A Gracious Place

Sunday, May 29, 2005

On to Galilee

Well, we've passed into the second have of our trip! After our four-day tour of the southern half of the country, we circled back to Jerusalem for a restful couple of days before we embark on our northern tour (today). We're looking forward to seeing the areas Jesus spent a lot of time, around Capernaum and Galilee. Yesterday was Shabbot (Sabbath) and we had the opportunity to go to a Messianic Jewish church, called Jerusalem Assembly. It was such a joy to fellowship with other Christians, sing songs in Hebrew, and hear preaching in both Hebrew and English.

We hope all is well on the homefront!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Back to Jerusalem

Shalom ya'll!

There have been no posts the last few days because we have been without easy access to the net. We left Jerusalem on Tues. and went on a four day tour of the Western foothills, the Negev, and the Wilderness. So far we have been able to swim in the Med, the Red, and the Dead! We had a facinating time, and I have much to post, but I have little time. Since we are back in Jerusalem, I wanted to let you know that we are fine, and are having the time of our lives! More later! We love you!

Monday, May 23, 2005

From Jericho to Gezer


How can these days be so busy? We left the hotel at 7 this morning, and did not return until 7 this evening. Today we learned about the Eastern and Western approaches to Jerusalem.

So, we started the day by driving up to Jericho (following the Ascent of Adummim). Jericho was amazing. Todd showed us the Tell (the ancient remains of the city) and explained the history of the excavations there. There is evidence of mud-brick wall that dates to the time of the conquest. Next we saw a Neolithic tower, which is the oldest public archeological structure known to exist. The most exciting thing was that they found jars in the city that were full of charred grain. Todd made the point that only the conquest story can adequately account for these jars. If the Egyptians had conquered the city, they would have taken the grain. If there was a long siege, the grain would have been eaten. Only the Israelites, who were obeying orders from God would burn perfectly good grain. The Grain also fits with the time of the conquest, right after the harvest (the Israelites celebrated the Passover in April right before attacking the city). On the way out, Diedra rode a camel, and we got some cool pictures.

After Jericho, we went to the wilderness; incredibly hilly, brown, rocky, a barren place with Bedouin shepherds. We saw St. George’s Cathedral nestled in the side of the Canyon. I can’t describe how difficult this land is. I can’t believe people live here. Further, it gives me a whole new perspective to Christ’s temptation in the wilderness (those stones could really look tasty after a long time without food)!

We went to next to Michmash and Gebo. This is the scene for a great OT story of Jonathan sneak-attacking the Philistines (1 Sam 14). It was awesome to stand in this place and to read the story. We could see the cliffs Jonathan climbed with his armor-bearer: very step, very dangerous!

We had lunch in a mall in Jerusalem. Very nice, very clean, and we even had American food (double burger, fries and coke). All the signs were in Hebrew, and for the first time in my life (well, since I’ve learned to read, at least), I was dependent on those little pictures to know how to get to the bathroom!

Next we stopped in the Central Benjamin Plateau, at a scenic overlook on top of a Mosque. We could see Jerusalem, Gibeah, Ramah, Mitzpah, and Gibeon. Lots of important OT stuff happened in these places; I took some notes on the voice recorder.

We followed the Beth Horan down to the Aijalon Valley to the strategic town of Gezer, which guards the roads to Jerusalem. This ancient tell has some cool features. Up high, we could actually see the Mediterranean Sea! First, Todd showed us the tower that dates to the time of the Canaanites, then he showed us the southern gate that was probably built by Solomon (he fortified this city during his reign). Last, we saw several standing stones (think Stonehenge on a much smaller scale). These are impossible to date because they were excavated in such a poor, unscientific manner by McCallister (early 1900s). Todd postulated that they may be for pagan worship (sacred stones the Bible condemns). Exhausted we drove back to Jerusalem for a late dinner, and study session to prepare for our exam tomorrow morning. Wow, this is so intense! I hope I can remember it. We're drinking from a fire hose!



Wow! Another packed day! Todd is certainly maximizing every minute of our tour! We barely have enough time to process what we are seeing before we have to rush on to the next spot. So, we’re doing our best to take some pictures, dictate (into the voice recorder), jot a few notes, and try to remember the day enough for a journal entry when we get back to the hotel.

This morning started out with a walk around the Old City Walls. We stopped briefly at each gate, where Todd would tell us briefly about the gate, before moving on to the next one.

It really started getting interesting when we entered St. Steven’s Gate on the northeast side of the city. Here we were shown the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a lame man. The pools no longer hold water, but it was amazing to see how huge they were! Dr. Wallace gave a little talk, as he walked us through the passage, which I recorded. There is a little church in the immediate vicinity that is the second oldest church in the country, built by the Crusaders in 1100s. This church is gorgeous, an ancient stone building. We went inside, formed a circle and sang some hymns. It was so awesome! When we stopped singing, you could still here the sound of our voices for seven seconds! Kari, one of the girls on our tour, who is also a choral teacher said the longest echo in the world (for a church) is nine seconds, and this is very close! I’ve never experienced anything like it! I wish we could sing all day long! This is definitely a highlight!

We went back outside the city, and continued our walk. Now we were walking along the east side of the city, headed south. We passed through a huge graveyard before we arrived at the Eastern Gate, where some believe the Messiah will enter when he returns. Todd pointed out that the presence of the cemetery, along with the fact that the gate is sealed off, is evidence that the Moslems are doing everything they can to prevent this future event from happening. Obviously, nothing will stop King Jesus when he returns to conquer and reign! We had a uninhibited view of the Mount of Olives, and could see Gethsemane, the Church of All Nations, and a Russian Orthodox church with beautiful golden onion-domes.

Next we crossed the Kidron Valley, and started our trek up the Mount of Olives. The first stop was Gethsemane, where we got to see some ancient olive trees, which don’t date back to Christ, but where impressive none the less (some may be 1000 years old). Inside the Church of All Nations is a large flat stone, that is the traditional site of Jesus prayer in the Garden. The church was an impressive building. The sealing was covered in elaborate mosaic; stunning, and impossible to capture adequately in our pictures.

We continued up the hill, and let me tell you it is a climb! All out of breath, we made our next stop at a place called Dominus Flatis (the Lord Weeps) which commemorates the place Jesus wept over Jerusalem before the triumphant entry. We got some amazing pictures of the city, and a great lecture from Todd about the prophetic significance of the Triumphant Entry.

On up the hill! We arrived near the top for some quick pictures before getting on our tour bus for the trip down the hill, and on to Bethlehem.

Bethlehem is in an area patrolled by the Palestinians. Things take a bit longer, as the Palestinian Police will stop Todd and ask questions. We went to the Church of the Nativity to see the traditional site of the birth of Christ. This is nothing like what you’d expect if you weren’t prepared beforehand with a description. We enter the church (the oldest in the country), and go down these steps at the front into a tiny room where these shrines commemorate the place of birth and the place where the manger stood. Lots of candles, lots of religious stuff. Also in this church, we saw a statue of Jerome, who lived in Bethlehem when he studied the original languages. Jerome is important because he translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. We got an excellent talk here from Dr. Wallace explaining the significance of Jerome to the history of translation, transmission and preservation of the Scriptures.

We had an excellent lunch, consisting of pita pockets filled with meat and vegetables. The economy is poor here, which meant good prices for us. We also picked us some wood carvings (miniature manger scenes) which where rather inexpensive.

Next, we traveled through the hill country on up to the fortress city of Herodium. This was a huge fortress built by Herod the Great so that he could have a place to flee if Jerusalem was ever attacked. He also wanted to be buried there. At the base of the hill is a huge swimming pool that would have had porticos surrounding it. The Fortress was awesome. We drove halfway up, and then hiked the rest of the way. From the top we could see Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, and Tekoa (the hometown of Amos). We got to climb through the tunnels underneath the fortress, which would have been a complex system of cisterns.

After that, we went back to Jerusalem. Todd took us to an excellent tomb that dates to the first century. The tomb was prepared for Queen Helene of Adia-Baine. He gave us a lecture outside the tomb, and then we got to climb inside. There were several underground chambers that contained two different types of tombs: Chokim (sp?) and Archesole. The type of tomb Jesus would have been buried in was of the Archesole type, where there is a bench for the body, with an arch above. I laid down on one of the benches, for some pictures, however it was too dark for our camera. I’ll have to get the pictures from some of our friends who were able to take pictures.

From there we hiked over to the Garden Tomb, and Gordon’s Calvary. This is like a “rival” site to the traditional site at the Holy Sepulcher. We had a Garden Guide instead of Todd, and he tried to make the case that this is the real site of Jesus Tomb. Admittedly, this is a much more beautiful place than the Holy Sepulcher, a beautiful garden with all kinds of plants and flowers. The main problem with this site is that the tomb probably dates to the OT era, which is a big problem because the text says that Christ was laid in a tomb that would have been first century. Todd said it would have been more like the tomb we saw earlier today. The bottom line is that we don’t know where Christ was crucified and buried, but the traditional site has more going for it than this Garden Tomb.

Finally, after this intensely fun day, we headed back to our hotel for dinner. Exhausted, after dinner we had a two-hour lecture from Todd from 7-9. We’re learning so much! It’s good too, because we have our first exam on Monday.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Southern Gate and Stairway

Southern Gate
Originally uploaded by dandeelines.

Trumpet Corner

Trumpet Corner
Originally uploaded by dandeelines.

Herodian Street

Herodian Street
Originally uploaded by dandeelines.
This is the street that runs along the West side of the Temple Mount

Here's More!

There is a ton here, don't feel bad if you don't read all of it. We'll explain more when we get home, along with the pictures. But if you've got extra time, and you're still interested, here goes:


This morning started off early. The Moslems began their call to prayer at 4:00, and it got my mind going fast enough, that I had trouble sleeping after that. It’s a beautiful thing, really, a single male voice, acapella, singing in an Arabian sounding melody. Anyway, around 5:15, we got up, and decided to take a walk to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. We did fine, until we got to the Jewish Quarter, in fact we were close enough to hear the prayers, but we took a wrong turn and ended up rather deep in the Moslem quarter. A bit scary, actually, the Moslem Quarter feels a bit hostile, less clean and well, scary. I don’t know if I’m projecting these things, or if they are actual, but it feels different. Finally, and arab man led us to the Western Wall. We made it just as the sun crested over the Mount of Olives- beautiful. We read Solomon’s dedication of the Temple, an irony as we considered how his temple was destroyed as predicted in the passage.

After breakfast, we went to the Archeology Museum on the South end of the Temple Mount. We spent all morning learning about the exciting excavations of the Temple mount. A couple of videos, as well as detailed lectures from Dr. Varner, helped us understand important excavations such as the Mickvah’s for ceremonial baths, Robinson’s arch, the Herodian Street, the Trumpet Corner, and the main staircase to the Temple Mount (on the South Side). It was truly awesome to see the height from which the stones where hurled from the retaining wall on the west side of the temple Mount all the way to the street below (by the Romans in 70 AD). You can still see the charred marks on the base stones from the massive fire in the shops at the street level. Robinson’s arch is just the remains of a huge arch that probably supported a huge staircase on the southwestern end of the Temple Mount. The trumpet corner was a little nook from which a trumpeter could blow his horn on the Southwestern corner of the Mount, and could possibly be thee precipice (although, some think the corner of the Temple itself was the precipice from which the Devil tempted Christ to through himself down. The Southern steps were quite moving. Dr. Varner read about Mary and Joseph presenting Jesus to the priest, to Simeon and Anna, and we had a very moving devotional as we considered the prophetic words said over Jesus. The Southern entrances to the Mount are sealed, and we got some pictures of those.

Next, we had a tour of the Mohl Archeological Center, which is a museum of house excavations in the Jewish Quarter which date from the first century AD. Todd (our professor) pointed out the Michvahs, baths for ceremonial bathing in these houses. The rabbis taught that the Michvah had to have water from God (rain) in order to cleanse you. Since the baths needed to be large enough to immerse one’s entire body, they devised clever drainage systems to collect rain water. Since it rarely rains, the rabis said that as long as the bath contained some rain water that would count. Todd showed us pottery, andd stone water pots, and blown glass, all artifacts that help the archeologists date these excavations. The last room contained an excavation of a huge mansion, which may have been very similar to the High Priest Ciaphas house in the Gospel story. It had a large meeting room, a courtyard, and multiple rooms. This house even had a charred beam, evidence of the destruction by fire in AD 70.

Next, we went to the Burnt house exhibit. This was an interesting deal, where they have set up a movie you can watch inside this little theater. The interesting part is that the screen is actually situated over an excavated house. The movie is a reenactment of what it would have been like for a Jewish family to have gone through the time leading up to, as well as the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. It was great to help us understand several things: 1) how vital the Temple was to the Jews, the symbol of the nation, 2) how completely devastating was the destruction accomplished by the Romans, 3) how the Jewish Revolt would have divided the Jewish community, even father against son. The movie was based as closely as possible to the evidence found in the excavation. The family name, the trade (base on an excavated workshop), the violence (spear, amputated arm). Very good teaching tool to help us link the history to the excavations.

Lunch was probably the best meal we’ve had thus far. We ate at the Korner Kafe in the Jewish Quarter. A more upscale place, the food was awesome! We had salmon, rice, a salad with cucumber, and tomato, a corn salad, and fresh pita bread. The view was fantastic, on the second floor we had a clear view of the Temple Mount. Interestingly, since it was Friday, the Moslem holy day, we could actually see them praying (and prostrating) toward the South (toward Mecca) outside the Aqsa Mosque.

After Lunch we went out the Zion Gate to see the traditional holy sites of David’s tomb and the Upper room. Todd gave a fascinating lecture (I took notes in the Paper Journal). The main jist is that the tomb is not really David’s since that was most likely located in the City of David on the eastern hill. The upper room, however has a stronger tradition. Now, while we know that this existing upper room is late, Todd made a good case for seeing the upper room to be “in this same airspace” ie very close to this site. This would probably be the upper room Jesus shared the Last Supper with his disciples, as well as the room in which the early church waited the coming of the Holy Spirit. The lecture was excellent. We read the story of the foot washing as we sat on the floor in this upper room. Incidentally we did take a picture of a column (probably Byzantine), the head of which depicts baby birds feeding on the mother. This is a rare, symbol that dates early, a symbol used by the church to picture Christ’s sacrificial death.

Next, we went to the Hinnon valley and talked about that being a place where it was likely that they preformed child sacrifices. By Jesus’ day it is a metaphor for Hell. Incidentally, we saw a small fire break out in the valley as we talked about this. We all took pictures. ☺

After a brief review, we were free. Since the Sabbath stars Fri evening, most stuff closes early. A group of us (Dr. Wallace, Kari, Brian and Erika, Todd, Jerry, Diedra and I went across the street, past the King David Hotel to the most beautiful YMCA you’ve ever seen. It has a high tower, which we paid a small fee (five shekels/person) to go to the top. From the top, we got a great western view of the city.

Once back on the ground, we visited King Herods garden, where he supposedly made tombs for his family members. The cool thing, was that there was a rolling stone tomb there, which are more rare. We got some good pics before heading back for dinner. After dinner, we had map work to do (Homework!). Then we went to bed, exhausted, but we had an awesome day.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Brave Diedra and Hezekiah's Tunnel

Originally uploaded by dandeelines.

Dome of the Rock

Originally uploaded by dandeelines.


5/18/05 (Continued)

From 10am until 6pm, we spent hiking the Old City of Jerusalem. This was a general orientation. Todd (our tour guide) took us to the top of a Hostel where we had an incredible view of the Temple Mount (includes the Dome of the Rock) and the Mount of Olives beyond.

Then we went to the Jewish quarter, where Todd showed us the Cado, which is an ancient road built by the Romans after they destroyed the city. After that, we had a pizza lunch, and then went to the Temple Mount. We had to go through a security checkpoint in order to get into the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall), and then we had to go through a second security checkpoint in order to go onto the Temple Mount. This is because the Moslems control the Mount (this is where the Dome of the Rock is located). They searched our bags, confiscated our Bibles (temporarily) and put us through a metal detector. It took us 45 minutes to get through security, and then we only had about 20 minutes to see the Mount. This was an incredible time, as this floor is the same floor that Jesus would have walked on with his disciples. The Dome of the Rock stands where the Temple used to stand, and it’s a huge, very ornate structure.

Next we went to see the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is very likely the site of Jesus crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. It is common for people to build churches over the holy sites. This church is extremely ornate, with the rock of the crucifixion encased in a glass floor. There are candles, and incense everywhere. There were lots of Greek Orthodox people worshipping, burning candles, etc. Fascinating.

Next, we walked a portion of the traditional Via Dolorosa, and ended at a shop that would exchange our money for a good rate. A busy day, but a wonderful day.


Today we spent the whole day, from 8am-5:30pm touring. The first half of the day we spent on an Old Testament tour. First, we went to a civic center that had a giant topographical map. Here, our guide walked us through the OT history of Jerusalem from Abraham and Melchizedek to the Conquest, to David and Solomon, to Hezekiah, to the Exile. This was really awesome, because it helped us see how important the geography of the city is to its history. Todd explained how the walls of the city changed over time. After his lecture, he showed us an excavated portion of Hezekiah’s wall.

Then we went to the City of David, which is the southern portion of the Eastern Hill of Jerusalem. Here, He showed us several archeological excavations, and then took us to Hezekiah’s tunnel. This was so cool, I can hardly explain it! First we saw the water shaft that the Jebusites used in the time of David; through which Joab may have climbed through when they conquered the city. Then, we continued through this cave until we came to Hezekiah’s tunnel. This thing is a tunnel, chiseled out of the rock about ¾ mile long that takes water from the Gehan Spring on the eastern side of the city to the pool of Siloam on the Western side of the city. It takes a half hour to walk through. It’s crazy to think that people carved this tunnel out of sheer rock in 700 B.C.! How did they do it?! More amazing, they had two crews that worked from both ends and met in the middle! The tunnel is very narrow, wide enough to walk single file. The ceiling is quite low in some places, and the water comes up to your knees. There are no lights, so you have to use a flashlight. This walk was not for claustrophobics! I was so proud of Diedra! She was very nervous at first, but she did awesome! (I was okay because I and several other confessing claustrophobics were in the very back…so we didn’t feel so trapped. If one of us had to go back we were all going back…it was great bonding time:o))

When we exited the tunnel, we got to see the newly discovered Siloam pool, which is currently being uncovered by archeologists. Then we had lunch, and got on a tour bus for a half-hour trip to a place that has a 1/50 model of Jerusalem in 65 A.D. (about 30 years after the death of Christ. This was fascinating. The difficulty with touring Jerusalem now, is that it is very different than it was when Jesus walked it. This model, however is very close to what Jesus experienced during his time here. Our guide walked us through the important sites. The Model of the temple was really cool. It gives you an idea of how massive it was before the Romans destroyed it. I thought the Dome of the Rock was huge; apparently, it would have been dwarfed by the Temple!

We got back to our hotel exhausted, and reeking of sweat! The shower felt soooo good! We went to dinner, and enjoyed another awesome meal, that is hard to describe. Lots of salads, beef, chicken, pasta, rice, and vegetables. Every meal there is plenty of pita bread, which is delicious. We’re tired, and looking forward to a good sleep tonight. Tomorrow is another full day, this time a New Testament walk.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

So Far, Awesome!

Here's my Journal so far: I hope ya'll can get a taste of our experience so far! We miss you and love you!



Well, it’s noon, and Uncle Dan and Aunt Rose just dropped us off at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport about half-an-hour ago. We’re flying on Lufthansa, and our flight does not leave until 3:25 this afternoon. Since this cool mac has wireless capabilities, I’m able to hop on the web, and post real quick. Hopefully we’ll have access in Israel so we can keep ya’ll updated. We had a wonderful weekend with Uncle Dan and Aunt Rose, had lots of Indian food, and they helped us finish up our packing. It was great to have some veteran world travelers to help us get ready. I guess that’s all for now.

On the plane, fairly comfie, nice blanket and pillow, headphones. This plane even has wireless internet capabilities, but it cost $30 to use it for the whole flight, and $10, for 30 minutes. That’s pretty steep, I think I’ll wait for a free hookup.


Well, it’s morning, at least here in Europe. Our clocks still read midnight, however, it’s 7:00 am here, and they just served us breakfast. Sleeping proved to be pretty difficult, even with Ambien. We may have gotten 2-3 hours tops, and that was fitful. Lot’s of kiddos on the plane, who are fun to watch, however, when they are unhappy, they can make a ton of noise. Dinner last night was good, they gave us a choice of chicken or pasta. Diedra got chicken, I got pasta. They come around regularly and offer you drinks, which is good, because it seems pretty dry on the plane, and easy to become dehydrated. I’ve only had to go to the bathroom once during this entire 9 1/2 hour flight. Breakfast hit the spot; eggs, roasted tomato, tater-tots, fresh fruit (which Diedra especially liked), coffee, juice, a roll with jelly. We have a little less than an hour before we land in Frankfurt, Germany where we will have a couple hour layover, then another flight to Tel Aviv.

1030- We’re flying out of Frankfurt on a 747 for Tel Aviv. These planes are amazing! Huge! A wonder that they can get off the ground! Frankfurt airport was a labyrinth. Security was tight, we went through two different checkpoints with xrays, metal detectors, and we were patted down. I was pulled out of line, while they checked my camera for some reason they did not devulge. Everyone was very polite, however, and I’m thankful for the security. We’re awfully sleepy. Diedra’s trying to stay awake with jokes and puzzles from Reader’s Digest. I’m journaling. This flight spans 1830 miles and is scheduled to take about three hours.


It’s 6:15 and I slept awesome! Praise God! The beds are very comfortable. This hotel surpasses my expectations. We are nestled in the Old City of Jerusalem. The streets are so narrow, that vehicle access is quite limited. Our bus had to drop us off about a block away, and we hiked in to our hotel. The hotel looks like a hole in the wall from the outside (see photo), but once you enter the building, it opens up into a quite lovely edifice, very clean. Our room is large, with two twin beds pushed together under one King-size headboard. We have a private bathroom with a shower. There is a desk, two dressers, a wardrobe, two night stands and a chair. This room even has a television. There is no air conditioning, but it stays pretty cool in our room and the temps are only in the 80s. Although it does feel much warmer standing in the sun. The floors are tile and the sounds are beautiful; church bells and birds singing. We have a window, through which we can see a small courtyard, and the Old City in the background.

Once we checked in, we had about ½ hour to get ready for dinner. Dinner was a fabulous buffet of interesting food. There were a variety of salads to choose, fresh olives (black and green), fresh fruit, meatballs, chicken, potatoes, cabbage, pickled eggplant, and delicious pita bread. For desert- éclairs! Delicious!

After dinner we took advantage of an optional walk around the Old City. Our guide just briefly helped us get our bearings by showing us around for about 1 ½ hours. We got to see the Dome of the Rock from a distance, the Mt of Olives, and the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. After an incredible distance view of these sites, we hiked down to the Western Wall. We passed a security checkpoint, and then entered the Wall vicinity, men on the right, women on the left. There were many Jews there, in full garb, praying before the wall. Some asked us where we were from, but had little to say once they discovered we were Christians. Facinating to finally see these places that I’ve read so much about, seen in pictures, and on television. I’m amazed at the history in front of our faces.

The Old City (the ancient part of Jerusalem, wherein all the holy sites are located) is Amazing. In just a couple square miles, Arabs, Jews, Christians, and Armineans share this place (each has one quarter). The buildings are all stone, and the streets are very narrow. There are lots of vendors selling all kinds of artifacts. The ground is not level, lots of climbing and descending streets or stairs.

Today is a full day, starting with breakfast, a two-hour lecture, and the rest of the day spent hiking the Old City, until dinner.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Three More Days

Until we leave for Israel. This week has been a blur of preparations. Saturday we went to Frye’s Electronics and picked up some essentials like rechargeable batteries, a memory card for the camera, a digital voice recorder, and Napoleon Dynamite. Monday I had a dental apt and an eye exam. Wednesday I had another eye exam, this time they dilated my eyes, rendering me incompetent for the rest of the morning (I went to bed). Since we won’t have access to laundry facilities (other than the bathroom sink) we both had to buy extra clothes for this 24-day adventure. Yesterday we spent some time in Good Will looking for cheap clothes. Altogether we purchased ten shirts and five pairs of shorts for $60. The voltage adapters and plug adapters arrived in the mail. Today I need to pick up our prescriptions for sleep aids to help with jetlag. Thankfully, it’s been a fairly light week at work, so I’ve had time to do the pre-Israel bookwork required for the class. We have to read Beitzel, The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands and complete an eighty-eight item study guide. The reading is fascinating, and I’m getting really excited about the trip! My Aunt and Uncle arrive this evening from Indiana. They’ll be house sitting for us as Aunt Rose takes a class at that other seminary in Fort Worth. We can’t wait to see them! Well, I guess it’s time to start packing. Peace out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The First Step

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.
If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.

Monday, May 09, 2005


I love it when I come across a singer/songwriter/artist who is doing theology well. I think my all-time favorite is still Rich Mullins, however of those living currently, Derek Webb is doing an excellent job. His first solo album, She Must and Shall Go Free is loaded with themes such as total depravity, soteriology, sanctification, and especially ecclesiology. His honesty is refreshing.

The Church

I have come with one purpose
To capture for myself a bride
By my life she is lovely
And by my death she's justified

I have always been her husband
Though many lovers she has known
So with water I will wash her
And by my word alone
So when you hear the sound of the water
You will know that you're not alone

Cause I haven't come for only you
But for my people to pursue
And you cannot care for me with no regard for her
If you love me you will love the church

I have long pursued her
As a harlot and a whore
But she will feast upon me
She will drink and thirst no more
So when you taste my flesh and my blood
You will know that you're not alone

Cause I haven't come for only you
But for my people to pursue
And you cannot care for me with no regard for her
If you love me you will love the church

There is none that can replace her
There are many who will try
And though some may be her Bridesmaids
They can never be my bride

Cause I haven't come for only you
But for my people to pursue
And you cannot care for me with no regard for her
If you love me you will love the church

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Originally uploaded by dandeelines.
Happy Mother's Day! Thanks so much for everything. I love you, Dan.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Whoo Hoo!

We are rejoicing over and praising God for another completed semester! The last six weeks have been a marathon, and we’re exhausted. Thanks to everyone who was praying! Now, just a little over a week to get ready for our big trip to Israel…very exciting! Your continued prayers are much appreciated. If you have not received an itinerary, and would like one, let us know and we can email that to you. We’re not sure whether or not we’ll be able to post in Israel, so if there is three-and-a-half-week pause, it’s because we don’t have reasonable access. One way or another, I’d like to post a travel log, but it may have to wait until we get back.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


This post is dedicated to my wife Diedra, my best friend. Last night I got home from work around 11:30, and she was fast asleep. But she always leaves my P.J.s with a note expressing her love. Last night it was a simple little word, SHMILY!

SHMILY (By: Laura Jeanne Allen, the granddaughter of Alice and Anthony McAndrews of Rochester, NY)

My grandparents were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word "SHMILY" in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving "SHMILY" around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.

They dragged "SHMILY" with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where my grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding with blue food coloring. "SHMILY" was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave "SHMILY" on the very last sheet.

There was no end to the places "SHMILY" would pop up. Little notes with "SHMILY" scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. "SHMILY" was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents' house as the furniture.

It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents' game. Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love -- one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents' relationship. They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection which not everyone is lucky enough to experience.

Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other's sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble. My grandmother whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was, how handsome and old he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew "how to pick 'em."

Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune, and each other.

But there was a dark cloud in my grandparents' life: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared in years earlier.

As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside.

Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my grandfather's steady hand, they went to church every morning.

But my grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore. For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone.

"SHMILY." It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandmother's funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time. Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother's casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby.

Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew that, although I couldn't begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.

S-h-m-i-l-y: See How Much I Love You.

Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for letting me see.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Brave Reflectors

Gerber Daisy
Originally uploaded by dandeelines.
I love flowers because they are so beautiful, coming in thousands of different varieties, and yet they are so fragile, so temporal. They blossom, flourish bravely for a few days, and then fade away. I love how they stand, without retreating to face a downpour of heavy rain, which often pummels them into oblivion. They stand there, reflecting the glory of their creator without apology, until they return to dust. Lord, help me be a brave reflector!