I never imagined that I would be boarding a plane with my dad and my brother for a very long flight into Tel Aviv, Israel. But on December 29th, 2010, that’s exactly what I did.
Those who went on the trip came from all over the southeast. Dad and I started our journey from Orlando. Erik (my brother) began from near Tupelo, MS. One woman came from Palm Coast, FL. One couple came from western Missouri. Several women came from near Montgomery, AL. All of the rest came from New Orleans, LA, where we all converged to begin our journey. Our connection is the New Orleans Seminary. And our connector is Clay Corvin, assisted by JP Cox, who so generously and graciously put all these type of trips together for students and alumni and Seminary families to experience the lands of the Bible. Many, many thanks to Clay for giving me the opportunity to take such a significant journey with my dad and my brother.
Some of you probably realize that Jen and I have a newborn at home. This opportunity to go to Israel as a threesome came right before the time we knew little Noah was coming. Jen and I both felt the opportunity too special and unique to pass up. I am so thankful, as much as I missed her and the kids.
To say this was a spiritual highlight of my life would be an understatement. It actually came at a time when, quite honestly, I am feeling fatigued and am in real need of being reinvigorated as a follower, a husband, a dad, a son, a brother, a friend, and an equipper. As I write this first post in what will be a multi-post series reflecting on our trip, I am actually somewhere over North Carolina on a flight from JFK New York to Orlando International Airport. So, the jury is still out on whether the fullness of reinvigoration has or will take place. But it sure seems like it has.
I come home with more than a few trinkets from a commercialized Holy Land.
I come home ready to listen and obey to what I sense God is whispering.
I come home eager to make my wife feel more loved than ever before.
I come home excited to learn and live the ways of Jesus with my kids more deeply than ever, praying they recognize the call to be making disciples in their own relationships and strategizing about what it will take to sow for that outcome.
I come home with a very enriched relationship with my dad and brother, along with a few family friends who were on the trip, some with whom I had become disconnected and others with home our connection is deeper (one with which I am working on a book project which rocks the house).
I come home with a book recommendation list that catapults me into a 2011 during which I was already hoping to read 52 books.
I come home with 11 goals for 2011. I ask you to please pray for me to not just accomplish 11 tasks. Rather, I sense these are a matter of obedience. Please pray I will set my face resolutely toward obeying the given mission, much like my Savior did from the very location that I drove through just a few short days ago.
I come home wanting to obey the simplest and yet most impactful of Jesus’ commands. To love God and love my neighbor. To love others as Jesus has loved me. To grow to be one with the Father as He was one with the Father and thus transform my relationships to demonstrate the oneness that I have with Him. And to make disciples – learning and living the ways of Jesus. Specifically to disciple at least two people who are lost to become disciplers of Jesus themselves.
I come home having seen more than a few significant sights, religious relics, moving monuments, archeologized antiquity, and a very tense Temple Mount. I come home having seen firsthand at least the approximate location of the very places where God introduced Himself to His most precious creation and furthermore died to restore them before they even apologized for betraying Him. And that changes things. That changes me.
Over the course of the next 8 to 10 days, I hope to share those reflections and transformations with you. From continued skepticism to new insights to daily decals, these coming reflections will simply be my thoughts from our daily adventure in the land where Jesus was born, grew up, worked, worked miracles, died, and rose again.
I pray they will be meaningful to you as I share them. I pray God will burn what I learned and am learning in my heart and life as I share them with you.