Monday, September 29, 2008

A taste of things to come [3]

This time Greg and John are at the ancient Jewish fortress of Masada.

Life of Jesus update from Masada from CPX on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A taste of things to come [2]

Greg and John's backdrop this time is a busy street in old Jerusalem. Their story of visiting a Dead Sea resort will have you smiling. I wonder what music will be playing when we go there?

Life of Jesus update from Jerusalem streets from CPX on Vimeo.

A taste of things to come [1]

Sydneysiders, John Dickson and Greg Clarke, from the Centre for Public Christianity, are currently in Israel filming a follow-up to "The Christ Files". This time they're looking at the life of Jesus, and I think you'll find their video updates great viewing, especially as they're from the very places we'll be visiting in just a few weeks.

In this first one, from the lookout on the Mount of Olives with a spectacular vista behind, they share their excitement at actually being in Jerusalem and being able to walk where Jesus did.

Life of Jesus update from Mount of Olives from CPX on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Let's just talk about the weather...

Will it be warm and sunny?
Or cold and wet?
Will we need to pack warm clothes?

Wet weather gear?

Sun protection?


The answer is - yes, all of the above, in my humble opinion. From our side of the world it's not easy to make decisions about what clothes to take for this transitional season. After a long hot summer, rain usually refreshes Israel around the end of October, while Jerusalem could be cool at night, and Petra quite hot in the middle of the day.
To make it easier for you to plan, I've just added some new widgets to our blog. Scroll down to see them on the right hand side. Along with the clocks showing the local time in Jerusalem and Amman (both the same!) you'll find the current weather, as well as forecasts for every day next week week in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Amman.
These will automatically update each day. As our departure date approaches we'll be able to keep an eye on the weather pattern and I hope it will make it easier for us to choose what to take when the time comes to pack our bags.
Interestingly, we've had quite similar weather here in Sydney over the last few days. - our spring, their autumn.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Is the New Testament History?

Can we take what we read in the New Testament as a true account of events?

Did Jesus really exist? Or is the Jesus we read about in the New Testament a figment of the imagination?

What do non-Christian writers of the 1st century have to say about Jesus?

Were the New Testament writers eyewitnesses?

Have the original writings been doctored over the years - or can we still trust their accuracy?

Paul Barnett (Bishop of North Sydney 1990-2001) answers these and other questions in his very readable book, "Is the New Testament History?".

However, if you'd like to hear Paul in person he'll be speaking on this very subject this Sunday afternoon, 21st September, at St Mark's Darling Point (5.30pm - 6.30pm), as part of our 2008 Spring School.

He's a superb teacher and communicator, responsible for my own exciting introduction to Israel as a member of his 1995 Biblelands tour, and I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say this Sunday, confident that it will be a really helpful background for our trip.

Boak has several copies of "Is the New Testament History?" if you'd like to borrow one, or you can purchase your own this Sunday at the Spring School.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

On our first full day in Israel we'll visit Neot Kedumim Biblical Reserve

Much more than a Biblical garden, Neot Kedumim is 625 acres of nature reserve where actual landscapes have been recreated to show how the Bible's writers have used concrete images from their surroundings to give their messages added resonance.

And the developers have literally created it from nothing! Take a look at the "before" and "after" photos here. They trucked in tonnes and tonnes of rich soil to cover a barren and ravaged landscape and, in the absence of irrigation, even hand-watered the first tender plantings.

Even the wildlife has been introduced to the area because it was previously so degraded that few species could be sustained. What a difference 30 years of dedication has made.

Threshing floors, olive presses, cisterns, sundials and water wheels are not part of our everyday life but at Neot Kedumin we'll see exactly what they look like - and maybe even get some hands-on experience!

We'll see cedars of Lebanon, hyssop, oak and terabinth trees, and come to grasp the nuances of their Biblical imagery, and springs of water, pastures, crops of wheat, olives, figs, and wildlife will all bring the Bible's language alive for us in ways we could formerly only have imagined.

Feeling peckish? Take a look at some of the dishes we might expect for our Biblical-style lunch.
Looks delicious, doesn't it?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Our journey starts here

Here is an aerial view of the place where we'll first set foot in the land where Jesus walked - Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport (from one of my favourite play-things, Google Earth).

Enjoy the sight now because it will be dark when we arrive and are whisked off to our hotel for a welcome sleep after the flight.