Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Journaling sermon notes - by Jane Butcher

I don't know about you but I find myself more and more excited with the diverse ways Bible journaling can be used. In recent weeks we've seen blogs on so many amazing techniques; micro journaling, prayer journaling and journaling with people with special needs.

I love journaling in my Bible(s) but I also really loving using art to remind myself of favourite verses, songs, words shared by friends. I have several very small notebooks which I keep in my car, my handbag (purse), bedroom. I can just use them wherever I am to record a thought or idea which pops into my mind.

I'm sure many of you try to take notes during your Sunday service as I do. This has always proved to be somewhat unsatisfactory  for me. Just listening and trying to scribble down notes just doesn't work for me; I find myself frantically attempting to write down every word verbatim and so I end up not really listening to the message. When I get home and revisit my scribbled pages of notes I often simply can't read my own writing! I have certainly missed the crux of the message burying it under a surfeit of unnecessary wordage.

I have found that by applying some of my journaling "skills" I find myself listening to the whole message.  My recording focuses on key phrases, thoughts and images which more succinctly remind me and reveal to me the essence of the sermon or message.

my sermon notes kit

I have put together a little kit which contains everything I require and takes up very little space. I usually simply work in pencil while I'm at church though on occasion I am brave enough to work in pen. When I get home I read through my page and add little splashes of colour to highlight phrases and thoughts which are most important to me.

I think this could probably be best described as 'mind mapping' which is a technique taught to children in Primary School.  It's a great tool for organising thoughts and feelings.  I have found that this method of recording sits well with my need for visual as well as auditory reinforcement. Even though I am more naturally a writer and reader than an artist I still learn best and remember most when all my senses are involved.

I'm so grateful to have fallen into the world of Bible Journaling.  I'm not embarrassed to admit that I have spent more time in the Word in the last eighteen months than I have probably in the whole of my Christian life previously. So much has come alive, gained meaning and become rooted since I began this journey, I can't wait to learn new techniques, applications and insights. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Inspire Bible -by Sharon King

On Good Friday I received my long awaited Inspire Bible.  As I browsed through it I immediately fell in love with it. You see although I love creativity, I cannot draw very well, although with practice it is improving. Isn't that true about life as well that with practice we improve???!!!!

Anyway as I looked at the beautiful line art, I knew this Bible was just what I needed, but I was also aware that it wasn't just about colouring the pictures, it was about learning more about God, His love, His Word and His direction.

The first picture I coloured was on Easter Sunday evening and I felt it was appropriate  to colour something relevant to Easter.

As you can see the verse is from Matthew 28:6. I coloured this picture using Crayola Twistable pencils.  The first lesson I learnt was that I had pressed to hard with the pencils as it left several pages with indentations. Relating this to life I thought about the impressions we make on people's lives, and this can either have a positive or negative effect.

I have been a keen scrapbooker and crafter for a long time.  If you are anything like me you buy materials and use them for a season and then very often they seem to go into natural hibernation!

As I looked at the double page spread on the inside front cover, I was thinking about how I could colour this when I remembered some gel pens I had purchased about 6 years ago.  They were the Sakura Gelly Roll Stardust Pens.  On finding them I decided these would be right for that page. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised that the ink hadn't dried up, but I guess that was because of the money I had invested in them, they certainly weren't cheap when I bought them!!!

Once again that is like us on life. When we invest in people's lives our time will not be wasted because we have spent quality time with them and made a difference as we have shared God's love with them.

I was really pleased with the result, especially the glitter effect. I then wondered whether I would be able to use these pens on the thinner pages of the Bible.

There is a Facebook Group called 'Inspire Bible Journalers' and every week they suggest a page that everyone should colour and post.  It is interesting how the pages look different when they have been coloured by others participating.

Below are the pictures of the beginning of Joshua after being prompted to colour this by the Facebook Group. I have also included pictures to show the shadow that is visible from using the gel pens.

As I said earlier I didn't want this Bible to just be about colouring, so then I set myself a challenge - whenever I coloured what was perhaps a favourite text I would read the opposite page and pray that God would help me and inspire me to learn more about Him. The pictures below show a few of these pages.

There are times when I like to read the Message Bible Paraphrase.  This is mainly because it helps me to understand what God is saying to me, and speaks to me in a real and personal way. The last two pictures show how I have incorporated a tip-in with the Message bible paraphrase for Matthew 11:28!

I printed the tip-in on to a thin piece of card. Firstly I looked for a picture that I felt summed up this verse for me. I then pasted the words onto the picture.  Finally I added the full verse from the Message bible on the bottom of the card. Once I was sure the ink was dried, I then used my Sakura Stardust pens to highlight certain parts of the picture. Then using the same pens I traced over the words. 

Over the past few years there have been many times in my life when I haven't taken time to rest and recharge my batteries. I am continually asking God to teach me the unforced rhythms of life. The Inspire Bible is helping me to do this.

One last thing... whenever I colour, whether in my Bible or a colouring book, I use the time to pray. I find this allows me to focus on particular situations and people.

If you can afford to, I would encourage you to buy a Bible like the Inspire Bible, especially as over time it will become a very special, personal and unique Bible to own.

If at the moment, you feel you can't afford one of these Bibles look out for my next blog post where I will be sharing with you a very special colouring book that I have discovered.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Following in Jesus' Footsteps - by Jacqueline Dove

I think of myself as an artist because I'm creative and spontaneous and weird and wacky.  But in reality I cannot draw or paint.  And I'm not just being modest.  Below are two of my prized entries in my bible art journal,  which clearly depict that my ability to draw a tree platooned when I turned six.  But I don't let this stop me from feeling all 'arty' each time I sit down with my prized box of goodies I got when I attended my first Bible Art Journaling workshop with Deborah Gregg. 

I'm sure many of you can relate to the way Bible Art Journaling allows you to connect with the image of an exceptionally creative God at work in different ways in all of us, no matter what our individual skill levels are.  You have probably, like me, discovered that Bible Art Journaling is also a deeply reflective process allowing you to learn more about yourself,  in relation to God.

I am an Ordinand which means I am undergoing training and formation, in the hope that I will be recommended for ordination as a priest in the Church of England.  We have been taught how to use theological reflection in ministry. Theological Reflection is a method that involves recognising what is in an event/experience, naming it, relating it to other experiences and reflections and letting it shape the future.  Theological reflection assumes that God is present in the personal experiences of God's creation.

This past week my theological reflection and bible art journaling linked arms, rather like the intertwining blossoms in my garden, resulting in this latest prized entry in my bible art journal:

The journey to this journal entry started earlier in the week when I was at college finishing an assignment which was due in by midnight.  I was tired and desperately wanting to distract myself from my looming deadline, and so my thinking went into an area clearly demarcated,  'danger, keep out'.  But I ignored the danger signs and allowed my thoughts to wade further into no-man's land.    Inevitably the thoughts evoked the inevitable emotional maelstrom which comes with the total devastation of no-man's land.  This was totally unwelcome especially with a deadline looming.   So I decided to do a quick emergency theological reflection.  A particular method of Theological Reflection which I find helpful (Killen and De Beer) suggests that after looking at a specific experience and identifying the feelings it generates, you ask the Holy Spirit to give you an appropriate image to accurately depict these feelings.   The image I was given in this instance was Jesus on the cross. Dwelling on this image very quickly ejected me from no-man's land.   Tears were shed,  but good, cleansing tears.  The next step in the Theological Reflection is to think of scriptures in relation to the image that that can reveal richer meanings. The scripture that came to mind was,  “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20).

Later in the week I was reading to the family during breakfast, from 'Every Day Bible Readings for Each Day of the Year.'  The verse that jumped out at me was, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice is so far as you share Christ's sufferings,  that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4: 12-13.

I immediately thought, “this is a verse I want to add to my bible art journal”.  So over the next few days I started to mull about what images could shed new light on this verse.  I was reminded of Jesus on the cross from my earlier reflection on dealing with my ferocious feelings,  and so this became a central image.   I toyed with  ideas of how I could represent the vices I want to nail to the cross.  I remembered a specially designed cross nail the children had brought back from a Church Camp which I could use as a template.  While on route to the conservatory to actually get my bible art goody box, I noticed a palm cross gathering dust on the bookcase by the front door, and so grabbed that.  Then I opened my goodie box, still not sure where to begin,  and started going through the birthday cards I had kept from my 50th birthday last year.  One card  in particular  jumped out at me and the bible verse that came to mind was Hebrews 12.2, “For the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross”.    Hence the joyful scene behind the palm cross.  After writing down my vices on the nails I had cut out,  a small inner voice reminded me of the imbalance of only focusing on what we need to avoid  as Christians,  and to also look at what we need to embrace.  And so I thought of my virtues, which also require the sacrifice which comes with praying the prayer Jesus prayed, which led him to the cross,   “Not my will, but thine be done”.   

The whole exercise, while giving me great satisfaction and pleasure,  also strengthened my resolve to gladly accept Jesus invitation to, deny myself, pick up my cross and follow him.  For the joy set before me.  For the glory Christ will share with me.  For the wonderful jubilation 'ON THAT DAY!'

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Writing the Psalms and Songs -by Lindsey Campbell

Sometimes when reading Psalms and songs in the Bible, I drift over them and don’t really take in the words, or appreciate the poetry, the rhythm and the meaning.

At times like this, it sometimes helps to read the scripture out loud. If I want to invest time in getting to the heart of the piece I like to write the whole thing out.

For big chunks of text, I don’t worry about pretty fonts – connecting with songs by writing transforms them into my own prayer, and fonts sometimes distract me from the exercise. But I do love writing with different colours, and may illustrate the key themes and phrases as I progress through the Psalm.

I also don’t worry about fitting things onto a single page, but allow the Psalm to express itself freely.

If an image springs to mind, I may draw a structure first, and model the Psalm around or within it.

If I really don’t know where to start, or I'm too “empty” to be creative, a simple border can help. I draw the border first, colour the background, then write out the Psalm. I can then meditate on the words as I colour in the detail of the border, and add further illustration if I feel led.

But what about long pieces? I recently wrote out Deborah’s Song from Judges 5. It was rather too long to tackle in a single session, so I divided the page into sections and created background patterns in watercolour pencil. Over several days, I wrote out a verse or two at a time, immersing myself in the story, the praise, and the history of this triumphant song.

I’d encourage you to give it a go, making it a simple or complex as you wish – turning the ancient words into your own prayer, in your own situation.

I have finally grasped the nettle and entered the world of 'Blog'.  I'd love for you to visit :)

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Some more of my favourite verses - by Ben Butcher

"For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my mother's womb. 
I praise you because I am fearfully 
and wonderfully made."
Psalm 139:13-14

These verses remind me that we are His children, made in His image, and he knows our names and our needs.  We should never judge what people look like from the outside, but look at them as God does, for what comes from the inside.

This picture I have created is of a picture frame. The colours I picked are a mixture of blacks and greys and the washi tape is black on the outside and brown on the inside. the cracks are to make it look as if the frame has been shattered into pieces, but God can mend and heal them.

This is one of my very favourite verses and it always reminds me of a song that is really special to me called "Father God I wonder." One of the lines is "now I am a son, I am adopted in Your family." This is very special to me because I am adopted.

"For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, 
with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and 
the dead in Christ will rise first. After that we who are still alive and are left 
will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord
 in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever."
1 Thessalonians 4 : 16-18

This verse is really important to grasp, and it is very powerful. We as the children of God need to be ready for His return when he will come to gather us up and take us to His and our father's house.

The picture is the cross with the glory of heaven shining around it.   The blue is heaven. The brown is for the stairway leading to heaven and shows Jesus coming down to meet us and receive us.  This reminds me that our future  with our heavenly Father, to be with him daily and for ever in His courts.  Revelation promises that there will be a new heaven and earth, and there on the throne is God our Father who will reign for eternity.

"...but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. 
They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately 
He spoke to them and said, "Take courage, it is I. Don't be afraid. Then 
He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were
 completely amazed."
Mark 6 : 49-51

This verse is another favourite one. It reminds me that if I am scared or frightened and I cry out to Him I don't have to be frightened anymore because He will help me and rescue me. My faith in Jesus can give me courage.

This picture is to remind me and all of us that Jesus isn't a ghost. He is real, He is alive, He is the Son of God and He cares about us.  I used dark blue for the sky and the blue tissue paper symbolises sky. The yellow is lightning and the black lines are strong winds and gales.  The blue lines are big, rough waves and the person in brown is Jesus, in the centre of the storm, the place of calm and safety.

thank you to read my blog, Ben