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

“Child Birth; God’s Miracle – Our Gift”

For some the scientific term “Parturition” makes the whole idea for the birth of a child a dreary and unimaginative visualization for the next Sci-Fi novel or textbook; either way neither are not my choice on this subject.

Generally speaking many claim that the Christian Bible of 66 Books is a drab and boring read; and in some ways I can agree speaking from a fleshly perspective.  However, I believe the Bible speaks to the birth of a child in a way that brings respect to the very thing God has gifted to us; life.  Some will contest that childbirth is a negative thing, so I am choosing the positive here.

John 16:21 says – “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”

As a man I am not able to speak to the pain endured by women during childbirth so I will not attempt to say that I understand, but what I do know is the joy felt after the baby is born; that I can certainly share with the mother!

When God created woman he created a miracle inside and out.  Their bodies go through so much change when a baby is first formed in their womb at the moment of conception.  The small miracles begin to happen a thousand fold each and every day as the baby grows, but the woman’s body also changes with the growth of that child.  Even though the baby itself is not the same body as the woman, it is the woman who goes through the changes to accommodate the new wonderful passenger inside of her.

As the baby grows it will start to react to the environment outside of its womb; sounds, pressure from sitting / standing / lying down, etc.  As far as the topic of sound goes this is something I myself had an experience with.

Since I was adopted at birth I never knew my birth mother until I was 46 years of age.  However, the first time I had ever talked to her I kept getting this feeling that her voice was very familiar to me.  What I later found out was that while I was still in the womb she would sing to me because at the time she was a professional singer, so I would have been exposed to her voice through singing many times over.

For the woman in this experience up to the point of birth there will be trials, but there will also be joy.  Getting things ready for the new arrival is usually a big one on everyone’s list and eventually the “Nesting” will happen, which I always found entertaining.  To me this was an instinct God gave women to prepare for what was coming soon and it is just another miracle to observe during this experience.

There will be a “Baby Shower” and gifts, but none of those will compare to the little fingers, toes, eyes, lips, ears and nose of that baby the mother is about to meet.  It is a person with the spark of life given by God that we are to enjoy and cherish as long as we live.  The memories will begin to stack up as the baby grows and each one should be placed in a treasure box for the mother to use when her heart needs to be reminded of that warm and wonderful feeling.

To put things into a greater perspective than ourselves, God used the birth of one child to change the world –

Matthew 1:23Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”  (Which means, God with us.)

So for the new “Soon-to-Be” mothers out there, remember that this is your time to participate in God’s miracle of life.  Cherish it for as long as your heart and mind allow; never take what you are capable of for granted and know by this experience you are following God’s plan for both of you.

Here is a poem I wrote to my new found mother in 2013.

Sing to My Mother

Hearing you sing before I saw light,

It was your voice that gave me hope,

Stirring my spirit to prepare for flight.

Singing, singing, always your song.

 

As my time here on earth stood before me,

I had always known that I was yours,

Even though they said that it would not be.

Singing, singing, a strange new song.

 

Following your heart was not a choice,

Because your blood was also mine,

You chose to give me life and a voice.

Singing, singing, my own song.

 

The pain I know for you was real,

For I too felt the emptiness in my soul,

Hoping for time to just please heal.

Singing, singing, a sad, sad song.

 

As the years passed I swear you were often near,

Did you think of me as I had dreamt of you?

We had figured out new ways to hide a tear.

Singing, singing, a lonesome song.

 

A simple birthdate is not what it seems,

They are numbers that hold our heart,

Containing love, anguish, hope and dreams.

Singing, singing, tomorrow’s song.

 

After so many years our time has come to unite,

Dreams of the past are our only gifts,

Tears and Joy show what has always been right.

Singing, singing, to the world our song.

 

It is this that you must know first and last,

My love has always belonged to you,

Regardless of what was and is the past.

Singing, singing, finally to My Mother a song.

 

“I pray that every mother is able to experience the joy of a newborn, but if that newborn child is not something you are willing to care for at this time – please put the child up for adoption as it is a human life worthy of a future…just like you were offered at your birth.”  – 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

“Walking Amongst Shadows”

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,

They 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.

“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

“Does Love Pay the Bills?”

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

“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!

“What Was the Final Score?”

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.

“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.