June 2016 Archives

Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

Today we begin our trek through Ecclesiastes. King Solomon, King David's son and the wisest man to ever live, is the author of this Book, which delivers a strong message on meaningful living. Solomon is, no doubt, a deep-thinker, and that comes across right away as we start into chapter 1. His approach is a little different in that he presents us with the a picture of what living apart from God looks like (vanity, pointless, worthless and empty) in order to highlight the opposite-the importance of having an eternal mindset and focus as we live out the days God has given us here on earth.

How has reading about and considering the constant and monotonous routine of earthly life impacted your thinking today? What did Solomon's words convey to you about the importance of eternal-minded living? In what or where are you placing your focus, hope and expectations? Tami

Today's reading: Esther 1-10

I hope you enjoyed reading through the Book of Esther and learning about how God used Esther and Mordecai to save the Jews. It is a story that is rich in details and history, but also rich in lessons we can learn from the different characters in the account--King Ahasuerus, Haman, Esther, Mordecai, even the eunuchs.

For our final day in Esther, take a few minutes to think back over the entire Book with the goal of identifying one lesson from each of the main characters. What did you learn from the examples (good or bad) of Ahasuerus, Haman, Esther and Mordecai? What was the most significant lesson God impressed on your heart from the Book of Esther, and why? Tami

P.S. We'll be heading over to the intriguing Book of Ecclesiastes tomorrow. So plan to join me as we begin the journey through its chapters which were penned by the wisest man to ever live, Solomon.

Today's reading: Esther 10:1-3

The Book of Esther concludes with comments about Mordecai. And when you look back at this Book, Mordecai is as much a key player in saving the Jews as Esther. It was Mordecai that sent the message to Esther telling her that perhaps she had been chosen as queen "for such a time as this." And as I thought about this story, those same words applied to Mordecai as well because God had also placed him right where he was at this time and for the specific purpose of saving the Jews. Neither Esther or Mordecai had any idea that they were going to be used by God in such a significant way--yet, they were ready and willing to take action for God. What a good reminder and lesson for each of us today.

Are you ready should God ask you to move and do something out of the ordinary for Him today? Take a minute to think about your personal "for such a time as this." How are you serving (or can you serve) God in your unique situation or circumstances? Tami

Remembering

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Today's reading: Esther 9:19-32

After the Jews were allowed to defend themselves and get relief from their enemies, they came together for "a day for gladness and feasting, as a holiday" (vs. 19). Shortly after this, Mordecai records all the events that took place surrounding the Jews and sends letters throughout the kingdom instituting and establishing this celebration, which came to be called the Feast of Purim.

I always find this passage interesting because I've had the opportunity to be in Israel and observe Jewish families celebrating Purim. It's a family affair with the children dressing up as the characters in the story--little girls as Queen Esther, boys as Mordecai or King Ahasuerus--and from what I could gather, the fellowshipping around food is also involved. So Purim is still being observed thousands of years after God used Esther and Mordecai to save the Jewish people. I love this because the account of God's provision and love for His people is being remembered, retold and passed on year after year.

What are some of your spiritual landmarks? Is it your practice to look back and remember how God has provided and moved on your behalf? How are you passing on the message of God's goodness to the next generation? Tami

Just God

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Today's reading: Psalm 94:1-23

The words being lifted to God by the psalmist in Psalm 94 drew me in and spoke to my heart. The psalmist is upset and troubled by the sin and unjust behaviors he is observing and experiencing. So he cries out to God, pointing out the injustices taking place. He next offers a warning message to those around him, reminding them about who God is, and then concludes with a personal recognizing and praising of God for being his strength during these difficult times as he waits for God to move.

Is your heart grieved when you see people rejecting God and turning away from His instruction? Does what you see in the world around you motivate you to tell others about Christ? How is God your help and stronghold as you live in a world that isn't following God? Tami

God Is

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Today's reading: Psalm 93:1-5

Psalm 93 gives us a beautiful depiction of God. God is:

  • In control
  • Strong
  • Everlasting
  • Mighty
  • Trustworthy
  • Holy

Thank you, God, for reminding me that You are all we need, and that we can stand firm when we have the God who controls the universe on our side!

What comfort do you draw from knowing that God is, and has been, established forever? What stood out to you the most about God from this psalm, and why? Tami

Family Matters

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Today's reading: Esther 8:1-17

One of the things I like about the Book of Esther is the up close and personal look at a number of different relationships it provides. And because God created us to be relational, taking time to consider the relationships in Esther--family, marriage, business/work, friendship--can give us insight to help us as we navigate the relationships in our own lives.

Family is prominent throughout Esther, but the message of family caring for, protecting and loving one another came across especially loud and clear for me today. Even though Esther was taken away from Mordecai and then elevated to the position of queen, she found a way to maintain their relationship despite the fact that she couldn't talk with him face-to-face. And the fact that Esther was queen didn't go to her head. Mordecai was precious to her and she continued to look to him for counsel and advice, and promoted him when the opportunity presented itself.

Modecai, likewise, loved and treasured Esther. As a result, he was painstakingly diligent about keeping his relationship with her intact. Mordecai kept tabs on Esther and did whatever he could for her from outside the palace. "Thank you, God, for giving us the Book of Esther and the picture it provides of a healthy family relationship where You are the foundation."

What did you notice from Esther 8, as well as prior chapters, about family? What does Esther 1-8 (and really the Bible as a whole) show us about the importance of family to God, as well as His desire for us to love and care for one another? Tami

Made Right

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Today's reading: Esther 7:7-8:17

By the conclusion of Esther's second meal with the king, Haman's evil plot to kill the Jews is fully exposed and swift justice is rendered against Haman by order of King Ahasuerus. Haman is hung from the very gallows his pride had caused him to build for the public execution of Mordecai. The events of this day and what follows are quite amazing, with wrongs being righted in a relatively short time. Under the direction of Mordecai, a new edict is written which turns the tables for the Jews. They are no longer the hunted but are now empowered to go on the offensive to protect and defend themselves and their families from anyone who intended to do them harm.

The events that play out in Esther 7-8, drove home for me how God is our righteous and just protector. I am thankful for this reminder because we can lose sight of this fact and start to question God's goodness when wrong or bad things that happen to us aren't righted in our desired time frame. Throughout the Bible we are repeatedly shown and told that God is a God of justice and that He will make things right--in His time.

What encouragement does God righting the sinful acts of Haman bring you today? What are some things that help you stay positive and focused on God's goodness as you wait on His timing? Tami

God-led Reveal

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Today's reading: Esther 7:1-6

We're now to Esther's second meal and the final piece of her plan to reveal Haman's evil plot to King Ahasuerus and seek his favor and help. Esther's "for such a time as this" moment has arrived and, with God has her protector and guide, she handles herself and the situation well. Showing wisdom beyond her years, she keeps her emotions in check as she humbly presents her request to the king, taking care to be accurate and factual with what she says. As I thought about this precarious situation, God's presence, leading and guiding of Esther's every word and action were absolutely evident.

How has God calmed your heart and led you when you've faced a "mountain" situation? Is reaching out to God for His leading your default response--when you encounter difficulty AND when things are going well? Tami

God's Ways

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Today's reading: Esther 6:1-13

I had intended to continue looking at Haman as we moved into Esther 6, but immediately as I began reading, my attention was drawn in another direction. The first couple of sentences of this chapter brought God and the unique ways He moves to my mind. I literally smiled when I read about Ahasuerus not being able to sleep and then having the book of chronicles read to him in the middle of the night. Here's why. Over the last few months God has been waking me up many nights, and when I wake up, someone or something is on my mind that needs prayed for. Sometimes it doesn't make sense to me, but then a day or so after the fact God will show me why He woke me up so I could pray. I love it. I now consider God waking me up to pray as part of my nightly routine.

What did this passage show you about God--the ways in which He works, whom He chooses to work through and use, the breadth and comprehensiveness of His plan, something else? Take some time thinking about this because there is quite a bit we can learn from this chapter. Tami

Positive To God

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Today's reading: Psalm 92:1-15

Psalm 92 begins with a call for us to give thanks and to sing praises to God which is always a welcome request for me, and particularly appropriate for a Sunday morning. So along with the psalmist, I encourage you to be intentional about praising God and telling Him what you're thankful for today.

Is thanking God and praising Him for His love and faithfulness something you do regularly? Why is this important? How does praising God effect your attitude and thinking? What impact does it have on your relationship with God? Tami

Rooted

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The closing verses of Psalm 92 describe beautifully what our lives can and should look like as we live for God. The words put forth by the psalmist are so rich and expressive that I was able to immediately visualize and imagine myself as one of these healthy, flourishing trees. My heart was particularly drawn to the words of verses 13-14.

"They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green.."

As I considered this illustration and what it represents, some of the words that came to my mind were: healthy, thriving, active, producing and growing. What an encouragement to know that God wants and expects us to actively serve Him all the days of our life.

Take a few minutes to read back through and consider verses 12-15. What do these verses mean for you personally? What does being "planted in the house of the Lord" convey to you? What encouragement did you draw from verse 14 regarding bearing fruit and being "ever full of sap and green"? Tami

All That

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Today's reading: Esther 5:9-14; Proverbs 8:13

Haman provides us with a detailed picture of being prideful in Esther 5:9-14. There's no missing that he was completely consumed with himself. When I read verses 11-12 where Haman is telling his friends and his wife how important and special he is, I found myself thinking "He sure thinks he's 'all that.'" Haman is so full of himself that he can't tolerate that Mordecai isn't impressed with who he is, or fearful about not worshipping him for his greatness. So in this self-focused, self-worshipping state of mind, Haman's pride gets the best of him, driving him to put a plan in motion for Mordecai's public execution. But as we'll see when we get to Esther 6, Haman's pride proves to be his downfall.

None of us are immune to pride. In fact, pride seems to come quite naturally to us (and I am speaking from experience). So while it's easy for us to shake our heads and point our fingers at Haman, if we're honest, we're all capable of thinking and acting just like him because we're imperfect humans with a sinful nature. But pride doesn't have to be part of our life because we have God and we can overcome with His help!

In the past, how has pride impacted your thinking and actions? What helps you combat prideful thoughts when you recognize them? What did you notice or learn from this passage about the dangers and the blinding effect of pride? Tami

Wise In Planning

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Today's reading: Esther 5:1-8

I spent a good bit of time this morning considering the way Esther chose to handle the crisis situation she encountered. The big thing that stood out to me was that Esther was a planner. Rather than reacting emotionally and drawing on her own strength when she finds out about the king's edict, she considers the situation and turns to God for guidance, and the result is a God-directed plan that saves the Jews from annihilation.

Esther's God-directed plan begins to unfold in verses 1-8, and although we only see a small portion of the plan at this point, there are plenty of lessons and examples for us to draw on in these verses. Here are a couple of things that caught my attention--that once Esther's fasting was complete she took immediate action with her plan, and that she kept her emotions in check so that there was no drama. Now there were a bunch of other things I noticed about Esther's plan (I actually made a list and it ended up being pretty lengthy) but I'm not going to list them all so that you can discover even more.

What did you notice or learn from Esther's example that you might use the next time you need to navigate a difficult situation? What one wise thing really stood out to you that Esther did, or didn't do, in this touchy and dangerous situation? Tami

Today's reading: Esther 4:1-17

Yesterday we looked at and considered Mordecai's thinking and actions in a crisis situation. But Esther 4 also gives us a look at how Esther processed and responded when she learned about the king's edict. When Esther hears about the king's order, she immediately considers the facts--that Ahasuerus has issued a deadly edict and that there is a law in place that prohibits her from approaching the king--and comes to the "human" conclusion that there isn't anything she can do in this situation. But Mordecai knows that God is in control and believes that Esther can impact the situation. So he boldly sends back the thought provoking and challenging message that perhaps God has placed Esther in the palace for "such a time as this." Mordecai's message causes Esther to reassess the situation. With a changed perspective, she steps up to take what action she can in this crisis situation.

What does the relationship between Mordecai and Esther demonstrate about the importance of having close relationships with other believers? How have you been helped by a Christian support system--mentors, friends, prayer partners, Bible study group--when you've gone through trials and hardship? Tami

Today's reading: Esther 4:1-17

Encountering and dealing with crisis is part of life. It's not enjoyable, but it happens. And when serious and unexpected circumstances present themselves, emotions and feelings like fear, uncertainty, anxiety and worry can consume and cripple us if we're not careful.

Mordecai and the Jews living in Persia are facing an extreme crisis-a literal death sentence as the result of the edict signed by King Ahasuerus at Haman's urging. At first glance the situation appears hopeless. But even though Mordecai is distressed-tearing his clothes, putting on sack cloth and crying out to God--he doesn't allow those things to consume him. Instead, Mordecai draws strength from God and pushes through this grave situation to take what action he can to help save his people.

How do you tend to respond when a crisis situation arises? Is it your habit to cry out to God and seek His guidance? What does Mordecai's example show us about being an active participant in God's plan? When we encounter difficulty, how does getting involved and looking for solutions to our situation positively impact our thinking and emotions? Tami

Weak Leading

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Today's reading: Esther 3:7-15

Haman's vengeful scheming against the Jews takes on structure and form as we move further into Esther 3. But Haman's evil plan of annihilation wasn't what drew my attention today. Instead, it was King Ahasuerus and his poor leadership example. The information Haman tells the king about the Jews is a lie, and Haman's suggestion to wipe out an entire race of people is horrific and evil. Yet, we don't see even one searching follow up question, nor do we see any objections, from Ahasuerus about taking such deadly action. Instead, Ahasuerus blindly accepts Haman's representation and then issues an edict approving the slaughter of every Jew residing in the kingdom.

Ahasuerus was not a good or responsible leader in this situation. His actions highlighted a lack of care for those under his rule, that he wasn't fully engaged in his role as king, and that discernment was not an area of strength for him. King Ahasuerus' actions in Esther 3 certainly provide us with a lesson on leadership, but from the negative or "how not to lead" perspective.

What did you learn or notice about making decisions and leading from Ahasuerus? Why is it important that we be cautious in choosing advisors, counselors and friends? Tami

Intimate Love

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Today's reading: Psalm 91:1-16

While the words of Psalm 91 deliver a message of comfort and security, they also put before us an incredible picture of a mighty and powerful God who adores and cares for His children. So I encourage you to spend some more time in Psalm 91 today. Read through this beautiful song again, this time looking purposefully at what it shows you about God.

What does this psalm reveal about God's love? What does it communicate about the personal nature of God and His desire to be in relationship with us? Tami

Protector God

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Psalm 91 is such a beautiful description of God's provision and protection. I was drawn to verses 3-6 today. So often when we encounter difficulty--we've been slugging through a painful situation, we receive unexpected bad news--fear presses in and takes over. What a comfort it is to know that He will deliver and cover us. And because God is our refuge, we are secure and can stand strong as the storms of life rage around us.

What comfort do you draw from this psalm? Was there a particular verse that moved your heart? How has God calmed your fears in times of difficulty? Tami

Fueled By Pride

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Today's reading: Esther 3:1-6

After Esther is chosen as the new queen, King Ahasuerus elevates Haman, one of his leaders, to be second in command over the kingdom. As part of Haman's promotion, the king issues the command that those in his service bow down and pay homage to (worship) Haman. As a Jew and a follower of God, Mordecai cannot in good conscience take part in this worship. When Haman becomes aware of Mordecai's actions (actually his inaction in bowing down), he is furious. In this enraged state of mind, Haman's anger quickly turns to hatred and his seeking to destroy ALL the Jews residing in the kingdom.

How does pride influence our thinking, and ultimately our actions? In your experience, why is being prideful so dangerous? What does Haman's example show us about the relationship between pride and anger? Tami

Mordecai

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Today's reading: Esther 2:5-11 and 19-23

Esther 2 also introduces us to Mordecai, a relative who stepped in to take care of and raise young Esther after the death of her parents. From the information we're given, Mordecai fits the bill of being what I would call a "good man" on pretty much every front. While we don't have an abundance of information on him, the few verses and details we are given are telling. His example is one we can all strive to follow.

How would you describe Mordecai based on the descriptions and details contained in Esther 2? What lessons--family, adoption and/or parenting--did you see from his example? What one thing stood out to you the most about Mordecai? Tami

Today's reading: Esther 2:1-18

Yesterday we met Esther and familiarized ourselves with this pretty amazing young woman. But before shifting our focus to another key player in this Book, Mordecai (who we'll look at tomorrow), I thought it would be a good use of our time to spend one more day on Esther. There were a number of things that stood out to me about Esther, but one particular thing caught my attention the first time I read through this chapter and kept drawing my attention each of the several times I read the passage over. In verse 15 we see these words about Esther when it was her turn to go to the king.

"When the turn came for Esther...to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king's eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised."

For me, this verse revealed that Esther was mature beyond her years. She fully understood that she was in a foreign environment and needed help. How wise that rather than devising her own plan--full of beautiful, glitzy clothing, professionally applied makeup and perhaps some pre-planned witty conversation to attract the king-she relied on her caretaker, Hegai, to guide and direct her. Esther kept her eyes on God. She didn't allow herself to get caught up in what was taking place around her, and as a result, her humble, authentic and obedient heart shined through for all to observe.

Why is being open to teaching and advice from others important? Is it your practice to look for opportunities to learn from others? What role does humility play in being teachable? Tami

Taken

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Today's reading: Esther 2:1-18

And so the journey begins for Esther as we move into Esther 2. King Ahasuerus is now in search of a new queen, and as a result of the king's order, a very young Esther is taken into the king's harem as part of the selection process. Every time I read this account, I cringe. It's hard to imagine being thrust into such a situation. But each time I read it, I'm also struck by the extraordinary way Esther (who was likely in her early teens) handled herself in a foreign environment and incredibly difficult situation. There are quite a number of lessons we can learn from this God-fearing young lady.

What did you notice about Esther-appearance, status, family situation, virtues, attitude, character--from this passage? What's one lesson that stood out to you from Esther's example about coping with and responding to unexpected and difficult circumstances? Tami

In Anger

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Today's reading: Esther 1:10-2:1; Psalm 4:4; Ephesians 4:26-27

Before we move on to finally get our introduction to the actual woman, Esther, we're going to spend one more day in Esther 1 looking at yet another lesson included within this story--a lesson about anger.

In his intoxicated state, King Ahasuerus becomes angry when Vashti refuses to comply with his command to come before him and his male guests. Verse 12 tells us, "At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him." So from the sounds of it, Ahasuerus is more than a little miffed. He's consumed with anger! And in this emotionally unstable state (and remember, he was also intoxicated) he launches into action with the result being that Vashti, his beautiful and cherished wife, is banished from his presence forever. Reacting in anger made a bad situation even worse.

What are the dangers of responding to someone or reacting to a situation when we're angry? How do you fulfill the command to "be angry and do not sin"? What are some things that help you respond appropriately when you get angry? Tami

About God

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Today's reading: Psalm 90:1-17

We're going to spend one more day looking at Psalm 90 because it is rich with information about God. Yesterday we looked at and considered how Moses approached and spoke with God. Today we want to learn more about God, drawing from Moses' words. There are quite a few details woven throughout this psalm but the first half of the prayer, where Moses is telling and recalling to God what he knows about God, is especially rich.

What did you notice or learn about God from Moses' prayer? Was there a specific phrase or verse that drew your attention, and why? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 90:1-17

Psalm 90 is a prayer by Moses, a man who had an exceptionally personal and close relationship with God. So what a privilege to see an example of how this great and godly man approached God in prayer. One of the things I notice right away is that the first half of this prayer is Moses recognizing God for who He is--all powerful, all knowing, loving, not being bound by human time, being present at all times. It's only after telling God what Moses knows about Him that Moses turns to his requests for God to satisfy the people with His constant and steadfast love, and for God to let His favor be upon them.

How does telling God what you know about Him help you get perspective? What impact does praising God as part of your prayers have on your attitude, and ultimately how and what you communicate with God? Tami

Today's reading: Esther 1:10-22

One of the things I enjoy about the Bible is how we get the benefit of seeing God's history. In other words, through the accounts of real people, events and situations, we get to see God--how He works, what pleases and displeases Him, His love and care for people. So when I read an historical account like that of Esther, it excites me because I know there is much to learn about God in and through the story.

The fact that God has a master plan and is at work in and through all situations, stood out to me as I thought about King Ahasuerus' feast and his actions in commanding Queen Vashti to come and parade in front of him and the male guests he was entertaining. In this culture at this time in history, women and men did not socialize together. So for King Ahasuerus to command Vashti to join the men and display herself in front of them was absolutely an inappropriate request. Ahasuerus was intoxicated. He wasn't thinking clearly and his request was out of line. He was more interested in himself and impressing his royal friends than in being a good husband and taking care of and protecting his wife from the lustful eyes of other men. Yet, God used and worked through the king's poor judgment and actions to clear the way for Esther to become the new queen.

What do the events in Esther 1 reveal about God being in control, God having a plan, and God's use of people and circumstances for His purposes? How have you seen God work in unconventional ways? Tami

Today's reading: Esther 1:1-22

The Book of Esther records the fascinating account of a young Jewish girl whose actions literally save the Jewish people from annihilation. I never tire of reading this story or looking for the numerous life lessons it contains. That being the case, for the next couple of weeks we're going to read through and consider what we can learn from this Book, looking not only at Esther, but also at some of the other individuals who were key players in this account.

The first chapter of Esther gives us quite a bit of information, mostly about King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes, depending on what version of the Bible you're reading) and Queen Vashti, the reigning officials of the Persian Empire where this account takes place. This chapter sets the background and gives us context for the rest of the story. So we won't be meeting Esther until we reach Chapter 2.

Day 1 assignment: Read Esther 1:1-22 looking for details-where the account takes place, the political situation, who is in control, identifying key people, determining what is taking place at this specific time, etc. Make a list or highlight things in your Bible as needed. Then, take a couple of minutes to focus in on King Ahasuerus. What does this chapter show us about the king? What lesson(s) did these verses reveal about money, wealth and/or pride?

Final Reminder

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Today's reading: Galatians 6:11-18

Paul is thorough. I have to give him that. As he closes out his letter to the Galatians, he again reminds them of the primary reason for his writing--to correct their thinking about salvation. So as he concludes, Paul clearly communicates, yet again, that salvation comes through faith in Christ, not keeping a set of rules and regulations.

"For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" (vs. 15).

What does placing your faith in Christ and becoming "a new creation" mean for you personally? How would you explain salvation (being a new creation) to someone who thinks following rules and "being a good person" is what's required for them to go to heaven? Tami

About Me

Hi, my name is Tami Weissert, the P4 facilitator and the "voice" behind the blogs. I'm passionate about helping people grow spiritually and actively encourage Bible engagement through conference speaking and writing. I also served as co-host of the Back to the Bible radio program for over 8 years. A little about me. I'm married to Jeff, and we love scuba diving, playing with our 3 dachshunds and going to Husker football games. I also love growing orchids, singing and Diet Pepsi. I hope you'll join in the conversation as we read the Bible and grow together.

About My Blog

I'm passionate about engaging God's Word! And my blog is about just that--giving you opportunities to receive, reflect on and respond to Scripture. Each day you'll find a short passage as well as thoughts, challenges and application questions for you to think about and respond to. I look forward to interacting with you and learning together, so post comments as often as you'd like. You can even sign up to get the blogs delivered to your inbox each day!

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This page is an archive of entries from June 2016 listed from newest to oldest.

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