An Ephesus Question: What Comes First in Your Relationship with God?

One thing more than anything is essential.

All Christians long to live pleasing to Jesus Christ. That’s why if Jesus told us He had a criticism for us, many of us would pull out our checklist and grab a pencil.

An Ephesus Question: What Comes First in Our Relationship with God?

(Photo: Ephesus theater and the Arcadian Way. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

We’d make our way down the list and ask the Lord:

  • “Should I go on a mission trip?”
  • “Do you want me to pray more?”
  • “Maybe memorize the book of Romans?”
  • “You just name it, Lord, and I’ll do it!”

I have discovered that the weak points in our relationship with God never start with failing in the big things. For example, we would never consider waffling in our morality or our theology. It always comes when we ignore a more basic element.

The church in Ephesus did it. But we don’t have to.

Click to continue reading »

Bad Company [Podcast]

Mark 2:13–22

Have you ever been around bad company? I don’t mean house guests. I’m referring to those people we choose to hang around—and more importantly why we hang around them. Jesus surprised many in His day by spending time with “bad company.” But His reasons were stellar.

In this episode of Live the Bible, we see how Christ’s example gives us the freedom to engage the world for Him.

Episode Resources

 


Bad Company

 

Come With Me to the Holy Land—and Egypt!

Experience a Life-Changing Journey, October 15-26, 2020

Picture yourself standing at the Sea of Galilee, with the waves lapping against your feet. Now imagine looking up at the massive Temple Mount in Jerusalem from the very steps Jesus climbed to get there. Or stare wide-eyed at the massive pyramids in Egypt

(Photo: Three Great Pyramids of Giza. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Here’s the amazing truth: you don’t have to just imagine it—you can experience it!

I’m sending you this special note about my upcoming tour to the Holy Land in October 2020. This tour to Israel promises to be spectacular and even offers an optional pre-tour to Egypt! Egypt is amazing and gives such insight into the Bible lands and the Word of God.

Take a moment now to check out the details of our upcoming tour in October 2020.

  • Watch the video of the beautiful sites.
  • Scan the itinerary of biblical places.
  • Dream a little—and imagine yourself there.

Really there . . . at the places you’ve read about all your life.

Click to continue reading »

When God Gives You an Odd Prescription [Podcast]

Mark 1:14–2:12

I received an odd prescription from the pharmacy once—really funny, in fact. (I share the story in the opening minutes of this week’s podcast.) Truth be told, God gives what seem like odd prescription sometimes when His words make no sense in the real world.

In this episode of Live the Bible, we’ll discover what happened when Jesus did that one day, and the essential lesson it teaches us about our relationship with Him.

Episode Resources

 


Episode Transcript

When God Gives You an Odd Prescription

 

Israel’s Negev Gives Enormous Hope for Your Barren Life

Nothing can stop God from fulfilling His promises.

Nothing can stop God from fulfilling His promises to those who believe in Him. In the mean time, it takes great vision to see something where there is nothing. Israel’s Negev provides a great example.

Israel's Negev Gives Enormous Hope for Your Barren Life

(Photo: Sculpture garden at Sde Boker, by שי קסל CC-BY-2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)

Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, saw the vast expanse of Israel’s Negev as something that offered great potential. In 1953, he settled in the kibbutz Sde Boker, urging Israelis to help him tame the Negev into a new society for Israel.

To many, the idea seemed no more than a pipe dream. As a result, the plea fell on deaf ears, for the arid region receives barely eight inches of rain per year.

In the Negev, life has one uncompromising requirement: water. Through this simple need in the same land, God taught His people a life-giving lesson.

We can drink from it as well.

Click to continue reading »

How to Keep First Things First [Podcast]

Who’s on first? The question may make us think of a classic comedy routine. But the question goes deeper when we consider the most important priorities we can chase in life.

In this episode of the Live the Bible Podcast, we’re going to look at “How to Keep First Things First,” and we have Jesus as our model. His example in Mark chapter 1 gives us at least two practical principles for how to choose among the many good options in life and ministry—and how to focus on the few essentials God wants us individually to do.

Episode Resources

How to Keep First Things First

 

Traditions, Truth, and Praying with Your Eyes Open

The Western Wall challenges us to ask why we do what we do.

Some people find it hard to identify with the Jews who rock before Jerusalem’s Western Wall. When I first saw them, the prayers seemed odd. Then I thought about my traditions. Are they any less bizarre?

The Western Wall challenges us to ask why we do what we do.

(Photo: Men praying at the Western Wall. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Oddness just comes in different flavors. They’re called “traditions.” For example:

  • Jews pray with their heads covered; we take our hats off.
  • Their prayers are public and often loud; ours are private and quiet.
  • They rock back and forth and pray from a book; we bow our heads, close our eyes, and utter unrehearsed words.

It’s easy in the familiarity of our own traditions to shake our fingers at the oddities of others. Jews pray while rocking, Muslims kneel with their bottoms in the air, and Christians bow our heads and close our eyes.

But blend any tradition—bowing, standing, prostrating, rocking, kneeling, or jumping—with no personal relationship with the true God, and it’s pointless.

How can we make sure we don’t confuse truth with tradition?

Click to continue reading »