One More for the Kingdom?

One More for the Kingdom? has now been published.  It has been quite a journey.  As some of you know, we began an outreach in Spain about 2 years ago.  Never did I believe that God would do the many amazing things He has done there.  Never did I believe that we would meet so many problems!!  I experienced the reality of the fact that we have an enemy.  And he does not want any person to enter the Kingdom of God.  So, once our objective became clear – to win people for the Kingdom of God – it attracted the attention of our enemy.  The book includes some allusions to these difficulties but it really represents the reality of our journey through life if we want to seek and serve God.  When we become Christians we sometimes think that means life will become easy.  No way!  And this was the purpose of writing this book – to highlight some of the problems so that we are not taken by surprise when we meet them, and to encourage the reader to seek first the Kingdom of God.   The five star review given by Readers’ Favorite ends by saying, ‘One More for the Kingdom?’ is a must read for anyone who wants to take their spiritual life seriously.’  And I guess this sums it up much better than I could.

One More for the Kingdom?  is different from my other books in many ways, three of which are as follows:

Each chapter begins with a conversation between fiends, not friends.

The front cover features a wonderful painting by a talented artist from Spain – Esther Romero

It received a FIVE STAR review from Readers’ Favorite before publication – https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/one-more-for-the-kingdom

The book follows the journey of Mansheart as he looks for the Kingdom of God.  What is the Kingdom of God, and where do we find it?  Mansheart will find on his journey that he has a cunning enemy.  At first, he is not even aware he is on a journey, nor does he realise he has an enemy. As he travels Mansheart is tricked in various ways by two fiends, who have one objective – to prevent Mansheart entering the Kingdom.  Will Mansheart be deceived by the many tricks and lies he meets along the way?  Will he reach the Kingdom? And if he does will it be anything like he imagined or something very different? If you find the Christian life difficult and wonder why, or if you have questions about the Kingdom of God, then this book is for you!   The final comment from the Readers’ Favorite reviewer said this, “The book combines heartwarming stories, biblical verses, and allegories to weave a spiritual message that is as relevant to our time as it is eye-opening.  One More for the Kingdom? is a must-read for anyone who wants to take their spiritual life seriously.”

I hope you enjoy reading it.  I would love to hear from you by email – you can use the contact tab on this website – with any comments or views you have about the book.  God bless you and thank you for your interest and support.

 

Father, if it be possible…………………………………………….. Learning from my beautiful friend

Father, if it be possible………  Learning from my beautiful friend

My dear friend

It was both wonderful and heart-breaking to meet with you today.  You are an amazing woman – beautiful inside and out.  Beauty on the outside is fairly easy for many woman, beauty on the inside is not.  I don’t think you realise for one moment just how special you are.  I believe you are Christ-like and I learned something about Him today that I did not know before.  I saw the beauty of His character shining through you, and I was almost overwhelmed by the wonder of this.

You had no idea.  But I saw Jesus through you today.  You didn’t realise this.  I saw Him as you served me, when I should have been serving you.  I saw Him as you encouraged me, when I should have been encouraging you.  I saw Him as the love you have for your children, your husband, your natural family and your church family shone out.  It was so strong, I felt I could have reached out and touched it. Your love seemed to encompass everyone with whom you are in contact – everyone about whom you spoke.  Your face was glowing as you told me about the children you were working with this week.  You had volunteered to help, in spite of your recent operation, and you were learning so much from them, you said – especially those who were disabled.  And you shared the things you had learned from them and I wondered at your wisdom.

I saw Him as you prayed, “Lord if my broken body can glorify you more than my healthy one, then your will be done.”  I heard His voice echo in my soul, ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me’.  I saw Jesus as I wept with you and laughed with you.  I saw Him in a way I had never seen Him before.  In awe and wonder at the beauty of His character and His love.  In awe and wonder that He was willing to suffer to accomplish God’s will for mankind.

Suffering is a strange part of God’s plan – but it is part of His plan.

I saw Him as you struggled to accept what God has allowed in your life but never for one moment did you doubt His love.  I struggled with my composure when you described your suffering and pain as a gift – and said you didn’t want to waste it.   You said, “No matter what, God is God, He is good and He loves me. I should not waste the gift He placed into my hands, He trusted me first, when He gave it to me, that I can remain faithful to Him, and He will help me too.”

And I wondered at God’s ways.  When we suffer, we are always changed by it. We can choose to draw closer to God and allow Him to transform us through it. Or we can run from Him in bitterness and anger.  Run where? And to whom?

What an example you are my dear friend.  Drawing closer to God, loving Him, trusting Him.  Like Job of old, one loved by God and yet allowed to experience suffering.  Like Job, refusing to ‘curse God and die’.  Like Job, ‘though He slay me, yet will I trust Him’.

What a beautiful character has emerged.  Now on show to all who meet you.  Warm, kind, loving, humble, sympathetic, a servant-heart – and something much more than that too.  Something it is impossible to describe because it is so wonderful and so different from others.  So different from those I meet who don’t know Jesus, and so different from many I meet who do know Him.  I see what it means when the Bible describes a Christ-like character.  I see it now before me in a way I have never seen before.  Is this what it means to be Christ-like?

And you asked me, and asked God – what good can possibly come from this illness?  And I thought of the many people who have been touched by what is happening to you, including myself.  Many of them I don’t know, but some I do.  You don’t realise how many people are touched by your situation.  The new Christian in Spain who wonders about the strength of your faith as you continue to trust God in the midst of your pain.  The unbeliever who marvels at the faith of someone who continues to love God, even while suffering. That group of women who look and wonder and seek God so much more because they want to understand what is going on.  The doctors, nurses, and others who meet with you because of your illness, who are touched by the indefinable something in your character.  The young woman who sees you, and wants to become a nurse to help people like you.  Others too who are children, or too close to the situation for me to name without this becoming too personal.  I see just a few.  God sees every single one – hundreds or thousands, and I am sure there will be more.  You do not see any of these.  You cannot believe that you could be used by God in such a powerful way.

I remember you writing to me a few months ago when I enquired how you were. “Dear Margaret,” you said “thank you so much for your prayers, I am fine. Please don’t worry about me, any worries will lead us away from trusting God. I’m grateful for what I am in right now, again it’s a huge, valuable opportunity to know our Lord, to learn the truth and the way to His plan for me.  My heart aches too when I think about my children, but this is what God said to me: “didn’t I create them, they are my children, I am their keeper, I love them just as I love you!” Margaret, please keep praying for me and sending your encouraging words to me, it is not going to be easy, but there must be a purpose of this, it will end good!!” And the tears come again as I write this, tears of sorrow and joy in equal measure.  Sorrow for your suffering but tears too of great joy as I see your great trust in, and love for, God.  If I had the power I would end your suffering in a moment.  Forget the Christ like character, forget the good that has come and will come.  Just end the suffering right now.  But, that is me – and as you reminded me, God is God.  ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’, declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’

You have been a Christian such a short time, and yet you are so far ahead of some of us who have been on the road for years.

You are so very special.  You are a wonderful example.  I don’t think I have ever met anyone quite like you and you are teaching me things I never knew before.

 

Who will move the stone?

“Who will roll the stone away?”  Mark 16:3

As some of you know, I am involved in an outreach movement in Spain.  As ever, when God is on the move, there are blessings and trials going along together.  And during this last year I have thought on several occasions, ‘who will move the stone away?’  But the lesson I have to learn over and over again, is to cast my cares on HIM (1 Peter 5:7) and He will ‘move the stone’.  And when we want to work for God, when we want to help advance HIS Kingdom on earth, we must always remember it is HIS work, not ours.  HIS plans, not ours that must go forward, HIS thoughts not ours that must prevail.  We must constantly realign our thoughts and actions with HIS – otherwise our work will be wasted.

And as I wrestled with this last week, I received a wonderful encouragement in my email box.  It was sent to me by a friend and written by a lady I don’t know – but I thank God for her.  Because this encouraged me, I have asked her permission to reprint it here in full, and hope this may also encourage you if you are facing a seemingly insurmountable problem in your life right now.

“In Mark 16 we are invited to engage with the women disciples as they prepare to visit the tomb and anoint the body of Jesus. They had bought spices; a fragrant offering for the one they loved. At daybreak they made their way, aware of the challenge before them. ‘Who would move the stone?’ They were resolved that nothing would deter them. On arrival at the tomb, their question had been answered: God himself had moved the stone. The way was open; no barriers, no hindrances. They encountered resurrection; and with resurrection came revelation: ‘You will see Him!’ This promise echoes through the pages of scripture, encouraging us to be living witnesses. A new day dawns and our hearts are drawn. We choose to prepare; to bring the fragrant spices of our love and adoration to worship Jesus. We are aware of challenges, but need to look to God himself to ‘remove the stone’. As we set aside our questions and choose to trust, we need not be deterred by situations and circumstances. Our priority is to worship Jesus. We come in faith, bringing the fragrant spices of lives transformed by His love and grace. As we come, we meet with resurrection; we receive revelation, and the promise that ‘We will see Him!’  We encounter our risen, living Lord.  As we behold Him, our hearts are changed and we reflect His glory. Heart to heart encounters bring clarity of purpose and calling. Each new day is an opportunity to encounter resurrection and revelation: to reaffirm that God himself will move obstacles as we worship, listen and partner with him for His kingdom and glory.”   Rhonty Beeching

New Year’s Resolution

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-1

I love New Year.  And I always make a New Year resolution – in spite of the fact that I am not always successful in keeping it!

But New Year is a time for looking forward, not back.  It is a time to think about all that God has planned for me this year.  It is a time to remember how good and how great He is every year – and I know this year will be no exception.  The Bible proclaims from beginning to end that God is good and God is love and I believe that.  I believe it because I believe the Bible is God’s Word.  I believe it because I know Jesus who is my Saviour and my Lord.  But, I also believe it because I have experienced it time after time after time.

And if ever I should doubt it all I have to do is look at the cross of Christ.  The perfect demonstration of God’s love for me (Romans 5:8).  Here is the proof that He loves me, proof that He wants my company, proof that by trusting Jesus I am a child of God and proof that when this life ends I will be with Him for ever – what more could I ask for?  I should always be joyful and praising God for all this shouldn’t I?  But…………………………… the reality is sometimes different!!

I have the great privilege of being part of a Christian Ladies Group where I live in the UK and I have learned many valuable lessons from these women.  And this year is no exception, in spite of the fact that I have not been with them very much – (because of time spent in Spain which will soon be the subject of another blog post.)   But the primary lesson I have learned is that we should – and can – keep praising God in spite of any difficulties we may be experiencing.  Many of the women in this group have had severe problems this year and far from perfect circumstances, and yet…………………………… still they have trusted and still they have continued to praise God.  And I believe they have brought a smile to God’s face time and time again throughout this year.  “the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147.11

It’s easy really to praise God when everything is going well – although we often don’t!  But to praise Him when things are not so good?  That takes courage and faith and endurance and character………….and today I want to shout aloud the praises of these wonderful women to anyone who will listen, and to say thank you to them for the lessons they teach me.  And I praise God for each one of them.  They know that even if they don’t understand everything, they can still trust God because “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

And it is this that has made me decide on my New Year resolution – which is to praise God every day.  To stop being so busy bringing Him all my requests that I often forget to praise Him for all that He is, all He has done, all that He does, and all that I know He will do in 2016.  So this is my New Year resolution, and my prayer too because even in this I know I can’t keep it up in my own strength.  Hopeless and helpless without Him but knowing He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

So I’m looking forward to 2016, and aiming to keep praising Him each day while waiting and watching for Jesus to return.  Happy New Year and God bless you.

Introducing Corine Hyman

Yes I know……………. I haven’t written on this blog for a while!  I am in Spain at the moment and there is so much going on.  God is at work in amazing ways and one day soon I will write here with a few details.  However, I always like to keep my word – if at all possible – and I promised to introduce a wonderful children’s author on this blog.  So that is why I am here today J

I don’t often read children’s books, but I was asked to take a look at this one: ‘Teaching Christ’s Children About Feeling Angry’.  The title intrigued me – as did the wonderful illustration on the front, so I decided to read it.  And I loved it!  This is an excellent little book for children.  It is firmly based on the Bible; very simple and easy to read and it has some excellent advice for both children and adults.  It is also likely to keep a child’s attention because of the excellent illustrations.

So, I decided it would be worthwhile to interview the author, Corine Hyman, and here she is…….

Margaret – Hi Corine – thanks for joining me today.  I have just read your wonderful book for kids – ‘Teaching Christ’s Children About Feeling Angry’.  I really liked it so I thought it would be good to get to know you a bit better.  So can you tell us a little about yourself?

Corine – Thanks for that and for asking for an interview.  I currently live in the great state of Maryland where I work full-time as a clinical psychologist.  However, my passion is writing Christian Childrens Books.  The book you mention is my sixth picture book: Teaching Christ’s Children About Feeling Angry.   All my books can be found on Amazon and at www.booksbycorine.com.

M – Yes that’s the book I read.  It is excellent.  I love the simple way you explain Biblical truth.  And the pictures are wonderful!  It seems daft to ask you what you do in your spare time because I doubt that you have very much!

C – Well, that’s true.  I don’t have much spare time, but when I’m not working or pursuing my passion, I enjoy gardening, cooking, and dancing.

M – Can you tell us a bit more about this book?

C – Yes of course, I would love to.  Teaching Christ’s Children About Feeling Angry is the first book in my ‘feelings’ series.  Each book will introduce children to a different emotion and help them, and the adults that love them, learn to express their emotion in a way that honors God.  This book teaches children how to express anger in a way that honors God.  Young children often feel that it is wrong to feel angry.  In Teaching Christ’s Children about Feeling Angry, the main character walks you through things that typically make a child angry and how she learns to deal with her anger in a way that is pleasing to God.

M – So what is the age range of the book? 

C – The book is geared towards children 3 to 8 years old, but my slogan is “All Books By Corine are for people from 3 to 103.”  I say this for many reasons; first several adults have read the book and they fell in love with it.  The way this book teaches how to deal with anger applies to adults as well.  Also, the book is designed to not only be a teaching tool but a discussion guide with young children.  It contains a plan to deal with several anger situations including what to do when you are angry, what not to do when you are angry and how to deal with angry people.

M – Yes and you do this in a very simple and down-to-earth way.  So what’s been the best – and the worst – part of your writing journey?

C – I can truthfully say there has not been a worst part.  I have definitely made some mistakes but I have learned and grown from each one.  I used to hate marketing my books.  Like most writers, I just wanted to curl up with my computer and my thoughts and write, write, write.  However, I am slowly learning to love marketing.  In terms of the best part, I will have to say it is definitely seeing the finished book.  Each time a book is complete I literally cry.

M – Yes I know what you mean.  I look at my books and often think they must have been written by someone else!  I still can’t really believe I have written so many books – and that they are selling so well!  I think, ‘wow, people actually want to read my books!’  So, what genre do you write, and why?

C – I write Christian Childrens books because I love children.  I love being a Christian and I love showing people that the Bible has simple answers for all of life’s questions.

M – Oh I definitely agree that the Bible has answers for all our questions.  The problem is that we often don’t like the answer!  Or we don’t take the time to find it.  Are you working on a book now? If so, can you give us a glimpse of it?

C – Yes.  I am currently working on a workbook to accompany Teaching Christ’s Children about Feeling Angry as well as the second book in the Teaching Christ’s Children About Feeling.  The name of the second book is still under wraps. However, you can find out more about it by following me via my blog or social media.  Soon I will be offering people a chance to name the characters in this book.

M – Oh thanks Corine that sounds great.  I will put your contact details here below our interview so that anyone interested can find out more about you and your books.  Thanks so much for joining me today and keep up the good/God work!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/booksbycorine

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/booksbycorine

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/booksbycorine/

NAHUM HABAKKUK AND ZEPHANIAH

nahum slim1 website

NAHUM HABAKKUK AND ZEPHANIAH

Just to let you all know that the Bible Study for these three Minor Prophets has now been published.  Remember though that although they are called ‘minor’ prophets – their message is anything but minor!  I decided to cover all three books in one BSBP study because they each have only three chapters.  However, there is so much to learn from each of them, and hopefully you will enjoy reading them so much that you will want to explore other books and commentaries so you can learn more.

Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah were all prophets at a similar time in the history of Israel i.e. between 650BC and 600BC approximately.   In 722BC the Assyrians had invaded and destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel and in 701BC they invaded Judah (see 2 Kings 17:6 and 18:13-18.)  At this point in history Assyria was drunk with power and wealth.  She would not acknowledge her sin or listen to God.

All three prophets have very serious messages which were very relevant for their time BUT I believe they are also very relevant for the time in which we now live.  The Great Day of the Lord is coming soon.  Are you looking forward to that, dreading it – or maybe you don’t even believe it is coming?  We all know that whether we believe something or not, makes no difference as to whether it is actually true.  So surely, with a matter so serious, it makes sense for each of us to urgently seek to find out the truth about all this.  God says, ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ Jeremiah 29:13.  So why not do this and find peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ?

Thank you for your interest and your support.  Thank you especially for your prayers.  Sales this year have been amazing and whilst I don’t receive a huge amount for each book, nevertheless the small sums mount up and are at the moment helping the wonderful people at Tearfund, who are continuing their great work to prevent children being trafficked.

The book is available on Amazon and in some bookstores.  If you need to know a stockist please contact us.  Here are the links for the book on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk – Readers in other places e.g. other European countries, Australia etc will find the book on the relevant Amazon site for their country.

http://www.amazon.com/Nahum-Habakkuk-Zephaniah-Bible-Study/dp/151699549X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441390984&sr=8-1&keywords=bsbp+nahum&pebp=1441390987976&perid=17VKEY56N3EKK9KY1FR2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nahum-Habakkuk-Zephaniah-Bible-Study/dp/151699549X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441391014&sr=8-1&keywords=bsbp+nahum

 

A lesson on suffering from a 3 year old

“For I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” Romans 8:18

Why do we suffer?  This is a common question from both those who know God, and those who do not.  It is often used, of course, as a ‘reason’ to refuse to believe in God, or in the goodness of God.  I don’t presume to know the full answer to this question of suffering, but this week I had an experience which, for me, was an example of part of the answer.

The child of a friend of mine became very seriously ill.  This week has been a nightmare for the parents.  The situation became progressively worse, which resulted in the child being admitted to our local hospital. This was followed the next day by an ambulance ride, with blue flashing lights, to a hospital in London at about 7pm in the evening.  In the first hospital they just could not discover the problem.  The child was in severe pain and vomiting constantly.  At the London hospital they still could not firmly establish the root cause, but felt they had to open up the child and operate immediately.  A 3-4 hour operation in the middle of the night.

I sat with the child’s Mummy at our local hospital.  I wept with her, for her child, and for her pain.  And I thought of God – our great Heavenly Father – whose love for me and for you is even greater than the love of a Mummy for her baby.

The little child, on the huge hospital bed, with tubes coming out of him in so many different places, looked at his Mummy reproachfully.  He seemed to be saying, ‘why are you letting this happen to me Mummy?  Why don’t you stop them sticking needles in me?  Please take out all these tubes.  Why don’t you take me home?’  But, of course, a Mummy who loved her child so much, could not do that.  All this had to happen, so that the child could be made well.  The child was broken and had to be mended.  All this had to be done in order to fix what was wrong.  He could not enjoy toys and games and ice cream and fun in the future, unless first the problem was fixed.  Mummy understood this, the child did not.

And yet even while suffering, you could see the love and trust shining out of this little boy’s eyes.  Mummy is here so it must be alright, he seemed to be thinking.  Drifting in and out of sleep, each time he woke his eyes searched the room for his Mummy.  Yes she was still there, so even though he had no idea what was happening, it must be alright.

At the same time Mummy (and Daddy at home with the younger child) were doing exactly the same with their Heavenly Father.  Oh God, we don’t understand what is going on and our little boy is hurting, but we are still going to trust you irrespective of the outcome.  We know you are here with us.  We know you love us because Jesus suffered and died on the cross for each of us, so we are hanging onto that love and trusting you.

And I wondered about the connection between our suffering here on earth, and the glory that will be revealed in us when we are with Jesus.  Each of us has been broken by the terrible effect of sin.  What if we cannot be made fit for heaven in any other way?  What if the only way we can have the ‘glory’ is if we also have the suffering?  What if our broken minds and bodies must first be fixed, before we can enjoy all that God has in store for us throughout eternity?

And then later I understand it was even worse.  Mummy was alone in the hospital in London.  She had to help the doctors hold the child tight so that the preparation could be made for the operation.  The child felt totally betrayed.  For a short while he would not look at his Mummy or allow her to come near him.  The ultimate betrayal, she had conspired with those who were hurting him.

And I remembered the times in my life, when I have turned against God because, with my limited understanding, He was doing nothing to help me.  In fact, He seemed against me because He allowed things in my life which He could have prevented.  And yet, His love was too great to stop the suffering. I need to be fixed before I am able to enjoy the glory which will be revealed in me.  And I am sure there is still much more fixing to be done!  And I can always trust in His great love and goodness.  The love which was prepared to come to earth, and suffer and die for me.

Perhaps there is a link between the extent of the suffering and the extent of the glory.  God is fair and just and righteous.  But none of us knows how much someone else may suffer, so we can never compare.  What is suffering to me may not be to you.  But our Heavenly Father knows us through and through.  He knows every detail of our character and our lives perfectly.  He knows exactly what we need, and exactly what is best for us.

I love the way the Amplified Bible puts this verse in Romans 8:18:   For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us!

The Bible also says, ‘For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone’.  Lamentations 3:33.  He only allows what is necessary in our lives.  Can we trust Him?  Can we trust His love?

Yes we can.  Because He has already demonstrated such love – “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. John 15:13 (NIV).  He suffered so much on our behalf.  Jesus went to the cross so that we could be forgiven, and our relationship with God restored.  So that we could be ‘fixed’.  And now all that remains is to change us so that we are able to enjoy all that He has in store for us in the future.  We would not enjoy heaven as we are, we need to be changed. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV)

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV)

I learned a lesson this week from a very brave and beautiful little boy who is only 3 years old.  I also learned a lesson from his brave, loving and faithful parents.  I hope I will never forget this.

When we have finished running the race (Hebrews 12:1) and are face to face with Jesus (1 Corinthians 13:12) He will present us with our crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4).  Then maybe we will echo words similar to those of this wonderful little boy, when he came round from the operation.  He was presented with a certificate of bravery by the surgeon and said – ‘Mummy did I win?’  Yes my darling you won.

An Easter message

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’  Matthew 11:28-30

After rather a sombre message yesterday I thought today should be more encouraging!  And Easter is such a wonderful time of encouragement.  The God who ‘will not leave the guilty unpunished’ (yesterday’s blog) is a God of love who ‘is not willing that any should perish’ (2 Peter 3:8-10).  That is why God is still waiting and we have not yet arrived at the Day of Judgment.  And in these Bible verses we have such a wonderful invitation.  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

In a world which is in such turmoil, I believe the only way we can find true and lasting ‘rest’ is by being in the presence of God and knowing His love.  And the only way we can be in the presence of God, and have a relationship with Him, is through the Lord Jesus.  Jesus says, ‘no-one comes to the Father except through me.’  John 14:6

In the days before Easter some of us have been reflecting on the journey of Jesus to the cross.  That doesn’t seem to me like a light burden or an easy yoke!  But because Jesus was always in perfect communion with His Father, the burden became easy and the yoke light.  And today, whatever our circumstances, I believe we can still find rest in the presence of God.  I was reading recently a testimony from a young Christian woman who was imprisoned in Iraq.  She said, ‘I have learned that it is possible to be in prison and still be free.’  Wow!

And so this Easter – and every day – the message is still available for anyone – ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Romans 10:13.   Jesus died on the cross (a historical fact) but the questions is, have you accepted that He died for YOU?  That because He loves YOU and me so much, He was prepared to die on the cross and take the punishment that we deserved.  You see, you and I can never have a relationship with a holy and perfect God, unless the question of our sin is first dealt with.  And so God provided the solution in Jesus.  Jesus died on the cross and poured out His blood as a perfect sacrifice before God (as foretold in the Old Testament) for the ‘sins of the world’.  This means I can repent of my sin before God and He can forgive me, because Jesus took my punishment.  God is righteous and must punish sin (yesterday’s blog) but He is love and thus has provided the solution to the problem of sin.

And then we know from the Bible that He rose again and met with hundreds of people before He went back to heaven.  And the Bible tells us He is coming again.  So just as the Old Testament prophecy about the birth, life, and death of Jesus came true, so also will the prophecy that He will come again also come true.  We don’t know when, but we do know from the Bible that one day Jesus will return – not to die on a cross, but as a King and a Judge.

Will you be pleased to see Him when He returns as King, because He is your Saviour?  Or will you be terrified because He will not leave the guilty unpunished?

How do I know I know God resize

The Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.  Nahum 1:3

The character of God never changes.  This verse is in the Old Testament but we must remember that the God of the Old Testament is the same God as the God of the New Testament.  And this God is righteous and just and I believe this Scripture to be as true today as it was more than 2000 years ago.  The Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.  Yes He is slow to anger and very patient, but He will not leave the guilty unpunished.

Too often we forget this and therefore the tendency is to be soft on sin.  We hear things like, ‘Oh it doesn’t matter because God forgives sin.’  But we should remind ourselves that God does not forgive sin, if there is no repentance.  Unless someone ‘repents’ God does not forgive, He judges.  Thus it seems that one thief on the cross was safe, and the other one would face judgment.  And repentance does not just mean saying sorry!  It means a change.  It means not only being sorry about the sin, but a real desire to make amends (if we can) and to turn away from what we have done.  It means a having a horror and disgust about what I have done, and a willingness to turn to God, asking Him to prevent me ever doing it again.  Thus we not only pray ‘forgive us our sins’ but we also pray ‘lead us not into temptation’.  In other words, I know what I have done is wrong and I want to ask for help from God so I don’t do the same thing again.

And the reason God is able to forgive if I repent, is that Jesus died on the cross and took the punishment for my sin.  Therefore, God still punishes sin, but in my case, Jesus took my punishment.  But if I do not repent and confess my sins, then I must remember that ‘the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished’.

There seems to be such a muddle about forgiveness today.  If we see someone committing a great sin against someone else, we sometimes say ‘well, I forgive that person.’  What?  You can’t forgive that person – it is God who forgives, or not.  We cannot put ourselves in the place of God.  We are told to forgive those who sin against us and in so doing we free ourselves from bitterness.  We liberate ourselves, not the other person!  And we pray for them, Lord forgive their sin, just as Stephen did when he asked God to forgive the sin of those who were stoning him.  But if someone sins against another person – not me personally – I cannot claim to forgive them, or I am putting myself in the place of God!  I can pray for the victim that they will be able to forgive, and I can pray for the perpetrator that they will repent so that God will forgive them, but I have no right to claim that I forgive them

In the Gospels we hear people say of Jesus, ‘who is this that forgives sins?’  They knew that only God has the right to forgive sins, and we should remember this too.  So, I can forgive someone who sins against me personally – this is clear from the Lord’s prayer.  But as for others, I leave them in God’s hands – if they repent and accept all that Jesus has done for them, then God will forgive.  But if they do not repent and refuse the sacrifice that Jesus made on their behalf, there remains nothing but judgment.  The Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.

And so this Easter the message goes out again – that Jesus died for YOU – because the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.  Understand that you are guilty before God – just as I am – and race for protection from His wrath and punishment, by accepting Jesus as your Saviour and Lord.  Look around at the state of the world today and remember that although God is slow to anger, He will not leave the guilty unpunished and soon He will judge.  What will that mean for you?

Introducing Barton Jahn!

Well I did say I would be interviewing several authors and this year has got off to a very good start!  Next up is Barton Jahn.  Author of some very compelling Christian books about the last days.  Very appropriate for this day and age and he really makes you think!  And make the most of this interview because that will be it for a while.  I will be returning to my Bible verses and thoughts and then maybe interview some more authors later in the year.  This has been great fun though as I have met lots of lovely people.  So here’s Bart just joining me now…………………………

Hi Bart – thanks for joining me today.  I wanted to speak with you about your life as an author because I have read and enjoyed several of your books.  I particularly enjoyed ‘The Cross in the End Times’.  So, tell us about the first book you ever published.

B.J. My first book was one of four published through McGraw-Hill in their Professional Book Group.  The title is Practical Cost-Saving Techniques for Housing Construction, and was the product of about 20 years of research and 13 years of practicing and improving my writing.

The target audience was builders, jobsite superintendents, tradespeople, and architects.

I took a one-day seminar in how to get published at UCLA, purchased some books, identified six publishers of construction books, and sent out six query letters with short samples of the book.  I got back five cordial rejection letters wet-signed.  The sixth response was from a McGraw-Hill acquisitions editor who said “quick, call me…this is just what I am looking for.”

My four books with McGraw-Hill were published 1995-98.  The fourth book was translated into Chinese by the Architectural Society Press of China.

They were published under the name Bart Jahn.

Oh wow!  That sounds great and a real inspiration for any aspiring authors out there.  You just need to find the publisher who says ‘this is just what I am looking for’.  So what are some of your writing quirks?

B J.  My best time for writing is early morning for about 5-6 hours from 5 or 6 A.M. to noon.  Sometimes I can write decent first drafts later in the evening between 8 to 10 P.M.

I usually need several drafts to reach a finished product, especially with Christian books.  The technical writing for construction books comes easier and quicker as the task of articulating what I want to say is more narrowly focused and defined.  The Christian books require more analytical thought and numerous drafts to get the final product I want.

Well in my opinion you have done a great job with the Christian books.  I enjoyed them all because they are very thought provoking and particularly relevant for today with all the trouble there is in the world.   I can’t say I agree with everything you say, but it really helps to focus the mind and search the Bible to find evidence that supports our views.  I also like the way you are never dogmatic and always stress that what you are saying is your own opinion or view.  So where do you want to be in your writing career five years from now?

B J.  I would like to have completed the two current construction books I am working on, and also have completed a fifth Christian book that is in rough draft form.

I would like to pursue a graduate degree in science and engineering for the dual purpose of research for another construction book I have in mind, and another Christian book or books.

It would be fulfilling and challenging to have speaking engagements in both the building construction field and in Christianity as a result of my books.

I really hope – and will pray – this works out for you. What one piece of advice do you have for other writers?

B. J. I can only go by my own experience.  I was not good in English composition in college and showed no signs of a person who would someday write books and be published.  I am a self-taught writer with a foundation of being an avid reader and having spent untold hours writing and re-writing until my expression on paper was almost as free and easy as my speech.

So my advice to other authors is if you think you have something interesting, unique, and necessary to say to a particular audience, work hard at your writing until it becomes a workable craft that flows naturally from your thoughts on to the written page.  Then be disciplined to go back and fine-tune and edit your work until it feels and sounds professional.  When it feels polished and perfected, then join a writer’s group and critique other people’s work and have other author’s critique your work.  Participation in a writer’s group is a great way to step up a level in writing quality and to perfect the ability to evaluate your own work by critiquing other people’s work.

What book projects are you working on right now?

B.J.  I have two construction books that have several years of research invested that are each about 80 to 90 percent complete.  I have another Christian book that is rough notes form.

My day-job in building construction informs my inspiration for the concepts and topics of my Christian books, which I believe is as it should be.  Daily problems, issues, and challenges in the workplace and in the office flush out eternal truths in much the same way that the Apostle Paul’s evangelical mission to the first-century Greco-Roman world inspired the topics for his thirteen New Testament letters to the churches.

This is probably true for writers in every genre.  My personal journey of faith following Jesus Christ informs the issues and topics I cover in my Christian books.

My Christian books are published under the name of Barton Jahn.

I have put the link to your author page on Amazon (UK) below which shows all your Christian books, so anyone who is interested can find them quickly.  Thanks for joining me today and God bless you.

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Barton-Jahn/e/B00MD005GO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0