Pain in the Body—A Lesson for Your Soul

Not long ago, my body gave me a little gift. I awoke suddenly one night with a smarting pain in the body. No matter how I fidgeted and adjusted, the hurt in my lower back only intensified.

Pain in the Body—A Lesson for Your Soul

(Photo by Photodune)

The best way I can describe the discomfort compares to having a doctor insert a three-inch hypodermic needle just to the left of the spine, exactly where the kidney sits. Occasionally, just for fun, the doc then twists the needle in a slow, clockwise motion.

The pain literally nauseated me.

Never before had I experienced such an inescapable ache.

The most frightful part was I had no idea what was happening.

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God’s Red Light, Green Light

Not long ago, my jaw dropped as I calculated how much I had spent on tolls that year. This painful revelation forced me to reexamine my commute. I decided to take the access road to work each morning instead of the highway. But I discovered I pay either way.

God's Red Light, Green Light

(Photo by Photodune)

I pay in time or in money. In angst or in cash. Unfortunately, I seem to have more of time.

So I pay my time at stoplights.

After two years of navigating stoplights and memorizing their patterns, I have concluded that someone, somewhere, is smiling at me behind some camera.

Maybe it’s God. (He’s smiling at you too.)

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Nazareth Village—A Visit to Century-One Galilee

I entered the tourist site with a heavy dose of skepticism. After all, I love to show the inseparable connection between history and faith. We go to ancient sites in Israel to connect them with biblical events and to our lives today.

Tourist traps don’t align with those goals.

Nazareth Village

(Photo of Nazareth Village by מוחמד מוסא שהואן CC-BY-2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)

I’ll be honest, to spend time meandering through a place where people dress up in costumes like some Christmas play sounded to me to be . . . well, let’s just say I thought we could spend our valuable time somewhere else.

To my surprise, our time in the Nazareth Village proved to be one of our guests’ favorite stops in the Galilee. The village transported us back two thousand years and gave us a taste of the first century in a place where significant events actually occurred.

It gave a taste of life when Jesus lived here.

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Who Is this Jesus: The Hope You Can’t Resist [Book Review]

There is hope in your difficult situation.”

Who is this Jesus, by Max LucadoThat’s how the introduction begins to Max Lucado’s beautifully illustrated hardcover book, Who Is this Jesus: The Hope You Can’t Resist.

The editor’s introduction challenges the readers to recall the worst day of their life and then to take hope in spite of it. Why? Because the Bible meets us where we are and gives us (with a nod to Charles Dickens) hope in the best of times and the worst of times.

The introduction offers biblical examples of those who received hope when they didn’t expect it:

  • David, while fleeing from King Saul’s madness, sought refuge in a cave where God became his refuge (Psalm 142:3-5).
  • Paul, while recounting his missionary struggles to the Corinthians, testified that he thought himself as good as dead, but God—who raises the dead—rescued him (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).

These biblical examples finally shift to Mary Magdalene, who discovered Jesus’ empty tomb that first Easter Sunday morning.

The Bible tells us of the soldiers who guarded the Christ’s tomb and who witnessed the angel who rolled back the stone that covered the tomb. The soldiers fell to the ground and fainted in fear (Matthew 28:4).

The introduction concludes:

The Bible doesn’t tell us the story of any of these soldiers . . . And yet . . . if the story had been told . . . it might have gone something like this.

Although the conclusions to Who Is this Jesus are super, the book has some snags.

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Beth Shemesh—The Pentecost at an Unlikely Place

Most people familiar with the Pentecost—or Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks—associate the Jewish holiday with the Book of Ruth. After all, the most exciting events of Ruth’s story occurred during the time of Shavuot at Bethlehem’s wheat harvest (Ruth 2:23). It’s no wonder today that many people include reading of the Book of Ruth as part of their celebration of Shavuot.

Beth Shemesh—The Pentecost at an Unlikely Place

(Photo: Samson was born between Eshtaol (left) and Zorah (right). Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Although I absolutely love the Book of Ruth, Shavuot more often causes my mind to wander further west of Bethlehem—down into the Shephelah.

It’s unlikely anybody celebrates the Pentecost at such an unlikely place as Beth Shemesh.

But a practical application urges us to do so.

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The City of David—Surprises from Original Jerusalem

When people picture Jerusalem, they usually think of the historic Western Wall, or the Old City, or the Temple Mount crowned with the Golden Dome of the Rock.

But most folks are surprised to learn that the original city of Jerusalem lay just south of the Temple Mount on a small spur of land that encompassed about only ten acres.

The City of David—Surprises from Original Jerusalem

(Photo: City of David seen from the Observation Platform. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Crammed with houses and punctured with archaeological digs, the original area of Jerusalem looks much different today than it did three thousand years ago when King David conquered it.

But you can still get a sense of its drama.

Let me show you.

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Love One Another: 20 Practical Lessons [Book Review]

Our popular tell us: “All we need it love,” and “I will always love you,” and they even point to a “Higher love.”stars 5

This is something Jesus told us two thousand years ago. Love One Another

Somebody asked Him: “Which is the great commandment in the Law?”  (Matthew 22:36). Jesus answered it in one word.

Love.

In fact, just before Jesus demonstrated His love by laying down His life, He issued a command to His disciples—and to us: “Love one another.”

Okay, so that’s great.

We all agree it all boils down to love. But what does love look like? How do we do it?

I just finished a great book that helps answer that question.

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Mount Arbel—A Panorama of Jesus’ Ministry

From this spot, you can see where the majority of the events in the Gospels occurred.

The sheer rock cliffs of Mount Arbel stand like a sentinel over the western side of the Sea of Galilee. Mount Arbel has watched over numerous battles, travelers, and even disciples.

Mount Arbel—A Panorama of Jesus’ Ministry

(Photo: Mount Arbel and its tremendous panorama, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Mount Arbel is one of those places never mentioned in the Bible. Its presence was so obvious, it was assumed.

Certainly, anyone traveling around the Sea of Galilee or along the International Highway would have used Mount Arbel as a landmark, identifiable from most any spot on the lake.

Jesus would have passed it thousands of times.

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