Archives For Bible

A stranger’s fingers grip mine. The words reverberate from my throat and into my ears. Liturgy is new for me–but stepping into the same words every Sunday works like a garden hoe on my heart. After weeks and months of hands grasping mine as we pray together, “Our Father in heaven,” two realizations have churned up from this regular tilling of the Lord’s Prayer.

Even though I grew up in nonliturgical churches, like many Christians, I memorized the Lord’s prayer. I could say it in my sleep, and when I started attending my husband’s church last fall, the words tumbled out of my mouth, often on autopilot. 

IMG 6222

Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash, edited

In the months since, I’ve stubbed my spiritual toes on two truths about the Lord’s prayer, so large I’m shocked I never saw them before. (I’ll stick to tackling the first one here). In both cases, my blindness stemmed, in part, from treating the Lord’s prayer like a newspaper clipping. I learned it out of context and never asked how the surrounding paragraphs should shape my understanding of what Jesus intended to teach with this string of phrases.

Continue Reading…

I tried to peel myself off the alley as the Spanish words got louder, men’s voices, but my Columbia pants stuck to the dirt. My bones ached and bowels churned. Montezuma was mounting his revenge and it was one of the worst hours of my life.  


It was also one of the best days of my life, but you have to widen the edges of the story to see it. Zooming out, you’d see the alley I lay plastered in, tucked high up on a jungle mountain. You might see that–by a miracle of nature–later that day I’d steady my limbs and force them up ancient steps until I could look back over the green and grey city of Machu Picchu.  


Rawpixel com 330228 unsplash

Photo by on Unsplash


One day, but two different stories depending on how wide you set the frame. In a similar way, Christians can cut the edges off God’s story. Sometimes we zoom in so tight on the cross, sanctification, and getting to Heaven when we die, that we crop the storyline. The Great Commission looms so large in our minds, that we almost forget about the first commission, the one God gave us in the Garden of Eden.  

Continue Reading…

I don’t really like confessing my sins. It’s a lot like going to the dentist, which I didn’t mind until last October. I sat in the exam chair, looking up at the X-rays and trying to process what my dentist was saying. Not me, I thought, not after thirty-two years. The tiny spot on the X-ray, though, refused to illuminate. My dental sins had found my out. After years of not flossing, I had a cavity. 


Photo 1446712146541 843e336d8154Photo courtesy of Paco S via


The problem with confessing is that it requires us to face the decay inside. A pearly exterior doesn’t matter—how often we go to church or the amount of our charitable donations. Confession, like X-rays, looks for the evil rotting beneath the surface. 


Maybe we read our Bible several mornings a week and feel pretty “spiritual,” but that’s like showing up to God’s Dental with two rows of shiny teeth. He’s more concerned with what’s under the enamel. His radiographs might find that we’re rolling out of bed, not to hear from the God we love, but to manipulate him—we give up twenty minutes of our time and expect him, in return, to answer our prayers. Our devotions, held up to his light-box, might actually reveal self-centeredness Continue Reading…

I clicked delete thinking, “The bookstore is hosting an event to promote a new Bible? That sounds boring.” That’s right, I used the words “Bible” and “boring” in the same sentence. 


A week later, I shuffled my feet inside that same bookstore, waiting for an author to sign my book. My eyes wandered from one shelf to the next until something caught my eye on the wall. It was the painting below: 


Screen Shot 2015 12 05 at 6 05 06 PM Genesis 1, The St. John’s Bible, used with permission


Just then a clerk walked by. 


“What is that?” I asked, gasping for breath Continue Reading…

What pops into your head when you see the word…




Today, it makes me think of The Princess Bride with its ROUS’s and six-fingered man. Most of us are happy to pass off imagination to Hollywood, artists, and six-year-olds pretending to be Queen Elsa. But, when it comes to the serious concerns of adult life, imagination seems out of place. Just consider these odd couples:


Family + Imagination


Work + Imagination


Religion + Imagination

 Photo 1441716844725 09cedc13a4e7

Photo courtesy of Joshua Earle via


Modern-day Evangelicalism hasn’t helped. At best, when Christianity bumps into imagination the two share an awkward hug. (Facing the Giants, anyone?) At worst, while sirens blare, Christianity runs for the bunkers with truth tucked under its arms Continue Reading…

Yesterday, I took a pre-work nap. That’s right. After rocketing out of bed at 5:30 a.m, I slunk back an hour later for what my great-grandfather Ted called a “horizontal.” Sliding fast into the land of sleep, I apologized to God.


“Sorry for skipping the rest of my devotions, God. I’m just so tired.”


Just before I plunged below the surface of consciousness, a thought splashed across my mind. “Why can’t the rest of the day be a devotion, too? 

 Rsz 28530 2

Photo courtesy of Kevin Carden via


During my thirty minute commute on the I-20, past one of the few green patches in Dallas (thanks to the nearby sewer plant), the concept of “doing devotions” cycled through my grey matter. What if starting a day at the office (or school, or home) was like sitting down for another type of devotions—cracking open a different leather binding and unfolding a different story—but where we should expect to find God, all the same? 

Continue Reading…

I sat in front of my laptop. The sun was still snoozing under the horizon and I was reading Exodus, one of those books from the front half of the Bible. Actually, I wasn’t reading. I was floating half-conscious over paragraphs about alters, oil, and priests and wondering why I had left the land of sleep for this. 


But, then my eyes snagged on something. “And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.” (Ex. 28:2, ESV). 


Wait, I thought, beauty matters to God? 


Photo 1414058862086 136de6c98e99Photo courtesy of Jan Erik Waider via

After all the years I spent in Sunday school, I felt pretty good about how well I could predict God. If he was selecting qualities he wanted in worship—his first draft pick would be glory. Subsequent rounds he’d choose things like love, faith, and obedience. But, it had never crossed my mind that God’s idea of worship wasn’t complete without beauty Continue Reading…

No Demons Here

smgianotti  —  March 21, 2015

Imagining demon-possession seems unwise, so I start with the tombs. Mark’s demoniac lived among the tombs (Mark 5:1-20). Clenching my lashes together, I fight off the brightness diffusing through my eyelids. Imprints of my cherry wood desk and the crape myrtle beyond it float in my brain. The fan hums overhead and sweet air wafts over me. Not very tomb-like.

rsz_tomb.jpgPhoto courtesy of Joel Mulhouse via

I try to imagine gathering bones for pillows, screaming just to hear my own voice, and gashing my chest with rocks. But I can’t, because I’m used to reading the Bible from the sidelines.

Continue Reading…

A Long Time Coming

smgianotti  —  December 18, 2014

Rsz 1rsz 27342 shiny presentPhoto courtesy of Jason Watson via

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son…” Luke 1:13 

The smell of yeast met Zechariah at the door. Elizabeth’s back was still turned, her wrinkled hands kneading and stretching the dough. As she stopped to push a strand of gray hair behind her ear, Zechariah’s heart skipped a beat.

God had heard all those years of prayer—the nights when Zechariah had begged God for a child and Elizabeth had wept herself to sleep, the nights they had prayed together while he had stroked her dark hair. When the townspeople began to say that God was punishing them, Zechariah and Elizabeth had kept praying. They prayed for years. Then, when her flow stopped, so did their prayers.

Continue Reading…