Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Category: Guest Posts

Posts from friends and fellow bloggers

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

 

Celebrate: Women

It’s Mother’s Day.
I think I prefer the phrase Mothering Sunday.

There are many who ‘mother’ without ever having the official title.
If we use it as a verb, the term means to bring up a child with care and affection.
Millions of women do this.
Every day.
They mother those who don’t have mums.
They care for others without necessarily having a biological bond. They’re no less mothers, nor would we think of them as less.

Some ‘mothers’ are grieving today. Some because they wish they’d had a chance to own that title.
Some, because their children aren’t alive anymore. Others because their children are estranged or in other parts of the world they can never get to.
Some of our ‘missing’ is because our mums aren’t here anymore, and that hurts to our very core.
Mothering Sunday is important; a chance to say thank you to those that mother us.
Be thankful for your mum. Be grateful for those who mother you.

Look out for those today who feel the day more keenly and need a little care and love.
I’m so thankful to God for my mum, and also those that care for me with mothering skills.

Spare a thought right now for those who will smile today, but behind that smile are 1000s of tears. Weep with them if you need to, but show them you care.

Mothering Sunday is for us all.

Keren Baker

Jesus My Rock

Jesus, You are my rock.
Waves may beat around me but I am secure on the rock.
Howling winds may come against me, but I shall not be moved, as You give me strength to stand.
Hailstones may come in life that cause hurt, but You bind up the hurts and pour in oil for healing.
Cold rain may pour down but You give shelter.
The heat of the day may seem too much at times but You give the cooling wind of the Holy Spirit, and give shade under the shadow of Your wings.

All may be dry around me but You give water from the wells of salvation to refresh me.
Cold air may blast around but Your love brings warmth.

You are our shelter, our hiding place and refuge.

When my legs feel weak, You hold me by Your strong power.
You give me support in every situation.
I am secure in Your arms.

Indeed, You are my rock and the One I can fully trust and depend upon.

 Elizabeth BentonElizabeth Benton

My Hero

I will be eternally grateful for stepping into Arnold Road Boys’ Club that night in 1984. Don Baker – one of the leaders – was just a regular guy. When I first met him, he was working at a local pit in Nottinghamshire. After that, he became a school caretaker. As far as I’m aware, he didn’t have an outstanding education, a theology degree or any formal evangelism training. But he had a story of how Jesus had changed his life – and a real enthusiasm for sharing it.

Don was the first person to tell me the good news of Jesus Christ – me and many others!

The thing with Don was, he didn’t just tell us about his faith, he lived it out. He became a family friend and I know that he prayed for me regularly for many years. It was probably getting on for ten years after first meeting Don before I finally submitted my life to Christ. Throughout all that time though, Don kept in touch, kept inviting me to church, and kept praying for me (he and his wonderful wife, Janet). Eventually, his endeavours paid off.Dad Youth Hostelling

The true impact of his investment may never be truly known this side of eternity. There is a ripple effect, a greater legacy to Don’s commitment of time, prayers, faith and persistence. As a result of Don sharing his story of God’s grace with me, my parents became Christians and my own children are growing up in a Christian home – and I hope will themselves one day live for Christ. In addition, there are many in my workplace that I have shared my faith with, who may not have heard the gospel message had I not been there.

The ripple effect from Don’s faithfulness can be multiplied many times over in many lives.

All this is a result of one man who simply had a story of how Jesus had met him and changed his life, and was willing to share it with those around him.

Don presents a challenge to all of us who claim to be Christians. We have a story to tell. Are we willing to share it? Then we, too, will leave a legacy of amazing proportions that will have a ripple effect stretching into eternity.

Andy HamillAndy Hamill

The Bigness of Christmas

 

It’s like the Queen leaving Parliament,
To come to tea with me.
It’s like the music of all the world
Crammed onto a single CD.

Can you imagine a mountain range
squeezed down to a grain of sand?
Or an ocean poured into a rain-drop?
Fort Knox reduced to a gold-band?

It’s like a galaxy of spinning stars
spun down to a single flame,
It’s like the greatest book in all the world
Contained in a single name.

It’s bigger than that and smaller than that,
It’s the Creator condensed to earth,
It’s the Power and Peace and Promise of God
Fulfilled in this human birth.

Chris Bambrough

Chris Bambrough

Psalm 139: My Version

Hello, Lord God.

You have taken a good long look at me, haven’t you?
You know me inside and out and back to front.
Whether I’m feet up with a glass of wine or reluctantly doing the vacuuming,
you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I’m off out for a coffee with a friend
and when I finally climb under the duvet;
Nothing gets past you.
Before I’ve even decided what I’m going to say,
you know what it’s going to be (even when I shouldn’t say anything at all).
You surround me on all sides.
You have touched me with mercy.
I can’t get my head around it;
It’s far too big for me.

There’s nowhere I can go that you aren’t already there.
How can I get away from you?
Why would I want to – and yet there are times when I do…
If I’m having a great day where everything goes my way –
If I can’t do anything right and I feel like giving up, you’re there too.
Even if I drag myself out of bed to see the sunrise.
Or if I fly to the other side of the world,
Wherever I go, you’ll show me the way.
If I say, ‘That’s it – it’s all gone wrong,
there’s no point in trying any more,’
you can bring hope in the darkest of days
and turn trouble into triumph.

Because you made the very heart of me;
You put me together just the way you wanted me.
Just look at me – I’m a masterpiece!
Yes, me, even me.
Even when I don’t feel like one, I know that you don’t make mistakes.
Your creation is flawless.
From before I was born you were watching me,
As I grew from the tiniest of cells, you took care of me.
From the earliest moments of my existence, you were full of love for me.
You had a plan for me from the very beginning;
You hold my life in the palm of your hand.

Oh, Father, if only I could grasp who you are;
you are so far beyond my imagination.
If I could get a glimpse of your glory
it would blow my mind.
Awake or asleep, you are right here next to me.

Lord, check out every last bit of me.
Look at my heart – at what I believe and what I feel,
and in my head, at what I think.
You know what I’m like.
If there is any part of me that you would change,
Show me and help me to put it right
so that I can be all I can be –
so that you can use me for all that you can –
so that I will be yours for eternity.

Amen.

That’s my Psalm 139, Father.  My Lord and my God.  Here I am.

Helen Murray 

Rejection

Rejection is something every human being will suffer at some point in their lives; sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes it’s the little things that you don’t think really bother you but are chipping away at your very soul.  It’s when you should be feeling complete and whole in Christ, but you’re feeling bruised and shattered.

No one was more despised and rejected than Jesus – even on the cross, those who said they would never leave Him turned and fled… and He must have known.  Even in the harsh truth of full rejection, Jesus forgave and prayed to His Father for another.  He had the strength to do this because He knew He had the acceptance of the One who brought the earth to life.

So know this:  every person you meet in life could and probably will reject you at some point; but there is One who looks on you with full acceptance.. .and in the end, He’s the one you’re living for!

For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Based on Psalm 139:13-16 (quoted from English Standard Version)

  Ruth Barbour

 

The Serpent And The Salesman

Do you ever get frustrated with salesmen who come knocking on your door at the most inopportune times, peddling their latest offers?  I certainly do!

Some friends and I were chatting about this recently.  Well, maybe ‘having a rant’ would be more accurate – complete with finger wagging and arm waving, only just stopping short of a hearty ‘hear hear’!  Anyway, one friend described an experience she’d had with a film company, and it got me thinking….

Despite her lack of interest, the salesman was desperate for her to sign up.  She eventually argued that she and her husband didn’t really watch many films so it wouldn’t be worth it.  His answer to that?  An incredulous look and:  ‘What, you don’t watch any films?’

Doesn’t this remind you of an experience another woman once had?  Think back – quite far back – to Genesis 3 (Genesis 3:1-6 if you want a bit of homework) and how the serpent persuaded Eve to eat the fruit on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Now, tempting as it is, I’m not saying that door-to-door salespeople are the devil!  However, a couple of things did strike me hearing my friend’s story.

1)  Temptation is so easy to give in to!

I know, this is stating the obvious – we are fallen people living in a fallen world, and the devil uses every trick possible to tempt us.  My friend found herself arguing her way out of a hole because the salesman twisted her words back at her – just as the serpent misquoted God’s instruction to Adam and Eve.  The fall came not so much because they ate the fruit, but because they first entertained the serpent’s argument, listening to and reasoning with him.  It’s so easy to be enticed by clever arguments (a challenge for me and my big mouth, for sure!) – if you don’t want to get into trouble, don’t go near it in the first place!  My friend would have probably been much better off had she shut the door on him from the beginning.  James 4:7 says:  ‘…Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’

2)  Shoulda woulda coulda…

That’s all great in theory, but – not to repeat myself (well, okay, to blatantly repeat myself) – we are fallen people living in a fallen world.  Our lives are filled with daily ‘shoulda woulda couldas’.  BUT… we have grace!  Or, rather, God has freely given us grace, sending Jesus to die for us then raising Him up again.  So every time we mess up and go back to Him sorry and broken all over again, He forgives us.  Not only that – He sees us in the light of Jesus’ perfect holiness.  I reckon Isaac Watts had it pretty spot on – ‘amazing grace’ indeed!  (Check out 2 Corinthians 12:9 if you don’t believe me.…)

So what?  Well, it’s quite obvious, really.  If I’m a recipient of such amazing grace, surely I also have a responsibility?  I have a responsibility to share this grace:  by telling others about this amazing gift from God to everyone who will accept it, and by living it out myself.

 Put on, then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other….
Colossians 3:12-13

Now there’s a challenge if I ever heard one!

So the next time a salesman comes knocking on my door, I’ll probably get stroppy, shut the door in his face, regret my missed opportunity and be reminded, once again, of my need for grace…!

  Ceri Skinner

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