God’s Word #BibleJournaling

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I recently joined a group of friends for a creative Bible study in Psalms. Using the book Psalms Alive by David Kitz, we’ll be working our way through several Psalms in the next weeks. We share our thoughts and creations in a Facebook group (since we’re far apart geographically).

We started our study by reading David’s Preface. I underlined statements like:

“Within the Psalms we hear the deepest longings of the human heart.”

“When we handle the Word of God, we are handling life.”

and

“When we take hold of the Word of God, it takes hold of us.”

That last really grabbed my imagination, so I decided to reflect on it in a drawing. I paired it with Psalm 119:25-32, which is full of how God’s Word, interacting with us, brings changes—positive changes.

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Bible Journal  entry for Psalm 119:25-32 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Let’s accept the challenge to allow God’s word to revive us, teach us, strengthen us, give us understanding, remove things from us, and more as we move toward the goal of a God-enlarged heart:

“I will run the course of Your commandments,
For You shall enlarge my heart” – Psalm 119:32.

 

Listen #BibleJournaling

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At the beginning of each year I choose a word for the year. My word for 2017 is LISTEN.

I also always choose a Bible verse to go with that word. My verse for 2017 is John 10:3,4, where Jesus talks about the Good Shepherd calling his own sheep by name and the sheep recognizing his voice:

“To him (the sheep’s real shepherd) the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

When I started Bible journaling some months ago, my first entry was on those verses from John. I illustrated them in an old journaling New Testament I had from way back (the copyright date in that Bible is 1973). The owls in that entry signify the wisdom of listening to Jesus’ voice.

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Bible Journal entry for John 10:3,4 NIV (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

When I got my NKJV Journal the Word Bible, I illustrated that verse again. This time I did it with a cartoon-type lamb, delighted when she hears the shepherd calling her by name. How wonderfully personal it is to know that Jesus my shepherd leads me individually and personally and by name!

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Bible Journal for John 10:3,4 NKJV (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

I have done other entries on listening this year too. One is from Isaiah 50:4,5. It is in a passage prophetic of Jesus:

“He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.
The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious
Nor did I turn away.”

 

Though this is a prophecy about Messiah, I have experienced this in my own life over the years I’ve written and posted devotional writings on the blog Other Food: Daily Devos. Every morning I wake early (without an alarm clock) and as I read and study the Bible, I get something for my own life and to share with others.

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Bible Journal for Isaiah 50:4,5 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

I am really enjoying this year’s focus on LISTEN. I’d like to find some more listening verses to journal before the year draws to a close. Any suggestions?

Materials used in these doodles:
Top: black pen and pencil crayons.
Middle: Pigma Micron pens, pencil crayons, water colour crayons.
Bottom: Pigma Micron pens, pencil crayons, washi tape.

Receptive Soil #BibleJournaling

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Jesus’ parables are full of artsy drawables. Yet, when I contemplated journaling the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:11-15), illustrations of the old fashioned process of sowing grain and it falling into the literal destinations named in the parable seemed like avoiding the issue somehow. And so I asked myself, what would examples of unfruitful and fruitful soil be in my life?

That’s what I tried to portray on this page. The gold oval-shaped image in the middle is a grain of wheat. Where will it find receptive soil? Social media; preoccupation with news; involvement in sports; focus on money; interaction with friends; attending church; the whirlwind of mental stress, worry, fear and anxiety; clothes and all they imply of absorption with personal appearance and image; Bible study?

Simplistic, I know, but the passage and trying to illustrate it made me think again of my day to day life and how much of it may be unreceptive soil.

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I prepared this page with gesso before doing the art work, then used brush markers and pencil crayons to do the coloring. The grain of wheat is colored with an acrylic marker (gold). The gesso worked great—there was no bleed through with the brush markers that usually seriously mark the back side of paper much thicker than Bible pages.

It Happened in Moscow (review)

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It-Happened-in-Moscow0001It Happened in Moscow: A Memoir of Discovery by Maureen Klassen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It Happened In Moscow begins with a surprise phone call to Herb and Maureen Klassen’s Moscow apartment in 1993. That call opened a Pandora’s box of secrets.

Herb’s parents (C.F. and Mary Klassen) had immigrated from Russia to Canada in 1928 in the nick of time, just before the doors to exit Stalin’s Communist Russia slammed shut. Though Mary’s children knew that she was a divorcée at the time she married C.F., she rarely spoke of her early life and never mentioned her 10-year first marriage. Even Harold (her son by that marriage) only found out about his birth father at his 16th birthday when C.F. and Mary sat him down to reveal the truth. Both C.F. and Mary had since died, so many questions about Mary remained unanswered.

Now the female voice on the other end of that phone call claimed she was Harold’s younger sister Erika.

If this was indeed so, could Erika hold answers to the mystery of Mary’s first marriage? Did she know what had happened to Mary’s first husband (and Harold’s father)? Could she shed light on how an entire generation of Russian Mennonites had fared during that period in Russia?

It Happened in Moscow is memoir—the unfolding of a fascinating family discovery through Maureen Klassen’s eyes. In 1993 Maureen and Herb Klassen were working for Mennonite organizations in Moscow and were fluent in Russian and German. These things made them the perfect recipients for the information that Erika had gleaned in her search for family. Via Erika, the family learned the fate of Jacob (Mary’s first husband) and thousands of Mennonites who were hindered from or chose not to immigrate from Soviet Russia.

Maureen Klassen’s charitable depiction of the two main players in this tale (Mary and Erika) make this an uplifting and pleasurable story to read. Historically, the way it shines a light on years of religious repression under the Communists makes it an integral piece of the Mennonite puzzle. It is also a testimony to God’s faithfulness through generations.

If you’re interested in Mennonite history or even just enjoy a well-crafted memoir with lots of human interest delivered in cultural detail with historical accuracy, you’ll love this book.

(My sister-in-law who, with my brother, lived for a time in Mary’s “glasshouse” in Clearbrook B.C., lent me this book.)

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Hospitality #BibleJournaling

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Are you the kind of person who likes surprises thrown into your day? Or are you a scheduler who prefers to have your day outlined in your planner and then proceed according to plan?

I’m definitely the latter. So, a few weeks ago when I read, in Matthew 14, about Jesus’ botched up day plans, I took notice.

His relative John, who had baptized Him, had recently been arrested and imprisoned by Herod. Then, through the trickery of Herod’s partner Herodias, John was beheaded. His disciples disposed of his body then went to tell Jesus.

On hearing of John’s death, Jesus’ plan was to get away to a “deserted place by Himself,” no doubt to process this sad news and to grieve.

When He got to that deserted place, however, it wasn’t deserted at all. Instead, throngs were waiting for Him there with their sick.

Did Jesus express disappointment or frustration at having His plans changed? Did he dismiss the crowds or get His disciples to do it with “Sorry! The healer isn’t seeing people today”?

No. Instead, He was moved with compassion over their conditions, spent all day healing, and at day’s end, when the disciples wanted to send the crowds home, challenged them to feed everyone before they set off.

You have to be hospitable to the core to react toward the crowds like Jesus did in the face of grief, disappointment, and wrecked plans. For hospitality is first an attitude before it comes out in action. Jesus’ hospitality was the focus of my art journal entry for Matthew 14.

To make the illustration I transferred an online image of cupped hands onto tracing paper, then drew, cut out, and pasted the loaves and fishes into them. I attached the hands to my Bible page with Washi tape as a tip-out. They symbolize Jesus’ heart of hospitality.

I hope the image of loaded hands stays with me next time someone’s needs come between me and what’s written in my planner!

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“But Jesus said to them, ‘They do not need t go away. You give them something to eat'” – Matthew 14:16 (© 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

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Fire Test #BibleJournaling

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You may have heard about the wildfires that are devastating the interior of B.C. Here in the southwest corner of the province we have been getting a daily reminder of those fires in hazy, smoke-filled skies. Though we’ve had a stretch of clear weather, the sky lights up late and darkens early under an other-worldly red sun.

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The sun Sunday, 8:00 p.m. (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

But I’m not complaining. Especially not when I think of the hundreds that have been evacuated from their homes and those who have lost them altogether to the flames.

The recent smoky skies have brought to mind a Bible woman who lost her home to fire. Lot’s wife reacted like I can see myself acting when strangers hurried her, her husband Lot, and their two daughters from their home in Sodom. She didn’t want to go. I think we can say that her look back showed how conflicted she was about leaving home (read the story in Genesis 19:15-26).

Last week I did a Bible art journal entry on Lot’s wife. I drew her frozen in time, looking back at her burning city.

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Then I added, as a tip-in page, a poem I wrote about her nine years ago. In it, I tried to imagine what was going through her mind as she was being pulled away from her home.

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Fire Test

Who are these strangers to command we leave?
Right now? You wear the embroidered robe
I’ll take the pouch. What about food
and drink, our girls’ betrothed?

Why are we rushing from all we’ve ever wanted?
My beautiful home, the market so handy,
your place at the gate, our hope of grandsons?

Wait! I’m hot and thirsty, out of breath,
Reminds me of those desert days—
the dusty road, the heat
my sweaty body, my sore feet.

Where are we going? I’ve had enough of traveling!
I refuse to take another step. Turn back
to everything I own, have ever wanted, loved.

What? Is that smoke on the horizon?
Are those flames? My house, my dreams
my things—all I’ve ever lived for!
My beloved Sod—

VN – 2008

The implied question I ask myself—and the reader—through the poem is, could it be that my life is also too bound up in earthly things—my possessions, position, lifestyle, home? It’s a question that occurs to me again as I see people forced to leave their homes in real life.

It also reminds me that God will someday pass our lives through a real fire test (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). If all we’ve put our faith and hope in is our physical life on earth with all its accessories (including our houses, things, lifestyle, position, career) they will burn up then, even if they last through this life.

Let’s be sure we invest our time and talents in things that are inflammable. What would you suggest those things might be?

In a Foreign Land (review)

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In a Foreign Land (In Search of Freedom Book 2)In a Foreign Land by Janice L. Dick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Daniel and Luise Martens have built up a successful farm in northern China. The year is 1945 and fifteen years have passed since the Mennonite villagers from Slavgorod Colony of Western Siberia have escaped their Russian oppressors (story told in The Other Side of the River: Search for Freedom Book 1 – reviewed here).

Alarm bells ring from the opening pages when we discover Daniel’s Russian nemesis, Leonid Dubrowsky, is still alive and hot on Daniel’s heels for revenge.

The political unrest in Russia and China after WWII makes for a time of unrest in northern China. Daniel and other Russians who fled the Soviet Union are soon arrested and returned there as traitors. This leaves Luise and her 15-year-old bright but hot-tempered son Danny in charge of the farm.

The story takes us through the six years that follow. The fractured Martens family and their white neighbours, the Giesingers, become persona non grata in the now racially charged climate of Communist China. Danny’s temper gets him into trouble more than once. And then there’s the ever-looming shadow of Dubrowsky, who nurses the dream of wreaking vengeance on Daniel by destroying Danny and having his way with Luise.

The interesting historical plot is enhanced by the strong Christian faith of Luise and Rachel (Danny’s special childhood friend). It anchors the two families, while Danny’s questions and inability to believe that God even exists in all this turmoil adds realism to the faith aspect of the story.

I found this tale captivating from beginning to end. Dick tells the story through various viewpoints but chapters are titled with location and date so we’re always clear about when and where the incident takes place. Characters are realistic and complex. The plot is full of tension and suspense.

There is one more installment in the In Search of Freedom series. Book 3, Far Side of the Sea, is due to be released in the fall / winter of 2017.

This is a series not to be missed for historical fiction lovers, especially those with Mennonite roots.

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