Jesus said, “I am the gate.” In using this metaphor, the Lord drew upon a practice shepherds did that they still do today.

Using either a rock wall or a cave, the shepherd leads his sheep into the pen with a narrow opening of rocks for passage. The pen offers shelter and security for his flock. By staying in the narrow gap, the shepherd serves as the “gate”—the only way in or out of pen.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. —John 10:9–10

Jesus also drew upon the occasion to show that once a person is saved, he or she can never lose that salvation:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. —John 10:27–30

What a comforting promise from one who is no less than God!

Question: What do you like most about Jesus’ metaphor? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

God Can Change Your Trouble to Triumph

Some places evoke bad memories. Maybe it was your hometown. Or perhaps the house where you grew up or the school you attended. The place itself is neutral. But the events associated with it have forever changed it in your memory.

God Can Change Your Trouble to Triumph

(Photo by Photodune)

The Valley of Achor was such a site. After Joshua’s victory at Jericho, the Israelites suffered defeat at Ai because a man named Achan had buried banned spoils of war under his tent (Joshua 7:1, 21).

After this event, the valley served as a reminder of failure, of setback, and of defeat. But God would change the place from a site of trouble to a place of triumph.

He can do the same for you.

People must be given room to grow, which includes room to fail, to think on their own, to disagree, to make mistakes. Grace must be risked, or we will be stunted Christians who don’t think, who can’t make decisions, who operate in fear and without joy because we know nothing but someone else’s demands and expectations.

Charles R. Swindoll
The Grace Awakening (Thomas Nelson, 2010), p. 55.

The City of David’s Strength and King David’s Weakness

In King David’s day, the city of Jerusalem stood as a renovation and expansion of Jebus, a site the Hebrews never occupied in the territory of Benjamin.

The City of David’s Strength and King David’s Weakness

(Photo: The City of David at right, opposite the modern village of Silwan. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Those who come to Jerusalem today for the first time are often surprised to learn that the original Jerusalem, “The City of David,” sat on a mere ten acres just south of the Temple Mount. Hardly impressive, it looks like some third-world neighborhood.

Steep slopes surround the City of David and gave it in a strategic advantage during any military threat. So much so, the inhabitants of Jebus felt confident “David cannot enter here” (2 Samuel 5:6). But he did, and David made the site his new capital.

The steep slopes became King David’s military strength.

But the slopes also played into his moral weakness. Here’s how.

I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK—But That’s Okay

Did you have to teach your kids to disobey? Um, not hardly. In fact, they taught you! There were times when my daughters’ disobedience was hilarious.

I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK—But That’s Okay

(Photo by Photodune)

Years ago when one of my girls was only three, she snuck in the kitchen, climbed on the cabinet, found some candy, went to her room, closed the door, and hid under her bed to eat the sweets. How did she figure out how to do this?

My other daughter was not even two years old yet when she asked for a drink from a bottle. When I gave her a cup instead, she hurled it across the room and screamed, “NNOOO!!!!!” Just precious.

Like you, I never taught my children to disobey. It is in their nature. It’s in my nature too, by the way. And it’s in yours.

But that’s okay. Here’s why.

Chasing the Geography of the Presence of God

It’s hard to imagine an omnipresent God dwelling in one place. And yet, every December we celebrate the fact. God dwells in the confines of a human body. And He is also everywhere.

But the incarnation isn’t the first time God has localized His presence among His people.

Olive groves near Bethlehem

(Photo: Olive groves near Bethlehem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God is both omnipresent and present. King Solomon summed up the seeming contradiction when he prayed:

Will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built. —2 Chronicles 6:18

From creation to Christmas—and from today to eternity.

Let’s take a quick geographical journey and follow movements of God’s dwelling place among us.

Why We Should Default to Grace Rather than to Criticism

I heard them board the airplane before I saw them. A mother was pushing one toddler in front of her and dragging another behind. The only available seats were the three right in front of me.

I had never considered childproof locks on airline seatbelts. Now, I’m certain there’s a market for them. I would have bought one.

Why We Should Default to Grace Rather than to Criticism

(Picture: Meet Theo.)

For more than two straight hours I watched the younger son—who reminded me of Bugs Bunny’s Tasmanian devil—jump, flail, thrash, flap, flop, hop, laugh—but mostly, scream. I don’t remember the name of the older son.

But I’ll never forget the Tasmanian devil’s name: “Theo.” I know because I heard it 863 times.

Absolutely undaunted, the mother used her large voice without embarrassment to correct Theo. She also informed the rest of us what was about to happen.

Once after Theo took his crayon and marked on the wall of the airplane (see the mark on the wall at left?), she jerked him from the window seat and announced to the rest of us, “Sorry about the screaming for the next 10 minutes, folks!” She was right. Little Theo let us have it.

First, Second, and Third Reactions

  1. My first reaction was to wonder why the mother hadn’t brought along a gallon of Tylenol PM. (If not for Theo, then for the rest of us.)
  2. My second reaction to this irritation was—I confess—frustration and resentment. After all, I paid just as much for my loud seat as the lucky people in the quiet part of the plane.
  3. But my third reaction took my attitude in a completely different direction.

God boarded the plane at that moment and somehow found room in my narrow heart.

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.