Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Category: Five Minute Friday (page 2 of 3)

Writing for five minutes flat on a subject chosen by Lisa-Jo Baker

Cheer: When Jesus Jumps For Joy

There was a time when Jesus the man jumped and skipped with ecstatic, exuberant joy.

He had sent out seventy two of His friends on a mission trip. He told them to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse disfiguring skin diseases and set people free from evil spirits.

When His friends returned, they excitedly told Him how they’d done these supernatural acts in His name. Wow. No wonder they were thrilled.

It’s easy to miss Jesus’ reaction when reading the Gospels because of how our English translates it: ‘He rejoiced in the Spirit.’ Yeah, He definitely did. The word used for rejoice is agalliao which means to exult, leap and skip for joy, physically showing excessive and ecstatic delight.

Jesus rejoiced because they were grasping the truth of who they were: children of God and secure in Christ.

It’s easy to nod my head to Bible truths. Yes, I believe I’m saved by grace and don’t need to strive for God’s attention, and that I am accepted and beloved. But when that knowledge starts to slip into my heart, I rejoice because it becomes real and changes me.

And that’s when Jesus jumps for joy.

Grow

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord,
you must continue to follow Him.
Let your roots grow down into Him,
and let your lives be built on Him.
Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught
and you will overflow with thankfulness.

When we feed something, it grows.

When I eat food, especially now I’m in middle age, my tummy grows. Sad but true! But when I exercise, my fitness level increases so that I can do more exercise. Hopefully, if I keep running, my muscles will develop and my tummy will stop growing. Hopefully….

It’s the same with my spiritual life. These verses urge me to keep following Jesus.

How do I do that?

I need to put down roots in Jesus. That means learning more-and-more to rely on Him, to be settled in Him. I want to get to know Him well and the only way to do that is by spending time with Him like I would any friend. My Bible is full of Jesus: His character, what He does, what He likes and doesn’t like. When I read it and pray, my roots are growing .

Building my life on Jesus is being secure in Him and in who He says I am. He gives me the freedom to be the person He made me to be.

And then I find that my faith grows as I get to know the truth. Jesus said that the truth sets free, and it really, truly does. When I think of how much Jesus has done for me it brings a huge smile to my face. I do overflow with thankfulness.

YEEE HAAAAH! YAY JESUS!! WHOOP!

Let me finish with a story.

When I was thirteen, my parents and I went on holiday to the Norfolk coast. It was a last minute booking because my dad had just come out of hospital. Amazingly we found a chalet near the beach that was available.

Hmm. It had been closed up all winter and we were the first people in. It hadn’t been cleaned. And it was full of spiders. Big, small and every size in-between. There was a monster under the kitchen table that even my dad wouldn’t tackle. They were literally everywhere.

Somehow we stayed in that horrible chalet for a week.

But I came home with a fear of spiders. It got so bad that I wouldn’t enter a room without quickly checking out floor, ceiling and walls first. I almost crashed the car when I spotted a tiny money-spider on the rearview mirror.

I had secular counselling which helped a little.

But the fear was still there. I never even prayed about it because I was scared of not being afraid. And if I’m honest, I didn’t think God could handle it anyway. Not even He could do the impossible, could He?

Three years ago, God stepped in. I was going through prayer counselling and He set me free from fear.

The result is that last Monday, my mum had a biggish spider in her kitchen that I was calmly able to deal with. No hyperventilation, no screams, no shaking.

This is truth: God’s perfect love casts out fear. My roots are in Jesus and I’m building my life on Him. My faith in Him is growing. The truth is setting me free and I’m so grateful.

Unite

Jogging by the sea this week, I loved observing the oyster catchers unite to fly in a group. Seeing the odd one was nice but nothing out of the ordinary. But as a group, it was pure joy watching them dip and wheel on the breeze. One moment they moved in a circle of silver against the blue sky, the next they were almost invisible. Lovely.

I enjoy watching starlings congregate on the roof tops in autumn, preparing for their great migration south. There is power and beauty in seeing the large group wheeling on the wind.

In their unity, birds reflect their creator so well. God is united: Father, Son and Spirit in happy agreement with one heart and mind. Nowhere is this more evident that in His magnificent plan of salvation. In full agreement, the Father sent the Son so that I could know Him, and the Spirit lives within to whisper I am loved.

Whole

Lord, I want to be wholehearted. I hardly ever have been in the past, it’s tough when you don’t have much confidence. You think you’ll do something and then you stop to wonder if it’s okay, whether you can, what other people will think, and so it goes on.

But I’ve been reading about Caleb. What a guy! In his eighties, he was still going for it. He was the only one – as far as I can tell – who took possession of the land You’d promised the Israelites. He was wholehearted and so ended up with the whole of his territory. You even commended him for following You wholeheartedly, and that’s what I aspire to! 

Lord, I read in Judges 1 about the other Israelite tribes. It’s a woeful repetition of ‘…and they failed to drive out….’ They weren’t determined like Caleb, so never did end up owning the whole of the land You’d promised them. What a tragedy.

I don’t have enemies of the flesh and blood variety that You want me to fight. But I have other stuff in my life that probably shouldn’t be there. Baggage is a good term for it. I still battle with fear. But I want to be like Caleb, to be someone who goes for it. Fear and lack of confidence can do one!

Lord, I want to be wholehearted for You, bring me into the whole of all that You have for me.

Decide

Oh son, I love you so much!
You delight my heart and bring me joy.

Being with you dad, is just the best thing ever.
You’re awesome!

Let’s create more, just like you son.

Fantastic idea dad!
You’ve given me so much, can I share with them?

Not even conceived, yet I see each one…
and how I love them.
But son, I don’t want little robots.
I’m giving them the choice,
they can decide to love me or not.
I’ll make it easy:
I’ll create a fabulous world for them to live in
with trees, mountains and flowers,
and a sky full of stars.
Every evening I’ll paint the sky with orange, pink and gold.
Each morning will be greeted with blazes of silver and choral trilling.

I see dad….
The choice to decide is dangerous.
They’ll want to please themselves and rebel against you, won’t they?

Yes son, they will and they will be separated from me.
But I want to show them my love.
They are precious –
I want them to understand what love looks like, what it is.

How can we show them?

Dad, they will deserve death for rebelling against you.
I will die in their place and become the Way to you.
The greatest love is to die for a friend –
I will die for my enemies.

Son, I will accept your sacrifice on their behalf.
You take their place, and
I will lavish the love I have for you on them.
I will make them co-heirs with you of all that I have.
They cannot even imagine the wonders and pleasures in store for them!
I will pursue them with my goodness and love at every turn.

We have made our decision.
Now it is time for them to choose.
Today is the day of acceptance, now is the time of salvation.

An imaginary conversation between God the Father and God the Son before the dawn of time.

Quiet

Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is:  QUIET. 

On The One Show this evening, they did a clip on whether or not singing lullabies to babies really does help in getting them off to sleep.

Seeing those babies snuggling contentedly as their mums sang softly to them brought a lump to my throat. Because that is a picture of the Father and me. He quiets me by His love. There are times when I feel overwhelmed with life – difficult patients at work, lots going on at church, responsibilities coming out of my ears, washing machine breaking down.

When that happens I have a kind Daddy who I can turn to and ask to snuggle in His lap. I’m always welcome. The Bible – His love letter to me – reassures me that He carries me in His arms and quiets me by His love. That can feel like snuggling in His lap.

Daddy God is always with me,
He sticks up for me and clears away the bullies;
He spins and whirls in delirious delight because of His outrageous love for me,
He quiets me by His love;
He sings loudly in jubilation over me.*

I rest in the quietness and know that I am loved.

* My adaptation of Zephaniah 3:17

Time

Today the Five Minute Friday community is writing on TIME for five minutes.

START

What a start to 2016 – the sad news that David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and the man who played Grizzly Adams have all died.

Ten years ago, time for our tiny twins ran out so soon and God took them.

Time. We never have enough of it when we’re busy. Yet when we’re ill, in pain, going through difficulty, or lonely, time hangs heavily and a minute can seem like an hour.

We all have twenty four hours in a day. What do we do with it?

We’re known by what we do, generally speaking. Singer, actor, author, doctor, loafer….

I’ve been pondering recently: what do I want to be known for? Whose approval is most important to me? Whose praise is sweetest?

Centuries ago, there was a man called Enoch. He lived a long time – 365 years – and he was known for one thing – that he walked with God. In fact, his relationship with God was so close and so precious that the Bible reports that he never died. God simply took him and he was ‘no more’.

I’d always assumed that there could only be one Enoch in the history of the world, but what if I spent my time making God the highest priority? Could Mandy be another Enoch when my time comes?

With the time I have left, I want to set my heart on things above.

STOP

Reflect

After far too long a break, I’m back writing with the Five Minute Friday community! Today we’re writing for five minutes on the topic reflect.

GO

Watching The Apprentice on BBC1 on Wednesday evening gave me cause to reflect. Each candidate is so driven, absolutely focused on becoming super-successful in business, of becoming an entrepreneur. Business seems to be their whole lives. Long hours, little time for family and relationships, they seem to constantly have their eyes fixed on the end goal of success. They can change communities through business and money.

What if, I as a lover of God, was driven and focused on the Kingdom that Jesus ushered in when He came to earth? What if I was utterly obsessed with God and was, as Heidi Baker calls it, a ‘laid-down lover’ of His?

Surely it would impact the community around me. The Bible says that as we gaze at God’s glory (spending time in His Word, praying, enjoying Him), we ourselves are changed from one degree of glory to another. We begin to more and more reflect God. Wow, that’s incredible.

So what am I messing about at? I only have one life. I want it to reflect my Jesus, my Saviour, my Lord.

STOP

Oh Dear….

A friend recently blogged about her experience of a workman coming to the house, and it reminded me of a few traumas of my own. Like babbling nervously – as if they care when I last cleaned or if I missed a bit.

I think one of the most memorable incidents was when we were having the loft and cavity walls insulated a few years ago. A nice chap came to the house and I put the kettle on while he set up his laptop. He took a sip of tea and said to me, ‘I need a power point.’

I gaped at him. Why on earth would a workman need a PowerPoint?

‘A power point?’ he repeated.

I continued staring while frantically trying to make sense of what he’d asked for.

Realising the lights were on but nobody was at home, he pointed to a row of power sockets.  ‘Can I use the power point?’

‘Oh!’ The penny dropped. He just wanted to plug in his laptop. Doh!

Possibly the reason I confused power point with PowerPoint was that I had recently started a new job which involved me preparing lots of PowerPoints – though why I thought the insulation man should feel the need to start using one in my kitchen is beyond me.

Oh dear….

Sadly, workmen don’t need to actually enter the house for me to embarrass myself.

A few days ago, I was letting rip at the top of my lungs a new song by Chris Barton (it’s a fab song with great words, perfect for exercising the old vocal cords):

Again I was in my kitchen, which is very close to the front door. Too close. There was a knock, a man stood outside, come to read the meter. While I figuratively curled up and died, he did a credible job of keeping a straight face while taking the meter readings.

Oh dear….

And then there’s the whole dilemma of what to do when the window cleaner turns up… Silently creep from room to room so he doesn’t spot me? Or open the back door and cheerily greet him? Hmmm……

Grateful

Five Minute Friday

I’m joining Five Minute Friday again this week, which is where bloggers from all over the world write on a theme chosen by Lisa-Jo Baker for five minutes without stopping to edit or self-critique their work, and then post the result on their blog. Today, the topic is: Grateful.

BEGIN:

Jack RabbitI’m grateful that God created animals. Jesus took the time and trouble to speak all the different species into being.
I’m grateful for the pets I’ve known: for Jack the rabbit’s comfort when my dad died, for Pickles the guinea pig enjoying our races up the stairs, and the way he stood up on his hind legs with his front paws on my calves to let me know when he wanted to race.

I’m grateful that God is light and there is no darkness in Him.  I’m grateful that His name reflects His character: love, light, beautiful, merciful, gracious, faithful. Jesus’ name is the most powerful name in the universe – darkness and demons flee before His name, and only through His name am I saved.

I’m grateful for my health. Thank You Lord for healing me! And for strengthening me every day.

I’m grateful for the tree outside my study window and for the pigeons that sit cooing on the fence.  I’m grateful for my nephew Stuart weeding the garden for us this week, so that I look out on tidiness and that gives my mind rest.

I’m grateful for Adrian – and for fifteen happy years of marriage. I’m grateful for the memories we share, for his faithfulness to me, for the fact that our marriage vows were more than just words uttered in the front of a church building – they were promises that we aim to keep, and that brings security.

I’m grateful to God because every good and perfect gift comes from Him, and He gives me all that I need. I’m grateful that God’s desire for me is that I have abundant life.

STOP.

 (Photo added afterwards)

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