We don’t usually associate Jerusalem with snow. The good folks at SourceFlix.com have given us a beautiful and brief video of the recent snowfall in Jerusalem.

It’s a beautiful picture of God’s Word:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth . . .
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. —Isaiah 55:10–11

Question: Have you ever thought of snow as a picture of God’s Word? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Value of Using Maps in Your Bible Study

Last weekend my family visited the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas to see its exhibit of old Holy Land maps. I enjoyed seeing original maps that dated from the 1500s.

The Value of Using Maps in Bible Study

(Photo: Seeing Holy Land Maps exhibit at the Museum of Biblical Art, Dallas)

It’s amazing how accurate the maps were in spite of the fact that cartographers in the 16th-century had no satellite images to work from. Seeing these maps made me grateful all over again for the tremendous value maps offer us in our study of the Bible.

Do you use maps when you read your Bible? Here’s why you should.

When God Gives You Want You’ve Begged For

Sometimes the only thing worse than God refusing to give us what we want occurs when He gives us want we want. Many years ago, our young daughter had only one thing on her mind.

When God Gives You Want You've Begged For

(Photo by Photodune)

She knew we planned an Easter egg hunt, and she asked if she could eat lots of candy on Easter. We told her no, but she kept after us, day after day. Easter came and she continued to plead. So we decided to let her learn by experience what she refused to learn by instruction. We let her eat as many little chocolate eggs as she wanted.

That night was pitiful.

“Oooooh, mommy, my tummy hurts!” She had learned by experience what she refused to learn by instruction. My toddler’s lesson gets repeated in the life of most of us adults.

But it doesn’t have to.

Can We Trust the Bible—Especially Our Modern Versions?

It’s one thing to believe the Bible represents the Word of God when the biblical authors originally wrote it. It’s something else to say the copies we have today represent Scripture. After all, the originals no longer exist.

Can We Trust Our Modern Bibles?

(Photo by Photodune)

What’s more, what texts we do have reflect many centuries of copying—and many scribal variants. So how can we trust the Bible? How can we have confidence in the reliability our modern Bibles?

Here’s why we can trust our Bibles.

Kadesh Barnea—How to Follow (and Not Get Ahead of) God’s Will

Which seems worse: refusing to follow God though He promises success, or stubbornly pressing forward without Him? Sometimes it’s tough to tell the difference.

Kadesh Barnea—How to Follow and Not Get Ahead of God’s Will

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

God’s people swung on both extremes of this pendulum in the course of one day.

What their experience teaches us can guide us as we anticipate the future God has for us.

Finding and Following God’s Will This Year

There is only one way you will know God’s will for you this year. Relatively speaking, that’s the easy part. But once you know it, then comes the tough assignment: choosing to walk in it.

Finding and Following God's Will This Year

(Photo: by Luca Zanon. Courtesy of Unsplash.com)

From the first verse of Scripture, God revealed how the Earth set the stage for the divine drama of history to take place (Gen. 1:1). From its formless, void beginning, the Lord fashioned the Earth with His intention in its details. From this ground, God made physical people spiritual beings in His image.

Finding and following God’s will was no different for Adam and Eve than it is for us.

We have the same problem they did.

My Top 10 Posts of 2014

I’m always surprised at the most popular posts on my blog each year. Both in 2012 and in 2013 I listed the Top 10 posts. But 2014 surprised me.

My Top 10 Posts of 2014

(Photo by Photodune)

The popular posts range from the practical “how-to” to the rich, devotional emphasis the lands of the Bible offer us.

Here are the Top 10 posts from 2014. And just for grins, I’ll also include the Top 5 posts of all time.

Is there another one you would include?

5 Ways You Can Read More Books Next Year

Last year I tried something I had never done before. I tried to read 50 books by the end of the year (and amazingly, I did). But I wondered if my strategy would work again this year.

5 Ways You Can Read More Books Next Year

(Photo by Photodune)

I thought perhaps last year was a fluke, so I tried it again this year. Guess what? It still works.

Because your life, like mine, is busy, I’d like to share with you 5 ways I’ve found that you can read more books—and 5 ways you can even find some free ones.

(If you’re curious, I’ll also share the 50 books I read—and tell you my favorite.)

Augustine on the Mystery of the Incarnation

For years I have loved this quote by St. Augustine on the mystery of the Incarnation (quoted from his Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany):

Maker of the sun, He is made under the sun. . . .
In [the Father] He remains,
From [His mother] He goes forth.
Creator of heaven and earth,
He was born on earth under heaven.
Unspeakably wise, He is wisely speechless;
filling the world, He lies in a manger;
Ruler of the stars, He nurses at His mother’s bosom.
He is both great in the nature of God,
and small in the form of a servant,
but so that His greatness is not diminished by His smallness,
nor His smallness overwhelmed by His greatness.

From the Stiles home to yours, Merry Christmas!

Question: What fascinates you most about the Incarnation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

On the Mystery of the Incarnation

(Photo: By Wolfgang Sauber. Own work. CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Jesus—God’s Ultimate Missionary

Years ago some American missionaries stayed in our home. They told us about an animated evangelist they saw try to communicate to a Russian audience—through a less-than-animated translator.

Jesus—God's Ultimate Missionary

(Photo: The Moscow skyline, by Dmitry Azovtsev)

The evangelist began, “Okay folks, tonight I want you to tell the Holy Spirit something! I want you to say, ‘Yeeessss!’” (pronounced with three syllables).

But instead of translating the passionate “Yeeessss!” the interpreter flatly translated, “Da.” And when the evangelist hollered, “Now, give God a hand!” the interpreter translated the words literally—and the audience stared at one another in confusion. (“Give Him what?”)

The words were translated, sure, but their meaning failed to connect.

Jesus, on the other hand, was a perfect translator. Here’s how.