A resolution for 2018 #BibleJournaling

2 Comments

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Are you all set for 2018… new calendars up, dreams and goals written down, diet started? Just kidding! It’s early days, I know. Still, it’s not too soon to start thinking about what we want the year ahead to look like.

One resolution that hits my list every year is to get more of God’s word into me in the coming 12 months. David Kitz writes about that in Chapter 22 of Psalms Alive, a chapter that delves into the “Beth” section of Psalm 119 (Psalm 119:9-11).

My Bible journaling response was to verse 11 of that chapter.

“Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against you.”

IMG_0783

I was particularly challenged by Kitz’s drilling down into what it means to hide God’s word in our hearts:

“How do I hide God’s Word in my heart? The answers may seem obvious. Hear it. Read it. Study it. Meditate on it. Apply it to life. Commit it to memory.

Most often understanding springs out of application, not out of hearing. I can hear a particular truth a thousand times but it isn’t really mine until I apply it to my own life. Applied truth bears fruit. It yields results” – Psalms Alive p. 200 (emphasis added).

To do my journal response I made a heart out of parchment paper, attached it, with Washi tape, to the outside edge of the page as a tip-out, then doodled on the heart and behind it some ideas of how to hide God’s word in my heart. (Other materials used: colored pencils, Pigma Micron pens)

IMG_0784 (1)

May we spend time in 2018 hiding God’s word in our hearts—in all the ways we can!

Surrounded by songs #BibleJournaling

Leave a comment

I’ve found several Bible verses to go along with my 2017 word LISTEN. One is Zephaniah 3:17:

“The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Isn’t that beautiful? I had to make an entry for it in my journaling Bible.

The image that comes to mind when I hear that verse is a mother singing to her baby. I decided to try doing a baby sketch, but in a tree. A google image search pulled up a graphic that I somewhat copied.

I found simple bird sketches in The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling and penciled them in freehand, then inked over all the pencil lines with Pigma Micron pens (I have three: .01, .03, .05). I used pencil crayons to do the coloring.

Zeph 3-17(1)

Entry for Zephaniah 3:17 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

A little sequel:
Last week was my birthday. The morning after, as I lay in bed, the thought came to me: I forgot to spend some birthday time with the Lord yesterday.

As I breathed my “So sorry Lord” prayer, it was like He said to me, “That’s okay. I still have a present for you. It’s the music that I sing over you.”

About an hour later, hubby and I were in church at our early morning prayer meeting. We start that time with worship and this morning our leader, Joel, began with the beautiful song “No Longer Slaves” (Bethel Music). It starts:

“You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
All my fears are gone…”

{{Shivers}} What a birthday present! Thank you Lord!!

Save

A Traveler’s Advisory (review)

1 Comment

A Traveler's AdvisoryA Traveler’s Advisory by Marcia Lee Laycock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In A Traveler’s Advisory, author Marcia Laycock takes readers from the Arctic Circle to the jungles of Papua New Guinea and home again. Each of the 52 meditations draws spiritual lessons from a travel experience (sections are titled “In the Air,” “On the Road,” “On Vacation,” and “Far Away Places”) and make practical applications to life.

Written in Marcia’s characteristic warm, easy-to-read style, they make for fascinating and uplifting reading. Some of my favorites:

– Most fun: “Sea Shells and the Process of Faith” (p. 111)—hunting for sea shells on a Papua New Guinea beach.

– Sadly relatable: “A Wrong Turn to the Right Place” (p. 34)— going in circles is not fun!

– Would make my bucket list: “Angels in the Badlands” (p. 71)—a visit to the Passion Play in the Alberta Badlands.

– Most scary: “Doubts in the Storm” (p. 41)—being stuck on a highway from the Yukon to Alaska in a snowstorm.

– Most beautiful: “Small Miracles” (p. 87)—a hike through the Sepik area of New Guinea.

– Most weird: “An Appreciation of Light” (p. 73)—a trek through some skeleton-filled caves, a relic of cannibalism, in New Guinea.

Through these devotions we discover that God’s voice, help, direction, comfort, and protection can find us wherever we are.

A Traveler’s Advisory would be a wonderful volume to read while on holiday. Or if home-bound, enjoy these travels vicariously from the safety and comfort of your reading chair. Your life will be enriched and your appreciation for the Earth, its inhabitants, and the God who made them enhanced.

I received a copy of A Traveler’s Advisory from the author for the purpose of writing a review.

View all my reviews

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

2 Comments

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.

View all my reviews

Pilgrimage (review)

8 Comments

Pilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus WalkedPilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked by Lynn Austin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A series of losses, disappointments, and unpleasant surprises have pummeled Lynn Austin. She is feeling bruised, spiritually dry, and, in plain words, depressed. And so she has high hopes for an opportunity to travel around Israel for two weeks:

“Spiritual renewal is what I long for … as I begin this pilgrimage. I want to see the bigger picture of His plan and learn to accept His will in all things. I want to revitalize my prayer life. … Maybe I’ll be able to let go of my own will and face the changes in my life with joy and faith” – Pilgrimage, Kindle Location 97.

Pilgrimage is Lynn Austin’s account of that two-week trip. But it is much more than a travelogue. For in it she gives the historical background of each stop. She reviews for us the Bible events that happened in each location. She explains Bible customs from her knowledge enriched by research for the many biblical fiction novels she’s written. And she probes those Bible events and characters for insights and lessons she can take back with her into everyday life.

Some things I really liked about this book were the lyrical descriptions of modern sites in Israel as seen through Austin’s eyes, the review of what happened at each location, and the explanations of interesting customs that add richness and depth to an understanding of the Bible. And I gained an appreciation of the humanity of this author (whose novels I’ve enjoyed) as she shared openly about her life.

One aspect of the book that disappointed me, though, was the way Austin explained her situation and feelings in the first chapter and then, throughout most of her travels, she merely named the feelings she was grappling with (anxiety, discouragement, impatience, worry, etc) without relating them to specific incidents or triggers. It seemed like a type of “telling’ versus “showing” and didn’t have the impact one would expect that kind of memoir-writing to have. Perhaps a more engaging way of relating these personal incidents would have been to leave that list out of Chapter One and tell about these events in bits and pieces throughout her travels. As it was, I had to keep reminding myself why she was feeling so negative—Oh right, that list from Chapter One. When she did include stories of her life that her travels brought to mind, my interest immediately picked up.

Pilgrimage would make a wonderful read-along guide for people touring Israel. Many locations are chapter titles and of course digital copies of the book are searchable so no worries if your itinerary differs from hers, just search the location you wish to read about: Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Joppa, Caesarea etc.

For anyone who loves Israel or hopes to tour the Holy Land, Pilgrimage is a good historical and devotional resource.

I received my copy of Pilgrimage as a gift from Bethany House (via NetGalley) for the purpose of writing a review.

View all my reviews

Despite Doubt (review)

3 Comments

Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident FaithDespite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith by Michael Wittmer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In his book Despite Doubt: Embracing A Confident Faith, Michael E. Wittmer sets out to counter the popular myth that faith is stepping blindly into the unknown. Real faith, he says, is based more on what we know than what we don’t. He makes his argument about faith and doubt within the realm of believing in the Bible and the tenets of the Christian faith.

Wittmer tackles this challenge in a two-pronged way, dividing the book into two parts. In Part One—“Belief In God”—he analyzes skepticism and shows how a belief in the existence of God is not only credible but that it is virtually impossible to live consistently as if no God existed. Some of the titles of chapters in this section give us a sense of his range of topics: “God,” “Jesus,” “Bible,” “Belief,” “Disciplines,” and “Faith.”

Part Two—“Following God”—deals with the nitty gritty of living out one’s faith. In chapters such as “Trust,” “Faithfulness,” “Promise,” “Call,” “Assurance,” and more, he deals with issues like how do we know we’re hearing from God? What sets us apart as people of faith? How can we have assurance of Salvation? Who are heroes of faith?

Wittmer says much that is practical and applicable to everyday life. Here are some of his useful insights that I underlined:

From the chapter “Unbelief” (Part 1):

“We must always be at least a little suspicious of doubt, for while not all doubt is sin, all doubt does come from sinners. Sinners have an ax to grind. We are not morally neutral. We have a vested interest in disproving Jesus, for if He is Lord, then we can’t be” – p. 86, 87.

“If we plan to continue our rebellion, we’ll need to conceal our sin beneath a thick smoke screen of intellectual problems” – p. 89.

From the chapter “Trust” (Part 2):

“Every act of willing obedience comes down to trust” – p. 109.

From the chapter “Jump”:

“Faith starts from assurance and proceeds to risk. … Counterfeit faith starts from uncertainty and leaps for assurance” – p. 115.

From the chapter “Fruit”:

“Faith means to commit to what we know and what we know for sure is what God has revealed in Scripture” p. 145.

Though I did enjoy the book, at the deepest level it left me unstirred somehow. Perhaps that’s because it downplayed the possibility of hearing from God personally and glossed over the Holy Spirit-empowered lifestyle pictured in the early church of the New Testament. Rather, Wittmer seems content with a towing-the-line, status quo faith that plods on dutifully following the Bible but lacks the warmth of personal friendship with God:

“Comfort can easily become an idol that we pursue above God, but a comfortable, middle-class existence is not necessarily an indication of sin. It may simply mean we’re prudent. Paul never commanded Christians to take radical risks for God … Rather than focus on how much we’re risking for God, we should concentrate on God’s promises and commands” – pp. 169,170.

Despite my reservations, I would say Despite Doubt is a worthwhile read. It would be a valuable addition to the library of apologists, pastors, teachers, and anyone dealing with seekers, especially if they’re of a philosophical bent. A study guide with three questions per chapter is included at the end of the book, making Despite Doubt a good choice for study groups.

I received Despite Doubt as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

View all my reviews

December prompt: light

Leave a comment
Christmas lights and decorations

Some of my 2012 Christmas lights and decorations.

In my part of the world December, and Christmas, take place during the darkest part of the year.  Our December days are short, the nights long. Perhaps that’s one reason lights are such a big part of our Christmas decor.

When I think about the spiritual aspect of Christmas and light, one of the first things that comes to mind is all the Old Testament yearning and prophecies about the coming of a light-bringer.

It starts as far back as Numbers 24:17:

“I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel…”

and continues with the prophets, like Isaiah 9:2:

“The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined”

and Malachi 4:2:

“But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings…”

Light was a big part of Jesus’ birth too.

– The wise men from the east followed the light of a star: – Matthew 2:2,9.

– The glory of the Lord shone around the angel that appeared to the shepherds – Luke 2:9.

– The old man Simeon who blessed the infant Jesus at His presentation in the temple proclaimed Him “‘A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles'” – Luke 2:32.

When Jesus grew up He was recognized as light by His disciple John – John 1:4.

– He declared Himself the “light of the world” – John 8:12.

– Someday He will be the light of a heavenly city – Revelation 21:23.

This month, let’s write about LIGHT.

  • Perhaps our piece will be an essay about or poem to the lights of the season.
  • Perhaps we will write about a Christmas memory in which light (candlelight, starlight, moonlight, tree lights) played a special part.
  • Perhaps it will be a story in which the light of realization dawns on a character.
  • Or maybe we’ll want to write about how Jesus has illumined our hearts, lives and homes.

May the lights of December take on added significance as you ponder and write about LIGHT this month.