Advent Weekly Practices—Week Two: Fasting

As we continue in our journey together through the Advent season, a second practice that can help increase our longing and hunger for God is the discipline of fasting.

“Fasting.” Just hearing the word can make us tighten up. Some of us feel guilt. Others become defensive or even angry. It’s a practice many of us have heard is probably a good thing and yet few of us engage it with any regularity.

Why is this practice so foreign? Why is it so difficult? Why do we run from it and then justify our avoidance of it? Why can’t we see the gift behind this discipline?

Richard Foster, in The Celebration of Discipline, reflects, “Why has the giving of money, for example, been unquestionably recognized as an element in Chrisitan devotion and fasting so disputed? Certainly we have as much, if not more, evidence from the Bible for fasting as we have for giving. Perhaps in our affluent society fasting involves a far larger sacrifice than the giving of money.”

While there may be no direct command in the New Testament for the Church to fast, the words of Jesus in Matthew 6 appear to imply that all of His disciples will engage in this practice. “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward” (verse 16). Notice He says, when you fast. His assumption is that his followers will fast.

Following this assumption, Jesus is teaching us that our motives are what’s really important when practicing fasting. If we’re looking for praise or some kind of religious trophy, we might receive that—but it’s all we’ll receive. Jesus offers a better way: “But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (verses 17-18). He is not saying we must avoid others’ knowledge of our fasting at all costs. The Bible is full of examples of corporate fasting (Acts 13 and 14, Esther 4, 2 Samuel 1, etc.). He is, however, concerned with why we’re fasting.

He wants our hearts. He wants us to be focused on Him above all else. He wants to give us a reward that can’t fade or be stolen from us.

So, despite our potentially-mixed bag of motives, we go together before God to engage with this practice. We want to put God first. Or, we want to want to put God first. We deny ourselves food to discipline our body, soul, and spirit and say that God is more important to us than food—than anything.

Below are a few ideas for best-practices and questions to consider for individuals, households, and Gospel Communities:

INDIVIDUALS

We’re inviting everyone in the church body to practice fasting on Wednesdays during Advent (December 4, 11, and 18). If you missed last week, that’s okay! Set a reminder for this upcoming Wednesday (or Tuesday evening) to join us.

What exactly is fasting? David Mathis defines fasting as “voluntarily going without food—or any other regularly enjoyed, good gift from God–for the sake of some spiritual purpose.” Some people, for medical reasons or otherwise*, can’t fast from physical food but that doesn’t mean they’re excluded. Many have found that fasting from social media, Netflix, particular activities or foods has shown itself to be a helpful way of intentionally engaging with God. Fasting ultimately is about refraining from one thing that we might engage more intentionally with another, namely God.

Sam Storms comments: “The ironic thing about fasting is that it really isn’t about not eating food. It’s about feeding on the fullness of every divine blessing secured for us in Christ. Fasting tenderizes our hearts to experience the presence of God. It expands the capacity of our souls to hear his voice and be assured of his love and be filled with the fullness of his joy. Let me say it again: Fasting is not primarily about not eating food. It is primarily about feasting on God.”

Take a moment before Wednesday to prayerfully consider how you might engage well with God through this practice. Many will choose to go without food for breakfast and lunch. Others will skip one meal or go the entire 24-hours only consuming water (or maybe a cup of coffee). There isn’t a hard and fast rule here; the end goal is to increase relationship with God and ask Him to increase our desire for Him.

One healthy practice is to use the time you would’ve spent preparing and eating food to actually stop and pray! We can miss the point if we simply work through the lunch hour to keep our minds distracted from our hunger. Use the questions below to guide your time in prayer.

Many of us will feel some negative emotions and attitudes rise when we go without the food that our bodies are used to. This is normal and can actually be a gift from God. It is often being revealed what is inside us all along – weakness, dependence, anger, greed, etc. We often use good gifts like food to cope and cover up our inadequacies without even realizing it. Take these emotions before God in prayer, and give yourself grace for these feelings that certainly don’t seem very “spiritual.”

*A note to those who choose to abstain from something other than food: You may decide that fasting from food is not a good idea because of a medical condition or because you are pregnant or nursing. Others may have an eating disorder or unhealthy relationship with food or body image, and this may not be a practice to try at this time. That’s okay! We’d encourage you to ask yourself before God, “What’s a good gift that I could give up temporarily in order to help train my heart to long for God more than His gifts?” Otherwise, perhaps now is a time to pursue healing and hunger for God in some other way. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your Gospel Community Leaders or a staff member if you need help walking through this.

Questions for individuals to consider or journal about outside the time of silence:

  • What are some things I hunger for or look forward to more than God?
  • Why am I hesitant or resistant to fasting?
  • How might my relationship to food or other good gifts be an indicator of what I long for?
  • What do I long for God to do in my heart through fasting?
  • What do I long for God to do in my community and my church through fasting?
  • What are some negative emotions, attitudes, and feelings that rise in me while fasting? Bring those before God, asking for forgiveness, healing, and dependence on Him.
  • Pray through this week’s confession of sin here.

HOUSEHOLDS

For families with small children, this practice may not be possible to engage with all together. Depending on the ages of your children, you may be able to choose one thing to give up together on Wednesdays like dessert or screen-time. Read through the “Individuals” category above and decide if you may be able to cast vision for your whole family to practice a form of fasting together. You may phrase it something like, “We wish we wanted God more than dessert, but usually we don’t. Tonight, we’re choosing to pray and ask Him to be happy with His presence instead of eating dessert, and thank Him that many days we do get to enjoy it.” Again, if possible, spend time praying together in the same time-slot you would have been engaging in whatever activity you’re abstaining from. Use the questions below to guide discussion or prayer time together.

For spouses and housemates, read through the “Individuals” category above and decide if you want to practice fasting together in the same manner. You may choose to keep each other accountable to practicing it (regardless of whether you practice it in the same way). Again, if possible, spend time praying together in the same time-slot you would have been preparing and eating food. Use the questions below to guide discussion or prayer time together.

Questions for kids and families to consider:

  • What is fasting?
  • Why does it sound hard?
  • Why could fasting a good thing?
  • What is a good thing we could give up for one day (or half-day) to spend time with God and ask Him to help us love Him more than anything else?

Pray that God would help us want Him more than anything else. He is the best thing for us!

Questions for housemates or spouses to consider:

  • What are some things we hunger for or look forward to more than God?
  • Why are we hesitant or resistant to fasting?
  • How might our relationship to food or other good gifts be an indicator of what we long for?
  • How might fasting actually be a good gift for us?
  • How can we help each other engage in fasting during Advent?
  • What do we want God to do in ourselves, our families, or our households through fasting? Take these answers to God in prayer.

Pray that God would increase our hunger, dependence, and desire for Him in this season.

GOSPEL COMMUNITIES

A few encouragements for this week’s meeting.

Like last week, at the beginning of your time together, set a timer for 2 minutes to engage in silence as a group. Encourage everyone to breathe slowly and think about Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Afterward, read Luke 2:22-38 together and feel free to ask some of the questions below. If time permits, read Acts 13:1-3 or Luke 18:9-14 and discuss these passages.

Because we’re stretching our prayer lives during this season, make sure to prioritize spending time in prayer together when you gather.

If fitting, end your time in a couple minutes of silence as well.

Questions for Gospel Communities

  • What is compelling about the life of Anna in Luke 2:36-38?
  • What does it mean to worship with fasting and prayer (Luke 2:37)?
  • Why is fasting so difficult? Why might you be hesitant or resistant to this practice?
  • How might fasting actually be a good gift for us?
  • What is your experience with fasting? Has anyone had a positive experience they’d like to share?
  • For those who fasted recently, how did it go? How did it affect your soul? Emotions? Attitude?
  • Read Acts 13:1-3 and discuss together. What is compelling about this passage?
  • Read Luke 18:9-14 and discuss the passage. What is compelling, convicting, or comforting about this passage?
  • What would you like to see God do through the practice of fasting in your life?

Spend time praying together that God would increase our hunger for Him as a church, above all other desires.

Advent Weekly Practices—Week One: Prayer of Silence

Listen to Advet Week One Sermon

Advent is traditionally a season marked by anticipation and waiting. Silence is one of the ways we can cultivate this practice in our lives.

In Exodus 14, when the Israelites face the Red Sea in front of them and an army of Egyptians behind them, God’s command for His people is not to turn and fight, to build boats, or even to labor in prayer & sacrifice. Instead, God says, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (verse 14).

It’s a plot twist. It’s counterintuitive. We’ve trained ourselves to think that the only way to make progress in any situation is to use our own strength, our own words, our own passion, our own intellect. And sometimes God, in His kindness by His Spirit, fuels our efforts to make progress. But we often fail to remember that everything was, is, and always will be held in His sovereign hands. Apart from Him, we can do absolutely nothing (John 15:5).

It’s too easy to forget that He is God and we are not. Our culture, our enemy, and our flesh are constantly bombarding us with messages that either distort this truth or distract us from this truth. Lies. Noise. Busyness. Hurry. How can we possibly rewire our hearts?

Sometimes we need to start by stopping. Stop working for a moment. Turn off the noise. Breathe slowly.

Sometimes we, like the Psalmists, need to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Enjoy His presence. Remember His love. Meditate on His kindness. Remember that we are not in control, and that’s a good thing.

Below we’ve provided a handful of practices and questions to help us engage with the “Prayer of Silence” as individuals, families, and communities.

INDIVIDUALS

During the season of Advent, we’ve asked that you aim to stretch your daily prayer life in some way. For some, this may mean setting an alarm twice a day to stop and pray for ten minutes. Others may want to begin each morning praying The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9–13). Still others may want to commit their entire lunch hour to prayer.

Regardless of how you’ve decided to engage in prayer this season, this week our practice is to challenge ourselves to begin and end our prayer times with silence before God. Our suggestion is to set a timer for two minutes before and after your time of prayer and sit in stillness and quiet. Pete Scazzero writes this on practicing silence:

All religions practice silence. What makes silence unique for us is that we are silent before the Lord himself. This will be difficult, especially at first. Our internal and external worlds are filled with noise and distractions. For this reason, silence is probably the most challenging and least experienced discipline among Christians today. Give yourself lots of grace here. Studies suggest that the average person or group can only bear fifteen seconds of silence.

Simple enough? It may be more difficult than it seems. Let’s aim to prioritize silence this week together:

Questions for individuals to consider or journal about outside the time of silence:

  • Where have I been looking for consolation (comfort, satisfaction, progress) outside of the presence of God? Which “temples” do I run to (consumerism, recreation, avoidance, etc.)?
  • How could I orient my life, rhythms, habits, and heart to turn toward the presence of God instead of these other temples?
  • How can I be intentional during this season of Advent to focus on what matters most?
  • How am I longing for God to move in my life? Sit with Him quietly, knowing He knows the longings of your heart.
  • Pray through this week’s confession of sin here.

HOUSEHOLDS

Because every household and family has different rhythms, schedules, and capacities, we won’t place any regulations on how to engage with this practice together. However, our encouragement is once again to stretch your home’s current rhythm of prayer during this season. Some may want to begin or end the day with a couple minutes of prayer together. Others may choose to pray at the end of the school day or for a few minutes after dinner. Once again, this week, if possible, invite others into a minute or two of silence as part of your daily prayer time. For those with younger kids, we know this will be a challenging practice! Read Psalm 46:10 beforehand: “Be still, and know that I am God…” and remind yourselves that God is present with you in the room.

Remember that the goal here is not to add more to your day, but actually to slow down and make the most of our days with God.

Another idea for families is to sing or listen to “Take a Moment” by Will Reagan together, followed by a few moments of quiet to think about who Jesus is.

Questions for kids and families to consider:

  • What is the season of Advent all about?
  • How can we help each other remember this together?
  • What’s something you hope God will do in your life?

Questions for housemates or spouses to consider:

  • Where does my tend to run for comfort and satisfaction?
  • How can we help each other run toward God in this season? What habits can we cultivate?
  • What rhythm of prayer can we actively pursue during Advent?

GOSPEL COMMUNITIES

A few encouragements for our Gospel Communities this week:

At the beginning of your time together, set a timer for 2 minutes to engage in silence together. Encourage the group to breathe slowly and think about Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Afterward, read Luke 2:22–32 together. Feel free to ask some of the questions below.

Because we’re stretching our prayer lives individually during this season, make sure to prioritize spending time in prayer together when you gather.

If fitting, end your time in a couple minutes of silence as well.

Questions for Gospel Communities

  • What is compelling about the life of Simeon in Luke 2? What stands out?
  • How do you usually feel during and after the holiday season? More present, grounded, and centered? Exhausted, chaotic, frantic, and distracted?
  • How can you orient this season around the presence of God instead of other things?
  • How can we as a community keep each other accountable to remember what’s most important this season?
  • How often do you spend time in silence? Why is it so difficult for us to be silent?

Engaging With Advent

HUNGRY FOR THE PRESENCE OF GOD

As the holidays are quickly approaching, we find ourselves in a season marked by so much potential for good and for engagement with God and others. However, we can also find some unintended guests joining us at the table: consumerism, distraction, busyness, debt, and even loneliness. What if we considered beforehand what we wanted to see God do in this time and then sought to orient our days and practices to shape us in the ways we want to be shaped; to cultivate holy longings?

We believe the season of Advent can help us do just this. Advent, which marks the beginning of the Christian Calendar, officially starts four Sundays before Christmas. This year it runs from December 1-24. It both looks ahead to Christ’s second Advent where He will return as a triumphant King doing away fully and finally with sin and death, and looks back to remember His first Advent as a humble baby two thousand years ago. Because we live “between Advents,” this is a season marked by expectation, longing, and hopeful waiting. It calls the Church to live in the gratitude of the “already” of what Christ has already accomplished, but it also teaches us to groan in the “not yet” as we await the return of our King.

This year, we’ll be looking at the life, practices, and longings of Simeon and Anna in Luke 2. We hope to learn from their affections and longings for all they can teach us in this season! We pray that God would powerfully use Advent at Park Church to increase our longing for Jesus and love for His kingdom through a couple events and practices.

TWO PRACTICES:

  1. Daily Prayer
    Whether you have a rich prayer life or haven’t prayed in years, we’re asking you to consider how you might stretch your prayer life during this season. For some, it may look like starting every morning saying The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13). For others, it may mean spending an hour in prayer each day, spending 10 minutes during each lunch break in prayer, etc. The goal isn’t to get prayer “right,” it’s to grow in intentional time with Jesus during this season. One helpful resource to encourage daily prayer is “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day” and is available at the Info Table for $10.
  2. Weekly Fasting
    We’re also asking that each person consider fasting from something on Wednesdays during Advent (December 4, 11, and 18) with the goal of increasing our hunger for God. Again, this is a discipline to help train our hearts; it has nothing to do with earning favor from God. Some may fast from food (all day or just lunch, for example). Others may fast from technology like social media or Netflix. Take a moment beforehand to ask God, “What might I give up on Wednesdays to increase my hunger for you?”

Click Advent 2019 Weekly Guides below to find our weekly materials and more resources.

Advent 2019 Weekly Guides

TWO EVENTS:

  1. Advent Hymn Sing
    Thursday, December 12 • 6:30–7:30pm
    Join us for an evening of singing through beloved Advent and Christmas hymns together. Come early at 6:15pm for cookies! Kids are invited to wear their pajamas to the event. Childcare is not provided, as families are encouraged to worship together.
  2. Christmas Eve Services
    Tuesday, December 24 • 4 and 6pm
    We gather on Christmas Eve for an hour-long service. We’ll sing together, read through the story of Christ’s birth, and hear a short message. Childcare is not provided, as families are encouraged to worship together.

Advent 2019 Artwork

The season of Advent begins on Sunday, December 1, running through Christmas Eve. Our artwork for Advent this year is by Jeremy Grant—keep reading to learn about the artist, the artwork, and its meaning.

Person

Jeremy Grant is an emerging artist and award-winning graphic designer. He was born in California in 1985. He studied Graphic Design and Illustration at John Brown University. Grant has exhibited his collage and assemblage work regularly across Colorado since 2008. An active member of local arts communities, Jeremy has been invited to participate in numerous group shows, donated art to charity, and been awarded a PPAC micro-grant. His work explores themes of destruction and creation, death and resurrection, and chaos and familiarity. Jeremy Grant currently lives and works in Denver, Colorado.

Piece

Isaiah 40Mark 1

Often during Advent, I contemplate the calling of John the Baptist—“to prepare the way of the LORD,” and to “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” This calling feels just as relevant for us as it was for him.

The people of God had been waiting for Messiah, their Savior King, for hundreds of years. Generations upon generations had lived and died and not seen the promise fulfilled.

John’s prophetic calling took him on a difficult path through the desert to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John was asked to clear the path for the coming Messiah, Jesus.

The scriptures that refer to this calling paint a picture where “every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low.”

The subject of the piece is a landscape that visualizes the work of John the Baptist—the transition from rough, mountainous terrain to open plains is making smooth the way of the LORD. The mountains are cut from pieces that I felt had a sense of static and a feeling of brokenness. We still live in a broken reality. Some brokenness is obvious and agonizing, and other times brokenness is characterized by the monotony of existence—the lack of joy, color, and celebration.

The extra-long proportion of the piece is meant to convey the passage of time, a sense of waiting and of a long journey still ahead. The dark to light transition hints at the coming sunrise, our current reality is dim, but the bright light of the coming messiah is a dawn on the horizon.

Click on an image below to enlarge.

The complete, final piece:

The sequential pieces, with Advent titles:

Process

Hand-cut paper collage inspired by the themes of the season of Advent.

At first, I sought to express brokenness through fragmented pieces—tiny windows into pain. Ultimately, this felt a little one-dimensional and I left it in favor of the landscape idea which had a more rich meaning (see final artwork above).

In another early concept, I envisioned cracks and a shattered pattern getting less and less cracked -the color getting brighter and brighter as the collage progressed. U;timately, I felt like it was—again—less robust of an idea, and cracks don’t really “heal themselves.” It’s difficult to express that idea, even though I liked the graphic potential of it.

Lastly, an image of the final collage in-process, before I added the pink squares. The squares sort of came to symbolize markers in the passage of time, little ebeneezers if you will.

New Staff at Park Church

We’re excited to introduce five new staff members to you this week. We’ve asked them each to share a little about themselves:

Christopher Frierson: Director of Strategic Development

I’m a husband-in-training to Jerusalem and a gushing father to Selah, both an Air Force brat and veteran, and discipleship is my jam. On the Enneagram, I’m a 7 (Enthusiast) with an 8 wing (Challenger). I love all things related to culture (especially food, travel and language), was a Human Resources Business Partner in my last role, an alumnus of Colorado Christian University, a performing arts junky, and I serve on the board for the Issachar Center for Urban Leadership. Fun Fact: I’ve never experienced a brain freeze!

Ryan Gannett: Director of Operations

I love journeying through life with my wife and best friend, Erica. We live in the Athmar Park neighborhood and spend our time exploring the mountains and hanging out with friends around Denver. I grew up in a suburb of San Francisco and graduated from Notre Dame. I’m thankful we don’t have to suffer through midwest winters living in Denver. In my previous role, I worked to help patients with chronic illness live healthier lives. I have a passion for building and creating both relationships and organizations that help people grow. My hidden talent is that I’m decent at making pottery and always looking for an excuse to practice and get better.

Margie Keith: Office Manager

My name is Margie, and I’m the new office manager and Community and Formation admin! I have attended Park since I moved to Denver in June of 2018 and I’m delighted to have a place on staff. A couple of fun facts about me: I was born and raised in Vermont (although I haven’t lived there in a long time), I love to travel internationally, and I can almost always be found with a cup of coffee close at hand. Looking forward to ministering alongside you all!

Josh de Leon: Connection Coordinator

Hey, my name is Josh and I was hired as the Connection Coordinator at Park and I am pumped to engage new congregants into the life of the Church! When I’m not at work, I’m usually found with a nice book, a cup of coffee and an itch to get outside. I look forward to what is to come!

Zach Foster: Park Teens Coordinator

Hey all! My name is Zach Foster and I’m excited to be the new Park Teens Coordinator! I am a Denver native who came to know Jesus while on a mission trip to Juarez, Mexico my freshman year of high school. Ever since, I have been passionate about revealing the beauty of Christ to teenagers just as my youth pastors did for me. I believe that winning our youth to Christ is crucially strategic for growing the Church and making a greater impact for the Kingdom in our city and our world. I am currently pursuing my Masters of Divinity with a concentration in Leadership at Denver Seminary. Important things you should know about me: 1) I love the Denver Broncos, Chipotle, Parks & Rec, and Nacho Libre a little too much. 2) My spirit animal is a combination of Jack Black and Ron Swanson. 3) As a part-time handyman, I can fix anything, except a broken heart. I look forward to getting to know you all in in the coming months and years!

Psalm 99—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms artwork and download artwork guides here.

Person: Danielle Damrell

Danielle Damrell is a local artist and small business owner. She started a custom art, design, and lettering company called Damrell Designs, LLC in November 2017. In the winter of 2018, she was the featured ornament calligrapher for Denver Zoo’s “Zoo Lights” and has designed and created over 500 custom projects for individuals and families throughout the country. When Danielle isn’t painting and designing she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and friends as often as possible. Danielle is passionate about Jesus, loving others well, and sharing about the transformational grace of what Christ has done in her life. Danielle is also a graduate student working on her degree in organizational leadership at Colorado Christian University, pursuing her long-time desire to serve in ministry someday. Danielle is currently working hard to continue to build her business and feels extremely blessed to turn her forever love of art into a career. You can connect with Danielle at danielle@damrelldesigns.com or on Facebook and Instagram at @DamrellDesignsLLC.

Piece: Mixed Media

This piece was inspired by Psalm 99. The overarching theme of this Psalm is praising the Lord for HE IS HOLY. To explain the relation of this piece to Psalm 99, we will start from the top and work down. The prominent gold crown in the top center is a representation of The Lord our “King” (v.4). Painted on the crown in small lettering is הוהי which is Hebrew for “Yahweh” or “The Lord.” The reason for the crown being a separate raised piece entirely serves as a visual representation of the Lord being exalted which Biblically means “to raise high” or “to elevate” (v.2,5,9). The angel wings on each side of the crown is a display of the description found in this Psalm of His royal throne (v.1).The gold found on the crown as well as raining down from the top is meant to show the “reign” of God from the source (His throne) as well as how that “reign” pours onto the rest of His creation (the world) (v. 1). Found in the middle of this piece are three mountains representing the trinity and the Throne of God sitting upon the highest “Holy Mountain” (v. 9). At the bottom of the mountains are shaky waves of darkness. This is a display of our fallen world shaking and trembling at the power and Holiness of our Lord and King (v. 1). At the very bottom, in the darkest parts of the painting, are small specks of gold representing all of us (believers) who display the glory and holiness of God who lives inside us, in this fallen world. The placement of these flakes of gold is intentionally at the very bottom, underneath the mountains, showing that we are to worship at “His footstool”; at the bottom of “His Holy mountain” (v. 5, 9). This is a hand-painted, mixed-media project in which acrylic paint, hot glue, extra heavy gel, and metal leaf were primarily used.

This piece was definitely my favorite piece I’ve ever created. I loved that, in order to design this, I had to take a deep dive into the Word of God and research what the original written words of this Psalm meant during the time it was written. I was challenged in the most amazing and growing ways by the Lord the entire time and for that I am so thankful.

Psalm 98—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms artwork and download artwork guides here.

Person: Tower

I’m from Little Rock, Arkansas, and moved to Denver 2012.

Piece: Digital Artwork

The psalmist paints a picture of a world obsessed with joyfully praising the LORD. The diagonal fields of color suggest an energetic song of praise rising from the four corners of the earth. The righteousness and salvation of God is revealed in the sight of the nations, represented by the circle. The LORD continues to move His creation towards its ultimate destiny, when the world has been judged back into wholeness, the former things have passed away, and God is able to dwell with His people.

Psalm 97—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms artwork and download artwork guides here.

Person: Beth Dryer

I am a Chicago-raised transplant that has been living in Denver for six years. I graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska with a B.F.A. in Studio Art with an art education endorsement and have been teaching elementary art in the public school system for eight years. I have been married to my husband, Adam Dreyer, for five years, and am the mom of a busy (almost) two-year old, Ramona. These two roles have given me immense joy and changed me for the better. I am a lover of nature and am most myself when I meet God in the midst of His beautiful creation.

Piece: Acrylic

Psalm 97 speaks of God’s rule and reign over the earth as the Creator. As Creator, God has ultimate power and authority over His creation and is ultimately victorious over the enemy. The words from this passage that resonated deeply with me and served as inspiration for this painting, are “proclaim” (v.6), “preserves” (v.10), and “light” (v.11). As a sinner, I am easily impatient with God and distracted by the creation. It is easy to see the creation as ultimate and turn the beautiful things God has created into gods. But, in His infinite goodness and desire to preserve His people, God calls us to remain steadfast and see His power. Over and over again, He demonstrates His might through great works, and even His creation proclaims His righteousness (v.6). This passage has become for me a call to see God’s glory, reject evil, and proclaim His righteousness, because this is where “light is sown”.

This painting is inspired by God’s claim over His people and His creation from Psalm 97. The white and black garden in the background represents the creation by which we are so distracted by—beautiful, but dark and incomplete. The single, colorful rose is representative of God’s power over His creation and the creation’s proclamation of the Lord’s reign. Through His power, we are able to see the light and the true beauty of the Creator.

Psalm 96—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms artwork and download artwork guides here.

Person: Alyssa Beck

Wife to Justin, mom to Calgary and Wilkie, in the graphic arena by trade.

Piece: Oil

Week after week I would walk into my church in Hong Kong where the nations physically joined in praising God. People from all over, of every color, were singing the same worship song in their own languages. I remember this emotional, staggering feeling being there. It was an awakening for me to the broadness of God’s reign and joy in seeing the evidence of His pursuit of creation.

I chose to paint a trumpet weaving in all the skin tones because I wanted to depict that booming sum that Psalm 96 stirs in me: the nations coming together singing one song to their King.

Psalm 95—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms artwork and download artwork guides here.

Person: Taylor Powers

Taylor is a photographer. She grew up in the mountains a few hours away from Denver in Woodland Park, CO. She got her start working in the non-profit industry, photographing and storytelling for a few non-profits in the anti-trafficking arena. She’s passionate about telling stories honestly and beautifully through the visual medium of photography. Taylor now works with couples and families sharing adventure photo sessions, and spending time in the mountains with her clients. She also does branding and lifestyle photography for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the Denver area. Taylor lives in Arvada with her husband Alex and their puppy Luna. They are expecting their first baby in September this year!

Piece: Digital Artwork

This piece was something completely different than the work I normally do, which usually includes a person as the subject. Spending time reading Psalm 95, I was always brought back to the description of the way God’s hand is in all of creation in verses 3-7:

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to Him.
The sea is His, for He made it,
and His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for He is our God…
(From Psalm 95:3–7 NIV)

I had a clear vision of a few specific places all blending together to make a collage of color and form, both celebrating His creation and responding to the call to sit in worship, in awe of the beauty of the natural world around us. These included the small details of pines trees in Colorado, the large red rock formations in Utah, and the teal waters of Lake Michigan. Creating this piece felt like such a personal form of worship, as I reflected on the natural and secluded places that have brought me closer to God. I felt called to sit in awe of His creation, and to make the choice to try and not “harden my heart” as this passage says in verse 8.