Creativity Update.

I have taken once again to writing my reflections upon a verse of the Bible each week day. As always I write what I most need to hear and do. I am conscious of more focus on individual words in this phase of writing than before. Then the whole verse was in consideration. Now it is one word. One detail. I try to find the right expression of that word. Possibly using many more words than I need.

I had intended to finish one of my novels during this April Camp of NaNoWriMo. It stood at just over 75,000 words. By day two I completely lost the compulsion to continue. I don’t think this was due to hesitancy or doubt on my part. My focus had shifted.

Since I first summoned the courage to place artistic Apple Pencil upon iPad paper on 24th Jan of this year, I have now produced over 400 pieces of art. Many will be consigned to the dusty storage boxes of the iCloud, but I have begun to share some of them via Instagram. More courage. At times I am overwhelmed by how little I know about art and a deplorable lack of skills, in a way that I am not with writing. Despite this I am trying to fill the gaps.

As with the Daily Verse I am captured by a single detail. It may be a specific colour or combination of colours. It may be a pattern or shape. I am studying other artists and their works. I am watching YouTube videos and events online from galleries. You must watch ‘The Eye of the Storm‘ about Scottish artist James Morrison. (The link may only work if you are in the UK – sorry!)

Each image I make has become like an act of meditation. I relax. I have no anticipation of the final result. I try to be aware of God as a draw or paint. The emblem of three trees and the cross are repeated motifs.

I will try and share more, more regularly.

Daily Verse – Psalm 46:10

YouVersion

Be still and know that I am God.

Try it right now.

One minute – sit and be still. No thoughts. Breathing calmly. Close your eyes, but no napping.

If you managed that, well done!

Most people freak out and think of all the things they have to do or should be doing or want to do.

Our society thrives on being busy.

Often times it even tries to fool you by referring to it as being engaged, active, purposeful.

Being in control of your schedule, your day, your work, your free time, is great, but it is always worth while stepping back and checking to see if you are really still in control.

On anxious days, worry and panic easily pervade our thoughts and actions.

God tells us, no matter what our circumstances to be still.

The Hebrew word for ‘still’ is harpū, and this verse is the only place it occurs – how’s that for emphatic?

Cease. Stop what you are doing or thinking.

And know that I am God.

Ūdeū – be sure, acknowledge, take knowledge, investigate, perceive, learn, know.

The word occurs 9 times in the O.T.

Be still and know.

Take time out and be aware that God is with you.

No matter what the circumstances, God is God.

Daily Verse – James 1:2

You Version

Making the word order a little easier to follow in the Greek Interlinear, this verse reads, ‘Esteem it all joy, my brothers, when you might fall into various trials’.

This verse may well be the equivalent of that common saying, laugh in the face of danger.

Neither are reckless or uncaring of what happens next – danger or trials.

But both offer a logic which is counterintuitive.

Mindset is a buzz-word everywhere in recent times, but all the way back in the 1st Century, Jesus’ brother is onto it.

The word James uses for trials is peirasmos, which means ‘temptation’.

It is the experience of temptation rather than an abstract notion.

It is only used three times in the N.T. Once by Jesus, here in James, and once by Peter. It is differently translated as trials or temptations.

When these temptations happen we are to esteem – hégeomai/think or judge (the only occurrence in the N.T.) – it chara/joy or delight.

We should all be aware that life is not without its difficulties.

James exhorts us to have a different mindset at such times. We are to see these kinks in the road, or low points in our self-belief, as opportunities to face up to these temptations in faith and trust in God.

Remember to smile when times are tough.

Daily Verse – 1 Corinthians 13:13

https://my.bible.com/en-GB/bible/97/1CO.13.MSG

I have chosen the Message version today because I absolutely love Peterson’s exhortation to ‘Trust steadily in God’.

The Greek Interlinear tells us that this first of three behaviours for us is ‘faith’.

The word is pistis, which is used 36 times in the N.T. and always of an active faith: e.g., your faith has made, your faith is great.

Pistis is an assurance, a faith, a fidelity, coming from the word peitho – a moral conviction, a credence, a constancy.

So Peterson encourages us ‘trust’ – to have faith – steadily in God.

I am sure we are close to God during the difficult times, and even in the happy times, but what about in those everyday moments? Those moments when life is steadier, perhaps on auto-pilot. How do we express or think of our faith then?

Our faith, our trust, should be steady with the realisation that God walks with us always.

Daily Verse – 1 Peter 4:10

https://my.bible.com/en-GB/bible/113/1PE.4.10.NIVUK

Interestingly in the Greek Interlinear text of this passage, the phrase ‘from his great variety of spiritual gifts’ does not appear. This is clearly an addition by the translators to further inform on the meaning of the passage.

The more straight forward Interlinear ‘(as) each has received a gift’ is much more inclusive than the addition of spiritual gifts.

You can read of specific spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 13, and no doubt your ‘gift’ may be part or inclusive of these.

Yet there is a difference.

Your gift maybe of conversation or hospitality, music or poetry, confidence or encouragement, teaching or listening, art or craft.

God’s Spirit will be abundantly clear in all of these, no doubt, and they are your gifts to use in service of others, reflecting God’s ‘manifold grace’.

The word gift is charisma occurs 8 times in the N.T. and is always translated as gift, ‘free from God’ and only once in Romans 8:1 as ‘spiritual gift’.

You all have at least one gift from God, which brings something positive to others.

What’s yours?

Daily Verse – Colossians 4:6

Colossians 4:6 https://my.bible.com/bible/113/COL.4.6

The Apostle Paul is talking again about proclaiming the mystery of Christ.

He exhorts us to talk about Jesus, the hope of our lives, wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself. As in yesterday’s verse, we are to always be ready to share our faith, even in the face of opposition.

Today, Paul asks us to have grace in our conversations.

The Greek word is charis and it occurs 24 times in the New Testament and is mostly translated as grace and favour, from God and from ourselves as a result of God in our lives.

Strong tells us that charis is from chairo meaning: of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude).

Our conversations are to have God upon our hearts and be a reflection of Him in our lives.

Daily Verse – 1 Peter 3:15

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNUkBuwrD4P/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

The word which jumps out in this verse, when you read the Greek Interlinear version, is that ‘answer’ is written as ‘defence’.

We are to always be ready to give a defence of the hope we have in Christ.

The word for ‘defence’ in Greek is apologian and only occurs in the New Testament 3 times: 2 Corinthians 7:11, Philippians 1:16, and here in 1 Peter 3:15.

According to Strong’s definition, the word means to give an answer for oneself, to be a clearing of self, or a defense.

The religious hierarchy was very anti the 1st Century Church – remember its actions had led to the leader of The Way – Jesus – being crucified. Saul of Tarsus had led the Judaic witch-hunt of the post-Resurrection followers.

As the Word of God spread out into the Gentile communities there were many other debates and challenges to this new faith. The Book of Acts provides sufficient examples of Paul having to defend his faith.

We are still being challenged to ‘defend’ our faith.

Sometimes this is in the face of violence and persecution, but for most of us it is in the form of the unbelief of those around us and a society which is increasingly humanistic in tone.

Peter challenges us to have our ‘defence’ for our faith in the hope of Christ.

What is your apologian?

What is it in your life, day in and day out, which convinces you to be a follower of The Way of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Verse of the Day: Romans 8:1

https://www.bible.com/en-GB/bible/113/ROM.8.1.NIVUK

In this verse the Apostle Paul uses the Greek work katakrima for the word condemnation.

He tells us there is no condemnation – no penalty, no punishment or penal servitude following from a condemning.

There are only two other usages of katakrima besides this one in the New Testament and both occur in Romans 5:16 and 5:18. Both refer to the penalty of Adam’s sin and how, through Christ, the penalty for that sin has been paid for good.

In some ways this is an easy concept to understand but much more difficult to take on board.

It is as if a stranger had just walked up to you and offered you a £1,000,000. You would be looking around to try and work out what was going on. Really? The money must be fake. There must be a catch.

Paul reassures us, there is no ‘penalty’ for those of us who are in Christ Jesus. Those who are part of the body of Christ. Those of us who find out belief and peace in God through His son.

I love the way The Message Version puts this part of the verse:

‘Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. ‘

https://my.bible.com/bible/97/ROM.8.1-2

How many of us feel as if we are still under that continuous, low-lying black cloud?

The Good News is that we are able to move out from under it into newer, clear blue skies.

Easter Day Thoughts

It has been more than a year since I entered a physical church building.

No one could have imagined the events of the last year which has contributed to me making that statement.

I have always believed that the church of God is the people and not the stone and glass, but it did strike me sitting in the pew of St. Oswald’s at 6:30am that I really was just one of many believers who have sat in Easter Day services since it was dedicated in April 1241.

People have found many different ways to connect to what is important to them over the last year.

So it has been with faith.

That we strive for connection with God is the important part.

Whether it is in a church building or online, with others or alone, out in the countryside or on city streets as we walk, God waits for us to start the conversation.