  And our minds go to the future day when HE is coming back right here.  The Present, the Past, the Future in one frame.  And Jesus says to me what He said to Elijah who stood on Mount Carmel praying for rain:  "Come Near."  It's the cry of my heart and yours....come near, o Beautiful God.  Today, let it be known that our God will answer us!  And if you can't find God in the place where you are, Amos 9:2,3 says:  If you climb to the stars, God will find you and bring you down.  If you hide out on Mount Tabor, God will find you even there and bring you back. 

We passed through the valley where the chariots of Barach assuaged the footmen of Deborah, Judges 4.  The footmen had sticks for defense.  But it was the rain that turned the terrain into mud to confound the chariots and riders.  And it was Deborah who said:  Don't be afraid.  God will deliver you.  I don't know what you are going through this night but our God is saying to you and to me to not be afraid for His Deliverance draws your way this very day.

We arrived this evening at a gorgeous Tiberian hotel to a delectable buffet, really.  The end to an 85 degree day that lasted long and imprinted our hearts.  Come Near to Me and I will Come Near to You.  And I'll end with the question Jesus asked in Caesarea:  "What is the reason you are coming to Me?"  The answer found on those pages in this palace:  We are here in your Presence to listen.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

No Sin Can Destroy My Desire for God

1st Day in ISRAEL
Arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel today. The airport overlooks the Joshua 10:13's the place where the sun stood still and the moon stopped til the nation avenged itself. Kind of takes your breath away to see the beauty in the moment.

The hotel is increible overlooking the Meditteranean Sea. The buffet was like cruise quality---unbelievable spread. But what draws me in tonight is the people on this tour. 134 friends of Larry Crabb for this 66 LOVE LETTERS tour. Have already wept with old friends and laughed with new friends even shedding a few tears with them too. Loved meeting Lisa tonight at supper---the conversation is just so good with people who are so willing to deal with what is stirring in their hearts. The old and new yet seems like we've known each other all along the way.

This is an Israeli computer I am on. Everything reads/types from right to left so I am a little dyslexic plus time-driven. But what captures my soul this night is a quote from the 66 LOVE LETTERS book: “My Power is more evident than ever in your desire for Me that no agony of soul or fall into sin can destroy.” What a Good God who understands our frame. NOTHING can separate us from HIM. So encouraging to me as I gaze into the endless sea to know that my sin is counted against me. And all these desires within me that are good ones are from Him. He is drawing me to Himself in spite of myself.

Praying for Our Friend Joanne Psalm 131:3 Waiting on God. Hope Now. Hope Always.

House of Blessing Tribal Childrens Home

House of Blessing Tribal Childrens Home
"Whoever welcomes a little child in My Name, welcomes Me." Matthew 18:5 We have posted pictures of the orphans receiving their gifts from you. Scroll down to the post entitled "Today Was the Big Day." Many orphans didn't own anything of their own, but now do, because of you.

My Family

My Family
Britt, Blair, Bev, Bob, Brooke, Barrett


I've met some amazing women through blogging. I would love to hear from you. My personal e-mail is:
I have another blog where I blog daily as a small group of us read through the New Testament this year. It's called A String of Pearls. We carry each other on mats (when we just can't walk anymore) to Jesus and sweet things like that.


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