When life happens.

These past few weeks, my son has had an ear infection, I went to a women’s conference, dealt with many sleepless nights because of said son, made cookies for my daughter because her friends from school kept asking her to bring in some, took the cars for servicing and oil change ,and I stayed up last night till 12 to make cakes for my son’s birthday .

Life happened.

When I started this blog, I decided I needed to use my gift of writing to glorify Him. I looked up writers who had great advice to market my blog and I knew then, that at this season of life, I cannot devote the time and energy required. I decided to write, and start being regular about it, making time to write everyday/ every week. For the most part it worked. My husband and I worked out a system to give me the time I needed to devote here.

But these last few weeks, I knew I was running out of scheduled posts, but….. things were chaotic as well. I either had time to go back to the basics. Spend time with Him. Learn to live in His presence. Read His Word. Study it. Worship Him.  This apart from my daily obligations and responsibilities with my family.

OR…………..

Work on this blog. Don’t get me wrong. I love writing here. I love putting my words down “on paper” This clears up space in my head and I think up new things. And I have. I have at least 12 drafts, and some of them I know what I want to write and exactly what it’ll consist of. It’s just all in my head though! 🙂  I also take my time writing and so it takes me anywhere from 5-10 hours finishing a post.

Like I said, I knew my scheduled posts were running out and I had to make a decision on what to focus on. So I chose Him. I’m learning to live in grace. I’m teaching myself to turn to Him all the time, my thoughts, my words, my actions, my emotions. I’m trying to make reading His Word, the first intentional thing I do each day. So these last few chaotic weeks, I haven’t worked as much as I need to on my blog and it shows. I hope to bring out more posts and quite soon, but if I can’t right away, I’m giving myself grace and not going to wallow in guilt.

He who knows my heart controls the world. He is in charge. He will prevail. He will bring me through this. He will  be with you.

Dear friend,

Rest in His goodness, learn to live in grace, give up the guilt and condemnation. Some times life happens, and it is all right not to have everything together, but come back to the One Who Does. He sees your heart.

Until next time,

Vanessa

 

Mark part 2: The suffering- servant- King was and is the Son of God.

Previously in the gospel of Mark we see that Jesus healed many, even on the Sabbath. He declares that the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. Jesus in this gospel seems to be always on the go, but even in an action-packed gospel, several times it’s mentioned that Jesus took time to pray/ He went away alone/ He prayed to His Father. Continuing on………..

In chapter 9: This chapter starts with Jesus’ transfiguration in front of Peter, James and John. For a brief moment, they see who Jesus really is, and Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Jesus warns them not to tell anyone until the Son of Man rises from the dead. Jesus *heals a child possessed by an impure spirit whom the disciples couldn’t heal. Jesus says these kind of spirits can be driven out only by prayer (and fasting in some manuscripts). Jesus predicts His death again.35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Jesus tells them anyone not against them is for them and anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. Jesus also says that those who cause others to stumble, it would be better for them to drown in the sea.

In chapter 10: Jesus talks about divorce. It wasn’t in His plan but because of the hardness of the hearts of people it had been permitted. [c] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Jesus blessed the little children that the disciples tried to keep away from Him. Jesus sees a *rich man, and loves him, and then tells him what to do. The rich man goes away sorrowful. 28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Jesus predicts His death again. *James and John ask to be seated at the right and left of Jesus in heaven. The disciples are offended. Jesus again reiteirates that they must serve others and not be like the gentiles. *Bartimaeus who is blind receives his sight.

In chapter 11: Jesus sends 2 disciples to untie a colt and bring it to Him at Bethpage and Bethany before He enters Jerusalem. People spread cloaks on the donkey and the road and Jesus rides in to shouts of Hosanna![a]“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”. Jesus curses a fig tree because He is hungry and it had no fruit (another gospel mentions it wasn’t  the season), the tree withers. Jesus cleanses the temple court of the merchandise and the selling going on. Jesus quotes Isaiah 56: 7. Jesus’ authority is questioned by the priests. He tells them He’ll answer if they can tell Him if John (the Baptist)’s anointing came from God or from man. The priests don’t want to answer “God” (because they don’t believe it) and they don’t want to answer “man” because of fear of the people who believed John was a prophet. So Jesus doesn’t answer to them either.

In chapter 12: Jesus tells a parable about the *vineyard. Jesus then quotes Psalm 118: 22-23. The Pharisees and the Herodians try to trick Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus says ” Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s”. The Sadducees try to trick Jesus with a frivolous question about marriage at the resurrection( the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection), Jesus answers When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’[d]? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. When questioned about the greatest commandments 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] Jesus asks the people “whose son is the Messiah” and quotes Psalm 110:1. The crowd is *delighted. Jesus warns about the teachers of the law  saying that These men will be punished most severely.”. Jesus sees a widow put all she had in the temple treasury and He calls special attention to what she gave..” All that she had to live on”. gospel_of_mark_chapter_10-19_bible_illustrations_by_sweet_media

In chapter 13 : Jesus talks about the signs of His coming again. It’s really extensive.28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it[d] is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Jesus says that only the Father knows the day and time, no one else. Jesus tells His disciples to keep watch, as He told them , He tells us all to “keep watch, be alert, be on the lookout and not be deceived”.

In chapter 14: Jesus is anointed by an unnamed woman at Bethany. Judas agrees to betray Jesus. Jesus sends 2 disciples to find the furnished, upstairs room, which has been set apart for Jesus and His disciples to celebrate the Passover. Jesus institutes the *new covenant. Jesus predicts His disciples running away and Peter denying Him. Jesus and His disciples to the garden of Gethsemane and taking Peter, James and John aside, Jesus is sorrowful and pleads with the Father to take the cup away from Him, but also says “not His (Jesus’) will be done but the Father’s”. 3 times they fall asleep and then Jesus wakes them up to see His betrayer. Jesus is arrested and the ear of the servant of the priest is cut off by a disciple. 51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind. Jesus is brought before the Sanhedrin and the chief priests and teachers of the law try to find false witnesses but even their testimonies don’t agree. Finally the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One? 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” They use Jesus’ declaration of Himself to convict Him. Peter denies Jesus 3 times.

In chapter 15: Jesus is brought before Pilate. “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. The crowd demands Jesus’ crucifixion. The soldiers mock Jesus and put a crown of thorns on His head. 21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. Jesus is crucified around 9 in the morning with a charge against Him that read “King of the Jews” ( in another gospel it mentions that this was written in 3 languages). The soldiers divide Jesus’ clothes by casting lots. 2 criminals are crucified with Jesus. The people passing by mock Him and tell Him to save Himself. At noon darkness covered the land until 3 when Jesus *died. The temple curtain is torn in two from top to bottom 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,[c] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”. Some *women watched from a distance. Joseph of Arimathea who was waiting for the kingdom of God himself, asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. Pilate is surprised because Jesus died in a few hours (when crucifixion takes days), after confirming with a centurion, Pilate gives Joseph the body. Joseph rolls Jesus in a linen cloth and puts the body in a tomb, and Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus see where He is laid. 

In chapter 16:  On the first day of the week after Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.  They worry about who will roll away the stone. They look up and see the tomb is already open. They go in and see a young man dressed in white on the right side who tells them “Jesus has risen, He is not here, go and tell His disciples and Peter that He is going to Galilee , you will see Him there just as He told you”. The women run away terrified.

This is the end of the gospel of Mark in the earliest manuscripts.  

Some other manuscripts have this portion added.When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

*21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

*Jesus meets a rich man who wants to know what he has to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments, which the young man had kept from his childhood. Jesus then sees him and loves him and then tells him to sell all he has and give it to the poor. The rich man goes away sorrowful and the disciples marvel and wonder who can enter the kingdom of God. Jesus then replies, “with man it is impossible but not with God”.

*In the gospel of Matthew, it mentions that it is the mother of James and John who makes this request. Here it mentions the brothers themselves. This is not a contradiction. Remember each book was written by different people, and different people remember an exact event differently.

*Bartimaeus shouts out :Son of David, have mercy on me” he is rebuked, and shouts out all the louder. Jesus hears him, and sends someone for him. Jesus asks Bartimaeus what he wants, he replies “I want to see” and Jesus says his faith ahs healed him, and Bartimaeus gains his sight.

*The parable of the Vineyard is directed at the priests. It’s about a Master who planted a vineyard and gave it to tenants and then moved away. When He sent servants to collect what the Master was owed, some were beaten, some were killed, some were treated shamefully. Then the Master sent His Son and His Heir assuming they would treat Him with respect. The tenants kill the Son. Then Jesus mentions that The Master will come and kill the tenants and give it to someone else to maintain. Here Jesus prophesies using a parable.

*I think the crowd is delighted because Jesus stumped the priests. They may have been a few people who truly believed, but I think the majority of them did not care about what Jesus was teaching or saying. Remember within a week of this happening, the crowd turns on Jesus (stirred up by the priests) and demand His crucifixion.

*Many scholars believe this unnamed woman was Mary ( the sister of Martha and Lazarus of Bethany). But even though she is not named in the Bible, she and what she did are mentioned. She had an expensive alabaster jar of nard, she broke it and poured it over Jesus’ head. When rebuked by the people gathered (that it could have been sold and the money given to the poor), Jesus tells them to “leave her alone. She has done a beautiful thing. She anointed Him for His burial. The poor we will always have with us”.

*The New covenant. Jesus tells the disciples to eat bread and remember His body broken for them. They are to drink wine and remember His blood poured out for them, for the forgiveness of sins. This is what we do when we take communion. We remember His death and His atonement for us. And we rejoice in His resurrection. And we await His coming again.

*Some scholars that this is Mark, the author of the gospel, who wrote himself into the narrative in Mark 14: 51-52.

*When Jesus died, 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b] 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. 37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

*Women who are mentioned here, Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph,[d] and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

 

Whew!!!! Mark is the shortest gospel, but writing a summary of it sure did not feel like it! It’s so full of action and details that I felt important, I honestly could not choose which to include and which to leave out 🙂 I’m going to take the advice of a few friends (Liv Campbell and Vanessa Grace, both writers as well) and further condense the summaries of these books of the Bible, with links to the original. Since I’ve finished four books of the Bible now, I’ll going to write condensed versions next and then pick up with Leviticus from the Old Testament. Hopefully you’ll join along with me and continue to be amazed at God’s thoughtfulness, His attention to detail and His faithfulness. I’d love to hear from you about your favourite  verse/ chapter/ book in the Bible. Till next week,

Vanessa.

 

5 Tips for Christian Bloggers on WordPress

Trying to draw more traffic to your WordPress blog, Christian? For those trying to build a larger audience (say, to snag a potential publisher), here are five things I’ve found helpful. &nbsp…

Source: 5 Tips for Christian Bloggers on WordPress

 

Some tips that will really help you (and me especially) on your blogging journey.

 

Vanessa

Guest post by Carole Sparks.

Look closely at the picture above. Just look. Intently. I’ll tell you more about it at the end of this post.

Carole Sparks is our guest today. I came across Carole in my feeds because of her inventive- funny- attention grabbing headlines! I mean how can you not open The completely not-boring history of the Bible, then I really read her posts and I’ve loved it. If I wrote about Psalm 8 , would you read it? Probably not, but if I titled it If the mouse was King of the jungle, would you click on it? Most likely. That’s what Carole did. (Seriously! Click on the link and you’ll read about what she learnt from Psalm 8, there’s some very important truths in that post). So I’ll let Carole tell you what worship means to her and how she makes worship of our Father her lifestyle.

Carole Sparks-126.jpg
Carole Sparks

Carole is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.com, or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

As much as I am tempted to sleep in on Sunday mornings, I love worship time with my church. You see, we lived in a place without churches or church services for more than six years. Our corporate worship time involved gathering in the living room with some praise choruses pulled up on a computer screen. I think God was honored in those moments, but it was nothing like adding your voice to a few dozen (or a few hundred) other believers, singing out in praise and accompanied by talented musicians. Corporate worship and preaching fuel me for the week ahead.

But Sunday mornings are not the only time I worship.

Christ brought in himself the sacrifice of God for us and our sacrifice for God. For us there remains only the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in prayers, hymns, and in a life lived according to God’s commands (Psalms 15 and 50). So our entire life becomes worship, the offering of thanksgiving.  -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible (pg. 41).

I have learned that worship shouldn’t be a noun. It’s not a person, place, or thing; it’s an action. Sometimes it’s an active verb, like on Sunday mornings when we worship together. And sometimes it’s more like a state-of-being verb, a mindset that pervades everything else.

This is what Paul meant when he wrote to the Roman Christians,

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  –Romans 12:1

That phrase, “living sacrifice” sounds like an oxymoron (like “jumbo shrimp”). A sacrifice, by definition, is killed—whether it’s a lamb, a dove, an ox, or something else. Even the grain and wine sacrifices of Numbers were poured out and burned up. They were completely given over to God. To be a sacrifice but continue living must mean we are wholly devoted to God—like the sacrifices on the altar…but without the fire. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, when Paul elsewhere describes our lives as a pleasing aroma (2 Corinthians 2:14-16. Note that God is the one pleased in that verse, not other people.). Like the burnt offerings, which smelled like grilling steak in the backyard on a summer evening (Exodus 29), our lives—our whole lives, not just our Sunday morning lives—are to swirl up toward God and delight Him. In Paul’s eyes, this life-lived-out is real worship, not the processionals into sanctuaries, the rituals of religion, or the observances of rules and regulations.

If you’re not yet convinced, look on down through Romans 12. Paul doesn’t talk about proper ritual procedures. Like any good middle school essay, Paul backs up his thesis (v. 1) with three examples: humility, spiritual gifts acted out daily in the body of Christ, and love. These are essential to a life of worship, and they happen alongside everyday occurrences.

And so we are called to live a life—all of life—in this merger of the sacred and the secular, to consciously worship continually until an attitude of worship infiltrates every aspect of life.

Nearly three hundred years ago, a monk named Brother Lawrence learned to focus His mind on God’s glory and presence even as he went about the ordinary tasks of life. He was a cook, not a worship leader, and yet every aspect of his life felt as if he were kneeling before the throne of God. He wrote about it in The Practice of the Presence of God. What a model for us!

But how? How are the everyday tasks of life worshipful? It happens when your focus is not on yourself or even the task at hand but rather on God’s glory in and through that action.

If all that a believer does grows out of faith and is done for the glory of God, then all dualistic distinctions are demolished. There is no higher/lower, sacred/secular, perfect/permitted, contemplative/active or first class/second class. Calling is the premise of Christian existence itself. Calling means that everyone, everywhere, and in everything fulfills his or her (secondary) callings in response to God’s (primary) calling. –Os Guinness (quoted here by Paul Sohn)

See how Guinness removes that distinction between times of worship and the rest of life? He would say our primary calling is to glorify God, and our secondary calling is to our vocation or even simply the task at hand. That secondary calling must take place within the primary calling.

What does that mean, practically?

  • Filling a work order is worship.
  • Answering an e-mail is worship.
  • Changing diapers is worship.
  • Waiting on a red light to change is worship.
  • Playing softball is worship.
  • Of course, sharing Christ with your friend or coworker is worship.
  • Any act of obedience to God is worship, even—perhaps especially—grabbing a cup of coffee with that friend who needs a listening ear.
  • And yes, singing out loud to God along with a bunch of other people is still most definitely worship, if your attitude is right. So is singing praise songs (or old hymns) by yourself in the car…or the shower.

I plan to keep my Sunday mornings like they are for now: studying God’s Word and praising Him with other believers. But by focusing on God’s glory throughout the day, I’m working to make the rest of my week just as worshipful as Sunday morning.

Did you like the post? I hope to have more guest blogs here on worship, so you can see how and what that looks like for different people. I hope you will remember that anything ( and everything ) you do can be an act of worship to the One who created us if there’s a proper attitude involved. One of humility and repentance. Anyway I pray that He becomes more real to you, every day, every minute and you spend your life in His presence. Let me know what worship is to you.

See you next week,

Vanessa.

(PS Carole took the featured image. Did you see what it depicted? It’s taken at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Athens, Greece and Carole loved the interesting light, the images shown and how the picture just speaks worship)

Mark part 1: The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.

Mark is widely believed to have been written by John Mark, the cousin/nephew of Barnabas who ran away in the middle of a missionary journey with Barnabas and Paul, whom Barnabas wanted again on the 2nd journey and Paul said no, and Paul and Barnabas split. It is believed that Barnabas took Mark with him and they travelled with Peter. What Mark writes down seems to be from Peter’s eye witness accounts. The gospel of Mark is also famous for being an action gospel. These words “….and immediately,…. at once, …..quickly, ……without delay, …..right away” occur quite often.

Do you obey Christ immediately? –Tweet this!

In chapter 1: Mark writes this is the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ the Messiah as prophesied in the prophets Malachi and Isaiah. Right away we see Jesus baptized in the Jordan, Jesus tested in the wilderness, John the Baptist put in jail, Jesus starting to teach about His kingdom, Jesus calling Simon and Andrew, Jesus driving out an impure spirit on the Sabbath, Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law, Jesus going away to be alone and to pray, and *Jesus healing a man with leprosy.

In chapter 2: 4 men bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus by making a hole in the roof of the house Jesus was talking to people in. Jesus forgives his sins and tells him to “take up his mat and walk” and he does. Jesus calls Levi and then eats at his house with tax collectors and “sinners”, when questioned by the priests, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus is questioned about His disciples’ lack of fasting and  19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. His disciples pluck some heads of grain on the Sabbath and when questioned Jesus  said “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”.

In chapter 3: Jesus heals on the Sabbath again. This time a man with a shriveled hand, Jesus asks the people what to do on the Sabbath (evil or good, kill or save a life) and they remain silent.He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Crowds follow Jesus so He asks the disciples to keep the boat ready for Him. Jesus appoints the *12 disciples (who are later called apostles meaning “sent”). Jesus is accused of driving out demons by beezelebub but replies 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. Jesus also says the sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. Jesus’ mother and brothers come to take Him away, but Jesus says *”those who do the will of His Father are His mother and His brother and His sister”

In chapter 4: Jesus talks about the parable of the sower, a lamp on a stand, the parable of the growing seed, the parable of the mustard seed. Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” 10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you and He explained everything to them. While they cross over the lake in their boat, a storm comes up and Jesus is sleeping. They wake Him up and He rebukes the wind and the waves and it becomes calm again. The disciples are terrified at God’s power over nature.

In chapter 5: Jesus and His disciples go to Gerasenes and heal a demon(s) possessed man. The demon(s) reply that their name is Legion(which means many) and they ask to be sent to a herd of pigs(about 2000 in number) and the entire herd rushes down a cliff and drowns in the sea. *The man healed wants to come with Jesus, but He says no. Jesus then raises Jairus’ daughter from death. He only take Peter, James and John and the girl’s parents with Him into the room. On the way there , a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years touches His cloak and is healed. Jesus knows immediately power had gone out from Him and looks around. The woman confesses and Jesus says it’s her faith that healed her.

In chapter 6: Jesus goes to his hometown and teaches in the synagogue but the people who knew Him growing up are offended at Him, and He does not do a lot of miracles. Jesus sends out the 12 two by two and gives them power over impure spirits and tells them not to take anything with *them. We get more details about John the Baptist’s imprisonment and subsequent execution. *Jesus feeds the 5000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Jesus goes to a mountain to pray while the disciples take the boat to cross the lake to Bethsaida. Jesus walks on the water around dawn, the disciples are frightened and think it’s a ghost. Jesus tells them not to be frightened and He gets into the boat and immediately the wind dies down. They reach Gennesarat.

In chapter 7: Jesus tells the people that Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.’ 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.’ It is implied from the context that *Jesus had declared all foods clean. Jesus heals a greek woman’s daughter of a demon. *He heals a deaf and mute man. They people are amazed and exclaim He does everything well. 

The people are amazed and say that He (Jesus) does all things well –Tweet this!

In chapter 8: Jesus feeds 4000 men (women and children would have taken this number up higher) with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish, and the disciples gather up 7 basketfuls of leftover food afterwards. Jesus warns against the *yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod. Jesus heals a *blind man at Bethsaida. Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus predicts His death. Peter rebukes Him and is in turn rebuked. Jesus talks about the cost of following Him and the importance of acknowledging Him before people, otherwise the Son of Man will not acknowledge them before His Father.

 

*(he says “if you’re willing, make me clean” and Jesus  replies” I am willing” but further admonishing the man not to talk about Jesus healing him but to show the priests and take the offerings needed). * Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

*The 12 disciples are Simon/Peter, Andrew, James and John (called sons of thunder), Simon the Zealot, Phillip, Bartholomew(called Nathanael in John), Judas Iscariot(Matthias takes his place after he betrays Jesus), Levi/Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus and Thaddeus. These are given power to drive out demons and to preach repentance and the coming of the kingdom in Jesus’ name.

*Notice Jesus does not mention they are His Father. He gives His respect and honour and glory to only One Father.

*18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis[b] how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.  Remember in an earlier passage that Jesus warns the person healed of leprosy to be quiet about Jesus but show the priests and offer the appropriate offerings.

*Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”

*12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. (the 12 disciples).

*This time they aren’t to take extra clothes, shoes, or money. They are to go to a home in every village, and if they accept the disciples, they are to stay there till they leave( the disciples are not to look for a better place to stay). Later when Jesus commissions them to go again and preach the good news, He tells them to go prepared. With extra clothes, sturdy shoes and all their money. (the first time the disciples have favour with the people and are welcomed, the second time they’ll be attacked by the people )

*Jesus feeding the 5000 men (and there were women and children too who were not counted) is mentioned in all 4 gospels.

*Jesus will confirm this to a Peter in a vision much later (in Acts) that Peter is not to call anything unclean that Christ has made clean. By this Peter gets the go-ahead to preach to the gentiles as well.

*In this healing of a deaf and mute man, Jesus puts His fingers into the man’s ears, He spits and then touches his tongue, He sighs, looks up to heaven and says Ephphatha (which means be opened).

*Just like yeast when it is mixed with dough, makes its way through the whole thing and causes the bread to rise, if attention was given to the Pharisees’  and Herod’s teachings, it would spread everywhere and corrupt everything.

*For this healing, Jesus spits on the man’s eyes and puts hands on him and at first the images aren’t clear. Jesus lays hands on him again and this time the man sees clearly.

Whew! I expected to finish gospel of Mark in one post since it has only 16 chapters, but looking at the word count already, I’m not going to do so. This really is an action packed gospel. Every chapter has so much going on 🙂 Read along if you can, and I’ll post Mark part 2 next week. Till then,

Vanessa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest post by Kailee Diaz.

I first read posts by Kailee Diaz when it came across my feed and I’ve loved the way she writes. Her love for Christ and her passion to disciple people come across in a very real way. One of her posts that really ministered to me is A daughter of the King. She writes good advice to those who want to write or are in the process of writing, you can read a sample here. This is the first guest writer on here and I hope that will be the start of many more. I pray that you will be blessed as you read Kailee’s take on worship in her life.

 

“Kailee Diaz is a Christian historical-romance author. She posts to her site (www.kaileediaz.com) throughout the week on topics of faith and love in hopes that she shines a light on enduring truth.

Kailee is a pastor’s kid, with generations of preachers in her family line. Through their lives, she’s witnessed the legacy faith leaves behind and hopes to share just a glimpse of this within her writing. She’s now a happily married wife to a wonderful husband. Together, they reside in Ohio and love serving their local church. She seeks to leave a legacy for future tales to be told and hopes you’ll join her in the wonderment of God’s faithfulness on this journey through life.” 

 

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,  but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:14-16

Worship is much more than church singing on Sunday. It’s a lifestyle—a privileged choice by which we get to come before the Father and say “my life is yours.” That’s why Peter describes Christian behavior as holy. Who we follow is depicted by how we live.

If you ask most Christians, holiness describes God, not us. It’s not something we feel portrays the flawed lives we live. And yet, it is the very thing that Scripture says we obtain from Christ.

Check out what Paul says in Galatians 5:24:

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

So what does a crucified life look like in a modern world?

Well, I would dare to say it’s a life of sacrifice. We’re choosing to give up everything and anything that embraces less than holy. That sounds radical, doesn’t it?

For me, that means I’m careful about the television shows and movies I let into my life. I choose to view what seems honoring to Him. I also use God’s name with dignity, not flippantly or without intention. I make church a priority, and I seek to love people with compassion.

Now that isn’t an exhaustive list, but holiness is a lifestyle of worship where we have chosen to place God first and foremost.

Let me paraphrase a verse from 2 Timothy 4:7:

Fight the good fight, finish the course, keep the faith.

That’s your calling if you know Christ. Every generation of believers has a mission. My father once told me each Christian decides where to set his morals. With the passing of generations, the bar often moves lower. We live a life of worship to keep the faith, to preserve it, to represent God’s holiness in a lost world. And today, you can decide where you’ll set that bar for worship. Are you seeking Christ’s holiness or your own moral code?

Well I hope you loved that. My prayer for you is that worship becomes a lifestyle for you. Whatever you say and do will be a reflection of Him, and that will be your witness to the world. I generally add a song to my posts, and while this is Kailee’s post, I’m going to add a new favourite 🙂  See you next week,

Love

Vanessa.

 

 

 

For His Glory…..and my growth.

I remember sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office with my husband, who had taken the day off. A friend watched Christina at home. And Adam? Adam was in the office being evaluated to see if he had Autism/ fell on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. He was 3 1/2 years old. He had started walking and moving and running early, but his speech was delayed. He sang the alphabet again and again and again. He knew some words to songs. Christian and nursery rhymes. But not independently speaking. And not making  enough eye contact according to his speech therapist and his nursery care givers at church. So we waited, and we found out that yes, Adam had Autism and that took us down a long valley of joy and pain, of love being shown to us and feeling isolated, of feeling like the worst parents and also feeling like we were doing a good job….

But let me back up a bit.

Christina (who is 11 months older than him) had had a speech delay, (we’re a bilingual family). We put her in speech from the time she was 2 1/2years. She potty trained all right and went to preschool without much language at 3 1/2. We continued weekly speech through the school district and by the time she was 4 1/2, we saw marked improvement. She was socially capable, able to follow directions, sit in groups, do things, speak to the teacher and her classmates and make herself understood. She had sounds and blends to be corrected and so still continued in speech and still does. Not once did anyone who interacted with her tell us they had concerns with her eye contact or social ability. That should have been our first clue, but we didn’t pay attention.

So we figured that’s what Adam needed. Maybe he was far, far, far behind, even Christina, but he was a boy. If we waited it out, he’ll get there. So we put Adam in speech at 2 1/2. Then he went into the school district for speech at 3. The speech pathologist had repeatedly  told us about his inconsistent and insufficient eye contact and tantrums. We put it away, assuming if we could potty train Adam and send him to preschool, he would be fine ( my husband and I are both doctors, but we didn’t want to accept our son being different and so were in denial). While we were actively pursuing things that could help our children, we ignored the large elephant in our lives.

Then Adam stopped sleeping! He was a child who slept for 11-12 hours at night plus a nap, now he was up between 1-5 every night, he wanted the lights on, puzzles out, the electronics etc. He was awake and then just stayed awake. Our small group leaders, husband-wife DD and WD encouraged us to get him evaluated. DD like Raj is a doctor and WD like me is a stay at home mom. So we set up the appointment and DD was able to get them to see us earlier than the appointed date.

So in the waiting room at the doctor’s, I was desperately praying that Adam would not have Autism. That didn’t happen. He was diagnosed and we started ABA therapy , which is one on one, home based, intensive, play based behavioural modification. An adult (who is alert, awake and capable!) needed to be in the premises at all times, which meant me! Adam would eventually go up to 33 hours of therapy per week, some of those sessions would be in group therapy sessions.

Christina was in half-day preschool and eventually attended full day , four days a week. She still needed to go to speech (different school from her preschool) and a classmate’s mother would drive her there and back. She was 4 1/2years. I dealt with guilt over sending her to school for so long for several months. When possible I tried to take them to parks and Chuck e cheese’s to let Christina have some fun. At that point, she and I butted heads over everything. A preschool teacher,Lara, who saw Adam for a few weeks before his diagnosis, gave me brilliant advice, to include Christina in the day to day stuff, make her feel useful in helping with Adam, and just speaking truthfully to her about what was going on. That helped so much! Months later I forced myself to make cookies and cakes with her and allow her to “help” and “decorate” them with me. Sometimes I would make cookies after 11 in the night, and let her decorate them the next day. I made a point of taking her with me to run errands if my husband was home with Adam during his sessions on the weekends. Today she doesn’t like me doing errands on my own as I’d be “alone and sad”!!! 🙂 Today she is an incredible, beautiful, dancing, let’s-play-pretend, loving, compassionate child. (Most of the time) Christina includes her brother in everything.

After Adam’s diagnosis I grieved for several months, to the point when asked how I was, I  brawled. We had several good friends and close family who came alongside to help us out, emotionally, spiritually and financially. A close family member gave us a lot of money to start therapy for Adam ( we private paid while we waited for approval of insurance 2-3 months, and then paid the deficit ). Several friends shared their time and love and support with us, by watching the kids sometimes, by inviting us to their home, by giving us meals. Many , many people prayed for us and still do.

Through the struggles of interacting with each other and providing for our kids, our marriage took a hit and spiraled out of control. There came a point when I wanted to split. But Thank God……. Thank God.  He provided for us in such a way that it was no mistake that it was Him. On a Monday , a godly friend who knew us very well told me, reminded me of the things I had seen in my husband and why I wanted to stay married to him. That Tuesday my brother’s pastor told us (through the prompting of the Spirit) about the struggles in his marriage and how God helped him and asked me to let him speak to my husband. On Wednesday the lady pastor that I was going to for counseling gave me E Emerson’s book Love and Respect ( I highly recommend that book) and that gave me so many scriptural truths and practical tips. Thursday Raj and I were civil to each other. Friday we met the male pastor together and talked about things. Saturday Raj and I warmed up to each other more. Sunday we attended church, then afterwards Raj and the male pastor went to lunch and talked for nearly 4 hours! That week saved our marriage. And it was all the Lord’s doing. If He hadn’t orchestrated all of those things, we  wouldn’t be together now and I wouldn’t have been writing a blog and encouraging you to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

896990c1c4690c7dbfd456caabd7903a

Because those people were faithful to Him and heeded Him, Adam and Christina are in a good place now, so are Raj and I. The kids are thriving. Christina loves her school and is talking up a storm and has no problem making friends. She’s a dancing-let’s play pretend-draw a picture for someone else kinda girl. She has an active imagination and is blessed with creativity and hospitality. She loves painting and coloring and drawing ( she hates us picking her up early from church as that doesn’t give her time to finish her craft!). She likes to “make” cupcakes and cookies and fun snacks for her class and since she absolutes hates not giving it to everyone in her class, I end up making a huge batch often! Today we’re going to be making “hello kitty” cookies! Regarding her speech delay, you wouldn’t know it when you speak with her. She uses full sentences and descriptive words, you may hear some blends mis-pronounced , but that’s all. She still continues in speech to correct those sounds.

Adam is responding well to ABA. With him we’ve been through waking up in the nights, taking clothes off, spitting, tantrumming, flicking light switches on and off, spinning, looking out of the corner of his eye, but we’ve seen huge and marked improvements . He’s making more eye contact, showing affection, paying attention ( to things he likes when done with someone else), asking for things (saying “cookie/cheetos” when he’s hungry, “black jacket” when he’s cold, “IPad” all the time 🙂 , and “Chrissa” for his sister). He’s started following some instructions. He loves being with us, he’ll bring his puzzles/play-doh/kinetic sand to the sofa/room we’re in and play there. He is happy 🙂 , loves running, jumping, climbing things, walking in parks, walking barefoot, taking baths, his sister, cheetos, gold fish and dark chocolate!(my other child doesn’t like chocolate!!) . He likes music and listening to songs ( we found out that he calms down when listening to Magnify by We Are Messengers a few months ago). He knows his alphabet (upper case, lower case, sounds, spelling of several words that start with each letter, sight words), he’s reading whole sentences and early reader books by himself. He knows his numbers up to at least 4000 and can count backwards from at least 100 (what I’ve seen, he may know more). Did I mention that he’s 4 1/2? He’s been and still is a joy to watch.

Raj and I are growing stronger in the Lord, closer to Him and to each other. We’re being intentional with the time we give God. We’re reading His word, putting it into practice, studying His word and discussing it with each other. We are in a better and tighter place in our marriage. We haven’t come out all of our struggles but it’s starting to get “easier” since we’re going through it with joy and peace. We’re still attending multiple churches every week 🙂 We like spending time with each other, even if it’s watching a movie at home, or if he’s playing video games, I’ll sit next to him and work on my blog. We like being in the same room. We may not have 3 hour conversations, but companionable silence to us is just as nice. We started daily family prayer about a year ago, for the first few weeks it was awkward but now it’s starting to get natural and fun 🙂 We’re being kinder to each other. I’m learning to give him his space if he had a bad week/day at work. He’s learning to take the kids off my hands completely ( I’ll be in our room, and he locks the door so the kids can’t get in! :-)) if I’ve had a bad day/night with Adam. We take turns waking up early/sleeping in on the weekends ( every weekday we’re both up early, on Saturday/Sunday one of us sleeps longer, the other wakes up with the kids since they never sleep in!) .

I’m thankful to God alone for this. Giving me another chance with Raj. Giving me so many blessings that I can’t count. Giving me children that stretch me so much, that I have no choice but to let Him be my Strength in my weakness. Giving me Himself. Giving me His Word to encourage, strengthen and build me up, to make me more like Him. He alone is worthy of my praise, my worship, my honour, my respect, my submission, my obedience. He is my ABBA Father and He loves me. He is working all things in my life for His good and His glory. He has a plan and a purpose for me, one to prosper me and not to harm me, one to give me hope and a future. But….. It’ll be in His time. It’ll be done according to His plan and His will. It will not look like what I want. It will not conform to the world’s standards. It will be to draw all people to Him. So…. I’ll be obedient (try), and trust in Him. He alone knows what is going to happen. He alone is on the throne. He is in control. 

Would you share your stories of trust and hope and obedience with me? Would you share how God has been faithful and has shown Himself to you in the midst of your valley? Remember we never walk alone. He is always with us. 

Be blessed friend, this week and always,

love

Vanessa.