Guest post by Diana Monte.

Featured image is “Still waters at Dawn…… An original oil painting by Diana Monte. “

I would love to tell you that what I remember fondly about Diana is her long, rich, black hair or her amazing height, but that’s not it. Every time I think of her , I remember a woman being patient and loving and ready to meet me in my broken-ness. She did not know me then, but I was crying and sobbing my heart out at church one evening, and she came and sat with me ( and pretended for a short time that she did not see my tears ) and told me she was waiting eagerly for her daughters to come back from college on vacation. She made small talk and drew me out. Once we were conversing she asked me what was on my heart, and do you know it, it brought the tears back! This time in release. I’m forever grateful to Diana for just hearing me out, and then praying with me and seeking me out after this episode. I think you’d love what constitutes worship to her. I pray you will be blessed by her post as I have been by the person.

Some other posts on worship by other authors are Guest post by Kailee Diaz., Guest post by Carole Sparks.Guest post by Vanessa A Harris. and Guest post by Bruce Cooper.  These godly authors have written on what worship means to them and each of the posts are very different. My hope is to inspire you to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, and to do so daily, minute by minute, hour by hour. He deserves your worship.

16" x 20" Taos Winter by Diana Monte
Painting by Diana Monte.

 

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Arabian prince by Diana Monte

Diana Monte has been teaching private painting classes for the past twenty years. She is a ‘juried’ artist whose work has been shown at the New Mexico State Fair, local Art Studio Tours, Los Ranchos Lavender Festival, Encantada Art Exhibition and several other venues. She currently is the featured poster winner for  lavenderinthevillage.com  being held on July 15th.

It is Diana’s genuine hope that her paintings bring an atmosphere of peace to a home and reflect the beauty displayed in God’s creation. You can find her art at dianamontefineart.com

Diana and her husband John live in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque with their two beautiful  daughters, Ariana and Lydia. Her husband John is on the Pastoral Staff at Legacy Church and Diana is actively involved Directing the Bliss Women’s Ministry at the East Campus at her church. Her passion is to use her art to glorify Him and to bring women into a deeper knowledge of Him.

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Diana Monte

 

 

 

I was asked by Vanessa to share a little bit about Worship and how it is a part of my daily life.  I agreed and I am delighted to share a few things with you that hopefully will help you along in life. ☺

I am an artist and I am so very thankful to God for this gift/talent of creativity. Using oil paint on a canvas is an expression and passion of mine to glorify and honor Him. Over the course of many years, I have said “If I don’t use it, I’ll lose it!”   So I regularly and continually utilize and broaden my painting skills so that the God given talent increases.  It is my heart’s desire that my paintings will minister to people in some way. I pray and ask God for wisdom and ability when I paint.   Bottom line: I want to utilize my artistic talents more and more to glorify God.

Worship – the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration.

“the worship of God”

synonyms:

reverence, veneration, adoration, glorification, glory, exaltation;

devotion, praise, thanksgiving, homage, honor;

archaic magnification

Every day is a new day to grow and transform into the person that God has destined you and I to be.  What talent/gift has God given you to utilize??

Every day isn’t a bed of roses, we all face challenges, obstacles and trials in one way or another.  In the midst of these trying times, do we press into God for help and direction?  You see, our transformation usually occurs when we are being hard pressed and challenged in an uncomfortable circumstance or situation.

No matter the circumstances around you remember that God is for you and not against you. He is your strength when you are weak and weary. And He will never leave you nor forsake you. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

II Corinthians 12:9 / Psalm 121:1-2

I often will journal the struggles I am facing and write down the following:

  • The date and description of what the circumstances are
  • What I am praying and believing God for
  • And the emotions I am going through at the time.
  • I pray for wisdom and direction and declare that I am trusting God to be with me through it!  I always try to pray until I have a peace knowing that it is God’s hands and not mine.
  • I also find a couple of scripture verses that I can say out loud to continually pray over every situation. It is only then that I can rejoice & praise Him by faith, for the victory.

Some prayers are answered quickly and some may take years to see.

But the Fact remains, our God is Faithful !

I cannot have a victory without having the battle! A Victory reminds me that God has heard my cries for help. Growing through the tough times makes you and me stronger in so many areas.  The most important thing is knowing that God is actively involved in my life.  To me, that makes life worth living and gives me something wonderful to Worship Him for!

A situation could might be staring me in the Face, and I KNOW that it’s going to work itself out. How do I know?? Because God has ALWAYS brought me through every single situation!  I can wholeheartedly say that I can Worship God every day regardless of what I feel like.

10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] Philippians 3:10 (AMPC)

I pray God’s blessing over you, that your gifts/talents and abilities continue to grow and increase.  May you also express Worship wholeheartedly in your daily life!

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Olive Harvest by Diana Monte

 

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Daises by Diana Monte

 

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Some of Diana’s paintings on view at the Lavender festival. My favourites are the “Jesus the good shepherd” (3rd row, 2nd painting) and the “Still waters at Dawn” (2nd row, 1st painting, also the featured image)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed reading Diana’s post. Bring your talents to Him and watch Him do wonders with it.

In Him,

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

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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Vanessa.

 

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.

Exodus part 1: A God who speaks.

A couple of weeks ago we read in Genesis, how God created everything from nothing, chose a man for no other reason that He did, He was faithful to his descendants and gave them a promise, a covenant. We’ll start with the next book of the Old Testament Exodus. Exodus was also written by Moses (as Genesis was) and starts nearly 400 years later. Exodus is named for the Israelites leaving Egypt but deals with their journey in the desert as well.

In chapter 1: We see that there’s a new Pharaoh who doesn’t know or care about Joseph  saving Egypt. He and his people are jealous/ worried about/ fearful of the number of Israelites and so force them into hard labour.* Pharaoh orders the midwives Shiphrah and Puah to kill all male Hebrew babies at birth. They fear God and so don’t obey him.

In chapter 2: A Levite couple hide their son in a papyrus basket and let him float on the River Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter rescues him and lets his mother nurse him till he is weaned. Moses as an adult sees an Egyptian beating an Israelite and so kills the Egyptian. Pharaoh tries to kill Moses, so he flees to Midian. There he stays with Reuel /Jethro and marries his daughter Zipporah and has a son and names him Gershom ( I have become a foreigner in a foreign land). The chapter ends with saying God remembered His covenant with Abraham’s descendants.

In chapters 3-4: Moses sees a burns on fire but that hasn’t burned up. He hears God speaking to him, who says (in v 5) “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Moses is given his commission , to deliver the Israelites. God warns him that Pharaoh will not relent until he sees all the signs God will perform. God also tells Moses that the people will not leave empty-handed, but will plunder the Egyptians when they leave ( the same promise He gave Abraham nearly 400 years earlier). God gives Moses three signs to perform for the people to prove that I AM Who I AM has sent him, ( staff turning into a snake and back again, Moses’ hand becoming leprous and then being healed, water poured on the ground becoming blood). Moses argues with God, but God’s anger burns against Moses and He says (in v 15)”I will help both of you( Moses ad Aaron) speak and will teach you what to do.” Aaron(his brother) is on his way to meet Moses. Moses leaves to Egypt with his wife and sons. *Zipporah circumcises her son to prevent Moses being struck down by the Lord who meets them on the way.

In chapters 5-6: At the end of chapter 4, Moses had reached Egypt and meets with the elders and gives them the signs God gave him, and they believe in Him and worship Him. Moses asks Pharaoh to let his people go, but Pharaoh orders the workload of the Israelites increased ( they still need to make bricks but straw is not provided). God promises (in v 6)‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’ God tells Moses, Aaron can speak for him, be his prophet.

In chapters 7,8,9,10: God performs many signs. First Aaron’s staff becomes a snake and eats up the snakes conjured by the chief priests from their staffs. Then the River Nile and all water stored in the cisterns turn into blood, and the chief priests of Egypt do the same. Then frogs cover the land, the chief priests do it as well. After this plague, we see Pharaoh tell Moses for the first time to pray to God to remove the plague and then he’ll let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord. But changes his heart later. Then gnats cover the land, the priests are unable to do so and so say “this is the Hand of God”. Then flies cover the land, from this time on God makes a distinction between the Israelites living in Goshen and the Egyptians, the Israelites are not affected by these latter plagues. Then the livestock of the Egyptians die. Then all the Egyptians have boils break out on their bodies. *Then a plague of hail. Then a plague of locusts (this time Pharaoh says only the men may leave). Then a plague of darkness lasting three days ( this time Pharaoh says the men, women and children may go to worship God but they must leave their flocks behind).

Can your enemies see “the Hand of God” in your life? –Tweet this!

In chapters 11-12: In the previous plagues Moses warns Pharaoh, then the plague comes, Pharaoh relents and gives permission for the people to leave but asks Moses to pray to take away the plague, Moses prays, the plague stops ,then Pharaoh hardens his heart and refuses to let the people go. God warns Moses about the last plague, but tells them  (in v 2) that men and women alike are to ask their neighbours for articles of silver and gold.’ (The Lord made the Egyptians favourably disposed towards the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.) Moses warns Pharaoh. *God gives Moses the Passover instructions. At midnight the Lord strikes down the firstborn of every Egyptian, but the Israelites who followed God’s directions are saved. Pharaoh and his officials urge the people to leave. Pharaoh asks to be blessed first. His people are afraid they’ll die if the Israelites remain any longer. They give the Israelites all they ask for ,so the Israelites plunder the Egyptians. (in v 42) Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honour the Lord for the generations to come. 

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In chapter 13: God gives Moses guidelines to consecrate every firstborn to Him, of the human womb and the animals as well, if they do not redeem the animal, they must break its neck. God leads them from in front by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. (in v 18)The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.’[b

In chapter 14: God tells the Israelites to camp by the Red Sea. The Egyptians changed their minds about letting the Israelites leave and chase them with 600 chariots and the whole army. The Israelite people in fear cry out to Moses and wish that they had stayed in Egypt. God tells Moses that I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. Moses tells the people  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’ The Angel of the Lord goes from in front of the people to the back and the pillar of cloud gives light to the Israelites while the Egyptians are in darkness the whole night. During the night the Lord drives the water back with a strong east wind and the Israelites cross on dry land. When the Egyptians try to cross the Lord brings the water back and they drown.  And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. 

In chapter 15: Moses sings a song of joy to the Lord. Miriam and the women take out tambourines and with dancing praise Him. It’s so beautiful  you might want to read the whole thing here. They travel from the Red Sea into the desert for 3 days without finding water.They find water in Marah but it is bitter. *Here we see the Israelites complain. Moses cries out to the Lord who shows him a piece of wood, which when thrown into the water makes it fit to drink. There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.’  Then the Lord took them to Elim which had 12 springs and 70 palm trees and they camped near water. 

In chapter 16: They travel from Elim to the desert of Sin where the Israelites grumble about the lack of food. God sends quail to the camp at twilight and in the morning after the dew evaporates there’s a layer of manna (bread that was white like coriander seed and tasted like honey) on the ground. Each person collected enough for their family. No one had too much, no one had too little. They were to collect manna each day except on the Sabbath ( when what they collected the previous day would be enough for two days without spoiling). God does this so that  I(He) will test them and see whether they will follow my(His) instructions. The Lord tells them to keep a jar of manna for generations to remember that God provided for them.

In chapter 17: The Israelites left the desert of Sin and travelled from place to place till they came to Rephidim where they grumbled about not having water. This time the Lord tells Moses to take his staff and the elders of Israel and in their presence, strike a rock and water comes gushing out. Amalekites attack them at Rephidim, Moses sends Joshua and the *fighting men to attack them. Moses, Aaron and Hur watch the battle from on top of a hill. When Moses holds his hands up, the Israelites win, and when his hands come down , the Amalekites win. So Aaron and Hur put a rock for Moses to sit on and hold up his hands. The Israelites win and  (in v 15) Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is our Banner. 16 He said, ‘Because hands were lifted up against[c] the throne of the Lord. 

In chapter 18: Jethro/Reuel Moses’ father-in-law who is a priest in Midian hears about what God has done for the Israelites and that they have been released from Egypt. He received Moses’ wife Zipporah and his two sons Gershom and Eliezer whom Moses had sent away (we don’t know when that happened) and brings them to Moses in the desert. Jethro listens to everything that God did for the Israelites and gives Him praise and brings sacrifices to God. He also sees the way Moses handles the leadership (disputes, administration etc) and gives him very good advice about choosing helpers and delegating authority which Moses follows.

In chapter 19: On the first day of the 3rd month after the Israelites leave Egypt, they enter the desert of Sinai and camp at the base of the Mount Sinai. God calls Moses up to the mountain to speak to Him and tells him to remind the people “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. *Moses comes back down and gives the Israelites the message. 

In chapter 20: God gives Moses the 10 Commandments. The people see thunder and lightning coming from the mountain and are terrified to speak or see God themselves so they ask Moses to speak for them and they’ll listen to him. 20 Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’ God asks Moses to build an altar of earth and sacrifice their offerings on it. If they build one of stones it should be of undressed stones and they should not use a tool on it or it’ll be defiled.

*I love that their names, Shiprah and Puah, are mentioned, while Pharaoh ( a title)’s isn’t. Because they were faithful to Him, He gave them families of their own.

*We don’t see Zipporah after this , until Jethro brings Moses’ family to him in the desert and gives him advice about governing (later chapter). Zipporah and the sons may have gone back to her father’s house now, or turned back later, it’s not clear. What we do know is that Jethro does bring them back after Moses and the Israelites are in the desert and have escaped from Egypt.

*The plague of hail was such a storm that Egypt hadn’t seen. There was lightning and thunder and hail. What’s interesting to note is that God allows Moses to warn Pharaoh. Some Egyptians  (who are said to fear the Lord) bring their slaves and livestock under shelter, but others leave them out in the fields. Those who were left in the fields were beaten down by the hail, all trees were stripped bare and the flax and barley are destroyed ( I love the details provided in the Bible).

*Passover was later celebrated as a festival and was one of the most important ones in Israel. Even Jesus celebrated Passover. He would be crucified during it as the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. Here He tells them to take a year old male lamb without defect, kill it, and spread its blood on the doorpost of each home. They were to eat the meat of the lamb quickly and not leave any of it for the next day, if the meat was too much for a family, they were to share with another family . They were to cleanse their homes of all leaven and eat unleavened bread. Jesus as the Ultimate Sacrifice would shed His blood for us and cover  our sins. We “eat bread and drink wine/juice” in remembrance of His flesh broken for and His blood shed for us.

*We’ll see that the Israelites complain again and again and again. They seem to forget all the great things God has done for them until then. The Israelites sinned by complaining, because they complained against God, not Moses.

*Fighting men. The Israelites leave Egypt armed for battle in Exodus13:18.

*We’ll see Moses go up to Mount Sinai, speak to God, bring His message down to the people and take their reply back to Him, and he does this multiple times. The people say they will do what God asked them to do. God tells them the mountain is be set apart for Him, the people are not to force their way to see Him or they will be killed. God invites Moses to come up and then later Aaron. God tells the people He will come down to them in a cloud and they are to consecrate themselves before He does and the priests are to do as well. This is amazing because when God is born as a man, He comes down to the people as well, but He chooses the form of a common man who interacts with all people and at His death, He tears the veil of the temple signifying that all people now have unfiltered and unlimited access to Him. 

I know this is a long post on Exodus, but God reveals Himself through the Old Testament as well if you look for Him. He uses the OT to talk to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Have a blessed week friend.

Love,

Vanessa.