Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 18, Matthew 17, Nehemiah 7, and Acts 17

acts 17By Amy Kannel

I love to devour a good novel, and I’m not picky—I enjoy classics and contemporary authors, historical fiction and young adult lit, fantasy and mystery. I also love to write—essays and letters, blog posts and poetry, even research papers. But I leave the writing of fiction to the experts, for good reason.

I still laugh when I think of my favorite college writing professor’s compassionate but blunt comments, scrawled at the bottom of the short story I turned in for her creative writing class (I’m that crazy pack rat who saves everything, so this is an exact quote): “Well…” she wrote. “Let me just say that I like your poetry better. But I can see that you tried.”

She called my characters “flat”; other adjectives included “tedious,” “obvious,” “corny.” (For the record, she was 100% right, and the grade can only be described as grace—when I reread the story ten years later, it was even worse than I remembered.) No matter how much I enjoy stories, I don’t seem to have quite the imagination to pull one out of my own head.

I first discovered the depths of my total inability to write fiction during my senior year of high school, in a creative writing workshop with my favorite teacher.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 17, Matthew 16, Nehemiah 6, and Acts 16

01152014_ELBy Erin Leigh

Um, how have I never noticed this before?
Peter. Stumbling, bumbling Peter says
You are the Son of the LIVING God.
He gets it. He gets that this God of ours
who became flesh so that we might catch a glimpse of his glory here on earth,
he gets that this Jesus is LIVING and active and transforming.
he gets that apart from Him, I can do nothing.
And before Jesus has been raised from the dead
He gets that Jesus has come so that he can breathe life into this body of flesh.
He didn’t come so that I would follow the rules better.
He didn’t come to make me feel bad that I can’t follow the rules.
He came for me, because I can’t follow the rules good enough.
He came that I would have LIFE,
and have it in ABUNDANCE.
He came so that when he asks me,
“I don’t really care what everyone else is saying about me,
Who do you say that I am {with your life}?”
I start by answering,
“Um, I’ll be better. I’ll be nicer and I’ll get another Compassion child.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 16, Matthew 15, Nehemiah 5, and Acts 15

genesis 16By Megan Oldfield

The voices chant early, before the fog lifts, before the grass dries, and I listen to their lies.

Nobody loves you. Nothing will ever change. None of this is worth it.

Their poison shoots straight for my spine, paralyzing me in the place where I’ve come to pray. From where I sit, spirit and body stuck, I see what I’d written on the easel out in the kitchen just yesterday morning, like a banner snapping over my head now, inviting the voices, the mockery:

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3).

Yeah, right, they scoff. Whatever.

Because in the last 24 hours, dinner burns, a husband distances, a daughter threatens to run away. A toddler screams, a friend ignores, another daughter bristles at every word.

This? This is a mess, not a success.

But after listening to more lies, I will myself to open the Book in my lap, to turn the pages despite my despair, and I end up with Hagar in the wilderness. Together we’re in a desolate place, feeling utterly alone and forsaken. Soon, I hear another Voice telling her to go back, to submit to her mistress.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 15, Matthew 14, Nehemiah 4, and Acts 14

spring rain 1By Kelli Campbell

Today’s photos are a response to all four passages from today’s Scripture readings.

From Acts 14:

When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (verses 21-22, emphasis added)

From Matthew 14:

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (verses 28-32, emphasis added)

spring rain 2

From Nehemiah 4:

So we built the wall.

Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 14, Matthew 13, Nehemiah 3, and Acts 13

acts 13By Jane Graham

I’ve never kept my love for Hallmark much of a secret. In truth, my visits there are a guilty pleasure of candle-induced spending amidst easy listening music and pretty paper products that I’m certain I’ll have good use for.

To ease my guilt, I’ve decided this innocent delight isn’t just about me. I’ve managed to convince myself that it’s practically a ministry, because, well, I send these cards to other people after all.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

I’m hooked on their snarky birthday cards and silly, been-there-done-that mommy cards. I buy up their weepy thinking-of-you cards and reach for more of their get-better-soon cards, just to have on hand — you know, in case of a card-worthy emergency.

But where Hallmark really works their magic is with encouragement cards. The ones that you send for no real “reason.” The ones that don’t get a stamp because of something “official” on your calendar, but rather, just because you care enough to tell someone, “You’re not alone today.”

Encouragement: what a lovely gift to give.

Today’s Scripture selection included Acts 13.  I love this chapter not only for Paul’s amazing gospel proclamation in Antioch but for how his monologue is framed.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Samuel 19, 2 Corinthians 7, Ezekiel 5, and Psalm 42-43

acts 10By Kelli Gotthardt

On a hot summer’s day in Phoenix, I hurried home from work. The steering wheel still emanated heat and sweat trickled down my back. I longed to be sitting in my air conditioned house with a cool glass of water. In the distance I noticed a spray of water and as I approached, I observed a group of tan young women in tiny swim suits parading around the sidewalk advertising their new business–a bikini car wash. My first thought was “someone needs to call the city council and get rid of this eyesore.” (The line of cars waiting to be, er…serviced indicated this might not be the view of all citizens.)

But more alarming than the various forms of undress, was my second thought– “I should get my car washed there.” Even as I heard myself think it, I chuckled audibly. It made no sense. But as I sped past the sunglassed men in the waiting cars, I found myself feeling compassion for these women, not disdain. That was new. And, it was my first indication that this message might be something more than a heat-induced delusional thought.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 9-10, Matthew 9, Ezra 9, and Acts 9

matthew 9

By Julie Chen

Today’s art is a response to Matthew 9:

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38, ESV)

Today’s Question: What harvest in the world can you be praying for today?

JulieC_200Julie Chen dreamed of being an artist and missionary since the age of six. Though she has not been around the world as a missionary (in the physical sense), her work has shown the gospel to others across the globe. She designs books for Tyndale House Publishers (including PYP founder Lisa Velthouse’s Craving Grace) and was also the designer of The Jesus Storybook Bible for Zonderkidz. Julie is also the owner and creative director of Life Verse Design, whose mission is to get the Word of God on people’s walls in creative and beautiful ways.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 8, Matthew 8, Ezra 8, and Acts 8

matthew 8By Brenda Chance

“You can’t push a string,” a favorite expression of my husband’s late boss, found its way out of my husband’s sales office and became a well-played line and prevailing philosophy in our home. It was our parental rallying cry against the psychological torment of two very strong-willed children.

I grew up in a different era of family life. My four sisters and I had standard-issue sass and sneak but when push came to shove the convicted resolve in our father’s eyes sobered us quickly to the path of least resistance. “Because I said so” were magic-filled words children dare not challenge.

If there is such a thing, my two boys entered the world without the authority-deferent gene. From the time they could talk, ‘no’ was attached to every phrase they said. It seemed they learned to walk only to run away from us. They were put to bed only to keep us awake. Like a surprised hiker meeting up with a bear I often postured myself to appear bigger than I am in order to hold my ground against the rebellion forces. Prior to children Dennis the Menace was a favorite classic of mine.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 7, Matthew 7, Ezra 7, and Acts 7

matthew 7By Lisa Velthouse

Writing class, senior year, undergrad. It was over ten years ago now, and still I remember Katie’s take on a particular assignment. Our professor had told us to write with honesty about ourselves. Something like that. I remember the gist of the assignment only because of how Katie fulfilled it. We went around the room, reading what we had put together, and it was all sentiment and cheap disclosure until we got to Katie, who said things like:

I’m so selfish that sometimes I wish I could take other people’s things, so I wouldn’t have to be jealous anymore.

I look in the mirror sometimes and tell myself I’m prettier than another woman is. It gives me smug satisfaction to think like that.

I often want to lie about myself to my roommates and friends, to make them think I’m better than I am.

I looked down at my own version of the honesty assignment and was suddenly ashamed to see things like I’d love to be published someday and I’m a farm girl at heart. Hardly gut-deep. Aligned next to Katie’s version of honesty, I found that my own lacked an important kind of bravery and candor.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 6, Ezra 6, Matthew 6, and Acts 6

matthew 6By Laurie Short

If I hummed a few bars of a song that swept the secular airways in the late 80’s, I bet you would still remember it. What you probably wouldn’t remember is any of the words. Except, of course, the four famous repeated ones.

Here’s a little song I wrote-
You might want to sing it note for note:
Don’t worry… Be happy
In every life we have some trouble-

When you worry you make it double.
Don’t worry… Be happy

Don’t tell me you’re not singing right now. I can hear you.

You’re making Bobby McFerrin very proud.

As I was drinking from the fire hydrant of today’s reading, (Genesis 6, Ezra 6, Matthew 6, and Acts 6), two thoughts occurred to me:

#1. I am glad there are four 6’s in my reading assignment and not three.

#2. I better pick one thought because there is way too much to take in. (But you should read it all because it’s really good.)

So after praying about which great thought to write about, I got to Matthew 6, and three words came leaping right off the page.… Continue Reading