Today Cathy and I fly to Israel to help lead the 2014 Insight for Living Israel Tour. After going to Israel so many times through the years, I have to be honest . . . it never gets old.
(Photo: The Mediterranean coast of Israel at Tel Aviv)
I’ll be blogging daily along our journey. Here’s how you can follow along:
- To get daily posts and pictures, subscribe to my blog. If you already are a subscriber, I won’t be emailing any more than the usual 3x a week. You’ll just see two days at once.
- Each day I’ll post new pictures via my Instagram feed—as they happen! You won’t see these pics in the email, so check them out on my blog.
A Life-Changing Journey for Many
For many who will join us on our tour, this trip will be their first to the Holy Land. What a treasure awaits them!
My request of you? Please pray for us. Specifically, for:
- Good health and adequate rest
- Safe travel . . . alert bus drivers . . . agreeable Israeli guides
- Excellent weather
- Opportunities to share Christ with those who may not know Him
- God’s grace for Chuck Swindoll as well as for those of us who will be teaching at various sites. (I’ll be serving as the Bible teacher on Bus 6.)
Shalom . . . and thank you for praying!
Sometimes the ordinary days make us wonder if God has forgotten us. After all, when we read the Bible, it all seems so exciting. Our lives, on the other hand, seem boring.
But the natural events in Joseph’s ordinary day in the Dothan Valley revealed God behind the scenes.
Jacob’s 10 oldest sons had traveled north to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem. So Jacob dispatched Joseph, whom he loved more than all his other sons, from the Valley of Hebron to check on their welfare.
When Joseph arrived, he found that his brothers had moved further north to the lush pastures of Dothan. Seeing him in the distance, the brothers—jealous of their father’s love for Joseph—purposed to kill the boy. But the presence of a nearby cistern convinced them instead to hurl Joseph into it—and leave him there to die (see Genesis 37:12-28).
It seemed that God dropped the ball. But His painful providence would prove wiser than Joseph’s limited insight.
The same is true for you. God uses your natural stuff in His marvelous plan.
God’s leading is often strange. That’s because He doesn’t share the plan. He keeps it a secret.
We want God’s plan so we can trust the plan. God hides the plan so we will trust Him.
(Photo by Tom Butler, courtesy of oomf.com)
Genesis began with God blessing all He created. But the fall of man, Abel’s murder, the rebellion at Babel, and the global flood gave cause to doubt that there would be any recovery of that blessing. Genesis 3–11 sketches more than 4,000 years of suffering that people experienced under the curse of sin.
But God’s plan chose one man through whom He would resurrect His blessing for all mankind.
Your life may seem in chaos as well. But God has a plan He is hiding.
Don’t you just love it when God drags His rake across the soil of your heart and unearths all kinds of junk below the surface?
Well it happened to me again this week. Just like it happened this time last year.
(Photo: Michael W. Smith at the National Religious Broadcasters 2014)
I just returned from the National Religious Broadcasters annual convention in Nashville. This conference is a yearly microcosm of the most gifted communicators, broadcasters, and creatives in the kingdom of God.
Some of the rest of us showed up too.
I’m going to be honest and a bit vulnerable in this post and share how I blew it last year and how this year started off headed the same direction.
Last year I was caught flatfooted. But this year I approached it differently.
I have anthills in my yard. I enjoy making mesas out of their mounds by running over them with the lawnmower or crushing with one step what took them hours to build.
But as soon as I destroy their work, they immediately begin to rebuild. And they do it together.
My favorite comic strip of yesteryear, “Calvin & Hobbes,” shows Calvin standing by an anthill shouting,
Hey ant, you’re working like a maniac and what have you got to show for it? What’s the colony done for you lately? What about your needs? You don’t owe anybody anything! Let the others fend for themselves! Move out! Discover yourself! Express your individuality!
The last frame shows Calvin grinning and saying, “If they listen, this should solve our ant problem.”
The Bible also points us to the ant to learn a lesson that will help our lives.
I have owned four Labradors over the years. Every one of them had dreams. Most of these dog dreams looked violent, even nightmarish.
Muscles jerking, lips twitching, teeth bared, paws running, barking, growling—they look like some Freudian alter ego quivering on the living room floor.
(Photo by Eugene0126jp. Own work, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
I’m convinced that if I would connect their tails to a 220-volt cable and turn on the juice, they would not have convulsed more violently.
On one occasion I literally thought our dog Rayah was having a seizure, so I touched her. She stopped convulsing, looked up at me, took a deep breath, and closed her glassy eyes again. Just a dream. No wonder Labradors snooze twelve to eighteen hours a day. They need rest from all that exhausting sleep! (Our current Lab snores louder than any human I’ve heard.)
I have often wondered what our dogs dream. I mean, all they know of the world comes from the backyard. What could be so exciting?
A dog’s dreams are frequent and violent, therefore comical—and insignificant.
Our own dreams, however, get more attention. But should they?
Sometimes God takes you the long way. And honestly? It’s tough to hang on when the direct route makes so much more sense. We’re all about efficiency. But God has a different destination in mind.
Strange, but this seems to be the Lord’s standard procedure. Take the exodus, for starters.
(Photo by Bill Nicholls. CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
The nation of Israel began their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land by promptly turning away from it.
Rather than take the shorter, coastal route to Canaan, God directed Israel southeast toward the Red Sea. The direct route led through the land of the Philistines, and while God could have simply destroyed the enemy (as He would at the Red Sea), His concern lay more with the unprepared and fearful hearts of His people (Exod. 13:17-18).
So God took them the long way. And it seemed pointless. But was it?
Your marriage is like the Death Star. Oh, I don’t mean it’s a large instrument of destruction and devastation. It’s something else. See if you can spot it in this clip.
Did you see it? Perhaps this quote by Plato will help:
The life of the nation is the life of the family written large. —Plato
Still stumped? The foundation of a nation is the family, and the foundation of the family is the marriage. If you can destroy marriage, you have begun a chain reaction that will dissolve the family, and eventually, the nation.
The key word is vulnerability.
Here’s how your marriage is like the Death Star—and more importantly, how you can protect it from what makes it vulnerable.
It started when we were kids. We still deal with it in today. We fail to receive love, and we drag bruised emotions behind us for years, still aching for affirmation.
Before we know it, our attitude becomes: “Who will make me feel good today?” Oh, we won’t say that, but we seek it. The result? We get to feeling depressed.
It’s not only relationships that challenge our joy. I remember reading about a woman who suffered from a disease of chronic fatigue. She decided to perform on herself the ancient procedure of trepanning—the cutting away a section of the scalp and drilling into the skull. After the operation she made a statement.
I was prone to occasional bouts of depression and felt something radical needed to be done.
When you’re feeling depressed—for whatever reason—and you need to do something, here’s what you can do.
And what you should never do.
As a way of saying thanks to my blog subscribers, each person receives a free copy of my e-book, Grow Strong: 30 Devotions to Deepen Your Christian Life.
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