Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 18, Psalm 22, Ecclesiastes 1, and 1 Timothy 3

Psalm 22 artBy Brenda Chance

In my calmest yet most serious mommy voice I’d sufficiently warned them that if they asked me for one more thing I was going to lose my mind. It would unravel like a slinky on a step, twisting and tangling in on itself so as to never slinky straight again.

“Now take the string cheese you badgered out of me and for the love of unicorns and rainbows, sit down quietly and eat it…” A twenty-minute cheese standoff will have you talking like this. Without a single consideration of my mental state or the courtesy to wait for the end of my sentence, he made his vitriolic demand, “I don’t want string cheese; I want square orange cheese.” From the chessboard of my sanity this little three-year-old snatched up the queen.

I’m not exactly sure how I made it down the hall. Spinning and dizziness bumped me side to side down the walls, like a pinball launched into flight yet still trapped in its maze. Sinking into a puddle on the floor, with numb fingers I simultaneously locked the door and unhinged my anguished lament.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 13, Psalm 15-16, Proverbs 27, and 2 Thessalonians 1

Leviticus 13 imageBy Patty Kirk

Chapter 13 of Leviticus is hard to read, not only for its unsavory subject matter (skin disease) and entirely too repellent graphic details (e.g., close up examination of hairs growing in open sores) but for the end verdict it offers, pronounced by the Lord himself, upon the poor person unfortunate enough to suffer a skin disease that the priest deems “unclean”:

“Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13.45-46 NIV).

Pondering this chapter, I must first say I’m thankful that, of all the passages of Scripture I’ve been asked about by nonbelieving or struggling acquaintances, this has never been one of them.

What’s to be done, though, when Scripture offends—in this case, with a picture of our loving Creator so seemingly loveless as to punish a person for suffering an illness over which the person has no control?

What people typically do with me—yes, I’m the sort of struggling Bible reader who’d confront a more confident believer about this passage—is remind me of God’s sovereignty.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 6, Psalm 5-6, Proverbs 21, and Colossians 4

04032014_NBBy Nicole Bennett, guest contributor

Life in the trenches of motherhood is not for the faint of heart. The days are long and on some days the rewards are few.

I press onward though, knowing that the battle I’m fighting is for the very hearts I’m nurturing in my home. I fight by seeking out bits of beauty in the ordinary of life.

And of course the more I train those in my care, the more I realize that I myself am in training as well. As I push through the challenges, I’m refined, sharpened, honed— my own heart is shaped as I do the hard heart-shaping work of raising kids.

***

Psalm 5 is one of those passages that I can’t help but read to the tune of a familiar old song. One that takes me back to my college days (those days when I thought I was busy).

I can remember learning its easy melody in a living room Bible study, singing with the accompaniment of a worn guitar with decorative etchings, in a circle of worshiping friends.

The words of the song, are simply taken from the King James Version of one of today’s portions:

Give ear to my words, O Lord
Consider my meditation
Harken unto the voice of my cry
My king and my God
For unto Thee will I pray
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning

 

O Lord, in the morning
will I direct my prayer
Unto thee, and will look up.

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Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 5, Psalm 3-4, Proverbs 20, Colossians 3

Leviticus 5 imageBy Teri Vogeli

So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his error which he committed (although he himself had not known it) and he will be forgiven. It is a guilt offering; he was surely guilty before the Lord. (Leviticus 5:18-19)

Guilt. It’s why I’m not into Lent.

I grew up in churches that loved Lent. We sang goodbye to Alleluia the week before, as if there were nothing left to celebrate for the next month. We sang dirgey music about what poor, miserable sinners we were and about the agony Christ suffered at our cause. The pastor would read the Scriptures describing the torturous events of Jesus’ trial, while the congregation shouted in unison, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” like we really meant it. It was six weeks of guilt and depression.

Then, Easter. Alleluia is back in the song book. The end. On to the next holiday!

I understand not everyone feels this way about Lent. My husband thinks I’m nuts. He loves Lent. For him, it’s the story of Christ, who loves us so much that He took on hell itself and died, fighting for our freedom, kind of like watching Saving Private Ryan for a month.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 4, Psalm 1-2, Proverbs 19, and Colossians 2

Psalm 1 artBy Cindi Koceich

Today’s art is a response to Psalm 1:

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
or sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1 ESV)


Cindi’s thoughts on her art follow:

I believe this  Scripture holds the answer to living a life that is truly free in Christ – a life that is deeply nourished, bears much fruit, and is filled with light in a very dark world.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers…”

The word blessed in this passage literally translates, “Oh the happiness.” This world offers so many counterfeits to true happiness, selling us lies that power, wealth, comfort or status will fulfill us.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 32, John 11, Proverbs 8, and Ephesians 1

Proverbs 8 postBy Tricia Lott Williford

When my children were small, I began a list of sentences I never imagined I would hear myself say.
“Please don’t put cheese in your eyes.”
“Don’t lick trees or people. Hey! I said don’t lick people!”
“Honey, please get the banana out of the toilet.”
“Great job peeing on the Cheerios!”
Even just last week, I said to my first grader, “Buddy, this is the third time in a row that you’ve sniffed pepper and you can’t stop sneezing. Do I really need to tell you to stop this?”
Especially when they were smaller, I heard myself saying the same phrases, requests, and warnings over and over again, many times in one hour. To make sure I held their wandering attention, I held a hand on his shoulder or held his face in my palm, and I peppered our conversation with reminders.
“Look at Mommy.”
“Eyes on me, please.”
“Mommy is talking.”
“Do you hear me?”
“Are you listening to me?”
“Look at Mommy.”
“Look at Mommy.”
“Look at Mommy.”
Even still, I wondered if they heard me at all.
This morning I read Proverbs 8 in Eugene Peterson’s version, The Message.… 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 22, John 1, Job 40, and 2 Corinthians 10

John 1 by Erin LeighBy Erin Leigh

Today’s art is a response to John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

 

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

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Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 21, Luke 24, Job 39, and 2 Corinthians 9

exodus 21By Brenda Chance

Today’s reading from Exodus 21 is one of those passages that makes me want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head, and take a really long faith nap.

“When you buy a Hebrew slave…” What? “When a man sells his daughter as a slave…” Who is saying this? Surely, it must be Moses or Aaron. I’ll bet it’s Jethro.

With an anxious heart, I scan back over the text searching for a name, any name but there is only one I see. “The LORD said…” I emotionally duck and cover.

I believe the scriptures are God’s self-revelation. For this reason I get dizzy and wobble off balance when I read a text like this one. God’s revelation of himself to me personally has been marked by generous grace and freedom. The God I have come to know is abundantly good, loving, and compassionate; he is antithetical to everything I know about slavery.

Slavery is an ugly evil. How in any way could the heart of my Father make allowance for it in the covenant with his people? I hear the doubt and fear screaming, “Look away!Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 15, Luke 18, Job 33, and 2 Corinthians 3

2 Corinthians 3By Patty Kirk

Every year, at the end of a course called Advanced Grammar, I give my students an assignment I call a “grammar devotional”: analyze the grammar of a short Biblical passage to tap its spiritual teaching.

At first they’re leery, but it invariably ends up being their favorite assignment—mine too—because it legitimizes a rather arcane and pointless-seeming topic of study, one that’s hardly necessary to effective communication, by putting it to use in service of unarguably valuable tasks like reading the Bible and learning more about God. They’re proud of what they come up with, and, of all the essay piles on my desk, I read theirs with the greatest enthusiasm.

Another reason I like this assignment is that it addresses an important requirement I’m evaluated over at my Christian university: the integration of faith and learning. Students—and believers—being as diverse as they are, I’ve found it hard to get good ratings in this area because people are rarely in agreement about what such integration entails. I may have written numerous books on faith and bring up Biblical examples all the time and even pray in class on occasion, but all some students will remember at the end of the course is when I said something they thought inappropriate or required them to read a book that was, in their view, unChristian.… Continue Reading