Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 32, Mark 3, Esther 8, and Mark 3

genesis 32By Lisa Velthouse

We have settled on a name for the wildly moving mass of unborn boy that is taking over my torso. It is still a few months ahead of our son’s arrival, and we’ve known his gender for only a handful of weeks—still, it feels like this process of deciding took forever.

Any name my husband liked, I couldn’t stand, and vice versa. (We knew it would be this way. The disagreements were foreshadowed early in our marriage, when Nathan told me he loved the Puritan practice of naming children after virtues: Patience, Chastity, etc. I twisted up my whole face at him in response.) This time around was the same as with the naming of our daughter: one of us would toss out an idea, and the other would immediately make a face or say, determinedly and disgustedly, NO.

But we hashed it out, because names are important. This boy will wear his forever: infancy, childhood, awkward teenage years, early adulthood, old age—as long as he is privileged to live. The sounds made by his name will reverberate on people’s ears when he first introduces himself.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 31, Mark 2, Esther 7, and Romans 2

romans 2By Samira Gast

Today’s art is a response to Romans 2:

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (verses 1-5, ESV)

Today’s Question: Have you been letting yourself get away with judging someone else? How can God’s kindness change your heart today?

SamiraG_200Samira Gast is a bargain hunter, lip gloss lover and coffee enthusiast. Since she was a little girl, coloring was one of her favorite activities. Now as an adult, she still gets to play with colors as an artist.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 30, Mark 1, Esther 6, and Romans 1

romans 1By Hannah Anderson

If you were to meet me, you wouldn’t have a hard time figuring out my ethnicity. My fair skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair immediately reveal strong western European roots. Truth be told, I’m a bit of a mutt—a healthy mix of French, Scotch-Irish, Welsh, and Swiss-German ancestors.

Along with these telltale genes, my parents also passed on a strong Christian heritage. Both my mother and father were believers as were their parents before them. In fact, on my father’s side, our Christian heritage stretches all the way back to the early Swiss Anabaptists who were persecuted for their faith, had their property confiscated, and eventually fled to the New World in search of religious freedom. With a heritage like this, it’s easy to forget my true roots.

It’s easy to forget that I’m the progeny of pagans.

Even though Christianity plays a significant role in my family heritage, it didn’t always. Flashback a 1500 years and those Swiss-German ancestors weren’t worshiping Jesus; they were worshiping Woden. My Scotch-Irish forbearers?  Celts who deified the natural world and were led by druids.

In fact, dial back far enough and you wouldn’t find any of my family worshiping Jesus or even Jehovah.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 29, Matthew 28, Esther 5, and Acts 28

matthew 28
By Kendra Roberts

Today’s art is a response to Matthew 28:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20, ESV)


Kendra’s thoughts on her art follow here:

Water, fire…blood — all aspects that might be brought to mind by “baptism.” Mathew 28 begins with the two Mary’s heading to the tomb, the proclamation of resurrection by an angel and ultimately a face-to-face encounter with the risen Jesus. The chief priests want to pay the soldiers off to hide the mysterious events at the tomb:
“Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’” (verse 13)
Though, they might not have even bothered a cover-up considering some of Jesus’ own disciples doubted his appearance to them.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 28, Matthew 27, Esther 4, and Acts 27

esther 4By Amanda Jenkins

What a bizarre and horrifying problem the Jews had: by royal decree, they were going to be annihilated, by whichever of their neighbors would choose to become mercenaries. And all because Mordecai had refused to bow to Haman, the king’s right-hand-man with an unquenchable lust for power. Not unlike the King.

And there was Esther, a young queen, whose relationship with Xerxes was hardly a relationship. She hadn’t even seen him in thirty days, and only ever saw him when summoned — which was likely not for her wise counsel or witty banter.

So like I said, it was a terrifying moment in the Jews’ history when Mordecai said this:

If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)

In some ways, the book of Esther is more about Mordecai than Esther. For sure, her story is important — she did a brave thing from a considerably low position at a pivotal and crucial time, and her actions saved the Jewish people and removed an evil man from power.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 25, Matthew 24, Esther 1, and Acts 24

01242014_SRBy Stephanie Rische

Time magazine recently ran a cover story with the evocative title “Why Mom Liked You Best.” In it Jeffrey Kluger makes the claim that all parents—even those who vehemently deny it—have a favorite child. Since Kulger’s Time article came out, scientists, psychologists, and parents have engaged in heated discussion about whether this is indeed the case for all parents. It may be difficult to prove his theory scientifically, but there is no denying that parental favoritism has been around since nearly the dawn of time.

In ancient Greece and Rome, parents who knew they couldn’t care for all their children would commit infanticide, killing their newborn daughters in favor of their sons.

Princess Amelia, the youngest of George III and Queen Charlotte’s fifteen children, was widely known to be her father’s favorite, and she was treated as such from her birth.

Author Charles Dickens felt the effects of not being the favored child. His family didn’t have enough money to send both him and his older sister to school, so they sent his sister to school while he slaved away in boot-blacking factory.

But perhaps one of the most well-known cases of parental favoritism dates back to the book of Genesis.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 24, Matthew 23, Nehemiah 13, and Acts 23

Matthew 23By Mary Freeman

Today’s art is a response to Matthew 23:

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others… (Matthew 23:1-5, ESV)


Mary’s thoughts on her art are below:

I think if one believes she has to live by a list of rules and do’s and don’ts to be loved and accepted she quite likely will impose those very same rules and do’s and don’ts on others.

However, if one lives believing she is loved and accepted by God and she knows she is under grace…that she has done nothing to earn that love and acceptance, that it’s been given… she is more likely to extend that grace to others. Yes, there are times when we all lapse, but if living in grace is a way of life, grace is what is lived out.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 23, Matthew 22, Nehemiah 12, and Acts 22

acts 22By Christie Purifoy

1.

Here is the painful truth about following a Bible-reading schedule: you cannot hide from the verses you do not like. Follow the schedule faithfully enough, and you will confront something that confuses you, or makes you uncomfortable. You will, immediately or eventually, read something that triggers doubt.

I do not mean doubts about God, necessarily. His existence, let’s say. Or his character. I have been blessed to walk through that kind of doubt. God proved himself True, God proved himself Love, and I am forever grateful.

But there is also self-doubt. This is the doubt I now face with more regularity.

I wonder, Am I doing this following-Jesus thing right? Was that really God’s voice? Did I actually see God in that place?

Or was it all a trick of the light?

2.

The twenty-second chapter of the book of Matthew is like a briar patch. Here I am and here is Jesus, and between us? A tangle of thorny questions.

Questions about heaven and hell, marriage and the resurrection. Questions about money and political allegiance, and questions about the interpretation of old Scriptures.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 22, Matthew 21, Nehemiah 11, and Acts 21

01142014_AWBy Amylee Weeks

Today’s art is a response to Matthew 21:

In the morning, as [Jesus] was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (verses 18-22, ESV)

Today’s Question: What mountain do you need God to move for you? What is keeping you from believing that he can?

AmyleeW_200Amylee’s life verse is, “by the grace of God, I am what I am.”  She believes whole-heartedly in God’s leading and his words speaking directly to her as she walks this life. … Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 21, Matthew 20, Nehemiah 10, and Acts 20

matthew 20By Tricia Lott Williford

I was a waitress all throughout college, waiting tables at Friendly’s (a quick shout-out to the Fribble!), Cracker Barrel (hooray for biscuits with your meal), and TGI Fridays (back when each of us wore a ridiculous hat and 15+ pieces of flair).

We had a good camaraderie among the waitstaff, and I loved my jobs serving ice cream, sandwiches, pancakes, and the occasional Oreo Madness. But we were also keenly aware of the system of justice and fairness in the food transportation industry.

There was a rotating system, a moving ramekin on the hostess’s seating chart, to make sure each server had equal turns with new guests in the restaurant. Some of it was luck of the draw: if it was your turn when two old ladies came in for an afternoon tea, then you missed out on the next guests: a party of ten – five young couples, all probably double-incomes-no-kids, fully expecting to eat much and tip generously.

There were no promises of a good night, and I confess that there were many nights when I envied the servers who had more tables, bigger parties, or just a prettier smile than I had that night, and they were leaving with way more cash.… Continue Reading