Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have – Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials – gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.
1 Corinthians 3:10-14 NLT
Jesus is our foundation, our cornerstone. In this passage, our works are imagined to be a building that will survive the fire of judgment so long as everything is built on Jesus. Draw the temple that you are building on Christ. Then draw the temple you have built with your self or the world as a foundation. What are your bricks made of for each temple? How solid is the foundation of each temple?
And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Matthew 6:16-18 NLT
Fasting as a spiritual discipline serves to focus our energy on God, and not to draw accolades on ourselves. Using this scripture as a reference, write an advice column answer to someone seeking guidance on fasting.
Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work. But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.
John 10:37-38 NLT
The miracles Jesus did left evidence behind, and that evidence pointed straight to Jesus being the Son of God. What evidence of Jesus at work do you see in your own life? Draw something that represents the proof that he is working in your life and that Jesus is who he says he is.
Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
James 5:13-16 NLT
The power of God animates prayer and provides us with a direct line of communication with our creator. As you sit with these verses and pour out your heart to God, write him a letter about what comes to mind most as you pray. Are you suffering hardships? Pray about them as a letter. Are you happy? Write a letter full of praises. Is your heart burdened by unconfessed sin? Confess it in your letter.
Depending on your experience with church traditions, you may or may not care that the season of Lent begins today. If it’s not something you’re familiar with, Lent is the 46 day period preceding Easter Sunday that begins on Ash Wednesday. You’ve probably heard of Lent as a 40 day period of fasting (people often choose one thing to “give up” during Lent, like meat or coffee or chocolate), so 46 days seems like church people are bad at calendar math. The old traditions of Lent required some form of fasting every day except Sunday, so the “extra” 6 days are the 6 Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Lenten fasting in current traditions varies by church denomination if it is observed at all.
I grew up going to Baptist churches, and that’s still where I attend, so I’m not as familiar with Lent as a regular yearly practice, but I think it’s a lovely tradition that focuses on spiritual discipline and preparing our hearts for Easter in the same way that Advent looks forward to Christmas. Several years ago, I led a group that focused on creativity as a way to worship God and study the Bible, and I wrote some creative journaling prompts for the group Lent. Rather than fasting, we decided to focus on the spiritual discipline of daily Bible study in the 40 days (plus the 6 Sundays…) leading up to Easter.
For a whole lot of reasons, this year I want to share those prompts with anyone who’d like to journal through Lent and build a practice of daily Bible study. Each day’s prompt has a short Bible passage to read and then something to write or draw in response. I’ll share each day’s prompt here on the blog as well as social media each morning. I’ll use #artoflent on the social media posts if that will help you find them. As I update this site and my e-mail list, I’ll point you to options to sign up for a daily e-mail version. (My goal is to have that worked out by the end of the week, but in the interest of being honest, there are some other things that need to take priority over blog work.)
If this turns out to be something you love, please feel free to share the prompts if you know someone else who might enjoy them. As always, I’d love to see what you create if you are willing to share it. You can comment, tag me on social media (also use #artoflent), or e-mail me at email@example.com if you don’t want to share publicly. Even if creative work isn’t your thing, I pray that the verses each day will draw your heart to meditate on God’s word and the sacrifice of Jesus that is the focal point of church Easter traditions, regardless of denomination. I pray that this Lenten Season will be a time of renewed spiritual discipline and deeper faith. And I’m planning to return to regular content posting after Easter.
The tiny human usually uses every opportunity that the week of Halloween presents to wear a different costume. In years past, she has requested a family themed costume for our church Harvest Festival, some sort of princess-y something for her dance class, a book character obscure enough that we have to invent the costume for school dress like your favorite book character day, and something completely different for actual Halloween.
This year, she only wanted one costume: a black dog wearing a pink tutu that looks like her dog as a ballerina. Easy enough on the costuming end: black clothing, pink tutu, store-bought headband, gloves, and tail. Done.
There is no such book character that we know of that fits this description. I’m sure I could have scoured the interwebs and found something, but she also wanted the character’s name to be Moe, like her black dog.
We decided to write a book this week to go along with her costume, so here for your Friday Fun is:
We didn’t have time to illustrate the whole thing, so maybe soon we’ll be able to draw more pictures to go with the story. Most of the story is the tiny human’s idea. I edited a tiny bit and wrote the text out. All of the drawings were from very clear tiny human specifications, and she was pretty excited about our work once she saw it come together in print this morning.
With so many of our activities put on hold this year, this was a fun moment to create together and enjoy a new thing for Halloween this year.
I hope the tiny humans in your life will have fun with Mia and Moe’s Halloween Party adventure.
I like to process what I read when I study the Bible several different ways when I have time to really dig in. I try to read a commentary to see new angles, I take notes, and then I write and draw something that expresses what I learned and need to apply.
Today’s WIP is my doodle-notes page from Colossians 3. The text of what I wrote is below the picture.
I stand here every day in front of this closet and consider all the things I have to wear. I examine the clothes and think about how they will fit my mood or my activity or the way my body feels today. But really, I make a choice every day about what I put on and what I take off and what never even makes it to my closet for consideration in the first place. I must choose mercy and love and humility and kindness.
I must take off anger and greed and envy like dirty clothes and leave them in the heap of things that no longer suit this new creation of Christ, bathed anew in morning mercies.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us together in perfect harmony.
This week’s WIP is crochet. This will end up being a scarf with an oversize cable down the middle. Those weird ladder looking spaces will actually be crochet chained up the middle when it’s done, so it won’t be so wide and strange.
If you’re wondering how the shawl from a few weeks ago turned out, I didn’t love it as a window scarf. I put the chair shawl on the window like a valance and the new shawl on the chair. I’m always cold, so I end up wrapped up most morning and evening when I write.
*Bonus shawl detail: adding buttons is the greatest new thing I learned. I put two on each end of the new shawl. I can button the ends to make loose sleeves and keep it on my arms but loose on my body. Or I can wrap my core and button it together at one shoulder without the awkwardness of trying to keep it wrapped when I move. Yay for buttons!
This week’s art project is more of a community health project, and certainly not something I would have guessed a few months ago that I’d be taking on. I’m sewing cotton fabric masks, right now for people working in healthcare facilities and my essential coworkers. I’m sure at some point very soon, I’ll be painting more again, but right now, this is more important. I’ve definitely learned some new tricks on efficient production, and I feel like I’ll have that honed in even more by the weekend. This may not be art to most people, but sewing is creating, and I’ve certainly learned some new-to-me creative techniques this week.
I have taught art at our church’s Rec Camp for the last several years, and I’m always looking for new techniques to make sure I don’t do the same things every year. This year involved not a single drop of paint, but we did a lot of gluing.