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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Why the Best Days Often Start in the Evening

3 Tips for beginning tomorrow morning tonight.

For most of us, our day begins when we wake up. According to our clocks and calendars, however, a new day begins at midnight. But when God created the world, He had something else in mind.

Why the Best Days Often Start in the Evening

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

God actually created the new day to begin at evening—not at morning. Remember?

And there was evening and there was morning, one day. —Genesis 1:5

Odd, isn’t it, to begin the “day” with evening activities like family time, dinner, and—of all things—sleep? This mindset feels totally foreign to westerners, but many Jews still abide by it today.

Honestly, I have no idea why God did this. But I have discovered beginning the day in the evening has its productivity benefits.

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15 Habits That Can Totally Transform Your Spiritual Life

Habits work off God's hardwiring for success.

You make decisions each day. Make the same decisions often enough and they becomes habits—powerful, God-given gifts to help you walk with God and stay healthy.

15 Habits That Will Totally Transform Your Spiritual Life

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Imagine if you had to relearn to tie your shoes, drive a car, or find your way to work each day. God designed our brains to search for and create patterns of efficiency—to move into “autopilot” so that our conscious brain can focus on other choices.

In Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, he notes a researcher from Duke University discovered that more than 40 percent of the actions we do each day aren’t decisions—but habits.

All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits. —William James

I have discovered 15 habits that have transformed my spiritual life. They can do the same for you.

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Walking with God Requires One Thing Most of All

How the basics keep us from growing cold.

We start strong. Determination and strength come easily. Faithfulness flows from our hearts. Then life happens. We didn’t plan to grow cold spiritually. But we did.

Walking with God Requires One Thing Most of All

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Somehow, we can wake up after a number of years and discover that our lack of passion for God has gradually shifted Him away from our hearts. We then find ourselves living in the ruins of once-vibrant spiritual lives.

How does this happen? By forgetting this one thing.

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3 Sites Where the Habits of Jesus Can Help You Crush Compromise

How to Follow the Lord’s routines at Nazareth, the Wilderness, and the Mount of Olives

Bad habits are hard to break. But here’s the good news: so are good habits. Once installed, a good routine serves as a powerful ally in your walk with God. Three habits of Jesus show us how.

3 Sites Where the Habits of Jesus Can Help You Crush Compromise

(Photo: Olive trees on the Mount of Olives. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Gospel of Luke highlights several places in the life of our Lord that give us a window into the habits of Jesus. His commitment to these habits revealed His character in moments of opposition, weariness, and even danger.

Three places. Three lessons. Three habits essential to your life.

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2 Ways to Find Balance in the Christian Life

Only when we know what to say yes to can we say no to everything else.

One of our greatest challenges is finding balance in the Christian life. Think of a person on a tightrope. There’s never a point where they just stroll across effortlessly. Balance requires continual effort.

2 Ways to Find Balance in the Christian Life

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Have you ever noticed that somehow Jesus balanced it all? The demands of His work and ministry left Him exhausted at times, of course—yet somehow He found time to get it all done.

Jesus perfectly balanced the demands of life—with the same 24 hours we have.

Here’s how.

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How to Get Your Roots to Reach Deep

The silent, unseen essentials of what makes life really matter.

After my grandfather died years ago, I planted an oak tree in his memory in our front yard. The skinny stem stood only 6 feet tall (like Granddad did). I planted it on a windy day.

How to Get Your Roots to Reach Deep

(By Almonroth. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

A few hours later, my neighbor hollered: “Hey, Wayne, your tree was really leaning over in the wind!” I grabbed the trunk and slightly bent the tree over. The whole base moved, because it had no root system yet. So I staked it down.

Two years later when I bent the tree, the base didn’t move. But you know what? The tree looked the same. No visible change. Its goal for its first two years was its roots, not its limbs and leaves.

That little sprig offers a contrast (and a lesson) to you and me.

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The Secret to Walking the Path of Wisdom

The practical book of Proverbs makes it clear.

The first steps we take in a decision often make sense. But the connection between those steps and their final outcome often seems unrelated. Walking the path of wisdom has a domino effect far greater than we can imagine.

The Secret to Walking the Path of Wisdom

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For us, a disciplined intake of Scripture certainly promises wisdom. But wisdom offers a course of action, not just a course of instruction.

The book of Proverbs reveals the outcome of the pathways we are walking. And it tells us how to stay on the path of wisdom.

Here’s how.

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Why Your Spiritual Consistency is Worth the Cost

The benefits far outweigh what you pay each day to walk faithfully.

Mondays are not the best days for car trouble. One morning I hopped in my car and inserted the key in the ignition. When I cranked it—I kid you not—the car made the sound: “Ugh.”

So I pulled out the jumper cables. But two days later, the car sang the second verse of the same song: “Ugghhh.”

Why Your Spiritual Consistency is Worth the Cost

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Later that day, my auto mechanic gave a simple diagnosis: I needed a new battery.

Now, I could have said: “Hey, you know, a car starting every other day isn’t so bad. It sure beats walking. I guess I don’t need a battery.” Guess again. I bought a battery—a big one. If my vehicle runs inconsistently, it’s of little value to me. At the same time, keeping the car running reliably comes down to one thing. 

It costs me.

The same is true of our spiritual lives.

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What to Watch Out for When You Enter the Promised Land

Do you know the greatest danger of God’s blessings in your life?

Sometimes our blessings get piled so high, it’s difficult to see around them. Blessings are ours in abundance—and tempt us to forget God. Of course, this is nothing new.

What to Watch Out for When You Enter the Promised Land

(Photo: At the Plains of Moab, where Israel received God’s warning. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

At the Plains of Moab by the Jordan River, the redeemed Hebrew nation anticipated entering Canaan. There the Lord issued them an important warning:

When the Lord your God brings you into . . . great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you shall eat and be satisfied. Then watch yourself, lest you forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. —Deuteronomy 6:10-12

Notice God’s emphasis by the repeated phrase: “which you did not.” The blessings His people would receive would come from God’s hand—not from their own wits or wisdom.

Moses warned his people of the greatest danger from God’s blessings: to forget God.

We have that same vulnerability, don’t we?

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