Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 22, Psalm 28-29, Ecclesiastes 5, and 2 Timothy 1

Ecclesiastes 5 imageBy Jane Graham

Dusk settled onto the plains, casting a gauzy pink veil over the Badlands. With windows down and mountain goats littering the road, we pointed our van down a winding road promising to lead us back to camp. Summer gleamed at the height of splendor, and our Creator’s majesty was not lost on us—a family so tiny and small against a backdrop so grand.

The air soothed warm and sweet with the smell that comes from July and dirt and stubborn grass in the dessert. Staring out the window, Rich Mullins’ voice reached through the grave, grabbing my heart. And watching the beauty pass me by, rosy clouds slipping into the horizon, I had nothing to say.

Ecclesiastes 5

I’m amazed by how often my soul has been quieted by the breathtaking grandeur of nature. By towering trees near Mount Rainier. By Caribbean water so blue it made me weep. By the crackle of a fire in the Teton backcountry. By a Michigan evening at the lake.

That this earth is ours to enjoy and swallow up whole is amazing; it leaves me quiet.

So why is it that despite these significant moments of silence, I struggle to keep my tongue in check?… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 11, Luke 14, Job 29, and 1 Corinthians 15

By Hannah Anderson

Job 29 image“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: Genesis 46, Mark 16, Job 12, and Romans 16

job 12 - 1By Kelli Campbell

Today’s art is a response to Job 12:

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;

the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;

or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;

and the fish of the sea will declare to you.

Who among all these does not know

that the hand of the Lord has done this?

In his hand is the life of every living thing

and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:7-10, ESV)

job 12 - 2


Kelli’s thoughts on her art follow:

This passage speaks to me as a photographer—one more comfortable observing the natural world than struggling through a scholarly treatise on nature. Recently, I have been slowly chewing on The Gospel According to Job by Mike Mason, and in reference to these verses he states, “nature still stands as His first and sufficient revelation, His first Gospel” (p 143.) The Bible tells us in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” and again in Romans 1:20, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world.” Job got it.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 15, Matthew 14, Nehemiah 4, and Acts 14

spring rain 1By Kelli Campbell

Today’s photos are a response to all four passages from today’s Scripture readings.

From Acts 14:

When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (verses 21-22, emphasis added)

From Matthew 14:

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (verses 28-32, emphasis added)

spring rain 2

From Nehemiah 4:

So we built the wall.

Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 6, Ezra 6, Matthew 6, and Acts 6

matthew 6By Laurie Short

If I hummed a few bars of a song that swept the secular airways in the late 80’s, I bet you would still remember it. What you probably wouldn’t remember is any of the words. Except, of course, the four famous repeated ones.

Here’s a little song I wrote-
You might want to sing it note for note:
Don’t worry… Be happy
In every life we have some trouble-

When you worry you make it double.
Don’t worry… Be happy

Don’t tell me you’re not singing right now. I can hear you.

You’re making Bobby McFerrin very proud.

As I was drinking from the fire hydrant of today’s reading, (Genesis 6, Ezra 6, Matthew 6, and Acts 6), two thoughts occurred to me:

#1. I am glad there are four 6’s in my reading assignment and not three.

#2. I better pick one thought because there is way too much to take in. (But you should read it all because it’s really good.)

So after praying about which great thought to write about, I got to Matthew 6, and three words came leaping right off the page.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 1, Matthew 1, Ezra 1, and Acts 1

Genesis 1By Patty Kirk

Whenever I teach poetry, I tell about reading the Bible in German for the first time. A friend had given me Martin Luther’s 1534 translation in a practical paperback edition from a German publisher known for their reference works in yellow, unadorned covers. The text itself was equally unadorned, for a Bible: no verse numbers, cross-references, or explanations in the margins. This was the Bible as a work of literature.

I began, as always, at the beginning and soon encountered a short passage in italics, which I assumed meant the words were somehow in question. The modern English translation of Scripture I usually read often indicates in some equally noncommittal way—a little squiggle before the text, a note in tiny letters in an obscure corner of the page—that a passage isn’t as reliable as the rest of the text. The story of the adulterous woman about to be stoned in John’s gospel, for example—which isn’t in the oldest source texts and is thus of questionable authority—is in italics beginning with John 7:53, “Then they all went home,” and ending where Jesus tells the woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (8:11 NIV).… 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 19-20, Revelation 8, Zechariah 4, and John 7

By Erin Leigh

Zechariah 4

Today’s post is a response to Zechariah 4:
And the angel who talked with me came again and woke me, like a man who is awakened out of his sleep. And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’” (Zechariah 4:1-7, ESV)
Following are Erin Leigh’s thoughts on the passage:

This verse always speaks to my flesh.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Chronicles 1, 1 John 1, Micah 7, and Luke 16

John 1By Patty Kirk

It’s officially Advent, literally “the Coming”: the Church’s traditional preview of God’s coming to our world that culminates in Christmas. During Advent, mainline churches celebrate with special liturgies, candles, and Advent calendars. Meanwhile, the rest of the world—believers and nonbelievers alike—are celebrating too. Stores fill with Christmas trappings. Radio stations play Christmas music in earnest. Children write Christmas lists. All around us people are making ready. They—and we ourselves—shop and hum and deck every hall in sight, not to mention front doors, eaves and porches, fireplace mantels, and, most especially, that fragrant tree we dragged in from outdoors—or perhaps bought an artificial version of—to prop up in our living rooms. Advent, for most, is Christmas in advance of Christmas, even for believers.

It wasn’t always such a jolly time in the church calendar. Time was, people fasted during Advent. The ancient hymns of Advent were in minor keys and had gloomy lyrics.

“Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel,” the most enduring of them begs, mourning “lonely exile” and “sad divisions” and “gloomy clouds of night.”

Why so gloomy at Christmastime? I wondered as a child, not understanding that Advent and Christmas were not the same, that what was celebrated at Advent—if the word celebrate can even be used—was not so much “the Coming” as the millennia of waiting that preceded it.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Chronicles 17, James 4, Jonah 1, and Luke 6

Jonah 1By Christie Purifoy

We know the lesson of Jonah and the whale inside and out, don’t we? If we didn’t learn it from our Sunday school teachers or our illustrated children’s Bibles, we surely learned it later.

The lesson is there, so ripe for the plucking, how could we miss it? Of course I assumed the first chapter of the book of Jonah could reveal nothing I didn’t already know.

But this is a wild book, this Bible. It is solid like a rock, but there is a Spirit that blows across its pages. I swear, sometimes, I open it up and feel a wind. I wonder that the pages lie so still.

***

Today, old, old words come roaring back to life. A voice like rushing water speaks straight to my heart. It says:

“What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god!” (Jonah 1:6)

And I suddenly see it.

How I have been Jonah. How my children are little Jonahs. That we live in a world of Jonahs.

This is a world of sleepers.

We rise from our beds. We eat our food.… Continue Reading