June 2020


Everything Points to Jesus

June 30, 2020 • Emily Tenter

Have you ever heard that “everything in the Bible points to Jesus”? That seems kind of weird, doesn’t it? How can it be all about Someone who isn’t even named until the last quarter of the book? True, the Old Testament is sprinkled with prophecies about the Messiah: it’s easy enough to link those to Christ. But there’s still a lot that seems irrelevant. Chapters and chapters are filled with the story of the nation of Israel. What does that have to do with Jesus? When we start into the New Testament, Matthew summarizes Jesus’ ancestry. Right off, we see several of the “big names” from the Old Testament—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ruth, Jesse, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, etc. And that’s our first link! But then, after the Christmas story, we get into the life of Christ, with His escape to Egypt, return to Israel, baptism, and temptation in the desert. It looks like we’ve left the Old Testament far behind. But wait! Where have we seen Egypt before? Way back in Genesis, Israel escaped to Egypt until Moses led them on the Exodus. And then what? They spent forty years in the desert as the children grew up. They gave into temptation, worshiping other gods and complaining. And Jesus? After escaping to Egypt, He returned, grew up, and spent forty days in the desert. Coincidence? Maybe not. When the devil tempted Him, every answer Jesus gave came straight from the book of Deuteronomy. The two Egypt stories link with an Old Testament prophet’s words: “I called my son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1). Israel was formed by God to be His representative on Earth, to bless all the people of the world. When they abandoned Him, God sent Jesus — a flawless representative, who succeeded where Israel had failed. It’s one story, culminating in Christ, of God revealing His love to all the world! • Christiana Cudworth • The Bible was written by a lot of different people, in a lot of different times and places. Why do you suppose it all fits together? • What other examples from the Old Testament can you think of that Jesus mirrored or fulfilled? (Check out Genesis 22 and Job 19:25-27, just to name a couple.) You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me [Jesus]! John 5:39 (NLT)

What's Next?

June 29, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

What’s next?” The ever-present question, heard every time you change schools, pick classes, or choose what happens after high school. When I’m asked this question, I sometimes think it means I’m not good enough: "I haven’t 'arrived' at where they think I should be. I don’t know 'what’s next'! I was enjoying high school, but now I’m fixated on what comes after this." I find myself becoming discontent, no longer happy where I am. I start comparing myself to other people. They have so many things I don’t have. A nice car. A significant other. A cat. A dog. A plan! As I reflect on what others are doing, I get so focused on things I might do in the future that I lose sight of what God is doing in me right now. When the apostle Paul was in prison, I’m sure he would sometimes look around and think of all the other things he could have been doing rather than sitting in a cell. In Philippians 4, after having been in chains for quite some time, he says he has “learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (verse 11). That doesn’t mean he wasn’t thinking about what could happen if he were released from prison, but it didn’t consume him. Paul was excited about the possibilities, but he was also content where he was. Notice Paul says he had to learn contentment (verses 11-12). It wasn’t like flipping a switch and everything was suddenly sunshine and roses. No, learning contentment was a process. The Holy Spirit worked in Paul all along. In Christ, Paul was able to rest in peace and joy, equipped to do the work God put before http://him...and even to dream about where God would call Him next. • Kristi Dennis • Have you ever been asked about what’s next in your future? • Read Proverbs 3:5-6. How does it encourage you to know God is the One who can direct your steps? I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12 (NIV)

The Fall of the Empire

June 28, 2020 • Emily Tenter

One Man defeated the evil empire. The empire ruled the entire world for centuries, millennia. All humanity succumbed to it. All lands felt its iron grip. The empire ruled with hate and vitriol. With domination and rebellion. With use and manipulation. With lies and deceit. With death, pain, and fear. Then it fell, beaten by the love of the new King. Oh, the empire tried to ensnare Him in its workings, but He had no interest in conquering, in dealing, in grasping wealth. It swallowed Him up in death, and He spit it out in life. In love, He broke the cycle of human violence. The foundations of the empire were shattered when, in love, He http://died...but then rose again. Oh, the empire seems to be in full operation. Tyrants and slavers still conduct their business. The hungry masses still rage and plot. The Earth is still full of the bones of the murdered. But so many have already defected to join the King. Millions of them now. They eagerly await the day when His kingdom of love comes in fullness, destroying the last feeble remnants of the empire. The end will come quickly. Get out of the empire while you can, because soon there will be nothing left. Join the King, and His new kingdom. It will last forever—its people loved by their King and, thus, loving Him and each other. The old empire will be scarcely remembered. • Kevin Zeller • Throughout the Bible, the empire of Babylon is used as a name for the sinful system of the world. What ways do you see the empire in the news every day? • How did Jesus destroy the empire of sin and death? (To learn more, check out our "Know Jesus" page.) • How do Christians undermine the work of the empire? They will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will cry out, “How terrible, how terrible for you, O Babylon, you great city! In a single moment God’s judgment came on you.” Revelation 18:10 (NLT)

Run the Race

June 27, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

Like it or not, regular exercise is important for your body. It keeps your heart strong, which helps to pump blood all over your body. It makes your bones and muscles strong and keeps your lungs healthy. Exercise also sends oxygen to your brain and helps you think clearly. But there’s an even more important reason to stay active and keep fit. Your body is a gift to you from God, one He’s entrusted to your care. Your body was specially designed and created by God (Psalm 139:14). If you’re a believer in Jesus, God even promises to resurrect your body, just like when Jesus rose from the grave (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Philippians 3:20-21). The Bible also says that when you trust in Jesus, His Holy Spirit lives in you, which means your body is His temple— it belongs to Him and you are to honor Him with it (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). How do you do that? By keeping your body healthy and clean, by making good choices about exercise and nutrition, and by staying away from activities or substances that are harmful. Simply put, you can honor God through caring for the body He’s given you—which is a very good metaphor for how to honor God in all areas of your life. For daily training, regularly spend time reading the Bible and praying—on your own and with other Christians. For nutrition, fill your heart with spiritual nourishment: truth about Jesus—found in His Word. For coaching, find mature Christians who can encourage you as you grow as a Christian. And for your team, seek good Christian friends. Get to know people of all ages at your church. And, finally, there’s perseverance. Don’t give up! God will help you get through even the hardest days. You have His help every morning as you wake up (Lamentations 3:22-23). As a Christian, you are never alone in the race of faith. Jesus Christ is with you always (Matthew 28:20). He will complete the work He started in you (Philippians 1:6). • Ann-Margret Hovsepian • Why are our bodies important to God? • What would daily training, nutrition, coaching, teamwork, and perseverance look like in your own walk with Christ? Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT)

A Song in Your Heart

June 26, 2020 • Emily Tenter

Today may be a day you woke up and looked out at the world around you and wanted no more of it. Life feels crushing, unfair, as though it is falling apart. You may think you are completely alone. You are not. People may have failed you, or they don’t know how to give you what you need, but God has given you a song. He has given all of His creation a song of hope, even the trees in the forests, the hills, and the mountains. In fact, the Bible references the word sing over four hundred times and even commands us to sing. Why? In Christ—even in your darkest moments—deep, deep inside of you a song waits for you to give it life. It doesn’t matter if you have a good voice or if you don’t know what to sing. Go to God’s Word and find truths to sing—the deep truths of the good news of Jesus. Run to Him, the One who is true, who gives freedom and restoration from sin and death (John 14:6). If your faith is in Him, He has given you a song of salvation that He sang over you http://first...and sings over you even now (Zephaniah 3:17; 1 John 4:19). So, like a crumbling dam, let the words break you open, fall from your mouth like a river. Spill the emotions in a rush. Cry. Scream. But sing. In today’s Bible passages, joy goes hand in hand with the song of salvation, and God is referred to as a stronghold (Psalm 59:16). Song to God surrounds you with comfort, peace, and joy. He is your fortress (Psalm 91:2). Song reminds you that, if you know Jesus, you belong to God—loved, special, and chosen in Him. The only One who knows your heart better than you is God. He knows your pain, your fears, your hopelessness. He wants to carry all of that for you. So raise your voice in song, child of God! He will give you the words to sing as He completes the work He started in you (Philippians 1:6). • Sara DeBord • If God has given the trees, hills, and mountains a song, do you believe He will provide you—a child of God in Christ—the truths to sing as well? • Read Psalm 118:14, Acts 4:11-12, Romans 1:16 and 8:18-30. Why is the song of God’s people (and creation) rooted in salvation through Jesus? He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and they will trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3 (CSB)

The Moon City

June 25, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

Exiting the café, I remembered I hadn’t taken my muscular gravity supplements. I quickly popped the pill, uncomfortably imagining my skeletal and muscular systems wasting away in the low Lunar gravity. I shambled down the hallway outside, past the genetically modified plants and artistic fountains. I heard someone call out and turned to see a friend of mine, an engineer, loping up behind me. “How goes the playwriting?” he asked, a grin on his face. I shook my head, wanting to talk about anything else. “Not much success. How is the engineering life going?” We fell into shuffling step, passing a huge greenhouse branching away from us into the Lunar mountains. “Oh, you know, same trouble as ever. That moon dust destroys everything from machinery to spacesuits. We think we might have a drop on it this time though.” I nodded, sipping my drink through a straw. He seemed to hesitate, finally leaning in when a couple of police officers had passed. “Look, friend, I care about you. You are a ridiculously bright artist. But you need to get moving and write something. It’s been months since you wrote anything, and there is only room in this city for doers.” “What are they going to do?” I asked. “Throw me out an airlock?” He didn’t answer, which alarmed me more than anything he had said. He peeled off to the right, toward the communications center. I was left standing in the hallway, busy people bustling around me. I looked up past the glowing streetlights to see the faraway sphere of Earth hanging in the black sky. "Is there anyplace I can go," I wondered, "where people will love me—not just the things I accomplish?" • Kevin Zeller • Read Ephesians 2:8-10. Why is grace from Christ—not what we do—the way we gain entrance into His city? • Reread today’s Bible passages. What kind of city does God promise to His people in Christ? • Is your faith in Christ? To learn more, check out our "Know Jesus" page. For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26 (NLT)

We Need to Talk (Part 3)

June 24, 2020 • Emily Tenter

Your friend Josh comes up to you and says the dreaded words: “We need to talk.” Your stomach turns sour. He tells you you’ve been letting bitterness get in the way of your friendship and your faith. Guilt starts to seep in. He has a point. At first, you were just angry at him because he started dating a girl you liked—even though you told him you were fine with them dating. But after a while, your anger became resentment. You hated seeing them as a couple, so you cut them out. The problem is, Josh was the friend who took you to church on Sundays. Come to think of it, it’s been a while since you’ve prayed too. Josh’s words are so gentle. He doesn’t seem angry. In fact, it still seems like he cares a lot about you. When he’s done speaking, you say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” It’s difficult to admit you’ve been wrong, especially when someone confronts you with the truth. The important thing to realize is, confrontation is often done from a place of love. Your friend cares about you and your spiritual wellbeing. When you’re tempted to get defensive about your sin, lean on the Holy Spirit to restore an attitude of humility and repentance in you. Even if your friend doesn’t approach the topic as well as they should, understand that their intentions are good and that we are all broken people in need of salvation through Jesus Christ. When we are unified around our faith in Jesus, we can have true peace—even during hard conversations (Philippians 4:1-9). • Naomi Vroegop • Is there a sin you’re struggling with? Has a friend talked to you about it? • How would you react if a friend confronted you about your own sin? • If you are struggling with a particular sin, who can you run to (Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 1:9–2:1)? As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

The Confrontation (Part 2)

June 23, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

So now that you’ve decided to confront your Christian friend about their sin, how do you do it well? According to the Bible, one important part of confrontation is gentleness. In Galatians 6:1, the Bible uses a Greek word for setting a person right that can also describe setting a joint. This gentle process hurts, but ultimately it moves the person toward correction and healing. Therefore, when it’s time to confront someone, approach them with Spirit-filled gentleness motivated by love (Galatians 5:22-23). In Matthew 18:15-17, the Bible lays out steps for the confrontation. First, you should talk to your friend alone. This prevents your shaming or embarrassing them in front of others. It can be easier to talk about tough topics with only two of you there. If the person doesn’t listen the first time, bring another friend. This can help show the person it’s not just you who thinks their behavior is a problem. If the problem persists after that, it’s time to call in church authority. It’s okay to take things to a higher power and admit something is out of your control. As believers, we now belong to the family of God. Jesus Christ has freed us from the power of sin and death, so we no longer have to say yes to sin (Titus 2:11-14). Therefore, we have the privilege and joy of helping each other along in the journey to becoming more like Christ (Hebrews 10:19-25; James 5:16-20). • Naomi Vroegop • When was the last time you practiced gentleness? • What would be difficult for you about confronting a brother or sister in Christ? • Why is it important for Christians to support each other on the journey of following Jesus? Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1 (NIV)

Do I Say Something? (Part 1)

June 22, 2020 • Emily Tenter

The lifelong question: "When do I confront someone about a sin I’ve noticed?" As Christians, the gospel of Jesus should always carry our conversations when we confront others about sin, allowing us to extend the same grace and forgiveness we have been given. With that in mind, here are some truths to keep in mind when weighing the situation. First, remember final judgment is God’s and God’s alone. Because of this, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5 that we have no business judging those outside of the church. But we are called to confront our brothers and sisters in Christ when they are in unrepentant sin. Second, ask, “What is my relationship to this person?” If you feel you need to confront a believer about sin patterns in their life, consider your relationship with them. It’s often best to reserve confrontations for Christians you know well. Otherwise, you may be missing important information about what is going on. Third, ask, “Is anyone in immediate danger?” Seeing your friend being disrespectful to his parents has a different urgency than that same friend giving death threats to others. There’s a time for a heart-to-heart about sin, and there’s a time to call the police or other relevant authorities or agencies. Finally, think about your own motivations. In Matthew 7, Jesus is clear: As Christians, we should not confront people out of pride, assuming their sin is worse than ours. Instead, we remember God has extended His grace to us, forgiving our sins through Jesus. When confronting others about their sins, we keep this grace in mind, extending unmerited favor to others, as God has to us (Ephesians 4:32). • Naomi Vroegop • Have you ever confronted someone about a sinful behavior? • Have you noticed a friend’s habitual sin? Do you think you’re the right person to speak to them about it? • If you’re struggling with whether to confront someone, who is a trusted Christian adult you could bring your questions to—such as a pastor, parent, youth leader, or counselor? If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. Matthew 18:15 (NLT)

Our Good Father

June 21, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

What are some characteristics of a good father? One who loves his children—not for what they do (or don’t do) but simply because they are his. One who takes the time to listen to and encourage his children. One who is a safe place and a shelter from harm. But in this broken world, not all fathers are good fathers and no father is perfect. If you had no positive father influence in your life at all, the concept of a good father might seem as distant as the far side of the sea. Even if your own father figure was an amazing example of what a father should be, he will still let you down sometimes because, apart from Christ, we are all sinners in need of a Savior. Whatever we have personally experienced when it comes to fathers, we have this common thread of hope: in Christ, God is our Father. He is THE Father— here before the world was formed, speaking all creation into existence (John 1:1-14). Loving us so deeply He gave His only Son for us, even when we were still caught in sin (John 3:16-18; Romans 5:8). Like the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, God is always waiting for us with open arms when we return from our wandering. There are no limits to His love, no sin too appalling. Through faith in Christ, we belong to the family of God, even when we fail (Romans 8). Because of Jesus, when we come before our Father’s throne of grace, we will find mercy, grace, and help (Hebrews 4:14-16). He is our Rock and refuge (Psalm 18:2). He rescues us from sin and http://temptation...even from the grave (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 1:3-5)! When we belong to our Father God, no one can snatch us out of His hands (John 10:29). Because of Jesus, our Father will dwell with us forever (Matthew 28:20; John 14:23-26; Revelation 21:1-5). • Savannah Coleman • When you think of the word "father," what feelings flood your mind? If you have been abandoned or mistreated by your earthly father, know this: in Christ, there is a heavenly Father who won’t leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Rest in God’s unchanging nature, bringing your wounded heart to be held and healed by the One who loves you unconditionally (1 Peter 5:7). • Reread today’s Bible passages. What are some of the ways God is a good Father? A father of the fatherless, and a defender of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. Psalm 68:5 (WEB)

Asking for a Bowl of Soup

June 20, 2020 • Emily Tenter

As I volunteer at the soup kitchen, I examine their dirty hands. When they each extend their bowls, I wonder, Am I better than those I am serving? No. A voice resonates through my head. "You are both broken. You both need grace. You both are the reason I sacrificed Myself." Of course. Just because I was born somewhere, Or look some way, Or feel some how, Makes me no better Than the one looking back at me, Asking for a bowl of soup. • Naomi Vroegop • Reread today’s Scripture passage. How are we all desperately in need? • Read Ephesians 2:8-10. Why is it important that our efforts can’t save us from sin and death? • How can we be saved from sin and death? (Learn more on our "Know Jesus" page). • How do these truths affect the way we view each other? For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28 (NLT)

The Peace of the Covenant

June 19, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

Have you ever worried about losing your relationship with God? I used to worry God would give up on me if I wasn’t good enough, and, of course, I was never “good enough.” Then I learned about covenant. A covenant is a binding, sacred agreement between God and humans. It’s the way God deals with humankind. In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, the rainbow provides a beautiful picture of covenant (chapters 6–9). Humankind was so steeped in wickedness that God, in His justice, had to act, flooding the earth and destroying almost all life. Noah and his family, who were spared because of their trust in God, spent many years building an ark and then living for about 370 days on this giant boat surrounded by all different types of animals. When it was over, God sent the rainbow as a promise that He would never flood the world again. But God didn’t stop there. Years later, He made a covenant with Abraham and led him from his home to an unknown country and unseen future, so all people would one day be blessed through the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ (Genesis 15; Galatians 3:6-14, 29). Here’s some great news: God’s covenant with His people can’t be broken (Psalm 89:34). And, if we are in Christ, God has a covenant with you and me—to rescue us from sin and death so we can live forever with Him and His people. On our own and in our sin, we have broken the covenant, so God must be the One who keeps it. Just like us, Abraham wasn’t able to keep the covenant—that’s why God put Abraham to sleep when He made the covenant. In Christ, we rest because He keeps the covenant, not Abraham or us (Isaiah 24:5; Ephesians 2:8-10). Covenant brings me comfort. It dispels any doubts about God’s love, forgiveness, and trustworthiness. Hebrews 13:20 tells us Jesus is our great shepherd and we are His sheep through “an eternal covenant with his blood.” God is the One who established the covenant through His blood, and God is the One who keeps the covenant. • Sharon Rene • Have you ever worried God might abandon you? • In Christ, do you ever try to be perfect to earn God’s love? How does covenant and the symbol of the rainbow bring you comfort? Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. Hebrews 13:20-21a (NLT)


June 18, 2020 • Emily Tenter

Our need for love and appreciation is written deeply into our nature. We want to be seen and accepted by those around us. But, in this broken world, humans are selfish, and human attention is fickle. Popularity can tease those who don’t find http://it...and wreck those who do. Jesus knows about popularity. As a human, He understands people. He knows personally that they can crown you one day and crucify you the next. So, during His ministry on earth, how did Jesus deal with that oh-so-human desire for attention and acceptance? How did He deal with popularity? Instead of relying on the opinions of humans for worth and acceptance, Jesus went to the Father; He “entrusted himself to the one who judges justly,” even in suffering (1 Peter 2:23). Yet Jesus was not detached. He cared. He loved. He had a mission to accomplish for our sake—one that would make a way for us to escape the trap of finding our worth in what others think of us instead of in the One who made us. He made the ultimate sacrifice to beat sin and death, all because He so loved us (John 3:16-17). In Christ, we are loved and accepted, no matter what we face (Romans 8:38-39). And, in that acceptance, we are free to love others instead of comparing ourselves to them. A prayer: "Lord, I entrust my heart to You, loving others with abandon as I accomplish Your mission for my life. Remind me I am secure in Your great love, which will help me show that same love to each one You bring into my life today. In Jesus’ name, Amen." • Trent D. Schrock • God created us to be in community (Genesis 2:18). But the fall into sin broke our relationships with God and others (Genesis 3). How has Jesus made a way for our broken relationships with God and others to be reconciled? To dig deeply into this topic, check out Romans 5, 2 Corinthians 5, and Colossians 1. • To what length have you gone in the past to “earn” the love and attention of those around you? • Read Romans 8. How can the truths from this passage help you rest confidently in God’s love for you in Christ? How can this confident rest help you love others? Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39 (CSB)

The Challenge of Change

June 17, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

If there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s that nothing stays the same forever. Moving. Changing schools. Leaving school forever. New friends. New teachers. New challenges. Changes within our family or within our church. Our lives are in a constant state of flux. How do you feel about change? Is it something you embrace or tend to run a mile from? Floods. Earthquakes. Landslides. One distressing event after another. It can be unsettling to watch the news. But that’s where the good news comes in! “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Another word for refuge is fortress—a strong tower we can run to. God is not just present; He’s VERY present. That means He’s not just a bystander, watching from afar. He’s intimately involved in the details of our lives. Jesus is always with us (Matthew 28:20). His Holy Spirit indwells us, even when we face seasons of challenging change (Luke 12:11-12). He’s with us when we walk through the doors of a new school. He’s with us when our family goes through hardship. He’s with us in the operating room. He’s with us in the exam. He’s with us when friends come and go. So whatever change or challenge you are facing today, remember: in Christ, God has not left you to face it alone. He’s not just present; He’s VERY present. You can count on Him to help you through your season of change. • Angela Jelf • Are you (or any of your friends) facing change today? • Are you ever fearful when you turn on the news? • Take a moment to talk to God, your refuge and ever-present help. How can the promises from today’s Bible passage bring you comfort in seasons of challenging change? God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 (NKJV)


June 16, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

Jarrod clung to his steed, spurring it faster. Dust thrown by thundering hooves swarmed behind him. His pursuers closed in. Hair on the back of Jarrod’s neck stood on end. He breathed frantic gasps, gagged on raw fear. “Bravo!” Jarrod said, pulling off the virtual reality headset and then carefully removing the fiber-optic gloves. “It’s perfect,” he said to the vendor, Reuben. “You were pleased with the Remington?” “I was. Does it work on all the paintings in the gallery?” Reuben nodded. “It allows the viewer to experience the very heart of the creation.” With greedy eyes, Jarrod studied the masterpiece. It now seemed strangely dull and lifeless. But paired with this new technology... Introducing it to museums would make him the envy of the art world. . . . “Imagine delighting in Mona Lisa’s smile, indulging in the tranquility of Monet,” Reuben said, “or exploring Picasso...” “I’ll pass on Picasso, thank you,” Jarrod said with a chuckle. “Too surreal.” “Quite so,” Reuben agreed. “Shall we finish viewing the Western collection?” In response, Jarrod pulled the equipment back on. It felt disorienting at first, but he soon became accustomed to the swirl of color and sound. Familiar masterpieces blossomed to life as he strolled, one heart-pounding image bleeding into the next. And then... The stench of rotting flesh slammed Jarrod. A horror of a man dressed in filthy rags swallowed his vision. Malice bore into Jarrod’s mind like a thousand stinging maggots. Terror knocked him to his knees. Screaming, he ripped the headset off his head, yanking away the horror in a flash. Reuben crouched beside him. “Sir, are you okay?” Bile rose in Jarrod’s throat. “That http://artwork...it must be removed.” The room grew painfully quiet. Finally, Reuben said, “I’m afraid you are confused. There is no portrait on this wall.” “What?” Jarrod asked. Legs trembling, he stood. An arrogantly handsome face stared back at him. Reuben was correct. No artwork adorned the wall. Only a mirror. • Lori Z. Scott • When he looked in the mirror, Jarrod saw the essence of himself. What was he really seeing? How does that relate to you? See Isaiah 64:3-8. • Read Jeremiah 17:9, Ezekiel 36:26-27, and Ephesians 2:1-10. If our hearts are sick with sin, who is the One who can make them new? • What does it mean to be made new by Jesus? To learn more, check out our "Know Jesus" page. The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT)