How to Get Your Roots to Reach Deep

The silent, unseen essentials of what makes life really matter.

After my grandfather died years ago, I planted an oak tree in his memory in our front yard. The skinny stem stood only 6 feet tall (like Granddad did). I planted it on a windy day.

How to Get Your Roots to Reach Deep

(By Almonroth. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

A few hours later, my neighbor hollered: “Hey, Wayne, your tree was really leaning over in the wind!” I grabbed the trunk and slightly bent the tree over. The whole base moved, because it had no root system yet. So I staked it down.

Two years later when I bent the tree, the base didn’t move. But you know what? The tree looked the same. No visible change. Its goal for its first two years was its roots, not its limbs and leaves.

That little sprig offers a contrast (and a lesson) to you and me.

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For years I have enjoyed using the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands for personal study, as well as for most photos of Bible lands on my blog. Only recently have I seen a collection that takes the magnificent photos from this collection to the next level. 

The same producers have just released the Photo Companion to the Bible, with the Gospels as their first collection. After looking through it at key places in the gospels where I had questions about a location, I found those questions answered, explained, and illustrated in such detail! 

Just watch the video above to see what I mean. 

The Photo Companion to the Bible provides digital photographs through PowerPoint presentations (I view them in Keynote) that illustrate the Gospels verse by verse. In fact, every chapter is illustrated with between 40–230 photographs.

Here are a few of the features: 

  • Completely a digital download for instant access (with option to get the DVD too)
  • New aerial photographs of Galilee and Jerusalem 
  • Detailed markings of routes that Jesus traveled 
  • Annotations explaining image selection and background 
  • Free lifetime updates
  • Generous copyright permissions 
  • Satisfaction guaranteed

As a Bible teacher, this collection has instantly become an indispensable resource to me. I wouldn’t consider teaching the Gospels without first referring to this collection. 

Photo Companion to the Bible

I’m impressed, to say the least, so much so that I urge you get this resource. With the money-back guarantee, you take no risk.

(By the way, I wasn’t asked to write a review, nor do I make anything off your purchase. I simply believe in this product enough to recommend it to you.) 

The low introductory price lasts only through tomorrow (August 21). So take advantage of the offer

The Secret to Walking the Path of Wisdom

The practical book of Proverbs makes it clear.

The first steps we take in a decision often make sense. But the connection between those steps and their final outcome often seems unrelated. Walking the path of wisdom has a domino effect far greater than we can imagine.

The Secret to Walking the Path of Wisdom

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

For us, a disciplined intake of Scripture certainly promises wisdom. But wisdom offers a course of action, not just a course of instruction.

The book of Proverbs reveals the outcome of the pathways we are walking. And it tells us how to stay on the path of wisdom.

Here’s how.

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Banias Falls—Where Your Overwhelming Despair Meets its Hope

How Jesus’ resurrection gives the solution to the despair we feel.

Sometimes despair can wash over us like a wall of water. One moment we’re dry—the next, we’re dripping with discouragement. I’m talking about an overwhelming sense that it will never get any better. 

Banias Falls-Where Your Overwhelming Despair Meets its Hope

(Photo: Banias Falls. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

“What if,” to quote Jack Nicholson, “this is as good as it gets?” I don’t know about you, but despair can be one of my greatest struggles. In those moments, I travel in my mind back to Banias. 

The psalmist used the waterfalls at Banias in northern Israel to express a similar question and emotion. But he also had a solution of hope we need to turn toward when we feel overwhelmed by despair.

In fact, Jesus gave us that ultimate hope in the exact same region.

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How to Keep Going When You Can’t Keep Going

Remember that any victory presupposes a struggle in your life.

You’re not stuck. If God has you in a place where your gifts are not fully utilized, or if you feel set aside in God’s grand plan, or if those around you have marginalized you, trivialized you, or flat-out rejected you, I understand how tough that is.

How to Keep Going When You Can’t Keep Going

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

But you’re not stuck. God isn’t done with you. (If he were, you’d be dead.)

Here’s what perseverance looks like when you can’t keep going.

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Israel’s International Highway—A Picture of Your Influence

Always ask yourself: Who is influencing whom?

Where God places us is no accident. Throughout biblical history, the land of Israel sat in an amazingly strategic position as the only intercontinental land bridge between the superpowers of the ancient world.

The most important international highway of the Fertile Crescent ran the length of the land of Israel.

The Via Maris Highway—Israel's Picture of Your Influence

(Photo: The Via Maris ran beside ancient Tel Hazor. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Some call this international highway the Via Maris, or the “Way of the Sea.” Any nation coming to or from Egypt, or traveling from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Aqaba, had to go through Israel. For many years, Israel remained the crossroads for international imperialism, war, and trade.

It’s hard to believe at first, but this highway offers a practical principle for our daily lives.

It’s all about influence.

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How to Keep Your Spiritual Horse from Racing to the Barn

Our greatest motivation to obey comes from a better place than fear.

Have you ever ridden a horse that wanted to run for the barn? You have to keep constant tension on the reins, and never for one moment relax your grip. Actually, you’re riding that horse right now. 

How to Keep Your Spiritual Horse from Racing to the Barn

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

I remember once as a boy riding a horse on my grandfather’s farm. The horse figured out he could go to the barn whether I wanted him to or not. So, off he (not we) started running! After about 60-seconds of a full-on run, the saddle loosened and I fell off sideways— spinning and flipping in prairie dust and brambles.

My only consolation was the hope that the saddled chaffed the horse as he wore it upside down.

For some real horses, you have to keep them from even seeing the barn. If you neglect to control your mount, and that animal begins to trot barn-ward, you will find yourself riding an animal out of control. There’s no stopping it.

I can’t think of a better illustration for the struggle in your spiritual life.

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How Gethsemane Helps Stretch Your Prayers Past Your Pain

By asking only for relief, we may miss a surprising blessing.

It’s possible your prayers don’t go far enough. Maybe they need some stretching. I know mine do. Often our prayers begin and end with asking God to change the way things are around us.

How Gethsemane Helps Stretch Our Prayers Past Our Pain

(Photo: Mosaic of Jesus praying in Gethsemane. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Our prayers have a familiar pattern:

  • “Provide enough money this month”
  • “Protect us as we travel”
  • “Heal my friend from pain”
  • —etc.

These are fine prayers, and all legitimate, but incomplete. They just don’t go far enough. By asking only for relief, we may miss a surprising blessing. 

Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane helps us stretch our prayers past our pain.

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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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What to Do When God Gives You a Hard Command

Why God Teaches You the Same Thing Over and Over Again

What God teaches us in one area of life we can easily miss in another area. So God has to repeat Himself. But sometimes the connection isn’t so easy for us to make.

Why God Teaches You the Same Thing Over and Over Again

(Photo: Waves crash ashore on the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Jesus performed more miracles in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee than any other place in His ministry. Standing on its shores, one can easily see across the shallow lake. The hills to the east and west tower above the water. As cool air from these heights rushes down the slopes into the lake’s warmer basin, winds can whip up the surface of the water to deadly proportions.

A small craft, such as the one Matthew reported the disciples clung to during a stormy night, could find itself foundering in an instant.

In one day, Christ taught His disciples a simple truth we should never forget.

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