I Saw, I Heard, I Felt

As we toured Israel, I hiked right behind the guide. David would be somewhere in the line of our group. I entered each site, took 1 picture, and then chose a spot for David to rest.

The doctor said his left knee is “bone on bone” in four places. He walks over 10,000 steps a day at work, with only a lunch break. When he gets home, he stretches out that leg. Resting with it completely straight gives him relief.

We always sat in the back seat of the bus. David sat in the center seat and kept his leg straight in the aisle.

My routine helped his leg but not my pictures! I wanted to record everything the guide said and didn’t check the pictures until I was back on the bus.

I am posting them unfiltered. There are blurry portions. The photo of the “place of the skull” has one-third of a fence in it. You can see the tour buses in the parking lot below.

Why would I post them?

So, you would believe me when I said, “I went to Israel!” If I posted pristine photos you may think I used stock photos. I want to share what I saw, heard, and felt.

Our route through Israel, starting and ending in Tel Aviv.

Mark 16:11, 13, “When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it. …13) They went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either.”

New American Standard Bible

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The disciples didn’t believe Mary. They didn’t believe the two followers who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus. They didn’t believe Jesus when He told them He would suffer, be crucified, and rise from the dead on the third day.

The last thing Jesus said to his disciples before he ascended to Heaven was, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation,” Mark 16:15. NASB

How could they do that? Who would believe them?

They shared what they saw, heard, and felt. Back then, they called it testifying.

John 21:24, “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.”

New American Standard Bible

Each disciple shared the same message until their deaths. Eleven men were tortured, imprisoned, and most were martyred, yet they never changed their testimony.

I believe them.

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Everything Was Harder Than I Imagined

The room was circular. It used to be a cistern. When I got to the bottom, I couldn’t find a comfortable place to stand. The floor was like a bowl and the surface was uneven rocks. I felt like I was falling into the center.

High above my head, approximately 20 feet was a hole just large enough for a man to be let down. Pastor Monte Knudsen read about Jesus being held in this place. I hoped his devotion was short.

Jesus’ experience was much worse. They let him down by a rope. There was most likely water in the cistern. There were no steps to sit on, no lights, and no windows.

He had been up all night praying. He was tired but couldn’t even sit down. It was winter. He was wet, cold, and facing three trials, torture, and finally crucifixion.

First, Jesus was tried by His church – High Priest Caiaphas

The chief priest and officers of the temple arrested him, Luke 22:47-54. The temple soldiers mocked him, blindfolded him, and beat him, Luke 22:63, 64.

They wanted to see him prophesy, asking, “Who hit you?”

Second, Jesus was tried by the mayor – King Herod

Luke 23:11, “And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate.”

New American Standard Bible

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Jesus was questioned, accused, treated with contempt, and mocked in Luke 23:8-12.

Herod wanted to see a sign.

Third, Jesus was tried by the governor – Pontius Pilate

Pilate found him innocent, Luke 23:4, 14. Yet, he still wanted to punish him before he released him, Luke 23:16, 22.

We read yesterday how the Roman soldiers scourged him, put a crown of thorns on him, beat him on the head, spit on him, mocked him, and finally, crucified him, see Mark 15:15-24.

Pilate wanted to forget Jesus. He took a bowl of water and washed his hand, saying, he was innocent of this man’s blood, Matthew 27:24.

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Everything Jesus experienced was a million times harder than I perceived from reading the Bible. He hiked down the Mt. of Olives and crossed the Kidron stream. He hiked halfway up Mt. Moriah to Caiaphas’s house. He hiked further up Mt Moriah to be tried by Pilate.

Then he dragged the cross back down through the steep, narrow, crowded Via Dolorosa over bedrock, patches of bricks, uncut rocks, and sections of pavement. It is amazing that he only fell once. He climbed the last hill, Golgotha, or place of the skull.

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I walked on paths, steps, rocks, and ancient roads. I turned my ankle twice. I rode a bus from site to site. We hiked 1-3 miles a day.

Jesus hiked up and down mountains, through packed streets because it was the week of Passover. I can’t comprehend how many miles he hiked that day and each stop was worse than the last!

He did it for me…and you.

I invite you to go to your local church. I don’t care what your motive is: to hear a prophecy (the future is written in the Bible); to see a sign, or to declare your innocence.

Jesus was up all night. We can get up early because tomorrow we celebrate!

Hole in the ceiling of the cistern at Caiaphas’s house where Jesus was held.

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Getting Water

At the end of the day of touring, we were treated to a lavish buffet. On each table were a couple of carafes of water. The waiters kept bringing more during the meal. After hiking a couple of miles, we emptied those carafes pretty quickly!

Luke 22:10, “And He said to them, ‘When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters.'”

New American Standard Bible

Why was a man carrying water? Who was that man? I was curious and checked my NIV Study Bible.

“It would have been unusual to see a man carrying a jar of water since this was normally women’s work.”

New International Version Study Bible, Note on Luke 22:10, Zondervan, 2011

Acts 12:12, “…he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.”

New International Version Study Bible

“…Apparently her home was a gathering place for Christians. It may have been the location of the upper room where the Last Supper was held. …”

NIV Study Bible Notes on Acts 12:12

“John…Mark…He was perhaps the young man who fled on the night of Jesus’ arrest (Mk 14:51-52). He wrote the second Gospel. …and accompanied Barnabas and Paul on the first part of their first missionary journey.”

NIV Study Bible Notes on Acts 12:25

Based on those verses, this man may have been Mark. Why was Mark carrying water? (Women and slaves got up early to draw water from the well.)

Mary, his mother, may have asked him to get fresh water. Why? The room was furnished and prepared for the Passover meal. This water would have been served at the Passover.

Mark had already learned the lesson Jesus spoke of in verses 24-27 and John 13:5-20.

Luke 22:26, “But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.”

New American Standard Bible

A well in the home of a rich landowner in the Nazareth village.

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No Stone Unturned

Journal, March 29, 2022

When the Romans burned the temple in 70 A.D., the gold melted and ran down to the foundation stones. They took huge beams and pried them under each stone and pushed it onto the road below to get the gold.

The Jews left a pile of rubble on the Roman road when they excavated the site. They are the stones from the temple.

A pile of stones the Romans flipped off of the wall of the temple with wooden beams. They left them on the road after they recovered the gold melted onto them.

Eli, the guide, pointed out a massive crater in the original Roman road that was caused by the falling stones.

Our guide, Eli, explained the damage to the road from the falling stones.

Luke 21:6, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.”

New American Standard Bible

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. He knows the beginning and the end. Two thousand and twenty-two years later, the stones from the temple are still sitting where the Romans left them, just like Jesus said. I can trust him because he was there at the beginning of my life and already knows how it will end!

Psalms 139: 16, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

New International Version

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Back from Israel

I prayed for 30 years to go visit the Holy Land. That prayer was answered on March 21st. Three years ago, God showed us where to get the down payment. Then he showed us what to do to raise the rest of the money. Each sacrifice became easier.

Our plane was to leave 2 days before the world shut down because of COVID-19. The trip was postponed three times and then canceled.

When Israel opened up for tourism, the trip was reinstated. Twenty-four of the original 39 took a leap of faith, and 3 COVID tests, to tour the relatively empty sites.

David and I took a selfie at the Dead Sea!

It was a huge miracle. But God is a God of miracles, large and small.

1 Kings 17:24, “Then the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.’

New American Standard Bible

Raising her son from the dead was the second miracle the woman received, vv.17-23. The flour in her bowl and the oil in her jar didn’t run out for three years, v. 16. She didn’t believe Elijah was a prophet of the Lord until she received a big miracle.

Statue of Elijah on the top of Mt. Carmel

Dear Lord, forgive me for not recognizing the miracles of provision that you send every day. Amen.

Hebrews 11:6, “We must believe that God…rewards everyone who searches for Him.”

Contemporary English Version

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Who Is It?

1 Samuel 17:55, “Now when Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner the commander of the army, ‘Abner, whose son is this young man?’ And Abner said, ‘By your life, O king, I do not know.'”

New American Standard Bible

Wait a minute. Saul didn’t recognize David? We read how Saul sent messengers to Jesse to send David to him, 1 Samuel 16:14-23.

David played and sang whenever Saul was tormented. It said, “Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer.” 1 Samuel 16:24. Yet, when he left to face Goliath, Saul didn’t know who he was?

* * * * * * *

This is my “Why!”

I’m working through homework from a Dean Graziosi class that I took on January 4th. One exercise is to determine your “Why?”

“Why do I blog?”

One reason I discovered was that I believe everyone is important. Everyone deserves a place to dream and create. Everyone deserves to thrive – even while unemployed or living under the poverty level.

Been there. Done that. Got the tee-shirt! 🙂

Everyone matters. Saul should have recognized the youth who played and sang while he was depressed. He should have recognized his armor-bearer.

Dear Jesus,

Please don’t let me overlook anyone. Help me to remember names and their story. And give me the words to help others thrive regardless of their income, both here and at frugalfish.org.

Amen.

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Under the Pomegranate Tree

1 Samuel 14:2, “Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree which is in Migron. And the people who were with him were about six hundred men.”

New American Standard Bible

Notice the phrase, “the pomegranate tree which is in Migron.” The Bible does not say, Saul stayed under “a” pomegranate tree but “the” pomegranate tree which is in Migron. What was special about that tree?

“Under a pomegranate tree. Under Rimmon, which not only signifies a pomegranate tree, but also a strong rock, in which 600 Benjaminites took shelter, Judges 20:45. Probably it was in this very rock that Saul and his 600 men now lay hidden.”

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Holy Bible,
Abridged by Ralph Earle,
1 Samuel 14:2, p. 306

It was more than a pomegranate tree but I am not surprised that Saul chose that place because I believe he liked to eat. So do others. Me, I am the others!

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I have a strange relationship with food. If I have an abundance, I give most of it away. When shopping, I buy just enough for a week and then I break that chocolate bar into 7 pieces and only eat 1 piece a day!

I count my cheese, lunchmeat, graham crackers, bread, and coffee pods before I have seconds to make sure I don’t run out before my weekly Aldi’s run.

I learned something about myself this weekend. I have food rules:

  1. Clean up your plate.
  2. When eating at someone’s place, eat everything offered to you.
  3. Don’t waste food – save the leftovers.

Saturday night, we had our annual Star Awards Volunteer Banquet. This year’s theme was “A Taste of Italy.”

They served: lasagna, chicken alfredo, salad, breadsticks, and chocolate cheesecake. After my second breadstick, I was too full for cheesecake! I thought I would eat it during the awards presentation.

I was part of the “Chicken Dance Flash Mob” and ran around a lot during the “People Bingo.” Surely, I would have room for cheesecake after that!

Nope.

After taking pictures?

Nope.

After the “Dad Jokes?”

Nope.

During the awards?

Nope.

The highlight of our evening was when our son Derek and his wife Rachel were named the youngest recipients of the “Volunteer of the Year!” You can only win that award once!

As we gathered our things to go, Derek said, “Mom, that cheesecake is no good.” (It had been on the table for over 3 hours.)

“I know,” I replied.

Still, I put it and the other piece that was left on the table on a plate to take home.

Why? Because of my food rules. I put them in the refrigerator and after 4 days, my conscience will let me throw them away.

Where did my food rules come from?

I grew up in Bible Schools where my father served as the maintenance man. He was a handyman who could fix anything. Part of his salary was food. We ate what the students ate.

(Liver, three times a day for a month. We had a “chef” cooking when a truckload of liver was donated to the school.)

During the summer months, we lived with Grandpa and Grandma on the farm. Dad worked with my uncles who were electricians and mom helped with the gardening, butchering chickens, making homemade catsup, and canning.

We ate whatever Grandma made. We cleaned up our plates and didn’t waste food.

I was taller than my sisters and slender because of my high metabolism. Until I got braces, I had difficulty chewing my food. I ate slowly. They kept trying to put “meat on my bones” by adding a bit more food to my plate.

It never worked. I stayed slim until I turned 40 and my metabolism slowed down.

I am glad to know why I struggle with weight loss. It is my “food rules.” But Saturday, I decided to change them. I will take half-portions to avoid stuffing myself. I will leave the leftovers for others.

I said all of that to say, I can relate to Saul. I like food!

David and I at the “2022 Star Awards Volunteer Banquet.”

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The Bread is Gone

Israel wants a king. Samuel prayed and the Lord tells him He has a man in mind.

1 Samuel 9:1, “Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, …a mighty man of valor.”

New American Standard Bible

The Bible describes Kish as a “mighty man of valor.” But he is not the man God has chosen. He chose his son, Saul. Saul is described as “choice, handsome, and tall,” v. 2. Later in the chapter we see another characteristic of Saul – he likes to eat.

In verse 5, Saul told his servant they should return because his father would be worried. Was he truly thinking of his father? Or his stomach?

1 Samuel 9:7, “…For the bread is gone from our sack…”

New American Standard Bible

The servant told him he had a little money, v. 8. If Saul was led by his stomach, he would have thought, “We can buy food.” He would have been happy to hear there was a sacrifice that day, (v. 12), because there was plenty of food, even for travelers.

When we are out of bread, we want to buy what we can get or have someone give us what we need. God wants to give us exceedingly more than we can ask or think, Ephesians 3:20.

1 Samuel 10:24, “Then the cook took up the leg with what was on it and set it before Saul.”

New American Standard Bible

The Bible does not say what animal was sacrificed. It could have been a leg of lamb or the leg of a bull! God continued to provide food for Saul and his servant.

1 Samuel 10:4, “And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from their hand.”

New American Standard Bible

As we encounter empty shelves at our local stores, we need to remember this. We are not dependent on the amount of money in our pocket. We are not dependent on the charity of others. We depend on God. He is an extravagant giver.

At the beginning of the pandemic, we ran out of carrots and potatoes. I had hoped to find a 5-pound bag of potatoes and a 1-pound bag of carrots. The shelves were empty. That afternoon my sister showed up with 10 pounds of white potatoes, 10 pounds of red potatoes, and 5 pounds of carrots. She wouldn’t take any money for them. You can read about it here.

Do you need food? Ask God!

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It’s Out of My Jurisdiction

The Pharisees “plotted together how they might trap Him,” Matthew 22:15. They asked him if it was “lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” Matthew 22:17.

“…keep in mind the separate jurisdictions in the Bible: (1) the individual, (2) the family, (3) the church, and (4) the government.

…For example, the Bible speaks of bearing the sword to punish wrongdoers (Romans 13:14), but this verse is for civil government, not the other three.

…When we see a command in the Scriptures, we should always ask ourselves: To which sphere(s) did God direct this command?

…At the time of Jesus’ ministry, the Jews lived under a political system they hated and from which they were seeking a Messiah to deliver them, but it was a capital offense to stir up opposition to Rome or Roman law.

…If Jesus answered, “No,” it would be considered civil insurrection and the Romans would execute Him. But if He answered, “Yes,” He would lose support among the people, …Jesus answered this potentially lethal question by reminding them of the proper jurisdictions…”

“To Whom is God Speaking,” The Founder’s Bible, The Origin of the Dream of Freedom, pp. 1489-1490.

The Sadducees questioned him on a command to the family. They were unsuccessful.

Matthew 22:34, “But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together.”

New American Standard Bible

Next, they tried to trick him with a command for the individual, “Which is the greatest commandment,” Matthew 22:35-40.

Then Jesus pointed out all the ways the Pharisees exploited the commands to the church, Matthew 23:13-36.

As an individual, I do not have the authority to inflict punishment – that belongs to the civil government. I do not have the authority to discipline others children – that belongs to their parents. I do not have the authority to decide how the saints are equipped, (Ephesians 4:12), – that belongs to the leaders God established in my church.

My job is to “love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind, and my neighbor as myself,” Matthew 22:37-39. If I love my neighbor, I would never: murder him, sleep with his wife, steal his belongings, lie about him, or wish I had his belongings.

When I do as Jesus commanded – love my neighbor as myself – the “don’ts” are never a consideration. It is not a matter of “Don’t murder” but love, not hate, because hate leads to murder. When I do as Jesus instructed, I don’t desire to break any of those five commandments. When I love the Lord God with all my heart, soul, and mind, I don’t desire to break any of the first five commandments.

Proverbs 21:2, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.”

New American Standard Bible

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Receive a Hundred Times as Much

God weighs my motives when I give. Am I giving just to get something? Am I giving grudgingly? Am I giving to impress someone? Or am I planting a seed expecting a harvest later?

Mark 10:30, “But he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.”

New American Standard Bible

Persecution? That is not something I like to see on the list! But even those who give everything to share the love of Jesus Christ will endure persecutions. The ultimate reward for us all is eternal life.

“And having secured the approval of our hearts by a faithful and unwearied discharge of our duty…let us joyfully leave our concerns in the hands of Him who raiseth up and pulleth down the empires and kingdoms of the world as He pleases.”

John Hancock, Signer of the Declaration of Independence
Louie R. Heller, early American Orations 1760-1824 (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1902), pp. 48-49, John Hancock’s Oration on the Boston Massacre, March 5, 1774

A faithful and unwearied discharge of my duty will secure the approval of my heart.

A servant will become great, and a slave to all will become first. Just as Christ came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many, Mark 10:42-45.

“But remember, my dear friend, that ‘none liveth to himself’ (Romans 14:7). Even our old age is not our property. All its fruits of wisdom and experience belong to the public. ‘To do good’ is the business of life. ‘To enjoy rest’ is the happiness of Heaven. We pluck premature for forbidden fruit when we grasp at rest on this side the grave.”

Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration
‘Letters of Benjamin Rush,’ ed. L. H. Butterfield (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951), Vol. I, pp. 478-479, to John Dickinson on July 15, 1788.

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“Understandably, the Founding Fathers would have very much preferred to live their lives quietly secluded with their own families…

George Washington…as a young man…called away from his home…to lead…in the French and Indian War.

…Years later…called on him to serve them in the Continental Congress, …he was chosen to lead all military forces in the American Revolution.

…He was called out of retirement to head a convention that produced the U. S. Constitution…

…Once more called him from retirement to lead the new government…”

The Founder’s bible, The Origin of the Dream of Freedom, pp. 1526-1527

Our Founding Fathers understood duty and service. They didn’t sit on their laurels but shared their wisdom and experience when called. Their objective was to do good and please their Heavenly Father. How can I do less?

Proverbs 20:5, “A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out.”

New American Standard Bible

Dear Merciful God, draw me closer to you. Heal my country. Show me what I should do. Amen.

Daniel 9:18, “Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”

New International Version

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