The Human Spirit

May peace and joy find you during these challenging times.  Like me many of you have been bombarded by all of the news outlets flooding the airwaves with data, experts and conjecture about the virus we shall not speak of here.  Quite frankly I am tired of being fed spotty information and half-truths, so to remedy this I am no longer watching any of the news outlets.

This in no way means that I do not care about what is happening to people or doing my part to stay healthy and to keep those around me healthy as well – on the contrary actually.  We have been taking many extra steps to do what is right, but that does not mean that I live in fear or have lost my faith in God and the promises of Jesus Christ.

During this time many may have found depression or gone down deeper into it due to being cooped up for so long.  What needs to be realized is that there is a shiny side to this penny which we can look to if we choose, so I will do my best to explain.

Throughout the bible there are stories of men and women doing great or even seemingly impossible things under some pretty bad circumstances.  In all of these stories God has generally been saying; “trust me”.  For those who did trust God they were brought ultimately to overcome difficult circumstances, or their actions benefited further generations.  Either way, it was a victory.

The shiny side of the penny I am talking about is the spirit that God has given each and every person on the earth; believer or non-believer, it doesn’t matter.  Yes, God has given us the Holy Spirit as a helper and our faith in Jesus Christ is our foundation, but the Human Spirit is what God uses in each of us to overcome what our mind is telling us to be impossible or fearful of.

When we see others helping those in need and our “heart” swells to the point of tears or taking that inspiration to also help others, that is God using the spirit within us to do His good works.  Since the dawn of humans (I do not believe in evolution) there have been those who have a spirit within them God used to help others and it is not something we can ignore.

As I see it when it comes to the Human Spirit I don’t see God working in mysterious ways.  Actually, I think that He makes them quite plain and out in the open for us to pick up on.  His overall plan might be a mystery to us, but when the labors of love need to happen God makes it quite clear what we are to do.  We just have to admit to ourselves that we have received the message and are willing to act on it.

God made us a social creature and that means we do need to rely on each other for strength during tough times.  Even though we are at this point distancing ourselves from others to avoid the virus we shall not name, we can still reach out to people and give encouragement, do small things that brighten another’s day or simply share a gift with others that God has given you through music, art, writing, etc.

1 Corinthians 12: 4

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.

I say let the Human Spirit that God has given you rise up above this challenge and take others with you to new heights of truth, emotion, beauty and love through your talents to inspire others to do the same!  You can do this; we will do this!  As Jesus tells us;

Matthew 17:20

He said to them, “…For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Together we will move this mountain because our God-given Human Spirit will recognize this as an opportunity to rise up above anything that challenges our will to survive and care for each other.

IT IS TIME FOR YOUR SPIRIT TO MOVE; WHAT SAY YOU?

 

The Koifish Christian

“Position Improvement”

Many years ago, when I first entered the U.S. Army, I heard the term “Position Improvement”.  I soon learned that this meant if I found myself in a defensive position it fell on me and those on my team to be involved in improving the position through a list of necessary tasks.

The positions in which we found ourselves could be started by simply camouflaging our location all the way up to eventually building hardened bunkers or fighting positions.  Some of the work was easy and rather boring, but some of it was challenging and interesting.

The important thing to know was that this work never really stopped.  It was always about improving our percentages of success if defending our position became necessary.  Our labor was all in all for each other.

Now as the entire world reacts to the COVID-19 virus it is obvious to me that we have taken a defensive posture to this threat.  As we get into our “fighting positions” I would offer that if we remember that God is our commander, we will be successful in our mission because of our labors related to “Position Improvement”.

The labor we are doing now to keep ourselves healthy and take care of our families is just part of the work to improve our position.  The work to make God first in our lives, spread the Good News and love our neighbors has not been put on hold.  If anything, this challenge should make our labors even more intense to accomplish our mission.  This in no way means to take on any of this in a frantic manner, but in a way that shows our trust and faith in God through peace, strength and love.

This defensive posture in no way means that we hunker down in our “holes” without offensive actions.  Around the world there are scientists, doctors, nurses, businesses and many others who are taking the fight to this enemy.  We must support them in every way possible and that starts with praying for them at every opportunity to say the least.  We also need to show them we respect their sacrifice by doing our part at home and in our communities to stop the spread of this virus.

As with any battle there will be loss and pain so it is a reality we must contend with.  Rest assured that this will not be a short battle and it will require every Christian to step into the gap for believers and non-believers alike.  With our faith in the promises of God and our Savior Jesus Christ we know where the true prize resides.

Something to make it easier to put into perspective and remember might be a motto I learned while in the Army; “Mission First, People Always“.

May God bless you with peace, strength, love and boldness as we march forward into the gap together.

 

The Koifish Christian

“Thinking About You on Mother’s Day”

Because you choose to see the best in me,

Regardless of life’s pitfalls or my pride,

A smiling nod to be creative and free,

Your gentle hands are always my guide.

Thinking About You on Mother’s Day

In your heart you carry each memory,

Each a snapshot into a time and place,

As diamonds each is stored affectionately,

All are wrapped by your love and grace.

Thinking About You on Mother’s Day

Through all the years your love has not waned,

Instinctively putting others well before yourself,

Your love never lost and most certainly ordained,

Caring was never a choice as it was your wealth.

Thinking About You on Mother’s Day

Poised to give learned and loving advice,

Lending my ear to your pearls of life,

Given freely and never with a price,

I hear how to avoid trouble and strife.

Thinking About You on Mother’s Day

Words can never say what my heart truly feels,

A unending gratefulness I share with God each day,

It is with tears of joy that my heart eagerly kneels,

For others to have a Mother like you is what I pray.

Wishing You a Happy Mother’s Day

D.E. Jones

 

For all the Mothers out there on your special day I pray for you to be surrounded by the family you love and care for so much.  Getting spoiled a bit wouldn’t hurt either…

The Koifish Christian

“Do You Carpe Diem?”

Throughout our lives we encounter the subject of death in varying circumstances. Sometimes it hits close to home, sometimes it is just far enough away that we brush it off as “…so glad it wasn’t someone in our family”. Either way I don’t think we take the time to appreciate the life we all have in front of us. I understand that some may take offense to that last statement and if you do; good! This means you take every day on as a gift and treat it as such.

For those who are mourning the loss of someone close there is no magic answer for making the pain of loss go away. However, there is peace found with God and the Son Jesus Christ. It is He who listens to our every groaning regardless of the severity or complexity. The hardest part of turning to God with our grieving is the “trusting” part. Simply trust as a child trusts their parent and you will see God begin working in your life. The first sign to look for is a friend or family member asking to be at your side through your mourning; just say “yes”.

By saying yes to that friend or family member who wants to mourn with you, it could very well be their prayer to be a blessing to you and God is simply answering their prayer to answer yours. Don’t deny them their prayer as it might also be a prayer about being more obedient, caring, loving, or simply trying to not be selfish. We may never know the “Why”, but that is okay, just roll with God’s plan.

Was there a time you told someone “No” and you later regretted it?

Something to try during a time of mourning might be to turn your mourning into energy for helping or reaching out to someone else. The truth is this; no matter how much we mourn it cannot bring that person back. However, we can honor that person by giving, loving and sharing more with those around us who just might need you to be a blessing for them. Simply put, don’t dig yourself into the hole of mourning and never come out.

God’s promise of life after death is also something we should take the time to think more about as it should make us appreciate the life we have now and know that we should not waste it by living like we will never die. This is a selfish way to live and not one of the directives God has given us. The first directive from Christ was to worship God only and the second, love your neighbor as you do yourself. You can’t do either if you let mourning take over.

How have do you feel inside after helping others?

God places every person in our path for a reason and if we are simply mulling through life day to day without realizing that someday those around us will not be here, we are doomed to a life full of regret. This is not at all how God wants us to live! If you think about it, the phrase; “Carpe Diem” (Seize the Day) is more than just a quote that looks cool on a coffee cup. It should be how we approach life every minute of every day as God intended.

How have you handled the hard days? Did you trust God, or did you try to just trust in yourself?

It is okay to mourn the loss of a loved one, but don’t let it take over your life. This life is the only one you have so treat it like the gift it is. God never promises an easy life here on earth, but He does promise that in the end you will be free from the burdens that you had while here. Through Jesus Christ you can accomplish all that God has planned for you so don’t waste another day. Use this day and every day after as an opportunity to simply be a blessing to others, just as they were for you when you were in your time of need.

Are you ready to “Carpe Diem”?

 

The Koifish Christian

“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

“Tomorrow’s Flowers”

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.

“Making the List”

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!

“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.

“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.

 

 

“Build Your Road”

Each day we roll out of bed and make our way (half awake) through the house to start our day.  First it is to the coffee pot or in my case downstairs to let the dogs out of their kennels so that they can start their day.  I must admit seeing their wagging tails does perk me up a bit.  As far as this scenario plays out I think you know the rest, because eventually I get into my vehicle and head to work.

As that day begins each decision we make no matter how small builds upon the path we are on.  For those who believe in God we believe that no matter our thoughts, it is He who guides our feet.  Now this does not mean we walk around like zombies waiting for the next message to come down from God and then act upon it.  This merely means that for us there are little clues or even large ones that help guide our feet; the rest is up to us to make the right decisions.

When I look at the things I decide to do, each one is a pebble to be placed in front of me that will create the road I walk on.  Some pebbles are bigger or smaller, but each one nonetheless causes the road to be built.

For some people the decisions they make will be some of the hardest of their lives and it might seem like that pebble they have to place down in front of them weighs a ton.  Regardless of its weight it must be put down; we are the builders of our road and at times we will have to ask for assistance.

If you find that the pebbles to be placed on your road are too heavy, know that God sent down a stone that is the bedrock your road is being created on.  Jesus Christ is that foundation and with Him all things are possible.  Knowing this we must also see those times when we are too weak and must ask for help; it is okay.  This is exactly what God expects from us because He has already directed someone to be on your path to be that blessing.  Allow them to be the instrument God has intended them to be by receiving the blessing God has intended for you through them.

So think for a moment about all the pebbles you have laid down to build the road you are on today.  Is it wide enough?  Is it smooth enough?  Does it have a lot of curves or is it simply straight?  Is it built on flat land or in the mountains?  Whatever the attributes of your road; no one road is perfect.  Each are unique to the builder which makes them all the more interesting, thereby making the travel on them a wonderful adventure with God.

Don’t worry about the width of the road too much because God will always make sure that there is enough room for someone to walk on beside you and behind you.

Have a great day builders!

The Koi Fish Christian