Wednesday, February 10, 2016

40 Days of Jesus ~ Day 1 (Mark 1)

Welcome to the first day of the 40 Days of Jesus challenge! I'll be experimenting a bit with how to run this here on my blog; and don't forget that the conversation is also being held on the Facebook group

For now, this post will be arranged like this--the heading for the chapter is a link to Bible Gateway. But I will also paste part of the chapter (in the NKJV, simply because it's what I use most often) into the post. It will be indented. Below the quoted section, in regular margins, will be my thoughts/questions. Then more of the chapter, more thoughts, etc. If you like this format, let me know--if you'd prefer just a link to the chapter and then my thoughts, let me know. ;-)

Mark 1

 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets:
“Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.”
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’”
John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Last spring, we studied baptism and what it means. I think for most Christians, we have the pat answer of "it's an outward symbol of the inward change of accepting salvation." But that answer doesn't fit with this passage, does it? Because John's baptism was not one of salvation--it was one of repentance.

Do you see the difference there? It took me a while. But repentance is saying, "I'm sorry." It doesn't involve being forgiven. It's a crucial step, but not the whole story.

It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
This right here is super-important. This is showing us quite clearly that Jesus, from this point on, was not operating under his power--he's operating with the Holy Spirit. Which means that we, who now are filled with that SAME Spirit, can do what Jesus does from here on out.

12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13 And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.

I had never noticed before that it's the Spirit that drove Him into the wilderness. Does the Spirit ever draw you away? Or more, drive you away from your ordinary life? That seems like something we might resist. And if we obey it . . . well, it wasn't a cup of tea for Jesus. Mark doesn't go into detail, but forty days in the wilderness, being tempted by Satan . . . that might make most of go, "God, did you really want me out here? Seriously? Did I hear you wrong??"

But this was important. For Jesus, absolutely. And for us. This is where angels ministered to him. I'm going to take note of where else in the Gospels we see that.

14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

16 And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
19 When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. 20 And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.
 So Jesus's message begins like John's: REPENT.

As for calling his disciples to him . . . I heard recently that it's a safe bet that these fellows knew Jesus. He grew up near them, they would have known each other as boys. So they weren't being asked to follow a stranger. 

Which kinda makes it even more of a leap of faith in some ways, doesn't it? Would you follow Jack from down the street if he asked you to leave everything and go with him to preach? A prophet is definitely without honor in his hometown . . . but the nature of Jesus had always been apparent, and these men didn't hesitate.

21 Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. 22 And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
23 Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. 27 Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.

I love this section. =) He taught with authority, and not as the scribes. As someone who teaches a variety of subjects to her kids, I know well the difference between teaching from words on a page and teaching from knowledge. The scribes could recite the words--verbatim, probably forward and backwards and with their eyes closed. But they were just that--words.

They weren't just words to the Word. He knew the spirit behind every letter, and so he wouldn't have just been reciting. He would have been teaching. The reasons, not just the facts.

And casting out an unclean spirit! I've never paused to wonder before what Jewish practice would have been with unclean spirits, but it's clear no one in this particular gathering had ever even heard of someone having the authority to cast one out.

29 Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. 31 So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them.

32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
 I've often wondered why some things are healed and others not. This doesn't provide a definitive answer, but when he healed Simon's mother-in-law . . . we're not told she was deathly ill or anything. It just says a fever. It could have been a serious fever. Or it have just been a regular, passes-in-a-day-or-two fever. Right now, in my mind, it doesn't matter which. What matters is why.

Because she wanted to serve Him.

Because the people needed to know they weren't bound by their infirmities.

Jesus wasn't ready for everyone to hear him proclaimed the Christ, though--or rather, they weren't ready--so he wouldn't let the demons he cast out speak. So interesting. And it's also worth noting that though he cast out the demon earlier and healed Simon's mother right away, the majority of these healings occurred after the Sabbath was over, officially the first day of the week. I think Jesus was using this time as a building-up, not a challenging. He's not rocking the boat . . . he's demonstrating the power to calm the waves.

35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. 37 When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”
38 But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”
39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.

 Quiet time of prayer . . . Jesus was always so faithful in taking that time!

40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. 43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.

Okay, quite a few things jump out at me here. First of all, the faith of this leper! Had he heard some of the stories that were going before Jesus? Is that what sent him seeking the Lord? Something must have stirred within him--something more than just a passing, "Well, it's worth a try." This man was begging. Imploring. Kneeling down in the dirt. Such perfect humility. If You are willing...

And Jesus--moved with compassion. Overwhelmed with love for this man. I love seeing that--and more, seeing His humility. He didn't want fame. Didn't want fortune. He just wanted to do the work of God.

That's the end of chapter 1. I'll try to leave you with a question each day; feel free to answer it, or to talk about any other part of the chapter that jumped out at you!

Question ~ Mark 1
In verse 15, Jesus says "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." We know "gospel" literally means "good news." And we as Christians identify it as Jesus dying for our sins and rising again, defeating death. What did "gospel" mean to these people, before Jesus had died or been resurrected? What is the good news that walks with Him? 

New Book Series!

I've been waiting and waiting to share the good news. And now, the ink is on the dotted line, and I can finally tell you all about the Society Thieves Series that I just sold to Bethany House! This series will launch in spring of 2017 with The Name Thief.

1914 – Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former orphan-urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets—now they concentrate on stealing high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary is given an assignment by a mysterious Mr. V to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein is awkward at best in society. Stuttering and stammering as he does, no one ever would have expected him to gain the ear of the king…and given his family’s German blood, he knows there are plenty who are unhappy that he has, which is why his popular series of adventure novels are written under a pen name. With European politics boiling, Peter settles into his country estate debating whether the time has come to distance himself from his German roots and perhaps even change his name as the King is considering doing—and when a historian shows up at his door offering to help him trace his family history, he views the bookish Miss Gresham as a gift from God. Perhaps she can help him find proof that the Holsteins have always been friends of England and the Saxe-Coburg family that rules there. And perhaps they can manage it before suspicion in the small village he calls home reaches a fever pitch and sees his family home ruined.

The more Rosemary learns about the Holsteins, the more she thinks Mr. V sorely mistaken in his suspicions…and the more she comes to hate herself. These are a noble family and this a noble man—and though she always thought she’d do anything for pounds sterling, she finds herself fighting against the rabble trying to ruin him when war is declared rather than lending them a hand. Especially when she discovers that he is the writer behind the books that have inspired all of England. She doesn’t have it in her to steal his good name…but what are the chances that she’ll manage to steal his heart before he discovers who and what she really is?

I am so incredibly super-duper excited about this series! The next books in the series will follow other members of Rosemary's "family." In each story, the thief will find redemption as Mr. V sends them out on missions to claim things that hands cannot really hold or steal--a good name, music, beauty, time. All will draw on how arts were used as propaganda during WWI, and pull on some of the most interesting advances and peculiarities of the war. Each will also stand completely on its own, with no reference to the previous books. 

And for fun, each one will also have a ridiculous challenge issues by the other members of the family. In The Name Thief, Rosemary's older brother challenges her to steal a manor house. So naturally, she tries to figure out how to steal Peter's home, along with his name. Subsequent books will up the ante each time, and give the thief/hero something to pursue along with the job Mr. V assigns.

If anyone is interested in knowing what Peter and Rosemary and his manor house, Kensey Manor, looks like, I just made my Pinterest board public! You can check it out here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cover Reveal ~ A Lady Unrivaled

I have been so excited over the covers for my Ladies of the Manor series with Bethany House. The elegance. The simplicity. The colors.

We have oohed and ahhed over Brook in The Lost Heiress.
We have gone ga-ga over Rowena in The Reluctant Duchess. (Because seriously. That. Dress.)
And now, we get our first glimpse of Ella. She's fun. She's optimistic. She always, always finds something to smile about...even when no one else can figure out why. And when the world tells her she shouldn't, well...Ella is still going to love. She is indeed A Lady Unrivaled.

And here she is!

Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile--even if it's just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well the danger that has haunted her brother and their friend, and she won't wait for it to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.

Lord Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he's determined to live a better life. But that proves complicated when old friends arrive on the scene and try to threaten him into a life of crime. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won't budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her--and his daughter--from those dangerous people who seem ready to destroy them all?

Monday, February 8, 2016

40 Days of Jesus Challenge - Begins Wednesday!

First of all, big thanks to everyone who signed up to be an influencer for The Reluctant Duchess. I have far more than I need this time around, so I'll probably be employing the wonders of to help me fairly narrow it down, and then will be emailing both those who got into the group and those who didn't. First I need time to sort through the list though. ;-)

And though I'll continue to post book news to the blog as it comes (including my cover reveal tomorrow and new series announcement on Wednesday!), usual Word of the Week and Remember When posts will be suspended through Resurrection Day as I accept and extend a 40-day challenge.

Beginning this Wednesday, I'm going to be participating in a 40 Days of Jesus challenge, where each day we read a chapter of a Gospel. We'll start in Mark and then go into Luke (40 chapters total), beginning on Ash Wednesday and going through the entire season of Lent (this has a built-in day off once a week, which I'll be taking on one of the weekend days). The idea isn't just to read it by yourself, but to talk about it--because it's through conversation that we see things from a new perspective and often discover new truths He wants to show us.

The purpose of all this? To focus my heart and mind on Him.

To look, each day, at this Life that changed the world, and maybe see something new.
To pray, each day, Lord, help me to be more like this Jesus I just read about.

 My church has done a shorter version of this before, and honestly, I fell way behind. I found myself getting bored reading the same ol' Gospel for the gazillionth time. And yet, when I did manage to read it and have a conversation about it, I saw something new.

This time, I don't want to fall behind and push it away. I want to really prepare my heart and mind for Him. So I'm hosting the challenge here on my blog as a way to hold myself accountable.

If you want to join me, I would love-love-love to get your insights into the chapters! We can converse in the comment section here, and also in the 40 Days of Jesus Facebook group. Please feel free to join that group and chat through the chapter each day.

So take a day (or two) to pray and see if God would like you to do this this year. Or just swing by now and then, when you can. Up to you. But I look forward to getting to know y'all a little better as we delve together into the Word.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Influencer Sign-Up for The Reluctant Duchess

As usual, I'm collecting names of people to receive a copy of The Reluctant Duchess from Bethany House in exchange for helping promote the book (book description is at the bottom of the post).  You can help promote by:

* Posting reviews to Amazon, B&N, Christian Book, etc.;
* sharing about/reviewing the book on your blog;
* asking your library to order it; snapping a photo of it on the shelf of a store and posting;
* sharing on Facebook, Twitter, etc., both about the book once you've read it and posting pictures when you get it;
* recommending to a book club;
* other ideas uniquely your own

Influencers for the first book in the series had first shot at signing up for the second, so my spots are limited and few. The form will only be live until Saturday morning, which is why I gave you notice in my blog on Wednesday of when it would be going live. =)The form is at the bottom of this post, and you can also access it here.

(Due to shipping costs, Bethany House has a US-address-only policy. If you're an international reader interested in influencing, there are digital versions available; just email me at roseannamwhite at gmail dot com.)

Right now I have about 20 slots open. Those remaining slots will be selected based on your answers to that question of "What will you do to help promote?" so please be sure to tell me about any blogs or places where you habitually post reviews and any super-cool influence you have. ;-)

It's been such a blessing to have a team of happy readers to share in the joys of a book releasing! I've so enjoyed getting to know the members of my team with The Lost Heiress and look forward to getting to know some new names and faces too!

Now, what in the world is The Reluctant Duchess about? Well this is the publisher's description from Amazon:

A Riveting Edwardian Series Set among Britain's High Society
 Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt good enough--not for her father, not for the man she thought she'd marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she's willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping Loch Morar.
Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has found himself in possession of a rare treasure his enemies are prepared to kill for. While Brice has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, the last thing he needs is the distraction of Lady Rowena, who finds herself in a desperate situation. But when Rowena's father tries to trap Brice into marrying his daughter, Brice makes a surprising decision.

Rowena wanted to escape the Highlands, but she's reluctant to marry a notorious flirt. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in questionable business with a stolen treasure, she fears she's about to end up directly in the path of everything she was trying to avoid.

"With the momentum and drama of a modern thriller and the charm and intrigue of an Edwardian upper-class romance, White balances hearty helpings of names, ranks, and family history with highly entertaining situations and plenty of humor." ~ Booklist

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thoughtful About . . . When He Calls

Last weekend my husband, dad, and I went to visit a local church and speak about the missions trip they had taken in October, and of the service organization we've begun. After speaking of the trip for so long, the mike got handed to me to cover the org--though I'd said I was just there for moral support, LOL.

As I stood up there in front a group of strangers who are my family in Christ, as I tried to convey why this was important, a truth settled in my mind.

We're not all called to foreign missions.
We're not all called to domestic missions.
We're not all called to adopt.
We're not all called to minister to refugees.
We're not all called to any one thing.
But we're all called.

We're not all asked to sacrifice our riches.
We're not all asked to sacrifice our houses.
We're not all asked to sacrifice our days.
We're not all asked to sacrifice our hold on our children.
We're not all asked to sacrifice our dreams.
But we're all asked to sacrifice.

And if we don't think we've heard a call or been asked to sacrifice...then it's not because God hasn't spoken. It's because we're not listening. And if we're not listening, how long before He asks someone else to do, in our place, what He'd intended for us?

My husband put it like this on Saturday, and it's so good an analogy that it's stuck in my mind. Let's look at our relationship with God like a romantic one. We're told, over and over, that we need to learn to listen to God's voice.

So maybe we sit around on the phone with him. We pray, we read the Bible. We concentrate on that voice.

Then one day, God says, "Hey, wanna catch a movie?"

We say, "Well...not tonight. I've got all this other stuff going on."

So the next week, God says, "How about dinner?"

And we say, "Well...I'm kinda busy."

If this plays out time and again, how long is it before you can't honestly call yourself "dating" anymore? If you have the opportunity to DO and choose not to, is that an active relationship?

God doesn't call us to an inactive faith. The Great Commission doesn't say, "Stay ye at home and pray." Jesus doesn't answer the rich young ruler's question about what he needs to do to be saved with, "Give a nice offering every week and pray you use your wealth wisely."

He calls us all to GO.
He asks us all to GIVE.

Where to go? What to give?

That's where we're all different. But I say this: the example of the rich young ruler is a good one. Because He doesn't ask for the easy way. He doesn't ask for a sacrifice that costs him little. He asks for complete dedication. He asks for the removal of the thing that the man valued most.

What do you value most?


What if He asks you to sacrifice that? What do you do? Do you give it all up? Let your family members go? Give up the steady job and good insurance? Leave the comfortable confines of the denomination you know best? Give up your home?

Or do you just stop picking up the phone when God calls?

Because here's the thing. He always calls. And if we don't hear that phone ringing...maybe it's because we ignored it too long.

American Christians are very good at talking. We value hearing His voice. And honestly, we're good at throwing money at long as it's not enough that we'll notice it missing when we're at Walmart or browsing Amazon.

But when it comes to sacrificing...when it comes to going...when it comes to doing...

Are we really Christ-like? Or are we content with a mask of Christianity that costs us nothing?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Influencer Sign-Up and News Coming

I'm so excited! We're at the 2-months-to-go mark for the release of The Reluctant Duchess. In my world, that means chatting with Bethany House about fun things like bookmarks, personalized tea bags, Facebook covers, and when I can share the cover for the third book in the series.

I'm beginning the process of gathering influencers, so if you're interested in being on my launch team this time around, be sure to check my blog Friday morning (10 a.m. EST) for a link to the sign-up form! (Last time some folks missed out because the list was filled before they even saw my blog, so this time I'm giving you warning, LOL!) An influencer will get a complimentary copy of the book from Bethany House with the understanding that they'll help spread the word about the book through reviews, tweets, posts on Facebook, talking to family and friends, requesting libraries carry it, etc.

When The Reluctant Duchess releases, I'll be having another big giveaway. This one's piece de resistance will be another necklace. Not crafted by me this time. No, this one is from the lovely folks at Tiara Town.

This red crystal necklace is a fair imitation of the famous Nottingham rubies that play a vital role in the story of Brice, whom readers met in The Lost Heiress, and Rowena, the heroine from the Scottish Highlands. Who grew up in a castle modeled on Eilean Donan.

(No, I'm not sending anyone there as part of the giveaway. If only I were...I'd send myself along with them!)

But that's not the only fun in the works! Next week I'll be doing TWO fun reveals. First, the cover for book 3, A Lady Unrivaled. Cover reveal will be on February 9. Then, on February 10, I finally get to share some exciting news about my next series!

So, to sum up:

1. Come back here Friday at 10 a.m. EST to sign up for a few select influencer spots for The Reluctant Duchess, if you're interested

2. Tuesday, February 9 is the cover reveal of A Lady Unrivaled

3. Wednesday, February 10 you'll hear about the series I'm working on now

Have a fabulous Wednesday!