Give Your Pastor the Gift of Bible Lands

Your pastor likely has never seen the places he preaches about each week: the holy city of Jerusalem, the waves on the Sea of Galilee, the rocky slopes of the Judean wilderness. You can change that.

Jerusalem from east

(Photo: Jerusalem from east. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

To your pastor, these places may be mere words on the pages of his Bible—places he’s experienced only in his mind’s eye through pictures, Bible atlases, and travel videos.

Your pastor’s seminary gave him the biblical languages. But YOU can give him the Bible lands.

It’s easier than you think. Here’s how.

17 Lessons I’ve Learned My First 25 Years in Ministry

I have been in fulltime Christian ministry for 25 years. (Hard to believe.) I have served as a music minister, a senior pastor, a writer, and as a leader in a parachurch ministry.

16 Lessons I've Learned My First 25 Years in Ministry

(Photo by Photodune)

The last quarter century has taught me lessons I’ll never forget. I learned them in the trenches of time, disappointment, and even failure.

Although some of these principles may seem to apply to those in vocational ministry, all have application to us as believers. Whether we’re parents, singles, marrieds, or even disillusioned with church—these apply.

In no particular order (except the first one), here are 17 of them.

Bible Reader's Joke Book

The Bible Reader’s Joke Book (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition, 2014)

What’s so funny about the Ten Commandments? Wonder no longer. Need a good one-liner for your upcoming Bible lesson on relationships, or your sermon on giving, or your youth talk on purity? You’re all set.

A few years ago, my friend Dr. Stephen Bramer told me he was writing a joke book for the Bible. I laughed. I thought he was joking.

Turns out, he was! (And the book totals more than 2000 jokes.) The subtitle says it all: A collection of over 2,000 jokes, puns, humorous stories, and funny sayings related to the Bible: arranged from Genesis to Revelation.

  • Arranged in biblical-chronological order, this thick volume is jammed with jokes, puns, one-liners, and funny (dare I say, “corny”?) stories sure to cause every reaction from a chuckle to an eye-roll.
  • You can look up a joke by Bible verse or by topic.

The funniest part of the book to me? The copyright page.

Seriously. Check it out here.

Question: Know any good Bible jokes? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

I’m excited to serve as the conference speaker at Horn Creek Christian Camp this winter.

I’ll be teaching on the life of Joseph as it relates to “Waiting on God,” the title of my upcoming book. I would love for you to bring in the New Year with my family in beautiful Colorado!

See more info here.

“Learning to Wait on God with Joseph”
by Wayne Stiles

Sorry, listening to the audio on this website requires Flash support in your browser. You can try playing the MP3 file directly by clicking here.

I had the privilege to teach at the Marathon Fellowship class at Stonebriar Community Church this past Sunday.

The subject covers part of my new book, Waiting on God.

I hope the message encourages you.

Question: What has God taught you as you’ve waited on Him? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

See the Jezreel Valley from 4 Panoramic Places

Most visitors to Israel see the sprawling panorama of the Jezreel Valley only from atop the monastery of Muhraqa on Mount Carmel. This vantage remains one of the best, to be sure.

See the Jezreel Valley from 4 Panoramic Places

(Photo: Jezreel Valley from Mount Carmel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But there are a number of other views of the valley that also find their place in the Bible.

These high spots also offer a good view of life, and I’ll give a one-sentence application from each site.

A Conversation about Priorities I’ll Never Forget

I got my first suicide-threat phone call during my first year when I served as a pastor. I drove to the neighborhood and found the address in a row of massive homes with fine-trimmed lawns.

A Conversation about Priorities I'll Never Forget

(Photo: By Whipwhopwoo. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I rang the doorbell and a woman with a severe look cracked the door and eyed me without saying a word.

I began the brief conversation. “Hello, uh, I received a call about . . .”

“He’s around back,” she interrupted. The door slammed. I made my way to the back of the mansion and saw one of the several garage doors open. Inside, I found a man sitting on an upside-down bucket.

His bloodshot eyes looked up at me.

How the Jordan River Reflects Your Spiritual Life

Have you noticed how often hymn writers use the Jordan River as a metaphor for transitions in the spiritual life? That may be because the Bible does the same.

How the Jordan River Reflects Your Spiritual Life

(Photo: Jordan River north of Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Jordan River usually flowed a hundred feet wide at the place across from Jericho where Israel crossed over into Canaan after the Exodus (Joshua 3:14–4:23). But because the Israelites crossed at flood stage, the river surged much wider and deeper.

  • When the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stepped into the Jordan, the water ceased its flow 16 miles upstream.
  • This left a stretch of dry land some 20 miles wide for the nation to cross en masse, perhaps several thousand abreast.

Joshua compared the miracle of the parting of the Jordan River with the miraculous parting of the Red Sea (Joshua 4:23). He linked the power of God that allowed them to enter Canaan with the power that freed them from Egypt.

This was a critical comparison. Why? The same grace that redeemed them from bondage led them home.

This also reflects our own spiritual lives.

Living Life in the Balance with God

To hear Moses describe the Promised Land, it sounded as if it offered vast natural resources—a land where food was plentiful and lacked for nothing (Deut. 8:9). Well, true and not true.

Living Life in the Balance with God

(Photo: Grapes left on vine after harvest in Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The land had streams, pools, springs, wheat, barley, grapevines, figs, pomegranates, olives, and honey. Sounds pretty nice. Sign me up.

But this good land existed in a delicate balance of nature—and God tipped the scales. The Hebrews would learn that God alone made the good land “good” in direct proportion to the gratitude, praise, and obedience of His people.

The same is true of our lives.