Monday, January 4, 2010

Why Israel?

Flag of Israel

It seems only appropriate to start our blog with a broad explanation of how and why we find ourselves on this adventure.

Before I answer that, let me just generally state how unbelievably blessed we feel to have this privilege.  This semester one of my classes – Old Testament History I – covered Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges.  That’s a lot of reading, and while I know I’m not supposed to admit this, some of it is really difficult to stay awake through.  Yet, one thing that really struck me in my study was how incredibly sad it was that Moses, the most venerated of all Old Testament saints, who had to put up with the entire population of Israel for 40+ years was denied entry into the promised land himself for what appears to have been a very minor act of disobedience. Somehow of all the “chosen people”, Moses wasn’t chosen to enjoy even one step over the Jordan. 

Moses CartoonSo, I keep asking myself how do I get such a wonderful privilege, if Moses didn’t? Honestly, I don’t know. But I am terribly humbled by it all, because it is patently obvious that I am anything but more righteous or deserving than Moses. By all measures, my sins are both larger and more numerous than his.  I can only wonder what the Lord would have us to accomplish for Him through this journey. 

So how did we find ourselves here?
For 5 years now I have been off-and-on working at a Masters Degree in Theology through Dallas Theological Seminary.  About 18 months ago, we made the difficult decision that we would need to pick up and move to Dallas to finish my degree. We gave the church a year’s notice, and started making plans. I wanted to stop preaching in the Spring of 2009, and then move to Dallas Spring of 2010. Well, sometime last spring I had taken Lillian to a birthday party – something I haven’t been able to do for years, because I typically spent my Saturdays in Sermon prep – and at this party was a Muslim man from Lebanon whom I spent the better part of the party engaged in conversation with.  I told him of my dream to someday visit Israel (which is directly below Lebanon) and he really encouraged me to make it a point to do so. 

Later that day I was driving down the street and it hit me like a brick – there were three great reasons to go to Israel now.  First, I was about to sell my house to move to Dallas, and wouldn’t have a mortgage payment. Second, I work out of my house and can do so in Israel just as well as from Buda. And finally, I can take classes in Israel and transfer the credits to my degree. 

Detour SignLater I mentioned to Colleen the idea of taking a little detour from Buda to Dallas by way of Jerusalem.  Her immediate reaction: “You better not be kidding me, because if you are you need to let me know right now -- you’re going to greatly disappoint me if you are.” 

So that was the wife’s blessing. I later applied to the school in Jerusalem and got their blessing. I then got the clear signal from my boss.  We have lift-off Houston.

But why, you might ask, would I want to visit Israel in the first place?  Generally speaking, it’s about the people and the place of the people.  There’s just something unbelievably captivating about middle easterners, both Jewish and Arab. The Jewish people in particular, have a history of survival that is absolutely unparalleled.  What people group has survived for so long, having endured so many hardships and obstacles,  without a place to call home for nearly 2,000 years, yet maintaining a singular identity.  The land itself rich in history that stretches sometimes as many as 6,000 years back.  If a picture is worth a thousand words what’s the real thing worth?

More specially, it’s about the people and places of the Bible.  The Word gives remarkable specific geographical details in its narrative and teachings, and while those details are certainly sufficient there’s something especially vivid about the teaching of people that have seen and visited it for themselves. Imagine having never seen the beauty of a rose, smelled it’s aroma or touched its delicate petals.  A friend could tell  you all about it,  you could study every book ever written about the flower, but having beheld it for yourself you would experience the rose. So it is with a study of the Bible, the first hand experience is what we seek.

But isn’t it dangerous? Sure there’s some danger. But in 2008 over 3 million tourists visited Israel, and every single one of them went home safe and sound.  None-the-less, we ask you to pray for us on our journey.

Thus we begin our journey.  I hope you’ll tag along as we try to relate our experiences to you first hand.

Shalom. Lehit (see you later)!.