Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Month: January 2017

Forty Years A Gambler

If you’ve ever wondered what life with a gambling addiction looks like, wonder no more. In this easy-to-read book, Ian shares his incredible story of how what started as a seemingly harmless and fun pursuit turned into life-changing addiction, debt, crime and prison. Gambling was ruining his life and stealing his happiness and peace of mind.

But Ian’s life was turned completely around when he encountered Jesus. It’s thrilling to read how he has been set free from a gambling addiction and is helping others in similar circumstances.

Ian’s wife also shares her story of a downward spiral into significant debt through playing Bingo.

Playing Bingo and fruit machines may appear to be harmless, yet can lead to heartache, misery and financial debt.

This book throws light on some of the inner workings of the gambling industry….. An eye opener, though perhaps not that surprising.

In the last part of Forty Years A Gambler, there are helpful appendices from various organisations working with people with gambling problems, as well as the results of a gambling impact survey set up by Ian and endorsed by Birmingham University.

For anyone working with vulnerable people who may be suffering from this secret and little understood addiction, this book is a must-read.

 

Are you in a Service Station?

I’ve been pondering on how life and ministry can feel like driving on a motorway. Traffic is moving, things are good, you can be alongside the same vehicles for a few miles, then they move further on or you speed up and pass them, or one of you turns off. There can be an occasional hold-up, but you’re all in it together and that brings a sense of shared trouble and solidarity. You have purpose, you’re moving with intent, you have somewhere to go.

But after you’ve been on your journey a while, especially a long distance one, you need to pull over into a service station.

Service stations are places to be replenished, rested and refreshed. You leave the busyness of the motorway behind, it almost feels like a different world. When I first enter a service station, I feel dazed and not quite with it after focusing on driving (or dozing while Adi drives). My first port of call is usually the loo, then I head for coffee and food.

Service stations are temporary. They do what their name implies: they serve us so that we can get back on the road feeling strengthened, more alert, and ready for the next stage of our journey.

Service stations are necessary. Without them, journeys would be hard and unpleasant. Some of us would be crossing our legs and desperately hoping for the journey to end. We couldn’t take a break when we’re tired and that would be dangerous for ourselves and others.

In life, we all spend time in service stations occasionally.

There have been times in my life when God has brought me out of ministry and laid me aside for a period. When I was ill for a year, I lost my job and ministry and felt pretty useless. But God kept reminding me that He had a purpose in it, things do to that He had planned just for me, and that I wouldn’t be in the service station for ever.

When Jesus was on earth, He sometimes withdrew with His disciples from the crowds to have rest from ministry. Even He spent time in service stations, like immediately after He’d been baptised.

JeepWhen you’re in a service station, it can feel like you’ve been overlooked by leaders, that you’ve been forgotten or are useless, that you’ve had your day and now there’s nothing. It can be painful. Or you may feel drained and exhausted, as if you never want to get back on the road again ever.

But this season will not last for ever. It’s temporary. God has good plans for you; He has a purpose in all of this. He chose you to go on unique adventures with Him.

God would not take you into the service station without good reason. It’s necessary. Ask Him what He wants you to learn through this time. Let Him heal ministry wounds. Go deeper with Him. Enjoy Him. Rest and be refreshed.  He will take you back onto the road at the right time.

 

Memories of a Billboard

At the beginning of 2017, the church I attend Arnold Road Evangelical Church gave out a Bible verse for the year:

For God so loved the world that He gave
His only Son,
so that whoever believes in Him
will not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

This verse reminded me of more than sixty years ago.

The words – in slightly different English to now – were pasted onto a billboard. Every time I walked along Radford Road on my way to school, there it was staring me in the face, and I read it.

To me, it was a link in the chain of events to me becoming a Christian.

I can still see it in my mind, reading it as I walked past.

It is one of my favourite verses because it reminds me that Jesus died for me because He loves me.

MumJanet Baker

 

Really, God?

Do you believe that your ability to write is a gift from God?

This belief has been a long process for me. I never really dared to believe it for myself until very recently.

I had a huge wobble about writing last spring. It was the latest in many wobbles over the years. This time, I determined to tackle it once and for all.

God, if You really want me to write then please let it bear fruit. And if I’ve got it all wrong, then lop the writing branch out of my life.

A hard prayer to pray, but I meant it. Even though I fully expected God to sigh with relief that I’d finally gotten the message and He could cut writing out of my life.

Within two weeks….[Read more]

Water-Walker

I want to walk on water in 2017.

No, I haven’t gone mad. This desire is based on the occasion when Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, climbed out of a boat in the middle of a storm and walked on water with Jesus.

There were twelve disciples altogether in the boat that night. But only one had the exhilarating and terrifying experience of walking on water. The other eleven missed out on the walk of their lives. I bet that walk was one Peter remembered for the rest of his life; the others didn’t have that.

I want to be like Peter.

He didn’t take risk for risk’s sake. He made sure this was what God wanted him to do: ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to you on the water.’ And Jesus immediately invited him to come.

Even then, it must have taken a lot of courage to climb out of that boat. Crazy enough if the water was calm, but these were big waves and a strong wind. But Peter heard Jesus’ call to adventure and stepped out of his comfort zone.

All went well at first. But then he suddenly realised what he was doing. Aaagghhh! I’m walking on water. And the waves are big. Woah, just look at that wind! Oh fiddlesticks, I’m sinking.

When Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at his circumstances, it began to go wrong. But as soon as he called out to the Lord for help, Jesus grasped him with His strong arms and lifted him back up so he could be a water-walker once again. Jesus didn’t berate Peter for failing, He lovingly showed him where he’d gone wrong.

toddlerWhat will walking on water look like for me? I’m not entirely sure right now though I have one or two ideas…. It will involve God’s call, stepping out of my comfort zone in obedience, of being in a position where I’m 100% reliant on God to do whatever it is He’s asking me to do. I’m certain it will involve failing too (maybe water-toddler is a better expression than water-walker, I’m bound to end up on my bum at some point!).

Every time I choose to walk on water, I will be more likely to climb out of the boat again. Every time I decide it’s safer in the boat, I lose out and become more likely to stay within my comfort zone next time. Walking on water means a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus – something I can only gain by getting out of the boat.

I want to climb out of the boat. I want to go on adventures with Jesus. I’m going to walk on water in 2017.

© 2017 Mandy Baker Johnson

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