Saturday, August 13, 2011

[photo: Iron Age gate at Tel Dan; courtesy of BiblePlaces]

Here are a few things I learned in leading this, my fourth, trip to Israel.

1. Be passionate & excited and that will contagiously affect the tourists.

Not that I have to confess that I am not passionate about going to Israel; I am! But I heard people say that because the guide enjoys the land so much and gets so excited over some 'rocks' and 'hills' (if you have been to Israel you know what I'm talking about), then it excites the travelers as well.

2. Be willing to say: "I don't know."

I'm not a professional tour guide. Nor do I claim to be. I have studied and I have lived in Israel but there are still (many!) things I just still don't know. And when folks ask questions that I don't know the answer to, it is better to confess my ignorance and say: "I don't know" rather than to pontificate on something I don't have any idea about and then be proven wrong later.

3. Gift shops are overrated and the shopping can be done on the last day of the trip.

Many tours spend time—a lot of time—in gift shops. But not ours. In fact, I deliberately tell my people that I will give them plenty of time to shop in Jerusalem at the conclusion of the trip. But till then, we run from site to site rather than *waste* time in every gift shop along the way.

4. Take the Bible and read from the Bible at *every* site possible.

It is amazing how many so-called Christian tours travel through the land of Israel and never open their Bibles and read through the Scriptures at the sites. Some merely talk about it or make reference to the Scriptures. But one thing that I have found to be so necessary is to take our Bibles and read the accounts at each site (even if they are long accounts!). The people love it and it is a great witness to others who come and listen to us read various passages (e.g., the entire Sermon on the Mount—Matt 5-7—from the Mt. of Beatitudes).

5. Be Gospel-centered and Christ-exalting at all times.

It is hot, dry, and tiring to travel through Israel. This is why the fruit of the Spirit is so necessary—especially amongst an evangelical group! Furthermore, there are those on the tour and those who sit & listen from other groups who can hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and the biblical significance at each site. Therefore, take advantage of every opportunity to *preach Christ* from the entirety of Scripture. Exalt Him!

Soon I'll post a few highlights of the trip for me. But now, off to sermon prep for Deut 8.


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