Chorazin—Sitting in the Seat but Missing the Message

Jesus explains why leadership remains a privilege, not a prerogative.

From a distance, Chorazin seems like it’s hiding. I don’t blame it for trying. After all, it remains one of the three cities in Galilee that Jesus rebuked for failing to respond to His message.

Chorazin—Sitting in the Seat but Missing the Message

(Photo: Chorazin’s ruins hide at center left. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The basalt ruins of Chorazin appear little more than a pile of rocks among so many thousands of others. Clumps of grass and volcanic rock offer a variegated green and gray to the hillside above the Sea of Galilee.

Unless you look carefully, you may not even see the city.

But Jesus saw it. So should we.

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Nebi Samwil—A Site with Wisdom Ignored

Solomon's defining moment can also become ours.

Most travelers to Jerusalem never think to come to Nebi Samwil. The minaret towering above the hill looks like a misplaced lighthouse searching for the sea. On a clear day, a visitor can spy the Mediterranean to the west.

Nebi Samwil

(Photo: Nebi Samwil. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Although few come here today, there were few more important places in David’s and Solomon’s time—if any. In fact, it signified Solomon’s most defining moment.

What’s more, it represents the potential for ours as well.

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The Via Dolorosa—and the True Way of Suffering

Looking Beyond Tradition to the Historical Path Jesus Walked

Jerusalem’s modern Via Dolorosa, the “Way of Suffering,” remembers the route Jesus walked with His cross from Pilate’s Praetorium to Calvary.

The Via Dolorosa—and the True Way of Suffering Jesus Walked

(Photo: The Ecce Homo arch spans the Via Dolorosa. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Via Dolorosa of today marks an exercise in faith more than fact, and its stops or “stations” reflect Catholic tradition more than history. Popularized by Sandi Patti’s hit song in 1991, the Via Dolorosa also attracts the veneration of Protestant pilgrims who journey to Jerusalem.

There’s just one problem. The true path to the cross was in a completely different place.

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Is It Safe to Travel to Israel?

6 Reasons you can go to the Holy Land with confidence.

It seems most every week the news spotlights some political tension in the Middle East. Headlines do their best to dial in on any unrest they can find, making us wonder if it is safe to travel to Israel.

Is It Safe to Travel to Israel? YES.

(Photo: Friends of ours overlooking Joppa)

But think about what the news reports here in the States. Only bad news makes the news. And yet, we know for a fact the news reports only on a slice of reality.

I had a friend from China who came to America to study at seminary. He told me his wife was afraid to move to America because she thought their children would be shot at public school. Think about it. If all we knew of America came from what we learned on the news, we would have a very distorted perspective.

When forming an opinion on whether or not it is safe to travel to Israel, we tend to make that choice based on feelings—not facts. Let’s look at the facts, shall we?

Here are 6 reasons why you can go to the Holy Land with confidence.

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How God Uses Geography to Shape Your Life

He takes us places to gain what we could get nowhere else.

Think of the places most significant to you. That’s right, the places.  What makes them so special? Most likely, it’s not the places themselves but the events that took place there.

How God Uses Geography to Shape Our Lives

(Photo: Sunset over the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In our lives, events make places significant because of memories. But in biblical times, it was often just the opposite. The place itself often played a major role in causing a significant event.

The lands of the Bible offer more than a mere backdrop for the stories of the Bible. These places played an integral role in shaping the lives of those who lived there. God designed it so. And for us, understanding how the land shaped its people gives us tremendous insight into understanding Scripture.

Even more, it gives us a glimpse as to how God uses even geography in our lives today.

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A Balm in Gilead—Your Solution is Nearer than You Imagine

Why suffer when the remedy is just over the river?

Have you ever missed seeing something only to discover it lay in front of you the whole time? Misplaced car keys are one thing. But ignoring help is something else.

A Balm in Gilead—Your Solution is Nearer than You Imagine

(Photo: The hills of Gilead. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Few things seem more tragic than for someone to suffer when the remedy stood near all along. Why suffer when the remedy lies just over the river?

The Prophet Jeremiah asked similar rhetorical questions in his day:

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored? —Jeremiah 8:22

The words “balm in Gilead” give us more than the makings of a great spiritual song. They offer a principle we can apply today.

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Your Heart is a Reservoir for Truth

Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah mirror how God gave both rain and His Word for life.

I recently had a man in his 60s tell me, “I have to spend daily time reading the Bible. I mean every single day. I need it.” His words simply affirmed what the Bible makes clear for all of us.

Reading the Bible—Your Heart is a Reservoir of Truth

(Photo: A cistern near Michmash. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God used a simple, physical resource like rain water to teach the spiritual truth that He alone is the true source of life. This truth hasn’t changed for us. The need for water illustrates the need for truth—both essential for life.

When the rainy season begins in Israel each fall, the High Holidays draw to a close with the celebration of the holiday, Shemini Atzeret, which means, “the assembly of the eighth [day].” (The holiday originates from Leviticus 23:36.) Following the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, the act of bringing a sacrifice to God was replaced with the tradition of praying for rain, called Tefilat Geshem, the only exclusive ritual of Shemini Atzeret.

Where there is water in Israel, there is life. And where there isn’t water? The rule in antiquity was simple. Pray for rain and dig a cistern.

If you’re feeling dry in your spiritual life, there’s only one way to slake your thirst.

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How a Helicopter Ride Over Israel Surprised Me

One moment especially gave a jaw-dropping spiritual perspective.

In producing a video years ago, I discovered it cost a lot to use a mere minute of aerial video of Israel. I did the math and realized we could get a ton more aerial footage if we rented a helicopter and did it ourselves.

How a Helicopter Ride Over Israel Stupefied Me

(Photo: Just before takeoff)

A friend of mine sat by the pilot with one camera, and I hung out the side of the chopper with another camera—like a door gunner in Vietnam. I had only a seat belt between me and Jesus. In about four hours we flew over most of Israel, and the cameras only stopped rolling to change film or when our helicopter needed refueling.

I’d like to share some of the video we shot—as well as a surprising spiritual perspective I gained from the experience.

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Timna Park—A Portrait of Your Atonement on Yom Kippur

Enter a doorway to history—and view a picture of your salvation.

The best part of Timna Park is its least-known exhibit. Tucked away among the steep sandstone formations in Israel’s Arabah Valley sits a place most visitors never see.

Tabernacle model at Timna Park.

(Photo: Tabernacle model at Timna Park. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Timna Park’s best-known attraction is called “Solomon’s Pillars”—beautiful Nubian sandstone formations that have nothing to do with King Solomon. The park also features relics from Egyptian idolatry as well as interpretive signs about ancient copper mining. But the best part? A full-scale replica of the Tabernacle stands in the very wilderness where Moses and the children of Israel wandered for forty years.

It is like entering a doorway to history—and viewing a picture of your salvation.

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How To Abandon Selfishness without Abandoning Yourself

Jesus models 3 surprising solutions.

You and I suffer from a malady common to everyone. It’s the number one reason we hurt each another. It’s why children grab, pull, and scream. And, ironically, it’s often why we hurt ourselves. Selfishness.

3 Surprising Solutions for Your Selfishness

(Photo courtesy of

In Jesus’ day, people wore sandals, and the dusty roads produced dirty feet. When they entered a house, a servant customarily washed their filthy feet—a task akin to scrubbing toilets. When Jesus and His disciples came to the Upper Room, they came to the large upstairs room of a furnished home.

But when they arrived, no house servant washed their feet. I think Jesus arranged it that way.

Here’s why.

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