My Virtual Reality Tour Through Jerusalem’s Second Temple

And a danger of living in a virtual reality mindset.

Have you ever experienced virtual reality? I hadn’t. But a Tweet from my friend, Carl Rasmussen, changed that. He made me aware of a new exhibit in Jerusalem. I checked it out recently.

My Virtual Reality Tour Through Jerusalem's Second Temple

(Image: Screenshot from the promotional video below)

On our free day in Jerusalem on our recent tour, my wife and some friends and I decided to experience a virtual tour through the Second Temple. This exhibit is sponsored by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation (the same organization that hosts underground tours of the Western Wall).

After entering a small room and receiving some instruction on using the virtual reality equipment, the guide ushered us to a room with a dozen swivel seats, each outfitted with virtual reality glasses and headphones. I put the gear on.

Suddenly, I was all alone.

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What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, . . . Jesus asks, ‘Do you love me?’ We ask, ‘Can we sit at your right hand and your left hand in your Kingdom?’

Henri Nouwen
In the Name of Jesus (Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992), 59.

Cyber Monday Deal on the Best Photos of the Holy Land

Today Only: 30% off for my blog readers!

Whenever I go to Israel, I seldom take pictures for my blog. Why? Because the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands has all I need. It’s simply that good.

Today only, you can get thousands of these high-resolution images of the Holy Land at a deep discount.

Israel Collection

I went out on a limb and asked the publishers of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands if they could offer a special “Cyber Monday” deal just for my blog readers. For today only, they have extended a special offer of 30% OFF any volume—including my favorite: The Israel Collection!

These are the only photos of the Holy Land I endorse. They even come with a 100% money-back guarantee (so you take no risk).

A Great Christmas Gift

Know someone who loves the lands of the Bible? Get your Christmas shopping done early for:

  • Your pastor
  • Someone who recently returned from the Holy Land
  • Maybe even yourself!

Just enter this special code at checkout to get your 30% discount today only: STILES30

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Black Friday Audio Blowout!

My newest resources at a great deal.

I have saved 5 brand new audio resources (plus my newest audiobook) to offer you at a significant discount for this Black Friday sale. From lessons from Bible lands to questions about why a good God allows evil, you’ll get something worth hearing that will encourage you today!

Black Friday Audio Blowout

Get all 5 audio resources at 60% OFF their retail price. When you do, you can get my newest audiobook, Waiting on God at a whopping 75% off! This weekend only!

LEARN MORE!

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What My Dumb Dog Taught Me about the Greatness of God

Welcome to the spectrum of all we don't know.

As I left the house early one morning recently, I turned on the garage light to make my way out. Our dog, Carlie, who sleeps in the garage, immediately stood up, walked over to me, and leaned against the wall.

What My Dumb Dog Taught Me about the Greatness of God

(Photo: Our dog, Carlie)

Her wagging tail slammed against the wall repeatedly—and the other side of that wall was my bedroom. I knew the pounding would disturb my sleeping wife.

I had tried to keep quiet. My dog ruined that. I got frustrated fast.

“Dumb dog,” I muttered under my breath.

Then it hit me.

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Did the Old Testament Offer Only One Way to God?

The exclusivity of salvation isn't a new question.

Of course, we can only approach God’s presence God’s way. The New Testament clearly reveals that only through Jesus can anyone come to God the Father (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:23). But what about in the Old Testament? Are there multiple ways? 

Did the Old Testament Offer Only One Way to God?

(Photo courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After King David conquered Jerusalem and secured it as his capital, he desired to bring the Ark of the Covenant up from Kiriath-Jearim into his new City of David. But in his passion to have God’s presence, David neglected to follow God’s principles. That negligence of improperly transporting the Ark cost a man his life (2 Samuel 6).

Three months later, David correctly transported the Ark into Jerusalem and placed it in a tent he pitched for its keeping.

In this experience, David gained a profound respect for God’s holiness.

This principle directly relates to the question: did the Old Testament offer only one way to God?

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Remember and Return

Remember and Return: Rekindling Your Love for the Savior–A Devotional (Baker, 2016)

MacArthur’s new devotional, Remember and Return, is content pulled from his trade book, Simple Christianity. Each of these short, 31 chapters takes a thought from the book and introduces it with a Scripture verse and concludes with a “Daily Challenge,” a new, poignant paragraph that is really what transforms MacArthur’s older content into a devotional. The book has some wonderful quotes by other authors, most especially puritans like John Owen. Remember and Return really doesn’t read like a devotional, but more like a book of theological truth with a “challenge” each day to apply it.

Ein Gedi—A Testimony to God’s Grace and Provision

Finding hope against a depressing backdrop of death and desperation.

Ancient travelers who made their way along the shores of the Dead Sea would no doubt shake their heads when they saw it. How could so much water stand in such a barren place—and none of it be drinkable?

Ein Gedi—A Testimony to God’s Grace and Provision

(Photo: The oasis of Ein Gedi beside the Dead Sea, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Before the obliteration of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Jordan Valley looked like the “garden of the Lord” (Genesis 13:10). But afterwards, even the many springs that bubbled beside the Dead Sea tasted too salty to swallow. The plentiful waters gave nothing in the way of sustenance.

They only offered a spiritual prompt of the need to take God seriously.

Against this depressing backdrop of death and desperation flows the Ein Gedi.

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Devotions for a Deeper Life: A Daily Devotional

Devotions for a Deeper Life: A Daily Devotional (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

A few authors seem to be given by God for daily devotionals. Oswald Chambers’ is such a writer, and this new volume, Devotions for a Deeper Life, shows the staying power of Chambers’ pen. Although most readers (including myself) have only read My Upmost for His Highest, these new devotionals, culled from content originally published in God’s Revivalist, read as fresh as those in Chambers’ well-known devotional. 365 excerpts also come with a Scripture verse, a thought for prayer, and a suggested Bible reading to go deeper.

Most daily devotionals are simply rehash, but this one pulls from the unpublished writings of one of our most-beloved writers and encourages us with fresh, new words.

How to Deal With It When God Says NO

Sometimes living with the tension is an act of faith.

You prepared your plans with prayer. For many, many months. You even asked others to pray as well. As far as you can tell, you did everything right and with right motives. But still God said no

How to Deal With It When God Says NO

This just happened to me. Cathy and I just returned from a tour to Israel. It took more than a year to prepare for the tour, and part of our preparation included much prayer. Among other items, our prayer list contained two specifics:

  1. For good weather.
  2. For no one to get injured.

God said NO to both of these in the span of five minutes.

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