Judean Wilderness

Israel Day 5 – Continued – The Judean Desert

We traveled east out of Jerusalem out into the Judean Desert, or Wilderness.

At one point Ariel pointed out an Arab settlement (city) on our drive east. He said the name in Arabic a few times, and I started to hear the name Lazarus. Turns out this Arab city has named itself for Lazarus, the man Jesus rose from the dead, because it was near the city of Bethany, the town Lazarus and his sisters had lived. I thought that was kinda cool.

Further down the highway, we came out of a tunnel to completely different terrain. No more trees. No more flowers. Just dirt, lots of rocks, and a few tufts of dusty weeds. Oh – and hills. Big, rolling hills.

On and on and on. Dirt, rocks, hills.

To think that Jesus spent 40 days in this arid region during His temptation made me appreciate how hungry, hot, and thirsty He must have been.

To realize that John the Baptist had lived in this wilderness until he began baptizing in the Jordan River was astounding.

It didn’t take that long till we’d arrived at our destination. Today there were only 38 of us, and we managed to squeeze into 6 jeeps, including our drivers!

We bumped our way through this desert, thinking along the way… “If we’d been in that pack of Israelites traveling through a desert like this with Moses, we’d have grumbled and complained too.”

There’s absolutely nothing out there. Dirt. Rocks. Hills.

Oh, and camels. We got some good pictures!

I was satisfied seeing this great desert through the window of our Jeep… when we stopped!

Our guide led us up a small hill and into a CAVE. Though it was much cooler in there, it seemed like such a strange place for a cave.

Turns out there’s bedrock under all that dirt, and the ancients who LIVED in this desert chiseled away at a small cave to make a cistern to capture rainfall. Brilliant people!

From there we bumped along till we seemed to reach the highest point of the trip and stopped again. From that vantage we could see for miles. Ten miles to the west we could see the towers of Jerusalem. Ten miles to the east we could see the Dead Sea and the city of Jericho. By the way, Jericho is the oldest city in the world!

As high as we were in Jerusalem and even on this desert “mountain,” the Dead Sea was really low. The lowest point on earth, in fact.

We stood there, and our pastor started recounting all the things that happened in that very space…the town of Jericho, the Jericho plains, the Dead Sea.

Another holy moment. I was completely overwhelmed.

I was looking at the VERY place where the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and came into the Promised Land. Oh my. History coming to life before my eyes!

Beyond the Dead Sea are the Moab Mountains, and beyond them is the country Jordan…beyond that, Iraq. All the maps of today I’d been studying were coming to life.

We took some more great pictures overlooking this amazing view, then we turned to the west. The view was the same as it had been…dirt, rocks, hills, but our guide pointed out some deep trenches in the area we were standing.

Turns out the “roads” we’d been bumping along had been created by the US Army in 1991 during Desert Storm. The trenches by us were actually artillery bunkers where they’d put the Patriot missiles (and launchers) to defend Israel against SCUD missile attacks from Iraq.

Ariel told us that Saddam Hussein never did launch an air attack on Jerusalem because he was not confident enough in the accuracy of his missiles. He didn’t want to risk damaging the Temple Mount…the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque that are there are Muslim.

Of course, he had no issue with aiming OVER Jerusalem and bombing Tel Aviv.

Nevertheless, it was fascinating history to see with my own eyes. Things that happened in my lifetime, halfway across the world. I was there to see where it was happening.

We zoomed up hills, dodged large rocks in the road, and bumped our way back to where we’d started. En route we did see some existing Bedouin settlements. That means there are people STILL living out in this desert.

Shortly after we passed their settlement, we came across the Bedouin shepherds, herding their goats and sheep.  Did I mention there’s nothing out there? I guess the animals eat those dusty tufts of weeds…

What do the people eat?

And why do they live there?

Suddenly I have new appreciation for our bumpy Jeep and our awaiting air conditioned bus.

Talk to you tomorrow…our final day in Jerusalem.


City of David

Day 5 – City of David

Saul was the first king of Israel. And after him came David. He defeated the Jebusites and took over their fortress in Jerusalem and called it the City of David. (2 Samuel 5:6-10)  That’s where we visited today!

Ariel calls this day of our trip the “Beginnings of Jerusalem.” We go back in time BEFORE the Temple Mount was built, before there was a wall with gates.

If you could picture the Temple Mount as the top of someone’s head and that head is looking south, Ariel would describe the City of David as the nose of the face. It slopes downward toward the south.

David walled his City to fortify it, and some of those walls still exist today.

The City of David is on a ridge that has the Kidron Valley to the east and the Valley of the Cheese Makers (because it lined the poorer section of Jerusalem, whose inhabitants were called the cheese makers) to the west.

When I saw a model of the City of David in relationship to the Temple Mount, it reminded me of the Florida Peninsula…if that helps.

Today the City of David is mostly neighborhoods, so it was difficult to distinguish where we were, but with the help of maps, pictures, and explanations, the pieces of the puzzle began falling into place. I think.

We pulled into an area that had signs saying “City of David,” but it looked more like a garden spot with a gift shop. Upon further inspection, however, I realized that UNDER all that was an archaeological site where parts of the wall and two tunnels exist. We followed a natural shaft DOWN into the earth, under what would have been the city walls, to the Gihon Spring. From there, two tunnels led to the Siloam Pool, which was inside the walls.

Confused yet? Maybe with some history it’ll make a little more sense. Maybe.

In the days of Israelite King Hezekiah, word got to Jerusalem that the Assyrians were going to attack the city. Hezekiah knew the importance of water to his people, so the Gihon Spring became a focal point as Jerusalem prepped for the coming invasion. (see 2 Kings 20:20, 2 Chronicles 32:1-5)

The Jebusites that David conquered LONG before had constructed a tunnel from the Spring, but it no longer functioned, so Hezekiah commissioned the building of a new tunnel that would redirect the spring water to the city so that Jerusalem would have a water source that could not be cut off or poisoned when under siege.

To this day both tunnels exist. The brave ones in our group took the “wet” Hezekiah tunnel to the Pool of Siloam; the rest of us took the “dry,” much shorter Jebusite tunnel. The Pool itself doesn’t really exist anymore, but we were able to imagine what it would have been like as we sat on the steps that had led to it.

Some famous biblical events that happened at the Pool of Siloam:  Solomon was anointed as King of Israel after David at the Pool (1 Kings 1:32-40), and Jesus healed a man after he washed in the Pool (John 9:7).

Let me just say that Hezekiah and his men were able to dig this 1,750 foot tunnel by starting at either end, chiseling out BEDROCK a few inches at a time, and meet in the middle. Perfectly. In 701 BC. Incredible!

I mentioned that the City of David is mostly residential. Well, it’s an Arab neighborhood called Silwan, Arabic for Siloam! As we left the City of David I saw that name spray painted on a wall. I think they were claiming their village!

From there we went to a church, Church of St. Peter of Gallicantu, built on the spot where the High Priest, Caiaphas, of Jesus’ day had lived and where the disciple, Peter, denied Christ the night of His arrest. The church and its grounds were absolutely beautiful.

The church was built in 1931, and its name, “gallicantu,” means “cock-crow” in Latin. In Matthew 26:74, Peter fulfills Jesus’ prediction that he would deny Jesus three times that night before the cock crowed. And Peter did.

Under the church were some caves that had served in the Roman era as water cisterns, baths, and cellars. One of these seemed more of a pit. Tradition has it that after Jesus’ arrest, He was throw into that very pit under Caiaphas’ house.

Our group squeezed into that pit while our pastor read Psalm 88. For many in our group, it was a deeply moving experience. Imagining our Christ thrown into that deep, cold place was more than most of us could fathom.

After reading the Psalm, our pastor reminded us that we face “pits” of our own every day. And while we may feel alone, in the dark, God never leaves us, never casts us aside. No matter what.

It was a great reminder of the grace we live under.

Our next stop was the Israel Museum. It held two important features that we spent all our time on: the model of Jerusalem and the Shrine of the Book.

When I heard “model,” I thought it would be a nice glass-encased toothpick model of the city. What I didn’t expect was a nearly true-to-life limestone model that was a 50:1 replica of the city at the time of Jesus. The model was the creation of a professor from the Hebrew University before all of our recent excavation discoveries, so much of his model came from older histories and his imagination.

Amazingly, he got most of it right.

And I can’t begin to tell you how very helpful it was to see the big picture all at once.  We moved clockwise from the east, Temple Mount, side all the way around with Ariel pointing out much of what we’d already seen, giving us great perspective and filling in some of our “blanks” as we went.

Also at the Museum was a special building, called Shrine of the Book, dedicated to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are ancient animal skins with original Hebrew writing — scrolls containing all but two books of the entire Old Testament. These scrolls date back to the 1st and 2nd centuries BC, the oldest manuscripts on record. Their discovery has had significant impact on the Jewish and Christian churches because they offer further historical support for the Bible.

The scrolls were found in large alabaster jars with chocolate-chip-shaped lids. The fantastic thing about this Shrine was that it was built to feel as if you’ve walked into one of those alabaster jars. Rounded walls. A giant scroll handle pointing upward toward the chocolate-chip-shaped “lid” (ceiling). Fascinating. Amazing.

Today’s adventures don’t end here!  Join in for our Jeep ride through the Judean Desert in the next post!



Old City Jerusalem

Israel Day 4 – Old City Jerusalem

Do you remember I told you how surprised I was at the size of Jerusalem? I think part of me expected that today’s Jerusalem would still be within the walls it’s always been in. Silly, I know. But that’s my brain sometimes.

One of my ah-ha’s yesterday was that there is a section in this bigger-than-I-thought-it-would-be-city that is the Old City, the Jerusalem within the walls. That’s where we begin today…


Our morning wake-up was earlier than usual today because we had to rush out in time to stand in line. You know, that hurry-up-and-wait game we’re all so good at.

BUT, today the wait was definitely worth it. We were able to enter the walls of Jerusalem.

Through the Dung Gate.

Luckily, the use for that gate is no longer for the dung and trash or our line-waiting would have been very odorous!

What’s so special about the Dung Gate?

It leads to the Temple Mount!

We have learned SO MUCH history in the past two days, I’m pretty sure we have mush for brains now. But it’s all so fascinating!

I’ll try to give a short version of why the Temple Mount is such a big deal.

  1. God chose Abraham to be the father of a nation that would be His (God’s) people.
  2. Abraham’s son, Isaac, had a son, Jacob – Jacob’s name changed to Israel when he wrestled with God for His blessing. (It’s a long story that you can read about in Genesis 32).
  3. Israel had 12 sons, each of whom became the head of a tribe – the 12 tribes of Israel.
  4. Because of famine, all of Israel’s family moved to Egypt. When the new Pharaoh took reign, he enslaved them.
  5. Hundreds of years later, God had Moses lead the Israelites out of captivity.
  6. During their years in the desert, God’s presence traveled with them. God had Moses put together an elaborate tent for His dwelling. They called it the tabernacle.
  7. The Israelites finally entered the Promised Land, still using the tent for God’s dwelling place, their holy tabernacle.
  8. Eventually David becomes their king. While he desired to build God a permanent dwelling place, it was his son, Solomon, who built a massive, beautiful Temple. In the center of that Temple was a small area called the Holy of Holies, where the Spirit of God dwelled.

Solomon built that Temple in Jerusalem (about 950 BC)…at what is now called the Temple Mount!

Jesus at the Temple:

  1. Jesus was presented as a baby at this Temple.
  2. It’s also where His parents found Him at the age of 12, hanging out with all the teachers of the Jewish law.
  3. Jesus worshipped there.
  4. And this is where He overturned the money changers’ tables.

Other quick history notes about the Temple:

  1. In 70 AD, the Roman Empire totally destroyed the Temple. It’s never been rebuilt.
  2. In 135 AD, Hadrian rebuilt the city in Roman fashion.
  3. In the 7th century, the Muslim’s leader Mohammed was believed to have ascended to heaven from the Temple Mount, so this location became sacred to the Muslims.
  4. In 692 AD, the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock, the current sanctuary on the Temple Mount.

What ALL that means for today is that THREE religions see the Temple Mount as their “most holy place.” Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

As a result, the tension between these groups is not only heated when debated spiritually, but politically as well. Each one believes they have the right to claim Jerusalem as their own.

The solution – divide it up! (Recall the Church of the Nativity!)

The Jerusalem inside the walls is divided into four quarters: Christian, Armenian, Jewish, and Muslim.

Today we entered the Muslim Quarter through the Dung Gate. The Muslims have control of Temple Mount.

Today is the day we saw the most guns, the most armed soldiers, and felt the most tension. We never felt threatened or in danger, but we got a front row seat to the tensions between the Muslims and Jews.

The line was long because, just like traffic narrowing down for a construction zone, we funneled down to a security check gate that is reminiscent of an airport, only without body scans.

Once through security, we walked up a raised ramp (over the Jewish Quarter and Wailing Wall) and into the Temple Mount proper.

Oh my.

So much to share. So little space.

It was definitely my holy moment of the trip. I couldn’t quit thinking, “This is where Jesus walked. I am where He was.” I wasn’t the only one overcome with the realization.

Spiritually we’re rocked, and simultaneously, we’re emotionally shocked.

Pockets of Muslim women were circled in small study groups all over, peaceful at first. Then their shouting started. Turns out there was a rare Jewish group allowed in. The women’s shouts were meant to be reminders of who has control of the Mount.

So eerie. So fascinating.


The Temple Mount is HUGE. It’s a raised platform of limestone that is actually on top of a famous “mountain,” Mount Moriah. I have nothing to compare it to…maybe several football fields long AND wide? On it are a mosque, sanctuary, several smaller buildings, multiple areas of trees, and lots and lots of limestone slabs that line the ground. Ariel told us hundreds of thousands of people will pack into the Temple Mount for Muslim holidays.

We took many pictures. Saw the East Gate from the inside (the sealed one). And finally headed out toward the west wall.

Outside Temple Mount were Muslim residences. It was little much for my brain to compute. People actually live next door to this holy place.

To exit the Muslim Quarter and enter the Jewish Quarter, we had to go through another security check point, but a much shorter line.

Once inside the Jewish Quarter, we made a beeline to the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. It was a busy Thursday because of the many Bah Mitzvahs being celebrated, but it wasn’t too hard for us to find our way to the wall to pray and leave a written prayer in a crack in the wall.

Men pray on one side, women on the other. We followed suit.


I’ve rarely felt so surrounded by prayers. Standing there before the wall of the Temple Mount, I felt a part of a long story, a rich history, a divine and holy place. There just aren’t words to describe it. Truly.

The Jewish Quarter…I absolutely fell in love with it. Its beauty. Its smells. Its people. Its food. Its history. And we only had two hours there. Can I go back?

One of the amazing things about the Jewish Quarter is that most of what we walked through above-ground was built on top of archaeological dig sites. We went underground for a while to see for ourselves a home of a rich family that has been partially uncovered. Just amazing. Helps me get an idea of what life was like in Jesus’ day.

We also got to see the “Broad Wall” that Nehemiah was responsible for building when he was allowed to return to Jerusalem from exile.

All of these walls, buildings, tunnels…they’re amazing works of architecture. No one has yet to figure out how they were able to lift these huge chunks of limestone to build with. Our cranes today can’t even do that!

We left the walled city through the Zion Gate. So cool.

Except I didn’t want to leave.

Our final stop for the day was at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Ariel told us it would be the only stop on our tour where he hoped we wouldn’t enjoy it.

There’s nothing to enjoy about remembering the holocaust, but the way they went about memorializing it was magnificent. The entire building was shaped in a triangular fashion so that the walls would feel as if they were falling in on us.

Then they had us zig and zag through each room in a fascinating and almost rhythmical fashion that followed the chronological history of this era of horrors.

It all ended through glass doors out to a dramatic view of the Judean hills. It gave us a sense of hope for the future.

By the time we all got on the bus we were zapped physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

It’s time for dinner, a shower…then sleep.

Tomorrow we’ll tour sites that explain the beginnings of Jerusalem. So, more on King David and a few others!  Till then, richest of blessing to you!



Day 3 – Continued – Bethlehem

The second half of our first day in Jerusalem had us cross a mere five miles to Jesus’ birthplace, Bethlehem. Though short on miles, this trek required us to pass through a heavily gated border into Palestinian territory. Because we were part of a tourist group, our tour guide had already arranged for our entry, so coming and going went without issue. We were greatly relieved!

Our tour guide, Ariel, is Jewish, a true Israelite, so he was not allowed into Bethlehem, but we knew that ahead of time. So… we left Jerusalem without him and met a new guide, a Palestinian, at this cool little restaurant in the heart of Bethlehem for lunch.

Our seats on the second floor patio kept us out of the sun and captured the breeze coming off the Judean hills to our east. The décor was everything you’d expect for place wedged between the Mediterranean and the Middle East – billowing fabric from the ceiling, red cushioned seats with blues and purples in the carpet and decorations.

And the food…such fun food! Bowl after little bowl of who-knows-what were waiting for us as soon as we came in. Appetizer kind of food. Cabbages in various colors and seasonings. Cucumbers and tomatoes. Three different kinds of olives. Something that reminded me of hummus but wasn’t. And, yes, hummus and pita bread.  So good.

Our small plates were whisked away in time for the main course of chicken and “beef” kabobs. I was never really sure if the “beef” was lamb or some other sort of meat. I decided not to ask and just try it. It was all very tasty; some I liked more than others. But I was thrilled when the bak-la-va (spelling?) came out for dessert. The honey on it satisfied my sweet tooth.

Then we headed out to tour. All the famous holy spots are just as “venerated” in Bethlehem as they are in Jerusalem, so lots of churches. The first of which we saw was The Church of the Nativity. Any guesses what happened on that location?

Yup. This is where it is believed Jesus was born.

Not only is it the oldest church in all of Israel, but it’s a most unique church — three different Christian churches have ownership of it: Catholic, Armenian, and the Orthodox. Literally, they have partitioned the church into three parts, each having claim to their own part, offering a means for peace to exist between them.

It’s a highly ornate church, almost too much for me, but once I made myself get past all the chandeliers and Christmas bulbs hanging down around me, I could appreciate the most articulate craftsmanship in the wood and metal-work I’ve ever seen.

While we waited in line to step down into a cave to see the spots where Jesus was born and where He was laid into the manger, the Armenians were holding their daily service. It was interesting – lots of chanting in their language, a little incense, and much praying!

In case you’re still hung up that we were going into a cave to see where Jesus was born…well, “stables” in this part of the world, especially in Jesus’ day, were actually in caves. Yes, your cute little barn in your nativity set is all wrong. If it makes you feel any better, I bought an original olive wood nativity that day in Bethlehem, and the holy family is under a roof!

From here we were bussed a bit down the road to a location that they believe was the field where the “shepherds watched their flocks by night,” “where angels we have heard on high” made their appearance the night Jesus was born.

Honestly, the shrine, gardens, and trail that were at Shepherd’s Field kept us from seeing an actual field, but we took their word for it and threw ourselves into the experience. The shrine was gorgeous, and while we circled through this vaulted-ceiling room, we softly sang some Christmas carols about that night.

So moving. Our echoes were most angelic sounding!

Our final stop for the day was at The Three Arches, a very nice store filled with all kinds of souvenirs of our day’s experiences. We sipped on grapefruit juice while we walked the store with baskets in hand. Real baskets. The kind you make in basket-weaving. I love this place!

My friend and I couldn’t seem to pull ourselves out of the olive wood section, so Ahmad decided he would be our personal shopper that day. He made us laugh A LOT! Had so much fun. And spent some major shekels. I guess you could say Ahmad did his job well!

We made it back to the hotel giddy from our purchases and gritty from all our sweaty explorations, so most of us showered before dinner; after dinner we retired for the evening.

We did notice that once the sun set, the traffic immediately increased, shops re-opened for the evening, and the Jewish guests in the hotel were riding in elevators with us again. The holy day, Shavuot, was over.  Life is back to normal in Jerusalem…at least till Shabbath, their Sabbath, when all the “non-working” starts over again.

Why don’t we observe Sabbath that way? Seems like a great idea to me!

Signing off for now. Tomorrow we get to enter the gates of Old Jerusalem. I can’t wait!



First Day in Jerusalem

Israel Trip Day 3 – First Day in Jerusalem – June 4, 2014

Let me pick up where we left off because I just loved our journey into this very holy city, Jerusalem.

Ariel explained that Jerusalem is most unique because it is the center for three major religions: Muslim, Judaism, and Christianity. And since the Hebrews, God’s chosen people, entered it after their exodus and wilderness wandering, Israel has been the hot seat of conflict.

When Israel became its own nation in 1967 and new boundary lines were drawn (to what they are now), Jerusalem has been a city shared by all these factions.

For the Jews, Jerusalem has been God’s dwelling place. In the temple, the actual place where God “dwells,” is in the very center of the temple…a place called the Holy of Holies. And every year, Jews have traveled from afar to worship in Jerusalem.

On the highway, we hit some traffic as we got closer to the city because, believe it or not, it was the night before a big Jewish holiday, Shavuot, which is the Feast of Weeks. The Jews were headed to their city, making their pilgrimage!

To enter the city one must ascend the hills to get there. Historically, as Jews travelled up and into the city, they sang certain Psalms, the Psalms of Ascension. So as we, that first day in Israel, ascended toward Jerusalem, Ariel called for silence and played a song for us, “Old Jerusalem.”

It was amazing! I felt like a pilgrim on the road with hundreds of other pilgrims, who had journeyed very far to be in God’s city. There we were ascending to Jerusalem, just as millions of pilgrims had done before us. Some on foot. Some on the backs of animals. And for those of us in the twenty-first century, some in automobiles.

Jerusalem is holy, it is old, and it is a growing metropolis. I was surprised how much “civilization” there was before we’d reached the city proper. Jerusalem has suburbs!

Even in a bus, the view of this magnificent city is breath-taking. And just as I’d expected and hoped, the limestone white of all the buildings (new and old) captured my heart and imagination.

While many signs and modern conveniences abound at every turn, it is very easy to imagine you are in the ancient past.

The trip to our hotel went fast, but our weary and hungry bodies were happy to arrive.

The hotel was a bustle with Jews who were dressed up for worship on the eve of Shavuot. The streets were relatively quiet. Shops were closed. Ariel told us it would be that way through Wednesday because once the sun went down, it was a holy day and that meant no work.

Even pushing a button on an elevator is considered work!

It was wonderful to see families dressed in their traditional clothes – especially the men in their hats. It was “other worldly.”

After dinner, we literally crashed. I’d made it to a bed at last!

Morning came and we were off to the Mount of Olives as soon as breakfast was over.

I’m told our hotel is in the center of the city, so we traveled east through the city and across the Kidron Valley, up to a small mountain range that is home to mountains as Mt Scopus and the Mount of Olives. Why is it called the Mount of Olives? Great question! It was once covered in olive trees…which are still in abundance in the area.

From the Mount of Olives, looking west, is a tremendous view of Jerusalem and the Kidron Valley that lays between the two. Looking east is a bleak wilderness. The contrast between the two views is shocking.

Jerusalem from Mount of Olives

Ariel shared that this wilderness is the “desert in the shadow of the rain” because the mountain range works as a blockade, trapping rain clouds over Jerusalem. By the time the wind blows the clouds out to the desert, they are empty.

The great amount of history here is overwhelming; you might recall that King David would often enter Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Jesus was at the Mount of Olives a few times, especially to pray. And it was from here that Jesus was met by a crowd that first Palm Sunday.

There are three cemeteries between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, all representing the three religions: at the Mount of Olives is a large Jewish Cemetery. What look to be tombs dot the hillside, but they’re actually just large grave markers. The Jews bury their dead in shrouds, just as they did in Jesus’ day, so there are no coffins or caskets.

Jewish tombs

Further down, closer to Kidron Valley, lies a small Catholic (Christian) cemetery, and up right next to the eastern wall of Jerusalem is a Muslim cemetery.

The “old city of Jerusalem” still has a wall around it! Ariel explained that with each leader/king/emperor, the walls expanded out, and it is so old that there are parts of it (like the steps on the south wall) that historians are sure Jesus would have seen (or walked on).  So cool!

This Old City is divided into four sections, one for each of the religious groups: the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, and the Christian Quarter.

Every wall has gates.  Historically, these gates were the entry points into the city. They still exist and most are in use today.

A bit of history that fascinates me is that along the east wall is the Eastern Gate, also known as Gate Beautiful…and it is completely sealed.

Why?  Well, there is a prophecy in the Bible that says when Christ returns, He will enter through the East Gate.  The Jews, to this day, still believe that the Messiah will enter through the East Gate riding a donkey (as Jesus did!).

The Temple Mount and the East Gate are both in the Muslim Quarter, so to ensure that Jesus, the Messiah, will NOT return, they’ve blockaded the gate.

eastern gate

Today, Ariel told us that there was a king who first had the gate sealed to keep the crusaders from coming in, so it’s our thought that perhaps the Muslims are trying to prevent anyone from opening the East Gate for fear that would be the catalyst for Jesus’ return and the end of the world.

We also learned that the Muslim cemetery, literally right outside the East Gate, is another insurance policy to keep Jesus from returning. Muslims know that no practicing Jew would ever walk through a cemetery before entering the Temple because that would make them unclean.

Interesting history, isn’t it?

From the Mount of Olives, we ventured down the Palm Sunday path. In Jesus’ day, it would have been the same path, though not covered with asphalt. It was steep and slippery, as Ariel would say, “stippery.”

AC has told us that anywhere something holy happened, a church has “venerated” it. In other words, they built a church on the site. As a result, there are LOTS of churches…from all three religious groups.

The path we walked was walled on both sides, a neutral zone between two churches’ lands. Along the path were beautiful flowers, a few gardens, and even an ancient burial site.

At the bottom of the path, but well before reaching the walled city, was the famous Garden of Gethsemane…the place Jesus and his disciples went to pray the night of his arrest.

Guess what!? There was a big church there! We did get to walk through a garden that had really old olive trees…really old! It was easy to picture Jesus praying in this quiet place.

We traveled west in the bus to reach what’s called Mount Zion, or the City of David, which literally bumped right up against the southern wall of Jerusalem.

David statue

Here we saw a large statue of David, where some believe he was buried. And we ventured up into a space that is generally accepted as where the Upper Room would have been. The room we went into was not the actual Upper Room but connected to a church (you guessed it!), Hagia Sion, marking the site.

This room has known many owners over the centuries, some Christian some not. I LOVED what Ariel said to that: “Once a site is holy, it is always holy, no matter the religion.”

Upper room

Holy, holy, holy!

Speaking of songs. We sang a few today.

In the Upper Room we sang a verse from two different hymns about Jesus’ presence. The echo could have been angels singing it was so beautiful. It was my holy moment of the day.

I’ll break here and pick up with our journey to Bethlehem in the next post!



Traveling to Israel

Highway along a wall, filled cars and by buses

Israel Trip, Days 1-2 (June 2, 2014—June 3, 2014)

For a girl who hasn’t spent much time in airports, it was a day full of them! Four, in fact. Each one different from the other in so many ways.

Oklahoma was quiet. It was early morning. And, believe it or not, OKC is pretty small as airports go.

There are 37 in our group today (5 of our friends will meet us in Tel Aviv). It was quite the sight to see all of our luggage with our little, yellow pom-poms congregated together outside the ticket gate. That was a lot of bags!

Many in our group managed to get selected for TSA Pre-Check so their shoes stayed on.

Not mine.

But I made it through with flying colors. One in our group, however, was greatly delayed through the security process, having her hands swabbed twice for explosive residue and her bags completely emptied. But she made it past and kept her smile on straight.

A few of us grabbed our LAST Sonic breakfast burrito and drink before we boarded for Dallas.

On our first plane of the day, I gulped my apple juice in record time because the descent began almost as soon as we’d hit cruising altitude.

I did enjoy my aisle seat, and my aisle counterpart entertained me. When he wasn’t badgering the traveling pilot seated next to him (all in fun!), he gave me a short-course in traveling, something he does regularly. So when we got off the plane, I followed HIM.

DFW Airport was fun. I was wishing my boys were there to experience the Sky Tram. To get from one terminal to the next, the little bullet of a tram we took reminded me a bit of a Disney World ride. Its windows offered a great view of the surrounding structures – mostly airport and freeway.

We had time to snack and take our potty breaks then we were off to show our passports at the next gate.

My window seat from Dallas to Newark, New Jersey was great…especially as we started coming into New York. Smog prevented me from seeing very far out, but pretty soon the world traveler sitting by me pointed out the NY skyline.

Sure enough! There it was!

I was giddy. Felt like a kid. New York! New York!!

We made a turn as we got a little closer, and I saw her. The Statue of Liberty. It is official. I’ve seen her!

As we taxied to our gate, I was snapping photos from my window seat of a much closer skyline –  I could make out the Empire State Building, the new World Trade Center Tower, and an entire skyline of Devon-like Towers, though my seat mate said the actual one would be dwarfed among these NYC skyscrapers.


After sitting for so long many of us walked the terminal as we pondered where we’d eat our final American meal. Three and a half hours went quick only to find ourselves digging out our passports again to get on our third and final plane of the day.

The plane to Tel Aviv had three rows of seats with touch screen media devices on the backs of each seat – think backseat DVD players. One for each of us! I had fun tapping buttons, scrolling through movie titles and playing a little Hangman and Solitaire.

All day our group had been scattered throughout the planes, but I always seemed to be with at least one person from our group, though never with one of my buddies.

That is…until someone sweet offered to swap seats with my friend. How great to spend the long flight with her! We giggled our way through the first hour of the ten hour flight. Our third-seat-man on our row was from Israel, and he happily told us much about his homeland.

Then it hit me…just how tired I was. The movie list was tempting me, the smell of airplane food confusing me (it was after 11pm), but what I really wanted was a bed.

My husband will nod knowingly when he reads that. I love curling up in my bed, reading till I fall asleep.

Not tonight. Tucked into my middle seat, I tried and tried to get comfortable…to no avail.

I ended up watching a movie till my eyes wouldn’t stay open and I finally slept.

We broke fast (they do actually say “break” fast) with airplane finery and barely had enough time to find the bathroom before it was time to land. We’d arrived!

My tummy started to get a little nervous, worried about entering a foreign country – would they go through our bags? Would I be able to answer all their questions? The good news is it all went well for everyone. The man who stamped my passport was very friendly even. He asked where I was from and I tentatively said, “Oklahoma,” expecting him to screw up his face in confusion.

Instead he said, “Oh you are OKC! You have very good basketball team!” We were instant friends!

We met our guide, Ariel (pronounced R-E-L) – a man, not the mermaid! And he helped us get loaded on our busy and we headed to Jerusalem. The whole way Ariel shared history, geography and even a little about the political tensions of the area.

I’ll end this post here because there is so much more to share about our first night in Jerusalem.  I know there will be more history and learning opportunities to come in the following posts – but this is how we got started!

Shelley Johnson


Twas the Night Before Israel

jerusalem blog 1


We plan. We wait. We feel like we JUST CAN’T WAIT…

And then it’s here. The day we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived.

Whether it’s Christmas or a big trip, the Eve before the Big Day is filled with anticipation, excitement, and usually a long list of “to do’s.” Tonight is no different for me and 41 other fellow-sojourners. Tomorrow morning we begin our journey to Israel, the Holy Land. We can hardly wait!

Our group has met about three times to get the packing lists, itineraries, and history lessons. We’ve shopped. Packed. Read books. Studied maps. And made all the arrangements for the families and responsibilities we leave behind.

We’re ready.

We’ll tackle the airports tomorrow…four in all, Tel Aviv being our final destination. I imagine, “the getting there” will be as much of an adventure as our tour through all the sites that await us. But, God willing, we’ll prevail.

Our pastor and his wife — AC and Bev Cole — are our fearless leaders who’ve much experience on such expeditions, so I have no fear that they’ll guide us through customs with ease, just as they’ll guide us along the footsteps of Jesus in the days to come.

12 in all.

We’ll stay in Jerusalem the longest, but we’ll also venture to the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, and end up back on the Mediterranean Coast before we fly out of Tel Aviv.

I hope to blog here as often as I’m able about our experiences in order to share with you all we’re learning.

I, for one, cannot begin to fathom how I’ll feel to walk where He walked. But I CAN’T WAIT to find out! And I look forward to sharing with you.

So…meet me back here soon!

Twas the night before…ISRAEL!

In Him,

Shelley Johnson

Girls with Swords Chapter 14

Cross Carry — The Final Chapter

Funny how we can do a small thing faithfully over time till we realize we’ve accomplished much — like this book!

We’ve met here once a week for thirteen weeks. We’ve been faithful to do a chapter a week; we’ve done well to do every part and now we can say we’ve completed the whole.

Girls with Swords. If we’ve read it with the heart intended, this was no easy-read.

We’ve been challenged to see ourselves not as victims but targets, to learn the Word of God in such a way that it becomes our weapon to defend and fight back. We’re chosen and trained!

We’ve been taught to see the cross as a weapon…a sword. We recognize now that we are in a battle…but we’re not defenseless. In fact, we are armed!

And there are so many way God’s Word is a sword — it’s harvest, light, song, silence, and forgiveness. Sometimes we’re to wield it; other times we should yield it.

Now we are to be commissioned.

Lisa reminds us in this final chapter of commissioning that while we bear these swords, carry this cross, we (each one of us) also wear invisible crowns, reminders of the authority we’ve been given by Christ Himself — authority over darkness.

We wear the crown, and we carry the cross. Jesus bore our cross so we could wear His crown…. This dynamic of becoming like Christ is realized through discipleship, which we live by daily walking with Him. (Fencing Manual, p.182)

For each one of us, the Cross is personal.

In Mathew 16:24, Jesus instructs us to a) deny ourselves, b) take up the cross, and c) follow Him. And for each of us the cross we take up will be different.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been taught that “taking up the cross” means bearing some horrible burden for the name of Jesus. I don’t doubt that we all have seasons where the cross feels burdensome, hard. But this study has helped me to realize that the cross ultimately represents the work Jesus has done within me, and when I take it up, I’m walking in the fullness of that salvation, ready to extend grace and love to whoever God puts in my path. Lisa puts it this way:

The cross captures all that the work of salvation has placed in our hands. (FM, p.183)

What has the cross personally meant to you?

For me the cross is freedom, and it is HOPE! The work Jesus did for me on the cross has freed me from habits (like negative self-talk) and tendencies (like a bad temper). The cross has filled me with a peace that overcomes all my worries…and I am a natural-born worrier! The cross equips and fills me with a boldness that is not my own, enabling me to step out into deeper waters that fear would otherwise keep me from entering.

Was this salvation a one time experience? Yes. …and no.

Yes — I accepted Jesus as my Savior and He came into my heart, my life, and I’ve been redeemed.

And no — This work of salvation, of sanctifying grace, continues everyday. I learn and grow, fail and succeed, journey and sojourn everyday, every season. It’s a continuous work that I have to be open to everyday.

The power of salvation, this ongoing work in our lives, requires us to surrender to Christ, the Cross, everyday.

I absolutely love that Lisa reminds us of this…”The very moment we admit our need, God is there to meet it.” For Lisa, she had to admit she didn’t know. For me, I have to admit I can’t do it myself.

What about you? In what area can you admit a need right now?

When we can admit we need God, He can do amazing work in and through us.

We carry this precious Message [of the Cross] around in unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. 2 Corinthians 4:7, The Message

We need to know what message the Cross is for us, that personal work Christ has done in us through His Cross, so that we can be His vessels, willing to pour into others.

Jesus modeled this way of life for us as he loved and ministered to all the people in His life. He taught truths, fed the hungry, cast out demons, healed the sick, confronted the religion of the day, and raised the dead (FM, p.186). He both loved people and worked for the good of the oppressed.

He showed us that we don’t have to choose between doing good (what we call social justice today) and living a life of the supernatural, the spiritual. We need to recognize, through our time alone with Him, when He is calling us into action…and we’ll be equipped because of the supernatural work He will do through us. Picture it: we could be BOTH Mary AND Martha! But only in Him, through Him.

Does the work of the Cross mean we’ll be perfect? That we’ll never mess up or make wrong choices? No! We’re human. We’ve been given the gift of free-will. So when those mistakes happen, we have to remember we’re still on that potter’s wheel. God can still shape us into what He wants; He can still use us for His purposes.

That is the work of redemption — that delivering, rescuing, restoring work of the Cross. Remember, the work of the Cross is once AND for always. Take time to read The Message version of Romans 12:1-2. It’s a perfect reminder of what we’re called to be and do.

Jesus’ disciples rarely got things right. They are our examples of how Jesus helps us in our doubt, unbelief, and hard hearts.

And when we pick up our crosses and move into the world, ready to do God’s bidding, we better be certain the enemy will find us. We can’t forget those deadly d’s of doubt, distraction, discouragement, and division. When we recognize them, we pick up our swords, the Word of the Lord “to silence demons and then cast them out in Jesus’ name” (FM, p.189).

Commissioned sisters, we’ve been armed and trained, so it’s time for us to enter into the fray. As we do, let us EXPECT the power of the Cross to be in us, with us.

Whether we’re praying for our families and churches or interceding for someone who is trapped or lost, let us EXPECT Jesus to work His might through us.

So…what results to you hope (expect) to see in your life and family? Your church and community?

Zechariah 9:13 in The Message reminds uss that “people are my (God’s) swords.”

We are flaming swords who proclaim He is the way:

The Cross positioned you to be a hero.

Carry it with hope in your heart,

faith for the impossible,

and love for all humanity. (FM, p.192)

As Jesus told us so many times in His Word — in fact, He prayed it — He is one with the Father so we are one with Him. In this oneness we can turn from our own reflections to deny its limitations and instead reflect Him! (FM, p.193)

Lisa charges us to carry the gospel of the Kingdom in our everyday, ordinary lives, and do so with bold strength. (FM, p.193) She goes on to anoint us with words, saying that we should live like heroes, sure to strike a blow to the enemy and set captives free…. That we should no longer see ourselves as targeted but as CHOSEN…chosen to be a sword lifted in our Savior’s hand. (FM, p.194)

We’re not victims…but targets. But even that mindset is limiting. We are CHOSEN. Sisters of the Sword, let’s band together under the unifying banner of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and become the princess warriors we were created to be.

When we’re tired, weary, fearful, confused, or broken, we turn to the Cross and remember the work Christ did there. Then lay it all at the foot of the Cross and be renewed.

We can take up our swords in the full power of Jesus and re-enter the battle.

Fighting by your side,

Shelley Johnson

Girls with Swords Chapter 13

Sword of Forgiveness and Restoration

The Sword of Silence we yield, keeping it in its scabbard but at the ready. The Sword of Forgiveness and Restoration we lay aside altogether.

It is one thing to have a sword and refuse to draw it, and quite another to have no sword at all. (Fencing Manual, p. 169)

Just as 2 Corinthians 10:8 reminds us that we are empowered in order to build-up people, Galatians 5:1-22 lists all the “dirty, human weapons” we too easily wield upon others. Things like hatred, rage, strife, dissension, division, and envy. It’s important to keep in mind the power our words and actions have and to recognize there are moments we’re called to silence but times we are called to lay down all weapons to simply forgive.

If you don’t have the Girls with Swords book or access to the Session 7 video, try to. Lisa’s story of the journey with her father is an incredible one of hurt, hope, faith, and forgiveness, and freedom. In short, their relationship was strained. Lisa held years of disappointment and bitterness toward her father who seemed to hold no interest in her or her children.

Through an amazing, God-led series of events over several years, she was able to trust God enough to forgive her father. Her forgiveness freed her and restored him.

Lisa’s journey, faith, and transparency led our group into some incredible revelations of past hurts…many of them inflicted by fathers. Our morning together was one of the most holy moments I’ve experienced. I think we all began to see the power of laying down those “daggers of disappointment and bitterness,” the resentment that builds over the years, and of forgiving the one who has hurt us.

There’s nothing easy about acknowledging a hurt, a wound. There’s nothing easy about laying down all our defenses. There’s nothing easy about stepping out in faith and letting God work in us to the point of forgiveness.  Here are some of the take-aways we tucked into our hearts — some are “ah-ha” thoughts; others are instructive and encouraging:

1. God loves the unlovely and unloving (not their actions, but the person). Here’s the ah-ha… He loved them beforebefore you knew them, before they were wounded themselves, before they hurt you! (FM, p.171)

2. God gives us promises in His Word, such as Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” In Lisa’s situation, she tried to carry the sword of salvation for her dad and her family. What she finally realized was that God promised salvation to her house. Salvation wasn’t up to her. That promise extends to our families! We are called to LOVE them! That is not to say we don’t set boundaries or foolishly endanger ourselves or our loved ones, but it does mean we can trust God to be good to His Word.

“Our faith is placed in God, not in people.” (FM, p. 172)

3. If we ever feet orphaned, another promise we can trust in and claim is God’s love, His adoption of us into His family. Lisa says God “adopted us long before we were abandoned.” (Another before…)  We’re never alone. And don’t forget our enemy would just love for us to forget that!!

4. “Daggers of disappointment or bitterness” may threaten to misdirect the sword you wield. Lisa’s long-time hurts kept her wound open, her bitterness ready to lash out at every opportunity. Her reactions to her dad’s meanness and indifference were hurtful to her dad, so wounds remained unhealed and further injury resulted. When we lay down those daggers and trust God with our hearts, He will heal us, and in the process we are freed. Lisa’s exact words, “I still judged my father until the moment I spoke the words God gave me. When I released him, I was released” (FM, p.174). But she had to trust God with those words. She didn’t FEEL like saying them, but she trusted God enough to know if those were the words He asked of her, she would speak them. And the healing began.

Will you be brave enough to lay aside the daggers of rejection and disappointment? Will you allow our Father to remake them into instruments of adoption, restoration, and divine appointment? (FM, p.175)

If you have ever asked these kinds of questions,

  • Why didn’t my father or mother love me?
  • Why don’t they want to be with my children?
  • When will Your promises come true? (FM, p.172)

Then…take all the feelings wrapped up in these questions and lay them at the foot of the cross. Give them to God and trust that no matter your situation, He has healing and restoration in mind for you. And the vehicle for such restoration is through the Sword of Forgiveness.

Be aware of those disappointments and the bitterness that lie in wait of a chance to lash out. Lay those down and find freedom. Let “our Father remake them into instruments of adoption, restoration, and divine appointment” (FM, p.175).

And when that happens, watch for ways God might want to use you as an agent of restoration. Where can the King send you to speak the words others need to hear so that they can receive His healing and life?

Let’s learn how to speak His counsel rather than rehearse our hurts! (FM, p.175)

Mother Teresa once said, “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway” (FM, p.176). Our group resonated with Lisa’s experience because her act of forgiveness was not based on a feeling. It was based on faith and obedience to God. Her act of faith freed her from decades of bitterness and resentment and hurt.

Here’s what I’ve learned about forgiveness: Forgiving DOESN’T mean saying to the person who hurt you that what they did doesn’t matter. It doesn’t excuse their actions, but it does free YOU from their tangled bonds.

Another thing I’ve learned about forgiveness… We don’t offer our forgiveness with any expectation on that person. It’s given without strings, without a hidden agenda.  It’s given freely, unconditionally. What that person does with the forgiveness is between them and God.

Here’s what you can trust. God loves you. He loves the one who has hurt you. He wants freedom for you. He has gone before you to make a way.

“You may have had a horrible beginning, but with God, you can choose your ending” (FM, p.177).

Like Lisa, “I don’t know your story, but I can tell you God is faithful.” My prayer for all of us sword-sisters is that we put to use all the swords we’ve been learning about, and none is as pivotal as the one we’re called to lay down.

We meet for one more chapter next week. Till then, talk to God. And I’ll be praying that we can each lay down our hurts and forgive those who’ve inflicted the pain.

In Him,

Shelley Johnson

Girls with Swords Chapter 12

Sword of Silence

Seated around the table, books opened, we all laughed that uncomfortable snicker as we looked at the title of this chapter. Sword. Of. Silence. Maybe we already knew this sword would be one of the hardest to wield.

Turns out…we don’t wield it all. Yup. This is going to be hard!

The Sword of Silence is the sword left in its scabbard, in its sheath unused. Funny how for a whole study we’ve been training ourselves how to pick up the Sword, God’s Word, and USE it, only to discover that we also have to learn to discern when God calls to keep our hands off the hilt and remain silent. Oh my.

What does silence mean? What are those situations when silence is the appropriate response?  Maybe when “I have no answer,” or “the battle is too big for me to handle so I’ll let God handle it.” Here’s a good one: “I have a response but I choose not to give it voice at this time.” In a nutshell, silence means we respond when God whispers, “Leave this one to me.” (Fencing Manual, p.157)

So the question that begs an answer – How do we know when to be silent? The answer, ironically, is that we have to be able to hear God and that means we have to be still, be quiet. We need to posture ourselves so He can be heard.

Our being still and silent (or our inability to do so) reveals if we have rule (or control) over our souls. (FM, p. 157)

When we allow our own careless words to put us in desperate circumstances, we need to be still and silent before God so we know what our next steps are.

When we are threatened by desperate circumstances not of our own making, we also need to be still and silent before God. He wants to speak to us in those moments, so let’s still ourselves to receive His Words.

Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you, and you only have to be silent.” (ESV) That’s the promise we take to heart, that we claim when circumstances tempt us to react with our humanness.

Think about your normal reactions when you are suddenly in a frightening situation. Maybe you run or yell or fight back. Maybe you panic and lose all your senses…just freeze.

God wants us to turn to Him in those moments and seek His wisdom.

Lisa points out, though, that often “the battles we face are normally far subtler.” (FM, p. 158)  Lies. Rumors. Gossip. Fear. But even in those situations, God’s promise stands true. In The Message the same Exodus 14:14 verse says, “God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouth shut.”

In the NIV the verse says, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Which version of Exodus 14:14 speaks to you most and why?

Exodus 14:13 tells us to “stand firm” so we can watch God fight for us. So not only are we to be still and silent, but we’re called to stand our ground.

What does it mean to “stand firm”?

As our group talked through what “standing firm” might look like, someone brought to mind the scene in the move Blindside when Sandra Bullock’s “mom” character stood her ground while facing the drug lords on “their turf.” She didn’t let fear cause her to cower or back away. She didn’t over-react and start screaming, losing control. She calmly, yet firmly, stood her ground and got the answers she sought, let it be known a boundary had been set. A mighty vision of standing firm we might emulate.

Lisa alluded to the Pharaoh who led Egypt at the time of the Exodus. Over and over God called Moses to stand firm before this mighty king and demand freedom for the Hebrew slaves. And every time God hardened the Pharaoh’s heart, and freedom was not to be had…at least not until the final plague of death.

The Hebrews were free…until God hardened Pharaoh’s heart again, and the Hebrews found themselves trapped between an army and a great sea.

Why did God deliberately and repeatedly harden Pharaoh’s heart?

For His own glory! Think about it. There was NO OTHER answer for the deliverance of the Hebrew slaves than God’s intervention. No one could give credit to Pharaoh.

And by the time the Hebrews reached Jericho, the stories of their mighty God had reached the city and Jericho cowered in fear of Him.

The moral for us? The battles we face are much larger than we can fathom. Their influence much more far-reaching than we can imagine. Even the battles between families and nations can be opportunities “for a revelation of the one true God.” (FM, p. 160)

So how do we respond when the battle is personal?

Have rumors caused your reputation to be smeared? Has someone completely misrepresented you? Do you feel misunderstood?

How do you respond? God would say with silence.

Proverbs 26:20 (NLT) says, “Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.”  We can all relate to fire. We know that to burn fire needs fuel; it has to be fed.  Guess what? So do gossip and rumors. What are some ways to put out this fire?

We can’t forget that our tongues have the power of life and death, of healing and destruction (Proverbs 18:21). We have a choice how to respond when life gives us unfair circumstances.

There’s a story of David in 1 Samuel 25 that helps drive home the power of silence when we are treated unfairly. For all the years David was running and hiding from Saul, he finally found himself in another country, protecting the sheep and men of Nabal. It was a haven, but when David asked to be part of a festival, Nabal denied him the privilege.

There was nothing right or fair in Nabal’s response, and David wanted to lash out in anger. He had been dishonored in front of his men; his identity and birthright had been undermined. David ordered his men to take their swords. He wanted a fight.

“If your are not careful, listening to what other people say about you may cause you to forget who you are.” (FM, p. 162)

David needed some wisdom, and a sweet widow named Abigail would be the voice God would use to deliver it. And David listened. He was silent long enough to hear the words he needed to give him perspective and wisdom. David then put his sword back in its scabbard and chose silence before Nabal. Later, David was able to accept the crown of Israel with “no case of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause” (1 Samuel 25 29-30). His silence was the wise choice.

Lisa shares so much wisdom on this subject:

“You must constantly allow God’s Word to be the only framework that defines you.” (FM, p.162)


“Far too many have been bullied into conforming or compromising for the sake of being included.” (FM, p.163)


“You must know what you are anointed to do and not be distracted from your purpose.” (FM, p.163)

As great an example as David is, Jesus is the master of silence. He was never one to remain silent when words were called for, but in those instances when He let silence reign, He spoke the loudest! And in the end, He silently stood His ground —

He wasn’t still because there was nothing He could do. He  was lifted up from the ground so that in Him, we could hold ours! (FM, p.165)

What might God want to fashion in your life through the element of silence? What battle needs to be won through your silence?

I’d love to close with Lisa’s words…words that are like a blessing. Then we’ll end in silence.

My friend, God will establish your house and watch over you as you go forth. You don’t have to figure out what needs to happen to those you perceive to be enemies. God has it all sorted out; rest in the knowledge that He alone is the righteous judge. It is time we move away from postures of self-protection. God fights for us as we fight on behalf of others. Take up a different kind of weapon — a sword called silence. (FM, pp.164-5)

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