Sunday, April 15, 2018

Romans Study: The Start

I have had the desire to study the book of Romans for quite some time, but each time I start I end up getting off track due to the need to study other things for my job and ministry or just because of life. But verses or passages of this book keep popping up and the desire is stirred up again. So now, I have decided to do a complete study of this whole book, no matter how long it takes. If I get side tracked I'll just pick it up again. I think God has something for me in studying this book. One thing I know, I'm drawn to the theme of God's mercy in this book, and I think it's something I need to reconnect to on a deep heart and soul level as I come into my 30th year of following Christ.

I started my study of the book of Romans with the intention of studying chapter 1 verses 1-7. However, as is often the case for me, I got stuck on one word in the first verse and off I went on a journey of discovery.
"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—" Romans 1:1

In his introduction Paul is presenting a brief resume to the Roman Christ-followers - a group of people he has never met in person, but who have a place deep in his heart. The people of the Roman church were predominantly Gentile and Paul, having been called to reach the Gentiles for Christ, feels a strong responsibility that they understand their place as a part of God's people. He also laying the groundwork for them for a visit from an apostle.

Paul says he is a servant of Jesus Christ. He uses the Greek word doulos which means one who is bound to another; a slave or bondservant, but one who willingly chooses to serve his master. Leon Morris, in his commentary on Romans, says the term conveys the idea of complete and utter devotion. The person Paul is wholly devoted to in complete service  is Jesus Christ. Though Paul puts the order Christ Jesus, as in the Messiah Jesus.

As I studied this word and looked at other passages that speak of servanthood or slavery, what I kept running across were passages that described Jesus' heart of a servant. 

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness." Philippians 2:5-7

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." 2 Corinthians 8:9

Paul's response to Christ, who gave His life for our sin, was to become Christ's servant, imitating His heart and life - fully devoted and submitted to the will of the Father. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23, "You were bought at a price". We must always remember this and have this as our motivation.

To do the will of the Father, Christ took on the nature of a servant and gave His life. We are called to have that same mindset in our lives as Christ-followers. What does that look like in our lives? How do we take on the nature of a servant? How do we give our lives for the will of the Father? We are by nature self-centered and self-serving. Being others-focused and others-centered in ways that are not co-dependent and unhealthy does not come easy for us. We must rely on, depend on, walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. The only way to be fully devoted to Christ and to living with His mindset is to be fully dependent on His Spirit.

The other terms Paul uses to describe himself are "called" and "set apart". Paul had a very distinct and memorable calling from Christ on his journey to Damascus. You can read about it in Acts 9:1-19. To be called is to be chosen by God. Morris says, "The called are those who have not only heard but have obeyed the divine call." Those God calls He also sets apart for His divine purpose. In Paul's case he is called to be an apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God. Paul knew clearly what His divine purpose was. He served God in that purpose with full devotion. 

Are we not called to the very same things? As Christ-followers we are chosen and set apart. We are called to live our lives for Christ. Paul says in Ephesians 4:1 ~

"...Live a life worthy of the calling you have received."

And again in 2 Timothy 1:9 ~
"[God] who has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace."

To live a life worthy of God's calling we must be intimately in relationship with Him through His Son, and we must be continually in His Word to know and understand what that holy life looks like.

In the Everyday Journal group we are practicing verse mapping in the month of April. I am trying different methods learned online form various blogs. For this verse I tried Sweet to the Soul's Ministries verse mapping method:

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Bernice Hopper, Valerie Sjodin and I are using one journal to record events, experiences and relationships and  to explore our word’s meaning in visual and fun ways. We are each blogging about our experiences and our art. If you would like to connect with others about creatively organizing your word, your ideas, thoughts, prayers, events, or your projects all in one journal, you are invited to join our Facebook group: Everyday Journals – Living Your Word of the Year.

Hashtags on Instagram: #everydayjournals2018, #livingyourword2018

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

My Everyday Journal and Other Art Bits


During the month of March I didn't do much more than the Lent Words Creative Challenge. I did the Lent challenge in my Everyday Journal. as that is my year long challenge in 2018 (everything in one journal). Because it was a 40 day challenge I have already filled up two Traveler's Notebook inserts for the first three months of the year.

I only managed to make one weekly page during March.

The annual 100 Day Project began this week. I hadn't planned on participating this year since I just completed a 40 creative challenge. However, I enjoyed it so much last year that yesterday I caved and decided to participate again. My theme this year will be "100 days of collage words", and in order to stick with doing my projects in my Everyday Journal, I'm going to mainly make small collages on my weekly pages, although I may do a few full page collages as well.

Day 1

Day 2
I'm working on getting connected to my word for the year once again: flow. I realized I have another intention that I didn't know of back in January. I want to let some dreams I have for my art life flow. So I'm going to work on the process over the next few months and see what comes from it. More on that later as I explore it.

It's spring break here, even though the weather in northwest Ohio feels more like winter. I'm enjoying some time off and spending this week doing some of the things that bring me energy.

Make sure you check out my shop. There are new items added this week. Link in sidebar on the right.

Join Our Inspirational Facebook Group
Bernice Hopper, Valerie Sjodin and I are using one journal to record events, experiences and relationships and  to explore our word’s meaning in visual and fun ways. We are each blogging about our experiences and our art. If you would like to connect with others about creatively organizing your word, your ideas, thoughts, prayers, events, or your projects all in one journal, you are invited to join our Facebook group: Everyday Journals – Living Your Word of the Year.

Hashtags on Instagram: #everydayjournals2018, #livingyourword2018

Check out the other blogs:

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Welcome April!

I absolutely love the month of April! I love how Spring creeps in bit-by-bit each day. It is a month of growth, full of color and change. And the birds return! Another reason I'm excited about April is it is the first month we are having a theme in the Everyday Journals group. Our theme this month is VERSE MAPPING. Any time I get a chance to combine Bible study and creativity (plus colored markers) I am a happy camper!

Last week Bernice posted The Message version of Romans 12:1-2. That passage resonated with me for a few reasons. 1. I had just studied that passage in the Women's Bible study on spiritual formation that I recently co-led. 2. I have wanted to study the book of Romans for a long time but as I go along other things get in the way. I had already decided to start that Romans study in April and no matter how long it takes I'm going to get through this book. And I'm going to record my progress here so you all can keep me accountable.

During the month of April I am going to try a number of verse mapping methods I have found online. As is my nature, I will probably add my own twist to these methods and eventually end up with a method  that combines a few along with my style.

To begin with I tried following a method that was laid out by Kristy Cambron on her website:

Here is my process:
  • First I used some modified inductive Bible study steps to study the passage. Here is a link to one I designed for my recent study group: Simple Bible Study Steps
  • I then followed the steps provided by Kristy Cambron in the link above. 
  • I really like using Rhodia Dot paper, so I cut some down to fit into my Everyday Journal, which is a standard size Traveler's Notebook.
  • Rather than write out the verse I printed it in order to fit it onto my page better.

  • I marked key connectives, terms I felt were significant, contrasts, verbs, etc. on the printed passage. I then copied some parts from other translations that I felt expanded the meaning. I then wrote out some study notes about some of the words and the contrasting terms.
  • On the opposite page I used Kristy Cambron's Actions and Outcome sections. Under actions I wrote down some of the significant things I learned, along with a quote I found while studying.
  • Under Outcome I made some notes gleaned from this study that I felt were personally significant. Plus another quote found while studying.

Overall I enjoyed Kristy Cambron's method. I use colored pens when I do inductive study so adding the notes in color helped me correspond them with my markings of the passage. Plus using colored pens helped me feel like I was being creative while studying, and that I really liked! I also enjoyed adding the quotes. I love quotes and adding them into my verse mapping will help me remember them when I look back at these notes.

What you can't tell from looking at my photos is that when I glued my verse map pages into my Everyday Journal I didn't check first and glued them in upside down! 

Oh well, mistakes keep me humble!

We have just one rule in the Everyday Journals group which goes for our Verse Mapping theme as well: There really are no rules. We are each doing our journals in a different manner, using different types of journals. What makes them Everyday Journals is not that we do something in them every day, but rather, that we are using one journal for all of our everyday life things and combining those things with our word for the year. So as you participate with us know this: you do not have to do things in the way that Valerie, Bernice or I do them. Feel the freedom to add your own twist and style!

We have a Pinterest board for Verse Mapping ideas here:

Watch for more examples of verse mapping on all three of our blogs throughout the month. Share what you do in the Facebook group.

Join Our Inspirational Facebook Group

Bernice Hopper, Valerie Sjodin and I are using one journal to record events, experiences and relationships and  to explore our word’s meaning in visual and fun ways. We are each blogging about our experiences and our art. If you would like to connect with others about creatively organizing your word, your ideas, thoughts, prayers, events, or your projects all in one journal, you are invited to join our Facebook group: Everyday Journals – Living Your Word of the Year.

Hashtags on Instagram: #everydayjournals2018, #livingyourword2018

Check out the other blogs:

Products I'm using:
I'm loving these Sharpie Art Pens! They don't bleed through the paper, even in my Bible. There are 24 wonderful colors too.

A note about Amazon links on my blog:

I am giving Amazon affiliation a try, which means I may receive a small percentage off sales made through clicking on the Amazon links found on my blog. There is no additional cost to you.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Lent Words Day 40: Hope

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..."
1 Peter 1:3

At the beginning of the week I shared a quote from a book about Lent by Charles Erdman, which I left unfinished, to be continued today. As Paul Harvey used to say, here is the rest of the story:
"On Saturday His body rested in the tomb. With this the last day of Holy Week, Lent, strictly speaking, is ended; but no proper review of the Lenten season would be complete without reaching a climax by including the Sunday which follows and which, as "Easter," celebrates the glorious resurrection of Christ."
Today is the official last day of Lent. The end of a season of repentance and mourning over sin. Tomorrow we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our mourning turns to joy! This great event ushers in our hope. As today's Scripture verse says, God, in His great mercy, has given us new birth into a living hope THROUGH the resurrection of Jesus Christ through the dead. This verse is so theologically rich and meaningful.

  • God the Father has given us new birth. He has caused it to happen and gifted us with it. There is nothing we do to make this new birth happen, it is a work of God that we accept by faith. This new birth makes us children of God.
  • We receive this new birth as a result of God's great mercy. God is compassionate and rich in mercy. In His mercy He made a way for us to be restored to favor with Him through faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ.
  • Our new birth is into a living hope. As Christ-followers we have a hope that is not wishful thinking, but rather, a hope that has power. Power that changes lives! That same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us! (Romans 8:11)
  • This hope is living because it comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Because He lives, we live! "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." 1 Corinthians 15:22
And so, as we look forward to celebrating on Resurrection Sunday, we can join Peter in His praise to God the Father for this new birth into a living hope. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!"

Today is our last day of the Lent Words Creative Challenge. Thank you all for joining along with me as we read daily Scripture passages and responded to them creatively. I want to once again thank those who wrote guest posts for our journey:
Bernice Hopper @
Valerie Sjodin @
Christina Hubbard @

Thank you all so much! We appreciated your words and your art in the many different ways your creativity was expressed and shared with us!

You can continue following my journey through the year here on my blog and in the Everyday Journals group on Facebook. In April we are exploring Verse Mapping!

Join Our Inspirational Facebook Group

Bernice Hopper, Valerie Sjodin and I are using one journal to record events, experiences and relationships and  to explore our word’s meaning in visual and fun ways. We are each blogging about our experiences and our art. If you would like to connect with others about creatively organizing your word, your ideas, thoughts, prayers, events, or your projects all in one journal, you are invited to join our Facebook group: Everyday Journals – Living Your Word of the Year.

Hashtags on Instagram: #everydayjournals2018, #livingyourword2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

Lent Words Day 39: Crown ~ Guest Christina Hubbard

Today's post for Good Friday is by Christina Hubbard. I met Christina a few years ago while participating in her Advent Book Club, Come, Lord Jesus on her blog. Christina's art form is poetry. She wrote the poem below using today's Scripture passages as inspiration. Today's Scripture readings are: John 19:1-3 and Hebrews 2:9. 

Thank you Christina for contributing to our Lenten Journey!

Good Friday’s Crown: the Day the World Is Saved
By Christina Hubbard
Drape me in black cloth
Today as I forego food,
Push away drink.
Lash me, not Him!
Sharp rocks unflesh
I cry out
In hunger and thirst
Because I don’t feel a thing.
He feels it all.
His very nerves fray apart
Before my eyes.
He is my Rock,
Hunched over.
Thorns, a grisly honor-crown
My Refuge.
I plod over stones,
Repurposed cross splintering
Exposed muscle.
They curse me.
I drain my life
For these whose saliva hits
Open wounds.
Spit speeds blood to clot,
But they know not what they do.
They do what they must.
I drag my death with me
But I cannot abandon this world
Though it abandons me.
I am chosen.
King of the Jews.
I do not love this world less.
Even more.
Why must redemption come with a slap to the face?
How can suffering heal?
What is good about crucifixion on a Friday?
Nothing seems good about sorrow
When we’re suffocating under it.
Good Friday.
Good death.
Good dying day.
How history pivots
On this slaughter!
A man’s torture
Tearing open heaven
Makes many wonder
How our universe really works---
How can such a horrible finish
Mean grace and honor,
Celebrated world-over
As good? As holy? As joy!
Good Friday is good
Because it is where all hope is lost
Before the God-man comes back to life,
And we are all saved.
God’s good day!
When the King of glory
Ate death whole.
Tell me again.

Christina Hubbard is a poet who writes memoir. As an internationally published writer, speaker, and retreat leader, she inspires creatives to courage and compassion. She lives on the suburban prairie of Kansas with her husband and two creative kids. Find her at

Monday, March 26, 2018

Lent Words Day 35: Hosanna and Holy Week

Charles Erdman, in his book, Remember Jesus Christ, the start of Holy Week on Palm Sunday,

"...which calls to mind our Lord's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, and it continues by celebrating the events of the days of His life which followed. On Monday He drove from the temple the godless traffickers. On Tuesday He defeated and disgraced His enemies who attempted to ensnare Him with crafty questions. Wednesday He spent in seclusion at Bethany. On Thursday the Master established His memorial Supper and bade farewell to His disciples. Friday was the dread day of crucifixion. On Saturday His body rested in the tomb...."
To be continued on Resurrection Sunday....

Today's Lent Word is Hosanna.

"This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,

    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.  They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on.  A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” 
Matthew 21:4-11


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Lent Words Day 34:Grace

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Ephesians 2:4-9 ESV

Two small words in this passage hold significant impact for us and hold the very grace of God: 

There are over 40 times in the whole Bible where these words are used together. Here are just a few:
"But God remembered Noah..." Genesis 8:1
"But God will be with you..." Genesis 48:21
"But God meant it for good..." Genesis 50:20
"But God did not give David into his hands..." 1 Samuel 23:14
"But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave..." Psalm 49:15
"But God raised him from the dead..." Acts 13:30
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us..." Romans 5:8

These words lead us to God's intervening grace throughout the Scriptures. 

“May I put it quite simply? If you understand those two words—‘but God’—they will save your soul. If you recall them daily and live by them, they will transform your life completely.” – James Montgomery Boice

The beginning of Ephesians chapter 2 reminds us of our state without God - "You were dead in your transgressions and sin".  Then, verse 4 opens up to remind us of the words that are at the very heart of the Gospel - But God.

Let me paraphrase the beginning of  today's passage: "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love for us, made us alive with Christ - it is by His grace we have been saved. " The Greek word order shows us that we are saved first, because of God's mercy, and second because of His great love for us. God is rich in mercy because of His great love. His mercy and His love lead Him to act in grace. In His grace He saved us, He made us alive with Christ, He raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms. This is the Resurrection Life! It is the life we live in spiritual union with Christ!

God made us alive with Christ, raised us with Him, and seated us in the heavenly realms with Him in order to show the riches of His grace seen in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. And thus,  it is by grace He has saved us; not by ourselves or by any works we could do. Our salvation is a gift of God. A gift that we receive by faith in Christ.

I just love this passage in Ephesians 2, as well as our other reading today in Romans 3:21-24. A reminder of God's mercy and love for us expressed in His grace to us through Jesus Christ is a great way to begin Holy Week. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Lent Words Day 30: Reflection ~ Guest Christine Heister

Today our guest is Christine Hiester. I have followed Christine on her blog and through Instagram for a number of years. I finally got to meet Christine in person last year at a retreat where she led us in prayer art journaling. Christine  is a talented musician, an art journaler and a spiritual director in training. I think I am also drawn to Christine because we are both INFJ's! You can follower Christine's art on Instagram @barebranchblooming and her spiritual direction @shapingtheriver.

Thank you Christine for contributing to our Lenten Journey!

I prepare for Prayer Circle and write, “Prompts for Reflection”. I breathe deeply and search internally for what I think God wants me to ask the members of our Circle. What would He ask me this moment? What is it that I hear deep inside, in that Spirit-space that resonates with His voice? The space that resonates when I am still enough to listen, that is.

Reflection: noun, meaning “an image seen in a mirror or shiny surface.”

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I Am.
Be still and know.
Be still.

I know this: I can’t be that mirror when I am not still. And my internal world, like a mountain lake, or a forest stream, needs a hushed sense of reverence to be clear and still enough to offer the God of Love a true canvas on which to create. I know this, and yet I am still learning. I am ever a beginner. In the spiritual life we never arrive.

Oddly enough, the very thing that gives me this sense of hushed stillness, the practice that shows me more of God than any other, that allows me to be the mirror, is also a meaning of the word reflection.

Reflection: noun, meaning “serious thought or consideration; contemplation.”

Contemplation. A posture of quiet before God. I practice this posture of prayer in many ways, not least of which is the act of creating with color and clippings, glue and glitter. Art has always been an open and still place of the Spirit for me. A Spacious Place. Our life in Christ is a wide-open meadow of possibilities.

“He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because He delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19

So I plan the Prayer Circle this Lent, a weekly space of contemplative prayer, to remind myself. To let God lead me, and in that gently leading, guide others who have the same desire for stillness.

How do you practice stillness? I’d love to hear.