When God calls you to stay at home.

A friend and a sister ( in more ways than one) Vanessa A Harris., asked me to contribute a post for her newsletter awhile ago. While I can’t post or link directly to that article, I have her permission to post my original. If you want to connect with her or receive her newsletters head on over to her blog, Vine Life Faith and subscribe 😉 Vanessa asked me to write about a God-moment/ situation in my life and I decided to share that with you this week as well. The style of writing for this post may be different from my usual ones because I’m trying out different ones. If it doesn’t work I’ll go back to the way I normally write 🙂

 

I’ve been married for 8 years. I’ve stayed home all that time while my husband worked crazy long hours. So what’s new now? Why do I say God’s called me to stay home? In the last couple of years, God had been working on me , to be content, to be joyful where He’s asked me to be.

That He’s made very clear to me and to others for me, is to be home. To raise my children. To realise my sphere of ministry is limited to 3 people. And I’m to be content with that.

In my natural state, I hate it! I’m an extrovert. I am re -charged being among people. I like to be involved in something that shows results. I want to be known. I want people to notice me. I want people to miss me. I want to be valued and cherished and needed by people.

But God. But My God.

He’s a Jealous One, He is. He wants to be my only Lover. He wants all of me. He wants me to find myself in Him. He wants me to realise that the Only Person whose approval I should be seeking is Him. And He deserves it. All of that and more. Because He gave me more than I could imagine or ask for. He loves me with a passion that has no end.

So how did He tell me?

Last June we moved to this city for my husband’s job ( he’s a specialist doctor with the resulting long hours, also we’ve moved every 3 years for his job). To make friends and meet new people , I went to a ladies lunch at a local church. Our table was full, and out of the 8 people there that day, Monica and Karen impacted my life in a “God-has-done-this” way. Only God . He make sure He got my attention, and I knew it couldn’t be a coincidence.

Monica told me at the Holy Spirit’s prompting that she felt very strongly, that this year I should NOT get involved in any ministry at church. ( The 6 years prior, that we had lived in 2 different states and attended 2 different churches, I was actively involved in the Children’s and the Women’s Ministries. I attended as many Bible studies as I could and I served in Sunday School as often as they wanted me. That to me was my validation and my identity). What Monica had to say to me, I did not like! But I did listen and I am very grateful I did. Right now Monica is a very dear mentor and we meet as frequently as we can, in my home around my chaotic schedule, to learn the Bible and to mature together.

You know our younger son was diagnosed with Autism 2 years ago now, and last year we needed to re-start his ABA therapy after dis-continuing it because of the move. My husband and I decided to give priority to his therapy for at least 2 years. Because I stayed home, and wasn’t committed anywhere on a daily or weekly basis, I could easily accommodate re-scheduled sessions for my son. ( We’re up to 30 hours of therapy/ week for my son, so that’s 30+ hours/ week that I need to stay home.)

In December of last year, nearly 6-8 months after being joyfully – content in my role as a SAHM, I saw incredible results in my son. He made more eye contact, he was affectionate and asked us for affection, he could make some wants known, he followed some directions, he had lesser (and easier to handle) meltdowns, and one Sunday at church I was overwhelmed with His Goodness and His Faithfulness. He had never left my side ( or my family’s) and He loved ( and still does) my son more than my husband and I ever will.

After meeting Karen last June, we texted occasionally and sought to meet, but things did not work out until April of this year. She had moved to a different state (her husband is an army Chaplin), they had come back for a short time as he had training and she had come to visit her family since she was 5 months pregnant with their first child. We met one Sunday at church, when my husband was on call, and hers was at the training camp. I debated telling her about my son, and then something inside me made me tell her about the Autism. Turns out she worked as the same kind of behavioral therapist that works with my son. She told me that children who had their parent/s stay with them during sessions made more progress and quickly too compared to those who didn’t. This was a healing balm to me, and just the edifying encouragement I needed at that time. Karen since has gone back with her husband and her baby is due any day now.

I did not expect to still be at home raising my kids 8 years into our marriage. I expected that once my husband’s hours were less chaotic, I would go back into the work force. I thought that would have happened 3 years ago. But God has other plans for me. He is teaching me to wholly depend on Him to be my identity, my validation, my reason for being. He’s teaching me to love my husband passionately, to be patient with my children, to kindly discipline them and to be present in the daily minutiae with my family. He’s seeing everything I do, even when I don’t feel like what I do has any value.

I want to encourage you to be faithful to Him. Whatever He has called you to do. Whatever He shows you. Leave it in His Hands and watch the wonder as He leads you down the path that only you can travel. What’s been asked of me may not ( probably will not ) be asked of you.

  • You may need to stay at home.
  • You may need to be a worker and a bread winner.
  • You may need to be single.
  • You may be married.
  • You may need to stay in a marriage to Honour Him.
  • You may need to leave a marriage and be a single parent.
  • You may need to take part in active ministry.
  • You may need to be faithful in the background.
  • You may be called to be known and famous.
  • You may be seen only by Him.

Wherever you are placed, you are known, you are loved, you are wanted, you are cherished. By The One who made you and knows you intimately. By The One who loved you so much He died for you, and rose again. If you are known by and know This Father, I look forward to seeing you, my friend, in Heaven. If you don’t know Him, please come to Him before it’s too late. He’s waiting for you with arms opened wide.

Colossians 1:1-2  (You are a special messenger , personally chosen to represent Christ. No one else can do what you are called to do.)

Paul, an apostle (special messenger, personally chosen representative) of Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed) by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the [a]saints and faithful [b]believers in Christ [who are] at Colossae: Grace to you and peace [inner calm and spiritual well-being] from God our Father.

Ephesians 2: 8-10 (Everything we have and are given is given to us by grace not because of merit, to do what God has prepared in advance to do.)
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9not by works, so that no-one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

 

 

See you next week,

Vanessa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

Jehovah Raah…the Lord is my Shepherd.

As common as it sounds, The Lord being our shepherd is actually very comforting, when we consider the cultural and social implications, when David and others wrote it.

It seems the Israelites always had someone who was a shepherd. Abel kept watch over the flocks. Abraham, Lot, Isaac and Jacob kept sheep. When Joseph went down to Eygpt as a slave, and then found favour with Pharoh, his family came down with the famine, he asked them to say that they were shepherds, ( they were), and so had Goshen assigned to them, away from the Eygptians. Moses was a prince for 40 years, a shepherd for 40 years ( where he found his wife, Zipporah and heard God from a burning bush), and a leader for the next 40 years. David was a shepherd, whom the family don’t think much of, before he killed Goliath and later became a king. Jeremiah and Ezekial warned about false shepherds, and also gave the Israelites hope about the coming of a true Shepherd, who would never abandon His sheep. When Jesus spoke to the people, He called Himself the Good Shepherd on multiple occasions. He said His sheep would recognize His voice. He had other sheep that He needed to reach, who would be part of the fold.

There’s the famous psalm, 23, that most people know and have heard. While I was reading up on this psalm, I found several commentaries, so I’m going to write down a little from the one I really liked, with bits and pieces from others.

Jehovah Raah is derived from Ro’eh ( which means Shepherd). Jehovah Raah can mean The Lord is my Shepherd or the The Lord Shepherds me. It can even mean The Lord is my friend or The Lord my companion. It means that He is near. He is very close. He watches over me. He hears me when I call. He listens to me and understands me. He is my caregiver. He provides for me. He cares for me.

Let me let you about sheep, though. They are dumb. They follow each other, with no thought, they’ve been known to jump off a cliff following the herd. They need protection, they don’t have claws, or hooves or powerful jaws to fend off predators. They are generally frightened of everything, they can’t or won’t drink from running water, shepherds have to dam up the water, to get them to drink from still, calm water. Sheep are basically helpless creatures who cannot survive long without a shepherd, upon whose care they are totally dependent.

Now , comparing ourselves to sheep, and God to the Good Shepherd, we are dumb ( we really are!), we fall into the same trap of sin and sinning , over and over again. We follow the crowd, and want to fit in ( peer pressure anyone?). We can’t defend ourselves against the powers of darkness and the evil one. We need the Lord of angel armies, His angels , and the shepherds He’s placed over us to fight for us and with us to win the war that we’re in, the war for our souls. Sometimes we (I ) are frightened over everything. The rushing waters ( our storms, our troubles, our valleys of sorrow)  that we need The Shepherd to dam up the waters for us ( give us a way out of our temptations, bring us to a mountain , fight off our accuser ). We are basically helpless, needing to be dependent completely on Him.

Him, on the other hand, is the Good Shepherd, the True Shepherd. He watches over us intently. He leads us lovingly and gently. His voice is one we can trust.  When one of us strays, He chases after us to bring us back to safety, His fold. He fights off predators, and destroys the enemy. He places shepherds over us ( pastors, preachers, teachers, mentors) who are true to Him. He gives us food to eat (His Word), and refreshes us in His Spirit. He has sheep all over the world. He gave His life for the sheep.

So I’m going to break down Psalm 23. Please go back to His Word, and discover what The Shepherd/ this Friend and Companion means to you personally. This is just a guide.

1 The Lord is my shepherd, (Relationship…. I am His daughter)  I lack nothing. (Supply…He provides for me, materially, relationally, spiritually)

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, (Rest….In the midst of a weary life, He makes me calm and peaceful)
he leads me beside quiet waters, (Refreshment…In the midst of the same things happening over and over, He makes me new and gives me new joy)

3 he refreshes my soul. (Healing…There’s nothing that affects me or my loved ones that He can’t or won’t cure, either in this world or in Heaven)
He guides me along the right paths (Guidance….He shows me what to do, when I am confused)
for his name’s sake. (Purpose…I’m called to glorify Him, I’m meant to praise Him)

4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a] (Testing….to refine me and strengthen me, to use me for His glory)
I will fear no evil, (Protection…I’m not alone, He’s always by my side)
for you are with me; (Faithfulness…He can be trusted, all His promises are true) 
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Discipline…to bring me back to the path of life, when I stray )

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.  (Hope…He lifts me up, even with my shame, He gives me honour)
You anoint my head with oil; (Consecration…He makes me holy , like Him)
my cup overflows. (Abundance…I can’t contain or count His many blessings, I don’t mean material blessings) 

6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life, (Blessing…He cares for me enough to give me a personal blessing)
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord (Security…I have a place where I belong)
for ever. (Eternity… and I will never move from there or be asked to leave).

 

These are just a few verses that I found that talk about the Shepherd, and the shepherds that He has placed over us.

1 Chronicles 21:17 David said to God, ‘Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd, have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Lord my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people.’

Psalm 23:1  The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Psalm 78:71 from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance.

Psalm 78:72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skilful hands he led them.

Psalm 80:1 [ Psalm 80 ] [ For the director of music. To the tune of ‘The Lilies of the Covenant’. Of Asaph. A psalm. ] Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth

Isaiah 40:11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 44:28 who says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, ‘Let it be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid.’”

Isaiah 61:5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.

Jeremiah 17:16 I have not run away from being your shepherd; you know I have not desired the day of despair. What passes my lips is open before you.

Jeremiah 23:4  I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,’ declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 3:15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.

Jeremiah 31:10 ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: “He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.”

Jeremiah 33:12 ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In this place, desolate and without people or animals – in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks.

Jeremiah 34:1 [ The Lord will be Israel’s shepherd ] The word of the Lord came to me:

Ezekiel 34:7 ‘“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:

Micah 5:4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.

Zechariah 9:16The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown.

John 10:11 ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:14 ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me

Hebrews 13:20 [ Benediction and final greetings ] Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,

Finally, the shepherd cares for the sheep because he loves them and wants to maintain his own good reputation as a faithful shepherd. As we’ve seen in Psalm 23, the analogy of the Lord as the Good Shepherd was also applied by Jesus in John chapter 10. In declaring that He is the shepherd of the sheep, Jesus is confirming that He is God. The Eternal God is our Shepherd. And we would not want it any other way.

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

Eating marshmallows in church.

When we first moved to a new city in 2016 for my husband’s job and started going to a new church, I wanted to jump in and start serving in the church right away. After all that’s what I did in the previous two churches in the 2 different cities that we had been a part of for the last 6 years. Monica, though, told me to wait. Monica, who has become a dear friend, and a godly mentor to me these last few months. Monica, on that Saturday, had just met me at a ladies’ brunch at the church. She barely knew me, but prompted by the Holy Spirit, told me to wait. Wait on the Lord first and foremost. Wait to serve Him, but serve Him by serving my husband and my children in the meantime. Serve Him by investing in my children’s lives (like an investment broker 🙂 ). Serve Him by being present with my husband. Honour Him with what I was doing and not worry about what I thought I should be doing.

Honouring Him by waiting Click to tweet!

I’m so glad that I did listen to her.

My younger son who had been diagnosed with Autism in 2015, started up ABA therapy and his hours went up from 15 to 20 and then 26 and 30 hours per week. I’ve had therapists in and out of my house for the past 2 years (2 different states) and I still do :-). Sometimes things happen, they are sick or their children are, a tire’s flat and they can’t drive, it’s a snow day and they can’t come, and sessions have had to be rescheduled. Because I wasn’t signed up in church, to serve in any capacity on a weekly basis and I wasn’t expected anywhere, I was able to accommodate any and all changes within reason 🙂

In the nearly 2 years of therapy, we’ve seen a lot of changes and improvements, some steps going back, but everything we’ve done so far, and everything we’ve sacrificed , all the time we’ve spent has been worth it 🙂

We’ve gone from merely surviving to a place where we can say , as a family in the midst of the fullness and busyness of life, we’re thriving. My daughter loves her school and enjoys every minute spent there. My son and I, our days are filled with his therapy and we’re learning to have fun during the long days, with visits to parks and play areas thrown in. My husband’s learning to balance his work and home life with us. Apart from our daily schedules, the only places we go “out” to are churches ( we still attend 3-4 churches often, with 1-2 churches being our stable that we attend every week), different parks and play areas in malls/ MacDonald’s/ Chick-Fill-A’s. We eat out very rarely and do other fun things almost never. It’s easier taking my son to places that he’s used to, so that he’s not overwhelmed.

There are several instances in the last few months that I’ve seen God’s Hand at work in our lives. I’ve also seen confirmation that the advice Monica gave me to wait, was indeed from the Holy Spirit. Adam has been making more eye contact, understanding more of what we say, speaking more and letting us know his wants appropriately. He’s been affectionate, demonstrating and asking for attention and affection like other boys his age. He’s been sleeping well and eating more as well. Christina is talking up a storm and dreaming up stories and able to articulate what she feels and tell us exactly what happened in school and what her friends did ( for a child who needed speech therapy to start talking, this is amazing!).

One of the times I remember was a Sunday when we were at our main church, which is a family service (the children sit with us so we take play doh, writing things, markers, pipe cleaners and snacks to keep them occupied and busy during the service). Adam had just started demonstrating affection in the weeks before that Sunday. He came and sat on my lap and was busy with his things and Christina came over and sat on my lap too. Adam kept looking at me, and touching my face, and smiling when I smiled back at home. Christina didn’t fight or push her brother off 🙂 and was busy with her own things. My husband had the snacks, he would offer the marshmallows (from the Lucky Charms cereal ) or the veggie straws or the cookies to them. They went and took it from him, and came back to my lap. This pattern went on throughout the hour and half service. That was also the first time that Adam sat throughout the service without making a ruckus.

Usually halfway through one of us takes him to the car. We love the pastor and the family and their love for God and the teaching of His Word authentically and so we continue to worship there. We go to 2 of the churches because the children’s programs are amazing and they make a real effort to include Adam in the regular classes (and the teaching is straight from God’s Word too which we appreciate). The other regular church that we attend weekly is down the street from us, and we love attending the mid week service, it gives us a safe place to take the children as well as an opportunity to worship God together as a couple.

So on that Sunday in December, Adam and Christina sat on my lap and were cuddly and loving and gentle and I was grateful. I was grateful for God working in their lives. I was grateful to Him for showing me that my time invested in them was paying dividends. I was grateful that all the months and years and minutes uncounted that I was working with Adam that nobody saw was showing tangible results. I was grateful to God for our family and marriage which He had restored. I was grateful that our children are happy, fun-loving, cuddly children and were thriving.

I still am. When I think of how far away these milestones were 2 years ago, I’m overwhelmed with His goodness. How Kind, how Compassionate, how Gentle, how Good our God is. To show me He is working, He is still working with all of us. To show me He is in control. To show me He loves Christina and Adam more than I ever will. To show me that they are made in His Image, and He will use them to Glorify Himself through them. To show me that He Is God. He Will Always Be. He knows what He’s doing. I just have to trust Him.

I want to mention at this time, that I don’t go by my “feelings and emotions”. I’m up and down, but whatever happens then, whatever I feel, First I bring it to the Lord, Second I wait, Third I search through scripture to back it up or refute it, and finally I either bring it to my husband or a trusted godly family member or my mentor. (When I “feel’ that God said something or something was from God or that God is doing something in my life )

There are times when I have peace about certain things, but I don’t naturally assume every time I have peace about something, it is from God. Which is why I’ve taken so long to write this post. Our feelings and emotions are part of who we are, and are definitely given to us from God ( Psalm 139 For I am fearfully and wonderfully made), but Jeremiah 17:9 the heart is deceitful above all things, is true as well. God is a good Father from whom we receive every good and perfect gift and who does not change like shifting shadows James 1:7. We can wait on Him, if it is definitely from Him, it will stand the test of time, it will not change. If it is not from Him, the passing of time will reveal it as well.

There are also times, when you know, it is from God. Those moment/s and situation/s look different for everybody. At those times, it is in your best interest (and mine) to completely follow through on the instructions/ direction / commandments being given by God.

Anyway this post is about seeing His faithfulness and marveling at His goodness for me and mine. It’s about remembering where we were and how far He’s brought us. He has definitely been working in all four of us and we can see the results. I write this to praise Him for what He has done, knowing He will continue to do so. I write this to glorify Him for Who He Is. My Maker, my Father, my Shepherd, my Healer, my God and my LORD.

Some of my favourite verses on waiting are

1.Psalm 46:10

10 He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;

    I will be exalted among the nations,

    I will be exalted in the earth.’

2.Isaiah 30:15

15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

‘In repentance and rest is your salvation,

    in quietness and trust is your strength,

    but you would have none of it.

 

3.2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

4.Philippians 1:6

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Be still and know that He is GodClick to tweet!

 

If you’ve seen God’s faithfulness to you, would you share that with me?

With gratitude and praise,

Vanessa.

 

What would it take to turn from Crucify Him to Hosanna?

I’m fascinated, perplexed, pole-axed, betrayed in turns when I read the accounts of Jesus coming into Jerusalem , riding on a donkey, a triumph for him, a week before His crucifixion, with people waving palm branches and shouting ‘Hosanna”. Most of these people would turn their backs on Him and shout “Crucify Him”.

I’ll explain those emotions in a moment, but what I’ve laid out is just the barebones account of it all. It’s like saying Person A went to place B riding on animal C with people saying D 🙂

This triumphal entry is mentioned in all 4 gospel accounts in the Bible, but to the skeleton of the story, each account adds different muscles and ligaments.

In Matthew 21: 1-17,  Jesus tells 2 disciples to go ahead into the village at Bethphage, and find an un-ridden young colt, and it only mentions that this is done to fulfill the prophesy, and then a large number of people laid their cloaks on the donkey and the road and cut branches from a tree and cried/sang “Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’[c] ‘Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!’“. While entering Jerusalem there is a stir and the people want to know who He is, to which they receive the reply, “He is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee”. Jesus enters the temple and overturns (again) the money changers’ tables and drives out those who were buying and selling. Jesus heals the blind and the lame, and the children cry out to Him in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David“. The chief priests are indignant and come to Jesus to make this stop, Jesus then quotes  Psalm 8:2 ‘“From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise”[g]“. Jesus then goes to Bethany and spends the night there.

In Mark 11:1-11, Jesus is near Bethphage and Bethany , He sends 2 disciples with instructions to untie the colt and what to say, they go there to the village and do what He says , the people spread branches that they had cut from the fields. The crowd cries  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!’ Then Jesus goes to the temple and looks around, and since it was late , He and the 12 go to Bethany.

In Luke 19:28-46, Jesus sends 2 disciples ahead with instructions (detailed) on where to find the colt and what to say. The disciples do it and bring the donkey to Jesus, they spread their cloaks on the donkey, and other people spread their cloaks on the ground and as Jesus is riding, they joyfully sing out ” 38 ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’[a] ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” The priests ask Jesus to rebuke them, and He replies ” If they’re quiet, the stones will cry out”. Jesus approaches Jerusalem and weeps over the city because of her un-repentance and then He enters the city and drives out the commercially minded people in the Temple.

In John 12:12-19, The crowd that came for the festival (Passover) hear Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem, so they took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna![a]‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’[b] ‘Blessed is the king of Israel!’” Jesus finds a donkey and sits on it. It is mentioned the disciples did not understand then, but after Christ is glorified, they remember all that He did to fulfill the scriptures.

All 4 accounts are basically similar. All 4 accounts have different details mentioned though.

“Hosanna” which is now part of many songs is widely believed to be an expression of praise similar to “Hallelujah”. I held to that belief until I was disabused of it just recently. “Hosanna” actually means “Please save me or Deliver me” You can read the rest of “Hosanna ” at GotQuestions. com. The block below has the root words from here Hosanna comes.

Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, similar to hallelujah, but it is actually a plea for salvation. The Hebrew root words are found in Psalm 118:25, which says, “Save us, we pray, O LORD!” (ESV). The Hebrew words yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna.” Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!”

So……… a crowd of people are joyfully and uninhibitedly shouting “Please save me” and then in less than a week, the same people are screaming with rage “Crucify Him”.

What does that take? Would you be filled with rage? Anger? Bitterness? Resentment? Pent up expectations? Unmet needs? What would make you desire another person’s horrible and painful death? Another human being. A good man and a great teacher . One who taught with authority. One who healed people. One who provided bread. One who raised the dead. I believe with everything in me that Jesus was and is and will be God. He was God when He was human, and He is still  God now. He is not merely a good teacher or a great man. Those sentences above , perhaps , described the feelings of some people of Jesus’ time.

I’m not sure though, on the other hand, I have a pretty good idea. What would make you shake your fist at God? To yell and scream and curse and turn away from Him? Divorce? Abuse? Molestation? Death ? Chronic illness? Loss of job? Poverty? Bankruptcy? Disillusionment? Disappointment? Despair ? All of those and probably many more are reasons people use to turn away from or not accept Him in the first place.

While these situations and more that I can’t imagine are all terrible, and pain filled, and hurtful, and have lasting consequences and seem like they have no resolution, may I encourage you to turn from “Crucify Him” back to “Hosanna” . Return to Him. Give Him your love, your devotion, your surrender. He is right there with you in your sorrows. He sees your tears. He knows the end. He sees how the tapestry of your life here and in heaven is woven and HE CARES ABOUT YOU. Nothing you’re going through will make Him turn His back on you. Nothing that you do will be too much for Him to handle. I have no reasons for why life is difficult, (please don’t assume that we’re living an easy life right now, we’re not as a family, for more read this about our journey as son was diagnosed with Autism)., but I do know that HE IS ENOUGH FOR ME.

I grew up in the church and in a Christian family, and I accepted Christ for myself as a teenager. I married a Christian and we “did” the Christian lifestyle for many years. But it has only been recently as we have clung to Him, separately and together as a couple, that we’ve come to a place where we can say with all confidence, that nothing will we hold back from Him. Not our marriage, not our children, not health (theirs and ours), not job security, not our reputations, not our family. With giving control completely to Him, He has restored our marriage, He has shown us how our son has been improving, He has given favour in my husband’s job, He has brought people in our lives to counsel/ help/ encourage/ pray/ mentor us as we are far from our respective families.

He has done it, and we are so overwhelmed by His goodness. I can honestly say that I can turn to Him and praise Him with a “Hallelujah” or plead with Him with a “Hosanna”. He hears my pleas. He is close to me when I am broken. He lifts me when I fall down. He accepts my praise. He deserves my devotion and worship. And He has it.

If you’re not there yet, may I direct your attention to  Psalm 73? My favourite verses are

16 When I tried to understand all this,
    it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
    then I understood their final destiny.

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterwards you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion for ever.

28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds.

If you are in the place where your “crucify Him” has turned to “Hosanna” and “Blessed is the Lord” please share that with us, so we can be thankful for what God has done in your lives and glorify Him.

With joy and peace ,

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)