We all know the phrase, “It is better to give than to receive.” Leslie and Cassandra gave their voices.

Leslie, our reader for Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Micah and Jonah said,

“I’ve been a student of God’s word all my life. I know that God’s word is written to all people, in all places, at all times. And yet, I’d only heard the Bible read by men.

“I never thought that was a barrier until I heard women reading God’s Word. And it felt like a veil lifted for me. I know that God loves women. Hearing God’s word in women’s voices has helped me experience God’s love for me personally.”

Cassandra, our reader for Genesis, Proverbs, Hosea and Joel shared,

“I’m so honored to be a part of this project. I mean it, from the bottom of my heart.

“When I am recording, I think about a villager on the mountains in the Himalayas. Because the world has become so small and there are no limitations as to where sound can go, so why not let the Word of God be disseminated in these places? To the far-flung corners of the world.”

One such listener in a far-flung corner of the world is Carril in Trinidad and Tobago. Carril received comfort through her.BIBLE voices, like Leslie and Cassandra, when her dad recently passed away. (To see Carril’s story in full, click here).

“It was so traumatic for me. I could not read my Bible, but I knew I needed God. I needed his comfort, but through the tears, I just could not see to read. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to read while crying, but everything is a blur. I remembered the her.BIBLE app on my phone! I just let the Word of God wash over me and comfort me. It offered an added comfort in a female voice because it was almost motherly.”

Would you like to reach more listeners like Carril who are longing to hear God’s word? Your one time or monthly gift of any amount will help us complete the Old Testament and encourage people’s hearts around the world. (You can give online here.)

Thank you and may you have a blessed holiday season!

For many, the vision of a little child running carefree brings feelings of joy and delight. However, for me, I became branded by severely painful life experiences from toddler age, and I graduated with honors in living out the results.

Subsequently, the word ‘victim’ felt stamped across my forehead, like a clearance item holding little value. After each traumatic experience, I took on labels – the burn victim, the sexual abuse casualty, the parental betrayal recipient, the grief-stricken mother, the domestic abuse target, the depressed and the neglected.

Never did I identify myself through the eyes of who God says I am.

Being raised around destructive forces created blinders, making it more of a challenge to accept how God viewed me, as I only could see how life treated me. It took almost my entire life to accept “I am not my circumstances.” It is easy to fall into the trap of defining our worth based on what has or has not occurred in our life.

From there, failure can easily find its way to the depths of our hearts. After so much trauma, our identity and worth naturally come from others’ estimations of us. And, yet others’ opinions are often problematically revealed through their own brokenness.

One thing I know to be true is the Creator’s view of us never alters. On the contrary, it is always consistent and full of delight for His children.

Taking ownership of this truth changed me from a “damaged goods” outlook to the beautiful proclamation that I am a loveable child of God. “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12).

No matter what horror or loss has occurred in our lives, God has already decided to love us anyway (Romans 5:8). Being a part of His family brings so much richness.

We are all now loved, forgiven, treasured, deserving, protected, beautiful and worthy.

His identity for us is the only one identity worth embracing.

“As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.” Jeremiah 18:6b

In Biblical times, potters were necessary components of a community. They produced the dishes, containers, cooking implements, and storage pieces needed by everyone in daily living. Biblical imagery is often lost on us because potters today are artisans who create for display rather than everyday needs.

Clay was readily available in Palestine in Jesus’ time. When gathered, it required preparation before use because it was either too wet, too crumbly, or filled with sticks and pebbles. Potters often had helpers who would clean the clay—much like the Holy Spirit, God’s Helper, who reminds us how to live in holiness.

Two essential steps were required to make valuable ceramics. The first was kneading, creating consistency in texture so the pot would hold up when fired. This step was hard work, with persistent pressure that works out air bubbles that could ruin a pot.

When the clay was ready for the wheel, the next important step was centering the clay while the wheel turned to make a uniformly consistent pot. Clay is not cooperative; its very nature moves from the center while the wheel is spinning. Force is needed to shape and center the pot; the potter leans his elbows against his knees to apply equal pressure from both hands. We fight centering; our hearts are prone to wander.

When the pot is finished, it is set aside to dry completely. Moisture causes breakage when fired. When it’s bone dry, it’s in its most fragile state. It’s then fired, and the intense heat is what makes it strong and resilient. The second firing glazes and seals it to make it ready for use. Potters rarely fired single pieces; many were fired together to fill his kiln. We’re still fired in community, made to bear each other’s burdens.

It’s not the pot that makes the difference; the potter knows what He wants to accomplish through His creation. Too often, we have “pot envy”–wanting to be like someone else. But who we are is His unique design for us. Submitting to the potter gives Him the freedom to make us according to His intention.

My friends and I rolled out of bunk beds early and headed for the start of the Shadow of the Giants trail race. The air was brisk. “Three, two, one, go!” the race director bellowed, his voice echoing through the forest. And we were off.

My lungs burned as we headed uphill through the grove of Sequoia trees at 5,000-feet elevation.

Inhale. Lift. Exhale. Lift. Inhale. Lift.

I tried to find the rhythm of my breath and feet to make it up that first five miles of hills. I couldn’t help noticing the landscape.

The trail through the Nelder Grove—near Yosemite National Park—looked strikingly different from the year before when I ran the same race. Fallen trees and blackened trunks provided a striking stark contrast against the backdrop of the blue sky.

A wildfire earlier in the year blazed its way through this forest. The cause of the fire was unknown, but it threatened communities and historic buildings.

When a fire rages through dry underbrush, it clears thick growth so that nourishing sunlight can reach the forest floor. This encourages the growth of native species. Where forest fires destroy, new life springs up.

A resilient tree that survives the fire can even experience a growth spurt.

As I ran, I noticed evidence of new growth. Green grass and leaves sprouted. Wildflowers dotted the trail. As I rounded one corner, angled light beamed through the blackened tree trunks.

Beauty rose from the ashes.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,

for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted…

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.

In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:1-3

After my husband’s death, a fierce sense of hope has risen in my life. I still bear the scars of loss, but God uses these to open doors to encourage others.

Sometimes life is about breathing and lifting, moving forward one step at a time. Our hearts are scarred, but we have found unexpected joy in the ashes.

It is not easy to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and thanksgiving when you’re going through a trial. Many years ago, I pleaded for God to resurrect my dead marriage. I prayed each day, repeatedly asking for the same thing.

Then, early one morning, just as I began to open my mouth to pray, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Come, not asking anything, but praise.”

The words halted me and shifted my focus from asking God to do what I wanted Him to do to praising Him for what He had already done. It takes quietness before God and reflecting on what He has already done for gratitude to spring forth from the depths of your heart.

Giving thanks empowers us to overcome anything that comes our way. Life can be challenging, but God is always good. And if we look hard enough, we will see His goodness.

There is always a reason to give God praise, but we need our eyes to be opened to see God’s blessings all around us. Before long, I experienced a miracle in my marriage.

In your own painful places, I urge you to look to Psalm 100 for guidance. It is a psalm of thanksgiving. It offers us a picture of a heart attitude approaching God in prayer.

First, we are to worship the Lord with gladness and come before him singing with joy (v. 2). Secondly, we are to enter his gates with thanksgiving and go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name (v.4). Why? Because the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation (v.5).

Thanksgiving and praise have less to do with our hardships and more to do with our faith.

Approaching God with a thankful heart is giving Him what He truly deserves.

In the darkest years of my journey as a mom with our prodigal son, Isaiah was my closest friend.

As I searched God’s Word for help and hope, He repeatedly met me in the book of Isaiah, especially beginning in Chapter 40.

He comforted me and encouraged me with words such as these

And many more.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you.

I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (41:10)

He will feed his flock like a shepherd.

He will carry the lambs in his arms,

holding them close to his heart.

He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. (40:11)

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.

O Israel, the one who formed you says,

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.

I have called you by name; you are mine. (43:1)

For I am about to do something new.

See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

I will make a pathway through the wilderness.

I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. (43:19)

At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” (60:22b)

And many more.

As I listen to her.BIBLE, I love the beautiful voices of daughters of God while appreciating every book. I have eagerly anticipated the completion of the Book of Isaiah.

It is out now, and I am dwelling there with my Lord, listening to challenges, comforts, hopes, and promises.

Our prodigal is in a good place now. But that last verse, Isaiah 60:22b, has been faith and courage for me in every difficult time in life, ever since.

God, through his Spirit, inspired and wrote the most epic love story of all. Isn’t it startling how easily we forget this? His story contains the universe’s origin, a tragic fall, and a heroic rescue that restores shattered souls and hurting hearts.


In the book of 1 John, readers are invited on their own journey towards love, light, and transformation. Jesus invites us to partner with him in the work of reconciling a broken world. In 1 John, we see elements of what classic writers call ‘the hero’s journey’.

In our quest towards being reconcilers, we will face our own imperfect heroic story in which there is a departure from the ways of God, an invitation into his family, and the return of our spirits to light and life.

Departure
We were born to a story already in progress—our souls already in danger. Every sin we commit is a further departure from the ways of God. John tells us, “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” (1 John 2:16)


Invitation
The good news of the gospel tells us Jesus is the Shepherd drawing us back from our departure. “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1a).

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

Return

Finally, we are drawn back to the kingdom of God, and there will be a day when the earth and all its creatures return to perfection. “…And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.” (1 John 5:20b)

Want more of the story? Listen to the wisdom, warnings and wooing of I John.

Do you ever make up horrible movies in your mind about getting in fatal car accidents or losing your kids at the zoo? I do. I call these negative mental movies “WorryFlix.” For years, I wondered why the “Just pray about it” advice did not work for me. For a long time, I felt like an immature Christian because I loved God, and yet, I struggled deeply with fear and uncertainty.

At the beginning of Joshua 1, Moses’ former assistant, Joshua, was now God’s people’s spiritual and military leader. Not only that, but Joshua knew that he’d be leading his army into battle against the thirty-one kingdoms of Canaan. While the scriptural text doesn’t give insight into Joshua’s thoughts, God’s instructions to Joshua provide powerful insight into a promise of victory in the face of uncertainty and fear. This exact promise is one that you can also hold onto today.

“No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.” Joshua 1:5

Throughout the book of Joshua and the battles that the Israelites faced, God constantly reassured Joshua and the Israelites that they never fought alone. It didn’t matter if Joshua anticipated the struggle or was shocked; God was steady and sovereign. In more than one instance, Joshua made a mistake, and the Israelites were defeated in battle, yet, God never abandoned Joshua and the Israelites.

The good news is that God has made the same promise to us, too.

You can experience God’s victory over the uncertainty or fears in your life when you remember that God is with you AND for you, no matter what you are facing. You don’t have to be afraid. God has promised that He will not fail or abandon you.

Anjelina Maldonado and her husband, Javier, opened Proximity Church in Orlando in 2015 primarily as an outreach to the “unchurched and prodigals in Florida.”

They placed people in small groups for discipleship, one being an eight-week women’s Bible study using her.BIBLE to listen to the Word of God.

The women, about 20 in all, were captivated the first time they listened to the Book of Ruth.


“To feel your faith being built up by another woman is awesome,” says Anjelina. “From a church with no believers to a body of women being built up is incredible. They never even knew each other and now were connecting over her.BIBLE.”

When Anjelina played the Book of Ruth, it was the first time Ingrid Fernandez, a nurse, had ever heard the story. She drove home that night and, though she was pregnant and had her young son in the back seat, sat in her car to hear the rest of the book.

Ingrid began listening to her.BIBLE during her commute to work. She found inspiration in the stories of women like Esther. “Esther thought she was going to be no one, and she ended up a queen,” Ingrid said.

Ingrid knows that the Word of God would have changed her life no matter what, but hearing it in women’s voices was like “having the right soundtrack to a movie.”

She said, “Like, in Ruth, it’s a female voice and it’s talking about a woman who went and conquered. It’s like saying, I’m just one person, just a nurse, just a woman; but with God, [I] can do anything.”

Ingrid regularly attends Proximity and now so do her husband, Enzo, and children. She dreams of leading a small group to reach her family members who don’t yet know Christ.

Ingrid relates to women who feel like they just don’t have time to sit down and study their Bible.

“Women are always going-going,” Ingrid said. “It makes it challenging. But if they can find a moment in the car to listen, give God the chance — the chance to tell them they’re loved and very valued to him.”

(You can read the full article by Rebecca, “Highlighting Women’s Voices in God’s Story,” in the July 2021 issue of Cru Storylines at https://www.cru.org/storylines/2021/july/highlighting-womens-voices-gods-story.)

Rewind 2,700 years and come with me to the ancient Near East, where good and bad kings rule—as they’ve done for half a millennium—over Israel and Judah. The people blindly and foolishly follow their kings instead of obeying God’s Law. So, God sends Gentile armies to adjust their priorities.


After decades in frightening exile, God’s people finally return to their peaceful land. But once they return, they tragically neglect godly rest and reflection; tolerate religious corruption; turn a blind eye to injustice; pursue greed, and marry those who worship false gods.

“Malachi” means “my messenger.” And indeed, God sends the people a message through a prophet with a three-step legal argument: The plaintiff (God) raises the charge. The defendant (Israel) pleads ignorance. The plaintiff (God) provides evidence of offenses.

The name of God found throughout the book of Malachi—“Lord Sabaoth”—means “the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Repeated multiple times, the name emphasizes the very greatness they are missing in their everyday lives. But in a touch of sad irony, the Almighty says he sees a day when the “nations” will succeed, where his chosen people now lack in following him.

“But my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world, they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. (Mal 1:11)

God’s people then, as today, were called to offer their love to him and be a light to the world—resulting in all the nations knowing, loving, and serving the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

God promised them, “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” (Mal. 4:2)

Four hundred years later, Jesus Christ laid down his life as the perfect sacrifice. And many have sacrificed to tell us his story.

Thank the God of the nations that you are loved and pursued by the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. And go and tell of his love!