Shades of HOPE #BibleJournaling

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For a Bible journaling newbie like me, how-to courses and videos are a big temptation. So perhaps it’s no surprise that a few weeks ago I signed up for Rebekah R. Jones’ “Word Study for Bible Journaling” course.

The word Rebekah chose as a focus for these video lessons was HOPE. I’ve posted the two Bible journal entries that I made after watching her presentations and doing a little more study of my own (using methods she explained). I didn’t use the graphic downloads she gave us, though, but came up with my own ideas.

The first Hope verse we journaled was in Proverbs 24:14. Here’s how it reads in my NKJV Journal the Word Bible:

“So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul;
If you have found it, there is a prospect,
And your hope will not be cut off.”

The word “prospect” intrigued me. So I looked up Prov. 24:14 in different Bible versions to see if any of them said it more clearly and found this for Proverbs 24:13,14 in the TLB:

“My son, honey whets the appetite and so does wisdom! When you enjoy becoming wise, there is hope for you! A bright future lies ahead!”

That made the idea of wisdom affecting one’s prospect (anticipation, expectation, future) a little easier to understand. I adapted the TLB wording to “Wisdom brightens the future with HOPE.” (The clover and bee take us back to verse 13, which mentions that wisdom and knowledge are sweet, like honey.)

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Bible Art Journal entry for Proverbs 24:14 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

The next Bible art journal entry was based on Romans 15:13. Here it is in the NKJV:

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of he Holy Spirit.”

Again I went to a different Bible version from my NKJV to get more shades of meaning, especially of the word “abound.” The Amplified had this:

“That by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.”

My imagination was captured by that idea of filled up to overflowing. Casting about for an image to show such overflow, I thought of a cup running over and a waterfall, but decided finally to draw my own little vi-Pad. My real-life device needs to be recharged regularly—a good metaphor, I think, for how we need to be regularly charged up with Holy Spirit power in order for those apps of Love, Hope, Peace, Joy etc. to function.

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Bible Art Journal entry for Romans 15:13 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Though I’ve completed the course, I don’t think I’m done with Hope. Don’t be surprised if you find more journal entries about Hope here in the future!

This course is still available for signups, and I’d say it’s well worth the very nominal price Rebekah charges for it. Check it out HERE.

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?

Storm (review)

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Storm: Hearing Jesus for the Times We Live InStorm: Hearing Jesus for the Times We Live In by Jim Cymbala

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jim Cymbala, who experienced Hurricane Sandy in 2012, likens it to the storm he expects will soon hit the evangelical church of North America. In Storm he gives advice to pastors and lay people about how to get ready so that the light of faith won’t be snuffed out like the city lights of Lower Manhattan were in Sandy’s wake.

“I believe followers of Jesus in America are on the cusp of something horrible. I, and many others, see the early warning signs all around” – Jim Cymbala, Storm, Kindle Location 148.

Three areas that cause him to be concerned about the American church are:

    1] The church isn’t as big or popular as it thinks it is.
    2] Personal transformation is rare.
    3] Biblical literacy is declining.

To remedy this he addresses lacks and needs in a variety of areas:
* The failure of modern models of church planting and growth (he calls them “fads and trends”).

* The need for prayer, both personal and corporate intercessory prayer.

“… the deepest secrets of prayer are only learned by spending time with God” – K.L. 805.

“Think about the people we love and worry about but rarely pray for” – K.L. 2641.

* Godly, exemplary leadership.

“… the quality of spiritual leadership can only be measured by how it looks in the Lord’s sight” – K.L. 1096.

* The need for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our churches and ministries.

* A clear, Christ-centered gospel message.

* Clarity on the difference between the Old and New Testament Covenants.

“Old Testament passages are only properly used when they ultimately point us to Jesus and the New Covenant” – K.L. 3006.

* How to live in anticipation of Christ’s return.

First person stories of people from his church whose lives illustrate the point he has just made follow chapters of teaching.

The book’s ideas are logical and the points well supported with Scripture. Cymbala speaks from a wealth of pastoral experience which gives his voice and message credibility,  passion, and urgency.

There is nothing new here, really, just a plea to get back to basics, made urgent because of how quickly events are changing the political and social landscape in America and the world. For those who have lost fervor or gotten bogged down in esoterical theology, this easy-to-read book is an invitation back to Bible essentials.

I received Storm as a gift from the publisher via BookLook Bloggers 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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Appointment in Jerusalem (review)

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Appointment In JerusalemAppointment In Jerusalem by Lydia Prince

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In December of 1926 Lydia Christensen was a successful 36-year-old Domestic Arts teacher in the city of Korsor Denmark. However, just before Christmas when her longtime friend and colleague Soren asked her to marry him, she couldn’t answer “yes.” She was fond of him alright. But was the settled life in Denmark “it”? Somehow she wanted more.

Back in Korsor after spending Christmas her family in Bonderslev, she decided to spend her vacation reading. Ignoring the literary choices on her bookshelf, she pulled out the Bible. She began to read in Matthew and soon found herself transfixed as the book came alive to her.

When she got to the beatitudes she read Jesus’ words: “Ask and it shall be given you.” Could she ask about the unnamed longing she had been feeling? How did one do that? Should she kneel” Pray aloud? Then:

“And now in the familiar room, with the sound of the clock ticking in my ears, something took place for which my whole background and education left me totally unprepared. … No longer was I looking into the back of the chair. In its place a Person was standing over me. A long white garment covered the Person’s feet. Slowly I raised my eyes upward. Above my head I saw two arms outstretched in the attitude of one bestowing a blessing. … Involuntarily a word rose to my lips: ‘Jesus!’ But even as I uttered it, He was gone” – Kindle Location 450.

Everything changed for Lydia after that. She began to study her Bible seriously and spend lots of time in prayer. She asked for believer’s baptism—a scandalous thing to do in Denmark’s staunch Lutheran culture. She attended meetings with the suspect Pentecostals. And she had more visions.

Appointment in Jerusalem is the account of the several years in Lydia’s life when she went from a secure job as a Danish teacher to doing whatever she sensed God was telling her to do in Jerusalem. There she had a remarkable ministry, especially to abandoned girls, many of whom she adopted.

She later met and married Derek Prince, author and Bible teacher. He wrote Lydia’s story with her input. Written in creative non-fiction style this fascinating biography is sure to encourage and challenge readers of any age. Its clear message of love for Jerusalem and the Jewish people is a welcome one in these days Middle East conflict.

(I read the Kindle edition of this book, which is part of my own collection.)

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March prompt: wind

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windWhat’s the saying for March–“In like a lamb, out like a lion,” or “In like a lion, out like a lamb”?  The implication is that March is a windy month.

Wind is no stranger to the Bible. It is mentioned for the first time in Genesis 8:1 when God sent a wind to help dry the earth after the flood. Many hapless Bible characters were lashed with wind in storms–Jonah for example (Jonah 1:4),  the disciples and Jesus (Mark 4:37-38), and Paul (Acts 27:14-15).

Wind also played a part in dreams and miracles. Pharaoh’s dream about Egypt’s future contained a blighting east wind (Genesis 41:23,27). An east wind also brought the plague of locusts on Egypt about 400 years later, while a west wind blew them away (Exodus 10:13,19). And a strong east wind opened the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross after they exited Egypt and were pursued by Pharaoh (Exodus 14:21-22).

Not all the winds in the Bible are of the natural variety. Who of us hasn’t pondered the beautiful 3rd chapter of John where Jesus, talking to Nicodemus, used wind as a metaphor for those born of the Spirit?

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” – John 3:8.

How appropriate, then, that the coming of the Spirit on the disciples was with the sound of “a rushing mighty wind” – Acts 2:2.

This month’s writing challenge is to write about wind.

For fiction writers:

Write a story in which a physical wind is part of the setting, or a part of one of the character’s fears or memories. Or perhaps one of your characters will come in contact with the wind of the Spirit.

For non-fiction writers:

Research wind and write a piece explaining how it works scientifically.
Or write about a personal experience with wind.

For poets:

Write a poem about wind from either the physical, or spiritual perspective, or both. Perhaps you’ll write about the desiccating east wind of a dry time in your life, the buffeting wind of trial, the cool breeze of relief after hot trouble, or the wonderful calm of silence after the wind has ceased. As an added challenge, try to use words that communicate the sound and feeling of wind (onomatopoeia).