January 8, 2010—The Blended Family that Didn’t Blend

Today’s Reading:  Gen. 25: 1-4, 1 Chron. 1:32:33, Gen, 25:5-6, 12-18, 1 Chron.1:28-31, 34, Gen. 25:19-26, 7-11

Wow!  Today’s reading was really short.  I guess stopping at the death of Abraham gave us time to reflect  on his life before we change gears and move to Jacob and Esau.

As I sat and read and re-read today’s section I kept thinking about Abraham and all the drama he had with his family.  In today’s world we would call Abraham’s situation a blended family, but from what I can tell, they were too much like oil and water to blend.  Here are the highlights:

  • Sarah and Hagar couldn’t stand each other
  • Ishmael was constantly ridiculing Isaac; so much so that Sarah sent him away when he was in his teens
  • Abraham got a new wife and/or concubine (today’s reading is confusing about that) after Sarah died and had six more sons
  • “Ishmael’s descendents lived in open hostility toward all their relatives.” (Gen 25:18)
  • Jacob and Esau, Abraham’s grandsons began their sibling rivalry in the womb

My husband Harry and I got married nine years ago.  He has two daughters and I have a son and two daughters.  Our youngest daughters actually set up our first date. All of our kids knew each other and liked each other before we got married so it has been easier for us to “blend” than many families whose parents marry when they are adults.  Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t perfect but I count my blessings everyday.

As I try to imagine Abraham’s world, the only word I can think of to describe it is “drama”!  The culture of that day didn’t play fair; everybody didn’t get an equal share.  From what I know as a parent in a blended family, treating each child as equally as possible is a critical element in the success of bringing two families together.  As the mom and step-mom in our huge family of 27 (includes 10 grandkids), it is my goal to have peace, harmony, and laughter in all of our times together.  It’s probably unrealistic, but it’s my desire.

From my viewpoint, a person who does not like drama, it seemed like Abraham had a tough family life, but from the last comment made about him it seems he had it all in perspective.  “Abraham lived for 175 years, and he died at a ripe old age, having lived a long and satisfying life.” (Genesis 25:7)

“A long and satisfying life”…isn’t that what we all want?  If you have a chance take a trip over to Hebrews 11:8-19 and find out why Abraham’s life was so satisfying.  My favorite part of this passage is “All these people (includes Abraham) died still believing what God had promised them.”  Lord, help me to believe your promises until the day I die and then I will have that satisfying life Abraham talked about!

One more thing, I was so glad to hear that Isaac AND Ishmael buried their father together.  I would like to think they sat around the fire and talked about all the good things they loved about their father.  What do you think happened?

Happy Friday!  Have a Wonderful Week-end!

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January 7, 2010–Abraham Regained His Position as One of my top ten Bible Heroes

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Genesis 21:8-23:20, Genesis 11:32, Genesis 24:1-67

When we left off yesterday I had grouped Abraham with the rest of the dysfunctionals, but today he  recovered his position as a Patriarch of my faith.

My thoughts on today’s  reading–There were so many things I wanted to share I had to list them in bullets:

  • I realized for the first time that Abraham actually was willing to sacrifice both of his children.  At the last minute he got a reprieve and did not have to sacrifice Isaac but he did sacrifice Ishmael. No Abraham did not have to kill Ishmael and burn him on an altar, but he did have to send him away and not get to be a part of his life for the good of God’s plan. In Genesis 21:12, God told Isaac not to be upset about Ishmael leaving because Isaac was the son through whom Abraham’s descendants would be counted.
  •  Abimelech, King of Gerar (the king who was going to marry Sarah because he thought Abraham was her brother) came back into Abraham’s life and the two men made a treaty to live peacefully together.  The king had been observing Abraham and came to the conclusion that, “that God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do.”  How wonderful would it be if the people in our neighborhood or office at work would say that about us!
  •  It seems like from observing Adam, Noah, and Abraham that God required three things from his chosen:
    • To listen for God to speak
    • To hear God when He spoke
    • To be obedient to God’s instructions
  •   Abraham was a man of character who wanted to pay his way.  He insisted on paying  for the family tomb to bury his wife Sarah even though he was offered it for free several times.
  • Isaac and Rebecca stories still happen today.  God is still in the match-making business.  I’ll have to tell you my story sometime!
  • Nose-rings aren’t something that today’s culture thought of.  Krista, I know you’ll love this one!
  • I want to be able to say these words of Abraham  at the end of my life: “The Lord is whose presence I have lived…” (Gen 24:40)
  • I can’t imagine allowing my young daughter to ride off into the desert on a camel with a man I just met yesterday, knowing I will probably never see her again.

 

 This is the seventh day of our journey.  As I look back on what I’ve learned, two scriptures come to mind.  No, they weren’t written during Abraham or Isaac’s lifetime, but I believe our omnipresent God had already set them in place as spiritual laws before the world was created.  These two scriptures help me to rest in the things I can’t explain:

Genesis 50:20– You (Satan) intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.  (Italics mine—in this instance Joseph was talking about his brothers, but harm and evil ultimately comes from the devil)

 Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

 Congratulations on completing your first week of the journey!

Thanking God for you! 

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January 6, 2010–And We Thought Our Families were Dysfunctional…

Today’s Scripture: Genesis 18:1-21:7

This was a very interesting read.  If I didn’t know better I would think this was the plot in the latest R rated movie or maybe an HBO Reality series!

Gen 18:20. So the Lord said, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant.  I am going down to see if their actions are a wicked as I have heard.  If not, I want to know.”

As I worked my way through today’s reading it seemed like all of today’s players were a little, ummm… dysfunctional. They seemed pretty wicked, including Lot and his daughters.  And Abraham and Sarah were right behind them.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The men of Sodom were beating Lot’s door down to have sex with his house guests
  • Lot thought he was doing a smart thing by giving his virgin daughters to these perverts at his door to protect his house guests
  • Lot’s daughters thought the only way to preserve their family line was to get their father drunk and have sex with him
  • Abraham lied about his wife Sarah AGAIN and put her in a position to possibly be forced to have sex with the King Abimelech of Gerar.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty good about my family right now!

There’s something I realized for the first time today.  The Ten Commandments weren’t given until approximately 1000 years after the flood.  The one thing they did have from Adam and Eve’s mistake in the Garden was the knowledge of good and evil. Did they override that knowledge?  Did God give us our instruction book, the Bible as a result of the sinful mortal flesh (Gen 6:3) of the early humans?

I don’t know the answers but I do know that from the days of Sodom until today, we needed a savior.  Thank you Lord for sending your Son, Jesus Christ to redeem humanity for our wickedness.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for Jesus!

January 5, 2010–Do You Really BELIEVE God?

Today’s Scripture:  Genesis15: 1-17:27 

I know it seems like I can’t get very far in each day’s reading before I “camp out” and get on my soap box.  Today is no different, but this scripture is one of my favorites, so I just can’t help it!  I’m sure you’ll be hearing that a lot before the year is over!  🙂

 Genesis 15:6—An Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted it to him as righteousness because of his faith.

 Abram Believed God. 

 A couple of years ago I read one of Beth Moore’s books called Believing God.  It simplified Genesis 15:6 for me. 

 Beth shared five things that we need to believe to be able to move from believing in God to BELIEVING GOD.

 We need to believe…

1. “God is who He says He is.”

2. “God can do what He says He can do.”

3. “I am who God says I am.”

4. “I can do all things through Christ.”

5. “God’s Word is alive and active in me.”

 

Believing God is such a foundational truth in the life of a Christian that the Lord put it in the Bible three more times:  Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, and James 2:23.

The first time I remember this scripture becoming real to me was many years ago when I was playing the organ in church.  It was a Sunday morning and we were in the middle of the worship service and my eyes locked on to this woman out in the congregation and almost immediately my heart was filled with compassion for her.  I prayed for her as I was playing the organ and then I felt this urge to get off the organ bench and go pray with her.  Immediately I thought. “I can’t do that; everyone will look at me.”  They’ll think I’m trying to be super-spiritual!

 I thought for a minute…

  • What this my idea?  No, I would never think of that.
  • Was this in line with God’s Word?  I think so.
  • Did I feel as if the Holy Spirit was speaking to me?  Yes.

 All of a sudden this scripture (Gen.15:6) came to mind.  I’m sure I didn’t know the address; I never know the address…

I felt the Holy Spirit reassuring me:

Dianne–

 If  you are doing this because you

  • believe Me
  • believe I can do anything
  • believe you are my child
  • believe you can do anything if I enable you to do it
  • believe you are hearing Me because My Word is alive and active in you

 Then, even if you didn’t hear everything exactly right or say everything exactly right, I will count it to you as righteousness because of your obedience to act by faith.  And, “Oh, by the way, I’ll clean up any mistakes you make!”  So, go ahead and believe Me.  This was the point in my relationship with Jesus where I began to move from just believing in God to BELIEVING GOD!

Can you share a time with you moved from believing in God to believing God?  

 Blessings in Jesus!

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January 4, 2010—Lose the Pride, Find the Unity

If you’re behind, don’t worry about catching up; just complete the current day’s reading.  God is big enough to keep you from  missing anything you really need to know!  You can do this!

I’m believing in you! 

Today’s scriptures:  Gen. 11:1-26, 1 Chron. 1:24-27, Gen. 11:27-14:24

 There are so many amazing truths in today’s reading; I am relying on you to help me find them all, but I was stopped in my tracks by the first nine verses.

 Here are two lessons I learned from the Tower of Babel.

 1. Pride will send you away from God and from the people you love–In Gen. 11:4, Noah’s descendants said, Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky.  One   meaning for the Hebrew word in the original language for “sky” was heaven, as in the abode of God.  From the commentaries I read it seemed as though these folks thought building a tower to the heavens would get them closer to God and make them famous, like God.  But as they were physically trying to move closer to God, their impure motives ultimately moved them away from God AND the people they loved.

 2. Nothing is impossible when people are united. After reading the story of the Tower of Babel, I think unity, which can be further defined as speaking the same language (understanding where another person is coming from), is the most powerful human tool we have on this earth.  It is so powerful that God watched and said, (my paraphrase) “…we better do something, these folks are united and they are speaking the same language.  With this going for them they can accomplish anything they set out to do!”   

 King David said in Psalm 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! (NIV) And the Apostle Paul said in Romans 12:18 As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone (GWT). )  What could we do in this new decade if we just took the advice of these two men who are still affecting the world today by their divine, God-given wisdom.

 Unity does not come easy; it has to be fought and sacrificed for.  The funny thing is the biggest sacrifice we will have to make to have unity is our pride (wow! What a connection!) Replacing unity for pride in families, friendships, churches, communities, and nations could change the world!  Wait, just unity in families could change the world.

Join with me in a commitment to make 2010 a Romans 12:18 year! 

The Bottom Line:  Lose the Pride, Find the Unity

Have a  Blessed  Day!

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January 3, 2010–If I Have Been on That Ark I May Have Jumped Overboard!

Today’s Reading:  Gen 7:1-10:5, 1 Chron 1:5-7, Gen 10:6-20, 1 Chron 1:8-16, Gen 10:21-30, 1 Chron 1:17-23, Gen 10:31-32

I just don’t think I could have survived!  From my calculations (don’t quote me because I’m not very good at math), Noah and his family were on that boat for twelve and a half months.  Twelve and a half months with…

  • No baths (I couldn’t make it one week without a bath)
  • All those animals (poop, urine, slobber…can I say stink!!)
  • Reptiles (frogs, lizards, and snakes) I would have had a heart attack
  • No privacy (just think about it.  There were young, hormonal men on that boat)
  • He said, she said/meow-meow (can you imagine how they must’ve gotten on each other’s nerves)
  • (SAD)Seasonal Affective Disorder (12.5 months with no sunlight and no Prozac—the animals were probably as depressed as the people)

I would like to publicly thank Noah and his family for saving the human race!  They made a huge sacrifice for us!  I don’t think I could have done it!

Can you imagine how they must have felt the day they walked off that boat?  Most of us would have probably kissed the ground, but not Noah; he immediately built an altar to his Lord.  God was pleased with Noah’s offering and made a promise that is still in effect today:

“I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood.  I will never again destroy all living things.  As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” (Gen.8:21-22)

The next time you see a rainbow, take a minute to remember the covenant that your Heavenly Father made with Noah and you. Because of the rainbow neither Noah nor anyone since has had to worry that God is going to destroy the earth with water. Can you imagine the first time it rained after Noah and his family got off the ark?  They probably thought, “Where’s the boat?  Here we go again.”–Remember it had never rained before the flood.  Our all-knowing God knew they would be afraid, so He gave them a sign-a rainbow.  That’s just amazing!

Has there ever been a time when God knew you would be afraid so he gave you a sign so that you could make it through?

I remember a time about 15 years ago when I was going through a difficult time financially.  I was literally wondering what I was going to do and if God had forgotten me.  One Saturday there was a knock on the door and a friend from my church began to unload $200 worth of groceries.  I had said nothing to anyone about our need.  For me that was a sign from God that He was with me, He knew everything that was going and that I could make it through.  It was also a sign to my children that God cared about us.  I will never forget that day.

Have a wonderful Lord’s Day!

Praying for you!

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January 2, 2010–It’s only day two and I have so many questions!

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I hope you took the time to check back in yesterday and read all the comments.  I am thrilled with the richness of the discussions!  Personally applying what we’re learning is what this year is all about.  Keep those comments coming!                         

 Genesis 4:1-26, Genesis 5:1-32, 1 Chronicles 1:1-4, Genesis 6:1-22

Today’s reading leaves me with many questions.  It would be very easy, especially if you’re an analytical thinker to get bogged down in thoughts like: who did Cain think was going to kill him (Gen. 4:14), where did Cain’s wife come from (Gen. 4:17), and who are the sons of God (Gen. 6:2). 

There are two things you can do when you have these questions:

1. Do your research.  There are many free resources.  Here are a few that I use:

2. If you don’t have the time to dig for the answers, then make a note of the question in the inside front cover of your Bible, do your research later and rest in the confidence that God is God and He will reveal these things to you when you need to know them.

Last year when I read the passage about Cain having sexual relations with his wife (Gen 4:17), I wrote a note in the margin, “where did Cain’s wife come from?”  When I began reading this passage today, I thought, “I need to know this.” So I went to some resources I trust— Resources that believe the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of the Living God and looked for some answers.  Here’s the link to the interesting information I found.  If you have time, check it out. 

Where did Cain Get his Wife?

The passage that touched my heart today was in Genesis 6: 5-8

 The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.
 But Noah found favor with the Lord.

 It would be easy for me to compare Noah’s day to the 21st Century, but that’s not what went through my head.  My heart felt so sad when I read verse 7, And the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth.  It broke his heart.  I wondered, “How many times have I broken the heart of God?”  I whispered to Him, “Father, forgive me for breaking your heart.  I hope you aren’t sorry you made me.”  And then I read verse 8:

 But Noah found favor with the Lord.

Can you imagine God looking down and saying, ______________ (insert your name) was a righteous man/woman, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he/she walked in close fellowship with Me. (Genesis 6:9, italics added)

 Dear Heavenly Father,

This is my goal for 2010, to  live in Your favor, be found blameless (thanks to the sacrifice Jesus made for me) and to walk in close fellowship with You!

In Jesus’ Name!

Amen and Amen

** What new nuggets of information, biblical truths, and personal applications did you find in today’s reading?

Thanking God for you!

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January 1, 2010–In the Beginning God…Genesis 1:1


Happy New Year! As I’ve anticipated this first post, the phrase from Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God” has been constantly going through my head.  It’s funny that the first three words of the Bible draw a line in the sand and cause you to ask yourself:

“Do I really believe God was there in the very beginning?”

The answer is either “yes” or “no”; not maybe or sometimes.  I know I’m talking about absolute truth in a world that makes its truth up as it goes… My answer is yes. I do believe literally that God has always been and He is the One who spoke the world into existence.

Let’s make this personal, was God there at your beginning?  Was He there the day you were conceived, the day you were born, the day you were abused or mistreated, the day you lost a loved one, the day you got married or your first child was born, the day you ___________?  The hardest part of reading the Bible is applying it to our lives.  It’s easy to read it as a theory but to say “God said it, I believe it and I’ll stake my life on it” is another story entirely.  What we’re really saying when we say “yes” and mean it is “God, since you were there in the beginning, I trust you with my past, present and my future!”

In the first chapter of Genesis I counted the phrase “Then God said” nine times and in that same chapter the phrase “and that’s what happened” was said six times.

My friends, can we take hold of this powerful truth:  God said it and it happened!

Can we believe this in the depth of our souls?

God was there in the beginning and EVERYTHING God said happened!  God spoke YOU into existence!

Thank you Jesus for being at all my beginnings!  I trust you!

Amen and Amen

I’m praying for you!  Happy New Year!

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Word of God Speak

 There are only 5 days until the “2010, Journey to Know Him More” begins. Whether you’ve prayed about this for weeks and made a serious commitment or today is the first time you’ve heard of “the journey”; come and go with us! 

One Word from the living God and you’ll be changed forever.  YOU can hear Him, if you build a relationship with Him and that’s what the “journey” is all about.

One Chronological Bible +365 days @ 15 minutes a day= Knowing the character, personality, and heart of the God of the Universe.  Wow!

As January 1, 2010 is quickly approaching, the enormity of a 365-day journey is a little scary; I would definitely say you and I have set a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).  But it will just be another thing on our to-do list unless the Word of God speaks to us and through us.  So, I’d like to ask God to anoint us to hear Him speak:

Father God, I pray right now for each person who has planned to take this journey and for each person You want to take this journey who hasn’t yet said yes; maybe they haven’t even heard about it; call them, pursue them, make your plans clear to them.

Holy Spirit, teach us how to hear you.  Speak loudly Lord.  Draw us to your Word.  Jesus, give us supernatural determination to know You!

Jesus, help us not to quit!  Even it we miss a few days, help us to overcome our tendency to think we’ve missed too much so we’ll just quit.  Help us to just move to the current date and expect you to speak on that day.  This is not an exercise in perfection, but an experience to Know YOU.

I speak against the enemy of our soul who does not want any of us to do this—you are not welcome here!  “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” (Philippians 4:13)

Lord, change us with your Word!  We surrender to you.  Help us to be compelled to write down what you say and share it with others.

Holy Spirit, I pray that you will not only speak to each of us, but make us willing to share what you are speaking on the daily blog posts.  Lord, I know you have called me to lead this journey, but I know so well that You can and will speak through anyone who is willing to be obedient to share.  I thank you in advance for the active participation we will experience on this journey.

Jesus, even though we’re from all over the world and don’t know each other, help us to connect with You as our glue.  I pray that our time together is a place where the Fruit of the Spirit is practiced (Galatians 5:22) and where love, acceptance, and forgiveness is felt by everyone.

Father, I dedicate this Journey, this blog, and this year to Your Glory, honor and praise!

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

dianneguthmuller.wordpress.com

**Please take 3 minutes and listen to this song by Mercy Me.  For me, it’s a continuation of the above prayer.

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Going “Primal” in 2010

 

Through a series of “coincidences” I received a copy of Mark Batterson’s new book, Primal three weeks before today’s release date.  I had previously read Mark’s book, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day and also enjoy reading his blog several times a week, so when the opportunity came to get Mark’s new book before it was released to the book stores I got really excited!

Reading Primal was a divine appointment for me.  I know it was the Holy Spirit who set this up.  Most of you know that in January I will be the tour guide of the “2010 Journey to Know Him More”, an interactive, online Bible study that takes a journey through the One-Year Chronological Bible in 365 days. I’ve been a Christian for 40 years, but just this past year I began to look for the Simple Life of a Christian; the life that Jesus spoke about in the gospels.  That search led me to the Great Commandment. The “Journey to Know Him More” is just one of the outcomes of that search. So for me Primal is a tool God is using to cause me to search harder and dig deeper to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

In Primal, Mark uncovers what he believes to be the primal problem of the church (see quote #3 below) and shares his primal solution as he walks the reader through an easy-to-follow explanation of the Great Commandment, using scripture, nature, science, and human behavior to simplify the authentic Christian life.

Below are 10 quotes from Primal that are impacting my thoughts, prayers and plans for this New Year:

1.  We have accepted a form of Christianity that is more educated but less powerful, more civilized but less compassionate, more acceptable but less authentic than that which our spiritual ancestors   practiced.

 2.  There may be ways of doing church that we haven’t figured out yet. 

 3.  Our primal problem is we aren’t great at the Great Commandment (Mark. 12: 28-30).

 4.  The quest for the lost soul of Christianity begins with rediscovering what it means to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

 5.  You cannot listen to just half of what the Holy Spirit has to say.  It’s a package deal.  If you aren’t willing to listen to everything He has to say, you won’t hear anything He has to say.  If you tune out His convicting voice, you won’t hear His comforting voice or guiding voice either. Tagging onto Mark’s words, “I don’t want to be a professional Christian; I want to love the Lord with all my heart all my soul”.  

   A good test of this is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my heart break for the things that break the heart of God?
  • Is my soul full of wonder and flooded with the Glory of God, awed by beauty and mystery, a soul that hallows God above all else?

6.  For better or worse your life is your unique translation.  Just like the Septuagint or King James Version, your life translates Scripture into a language that those around you can read.  God doesn’t just want to speak to you through Scripture; He wants to speak through you.  He wants to write His-story through our life.  And Scripture is the script.

                      Read it.  Meditate on it.  Then live it out.

7.  Your imagination is capable of far more than you imagine.  Yet, somewhere along the way, most of us stop living out of imagination and start living out of memory.  We stop creating the future and start repeating the past. And that is the day we stop living and start dying.  Why?  Because we stop learning.

8.  One God idea has the potential to make more of a difference than a thousand good ideas.  Take yours captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5- “I never thought about this scripture in this way before!”).

9.  Some people spend their entire lives getting ready for what God wants them to do.  But they never end up doing it because they never come to the realization that they’ll never be ready.

                         To stay energized—stay in the will of God.

10.  We all want our lives to be about something bigger than us, more important than us, and longer lasting than us.  And that is exactly what God wants for you.  But that isn’t the ultimate goal.  Loving God  is.  And if you learn to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, then you life will exceed your wildest expectations.  Why?  Because His love will be reflected in your life.

Can a short book about one scripture in the Bible be life changing?  I think so. This book has enlarged my thinking on what it means to love God. Mark’s intellectual and spiritual perspective left me saying “Wow! I want to love like this!”

You know you’ve just finished a good book when you’re sad that it’s over.  But, you know you’ve just finished a great book when you are better when it’s over.  Mark Batterson’s new book Primal, is one of those great books.

I would highly recommend Primal.  If you’re taking “The Journey,” it would be the perfect companion book to your One-Year Chronological Bible. 

Here’s the link to the publisher: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781601421319

Thanking God for You!

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