One of my goals for this year was to start learning cartoon illustration, and this weekend I decided to take the first step towards that endeavor.
I really didn’t know where to start, so I started with a Internet search. After reading up on some suggestions and looking at examples, I decided to give it a try.
After a few really bad attempts, I drew the following without using a pencil sketch. (I was sitting with my kids, and we only had Crayola markers.)
Then, I did something I never thought I’d ever do. I drove to Best Buy and purchased a Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch Pad.
Oh, yeah. I think I’m going to like this new toy.
If you attend Faith Promise Church, you can hardly help but get into the spirit of personal evaluation during this time of year. Both Josh and Pastor Chris start focusing their attention on personal growth and establishing their plans for the coming year (excellent post by Josh here).
I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon to let you know about a cool update to YouVersion (a free Bible website that is mobile enabled and supported with mobile apps) that now allows you to select from a variety of reading plans. This is a very cool update, and if you’re a person who struggles with reading the Bible, I’d highly encourage you to take a look at their reading plans and find a good fit. There’s nothing that will help you grow spiritually like the systematic reading and application of God’s Word.
Yesterday’s post was difficult to write. It’s challenging to take a hard look at your own struggles and then put them into writing. The reason I did it is because making progress in that area was at the top of my personal growth plan for the year, and I believe that as I expose my struggle to the light, God will continue to change my heart and mold me into the likeness of His Son.
It is such an amazing and freeing thing to know that through Jesus, not only do I find forgiveness for my sins, but I also get to watch as God redeems even the broken places of my life. Through Christ, I have nothing to hide. I don’t have to pretend that I’m perfect. Even my biggest struggles are no match for the cross and God’s power to make things new.
I recently started reading a book called Holiness by J. C. Ryle. As soon as I heard of the book (I saw it mentioned in another blog’s comments), I knew that it was something I needed to read.
There were a couple of reasons in particular that it interested me:
- With the nationwide push for churches to be cool and relevant, holiness seems to be often overlooked.
- I really desire holiness in my life, but honestly, I fall so short of it even with my best intentions.
I’m only a few chapters into the book, but nearly every paragraph contains a powerful nugget of truth. I’ll share a few of my favorite quotes just in case you’re interested.
Here’s one of my favorite lines: “A true Christian is one who has not only peace of conscience, but war within. He may be known by his warfare as well as by his peace.”
Contrasting justification and sanctification: “Justification is a finished and complete work, and a man is perfectly justified the moment he believes. Sanctification is an imperfect work, comparatively, and will never be perfected until we reach heaven.”
“Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God… agreeing in [His] judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word.”
“I do not say for a moment that holiness shuts out the presence of indwelling sin. No, far from it. It is the greatest misery… that the old man is clogging all his movements and, as it were, trying to draw him back at every step he takes (Rom. 7:21).”
“In short, to talk of men being saved from the guilt of sin, without being at the same time saved from its dominion in their hearts, is to contradict the witness of all Scripture.”
As I’ve been working on my personal growth plan over the past few weeks, I realized tonight that I’ve done a lousy job on one my biggest goals for last year. Tonight, I’m committing to make rest my number one goal for 2009.
“WASTE not life,” wrote Benjamin Franklin, patron saint of American entrepreneurs. “In the grave will be sleeping enough.” Centuries later, the attitude toward sleep in America — and in American business, in particular — has scarcely changed. Corporate culture reveres the e-mail message sent at 3 a.m., the executive who rushes directly into a meeting from a red-eye flight. Bumper stickers offer an updated version of Franklin’s dictum: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
“There is a cultural bias against sleep that sees it as akin to shutting down, or even to death….” [New York Times]
I want to learn how to get beyond my own desire to accomplish and achieve. I want to move past my ability to get things done and make money in the evenings doing freelance work. I’m praying that God would make me counter cultural and teach me how to rest.
Of all the personal goals I’ve ever read, none have inspired me like the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. He lived in colonial America and was a missionary to the Native Americans. He wrote a lengthy set of resolutions that he would reflect on each week. Just to give you a snapshot, I’ve included a few here:
1. Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
5. Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
8. Resolved, To act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings, as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. Vid. July 30.
18. Resolved, To live so, at all times, as I think is best in my most devout frames, and when I have the clearest notions of the things of the gospel, and another world.
19. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour before I should hear the last trump.
Every time I read through these (here is the full list), I feel inspired to be even more devoted to Christ, His church, and humanity.
One thing I really appreciate about Faith Promise is the focus on resolutions and goal setting. It’s a passion of the pastor, and it has become a part of the culture of the church. From church-wide goals to personal growth plans, I find myself right at home.
In the midst of my goal setting, I realize that I am once again face to face with the Beast of Familiarity. If I’m not careful, my driven personality drags me into stale religion and rule keeping. I can read through chapters without being pulled into and overcome by the Text – without being engaged by the Personal God of the Universe.
Because of this, I’m doing a couple of things this year:
- I’m using a different Bible translation (NLT) than the one I normally read (NIV).
- I’m committing to spend more time journaling my prayers – either written or typed.
What about you? What helps you to stay focused on Christ? Is there anything new that you’re committing to for the year?