Tag Archives: Jesus

Judging Through Judgement

Judging Through Judgement

Why is it the most judgemental people are those who get upset when they think people are judging them?   Judging through judgement is what I’ll call it.

One of my recent goals for self-improvement is to avoid priestcraft in all its forms.  I didn’t realize how prevalent it is until recently when I decided to research it more.  The encouragement to do this came from my Book of Mormon reading.

Before I go any further, I’m going to flat out say it… in order to avoid pitfalls, one must make judgements as to what is right and what is wrong.  We do this all the time.  An extreme example would be if someone told you drinking arsenic would cure cancer, I would hope your better judgement would tell you to not drink arsenic.

Judging People

When I read Jesus’ admonition to ‘judge not, lest thou be judged’ (see Matt. 7:1-3), I understand that to mean we shouldn’t judge people’s motivation or intent.  There’s no scriptural basis to say we shouldn’t say something is a sin, when the scriptures and the prophets say it is a sin.  There is, however, scriptural basis that says we shouldn’t question a person’s reason for sinning, or condemn because they have sinned.

I got the willies when I read where a guy was touting various forms of inequity and the message of his writing was this:  Don’t give a hoot what others think.  Just keep on sinning.  Anyone who tells you your sinning is judging you.


These judges who accuse active church-goers of judgement place labels on people:  gay, straight, LGBT, black, latino, white, etc.  Wait… after Christ visited the New World, doesn’t the Book of Mormon say there were no ‘-ites’ among them?

Aren’t these labels forms of ‘-ites’?

If you’re not convinced, anciently a gay man would be called a Sodomite.  A latino a Lamanite.  Need I continue?


Re-reading this guys writing made me feel yucky inside.  I don’t know what his motivation is for writing the stuff he writes, but for me, past experience has shown those yucky-inside feelings means something is amiss with what I’m reading.  Or, another way to say it is, the Spirit of the Lord is telling me it is false doctrine and meant to lead people away from the truth.

The Litmus Test

I was introduced to litmus paper at a very young age.  I think I got my first chemistry set when I was around 5 or 6 years old.  Litmus paper tells you the pH of a solution.

When it comes to the gospel teachings, my litmus test is my gut.  When my gut tells me something is wrong, it is usually wrong.    There is also a secondary test I apply.  It is what have the current apostles and prophets said?

I’ll give you an example:  Someone was saying the church just needs to get with the times, and eventually they will when it comes to gay marriage.  When Elder Christofferson was asked about that, his answer was an authoritative, “Never.”

So, to have someone write about the subject in such a way that encourages behaviours contrary to the teachings of the Savior, and then attempt to use the Saviors teachings as justification… well… it fails both tests.


Is it Priestcraft?

If he’s doing it for the praise of men and money, it fits the Book of Mormon definition of priestcraft.

Karei Deshe

Karei Deshe

We’re off to Karei Deshe today.  It is on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee.  The nearest city is Tiberias.

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Bye Jerusalem Traffic

In doing my studies on this area, Tiberias was a city Caesar Augustus (his step-father) named after him.  There is no indications that Jesus spent any time in Tiberias.  (I surmise this is because he was sent unto the Jews, and not the Romans.)

Not far the other direction is where Jesus fed the multitude, taught the beatitudes, and called his apostles.  The city of Capernaum is close by.  It is also where Peter lived.


On our way to our hostel, we stopped at Caesarea.  This mediterranean city was founded by Herod about 30 B.C.  and is named after Caesar Augustus.  This seaport city (its ruins) are spectacular.

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Becca and John by What is Left of an Ancient Statue

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The Amphitheater at Caesarea

We gathered at the bottom of the amphitheater for a group picture.  I got a kick out of the lady I asked to take the picture.  She complained that we were facing in to the sun.  I assured her I knew what I was doing, and so did my fellow travelers.

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Me, John, Linda, Becca and Matt – Caesarea

(By the way, you always want the sun to your subject’s back so they aren’t squinting and so you don’t have ugly shadows on their faces.)\


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Inscription at Caesarea

I found this inscription intriguing:

“Pontius Pilatus, the prefect of Judea, erected a building dedicated to the Emperor Tiberius.”

is what they believe it to have said in whole.

The Port

The ancient port was an engineering marvel for its time.  Concrete that cured underwater was one of the marvels.

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The Ancient Port Area

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The Beach

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Aqueduct and the Five of Us Posing

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And, check out these Segway tours!  That looks fun.

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Segway Tours

On to Armageddon

On our way to Her Megido (aka Armegeddon), we passed this sign…

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Route 66 in Israel

Who knew there was a Route 66 in Israel.  I can say I’ve driven BOTH.

Her Megido is an impressive site (and sight).  This mountain top city has been fought over many times and it is prophesied that the last battle will take place here.

From the Old Testament Student’s Manual I’ve copied the following.  My comments are in italics:

According to the prophets, some important events must take place before the battle actually begins:

  1. The house of Israel will be gathered from among the heathen (the Gentiles) and returned to their own land (see Ezekiel 36:2437:21).  in progress

  2. The land of Israel will be rebuilt and reinhabited by the covenant people (see Ezekiel 36:10–12, 33–36).  done

  3. The land will become highly productive and fruitful, even like the Garden of Eden (see Ezekiel 36:8, 29–30, 34–35).  done

  4. There will be one nation in the land of Israel again (see Ezekiel 37:22). in progress

  5. Jerusalem will be reestablished as the capital city of the Israelites (see Zechariah 1:16–172:1212:63 Nephi 20:46).  done

  6. Judah will become powerful in politics and warfare (see Isaiah 19:16–17Zechariah 10:3, 5–6). in progress

It is amazing to lookout from atop Megido.  The view is spectacular, thus, you can see why it is a military advantage point.

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Looking North from Megido

Mount Carmel

Our next stop is a new one for me.  Mt. Carmel is where Elijah and the Priest of Baal had their standoff.  Elijah challenged them to call fire from heaven. When they failed, he had them douse the alter with water before he called fire down.  The fire consumed the wood as well as the altar itself.

To my dismay we didn’t find much to see up there except for a nice view of the sunset.

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Sunset on Mount Carmel

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John and Linda at Sunset

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Me On Mount Carmel

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Matt Shooting the Sunset

Dinner and Our Hostel

We stopped for dinner on our way to Karei Deshe.  It is a little steakhouse just west of Karei Deshe and the English translation of its name is Angus.

I ordered lamb chops.  It is the first time I’ve had lamb (that wasn’t ground) in Israel.  I know that seems strange, but it is expensive here.

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Lamb Chops

We checked in to our rooms at the Hi Kerei Deshe Hostel.  It’s a nice place.  Furthermore, my room can sleep four!  That’s a bit of an overkill, of course.

City of David

City of David

The City of David was a district just south of Jerusalem.  When the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in the 1st Century, they left no stone unturned, and the City of David was buried in Rubble.

It is important to note that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. was bad.  The entire old city was razed, which fulfilled prophecy (Matt.24:1-8).  What we see today is not what existed at meridian of time.  In fact, some modern archaeologist question if the Dome of the Rock is actually on the Temple Mount!  They say it was more towards the City of David.  (Now, that is interesting because that would mean the temple could be built without disturbing any of the Islamic sites.  However, it would also mean the Western Wall was not part of Solomon’s Temple.)

We visited the excavation of the City of David today.  This modern excavation, in time, will answer many questions.

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View of Old Jerusalem in the Rain

The railing you see in the picture above are walkways.  To the center left, the slope down is the ancient City of David.  To the right of center is the Dome of the Rock.

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City of David

The visitors’ center at the City of David is quite nice.  John and Linda took time to take pictures of the carving on the wall.

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City of David Gift Shop

We were waiting for Matt and Becca in the gift shop.  It was cold and rainy outside.  The one young lady (the blond) was from San Antonio, Texas.  She explained dreidels usually say, “Something Important Happened There.”  The ones sold in the City of David say (in Hebrew), “Something Important Happened Here.”

The Tunnel

Hezekiah built a tunnel under the City of David. Today you can walk that tunnel.  Actually, there are two tunnels, one for the water, the other for access by people.  We walked the dry one.

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In Hezekiah’s Tunnel

The water from the tunnel empties in to the Pool of Shiloam (or Siloam).  This pool is where those going to the temple would stop and wash.  Today, it is an archeological discovery (discovered in 2004).  As a result of this discovery, we can now visit the very steps where Jesus healed the blind man.

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Matt and Becca at the Steps Where Jesus Healed the Blind Man

It is a special place to be in this tunnel (above).  Because of the destruction of Jerusalem, these steps would have been outdoors in Jesus’ time.  However, today they in this reinforced tunnel where they are still working on uncovering what the Roman’s covered in 70 A.D.

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Walking Where Jesus Walked

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Looking Down the Stairs

Earlier Today

I neglected to mention my breakfast.  Here’s an example of breakfast at the Abraham Hostel:  milk, salad, yogurt, bread, jam, hard boiled eggs and an orange.

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It’s okay for a few days, but if you’re staying long term it can get a bit boring.

On the way to the car, in a puddle of water, Linda found a glove she lost.  She was so excited to find it… as you can see (below).

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Linda Found Her Glove!

We stopped at Omar so I could purchase a carving of Jesus for Elder and Sister Riggs (you can see it on the 2nd shelf above Brent Top’s elbow.)  And, I ran in to Brent Top.  It’s funny because Omar and I were just talking about him the other day, and … here he is.

I asked him to point to his business card on Omar’s shelf.

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Brent L. Top at Omar’s

For lunch we stopped at a convenience store.  The weather got nasty and we picked up some stuff to eat at the hostel.

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Convenience Store Lunch

Dinner was at the hostel.  They put on a Shabbat Dinner every Friday night.  It’s a nice time and you always meet new people.  We sat by a couple.  He was German and she was Russian.

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Our Table at the Shabbat Dinner

John volunteered to do the blessing on the wine.

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Shabbat Dinner Blessing the Wine

Ah, dinner.  Not a lot of protien, but I survived.

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Shabbat Dinner

Tomorrow is church.  Shabbat has started.

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Singing is Mandatory

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is our destination today.  A good healthy breakfast is what’s required for a visit to Masada.  (My heel is killing me.  I’m hoping I’m not a slow-down for the group.)

The breakfast here is different for Americans.  They eat salad for breakfast, however, salad to them is chopped cucumbers and tomatoes.  They also have chocolate/hazelnut spread on bread, boiled eggs and apples or oranges.


Our Abraham Hostel Dining Room

Yes, that is a foosball table in the background.


The hostel in Jerusalem is pretty low budget.  You rinse your dishes and put them in the dishwasher racks.  Matt volunteered to do the dishes today.  (Matt’s a great guy.)


Matt Washing Dishes


Outside the window a Jew begins his day with morning prayer.

The view from the hostel isn’t the most picturesque, but it tells a story.  Below we load in to Jumpy for a trip down to the lowest place on earth – – the Dead Sea.


Jumpy Getting Loaded

Sea Level

As you drive from Jerusalem you drop down to a valley.  It is dry, desert land.  Part way down the mountain is a sea level marker.  It’s a good place to stop for a picture or two.

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Becca, Matt, John and Linda at Sea Level

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Me at Sea Level

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Sushi the Camel

Each time I visit here I see Sushi the Camel and his owner.  This is the guy’s full time business, and this is his location.

When we reached the bottom of the valley, guess what?

We saw an entire herd of camels!

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Herd of Camels

Baptismal Site

I remember incorrectly.  I thought the baptismal site was quite a ways from the main highway from Jerusalem going east.  We drove to it first.

There are many improvements since I was here two years ago.  The road is paved all the way.  Before it was dirt.  While there are signs warning about mines, there are fewer.

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Becca, Linda and John and a Mine Field

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John at the Gates of a Church with Landmines

The water’s edge has been set up to accommodate tourist as well as people wanting to be baptized.  I found it interesting so many people were baptizing themselves.  They put on a white shift, entered the water, and dipped down.

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Becca and Matt at the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ

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John and Linda at the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ

to be continued…

Christmas Day 2016

Christmas Day 2016

It’s Christmas Day 2016 and I’m up early to fix breakfast for the full-time missionaries.  I’m creating a breakfast sandwich bar with eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, hash browns, 3 types of cheeses, various sauces, and 4 types of bread (including San Francisco Sour Dough).  No surprise, but the Elders were on time. (There’s food involved.)

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Missionaries: Elders Smith and Mills, Sisters Larson, Ingersoll, Crofts and Barrett

After breakfast we retired to the sitting room.  Each missionary was given a stocking full of goodies that missionaries can use (and not a bunch of candy.)  A hair comb, toothbrush, mittens, stocking cap, socks, hand sanitizer, and more filled their stockings.

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Sisters Crofts and Barrett ready to open their stockings


They moved church to 11am today because it is Christmas.  It was soooo noisy before church started I couldn’t hear the organ.  I guess it was all the Christmas excitement.

They choir sang and they had several special musical numbers.  Of course, the hymns all had to do with the birth of the Savior — including the Sacrament Hymn – Jesus Once of Humble Birth (my favorite sacrament hymn).

After Church

After church we came home and took a nap.  When we woke, Elizabethe and I exchanged presents.  I gave her her lap desk I made.  She was very excited about it.

Elizabeth gave me a tiny LED camera on the end of a 16 foot cord.  I plan to use it when doing repairs in hard to see places.  She also gave me a speed light for my Fujifilm cameras, however, it isn’t here yet so she gave me a picture of it.  In addition, she gave me some Cokin filters with wallets to hold them.


Easter Morn

Easter Morn

That Easter morn a grave that burst
Proclaimed to man that “Last and First”
Had ris’n again
And conquered pain.

This morn renews for us that day
When Jesus cast the bonds away,
Took living breath
And conquered death.

Thus we in gratitude recall
And give our love and pledge our all,
Shed grateful tear
And conquer fear.

Marion D. Hanks


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My Rendition of the Tomb Before Jesus’ Body was Placed Inside

One of my favorite hymns and one appropriate on this Easter Morn.  Of course, I played it for prelude and we also sang it as one of the hymns in Sacrament Meeting.

Jennifer and her family were coming to dinner, but they got delayed in their travels.  So, we fed the sister missionaries and just as they were about to leave, Jennifer’s family showed up.

After they ate dinner, it was so nice outside, we decided to go to Hill Cumorah for a walk.


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Hiking the Hill

We got up to the top of the hill and Texas found the RAMEUMPTUM!  (Okay, not really, but it was fun pretending.)

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The Rameumptum

By the time we got home I was ready to call it a day.  It was a lovely ending to this sacred day.

Day 2 and Snowing

Day 2 and Snowing

Here it is day 2 and snowing.  Yes, it is day 2 of 2016 and it is snowing.

It doesn’t feel like a Saturday.  These Friday holidays confuse the mind and body.  Yesterday felt more like a Saturday, and now I feel like today should be a Sunday, but because it isn’t it feels like a Monday, and wow… talk about messing with one’s mind.

Even though it is snowed today, it doesn’t feel very cold.  Last I check the thermometer it was about 34F.  I just don’t want a lot of snow when it comes time to go to church tomorrow.

We rented a Redbox movie – M.I.5 Rouge Nation.  It was pretty good.  Of course, most Mission impossible movies are good.  They are better than that Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.

How Jesus Looked

You know, it really doesn’t matter how Jesus looked.  However, I grow tired of the posts from people who obviously don’t understand a few things about the Jews around that time.  First, he wasn’t an Arab — he was a Jew.  His mother was a Jew which meant she would have been able to show her genealogy (which the scriptures show).  Thus, he would have been a descendant from Isaac, not Ishmael, which meant he would have had fair skin (descendants of Isaac), not dark skin (like descendants of Ishmael).  But, that’s only 1/2 his DNA.  The other 1/2 came from God, our Heavenly Father.

That said, unless these folks have seen the Father, they can’t really comment on what Jesus looked like.  And, Jesus himself has said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father…”

Wow.  Can’t get any clearer than that.

Perhaps he was speaking symbolically, or perhaps he was being literal.  Either way, Mary wasn’t a Arab, and God the Father… well, who’s qualified to comment on what he looks like?  Who?  Jesus.




The Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of accommodations.  Not of accommodating sins, but the sinner.  Not one of accommodating changes to the teaching of Christ, but accommodating the changes an individual makes when they strive to live Christ’s teachings.

I thought about this after going to the temple to night.  Our shift coordinator made changes to the schedule to accommodate my needs.  I was made to feel comfortable and needed.

The world would have the Gospel conform to their standards.  That’s not accommodation – that’s subjugating.  Likewise, the Gospel doesn’t subjugate, but preaches patience, love, kindness, and most of all moral agency.

I had an interesting discussion with one of the temple missionaries. It turns out they went to the movies yesterday too and saw the same previews.  His comment was along the lines of mine… it was all about what is wrong with this world.

It is too bad people don’t understand the ultimate outcome.  I like what Elder Holland said…

“The FUTURE of this world has long been DECLARED; the final outcome between GOOD and evil is already KNOWN. There is absolutely no question as to who WINS because the VICTORY has already been posted on the SCOREBOARD. The only really strange thing is all of this is that we are still down here on the FIELD trying to decide which TEAM’S JERSEY we want to wear!”

Speaking of the temple, the 2016 schedule features one of my photographs…

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Featured Photo on 2016 Palmyra Temple Schedule


We’re still dealing with leftovers.  I think I need to learn how to scale my cooking quantity down so we don’t end up with so many leftovers.  I think that will start by dividing the meats before we freeze them.  One pound of ground beef is going to have to become two half-pound packages.  However, that’s hard to do with canned or bottled items.

Jesus Wasn’t a Socialist

Socialist:  Jesus Wasn’t One

Folks, Jesus wasn’t a socialist, and anyone who implies he was doesn’t know what socialism is, or doesn’t understand the teachings of Jesus.  I saw a meme today that implied that he was.  How rediculous.  And, before someone gets their knickers in a bunch, it is quite easy to explain why.

Let’s start with the definition of socialism (from Wikipedia):

Socialism is a political ideology and movement that seeks to improve society and social conditions. As a social and economic system, is characterised by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production, as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system.

A socialist is someone who practices socialism.

Here’s where that meme falls apart…

  1. Jesus wasn’t part of a political ideology or movement.  He was God’s son, sent to do the will of the Father.  He was probably the least political person to walk the face of the earth.  When someone attempted to trick him, his reply was straightforward, “Render therefore unto Caesar.”
  2. While be sought to improve society and conditions, he did so through the needs of the individual.
  3. Jesus did not encourage social ownership.  In fact, he instructed some to “sell everything” and to “come follow me”.

Socialist would have you believe that government (or big business) is the best caregiver.  We see socialistic implementation in our own society.  Military and police being the obvious implementations and actually needed to maintain security and protection.  Neither one being anything Jesus got involved with.

However, when it comes to caring for the sick, afflicted, the fatherless or the widow, Jesus didn’t demand others do it.  He did it himself.  He set the example of service.

Yesterday in the High Priest Group, I led a discussion about the Savior and having a Christ centered life.   At no point did I ever feel that Jesus Christ was a radical socialist.  It just didn’t fit the teachings of Christ.

Socialism requires a level of authoritarianism, and if that doesn’t work, it requires totalitarianism.  (Case in point – Cuba.)  In order for socialism to work, there have to be sanctions or penalties if people don’t conform.  Nowhere do I read in the scriptures that Jesus Christ’s behavior was that of an authoritarian or totalitarian.  In fact, his example was just the opposite.

When confronted by a rich man regarding what rich man needed to do to be saved, Christ told him, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

There was no penalty or sanction involved.  Jesus left he decision to the man.

Joseph Smith was in Nauvoo and visited by a reporter.  Impressed with the industry of the saints, Joseph Smith was asked how he did it.  His reply was simple, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”

Smith’s summary of how the Savior taught says it all.  Socialism is a do-it-or-else situation, where true christianity is do-what-is-right-let-the-consequence-follow.

It is best said in the hymn’s chorus:

Do what is right; let the consequence follow.
Battle for freedom in spirit and might;
And with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow.
God will protect you; then do what is right!
Nope, Jesus wasn’t a socialist.  He definitely wasn’t a communist, nor were his actions totalitarian or authoritarian in nature.  He was a servant to all who needed him.


Instead of thinking socialism is a cure-all for societies ills, imagine what the world would be like if every person were to (on their own accord) pick out 4 households (non-relatives) and visit them and see that they are cared for?

Imagine what a difference that would make in the world.  Nope, that wouldn’t be socialism, but I bet it would make a bigger impact than a government-ran program ever could.

Leaving Tomorrow

Leaving Tomorrow

It is hard to believe we are leaving tomorrow.  This week has been both long and short.  Long because we’ve seen so much, and short because time simply flies.  We are leaving tomorrow night to head home.

I took an early morning sunrise walk along the shores of Galilee today.  It is a humbling experience to walk the shores where Jesus walked.  I’m a bit sad that I’m leaving tomorrow, but I do miss my wife.

The song I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked ran through my head.  I remember Verna Meyers used to sing that often back when we were in the Lake Natoma Ward.  “I walked today where Jesus walked and felt his presence near.”

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He Lives!

I love the breakfast here at the Keredeshia Hostel.  Pickled salmon or herring. yogurt, eggs, fresh fruit and veggies and a variety of breads and fruit preserves.  Best breakfast buffet around.

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Our first stop today was where Jesus taught the Beatitudes.  On the terraced hills above the Sea of Galilee 5000 people gathered and were fed with 5 loaves and two fishes.

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At the Church of the Beatitudes

We next headed across to the west to Nazareth.  It was there that Jesus grew up.  It was there he declared in the synagogue that he was the Messiah.  It was also there where they were going to take him, throw him off a cliff and stone him, but he escaped from their midsts.

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Mt. Precipus

It was also in Nazareth that Gabriel (Noah) appeared to Mary to announce her role in our Heavenly Father’s grand plan.

We then cut across country, through narrow windy roads, and up to the top of Mt. Tabor.  Known also as the Mount of Transfiguration, it was here that  Moses and Elijah appeared.  Important keys were bestowed.

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We hit Tiberius right around dinner time and we headed to the local shwarma shop for our daily dose of shwarma.

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It’s Chanukah and there are huge minoras everywhere.  This was was at a big intersection and the rabbi had just lit it.