Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 7, Psalm 7-8, Proverbs 22, and 1 Thessalonians 1

Leviticus 7 imageBy Laurie Short

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but not many people write devotionals on Leviticus.

You want to fail in a Bible reading plan? Leviticus is your book. You want to dissuade people from reading the Old Testament? I recommend Leviticus. But you want to inspire people? Leviticus is generally not the first place you turn.

Imagine my surprise when I was perusing today’s readings and Leviticus 7 nearly jumped out and bit me.

Positioned at the top of the chapter (in large topical font) are the words “Guilt Offering.” I don’t know about you, but the word “guilt” draws me in every time.

I am a guilt person. Let me be clear to say that I do not mean “guilty person.” Like many of you reading this, I know I am not guilty because of what I believe about Christ. But guilt has a tendency to draw me in and wreak havoc on my peaceful heart.

I feel guilt about a lot of things. Some of them are legitimate. Some are halfway legitimate. But some I have no real reason to feel guilt about.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 2-3, John 21, Proverbs 18, and Colossians 1

Colossians 1By Hannah Anderson

“His becoming what we are enables us to become what He is.” — Irenaeus

I didn’t grow up in a church tradition that placed much emphasis on the Easter season. While Jesus’ birth merited a full six weeks of anticipation and busyness (and an additional week to come down from our sugar-cookie induced highs), the time surrounding His death and resurrection were strangely quiet. Perhaps it was due to the fluctuation of the calendar and never being quite sure when Easter would fall (was it early or late this year?); or perhaps it was because Jesus’ atonement for our sins was already an ever-present theme in our worship. But for whatever reason, Easter never seemed to require much more than a new dress and a basket of candy.

So I’ve been encouraged lately to see many of us embracing a more robust celebration of Easter as adults. Many of us are choosing to participate in Lent, dedicating that forty day period to prayer, repentance, and self-denial. Then during Holy Week, we celebrate Maundy Thursday and Good Friday with special services and the Stations of the Cross.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 39, John 18, Proverbs 15, and Philippians 2

philippians 2By Amanda Jenkins

My husband is a director, and is making a short film for our Good Friday service. Since the crucifixion of the Savior of the world is a challenging moment to believably recreate, Dallas hired seasoned actors from LA and flew them to Chicago where we currently live.

Chicago. As in, forty degrees below zero for much of the winter and snow on the ground in late March — that Chicago. Thankfully, we’ve had a few warmish days that did away with the six foot snow drifts, but the chill in the air remains and so do our winter coats. And all that to say, I’m not sure our LA actors even own winter coats, and if they did, they certainly couldn’t wear them while hanging on crosses in a rock quarry-turned-Golgotha.

I visited the set with my kids yesterday, who were too cold to stay outside so they huddled in tents with space heaters. But Jesus and the thieves were dressed in loin clothes, hoisted above the piles of dirt where the breeze moved unfettered. In between takes, they’d climb down ladders so the crew could wrap them in blankets.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 35, John 14, Proverbs 11, and Ephesians 4

03242014_CPBy Christie Purifoy

I grew up in the Bible-Belt South. I remember Scripture references painted on barn walls, pasted on billboards, printed on bumper stickers. I can still see the embroidered verses that hung, framed, on the walls of my grandmother’s house.

When I read the Bible, it is filtered through so many memories.

Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and I will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

Reading these words, I see an image from my first children’s illustrated Bible. I see Jesus, with outstretched hand, ascending into heaven on a cushion of pink-tinted clouds.

Picture and words are so intertwined in my mind that it took me much longer than it should have to recognize the fault line in my memory.

***

Jesus does not speak of preparing a place for us as he floats into the sky. He says these words just before his arrest.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 30, John 9, Proverbs 6, and Galatians 5

Exodus 30By Amy Kannel

For my birthday last year, my husband surprised me with ballroom dancing lessons. We knew from our time as show choir partners way back in high school that dancing together could be a lot of fun, and we had a blast reconnecting on the dance floor as an “old married couple.” Though lessons cost more than we wanted to continue paying, we found instructional DVDs and kept learning on our own.

So when his company Christmas party rolled around, and I began my annual search for something to wear, I was also thinking about the chance we’d have to put our dance lessons to use. I needed new shoes to match my dress, and I thought, “Why not kill two birds with one stone and just invest in some ballroom dance shoes?”

Upon visiting the local studio to ask for advice, I found out how much I didn’t know about dance shoes. The strappy heels I’d seen on display during our lessons weren’t merely “shoes that are good to dance in”—they were “shoes that are ONLY for dancing in.” Our instructor informed me that you never, ever wear your dance shoes outside.… 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 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 14, Luke 17, Job 32, and 2 Corinthians 2

By Lisa Velthouse

exodus 14One of the more illuminating moments in our marriage happened on the night when Nathan and I came to terms about The Leak. I don’t recall the particulars of our conversation anymore, but knowing me, I had likely cried and talked in circles for some time, trying to simultaneously figure out a point and make it. Knowing him, he had likely listened patiently and with a furrowed brow, putting forth a valiant mental effort to sift through what I was saying in order to hear what I actually meant.

We were talking about being busy and about the toll it was taking on things. That detail I do remember. Nathan had been working especially long hours: weekdays and -nights away from home on training exercises, weekends spent at his desk trying to keep up with everything that had piled on while he was away. Times like these are par for the course every so often with military life, but accepting that fact doesn’t necessarily make them easier. As is typical in our relationship, the feverish pace was leaving both of us beyond tired—but where his exhaustion was physical, mine was emotional.… 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