Never a Panic in Heaven

by Janet Chester Bly

Which of these  statements do you most relate to?

What I see is all there is. I’m governed by chance, ruled by fate. Mine is a bleak, empty existence, leading nowhere. My life is governed by my good choices and happy thoughts. We’re ruled by fearsome forces who can attack at any moment. Or I believe in a loving, powerful God who has a benevolent plan for the world, and for me, and the power to see it through.

Charlie Shedd wrote, “Even when things seem to the contrary, I believe (God’s) universe and my life in it are unfolding as they should, and everything is on schedule.”

Everything’s on schedule? That smacks of a celestial plan. But, why not? We ourselves are great planners. Where did that come from, if we’re born into a chancy, random world?

A look around makes plain that God’s will is largely ignored everywhere. The result is pain and violence, mystery and confusion, atrocity and death. A sovereign planner must be greater than ambitious rulers, the torrents of nature, and plotters of evil. Otherwise, where is our hope? To whom can we appeal?

The eyes of faith can detect order breaking through even the sudden outbursts of events. There’s a flow to history. A bigger plan at play. A serious study of the Bible reveals it, with an outline of God’s divine blueprint, his design.

Everything’s on schedule. Do you believe it? Such a statement recognizes someone in control beyond ourselves and the momentary headlines.

“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” (Acts 17:26)

You and I have been chosen to live in such a time as this. Ask God for courage to embrace your appointed tasks each day. And when you’re troubled, say, “Even so, I trust you, Lord. This, too, is part of your plan.”

Janet Chester Bly

Janet Chester Bly

Beneath a Camperdown Elm, by Janet Chester Bly

Janet Chester Bly is a city girl with a country heart. She doesn’t corral horses or mow her own lawn. “I’m no womba woman,” she says, “but I love to write about them.” She followed her husband, award-winning western author Stephen Bly, to the Idaho mountaintop village of Winchester to write books and minister to a small church. When she lost him, she stayed. Janet has authored, and co-authored with Stephen, thirty-four contemporary and historical fiction and inspirational and family-themed nonfiction books. He also published more than 100 books of his own.

This article was adapted from her book, Awakening Your Sense of Wonder / Discovering God in the Ordinary. Her most recent release is Beneath a Camperdown Elm, Book 3, Trails of Reba Cahill contemporary western romance series, with a zing of mystery. More about Janet at www.blybooks.com.

 

 

 

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My husband and I recently visited Miami to attend a wedding. One evening while walking outside, I noticed a duck and her six ducklings navigating the parking lot to a grassy spot beside the road.

I couldn’t believe that momma would risk having her babies so close to traffic. But a quick glance told me she had an expanse of water across the road as well as the spectacular bay behind the hotel.

When I got close enough to snap a photo, the little mother eyed me with suspicion as if preparing to attack. She wasn’t afraid.

That reminded me of God’s promise in Psalm 91, “under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

I like the thought of resting under God’s wings because we live in a dangerous time. Explosive emotions teeter on the threshold because our culture has abandoned common sense.

God knows the dangers, but just like that duck saw the water, God also knows the opportunities open to us. In fact, he placed us in this time to have an impact on the world around us.

Let’s rest in God’s provision and be as courageous as Mother Duck while sharing our hope with others.

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former home-school mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She served as past president of Christian Authors Guild, directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference, and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio. Her author website is www.clsimmons.com.

 

 

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Most cats hate water, right? Nope. Colonel Brandon, my kitty, loved it when he was little. He would smack the water in his dish and watch it fly in the air, landing all over the floor. Who knows? Maybe he could see a rainbow of colors while he splashed.

His joyful game usually ended when he knocked over the bowl, saturating the floor underneath. He’d walk away with droplets of water all over his face.

When he got older, he used to sit with his water dish between his paws, as if he feared it might get away.

His actions remind me of Psalm 42:1. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.”

How wonderful if I sought God as diligently as my cat sought water.

Sometimes I try to find satisfaction other places. Reading or watching a movie can help me escape for the moment.

However, the days I spend time in God’s Word and prayer, I always find the refreshment I need, and I have the courage to face life’s challenges.

Just like my kitty sought water, I encourage you to get in the Word and delight in God’s love.

Cynthia L. Simmons

Cynthia L. Simmons

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former home-school mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She served as past president of Christian Authors Guild, directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference, and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio. Her author website is www.clsimmons.com.

Pursuing Gold

Pursuing Gold

 

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On one of our trips overseas we were able to take a day and spend it in London, England. The highlight for me were the guards of Buckingham Palace. Those guards were so self disciplined, vigilant and stalwart—nothing could shake them from their duty! It reminded me of 1 Cor 15:58, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (CSB) I have always pondered, just “HOW can I be steadfast and immovable in a world that always seems to shake us to the core?”

In Becoming a Brave New Woman, I share an example: It was one of those days. It must have been a Monday. I had been away speaking all weekend. I picked up the phone to gather voice-mail messages. “You have 31 messages.” I put down the receiver, discouraged. A stack of correspondence, a half-finished manuscript, and my email screen all stared back at me demanding a response. I was officially overwhelmed.

I had made a commitment to God, that I would spend time with Him before I would start my workday, but this day I hadn’t had my quiet time yet. I reached across the desk and picked up my dog-eared copy of Daily Light for the Daily Path, a book that gathers verses of the Bible together by topic, and has a Bible reading for each morning and evening. I opened to January 8th and read: “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able. Able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work . . . Able to guard what I have entrusted . . . Who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control . . . Do you believe I am able to do this? . . . According to your faith it will be done to you.”

ABLE! ABLE! ABLE! I felt free to be me and let God be God. I thought of several friends in ministry who might also be encouraged by receiving this same devotional page. I turned to January 8th to copy it. It wasn’t there. I turned to February 8th – not there either. I turned to March 8th. It was the March 8th reading, but I had read it on January 8th! I’d been so preoccupied, I’d read the wrong page – but God had me read the right day for me! He is Able!

 

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 46 books and bestselling author of Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience (co-authored with Jean E Jones and artist Karla Dornacher) Pam and her husband Bill have now celebrated their 39th anniversary, and are the Co-Directors of Love-Wise. Their home is a live aboard boat docked in Southern California. The Farrels invite all their friends, readers and CAN community to join the Living Love-Wise Community. 

 

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This Christmas, I had the joy of speaking at many women’s teas and Christmas events. My message was on “Christmas Light” and it is based on our family’s Christmas Advent Wreath and Dinner and Dialogue traditionpam speak christmas ncc 2015. We use Isaiah 9:6 as the center of our celebration and conversation because it is the center of the hope and light we all enjoy because of Christ’s birth.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”

This Christmas, which name of Christ are you leaning on? Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father or Prince of Peace?

Those same four names can lead us to creative ways to bless back those who have been a blessing to us during the past year. In doing so, we reflect the light of God’s love.

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light (Psalms 36:9)

advent wreath candlesFor those who have blessed you, not just personally, but professionally, let’s look at 4 simple ways you can boomerang back some of the blessings that have been extended to you:

Wonderful Counselor: Give those who supported you a little support too. Send them a book (video, conference scholarship, a meeting with a mentor or counselor, a day away at a conference grounds for solace) that equips them for an upcoming important event in their life (marriage, birth of a child, care for a parent), or comforts or lends wisdom for a struggle he or she might be working through (that they may have shared with you).  This can be a fun way to express your creativity too. For example, we often give our book, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti,waffle spaghetti with ws book  and wrap it in a pasta bowl with spaghetti noodles, waffle iron with waffle mix and the utensils needed to cook these up. On occasion I have a friend in ministry close enough to send a fun gift to– like our Red Hot Monogamy book wrapped in a set of sheets, or in a basket of fun “hot items” like Red Hot candy, hot tamales, a gift card to a Mexican food café, or a collections of hot sauce bottles.

Mighty God: Offer to pray them through a difficult situation or circumstance. Send Bible verses, prayers,  or a Bible gift item with a verse they can hang their heart on to have hope. My friend, Lisa Copen, of Gutsy Goodness, has an invisible illness that keeps her in daily pain, yet she runs Rest Ministries to help others in pain and she also creates beautiful messages of hope on necklaces. During a difficult season in my life, God led me to Neh. 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Today, I wear that phrase to encourage me on a necklace Lisa made for me.

Everlasting Father: Good dads make life just a little bit easier. Perhaps your gift can help lighten the load or ease the work of someone who has eased your load. Options can include gift cards, but you can also add your logo (or theirs) to tools that people need for work as a small reminder that you care: usb drive, coffee mugs, water glasses, sticky note holders, coasters, desk accessories are all items we have receivedbrave book courage mug and given.  (Often your local Christian bookstore is a great place to find unique gift items with some deeper scriptural meaning– and it is a terrific way to thank your bookstore with your business!) For example, to go along with my book Becoming a Brave New Woman, I was able to purchase a coffee mug with a verse on courage on it to give to some brave women who had helped me be brave.

Prince of Peace: One of the best gifts you can give a leader is to enrich their own walk with God. You might give them a beautiful book mark, a new Bible, or a new devotional. The year A Couple’s Journey with God book was released, some of our friends got a copy of that devotional with some travel items like luggage tags, flight ticket holder and passport cover. Our book Devotions for Men on the Go and Devotions for Women on the Gocouple journey luggage tag have been given with items to keep those friends “on the go”: coffee gift card, coffee thermos or dark chocolate espresso bean candy; gas fuel card; or cute key chain or fitness item.

To gain creativity, think of your life, and a walk a mile in your own shoes and ask, “What would make my life easier, stronger or better?” Make a list of those items, then put on your friend’s tennies or heels and  walk through their life asking that same question. Chances are the circle of their life and the circle of yours will over lap and there may be items in your world or the books and resources of other author friends you know that could bless those around your ministry.

 

pam bill merry christmas sign 2013Pam Farrel, with her husband Bill, are the authors of 40+ books. including their newest 7 Simple Skills for Every Man and 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman. They are the co-directors of Love-Wise.

 

 

 

 

 

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