Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 11, Luke 14, Job 29, and 1 Corinthians 15
By Hannah Anderson
“Why do bad things happen to good people?” If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, let me assure you that you are not the first. Human beings have been wrestling with the question of suffering and personal choice since the Fall, and most of the time, coming up miserably short.
For example, in the face of Job’s suffering, his three friends assumed, like many today, that it was the result of personal sin. When Job tries to assure them that he has no known sin in his life, Bildad responds in typical fashion, “Yes, but who can really be righteous?” (chapter 25) In today’s language, “Okay, but we’re all sinners and so anything bad that happens to us is deserved anyway.” The bottom line? Your suffering is always your fault. And by extension, when other people suffer, in some way, it is their own fault too.
I think a lot of us see the weakness in this answer. We’re experienced enough to know that life is complicated, that some of us are born with certain privileges, that not all suffering is the result of bad choices.… Continue Reading
Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 9, Luke 12, Job 27, and 1 Corinthians 13
By Amanda Jenkins
We have dear missionary friends who would visit our adopted son, Max, when he was still in the orphanage in Thailand. They brought him books, candy, and pictures of our family, told him about Jesus, and assured him that his new mommy and daddy would come to get him soon. Dallas and I were grateful that Max was being loved on — we saw it as God’s provision and protection for our son while we couldn’t be with him. I’m forever indebted, not only because they cared for Max, but also for their help while we were in Bangkok. They showed us around, armed us with maps and sky-train passes when they couldn’t be our personal tour guides, translated for us, and were a source of support during a difficult, emotional time.
But by day five, four-and-a-half-year-old Max still preferred them and Dallas over me, and I was sad. From moment one, the entire experience was nothing I expected. Nothing felt natural or instinctive. Max wasn’t connecting to me — the woman he’d seen in pictures for the past year. And what was worse, I didn’t feel a connection to him.… Continue Reading
Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 7, Luke 10, Job 24, and 1 Corinthians 11
By Stephanie Rische
Take a moment to picture this scenario: you’ve had a long day, juggling work responsibilities, caring for your family, making dinner, and cleaning up the kitchen. After everyone is in bed, you finally sit down to drink a cup of tea and read a few pages of your book before going to bed so you can do it all again tomorrow.
Just as your eyes are getting heavy, you hear a knock at the door. Who could that be at this time of night? you wonder. When you open the door, you’re surprised to see a friend who’s on a road trip with twelve of his buddies. They were just passing through and figured they’d stop by.
“We haven’t had a real meal in days,” one of the friends says, eyeing your refrigerator longingly.
Your mind instantly goes into inventory mode, sizing up what’s in your pantry. Will you be able to scrounge something together for a dozen hungry men? It’s too late to order a pizza or get Chinese takeout, and you can hardly send your guests to the drive-through. And so, since you love your friend, you roll up your sleeves and get to work on dinner.… Continue Reading
Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 4, Luke 7, Job 21, and 1 Corinthians 8
By Christie Purifoy
“Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”
1 Corinthians 8: 1-3
I became a mother ten years ago. Since that day, I have been humbled in approximately ten million different ways. It happened most recently when I realized that my daughter’s least attractive personality trait is an exact copy of my own. Actually, it may not even be my least attractive quality, as there are likely far worse things in me that my daughter was fortunate not to inherit. However, like the proverbial speck and log, I had to see it in someone else before I became aware of it in myself.
Sorry, dear daughter. You are blessed with your father’s long eyelashes and his extroverted ease on a stage, but from your mother you received this: an unwavering, never-faltering need to be right.
I talk a good talk. Asking the right questions is so much more important than knowing the right answers!… Continue Reading
Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 47, Luke 1:1-38, Job 13, and 1 Corinthians 1
By Megan Oldfield
I’ve got nothing insightful to say about today’s passages.
That’s what I think as the hours dwindle before my deadline.
It’s Thursday, the day before this piece is due, and I’m under my blankets watching Downton Abbey with a box of Good & Plenty in one hand and Swedish Fish in the other wondering WWAVW? (What would Ann Voskamp write?)
It’s a picture of grace under pressure, really.
When I sat down to work on my post last weekend, I thought I had it under control. I intended to write my little heart out. But a massage scheduled for nine o’clock Saturday morning only afforded me enough time to read the four daily chapters.
That’s okay, I figured, I’ll meditate on some verses while my therapist’s working out the knots, and boy do I have me some knots. But then I fell asleep between the sheets of the warmed massage table and snored myself awake an hour and a half later. I blame Deuter and his dreamy new age music.
That afternoon, distracted by all the electronic devices dangling off my desk, I decided a quick trip to Lowe’s was in order.… Continue Reading
Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 45, Mark 15, Job 11, and Romans 15
By Jane Graham
Plastic beads at Mardi Gras.
With Lent less than a month away, the marketplace has started its engines and the slow rev toward this ancient tradition has officially begun. Grocery stores are stocking their shelves with Polish treats and throngs will begin their descent upon New Orleans in mere days for a weeks-long celebration.
At times, it seems the modern day observance of Lent is more anticipated for the sanctioned overindulgence beforehand than for the season itself.
But today I am reminded that Lent, among other things, is a season of hardship resulting in forgiveness. Luckily, the Bible has much to say about both of these things.
The story of Joseph emerges as one of the most powerful stories of forgiveness in all of Scripture. Having been left for dead in a pit, sold into slavery by his own brothers and then wrongly accused and imprisoned—if anyone had reason to hold a grudge, become embittered or seek revenge, Joseph had plenty to go on.
But when his brothers traveled to Egypt seeking help during a time of famine, the love he exhibited stood in stark contrast to the hatred spewed his way thirteen years earlier.… Continue Reading
Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 43, Mark 13, Job 9, and Romans 13
By Lisa Velthouse
Look at today, and you will see a woman getting ready. Clothes, hair, makeup, these shoes not those, snacks tossed into a purse for the kids, pile into the minivan, drive.
Look at today, and you will see that she and they are going to visit her husband, their daddy, at work.
Now, take a step outward and look again. Her dress is new and maybe a smidge more expensive than normal. She got up an hour early to ensure there’d be enough time for everyday mothering fiascoes and hair and makeup. The shoes are perfect. The snacks are favorites. The minivan has even been cleared out and vacuumed.
They are going to visit her husband, their daddy, at work. They drive through the security gate and make their way toward the parking lot.
One more step outward.
The dress is his favorite color. Her hair and makeup are styled just the way he likes it best. The shoes are a great match, sure, but (equally importantly) they’re great for running and for seeing above a crowd. Snacks will be essential—they’ll help burn time while fueling these unending excited jitters.… Continue Reading
Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 40, Mark 10, Job 6, and Romans 10
By Brenda Chance
If you met up with me in an airport, commanding your attention would be my luggage; it is large and in charge. I’m the little girl with the big bag.
Friends snicker. The family rolls their eyes. The rental car agent is indignant when I need a car with a more spacious trunk. I endure the ridicule of my bigger-than-me baggage because when others find they’ve left behind toothpaste, socks, or a matching purse, I will have them. In travel and in life, I like to be prepared for anything…and everything.
Or at least that’s my positive spin. Truthfully, I’m a control freak.
Like most control freaks, I have fancy ways of dressing up my controlling ways: I’m efficient. I’m conscientious. I’m a pursuer of excellence.
However, like the quickly fleeting green flash at sunset, I sometimes glimpse a truer picture of who I am: I am a self-proclaimed ruler doing everything I can to keep my little kingdom going. Having everything in its place, lacking nothing, and leaving no space for surprises are the intangibles of my rule. Never panic. Never beg. Keep calm and carry on.… Continue Reading
Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 38, Mark 8, Job 4, and Romans 8
By Laurie Short
I have a confession to make. I took one look at the Old Testament passage assigned to me today, and made a bee-line to the New Testament. But somehow, that Still Small Voice pulled me back.
Genesis 38 is one of those chapters nestled in the Old Testament that makes you wonder what in the world God had in mind having it there. (I wish it were the only one). Right in the middle of the story of Joseph, we find a little sidebar. The story of Judah and, um, his daughter-in-law.
It’s one of those blips in the Bible that makes you scratch your head and secretly hope your non-believing friends never see it.
The funny thing is, when I tried to escape it and find refuge in the New Testament passage, I landed in Romans 8, which is home to a famous verse we’ve all memorized and loved.
“In all things God works for the good for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose.” (v.28)
“There is plenty to focus on right here in this verse,” I said to myself.… Continue Reading
Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 23, Matthew 22, Nehemiah 12, and Acts 22
By Christie Purifoy
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?
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