The Inestimable Value of Solitude with God

Saint George's Monastery in the Judean Wilderness reminds us to get away with God.

In our lives busy with people, it’s tough to appreciate the value of solitude with God. But one look at Saint George’s Monastery in the Wilderness of Judea gives us reason to pause and ponder the necessity of solitude with God.

Saint George's Monastery—The Value of Solitude with God

(Photo: Saint George’s Monastery. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

As I scanned the monastery’s blue domes and white arches that dot the colorless canvas of the wilderness, I marveled at the time and ingenuity it would have taken to build and rebuild these structures.  

I found myself wondering, Why would ANYONE want to live way out there? A friend of mine wondered if the monks in the monastery thought the same thing about us.

Sometimes in our hurry, it does us good to contemplate the value of solitude.

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One Question from Jesus Can Help You Not Compare Yourself with Others

What to do when other lives seem better than yours.

Someone else’s stuff always seems better than ours. Have you noticed? Even their struggles seem better. The temptation to compare yourself with somebody else can be devastating in the Christian life.

What Helps You Not Compare Yourself with Others

(Photo: By Michael Johnson, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

When Peter first met Jesus, the fisherman followed the Master out of a motive for glory and a prime seat in the kingdom of God. Peter wanted to be the “greatest” in comparison to others. But after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, a single conversation along the shores of the Sea of Galilee at Tabgha changed Peter’s whole frame of reference.

That conversation can also help you not compare yourself with the lives of others.

It can free you to follow Jesus as an individual.

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How to Disarm Your Short Fuse of Impatience Right Now

Strength from God as you stand in life's long line of slow servers.

Do you have a long fuse or a short one when you get dawdling service at restaurants? For some reason, life hands us a long line of slow servers. At lunch not long ago my family got poor service from our waiter. Here’s what happened.

How to Disarm Your Short Fuse of Impatience

(Photo by Photodune)

I never let on to the waiter that I was miffed, yet inside my fuse was burning. Here’s why:

  • The table next to us ate and left before we did, though we arrived at the same time.
  • Our water glasses were often empty and the food order came out wrong.
  • The waiter fouled up the bill.
  • I was late getting back to work.

But then, just before we left, I felt like a complete idiot. The waiter made mention that it was his first day. You see, the problem wasn’t his incompetence.

It was my impatience.

Life hands us a line of slow servers. Does God offer some help?

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When Struggles Strain Your Relationship with God

Here’s what to think and what to do.

You will face disappointment today. I will too. Honestly, when these frustrations and discouragements come barging in as unwelcome guests, the promise of God’s presence with us often feels thin.

When Struggles Strain Your Relationship with God

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Frequently, we respond to these disappointments like Gideon did:

If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? (Judg. 6:13).

We say this (or think it privately) because we have a firm opinion of what God being “with us” looks like.

No pain.

But such a view treats the Bible like a buffet lunch where we pick and choose what we want to swallow about God. When we do that, the plate we hold in our hands represents a god in our image—a freak unlike the God whose tells us His ways are not like ours.

Why would we want to worship a God we can control or understand? Where is the awe in that?

There’s a better way to think about it—and a better way to respond.

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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

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

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 to Do When You Feel Insignificant

One truth easy to forget can make all the difference.

When we find ourselves dissatisfied with what God has us doing, it could reveal that we’ve confused our significance in serving God with our significance to God.

What to Do When You Feel Insignificant

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

I’ve been there just like you have. When we get frustrated that our lives seem to accomplish nothing or that our ministry bears little fruit, we need to review our motives for life and ministry. Rather than merely measure productivity and activity, we need to value the “little things,” such as intentions, faithfulness, and faith.

Our relationship with God remains more important to Him than our ministry for Him.

Here’s why.

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What to Do When Unscrupulous Opportunists Cut You Off

And the one question we should ask ourselves when we get sideswiped.

Last week a pickup almost ran me off the highway. The driver sped past until his truck bed paralleled my hood. Then with no pause, he lurched into my lane! I’ll call him Mr. Chevy.

What to Do When Unscrupulous Opportunists Cut You Off

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No blinker. No wave. No kidding. Just here I come to squash the little Prius! Mr. Chevy came close to doing it.

If fact, if I hadn’t slammed my brakes, the monster truck would have sideswiped me at 65 M.P.H. and sent me careening off a bridge like Evel Knievel vaulting over Snake River.

Okay, sure, rather than call Mr. Chevy a “narcissist” (that’s one way to paraphrase what I screamed—a mere ten minutes after my quiet time), I guess I should have given him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he may have been racing to the hospital or the grocery store or something.

It’s one thing to deal with unscrupulous drivers on the highway. They surprise us yet seldom shock us. But dealing with this behavior from someone on our own team, where we all should look out for the benefit of others, can do more than anger us.

It should force us to ask ourselves a question.

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Don’t Shove Out Chivalry Just Yet

Why I’m convinced true chivalry isn’t chauvinism.

Cathy and I went to the grocery store not long ago. We parked, and I got out of the car to open the door for her. As I took her hand, I heard a loud voice behind me blurt: “I don’t believe it!”

Don’t Shove Out Chivalry Just Yet

(Photo by Photodune)

I turned around to see a woman with a flabbergasted face. “You opened the door for her! I didn’t think that happened anymore.”

I smiled. “It happens every day.” She walked off, shaking her head.

On another occasion several years ago, I was about to enter an office building and noticed through the glass doors a lady about to exit. I opened the door for her. This smartly dressed woman stopped and gave me a severe look. Her words surprised me.

“Don’t open the door for me just because I’m a woman,” she said. My response was quick but kind.

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What’s Your Motive? There’s One Way to Tell

How Tisha B'Av & the Burnt House Examine Us

I find it fascinating that when the New Testament talks about God judging our motives, it uses the metaphor of a burnt house. In Jerusalem, one site I pass always begs the question: “What’s your motive?”

How Tisha B'Av & the Burnt House Examine Us

(Photo: The Burnt House in Jerusalem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Some call it coincidence. Some call it Providence. But according to tradition, both the First and Second Temples (in 586 BC and AD 70) were destroyed on the same date in history. Tisha B’Av marks the 9th day of the month of Av—the fifth Jewish month. During the exile, the Jews instituted a fast to commemorate the Temple’s destruction. After they returned to Jerusalem, they asked God a question about Tisha B’Av:

Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years? —Zechariah 7:3

Their question made sense.

They had observed the fast in exile, but should they continue to fast on Tisha B’Av now that they were building the Second Temple? God’s answer to their question reaches beyond them to the heart of why we do what we do.

One question gets to the heart of our heart.

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Blessed are the Flexible for They Shall Not Be Broken

Does God really have the freedom to stretch you?

We love the idea of following God’s lead. We marvel at the changes a sovereign God brings. What isn’t so thrilling is when God—without warning—stretches us far beyond our capacity.

Blessed are the Flexible for They Shall Not Be Broken

(Photo by Photodune)

One morning not long ago I simply rolled over in bed, and I felt a sharp POP in my back—followed by an excruciating current up my spine. I had thrown my back out just by rolling over in bed! I eased out of bed and literally had to crawl across the room.

A couple of days later at my physician’s office, he entered the room with my x-rays under his arm. “Your back is fine,” he said. “You’re real problem is something else.”

Hint: It’s the same problem in my spiritual life. (And yours.)

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