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Pre-Order Philippians

Well, the internet has been my nemesis this week. Many of you have noticed that my website has been DOWN (ugh) which also means I have had to scrap my plans (double-ugh for this inflexible Type-A) and veer toward plan-B. (Which didn’t really exist, so it was less of a plan and more of flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. Ha!) My attempts at plan-B included a pixellated video with spotty sound, a hand-held super-shaky video, and yet another with the wrong orientation. When all was said and done, it felt like an ineffective way to communicate how I wanted! So, I’ve decided to start over and try this again. (Don’t worry, all of those who entered to win on Facebook WILL still retain their entries!!)

Enter to Win an Early-Bird Gift Pack

  • WHAT: I’ve put together 5 amazing product-packs that I will ship out to continental US addresses. Details for each pack are below!
  • WHEN: Because of all my site issues, I’m extending the giveaway to go through the weekend. I will choose a winner for each pack on Monday, December 11.
  • WHY: To celebrate the upcoming release of my latest Bible study, Philippians, a 6-week FOCUSed15 Bible study, which will be released on January 22, 2018! Yay!
  • HOW TO ENTER: 

What’s in the Gift Packs?

A full description of each gift pack is below! Each pack also includes a coupon for 25% off one of my Everyday Bible studies. If you want to see and hear more about each packet, you can head to the crazy videos on Facebook. Just click the image of any one and it will take you where you need to go!

Links to items below may include affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I receive a tiny portion of any purchases made. Thanks!

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I’m working on bringing you several fun (and FREE!) digital goodies as a thank you for all who pre-order Philippians. More details are coming soon, but you can let me know now that you pre-ordered and I’ll send them to you as soon as they are ready.


THANK YOU For your support. It means so much to me!!

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Holding Fast to the Hope of the Gospel

I get all fired up when I hear “preachers” saying God wants me to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. “You deserve more, better,” they say. “Just set your mind to something and go for it. God is for you. He will give you what you desire if you love and obey Him enough. Have faith, and life will go well for you.”

Problem is, these are half-truths—shadows of Scripture. Sound bites that are close enough to sound right and are highly motivational, but in actuality, hold devastating implications. When life doesn’t go our way we wonder what we did wrong or what we didn’t do enough of to get God to act on our behalf. And when life is peachy-keen, our need for God dissipates. We turn Christianity into a formula to be figured out and followed.

Fact is, we are not promised smooth sailing. We are not guaranteed to bypass the difficult storms of life just because we are Christians. And the presence of a squall does not mean God is upset with us. I’ve found the opposite to be true in my life. The trials I’ve faced have proved God to be lovingly present, tenderly purposeful, and powerfully able to use all things for my good. I’ve learned that being a Christian doesn’t give me some force-field bubble that protects me from harm. But having the hope of Christ within me—knowing and holding onto all He has done for me and all that He will do—brings a deep-down peace that no positive-thinking prosperity message can provide.

I’ll say it again: walking with God is not a formula to be found out and followed. Abundant life with Jesus is a journey of continually drawing near to His presence while holding fast to the gospel—our anchor of truth. All who are in Christ possess the treasure of hope. It’s a noun, not a verb. But don’t always experience the hope-filled abundant life because we either don’t truly know the gospel or we forget.

We often want to measure growth with external charts and checkboxes, but I believe true spiritual growth cannot be evaluated simply by our deeds. Actions can be modified. Attitudes can be mimicked. But holding fast to hope cannot be faked.

If our view of God is big, the reality of our hope will be big, too.

God, I confess the places where I have not trusted in Your promises. Help me to see that You are steadfast and sure. Open my eyes to see You more and more each day.


This is an excerpt from my Everyday Hope study, an easy to use, four-week Bible study. Designed for women who are pressed for time, yet crave depth from their Bible study, Everyday Hope offers a relevant and lasting approach for reading and understanding Scripture. In as few as 15 minutes a day, discover how to hold fast to His promises amidst feelings of hopelessness.

I’m leading an online group through the study and we start SOON. It’s not too late to join us. NookKindle, and ePub versions are also available for immediate download. You can find all the details here.

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Everyday Hope – Online Christmas Bible Study

Ready or not, Christmas is right around the corner and if you’re like me, you’re still trying to get your feet on the ground from all the back-to-school madness.

I love the holiday season for many obvious reasons, but it can also be a stressful, unsettling time. Between all the extra activities, gift shopping, and traveling to celebrate with family, my time with the Lord often falls to the wayside. If this sounds like you, you’re in good company.

Busyness may be our reality but it doesn’t have to be our excuse. I invite you to join me through my Bible study, Everyday Hope, this Christmas season. If you can carve out 15 minutes, 5 days a week, you can do this!! Simply grab a few friends to study alongside of you and maybe even text one another in the mornings to add a layer of accountability. Or, you can join the Bible Study Hub and study alongside hundreds of women. In this private Facebook group I’ll have daily check-ins for you and live videos to cheer you on along the way.

To jump in, all you need is a copy of Everyday Hope and to decide if you want to study with “real life” friends or online at the Bible Study Hub (I’ll send you a link to it once you fill out the form below and confirm your email). You can purchase Everyday Hope at your local LifeWay store (call ahead to make sure they have it in stock!), on Amazon (Prime ships QUICK!!), as well as several other online retailers. Nook, Kindle, and ePub versions are also available for immediate download.

If you’ve gone through one of my studies before and you leave a new review, you can get 25% off at New Hope.

 

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

Join the Online Study Group

  • WHAT: Studying through Everyday Hope (4 weeks – 5 days a week – 15 minutes a day!))
  • WHEN: November 27th – December 22nd
  • WHERE: Bible Study Hub Facebook group or form your own group with friends
  • HOW TO JOIN: Fill out this form, and then purchase a copy of Everyday Hope.

Are you in?! Who will you be studying with?

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Everyday Obedience – Join the Online Study Group

My latest Bible study, Everyday Obedience—a 4-week study of Colossians 3:1-17is my favorite of the Everyday series. Why? Because this passage is FILLED with critical theology that must take up residence in our heart and minds if we want to experience life-long transformation and intimacy with God. Truths that will truly transform your spiritual life.

I’ve said it again and again, and I’ll say it as long as I have breath—the greatest measure of spiritual growth is NOT what we look like on the outside. The yardstick of maturity in Christ is how accurate our view of God is. Because, actions can be faked. Behavior can be modified. But seeing God for who He truly is? It alters us. Understanding the truth of all He’s done for us so that we can be in His presence and enjoy Him forever? That is life-changing.

In Everyday Obedience, I’m not going to waste your precious time by piling up more commands for you to heed. I have no desire to give you yet another list of rules to follow. Besides, I’m assuming you already have more than you can manage. Throwing more obstacles into our path will not help us toward victory. More rules do not intrinsically lead to more obedience. Simply trying harder doesn’t work.

You and I can never obey perfectly. Ever. The rule-following, try-harder life leads to either burnout and frustration, or self-dependence and man-made righteousness. Neither of which leads to the abundant life Jesus promises.

In this easy-to-use, 4-week study, you’ll learn how to let go of the lifestyle of guilt-based behavior and discover the secret to a joy-filled, shame-free, everyday obedience. Each day’s work can be completed in as little as 15 minutes a day and it will teach you how to study the Bible as you work through it.

I’ll be leading an online group through Everyday Obedience and I hope you’ll join me! I’ll have daily check-ins for you and live videos to cheer you on along the way. There is a thriving, amazing group of women in the Bible Study Hub—a private Facebook group I’ve created to encourage and equip you to ENJOY God’s Word. All you’ll need to do is join the Bible Study Hub (I’ll send you right to it once you fill out the form below and confirm your email!) then grab a copy of Everyday Obedience. You can purchase one at your local LifeWay store (call ahead to make sure they have it in stock!), on Amazon (Prime ships QUICK!!), as well as several other online retailers. Nook, Kindle, and ePub versions are also available for immediate download.

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

Join the Online Study Group

  • WHAT: Studying through Everyday Obedience (4 weeks – 5 days a week – 15 minutes a day!))
  • WHEN: October 23rd – November 17th
  • WHERE: Bible Study Hub Facebook group
  • HOW TO JOIN: Fill out this form, and then purchase a copy of Everyday Obedience.
  • BONUS GIVEAWAY!!: Leave a comment below and share this post with a friend! I’ll pick a random commenter and social media sharer to receive a package of goodies!!

 

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Free Ephesians Reading Plan and Scripture Print

There are two needed ways to study the Bible, and it’s important for us to engage in both types of study.

  1. The Bird’s Eye View – This is where we get a quick yet needed lay of the land. This “arial” view grants us the big picture of the Bible. The goal here to enjoy the book as a whole. It is NOT time to glean everything out of it that we can.
  2. The Bug’s Life – This is where we can dig in and dissect the parts, notice the details, and begin to process what it all means.

Reading plans are designed to provide us with The Bird’s Eye View. Both perspectives are needed over time, but it is important that we keep the goal of each in mind.

Many of you are already a part of the Bible Study Hub, a private group for those wanting extra accountability and encouragement to get (and STAY!) in the Word on a regular basis. I’ve been mapping out opportunities for BOTH of these ways to study the Bible. As one who tends towards The Bug’s Life, I’ve really enjoyed the addition of these smaller Bird’s Eye View reading plans to my study time.

Join 12 Days in Ephesians

I’m excited for this new study tool! The 12 Days in Ephesians reading plan is simple, flexible, and geared toward helping us get a quick overview study of the book of Ephesians.

  • WHAT: Reading through Ephesians (15 minutes a day pace)
  • WHEN: October 9-21 (Includes a day of CONTEXT)
  • WHERE: The Bible Study Hub Facebook group
  • HOW TO JOIN: Fill out this form!

Once you sign up and confirm your email, I’ll send you a welcome packet via email which includes:

  • 12 day reading plan through Ephesians
  • BONUS: Printable reading plan bookmark
  • BONUS: Free 4×6 Ephesians Scripture print
  • BONUS: Printable Journal Pages tailored for the Pauline Epistles with study options if you want to go deeper

 Are you in? Have you studied Ephesians before? What do you enjoy the most, The Bug’s Life or The Bird’s Eye view? Share with us in the comments!

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How do I forgive when I don’t feel like it?

I’m excited to share about the next online study for the Bible Study Hub—a thriving online community of women encouraging one another to get in the Word! This study is written by my good friend and ministry partner, Lara Williams. I would probably not be writing Bible studies today if it were not for Lara. Back in 2011, I asked her if she would co-author a book I had on my heart but felt unable to write myself (I had a LOT of learning to do about the craft of writing). She said yes and 8 months later, we published Savoring Living Water (affiliate link). About a month after that, we finally met in person. Crazy how the internet connects.

Lara is an incredibly gifted writer, but she also walks with intimately with Jesus and this is evident in all her projects. All that to say, I’m super-excited to dive into Life Giver next week and I would LOVE for you to join me. In this 4-week Bible study, Lara teaches us how we can be life givers in our relationships. Below is an excerpt from this study.


We can probably all agree that forgiveness is best. Forgiveness, even of those who wrong us deeply, proves to be freedom for us. But there’s one little thing that often gets in the way: our feelings.

I’m a girl. And let me tell you. As a girl, I’ve got lots and lots of feelings. And I’ve got feelings about those feelings and feelings about those feelings. Ad infinitum. So, when someone wrongs me, lots of feelings come to the surface and beg my attention. They typically insist that I act vengeful with fingers pointing and a few “how dare you(s)” thrown in for added drama.

But the thing about feelings is that even though they are very real, and often justified, they don’t always lead us to the right action. Remember what Jeremiah said about our hearts? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). In fact, I don’t think my feelings have ever told me to forgive my enemies. Ever.

Yet Jesus commands forgiveness, for our good and His glory. And He means for it to be an act of our will, not necessarily an act of our emotions.

Forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. — Colossians 3:13

We have a choice. Regardless of our feelings, in Christ we have the choice to forgive even when we’re desperately hurting. And that choice will bring soul-blessing.

God gives us boundaries and commands to protect us. He loves us – perfectly and fully. He knows us – perfectly and fully. And because He designed us, He knows what will lead us to our most blessed existence. When it comes to relationships, we will give life to others when we choose to forgive, regardless.

How Do I Forgive?

The question becomes, “How do I forgive, especially when I’m hurting?” The answer? We turn to the One who forgives out of His amazing grace. We pray. We press hard into our Lord — the Forgiver of all sin. We seek refuge in Him and trust His covering. We meditate on what He says about forgiveness. We live authentic lives, allowing others to walk with us down the tearful road of releasing the debt we want another to pay. And then we believe God to do the heart-healing work that only He can do.

Feelings take time to line up with the willful forgiveness. But feelings eventually come. They will come. But until they do we command our soul towards obedience.

Forgiveness sets us free to love. It sets us free to give of ourselves without the need for others to do anything in return, because we’ve found fulness in our Lord. We see that everyone is the same — needy for a Healer and Redeemer. And when we see people through the lens of grace, unforgiveness has no place.

Moving Forward

Spend some time in honest conversation with the Lord. Confess any harbored unforgiveness. Tell God your honest feelings – He already knows. Then speak truth over those feelings. Declare the verses we meditated upon this week regarding forgiveness. You may want to seek out a trusted friend to pray for you and with you as you walk the road of forgiving another. But however you get there, release others from a debt that’s already been paid. Grace is the only road to becoming a life giver.


Join the 4-week Life Giver online study group!

  • WHEN: 9/10/2017 – 10/6/2017
  • WHERE: Bible Study Hub
  • HOW TO JOIN: Purchase your study for as little as $4.99, join the Facebook group, and dive into the conversation beginning next week!
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want the physical workbook, order your copy ASAP so you can get it before the study starts on Monday!

Who’s in? Who’s excited?!

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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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FREE Colossians Reading Plan and Scripture Print

I’m excited to announce the arrival of a new reading plan!

Join 9 Days in Colossians

It will be simple, flexible, and geared toward helping us get a quick overview study of the book of Colossians.

  • WHAT: Reading through Colossians (at a 10-15 verses a day pace)
  • WHEN: September 1-10
  • WHERE: The Bible Study Hub Facebook group
  • HOW TO JOIN: Fill out this form!

Once you sign up, I’ll send you a welcome packet via email which includes:

  • 9 day reading plan through Colossians
  • Printable reading plan bookmark
  • Printable Journal Pages tailored for the Pauline Epistles with study options if you want to go deeper
  • Free 4×6 Scripture print

 Are you in? Have you studied Colossians before? Share with us in the comments!

 

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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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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!