Today’s Bible passages are: Numbers 15, Psalm 51, Isaiah 5, and Hebrews 12

Hebrews 12 imageBy Hannah Anderson

When I was six years old, lightening from a summer thunderstorm struck our family’s home and set it on fire. Thankfully we were away on vacation at the time, but when this kind of thing happens in your early childhood, it leaves its mark. Ever since that day, my family had referred to this event simply as “The Fire.” When we returned, we sorted through what we could, but the things that survived carried the smell of smoke and the stains of water damage for years to come. Some things we lost entirely.

At the end of Hebrews 12, the writer describes God as a “consuming fire.” In the larger context, this image conveys the holiness and majesty of God, but on first glance, these words, “a consuming fire,” can conjure up a pretty scary image. An image of a God who is unapproachable, angry, blistering, dangerous, and out of control. A God who consumes everything in His path, like “The Fire” consumed my childhood home. But such a reading is somewhat one-dimensional.

God is not intent on consuming us; He is intent on consuming our sin.Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Numbers 5, Psalm 39, Song of Songs 3, and Hebrews 3

Hebrews 3 image

By Christie Purifoy

For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses – as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope (Hebrews 3:3-6).

My toddler daughter is learning to speak. As yet, she has no word for house, but she is coming closer. She is building a shelter with each new word. Her words are bricks. Daddy. Mama. Sissie. Baby. Kitty.

One day soon she will run her tongue over her growing vocabulary, and she will understand the one word that strains to embrace all of these.

Then she will say house.

***

My preschool-aged son draws a crayon picture of our home. This is an act of creation and translation.… 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 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 4, Psalm 1-2, Proverbs 19, and Colossians 2

Psalm 1 artBy Cindi Koceich

Today’s art is a response to Psalm 1:

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
or sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1 ESV)


Cindi’s thoughts on her art follow:

I believe this  Scripture holds the answer to living a life that is truly free in Christ – a life that is deeply nourished, bears much fruit, and is filled with light in a very dark world.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers…”

The word blessed in this passage literally translates, “Oh the happiness.” This world offers so many counterfeits to true happiness, selling us lies that power, wealth, comfort or status will fulfill us.… 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 37, John 16, Proverbs 13, and Ephesians 6

Exodus 37By Stephanie Rische

A friend of mine has a gift for seeing beauty and then capturing it with the lens of her camera. She can catch a particular scene, in a certain light, with just the right color pattern, and she somehow manages to tell a whole story through the images. She can capture the joy of a couple on their wedding day, the pink-toed wonder of a newborn baby, the golden glow of a field of daffodils.

When she and I chatted the other day, she was reflecting on her career choice. “I feel passionate about what I do,” she said. “But sometimes I wonder if it really makes a difference. I mean, some people help the underprivileged or teach God’s Word or serve on the mission field. And here I’m just making things pretty.”

But as I read today’s passage from Exodus 37, I’m struck by God’s affirmation of beauty—and those who create it. Just a few chapters earlier, we read the description of the craftsman who was commissioned to create the items for the Tabernacle:

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” (Exodus 31:1-5)

After the Lord gave his commandments to Moses and the people and sealed his covenant relationship with them, he knew they would need a place to worship, a place to remember their vows to him.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 36, John 15, Proverbs 12, and Ephesians 5

Exodus 36By Kendra Roberts

Today’s art is a response to all four of the day’s passages. Kendra explains:

The embellishment and coupling of the tabernacle curtains in Exodus 36 inspired me to thread together all of today’s Scripture selections. Some references are symbolic, others are obvious. Can you make the connections?

From Exodus 36:

He made the veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; with cherubim skillfully worked into it he made it. (verse 35)

From John 15:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (verses 1-2)

From Proverbs 12:

No one is established by wickedness,
but the root of the righteous will never be moved. (verse 3)

 

Whoever is wicked covets the spoil of evildoers,
but the root of the righteous bears fruit. (verse 12)

 

Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,
but those who plan peace have joy. (verse 20)

From Ephesians 5:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

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