Jesus Has Many More Eye-Opening Truths to Teach You

A lesson from Bethsaida shows us how far we have to go.

Many people have never lived a day without knowing the name of Jesus. They grew up with the hymns and knowing the gospels. Others have taken their knowledge of the Savior further through intensive study, Bible school, or even seminary.

A Bethsaida Lesson—Jesus Wants to Teach You Much More

(Photo: The Plain of Bethsaida. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Although many years of knowing Christ often carry with them the danger of familiarity—i.e. complacency—not everyone falls prey to the threat. There is, in fact, another danger.

All of Jesus’ disciples grew up knowing their Bibles. They lived in anticipation of the Messiah. And finally, they had found Him.

  • By the time Jesus brought His disciples to Bethsaida that day, they had followed Him for more than two years.
  • They carried with them the admiration of the crowds.
  • They were leaders, promised by Christ to reign with Him.

What else was there to gain? They had gone as high as they could. Many of us might slip into the same error of thinking.

For the faithful follower of Jesus, there is another danger beyond complacency.

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How to Respond When God Demands from You Something Impossible

The surprising benefits of understanding your limitations.

We tend to expect God to act in ways we can understand. We work, and so God provides money. We pray, and so God answers prayer. We do this, and so God does that. In other words, we see God as the effect and ourselves as the cause.

How to Respond When God Demands from You Something Impossible

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Life is all about God responding, it seems, and if we do nothing, neither will God.

This isn’t true, obviously. But it’s how we feel.

So, what if we’re in a situation where we can do nothing? What happens when we can no longer be the cause?

When God demands from you something impossible?

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Lachish—Blending the Bible, History, & Archaeology

How biblical history weaves a unified story, supporting what the Bible says.

Screams of war had had occurred where I stood. Hebrew and Assyrian arrows spraying at each other. Sling stones crushing armor and skulls. Assyrian battering rams methodically picking apart the city’s outer wall. Finally, Lachish fell.

Tel Lachish—Mixing the Biblical, Historical, & Archeological

(Photo: Relief from Sennacherib’s Victory Over Lachish, in British Museum)

Of all ancient tells in the Holy Land, the Israel Antiquities Authority owns only one—Tel Lachish. It remained the most important city in the southern kingdom of Judah, except for Jerusalem.

Archaeology abundantly points to the biblical events here as historical.

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What Freedom Means and Absolutely Never Means

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

On a layover to Israel, we stopped 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 and the Liberty Bell.

What Freedom Means and Never Means

(Photo by Trent Yarnell)

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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What to Do When People Absolutely Disappoint You

It’s time to graduate from our expectations to Reality 101

After a lifetime of people disappointing us, it’s tough not to develop a thick membrane of cynicism around our hearts. I’m convinced, however, we simply need stiff jolt of reality.

What to Do When People Absolutely Disappoint You

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

We need to come to the place where we realize everybody in our lives will fail us to some degree. Everybody.

  • Our parents will fail us.
  • Our children will fail us.
  • Our spouse, our boss, our friends, and even our pastor—all will fail us.
  • And let me quickly add, we will also fail them.

But you know the most humbling reality? It isn’t easy to write.

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Valley of Achor: How to Change Your Trouble to Triumph

Why You Should Never Give up if You're in a Hopeless Place

Some places hoard bad memories. Maybe it was your hometown or even your home. The events associated with that place have forever tainted its memories. The Valley of Achor was such a site.

Valley of Achor: How to Change Your Trouble to Triumph

(Photo: The Wadi Qilt, perhaps the Valley of Achor. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After Joshua’s victory at Jericho, the Israelites suffered defeat at Ai because a man named Achan had buried banned spoils of war under his tent (Joshua 7:1, 21). Following this event, the Valley of Achor served as a reminder of failure, of setback, and of defeat.

But God would change the place from a site of trouble to a place of triumph.

He can do the same for you.

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Crazy Results You’ll Want to See from My 2016 Survey

Here are the changes I plan to make after the survey.

For the past four years I have surveyed my blog readers in order to find out about your needs, preferences, and interests. This year I learned some surprising results.

Crazy Results You'll Want to See from My 2016 Survey

My goal in writing this blog is to help you connect the Bible and its lands to your life. Each survey helps me do that better than before.

The survey offered some fascinating finds—some affirming and predictable. But some were a total surprise.

I’d like to share the results with you as well as some changes I’ll make as a result.

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Why Some Fundamentals Never Change with God

Yet some rules no longer apply (and why)

Remember the day you left home? For some of us, that day was when we took off for college. For others, it was to take a job. We all had reasons, and we were gone.

Why Some Fundamentals Never Change with God

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

When you left home, some things immediately changed. No longer did you have to be home at a certain time each night. If you wanted pizza ten times a week, you had it. Freedoms increased.

But there were also some things that didn’t change.

  • The speed limit was still 55 mph.
  • You still had to brush your teeth.
  • Right and wrong was still right and wrong.

It’s interesting that in all the changes we experienced, neither our parents nor we had changed. Only the situation changed.

In a similar way, God has managed the world differently at different times. Some things never change with God.

But some do.

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Chasing the Surprising Geography of the Presence of God

How can God be somewhere and everywhere at the same time?

It’s hard to imagine an omnipresent God dwelling in one place. And yet, every December we celebrate the fact. God dwells in the confines of a human body. And He is also everywhere.

But the incarnation isn’t the first time God has localized His presence among His people.

Presence of God

(Photo: Olive groves near Bethlehem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God is both omnipresent and present. King Solomon summed up the seeming contradiction when he prayed:

Will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built. —2 Chronicles 6:18

From creation to Christmas—and from today to eternity.

Let’s take a quick geographical journey and follow movements of God’s dwelling place among us.

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There’s Still Room for You on My Holy Land Tour This Fall

But time is running out. Sign up before July 15!

If you’ve been putting off taking a tour to Israel, I’d like to give you another invitation to join my tour to the Holy Land this fall. The tour already has a great group! But there’s room for you.

On the Mount of Olives overlooking the Temple Mount.

(Explaining the Second Coming of Jesus on On the Mount of Olives)

We still have space on our tour, but I urge you to reserve your place today. Why? Because this is no ordinary tour to Israel.

This will be an exclusive, one-bus tour devoted entirely to following the life of Jesus . . . from His birth in Bethlehem . . . to His ministry in Galilee . . . to His death and resurrection in Jerusalem . . . and His ascension from the Mount of Olives.

Todd Bolen“Wayne Stiles has a unique gift for bringing the biblical world into our own. Some teachers are history gurus, but they can’t translate their research into how it affects us today. Wayne is superb at doing this in his books, on his blog, and at the sites. He is passionate, accurate, and faithful.

I’d encourage you to take the opportunity while you can.”

—Dr. Todd Bolen

Learn the life of Jesus by walking where He walked.

On this tour, I will help you understand the life of our Lord as we connect the Bible and its lands to your life every time we stop—and all along the way.

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