July 2016 Archives


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Today's reading: Psalm 103-1-22

Throughout Psalm 103 David tells us about God having "steadfast love."

  • In verse 4, God crowns us with steadfast love.
  • In verse 8, the Lord is abounding in steadfast love
  • Verse 11 shows us that God's steadfast love is exceedingly great.
  • And then in verse 17 David writes, "But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him."

What does God having and showing "steadfast love" mean to you? What's one example of how you have experienced God's steadfast love? Tami

Forget Not

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Today's reading: Psalm 103:1-22

David issues the command to remember (to not forget) all of the benefits we receive as a follower of God. He then lists out a number of those benefits for us--He forgives, heals, redeems, loves, satisfies and renews us. I love David's prompting for us to be intentional about recalling God's goodness and the love and care He has for us as His children. It's an excellent exercise to help us keep our minds focused on God, and that being the case, one that we would be wise to practice often.

If you were making a list of benefits you've experienced as a child of God, what are some of the things you would include on your list? How often do you take time to remember all that God has done for you and thank Him for it? Tami

In God's Hands

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 9:1-6

Solomon continues to drive home the point that living solely for the here and now, rather than living with an eternal mindset, is foolishness. As we start into Ecclesiastes 9, Solomon confirms that God is in control and that He is most certainly aware of and over all things that take place on earth and in our lives. But he also reminds us that choosing to serve and follow God does not mean that God will set us aside to receive special treatment ("the same events happen to the righteous and the wicked (vs. 2)), and that our time on earth is brief, with all having an appointed time to die.

What encouragement or comfort do you draw from knowing that your "deeds are in the hands of God"? How does focusing on God and spending eternity with Him help you when you experience trials, pain, hardship, suffering sorrow? Tami

Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 8:13-17

Try as we might, striving to experience as much as we can and acquire more and more knowledge will never bring us to a full and comprehensive understanding of God or His ways. And while that may be difficult to accept and even frustrate us at times, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. That's because God is...God. He's the creator of all things. He is sovereign, almighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, and most importantly, He has a perfect and all-encompassing plan in place for eternity, of which we are a small part.

How does knowing that God's ways are beyond our full comprehension relate to your faith and trusting in God? What did Solomon's words convey to you about God's control of this world as well as the details of your life? Tami

Well and Right

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 8:10-13

I found myself nodding my head in agreement at Solomon's observations about the sinful desires and actions of people, and how, by appearances, those who choose to do wrong seem to prosper. People are still people, and nothing has changed in several thousand years. We still misuse the power we have for our own pleasure and advantage, we still act dishonestly, we still take shortcuts for financial gain--you name it. But whatever is gained by acting wrongly, is only earthly gain and for a short time. God sees it all and He will make things right in His timing.

"But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God" (vs. 13).

How does knowing that it will "not be well with the wicked" help and encourage you to do what is right when you are tempted to do wrong? What comfort do you draw from this passage? Tami

Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 8:1-9; Romans 13:1

Solomon's wise message for us in Ecclesiastes 8:1-9 is to follow those who God sets in authority over us. "I say: Keep the king's command, because of God's oath to him" (vs. 2). This message of submitting to and following the laws and rules of our respective governments is present throughout the New Testament as well: Jesus telling the Pharisees that we need to pay taxes and "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" (Matthew 22:15-22); Paul's instruction that we must "be subject to governing authorities" (Romans 13:1-7); and Peter's instruction in 1 Peter 2:13-17 to 'Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution..." and to "honor the emperor."

What impact does knowing that our leaders and rulers have been placed in those positions by God (Romans 13:1) have on your attitude, thinking and actions? What are some ways you can (and hopefully already do) honor those who hold government positions-city, county, state, federal? Tami

More on Wisdom

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 7:15-29

It's not uncommon for me to say in a Bible study or a conversation with friend or someone who has asked me about being a Christian, that I sin every day. So when I read verse 20, "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins," it caught my attention. Many times when I make the statement that I am a sinner, I get a strange look and/or the perplexed response "But you're a Christian." I love it when that happens because I then have the opportunity to explain and talk about the fact that although my sins have been forgiven through Christ's death on the cross, I'm still human which means I'm not, and will never be, "sinless" this side of heaven. However, as a follower of Christ, my aim is to grow in my relationship with God, and in so doing, be more aware of my sin and strive to sin less and less each day.

Was there a verse or passage from Ecclesiastes 7:15-29 that stood out to you like verse 20 did to me, and why? What's one thing you learned about wisdom from Solomon today? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 102:1-28

Adversity, suffering, trouble and depression are a few of the words that came to mind as I read through Psalm 102. The psalmist is in distress, and in this emotionally low state is crying out to God. Yet even in his pain-filled condition, the psalmist keeps his eyes on God, drawing comfort by remembering God's sovereignty, eternity and promises.

What does Psalm 102 show about praying in times of adversity? How do you talk with God when you're feeling distressed or experiencing hardship? How does telling God exactly what's on your heart impact your attitude and thinking? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 101:1-8

Psalm 101 gives us a look at a conversation between David and God where David tells God that he is committed to living for Him. But David doesn't just say "I'm going to follow You." Instead, he lays out for God some specific ways in which he is committed to right living. So we see a commitment to sing and make music that praises and honors God, a commitment to guard what David views, a commitment to focus his thoughts on God and honor His ways, a commitment to associate with and learn from upright and good people.

How often do your prayers include telling God specific ways in which you are committed to following Him? Take a few minutes to think about the things you do to ensure you are living rightly, and then talk with God about them. Tami

Today's Focus

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 7:14; Matthew 6:34

Have you ever opened your Bible to a verse that feels like it hits you upside the head? I'm guessing you have, and that was exactly my experience with Ecclesiastes 7:14 today.

"In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him" (Ecclesiastes 7:14, ESV)

My husband and I are in a season of adversity right now, and as I took in verse 14 it was helpful because it provided me with a much needed adjustment to my perspective. Here are the lessons this verse conveyed to me:

  • We will experience both prosperity and adversity
  • God is in control of every circumstance
  • We may not fully understand why we're going through our circumstances
  • It's not for us to know the future
  • We shouldn't take the future for granted
  • Not knowing our future keeps us dependent on God
  • We need to live in and for the present day rather than worrying about tomorrow and what "might be."

Thank you, God, for giving me just the perfect verse to minister to my heart, and refocus my eyes on serving You right where I'm at today!

What did God impress on your heart after reading and considering the words of Ecclesiastes 7:14? How did this verse impact your thinking, attitude and/or focus? Tami

Our Protection

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 7:1-13

The first half of Ecclesiastes 7 reads much like Proverbs, putting before us a variety of pithy statements about wisdom and folly for us to consider. Knowing that God gave Solomon incredible wisdom above and beyond that of any other man, I am always intrigued by his words, instruction and commentary on the subject of wisdom. So as I started through Ecclesiastes 7:1-13 this morning, my prayer was for God to show me something I hadn't noticed about wisdom previously. After noting and writing down a number of verses, God drew my attention back to the message contained in verse 12, that wisdom functions as our protection as we navigate life. This got me thinking about some of those protective benefits--protection from making poor decisions, protection from people who may harm us, protection from situations that aren't safe--and I'm sure there are many more. Ecclesiastes 7:1-13, and specifically verse 12, highlighted for me how possessing wisdom is such a necessary part of living well.

What stood out to you about wisdom from this passage, and why? What's one situation where having wisdom provided protection for you? Tami

Good Use

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 6:1-12

Solomon continues his observations on money and wealth in Ecclesiastes 6, and his remarks contained some good and helpful reminders. First, that everything we have has been given to us by God, and second, that God wants and expects us to use what He has given us for good. When our eyes and hearts are set on God, using our resources to do good--to provide for our family, to help those in need, to spread the Gospel message and disciple others--is a response that comes naturally. But when our eyes are set on earthly treasures (things under the sun) and we obsess over money--being stingy, acting greedily, hoarding our possessions--our efforts and striving are for naught. As Solomon puts it, "This is vanity, it is a grievous evil" (vs. 2).

Do you think of everything you have as coming from God? How are you making use of your God-given resources? What impact does doing good with what God has provided for you have on your outlook, actions and attitude? Tami

Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 5:8-20; 1 Timothy 6:6-10

Solomon turns his full attention to the love and pursuit of money in Ecclesiastes 5:8-20, telling us point blank in verse 10, "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity."

There was a period of time in my life (and, yes, I was a believer) where I would have to say that my passion was about having money, and my thoughts and actions were very much consumed by it. But getting more money never brought me lasting satisfaction. Regardless of how much money I was making or how much money my husband and I had in the bank, I was constantly thinking about how I/we could get more. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was exhausting. Solomon touches on this aspect of chasing after money too, "the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep" (vs. 12). I'm not entirely sure when it happened, but I am thankful that God changed my heart with regard to money. It's still a temptation, but He continues to help me see that true and lasting satisfaction is only found in serving and living for Him.

What's your personal experience been with "loving" money? How would you describe the impact of "the love of money" to someone else? What helps you keep a balanced and proper perspective about making and having money? Tami

Less Is Better

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

As we move into Ecclesiastes 5, Solomon gives us wise instruction about restraining our words.

  • Don't be hasty or careless with your mouth (vs. 2)
  • Keep you words to a minimum (vs. 2)
  • A foolish person uses many words (vs. 3)
  • Don't let your mouth cause you to sin (vs. 6)

All good reminders of how what comes out of our mouths can and will get us into trouble if we're not conscious and intentional about the words we speak.

What helps you be mindful of and guard the words that come out of your mouth? In what circumstances do you find it more difficult to curb your words? What's one example from your life when you chose to use less words and your decision made the situation better? Tami


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Today's reading: Psalm 100:3-5

Psalm 100:3 is one of my favorite verses in the psalms because of the message it conveys and the visual it provides us of God being our shepherd and us being His sheep.

"Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his, we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture."

What does Psalm 100 convey about God's character? What does verse 3 reveal about God's love and care for us? Tami

Your Serve

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Today's reading: Psalm 100:1-2

At the beginning of Psalm 100, we're issued the call to "serve the Lord with gladness," with examples of making a joyful noise and singing. But serving with gladness can be demonstrated in many other ways as well--having a grateful heart, a loving attitude, helping others, speaking encouraging words--and the list goes on and on.

On a typical day, what does you serving the Lord with gladness look like? What's one thing you can do this week to step up your glad serving? Tami

Open Minded

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 4:13-16; Proverbs 12:15

Solomon's message in both Ecclesiastes and Proverbs makes it clear that no matter what our age, status, education, financial condition--we need to remain open to receiving advice. And when you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. Yet, as I observe people and consider my own behavior, all too often we're closed minded. We let our pride and our comfort zones get in the way of receiving advice that might be the exact thing we need to help us live better and more fully. One of the things I tell myself often is that if I'm still breathing, there's room for improvement, which means I need to be open to new ideas, new methods, new people, new things in general.

How often do you seek advice regarding family, work and/or spiritual matters? In what areas are you more likely to be open to advice? What about less likely? How do today's verses build on Solomon's message in verse 9 that "two are better than one"? Tami

Strong Together

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I LOVE people! And, that computes to craving face time with others--so much so that when I'm alone for even a part of day, my energy level drops and I can even start feeling a little depressed. That being the case, Solomon's words about "two being better than one" resonate big time with me. (Now before I go on, I do realize that we all need alone times so we can refuel and recharge spiritually, emotionally and physically. I also realize that I'm an over the top extrovert, so a lot of folks don't crave as much people interaction as I do.) But, no matter if you classify yourself as a people loving extrovert or a more reserved introvert, God designed you (and me) to be relational. He created us to be in relationship with Him, and He wants us to be in relationship with other Christ-followers. God's plan is for us to work and function at our best when we're interacting, supporting and serving God together.

How have you experienced "two being better than one" in your personal and spiritual life? Who "lifts you up" when you're struggling? Are you intentional about walking alongside other believers---which allows you to both receive support and give it to others? Tami

Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 4:4-8

Solomon touches on the strong pull of money and our propensity to want more and envy what other people have in Ecclesiastes 4:4-8. His words are spot-on. I found myself nodding my head in agreement as I took in his candid and wise observations. I was drawn to the phrase "his eyes are never satisfied with riches" (vs. 8).

What's your experience been when it comes to your "eyes never being satisfied with riches"? What helps you keep a proper perspective about money and possessions? Tami

Good Power

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

All of us possess personal power, and with that power we are constantly influencing those around us--our family, friends, co-workers. Power can be intoxicating, and the temptation to misuse our power to dominate and oppress others is strong. Thankfully, with God as our guide, we can overcome this temptation and use the power God has given us wisely and well.

How are you using the power you possess? Is it your goal to use what power you have for good? Are you grieved when you observe injustice? How often do you help others who aren't in a position of power and are in need? Tami

Our Lot

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 3:16-22

As I took in and considered the last few verses of Ecclesiastes 3, our sinful human nature and the resulting imperfect, evil environment we live in here on earth, stood out to me. Solomon's observations and declarations continue to show us the detrimental effects of choosing to live apart from God--justice is perverted, doing what's right isn't upheld, the way we think about ourselves and what we believe about life is distorted. Living for self is foolish and meaningless. That being the case, Solomon once again issues the call to keep our eyes fixed on God and eternity as we diligently and joyfully work at what God has given us to do.

What did Solomon's remarks reveal about what we should expect to encounter as we live out our lives on earth? What did this passage convey to you about living for "self"? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 97:1-12

Woven throughout Psalm 97 are a number of phrases and references to God being righteous. Verse 2 tells us that "righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne," and then in verse 6 we see "The heavens proclaim his righteousness..." What a comfort to know that God's foundation--His core and substance--is good, upright and just.

What encouragement and/or comfort did you draw from Psalm 97? What do verses 2 and 6 reveal about God's view of, and how He values, doing right? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 97:1-12

The incredible power, strength and might of God immediately came across to me as I began reading Psalm 97. Literally every verse contained at least one description or piece of information about God. Psalm 97 focused my attention on God's greatness. I definitely came away from my reading with a more complete picture of the incredible God we serve.

Take a couple of minutes and list out what you saw or learned about God from Psalm 97. Other than great and mighty, what are some words that you would use to describe God based on this psalm? Tami

Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

Although Solomon's approach in Ecclesiastes can come across as a tad melancholy, the underlying message--of making life meaningful and joyful by having and keeping an eternal focus--is absolutely positive. And when we look more closely, there are smaller positive instructions and lessons tucked in throughout the Book. One of those lessons stood out to me today. Here it is. That God expects us to do good for those around us, and in turn, wants us to enjoy and take pleasure in what He has provided for us as we live for Him.

As I look back over my life, doing good for others is something that I have always enjoyed. But it took some time for me (actually for my husband and me) to get completely comfortable with allowing ourselves to enjoy and take pleasure in what God had provided. That's because our perspective, and thus our focus, was in the wrong place. We were concerned about storing up our funds for our earthly future rather than using some of our God-given resources (God's gift) to enjoy the present, to build and grow our marriage, to spend time with and create special memories with our family. It took my husband battling cancer for us to realize exactly what Solomon addresses in Ecclesiastes--that our life is fleeting, it's ever changing and that seeking after earthly rather than eternal benefits is meaningless. It's now our practice to make sure we regularly set aside time and use some of our resources to enjoy God's gift to us.

"I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil--this is God's gift to man" (vs. 12-13).

When was the last you set aside time and resources to enjoy the gifts that God has given you? Tami


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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

When I hear the word "season," I think about nature and the framework of constant change we have with the seasons that come and go year after year--spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter, winter to spring, and so on and so on. Life has its seasons as well, which is exactly the point Solomon makes when he writes about there being "a time for every matter under heaven." (vs. 1).

My favorite season is summer. So if I had my way about things, it would be summer perpetually. But I am not in control of the seasons, nor am I in control of my life. That's God's job. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 makes it clear that God is the sovereign master planner and that He is constantly moving us forward through many differing seasons--some painful, others joy-filled-but all with the purpose of growing us to be more like Christ, and in so doing, drawing us closer to Him. I am thankful for Solomon's wise words and the reminder they provide that we should be prepared for and expecting many different seasons in our lives, and that our dependence must be on God through them all.

How does knowing that life is made up of different "seasons" impact your thinking about your current "season"? How often do you think about the fact that everything that happens in your life is part of God's plan? What influence does this have on your outlook, planning and attitude about what's to come? Tami

Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 2:18-26

As we come to the close of Ecclesiastes 2, Solomon turns his thoughts and attention to our work or "toils." As he has with all other areas (wisdom, self-indulgence, wise living), he concludes that the work we do and strive after that is apart from God or "under the sun," is pointless, empty and vanity.

I have lived and experienced Solomon's message. You see, I am a striver. People often describe me as being "driven" or having an over achiever mindset. And while there's nothing wrong with being motivated to achieve, we need to make sure we're striving for the right things--things of God. While I can say that's the case for me now, there were a lot of years where my "toil" was dedicated to gaining more earthly things. In other words, my goal was to gain and accumulate all sorts of things "under the sun." But as I attained more and more--money, things, status--I never felt fully satisfied. So within short order, I was once again, off and running and working hard to get the next "thing" I thought I needed and that I had convinced myself would, this time, bring me happiness. After quite a few years of chasing "after the wind" as Solomon would say, God used some hard circumstances to get my attention and show me that true satisfaction is only found in Him. So as I write today, I join with Solomon in saying that toiling after those things that are "under the sun" is indeed empty, pointless and vanity.

(That's not to say that I don't still struggle with wanting stuff and even veering off to do a little futile chasing now and then. But unlike in years prior, I know with all my heart that God has to be my focus, and as a result, my detours are now shorter, fewer and farther between. Growing spiritually is a never ending journey for sure.)

What's something you've worked for that you thought you had to have and that you believed would bring you great happiness, and then when you got it, you experienced fleeting or little satisfaction? As you go about your daily work and activities, is your mindset one of working for God? How does having a mindset of doing all for the glory of God influence your attitude and actions? Tami

Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 2:12-17

After concluding that living with the goal of indulging yourself and partaking of whatever you desire is vanity, Solomon then turns to considering living wisely. The message he delivers is heavy--regardless of whether we live wisely or foolishly, we all have an appointment with death and the cycle of life on earth goes on without us. So, once again, Solomon shows us the futility or pointlessness of living our lives apart from God and without a spiritual and eternal mindset.

Is it your practice to start each day by focusing your mind on God and eternity? How does having an eternal mindset influence your day-to-day living and decisions? Tami


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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

You don't have to look far (turn on the television, look online, pick up a magazine), or really expend any effort at all, to be bombarded with the message that having money and material possessions is what gives you value and meaning and brings you happiness. That's the message of the world, and boy, does it sound appealing. But Solomon tested this message and we see his conclusion in Ecclesiastes 2. Solomon was the wealthiest and wisest person and set his heart to experience every kind of worldly pleasure. Solomon tells us that he didn't restrain himself from any pleasure his eyes saw. But although he enjoyed the things he did and acquired, his enjoyment was only temporary.

"Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun." (vs. 11).

Have you had the same experience as Solomon--setting your heart on something, even enjoying it, but the satisfaction you enjoy is only for a short time? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 96:1-13

The very first verse of Psalm 95 urges us to sing a "new" song to the Lord. What a great reminder that our relationship with God is active, and that we not only have the freedom to be creative and spontaneous with God, but that God enjoys it when are. If you think about it, it's not too difficult for us to fall into a spiritual rut--our praise, worship and interactions with God become routine, even mundane, because we've gotten into the habit of doing and saying the same things because it's what we know and what feels comfortable. So I'm inviting you to join me in embracing this call to try something new as you interact with God this week.

What might singing a "new" song to the Lord mean for you personally? What's one thing you can do to interact with God in a fresh way this week (pray in a different spot, add some new worship songs to your playlist, talk out loud with God, change up what you're doing as you spending time in God's Word, etc.)? Tami

Today's reading: Psalm 95:1-11

Psalm 95 issues a clear call to recognize God as being our God through songs of praise and worshiping before Him. But the closing verses of this psalm go a little further, letting us see that God takes pleasure in our praising, worshipping and seeking after Him.

How often do you think about your praise and worship being something that pleases God? How will you please God with your praise and worship this weekend? Tami

Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 1:12-18

After beginning Ecclesiastes with a general proclamation that life apart from God is vanity or foolishness, Solomon then shifts his approach to a specific example--that of pursuing earthly wisdom. Being the wisest man to ever live, this is a subject that is near and dear to his heart. And since Solomon is the king, he literally has every resource at his fingertips to allow him to fully pursue wisdom in most any conceivable area. Solomon tells us in verse 13, "I have applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven." Yet at the end of his experiment, Solomon's conclusion remains the same, that dedicating our lives to acquiring earthly knowledge is vanity and a striving after wind. So once again, he drives home the importance of living for God and having a spiritual mindset, and in this case, the absolute value of spiritual wisdom and the need for us to be pursuing it to enhance our earthly knowledge and bring us joy.

In your personal experience, have you seen a difference between earthly and spiritual wisdom? What's one example? Why is it important to pursue both earthly and spiritual wisdom? 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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About this Archive

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

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