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 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 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 29, John 8, Proverbs 5, and Galatians 4

By Amylee Weeks

Galatians 4

Today’s art is a response to Galatians 4:

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:1-7 ESV)

Today’s Question: How is a heart different, when the Spirit of the Son is alive in it?

AmyleeW_200Amylee’s life verse is, “by the grace of God, I am what I am.” She believes whole-heartedly in God’s leading and his words speaking directly to her as she walks this life.… 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 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