Friday, May 14, 2010

I'd Rather Be Home Than in Rome

Got back late last night from our extension trip to Rome. We had just a few extra days after Israel to see some of the historical and archaeological sights in "Imperial City" and I spent one "extra" night there due to an airlines scheduling conflict. That afforded me some time to photograph some of the bridges and historical sights at night. To top it off, it rained throughout the evening and the night which always makes nights shots much more appealing. At one time, though, I was stranded underneath one of the Tiber River bridges because of a downpour. Boy is Rome beautiful in the rain! I stayed out until 11pm getting pictures. Some are features here in this post.
Our last Bible Study together as a group was after touring the Colosseum and the Forum. At the end of the Forum lies the Mammertine Prison where Paul spent his final days before being executed in 67AD. Across form that prison is an ancient church with about 30 steps. We were able to sit there and consider Paul's journey to Rome after appealing to Caesar in Caesarea by the Sea near Tel Aviv, Israel. As we sat there, and sang and shared the word, we ended our wonderful trip to Israel and Rome. It was a great time, but the BEST was getting off the plane in Albuquerque and then walking in the front door of my house. Whats better than trip to Rome? The people that make your life HOME!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Israel and Rome

Overlooking the sight of the ancient Temple Mount in Jerusalem as the the day gives way to night.

The last two weeks marked my 32nd visit to Israel. Though I've been to these biblical sites since 1978 and seen the development of this nation over the past thirty years, I love seeing the transformation that happens to people who go on a tour with me to Israel. The land is beautiful and diverse; the people are a combination of sweet and tough; the biblical places are magnificent. But the best part of all is that one walks away with a deeper conviction in the veracity and power of the Bible and the Scriptures "come to life" well after the tour has ended. What one sees while being in the Land of the Bible helps correct and "focus" what one reads thereafter. We traveled from Joppa to Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee to the valley of Armageddon to Jerusalem. After our tour with 150 people, about 40 of us went to Rome for a few days and were able to have our closing Bible Study on the steps of a church that face the Mammertine Prison in Rome where Paul spent his final days before being sentenced at the Basilica Julia and then beheaded on the Apian Way outside the walls of Rome in 67AD. I only wish that Lenya, Nate and Janae could have ben my traveling companions. They stayed behind due to the circumstances of Nate's broken leg that still needs quite a bit of care. Here are some visual highlights:

The "Banias" river--the headwaters of the Jordan River that feeds all the land of Israel from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.

This is an entrance to a building in Old Joppa (where Jonah tried to run from God). Taken on a tripod with a long exposure to blur the people in the doorway and give them a ghostlike appearance.

A lone figure ascends the stairs of an ancient walkway in Old Jerusalem near the sight of where Jesus was condemned by Pilate.

Remains of the Roman City of Beth Shean where Kings Saul's bopdy was desecrated (New Testament Scythopolis of the New Testament, the capital of the Decapolis)

Inside one of the many ancient churches in Rome.