Simply Plans

In just a few hours from now some will be reflecting on the past, a few will be writing new goals, but most will be celebrating and ringing in the New Year.  At least that is the plan.  However, it would seem that before the street sweepers can sweep any New Year’s Eve confetti up or prepare for life as usual, time will keep on moving without any regard to the celebration at hand.  In fact, most of our plans can either change or fail as quickly as when we jotted down our thoughtful resolutions and said, “Happy New Year!”.  This tradition of watching the Ball drop each year can be maximized into a few remaining seconds and just like that we are in a New Year making the focus all about us once more.  Lately, the Lord has impressed upon my heart how I need to consistently seek God in every aspect of my life and not just for a few remaining fragments of time left on my own clock. If you will, allow me to share a bit of the past year first, before I share with you my thoughts for the new upcoming year.

It was this time last year when I was writing my New Year’s Eve Blog.  I was prepared to enter the year 2015 by ending the past year of 2014 on a good note.  After all I had just finished my book tour for “Legacy – A Poetic Voyage Towards Heaven’s Shore” and like most of the years before I was ready to enjoy my own traditions and had a great year planned!  Plans which would expand the ministry of April Sky, add more events to the off season and begin three new writing projects.

It’s funny to think about all of that now, as I distinctly remember planning to have a new book for the following Fall – who knows maybe all three.  These of course were all of “my” plans which came to a crashing halt after losing one of my Fur Babies – Abbie.  (Perhaps you remember reading about all of that in the blog from this past February). 

The year of 2015 flew by and even though I tried my hardest to keep up, I found it was useless.  The deadlines from being a self-published author with several book tours, a few health issues, grieving the loss of my grandmother and pet Abbie; left me feeling something that I was not expecting… apathy.

Oh sure, I managed to fight my way through the expected routine of life, that is up until the end of May but after that I just stopped.  Everything came to a positioned pause and did not move any further.  My connection with ministry, to people and to God was no longer present.  I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t mad… I just didn’t feel anything.  I tried everything to get it back – prayer, bible verses, worship – but each time I attempted one of these I was met with an echo of silence which was like no other.  Even my inspiration to write poetry was gone.  I couldn’t do it.  No ideas, thoughts or desire of rhythm or rhyme filled my brain or worse my heart.

It wasn’t until September that the Lord renewed the connection of ministry, people and worship back into my life, but sadly and mysteriously the inspiration to write didn’t return.

Now, here I am one year later ready to begin a new year once more writing this blog to perhaps encourage you in whatever way the Lord deems best. 

So ask yourself these three questions. 

#1 –  Are your plans all about pleasing yourself or others?  – I know your heart is in the right place trying to do all the right things and be good to all people but are you trying to gain the Lord’s approval by your own rating and not the one from His Son Jesus? Do you want to see your life change in a dynamic way? Then believe in God and place your faith in the One who loves you so much that He chases you and fights for you every day of the year! Be willing to Surrender your Heart and begin this New Year by seeking His Favor for your life!  As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

#2 – Are your plans all about reaching the next goal?  Hey I get it!  I see you with your to do lists and please hear me when I say, that our plans are not always bad – in fact sometimes they can be very good. However, as Christ Followers these goals need to be according to God’s standards.  Be willing to Surrender ALL of our hopes, plans, dreams and goals and commit them for His Purpose.  Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

#3 – Do you believe that God will never leave you regardless? – I understand that you may have had a difficult year and feel like giving up.  You might even be dreading the year to come because you are tired and exhausted and now feel alone and abandoned.  It’s so easy to allow the power of apathy to swallow you up and disappear into the abyss of cynicism.  So how about this: Don’t look back or even look forward – just look up and around you! God’s Holy Presence is everywhere and has not left you for one minute.  He has been safeguarding you through the tempest and raging sea until you could get back to the shore.  Be willing to realize that our Awareness of God’s Presence is Key in reconnecting with what we need to survive this life for the next year or years to come.   Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence. Psalm 21:6

Well, let me close with this – I don’t know what the year 2016 is going to bring, and I have listed a few resolutions of my own.  But, I hope to please Him and bask in the Presence of His Favor because I know He is always there.  Oh yes, I want to thank Him – for 2015. Just last week I was able to reconnect with the writer that I am and I was inspired to write three poems.  I am hoping this surge of creativity will continue so that I may complete my book projects.  Stay tuned.

Yes, 2015 was different from what I had planned and it had some very rough spots but it held two important things – God and Time.  So I learned once again that His Timing is always Perfect according to His Beautiful Character of Faithfulness. 

~ Should old acquaintance be forgot and the old year left behind, should this ole world fall apart – It is GOD who holds ALL Time!

Have a Safe and Blessed New Year!

~ Jodie

Simply Easter

Perhaps you noticed over the past month, some of the posts that my April Sky team and I have been posting – such as mini blogs, verses and videos.  These have all related to the topic concerning God’s Creation.  If you happened to have missed any, please check them out.

For a special ending to this topic and to welcome Easter weekend, I thought I would share my heart along with a few of my favorites.

I have included my poem, “Even the Flowers Knew” (below, in italics) which I wrote back in 1989 and even though I have written many poems about Easter, this remains one of my favorites.  For it is one that I reflect on often whenever I think about God’s Creation and that blessed moment when Jesus walked out of the tomb to live again!

The arrangement, which I share with you now, is one I wrote just a few years later. This too, is one of my favorite works of encouragement.  I purposely blended the poem along with paraphrased scripture in order that I might help others capture the imagery and wonder of how God’s Creation may have responded to the morning of Jesus’ Resurrection.   Finally, I wanted to end it with a scripture verse that is a favorite to me mainly, because it was a favorite to my grandmother, who is with Jesus now.

So now, it is my prayer that the Lord will bless your heart with the same Power and Hope which raised Jesus from the dead, and that you too, discover…

The True Meaning of Easter

Imagine a dusty winding road, worn down by chariots and horses.  Many people who have been in the village at the market suddenly stop to make their way over to a crowd now gathering on the road.

Watch now as the man they call Jesus struggles down the road, carrying a heavy object on His shoulders a He makes His way up a hill called Golgatha.  Tis Calvary, by way of the cross.

God’s Plan is for our Redemption!  God’s only son would be sacrificed and…

Even the Flowers Knew…

One day many years ago, clouds filled the sky.  Darkness hovered over all the earth, when Jesus was crucified.  Birds that sang such pretty songs, could not sing out a tune.  For even the beautiful flowers knew and so they did not bloom.

Witness the shedding of innocent blood, the torment from those who didn’t understand.  Hear His words of being abandoned “Eloi, Eloi, Lama, Sabachthani”? Which means, My God, My God why have you forsaken me?

Jesus slips into His death… for our life!

Rushing waters that filled the streams, suddenly were still.  Grass began to wither upon the greenest hills.  Life itself had become extinct and began to fade.  For the Joy and Peace of God was buried where Jesus laid…

Feel the grief of His family, friends and followers as they take Him down off the cross.  He is dead, so they bury Him in a cold, dark, and empty tomb.  The day is done.  His suffering now is over, as His loved ones dread living a tomorrow without Him in it.

But three days later…

Though it seemed Love was lost and all Hope was gone, the sun started breaking through, to bring a brand new dawn. 

Follow the two mourning women to the place where Jesus was buried.  Hear the voice of the Angel say “He is not here, for He has risen.”  Christ’s Victory is our Joy!

For Jesus Christ had risen and elation filled the air.  The trees rejoiced with gladness and peace was everywhere.  For the birds resumed their singing, life was fresh as spring.  The hills exclaimed the victory to every living thing.  The flowers sprang out in every color, filling every space.  For life had been touched by the Hands of God, by His Wonderful Grace.  And the miracle reached to every stream and every ocean’s shore, Jesus Christ is yesterday, today and forevermore!

Now we can share the good news with everyone, for one day we will see Jesus again.

His Return is our Hope!

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.  (I Thessalonians 4:16-18)

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
In His Divine Hope,
Jodie

Simply Tough

Just a couple of weeks back many celebrated Valentine’s Day as the stores and other businesses were in full swing with sweet red hearts and pink flowers everywhere.

Usually, it is a special time of year – especially if you are dating or enjoying those quiet moments alone with your spouse. Although there is much said about the romance side of love during this memorable day, it isn’t always expressed with a backdrop of glowing candles and soft music. 

Lately, God has been teaching me that True Love isn’t always dressed up pretty and soft.  Sometimes this kind of love must become tough, in order to be counted worthy enough for us to call it … “Love”.

At the beginning of this month we had everything ready. Our reservations were in place for us to enjoy a nice long vacation and stay at a familiar condo with an oceanfront view.  We were looking forward to a wonderful time away and going back to the place where God had first given me the inspiration for my latest book, “Legacy”. 

So you can imagine how our excitement grew since we would be revisiting one of our favorite places, Destin Florida, to see what God would do.  Here we would get to celebrate Valentine’s Day in an incredible way.  We would get to take a few walks, ride our bikes and visit new restaurants along the harbor.  The most exciting part was I would be returning to do a book signing which was scheduled on February 16th, my grandmother’s birthday.  Wow, such an amazing blessing to share  this “Legacy” event, as a tribute to her – made it all the more phenomenal… except we never made it there.  All of our vacation plans had to be cancelled because our oldest cat “Abbie” fell ill so we didn’t want to leave her or take a chance that she wouldn’t make it while we were away.

At first we thought Abbie was just going through a spell and after some antibiotics she would get better.  Although she was very underweight, she had always been, and bounced back and forth – so we believed she would be okay.   This is when I decided to make dinner reservations closer to home.  I figured that if anything she would be fine long enough for us to go out and have a nice dinner and then come home.

Yet, with each passing day that we cared for Abbie, we saw her independence slowly fade away.  The several days of tests, going back to the vet and receiving fluids were taking their toll on her stress level and weren’t really helping her quality of life. In every passing hour we became transfixed on how she was eating, breathing and walking.  It became obvious that she wasn’t going to make it even though we were doing everything we could to try and save her.  Then one sunny afternoon, two days before Valentine’s Day, she took a few breaths and died.  She was all tucked into her little bed which Phil had made for her – with us right by her side.

You know, when I think about it now, I don’t miss the cancelled vacation or even the book signing event.  I don’t miss the bike rides or the special Valentine’s Day planned on the harbor.  I miss her; I miss Abbie.  Phil and I both do.  We miss her presence and we miss not being able to talk to her in the mornings and having her respond back to us in her own kitty language.  We miss all these things.  However, I guess what we missed out on the most was not seeing the sharp turn that took our life down a different road and left us stranded.

Sadly, even the dinner plans out were not interesting to us since we were grieving and missing her so.  Yes, it ended up being a different kind of Valentine’s Day for us when we decided to just stay at home and eat a pasta dinner and watch a movie.  Our younger cat “Daisy”, along with our dog “Koda”, seemed just as sad but all four of us were so thankful to have each other. 

It was a rough weekend and unfortunately, I have to say I have learned much about love’s tougher side. We realized it wasn’t easy to care for her as her kidneys started to shut down and although we exhausted every medical measure, we had to prepare ourselves to say goodbye to a furry member of our family.  This was possibly the toughest part of all because she had been there for us, during some of our best and worst times for fourteen years.

You know, situations such as these when everything changes suddenly without warning  is when we must learn to display a love that gets tougher in order to acquire the best result – and something as powerful as this doesn’t come from us, it comes from God

Jesus too, experienced times of being caught inside a “tough love” many times in his life.  In fact the first assignment in his ministry was resisting temptation in the desert by Satan. For forty days and forty nights he was tired, hungry, thirsty and alone.  Other tough moments were when He was accused of blasphemy by those in in his home town and countless moments of being harassed by the religious leaders.  His tough love persevered, all the way up to when He was crucified on a cross for those who were undeserving of such a Holy sacrifice.

You see, True Love, for the most part equals… tough love.  It’s not the flowery or sappy kind of love which helps us crawl through the deep trenches of pain, heartache and fear.  It isn’t the drippy and syrupy kind of love that prepares us for the unknown. 

For us, a love that must be tough may be discovered in a variety of ways and it isn’t always romantic or dressed up with somewhere to go.  Often this kind of love “suits up” when the rough times of life take us to the cleaners.  I’m sure you would agree that very seldom does True Love look like roses, valentines and candy.  Often it isn’t sweet, doesn’t smell good and isn’t in a heart shaped box.  Tough love isn’t always wanted but it is always needed – especially when life hands us the not so rosy side of life.

Tough love is mandatory for staying centered in Christ and believing He hasn’t left us.  It is crucial when we must speak in love and confront sin and let go of the wayward soul.  It teaches discipline during times of learning, growing and walking with Christ.  For some a tough love is imperative because the physical ailments need a buffer against the many migraines and chronic conditions.  Only those who are wise will carry in their pocket a tough love as they visit someone in jail, go to a nursing home or care for the dying.  We must obtain a tough love in order to accept the Sovereignty of God when life doesn’t make sense.

Perhaps like me, you too are wondering what the Bible says about this “tough” love.  Well, maybe you will find the next few verses an encouragement to you. 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

The Truest Love found in God’s Son, Jesus – is what will teach us, protect us and take us through this tough life.  For it is a “tough love” which He wishes to lavish upon us as He leads us with His own nail-scarred hands to the softest place of the Father’s heart.

Stay Tough

Simply Change

One month into 2015 and already I can hardly bring myself to watch the TV or read the newspaper for fear of being shocked by what this country is starting to become.

When the word “change” first came on the scene back in 2008, it was in the form of people holding up signs and loudly chanting and celebrating.   These days I find myself spending my time soul-searching and wondering, is this the “change” our country needed?  My pathway of worship is far from being an activist, but sometimes I question whether or not we can still consider this to be “God’s Country”.  

Nearly every day, I am just stunned that a poem which I wrote nearly thirty years ago, entitled “Take Another Look America” has an image described worse now, than when it was written.  So it makes me wonder at times, is America slowly “changing” into a modern day Babylon?

I can still remember the days when my grandfather would watch the daily news on his brand new color TV (which was a big deal back then) and in fear he would shake his head and say, “This world is going to Hell, in hand basket” and then he would turn off the TV and go to bed.

My grandfather had a right to be concerned I guess.  He lived during World War I and II and had heard the rumors of people being killed and taken into captivity.  Yes, I could understand how someone like him could be slightly pessimistic.  After all, most of this “change” occurred when he was just a young man.

There is another person that is mentioned in God’s Word who lived in the center of “change”, but this young man remained positive because of his Faith in God.

The Bible tells us, Daniel too was just a young man when the King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came and sieged the city of Jerusalem. 

Talk about change?  This teenager saw plenty of it!  In fact, “Daniel” wasn’t even his original name.  No, his original name was Belteshazzar.  Along with his friends, they were given new names, told to wear different clothes, speak a different language and even eat new and different food. 

So, did he resist?  Did he gather up all the other captives and lead a revolution in protest? Nope.  Although he was living in the palace of the king and he could have made the most of his situation, he didn’t just decide to “go with it” either. Actually one thing Daniel did not want to do, was to eat the king’s food.  You see, Daniel was Jewish and the food of the king was most likely the same food that was offered to false gods – this would have been against the Jewish custom.

We soon learn that his choice was very wise, when God causes the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel and his friends.

This is just one part of the story of how God worked in Daniel’s life, during the midst of change.  I won’t go into the whole story but I hope you will read it for yourself. 

In any case, the Lord has been teaching me a few things about what a Christ-Follower is supposed to do when they are submerged into a life of or world of “change”. So I’ve decided to share them with you.

First, change in this life and the world is inevitable.  Even the most faithful men and women of God cannot escape it and so why should I be the exception.  However, if I keep my faith in a God who Loves me, I know like Daniel, God will get me through it.

Second, change doesn’t mean a free pass for God’s people to act up or act out.  One of the coolest things that stands out to me, about this story is Daniel showed respect to others. This kind of intelligence and integrity went a long way and we later learn that it carries his testimony of the One True God.  Wow, I can only pray my testimony could come close to one like the one Daniel displayed.

Third, change in my life, this world, and even this country doesn’t get the last word.  It is true that Daniel saw and experienced a lot in the way of change, but God is the Hero in this story!  So I have to understand that despite the changes that come at me directly or may happen in the future – God is still Sovereign and He is much BIGGER than any… change!

Okay, I will tell you that I could stop right here.  I could wrap up this blog with a neat little ending and save you some reading.  However, I would be cheating you out of the one exciting thing that I have been learning about change – just in the last few weeks.  So, with your permission I will share with you a fourth thought and I have saved the best for last!

Fourthly, change isn’t always bad.  In fact, some changes are good – especially those which come from following God’s Son, Jesus.  I learned this not in the Book of Daniel, but in the Book of Acts, as I’ve been studying more about another man of Faith – Peter, who experienced a lot of change too. This change was mostly because he met Jesus and yet another surprise awaited him in the form of a Promise, when sometime before Jesus’ Ascension, Peter and the other disciples were told to stay where they were and wait for the Comforter to come.  I love how the Bible describes it.  Peter and all the men are in a room waiting and then it happens. The Power of the Holy Spirit arrives!   

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
~ Acts 2:1-6

Can you just imagine what that moment must have been like?  I’m sure it was amazing and unexplainable yes, but I noticed something else.  A group of men who had encountered change that was happening because God keeps His Promises.  This means that I too, must wait on God to bring to pass good things, no, Great things in my life!

The world and even this country may be changing for the worse but the way I see it, I have a choice.  I can let “change” consume me in fear and turn off the TV and go to bed.  I guess some would not blame me if I did. 

I could also allow my selfish passions and pride to rule and resist change – making every effort possible to make my position known.  Hey, there is absolutely nothing wrong with standing up or defending our freedoms.  In fact I’m not suggesting we back down from a fight, as long as we know who the “real” enemy is – Satan.  You know, I just think sometimes that we can fight so fiercely for causes we care about that we forget to let God fight the battle through us.  Unfortunately, we can end up damaging our testimony in the process.  It’s been my experience that by being very careful and prayerful before posting things, saying things, or acting – it displays wisdom and self-control.

So, I think it best for me to choose what’s behind door number three…  which means I’m going to try and attempt to be more like Daniel and Peter, and allow the Holy Spirit of the Living God, through Jesus, to change my life for the better each and every day.   Are YOU willing to join me?

One thing is for certain, as people see this change in you and me – hopefully they won’t see us at all, they will see JESUS!  I guarantee this kind of “CHANGE” will make all the difference in our world. 

~ Holy Spirit, fuel our hearts, our lives and blaze Your Truth in America again! ~

Simply Enough

It’s that time of year again when we have the opportunity to evaluate every aspect of our lives.  Somewhere between the last carol we heard on the radio, to the time we watch a crowd of cold people wait for the shimmering ball to drop, we feel compelled to take inventory of our lives.

Although the New Year can offer us a new start through new resolutions and goals for living, I can’t help but wonder if we have become trapped into a covetous cycle of rating each year better or worse than the year before.  Lately, the Lord has been teaching me a lot about reflecting on what it means to be satisfied with all that I have been given.

Have you ever stopped to think about how Thanksgiving, Christmas, and celebrating the New Year connect perfectly with one another?  Thanksgiving gives us pause to be Grateful, while Christmas gives us pause to be Peaceful.  These should lead us into being Hopeful for the New Year.  It’s been my experience that the True Meanings of these holidays are meant to help us become “mindful” all year long.

One way we are to be mindful is by remembering the truth that God is Good, and continually is blessing us with all that we have been given. 

Secondly, we are to be mindful that His Goodness doesn’t wane or diminish in this life, regardless of how dark this world may seem.

Finally, we are to be mindful that God’s Goodness and Greatness does not reflect on the circumstances in our life, or whether or not the last year was a good year or a bad one.   Our understanding of His Goodness rests solely upon Him being enough in our lives.  This has to happen BEFORE we resolve to make any new goals or plans concerning the future.

You see, if we aren’t careful we can find ourselves digging up old bones from past failures, past regrets and even past, former “FORGIVEN” sins.  While it is a good thing to try and improve upon things in our life, we must not be selfishly motivated into to doing better in such a way that we try to undo or out do the year before.

Listen, here are three things which I believe will keep us on track so that we are walking with Jesus all 365 days of the next year.

1) Let’s put prayer in front of any plans, goals or dreams that we may have.  Remember if God’s Hand is guiding us, then we will only achieve what Glorifies Him.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight ~ Philippians 1:9

2) Let’s read and apply God’s Word and let it map out the direction we need each day. Remember there are several bible plans out there (and an app called “Reading Plan”)  – just pick one and get started! Don’t worry if you fall behind or miss a few days.  Go at your own pace and keep your last passage bookmarked for your return!
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. ~ Proverbs 30:5

3) Let’s be content with every aspect of our life and seek God’s Kingdom for Eternal Rewards.  Whatever our outlook is for achieving the goals for the next year, we shouldn’t let anything hold us back from God giving us the VICTORY in our situation!  ~Our best intentions to move forward are only intentions until we are ready to step out in Faith with the Savior.~
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  ~Philippians 4:11

Should old acquaintance, plans and goals be forgot and never brought to mind . . .
Let this New Year, spent with a Good God, simply be . . . ENOUGH.

Simply Superstition

Tales of urban legends, spooky stories about black cats, haunted houses and broken mirrors are usually great for a dark, creepy backdrop of Halloween fun.  However, could sayings and other superstitions that bring grim reaper tidings be saying a lot more? Might there be something hidden that even God’s own child should take note of and consider the serious ramifications? 

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we trade our peace of mind and trust less in a Holy God, when we trick ourselves by believing superstitions which are laced with Satan’s evil treats.

Everyone loves a good scare.  Halloween and things that go bump in the night can be fun and thrilling as children trick or treat, adults throw parties, and a few pay a costly fee to get into haunted houses.  I myself, love thriller movies and an occasional scary movie every now and then.  However, over the past year or so, I have seen how some of these harmless antics can become harmful accessories which invade my life through my mind.

I’m sure you remember somewhere in your childhood when you weren’t much taller than a pumpkin, other children saying silly superstitious phrases like “Don’t step on a crack or you break your mother’s back”.   Then maybe when you were older those superstitions looked more like innocent games such as “Truth or Dare”, “Magic eight ball” or “Ouija boards”.   Even our adult life can be plagued by sinister reminders through obligatory chain emails, chain Facebook posts, and other vicious correspondence that approaches us with clever dialogue.

Obviously there are many superstitions that stick with us through our life and perhaps you have thought of a few more, but superstitions such as these are far from harmless and always come dressed in a costume – tailor-made, waiting for a susceptible person who is willing to wear it for the night.

Superstitions aren’t always dressed up as dark and looming – this would be too obvious and silly. No, some superstitions have masks which often display a sensible, logical or practical profile to be worn during all occasions.   Other superstitions drape themselves in fashions flaunting self-reliance, pride and idolatry.  A few superstitions hang in closets, sparkling with sinful sequins of temptations and strongholds, ready to entice the weak, timid and those of low self-worth with a seasoned style of slavery.

These may all seem like empty superstitions to some, but the power behind them is very real and can lord over a heart and mind until it reaches defeat.  Simply put, for the Believer in Christ, a superstition is a belief that is not grounded in the Truth of God’s Word.  Check out Colossians 2:8-10.

Here are some ways we can be fooled into falling for these not so friendly “ghostly” superstitions in our lives.

Through our Vision ~ When we remove our eyes off of Christ and focus on things that are unholy, unwholesome and un-necessary, our vision becomes skewed and we walk blindly while groping in Satan’s darkness. 

There is a constant cute display of trinkets which the world dangles in front of us to lead us into believing the superstition that we need more in order to be satisfied.  However Hebrews 12:2 tells us that when we fix our eyes upon Jesus, He is the Author and Perfecter of our Faith.  He makes everything complete because when He died on the cross it was finished.  Meaning, we have all we will ever need in Him, in this life or the next. 

Through other Voices ~ When we lend our ears to the sound of the ungodly who give their advice, plans and theories, our hearing can become impaired and deaf to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and we begin to hear what tickles our ears rather than what can pierce our heart.

There is a lot of background noise in our lives which leads us into believing the superstition that someone else has the answers and knows more than God.  However in the book of John Chapter 10 tells us that HE alone is Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient and the only voice we sheep need to listen for is the one from Our Shepherd.

Through our Vacancy ~ When we leave our minds unattended to paralyzing fears, worries and obsessive thinking, our brains become overloaded and bombarded by Satan’s lies.  

There are many fright nights of fear, sleepless evenings of concern and nightmares of rapid heartbeat which entangle us into a web of despair that can lead us into believing the superstition that monsters are under our bed.  However 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we are to demolish any thinking of what challenges or shows hypocrisy to the knowledge of God.  Then we are to ask God to take captive every thought into His Son’s care for our obedience.

Finally, I would not do this blog justice without mentioning “the world’s” superstition that God, Heaven, Satan and Hell are not for real.  The world is wrong and to believe in God, Heaven, Satan or Hell is not to be superstitious; these topics beg serious consideration from everyone on this planet.

God’s Word tells us that He Himself has existed since the Beginning of Time and He is Timeless.  He created the earth, the skies and all that lives in them.  He created Heaven for you and I and for all those who choose Jesus to be their Savior. God also created Hell for Satan and his demons.

Listen closely, if you are NOT a believer and you think that this is all just smoke and mirrors – sadly you are in grave danger because the superstition you believe isn’t found in whether there is validity in God’s Truth but it is found in you believing it is all superstition and you don’t need a Savior.  Meaning, if you don’t choose Jesus, you will go to Hell and live eternally with Satan where you will discover that this wasn’t a silly superstition after all.   I would challenge you to check out the following link.

http://www.aprilsky.net/AprilSky2014/simply/aprilsky_simply_his_word_savior.htm

Secondly, if you ARE a believer, I hope that last paragraph brought a tear to your eye and that you will consider sharing your faith, your testimony or your story with someone who is lost.  Otherwise, you will miss out on the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life for His Kingdom!  Oh my friend, if we live our lives in such a way that they never see, hear or know God’s Truth through us… then I think it is safe to say we become part of their superstition.  I would challenge you to read I John 1:5-10.

Some superstitions are not always as simple as “writing on the wall” and that’s why we all need God’s Word of Truth… because without it, this world would be a very scary place.

Simply Stories

After spending the past five months writing a new book, “Legacy: A Voyage Towards Heaven’s Shore” was published on September 11, 2014.

At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about having a book of mine share such a tragic and sacred day of remembrance but considering all that I have been through in writing this book and what it is about, I realized it was a fitting gesture of God’s Timing once again and recently I’ve been learning there is much to discover, when Jesus is the Author of one’s life.

Everyone loves a good story.

It matters not, whether that story comes from the source of a book, a post or even a blog.  We all have a story to tell about something that is happening, has happened or has yet to happen. 

From the time we are very young up through the days we become old, these stories often tell others more about who we are. Some stories challenge us and are written to inspire many to take dreams and achieve great things.  Other stories make us cry or fuel our contempt for the unfair injustices in the world.  However, stories help us to realize that we each play a role in life and that each of us has our own story to share or tell others.

Being a published author now for many years, I have come to respect the highs and lows of writing – especially those of a Christian writer.  Although a writer can have many rewarding and joyous moments, there is also a responsibility that is expected which goes much higher.

The power behind the pen can ultimately hurt or heal those in path of its ink and considering the number of choices that are out there (from some of who have caused spilled ink) like in mainstream media and social media, as storytellers we should all try to give our audience a good ending. 

Personally and professionally, I have found nothing as disheartening than when I have heard a wonderful story about how someone who has overcome the hardships in life, yet they fail to mention or give any credit to God for their blessing.

My friend, regardless of whatever we encounter in this life, be it joy, pain, failure or success – if we leave God out of our story it will end in tragedy and there is nothing worse than an unhappily ever after.

The Story of God as told through His Word, as well as the stories of the many faithful men and women who lived them out can give us something more than “stories” to read but rather Hope to LIVE OUT in our REAL lives!   The Bible is so much more than just words on a few dusty pages in your desk or on your bookshelf; it is a Treasury from God’s Heart to change our life!

So what is your story?  Are you brave enough to write it, tell it and share it with others?  Will you dare let God write it for you?

I hope that you will! If you do, it could become a beautiful poem, novel, song or note for someone else to hear!

In the meantime, I hope you will also check out a new area on the April Sky Ministries web site, Simply Stories”, and find out what God has been up to in the lives of others!

Don’t forget God’s Son Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our Faith.  He is also constantly writing new stories every day through the lives of His people.  Question is . . . what kind of story will it be and will you show it and tell it to others by acknowledging Him in every sense of your words? 

Do you want to recommend a good book to someone?  How about the unwritten pages of your life?  Who knows, He might be writing upon the tablet of your heart this very minute; and it might even become a best seller!  No, not for money but rather for souls for God’s Kingdom! 

Remember, a story which includes Jesus, is the only “Happily Ever After” that none of us deserve but God’s Grace wants everyone to have!

~ Though pencil, pen or quill – God is the Author still ~  

The Other Side

Well, last year was so different.  It was before everything. 

It was before the Boston bombing, before the explosion in West, Texas and before the tornadoes hit in Moore, Oklahoma and this was just the events that made the news.  Personally speaking, my life was different because it was before my dog died, before health issues and before my grandmother passed away.  Perhaps, you remember reading about all of that a few months back. 

So now what?  Where do we go from here?  What is left and what does it have to do with a message about Easter… Keep reading, because you may be surprised.  Lately, God has been teaching me a lot about the other side and what to do until we reach it.

This week as everyone is preparing for Easter weekend, it will also mark the one year anniversary of the tragedies that befell Massachusetts, Texas and Oklahoma.  Many have been re-planning a better and more secure marathon, as well as planning other memorials in West.  In Moore, Oklahoma they have been rebuilding for an entire year, from what spring tornadoes destroyed last year.  

I too, have been busy moving forward, as I work on my fourth book project, trying to hire people for the ministry, and celebrating my 50th Birthday with family and friends, in two separate parties! I feel so blessed and thankful for being on the other side of last year and yet I have learned so much and I feel my faith has grown tremendously.

Perhaps this is where we get the statement “Life goes on”…  from those who have reached the other side.  These have come through the tragedy, the trials and troubling hours.  They have been encouraged, comforted and strengthened by others to help them get to the other side.

You know what? Jesus knew something about this.  He too, lived through life’s pain and torture to come out on the other side.  I think it’s important to realize what the scope and magnitude of Him coming out on the other side really meant for those in His day and what it means for us now.

Jesus had defeated death once and for all, by rising to live again as He set the captives free.  The captives that were set free were those who had served and loved God in Faith but died before they could meet Jesus.  They were also those who died and presently believed, such as the thief on the cross which hung there whom Jesus told that he would be in paradise that day.

Oh but my friend, the captives also include you and I today, and anyone who believes in the Risen Christ!  This is Good News for those who have yet to be on the other side of sickness, pain, tragedy and death.  It is our Hope to one day be on the other side, with Jesus. 

We like Him, will have a new resurrected body that will not perish!  We will have an eternity to Praise Him and Worship Him alone!  We will also have all the time in the world, to catch up with dearest friends and reunite with loving family! 

Somehow, I bet the disciples had an amazing time reuniting with Jesus after He had risen and He was able to spend many days with them.  However, the time came for Him to have to leave and ascend to Heaven.

I, probably like you, have read this passage many times in the book of Acts, when the angel says to them, “Men of Galilee,” why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

I always feel a little sad for the disciples, each time I read that passage. It would seem that their “Resurrection” reunion, didn’t last long enough and they weren’t able to give Jesus a hug anymore or share fish with Him in the way they were used to interacting with Jesus. 

It is true, that it was going to be a lot different, but I think the disciples and even most of us tend to view “the other side” as the Resurrection, when in reality “the other side” is really found wherever Jesus is!

So back to the question that I posed earlier, what do we do until then? What do we do in order to find our footing again after tragedies, either before or after our faith has grown, enough for us to move forward?  I’m so glad you asked!

We keep walking and following Jesus!  It is no secret, that He has asked us to follow Him and we need to stay on the path which He has walked in front of us.

I realize this may sound easy but it can still be challenging on this side of the journey.  Which is why we have to take it one step further (smile). . .  and make sure that we aren’t just only following Him, but rather we are literally placing our feet with Faith, inside His footprints that He has left behind. 

The other side, is still out there, waiting for the Believer once this life is done.  However, we must also deal with the side in which we are currently living in.  The world is a scary place and sometimes our faith can seem obsolete.  Still, “Jesus said, I will be with you always!” 

Therefore it is with Joy, Anticipation and Hope that we look past the cross, we celebrate the empty tomb and look within our heart!  For you see, the Power of the Resurrection lives within us today! So until the time that we are on the other side, with Jesus in eternity, we need to look up for our Redemption is very near!  This is how we get through the hard times, the tragedies we face and even those 50th birthdays we felt snuck up on us before we were ready.

On a side note, one more thing happened this week, which doesn’t usually occur. It was the “blood moon” – a type of eclipse that astronomers have studied.  Furthermore, some Christian astronomers have also studied it and because this type of eclipse falls on Jewish holidays, many believe it is one more sign that Jesus is coming soon! Unfortunately, I missed seeing it – but I did remember to pray a prayer of Praise for His Return and a prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem. Maybe you could do the same.

So, let me ask you one last question. What would you like to do first, when you get to the other side where Jesus is?  My friend, I know what I’m going to do, I’m going to give Jesus a big HUG and ask if He and I can eat a piece of fish together!

Simply Connect

Have you ever thought about how changes in the weather can teach something special about God’s Creation?  Most weather patterns for the most part are true to form.  Those who live in the north, west or east will see mild warm seasons and cold winters.  Those who live in the South will see a mild winter or no winter at all… and usually an extra warm summer.   However in seasons like what we have had recently, the weather patterns are anything but normal.  All across the country the weather has shown record breaking temperatures, as traffic is stalled and even entire states are taken unaware by winter storms. 

I would imagine it is a scary thing to get snowed in or iced in to the point that you can’t get home.  You can’t check on your family or you fear your own safety.  Lately the weather patterns have been so radical that people are amazed at the severity of its arrival.  I think it is safe to say that most would not have expected a winter to be as frigid. However, there is one interesting thing to note about it all, it would seem that regardless of the difficulty the weather causes, for these the connection with others has been stronger than ever. 

Think about it…  Whenever things get really tough and our daily commute is challenged people seem to pull together and do what they need to do to get through the storm.  This is true with unpredictable forecasts and with life in general.   Recently, God has been teaching me about the purpose of staying connected and the best ways to keep my balance in Him.

You know our lives are similar to the changing weather patterns?  One day is good, the next day is bad but sometimes we have situations in our lives which stall us, take us unaware and break us.  Some days just like the seasons, “normal” days of life aren’t very normal at all.  It is for this reason that staying connected is very important.  If you don’t believe me, ask yourself this question – The last time you left or lost your phone – how did you feel?  Uh huh, I thought so.  Connections are very important.  It doesn’t matter if it is through technology or by way of greeting card.  We need to know that we are not alone.  

God has blessed us with His Presence when we feel alone and disconnected from others, but He has also blessed us with others so that we can connect Him to even more people!  The bible says we are to love Him with all our soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as our self. 

Have you ever had a situation, major or minor where you needed someone to help you get through it?  Maybe you needed a little help from someone to point you in God’s direction?  Perhaps you needed an affirmation of encouragement to know if you were indeed following Him.  It could have been a very uncertain time in your life where you just needed someone to walk through it with you. So, what do you do during times like these?

Shortly into the New Year, I received some concerning news and for those who know me, watched me go through a very rough and unchartered time in my life.  The first thing I did was alert prayer warriors to pray for me.  Then, I prayed myself and searched the scriptures for God’s gentle words of Peace, Comfort and Strength.  I even read my own book (smile).  These did encourage me greatly and I am blessed to have such a network of family and friends to depend on.  However, I realized something.  I felt awkward at times for not wanting to bother my family and friends. Especially when I had already shared my heart and told them what was happening.  When the fears would taunt me again and again, I felt like I would wear out my welcome (so to speak) by continually burdening them with my same problem.  This got me thinking, and it made me wonder if there may be anyone else out there that felt like the same way.

Ironically and during the same time, I was in the middle of interviewing and hiring encouragers – when my crisis occurred. Oh how I longed for this new ministry area to already be set up – where I too could go to someone specific for constant, consistent and affirming encouragement through Christ – without feeling like I was troubling anyone.

Well, my crisis did pass and I praise God for healing me as well as providing all the ways He got me through it.  It was an eye opener to me regarding those who may NOT have a small group, prayer warriors, believing friends and family or even a church… to connect them to a Loving, Caring God –when that connection seems weak or gone altogether.

Since 2009 April Sky Ministries has been in existence mainly with indirect encouragement, such as emails, newsletters, twitter, Facebook and blog entries.  This past fall we were able to give a trial run on trying something new through our “clinics” which encouraged others directly.  It was a success!  So much so we are now launching our newest area of ministry “Simply Connect”. 

This new area “Simply Connect” has been designed with the purpose of direct encouragement and our encouragers at April Sky are waiting to connect you to constant, consistent and affirming encouragement through Christ’s Love.

Now, I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking, I have my church and my family and friends and I don’t need an encourager.  Okay, that is fair but I thought that too.  However, I learned that even the most seasoned follower of Christ, who is already connected – can’t have too many connections to God.  The reason is because Satan weakens most of them very slyly and subtly.  One way this is true is by shaking up our faith, to the point fear takes over our soul.  It may surprise you how those lifelines feel used up… before we are on the other side of the crisis.

In the next coming days, weeks and months our ministry will be reaching out to you through this area of ministry.  We will be asking you to get connected by providing us your contact information.  Facebook, Twitter and this Blog are nice, but it can’t personally encourage you like a card, a call or text, a visit or a social gathering!  Please let us celebrate with you, comfort you or challenge you to pursue your dreams for God!

Finally, let me say It is my sincere hope that if you need encouragement you will allow us to encourage you personally and if you don’t need encouragement (at least now) that you will allow us the opportunity to get the necessary information from you so that we can encourage you – in the future. 

Hey, I hope you won’t wait for a crisis in your life to happen before you get connected!  “Simply Connect” wants to show you the kind of encouragement where everyone sees God work and the finale shows off His Glory!  Our prayer is to help you stay connected and for you to enjoy more of a Christ centered balanced life.  Click here to connect now!

Faith for Winter

Let me begin by saying it has been a few months since you have heard from me through this blog.  I apologize for the absence in this area of encouragement. Although there have been many wonderful blessings and the Lord has worked in amazing ways… it has still been a difficult year.

This past weekend most of us experienced the arctic blast that covered over half of the region.  Stunning beauty of God’s Creation could be seen everywhere.  Beautiful icicles glistened as they suspended and hung from buildings.  Sheets of sleet with wintry mix covered many streets and highways, making it near impossible to drive or carry out regular routines.  December’s weather surprise was barely melting for several days and it was as if the season itself had been frozen in time… almost like this entire year.

Soon many will remember another day that marks a painful one year anniversary from last December, when a cold shard of icy reality affected us all greatly.  This day like so many other moments in the past year, have made it easy to only focus on the difficulty, and freezing devastation.  There is no need to re-hash these difficult moments nor is there any reason for me to bring up each woe and worry that I myself have experienced personally.  All of it has now fallen, become hard and is frozen in winter’s own time machine.

Yet… God is still in control!!!

If we ask Him, He will give us faith, His Faith… a Faith for the winter.  There is a poem that was entitled “Faith for Winter” in my first book.  When I first wrote this poem it was to encourage others who had encountered a tough season of winter in their life. After this past year I think there is some small part in all of us that can relate to the title. Regardless of whether or not we have experienced a winter’s weather or a winter’s year – we need this kind of faith to return a glow to our winter’s heart.

The season that is upon us now is a season of Joy, Celebration and Christmas. We have an opportunity to share this message to those who shiver in the cold, specifically the spiritually cold and frozen world.

God has come!  “Immanuel” means God with us! Christ has come to shelter us, keep us warm and enter our hearts with His Salvation! Suddenly, something begins to happen… and we begin to thaw!

We watch as our despair melts into His Peace, and God’s Love begins to drip into our lives one drop at a time.  Then these slushy drops which slowly drip into our lives will start to slosh around, as this begins the process which liquidates any un-forgiveness, worry, anger and hopelessness – until finally everything spills over into one huge puddle of His Grace.

Yes, it has been a difficult year, and only God knows what next year will bring… but He has given us JESUS the reason for the season and a Faith that can turn any winter into His Hope for SPRING!!!

Be careful for falling pieces of ice melting into His Mercy!

Merry Christmas & Have a Blessed New Year!