Israel Travel Blog Day 8: Even Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Throughout this trip, one of the constant refrains has been how the Holy Land experience of has made brought the Bible to life. One person has said that it has made the Bible go from black and white words to colorful images.

None so more than Psalm 23 and Luke 10:25-37

When we think of Psalm 23 we are drawn to the image of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I think it is easy to take the image as a symbolic reference to life’s difficult trials and even death itself. We look to this Psalm for assurance at funerals and in struggles, and rightly so. I don’t believe, however, that we think of the Valley of the Shadow of Death as a real place. Continue reading “Israel Travel Blog Day 8: Even Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death”

Israel Travel Blog Day 4: By Land and By Sea

Our second full day of touring was a challenging day. Well, at least that is for me.

Since we landed in Tel Aviv on Monday evening I’ve been dealing with a swollen foot. It comes with the territory when flying for 11-hours and, as well, when you have a right foot that easily swells and sprains. Yesterday’s touring just made it worse, which led to me visiting an Israeli drug store to purchase an Ace bandage.

That seemed to help today, but for most of the morning I was in a lot of pain trying to walk around. The trip to the Holy Land is an experienced filled with walking, so to be down a foot has been difficult. Walking to our boat to tour the Sea of Galilee was an exercise in hopping more than walking. The same goes for our tours of the church that honors Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 and the one that honors Jesus’ third appearance to the disciples following his resurrection.

One of the things that I committed myself to doing was not stopping. This is an once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I was not going to let a bum foot keep me from enjoying the day.

I’m glad I had that perspective, because today was a wonderful day of holy encounters meeting the presence of God in these sites. Continue reading “Israel Travel Blog Day 4: By Land and By Sea”

Israel Travel Blog Day 3: An Amazing Journey Begins

Breathtaking. Amazing. Wow.

Those were the words that often expressed my sentiments at the various sites we visited on this our first day of touring in Israel. The amount of Scripture and history we covered in just a few short hours is enough for a lifetime. That we have seven more days to go is just unbelievable.

We began the day by visiting the Gospel Trail. This is a former Roman Road that Jesus would have walked during his journeys in Upper Galilee. It is known as the Gospel Trail, today, because it connects Capernaum, Cana, and Nazareth together. The whole purpose of this trip was to walk where Jesus walked and to gain that experience firsthand. On the Gospel Trail we literally walked where Jesus walked.

That began to put the day into a holy context from the start. The rest of the day would build on that moment. Continue reading “Israel Travel Blog Day 3: An Amazing Journey Begins”

Israel Travel Blog Day 2: What Day is This?

We have arrived in Israel. Physically that is. I am so exhausted from the day-long journey from Lexington to Tel Aviv with an extended bus ride to our hotel to know that I am clearly travel weary. I’m exhausted enough that I left behind my reading materials for my next Residency meeting on the plane.

Oops.

Other than forgetting an important book on the plane, the trip to Tel Aviv was fairly uneventful. There were few moments where it seemed like we were on a roller coaster over Europe, but that and not being able to sleep more than about 90 minutes were about the biggest enjoyments of the flight. Continue reading “Israel Travel Blog Day 2: What Day is This?”

Divided Loyalties

Growing up, one of the things that I looked forward to doing on Sunday afternoons was watching the NASCAR race with my grandfather. After Sunday lunch, I would join him in the TV room to watch whatever race was on. He and I were the only one in our family who liked Dale Earnhardt, so we would rub it in after each win or championship.

Flash forward some twenty-plus years and I still find myself watching the races on Sundays. I even had the opportunity to cover the sport during my journalism career. As I watch NASCAR today, one of the things that I admire about the sport is not the athleticism of the drivers or their ability to make continuous left-hand turns. It is the fact that their is no second-guessing where their loyalties lie.

Their loyalties are right there on their fire suits for all to see. When Kevin Harvick, for instance, is being interviewed, you know there will be references to Chevrolet and Jimmy John’s Sandwiches. There is no denying their loyalties. They wear them everywhere they go. Continue reading “Divided Loyalties”

The Story of Salvation

About 10 years ago, I was not the person you see standing before you today. Not only was I a little larger and had more hair, but I was also someone who was hurting. I was going through a period of my life that could easily be defined as my lowest point.

The year was 2004, I was living in North Carolina, and my life was falling apart very quickly. In January, a home my first wife and I had in West Virginia was damaged during a winter storm when the water pipes burst creating a hockey rink out of the carpet. Afterwards, we received some bad advice that prevented us from getting any relief out of the situation. In March, my first wife left me with a phone call and a note on the refrigerator door. It ended a bad relationship that was defined more by our inability to communicate than by our love for one another. By October, I was sitting with my attorney in a federal courthouse in Raleigh, N.C., describing my financial situation and why I was filing bankruptcy.

It was an awful year and I had more problems and pains than I could account for. To be honest, I needed help and knew I needed to do something to get through this season of life. So, I tried to get help by throwing myself into anything I could. I found a West Virginia University Alumni chapter that became a place of Saturday afternoon refuge from what was going on at home. I threw all my energy into a political campaign I was working on. I thought if we won, which we did, that I would feel better. No matter what I tried what often happened was that I only compounded the pain. I made it worst. I was still hurting. I could not save myself. Continue reading “The Story of Salvation”