“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Made In Israel (Well, kind of...)

...Down the Via Dolorosa

One of my favorite things to do when we were in Jerusalem was to walk through the shops in the city. Everything you could think of was for sale. Even yarn! I couldn't believe I actually found some yarn... in the old city of Jerusalem! I wanted to find yarn that was Made In Israel... I mean, we saw tons of sheep... but to no avail. One of the shops had yarn that was "Made In Turkey"... well, beggars can't be choosers, can they? So, I paid full price and thought it was close enough! It shall become an adorable sweater for a little nephew on the way.

All the beautiful scarves... (Made in China)

Well, talking about Made In Israel (Well, kind of...) I finished the ILG hat I was making for my 100th post giveaway. And I am finally... giving it away! So, the next person who is going to be able able to say, "Gee, I LOOK GOOD!" is my wonderful mother-in-law, Ruth. Congratulations! Now, we'll need a photo of the three generations with ILG hats!!! Okay, it can wait until next winter.

... and spices (the FDA would not approve!)

I used RANDOM.ORG to pick the ILG hat winner. Anthony had been on a blog that had used it to pick their winner and told me about it. It's almost impossible to program a computer to pick a pure random number... but they seem to have found a way using atmospheric noise... but I digress...

I have another giveaway coming up... so stay tuned...

Friday, April 25, 2008

A.C.T.S.

"Hezekiah turned his face to the wall
and
prayed to the LORD..." 2 Kings 20:2

At school this morning, I found out that one of Christopher's classmates had been having some difficulties. I decided to take some time to pray for this precious child as I was driving home. As I prayed, other requests flooded my mind. A family member who had recently been robbed. A friend who had minor surgery. A friend who's daughter was sick. And on and on...

I started getting a bit overwhelmed. You've been there, too. There isn't enough time in the day to pray for every need, Lord. What do I do? How do I help?

And gently He reminded me of A.C.T.S.

A.C.T.S. is a format of prayer that is often used when people ask, "How should I pray?"

Adoration -- Praising God for WHO He is
Confession -- Asking God to forgive our sins
Thanksgiving -- Thanking God for WHAT He has already done... and will do...
Supplication -- Intercession -- Bringing our requests to God

Have you ever had times where you know something, but you're reminded of it all again... as if it were a brand new thought? Perhaps the Holy Spirit reminding you? That's what I had today.

It was as if God were saying to me, "Sheri,
Put ME back on the throne. Remember, you are talking to the God of the universe, here. (Adoration)

Humble yourself before ME. Remember WHO I AM and who you are. (Confession)

Remember all the times you have sought ME and I have answered you. I AM faithful. (Thanksgiving)

Now, in light of WHO I AM, who you are, and WHAT I HAVE DONE...

Present your requests to ME. (Supplication)"
Wow! When I actually got to the "supplication" part, I felt a real peace (because I had been wondering how I was going to "fix" all these things...) I could release these requests to God in full certainty and trust.

I always thought A.C.T.S. had been a very dictatorial style. Now, I see it as a way to get in the right frame of mind...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

P.S. Hey, Jen, this is the verse that has come to my mind as I am praying for you this week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Our Franchise Player Celebrates
His 9th Birthday With Us

Our Franchise Player

Definition from Wikipedia: Every year each National Football League team is allowed to designate a player who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent as a franchise player. This designation is applied to a player through the use of the franchise tag.

Each team has access each year to only one franchise tag. As a result, each team may only designate one player each year as that team's franchise player.

Usually designated for players

of great skill or

of high importance to the team.


After Christopher was born, people would ask us how it was going... I would jokingly say that we were going to "keep" him... he was our "franchise player"... Of course, most women would look at me with a glazed look in their eyes... and who wouldn't be confused... I'm using baseball photos for a football analogy...


But it truly said something that I felt. That Christopher was of extreme value. I would choose him above all others. I would base my entire team and franchise around this one player.


And so, each year, around April 23rd, we re-sign his contract for another year... we throw a party and celebrate... that we were fortunate enough to draft such a talented young man.

Yes, we're keeping him, alright. If there was a term for it... I guess we'd call it a "franchise player for life."

Happy 9th Birthday, Christopher!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"I Look So Beautiful" Capelet

Anne wearing her ILSB Capelet

Here's the transcript of a voice mail I received from Anne, my sister's darling daughter, after she received a handmade capelet for her birthday.

I love my present.
I love my
present!
It's perfect.
I look
so beautiful in it.
Thank you.
Love, Anne
Bye!


So, now we have the ILG hat aka "I Look Good" hat... and the ILSB capelet aka "I Look So Beautiful" capelet. It's fun to know that my knitting is contributing to the beauty of this world.

I'm still working on the ILG hat I mentioned in my 100th post, so if you haven't left a comment yet on that post... you still have time. I'll do the drawing once I finish the ILG hat. Who knows... it could be tonight! I wanted to complete it before I left Israel so that I could say it was "Made In Israel" but that will only be partly true, now. Still, you will look GOOD!

Dead Heat

at Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualatin

Joel Rosenberg is the author of several New York Times best-selling books, THE LAST JIHAD (2002), THE LAST DAYS (2003), THE EZEKIEL OPTION (2005), THE COPPER SCROLL (2006), and EPICENTER (2006) with more than 1.5 million copies in print. He has been interviewed on more than 300 radio and TV shows, including ABC's "Nightline," CNN, CNN Headline News, C-SPAN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and The History Channel.

Our trip to Israel was led by author, Joel Rosenberg, who recently released a new book entitled, Dead Heat. Dead Heat is currently #4 on the New York Times best sellers. As part of his book tour, he will be at Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualatin on April 26th and 27th.

Later this year, Joel will be publishing a study guide for his book Epicenter. Anthony and I look forward to possibly leading a class at our church when it is released. I'd encourage you to read one of Joel's books or attend the Saturday night special service at Rolling Hills. I know you will be blown away at how Bible prophecy is being fulfilled in our lifetime. At first that sounds a little out there... Bible prophecy... but I think as a Christian, it behooves us to become familiar with all parts of the Bible. We must each be responsible for reading the Scriptures to test those things which we are taught in the name of the Lord. see Romans 2:12 and 2 Timothy 3:14-4:4

For more information about Joel Rosenberg, visit Joel's website and blog.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Can You Come Down From the Mountain?

The View from Mt. Carmel Overlooking the Jezreel Valley
where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18)

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again."

Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!" I Kings 18:36-39

I am trying to get back into a routine as quickly as possible... but is it possible? Could 12 days in Israel change how I view the world around me? I have become conditioned to look for churches that indicate where Jesus spent His days on Earth. Or ruins that indicate that King Herod was ferociously rich. Or even machine guns which indicate that there truly is a war going on... perhaps seen and unseen.

But I see none of those things here. As I drive along the Sunset Highway... there is a sadness in my heart. Do I yearn for Israel? Did I feel comforted... or perhaps closer to God because I was visiting His hometown? Did I climb a mountaintop and not realize I was doing so?

As I grab my copy of "My Utmost for His Highest" this morning... am I somewhat surprised at the title of today's entry? "Can You Come Down From the Mountain?"

We all have moments when we feel better than ever before, and we say, "I feel fit for anything; if only I could always be like this!" We are not meant to be. Those moments are moments of insight which we have to live up to even when we do not feel like it. Many of us are no good for the everyday world when we are not on the mountaintop. Yet we must bring our everyday life up to the standard revealed to us on the mountaintop when we were there.

Never allow a feeling that was awakened in you on the mountaintop to evaporate. Don’t place yourself on the shelf by thinking, "How great to be in such a wonderful state of mind!" ...We must learn to live in the ordinary "gray" day according to what we saw on the mountain.

I am so grateful that God allows us to go up to the mountain... but even more so that when we come down from the mountain He uses our experience to draw us closer to Him. Whether on the mountain... or an ordinary gray day... I am challenged to learn more... to love more... and to pray more.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What Were You Thinking?

Okay, you all are cracking me up! Haven't you heard about the therapeutic properties of Dead Sea Mud? We actually went to AHAVA (located at the Dead Sea) which is one of many companies that sells Dead Sea Mud (and Bath Salt, too!)... and we bought some and brought it home... This mud in the photo is actually fresh from the earth... But, it makes me wonder... what were you thinking when you saw that photo for the first time?

So, we're home... tired, but with memories that will last a lifetime. I have stories to tell and thoughts to share, but for now... sleep beckons!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Please, Pass the Salt...

We got to play in the mud today!

Kicking back in the Dead Sea!

This was an unbelievably fun day. I wish we could bottle this water up and build a pool in Portland for all our friends... so you could experience "bobbing" like we did. (Yes, we would make it an indoor pool.... Are you kidding me? It is Portland!)

Coming to an End...

Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum

The Garden Tomb

Golgotha

Jerusalem at Night

At the Jaffa Gate

Well, our time in Israel is coming to an end. These are photos from the rest of the day on Friday. I hope to catch up in blogging sometime soon.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Garden of Gethsemane

John 18:1-2 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.


Matthew 26:36-39 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me. Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."


This morning we visited the "Church of All Nations." It is where the Catholic church enshrines a section of stone in the Garden of Gethsemane that is believed to be where Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest (Matthew 26:36).

We had left for the site early... and the guide read John 18:1-2 as we approached the area. I had a feeling of anticipation. We walked up to the entrance and I decided to buy a piece of an olive branch for remembering. We passed through a grove of old -- supposedly 2,000 years old -- olive trees. Since it was early, there were not as many visitors when we entered. There was a service underway.

I was really able to spend some time in prayer... somewhat grieving the pain that Jesus went through here... but thanking God for my salvation. Trying to grasp it all... Jesus being a man, yet God. Being here... maybe not in this exact spot... but, again, it is the reality of it all. There is the garden. There is the Kidron Valley. There is a 2,000 year olive grove. It is all wondrous and awe-inspiring.

Rosemary and Sheri

Part of the benefit of taking this tour with the Joshua Fund... are the people. Rosemary is a charming woman who is a favorite of all on the bus. Unfortunately, when we were at Megiddo down in the water tunnel, she fell hard and hurt herself. Fortunately, there are people with medical backgrounds on our bus to care for her.

Yesterday Rosemary told us that her sister-in-law had passed away. It is hard being so far away from family at a time like this... but we gathered around her and prayed. And it meant so much to her to have such love given to her. Hmmm.. part of the memory of visiting Israel will be the memories shared with our "family" from Bus 4!


Shemen Sasson - YOFFI!


On Wednesday evening we visited Shemen Sasson. A messianic Jewish congregation here in Jerusalem. We (the 200 or so on the Joshua Fund tour with us) worshiped in Hebrew! Who knew! Actually, I am a much better singer in Hebrew than in English… hee hee. They are a young and growing church. "In recent years, Shemen Sasson has experienced increasingly rapid growth and has been blessed to see many Israelis receive Yeshua (Jesus) as their messiah." After worship, two of the newer members gave their testimonies. All I can say is YOFFI (GREAT)!

As you can tell, Wednesday was a much better day then Tuesday. Our day didn’t begin until 12:15pm so I took that time to read and relax and do my laundry (in the tub)! I also realized that I had stopped hydrating, so I made a conscious effort to get more fluids into my system.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Joshua Fund

...whatever you did for one of the least of these...

On Wednesday, April 9th, we were able to find out more about The Joshua Fund that Joel Rosenberg and his wife have established. And then we were able to participate by packing up boxes of kitchen supplies and handing them out to Ethiopian Jews who have recently relocated to Jerusalem.


Through Bridges for Peace we were able to get a crash course on how their ministry blesses the Jewish people in the name of Jesus Christ.

Today we were packing boxes of pots and pans.

We are on Bus 4 (of 4)... and we have become family.

We were given the opportunity to give the gifts to an individual.

Of course, by looking into the eyes
of the chosen people of God,
you cannot remain the same.

We had prepared 50 gifts to hand out but 75 families were waiting. How do you choose?

How could we let any of these families leave... dejected? So, Bus 4 decided to pull our funds and purchase 25 additional boxes that would be handed out at a later time... making sure that the families knew that they would be recipients of God's blessing, too. Since the boxes were $60 a piece, we needed to raise $1,500 between the 50 of us... and so, we did. In the end, we raised $1,592. Thanks be to God!

Part of our Bus 4 Family, Jimmy & Kathi
I encourage you to stop by Jimmy & Kathi's Adventures for all the details of our trip. They are an amazing young couple that have such a sweet heart after the Lord. God has great plans in store for them!

The Wall

The Wall

Due to the Muslim acquisition of the Temple Mount, Jewish people are refrained from being able to visit and/or worship where the Temple had existed (prior to 70 AD). If Israel is God’s country, then Jerusalem is His city, and the Temple Mount would have been His home address. He resided there in the Holy of Holies, which is the most western part of the Temple. (Now the Holy of Holies resides in the temple… us! 1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?)

Men and Women Worship Separately at The Wall

The closest the Jewish people can get to where the Temple stood (and therefore, to the Holy of Holies) would be a “retaining wall” which is the referred to as The Wall. Or sometimes The Western Wall. Muslims have dubbed it The Wailing Wall because of the Jewish people who would come to The Wall to pray and in doing so “wail” because of the destruction of the Temple.

Solomon dedicates the 1st Temple in 1 Kings 8:27-30 "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant's prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, 'My Name shall be there,' so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive."


Tradition has it that when you visit “The Wall” you can place a prayer into any crevice on the wall and leave it there. As if to have your prayer remembered… or as a ritual. Ever since I thought of coming to Jerusalem, I knew this is something I would like to do.


But as we approached The Wall, I realized that I hadn’t written a prayer down. Immediately, I remembered the little prayer box on the bracelet I was wearing. Christopher and Anthony had given it to me for my birthday 2 years ago during The Dark Night of My Soul.


I tried to explain to Christopher what the prayer box was for. I said that we could write a Bible verse on a sheet of paper and place it in the box… or our names… Well, he ran off immediately. He grabbed a sheet of paper and started writing. If you know Christopher, he’s not into writing. But he was determined… he had written down Daddy, Mommy, and Christopher… and was so excited to see me fold it up real tight and put it into the box.

Luke 2:36-38 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.


So, I have carried our names on the trinket of this bracelet for two years… significantly through The Dark Night of My Soul… so for this to be the sheet of paper that I left at The Wall was very sentimental and memorable to me. I think of the many prayers that the Lord answered over the past two years... and how this moment commemorates my gratefulness.


Soon, I will be home… and Christopher can write our names down, again… and who knows where and when the next slip will be destined?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Here I am to Worship...
Here I am to Bow Down...

Sea of Galilee, Tabgha

I don’t think that I have mentioned that part of our justification for coming on this "trip of a lifetime" was because Anthony and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary later this year. I mean when you spend this much money… you really have to justify it, right? Well, another justification… was my 40th birthday. I think some of you missed that… I know I wasn’t clear about it…. But when I said “Celebrating Forty Years in the Desert”… I meant mine!

On the Mount of Olives

Yesterday we arrived in Jerusalem. Our first stop was the Mount of Olives. The guide educated us on where we were... and what lay before us. The Temple Mount. The steps of the 2nd Temple that Herod had built. Old Jerusalem. The City of David.

Another highlight was singing together on the Mount of Olives overlooking the incredible historic sacred view... "Blessed Be Your Name" and "Here I am to Worship." Here I am to worship... Here I am to bow down... and so I did! Right towards the Temple. Towards the Holy of Holies... How cool is that!

Author Joel Rosenberg commented on Israel being the "epicenter" of the world. Jerusalem is the "epicenter" of Israel. The Temple Mount is the "epicenter" of Jerusalem. He encouraged us to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6). There is such a struggle for this piece of land. Warfare. Physical as well as spiritual.

Hezekiah's Wall

After lunch we traveled through the Zion Gate and had a tour of Jerusalem. We were able to see the actual roads built by Romans and a wall that had been built during Hezekiah's reign about 8 BC. We walked part of the Via Dolorosa (the last steps of Jesus) and visited the Holy Sepulcher (where some say Jesus was crucified, buried and rose from the dead).

Via Dolorosa

What I had thought would be a spiritual highlight of the tour... was actually, spiritually draining. The photos I have seen over the years of the Via Dolorosa and the Holy Sepulcher looked so spiritual... so pristine... so sacred.

Holy Sepulcher

Reality was most of the Via Dolorosa is in the Muslim quarter. It was dark and dirty and filled with shops. There were so many people and none of them looking very concerned that they were where Jesus had been. And the Holy Sepulcher... really, what would Jesus think of six different "communities" fighting over his last moments? Didn't Jesus teach of love and peace and patience? To say the least, I was dismayed and wanted to run away from there.

The Wall. The Western Wall. The Wailing Wall.

I am thoroughly mentally and physically exhausted. I really was naive and expected to come to Israel and be renewed spiritually... however, I have found the opposite. Everything is so rushed on the tours... I've had to blog every day so that I can remember what I did or thought... and there is so much division between the Jews, Muslims, and Catholics... There is no peace here.

I really don't want to burst anyone's bubble in my posts about the Holy Land... but in a way, I wish I had really understood... what I already knew to be true... God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit do not reside in these artifacts or places. They are with us always. Everywhere we go. If we ask, Jesus will come into our hearts and live there. Oh, I am so grateful to know the truth... Thank you, my Risen Savior, Jesus!

Monday, April 7, 2008

It's All Real, Isn't It? Every Word of it...

Hi, Christopher! Mommy & Daddy Love You!


Today, we took a tour of the Ancient City of Dan. We were able to take a beautiful nature hike which ended up at a "high place." I knew we were going to the city of Dan, but had no idea we would end up worshiping the Almighty God at a "high place." The "high places" have been used throughout thousands of years to worship anything but God. And here we were... singing "All creatures of Our God and King" and "How Great is Our God" and "Breathe"...

1 Kings 12: 28-31 After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there. Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites.


This is the actual site referenced in the Bible. I'll have to say I was not prepared for this... of course, there was no church at this site. Who would want to remember something like this? But in its simplicity... no fan fare... (okay, there was a gift shop)... I met the Lord. It's all real, isn't it? Every word of it... I expected to see where Jesus walked and talked... but to see authentication of the Old Testament, too... Well, this is icing on the cake.

Caesarea Philippi

We also toured Caesarea Philippi which had been a pagan center of worship over the years. During the time of Jesus' ministry Herod Philippi ruled in this part of the land. Herod Philippi is the brother of Herod Antipas who ruled over Galilee... and the son of Herod the Great. One of our guides intimated to the fact that Herod Philippi was a bit more lenient than his brother Antipas... I hadn't remembered there had been so many "Herod"s... Something that I am determined to understand in more detail!

Touching History (excuse the hat hair!)

When you visit Caesarea Philippi... and you see the sheer rock cliff... and water "pouring" out of a rock towards the Jordan River, it puts into perspective Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus making a visual reference to the rock... considering that others essentially worshiped the rock... knowing Jesus is greater than this rock and all other gods!

Matthew 16:13-20 "When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is? They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am? Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

Our final stop today was the Golan Heights. We could see Syria and Lebanon was just over the hill. As we sat and listened to author, Joel Rosenberg, discuss the prophecy listed in Ezekiel 38... there was an Israeli television crew taping his interpretation of the scriptures and their fulfillment... and bunkers and tanks within view... We were brought to the realization of how volatile this area is... and yet how beautiful... realizing why so many want to claim this land... realizing that God has given this land to his chosen people... and wondering what does that mean to me. Not just in thought but in deed?

Ezekiel 38:23 "And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD."