Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Following in Jesus' footsteps at Galilee

We started our day by reading Psalm 103 on our way to the mountain where it is believed Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. What a psalm full of truth and power. As we travelled along, I prayed that as I was blessed by God, I may also bless and praise my saviour.



We arrived at the mount of Beatitudes, and with the heat already setting in, we found shade to read from Matthew 5. Eric explained how ‘the word’ was a master of the word and he attracted crowds wherever he went.

As I sat in the beauty of the gardens of the church I could hear a symphony of birds singing. The music could rival the most talented band or singing group! As I listened, I was reminded of Matthew 6:26 spoken at possibly this very place and I imagined Jesus at this actual place looking at the birds.



Of all the places I have visited so far, however, I struggled a little with this one. It wasn’t as I had imagined, a place once simple, had become so complicated and ornate.

BUT           

God was there for me today, in the bird song and is there every day in his love for me.

As we travelled a little further, we stopped at a place called the church of St Peter’s primacy. When we arrived there were crowds of people trying to get a photograph of where it is believed Jesus appeared to the disciples and asked Peter “Do you love me?”  But as we started reading God’s word together, the crowds disappeared and it was just us, the water, and very tangibly Jesus!





We considered the fresh encounter that Peter had of Jesus. There we were encouraged to ask as if Jesus was speaking,

“Alice, do you love me?”

There, at that beautiful place, I wanted to scream and declare


YES! 


Monday, 29 May 2017

Send the fire today!

After our visit to Caesarea, we moved onto Mount Carmel, a possible place where Elijah went head to head with the prophets of Baal and called fire from heaven down. It was a stunning place. There was a beautiful garden of peace and tranquillity and as we stopped in a quiet part of the gardens, I heard an Indian priest address a group of pilgrims. He called them to rise up and follow the God, who in that place, sent fire down from heaven. He called them to be true disciples of Jesus. At this my heart stirred, and I had to stop myself from shouting AMEN!



As the group moved on and our guides spoke to us, they read from 1 Kings 18 and reminded us of the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. They also shared from James 5:16

“16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.



As we sat in the place where God so miraculously answered Elijah’s prayer, I prayed for a miracle in my life and circumstance. As I prayed, I prayed the line of this song:

“God of Elijah hear my cry, SEND THE FIRE!”

I felt a fire in my belly and I could have sat there all day with my hands raised in worship to the God of miracles!


After our visit to Mount Carmel we passed Nazareth and continued to Mount Tabor where it is believed that the transfiguration took place. After a rather frightening minibus ride (18 hairpin bends!!) we reached the top to find a sanctuary. We sat in a ruined part of the old monastery, and there we considered the transfiguration. We looked at Luke 9:28-36 and we focused on V33 where peter says:

“As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here.

We also considered how a meeting with Jesus leads to transformation. When we glimpse him, his goodness leaves us changed. At that place, God’s presence was tangible, the peace it brought and the beauty of God was indescribable – I wanted to stay in that place forever (Much like Peter wanted to!)


But as we left, I felt a little bit of that peace settle upon me, I felt a little bit of Jesus’ transfiguration shine rest upon my soul and I thanked God that this meeting with Jesus WILL leave me transformed. 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Legacy, Love and little things in Ceasarea

This morning after a beautiful breakfast we left Tel Aviv and headed to Caesarea. Here we saw an ancient town including a Roman theater and a hippodrome where horses raced and eventually gladiators fought. As we sat in the seats of the amphitheater we read from acts 10. We considered Cornelius, the roman centurion, from Caesarea, who was the first gentile to become a Christian. We considered the legacy of this one man’s faith and I was challenged to ponder what legacy my faith will leave.



Caesarea was stunningly beautiful. The sea so blue, the sun so hot and the remains so striking. In this place of such beauty we paused to consider the nature of Roman occupation and what that meant for the early Christians. We thought about the counter-cultural message of Jesus and the fact Jesus calls us to still be radical and counter-cultural with his message of love.
 

I was also fascinated by the archaeological evidence of the excavations found along our walk. As I walked along the town, towards the towering walls I was struck by something captivating in a seemingly uninteresting place. Next to a tree there was a pile of pillars and pieces of stone haphazardly leaning against it. There were pieces of history and items that reflected everyday life left forgotten at the side whilst people clamoured to see the bigger, more interesting pieces of history.



At this, I felt God say: “How often do you miss the little things? Where are those thing of beauty, of importance, of kingdom value that you have overlooked in favour of something bigger and better?”


Lord, help me to really see the seemingly insignificant things today.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Arriving in Israel

We have arrived! After a broken suitcase, no gluten free food on the plane, an hour delay on the tarmac and a huuuuge queue to get through passport control, we are finally in Israel!! 



There is a group of 30 of us and it is a real mix of people of different ages, accents and outlooks.

At our first group meeting, our leaders, Helen and Eric introduced us to the week ahead…it was a goosebumps moment! Eric also opened the scripture to us. He read John 12:21 


“They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.””




‭‭This is most certainly my prayer this week. That in all the bustle and business, that despite the heat and tiredness, that regardless of any circumstances

In it all I would like to see Jesus

I want him to knock me off my feet. I want fresh revelation. I want to be changed this week from glory to glory! As I write, these words are playing over in my head. This week, this is my prayer!


‘Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,
And my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my saviour’ 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m_sWJQm2fs

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Starting our Pilgrimage to Israel

As some of you know, recently I embarked on a pilgrimage to Israel. Whilst there I kept a journal and thought I would share some of my thoughts here.

10th May 2017

Today I began my pilgrimage to Israel. Paul and I decided to book this trip in memory of his mother Jean. For me, this is a trip I have wanted to make for many years and I have been preparing for this for months. However, as I sit in my hotel room at Heathrow, I wonder if I have really prepared spiritually as well as I should have? You see, my life as a minister means long days, an endlessly busy mind and a servant’s heart which gives an awful lot. I love my full time ministry in The Salvation Army. I have found the sweet place of sitting in God’s will, but always being pushed forward and closer to him.

After a pretty tiring and difficult drive from Wale, I am now feeling pretty exhausted and overwhelmed. These verses are resounding in my head as I seek rest.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythm of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep Company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”


Matthew 11:28 (The message)