“Making the List”

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Each day we walk around at work, shopping, doing chores, at home, or wherever your comings and goings take us we are bound at some point to pass by someone. Sometimes we look them in the eye and sometimes they look us in the eye or maybe neither.  Sometimes we give a salutation, sometimes not, but either way our paths pass by the other.

Why is this such a big deal? A better question to ask is; did you at least offer up a smile for the other person as you passed them?  For some people, depending on their life circumstances, forming a smile to share with someone is not an easy task.  In most cases I think most would agree that “we are just too busy to stop and talk”, but I would offer that as a Christian this is an open door to loving someone who needs it.

The one thing we probably all have in common as we pass each other daily is a “List”. That list is full of tasks, items and worries.  Spinning in our heads are the things we deem as important and worthy of our full and undivided attention.  Quick question; when was the last time we took the time to focus on those we love with that same kind of attention?

Speaking for myself I tend to forget things because of having too many things on my mind at once, so I try to write things down. There is one list though that I do not forget to fill out; my prayer list.  On that list go the names of people who are struggling, sick, hurting, or those who God has simply put on my mind to pray for.  In some cases, I don’t know why I am supposed to pray for someone, but I pray for them anyway; God will take what He needs from that if He is willing – I don’t question it.

My list or your list should not be a secret; let people know you are adding them to your prayer list. I have found that people react positively to this.  Most times I just put a first name or some initials and the topic to pray for so that they don’t think I am getting too personal.

As it concerns following up with them; I leave that to God. He will put it on my heart to ask how they are doing later.  In many cases I have had the person come to me to give me an update.  I chalk this up to God letting me in a little part of His plan; awesome!

As for me; if you find yourself talking to me and share your hardships or struggles with me – you just found a place on my Prayer List. Rest assured that I will be obedient to follow through with that prayer and more if required.  This list takes priority over all other lists in my pocket or in my head and I hope that by taking these simple steps we can learn to grow in our relationships with other people; showing that we genuinely care can help carry a burden for someone and in some cases, eliminate it.

What or who has the highest priority on your list today?

 

 

P.S. Don’t forget to put those closest to you on your list also!

“What Was the Final Score?”

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In the world of marriage there is this thing known as the “What I did vs What you did” scoreboard. To begin my monolog, I will say that this can be one of the most destructive anomalies found in a marriage.

There is nothing more destructive to a relationship than attempting to compare yourself to another person and then try to change that person into yourself; it doesn’t work. As a matter of fact, it is a very destructive cycle found in marriages.  I don’t have any scientific evidence to back this up, but if I were a betting man, I will bet that you can recognize this in your own relationship or know of one like this.

I am not going to go down the path of psychology, but rather the path of practical and common sense. Regardless of our upbringing we have become familiar with the term “Teamwork” and the Bible is probably one of the first written documents to comment on the relationship of a married couple as a team; “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  Genesis 1:28.

Being fruitful, multiplying and having dominion over the earth and everything it is going to take some serious teamwork on every married couple from that point up to today.  In the book of Mark 10:8 it says; “and the two shall become one flesh.”  I realize that some might take this to mean in a reproductive sense, but I think it is much more than that.  The wife and husband in essence wear the same color jersey and have different numbers, but they are on the same team.

As with any team there will be differences, but in actuality this is what makes the team strong.  Their individual strengths intertwine like the teeth on gears to make the team successful and when faced with adversity it is very difficult to separate them; or at least it should be.

When one of those gears attempts to go in the opposite direction and tries to make the other perform just like it, the teeth on the gears tend to wear down and create friction, which in turn produces negative results.  If the gears are working together, they stay together whether they are running fast or slow; one might have to help the other a little, but they are still together.

So as it pertains to keeping scores; DON’T.  Concentrate on what you have to do and not what the other does or does not do.  There might be underlying reasons that things are not going the way they should and this is where the two work together to find the root cause of the problem, eliminate it and move on.

In today’s world we are bombarded by multiple and complex external forces that in some cases can quite easily derail a marriage.  In my simple mind it seems to me that a healthy marriage requires maintenance and if the two take the time to show the other that their promise to the other means the world to them, the gears will simply keep turning and produce the wonderful things God had planned for both of them all along.

“Just Let The Tears Fall”

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I witnessed the hand of God today,

Giving warmth in a time of need,

Formed by someone who chose to pray,

A blessing requested has been freed.

 

Unfortunately, it takes the work of another,

Teaching a heart not to be made of stone,

Earnestly caring for my sister and brother,

Learning to live by the standard God has shown.

 

The children cry holding our hand,

War and devastation bring dark sadness,

Desolate and barren is their land,

Their dreams whither with empty promises.

 

Idly I watch as draped caskets pass by,

Callous to their death and not their lives,

Blackened with sadness and regret they cry,

No longer able to kiss their children or wives.

 

Taking the easy road was never an option,

Using God’s yoke to carry the heavy loads,

His Grace given through the Adoption,

Good News to those on wide and rough roads.

 

Give of yourself to the sick and lame,

Take no shame from the love you are given,

God gave all so that you could do the same,

Yours and every soul belongs in Heaven.

 

Just let the tears fall my friend,

Just let them fall where they may,

Just let the tears fall to amend,

Just let them fall for your soul today.

 

“Valentine’s Day Prayer”

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Thank you Lord for her I pray,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, its Valentine’s Day.

 

Her heart is made of the finest gold,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, its Valentine’s Day.

 

Please bless her life in any way,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, its Valentine’s Day.

 

Never a heart has she left cold,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, its Valentine’s Day.

 

My love for her I wish to display,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, Its Valentine’s Day.

 

Guide me to be for her a better man,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, Its Valentine’s Day.

 

Showing her my love; the plan for today,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, its Valentine’s Day.

 

Joining us together was always your plan,

She is a gift like no other,

Thank you Lord for another Valentine’s Day.

What Does God Say?

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Lately, I have been hearing the term “Relative” in conversations online, in person or on television. In some of those conversations it seems that the idea of “Relativity” makes sense to those justifying or claiming their position based on an issue of morality.

As I am a simple man and not a philosopher, I do know that from a biblical perspective, there is no morality without God. I understand that some will argue that as a society we can determine good and bad, but I would simply reply with; the German society thought Hitler was good for their country and that exterminating Jews was what “Good” Germans should do. Were they right or wrong in their so called moral choice?

We might find some who will say that the Germans were right in their choice, but unless this person knows or believes in God, how can I possibly deduce that they know the difference between “Good or Bad”?

A society that begins to use “Relativity” in regards to their moral standing will always find themselves on a slippery slope to depravity and absurdity. God was and will always be the determining factor in “Right or Wrong”, “Good or Bad”. Where else can the idea of morality come from? From Conservatives, Liberals or politicians? Maybe each new generation will create their own version of morality based on relative experience? Unfortunately, every person has their own experiences so who gets to decide what is right or wrong?

On the subject of Relativity I am left with only one assumption; if anything is called “Relative”, I must start with how it measures up to the standards of God, not man. That being said, it will not be easy dealing with those who disagree with a biblical world view and nor will they find it easy to disagree with me.

As Christians we should not be in the business of pointing fingers; we should be in the business of loving our neighbor and love begins with the Truth.  Jesus Christ made it crystal clear how we are to treat each other and where the measurements of morality begin; with God.

So how can we do better at this?

What does God say?

“Where is Your Bucket?”

In my response to those of any political party or any affiliation to a group or groups who desperately oppose one another after our much disputed Presidential Election, I would offer the words of Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Compromise Speech given in 1895 on September 18th.

His words were directed primarily at newly freed African American Slaves and the South which in some part included the white population, but in my opinion he was speaking to the America as a whole. The country had just gone through a devastating Civil War and healing was needed in every corner of the nation, regardless of the color of one’s skin.

Our faith in God will and should always be the most important aspect of who we are as a people, but more importantly we should also try to understand that we may not always be able to control the people or circumstances around us. However, what we can control are those things we are responsible for as citizens of a community.  The healing takes place in the smallest of them and begins with the hard work that is ours to do, a helping hand and a smile.

Mr. Washington was telling us then to put our differences aside and simply work together for the greater good, thereby, improving our own station in life. He never promised easy, nor has God for that matter when it comes to what He has called us to do for His Kingdom.  So I will leave you with the story and some words from Booker T. Washington that I hope will bring things into some sort of perspective for you if you are struggling to move on, forgive, befriend or simply get back to some sort of normal in your life.

A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal, “Water, water; we die of thirst!” The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” A second time the signal, “Water, water; send us water!” ran up from the distressed vessel, and was answered, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” And a third and fourth signal for water was answered, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River. To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next-door neighbor, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are”— cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.

Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions. And in this connection it is well to bear in mind that whatever other sins the South may be called to bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it is in the South that the Negro is given a man’s chance in the commercial world, and in nothing is this Exposition more eloquent than in emphasizing this chance. Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour, and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.” (Harlen, 1974)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference:

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/39/

Louis R. Harlan, ed., The Booker T. Washington Papers, Vol. 3, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1974), 583–587.

“Hallowed Be Thy Name”

How serious are we about this line in the Lord’s Prayer?

Using the name “God” or “Jesus Christ” in any manner that does not address either or give glory – it is considered blasphemy. This also includes your shorthand texting acronyms or using it as speech.

Do you agree or disagree?

Before you answer I want you to consider how you answer this question when asked; “Do you consider yourself a Christian or an Atheist?”

Before you answer with Atheist, I would ask this: “Why do you use the name of someone you don’t believe in?” If you say it doesn’t matter and I can say what I want, I would offer this.  If you are using the name of “God” or “Jesus Christ”, it tells me that your lips say you don’t believe, but in your heart you know He exists.  As a Christian I see you using the name of “God” in vain is your way of rebellion against the God you know exists.

Let’s be clear here; I do not see someone using the name of God in vain as a way to give glory, but what I do see is an opportunity for a Christian to bring God’s glory to that table. So the next time you hear someone using the name of “God” or “Jesus Christ” in vain; ask them why they prefer to use those names to curse.

At the end of this short bite on blasphemy I would ask you – the Christian, this; have we forgotten the line – “Thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? Don’t forget, He is coming back to bring judgement and a sword.  We are the stewards of His Kingdom here on earth so it seems to me that many of us who claim the title “Christian” need to punch in

“At the Front Door”

How many times have you been at the “Front Door”?  The “Front Door” being that of a loved one, a friend, a stranger, school, work, etc.  Now ask yourself this; “How excited was I to be at that Front Door?”

Throughout my own life the “Front Door” has taken me to many places; each one a new story waited regardless if I had been through that door many times before. Within some of my memories I can still see my hand grabbing the door handle to open the door and enter the structure it happened to be attached to.

As I think through all the “Front Doors” I have been through, none excite more than going through the front door of Heaven, but until I get to that door, there are two that I look forward to opening; my own home and the home of my mother.

So now that you know which “Front Doors” I cherish you might think that I will ask you which “Front Doors” are important to you, but that would be too easy.  My question to you is; “Why are these front doors important to you?”  As you think about why, also think about how many times you have been through the “Front Doors” you love the most.

Regardless of your answers know that God is the one responsible for those “Front Doors” you cherish the most.  However, he is also responsible for those that challenge you and make you a better person.

 

I hope you never open the “Front Door” the same way again!

The Koi Fish Christian

 

 

“Today is Mine”

Today I read a story,

Today I shed a tear,

Today I am happy,

Today I am blessed,

Today is here.

The story I read this morning brought back memories of my own past, along with the thoughts I grew up every day.  Who am I?  Where do I come from?  What was my mother like?  Did she love me?  Why did she choose life for me?

These and many other questions used to rattle around my brain growing up, but there was always something steadfast in my life and that was my knowledge of God.  From a very young age I always had a sense of God, but never knew the true meaning until I went to Sunday School as a child.  It was like; “yeah, I know who God is.”  It was never a question, it was more a matter of fact for me.

However; for some children the same cannot be said.  Some of these children who were given up for adoption did not know God or know the love He offered because of adoptive parents who either did not care or were abusive.  For them my heart to this day still aches.

It is for these children, even today that causes me to share my own story of being separated from my mother at birth and our eventual reunion 46 years later on my birthday.  In this and many other adoption stories there is a story of hope and strength.

The story I read today reminded me of how God can take care of children even when the parent is not able to.  For those like the one in the story, they were cared for by loving parents who did they best they could with what they had.  Regardless of the things like food, clothing and a roof to live under, the one thing that a child must have is love.  Without it, all other things do not matter.

For those of us saved through our mothers, who in their condition chose life for us because they had hope; a hope for a child that they knew they could not properly care for even though they loved them.  For this we will always be grateful, because somewhere deep down they knew that there was something greater for us to do.  Whether they believed in God or not; it was His plan and not their own that put us where we are today.

So for those whose story includes adoption; never give up hope nor your will to live each day as a gift from God and your mother.

Today is now,

Today you will succeed,

Today you love,

Today you are loved,

Today is yours.

 

 

“The Milestone”

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As parents we go into the responsibility of raising children with many doubts and fears. What if I do or say something wrong that scars my child for life or maybe I disciplined them too hard; will they learn from the experience? Will I forget my own childhood and become a parent we all don’t want to be? These thoughts and many more run through our heads before they are even born; and so begins the adventure.

Before either of my children were born I had a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and knew that He was with me from a very young age. I felt that as a Christian raising my future children with the knowledge of God and a faith in Jesus Christ would help me get through the challenges a father may face when raising children. I must admit now that my wife was with my children much more than I because of my job during their younger years, but as they grew into teenagers I was able to help guide them through some of their toughest years.

Going back to the birth of my first daughter It was God who I turned to first when an emergency during her birth caused her to be placed in ICU for nine days. That first night of her birth I offered up my life to save hers if it were necessary and God chose for both of us to live and grow together. For this I will forever be grateful because she has grown into a fine young woman with a strong will and of good moral character. Above all she has also learned to know and trust in God through Jesus Christ.

My youngest daughter was born with a twinkle in her eye with her own unique spark for life. It was obvious from the moment she was born that she was going to be her own person with a free spirit who seeks out nothing but the best in people. One trait that she has is the ability to bring out the best in people. For some in her life they have been held down by either others or themselves and she has helped them become more than they thought possible. Yes, some might have not followed her as they might should have, but nonetheless she continues to be a light for others. This daughter too trusts in God through Jesus Christ and understands that through Him we have strength.

As a father who understands the world around us and the hardships we can face I learned as the girls grew older that it was my responsibility to prepare them for this world by being a good example and teaching them what I knew of it. Knowing that God must be put first, this was my first goal and although it was my goal both girls would have to choose God of their own free will and so they did. As the days, months and years go by I am able to tell by their actions and in conversations with them that they are both women of high moral character and have become someone to look up to.

Along with all the things we want for our children there is one thing that I worked the hardest on it was that my children would not be burden on society, but a positive influence on it. As with any of our children each is unique in their own way and we love them equally for it, thereby strengthening our connection with them. As adults we are already fortified in our beliefs and way of life, but for our children it is all new and now it is their turn. As they and of course we grow older we may actually disagree on things as they start to learn and form their own opinions. Some of these disagreements may simply be those times where we learn about each other, but it never means that our love for them is any less. It is actually then that we should love them more because in some ways they may actually be seeking guidance, but are unsure of how to ask for it.

This much I do know; when your daughter writes a letter thanking you as parents for being a positive influence in her life because of everything we did to help her grow, it not only melts your heart and starts the water works going, it also lets you know that as a parent you were successful. However, as the years passed by and they became a young adult the whole “Successful” thing kind of fell by the wayside as you realized that it was more important to have a strong and loving relationship with your child instead of some milestone that was met in your life.

Thank God for children and most of all for His own Son who He gave for our sake.

 

The Koifish Christian