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

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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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AN ISSUE WITH A BROTHER

Today’s guest blogger is Ennrich Kritzinger who’s book Gender Plus is published today!

Forgiveness creates the way back to love — more so, to unconditional love!

Oh, where could I go with this thing called disappointment that was stuck in my heart? Would it be to the one I blamed for it being there in the first place? Surely not! An offence was taken, maybe not given, and I needed to let it go. I couldn’t and didn’t want to carry it any more by myself. It clouded my view, troubled my heart and yes, even quieted my voice from speaking. It hurt! It hurt like crazy!

So I went to Him, Jesus, who is forgiveness, and asked for His help. My question: how do I set things right with my brother? How can I even face him, speak to him with this thing in my heart, this beam stuck in my eye?

And so He lifted my head and said: ‘Give it to me. It was never yours to carry. Give me all your disappointment, anger, hurt, fear and unforgiveness! I carried it for you. Yes, 2000 years ago: now exchange the beam in your eye for forgiveness at the cross.’ How amazing that God gave Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins on a wooden cross so that we can have wooden beams of unforgiveness removed from our eyes. With his one act of love, it was done! Now I could go back to my brother, with a whole heart again — now you can speak again!

Thank you, Jesus. For you are forgiveness, you are truth, you are love, and you teach how to love unconditionally! You are the way and you teach me the way back to a brother!

Ennrich Kritzinger, author of Gender Plus published February 29 2016.

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Who can we trust to tell the truth?

So a group of Argentine Doctors have linked the larvacide chemical being used in Brazils water as a pesticide, as a possible cause of the birth defect known as Microcephaly, rather than the actual Zika virus caused by the very mosquitos the pesticide aims to control. Although researchers disagree on whether the chemical is a likely cause of the condition, the Brazilian government have taken the research seriously enough to ban the use of the pesticide. Now I’m no expert in such matters but one thing really troubles me and has done for some time.

Who can we trust to tell us the truth?

Governments, big business, religious organisations, among others have all let us down in the past as the pursuit of their own agenda’s sadly colour the shade of whatever particular ‘truth’ they seek to promote at any given time.

Thankfully in the person of Jesus Christ, who said “I am the way and the truth and the Life’ we have someone we can totally rely on. His words have stood the test of time and still provide the solid foundation upon which many societies seek to build their moral framework.

We may not always get our bit right in following his instructions but at least he is always true to his word.

‘I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.’

To discover more about Jesus check out this lovely creative book by Sarah Woodall  Musings through Mark

 

 

What price British Values?

This week we have our first guest blogger, Peter May. His book, ‘The Search For God’ is published on February 22nd.

What exactly are these British values that politicians keep talking about? They are rarely spelled out. As far as I can see, they seem to boil down to fair play, politeness, patience when queuing, an admiration for cricket and a sense of humour. These are all very good British values, especially the cricket, but are totally inadequate for the foundations of national life.

Our historic national values are not grounded in such trivia but are deeply rooted in historic Christianity. This was clear to King Canute, who according to Goscelin, writing in 11th century, placed his crown on a crucifix in Winchester to show he reigned under the authority of the King of Kings.

In 19th century, it was clear to William Wilberforce as he stood against slavery, to Lord Shaftesbury as he introduced legislation to protect young children, and to Elizabeth Fry as she sought to improve the lot of prisoners.

The contemporary, bogus notion of British Values would have achieved none of these things. These reforms flowed from deep rooted Christian values. If the Government passes laws within such a framework, then so well and good. But if not, if they fail to protect the vulnerable, oppress the poor, lack compassion for the strangers at our gates, damage marriage and family life, put children at risk by teaching them there are no norms for sexuality and that their genders are fluid and can be chosen, the issues are thrown back on us to decide who will be God over us.

Contrary to the spirit of our age, Christian values are rooted in objective truth and morals. Freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of assembly and freedom of worship, are essential characteristics of a free country. They were not easily won and are grounded in a higher authority, the conviction that the risen Jesus is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords and, as the Prayer Book put it, the only Ruler of Princes. If we do not honour him as such, usurpers will take his place. Christian people must give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s – but give back to God the things that belong to him.

Peter May 9781910786376

Perfectionism

The first book we published is called Naturally Supernatural by Wendy Mann. We caught up with Wendy last week to discuss the reprint that is now required because her book has sold so well. Reprints give the opportunity to amend typos that crept into the first edition – yes imperfections do exist within the printed page! In fact the publishing industry average is about six per book. This got me thinking. Is there anything that is 100% perfect? Think about what we buy and the services we use – there’s always something that prevents anything from being 100% perfect. Perhaps this a good reminder of the human condition. None of us are perfect (me more than most!) and our imperfections can be physical, emotional or behavioral.  History records that only one person was ever perfect. His name is Jesus. Getting to know him does not make us perfect but it does allow him to start changing us from within to make us better people9781910786000.

First time blogger

I have a confession. Despite being a publisher I am neither a writer nor editor. My journey into publishing was unconventional to say the least. A sports science degree does not normally lead one into the literary world but here I am nevertheless. For over 20 years I worked for someone else. I dutifully turned up for work (almost on time) every day, hardly ever took any time off sick, often worked extra hours and took on anything that was offered to me in the hope that I would become too valuable to lose. And guess what? I was made redundant. For the first time in my life at the age of 53 I was (quite literally) shown the door and put unceremoniously on garden leave (not that I had much of a garden to attend to!).

So what was I to do.

In times like this I normally do three things; pray, reflect and run sometimes all at the same time. In these moments a path was illuminated before me. Not all at once but gradually step by step from flickering candelight to ever ready torchlight my heavenly Dad showed me a way forward just like my earthly Dad did when I was a child.

So here I am a year later. The director, of a publishing company which I wholly own having, with the help of my very able publishing assistant Sarah, published 15 books to date with several more in the pipeline. Are we making a living? Barely, but that’s not the point. For the first time in my life I’m free. Free to make my own decisions but also completely responsible for everything we do. It’s a scary journey  over some pretty rough terrain but so worth it…