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.

Seeing Far in Southern Israel

Anyone who wants a taste of the environs the Hebrews experienced during their wilderness wanderings needs to visit southern Israel. Here you can see far.

Seeing Far in Southern Israel

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

For instance, in the southern Wildernesses of Paran and Zin the ground is composed of flint and sharp rocks, gravel, and soil with deep cracks.

  • Here the Hebrews wandered for four long decades (Numbers 10:12; 12:16).
  • From here Moses sent the spies out to check out the Promised Land (Numbers 13:1-3).
  • Four centuries earlier, this wilderness saw Hagar and Ishmael after they left Abraham (Genesis 21:20-21).

This wilderness area of southern Israel lets you see far—in more ways than one.

I’m excited to lead an upcoming tour to the Holy Land which will focus exclusively on the life of Jesus. This will be an exclusive, one-bus tour, seeing sites that average tours to Israel don’t get to see—around a theme most never get to experience first-hand. Click for more information.

I hope you’ll join Cathy and me for this trip of a lifetime.

Date: October 26, 2015—November 5, 2015
Event: Holy Land Tour on the Life of Jesus
Topic: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus
Sponsor: Morning Star Tours
972.690.0092
Venue: Israel
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

10 Accountability Questions to Grow Your Christian Life

In the workplace, in our churches, and in the government, we expect accountability. And yet in our personal lives, accountability often strikes us as a negative thing.

10 Accountability Questions to Grow Your Christian Life

(Photo By Joshua Earle. Courtesy of Unsplash.com)

That’s natural, I guess. Even in the Christian life, we expect others to do what’s right, but we often give ourselves a hall pass because our motives are good. Yet in holding this double standard, we can miss a huge benefit of growing in the Christian life.

In a previous post, I shared 3 benefits to having an accountability group. Committing to a group who will ask accountability questions really is nothing more than asking others to encourage you in the essential areas where you want to succeed in the Christian life. More than anything, accountability questions help you to be who you really want to be.

Here are the 10 accountability questions my group asks each week as well as a link for you to download the list.

I’m excited to serve as the conference speaker at Horn Creek Christian Camp this winter. I’ll be teaching on the life of Joseph as it relates to “Waiting on God,” the title of my upcoming book. I would love for you to bring in the New Year with my family in beautiful Colorado!

Date: December 28, 2014—January 2, 2015
Event: Horn Creek Camp at Snowmass Mountain
Topic: Waiting on God
Sponsor: Horn Creek Camp
719.783.2205
Venue: Snowmass Mountain
Location: 6758 County Road 130
Westcliffe, CO 81252
USA
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Rosh Hashanah— It’s Time to Start Over

Everybody uses a calendar. Some hang it on the wall with pictures of puppies, landscapes, or old cars. Others use Google Calendar or carry their schedules on their smartphones. Some do all of these.

Man blowing shofar during Elul at Western Wall.

(Photo: Man blowing shofar during Elul at Western Wall. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

In fact, most of us operate with several calendar systems at the same time. My calendar year begins in January, but I also march to a fiscal year, a school year, and occasionally, a leap year.

But as God’s people—just like the Hebrews of old—a calendar does much more than keep us on schedule. Especially on a New Year.

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, begins this evening and reminds us of essentials we mustn’t forget.

3 Benefits to Having an Accountability Group

For the past 10 years, I have met weekly with 8 other Christian men in our neighborhood for Bible Study, prayer, and accountability.

3 Benefits to Participating in an Accountability Group

(Photo: My group)

I recently commented on Michael Hyatt’s blog about the accountability questions our groups asks each week, and he encouraged me to blog about it. Honestly, I had never thought about that, but it makes total sense.

Too often, accountability takes on a negative slant as we picture ourselves surrounded by pointing fingers and a spotlight of condemnation.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I want to share with you 3 benefits to having an accountability group that can help you in our Christian life.

The mustard plant in Israel grows to a height of 10-12 feet, but it has one of the smallest seeds.

Jesus compared the mustard seed to God’s coming kingdom:

The kingdom of God . . . is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants. —Mark 4:30-32

Compared to the large weeds in our daily world, God’s program seems like a mustard seed—small, insignificant, and ineffective.

But God’s plan is progressing in spite of its seeming insignificance now.

When we feel discouraged at the slowness and secrecy of God’s plan, remember the truth Jesus revealed. What seems small and insignificant now will become the largest of all kingdoms one day.

Keep going. Don’t give up. We have a future with God. (Tweet that.)

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever. —Revelation 11:15

Question: What helps you look beyond today to tomorrow? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Video from SourceFlix.com.

3 Sea of Galilee Sites You’ll Pass But May Not See

The oldest name for the Sea of Galilee is “Chinnereth.” The name means, “harp,” and the lake likely took the name because of the shape of its perimeter.

(Photo: Tel Chinnereth beside the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

(Photo: Tel Chinnereth beside the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Driving around the northern side of Sea of Galilee causes the neck of most folks to turn back and forth a lot. There’s so much to see without ever leaving the vehicle! For example:

  • The Mount of Beatitudes tops a conspicuous slope. You can’t miss the chapel on top.
  • If Capernaum weren’t obvious because of its road sign, the throng of tour buses turning in would give it away.
  • The towering Mount Arbel orients every person to the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee.

But several other sites are less easy to see. That’s because they look like little more than a turn in the road, an inlet in the lake, or a gated-off sidewalk.

All 3 sites are worth tapping the brakes—and even worth the trouble of getting out and enjoying.