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Sunday, 3 July 2016

Art Therapy 7: Relationships Following The Primary Command - Love God (Part 1/3)

There are so many of who are struggling to maintain healthy relationships that we thought it a good idea to do a blog series on relationships. We take a Biblical perspective, using Jesus' teaching on what the greatest command is in Mark 12:30-31. In the first blog of the three part series, we look at the greatest command, namely loving God. This may not be the easiest thing to do and so we explore practical ways of working on having a personal relationship with God.


As we will be using some heavy paints for this journal project, we need to make sure to use strong paper as our foundation, that will be able to withstand the wet paint. This blog is not intended for people who do not believe in Jesus as it very strongly links with His teachings. It is therefore important that we should also have a strong spiritual foundation as well.


A side note: When doing this blog, I was away from home and set up my 'studio' out of doors under a shade tree. This is why you will see the shadows of the leaves overhead in the photos.


Secure your paper to a wooden board with masking tape to prevent the sides from curling up. In the same way, we also need to secure our faith to something tangible to prevent it from becoming warped and distorted. A good foundation here would be the Bible.
Which specific passages in the Bible have a deep meaning to you personally? You may want to list them here, or read them again before starting on this project.


We use a very naive art style for this blog series. This is by no means to be confused with thinking that the message is naive. This is a truth that has withstood the test of time. We merely aim to promote it in a way that will make it possible for the least artistic among us to partake and enjoy in the process. The naive art style also underscore the fact that the Message is simple and accessible to everyone who chooses to be a part of it. Feel free to work your own style into your own rendition. As this part of the series deals with the aspect of loving God, and He is the source of Light (the Light of the world), we chose to depict God as the sun. I chose to work with charcoal, which is a personal favorite of mine. You may want to use pencil, or another medium.


Draw the center of the sun with rays protruding from it. We will be writing in those rays, so be sure to leave enough space for the journaling.


We then drew a small little figure in the center of the sun, keeping the lines very simple and easy. This figure will come to represent ourselves. As we are also investigating the pursuit of a relationship with God, we drew the figure with its hands folded in prayer.


I then take a clean dry brush and wipe all the excess charcoal away, leaving a much more feint outline of the original drawing. This is very symbolic. It is almost guaranteed that you will need to get rid of excess in your life in order to achieve a better relationship with God. Excesses could include things like noise (televisions, etc.), things that keep us busy (internet, etc.), anything else that detracts from focusing on God.
Take a moment to make a list of the excesses that interfere with the relationship you have with God. How can you wipe these away, or at least reduce its interference in your relationship with God?


I then use an eraser to erase lines drawn in the wrong place. Some things in our own lives also require more effort to get rid of than a mere brushing over, doesn't it? Do you have any bad habits standing in the way of your having a healthy relationship with God. You may need to put some effort into removing those from your life.
List these by name and write it down somewhere where you will be able to look at them again objectively later on. You may need to put some effort into removing these from your life.


I will be using Dala Craft Paint for my journal. Feel free to do yours in acrylics, oils, watercolours, or even fabric paint. Adjust your surface to the medium you use. This too is very symbolic of our approach to God. There are many church denominations, each with their own individual characteristics. As long as the goal is to establish a relationship with God through Jesus Christ as Saviour, it does not matter which medium/denomination you choose. God promises that He will be found by those who search for Him.


I start by painting the rays of the sun a bright Custard Yellow. There is nothing dim about this Light Source.


I then warm the sides up even more by painting it Burnt Orange, turning the rays into vibrant, warm, welcoming beams.


This is done to all of the rays drawn around the center of the sun.


I then paint the center of the sun in exactly the same way. God reveals Himself to us in different ways at different times, either through the working of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus, the Son of God, or as Father God. When all is said and done, every manifestation of God in your life bears the same testimony of love, forgiveness and reconciliation. That is why we paint all parts of our sun the same way.


Wherever God is present, there is life. That is why we paint the grass under our feet a bright Lime Green. To me this is a very friendly colour, filled with  excitement and potential.
What emotions do you experience when looking at and painting this?
Would it help to pray over these emotions? Why not stop and do so right now?


We paint the sky a pale Duck Egg as this imitates a clear sky on a sunny day. There are no clouds in this relationship!


We use a dark green , that we mixed ourselves to paint centers for the flowers we want to add to the grass.


The petals of the flowers are painted a vibrant Red. These patches of flowers are what we can expect in a relationship with God. He allows us to go through through trials and tribulations that strengthen our character, even though we may not fully understand it. But He also showers us with blessings and these patches of flowers are in recognition of the good things that we receive from Him.
List some blessings that you have recently experienced in your own life.
Remind yourself to thank God for the blessings in your life.


It is now time to start adding colour to the figure representing ourselves. We start by painting the hair. We chose a pale yellow, but you are free to choose any colour you like. You do not even have to stick to a natural hair colour. Allow yourself to paint yourself the way you are defined in Christ. I will paste a piece I wrote a short while ago about finding our identity in Christ. This may give add some insight into what we are aiming for here. This follows at the end of the blog and does not form part of the blog.


To create slightly more realistic hair, I add a second colour which is a light brown. There is no need for a narrow definition here. God created us with numerous abilities and talents and we should feel free to explore the whole range!


The Bible often refers to God dressing us in new robes. I choose to paint my dress Purple, which represents royalty to me. I am a daughter of the King.
What colour did you choose to paint your own robes in? Why did you choose this colour? What, if anything, does it represent to you?


My shoes are painted wine red. These shoes are a warm and welcoming colour, reminding me of the passage about dressing in the armour of God. These shoes are ready to bring good news to people everywhere!
Shoes also represent protection for our feet and God has promised to protect us on our life's journey.


The skin on our figure is painted pink. Skin has so many different colours that you may freely choose any colour you like!


Once the paint has dried, it is time to start adding journaling. I start by writing the particular passage from the Bible with a Black artists pen. "Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." Mark 12:30.


I now need to start looking for ways to practically assist in building/strengthening my relationship with God. I decide to focus on the tried and tested methods to get me started. I write the words "Go to church" in the first sun ray. Feel free to write your own methods into the rays of the sun. Mine are only intended to assist you in sparking ideas and ways of your own. It is inevitable that there might be some overlap.
Start with those ideas you feel will be most beneficial to you at this particular stage of your life.


In the second ray, I write the words Read the Bible. Perhaps you need to acquire some study guides to assist you? Whatever you need to buy, rent or borrow, be sure to find ways to practically execute what you resolve on here.


I then realize that a lot of time my own attitude towards other people negatively affect my relationship with God. That is why I chose to write the words 'Show compassion' in the next ray.


I often find that my intelligence gets in the way of my faith. This is why I write the words 'Choose to believe' in the next ray. It is not believing in God that is a problem for me, but sometimes I find it hard to believe the things He has in store for me, etc. This is why I make faith a cognitive decision, overriding my ingrained thinking processes.


I love being on my own and need to remind myself to reach out to people. It therefore makes sense that I should write the words 'Enjoy fellowship with fellow believers' in the next ray. You need to explore what you know about your own personality to find out how it contributes or detracts from your relationship with God.


In the next ray I address the issue of communication when I write 'Set aside time for prayer'. Communication is the cornerstone of ALL relationships and this one is not an exception to this rule.


I see too often how my own ego hinders me from subjecting my will to that of God. Naturally I include the words 'Practice humility' in one of the rays.


I have often been hurt and disappointed by people. Who has not? It is essential that I write the words 'Choose to forgive'. Don't fool yourself. This is a choice. Don't wait for forgiveness to occur naturally. Seek it out!


We live in a world that upholds retaliation as a standard for justice. I added the words 'Show mercy'. This comes close to understanding the heart of God.


I then add the words 'Subject my will to that of God'. This is proclaiming out loud that I relinquish control of my life to God.


This leads to the next ray, and the last in my painting, where I write the words 'Put God first in all things.' This is the standard that I set for the rest of my life!


In the center of the sun, I write a newly formed motto to live by: Love God. Trust God. Believe God. Wait upon God.
What would you like to write here? Why do you choose these words?


I then use a Black marker with a brush tip to add definition to the painting, outlining it. Having resolved to actively pursue a better relationship with God has also caused the important things in my life to become more clearly defined.
Take note that this is not done in charcoal or pencil that can be erased, like the drawings we started off with. This is a definite line we are drawing, "defining" our new picture of our relationship with God.


I then use a similar White marker to add highlights to the painting. The light of God is penetrating into the recesses of my life, highlighting it with His illuminating power.
What does this mean to you?
What kind of backup does this provide in your life?
How does this affect your sense of security in God?


Remove the masking tape securing the paper to the board. You no longer need anything to secure you at the side of the paper, to figuratively prevent you from curling up. Your relationship with God has been firmly set out.


You now have a beautiful plan to refer back to in your journey towards building a relationship with your Father.


Identify Yourself!
Written by Miekie

If someone were to ask you who you were, what would you answer? Last night, when speaking to a friend, she made the comment that these types of questions would be answered differently at different times, given different settings and different groups of people. At first glance, we balk at the idea of being so duplicitous, but it holds some truth. Imagine yourself in a work interview, answering that question. Now see yourself gazing into the eyes of a romantic love interest, answering the same question. How about if we place you in the presence of God, who would you be then?
When reading Luke 9 this morning, I was struck by people’s confusion over Jesus’ identity. Verse 7 says that this question had Herod, the ruler at the time, ‘perplexed’. He had heard about the things Jesus had done and was asking about Him. He got varying answers, though. Some said that Jesus was John the Baptist, come back to life (after Herod had had him beheaded!). Others figured it was Elijah come back from the dead. Yet others offered up suggestions of various other prophets as possibilities. No one seemed able to grasp that Jesus truly was Who He claimed to be; the Son of God! Well, not exactly no one.
You see, Jesus asked His disciples the same question: Who do people say that I am? They had heard the same suggestions offered up to Herod and gave Jesus these same answers. It was obvious that even those who had miraculously been fed by Jesus a couple of verses before this, was greatly confused as to Who it was that had fed them. How strange their stories must have sounded as they returned home. I imagine something like this:
“So, what did you have to eat out there in that forsaken place?”
“You will not believe it, but the Teacher took a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread, prayed over it and distributed it among us. Everyone took and ate, but we never seemed to run out. Every time the food was passed from hand to hand, there seemed to still be plenty left. It was incredible!”
“Are you sure you’re not suffering from sunstroke?”
“No! There are more than 5000 of us all telling the same story. We can’t all be suffering from the same delirium!”
“Well, that is truly incredible! Who did you say this Teacher was again?”
“He goes by the name of Jesus, but I figure it must be John who has come back to life. You know, that guy who was preaching in the dessert a while ago, telling people to repent and baptizing them in water?”
“John?! Are you insane? If your Teacher had a head, I have a serious problem with your assumption.”
“Okay, well then perhaps not John, but certainly one of the prophets. Maybe even Elijah himself!”
I will leave the reaction to that statement up to your own imagination. As for me, I could suppose that it was much as incredulous as Herod’s had been upon hearing the suggestions: “John I have beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?”
Back to the conversation Jesus was having with His disciples. After questioning them about the opinions of the crowd, He asks: “But who do you say I am?”
Peter is yet again the first to answer. He always seemed to be the first. “The Christ of God.” This means the One that the prophets had prophesied about, the Son of God, the Messiah, the blessed One. It did not matter who you asked or spoke to, whether they got it right or wrong, everyone knew they were dealing with more than just another human being!
Jesus then tells his disciples NOT to tell anyone who He was! These are the same people who He has sent out to tell about God’s kingdom being at hand! Why should they not tell? Because Jesus had a mission to complete. He HAD to die and be resurrected to fulfill God’s will. He understood the importance of this act of obedience for reconciling man to God. He did not want fame, awe, wonder, or anything else to get in the way of what He had to do. That was His identity. He was the chosen One of God, who would die to save the world.
But then Jesus takes this idea one step further. Directly after telling the disciples this about Himself, He tells them that they too should deny themselves and die on a cross. Daily! They should follow Him! Jesus denied Himself when He died an excruciating and humiliating death on the cross. He denied Himself to be called God. He denied Himself to be called Teacher, Master, Ruler, Rabbi, Savior, Provider, Miracle-worker, or any other term that you can think of that befits Him, that He could be identified by, that He could be known as. And He is the One who tells us that we should do the same.
Now, let’s get back to my original question. Who are you? How would you identify yourself? The more important question is this one: are you willing to deny every part of every answer you could give to that question? Could you do it daily, as often as God requires it of you? When telling His disciples to do just this, Jesus said to them that only when they did this, would they truly find themselves. Let me show you what happened to Jesus directly after declaring Himself willing to physically do what God wanted Him to do. The very next verses hold the key.
We see Jesus on the mountain praying. He has become transfigured and had a brilliant glow about Him. With Him are the two dead representatives, the great figures of the Old Testament, Elijah (representing the prophets) and Moses (representing the law). And then, after Jesus declared Himself willing to deny Himself, God acknowledges Him, saying: “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”
Don’t tell the world who you are. Deny yourself. Allow God to testify on your behalf. Your true identity can only be found in God.
Melette Els (Clinical Social Work) can be contacted via the webpage www.m-e.co.za, or by email at info@m-e.co.za, or by phone at 082 776 1536.
Melette Els B.A. (SocSc) M. (Th) 
BHF Pr Nr.: 089 000 00 28754 SACSSP Reg.Nr.: 10-17310


Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy the books here:
You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
Jy kan Kom Ons Teken en Verf Tuinstories hier koop.
Jy kan Kom Ons Kleur Tuinstories In hier koop.
Jy kan Tuinstories hier koop.
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