“Walking Amongst Shadows”

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As I walk through soft green grass I make no sound,

I wonder at the sun’s beauty as birds sing and flutter,

Below my feet shadows are revealed on the ground.

 

A soft breeze awakens their voice to be heard,

Their voices carry me quickly to the past,

It is through their stories my heart is stirred.

 

Standing proud the shapes are never alone,

Their shadows touch each other as if a friend,

The will never leave the other as time has shown.

 

Their line is disciplined, just as once in the past,

All in their finest since the day they were formed,

A simple stone tells their story and forever will it last.

 

With my eyes now open, I can painfully see,

I am among my fallen brothers and sisters,

Their silence begs me to pass on their story.

 

They have given all to take away a nation’s fears,

The only words I am able to utter, are “Thank You”,

As I walk through the shadows and wipe away my tears.

 

D.E. Jones

 

Never should the sacrifices of those who gave all be forgotten.

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“Nudging the World One Person at a Time”

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According to the Merriam – Webster Dictionary, the word “Nudge” is defined in a couple of ways depending on how you want to use the word. In one sense of the word it indicates a touch or gentle push and in the other version one can prod lightly or urge into some sort of action.

As I read these definitions I realize that God uses both when he wants us to move within His plan. Since one option is physical and the other might be verbal, I would even go as far as a spiritual urging. As a Christian I believe that it is very important for us to be aware of the signs God places in front of us to draw our attention back to Him. Going day to day with the belief that “God works in mysterious ways” is in my opinion not a good way to get to know God.

Do you believe God works in mysterious ways?

For a non-Christian this might simply be boiled down to an intuition based on past experiences that would cause one to be aware of little nudges in our thoughts that might cause one to choose a new or different course. I even think that some Christians would agree with this.

On this point I am going to say that God’s creation (humans) are not robots and yes, God would give us the ability to recall from memory the things that help us make decisions. What I am going for here are the nudges that come out of nowhere and are not relative to the situation we are in at that moment. I for one do not believe in the concept of “Chance, matter and motion” and the rest of what Evolutionists believe, so for the concept of the “Nudge” I am referring to, this would not work.

The “Nudges” as I like to call them, can come in many forms and are not regulated to any particular box. They can be a thought, a comment heard in passing, the actions of another person, a visual cue or symbol, or just a “feeling”. Yes, I know what inspiration means…good question though.

Not only do we get a nudge, we also get the burning feeling or thought that won’t go away. This is God’s way of letting you that He is serious about what He wants you to do, whether you are praying for it or not. Have you ever ran with that feeling or thought and realized that you had no idea how to go about it, but knew that you just had to do it? If you have, then you are being given an opportunity by God. It is an opportunity because it will either make your grow or open doors for you. However, since it is God’s plan you may not benefit other than being a blessing to someone or glorifying God. If we say we are Christian, this should not be a problem.

If you did not follow through with the thought or feeling, did you regret it later?

What we need to understand is that these nudges might not be given to benefit someone other than ourselves, why? Because we are straying away from the fold and need a little redirection. This is where the pride thing comes in and is probably one of the most difficult to contend with. Even when our closest family gives us nudges of love to get back to what is important we will still stray on our own, not even realizing that we are.

Even Jesus talks about this in Acts 9:5-6 (KJV) when He says; “And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks“. These are long sticks used to herd goats / sheep, so think about how those might be used in our own lives. Some of us require more poking and prodding than others, whereas some only need a “Nudge”.

What can we as Christians take from this? What can a non-Christian take from it?

So be aware and just wait for the “Nudge”, it will come when you least expect it and when you get one – swim hard and fast!

Praise God for the Nudges and I thank Him for you.

Have a wonderful day in your pond!

 

 

The Koifish Christian

“Will This Snow Ever Melt?”

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The sun comes out, the snow melts and the birds sing. For those who live with the four seasons, this is considered a normal refreshing perspective that indicates that summer is on the way.

And then there is the Upper Midwest with snow storms in mid-April. For many this is very depressing and can negatively affect their attitude. Myself having lived in the deep south for a few years, find the snow welcoming. I personally do not like it very hot, nor the humidity. I also detest the snakes, cockroaches, scorpions, spiders of every kind and super noisy Cicadas. Again, this is my personal preference, so I will take shoveling snow over all those things I just listed!

For those who complain about the snow, let me try another perspective on you to see if this helps with the whole attitude thing.

When we get snow, it is a slow way for the soil to pull in much needed moisture for the crops that sustain life. When it rains the top soil tends to run off into lower elevations that might not be able to be planted or harvested. As I am not a farmer I can’t speak to the science of it, but practical sense tells me that the snow is better than the rain to prepare fields for planting. Spring rains can keep farmers out of the field for planting so I would assume that this is not an easy task for farmers to contend with.

I am aware that blowing snow can also carry top soil away from a field so this idea is not exempt from waste in the process. I am aware that farmers have ways to compensate for this natural process and those who choose not to, then that is a choice they must work with in the spring.

So, after my lack-luster attempt to explain how the snow helps farmers, I would rather turn to what I know and believe to be true. I do believe all of this is a work given by the hand of God. It is God who created the miracle of snow and the positive things that come with it. Ultimately, it does bring life and yes, it does bring challenges.

As far as the challenges of snow go, I think even if you have not dealt with it much, you know that it is not always fun to deal with when you must move it. However, those challenges do make us a stronger and hearty people who know what hard work means.

Think of it this way, it is just another way God prepares us for life and the hard work it takes to survive. In bible studies I have often heard about how God tempers us through His work, and since snow is a creation of God, it is God’s work to contend with winter. How many times have we seen people helping people when the snow hits? Stuck vehicles, shoveling sidewalks, walking with someone across an icy parking lot, sharing food, working at homeless shelters, caring for those who are without during Christmas, on and on.

Since the snow will be gone soon, I thought it appropriate to give thanks to God for the blessings He has given during this winter season. Ultimately, it is life that God gave us and it is for his miracle of creation, we give our thanks.

Here is a poem I wrote to hopefully lighten your mood about this longer than expected winter.

 

“Wayward Friends”

 Shapes of wonder carried on high

Not one the same, but all alike,

Fall where they may or destined to fly.

 

Enjoyed by some or loathed by a few

Pushed or pulled it matters not,

Man has labored since the first one flew.

 

Some will venture far to escape their number

For their pull is strong and not forgotten,

We dream of childhood memories as we slumber.

 

Like old friends who visit unannounced

Ready or not they will knock on your door,

They will bring gifts for everyone measured by the ounce.

 

Reminding all of that special time

Bringing us together to love and share,

Giving away our coins when we hear the chime.

 

Some have sadly never known them as a girl or boy

Angelic and portly creations are the order of the day,

Giggles and smiles they bring, turning sadness into joy.

 

Friends forever and a gift, they will always be to me

Visiting each year right on time,

I am happy to know them, even though they are heavy.

 

D.E. Jones

“Say Amen!”

     As we sit in our pew next to a friend or even a stranger, we listen to the message from the pastor hoping to glean a nugget of knowledge, hope or a simple reminder of God’s love.  While we listen and learn there are points in the message that may bring a rise in our emotion that feels like our soul wants to shout from the rooftops the Truth we know in Christ.

     In the upper Midwest there seems to be a tradition of remaining silent and stone-like during the Sunday Service in Christian Churches.  I personally do not know why this is, but in all the churches I have attended it is like this.  Since I am only speaking of this phenomena in general terms, please don’t wear this shoe if it doesn’t fit.

     Myself having attended a Baptist church for a few years while living in Oklahoma have experienced the other side of this coin.  In that church we were encouraged to say “Amen!” when the preacher said something that supported the Truth of Jesus Christ or encouragement for all to take in.  It is also a great way to give the preacher encouragement that his message is accurate and well received.

     In 2 Corinthians 1: 20 Paul makes a statement about “Amen” that I find refreshing to my soul as to why saying it is so important.  20. “For all the promises of God find their yes in him.  That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”  When we say “Amen” we are saying that God’s will is the final answer and it shall be so.

     I believe “Amen” for a Christian is the seal for God’s promise through Jesus Christ.  Each time we say it at the end of our prayers, we are sealing our prayer with the belief and confidence that God in His time will answer it.  “Amen” can also be said when we affirm the Truth when it is preached.

     In my humble opinion saying “Amen” during the preacher’s message should be considered the norm rather than the “thing we don’t do here”.  As Christians it seems to me that it is our role to be heard and not silent when the Truth is spoken or if we need to share the Gospel to the lost.  So then the question begs to be asked; are we following the traditions of men or are we following what God is urging us to do; to whom does the glory belong?

“Does God Work Through Our Pets?”

I know that there are differing beliefs on whether animals have a soul or just run on basic instinct, but there is something I believe 100%. God puts animals on our path just as He does with people. These animals are usually otherwise known as “pets”.

I have experienced as well as witnessed how we learn to live and communicate with these pets. Sometimes I question whether they belong to our “pack” or whether we belong to theirs. Over time our pets also learn to communicate with us in ways that many of us don’t always understand, but it might be possible to at least understand at a basic level what they are trying to show us.

With my own dogs, I can just tell by the way they look at me that they want a treat or want to go outside. They don’t need to bark, whimper or jump around; just a look with their eyes tells me. No, I am not a dog whisperer, but I think most people understand a little body language. You can count on one thing for certain; our pets rely on it almost 100% when trying to understand what we need or want.

If there is anything we can learn from our pets it is that they will always show us affection the best way they know how; excluding some animals that are just plain mean regardless of how they were raised. I personally think a great example of loyalty is with Service Animals. These animals take their job as one of caring for a member of their pack; at least it appears this way on the surface. I simply call it as I see it.

So how does God come into all of this. Well, if you are a pet owner and have seen or felt the affection given by that animal to you when you most needed it, you are a recipient of that love. Or how many of us have simply encountered a very friendly dog, cat or other pet that simply made your day after spending a couple of minutes with it. Even if a person doesn’t like animals, I would be willing to bet that they have experienced this at one point in their life. If you have not, you are missing out on a joyful experience. God in my belief can work through any of His creations, so to limit Him to just working through humans is a shallow and vain way of looking at God’s capabilities.

For those of us who have pets, we can give many examples of when they have simply made us smile or given us comfort just by snuggling up to our feet. Or that time when they laid their head on your lap and looked up at you with “those eyes” and made your heart melt. In my own experience, I have had bad days I am certain that by my body language my dogs knew it. Their actions told me so, since the first thing they did was greet me with wagging tails and running small circles in the kitchen or whimpering for a pet. They also told me they knew by just sitting next to me as I sat down; almost like they wanted to be ready to help if they could.

I am not a cat owner, but have heard how some cats make it known that you are supposed to give them attention because you might need it more than they do. The cat owners or cat human owners I do know, love them dearly and are content many times just by their presence. I also know that cats seem somewhat aloof to what is going on with humans, but I have personally witnessed them come up to someone at the opportune time to ease their tension.

Regardless of my experiences, I am quite certain that God puts these animals in our paths for a reason and that reason is many times very well-known to us if we are honest with ourselves. Whether we accept the animal as a gift from God really doesn’t matter, what matters is if we are willing to accept the gift the animal is trying give us. Since these animals live much shorter lives that we do, it seems that most of them give all the love they have whenever possible because of this.

Wonder why we as humans don’t do the same to each other?

If you have a pet story to share, please feel free to share your story in the comments.

 

 

Have a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!

The Koifish Christian

“What Are You Kneeling For?”

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Many are up in arms about professional athletes kneeling during the National Anthem, and I can understand why. There is a lot of tradition and culture behind what it all stands for, so the ensuing emotional reactions are actually predictable.

However; the emotional connection to our flag and the anthem must be respected. There are many who have given up their Constitutional rights in service to our country so that you can protest the things you think need overt attention.  There are many who are not able to come home and enjoy the same rights you have because they gave everything, up to and including their life.  So, before you kneel during the anthem or try to burn our flag, think about your ability to do so.  In some countries, you would be arrested or even worse, executed.

For many, including myself it represents the country, our rights and our laws that allow Americans to be free. This also means that we may not always agree with each other; this should be considered acceptable, not relative to or restrained by any belief as non-negotiable.

So as the athletes kneel during the anthem because they feel oppressed, I am left begging these questions; Do you really understand why you are kneeling? Are you doing this because the crowd around you is doing it and now you feel pressured to do the same?  What are you doing, other than kneeling to make things better?

At this point I am left to believe that this is nothing more than a fad brought about by those who think that their way is the only way and that if they “Squeak” enough they will get their way. What I am trying to figure out is, what is it exactly are your asking for?  If you want equal rights and freedom; you already have this and in many ways, are undermining it through your less than thought out actions.

At the end of the day I say that as Americans we need to get behind something that unites us, not divides us. We are better than this and must find a way to put our differences in our pocket and move forward by changing our attitudes towards each other first.

So instead of kneeling during the National Anthem, try getting on your knees and thanking God for the blessings you do have. Maybe start with thanking Him for the air you breathe every day that allows you to speak or kneel and work your way up from there.

In conclusion, I don’t really care if you kneel during the National Anthem and as a matter of fact, I am inclined to simply ignore you because I don’t see it as being an effective way to make positive change in our country. What I do think makes a difference are those people who act upon their beliefs by working to make positive changes in their community.  From there it is simply a ripple effect that causes positive changes and attitudes in our country.

If things are broke, lets fix them together. It is our own communities that make America great; not our government. It is and always has been, We the People, so let’s get back to that.

“Does Love Pay the Bills?”

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Many an “Armchair Philosopher” has said that “Love doesn’t pay the bills” and I used to agree with this for many years, but the more I learn about God and Marriage it has become abundantly clear that this is not true.

To explain further, I would have you first look at your own marriage as an example. To venture a guess, I would assume that most are married for the sake of love; at least I would like to think so.  When you were first married, you thought you could take on anything the world could throw at you; at least until children came along – it is okay to chuckle, I am.

If love is truly the foundation of the love between a man and woman, then why else would anything else matter?

After the marriage, has fermented a few years, this is when the “Love Thing” starts to get a little hazy for some. Not only do they have children now, they have bills; usually more than what is comfortable.  Now enter, STRESS.  Once this critter enters the picture the vision of Love starts to lessen and it now becomes the burden after all the other things or tasks get done.

Was God ever on the task list or was He moved to the bottom?

Now for my position on “Love Paying the Bills”. It does.  How, you ask?  Well, from the Christian perspective, God brought us together in our marriage and thus it is His plan.  By His love, we are brought together and by His love we will stay together.  All the things that we create in between are ours to deal with, but it will be love at the end of the day that makes it all happen; the relationship, the children, the job and the other accomplishments we try to give ourselves credit for.

When was the last time we thanked God for every blessing in our lives, even the ones we may not have agreed with?

The next time you find yourself struggling with the bills, the children or just life in general as a married couple try this; take it all in from the perspective as a gift of God, not another burden. It is because of God’s love that we have the blessings in our life and these gifts require maintenance.  If we choose not to approach the work to take care of the blessings with love and faith in God, we will fail.

Ephesians 2: 7 – 10. “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Although it may not appear so on the surface, I believe that love does pay the bills. I would like to think of it as love outweighing all the things in our lives that make it appear complicated, stressful or meaningless.  God has given us the gift of love through Jesus Christ so that we may overcome these burdens; so, use it!

 

 

The Koifish Christian

“Minding the Net”

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“Follow me and I will make you fishers of men…”  Matthew 4:19.

As I read this short verse it occurs to me that anyone who has ever been exposed to the story of Jesus Christ has heard this quoted many times by many pastors, Sunday school teachers, or evangelists simply trying to spread the gospel.

What concerns me is if we as Christians really understand what this verse means.  In any version of the story Jesus makes it sound pretty easy, but we may have to step back for a moment and take this verse in.

Have we taken the time to fully understand what is asked of us as believers?

Within this short verse is a lot of labor, sweat, tears and even physical pain.  In our world as we perceive it today we will struggle with perception or even empathy as it concerns the work Jesus and his disciples endured.  Good example; my feet get sore sometimes in comfortable shoes, I can’t imagine walking the miles Christ did in a pair of sandals that more than likely did not have gel insoles!

Would we go the distance with Jesus?

Now lets consider the confrontations Jesus had and literally standing alone with nothing more than the words given by the Father.  We are told not to fear death or even injury, but yet we shy away from a verbal confrontation about defending the faith.

Do we shy away for our sake or the other person’s?

The last part can be a little touchy, but are we selective to who we talk to about Jesus Christ?  Many Christians will talk about not being selective to those we invite into the doors of the church or how we determine who we share the gospel with, but I would guess that we are all guilty of being choosey, when it is not our place to do so.  Every person is made in the image of God and thus, we serve him, not the other way around.

Do our perspective goggles uncover the truth of God in how we see our fellow human beings?

My thoughts and prayers are for all of those who stand, walk or run to spread the truth of the gospel to every corner of the earth.  May God make your feet swift, your labor fruitful and message one that allows the seeds to be planted for the bountiful harvest to come!

 

Praise God in all He does for the smallest of blessings!!!

The Koifish Christian

“Are You Willing to Stand in the Gap?”

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Last night I heard a young man talk about opposition to Jesus Christ and how we should to deal with that barrier. He used the examples found in the book of Acts, chapters 3 and 4.  This of course is a great example of how Christians should be bold and forthright with in whom we find love, peace and grace.

The thing that struck me the most was that this man was talking about opposition to Jesus within the confining walls of a prison. It is not important as to why he is there, but this young man, even in his current environment has made a choice in his life to put God first.

In our daily lives, we have a perception of opposition that might include; slow traffic, bad cell phone reception, running too late to get coffee, and many other nuisances we consider opposition. As I live in and witness this perspective, it must also be begged to ask; why do we take these examples on to solve, but we don’t try to face opposition as it concerns our belief in Jesus Christ?

In some cases, we know that in our daily work environments we should keep ourselves from causing someone to be offended by our beliefs, but even there we can assert our beliefs in a loving and caring manner. Our goal should always be to lead people to Christ by our example, even if we don’t speak about it.  However, there will be confrontation to our belief and we are directed to defend the faith.

If we were to find opposition to our belief in Jesus Christ, we should be asking ourselves if we are ready and or able to defend it in a manner that is still able to plant seeds with love, genuine attention and patience. In every instance, we must approach every situation with love.  If we don’t approach with love, we are not defending our faith in the Gospel of Christ and our efforts are for naught.

So, in the end how we answer the opposition is the most important part. In my opinion we can proclaim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior through our words and actions.  If our words and actions reflect the commands and examples of Jesus Christ we are His.  If He calls on us, we are told to stand in the gap and do whatever it takes to keep our fellow man / women from the grips of sin and hell.  This can only be done by sharing His message to the whole world without thought for self.

 

The Koifish Christian

“Tomorrow’s Flowers”

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You carried me in your soul before that day,

A glimmer of hope seen in your dreams,

God’s gift is in everything you do or say.

 

You are special to me only in ways I can know,

Your soft voice and warm touch are treasured,

Your inner strength keeps me from getting low.

 

As I learn from you I see the truth you guard,

Passing along your dreams as only you can do,

Sharing a piece of heaven not spotted or marred.

 

My life and dreams I owe only to you,

As you gave up yours to carry me,

Doing my best as you taught me to do.

 

Imagine the fields of flowers brilliantly on display,

God weaved you perfectly just for me,

Each colorful petal gives me hope for a new day.

 

Lovingly, I do my best to appreciate your ways,

These are Tomorrow’s Flowers that I give to you,

To my Mother and her love, I owe all my days.