Mahanaim Teaches Us What to Do with Our Fears

God’s presence is with us long before our spiritual struggle arrives.

So often, fear floods our hearts, because what we see seems so overwhelming. But the true source of our fears—as well as their solution—comes not from what we see.

Mahanaim and fords of Jabbok

(Photo: Mahanaim and fords of Jabbok. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Our spiritual lives hold the solution to our fears. That’s what happened with Jacob.

Returning to the land of Canaan forced Jacob to face a problem he had run from 20 years earlier—his deception of his brother Esau. As he approached the border of Canaan, angels of God came to meet him.

The presence of the angels gives us a critical reminder during our times of fear.

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How God Helps You in Impossible Situations

The only way to experience the joy of God's power

God often puts us in impossible situations. We find it frustrating, sure—but it’s never meant to be. In fact, those circumstances are meant to do just the opposite. God means to encourage us.

Plain of Bethsaida

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

With the Sea of Galilee in view on the Plain of Bethsaida, Jesus pointed to thousands of people and said to His twelve disciples: “You give them something to eat!” (Mark 6:37).

You can hear the frustration in the disciples’ reply: “Should we spend half a year’s wages to feed them?” Forget for a moment you’ve heard this story before.

Think instead of your current problem.

  • Your financial picture is unmanageable.
  • A close relationship has been strained for years.
  • You’ve been unemployed for much longer than you imagined.

Whatever it is you’re facing today, you face one of many impossible situations. Now go back to Jesus’ crazy command to His disciples. His solution for them is also His solution for you.

Let me show you why.

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Tel Dan—Worshipping at the Altar of Convenience

In the end, we'll find God far more satisfying.

The spiritual life often asks a lot of us. But Tel Dan offered an alternative. Shady walkways. Cool breezes. Abundant streams. Luxuriant foliage. Tel Dan had everything you could ever want. Except God.

Headwaters of Jordan River at Tel Dan

(Photo: Headwaters of Jordan River at Tel Dan. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In natural beauty, Tel Dan has few rivals in Israel. For the ancients, it had everything necessary for abundant living.

While the Hebrews in the south worshipped in Jerusalem, the natural beauty of Tel Dan in northern Israel offered an irresistible alternative. It was picturesque. It was convenient. It was invigorating.

And it was a complete compromise of God’s will.

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David’s Mind Hack Can Get You Through an Ordinary Day

His one objective in the Elah Valley helps the rest fall into place.

The ordinary days of life far outnumber the extraordinary ones. That imbalance can get discouraging. But as we look at the lives in the Bible, we see the same pattern. Thankfully, they were normal like us.

David's Mind Hack Can Get You Through an Ordinary Day

(Photo: Elah Valley, where David fought Goliath. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Like us, the biblical lives show years of routine interrupted by occasion moments of excitement. But if we look, we see God at work in the ordinary day just as much as in the extraordinary.

David’s fight with Goliath in the Elah Valley is the perfect example.

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Top 5 Books I Read this Past Year

Plus tips on finding the books to read and the time to read them.

One of the best bargains available to us today? Books. Why? A good book summarizes an expert’s best thinking on a subject for a fraction of the cost of a course, or a conference, or counseling.

Top 5 Books I Read this Past Year

(You can even read while floating in the Dead Sea. Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Our problem, of course, is that precious commodity: TIME. Your life is busy—just like mine. So I’ll keep it simple.

I’d like to share with you the top 5 books I read this past year, the 5 strategies to read more books—and 5 ways you can find some free books.

(If you’re curious, I’ll also share all of the books I read this past year.)

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Make This the Year You Read the Bible

It's the best thing you can do to grow in your walk with God.

If you want to grow in your relationship with God, there’s one thing you can do this year that will make more difference than anything. Read the Bible. Here’s why.

Read the Bible with Me This Year

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

Did you know? Research shows that someone who reads the Bible 4 or more times each week is:

  • 228% more likely to share their faith
  • 407% more likely to memorize scripture
  • 59% less likely to view pornography
  • 30% less likely to struggle with loneliness

Bottom line? A person who reads the Bible will have a life that looks different from one who doesn’t—even as a Christian. Perhaps this is why Peter wrote:

Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation (1 Peter 2:2).

I’ll be reading the Bible this next year. I urge you to join me!

Here are some easy ways you can do it.

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FREE Resources for Your Bible Reading This Year

There's one way to grow to you potential.

Let’s be honest. Bible reading can be intimidating. It’s a big book! But with only about 15 minutes a day, you can finish the whole Bible in a year. Why not make this year the year you do it?

FREE Resources for Your Bible Reading This Year

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Bible reading is essential for growth as a Christian. But it’s not as if you read it once and you’ve got it. We have an inexhaustible text. What’s more, we’re not always ready to understand it all the first time. Or the third.

That’s why both Paul and Peter write about the value of repetition in reading Scripture (Philippians 3:1; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 1:13; 3:1-2).

Every year, I’ve discovered it true.

Here are 7 free resources to help you with your Bible reading this year.

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7 Christian Christmas Readings for Download

Remember these essential truths in your spiritual life

It’s a good thing we have holidays. Without these forced pauses in our hurried schedules, we would plow through life with only a headstone to stop us.

7 Christian Christmas Readings for Download

(Photo by Photodune)

Christmas certainly offers us a time to take a break from work. It’s also a time for family to reconnect. But most importantly, the holiday reminds us of essential truths in our spiritual lives.

Here are 7 Christian Christmas readings from Scripture with suggested themes for personal reflection or group discussion.

You can also download these Christian Christmas Readings if you prefer to print them.

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What to Do When It’s Not Really the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Lonely holidays are the times to draw close to God.

The songs play it. The movies portray it. Even our church services have their part to play. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Yeah, well what if it isn’t? For many people, holidays bring up painful memories.

(Photo by Photodune)

Sore spots from childhood or the loss of loved ones hit hard during this sentimental season. While many people celebrate the joys of Christmastime, others suffer lonely holidays.

During one of the most desperate times of King David’s life, the anointed future king of Israel found himself running from two separate enemies—hardly a time to celebrate. With the Philistines to the west and King Saul to the east, a distressed David sought refuge in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1–2).

David felt very alone.

His situation offers encouragement to us during lonely holidays.

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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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