Grow : Read!

Written By Jen

“In the reading, as we submit our lives to what we read, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but to see our stories in God’s.  God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves.” Eugene Peterson.

I don’t know if you all remember, but back in January I started a reading plan to read through the Bible in a year. First, let me just say, it is going to take me more than a year!  I am a little, or to be truthful, a lot behind!  My husband is trucking along ahead of me though!  Good job babe!  Whether it takes me a year or two years, what it important is not how long it takes, but that it is blessing me, encouraging my heart, and engaging my mind.  Eugene Peterson says, “Most of us need to be reminded that these stories are not exemplary in the sense that we stand back and admire them, like statues in a gallery, knowing all the while that we will never be able to live either that gloriously or tragically ourselves.  Rather they are immersions into the actual business of living itself: this is what it means to be human.  Reading and praying our way through theses pages, we get it; gradually but most emphatically we recognize that what it means to be a woman, a man, mostly has to do with God.”

I so often want to share with you what I am learning.  I will start a post and all I want to do is cut and paste huge chunks of the story I am reading.  Over the past few weeks I have been reading the story of Joseph and it is moving my heart.  I am captivated by the story of his life; from his birth to his death, it’s amazing.  He lived a story of trial and redemption and we get to see how God was with him.  We see his emotion, his pleading, his courage, his focus, his joy, his leadership and much more.  I want to know him.

Reading your Bible is so enriching for your heart.  If you have the desire to read and don’t know where to start then try this reading plan.  I love the way it is set up.  Instead of plugging through one book at a time with a few chapters each day, this plan breaks it up in a unique way. Everyday you read only 2-5 chapters.  On Sunday you read a few chapters from an Epistle (A book that is a letter in the New Testament), on Monday you read a few chapters from a book of The Law (the first 4 books of the OT), on Tuesday you read a few chapters from a Historical book, on Wednesday you read a few chapters from the book of Psalms, on Thursday you read a few chapters from a Poetic book of the Bible, on Friday you read a few chapters of a Prophetic book of the Bible, and finally on Saturday you read a few chapters of a Gospel (one of the first 4 books of the NT).  So in the first month: on Sundays I read through Romans, On Mondays through Genesis, on Tuesdays through Joshua, on Wednesdays through Psalms, on Thursdays through Job, on Fridays through Isaiah, and on Saturdays through Matthew.
I copied the plan from  this site.  I put it into an excel sheet so I can color in a box each day after I read.  It’s a little reward system for me.  However long it takes you, I think you will be blessed by reading it.  It’s so nice to have the big picture and follow a story line all the way through.  If are having a hard time getting through one book, at least the next day you are reading something different.

If you decide to do it, one thing I suggest is to say a quick prayer before you start each day.  Something like this, “God please speak to me as I read your word.  Would you open my eyes, mind, and heart to your ways?  Teach me about you.  Help me to see and know you.  Please speak to me.  Thank you.  Amen.”

“This cluster of interlocking stories trains us in perceptions of ourselves, our sheer and irreducible humanity, that cannot be reduced to personal feelings or ideas or circumstances.  If we want a life other than mere biology, we must deal with God.  There is no alternate way.” Eugene Peterson.

So, instead of cutting and pasting the whole Bible for you here, I will just encourage you to READ.  One other thing, this time I am reading the whole Bible in the Message version.  Of course, you can choose any version you like, but it has been a treat for me to read it in the Message.  If you want me to send you the excel sheet I made so that you can color in boxes as you go too, email me at or you can look at the not so pretty version here.  I am going to be praying for you guys to choose to read and that it will be a RICH time spent between you and your God.

Tools : 7 Keys to Practical Biblical Love


Written By Jen
I was involved with a ministry called The Navigators when I was in college.  They do a great job of helping attach what we learn in the Bible to our lives, actions and relationships.  This is a great tool from The Navigators on doing well in relationships.  I posted it, now I need to meditate on it.  Enjoy!

7 Keys to Practical Biblical Love

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” –John 13:34,35

There’s a clear connection between unity in the body and the advancement of the Gospel. But this truth cuts both ways. A lack of love and unity can be a severe hindrance to the advancement of the Gospel. 

Many of us are unaware of the main reason overseas missionaries return prematurely from the mission field. It’s not because of inadequate funding. It’s not due to challenges from hostile governments. The primary reason they return home is conflict on their teams!

Relational conflict and differences of opinion are inevitable when you live and work closely with people. You don’t have to be a missionary to experience this. In fact, you don’t have to look any further than your own marriage. How can it be that the person you love the most in the world is also the person you sin against most often and from whom you continually need to seek forgiveness?

Here are seven simple (but not easy) biblical steps that can help you foster love and unity in any relationship.

  1. Be humble1 Peter 5:5,6 “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
  2. Believe the best in people. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
  3. Keep short accounts and take pains to have a clear conscience with both God and people. Acts 24:16 “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”
  4. Don’t let a root of bitterness grow in your heart. Ephesians 4:31 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”
  5. Overlook offenses when possible. Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
  6. Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
  7. Be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,”

Search your heart and think about the close relationships you have. Ask God if there is anything you need to do to “have a clear conscience before God and man” (Acts 24:16). For the sake of the Gospel, let’s work at loving one another.

From Nav Tools, Adapted from material by Jim Luebe, Director of The Navigators Collegiate Ministry. Copyright ©2011 The Navigators | PO Box 6000 Colorado Springs CO 80934-600


Bible Bites: Know These

Written By Amy

Earlier this week I was helping Maddie memorize some scripture she needed to learn for Sunday School.  We were in her room, sitting on her fluffy yellow rug on the floor. It was bedtime, I was tired, and honestly, I was in the mode of, “Let’s just get these memorized and go to bed!” 

 A couple of days passed and my Dad and Step-mom arrived from out-of-town.  We were all together last night, and with today being Sunday, Maddie was anxious to get the verses right.  Maddie asked my Dad to help her practice once more.  Everyone else had gone upstairs to get ready to bed, and I sat nearby, listening to my Dad and Maddie go over the scriptures.  It was a sweet moment, the two of them together.  When Maddie would struggle to remember the right words, my Dad would explain what was happening in the verse and she would say, “Ohhhh, Ok!”  God took that moment, when I was just a bystander observing a scene instead of being in it, to open my ears to what Maddie was memorizing.  They were not just “any” verses (as if any scripture is an “any”!), but the cornerstone verses of God’s word.  They are the verses that, if you want to become a Christian and follow Jesus, you need to hear and understand…and if you are a Christian and are sharing about your faith with someone who has questions, you need to know.  They are essential to our faith.  Without these verses, our relationship with God would be like trying to drive a car with no wheels.

I will share them below, and encourage you no matter where you are in your journey with God, to memorize these like Maddie did.  Have them ready, on the tip of your tongue to share when the time is right .  Bury them deep in your soul, to give you confidence of where you stand with the Lord, and be able to pass this confidence on to others.  I have learned in my life that I never know when God will have me sitting over coffee with a friend, when the conversation turns to faith, God, Jesus, and why I believe what I do.  Be prepared.

John 3:16  God so loved the world that he gave his ONE AND ONLY SON, that WHOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 10:10  I have come so that they may have LIFE and have it more ABUNDANTLY.

Romans 3:23  For ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is ETERNAL LIFE in Christ.

John 14:16    Jesus answered, “I am the WAY and the TRUTH and the LIFE.  No one comes to the Father except THROUGH me.”

Romans 10:9  If you CONFESS with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and BELIEVE in your HEART that God raised him from the dead, you will be SAVED.

John 1:12   Yet to ALL who RECEIVED him, to those who BELIEVED IN HIS NAME, he gave the RIGHT to become CHILDREN OF GOD.

I capitalized the some words because I think it helps me not just skim over the verse, but really see what God is trying to convey to my heart through it.  You may capitalize other words, in fact, you may want to take some time to write these scriptures down and highlight the words that speak to you. 

 Have a blessed day.

My Life: Women’s Bible Study

Written By Amy

Our group, minus a few who weren't here for the pic!


Every other Monday night, a group of us, sometimes 8, sometimes 10, sometimes 5, gather for bible study.  We named it  GROW, because we meet for one main reason, to grow in our relationship with God.  We do this through books written by amazing women, who challenge us in our faith, teach us new things and set us on a road to deepen our relationships with each other and with God.  The women in our group are amazing, and have been willing to open up their lives, personal struggles, and hearts to the rest of the group. What I love most about our time is it is real–there is no pretense.  We are willing to be vulnerable because it is a safe place, one of laughter and connection.   We get to step out of our busy, hectic lives for a couple of hours and focus on what really matters to us.

The other thing I love about being in bible study is it keeps me heading toward God.  I recently heard someone say, “If you are not moving closer to God, you are moving away from him.”  There is no middle, stagnant place.  I want to keep moving forward….there is so much growing I still have to do, and so much love of His to experience.  

I encourage you, if you are not in some type of group like this, to find one.  If there is not one through your church, start one!  I can help you with that if you want!  It will be a great blessing in your life.

Tools : Converse with God through the Scriptures

Written By Jen

I just finished one of the BEST Bible study books I have done in a LONG, LONG time.  This study is a great guide on how to read your Bible and actually get something out of it.  It’s simple and it’s not at all stifling or stuffing a bunch of rules at you; it’s really refreshing.  This would be a great Bible Study book to do over the summer with your friends.  It’s called Can We Talk? soul-stirring conversations with God by Priscilla Shirer. There is a video to go with it.  We enjoyed that as well.  Her Bible Study method is full of grace and it’s great for busy women.  She shows you how to have 15 meaningful minutes with God.  I am going to share a bit from her book, but I can’t do it justice.  It’s worth getting!  It doesn’t matter if you have never cracked a Bible or if you have been studying it for years.  It’s a refreshing perspective having conversations with God.

Priscilla talks about “The 5 Ps of Hearing God through Scripture.”

1. Position yourself to hear from God.

Habakkuk 2:1 – Engage in solitude and silence.  Look for just a few minutes of peaceful stillness.  I know how hard that is to find and to choose, but treat yourself, you deserve it!  While you are there expect God to speak – Psalm 27:14.   Having a intimate conversation with God is a privilege of being His child.  I usually pray before I read the Bible and ask Him to speak to me, teach me and let me hear His voice, and that His Spirit would help me to learn and understand.

2. Pore over the passage and Paraphrase the major points.

James 1:25- Look deliberately and intentionally into the Scriptures. Priscilla explains “When you read the Bible expecting God to speak, you cannot just skim the passage.  You are not in a race to finish your lesson. Meander in each verse.  If the passage allows, put yourself in the Scripture and see yourself in the story.  If one verse seems to resonate with you, don’t worry about finishing the rest, just stay in the passage and let the Spirit speak to you…. If a certain word or phrase pops out at you, don’t ignore it.  Stop and consider why.  Ask yourself what is the context of this passage?  Who are the participants?  What are they doing and saying?  Where are they going? Why is this happening?  How is this occurring?”

3. Pull out the spiritual principles.

What is God teaching? What is He revealing about Himself?

4.  Pose the question.

Form a personally directed question from each of the spiritual principles you listed in the step above.  Ask yourself, “Does my life coincide with the message of this verse?  Is anything in my life contradiction this passage? What do I need to do to bring my life in line?  How does this apply to my life right now?” As you ask yourself questions along these lines, permit the Holy Spirit to speak to you.  Take time to listen.

5. Plan obedience and Pin down a date.

James 1:22-Plan to obey
Don’t be one who hears and then does nothing with what she has heard.  Record the steps that you can take immediately to begin responding to what God has said to you in the verses you looked at that day.

This is a brief summary of what Priscilla Shirer teaches.  She goes more in-depth and then she gives you excellent examples.  As she leads you through this seven week study, with just 15 minutes of work a day she helps you practice this method of having conversations with God through Scripture.  After my Bible Study did this study we were able to use this format to keep reading and studying various books of the Bible together.  It was a break through book for us.  Thanks Priscilla for helping teaching our little Bible Study how to have more intimate conversations with God through scripture and teaching us how to do it together!  This study book Can We Talk? by Priscilla Shirer has been a great tool for us this year!

Priscilla Shirer, Can We Talk?, (Nashville, TN; Life Way Press 2008, 2009) 5,6.


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