Mahanaim Teaches Us What to Do with Our Fears

God’s presence is with us long before our spiritual struggle arrives.

We are afraid sometimes, because we think we know what will happen. But the real source of our real fears isn’t in what we see—but in what we don’t see. 

Mahanaim and fords of Jabbok

(Photo: Mahanaim and fords of Jabbok. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Our spiritual lives hold the solution to our fears. That’s what happened with Jacob.

Returning to the land of Canaan forced Jacob to face a problem he had run from 20 years earlier—his deception of his brother Esau. As he approached the border of Canaan, angels of God came to meet him.

The presence of the angels gives us a critical reminder during our times of fear.

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How God Broadens Your Limited Perspective

Bridging the gap between the God we want and the God who is.

Have you noticed how often we tend to interpret our faith as we want it to be, rather than as God reveals it to be? I think of it this way. We have adopted the lifestyle of a tourist who only wants to see the highlights of the city.

How God Broadens Your Limited Perspective

(Photo: courtesy of Oomph)

Forget all the back alleys of New York. Show me Times Square. Let’s just jump to the Empire State Building. We focus on how the Christian life “ought” to be. (As if the tough parts are electives.)

A broad chasm stretches between the God we want and the God who is. Between the life we want and the life God wants for us.

As tough as it sounds, the only way to bridge this gap is the cross.

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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

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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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Surrendering Your Will to God in Difficult Times

How this decision is the only path to peace.

I have discovered that the most difficult battles in life simply mirror Jesus’ struggle in Gethsemane. His words to the Father remain the most challenging words we could utter:

Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. —Luke 22:42

Surrendering Your Will to God in Difficult Times

(Photo: Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus surrendered His will. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Surrendering your will to God in difficult times is often harder than the trial itself.

I have found that my greatest challenges come not from those circumstances that press in upon me, but from the internal struggle to surrender my will to God. I enter Gethsemane daily and have to drag my will to the Father in prayer.

So do you.

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Caution: We Worship What We Think We Need

Are people taking the place of God in your life?

When you hear the word “idol,” what comes to mind (other than the TV talent show)? We might think of money, materialism, or even the golden calf. But rarely do we think of people.

We Worship What We Think We Need

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We worship what we think we need—whether it’s God, money, or even people. People make us feel good. Like a sunflower in a sunny field, we face the source that keeps us satisfied and meets our needs. But whom we worship, we will also obey.

That’s why worshipping people—or using them to get what we think we need—leaves us enslaved to them.

Years ago Cathy and I were given a gift certificate to the Dallas Hard Rock Café, which used to be, ironically, a place of worship—the McKinney Avenue Church. Inside the café I saw a 50-ft high stained glass rendering of Elvis, seated on a throne. It reminds me of what British pop singer Robbie Williams said to the BBC Radio:

I’ve got the tattoo on my arm: ‘Elvis grant me serenity.’ Before the gig we all get in a huddle and pray to Elvis to look after us while we’re onstage.

Really? Wow.

God offers a better alternative.

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Ein Harod —How to Move from Fear to Faith

Sometimes what we see seems more compelling than what God says.

Too often, fear keeps us from enjoying what God has promised. We want so badly to have faith in what the Lord says. But fear of what we see seems more compelling than mere words. Gideon knew that.

Ein Harod —How to Move from Fear to Faith

(Photo: Ein Harod (Gideon’s Spring). Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Gideon longed to believe God. But the enemy army before him was enormous. What he saw seemed far more compelling than what God had promised him.

We face the same odds today. And the solution is the same.

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How to Face the Future without Fear

God gives only one way to make it happen.

My favorite New Years Eve happened before the infamous Y2K. I pulled a practical joke that made the people in my grandmother’s house believe their fears about the future were true.

How to Face the Future without Fear

(Picture: By Flickr user: 29cm CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

My relatives had gathered to watch the televised countdown at New York City’s Times Square. Midnight hit America first on the east coast, so all eyes waited to see what would happen at midnight.

  • Would all power go dark in America?
  • Would computers suddenly stop working?
  • Should we stockpile more food?

While no one was looking, I snuck outside and found the breaker box to my grandmother’s house.

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God May Want to Give You More than Relief

4 Blessings from God that may surprise you.

Sometimes it seems no one understands what we’re going through. When people fail us, or forget us, or even betray us, we’re left alone in the ashes of a reality we never expected or wanted.

God May Want to Give You More than Relief

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In those intense moments of loneliness, confusion, and pain, we ask God for one thing more than anything else. Relief from suffering.

But when relief is denied, we begin the difficult journey of resisting the notion that God is a cruel sovereign who toys with our lives. After all, He could stop it all in moment. After everything else but God gets stripped away from our lives, we begin realize that the Lord may want to give us something more—and much greater—than relief.

In those moments, God becomes more real to us than we ever would have known any other way.

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How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard

Sometimes it seems the Lord leads us into a life that can’t possibly be His will. What started with such promise has become such a challenge. It’s tough to know what to do next.

How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard

(Photo by Photodune)

What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life God has given you?

God had promised a son to Sarai and her husband, Abram. And yet at the same time, God prevented conception. This is the will of God? Go figure.

What God said is a lesson we need to hear.

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Why You Can’t Afford to Stay as You Are

A couple of months ago I noticed the “maintenance” light come on in my car. That meant the oil and filter needed changing. I thought, Yeah, I’ll do that soon. Right.

Why You Can’t Afford to Stay as You Are

(Photo by Photodune)

About a month went by and I thought: You know, I need to deal with that. I forgot again. It wasn’t until a couple weeks later I finally got it changed. I put it off because I’m a busy guy—and hey, oil and filters can always wait another day.

But then another warning light went off. This one was serious.

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