Today’s Bible passages are: Numbers 23, Psalm 64-65, Isaiah 13, and 1 Peter 2

1 Peter 2 ImageBy Lisa Velthouse

We have a five-week-old in the house, so we are sleep-deprived and groggy-eyed. We are basketfuls of tiny baby clothes in the laundry room. We are pacifiers everywhere. We are hunger all the time. Between the little guy and me alone, there is always at least one person who wants to be eating.

***

A few nights ago, while my husband was away at work and some friends were visiting, the baby cried seemingly forever. But he had just eaten. He had a dry diaper too, and it was an hour past his usual bedtime, and this was his angry cry. I knew him well enough already to know he was trying to pull a power play—this mama was determined not to be manipulated, and to help him learn the simple and basic skill of falling asleep instead. Still, it was mind-numbing to sit there, listening to him like that.

I’ve heard it said somewhere that an infant’s cry has a physiological effect on a woman: specifically, it elicits a sense of actual panic in her. I can’t say whether or not that claim is real science, but anecdotally I know it’s true.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Numbers 16, Psalm 52-54, Isaiah 6, and Hebrews 13

Isaiah 6 art

By Danielle Ayers Jones

Today’s art is a response to Isaiah 6:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am!

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 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

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 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 25, John 4, Proverbs 1, and 2 Corinthians 13

2 corinthians 13By Jane Graham

Darkness pressed in and the weight of tortured prayers hung low above my body, prone and still. I rolled over, burying my face in the pillow so salty tears would dissolve into cotton instead of streaking my skin.

The clock in our bathroom ticked like an ice pick on frozen water, sending echoes into the inky night. My eyes peeled open in vain, wishing for handwriting on the wall and solutions to the heartbreak of this world.

  • I resolved to fast.
  • To limit food choices on non-fasting days.
  • To read Scripture with fervor.
  • To wake up early for prayer.
  • To give up sleep in the morning, bartering comfort for answers.

 

Instead, I am left with quiet. I am left making promises. I am left testing myself.

Today’s Scripture selections included 2 Corinthians 13, the final chapter in Paul’s impassioned plea to the Christians in Corinth. He tells them, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail to meet the test!”

Each Lent I purpose to test myself by saturating the weeks leading to Calvary in the Biblical text.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Exodus 9, Luke 12, Job 27, and 1 Corinthians 13

By Amanda Jenkins

1 corinthians 13We have dear missionary friends who would visit our adopted son, Max, when he was still in the orphanage in Thailand. They brought him books, candy, and pictures of our family, told him about Jesus, and assured him that his new mommy and daddy would come to get him soon. Dallas and I were grateful that Max was being loved on — we saw it as God’s provision and protection for our son while we couldn’t be with him. I’m forever indebted, not only because they cared for Max, but also for their help while we were in Bangkok. They showed us around, armed us with maps and sky-train passes when they couldn’t be our personal tour guides, translated for us, and were a source of support during a difficult, emotional time.

But by day five, four-and-a-half-year-old Max still preferred them and Dallas over me, and I was sad. From moment one, the entire experience was nothing I expected. Nothing felt natural or instinctive. Max wasn’t connecting to me — the woman he’d seen in pictures for the past year. And what was worse, I didn’t feel a connection to him.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 50, Luke 3, Job 16-17, and 1 Corinthians 4

Luke 3By Amy Kannel

I don’t normally think of John the Baptist as a “good news” kind of guy. To be honest, I might use the words “abrasive weirdo.” This, after all, is the guy who wandered the desert wearing camel’s hair and eating grasshoppers. In Luke 3, he begins with the winsome, sensitive strategy of calling his audience a “brood of vipers,” then threatens them with fiery judgment. Twice. His last line in this passage is a dire threat: “the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (v. 17)—and then Luke sums up John’s ministry with this unexpected description: “So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people” (v. 18). Wait a minute. Did I miss something?

If I had to distill John the Baptist’s ministry into a word or two, I’d go with “repent,” not “good news.” But Luke cuts sharply through the false dichotomy, reminding me that repentance is good news.

***

My older son, a kindergartner, had a snow day last Monday, and my mothering was especially awesome that day. Instead of enjoying some extra quiet time while my boys slept in, I lay in bed repeatedly hitting snooze and then messing around on my phone.… Continue Reading

Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 45, Mark 15, Job 11, and Romans 15

genesis 45By Jane Graham

Paczkis.

Fat Tuesday.

Plastic beads at Mardi Gras.

With Lent less than a month away, the marketplace has started its engines and the slow rev toward this ancient tradition has officially begun. Grocery stores are stocking their shelves with Polish treats and throngs will begin their descent upon New Orleans in mere days for a weeks-long celebration.

At times, it seems the modern day observance of Lent is more anticipated for the sanctioned overindulgence beforehand than for the season itself.

But today I am reminded that Lent, among other things, is a season of hardship resulting in forgiveness. Luckily, the Bible has much to say about both of these things.

Genesis 45

The story of Joseph emerges as one of the most powerful stories of forgiveness in all of Scripture. Having been left for dead in a pit, sold into slavery by his own brothers and   then wrongly accused and imprisoned—if anyone had reason to hold a grudge, become embittered or seek revenge, Joseph had plenty to go on.

But when his brothers traveled to Egypt seeking help during a time of famine, the love he exhibited stood in stark contrast to the hatred spewed his way thirteen years earlier.… Continue Reading