Saturday, August 27, 2022

Fix your Thoughts...

Hi friends,

If you were to analyse your thought life, what would you discover? Are there particular things that your mind gets fixated on? Are there thought patterns you find difficult to break free from? Do you feel like you don't have control over your thoughts and they tend to go wherever the wind of the moment blows? I think for many of us, we face frequent battles in our thought life. 

The writer of the letter of Hebrews seems to think that we can be intentional about our thoughts, when he exhorts the church to fix their thoughts on Jesus (3:1) and later to fix their eyes on Jesus (12:2). The act of fixing our attention on something takes intention. We currently live in a world where we are bombarded by images and videos designed to keep our attention bouncing around from one thing to the next, with messages like "you need this!" or "follow me!" or "improve your life in this way!" It takes significant intention to stop being distracted by all this commotion and to fix our thoughts on one thing, one person: Jesus.

The Bible tells us that what we fix our thoughts on is a choice, and it seems that the study of psychology is demonstrating that this is true (just look at the emphasis on mindfulness in recent times). In Philippians 4:8, we are told that we should think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy, and while there are many things that can be described by one or more of these words, there is one person who embodies all of these qualities: Jesus. When we fix our thoughts on Jesus, we are fixing our thoughts on the best possible subject, and in doing so we become transformed more and more into his likeness. Just as butterflies and bees seek out the centre of a flower to draw on its pollen, and they become fixated on that flower, so we should be drawn to Jesus and fix our thoughts and eyes on him, drawing on his goodness and grace.

I used the new Bold Caps Alpha die set to cut out the FIX letters, then added some words from Faith Wordfetti Too to the letters. I stamped the beautiful flowers from Flower Garden, then coloured them and the background with Inktense pencils and an aquabrush, before adding some PanPastel to the background for extra depth. The text was stamped using a combination of Lollipop Alpha, Bitty Minnie Alpha, and All in All. I added a few butterfies from Flower Garden to finish off the page. 

Be blessed...

x Amy x

Sunday, August 21, 2022

It's Grace

 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
Hi Friends!
Today we're in Romans 8, the very first verse. And we may take it as granted, but it's pretty amazing what Jesus did for us. For those of us in Christ, there is no condemnation- no punishment. If when we die, we have taken Jesus as our Savior, it won't matter if we murdered someone, if we stole, if we hurt others, no matter how we sinned, we won't be punished. Is that fair? No, it unquestionably is not. It's grace. And I'm thankful in this instance that God is not being fair. Aren't you?
When my girls were growing up, I heard that phrase- it's not fair!- a few times. They had a hard time understanding why certain things happened or why one got something the other didn't. We can have a hard time understanding God's ways too. His ways are not our ways. And we should be thankful for that! While I've never murdered anyone, and I may think my sin is less offensive than someone else's sin, God's grace covers it all. So, it may not be fair. And we should thank God it's not. Because without His grace, we'd all be condemned.

Page Details: I used the following sets from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps: Down on the Farm, Grace Upon Grace, and Mini Bold Print Alpha. I used watercolor crayons to color the images and background.

Have a blessed week! Andrea

Saturday, August 13, 2022

On Pearls & Pigs...

Hi friends,

We've probably all heard the phrase 'don't throw your pearls before swine' as this is one of the phrases from the Bible that has made its way into common speech. But have we really thought about what Jesus meant when he said this in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount? When you read the context, it seems a bit of a random comment in the middle of other longer pieces of teaching about taking the log out of our own eye, and asking, seeking and knocking in prayer. So what does this piece of wisdom from Jesus mean for us?

I think the key is in identifying what the 'pearls' are here. Pearls are things of great value that are not easily reproduced, so are treated as treasures. I was thinking about what might correspond to that in our lives today. I don't own any pearls, but there are things in my life of great value because they are not able to be reproduced or manufactured. One of these precious commodities is my time. We each get 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week - no more, no less. And there is no guarantee that we will have tomorrow's 24 hours. That makes time one of my most valuable commodities. The question then must be asked: what am I giving my time to? Am I recognising it as the precious treasure it is and therefore only spending it on things of value, or am I throwing it to the 'pigs' of life. 

It's not that pigs are of less value than other animals, but in the Jewish world that Jesus was speaking to, pigs were considered highly unclean. Pigs have no discernment when it comes to pearls - they don't know that these little round gems are precious. So they trample them. What might be the 'pigs' of our lives today? What is it that doesn't see the value in the pearls of our hours and days and because of this, tramples them? I know for me, one of the most insidious and demanding 'pigs' comes in the form of a screen - whether my phone (social media, internet surfing, etc) or tv (on-demand shows and binge watching). When I was creating this page I was reminded that this wisdom from Jesus applies to my life here and now in the use of my time. Am I reserving the pearls of my hours and days for the things that matter, or am I throwing them indiscriminately to the pigs and getting them trampled? That's a challenge to me - I wonder what the pearls and pigs are in your life?

I used the new Down on the Farm set for the pigs on this page, painting the background with acrylic paints and adding some 'pearls' using the Delightfully Delicate stencil and Nuvo mousse. The text was stamped with a combination of All of Me Alpha, Loop da Loop Alpha, Sweet & Simple Alpha, and Love ya Like a Sister Alpha. I added a butterfly from Made New, white embossed on vellum, to finish.

Be blessed...

x Amy x

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Work Hard

 Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; 
stay awake and you will have food to spare. 
Proverbs 20:13

Hi Friends!
Today we're in Proverbs 20. Verse 13 is talking about work. Sometimes, we think of work as a bad thing. Something that we do only because we have to. But, biblically, work is seen as beneficial- and not because it's financially beneficial! We see work in Genesis with God being the Worker, busy creating the world. When God created Adam and Eve, He put them to work over the garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned, unfortunately one of the consequences is that work became hard. The work itself was still good, but it would be more difficult, and the result would not always be positive. The important thing is that we should involve God in our work, whatever it is. As 1 Cor 10:31 tells us, we should glorify God in whatever we do. Our jobs should be our ministries.

This verse also speaks to work ethic. The Bible condemns laziness. While there are times when someone may not be able to work, or take care of themselves (and we are called to help those people,) if we are able, we are to work. This verse made me think of farmers. I have never farmed myself. But both of my grandfathers were farmers. And farmers work hard! There are many times that they work from sun up to sun down. They have to get up and stay awake and because they are willing to do that, they produce food for themselves as well as others.

No matter what you do, do it for the glory of God. Remember, work has no value unless God is in it.

Page details: This super cute Down on the Farm set from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps was perfect for this verse! There are matching dies as well! I also used 2 alpha sets: Old Fashioned & Playful. I colored the page with watercolor crayons.

Have a blessed week! Andrea