Sunday, July 24, 2022

Don't Play Church

But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heat to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?" Acts 5:3

Hi Friends!
Today, I'm in Acts 5. You may be familiar with the story of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. It's a pretty unsettling story. In summary, they sold some property, kept some of the proceeds, and took the rest to the apostles implying that what they brought to the apostles was the entire amount of the proceeds. They got caught in the lie, and both died. Just fell down dead. Right there. It left the people who witnessed it unsettled. And it should leave us unsettled too.

My pastor spoke on this passage last week. And he said the problem wasn't that they kept a portion of the proceeds. The problem was that they lied about it. Even Peter said that it was theirs to do with what they wanted. But they lied- not to man, Peter said, but to God. And my pastor said they were suffering with what he called "perception management." See, they want to be perceived a certain way. Just before this episode, we see in Acts 4:36-37, a man sold some land and he brought the money from the sale to the apostles. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to be like that guy. They wanted everyone to think they were just as generous and just as faithful. It's all about perception, right? Here's the thing though- we might be able to trick people, but we cannot trick God. He knows our hearts, our motives, our faith. He knows.

It's easy to sit back and think that we'd never do something like that. But don't we? Don't we all have "perception management" issues? We want people to see us a certain way. Have you ever been fighting with your family before church but when you get there you all plaster smiles on your faces as you walk in? No? Just me? We all do it. We do it when we edit photos before we post them. We do it when we only post the good stuff on social media. We do it when we give time or money because we're "supposed" to. We do it when we try to keep up with the Joneses. But God knows. He knows our hearts and our motives. So let's not worry about what people think. Let's worry about what God thinks. Don't just put on a show. Don't just play church. Let's BE the church Jesus wants us to be. When we struggle with perception management, we must pray for God's help to overcome it. I pray that we can have enough faith in our great God to give Him our ALL, not just some, but all.

Page details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Marker Alpha, Skinny Minnie Alpha, My Father's House, Knit Together, Texture Tiles 8, and Serene Silhouettes. I used distress oxides for the background. I stamped the church on a hymnal page. The letters didn't ink evenly, and I ended up liking that look, so I left them that way.

Have a blessed week! Andrea

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Wash me clean...

Hi friends,


Have you ever wondered why stain removers are such a highly advertised and sought after product? Whether for removing stains from clothes or furniture or carpet, there is a big need for products that will magically remove the ugly stain that ruins our lovely clothes, carpets, or sofas. There is something in us that knows that stains are ugly, that they ruin the look and value of things, and we want to get rid of them. There are some stains that just won't come out though, no matter what wonder-product we apply to them. We can scrub and wash and soak all day, but the oil or ink won't go away. The same is true for the sin in our lives. No amount of self-effort or new year's resolutions or willpower can deal with the stain of sin in our lives. So what can?


Only God can wash us so thoroughly that he can cleanse us from our sin. When King David sinned horrifically by sleeping with another man's wife, then arranging for that man to be killed in an attempt to cover his sin, he had to be confronted by the prophet for him to finally realise the gravity of his sin. When that gravity hit him, he didn't try to make amends himself, but realised that he needed God to wash him clean from his sin. So he wrote Psalm 51 to express that plea to the Lord. And this psalm has been included in our Bible to show us how to pray when we realise our sin. David throws himself on the mercy of God, and realises that only God can truly make him clean. Only God can remove the stubborn stains of his heart. When we are confronted with the reality of our sin, do we hide? Do we try to make things right in our own strength? Do we promise to do better next time? Or do we cry out to God "wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin"?


I created the background on this page in my Journaling Psalter using acrylic paints and gelatos, then stamped the text using a mixture of sets: Script Outline Alpha, Messy Stamped Alpha, Skinny Caps Alpha, and Freedom in Christ. I then stamped the raindrops from Living Water with blue ink and painted them with a few layers of acrylic paint to get the shading and shimmer. I finished the page off with a few butterfly stickers. 

Let's bring our ugly, sinful, stains to the only one who has the power to remove them: let's bring them to the Lord in prayer.

Be blessed...

x Amy x


Sunday, July 10, 2022

Share God's Love

 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Hebrews 13:1

Hi Friends!
Are you feeling the love? Yeah, me neither. The church has missed the mark on the whole "love" thing. As a whole, we haven't done well with loving those outside the church. And we haven't even been able to love each other within the church very well. Think of all the divisions within the church. This verse is speaking to believers loving one another. There should be unity in the church because we're unified in Christ. And we should love each other not only for our own sakes, but as a testimony. The world is watching. Believers are going to have differences. And that's ok. In fact, God doesn't want us all alike. Those differences are normal and healthy and make us a stronger body- if we let them. We can use those differences to reach the world. The church should be a group of vastly different people who are unified in our diversity by our love of Jesus.

So how do we love each other? 
  • We accept one another as they are. They are sinners, but we are too. We all need a Savior.
  • We are subject to one another. Instead of always trying to get our own way, surrender to God's will and let Him use each of us within the context of the church for His great purpose.
  • Pray for each other- especially other believers we dislike or are bothered by.
  • Forgive each other.
  • Serve one another.
  • Encourage each other..
  • Comfort one another.
  • Bear each other's burdens. We're all busy. But take the time to really care for others.
  • Admonish one another. Be willing to lovingly confront other believers who are living in disobedience. But do it humbly and with the motivation to restore their intimacy with God.
Let's love each other. Let the world see our love. It will draw them to Jesus.

Page details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Happy Mail, Send Me, and Trust in the Lord. I used colored pencils to color in the images. Quick tip: Use Gamsol to blend in colored pencil lines so it looks smooth.

Have a blessed week! Andrea
*source: "How to Love One Another...Even Other Christians" Whitney Hopler

Saturday, July 9, 2022

A little or a lot?

Hi friends,


We live in a world where the message we often hear is 'bigger is better,' 'more is more,' and that we should be seeking to grow and gain in many different ways. But what if that isn't the way we are called to live as the people of God? What if there are things more important than growth and gain and having more? What if justice is more important? The writer of Proverbs certainly seemed to think so when he wrote: 

'Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.' (Proverbs 16:8)


We may read this proverb and agree, thinking that this is talking about bribery or corruption in the workplace, encouraging honest work that pays less than dishonest work that pays more. This may well be part of the meaning of this verse, but I've also been thinking about some other applications that may hit closer to home for many of us. I wonder how often we turn away from or ignore injustice because it is inconvenient to gaining what we want, to having more? Here are a couple of examples that come to my mind: How easily do we ignore the injustice of how cheap clothing is made so that we can have more of it? How easily do we ignore the injustice of knock-off products we can buy cheaply whose designs have been stolen from others so we can have more to play with? Are there other areas where we are compromising righteousness in order to gain what we want? These are sobering questions.


As the people of God who represent their Heavenly Father and follow Jesus Christ, we are called to be people who live righteously, who uphold justice, even when it costs us things we desire, even when it requires that we live in ways that are contrary to the culture around us. What examples can you think of where this verse applies? Are there any that hit close to home for you? May God help us live as ambassadors of the kingdom of righteousness.


I used the cute Fur-Ever Friends sets for the images on this page, colouring with watercolours. The text was stamped with a combination of Rebecca Script Alpha, Armor of God, Typewriter Blocks Alpha, and Watch Your Mouth

Let's be people who are content with all we have been given in Christ, and who therefore don't seek gain that is accompanied by injustice.

Be blessed...

x Amy x

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Thrive

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." Jeremiah 29:4-7
When people think of Jeremiah 29, they often think of verse 11. But just a few verses before that, there is a beautiful passage of how to live in circumstances in which you might not want to be. You see, Jeremiah was writing to the Jewish people who had been sent into exile. And that exile lasted 70 years! Yep, not 7, not 17, but 70 years. And God told them to flourish, to build houses and plant gardens, to marry and have families- to build a life, a good life. We may not be living in exile, but there are probably circumstances of your life that are difficult. You may not be living where you want to live. You may not have the life you expected to have. Your community may not be thriving. But God is there just like He was there for the Jews these verses were written to. And He wants you to thrive anyway.

He also told them to pray for their community. The cities they found themselves in, in exile, they were to pray for peace and prosperity. So what should we do? We should PRAY!!

These instructions, although given to the Jews a long time ago, can be applied in our lives. My nation has been struggling and the state of this nation isn’t where I want it to be. But nonetheless, I am to make the best of my circumstances, to build a house and a family, to plant gardens of love and unity and Jesus’ light, to pray for my city, my state, my country- peace and prosperity for them all regardless of whether I voted for the people in office or not. Plant gardens, my friends, and pray. If your city/state/nation prospers, you too will prosper.

Page details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Boss Lady Alpha, Welcome Home, and Love Your Neighbor. To shadow the words, I used a pencil. I love using a pencil because you can erase it if you mess up and make it darker or lighter depending on what you want it to look like.

Thrive wherever you are because God is there too. Andrea

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Seeking & Thirsting...

Hi friends,


Have you ever had a craving for something? I'm sure we all can identify with that feeling of being desperate for a drink of water (or coffee!) or for something sweet, or something comforting. Desire, or thirst, is what drives us to seek the thing that will quench our thirst. When we are thirsty, we become determined, focused, intentional, even desperate.


Sometimes in the Christian life (ok, maybe more than sometimes!), we can live without intention, focus or drive toward God and his Word. We can drift into a spiritual state of ambivalence, with other concerns taking our focus and attention. When I have been in this place, it's been easy to wonder what's wrong with me. Why am I not seeking God like I should? Why am I not more disciplined? And a guilt trip is easy to take.


But what if the problem is not with our seeking but with our thirsting? What if the reason we are not seeking is that we are not thirsty or that we are quenching our thirst with other things? Thirst is natural, but not everything that quenches our thirst is good for us. Sometimes we can quench our thirst with so much coffee or soft drink that we don't drink enough water, which is actually the healthiest way to quench our thirst. What if the same is true spiritually? What if we are quenching our thirst on things that are providing immediate relief but are not truly life-giving? This makes me think: what have I been 'drinking' lately? How am I satisfying my spiritual thirst? The writer of Psalm 63 shows us a vivid picture of what it looks like to thirst for God, and this inspires and challenges me to have that same posture. 


I created the background on this page using acrylic paint and used a few stamp sets for the verse: Refresh My Soul, Seek Him, and Mini Bold Print Alpha. I used the new Special Blooms bundle for the focal image, stamping on watercolour card then colouring and die-cutting before gluing to the page. I added some butterflies from Spread Your Wings and some wordfetti from Prayer Time to finish.

Be blessed...

x Amy x



Sunday, June 12, 2022

Set Free

 Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. 
John 8:32

Hi Friends,
I'm sure most of you have heard the phrase, "the truth will set you free." Many schools and universities use it as a motto. But Jesus was the One who said it and He wasn't talking about academia. He also wasn't talking of political freedom. That's how the Jews took what He said, but they missed His point. Jesus was talking about spiritual freedom. 

Jesus is Truth. When we know Him, we are free from sin, free from condemnation, and free from death. So friends, are you living free? For many of us, we think of freedom as personal independence- being able to do what we want when we want. But Jesus wasn't setting us free do do whatever we want. He was freeing us to fellowship with Him and the Father, and that means we live in a way that we obey Him and choose His will for our lives. As we submit to Christ, to Truth, sin has less power over us. We make choices that glorify God most of the time. We can live knowing that Jesus doesn't condemn us and that while we will experience physical death, we won't experience spiritual death. That is freedom only Christ can give us!

No matter what happens in the world, we will always be free in Christ. 

Page details: I used the following Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps sets: Freedom in Christ and Mixed Up Stencil. I used distress oxides for the background.

Have a blessed week! Andrea