Cold and Roofless

This weeks guest blogger is Michael McMillan, a singer songwriter from Glasgow who has recorded three albums. His story and lyrics are reproduced in his book In His Eyes – Stories from the Heart of the Street.

Many people don’t understand the difference between homeless and roofless people. Homeless people may still have a roof over the heads, by staying with friends (sofa surfing) or living in hostel and/or homeless accommodation. But roofless people have nothing. They live on the streets under bridges, under cardboard or wherever else they can shelter from the cold rain and dangers they might face.

It seems that things have not improved one bit over the years and are steadily getting worse. Child prostitution, human trafficking and the steady flow of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants have all added to the problem. Lack of adequate and appropriate housing, apprenticeship training and employment opportunities for our young people and the constant draw towards escapism through drugs, alcohol and crime compound the steadily deteriorating situation. Suicide among young men in the West of Scotland is at its worst levels as hopelessness and despair eat away day after day and night after night. Recent BBC figures show that millions of children in Great Britain and Northern Ireland are living in or on the brink of poverty. How can that be in ‘Great’ Britain a powerful and rich nation where a  income of £30,000 means you are in the top 2% of the richest people in the world.

I remember praying and getting angry with God about all of this going on in my country and in many other places in the world. I indignantly asked him why did you not doing anything about this. He replied loud and clear… ‘I did, I made you!’

Michael McMillan, is a singer/songwriter and the author of  In His Eyes9781910786031

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TODAY’S PARABLES

Today we welcome guest blogger author Mel Menzies author of the novel Time to Shine.

I had the privilege, recently, of hearing David Coffey, the main speaker at Keswick in Devon, following which I was given a five minute slot to respond. Now with a string of credits to his name, David was once my pastor, and was hugely instrumental in encouraging my writing career. On the morning in question, which happened to be World Book Day, David had been speaking about Philip’s meeting with the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40).   Two of his four points struck me as highly relevant.

Philip, he said, was opportunistic. In other words, he grabbed the moment. But also, far from wading in in a Bible-bashing manner, he was creative in his approach.

Yes, I thought. Isn’t that exactly my aim!

My earliest books, published in the 1980’s, were testimony: my own, and that of others. Commissions from Lion Publishing and Hodder & Stoughton followed, one of which reached No. 4 in the Sunday Times Bestseller List. My God-given commission, from the start, was to ‘comfort others with the comfort I had received’. (2 Cor 1:4 paraphrased). Given that I’d had a fifteen year unequally yoked marriage, divorce and near bankruptcy, a daughter who developed a thirteen year heroin addiction, reformed and was drug free for five years, then died as a result of a single morphine tablet dropped into her drink at a BBQ, I had plenty of God’s comfort to share.

‘Don’t hide your light under a bushel, it’s not your light to hide,’ I was told by David Coffey and Edward England when I resorted to the natural shrinking violet state encouraged in a culture of ‘children should be seen but not heard’.

Fifteen years later my writing career ended, temporarily, when the necessity of earning a living arose. For the next fourteen years I had the pleasure of working for Jubilate Hymns, with people like Michael Baughen, Michael Saward, Noel Tredinnick and others. Delightful though it was, on retirement I couldn’t wait to get back to writing.

Only – this time it was to be different. I distinctly heard God speak to me again. And though his original message to me was to remain intact, he was now turning me to fiction. Like Philip, I was to be both opportunistic and creative in my approach.

‘Entertain your readers,’ said the Lord, ‘and they will absorb truths they might otherwise resist.’

Isn’t this what Jesus did? He told stories. Parables. Because he knew they – rather than a didactic approach – would stick in people’s minds. Where preaching a sermon might incite resistance – even anger among non-believers – a story about people like ourselves resonates. So a ‘who do they think they are telling me what to do?’ or ‘hypocrites, they should practise what they preach’ reaction is replaced with an ‘mmm, sounds a bit like my life’ response.

With unchurched parents and sibs, my yearning had always been to reach out to non-believers; to those who would never deign to pick up one of my books of testimony. Which is why, in obedience to the Lord, I’ve begun a series of novels. Emulating Jodi Picoult’s style, they examine various moral circumstances: a broken marriage and the courage to discern and use one’s gifts in Time to Shine; a dark secret in a family where adoption seems rife, with a message that we should none of us be tethered to the expectations of others, in Chosen or Cheated? It’s no mistake that the protagonist of all these stories, counsellor, Evie Adams, is so named. She’s a flawed heroin – as are we.

Enough to say that I received a phone call on the evening of World Book Day, telling me that the bookstall at Keswick in Devon had sold out of Time to Shine. My hope is that the Christians who bought those books will pass them on to unbelieving friends; that questions will be raised; and curiosity aroused. That stories might be the gateway to the God’s Kingdom.

Like Susan Howatch’s Starbridge series, the Evie Adams books are set in Exeter’s Cathedral Green (and other parts of Devon and the UK). Chosen or Cheated is due for publication soon.

© Mel Menzies Aka Merrilyn Williams9781910786055

SINGLENESS AND EUNUCHS

Today we have the second of our posts from guest blogger and author Ennrich Krtizinger. His book Gender Plus was released this week

Jesus calls those who are not married eunuchs in Matthew 19:11-12! This is so interesting! It is not seen as a negative or spoken of as a lesser person. No, but there is room in God’s Kingdom for those who are not married!

Even more interesting are the reasons why… Some are born eunuchs, some are made so by others, and some choose it for the sake of the kingdom! So the kingdom of God does not only consist of married couples. There is room for singles or eunuchs as well. How amazing is our God to leave room for variety and diversity! He even goes further to give this promise to the eunuch in Isaiah 56:1-7… a name better than sons and daughters.

Being single comes with boundaries, just like marriage comes with its own boundaries! The Bible is also a textbook for life and living so dip in and read more about this. A great example of a single person is the apostle Paul who wrote almost two thirds of the New Testament! Wow. Thank you Lord that you are calling all people back to you, whether single, married, or eunuch. Now that’s some food for thought!

Gender Plus is available now from our website.

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