The Harod Valley – Your Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

Truths as enduring as the beautiful settings in which they occurred.

Have you noticed how history repeats itself in our lives? We think we’ve learned to deal with overwhelming anxiety, but each new day offers a new challenge we never would have expected.

The Harod Valley—Your Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

(Photo: The Harod Valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In ancient Israel, the Harod Valley gave stage to two sets of desperate situations. From threats to insecurities to death and hopelessness, in every case the overwhelming anxiety found its peace only one way.

It’s the same with your overwhelming anxiety today.

Click to continue reading »

[VIDEO] Our Current Crisis and Jerusalem’s Walls and Gates

What to Do When God Lays Siege to Our Lives

Being stuck at home these days compares little to suffering under a siege in an ancient city. But the lessons it offers us are very much the same. That’s probably why I have had numerous members of my Walking the Bible Lands videos suggest I make this video available to you. The encouraging truth it offers rings as true today as it did thousands of years ago.

[VIDEO] Our Current Crisis and Jerusalem's Walls and Gates

In ancient Israel, a city wasn’t a city without a wall. Even in Jerusalem, a wall served as the primary means of protection from an enemy. The city walls of Jerusalem serve as a fitting metaphor for what God often does in our lives when we erect walls to keep Him out.

But God lays siege to our lives not to destroy us, but to restore us.

WATCH VIDEO

The Surprising Secret to Greatness We Need to Discover

What the original team of rivals can teach us about true greatness.

God never promised us the Christian life would shield us from the temptation of popularity, greatness, or admiration. In fact, don’t we often toy with getting what we want out of life just like the world does?

The Surprising Secret to Greatness We Need to Discover

(Photo: The road up to Jerusalem from Jericho. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

On His way up to Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus once told His followers that greatness is a fine goal to pursue. In fact, He applauded it.

As long as we understand what true greatness is.

Click to continue reading »

Paul’s House Arrest in Rome and Our Home Isolation

What do these unusual days make possible?

These unusual days in which we find ourselves homebound reflect, in a way, Paul’s days under house arrest in Rome. Our home isolation amounts to a couple of months. But Paul’s incarceration lasted two years.

Paul's House Arrest in Rome and Our Home Isolation

(Photo: Insula in Rome by Lalupa/Public domain)

In Rome today stands an apartment from the 1st-2nd century, roughly the time of Paul’s first imprisonment in the city. These types of quarters, called insula, were literally everywhere in Rome. This insula offers an example of the “rented quarters” Paul would have lived in during his two years of house arrest.

The book of Acts refers to Paul’s time under house arrest as amazingly productive.

His time also offers us a example of our own unprecedented opportunity during these unusual days of home seclusion.

Click to continue reading »

How to Choose a Contagious Hope

Jesus' Miracle in Bethany Gives Context to Our Current Fears

What an unusual time we’re living in. Less than two weeks ago, much of America still stood in the dark as to the potential of the coronavirus. Many (including me) saw its threat as mostly media hype.

How to Choose a Contagious Hope

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

But now, America and other countries find themselves in quarantine mode—with grocery stores struggling to stock the basics, airlines flying near-empty planes, and social distancing keeping us from connecting face-to-face.

Kind of sounds like the book of Revelation, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not (at least, not yet). But the events of these days do remind us how global our issues have become and how easily the Lord could engage end-times events should the Rapture occur today.

Remember Jesus’ great miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead in Bethany?

The story gives great context (and hope) to our current fears.

Click to continue reading »

Ephesus – Redeeming the Time You Have Now

How the Ephesian Agora illustrates Paul’s principle of focus in your life.

What if God inspired 3 books of Scripture for your church and also sent two apostles to live and minister among you for years? Ephesus got both. And much more.

Ephesus commercial agora

(Photo: Ephesus commercial agora. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

On his third missionary journey, the apostle Paul lived for several years as a (literal) tent-making missionary in Ephesus. He may have even sold his tents in the city’s agora, or marketplace.

The commercial agora of Ephesus served as a real-world illustration for an intensely practical principle Paul would later write to the church at Ephesus.

It’s a principle of productivity we can (and must) apply today.

Click to continue reading »

Colossae – Finding the Freedom to Forgive

3 lessons linger from Paul's letters to the Colossians and Philemon

I had the privilege last week to walk atop the empty tell of ancient Colossae—and to open the letter written to the saints who lived on the soil I stood on. While there I remembered a crucial lesson on forgiveness.

Colossae tell with sign

(Photo: Colossae tell with sign. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Colossae offers little in the way of excavations, but a few tooled blocks of stone peer up from the ground like tombstones. The outline of an ancient theater shapes the hill on one side of the tell. Standing tall in the beautiful valley, the site reminds us of the lives and struggles of the people who lived there—most notably, of Philemon and his runaway slave.

The apostle Paul wrote a letter to a master named Philemon on behalf of his runaway slave whom Paul had met in Rome. Paul’s letter takes us not only all the way from Rome to Colossae, but it mirrors our own journey with God—from condemned to forgiven.

Click to continue reading »

Kadesh Barnea—How to Follow and Not Get Ahead of God’s Will

Why our goal is not a place to go, but to journey beside God.

Which seems worse to you? Refusing to follow God even though He promises success, or stubbornly pressing forward without Him? Sometimes it’s tough to tell the difference.

Kadesh Barnea—How to Follow and Not Get Ahead of God’s Will

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

God’s people swung on both extremes of this pendulum in the course of one day.

What their experience teaches us can guide us as we anticipate the future God has for us.

Click to continue reading »

3 Questions to Ask Yourself in Making the Right Decision

We need to remember that our spiritual life IS our life.

How many times have we made what we thought was the best decision—but it turned out to be the worst? Lessons learned from such blunders we remember and regret all of our lives.

Sunrise over Dead Sea

(Photo: Sunrise over Dead Sea. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

We make knee-jerk decisions that we think will benefit us financially, or relationally, or vocationally, or physically.

But what about spiritually? Lot failed to ask that question, and he lived with the regret.

But we don’t have to be like that if we’ll ask ourselves 3 questions.

Click to continue reading »

Ein Kerem—Waiting on God’s Promise a Long Time

God has something special planned for you.

When we think of the Bible’s Christmas couple, of course we picture Joseph and Mary. But there’s another couple in the Christmas narrative. In fact, they appear even before Jesus’ parents do.

Ein Kerem terraces

(Photo: Tradition places the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth at Ein Kerem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God had been silent for 400 years. No additional Scripture. No more prophecy. No visions. Just waiting for the Messiah. 400 years! Then, God spoke to an old man in Jerusalem. God had been silent to Zacharias and Elizabeth as well. They were elderly and had no children. They prayed for years. But nothing.

God’s Word makes the point that they were righteous in God’s sight—blameless in God’s Law. In other words, their childless home wasn’t because of their unfaithfulness.

Times of waiting on God can even come to a point of what seems impossible. Most times of lack are like that.

Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. (Rom. 8:24, The Message)

God had something special planned for them. And for you.

Click to continue reading »