Intentionally Focused

This is the second chapter in my book/study/series.
To view the first chapter, go here.

Intentionally Focused
Focus may be the answer to everything.  Whatever your situation may be, maybe you just need to change your focus.  And you may have to be intentional about your focus.  Sometimes it takes effort.  Life is hard. All you have to do is watch the news or be part of a prayer chain and you know people everywhere are going through all kinds of suffering.  And the reality of the toughness of life can sometimes swell around you until it's too hard to see much else. About 3 years ago, I personally had my world rocked with trouble.  It came with pain and loss, and I could have easily been engulfed by all of that.  During this period, there were times when it was easy to cry out to God and focus on Him.  There were also times when I had to make myself sit down and pray, or open my Bible, not because I felt like doing it, but because I knew I needed it. It’s always a choice.  You have power over where you place your focus.

Sometimes, life is not overwhelming, but you seem to be consumed by the little things of life-- the daily to-dos--and you lose your focus. It shifts to the other things. You don’t have to be in the midst of trouble to lose focus.  Frankly, there are just too many things in our lives that seem to be demanding our attention.  This is especially true when you have a family. 

The words of an old and dear song come to mind: "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." That has certainly been my experience.  When my mind is on Him, my focus is in the right place no matter what I am doing.  The Bible tells us over and over where our focus should be, but I like Psalm 25:15 best.  Here is how the New Living Translation puts it: “My eyes are always on the Lord, for He rescues me from the traps of my enemies.”  Love that!  Now read the same verse in The Message: “If I keep my eyes on God, I won’t trip over my own feet.”  That one just resonates with me.  I don’t know about you, but I trip myself up all the time.  I don’t need others to do it for me.  Maybe you know the right thing to do is focus on God but changing your focus may not seem like an easy thing to do. 

Let’s first talk about killers of focus. 

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:33 is a verse that is well known, in fact many of us memorized it as children.  It brings up the first killer of focus that I want to talk about: worry.  According to the book “The Worry Cure”--38% of people worry every day.  And here’s some even more interesting statistics.  You may have heard them before because pastors and motivational speakers often use these. Dr. Walter Calvert conducted a study and here is what he found: 
  • o   40% of what people worry about never happens.
  • o   30% of what people worry about has already happened and they can't do anything about it.
  • o   12% of what the average person worries about is what others say about them, which most of the time is untrue.
  • o   10% of worry deals with your health and worrying will only make that worse!
  • o   That leaves about eight percent of the things that are considered to be real problems, and worry will not do any good with these either!

Isn’t that crazy!  I’d like to say that I’ve conquered this worrying thing, but I often find myself worried.  I worry about my kids not making friends, about getting in accidents, about the news, about finances…the list goes on and on.  I am constantly reminding myself that God is in control and He has told us not to worry.  And frankly it’s a waste of my time, right? 

When it’s broken down, we can really see why worry is such a silly thing to do.  But God told us that--He knew we would struggle with it and that is why He warns us against it.  I would lump fear in there with worry as well.  And if we focus on our worries and fears, we cannot focus on the things of God because these are NOT from God.  

Personal problems are our second focus killer.  We WILL have trouble in this life, God never said we wouldn’t.  In fact He tells us we will!  (John 16:33).  But you can use your trouble as a “woe is me” or as a reason to come to God.  If you look at the people of the Bible, they all had trouble and had to endure suffering.  Look through Acts and you will see Paul--he was shipwrecked, robbed, jailed, beaten, stoned and even more.  While all this was happening, Paul also had to deal with a “thorn in the flesh”.  We don’t know what exactly he was referring to but we know that Paul asked for this “thorn” to be healed and received a “No” from God (2 Cor.12:7-8).  Or look at Job--he was an expert on suffering.  Job 5:7 tells us that “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.”  Suffering in this life is inevitable.  Trouble will certainly come.  Yet the Bible tells us in Romans 8:35 that no trouble can separate us from the love of Christ.  The Bible even tells us that suffering is good for us and that God can work in us through suffering (Romans 5:3-5, 1 Peter 4:12-14, 1 Peter 5:10).  What you do when you are in the midst of trouble is what matters.  Do you focus on your problems or hand your trouble over to the Lord and focus solely on Him?  As I already mentioned, focusing on God is a way of making our own troubles seem so small.  If you are going through trouble right now, I urge you to open your Bible.  Spend a little time in the Word of God.  Last time I was going through something, the Lord brought me to 2 Corinthians, chapter 1.  I was reading The Message at that time, so I will share how the Message puts some of it.  Some of the scripture that hit me the most was:

“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah!  Father of all mercy!  God of all healing counsel!  He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.  We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of His healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.”

And further down,

“It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it.  We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us.  As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened.  Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since He’s the God who raises the dead!”

It is so important for us to know that it is God who rescues us and it is God who comforts us, but He also USES our pain and our suffering for His glory.  Let’s let Him.

Talk to most Christians today and their excuse for not spending more time with God or why they are not focused on God is because they “have too much to do.”  They are “just too busy.”  Time.  It’s a four-letter word.  Busyness is our third killer of focus.  We live in a “go, go, go” culture.  We measure success with productivity.  And a lot of our busyness isn’t even important stuff.  We all need to take a bit of time and examine our priorities and then see if what we are doing is lining up with those said priorities.  Another thing we seem to be not very good at is keeping things in perspective.

Today we went to Taco Bell for lunch.  We went through the drive-thru.  We ordered three chicken soft tacos with extra cheese.  We like our cheese.  Seriously, is there any food better than cheese?  Yes, I know, I’m getting sidetracked.  Anyway, so we got home and got the food out.  There was NO cheese, on any of them.  I was so mad!  We had even paid extra for the extra cheese and there was none!  I started to grumble and my heart started to beat faster, and I got us back in the car to drive back and make them fix it.  On the way back I felt the gentle voice of God saying “weren’t we just talking about perspective?”  Ouch.  It may sound silly, but we do it all the time.  We get really worked up over little meaningless things. 

Another focus killer would be literally having too much to do.  I’m not just talking about being busy, but being over-committed.  That one is an obvious one.  If we don’t have enough time to sit down and spend time with God, then we are doing too much or managing our time poorly.  I fail in this category…a lot.  I often think I’ve taken on too much to do when I look at my long to-do lists, but in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t feel that way if I managed my time better, and perhaps watched less television.  Yep, I said it.  Our culture spends a lot of time in front of the television, myself included.  I tell myself that it is relaxing, and a time of de-stressing.  But I don’t ever want to calculate how much time I have spent watching television, which is essentially wasting time (come on…be honest).  Do you know more about a television character than you do about God?  We have favorite shows that we will never miss because we are just dying to know what happens next.  We spend so much time with these fake people and neglect to spend time with our real God.  It’s a waste of time.  We will focus more on time later.

The fourth focus killer is earthly passions.  This can include hobbies, sports, classes, lifestyles, dreams and goals, and much more.  What are you passionate about?  Don’t get me wrong, passions can be good.  But when the actual passion becomes number one in our life, there’s a problem.  Or if we are not honoring God through our passions, perhaps we should examine and dwell on whether that passion is from God.  We are told over and over to keep our eyes on heavenly things rather than earthly things.  Psalm 119:37 tells us “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your word.”  Colossians 3:2 tells us “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”  And Matthew 6:19-21 tells us “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Getting the picture?  The Bible tells us over and over not to dwell on earthly things.  They can be a road-block.  But we don’t have to get rid of all of our passions, we just need to figure out if we can use them for God.  For example, I love to scrapbook.  People may say it’s just paper and glue.  Some think it is a waste of time.  But as with my art, I can worship God through my scrapbooking.  I can also pass on my faith and witness through my pages.  No, not all of my pages have to do with my faith.  Most of them are about my kids or events.  But it’s something I love to do, and I believe it is a passion that God gave me.  He made me creative, and I like to think that He likes watching me be creative.  Certain passions, you will know right away are not from God, and you need to get rid of them.  And you probably don’t need to be told that.  We know when we are doing something that God doesn’t want us to. 

The last focus killer I want to discuss is anger, or feelings.  It’s just another topic of focus and perspective.  We often hold on to our feelings…how a person or event made us feel.  We often act like we think our personal feelings are what are most important.  One night I was extremely upset with my husband and how he was making me feel (unloved, unwanted, used).  And he probably didn’t have a clue that I felt this way.  I was in the car thinking about how I felt.  The song “Lead Me” by Sanctus Real was on the radio…

I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside
In picture frames, I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling, but on the inside
I can hear her saying

Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone

And I was just nodding and agreeing with it…yes, yes…that’s how I feel.
Then the focus of the song changed, asking the Lord to lead me…

So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be
Oh Father, show me the way
To lead them

Won't You lead me?
To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can't
Don't want to leave them hungry for love
Chasing things that I could give up
I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me 'cause I can't do this alone

I suddenly realized that, once again, I needed to change my focus.  My thoughts were all on me.  I feel this, I feel that.  And God spoke to my heart and said “Sweetie, you know you are loved.  You know you are wanted.  Let me fill those needs.”  Nothing against my husband, but we sometimes forget that God wants to fill those needs for us.  And you know what?  After I had changed my focus, another song came on.  I don’t even remember what song it was, but it had a lot of “hallelujahs”.  And I started singing out to my God.  And I hate to say the “F” word but suddenly I felt better.

Feelings are not bad.  God created us as emotional beings.  But if we focus on our feelings we are not focusing on the bigger picture.  And feelings often cloud our judgment and perception.  Sometimes we just need to make a point to focus on God instead of self.  That said—we can use our feelings in a healthy way, they can be what leads us to God. 

We are called to live a life intentionally focused on God.  So how do we change our focus?
o   Dwell on what He has done for you.
o   Acknowledge His authority.
o   Spend TIME with God!
o   Ask God to change it for you.
o   Limit distractions.

People often talk about “losing yourself” in worship, and that’s simply because you are no longer focused on you, your life, or your struggles.  You have successfully changed your focus…to simply God.

Focus on God!  Dwell on Him!  What kind of emotion does it evoke?  Use it to create.

Now is when it gets personal, because art IS personal.  This first one I am sharing in this chapter is very personal to me, and you know what…my husband doesn’t like it.  He thinks it looks too romantic to be about God.  You may even agree, and that’s okay.  When I look at it, I am reminded of how it feels to be loved, to be held, and to be comforted by my Father in Heaven.

    All Who Are Weary canvas 

Supplies:  Canvas, Paint, Floss, Gesso, Cardstock, Flowers (Prima Marketing Inc.) 

How I created my piece: I covered my canvas with gesso so I could add texture to it.  Then I added my paint and background design.  The black cardstock piece is my own design and I just adhered it on top of the paint.  Then I added my words, stitching and flowers.  

This next one makes me feel calm, relaxed and a bit peaceful.  But it also reminds me of a very specific time.  When I was in college we often hung out at a friend’s house.  He lived in an apartment…you know the kind, with the pool and the playground in the middle of the apartments.  There was one particular evening when I was just feeling down.  I wandered off by myself and sat on the swing.  It was dark and nobody was around.  There on the swing I called out to God.  I can still remember exactly what it felt like to feel His presence that night.  So while this picture may just seem like a pretty, quiet scene, it evokes a certain emotion from me that it wouldn’t from other people.

Love canvas

Supplies:  Canvas, Paint, Cardstock, Ink, Glue, Stamps (Creating Keepsakes), Patterned Paper (BasicGrey), Floss.

How I created my piece:  I first painted my green and blue.  Then I took ink and sprayed a bit of a design on top of the colors.  I took foam stamps and dipped them in ink to create my “love” and the numbers.  I punched circles and added a row of circles.  Then created my tree and swing.  For the texture on my tree, I allowed glue to dry before painting it.

If you are doing this study as a group, share your work with one another and talk a little bit about it.  

If you want to share your work online with me and anyone who reads this, go ahead and link your work up here:

Group Discussion Questions

Chapter 2:

1.     How do you change your focus?

2.     Is it easy to know when you need to change your focus?

3.     What kinds of things keep us distracted?
4.     Is worrying a waste of time?  Why do we do it?
5.     How do we keep from being so busy?  Is it ok to say no to things?
6.     How do we know we are too busy?
7.     What are you passionate about?  What hobbies, clubs, or goals are big parts of your life?
8.     Are these passions bad?  When do they become unhealthy? 
9.     How can our feelings keep us from being focused on God?
10.  What benefits do we reap by keeping our focus on God?

** All scripture comes from the New International Version unless stated otherwise.  


Worshipping With All Your He{art}: Chapter 1

This is something I worked on awhile back.  I intended it for a Bible study type book, able to be done with a group or by yourself.  I will post it in several different chapters.  Each will be long on here.  I'd love to hear what you think about it, and I'd love to see how you use this information.  Feel free to start your own group using this information, and please share with me what projects you make!  :)

Here ya go...

with all your he{art}
 By Pamela Young


Chapter 1: A Lifestyle of Worship
Chapter 2:  Intentionally Focused
Chapter 3: At His Feet
Chapter 4: The Act of Prayer
Chapter 5: The Heart of Worship
Chapter 6:  Sharing Your He{art}   

The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.  (Oxford Dictionary)

The feeling or expression [act] of reverence and adoration for a deity. (Oxford Dictionary)

Chapter 1:  A Lifestyle of Worship

We serve a creative God.  All you need to do is take a look around you to see the wonders of His creation.  He is an artist. When we stop and think about who God is and who we are, what He has done and what we have done, how can we not fall to our knees and worship our God? I think many of us are a bit confused about what it means to worship. We tend to think it is a set of songs that we sing at the beginning of our church service. Ahh...but worship is so much more than that. A very wise person once told me "worship is more the state of the heart than the state of our art." Worship isn't just music. Worship can be anything and everything. We, as Christians, are to cultivate a lifestyle of worship! 1 Corinthians 10:31 clearly tells us that WHATEVER we do, we should do it for the glory of God!  Even painting, scrapbooking, card making, writing or drawing can be done in worship! Our hobbies, our art, can be done as worship to God. Do you believe that? Isn't it He that gave us our gift of creativity? Don't you think it gives Him pleasure to see us use it?

Let’s explore what worship really is a bit more.

Worship is an expression of our love to God.  It is a response to His love.  So what has He done for us?  God sent His son to die on the cross for our sins!  He offers us salvation through His son Jesus Christ!  He delivered us from the power of sin as well as the penalty of sin—two very distinct and amazing things!  If you have been a Christian for a long time, you may just read that quickly and not put much thought into it…after all, we’ve heard it a million times.  So take a small break and actually ponder on this.  Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.

But God has done so much more than even that.  He extends forgiveness, love, and grace to each of us.  I can’t count the number of times I have messed up--I mean royally messed up.  But He gives us forgiveness and WIPES THE SLATE CLEAN!  He makes us a blank canvas.

And He even offers us more.  He offers us a relationship!  We are able to sit at His feet.  We are allowed to KNOW Him. Really that is an amazing thought, and something we often take for granted.  We have so much to be thankful for.  He has done so much for us!  The natural progression is for us to respond to His love with our own love.  We call that worship.

Worship is a personal experience.  Whether you are alone in your room, in the middle of a church service, or even in an office, it is still a personal experience between you and God.  And, if you are worshipping with a pure heart and your focus is on Him, then it becomes a very intimate experience.  I can remember the many times where I felt the presence of God so much that it literally brought tears to my eyes.  After experiencing that, I just wanted more of Him.  But you don’t have to be sitting quietly in your room or in church to worship.  You can worship through daily activities.  You can worship by doing the very best at your work, not because someone else is watching, but because you are doing it for God and you know He is watching.  You can worship through prayer.  You can worship through obedience.  You can even worship through forgiveness.  People in general seem to have trouble with forgiveness, even Christians.  But forgiving others can be done as an act of worship to our God.  Those actions may not seem like worship to you, but anything you do FOR God is an act of worship.  And by worshipping God we are saying “He is worthy”.  Isn’t He?

We all worship something or someone.  You can’t get away from it.  The first object of worship that pops into most people’s minds is money.  There are many people that worship money.  They live for it!  They work for it!  They’ll do anything for money.  It simply holds a special place in their heart.  But you cannot serve both God and money (Matt. 6:24). 

Other people are another common object of worship.  They can be celebrities or common people.  Oprah reigned as an icon and idol throughout the first decade of the 21st century.  She is a good example of people worshipping an individual.  A lot of people lived for Oprah.  They made sure to see all her television shows.  They would sit and wait for her to say the next awesome thing that was just totally going to change their life.  If Oprah said something was good, then people would run out and buy it.   I’m not saying anything bad about Oprah personally, but they were clearly worshipping her.  For some, this is still true today.

Another example could be the Tim Tebow phenomenon.  I live in Colorado, and in 2011 we had a wonderful man on our football team.  You may have heard of him—Tim Tebow?  He no longer plays for the Broncos, but I found his year with us amusing.  Tim is a Christian celebrity and lives his life in a way that I admire.  He gives all glory to God.  He is an awesome man.  But what I witnessed were people, Christians, making Tim Tebow an object of worship instead of worshipping the One Tim worshipped along with him. 

Wouldn’t you rather sit at the feet of Jesus and wait for Him to say something that changes your life?  Don’t you want to read about what God thinks is good?  These people we worship can be GOOD people.  Perhaps it’s a teacher or role model.  Dare I even say it, but maybe it’s your pastor?  And listen up, it can even be a spouse or someone you are dating!  I see many women out there looking for fulfillment and purpose through a man.  They unknowingly assign the role of God to their husband or boyfriend instead of allowing God to be that one that they long for, the one they run to, and the one they worship.  Jonah 2:8 tells us “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”  Wow, what a scary thought!  I don’t know about you, but I NEED God’s grace.  I LOVE God’s grace.  I can’t live without God’s grace.  Have you been worshipping something or someone else?  Now is the time to change that. 

Worship pleases God!  And it pleases God when we use the gifts and the creative mind that He has given us.  Romans 12:1 tells us “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”  We offer everything we do to God.  That is worship, and that pleases Him.  I love the Message’s version of Ephesians 5:10, it reads “Figure out what pleases Christ, and then do it.”  It’s not talking about one thing.  It is referring to one thing after another after another…a lifestyle that pleases God.  1 Thessalonians 4:1 tells us, “Finally brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living.  Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.”  It really is a lifestyle of worship that pleases the Lord.  A lifestyle of worship includes your daily lives, your likes and dislikes, your hobbies and your passions.  The Lord has given us specific skills and passions.  We see that over and over in the Bible, such as Romans 12:6-8, James 1:17, 1 Peter 4:10-11 and Matthew 25:14-30.  My favorite would be Exodus 35: 30-35:

Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship.  And He has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others.  He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsman, designers, embroiders in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsman and designers.

Did you catch that?  He’s talking about how God gave people artistic skills.  This particular passage is talking about the building of the tabernacle, but it clearly states that God gave artistic skills to certain people so that they can use those skills for His glory.  And I’d just like to mention that even Jesus had a hobby, an art—he was a carpenter, a craftsman!  Yes, he did this for his job, but I’d like to think that he was serving God by doing it.

You actually can find purpose in worshipping God.  You can be fulfilled in a way nothing on earth can do.  Peter actually tells us that our very purpose is to praise God.  1 Peter 2:9 reads “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”  When I spend time with God…when I worship God, it creates a longing in my soul for more of Him.  I feel fulfilled simply because of my time with God.  This IS my purpose.   

So here’s the next question…how do you actually worship God with your hobbies or your art?  I asked multiple people that question and I would get answers like “pray while you are creating” or “sing praise songs while working.”  Those are absolutely fabulous things to do, and yes they are forms of worship, but I don’t want you to feel like in order to be worshipping God while creating that you have to be singing the whole time or praying the whole time.  Although, I went to a Women of Faith conference recently and one of the speakers talked about a cleaning lady that was singing songs to God the entire time she worked.  I don’t know about you, but I really like that picture, I can envision her in my mind and it brings a smile to my face.  If that is you, it is awesome.  But I think it’s really very simple.  If God has given us a talent, and we are using it, then we are honoring Him, we are worshipping Him just by using it. 

There ARE things we can do to make it even more of an obvious worship experience. Our minds run constantly.  Sometimes I wish I had an off button for my thoughts, but God didn’t create us with an off button.  You can train yourself to think of God and the things He has done for you while working.  You can think back to the sermon at your church last weekend and dwell on the things you heard and the things you learned.  You can put on headphones and listen to Christian music.  You of course can pray and sing like the cleaning lady. You can listen to the Lord, and respond to what He is working on in you.  I think if your thoughts are dwelling on God, then whatever your hands are working on will reflect a worshipping heart.  When singers spend time with God, love songs to the Lord come out of them.  It’s the same with our art.  I like to use Bible verses on my art or as inspirations for my art, but you don’t even have to do that.  If you examine nature (God’s art) you see all sorts of colors, textures and designs.  One can assume that He enjoys these things.  God can take pleasure in your colors, textures, and designs. 

This concept of worshipping through your art is not a new one.  There are many examples throughout history.  A recent example would be Danny Hahlbohm.  You may not recognize the name right away.  He is a Christian painter.  He started as an artist, until he felt God was telling him to use his gifts for God’s glory, so he started doing Christian paintings.  One particular painting really made him well known.  That painting was his “Footprints in the Sand” painting.  Today he is an established Christian artist living his life for God.  He writes of conversing with God while painting and being inspired by God’s designs all around him.  He calls his website “Inspired Art”, not because his work is inspiring but because it is inspired by God.  I would call him a true worshipper with a lifestyle to prove it. 

I have a broad definition of art and a broad definition for worship.  When we humans try to limit what fits into those categories we actually limit what God can do in our life.  He’s given us experiences that we are to use for His glory.  He’s given us talents that we are supposed to use for His glory.  Your art can be an offering to God.  Why?  Because He has done so much for us!  I love the words of the song “For All You’ve Done” sung by Point of Grace.  I want to share the words here.  If you know the song, feel free to sing out.  For we know that worship doesn’t solely mean singing, but singing can most certainly be a part of worship.  If you don’t like to sing or are not in a place where you feel you can break out in song, just take a moment to read the words of this wonderful song:

For All You’ve Done

Oh cleanser of the mess I’ve made,
Upon the hill our places trade.
Stretched on a cross your body crushed,
By human hands You formed from dust. 

How wonderful Your mercy is
How awesome are Your ways
I come, I come
To worship You
For all You've done

Oh cleanser of the mess I've made
Your boundless love for me portrayed
With patience for my learning curve
By holding back what I deserve

How wonderful Your mercy is
How awesome are Your ways
I come, I come
To worship You
For all You've done

Oh cleanser of the mess I've made
With everything at Your feet laid
I watch as all my cares erode
And from my soul these words explode

How wonderful Your mercy is
How awesome are Your ways
I come, I come
To worship You
For all You've done

Oh I worship You for all You’ve done!

Holy, holy, holy
(You’re my healer, my cleanser, my father, oh my savior!)
Holy, Holy, Holy
(We worship You, You’re wonderful, Oh You’re wonderful)
Holy, holy, holy
(We worship You, we worship You)

This first challenge is a simple one.  Pull out your Bible and find a verse or passage that you love or let God inspire you through a new verse.  Use the Bible as inspiration to create a piece of art.  You can use the verse on your art piece or just use it as inspiration for your art.  You will quickly learn that I believe there are many different types of art.  I consider scrapbooking and paper crafts, and even quilting “art”.  So don’t let the word “art” intimidate you.  And remember, perfection is overrated…especially in art.  In fact, it is often in the imperfections that the beauty shines through. 

Here are examples of pieces I created:

   Psalm 62:7 Canvas 

Supplies: Canvas, Paint, Patterned Papers (Prima Marketing), Chipboard Letters (American Crafts, Prima Marketing), Letter Stickers (Scenic Route), Lace (Offray), Gems (Prima Marketing), Chipboard (Maya Road), Flowers (Prima Marketing). 

How I created my piece: I first covered my canvas with a few different shades of pinks and a cream paint.  I added some branches and a butterfly design in paint.  Using chipboard letters and stickers, I wrote out my verse (Psalm 62:7).  Then I added some papers, gems, lace, flowers and chipboard to my canvas.

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     Psalm 121 Canvas 

Supplies: Canvas, Paint, Papers (Crate Paper, My Mind’s Eye), Floss, Lace (Rusty Pickle), Gem (Prima Marketing). 

How I created my piece: I first added some blue paint to top portion of my canvas, and some green to the bottom portion.  I then added blue circles on top of the blue and green stripes on top of the green.  Then I built my house out of papers and lace.  I added clouds in the sky and hand-made flowers on the grass.  Then I printed my verses (Psalm 121) and cut apart each word.  I added my verses in a way that they were part of my design, starting at the house and working their way around the whole canvas.  

Fruit Of The Spirit Canvas

Supplies: Canvas, Paint, Ink, Papers (Fancy Pants Designs).

How I created my piece: I created a background of boxes with various colors of paint.   I added textures, additional colors and outlines to the boxes.  Then I hand cut leaves from patterned paper and arranged them into flowers flowing across the canvas.  Then I painted the words as stems.  The words are the fruit of the Spirit that you can find in Galatians 5:23-23.  

If you are doing this study as a group, share your work with one another and talk a little bit about it.  

If you want to share your work online with me and anyone who reads this, go ahead and link your work up here:

Group Discussion Questions

Chapter 1:
1.     What is worship?  What are some ways you can worship God?
2.     What are some things people can worship other than God?
3.     Have you ever thought of God as an artist?  What do you think about that?
4.     How do you worship God through your art or craft? 
5.     Do you think it gives God pleasure to see us using our gifts?  Do hobbies and art fall into the “gifts” category?
6.     Why should we worship God?  Were we created to worship? 
7.     What has God done for you? 
8.     What does it mean to “lose yourself” in worship?

** All scripture comes from the New International Version unless stated otherwise.