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Shabat Elevator

1 BC Bethlehem was located at top of hill on right
One of the most illuminating things I learned in Israel had to do with the world’s most celebrated holiday. We all know the story. While living in Nazareth, link
Joseph and Mary are engaged to be married. Mary has a visit from Gabriel the angel with the message that she is going to have God’s child and she, treat
being the good Jew that she is, complies. Naturally, Joseph thinks this is a little crazy and decides to divorce her (Matthew 1:19) until he, too, has a visit from an angel. Side note – though they weren’t officially married, culturally during this time, their engagement arrangement was just as binding. Matthew 1:24 says “When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her…” The Bible is unclear as to where the marriage ceremony occurred, but my extremely amateur theory is that they got married and traveled to Nazareth early in Mary’s pregnancy so that Joseph could avoid disgracing her publicly (Matthew 1:19). It doesn’t say how long they are there, but “while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.” (Luke 2:6) They could have been there for a few days or a few months, but it wasn’t likely that they rolled into town on a donkey and immediately had the baby.

We all know Jesus was born and placed in a manger. However, this manger that I have always seen depicted as a little stable outside of town is absolutely not where a 1st century manger would have been. Instead, we find the place where the “Word became flesh” (John 1:14) in a cave! The cave was either at the back of or underneath a house, but definitely connected to a home.

Nativity Cave, photo by Bill/Karen Gadol

Here is the big kicker – Luke 2:7 tells us that there wasn’t room in the inn. The original Greek translation of the word “inn” actually means guest chamber. Because Joseph was from the line of David, he had extended family in Bethlehem (they don’t call it the City of David for nothing) and it is almost certain that Mary and Joseph were staying in a guest chamber in their home – as in a guest room, spare bedroom, etc. Childbirth was one of the most dangerous procedures for this time period. It is most likely that Mary had family and some type of midwife present at the time of delivery, which is probably why there wasn’t enough space in the spare bedroom to deliver.
I have always pictured a brave 13 year old Mary (with no epidural!) delivering her child in a cold barn way outside of town with no one there to help.

A lot of women, myself most guilty of all, think that we can do everything on our own so the awareness that Mary most likely had help during delivery is quite liberating for me. The way I have always imagined the nativity story has been changed forever and I think I’ll try to be a little less superwoman because of it.

Another quick sidenote about the Nativity story. You remember the angel and heavenly host of angels that appeared to the shepherds to tell them that their savior was born (Luke 2:8-14)? I’d always pictured them having to travel some kind of a distance and really seeking to find baby Jesus lying in a manger. They were actually right down the hill, just outside of Bethlehem (I’m talking closer than Starbucks to Seacoast kind of distance here). These were also the same fields where David would have shepherded! And, to find out where a baby had been born in a town of 500 would not have been very difficult… especially with the echoing sounds that must have been coming from the cave.

Shepherds Field just outside Bethlehem, 1st Century Bethlehem was at top of hill to right

 

 
While in Israel, ask
we were blessed to experience a Shabbat, approved
the Jewish Sabbath. From sundown on Friday night until sundown on Saturday night, Jewish people observe the Sabbath, keeping God’s commandment of resting on the seventh day of the week (Exodus 20:8). We were staying in Tiberius by the Sea of Galilee on Friday night when the entire town shut down. Thankfully, the hotel restaurant was still open for dinner (all food had been prepared prior to sundown), but one of the elevators appeared to be broken as it stopped on each floor. We came to find out that this elevator was programmed this way so that NO ONE WOULD EVEN HAVE TO PRESS A BUTTON! Most of us would consider using an elevator the minimum amount of work possible. This baffled me at first, but then I realized that it actually forces a slowing of pace.
At dinner, we overheard Jewish families singing and praying together. The coolest part of the night for me and my husband was seeing a bunch of families, all ages, hanging out together, playing games and talking after dinner. There was not a cell phone, iPad, TV or computer in sight. And they were having so much fun! You could just sense the joy and unity in the room. The families were interacting with one another and even included a handful of us Gentiles on their fun. When we went out Saturday night, the stores opened back up and people seemed to be energized and ready to begin a new week.

I came to find out through our Israeli guide that Shabat literally means to stop. In six days God created the heavens and the earth and on the seventh day He stopped creating. Jews, following that routine, do not create anything new on Shabat (thus the reason for no technology – not even turning on lights!). In the Hebrew week, the day starts with evening. Each description of a day of creation ends with the words “and there was evening, and there was morning” which is why they start with evening.

The point of the day is to focus on God, slow down, relax, recharge, and spend time with family. You try to enjoy every moment you have been given and engage all five senses. Some people would say that not pressing an elevator button is a little extreme or even legalistic. While the slowness of the elevator kind of annoyed me at first, I grew to really appreciate the purposefulness that they put into keeping God’s commandments.

Jesus did not “come to abolish the Law” and I am excited about experimenting with some of the Shabat customs and making our Sabbath more meaningful. Though I can’t expect the entire city of Charleston to shut down, for 24 hours I can turn off my electronic devices to better connect with God and be more purposeful about engaging with others.

Lion’s Gate

The story would have played out differently if it had been anywhere else. Known as the land between, click
Israel is a land bridge and crossroads. In the 1st century, sovaldi
whoever controlled the nation of Israel controlled the world. Genesis 15:18 tells us the Lord made a covenant with Abram, surgeon
saying, “I give this land to your offspring, from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates River.” God brought Abraham to the crossroads to spread the universal message of love and redemption. The country is divided into four major areas that were roadways – coastal, hill country, Rift Valley and Transjordan. When Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission, it wouldn’t have spread in the way that it did if it had been anywhere else in the world. We are the recipients of this message and for that reason alone, I should have greatly appreciated the land of Israel. However, it wasn’t until I was able to see the land with my own eyes and realize the colossal impact that occurs because of the events that happened within such a small span of terrain. The country was incredibly different than I had imagined and it is now much easier for me to see why the Lord chose it! The plush green grass on rolling hills, sparkling sea, winding rivers, towering mountains and gleaming desert are just a few of the wonderful scenes I was able to take in along our journey around the small country.

Standing at the top of Mt. Carmel, eyes spanning over mountains and valleys, the setting of countless Bible stories, my husband brought up the truth that God uses the small to do great things. We see that played out in the story of David and Goliath, a baby born in a cave and fisherman disciples, but to see the vast impact of stories that occurred in such a small space was awe-inspiring. Using unlikely people and situations is a great way for Him to get all the glory. Remember Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose.

View from Mt. Carmel

to•pog•ra•phy: noun the art or practice of graphic delineation… to show their relative positions and elevations (Merriam-Webster)

Before the beginning of the world, God designed a plan for you. You live where you live and He has positioned you in your current season of life and within your current relationships for a reason. Mine is a story of a girl gone astray, redeemed by the One who was and is and is to come. Elevate God in your life and He will use the positions of your past, present and future to make an impact on generations to come.
One of the most popular entrances to the Old City of Jerusalem is through the Lion’s Gate. It is the closest entrance to the Muslim quarter, site
Church of St. Anne (Mary’s mother), pilule pools of Bethsida and the start of the modern day Via Dolorosa. Carved lions decorate the outer walls at the entrance. Legend says that Sulieman the Magnificent, pharmacist
a Turkish Sultan, had a dream that there were lions surrounding the city and heard a Voice saying, “Why have you left My city unprotected?” Sulieman ordered that the walls be constructed around 1536. The walls were completed in 1541 and encircle the Old City today.

Lion's Gate, picture from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LionsGate_Jerusalem.JPG

The story about Sulieman’s dream was casually mentioned by our guide as we entered through the gate. I was floored at the idea that this guy had a dream, believed he heard from God and acted upon it to the degree that we know about it almost half a millennium later. A phrase commonly used in our church is What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? Oftentimes we get the part about what God is saying, but forget to do something about it. This story about Sulieman’s dream made me question, when I think God is speaking, at what lengths do I go to obey? I’m sure that building a city wall took extensive amounts of planning, time and resources. However, the wall left more than a barrier of protection, it left a legacy for future generations and a reminder to follow the leading of the Lord.
On a simpler level, in our home the words “Listen and obey,” are often used as a reminder for our young children. How seriously do we, as God’s children, take His commands? Even if God isn’t speaking to you through dreams or with an audible voice, what about obeying what is written in the Bible? Jesus greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God (Luke 10:27). 1 John 2:5 says “those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.” So obeying His word is how we show we love God. I will be the first to confess that there is a lot of scripture that I know that I don’t necessarily obey. What if we just started with focusing on one thing that the Lord asks us to do? Like caring for widows and orphans (James 1:27), keeping the Sabbath Holy (Deut 5:13), respecting our husbands (Eph 5:33), loving our neighbors (Matt 22:39)… I want to challenge you (and myself!) to go out of your way this week, spend money, use resources, take time, etc., to put into practice just one thing that you know is the Lord’s will.
Regardless of the validity of the legend of Sulieman’s dream, to me, the lions carved in the gate are a symbol of the wall being erected for the glory of God, for the protection of His Holy City. Let the stamp of the Holy Spirit mark all that you do. When we obey His commands, let’s do it for God’s glory, to make Him known, not just for the sake of a good deed.

Lost in Translation

on the Sea of Galilee
One of the most illuminating things I learned in Israel had to do with the world’s most celebrated holiday. We all know the story. While living in Nazareth, this
Joseph and Mary are engaged to be married. Mary has a visit from Gabriel the angel with the message that she is going to have God’s child and she, seek
being the good Jew that she is, complies. Naturally, Joseph thinks this is a little crazy and decides to divorce her (Matthew 1:19) until he, too, has a visit from an angel. Side note – though they weren’t officially married, culturally during this time, their engagement arrangement was just as binding. Matthew 1:24 says “When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her…” The Bible is unclear as to where the marriage ceremony occurred, but my extremely amateur theory is that they got married and traveled to Nazareth early in Mary’s pregnancy so that Joseph could avoid disgracing her publicly (Matthew 1:19). It doesn’t say how long they are there, but “while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.” (Luke 2:6) They could have been there for a few days or a few months, but it wasn’t likely that they rolled into town on a donkey and immediately had the baby.

We all know Jesus was born and placed in a manger. However, this manger that I have always seen depicted as a little stable outside of town is absolutely not where a 1st century manger would have been. Instead, we find the place where the “Word became flesh” (John 1:14) in a cave! The cave was either at the back of or underneath a house, but definitely connected to a home.

Nativity Cave, photo by Bill/Karen Gadol

Here is the big kicker – Luke 2:7 tells us that there wasn’t room in the inn. The original Greek translation of the word “inn” actually means guest chamber. Because Joseph was from the line of David, he had extended family in Bethlehem (they don’t call it the City of David for nothing) and it is almost certain that Mary and Joseph were staying in a guest chamber in their home – as in a guest room, spare bedroom, etc. Childbirth was one of the most dangerous procedures for this time period. It is most likely that Mary had family and some type of midwife present at the time of delivery, which is probably why there wasn’t enough space in the spare bedroom to deliver.
I have always pictured a brave 13 year old Mary (with no epidural!) delivering her child in a cold barn way outside of town with no one there to help.

A lot of women, myself most guilty of all, think that we can do everything on our own so the awareness that Mary most likely had help during delivery is quite liberating for me. The way I have always imagined the nativity story has been changed forever and I think I’ll try to be a little less superwoman because of it.

Another quick sidenote about the Nativity story. You remember the angel and heavenly host of angels that appeared to the shepherds to tell them that their savior was born (Luke 2:8-14)? I’d always pictured them having to travel some kind of a distance and really seeking to find baby Jesus lying in a manger. They were actually right down the hill, just outside of Bethlehem (I’m talking closer than Starbucks to Seacoast kind of distance here). These were also the same fields where David would have shepherded! And, to find out where a baby had been born in a town of 500 would not have been very difficult… especially with the echoing sounds that must have been coming from the cave.

Shepherds Field just outside Bethlehem, 1st Century Bethlehem was at top of hill to right

 

 

Topography

Top 10 Reasons Husbands Should Buy Their Wives a Ticket to the Chosen Women’s Conference for Christmas:

10. You don’t have any idea what to get her.

9. You can purchase from the comfort of your own home.

8. No long lines, therapy just a few clicks – www.chosenwomensconference.com and you’ll be done in less than five minutes.

7. A piece of paper is easy to wrap and hide.

6. She will be out of the house for two nights in a row – can you say guys night?!

5. She will most likely come back from the conference a better wife.

4. It’s a very thoughtful gift. Feel free to use this line to go along with the ticket: Sweetheart, you do so much for our family, I thought you would really enjoy some time away with the girls.

3. Unlike a new kitchen gadget, she will certainly remember it a month after Christmas.

2. It is way more than an awesome stocking stuffer, it’s an investment in her spiritual growth.

1. It is an opportunity for her to hear some of the best speakers in the country – Greg Surratt, Lisa Bevere, Jo Saxton & Helen Lee. You will probably even glean some wisdom from her overflow.

Chosen Women’s Conference
January 19-20, 2012
Seacoast Church
Mt. Pleasant, SC
www.chosenwomensconference.com

*BONUS IDEAS – If you want to “go the extra mile,” book her a massage or pedicure during the Friday break, give her cash to shop at the Chosen Boutique or buy her a new journal to take notes.
I realized a couple of days before the trip that I hadn’t left the country since I had gotten pregnant with our first child. The thought of leaving my children to go to an unknown territory, more about
uncertain that it was the Lord’s will for me, Sildenafil
was plenty of margin for the enemy to get a foothold in my mind. I battled him for months and finally, the day before we were leaving, got breakthrough. Talk about pulling me “out of the muddy clay!” (Psalm 40:2) Less than 24 hours before leaving, I was finally able to get excited about our trip to the Holy Land. I realized that it was more important to trust God and thank Him for every detail of my life instead of trying to scrutinize the details. He is Lord, He is God and He can be trusted! “The man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence indeed is the LORD, is blessed.” – Jeremiah 17:7

Once I boarded the plane in NYC for our flight to Israel, I realized that the Lord had taken me on a long journey just to get to the starting point of our pilgrimage. A wise friend told me that sometimes the Lord is more concerned about our hearts wholeheartedly seeking Him than He is about the end result. Through that tough journey, the Lord taught me so much about accepting gifts, sacrifice, prayer, wise counsel, submission, fasting, trust, listening, prophecy and timey words. I started the trip feeling like one who had been called “out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) And what marvelous light did He have in store! Israel was nothing like I though it would be… and more than I could have ever asked for or imagined. With the goal of sharing pieces of encounters with God in the Holy Land, I am going to attempt to post weekly about some outstanding revelations from the trip.
At the beginning of this year, viagra sale
I read The Missional Mom by Helen Lee. The book spoke my heart and when I realized that she lived in the Chicago area, click jumped at the chance to join my husband on a business trip and try to meet her. The Lord totally lined up our coffee chat at Starbucks and I enjoyed every moment of speaking with the author of one of my favorite books. He had already begun to plant a seed in my heart to start a group for moms that would encourage them to live missionally and my conversation with Helen that afternoon only increased my desire. One of my favorite quotes from her book is “The missional mom embraces her God-given mandate to be both a disciple of and a discipler for Christ. Evangelism is not something to do; evangelism is living purposefully and intentionally to make disciples and to bring the light of Christ in all that you do.”

As you can imagine, unhealthy
I am over the top excited about Helen speaking at the Chosen Women’s Conference in a month. I can’t wait for her to share her knowledgeable and passionate heart with other women. Just a few days ago, Helen took time away from her busy schedule of working and homeschooling two of her three boys (one is in pre-school) to answer a few questions for me to help you get to know her better.

Where did you grow up? I grew up outside of DC and considered myself an “East Coast Girl” until college when I met a group of friends through InterVarsity who introduced me to the mid-West. I ended up attending Wheaton College where I met my husband. We were married in Chicago, but moved away for him to go to grad school. We have been back in Chicagoland for seven years.
How did you come to know the Lord? Well, that is an interesting story! I was living in an apartment complex when I was six years old and a Pastor approached me and asked if I would like to go to church. I had seen a lot of children getting on a blue bus every Sunday and it looked like fun so I tried it. It was a Baptist church that did a lot of altar calls and it was during one of those that I became a Christian. My interest in attending church made my parents decide that they wanted to start attending an Asian church. I was interested in Christianity, however, it wasn’t until college when I began hanging out with a group of believers that my relationship with Christ deepened.

What made you decide to write The Missional Mom? I wrote the book out of my own struggles with finding balance in mission and motherhood. I came to a place where I really wanted to be the best mom that I could to my three boys, but felt a lot of pressure from society to make them the center of my life. I knew that the talents and abilities that I had were gifts from God and didn’t want those to go to waste. Through research, I realized that the ultimate way to live on mission was to act out my first calling as a disciple of Christ through one of my secondary callings of being a mother.

Where do you see the culture of missional living going? Everyone defines missional living differently. I have seen a lot of larger churches taking on the mandate of missional living, trying to merge their multi-site church culture with a missional one. I think that we will ultimately see a lot of missional communities, or smaller churches, existing underneath the umbrella of the larger church.

You can see Helen live at the Chosen Women’s Conference January 19-20, 2012 in Mount Pleasant, SC. Register now at www.chosenwomensconference.com.
The story would have played out differently if it had been anywhere else. Known as the land between, doctor Israel is a land bridge and crossroads. In the 1st century, viagra
whoever controlled the nation of Israel controlled the world. Genesis 15:18 tells us the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “I give this land to your offspring, from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates River.” God brought Abraham to the crossroads to spread the universal message of love and redemption. The country is divided into four major areas that were roadways – coastal, hill country, Rift Valley and Transjordan. When Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission, it wouldn’t have spread in the way that it did if it had been anywhere else in the world. We are the recipients of this message and for that reason alone, I should have greatly appreciated the land of Israel. However, it wasn’t until I was able to see the land with my own eyes and realize the colossal impact that occurs because of the events that happened within such a small span of terrain. The country was incredibly different than I had imagined and it is now much easier for me to see why the Lord chose it! The plush green grass on rolling hills, sparkling sea, winding rivers, towering mountains and gleaming desert are just a few of the wonderful scenes I was able to take in along our journey around the small country.

Standing at the top of Mt. Carmel, eyes spanning over mountains and valleys, the setting of countless Bible stories, my husband brought up the truth that God uses the small to do great things. We see that played out in the story of David and Goliath, a baby born in a cave and fisherman disciples, but to see the vast impact of stories that occurred in such a small space was awe-inspiring. Using unlikely people and situations is a great way for Him to get all the glory. Remember Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose.

View from Mt. Carmel

to•pog•ra•phy: noun the art or practice of graphic delineation… to show their relative positions and elevations (Merriam-Webster)

Before the beginning of the world, God designed a plan for you. You live where you live and He has positioned you in your current season of life and within your current relationships for a reason. Mine is a story of a girl gone astray, redeemed by the One who was and is and is to come. Elevate God in your life and He will use the positions of your past, present and future to make an impact on generations to come.

Trusting God

Top 10 Reasons Husbands Should Buy Their Wives a Ticket to the Chosen Women’s Conference for Christmas:

10. You don’t have any idea what to get her.

9. You can purchase from the comfort of your own home.

8. No long lines, therapy just a few clicks – www.chosenwomensconference.com and you’ll be done in less than five minutes.

7. A piece of paper is easy to wrap and hide.

6. She will be out of the house for two nights in a row – can you say guys night?!

5. She will most likely come back from the conference a better wife.

4. It’s a very thoughtful gift. Feel free to use this line to go along with the ticket: Sweetheart, you do so much for our family, I thought you would really enjoy some time away with the girls.

3. Unlike a new kitchen gadget, she will certainly remember it a month after Christmas.

2. It is way more than an awesome stocking stuffer, it’s an investment in her spiritual growth.

1. It is an opportunity for her to hear some of the best speakers in the country – Greg Surratt, Lisa Bevere, Jo Saxton & Helen Lee. You will probably even glean some wisdom from her overflow.

Chosen Women’s Conference
January 19-20, 2012
Seacoast Church
Mt. Pleasant, SC
www.chosenwomensconference.com

*BONUS IDEAS – If you want to “go the extra mile,” book her a massage or pedicure during the Friday break, give her cash to shop at the Chosen Boutique or buy her a new journal to take notes.
I realized a couple of days before the trip that I hadn’t left the country since I had gotten pregnant with our first child. The thought of leaving my children to go to an unknown territory, more about
uncertain that it was the Lord’s will for me, Sildenafil
was plenty of margin for the enemy to get a foothold in my mind. I battled him for months and finally, the day before we were leaving, got breakthrough. Talk about pulling me “out of the muddy clay!” (Psalm 40:2) Less than 24 hours before leaving, I was finally able to get excited about our trip to the Holy Land. I realized that it was more important to trust God and thank Him for every detail of my life instead of trying to scrutinize the details. He is Lord, He is God and He can be trusted! “The man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence indeed is the LORD, is blessed.” – Jeremiah 17:7

Once I boarded the plane in NYC for our flight to Israel, I realized that the Lord had taken me on a long journey just to get to the starting point of our pilgrimage. A wise friend told me that sometimes the Lord is more concerned about our hearts wholeheartedly seeking Him than He is about the end result. Through that tough journey, the Lord taught me so much about accepting gifts, sacrifice, prayer, wise counsel, submission, fasting, trust, listening, prophecy and timey words. I started the trip feeling like one who had been called “out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) And what marvelous light did He have in store! Israel was nothing like I though it would be… and more than I could have ever asked for or imagined. With the goal of sharing pieces of encounters with God in the Holy Land, I am going to attempt to post weekly about some outstanding revelations from the trip.



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