a copy of a copy

thought mashups from garret shelsta

Combining thoughts copied from other places

Pastor of College and Young Adults at Christ the King

One of the ekklesia facilitators 

Bellingham, Wa

Day 30: I'll be Racing up the Stairs

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need:

(Here is the week 1, week 2,  week 3 and week 4 sheets if you want them)

Day 30.png

Theme:  Healing the Wounds of the Broken Hearted

Passage for March 30th 2017: Matthew 11:25-30

Bars from “Finish Line”

Last year got addicted to xans
Started forgetting my name and started missing my chance
I felt hog tied ever since my dog died
He lived to 84, damn, that's a long ride
I know he up there he just sit and he wait
I'll be racing up the stairs I'mma get to the gate singing 

A Thought:

Most summers before the busy time at work, I try to go backpacking. The trip gives me some time to think and pray before my year starts. And it is one of my favorite things I do every year. There are always moments on long stretches of switch backs that I question myself. “This is too hard,” I say in my head. “You are getting to old… Turn back now.” But when I get to my destination, whether it is a lake or a mountain pass, and take off my 80 lbs backpack, I experience a glorious moment. There is an incredible view and my body is so light it could float away. Moments after I down 2 liters of water, I crack open a beer I hiked in for when I arrive at my destination. This mundane mixture of hops, water and barley, by virtue of my shear exhaustion, is transformed in to transcendent liquid expression of how much God loves me. Like I said … I love this trip. 

We all carry weights. They could be emotional or physical scars from when we were younger. Insecurities about our personality, body image, or ability to relate with others. The weights I carry are my defense mechanisms. I am going to make a joke about my race before you can ask me “Where are you from?” Or I am never let my self relaxed into a friendship because I am waiting for the moment where they are going to reject me. If we stacked up all of the burdens the people of the world carry, I don’t think it would be the final weight that would surprise us. I think it would be the diversity of the things that drag on each and everyone of us. 

No matter what our burdens are and no matter how heavy, Jesus is asking us to take off our load and replace it with His. Like most elements in the Christian life, this is a process, and it doesn’t happen instantaneously. However, in the incremental moments we allow Jesus to take our loads and replace them with his become the moments we are freed, as Chance says, to “start racing up the stairs.” Our a hearts, no longer burdened with heaviness, are opened to be transformed to live with a deep sense of thanksgiving. 

Here is the question I am contemplating today: What heavy load can I take off and to take up the Jesus centered life?  What does it mean for his load to be light? 

Mediation: Psalm 107:17-22

Read the mediation passage today a few times through. As you read is there a passage or a word the sticks out to you. Meditate on that phrase allowing the Lord to speak to you as you color. What is he saying?

Day 29: I Used to Hide From God

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need:

(Here is the week 1, week 2,  week 3 and week 4 sheets if you want them)

Theme:  Healing the Wounds of the Broken Hearted

Passage for March 29th 2017: Luke 15:11-24

Bars from “How Great”

I used to hide from God
Ducked down in the slums like “shhh"

A Thought:

I grew up in Colorado but I went to college in Southern California. The end of every school year was always a gauntlet. Not only did I have finals to take, but every year I had to move my belonging out of my apartment and into a storage facility for the few months I was home. Between pulling a series of all nighters to get ready for finals, taking them, bidding good well to friends and moving out my apartment, my mental and physical capacities were drained. I then had to get into my car and make the 15 hour drive from Los Angels back to Denver. Looking back at how exhausted I was that was probably not the best decision. However, the experience of falling into my house where my family was waiting to embrace me, where there was a hot meal not prepared in a cafeteria, and old friends waiting to catch up is, to this day, one of the most memorable feelings I have yet to replicate. This experience of belonging, being known, acceptance and “home”  was all enhanced by the exhaustion. I could rest. 

I imagine this was just a portion of the emotions the younger son was feeling. Even after he essentially told His father that he wished he was dead and then squandered all of the money he was given, his Father still welcomed him home in the most extravagant fashion. His father brings him under his protection again, gives him his status in the family, and throws him a party where the food is good, the music is loud and the wine is flowing. 

Our heavenly Father will do this for each and every one of us. He wants to bring us into family, give us his protection and throw us an awesome welcome home party. He does this out of his extravagant love for us. As we return, this same love gives us rest, hope and a new future. It does not erase our pasts but it gives us the resources to confront and heal from them. It allows us to be at home and rest, where there is no need for hiding.  

Here are the questions I am thinking about: Do I believe that God will always welcome me home? How does this change how I approach him?

Mediation: Psalm 30:2-3

Read the mediation passage today a few times through. As you read is there a passage or a word the sticks out to you. Meditate on that phrase allowing the Lord to speak to you as you color. What is he saying?

 

Day 28: I Spent My Night Time Fighting Tears Back

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need:

(Here is the week 1, week 2,  week 3 and week 4 sheets if you want them)

Day 28.png

Theme: Healing the Wounds of the Broken Hearted

Passage for March 28th 2017: Luke 15:1-7

Bars from “How Great”

I was lost in the jungle like Simba after the death of Mufasa
No hog, no meerkat, hakuna matata by day
But I spent my night time fighting tears back

A Thought:

Even before taking up this project, it would be an understatement to say I was listening and reading about Chance the Rapper a lot. All of it has become familiar and mundane. Yesterday as I was writing this post, and my son pointed at the lyrics. So, I decided to put on the music video for “How Great.” Because the internet is at times a time pit, this obviously led to watching a few more videos. We finally landed on watching Chance’s Grammy performance. As I watched it again, and my son was dancing, it was like hearing all of his music again for the first time. And I remembered why started this whole project in the fist place. When beautiful and meaningful things become familiar to us the reasons we love them becomes obscured.

There have been thousands of words written on every verse of Luke 15. But there are reasons that these, like the best music, get played out. What is found in this chapter is so wonderful and revolutionary our familiarity robs us of how incredible it is. Jesus is a friend to sinners. These are the people the spiritually elite have placed outside the moral boundaries they have created. Jesus does not run away from any part of our life that does not fit into the religious status quo. The deepest and dark secrets each and every one of us hide from the world, God is loving enough to look at all of those at once and say, “I am not going anywhere.” Well before we have cleaned up our life Jesus calls us His friend. 

In addition, today’s scripture reminds us that the God revealed in Jesus searches for us. When we are lost and scared, having wandered either intentionally or unintentionally, God is looking for us. Our God does not sit in the heavenly places unaffected by our wanderings. Jesus is active, living and looking for to bring all of us into his loving embrace. 

Here are the thoughts I am contemplating today: How have I wandered away from God? How is the hurt or harmed me?

Mediation: Psalm: 147:1-3

Read the mediation passage today a few times through. As you read is there a passage or a word the sticks out to you. Meditate on that phrase allowing the Lord to speak to you as you color. What is he saying?

Day 27: The Difference in Blessings and Worldly Possessions.

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need:

(Here is the week 1, week 2,  week 3 and week 4 sheets if you want them)

Theme:  Healing the Wounds of the Broken Hearted

Passage for March 27th 2017: Matthew 5:1-11

Bars from “Blessings

When the praises go up, the blessings come down… 
I know them drugs isn't close, ain't no visitin' Heaven
I know the difference in blessings and worldly possessions
Like my ex girl getting pregnant
And her becoming my everythin

A Thought:

I think one of the most compelling ways I have heard the good news of Jesus communicated is from Dallas Willard. He wrote a wonderful book called the “Divine Conspiracy” where he spends his significant mental capacities looking at “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7). What he finds in Jesus’ sermon he describes as the best life possible. As I wrote today “thought” two or three times in my mind, I found myself simply trying to say what he did significantly better than I could. So, I am not going to pretend to make something up when someone has already said it wonderfully. It is a little bit longer than what we have looked at so far but I promise that it is worth it. And it pairs with what Chance is saying in one of my favorite bars from the entire record. 

When reflecting on Matthew 5:1-11, commonly called the “Beatitudes.” Willard says this:

“[The Beatitudes] serve to clarify Jesus’ fundamental message: the free availability of God’s rule and righteousness to all of humanity through reliance upon Jesus himself, the person now loose in the world among us. They do this simply by taking those who, from the human point of view, are regarded as most hopeless, most beyond all possibility of God’s blessing or even interest, and exhibiting them as enjoying God’s touch and abundant provision from the heavens. The religious system of his day left the multitudes out, but Jesus welcomed them all into his kingdom. … Anyone could come as well as any other. They still can. That is the [good news] the Gospel of the Beatitudes.”

When taken to their logical extreme, this is incredibly inclusive message has implications that make uncomfortable. Willard continues: 

“So we must see from our heart that: Blessed are the physically repulsive, Blessed are those who smell bad, the twisted, misshapen, deformed, the too big, too little, too loud, the bald, the fat, and the old—Blessed are The flunk-outs and drop-outs and burned-outs. The broke and the broken. Blessed are the drug heads and the divorced. The HIV-positive and herpes-ridden. Blessed the brain-damaged, the incurably ill. Blessed are the barren and the pregnant too-many-times or at the wrong time.  Blessed. The over employed, the underemployed, the unemployed. The unemployable. Blessed are the swindled, the shoved aside, the replaced. Blessed are the parents with children living or the street, the children with parents not dying in the “rest” home. The lonely, the incompetent, the stupid. Blessed. The emotionally starved or emotionally dead… Blessed. Even the moral disasters will be received by God as they come to rely on Jesus, count on him, and make him their companion in his kingdom. So… Blessed are the murderers and child-molesters. Blessed the brutal and the bigoted. Blessed are the drug lords and pornographers. War criminals and sadists. Blessed are Terrorists. The perverted and the filthy and the filthy rich. To the worshiper of satan… to the robber of the elderly… to the cheat … to the liar the blood sucker … the vengeful …. blessed blessed blessed are all of those who fleet into the arms… of the kingdom who is among us who is Jesus.”

We the broken hearted and the wounded, The should be’s, and the should have beens… God is healing our wounds. We too can be called Blessed. 

Here are the thoughts that I am thinking about today: Who are the people that I have put on the out side of God’s grace? How have I put myself on the out side of his grace? 

Mediation: Psalm 121:1-2

This is the first day in this weeks theme. Read the meditation passage through slowly 3 or 4 times and focus on the one phrase that is sticking out to you. Say that phrase over slowly over and over again as you color today. As you do this, ask the Lord to reveal to you all the ways he has and is rescuing you. Listen to what He is saying. 

Week 5 Coloring Sheet by Owen Richard

Here is this weeks coloring sheet designed by my favorite/only design intern Owen Richard. He is finishing up his last year doing is B.F.A in graphic design at Western Washington University. As you can see he is incredibly talented, so you may want to jump on hiring him as soon as possible. Give him a follow to keep on his sketches and adventures.  I can't wait to see how you all color this sheet during this week.

Print it out and See you tomorrow! 

Day 26: Rest

Take a break today.

Read a magazine outside. Set up a hammock and take a nap in it. Go get a meal with some friends and talk about the things you are learning. Finish your coloring pages, write down some thoughts and then share them on Social with the #mycoloringbookforhisgreatness. While you are at it browse the #mycoloringbookforhisgreatness on twitter or instagram.

Or just watch chance performing in the White House: 

See you tomorrow.  

Day 25: Tumbling and Crumbling

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need:

(Here is the week 1, week 2 and week 3 sheets if you want them)

Theme:  Break the Bond of Injustice

Passage for March 25th 2017: Rev 21:1-8

Bars from “How Great”


Old Jerusalem, New Jerusalem
Comes like this beast with a ball of fire
They poisoned the scriptures and gave us the pictures of false messiahs
It was all a lie
Mystery babylon, tumbling down
Satan's establishment crumbling down

A Thought:

We started in a garden, where we walked in the cool of the shade with our God. We were known completely, and we knew each other fully without any shame or guilt. We had a mission. We were to make God’s good world better. But we decided that we knew how to direct God’s world better than our creator. It was this moment that the dimension of God and His good world were driven apart. The story of the scriptures is the story of how God is brining those two spaces back into together. Jesus’ entrance into the created order was the moment where God’s great rescue mission went into full gear. 

In Jesus’ life there were moments where this happened. Moments where blind people were no longer blind. Moments where sick people were made well. Moments where the hungry had food. Moments outsiders were given a place at the table. Moments where the dead were raised to life. These moments we often call moments of social justice but Jesus simply called them the Kingdom of God.  

When justice happens this is the Kingdom’s in breaking. Through the movement of God’s spirit, we get to play a part. We are invited to co-work with God to create moments where God’s rule and reign breaks in and rearranges our broken world into the reality God has always desired. At one point in the future this will happen completely but for now that moment is delayed. As we live in the in-between, we persevere with hope, listening to God’s spirit to show us places where God’s Kingdom can be our reality. 

N.T. Wright communicates this idea wonderfully: 

“Heaven, in the Bible, is not a future destiny but the other, hidden, dimension of our ordinary life—God’s dimension, if you like. God made heaven and earth; at the last he will remake both and join them together forever.”

These are the thoughts I am contemplating today: What does it mean for heaven and earth to collide? Where are spaces in my community that I am seeing that happen? 

Mediation: 1 Corinthians 15:52-57

This is the last day of this weeks theme. As you read todays passage, see if there is a particular image that sticks out to you. Focus on that image, and while you color today ask the Lord what He wants you to remember for the week. When you all are finished write that thought down. Feel free to share it on social with #mycoloringbookforhisgreatness so we can follow along.

Day 24: A Foot on Water and a Foot on Land.

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need:

(Here is the week 1, week 2 and week 3 sheets if you want them)

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Theme:  Break the Bond of Injustice

Passage for March 24th 2017: Rev 10:1-11

Bars from “How Great”

From a lofty height we wage war
On the poltergeist with the exalted Christ
Spark the dark with the pulse of light
Strike a corpse with a pulse of life…
O' son of man, O' son of man
Who was the angel in Revelations with a foot on water and a foot on land?

A Thought:

For the longest time the book of Revelation intimidated me. I know I am not the only one. The imagery of the poetry is unfamiliar and brash enough to unsettle me. The future rife with conflict and destruction brought about by powers and rulers is disconcerting. However, even though there is violence and death being distributed wantonly against followers of Jesus, in the end God breaks through. This future is foreign to my present reality. My life of ease. My life of coffee shops, meetings, and outings with my family. This, of course, is not the case for everyone. 

For a good chunk of people both, presently and historically, the images of Revelation are not a dark distant possibility but an every day reality. I read about them when I open up my web browser on my computer to read the news. I am bombarded with stories that read like a less fantastical description of what happens at the end of our scriptures. For the communities of Jesus followers living through these events the book of Revelation functions differently. They read it as a source of hope. No matter how dark it all gets, as they remain faithful, the promise of revelation is that God is working it out. They may not be able to see it, but the scriptures promise them it is happening.

The hope expressed in Revelation is the hope that sustains God’s faithful Kingdom movement in the world. As the Kingdom confronts the powers of the world there will be conflict and hurt. But there will also be brilliant moments. Moments where God’s presence comes and gives us what we need to continue. Moments that will leave asking “Who was that angel with a foot on water and a foot on land?” And in the end there will be a moment where God will work it out on our behalf.

Here are the thoughts I am contemplating today: Do I trust that the Lord is going to work all things out toward the most just and beautiful end? In what ways are the kingdoms of the world in conflict the Kingdom of God. 


Mediation: Psalm 146:8-9

As you read the passage today, focus on listening to the Lord. Is there a specific section or word that sticks out to you.  As you color today ask the Lord how that word or phrase is helping you sustain a lasting hope. 

Day 23: Speaking Truth to Power

 [If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need:

(Here is the week 1, week 2 and week 3 sheets if you want them)

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Theme:  Break the Bond of Injustice

Passage for March 22nd 2017: Isaiah 61:1-11; Luke 4:17-18

Bars from “Blessings”

Hear, for I will speak noble things as entrusted me
Only righteous, I might just shrug at the skullduggery

A Thought:

Speech has a creative power. Words shape realities. In the scriptures speech is meaningful. It is was with a speech that God ordered the world out of chaos. In John 1, we discover that the spoken word though whom all things were made has a been revealed in Jesus. When Jesus speaks people are healed and the dead are raised. How He used words was intentional, so it is interesting that when Jesus was launching his ministry in Luke 4 he choose to quote this passage from Isaiah.

Jesus is announcing what he wants to accomplish. The mission entrusted to him by his heavenly Father includes releasing the captives, freeing prisoners, and good news for the poor. There is a broken world of chaos and disorder. In Jesus, this is coming to an end. All of that starts with a speech. It starts with him announcing he is going to rearrange reality. 

We are entrusted with continuing Jesus’ noble task. We must begin to speak in ways that help reshape the realities harming the ones Jesus cared about. If the Christian life includes being concerned with the people Jesus was concerned about, we must look to the marginalized, poor and oppressed. We have been entrusted with following Jesus into the places he leads, and, according to Isaiah 61 and Luke 4, it has always been God’s heart to lead us to outsiders and the set asides. We have made a habit of ignoring this call. I pray we hear what Jesus is saying in a way we can no longer can tune out.

Here are the thoughts I am pondering today: How can I use my voice to speak the truth to those who are harming who Jesus cares about? When I speak do the words I use shape realities that line up with the life of Jesus? 

Mediation: Proverbs 8:6

As you read the passage today, focus on it, and as you color today ask the Lord how you can use your voice. Allow the Lord to speak and convict you, rearranging your reality. Let Him encourage you to see the passions he has entrusted you with.

Day 22: A force to be reconciled.

 [If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need:

(Here is the week 1, week 2 and week 3 sheets if you want them)

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Theme:  Break the Bond of Injustice

Passage for March 22nd 2017: Isaiah 1:10-20

Bars from “Blessings”

They booked the nicest hotels on the 59th floor
With the big wide windows, with the suicide doors…
I'm at war with my wrongs, I'm writing four different songs
I never forged it or forfeited, I'm a force to be reconciled
They want four minute songs
You need a four hour praise dance performed every morn

A Thought:

Some verses in the scriptures are quoted often in church. One of those familiar verses, for me, is fromtodays passage. The prophet tells us in Isaiah 1:18: 

though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.

I have always found this comforting. As I turn back to the Lord from my rebellion, the scripture reassures me that God will wash me clean of my sin. While this is certainly true, there is a specific context Isaiah talks is talking about this forgiveness. 

The people of God have been participating in systems that made vulnerable populations of people more vulnerable. As we are seeing this week, these communities have a unique place in the Lord’s heart. God is promising that as we become aware of the ways we sustain networks of injustice, God will forgive us. This, for me, is beautiful and wonderful news. Unjust systems have a knack to become familiar, and the people most harmed are often times invisible. This creates a strange phenomena where, as I become of aware corruption, I know I need to repent and ask for forgiveness for hurting vulnerable people but there is no one to whom I can repent. This is why I am thankful, Isaiah 1 assures me see our God acts as the mediator.  As I become aware of how my life is unknowingly benefited by systematic injustice, it is comforting to know, that as I stop participating in those systems, the Lord offers me forgiveness. 

When we turn from these injustice and become reconciled with God we become a force who is creating beauty in the world. Forces, who instead of sewing seeds of brokenness, are creating new and beautiful ways of expressing what God is doing in the World. The process of undoing our entanglement with unjust systems is a process where we are continually convicted about how we are, through ignorance or apathy,  harming what God created as very good. The Lord is faithful to cleanse us of our sin in order make us part of the counter movement fighting injustice. Let us take Him up on His offer. 

Here is the question I am thinking about today: In what ways have I contributed to injustice that I need to be washed clean?

Mediation: 2 Corinthians 5:17-20

As you read the passage today what phrase sticks out? Focus on it, and as you color this today ask the Lord to make help make you knew. Allow the Lord to convict you and help press you into new and beautiful was of operating in the world.

Day 21: Weep with those that weep.

 [If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need:

(Here is the week 1, week 2 and week 3 sheets if you want them)

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Theme: Break the Bond of Injustice

Passage for March 21st 2017: John 11:17-44

Bars from “Summer Friends”

Summer friends don't stay
Summer friends don't stay, stay around
Summer friends, summer friends
Summer friends don't stay
Summer friends don't stay, hey
Stay around here

 

A Thought:

The first time I listened to “Summer Friends” with head phones on, I noticed the song skips around your head. It was almost like a thought or a feeling swirling around my mind. It felt like something sad and surreal flittering about my mind, but it didn't want land because if it did somehow it would make it real. I can only imagine this is how it feels for some Chicago neighborhoods during summers when shooting deaths rise significantly. As I realized that this phenomena was what "summer friends" was about, the shooting deaths in Chicago moved from being and abstraction to a concrete reality. The song invites us into a person’s mourning process and opens us up to experience the effects of the very complicated issues of violence in Chicago. Chance invites us to “weep with those that weep”

Often times as I talk with my faith community about injustice issues occurring in the city there is a fairly common response, “What can I do?” I think John 11 gives a pretty direct answer. If our heart breaks with those who are hurting our heart is becoming aligned with Christ’s heart and we put our selves in a posture to become more like Him.  When faced with injustice Christians are too often motivated by guilt. When the guilt dissipates so does our motivation to work for change. But as we sit and weep with those that weep, we begin a friendship with the one affected. And like a good friend we long to undo that which harmed the person we care about. We develop an empathy with our hurting brothers and sisters. 

Social change and movements sustained by the Christ like empathy of John 11. This empathy can give us hearts that are longing for healing and wholeness in the world at such a foundational level that we are willing to lay our life down to see it happen in the world.

Here are the questions I am thinking about today: What are the issues of injustice happening in my local community causing people to weep? What does it mean for you to weep with those to weep?

Mediation: Psalm  94:14-18

As you read the passage today what phrase sticks out? Focus on it, and as you color this week ask the Lord to make you uncomfortable this week. Ask God to take what about some familiar and safe things in your life. When you feel like he has a revealed a few … ask the lord to shake those up.

Day #20: Jesus' black life ain't matter

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need: 

(Here is the week 1, week 2 and week 3 sheets if you want them)

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Theme: Break the Bond of Injustice

Passage for March 20th 2017: Isaiah 58:1-12

Bars from “Blessings”


Jesus' black life ain't matter, I know I talked to his daddy
Said you the man of the house now, look out for your family
He has ordered my steps, gave me a sword with a crest
And gave Donnie a trumpet in case I get shortness of breath
I'm feeling shortness of breath, so Nico grab you a horn
Hit Jericho with a buzzer beater to end a quarter
Watch brick and mortar fall like dripping water.

A Thought:

The town I live in doesn’t have a ton of racial diversity. Being of Filipino descent, when I meet other people of color working in the church we form an instant kinship around our shared racial experience. The day after Chance performed at the Grammys, a group of pastors of color and I were texting as we watched our social media feeds become parades of well intentioned Christians trumpeting that Chance “took the Grammies to church.” While we were all excited for this cultural moment for a myriad of reasons, we were also wrestling with a few questions. 

We wondered if by singing a familiar worship song Chance suddenly became too “Safe” for religious people. We were trying to figure out, intentionally or not, if this move to declare Chance the Hip-Hop Pastor to the Grammys was a way for our religious friends to unknowingly appropriate Chance’s message without the racial and cultural struggle that brought Chance to this moment and, more importantly, without entering into that struggle with him.

Chance's racial identity, with all of its joys and historical struggles, cannot be divorced from what he believes about God. Dislodging Chance’s message from that experience would rob it of its formative power. For example, todays bars come from one of the most brazen songs about faith on “Coloring Book.” On it Chance intermingles his jubilant faith with the racial injustice being highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement. Faith and social action for him are not separated. If we try to separate them in order to make Chance more safe, it would be like skipping the crucifixion in the Gospels to read about the resurrection. Or if we read the “I Have a Dream Speech” without learning about the Montgomery bus boycott. We want the joy without it being forged in the struggle.

Chance is not coming up with something new. His art simply reminds us of passages like we read in today’s text. The intermingling of social action and faith is simply the witness of the scriptures. By making the Scriptures a set of abstract ideas we can agree or disagree with rather than a way of life to be embodied, we domesticate the scriptures into the realm of “Safety.” This allows us to control it, making it fit our aims and desires. We don’t like being challenged. We like being in control. When Jesus is giving a famous message inviting a crowd of people to follow Him, He says that following him is like taking up an ancient Roman method of capital punishment every day. None of the good adventures I know of are safe, so why would following Jesus be an different?

Here are the questions I am contemplating today: How have I made Jesus safe? Instead of making following Jesus a set of truths to agree or disagree with, how can I begin to live how he did in the world with in my local community? 

Mediation: Psalm 68:4-5

This is the first day of this weeks reflection. As you read the passage today what phrase sticks out? Focus on it. As you color today ask the Lord to make you uncomfortable this week by letting him speak to you about a the familiar and safe things in your life. When you feel like he has a revealed a few … ask the Lord to shake those up.

Week #4 Coloring Sheet by Joel Swick

Here is this weeks coloring sheet designed by the very talented Joel Swick. He is a Chicago native and that is why this week's page is super special. This is what he said about it: 

It's the Chicago Skyline intertwined with the Jerusalem Skyline including the Dome of The Rock. It is inspired by the lyrics, "Old Jerusalem, New Jerusalem," and is a more physical interpretation of changes of power over time. Along with the Nobility themes from the texts this week, which stood out to me as a strong virtue of God's power.

Give him a follow but be warned his adventuring will give you some wanderlust.  I can't wait to color the sheet for this week. Print it out and See you tomorrow! 

Day #19: Rest...

Take a break today.

Read a book for fun. Get up and eat big breakfast and then go back to sleep. Or go out for brunch with some friends to talk about the things you are learning. Finish your coloring pages, write down some thoughts and then share them on Social with the #mycoloringbookforhisgreatness. While you are at it browse the #mycoloringbookforhisgreatness on twitter or instagram.

Or just watch Chance sing the theme song from Arthur with Ziggy Marley and Stephen Colbert. It will be stuck in your head all day in the best way possible. 

Day #18: Never Drown

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need: 

(Here is the week #1 and the week # 2 sheet designed by Nic Mansfield)

Theme: Promise and Blessing

Passage for March 18th 2017: Matthew 14:22-33

Bars from “Finish Line/Drown”

The water may be deeper than it's ever been
Never drown

A Thought:

Trite answers to hard questions are one of the justified reasons a skeptical world continues to look at Christians with suspicion. I think many of us have been the recipient of this kind of “council." We are struggling and a well meaning Christian tells us, “all you need to do is have faith that it is going to work out (or something like that).” This is one famous Jesus story I have seen quoted vapidly at people in the midst of “the storms of life.” Unbeknownst to the well intentioned wisdom giver, when they use Matthew 14:22-33 to try to comfort the “Peter” in their life, it actually shows they haven’t read the passage carefully. 

If someone was shouting from the shore to alert the disciples that Jesus was coming, there may be some textual basis for their well meaning but ultimately hallow advice. But that is obviously not there. No matter how good the intensions, any advice “from the shore” comes across as disingenuous. Unless we are willing to get in the boat with them, it is not our job to lob spiritual platitudes. In the midst of storms, it is Jesus’ job to reveal himself and ours to simply recognize him.

So, I am not going to replicate my frustration here. If you are in a dark time right now I am sure it is hard to hear that God wants to give you good and beautiful things. I can only imagine it is harder to hear that God wants to bless you. I simply want to create a space for you to ask if Jesus is coming to you in the midst of everything that is happening in your life. You may not see Him and that is ok. Without doubting Jesus’ presence and experiencing the seeming isolation that is the result, we cannot have honest need. I think, in this story, there is enough room to allow for both doubt and Jesus’ eventual presence with us in our storms. And both of those are gifts.

Here are the questions I am contemplating today: What are the storms in my life? Do I believe Jesus is going to pull me out? How do I see God’s blessing in the midst of the my struggles? How is doubt a gift?

Mediation: Jonah 2:1

Today is the last day in this weeks theme. While you color today, meditate on this verse. And ask the Lord what He wants you to take away from this week. Take this time to thank the Lord for your blessings and all of His promises to bring you into a Promised Land. Take a moment and write down your thoughts. Share them on social and tag them with  #mycoloringbookforhisgreatness so we can follow along in your journey. 

Day #17: Give Names Away to a Holy House

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need: 

(Here is the week #1 and the week # 2 sheet designed by Nic Mansfield)

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Theme: Promise and Blessing

Passage for March 17th 2017: Ephesians 1:15-23

Bars from “Finish Line/Drown”

She gave my name away to your holy house
She like my blessings in disguise
She like her Jesus mountain high
So He can watch her lonely child 

A Thought:

My Mother is a prayer person. I have seen her many afternoons and evenings sit down in a recliner in my childhood living room. Next to the chair is a basket full of yarn and knitting needles that she picks up for an hour or two at multiple points throughout her day. As she meticulously works her purl stitch, she prays for a specific person. The eventual result of her time will be a shawl representing hours of prayer on someones behalf which she then gives to them as the gift. And as she hands it to them, regardless if they are a person of faith or not, my mom tells them she was praying for them as she knit it for them. This practice has been a wonderful model of faith for me. She gives people a beautify representation of the reality Paul is asking us all to faithfully live out. We are to be a covering of prayer for one another. 

Prayer names the moments where we invite the reality and will of God to come into the present. This reality Jesus calls “The Kingdom of God.”  Paul and, one of the guest artists on what is one of my favorite verses on “Coloring Book”, Noname show us the method and effect of prayer.  We all have been embedded in communities of people. Our families, our work places, our roommates, our classrooms and our neighborhoods are all places where God is at work. Paul asks us to lift all of them up in prayer, asking for God’s reality to break into those communities so His love may be made known. When we see God’s kingdom come, Ephesians encourages us to thank God for his faithful work in the lives of others. Noname expresses the experience of one who is recipient of those prayers. Even in her experience of loneliness, the prayers of others lift her into the presence of the most high God.

As followers of Jesus, we can give this gift of prayer to one another. And as we become the recipients of this gift from Community of God, we experience the Lord's blessing.  

Here are the questions I am pondering today: Who are the people that I know are praying for me? Have I said thank you to them recently? Who is it that I need to commit to praying for on a regular basis? 

Mediation: Colossians 3:16-17

As you color today ask the Lord to reveal someone you can lift up in prayer. Pray this verse from Colossians for them today. You can repeat it on their behalf. Or just slowly say the verse and spend some time praying about whatever the Lord brings to your mind, allowing your self to “give thanks for them as [you] remember them in your prayers.”

Day #16: "Holy like Mama"

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need: 

(Here is the week #1 and the week # 2 sheet designed by Nic Mansfield)

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Theme: Promise and Blessing

Passage for March 16th 2017: 2 Corinthians 11:21-30

Bars from “Finish Line/Drown”

I love you, I love you, you looking holy like Mama
You made a church out of feathers
So when she fly to the Father
She know the choir gon' follow and all the offering paid 

A Thought:

Having lived in Colorado and Washington, I have been in close enough contact with the mountaineering community in both places that it should have worn off on me. Sadly, it did not. In spite of my ineptitude, I have caught on to a couple things Mountaineers need to do in order to make it through a climb. My friend Derek tells a story about the time he summited Mt. Baker. When climbers get to more difficult sections, they harness themselves to at least two other people. Being the person in the middle, he had one person in front of him and one in the back. As they climbed Derek entrusted his life to someone farther along, and someone just behind Him in the journey. When Derek told me about his adventure and its connection to the a life of following Jesus, it has had a lasting impact on me. 

The Christian life is not intended to be a solo endeavor. At any moment we may encounter a hardship or question or a joy we have yet to experience. At moments like these we need to be harnessed to a community to help us along in our journey. We need some one who is farther along in the journey to help as we wrestle with the questions, struggle through the hardship and celebrate with us in our joys. When we are invited, we have the opportunity to be that person for someone else. Someone who is sharing our wisdom and insight about the Christian life.  We get to help them contextualize their hurts, navigate their tensions and celebrate their victories. God not only gives us each other for the sake of community but also for the sake of the journey. 

Here are the questions I am contemplating this week: Who have I tied myself to that is farther along the journey? What in my life have they helped me walk through? Who is someone that has tied their life to mine? What have I shown them about a life of following Jesus?

Mediation: 1st Corinthians 11:1

As you color today pray for the people who you have helped you in your journey. Thank the Lord for what they have helped show you. Pray that God continues to speak to them and use them in other people’s lives like He has used them in yours. In addition, think about the people who may look to you to help guide them in the Christian life. Spend some time thinking and praying for them. If don’t have anyone like that in your life ask the Lord to give you some opportunities to be that for someone else.

Day #15: Angles...

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need: 

(Here is the week #1 and the week # 2 sheet designed by Nic Mansfield)

Theme: Promise and Blessing

Passage for March 15th 2017: John 13:31-35

Bars from “Angels”

Wear your halo like a hat, that's like the latest fashion
I got angels all around me they keep me surrounded

A Thought:

In my living room hangs a painting. It is beautiful and wonderful reminder of what the Lord has done in my family and my life. My wife had it commissioned by a friend of ours named Andy to commemorate a hard season of our life that was coming to a close. It was based on a passage of scripture that is, in any season, a continual comfort. What I am more thankful for, however, is the roll that the artist and his family plaid in my family’s life. In some of the darkest moments of Aubrey and my marriage, they encouraged us, spoke wisdom to us and above all loved us well. I can say with out a doubt that one of the main reasons I am writing these words, facilitating the community of people I am presently, and most importantly, the father I am today is due in large part to Andy and, his wife Betsy. They helped love us back to Jesus when we felt so incredibly far from him. To quote Chance, they were the angels that surrounded us. 

In the final days before Jesus was betrayed, he told his followers to love one another. This in it self was not a new commandment. However, the result of this affection was as new as it was revolutionary. Jesus says that this is how the world will know we are his followers. Our love for each other is the evidence of the spirits work in us. Jesus looks to transforms us into his image and likeness, so we can be a blessing to one another. Our communities are a gift from our God. Let us provide the world with the evidence that our God is good and loving by pouring out the love he has graciously given us on each other. 

Here are the question I am contemplating today: Who in my life is blessing and an encouragement to me? How can I be a blessing to others? If someone looked at my life would my care and affection for others point to Jesus?

Mediation: Psalm 91:11-13

As you read the Psalm today choose one verse that is sticking out to you. As you color today, use that verse as a spring board to thank the Lord for the people in your life who have helped shape and form you into the image and likeness of Jesus.

Day #14: The Spirt Filled Life of Adventure

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need: 

(Here is the week #1 and the week # 2 sheet designed by Nic Mansfield)

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Theme: Promise and Blessing

Passage for March 14th 2017: Romans 8:12-17

Bars from “All We Got”

I get my word from the sermon
I do not talk to the serpent
That's the holistic discernment

A Thought:

A few summers ago I took a trip to South Korea.  I was nervous about navigating the city once I was there. I have used public transit quite a bit, and I feel comfortable utilizing it to get around. But, when I realized most public transit systems I know of operate in the majority language of the country in which they are located, combined with my inability to speak or read a single word of Korean, it was enough to give me a some concern. Much to my pleasure, my anxiety relaxed when I boarded my first train and saw a display screen informing riders of the upcoming stops. In addition, the digital display shifted between English and Bengal characters as a voice announced the next location. My concern began to dissipate. As I grew in confidence in the voice giving me directions, I was able to relax and enjoy my trip. 

Most of the time I identify God’s gifts with something material, but today Romans 8 helped me see this is too narrow. God gives us the Spirit’s presence and voice in our life. It helps inform our journey and remind us of our origins. As we become attentive, learning to listen to the Spirit's direction, we can relax into the the second gift the Lord is giving... an adventure filled life. Following Jesus is never dull, always challenging and a beautiful blessing from our loving God. It truly is the best life possible. God gives many incredible promises when we start to follow him, but one of my favorites is that it is going to be an adventure full of the Spirit’s presence.

I think that Eugene Peterson in the Message's paraphrase of Romans 8:12-17 captures this idea wonderfully: 

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!”
-  Romans 8:12-17 (The Message)

Here are the questions I am wrestling with this today: Do I believe God’s presence is a gift? What is the adventure filled life God is sending me on? How familiar am I with God’s voice?

Mediation: Psalm 89:8-9

As you read the Psalm today choose one verse that is sticking out to you and commit it memory. Say it to yourself at different times throughout the day.  As you color today, ask the Lord to speak to you about the verse you are memorizing.

Day #13: Speaking of Promised Lands

[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]

What you will need: 

(Here is the week #1 and the week # 2 sheet designed by Nic Mansfield)

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Theme: Promise and Blessing

Passage for March 13th 2017: Deuteronomy 11:1-15

Bars from “Blessings (Reprise)”

I speak of promised lands
Soil as soft as momma's hands
Running water, standing still
Endless fields of daffodils and chamomile

A Thought:

God wants us to have a life marked with rest, margin, good food and security. Unlike the life of scarcity which is the foundation of the dominating economic system, God wants to provide a life of wholeness and abundance. God’s people are about to walk into the land where this life is possible. I wonder what was going through their head as they were about to embark on the next stage of their journey?

If it were me, I would have had a hard time believing God wants me to have the promise land life in front of me. My skepticism is rooted, like so much of my brokenness, in my past. My perception of the Lord is that when I pray God doesn’t show up. God is unreliable when I have the most need. The opposite side of my skepticism coin, is that I don’t deserve the what is in store. I have messed up too many times. I must be disqualified. There is no way God would let a screw up like me into a this promised land life. 

These stories I tell my self I do not think are isolated to me. In the last 10 years of ministry and an uncountable number of conversations with people about God, these are two very prominent themes. So it is not a surprise to me that God asks them to be reflective as they are about to walk into the promised land. The Lord is asking them to remember all of the times they walked away and God restored them.  God is asking His people to remember all the times it didn’t seem like there was a way out and He showed up. All of those stories we tell ourselves about why the Promise Land life God has doesn’t apply to us are lies. God wants this life for you. Our Lord is always faithful. Our God always shows up. 

Here are the questions I am asking myself today: Why do I feel disqualified from the Promised Land life that God has in store? Why do I believe the Lord won’t show up when I need it the most? Do I believe that God actually wants that life for me?

Mediation: Psalm 46:8-10

Today is the first day of this theme. As you read the Psalm today choose choose one verse and try to commit it memory. Say it to your self at different places through out the day.  As you start this weeks coloring sheet, take a moment and ask the Lord to speak to you this week.