Ecclesiastes 3-4 B

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” (3:1)

I cannot read chapter 3 without singing the Byrds, but I find myself remembering this passage (and song) a lot.

Life is full of seasons, and as a pretty sign in Carly’s house, made by a mutual friend, states: no season is insignificant.

I don’t know what season you find yourself in, these days, but I feel like I’m in a real weird one. I moved to Italy, to obtain dual citizenship, which I feel is something God has led me to pursue for the future He has in store for me. This season could really turn out to be hugely significant in the grand scheme of my life. After a successful major appointment today, I started thinking about all the waiting. It could take a long time. Maybe six months? Maybe longer. There are no guarantees and the timing is entirely out of my hands.

So what am I supposed to do in this city while I wait an indefinite amount of time?

In life, there is no fast forwarding. Why would I want to fast forward anyway? There is a time for everything.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (3:11)

To me, this implies that not everything is beautiful at the moment. Some things need a time. Hindsight makes it beautiful. That doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful intrinsically.

It’s all made me pretty desperate for the LORD. I want Him to author this weird, unknown season. Isn’t that what He wants, too? To be acknowledged as the Author He already is and for me to be desperately depending on Him?

For me, the application today is to have faith in God about the season I’m in now. Maybe it will be a time of reflecting, new friend making, preparing, or doing all the things I’ve put off for when I wasn’t so busy.

What about the season you’re in?


Ecclesiastes 1-2 B

Here’s the Bible Project overview for this book. I also really loved Bethany’s summary she wrote during our last read-through.

Even if you don’t believe in God, or a greater purpose for life, Ecclesiastes is relatable. And hold on to your hats, because it’s both humbling and sobering. As we approach this book, hold tightly to this verse:

“So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him?” 2:24

It’s easy to get discouraged as we sort through the king’s advice chapter after chapter. Nothing matters! Education is meaningless! Your body will fail! Money fails you! Say goodbye to your eyesight! Everyone will forget you when you die! And hey, it’s all true, but a little hard to swallow verse after verse.

God has intricately designed life to be enjoyed. It’s why sunsets are different every evening and always beautiful. It’s why we all have slightly different colored eyes. Why food tastes good. Why Jesus’ power arrived on scene at a wedding, as he provided more wine for everyone. He wants you to drink and be merry, but to do so with him. There is not true joy apart from a relationship with God. Happiness? Sure. Entertainment and pleasure? Well, yeah. But you’ll come up empty. Your stuff will get old, your technology irrelevant. Your body aged and tired. Your food will spoil. But working hard on the tasks in front of you, investing in the relationships you’ve been given and getting to know and love the God who gifted you all of these things is the perfect recipe for contentment, meaning and joy.





Romans 16 B

Greetings greetings greetings. Paul’s letters of universal and timeless truths are often sprinkled with personal, specific, by name instructions. The church of God is full of doctrine and exhortation, but is also endlessly relational. They go hand in hand. Almost every application of Christianity requires interaction with others.

Anyone who has ever lived away from community will attest to this struggle. Letters (or in our 2018 case, multiple outlets of communication) are a lifesaver when it comes to edification, encouragement and accountability.

I am extremely thankful for a digital way to read the Bible with Carly (and y’all). The fellowship of the Spirit is life giving on many levels. We all have seasons, some busy and full of friends, some slow and full of doubts. Continuing in faithfulness towards the Lord and each other weaves a beautiful continuity to it all.

Speaking of seasons… we start a new book tomorrow: Ecclesiastes! This is a twisted favorite of ours and a well timed reminder to calm down and not take myself so seriously.

Take a moment to thank God for the people “who risked their necks for [your] life, to whom not only [you] give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.” (4)

There’s a lot of great people out there. Maybe thank them, personally, as well.


Romans 15 B

Sometimes I come here to write, and I feel overwhelmed, like I need to summarize the entire chapter or cross-reference thirteen verses or define who God is to the Internet. But no one is asking me to do that, nor do I have the ability. (Hi, my name is Carly and I like to make things unnecessarily dramatic for myself.)

Bethany and I are just here to motion you over towards the Bible, share what grabbed our hearts during our daily reading and invite you to do the same. (We love your comments, emails, push-backs, disagreements and guest posts. Keep ’em coming!)

Whew, what is it about Romans? So much in so few chapters. Here’s what washed over me today:

“Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” 15:7

Right before this, Paul prays that the Christians in Rome would live in complete harmony together as is fitting for followers of Christ. How? By accepting each other.

Just as Christ has accepted me. Which personally for me was Jesus accepting someone who was prideful, self-serving, pleasure-seeking, broken and fearful. He didn’t wait to accept me once I fully agreed with him, or once I was completely perfect or relentlessly repentant. He opens up his arms and welcomes us as we are.

This means I need to maintain harmony, and even extend acceptance, towards people I don’t agree with. Note: we are not asked to condone everything people are doing or everything they believe. But this means I need to be loving and gracious with fellow Christians instead of fighting on social media or gossiping about the church staff down the street or judging someone’s same sex relationship.

Live in harmony with one another. Not because there aren’t things to disagree about and not because Paul, or God, doesn’t think it’s important. Because the world is watching the church. They are watching how we treat one another, they are reading the Facebook posts. They are hearing the gossip. How are they suppose to believe they’re fully welcomed by Jesus?


Romans 14 B

“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (4)

“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” (13)

What a relief that it’s not our job to judge each other, right!? Wasn’t the desire to become our own judges of good and evil the thing which slipped up Eve to begin with?

Life is complicated and the LORD has us each in a sanctification process. He gave us His Spirit to help discern, but this is primarily to helps us navigate our own ship.

Isn’t it lovely, He commands us to love each other and warns against judging? It’s so hard to be good at, really. We can hardly judge ourselves fairly.

My conscience has changed along with my convictions all throughout my life, but God has always been with me. I’ve spent way too much of my creative energy judging people. As evangelicals, it’s easy to justify our specific judgements about who is saved and who isn’t, because we’ve got a job to do!

Look at this:

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (10-12)

It’s not a comparison contest and we are not responsible for each other, only to love each other.

Allow the LORD to examine your heart on this and, if need be, create a goal to grow in loving over judging. I, for one, feel like I have more energy to love when I give up the task of judging.


Romans 13 B

Are you familiar with the enneagram at all? My husband and I always joke about Paul being the ultimate 1. Especially as Saul, hunting down and executing the rule breakers. Anyway! He’s a stickler for being above reproach, lover-all-all-rules and I couldn’t agree with him more here.

“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” 13:1

Have a boss you don’t like? A president you didn’t vote for? When you choose to show them respect they don’t deserve, you are ultimately showing respect to God, who greatly deserves it all. No where in this chapter does Paul claim that people in authority are going to be without fault. Remember, he was in a pretty volatile political circumstance, yet still insisting on godliness and submission to his leaders.

Think about someone in your life who has authority over you. How do you feel about it? Do you trust God’s sovereignty in this circumstance?

Or, are you in a position of authority? Are you representing Christ and leading in a way that reflects King Jesus? 




Romans 12 B

This chapter is incredibly rich! Every verse deserves its own day of meditation and application. If you’re looking for a chapter to memorize, try this one!

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (10)

I feel it a great privilege to know exactly what this looks and feels like. I am wealthy when it comes to friends and community. I’ve written before about my home church in Portland, Montavilla Baptist, my family and many of my friends (including Carly duh) who exemplify this affection.

This is the kind of thing every person craves, right? People do insane things to belong somewhere. If this is what we all want, why don’t we become community builders/creators. This chapter has a great outline of tips on how to do it!

  • Recognize our membership with one another (5)
  • Utilize and cultivate our God-given gifts (6)
  • Love genuinely (9)
  • Rejoice! Persevere! Pray! (12)
  • Be generous and hospitable (13)
  • Bless one another (14)
  • Have compassion and sympathy (15)

You get the idea. Choose something from this chapter and consider how you can foster this sort of atmosphere in your community.


Romans 11 B

“Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; everything happens through him; everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes.” 11:33-36 MSG

love the heart of God; he is never done with us. Even if we’ve been snipped off, like useless branches once crowding a tree, he can still redeem us, graft us back into living, growing species.

“And don’t get to feeling superior to those pruned branches down on the ground. If they don’t persist in remaining deadwood, they could very well get grafted back in. God can do that. He can perform miracle grafts. Why, if he could graft you—branches cut from a tree out in the wild—into an orchard tree, he certainly isn’t going to have any trouble grafting branches back into the tree they grew from in the first place. Just be glad you’re in the tree, and hope for the best for the others.” 11:23-24 MSG

Believer, take heart. He is never done with you! The pruned branches Paul’s talking about in the verse above is symbolism for Israel, God’s special possession. They were relentless in their disobedience towards God, yet still he loves them and leaves room for them on the tree.

Are you distancing yourself from God because you don’t feel like he could redeem you? 

God can perform miracle grafts. He can soften the most calloused heart, he can breathe like into the lifeless and he can save the seemingly un-saveable. Yes, yes, yes!



Romans 10 B

“Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.’” (20)

Paul is very concerned about the fate of this “disobedient and contrary people.” Israel has been God’s vehicle of Good News for centuries and they had a long history of fumbling the ball. (Picture Mark Sanchez circa Thanksgiving 2015)

The glory of the LORD should be obvious (18) but somehow stewarding it grew complicated. He said, “if you’re not going to share Me with the world, I will bless them Myself”.

Now we are also vehicles of His Good News. Do we over complicate the gospel? Do we make excuses to not bring up His glory? Do we hoard His love and blessings as if there’s not enough to go around?

We can at once praise the Lord we, Gentiles, have been granted access to His love and also accept this challenge to not become disobedient and contrary.

It’s simple. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (13) Let’s have some beautiful feet. What are some ways we can share the blessings of God with someone today?


Romans 9 B

“…Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said, ‘I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’ “ 9:30-33

Have you been here before? Getting so wrapped up in the religion and logistics of Christianity that you miss an opportunity to be right with God? Do you miss out on God when he’s right in front of you, like a boulder laying in the road?

Paul reminds us here that God doesn’t want perfection from us, he just wants our trust. 

For me, today, this means reading verses in the Bible that become like a sticky piece of tape and still deciding that I trust God. He loves me, and he has proven time after time that he is holy, perfectly sovereign and I am far, far better off alongside him than apart from him. I read Romans 9, my brow furrows and my questions start firing out like an automatic pitching machine, lobbing one doubt after another. I don’t fully know what to do with the theology from today’s text, and maybe I never will. But I have full confidence that God loves me and his grace meets all my needs. 

Do you feel like you can trust God? Why or why not? You are not doing him any favors by  maintaining an anxious, fear-filled relationship with him. He doesn’t want you checking any religious boxes out of duty. He wants you to exhale in the midst of your doubts and choose to trust him. If you aren’t there with him, where you feel safe and fully trust him, be honest about that! Unpack that with him. Do the internal work it takes to sort that out, heal it and reconcile what’s going on. It doesn’t mean you will get all the answers and it absolutely does NOT mean you won’t go through hard things. But it will bring you into a safe, healthy, BEAUTIFUL relationship with Jesus.