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Tag Archives | Bible reading

Find Hope in the Psalms

hope in the psalmsFeeling discouraged? Need a bit of hope? There is no better place to go to find hope and encouragement than God’s Word. And the book of Psalms is a great place to begin. (Note: This post is a giveaway! Read to the end to find out how to enter!)

Recently, I received a copy of a great new Bible study from my friend Pam Farrel. Pam is one of the authors of “Discovering Hope in the Psalms.” Pam and her coauthors, Jean E. Jones and Karla Dornacher, have created a truly creative Bible study experience. The material guides the reader to not only dig deep into 10 separate psalms, but it also helps the reader artistically express what she is learning and draws her into worship.

Below, as stated in the book’s introduction, is the authors’ purpose for writing:

Our desire to share the riches of hope from Psalms with you is the inspiration behind the creation of this journey. By the end of our time together, you’ll know how to pray and hope in dark times and how to rejoice and act wisely at all times. You’ll grasp eight hopes from Psalms that will draw you closer to God and will brace you in troubling times. You’ll confidently interpret the psalms and hold on to their messages as lifelines.

Even though this book is filled with creative ways to express and apply what we’re learning, this is not a “fluffy” study. The authors obviously want us to be filled with the meaty truth of God’s Word. What a great combination – a main dish of deep spiritual truth served with creative, expressive sides!

I have started this study myself. I plan to be sharing some of what I learn -and create! – here and on social media. It’s not too late for you to join me. Order your copy today and we can work along together! Or… Pam Farrel will be leading a study through the book live on Facebook. Follow this link to find out how to sign up! I’ll be there when I can.

Why the Psalms?

The book of Psalms is a collection of praises, prayers, and songs. Hebrew poets wrote them – many by David – under God’s inspiration over the course of about 1,000 years. The intent of the psalms is that God’s people would use them to worship Him.

Here’s a bit more from the study:

The Psalms extol God’s goodness and power. They voice our gratitude and hopes, our sorrows and longings. When we sing or pray them, they teach us eternal truths and commit us to godly actions and attitudes. They draw us near to God… Although worship is our gift to God, when we worship with psalms, something happens within us: Hope soars, and we are transformed. The psalms proclaim the hopes to which we have been called, and in our attempts to bless the living God, we find ourselves blessed.

Makes you want to dig into the Psalms doesn’t it? Also wanted to share with you a glimpse of one of the beautiful creative aspects of this study. Each week of study includes a full page illustration by Karla that creatively expresses that week’s Psalm. (The pics below illustrate the truth of Psalm 1. The color is mine!)

Psalm 1












This post is a giveaway! The authors and Harvest House Publishers have graciously made a copy available for me to send to one of you! The drawing for the winner will take place at noon central time on Wednesday, August 23rd. You can enter the drawing up to 3 times. Here’s how:

  1. Comment on this post and tell us which psalm is your favorite and why.
  2. Share this post on Facebook, then comment again here to let me know you shared.
  3. Share this post on Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram and comment again here to let me know you shared.

In order for your name to be entered multiple times, you must make each comment separately.





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3 Attitudes I Need to Approach God’s Word

God's WordI do a lot of reading. In addition to God’s Word, I read novels, cookbooks, blogs, articles, non-fiction books and more. Some of this reading is for fun. Other reading is for instruction or information. Some I approach casually. Other with skepticism. Some things I read might instruct my behavior. Other things I dismiss as irrelevant or even wrong.

But the Bible is different from anything else we might read. Unlike everything else, it was not written by man, but directly inspired by God Himself. God’s words, God’s heart, given to us. How should we approach the Bible? What attitudes are vital to not only read God’s Word, but to really hear it, to be shaped by it?

I need an attitude adjustment

  1. Humility – Far too often I approach God’s Word with some level pride. Pride in thinking I already know this passage. Pride that I don’t need what He has to say. Oh, but pride is a great deceiver, keeping me from everything God has for me in His Word. Do I really want God to teach me? To use me for His purposes? Then I must humbly allow Him to correct, rebuke, and train me through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way” (Psalm 25:9).
  2. Submission – Some days I take God’s Word far too casually. I read it and hear His gentle whisper to “tell” or “do” or “go” or “stop.” And I consider obedience. The Bible is God’s authority for my life. It is living, actively penetrating the deepest parts of my heart, mind, and soul to judge my attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and intentions. To make me more like Jesus. How dare I ever tell Him “no.”
  3. Anticipation – God’s Word is light and life and hope. It guides, delivers, and comforts. God’s laws are right and true and trustworthy. The Word of God gives wisdom and joy. I should run to read His Word each day, greatly anticipating the treasure I will find there. Sometimes I do, but not always.

God has reminded me today I need a little attitude adjustment. What about you? Do you approach God’s Word with humility, submission, and anticipation?

Lord God, adjust my attitude today. Forgive me of pride and foster a humble spirit within me. Help me submit to the authority of Your Word, so that I will live a life a full obedience to You. And grant me the joy of anticipation, always delighting in the discovery of Your Word. Amen.

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Why Do You Read the Bible?

Why do you read the Bible? If you and I had coffee together and I asked you that question, how would you answer?

Why Do Americans Read the Bible?

A 2016 study by the Barna Group shows that about 1/3 of Americans read the Bible at least once a week. The same study also cites why people read the Bible. Here’s a quick rundown of the top answers:

  • Brings me closer to God (55%)
  • To receive comfort (16%)
  • To find direction or an answer to a problem (16%)
  • Because I am supposed to (6%)

Why do I Read the Bible?

As I write this blog, I’m thinking about how I would answer this question. I mean, honestly answer this question. And you know what? I think my answer would depend on the day. Absolutely I want to be closer to God. But, some days I do read it because I know I should. Other days I need some godly direction or an answer for a specific problem. And on tough days, I just need some comfort.

And you know what? I think all those reasons are legitimate. God’s Word does give comfort, offer direction, and have answers for life today. And yes, sometimes we really should read our Bibles when we don’t necessarily want to, because Christian life requires discipline and purpose. We must “train ourselves for godliness”(1 Timothy 4:7-8).

While all those reasons and more are wrapped up in why I read the Bible, there is another reason. One I desire to be my primary reason.

I want God’s Word to shape me. To refine me. To make me more like Jesus.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

And as it does, all those other things will happen too. My intimacy with God will deepen and grow. His constant presence will comfort and guide me.

So, now it’s your turn. Why do you read the Bible? Maybe your current reason isn’t what you’d like it to be. Or maybe you don’t read the Bible regularly now. The best way to create a hunger for God’s Word to simply to begin to read it. Once you get a taste… (Psalm 34:8).

Why do you read the Bible?

If you’d like to begin to read the Bible but you aren’t sure how to get started, check out my free resources page. It is full of helps, including quiet time tips and Bible reading plans! 

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5 Reasons to Reboot Your Quiet Time

Quiet TimeDo you have a regular “quiet time?” You won’t find this term in the Bible, but Christians use it to refer to purposeful time spent alone with God. A time to hear from God and share your heart with Him. Jesus Himself set the example for us (Luke 5:16).

I’ve heard – and made – many excuses for not setting aside time in the day to spend with God. Busyness is probably the biggest culprit. Yes, life can be overwhelmingly busy. But we have control over many of the items on our calendar. How we spend much of our time is our choice. We can choose God.

Some of you are in a season of life where you truly have very little time to yourself. Maybe you are a caregiver or the mother of young children. Many life circumstances make carving out space for a regular quiet time more difficult, but with a bit of creativity you can claim some time, even if it’s just a few moments here and there. (See this post for some examples.)

And some of us who were once devoted to our daily quiet time may have realized we slowly fell away from this spiritual discipline until it’s no longer our regular habit. An abbreviated day here and a missed day there, and the next thing we know…

Quiet Time Reboot Challenge

I’m going to be honest with you. For decades I’ve been very committed to regular time with God, but the last few months have been extremely challenging for me. I’ve been traveling a lot and my parents have been ill. And I’ve allowed those things to impact the quality of my quiet time.

Many Christians make establishing a regular quiet time a New Year’s resolution. January 1st is always a good time to get back on track. But often, by this time of year, many of us have let that resolution slowly fall by the wayside. But we don’t have to wait for the New Year. We can reboot our quiet time now!

Not sure you’re ready to get back on track? Maybe we need some incentive to make regular quiet time a priority. Let’s remind ourselves of a few of the benefits of spending time with God.

5 Reasons to Reboot Your Quiet Time

  1. Spending regular time with God helps us know Him better, which fosters a deeper intimacy in our relationship.
  2. Listening to God through His Word and prayer helps us better understand His will in general and discover His specific direction for our lives.
  3. Time spent submitted and vulnerable before God gives Him an opportunity to accomplish His refining work in us.
  4. Sitting in God’s presence enables us to more fully experience the comfort, encouragement, peace, and joy He longs to give us.
  5. Purposeful time each day focused solely on God helps us keep our mind and heart on Him all day long.

November 1st Reboot

No time like NOW to start fresh on a commitment to spend time with God. Will you join me for a November 1st resolution? Let’s make a fresh commitment to regularly spend time with God and end 2016 with a spiritual bang instead of a whimper. Here are a couple of things you may find helpful in establishing or re-establishing a regular quiet time:

So… will you reboot with me? I’d love to hear from you about how your quiet time is going right now… if you need a reboot and why… and if you’ll reboot with me!

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Thankful I was Forced to Unplug

unplugMy phone blasted out a severe thunderstorm and tornado warning at 4:30 yesterday morning. I had been awake a few moments anyway, so I crawled out of bed. Since I knew we might have to “shelter in place,” I quickly took the dogs out to potty, fed them, then made some coffee. First things first.

The wind began to howl so I looked out the front windows. No rain yet, but I could see the trees whipping in the light from our front porch. Then it happened. About the time I took my first sip of java the lights went out. Everywhere.

We keep two battery operated lanterns for times such as this. I grabbed them both from the cabinet in the laundry room and took one to Wayne. He was in the bathroom getting ready for work.

On a usual morning I get up when Wayne heads into the kitchen so we can visit while he has breakfast. He leaves for work about 5:45. That’s when I sit at my desk with my Bible, journal, and coffee. After some time with the Lord – often rushed and never long enough – I open my laptop and get to work. Then some time late morning I get some exercise on the treadmill while I watch the news or something on my iPad.

Yesterday’s routine looked a little different. No electricity meant no internet. No electricity meant only so much battery power on the laptop and phone. No electricity meant no television and no treadmill. So, what was a plugged-in girl to do?

The unwanted unplug was a blessing in disguise

Bible by LanternWithout the ability to turn my attention to email or deadlines or Facebook, I lingered with God’s Word, reading and journaling by lantern light. Without power for the treadmill, I walked through our neighborhood. I purposefully choose not to listen to music or an audio book. Instead I talked to God about some things on my heart and mind.

And I worked to listen.

The power was out for about six hours this morning. When it did return, I was a bit disappointed. I actually felt grateful for the forced time to unplug. God blessed it. And it highlighted how noisy my life has become.

Email. Social media. Online research and study. Instant entertainment. All this “convenience” is deafening. And addicting. I will be totally honest with you. I had some difficult moments in those 6 hours. I tried to do a needed task or two on my phone when I should have simply turned it off too and completely soaked in the silence.

I believe God is asking me to unplug a lot more regularly for the sole purpose of plugging back in with Him. Not sure how often or how long or exactly what that looks like yet. But it’s coming. I’m going to pull the plug!

What about you? Has God been asking you to spend some time unplugged? If so, what will it look like for you?

Regular, quality time with God can be difficult. You may find these posts helpful:


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3 Steps to Help You Choose a New Bible

New BibleTime to choose a new Bible, but overwhelmed with the sheer volume of the choices available? Dozens of translations combined with a myriad of features yields hundreds – if not thousands – of specific Bibles to choose from. Selecting a new Bible can be a daunting task!

Before you throw your hands up in surrender, keep reading. This post will walk you through a simple 3-step process to help you choose the Bible that will best meet your needs.

Since many of you probably already have one or more Bibles, the first step is to determine why you need another Bible and which Bible that should be.

3 Steps to a New Bible!

  1. Determine Your Primary Purpose – How do you intend to use this new Bible? Your purpose will guide the next two steps. Maybe one of the following describes your intended purpose:
  • In-depth study
  • Devotional reading
  • Casual reading/simple enjoyment!

2. Choose the Translation – Unless you read Hebrew and Greek – the original language of the Bible – you must choose from one of the many English translations of the Bible. There are three basic levels or groups of translations. One of these groups will better align with your purpose than the others. Also, it’s always helpful to have more than one translation. You can compare the same passage in different translations for a greater understanding.

  • Word-for-Word (also known as Formal Equivalent) – These translations are the closest to the grammar and syntax of the original language as possible, but they can often sound wooden. Also this kind of translation makes no consideration for cultural changes. This kind of translation is a great choice for in-depth Bible study. (Ex: Amplified, NKJV, NAB, ESV, NASB. Note: NIV falls somewhere between the Formal and Dynamic Equivalent)
  • Thought-for-thought (also known as Dynamic Equivalent) – These translations work to keep the overall original thought rather than attempt a literal word for word translation. Although not as literally as accurate as the Formal Equivalent, they are much easier for 21st century westerners to understand. For instance, Dynamic Equivalent translations change idioms, figures of speech, and measurements into “equivalent” terms that we will understand. This kind of translation is still close enough to the original to be good for Bible study, but it can also be used for devotional reading. (Ex: NLT, CEV)
  • Paraphrase – this translation group departs the furthest from the original language but it provides a fresh reading experience. A paraphrase is more of a big idea-for-big idea translation. This translation group is fine for devotional reading but not a good idea for study. With the paraphrase’s “storytelling” format, it would be great for family devotions with young children. (Ex: The Message)
  1. Select the Features You Want – Ah, there is no end to the possible tools, special editions, and unique features you can get in the different Bible translations. Select the ones that best meet your needs and circumstances. By the way, at you can refine your Bible search by translation and features! Here is a sampling:
  • Study Bible – includes book introductions, character studies, notes, etc.
  • Tabs – helps you quickly find individual books
  • Cross-references – read related passages
  • Concordance – alphabetical index of words and where they are found in the Bible
  • Dictionary – definitions of Bible words and terms
  • Journaling space – empty wide margins on every page gives room to journal or draw
  • Large print – hard time reading tiny print? This may be for you!
  • Maps, charts, timelines – helps you step into Bible times
  • Devotional – will help you meditate on and apply the passages
  • Focus on a select audience like women, students, men, children
  • Parallel translations – shows more than one translation side-by-side

You’re almost there! Choose the translation based on your purpose. Then add in the features you’re most interested in. Congratulations on your new Bible!

What was the last Bible you purchased? Why did you choose that particular one?

Helpful articles and posts:



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3 Reasons to Stop Reading the Bible

3 reasons to Stop readingFaithfully reading and studying the Bible is hard. It requires commitment. It takes time away from other things. And the results and benefits are rarely instantaneous.

In fact, I even found 3 reasons to stop reading the Bible in the Bible itself. Check these out:

  1. Reading it makes us accountable (Luke 12:47-48; James 3:1) – The more we know about God, His will, and His ways, the more God expects from us in stewardship, worship, and discipleship.
  2. Reading it isn’t enough anyway (James 1:22-25) – Simply “listening” or reading is a waste of time. If we don’t obey it, we trick and delude ourselves.
  3. Reading it can be painful (Hebrews 4:21-13) – God’s Word is not “dead” text, just ink on a page. It is a living thing, the very breath of God breathed out. It has the supernatural ability to penetrate our hearts and judge our thoughts, laying everything bare and exposed.

Sounds like it would be better to let our Bibles just sit and collect dust on the shelf, doesn’t it? Yes, then we could be our own boss. We could decide what to do and when to do it. We could rely on ourselves and only on ourselves.

Yep. Certainly we would be better off. Wouldn’t we?

While I could launch into dozens of reasons to read and obey God’s Word, today only one is necessary. Knowledge of God’s Word leads us to eternal salvation.

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:14-17

Without Jesus Christ and the salvation that comes only through Him, we would be eternally doomed. God’s Word reveals Christ and His salvation and shows us how to follow Him. Reason enough.

What reasons have you heard to not read the Bible? What excuses have you used? If you read the Bible, why do you?

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Paul’s Life & Writings – 10 Week Bible Reading Plan

Not currently using a Bible reading plan? Start this one Monday and it will take you to the New Year!

Bible Reading planThe Apostle Paul’s life and writings dominate the New Testament. Much of doctrine of faith came from God through Paul’s pen. The “Roman Road,” the lavishness of God’s grace in Ephesians, God’s strength for us in trials, and the role of the church.

This 10-week Bible reading plan chronologically melds Paul’s life and ministry with his letters. The plan includes 5 days of reading per week, each roughly about 30-40 verses. The two “off” days give you plenty of time to catch up when needed, making this a worthwhile, but doable plan.

This Bible Reading Plan is the perfect length to take you through the end of 2015. Maybe life got in the way and your daily time in God’s Word fell to the wayside. Maybe you’re ready to commit to regularly being in God’s Word for the very first time. This plan is for you!

 Download and print the PDF. Feel free to share!

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3 Steps to Create a Hunger for the Bible

BibleThe people on the street crowded in tight around us. They stretched out their arms desperately wanting to snag a copy for themselves. In just a few hectic days, our short-term mission team gave away 10,000 Bibles to the spiritually hungry citizens of Moscow.

That was September 1991, roughly two weeks after an attempted coup in the USSR. Bible distribution in the Soviet Union had been limited and closely monitored for nearly a century. Only a relative few enjoyed the privilege of owning a Bible. But many more hungered for God’s Word.

Do you long for God’s Word like that? If you didn’t have a Bible would you stand in a line for hours to own one?

Whether or not we acknowledge the source of our hunger, we humans long to connect with our Creator, to intimately know the God of the universe. God satisfies this spiritual hunger of our souls through His inspired Word. He reveals Himself, His character, and His ways in the Bible.

We can develop an insatiable appetite for Scripture. God Himself will foster this hunger if we step out in obedience to pursue it. As we begin to take in God’s Word the more we will experience its power. The more we experience its power the more we will want to savor God’s Word again and again.

When we limit our intake of God’s Word, our desire for it diminishes. To develop an insatiable hunger for Scripture we must feast on it regularly. At first, this may mean more discipline than desire. But if we faithfully pursue a daily time in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will bless our obedience with a passion for Scripture. Soon our discipline will give way to desire.

My love affair with chocolate helps me understand this phenomenon. The more I indulge in its dark, creamy sweetness, the more of it I want. But the opposite is also true. The more I deprive myself of enjoying this special treat, the less I think about it.

These three steps will get us started in the right direction on an ongoing journey to deepen our desire for feasting on God’s Word and experiencing the glorious benefits.

  1. Make a Commitment – Yes, sticking to a commitment to be in the Bible daily will be hard, especially at first. It requires discipline and sacrifice. You may have to adjust your schedule or give up something, but the benefits are eternally great. (Quiet Time Tips)
  2. Develop a Plan – A haphazard approach to Bible intake will yield haphazard results. Time in the Bible must be planned and purposeful. Choose a reading plan that will be challenging but not overwhelming. If you don’t already read your Bible several times a week, don’t try to tackle the “Read the Whole Bible in a Year” plan. Evaluate where you are now and select a plan that is a step beyond that. Many plans schedule five days of reading a week, which gives you two days to “catch up.” I occasionally have days when I let life take over and miss my time with God. You will too.
  3. Savor & Soak – We must slow down our intake of Scripture so its truths can penetrate the hard crust of our hearts. “Slow” does not mean “less frequently.” Slow refers to our approach. Instead of continuing our often fast-paced, surface reading of God’s Word, we must take the time to seriously contemplate what God is saying to us through His Word. In addition to simply reading God’s Word, we can also meditate on it, allow it to prompt prayer, pray it back to God, and memorize it.

Do you long to long for God’s Word? Give God the opportunity to create that hunger in you. Make a commitment. Develop a plan. Savor and Soak!

Where are you in your journey with a love affair with God’s Word? Does it still feel like discipline? Can you just not get enough? Or are you somewhere in between?

You may also be interested in this post: 4 Truths the Bible Teaches About Itself

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4 Truths the Bible Teaches about Itself

BibleThe Bible was the first book ever printed. It also holds the distinction of being the best-selling book of all time. In fact, the Bible continues to be the top seller of the year – year after year – with about 25 million copies sold annually in the United States alone.

According to a 2006 New Yorker article by Daniel Radosh, research shows that 91% of American households own at least one Bible and the average household owns four. Reflecting on these statistics, Radosh wrote, “…Bible publishers manage to sell 25 million copies a year of a book that almost everybody already has.”

I just took an inventory of all the Bibles in our house. The result? Twenty-one Bibles in nine different translations.

That inventory does not include the numerous translations I can read online. Or on my phone. Abundant audio versions allow us to listen to the Bible in our cars, at the gym, or anywhere else we can take our MP3 players. Access to God’s Word today has never been greater or more varied.

Unfortunately, the numbers of those who actually read the Bible regularly do not reflect the high level of ownership and accessibility. Pollster George Gallup, Jr. has been widely quoted as saying, “Americans revere the Bible, but, by and large, they don’t read it.” Polls show that only about a third of American Christians read the Bible on their own one or more times each week. How physically healthy would we be if we ate less than once a week?

Are you a statistic? Let’s foster our desire to be in God’s Word by considering four key truths the Bible teaches about itself:

  1. The Bible is literally the words of God – Although physically recorded by the hands of men, every word was inspired by the Spirit of God. God breathed out His Word through humans for humans. (2 Timothy 3:16)
  2. The Bible is alive and active today – God’s Word is working in our lives and the lives of those around us. It is not static or bound by time. It crosses all cultural barriers, language differences, and geographical borders. (Hebrews 4:12)
  3. The Bible is a mirror for our spirits – The Holy Spirit wields God’s Word like a sword to pierce our hearts and reveal our sinful thoughts, attitudes, and motivations (Hebrews 4:12-13).
  4. The Bible is God’s tool for refinement – He lays it out beside our lives as a measuring rod to teach, correct, and equip us in preparation for God’s purposes (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

God longs to lovingly apply His Word like a balm to our souls, to heal our hurts, comfort our grief, and fill us with His joy. Yet often we fail to give Him the opportunity. If we really believe that the Bible is the very words of God to us and for us, then why don’t we read it? Why do we fail to taste its sweetness?

We’ve allowed our fast-food, high-speed internet culture to shape even the way we approach the Bible. I confess, I still sometimes allow the busyness of life to pressure me to get “in and out” of the Bible and on to my full day ahead. Yet to be truly affected by God’s Word, to be transformed by the Holy Scriptures, we must slow down. Linger over it. Savor every word. We cannot experience its earth shaking power on the run.

In Thursday’s post we will consider 3 steps to creating a hunger for God’s Word. Between now and then, let’s reflect on our desire for Scripture. Do we hunger? Do we only take it in when it’s convenient? Do we make time in God’s Word a priority?

Let’s do some honest sharing today. Where are you? How often do you take time to sit down and linger with your Bible?

Note: This blog was adapted from my book “Fed Up with Flat Faith: 10 Attitudes and Actions to Pump Up Your Faith”

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