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finding meaning in the mundane

Category: Israel Trip (page 1 of 2)

You complain about WHAT???

Garden Gate to GethsemaneWhile I was in Israel, one of my favorite places that we visited was the garden of Gethsemane.  This is the recognized location where Jesus went to pray on the night that He was handed over to the authorities to be killed.  There was something amazing and beautiful about this location.  The garden was well taken care of, so that added to the beauty.  But there was something even more beautiful that cannot be captured in an image.

Garden View of Gethsemane

It was incredible to think of what the Bible tells us happened here some 2000 years ago.  The Church has placed a church on this location and inside of this church there are some incredible mosaics depicting the time that Jesus spent here that night.  Can you even imagine what Jesus was thinking, and going through that evening?

Inside the Garden of Gethsemane Church

Jesus in prayer

Thomas a Kempis tries to help us think about what that would have been like for Jesus.  What I appreciate most about this is that he tries to help us get a better baseline on our own condition too.

When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the hour of need.  He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends to the depths of scorn.  He was willing to suffer and to be despised; do you dare to complain of anything?

~Thomas a KempisImitations of Christ

I have been commuting 90 minutes each way for the last two months to get back and forth from home to Liquid’s office.  It has definitely taken a toll on me.  I loose three hours a day to my car.  Let me tell you, this is not fun.  I find that I can slip into periods of lengthy complaining and think nothing of it.  I may grow agitated because I hit traffic on the way home, or the price of gas puts a death grip on my budget.  Kempis provides a new baseline for me.  Jesus was willing to suffer and die for me, and He did not complain.  What basis do I have to complain about traffic being slow?  It certainly puts things into perspective.  My Lord was crushed so that I could be spared.  It is time for me to pony up and quit complaining so much.

Okay, there you go.  I spoke first.  Your turn.  What do you need to stop complaining about?

~Peter

bonus… Here are some pictures that I took at the Garden of Gethsemane and in the church.

Climbing into Sheep Pens…

When we were in Israel we went to a place called the Nazareth Village.  Nazareth Village is a re-creation of what Nazareth could have looked like during the times that Jesus walked the earth.  It was pretty cool!  I’ll tell you that it was far better than I originally imagined it would be.  One of the first things that we bumped into while we were there was a sheep pen and two shepherds.  Our guide stopped us there and shared some facts about shepherds from the days gone by.

Did you know that the shepherds would pen the sheep up?  Of course you did.  But in your mind what did you think that the pen would look like?  In my mind I think of Sean the Sheep…  (can you tell that I have little kids?)  What I mean is that I think that the sheep are kept in a large, open field.  Like there would be a wall around the field, but for the most part those sheep could graze and go crazy in their pen.  I viewed it a bit more like the way that the shepherd boy David penned them up in the old sunday school flanel graphs.  But that’s not the way that it worked.  They would’t do that!  They kept the sheep in a tight little pen.  “Why” you ask… Great question.  It was so that there was less area for robbers to break in and steal sheep.

We were told that the shepherd would sleep laying down in front of the gate to this small pen.  Why?  Another great question!  It is because you can’t very well lift a sheep over the fence without making a really loud noise.  This loud noise would in turn wake the shepherd.  That was a quick way to get a fist in your face, or a stone thrown at your head.   You can however avoid all that by opening the gate and letting them out pretty quietly.  Sleeping in front of the gate was a safeguard against loosing sheep to thieves.  Smart stuff right?

This pen, may have looked something like this:

Pretty cool huh?  Especially when you think of what Jesus said:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.  But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.  To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.  A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.  ~John 10:1-5

What do you think? Does this change anything you’ve thought about what Jesus was saying?

~Peter

The Domes of the Rock

Recently I was in the Holy Land with my cohort from Biblical Theological Seminary.  I was sent this picture from a friend of mine who went along with us.  I couldn’t help but share it with you.  I like to call this one the domes of the rock.

(That’s some good seminary humor for you…  For help in understanding why, figure out what my name means.)  

That’s the best I could do.  Maybe you have a better tag line.  Let’s hear em!

~Peter

Caves, Hideouts and Tree Forts

A Psalm of David, while he was in hiding.

“Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord that to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Psalm 118:4-9

We traveled to Ein Gedi to see the land and all of the mountains around. We are traveling through an extremely arid climate where everything went from being lush and green to being sandy and dry. We pull into the park and we begin to hike up the mountain towards the source of a waterfall. Along the way we are looking all around us and are noticing the caves that dot the mountainsides. These are the same caves where David came to hide from Saul in 1 Samuel. King Saul is ticked off at David and he has come to hunt him down. He wants him dead. Where does David go? To Ein Gedi. He and his men are hiding in the caves there when all of a sudden Saul comes along. Saul enters the cave that David and his men are hiding in to “cover his feet”, or “use the facilities”. David cuts the corner of King Saul’s robe and lets him live.

These are the caves where David was hiding. This is the same location that it is thought that David wrote Psalm 118 from. It gives a new perspective to the thought “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in __________” Here is David hiding in these unbelievable caves and yet he cries out from the depths of his soul, it is better to take refuge in the Lord! Those rocks are so strong, and protective. That is why David was there after all. Yet, those rocks do not hold a candle to the strength, the power, nor the refuge that our God will provide for His children.

Here’s the crazy thing. Many of us turn towards our own caves, hideouts, tree forts or safe places when we enter into times of trouble. Can you say along with David, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in _____________”

I am learning to…

~Peter

Dead Sea

Caves of Ein Gedi

Caves in the Rock face

Rock Caves

Food Poisoning, Hospitals, and Waiting

You will have noticed by now that I have had to drop the day number from the title of each of these posts. I was afraid that this trip would become so overwhelming that it would make it nearly impossible for me to continue to keep a current blog diary of what is happening while we are traveling in the Holy Land. Unfortunately, this fear came true. We have had a very busy schedule these past 6 days. Each day we have been getting going early in the morning and often do not finish dinner till very late in the evening. This is wonderful, because there have been a lot of places that we have had an opportunity to stop and visit and spend some meaningful time processing through our thoughts there. I will attempt to have some follow up posts with pictures that allow for further explanation of some of the sights, and thoughts.

While we were traveling here in the Holy Land, somewhere in Nazareth, our group ate something that was not good. We ate something that was not only not good, but it wasn’t good for us! All but 3 of us got sick with food poisoning! That means, 20 people were sick. Crazy right? I got so sick, that it put me out of commission for a night and a day. I ended up having to go to the Israeli hospital to get med’s and also have some fluids pumped into me.

While I was laying on my side (going in and out of heat stroke) I sat there wondering why God? WHY is this happening to me now? At one point in time while I was on a ridiculously bumpy and curvy bus trip, I think that I even verbalized, “Why is this happening?” I have been looking forward to this trip for a period of 7 months now. The last thing I want to do is miss out on any of it because of illness. But there I lay. Waiting to feel any better. I was waiting for the pain to subside, and the nausea to pass. WHY…

Today I encountered a culture and a people group who are asking the same questions. Why God? When will the pain subside, and when will the pain pass. When will we wake up from this nauseous feeling? I spent some time with Arab Christians who are being persecuted. One of the statements that he shared with us I found quite profound. He said, “Suffering is part of the story.” How different my western mindset is than that, right? We work hard at eliminating suffering from our story.

I walked along the wall that divides Palestine and Israel, the wall that divides people from their homes and their lands. I listened to stories of people who long for peace but see a giant monument of oppression in front of them everyday. They wait. They wait. They wait some more.

Ridding our lives entirely of suffering will never lead us to a place of perfection. In fact it is through the suffering that our lives are hammered, shaped, and refined. My Arab brother was right. Suffering is part of the story. It should be.

I am ashamed at how poorly I handle myself when I go through the mildest form of suffering. God works richly in times of deep suffering. Do not turn up your nose at those opportunities that lie ahead of you in your story. I am not seeking out suffering… (It’s like praying for patience right?) However, I want to be found as faithful and steadfast as my friend in the midst of it.

There are too many emotions right now to even put words to. Below are some of the pictures that I took while we walked along the wall today.

~Peter

Israel Palestine Wall

Spray Painted Dove

Graffiti on the wall

Hope, Israel Palestine Divide

Leave with your keys

Mural on the Palestine/Israel Wall

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