Crazy Results You’ll Want to See from My 2016 Survey

Here are the changes I plan to make after the survey.

For the past four years I have surveyed my blog readers in order to find out about your needs, preferences, and interests. This year I learned some surprising results.

Crazy Results You'll Want to See from My 2016 Survey

My goal in writing this blog is to help you connect the Bible and its lands to your life. Each survey helps me do that better than before.

The survey offered some fascinating finds—some affirming and predictable. But some were a total surprise.

I’d like to share the results with you as well as some changes I’ll make as a result.

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Why Some Fundamentals Never Change with God

Yet some rules no longer apply (and why)

Remember the day you left home? For some of us, that day was when we took off for college. For others, it was to take a job. We all had reasons, and we were gone.

Why Some Fundamentals Never Change with God

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

When you left home, some things immediately changed. No longer did you have to be home at a certain time each night. If you wanted pizza ten times a week, you had it. Freedoms increased.

But there were also some things that didn’t change.

  • The speed limit was still 55 mph.
  • You still had to brush your teeth.
  • Right and wrong was still right and wrong.

It’s interesting that in all the changes we experienced, neither our parents nor we had changed. Only the situation changed.

In a similar way, God has managed the world differently at different times. Some things never change with God.

But some do.

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There’s Still Room for You on My Holy Land Tour This Fall

But time is running out. Sign up before July 15!

If you’ve been putting off taking a tour to Israel, I’d like to give you another invitation to join my tour to the Holy Land this fall. The tour already has a great group! But there’s room for you.

On the Mount of Olives overlooking the Temple Mount.

(Explaining the Second Coming of Jesus on On the Mount of Olives)

We still have space on our tour, but I urge you to reserve your place today. Why? Because this is no ordinary tour to Israel.

This will be an exclusive, one-bus tour devoted entirely to following the life of Jesus . . . from His birth in Bethlehem . . . to His ministry in Galilee . . . to His death and resurrection in Jerusalem . . . and His ascension from the Mount of Olives.

Todd Bolen“Wayne Stiles has a unique gift for bringing the biblical world into our own. Some teachers are history gurus, but they can’t translate their research into how it affects us today. Wayne is superb at doing this in his books, on his blog, and at the sites. He is passionate, accurate, and faithful.

I’d encourage you to take the opportunity while you can.”

—Dr. Todd Bolen

Learn the life of Jesus by walking where He walked.

On this tour, I will help you understand the life of our Lord as we connect the Bible and its lands to your life every time we stop—and all along the way.

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Mount Tabor–A Panorama of Beauty and Praise

Only one thing could make it more beautiful.

Unmistakable. Majestic. Distinctive. Graceful. Descriptions all appropriate for an isolated hill wedged in the northeast corner of the Jezreel Valley—Mount Tabor.

Mount Tabor

(Photo: Mount Tabor. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Rising from the valley floor 1,843 feet, Mount Tabor’s smooth contours honor it with a distinguishing outline recognizable from any vantage point.

  • From the Plain of Bethsaida north of the Sea of Galilee, I have seen the top of Tabor peeking over the hills of Mount Arbel.
  • From the other side of the Jezreel Valley on Mount Carmel, I have studied Mount Tabor’s exceptional form in its geographical context.
  • Many times as I traveled in the Galilee, Mount Tabor would surprise me with its presence. “I had no idea you could see Tabor from here,” I would find myself saying.

From any direction, the mountain stands alone in both beauty and topography. The Prophet Jeremiah recorded,

As I live [declares the Lord] surely one shall come who looms up like Tabor among the mountains. —Jeremiah 46:18

No wonder Mount Tabor played a noteworthy role in history.  It offered a geographical landmark for travelers, a military advantage as the high ground, and it provided an illusory spiritual benefit as a high place.

It even served as a metaphor of praise to God.

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Christians Struggling with Sin and 4 Lies We Believe

In more ways than one, the truth will set you free.

Everybody sins. But when Christians do it, reactions vary. The culture says we’re hypocrites—and often uses our sin to justify their own. Other Christians may view our sins as proof we aren’t even saved.

Christians Struggling with Sin and 4 Lies We Believe

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

But the people who offer the most brutal judgment against our sins?

Very often, it’s ourselves.

That’s because Christians struggling with sin tend to believe these four lies.

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The Jordan River—Your Place of Transition

What served as a border also represents a bridge to your new life.

Other rivers have more beauty. Many are much longer. Most are far cleaner. But no river has garnered as much affection as the Jordan River. There’s a good reason.

The Jordan River—A Place of Transition

(Photo: The Jordan River, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

It wasn’t the beauty of the Jordan River that inspired centuries of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to include it in their verses.

Its significance began as a simple geographic barrier, which—practically speaking—represented a border (Joshua 22:18-25). In fact, the serpentine river still represents a border between Israel and the nation of Jordan.

But in Scripture, the Jordan River’s presence on Israel’s eastern edge stood as an enduring metaphor of transitions.

These transitions point directly to your life as well.

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The Ideal Life You Want Isn’t Enough

That's why God gives you what you need before what you want.

Most people live for dreams. It’s a quest, really. Clinging to ideals of how life could and “should” be, they chase those dreams like a carrot on a stick. Always within reach, but never gotten.

The Ideal Life You Want Isn't Enough

(Photo by Photodune)

I guess we’re all wired to pursue the ideal. The world calls it following “your heart,” and we Christians refer to it as “the will of God.” But in truth, we generally settle for nothing less than our version of how life ought to be.

Any search for the ideal needs only to look at the Garden of Eden to see the futility of that pursuit.

God points us a different direction.

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The Daniel Prayer

The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations (Zondervan, 2016)

I really enjoyed The Daniel Prayer. Anne Graham Lotz uses principles from the prophet Daniel’s prayer in the book that bears his name. Daniel confesses his sins and the sins of his nation—and asked God to have mercy.

All of the sections of Anne’s book are peppered with personal stories that both inspire and urge us to pray. I especially appreciate her vulnerability and admission that it isn’t easy to pray—regardless of where you are in your walk with God.

I like Anne’s reminder that to pray is to enter spiritual warfare. The prophet Daniel prayed, and the angel who came in answer to Daniel’s prayer indicated that his delay was because of a battle with a demon.

The final section of the book offers what Anne calls “patterns for prayer.” At first I thought this might be examples of prayer from the Scriptures, like what Jesus taught in the Lord’s prayer or in John 17. Instead, to my surprise, Anne has penned her own prayers to God — for various topics. Very nice.

The Daniel Prayer offers no magic pill on making God answer your prayers, but it does what all good books on prayer must do. It inspires us to actually do the job of praying, and praying is what God responds to.

Spiritual Warfare

The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

In The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book, Dr. David Jeremiah reminds us that the Christian life is a battlefield. Our battle is not with the culture or with those who do not believe in God but with an enemy unseen and powerful.

Using a question-and-answer format, Dr. Jeremiah answers 75 questions pertinent to spiritual warfare. Each question forms a short chapter with answers rooted in scripture and practical application. Particularly relevant is the introductory section that answers the question, How can I be certain I’ve been called to battle? His answer is succinct and sobering: if you are a Christian, you are in battle—and you don’t have to lose.

NKJV Study Bible

The NKJV Study Bible, Personal Size, Paperback: Full-Color Edition (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

I love reading the New King James Version of the Bible (NKJV), but not until getting this study Bible did I realize why. The scholarship behind this Bible is simply phenomenal. As I read the names of the contributors, it made me want to study the notes again. An outstanding group of scholars whose words and theology can be trusted.

This edition of the NKJV Study Bible is a “Personal Size, Paperback.” It will be convenient for those who want to read more than write in the Bible. The full-color introductions, maps, and special features keep the reader’s eye glued to the pages. It’s an attractive Bible, although the print is fairly small.

The combination of an excellent translation, outstanding scholarship in the study notes, and this compact and colorful format make this edition a welcome addition to any library, travel bag, or bedside.