Monday, September 24, 2018

Open Doors

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, 
who holds the key of David. 
What he opens no one can shut, 
and what he shuts no one can open.
 I know your deeds. 
See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. 
I know that you have little strength, 
yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Revelation 3:7-8

The letters to the seven churches of Revelation 1-3 are both historical and prophetic.  These churches actually existed and the descriptions of them are accurate.  The passages picture each church being held accountable for actions and lack of action.  One receives commendations from Christ, one encouragement for the persecution they are suffering, and the rest are judgments against the churches. I've always been fascinated with their application today because we can see so many churches reflecting one or more of the churches in Revelation.  The church at Philadelphia is the only church that received praises for their complete faithfulness to Christ. In these verses we receive instruction for our own faith walk. 

We hear many colloquialisms about God opening and closing doors, most of which are not actually biblical.  For example, "When God closes a door, He opens a window."  I'm not sure how this "work -around" mentality crept into church culture, but I've heard it a ton. To me it implies that if God chooses to close a door to something you want, He will still provide it, just in mode different from what you were seeking.  He'll work it do get you want you want.  He might close one door and open a different door altogether, sending you on a direction you didn't anticipate.  Regardless, we can take hold of what scripture says.  Christ holds the only key to heaven; He is the only way.  He opens and closes the door to heaven according to His perfect judgments.  There are no window through which people can climb in, escape or alter our eternal destination.  

I think the passage holds other implications as well.  God opens doors to us in this life too.  His primary goal is the gospel.  Ours should be too.  God will open doors for us to give testimony to both the gosple and our own salvation experience.  When He opens those doors, nothing can prevail against it to close it.  Likewise, if He closes the door, if His judgments are enacted, no one can find another way.  The lesson for us I believe is clear.  If God impresses us with an opportunity to share the gospel with someone, we better walk through the door.  He may close the opportunity to us if we don't.  The Spirit will prompt us; we need to take that seriously.  There is great joy is sharing what Christ has done.  Regardless of the person's response, we know we have acted faithfully when we take the opportunities granted by God. 
Design Details:  I used Distress Oxide inks for the background. The door image is stamped as are the distressing details.  The door and stone were colored using Copic Markers.  Stamps used are listed below. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Your Heart...and the Door

...The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to 
be upon your hearts.
Impress them upon your children. ...
Write them on the doorframes of your houses...
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Doors are significant and symbolize the entrance to a more intimate place.  When you put a welcome sign on your door, you are giving people permission to engage with your family, with your lives.  Jesus referenced himself as the door for his followers, (John 10:7).  Relationship with Christ is invitational and intimate.  He welcomes those who believe into the inner places of his person that we may abide there with him.  

It is not surprising then that we have a foreshadowing of Jesus as the door.  God commanded the Israelites, his people of the Old Testament, to write the commands he gave them upon their hearts and upon the doorposts....the area surrounding the door...the entryway.  To enter into relationship with God in the OT, faith was tied to keeping the law, God's commandments.  Perhaps that's why symbolically, the commandments were to be written near the entry point to their personal spaces.  It was a tangible reminder that to be in close relationship to God, there were to obey God's commands out of love and devotion to him. 

God always wants more than outward appearances of our devotion to him.  So His commands were to also be written on their hearts, loved, treasured, remembered.  

For believers today, our relationship to the Father comes by way of the Son, the Door for his sheep.  We know that we are free from the Law...not that we don't obey God and all his precepts, but our obedience is not what establishes relationship.  Our relationship comes through our believe and faith in Christ.  We will obey because we love him and want to please him.  But our obedience is not enough to gain access into the inner parts of the Kingdom.  Praise God, Jesus opens the way for us!

I love the symbolism of this particular door image to illustrate this passage.  Because everything in the OT is a foreshadowing of the New, what could be more appropriate for the door Christ represents than a red door?  Our entrance to an abiding relationship with our Savior comes through his shed blood, and through that gift we are given everlasting life...thus the evergreen wreath.  May we still tie his word, his truth to our hearts!
Design Details:  I used the new Christmas Joy Printable for this page printing the door on clear sticker paper and adhering to the page.  I sponged more color to get the yellow glow of light and some Distress Inks for the antiquing looks.  I used a script stencil for the smudge "commandments." 

5-pages including 4 sheets of colored images
scripture prompts
interactive devotional
and JPEG/PNG digital images to create you own custom printed images

Friday, August 24, 2018

No Brain of Straw!

We demolish arguments and every pretension 
that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, 
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5 
But we have the mind of Christ. 
1 Corinthians 2:16

 The scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz was a likable but pitiful character.  No brain...well, a brain of straw.  Fortunately, he at least knew he had straw for a brain and had both the desire for a real brain and the courage to go in search of one. His plight is not so different from those who are held captive to carnal thinking.  Before Christ, our minds are trapped in the world's thinking, and we do not understand the things of God. 
There were so many miracles that took place when I opened my heart to Christ over 50 years ago.  But one instantaneous transformation was new spiritual thinking...a new mind to see, understand and love God's truth.  I had grown up in a whole family of pseudo-Christians who adhered to a false religion.  Thankfully, we were nominal in church attendance so I didn't get a steady diet of their lies.  Looking back I know that God was protecting our family, preparing all of us to see and know the truth.  Even as a young girl, I sensed that what I was being taught in church was error.  Quite honestly, it didn't make sense.  Sitting under the gospel message I heard the full truth about Christ, my sin, and the way to salvation and I knew...I just knew this was it! This was truth and I was set free! I embraced Christ as Lord and Savior and have been amazed by his presence in me all these years.  
At salvation we are given the Holy Spirit who begins a mighty work of transformation within us.  He not only changes our hearts...He changes our minds.  Suddenly we see things from a spiritual...a truth perspective.  Throughout our lives God is constantly, consistently working to transform us and draw us closer to Him, to make us more like Jesus.  It is an incredible truth to me that we are given the mind of Christ.  I fear that much like the research that says we only tap into a fraction of the power and potential of our physical brains, many Christians don't access the power of Spirit with us, within our minds.  We still allow the trappings of the world to have influence over us.  The only protection is to daily fill our minds with God's truth.  When we seek His wisdom we are thinking with the mind of Christ.  When we look at life, circumstances, what the world say through the lens of Scripture, we are thinking with the mind of Christ.  When we fear, worry, doubt...we are letting the world creep in.  We have to pull out any remnant of our old straw brain...and fill our heads with all that is God's truth.  Only then will we really be free of the captivity of this world. 
Design Details:
This is the 100 Days of Bible Promises book by Illustrated Faith.  I'm skipping around in it as I find the themes and messages that I seek to illustrate.  Shanna Noel, author, really hit this one square on.  Her devotional thoughts and scriptures always reflect the truth.  They are very sound and very well written.  I highly recommend this book if you don't already have it.   I used the newest stamp set from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps called, Happy Scarecrow by Krista Hamrick.  It's an adorable set and so versatile.  I stamped the scarecrow on white cardstock, then stamped parts of the image on various designer papers to be able to paper-piece the scarecrow.  I also stamped the flowers from the set on cardstock and colored with Copic markers.  Then I adhered to the page.  Since Copic markers will bleed through these pages, it's perfect to just do them on cardstock first, then fussy-cut and color off the page first.  I also used Sunshine Girl and Cold Coffee Alphas for the larger lettering.  I used a variety of acrylic paints, stencils and texture stamps to add color and dimension to the page. 


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Be Thou My Vision

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art -
thou my best thought, by day or by night;
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father; thine own may I be,
thou in me dwelling and I one with thee.
Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
thou mine inheritance, now and always;
thou and thou only first in my heart,
high King of heaven, my treasure thou art.
High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
This ancient Irish poem dates back to the 8th century and was translated in the early 1900's.  I grew up singing it in church and now I sit in thankful worship when I listen to some of the newer renditions of the hymn.  There is so much to love about the hymn. I love the Irish melody, but the words are powerful too.  Sung as a prayer, it simply petitions God to be my give me eyes to see all that He is and all that He has done.  The lyrics speak of practicing the presence of God, that our best thoughts, words and actions would indicate the devotion we have in our hearts for the High King of heaven.  It describes the intimate relationship between the Father and His child and the promised inheritance we receive as children of heaven's ruler.  
When designing in my Praise Book recently I chose to extract the meaning from the hymn and journal its practical application.  This two-page spread is the result.  I copied the hymn from an old hymn book and adhere to the page then hand drew a frame to finish the edges and added a paper pieced girl from the Girl Power clear stamp set just released this month. The stamped words at the top of the page are from Bitty Minnie Alpha; the glasses are from the Girl Power set.
I created hinged tags to express my interpretive prayers. 
My prayer...
     When I look to my highest GOAL, may that be YOU.
     When I look to my greatest HOPE, may that be YOU.
     When I look to my deepest NEED, may that be YOU.
     When I look to my strongest LOVE, may that be YOU.
     When I look to my surest WAY, may that be YOU.
     When I look to my brightest LIGHT, may that be YOU.
Underneath each tag, I wrote prayers, journaled thoughts and wrote quotes regarding each of the prayer topics.
When God is the Lord of our heart, He will be our vision, our best or night; He will be our wisdom and the foundation of our truth, He will dwell with us and we will become one with Him just as Christ was one with the Father.  When God is the Lord of our heart, He will be sufficient for any need we have and will give us our promised inheritance when we see Him face to face.  I want God to be my vision, to fill my thoughts, to be the heart of my heart!
Sets Used (all new May releases)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Wisdom...A Graceful Garland

“Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. 
Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, 
and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; 
love her, and she will guard you. 
The beginning of wisdom is this: 
Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. 
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; 
she will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a graceful garland; 
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.” 
Proverbs 4: 4-9

Such a beautiful description of godly wisdom! The Bible has much to say about the wisdom that comes from God and how it is different from the world's wisdom (See James 3:13-18) The world's wisdom is foolishness to God. But godly wisdom, the wisdom that comes from above is a treasure. God's Word and His Spirit in us will give us all the wisdom we need to discern spiritual things. Anything God wants us to know, He reveals to us plainly. What isn't known is taken on faith, and faith is as valuable in God's sight as is wisdom! If you desire more wisdom, ask God for it, like Solomon did! Seek it through His Word and soak it up from the Holy Spirit. We can never have enough of it!
Design Details: I am so excited about the new printable just released by Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps called Girl Power Printable Bundle. The CUTEST ever girls who will fit perfectly in your Bible. Korin Sutherland, owner of Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps designed the set and I think it is beyond fabulous. Here I used a girl from the sheet I printed on clear sticker paper. So easy!!! I used watercolor paints, Classy Script Alphabet and Scribble Flowers (stamps are also from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps). I love the personification of Wisdom described in the passage and this little girl matched the idea perfectly.

Designed by Korin Sutherland, Owner

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Praise God Through It All!

It is good to praise the Lord and make music to Your name, 
O Most High, 
proclaiming Your love in the morning 
and your faithfulness at night... 
Psalm 92:1-2

God's Word is replete with the praises of His people even when going through tribulations. All of us can recount times when we were broken with bleeding hearts and yet found we could still feel the loving arms of our God wrapped around us.  One of the reasons we can praise God in the middle of any storm is His faithfulness to us.  Our praises don't emanate from the purity of our hearts, but by the Spirit in us who lifts our eyes away from circumstances to focus on the God who will see us through it all.

I recently heard a song that totally resonated with me and I want to include a link at the end of the post to the song if I can.  The lyrics speak of God's faithfulness and how he is with us through it all when we get it right and when we don't. I hope you'll take a minute to listen if you need to feel God a little closer to your heart today.

Design Details:
I've started designing pages in a small three-ring binder that is my praise book.  I've had it for more than a year and decided I wanted a place where I could journal more and have more design work than I can do in my Bible.  And I thought a praise binder was a perfect place to create using the printables from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps.  Our printables are a relatively new line and while certainly not limited to Bible journaling they are perfect for that, sized with a Bible page in mind.

We are beginning to branch out and think of lots of ways to support Bible journaling, but my line of printables are unique for several reasons.  You get a ton of ready to print-cut-use images that coordinate with a theme.  But you also get an interactive devotional that takes you to the Word of God and enables you to spend real study time there, meditating on how God is speaking to you to apply the truths of His Word to your life.  The interactive portion takes you into a worshipful, quiet time with God.  In addition to the designs and devotion you also get Bible passage prompts...samples of scriptures where the printables can be used...all following the theme of the printable.  This month's printable, Rain or Shine, includes verses of scripture that encourage our praises through all events in our lives.  But one of the most unique and helpful components of our printables is that the download gives you not only the printable, but the digital files in color AND outline.  You receive all the colored images as JPEGs and PNGs which allows you to resize, flip, layer...create to your hearts content and in a sense create your own printable.  With the outline images you can expand your creativity and personalize the images by coloring or using paper-piecing techniques. Our design team members are showing tons of ways to use our printables and all have done amazing worship-filled projects that will totally inspire you.

All of the elements on these pages are from the printable.  If you have a cutting machine, you can make fast work of creating these die-cut like designs or you can run the printable through with sticker paper.  So the versatility of these is a hugh selling point.  Here I've combined the printables with some of my favorite stamps, all released this month--Just Say Jesus, Teeny Alpha and from last month, Skinny Minnie Alpha, which is quickly becoming a go-to alpha set.

One of the things I like about using my binder (purchased through Illustrated Faith), is the SPACE I have for creating. I've included personal thoughts, scripture, and song lyrics...all things that take me to the heart of worship.  So whether you are creating in  a binder like this, traveler's notebook, junk journals, or your Bible these printable will offer you tons of possibilities.  But scrapbookers and cardmakers are certainly not forgotten.  These are perfect for you too, AND with the digital images provided you can size them for your specific needs. 

Sets Used:

by Diane Noble
3 sheets of print and cut designs, interactive devotional, scripture prompts AND
PNG/JPEG files for personal creations. 
Just Say Jesus by Rebecca Rios
Teeny Alpha Clear Stamp by Korin Sutherland
Skinny Minnie Alpha by Rebecca Rios
Don't forget to listen to this encouraging song by Colton Dixon, Through It All

Friday, April 6, 2018

Just Say Sunshine!

"Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore!" Psalm 113:2

All day, everyday, morning-noon-and-night, sunshine or rain, we are to praise the name of the Lord. God's trustworthy nature and our faith can carry us through the stormy days because we know the sun is coming. God will redeem the days when clouds cover our spirits. When we experience those days, we do well to JUST SAY SUNSHINE in our heart and let the light of Christ flood our cares and circumstances with His glory. I know that's easier said than done on the really hard days, but in faith we can choose to see God's hand in our circumstances, grab hold of His hope and cling to the God who holds all of our days in His good hand.

Design Details: Oh, I'm so excited my new printable available exclusively at Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps. The bundle has proven to be even more versatile than I'd hoped. Our team members have created some amazing pages with the printables. And I can't wait to share more of mine. They were so fun to do. For this page I blended two ways to use the printables...print and cut from cardstock, and using them on clear, matte finish sticker paper. Here the sun, cloud and word sunshine are clear stickers so you can easily read the text through the sticker. I chose to highlight the verse with the cloud. The tab and bottom pieces were printed on cardstock and cut out. You could make the bottom grouping as a tip-in so the scripture underneath is accessible. I didn't this time. The background is a watercolor splash blending 2 yellows and a touch of orange. I'll be sharing more about the printables and doing a video with them for one of my upcoming pages.

 April's Printables
3 pages of artwork, an interactive devotional page, 
and 12 outline digi images included.

(used on tab)