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The second day of being in Israel, we explored more of what it meant to be in the desert.

Let me attempt to set the environment:

We leave our hotel by the Dead Sea.

It is around 8am.

It is around 90 degrees.

The morning shower was hot.  There wasn’t cold water.

The rooms are hot, the only have power when your key card is inserted into the wall.

Drinking water is from the bus, which is hot.

The Dead Sea is surrounded by mountains, thousands of feet tall.

It is an amazing scene.

This is what you’d imagine it to be when you hear desert.

We begin our day reciting what we will call the Jesus Shema:

Hear O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength.

And love your neighbor as yourself.

After a quick morning lesson, it is onto the bus to travel to a drop off point.

Dropped of in the Desert

Dropped of in the Desert

The bus just left us here.  We drove for a little bit, the bus pulled off to the side of the road and we hear

“Come, let’s go”

and our leader, Marty, steps off the bus and starts walking away.

We all quickly scramble to follow, as the days go by, we will get better at this and become good at it, but not this day.

We start down a path that is pretty rocky.  Well, everything is rocky.  This path, is more like a dried water bed (that is actually the definition of a wadi).  We walk maybe a half mile and we come over a ridge.  Marty has stopped and is allowing us to catch up.  It is tough to follow this guy!

We all circle around him and he says how was it?

Fine.  A little tough.

He says “I know.  Go back.  Do it again.  But this time, stay off the path.”

What…?

Go back.  Go back to where the bus dropped us off and don’t walk the path.  Walk along side it in the rocks.

Confused, we go back.

It is tough to find out where the path is and isn’t.  It was pretty rocky every where.

One of us falls on the way back. Sarah’s knee is cut pretty bad.  It is not yet 9am of day 2.

Most of us make it back to Marty, a few are helping Sarah.  We wait.  and wait…. and wait…

She finally comes back with a bandaid on her knee with a knee brace holding it on.

In a moment of rabbinic genius, we ask Marty what we will do if she is badly hurt.

“It is very difficult to follow the rabbi” says Marty.

Sarah continues the hike with us.


When we are together, we sit and Marty asked what we see around us.

Stones.  Lots of stones.

Not just stones, but small ones, big ones, in between ones.

If we look at these stones, he says, some of them are small and might get stuck in a sandal.  An annoyance, but easy to kick out.  Other stones, a little bigger, you might stumble on, but you can kick them out of the way for the next guy.  A bigger stone might need a hand or 2 to move.  Then you come across the BIG stones that aren’t moving, so you have to navigate around them.

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Here is a big part of walking the path.  When you do it, you naturally knock out the small stuff.  As you walk, the small stuff gets kicked to the side.  The medium stuff gets moved out of the way.  And the path around the big objects is obvious!  When we walk the path, the path becomes more defined and easier to follow.  On a path, you can see where it is safe to set your foot.  When you are following others who are walking the right path, you don’t have to worry about where you set your foot, you can see it is the good way.

The rabbis look at following God as walking His path.  There are small things that are annoyances. There are some bigger things that might have to be conscientiously changed.  Some of those might take more effort than others.

Some things just have to be avoided all together.

In our faith, as we follow the way of Jesus, the path becomes clearer.  As we remove the small things and work to over come larger problems, the way our faith works becomes clearer to the people behind us.  They can walk the path easier because we have gone before!

The more you walk the path, the clearer it is for people who come after you!

The more we walk the path that God lays out in scripture, the easier it becomes..

The more we walk it, the more we kick to the side vices and issues that once tripped us.

The more we walk it, the easier it is to avoid the things that once made us fall.

Most importantly, the more we walk it, the easier it is for others to follow Jesus using our example.

Walking the Path

Walking the Path

That makes me stop to think:

Is the way I am living my life fitting the path that Jesus talks about?

How about you?

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Solomon's stairsHow can I describe a trip that I pitched to people as an indescribable experience?

I arrived back from Israel on July 30th after 20 days of travel, miles and miles of hikes, experiencing 100+ hours of teachings, having amazing joy, heat sickness, rocket threats, great friends, bad food (good food too), and a seemingly endless list of other things.

I came back and spent days talking with people about the experience and I so much want to tell YOU about it, but how?  I can’t send the 500+ pictures, the hours of discussion, the passion, the excitement, via blog!  I think in the past couple days though, I have found a way to hopefully share some of the experience.

As more blogs get posted, I will try to share another story, and another story… probably until I go back again in 2016.

I think the key to this conversation comes in a more relate-able subject.  In early August, Melanie and I bought our first house!  It is very exciting and it is true, when you walk into the house that is for you, you will know it.  We walked in and both said “wow.” We moved in on August 16th and all of the stuff we have accumulated over the 5 years at the last house, has practically doubled our belongings.  All of it was boxed, and moved in to a house much bigger than the tiny place of 570sqft we have been living.  We now are going through the process of trying to figure out where to put stuff.  How does this fit in the new house?  Why do we still have this?  or that?  Where is the top of the blender?  Why would it be packed in a different place?

This is oddly a similar discussion to Israel…

For the trip, I studied and prepared and brought all of this knowledge with me that I’ve accumulated over the years.  The time in Israel was amazing.  The hikes were tough!  The heat was crazy!  The sun… didn’t burn thanks to sun screen.  The lessons, from the small details to the big picture, changed what you thought you knew and things went from being fragmented ideas that someone clung together to “of course, that makes sense” “oh, that isn’t confusing, it makes sense”.



Let me give you a story:

ON THE FIRST day, after leaving our hotel in the Negev desert, within two miles our tour guide Yehuda pointed out of the side of the bus and casually mentioned there there were some shepherds taking care of their flock.  Marty (the Impact staff who was leading the trip) got excited and asked if we could stop.  We got out of the bus and watched from a dry desert hill as the bus pulled away.  So began our first lesson.

What do you imagine as a shepherd?  I’ve always imagine the old man like Moses.  Long flowing robes, a crook, hobbling around grassy field.

Marty simply asked us what we observe.


Shepherd throwing stone

(Click the photo to see it larger)

There is a little girl running around.  Maybe 8… maybe 10…

There are sheep and goats in the herd.

There isn’t any grass… only tough looking desert bushes.

The sheep stay by her donkey.

The goats are all over.


Marty tells us that the job of the shepherd is normally the job of the least of the family.  “You go spend your time with the smelly sheep”.  The little girl is running almost constantly.  Why?  She is running out in front of the goats.  The goats are going up one mountain side.  She runs in front and throws rocks towards them so they turn around.  They then go up the other side.  She runs a head of them and throws a few more rocks.  This is what she did the majority of the time we were there.  The sheep listen to the voice of their shepherd and do what they are told.  They stayed with the donkey.  The goats think they know a better way.

Am you a sheep or a goat?

We see the weapon of the shepherd in the hand of her older brother who was standing by the donkey as the younger sister ran around.  It was about a 2 foot stick.  His rod and staff.

Marty finds this small tuft of yellow “grass” and says this is what the sheep eat.  I couldn’t see any of it on the ground.  All I see is desert and rock.

We watch this little girl throw rocks. and more rocks.

“Think of David” say Marty.

whoa.

This unexpected, unplanned, gift from God was an amazing experience and a beginning to a crazy 18 days.



This was only stop one of the day.  Not even a planned lesson.  Each day was filled with 3-5+ lesson that realigned your view from a western perspective of something like green pastures, to seeing this desert that had yellow grass that gave a faint hint of green if the sun hit it right.

I find my self back home (in a new house), trying to figure out how the stuff from the old house fits in the new house, and I am also taking these amazing lessons from Israel and Turkey and looking at the new frame work I have of Christianity and thinking ‘how does the stuff from my old framework fit in the new?”

Like every move, there will be things that you throw out. “Why do I still have this?”

There is stuff that wasn’t packaged correctly.  “Where is the blender lid?”

Items will be arranged differently. “Our new living room is the size of our old house! (almost)”

How can I describe the indescribable to you?

If you’ll bear with me, I will continue to try.

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