After I bought my 1897 edition of The Historical Geography of the Holy Land, I opened its dingy, yellow pages and discovered I couldn’t turn some of them. The London publisher had made an error.
(Photo: I have to read this book with a pair of scissors.)
The book was printed on large sheets which were then cut and bound into the book. But some of the edges never got trimmed. I had to cut each pair of pages myself. At first this was a real hassle.
But then it hit me . . . I am the first person ever to read these pages!
The book sat on the shelf of some library or study for over a century—untouched! All its benefits . . . hidden. Nobody read them. Each time I cut a page seemed like cutting the ribbon on an unwrapped present. The rich descriptions George Adam Smith has written are the next best thing to pictures.
I bought a used book no one had used.
An Awkward Question
Then a question popped in my head: How long would it take me to notice if pages of my Bible were stuck together? The Bible is a book of treasures, often unwrapped, because we simply don’t realize its tremendous value to our lives.
I want to share with you 4 steps that can help you unwrap the Bible’s treasures.
This year, FaithVillage is highlighting 52 contributors in a weekly post called the FaithVillage Contributor Spotlight. I had the privilege of being first in the line up.
The weekly online interview affords its readers the opportunity to learn more about those who contribute to FaithVillage on a routine basis. They asked me everything from blogging to pitfalls to traveling in the Holy Land.
Here are the 7 questions they asked, as well as my answers.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I’d go a step further: The unexamined life is impossible to live successfully. Like oarsmen, we generally move forward while looking backward, but not until we truly see the past—and understand it—can we successfully navigate the future.
Many places in Israel adapt their modern names from biblical names or references. Horeshat Tal National Park takes its name from Psalm 133.
Horeshat Tal means “The Dew Grove,” a name derived from verse 3:
It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. —Psalm 133:3
Sitting in the shadow of Mount Hermon, this extensive park with its lush surroundings includes beautiful lawns, rolling streams, stone bridges, and a large swimming pool and water slide.
But the best parts of the park are the beautiful groves of centuries-old Tabor oak trees.
- At one time, these oaks grew in abundance on the hills of the Galilee.
- These trees are all that remain—saved partly due to a local legend that claims whoever harms a tree will endure suffering.
The superstition reminds me of a principle of unity that Psalm 133 speaks as truth—not legend.
What does this world need: gifted men and women, outwardly empowered? Or individuals who are broken, inwardly transformed?
Through the years I’ve noticed something when my wife plants sweet potatoes in our garden. Amazingly, corn doesn’t grow. Sweet potatoes do. (Brilliant, I know.) You’ll enjoy this scene from Secondhand Lions.
God has set up a system in the natural realm that works with remarkable consistency: you plant corn, you reap corn—not sweet potatoes. And vice versa.
This is true not only in gardening but with regard to every part of our lives.
Too often, self-control kicks in only as a matter of pride. We apply the brakes by asking questions like: Will I look foolish if I have a third slice of cake? Not terribly spiritual, but hey.
Life hands us daily situations in which self-control seems impractical, irrational, and even impossible. And yet, amazingly, at other times:
- While arguing with our spouse, and the phone rings, we answer the call and suddenly we have self-control.
- Our boss lays into us about something that’s totally unfair. We fume, but bite our tongue.
- Our tummies start to expand beyond our belts and bathing suits. So we cut back on sweets.
When our reputations, our jobs, and our physiques are at risk, we apply self-control. Why? Because something more important than immediate satisfaction seems threatened.
But somehow sex is different?
The event in Cana of Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine also occasioned the first gentle shove He would receive from His followers to get God’s kingdom rolling. The first of many.
Jesus’ mother, Mary, may have been the first to nudge Jesus toward dispensing the blessings of the kingdom—but she wouldn’t be the last. Many times, the Lord would have to rein in the pushing of others in favor of God’s timing for blessing.
It’s all about timing. God’s timing.
We all blow it. For us as Christians, what often makes it worse is that we knew better—but we did it anyway. Nobody forced us. We chose it. Now we’re feeling regret.
(Photo by oomph)
The emotional fallout we experience from grieving the Spirit of God feels like a literal weight on our souls. It’s not a weight of shame as much as it is sorrow—disappointment with having not loved Jesus enough to obey Him.
If we take the proper next step, we’ll recognize our folly and confess our sin to God. But understand why we confess:
- We don’t confess in order to guarantee or keep our place in heaven. Our forgiveness of sins that would condemn us took place on the cross when Jesus died in our place (Rom. 8:1).
- We confess in order to restore our fellowship with God—not our salvation. The result of our confession? He promises immediate forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
But before we move on—before we slap grace over our lousy mistake and forget it—I’m suggesting we linger a little longer over our sin.
Sometimes seeing a metaphor about God’s sovereignty in our lives goes a long way in helping us grasp what otherwise would make less sense. God as the Potter is one of the most powerful of those images.
Sourceflix recently released this short video, which does a nice job illustrating the metaphor God used in describing His relationship to us.