“It Is Written” And So We Read

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 10.04.14 PM

How  else will we know what a great love the Father has for His own children, if we don’t open our Bibles to read them?  How will we know how immeasurable are God’s grace and mercy towards us if we rarely read the Scriptures? How will we know how deep our sins are and how great our Savior is if we don’t read the Holy Scriptures? How will we know what the Father promises to us if we keep shutting our eyes and ears making no room in our hearts for the Word of God in our lives? How will we know God, how will we taste and see that He is good, if we are just too busy for that? Friends, All these things have been written so that we may know them and the Author of Life. These things have been written so that we may read them! Each of these words has been written so that we may believe them and live by them!

Because “it is written” we know the wonderful news of the gospel. Because it is written, we know that if we repent and believe in Jesus and His words we can have eternal life. It is written that those who believe in Him have passed from death to life, what a joy to read what God has determined for us to read. Think about this, you and I would have never known these news, news that carry eternity within them, if Jesus had never spoken and if His words had never been written.

This world neither would have ever been if Jesus had never spoken it into existence. God’s Word created galaxies with planets and stars and waves that make music in the heavens for us to discover. God spoke and His Word created creatures under the seas that even now are hidden from our eyes. Today, this minute, this world keeps spinning and your nails keep growing, and flowers keep blooming and babies keep crying, because Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God “upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1).” Jesus “is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1).

There are more riches in the Word for us to discover than galaxies in the heavens. There is more to know about God and His ways than we can possibly imagine. The vastness of the treasures to be found in the Scriptures and the hugeness of God should not keep us from pursuing our desire to know them. On the contrary, to know that these treasures are waiting for us, should encourage us to seek more diligently, to read more attentively, and to pray more fervently asking God that we will not miss any of them. It is written so that we may read and believe. And as you immerse yourself in the Scriptures, “think every line you read, that God is speaking to you,”[1]

And so we keep coming and keep opening our Bibles, and keep reading, because, really? Who doesn’t want to know the Triune God? Which Christian who has been called by name before the foundation of the Lord, doesn’t want to know more about God? The fact that we can know God is such good news that it starts to sound almost like a big bang in the ears of those who try hard to suppress the truth of God with lies. But nonetheless, it is true, it is written: God wants to be known! So we will keep coming to our Bibles each day because we want to keep breathing, living, discovering, knowing, worshiping. God wants to be known! It is written! Thanks be to God!

Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth. (Hosea 6:3)

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

[1] https://gracegems.org/Watson/reading_the_scriptures.htm Accessed Sept,14 ’18
Photo credit: Lilian Dibbern via Unsplash

Don’t know where to start reading the Bible? Join us on today’s reading! Find the schedule here.

Wear the Habit: Eat the Word

In September 2017 I had the privilege to give a talk to launch the first round of the Bible Reading Challenge with the ladies from our church. Today I went back to it and I am so grateful to see how far the Lord has brought us. All is grace! And He is good! My dear friend, Rachel Jankovic had this idea of changing the methods to do women’s ministry and suggested that we should encouraging one another to “just be on the Word.” She  said, “What could go wrong if we make this big and invite more and more women to join us?” We know the answer. Nothing can go wrong when God’s people get into the Word, read it daily, love it, and pursue to obey it. Surely the Lord loved this idea too and now thousands of Christians around the world have joined us too, the feast is huge and infinite, and all are welcome to come! Join us here. This summer we will be reading all the New Testament starting on June 3. 

Screen Shot 2019-05-24 at 5.32.13 PM

Here are my notes from that talk I gave, and here you can find the recording -in case you are curious about my Mexican accent.

Father in Heaven, our Maker and Redeemer, we come to you in the name of Jesus asking you to please bless our time together this morning. We need your blessing, Lord, because without your blessing nothing we do can prosper or be a blessing to others. 

Our God, you have revealed yourself in your Word, please, please Oh Lord, draw us to your Word and bless us with the gift of eyes that see, ears that hear and feet and hands that are prone to obey you. Let your Words be our light and our salvation, our joy and our song, our very life. 

In the name of Jesus, Immanuel with us, we pray today. Amen.

I am going to ask you to imagine a woman with access to the best food in the whole world but starving -and thinking deceiving herself, at the same time, that she is well fed and strong. That was me for years. Since I was 11 years old I had access to a Bible. I grew up in church, I went to all the Bible studies I could, and even went to Bible college! But I was starving and the saddest part is that I didn’t know it. Weird right? I read the Bible with some regularity but only through my own lenses, my own experiences, my own interpretation of it; so even though I wanted to change (teenage years were a mess) and be a better Christian by trying harder, I could not because I was not letting the Word do the work the Word does. “I” the 1st person singular pronoun in my own conjugation was always on the way. 

But God had mercy on me and one day, around 15 years ago, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see my own weary soul and God’s amazing grace. The random and isolated (and out of context) verses I knew were all floating around my mind and they could not sustain me or hold me or give me peace -or life, and I had littles that needed a mom in the Word, especially if I wanted them to be children of the Word. These isolated verses were not sustaining many of the friends I had from my youth either and they started leaving the faith because, in their own words, “it didn’t have a backbone. It didn’t have answers to the hard questions of life.” We were all dying, starving with the Bread of Life in our hands -or on our shelves.

We are God’s daughters and yet how many times we see some of our sisters eating crumbs and facing the trials of life and sins in their own lives with no true strength whatsoever. Many women in this room have been feeding themselves for years now with the “Verse of the day” on their phone app or that Pinterest quote, or the verses that show up on their FB or Twitter feed. Having access to the Word of Life many choose to eat crumbs. Sisters, let us not forget that ALL Scripture is breathed out by God and All is good for us to eat. All of it! (2Tim 3:16)

And I don’t want you to take me wrong here. Choosing to eat crumbs each day for years instead of choosing not to pursue time in the Word is the problem. If you are very sick, or if you have your husband in the hospital and your fourth child is only 7 months old, or if you have your lost a dear one recently, please, know that reading, and I mean, you deliberately opening the Word, to eat and meditate a verse or two from your Bible a day is indeed a great mercy. God will multiply your strength through it. Be encouraged and Eat with faith.

And here, with hungry hearts at the starting line of this challenge that God willing, will not end in May. And the challenge is real and the fear to fail- again- is real too. But here we are, ready. With the Bible in our hands and the Grace of God leading the way. 

The first obstacle that we face is not physical, is not lack of time, is not even a lack of desire but one word we dread: HABIT.

When we talk about reading the Bible the word “habit” invariably shows up, so I want you to learn to love that word by pointing out something super interesting about this word. Habit also means the garment which a priest or nun or monk use to tell the rest of us who they are. They wear that habit daily and they don’t think about it. A huge part of who they are and what they do is tied up to that habit. I love this because it helps us see what we really want to pursue when we talk about the necessity of having the habit of reading the Word of God and praying. We want to wear that habit daily, without even thinking about it (like your underwear!), we want to own it, to have it (can you see how to have and habit share the same Latin root -from the verb habere? Don’t you love it?) So every time I use the word habit today, I want you to picture in your mind a garment that we own, that we have, that we wear daily.

A habit then, is not only something we do daily, but something we own daily, something we have and embrace and put on every day -and people see when we are wearing it well (especially our family). 

Now that we have this understanding, and feel comfortable using the word habit, we might still feel paralyzed.

Where do we start? Not on which book or chapter, but where in our heart?

Friends, the life of every Christian starts with grace meeting us in our sinfulness, in our not-wanting-to-know, not-wanting-to-obey, not wanting to change, in our sins.

 So yes, All is a gift. Passing from dead to life is a gift. All grace. And in grace, in this depending on God’s grace, we must grow every day. So for us to read the Word and understand it and believe it and trust it, and to live according to it, we need to receive God’s gift of opening our eyes. Yes, just like we received eternal life as a gift, we all desperately need -every day- the gift of seeing and the gift of savoring.

I want us to see something in this prayer that Paul made for the Ephesians (1:16-23): 

I do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 having the eyes of your understanding[a] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling [think about this, fully knowing what is the hope of His calling] , knowing what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints [WOW! ], 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe [to fully know this treasure that belongs to us!] , according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

This is a prayer Paul made for the Saints, not for the unbelievers. Many times we pray that God would open the eyes of those who are yet not walking in the Lord, and that is what we ought to do, but we must also be praying this prayer for us, for our children, for our weaker brothers and sisters, as well as for our Pastor and the elders and deacons in our church.

Our sanctification involves having more light to see, to understand more and know Him more. And this can only happen when we take The Book and open it and start reading it trusting that God, because of His great mercy toward His children, will give us eyes to see. 

Friends, we cannot grow apart from God’s Word. That is just impossible. 

When we turn -by grace!- to the Lord, He opens our minds to understand how the Word of God, All of it is the Gospel that saves us and that we preach. This happened to the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection (and you can read it in Luke 24:44-49) “…Then He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures”

When He opens our minds and give us eyes to see, the veil is removed and we can start beholding the glory of the Lord on the words we read (2 Cor 3:14-4:1 and 4:6). (I am going to read these verses but, later, I recommend you read the whole chapters 3 and 4)
3:14- 4:1

14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.

But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless —listen to this: when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.Therefore, since we have this ministry , as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart for it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

”

And what is His glory but all that He is, all His attributes, all that is encompassed in His Name being revealed and magnified as with a telescope, so that we may be amazed about the Awesome God we have! By reading the Word and seeing we are being transformed (2Cor 3:14-15 ). And because of this promise, because of this gift, we do not lose heart.

Sisters. Did you hear me saying that? We don’t lose heart when we see all the areas that still need to be changed in our lives because we read in the Bible that we have been given all that we need for our sanctification in Christ. We do not lose heart in our pursuing of Christ either because He has pursued us first with His great mercy.

So we keep coming and we keep knocking, and He keeps welcoming us and opening the door for us. Oh, come and see, and taste and savour these truths. Open your hands and receive Him and His wonderful gifts. Our God and all He does is awesome indeed (Psalm 66:3)!

Once we understand that seeing Jesus in the Scriptures is a gift that gives us life, we are ready to wear our habit of reading the Bible daily and in such a way that we will not be putting the pronoun “I” in the first place. We will no longer be looking for isolated verses to accommodate to our own personal views, and we won’t be trying to ground our faith on random verses disconnected from the whole counsel of God. We will open the Word and read every day with a profound desire to see Jesus, the one who has given us eternal life and eyes to see! We will read one page after another, and one chapter after another, and one word after another, because we want to know Him and the Father who sent Him. We will read the Bible every day trusting that the Spirit will breath in these words into our hearts and transform us into the image of Jesus. And He will do it.

If we talk about the necessity of having the habit of eating the Word of God, we might ask ourselves, Now what about the gift of “savouring”? What about our feelings and emotions? Piper rightly says, “We should aim in all our seeing to savour his excellence above all things… we read, he says, in order to see in order to savour. We seek insight in order to enjoy. We seek knowledge in order to love. We seek doctrine for the sake of delight. The eyes of the heart serve the affections of the heart.” 

Remember all is a gift. All is grace. And in grace, not in our own will power, we persevere in our pursuing of knowing Him more in the Scriptures, in order that we may love Him more and worship Him more.

We will be reading our Bibles daily, and some days we will savour Christ more than others. Seeing Him will be easy when we read words of comfort; other times, however, our spirit will feel heavy, our bodies will be aching and our minds will be exhausted, but even in those days we can still take a verse or two from our reading, meditate on them, and pray over them through the day and savour Christ.

As we read and think about what we read, we´ll find out that not all the passages will be sweet to our mouth. No, Sisters. And it is better for us to understand that. We should be expecting passages that will make us uncomfortable, passages that will expose our sinful desires, thoughts, motives, and actions. Words that will demand we respond with repentance. Words that will demand we respond with obedience in hard ways. Words that will demand we respond with actions that many times other will take wrongly. We will see many examples of these as we open the Bible and read it. There are Words in this book that will be hard to swallow, like the medicine we give to our kids, like the chemo many of our friends have agreed to administer to their sons. The taste is bitter, the prescription is painful, but once it is administered, the fruit it bears in our own lives and in the life of our church is sweet, so incredibly full of life. David knew this and that is why we have Psalm 51.

To be able to persevere wearing this habit, we also need something that many times, when we talk about our time reading the Bible, we put aside, as if it were a totally different thing, and that is prayer.

Yes, prayer should be connected to our Bible reading as much as all our veins and arteries are connected to our heart. Praying the Word is one of the sweetest, surest, and most comforting things I have learned to do -to wear as my daily habit- through the years. Friends, let’s start every day of this his challenge called life praying to the Father. Pray and ask Him to give you a desire to open His Word, ask Him to make it sweet to you, ask Him to incline your heart to it. Ask your Heavenly Father to forgive you for not loving His Word, for not treasuring it and ask Him to make it your delight. This is the kind of prayer that He loves to answer and we never pray! He will not turn His face from us when we pray asking Him to bless our opening of the Word in His presence! He will not give us stones or serpents. He knows, He hears us, and He delights in answering us when we ask these things.

We read and we pray. And we pray and we read. And our love for the Lord increases and His grace in us increases too. And you know what? We will be saying our “Amens” with more vigour, because we will know that we are praying according to God’s will and for His glory -as Paul says in 2 Cor. 3451:20-21 

In our Webinars we will talk more about this and learn how to pray the Scriptures.

Many of us are excited about this project because often times we find it hard to be motivated to read the Scriptures or to persevere in our wearing of this habit. The good news is that God designed for our sanctification to be a community project lived within the context of the church (so don’t feel bad because you still “need someone to help you at this point with your Bible reading”). It is important for us to see the true need there is to encourage one another and to build one another up in the Lord (I Thess 5:11), we truly need to exhort one another with the Word to actually be in the Word every day, even today! that none of us may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:12-13). Let us consider, Sisters, how to stir up one another to love and good works which flow from our relationship with the Father (Heb 10:24). “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works…” (Hebrews 10:23-24) We are in this together!

So yes, we need the body of Christ to help us persevere walking in the light, so let’s be obedient here. I have always said that a true Christian friend will always ask you (for real!), “What are you reading in your Bible?” “What has God been teaching you in His Word?” So, take advantage of this opportunity, don’t let the momentum go by. Start talking with your friends, your family, on your coffee dates about the Word!

Sisters, even though this project is not equal to a Bible study – An in depth-Bible study (Bible studies are super important -I love, love, love to study the Word!- and they have its place in the life of a Believer, but this project is not a bible study), we will learn to read attentively, to see the connections that are plainly there for us to see. We will become students of the Word just by applying ourselves to it. 

John Calvin said, “Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit” And Surgeon said, “Prayer is your best means of study.”

So, if we have a Bible, the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and a heart willing to pray we are ready to enroll in this school, in this challenge.

My aim in every webinar, then, will not be to exhaustively teach or explain every passage we read (we give thanks to God for our Pastors who faithfully do that every Sunday), but to help you see that there is one storyline in the Bible, and One main character, which I guess you already know is not you nor I, but Christ. We will not be reading only (and I am emphasising the word “only”) to get moral lessons for us, as some do. Remember first Christ. Always. And then us. 

The moral lessons do not come first, just like God’s moral law didn’t come first. First we know God as our Redeemer. We see Jesus, the Promised One on the pages of His Book, and we see the Triune God gathering a people for Himself and setting them free, and then we see what He requires from us, what moral expectations are imposed on us. When did God give the Ten Commandments? Before of after He delivered the Israelites from Egypt? Yes, after. We see this in Ephesians also, three chapters of indicatives, what God has already done, what is our status in Christ before the Father and then three chapters of imperatives, on how to live in the light of what God our Redeemer has already done. Moral conduct in the life of the believers always flows as a response to a Savior who redeems His people because of His great mercy and not because of something inherently “good” in them. 

First Jesus. Always.

We will in the next months, by God’s grace, learn how to live our life in constant dependency of God through coming to Him in the Scriptures and in prayer. We will learn to love our habit. And by the grace of God we will walk together through this trail helping each other arrive at the destination and be awed at the amazing view: The whole counsel of God laid opened in front of us! What a sight! To see the Redemptive plan of the Triune God unveiled before us! What a gift! Come! Come! How can we not come? Let’s wear our habits with joy and start going! This is a good day to start!

So, in the name of our Lord, by the grace of God the Father, and the help of the Holy Spirit, let’s set our hearts, Sisters, to read All the Word of God, to believe it all, and to obey it all. God is the one who has started this good work in us, and He is the one who will perform it (Phil 1:6). The good news is that He is at work in us to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Phil.2:13) In the name of our good and faithful God we will take His Book and read it. Amen!

Becky Pliego

My Three Favorite Apps

I want to share with you three apps that I really, really like. These apps have actually helped me be more intentional through the day to be in the Word.

Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 1.30.47 PMThe first one is Fighter Verses. This app is easy to use and  super helpful to help us memorize the Word of God -some memorization plans are already built on, but you can choose which verses you want to memorize.

It is a blessing to have this kind of help to saturate our heart and mind with the Scriptures and bring our thoughts under the submission to  God’s Word. Don’t you think?

Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 1.44.58 PMNow, my favorite app for listening to the Bible is Dwell. Many times, especially when I find my mind is easily distracted,  I listen while reading at the same time (just make sure you change the reading speed to a faster pace).  This easy practice helps me be more focused!

I like the option of having different voices read the text. My favorite reader is Felix, a man from Africa, who reads the Bible with so much passion that is contagious!  There are also different kinds of background music that you can choose from. But if you don’t want background music, you can just mute it, that simple.

The app  also has many  “playlists” that will help you engage with specific parts of the Bible. For example, if you have a 43 min commute, you can choose to listen the Parables of Jesus. Or if you have 4 mins you can listen to some verses that will encourage you to fight temptation (each playlist tells you how long it will take you to listen).

The Dwell app has some Bible Listening Plans included. Note that since this is a rather new app, some OT books are still missing, but they are adding them quickly.

This app has been such a blessing to me! I highly recommend it. You can also give it a s a gift to your friends and children!

Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 1.50.46 PMLastly, there is this other app called 5 Psalms that I also recommend. This is a very simple app, each day you have 5 different psalms to read, pray, and meditate.  So, simple, yet so good! And very convenient, right? We don’t necessarily have to have our Bible with us to go through the whole book of Psalms once a month; we can open this app through the day, and start making the Psalms our prayer book.

Well, Friends, I hope you have a great rest of the week!

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky Pliego

Beautiful Illuminated Bibles

Following up with yesterday’s post about the dangers of the “Bible Journaling” movement, I now want to point out to you some beautiful modern examples of illuminated Bibles.

The first one is the ESV Illuminated Bible. This is a really beautiful Bible . The golden illustrations are exquisite and stand out on the cream colored pages.

screen shot 2019-01-18 at 12.24.34 pm

Another favorite in our home is The Four Holy Gospels illustrated by Makoto Fujimura and published by Crossway.

screen shot 2019-01-18 at 1.24.55 pm

Here is part of the description on the publisher’s website:

The Four Holy Gospels is an exquisitely designed and produced edition of the four canonical Gospels in the English Standard Version, published in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version (KJV) Bible in 1611.

The Four Holy Gospels features newly commissioned original paintings representing the four Gospel Evangelists, illuminated initial letters, and other embellishments and design elements, printed in full color throughout and on high-quality art paper. The text of the Gospels is reproduced in a highly readable, large font; ideally suited for public reading, liturgical use, and as a family heirloom.

****

The Four Holy Gospels stands in the historic stream of the beautifully hand-illuminated editions of the Gospels created many centuries ago. This exquisite and unique modern edition carries on a classic tradition, beautifully combining the words of the Gospels and original art, inspired by the text, and brilliantly executed for the glory of God.

Other beautiful illustrated books on the Psalms are these:

The Psalms of David with Illuminations by James F. Freemantle.

screen shot 2019-01-18 at 1.30.38 pm

And the Psalms of David: A Faithful Reproduction of the Original 1885 Edition, The Great Illuminated Psalter Dedicated to Queen Victoria. (Sadly, it appears that this book is out of print).

screen shot 2019-01-18 at 1.36.02 pm

Have a wonderful weekend, Friends.

And if you have the creative bug itching you, buy a canvas and draw your favorite Bible verse.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Your Bible is Not a Canvas

I like the hasthag that Summer White used the other day: #ChalliesMadeMeDoIt so I am jumping on the wagon and will follow Tim Challies’ advice.

There is this trend among Christian women that has been growing out of proportion and is being spread as fast as the weeds in my backyard during the summer, and that is this thing called Bible Journaling (as I type this the tag #biblejournaling has 716K followers on Instagram).

What is this? Well, many women who love lettering, art, markers, stickers, glitter, fabric, and glue are now covering the pages of their Bibles with their art to get closer with God, to experience Bible reading in a fresher way. And when I say covering, I mean covering.

Look at these bible pages:

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 10.24.09 am

 

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 10.26.48 am

 

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 11.30.08 am

Day Spring even has a tutorial that gives 7 Easy Steps to Bible Journaling. Read it for yourself and see the danger there. This is not a trend that encourages artists to draw or paint verses on a canvas or notebook to remind you of some bible verses. This is a trend that has become a faux spiritual practice among many. In this article (and many others that you can easily find all over the internet, like this one) women are encouraged to  make of each session a spiritual discipline. For example in the first article I linked to, we read how Day Spring suggest you start each drawing session this way:  “Read a devotional, turn on your favorite worship music, and focus on God. This practice will get you in the right frame of mind so you can make the most of each journaling session.” Then, “Pray for God’s direction, and listen. He knows, and He will call you toward the verse that will most benefit you at this time in your life.” and ask yourself, “What is God telling you? Jot down any heartfelt words of praise that come to you. What does the verse mean to you, and how can you apply it? What drew you to the verse you are working on? Leave a prayer or ask for guidance.” And lastly they encourage you to start drawing without worrying about “being messy!” (Also, do not forget that you can buy from them all the supplies that will make your spiritual project prettier and more meaningful, of course.)

Now, what is the problem with this?  Isn’t this the same thing as marking our Bibles as a means to study and understand the text better? No. This is like doing graffiti to a monument. This is vandalizing the text.

When we cover with paint and stickers and glitter the pages on our Bibles we are not embellishing the text, we are being disrespectful with the Words on the text.  We are deeming our art as more important than the text -that is why we cover it.

Let’s not fool ourselves, Ladies, this is not the way a serious Bible student, a serious disciple of Christ searches the Scriptures to find life. Marking on the margins of our Bibles  a prayer, a question, a study note, a reference (and even a little lettering verse!) is a totally different thing than what these women are doing to their bibles.

 

Another huge problem with this method of “studying and meditating” on the Word of God is that it starts with “me.”

What is the verse I feel like I need to illustrate and what does it mean to “me”?
How can I give “my own” interpretation of the verse using art?
Which verses should I cover and which verses should I illustrate – what? Did you say context? Forget about it! The important thing is that my “art” makes me feel closer to God.

The danger to become absolutely shallow in our understanding of the text by doing this is, I hope, evident by now. As Christians we are not above the Word, we are under its authority and when we cover the text or portions of the text with glitter we are showing how lightly we take the Scriptures. We trample on the authority of the Scriptures when we stop fearing God and His Word, and this is not something subjective, some personal preference, this is a real danger that needs not to be taken lightly.

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 2.57.11 pm

Another danger is that women initiate and perpetuate false teachings doing this. Since, there is no limit to the kind of  art a person can do, then there is no limit to the personal interpretations of a text. I can illustrate a passage with a Disney cartoon, a message that has nothing to do with the Bible, or anything that occurs to me at the moment, anything that inspires me and is meaningful to me is OK because it express “my own personal experience.”

 

The point is not to dig deeper in the text, as you can see, but to be bold and not fear being messy. The point is to let the inner artist in a person -that inner artist that God put there!- to create. And by doing this they are altogether missing the point.

No wonder why many Christian women are being tossed away from one false doctrine to the other, from one emotional high to an emotional pit. They are not well grounded in the Scriptures, they come to the Word and leave with no substantial nourishment because they are approaching it from a totally wrong angle. They are investing their time in “Bible Journaling Ministries” and hope to remain unshakable when a storm hits their lives.

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 1.20.34 pm

Life Way has an article that encourages this practice saying that, “With Bible journaling, you will find a creative and fresh approach to the age-old discipline of Bible reading.” Friends, we don’t need a fresh approach when it comes to reading our Bibles. (And keep in mind that almost everything labeled as “fresh” concerning our relationship with God ends in a heresy). What we need is a humble heart, hunger for the Bread of Life, a teachable spirit, and fear of God every time we approach the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit will use His Word to transform us into the image of Christ, and it is clear that He needs no crayons.

The Life Way article continues saying that, “No matter what your purpose for Bible journaling, the beauty of the movement is this: it doesn’t require a skilled artist. All that matters is that you’re willing to experience God and His Word in a creative way.” Do you see what they are saying? All that matters is you and your personal experience. If you feel that this practice will draw you closer to God, go for it, you don’t need to search the Scriptures to see that it is not about you, or your emotions, or your “personal experiences.” Sister, neither you or I can create our own personal way to approach God. That is a lie that leads us to worship false gods that we create in our imaginations and after our lusts.

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 3.13.24 pm
God is His kindness has given us the Scriptures so that we may know Him and our way to Him. In His kindness, He didn’t leave us to ourselves to try to find new ways to approach Him. There is only way to enter in a relationship with God and it is holy: The cross of Christ.

Oh, that we may learn to fear the Lord and His Word! That we may esteem it more valuable than gold. That we may treasure it in our hearts and give it the place it deserves in our hearts, in our homes, in our churches.

How many hours these women, I ask, are spending doing each illustrated page? And how many hours are they spending in the Word, actually reading it -all of it!? How many hours are they spending digging deeper in the text, making connections, finding treasures in the way the NT explains the OT, for example?

We are making our Christianity void, superficial, just like our lives. For many, Bible reading is not about learning more about God and the world He created anymore, but about a fun hobby to fill their days.

I have a journaling Bible that I love, I write on its margins, I mark it, and I have even written on the margin an specific verse with pretty letters, but I would never dare to cover the text with stickers and acrylic painting. My Bible is not a canvas. My Bible is my authority.

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 1.28.38 pm

 

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 2.11.33 pm
May we be women of the Word. Women who know their Bibles, who love their Bibles, and read their Bibles. There is no other way to be strong emotionally and  spiritually apart from drinking deep form the waters of the Word of God.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

EDIT: All images were taken from Pinterest.

 

Did You Resolve to Become a Better Christian This Year?

fashion woman notebook pen“Will I have the will power to achieve what I have purposed in my own heart for this new year? Will I have the strength to become a better Christian this year?”

We all know the answer is no. The flesh is weak, the world is tempting, and the Devil is just around the corner waiting to devour us.

The good news for those who belong to God, for those who have been born of God, is that we can actually become better Christians not by having a stronger will power, or by trying harder. We can only become better Christians because of the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in us.

We don’t have to wait until “tomorrow” to start afresh because we have each moment through the day to start afresh. Each day, when we open our eyes and yawn and stretch under the covers, we are breathing new mercies already. And through the many moments of our day when we fall, we repent, we believe, and we lean on God’s new mercies and grace again and again. And again and again, day after day, we take God’s book and open it, knowing that because the Holy Spirit is at work in us through His Word we are already being renewed and transformed into better Christians.

Remember Ephesians? (If not, please take the time today to read it, it will only take you 20 mins!). We walk in a life of sanctification as a result of the work of Christ on the cross on our behalf. Friends, we don’t have to try harder on our own strength. Christ has done the hard part already. We should not try to try our best to become better Christians, it will be like chasing the wind, or even worse it can draw us to rely on a faith based on works.  Our doing consists in believing in God and resting assured in the work of Christ on the cross (see John 6:28-29) on our behalf.

When we believe this truth, we start -and continue until the end- acting in faith as Christians. We cannot generate resolutions like pray more, read the Word more, love God more, mortify that sin harder, love our neighbor -and our enemies- more, can you see that? Only God can produce that in us!

So, what are we to do? Nothing? Sleep more until it is late in the day without opening our Bibles, without praying? By all means, no! We pray fervently and ask God to draw us to Himself and then act upon what we have read in the Word and prayed about. We take our Bible and open it trusting that He will indeed draw us to Him, that He will indeed transform us and help us overcome sin in our life. We take God’s book and read it trusting that He will satisfy us in the morning, every morning, with His steadfast love. We don’t lose hope, we keep coming, we keep reading, we keep praying and we keep obeying. We know that He is faithful so we approach Him and obey Him by grace through faith each day. We press on but always relying on God’s amazing grace.

Under His sun and by Hus grace,

Becky