It's like the breath of Jesus is right here in this room...

Well I'm officially single now.  What a ride.  I loved him.  I still love him.  Fifteen months is a long time to be with someone and not still love him. Will we ever be together again?  Who knows.  Only God knows. This relationship has definitely opened my eyes.  I truly believe that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  We never know at the time how long they will be in our lives, but they are always put there for a reason.  I believe I am exactly where God wants me to be.  There is a reason I am where I am.  I'm not sure yet what that is, but I can't wait to find out.  Something that is helping me get through this is Jeremiah 29:12&13.  "Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.  And ye shall see me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."  Wow, those are some powerful words.  If I seek God with all of my heart, I will find him.  He doesn't have to find me.  He already loves me.  It is I who needs to do the searching.  Do I want Jesus walking behind me or do I want him walking beside me?  I need Him every step of the way.  Keep me in your prayers...

I'm heading to Israel for 11 days next month.  Our trip is from February 27-March 8.  I absolutely can not wait.  I love the lyrics of "Better Hands Now" by Natalie Grant because they are so true.  The line that says "It's like the breath of Jesus is right here in this room," is absolutely amazing.  It's so true.  I'm going to be in the same places that Jesus was.  I'm going to feel the air that Jesus breathed.  I can't wait to go to Israel and experience things that Christ experienced.  I will be walking where Jesus walked. 

Day 1 – Departure
We travel from Atlanta to Tel Aviv

Day 2 – Israel
Upon arrival, we will receive an overview and instructions as we travel to our hotel for unpacking, dinner, and devotions on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.  Day 3 we will be walking where Jesus walked.

Day 3 – Caesarea, Megiddo, and Jordan River Baptism Site
After breakfast, we travel by private motor coach along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to Caesarea, where gentiles first heard the Good News from Peter and were baptized.  See the Roman Amphitheatre and aqueduct.  Then we will journey to Mt. Carmel, where Elijah hid from King Ahab and through the Jezreal Valley to Megiddo, where archaeologists have unearthed 20 levels of civilization.  We conclude our day with a visit to the Jordan River Baptismal site.  We will have dinner and overnight lodging for the next two nights in the Tiberias area on the Sea of Galilee.

Day 4 – Capernaum, Dan Caesarea Philippi, and Mount of Beatitudes
Following breakfast, our morning travels take us to the Dan and Caesarea Philippi, site of Peter's Confession.  In Capernaum, we will visit the ruins of an ancient synagogue and Peter's home.  Then we travel to the site of the multiplications of loaves and fishes and the Mount of Beatitudes overlooking the Sea where Jesus gave his "Sermon on the Mount."  A relaxing cruise on the Sea of Galilee with east viewing of the nearby Golan Heights brings to life the experience of the fisherman disciples and a conclusion to a wonderful day.

Day 5 – Nazareth, Biet-Shean, and the Dead Sea
We begin the day with a visit to Mt. Arbel for a panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee and surrounding lands.  From this overview, we will be able to have a valuable lesson in geographic layout of Jesus' early ministry.  We continue on through the area of Cana and Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus, where we visit the Nazareth Village – a wonderful recreation of Biblical times with costumed guides.  Next, we travel southward to Biet-Shean/Scythopolis, the most significant archeological site in Israel, located at the strategic juncture of the Jezreel and Jordan valleys.  Like Jericho, it has been almost continuously occupied throughout history.    During the intertestamental period, the city was renamed the "Scythopolis."  Archaeologists have uncovered a huge number of ruins of the Roman/Byzantine Scythopolis.  During the time of Jesus, Scythopolis was one of the chief cities of the Decapolis – a league of ten cities sharing Greek culture and government.  As we travel along, we will view the oldest city in the world – Jericho, before coming to the Dead Sea.  We will be spending time in the special spa and enjoy a dip in the Dead Sea for a relaxing float before turning to the hotel.

Day 6 – Masada, Dead Sea Scrolls, Ein Gedi
Our day begins with a cable car ride to the mountain top fortress of Masada.  Here our guide will treat us to the history of the famous zealot stand.  We will visit Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.  Afterwards, we will proceed to Ein Gedi, "Spring of the Goat," an oasis on the western shore of the Dead Sea.  Because of its warm climate and abundant supply of water, the site developed a reputation for its fragrant plans and date palm groves.  This is where King David hid from Saul, and where God defeated the Israelites by praise and worship led by King Jehoshaphat (1 Samuel 23:29; Song of Songs 1:14.)  Our lodging will be in Jerusalem.

Day 7 – Jesus' steps, The Last Days
Today we walk where Jesus walked.  Begin the day with a panoramic view of the city, Mount Moriah and the Dome of the Rock from atop the Mount of Olives and then the Garden of Gethsemane.  How many have wished to be whisked back in time to get a glimpse of our Lord or hear His voice if only for a moment?  To walk between the ancient olive trees, read the scriptures of Jesus' prayer, and taking time for personal reflection is important here.  Next we visit the house of Caiaphas and the "Upper Room" where the disciple, whom Jesus loved, laid his head on His breast and where later Thomas cried, "My Lord and God."  From here we will see the ancient Roam Cardo, Arab marketplace, Herodian Mansion, Temple Institute and Western Wall. 

Day 8 – Around Jerusalem, Bible Times
An interesting and educational day of touring awaits us today beginning at the Israeli Museum.  We will walk through collections of centuries old Israeli artifacts including the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a guided walk through an accurately detailed model of Biblical Jerusalem.  Next, we will visit the South Wall Excavations.  This southern side of the Temple was the main entrance for the common folk, whereas the Priests and Levites had their own entrance from the higher, eastern side.  Parts of the giant stairs, which led to the Temple Mount from the courtyard, have been unearthed.  It is in this courtyard that Jesus likely drove out the vendors and money exchangers who were exploiting people.  It is also likely that this is the place where Peter stood and preached and where thousands were saved and baptized.  On our way out of the city we will visit the Wailing Wall and then the fascinating Rabbinical Tunnels leading us through the Second Temple era.

Day 9 – Holocaust Museum, Way of Suffering, Garden Tomb
We will take time this day to visit the Children's Exhibit of the Holocaust Museum before we enter the old city through Stephen's Gate and visit the pool of Bethesda where Jesus cured a cripple.  We will move onto the judgment Hall of Pilate, hear of those who conspired against Him and are reminded of His brutal beating and humiliation.  While walking along the Via Dolorosa, we are reminded of His way of suffering, view the Church of the Sepulcher before we arrive at the climax of our tour – The Garden Tomb.  Your faith in, that blessed hope and communion with Christ, will take on a new meaning.

Day 10 – Reflection
A day of reflection, revisiting special sights, shopping on our own and going back to the airport for an overnight flight.

Day 11 – Return home
We return home via Atlanta.

As I sit here and reread the itinerary that we will be doing in Israel, the same verse keeps popping into my head.  "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)  I can't wait to just take everything in and feel the spirit of Jesus all around me. 

I am currently reading "No Wonder They Call Him The Savior" by Max Lucado.  Wow.  That's all I can say.  Talk about putting things into perspective.  There is an excerpt that says "If it is true that a picture paints a thousand words, then there was a Roman centurion who got a dictionary full.  All he did was see Jesus suffer.  He never heard him preach or saw him heal or followed him through the crowds.  He never witnessed him still the wind; he only witnessed the way he died.   But that was all it took to cause this weather-worn soldier to take a giant step in faith, saying, "Surely this was a righteous man." (Luke 23:47)

If only we could learn from this. 

He is God.  He is our Father.  We are his children.  "And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20)


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