Sunday, May 16, 2010

Israel to Italy: Between Euphoria & Exhaustion

Lunch with Larissa overlooking the Temple Mount

A few thoughts from 17 days in Israel and Italy, fifteen hour days and more great coffee than any sane person would drink:
First of all, Alitalia Airlines is pretty brutal. No movies and seats made for midgets with no legs. Ouch.
In any case, Israel, as always, was a major shot of spiritual adrenaline.

On our first free day, we were able to get away to Dor Harbor and visit our friend Kurt Raveh.
He has over 6,000 dives and has found amazing things, including a Phoenician ship with a hold full of the idols below. These pagan idols were used to represent Molech in ritual child sacrifice.

Even though conditions were bleak, Kurt and I were able to dive. This is a Crusader sword he found in the past.

Always nice to have a video crew along with the tour, (read: 150 of our closest friends).
Happily we had a separate video van driven by Ofer the Ferocious, our driver who still approaches driving as if he were in the Israeli Army.

Herod the Great was certifiable. A brilliant builder, (The Temple II, Masada, Caesarea, etc.) but a genuine paranoid nut case.
Heidi was supposed to make this trip to Israel, but she qualified for the State Track Finals, and the conflict kept her in New Mexico. I was very depressed about missing the event, I try to go to every one of the kid's sporting events I can, and missing a Final was distressing. Amazingly, on the day of the meet, Heidi sent me a text saying the meet was going to be carried live on web.
Wow! It was excellent sitting in Jerusalem at midnight watching Heidi become a state champion and end up on the podium for all three events! Thank you Jesus and Al Gore.

Over the years, I have seen this gold menorah at the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. Over 5 feet tall, it was built to be put in the yet to be constructed Temple. Two years back it showed up overlooking the Western Wall, slowly making the journey to the Temple Mount. This is the real deal.
Below is the Arch of Titus in Rome- with an engraving of the last Menorah from the Temple in 70 A.D., when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and brought the instruments to Rome in triumph.
The Romans thought that was the end of Israel, but its not over till the Lord says its over.

The end of Paul's long road to Rome. A few years back we traced Paul's path from Israel to Turkey to Greece to Rome. Check out the documentary we made: The Road to Rome at

Just think, the Romans built the triumphal arch for Titus because smacking Israel was a major victory. So it took the best of Roman legions to conquer Israel, but the gospel conquered Rome without firing a shot. Paul, Peter and company overcame Caesar on foot.

What if the Catholic church had stayed on task? What if they hadn't turned inward and become obsessed with extravagant building and weird costumes? I get the excellence in art deal, but Luther had a point, when people are starving, another cathedral isn't a wise call.
What if they hadn't let aberrant theology distract and dilute?
At one time, the Catholics had it going, but excess took over. Now the Vatican is like a Dead Popes Society. Seriously, there are dead pope's laying around St. Peter's. Just plain strange. And sad.
What could have been.

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