If You Want to Change the World . . .

I recently watched this powerful commencement address given by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.

I urge you to watch his moving speech. From his experience as a Navy Seal, he offers these 10 steps to change the world.

  1. Start off by making your bed. (Begin each day with a task completed.)
  2. Find someone to help you paddle. (Don’t go it alone.)
  3. Measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers. (Respect everyone.)
  4. Get over being a “sugar cookie” and keep moving forward. (Accept that life is not fair.)
  5. Don’t be afraid of the circuses. (You will fail often.)
  6. Slide down the obstacle head first. (Take risks.)
  7. Don’t back down from the sharks. (Face the bullies.)
  8. Be your very best in the darkest moments. (Step up when times are the toughest.)
  9. Start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud. (Give hope to others.)
  10. Don’t ever, ever ring the bell. (Never give up.)

Tell me what you think: Can you connect any of his comments to Scripture? To leave a comment, just click here.

3 High Points to See in the Golan Heights

Several peaks in northern Israel elevate the experience of all who see them. Exalted in beauty as well as in altitude, they offer panoramas both unique and enlightening.

3 Highpoints to See in the Golan Heights

(Photo: Mount Hermon towers in the Golan Heights. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The high ground in history has always proven the most sought-for, whether people have used the hills for worship or simply for military advantage.

Several summits in the Golan Heights offer beautiful panoramas and echoes of events in history that have proven significant—both in ancient and modern Israel.

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A Lesson from the Round School for Squares

What to do when it seems we never turn a corner with God.

My first high school had round buildings with pie-shaped classrooms. The hallways circled the buildings’ perimeters. The campus looked as if spaceships had landed in San Antonio.

A Lesson from the Round School for Squares

(Photo: Holmes High School in San Antonio, image by Slay Engineering)

Students from other high schools referred to ours as “The Round School for Squares.” Nice, huh?

For fun, we would play a joke on new students who asked for directions: “Yeah, just walk down the hall and turn left at the corner.” They would circle for hours.

Sometimes that’s how it feels in our walk with God. He points the direction and we walk and walk and walk. But we never turn a corner.

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God Is Just Not Fair

God is Just Not Fair [Book Review] (Zondervan, 2014)

When I began the book, I didn’t realize the author is blind. As I read and understood, my eyes were opened to how much her blindness has allowed Jennifer to see clearly.

With a shift in emphasis, book’s title, God is Just Not Fair, gives away the answer to the problem it poses. God is JUST—Not Fair, that is, His actions are based on justice as God defines it and have nothing to do with what we deem as fair. “Perhaps the real question you and I should ask,” Jennifer Rothschild writes, “is not ‘Is the master fair?’ but ‘Is the master just?’ In other words, Did the master do as he said he would?”

Total paradigm shift. We tend view God as a slightly better version of us. Instead, He is completely wise, sovereign, and just. If He were fair, we’d all be condemned—because we all fall short of His holiness.

Rise mightily against the first actings of thy distemper, its first conceptions; suffer it not to get the least ground. Do not say, ‘Thus far it shall go and no farther.’ If it have allowance for one step it will take another. It is impossible to fix bounds to sin. It is like water in a channel—if it once break out, it will have its course. Its not acting is easier to be compassed than its bounding.

John Owen
The Mortification of Sin (Banner of Truth; abridged edition, 2004), 55
The One Jesus Loves

The One Jesus Loves [Book Review] (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

I chose to read this book because I love the grace of God and good books about God’s grace. The book’s title intrigued me: The One Jesus Loves: Grace is Unconditionally Given, Intimacy Must Be Relentlessly Pursued.

I love the title. The book, however, seems to take portions of the Bible and make application without careful attention to the larger context in which the passage rests. Two examples are enough to illustrate:

My Biblical Encounter with a Russian Prostitute

I discovered there isn’t time to ponder your reaction when propositioned by a prostitute. Your first response is your response. It happened to me in a Russian hotel.

My Experience with the Bible and a Russian Prostitute

(Photo: St. Basils Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square. By Soerfm. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I went with some missionaries to Moscow to help train national pastors. On our first morning, I headed to the hotel lobby to meet our team. Stepping out of the elevator, I scanned the lobby for others in our group. I saw no one I knew.

A small group of ladies at the bar sat and chatted with each other. All of them, that is, except one. This one very attractive woman was smiling and staring—straight at me.

As our eyes met, I suddenly remembered someone told me that prostitutes sat in the bar, looking for customers. This woman kept smiling and then leaned forward—and a literal chill ran up my back. I can still feel it. I froze.

At that moment, I heard three very distinctive words in my head.

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The Yarkon River—Where History is Easy to Miss

Sometimes it’s beneficial to take the long way.

The headwaters of Israel’s Yarkon River form near ancient Tel Aphek (Antipatris) and flow westward until they surrender to the Mediterranean Sea at Tel Aviv.

The Yarkon River Bridge—Where History is Easy to Miss

(Photo: Tel Aviv and the Yarkon River. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Modern travelers who make their way along Israel’s coastal highway cross a bridge that carries them over the Yarkon River. But it wasn’t so in antiquity.

In biblical days, the Yarkon River was simply in the way. It forced a detour that gave strategic value to one site.

Significant biblical events occurred there that today most visitors miss.

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Why Your Perspective Requires Both Eyeballs

I sat in the front row of my 8th grade math class and squinted at the chalkboard. A total blur. I had to face it. I needed glasses.

Why It's Important to Use Both of Your Eyeballs

(Photo by Photodune)

I’ll never forget the moment I put on my glasses for the first time. WOW! A different perspective entirely! I had no idea the details of life I had missed. They were there all the time, but I literally could not see them.

Glasses and contacts made a huge difference. Trees had leaves. Shapes had sharp edges. Colors were more vibrant. And, oh yeah, I could see in math class.

That worked great for about 35 years. But now I have another problem. As my eyeballs have aged, they have given me 2 choices:

  1. I can see far away (with my contacts).
  2. Or I can see up close (without contacts).

It was one perspective or the other—until my optometrist gave me a really weird solution.

You and I have the same challenge spiritually.

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