Today’s Bible passages are: Numbers 12-13, Psalm 49, Isaiah 2, and Hebrews 10

Jeremiah 10 imageBy Amanda Jenkins

Reading through Jeremiah 10, I’m once again in awe of the Israelites stupidity and sin in idol worship. Why would anyone craft an image out of gold or silver, and then worship it? Hard to imagine.

Then again, there’s me and my favorite movie, Bridget Jones’s Diary. The plotline centers on the drama in Bridget’s life that becomes the content of her diary. She begins each day’s entry by listing her stats—pounds gained or lost, cigarettes smoked, men interested, books read, party invites received. She is, to put it mildly, a work in progress—someone who can’t get life quite right, no matter how hard she tries. And every success and failure is documented in her diary.

Aside from her British accent and chain smoking, I’m a lot like Bridget Jones. I begin each day with a list—keep the house picked up, limit myself to one Diet Coke, spend special time with each of my kids, work out, pray, avoid sugar, read a chapter in a book about something important, and so on and so forth. And then I determine each day’s worth by how many of those things I actually did.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Numbers 8, Psalm 44, Song of Songs 6, and Hebrews 6

Hebrews 6 imageBy Emily Cummins

I heard a statement when I was 16-years-old that I haven’t been able to forget. I vividly remember sitting in a hotel ballroom in Orlando where I was attending a student leadership conference, when the keynote speaker said these bold, challenging words: “It’s time for the little girl to sit down and the woman to stand up.” Nearly seven years later, those words are still ringing in my ears.

The little girl in me wants life to be pretty simple…like picking what restaurant I want to go to for dinner. But life doesn’t always have concrete answers. I’m discovering there are many shades of grey. For me, tipping into adulthood felt strange at first—playing dress-up in your mom’s clothes only to find out that they actually fit you. It was this sensation of stumbling around in the dark, tripping over furniture I didn’t know was there, all the while searching for the light. Many days I feel like I’m standing at the crossroads of that little girl I once was and the woman I know I am called to be. And it’s in this crossroads that I know I must make a choice to either remain the same or embrace the freefall.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Samuel 19, 2 Corinthians 7, Ezekiel 5, and Psalm 42-43

Titus 3 image 1By Kelli Campbell

Today’s art pieces are a response to Titus 3:

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (verses 3-7)

Kelli says, “I really love this chapter. It was the words regeneration and renewal that sent me outside looking for spring.”

Titus 3 image 2

 

Today’s Question: What does God’s mercy—”the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” look like in your life?

KelliC_200Since marrying her Marine thirteen years ago, Kelli Campbell has lived in eight homes. She has planted zinnias at every one. Kelli is a photographer and a homeschooling mother of four.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 25, Psalm 32, Ecclesiastes 8, and 2 Timothy 4

Psalm 32 imageBy Megan Oldfield

Because a sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.*

I have what some might call a lead foot. In other words, I like to drive fast. Really fast. Cruising around town in a minivan with three kids buckled up in the backseat has curbed my insatiable appetite for speed quite a bit. But more often than I care to admit, that speedometer needle pushes waaay past the legal limit.

Obviously this means I’ve been pulled over a few times in my life. I drive illegally not invincibly. And though I’m not proud of it, I’ve sometimes lied to try to get out of a ticket.

I didn’t know the speed limit in this neighborhood.

My cruise control must be broken.

Wait, what? I thought Montana didn’t have a speed limit.

I think I’m in labor.

None of these excuses has ever worked, especially the last one since I wasn’t even pregnant at the time.

Most recently, though, I took a slightly different approach.

“Do you know how fast you were going back there, ma’am?” the officer asked after pulling me over.… Continue Reading

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: Leviticus 21, Psalm 26-27, Ecclesiastes 4, and 1 Timothy 6

Ecclesiastes 4 imageBy Stacy Sharpe, guest contributor

It’s lonely at the top … just ask Charles Foster Kane.

Perched atop his 49,000 acre estate known as “Xanadu,” Charles Foster Kane embodied the man who had everything money could buy. As a multi-millionaire newspaper magnate, Mr. Kane assumed power and accumulated wealth with an insatiable vengeance. Yet in his quest to “have it all,” love alluded him … and poor Charlie died alone, ensconced in what ultimately appeared more like a mausoleum than a mansion.

OK, so I confess I’m a film junkie … and I have to agree with the American Film Institute that Citizen Kane (loosely based on the life of William Randolph Hearst?) arguably remains the best American movie ever made.

I further propose that Charles Foster Kane would have been well served by the book of Ecclesiastes.

After all, the epically affluent King Solomon was also familiar with the potential futility of our human strivings. With his vast wealth and powerful position, Solomon was probably the envy of everyone in Israel … though contentment notably eluded him. In his penetrating search for purpose and meaning, Solomon wisely concludes that we spend most of our lives “chasing after the wind,” while true fulfillment is found in God alone.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Leviticus 20, Psalm 25, Ecclesiastes 3, and 1 Timothy 5

Psalm 25 imageBy Kelli Gotthardt

Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow. Psalm 25:4 (NLT)

How often I’ve asked God to show me the path I should go. Particularly when making a big decision like a job change, a move or other life transition.

If I’m honest, when I’m asking for this kind of clarity there’s an underlying expectation that if I walk in it, I will find it fairly smooth. Yes, there will be the necessary character building struggles, but overall, I’m hoping for a relatively comfortable path.

Then I meet people like Rose Mapendo. Rose is a Congolese refugee who has survived the execution of her husband and sixteen months in a death camp with her ten children. This was not a path she would have chosen and she admits that for a time she refused to speak with God. She was angry with him for the path that had been marked out for her. But to talk with her today she freely acknowledges that God’s path had a purpose. She now speaks for those who have lost their voice and travels all over the world inspiring others with her message of hope and forgiveness.… Continue Reading

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 10, Psalm 11-12, Proverbs 25, and 1 Thessalonians 4

1 Thessalonians 4 imageBy Lisa Velthouse

1 Thessalonians 4 is part of a letter from Paul to the Christian church in Thessalonica. The chapter begins with the kinds of subjects that make people feel condemnation hot around their necks: sexual immorality, lust, and passion right out of the gate. These are the impurities (verse 7) Paul pits against a clear expectation of holiness, honor, and sanctification.

If the early church was anything like our churches today, they would’ve met these verses ripe with potential for missing the point.

Then as now, readers of 1 Thessalonians 4 would run the risk of splitting into two camps: those who assumed they fell on the favorable side of its prescription—holy, honorable, sanctified (verses 3-4)—and those who felt they failed it: (verses 3 and 5) immoral, wrongly passionate, ruled by lust. There would be judgment and self-righteousness on one side, defensiveness and guilt on the other. Accusations would probably be hurled.

Then as now, the point both sides would be missing would be the one that appears both before and after all the sex talk. It’s a principle that goes far beyond sex and bodies, and we see it in a little phrase that’s on repeat: more and more.Continue Reading