Israel Tour Nov 22-Dec 1, 2008
The Israel tour is now history, and what a tour it was. We experienced a great “pilgrimage” through the land of the Bible. How blessed we were to share it with so many friends and fellow believers from across America and far away Australia. All who joined us displayed a hunger to learn and an appreciation of the culture, people and history of Israel.
I am so thankful for the pastors who joined with me to speak messages that mingled Bible history with contemporary practical applications for us all. I have received many expressions of gratitude for the men and their challenging messages. Thanks to each of you, the journey was so much more than just a “Holy Land Tour”, it was a spiritual banquet table within the geographic context of Israel.
Ken and Sharon Curcio did an amazing job of planning the trip and preparing us all to receive maximum benefit and pleasure from our journey.
Our Israeli guides, Motti and Ezer were first class in professionalism and experise. Their sensitivity to our groups needs, personal experience, and ability to mix serious historical lecture with humorous interludes was enjoyable to everyone. With 5-star hotels, comfortable buses, fantastic meals, and the great skill of scheduling us at sites so that by the time other crowds were arriving, we were leaving, how could it have been any better?
The picture at the right shows us with Motti on the Golan Heights overlooking the Sea of Galilee. With a cold wind blowing he told us how as a young paratrooper in the Israeli Defense Force he climbed up the steep face along with other soldiers in the 67 War as they took the Heights from Syrian Forces. When he got to the top the Syrians fled, and he found a pot of Turkish coffee still boiling on the fire. What else could he do? He enjoyed a hot cup of coffee for breakfast!
The two sites that stand out most in my mind were the Garden of Gethsemane, where Motti, in response to our request, made a return visit so we could spend nearly an hour in prayer and meditation; and the empty tomb, where we shared in the Lord’s table, and were even joined by another young lady who was not with our group. Afterward, in tears, she shared with us some of her spiritual concerns. I ask that you pray for Christy, that God will strengthen and guide her in His will.
Already I am being contacted with the question, “When will you go again?” We will need to commit this to our Lord in prayer. I am certainly agreeable to a return sometime in the future. In the meantime, I trust that all who went returned with a strengthened faith, and a renewed commitment to know and serve the Lord Jesus with greater love and zeal. We thank the many of you who were unable to go, yet prayed us through each and every day. Should we go again, may you be with us.
As we return to homes, families, jobs, and the general daily grind, we must all keep in mind that we live in momentous and challenging times. This is not a time for distraction, or despair. I encourage each of you to remember the words of Peter in his first epistle, vs.1-9. Like the recipients of his letter, we too are “chosen pilgrims of the dispersion”. We are in, but not of, this world. Remember, as he tells them in vs2, that God has placed us in history at this time according to His providential foreknowledge, with a view toward sanctification by His Spirit, resulting in obedience and sprinkling (purification) of the blood of Christ, not only for us, but also to those we are able to reach with the good news of His word. Therefore, let us always “bless (praise) God” for His mercy which gives us a “living hope” based on the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Armed with this attitude, we can rest in His perfect security (vs.4-5), and meet the trials of our age with joy, endurance, and love (vs.6-8). As we keep trusting Him daily (vs.8) we will surely experience the “end (result) of our faith” which is the deliverance of our souls (vs.9) from the despair and defeat of our times.
I will be teaching both first and second Peter in upcoming conferences. They are so relevant to our times, and filled with comfort and wisdom that we need. In the meantime, stay in the Word, and abide in Him daily.
All glory to our King,
Pastor Gene Cunningham