The Kidron Valley – How Your Burial Can Point to Your Faith

Even after death, we can have a powerful witness to the living.

Have you thought where you’ll be buried? The place where someone chooses to get buried is always significant.

  • A hometown family plot is common.
  • The place where one’s ashes are scattered or stored often holds a special association.
  • Even unknown soldiers who die in battle occasionally receive a prominent interment.
The Kidron Valley with olive trees and graves

(Photo: The Kidron Valley with olives trees and graves. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But in Israel, a burial place often exposed one’s faith. The tombs beside the Kidron Valley bear witness to this truth.

Each one offers a connection to resurrection.

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Good Friday Gives Your Shame a Choice

Understand the choice between sin's penalty and sin's remedy.

Good Friday wasn’t so good for Judas. The guilt-ridden betrayer of Jesus hung himself and then fell headlong, spilling his innards. Hence, the residents later named the place where it happened, “Akeldema,” or “Field of Blood” (Acts 1:18-19).

Judas may have chosen this place to die for a specific reason.

Good Friday Gives Your Shame a Choice

(Photo: Monastery of St Onuphrius, traditional Akeldema, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Today, the peaceful Monastery of St. Onuphrius at Akeldema offers no clue to the fact that Judas killed himself at that site—nor does it reveal the Hinnom Valley’s sordid history.

  • Horrific atrocities occurred in the Hinnom Valley during the days of Judah’s kings (2 Chronicles 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31).
  • In Jesus’ day, the city dump lay in this gorge. Some suggest that fires continually burned the trash, and so Jesus used the smoldering landfill of Gehenna as an illustration of hell’s eternal flames (Mark 9:43).

Because Jesus compared the Hinnom Valley to hell, one has to wonder if this is the reason Judas’s desperate regret led him to end his life in this ravine.

Like Judas, you have failed. But Judas’ shame doesn’t have to be yours.

Good Friday gives your shame a choice.

Peter shows us why.

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2 Lessons from Mount Hermon we Must Never Forget

Applying Jesus' commands on and below the Mount of Transfiguration

Sometimes the cross we bear can obscure our view of heaven. God knows that. That’s why He gives us encouragement along with the difficult commands He issues.

Caesarea Philippi and Mount Hermon

(Photo: Caesarea Philippi at the foot Mount Hermon. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

At the foot of Israel’s highest peak, Mount Hermon—near Caesarea Philippi—Jesus told His disciples that He would die in Jerusalem and rise again (Matt. 16:21, 24). Shocked that the Messiah would die, the disciples outright rejected Jesus’ words. On the heels of His unthinkable statement, Jesus made another just as fantastic:

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. —Matthew 16:24

The cross exposed the disciples’ expectations of what they thought following Jesus would bring.

What do you expect from following Jesus? The lessons Jesus gave from Mount Hermon are two we must never forget.

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There’s Only One Gate Jesus Won’t Enter

The keys are in your pocket.

Dotted along Jerusalem’s slopes on either side of the Kidron Valley lie thousands of graves. Some Jewish. Some Muslim. Ironically, both cemeteries lie there, in part, because of the Messiah.

Golden Gate

(Photo: Golden Gate at Jerusalem’s eastern side. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The largest Jewish cemetery in the world dots the side of the Mount of Olives as it slopes down into the valley that separates it from Jerusalem.

Why be buried here?

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The Power of God’s Providence in Your Life

Christmas shows us our chances are really God’s choices.

The first Christmas looked like a coincidence. From a human perspective, politics set the agenda: Caesar took a census of his people. Period. End of story.

The Power of God's Providence in Your Life

(Photo: Camel caravan. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But from the divine viewpoint? God orchestrated ordinary events for extraordinary outcomes.

Think about this past year in your life. Many ordinary events occurred. Most you don’t remember. But God has been working. It isn’t just the Christmas story. It’s your story too.

God uses the power of providence in your life as well.

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God’s Promises—How We Can Know They’re True

One sure way proves God has told us the truth.

When someone makes us a promise, it’s always best to give them the benefit of the doubt. Might as well believe them. Unless, of course, they have a history of fibbing to you.

God’s Promises—How We Can Know They’re True

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

It happened again to me not long ago. A man I know shook my hand and said, “Let’s grab a coffee soon; I’ll call you.” I didn’t say it, but I wanted to reply: “No, you won’t. But thanks.” Does that ever happen for you? Honestly, it doesn’t take many times for someone to fail keeping a promise, and I lose confidence in the person.

The only way we can trust that people will keep their word is if they have kept their word.

The same is true of God’s promises.

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How Sending a Thank-You Note Empowers You

You have the power of encouragement at your fingertips.

Think about one person who has inspired you, encouraged you, or helped you. Got that person in your mind? Now, let me ask you a question: Have you ever sent a thank-you note to that person?

Send a thank you note today!

(Photo: Vivozoom)

Not long ago a client sent a thank-you note to the editors in our department, expressing appreciation for their excellent work. The client told me of the editors’ surprising reply: “No one has ever thanked us before.”

That tragic statement got me thinking.

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Ein Kerem—Waiting on God’s Promise a Long Time

God had something special planned for them—and you.

When we think of the Bible’s Christmas couple, of course we picture Joseph and Mary. But there’s another couple in the Christmas narrative. In fact, they appear even before Jesus’ parents do.

Ein Kerem terraces

(Photo: Tradition places the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth at Ein Kerem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God had been silent for 400 years. No additional Scripture. No more prophecy. No visions. Just waiting for the Messiah. 400 years! Then, God spoke to an old man in Jerusalem. God had been silent to Zacharias and Elizabeth as well. They were elderly and had no children. They prayed for years. But nothing.

God’s Word makes the point that they were righteous in God’s sight—blameless in God’s Law. In other words, their childless home wasn’t because of their unfaithfulness.

Times of waiting on God can even come to a point of what seems impossible. Most times of lack are like that.

Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. (Rom. 8:24, The Message)

God had something special planned for them. And for you.

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The Best Insurance for the Most Certain Event in Your Life

Why you should insure what's certain and not only what's possible.

As worriers, we often place more value on possibilities than certainties. We’ll invest plenty of money to insure ourselves against theft, flood, fire, sickness, or accident—all only possibilities. But we give little thought to the most certain event in our lives.

Death. Even life insurance doesn’t cover that.

The Best Insurance for the Most Certain Event in Your Life

(Photo by Photodune)

I believe in insurance. I pay for it, consider it prudent, and enjoy its benefits. In a way, my blog distributes spiritual insurance in bulk.

  • I explain people’s options and risks regarding the events following death.
  • I do my best to warn them of buying into cheap insurance that looks good up front but raises its premiums exorbitantly and reneges on paying the final benefits of their claim.

Such shams offer heaven for the price of good deeds.

Only God offers the best insurance for the most certain event in your life.

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What You Must Have Before You’ll Have Success

Jesus spoke words of encouragement for moments just like these.

Most of us Christians have experienced those incredible moments of intimacy with God when we have no yearning for any earthly success, much less for sin. Christ becomes our entire desire.

What You Must Have Before You'll Have Success

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

In those times, we make impassioned commitments of absolute dedication. We really believe we have turned a corner in our spiritual lives.

But for some reason . . . it doesn’t last.

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