How Jesus Determined His Priorities

And what we can do when choices toss us a live grenade.

Scripture has always taught God’s people to pursue God’s priorities. But over time, opinions differed on those priorities. No one’s opinion was conclusive. There were no guardrails on truth.

How Jesus Determined His Priorities

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

Religious leaders in Jesus’ day debated on the separation of the important commandments from the less-important ones. One day when Jesus was teaching in the temple, a scribe tossed this live grenade in front of Jesus to see where He stood in the debate:

What commandment is the foremost of all? —Mark 12:28

Jesus’ answer did more than weigh in on the longstanding disagreement.

It helped us understand how to balance our priorities.

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The Wilderness of Zin— Inspiring Awe but Not Obedience to God

Some of God's blessings come only against impossible odds.

I thought I understood the wilderness wanderings of Israel. Then I traveled through the wilderness. On my summer visits there, I never had to check the forecast. It only fluctuated from blistering to broiling.

Machtesh Ramon at sunrise.

Photo: Machtesh Ramon at sunrise. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.

After a searing hike through this wilderness, a traveling companion of mine boarded the bus, his shirt sweat-soaked. He collapsed in his seat, and someone asked him if he now understood why the Hebrews grumbled and failed in obedience to God.

He took a long gulp from his canteen and then blurted, “I’m with them!”

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Please Take My 2015 Reader Survey

I'd love to know what you think.

I want to make my blog more relevant to your needs and interests. To do that, I need to know what YOU think.

Please Take My 2014 Reader Survey

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Since my survey last year, my blog’s readership has almost doubled. That means I may have no clue about you!

By taking this quick survey, you will ultimately help yourself. Why? Because you will help me make my posts even more interesting and relevant to YOU.

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What Freedom Means and Never Means

All those self-evident truths come in a broader context.

On a layover to Israel, we enjoyed some time in Philadelphia. We visited the Rocky steps (yes, I ran them), Betsy Ross’ house, and Ben Franklin’s grave. But I most enjoyed Independence Hall across the street from the Liberty Bell.

George Washington and Wayne Stiles

(Photo: Standing with George Washington in Independence Hall)

There’s nothing like standing where history happened. It reminds us that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were more than just names in a history book or faces on our money. They really lived.

On July 4, 1776, in Independence Hall, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, in which the second paragraph famously begins:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. . .

Independence Hall interior

(Photo: Independence Hall interior, where the Declaration of Independence was debated and adopted)

Even a deist like Thomas Jefferson affirmed there are some truths that are self-evident (i.e. obvious)—truths revealed by our Creator. Rights given that cannot be taken away (that’s what “unalienable” means.)

And although creation offers truths we cannot (logically) deny, many people choose to reject them anyway. And that’s fine. Freedom allows us to choose what we accept or reject.

But there’s something freedom never allows us—and never will.

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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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Update on My Holy Land Tour: Good News and Really Good News

Unless I’m wrong, you love connecting the Bible and its lands to life. In fact, that’s likely one of the reasons you read my blog. And honestly, that’s why I write it—so that we can make that connection together.

Sunrise over Jerusalem

(Photo: Sunrise over Jerusalem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Reading about the Holy Land is one thing, but taking a journey to Israel is something else entirely. Entirely! Admittedly, it’s a wonderful privilege.

I spent many hours preparing for a tour this fall—a tour that follows the life and lessons of Christ in the very places our Savior walked. But I have postponed the tour . . .

If you wanted to go to Israel with me with me this fall, but couldn’t, I have good news. The tour has been rescheduled for one year later—October 2016. It gets better. In fact, I have some really good news.

The tour is much cheaper.

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Giving Your Child Back to God

Hannah's decision at Shiloh shows us how to prepare.

Giving your child back to God can be a tough decision for parents. Eighteen or more years of sacrifice, commitment, and training suddenly bring you to a point of no return.

Giving Your Child Back to God

(Photo by Monkey Business Images via Vivozoom)

Whether it is for college, for the military, or in the natural course of growing up, giving your child back to God is a point every parent has to face.

Hannah’s story shows us how to prepare for it, and then, how to do it.

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How to Breathe When God Steps on Your Air Hose

Habakkuk Helps Us Turn Our Panic to Peace

We aren’t surprised when we see people sidestep God. What shocks us, however, is when God seems to ignore people. The God of the Bible isn’t a far-off deity. So why does He seem so uninvolved?

How to Breathe When God Steps on Your Air Hose

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

God’s response to people’s non-response to Him seems conspicuous by its absence. For those of us who believe in God, it’s tough to breathe when it seems like God is stepping on our air hose.

A prophet with a funny name helps us turn our panic into peace—and to take a deep breath.

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I’m excited about my interview on Insight for Living’s Special Needs Ministry with Colleen Swindoll Thompson. Colleen’s significant ministry encourages special needs families in their spiritual lives. In this interview, Colleen and I discuss the value of waiting on God.

Date: September 1, 2015—September 30, 2015
Appearance: Waiting on God and Special Needs
Outlet: Special Needs Ministry with Colleen Swindoll Thompson
Location: Insight for Living Ministries
Format: Vlog

In this interview we discuss topics found in my book, Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing.