Jerusalem / Galilee / Oxford

Jerusalem 3

  • Stimulate the mind
  • Engage the heart
  • Fire up the imagination

That’s the assignment. But how? The answer might look different for someone else. But for me, it’s clear:

  • Jerusalem
  • Galilee
  • Oxford

So that’s the plan — the itinerary — for May, June, and July.  It’s going to be a special season of focused study, personal reflection, and spiritual development. I can’t wait.

Here is a basic principle of pastoral ministry: “You cannot impart what you do not posses.”  I heard this years ago from Alan Redpath, a man who spent a lifetime in pastoral ministry and spoke with a brilliant British accent to boot.  He was explaining to a group of young pastors, myself included, the only way to have something meaningful to share with others: make sure you have a steady stream of meaningful input in your own life.

So after 24 years of ministry at River West Church, our church leadership has encouraged me to carve out 3 months for personal input. My wife Maureen and I will be heading out together on this quest. My prayer is that the overflow of this season of input will be a blessing not only in my own life and marriage, but for the life of the church as well.

But why Jerusalem?

Jerusalem is the epicenter — the showcase of history. It’s history is more meaningful, intense, and colored with ongoing significance than anyplace else on earth. Jerusalem is brilliant with beauty, yet ever clouded with controversy.  Has there ever been a place of greater joy and sorrow, victory and defeat, or competing claims to truth and devotion?

Benjamin Disraeli put it like this:

“The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more; it is the history of heaven and earth.”

And in the Book of Psalms (137:5-6)

“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”

Or John Tleel (Jerusalem Quarterly)

“It’s not easy to be a Jerusalemite. A thorny path runs alongside its joys. The great are small inside the Old City. Popes, patriarchs, kings all remove their crowns. It is the city of the King of Kings; and earthly kings and lords are not its master. No human can ever possess Jerusalem.”

And finally, the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 13:34-35)

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!  Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

In the quest is to stimulate the mind; engage the heart; and fire up the imagination, there is no better place in all the world than the city of Jerusalem.

Next post: Galilee.