Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 50, Luke 3, Job 16-17, and 1 Corinthians 4

Luke 3By Amy Kannel

I don’t normally think of John the Baptist as a “good news” kind of guy. To be honest, I might use the words “abrasive weirdo.” This, after all, is the guy who wandered the desert wearing camel’s hair and eating grasshoppers. In Luke 3, he begins with the winsome, sensitive strategy of calling his audience a “brood of vipers,” then threatens them with fiery judgment. Twice. His last line in this passage is a dire threat: “the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (v. 17)—and then Luke sums up John’s ministry with this unexpected description: “So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people” (v. 18). Wait a minute. Did I miss something?

If I had to distill John the Baptist’s ministry into a word or two, I’d go with “repent,” not “good news.” But Luke cuts sharply through the false dichotomy, reminding me that repentance is good news.

***

My older son, a kindergartner, had a snow day last Monday, and my mothering was especially awesome that day. Instead of enjoying some extra quiet time while my boys slept in, I lay in bed repeatedly hitting snooze and then messing around on my phone.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 44, Mark 14, Job 10, and Romans 14

romans 14By Erin Leigh

Today’s art is a response to Romans 14:

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding… Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. (Romans 14:19, 22b, ESV)

Today’s Question: Where in your life can you be pursuing peace and mutual edification today?

ErinB_200Erin Leigh is a child of God, a wife, a mommy of two small boys, a first grade teacher, and a mixed media collage artist. She pieces together paint, paper, and found objects to create inspirational and scripture art. Erin’s artistic journey didn’t begin until her early thirties, when she was pregnant with her first son. Through playing and experimenting with paint and paper, Erin is continually finding her artistic voice. She loves fresh coffee, afternoon naps, vintage tablecloths, Henri Nouwen, and chipped paint. ArtByErinLeigh.Blogspot.com.

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Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 37, Mark 7, Job 3, and Romans 7

job 3By Teri Vogeli, Guest Contributor

In the movie “The Kid” Bruce Willis plays a publicist. His job is to advise professional people on how not to look or act like idiots. In one scene, he sits with a female senator who is bewailing an incident in which the press has made her out to be a fool. As she sits in front of him, dabbing her eyes and blowing her nose, Willis looks completely unmoved. With a deadpan expression he interrupts her with, “Whaaaaaaaaaaa… somebody call the Whaaambulance.”

I’m sorry, but when I read today’s Scripture from Job 3, this is the scene than came to mind! Now I’m certainly not denying Job his grief! The first two chapters tell his baffling tale and with all that catastrophe, he certainly had every human reason for the outburst in chapter 3. But an odd thing is happening in American culture. The land of the free has turned into the land of addiction to comfort, and it has affected the Christian community as well. It has made us soft. It has made us whiney. It’s made us feel entitled to some holy protection.… 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 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 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: 2 Chronicles 32, Revelation 18, Zechariah 14, and John 17

12272013_AJBy Amanda Jenkins

Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world, so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they don’t belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. (John 17:13-17)

What a thing—to be prayed for by Jesus. Not only prayed for, but pored over in prayer. This whole chapter is almost too wonderful to comprehend, but there it is: Jesus, asking the Father to make us, his followers, more like him. And my favorite part? That we would know joy.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Chronicles 27-28, Revelation 14, Zechariah 10, and John 13

revelation 14By Christie Purifoy

The routine has stayed the same for years now. A question about homework. Some tucking in of blankets. A short prayer.

The prayer has stayed the same, too. I always pray God would open her ears to hear his voice.

She doesn’t ask her question every night, but she asks it often enough that I have it memorized. I could ask it for her.

“What does his voice sound like?”

My answer is always the same: “like the roar of many waters” (Rev 1:15).

***

In my heart, I am a poet. My skill with language is no match for that title, but I carry the word with me, regardless. It is the best way I know to describe my love for metaphor. Few things speak as clearly to me as poetic imagery and wordplay.

And yet, I think I understand the discomfort some have with metaphor.

I see it in my daughter’s face when I talk about a voice like water. She thinks metaphor is a failure of language. Though she can’t quite put her frustration into words, I am sure she sees her mother’s metaphors as a symptom of the limits of our understanding and the limits of our language.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Chronicles 18, Revelation 7, Zechariah 3, and John 6

john 6By Brenda Chance

Christmas Day had delayed too long for his five-year-old patience. Family members shuffled in so slowly that one thousand babies around the world were born before the old folks finally found their seats by the tree. You could see the anxious anticipation in his eyes—if his parents hadn’t been looming with corrective phrases locked and loaded, he would have pushed them all into their chairs and buckled them up for the ride he had waited twenty-five days to take them on. There were presents to be unwrapped and his fingers fidgeted to do their bidding.

All that waiting and he tore through those presents faster than a blink. He created a flurry of wrapping paper. What was inside each package mattered not, only that there was one more.

No one suspected what happened next, that is after the five year old realized he’d ripped through the last present. There were tears, large and forceful. They weighted down his entire body with despair, submerging him in a personal flood of Noachian proportions. All holiday sentiments of calm and bright ran and hid when his words rang out, “That’s all?… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Chronicles 14-15, Revelation 4, Haggai 2, and John 3

matthew 1By Megan Oldfield

He came from Sweden in 1911 to homestead on the Hi-Line, that semiarid stretch of open prairie just south of the Canadian border and east of the Rockies that the U.S. government and the Great Northern Railway promised was free and plentiful.

Sailing on a ship named Victoria through Liverpool, then Halifax, then down the St. Lawrence River to the port of Chicago, he worked on an uncle’s ranch in North Dakota for two years before arriving in northern Montana to file on his own 320.

A few years later, he met and married Olefina, who came from Norway via New York, and together they proved up, farming wheat and raising cattle and three children, until a cerebral hemorrhage took his life too soon in 1944.

“Times were tough,” my husband’s uncle recalls as we sit around the table after Thanksgiving, eating pumpkin pie and listening to him retell the story.

“A person got to know what he needed and what he thought he needed, that’s for sure.”

I watch him and my mother-in-law, his sister, puzzle together the pieces of their past. There are records and letters to look through, and pictures, so many pictures, with dates and names scribbled on the back, some in English, but most in Swedish or Norwegian.… Continue Reading