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Gethsemane and the Way of the Press

Posted by on Mar 28, 2019 in A HAPPY HOME, Blog, History by the Slice | 0 comments

We reached the Garden of Gethsemane after hiking down a winding, slippery road on the Mount of Olives, east of the Temple walls in Jerusalem. The pavement was so treacherous and the road so steep that we had to hold on to handrails as we weaved our way down. But we eventually made it to the traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane—a modest, walled-off garden with many old, stout olive trees. No one knows if this is the actual site of the garden, but it’s in the right general location, and it certainly fits the image. The age of the trees is unknown because olive trees do not have rings that mark off years like most trees. But carbon dating has estimated that some of them go back to the 1100s AD. The word “Gethsemane” means “oil press”...

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A Lion at the Gate

Posted by on Feb 21, 2019 in A HAPPY HOME, Blog, History by the Slice | 0 comments

I leaned back and stared up at the southeast corner of the Temple Mount, an imposing wall that loomed over us in the heart of Jerusalem. This corner of the Temple is where Satan is believed to have tempted Jesus as they stood on the pinnacle of the massive wall. “If you are the Son of God,” Satan said to Jesus, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Some argue that the southwest corner of the Temple Mount, not the southeast corner, would’ve been a more likely spot for this temptation, because there would’ve...

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The Jesus Boat

Posted by on Jan 7, 2019 in A HAPPY HOME, Blog, History by the Slice | 0 comments

Two fishermen, brothers Moshe and Yuval Lufan, trudged along the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel—the same body of water where Jesus’s disciples cast their nets. Moshe and Yuval kept their heads down, their eyes fixed on the muddy ground, searching for archaeological treasure. It was the winter of 1986, and a drought gripped the region, causing the Sea of Galilee to lower. The Lufan brothers were also amateur archaeologists, and they wondered if the receding lake would reveal any wondrous discoveries. It did. The brothers stumbled across the oval shape of what appeared to be a boat sunken in the mud along the edge of the Sea of Galilee. Excited by the possibilities, they called in experts, who carefully dug into the mud, uncovering one of the greatest archaeological finds in Israel’s history. They discovered...

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Netsers in Nazareth!

Posted by on Nov 29, 2018 in A HAPPY HOME, Blog, History by the Slice | 0 comments

My wife, Nancy, and I have lived in the same house now for 33 years, and we have no plans of ever moving. We’ve put down deep roots in central Illinois, where it’s hot and humid in the summer, and can be unbearably cold in the winter. Just thinking about the Arctic winters we experienced in the late 1970s and early ’80s makes my toes go numb. During the first year of our marriage, it once got down to a wind chill of minus 80 degrees, and the blizzard caused the University of Illinois to shut down for the first time in its history. Every so often, Nancy says we were crazy not to move someplace where it’s warm year-round when we were first married, before we put down roots. But now we have family, friends, and a church...

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It’s Not Easy Being Big

Posted by on Oct 17, 2018 in A HAPPY HOME, Blog, History by the Slice | 0 comments

The life of a giant is no piece of cake. I recently listened to a book about the making of the classic movie, The Princess Bride, which featured a humongous actor known as André the Giant. André was a gentle giant, according to the book’s writer, Cary Elwes, who played a lead role in the movie. André stood 7 feet, 4 inches tall, and weighed 520 pounds. But all of that bulk left him with an aching back. Imagine how your body would feel if you carried an extra 300 pounds around with you every day. It was difficult for Andre to fit into many vehicles, and they couldn’t find a horse that could carry him in the movie. Everywhere he went, people stared. When children saw him, they would either run toward him in delight or flee in...

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Jericho: French Peas and Kissing Camels

Posted by on Sep 24, 2018 in A HAPPY HOME, Blog, History by the Slice | 0 comments

Beware of kissing camels. As we stepped off of the bus and made our way past an ornate sign proclaiming Jericho as the oldest city in the world, a man in flowing white robes led a camel up to us. Then the creature started kissing anyone who stepped in its path, placing big, rubbery lips on people’s cheeks. But I guess that’s an improvement over what these ornery animals are better known for—spitting. Still, a camel kiss is slobbery, judging by the excruciating facial expressions on the camel’s three victims. Fortunately, I steered clear of the affectionate animal. It was not crowded on the day our tour guide led us past the kissing camel to the Jericho archaeological site. Our guide, being Jewish, wasn’t allowed to take us up onto the site, because Jericho is Palestinian territory. In fact,...

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