Luke part 2 : Jesus the healer.

I wrote about the first 6 chapters of Luke awhile ago. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of events and catching up. I attended my brother’s reception out of town ( my husband stayed home with our children and did fantastic!), I came back and had volunteered to teach in a VBS so my kids could attend ( we went in the mornings and Adam had his therapy sessions in the afternoons so we were rushing from one place to another), the “check engine oil ” came on in my car (  turns out it was a computer glitch), I fell sick after VBS and Christina caught it from me. I’ve yet to unpack my suitcase, instead I’ve been catching up on laundry ( washing them, but not putting them away so today there were about 10 loads that needed to get sorted , folded and stored!!), feeding the kids in between Adam’s sessions ( we are up to 30 hours per week), helping Christina with worksheets to keep her busy, colouring with her and basically keeping her off electronics while Adam is engaged. I’ve not been on social media in weeks ( it’s not a bad thing :-)) and even less so on my blog ( that’s not what I wanted to do though 😦 ).

What I have done though is worshipping My Saviour, My LORD and My God first thing in the morning. I’ve introduced Christian songs to my kids ( Christina’s favourite is “fruit of the Spirit”, Adam loves “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”). I’ve spent sweet time with my husband and enjoyed it. I’ve rested. I’ve not let myself feel (too much ) guilt. I’m in the process of re-writing the words that I speak to myself , words of grace and Truth instead of lies. I’ve cooked. I’ve taken the kids to the pool (they can’t get enough of the water ). I’ve played and coloured and crafted and cleaned and have been present (tried to) more than previous summers.

I still love writing, and especially these summaries on each chapter of the Bible, makes me read and re- read , and I’m intrigued when I find connections and details that I’ve missed before. I will devote as much time as I can to my blog, but when I can’t, I will allow Scripture to fill me up. Happy Summer and I hope you get to enjoy time with your family.

Continuing with the gospel of Luke,

In chapter 7 : Jesus enters Capernaum, a centurion (Roman senior officer)’s servant was ill. Some Jews came to Jesus and pleaded with Him to heal the servant for the man’s sake because he was a good man. Close to the house, some friends of the centurion come to Jesus and tell Him that the centurion doesn’t feel worthy about Jesus entering his house , but to say the Word and the servant will be healed. Jesus is amazed at his faith and does what he asks. Jesus goes to Nain and raises the dead (only) son of a widow and gives him back to her. 16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. ‘A great prophet has appeared among us,’ they said. ‘God has come to help his people.’ 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. John (the Baptist ) sends 2 disciples to Jesus to find out if He is the Messiah. Jesus replies with His miracles and says “Blessed is the one who doesn’t stumble because of Him”. After they leave, Jesus addresses the crowd and calls John a prophet and His messenger. He says on earth, there is no greater than John, but John will be the least of those who are in the Kingdom of God. Jesus compares that generation ( and ours) to willful children who are never satisfied ( they complained about John’s methods and about Jesus’ too). Simon the Pharisee invites Jesus to a meal where He is anointed by a sinful woman. She wet Jesus’ feet with tears, wiped them with her hair and poured perfume on them. Jesus talks about forgiveness and forgives the woman ( for the love she had shown).

In chapter 8: Jesus travels from town to town with His disciples and is supported by women out of their own means{1}. Jesus tells them the parable of the sower and the seed. {2}. Jesus talks about (us) listening carefully. Whoever has, will be given more, whoever doesn’t have, even what he has will be taken from him. Jesus says His (mother and brothers) family are those who hear God’s Word and put it into practice. Jesus crosses the lake with His disciples. A storm comes up while Jesus is sleeping. He wakes up and rebukes the storm and His disciples are fearful and amazed. Jesus goes to Gerasenes, heals a demon (many demons calling themselves Legion) possessed man. He sends the demons into a herd of a pigs who rush down the bank of the lake and are drowned. The people of the town come and see the (formerly) demon possessed man sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed and in his right mind and beg Jesus to leave. He does. The man wishes to come with Jesus. Jesus tells him to go back home instead, the man goes back to town and tells all that happened. Jesus heals a women of bleeding ( she had it for 12 years and she touched His cloak and power went out from Him) and raises Jairus’ daughter from death. Her parents’ are astonished but Jesus tells them not to tell anyone.

In chapter 9: Jesus sends out the 12 with authority to drive out demons and to cure diseases and to proclaim the Kingdom of God. {3} Herod is disturbed by Jesus’ doings and wants to see Him. Jesus feeds 5000 men (women and children were not included in the count) with 5 loaves and 2 fish and the disciples pick up 12 basketfuls of broken bread. Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah when asked. Jesus warns them not to tell others. Jesus predicts His death. He says The Son of Man must be rejected and killed according to prophesy and He will rise again on the 3rd day. 8 days after this, Jesus takes Peter, James and John and goes up on a mountain a pray. He is transfigured before them. {4} They hear a voice from Heaven say, “This is my Son whom I’ve chosen, listen to Him”. Jesus heals a demon possessed child whom the disciples couldn’t heal. And the people were all amazed at the greatness of God. Jesus predicts His death a second time. Jesus tells them the least among them is the greatest. Jesus tells the disciples whoever is not against them is with them and not to hinder them from performing miracles. Jesus heads to Jerusalem and is not offered hospitality in a Samarian town. James and John want to call down fire on the town but are rebuked by Jesus. Jesus tells people that once they decide to follow Him, they must do so completely without turning back.

In chapter 10: Jesus sends out 72 disciples in pairs to the towns He was going to, to preach the good news. Jesus denounces Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum for not accepting Him. Jesus says whoever listens to (us) listens to Him, and whoever rejects (us) rejects Him and whoever rejects Him rejects the one who sent Him.  The 72 return rejoicing because the demons submitted to them. Jesus tells them to rejoice because their names are written in Heaven. Jesus then full of joy through the Holy Spirit praises the Father.  Jesus tells His disciples they are blessed because of what they’ve been privileged to see ( and experience). Jesus tells the people a parable about being a good neighbour ( the good Samaritan {5}). Jesus talks to people in the home of 2 sisters ( Mary and Martha. They had a brother Lazarus). Martha is busy with the preparations while Mary listens to Jesus. Martha resentfully asks The LORD to make Mary help. Jesus replies that Mary has chosen the best thing and it will not be taken away from her.

 

 

{1} I love the fact that women who followed/ served Jesus are given names and hence identities. Here Mary Magdalene out of whom Jesus drove out 7 demons, Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household and Susanna are mentioned}.

{2} There are 4 different kings of “soil” which is the heart of man, the “seed” is the Word of God and there are 4 “results” which is what men do with the Word of God. (a)Either the devil snatches it away and they don’t miss it ( bird taking away the seed). (b) or they receive it with joy and live for the Lord for awhile but since they don’t have any roots, in times of testing they fall away ( seed on rocky soil which withered in the sun). (c) or they grow in the Lord but life’s worries, riches and treasure chokes them and they don’t mature ( seed falling among thorns). (d) and the last, they accept God’s Word with joy , it takes root in them and they  persevere and produce a fruitful harvest ( soil producing 30, 60 and 100 fold what was sown ).}

{3} This time when the disciples are sent out, Jesus tells them not to take anything extra with them. No bag, no money, no bread, no extra shirt. This time the disciples are well received by the people and they return joyous that even the demons tremble. The next time Jesus sends them out, He tells them to take extras with them and be wary since the people will try to kill or hurt them.}

{4} Jesus’ appearance changed before them, His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning and 2 men, Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. They represent the whole of the prophets and the law, and both of them “met God” on a mountain themselves. They came to speak about His departure ( His Exodus) which Jesus would bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem. The disciples were sleepy and Peter, confused, wanted to build shelters for all three of them .}

{5} The parable of the good Samaritan- A man is beaten, stripped, robbed and left for dead by bandits. A priest comes that way and crosses over without helping. Next a Levite comes along and leaves the man. Last a Samaritan comes that way, bandages and disinfects the man’s wounds, puts him on his own donkey, takes him to an inn and pays the inn-keeper to care for the man. The priest is representation of the class of people who serve God and were supposed to serve the people. The Levites were the broader class of people who were set apart for the upkeep of the Temple and to serve before Him. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews for their corrupted religious beliefs. }

 

This is already 1800 words long! I was going to summarize 6 chapters in each post, but I’m going to end this one :-). See you next time, and I pray your eyes will be opened to the joy found in the scriptures.

Vanessa.

 

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The Mothers in the line of Jesus. 

Happy Mother’s day to the mothers who are reading this post and I hope you had a great weekend with your family .

To those of you who are not yet mothers, I’m thinking of you. I don’t know His ways and I don’t understand Him often, but He has still been Faithful.

To those of you who have had children and they are no longer here, I’m so so sorry, I will never have the words to comfort you, but He can.

To those of you who are spiritual mothers and mentors, I thank you. You make a difference in people’s lives for generations to come. We rise and call you blessed.

To those of you who are mothers, you make a difference. You are seen. You are valued. You hold your families together and you are loved.

For Mother’s day 2017, I’m going to write a little about the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. They have been spoken on and dissected and discussed often, but I’m always grateful when women (and men)’s names are mentioned in the Bible. They were real, flawed, human and felt things. They made mistakes. They made sacrifices. They prospered and failed and loved and hated. They were known to Him and He made sure their names/ their lives were written down for us to know them as well.

In Matthew 1:1-17, the genealogy of Joseph (who was married to Mary, the mother of Jesus) is mentioned. The women mentioned by name / circumstance are Tamar , Rahab, Ruth, (Bathsheba) she isn’t mentioned by name but the Bible says “who had been Uriah’s wife”, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. In Luke 3 :21-38, the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph is mentioned as well, but the names of the women are not.

 

Tamar

Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah.

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Tamar

She was not an Israelite, but she was given in marriage to Er. He sinned against God and was struck down. She was then given in marriage to his brother Onan, who used her, but refused to give her children to carry on the name of his brother and was struck down as well. Judah in fear that his third son would be killed as well asked her to live in her father’s house. She did. Judah dealt with her falsely, and when she saw that she wasn’t given to Selah as his wife, Tamar seduced Judah by pretending to be a shrine prostitute. She conceived and was nearly stoned for adultery, but she sent out Judah’s pledges to him for him to recognize. Judah said that she had been more righteous than him,  and lets her live, but does not have sexual relations again with her for the rest of her life. Tamar gives birth to twins, one of whom would be the fore father of kings and of Jesus Himself.

 

Why Tamar? 

Tamar wasn’t part of the chosen people, was deceived and in turn was deceitful herself. But God . God chooses to give her children and take away her shame. He chooses her name to be mentioned in His family line.

No matter how often we slip up, He can turn our lowest, weakest, ugliest moments around and use us for His Glory.

 

Rahab

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Rahab

Rahab was a harlot. The few times in scripture that she is mentioned, she is known as Rahab the harlot /prostitute. She lived in Jericho. She had heard of what God had done during Moses’ time (a good 35-40 years ago) and was terrified. She chose to hide the 2 spies that Joshua sent, but she made sure to ask for a favour. She wanted to be safe when God destroyed Jericho. The two spies promised her that her family would be safe as long as they were in the house and she had tied a scarlet ribbon in her window. She believed them and did exactly as they commanded her to. Rahab was the instrument through which her family was saved. Later she was allowed to marry an Israelite and through her son, kings and later the Messiah would come.

Why Rahab? 

Rahab was not a Hebrew, she lived an immoral lifestyle. But God. God gave her the faith to believe in Him, and she and her family were saved because they had a reverent fear of Him.

What we have done is the past does not determine what God can do with us. God can and will turn your lifestyle around when you call upon Him and choose to leave everything behind for His Name’s Sake.

 

Ruth

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Ruth

Ruth was a  Moabite. She had been a wife, then became a widow. She chose  to stay with her mother-in-law in spite of being urged to go back to he father’s family. She was hard working and went to glean grain behind the workers. Ruth was obedient to Naomi and did what she asked regarding marriage customs, even if they seemed foreign to her. She was then given a husband and a child and children , and became the great grandmother of King David.

Why Ruth?

Ruth was not of the holy and set apart people. But whatever she saw and experienced in her husband’s home made her choose to stay with her mother-in-law and follow her God. She left behind everything known to her. But God. God gave her peace and acceptance in the new land and gave her a husband and children of her own.

Do you feel unseen and unknown? And aren’t sure of how to make ends meet? Are you in a new and foreign land and lonely? I can’t say that everything will be roses and peaches ever after, but I can tell you, that God sees. God knows. He takes into account everything. And this faithfulness will be credited to you.

 

Bathsheba

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Bathsheba

Bathsheba is not mentioned by name. The genealogy only mentions “who had been Uriah’s wife”. She was the grand-daughter of Ahitophel ( King David’s trusted advisor), and was an Israelite. Either she was forced by King David, seduced by him, or she did the seducing, but sexual sins lead to events that caused David to murder her husband. The child that she conceived was taken by God when he was born ( 7 days later), but she gave birth to at least 4 other sons, who were taught by the prophet Nathan. Her son Solomon/ Jedidiah would become king after his father David even though he was not the first born.

Why Bathsheba?

Either things she did or were done to her caused events to spiral out of control. But God. God renewed her womb and restored her honour. She was wife to one king and a mother of another. She is mentioned in the line of Jesus.

When God honours you, your past can and will become a clean slate. He will lift you higher than you imagined. He will give you more than you ask. He will do strange and incredible and marvelous works than you could not even dream of.

 

Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Mary was most likely a teenager when she

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Mary, the mother of Jesus

conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. She was asked to do something impossible and mind boggling. She did question the angel and even though her response is similar to Zechariah ( husband to Elizabeth and father to John the Baptist), “how can it be?”, apparently her heart and her attitude were very different , as evidenced by the responses given by the angel Gaberiel to the two of them. The few times Mary is mentioned later on the gospels, the accounts portray her as a considerate mother. It is also mentioned that “she pondered all the things [that happened around and to Jesus] in her heart”

 

Why Mary?

This one is interesting. By all accounts Mary seems to be the proverbial ideal wife and mother. In some accounts though, it feels like she doesn’t believe Jesus ( when she and her other sons went to Jesus when he was preaching and getting “in trouble” with the religious leaders because they thought He had lost His mind), but in other accounts, she absolutely believes in Him ( she tells the servants to do everything Jesus tells them at the wedding in Cana).

Mary’s but God. God used a simple, young, humble, possibly poor girl to bring His Son into this world. No one and nothing is beyond His control.

 

No matter who we are, we are loved by God. We are known to Him. He cares for us. He died for us. He rose again for us. He is preparing a place for us . And He will come back for us.

With joy, until next time.

Vanessa.

What would Heaven be like?

Just recently I got the opportunity to collaborate with 10 really amazing girls explaining what they think/imagine heaven will be like. And I am really satisfied with the way it has turned out. This blog post will be split into 2 different parts, In each part 5 people will be sharing their wonderful views on […]

via What will it be like? (Part 1)  — my hearts revival

This author has collaborated with 10 others and have described what they think Heaven would be like 🙂 It’s a beautiful collage of  word pictures. While I’m doing something similar with my guest posts on worship, I love this idea 🙂 Swing by Sara’s blog (link above) and be blessed by and bless her.

 

 

Welcome to part 2! In this part 4 more lovely girls and myself have written what we imagine/think heaven will be like, happy reading! 🙂 Ashley: John 14:2-4 My fathers house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if […]

via What will it be like? (Part 2)  — my hearts revival

Till we meet again,

Vanessa

Picture from VisualHunt.com

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.

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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)

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.

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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.

Genesis Part 3:God of new chances.

We first saw God make everything out of nothing in the beginning of Genesis.. Then we see Him choose a people. They aren’t more beautiful, more talented, more godly or more deserving. He chooses them just because. Now we’ll look at how He gives 2nd, 5th, 100 chances to His beloved. He is a gracious God, long-suffering, patient, merciful and doesn’t choose to any to die but for all to come to Him.

If you don’t know Him, would you come to Him now? He is compassionate and loving and gracious and forgiving. He is willing to be your God.

Continuing on in Genesis.

In chapter 25: Abraham is shown to have had another wife and other children who he sends away from Isaac with gifts. He dies and is buried by his 2 sons. Isaac prays to God on behalf of Rebekah who is barren. She conceives twins and is given the promise , the elder will serve the younger. (Abraham, his son Isaac and his son Jacob later on all have wives who are barren, but only Isaac prays on behalf of his wife. Abraham sleeps with his wife’s slave, and Jacob sleeps with his wife’s servant). The older child Esau despises his birthright and sells it to his younger brother for a bowl of stew.

In chapter 26: Isaac repeats his father’s folly and tells Abimelech that Rebekah is his sister. Abimelech’s men quarrel with Isaac over wells dug (3 of them), each time Isaac moves away and digs another one that has water. At the 4th, he is left in peace, and calls the place Rehoboth (the Lord will flourish us). Isaac and Abimelech make a treaty.

In chapters 27-28: Isaac wants to bless Esau. Rebekah and Jacob deceive him, and Jacob gets the choice blessing. Esau nurses his hatred, and so Rebekah sends her favourite son Jacob away to her brother. She will never see him again. Jacob flees. At Luz( afterwards called Bethel- house of God) Jacob is given a dream from God, and so worships Him and builds him an altar. This is the first time Jacob is shown to worship God.

In chapters 29-30: The deceiver (Jacob) gets deceived. He works 7 years for his uncle’s younger daughter( Rachel), but is given the elder(Leah) at the end of the service. At he end of Leah’s bridal week, he marries Rachel as well , with the understanding that he work another 7 years for Laban. Leah is seen by God and has 4 sons. Each time, her closeness to and dependence on God increases. Rachel when she can’t conceive, gives her maidservant as a concubine to Jacob and then so does Leah. Between the 4 of them they have 11 sons ( Leah has 6 sons and a daughter, Bilhah has 2 sons, Zilpah has 2 sons and Rachel at the end of them all gives birth to one son). Laban tries to double cross Jacob out of his wages (flocks of sheep) but Jacob deceives him instead.

In chapter 31: Jacob is told by God to return to his father’s land, and God would be with him    ( Immanuel). Rachel steals her father’s household goods. Jacob and his family and all he owned leave/run away in secret from Laban and his sons. Laban pursues Jacob but is warned in a dream not to harm him. Jacob and Laban make a covenant withe each other and separate in peace.

In chapters 32-33: Its been 20 years since Jacob has seen his family.He still remembers betraying his brother and so make gifts of all he owns to Esau. Jacob wrestles with the pre-incarnate form of God and he is given a new name. From deceiver and betrayer (Jacob) he is now known as Israel (who struggled with God and humans and has overcome). Here on out his descendants will be known as Israelites and will be the chosen people of God. Jacob meets Esau in peace who forgives him and has grown prospers on his own.

In chapter 34: Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob/Israel is raped by a Shechemite, who later wants to marry her. Her brothers Simeon and Levi, deceitfully insist on circumsicion of the males of the whole town as bridal price. When the men were recovering, Simeon and Levi slaughter them and plunder the town, taking flocks and herds and riches and the women and children. Jacob is terrified of reprisal from the surrounding towns and does not reprimand his sons.

In chapters 35-36: Israel returns to Bethel(formerly Luz) and builds another altar to God at the same place God had revealed Himself to him, some twenty years prior. Rachel dies giving birth to Ben-Oni (son of my pain), whose name is changed to Benjamin ( son of my right hand, a place of honour)by Israel. Isaac dies and is buried by his twins. Esau’s descendants are as numerous as Isarel’s .

In chapter 37: We move to the 3rd generation from Abraham. Joseph the son of Rachel and Israel has dreams from God. That he will be exalted among his brothers and his parents. He happens to be the favorite of his father , making all his older brothers jealous. It’s compounded by Israel giving Joseph alone an ornate robe. His brothers sell Joseph as a slave to passing Ishmaelites/ Midianites ( descendants of Abraham’s son with Hagar, Ishmael). Israel mourns thinking Joseph is dead and refuses to be comforted.

In chapter 38: Judah (praised be the Lord) son of Leah and Israel marries a Canaanite woman and has 3 sons. His older son is married to Tamar. When he is found ungodly by God, he is struck down. As Leviarite law (yet to be established) expounds, his brother is married to the widow. When he refuses to do his duty, he is struck down by God as well. Judah in fear of losing all his children sends Tamar back to her father’s house till the 3rd son is grown. Tamar when forced to live a widow seduces Judah and bears him twins, from whom will come the ancestors of the Messiah.

In chapters 39-40: We see Joseph’s faithfulness and integrity. In spite of being a slave in Egypt, he is raised to prominence and grows into manhood. He refuses the lustful advances of his master’s wife and is wrongly accused and put in prison. In the prison he raises to prominence as well and interprets correctly the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s officials. Joseph is quick to give the honour to God to whom it belongs.

In chapter 41: 13 years have passed since Joseph was sold as a slave. He is now 30. Pharaoh is troubled by unusual dreams, at which time Joseph is remembered in prison, and brought before the King to interpret them and give Pharaoh peace. Joseph does. Again he gives God glory. Joseph is then raised to be the 2nd  highest person in Egypt and put in charge of handling the years of plenty and of famine that are to come.

In chapter 42: Joseph’s brothers travel from famine- stricken Canaan to Egypt to buy grain for their families. In this long interval, it seems they have forgotten their jealousy of their brother and repent of the part they played in his misfortune and they believe death. They do not recognize Joseph. As a sign of the brothers’ goodwill and honesty, Joseph imprisons Simeon so that they will bring back their youngest brother.

In chapter 43: Judah personally guarantees Israel of the safe and sure return of Benjamin. The brothers make another journey to Egypt , this time with Benjamin. Simeon is returned to the brothers. The brothers feast and drink with Joseph, who has placed them according to their birth order and gives Benjamin five times the portion of the others.

In chapters 44,45,46,47: Benjamin is set up to look like a thief. Joseph wants to make him his slave. Judah pleads for Benjamin’s life and begs to take his place as slave to Joseph so that Israel might be spared. Joseph deeply moved makes himself known to his brothers. When they are dumbstruck by fear, he graciously forgives them and lets them know ” what they intended for harm, God had intended for good all along”. Joseph sends gifts and riches for his father and invites the whole family, Israel, his wives, his brothers and their wives and children to live in Egypt where there is grain. Israel rejoices to hear his son is alive. The Israelite clan settle in the land of Goshen in Egypt and are shepherds. Eventually they will become so numerous that the Pharaoh then living will deem them a threat and try to destroy them. But that is 400 years down the line :-). Joseph , living now, is second only to Pharaoh and makes shrewd and judious choices that increase the wealth of Egypt.

In chapter 48: Israel blesses the younger son of Joseph Ephraim (God had made him fruitful in a land of affliction) over Manasseh(God had made him forget his troubles). This is now the 5th generation where the younger has been favored over the elder. (Abraham over Nahor, Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over Rueben, Ephraim over Manasseh). To Joseph , Israel gives the double portion of the first born son.

In chapters 49-50: Jacob blesses his sons. ( I may do a blog on this later on! :-)). Under divine inspiration, Judah is blessed with being the ancestor of the line of kings and eventually the Messiah. Some sons are cursed. Some of them turn their curses around into blessings around the time of Moses ( especially Levi , from whom come the line of priests). Joseph is given the double portion of a first son even though he is 11th son according to age but the first son of Rachel the favorite wife. Israel dies and is buried by all his sons. The brothers think that Joseph will exact his vengeance but he reassures them of his goodwill and forgivesness. When Joseph dies, he gives specific and careful instructions that his body must leave with the Israelites when they leave Egypt ( they do so nearly 400 years later. Joseph speaks prophetically under the divine inspiration of God).

God loves His chosen and gives them multiple choices. Nothing you or I have done is too much, too bad, too horrendous, too evil for Him. If we repent and confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive.

With love,

Vanessa.

Genesis Part 2:God chooses a people.

I wanted to give you a brief overview of God’s presence in each book of the Bible. Brief ended up being a short summary of each chapter! It’s too long to do that for a blog post, so on the advice of another blogger I’m breaking it up in parts. As I said earlier, I write as an act of worship to God. 5 minutes here, ten there, sometimes in the nights, sometimes I save and open my draft and write several times ( one blog post told me I had made 25 revisions!). It isn’t to boast, but to encourage you to do everything Unto the Lord. I change diapers and make my son sit on the potty for 45 minutes at times to make him go. I listen to my daughter when she takes an inordinately long time to get to the point with attention. I sit next to my husband and watch a movie, and am grateful for his presence even if we’re silent. These are some of my acts of worship ( apart from actually worshipping Christ!), and in this season that I’m in, they are more important than my writing.

Would you share what worship is for you in the comments below?

Continuing with Genesis.

In chapters 12,13,14 : God chooses Abram and his family to worship Him. He chose a man for no other reason that He chose them. He called him out of his country and away from his gods, to a place He had prepared for him. Abram separates from his nephew Lot. Abram with God’s help rescues Lot.

In chapter 15 : God makes a covenant with Abram. He reassures him. He reminds Abram that He is his shield( strength, protection) and very great reward(wealth, possessions ). Genesis 15:1 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram.I am your shield,[ayour very great reward.’[b]

In chapter 16 : Abram disobeys God and gets his wife’s slave pregnant on her suggestion. But our gracious God sees a poor, abused, misused slave and grants her protection for her child and is with her during her misery and struggle. The God who sees me / El Roi reveals Himself to someone outside the to-be-formed Israelite people.

In chapter 17 : God gives Abram a covenantal sign. Circumcision of the males belonging to his family. To separate them from the rest of the world. He gives Abram (Abraham) and Sarai (Sarah) new names to show them their past is no more and they have a new future.

In chapter 18: God visits Abraham . Abraham rightly discerns that the 3 visitors are from God or are God. Abraham serves them. One is revealed to be God in a pre-incarnate form, who promises Sarah will have a child the following year. God reveals His plan to Abraham about destroying Sodom and Gomorrah and generously lets Abraham bargain for the lives of the people in those towns.

In chapter 19: Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed by 2 angels with fire. Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family are saved. Lot’s wife cannot tear herself away from the world and is turned into a pillar of salt. Lot’s daughters having been influenced by the lifestyle of the sinful cities they lived in, seduce their father and have children by him.

In chapter 20: Abraham moves on to the Negev. In fear of being killed on account of his wife, he tells Abimelech that Sarah is his sister. Sarah is taken to Abimelech’s harem, but is divinely saved by God, who appears in a dream to Abimelech and warns him. This chapter shows us even those accounted by God as friends have fear and choose not to trust Him sometimes.

In chapter 21: The long awaited son of the promise , Isaac is born. Hagar and Ishmael, the son of the flesh are sent away. Ishmael grows up in the wilderness just as God promised, and is married. Abraham makes a treaty with Abimelech regarding a well that he dug.

In chapter 22: Abraham is tested by God. He is asked to sacrifice Isaac( now a young man) on a distant mountain. He obeys. Before the knife descends on Isaac, he is stopped by God who provides a ram for a replacement. To Abraham God reveals Himself as Jehovah Jireh/ The Lord who provides. Also He makes a promise that On the mountain of the Lord, it will be provided. (foreshadowing when Christ will provide atonement for the sins of the world on a “mountain”-calvary ). Genesis 22: 12-14 ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’

In chapters 23-24: Sarah dies and is buried. Abraham sends his trusted servant to his family to find a bride for Isaac. Eliezer calls on the Lord for help. Rebekah is the answer , who trustingly comes back to Isaac, leaving her family behind. Isaac loves Rebekah and marries her.

 

In this portion God is faithful when Abraham is fearful. God sees and has pity on and makes a promise to someone who is not of the chosen people (Hagar-El Roi). God makes a covenant with Abraham and binds Himself to the promise, not Abraham. God rescues someone Abraham loves for his sake, and treats Abraham like a trusted counsellor and friend , revealing His plan in advance to him. God tests Abraham but miraculously provides at that time ( Jehovah Jireh), this act will be credited to Abraham as righteousness.

Who is the God of Abraham to you? Let me know .

With love,

Vanessa.