Posted by: Ed | January 18, 2009

Places I remember…

I came to Genesis 35 in my time with God reading through the Bible this week. Here’s a modified Journal entry.

Gen 35:1 Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel & live there, & make an alter there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your bro Esau.”  His life was a mess at this time. A skeptic could say, “how convenient that God spoke at this time.” But no, the deep truth that I’ve experienced is that You are still willing to speak & to lead & to guide when our lives are a mess.
6 So Jacob came to Luz (that is Bethel)…7 He built an alter THERE, & called the place l, b/c THERE God had revealed Himself to him when he fled. The significance of places where I have met God. It’s funny how I feel it when I’m at one of these places.
Bethel’s in my life:
–    Huntington Beach pier – Where I wrestled with the decision to accept the call to Christ Community Church in Omaha. I remember the exact spot on the rail I was leaning on looking south.
–    Tollhouse rock – this isolated rock climbing rock face with beautiful views. It was about 40 minutes from my house in Fresno. I had several major words from God as I’d wait on the Lord there.
–    Uncle Harry’s Bagels – that was my Thursday morning spot.
–    Dietrich’s in PB
–    Dam Site 13 / Standing Bear Lake – another Omaha place. Several times I experienced enough of God’s grace there to not quit ministry.
–    My room when in High School – the place I received Christ in High School. – The place I surrendered to Christ
–    My New Bethel – Whitely’s house at Canebrake Canyon (a.k.a. middle of no where)
–    OGN – a different kind of Bethel, communal & historical through some of the movements in my life. (see older post on OGN if you don’t know or recall what this is).
–    A counseling room at Talbot Theological Seminary – I had to get counseling as a class requirement for a course in grad school. The Rosemead School of Psychology PhD & Psy.D students needed someone to practice on. To be clear, we all did, not just me.  It cost $5 / per session. Back then, $5 was… well nothing it was 5 bucks. I thought it would be fun to look at inkblots & talk about how my mom screwed me up. I had several breakthroughs that have marked me positively to this day. My counselors name was Jack. I wish I knew how to get a hold of him to say thanks.

We are not disembodied spirits. We are beings that inhabit time & space. So although places do not carry ultimate significance, there do carry some significance. They can be sanctified, holy-ized, if you will, by what God did there.

What are some of your “Bethels”? Leave a comment & tell us why a place is a Bethel for you.



  1. Camp Casey shoreline, Whidbey Island, WA

    Every year in college while on retreat, I would wait until everyone went to bed, then go out alone by the water, sit quietly, listen, and talk with God. My way of “fleeing” my worries during an up-and-down college career.

    Centennial Drive, foothills above Fort Collins, CO

    My first semester of grad school at CSU was tough and I had some big doubts about my career choices. The drive was closed to cars at that time, but the wildlife were everywhere. Matt 5:25-26 came to mind and I felt a very real peace that God would provide for me and my family. And He did.

  2. Can I edit that last one? Make it Matt 6:25-26 (court battles weren’t the issue for me). ;-)

  3. Well I can’t think of any…. So either I don’t have any or I’m not recognizing them? Either way is it a bad thing? :o/


  4. first off, thanks ed for sharing from your journal entries. seeing glimpses of how you do life with God is such a help!

    two of mine:
    – alone on a long drive in the car – for me, there is something about having several hours where i have nothing else to “do” but keep the car on the road :) i have had some of the sweetest worship & prayer times in the coche!

    – at my kitchen table – being a stay at home mom, i’ve been trying to cultivate a “place” that is easy for me to meet with the Lord, engaging in conversation with him like i would a person who is actually there (since he is and all!). it has been really cool to have that place be a place i frequent, because it continually is a reminder to me of the presence of God.

  5. Brandie, Don’t be discouraged, Bethel’s happen in God time. We just try to make space for them. You are right also, in that often it’s a matter of seeing that God has met us in a place.
    Thanks for being honest.

    It’s great to have some Omaha representation from people.

    I hope people keep sharing their Bethel’s.


  6. I really appreciate your posts. One of my Bethel’s is the lake, I’ve had God to comfort me and speak clearly to me near the water especially after losing 4 family members in two years (both parents, 25 year old niece and an uncle). Another one is the Cuyamaca Water Garden. I love to go there with my Bible, journal and a pen and just sit and commune with God.

  7. This is a really neat post, as are people’s responses. I have two places where I hear God the most often. One I’ll call my blue Bethel – the swimming pool – because in it, I feel like I’m being cleansed. Baptized. Like God is removing all the gunk from my soul. The water takes my worries and sins and oddly comforts me like a baby in an amniotic sac.

    The other is JCC (or any other powerful gathering of people praying). When the music begins I feel like God has entered the room and when I pray with a prayer partner, it’s like He starts to flow in my veins. It is these two Bethels that I need to visit on a regular basis or I lose the connection. The call drops and that is not good.

  8. Bethels…cool thought.
    One of mine was the end of OB pier where I
    wrestled with God about something and finally
    visualized myself throwing it into the water in surrender to Him. Another is the the strand
    of beach from La Jolla to the south end of Mission
    Beach where I’ve walked and talked things over
    with God and taken time to listen.
    But the most often visited Bethel is a trail near
    our home that runs through a grove of Eucalyptus trees where I’ve cried many a tear and prayed many a desprrate prayer and met God. Thanks, Ed, for giving us the opportunity to
    think about these sacred times and places in
    our lives. It is good to remember.

  9. There have been several Bethel moments in my life. In middle school I felt (when I mean I felt – I mean just that) the power of God on a Sunday evening service. This was a fall on your face worship God time. Also several specific times of prayer at the alter of the church I grew up in. I can also say a Bethel moment happened at Journey during an equipping course where God moved the dial of my heart. This is a great exercise in remembering specific God moments. Also a good time to look forward to new God moments. Thank Ed!

  10. I think i speak for lots and lots of high school and college students when i say OGN is also my bethel place!

  11. Hills in Igo, CA – There was this huge oak tree I would go out to in the middle of the night. No city lights, so you could see jillions of stars. I talked to God about so much stuff there as a teen – about school, my parents, girls, 49ers – just stuff.

    La Jolla Cove – I love to go there on a weekday when it’s not very crowded. God has given me some real breakthroughs there, both while I sat on the rocks and while under the water.

    I-45 driving into downtown Houston- Not sure if this is a Bethel or not, I actually hate that drive. So depressing for me – a lot of times I would fervently pray for my dad there while he was so sick. I thought that I heard the Lord tell me He would heal my dad, but my dad passed away about 10 days after my son was born, and never got to meet him. Basically, I felt jipped to put it mildly. But I know that was such an important place of prayer because I feel the Lord working on my heart so that I can FEEL he loves my dad (and me) even when I just don’t get it. To be honest, I still don’t completely get it – but I will trust God for the healing.

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