Saturday, September 19, 2015
a little sheep's glimpse along the wayside (something to consider before purchasing a new Journaling Bible)
Sometimes I forget that I am not immune to behaving like a lost, stubborn sheep. Scripture identifies us as sheep in many passages. We are sheep that need Christ as our Shepherd in order to live healthy lives. But too often, I forget.
This week I was researching a "new" form of worship called Bible Journaling/Faith Art. The concept is similar to Keri Smith's "Wreck This Journal" style but with the idea that one would artistically express themselves directly onto the very pages of scripture that they are reading/studying. It can be very personal, very deliberate, and very rewarding if done with the right heart and motive. Go online and look around at all the blogs and boards highlighting this idea, and you will be amazed at what some folks have produced. It's impressive. (Bible Journaling on Pinterest)
Now, I have always fancied myself artistic, and Bible Journaling in my beloved Book of Life has already been a form of worship for me... to a degree. But once I saw the beautiful artwork created by others, and once I realized the magnitude and potential of crafting/scrapbooking supplies that I had failed to already obtain in order to accomplish grand feats within my own Bible, my heart skipped a beat in desire. WOW! Clearly, my Bible should look like that, shouldn't it? Quickly my Amazon shopping cart grew. I NEEDED to get special pens, colored tapes, pretty stamps, better paints, mediums, papers, etc. etc. etc. And I needed them STAT! Yep, all week I've been planning out how I would better showcase all my favorite verses along with those meaningful quotes and ideas that I had once noted in yucky plain old pen/pencil. What freedom it would be to express myself more more more! What fun it would be to make God's Word more colorful and yummy. What an opportunity to turn my Bible into the very best it could be. (Read that last sentence again and think about it. Hm.)
All week, this whole concept sounded super-dooper-mega-pooper-great in my head. However, for some strange reason, I couldn't hit the order button at Amazon. I couldn't spend an absorbent amount of money on scrapbooking supplies.... Fact is, I don't even scrapbook! Unexplainably, something kept stopping me. And rather than investigate that something (or Someone) in prayer, I instead wandered myself over to Christianbooks.com to investigate more stuff... particularly, a new "especially for this crafty purpose" Bible which I should obviously use for this new project dreamed up. Oh man. The more I looked, the more costly options presented themselves. Now, the very Bible I was about to beef up in artwork simply wouldn't do. I NEEDED to get that special "Journaling" Bible to get this whole thing right. Sure, it wouldn't be the 1984 NIV Quest Study version I love... it wouldn't hold my favored study notes and personal reflections that I had collected since marrying my husband of almost twenty years. Oh, and most important, it wouldn't be inscribed in the front with Chuck's thoughtful love note when he gave it to me. No matter. I NEEEEEEEEEDED that journaling Bible, didn't I? How else would I be able to worship artistically? (Funny thing... when you put the word "worship" in front of anything, it suddenly seems to get a free pass, doesn't it? I'm sure many marketers have taken advantage of distracted Christians with that little word for decades. Sigh.)
Sheep. Stupid, arrogant, selfish, hungry sheep. That's what I am.
So all this week, I have been envisioning this magically beautiful new Bible that I would make into an awesome (albeit hard to read) masterpiece. Then, this morning, the Holy Spirit put in front of me a reminder of my visit to Haiti in 2011. After Haiti, He reminded me of several friends who are always trying to raise funds to bring water, food and education to families in need all over the world. Lastly, He reminded me of the high dollar figure of craft and scrapbooking supplies I originally thought I needed in order to do this whole Bible Journal project pretty-like. Ironically, it now didn't seem so pretty after considering His first two reminders.
In truth, I really didn't need all that stuff, and I could definitely use those monies for a more obedient form of worship... GIVING. Sure, I could be more artistic during my Bible study moments in the future. But as far as the whole Bible Journaling bandwagon goes, God was clearly guiding me away - to forego all the how-to's and "what to gets" of the formal Faith Mapping movement with its classes and accompanying supplies tag lined to bring me closer to His Throne. He would rather I use my time and money serving others and giving to Him than spend valuable moments feeding my creative self for hours and hours and hours. Simply, He will feed me exactly what I need. He already promised.
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:1-5; 7-18; 27-30)
Of course, all this comes down to a matter of pride and the condition of our heart seeking Jesus Christ. Bible Journaling in itself is not wrong. But it can become a distraction and financial hemorrhage if we are not right with God. We must always prayerfully consider if we are seeking Him and loving Him first in our words, thoughts, and actions? Are we obedient to do what He has commanded rather than what we want or hope to achieve? Or are we simply trying to add conditions to His perfect Word with grand plans toward making it better and/or more appealing for our lust-filled wooly sheep flesh?
Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you. (Deuteronomy 4:2)
Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)
Ladies, it is imperative that before we dive into new endeavors and use the blessed funds our King so graciously provided to us, that we first humbly go to Him for guidance. We need our Shepherd in order to walk straight and safe. We are sheep after all. We can stray and linger along the wayside. We can become distracted easily. We can follow other well-intended but off-course sheep into places our Shepherd does not wish for us to go. None of us are immune to being sheep. What we NEED to follow is The Way of our Shepherd. For beside Him, we'll need and want for nothing. Our God will ALWAYS supply all our needs exactly when we need them!
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23, NIV)
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