Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 44, Mark 14, Job 10, and Romans 14

romans 14By Erin Leigh

Today’s art is a response to Romans 14:

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding… Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. (Romans 14:19, 22b, ESV)

Today’s Question: Where in your life can you be pursuing peace and mutual edification today?

ErinB_200Erin Leigh is a child of God, a wife, a mommy of two small boys, a first grade teacher, and a mixed media collage artist. She pieces together paint, paper, and found objects to create inspirational and scripture art. Erin’s artistic journey didn’t begin until her early thirties, when she was pregnant with her first son. Through playing and experimenting with paint and paper, Erin is continually finding her artistic voice. She loves fresh coffee, afternoon naps, vintage tablecloths, Henri Nouwen, and chipped paint. ArtByErinLeigh.Blogspot.com.

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Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 37, Mark 7, Job 3, and Romans 7

job 3By Teri Vogeli, Guest Contributor

In the movie “The Kid” Bruce Willis plays a publicist. His job is to advise professional people on how not to look or act like idiots. In one scene, he sits with a female senator who is bewailing an incident in which the press has made her out to be a fool. As she sits in front of him, dabbing her eyes and blowing her nose, Willis looks completely unmoved. With a deadpan expression he interrupts her with, “Whaaaaaaaaaaa… somebody call the Whaaambulance.”

I’m sorry, but when I read today’s Scripture from Job 3, this is the scene than came to mind! Now I’m certainly not denying Job his grief! The first two chapters tell his baffling tale and with all that catastrophe, he certainly had every human reason for the outburst in chapter 3. But an odd thing is happening in American culture. The land of the free has turned into the land of addiction to comfort, and it has affected the Christian community as well. It has made us soft. It has made us whiney. It’s made us feel entitled to some holy protection.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 21, Matthew 20, Nehemiah 10, and Acts 20

matthew 20By Tricia Lott Williford

I was a waitress all throughout college, waiting tables at Friendly’s (a quick shout-out to the Fribble!), Cracker Barrel (hooray for biscuits with your meal), and TGI Fridays (back when each of us wore a ridiculous hat and 15+ pieces of flair).

We had a good camaraderie among the waitstaff, and I loved my jobs serving ice cream, sandwiches, pancakes, and the occasional Oreo Madness. But we were also keenly aware of the system of justice and fairness in the food transportation industry.

There was a rotating system, a moving ramekin on the hostess’s seating chart, to make sure each server had equal turns with new guests in the restaurant. Some of it was luck of the draw: if it was your turn when two old ladies came in for an afternoon tea, then you missed out on the next guests: a party of ten – five young couples, all probably double-incomes-no-kids, fully expecting to eat much and tip generously.

There were no promises of a good night, and I confess that there were many nights when I envied the servers who had more tables, bigger parties, or just a prettier smile than I had that night, and they were leaving with way more cash.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 16, Matthew 15, Nehemiah 5, and Acts 15

genesis 16By Megan Oldfield

The voices chant early, before the fog lifts, before the grass dries, and I listen to their lies.

Nobody loves you. Nothing will ever change. None of this is worth it.

Their poison shoots straight for my spine, paralyzing me in the place where I’ve come to pray. From where I sit, spirit and body stuck, I see what I’d written on the easel out in the kitchen just yesterday morning, like a banner snapping over my head now, inviting the voices, the mockery:

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3).

Yeah, right, they scoff. Whatever.

Because in the last 24 hours, dinner burns, a husband distances, a daughter threatens to run away. A toddler screams, a friend ignores, another daughter bristles at every word.

This? This is a mess, not a success.

But after listening to more lies, I will myself to open the Book in my lap, to turn the pages despite my despair, and I end up with Hagar in the wilderness. Together we’re in a desolate place, feeling utterly alone and forsaken. Soon, I hear another Voice telling her to go back, to submit to her mistress.… 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.

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Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 7, Matthew 7, Ezra 7, and Acts 7

matthew 7By Lisa Velthouse

Writing class, senior year, undergrad. It was over ten years ago now, and still I remember Katie’s take on a particular assignment. Our professor had told us to write with honesty about ourselves. Something like that. I remember the gist of the assignment only because of how Katie fulfilled it. We went around the room, reading what we had put together, and it was all sentiment and cheap disclosure until we got to Katie, who said things like:

I’m so selfish that sometimes I wish I could take other people’s things, so I wouldn’t have to be jealous anymore.

I look in the mirror sometimes and tell myself I’m prettier than another woman is. It gives me smug satisfaction to think like that.

I often want to lie about myself to my roommates and friends, to make them think I’m better than I am.

I looked down at my own version of the honesty assignment and was suddenly ashamed to see things like I’d love to be published someday and I’m a farm girl at heart. Hardly gut-deep. Aligned next to Katie’s version of honesty, I found that my own lacked an important kind of bravery and candor.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 2, Matthew 2, Ezra 2, and Acts 2

01022014_NBBy Nicole Bennett, Guest Contributor

Oh, how I love the start of a new year!

We’ve made it through the excitement and abundance of the Christmas season—it’s a season of excess for me to be sure. I indulge in all the culinary delights, fill our days with beloved traditions, and deck the halls with memory-laden relics.

Throughout the last week of the year, we stretch out the celebrating, enjoy the décor and days off, and repose as much as we can until the year ends.

Over the last few years, as my family has grown, our New Year’s Eve celebrations have gone from loud and boisterous, full of family and friends, to quiet nights at home, kids tucked in snugly. But they always culminate in a final day of relaxation, food and football on the first.

And then comes January 2nd.  It’s the day I suddenly feel the climactic urge to simplify and purge—a physical manifestation of the newness of another year beginning.

The clean slate of a new year isn’t really any different than any other day—His mercies are new every morning after all (Lam. 3:22-24).

But as we start at the top of a new calendar I can’t help but embrace the fresh start that it brings.… 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: 2 Chronicles 18, Revelation 7, Zechariah 3, and John 6

john 6By Brenda Chance

Christmas Day had delayed too long for his five-year-old patience. Family members shuffled in so slowly that one thousand babies around the world were born before the old folks finally found their seats by the tree. You could see the anxious anticipation in his eyes—if his parents hadn’t been looming with corrective phrases locked and loaded, he would have pushed them all into their chairs and buckled them up for the ride he had waited twenty-five days to take them on. There were presents to be unwrapped and his fingers fidgeted to do their bidding.

All that waiting and he tore through those presents faster than a blink. He created a flurry of wrapping paper. What was inside each package mattered not, only that there was one more.

No one suspected what happened next, that is after the five year old realized he’d ripped through the last present. There were tears, large and forceful. They weighted down his entire body with despair, submerging him in a personal flood of Noachian proportions. All holiday sentiments of calm and bright ran and hid when his words rang out, “That’s all?… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: 2 Kings 10-11, 1 Timothy 1, Hosea 2, and Psalm 119:97-120

Hosea 2By Amanda Jenkins

I struggle with habitual sin. In my little corner of the world, lots of Christians make the distinction between run of the mill sin and habitual sin–the former being somewhat unavoidable as we continually war with our sin nature. We may stumble and fall, but we get back up, pressing on and striving toward our prize in Christ. And the latter being the repetitive, avoidable, lifestyle sin of the hard-hearted, often considered proof that someone isn’t even saved because by their fruits you’ll know them.

Which is all true. Sometimes.

But it’s also true that in spite of the fact that I’ve been utterly sold out for Jesus for the past two decades, I’ve got plenty of sin on repeat. My vanity, for instance—I’m vain every day. I’m jealous of beautiful  women on TV and the ones in line at the grocery store. I fixate on my flaws. I hate my wrinkles, my graying hair, and my seemingly impenetrable muffin top. My daily priorities easily shift, often making my workout more important than time with God.

I also lust for stuff. Every day.… Continue Reading