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 24, John 3, Job 42, and 2 Corinthians 12

By Kelli Campbell

john 3

Today’s art is a response to John 3:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21, ESV)

Today’s Question: What does it mean to you, that God is one who comes to save and not to condemn?

KelliC_200Since marrying her Marine thirteen years ago, Kelli Campbell has lived in eight homes.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 23, John 2, Job 41, and 2 Corinthians 11

John 2By Kelli Gotthardt

My wedding day was a bit disappointing. Not the getting married part. That was fantastic. But the celebration part fell short of my expectations. Nothing dramatic really. Just a series of little mishaps and miscommunications that led to a stressful day which ended too quickly and not soon enough at the same time. Most of it stemmed from the toxic combination of my poor planning skills and a frightfully low budget.

I do wish Jesus would have performed a miracle at my wedding. Wine would have been wonderful. Although, it would have gotten us kicked out of our reception facility on the church property.

And this brings us to Jesus and weddings and wine. This very first miracle of Jesus has plenty of theological significance and is pregnant with meaning. But this week I simply sat next to Jesus at the wedding and enjoyed him. In my imagination, that is.

Years ago I was leading a group of women I worked with in an exploration of Christian spirituality. We met weekly to read the Bible and talk about Jesus. Few identified themselves as Christians and those who did had limited knowledge of the Bible.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 9, Luke 12, Job 27, and 1 Corinthians 13

By Amanda Jenkins

1 corinthians 13We 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 4, Luke 7, Job 21, and 1 Corinthians 8

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 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 38, Mark 8, Job 4, and Romans 8

genesis 38By 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 32, Mark 3, Esther 8, and Mark 3

genesis 32By Lisa Velthouse

We have settled on a name for the wildly moving mass of unborn boy that is taking over my torso. It is still a few months ahead of our son’s arrival, and we’ve known his gender for only a handful of weeks—still, it feels like this process of deciding took forever.

Any name my husband liked, I couldn’t stand, and vice versa. (We knew it would be this way. The disagreements were foreshadowed early in our marriage, when Nathan told me he loved the Puritan practice of naming children after virtues: Patience, Chastity, etc. I twisted up my whole face at him in response.) This time around was the same as with the naming of our daughter: one of us would toss out an idea, and the other would immediately make a face or say, determinedly and disgustedly, NO.

But we hashed it out, because names are important. This boy will wear his forever: infancy, childhood, awkward teenage years, early adulthood, old age—as long as he is privileged to live. The sounds made by his name will reverberate on people’s ears when he first introduces himself.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 31, Mark 2, Esther 7, and Romans 2

romans 2By Samira Gast

Today’s art is a response to Romans 2:

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (verses 1-5, ESV)

Today’s Question: Have you been letting yourself get away with judging someone else? How can God’s kindness change your heart today?

SamiraG_200Samira Gast is a bargain hunter, lip gloss lover and coffee enthusiast. Since she was a little girl, coloring was one of her favorite activities. Now as an adult, she still gets to play with colors as an artist.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 30, Mark 1, Esther 6, and Romans 1

romans 1By Hannah Anderson

If you were to meet me, you wouldn’t have a hard time figuring out my ethnicity. My fair skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair immediately reveal strong western European roots. Truth be told, I’m a bit of a mutt—a healthy mix of French, Scotch-Irish, Welsh, and Swiss-German ancestors.

Along with these telltale genes, my parents also passed on a strong Christian heritage. Both my mother and father were believers as were their parents before them. In fact, on my father’s side, our Christian heritage stretches all the way back to the early Swiss Anabaptists who were persecuted for their faith, had their property confiscated, and eventually fled to the New World in search of religious freedom. With a heritage like this, it’s easy to forget my true roots.

It’s easy to forget that I’m the progeny of pagans.

Even though Christianity plays a significant role in my family heritage, it didn’t always. Flashback a 1500 years and those Swiss-German ancestors weren’t worshiping Jesus; they were worshiping Woden. My Scotch-Irish forbearers?  Celts who deified the natural world and were led by druids.

In fact, dial back far enough and you wouldn’t find any of my family worshiping Jesus or even Jehovah.… Continue Reading