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