faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

The Wall That God Built

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What is your part of the wall that God built?

God made sure that the walls for His temple were built back in the Old Testament by Solomon, King David’s son.  Later the city and its walls are destroyed.  God made sure the wall was rebuilt in the book of Nehemiah.  (The photo shows part of the wall rebuilt by Nehemiah.) When Nehemiah was chosen by God to rebuild the wall, each family was responsible for their part of the wall.   They took  stones from the rubble, and rebuilt the wall.  Nehemiah was the leader who made sure the job was done.  (This past weekend, our preacher spoke on the book of “Nehemiah” and said that it is a great study on leadership.)

The walls around Jerusalem have been destroyed and re-built several times throughout history.  Now Jesus is building His Kingdom through His believers.  We each are responsible for our own part. God gave each of us a task.

What is your part in building God’s Kingdom? 

Some of us are prayer warriors.  Some of us are leaders like Nehemiah who can organize people and make the plans to get the job done.  Some of us are teachers or journalists who tell the truth.  Some of us are protectors.  Some of us are skilled laborers.  Some of us have the financial resources to help.

What role do you identify with?

If you read the book of “Nehemiah”, you will see each of these roles played out in various people.  A brother of Nehemiah and some men from Judah are like journalists who bring news to Nehemiah about what is happening in Jerusalem.  Nehemiah is the leader who takes on the job to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall.  Nehemiah is also a prayer warrior, which probably all leaders should be.  The King provides the financial resources.  The people of Jerusalem provide the skilled labor, and some are protectors who are prepared to fight to protect the workers and families.

That wall gets built! The people praise God and worship Him. They read the Scriptures.  Then there is celebration with food and drink!

God is building His Kingdom, preparing for the day that Jesus will return.  When He does, we will be celebrating!  But first we each are workers, working on our part of His Kingdom.  One part is preparing ourselves and learning Scripture, so we are ready when Jesus returns.  Another part is helping as many people as we can to join the Kingdom.  You don’t have to do everything to get people into the Kingdom; you just need to do your part.

I am a teacher.

How about you?  What is your part?

If you would like to learn more about the book of Nehemiah, I recommend this Bible study –“Nehemiah” by Kelly Minter.  I found this study to be very interesting and very helpful.  I learned a lot about Biblical history, and I learned a lot about myself.  You might be surprised what you can learn from the book of “Nehemiah”.

 

Join me and other God-sized dreamers at the Dream Together link-up.

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New Books

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There are several really good Christian books that have recently been published, or are going to be available in days. 

You need to know what books these are, and get your hands on some of them!  Maybe all of them! I already have some of these books, and I have a pre-order on a couple.

You don’t want to miss these!

Unashamed by Christine Caine

Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller

Flourish by Margaret Feinberg

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

Maybe you noticed that all these books are written by amazing women!  I am a big fan of these ladies, all Christians, and all amazing teachers and writers.  They all have a different focus to their writing.  So in case you don’t know some of them, I will give a brief description, and links where you can find out more. 

So here goes! –

->Christine Caine is from Australia.  She is the founder of the charity A21, which rescues people who have been sex or slave trafficked.  She focuses on getting better, gaining strength, being positive, and encouraging in all her writing.  I just finished the small group study for Unashamed, and it is awesome!  You may think you don’t have shame in your life, but read this book, or do the study and you may very well find some hidden shame.  Her study helps you push shame out of your life.

For more information about Unashamed by Christine Caine –

—      Go to Lifeway and Bible Gateway.

->Margaret Feinberg helps people see who God is.  She searches for the meaning behind the words and phrases God uses in Scripture.  She always brings out new meanings I never knew before.  I have read many of her books.  I have just started reading her new book, Flourish.  I had it on pre-order and just got it this week.

For more information about Flourish by Margaret Feinberg –

—      Go to Margaret’s website or Amazon.

->Shelly Miller may be new to you, because Rhythms of Rest is her first book!  I have already started reading it too. (Yes I always read several books at the same time.) Shelly focuses her writing online and in her book on Sabbath rest.  This is not the Old Testament kind of Sabbath.  There aren’t a lot of rules to follow.  This Sabbath she talks about, is to claim the gift from God of Sabbath rest.  She explains in her book how to practice Sabbath, and the benefits you get from it.  God loves us, and He wants us to have rest.

For more information on Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller –

—    Go to Amazon and Shelly’s own website Amazon has a great price on the pre-order!  And find even more on Pinterest!

->Beth Moore is famous, so you probably know her, but this is a new type of book for her.  Beth writes in depth Bible studies and Christian books that teach about the Bible and about being a good Christian.  The Undoing of Saint Silvanus is Beth’s first fiction book!  I have this on pre-order.  I do not want to miss this book!  For information —

    Go to Amazon or Lifeway for the pre-order.

I bet you are going to love these books!

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Reasons for Prayer

Many of us pray when we or family, or a close friend, are upset, hurt, sick, or unemployed. But God wants to hear from us during the good times too.

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Prayer should not be just “Help me” prayers. If a friend only hears from you when you need something, you may lose a friend, or they might just avoid your phone calls.

If you don’t want God to “avoid your phone calls”, by not answering your prayers, then you need to pray even when you are not desperately in need.

Prayers of thanks can be a daily time to appreciate all God does for you.  I pray every day, but saying “thank you” to God actually makes me feel happier.  A prayer of hello every morning puts God first in my mind and in the start of my day. Both of these prayers let God know that you are listening to Him.

I believe that with so many serious problems in the world today, that we all need to be praying beyond our family and friends.  Pray for your neighborhood and the people who live there.  Pray for your city, and the decision makers in city government.  Pray for your state, and the state government

Pray for your country, the leaders, the military, and the Supreme Court. 

When we complain about government decisions or lack of action, we need to pray about it.  Complaining does not change anything.  I know this, but I still find it hard not to complain.  I wonder if I can remember to say a prayer over each complaint. That’s a good challenge for me, because complaining is just a waste of time, but prayer changes things!

Be patient waiting for God to answer your prayers. 

Don’t lose your faith just because the answer takes a long time.  I have felt great joy when a prayer is answered even if it took several years to see the results! It is helpful to remember there may be other factors and other people delaying the results.  God won’t force people to do something they don’t want to.  He may need to nudge people several times if they are procrastinating or reluctant to comply.  There may be a series of events that must happen before your request can be granted.  Be patient with God; He is always patient with you.

Even if God answers your prayer with a “no”, thank Him for listening, and ask Him again if it is very important to you, or ask Him to help you accept the “no” answer.  Yes, I have gotten my share of “no’s” from God, but I have also had many prayers answered, some in amazingly awesome ways that I never could have expected!

How much time do we need to spend in prayer?

Most of us do not pray enough.  I know I don’t.  So I think we all need to pray more.  There are some people who spend 3 hours praying on certain days, like Saturday or Sunday.    Most of us can’t pray that much at one time, but we can pray more than we are now.  For example, if you add 5 minutes in the morning when you wake up, 5 minutes during lunch, 5 minutes while driving, 5 minutes before dinner, and 10 minutes before bed.  That alone, adds 30 minutes of prayer to your day. 

So I am giving myself the challenge to stop and pray for 5 minutes several times each day.  I challenge you to do the same. 

The amount of time we pray is not the issue.  What is important is that we take the time to pray at various times each and every day.  God needs to be on our mind and in our heart every day.  You just might get more results from your prayers.

If you want something to encourage you to pray more, I highly recommend the movie “War Room”.  It is now available in DVD and Blu-rayMy husband and I saw the movie at the theater, and liked it so much, we bought a DVD copy.  The movie is about a family falling apart, and about the battle all Christians fight.

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Star Struck

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This is my book review of “Star Struck” by Dr. David Bradstreet.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I learned so much!

So that you understand the caliber of the information in “Star Struck”, you should know more about the author 

Dr. David Bradstreet is a professor of Eastern University in PA, a Christian university, and he is chair of the Astronomy and Physics Department, as well as the director of the David H. Bradstreet Observatory and Julia Fowler Planetarium.  Dr. Bradstreet earned an MS and PhD in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Pennsylvania and has worked with NASA, and the National Science Foundation.  In 2014 the International Astronomical Union named the asteroid 5826 Bradstreet in honor of Dr. Bradstreet’s work in binary stars.  So this guy knows a lot about stars and space!  That’s why this book is so interesting!

I learned a lot about space, and planets and stars, but I also learned about the history of how we saw the universe across time, and how far we have come in space travel.  For instance, I did not know that we had sent so many satellites and rockets into space.  There are hundreds of satellites orbiting in space, providing weather reports, transmitting TV shows, and connecting cell phones.  Did you know that NASA has a rover on Mars, collecting and analyzing rocks in its chemical lab?

Voyager 1 left Florida in 1977, and took 35 years to travel past our solar system, and now will travel through our Milky Way galaxy for the rest of its life, never reaching the end.  The universe has more left for us to investigate, than the total of everything we already know about it! 

What makes this book more than a lesson in astronomy, is how Dr. Bradstreet relates what he knows about astronomy with God. 

The author is a Christian who believes that learning about science, tells us about God.  After all, God created the universe!

Are you familiar with this song? “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds thy hands have made; I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed.” (How Great Thou Art) (English Translation by Stuart K. Hine, 1899 – 1989)(Copyright © 1953 The Stuart Hine Trust)  This is how Dr. Bradstreet sees the universe.  He sees the beauty and intricate design of God’s creation.

Dr. Bradstreet believes that God created the heavens and the earth.  He believes that God created time and space and everything, from nothingness!  He quotes Psalm 19:1, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

Yes, Dr. Bradstreet is a scientist and a Christian and he blends together these two studies of astronomy and God quite well.  I will be reading this book again so I can savor the relationship between God’s creation, and God Himself.

I hope you decide to read it too.

The book “Star Struck” is available in paperback, e-book and audio format from Zondervan publishing and Amazon.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher Zondervan via www.NetGalley.com in order to write an honest review.

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Are You Debt Free?

I know it seems impossible to ever be debt free.  

But we can be debt free in some ways.

Many homeowners wish for a day when there would be a “0” balance on their mortgage!

Most of us believe this will never happen (me included).

But just for now, think about what you would do if your bank wiped out your debt, and said your mortgage balance was “Zero”. 

Would you throw a party?  Scream like crazy? Thank the Lord? Maybe all three and even more!  Would you be happy for the rest of your life? Excited about planning what to do with all that money?

Or can you imagine that you might continue to pay your mortgage?

That would be crazy right?

But maybe you just can’t believe that the bank would really declare your mortgage balance to be zero.  Maybe you don’t think you deserve to have your mortgage wiped clear.  You know, because you were late on a few payments.

Maybe you are afraid of how you would use the extra money, and what God would want you to do with all that money.

Does this sound as crazy to you as it does to me?

Yet don’t many of us do this with Jesus, when God says our sins and shame are gone?

Don’t many of us still act like sinners, because we feel ashamed of our past, and can’t believe that Jesus would wipe our sins away and declare our debt to God to be “Zero”?

We might have celebrated and thanked God when we were baptized, but shouldn’t we be happy for the rest of our life and be thankful to God every day?

Which is worth more?

Having your mortgage debt wiped away? Or having all your sins wiped away?

Yeah, having our sins wiped away is worth so much more! 

So shouldn’t we be living an awesome life, full of love, joy, peace, kindness and so much more?

Shouldn’t we be doing good things for the rest of our life?  Just like we would give some of our money to charity and other good causes if our mortgage was gone?  Shouldn’t we be praising Jesus to everyone we know and get to know?  Just like we would recommend our bank and praise them to everyone we know, because they wiped out our debt?

I know, it is hard, to wrap our brain around the idea of having our sins and shame be wiped out, gone forever.

So would it help to think of our sins as a debt, that Jesus wiped clean? 

Think of it as a debt that we no longer owe, and is forgotten, gone from all records.  A debt wiped clean, so that it gives us more ability to do good.

That sounds easier to me. 

I can think of my sins gone, as giving me more love and happiness to share.

I can think of my sins gone, giving me more time to spend with family and friends and church, because I don’t have to work so hard to pay off my debt. 

That debt is gone! 

Wow! What a weight off my shoulders!  I feel free!  I feel happy, even joyful! 

Now that is how I should live the rest of my life!

How about you?

Just so you know, you saw this first on my blog FaithCounts.Wordpress.com

And if you haven’t been baptized yet, that is easy to fix. 

Go to a church and tell them you want to be baptized.  I would suggest you go to a Methodist or non-denominational church, because they generally aren’t as picky about rules and requirements.  But if you prefer, you can certainly go to any of the other Christian churches.  Ask them what you have to do to be baptized.  At the church I attend (Tomoka Christian Church), all you have to do is ask to be baptized, set up a time, and show up.  In fact they had open baptisms at the beach several times this summer.  All you had to do is show up and tell them you wanted to be baptized.  So why not?  You can do that.  Then your sins will be wiped away, and your debt to God will be gone.  Awesome!

 

 

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What would you do if…

What would you do if you were dying?

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I actually have thought about this several times in my life, especially when I was battling cancer.  Now that I am cancer-free, I find myself thinking about this again.

What would I change about my life if I was dying?  

Assuming I had several months to live, this is what I would change –

I would stop writing my blog on a regular basis, and just post occasionally when I had something important to say.  I enjoy writing my blog, but it does take up a lot of time.

I would spend more time doing things I enjoy and never get enough of!  For me that would be sitting on the beach, walking in botanical gardens, listening to birds sing, having fresh flowers on my kitchen table, eating my favorite foods (even if they are not that healthy), and spending more time with my husband.  I do all these things now, but I would do them more often, and plan to do them on a daily basis.

I would shop less, exercise less, stop going to meetings of any kind, sleep less, and watch TV less.

I can’t decide if I would read more, or read less.  I love to read!  I enjoy learning new things.  But reading can be a waste of time.  So I think my answer would be to read less and pick only the best books to read.

I would give away things I don’t really need – books from my bookshelves, jewelry, games, music CDs, and movies.

I would call each of my family members and each of my good friends and tell them anything I need them to know (like I really love you a lot!), and give them advice that I think is important for them, and tell them what I think their good points are, and tell them what I would like them to do for me now and after I am gone.  If anything is too hard to say out loud, then I would write them a letter.

I would pray more.  I would donate more money.  I would read the Bible more.  These are things that are important that I always intend to do more, but don’t always get done.

It is interesting what changes I would make.  It makes me wonder why I waste so much time, and why don’t I do what I enjoy more often? This fits in with my One Word for this year “Re-focus”.  It is also being more intentional with how I live my life. 

Maybe I need to make some changes in my life now. 

So this week, I could take a walk in nature, go to the beach, watch less TV, bake and eat brownies, give away some things I don’t need anymore, and call one family member or friend I haven’t seen in a while, and donate money to a charity.

So what changes would you make in your life if you were dying?  Maybe you need to make some of those changes in your life now, too.

What is one change you want to make in your life now?

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The Mom Quilt

This is my book review of “The Mom Quilt

(stitching together stories of motherhood).

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This is the reason I got involved in this book project.–

All profits from the sale of this book go to the charity “The Mercy House” in Kenya, which provides a safe home for young pregnant ladies to live, give birth, and set up their life so each can raise their child.  The proceeds from this book have already helped build a well for clean water for this community. 

 I wanted to help the young pregnant ladies at “The Mercy House” keep their babies and learn how to support their young family.  I volunteered to write one of the stories in this book.  I was so happy when a paperback copy of the book became available, so I could purchase one for my bookshelves at home.  I was happy to do that to help raise funds for the children and mothers of “The Mercy House”.

So when I decided to start reading the stories in the book, I was amazed!  So many women (63) volunteered their time to write about their experiences being a mother.  There are so many different ways to be a mother, and so many different experiences.  I found every story to be compelling!  Some women talk about joy, some about responsibilities, some about health problems with the baby, some even about losing the baby.

All of these stories are true!

All of these stories are full of emotions.  All of these stories teach us something about being a mother.  These true stories are encouraging and challenging to us as mothers, whether you are a mother of several children, or you are pregnant with your first child.  Reading these stories you will feel joy, courage, sadness, and hope.

There are 63 stories in this book.  They all deserve to be in the book.  I enjoyed reading every single one of them! The title “The Mom Quilt” describes how each of these stories, like squares in a quilt, were all stitched together into one book.  The threads link all mothers’ hearts.

I would challenge you to buy two copies of this book, one for you, and one to give as a gift.  This book would make a beautiful gift for any mother or mother soon to be, or even a mother who has recently lost a baby.  All of these situations are included in this book.  All of these stories are told by the woman who experienced them.  These are first person, memoir type stories. 

After reading these stories, I feel like I have friends I want to get to know better.

At the back of the book, there is a list of the authors and their websites for those that have one.  You are able to communicate with any of these women that you would like to know more about.  I know that I plan to check out some of their websites and let them know how much I identified with their story, and how much I appreciate them sharing their story with us.

At this time, “The Mom Quilt” book is available in paperback format only from Amazon.com.

You can find out more about The Mercy House charity or donate directly to them at http://MercyHouseGlobal.com

 

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How to Be Happy

I had a friend who was always happy.  She had a way of making everyone around her feel good!  People would ask her “How are you happy all the time?”  She did not have an answer. It just came natural to her.

Well researchers have found out that there is a genetic makeup that makes people happier.  It is just the way their brain is made.  If you don’t have this genetically happier brain, there are still things you can do to be happy. 

I found a list of books recommended to help you be happier, but it was missing a very important book — the Bible!

I think one book that can definitely make us happier is the Bible!  In fact, researchers have proven that doing kind things for other people, makes us happier.  The Bible tells us that!  “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) Yep, that means to treat other people well, and do kind things for them.

Another thing that the Bible tells us to do, and researchers have proven makes us happier, is being grateful.  “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:18) I have started to keep a daily journal where I write down something I am thankful for each day.  This is an easy way to be happier.  It helps me keep a positive attitude.

Scientists have also shown that having good relationships with friends and family and spending quality time with them, makes us happier.  The Bible tells us to love one another.  In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.   By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Another thing that has been proven to make us happier, is getting enough rest.  We know we are supposed to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.  The Bible also tells us to take one day off each week.  One place we find this is in Hebrews 4:9-10, “there remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from His”.  

God created us, so He surely knows what we need to be happy!

So reading your Bible and obeying God’s Word can help you be happier! 

Remember God is blessing you today, and every day, so be thankful, and be happy!

If you want more information about being happier, go to www.danroberts.com or www.doctoroz.com .  These are places I found some of this information.  I chose which Bible verses to use, and I went to www.BibleGateway.com to quote the verses.

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Jesus Talked to Me

This is my book review of “Jesus Talked to Me Today” by James Stuart Bell.

This is actually a collection of “True Stories of Children’s Encounters with Angels, Miracles, and God”.

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I did find this book encouraging, uplifting, and inspiring.  Although some of the stories were not very remarkable, enough of them were awe-inspiring for me to feel good about my faith in God after reading this book.

Most of these stories are written from an adult’s perspective looking back at something that happened many years ago.  Sometimes it is told by the person who had the original encounter, and some of the stories are told by a close relative.  It surprises me that these people remember the event so many years later.  It even still affects their lives many years later, and the lives of other people near them. 

Evidently the faith of a child can strengthen the faith of adults who see it.

The stories are about healings, or about being told by a “voice” what to do, or about being given their calling, or seeing an angel and feeling safe, all happened to young children.  The events changed their lives, so that in itself is a miracle.

This is the first book by James Stuart Bell that I have read.  I found out that he has done other collections similar to this one.  I need to read more of these.  It never hurts to have encouragement to keep your faith strong, and to verify that God does care about us, and God does listen to us and answer prayers!

My favorite stories in the book are about being healed by God. 

I relate to these stories, because God healed me of cancer that my doctors expected me to die from.  My doctors call me a miracle, and I tell them, God healed me.  God performed the miracle.  Miracles from God are always inspiring, and bring us hope.

To read more about this book, or to purchase, go to Amazon.com

Some of the author’s other books are “Encountering Jesus”, “Heaven Touching Earth”, and “Awakening Faith”.  To find more of his books click here.

I did receive a free copy of this book from the Publisher, Bethany House.  I have given my honest review of the book after reading the entire book.

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Eating With Jesus

Our church is starting an interesting sermon series on eating with Jesus.  Jesus shares many meals in the Bible.  I am thinking today, that I might be missing an important ministry opportunity. 

Here is what I am thinking about today, as I celebrate the Lord’s Day.

Who does Jesus eat with?

In Matthew 9:10-12, it describes Jesus asking Matthew to follow Him, and He goes to Matthew’s house to eat.  Since Matthew was a tax collector, there were other tax collectors eating there too. 

Jesus also ate at the home of a Pharisee, as described in Luke 11:37-41.

Jesus ate the Last Supper with His Apostles, described in Mark 14:16-26.

Jesus also ate with the Apostles after his resurrection, when they ate fish and bread on the shore. This is found in John 21:5-19.

Why does Jesus eat with other people?

Eating with people produces a bond of friendship. All those present are safe, protected by the host’s invitation. Sometimes Jesus taught, and sometimes He repaired friendships over a meal.  

When eating with Matthew and the other tax collectors, Jesus was reaching out to a group that the Pharisees normally ignored, the tax collectors.  Jesus wanted to save these lost sinners.

At the last supper, Jesus was teaching his Apostles about what would happen next, and preparing them for the future.

Eating with the Apostles on the shore after they were fishing, here Jesus is repairing His relationship with Peter who had denied Him three times.  He is also encouraging His Apostles so they will be prepared for life without Jesus in the flesh.

Today we eat with Jesus at communion. It helps us form a bond with Jesus, and know that He loves us, for He has invited us to remember Him at communion. We remember that we are forgiven and saved by the power of Jesus and our faith.

How can I use a meal as a ministry?

Jesus shows us by example how to minister to others through having a meal together.  The minister at our church challenged us to think about who we could invite to dinner to share about Jesus, or to form a bond of friendship with so we can later share about Jesus.  Or maybe if we have a conflict with another Christian, we could use a meal invitation to repair our friendship

I have not used a meal as a ministry in many years.  In the past I would invite neighbors over for a cookout, or invite a church family over to share a home cooked meal with.  I have thought about inviting a couple from church that I have not seen much lately, to meet at a restaurant.  That is even easier, because there is no meal preparation, just good conversation. 

I need to pray and ask God, “Who do I need to meet with over a meal?”.  Maybe you need to ask God the same question. Do you relate to this?

Who do you need to meet with over a meal?

bg-blogger-badge-500x500-e1387301563797I have used BibleGateway for links to Bible verses.

MissionalWomen FridayLinkUp I linked up with FFF at http://www.missionalwomen.com

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