This post begins the relaunch of our Conejo Valley Healing Rooms blog series. We’ve chosen the name “Be Your Best You: Thoughts on Living in God’s Purpose” because we believe your best you manifests when you work with God to live as he imagined and designed you to live—an original, not a copy, a unique voice, not a parroted echo.
We are blessed to launch our new series from the land God reserved as His own, among the people through whom He chose to reveal Himself to the world. We hope you’ll stay with us on this journey!
TEL AVIV-YAFO, ISRAEL, February 12. 2020—My wife Jill and I arrived yesterday around 10 am, filled with anticipation of encountering God like never before.
The reason we’re here, at this time, is that we’re in the middle of a process to follow a directive I received from God nearly five years ago. As you’ll see, it’s so far beyond what I would choose or imagine it could only be Him.
In March of 2015, I was completing final edits on the manuscript for my first published novel, Perilous Judgment. While at my computer polishing my prose, I sensed God saying to me, “I want you to write a story about Jesus, in His point of view. In first person voice.”
Seriously? My response was sadly predictable. “Who, me? Do you know how hard that will be?” (Read on after you finish laughing).
So I pondered what I’d heard for a bit…then asked, “Can I write it as a thriller?”
”Write it however you want.”
Well, all right then. I filed it away, believing that once I got a couple more novels under my belt I’d have developed my craft enough to take on a project so…big.
Three months later, Jill and I attended a writers conference at Bethel Church in Redding, CA, and we’d also signed up for a one-day workshop called Writing in the Glory, led by Jennifer Miskov at her Destiny House ministry.
After an extended worship time (thirty minutes became three hours), Jen called us together and asked each participant to introduce themselves and share about their writing projects. A month prior I’d signed a publishing contract, so I was stoked to tell the group about my journey.
God had another idea. “I want you to tell this group about the story I want you to write.”
After a brief and futile inner dialogue about why I couldn’t do that (I hadn’t even told Jill!), I yielded. When my turn came, I shared about my novel, paused, then said, “Now I need to tell you all something I haven’t even told my wife.”
Yes, her face.
I spoke it into the atmosphere. The room got quiet. Moments later a man six seats to my left leaned forward, made eye contact with me, and said, “Dude! You have to do it. You have to write that story.”
Before I could blink I was surrounded by my workshop mates (Jill included!), who laid hands on me and prayed and prophesied over me.
No turning back.
I spent the rest of that year’s writing time working through multiple rounds of edits with my publisher, Waterfall Press, and we got Perilous Judgment into production near the end of February 2016. The following month we attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writers conference, which runs during Palm Sunday weekend every year.
During one of the workshop sessions, I received more direction from God: “There are two preparations you must make before you write the story—study Jesus as a Jewish man, and go to Israel.” This is getting serious. This time, I shared what I’d sensed with Jill right away. All good, but I still didn’t have a sense of “when” I was to write this story.
After Mount Hermon, I got busy with my next novel, a sequel to my first. About halfway through a first draft, I hit a “I’m not feeling this story” wall. I still was enthusiastic about the the concept, but it felt like it needed to be a new cast of characters. So I called my agent. She agreed, and I set out to re-purpose the story concept as a standalone novel.
Similar story with the draft of the second novel, but for different reasons. We were about to embark on a major expansion of CVHR, so I set it aside.
About a month after we opened our new Awakened to Life Center, I was on my way to a morning coffee with two of my church mates. As I drove, I sensed the Lord say, “Now is the time. Begin your preparation. And tell your friends, so they can hold you accountable.”
So I did. And I told Jill. And, within days, we received an email from one of our ministry partners, Ken Fish, announcing that he was doing tours of Israel, one in August 2019 and another in February 2020. Both Jill and I felt this was the tour we were supposed to join, so we made our reservations.
And here we are, a year-and-a-half later.
Our first full day was credibly amazing.
We spent the morning touring Tel Aviv, including a stop at the world’s largest diamond exchange (75% of global diamond and gemstone trade goes through the Tel Aviv exchange).
This afternoon we toured the old city of Jaffa (aka Joppa in the book of Acts). The old city is a remnant of the Ottoman Empire, built up during their 400-year rule over the territory. We visited an old archeological dig site where a 3,200 year old Egyptian city gate was unearthed and the purported location where the apostle Peter lodged in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea (Acts 10:32).
This evening our group visited with La Viña Tel Aviv (The Vineyard), where our tour host Ken Fish preached on the power of God, and we as a team were called forth to release it to the local congregation. God showed up powerfully. Many were overcome in the Spirit, multiple healings happened, and several received prophetic words of calling and destiny.
Tomorrow we venture to Cesaerea, Mubarak (where the prophet Elijah confronted the priests of Baal), Nazareth, and the Sea of Galilee.
We know God will go before us in this journey to walk the Holy Land. I know He will highlight things I need to see and know to fulfill the assignment He’s given me. Most importantly, we make this journey with Him, and He works with and through us to accomplish His purpose for us and for our team.
And that’s the whole point—go where God leads, trust Him to direct and reveal what’s needed to fulfill our assignment. And experience the joy of partnering with the great I Am.
I hope this account of how we came to Israel connects with you and somehow inspires you to lean into God, draw nearer to Him, so He can lead you in the ways He planned for you long ago.