Why You Can’t Afford to Stay as You Are

A couple of months ago I noticed the “maintenance” light come on in my car. That meant the oil and filter needed changing. I thought, Yeah, I’ll do that soon. Right.

Why You Can’t Afford to Stay as You Are

(Photo by Photodune)

About a month went by and I thought: You know, I need to deal with that. I forgot again. It wasn’t until a couple weeks later I finally got it changed. I put it off because I’m a busy guy—and hey, oil and filters can always wait another day.

But then another warning light went off. This one was serious.

My Yom Kippur Conversation about the Messiah

The annual holiday Yom Kippur begins always reminds me of a surprising conversation I had in Jerusalem at the Western Wall. A Jewish woman approached me and engaged me in a talk.

She somehow knew my affiliation with a radio ministry and told me we needed to broadcast to the nations God’s way to be saved. I told her that was, in fact, our passion.

She smiled and shook her head no.

Western Wall Plaza

(Photo: Western Wall Plaza. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Then she shared with me a list of things all Gentiles need to do in order for God to accept them. I recognized some of the standards as being from the Ten Commandments, and I told her so. Again, she smiled and shook her head.

Those commandments are for the Jews,” she said.

“Do you keep them?” I asked.

Some Things Never Change with God

Remember the day you left home? For some of us, that day was when we took off for college. For others, it was to take a job. We all had reasons, and we were gone.

When you left home, some things immediately changed. No longer did you have to be home at a certain time each night. If you wanted pizza ten times a week, you had it. Freedoms increased.

Some Things Never Change with God (and Some Do)

(Photo by John Eckert via oomf)

But there were also some things that didn’t change.

  • The speed limit was still 55 mph.
  • You still had to brush your teeth.
  • Right and wrong was still right and wrong.

It’s interesting that in all the changes we experienced, neither our parents nor we had changed. Only the situation changed.

In a similar way, God has managed the world differently at different times. Some things never change with God.

But some do.

Tuesdays with Morrie [Book Review]

I’ve heard for years that I should read, Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson. My wife and I picked it up at an estate sale recently and read it aloud.

Tuesdays with Morrie

The greatest takeaway from this touching account of the slow death of Mitch Albom’s friend, Morrie Schwartz, is that you’re not ready to live until you’re ready to die.

Over the course of many Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch visits with Morrie about “life’s greatest lesson,” discussing issues of life such as self-pity, regrets, death, family, emotions, aging, love, marriage, and forgiveness.

“Aging . . . is more than the negative that you’re going to die, it’s also the positive that you understand that you’re going to die, and that you live better because of it.”

Everyone reads a book through the filter of his or her own world view. And although I can appreciate the truth and wisdom of each chapter as it relates to life, I couldn’t help but think the book overlooks the potential insight this life offers to the next life.

“Aging . . . is more than the negative that you’re going to die . . .”

Yeah, but you can’t sidestep the negative. It’s the most-certain event of anyone’s life.

I totally understand that the book isn’t about the afterlife. I get it. Nevertheless, it seems strange to read a book about a dying man sharing distilled wisdom about life and death with no discussion about life after death.

Tuesdays with Morrie does a great job highlighting how death brings clarity to life.

Okay, so you apply those lessons and have a great life.

Then what?

Question: Have you read the book? What did you think of it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Good Friday Gives Your Shame a Choice

Good Friday wasn’t so good for Judas. The guilt-ridden betrayer of Jesus hung himself and then fell headlong, spilling his innards. Hence, the residents later named the place where it happened, “Akeldema,” or “Field of Blood” (Acts 1:18-19).

Judas may have chosen this place to die for a specific reason.

Good Friday Gives Your Shame a Choice

(Photo: Monastery of St Onuphrius, traditional Akeldema, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Today, the peaceful Monastery of St. Onuphrius at Akeldema offers no clue to the fact that Judas killed himself at that site—nor does it reveal the Hinnom Valley’s sordid history.

  • Horrific atrocities occurred in the Hinnom Valley during the days of Judah’s kings (2 Chronicles 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31).
  • In Jesus’ day, the city dump lay in this gorge. Some suggest that fires continually burned the trash, and so Jesus used the smoldering landfill of Gehenna as an illustration of hell’s eternal flames (Mark 9:43).

Because Jesus compared the Hinnom Valley to hell, one has to wonder if this is the reason Judas’s desperate regret led him to end his life in this ravine.

Like Judas, you have failed. But Judas’ shame doesn’t have to be yours.

Good Friday gives your shame a choice.

Peter shows us why.

4 Strategies to Fight the Tug of Temptation and Sin

In a previous post, I wrote about a Christian’s struggle with sin and 4 lies we believe about our sin. Let’s take it a step further.

4 Strategies to Fight the Tug of Temptation and Sin

(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Dan Neely. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

In addition to taking a defensive mindset against the lies we often believe, we need to take an active approach to sin and temptation.

Here are 4 basic strategies to help you battle the tug of temptation and sin on your heart.

Christians Struggling with Sin and 4 Lies We Believe

Everybody sins. But when we Christians do it, reactions vary. The world points to us as hypocrites—and often uses our sins as justification for their own. Other Christians tend to view our sins as reasons to suggest we aren’t even saved.

Sunrise at Carolina Beach North Carolina

(Photo by Bigroger27509. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

But the people who offer the most brutal judgment against our sins?

Very often, it’s ourselves.

That’s because Christians struggling with sin tend to believe four lies.

The Grace of God in my Favorite Les Misérables Scene

The 2012 cinematic adaptation of the musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Misérables, was tremendous. But my favorite adaptation of the novel was the 1998 film starring Liam Neeson. There’s a reason.

from Columbia Pictures, Inc.

(Photo: from Columbia Pictures, Inc. 1998)

Even though the acting is superb, and the costumes, music, and scenes look first-rate, there is another element that outshines them all.

The grace of God.

Before I show you the clip of my favorite scene, here’s a brief set-up: Jean Valjean is a ex-convict living in pre-revolutionary France. Just released from prison, he wanders the streets because no one will take him in. Finally, a kindly old bishop feeds him and lets him sleep overnight.

Let’s watch my favorite scene in the movie to see what happens.

Timna Park—A Portrait of Your Atonement on Yom Kippur

Tucked away among the steep sandstone formations in Israel’s Arabah Valley sits a place most visitors never see.

Timna Park’s best-known attraction is called “Solomon’s Pillars”—beautiful Nubian sandstone formations that have nothing to do with King Solomon. But they’re fun to climb. The park also features relics from Egyptian idol worship as well as interpretive signs about ancient copper mining.

But the best part of Timna Park is its least-known exhibit. Or perhaps, it’s the least-mentioned.

Tabernacle model at Timna Park.

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

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.

Clear Your Guilty Conscience in 3 Steps

I read that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle played a joke on twelve of his friends. He sent them each identical telegrams that read: “Flee! All is discovered!” Just four words. But within 24 hours, all 12 fled the country.

Only God can help you clear a guilty conscience.

(Photo: Design Pics, via Vivozoom)

What Conan Doyle did in jest, God does to us in all seriousness.

The Lord will use situations to awaken ignored or unresolved guilt, testing our willingness to come clean and clear a guilty conscience.

Are you willing? Here’s how.