I’m not wishing my life away but I can’t wait for March 2011 when, good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I will make my third visit to the Holy Land! This eight-day adventure is a once in a lifetime journey through the land of God’s chosen people, and it’s a trip that is bathed in prayer and very carefully planned. Israel is a very safe place to be, regardless of the images we see on American television, and walking where our Lord lived and ministered is an experience that is second to none!

There are a LOT of Holy Land tours out there, many of them hosted by internationally known Bible scholars and teachers.  Kay Arthur regularly travels to Israel and Joel Rosenberg has planned a 12-day tour in May 2011.  In fact, we bumped into Chuck Swindoll’s tour this past March and were bumped from our hotel in Jerusalem because the Insight For Living tour needed more rooms! This turned out to be a blessing in disguise when we got a hotel upgrade because of them – thank you, Chuck! When we toured Masada we constantly passed Insight groups, so we decided to count them. This task was easy because each was led by a person holding up a sign that identified their color-coded group, and so we counted… and counted… and counted… and stopped at 14! Do the math on that – 14 buses with 30-40 people on each bus… unloading at each site… with bags and cameras and jackets and hats… checking in and out of hotels… with all that luggage to move and identify… Don’t get me wrong, I love Chuck and Insight For Living is a wonderful ministry, but it’s just plain hard to travel with a group that size!

And that’s what makes our tour unique. We purposely take smaller groups because we want to create an atmosphere of community. When you tour with larger groups you HAVE to keep to a fixed schedule for logistical reasons and to accommodate the various sites, but with such large numbers moving at a set pace, it looks more like a cattle drive than a pilgrimage. We intentionally and prayerfully work toward creating community in our group.

Worship in the Shepherd’s Caves
in Bethlehem

We plan times of worship, both corporate and private, and we try to keep our schedule flexible enough to allow us to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. This past trip we had a time of prayer at the pools of Bethesda for one of our pilgrims who had been battling cancer. What a precious time it was to lay hands on him and lift him up in prayer, and to do it at the place where Jesus ministered!

This morning the Holy Spirit impressed on me to compile my list of petitions for the 2011 trip. I thought this was a little bit early to be doing that since we typically start praying about specifics a few months closer to our departure, but I went ahead and wrote them out. These are just a few of the things I am already praying for this trip:

Team: for focus; for us to guard our time in the Word; to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading before, during and after the trip; for our witness to our guide, driver, and hotel staff…

Logistics: for flights and connections and luggage, for a godly tour guide, for good weather and safe travel, for accommodations for worship at particular sites, for a God-ordained moment everyday…

Pilgrims: for the Lord to lead people to this trip, for their hearts to be prepared, that their relationship with the Lord would be deepened and forever changed, for us to bear much fruit with those around us, and to build meaningful relationships and feel a part of the family of God…

Jordan River baptisms

These are just a few of the things our team is praying as we anticipate our 2011 journey. There are lots more pictures – click HERE to see Galilee and click HERE to see Jerusalem and Judea. There is a downloadable brochure at our host’s website – www.medskeens.com  If you are interested in joining us, we would love to talk with you! Please pray about it and contact me for details.

I am already praying for YOU!

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