Jesus


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Art Journal Note:

To create this page I used some chipboard letters to draw around, then I drew some ‘strings’ which is basically just loose lines in different random directions behind the letters to break up the background space into smaller sections. I then used a simple black rollerball pen, outlined the letters, and created some doodles and ‘zentangle’ style patterns in each section of the background.

Tip: you can easily learn how to do some of these patterns, known as ‘Tangles’! There’s a great resource available, with free ‘Tangle’ patterns at tanglepatterns.com. Each pattern has it’s own name, and very straightforward instructions can be found on the A-Z free library.

Some of the most effective patterns are really very easy when you know how to do them, step by step. (And there are also some very simple looking patterns that I just can’t get the hang of!) I have a little notebook that I use to copy some of the instructions to some of my favourite Tangles in, for future reference, and to practice in. It’s just a case of pick up a pen and have a go! It’s great fun, and really relaxing. I find it helps me to gently focus and reflect on a word or theme. 

Matthew 1 v 21

“…and you are to give him the name Jesus,

because he will save his people from their sins”.

An angel told both Joseph (Matthew 1 v 21) and Mary (Luke 1 v 31) individually that they were to call the coming baby ‘Jesus’. The name of Jesus – which is above all names – is significant and important.

It sums up the entire Gospel, the whole good news hinges on His very name.

Jesus saves His people from their sins.

If you could sum up the entire Christian faith, centuries of theology, every sermon ever preached, the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation, every prayer ever prayed, and every redeemed heart’s praise in just one word, it is simply:

‘Jesus’

Heavenly Father, thank you and praise you for the precious gift of your beloved son Jesus, who gave his life to save his people from their sins. Thank you that by His stripes I am healed, and that in His death I have life.

In the mighty name of Jesus, the name above all names.

Amen.

(Thanks to Colin Flack for reminding me of this beautiful worship song recently, I can’t get it out of my head, or heart! Inspired this post today)

People of the Cross


imageThis page in my Faith Art Journal is different, and this explanation may also be a bit different to usual.

My heart ached when I saw the news last weekend about the 21 Egyptian Christians who were persecuted and murdered for their faith on a beach in Libya – for being ‘People of the Cross’.

We are all part of the body of Christ, and when one member of the body of Christ suffers, we all suffer. Such shock, sadness and grief.

Though the news moved on quickly – in fact within just 2 days I could not even find a trace of the story on the BBC News website anywhere – these men of God are not forgotten. God knows them all by name and they are precious to Him. We should pray for their families, and their persecutors.

I created this journal page as my own response to this news. It is an attempt to try to honour their lives in some small way, and ensure that I remember them, their bravery, courage and sacrifice. And a prompt to continue to pray daily for all my Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world who are facing intense persecution every single day – and need our prayers.

For this page I carefully chose this particular magazine image of a beach, for the following reasons:

  • The beach seemed similar to the one in the pictures from Libya.
  • The sunset seemed to me, to reflect the end of their precious lives.
  • The sky, sea and sand are coloured orange, reflecting the sun. They each wore orange, and their lives so truly reflected Jesus, the Son of God.
  • If you look closely you can see one set of footprints on the sand, which reminded me of the ‘Footprints in the Sand’ poem. They were not alone. I believe the Lord carried each one of them home.

I used a white gel pen to write ‘People of the Cross’ over the top of the image, and an orange Staedtler fineliner to write the verses from  Romans 8 v 35-39.image

I used the picture of the beach to create a pocket (by glueing it down on three sides only) and in the pocket I tucked a small envelope. On the envelope is written:

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

Colossians 3 v 3

They were People of the Cross, and they carried their crosses to the end.

Inside the envelope are the names of each of the 21 Egyptian Christians who lost their lives last week at the hands of militants who targeted them for their faith.

The Lord replied,

“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints is when I carried you.”

To read the full ‘Footprints in the sand’ poem, see: http://www.footprints-inthe-sand.com

To read an excellent reflection on this, you may want to read the following response from Jennifer Dukes Lee, entitled, “Who are we, if not the People of the Cross”.

http://jenniferdukeslee.com/tellhisstory-who-are-we-if-not-people-of-the-cross/

Please pray.

And support Christian organisations who work so hard to support the persecuted church, such as:

https://barnabasfund.org/

http://www.opendoorsuk.org/

Clothe Yourselves

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Art Journal Note: 

For these pages I used watercolour pencils for the background, and just softened and blended the colours slightly with a damp brush. Inspired by this verse, I used a clothes catalogue to cut out an image of the woman, and also some outfits (from photos where the model is in a similar position). I left little ‘tabs’ around the edges to create this ‘paper doll’ effect (AKA Bunty comic circa 1979!). I wrote out most of the verse in black pen, and also used alphabet stamps for the ‘Clothe Yourselves’ part. I love the hat, to represent ‘love’ – which kind of completes the outfit! 

Colossians 3:12-14 The Message

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Just as every morning we choose what to wear for the day ahead, we also get to choose how to live our lives as a Christian. It’s important to make the right choices every day. It helps us to ‘be prepared’.

Living in the UK, I think I’ve finally understood the best clothes to wear, all year round, are LAYERS. Lots of layers. And the top layer should ideally be waterproof! Then I’m ready for whatever the day brings, hot or cold, rain or shine and everything in between.

These verses from the book of Colossians give us a practical, visual illustration of how we should live our lives. How to live out our faith. It’s what a ‘Christian’ looks like. This is not just skin deep, superficial, or airbrushed, it’s not a mask or an act we put on. These are instructions on how we are to be from the inside out – how we should think, what we should say, how we should act.

Here is a reminder that God has chosen us all to be His people, and we are ‘holy and dearly loved’. God shows each of us unsurpassing compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and above all – love. We are all reminded in this verse that we are to forgive others as we ourselves have been forgiven.

It is important how we act and react with other people. Jesus commanded us to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ and to ‘love one another as I have loved you’.

I’m sure it’s no secret that not everyone is easy to love. Or even get along with. (If we are honest we know we are not easy to love or get along with all the time either). And it often takes conscious effort – an act of the will – to decide to hold your tongue, to forgive, to let go, to turn away, or turn towards, to act kindly, to bless, to do helpful things for someone, even when they have upset us, to think of their needs and their burdens, and to support others practically, emotionally and spiritually.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you love me, and you have chosen and forgiven me. You have shown me such mercy and grace, thank you for being gentle, kind and patient with me. Help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me. I pray that you would help me to show your love to others in all I think, say and do, every day.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Kindness and Love of God

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Art Journal Note:

For this page I used a simple watercolour painted background. When it had dried, I used a ruler & pencil to draw some wonky diagonal lines all the way down the page all at different angles. I then pencilled in roughly where the words would go, filling each line completely with all the letters as they increased and decreased in size. It was quite fun! When I had roughly positioned the letters, I went over it all in a black roller-ball pen. The words did seem to bunch up a bit by the end of the page as I thought I might run out of space, but it doesn’t really matter!


Titus 3 verses 4-7 is one of my absolute favourite passages of Scripture:

But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us,not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (NIV)

And to read it in the Amplified Bible really brings it to life even more!

But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour to man [as man] appeared, He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He poured out [so] richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Saviour.[And He did it in order] that we might be justified by His grace (by His favor, wholly undeserved), [that we might be acknowledged and counted as conformed to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action], and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope.

To me, these three verses sum up the entire gospel – this is the essence of the good news of Jesus!

It covers all aspects of life: our sin, how we cannot earn our salvation, it tells of God’s mercy, how we are washed and cleansed from our sins, born again in Jesus, baptised in the Holy Spirit, and having been made right with God, how we have an exciting future in Him.

This is a beautiful recap of all that God has done for us. All the truths we need to know.

It’s a message of hope.

After giving this powerful truth-packed summary of all that God has done for us, Paul says this:

This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Here, Paul shows us that it’s good to remind ourselves of the basics, the core essentials of our faith. It reminds me a bit of the Apostles Creed, which again, I really love – there’s something incredibly powerful when a group of believers all state what they believe, out loud all together. It builds our faith and we encourage one another.

And the reason Paul was giving this truth-packed summary of faith was so that we may ‘do what is good’. When we really deeply know and experience God’s kindness, goodness and mercy, we can’t help but respond by offering ourselves to Him in willing surrender and service.

Heavenly Father, Your kindness and love amaze me. Thank you for sending Your son, Jesus  Christ, my Lord and Saviour, to die for me, to save me from my sins and to make me right with You. Thank you for pouring out your Holy Spirit upon me generously! Thank you for giving me hope of eternal life.

Father God, I echo the words of Simon Peter (John 6 v 68), as he said to Jesus:

‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’

Help me to serve you with my whole heart in all I do. 

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

Overflow with Hope

Overflow with Hope
Overflow with Hope

Art Journal Note:

On this page I used two magazine images that I had cut out and mounted onto some plain white paper. I ripped around the edges for a softer effect, then glued them onto some lovely green background paper. The verse and prayer were just written out on some plain white paper using a brown Staedtler ball pen.

“May the God of hope

fill you with all joy and peace

as you trust in Him,

so that you may overflow with hope

by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15 v 13

This is one of those verses that is power-packed and full of truths and promises.

A verse to read a few times, slowly, and think about. Not just skip past thinking, ‘well that’s a lovely encouraging verse’ and move on without thinking about what it really means? What is God asking me to do here? And why?

To me, there seems to be a clear link here between trusting in God and then Him filling us with all joy and peace.

If we need joy? Trust in the God of hope. He will fill us with all joy.

If we need peace? Trust in the God of hope. He will fill us with all peace.

And then there’s the ‘so that’.

I’ve been working through an excellent Bible study by Wendy Blight, ‘Living So That’ (see previous blog post ‘Eating Your Words’ http://wp.me/p56iEe-3J ) and now I find myself constantly on the lookout for verses with the phrase ‘So That’ – to really look and see what the purpose of the verse is! It’s really helpful to unlock Scripture, and there are hundreds of them!

In this verse, the purpose of us trusting in our God of hope is not ‘so that’ He can fill us with all joy and peace – though that is what He does!

As we trust in the God of hope and He fills us with all joy and peace, this is so that we ‘may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’

The God of hope passes on His hope to us.

He passes on so much hope, we literally overflow with it.

And it’s the Holy Spirit powerfully working in our lives, who causes us to overflow with this hope that comes from God Himself. Just like the images of the waterwheel, as the Holy Spirit flows through us and over us, He turns us, moves us, enables us to generate hope for others.

We can truly be salt and light in this broken world by being people who are overflowing with hope.

If we are feeling a bit hopeless, or are finding it difficult to trust in God, we need to return to the Word of God. Romans 15 v 4 says:

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

So the Word of God exists to encourage us and to give us hope. (Note the ‘so that’ in this verse too!) Lets read our Bibles regularly, prayerfully and expectantly!

Heavenly Father, you are the God of hope. I put my trust in You and ask that You would fill me with all joy and peace today. Holy Spirit, flow through me and over me by your power, cause me to overflow with hope, for your glory.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

Give thanks

Give thanks

Art Journal Note:

For this page I used some paper I had marbled using some old pink and green nail varnish! I also used a card template I have with a bird and some branches and leaves, to trace around and cut out the shapes. I simply arranged the shapes, stuck them down and wrote in the verse with a black roller pen.

Tip 1: How to marble with nail varnish:   half fill an old container (e.g. ice cream tub) with water, add some drops of nail varnish, swirl them gently with a cocktail stick or cotton bud, and then (ideally wearing gloves) dip some small pieces of paper (or other items) into the water through the coloured varnish and up out the other side.

This was my first attempt at marbling with nail varnish, to be totally honest it wasn’t a huge success – it was very messy, I didn’t wear gloves, I only managed to do a couple of scraps of paper before I gave up, and the house then reeked with the smell of nail varnish for a couple of days as the paper dried! If you are still interested in having a go (!) do let me know how you get on! I’m sure you’ll have more success than me. But it was fun to try something new and I did manage to get a couple of pretty scraps of paper out of it, and when the smell had finally faded I used the prettiest marbled paper to make this lovely little page!

Tip 2 (yes 2 today!): You don’t have to be fantastic at drawing, it’s OK to use templates! You can search online for free downloads of templates, to print off onto card and cut out. I often use these as home-made stencils to draw around or trace. I forget where I found the template for this particular bird and branches, but there are loads out there, birds, animals, nature, shapes, flowers, butterflies, alphabets….I have a few collections printed off and cut out, kept in little envelopes, that I return to time and again. I also like ones that look like labels that are good when cutting out shapes on lovely paper for journaling.

Psalm 136 verse 1

“Give thanks to the LORD,

for He is good.

His love endures forever.”

‘His love endures forever’ is found 26 times in this one Psalm! It’s the response that all the people made to the declarations of who God is, and all that He has done for His people. It’s a Psalm that begins and ends with thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving builds our faith and gives God the glory!

It’s good for us to remember with grateful hearts who God is, and all He has done for us. Thanksgiving helps us remember, and remembering generates expectancy in our hearts that God will continue to work in our lives.

Heavenly Father, I give you thanks, for you are good and your love endures forever! You are the God of gods, Lord of lords, you alone do great wonders – you are the creator of all things! Thank you that you are for us, and work in our lives. You remember us, you give us freedom and provide for all our needs. I declare today that your love endures forever. Your love will never end, never fail, will never run out.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

I am your Shepherd

I am your Shepherd
I am your Shepherd

Art Journal Note: 

I just had to use this beautiful image of the shepherd and lamb that I came across in a magazine. The image was quite large and I had to ‘crop’ it smaller to make it fit on the page, and I just glued it in – it deserves a page to itself! On the adjacent page I wanted to use part of an image of ‘green pastures’ and ‘still waters’ (again, another magazine find!) and painted a basic watercolour background for the image to rest on. As the Bible verse for this page is actually a whole Psalm, I typed and printed it out before gluing it into the art journal. If I’d tried to write it by hand I’m sure I would have run out of room!

Psalm 23 with a difference! 

I’ve been reminded lately of the time (a few years ago) when God spoke to me powerfully through the well-known and well-loved words of Psalm 23, giving me a totally fresh meaning and perspective to this passage. When reading the Psalm I felt that God was speaking it over me, and that rather than me saying “The Lord is my Shepherd,” that God was actually saying to me: “I am your Shepherd.” The reworked Psalm reads like this:

I am your Shepherd,

You shall not be in want.

I make you lie down in green pastures,

I lead you beside quiet waters,

I restore your soul.

I guide you in paths of righteousness

for my name’s sake.

Even though you walk through the valley

of the shadow of death,

You will fear no evil,

For I am with you;

My rod and my staff, they comfort you.

I prepare a table before you in the presence

of your enemies.

I anoint your head with oil;

Your cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow you

all the days of your life,

And you will dwell in my house for ever.

I can’t tell you how much this impacted me and has given me great encouragement, comfort and strength, especially at those times when I so frequently feel like a lost, scruffy, muddy little lamb, stuck in a ditch, bleating frantically, and desperately needing Him to gather me in His loving arms and carry me close to His heart (ever felt like that?).

Well that’s exactly what God loves to do. Isaiah 40 verse 11 says this:

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.”

(Incidentally this is a great verse for parents to pray regarding their children, and that last line is just for you!)

In my Faith Art Journal I just had to use this beautiful image which perfectly sums up how I feel about being safe in the arms of the Lord, my Shepherd. Notice in this picture how He’s not afraid to get His hands dirty, or his clothes. Whatever state we are in, He just wants to hold us tight and get us back home safely.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you are my Shepherd and you provide for all I need. You guide me. You give me rest. You restore my soul. You are with me, and your presence – your perfect love – casts out all fear. In You, I am safe, blessed abundantly and have hope for my life and for the future. Thank you!

And I thank you for the precious love demonstrated by the Lord Jesus who said “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10) and who then went on to lay down His life for me.

My heart’s desire is to know your voice and follow you always. Help me to listen for you, to walk with you and to remain close to your heart.

In Jesus name,

Amen

And finally…just to remind you that Spring is just around the corner…..

Learning, growing and expressing my Christian faith through the pages of my art journal