A Surprising, Essential Quality You Need for Spiritual Growth

Don't toss away that selfie stick just yet.

When you see a group of friends roar with laughter after taking a selfie, you can bet they used a “warp app” to capture the moment. Like the funhouse mirrors of yesteryear, the app stretches our bodies and squeezes our faces to hilarious extremes. We have to laugh because the reflection has nothing to do with reality.

A Surprising, Essential Quality You Need for Spiritual Growth

(Photo: a recent selfie in Jerusalem)

I’ll never forget the day a friend poked his finger in my sternum and severely criticized me. I stood speechless, not because his words were true, but because his criticism mirrored the very flaws he manifested in spades. In censuring me, he revealed his own warped selfie—but this one wasn’t so funny.

Every one of us carries a selfie stick. We must. After all, spiritual growth requires we take a good look at ourselves—not only from our own vantage point, but from those around us as well.

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Trying to Figure Out God’s Odd Leading in Your Life

Christmas shows us God’s leading proves wiser than our impatient pleas for progress.

God’s leading and timing in our lives often don’t make sense. We know that almost 2,000 years ago Joseph and Mary journeyed to Bethlehem. But we forget that approximately 2,040 years before they did, Jacob and Rachel, another expectant couple, traveled south along the same road.

God's Unusual Leading in Your Life

(Photo: Anton Raphael Mengs. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Rachel gave birth to Benjamin, but died soon after delivery, and Jacob buried her near Bethlehem (Gen. 35:19). Rachel’s death foreshadowed the devastation that the territory of Benjamin would suffer in Jeremiah’s time:

Rachel is weeping for her children . . . Because they are no more. —Jeremiah 31:15

Yet the prophecy found its final fulfillment in Jesus’ day, when Herod the Great slaughtered all baby boys in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:17-18). So, at God’s direction, Joseph fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus to live until Herod’s death.

Each movement of Jesus’ family finds its cause in God’s revelation to Joseph:

  • Fleeing Bethlehem to Egypt
  • Returning from Egypt to Israel
  • Avoiding Judea to settle in Galilee

God’s purposes for these moves lay first in the protection of His Son, but Matthew notes that each directive also fulfilled Scripture. I doubt anyone but God saw beforehand the murky prophecies fulfilled by these geographic moves. But in hindsight, they become clear.

God’s leading and timing in our lives often don’t make sense either.  At least at first.

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Hanukkah—When Jesus Claimed to Be God on the Temple Mount

His hearers that day understood what many today miss.

On a wintry day in Jerusalem, Jesus walked in Solomon’s Colonnade—the long, covered, columned portico on the east side of the Temple—overlooking the Kidron Valley.

Hanukkah—When Jesus Claimed to Be God

(Photo: Solomon’s Colonnade lay along the eastern wall of the Temple. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The conversation Jesus had that day occurred at Hanukkah—a celebration the Jews referred to as “the Feast of the Dedication” (John 10:22).

The feast had historical significance, which heightened the passion of those in Jerusalem. They encircled Jesus to ask Him a simple question.

His reply gave them more than they bargained for.

Today, some say Jesus never claimed to be God. But His words during that Hanukkah left little doubt.

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