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Today we left the Dead Sea and headed north towards Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee.First stop- Qumran. Where they found the Dead Sea scrolls. ----- DSC 0003 ----- DSC 0005 ----- DSC 0012 ----- DSC 0014 ----- DSC 0015 ----- DSC 0016 ----- DSC 0020 ----- DSC 0036 ----- DSC 0042 ----- DSC 0054 ----- DSC 0056 ----- DSC 0093 ----- DSC 0099 ----- DSC 0108 ----- Next stop- Qasr-El Yahud. This is the baptism spot on the Jordan River just north of the Dead Sea. ----- DSC 0111 ----- DSC 0112 ----- DSC 0115 ----- We continued our journey north through the West Bank to Beir She'an- the ancient Roman City of the Decapolis and one of the largest archaeological sites in Israel. ----- DSC 0122 ----- DSC 0123 ----- DSC 0126 ----- DSC 0128 ----- DSC 0130 ----- DSC 0135 ----- DSC 0139 ----- DSC 0149 ----- DSC 0151 ----- DSC 0152 ----- DSC 0155 ----- DSC 0158 ----- DSC 0163 ----- DSC 0166 ----- DSC 0168 ----- DSC 0169 ----- After a shopping stop at the Galilee Experience we walked to our hotel for the next three nights. Tomorrow we'll tour the Galilee area. Stay tuned...

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Today we toured the Old City of Jerusalem.----- Our first stop of the day was the Mt. of Olives viewpoint. ----- DSC 0004 ----- DSC 0010 ----- DSC 0018 ----- DSC 0020 ----- DSC 0028 ----- DSC 0058 ----- DSC 0068 ----- We then walked down the Mt. of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane. ----- DSC 0072 ----- DSC 0073 ----- DSC 0082 ----- DSC 0084 ----- DSC 0090 ----- DSC 0094 ----- DSC 0104 ----- DSC 0114 ----- Our next stop was the Davidson Center Archaeological Park and the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount. ----- DSC 0122 ----- DSC 0130 ----- DSC 0134 ----- DSC 0148 ----- DSC 0151 ----- DSC 0154 ----- DSC 0156 ----- DSC 0160 ----- DSC 0162 ----- DSC 0173 ----- DSC 0180 ----- After falafel lunch in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, we were off to explore the city. We stopped in a couple spots in the Jewish Quarter and then walked through the Muslim Quarter for a brief visit at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher before we followed the Way of the Cross (in reverse) to the Pools of Bethesda. ----- DSC 0184 ----- DSC 0186 ----- DSC 0194 ----- DSC 0195 ----- DSC 0202 ----- DSC 0204 ----- DSC 0211 ----- DSC 0221 ----- DSC 0224 ----- DSC 0232 ----- DSC 0237 ----- DSC 0238 ----- DSC 0242 ----- DSC 0244 ----- DSC 0250 ----- DSC 0266 ----- DSC 0270 ----- DSC 0274 ----- DSC 0286 ----- We exited the city through the Lion Gate and jumped on the bus for a short trip back to the Dung Gate so we could visit the Western Wall and the Western Wall Tunnel. Our last two stops of the day. ----- DSC 0300 ----- DSC 0305 ----- DSC 0308 ----- DSC 0315 ----- DSC 0320 ----- DSC 0326 ----- DSC 0341 ----- DSC 0345 ----- DSC 0351 ----- DSC 0353 ----- DSC 0356 ----- DSC 0362 ----- DSC 0372 ----- DSC 0376 ----- DSC 0382 ----- DSC 0388 ----- DSC 0391 ----- We had another great day. Tomorrow we'll visit sites in the new city including the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem. Stay tuned...

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Never underestimate the value of just sitting with someone. Peaceful abiding in stillness and silence Today is Throwback Thursday.  Click here to continue the discussion we began one year ago. Photo courtesy of Peg Syverson.  

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Are you ever hard on yourself because of a lack of progress? DSC_0397 Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Mark 6:45-51. The Twelve Apostles are told to get in a boat and go to Bethsaida. As they row, they encounter contrary winds that impede their progress.  They are literally stuck in the midst of the sea. The Twelve are rowing but not going. The Bible says they are "toiling in rowing" (Mark 6:48).  The word "toil" means to be "tormented or tortured." As the Twelve were trying to make headway, they were beating themselves up over their lack of progress. We all do that, don't we? We give a project our "all," and it doesn't seem like that is enough. As we reflect on this account, it is important to note what Jesus did and did not tell them to do. Jesus said, "Go," not "Hurry up and get there." Jesus said, "Go," but He didn't tell them how long they had. The time constraint was what the Twelve put on themselves. Today, you and I will have a lot more peace if we clarify our orders. If God said, "Hurry up," then you better.  If God didn't, then maybe it would help you a lot to lighten up a little. Photo courtesy of Putneypics.

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Some of our readers have been asking about the ongoing situation in Syria. It's very tragic--and tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in the crossfire between the Assad government and rebel forces.

Why is all of this happening? We know the Assad government has been a ruthless dictatorship and a major state sponsor of terrorism over the years, but would a rebel-run government be any better?


More importantly, is there light at the end of the tunnel? In this guest editorial (below), our friends at Israel College of the Bible point us to Isaiah's prophecies and the prophet's vision of a future Day when Syria will be Israel's friend! Now that's a refreshing thought in the midst of the current barrage of bad news from the Middle East.




Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of ZION!    Psalms 14:7


Israel College of the Bible
 May 12th, 2013

Wars and rumors of wars are not strange in Israel.  The unrest in the Arab countries all around Israel intensifies.  While Israel has very carefully remained outside these conflicts, the recent Israeli air strike in Syria marks a change.  There is a saying in Hebrew (taken literally from Psalm 69:4) - the water has come up to my throat - meaning: enough is enough!

The attached article reviews the rocky history of the Israeli-Syrian relationship from Biblical times until today.  It is worth your read!

Thanks for your prayers, and blessings from Israel!

In Messiah Yeshua,
Erez Soref & the ICB team
Israel-Syria Relationship

In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria-a blessing in the midst of the land..." (Isa. 19:23)

Syria has never been Israel's friend.

The day Ben Gurion struck the table with his gavel and declared, "The State of Israel has been established", that same day, May 14th 1948, the armies of Syria, Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, Iraq and Egypt swept across the border into tiny Israel. 

The 650,000 strong Jewish community managed to field 108,000 fighters, men, women and children.

The grueling war that ensued, the War of Independence, ended with Israel expelling Syrian and Lebanese armies from the north and Egyptians from the south. Iraqis and Jordanians left the country themselves. 


Since that rocky beginning, a very 'cold war' might express Syria's relationship with Israel until the beginning of the 1960's when tension mounted over Israel's plan to build a national water carrier that would convey Israel's share of the headwaters of the Jordan River to the Negev.

[A tentative agreement over fair distribution of the waters of the Jordan had been brokered in 1955 by an American businessman, Eric Johnston, but the Arab states refused to ratify it.]

To make use of their allotted share of Jordan's water, Israel started to build a water carrier in the Hula Valley, but Syrian shelling from the Golan Heights put an end to the endeavor. 

Israel decided their national water carrier would begin at the Sea of Galilee, which meant pumping the water 212 meters up to sea level. When the work was finally completed in 1964 the Arabs retaliated with a plan to divert the headwaters of the Jordan from Lebanon through Syria to Jordan, leaving Israel high and dry.

Prime Minister Golda Meir declared that "water is blood in the Middle East", and ordered the IDF to blow up the Syrian installations for the diversion of the Jordan River. Tensions between Israel and Syria escalated to a new height, and Syrian artillery fired on Israeli settlements in the Hula Valley and the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee dozens of times each month.


This unbearable provocation sent Israeli fighter planes, April 1967, to bomb targets in Syria. In the ensuing aerial dog fight Israel shot down six Syrian MiGs. 

Because Syria and Egypt had an agreement to help each other in the event of an Israeli attack, the Soviet Union began feeding false information to Syria and Egypt, claiming that Israel was about to attack Syria. 

These were the rumblings of the June 1967 Six Day War and Jews all over the world were beseeching God for mercy.

Egypt began to amass 130,000 troops in the Sinai to attack Israel from the south, but Israel swooped down on Egyptian air bases, destroying 304 of their 419 planes. 

In response Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi planes attacked Israel, mostly missing their targets, and Israel attacked Jordanian and Syrian air bases until it controlled the skies.

The Syrians, seeing the way the battle was going, sent four tanks down the slope of the Banias plateau towards the source of the Dan River. One overturned, one fell into the Banias river canyon, and the third caught fire. The fourth decided to withdraw. 

Israeli forces then broke through the Syrian defenses on the Golan and took the heights, putting an end to the intolerable shelling of civilian settlements and hastening the end of that Six Day War.

The chances of Israel overcoming those five nations a second time were slim when you consider the balance of power. Put together, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq held 1,719,000 sq km. of land and over 120,000,000 souls. Israel 

19,000 sq. km. of land and about 3,000,000 souls. 

But the God of Israel turned back the enemy at the gates and Israel gained a few thousand square kilometers of land in the process. 


For Israel's enemies the humiliation of losing not just the war but territory also kept smoldering fires burning on all Israel's borders, not least on the Syrian border.


Yom Kippur, October 5th, 1973, Israel's most solemn day of prayer and fasting when a minimum of regular soldiers were on duty, 45,000 Syrian soldiers with 500 tanks broke through the Israeli lines on the Golan. At the same time Israel was attacked by 100,000 Egyptian troops in the south.

Israeli reservists were torn from synagogues and raced to the front lines, but Syrian advance forces had reached the center of the Golan and were ready to break into Israel.

All air force protection was first given to the Golan to stop the attack there, and Israel pushed Syria back to the 1967 ceasefire lines before turning to the south. 

Though shocked and shaken, Israel held their ground, won the war, and mourned their dead.


By this time the Arabs realized they would not be able to defeat Israel on a conventional battlefield.

Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

Syria turned to terrorism. Not overtly, but 'hiding behind the scenes'. The Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and radical Islamic forces in Lebanon served Syria's purpose well, and 2 intifadas and 2 Lebanese wars followed with Syria, backed by Iran, supplying weapons and missile technology. 


Through all this Syria, as the trouble maker, was more or less able to hold a 'Who? Me?' stance until her own civil war broke out in 2011.

This bitter war has exposed the Syrian disposition. 

When Assad's military forces began to fire on his own people, we well remember their early cry: "Don't fire on us, fire on Israel!"  

'Rebel' is no doubt an appropriate term for the forces seeking to topple Assad's government, but their rebellion is obviously against more than their own leader, through their Islamic ideology it is a deep-seated rebellion against God and His purposes, and it is certainly a rebellion against the existence of Israel. 

What is even more alarming is that rebels attract rebels, and reports are increasing that Syria's rebels are now being joined by discontents from al-Qaeda and other Jihadi groups.


Helping the 'rebel' side, as NATO did to topple Gaddafi's regime, sounds reasonable when the opposition is a ruthless dictator. But Libya's 'rebels', now in possession of stockpiles of Gaddafi's weapons, have been making them readily available to the terrorist groups of Gaza.

No doubt Syria's 'rebels' would be inclined to do the same with the rumored stockpiles of chemical weapons in nobody-knows-quite-whose-hands. 

The 'rebels' who ousted Mubarak in Egypt are certainly controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, if not constituted by them, so Syria's 'rebels' are probably up for grabs too, by whatever well organized group can harnesses their forces first, with the undercover aim of "pushing Israel into the sea".


No doubt this is why Israel cannot tolerate the free movement of weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon, weapons flown in from Iran, with-love-from-Russia, to be directed into the hands of Hezbollah...or whoever. 

With the free-for-all in Syria at this present time Israel simply wanted those arms removed from the scene, and this month quietly bombed two ammunition depots in Syria, just north of Damascus. This is the second Israeli strike on a Syrian arms target this year. In January Israel bombed a weapons convoy carrying long range missiles to the Lebanese border and warned then that it would not hesitate to act again to prevent the transfer of chemical or any other advanced weaponry from Bashar al-Assad's massive arsenal to terror groups in Lebanon.


While Syria is hardly in a position to fight anyone outside her borders at the moment, with more than 70,000 of their own dead from their own fire in the last two years, since this recent bombing she has taken the time to place missiles towards Israel along her border fences, and the IDF is watching closely, while excusing the few that have come into the Golan in recent days as 'a mistake'. 


An editorial in the London based 'Ai-Quds al-Arabi' newspaper has welcomed Syria's statements that it is planning to open up a new front against Israel in the Golan. 

"We say that opening this front will push hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians and Arabs in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan to take up arms again to face the occupation on any front that is opened for them."

Assad has also resorted to threatening Israel by saying Syria is willing to co-operate even more closely with Hezbollah, 

"We have decided to give them everything." 

In response Hezbollah's leader, Nasrallah, has said his forces would support any Syrian effort to recapture the Golan Heights.

Syria could well decide to take advantage of the Israeli airstrikes to shift the focus from her civil war to a conflict with Israel. A common enemy makes friends, and certainly both sides of the Syrian rift share an aversion to Israel! 


If this were not a drama of real life we could light heartedly say, 'Wait for the next episode', but for those of us living in Israel 'Waiting on the Lord' is far more appropriate, for God has spoken much about Syria in His Word.


After all, Syria's aversion to Israel goes back further than   modern history! The reason the prophet Jonah was so reluctant to take God's message to Nineveh was that Assyria was a very cruel enemy to Israel. How difficult it was for Jonah to offer God's mercy to a nation that had afflicted Israel for centuries. Yet when Jonah finally obeyed, Nineveh repented.


Syria may not be our friend yet, but then, Israel still has much to learn. 

Isaiah the prophet has foretold of the day when Syria will be Israel's friend, together with Egypt.


In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria-a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless saying, "Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance."...Isaiah 19:23,24. 


Amazing...Syria and Egypt our most troublesome nearby enemies, shall be our friends!

Looking back on the brief modern history we have recounted, doesn't it prove that the devil always tries to get in and spoil exactly what God has purposed?


By the way, in Hebrew 'waiting' on the Lord means 'trusting with confidence' that He will deliver, even when there is absolutely no sign of this happening.

For this reason so we are VERY grateful when we know your prayers are joining ours for our people and our neighbors!






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The list of what I can't do is limitless.  Maybe you can admit this, too. Confused Man Reading a Bill or Bank Statement Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Matthew 17:14-18. Thankfully, I don't have to face life's complexities alone. There's help and hope in Yeshua. Photo courtesy of SalFalko.

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***Pages linked to from this post may not be suitable for all readers. Please use discernment.***

Now that's an interesting question!

Here's what Wikipedia says: "Islamophobia denotes prejudice against, or hatred or irrational fear of, Muslims. The term dates back to the early 1900s, but its modern use originates during the late 1980s or early 1990s. It entered the common vocabulary after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States."

We all know Muslim people who are not extremists. We encounter these folks in our business relationships, in our neighborhoods, and in many other places. When our children were in school, they had Muslim schoolmates--and everyone got along just fine. So in this sense, it is indeed "irrational" to paint all Muslims with the same, broad extremist brush.

After all, the shoe could be on the other foot, couldn't it? We surely wouldn't want to be identified with "Christian" extremists like the anti-Semitic nut job from Kansas who pickets the funerals of fallen US soldiers holding signs that say, "Thank God for dead soldiers." It would be a big mistake to paint all of us with one, wide swath of the "Christian" brush because 99.9% of the evangelical world has very little in common with extremists who preach a gospel of hate.

So no, we're not Islamophobic. We don't have an irrational fear or hatred of Muslim people in general.

Maybe a better word would be Sharia-phobic. I won't deny that I have a deep-seated and almost instinctive animosity and distrust for any system of law that is cited by mullahs who want women to be treated like cattle (the property of their fathers/husbands), that is used as justification for censorship of the media, that is interpreted by some as sanctioning public executions of dissenters and as prohibiting women from receiving an education, and allowing the death penalty for misdeeds like "blasphemy" and converting from Islam to another religion.

For an insightful view of how the mullahs interpret sharia law in an actual "Islamic Republic" (Iran), click here.

If we want to see what the US will look like in a few years, all we have to do is look at the UK. The Brits have bent over backwards to accommodate Islamists in the British Isles. In fact, it has become politically correct in the UK to wink at the excesses of Islamist extremism. Tolerance--it's the prim and proper way to deal with a sticky issue. Here's a look (from YouTube) at how all of that tolerance and magnanimity is paying dividends for our British friends: click here.

I guess I'm Sharia-phobic--and maybe Jihad-ophobic. But there's nothing irrational about it. It's perfectly reasonable to be afraid of someone who says that he/she wants to destroy both you and your way of life and will stop at nothing to do so.

Fear is not always a bad thing. A few years ago, for example, several of us were walking near a rocky creek bed and found ourselves confronted by a large rattlesnake. Did I suffer from Snake-ophobia at that moment? Yes, I suppose you could say that. But that's an instance where fear was an appropriate response. We were in imminent danger. My friend Mike Scalf (a local realtor who also serves on our ministry finance committee) clobbered the snake with a large rock and sent it slithering away into the underbrush!

The cry of our contemporary culture is, "No Fear!" We're not supposed to be afraid of anything! It's like those moronic Johnny Knoxville movies--an entire franchise (based on a TV reality show) built on filming stupid people doing stupid (and often dangerous) stunts. These crazy people want the world to know that they're not afraid of anything. The folks who frequent these movies aren't exactly from the deep end of the gene pool, but fortunately for Johnny & Co., they can afford the price of a ticket!

But for the rest of us, being afraid of some things is reasonable and rational--and it can keep us safe from harm.

I believe radical Islam is one of those things.

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Today we visited one of the main areas of Yeshua's ministry-Galilee.First stop-the Yigal Allon Museum, or as it is more commonly know, the Jesus Boat. DSC 0001 ----- DSC 0012 ----- DSC 0014 ----- DSC 0022 ----- DSC 0038 ----- DSC 0016 ----- DSC 0046 ----- DSC 0050 ----- After the museum, we continued around the lake to the Mt. of Beatitudes. ----- DSC 0051 ----- DSC 0054 ----- DSC 0066 ----- The church at Peter's Primacy site was next. ----- DSC 0088 ----- DSC 0103 ----- DSC 0104 ----- DSC 0108 ----- Just a bit up the road is Capharnaum and the famous synagogue. ----- DSC 0120 ----- DSC 0126 ----- DSC 0130 ----- DSC 0137 ----- After lunch at the famous Fish Restaurant at Ein Gev, we took a boat ride on the Glilee. ----- DSC 0172 ----- DSC 0173 ----- DSC 0181 ----- DSC 0186 ----- DSC 0194 ----- DSC 0207 ----- DSC 0225 ----- DSC 0227 ----- DSC 0229 ----- DSC 0232 ----- DSC 0238 ----- DSC 0241 ----- Our final stop was the baptism site at Yardenit (Jordan RIver). -----DSC 0246 ----- DSC 0247 ----- DSC 0260 ----- Tomorrow we'll visit the Golan Hts. Stay tuned...

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We departed Jerusalem this morning and headed down to the Dead Sea, an altitude drop of about 3700 feet. First stop-Ein Gedi.----- DSC 0038 ----- DSC 0042 ----- DSC 0052 ----- DSC 0063 ----- DSC 0064 ----- DSC 0075 ----- The fortress at Masada was next on the schedule. ----- DSC 0080 ----- DSC 0083 ----- DSC 0084 ----- DSC 0093 ----- DSC 0106 ----- DSC 0112 ----- DSC 0120 ----- DSC 0125 ----- DSC 0138 ----- DSC 0140 ----- DSC 0143 ----- DSC 0146 ----- We then headed north to Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. ----- DSC 0172 ----- DSC 0180 ----- DSC 0185 ----- DSC 0188 ----- DSC 0201 ----- DSC 0202 ----- After a quick float in the Dead Sea we drove north to Tiberius and our hotel for the next three nights. Tomorrow we will visit the sites around the Sea of Galilee. Stay tunes...

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MP Broadcast