The Undoing of The Tower of Babel

I love how intricately precise our God is in His redemptive plan. I cannot doubt the love He has for me knowing all the things and people He aligned in order for me to know Him. God is the redeemer of all the things that have gone awry through the fall. Here’s a few things I’ve been learning through the book of Acts and how it coincides with  Genesis 11.

And while staying with them he [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with  the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 1:4-8

From my New Testament Survey class, I remembered to be looking for Acts 1:8 as a theme for the rest of the book.  One of the ways you can divide up Acts is geographically- Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world. We can see the expansion of the Church by where it began to spread, through whom, and how.

I continued reading and got to the Day of Pentecost. This was what the apostles were waiting for. Jesus, essentially, said, “Go back to Jerusalem, wait for this promised Holy Spirit that the Father is sending…” Now, I know this story. They were all together, hanging out, probably praying. Then this storm from Heaven came in through the room and everyone had the Holy Spirit fall on them and then they could speak in tongues. Cool. End of story.

Nope. Not even close.

As I was re-reading this, I saw a couple really cool things stick out that I wanted to share because it literally blew my mind.

1. God will plan an outreach without your foreknowledge and do it better than you would have.

The apostles + others just received the Holy Spirit and were uttering in these different languages. They created quite the stir and people from other countries that were in Jerusalem were drawn in. They heard the apostles and other Christians speaking in their native languages.  Now, before you’re like, “Maybe some of them were bilingual…”, from what I counted there were 11 nationalities represented. Eleven. I don’t even know what that would be.. Octolingual+1?

Not only are the apostles and other Christians speaking it, they are declaring the glory of God to them. They are preaching the Gospel to people of other languages  for the first time. Obviously Romans was written after this, but we see that faith comes through hearing. God’s heart is huge for the nations and for the people in your town, next door and the nations.

Y’all. This was the first international ministry outreach and it wasn’t even done on purpose. Well, God knew and planned it, but it wasn’t planned by the apostles. Peter stands up, preaches the gospel, and 3,000+ are saved.

2. The fact that “speaking in tongues” was the first thing the Holy Spirit did when He came to live in Christians is of great importance in showing the missional heart of our God.

Let’s remember, Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel. Synopsis: man wanted to make a name for themselves, so they all rallied together to build a city and tower that took them up to Heaven. They essentially, wanted to be gods and make a path to Heaven for themselves. So, God did the only loving thing a Heavenly Father would do and caused them to all speak different languages.

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.  And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”  And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come,let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.”  So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Genesis 11:1-9

Here’s the cool thing: God cares about all the nations. He cares about the people that you and I can’t communicate with because of this barrier. As He gave the first church this gift of speaking in tongues as the first gift, we see here that He is undoing the Tower of Babel. The people who built the tower of Babel were trying to make a way to Heaven. It was an unsuccessful one. God has given us a way through Jesus.

The apostles had this message of Hope, but they only had it in like Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew [I think.]. God gave them the gift of tongues to be able to share the way to Heaven and share the hope offered in Jesus. That’s really cool right? I mean, it could have been anything that God did, but what better way to advance the kingdom than the ability to proclaim it in all the world’s languages?

I love finding more and more glimpses of God’s heart for the nations, but also I love seeing how He loves to invite us into partnership with Him. It wasn’t the apostles that could have advanced the Gospel. It’s His Spirit that causes us to love Him. It’s His Spirit that moves in us and through us. God can redeem the whole world without us, but He chooses to involve us in His work. I am just so amazed at how awesome that is.

It’s late, so I probably could have done a better job explaining that. Thanks for sticking with me to the end if you’ve gotten this far. 🙂 Please comment below with your thoughts and if this post encouraged you, please share the link on Facebook! 🙂

DISCLAIMER: I’m not taking a stand for or against modern day use of speaking in tongues, by the way. I am just sharing thoughts on what’s in the Bible. So. Yep.

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The Surprising Sovereignty of God

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Sometimes I am shocked by God’s sovereignty. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it really does every time I experience Him as my sovereign Lord. It sets me back a little bit in humility thinking, “Wow, Jesus! You care that much to show up in my life in THOSE details and in THAT way.” It just really does amaze me.

Tonight I sat down to spend some time with the Lord and just began to pray. I am on steroids that have been dubbed as made by Satan himself, so I have been feeling so moody, grouchy, hungry all the time, and struggling with insomnia. [Sidenote: Prednisone, you’re horrible]. I sat down to pray about my emotions and really wanting to push through those to meet God in a sweet time of worship through the word. Over and over I kept hearing, “Feelings and experiences do not equal truth.” That’s odd. But thanks for that Jesus, I guess.

But you know what? I needed to hear that. I struggle, really, with projecting emotions and past experiences onto other people and God. And as a result, I have a hard time believing God’s word.

I started to look at a journal from STINT and was encouraged by the entry for April 29, 2013. It was on the miracles of Jesus in Matthew 11. It noted that we can know and trust that Jesus was the messiah because He fulfilled every prophecy concerning the promised savior. I was so excited to read that, “Matthew 11- evidence Jesus gives that he is the promised Messiah: blind receive sight, deaf hear, lame walk, dead are raised, poor in spirit have good news. Isaiah 61:1-3. In all these miracles, we see Jesus is reversing and undoing the impacts of Genesis 3.”

I began reading where my ESV yearly devotion left off, in Isaiah 30. I began reading about Judah not trusting the Lord’s promise to save them from the.. ugh.. history is so not my thing. Assyrians? Anyways, instead of trusting the Lord, they rebelled. They sought out protection from tangible allies (ie Egypt. Less we forget, God had to rescue them from the Egyptians via Moses). They ran back into the arms of oppression due to fear and lack of trust. They allowed their emotions to steer them away from trusting the Lord.

Depressing right? Well, it gets better.

I continued reading in verse 15, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength…” The Lord had already promised protection and deliverance. He’s asking them to trust Him. Repent. Trust. Be still and know.

I continued reading and then all of the sudden something clicks. In the promises of God from verses 19 onward, we see something eerily (probably not the best word) similar to Matthew 11.

[19] “You will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry, when He hears it, He will answer you.” The deaf hear…

[20] “…He your teacher will no longer hide himself, but your eyes will behold your teacher.” The blind receive sight…

[21] “Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’….” The deaf hear, the lame walk…

[29] “You will have songs as in the night when you keep the festival. And gladness of heart when one marches to the sound of the flute, to go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel…” The poor in spirit will have good news…

Amazing.

The soverign God of the universe, who holds all things together, orchestrated this time together with me. I am just so amazed at how the Lord speaks to us and sees us. How funny is it that this was my reading for today and it aligned with something I read while living in Africa exactly one year ago today. Amazing.

Is He speaking to you today? If so, comment below with how! 🙂

The Longest Plan of Salvation, Like Ever.

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I’m a details kind of gal. I can’t help it. I blame it on my ADD. Mom used to say that when she would ask me to clean a room, she’d come back 45-minutes later to see the room looking like a disaster. But let me tell you, the window panels were cleaner than the day we got them. I’ve always been like that. I tend to be very focused on the details that make up the big picture.

When I sit down to study scripture, I am the same way. I spent about nine months in the book of Colossians, daily dissecting every single word in the book. I have to remind myself before studying to read the book fully first. I have to see the big picture, so I won’t miss the forest for the trees.

Today I sat down to study Romans. Lord bless it. I was in 1:1-4 for two and a half hours. I love connecting with the Lord that deeply, but I know (time wise) that’s not sustainable for everyday life. I wanted to share some thoughts on how cool these verses are:

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our lord,

Why are these verses important?

It’s important because it sets up verses 5-6. Well, and all of Romans concerning God’s plan of salvation.

I tried to sum up what these verses were saying. Here’s what I got, “The gospel of God was promised by God through His prophets in the OT. The gospel was always about Jesus-who was a descendant of David in the flesh and the Son of God in power, proven by his resurrection.”

Why are the Prophecies important? 

I thought to myself, “Why is it so crucial that Paul is confirming Christ’s fulfillment of prophecy to the church in Rome?”

One reason, I think, was to reaffirm that YHWH, the Lord our God, is the one true God and is sovereign over all creation. Looking back at the early Roman church, most of the people there were gentiles having come from a long line of polytheism. It’s essential to point out that there is only one God and He has made a way for redemption.

One cool thing is that these verses show is that Jesus Christ dying for the sins of man and conquering death through resurrection was God’s plan of redemption from the beginning of time. It wasn’t a “Whoops! Let’s see how this turns out and if I like this generation I’ll choose to save them, and if not oh well!” kind of thing. This was His plan because of who God is. The Lord’s character is consistent and has been since the beginning of time. His plan attests to that.

From cover to cover, we see that this was God’s plan and He has been faithful to complete it for His glory.We can see in Genesis that it is God’s plan for Jesus to crush the head of the serpent. In Revelation, we see Christ’s second coming and conquering sin, death and Satan for all eternity. It’s the same promises in all of scripture for all time that are all fulfilled by Christ. We know this to be true because of 2 Corinthians 1:20. There is not one promise that He has made that is not fulfilled in Christ.

These verses in Romans help show God’s goodness and His steadfastness to creation for thousands of years. And y’all, something I struggle with and fight to believe in? The fulfillment of His promises (that have already been fulfilled and will be fulfilled in Christ) are in no way dependent on me or my works. His plan for salvation was never “If you’re good enough, I’ll send a savior.” It was His plan to send a savior, and He is accomplishing it for His glory through which we benefit from that grace. It’s not about me. That’s a humbling position to be in.

Where in the OT is Jesus prophesied about?

Firstly, who even claimed (besides Paul) that the prophets were talking about Jesus? Well, in Luke 24, Jesus claims that!

In regards to the prophetic books, I don’t know about you, but I only ever really think about Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah. I think of all those verses that we look at around Christmas about the birth of Jesus. I looked it up in my ESV Study Bible (Thanks Steph Norris!) and found that there are former prophets, minor prophets and the main four everyone typically thinks of. And you know what’s cool, if you add up all the prophetic books in the OT, there are 22 in the OT. We all know, thanks to the help of the Jesus Storybook Bible, that all the stories in the Bible are about Jesus. It doesn’t matter if they are a “prophetic book” or not. But what is so cool is that the promises of the prophets in the OT are concerning His son, Jesus. That’s really cool! 22/36 books in the OT testify to Christ’s coming. Awesome.

Just to encourage you today that the gospel is God’s plan for salvation from the beginning of time, here’s a few verses I found in the OT that encouraged my heart that this whole Christianity thing isn’t made up. It’s too consistently true over mass amounts of time to be a lie.

Micah 5, Isaiah 53, Isaiah 42:1-9, Daniel 7:13-14 (cf. Mark 14:61-62 and Rev. 19:11-16).

Respond

One thing I think we can do as we reflect on these verses is ask God to make this truth deep to us. Worship Him that it is true and seek to dig deeper into His gospel of Grace, Mercy and Redemption.

He’s so good, y’all.

 

The Character and Nature of Christ In Us

 I’ve been going through the book of Colossians for the past 3 months. It’s been great to go through a small section, meditate on it, chew on it, and dive deep into what God is trying to tell me. I’ve been in Colossians 3:12-13 for over a week. It’s been more of a practical application rather than a “sit and study” type of passage. There are several things in scripture that we can logically study and never gain any heart knowledge from or learn how to be obedient with (ie: patience, love, serving, humbleness, meekness, etc). I can read all day about how we are to love our Christian brothers and sisters and Christ and still fall desperately short of God’s glorious standard of what perfect love is. Relying upon my own knowledge will never produce the fruits that come from being connected to the Vine.

Colossians 3:12-13 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

The “Put on then…” part is an implication segment which points back to verses 5-11 where Paul tells us to take off what is earthly in us (impurity, sexual immorality, evil desire, anger, wrath, malice, etc). This is also known as dying to self or putting to death the flesh. So, we’ve taken off the bad and we’re putting on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. How lovely. That was a good read. I’m done. Right?

Walking in this new life God has for me is an act of my will. Salvation is through His grace alone and not of anything I could ever do, but I have the active choice to daily take off the flesh and put on Christ.

One of the cool things about these verses was that all of these attributes are what accurately represents Christ. Compassionate hearts: He has compassion on the masses (Matthew 9:36). Kindness: He dies on the cross for wicked, rebellious people (Eph. 2:7). Humility: He, who is God, humbled Himself to the Father’s will and died for us (Philippians 2:8). Meekness: Jesus bore the sinner’s cross, although He knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). And finally, patience: I know this isn’t the most appropriate description, but sin screwed up God’s masterpiece. Sin entered the world because of our representative, Adam. After God made atonement for sin, we still rebell. And again. And Again. And again. And yet, He still loves us. He is in a constant pursuit to restore us back to Him, which is why He sent His son to die on the cross for us. If that isn’t a perfect example of patience, I don’t know what is.

We’re here, all people, to be a representative of God. We’re here to give Him glory by reflecting His character.  Christ was all of these things. We are to walk in step with God to show those around us who God is.

A lot of our Muslim students will say, “The Qur’an is a lot like the Bible. It tells you what to do and what not to do.” Friend, the Bible explains how you can be reconciled to God and how to walk with Him after you’ve been reconciled to Him through Christ’s death on the cross. It isn’t a list of things to do and not do in order to present yourself as blameless before God. We cannot make ourself clean enough before Him.

As Paul would say, I am not perfect and have not obtained perfection. I still struggle with putting to death the flesh and choosing God over my impatience, frustration, bitterness, and overall moodiness. I just think it is very cool to learn that the sanctification process isn’t about us. It’s about God refining us so that we can more accurately represent Him in the world and give Him all the glory. Super cool.

Jesus as the God Man

I realized the last blog post I did, I forgot to actually finish that segment of scripture. I meant to go over verse 23 as well, but I was sick with a sinus infection/allergies/strep/typhoid fever so I wasn’t mentally all there. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong, so I’m just going to say it was a sinus infection.

In the beginning of the last post I talked about how God has had me in Colossians for a while. I know that the reason for this was so that I could get a more clear understanding of the beauty of the gospel. What I failed to tell you during my last blog was that this summer, during our doctrinal courses, I was so confused about a lot of stuff. I know certain things are  true because scripture says so, I just hadn’t ever really had to unpack things like the trinity. I know Jesus was sent by Father and we have the Spirit and they are all the same God, but really thinking about it and trying to understand it was such a stumbling block for me.

Jesus was/is God, but while He was on this earth He talked to the Father who is in fact the same God that Jesus is. I know. Confusing. That’s what I’m saying! But, these are things that I’ve had to work through in faith knowing that I cannot fear these questions. God is truth. God is who He says He is even when my very limited mind cannot comprehend. There isn’t any question that can be asked that would turn me away from the Truth I’ve found if I’m looking to God to answer it. I can’t stump Him. I’ve been fearful of a lot of my questions, but instead I should be rejoicing that I am getting the opportunity to dig deeper into my faith and understanding of Christ!

One really great resource that’s available online is The Resurgence. They do a lot of training, blogs, books, and conferences that help to raise up Christian leaders. I love this source of wisdom!

I was reading one of the blogs today written by Justin Holcomb (director of the Resurgence, author of Rid of My Disgrace). The blog was called Nestorius:Know Your Heretics. And if you click on that link and think “The only thing I really understand is the joke about double rainbows,” trust me, I’m in the same boat! A lot of that was way over my head too. The part about Nestorius though really made me think about the struggles I’d had this summer with the trinity. I was having a hard time comprehending Christ’s diety (not so much with my heart and faith, but more so with my mind, does that make sense? It’s like you see a person living and breathing, but you don’t understand all of the biological components that make it possible). And I just got to thinking about Nestorius’ theology on the two separate entities of Christ.

How does this effect our salvation?

Okay, well my first question was, “if Christ was here on this earth in two separate persons which one died on the cross as a penalty for my sin?”  Cause if it was just the man Jesus and not God, then he has the imputed sin from Adam and as a result would have been sinful and in need of someone to pay the price for His sin. It couldn’t have just been a man on the cross.

Another question that I had was, “If He was just fully God then would he have been able to die at all?” There is so much there to unpack, so I’ll spare you all of that, but basically we could get into a whole other area of crazy theology that.. nevermind. I’ll spare you that too. There had to be a sacrifice and blood atonement for our sin.So, it couldn’t have possibly just been God to die on the cross. Chapter 2 of Vintage Jesus has a great part on this that I’ll just point you to Driscoll to read. Or read here from John Piper. Or look here from CARM.

Anyways, it was good to read that blog and to wrestle once again with this idea, but God had been preparing my heart and mind this past month to look to Him for answers to the tough questions. So, I conclude with verse 23,

if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Super sweet that this is a reminder to not be easily carried away by the “plausible arguments,” rather continue in the faith by being rooted in Christ and standing firm in Truth. One of the things I really like about Colossians chapter one and the beginning of chapter two is that Paul lays out the gospel and Christ’s diety in Chapter one and rebukes people for believing a false gospel in the beginning of chapter 2. He’s like, “dude. I just let you know that truth is. Just in case you were confused before, compare what you are hearing to the last 6 paragraphs.”

I am confident that when we seek the truth we will find it. And it will be in Jesus alone because He is the truth. He is the way to God, and in Him is life and life in abundance!

So, sorry this post was so long! I am again thankful for your grace and that I can say, “I have struggled with understanding this,” and you guys don’t condemn me or think I can’t offer anything because of it. I appreciate your grace and encouragement!

**Disclaimer: I, obviously, have not studied Nestorius enough to know exactly what his 40-page creed was about. So, if my questions really don’t have anything to do with his theories, that’s okay. I thought they were good questions to ask anyways. 😉

Col. 1:21-22 When the Gospel Comes Alive

For the past month, God has kept me in Colossians Chapter 1. There are a number of things in this chapter that I believe, but I had a hard time understanding. God’s situated this time for me to specifically dwell on the diety of Christ and what that means in relation to the gospel.

The other night I was doing my devotional study over a segment of Colossians. Here’s what I took away from Colossians 1:12-23 with special emphasis on verses 21 and 22.

Verses 15-20: Paul is explaining the preeminence and diety of Christ. He is:

  • the image of the invisible God
  • the firstborn of all creation
  • the head of the body (church)
  • the beginning
  • the firstborn of the dead
  • preeminent
  • through Him all things were made
  • everything was made for Him
  • All things hold together in Him
  • reconciliation comes through Him
  • peace is made by the blood of the cross AND
  • all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in Him.
Now that we have that out of the way… Starting in verse 21:
“So you, Mary, you who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds…”
V21 This verse represents my spiritual condition before Christ. I was alienated from God. Hostile in mind which is opposite to the mind of Christ. And I was doing evil deeds. So often my heart can become calloused to the gospel. This verse is so personal and truthful to where I was at. I know all three of these attributes to be true of me.
One cool thing I noticed about this verse was the order of our condition. First, we are alienated/separated from God. That’s our inherant spiritual condition, thank you Adam. Next is that we are hostile in mind. I picture Adam and Eve before the fall being so blissfully, ignorant of the possibility of evil existing because it didn’t in their world. Then I look at CNN today. There’s so much manipulation, abuse, and crime that we are almost absolutely numb to it’s effects. Because we’re sinful and separated from God, we are hostile in our thinking. I know, even now being a daughter of the Most High, I still entertain thoughts that do not honor God. Lastly, evil deeds. Romans talks about surrendering your thoughts so that they aren’t given the opportunity to become your actions. Again, super cool.
Vs. 22 “…He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him…”
There is so much to say about this verse.
  1. Before–> alienated. Christ reconciles us to Himself through His death on the cross as payment for our sins. After–> restored! My friend and I were talking earlier this week about how God is so merciful to have given us a way to know Him. Oftentimes the argument comes up that there can’t possibly be only one way. My friend, Joel, said something that was so simple yet so profound, “Praise God there is even one way.” The wages of sin is death; we earn death from our sins. But God has reconciled us to Himself through the atonement of Christ’s death on the cross.
  2. The second part of this verse talks about us being presented as holy and blameless and above reproach before Him. So, let’s rewind. Before we were separated from God, hostile in mind, and doing evil deeds. After Christ reconciles us, we are holy, blameless, and above reproach in the eyes of God. Can I just remind myself that God is holy? I mean, shoot, He created holy!  Okay, just making that clear… for myself of course!
I love that these verses don’t deny how broken, sinful, and in need of a savior we were/are. V. 21 starts out with who you once were. These verses aren’t like, “Aw, Mary you’ve just been doing such a great job being good… (rabbit trail, who defines good?).” Paul writes (this is Mary’s interpretation similar to the Message: Remix but on RedBull), “Girl, let me tell you where you were at. Alienated. Sinful. Corrupt.”
Only God could have scripted such a beautiful and perfect redemption story. In spite of our hostile minds and evil deeds, God sent His son to die on the cross so that we could be reconciled to Him, called holy and blameless by the Most Righteous Judge. Is this not good news?
We who were once hostile in mind now are able to have the mind of Christ. We were enslaved to sin and indebted to God because our evil deeds earned us death. We are now blameless before Him. We are above reproach. Is this not amazing grace? We can stand with full confidence before the Holy of holies and be called forgiven, holy, blameless and His beloved all because of Christ’s submission to His father’s will. Praise God there is a way!
I don’t know of any other area of scripture that has more clearly given me an understanding of God’s mercy and grace. This hit me in the face and it is truly amazing.

Eschatology Versus Crafting

Well, I have been trying to sit down and make my brain concentrate enough to study the second to last doctrine study for Cru on eschatology. I tried it yesterday, but my brain just couldn’t focus enough to comprehend what I was reading. This is basically what happened tonight which resulted in these two fun creations:

New vamped up french bible and journal

I went and bought a new journal because the one that I LOVED ran out of pages. I got it from World Market in Daytona last summer and was so disappointed when I couldn’t find anything like it. I bought one that I wasn’t too fond of anyways because this is a necessity for Africa.

I have a bunch of fabric around my house because I will eventually be making “project mum” for a few friends, so I decided it’d be a good idea to use some of that fabric and cover the journal I just bought. I finished my journal and am still in the process of covering my french bible (the one on the left).

🙂 I’m happy with the outcome.

Now onto studying eschatology!…. hopefully!