How a Helicopter Ride Over Israel Surprised Me

One moment especially gave a jaw-dropping spiritual perspective.

In producing a video years ago, I discovered it cost a lot to use a mere minute of aerial video of Israel. I did the math and realized we could get a ton more aerial footage if we rented a helicopter and did it ourselves.

How a Helicopter Ride Over Israel Stupefied Me

(Photo: Just before takeoff)

A friend of mine sat by the pilot with one camera, and I hung out the side of the chopper with another camera—like a door gunner in Vietnam. I had only a seat belt between me and Jesus. In about four hours we flew over most of Israel, and the cameras only stopped rolling to change film or when our helicopter needed refueling.

I’d like to share some of the video we shot—as well as a surprising spiritual perspective I gained from the experience.

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The Feast of Booths—When You Want Heaven Now

(And why your road to glory has splinters.)

The Feast of Booths, or Sukkot, provided a time to remember how God had delivered His people from bondage and how He had provided for them in the wilderness. It looked back at deliverance, but it also looked forward to something else—to Messiah.

The Feast of Booths—When You Want Heaven Now

(Photo: Crowds at the Western Wall at Sukkot, the Feast of Booths. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Building tabernacles or “booths” (Hebrew sukkot) was nothing new for the Jews (Lev. 23:34, 42-43). The act served as a mandatory memorial of God’s faithfulness in the wilderness. At Sukkot, every seven years on the sabbatical year, the Law was read in the hearing of all Israel (Deut. 31:10-11).

The Bible refers to the holiday by several other names:

  • The Feast of the Harvest (Exod. 23:16)
  • The Feast of Ingathering (Exod. 34:22)
  • The feast of the Lord (Lev. 23:39)
  • The feast (1 Ki. 8:2; 2 Chron. 7:8-9; John 7:37)

In light of the world’s ugliness, it’s tempting to hole up on some mountain and just wait for God to come get us. In fact, it was the Feast of Booths Peter had in mind when he made exactly that request to Jesus.

We may not know it, but we often ask for the same thing.

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What You Must Have Before You’ll Have Success

Jesus spoke words of encouragement for moments just like these.

Most of us Christians have experienced those incredible moments of intimacy with God when we have no yearning for any earthly success, much less for sin. Christ becomes our entire desire.

What You Must Have Before You'll Have Success

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

In those times, we make impassioned commitments of absolute dedication. We really believe we have turned a corner in our spiritual lives.

But for some reason . . . it doesn’t last.

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Timna Park—A Portrait of Your Atonement on Yom Kippur

Enter a doorway to history—and view a picture of your salvation.

The best part of Timna Park is its least-known exhibit. Tucked away among the steep sandstone formations in Israel’s Arabah Valley sits a place most visitors never see.

Tabernacle model at Timna Park.

(Photo: Tabernacle model at Timna Park. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Timna Park’s best-known attraction is called “Solomon’s Pillars”—beautiful Nubian sandstone formations that have nothing to do with King Solomon. The park also features relics from Egyptian idolatry as well as interpretive signs about ancient copper mining. But the best part? A full-scale replica of the Tabernacle stands in the very wilderness where Moses and the children of Israel wandered for forty years.

It is like entering a doorway to history—and viewing a picture of your salvation.

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How To Abandon Selfishness without Abandoning Yourself

Jesus models 3 surprising solutions.

You and I suffer from a malady common to everyone. It’s the number one reason we hurt each another. It’s why children grab, pull, and scream. And, ironically, it’s often why we hurt ourselves. Selfishness.

3 Surprising Solutions for Your Selfishness

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

In Jesus’ day, people wore sandals, and the dusty roads produced dirty feet. When they entered a house, a servant customarily washed their filthy feet—a task akin to scrubbing toilets. When Jesus and His disciples came to the Upper Room, they came to the large upstairs room of a furnished home.

But when they arrived, no house servant washed their feet. I think Jesus arranged it that way.

Here’s why.

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What My Strip-Search Taught Me about Safety in Israel

How giving the naked truth offered an ironic twist.

I will never forget the day I got strip-searched in Israel. It scared the bejeebers out of me, embarrassed me—and it gave me a new take on safety in Israel.

What My Strip-Search Taught Me about Safety in Israel

(Photo by Photodune)

I traveled with Dr. Reg Grant and Dave Carl to the Holy Land to video the “Experience the Land and the Book DVD.” The trip went without a hitch until we got to the airport to head home. Reg and Dave made it through security just fine—and they proceeded to our gate.

But for some reason, the security officials detained me. They pulled me aside into a back room and told me to take off my clothes.

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Short Answers to Big Questions

Short Answers to Big Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity (Baker Books, 2015)

Good questions deserve good answers. They’re even better answers if they’re short ones. Clinton E. Arnold and Jeff Arnold have given us the best of both—short and good.

Their volume, Short Answers to Big Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity, begins where it must if we are to answer questions related to God, Christianity, and the Christian life. Questions about the Bible must first find good answers. Otherwise, we have no basis of authority for answering other questions.

Each of the 50 chapters in this excellent volume uses a question as its title—and a subject as it subtitle by way of a topical overview.