Praying for Rain in Your Searing Life

How the land of Israel offers encouragement to our parched lives.

Summer. August. Texas. Stir those together and you get blistering days, muggy mornings, and sizzling evenings like a heat lamp over cheap pizza. But Wednesday morning, something amazing occurred.

Wilderness of Paran

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

The forecast showed no rain at all. None. So I prayed something crazy. I told the Lord I knew He could make it rain in a Texas August with zero chance of rain. If He was willing, He could do it. I asked Him to make it rain.

The next day thunder clouds rolled in, and Wednesday morning it rained—more than an inch. Happy trees. Happy grass. Happy house foundation. Happy lakes. Happy water companies. Happy me. But for more than the water.

I thought of the parched lives we lead and how the land of Israel offers encouragement.

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How God’s Promised Land Gives You Hope Here and Now

Abraham walking the real estate put reality in his hope.

Day after day of life demands we have faith in God. Lots of it. After all, so much of what God promises us is future. And honestly? It seems most of what we live for is a hope that never seems to arrive. God knows that.

Area of Ai, near where Abraham and Lot parted

(Photo: Area of Ai, near where Abraham and Lot parted. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Thankfully, the Lord also gives us tangible encouragement here and now to push us along toward that elusive, untouchable future we long for.

Abraham needed that same encouragement, and God gave it to him in an unusual way. He told him to take a walk—and to look around.

We need to take that same walk.

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When God Surprises Your Life with a Hard Left Turn

The crossroads we would never choose are often God's best gifts to us.

I recently heard that God is the God of hard left turns. So many of us began life headed one direction and ended up in a place we never thought we would. I bet that happened to you, didn’t it? Me too. And to the apostle Peter.

When God Surprises Your Life with a Hard Left Turn

(Photo: El-Araj, one possible place of Peter’s hometown. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

For Peter, it was a long, long way from Bethsaida to Rome—from his birth to his death. It’s the same in the changing courses of our lives.

So many of us grew up in certain towns or earned degrees for a particular field, but we find the Lord has led us in a completely different direction.

I went to college to study music theory and classical guitar. (Exciting, I know.) But nowhere in my wildest dreams could I have imagined today my profession would have me leading real tours and virtual video tours to the Holy Land. That seems to have little to do with music theory and guitar, you know?

Why does God lead us with hard lefts?

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How Geography Opens Our Eyes about God’s Closed Doors

Why does God hinder us from doing what He commanded us to do?

Sometimes it seems God gets in the way of us doing the very things He’s commanded. The most frustrating part of these moments isn’t our lack of success. It’s our confusion. Why does God close the door on His will?

How Geography Opens Our Eyes about God’s Closed Doors

(Photo: Troas, where Paul, Silas, and Timothy visited. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

These roadblocks in God’s guiding us show up in various ways.

  • A relationship that stays strained.
  • A ministry effort that can’t start.
  • A job search that lands nowhere.
  • A person who refuses to change.

These closed doors can confuse our spiritual lives by seeming to contradict the will of God. Doesn’t the Lord want relationships to mend, people to change, ministry to occur, and provision for daily needs?

Thankfully, the Bible’s geography offers us some clarity.

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Jesus’ Astonishing Capernaum Question Boosts Your Faith

How Christ's confusing words can deepen your spiritual life.

The question Jesus asked in the Capernaum synagogue still rattles around in our minds. In fact, whether or not we realize it, we deal with His question most days of our lives.

Jesus’ Capernaum Question Still Astonishes Our Ears

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

You do not want to go away also, do you? (John 6:67)

Jesus’ question had an edge of disappointment. He had just spoken with some of his followers, called “disciples,” though not the twelve apostles. Jesus spoke words that drew a line in the Galilean dirt, separating his followers into two groups.

Jesus had just uttered the unthinkable. How would you respond to what He said?

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What to Do When God Gives You a Hard Command

Why God Teaches You the Same Thing Over and Over Again

What God teaches us in one area of life we can easily miss in another area. So God has to repeat Himself. But sometimes the connection isn’t so easy for us to make.

Why God Teaches You the Same Thing Over and Over Again

(Photo: Waves crash ashore on the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Jesus performed more miracles in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee than any other place in His ministry. Standing on its shores, one can easily see across the shallow lake. The hills to the east and west tower above the water. As cool air from these heights rushes down the slopes into the lake’s warmer basin, winds can whip up the surface of the water to deadly proportions.

A small craft, such as the one Matthew reported the disciples clung to during a stormy night, could find itself foundering in an instant.

In one day, Christ taught His disciples a simple truth we should never forget.

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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.

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Bethel Reveals What You Need to Know to Connect with God

There has always been only one way.

There has always been only one way to God—even in the Old Testament. But how? That way is by grace through faith in the object of God’s choosing. Bethel gives us a peek at that way.

Modern Beitin, ancient Bethel

(Photo: Modern Beitin, ancient Bethel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In his flight from his murderous brother Esau, Jacob spent the night at Bethel, where years earlier his grandfather Abraham had heard God promise that he would receive all the land as far as he could see. There, Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven, and the Lord repeated to him the promises Abraham received.

Shaken, Jacob awoke and said:

How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. —Gen. 28:17

Jacob named the site Bethel—“house of God.” The dream gave more than a vision of God’s house.

It offered a foreshadowing of how to get there.

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What I Saw in the Brazen Face of Pharaoh’s Mummy

Seeing the Faces of Ancient Egypt in the Cairo Museum

I saw many amazing sites and new faces on my recent trip to Egypt. But none were as moving as when I looked into the mummified faces of the pharaohs who looked into the face of Moses. The Cairo Museum offered such a look.

Scott and Wayne at Cairo Museum

(Photo: At the Cairo Museum with my cameraman, Scott Wilson)

The Royal Mummies Hall in the Cairo Museum contains glass cases with ten mummies of pharaohs from the New Kingdom. Such kings include Ramses I, Seti I, Ramses the Great, Merneptah, and others.

But three other mummies were the reason I went. These three pharaohs the Bible refers to in connection with the Book of Exodus—and the life of Moses.

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The King’s Garden in Jerusalem: A Lesson in Futility

Solomon’s experience shows us how not to waste our lives.

Some folks love gardening. For them, nothing compares to the joy of creating and appreciating beautiful landscapes and gardens. It provides them hours of relaxation and satisfaction. Me, not so much.

The King’s Garden in Jerusalem-A Lesson in Futility

(Photo: The King’s Garden began in the Kidron Valley beside the City of David. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

I guess it’s because working with plants requires continual maintenance. Mowing, pulling, watering, trimming—then do it again next week. Then again.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love the results of the work. It’s tremendously rewarding. But the results are just so short-lived.

King Solomon had a similar experience. He wrote:

I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. (Ecclesiastes 2:5–6)

After all this work—and many other pursuits—Solomon concluded a few verses later:

Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun. (v. 11)

The King’s Garden in Jerusalem offers us some valuable lessons how not to waste our lives.

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