My Top 10 Posts of 2014

I’m always surprised at the most popular posts on my blog each year. Both in 2012 and in 2013 I listed the Top 10 posts. But 2014 surprised me.

My Top 10 Posts of 2014

(Photo by Photodune)

The popular posts range from the practical “how-to” to the rich, devotional emphasis the lands of the Bible offer us.

Here are the Top 10 posts from 2014. And just for grins, I’ll also include the Top 5 posts of all time.

Is there another one you would include?

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5 Ways You Can Read More Books Next Year

Last year I tried something I had never done before. I tried to read 50 books by the end of the year (and amazingly, I did). But I wondered if my strategy would work again this year.

5 Ways You Can Read More Books Next Year

(Photo by Photodune)

I thought perhaps last year was a fluke, so I tried it again this year. Guess what? It still works.

Because your life, like mine, is busy, I’d like to share with you 5 ways I’ve found that you can read more books—and 5 ways you can even find some free ones.

(If you’re curious, I’ll also share the 50 books I read—and tell you my favorite.)

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Augustine on the Mystery of the Incarnation

For years I have loved this quote by St. Augustine on the mystery of the Incarnation (quoted from his Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany):

Maker of the sun, He is made under the sun. . . .
In [the Father] He remains,
From [His mother] He goes forth.
Creator of heaven and earth,
He was born on earth under heaven.
Unspeakably wise, He is wisely speechless;
filling the world, He lies in a manger;
Ruler of the stars, He nurses at His mother’s bosom.
He is both great in the nature of God,
and small in the form of a servant,
but so that His greatness is not diminished by His smallness,
nor His smallness overwhelmed by His greatness.

From the Stiles home to yours, Merry Christmas!

Tell me what you think: What fascinates you most about the Incarnation? To leave a comment, just click here.

On the Mystery of the Incarnation

(Photo: By Wolfgang Sauber. Own work. CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Jesus—God’s Ultimate Missionary

Years ago some American missionaries stayed in our home. They told us about an animated evangelist they saw try to communicate to a Russian audience—through a less-than-animated translator.

Jesus—God's Ultimate Missionary

(Photo: The Moscow skyline, by Dmitry Azovtsev)

The evangelist began, “Okay folks, tonight I want you to tell the Holy Spirit something! I want you to say, ‘Yeeessss!’” (pronounced with three syllables).

But instead of translating the passionate “Yeeessss!” the interpreter flatly translated, “Da.” And when the evangelist hollered, “Now, give God a hand!” the interpreter translated the words literally—and the audience stared at one another in confusion. (“Give Him what?”)

The words were translated, sure, but their meaning failed to connect.

Jesus, on the other hand, was a perfect translator. Here’s how.

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3 Wise Men and Age-Appropriate Gifts

My birthday is in December. Growing up, I often heard: “Wayne, this is your birthday-Christmas gift.” I thought, Hey, gee, thanks. December birthdays are tough on kids.

3 Wise Men and Age-Approprite Gifts

(Photo by Photodune)

As a boy, I also felt a little disappointed getting clothes for Christmas (though now I love it). Some people just don’t know how to give age-appropriate gifts to kids.

When we read the Christmas story, it seems the three Wise Men didn’t have much experience shopping for children either.

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Exchanging Bethlehem Shopping for Bethlehem’s Story

I’ll never forget my first visit to Bethlehem. In the city of Jesus’ birth, we spent the bulk of our time shopping. Sounds like Christmas, doesn’t it?

Bethlehem olivewood shop

(Photo: Bethlehem olivewood shop. By ecjones)

Gold jewelry set with opals and diamonds sat alongside bowls, oil lamps and other imitation artifacts. Olivewood statues filled the interior of the large establishment, coloring the whole room light brown.

Name any biblical character or animal, and there was an olivewood statue for you! Favorites included:

  • Samson pushing the pillars.
  • David slaying Goliath.
  • And, of course, Nativity scenes of every shape, size and price—from a few bucks to a few thousand.

And the tourists fell upon the plunder.

One wooden figurine caught my eye, a bust of Elvis Presley, and I had to grin. Elvis in Israel? I called over the owner, a proprietor who can smell a tour bus a mile away, and asked him my question.

He corrected me and told me who it really was.

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This video by my friend, Dr. Charlie Dyer, affirms what I have experienced many times. Traveling to Israel is safe.

I know, I know . . . I watch the news as well. But think about it: if all we knew about America came from what we learned on the news, we would have a very distorted perspective.

  • Think of a large city near you. For me, it’s Dallas. There are parts of Dallas I don’t go to. And yet, I travel to Dallas often, just as I have thousands of times. I’ve even lived there! Going is no problem if you know where to go—and where not to go.
  • I have known and worked with Israel tour operators for more than 12 years. They have as their top priority your comfort and safety throughout your journey. Believe me, it is in the best interest of the travel company that you are safe! And you will be.

I have traveled to Israel 9 times in the last 14 years, and I have never felt unsafe. Not once.

I hope you’ll consider taking a trip to Israel. It will forever change how you read your Bible!

Tell me: If you have traveled to Israel, did you feel safe? To leave a comment, just click here.