Love in Action

Writing this blog each week can sometimes be a challenge, but I love writing and scheduling this time is a necessary discipline. It helps me to ponder what is important in life, and what I might in turn share with you.

During my morning devotion time, I usually check my YouVersion Bible app to read the verse of the day. Today’s verse was, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans‬ ‭12:12‬) As I often do, I decided to continue on and read the entire chapter of Romans 12.

Throughout this chapter, we find guidance on how to love one another deeply and intentionally. Even our enemies! This isn’t just “old school” or ancient teaching. Although I’ve read this chapter many times, this morning I was struck by how  badly we need these instructions today.

In the NIV translation, verses 9-21 are entitled “Love in Action”.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:9-21‬

That is a lot to take in, but oh, my! If we could embrace these instructions as we go about our daily lives, think how this world could be changed.

How will you put love into action this week?

Steps of Faith

בוקר טוב (Pronounced “boker tov”.)

This was our morning greeting from our wonderful tour guide, Sonia Waters, for the past two weeks while in Israel. Most days we left our hotel at 8:00 a.m., carrying along with us everything we would need for our day’s journey. For me that meant my backpack, hat, sunscreen, iphone (for photos), map of Israel, Bible, shawl (for holy sites), passport (for unexpected checkpoint boarding by border security), and lots of water. Our seasoned bus driver, known only as Govanni, made sure the on-board cooler was always re-stocked overnight. Bottles were $1 US or 3₪ Israeli shekels, which was much cheaper than tourist spots, where we paid up to $2.50 for a bottle of water.

Govanni could navigate the the steepest mountains and the tightest parking spaces to get our luxury tour bus to and from its destination safely.  He spoke little English, but was always cheerful and helpful. He remained in the background or stayed on the bus for most of our excursions, but always had the AC cranked to the max by the time we returned, exhausted and overheated from the 90+ degree desert sun. I learned on our final day in Israel that Govanni likely saved the life of one of our tour members, rescuing her from an undertow at a beach in Tel Aviv. Praise God for his quick response!

It is impossible to share in words or pictures what this trip meant to me being so close to the stories I have read in the Bible all my life. The dusty roads, rocky cliffs and briny seas I visited all came together like the pieces of a puzzle as Sonia explained Biblical history at each site. Tears welled from my eyes when I stood on the Mount of Olives and saw Jerusalem for the very first time, and when I prayed at the Western Wall.

View of Jerusalem, taken from the Mount of Olives

 

This was no ordinary vacation. For me, it was a tour of emotions, and deeper understanding of my faith and its roots. History came to life where Jesus once stood and preached the gospel message inside this synagogue at Magdala on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭1:35-39‬

The journey continued as I walked on the remains of the original stone street in Jerusalem where Jesus once walked, possibly carrying his cross to Calvary. I was baptized in the Sea of Galilee and floated in the Dead Sea. I sat in the Garden of Gethsemane and wandered through ruins of ancient kingdoms. These were quite literally steps of faith.

I will share more in future posts, and hopefully create a link with both photos and narration so you can get a small glimpse of what I learned on this trip of a lifetime. And if you ever have the opportunity to visit the Holy Land — GO!

As I close this post, please join me in praying for peace throughout the Middle Eastern region. I also want to offer a special thanks to Dennis and Tina Karp of https://chosenpeople.com/site/Chosen People Ministries, our friends (and neighbors!) who organized this amazing trip. I am so grateful for their invitation to join the tour.