I discovered there isn’t time to ponder your reaction when propositioned by a prostitute. Your first response is your response. It happened to me in a Russian hotel.
(Photo: St. Basils Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square. By Soerfm. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
I went with some missionaries to Moscow to help train national pastors. On our first morning, I headed to the hotel lobby to meet our team. Stepping out of the elevator, I scanned the lobby for others in our group. I saw no one I knew.
A small group of ladies at the bar sat and chatted with each other. All of them, that is, except one. This one very attractive woman was smiling and staring—straight at me.
As our eyes met, I suddenly remembered someone told me that prostitutes sat in the bar, looking for customers. This woman kept smiling and then leaned forward—and a literal chill ran up my back. I can still feel it. I froze.
At that moment, I heard three very distinctive words in my head.
The headwaters of Israel’s Yarkon River form near ancient Tel Aphek (Antipatris) and flow westward until they surrender to the Mediterranean Sea at Tel Aviv.
Modern travelers who make their way along Israel’s coastal highway cross a bridge that carries them over the Yarkon River. But it wasn’t so in antiquity.
In biblical days, the Yarkon River was simply in the way. It forced a detour that gave strategic value to one site.
Significant biblical events occurred there that today most visitors miss.
This morning the national news was downright depressing. Political corruption. Religious hypocrisy. Sexual (dis)orientation. I confess, sometimes it’s tough to see God working in the world.
We seldom ask the questions out loud. But we all think it: Where exactly is God working in this fallen world? Why does He seem so silent—and even distant?
We know the answers in our heads. The Bible gives us good ones:
- God allows evil so that we may choose good. Yep. Got it. God is patient (2 Pet. 3:9).
- God uses evil for His good purposes. Yes, of course. God is sovereign (Rom. 8:28).
These answers give an explanation for what we see. But what about what we don’t see?
How come there seems so little of God’s work in the world?
I sat in the front row of my 8th grade math class and squinted at the chalkboard. A total blur. I had to face it. I needed glasses.
I’ll never forget the moment I put on my glasses for the first time. WOW! A different perspective entirely! I had no idea the details of life I had missed. They were there all the time, but I literally could not see them.
Glasses and contacts made a huge difference. Trees had leaves. Shapes had sharp edges. Colors were more vibrant. And, oh yeah, I could see in math class.
That worked great for about 35 years. But now I have another problem. As my eyeballs have aged, they have given me 2 choices:
- I can see far away (with my contacts).
- Or I can see up close (without contacts).
It was one perspective or the other—until my optometrist gave me a really weird solution.
You and I have the same challenge spiritually.
There is no music in a ‘rest’ but there’s the making of music in it. And people are always missing that part of the life melody.
Most students of the Bible know about Beersheba. It played a major role in Genesis, and yet, few pilgrims go there today. That’s strange, because there’s plenty to see at Tel Beersheba.
Visitors today can observe various remains, including:
- a typical Israelite four-room house
- a pillared building used as stables
- a major underground water system
As significant as Tel Beersheba is, it seldom finds itself on the tour itinerary of pilgrims to the land of Israel—probably because the site seems too far south. Beersheba has several neighboring sites that even fewer see (or have even heard of).
Let’s take a peek at these 3 sites and see their significance.
After my grandfather died years ago, I planted an oak tree in his memory in our front yard. The skinny stem stood only 8 feet tall (like Granddad did). I planted it on a windy day.
(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.
Travel guides about journeying to the Holy Land are a dime a dozen. I have read many of them. But the newly revised and updated edition of The Christian Traveler’s Guide to the Holy Land represents the best general volume for the Evangelical.
I have recommended this book to many people, and I know of a number of ministries that regularly go to Israel who distribute this volume to each traveler. Written by veteran Israel travelers, Charles H. Dyer and Greg A. Hatteberg, this volume will enable you to:
- Gain a general overview of all the major sites of Israel with a brief introduction for each site, including primary scripture passages, maps, charts, and photos.
- Know what to do with regard to practical needs such as packing, safety, weather, and photography.
- Get the skinny on what to see, where to go, and what not to miss.
The authors have extensively revised the first part of the book on “Preparing for the Trip,” updating all the content–from applying for a passport, to using online resources, to traveling to Israel for the mobility impaired. Parts 3-6 of the book offers a similar overview of key sites in Egypt, Greece, Jordan, and Turkey.
Unique to this guidebook—I’ve never seen it anywhere else—are sections outlining a 4-week schedule for Bible reading, prayer, and Bible study.
Whether you’re looking for a book for yourself or one to recommend to someone else traveling to the Holy Land, The Christian Traveler’s Guide to the Holy Land will serve you well.
While it may appear that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, in fact, it is really brown on both sides of the fence.
If you’d like a journey of inspiration, pick up the brief Autobiography of George Muller. You’ll find yourself amazed at God and encouraged to pray more.
(Photo: George Muller)
More than once, I’ve read the journal of George Muller. I return to it when I need some encouragement to pray and trust God with the impossible.
After my last read, I decided it was time to write down some good takeaways from Muller’s life that I could apply.
I’ll share them with you.