We need the rain! #BibleJournaling

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Who would think, after the long, cold, wet winter and spring we’ve had, that our province (B.C.) would be panting for rain? Yet the hundreds of wildfires that have been burning for several weeks now have us praying for the relief of a physical downpour.

Hubby and I spent last weekend at a series of gospel music concerts in Red Deer, Alberta. Our drive home, though on a route well away from the fires, took us through kilometre after kilometre of smoke-filled air.

 

And so today I am attracted to the Bible art journal entry I made on July 6th. It was in response to this refreshing verse:

“For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And my blessing on your offspring.” Isaiah 44:3.

The verse brought to mind a cloud pouring drops of rain. Rain is falling on the willows (Isaiah 44:4) which are already green because they live beside the river.

My Bible study in relation to it had me hunting for passages that spoke of how Holy Spirit’s rain benefits us. I printed the verse references inside the droplets and the description beside:

A Gift – Acts 2:38
For Prophecy – 1 Peter 1:10-12
On Young and Old – Joel 2:28
We can ask – Luke 11:13
Life-Giver – Romans 8:11
Baptizer – 1 Corinthians 12:13
Prays for us – Romans 8:26,27
Spirit of Grace and Supplication – Zechariah 12:19
Helper – John 14:6; 16:7
Teacher – John 2:27: Luke 12:12
For Power – Luke 24:29; Acts 1:8

I used Pigma Micron pens for the drawing and lettering, and pencil crayons to add color.

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Bible Art Journal for Isaiah 44:3 – (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Our surroundings—the tinder-dry forests and grasses, the smoke-filled air—are eloquent reminders of how we need physical rain. Do we as readily recognize our need for the rain of the Spirit? How might our spiritual drought manifest itself?

Casting out Fear #BibleJournaling

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Hi! It’s Tuesday again–already!– and time for another Bible art journaling project.

The challenge:

In the Rebekah Jones Original Bible Art Journaling Challenges that I’ve been getting, Week 7 focused on a verse from 1 John that I’ve always struggled with: 1 John 4:18:

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18 NKJV).

I do not live a fear-free life and have often berated myself with this verse. What’s wrong with me!? My imperfect love notwithstanding, I welcomed a chance to meditate on this verse in a visual way.

The project:

Rebekah’s blog post and video lesson is HERE

If you check it out, you’ll see that her visual is a set of tags (like one would find attached to new clothes), with the words “Perfect love casts out fear” on them. The word “fear” is untied from the rest, and about to slip to the ground. It’s simple and beautiful.

As at other times, I didn’t have her supplies but loved the idea of getting rid of fear in some way. As I pondered this, a picture came to mind of “Love” as a heart, pushing “Fear” off the page.

I sketched it with pencil, outlined with Pigma Micron pens, and used pencil crayon to do the coloring.

I added the house at the top, from which fear was cast, as a symbol of my life. For in verse 16 I see:

“God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him.”

That tells me that God lives in me and if He is there, there is no room for fear in the same house.

Fear’s chain and leg irons symbolize Fear’s torment, which are thrown out together with their master.

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As I worked through the process of illustrating these verses, I believe I came to a better understanding of this difficult (to-me) passage than I ever have before. I continue to be surprised by how art journaling is adding life, color, and relevance to my Bible study.

IS IT KIND? #BibleJournaling

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Mother’s Day has just passed and I would be surprised if, in the last weekend of honouring mothers, you haven’t bumped into some reference to the model mother and wife of Proverbs 31.

In a Bible Journal instruction email I get regularly, Rebekah R. Jones challenged us to journal about this chapter. She demonstrated what she did in her Bible using a lettering stencil with a phrase from Proverbs 31.

Trouble is, I don’t have the stencil or the space on my Bible page needed for it. So instead, I thought about my favourite (and probably most challenging) verse from Proverbs 31:
“She opens her mouth with wisdom
And on her tongue is the law of kindness” – Proverbs 31:26.

Considering the space I had on my Bible page, I decided to frame my response to this verse as a short question I can ask myself: “IS IT KIND?”

I made the letters by typing the words in Cooper, font size 120, printing, then tracing them in my Bible.

I noticed a reference to this woman making tapestry (vs. 22) so doodled tapestry-like designs inside the letters using various sizes of Pigma Micron pens.  At first I was going to add colour as well but after doing the flower and heart decorations (pencil crayons) I felt the page was busy enough, so left the words in black and white.

Prov 31-26 IsItKind

This isn’t the first time I’ve meditated on the “law of kindness.” My 2015 Mother’s Day meditation in Other Food Devos was on that very subject. It even contains a list of some of the things that are part of the “law of kindness.” You can read it HERE.

I asked myself then, and still today: If someone wrote about me in a Proverbs 31 way, would they say my tongue was governed by kindness? I know the answer. A little more adding and diligence is definitely in order (2 Peter 1:5-7). What about you?

A new focus—Bible Journaling

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For the last little while things have been quiet on this blog as I haven’t been reading and reviewing as many books as I used to. However, the discovery of a new “art”—Bible journaling—will be changing that.

A little over a month ago I received, for the purpose of review, The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling. As someone who has always loved the graphic arts (though I’ve never excelled at them) this book with its examples of people’s visual responses to the Bible inspired me to try my hand at it.

As I’ve started Bible journaling and checked it out online, I’ve discovered it’s a big and only-getting-bigger area of interest for, especially, women who love the Bible, are visual learners, and good at making beautiful things. There’s so much to learn and so much to be inspired by.

I don’t expect I’ll ever reach the skill heights of lettering and drawing that many of these journalers show in the creations that illuminate the margins and sometimes entire pages of their journaling Bibles. But I love how the practice challenges me to interact with the God’s Word in a new way. And since the focus for my writing over the last few years has become “Bringing the Bible to Life” and I have this blog, I’ve decided to share a weekly Bible journaling post here. I have met other Bible journalers and hope to also feature some of them and their work.

To get started with this I searched my bookshelf and found an old Notebook New Testament from the 1970s. It’s only slightly used and with its wide margins is perfect for lettering and drawing. (I have since also bought an NKJV Journal The Word large print Bible, pictured below.)

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My first entry was for John 10:3-4—the verse connected with my one-little-word LISTEN for 2017. (I used ballpoint pen and pencil crayons.)

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Entry for John 10:3-4

My second entry was journaling my favourite passage in the whole Bible, which I think of as my life’s verses – Philippians 4:6-7. When I recite these words to myself, I envision taking off all my cares, worries, anxieties, and fears as I would a backpack, and leaving them with Jesus.

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Philippians 4:6-7

Verses from Isaiah came to mind as I worked. I especially wanted to remind myself that when I left those cares behind, I could leave wearing something far more wonderful. (I used ballpoint pen and pencil crayons for these drawings as well.)

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The 2-page spread.

I’m finding that in addition to being a lot of fun, these lettering and drawing exercises inspired by Bible passages are quite stickily helping me retain what I’ve learned.

Are you a Bible journaler? How did you discover it? What is it doing for and in you?

Complete Guide to Bible Journaling (review)

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Complete Guide to Bible Journaling: Creative Techniques to Express Your FaithComplete Guide to Bible Journaling: Creative Techniques to Express Your Faith by Joanne Fink

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before I got this book, I had only a vague idea there was such a thing as Bible journaling and no idea how to go about it or what a movement it had become. But now that I’ve read it, I’m a convert!

What a comprehensive and gorgeous guide this is!

Six sections take the reader through:

Getting Started: An explanation of what Bible journaling is and how to begin.

Tools and Techniques: A walk through many Bible journaling techniques including lettering in different styles, tracing, using stamps, drawing, coloring with colored pencils, preparing Bible pages for paint, painting with watercolour and acrylics, the use of washi tape etc. The book is lavishly illustrated with colour photos that show processes step-by-step and display the finished designs.

Artist Profiles: An introduction to eleven Bible journaling women who have connected and attracted a following on the internet (through their websites and social media). Their stories are as varied as their styles, which go from demurely decorative illustrations filling the margins of journaling Bibles to scrapbooked Bibles chubby with bold whole page paintings and attached memorabilia.

Gallery: An embarrassment of riches here, featuring 20+ pages of Bible journaling reproductions in full colour, organized by themes (“Patterning,” “Coloured Pencils,” “Line Work” etc.).

Resources and Index: In addition to an index of the book, here you’ll find lists of resources—artist websites and the favourite social media hangouts for Bible journalers.

Bonus Section: A final 30+ pages feature examples of lettering styles and simple graphic items as ideas and to copy, stickers and traceable line drawings printed on see-through vellum.

I was impressed by the artistry and beauty of the work with which these women (no, there was nary a man to be found in the pages of this book—pity, I’ll bet some guys would enjoy this as much as the girls) illuminate their Bibles.

The purpose of Bible journaling—to get individuals to interact with God’s word—gets lots of emphasis in the explanations by the authors and the stories of the profiled artists. I appreciated that.

Over and over the authors remind readers that the object of this activity is not to achieve perfect art. The tone is accepting of any effort and a celebration of the wide variety of styles and personalities that come through in the artists’ works as they dig into the Bible. The book makes you feel like you can do it too.

In addition to people who journal in their Bibles, I can see this book being useful to anyone who scrapbooks, as well as to those who enjoy crafts like making cards and wall hangings.

Perhaps not surprisingly I’ve picked out a journaling Bible (Bibles with wide lined margins, especially designed for journaling) in my favourite version and can’t wait to get started. I’m sure my Complete Guide to Bible Journaling will soon look quite used.

I received the Complete Guide to Bible Journaling from the publisher (Design Originals, an imprint of Fox Chapel Publishing) as a gift for the purpose of writing a review.

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NIV First-Century Study Bible (review)

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NIV First-Century Study Bible: Explore Scripture in Its Jewish and Early Christian ContextNIV First-Century Study Bible: Explore Scripture in Its Jewish and Early Christian Context by Kent Dobson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As someone who writes a bit of biblical fiction, the overview description of the NIV First-Century Study Bible drew me in:

“Experience the Bible through Eastern eyes by exploring the cultural, religious and historical background of the Bible. This hardcover study Bible allows you to understand God’s Word in its original cultural context, bringing Scripture to life by providing fresh understanding to familiar passages, beloved stories, and all the Scripture in between.”

As a Booklook blogger, I got a reviewer’s copy of the e-book version of this Bible. This is a review of that edition’s Bible study features, not the NIV text.

The list of features is long and impressive. I’ve checked them out and this is what I found:

This Bible’s notes (commentary study notes and translator’s footnotes) and articles do indeed focus on describing and explaining the Middle Eastern location, history, and customs of the Bible’s writers and setting.

Textual articles consist of pieces longer than study notes and supplement each book. They cover a variety topics that go from delving into the history of part of the text (like “The Oral Law”—an article on the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:7), to explaining the customs and ethics of the day (like “Joshua and the Ethics of War”), to telling about recent archeological discoveries that support the biblical record (like “Hezekiah’s Water Tunnels”), and more. These were interesting and informative.

There are word studies. I found these short, skimpy and disappointing in that the Strong’s Concordance number was not included.

Day in the Life articles explain the lifestyle and customs of Bible peoples. Some sample topics are: “Desert Shepherds,” “Slaves,” “Widows.” Because these pieces attempt to describe and explain customs spanning the Bible’s hundreds of years, they are quite general and don’t get into subtle changes that may have occurred over hundreds of years, e.g. between the patriarchs and the time of the exile or the Old and New Testaments.

There are many In-text Charts and Models. These were not all equally accessible on my e-book version. I’m not sure how they would display on different e-readers, but know that on my keyboard Kindle, many of them are too tiny to read. When they’re set up as pure text (e.g. “Ancient Texts Relating to the Old Testament”) they view just fine. However when they’re set up as graphics, text boxes or charts (e.g. “Old Testament Chronology”) the static text size, skewed spacing, and sometimes grayed graphics made them pretty well useless.

Further Study Helps include a Table of Weights and Measures, Endnotes, Bibliography, Topical Index to Articles, Glossary, Concordance, and Zondervan’s Full-Colour Maps (14). As with the charts and models, some of these things were not legible on my e-reader (like the tables and maps). I liked the Glossary, that explains Bible words and concepts, and the linked Concordance, where Scripture references are accessed by clicking on a link.

All in all, this Bible’s study features make it a great choice for anyone interested in learning more about the cultural and social setting of the Bible. For those getting it as an e-book, there is an article in the fore-matter on how to navigate this edition. Though my e-reader was unable to access all the Bible’s features, accessibility and usability no doubt vary with the type of e-reader or tablet.

Even without access to the full menu of features, the NIV First-Century Study Bible e-book version is a wonderful resource—a wealth of information, stored in one light reader, and available at one’s fingertips.

I received the e-book version of the NIV First-Century Study Bible as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

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New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (NIV) – Kindle version (review)

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New Spirit-Filled Life Bible NIVNew Spirit-Filled Life Bible-NIV-Signature by Jack Hayford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was excited when I found the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (NIV) offered for review by Thomas Nelson as an e-book. I have used the hard copy of this Bible (NKJV version) since 2005—and love it!

What sets this study Bible apart from others is its friendliness to Charismatic-Pentecostal belief. First released in 1991, the editor’s introduction tells us that it is the product of more than twenty denominations banding together to produce a study Bible that integrates the Pentecostal-Charismatic viewpoint (Jack W. Hayford is the editor).

Here are some of its study features:

Book introductions and study notes
Each Bible book contains an introduction that deals with the usual: author, date, content (summarized), and personal application. As well, each book’s introduction has a section that talks about how Christ is revealed in the book and a “Holy Spirit At Work” section. These narrative paragraphs are followed by a book outline.

Study notes and cross-references are designated with letters and numbers within the text. All are linked in the e-book version.

The list of book commentary writers is found in the Table of Contents and includes theologians like Wayne Grudem (Romans) and Jack Hayford (Ruth and Ephesians).

Word definitions (Word Wealth)
Easy-to-understand definitions for more than 550 terms make up the Word Wealth feature. In the e-book version a diamond symbol appears next to the defined word. Click on the diamond and word link and you are whisked away to the definition.

Articles on Bible themes (Kingdom Dynamics)
Various authors explore forty-one themes—values and truths that have characterized the church—called Kingdom Dynamics. They are organized into nine clusters that represent a general category of spiritual truth. Each article is linked with two references at the bottom—one to the article preceding and one to the next in the series.

For example, cluster one, “Spiritual Foundation,” contains articles on “The Word of God,” “The Blood of the Covenant,” “The Kingdom of God,” “The Pathway of Praise,” and “Worship.”

In the e-book Bible the words “Kingdom Dynamics” appear in superscript within the text and link to the appropriate article.

Practical application (Truth-In-Action)
Following each book (in the case of the Psalms a section of chapters, for the Synoptic Gospels after Luke) is a feature (Truth-In-Action) that addresses what the book teaches and how it might impact everyday life.

Charts
Thirty-seven charts are sprinkled throughout the text. Some of my favorites are “Israel’s Annual Festivals,” “Israel’s Other Sacred Times,” “The Jewish Calendar,” “The Suffering Servant” (Bible references showing how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Suffering Servant passages in Isaiah), and “The Harmony of the Gospels.”

In the e-book Bible, for some of these I need to change the orientation of the display on my e-reader from portrait to landscape so that the type displays large enough to be read.

In-Text maps
There are forty-four of these. Not all are actual maps; some are paragraphs explaining the geographical movement of characters. Again, sometimes the display orientation needs to be changed for these to be legible.

Essays
The text of the Bible is followed by a series of essays including several on how to interpret the prophesies of Christ’s second coming and Revelation, several on the work of the Holy Spirit, and more.

Concordance
The book ends with a concordance, created by John Kohlenberger III and developed specifically for use with the NIV. It contains 2,474 word entries with links to over 10,000 Scripture references.

Using the e-book version of this study Bible takes some getting used to. It’s well-indexed and linked though, so despite this Bible’s many features, it’s easy to navigate around. I find my best friends for this are the Table of Contents and the “Back” button of my device. The article “How to Use This Bible” (listed in the TOC) explains the differences between the e-book and print editions. I found it helpful.

What I like about this Bible:

– Its emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit.

– The easy-to-understand, devotional style of the articles.

– The Word Wealth feature. As a word nerd I love these. They come complete with the Strong’s Concordance number so it’s easy to look up the Greek or Hebrew word in a Lexicon and do even more in-depth word studies if you like. In the e-book version I like how the linking takes me straight to the word definition article (no paging through the Bible to where the article first appears).

– In the e-book version, every reference is linked. Again, no paging around. But it is easy to forget where I am if I’ve followed several links. “Back” button to the rescue!

– In the e-book version the font size is adjustable. My paper Bible’s font size is tiny and still the book is hefty. With an e-Bible, I can adjust the font size to suit my eyes.

My paper New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (NKJV) is getting worn with daily use. I’ve found it an invaluable help in the 41/2 years I’ve written my daily devotional blog. I am thrilled to have this favorite study Bible on my lightweight Kindle. I am ever so grateful to Thomas Nelson for offering this Kindle version of the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible (NIV) in exchange for a review.

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