Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 40, Mark 10, Job 6, and Romans 10

mark 10By Brenda Chance

If you met up with me in an airport, commanding your attention would be my luggage; it is large and in charge. I’m the little girl with the big bag.

Friends snicker. The family rolls their eyes. The rental car agent is indignant when I need a car with a more spacious trunk. I endure the ridicule of my bigger-than-me baggage because when others find they’ve left behind toothpaste, socks, or a matching purse, I will have them. In travel and in life, I like to be prepared for anything…and everything.

Or at least that’s my positive spin. Truthfully, I’m a control freak.

Like most control freaks, I have fancy ways of dressing up my controlling ways: I’m efficient. I’m conscientious. I’m a pursuer of excellence.

However, like the quickly fleeting green flash at sunset, I sometimes glimpse a truer picture of who I am: I am a self-proclaimed ruler doing everything I can to keep my little kingdom going. Having everything in its place, lacking nothing, and leaving no space for surprises are the intangibles of my rule. Never panic. Never beg. Keep calm and carry on.Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 24, Matthew 23, Nehemiah 13, and Acts 23

Matthew 23By Mary Freeman

Today’s art is a response to Matthew 23:

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others… (Matthew 23:1-5, ESV)


Mary’s thoughts on her art are below:

I think if one believes she has to live by a list of rules and do’s and don’ts to be loved and accepted she quite likely will impose those very same rules and do’s and don’ts on others.

However, if one lives believing she is loved and accepted by God and she knows she is under grace…that she has done nothing to earn that love and acceptance, that it’s been given… she is more likely to extend that grace to others. Yes, there are times when we all lapse, but if living in grace is a way of life, grace is what is lived out.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Chronicles 32, Revelation 18, Zechariah 14, and John 17

12272013_AJBy Amanda Jenkins

Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world, so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they don’t belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. (John 17:13-17)

What a thing—to be prayed for by Jesus. Not only prayed for, but pored over in prayer. This whole chapter is almost too wonderful to comprehend, but there it is: Jesus, asking the Father to make us, his followers, more like him. And my favorite part? That we would know joy.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Chronicles 26, Revelation 13, Zechariah 9, and John 12

2 chronicles 26By Teri Vogeli, Guest Contributor

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

And so begins Charles Dickens epic, A Tale of Two Cities.…or does it describe the Christmas season?

We’ve roller-coastered through most of December, and Christmas itself is only a few days away. How’s your stress level? There are way too many important things to do, places to go, people to see, goodies to eat, families to appease. I’m starting a campaign to move Christmas to January. Then we can at least spread out the fall holidays a little and I’d have time to diet in between them. I might even have time to breathe. On top of it all, I’ve served myself a side of guilt because I know the flurry is not the point. It’s the best of times, and the worst of times.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Chronicles 25, Revelation 12, Zechariah 8, and John 11

2 chronicles 25By Stacy Sharpe, Guest Contributor

There once was a king in a distant land

Who occasionally followed God’s commands.

Sometimes he heeded Godly advice,

But too often by his own flesh was enticed.

Though God was clearly on his side,

This king was brought down by false worship and pride.

(My Mother Goose rendition of 2 Chronicles 25)

It’s so easy to point a finger at King Amaziah. Just thinkin’ he shoulda learned a lesson from the lethal consequences of his dad’s spiritual compromises. Instead this ninth king of Judah did what so many of us are tempted to do: he offered God a limp handshake and a lukewarm cup o’ coffee.

Amaziah didn’t pose as an enemy of God…though as a believer, we might be tempted to call him a “poser.” As newly appointed king of Judah, one of the first things on his hit list included swift execution of his father’s assassins…but he obeyed God’s command to mercifully spare their children (Deut. 24:16). In his quest to conquer the Edomites, he rashly purchased extra troops from wayward, idolatrous Israel…but he listened to wise counsel about recruiting an ungodly army, and reluctantly returned the Israelite soldiers…even though it really stung to lose the four tons of silver he had paid to acquire them.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 15, Colossians 2, Ezekiel 45, and Psalm 99-101

Psalm 101By Christina Vinson, Guest Contributor

Home. It’s where we, as women, can let our hair down—literally and figuratively.

Honestly, home is where I have my hair up most of the time—as in, ponytailed. Home is the place I don my rattiest sweatpants, where I let my guard down and have strange and extremely uncoordinated dance parties with my husband. It’s one of my favorite places to be.

Home is also one of the places I sin the most.

You see, along with my uneven complexion and ugliest lounging clothes, my sinful heart is laid bare at home. It’s where I let my guard down physically and spiritually, and because of that, sin flares up. It’s in the way I snap at my husband and worry incessantly about the perfect paint color for our bedroom. It’s when I look at my closet full of clothes; unable to find anything to wear, unsatisfied with what I have.

My home is unfortunately a place where sin has a stomping ground.

In Psalm 101, King David talks about his home—which was actually a palace—and expresses a commitment to shaping it into a godly place.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 12, Philippians 3, Ezekiel 42, and Psalm 94

1 Kings 12By Patty Kirk

The other evening, while grading papers at a restaurant near my university, I got to talking to the young man who was serving me. Turns out he was studying at my university, and, as often happens when someone discovers that I teach writing, he launched into an account of his own trials as a student of writing. How he’d struggled to write in the various styles required in different courses. How maybe I could proofread a paper for one such course someday soon? (“Not happening,” I said). How, at his previous university, a speech professor had come down hard on him about his writing.

She was unbelievably strict, he said. When she couldn’t open a document because he’d used a free word processing program and hadn’t saved it the right way, she didn’t allow him to fix it but simply gave him an F. And even though she held his speeches up as models for other students, she never gave him anything higher than a C or D on his written assignments and scribbled all over them. (I adjusted my forearm across my students’ papers to hide my scribbles in the margins.)

“It was a speech class,” he raged.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 2, Galatians 6, Ezekiel 33, and Psalm 81-82

09302013By Emily Cummins, Guest Contributor

So, what are you doing after graduation? This question, often birthed out of innocent intentions, became one of my least favorite conversation starters a few months ago.

I was stepping into my last semester of college and feelings of anticipation were creeping in, primarily centered around one word: next.

It was a season of transition marked by job interviews, final exams, résumés, lots of coffee, goodbyes and hellos. And at times, it felt like a blessing and a curse.

The dreaded What are you doing after graduation? question left me with mixed emotions, making me feel as if I should have the next 10 years of my life mapped out, career moves in place, relationships in check. But then the weight of that reality would sink in: how was I supposed to plan the next decade of my life when I didn’t even have the day after graduation figured out?

Interviews lined up. I was applying for jobs I’d dreamed about, and then those opportunities were actually extended to me in a pretty package, but something wasn’t right.

I distinctly remember having a conversation with my Dad about one of my job opportunities and he looked me square in the eyes, asking one simple question: Have you talked to God about it?Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Samuel 14, 2 Corinthians 7, Ezekiel 21, and Psalm 68

confrontationBy Tricia Lott Williford

I’m not sure which one I prefer less: to confront or be confronted. To be the one holding the interrogation lamp, or to be the one in the hot seat. I’m a peacemaker by nature, and the whole thing makes me sweat a little bit, just thinking about it. I’ve been known to rationalize away my responsibility or pass the buck to someone else, so it has taken me a lot of years – and more to come, I’m sure – to lean in to conflict and find the truth in confrontation.

When I was growing up, we had a rule for note-writing in our home: “If your words are affirming, write them in a note. If your feedback is critical, don’t write it down. Either way, the person will read it over and over.”

This is an axiom I have tried to bring with me into adulthood. But what happens when you can’t weasel your way out of the conversation, and – worse yet – you have no route of communication except to write the words down, to be read over and over again?… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Samuel 8-9, 2 Corinthians 2, Ezekiel 16, and Psalm 58-59

09132013_350_400A Marriage and Mercy Story

By Megan Oldfield

Our old dog, Murphy, is dying. He hasn’t eaten in days, he can barely walk, and the vet confirms that his heart and kidneys are failing. He’s lived a long, full life, I tell my husband, and I urge him to put the last of our three dogs down. But my husband’s not ready.

“You can try giving him an antacid,” the vet suggests as a last resort. “It might increase his appetite.”

So he carries our dog to the car, brings him home, and hand-feeds him Pepcid wrapped in bologna to help settle his stomach, in hopes that he might start eating his dog food again.

I watch him do this for several days, and after seeing no improvement in our dog’s eating habits, I shake my head and question my husband’s sanity strategy.

Until one day Murphy’s bowl is empty.

***

I meet my husband at a Bible study on his 21st birthday, and to be honest, I think he’s a bit of a nerd. He wears glasses that day and he doesn’t say much and his socks are pulled up way too high.… Continue Reading