You’ve seen it in several social media posts, and now it’s finally here – the Common Book. If you’re like me a few months ago, you would have said, “What in the world is a Common Book, why would I want one, and how do I use it?” Little did I know, Common Books have been around for centuries and used by thousands of people, some famous and most not so famous. But for Visual Faith®, it’s a perfect fit.
One of my greatest frustrations over the past few years is finding a place for all of the VF practices I want to, well, practice. Pretty soon, the books, the folders, the notebooks … all that stuff was threatening to take over my office! And it quickly became disorganized and difficult to find later. Plus, there was the hassle of downloading and printing all of the projects and packets I wanted to access or try. BUT along comes the idea of a Visual Faith® Common Book, and my office piles are now history.
Between the covers of our Common Book, you will find several of our most popular devotional practices:
Scripture Scribing – Scripture Scribing has already become a favorite practice for so many of you. Whenever I have the opportunity to speak with fellow practitioners, that refrain is repeated: “Scripture Scribing is my favorite.” I’m right there with you. This has become my go-to practice. And the instructions are simple. Look up the passage and record it in your own hand-writing. It may seem simple, but the blessings of slowing down and scribing the Scriptures in your own handwriting will bring about some amazing insights, challenges, and pure joy. Four monthly passages for scribing, as well as commentary to spark your thinking, are embedded in the pages of your Common Book. You'll no longer need to download from the Shoppe and print the Scripture Scribing packet each month.
Gratitude Journal – Gratitude Journaling is a healthy joy-filling habit. Taking a couple of seconds each day to write down one or two things you have to be grateful for is a habit that will enhance your life in ways that you can’t anticipate. God lives inside of our gratitude, and He is able to produce some amazing results if we just take a moment to recognize that He is the Author of every good gift. Having a page on which to record each day will make this habit a simple one to embrace. And truly, if you say you haven’t got the time for this practice – well, I’m going to have to call you out on that one.
Devotional Journaling Calendar – Within the pages of your Common Book, you will find 12 monthly calendars of 1-inch squares within which you can add a little drawing, a few words, a name, a Bible reference … and because that space is small, it’s a brief interlude of focused time with the Lord. Devotional Journaling Calendars provide the structure to help organize your thoughts about something God is sharing with you. I’ll admit, this practice does not work for me. But I have plenty of VF friends who are dedicated to this practice. Bev Wicher created this devotional calendar during our study of El Shaddai; these simple drawings and notations show what she was pondering and learning each day. She even shared this one that is just ink on paper instead of coloring it in; if you don't have the time or inclination to color it in, that's totally acceptable, as Bev proves in this sample. For me, I think I will use these calendar pages to do a daily bullet journal, marking what was significant during that day. I mention my adaptation of these calendars to assure you that it is perfectly fine for YOU to adapt any of these resources to fit your season of life and the parameters of your devotional timeframe.
Prayer Spaces – The use of Prayer Spaces has been a staple of Visual Faith® for many years now. The Common Book provides one graphic design per month for you to spend some quiet time in prayer, lifting up the people and circumstances in your life. Jotting down the names or situations you are facing in the moment provides a visual-kinesthetic opportunity to bring petitions before the Lord. This one takes a bit more time if you choose to color in the sheet, but you have to admit, the finished product is pretty cool. (Thanks again, Bev Wicher!)
Verse Mapping/Word Study – Verse Mapping is a Common Book practice that invites an investment of time each week. (And on those weeks when you don’t have the time – write “GRACE” on the page. Or, adhere a piece of full page sticker paper over that page and put something else on it. It’s even fair to tear out the pages you don’t want to use! (But be careful with that because there might be something important on the back side!) Verse Mapping will take you into a deeper place as you write out the verse(s), dig into the background and setting of the passage, look up any cross-references, take notes, write a summary of the passage, and record questions, insights, or challenges along the way. Also included is a place to note any particular word study resources you tapped to learn more about this passage. Although mapping and word study require the investment of time, that time seems to go by quickly once you give yourself over to the process. This example page is one that I used while I was scribing the book of Colossians. One particular verse grabbed my attention (and actually, it was one particular word). I was instantly in a “need to know more” situation. This page is the backbone of my Logos 365 for 2024, and it came as a complete surprise. I wasn’t looking for my Logos word, but God had a different plan that day.
Another approach to Verse Mapping is also found in your Common Book. For each of the four monthly focus passages, you'll find an expanded version of the passage in large font with plenty of space to make notes, record observations, ask questions, and highlight what you are learning. Everyone has their own way of learning, and we’re hopeful that at least one of these variations will strike your heart. (This sample comes from our Creative Director, Denise Miller.)
Blank Pages - Included in each week’s devotional space, you'll find blank pages to use however you would like. I personally will use those pages for my Around the Word notes, my weekly Sermon Sketchnotes, and as a catch-all space to keep the things that come across my desk that remind me of how Great is our God.
Because the Common Book is large, with the ability to take you through the entire year, it is not a single digital download in the shoppe. No one wants to print all of that on their home printer or even pay to take it to an outside printer. So, we’ve made this book available in the VFM Bookstore. It will arrive at your home all printed and ready for use. Bonus – you'll get to choose from six different covers! https://www.visualfaithmin.org/books
The best thing you can do for yourself is to join us on November 28 @ 8:00 for the Creative Haven. The VFM team will go into great detail about all of the things available to you in the Common Book, and you'll have the opportunity to ask questions about ALL of our Names of Jesus resources. See you there! https://www.visualfaithmin.org/events