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

Why our goal is not a place to go, but to journey beside God.

Which seems worse to you? Refusing to follow God even 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.

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How to Put Your Faith in Front of Your Feelings

Why Your Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Bad Day Doesn’t Define Your Life

How do you deal with bad days? In the midst of those moments, it’s easy to feel like things will never get better. The emotion clouds our perspective

How to Put Your Faith in Front of Your Feelings

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

When our daughters were toddlers, my wife would read them Judith Viorst’s wonderful little book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Poor little Alexander had a bad day not because bad things happened. As it turns out, those things happen to everybody. It was a problem of perspective.

When we look at our lives, we tend to rubberneck the wrong direction.

Ultimately, our problem is with God. But we don’t say that. We’ll point to people as the reason pain lurks in our lives. Parents, bosses, children, spouses, and even the devil has his part to play. If God would only bring relief, all would be well.

It’s a problem of perspective, not of circumstance. We need God’s perspective.

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How the Jordan River Reflects Your Spiritual Life

The grace of God we stepped into at the beginning will also lead us home.

Have you noticed how often hymn writers use the Jordan River as a metaphor for transitions in the spiritual life? That may be because the Bible does the same.

How the Jordan River Reflects Your Spiritual Life

(Photo: Jordan River north of Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Jordan River usually flowed a hundred feet wide at the place across from Jericho where Israel crossed over into Canaan after the Exodus (Joshua 3:14–4:23). But because the Israelites crossed at flood stage, the river surged much wider and deeper.

  • When the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stepped into the Jordan, the water ceased its flow 16 miles upstream.
  • This left a stretch of dry land some 20 miles wide for the nation to cross en masse, perhaps several thousand abreast.

Joshua compared the miracle of the parting of the Jordan River with the miraculous parting of the Red Sea (Joshua 4:23). He linked the power of God that allowed them to enter Canaan with the power that freed them from Egypt.

This was a critical comparison. Why? The same grace that redeemed them from bondage led them home.

This also reflects our own spiritual lives.

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Why We Should Default to Grace Rather than to Criticism

I heard them board the airplane before I saw them. A mother was pushing one toddler in front of her and dragging another behind. The only available seats were the three right in front of me.

Why We Should Default to Grace Rather than to Criticism

(Picture: Meet Theo.)

I had never considered childproof locks on airline seatbelts. Now, I’m certain there’s a market for them. I would have bought one.

For more than two straight hours I watched the younger son—who reminded me of Bugs Bunny’s Tasmanian devil—jump, flail, thrash, flap, flop, hop, laugh—but mostly, scream. I don’t remember the name of the older son.

But I’ll never forget the Tasmanian devil’s name: “Theo.” I know because I heard it 863 times.

Absolutely undaunted, the mother used her large voice without embarrassment to correct Theo. She also informed the rest of us what was about to happen.

Once after Theo took his crayon and marked on the wall of the airplane (see the mark on the wall at left?), she jerked him from the window seat and announced to the rest of us, “Sorry about the screaming for the next 10 minutes, folks!” She was right. Little Theo let us have it.

My First, Second, and Third Reactions

  1. My first reaction was to wonder why the mother hadn’t brought along a gallon of Tylenol PM. (If not for Theo, then for the rest of us.)
  2. My second reaction to this irritation was—I confess—frustration and resentment. After all, I paid just as much for my loud seat as the lucky people in the quiet part of the plane.
  3. But my third reaction took my attitude in a completely different direction.

God boarded the plane at that moment and somehow found room in my narrow heart.

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Bethel Reveals What You Need to Know to Connect with God

There has always been only one way.

There has always been only one way to God—even in the Old Testament. But how? That way is by grace through faith in the object of God’s choosing. Bethel gives us a peek at that way.

Modern Beitin, ancient Bethel

(Photo: Modern Beitin, ancient Bethel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In his flight from his murderous brother Esau, Jacob spent the night at Bethel, where years earlier his grandfather Abraham had heard God promise that he would receive all the land as far as he could see. There, Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven, and the Lord repeated to him the promises Abraham received.

Shaken, Jacob awoke and said:

How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. —Gen. 28:17

Jacob named the site Bethel—“house of God.” The dream gave more than a vision of God’s house.

It offered a foreshadowing of how to get there.

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Living Life in the Balance with God

The Promised Land was a good land for a reason.

To hear Moses describe the Promised Land, it sounded as if it offered vast natural resources—a land where food was plentiful and lacked for nothing (Deut. 8:9). Well, true and not true.

Living Life in the Balance with God

(Photo: Grapes left on vine after harvest in Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The land had streams, pools, springs, wheat, barley, grapevines, figs, pomegranates, olives, and honey. Sounds pretty nice. Sign me up.

But this good land existed in a delicate balance of nature—and God tipped the scales. The Hebrews would learn that God alone made the good land “good” in direct proportion to the gratitude, praise, and obedience of His people.

The same is true of our lives.

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I’m excited to teach a new course on “Blogging for Ministry” this winter at Dallas Theological Seminary.

This course will introduce the nuts and bolts of blogging as an effective ministry tool. The students will learn to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog, choose a niche audience, maintain a blogging schedule, apply creativity to repurposing content, write for search engine optimization (SEO), set up and grow an email list, learn tips and tools to maximize productivity, utilize Google Analytics, and implement an effective social media strategy. The course will also discuss the balance of promotion, monetization, and motives in the context of a blogging ministry.

Date: January 8, 2018—January 12, 2018
Time: 08:00 a.m.-05:00 p.m.
Event: Blogging for Ministry Course
Venue: Dallas Theological Seminary
800-387-9673
Location: 3909 Swiss Ave.
Dallas, TX 75204
Public: Private
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

You will need to be a student at Dallas Theological Seminary to register for this class.

Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre Shows Our Need for a Savior

How the site demonstrates the need for the place it hallows.

One of the biggest surprises to Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem occurs when they step inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection falls short of the expectations of many Christians accustomed to Western worship.

Gold drips from icons. Chanting fills the spaces. Incense rises between cold stone walls. Six sects of Christendom betray jealous rivalries over the goings-on within. Territorial fistfights even occur on occasion.

The Holy Sepulchre's dome covers Christ's tomb

(Photo: The Holy Sepulchre’s dome covers Christ’s tomb. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Without proper mental preparation, a Christian pilgrim may see only the distracting depravity of religion that has affixed itself to this site like barnacles on sunken treasure.

But if we look past today’s traditionalism to history’s tradition, we find an unbroken connection to the central event of all time—the redemption of the universe.

For in this place, Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose again.

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You Have a Spiritual Freedom You May Not Realize

Juneteenth offers an essential reminder to our spiritual lives

Freedom from anything begins by knowing you are free. Juneteenth is short for June 19th—a state holiday in Texas. It commemorates the day in 1865 that good news arrived.

You Have a Spiritual Freedom You May Not Realize

(Photo by Photodune)

Juneteenth teaches us something important about freedom: it’s useless unless you know it’s true and you live like it.

As a Christian, you have a spiritual freedom you may not even realize.

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I’m excited to teach at Christ Lutheran Church in Whitefish, Montana on the topic: “Lasting Lessons from the Land of the Bible.” I will center my teaching around key sites in the Holy Land; the amazing events that occurred at each site, and application for life today.

Date: September 23, 2017
Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Event: Lasting Lessons from the Land of the Bible
Topic: "Lasting Lessons from the Land of the Bible"
Sponsor: Christ Lutheran Church
406-862-2615
Venue: Christ Lutheran Church Whitefish
406-862-2615
Location: 5150 River Lakes Parkway
Whitefish, MT 59937
United States
Public: Public
More Info: Click here for more information.