Friday, January 27, 2012

Walking Where Jesus Walked

In the past, “next year in Jerusalem” was an expression of the inner longing of Jews to return to Jerusalem after they were scattered because of conquest. Today, however, with the modern nation of Israel, Jews can have a Passover in Jerusalem, the very longing of those in the past. In February, I will actually see the realized longing of the Jews with the modern state of Israel, the hope for a future “Jerusalem” with a rebuilt Temple, and the culture of Jews, Christians, and Muslims converging.

In 10 days, I travel to Israel… it is “this year in Jerusalem” for me. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. Here’s the itinerary after leaving from New York City on February 6:

  • Tuesday, February 7. Arrive in Tel Aviv and on route to the hotel, stop at the ancient port city of Joppa to view the home of Simon the Tanner.Orientation that evening.Overnight: Tel Aviv, Israel.
  • Wednesday, February 8.Drive north along coastal road to Caesarea where Peter was imprisoned for two years.Drive to Mount Carmel monastery. Lunch at Megiddo before visiting the ancient chariot city of King Solomon.Drive to Mount Tabor where will go to the Church of the Transfiguration. Overnight: Tiberias, Israel.
  • Thursday, February 9. Sail across the Sea of Galilee in a wooden replica boat of Jesus’ day. Visit the Mount of Beatitudes, travel to Tabgha where Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fish, and then travel to Gergesa where Jesus healed the demon-possessed men and the demons went into the herd of pigs who plunged into the Sea of Galilee. The last stop will be Yardinet, the site of the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River. Overnight: Tiberias, Israel.
  • Friday, February 10. Drive to Cana of Galilee where Jesus performed his first miracle.Continue to Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus, and then Beith She’an to see archeological excavations. On to Jerusalem for our first view of the “Golden City.”Overnight: Jerusalem.
  • Saturday, February 11. Drive to Mount of Olives, visit the Palm Sunday route, the place where “Jesus wept,” the Garden of Gethsemane, and the pool of Siloam. Continue to Bethlehem for lunch and the Shepherd’s field. Overnight: Jerusalem.
  • Sunday, February 12. Day at leisure to visit any number of churches and sites. Overnight: Jerusalem.
  • Monday, February 13. Visit the Western Wall (“wailing wall”), St. Stephen’s Gate where Stephen was martyred, the Pool of Bethesda, and follow Jesus’ steps on the “way of sorrow” on his way to crucifixion. We will also visit the upper room where Jesus had the Last Supper and the place where Peter denied Jesus three times. Overnight: Jerusalem.
  • Tuesday, February 14 (Valentine’s Day). Drive to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, and then to Massada. Continue to the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.Overnight: Jerusalem.
  • Wednesday, February 15.Drive to the Israel Museum to see the Shrine of the Book and scale model of the Old City during the Second Temple period. Proceed to the Yad Vashem memorial to the six million Jewish martyrs of World War Two. The last stop is the Garden Tomb for a visit followed by communion.
  • Thursday - Saturday, February 16-18. Arrive to JFK airport in New York City. My friend Pastor Won Tae Cho will pick me up from the airport and I will spend Thursday and Friday with him. I fly back home on Saturday evening.
  • Sunday, February 19. Back at St. Andrews after the trip of a lifetime.

After all of these years I have loved and served Jesus, I now get to walk on the streets where he walked and stand in the places where stories that have captivate my imagination for years took place. It is just amazing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Give Tim Tebow Credit

Did you see the 80-yard pass by Tim Tebow against the Steelers to win the game 11 seconds into overtime? This Gator graduate who saw the boy play college football for four years in a row was stoked. After all the Tebow bashing, he just went out on the field and played the game... and won in a dramatic way.

Tebomania has struck the world of sports. The haters are all at work - "he has the wrong throwing motion," "he shouldn't be playing pro ball," "too much Jesus" - and they are harsh in their "speaking the truth." On the other hand, many fathers are looking at Tebow and saying, "finally, here is someone I really hope my son emulates in sports." No one seems to be arguing whether Tebow is sincere. He is the real deal. Of course, sports fans can't argue with the fact that he has led his team to the semi-finals of the AFC. Not too shabby for a guy many said would never get drafted, much less play.

He raises many questions. Is Tebow really able to pull out the wins because of his faith? Is God helping him win? Does God even care about who wins and who loses? I don't think God is heavily vested in the outcome of sporting events, but God does care about something in the world of sports. God cares about a person's character and heart. Christians are asked to "live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27), meaning to live honorable, sacrificial, loving, and generous lives. Christians are asked to love God and love people more than anything else in life. Christian ahletes, fans, commentators, staff, and yes, Tim Tebow, are all called to such standards. Does God care about that? Absolutely.

Give Tim Tebow credit. He is trying to actually live into that standard. He is trying to live into the prime reality of his life. More than a Heisman trophy winner with two college football national championships on his resume, and more than the starting quarterback for a professional football team, he is a follower of Jesus Christ. He is loved by God and he is trying to live accordingly.

I'd love to see him continue to win football games. I am unapologetically biased toward this particular former Gator because of the exciting years he gave us at the college level. More importantly, however, win or lose, I look forward to seeing him stay true to his calling to live worthy of Christ in public and private. In the end, that matters most for him, me, and you.