A Family Takes Shape In Israel

Sara joins Wayne for this week's podcast as they share thoughts and observations from their recent trip to Israel with thirty-eight other friends and God Journey listeners. Though they were strangers to each other when they arrived, over the first few days of exploring Israel, they also experienced the reality of becoming an expression of Jesus' church as they grew in their love for each other. Not only did they feast on the joy and wisdom of those growing relationships, they also saw how that expression demonstrated his reality to others around them. Finding the power and joy of church life is not so difficult when people lay down their agendas and receive others into their lives with love and grace.

Podcast Links:
Learning Love More Deeply - Earlier Podcast about Sara's Journey
When God Shapes a Family - Wayne's Blog on the Israel Trip
The God Journey 2013 RSS feed
Please keep our friends in Kenya in your hearts and prayers as God gives you grace. The need there is great.
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  1. So sweet to hear Sara’s intake of the trip. A close moment for me was definitely St Ann’s church too. Similar moment for me was singing Amazing Grace out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee and holding a silence there afterwards together. To see in my little eyes what Jesus saw with His human eyes in the country side stirred my soul in ways that is difficult to articulate. I had no need for it to be “the spot”. The Galilean countryside 2000 years later is quite unique to my eyes. Those hills grow boulders and rocks plenty of seating for the Beatitudes.

    The climb to Jerusalem every time we did it was a spiritual reminder that the journey is from the bottom up and my ears popped every time.
    The entire time in Jerusalem my heart heard “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem (Matt 23:37) I want you”
    As we ascended up and out of the prison cave where they held Jesus and we heard the Muslim call to prayer as we climbed the stairs and at first I resisted the sound because its so disharmonious and then Grace allowed me to drop my resistance and I tried to listen to it with a more open heart and I heard it as a lament, just like Jesus’s lament for Jerusalem. And I wept a little as the bells chimed in.
    This packed little city full of geo-political, religious and racial strife is a living tragedy of those forces. We are clueless about so much and our information intakes are so flawed they don’t help God’s kids.
    Our guide’s game of poking the bear in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the bear pushing back and the Jews who walked across the Temple mount that caused the Muslim women to cluck and wail, reminded me of my childhood game in our station wagon of drawing imaginary lines where my brothers and I taunted one another with crossing. How annoying that was to my earthly father. I wonder if that isn’t how our Abba see’s the insanity of the human lines drawn over Jerusalem. Well, the whole Earth really which was another cool thing about our group because in the bus we were one. Experiencing our unity in the Kingdom of God in a little red and white tour bus in a land the size of New Jersey. We were from many different countries and back grounds. Too cool for school.

    Wayne you are so good at a lot of things, but I really liked the questions you started us with because they remained with me throughout the tour. And I am still sitting with them, why there? Why that spot on this planet?
    I loved (can’t remember how this got shared) the lunch that our guide, Daniel, our bus driver Gabriel had with their Muslim Arab friends one day and they decided together that they need each other. That’s the church that Jesus is building one precious human being at a time. And that the most powerful force in the Universe is the only one that could cause Daniel to be undone.

    Todah again to the Jacobsen tribe from the west coast of North America for initiating and organizing this trip of a lifetime for us.
    From Okie Land of North America
    p.s. total hats off to the Israel Tour Company who did an amazing job planning our days with you.

  2. What a privilege to be able to share this piece of life and love with you all. I didn’t plan on sharing this originally, but after hearing the podcast I decided to go ahead send Wayne an email about what God had in store for me on the last day of the tour. I hope it encourages and is helpful to others! Here is what happened:


    Leading up to the last day, I wasn’t particularly moved by what I was seeing. Sure, it was amazing to see the actual places where Jesus was and magnificence of the 2 thousand year old structures, but I wasn’t emotionally moved like I thought I might have been. It all seemed pretty much like any other vacation, and part of me was feeling guilty about it. If I truly loved God, wouldn’t I be more impacted by what I was seeing? That was my thought anyway. But thankfully I’ve learned that guilt doesn’t come from God, so I dropped it, thanked Him for allowing me to be there and moved on. I knew God loved me and that was enough. Little did I know He had something precious in store for my relationship with Him.

    On the last day when we were standing on the tombs looking over the Mt of Olives and the city of Jerusalem, suddenly the weight of what Jesus set out to do began to hit me. You (Wayne) lead us in the song, “There is no one like you, Jesus, who can do what you do, Jesus, who can love like you do, heal like you, there is no one like you Jesus”. And then He spoke to me. I strongly heard the voice of the Father break into my heart, and this is what he said: “Klint, I brought you here on this trip so I can give you a gift. I’m opening up my heart to you so you can have just a small taste of what I was feeling when Jesus had to go to the cross.” Now, if you asked my friends, they will tell you I’m not a very sentimental person. I don’t cry very often, and I don’t ever remember a time where I cried over what Christ did. But as we started singing that song and I realized that this was what the Father was singing over Jesus in the midst of his crucifixion, the tears began to flow. The cross was just as painful for the Father as it was for Jesus. I never knew that. I was overcome with it all and just stood there balling. All I can say is I was glad to be wearing sunglasses. He gave me a very precious gift, but then He took it one step further.

    Fast forward to the garden tomb when you (Wayne) lead us in communion together. God spoke to me again for part 2 of His gift, and this is what he said: “Klint, now I’m going to give you a taste of how I felt when Jesus rose from the dead and what we set out to do was finished!”. The absolute pure joy exploded into my heart and I began to cry again. I honestly had no idea what was happening. I’ve never cried tears of joy before. I couldn’t stop smiling. It was a defining moment in my walk with the Lord. No argument or doctrine or systematic theology can touch it. It was so real and so precious to me. It’s hard for me even to talk about it. I am just so thankful for His gift of love and I’m so happy I got to experience it at a place with so many amazing brothers and sisters on the same journey.

    So that’s it. It was a gift I will treasure forever. I know love more now than I ever have.


  3. Thanks, Joni and Klint for adding your observations from the trip. Joni, I second your appreciation for The Israel Tour Company. They did great work for us and am glad you’re still pondering the questions. I love letting questions simmer in the background as God’s wisdom seeps its way in. And Klint, I love what you experienced on that last day! Brought tears to my eyes reading it and sharing it with someone else last night. And I really loved that you chucked the guilt quickly from the if-I-loved-Jesus-more-I’d-be-more-moved accusation rolling through the cranium. Obviously one of the enemy’s more disgusting lies…. Blessings to you both! Enjoyed sharing time with you in Israel!

  4. Wow Klint !
    My heart leaps for joy for you! Thank you for sharing those intimate moments with us. Isn’t He The best Dad ever!!!! That really blessed me!

  5. Thank you both for sharing your journeys, not just the recent Israel trip but your life’s journey. We had not heard Sara`s story until you added the link to this podcast. It has really made us appreciate the time we met with you both at Stamford even more. Much love to you both.

  6. Hi Wayne and Sara

    In my job I get a lot of windshield time and it is always enjoyable to listen to the podcasts. Glad you guys all got to go. Time off for me is spent with family. They are scattered and varied so time together is precious and loved.

    I sent my youngest son some of your books, He loves me and Authentic Relationships as well as The Shack. He came back from the wars with PTSD and has really struggled. He is currently across the country and very alone and lonely. I encourage him as I am able. He is very bright but struggles with relationships. Hopefully the info will help as he works out his own relationship with Jesus. Help, but not too much from Dad. Always difficult to know where to draw the line. I thank you for opening so many relational doors with people. For a long time I knew very few of us. It is nice to see the journey opening up for so many others.

    Of course books alone won’t heal. It takes the Spirit of Christ. I have had many adventures but they are my own. My son must learn to walk his own path.

    Time to go. I need to go and walk on water for a bit before I get around to feeding the 5,000 this evening…………..



  7. Thank you, Wayne and Sara, for sharing your thoughts and reactions to everything. I had to laugh when Sara began talking about your experiencing the journey with your son – no prompting needed from Wayne, the words just flowed. You’re such a ‘mom’…me too, Sara!!! It was a delight. And I so enjoyed Joni’s and Klint’s take on everything. My reaction was very similar to theirs.

    Like Sara, I was surprised that I was not more emotional about seeing everything connected with our Savior’s time walking on this earth…I so enjoyed our guide, Daniel’s, historical perspective and the fact that he knew the New Testament scriptures better than a lot of Jesus’ followers…but beyond that, I seemed to view everything from a distance, not sure exactly how to express it. However, early on, I think, prompted by Wayne’s description of a butterfly chrysalis and how, when we focus on it we miss life, I felt Father prompting me that: ‘Jesus is not here.’ After all, I CAME there to see and walk where Jesus walked. I was so profoundly saddened at seeing what religion, tradition, rules, laws have done and are still doing to those who seek Him but cannot break free from those things that bind them so tightly…the Jewish people, the Muslim people, and yes, those who call Christ, LORD. The pinnacle of this was our experience in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre…oh my goodness!!! How tragic.

    On the last day, like Klint, the emotions came. I wept with our Savior over Jerusalem; I wept for what He endured for us, for me; I wept for how so many of us who call Him Savior and LORD miss the freedom that He died to provide us. He didn’t just free us from sin, He freed us from the chains of religion and tradition…how real it became to me.

    But I rejoiced in seeing His life, so very real and so very apparent in a little group packed together on a pastor-less bus, sorting things out over meals, truly communing with each other in a way that I hope brought a smile to His face. I am so very grateful to have had this opportunity and know I will never be the same, but not in the way I expected. Isn’t that just like our LORD???

  8. Wayne, thanks for the podcast. Teresa and I have never been to Israel. Maybe we can go with you someday if your daughter prevails and you lead another group. We are on her side.

    Klint, thanks for sharing your gift with us. It was quite encouraging for me. I especially appreciated the 2nd part of the gift regarding the resurrection. I have often thought it interesting and unfortunate that the church tends to give much less attention to the resurrection as compared to the crucifixion. The average hymnal (for anyone who remembers those) has many more songs about the suffering and death of Christ than about His triumph over death. We tend to consider and talk about the work of the cross much more than the work of the resurrection. I think this may be because believers tend to be more focused on avoiding Hell later than on resting in and enjoying a loving, Heavenly Father here and now.

    Obviously, the wonderful truth that Jesus took our sin away on the cross is of utmost importance. Equally wonderful is the truth that he rose from the grave and conquered death with His eternal life. He died for us and He rose for us! We died with Him and we rose with Him! With the bread of the Lord’s Supper, we remember His body sacrificed for our sin and guilt and shame. With the cup, we rejoice together in His life-giving blood of the New Covenant. He lives in us! Through His resurrection we experience real life with God and with each other.

    Klint, I am not sure I had ever really considered the incredible joy that our Father experienced when He raised Jesus from the dead. It is amazing to think of how joyful our Father was over bringing us back to Himself. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I enjoyed reading the comments. I also want to thank Wayne and Sarah for hosting the trip. This was my first tour so I am not an expert in tours or tour companies, but I believe that the tour was very well done. Daniel was extremely knowledgeable and very likable.

    For me, the best times were at dinner time when we had an opportunity to discuss the journeys we are on. Heart to heart conversations seem to come easy as we shared with each other. I remember listening to the laughter and conversations on the bus. It was pleasing to my ears and heart to see friendships developing. One of the lessons I have been learning in the past years is that in His Kingdom is all about relationships. However, counting was never our strong suit: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12……13. 🙂

    I too thought it would be more ‘spiritual’, and maybe it was…just in a different way than I expected. I enjoyed the Sea of Galilee even though walking on water was tougher than I expected, and my feet went straight to the bottom…also it was very cold. Our first night in the Kibbutz, I could not sleep and went to the sea shore to pray. I could almost imagine Jesus, in the distance, across the water, cooking the fish (John 21). This seemed like a good start to a pilgrimage. However, once we spent a few days in Jerusalem I became numb. All the religion and so many people earnestly wanting to please God, yet we all believe so differently. I went to pray at the western wall, but all I could think about was He is here, yes, but no more than anywhere else. So while I enjoyed the culture and the history of Jerusalem, the question that formed in my mind was: ‘What makes us different than all the others?’ This question, for me, is not really a crisis of faith, but it continually comes up again and again when I think about the trip. I’m not sure if this answers the question, but for me, what comes to mind is what Jesus said: ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’

  10. I agree with you at the garden with the singers, I would have just shut them up if I could, they were so pushing their songs… no respect of others. And like Joni said, it was so great to see Daniel and Gabriel after that lunch when he said that Palestinians and Jews should work together, and they both agreed about that ! Daniel for president in Israel !!!! What a great (tiring) trip, and sorry to have shared more than I would (i.e my bugs microbes etc…) 🙂 and as I said earlier, what has touched me most is the friendship that developed between all of us, rather than the places where we were.

  11. For someone that didn’t go on the trip, after listening to this, I can pretty much tell how much fun it must have been. I also share in Wayne’s disappointment that the sites are being “Christianized” (Not a word but you know what I mean). I’d love to visit Israel but now have to think twice because I’m now thinking why would I go somewhere a boulder should be now find it’s been replaced by a patio? Or something commercial where Jesus sat down and spoke with his disciples? I’m thinking my Imagination might just serve me better.

  12. I appreciate listening to the podcast. I, too, think that I will feel quite overwhelmed by the epic and profound quality of such opportunity.

    I have recently seen photos from the trip that your son posted on the web. He takes incredible pictures and I told him that they “tell a story.”

    I look at his photos from the trip as a montage and as standalone images. For me, the perspective resonates a story of beauty, time, faith, pilgrimage, and grace. I believe that he intimately captured those themes elegantly.

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