STANDING IN JERUSALEM

October 25, 2021

Today I'm going to write a love letter. Actually, two.

"Love at first sight" has struck me TWICE in my life.

The first time was when I was teaching a bible study. As it happened, that was the week I was beginning a study of the Book of James. You may wonder how I might remember an event that took place in 1982 that precisely. Well, since we were beginning James, we were in chapter 1. If you are familiar with the bible, you'll know that James 1 deals with temptations and lust. James writes, "each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

So, just as I am about to open in prayer and read these verses, in walks the most gorgeous red head that I have ever seen in my life !!!! (You can't tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor.) To make matters worse, she walked in with my room mate. So now I'm not only distracted, but I'm also jealous. To be totally frank, NOT one of my more holy moments. Thank God for grace, and for the Holy Spirit working in and through us.

Well, I found out later that this lovely young lady was just a friend that my room mate had met in seminary. They were not "a couple." That was, of course, great news for me. There were a few fits and starts, and some life-calling issues to be worked out along the way. But in October of the following year she and I exchanged, vows, rings and become husband and wife.

I have come to realize over the last 38 years that love can grow so much that it actually increases both your capacity to love and your enjoyment of that love.

I have had her walk me through inner healing that at first I didn't know I needed, and then didn't think was possible. Her gentle love and determination, powered by her incessant prayer life, continued to chip away at the walls I had so carefully built. Healed? No, not hardly. But HEALING ????? Oh yes, by God's grace and my beloved wife's love.

I've had her lead me to more gentle dealings, more strategic discussions, more deliberate relationships, more structured living, more intentional giving, more, more more. So much more that I could never have even conceived it, and yet she had led me to it and through it. Day by day I

There are some loves that, by their very nature, INCREASE YOUR CAPACITY for love, service and commitment.
My love for my wife is just such a love.

Now, here's today's verse ….
OUR FEET ARE STANDING IN YOUR GATES, JERUSALEM

As of 2am this morning, I am once again living that verse. Today's devotional is being written from the Coffee Shop at Christ Church Jerusalem.

As the plane touched down in Israel, I uttered a prayer that an archeologist friend discovered on the cup of the High Priest from Jesus' day -- ADONAI SHAVTI. (Lord, I have returned.) I was singing softly to myself in Hebrew, and singing in the Spirit.

Back in 2005 I made my first trip to Israel. At the time I already had earned a Masters in Theology. I had already studied the scriptures that related to Israel. I already thought I loved Israel. THEN I made my first visit. I expected it to be enjoyable. I expected it to be instructive. I did not, however, expect it to be utterly life-changing. Aside from salvation, being filled with the Holy Spirit and being called to ministry, NOTHING has impacted my faith life like visiting Israel.

Love at first sight struck me a second time as I walked the streets of the Old City. I have experienced miracles here. Seen angels here. Celebrated the Eucharist in the oldest protestant church in the land. I was consecrated a Bishop in the Garden Tomb, and then offered the opportunity to kneel in the spot where Christ may have lain.

From 2007 through 2016 God gave me one of the greatest privileges and joys of my spiritual life. I had the blessing of spending six months a year in Israel. I had the freedom to drive literally all over the land. I've stood at the border of Lebanon and the border of Gaza. I crossed back and forth over the border with Jordan several times. I've crossed some other borders, too; but we'll not discuss that. 🙂

I've learned where things are that appear on no tourist trip, let alone the ten-day tours where the pilgrims get to jog where Jesus walked. I've stood on the very steps where the people shouted "Crucify Him!!", the steps people walk by and never "see." I've stood where Pilate challenged the crowd. I've been in an underground burial tomb near the town of Capernaum, hidden in a field well off the beaten path. I've stood on the ancient stones of the Via Maris near the spot where Jesus taught the Beatitudes. I've seen the ruins of Elisha's school of the prophets, and walked through Shari'im where David built a palace overlooking the Valley of Elah to commemorate his victory over Goliath.

There are some loves that, by their very nature, INCREASE YOUR CAPACITY for love, service and commitment.

Walking where Jesus walked, feeling the deep power of the Holy Spirit at the Western Wall, standing in David's palace -- these things have touched me deeply and increased my capacity to love Him with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength.

When I get home, having been away for quite some time, I intend to make it a point to spend some time with my wife. Just enjoying being back at home, cherishing her and the relationship that means more to me than any other in the world.

But for now, I'm going to go spend some time walking the streets of Jerusalem.

Shalom

OUR FEET ARE STANDING IN YOUR GATES, JERUSALEM

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