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 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 to Disarm Your Short Fuse of Impatience Right Now

Strength from God as you stand in life's long line of slow servers.

Do you have a long fuse or a short one when you get dawdling service at restaurants? For some reason, life hands us a long line of slow servers. At lunch not long ago my family got poor service from our waiter. Here’s what happened.

How to Disarm Your Short Fuse of Impatience

(Photo by Photodune)

I never let on to the waiter that I was miffed, yet inside my fuse was burning. Here’s why:

  • The table next to us ate and left before we did, though we arrived at the same time.
  • Our water glasses were often empty and the food order came out wrong.
  • The waiter fouled up the bill.
  • I was late getting back to work.

But then, just before we left, I felt like a complete idiot. The waiter made mention that it was his first day. You see, the problem wasn’t his incompetence.

It was my impatience.

Life hands us a line of slow servers. Does God offer some help?

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How to Turn Your Life Around 360 Degrees

A God of impossibilities shows His power in impossible situations.

Life often feels like a lot of effort with nothing gained. It reminds me of what Jason Kidd said after the Dallas Mavericks drafted him: “We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees!”

How to Turn Your Life Around 360 Degrees

(Photo by Photodune)

At times, the Bible seems like a history book in which God makes and fulfills promises to the ancients, but the words somehow lack immediacy to our struggling lives. And yet, it’s funny how the anxieties that overwhelm our lives seem identical to those that biblical people struggled against.

Even though Scripture provides assurance of God’s promises, assurance doesn’t negate the stressful circumstances that force us to trust God.

Truth doesn’t make the hard parts of life go away. We still have to trust God with that truth.

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The Blessing of God’s Secret, Wondrous Will in Your Life

If we knew what the Lord knows, we'd trust His timing.

If we knew what God knows, we would choose to wait for His timing rather than push Him to act now. God created us to live in dependence on the Creator. As such, we wait for His wondrous will and provision.

The Blessing of God's Secret, Wondrous Will in Your Life

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Insisting on instant gratification (even for good things) minimizes and overlooks the infinite worth of God’s sovereignty—a wisdom that sees beyond the next five minutes. Or the next five years.

Are you waiting for the Lord to do something in your life?

If you knew what God knows, here’s what you would do.

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2 Questions to Help You Live Intentionally for God

There's no need to keep going with the flow.

It’s always easier to react to life rather than to shape it. To go with the flow rather than to dig a new trench. Obviously, we want to respond well to what life throws at us. It’s assumed we should do that.

2 Questions to Help You Live Intentionally for God

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But I believe God gives us help to choose the direction of our lives. To live intentionally for Him. I don’t mean we choose what happens to us, but rather, that God has given us the freedom to make significant choices in spite of our circumstances.

Jesus’ example shows us what choices to make to live intentionally for God.

Two questions can help us do that.

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2 Essential Choices Help Destroy the Painful Void in Your Life

Everything else only deepens the chasm.

I love how some homeowners chose to deal with their drought-dried lawns. They paced their yards with green spray paint, and they had lawns to dye for. No more watering. No mowing. Just fake, green grass all summer.

2 Essential Choices Help Destroy the Painful Void in Your Life

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Actually, such innovation applies beyond the front yard straight into the human heart.

On the surface, most of us look vibrant, successful, content, and happy. And except for the occasional “scene”—when the truth bursts from behind our thin veneers—most of us manage to keep it together long enough to preserve the image.

In social circles where hurting is unacceptable (insert your church’s name here), we quickly learn how to paint on the smile and shake all the hands—while inside we feel as dead and needy as parched grass.

While we may have ideal hopes about tomorrow, and how in that ever-elusive “someday” things will get better, the truth is, life doesn’t fix itself.

Instead, God must fix life. Two essential choices can help.

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The Herodium—A Monument to God’s Sovereignty

How a hill devoted to a paranoid king offers comfort to our anxious lives.

Herod the Great is often remembered for the biblical account that never appears on Christmas cards. Hearing from the Magi that the “king of the Jews” was born, the paranoid Herod slew all boys under two years old in Bethlehem—a cryptic fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15.

The Herodium—A Monument to God’s Sovereignty

(Photo: The Herodium, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Of course, Jesus’ family got word of the impending threat and escaped by night to sojourn in Egypt until Herod’s death (Matthew 2:13-18).

When I visited the Herodium in March, I couldn’t help but remember the historical irony that Herod tried to kill Jesus—but failed. Instead, Herod himself died and was buried in the Herodium overlooking the very city where the true King of the Jews was born (Micah 5:2).

The Herodium offers a lesson of great encouragement in God’s sovereignty in our lives today.

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Why Your Dreams Come True is Actually a Temporary Fix

Life is still just life, no matter where you are.

Okay, so it finally happened. What you’ve waited on for years. Maybe you got the dream job. Better salary. More responsibility. Better fit. Flexible hours. Your dreams come true! But wait.

Why Your Dreams Come True is Actually a Temporary Fix

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Only after taking the job do you discover that more responsibility means you’re managing people, and people bring challenges. Flexible hours mean you never feel like you’re working enough. And along with that salary come more expenses.

Why is it when our dreams come true, it’s a lot like before?

There’s a good reason.

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3 Ways to Conquer Complaining and Keep Positive

How focusing on the other half of the truth can help.

Sometimes the new life God is leading you toward doesn’t seem as great as the one He has redeemed you from. When that happens, complaining often creeps in.

3 Ways to Conquer Complaining and Keep Positive

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Remember the complaining of those redeemed from slavery in Egypt?

We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic. —Numbers 11:5

We all struggle with complaining. But in those moments, we betray our selective memories.

There’s a better way.

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