My Visit to Israel (Part 7)

This is the seventh part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.

We started off the morning with a great breakfast at the Inbal hotel, then packed up our bags and headed to Bethlehem for our final day of shooting video. Since our Jewish guide and van driver were observing Shabbat, we connected up with a Christian guide and his friend, a Muslim driver.



The Garden of Gethsemane is a heavily visited location, so we knew that we would have to capture video for that spot in a different place. This olive grove outside of Bethlehem was the perfect location for some peaceful footage.


This little boy got some candy from our thoughtful Campus Pastor, Mike Baker.


Beautiful almond tree in bloom in the middle of the olive grove.

Once shooting was done, we drove to the Shepherd’s Fields where the angels brought the message of the birth of the Messiah, Jesus, to the shepherds. Unfortunately, like many places, our large tripod bags called a little too much attention to ourselves, and we were turned out when we didn’t have express permission to shoot video in that location.


So we headed into Bethlehem, the city of Jesus’ birth, and as we scouted out a nativity-looking location, we went ahead and shot a video overlooking the city.

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My Visit to Israel (Part 5)

This is the fifth part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.


Another delicious breakfast in Efrat where we stayed.

After breakfast, we headed east towards the Jordan River. On the way, we passed through the desert, and as we drove through this area, we could see Bedouins and their camels.

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We passed by the modern city of Jericho as we neared the Jordan River.


This area is built up to accommodate the large number of visitors that come to this site each day. The Jordan River plays a significant part in several Bible events such as the Israelites passing over the Jordan with the Arc of the Covenant, Elijah being taken up to heaven, John the Baptist’s ministry, and the baptism of Jesus. Biblical mentions of the Jodan River >>


Setting up for a video shoot at the Jordan River. The ropes denote the border between Israel and Jordan.


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My Visit to Israel (Part 4)

This is the fourth part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.


The city of Jerusalem sits between the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion. Here we are standing on the Mount of Olives and looking down on the city of Jerusalem. All the small boxes in the foreground make up a cemetery.


This valley is called the Kidron Valley, and the small strip of green in the valley on the right is Gethsemane, the garden where Jesus and his disciples were praying on the night of Jesus’ arrest. On the left of the city, the area outside the wall is where the City of David once stood.


The Campus Pastors at the Mount of Olives.

Video panorama from the Mount of Olives.

From the Mount of Olives, we went back into Jerusalem into the Muslim Quarter and the Via Dolorosa, the path which in Latin mean “Way of Sorrow”. This passageway has been held to be the path that Jesus walked with His cross before his crucifixion.

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My Visit to Israel (Part 2)

This is the second part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.

Next up was the ruins of the city of Capernaum (map) on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. This is the town where several New Testament stories take place, my favorite of which is the story of the four guys who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus by digging a hole in the roof. In my photos you’ll notice a very modern (spaceship-looking) Catholic church structure that was built over the ruins that some believe was the home of Saint Peter. Biblical mentions of the town of Capernaum >>



The ruins of the ancient city of Capernaum.

Quick video panorama of the area.


The Catholic church building built over the ruins of the tiny room that might have been Peter’s house.


The tiny house under the Catholic church building.


Fish-eye view from the inside of the Catholic church. You can see Peter’s house through the window in the bottom of the church building.

Here in Capernaum there is also the rebuilt ruins of a Jewish synagogue (the white structure). The Bible mentions Jesus teaching in this synagogue at the beginning of his ministry and that the people who heard him were amazed by his teaching.

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My Visit to Israel (Part 1)

It’s been several weeks since I joined several other pastors from Faith Promise on a trip to Israel. Our time consisted primarily of visiting locations to film for our upcoming Easter series, but it also afforded us some time to visit a few locations not included on film. As the time since the trip continues to increase, I’ve finally set out to jot a few notes to accompany the huge number of photos I took in an attempt to share the details of the trip with those who are interested.

For those unfamiliar with the geography of Israel, the land where a huge portion of the Bible is located, it can be a bit overwhelming at first, but just understanding the location of the major bodies of water in the area has been very helpful to me and will make your reading of Scripture much less irritating.


Israel is just northeast of Egypt, is about the size of New Hampshire, and is mostly contained between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. I’ve linked the map above to the location in Google Maps, so you can look around and zoom in, if you’d like.

We flew into Tel Aviv, the city that is in the location of the biblical town of Joppa, well know for being the port town from which Solomon’s cedar logs for building his palace and the first Jewish Temple were received. It’s also the town where Peter was staying when he had his vision of the animals descending in a sheet. Biblical mentions of Joppa >>



From there, we drove north and east to the west coast of the Sea of Galilee in the town of Tiberias (map). The sun had already set when we arrived, but a few of us walked around the area of the nearby boardwalk. This is the place we slept there for our first night. I remember being particularly touched with the thought that this ocean at night was a common location for Jesus and his disciples, and the event of Jesus calming the storm was specifically on my mind. Biblical mentions of Tiberias >>

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My Very Expensive Boat Ride (How I Killed My iPhone)

I’m currently near the end of a week-long vacation with my wife and kids at Fripp Island, off the coast of South Carolina.  We visited here last Christmas, and from that visit we hoped to come back and try out the beach in the summertime.  It’s been a fantastic vacation – the island is a nature preserve, and we’ve frequently seen deer, racoons, and even alligators (one was over 6 feet long) in close proximity to the house where we’re staying.

Yesterday we decided to rent a 17′ Carolina Skiff to navigate the marshes and make our way out to an uninhabited island to look for shells.  This was pretty adventurous for us, since I’ve never driven a motorized boat by myself, our destination was an hour away from the marina at full throttle, and Keri and my shared lack of navigational sense.  There was a sense of anticipation and excitement – even from the kids.

Without a doubt, the boat ride was a highlight of the trip, especially since we came across several groups of dolphins swimming near our boat.  It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

Then, in the middle of our beautiful and adventurous day, I did a very silly thing.  I put my iPhone into my swimsuit pocket to have it ready for taking photos.  I knew when I did it that it was a bad idea, but I did it anyway.

Just for the record, you should never put a cell phone in your swimsuit pocket.  The odds are against you.

When we found the island beach we were looking for, I jumped out of the boat to carry the kids to shore and keep the boat pushed out far enough that it didn’t get stuck with the falling tide.  It wasn’t till about 20 minutes later, when we were all back in the boat, that I reached for my iPhone and realized that I had created a very expensive paperweight and an even more expensive boat ride.

Concluding Thoughts:

  1. Even with the submersion and death of my iPhone, it was still worth the great memory my family created on the ocean yesterday.  There was much more to the story, including Keri having to drive the boat at a moment’s notice two different times and my 4-year-old daughter simultaneously screaming at her that she couldn’t do it.
  2. Just before the boat ride, I emailed a few photos to my email account so that I’d have them for a blog post.  Otherwise, I would have lost most of our photos from the trip.
  3. I miss my iPhone tremendously.  It’s been less than 24 hours, but any time I think about needing a map, checking email, or taking a photo, my heart is stabbed with grief.
  4. Rumor has it that the new iPhone will be announced in just a few days.  Perfect timing!
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The Great Wall (part one)

Group Photo at the Great Wall

One of the most anticipated parts of our trip was a visit to the Great Wall.  Rather than going to the area most frequently visited in Beijing, we drove out to a part of the Wall that includes a ski-lift style gondola to get to the Wall and a toboggan slide to get back down.  The view was amazing, and the slide was a lot of fun too.

I thought I filmed my ride down, but I must have accidentally turned off the video.  So, while the video below isn’t mine, it’s a close approximation compared to most of the others I viewed.

I’ll post more photos of the Great Wall tomorrow.

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