Rachelle and I are part of a 28-member group touring Israel. Most of those with us belong to Emmanuel Enid, but a couple from Texas, Rex and Judy Ray, have joined us for this trip. I only knew of Rex through his online presence. He has commented on blogs I've written for the past decade, and we have corresponded periodically via email. Today, our group toured Caesarea by the Sea, Mount Carmel, Megiddo, and Cana. Rex is 85-years-young and he kept us with us from beginning to the end. Today also happens to be Rex's 85th birthday. At Cana, I remarked that as wine ages it can either become better or bitter. So too, when a human being ages, the prospects are either betterment or bitterness. In wishing Rex a "Happy Birthday" at the place Jesus performed His first public miracle, I told the group that Rex is definitely getting better as he ages. Though I'd never met Rex or his wife Judy until we gathered at the OKC airport on Wednesday. After three days in Israel, I feel he's been a friend for life. I'm reminded through people like Rex and Judy, our friend Jan Pointner in New Hamphsire, and a host of other people Rachelle and I have known and loved from a distance, that the essence of Christianity is relationships. Happy Birthday, Rex Ray. We trust the Lord will grace you with many more to come.