June 2018 Archives

Today's reading: Psalm 103:1-22

David issues the directive to "bless" or praise the Lord in Psalm 103. In verse 2 he states,

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."

He then goes on to list out the benefits we receive as followers of God--He forgives, heals, redeems, loves, satisfies and renews us. Being intentional about recalling God's goodness and His love and care for us as His children is an excellent way to keep our minds focused on God. As such, we would be wise to make "blessing" the Lord a regular part of our daily lives.

Is it your practice to "bless" or praise the Lord, both privately and publically? If you were making a list of the benefits you've experienced as a child of God, what would you 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

Others-focused

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 23:1-14

Even as he is running for his life and his circumstances are tumultuous, David is concerned about the welfare of others. So when he receives word that the city of Keilah is being attacked and raided by the Philistines, his immediate response is to help. He absolutely knows that taking this action will likely put him and his men at risk, but after seeking God's direction and receiving a thumbs up response, he willingly and quickly moves into action.

This passage provides a good reminder that one of the best things we can do when we're stressed and struggling is to help others in need. Why? Because it takes our focus off of ourselves--just as the Bible says (see Philippians 2:1-7). Serving others has a calming and healing effect on us.

When was the last time you reached out to help someone else? When you've taken action to help someone in need, how has it impacted your attitude, thinking and demeanor? Who do you know (in your neighborhood, at church, at work or at school) who needs help? Let's focus on people around us in need this week, and then take action! Tami

Me First

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 22:1-23

Saul's obsession with hunting down and killing David climbs to a new level in 1 Samuel 22. What's recorded in this chapter is truly a sad and tragic account. Both Saul and Saul's servant, Doeg the Edomite, provide us with a picture of just how sinful we can be when we're consumed with putting ourselves first. This is especially demonstrated by Doeg.

Doeg's only interest is himself. So he uses the information he has in the situation before Saul to his advantage. He is willing to do whatever it takes to get Saul's favor and get ahead. The end result is absolutely heart-rending.

What's one lesson you learned or noticed from this account about self-centered thinking? What helps you overcome the appealing temptation to put your interests first? Tami

Anticipating God

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 22:1-5

Not finding Gath a safe or welcome place, David travels to the cave of Adullam where he is joined by approximately 400 men. Shortly thereafter, he journeys to Moab where he petitions the king to take in and safeguard his father and mother from Saul. David's words to the king drew my attention.

"'Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me'" (vs. 3).

Even though he and his family are now considered outcasts and are on the run for their lives, David's trust in God remains strong. He doesn't doubt that God is in control or that God has a plan for him. So he keeps moving forward--as best as he knows how--in anticipation of God's next move.

When you find yourself in the middle of a difficult circumstance or situation, how do you tend to respond? Do you talk with God through prayer? Is your mindset one of anticipating God to move on your behalf? How does continuing to move forward in trust during hard times (even if our movement is small) help and benefit us? Tami

Troubled Times

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 21:1-15; Psalm 56:1-13

As we arrive at 1 Samuel 21, we get a picture of David's first of many days running from Saul. He's in distress with no food or weapons and even goes to the Philistine city of Gath. The situation in which he finds himself is scary, dangerous and awful. Yet through it all, David continues to trust God and look to Him alone. We see this wonderfully in Psalm 56, which David wrote in response to his experience in Gath. I love the message found in verses 8-11 and how they demonstrate that God's peace can be ours in the middle of our chaos.

How do you respond when life seems to be spinning out of control? Do you believe that God is for you ("This I know, that God is for me." Psalm 56:9)? What's one thing you learned from David in Psalm 56? 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, he 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, character, eternity and promises.

What does Psalm 102 show us about praying in times of adversity? How do you talk with God when you're feeling distressed or experiencing hardship? When you're candid with God and tell Him exactly what you're feeling and what's in your heart, how does it impact your attitude and thinking? Tami

Committed Living

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Today's reading: Psalm 101:1-8

Psalm 101 gives us a look at a conversation between David and God where David tells God 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 living right. We see David's commitment to sing and make music that praises and honors God, his commitment to guard what he views, his commitment to focus his thoughts on God and honor His ways and his 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 today. Tami

True Friendship

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 20:1-42; Proverbs 17:17

The scenario in 1 Samuel 20 is a sad one. Saul is a loose cannon and obsessed with killing David, David is now truly on the run for his life and Jonathan and David will never again be able to enjoy face-to-face friend time together. But in the middle of this sad and unfortunate situation, we get the privilege of seeing a beautiful God-centered friendship in action. My heart was moved by the love, care, concern and support each young man had for the other. God didn't create us to do life alone. We all need other people, and we would do well to have such a friendship as the one between these two godly men.

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17).

What's one thing you learned or noticed about friendship from Jonathan and David? What can you do this week to grow and further develop a friendship you currently have? How, and with whom, can you start a new friendship? Tami

Mighty Protector

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 19:8-24

Jonathan's candid talk with Saul temporarily resolves the situation between Saul and David. But this peaceful time doesn't last long. After David is once again successful against the Philistine army, Saul reverts back to his murderous thinking. The situation turns dire for David... so much so that it requires him to flee for his life in darkness of the night. It's an awful situation for David--yet, God's hand of protection is absolutely over him. Despite Saul knowing exactly where David is and sending troops (including Saul himself) to capture him, God does not allow anyone to touch or harm David. What an incredible display of God's supernatural power and control as our protector.

What did this passage reveal to you about God? How has 1 Samuel 19 impacted your thinking about God being in control of your situation, no matter how dire, as well as His past and present protection of you? Tami

The Approach

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 19: 1-7

Have you ever had to confront someone you're close to about their actions, attitude or words? It's not an easy task. In fact, it can be downright uncomfortable and even a little scary. So often when we think about confrontation, a fiery interaction comes to mind. But confrontation doesn't have to be loud, heated, unpleasant or ugly at all. In fact, it can be just the opposite. As Jonathan demonstrated in this account, being wise in the approach we choose to take in confrontation is key.

First and foremost, our demeanor--our attitude, tone of voice, facial expressions, body language--sets the tone. As difficult as it may be, this means that we need to begin an interaction calmly, and then remain calm, as we interact. And it will also serve us well to be prepared, having thought through the message we want to deliver and the best words we can use to convey that message before we engage. As I took in our passage this morning, Jonathan seemed to demonstrate all of these strategies. What a good example of how to speak truth to a difficult person in a difficult situation.

What's the most important lesson about confrontation that you learned or noticed from this account? How important was it that Jonathan chose to ask Saul questions rather than tell him what he was doing wrong? How important is it to pray and seek God's direction before engaging in confrontation? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 18:17-30

Saul continues down the dangerous path of jealousy concerning David. Rather than overtly trying to kill David like he did previously with his spear (vs. 11), Saul has now chosen to take a different tactic--a passive-aggressive approach. So we see Saul scheming, planning and putting in place the pieces he thinks are needed for David's demise by the hands of the Philistines. It's a sad scenario that provides us with a vivid display of how sin degrades our thinking and actions when we choose to turn away from God. And making things even worse, our sinful choices don't just impact us, they affect and influence those around us as well.

What do Saul's thoughts and actions show us about the progression of unchecked sin and specifically jealousy? What impact does Saul's sin have on those around him? What's an example from your past of how your sin impacted someone else negatively? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 18:1-16

David's life changes significantly after his slaying of Goliath. He is now in full-time service to Saul, and his success as a warrior is continuing. In fact, David's military accomplishments are so impressive that the people embrace David and publically praise him above Saul. "And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, 'Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands'" (vs. 7). As you might imagine, Saul is extremely unhappy about being in David's shadow, and the next thing we see is a jealous king who wants to get rid of his competition.

What did you notice and learn about jealousy from Saul? David? The women? Tami

His

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Today's reading: Psalm 100:3-5

Verse 3 of Psalm 100 is one of my favorite verses in the psalms because of the message it conveys and the visual it provides 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

You 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 or speaking encouraging words. 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

Representing God

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 17:38-58

From the moment he arrives on the battle ground, David is an outstanding representative of God. As I started reading our passage, it hit me that David's decision to stand up to and face Goliath truly provides us with a wonderful example as we represent and stand up for Christ in the world today. So I started jotting down the things I noticed from David's example that I could put into practice. Here are a few of the things I came up with:

  • He was confident in God
  • He didn't hesitate
  • He didn't concern himself with comparisons
  • He didn't question the situation
  • He used the tools he was fimilar with
  • He "ran toward the battle"
  • He remained humble
  • He finished strong

What encouraged you the most from David's example? What's one thing you learned from David's example about representing God that you can put into practice? Tami

Change Agent

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The account of David and Goliath is arguably one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. I remember hearing it as a little girl in Sunday school and singing songs about David and his sling and stones. But before we turn to the incredible confrontation between David and Goliath, we're going to spend today looking at the first part of 1 Samuel 17. As I took in the details of the passage, my attention was drawn to how God used David, a young man who wasn't even part of Saul's troops, to be the change agent that a distraught and intimidated Saul and army needed.

Try to picture the scene in your mind. Two opposing large armies with a valley between them had been set up for at least 40 days. BUT... the Philistines have a giant, super warrior named Goliath, who had struck fear in the Israelites through his daily routine of morning and evening taunts and challenges. Then David enters the picture. Arriving on the battle field with food for his brothers, he hears one of Goliath's rants and is immediately moved to action. Unlike those around him, David takes a bold stand for God, reminding and encouraging Saul and his troops that they are the army of the living God (1 Samuel 17:26-36). David then volunteers to take on Goliath, confidently assuring Saul that God will deliver him (1 Samuel 17:37).

What does this passage show about how God often uses the most unlikely people to accomplish His work? Do you see yourself as being God's agent for change? How can you be a change agent for someone who's discouraged, searching for direction, or needing support or a nudge to take action? Tami

Turning Back

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 16:14-23

After Saul received the message that God has rejected him as king (see 1 Samuel 15:10-34), he goes through the motions of repenting and acknowledging to Samuel that he sinned when he was put on the spot, but not truly repenting at a heart level. So when we reach 1 Samuel 16:14-23 we see that the Spirit of the Lord has departed from Saul, and as a result, he is mentally and emotionally distressed.

The solution to Saul's problem seems so obvious--he needs to turn back to God and seek forgiveness. But that doesn't happen. It's a sad picture because Saul never seems to give any consideration to seeking forgiveness as a remedy for his tormented state of mind.

What does Saul's situation show us about choosing our ways over God's? What does this account reveal about the impact of having an unrepentant heart and living with unconfessed sin? Tami

Look Inside

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As Samuel journeys to Bethlehem to seek out and anoint the next king, his expectation is that God is directing him to an impressive man--one who is physically fit, muscular, tall and good looking. But Samuel is in for a surprise. When he believes he found the man who fits this "impressive" list, God rejects him. I never get tired of reading God's words to Samuel when Samuel assumes that Eliab, David's older brother, is God's choice for the next king.

"But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart'" (1 Samuel 16:7).

Whether we realize it or not, we all get caught up in outward appearances. I know I certainly do. So I was thankful for this reminder that God isn't concerned about what we look like on the outside. He's looking inside--at our hearts--and what He desires most is for us to love, follow and serve Him fully.

What would happen if we looked at people with God's perspective? In other words, if we focused on each person's heart or spiritual condition instead of a person's outward appearance? Would you join me in making this a priority this week? No matter what someone looks like or what encounter we have with them, let's commit to seeing them through God's eyes--finding out their heart condition (spiritually speaking) and then taking action to help and encourage them to the best of our ability. Tami

Tough Love

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 15:1-35

My heart went out to Samuel and the situation in which he finds himself in 1 Samuel 15. Samuel, now an old man, is still seeking after and following God faithfully and wanting the best for the nation of Israel, but the same can't be said of Saul. After delivering clear instructions to Saul concerning the Amalekites, Samuel discovers that Saul has disobeyed God's directive. Disappointed, hurt, angry and frustrated, Samuel then turns to the unpleasant task of confronting Saul about his sin and telling him that God had taken Israel from him and given it to another who was better. A tough, hard day delivering and then carrying out a tough message for Samuel.

What do Samuel's words in verse 22, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams," reveal about God and what He values? What did you learn about obedience from this passage? Tami

Holy

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Today's reading: Psalm 99:1-9

Three times in the nine short verses of Psalm 99, we're told that God is holy (pure, righteous, set apart from any evil). Accompanying this declaration is the command to praise His name (vs. 3), exalt the Lord and worship at his footstool (vs. 5) and exalt the Lord and worship at his holy mountain (vs. 9).

Why is it important to know that God is holy? What are you going to do with the recurring instructions to exalt the Lord and worship Him? How will you put this into practice over the next week and beyond? Tami

A Joyful Noise

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Today's reading: Psalm 98:1-9

In Psalm 98, the instruction to sing joyous songs and praises to the Lord is a clear one. But in this particular song, the psalmist also includes an unusual description of nature praising God. In verses 7-8, we're told "let the sea roar...let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together."

This past week, I got the opportunity to experience this description of nature praising God firsthand. My sister and I had traveled to Seattle, Washington, to attend a conference, and while we were there, we took a few hours to drive out to Snoqualmie Falls. It was magnificent! Before we could even see the falls, we could hear and feel it. Immediately after stepping out of our car, the rumbling of the water surging over the rocky cliff and pounding into the river basin below could be heard even though we were over half a mile away. And as we walked through the forest to the lookout point, a heavy mist from the waterfall fell over our heads like rain. After viewing the falls from the lookout point, we then hiked down the mountainside to the river basin. As we trekked down the winding trail, the sounds of birds, bugs and other animals gloriously permeated the air.

A day or so later I read Psalm 98, and it hit me that I had indeed experienced the rivers clapping their hands and the hills singing for joy together, and oh how beautiful it was. If the rivers and hills can praise God that exuberantly, how much more can and should we--God's children--give God glory and make a joyful noise to Him? (Take a look and listen to this short video of Snoqualmie Falls that I took with my phone so you can have a little taste of the rivers clapping their hands.)

When you think about making a joyful noise to the Lord what comes to mind? What would it look like for you to "make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD" with abandon? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 14:24-52

Saul's thinking, and the way he interacted with his troops in 1 Samuel 14, definitely provide us with some insight on how to lead people. Unfortunately, that insight is mostly through a negative perspective rather than from a modeling of effective leading. The lesson that stood out to me the most from this passage (or what I recognize was least effective) was how Saul put his wants and interests before the well-being of the men in his army. The information and words of Saul contained in verse 24 reveal much.

"And the men of Israel had been hard pressed that day, so Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, 'Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.' So none of the people had tasted food."

The men of Israels army had been fighting hard, and they were weary. But rather than providing a much needed boost to his men--physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually--Saul is consumed with himself. He's frustrated with the current state of the battle, so he impulsively imposes a foolish, punitive oath banning any consumption of food until evening. Saul's actions and words convey that he was more concerned about himself and what he wanted than with looking after and helping the men under his care--the very men who were giving their lives to support and protect him.

What's one lesson about leading you noticed or learned from this passage? What does Saul's example teach us about considering the interests of others as we lead as parents, adults or teachers at work, with friends, at school or at church? Tami

No Doubt

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 14:1-23

Jonathan (Saul's son) and his armor-bearer stir things up a bit as we get into 1 Samuel 14. This duo single-handedly take on and defeat a battalion of the Philistine army, which then leads to a full blown battle that ends in victory for the Israelites. It's an unlikely scenario that at first glance seems a bit reckless on Jonathan's part. But Jonathan wasn't acting on his own strength. The words he speaks to his armor-bearer in verse 6 convey an unwavering, absolute belief and trust in God and His control and protection.

"Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few."

Would you describe yourself as believing that "nothing can hinder the Lord"? How does fully believing and trusting in God impact your day-to-day decisions and the way you interact with your family, co-workers and friends? How bold are you for God? Tami

Self-Reliant

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 13:1-23

Only two years into his reign as the first king of Israel, Saul's heart has turned lukewarm (if even that) for God. It's a different scenario than what we first saw of Saul in 1 Samuel 11. As Saul gathers men together to fight against the Philistines, we see no mention of him seeking God's counsel. And a short time later when the Philistines rally with a massive army, Saul chooses to rely on himself rather than turning to and trusting in God. He takes matters into his own hands by presenting a burnt offering that was only to be conducted by God's prophet, Samuel. It was a decision that would bring catastrophic consequences for Saul.

When or in what type of situations are you most tempted to take action without seeking God's guidance? What did you learn or see from this account about the importance of trusting in and waiting on God? What's one thing that helps you stay focused on God and submit to His timing? Tami

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 12:1-25

Now an old man, Samuel addresses the Israelites one more time reminding them of who God is and then calling the nation to respect, serve and obey Him.

As I took in Samuel's passionate address, once again, his absolute commitment to God was apparent. From his earliest years to his final days Samuel wholly followed God--seeking His instruction, following His words and faithfully leading and guiding God's people. As I spent a few minutes thinking about Samuel's example, here are some of the descriptive words that came to my mind: unwavering, candid, steadfast, dependable, submitted, shepherd, caring, devoted, loyal, committed, honest, firm.

What is the most meaningful lesson you've learned from Samuel's example? What does Samuel's life show us about serving God in and through all our circumstances? What does his example show about serving God as we age? Tami

Superb Leader

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Superb Leader

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 11:1-15

Today we get a look at Saul's early leadership style, and I have to say, it is impressive. The Ammonites have taken control of the city of Jabesh-gilead, and the Ammonite leader, Nahash, has agreed to make a treaty with the people--with the condition that each person's right eye be gouged out as a way to disgrace Israel. (Talk about a picture of an arrogant bully). In desperation and with the hope of receiving aid from kinsmen, Jabesh-gilead sends word of their impending plight around the countryside.

When the message reaches Saul's community of Gibeah, the people are sad but no one suggests taking action to help. That all changes, however, once Saul hears about this horrific situation. He responds immediately, calling for the people of Israel to rally together to rescue the city of Jabesh-gilead. Saul then organizes the large group who responds, and they proceed to crush the Ammonites and take back the city. Then immediately after the victory, we get another glimpse of Saul's leadership when he refuses to allow the killing of a number of men who had opposed his leadership. Well done, Saul!

What did you learn from this account about understanding, helping and/or leading people? How will you use what you learned from this account to help you as you direct, lead and work with others? Tami

Foundation and Core

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 his 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 how God views and values doing right? Tami

Great and Mighty

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, and it all served to focus 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

Young King Saul

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 10:1-27

A young Saul is anointed king of Israel in 1 Samuel 10. But Saul didn't fully understand what was taking place, not to mention how and why it was going to play out going forward. Although Samuel anointed him as king, Saul didn't have a detailed roadmap of the situation or a play-by-play instruction manual to follow, and he was a little scared (hiding from the crowd in some baggage). Yet he listened to Samuel--God's representative--and obediently moved forward with the expectation that God would guide him along the way.

This passage is just what I needed today as I'm in the middle of one of these uncertain times. I am following God's prompting, and I know He is right here with me, yet because I can't see the full plan or how God is precisely working, my tendency is to hesitate, to question and, like Saul, to be a little fearful. So I'm thankful for the reminder 1 Samuel 10 provided--that I need to keep moving forward so I don't miss out on or have a lesser experience with what God has for me.

Have you ever felt like young Saul here in 1 Samuel 10, struggling because you don't fully understand or see all the details of God's plan? What things help you keep moving forward when you're not entirely certain how God is using the turns, twists, hills and valleys as contributors to your journey? 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 2018 listed from newest to oldest.

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