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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Being Better than Your Parents is the Wrong Goal

God gives two questions to answer and two courses to follow.

Growing up in a godly home is no guarantee you’ll follow God. You can live better than your parents did. Or you can live worse. It’s true. But it’s also true that a godless home doesn’t doom you to a failed life.

Being Better than Your Parents is the Wrong Goal

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One man told me had as his goal to be a better father than his father was to him. And he did it. But then he realized that wasn’t enough.

Being better than your parents is doable, sure, but it’s the wrong goal.

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Why You Should Avoid the Path Of Least Resistance

The life we seek isn't found by avoiding pain. It comes another way.

The path of least resistance is a fact of nature. Rivers always flow around a mountain rather than through it. Electricity always moves through a circuit’s “easiest” route. Human nature is no different. Unfortunately.

Why You Should Avoid the Path Of Least Resistance

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We tend to do that which is easiest, often to the neglect of that which is best.

  • It’s easier to read a magazine than to read your Bible.
  • It’s easier to sit in front of the TV than to spend time with your kids.
  • It’s easier to lose your temper with your spouse than to control it.

Following the path of least resistance can become a habit that guides our lives. We make choices based on what is easiest, most pleasant, or least painful.

But God has a better plan for you.

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How Jesus Took Life in the Fast Lane in Stride

The One Thing Jesus Did to Change Activity to Efficiency

Is this true of you? Whenever I find myself with a free moment, I feel compelled to fill it with something productive. Because I hate to waste time, I fill it with activity and justify it as productivity.

How Jesus Took Life in the Fast Lane in Stride

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But I’m learning that constant movement doesn’t always represent efficiency. It could, moreover, represent just the opposite.

As with every other part of the human experience, Jesus remains our model of efficiency. But His life—even before the cross—was no easy walk:

  • The demands on Him were constant.
  • The needs He faced were overwhelming.
  • The expectations He encountered were unrealistic.

No person was ever more qualified to do it all, and yet Jesus took life in the fast lane in stride.

What was His secret?

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What Makes Your Nostalgia So Risky?

Here's best way to counter a glorified memory.

Years ago Cathy and I traveled with another couple to a park near their hometown. After we arrived, they pointed to an old store and said: “The ice cream there is great!” So we bought some. Bad idea.

Are You Glorifying Nostalgia

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After our first few licks, Cathy and I looked at each other with the same unenthusiastic expression. Great ice cream? Hardly. It tastes like chemicals.

Then it hit me. What was “great” to the other couple had nothing to do with the ice cream they lapped with gusto. They simply savored the childhood memory of getting ice cream at that store.

Nostalgia flavors the facts. On one hand, that’s a good thing. It serves us great memories.

But on the other hand, it also offers significant risks.

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What to Do When God is Not Fair

Discovering the hidden blessing of not getting what we've earned.

Unfair. That’s how it feels. Remember that Christmas when your sister opened the gift you wanted? Or when your brother got a T-bird and you got stuck with the family Nova? Not fair.

What to Do When God is Not Fair

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Fast forward to today and ask yourself how it hits you when:

  • A coworker gets a raise but you do more work—or perhaps, his work?
  • A neighbor decorates her home from an unrestricted budget and you’re gluing the peeling wallpaper back on the wall?
  • Your job reduces your salary because of the economy, but another business gives raises and bonuses?

There’s a reason Scripture has to command us not to covet. It’s in our nature. It’s systemic. If we can’t have more than others, at least we want it equal. But less than others? Uh, no.

Because that’s not fair.

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Your Rededication to God Can Begin Right Now

Get back to where you once belonged.

If you have visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, you’ve likely seen the etching engraved on the top of the steps. It marks where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” Standing in the shadow of Lincoln gave greater force to Dr. King’s words that day. The site intensified the message.

Rededication

(Photo: warrengoldswain, via Vivozoom)

I’m convinced that’s why Joshua regathered the young Hebrew nation to Shechem. The geographical context of his words played a significant role. They spoke as loudly as Joshua did that day.

And they speak to us.

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How to Face the Future without Fear

God gives only one way to make it happen.

My favorite New Years Eve happened before the infamous Y2K. I pulled a practical joke that made the people in my grandmother’s house believe their fears about the future were true.

How to Face the Future without Fear

(Picture: By Flickr user: 29cm CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

My relatives had gathered to watch the televised countdown at New York City’s Times Square. Midnight hit America first on the east coast, so all eyes waited to see what would happen at midnight.

  • Would all power go dark in America?
  • Would computers suddenly stop working?
  • Should we stockpile more food?

While no one was looking, I snuck outside and found the breaker box to my grandmother’s house.

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The Power of God’s Providence in Your Life

Christmas shows us our chances are really God’s choices.

The first Christmas looked like a coincidence. From a human perspective, politics set the agenda: Caesar took a census of his people. Period. End of story.

The Power of God's Providence in Your Life

(Photo: Camel caravan. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But from the divine viewpoint? God orchestrated ordinary events for extraordinary outcomes.

Think about this past year in your life. Many ordinary events occurred. Most you don’t remember. But God has been working. It isn’t just the Christmas story. It’s your story too.

God uses the power of providence in your life as well.

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Thankfulness Comes from One Simple Word

How your loss carries with it perspective that brings gratitude.

This week we tend to focus on thankfulness for all we have. But sometimes it helps also to think about what we’ve lost. Loss carries with it a perspective that makes us grateful like few other things can.

Thankfulness Comes from One Simple Word

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I’ve come to understand how loss in life is one of God’s greatest ways to cultivate a grateful heart.

Have you lost something important? Thankfulness comes from one simple word.

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