Compare Jerusalem’s Mountains to God’s Presence in Your Life

How Jerusalem's Geography Can Relieve Your Doubts

Life is full of moments that expose our doubts. In spite of all the Scripture we’ve learned and all the past victories the Lord has given us, occasionally something will happen that causes serious doubt.

How Jerusalem's Geography Can Relieve Your Doubts

(Photo: Jerusalem’s Temple Mount near sunset. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Maybe it’s a financial situation that undercuts future security. Or it might be a miserable marriage. Perhaps it’s a pastor or a leader who has failed. Maybe it’s our own failure.

Whatever the reason, seasons of doubts and confusion can come even to the most committed followers of Jesus:

  • John the Baptist struggled with doubts about his own beliefs about Jesus (Matt. 11:2-3).
  • The apostle Thomas found the resurrection of Christ something he had to see before he’d believe (John 20:25).
  • Some of the disciples had doubts about Jesus’ appearing to them, even at the Great Commission (Matt. 28:17).

I confess, I’ve had my doubts as well. Sometimes circumstances literally demanded I doubt God. A simple walk in Jerusalem one evening gave me an essential reminder.

I’m convinced it can help you.

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Tel Dan—Worshipping at the Altar of Convenience

In the end, we'll find God far more satisfying.

Shady walkways. Cool breezes. Abundant streams. Luxuriant foliage. The Tel Dan Nature Preserve draws the locals as well as the travelers. It always has.

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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Tel Arad—Israel’s Point of Impatience with God

How traveling along the path of the unknown gives us the chance to give God greater glory.

At Tel Arad, the whole land of Canaan lay before the Hebrews. They had waited and wandered forty years in the wilderness. The Promised Land was theirs for the taking. Right there before them!

Tel Arad—Israel’s Point of Impatience with God

(Photo: Arad Israelite fort, courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Instead, God led the Hebrews on a major detour.

Tel Arad in Israel’s Negev offers many benefits to its visitors. It’s an oasis of ancient archaeology. It gives a rare glimpse of Judah’s idolatry.

And it speaks to us today of the need to tap the brakes on our impatience with God’s leading.

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The Wilderness of Judea—The Ultimate Getaway

How this place of escape and seclusion still speaks to us today.

Very few places in the Holy Land still look original. Most historic sites in Israel have some church, or a mosque, or a settlement, or thirty feet of civilization piled on top of them.

Judean Wilderness at sunset.

Photo: The Wilderness of Judea at sunset. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.

The places pilgrims come to see today show centuries of scars from the ruins and reconstructions of many faiths and peoples.

But in the Wilderness of Judea, one can see what the ancients saw. Deep ravines. Rocky terrain. Barren grades with scant vegetation. Horizontal lines cut in the hills betray generations of flocks that have worn trails like terraces in the stony slopes. Miles and miles of desolate land, interrupted only by an occasional camel, a shepherd with his flock, or a group of Bedouin tents with satellite dishes.

Bleak, inhospitable, stark, and harsh—the Wilderness of Judea has sat virtually unchanged for thousands of years.

It was the perfect place to escape.

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The Kidron Valley – How Your Burial Can Point to Your Faith

Even after death, we can have a powerful witness to the living.

Have you thought where you’ll be buried? The place where someone chooses to get buried is always significant.

  • A hometown family plot is common.
  • The place where one’s ashes are scattered or stored often holds a special association.
  • Even unknown soldiers who die in battle occasionally receive a prominent interment.
The Kidron Valley with olive trees and graves

(Photo: The Kidron Valley with olives trees and graves. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But in Israel, a burial place often exposed one’s faith. The tombs beside the Kidron Valley bear witness to this truth.

Each one offers a connection to resurrection.

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Learning to Trust God in a New Way

Why does it seem like our trust in God is always starting over?

Have you noticed? We have no problem choosing to trust God with the things for which we already trust Him. But then another situation shows up. And suddenly, it’s like starting over.

Learning to Trust God in a New Way

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

In those times, we’re a lot like Asa, one of the few godly kings of Judah. He once trusted the Lord in a battle in the Shephelah of Judah and defeated an Ethiopian who came against him with an army a million strong (2 Chronicles 14).

But Asa’s greatest test came in an area that hit closer to home—literally. That’s where God tests us as well, isn’t it?

Sometimes it seems like we’re always starting over in our trust of God. Here’s why.

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Pools of Bethesda—God’s Kindness and Our Repentance

What motivates you most isn't fear.

Very few people are drawn to God by intimidation. Instead, the Lord urges us to come to Him by revealing the kindness of His mercy. It’s a tremendous motivation.

Pools of Bethesda—God’s Kindness and Our Repentance

(Photo: Pools of Bethesda and Crusader chapel, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Once we comprehend the depth of our imperfections, and the futility of our own efforts to remove them, we are in a position to respond to God’s kindness.

In this post, you’ll read how Jesus revealed this simple truth one day in Jerusalem with an act of mercy at the Pools of Bethesda.

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When You’re Ready—But Nothing Happens

Two reasons may explain why.

You’re ready for a change. You’ve asked God to open a new door in your life, and He has taken years to prepare you for it. Finally, you’re ready. There’s just one problem. Nothing happens.

When You are Ready—But Nothing Happens

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

The plan of God includes preparation and waiting. But why do you have to keep waiting once God has prepared you? What else must you do for God to open the door?

The Apostle Peter experienced something that may explain why your progress is delayed.

After you read this post, you’ll understand what you can do in the mean time.

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How I Got Robbed on the Good Samaritan Road

A Lesson that Cost Me a Lot I’ll Pass Along to You for Free

Jesus chose as the setting for His parable of the Good Samaritan a road notorious for robbers. Turns out, that road still has thieves. Ask me how I know.

How I Got Robbed on the Good Samaritan Road

(Photo: Reading from my iPad on the Ascent of Adummim)

Last week Cathy and I stayed in Israel a few days after the Insight for Living Ministries tour in order to do some filming with my lifelong friend, Scott Wilson. One of the scenes we filmed took place on the Ascent of Adummim—the Good Samaritan Road.

While there, a group of thieves stole from me. But unlike the victim in Jesus’ parable, I wasn’t beaten and left half-dead.

But I did gain a valuable lesson that cost me hundreds of dollars.

As you read this post, you get the lesson for free.

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Touring Christian Rome – and 2 Sites that Make it Matter

Insight for Living Ministries' Pre-Israel Tour to Rome

Yesterday and today the Insight for Living Ministries pre-tour to Israel enjoyed touring Christian Rome—or the part of Rome usually associated with Christianity.

Touring Christian Rome

(Photo: Columns in the Roman Forum)

Much of the past two days also included other standard tourist sites in Rome both modern and ancient:

  • Roman Forum
  • Colosseum
  • Circus Maximus
  • Piazza del Popolo
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Pantheon
  • Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel
  • Arch of Titus
  • the Catacombs

Although these sites alone are worthy of a visit to Rome, there are 2 more that make it even more special for the Christian.

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