It’s been on your ‘bucket list’ for a while. It’s time. Let’s see Israel together in 2023.

October 8 to 20, 2023.

You are invited to join Linda and me for a Bible Study Tour in The Land. This is an adventure where we will uniquely experience this special place. We will hike. We will feel the breezes coming off the seas and laugh as we are splashed by cool water in the desert. We will walk along rolling meadows and rocky crags. We will taste amazing foods. We will hear rushing waterfalls and the quiet prayers of men and women at the Western Wall.

Each day we’ll open the Word of God in about six different locations. We’ll read the Text. We’ll look around. God will speak to all of us in a very special way. Our hearts will be changed forever.

And yes, we will walk where Jesus walked.

The Sea of Galilee. The Mediterranean. Jordan River. Capernaum.

Jerusalem. Mount of Olives. Mt. Arbel. Jericho. Bethlehem.

Dead Sea. Qumran. Ein Gedi. Massada.

We’ll see The Land “from Dan to Beersheba, and from the Great Sea to the Jordan River.”



ITINERARY

Day 1, October 8.
Travel to Israel on Turkish Airlines through Istanbul, Turkey.


Day 2, October 9.
The Central Plains, the Shephelah. Jewish culture overview. Samson. David and Goliath.


Days 3-5, October 10-11-12.

Southern Desert. Ein Gedi. The Dead Sea. Qumran. Massada. Camel ride. Our three-night stay is in a four-star hotel overlooking the Dead Sea.


Days 4-6, October 13-14-15.

Travel north up the Jordan River, through Jericho to the Sea of Galilee Region. Mount of Beatitudes. Capernaum. Bethesda. Chorazin. Mt. Arbel. The Syrian border. Boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. We stay three nights at a working kibbutz where you can enjoy your morning coffee along the water’s edge.


Day 7, October 16.

Bet Shean. Mt. Carmel. Caesaria. Armageddon. Bethlehem.


Days 8-10, October 17-18-19.

Jerusalem. Mount of Olives. Garden of Gethsemane. Via de la Rosa. Church of Holy Selplecher. Temple Mount. Rampart walls walk. Yad Vashem. We’ll explore the ancient underground tunnels and walk on top of the walls of the Old City. We will stay three nights in a four-star hotel in Jerusalem.


Day 11, October 20.

Fly home from Tel Aviv, through Istanbul, Turkey. Thankful for all God has revealed to your heart while in The Land.


Total costs are to be finalized by November 2022, but at this time are estimated to be around $5,000 per person, all-inclusive (airfare from a major U.S. hub, 4-star hotel accommodations, fabulous food and dining, ground transportation, special excursions, tips — everything!).

We will host a Zoom info meeting in early October 2022 which will cover all your questions. Additionally, you can go to the GTI website, here, for more details, photos, packing lists, and stories. And click here for our trip blog from 2019. Or here for the trip blog from 2013.

We’d really love to begin to gather names of folks who might be interested in journeying with us to Israel. So, please send an email to rich@richlyspeaking.com to make sure you’re kept in the loop and invited to the Zoom call. Being on the call doesn’t commit you to anything!

This will be my sixth time exploring Israel. Like opening the Word, I learn something new each time.

We look forward to seeing you in The Land!

Shalom!

Redemption on the Day of Pentecost

GOD REDEEMS 3,000 SOULS — A LESSON FROM JERUSALEM’S SOUTHERN STEPS

There are steps in Jerusalem that used to lead to the Temple at the top of Mt. Zion. Thirty-one of them are still there. A wall blocks the remainder. You can visit them today. In Jesus’ day, the steps led all the way up to the main level of the Temple Mount. Everyone walked up these steps. Likely Jesus did. Often.

Many believe on these very steps, the Church was born. It is where the New Testament church received its power.

Continue reading Redemption on the Day of Pentecost

Should Your Spouse ‘Complete’ You? No.

Happy Valentine’s Day! This is the one day that universally celebrates love and marriage! Yay!

I read with interest this week an article entitled “Your Spouse Should Complete You — What it Means to Become One.” You can read it here. Humbly, I must take exception to this common misconception that sounds good in theory but can be harmful to Christian marriages.

There’s a new book about marriage written by Greg Smalley and Robert Paul. You can find it here. It’s called “9 Lies That Will Destroy Your Marriage And The Truths That Will Save It And Set It Free.” This book has turned a bright spotlight on falsehoods that many of us have believed for years … lies that have led to confusion about the expectations we all bring into marriage.

God wants us to have a thriving, life-giving marriage! Yet many find it a challenge to get there. Why? Because it’s impossible to live up to the myths noted in the book, such as “they lived happily ever after” and “you must meet each other’s needs.” When couples realize they cannot fulfill these expectations, it leads many to doubt the success of their own marriage. It sets them up for unnecessary disappointment.

I’m not a marriage counselor. My wife and I have been married for 32 years. We’ve enjoyed our marriage, but we have also subscribed to some of the myths highlighted by Smalley and Paul.

Should I be expected to ‘complete’ my wife? No. It is in Christ where she finds her completeness. I am a sinner. I make mistakes every single day. I’m not divine.

God help her if she has to find her ‘completeness’ in me.

I was in full time pastoral ministry for a number of years and had the honor and privilege to perform many weddings. As a component of the wedding ceremony, I frequently suggested the lighting of the “unity candle.” This is where the bride and groom take their respective candles and jointly light a new candle together. You may have done this at your wedding. This is a nice picture of the “two becoming one” theme. But then, here’s the lie that I didn’t realize I was promoting: The couple blows out their individual candles. To me as a pastor, it was just an element of the 30-minute marriage ceremony. But looking back, I see that that simple action might have subconsciously suggested to the new husband and the new wife that they were expected to extinguish their own identities for the sake of the new marriage.

That is far from the truth of what I believe is God’s intent for a healthy marriage. A husband and wife complement each other, certainly. They fulfill dreams together, yes definitely. But should marriage ‘complete’ them? Not at all. Each one of us is completed through our own individual relationship with Jesus.

“For in Him lives all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all authority and power.”
Colossians 2:9‭-‬10

Should I be expected to ‘complete’ my wife? No. It is in Christ where she finds her completeness. I am a sinner. I make mistakes every single day. I’m not divine. God help her if she has to find her ‘completeness’ in me.

And how about singles? What about the 15-year-old who is radically on fire for Christ? Is he incomplete because he is not yet married? How about the 90-year-old prayer warrior and Bible scholar who has been widowed for more than 35 years. Is she incomplete? How about the 32-year-old Jesus follower whose husband just died in a tragic accident. Is she suddenly incomplete?

No. No. No.

My wife’s Godly responsibility is to encourage me, pray for me, love me, help me bear my burdens, walk with me, and help me understand that I am complete in Christ alone. And to be clear, my responsibility as her husband is to do the same. On her own she is a child of God (John 1:12). She was created in His image (Genesis 1:27). She is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). She has a beautiful inheritance (Ephesians 1:14). We lovingly affirm these truths to each other.

With all humility, I suggest we stop promoting this narrative that insists that spouses are the ones that are responsible for ‘completing’ their mates. We each find our completeness only in a relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

(c) 2021. Rich Ronald.

You are the gem of God’s garden.

This is my mother-in- law’s passion flower. The detail is exquisite! It just takes your breath away. Did you know that each bloom only lasts a single day to enjoy its beauty? And surprisingly there’s not a whole lot of blooms on the vine. Maybe just one each week. When they appear the whole family receives them with the joy God intended when He created these elegant garden gems.

Today we were blessed with two blooms! They’ll be gone tomorrow. But this day was their day to shine in all their splendor.

Reminds me of the words of Jesus:

“Can worry make you live longer? Why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow. They don’t work hard to make their clothes. But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn’t as well clothed as one of them. God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. God will surely do even more for you!” (Matthew 6:27‭-‬30, CEV).

We need not worry. God is the Master Gardner. We are all His passion flowers. If we take the time to look at the details in our life, we will see that His beauty shines in and through all of His children. And I’m so thankful we get more than just a single day, aren’t you? We are created in His image! He loves to bless us.

May you bloom in all the extravagance of God’s beauty today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, and…

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Get Outside!

View from McAfee’s Knob along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.

Just read an article that says literally “the best thing you can do right now is to take a hike.”

I’m all for that! It’s outside, in the fresh air. You are generally at a safe distance from others. It’s a simple form of exercise at your own pace. It will help clear your mind.

And, you can simultaneously pray…

Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

This great pandemic did not surprise God. We can trust Him to bring us peace and calm as we look to Him.

(This pic is from a hike this past Saturday along the Appalachian Trail.)

#peace #bestill #Godiswithus #takeahike #getoutside #appalachiantrail #mcafeesknob #zephaniah317

Isaiah 58. A Light Shining Like the Dawn of a New Day.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 58.

Another wow and convicting chapter. Let me encourage you to read it directly for yourself today. It’s just 14 verses.

God, through the prophet, is asking us to examine ourselves, to look at the motivations of our own heart. How often do we do spiritual things for the show of it and then complain, wonder and ask why He hasn’t answered our prayers? When talking about the spiritual discipline of fasting, for example,

“Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after? A day to show off humility?” (v5, MSG).

I’m reminded of a time when I was once asked, “What is the one thing you want to be remembered for long after you are gone?” With my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, I replied, “My humility.”

Have you ever engaged in the spiritual discipline of fasting? There have been times when I have refrained from food for my situation, for my breakthrough. Here the prophet says, no, the goal of fasting is not for our benefit: “I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD. Remove the chains of prisoners who are bound unjustly, free those who are abused.” (v6, CEV).

Then… then when your heart is in the right place, when we are focused not on ourselves but on what God wants, then… “Then your light will shine like the dawning sun, and you will quickly be healed. Your honesty will protect you as you advance, and the glory of the LORD will defend you from behind.” (v8, CEV).

God reminds us of His faithfulness, how He will provide life-giving water in the dry lands. This occurs when we give of ourselves first and put His ways above our ways; when we give food to the hungry and care for the homeless, for example. When we pray for others, even our enemies, before we pray for ourselves.

One of the other ways we honor Him is via worship:

“But first, you must start respecting the Sabbath as a joyful day of worship. You must stop doing and saying whatever you please on this special day. Then you will truly enjoy knowing the Lord. He will let you rule from the highest mountains and bless you with the land of your ancestor Jacob. The Lord has spoken!” (v13‭-‬14, CEV).

Indeed. The Lord has spoken. A good word from Isaiah 58 today!

 

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 39. Whatever happens, keep thanking God.

Even during a spring storm in the Midwest… keep thanking God. From 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 39.

“Hezekiah replied to Isaiah, “Good. If God says so, it’s good.” Within himself he was thinking, “But surely nothing bad will happen in my lifetime. I’ll enjoy peace and stability as long as I live.”” (v8, MSG).

This is Hezekiah’s reply to what one might think was bad news. Isaiah has just warned Hezekiah that God says that one day there will be nothing left in the kings’ palace. And that even his sons will be enslaved in Babylon.

Yet Hezekiah has this amazing attitude: “If God says so, it’s good.”

No matter if it appears to be possible bad news, if God is in it, it is all good!

And that really is the truth, you know? It’s all good. We can’t have a bad day when we’ve given the day to the Lord. We might have challenging situations, we might be facing trials, storms, unemployment, hunger or grave illness, but we have a choice. We can allow them to be opportunities to see God’s glory and grace.

This is similar to the advice Paul gives to the believers in Thessalonica: “Always be joyful and never stop praying. Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18, CEV.) There is great power in giving thanks. And that’s what Hezekiah was doing. And it’s what we are to do as well.

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

 

Isaiah 26

Since returning from another amazing trip to Israel a few weeks ago, I thought it would be good to once again read through the prophet Isaiah. It’s so rich with visions of hope for the children of God and, yes, warnings about the future.

Today’s passages are filled with great promises!

“The Lord gives perfect peace to those whose faith is firm. So always trust the Lord because he is forever our mighty rock.”
Isaiah 26:3‭-‬4 CEV
You see that? “Perfect peace.” Ah… “Mighty Rock!”

Then there’s this encouraging word to persevere:

“People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit. Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.”
Isaiah 26:4-5 MSG

Two times he says “keep at it.” We must keep our minds set on God and our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). How many misunderstandings would we avoid if we kept our minds on the things that matter most to God instead of those things that matter most to us?

For those facing trials, there’s this:

“Our Lord, you always do right, and you make the path smooth for those who obey you. You are the one we trust to bring about justice; above all else we want your name to be honored.”
Isaiah 26:7‭-‬8 CEV

Finally, can this be our prayer?

“Who you are and what you’ve done are all we’ll ever want.”
Isaiah 26:8 MSG

Can we be content in God alone? I believe when we seek Him with all our heart, we’ll always find His peace. Even today.

God Never Fails.

God will help you catch your breath.
You’ll find God right there.

God Never Fails. I’m pretty sure I’ve written that before. Maybe multiple times. But it’s worth repeating. Over and over again.

God never fails.

We fail, right?

Can I assure you, however, that for those who trust God and who follow Jesus that it’s okay to fail. I believe we all actually need to have at least one moment in our life, or multiple moments in our life, where we we fail… where we are broken… where we take all of the burdens we’ve been carrying and finally fall to our knees at the foot of the Cross and say, “Here, Jesus. I can’t do this anymore.” I believe we all need to get to that point where we stop kidding ourselves that we can be self-dependent and we fully cross the line to being dependent on God and God alone.

For me personally, I could share story after story where I was so broken that I just couldn’t carry the load any longer.  They include:

      • Each of the six times my employer at the time decided to change directions without me.
      • Too many times to count when parenting teenagers or adult children.
      • And the recent death of my Mom.

On each occasion, my knees couldn’t hit the floor quick enough. Did I fail or did my situation fail me? No matter. I couldn’t bear the weight alone.

The strongest people are those who fail… who acknowledge that they are weak and empty.

One of the greatest, strongest people of all time was Israel’s King David. He writes, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there.”  Then, look at the word picture painted by the Message translation: “If you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath.” (Psalm 34:18 MSG). What an encouraging image!

Even when bad things happen to good people, God is there for you. Every time.

Perhaps your tending to a broken heart? Perhaps you’ve wondered where is the promised victory of the Christian life? In Luke 4 Jesus says the whole reason He came was to heal the brokenhearted, to release the captives and to bring sight to the blind. No matter what broke your heart, no matter what is holding you captive, no matter that you can’t seem to see your way out of your situation, can I assure you that Jesus came for you.

You may have failed, but you are not a failure! Take time, maybe even right now, to tell God that you need Him. Admit that you can’t carry this burden on your own. Tell Him that you’ll trust Him.

And then… do it. Lay your burden down and trust Him.  Cross that bridge and breathe in the air of a new found freedom and peace.  Jesus is waiting to help you catch your breath!

 

(c) Rich Ronald. 2019

So Good.

God is kind, but he’s not soft.

What is something that is “so good” you can’t live without it? You may recall the old ketchup TV ad that used a creative pun to promote their condiment as being “slowwww gooood.”

During the summer months some may have a favorite vacation spot that is “so good!” Others might find it to be an escape with a book or movie that is “so good.”

For the Believer, truly God is so, so good to us. He really is!

The Bible is full of promises of the goodness of God. But here’s the thing: God’s goodness does not depend on our goodness. Thanks to His grace, there  is nothing we have to do to earn His goodness.

Paul says it this way: But you cannot make God accept you because of something you do; God accepts sinners only because they have faith in Him. (Romans 4:5 MSG).

God also confirms His goodness through the writings of Solomon: God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. (Lamentations 3:25 MSG)

So, goodness comes to the faithful who wait, to those who seek.

Why is God good to us? Again from Paul:  God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness He takes us by the hand and leads us into a radical life change. (Romans 2:4 MSG)

That’s why He is good to us! It’s not just for the sake of our happiness or joy. No, God is good to us because He wants to see radical life change in us. He wants us to let Him guide us and lead us to true transformation!

And then, as we are inspired to grow, we can have an impact on those around us.  Think about it. If a group of people is inspired to accept God’s goodness, be led by Him, be more like Him, be transformed by Him, that group can collectively have a God-sized impact on the community in which they live. And that’s where God’s goodness get exciting!

You may be feeling like He is distant or ignoring you right now.  The key is to have the faith to believe, to passionately wait and to diligently seek.

You will see Him. And you will see that God is so, so good.

 

(c) Rich Ronald. 2019.