Each Sunday, your child will learn the Bible and how it relates to Jesus in an age-appropriate way.
Today I want to take you to the Sea of Galilee. Most of Jesus’ three year ministry took place around the Sea of Galilee. When I say, “sea,” you shouldn’t think “ocean.” The two share nothing in common. For one, the Sea of Galilee is fresh water. At 700 feet below sea level, it is the lowest fresh water body of water in the world. Secondly, it is more like a lake than an ocean. The Sea of Galilee is seven miles wide and thirteen miles long. The Sea of Galilee is fed by the Jordan River which begins in the far north of Israel near Tel Dan, another place we visited while we were in Israel. In Jesus’ day the Jordan flowed into and out of the Sea of Galilee. Many years ago the the Israelis stopped the flow of water out of the Sea of Galilee because it was their main source of water for the nation. Today, the Israelis have mastered the process of desalination, removing salt from saltwater to make it usable, so the waters of the Sea of Galilee provide only about 10% of the nation’s water today. Read more
We’re back from our trip to Israel and Jordan. I have to tell you that it was a life-changing trip for all of us. You have to walk around Israel and Jordan with a Bible in one hand because so many of the events of the Bible took place right there in the land. I want to take a couple of weeks to share some of what we learned with all of you.
Our very first stop was a seaside city called Caesarea. Caesarea is an ancient city that dates back to the 5th century B.C. The Romans had taken control of Caesarea in the year 6 A.D. and the city became the capital of the province of Judea for the next 500 years. It also became the headquarters for the Roman fighting forces stationed in Judea. The city really took off after the Roman Emperor Augustus gave the city to King Herod in 30 B.C. Herod was a master architect and his building projects in Caesarea were nothing short of spectacular. Two of Herod’s building projects that led to Caesarea becoming such an important city was the building of a huge harbor covering 40 acres and able to handle 300 ships and the building of aqueducts to bring fresh water into the city. Before the time of Herod Caesarea had no fresh water, but Herod solved the problem by building two aqueducts from the southern slopes of Mount Carmel into the city, a distance of ten miles. You can still see remains of the aqueducts today. Read more
What a blessing it has been to spend the last four weeks taking a look at Isaiah 9. I hope you have been blessed and that all of us have come to better understand the One who was born as a Child, given as a Son, and is called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.” Isaiah delivered the promise of the coming One to those who were distressed, suffering anxiety about their enemies who were plotting and planning their demise, and who would face even more difficult days in the future. The atmosphere was thick with tension and fear and yet the prophet of God stood up and spoke, “Thus saith the Lord…” Listen once again to his comforting words of reassurance that God has not, nor will He ever, forget and abandon His people. Isaiah writes,
1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan– 2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:1-7 NIV)
I love memories! I love collecting experiences like a stamp collector proudly fills sleeve after sleeve with his little inch-by-inch treasures. I can go through the hallways of my mind and see snapshots of the treasures God has allowed me to experience throughout my life. I can think of memories from the past year all the way back to when I was a little kid. Some of my fondest memories of my childhood were spending Christmas with my family. We would always spend Christmas morning at our house enjoying all of the toys that Santa had left while we were sleeping, but then we would load up the station wagon (did you ever have one of those?), and head to Wynnewood where we would spend the day with my grandparents. I don’t remember the gifts my grandparents gave me as much as I remember spending time with them. Read more
There are few things as constant as change. Have you thought about it? Take just a moment and think about what has changed since last Christmas in your life. Some of us are working different jobs than we were working at this time last year and some of us are out of a job this Christmas. For some of us, we have had a child leave home that was living with us last Christmas. I have friends who were married last Christmas, but who are now divorced. I have other friends who were not married at this time last year, but now they are married. There are couples who have welcomed children into their homes during the past twelve months. I know of other people who have attended a funeral for one of their kids since last Christmas. There are folks among us who will struggle through this Christmas celebration as loved ones are now absent who were such a strong and comforting presence last Christmas.
For those of you who are thinking about how your life has changed during the past year and you really can’t come up with any big changes–give thanks. If you are still employed—give thanks. If you are still married—give thanks. If you haven’t attended the funeral of loved ones—give thanks. If you are still experiencing good health—give thanks. If life is good right now then enjoy the moment for it will not last forever. Read more