Monday, November 30, 2015

Advent Journal - Wonder Magnified!

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent and our pastor spoke on the theme, "Wonder Magnified." Oh how wonderful it is to know that because of Jesus' coming we can dwell with God without fear. The debt for our sins was paid in full when Jesus died on the cross. Zechariah's words in Luke 1:67-79 examine this wonder as he rejoices, "we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days." He describes the coming of our Savior as a sunrise reaching us who sat in darkness. Ponder this good news with me as we enter into this Advent season!

During Advent I have set aside a special notebook for my journaling and devotions. I will be using many devotions to lead my bible (I just couldn't settle on one this year). I am hoping to be consistent, but knowing our moving date is soon (Dec 18th!) I'm not going to be too hard on myself. I also know, however, that staying rooted in the Word during this busy season and an especially busy time for our family will keep me strengthened, less stressed out, and help me be looking for Jesus in all of the craziness.

I found this little notebook at Tuesday Morning for just $5. I just added a few stickers to the front of the journal. I like the size and having a lined page next to a blank page - perfect for a little writing and a little creative journaling.

This morning I read the Advent devotion on My Kingdom Come (here) and journaled this page in response. What a great reminder to use this Advent time to examine and prepare our hearts, heeding the voice calling out to prepare the way!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Reflecting on a Year of Bible Journaling

It's been almost a year since I began this new way of connecting to the Word through Bible Journaling. I'm so grateful for this process and how God has used it to draw me in closer. God has used the time to rebuild and reform and reestablish how I see myself - as His child - worthy, loved, valued, included, and created for a purpose. That outlook will be important this next year as my family establishes a new home in a new state. (Yes, we are moving again after just 2 1/2 years in this house.)

God reminded me this year that He is trustworthy and faithful. People and circumstances of this world can hurt and disappoint us, but when we put our full trust in Him, our outlook changes and we can face those trials of the world as we keep our eyes on Jesus and our hearts rooted in His love for us. I've experienced some personal hurts this year and broken relationships, but I believe God is using these experiences to make my heart a little more tender towards others and give me courage to step out and trust in Him as I build new relationships in West Virginia. (Yes, we are crossing the border - but only a little bit.)

God has walked with us each and every step as we've investigated and considered this move. For me, Bible journaling has been an important part of my prayer time and discerning His voice as we took each step forward. Truth be told, I wasn't a fan of the idea of moving when my husband brought it up last summer, but I promised to pray about it. God met me there and changed my heart. He also began to line up events that kept leading us in this direction. He revealed Himself to us and let us know he is with us as we walk a new path.
We are excited and looking forward to what God has in store for us in Harpers Ferry, WV. We go forth knowing that whatever happens (for certainly in this world there is bad with the good) we need not fear for we have planted ourselves in faith and our God is near to us.

Friday, November 13, 2015

What a Friend...Bible Journaling

"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you..." John 15:15-16

I read a devotion about friendship recently (see it here). It talked in part how friendships can sometimes fall apart and how painful that can be. This just tugged at my heart as I have recently gone through the demise of a friendship I treasured so much. Yes, opening up yourself and loving people who are human, messy, and mortal, can hurt when they (and/or we) fail, sin, mess up, leave, die. It hurts - a lot. It's confusing, painful, sad. We can easily become fearful of loving and opening ourselves up to those kind of relationships where we make ourselves so vulnerable.  As I was reading and lamenting my own broken frienship (as well as loved ones I've lost through death), I found the words I needed. The words I needed were the ones found in my bible spoken by the ultimate and true friend - Jesus.
Jesus is faithful. Jesus is true. Jesus is love. Jesus calls me his friend. And when our earthly relationships don't work out as we had hoped, we just have to go hold Jesus' hand and walk with him for a bit. He is our friend. He is the friend that willingly laid down his life to give us eternal life. His love is so true and deep and strengthening that spending just a little bit of time with him fills up our tanks enough to step out again, let go of that fear, and love like he does (or at least keep trying).

As I look at these open pages in my Bible I am so grateful for how God has been pulling me in close. There are several entries on these two pages (many of you ask how you can do this). Using 1/2 pages or smaller areas to respond to the Word is one way. I love how the pulled out passages work so well together. Do you see it? Adding the acetate (clear plastic) insert (this one alread had the "together" printed on it and is from Simple Stories) just adds another dimension and reminder of God's close presence to us.

After journaling this message in my bible and looking through my camera to take a picture I saw peeking through my clear insert another message from my friend, Jesus. "Your sorrow will Turn to Joy" is the heading before John 16:16. Jesus takes any pain we feel - rejection, loss, grief - and turns it into joy. He's that big! He's that kind of friend!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Little Red Cup Doesn't Speak For Me - I Confess "Jesus Saves!"

There has been much dialogue lately over a red cup. My pastor published a short devotion and I journaled this page in response.
Romans 10:8-10 states: "The word is near you, in your mouth and in yoiur heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if yoiu confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
It's not up to a secular business and a little red cup to declare Christ to the nations - it's US who confess with our mouths the faith held in our hearts. It is WE who are called to speak of Jesus and his saving grace!

(These are my pastor's words as he published on our church facebook page.)
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:9-10). “I am outraged as a Christian I tell ya! Outraged!” It seems that for the last few days the word of choice has been – “outraged”. About what you ask? Coffee cups. Yep, plain ol’ coffee cups that are red. Can you feel the rage welling up inside? Are you seething yet? Starbucks cups are red because of the approaching season and that’s ok. Why get all bent out of shape about what is (or is not) printed on a cup. Their purpose is to serve customers regardless of the type of holiday they will celebrate in December. It is their business to sell you coffee and how they package their product has nothing to do with Jesus. They are a secular company, selling a product that is enjoyed by a variety of different people who may or may not share your religious views. When did it become the job of a secular company to share Jesus? Really, when did it become the responsibility of a coffee company to go out into the world and bring the light of Christ? This really got me to thinking about responsibility and confessing faith. As Christians it is our responsibility to share the hope, joy, promise, love, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus – not Starbucks. Paul points out to us that there is a connection between an expression of faith and what our hearts possess. The heart of Starbucks – profit. Your heart – faith in Christ. The mouth of Starbucks – enticement to buy more coffee. Your mouth – a confession of faith in Christ. To place the responsibility of the Gospel on a company with a heart for profit is not at all beneficial or acceptable. From their heart comes a confession of their faith – profit and market share. But from your heart and mouth comes a confession of faith in Jesus Christ and the salvation He won for you on the cross. The coming Christmas season will have all kinds of different messages ringing in our ears. Why add unnecessary noise about cup colors that will simply blot out a more important message? If you want to add to the conversation why not boldly and unashamedly confess Christ who humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross? Why not confess His resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven? Leave the secular corporations to their thing and the silly outrage to others while you confess what you believe in your heart….that Jesus saves!