Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 10, Psalm 11-12, Proverbs 25, and 1 Thessalonians 4

1 Thessalonians 4 imageBy Lisa Velthouse

1 Thessalonians 4 is part of a letter from Paul to the Christian church in Thessalonica. The chapter begins with the kinds of subjects that make people feel condemnation hot around their necks: sexual immorality, lust, and passion right out of the gate. These are the impurities (verse 7) Paul pits against a clear expectation of holiness, honor, and sanctification.

If the early church was anything like our churches today, they would’ve met these verses ripe with potential for missing the point.

Then as now, readers of 1 Thessalonians 4 would run the risk of splitting into two camps: those who assumed they fell on the favorable side of its prescription—holy, honorable, sanctified (verses 3-4)—and those who felt they failed it: (verses 3 and 5) immoral, wrongly passionate, ruled by lust. There would be judgment and self-righteousness on one side, defensiveness and guilt on the other. Accusations would probably be hurled.

Then as now, the point both sides would be missing would be the one that appears both before and after all the sex talk. It’s a principle that goes far beyond sex and bodies, and we see it in a little phrase that’s on repeat: more and more.Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 2-3, John 21, Proverbs 18, and Colossians 1

Colossians 1By Hannah Anderson

“His becoming what we are enables us to become what He is.” — Irenaeus

I didn’t grow up in a church tradition that placed much emphasis on the Easter season. While Jesus’ birth merited a full six weeks of anticipation and busyness (and an additional week to come down from our sugar-cookie induced highs), the time surrounding His death and resurrection were strangely quiet. Perhaps it was due to the fluctuation of the calendar and never being quite sure when Easter would fall (was it early or late this year?); or perhaps it was because Jesus’ atonement for our sins was already an ever-present theme in our worship. But for whatever reason, Easter never seemed to require much more than a new dress and a basket of candy.

So I’ve been encouraged lately to see many of us embracing a more robust celebration of Easter as adults. Many of us are choosing to participate in Lent, dedicating that forty day period to prayer, repentance, and self-denial. Then during Holy Week, we celebrate Maundy Thursday and Good Friday with special services and the Stations of the Cross.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 39, John 18, Proverbs 15, and Philippians 2

philippians 2By Amanda Jenkins

My husband is a director, and is making a short film for our Good Friday service. Since the crucifixion of the Savior of the world is a challenging moment to believably recreate, Dallas hired seasoned actors from LA and flew them to Chicago where we currently live.

Chicago. As in, forty degrees below zero for much of the winter and snow on the ground in late March — that Chicago. Thankfully, we’ve had a few warmish days that did away with the six foot snow drifts, but the chill in the air remains and so do our winter coats. And all that to say, I’m not sure our LA actors even own winter coats, and if they did, they certainly couldn’t wear them while hanging on crosses in a rock quarry-turned-Golgotha.

I visited the set with my kids yesterday, who were too cold to stay outside so they huddled in tents with space heaters. But Jesus and the thieves were dressed in loin clothes, hoisted above the piles of dirt where the breeze moved unfettered. In between takes, they’d climb down ladders so the crew could wrap them in blankets.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 37, John 16, Proverbs 13, and Ephesians 6

Exodus 37By Stephanie Rische

A friend of mine has a gift for seeing beauty and then capturing it with the lens of her camera. She can catch a particular scene, in a certain light, with just the right color pattern, and she somehow manages to tell a whole story through the images. She can capture the joy of a couple on their wedding day, the pink-toed wonder of a newborn baby, the golden glow of a field of daffodils.

When she and I chatted the other day, she was reflecting on her career choice. “I feel passionate about what I do,” she said. “But sometimes I wonder if it really makes a difference. I mean, some people help the underprivileged or teach God’s Word or serve on the mission field. And here I’m just making things pretty.”

But as I read today’s passage from Exodus 37, I’m struck by God’s affirmation of beauty—and those who create it. Just a few chapters earlier, we read the description of the craftsman who was commissioned to create the items for the Tabernacle:

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” (Exodus 31:1-5)

After the Lord gave his commandments to Moses and the people and sealed his covenant relationship with them, he knew they would need a place to worship, a place to remember their vows to him.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 35, John 14, Proverbs 11, and Ephesians 4

03242014_CPBy Christie Purifoy

I grew up in the Bible-Belt South. I remember Scripture references painted on barn walls, pasted on billboards, printed on bumper stickers. I can still see the embroidered verses that hung, framed, on the walls of my grandmother’s house.

When I read the Bible, it is filtered through so many memories.

Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and I will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

Reading these words, I see an image from my first children’s illustrated Bible. I see Jesus, with outstretched hand, ascending into heaven on a cushion of pink-tinted clouds.

Picture and words are so intertwined in my mind that it took me much longer than it should have to recognize the fault line in my memory.

***

Jesus does not speak of preparing a place for us as he floats into the sky. He says these words just before his arrest.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 31, John 10, Proverbs 7, and Galatians 6

By Mary Freeman

Exodus 31
Today’s art is a response to Exodus 31:

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furnishings of the tent, the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin and its stand, and the finely worked garments, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the Holy Place.

Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 30, John 9, Proverbs 6, and Galatians 5

Exodus 30By Amy Kannel

For my birthday last year, my husband surprised me with ballroom dancing lessons. We knew from our time as show choir partners way back in high school that dancing together could be a lot of fun, and we had a blast reconnecting on the dance floor as an “old married couple.” Though lessons cost more than we wanted to continue paying, we found instructional DVDs and kept learning on our own.

So when his company Christmas party rolled around, and I began my annual search for something to wear, I was also thinking about the chance we’d have to put our dance lessons to use. I needed new shoes to match my dress, and I thought, “Why not kill two birds with one stone and just invest in some ballroom dance shoes?”

Upon visiting the local studio to ask for advice, I found out how much I didn’t know about dance shoes. The strappy heels I’d seen on display during our lessons weren’t merely “shoes that are good to dance in”—they were “shoes that are ONLY for dancing in.” Our instructor informed me that you never, ever wear your dance shoes outside.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 29, John 8, Proverbs 5, and Galatians 4

By Amylee Weeks

Galatians 4

Today’s art is a response to Galatians 4:

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:1-7 ESV)

Today’s Question: How is a heart different, when the Spirit of the Son is alive in it?

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: Exodus 28, John 7, Proverbs 4, and Galatians 3

Exodus 28By Megan Oldfield

I’m squirming on the velvet-padded kneeler, sweating from the wool stockings my private school makes us wear. I make the sign of the cross, whisper, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned,” and venture a guess on how long it’s been since my last confession. Then slowly I start naming my offenses.

“I lied to my mom twice. I stole a piece of candy from my brother. I-I-I…”

I’m stammering, searching my conscience for anything else I need to confess. And I’m tempted to make something up, but I’d just have to confess that, too, so I stop. But I know there’s more I’d like to say.

The priest has his back to me. And it adds to my discomfort. I’m accustomed to the confessional where he is in one compartment, and I’m in the other, and there’s a nice solid barrier between us. But today our fourth-grade class lined up on this side of the sanctuary, the side where a small room serves as the place to do penance, and I can’t escape.

“Is that all?” the priest asks me quietly.

“I think so,” I reply.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 25, John 4, Proverbs 1, and 2 Corinthians 13

2 corinthians 13By Jane Graham

Darkness pressed in and the weight of tortured prayers hung low above my body, prone and still. I rolled over, burying my face in the pillow so salty tears would dissolve into cotton instead of streaking my skin.

The clock in our bathroom ticked like an ice pick on frozen water, sending echoes into the inky night. My eyes peeled open in vain, wishing for handwriting on the wall and solutions to the heartbreak of this world.

  • I resolved to fast.
  • To limit food choices on non-fasting days.
  • To read Scripture with fervor.
  • To wake up early for prayer.
  • To give up sleep in the morning, bartering comfort for answers.

 

Instead, I am left with quiet. I am left making promises. I am left testing myself.

Today’s Scripture selections included 2 Corinthians 13, the final chapter in Paul’s impassioned plea to the Christians in Corinth. He tells them, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail to meet the test!”

Each Lent I purpose to test myself by saturating the weeks leading to Calvary in the Biblical text.… Continue Reading