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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Read Your Bible to Fight Unbelief

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Why do we stop reading our Bibles?

Really, think about it.

It is not because we lack the time to do it. If we are breathing we have time -and God knows we do have time! In reality, we stop reading our Bibles because we lack the faith to believe that God himself speaks to us through it.

We stop reading it when, in our unbelief, we start living as if we were autonomous and knew well how to do this thing called life without any direction from the Holy Spirit. We stop reading it when, in our unbelief, we decide to listen to our troubled heart heavy with anxieties instead of listening to what God has to say in the midst of our troubles and anxieties. We stop reading it when we sin, because, in our unbelief, we think it is not profiting us or that God cannot forgive us -again. From the beginning, since our fathers fell in the Garden, it has been unbelief who has kept us from honoring, believing, and obeying God’s Word.

So, dear Friend, be reminded of this: the only way to battle unbelief is by being in the Word. Keep coming, verse after verse, chapter after chapter, book after book, day after day. God will fulfill His purpose in you and will strengthen your faith as you take the Book and read it.

Be encouraged! Persevere!

Under His Sun and by Grace,

Becky

To Know God in 2019

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Photo by Bianca Gonçalves on Pexels.com

When the fullness of time came, Jesus, the Son of God entered our timeline in swaddling clothes, and made His dwelling among us. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, the Word who created the world and all that is in it, became flesh to give us eternal life, and eternal life, He said, is to know the only One and true God.

The Son of God took human form and humbled himself to the point of death to redeem us. What for? So that we may know the Father. And this we know because it is written in His book.

If you have been redeemed by God, if you have been born again, if you have laid your sins at the feet of the cross and embraced God’s forgiveness; remember that you have been saved to enjoy eternal life, to enjoy knowing the Triune God and all the promises and good gifts He loves to give His children.

This is important for us to keep always in front of us an important theological truth, but also inside of us as the powerful truth which holds us secure: We can know and love God, only because He knew us and loved us first (1 John, Ephesians 1).

When Jesus prayed to His Father he said,  “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 ESV) Let this truth sink in your heart, you were saved not only from eternal damnation, but unto eternal joy, so that you may know God and enjoy Him forever (as the Westminster Catechism teaches us).

And how can we know Him?

God has decided to make Himself known through this world and through His Word. When we look around at the intricate and huge world God created we can learn many wonderful things about Him, but it is only through what He has revealed about Himself in the Scriptures that we can fully know Him and our need for Him. Only when we take the Bible and read it (or hear it preached), the Holy Spirit can convict us of our sins and grant us repentance and saving faith. There is no way for us to know God as our Savior, as our Father, as our Redeemer, apart from what is written in His Word.

Oh, thanks be to God that we were not left to ourselves to try to find a way to God. Thanks be to God that He gave us a book and the Holy Spirit to teach us all things that pertain to life. Praise be to God for faithful pastors and teachers in our churches  who preach with an open Bible each Lord’s day. Praise be to God for faithful friends who encourage us to persevere in the Word each day. Praise be to God for so many plans laid out for us so that we can follow our daily readings.  Praise be to God that He wants us to know Him! Praise be to God for the Bibles in our homes!

Let us join the prophet Hosea this year and say,

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is as sure as the dawn;
He will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth,”  (Hos. 6:4)

And the apostle Paul when he wrote to the Corinthians, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)

May the Lord grant us an undivided heart this year, Friends. May we press on to know God. Don’t be content with a bible verse or two each day. Dive deeper into the living waters of God’s Word, strive to be immersed in them. Let them saturate your heart, your mind, your daily life. He will come as the spring showers to water your soul and make you fruitful.

May we live to know God and enjoy Him forever. Starting today.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky