Lead by Example

Since March many of us have been prisoners in our own homes due to information that we thought we could trust from the “experts”.  In my opinion it has become apparent that they were very wrong and that in fact COVID-19 was no worse on the population than the flu.

I will agree that we need to protect the old and very young when it comes to this virus, but those of us who are of good overall health need to get back to what we know is right; working hard to support our families and those who support us by providing the produce we depend on each and every day.

After reading a post by Marcus Pittman on FB I am of the same position                                ( https://www.facebook.com/marcuspittman/posts/10106117309026028 ); as a “Church” we must start having services again to set the example for the rest of the nation to follow.  Our fear does not reside in the virus we have been told to fear, it lies in the hands of the one and true God who is over everything, thus we should have no fear to go forward with God who provides our armor and is the tip of our spear.

We can be wise in how we congregate by keeping safe distances, not shaking hands, wearing masks, etc.  Either way we are there to worship God regardless of what we wear, how far we sit from others or if we don’t shake hands.

Let’s shake the fear off and go forward as the Christian Soldiers we know we are!  I will stand next to any Christian as we go into the fray together to fight the good fight for God’s Kingdom; His will and not ours is our marching order!

Until that day we will continue to pray for those in the medical fields or any other job that puts them up close to the virus as it stands today.  We also pray that our elected leaders do not abuse their office, but handle each situation with wisdom and clarity, rather than with panic or emotional choices.

May you find Jesus as your peace and strength during this challenging time.  With that strength I would ask you to stand with your Christian brothers and sisters as we march on for God’s glory.

There is victory in this and it will be we believers who show others how to find it!

 

The Koifish Christian

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

“Questioning Their Standard”

Speaking from a position of making a general observation I am plagued by a question. Because of what I hear and see among people across the country I am assuming that they are coming from the presupposition that God does not exist or that Christians believe in a desert fairy tale; how is it that they have a position on the moral high ground as they would like everyone to believe? They act as if only they understand the motives and reasons behind school shootings, crime, poverty, bad immigration practices, etc., yet, they are perfectly fine killing babies in or outside of the womb and push for legalizing the killing of the disabled or elderly. All the while comfortable taking rights away from law-abiding citizens…

So, another question must be asked of those who deny God; what is the standard for “Bad” and what is the standard for “Good”? Before any discussion or debate can be had those two things require an answer. If they cannot be defined, then by default there is no answer to a moral presupposition contrary to God’s. Even Atheist debaters struggle with this question and will divert the discussion to avoid answering it or ignore it altogether leaving themselves and their followers without a foundation to stand on.

In my mind their presupposition is simply death to those who stand in their way. They have no problem telling others how they should live, yet when confronted with the truth of their own immoral or unethical ways they point fingers and make groundless accusations. Just as the Sadducees and Pharisees did when condemning Jesus because they knew they were exposed and not able to confront the truth since they were unable to defend themselves against it.

Every day the violence we see is a product of homes without God and children without parents who put God first in their lives. Without God there is no moral presupposition. The argument that a society can rule itself under its own self-determined morality is lying to itself at best and its current state provides proof daily of its failure to determine a standard of morality on its own.

I believe we have come to a turning point in our country where people must decide which side they are on; God’s morals or humanity’s absurd notion of morals. Many will try to argue my points and that is fine, but in the end if a person is unwilling to drill down into the root cause of evil or good and how they are measured, the argument will die dismally in front of God and His Laws.

To say that God does not exist or to say that Christians are naïve is a statement nullified by the words of the Bible.

ROMANS 1: 18 – 32 (ESV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

 

 

Food for thought or fodder; pick your freedom or your poison…

The Koifish Christian

“Will This Snow Ever Melt?”

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?

“What Are You Kneeling For?”

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.

“Minding the Net”

“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?”

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

“A Victory in the Rubble”

Rubble and stone mixed with dust do stifle,

Somewhere a child cries unceasing,

Nearby a man briskly walks by with a rifle,

From the desolation God’s work is increasing.

 

The children cry holding our hand,

War and devastation bring dark sadness,

Desolate and barren is their land,

Their dreams whither as each day passes.

 

A victory by 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.

 

Earnestly, it takes the work of another,

Teaching their hearts not to be made of stone,

Eagerly, caring for a sister and brother,

Learning to live by the standard God has shown.

 

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.

 

Giving of ourselves to wipe away dust caked tears,

Obedience to God by always loving our neighbor,

Heed the call by God to comfort a child’s fears,

It is through His Redemption and Will that we labor.

D.E. Jones

 

 

Thank you Victor for all the work you and your team do to bring the love and comfort of the Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into areas of the world that need it most.

Go to this link for more information:  Victor Marx Homepage

 

 

 

 

 

“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.