Tag Archives: Alice in Wonderland

Climbing Out Of Your Hole

If you’ve spent much time in rural areas, you know that farms are notorious for the presence of abandoned wells. If they haven’t been sealed, they pose a serious risk to adults and especially children. Unfortunately many wells remain hidden behind overgrown bushes and hedges.

If an adult or child falls into the abandoned well—and hopefully it’s dry at the bottom—serious problems result. The only way out of the hole is to rely on someone else to rescue you.

Like the man in the video above, all of us have fallen into a hole. Without the help of someone beside ourselves, we’re helplessly lost.

After watching the video, please join me in learning more about the person who rescues us.


Deuteronomy 9:1-10:22
Luke 8:4-21
Psalm 69:19-36
Proverbs 12:2-3


Deuteronomy 10. After recounting Israel’s sin in chapter 9, Moses reminds Israel that God responded by giving them another set of the 10 Commandments on tablets of stone. Then he instructed Moses to construct an ark that would contain the tablets and operate as God’s “throne away from home.” In other words, he gave them another chance.

How should they respond?

And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?  Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Luke 8:4-15. Reading through the parable of the sower and the seed—our third time thus far in the Gospels—I was struck by the identity of the seed. It’s the word of God. “The word of God is living and active” we read in Hebrews 4:12. In Isaiah 40:8, God declares that “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”

By joining in our Daily Bible Conversation, you’re planting powerful seeds into your life that will last forever. But seeds still need to be watered. While bursting with life, seeds can still lie dormant in the soil for years. Once life sprouts out of the seed, they must be nurtured and fed.

Jesus explains how the seed grows in verse 15: “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

A good and noble heart is the soil. We create conditions for the seed to grow by hearing the word, retaining it, and persevering. The Message offers an interesting paraphrase. The good-hearted people “seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.”

Here’s the Klassen paraphrase: The harvest comes to those who meditate on God’s word, and believe it throughout every season they encounter until the harvest comes.

You don’t need to be a hero to reap a harvest—you just need to believe God’s word and hang on.

Luke 8:16-21. Jesus’ words in verse 18 reinforces the point of our parable: “Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”

Then, to complete his thought on the sower and seed, Jesus explains, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

Psalm 69:19-36. I love the fact that in the midst of his pain, David still offers praise to God. “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving” (verse 30). He still find reasons to be grateful to God in suffering.

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Following the theme of yesterday’s conversation, God reiterates to Israel in Deuteronomy 9 that their righteousness isn’t the reason behind their blessing. God tells Israel in verse 9, “Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.” God gave the Promised Land to Israel because of his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and because of the wickedness of the people inhabiting it.

For the rest of the chapter, Moses then recounts Israel’s sin of worshiping the golden calf, a transgression as grave as the surrounding nations. They deserved to be destroyed as well, but God spared them. Then he reminds them of their rebellion and hard-heartedness in other places (see Numbers 11 and Exodus 16).

For millennia, philosophers have debated the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” But after reading Deuteronomy 9, I’d have to ask, “Why do good things happen to anyone?” With so much darkness in the world and my personal battles against self-absorption and rebellion among a host of other transgressions, it’s a wonder that God spares any of us from destruction.

Every breath, every sunset, every laugh, every moment of rest, every encounter with the divine is a gift from God.

Today is Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week, which begins with the high point of Jesus’ ministry. He enters Jerusalem to cheering crowds who shout praises to him and to God. Five days later they shouted “Crucify him!”

Any time we strain to pat ourselves on the back for something good we’ve said or done, we must remember that the vestiges of sin and darkness still remain. Akin to Israel in the wilderness, we all deserve destruction and judgment.

Like falling into a hole, all of us need someone to pull us out.

But praise be to God, he sent Jesus to save us—not because of our good deeds but because of his great love.

Building on yesterday’s conversation, I add to the caterpillar’s question “Who are you?”

By yourself, your actions merit destruction and hell. But that is no longer your identity. You are loved by God and forgiven of your darkness and sin, not because of your good deeds but because of God’s great love.

This week two thousand years ago, Jesus climbed into the hole and carried you out. The rest of our lives are simply one big THANK YOU for rescuing us.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What does the hole look like for you? What methods have you tried to climb out of your hole?
  3. How did Jesus rescue you from your hole?
  4. How does this fact influence the way you live?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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Who Are You?

“Who are you?” the caterpillar asked Alice in the Disney’s Alice in Wonderland movie.

It’s an insightful question which cannot be answered quickly or easily.

Who we are determines our values and how we see ourselves. And the person who determines who we are is extremely important. We can decide—or allow someone else to decide our identity for us.

Recently, my wife read me a quote from a book that more or less said, “One of the greatest dangers to the well-being of our nation is the self-esteem movement.”

The self-esteem movement damages our well-being? Sounds almost like an oxymoron.

Dr. Nathaniel Brandon’s self-esteem movement teaches that people must search deep within themselves in order to ascertain our value. Everybody is special and no one is different. Proponents advocate that by protecting people’s feelings from being hurt and making people feel good about themselves, we’ll all play nice.

Unfortunately, recent studies indicate that the hypothesis didn’t work out in real life. “The false belief in self-esteem as a force for social good can be not just potentially but actually harmful,” wrote Carnegie Mellon University psychology professor Robyn M. Dawes in a recent publication.

But if our value doesn’t come from within, where does it come from?

Please join me in today’s conversation.


Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20
Luke 7:36-8:3
Psalm 69:1-18
Proverbs 12:1


Deuteronomy 7. God commanded his people to have nothing to do with the men and women of the surrounding nations, even totally annihilating them in battle. These are hard words to stomach, especially in light of Jesus’ example to love everyone. While we can’t and shouldn’t live completely separate from people who share our faith (and certainly not kill non-believers), the words in this chapter remind us to be aware of the pervasiveness of this world’s values. As believers, we should have an uneasy friendship with our culture.

Deuteronomy 8. In verse 2, Moses explains the purpose of wilderness experiences: “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” Since we looked at this topic a few days ago, I won’t belabor it beyond this: the purpose of wilderness experiences is to build humility and determine what is in our hearts.

Next, Moses explains the tendency in all of us once we reach our Promised Land: “your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God” (verse 14). The New Bible Commentary wisely advises us that “great wealth can lead to the delusion of self-sufficiency.”

Luke 7:36. At a minimum, any woman with her hair exposed to public view would be considered promiscuous, but the woman in the story was probably a prostitute. So, the expensive bottle of perfume which she used to anoint Jesus’ feet was likely purchased with her “earnings.”

The irony of this passage is that the “sinner” was more aware of her sin than the righteous Pharisee.

Psalm 69:1-18. This is the most frequently quoted of the psalms in the New Testament:

  • Verse 4 (John 15:25)
  • Verse 9 (John 2:17; Rom. 15:3)
  • Verse 21 (John 19:28; cf. Mt. 27:34, 48)
  • Verse 22 (Romans 11:9ff.)
  • Verse 25 (Acts 1:20)

Proverbs 12:1. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge.” The word for “discipline” here means “correction. The most beneficial lessons often come at the price of pain.

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In Deuteronomy 7:6-8, God established the basis for Israel’s identity:

The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers.

Israel was God’s treasured possession–not because they did anything special, not because they were more emotionally healthy than the other nations, not even because they behaved better than the surrounding nations.

God chose Israel because he chose them. Granted, he agreed to follow through on his covenant commitment to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—but God chose Israel to be his chosen people out of all the nations of the earth…for nothing.

This is a good reminder for anyone who follows Jesus. We’re not better than anyone else. This underlies the importance of humility, a theme that’s interwoven throughout Scripture. But also, our value in God’s eyes doesn’t come from what we do but from simply being chosen by him.

When we fix our value on our ability to love and accept ourselves, we end up riding a roller coaster that follows our emotions and actions. But God doesn’t ride roller coasters. He remains faithful when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13). He cannot and will not be moved.

Who are you? A child of God, created in his image, chosen.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. With whom do you most identify in Luke 7:36-50—the Pharisee or the prostitute? Why?
  3. What do you tend to look to in determining your value? Why?
  4. If you really believed that your identity came from God, how would it change the way you think and act?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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