Who You Should Compare Yourself To

A lesson at Tabgha frees you to follow Jesus as yourself.

Someone else’s stuff always seems better. Even their struggles seem better. Have you noticed? The temptation to compare yourself with somebody is hard to sidestep in the Christian life.

Who You Should Compare Yourself To

(Photo: Tabgha statue of Jesus and Peter. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

When Peter first met Jesus, the fisherman followed the Master out of a motive for glory and a prime seat in the kingdom of God. Peter wanted to be the “greatest” in comparison to others.

But after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, a single conversation along the shores of the Sea of Galilee at Tabgha changed Peter’s whole frame of reference.

That conversation can also help you not compare yourself with the lives of others.

It can free you to follow Jesus as an individual.

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The Dead Sea —One Day It Will Live Again

The evaporating sea offers a picture of God’s power to bring life from death.

Piles of driftwood, bleached white, surround the shoreline like bones from a life lived long-ago. It’s the lowest place on earth, the hottest spot in Israel, and nothing visible can live in its waters. The Dead Sea.

Sunrise over Dead Sea

(Photo: Sunrise over Dead Sea. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

With a name like the Dead Sea, this unusual site might lead you to expect a disappointing visit.

Rest assured—anyone who experiences the it never forgets its wonder.

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Your Rededication to God Can Begin Right Now

Get back to where you once belonged.

If you have visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, you’ve likely seen the etching engraved on the top of the steps. It marks where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” Standing in the shadow of Lincoln gave greater force to Dr. King’s words that day. The site intensified the message.

Rededication

(Photo: warrengoldswain, via Vivozoom)

I’m convinced that’s why Joshua regathered the young Hebrew nation to Shechem. The geographical context of his words played a significant role. They spoke as loudly as Joshua did that day.

And they speak to us.

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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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Tel Dan Stele—Providential Ironies in Favor of King David

How a stone inscription offers encouragement to your spiritual life.

Sometimes archaeology offers marvelous vindications to biblical history. The ancient site of Tel Dan has a large, rock wall—a city gate from the time of Solomon’s temple.

Tel Dan Iron Age gate near where the stele was discovered

(Photo: Tel Dan Iron Age gate near where the stele was discovered. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Likely built by King Ahab in the 9th century BC, this Iron Age entrance helped to fortify the city of Dan. And for good reason. The ninth and early-eighth centuries BC saw many battles between the northern kingdom of Israel and the expanding kingdom of Aram.

In the courtyard of Tel Dan’s gate complex, archaeologists unearthed sections of a large engraved stone—an ancient basalt stele. Its discovery gave hard evidence that King David was no Robin Hood legend of Hebrew history.

It also offers encouragement to your spiritual life. Here’s how.

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Chorazin—Sitting in the Seat but Missing the Message

Jesus explains why leadership remains a privilege, not a prerogative.

From a distance, Chorazin seems like it’s hiding. I don’t blame it for trying. After all, it remains one of the three cities in Galilee that Jesus rebuked for failing to respond to His message.

Chorazin—Sitting in the Seat but Missing the Message

(Photo: Chorazin’s ruins hide at center left. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The basalt ruins of Chorazin appear little more than a pile of rocks among so many thousands of others. Clumps of grass and volcanic rock offer a variegated green and gray to the hillside above the Sea of Galilee.

Unless you look carefully, you may not even see the city.

But Jesus saw it. So should we.

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Nebi Samwil—A Site with Wisdom Ignored

Solomon's defining moment can also become ours.

Most travelers to Jerusalem never think to come to Nebi Samwil. The minaret towering above the hill looks like a misplaced lighthouse searching for the sea. On a clear day, a visitor can spy the Mediterranean to the west.

Nebi Samwil

(Photo: Nebi Samwil. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Although few come here today, there were few more important places in David’s and Solomon’s time—if any. In fact, it signified Solomon’s most defining moment.

What’s more, it represents the potential for ours as well.

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The Via Dolorosa—and the True Way of Suffering

Looking Beyond Tradition to the Historical Path Jesus Walked

Jerusalem’s modern Via Dolorosa, the “Way of Suffering,” remembers the route Jesus walked with His cross from Pilate’s Praetorium to Calvary.

The Via Dolorosa—and the True Way of Suffering Jesus Walked

(Photo: The Ecce Homo arch spans the Via Dolorosa. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Via Dolorosa of today marks an exercise in faith more than fact, and its stops or “stations” reflect Catholic tradition more than history. Popularized by Sandi Patti’s hit song in 1991, the Via Dolorosa also attracts the veneration of Protestant pilgrims who journey to Jerusalem.

There’s just one problem. The true path to the cross was in a completely different place.

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Is It Safe to Travel to Israel?

6 Reasons you can go to the Holy Land with confidence.

It seems most every week the news spotlights some political tension in the Middle East. Headlines do their best to dial in on any unrest they can find, making us wonder if it is safe to travel to Israel.

Is It Safe to Travel to Israel? YES.

(Photo: Friends of ours overlooking Joppa)

But think about what the news reports here in the States. Only bad news makes the news. And yet, we know for a fact the news reports only on a slice of reality.

I had a friend from China who came to America to study at seminary. He told me his wife was afraid to move to America because she thought their children would be shot at public school. Think about it. If all we knew of America came from what we learned on the news, we would have a very distorted perspective.

When forming an opinion on whether or not it is safe to travel to Israel, we tend to make that choice based on feelings—not facts. Let’s look at the facts, shall we?

Here are 6 reasons why you can go to the Holy Land with confidence.

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How God Uses Geography to Shape Your Life

He takes us places to gain what we could get nowhere else.

Think of the places most significant to you. That’s right, the places.  What makes them so special? Most likely, it’s not the places themselves but the events that took place there.

How God Uses Geography to Shape Our Lives

(Photo: Sunset over the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In our lives, events make places significant because of memories. But in biblical times, it was often just the opposite. The place itself often played a major role in causing a significant event.

The lands of the Bible offer more than a mere backdrop for the stories of the Bible. These places played an integral role in shaping the lives of those who lived there. God designed it so. And for us, understanding how the land shaped its people gives us tremendous insight into understanding Scripture.

Even more, it gives us a glimpse as to how God uses even geography in our lives today.

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