Monthly Archives: May 2019

The Ultimate Sacrifice

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“No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

I can’t think of a more selfless job than to serve in the military. To be willing to separate yourself from the ones you love and possibly die for the freedom of people you’ve never met is beyond courageous… it’s Christlike.

As we head home from Israel on this Memorial Day, I’m so very thankful for those men and women who make and have made that selfless choice, and I’m beyond grateful for Jesus and the ultimate sacrifice He made on the cross so I can live in freedom here on earth. Appropriately, we ended our trip to the Holy land yesterday with a visit to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus agonized with the Father over this sacrifice that lay ahead of Him.

As we walked to the Garden, we traveled through the Kidron Valley with the Mount of Olives on our left and the Temple grounds on our right. It was incredible to imagine the disciples and Jesus walking this path 2000 years ago after the Passover supper as Jesus tried to prepare them for what was about to happen.

As He and His disciples walked to Gethsemane, Jesus used the imagery of a vine and branches and spoke of the importance of remaining close to Him. He spoke of His amazing love for each of His followers and encouraged them to love one another the same. And He spoke of the Counselor to come, the Spirit that would guide them into all truth. (John 15-16). And then, Jesus said a beautiful prayer of protection over His people (John 17).

Here is a picture of the Kidron Valley with the Mount of Olives on the left:

As we entered Gethsemane, I was first struck by the enormity of the trunks of the trees. Our guide told us they dated back 2000 to 2500 years ago. We were able to sit in the Garden and reflect on the night Jesus cried out, “Abba, Father, if you are willing take this cup from me. Nevertheless, not My will but yours be done.” (Matt. 26:39, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42).

As we listened to the Scripture, I imagined Peter, James, and John reclining against one of the trunks desperately trying to stay awake as Jesus instructed them to do, but falling asleep instead. I imagined the stress Jesus’ human body was under as He prayed and sweated drops of blood at the thought of being separated from His Father. And I imagined Judas Iscariot and the soldiers walking into the Garden to arrest Jesus.

The Scriptures came alive to me here like never before.

Below are some pictures of the Garden. In the last picture, you can see the now sealed off Eastern gates in the distance where Jesus would have walked through as our Passover Lamb – you can also see the Dome of the Rock where the Temple would have stood. (Side note: the Temple was actually 2 1/2 times the size of the dome so it would have towered over the Temple walls).

After Gethsemane, we had the incredible privilege of going to a worship service at King of Kings Community Jerusalem. This congregation was planted 15 years ago with only 17 members. Today, they have grown to a congregation of over 1000, including Messianic Jews, Arab Christians, and Christians. It was amazing to stand among such a diverse group of people and worship as one.

The sermon entitled “Love Gave” followed the theme of sacrifice. The pastor spoke of how we serve a God whose motive for anything He does is based on nothing but love, and he spoke of how this merciful God is a God of second (and third, and fourth) chances. I’m more thankful than ever for His love and mercy today.

So, as I head home, I’m super reflective on my own personal journey with Jesus. I know I want, more than ever, more of Him and less of me. I want to walk each day, each minute, in relation with Him. And I desperately want to reflect His sacrificial, selfless love.

I’ve been educated, and now know, more than ever, the importance of praying for the Messianic Jews who, as a result of choosing Christ as Messiah, are being isolated and discriminated against around the world. We, as a family of faith, must pray for our brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, and we must pray for His chosen people, the Jewish nation.

One day we will all be back to Holy land, and what a glorious day it will be! Yes, one day we will all see the new heaven and the new earth and the new Jerusalem! And, we will worship the One True God as one Holy nation! How incredible will that be?!

“Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His peoples and God Himself will be with them and will be their God. …. He who testifies about these things says, ‘Yes! I am coming soon.’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 21:3; 22:20)

The Living Water

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“But whoever drinks from the water I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up for him in eternal life.” John 4:14

Today was all about the water as we traveled from Jerusalem to The Sea of Galilee, had a baptism in the Jordan River, and finished with a view where the prophet Elijah looked for rain. It was emotional for me as we either stood on or drove by the actual places where Jesus preached and performed miracles.

As we began the two hour bus ride from Jerusalem to Galilee, I couldn’t help but imagine how difficult this walk must have been in Jesus’ day. We traveled between the tribal lines of Benjamin and Judah and saw many sites mentioned in the Bible. We went by the Samaritan mountains (where Jesus met the woman at the well and spoke of the living water He offered), the Jezreel Valley (where the battle in the book of Judges between Barak and Sisera took place, not to mention and many other wars), and Cana of Galilee (where Jesus performed His first miracle of turning water into wine).

As we came into Galilee, our first stop was the Mount of Beatitudes (Matthew 5) on the north side of the Sea. We had a beautiful view from here, and, once again,we had the privilege of hearing from a Messianic Jewish Pastor.

Here is a picture from the mountain:

After our “sermon on the Mount,” we headed to the coast of the Sea of Galilee where the town of Capernaum is located. This town, noted as the home of Jesus in scripture (Mark 2:1), was also the home of His disciple Peter. Jesus performed many miracles and preached many sermons in Capernaum . Some of the miracles here included the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt 8:15), the paralytic man (Mark 2:3-5), and the servant of the Roman officer (Matt. 8:13).

The following two pictures are of Peter’s house and the remains of a 4th century synagogue which was built directly on top of the synagogue Jesus preached many times.

Next on our our agenda was a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee where we had live worship music as we saw the different towns around the Sea. We also read the scripture of Jesus walking on the water and Peter stepping out in faith to Him. Our focus wasn’t on Peter’s fear after stepping on the water. Instead, we focused on the fact he actually got out. Our pastor challenged us to “step out in faith” to whatever God is calling us to do. After all, don’t you think the disciples were thinking “man, I wish I would have done that?!” 🙂

Here was our view from the boat (incidentally, the mountain you see is where Jesus fed the 5000):

The afternoon began with the most amazing experience I’ve ever had – baptism alongside Allen in the Jordan River. The last time I was baptized I was 8 years old, not really understanding what baptism meant. Today, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I stepped into the water where John the Baptist immersed Jesus Himself.

“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.'” Mark 1:9-11

Here are some pictures from the Jordan River:

As we ended our day and began our journey back to Jerusalem, we had one more stop at the Mount of Carmel. We were able to hear from the pastor at the synagogue here who, by the grace and provision of God, was able to plant the synagogue at the top of the mountain.

The Mount of Carmel is where the prophet Elijah discredited the 450 false prophets of Baal. It is also where the Lord had Elijah look for a rain cloud after the long drought in Israel (1 Kings 18). The ending of our day, seen in the picture below, shows where Elijah’s servant looked for that rain cloud. In the picture, we are standing on the top of the Mount of Carmel looking towards the Mediterranean Sea.

The only appropriate way I feel I can end this post is in a prayer to God. Thank you for reading and for journeying with me!

Lord, may your living water of rain fall afresh on your children. Keep us rejuvenated by the power of Your Holy Spirit so that we may refresh those who are thirsty. Give us revelation so we may know you more and share Your love with others. And may we live for You and give glory and honor to You as we give your living water to those around us. In Yeshua’s name, Amen

Investing in the Land

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“For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share in their material blessings.” Romans 15:27

Day Two: Today was just as enlightening as yesterday, yet on a much different level. It started with a one hour bus ride to Tel Aviv to one of the worst slum areas of the city. After all, as one leader told us today, “Why would you visit Israel and not go to the places Jesus would have visited?”

As we traveled we heard about the history of the church in Israel, the relations surrounding the Jews, Christians, and the Messianic Jews, and the growth of the Messianic Jews since Israel was declared a nation again in 1948. We learned that growth has gone from 23 Messianic Jews to 30,000, but there is much work to be done – and we learned through a few organizations how God is reaching out to His chosen people.

We first went to the Red Carpet Nail Center – a safe haven for women involved in sex trafficking, prostitution and drug addiction. Jewish, Arab, and former Soviet Union women are welcomed here to feel the love of Christ without demands or limits. It was very emotional hearing the stories of these women who are desperate for healing from the Holy Spirit. The desire of the center is for each woman who enters their doors to recognize she is the King’s daughter, worthy, valued, precious, and loved.

From there, we went to Kitepride. A business that helps to partner with the Red Carpet Center in getting jobs for the women who want to leave the prostitution industry. Their goal is to speak to the women regarding their future hoping they can let go of their past, and then, lead them to a destiny God has planned for them. I encourage you to look at their website Kitepride.com and read their story of how they are making bags from repurposed kites and employing these women who create them.

After lunch, we heard from one of the leaders from One for Israel. An organization that is reaching Jewish people for Christ by starting the only Hebrew Bible College in the world – and its in Jerusalem, which is a miracle!

You may be familiar with the One for Israel testimonial videos. If not, get on YouTube and watch one. These videos were started to reach the next generation of young, technologically savvy people.

The testimonials were started because the organization saw that a non-believer, whether atheist, Jewish, or Muslim would more likely watch a video in private than listen to a message in public. These videos as of today have been watched 90 million times! People are hungry for Jesus!!

As far as our Biblical sites today, we did have lunch on the Mediterranean Sea where Jonah ran from the Lord.

“But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.” Jonah 1:3

Here’s a picture of that port today:

From the port we walked to Simon the Tanners house where Peter was staying in Joppa when he received his vision from the Lord regarding Jews and the Gentiles.

“He said to them: ‘You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean....Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism  but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” Acts 10:28;34-35

Just beyond this door is where Peter had his vision of the church today:

Today, I was challenged. Challenged in my own walk and spiritual purpose. What is God calling me to do? What do I have a heart for? Am I going to follow my heart or ignore it?

I think these are questions God wants us consistently asking ourselves. After all, we are His hands and feet, and He longs for us to experience His power as we step out in faith for Him. What is God calling you to do today?

History and Holiness

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“The stones aren’t holy. What’s happened here is holy.” – Jerusalem Tour guide

Day One – A Tour of the Temple Grounds

Today, we started our journey into the Holy Land in what I now know as the most important archeological site in the world- The Holy Temple. Our Jewish tour guide was overflowing with information regarding the history and tradition surrounding this site. I wish I had the time to write all I learned. But, for this post, I’ll keep it to a few highlights.

As we drove this morning toward the southern side of the temple, the Mount of Olives was on our left. I always pictured the Mount of Olives farther away from the temple, but it was literally across the street. It was surreal thinking this was the area Jesus not only preached to His disciples, but where He also ascended to Heaven. (Acts 1:7-12)

We began our morning at the “Southern Steps” – a place where all Jews (including Jesus) were required to walk up three times a year to the Temple for Passover, Pentecost, and Feast of Tabernacles as instructed in the law given to Moses. The steps are also believed to be where Peter preached after the anointing of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.

As a side note: The steps were uneven and had different landing spaces. Our tour guide said the reasoning for the steps being this way was so the Jewish people wouldn’t rush into God’s presence. They were forced to take their time. This resonated with me and my routine on Sunday mornings – do I rush into God’s presence or prepare my heart as I attend worship?

We were at the steps around 9am, precisely when Peter would have preached. Amazingly, the steps were empty and quiet, and we had an amazing sermon given by a pastor here. He spoke of the church being birthed through Peter’s speech as 3000 Jews accepted Jesus as Messiah that day. I could imagine the thousands of Jews listening to Peter, this uneducated fisherman who denied even knowing Jesus just 50 days earlier, boldly speaking of God’s Kingdom.

As I reflected, I sat in gratitude toward Peter and those followers who joined him in passionately spreading the good news of Jesus so 2000 years later I could hear about Jesus and be saved. None of it could have been possible without the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was right when He told them before He died that it was better He go away (John 16:7).

Here are a couple of pictures of the steps:

From the steps, we headed toward the Western Wall or the “Wailing Wall.” This Wall, which was one of the supporting walls of the Temple Mount, is the most religious site in the world for the Jewish people today as it is the only remnants of the Second Temple built since Rome destroyed the Temple In 70 A.D. The Wall was much more magnificent than I imagined – huge with massive stones rising over 130 feet from the ground where we stood.

It was a holy moment as we were able to place prayers in the cracks of the wall – and place our hands on the wall and pray. I imagined thousands of years ago, the Holy of Holies (the inner sanctuary of the Temple where God’s presence appeared and only accessible by the high priest once a year) just being beyond this Western Wall. It was overwhelming.

Side note: to make more room for the prayers, every 2 years Rabbis collect the prayers and bury them in the Mount of Olives.

Pictures of the wall below:

Next, we were able to walk through the tunnels of the Western Wall which stand 2-3 stories below ground level. We learned much history from King David to King Herod to Suleiman the Magnificent. Again, it was amazing to walk on roads built over 2000 years ago which are now well below ground.

As the afternoon approached we walked (in reverse) the Via Dolorosa – “The Way of the Cross.” While our guide repeatedly told us this might not be the exact route, he emphasized the importance of focusing on the proximity to the original events and reflect upon those.

We started at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where in 335 A.D. Constantine, the Roman emperor who made Christianity the national religion of Rome, erected a church to encompass Golgotha (where Jesus died) and the tomb where He was buried.

The following picture, though dark, is the shrine built over the rock of Golgotha (you can see people in line to touch the rock)

The next picture is the tomb of Christ. Traditionally, this was built around the site of where Christ was buried. In the picture, people are standing in line to touch the marble slab Jesus could have laid.

The next picture posted is a cave nearby Jesus’ tomb that was excavated recently. The finding of this cave brought more hope that the tomb built around The burial of Jesus could be accurate.

I learned so much history today, but more than that, my faith and my belief in God’s Word and its amazing accuracy was strengthened and secured. The Bible isn’t legend, or folklore, or mere tradition – IT. IS. REAL.

The books in the Bible happened. The history is there, and from what we saw today, the archeological findings continue to confirm the Bible as truth.

I don’t know where you stand today in your faith, but let me encourage you – we serve a God who is real. A God who came in the form of a man to shed His blood for our sins so we can be reconciled to Him when we die.

Jerusalem is the epicenter of our faith. One day we will all worship together here, and we will understand our God who cannot be completely understood while we are here. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait!

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’

He said to me: ‘It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.‘” Revelation 21:1-7

Beyond the Pages

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“Beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth, like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. God is in her citadels; He has shown Himself to be her fortress.” Psalm 48:2-3

For years I’ve longed to visit the Holy Land. To walk where Jesus walked, where He preached, where He healed the sick, where He willingly chose to die on a cross so I could one day stand before a Holy God sinless, guiltless, and pure.

I’ve longed to see the sites He took in each day. To experience the waves in the Sea of Galilee, the refreshing water in the Jordan River, the beautiful hillside of the Mount of Olives, and the majesty and mystery of the Temple grounds.

Today, my dream of taking this journey to the Promised Land is coming to fruition – as I write, I’m traveling to Israel.

It seems surreal as I honestly never thought I would have this opportunity. But, here I am, embarking on a journey with Jesus (and my sweet husband, and a ministry team of 18) into His homeland.

Many have asked me to write of my experience as I travel – so as technology allows me to I will try my best to put into words what I know will be amazing and life-changing.

I once read that to visit the Holy Land is to step out of the physical world and enter into a spiritual one. I certainly don’t think you have to go to Israel to have a spiritual encounter with God, but I know for me it will allow me to step away from the distractions of life and focus completely on Jesus. To try to understand Him more. To be more aware of His teachings. To stand in awestruck wonder at the sacrifice He made for me. And to appreciate Him like never before.

So, I’m trusting God will exceed my expectations and take me beyond the pages of His Word and into a spiritual awakening like no other. I pray He gives me the words to allow you to experience it with me. In the meantime, I’ll see you in Jerusalem. Shalom…Katie