People must be given room to grow, which includes room to fail, to think on their own, to disagree, to make mistakes. Grace must be risked, or we will be stunted Christians who don’t think, who can’t make decisions, who operate in fear and without joy because we know nothing but someone else’s demands and expectations.

Charles R. Swindoll
The Grace Awakening (Thomas Nelson, 2010), p. 55.

The City of David’s Strength and King David’s Weakness

In King David’s day, the city of Jerusalem stood as a renovation and expansion of Jebus, a site the Hebrews never occupied in the territory of Benjamin.

The City of David’s Strength and King David’s Weakness

(Photo: The City of David at right, opposite the modern village of Silwan. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Those who come to Jerusalem today for the first time are often surprised to learn that the original Jerusalem, “The City of David,” sat on a mere ten acres just south of the Temple Mount. Hardly impressive, it looks like some third-world neighborhood.

Steep slopes surround the City of David and gave it in a strategic advantage during any military threat. So much so, the inhabitants of Jebus felt confident “David cannot enter here” (2 Samuel 5:6). But he did, and David made the site his new capital.

The steep slopes became King David’s military strength.

But the slopes also played into his moral weakness. Here’s how.

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I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK—But That’s Okay

Did you have to teach your kids to disobey? Um, not hardly. In fact, they taught you! There were times when my daughters’ disobedience was hilarious.

I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK—But That’s Okay

(Photo by Photodune)

Years ago when one of my girls was only three, she snuck in the kitchen, climbed on the cabinet, found some candy, went to her room, closed the door, and hid under her bed to eat the sweets. How did she figure out how to do this?

My other daughter was not even two years old yet when she asked for a drink from a bottle. When I gave her a cup instead, she hurled it across the room and screamed, “NNOOO!!!!!” Just precious.

Like you, I never taught my children to disobey. It is in their nature. It’s in my nature too, by the way. And it’s in yours.

But that’s okay. Here’s why.

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My Yom Kippur Conversation about the Messiah

The annual holiday Yom Kippur begins always reminds me of a surprising conversation I had in Jerusalem at the Western Wall. A Jewish woman approached me and engaged me in a talk.

She somehow knew my affiliation with a radio ministry and told me we needed to broadcast to the nations God’s way to be saved. I told her that was, in fact, our passion.

She smiled and shook her head no.

Western Wall Plaza

(Photo: Western Wall Plaza. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Then she shared with me a list of things all Gentiles need to do in order for God to accept them. I recognized some of the standards as being from the Ten Commandments, and I told her so. Again, she smiled and shook her head.

Those commandments are for the Jews,” she said.

“Do you keep them?” I asked.

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Blame Shifting our Blunders

Finger pointing is hard-wired into our hearts. In fact, it started early in human history. Like, really early.

Blame Shifting our Blunders

(Painting by Domenichino. Public domain)

In the Garden of Eden, God confronted Adam and Eve after they sinned, and their reaction set the course for an entire race of blame-shifters.

We’re still shifting the blame (and getting blamed).

The solution is the same today as it was then.

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When God Takes Something Away from You

It’s always great when God replaces something painful with something wonderful. Or when He provides for a need in a context of desperation.

But what about when God takes away something we enjoy—or even something we need? Or when He allows something bad to invade something good?

When God Takes Something Away from You

(Photo: by Hariadhi. Own work, GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Can we then say what Job said?

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised. —Job 1:21

During the times when God takes something away from you, it’s easy to feel duped, as if God was some kind of pusher, giving free samples and then removing them after the cravings have their hooks in your heart.

The Lord’s generosity can be misunderstood as cruelty.

Rather than praise God for the time we enjoyed His blessings—we tend to resent His sovereign prerogative to confiscate them.

Here’s some perspective that can help when God takes something away from you that was a blessing.

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Mary Magdalene—A Change You’d Never Expect

Her name is as well-known as any apostle. Yet the truth about her life often lies shrouded behind myths, fiction, and flat-out conjecture.

Mary Magdalene—A Change You’d Never Expect

(Painting by José de Ribera. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Modern art and bestselling novels paint her as everything from a prostitute to the infamous woman caught in adultery to the wife of Jesus Himself.

But the Scriptures portray Mary Magdalene as a different person altogether.

Surprisingly, she was more like us than we would expect.

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Offerings in Leviticus—What They Were and Why They Mattered

For most Christians, the book of Leviticus is as untraveled as the wilderness in which Moses wrote it. It’s not hard to understand why. I mean, who cares about sacrifices no longer needed or diet codes no longer in effect?

Can they teach us anything today? In a word: plenty.

Offerings in Leviticus—What They Were and Why They Mattered

(Photo: Offerings were made in the Tabernacle. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable. —2 Timothy 3:16

Here’s a brief summary of the five offerings in Leviticus—what they were and why they mattered. I’ve also included a free chart you can download and a short list of resources to help you make sense of Leviticus.

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