Tel Dan—Worshipping at the Altar of Convenience

In the end, we'll find God far more satisfying.

Shady walkways. Cool breezes. Abundant streams. Luxuriant foliage. The Tel Dan Nature Preserve draws the locals as well as the travelers. It always has.

Headwaters of Jordan River at Tel Dan

(Photo: Headwaters of Jordan River at Tel Dan. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In natural beauty, Tel Dan has few rivals in Israel. For the ancients, it had everything necessary for abundant living.

While the Hebrews in the south worshipped in Jerusalem, the natural beauty of Tel Dan in northern Israel offered an irresistible alternative. It was picturesque. It was convenient. It was invigorating.

And it was a complete compromise of God’s will.

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Caution: We Worship What We Think We Need

Are people taking the place of God in your life?

When you hear the word “idol,” what comes to mind (other than the TV talent show)? We might think of money, materialism, or even the golden calf. But rarely do we think of people.

We Worship What We Think We Need

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We worship what we think we need—whether it’s God, money, or even people. People make us feel good. Like a sunflower in a sunny field, we face the source that keeps us satisfied and meets our needs. But whom we worship, we will also obey.

That’s why worshipping people—or using them to get what we think we need—leaves us enslaved to them.

Years ago Cathy and I were given a gift certificate to the Dallas Hard Rock Café, which used to be, ironically, a place of worship—the McKinney Avenue Church. Inside the café I saw a 50-ft high stained glass rendering of Elvis, seated on a throne. It reminds me of what British pop singer Robbie Williams said to the BBC Radio:

I’ve got the tattoo on my arm: ‘Elvis grant me serenity.’ Before the gig we all get in a huddle and pray to Elvis to look after us while we’re onstage.

Really? Wow.

God offers a better alternative.

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Resolved

Resolved: 10 Ways to Stand Strong and Live What You Believe (Baker Books, 2016)

Resolutions are easy to make. But the Christian life challenges our resolve to stay committed to God by testing our commitments against fear, rejection, and expectations.

Dr. Lina Abujamra has given us the blessing of another book, Resolved, written in her inimitable style and with her characteristic passion. Lina has seen life in all its raw reality—where it’s from the perspective of an ER doc, a missionary, or a single who wrestles with the church’s expectations of singles.

Lina tackles ten issues that demand our absolute resolve and offers “resolutions,” much as Jonathan Edwards did centuries ago. These chapters urge us to adopt personal resolutions about our lives and believe, love, obey, yield, speak up, have joy, be in community, give, hope, and rest—all with Jesus Christ as a center.

Rescuing the Gospel- The Story and Significance of the Reformation

Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation (Baker Books, 2016)

The issues of the past will always be the issues of today, because they are the issues of life. History is doomed to repeat itself when we fail to learn from it.

In Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation, Erwin Lutzer offers an excellent introduction to the Reformation by asking and answering questions essential to every generation of believers.

Being Better than Your Parents is the Wrong Goal

God gives two questions to answer and two courses to follow.

Growing up in a godly home is no guarantee you’ll follow God. You can live better than your parents did. Or you can live worse. It’s true. But it’s also true that a godless home doesn’t doom you to a failed life.

Being Better than Your Parents is the Wrong Goal

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One man told me had as his goal to be a better father than his father was to him. And he did it. But then he realized that wasn’t enough.

Being better than your parents is doable, sure, but it’s the wrong goal.

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Worth Living

Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love for You Makes You Worthy (Baker Publishing Group, 2016)

We were designed by God with a worth that reflects the dignity He designed us to have. Sin has marred that original design, but it has not removed our longing for God’s original intention. We yearn to know we’re worthy—but our fallen nature seeks sources for that affirmation other than the One who gave us our worth.

Mary DeMuth’s pen has once again dipped in the inkwell of her own painful experience and written what we all feel with questions we all ask: Am I worthy? Am I loved? Am I defined by my past . . . or by what I accomplish?

Better still, Mary has pointed us back to God with answers we all need to hear. She records lies we listen to and truths we need to cling to. She writes:

May you look at yourself in the mirror and genuinely smile at who you see—a woman dearly loved by Jesus, one worth sacrificing for, being gentle with. . . . You are his lovely dwelling place, infused with worth.

I was well into Worth Living before I realized Mary wrote it for women! It ministered to me as well.

Tel Arad—Israel’s Point of Impatience with God

How traveling along the path of the unknown gives us the chance to give God greater glory.

At Tel Arad, the whole land of Canaan lay before the Hebrews. They had waited and wandered forty years in the wilderness. The Promised Land was theirs for the taking. Right there before them!

Tel Arad—Israel’s Point of Impatience with God

(Photo: Arad Israelite fort, courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Instead, God led the Hebrews on a major detour.

Tel Arad in Israel’s Negev offers many benefits to its visitors. It’s an oasis of ancient archaeology. It gives a rare glimpse of Judah’s idolatry.

And it speaks to us today of the need to tap the brakes on our impatience with God’s leading.

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When you want something bad enough, you make the time—regardless of your other obligations. The truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough. Then they protect their ego with the excuse of time. Don’t let yourself off the hook with excuses.

David Heinemeier Hansson, Jason Fried
Rework (Crown Business, 2010), Kindle Location 310.

Why You Should Avoid the Path Of Least Resistance

The life we seek isn't found by avoiding pain. It comes another way.

The path of least resistance is a fact of nature. Rivers always flow around a mountain rather than through it. Electricity always moves through a circuit’s “easiest” route. Human nature is no different. Unfortunately.

Why You Should Avoid the Path Of Least Resistance

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We tend to do that which is easiest, often to the neglect of that which is best.

  • It’s easier to read a magazine than to read your Bible.
  • It’s easier to sit in front of the TV than to spend time with your kids.
  • It’s easier to lose your temper with your spouse than to control it.

Following the path of least resistance can become a habit that guides our lives. We make choices based on what is easiest, most pleasant, or least painful.

But God has a better plan for you.

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Are Your Big Dreams as Big as Your God?

Here's how to tell if your dreams match God's desires for you.

Life gets fueled on dreams. Without big dreams or a purpose, we wither and die. As Christians, we have more to do than get up, work hard, and come home for a few hours of TV . . . only to rise and begin again.

Are Your Big Dreams as Big as Your God?

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If that’s all we do, we will wake up one day and realize life has amounted to a stack of paychecks and a few laughs.

God wants more for us than that.

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