Walking with God Requires One Thing Most of All

How the basics keep us from growing cold.

We start strong. Determination and strength come easily. Faithfulness flows from our hearts. Then life happens. We didn’t plan to grow cold spiritually. But we did.

Walking with God Requires One Thing Most of All

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Somehow, we can wake up after a number of years and discover that our lack of passion for God has gradually shifted Him away from our hearts. We then find ourselves living in the ruins of once-vibrant spiritual lives.

How does this happen? By forgetting this one thing.

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How God Turns Unfair Criticism into a Blessing for You

From Bahurim to Susa, the Lord’s Providential Ironies Flow from Benjamin’s Tribe

It’s tough to hear criticism—especially when it’s wrong. One of the dark moments of King David’s reign saw him shuffling barefoot over the Mount of Olives, fleeing rather than facing a fight with his rebel son Absalom.

From Bahurim to Susa—God Turns a Curse into a Blessing

(Photo: Sunrise over the Mount of Olives. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After David made his way over the summit, he passed below the Benjamite village of Bahurim. There a loudmouth named Shimei hurled rocks at David’s passing entourage. But the curses Shimei chucked hurt worse.

David’s response was stellar:

My son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him. Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day. —2 Sam. 16:11–12

Centuries later, another Benjamite named Shimei would play a role in providing blessing to David’s line. In fact to all Jews.

And to you.

Has someone criticized you unfairly? Here’s what you have to look forward to.

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God is Guiding Your Life and How You Can Know it For Sure

What seem like chances are really God's choices.

Sometimes it can feel like the Lord isn’t leading you toward anything significant in life. Or worse, that He has overlooked or abandoned you. One story reminds us that idea just isn’t true. 

Women harvesting wheat near Bethlehem

(Photo: Women harvesting wheat near Bethlehem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In the Old Testament, a destitute single-again woman named Ruth had little hope for a future. One day she took advantage of a provision in the Law that allowed the poor to reap the corners of Israel’s fields. Her example gives hope to us all.

I want to show you that God is guiding you—and how you can know He is.

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God’s Surprising Tests for You Often Look for One Thing

When the tests come, we can believe what is true or what is false.

God’s tests are most often pop quizzes. You don’t see them coming. If you knew you would be running late tomorrow morning, you’d prepare ahead of time. But that’s not a real test.

God's Surprising Tests for You Often Look for One Thing

(Photo: Shiloh, where Hannah trusted God. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

A real test hits your blindside. It tests the mettle of your theology, and often, it even seems to contradict it.

  • You have walked with God, but a family member suddenly gets terribly ill.
  • Your integrity on the job has been stellar, but someone else gets the promotion.
  • You have worked hard on a project, but the doors for its success stay closed.
  • You get an unexpected phone call with news that chills your soul.

In the end, the pop quizzes we experience usually boil down to one thing.

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What’s Your Motive? There’s Only One Way to Tell

How Tisha B'Av & the Burnt House Examine Us

What’s your motive? In Jerusalem, one site always begs the question. I find it fascinating that when the New Testament talks about God judging our motives, it uses the metaphor of a burnt house. 

How Tisha B'Av & the Burnt House Examine Us

(Photo: The Burnt House in Jerusalem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Some call it coincidence. Some call it Providence. But according to tradition, both the First and Second Temples (in 586 BC and AD 70) were destroyed on the same date in history. Tisha B’Av marks the 9th day of the month of Av—the fifth Jewish month. During the exile, the Jews instituted a fast to commemorate the Temple’s destruction. After they returned to Jerusalem, they asked God a question about Tisha B’Av:

Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years? —Zechariah 7:3

Their question made sense.

They had observed the fast in exile, but should they continue to fast on Tisha B’Av now that they were building the Second Temple? God’s answer to their question reaches beyond them to the heart of why we do what we do.

One question gets to the heart of our heart.

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The Levitical Cities—God’s Word Made Accessible to You

Finding it is the easy part. The next step is the tough one.

I am convinced God is far more concerned that we know His will than we are. In fact, He has gone to great lengths to help us understand what we need to know. It’s always been this way. Here’s why. 

The Levitical Cities—God’s Word Made Accessible to You

(Photo: Tel Jokneam, one of the 48 Levitical Cities. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God’s will is found in God’s Word. If we want to find His will, we must read His Word. It’s often that simple—and yet, it’s also difficult. But it needn’t be.

In fact, God has always made His Word accessible to us—today more than ever.

It’s an incredible opportunity for us. 

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How to Insert Your Quiet Time into Your Crazy Life

One discipline more than any other will make all the difference.

Sometimes I’m amazed at the chasm that stands between my morning quiet time and the rest of the day. You know what I mean? At times, there seems such a huge breach between Scripture and the real world.

How to Insert Your Quiet Time into Your Crazy Life

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Drinking deeply of the Word of God in the early morning hours, I express in prayer my love for the Lord, His Word, and His church. It’s all good.

But then I leave the house.

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Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus- How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding (Baker, 2018)

When we read the Bible, we face a huge disadvantage. In the busyness and distraction of our 21st-century Western world, we can stare straight at the words on the page but miss their meaning. Even our Christian worldview can too easily assume a narrow perspective and, once again, miss the rich background upon which the Messiah lived. 

Bridging the gap between then and now is not a new effort. However, few have spanned that gorge in a more readable (and enjoyable) way than Lois Tverberg. Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding helps us understand Christ from His Jewish roots. Because those boring “begats” have a purpose to Jesus, they also relate to our lives. This book explains why the elements that before seemed irrelevant are, in fact, significant. 

When Jesus stepped on to the world’s stage, it wasn’t an empty one. The props were Hebrew—an unnatural perspective to us. Lois gives us a better understanding of the biblical setting, and so offers us a deeper appreciation (and application) of the Bible’s story and its primary focus: Jesus Christ. 

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The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies

Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies (Baker, 2018)

The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies serves as a handy reference to understanding words and names, heroes and heretics, ancient and modern. Both scholars and skeptics find themselves listed in alphabetical order alongside terms from “abomination of desolation” to “Zoroastrianism.” 
 
Concise, fair, and well-written, the little volume would prove more handy with a simple index of names, words, and page numbers. As a “dictionary” it doesn’t require an index, but the reader would benefit from scanning the contents at a glance. 
 

How to Struggle with God and Win

Jacob's brawl at the Jabbok River gives a model of how to do it.

What does it take for God to change you? In the Bible, when the Lord changed Jacob, it took a brawl. Isn’t it often the same with us? But that’s actually good news. 

Jabbok River at Peniel

(Photo: Jabbok River at Peniel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

These times we struggle with the Father represent His grace. It’s never easy, and it often seems rigged in God’s favor.

But Jacob shows us how to win the struggle.

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