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What do I need to know about Ecclesiastes?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode #7

We’ve been working through the Wisdom Literature this season. We’ve hit on the book of Psalms as well as Proverbs and now it’s Ecclesiastes’ turn!

IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT:

  • The AUTHOR, AUDIENCE, and AIM of Ecclesiastes.
  • The similarities between VH-1’s Behind the Music and the book of Ecclesiastes.
  • The main themes in the book.
  • How a meals at Denny’s and Ecclesiastes led Katie to marry Chris.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

Links below may include affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks!

SERMONS ON THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES:


HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post or watch the Facebook Live video version.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

 

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How do I incorporate prayer into my study time?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode #6

Today we tackle how to incorporate praying while we study the Bible. There are many potential ways to do this. In this 15 minute episode, Chris and I share what works for us!

Three ways to incorporate prayer into your Bible study time:

  • Before you study:
    • Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18 ESV).
    • Before you begin to study, take a moment to ask the Spirit to illuminate your time in the Word.
    • Approach God’s Word with a HUMBLE heart.
  • While you study:
    • “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45 CSB).
    • When you come to a verse you are uncertain what it means, ask God to open your mind to understand it!
    • Study God’s Word with a DEPENDENT spirit.
  • After you study:
    • “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22 ESV).
    • Once we’ve identified the main idea of what we are studying, we need modify our lives to what we’ve learned.
    • Leave God’s Word with a posture of RESOLVE to obey what we’ve seen.

RESOURCES MENTIONED:

(Affiliate links are present. At no extra cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!)

ADDITIONAL PRAYER RESOURCES:

  • Val Marie Paper – These are the prayer journals I use. I CAN’T WAIT for the 2018 journals to get here. I’ve pre-ordered mine!!

HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

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Do I need to know Greek or Hebrew to understand the Bible?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode #5

Though you don’t need to know Greek or Hebrew to understand the Bible, having a general understanding of how to access the original language can be a helpful Bible study tool. No need to head to seminary or give in to defeat because you can’t. In this 15 minute podcast episode Chris and I share a few simple tips to begin your journey through the original languages of the Bible. 

How to get started with Greek and Hebrew

  • TIPS ROM THE SEMINARIAN (Dr. Orr): Start out with word studies
    • Pick a verb you want to study
    • Look at the semantic range – all the different ways the word can be translated
    • Look at how else the author uses this word
    • Once you are familiar with these steps and are ready for more, look in to the following:
      • voice – is this active, passive verb?
      • tense – is this word a past, present, or future, or perfect (completed) verb?
      • mood – is this a command (imperative)? an indication (indicative)?
  • TIPS FROM THE BEGINNER (Katie): Try this simple, three-step process used in the FOCUSed15 Bible studies
    • DECIDE – pick a KEY word to look up. (Don’t waste your time looking up the word “the.” Pick a word central to the verse.)
    • DISCOVER – find the original word as it was originally written
    • DEFINE – that original word
  • More tips and insight in the full episode!

RESOURCES MENTIONED:


HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

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What do I need to know about the book of Proverbs?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode #4

From the ideals promoted in the “Proverbs 31 Woman,” to the promise of Proverbs 22:6 (Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.) there is much we can glean from the book of Proverbs. Yet many struggle to understand exactly how to apply these wisdom sayings to everyday living. In this 15 minute podcast episode, we chat about some of the important principles to keep in mind as you study this book of wisdom.

What do I need to know about Proverbs?

  • Proverbs is one of the books of Wisdom Literature
  • AUTHOR: There are several authors
    • First 29 chapters were written or collected/adapted/grouped together by King Solomon
    • Proverbs 30 – written by Agur
    • Proverbs 31 – first half written by Lemuel
  • AUDIENCE: Fairly broad audience. Solomon was a collector of wisdom, and spent much time collecting
  • AIM: To provide wisdom from God for everyday life.
  • INTERPRETATION NOTES:
    • The wisdom found in Proverbs is intended to be general principles, not guaranteed promises.
    • The Proverbs should be read like poetry, with imagery present. Not everything can be taken literally.
    • Make sure any potential interpretation from a proverb can be confirmed by the rest of Scripture.
  • Listen in to the podcast for more tips!

SERMONS ON THE BOOK OF PSALMS:


HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

 

 

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What if I don’t enjoy studying the Bible?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode #3

Ever been in a place where you don’t have a desire to study the Bible? If this is you, you are NOT alone. This is a common struggle every Christian has dealt with. In this quick 15 minute episode, Chris and I share a few reasons WHY this might be the case, as well as several practical steps to take in order move forward!

What if I don’t enjoy studying the Bible?

There are many potential reasons for why we may not enjoy reading the Bible, but here are three of the most common reasons why many find it hard to open the Word.

  • Running and hiding – All too often, our response to our failures is to run away from God. Instead of experiencing the mercy of God by drawing near to the throne of grace, we believe the lie that it would be better to hide our sin and keep our distance.
  • Spiritual pride – Some get to the point where they feel they’ve read it all and have answered all the big questions they’ve had about the Bible. The felt need for learning more and knowing God better has diminished.
  • Comparison to a past spiritual high – Sometimes we open our Bible and we feel God speaking in incredible ways. This often happens when we first come to Christ, or while attending a conference or retreat. It is exciting to feel the sudden stirrings of a truth that changes everything for us, or a much-needed comfort of a promise delivered during a time of need. But these “feel-good” moments do not occur every time we approach Scripture, and it is easy to get stuck feeling like time in the Word is not worth it if we don’t immediately feel something.

So, we’ve all been there. Now what? Here are 6 actions to take if you find yourself lacking a desire for Scripture.

  • Be encouraged! The fact that this lack of desire bothers you is a good sign. God is working in you!
  • Pray. It is God’s will for you to be in the Word. If you ask Him to grant your heart a longing for time in the Bible, He will answer that prayer because that request is in line with God’s will.
  • Act in faith, not on your feelings. Feelings are deceptive and poor guides. Move ahead in obedience, with the expectant faith that God will answer your prayer to stir up a passion for His Word.
  • Quit comparing. In the age of Pinterest, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling that our time in the Word needs to look like so-and-so’s. Though it can be helpful to see how others spend their time in the Bible, we must not give into trying to one-up what everyone else is doing.
  • Manage your expectations. We must let go of the thought that our “quiet times” must be a certain length, depth, and with a particular ambience to be worthwhile. Have 1 minute? Take it. Not exactly sure what to study? Start somewhere. Have no idea what you just read? Trust that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to what you need to see, when you need to see it. His Word does not return void. Any time in the Bible is good.
  • Remember. Recall what is true about God and who you are because of Christ. God is not going to reject you because you don’t always want to open your Bible. His acceptance of you is not dependent on your actions. Preach the gospel to your heart and remember that you are loved unconditionally.

HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

 

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How do I know when to take the Bible literally?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode #2

Have you read a verse and not been sure how to take it? Every wonder of something you are studying should be taken figuratively or literally? Some passages are pretty clear. Others are not. Listen in to this 15 minute episode for a few tips to help you move toward a better interpretation (and thus, application) of these tricky passages.

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO TAKE THE BIBLE LITERALLY?

  • Keep in mind the genre (type of writing) and the context. This goes back to our three “A”s.
    • Author: Who is writing?
    • Audience: Who are they writing to?
    • Aim: Why are they writing it?
  • When reading prophetic Scripture, know that there are Godly, educated, (way) wise(er than us) scholars who differ on their interpretations … so if you are unsure if a certain passage is literally or figuratively speaking of what is to come, you are probably not going to be able to figure it out either.
  • When it comes to moral issues and daily practice issues, cultural and contextual clues must be considered.
  • When you encounter a teaching that is also taught frequently and clearly in other places in Scripture, then we can apply the Bible literally to our lives.
  • If something is taught sparingly and is unclear, we ought to look at the PRINCIPLE behind the command, instead of the SPECIFICS of the actions.

RESOURCES MENTIONED:

  • Go to your pastor (or small group leader) if you have questions. He will LOVE it!
  • Bible Study Hub online study group

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

Links below may include affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks!

  • Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
  • The IVP Bible Background Commentary – If you do think something is figurative instead of literal, this resource will help you see the meaning of the words through the eyes of the original audience by spelling out the cultural significance.
  • A solid study Bible will also help with some of these tricky passages. Our favs are:

HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

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What do I need to know about the book of Psalms?

 

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Episode #1 (Season 3)

We’re so excited to kick off Season 3 of the FOCUSed15 Podcast! We started off with diving into the book of Psalms, with another What do I need to know about … episode. Here’s what we packed into this 15 minute episode. Obviously, we couldn’t hit on the depth and width of this great song book, but here is our attempt at pointing out some of the highlights! I hope you’ll listen in.

DID YOU KNOW? Many of us are going to be reading through the Psalter together in 31 days, so we thought this would be great timing. (It’s not too late to sign up. Get your free reading plan and catch all the details of the group here.)

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PSALMS:

  • The correct way to refer to the Book of Psalms is plural, whereas individual Psalms are to be stated as singular (ie, Psalm 1 NOT Psalms 1).
  • AUTHOR: Many authors.
    • David (73 named in title. New Testament gives credit for 2 more),
    • Asaph (12)
    • Sons of Korah (11)
    • Then many miscellaneSolomon (1), Moses (1), Ethan (1), Heman the Ezrahite (1)
  • The Psalms are arranged into 5 books, which many scholars believe correspond to the 5 books of the Law.
    • Book 1: 1-41
    • Book 2: 42-72
    • Book 3: 73-89
    • Book 4: 90-106
    • Book 5: 107-150
  • AUDIENCE/AIM: This was compiled as a song book for the Hebrew people.
  • There are many different styles of Psalms within the book:
    • Hymns of praise
    • Songs of thanksgiving
    • Lament
    • Historical
    • Songs for a specific event (Example: Psalms of Ascent)
    • Prophetic
    • Praise of God’s Law
  • Interpretation notes:
    • Keep in mind progressive revelation. It’s important to remember that God reveals Himself to us over time. There are things that we now know about God and His plan that the Old Testament people (Moses, David, the Israelites, etc.) did not know or understand.
    • Just because something is in the Bible (like the cursing of enemies in the Psalms) doesn’t mean God is condoning that behavior.
    • The Psalms are part of the Wisdom Literature group of books. It’s poetry that was set to music.
  • The dominant theme throughout the Psalms = the Character of God.
    • His goodness in creation
    • His ability to save
    • God’s willingness to hear our prayers and deal with our emotions
    • He is worthy of our worship
    • He is holy
    • His Word is good and for our good

RESOURCES MENTIONED:

Links below may include affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks!

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

SERMONS ON THE BOOK OF PSALMS:


HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

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Recommended resources for studying the Psalms

When God opens your eyes you’re going to see things you never saw before, you’re going to hear things you never heard before, you’re going to know things you never knew before because God the Holy Spirit is going to teach you. — Adrian Rogers

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. — Psalm 119:18

I’m gearing up for an overview study of Psalms, which will be the beginning of an in-depth study of several individual Psalms. Whenever I get ready to study a passage in depth, I always zoom out and start at the “bird’s-eye-view” first.

Typically, I’ll listen to sermons from teachers I trust (DesiringGod.org, The Village Church Resources, and Radical.net are my go-to’s.) and also purchase a few books and commentaries. Sometimes I’ll listen and read before I start any sort of study, just to prime the pump for the big-picture themes to look out for, but I try not to get too in-depth before I study for myself. I’ll also listen and read as I go, using the commentaries when I hit sticky passages that I’m not sure of their meaning.

What do I need to start studying the Psalms?

First off, start with prayer. Whether you have a Ph.D. or haven’t set foot in a seminary class, the most important action to take when we approach Scripture is to pray. Every time we open God’s Word, we ought to declare our need for the Spirit of God to open our eyes to the meaning, it’s implications to our lives, as well as our desperate need for grace.

Beyond the spiritual preparation, there is much we can do to arm ourselves with a few tools to help with the journey. Here are some resources I’m investing in (or already have) that you might be interested in as well.

Here are some blog posts and/or podcasts on praying through the Psalms:

How do you prepare to study? Have any resources to add to the list?


Join the 31 Days in the Psalms Online Bible Study Group

  • WHAT: Reading through the Psalms (at about a 5 Psalms a day pace)
  • WHEN: August 1-31st, 2017
  • WHERE: The Bible Study Hub Facebook group
  • HOW TO JOIN: Fill out this form!

 

 

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Five ways to study a large portion of the Bible

“I rejoice at every effort to see the big picture of the Bible. The whole story. The narrative from creation to consummation. The clearer the whole, the clearer the parts. And the more clearly we see the parts, the more accurately we will construe the whole.”  — John Piper

There are two needed viewpoints when it comes to Bible study. The one I most often talk about and love to teach people how to use is what I liken to Disney’s A Bug’s Life movie. Seeing the world at that zoomed-in perspective allows us to see details that cannot be enjoyed at a normal vantage point.

However, there is another important perspective we can use to study I like to refer to as the “bird’s-eye-view.” If you’ve flown on a plane and enjoyed a window seat, you know a new appreciation and knowledge of a city can be gained by viewing it at that altitude. You can see the structure and order (or lack of order) in the way the roads are situated, and how the city moves along the river, mountain, and/or other prominent features.

As I get ready to approach the Psalter once again—in view of diving deeper into a select few—I want to be able to see the collection of Psalms as a whole. In general, this is a great practice to incorporate into preparation for any deep study, especially if you are not super-familiar with the big picture of that portion of Scripture. Even if it is familiar territory, there is typically more to see and enjoy on every subsequent trip through the Bible. I brainstormed several options for this bird’s-eye journey through Psalms. These can also be used for another other large portion of Scripture.

How do I study a large passage of Scripture?

Here are five ways to approach a large section of the Bible. Any one of these would be great way to get an overview of a book of the Bible. You might start with the Psalms, Acts, any of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), for a new perspective on more familiar territory, or give yourself a challenge and use this through one of the major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.), Revelation, or Old Testament Narratives (Genesis, Exodus, Ruth, Judges, etc.).

  1. Read and Underline – Grab a reading plan and a pen or Bible highlighter, and just mark anything that stands out to you.
  2. Read and Write – This is a great way to slow down and enjoy each word. If you don’t have time to write out the entire passage you plan to read, just pick out one or two verses from the day’s passage and write them out in your journal.
  3. Read and Pray – Turn the words on the page into a prayer as you read. When you come across a truth about God, praise Him for who He is. If you find a command, proclaim a resolve to follow it and invite the Holy Spirit to enable you to obey. When the author records his own prayer or godly desires, agree with it in your heart, or consider writing it out in your own words as a cry of your own soul.
  4. Read and Observe – This is a deeper option, and will take a bit more time. As you read each chapter, wear one pair of “glasses” to help you begin to observe that one topic. Choose one color of pen to represent each layer, or create a simple chart in your journal to record what you find. Here are a few great layers to look for:
    1. Character of God – Who is God? What does He do?
    2. Covenant promises – What about God and the good news of the gospel can I cling to?
    3. Commands to keep – Are there any attitudes and/or actions to adopt and/or avoid?
  5. Read and Memorize – The memorization part will most likely carry on for much longer than the period of time in takes you to read through the passage. However, memorizing key portions of a book of the Bible can really unlock the meaning of the rest of the book. For example, I memorized Romans 8 several years back and anytime I read or study parts of Romans, I tend to see the important connections to the truths expounded on in chapter 8.

Consider trying one (or all) of these out on a smaller book of the Bible first. This will give you a better idea for how long it will take you to get through a larger book, as well as let you see which is most enjoyable to you. We all learn differently. Find what works for you. Tweak it. Make it your own.

Let me know how it goes!

Have you studying an entire book at one time? If not, which would you like to? If you have studied a book like this, which one did you go through? How long did it take? What was your experience like?


Join the 31 Days in the Psalms Online Bible Study Group

  • WHAT: Reading through the Psalms (at about a 5 Psalms a day pace)
  • WHEN: August 1-31st, 2017
  • WHERE: The Bible Study Hub Facebook group
  • HOW TO JOIN: Fill out this form!

 

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Three tips for establishing a regular quiet time routine

One of the excuses I often hear (and have given myself!) for not having a consistent quiet time is, “I’m too busy for Bible study.” Truly, you and I know this is not quite true. We all have discretionary time—we just don’t always use that time as well as we could.

Life is a journey, and so is the road to consistent time in the Word. One of the biggest hurdles to staying in the Word is NOT busyness, but it IS lack of a habit. If we can develop a routine that includes Bible study—even if it is just minutes a day—we will reap the benefits of a deeper walk with Christ. Having a rhythm in our days that naturally leads us into the Word is one of the most fruitful pursuits we can spend time on. I’ve found one such fruit of establishing a Bible study habit is a greater HUNGER for more time in the Word and a deeper DESIRE for meaningful Bible study.

Here are three tips that have helped me in establishing (and keeping) a regular time for Bible reading, study, and memorization.

Three tips for establishing a regular Bible study routine

  • Find a trigger. When I have coffee, then I read my Bible. That’s my trigger. Instead of trying to make 6 AM or 11PM my hard and fast quiet time, I’ve had much more success in folding Bible study into the rhythm of my day. So whether I wake up at 7 AM or slept in until noon, my Bible study is part of my morning routine.
  • Find a space. Once you carve out time to sit and study, it’s helpful to have everything ready and waiting in an inviting place for you to start. This will help keep you from wasting time looking for a pen or your Bible. Whether it be an armchair in your bedroom or the living room sofa, have a basket or drawer filled with all you might need to spend time with God. If you have multiple copies, consider designating one Bible for this space and another for Sunday morning sermon notes. I have a Sunday bag that has everything I need for the service, including my journal Bible which I only use for that time. This frees me up to have other resources handy on the shelf near my “quiet time” space in my home office.
  • Find a group. This is especially helpful if you are trying to build momentum and need accountability and encouragement. The first few weeks of a new habit are always the most difficult, and groups—whether they’ve been online or in “real life”—have been just the catalyst I’ve needed to keep going after the excitement wears off on day two of my endeavor.

What has been helpful for you when establishing a new routine?


There is a new resource out—Refresh Your Routines from Homemaking Ministries—that will help you develop the daily habit of time with God (and other important elements of your routine). This quick and easy FREE e-course includes 4 video sessions, a flexible (non-dated!) printable Bible reading plan/checklist, daily disciplines checklist, a 31-day habit tracker, and more!!⠀

Consider downloading these FREE printables, find a trigger, a space, and then gather a few friends to try it out together. (I’m planning to host a group through The Psalms in August, so you can join me then, also!)