AN ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE 3/28-4/9/16
3/28-29/16 very easy flight to Israel. Monday they had heavy rain in Jerusalem but when we landed at Ben Gurion today, TU, the sky was clear and sunny and 58.
Stan drove us to Neve Ilan where we will stay 2 nights and along the way we stopped at the SI Espresso at Latrun.
ISRAEL. -WE -Mar 30, 2016
Breakfast at Neve Ilan and on the road to Bet Shemesh.
It’s amazing what the Lord is doing in this place. Samson’s stomping grounds include Biblical Bet Shemesh located in the Sorek Valley about 30kms west of Jerusalem. Big traffic jam this morning. The first little hill to the right is Zora which is the birth place of Samson.
We passed Bet Guvrin but didn’t stop. They have done a good job fixing the Roman amphitheater which can be seen from the highway.
Tel Lachish is next. The siege of Lachish by the Assyrians took place in 701 BC. They are in the process of rebuilding the entrance ramp and gate area. It is located in the Shephelah area between Mount Hebron and the Mediterranean.
We drove around a bit to find the right entrance to Tel Tsafit (Ancient Gath). Dr Parker, Dr Cole and Dr Warner will be digging at Gath this summer beginning June 25. Huge site. This ancient Philistine city is mentioned in the El-Armana Letters (1400BC) and often mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.
We crisscrossed the Via Maris and as we moved from site to site this morning I was reminded of the significant activity of the ancients in this area. Every empire passed thru here.
The countryside was in full bloom. Prodigious amounts of grapes, and flowers and everything in full greenery. Great weather and beautiful skies.
We stopped at SI Espresso at Latrun for coffee and lunch.
ISRAEL- WE-3/30/16 part 2
It was after 2 when we had lunch. Lots of conversation and Tsvika joined us. Finished about 3:30. As noted lots of conversation. We were planning to end the day on the coast but it’s late and the traffic gets fierce about the time we would be coming back so we packed it in.
The day has been quite eventful and we covered a lot of ground.
The folks are working hard at Lacish to finish the site entrance so we will monitor that and see if we need to add that on the regular tours in the near future.
Because of the Biblical significance of Gath and the fact that 3 of our faculty will be excavating there starting this summer really gives value to us in possibly adding this site to our program.
I really love this area and its historicity.
Amazingly I left out our ELAH VALLEY visit right after Bet Shemesh this morning. Everything is green in the Elah Valley. We discussed David and Goliath, went to the top of the hill by the Gas station to get an overview of the site and the battle. We didn’t go down to the creek and get 5 smooth stones.
TOMORROW WE HEAD TO GALILEE. TURNING NORTH ON HIGHWAY 6 visiting Casarea Maritima, Mt Carmel, Magiddo, maybe Nazareth Overlook and Afula then on to Tamar Bakfar and Maagan where we will spend 4 nights.
Thanks for joining us.
ISRAEL. THURSDAY. 3/31/16
We spent two nights at Neve Ilan. It is a working man’s hotel. Clean comfortable rooms. Not far from the airport. Good food. I’ve been staying here my first night or two in Israel and it usually gets me thru the jet lag and on the go.
We are leaving this morning and will spend four nights at Maagan on the southern end of the Sea of Galilee.
Breakfast at Neve Ilan is just spectacular. It’s usually my favorite meal in Israel. To start with they do omlettes to order. They have fresh wheat rolls with sesame seeds. The cheese bar has 6 kinds of cheese, excellent by the way, 6kinds of homemade jams (prickly pear jam, Apple, sweet potato, egg plant, apricot), boiled eggs, cheese cake freshly made, 8-10 items on the hot food bar, raw veggies and additional cereal bar with raw yogurt. Wow. Great. Any way I did my best.
We loaded up and left for Caesarea. We picked Gilla up at Latrun-Si Espresso, and a cup of espresso and then on the road.
We traveled the Via Maris (Hwy 6) north until we cut over to Casarea. Our visit there included the Roman Aquaduct on the Med. then over to the Crusader City and ancient Roman Harbor, another espresso, the Caesarea movie and then the Roman Amphitheater and Herod’s house where Paul was jailed.
We ate lunch at Muhraqa, at a Druze restaurant. Excellent. It’s after 1pm and we have to get busy. We visited the Carmelite Monastery and talked about Elijah.
Megiddo was next and it took us
About 20 minutes to
Get there. Good site visit and off we go.
We are stopping on the way to Beit Shean at Moledat to visit a friend. It didn’t take us long and then we went to Beit Shean what a marvelous site. Lots of pics. Great amphitheater.
The drive to Maagan was uneventful and short. We stopped by Tamar Bakfar on the way, they had three bus loads of folks there so went on to Maagan and check in.
I drove back over to Aroma to finish my day-great espresso!
What a day this has been. We went by Jezreel one of Ahab’s palaces, saw where the Witch of Endor lived and just on the other side of the mountain was the widow of Nain, drove thru The area where Deborah judged and Gideon fought. AMAZING. THANK YOU LORD
Tomorrow the Golan, Ilan Shulman and our jeep ride, Caesarea Philippi, Nimrod Castle and another Druze Village. We may even make it to Cafe Anon.
Blessings on you and your family.
ISRAEL. FRIDAY. 4/1/16
No pranks today.
Breakfast and on the road.
We drove directly to Merom Golan, a kibbutz in the northeastern part of the Golan. It took about 1hr 15 min driving time as Stan drove like Jehu to get us there. Just kidding. Stan has done a superb job in driving us around Israel and that is saying something.
We made one stop along the way to take pictures of a stunning view of Mt Hermon with snow on the top. As we took pictures we noticed several huge birds lazily soaring over us. They were huge vultures like one sees at Gamla. Huge. Very beautiful birds inflight.
We met Ilan Schulman at Merom Golan and he took us on his off-road tour of the Golan.
Excellent, informative, exciting and enjoyable. I have a couple of off-road enthusiasts with me and they liked the trip. The beauty is indescribable. The weather was perfect. The ride was off-road. The lecture was rich-info on the current situation as it relates to Israel. Time well spent.
After departing Ilan we turned left out of the gate and drove up to Coffee Anon (coffee in the clouds) and had lunch. We photographed everything we could see from the top of Mt Bental.
About 1pm when we were tired of taking stunning photos and lunch was settling we hustled over to Caesarea Philippi.
Pictures, discussions and walking around the site. This is an interesting place because it is so related to outrageous sin and yet Jesus felt it was important to bring the disciples to this Las Vegas of the ancient world. What other place so desperately sinful could Jesus go to declare his ministry confidence in Peter. Christianity operates in the real not in a vacuum. It flourishes in the hurting and dispossessed. It’s for where sin is for the light of Jesus dispels the sin and darkness of the evil one.
Our next stop was Dan Nature Reserve. The group walked over to the river and then we drove around to the Dan/Abraham Gate which dates back nearly 3,800 years.
We read the passage in Gen 14 that deals with Abram going after the robbers. “Gen 14:16 He brought back all the goods AND his relative Lot! Abram wanted to prove he wasn’t a man to be trifled with and he was concerned with his nephew Lot.
We took the mountain road overlooking the Huleh Valley down to the cutover at Chorazin and back to Maagan on the east side of the Sea of Galilee.
We passed Kursi and Sisita and En Gev but didn’t stop. We dropped off a couple of folks at Maagan and drove straight to Tamar Bakfar. It’s a family farmstead on the Sea of Galilee. I got some dried ginger, dried strawberries, candied cashews, almonds, pecans and my favorite daughter-inlaw some Bora Bora tea. The tea smells great but not sure what all is in it.
A short stop at Aroma and Bible Study led by Jim Parker. Both were superb.
Off to bed shortly!
Blessings on your. It’s been a great one!
ISRAEL. SATURDAY. 4/2/16
A word from Friday: Let me begin with a brief story from Friday. We were driving to a bunker on the Golan. We stopped to take pictures of white eagles soaring and swooping over us. Ilan pointed out that these were snake eaters. Snakes? Oh yeah, Ilan said, we have lots of racers and vipers on the Golan. Okay. I’m not a fan of snakes so I love these eagles.
I have never seen the land of Israel more beautiful than we’ve seen it this trip. We are coming back in May and unfortunately it will be mostly brown then so we are enjoying the green and the flowers everywhere.
Visited with our friend Tom Brimmer, an Israeli guide, at breakfast. Then we were on the road.
Our first stop was the Mount of Beatitudes. Dr Parker led us through the Beatitudes and we visited the church and the site. The views are priceless. The valley where the sermon on the mount would have taken place is a natural amphitheater.
This is the most busses we’ve seen this trip. There were 14 groups at the Mount of Beatitudes and people everywhere. We moved on to our next stop.
Stan drove down the mountain to Capernaum where began our next site visit. The White Synagogue, the Synagogue of Jesus was the first stop. We took Pictures and someone sat in Moses seat. We had some discussion about the fund raising in the synagogue which is noted on a column and then we went outside under the trees for a short devotional. Gilla took us to Peter’s house where we took more pictures then returned to our vehicle and headed to Tabgha.
They too had a lot of folks but we parked and went in the church. Jim noted the destruction from the arson about a month ago. The church was not destroyed and we looked at their mosaics and back to our van.
Our next stop was the Primacy of Peter, Mensa Christi, where the Lord had laid out a charcoal fire on the beach. He told them to put down their nets and they caught 153 fish. They recognized Jesus and Peter was forgiven and sent out again. He didn’t stop telling about Jesus the rest of his life. This is one of my favorite sites. Right on the Sea of Galilee.
We had completed the seeing the sites around the Sea of Galilee and now drove across Galilee to Zippori which is an ancient Roman City from the time of Jesus near Nazareth. As we drove we pointed out many sites we didn’t have time to visit: Mt Arbel, Magdala, Horns of Hittin, Cana of Galilee and several others. Lush green with beautiful flowers everywhere.
Our visit to Zippori (Sepphoris- Roman name) included the Mona Lisa of the Galilee mosaic on the hilltop governor’s house, the Nile mosaic and the others down off the Cardo and discussions about how the Romans laid out their cities. There is a strong probability that Jesus worked here with his father as the Romans were building the city. As we drove out of the site Dr Parker shares about the water system here at Zippori.
We went up to the overlook in Upper Nazareth and then around to the Nazareth Aroma for lunch. Excellent of course.
Our touring day was done, it’s after 2pm so we set our course for Maagan and meandered (it took us 2 hours) across country coming down to the Sea of Galilee by the Poriya Descent. Another marvelous day.
We met with Becky Brimmer at dinner while she waited on Tom’s group to get back. She is a great leader for BRIDGES FOR PEACE , a good friend and both her and her husband Tom are on fire for the Lord. They are going to South Africa on business in the next couple of weeks so we will keep them in our prayers.
Tomorrow we will go to Gamla and cruise on the Sea of Galilee. Our time in the land of Israel is half over. Time passes so fast here.
Blessings on you and your family.
Thanks for joining us in spirit on our trip. If you haven’t been to Israel you really need to come. Maybe you can join us one day. When you have traveled the land of Israel you read your Bible in full color instead of Black and white! Jesus is Lord.
ISRAEL. SUNDAY. APRIL 3
Breakfast and on the road turning right out of the kibbutz and heading over to Nof Ginosar to catch the Galilee Boat but different. We will board a 14 passenger electric boat that is a duplicate of the Ancient Boat (Jesus Boat) at Kibbutz Nof Ginosar.
It’s an amazing experience. Quiet. Close to the water, you can put your hand into the Sea of Galilee. So much different than the larger boats and you get an experience that is similar to the ancient boats at the time of Jesus.
Stan did our devotional: excellent as always.
We visited the Ancient Boat exhibit, had coffee/sodas and talked about the very good experience on the Sea of Galilee. I think it was my best.
We left Nof Ginosar and drove up the Golan to Gamla-the Grand Canyon of Israel. They gave us permission to drive down to the synagogue and that enables us to go to the bottom. Lots of great pics. The vultures and Eagles cAme out and gave us an aerial show. Stunning, beautiful, engrossing. Wow. Again an outstanding visit to Gamla.
The drive back down to the Sea of Galilee was beautiful. We could oversee in the northern half of the lake where 2/3’s of Jesus’ ministry took place.
We had lunch and it was 3pm so we called it a touring day. We got back to Maagan at 3:30pm.
Bible study at 6pm, dinner and overnight. Tomorrow we load up and head down the Jordan Valley to Jerusalem and the Dan Panorama for 4 nights. We’ve been gone 7 days, toured 5 and seen central and northern Israel very well. Now to the desert, Bathabara and Qumran
ISRAEL. MONDAY. 4/4/16
Transition day traveling from the Galilee to Jerusalem by way of the Jordan Valley. Everywhere is beautifully green.
We passed the Aroma at the Junction but didn’t stop. Oh well.
Stan drove the 126kms to Bethabara where John was baptizing and where he may have baptized Jesus. The Judean Wilderness isn’t far. There was an Ethiopian group there being baptized. Beautiful. We read the baptismal event in Matthew 3. Jim shared the historical background and led in prayer. We moved on to Qumran just up the road. 90 degrees at the Dead Sea today and projected to be 95 on Friday. Hot.
We saw the historical film at Qumran, visited the site, took pictures in front of the caves where the manuscripts were found and walked back to the van.
We were off to Kalia Beach. There was some discussion about the fish pedicure, Rick knows what I’m talking about but it was $9. and I passed on the experience. I think JP also knows what I’m talking about. We also visited the Dead Sea our main reason for stopping.
We followed Jim driving like Jehu into Jerusalem and amazingly didn’t get a ticket. Thankfully.
We checked into the Dan Panorama Jerusalem.
Lunch was at the American Colony.
At 4pm we took a cab to the Jaffa Gate and walked in to the Holy Sepulcher. Beautiful. We stood in line at the empty tomb but the wait wasn’t long. A little shopping. Then back to the hotel. I detoured from our little group and went by the Aroma at the Mamilla, just sayin, had coffee and walked back to the Dan Panorama.
My counter says 14,750 steps. Wow. Me feet feel it.
We will finalize our activities for tomorrow in the morning. Jim Parker leaves tomorrow night and will be home early WED. We’ll miss him.
Wish all of you were here with us.
ISRAEL. TUESDAY. 4/5/16
Ah Tuesday. Time has flown and we are winding down our pilgrimage. It has all been great. I’ve missed seeing many of you but have many photos and memories to share with you.
“Today is a good day!” It has really been a good day here. Two exciting incidents today- both involving traffic. Nothing like driving in Israel.
We can out of the Lion Gate and Stan was to pick us up there. Oh my goodness the amazing chaos that ensued blocking us from turning around to leave! Gilla finally called in a policeman to solve our problem. It was intense and Stan was so cool! I had about five folks I was confronting and the policeman walked up and said everybody stop and began giving directions and we cleared it up toute suite. Then as we were going down the hill a huge truck turned in and blocked the road. Stan immediately sped up and the guy backed down from chicken and backed out. Wow. Finally on our way. Intense problems avoided and 30 minutes later we were laughing about the incident. Hilariously funny AFTER the event.
OKAY-BACK TO THE TOURING
We left the hotel and drove around the city walls, pointing out the Neu Gate, Damascus Gate, Herod/Flower Gate, Kidron Valley, Lion Gate and Stan let us out at the Dun Gate. We proceeded to the Temple Mount after clearing security.
Excellent visit. Al Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock, differentiation of the various building periods, Eastern Gate and exiting the Mount in the Moslem Quarter near the Lion Gate. As we were leaving the Temple Mount a very large number of UN related diplomats were entering. Their cars had filled up the small lot next to the exit. Oh well who knows what’s going on there.
We walked a short way up the street and went into St Anne’s and the Pool of Bethesda (Jn 5). Read the Scripture and prayed. Moving site. Sang with a group in St Anne’s the Crusader Church.
We walked up the Via Dolorosa a short way and took pics. That was when we met Stan and experienced the chaos at the Lion’s Gate then on to the Mt of Olives.
What a view. Beautiful. Lots and lots of pics. Gilla did her typically masterful overview of the city view.
Stan drove DOWN the Gethsemane Descent. Whew. Straight down. He parked in a small lot about 100 meters from the Church of All Nations but still up the hill. We walked down. Saw the ancient Olive trees, oldest trees in the city. Their roots may be from the time of Christ as the Romans cut everything down when they destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. We visited the Church of All Nations and Stan picked us up there and we were off to St Peter in Gallicantu. No problems on the drive over. Busses and people everywhere but the groups were mostly Asians and Europeans.
Gilla did a good job of introducing and detailing the site pointing out the ancient Stepped Way which dates back to the Hasmoneans, the current church building and all of the things there that could have related to the time of Jesus. We also discussed the Sanhedrin. At the time of Jesus the Romans already exercised significant control of them.
Coffee in the little shop and up the hill to the Upper Room. This particular location is on the Madaba map and has been venerated and extolled as the place since early Christianity. Very nice stop. I like to think of the various interactions here. 11 of the disciples are thinking about Jesus. They are reliving the triumphal entry. Peter is about 12 or so hours from denying Jesus. Judas is thinking about the money he will get for betraying Jesus. He is angry and wants Jesus to destroy the Romans but Jesus refuses to be Judas’ idea of Messiah.
People count. You count. Jesus died on the cross specifically for you because it was the very thing you needed most. You count with the Lord.
We went downstairs to see David’s tomb which isn’t David’s tomb but instead is a place where David can be honored. A place that keeps the idea of a Davidic Kingdom before the people.
We had a late lunch at Adom’s which is a popular restaurant at the Old Train Station. It’s just three blocks from our hotel-Dan Panorama.
Jim Parker finished our Bible Study in Luke and he left for the airport. He will be home mid-day WED.
We will Lord willing go to BETHLEHEM tomorrow and come back to the Jewish Quarter.
Have a good day and a restful night.
From Jerusalem. Pray for peace.
ISRAEL. WEDNESDAY. 4/6/16
Chilly morning. Cool day. A little sun.
Stan drove us to the border crossing to Bethlehem. Johnny picked us up in his van and took us to the Church of the Nativity.
This wasn’t just a typical trip because Johnny took us thru the old city of Bethlehem. Streets that were one lane, parked cars both sides, stores lining the streets. Old buildings that have lots of history. We went through the old market. It was a lot of fun. As an aside Jim Lee and I got lost on those same streets about 20 years ago.
The Church of the Nativity is the oldest church in Christendom. It is old and new and steeped in traditions. When you visit you are encouraged because the Lord has used all kinds of people. We were able to slip in a visit between the Roman Catholic and the Armenian morning worship. It is so very different than our worship. The incense kills my sinuses.
After a short stop with Edward Tabash Johnny took us back to to the border crossing. Oh yes we went by the Shepherds’ Fields. Gilla said they were growing apartment buildings now.
Next stop was John the Baptist’s birthplace-Ein Karem. We toured the town, saw Mary’s Well and the churches. Traffic was tough but Stan negotiated it well and he took us on to the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum. We also visited the Jerusalem Model.
Lunch was on our mind and since it was 12:30 pm. we went to Touro Restaurant overlooking the cinematheque and the Hinnom Valley. It wasn’t far from the Montifiore Windmill.
After lunch Stan dropped me at Mt Zion. I went into the Jewish Quarter visiting the Hurva Synagogue, the Cardo and then Shorashim (Moshe & Dov). Moshe had to leave but I visited with Dov for about an hour. They are doing well.
It was time to begin my walk back to the hotel. Along the way I walked the Christian Quarter Road, David Street, visited several shops including the Alabama Store (2 Championship T-shirts in Hebrew) and did around at Jaffa Gate. Oh yes, I did get an Aroma Coffee (large Americano Cold Coffee) and walked up King David past the King David Hotel, YMCA, turning right on Mapu and the right again into the Dan’s front door.
I loved the time in the Old City. Very good day.
HE IS ALIVE
Sabbath dawns for fearful friends
Jesus died on Friday
They are mourning-too desperate to sleep
Fearful and alone
No scenario they think of can make things better
Two women who followed him
Go to the tomb to fix him
Find an angel stunningly bright
Do not fear-He is alive-He has risen from the grave
He has gone to Galilee-He will meet you there.
Fearful, joyously they ran to tell all
Jesus appeared along the way
They worshipped Him
Do not fear-Go and tell Jesus said
I will meet you in Galilee
Jesus Christ is Lord of all
He cares for each of us
He seeks to calm our fears and life
He holds us in His arms
He seeks our hearts-turn to him
Jesus tells us do not fear
The world cannot destroy us
We belong to the Lord-members of His family
Death and the grave could not hold Him
It will not hold us
Jesus brings us peace and joy-His life given for us
The power of God raised Him from the grave
Giving us what we need and cannot earn
Grace & salvation setting us free
Jesus Lord and Savior
Clay Corvin 4/7/16
ISRAEL. THURSDAY. 4/7/16
Last touring day.
First stop for today was the Garden Tomb. We walked thru this beautiful garden thought by some to be the garden and sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea and the empty tomb of Jesus. We had a devotional time in the Nook and went thru the empty tomb. Sammy and Mohammed made a way for us to park at the entrance. This is always a highlight for me. It is a place to celebrate the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Praise the Lord that we can have such a memorable place to spend these few moments contemplating His life and being thankful for His love for us.
Stan drive out of this traffic jammed area and we made our way across town to the Haas Promenade which is an overlook of Jerusalem from the south. It is located next to the HILL OF EVIL COUNCIL which is the headquarters of the U.N. Enough said.
We then went down into the Hinnom Valley (place of eternal burning in Old Testament days and at the time of Jesus) and saw the location of the Pool of Siloam and up thru the City of David (it is indeed straight up) and proceeded around on the road next to the Old City to the Kidron Valley Overlook. Wonderful. Wonderful. Beautiful sights up into the Mt of Olives. Gilla pointed out all of the sights including this we had visited.
Next stop up to the Mt of Olives and on the ridge road across to Mt Scopus. The Dead Sea view wasn’t because of the fogginess of that whole area. But we saw where it was.
We went to lunch at IMA (Mother) Restaurant Jerusalem. Very good food.
Our last stop of the day was the Mahane Yehuda market. There are more than 250 vendors selling fruits, vegetables, apparel and prepared foods. There is an Aroma Espresso Bar here. I had a cold Americano. Excellent.
Stan did a magnificent job of dealing with the traffic snarls. Back to the hotel for packing, a quick visit with Neil and Gilla, dinner , a short nap-up at 12:01am and head to the airport.
Home Friday night about 7pm. A really good pilgrimage. Please plan to go to Israel sometime soon.
All the best – Clay
A TRIBUTE TO ROBERT WHITEHEAD
A man of joy
Laughter always near
Faces life without fear
Living fully each day
He knows how to work
He lives life God’s way
A family man
He deeply loves his wife
His children his life
No regrets, no fears
He is filled with God’s spirit
Jesus shaped his years
Laborer for Christ
He is committed to God’s plan
No guile, no selfishness
A single focus
Jesus is the center of his life
Walking Jesus’ way
Living life in victory
A child of God
Today-he lives today
Sensitive to God’s nudge
People are his focus
Striving to help, committed to serve
Jesus is Lord
Surrendered and sold out
Clay Corvin 4/8/16
My heart is right oh Lord
My heart is right
I have an excitement in my soul
This journey is meant to be
I’ve thought it through
I’ve prayed it through
All I’ve done points to success
I don’t know
What I don’t know
But I’m ready to learn
Fear has no place in my heart
Journey proud today
I’m on the way
Obstacles rearing their head
You oh Lord have ordained my trip
I pray You remove all stops
No more gotchas
Be still my heart
Lord prepare me
I am yours
Fill my heart with YOUR thoughts
Make me a usable vessel
Equip me with eyes to see
Your Word oh Lord guides me
It speaks life, discovery, strength
Be my guide as I go
You Lord are my protection.
Clay Corvin 4/24/16