Sunday, May 28, 2017

Chesed Love...Mustard Seed Faith Challenge #7...based on Hosea

Good morning and welcome to a new challenge from Mustard Seed Faith. We have a new devotional to share with you. Thanks for stopping by. At the end you'll find the new challenge and lovely creations by our design team. 

Chesed or Steadfast Love

Have you ever been rejected? Have you ever been betrayed by a spouse? Or had a good friend suddenly and unexpectedly stab you in the back? Does that make it worse, when you don’t see it coming? And how do you recover?

God experiences rejection on a daily basis. God sees the pain in relationships and specifically the pain in our relationship with Him. Because the bible is not just a book and Christianity is not a religion—it is all about relationship with Jesus Christ and with the Father, our relationship.

How many times have you sat in church during a sermon and have someone pop into your head, “If only (insert name) could hear this sermon! This was tailor made for them!” When what we are supposed to be doing is examining our heart, our lives. Where are we sinning? How do we run from God, from His desire for relationship with us? No, you might not be prostituting yourself but how easily idols slip into our lives and capture our thoughts, attention and hearts! Social media, facebook, jobs, hobbies, anything that takes us away from our first love, or what is supposed to be our first love, which is God. “They are all adulterers” (Hosea 7:4) and Hosea 6:4, “Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.”

The book of Hosea is actually a beautiful demonstration of the faithful constancy the Lord has for us. We are Gomer, we are the nation of Israel, unfaithful time and again and yet God’s love for us, chesed love, never fails. God never gives up on you. This chesed love demonstrated in Hosea was, under the new covenant, ultimately demonstrated when Christ gave himself up for us on the cross. 

One of my favorite verses is Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

God is the greatest friend, the greatest example of steadfastness you will ever experience or witness. Our Lord and savior calls us friend and loves us with a depth we can never fathom. (Romans 8:39) And we need to extend that same faithfulness to others, our spouses and the people placed in our lives that we call friends, because our model is Jesus Christ. And if we are to walk with Him we need to soak in the Lord's teachings and try to pattern our lives after His. This week’s challenge is to create a project or card that has something to do with relationships, for a friend, an anniversary, or wedding. We look forward to having you participate.

Now for the lovely inspiration from our design team!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

New Challenge (MSFC#6) ...God's lullabyes

Good morning and welcome to another new challenge at Mustard Seed Faith! We thank everyone who participated in our last challenge or visited the blog to read the devotional.

This week's challenge is based on the book of Psalms and you are to create a baby card or something to do with a lullabye. This week's thoughts:

Several weeks ago in church the pastor used an illustration in reference to the psalms that I had never thought about before. He said that just as a mother sings lullabyes to her children at night to help them rest when going to bed, the book of psalms can be likened to God’s lullabyes to His children.

It made me realize how often I turn to the psalms for help with any number of wide-ranging emotions. When I am angry or upset at a certain situation I’ll often turn to Psalm 73. It contains a progressive narrative that moves me from indignation and anger to sorrow, thoughts of humility at the great gift God has given me and thankfulness for the close relationship with His son, Jesus.

During my years as a single mother when I often felt overwhelmed I clung to verse 1 of Psalm 57 (KJ), “In the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” It made me feel like a little bird, safe under the wings of the One who is always in control, and helped me rest when my mind was whirling late at night with a seemingly impossible list of tasks and responsibilities.

Just the other night we received some distressing financial news, so while I prepared dinner I asked my daughter to read to me out loud from the psalms so I could find comfort and focus on the eternal, rather than the temporal. I wrote out verse 1 of Psalm 122 (NIV) and pinned it to my refrigerator, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.

What psalms or verse of a psalm speaks to your heart in a situation you’re facing right now? Maybe it is illness, or loneliness or sorrow or even joy. The psalms speak to the full range of emotions and help rock us to sleep with the knowledge that whatever it might be, whatever we are facing, God is in control. And He loves His children.

This week’s challenge is to make a baby card or a project that speaks to the theme of Psalms as lullabyes. We hope you join us and please, leave us your thoughts on your favorite psalm, or favorite for the moment, and how it has worked in your life.   

Now for our projects from the design team:

Tracey Fehr

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mustard Seed's Marvelous Monday Mentions April Traveling Mercies

Good evening!

We had a lot of fun creating our traveling mercies projects and some of you did too! There were a few that were difficult for team members to comment upon; different format than a blog. But we did look at each and every one and want to thank you for participating!

Now for a few awards...

First of all, we had a giveaway with our last challenge related to the traveling mercies theme. Nurturing Naomi, an etsy creator and seller, generously donated a string art piece themed for the state of the winner. In other words, you get to choose your state or another state (if you want to give it as a gift) for Nurturing Naomi to create in string art. The random number generator chose "1"! Which is Natalie H. I left you a message on your blog, Natalie, please contact us to claim your prize!

Next up, our Marvelous Monday Mentions! You are welcome to display the badge on our sidebar on your blog if you have one. Thank you again and here they are (sorry, some are blurry, please visit the individual blogs for a better look):

Bailmac on SCS:

 Cimbacreativefun blog

Creating with Olga:
There is still time to play in our current, sketch challenge! Hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

New challenge...God as Creator

I see the work of Your Hands
Galaxies spin in a Heavenly dance oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming
I hear the sound of Your Voice
All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming
I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
I know the power of Your Cross
Forgiven and free forever You’ll be my God
And all that You’ve done is so overwhelming
I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
And God I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
You are Beautiful, You are Beautiful
Oh God,…

I chose this song, Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave because it expresses for me some of the awe I feel when I consider God’s creation, the work of His hands.
There are some people who seem to feel that science is incompatible with belief. I am a technical writer, to be specific, I write about the functional properties of food ingredients in manufacturing systems. I tend to have a logical mind. That could be why sketch challenges help me when crafting, it is like a formula that helps me organize my stamping thoughts.
When I look at the universe and the world around me, everything I find out shouts that there is a creator; that the God of the universe, who is so much bigger and more powerful than I could ever understand, made the universe and what is in it.
Consider just two recent discoveries, one on a scale almost impossible to imagine and one on the microscopic level.  this article in the New York Times talks about the rate at which the universe is expanding. The expansion is accelerating really, at an astounding rate, one that baffles the scientific establishment. That’s because this acceleration defies all the known laws of physics, specifically Hubble’s constant. We either have to reexamine physics or accept the theory that something called “dark energy” causes this anomaly…something the scientists haven’t ever found and cannot prove. Or you can believe that God as creator drives this phenomenon. Many places in the bible tell of his works, for this specifically there are a few passages in the old testament. One of my favorites Isaiah 40:22 "It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a ten to dwell in."
From the vast expanse of the universe, let’s move to something a bit smaller, the dragonfly. Dragonflies eat mosquitoes and bugs that are full of germs and bacterial agents. With every meal or snack, they’re exposed to bacteria that could and should kill them. Yet using microscopy techniques that delve into the nanostructure of the wing’s surface, researchers have discovered that dragonfly wings kill bacteria. They’re trying to harness this knowledge to improve antibacterial surfaces for various medical treatments.
I see the hand of the creator in all of this, frankly in everything around me. A creator who not just made the universe and dragonflies, but made me, down to the inner workings of every cell in my body. And this is the same God who loves me and sent his only son to die for my sins. If you have questions about how any of our design team members came to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, please ask. For me, part of it is the incontrovertible evidence of my senses. As it says in Romans 1:20 New Living Translation “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
This week’s theme is God as creator. We have a sketch challenge so you can choose to create whatever you feel would fit into that sketch. We invite you to play along and we welcome your thoughts on God as creator.

Now for the sketch and some inspiration from our design team members:
Note that the circle in the middle just stands for the image you choose to put there. Some of our DT members flipped the sketch on its side and I moved the sentiment because I smudged the front panel. 

First up, Diane Noble

Traci Major

Now it is your turn!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Mustard Seed's Marvelous Monday Mentions -- Easter

Good evening! Happy Monday! Monday got away from me a bit, but we are so pleased to announce our Marvelous Monday Mentions for the Easter card challenge.  Many thanks to all of you who participated. Don't forget, you have this week yet to submit a creation that has anything at all to do with travel, for our theme of Traveling Mercies.

Ladies, feel free to pick up the blog badge on the sidebar! And please visit these blogs to see the wonderful paper creations they have made! Thank you again for participating and sharing your thoughts on what Easter means to you.

We'd like to call out:

My Way

 Vickie O'Dell at Heartful Stamper:

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Traveling Mercies...MSFC#3

Welcome back to Mustard Seed Faith Challenges. It is time for a new devotional, a new challenge and some new artwork from our design team members.

For this next challenge, our third, or MSFC#3, use something that moves or travels or is related to travel; a car, bus, plane, balloon, map, spaceship, globe...anything related to travel. 

We have a nice travel-related prize of a custom string art piece for one randomly selected entrant for this challenge. Due to postal costs, U.S. domestic only, although we welcome entries from any country, anywhere.  

Now for the devotional...

Traveling mercies

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time you’ve probably come across the term, “traveling Mercies,” which is a prayer for protection for a group or person traveling long distances. It actually originated in the early 19th century for missionaries, who might be traveling to dangerous locations. Now it is pulled out for all types of travels, from business trips to vacations.

The bible has a lot to say about prayer, and we are to pray in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing”…and then goes on to say “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

So we are to pray without ceasing—for family, for travel, for the world in general-but also give thanks in all circumstances. If we are giving thanks in all circumstances, that means we are entrusting our lives to someone or something bigger than ourselves. Who are we trusting with our lives and our circumstances—in all things, in the journey we call life?

These ideas of traveling mercies, trust and thanksgiving all gelled one day when I heard a speaker at an event I attended with my daughter in Los Angeles.

A young man stood up to speak through an interpreter about his travels to the United States from his home in Central America, the “Northern Triangle,” comprised of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. This is an area plagued by extreme violence, dire poverty and organized crime, which has caused a surge of refugees fleeing that area.

As he stood up, the first thing you noticed was his broad smile. He notified the ladies in the audience that he was still single. Then he told of his desperate flight from his home country, expressing his wish that the problems that plague the region could be solved so that he could one day return.

The second thing you notice about this young man is the brace on his left arm, supporting his one remaining finger; along with the fact that his right arm and right leg are missing. He fell off the train he was riding when was coming to this country, perhaps from a box car or perhaps he was hitching a ride between cars, of that I am unsure. But he fell off, and now has been left permanently handicapped. It is clear however, that he doesn’t view himself in that light. During his address to the audience, he raised his arm to point to the heavens and give praise and glory to Jesus Christ, with a smile of thanks for his life and his good fortune.

If losing not one, but multiple limbs were the result of one of our trips, how many of us would be able to give praise and thanks to God? To say that we still trust him? To say that he answered our prayers for traveling mercies? Yet that is exactly what we are supposed to do, in everything, we are to “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

In truth, the type of traveling mercies we should be praying for is the companionship and guidance of Jesus Christ through our entire journey of life, every day, regardless of whether we don’t stray ten yards from our kitchen or travel thousands of miles to another country.  

As I write this, I don’t know if I could, myself, give thanks if I, or one of my children lost a life or a limb while traveling, or in any other situation. First of all, I cannot imagine the pain of seeing one of my children suffer like that. And, full disclosure, I can whine and cry with the best of them. But that verse in Thessalonians is our guide, in ALL things, give thanks. And as Hebrews 12: 1 says, we are to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Sometimes during the race the runner might fall down. Sometimes, tragically, they might even lose a limb. The idea is to get up and continue, with God’s help. Because even without a limb, you can still win the race.

So as you “travel” through your day, as you are running the race Jesus has marked out for you, ask him to help you. Don’t just ask him to bless your chosen activities, but to guide them, to “mark out” the course you are to run. And ask Him to help you give praise and thanks, regardless of where your travels take you. He will be faithful to answer.  Remember, the last trip Jesus took wasn’t the agonizing journey to the cross, but the Resurrection, when he emerged victorious from the grave! He is risen and He is able, Hallelujah! 

Now for the gorgeous entries from our design team!

MariLynn DeGroot:

Peggysue (Jeanne) Turner:

 Tracey Fehr:

Yoonsun Hur:

All you need to do now is posts your creation using the InLinkz tool below. Thank you for stopping by and may you walk with God this day. 

One randomly selected winner who resides in the U.S. will be entered to win a custom string art piece from Nurturing Naomi. Selected the state you live in and your hometown and she can create a piece for you similar to the example below for Iowa.