Categories
Christianity

The Many Benefits of Testimony

This morning I was thinking about the power of testimony.  The Cambridge Dictionary describes testimony as “(an example of) spoken or written statements that something is true, especially those given in a law court.”  The Collins Dictionary, 1. A declaration of truth or fact. 2. Evidence given by a witness especially orally in court under oath or affirmation.  3. Evidence testifying to something.

In Christian circles, testimony is looked upon as a statement of one’s life experiences in relation to one’s relationship with God.  Usually one will begin with childhood experiences and descriptions, i.e. “raised in a Christian home”, “no knowledge of Christ as a child” etc.  One would usually go on to describe one’s life, being introduced to God, deepening relationship with God, etc. etc.

Testimonies are such a fantastic tool for church services as they provide so much towards teaching, understanding God and they provide food for thought with regard to one’s own journey with Christ.  In this way, everyone’s “testimony” is important, even those out with the Christian faith.  By listening to the views of Christ from the perspective of a non-Christian we can see from a worldview and thus we may be capable of coming alongside others to comfort, to guide them to Christ, ultimately, we may be in a better position to interface whilst seeing things from two viewpoints.  We all have something important to share.  We are all God’s children and as such, we all have a purpose on this planet, each and every one of us.

Testimonies can provide great reassurance.  When we hear or read some testimonies, we can falsely understand salvation to be a “ball of lightening experience”, so it is comforting to realise that this is not always the case.  Salvation is not a one size fits all, we are all in different places and all on different paths and thus our new birth will differ person to person.

Another important aspect of testimony is learning about the character of God.  We will find as we journey through our walk with Christ that we change, our character changes, we become a new self, 2 Corinthians 5.17  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  By studying these new characteristics, we can see the character of Christ as it is through Him that gradually, throughout our lives, we become more and more holy.

So, what can we see of God from a testimony?

  • The power of God – Almost always we can see the power of God.  No-one who has been born again is exactly the same person that they were before.  They have all been changed to some degree or another.  What power this shows of Christ!  That one day we are one person, the next we are a new person!  Day by day our thought patterns change, and we become more and more in the image of God.   
  • Our need for God – Almost always we can see our need for God.  When one is born again, one becomes a new person, but more importantly, one becomes a better person, and this shows our need of God.  We need God to show us love, help us become more patient, help us to be more kind, more caring, more compassionate.  All men are capable of displaying these traits but only with God can we truly understand what it is to love.
  • What God communicates – Through others sharing their journeys we can hear what God has spoken to them.  We learn how God communicates with different people and what he communicates, perhaps He gives direction to one, words of comfort to another, teaching to yet another.  
  • What He does – Through the testimony we see actions of God in the lives of His people, we see His glorious provision in the lives of some, His protection in the lives of another, still we see His rule of yet others.

So, how do we give our testimony?

  • Simply, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”  Paul, the author of Corinthians, was a highly educated man, taught by one of the most supreme Rabbi’s in Jerusalem, yet he chooses to speak simply, so that the people will understand and also, so that God is glorified.
  • By the Holy Spirit, John 15:26  “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.”  We are helped to deliver our testimony by the Holy Spirit who is within us.
  • Joyfully – Isaiah 12:4-6, In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.  Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things, let this be known to all the world.  Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”  A testimony is not to be given with a long face, or a quiet voice but with confidence and joy because in this way, people will see the wonder of God.
  • By our lifestyle – Philippians 1:27-30 “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel”  Words are not always necessary to testify to Jesus, rather one can provide a testimony purely by ones actions.

Why must we give our testimony?

  • To lead others to Christ, 1 John 1:3 “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
  • Because of what God has done for us, Jeremiah 1:2-3 “‘The Lord has vindicated us; come, let us tell in Zion what the Lord our God has done.  We would be very quick to tell everyone about the kindness or generosity of another man towards us but yet we are often less so about sharing God’s goodness with others!
  • So that Jesus will accept you, Luke 12:8-9 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.”
  • To be a witness to Christ, Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  • Because this was part of God’s plan from the beginning, Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
  • Giving testimony is part of the good fight, 1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
  • We are told to – John 15:27  “And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”
  • It may be your purpose, Mark 5:19 “Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  This passage describes a moment after Jesus had healed a man from possession by demons.  This man wanted to follow Jesus into the boat and sail with him on his travels, however, Jesus does not allow him.  The man’s purpose was to tell others about Jesus. 
  • It can be a sharing of suffering in Christ, 2 Timothy 1:8 “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” Sometimes our testimony will be mocked, sometimes relationships will break down as others do not understand why you have chosen such a path for your life, however, this is just part of the suffering that we must bear for Jesus understanding the suffering He endured on our behalf.

The ultimate tale of salvation must lie in the testimony of Paul the Apostle, Acts 22:1-21“Brothers and fathers, listen to my defence which I now present to you.” When they heard that Paul was addressing them in Aramaic, they became even more quiet. Then he said,“I am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, trained strictly according to the Torah of our fathers, being zealous for God just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prisonas the kohen gadol and all the council of elders can testify about me. I also received letters from them to the brothers, and I went to Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem even those who were there in chains  to be punished. “But it happened that as I was traveling and drawing near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly flashed all around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’ “I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “He said to me, ‘I am Yeshua ha-Natzrati, whom you are persecuting.’“Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. So, I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ “And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up, and go to Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been appointed to do.’“But since I could not see because of the brilliance of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus. Then a certain Ananias a devout man according to the Torah, well-spoken of by all the Jewish people living there came to me. Standing before me, he said to me, ‘Brother Saul, look up!’ In that very moment, I looked and saw him! “And he said, ‘The God of our fathers handpicked you to know His will to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all people of what you have seen and heard. Now why are you waiting? Get up and be immersed, and wash away your sins, calling on His Name.’  “It happened that when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance; and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Hurry! Get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your witness about Me.’“And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another, I was imprisoning and beating those trusting in You. Even when the blood of Your witness Stephen was spilled, I too was standing by and approving, and guarding the clothing of those who were killing him.’ “And he said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

Let us be courageous and honest like Paul and let us testify like the Psalmist in Psalm 71.15-18.

Love and Blessings

Louise x

PS

I shared my testimony early on in my blog, however, I felt it was right to add it again here.  I would love to hear and share your testimonies, so that others can benefit from hearing them.  If you are comfortable with this, please email them to newlivesinjesus@gmail.com.

My Testimony

When I was a child, I went to Sunday school and had some Christian books and as I grew up, I was aware of God as someone who was just there. I never really doubted there was a God, but I was not in a relationship with Him.  After many years away from the church I returned and I felt good after the service, however, my faith practice did not extend past Sunday.  Many years later I began to read the Bible.  I had no need to search for one as a simple stretch of my arm found my dust laden book in pride of place on my bedside table.  How thought provoking to look back and think of all the years my Bible sat there untouched, yet it was never hidden away in a cupboard or given to charity.  Was God begging me to pick it up all those years I struggled without Him?  Letting me know every day that He was there waiting for me?  So, picking up my Bible I begin with Genesis and the next day I read some more and the next then life happens, single mum with 3 little boys who won’t go to sleep and I am lucky to make my bed before sleep is upon me only to be woken through the night by a procession of little feet coming along the hall.  Hanging off the end of my bed or sleeping sideways with a toddler face directly in mine I wake, and another day begins.  Months later I return to my Bible and I have to start at the beginning again and this record plays again and again over the years.  Without God and going through many troubles alone I found myself very lost.  My mental health suffered greatly, and I rooted in a place of darkness and it was there in a pit of utter despair that God found me, and I met God for the first time.  In desperation I cried out to Him to save me from a rut I had found myself in and in all his glory He did.  Now I had no doubt that there was a God.  Surprisingly at this point I still did not seem to understand the need to get to know Him.  And life meandered on.  Then I met my husband Craig, a Christian from childhood, and I developed a thirst to find out more.  I read the Bible in less than 3 months and began finding out more about the Apostle Paul.  He, then as now, fascinated me in his transformation and his ability to suffer so greatly for Christ.  Once I had read books of him and studied his travels I wanted more.  I began summarising the books of the Bible and finding out a little more about them all.  Still I wanted more so I enrolled in an Access to Christian Theology Course with HTC and relished every moment of it.  Understanding Jesus that bit better aided my prayer life and I accepted Jesus into my heart.  Now I have no idea the day, the month, or quite frankly, the year but I would estimate around 3 or 4 years ago.  Previous to this I would have identified as a Christian because I occasionally went to church, took communion once or twice a year and believed there was a God.  I had never been taught the need to invite Jesus into my life, the need to understand basic doctrine or the need for a relationship with God.  I was fooling myself.  I was placing myself as bride of Christ and He did not “know” me.  Now when I gave my heart to Jesus there was no lightning from the sky, there was no audible voice from heaven, the ground did not shake, I did not have heat or tingles pass through my body … nothing happened.  I did not feel the Holy Spirit enter me and to this day I have experienced none of the glorious manifestations of the Spirit that many claim to have experienced.  I will admit I have struggled with this.  I have doubted that I am saved, that I am truly a child of God.  Yet, I am different.  I am not the person I was before.  I have an ability to forgive that surpasses human ability.  I have the capacity to love which surpasses all human ability.  I can withstand all heartache that surpasses human ability.  This is how I know that I am a daughter of Christ and sister to all those in the church of God.  I am now studying a Theology Degree and I could not enjoy it more.  I sign up to Bible Studies and courses that I see, I read mostly Christian material as has been the case for approximately 4 years and I revel in it all.  I hope that my testimony will help others understand that Christianity is not a set of rules and regulations, nor a one size fits all faith.  Each one of us will follow a different path on our journey with Christ and as I journey along mine sometimes at great speed, sometimes sliding backwards, and as I am being completely frank sometimes taking the wrong turn off, sitting in a traffic jam 20 miles long, before meandering along a one way path to nowhere, getting a puncture, no signal on phone, walking to nearest garage 20 miles away before finally returning to the road of righteousness a month later.  As you can see the journey is not an easy one, in fact it is far more difficult than the many other roads one can choose. The road of righteousness is littered with potholes, frequented by floods and narrow are the tunnels, however, this road is the only one on which you have an on board sat nav guiding you every step of the way and this sat nav does not break down or make mistakes, this sat nav knows every roundabout, every turn off, every roadwork and though you in your foolishness will make wrong turn offs this sat nav will always guide you back.

Categories
Christianity

Printable Bible Art

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It can sometimes be difficult to genuinely believe what we read about ourselves in Scripture.  “You are the light of the world”, “You are the salt of the earth”.  If we are to progress in our walk with Jesus, then we must believe what He tells us about ourselves.  I find Bible Art can help to reinforce these affirmations.  Bible Art is also helpful in order to memorize Scripture and really consolidate it in our minds.

I have made many pictures to go alongside my blogs and devotionals and I would like to share these with you as a pdf in order that you can print out any that speak to you.  I confess I am no graphic designer and, as you may remember, I did not undertake a single art project before I began this website 5 short weeks ago so please accept these very amateur designs!

If you would like to make designs yourself, why not have a go with using Canva which is a fantastic site where you can create all sorts of designs with free backgrounds, pictures etc.  It is also possible to upload and include your own photos.  There are many other similar design programmes you could also check out.

You can also design something just with a pencil, paper, and pen.  Look online for hand lettering ideas and use a brush pen to write out a Bible Verse.  This is really effective and will look great on the wall.

Good luck if you decide to make your own designs and if you decide to print off one of mine then I hope it speaks to you.

There are so many resources at our fingertips in the Bible.  If you are in a season of need, whether you are struggling with anxiety, depression, illness, or heartbreak you will find a passage to help you in the Bible.  Many Bibles have a section at the beginning which will guide you to a passage for your specific need.  Once you find it, why not create something using this passage so that you see it regularly throughout your day and have it as a reminder of God’s love for you.

Love and Blessings

Louise x  

Affirmations

Bible Verse Art

Quotes

Categories
bible art Bible Fun Christianity faith God Jesus Love Religion

Creative Christianity

You may remember me writing about a Creative Christianity Summit I attend online this summer!  It was organised by Menekse Stewart who owns Cheerfully Given, an online store which sells Christian jewellery, stationary, homeware and crafting materials.

This summit literally changed my life!!  Were it not for this summit I would not be writing this blog now as I simply would not have had the confidence.  Prior to the course I did not believe I was capable of anything remotely artistic.  I thought creativity was for those who attended art classes or designed graphics for a living.  This course not only removed this false impression from my mind but replaced it with an astounding reality … wait for it!!!:-

Everyone is creative!!!

Yes, absolutely everyone!! I know many of you are shouting at me right now saying “No way, I am absolutely hopeless!”, “Yeah Right, My 2 year old child paints a better picture than I do” or “you want a word with my school art teacher and he will set you straight on that one!”

Bear with me … remember I thought like you too!!  What does Scripture say?  Let us look at the very first page, in fact let us look at the very first words, Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  God is a creative!!  Now let us look a little further on, Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  When we say we are not creative, either we doubt the creativity of God, and thus, doubt Scripture itself or we doubt that we are made in the image of God, and thus, doubt Scripture itself!!!  The truth is we are God’s image bearers and God is creative, we can see that all around us!  Therefore, we are all capable of creating!  

If I needed further evidence of the diverse nature of creativity then this was consolidated by those involved in the summit, as many areas of creativity were catered for.  Creativity is not merely painting pictures but is in everything we do!! Our lives are one long string of creativity.   

Before I speak a little about crafting, let me introduce you to just a few of the guests and what I learned from them.

First up we had a daily sermon from Paul Blackham who is a minister in London.  Paul’s creative talent lies in his delivery of the Word of God.  He truly brings the Bible to life.  His love for Jesus is so evident and his enthusiasm is something to be envied.  I learned so much from his sermons but perhaps the most important was that Jesus needs to be everything in your life.  Jesus wants to be your identity and will accept nothing less.  Jesus wants everything or nothing!  We read this in Scripture, but do we live it in our day to day lives!?  Luke 14:25-27 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, even their own life-such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”  Being a Christian means being a Christian first and foremost.  When someone asks “Who are you?”, you answer “I am a follower of Jesus” or “I am a Child of God”, not “I am a Mum”, “I am a student”, “I am a vegan”, “I’m Scottish”, “I’m a Man U Fan”.  These things will all pass away, they can be taken from us at any time!  Christ can never be taken from us, not in life, nor in death.   Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria,  made this point abundantly clear “The only system of thought into which Jesus Christ will fit is the one in which He is the starting point.”  Jesus comes first! Everything must fit in with Jesus, we cannot try and manipulate Jesus to fit in with everything else in our lives!  

A Life Coach named Breeny Lee reaffirmed to me the need to do everything for the glory of God.  That one cannot be one person in one situation and another somewhere else.  As a representative of Jesus, we must bring honour to Him in the way that we behave, and this should not be affected on where we are or who we are with!

Thea Muir described how she manages her negative thoughts by removing the negative cassette tape from her mind, placing this at the cross and replacing it with a Godly thought cassette tape.  I find this imagery helpful in my ongoing battle with negativity!  Thea began doodling as a way of tuning in to the positive affirmations of Scripture and there are many for us to find, all helpful tools to developing a positive mindset.

Kathryn Hitchings spoke about the flow zone which is fabulous for people struggling with mental health problems.  This is a place of creativity when you are not really thinking about anything, just being, living in the moment.  Another inspiring message was that untaught naïve art can be the most beautiful!

Martha Shrimpton of Nimbus Collective emphasised the importance of a relationship with God.  I think we can often get too bogged down with the religious side of our faith, studying the Word, praying religious prayers but not ever just being with God.  It is important for us to be still with God, write with Him, journal with Him, create pictures in worship to Him, have a coffee and chat with Him.

Jonathan Self made me look at everything differently.  He makes photography look simple!  I had never thought of cooking tea as creating before, yet Jonathan made a simple kitchen image of utensils etc look beautiful! This inspires me to take a closer look around me, to look at God’s creation with wonder instead of complacency. 

I love this quote by Josie Gambel that says, “if a dream doesn’t scare you then it’s not big enough!”  This is because we are not dreaming, really, we are just imagining what we could realistically achieve!  When we dream of doing something that terrifies us then we are admitting we are not capable … but we are with Christ … Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

We are all unique and therefore there cannot be a one size fits all rulebook to Christianity.  Not all of us are capable of sitting for 5 hours a day reading Scripture or 4 hours a day deep in prayer.  With creative Christianity, there is something for everyone!  For those with active minds, Bible journaling or doodling is a fantastic way to explore Scripture whilst relaxing our minds.  Young children may get a deeper understanding of the Bible through painting!    

It was at this summit where I first heard of Sermon Notes!  This is a fantastic idea for those who have wandering thoughts in church!  As the preacher is speaking draw the main idea of the sermon in the middle of your page and work out from there.  Add verses, words or drawings, anything that consolidates the sermon for you.  Put lines or patterns around the words and thoughts so they do not get jumbled.  You can also use an iPad and procreate for this.  You can draw this in pencil at church and colour when you get home.  This is a great way of remembering the teaching and being able to look back at it in the future.  One lady uses paints at her church!

Another way of doing this is at home using a passage of the Bible.  I love doing this as it helps me memorize my Scripture and keeps me focussed on the verse.  Begin by measuring out the paper carefully with a ruler so that your lettering is evenly spaced out.  Write the verse out initially in pencil and when you are happy that everything is in place, go over with a brush pen.  You can decorate a frame around the outside of your lettering with flowers for example.  

For Sermon Notes and Simple Hand Lettering you may need:-

Pens or crayons  

Pencil

Felt Tip Brush Pens

Ruler

Pointy paintbrushes

Water colour palette

Water

Kitchen roll

Paper or Notebook

Esther Thorpe of Origami Est demonstrated how to make an Origami diamond.  For a complete novice this was very manageable.  You will find origami videos on You Tube if this is something that interests you:-

For Origami you may need:-

Paper Square – You will require some of the same size

Glue

Coloured Paper

Scrapbooking Paper

Wrapping Paper

Bible Journaling is extremely popular and a great way of consolidating your Scripture.  You read a passage of your Bible and then make a relevant design either at the side of the writing (if there is a blank section for this) or you can colour the whole page with water colours.   The most important aspect to this is spending time in God’s presence and learning the Word of God.  You will get lots of great ideas online for this.      

For Bible Journaling you may need:-

Journaling Bible – some people find the thought of drawing over their Scripture too much to bear so in this case, you can use a notebook or paper.

Paints

Watercolour

Pencils, pens, crayons  

Glue

Scissors

Brush Pens

Magazine cut outs

Clear gesso to prepare Bible pages

Watered down poster paint

Ephemera

Washi Strips

Stickers

Stamps

Shakers – You make these by placing some sequence and a small card with a verse or aspirational saying on it inside transparent cellophane (I keep these when I get items delivered inside them) and secure it together and secure it to the page with Washi Strips.

Tip-ins – You make these with a piece of card (could be an old greeting card) and you fasten this to your page with Washi Strips.  This provides additional space for more creating!!

For Creative Photography – All you need is:-

A camera or phone

Your imagination

Many men reading this may think this creativity talk is for girls but that is certainly not the case.  There are plenty of other creative pursuits for men if nothing above appeals.  You could try sketching, creating furniture, learning to play an instrument, gardening or decorating.  There is no limit to creativity.

Craft Materials can be expensive so it is important to upcycle what you can, collect a stash in your home which can become your go to box of tricks when you are feeling crafty.  I collect cellophane, greeting cards, glass jars, cardboard, wrapping paper (you never know when it will come in useful!).  You will find a great supply of craft materials on Amazon, Hobbycraft, Cheerfully Given and Etsy. 

You Tube has many how to videos for lots of different creative pursuits.  The most important thing to remember is that you can do it.  It is not about whether your painting will hang in the Louvre, it is about whether your Father in Heaven likes what he sees and whether it brings Him glory.  The importance is in the time spent with Jesus and the peace and enjoyment that you get from switching off from the busines of life and relaxing! 

Just give it a go today! I am sure you will surprise yourself!

Always Remember, Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Happy Crafting!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

Categories
Christianity

Creative Christianity

You may remember me writing about a Creative Christianity Summit I attend online this summer!  It was organised by Menekse Stewart who owns Cheerfully Given, an online store which sells Christian jewellery, stationary, homeware and crafting materials.

This summit literally changed my life!!  Were it not for this summit I would not be writing this blog now as I simply would not have had the confidence.  Prior to the course I did not believe I was capable of anything remotely artistic.  I thought creativity was for those who attended art classes or designed graphics for a living.  This course not only removed this false impression from my mind but replaced it with an astounding reality … wait for it!!!:-

Everyone is creative!!!

Yes, absolutely everyone!! I know many of you are shouting at me right now saying “No way, I am absolutely hopeless!”, “Yeah Right, My 2 year old child paints a better picture than I do” or “you want a word with my school art teacher and he will set you straight on that one!”

Bear with me … remember I thought like you too!!  What does Scripture say?  Let us look at the very first page, in fact let us look at the very first words, Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  God is a creative!!  Now let us look a little further on, Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  When we say we are not creative, either we doubt the creativity of God, and thus, doubt Scripture itself or we doubt that we are made in the image of God, and thus, doubt Scripture itself!!!  The truth is we are God’s image bearers and God is creative, we can see that all around us!  Therefore, we are all capable of creating!  

If I needed further evidence of the diverse nature of creativity then this was consolidated by those involved in the summit, as many areas of creativity were catered for.  Creativity is not merely painting pictures but is in everything we do!! Our lives are one long string of creativity.   

Before I speak a little about crafting, let me introduce you to just a few of the guests and what I learned from them.

First up we had a daily sermon from Paul Blackham who is a minister in London.  Paul’s creative talent lies in his delivery of the Word of God.  He truly brings the Bible to life.  His love for Jesus is so evident and his enthusiasm is something to be envied.  I learned so much from his sermons but perhaps the most important was that Jesus needs to be everything in your life.  Jesus wants to be your identity and will accept nothing less.  Jesus wants everything or nothing!  We read this in Scripture, but do we live it in our day to day lives!?  Luke 14:25-27 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, even their own life-such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”  Being a Christian means being a Christian first and foremost.  When someone asks “Who are you?”, you answer “I am a follower of Jesus” or “I am a Child of God”, not “I am a Mum”, “I am a student”, “I am a vegan”, “I’m Scottish”, “I’m a Man U Fan”.  These things will all pass away, they can be taken from us at any time!  Christ can never be taken from us, not in life, nor in death.   Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria,  made this point abundantly clear “The only system of thought into which Jesus Christ will fit is the one in which He is the starting point.”  Jesus comes first! Everything must fit in with Jesus, we cannot try and manipulate Jesus to fit in with everything else in our lives!  

A Life Coach named Breeny Lee reaffirmed to me the need to do everything for the glory of God.  That one cannot be one person in one situation and another somewhere else.  As a representative of Jesus, we must bring honour to Him in the way that we behave, and this should not be affected on where we are or who we are with!

Thea Muir described how she manages her negative thoughts by removing the negative cassette tape from her mind, placing this at the cross and replacing it with a Godly thought cassette tape.  I find this imagery helpful in my ongoing battle with negativity!  Thea began doodling as a way of tuning in to the positive affirmations of Scripture and there are many for us to find, all helpful tools to developing a positive mindset.

Kathryn Hitchings spoke about the flow zone which is fabulous for people struggling with mental health problems.  This is a place of creativity when you are not really thinking about anything, just being, living in the moment.  Another inspiring message was that untaught naïve art can be the most beautiful!

Martha Shrimpton of Nimbus Collective emphasised the importance of a relationship with God.  I think we can often get too bogged down with the religious side of our faith, studying the Word, praying religious prayers but not ever just being with God.  It is important for us to be still with God, write with Him, journal with Him, create pictures in worship to Him, have a coffee and chat with Him.

Jonathan Self made me look at everything differently.  He makes photography look simple!  I had never thought of cooking tea as creating before, yet Jonathan made a simple kitchen image of utensils etc look beautiful! This inspires me to take a closer look around me, to look at God’s creation with wonder instead of complacency. 

I love this quote by Josie Gambel that says, “if a dream doesn’t scare you then it’s not big enough!”  This is because we are not dreaming, really, we are just imagining what we could realistically achieve!  When we dream of doing something that terrifies us then we are admitting we are not capable … but we are with Christ … Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

We are all unique and therefore there cannot be a one size fits all rulebook to Christianity.  Not all of us are capable of sitting for 5 hours a day reading Scripture or 4 hours a day deep in prayer.  With creative Christianity, there is something for everyone!  For those with active minds, Bible journaling or doodling is a fantastic way to explore Scripture whilst relaxing our minds.  Young children may get a deeper understanding of the Bible through painting!    

It was at this summit where I first heard of Sermon Notes!  This is a fantastic idea for those who have wandering thoughts in church!  As the preacher is speaking draw the main idea of the sermon in the middle of your page and work out from there.  Add verses, words or drawings, anything that consolidates the sermon for you.  Put lines or patterns around the words and thoughts so they do not get jumbled.  You can also use an iPad and procreate for this.  You can draw this in pencil at church and colour when you get home.  This is a great way of remembering the teaching and being able to look back at it in the future.  One lady uses paints at her church!

Another way of doing this is at home using a passage of the Bible.  I love doing this as it helps me memorize my Scripture and keeps me focussed on the verse.  Begin by measuring out the paper carefully with a ruler so that your lettering is evenly spaced out.  Write the verse out initially in pencil and when you are happy that everything is in place, go over with a brush pen.  You can decorate a frame around the outside of your lettering with flowers for example.  

For Sermon Notes and Simple Hand Lettering you may need:-

Pens or crayons  

Pencil

Felt Tip Brush Pens

Ruler

Pointy paintbrushes

Water colour palette

Water

Kitchen roll

Paper or Notebook

Esther Thorpe of Origami Est demonstrated how to make an Origami diamond.  For a complete novice this was very manageable.  You will find origami videos on You Tube if this is something that interests you:-

For Origami you may need:-

Paper Square – You will require some of the same size

Glue

Coloured Paper

Scrapbooking Paper

Wrapping Paper

Bible Journaling is extremely popular and a great way of consolidating your Scripture.  You read a passage of your Bible and then make a relevant design either at the side of the writing (if there is a blank section for this) or you can colour the whole page with water colours.   The most important aspect to this is spending time in God’s presence and learning the Word of God.  You will get lots of great ideas online for this.      

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For Bible Journaling you may need:-

Journaling Bible – some people find the thought of drawing over their Scripture too much to bear so in this case, you can use a notebook or paper.

Paints

Watercolour

Pencils, pens, crayons  

Glue

Scissors

Brush Pens

Magazine cut outs

Clear gesso to prepare Bible pages

Watered down poster paint

Ephemera

Washi Strips

Stickers

Stamps

Shakers – You make these by placing some sequence and a small card with a verse or aspirational saying on it inside transparent cellophane (I keep these when I get items delivered inside them) and secure it together and secure it to the page with Washi Strips.

Tip-ins – You make these with a piece of card (could be an old greeting card) and you fasten this to your page with Washi Strips.  This provides additional space for more creating!!

For Creative Photography – All you need is:-

A camera or phone

Your imagination

Many men reading this may think this creativity talk is for girls but that is certainly not the case.  There are plenty of other creative pursuits for men if nothing above appeals.  You could try sketching, creating furniture, learning to play an instrument, gardening or decorating.  There is no limit to creativity.

Craft Materials can be expensive so it is important to upcycle what you can, collect a stash in your home which can become your go to box of tricks when you are feeling crafty.  I collect cellophane, greeting cards, glass jars, cardboard, wrapping paper (you never know when it will come in useful!).  You will find a great supply of craft materials on Amazon, Hobbycraft, Cheerfully Given and Etsy. 

You Tube has many how to videos for lots of different creative pursuits.  The most important thing to remember is that you can do it.  It is not about whether your painting will hang in the Louvre, it is about whether your Father in Heaven likes what he sees and whether it brings Him glory.  The importance is in the time spent with Jesus and the peace and enjoyment that you get from switching off from the busines of life and relaxing! 

Just give it a go today! I am sure you will surprise yourself!

Always Remember, Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Happy Crafting!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

Categories
bible art Bible Fun Bible Quiz Christianity faith God Jesus Love Quiz racism Religion

CHILDREN’S QUIZ

Over in the Resource Page you will now find a Children’s Quiz. There will be more coming very soon!! For ease I have copied it below and attached the pdf. For the answers head over the Resources.

Happy Quizzing and Good Luck Kids!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

Bible Quiz 1 – Children’s Questions

Old Testament

  1. What was the name of the man that God made from the dust?
  2. What did Eve eat that she was told by God not to?
  3. What was the name of the baby that was found in a basket on the River Nile?
  4. What did God tell Noah to build?
  5. How many sons did Jacob have?
  6. What was the name of Jacob’s son who wore a colourful robe?
  7. How many commandments did God give Moses?
  8. What was the name of the man who never had his haircut?
  9. Samuel heard someone speaking to him and thought it was Eli, the Priest, but who did he later find out it was?
  10. What did David kill Goliath with?
  11. Who did God ask to build a temple?
  12. With which wild animal did Daniel share a den with?
  13. Who was swallowed up by a whale?
  14. How did the Israelites win the battle for Jericho?
  15. What was it that spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden?
  16. How many days did it take God to create the world and everything in it?
  17. What was the name of the Tower that people built to reach up to heaven?
  18. What heavy object did Elisha make float in the water?
  19. What was the name of Abraham’s wife?
  20. What did God write the commandments on?
Categories
Christianity faith God Jesus Love racism Religion

Church and Faith: Dead or Alive

I understand only too well what faith looks like both dead and alive as I have experienced both.  I have experienced a complete lack of trust in God, I have experienced anger with God, I have ignored God completely and rested on my own strength and I have doubted the very existence of God.  I have fooled myself by believing I was alive in faith when, in reality, my faith was dead.

Recently, thanks be to God, I have discovered what faith looks like when it is alive!!  Lockdown has literally saved my husband and I.  While, before our faith was dead, we are now truly alive in Christ!  We live for Jesus.  Previously, my husband, like many others, whiled away his days staring at his phone, now, he wakes at 5am for prayer and study before work at 9am.  He had intended to sleep until 7 or 8 at the weekend but he has been unable to, he is too excited to spend time with God!  He is reading an impossible number of books in order that he can write a book for new Christians exploring who Jesus is!  I have spent lockdown making lots of new Christian friends, I have undertaken various studies and summits which have inspired me greatly, without them I would not be writing this blog! Our plans are no longer our own and we are happier than we have ever been!  I woke this morning after a very disturbed night’s sleep and I thought I will just have a relaxing day, finish the book I am reading entitled “God’s Smuggler”, catch up on some housework and do some craft.  God had other ideas!  As I began to get ready and look forward to my lazy day, my mind became inundated with thoughts.  This has happened a lot since I became “alive” especially since I started writing my blog!  This told me that God had other plans for my day!  So here I am trying to assemble my racing thoughts into coherent English once again.  You may ask, how do you know this is of God?  The answer is simple, because despite my idea of a relaxing day being turned on its head and my plans being totally disrupted, I am happy, I am excited, I am eager.  At the drop of a hat, my plans changed, and I delighted in it.  I delight in it because I know that this is God’s will, that by writing this I please God and that by writing this I may help even one person who is struggling with their faith. 

Coming to faith or indeed recognizing your faith is dead can be torturous, it can be mentally exhausting, you can be confused about who you are!  For years I was at war with myself, I was a soldier in a silent battle between God’s will and my own.  When I was defeated and accepted God’s victory, I then became swamped with questions, far more than I could find answers to!  By my own selfishness I had kept Jesus at arm’s length and, inevitably, this is why my personal journey was so difficult.  I did not want to let go of “my life”.  I liked my life just the way it was, or at least I thought I did.  It took far too long but, finally, I realised that the very things I thought made me happy were having the opposite effect.  Life will never go the way we want it to all the time and therefore, focussing on oneself is unlikely to lead to happiness.  This is a difficult concept to understand as it contradicts our modern thinking which advises “Be who you want to be!”, “Do what makes you happy!”” etc. etc.  This may work when you are employed, healthy, in love etc.  What happens when you are sick, you lose your job, your partner leaves, how do we just make ourselves happy then?  The reality is true happiness and contentment is found only in Jesus.  The peace and happiness that rests in your heart when you finally ditch your sense of self and accept God’s will in your life is unlike anything else one can experience. 

So how can you achieve this?  Well, for me, it was learning to trust God, to completely trust that everything that is happening in my life right now is God’s will and that it is for the good.  I may not see the good in this lifetime, but I trust at some point, I will!  It is surrounding yourself with faithful believers.  Lockdown has provided so many opportunities for me to join in different church services, bible studies, summits, conferences etc. that I otherwise would have been unable to attend.  This has literally changed my life, from the Cheerfully Given Creative Christianity Summit which turned me from an adamant uncreative whose biggest artistic achievement would be the sun, grass, bird, house picture of a four year old child to a buzzing creative with her own craft trolley, who is so full of ideas that she carries a notebook around with her at all times so that her head does not explode! The Aberdeen Christian Fellowship Big Church Weekend which brought my husband and I into the community of believers in Christ who welcomed us warmly.  The Alpha Course where we met fabulous new friends who we keep in touch with regularly, we chat, we laugh, we pray for each other and, God willing, we will soon meet each other face to face for a time of fellowship.  Watching Angus Buchan’s Mighty Men’s Conferences which due to Covid are broadcast online!  Seeing the faithful heart of Angus Buchan inspires us so much to follow in his footsteps, to live our lives for Christ.  Watching an African Church Service where praise is paramount, little is spoken without “Amen” or “Halleluiah”.  This is the faith I strive for, the faith to praise Jesus without fear or embarrassment.  A “Get Out Of Your Head Bible Study” where as a group of women we come together to discuss our struggles and our faith, we pray for each other and we learn from each other and I see Jesus in each and every one of these woman.  Scripture tells us how important it is to fellowship with one another, Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

I fully understand the fears that you may have as new Christians reaching out to believers.  It can be difficult; I understand that churches can be cliquey, and some church goers may not be approachable.  I want to say to you that this is your time!!  Coronavirus may have been meant for bad, but God is using it for good.  I would not have had the confidence to attend the above in person and though I was still apprehensive, sitting in my own house, in my chilling clothes made things much easier!  I did not have to worry about my appearance, I did not have to worry about whether I could escape if I were uncomfortable and anxious because all I needed to do was press the Leave Meeting button!  Luckily, I have never felt the need to do this!  So, I urge you, give it a go!  Sign up for Alpha, watch a church service, sign up to Bible Studies or small groups.  Just have a peek and see!!    

For the church, this is the time to rise to the challenge.  Statistics show a huge rise in church attendance during this pandemic, people are interested, people want to know more, people need Jesus.  Acts 2:46-47 “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” 1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

Like Martin Luther King Jr I too have a dream and mine is this … that we will see the Church of God come alive.  That the church will unite throughout the world focussing on union and not division.  That this church will exist for the glory of God and that the living Word of God will be preached with joy and love and without errancy.  That this church will welcome each and every soul as their brother or sister, that they will be welcomed with open arms and encouraged each step of their journey and that those who arrive as strangers, leave as family.  I dream that this church will heal the sick and save the lost.  That testimonies will be shared with joy and fervour.  That the praise will be resounding and powerful that those outside of the building may know that God is alive.  That the walls of this church will tremble from the vociferous preaching held in its midst and that this good news will flow to the ends of the earth and not be silenced.  That no brother or sister is left in any need, but is provided for financially, practically, and emotionally and that this church stands together, shoulder to shoulder with each other living out the graceful love of God.

Ephesians 2:19-20 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” 

Romans 12:4-5 “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

1 Corinthians 12:13 “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

Let this season of tragedy emerge a season of triumph!  Let the people come!!

Love and Blessings

Louise xx