Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Month: February 2014

Eternity Changes Everything

Eternity Changes Everything

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Stephen Witmer‘s book Eternity Changes Everything. He has a pleasant, chatty, easy-to-read writing style and his passion for his subject shines through on every page. For me, it ranks right up there as one of the best Christian books I have read on eternity in terms of getting me excited about where I am headed and how that changes life now.

A theme  that links together the later chapters is that of a tightrope walker: ‘The central point of this book is that Christians are meant to live, and can live, in a healthy, exhilarating, joyful, productive, frustrating, painful, challenging tension between restlessness and patience.’ The author uses a graphic of a tightrope walker balancing between ‘contentment’ (because of where we are headed) and ‘dissatisfaction’ (because we’re not there yet) and in each future chapter, he adds to this picture. I was impressed that the graphic worked perfectly on my Kindle and was well-aligned with the text.

Pastor Stephen draws out wonderful insights from the Scriptures in this book, and links Old Testament types with New Testament truths beautifully. He is clearly a gifted teacher with a deep love and respect for the Scriptures and for the Lord.

This book doesn’t just raise our expectations in seeing the new heaven and earth as a certain reality to look forward to, it also challenges as to how that truth impacts our lives in the here and now. This is not a book full of theory, but one of practicality – our lives are meant to be impacted. Pastor Stephen does not take for granted that all of his readers will be believers, and he creates opportunity for his readers who don’t know Jesus to put their faith in Him. For believers, he encourages us that because we are citizens of heaven and our identity is in Christ, our lives are changed and we experience ‘restlessness with patience’ as we anticipate our future. The result of this is that as we learn to need the world less, we end up loving the world more.

It’s a miracle whenever unlovely things and unlovely people are loved with heavenly love. As citizens of heaven extend the love of the new creation into the here and now, this world sees a better world to come.

Eternity changes everything is a book I am already recommending to my friends as a resource that will encourage, inspire and teach. I loved its contemporary style and that it is jam-packed full of biblical truth. I’m very grateful to Cross Focused Reviews and The Good Book Company for supplying me with a free e-copy of this book for the purpose of writing a review.

A Letter To The Hungry

I’ll just check one more time. Maybe there’s something I missed the first time around….

No, the cupboard’s empty. What am I going to do? There was nothing yesterday either. Or the day before that.

I can’t stand this pain inside any longer. Drinking lots of water isn’t helping. I need help. What if they say I don’t deserve help?  Must try. Surely someone cares?

Wrap up warm, it’s cold out there. At least it’s not raining today.

Feel so lightheaded walking, but got no money for bus fare. Look at all the lucky so-and-so’s on the bus. They don’t know what it’s like to be me.

Here’s the office. Deep breath. Stand in line. Endless waiting. Legs are trembling. That kiddy’s got a bag of sweets. My mouth’s watering. Look away. Can’t snatch from a child. My eyes are burning. I can’t stand this. I’m nothing…

Number 374. That’s me.

‘I’ve got no money.’

‘It’s not my fault I got sanctioned. I was late for my appointment because the bus didn’t turn up. Now my money’s stopped because I’ve been sanctioned. There’s no food in the house. I haven’t eaten in three days.’

‘A referral form? Thank you so much.’

I walk across the city centre, clutching a referral form. Will this church really help?

Oh, here it is.

Deep breath, here goes.

I walk in, head down, and hold out my form to the smiling person on the desk.

‘Hello! And your name is… Angela. Hi Angela, this is Christine. If you’d like to follow her inside, she’ll give you a cup of tea while we make up your food parcel.’

I risk a glance at Christine. She has a friendly smile on her face and she’s looking right at me.

‘Hi Angela. Welcome! Come and have a seat. Would you like tea or coffee? And we have toast if you’d like it.’

I can see other people sitting at small white tables eating toast and drinking from mugs, chatting with helpers wearing name badges. It’s warm in here and the smell of toast is making my mouth fill with water. I swallow hard.

‘Tea please.’ I whisper.

‘And how many slices of toast? We’ve got strawberry jam.’

Christine is smiling at me.

‘Two please.’

Before I know it, I’m sat at a table eating and drinking. I’m warm. Christine is so nice and friendly that I find myself pouring out everything that’s been crowding in on me for weeks: losing my job because of cancer, having my gas cut off, not being able to afford having the electric heater on, getting sanctioned, having no food in the cupboards. I cry, but that’s okay. Christine is ready with some tissues.

Before I go, she offers to pray with me. I nod. I need all the help I can get. She lays a hand on my arm and tells God about me, asking Him to help me. She talks to Him like He’s her Dad. It’s nice.

When I leave, I have a big bag full of food in my hand and a comfortable, solid sort of feeling in my stomach. The pain has gone. I feel like I’ve made a friend. I’m not hungry any more.

Garden

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday is where bloggers from around the world write for five minutes flat on a topic chosen by Lisa-Jo Baker without stopping to edit or self-critique our work. The topic for this week is: Garden.

START:

My Grandma had a small but lovely garden. Even though I didn’t catch the green fingers of the Gascoine side of my family, I appreciated seeing all the blues and whites and pinks when I opened the front gate and walked up her garden path. Remembering those beautifully set out flower beds, names like lobelia and alyssum and nasturtiums come to mind. Each plant responded to water and sunshine, opening their leaves and petals so that everyone could enjoy them.

Grandmas Garden

Thinking about my Grandma’s garden has reminded me that my life changed a few months ago when I understood that I don’t have to strive to please God and bear spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. By loving and enjoying Him – responding to the watering of reading the Bible and the sunshine of His Holy Spirit working in me – spiritual fruit will happen. Jesus said that if I abide in Him (stick to Him like glue) and let His Word abide in me, I will bear spiritual fruit. It’s a promise. And Jesus never breaks His promises.

FINISH

Write

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday is where bloggers from around the world write for five minutes flat on a topic chosen by Lisa-Jo Baker without stopping to edit or self-critique our work. The topic for this week is: Write.

BEGIN:

Ever since reading Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood series to my teddies, I dreamed of being a writer.

When God opened the door for me to work part-time from home as a private medical secretary, I rejoiced because this would give me the time and opportunity to write. The plan was for me to write and/or research every day.

The reality looks like this:

I wake up and consider my day ahead. I decide I will write my book as soon as sit at my desk, not stopping before I’ve written 2,000 words. Then – and only then – will I do my secretarial work.

I eat breakfast and take my second cup of coffee to my desk. I turn on my laptop. I glance at the folder containing the first draft of my book…. I decide to quickly check Facebook. I wouldn’t want to miss anyone’s birthday or important announcements.

Facebook checked, I log in to Twitter. After all, I need to keep up with my fellow Tweeters or how else will I build a platform for marketing my book?

Better take a quick look at email. There might be something urgent.

Several emails later, I head for the kettle and make a cup of tea.

Back at my desk, I stare uninspired at the screen for a few minutes before remembering I really need to put some washing in. Downstairs I go with the wash basket.

The work mobile rings. It’s a patient making enquiries about something or other. After the call ends, I decide I may as well do my medical work now and do some writing later.

All the time I’m working, there’s a niggle at the back of my mind that says: WRITE!

At 5 pm, there’s only an hour left of the work day. I make a huge effort to put my work away and pull out my first draft. I open the document on my laptop…. and write. (Sometimes, anyway.)

END

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