Saturday, October 16, 2021

Bible Study and Art

 Bible Study and Art

I am never happier than when the two things that bring me great joy and pleasure converge. Creating art that comes out of my time spent studying the Word of God helps me both take in the Word more deeply, and it helps me pull together and express what I have studied. My art time then becomes both a way of mediataion and an expression of creativity.

A few recent examples:


This year I have been studying 2 Corinthians with a friend. We are doing a slow study and following rabbit trails that come up as we study. I did the above page to walk through 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 and gain a better understanding of what Paul means when he says, "We have this treasure in jars of clay...". (To understand how I "walk through" a passage in study, see this page from the Bible Study Tips and Techniques page.)

This phrase I wrote stck out for me: We live for Christ.


And that led me on a rabbit-trail study to explore what is said about "living for Christ". I then compiled and visualized what I found.



Next I broke down a passage that keeps popping up in my studies. I have been memorizing it over the past few months.


However, it feels too busy, so I may do it over.  Since I meditate on the Word as I make it visual, it won't have  been wasted time if I choose to do it over.

What do you do to help you take God's Word into your heart and mind in a deeper way?







Sunday, September 26, 2021

Who Should I Be?

 Who Should I Be?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about spirtual transformation and the call on us to become more like Christ. You can read it here . I wrote about how a question in a book by Jen Wilkin was impacting me. Here is a bit from my blog post:

The study of God's Word must transform us into the people God wants us to be. It must enable us in becoming Christ-like. I started reading a book by Jen Wilkin called "In His Image" this summer. I have not, in all honesty, made it much past the introduction because of one question she puts forth.
"For the believer wanting to know God's will for her life, the first question to pose is not "What should I do?" but "Who should I be?" "

This is our highest calling, to grow into the person God calls us to be, to become. Jen Wilkin goes on to say, "Of course, the questions "What should I do?" and "Who should I be?" are not unrelated. But the order in which we ask them matters. If we focus on actions without addressing our hearts, we may end up merely as better behaved lovers of self." 

Who do you look to to answer that question, Who should I be? Do we look to other people - maybe our parents or spouse? Do we look to culture - maybe our national identity or our affinity groups or our job?That question has led me into quite a bit of Bible study, for as Christ followers, it is in Scripture that we must, first and foremost, find the answer to that question. And, in all honesty, the answer to that question is the same for all of us who call ourselves Christ-followers. Who should I be? Be like Christ. Imitate Him.





Who should I be? Be like Christ. Imitate Him.



Thursday, September 9, 2021

Summer Art Journaling

 Summer Art Journaling


This has been a different summer for me. Good, but different. I decided early on that I needed to skip a summer Words Challenge. Although I love the summer Words Challenges as I usually go through a book of the Bible, I just sensed that I needed a break this summer. I spent my time making art, doing lots of Bible study, connecting with our families again, reading in the backyard, and landscaping.

My word of the year this year is "rhythm". I started out making rhythm of life weekly spreads, but slowed down some over the summer to a monthly page.






I participated in Junk Journal July on Instagram, which was a nice way to do some art for play using the word promts from @megjournals. Some of my favorite pages were:







And I made a pice of painted paper collage in a frame for my kitchen. I'm working on a companion piece now.



Overall, it was a good summer. We had a few rough spots though. My Father-in-law passed away at the end of July after being ill for quite a while. And we have spent a lot of time with our elderly mothers and their health (and driving) needs. It's that phase in life for us. Then it seemed as soon as the calendar switched to September my planner began to fill and the busyness of the new school year has set in. I'm trying hard to hold onto a few of the rhythms I set during the summer though! It's good to look back at my summer though the art that I made. :)

Friday, September 3, 2021

The Longings of My Heart

The Longings of My Heart

I haven't been blogging much this summer. I've been making art and posting it on Instagram and, for the most part, I've been rather introspective and contemplative over the summer. A lot is weighing on my mind and on my heart. So, I've been reading and making art and praying and digging deeper into the Bible...a lot! 

As I have struggled over the months with concerns about the pandemic, about how divisive things are, and how there seems to be less and less compassion toward one another, I have dug deeper and deeper into Bible study. God's Word guides us to His ways and His heart.

As Christ-followers we have God's Word to guide us, to show us who we are to be and how we are to live. The work of every Christ-follower is to grow in their knowledge of God's Word. But it does not end there. We need to know the text, but we also, just as improtantly, need to live out the text. A quote from Augustine captures this well:

“So anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbor, has not yet succeeded in understanding them.”

The study of God's Word must transform us into the people God wants us to be. It must enable us in becoming Christ-like. I started reading a book by Jen Wilkin called "In His Image" this summer. I have not, in all honesty, made it much past the introduction because of one question she puts forth.
"For the believer wanting to know God's will for her life, the first question to pose is not "What should I do?" but "Who should I be?" "

This is our highest calling, to grow into the person God calls us to be, to become. Jen Wilkin goes on to say, "Of course, the questions "What should I do?" and "Who should I be?" are not unrelated. But the order in which we ask them matters. If we focus on actions without addressing our hearts, we may end up merely as better behaved lovers of self." 

For a number of years we have had a saying at our church that "doing flows out of being". When we focus on who we are to be in Christ, we will then make the decisions that enable us to do the right things, the things we are called by God to do.

As I was trying to pull together the different things I was studying this summer I started trying to narrow the thoughts and Scripture passages down to conclusions. And I tried to make sense of them by jotting them in a kind of mind map type of manner. I have put them together in a journal, cuz making my notes artistic is another way for me to pull things together!






Bottomline: Who should I be? Be like Christ.

Some more photos from my spiritual formation journal:





 

My favorite quote to start a new journal with is:


This quote aptly fits my spiritual formation journal which will fill with quotes and Bible study notes and the "longings of my heart".








Saturday, June 26, 2021

Art Journaling Again - The Arizona Travel Journal Edition

Art Journaling Again - The Arizona Travel Journal Edition

Sorry for such a long absence. For the past two months I have been on an unplanned social media sabbatical. It started after my last words challenge ended in mid-April. It's not unusual for me to take an art break after running a daily challenge, a catch my breath time. But somehow over the past few months being on social media has felt, well, too much like extrovertion, and I just needed a break. I've been enjoying spring bird migration, walking at the park, planning a backyard bird (and people) sanctuary, reading, and finally seeing my family in Michigan after 15 months.

At the beginning of May, once we were fully vaccinated, we took a short trip down to Phoenix to visit my friend Diane. It was a great time and it felt so good to travel again. We had visited Phoenix for the first time at the end of February 2020. I had fully intended to make a travel journal about our trip. I made the journal and the cover, but then two weeks after we returned COVID hit full force and we went on lockdown, and the journal never got completed.


When we got back from our recent trip I pulled out the Arizona journal I had started and decided to use this journal for both trips. It also served to get me back into my art journal habit.

















I think I need to travel more so I can make more travel journals!

I have decided not to do a summer Words Challenge this year. It was a hard decision to make but after such a crazy year and a half I find I just need to take a break this summer and relax. Hopefully this new school year will be a normal one! My next Words Challenge will be the annual Advent Words Challenge.

I hope you are finding ways to relax and enjoy the summer. :)




Friday, April 16, 2021

Resurrection Words Day 15: Glory

 


Day 15: Glory

Our final day of the Resurrection Words challenge. Let's look at the journey we have taken in exploring the resurrection life.

We began our journey looking at the resurrection life at the cross.  On the cross Christ gave His life to reconcile sinful man with a holy God. Through Christ's blood we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. But there is more good news: Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, giving us His Spirit, that we, too, may live new lives. Our baptism symbolizes our death and new life in Christ. We now live a new life, having died to self, we live for Christ through our union with Him by His Spirit. That Spirit is a deposit, guaranteeing our ultimate and complete transformation into the image of Christ. Our new life comes with many blessings: a living hope, the assurance of eternal life, and the power to live lives pleasing to God. This requires we gain a new mindset that views life from a heavenly perspective, focused on the life that is to come, while being transformed into the image of Christ, walking in freedom as children of the kingdom of God, who live a life of love imitating the life of Christ for God's glory!
"Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Hebrew 13:20-21


 

Thank you for joining me for the Resurrection Words challenge. You can continue to share your responses in the Words Facebook group or on social media. I love to see how you respond creatively to God's Word. There's no deadline on that! 

Share your response to today's word and Scripture readings in the Words Art & Faith Challenge Group on Facebook. Or share on social media with #resurrectionwords. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Resurrection Words Day 14: Love

 


Day 14: Love

"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1-2

The most defining mark of kingdom people who are living the resurrection life is love. Paul defines and sums up our call to love in Ephesians 5:1-2. Let's walk through this passage and understand that call (imperative).

First, most other translations begin the verse with 'therefore'. So our task is to ask what's it there for? For the answer we look back into chapter 4. In verse 24 we read that Christ-followers have "put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness". It then follows with examples and instructions of what that looks like, ending in verse 32 calling us to forgive each other "just as in Christ God forgave you". So, since we have put on the new self which is created to be like God, and in Christ God has forgiven us, we are called to follow God's example, or as stated in other translations, we are to be imitators of God.

Paul then says, "as dearly loved children". We are called to imitate God, first, because we are His children. Children often imitate the attitudes, actions and values of their parents. As God's children, Paul is calling us to live up to the family name, so to speak. To imitate and follow after the One who has brought us into His family, who has given us this new life.

The second part of Paul's call on us is to imitate God and live a life of love. How are we to live a life of love? Paul says we have our example in the life of Jesus Christ: "Just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us". Not only is this an example of how to live a life of love, but it is also our motivation to do so. Because Christ loved us and gave His life for us, we are to love others and live as those whose lives are defined by love. 

How did Christ give himself up for us? "As a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." This statement is a reminder to the patterns of the Old Testament. When animal sacrifices were made to God they were burned on the altar and the smells of the sacrifices were fragrant and pleasing to God, as symbols of the people's love and obedience. When we live a life of love, we are, therefore, just like those fragrant offerings. Our sacrifice in giving up our self-centered lives and living lives of love, imitating Christ, is pleasing to God.

Again, this brings us back to our theme verse: 

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20.

The resurrection life means we no longer live life for ourselves. Christ now lives in us by His Spirit and we now live our life in imitation of, and motivated by, the One who loved us and gave himself for us.



Share your response to today's word and Scripture readings in the Words Art & Faith Challenge Group on Facebook. Or share on social media with #resurrectionwords. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Resurrection Words Day 13: Kingdom

 


Day 13: Kingdom

"For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves." Colossians 1:13

One of the many blessings that comes to those who live the resurrection life is that we are now a part of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the reign He brings about on earth through Jesus Christ. When Jesus began his earthly ministry, he proclaimed, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near". Jesus Christ came to earth to fulfill the prophecy of the Old Testament. Through Him God's presence is in and with His people. In His person and ministry the kingdom has become a present reality.

Because God has brought us into the kingdom through His Son, we are now kingdom people.

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."  1 Peter 2:9-10

"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." Titus 2:11-14

As kingdom people, we are, therefore, called to a particular way of life. We see this in the passage above from the book of Titus, where we are called to live "upright and godly lives". When? In this present age. For the kingdom of God, while it is present in and among us through Christ, it will not reach its fullness until Jesus returns. As Paul says in the passage above: we are called to live godly lives now while we wait "for the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I am fascinated with the already/not yet nature of the kingdom of God. It is already present, but not yet fully arrived. We, who are in Christ, are already holy, yet we will spend out life becoming holy. 
"For now, Christians live in a great theological tension: we already possess every spiritual blessing in Christ, but we do not experience the fullness of these blessings yet. In one sense, we are already adopted, redeemed, sanctified, and saved; in another, these experiences are not yet fully ours. Underneath this theological and practical tension are the two comings of Christ. In his first coming, he inaugurated the last days; in his second coming, he will complete them. In the meantime, we live for now in “the overlap of the ages." David Briones, NT Professor, Westminster Theological Seminary

Professor Briones continues,  "If we are to live biblically in between the times, we must trust the indicatives and obey the imperatives. Biblical indicatives are another way of expressing the already: 'You are holy!'. Imperatives express the not yet: 'Be holy!'."

"...What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him." 2 Peter 3:11-14

Paul reminds us "to live lives worthy of God who calls you into his kingdom and glory". 1 Thessalonians 2:12

We are to live as kingdom people, with the Spirit of God in us, in anticipation of His Second Coming when we will experience His kingdom in all its fullness and glory.



Share your response to today's word and Scripture readings in the 
Words Art & Faith Challenge Group on Facebook. Or share on social media with #resurrectionwords. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Resurrection Words Day 12: Freedom

 


Day 12: Freedom

"Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 22 Corinthians 3:17

"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:15-23

"So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released [set free] from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." Romans 7:4-6

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love." Galatians 5:13

I'm going to ask you to do something a little different today. I'd like to ask you to read through the above passages, slowly. 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead provides freedom from the condemnation and guilt of sin for those who believe in the Son of God. This is good news for those who think they can never be good enough, holy enough. This is good news for those who try harder and harder to earn God's approval by pleasing Him with good behavior. This is good news for those who feel like their sin is so bad they can never draw near to God, let alone be loved by Him. This is good news for every single one of us.

Now, read through them slowly again. Meditate on them. Pray through them. Let them sink into your hearts. Rejoice in the freedom we have in and through Christ.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor 3:17), so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." )John 8:36)

And as Paul told the Galatians: Use that freedom to go and serve one another humbly in love. 


Share your response to today's word and Scripture readings in the Words Art & Faith Challenge Group on Facebook. Or share on social media with #resurrectionwords.