The Kingdom and Wisdom

This weekend I had the fun experience of going to Medieval Times with my husband and son. It’s a restaurant where everyone sits around an arena for an evening of knights and their horses showing off skills while everyone eats with their hands (because, of course, that’s how people ate in the Medieval days — wink, wink). The king would announce everything in a booming, upbeat British accent, and we thought it was hilarious to talk to each other that way the rest of the evening. We spoke words such as these with flourish and grandeur:

“Dearest HUSBAND, I believe I am out of PEPSI.”

“Dearest HUSBAND, our waiter still has not BROUGHT my PEPSI.” (It was just fun to say.)

“Are we the ONLY ONES HERE who are not CELEBRATING a BIRTHDAY?”

“Dearest son, your FLASHING SWORD is BLINDING MOMMY when you put it that CLOSE to my FACE.”

My husband went all out and bought both of us huge flags to wave, along with the flashing sword for my son that I already mentioned. We waved our flags with a great flourish, purposefully waving them in each other’s space from time to time. Our knight, the red and yellow knight, never won a single event. My son kept asking if he could root for the blue knight instead. Ah, it was a great, silly time.

I am thankful for our silly times together. Yet, there are also times to be serious, in life and as a family. From a young age, Sunday School lessons about King Solomon’s request for wisdom caught my attention. I remember praying, “God, wisdom is what I want too.”

Yes, I tend to be a serious person, even though I do get pretty goofy sometimes (as evidenced at Medieval Times). As a teacher, I try to impart knowledge to my students regularly — but wisdom goes deeper than that.

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Proverbs 3:13-18 (ESV)

Blessed Is the One Who Finds Wisdom

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed.

When I consider what wisdom really is, a lot of it has to do with how we think about life. It’s not living for today. It’s remembering that we are meant for a true kingdom, and as Christians, we are adopted as sons and daughters of the true king, the Prince of Peace.

Bible Journaling is one of the ways that I take time to put my focus on the bigger picture; it is a time of reading the word, prayer, and listening. God values wisdom (He is wisdom), and he honors those who seek it. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

As Christians, we are different. We base our lives in the belief that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. We think differently, and that is a good thing.

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Bible Journaling Challenge #10

Have you ever had a certain person’s story from the Bible really stick with you the way that Solomon’s request for wisdom stuck with me when I was young? No, Solomon was not perfect, but his request for wisdom was honored by God. As you consider a person from the Bible who has inspired you, what was it about the person’s story that was meaningful for you? Maybe it was David, Esther, Moses, or Timothy. Create a Bible Journaling page based on the wisdom you have gained from that person’s life.

The Joy of Velcro (and Bears)

Today I’m going to share how I made the cover of my Journaling Bible extra unique. The secret — yes — velcro! I bought the little teal cross at Hobby Lobby for about four bucks because I thought it would look awesome on the front of my Journaling Bible. Then I started thinking about how the pages would not lay flat for me to write and draw if I decided to have a huge cross glued to the front. Fortunately, velcro came to mind. It was super fun to ask people, “How do you think this cross is attached to my Bible?” and then do the little show-and-tell this week. You’re never too old for show-and-tell. Speaking of show-and-tell, I saw this guy as I was driving to work last week.

 

 

It was amazing to sit in my car and watch this bear for about five minutes. I had never seen a bear while I was driving before (even though I did have one come in the yard with me one time while I was reading a magazine). Seeing the bear was one of my big praises for the week. I always marvel at God’s creation (preferably from a safe distance, haha).

Challenge #5: Do something in your Journaling Bible that will bring you joy this week. Maybe you’ll choose to velcro a cross onto the front like me, or maybe you have something else in mind that will make you smile when you look at it.

Do you know what Hephzibah means?

 

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I created this “she” portrait during the second day of Flourish Bible Journaling Conference. It says “Hephzibah. She is . . . Redeemed.” 

 

My delight is in her. That is what Hephzibah means in Hebrew. In Isaiah 62, that is what God says He is going to call Israel — and when I read the scripture today, I think of all of us who are true followers and believers in Christ.

Isaiah 62 itself starts out by describing Israel’s poor standing because of mistakes made in the past, but the prophetic message is that Israel will be restored.

. . . you will be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
    a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
No longer will they call you Deserted,
    or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
    and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
    and your land will be married.
As a young man marries a young woman,
    so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
    so will your God rejoice over you.                                            Isaiah 62:2-5 NIV

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The word picture here is so beautiful. I am not a Bible scholar, just a Christian who is learning more about God’s word as I Bible journal, so I would encourage you to do your own study into the passage. If you really want to dig in, here is a commentary that was written in an understandable way, and here is another good commentary. Yet, what I am seeing here is a prophecy that Israel would overcome a historical time of shame and also that Christ would come (Isaiah is a book in the Old Testament), and I am also seeing a picture of the church as the bride of Christ (an idea that is presented in the Gospels and Revelation later in the New Testament).

Hephzibah — my delight is in her.

Those words bring me so much joy in my soul. God can take what is broken and desolate, and he can see the promise in it, even at times when no one else can. He can change hearts and bring growth. This verse makes me think about mistakes that I made in my Christian walk in my early twenties, and it reminds me that God has forgiven me. It reminds me of how far he has brought me in my journey.

The word delight shows me of how deeply he cares. My wedding anniversary is this month, so I think of the bride I was many years ago and the wife that I am for my own husband. Yet, the love that we have cannot compare to the enduring love of Christ for the church.

I was reading Isaiah 61-62 before church two Sundays ago, and Isaiah 61:7 stood out to me too:

Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.                                                         Isaiah 61:7 NIV

So often, God in his grace gives to his followers beyond what we deserve. “Double portion” stood out to me. When I took communion later that morning, two pieces of bread were sticking together. Not realizing it, I took them both. As I felt the bread in my hand, I realized I literally had a “double portion,” which brought a smile to my face as I remembered the verse.

What I want to leave you with today is that, as a believer, God treasures you.

she is portrait 2Challenge #4: Create a piece of art or a page in your Journaling Bible that celebrates how God sees you as a believer in him. Include a verse or words that speak to you. Hint: Day Two of the Flourish Bible Journaling Conference has an excellent tutorial from Scripture Doodle on how to create a “she” portrait.

 

Pick Up Your Sword

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Do you have days when you feel powerless? As Christians, we know that everything is not in our control. Yes, we have many choices that we make in the day, but God often puts us in situations where we must surrender to His guidance. Even as He communicates, we don’t see the whole picture — so we just have to trust.

Where is our power? So much more is accomplished in prayer than we could probably comprehend this side of Heaven. If you have asked Christ to come into your life, forgive your sins, and give you life eternal with Him, then you have the Holy Spirit as your helper.

You also have the sword.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

Ephesians 6:17 calls the Word of God the “sword of the spirit.”

As we practice Bible Journaling, we have the opportunity to make the sword a part of our daily armor. That is one of the things that is so beautiful about Bible Journaling — encounters with the Word are what bring us strength.

We are reading the Word, speaking the Word, thinking about the Word, and putting that experience into a creative expression that will help us remember to practice the Word in our lives. In doing so, we are sharing our testimony about what God has done for us along the way, and there is power in shared testimony as well.

No, Bible Journaling is not just doodling a pretty picture. It is preparation for the day.

Pick up your sword! The Holy Spirit will bring the verses to mind when you need them.

In Luke 24:13-35, Jesus appears to his disciples after His resurrection, but they do not realize it is Jesus that they are talking to yet because they are so deep in confusion and sadness after the crucifixion. Jesus begins to remind them of scriptures as they walk together, and eventually they reach a place to eat together.

And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:31-32

Christ was literally among them, and he quoted the scriptures to remind them of the bigger picture. People have been martyred for the very Bible we read today. The man who translated the Bible into English (what was then Middle English, for those of us who really like to geek out on language) faced steep persecution for translating the Bible into a language that common people could understand.

When we open the word, we are connecting to ancient words, ever true. At one time, people were hand-copying the words into illuminated manuscripts. Now we are interacting with those same words in our Journaling Bibles.

 

Bible Journaling Challenge #2: The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit. What does that mean to you? Hand-letter a verse inside the shape of a sword, or draw yourself holding a sword.