In my last post, I discussed some of the symbolism found in the cover illustration of my first Christian children’s book, “Finished: A Fictional Story With Heavenly Truth”. Today, I’m continuing the task of looking at some of the nuances and spiritual truths found throughout the images of the book.
Before I begin, I want to express my sincere appreciation to artist Terri Melia Hamlin for her work. Terri brought the pages of “Finished” to life with her passion and artistry. The book we created together would not be the same without Terri’s skill and devotion.
In the illustration above, we see Joseph constructing a pen for the family’s animals. Jesus is working, too, just a few feet away, on a very different sort of project. In the dust of Joseph’s workshop, Jesus has fashioned two small boards in the shape of a cross. Notice Jesus’ submissive posture as he kneels before the cross. The symbolism here reminds us of Jesus’ willingness to one day suffer and die for the sins of the world.
Notice also the stormy skies seen through the window of Joseph’s workshop. We’re reminded here of the darkness that “…came over the whole land…” (Luke 23:44, NIV) as Jesus suffered his ultimate fate on the cross.
The book “Finished” is a fictional story of Jesus’ childhood innocence. Still, the real-life story of Jesus is one that is hardly fit for the pages of a children’s book. The intense suffering and gruesome crucifixion of the Savior demonstrates all that Jesus must go through for people. The words of this event, as they are found in Scripture, do not seem to offer any hope of a happy, storybook ending. But, then comes the Resurrection and the entire narrative changes!
It takes complete reliance on God’s word to deal with the flesh, because the flesh has been given over to death, giving the devil more influence and supremacy over our hearts when we yield to it.
The flesh is always in conflict with God’s will and God’s spirit in us, because death can never be in agreement with life, it’s either we let Life have it’s right of way in our lives or rather, death. The less we spend In God’s presence, the more we feed the flesh with death which renders us more and more insensitive to the spirit of God and eventually remaining or becoming spiritually dead.
A break in relationship with God is an interaction with darkness, an infilling with death. In this fallen world, when we cease to breath in life, we breath in death. I.e. when we walk in the flesh and not always in God’s presence, every second in communion with Him in Spiritual songs, thanks, talking or listening to Him, we damage our hearts, hindering our being more like Jesus.
A break in fellowship with God, It’s like taking off one’s gas mask in a contaminated zone. Don’t wear yours only for an hour or less, but rather always, then you’ll have a healthy heart functioning to grow more. When we live by the flesh and not by the spirit, our hearts becomes like a room having a ventilator with more burning materials being burnt faster than it could ventilate.
The devil draws his strength from death, ( the weaknesses and corruption of the flesh ) whenever we yield to satisfy the flesh. When we listen to the flesh, we live by the senses and in actuality feeding the evil one to gain more influences to suppress God’s spirit in us.
Ask Peter and He’d tell you about how the flesh made him debt Jesus three times. And he’d tell you also, what Jesus said to him.
“ But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
[ Matthew 26:52 ]
Do not live by the flesh, or fight flesh with flesh, but rather;
“ Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
[ Matthew 26:41 ]
Our common enemy “ satan,” feeds on death, i.e. when we live to replace the hunger of God’s spirit in our hearts with the satisfactions of the flesh. Anytime we’re bored, it’s simply our heart yearning for God’s presence, the flesh only interprets it as boredom, because we’re too full of flesh.
There’s a void within us. Man’s heart is always and always open to receive either death or life, when we continue to sow to the flesh, we reap death, but when we sow to the spirit i.e. when we keep our hearts always in God’s presence we become filled always with God’s spirit dominating and renewing us more to be like God in every sense.
It takes total reliance on God to neutralize the flesh and when the flesh is swallowed up by God’s spirit, the devil finds no space to interfere or hinder our relationship.
We are like a building blocks, whenever we spend time with God our building increases. However, anytime we live to satisfy the flesh we decrease, we don’t remain stuck, it’s either high or low, there no neutral ground in things of the spirit.
Time with the flesh, is a gradual removal of the blocks that has being laid, and how great is that destruction when we spend more of our time living in the flesh and the world rather than inviting God’s presence into our hearts. It’s the same reason many aren’t saved, it’s the same reason many Christians are too weak to stand for long or rather unwavering, and it is the same reason only a few are being called and being used as a tool in God’s master plan.
This is hard to accept, but a Christian who is always constantly being filled with God can never open His mouth or think in his mind saying “I’m bored.” If you say you’re bored, know that you’re still more of flesh and less of God, because being filled with eternal life is being filled with eternal joy God, when we say “we’re bored,” then we should know we are too less of God and more of flesh, it’s a reflection death is fully at work in us than we supposed life is.
“ For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
[ Galatians 6:8 ]
I.e. He who sows to satisfy the flesh rather than God’s spirit, will reap destruction, destruction not to hell but a gradual destruction to his building, which can of course lead to hell when we’re hell bent on being disobedient.
Life ( God’s word or His presence ) becomes our building blocks. And death, surely to destroy our building.
A break in prayer, i.e. a break in fellowship with God in our heart, a break from being in the presence of life, is an invitation to the wrecker to wreck what has been built. Anytime we invite God’s presence into our hearts, it doesn’t matter if we’re born again of not, there’s always a building process on going, how much we choose to remain or maintain will determine the progress, either to salvation from sin or to restoration from death back to our original position and place In God.
Man cannot do or desire the things of the spirit only God’s spirit in us can. It takes God’s word dominating our hearts to become filled with His spirit that hungers and stays always in His presence, by loving Him through prayers in; hymns, spiritual songs, acknowledgement, thanks, talking to or listening to God through His word, whatever it is. Here’s a little scriptural references;
“ What should I do, then? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray also with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will sing
Also with my mind.”
[ 1Corinthians 14:15 ]
“ So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in
The faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
[ Colossians 2:6-7 ]
“ Do not be drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the spirit. Speak to one another in psalms,
Hymns and spiritual songs, sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God for everything,
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
[ Ephesians 5:18-20 ]
“ Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
[ 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 ]
When Jesus comes in our lives, He does so with the tendency of occupying our hearts with His spirit, making us a new creation.
However, to know God, i.e. to be more of a Christian, being Christ-like, thinking, talking and acting more like Jesus, doing what Jesus do, we must live not after the flesh or see through the eyes of the flesh, but rather, only on God, because He came into our hearts to build in us restoration through life. The flesh sows in us “death,” which hinders or destroys our building of God. Don’t take bricks out rather, add more bricks.
Death cannot conquer death, I mean; it takes Life to destroy the works death. Relying only on human wisdom, strength and ability will never bear good fruits, rather aggravates destruction. Because, reliance on the flesh in reality is; allowing death gain more influence or dominion over us. I mean, it is letting the devil have his way in our lives either to hinder our salvation or our relationship.
The devil came for one thing and one thing only, to stand against God’s kingdom, i.e. to destroy God’s building, and we are that building. One thing we should know; God will always complete His building, even if we fail to live fully for Him, because there’ll always be that someone other than us He’ll use.
Hey! The master took the one talent and gave to the one with ten. Going to hell is just a secondary plan of the devil, actually it is naturally the penalty of disobedience. The primary aim of the devil all alone has being against God’s kingdom, and since we’re God’s building, he’s there to always hinder our relationship by causing us to live only in the flesh rather than the spirit.
Everyone born of God cannot sin, because God’s seed remains in him as said in the scriptures [ I John 3:9 ]. However, through doubts and the desire to satisfy the lust of the flesh, the devil uses to hinder our relationship with God.
When we are born of God’s spirit, the flesh becomes the only channel through which the devil can talk to or gain access to us. It takes the infilling of the word to have the strength to resist satan, because he always comes to steal, kill and destroy. If he knows he cannot bring us to sin because of the power of God’s word keeping us bound, he’ll try to steal, and destroy God’s building blocks ( us ) gradually, by stirring us to satisfy the flesh, to live after the flesh and not God’s spirit. It’s the same reason I said;
If a Christian can say or feel bored, then he should know he’s lacking in God, because by satisfying the flesh the, his building blocks are been stolen, thrown down, destroyed to become less and less of God, leaving only a foundation if possible.
God’s speak from within our heart when we are born of Him, the devil can only speak through the flesh, our minds or what we feel emotionally, our senses. We only need to pay no attention, by giving God our attention. Our heart must be in constancy with God, that His word will become our thoughts and not ours becoming ours.
The flesh is the only channel the devil can steal from a child of God, we only need not to listen to the flesh anymore. This is why we pray without ceasing, to keep our heart in tune always with God.
We find it natural and comfortable to talk and listen to what the flesh has to say, we find it natural to satisfy the flesh and give God so little of our lives, because we’re still more of flesh and less of God. It takes the infilling of the holy spirit by allowing God’s word dominate us to actually allow His divine nature take hold of our hearts and live only by the Spirit.
It can be tempting and so natural to talk to, listen to and also, satisfy the flesh always when we are still more of flesh and so little, less of God.
Talk to Him ( God ) rather, have a conversation with Him, spent time with Him, invite Him in every little thing. He made you for a relationship.
However, God’s word remains the basis, for without being immersed in His word by feeding on it; slowly, attentively and repeatedly, it’s impossible to be filled with the spirit of life which aids in our weaknesses to live in the spirit.
To live in the spirit is to be always in tune with God. God is only awaiting us in a life time to move so He can move, He wants our relationship, but He needs us to move first. We only need move and ask Him to help us, before He does. Moving becomes our righteousness, His righteousness is to completes the rest, He only needs our genuine approval to silence the flesh and He will.
The thorn in Apostle Paul’s flesh might have led him to depression, a discouraged servant if he gave into it by seeing only through the flesh. Rather, instead of talking about the problem, he lived by spirit by relying fully on God waiting for God’s perspective. And God said;
“ And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
[ II Corinthians 12:9 ]
Paul persevered, he completely relied and waited upon God’s time, His answer. Relying on God doesn’t necessarily disregard the presence of our weaknesses or mistakes, but rather, propels us more closer to God and makes us stronger.
When God seems to delay, He does so only to strengthen, improve and renew us inwardly as a gold being refined. His answer becomes; “a gold of greater value.”
“ In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,”
[ I Peter 1:6-7 ]
What’s is that thorn in your flesh? It could be sin, doubts, a bad habit hindering your inward renewal to become more like Jesus, I don’t know! Whatever it is, rely only by resting always in God’s presence with a praying heart, loving Him and waiting on His answers. His answer is the rewriting of that thorn with the glory of a flower.
“ My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
[ James 1:2-4 ]
Deliverance is a complete erasure of everything that is not of God and replacing it all with God.
Each day has enough trouble of its own, but the Lord is faithful and He has promised to see us through.
“ Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
[ Matthew 6:34 ]
Only if we let Him, that is.
These thorns becomes what increases our love for God and our eternal weight of glory when we see them as a means to rely more on God, awaiting His answer. And His answer as said earlier is; an end to and recreating in us an eternal weight of glory.
“ Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,”
[ II Corinthians 4:16-17 ]
In this fallen world the evil one wastes no time after our hearts, we also ought to waste no time in communion with Jesus.
Jesus promised never to allow any burden more than we can bear. In all things, acknowledge God, acting your Faith by faithfully waiting on God’s answer. His answers turn it all to a greater weight of glory, not only to live above, but for the salvation of others, because we, a reflection of Jesus, by our stripes others are healed, restored.
For those who’re weak, still faltering or still sunken in death, Jesus is willing to restore and give you strength to walk with Him unwavering, all you need is; no longer hinder Him by doubting the delivery power and the strength of His word. He said to us in [ John 15:3 ]
“ You’re already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
Don’t try to fix the situation by your righteousness, invite the one who does, that’s your righteousness. And He’ll take care of the rest.
You only need say this prayer and maintain what you’ve received by relying only on His word and as you walk and live in His presence every moment of your life, by talking or listening to Him always in your heart and in obedience to His will.
Let us pray;
“ Lord Jesus, I believe and I accept you as Lord over my life, in Jesus’ name, Amen!”
This prayer, “I believe, speaks over all doubts, be it sin or weaknesses, hindrances to our relationship with God, whatever it may be.
Recently, I completed my first Christian children’s book. “Finished: A Fictional Story With Heavenly Truth” is the story of four-year-old Jesus and his earthly parents, Joseph and Mary. In the story, Joseph must construct a pen to hold the family’s animals. As Joseph works, Jesus is also building something. At the end of the story, Joseph ponders Jesus’ words that his project is “finished”.
I find that one of the most impactful elements of “Finished” is the artwork done by Terri Melia Hamlin. Terri’s illustrations capture the essence of the story while illuminating more subtle themes found throughout the book. Although “Finished” is a fictional tale, it contains deep spiritual truth, foreshadowing the cross that Jesus must one day endure and the victory of the empty tomb of the Resurrection.
In this series of writings, we’ll explore together some of the illustrations found in “Finished” and the Biblical truths they convey. To begin, I’ll use the cover illustration found at the beginning of today’s post, the image of Jesus hugging and riding piggy-back on Joseph.
This picture, to me, is all about the love shared between father and son. Each of us were made for relationship, and Jesus exemplified a loving relationship with his earthly parents. We see this most intimately in the Gospel writings of John, specifically Chapter 19, where Jesus, from the cross, tends to the needs of Mary and arranges an informal adoption between Mary and John.
While little is mentioned in Scripture concerning Joseph’s interactions with Jesus, we can infer the unconditional love and incredible respect between Jesus and his earthly father. Imagine the hours Jesus undoubtedly spent by Joseph’s side learning the family trade of carpentry. Think about the many conversations and lessons learned in the shadows of Joseph’s work bench.
Yes, Jesus loved his parents, Joseph and Mary. He understood and fully embraced the instruction of his Heavenly Father to ” ‘…honor (both) father and mother’ ” (Genesis 20:12, NIV). Even more importantly, Jesus loves all people and desires a relationship with them. His unconditional and sacrificial love is evident in the remaining pages of “Finished”.
I want to thank again artist Terri Melia Hamlin for her amazing work with this book. Further, I want to thank you the reader for your support of this project. May you be blessed!
Ciara looked forward to the party as the gang would be there. When her shift ended, she left the restaurant having changed into a yellow crop top, black miniskirt and high-heels.
It was a warm and vibrant summer evening in the city centre. Music blared from pubs and bars, punctuated by masculine belly laughs and female cackles. Ciara stood at the busy bus stop and observed the countdown sign, which showed the bus was due to arrive in five minutes. She texted Ellie, then lit a cigarette.
The bus came late. Positioned in front of the doors, she boarded first, climbed the stairs and once seated, texted Ellie again. The sound of a gentle sigh alerted Ciara to the presence of someone beside her. An upward glance revealed several empty seats ahead. Ciara felt uncomfortable.
The stranger gave her a shy smile and said, ‘Hello.'
Ciara’s thumbs froze over her mobile phone. ‘Don’t talk to me.’
‘Okay,’ he spoke calmly. 'If that's what you want.’
Ciara didn’t reply but shifted her body towards the window. If his leg strayed over she’d create a scene. There were enough men on the bus to sort him out.
The stranger kept quiet. He faced forward with folded arms and kept his distance.
She occasionally sneaked a peek at his profile. He appeared to be young with even features and was casually dressed. He'd probably get off soon, Ciara thought, but he didn't.
Twenty minutes later, the bus approached Ciara’s stop. ‘Excuse me.’
The stranger got up and instead of standing aside, headed down the stairs in front of her.
Damn! Now she faced the dilemma of getting off knowing he would follow her or stay on to the next stop and walk back. She considered texting Ellie to suggest a few of them meet her at the bus stop. But why the hell should this moron affect her behaviour? He'd be sorry if he tried anything. She'd bite his nose off, and even if she died, he'd have a job explaining that to anybody. Ciara smiled at the thought and alighted when the bus drew to a halt.
The stranger stood alone at the shelter, and she gave him a dirty look before lighting a cigarette.
‘They're really bad for you,’ he said.
'I don't remember asking your opinion.' She exhaled a cloud of smoke in his direction.
‘Can I walk with you for a bit?'
Ciara didn't answer. She rolled her eyes and started walking along the main road, feeling inexplicably unafraid. The stranger caught up with her, and they walked together. A few minutes later, she turned up a side street.
'It's not good for a woman to walk alone late at night.'
‘I know. I might meet someone like you.'
'No. Not someone like me.'
Ciara's phone buzzed, and she answered it. 'Yeah, I'll be there in five.'
'Going somewhere nice?'
‘A party. Not that it’s any of your business. You wanna get in?’
'I can get you in if you want. You can meet my friends.’ The thought amused her. They could get him drunk. Get him hooked up. Maybe with Alice. She was a bit of a weirdo. Ciara and the stranger turned another corner, and she arrived at the house. She texted Ellie to say she was outside. The door opened, allowing a waft of sickly sweet alcohol and noisy music to escape into the street.
‘Ciara! Come in, come in,' Ellie said and grabbed her arm, surrounded by her other friends.
'You coming?' She turned to look at the stranger.
‘No. I'll wait outside.'
The door closed before she could say anything else. Wait outside? He'd have a long wait. Ciara soon got caught up in the atmosphere of the party, where she danced, drank vodka, smoked cannabis and got intimate with Charlie. But her thoughts kept returning to the stranger. She left Charlie’s lap and out of curiosity went to the front door and opened it, not expecting to see anyone. But to her amazement, the stranger was sitting on the wall.
He turned around instinctively. ‘Are you ready?'
‘I'll just get my bag,' Ciara answered, surprising herself.
'Did you have a good time?' he asked as they stood on the pavement.
‘Yeah, it was fun. I need to call a cab.’
'Can we walk for a bit first?' he asked.
'Okay, but if you've got nowhere to go, you can't stay at mine. My parents are Christians with a capital ‘C.'
'You sound like you don't like them very much?'
'They live their life. I live mine,' Ciara stated flatly.
'Family is important,' he said gravely.
'Not to me, it isn't,' Ciara sang.
'It will be one day.'
'Yeah, when l have my own kids, maybe.’
‘Maybe before that,' he reflected.
'Oh well,' Ciara replied with a shrug.
'Can l see you home?'
Ciara considered this for a moment. 'Okay,' she said.
They got a cab and continued to chat until they arrived outside her house.
‘I'll pay,' he said.
'Thanks.' Ciara hesitated before opening the car door. 'What's your name?’
'Benedict,' he answered.
'Goodnight, Ciara,' he said and gave her a broad smile.
Ciara got out of the car and watched on the pavement as the vehicle speed away.
The following day, Ciara heard the news that a teenage girl had been raped and murdered after getting off a bus in the vicinity of the party. She almost stopped breathing. It had to have been the weirdo who’d befriended her last night. Switching on the TV, it transpired that the victim had travelled on the same bus and got off when she did; which probably ruled him out. Ciara shuddered, realising she’d had a lucky escape, but it felt like more than that. Benedict had told her it wasn’t safe to walk the streets alone late at night. He said that family was important. And days later, when the CCTV from the bus was released, she saw herself, but not Benedict. And Ellie had no recollection of seeing anyone with her when she’d opened the door at the party.
Ciara began to change her attitude about a lot of things. She decided to go back to church, much to the delight of her praying parents and became an active member of the youth ministry. As for Benedict, Ciara often thought about him, but she never saw him again because he had returned to heaven.