It’s a God Thing!

This week our guest blogger is Keith Gentry, author of Good Choices

I frequently hear the phrase, ‘it’s a God thing.’

‘It’s a God thing’ could be attributed to a modern saying when we are not totally sure if a miracle has occurred. Especially when compared to that of the parting of the Red Sea; a miracle which was an extraordinary, inexplicable event that defies natural or scientific laws. Yet we know God was in it – all the way.

Have you ever considered the gestures of goodwill that are sometimes bestowed on individuals? The provision of a meal when the fridge is empty; a lift to an interview when there is no alternative; prayers when someone is facing a health issue current health issue. These are everyday acts of kindness and generosity. However, Jesus is right in the midst of these loving gestures and prayer of faith.

I have recently been studying the book of Esther. Surprisingly, the words ‘Jehovah’, ‘Lord’, ‘God’ and ‘prayer’ are never written within the text, and what is more, the New Testament never refers to the book of Esther. Many theologians suggest that the text is taken from a Persian government record and found its way into the Bible. However, throughout the meandering verses there is a spiritual parable about a young girl who represents the church preparing to be purified for her bridegroom.

After Esther was left behind following the captivity of the Persian Empire, Mordecai acted as her father – taking on the responsibility of looking after the fatherless. God was with this young, orphaned, Jewish girl, every step of the way. Esther was bold, confident. She visited the king without an invitation, and took advice from Mordecai, who said, ‘And who knows if you may have attained royal position for such a time as this?’.

In simple terms, we are all chosen to be used by God so that he can do ‘his thing’ in any way he chooses.

Going beyond one’s means, giving from one’s heart, empowering people to go beyond the normal in what they see, and walking in the will of God to be part of a God thing. This is my will to you all: allow God to do his thing in you and by you.

Good Choices is now available from all good bookstores and internet re-sellers.

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Fixed Lives

Fixed Lives tells the story of 13 people who were once caught in the cycle of addiction but who now are transformed. The stories are often shocking, always intriguing but fundamentally heart-warming.

Popular speaker and author J.John says, “To read this book is to come face to face perhaps uncomfortably with a lively, vigorous, full-strength faith in Christ: a religion of power, miracles and changed lives”.

Barry Woodward is one of those featured in the book. Barry was a heroin addict for 15 years. In 1996 a sequence of extraordinary events changed his life forever.

Barry founded a charity called Proclaim Trust. In 2013 Proclaim Trust hosted the very first Fixed conference. The conference was geared towards addicts, ex-addicts, recovering addicts and those with a heart for addicts. Among the hundreds who attended from all over the UK was Adelle Howells.

So often throughout Fixed Lives one is left with a feeling of hopelessness – how on earth could any of those people recounting their life stories ever hope to find a way out? The remarkable thing is that they all did. Adelle tells her story from when she listened to Barry speaking at that first ever Fixed conference…

“Before I knew it Barry was at the end of his talk, and then he invited people to say a prayer. Inside I was shaking: my emotions were all over the place. I needed to do this! Then Barry invited those who had said the prayer for the first time to come to the front. I flew from my seat and straight to the front. It was then that I felt the guilt that I’d lived with for years just lift straight off me. I was so relieved, and then I was filled with this amazing feeling of love. I’d been searching for that feeling of love all my life.”

Why not watch Adelle here.

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By Fixed Lives here or from your favourite bookstore or internet site.

The Migrant in the Mirror

This weeks guest blog is by Patrick Johnstone with Dean Merrill

The migrant crisis is bigger now than ever before, with some sixty million men, women, and children on the move. ‘We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,’ said António Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

And I have news for you. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Our world is full of war, poverty, terrorism, corruption, failed states, and ecological disasters, all of which uproot people and send them searching for a better life.

Some people respond to the tragedy with a shrug. Others shed an occasional tear, particularly when confronted with heartbreaking images, like photos showing infants lying facedown in the surf, dead after a long, harrowing water journey. Still others respond with anger or fear, threatening to round up the outsiders and either send them back to where they came from or lock them up and throw away the key.

Today, followers of Jesus find themselves in all three of these emotional camps. I am writing to help Christians understand the challenges our world faces and respond to these challenges in Christ-honoring ways.

Them or Us?

If you’re fortunate enough to have a roof over your head and a reliable income, it’s only natural for you to think of today’s refugees as “those people.”

But let’s take a moment and look in the mirror. What do you see? When I look, I see an immigrant staring back at me.

It’s easy for us to forget that our ancestors probably looked like “those people” when they made their journeys from the old countries to new lands in Europe or the “New World.”

The United States is rightly called ‘a nation of immigrants’ but even card-carrying Europeans like me need to admit that nearly all of us arrived after the last Ice Age!

I am culturally English today, but I’m the product of immigration. My Irish grandparents emigrated from poverty-stricken County Cavan to England in 1899, where there were more opportunities for a young doctor and his wife. They were not the only Johnstones to scatter across the world in those years.

Flowing in my veins is Celtic blood, Dutch blood, Viking blood—and not a drop of English blood so far as I know. My boyhood schoolmates quickly seized on my obviously Irish name, ‘Patrick,’ and teased me mercilessly, even bullying me. To them, I was one of ‘those people.’

The migrants scrambling today to reach our borders are no different.

Immigrants and Refugees

There are so many terms being thrown around. So who’s who, and what’s what?

Immigrant: Someone who has relocated (for whatever reason) to a new country.

Emigrant: Same as above, only viewed from the opposite end—someone who has left for a new country. In 1933 Albert Einstein emigrated from Nazi Germany. He immigrated to the United States.

Internally displaced person (IDP): Someone who has fled their home but is still inside their country’s borders. (IDPs account for two-thirds of today’s 60 million on the move, in fact.)

Refugee: Someone who has left their home country to escape war, natural disaster, or the fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, or political opinion—AND has been registered as such in a receiving country.

Asylum seeker: Someone who appears to be a refugee but hasn’t yet been officially evaluated.

In the years after World War II, Europeans largely welcomed the war’s refugees. The same happened in the U.S. in the years after the Vietnam war. United States accepted more than a million refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

But today, refugees often receive a chillier welcome.

Are Christians Really More Negative About Immigrants?

I can understand why some people fear refugees and want to “throw the bums out.” But I’m surprised when Christians embrace that approach.

This article was excerpted from Serving God in a Migrant Crisis: Ministry to People on the Move by Johnstone and Merrill. Now available from all good bookstores.

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