Who is Guarding Your Great Wall?

I just returned from a trip to China with colleagues from Insight for Living. What a vast and beautiful country—and so much potential for ministry. While there, several of us got to visit the Great Wall.

Who is Guarding Your Great Wall?

(Photo: By Hao Wei from China. Flickr. CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I was amazed at how vigilant the wall builders were to ensure the safety of their country against potential enemies. (See some of my pictures below from my Instagram Feed.) Of course, history reveals that a guard allowed the enemy to enter through a gate and compromise the wall’s security. 1500 miles of wall compromised by one traitor in the gate.

In our spiritual lives, we have that same traitor.

Redefining Leadership- Character-Driven Habits of Effective Leaders

Redefining Leadership: Character-Driven Habits of Effective Leaders (Zondervan, 2014)

Most leadership books focus on methods, tactics, strategic planning, and vision. This book hubs on a more essential part of leadership.

The leader.

Joe Stowell redefines leadership from the perspective of a shepherd rather than a CEO. From a person driven by character as opposed to a manager driven by results. From one who leads by serving rather than one who keeps score of outcomes.

Redefining Leadership comes in three parts:

On a layover to Israel, we spent several hours in Philadelphia—the birthplace of our nation. We visited the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and saw Ben Franklin’s grave. Wonderful day.

While there, I got to check off one item from my bucket list:

  • Run the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art!

Yeah, I know . . . kinda nuts. But a lot of fun!

Question: Have you ever run the Rocky steps? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Rocky feet Rocky statue
Rocky music in video from here.

Walk on the Wild Side—Biblical Wildlife Reserve & Red Canyon

How many animals in the Bible can you name? After camels, donkeys, sheep, and goats the mind kind of goes blank, doesn’t it?

Walk on the Wild Side—Biblical Wildlife Reserve & Red Canyon

(Photo: A leopard at the Hai-Bar Biblical Wildlife Reserve. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Biblical Wildlife Reserve in southern Israel exists to provide a place for the protection and breeding of animals that existed in biblical days, as well as other endangered species of the desert.

Combined with the nearby beautiful Red Canyon north of Eilat, these two sites in southern Israel allow visitors a walk on the wild side.

How to Quit a Life of Compromise

If you think about it, King Solomon never started out to build pagan shrines. It was his failure to deal with the tiny spiritual cracks in his heart that produced a life of compromise and dissatisfaction.

You can quit a life of compromise.

(Photo: Design Pics, via Vivozoom)

The backwash from Solomon’s life reminds us how we only kid ourselves when we think we can have a healthy walk with God and still keep our hidden life of compromise on the side.

The good news? We don’t have to.

What Do You Think of When You Hear a Rooster?

One morning when I was in Jerusalem, I chose to have my devotions on the Mount of Olives at sunrise. Making my way through the Old City’s dark and narrow streets, I passed beside the Temple Mount and exited the city on its east side.

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

(Photo: Overlooking Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Photo: צולם ע, via Wikimedia Commons)

After climbing the steep ascent of the Mount of Olives, I sat near its summit as the sun began to warm my back. Turning to Matthew’s Gospel, I read about Jesus leaving the Temple, predicting its destruction, and sitting on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24:1–5).

Looking across the Kidron Valley at the Temple Mount—now crowned with a Muslim shrine—I thought about how Jesus’ prediction proved true. Because Israel rejected Him, they ultimately lost the very objects they hoped to secure through His death—their Temple and their nation (John 11:48).

Suddenly I heard a sound that jerked my mind in another direction.

Nahal Zin and Avdat—A Biblical Border with a View

Moses and the Hebrew nation, traveling in the wilderness of Zin, would have stood speechless as they reached the precipice of this breathtaking canyon—the Nahal Zin.

Nahal Zin and Avdat—A Biblical Border with a View

(Photo: The Nahal Zin and Ein Avdat. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Nahal Zin, or Ein Avdat, drains the northeastern Negev highlands to the Dead Sea, dropping 500 feet in a series of waterfalls. The Ein Avdat spring surfaces at the base of a spectacular 50-foot waterfall to create a saltwater pool 25 feet deep. The origin of the spring remains an enigma.

Visitors today can park at a beautiful overlook and hike down into the canyon. The view is breathtaking.

Even Moses’ jaw would have dropped when he saw it.

Unwrap the Bible’s Treasures in 4 Steps

After I bought my 1897 edition of  The Historical Geography of the Holy Land, I opened its dingy, yellow pages and discovered I couldn’t turn some of them. The London publisher had made an error.

Unwrapped treasures await

(Photo: I have to read this book with a pair of scissors.)

The book was printed on large sheets which were then cut and bound into the book. But some of the edges never got trimmed. I had to cut each pair of pages myself. At first this was a real hassle.

But then it hit me . . . I am the first person ever to read these pages!

The book sat on the shelf of some library or study for over a century—untouched! All its benefits . . . hidden. Nobody read them. Each time I cut a page seemed like cutting the ribbon on an unwrapped present. The rich descriptions George Adam Smith has written are the next best thing to pictures.

I bought a used book no one had used.

An Awkward Question

Then a question popped in my head: How long would it take me to notice if pages of my Bible were stuck together? The Bible is a book of treasures, often unwrapped, because we simply don’t realize its tremendous value to our lives.

I want to share with you 4 steps that can help you unwrap the Bible’s treasures.

7 Questions I Answered on FaithVillage

This year, FaithVillage is highlighting 52 contributors in a weekly post called the FaithVillage Contributor Spotlight. I had the privilege of being first in the line up.

The weekly online interview affords its readers the opportunity to learn more about those who contribute to FaithVillage on a routine basis. They asked me everything from blogging to pitfalls to traveling in the Holy Land.

Here are the 7 questions they asked, as well as my answers.