Israel Trip – Day 3 (Magdala)

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Our last visit of the day was to Magdala. This is the site of an archeological dig which has unearthed an early synagogue as well as more remains of ancient life. It is also famous for being the city that Mary Magdalene was from.

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The oldest synagogue on the Sea of Galilee, thought to be from the first century. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

A beautiful church (Duc In Altum: “Put out into the deep”) on the site commemorates not only Mary Magdalene but other women in Jesus’ life. Our Irish tour guide from the Magdala site (Celine Kelly) was an entertaining and passionate storyteller. She made the visit unforgettable.

She pointed out the church’s many features. The Women’s Atrium dedicated to Jesus’ women disciples has eight pillars. Seven hold inscriptions of women’s names:

Mary Magdalene (John 20:1);

Susanna and Joanna (Luke 8:3);

Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38);

Salome (Matthew 20:20, Mark 15);

Simon Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:15);

Maria Cleophas (John 19:25);

And “Aliae Multae”: “many other women” who supported Jesus – Mark 15:41.

The eighth pillar is unmarked and “stands for women of all time who love God and live by faith. Each woman can spiritually inscribe her name as a poignant reminder of her role in the history of humanity” – Magdala: Walk Where Jesus Taught booklet, p. 6,7.

The cupola includes an image of folded hands that “… signify the importance of women who accompany Jesus in the mission of extending the kingdom through prayer” – Ibid p. 7.

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The church has four beautiful mosaic chapels.

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The Mary Magdalene Chapel. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The Daughter of Jairus Chapel. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Walking on Water Chapel

And the Fishers of Men Chapel (which I missed photographing).

The main chapel has a boat-shaped altar and rests on beautiful marble (I think she said imported from Norway) that looks a lot like waves of water,

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Boat-shaped Altar. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Imported marble resembles waves of water. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Down some stairs, is the “Encounter Chapel” which “makes use of original stones found in the excavation of the road and marketplaces near the port” – Ibid p. 14.

Here on display is another beautiful painting depicting the woman with the issue of blood touching Jesus’ clothes (Mark 5:25). Our guide told us stories of numerous healings having taken place in this chapel when people came to meditate and pray.

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Painting depicting the woman with an issue of blood, reaching out and touching Jesus’ clothes. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Our visit to Magdala was a wonderful way to end our day of sightseeing.

From Magdala we traveled  by bus to Tiberias and the Kinar Hotel where we checked in, had a delicious buffet dinner, and spent the night.

Waves over me #BibleJournaling

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With the recent rains and cooler temperatures it feels like summer is over. But what a summer it’s been! In our little corner of earth it’s been unusually hot and dry with hundreds of wildfires burning in the hinterland of the province. Thousands have had to leave their fire-endangered homes to take refuge in temporary shelters till the threat passed.

In other places hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes have been the threats—threats that are ongoing for some.

Psalm 42 seems like an appropriate expression for so many people:

“My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
‘Where is your God?’” – Psalm 42:3.

and

“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of your waterfalls
All your waves and billows have gone over me” – Psalm 42:7.

Rebekah R. Jones tackled this psalm in her Original Bible Art Journaling Challenge seriesWeek 20 blog post and video. Her interpretation was a double-page spread of stylized waves, rendered in brilliant Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens. So pretty!

I decided to go realistic instead and, using pencil and pencil crayon, journaled a wave with a person standing just below it, about to be swamped by its breaking force. I’m sure that’s how many people have felt as they’ve faced this summer’s natural (and other) disasters.

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Bible Art Journal entry for Psalm 42:7,8  (V. Nesdoly)

But God is still in the house, despite what it looks or feels like. With the Sons of Korah we can say:

“The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night, His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life” – Psalm 42:8.

 

(Note the sun rays peeking out behind the cloud and spray.)

May your “prayers to the God of my life” lead to “songs in the night,” whatever life is throwing at you.

When you don’t have a clue … #BibleJournaling

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Do you believe in prayer? Or a better question might be, do you believe that God acts in response to our prayers?

Prayer was the sermon topic at church on August 6th. Jason, one of our talented young pastors, began his talk by reading the story of Peter encountering the lame beggar on his way into church. The beggar asked for money. Peter replied, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you” – Acts 3:6. Then he brought the man healing in Jesus’ name.

Jason suggested this, I think profound, paradigm for Christ-followers: “When we’re out of our resources, we’re not at the end of our service.”

So true! We may not have a clue about what to do and may not have anything to give. But we can invite Someone into the situation who has more than a clue and can make every difference!

Jason’s talk was a challenge to bring Jesus into situations through prayer, not only during formal prayer times but for each other in unlikely places, during and about the ups and downs of life. Through prayer, we can invite God’s limitless resources and power into difficult, even impossible circumstances. (You can hear/watch all of Jason’s sermon “Intro to Prayer Ministry” HERE.)

I journaled Jason’s statement in my Bible so I wouldn’t forget.

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Bible Art Journaling – Acts 3:6-8 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Self-portrait #BibleJournaling

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A self-portrait in a Bible? Really!?

That was Rebekah R. Jones’ Week 17 Original Bible Art Journaling Challenge. In response to Genesis 1:27 (“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”), she created a lovely portrait of herself holding a container of art supplies. She transferred the image from a photograph and coloured it with ink tense pencils (devotional and video HERE).

Rebekah’s challenge was “Choose to create something that expresses you best. What God created and loves about you. He puts desires in our heart and loves to see us enjoy life.”

After watching the video I wondered, can I even do this? I’m so bad at drawing people!  What would I make? Do I have a picture that represents me in such an iconic way?

As I mulled over these things I remembered a photo hubby took of me some years ago. We were hiking on Salt Spring Island and in the background were trees, the rocky bluffs, and the ocean. I’ve always loved and felt a special kinship with the natural world so I decided to try and create a self-portrait using that photo.

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I printed the photo in black and white and traced over it, transferring it to my Bible page using graphite paper. Then I darkened the outline with pigma micron pens and the colour with pencil crayons and a little watercolour.

As I was working on my portrait, an incident came to mind. It happened on a January day in 2016. It had rained all day and I felt cooped up in the house. Late afternoon the rain stopped and I went for a short walk.

The glint of white and the shape of a duck-tail head caught my attention as I passed a local stream. Could it be the pair of ducks I’d seen there very occasionally?

I slowed, stopped, and sure enough. It was a couple of Hooded Mergansers. I watched as this showy pair swam, dived, and swam some more in front of me and my camera.

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A pair of Hooded Mergansers, one of the photos I snapped that January day (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

I was full of happiness as I walked home a few minutes later, overjoyed to have chanced on these lovely birds. “Thank You, Lord,” I prayed silently.

And then I sensed God saying to me, “Violet, I know you. I know you love such things. It was not by chance that you spotted and enjoyed those birds on your walk today. I was in it–not just for you but also for Me.

“I know you enjoy making things. So do I. And I love it when you appreciate and enjoy the things I have made, just like you love it when people appreciate and enjoy what you make.” {goosebumps much?}

On that day, then, I grasped in a deeper way than ever before, what it means that I am created in the image of God. And so I added a stream to my picture and drew a couple of mergansers swimming in it.

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How would you illustrate Rebekah’s challenge of what expresses you best, of how you are created in God’s image? Maybe you should do it!

 

Surrounded by songs #BibleJournaling

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I’ve found several Bible verses to go along with my 2017 word LISTEN. One is Zephaniah 3:17:

“The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Isn’t that beautiful? I had to make an entry for it in my journaling Bible.

The image that comes to mind when I hear that verse is a mother singing to her baby. I decided to try doing a baby sketch, but in a tree. A google image search pulled up a graphic that I somewhat copied.

I found simple bird sketches in The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling and penciled them in freehand, then inked over all the pencil lines with Pigma Micron pens (I have three: .01, .03, .05). I used pencil crayons to do the coloring.

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Entry for Zephaniah 3:17 (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

A little sequel:
Last week was my birthday. The morning after, as I lay in bed, the thought came to me: I forgot to spend some birthday time with the Lord yesterday.

As I breathed my “So sorry Lord” prayer, it was like He said to me, “That’s okay. I still have a present for you. It’s the music that I sing over you.”

About an hour later, hubby and I were in church at our early morning prayer meeting. We start that time with worship and this morning our leader, Joel, began with the beautiful song “No Longer Slaves” (Bethel Music). It starts:

“You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
All my fears are gone…”

{{Shivers}} What a birthday present! Thank you Lord!!

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A Traveler’s Advisory (review)

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A Traveler's AdvisoryA Traveler’s Advisory by Marcia Lee Laycock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In A Traveler’s Advisory, author Marcia Laycock takes readers from the Arctic Circle to the jungles of Papua New Guinea and home again. Each of the 52 meditations draws spiritual lessons from a travel experience (sections are titled “In the Air,” “On the Road,” “On Vacation,” and “Far Away Places”) and make practical applications to life.

Written in Marcia’s characteristic warm, easy-to-read style, they make for fascinating and uplifting reading. Some of my favorites:

– Most fun: “Sea Shells and the Process of Faith” (p. 111)—hunting for sea shells on a Papua New Guinea beach.

– Sadly relatable: “A Wrong Turn to the Right Place” (p. 34)— going in circles is not fun!

– Would make my bucket list: “Angels in the Badlands” (p. 71)—a visit to the Passion Play in the Alberta Badlands.

– Most scary: “Doubts in the Storm” (p. 41)—being stuck on a highway from the Yukon to Alaska in a snowstorm.

– Most beautiful: “Small Miracles” (p. 87)—a hike through the Sepik area of New Guinea.

– Most weird: “An Appreciation of Light” (p. 73)—a trek through some skeleton-filled caves, a relic of cannibalism, in New Guinea.

Through these devotions we discover that God’s voice, help, direction, comfort, and protection can find us wherever we are.

A Traveler’s Advisory would be a wonderful volume to read while on holiday. Or if home-bound, enjoy these travels vicariously from the safety and comfort of your reading chair. Your life will be enriched and your appreciation for the Earth, its inhabitants, and the God who made them enhanced.

I received a copy of A Traveler’s Advisory from the author for the purpose of writing a review.

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Fit for Prayer (review)

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Fit for Prayer (Fit for Faith)Fit for Prayer by Kimberley Payne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Fit for Prayer—Learn How to Fit Prayer and Physical Activity Into Your Daily Routine, author and lifestyle coach Kimberley Payne promises to help us “… gain insight into how to incorporate prayer and fitness into your daily routine”- Fit for Prayer, p. 5.

The book is divided into three sections. Chapters 1-3 talk about exercising our bodies. Chapters 4-6 deal with prayer. Chapters 7-8 are a self-test and action stops to take to incorporate exercise and prayer into daily life.

Though in Chapters 1-3 Payne doesn’t describe specific exercises in detail, the fourteen exercise strategies she lists (in Chapter 2) would benefit a person following any exercise program. Her example of an exercise goal plan (Chapter 3) is clear and the blank goal page along with five exercise-related questions would help anyone get started exercising regularly.

In the how-to-pray section (Chapters 4-6) Payne follows the chapter that defines prayer and its benefits (Chapter 4) with a chapter on what prayer consists of using P.A.T.H. as an acronym (praise, admit, thank, and help – Chapter 5). The last chapter in the section (6) describes how to set prayer goals.

The final section of the book, a multi-page True and False self-test (Chapter 7), is followed by “Action Plan,” (Chapter 8). That plan contains ordinary prayer strategies (like “Keep a prayer journal of answered prayers”) and strategies that combine prayer with exercise (like “Pray while walking” – p. 33).

Though short (only 36 pages of content) in Fit for Prayer Payne manages to deliver a practical and inspirational manual designed to motivate readers to cultivate physical and spiritual health simultaneously.

This is another book that would be useful for women’s groups and individuals. I expect I will be consulting my copy again in the soon-upon-us resolution making time of the year.

I received Fit for Prayer as a gift from the author for the purpose of writing a review. Visit Kimberley Payne’s website to check out other lifestyle materials she has authored and is offering as books, e-courses, and free programs.

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