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Holy Doodles: Cartoons to Contemplate

About | Newest DoodleArchive
by Trey Everett

About the Doodles

Holy Doodles are images that came to mind from meditating on scripture passages, books, past events, conversations with friends and family, and from simply trying to be attentive to God in my everyday life. Following each drawing is a short paragraph about the drawing itself along with a few questions to ponder. The artwork is designed to be thoughtful, introspective, searching, and challenging.

The cartoons are copyrighted, however you are very welcome to use them as long as you credit where they came from. My hope is that these pictures will stretch your mind just enough to cause you to think more deeply about your life with God.

Learn more:

Interested in more? See our intern Michelle's artwork...

Now Available for Order:

Holy Doodles: Volume 2
  • Holy Doodles Booklets
  • Greeting cards
  • Signed reproductions

More information >>

Also Available:

Newest Doodles

Free Your Mind Haircut Judgement Peace to You


More at Trey's blog: holydoodles.blogspot.com



Click on the images below for a larger view

"Free Your Mind"

"Free Your Mind"

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"Haircut Judgement"

"Haircut Judgement"

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Contemplating "Peace to You"

"Peace to You"

I recently ran across this quote by modern mystic Valentin Tomberg,

"Modern Science has come to understand that matter is only condensed energy. Sooner or later science will also discover that what it calls energy is only condensed psychic force, which discovery will lead, in the end, to the establishment of the fact that all psychic force is the condensation, purely and simply, of consciousness (i.e. Spirit)."

I have this mental image of a microscope peering into a table or a feather or into my own hand. The magnified image shows that what I saw on the surface, what I thought was static and solid, is actually composed of pure flowing energy. The energy itself is then somehow magnified and I discover that there is something even less dense than energy itself, it is prayers and attention and presence, a lighter and more spacious essence than even energy. But then those prayers are in some mysterious way examined to reveal that there is even a more basic, pure, spacious, fundamental building block that gives form and life to those prayers and that something or better someone is what we call Spirit or God or Life, Truth, Love, Peace or whatever name we choose to use.

A closer look at the hand image reveals that it is not actually made with lines but with words. “Peace” and “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you” from the Gospel of John 14:27 are what makes the image materialize. This, in my mind, is what we are all made of at the deepest most sacred most ineffable level. Our true, holy, pure essence (the image of God) is here at (actually within) our literal fingertips. To realize that this deep peace is cursing through our bodies as well as through the bodies of all those around us, and then to ever so clumsily allow this indescribable “Isness” to form and animate and guide us, this is what our life is truly about.

  1. What comes to mind as you look at this image?
  2. If at our core we are made of something good and wonderful why do we humans cause so much destruction and pain in the world?
  3. What are some things that seem to hinder you from living a life out of peace and love?
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"Who Are You?"

"Who Are You?"

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Contemplating "They're Just Words"

"They’re Just Words"

My first draft of this image was a person being smashed under a mountain of works that were carelessly falling out of another person’s mouth. There followed a number of revisions with each one showing more and more the destruction that words can cause. Finally I settled on this image; an entire city being destroyed. Are words really this powerful?

"A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything — or destroy it. It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell."
- James 3:3-6

  1. What is your attention drawn to in this image?
  2. What are ‘words?’ When you hear and see a language you aren’t familiar with the spoken words sound funny and the written words look like strange markings and squiggles. How is it that words hold so much power?
  3. Does the power of words depend more on the person speaking the words or more on the person hearing the words?
  4. Communication is difficult. We say things we know aren’t helpful or accurate. We think we hear someone say something only to find out they never said what we thought they said. Depending on what church we grew up in we interpret the same passages of Scripture differently. Why is communication so difficult?
  5. How do you think your life might change if you began to speak and hear with more intention and attention? How would this affect those around you?
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"Feeding the Mammoth"

"Feeding the Mammoth"

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"Money Talks"

"Money Talks"

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"The Mystical Body of Christ"

"The Mystical Body of Christ"

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"An Inordinate Fondness For Beetles

"An Inordinate Fondness For Beetles"

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Contemplating "The Great Wave"

"The Great Wave"

As humans we have this dominant river of thought flowing through our minds day and night. The river almost magically allows us to time travel into the distant past of our childhood or just as easily takes us into the imagined future. We, basically unknowingly, live in our thoughts of logic and desire and worry and regret. We don’t even have to try to make this thought world appear, it’s just always there. What is most important is not trying to stop this river of thought, that’s impossible, the challenge is not allowing our selves to be submerged and carried away from reality. Over time I have become more and more aware of this great flowing river of thoughts and just how overpowering they can be.

Recently I had an epiphany. I suddenly had an acute sense that my thoughts are actually far and away greater and more powerful than I had initially assumed. I realized they are multi-layered, thoughts within thoughts. Some are huge and vibrant easy to recognize, others are secretive and hidden and only in moments of great clarity do I realize they are there, some are subversive and drag me along almost against my will, others are like a vague gray background ever present. But these hundreds of different types of thoughts are all running at the same time. I realized thought is not a river but actually more like a bottomless ocean churning up wave after never ending wave with me right in the middle.

This image is inspired from the famous Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock of “The Great Wave.” The waves I drew are all made of the word “thoughts” written over and over. The bottom of the caption rectangle is partly covered by the wave showing that thoughts are more powerful than the conversation. The tiny boat, invisible at first glance, is even made of thought. However the two people in the boat are not made up of thoughts, indicating that we are more than our thoughts.

  1. What catches your attention about this drawing?
  2. How aware are you of the extent of your thoughts? Have you noticed subversive thoughts? Hidden thoughts? Multi-layered thoughts?
  3. If we are not our thoughts then what are we?
  4. So what if we live in our thoughts? How does this affect us negatively?
  5. What are the positives of living in reality?
  6. How can we avoid being swallowed up by our thoughts?
  7. God is not interested a pretend me. God is interested in the real me. God does not live in the past or future but in the present. What are your thoughts on these statements?
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Contemplating "I Am the Light of the World"


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Contemplating "All Numbered"

Bob's View Master

Look close; on some strands of hair there really are minute numbers. I used a very tiny pen. As I was working on this image I found that the amount of hair on a person’s head varies according to the color of hair (yes, hair loss too of course). On average blondes have around 140,000 strands, brunettes 110,000, raven black heads 108,000, and red heads have around 90,000. And God is aware of them all! In my mind this is just part of God’s amazing attention to detail.

In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Annie Dillard writes, “In the top inch of forest soil, biologists found ‘an average of 1,356 living creatures present in each square foot, including 865 mites, 265 springtails, 22 millipedes, 19 adult beetles and various numbers of 12 other forms….Had an estimate also been made of the microscopic population, it might have ranged up to two billion bacteria and many millions of fungi, protozoa and algae-in a mere teaspoonful of soil.’”  And yes, every microscopic hair of every living thing in that one square foot of soil is numbered as well.

  1. What captures your attention about this image?
  2. What details of creation amaze you?
  3. Why do you think God is so creative and detailed?
  4. How does it make you feel to know that God is so very aware of every detail of you? Why do you think you feel this way?
  5. What is God saying to you?

Download "All Numbered" [PDF]

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Contemplating "The End of the Kingdom of this World"

Bob's View Master

Maize (or corn as we call it in America) is grown around the globe. It is one of the world’s most widely used food staples. Besides human food corn is used for livestock feed, sweeteners, cornstarch, corn oil, ethanol, alcohol for beverages, high fructose corn syrup, and so on. Why not genetically modify corn to make it more resilient, more ubiquitous? We can end starvation, we can change the world for good, we can bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth! According to my friend Wikipedia, “86% of the maize crop was genetically modified in 2010 and 32% of the worldwide maize crop was GM in 2011.” Genetic modification has become a multi-trillion dollar industry and because of it the world is being changed …for better or for worse.

As I drew this image I was envisioning what the GM world of the future might look like. My mind creates a future where Corn has become God. With genetic traits from giant sequoia trees, cockroaches, titanium, petunias, sharks, cancer, kiwis, coral reefs, and wolverines (and many more too numerous to mention), corn now lasts for thousands of years, grows taller than any sky scraper, and is able to resist any conceivable threat to its existence. All other fruits and vegetables, crops and grains have long become extinct, but that’s okay because we are doing fine with GM corn. In fact GM corn is so awesome that we now build our cities, go to school and work, raise our families, worship, and live and die on these miraculous engineered marvels of human ingenuity. What could go wrong?

  • What goes through your mind as you look at this image?
  • What do you think are the pros and cons of GM foods and organisms?
  • Read Genesis 1:26-30. What do you see is our responsibility to creation?
  • John Muir said, “When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.” Do you agree with this statement? If this quote is true what does it reveal about how we are to work with and live in creation?
  • Are there any passages of Scripture you can think of that talk about the interconnectedness of creation?

Download "The End of the Kingdom of this World" [PDF]

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Contemplating "Bob's View"

Bob's View Master

Who hasn't enjoyed a View Master? I remember sitting around as a kid, my View Master pointed toward the sunlit window, staring in wonder at the oh-so-real images of Noah and the Ark. It was as if, for that moment, I was right there watching tigers being captured, seeing the devastating flood waters first hand, watching the dove fly from Noah's hand. What I didn't realize at the time was that an invisible View Master is actually strapped to my eyes, and everyone else's, all the time. This invisible "View Master" is our mind. Our mind converts, changes, and adapts reality into what feeds, protects, and empowers our ego. My neighbor walks across my front yard. I tell myself, "I work hard and I own this property. He has no right to cut across my yard. Who does he think he is? That's the problem with our society. Maybe I should put up a fence. Maybe I'll walk through his living room sometime. But Jesus says forgive. And if Jesus can forgive those who nailed him to the cross the least I can do is forgive my thoughtless neighbor. In fact I'll do more than forgive him I'll pray for his soul. He probably needs help. He probably needs a good friend and maybe that's what God wants me to be, his good friend. I will do that God. Help me to help him." What just happened? My neighbor walked across my yard, that's what just happened. All that other stuff is Trey's View. It's a make-believe world that I buy into every moment of every day. It's filtered reality that suits my ego. I begin to realize this when my wife says to me at supper, "I saw our neighbor pick up some trash out of our yard this morning. What a nice guy."

  • What catches your attention about this image?
  • What is reality?
  • Unlike us Jesus had no "View Master." What stories from the life of Jesus illustrate this truth?
  • Take a few minutes to remember an event or conversation that just happened today. What parts of that event or conversation are real and what parts of it is your commentary, your version of reality?
  • If this were an image of you right now what discs would you be holding?
  • So, once we realize we have this "View Master" strapped to our heads, now what?

Download "Bob's View " [PDF]

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Contemplating "Downpour of the Mind"

Contemplating "Downpour of the Mind"

I struggled with a title for this doodle. "The Power of Silence," "Protection," "Centering Prayer," and "Be Prepared" were a few of the titles I thought of before I decided on "Downpour of the Mind." We are constantly deluged with our inner dialogue. It keeps us distracted, shivering and focused on the unreal world we tailor make. Trying to stop the continual flow of discursive thought is like trying to stop the rain. We can't. But we can be aware of it and, like using an umbrella, simply observe it with out being drenched. The drawing illustrates how we can continue on with our attention to God and to what is real in the midst of the distracting downpour of the mind.

  • What catches your attention about this drawing?
  • What does the storm of words remind you of in your life?
  • What does the umbrella represent to you?
  • What Scripture references come to mind?
  • When was the last time you used the "umbrella?" What would help you use it more often?

Download "Downpour of the Mind " [PDF]

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Contemplating "Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah"

Contemplating "Blah, Blah, Blah,  Blah" Contemplating "Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah" Contemplating "Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah"
Contemplating "Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah" Contemplating "Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah" Contemplating "Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah"
Contemplating "Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah" Contemplating "Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah" Contemplating "Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah"

"All sin starts from the assumption that my false self, the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires, is the fundamental reality to which everything else is ordered. There I use up my life in the desire for pleasures and the thirst for experience, for power, honor, knowledge and love to clothe this false self and construct its nothingness into something objectively real. And I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could become visible only when something visible covered its surface." Thomas Merton

For another doodle on a similar topic see "Blow Your Mind"

  • What does this doodle mean to you?
  • Why do you think we have a hard time being silent?
  • What is the false self?
  • Why is it so difficult for us to deal with our false self?
  • Why is dealing with the false self necessary to developing a deeper
    relationship with God?
  • When was the last time you spent time in silence?

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Contemplating "Cussing"

Contemplating "Cussing"

One of my sister-in-laws and I have been having an ongoing discussion on the topic of cussing. Is it okay to cuss? Would Jesus have ever cussed? What is cussing anyway? The typical Christian knee jerk reaction is that cussing is really, really bad. I remember a number of years ago telling a friend that I didn’t think Carlos was a Christian because he said a cuss word. My friend stopped, turned to look at me and said in an incredulous voice, "You don’t think he’s a Christian because he said a cuss word?" I was taken aback. At the time I thought cussing was a very clear marker of your faith. My friend didn’t agree. The point of this doodle is to show how easy it is to be smug in our shallow faith. One can focus on all the "rules" of Christian etiquette while overlooking a life of compassion and love.

  • Do you think cussing is wrong? Why?
  • What is cussing? Why do certain words become labeled as "cuss" or "swear" words?
  • What are some of the markers (besides cussing) Christians use to judge if someone is a real Christian or not?
  • How does Jesus say we can tell if someone is a Christian?
  • How important do you think cussing is to God?

Download "Cussing" image [PDF]

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Contemplating "Jesus the Barber"

Contemplating "Jesus the Barber"

I really like this doodle. It shows how sin can completely overtake out lives and how Jesus is the only one who can take care of the tangled mess. At first I didn’t think I would come up with enough words to represent sin and the consequences of sin. But as I got going I realized it was actually easy to come up with words. I could have drawn ten more hairy men and still had plenty of words that describe our fallen selves. One reason I like this doodle so much is because while it is extremely detailed it is also very simple.

  • How do you feel when you look at this picture?
  • What scripture passages, if any, come to mind?
  • Choose five words that catch your attention. What is it about each word that drew your interest?
  • If you could choose one of the words for Jesus to cut out of your life what word would it be?
  • What images come to your mind when you think of sin overtaking someone’s life?

Download "Jesus the Barber" image [PDF]

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Contemplating "The Cure"

Lately I have been thinking about how messed up people, families, churches, countries, etc. are. It seems like we continue to grow sicker and more dysfunctional rather than becoming whole and healthy. We look for the cure in a variety of ways but in reality there is only one answer.

  • What are some of examples of the sickness of our society (individuals, families, cities, churches, etc)?
  • What are some of the "cures" we try?
  • What does it mean to you to be healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually? How are these three related?
  • What are some of the ways God can and does help us to become healthier physically, mentally, and spiritually?
  • Why is it difficult for us to accept God’s cure?

Download "The Cure" image [PDF]

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Contemplating "Risen From the Dead?"

Contemplating "Risen From the Dead?"

Everyone's excited about Easter, right? It's a life giving and a wonderful time of year, right? Well, not for everyone. It seems that Easter is not always so wonderful and "life giving" for "professional" church people. In fact, with all the Easter activities starting with Psalm Sunday, going through Holy Week, and ending with multiple power packed Easter Sunday services this most holy time of year ends up being one of the most "life taking" times of the year for preachers, worship ministers, choir directors, youth ministers, children's ministers, church secretaries, drama ministers, etc., etc., etc. After all the extra effort with organizing and recruiting and publicizing for the variety of activities and service that surround Easter and after trying to plan out a perfect and awe inspiring Easter Sunday service for double the amount of people that normally attend church, no wonder ministers breathe a huge sigh of relief when Monday morning rolls around.

  • Why is it the two holiest times of the year, Christmas and Easter, end up being so draining?
  • What can church do in order to make Easter and Christmas more life giving for the church and for its ministers? What can ministers do?
  • Do you look forward to Easter and Christmas? Why or why not?
  • Do you agree with the concept this doodle is teaching? Why or why not?
  • If Jesus was the minister of a church in America what do you think Holy Week and Easter Sunday would look like at his church?

Download "Risen From the Dead? " image [PDF]

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Contemplating "Kingdom of God"

Contemplating "Kingdom of God"Contemplating "Kingdom of God"
Contemplating "Kingdom of God"Contemplating "Kingdom of God"
Contemplating "Kingdom of God"

When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God he gives a variety of illustrations including mustard seeds, leaven, a net, and hidden treasure. There aren't any illustrations about thunder or earthquakes or nuclear warheads. It's all basically small, slow, quiet, hidden things. In Luke 6 Jesus says, "Blessed are you who are poor for yours is the Kingdom of God." As I was meditating on this passage the image of a snail came to mind. The snail, which represents the Kingdom of God, is slow, quiet, and small. It is everything that the world sees as weak, impotent, and unimportant. Even when the big, fast, and powerful kingdom of this world stomps the Kingdom of God it's really just an illusion. Although it is overlooked 99% of the time the Kingdom of God remains the glue that keeps all peace and joy and beauty in our midst. It is truly unstoppable. When it seems that this wicked world has crushed all hope, we can know that the Kingdom of God keeps going and going and going and going and going...

  • When you think of the Kingdom of God what comes to mind?
  • What are some of the parables about the Kingdom of God? What is your
  • Why do you think Jesus describes the Kingdom of God as slow, small, and
    weak rather than fast, huge, and powerful?
  • Where do you see the Kingdom of God around you?

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Contemplating "Flaming Fingers"

Contemplating "Flaming Fingers"

This doodle was originally drawn for the conversion series I drew a few weeks earlier. I decided not to add this picture to the series because it didn't really go along with the cartoon character theme of the series and because my daughter thought it was a really, really scary and creepy picture. It does look scary and creepy although I never meant it to look that way. The idea for this comes from one the following saying of the desert fathers: "Abbot Lot came to Abbot Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and according as I am able I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not be totally changed into fire?"

For a doodle on the same theme look at Contemplating "Conversion 301"

  • What do you think it means to be totally changed into fire?
  • Being in the desert (solitude, silence) is powerfully connected with conversion. Why do you think this is?
  • What do you think happens to Jesus when he was in the wilderness (desert) for 40 days?
  • Is there anyone you know who has been "changed into fire?" How would you describe them? What makes them unique?
  • What keeps you from spending time in the desert?

Download "Flaming Fingers " image [PDF]

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Contemplating "Cheers?"

Contemplating "Cheers" image 1

So I’m thinking to myself, those who think drinking alcohol is fine will look at this and shake their heads and say, "Of course it’s fine for a Christian to drink. How silly." And those who think drinking alcohol is not fine will look at this and shake their heads and say, "Of course Christians shouldn’t drink. How silly." And so now I’m thinking, "Why did I draw this? How silly." Actually I do know why I drew this doodle, which was not to try and persuade anyone to change their views on drinking but to draw attention to how we habitually and selfishly use the Bible to prove our particular belief system. How silly.

For doodles on the same subject look at "War or Peace?" and "Lectio Divina"

Verses used in the "Full Mug" doodle:

Jesus said, "Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you see that what you swallow can’t contaminate you? It doesn’t enter your heart but your stomach…" (That took care of dietary quibbling; Jesus was saying that all foods are fit to eat.) Mark 7:18, 19

"Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus preformed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. John 2:10, 11

Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. 1 Timothy 5:23

The man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Romans 14.3

Verses used in the "Empty Mug" doodle:

Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Proverbs 23:31, 32

Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. Romans 14:20, 21

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit…? …Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler. Proverbs 20:1

Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks. Isaiah 5:22

  • We often come to the Bible with our minds somewhat closed because our own ideas and theologies are firmly in place. We memorize and gravitate toward verses that support our beliefs while we twist or ignore verses that contradict our theology. Does this seem reasonable to you? Does this seem like a good way to approach the Bible? Why or why not?
  • How can we be more open-minded when we look at Scripture?
  • What are the dangers of being open-minded?
  • What are the benefits of being open-minded?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10 how open-minded are you? Why?
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Contemplating "Conversion 401"

Contemplating "Conversion 401" image 1 Contemplating "Conversion 401" image 2
Contemplating "Conversion 401" image 3 Contemplating "Conversion 401" image 4
Contemplating "Conversion 401" image 5Contemplating "Conversion 401" image 6

Conversion is about having faith. It's about believing that Jesus didn't just make up all that stuff he said in Scripture. Conversion is about taking Jesus at his word. It's one thing to say we have faith in Jesus and quite another for this faith to be evident in our lives. We can easily convince others and ourselves that we are converted and are therefore doing a pretty good job of following Jesus. However, when we get to the edge of the cliff and Jesus tells us to keep going, well...what we do next says it all.

  • What catches your attention about this cartoon?
  • Do you think the people who are running away in the cartoon are no longer converts? Why or why not?
  • What does their (and our) running away mean to you?
  • What is the cliff in your life?

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Contemplating "Conversion 301"

Contemplating "Conversion 301"

This image came to me after thinking about being "totally changed into fire." This phrase, being changed to fire, comes from the following saying of the desert fathers.

"Abbot Lot came to Abbot Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and according as I am able I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not be totally changed into fire?"

  • What do you think this story is trying to teach?
  • Who is an Abbot Joseph in your life, one who is encouraging you to go
    deeper with God?
  • What do you sense is the next "step" God is leading you to take?
  • How would you respond to Abbot Joseph's flaming fingers and his question, "Why not be totally changed into fire?"

Download "Conversion 301" image [PDF]
View original "Conversion 301" image >>

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Contemplating "Conversion 201"

Contemplating ConversionContemplating Conversion
Contemplating ConversionContemplating Conversion
Contemplating ConversionContemplating Conversion

What is conversion? Some see conversion as mostly our work, our decisions, and our desires while others see it as God's work. Some see conversion as instant understanding, forgiveness, and transformation. Others understand it as taking place throughout our whole lives. In this doodle God is taking action by removing the person's hardened heart, breaking it open, and revealing the Christ like heart hidden within. As I drew this doodle I was imagining that the person's deepest longing and desire is to be in relationship with God but the person isn't aware of this deep desire and even fights against God's involvement. How do you picture conversion happening to you?

  • What does conversion mean to you?
  • Is conversion an event or is it a life long process? Why?
  • Does conversion happen in our minds or in God's mind?
  • What was your conversion like?

Download "Conversion 201" image 1 [PDF]
View original "Conversion 201 " image 1 >>

Download "Conversion 201" image 2 [PDF]
View original "Conversion 201" image 2 >>

Download "Conversion 201" image 3 [PDF]
View original "Conversion 201" image 3 >>

Download "Conversion 201" image 4 [PDF]
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Download "Conversion 201" image 5 [PDF]
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Download "Conversion 201" image 6 [PDF]
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Contemplating "Conversion 101"

Contemplating Conversion 101 image 1Contemplating Conversion 101 image 2Contemplating Conversion 101 image 3
Contemplating Conversion 101 image 4Contemplating Conversion 101 image 5

If conversion was this simple!

  • What does having the mind of Christ mean to you?
  • What are some of the things in our minds (beliefs, attachments, perspectives, etc.) that keep us from being like Christ?
  • What are ways we become aware of the not-so-obvious "garbage" of our minds?
  • Once we become aware of things that hinder us from becoming Christ like what do we then do about it?
  • Silent prayer is one way for this transformation to happen. Look at the doodle "Silent Prayer" to find out more.
  • If you were the cartoon drawing what would be falling out of your head?

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Contemplating "Be Happy"

by Zoe Everett

Contemplating "Be Happy"

It seems that in America we are losing the battle of being content with what we have. Our overflowing garages, basements, attics, and multiple storage rentals attest to this truth. Our maxed out credit cards are another tell-tale sign. I mean, how many pair of shoes do we really need?! I wonder how our lives might change if we didn't overtly (and secretly) desire more and more. If we were truly contented people how would those around us, even the world itself, be affected? When a seven-year-old encourages us to "Be Happy (with) What You Have" it seems to me it is actually God who is getting our attention.

For another doodle on this same subject look at Contemplating "Fish Wisdom"

  • Why do you think we seek more and more? What could this lack of contentment in our lives be a sign of?
  • 1 Timothy 6:8 says, "But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." Is this realistic in our culture? Why or why not?
  • Do you know people who seem to be content? What is their quality of life? How are those around them affected by their contentment?
  • Are you truly happy with what you have?

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Contemplating "The Present Moment"

Contemplating "The Present Moment?"

How often I find myself thinking, worrying, regretting, planning, or reviewing the past or the future of my life instead of being in the moment. I miss conversations because my mind wanders into the past. I overlook someone because I let a future worry cloud my vision. Children don't seem to be like this. They are completely in the moment whether playing or eating or reading or talking. When I walk with my kids somewhere one of my children sees a bug and bends down to inspect it. Another finds a series of cracks in the sidewalk to cleverly skip over. Some formerly unseen steps next to a house are discovered and therefore need to be climbed. A leaf is picked up, contemplated, and carefully tucked into a pocket.

As we grow older we become busier. We have important things to do. We spend less in the here and now, less time appreciating what is going on around us, less and less energy simply listening, seeing, feeling, sensing what is happening right before our eyes. We no longer have time to contemplate a leaf. But the great truth is we cannot live in another moment of time, we can only truly live in the present. And since God exists only in the present moment it is only there that we can be present to God.

  • What catches your attention about this drawing?
  • Why is focusing on the past and future so easy and habitual for us?
  • "God only exists in the present moment." Do you think this is a true statement?
  • Why do you think it is so difficult to focus on what is happening to us at the moment?

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Contemplating "Prayer of Examen"

Contemplating "Prayer of Examen"

Should I go down this path or that one? Should I take the new job or keep my old one? What does God want me to do? What does God want me to change? How do I know where God is leading me? These are common questions that deal with the topic of discernment. Developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Prayer of Examen helps us become more aware of where God is in our lives. When we practice the Examen we begin to be attentive to times of consolation (what gives us life, joy, peace, love) and to times of desolation (what brings us anxiety, worry, fear, anger). When we notice desolation in our lives we begin to have a sense of what God is leading us away from. When we notice consolation, the fruits of the Spirit, we are actually noticing God. And once we begin to notice God our job is to follow wherever God is leading.

Practice the Examen:

  1. Choose a period of time to examine in prayer. This can be a day, week, or a specific event.
  2. Allow your mind to wander through that period of time. Some questions you might ask yourself about that period include:
    - What am I most/least grateful for during that time?
    - When did I feel a sense of love, peace, joy, life (the gifts of the Spirit)?
    - When did I feel exhausted, dead, drained, angry, mean?
    - What specific events, thoughts, or experiences draw my attention?
    - What aspects of that time repel me?
    - What moments from that time speak to me of my deepest desires?
    - What things feel out of place, uninteresting?
  3. Ask yourself, When did I notice God during this time? What felt like a time of God's absence?
  4. As some answers to these questions arise, notice what this tells you about the future. How is it that God is calling you into being? Toward what actions, activities, or attributes is God drawing you?
  5. Repeat this prayer at regular intervals in order to see how God is working in your life.

Taken from Creating a Life with God by Daniel Wolpert.

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Contemplating "Three Kings"

Contemplating "Three Kings"

There are some places in the world where worshipping God is risky. You could lose your job, be fined, or even be arrested or beaten. You become part of the church knowing it may bring pain and difficulty. In America things seem to be a little different. We don't really expect to face hardships when we become part of the church. We expect comfort. We expect to feel good. We expect the freedom to spend our money and live our lives for ourselves. We expect God to give to us. It seems we have grown spiritually fat and lazy and have conveniently forgotten that we are to bring gifts to Christ, and that those gifts may demand much from us.

Another doodle on this same topic is "Real Sacrifice."

  • Many Christians expect God to make them comfortable and happy rather than expecting to make great sacrifices for God, why do you think that is?
  • Is it a bad thing to be comfortable and happy?
  • Does God want us to experience discomfort and pain?
  • Do any stories in the Bible come to mind as you think about this theme?
  • What gift do you want to give to Jesus?

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Contemplating "Renewable Energy"

Contemplating "Renewable Energy"

There seems to be a lot of energy that goes into fighting evil, and why not? Who wants to see evil succeed? However, when we spend so much time and energy fighting something we hate, ironically the opposite happens, we end up feeding it. What if instead of putting energy into trying to avoid contact with evil, instead of thinking of ways to overcome evil, instead of spending time banning evil, instead of searching where evil is lurking in the world, what if we began to focus on God? What if we let God deal with evil while we spent our time and thoughts and energies in "pursuing things that make for peace and the building up of one another"?

  • What kinds of evil do you notice individuals and churches focusing on?
  • What evils do you put your thoughts, time, and energies into?
  • Do you agree with this concept that if we put our energies into fighting evil, evil actually grows? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think it is difficult for Christians to "pursue things that make for peace and the building up of one another" and to let God deal with evil?

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Contemplating "All Are Equal"

by Madeline Everett

Contemplating "All Are Equal"

My daughter Madeline drew this picture. She wanted to draw a "Holy Doodle" and asked me what she should draw. She came up with this picture and idea all by herself. All I did was suggested she could draw something about Jesus or God or something from a Bible story and I rewrote some of the words to make them more legible. I think this is a great doodle that shows us the love and acceptance of God. No matter what you like whether it’s sports, music, dancing, dress-up, or wagging your tail, all are equal. It’s neat to see such a profound concept through the eyes of a nine-year-old.

  • How far would you take this idea that "Jesus is Father to all different people?
  • Would you agree that Jesus is Father to everyone no matter his or her job, political stance, or the denomination they affiliate themselves with? Why or why not?
  • Would you agree that all people are equal no matter their actions, religious preferences, or sexual preferences? Why or why not?
  • If we treated everyone as equal how might the world, your town, church, or your family be transformed?
  • If you were to draw a "Holy Doodle" what would it be about?

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Contemplating "Blow Your Mind"

Contemplating "Blow Your Mind"  Contemplating "Blow Your Mind"

So this woman walks into a silent retreat…sounds like the beginning of a joke. In a way it is a joke, God’s joke as He blows the mind of unsuspecting people. The secretary at our church recently went to a silent retreat. When she came back she had this dazed and confused look. It was a look that I could relate to since I have had my mind blown at silent retreats. When it is just you and God, no computer, phone, TV, book, newspaper, and even no talking, just you and God, well, let’s just say it is unexplainably transforming. It seems nowadays God often takes my mind apart, rearranges it, and then puts it back together in a completely new way. I am left open mouthed, bug eyed, and unable to quite understand what just happed, let alone explain it to someone else. When’s the last time God blew your mind?

  • Lest someone think I am making fun of women’s retreats, men’s retreats, or other kinds of retreats, let it be known I am not. Sometimes when we go to a retreat we are encouraged in our faith, which is exactly what we need. It’s fun to share that experience with others. Other times God takes us for a ride that takes us weeks or months, if ever, to grasp. Which do you need right now?
  • Confirmation bias is our tendency to reaffirm our beliefs rather than contradict them. What good can come out of contradicting our beliefs?
  • What does Romans 11:33, 34 say to you? "Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"
  • When was the last time God blew your mind?

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Contemplating "The Jesus Prayer"

Contemplating the Jesus Prayer  Contemplating the Jesus Prayer

In Mark 10:47 blind Bartimaeus shouts, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me." The humble tax collector in Luke 18:37 prays, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." The Jesus Prayer is an ancient Christian prayer practice that has emerged from these Scripture stories and from the view that the name of God contains tremendous power in and of itself. When we truly believe that we are calling on God to help (not just repeating empty words), over time this prayer becomes part of who we are. We actually pray without ceasing and are thus transformed. It’s hard to see but in the second doodle the girl is made up of the Jesus Prayer, which equals faith, power, and love in her life. The man is made of all his fears, worries, and concerns that he continually repeats to himself.

  • What effects do the thoughts a person dwells on have on their life? What effects do they have on those around them?
  • How do you think this prayer can bring about transformation?
  • What do you tend to repeat over and over in your mind?
  • Try the Jesus Prayer:
    1. Decide how long you wish to spend in prayer. At first you might just try fifteen minutes. You may want to spend more time as the prayer becomes familiar.

    2. The Jesus Prayer can be done anywhere -- as you take a walk, in your office, on the bus, late at night in bed, in a church.

    3. Repeat, in your mind, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me."

    4. The repetition should be continuous; that is, the phrase is to be spoken again and again.

    5. Allow the words to flow into your entire being.

    6. When you have completed your time of prayer, express your thanks to God.
    (Taken from Creating a Life with God by Daniel Wolpert)

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Contemplating "War or Peace?"

Contemplating "War or Peace 1?"Contemplating War or Peace 2?"

I recently had a conversation with a friend on war and peace. During the "debate" my friend threw out a few verses to prove that Jesus wants us to have guns. I tossed back at him particular verses to prove that Jesus doesn’t want us to fight. We both used the Bible. Who’s right? This doodle represents the struggle we face when we pick and choose particular verses to bolster our beliefs on war and peace as well as on almost any subject you can think of.

Verses used in the War doodle:

  1. Praise be to the Lord my rock who trains my hand for war.
    Psalm 144:1
  2. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34
  3. If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36
  4. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. Romans 13:4

Verses used in the Peace doodle:

  1. Wisdom is better than weapons of war. Ecclesiastes 9:18
  2. Blessed are the peacemakers. Matthew 5:9
  3. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. Luke 6:27-29
  4. For though we live in the world we do not wage war as the world does. 2 Corinthians 10:3
  • Are there subjects in the Bible that you wish were clearer? What are they?
  • Do you think God could have made the Bible less confusing? Why didn’t God do this?
  • If the Bible were less confusing do you think there would still be fighting and divisions and denominations?
  • Do you believe there are contradictions in the Bible? How do you explain or deal with contradictions in the Bible?
  • Does there always have to be a right or wrong answer?

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Contemplating "A Mind of Its Own"

These were my very first doodles that I came up with after reading about and discussing the power of programs and institutions. The first drawing represents what the Kingdom of God is like. The bubbles are the various programs and ministries that arise out of listening to and following God. However the main thing is never the bubbles, they are dispensable, come and go, grow and shrink. The healthy church is a process (people in relation with God and each other) not a product (programs). The main thing is always the Community of God.

The second drawing represents what happens when we put too much importance and energy into programs or ministries. They become powerful, painful, and take on a life of their own. The programs will do anything to survive and they no longer serve us but we serve them. This sad event of programs and ministries taking on a mind of their own not only happens to churches but it also happens to companies, institutions, and governments. The Community of God becomes less and less important until it eventually fades into the background.

  • When you look at these drawings what catches your attention?
  • What do you think are the various reasons the "bubbles" mutate into the "monsters?"
  • Is it possible to hold programs and ministries "lightly" so that we don’t end up being controlled by them? Why or why not?
  • How do we keep the Community of God front and center?

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Contemplating "Real Sacrifice?"

It seems that American Christianity has changed from sacrificing your entire life for Christ into tossing Jesus a few scraps. I cannot help but think about those who are in prison for their faith compared to those who feel they are sacrificing for Jesus by getting out of bed every Sunday morning.

What is sacrifice anyway? It seems that time and money and talents come to mind first when I think of giving to God, but what about other types of sacrifices? For example I think of our minds. What if we gave to God our ideas of how we think people should act or how we think the world should work? What if we gave to God our political views, our Biblical views, our world views? What if we sacrificed to God the way we see and hear God? What if we even gave up our hopes to God? It is one thing to give our minds to God while thinking that God will give our minds right back and say, "You have the same beliefs, thoughts, and ideas that I have. Good job!" We are making God in our image when we do that. But it is true sacrifice when we give our minds to God saying, "I know this will be painful but I am willing to give you what I hold dear in order to have the mind of Christ." That truly would be a sacrifice.

  • What does sacrifice mean to you?
  • How is it that our faith has evolved from a life committed to Christ into just attending church?
  • What does it mean to you to sacrifice your mind to Christ?
  • What do you feel that Jesus is asking of you right now?

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Contemplating "Sea of Innocence"

This image came to me after reading the book Zen and the Birds of Appetite by the Trappist monk Thomas Merton. One of the ideas the book discusses is knowledge verses innocence and their relation to God, which is an idea that remains both extremely confusing and extremely intriguing to me. The "Net of Knowledge" drawing represents those trying to find God by following rules, learning more, being moral and so on. The "Sea of Innocence" drawing represents those who are dying to themselves and to their ideas of God. The result of the first picture is frustration, guilt, hate, anger, and actually being separated from God. The result of the second picture is love, peace, freedom and being united with God.

For another doodle with a similar concept take a look at "Over the Edge."

  • How do you deal with not having all the answers you want?
  • If the way to God is not by following rules, being moral, or having answers then what is the purpose of following rules, being moral, and having answers?
  • Is the real question "How do I find God?" or is it "How does God find me?"
  • How would you answer either of these questions?
  • What do you think it means to die to yourself?

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Contemplating "Election Gone Wild"

While reflecting on the story of Jonah this image popped into my mind. The expensive, never ending, 2008 presidential campaign is still rolling around in my head. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised since the campaign has been in the news for almost two years. It's like watching your dog get ran over, you just can't get the unwelcome image out of your head.

  • What does this doodle have to do with spirituality?
  • What are your thoughts on the fact that the 2008 campaign spent over one billion dollars?
  • Do you believe religion and politics should be separated?
  • How do you discern God's involvement in the political process?

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Contemplating "Be Transformed"

Contemplating "Be Transformed"

I like it that the NIV translation uses the word "pattern" in Romans 12:2. The spiritual life is about noticing the patterns we are stuck in. Prayer practices, or spiritual disciplines, help us break free from these patterns. Once we begin to break free, once we begin to be truly transformed, those around us are affected in very deep ways. I remember a saying that goes along with this, "When one person finds peace, thousands are saved."

  • Why do you think it is so difficult to notice the patters of the world that we are currently stuck in?
  • How is it that prayer practices help us break free from patterns?
  • What patterns do you need to break free from?
  • Do you agree with the quote "When one person finds peace, thousands are saved"? Why or why not?

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Contemplating "Dead Horse"

Contemplating Dead HorseContemplating Dead Horse 2

Attachment is deadly. It is interesting how some people in church cling to and try to keep alive certain programs, orders of service, decorations, and ways of doing things that are no longer helpful and in fact are hurting the body of Christ (dead horses). We say things like, "Well it was good enough 25 years ago so it’s good enough today." It’s not just within the church this happens, although it seems most obvious in church. We are all guilty of attachment in various aspects of our lives. We're attached to our route to work and we get upset when there’s a detour. We're attached to all the stuff that's stored in the basement or attic and so we find it hard to let go of even though we will never use it. When our plans for Friday night are cancelled we are irritated because we were attached to those plans. When someone suggests an alternative way of looking at something we smile and nod but inside we cringe because we can’t imagine letting go of our familiar views. Even when letting go of something is obviously a good thing, even when a certain program or way of doing something has lost its usefulness, even when Jesus is offering us new life, we still hold on as tight as ever to that dead horse and we tell ourselves it’s alive and kicking.

  • What are some things your church holds on to that no longer benefit the Body of Christ?
  • How is it we become so attached in the first place?
  • If we believe that Jesus will continue to offer us new life why are we so afraid of change?
  • How do we discern what the church should hold on to and what the church should bury?

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Contemplating "Afraid of God"

Afraid of God Image on MICAH

I remember my friend telling about a spiritual retreat he once held. The retreat consisted of hours of silent prayer, which meant lots of silence and space and very little programming or busyness. As participants began to spend more and more time in prayer my friend noticed that some people were experiencing a great sense of fear. He said he began to realize that these participants were afraid of God. They would say they loved God and that God was good but actually, deep within and often unknown to them, they saw God as mean and out to get them. God, they felt, was really about punishment and actually didn’t like them all that much. These fearful participants didn’t see getting close to God as a good thing. After all, who wants to get close to a God who doesn’t like you in the first place?

I’ve realized that a lot of people are deeply afraid of God. This fear often comes from childhood and people have lived this way so long that they are not even aware they are living in fear and keeping God at a distance. But their constant talking, TV watching, working on projects, worrying, planning, internal chattering, and even being over committed to church programs betrays their claim that they want to be close to God. This busyness is really a way to avoid intimacy with God, and when one finally slows down and is quite for a length of time that anxiety of getting close to God begins to reveal itself.

  • What catches your attention about this drawing?
  • What are some of your childhood memories of God? What do you remember being taught about God? How do you think this affects you today?
  • "There is nothing you can do that will make God love you anymore or any less." Do you agree with this statement?
  • Take some time to be still before God. What do you notice?

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Contemplating "Spineless"

Contemplating "Spineless" on the MICAH Site

I think this picture is so funny. This minister has no idea he is being spineless. His wife, as most wives are, is very aware that he is not being who God made him to be. For various reasons it is extremely difficult to stand up for what we truly believe in and to be who we truly are. All kinds of fears keep us from being authentic. What if we lose our job? What will others think of us? What if we make someone mad? Fear keeps us from doing, saying, and being what God created us to do, say, and be.

  • When was a time you were spineless?
  • What fears keep you from being your true self?
  • Why is it that God wants us to be our true selves?
  • If you were truly free to be you, what would your life look like? What would others say about you?

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Contemplating "Fish Wisdom"

Contemplating "Fish Wisdom"

I got my first gold fish at a ping pong ball toss at our county fair. I remember waking up the next morning to admire my new pet and found it floating belly up. "Too much bread," my mom said. I thought, How could something be so dumb that it would eat till it croaks. Thirty years later I now see that we humans have the same problem, we never think we have enough.

No matter how nice our house is we want a better one. No matter how much money we make we think we need a little more. If we have two weeks vacation we think we need three. If we spend fifteen minutes a day in prayer we think we need to spend twenty. Cars, success, dark chocolate, Bible reading, knowledge, savings accounts, you name it we what more of it. This continual desire for more is destroying us spiritually, mentally, and physically.

  • Why do you think it is so hard for us to be satisfied with what we have?
  • How do you think the desire for more affects us spiritually, mentally, and physically?
  • What do you think you need more of? Why?
  • What would happen if you started saying, "I have enough?"

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Contemplating "The Jesus Outlet"

Contemplating "The Outlet Jesus"
Contemplating "The Outlet Jesus"

All of us have an image of Jesus. For some of us it's a kind and loving Jesus, for others it's a Jesus who swiftly deals out retribution. Some see Jesus as the protector of their particular denomination while he sadly shakes his head at the rest who don't hold the same doctrines. I realized that my image of Jesus has evolved over the years. I used to think he was all about making my life more comfortable but now I'm thinking he's here to turn it upside down. What will my image of Jesus look like in ten years? I wonder if the real Jesus is anything like my current image of him?

  • What is your current image of Jesus?
  • How has your image of Jesus changed through the years?
  • What is it that has caused your image of Jesus to change the most? (Bible study, life experiences, opinions of others, etc.)
  • How do you think you would recognize the real Jesus?

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Contemplating "Lectio Divina"

Contemplating "Lectio Divina"

Lectio Divina (Divine Reading) is an ancient form of Scripture prayer that has been practiced by Christians for hundreds of years. We often come to the Bible with our minds somewhat closed because our own ideas and theologies are firmly in place. We memorize and gravitate toward verses that support our beliefs while we twist or ignore verses that contradict our theology. Lectio Divina is a way of listening with an open mind and heart to what God has to say to us. I've heard it explained that Bible study is a way for us to work on the Bible, Lectio is when we let the Bible work on us.

How do you listen to God as you read/study Scripture?

  • Is it difficult to acknowledge that there are verses in the Bible that don't support your belief system? How do you deal with these verses?
  • What are the dangers of reading the Bible with a closed mind?
  • What are the dangers of reading the Bible with an open mind?
  • The second drawing shows the Bible smashing us and our beliefs. What does that mean to you?

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Contemplating "And What Don't You Understand?"

Contemplating "And What Don't You Understand?" image 1
Contemplating "And What Don't You Understand?" image 2

This doodle reminds me of a question from The Book of Tea, "What would be left if the church were robbed of its assets?" I have thought about that question a lot. It seems we get so wrapped up with programs, money, numbers. I wonder what Jesus thinks of our nice churches.

  • What is the church?
  • What would be left if suddenly your church had no programs, pews, instruments, vehicles, books, building, money, etc?
  • If Jesus started a church in your town what do you think it would be like?

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Contemplating "Silent Prayer"

Contemplating Silent Prayer 1
Contemplating Silent Prayer 2

My mind wanders. Here I am trying to pay attention to the person on the other end of the phone and the next thing I know I'm a star in a movie I just saw or I'm a ten-year-old swimming at Brush Creek or I'm wondering what kind of tombstone will be placed on my grave. The mind is always on the move and it constantly distracts us from the present, from what is real. Most of the time we aren't even aware of this false world our mind creates.

Without going into great detail silent prayer is about the continual practice of bringing our thoughts back to God. Although it is impossible to stop our thoughts it is possible to hold our thoughts lightly and to let them float away when we become aware of them.

This cartoon is my attempt to show how, over time, one begins to leave his unreal world of thought. The picture where the person says "Whoa" looks like he no longer has any thoughts. But actually I was trying to show that the person is beginning to see the world around him for what it really is without the biased filter of the mind interpreting everything. It was fun drawing all the thoughts because I could just draw anything that popped into my own mind.

  • How often do you notice your mind wondering? What do you often think about?
  • Why do you think our thoughts keep us from living in reality? How does living in unreality keep us from being present to God?
  • What do you think would happen if you were able to observe and notice life (your emotions throughout the day, the words and actions of others, objects on the wall in the room you're in) without your mind interpreting everything?
  • Try silent prayer. Choose a quiet place to pray. Pick a word that reminds you of God's presence. When you notice you have become distracted by your thoughts, silently repeat your word to bring yourself back to the present. After a period of time give gratitude to God.

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Contemplating "How Our Kids Get Screwed Up #2"

Contemplating "How Our Kids Get Screwed Up #2"Contemplating "How Our Kids Get Screwed Up #2"

A few years ago I began trying to consistently follow all the commands in the New Testament. I had just come to the shocking realization that I, along with my denomination, had been selective in following Scripture. There seemed to be no convincing logic to why certain commands were valued and obeyed while others were completely ignored, so it became my goal to be faithful with every command. It wasn’t long before I drove myself insane by trying to follow every rule. I was carrying around a vile of oil to anoint the sick, refusing to marry people who had been divorced, and praying for the gift of speaking in tongues. I believed women should wear head coverings, that Sunday evening services were not mandatory, and while working in a denomination that taught that alcohol was of the devil I became convicted that there was nothing wrong with drinking. I looked like a rigid ultra fundamentalist in some areas and like a hell bound liberal in others. It became apparent to me that not only was it impossible to follow all the commands of the New Testament but more importantly, I was replacing the fruits of the Spirit with a rigid and controlling legalism.

  • What New Testament passages are especially important in your faith tradition?
  • Why do you think some passages become the mark of being a faithful Christian while other passages are completely ignored?
  • If churches focused on loving God and others rather than on following rules what do you think would happen?
  • How can one be faithful to God without focusing on rules?

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Contemplating "The Spiritual Journey"

Contemplating "The Spiritual Journey" Room 1Contemplating "The Spiritual Journey" Room 2
Contemplating "The Spiritual Journey" Room 3Contemplating "The Spiritual Journey" The Possibilities as we follow Christ.

The images in this series came to me after reading An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land by William Stringfellow and after some conversations Dan and I had about the spiritual life. Room One has all the "answers" but at the same time it is the most unhealthy and confining place to exist. The last picture titled "The Possibilities" gives us an idea of what Christ wants to offer. Moving from one room to the next represents our continuous and wonderful journey with God. One milestone along the spiritual journey is when we are no longer afraid of entering the next room and we actually start looking for doors. It is interesting to note that when we are separated from someone by two or more rooms it is almost impossible to describe to them our spiritual experience. There are really no common points of reference.

  • What room do you currently see yourself in?
  • Christ has come to set us free, what does that mean to you?
  • How do you think God leads us from one room to the next?

Do you find yourself afraid of the next room or do you find yourself looking for doorways? Why?

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Contemplating "If Jesus Had Been A Pirate"

Contemplating "If Jesus Had Been a Pirate"

One day as I was thinking about pirates (I’m not really sure why I was thinking about pirates) Matthew 5:27-30 popped into my mind. The passage just seemed to fit so well with the pirate image. Of course, Jesus wouldn’t actually have the eye patch and hook since he never sinned, but I thought it made a neat drawing anyway.

  • If you take this passage literally what would you look like?
  • Since you probably don’t take the Matthew 5 passage literally what do you think the passage means?
  • How do you personally determine what passages are literal and what passages are figurative?
  • Let’s say the Genesis account of creation was actually figurative not literal, how might the way you look at Scripture change? If the passage about women being silent in church in 1 Corinthians 14 was actually literal how would your view of God change? Are you open to change matey?

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Contemplating "How The World Ends"

Contemplating "How the World Ends"

In her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Annie Dillard mentions the idea that the universe looks more like a great thought than a great machine. She says, "The question of who is thinking the thought is more fruitful than the question of who made the machine, for a machinist can of course wipe his hands and leave, and his simple machine still hums; but if the thinker’s attention strays for a minute, his simplest thought ceases altogether." This idea of God’s amazing and loving ability to keep the universe in existence by sheer thought really catches my attention. Especially since I can hold an uninterrupted thought for what, 60 seconds?

  • What do you think of the idea of God keeping everything together by thought?
  • What’s your attention span like? How long do you think you can hold a thought? Try it.
  • What tends to distract you? How would you label these distractions (worries, fears, regrets, etc)?
  • How might your day be different if you could give complete attention to everyone you met and everything you did?

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"The Monastery vs. Your Ordinary Life"

Contemplating "The Monastery vs. Your Ordinary Life"

I've always had this desire to be a monk. What better way for God to transform me, right? Then my wife shows me a quote from a former monk who is now married with children. He says the austere and disciplined life in the monastery doesn't compare to the spiritual development you experience from raising kids. Although I've never been a monk, I do have three kids and so I can appreciate what he's saying. I wonder how much control I really have over my spiritual formation.

  • When we think of the ways God develops us spiritually what usually comes to mind?
  • How can your ordinary life (raising kids, going to school, budgeting, grocery shopping, working at your job, etc) possibly make you more Christ like than by being a monk?
  • What are some ordinary situations God is using (has used) to transform you?
  • How much control do you think you have over your own spiritual formation? Why?

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Contemplating "The Seven Deadly Sins"
Imagination vs. Reality

Contemplating "The Seven Deadly Sins" Imagination

I'm not sure how I got the idea for this drawing but I think it came from how intrigued I am that we humans are so easily deceived by the powers of evil and by our own selves. It doesn't matter who we vote for or what church we're from, Christians from one end of the spectrum to the other struggle with living in an illusionary world. We all get chummy with at least a few of the Seven Deadly and then we trick ourselves into thinking everything is great (note the smiley faces on the tiny seven deadly sins). Reality is tough but living an illusion will destroy us.

  • What catches your attention about this drawing?
  • What do you think keeps us from seeing how things really are?
  • What does it mean to be a discerning Christian?
  • If you had to pick one of the seven deadly sins you were ‘friends’ with which one would it be? (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride)

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Contemplating "How our Kids Get Screwed Up #1"

It seems we often believe and even teach Biblical concepts that we have never really thought through or even agree with. To be brave enough to question doctrine or passages of scripture is a good thing. Right? God doesn’t want us to donate our brains when we walk into a church or when we open our Bibles. This drawing is not so much about hell, it’s about us adults not taking the time (or not being brave enough) to notice seeming discrepancies that even children can see.

  • A loving God who throws people into an inferno to be slowly cooked alive for eternity: how would this concept seem confusing to those outside the Christian faith? Does this seem strange to you? Why or why not?
  • What causes us to hold onto the doctrines we’ve grown up with?
  • Why are we afraid of questioning?
  • What is one question you have?

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Contemplating "Hard Sayings of Jesus"

I am so amazed with our obsession with cell phones. I just read an article that called cell phones the "new cigarettes." We immediately pull them out when we walk out of a building, we’re constantly fiddling with them, we’re never without them, and we even take cell phone breaks on the job and between classes. There’s even a phenomenon called "phantom ringing" when your brain tricks you into thinking your cell is ringing when it really isn’t. We let this little object interrupt our dinner, time with family, worship services, concerts, and so on. Are we with anything else (let alone anyone else) more in life than our cell phones?

  • It’s been reported that people have high levels of anxiety, stress, and insecurity when they don’t have their cell phones. Why is that?
  • What other devices in our lives seem to take over and control us?
  • What would happen if you turned off your cell phone for 24 hours?
  • Which would you consider a harder saying of Jesus, to turn the other cheek or to get rid of your cell phone?

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Contemplating "Talk is Cheap"

Contemplating "Talk is Cheap" part of MICAH's Holy Doodles.

It seems churches say a lot of wonderful things. Love, peace, service, transformation, worship, and faith are nice words, but talk is cheap. I wonder how much love, and peace, and transformation people actually experience in church. It seems to me that people often find the opposite of what a church claims to offer. Rather than peace there is stress for people running ministries. Rather than forgiveness there is guilt for those who don¹t look like everyone else in the pew. People feel a sense of confinement rather than freedom. I'm not saying we should quit church I'm just asking how often real transformation or real community takes place? I like the look on the faces of the new family. They can obviously see what the minister can¹t, that this church is built on empty words.

  • What are some of the wonderful things churches say?
  • Do you think the people outside of our churches can see through our hot air?
  • What would a church that displays love or faith or joy really look like?
  • How does real transformation take place?

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Contemplating "Inner Noise"

This image came to mind at a prayer practice retreat. As we were preparing to enter into silent prayer a friend of mine who was leading the retreat said, "The outer noise may be annoying but the inner noise is what truly keeps us from hearing God." I think it is comical that we search for a quit place free of distractions to pray and be alone with God only to find that we're completely distracted by our thoughts. Our minds are practically shouting nonstop but it's only in the silence that we notice the endless stream of thoughts. It is also in the silence where we meet our true self. This can be very painful not only because it is hard to let go of ourselves but also because we don't like what we find.

  • Are you comfortable with silence? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think silence is necessary to listen for God?
  • How do we "begin to hear God over the chattering of our own internal dialogue?"
  • What is going on in your mind and heart right now? Do you feel peace, anger, pain?
  • Do you notice any desires God has placed on your heart?

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Contemplating "Over the Edge"

Contemplating "Over the Edge"

This image came to me as I was reflecting on my own spiritual journey. When I think back on some of the beliefs I’ve had over the years (God is an old man with a big white beard who sits on a throne in the clouds, for example) I just have to laugh. Since I’m not attached to those ideas anymore they’re especially funny to me. But then I realize that I’m still on this journey toward God and therefore it makes sense that many of my current beliefs that I’m attached to are just as false. I image that someday I’ll look back and find much of what I believe today hilarious. This process never ends. That thought sort of blows my mind. I love the last scene of God throwing the guy over the edge. It’s that last thing in the world he expected, but it is what he truly wanted, to be united with God. This is our journey.

  • As you look back on your spiritual journey, what beliefs or ideas have you let go of?
  • Do you have a sense of what current spiritual concepts or notions God is getting ready to toss over the edge?
  • What would happen if we all held our ideas of God lightly?
  • The last two sentences say, "I disappear into the waves. I’m engulfed by God." What does that mean to you?

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Contemplating "Take Off the Pack"

Contemplating "Take Off the Pack"

This image came to me as I meditated on Mark 7:1-8. In verse 8 Jesus says, "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." I kept thinking about all the rules and traditions that weigh down and complicate our lives. It seems that for many Christians rule following has replaced being in relation with Christ. It is much easier to focus on the outward actions than it is to focus on the heart.

  • What are some of the sacred cows of churches or denominations?
  • What man-made rules do you value?
  • Why do rules hold so much power in our lives?
  • What might happen if we dropped the pack?

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