“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

 

 

 

 

 

“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 Does God Say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how can we do better at this?

What does God say?

“Hallowed Be Thy Name”

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

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

Do you agree or disagree?

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

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

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

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

“Today is Mine”

Today I read a story,

Today I shed a tear,

Today I am happy,

Today I am blessed,

Today is here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today is now,

Today you will succeed,

Today you love,

Today you are loved,

Today is yours.

 

 

“The Milestone”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Koifish Christian

“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

 

“Rolling Up Our Sleeves for God; it’s not a fashion statement”

I am going to make this one short and sweet.  Jesus Christ has called us to service by asking for our lives if necessary and there are many who truly live their lives for Him.  Giving up our lives is much easier said than done when you think about all the things we have going in our lives.

If we had lived during the time of Christ I wonder if many of those He encountered felt the same?  I know that we do have an example of the prince who could not leave his wealth or those who Jesus challenged when He spoke of giving up their lives for His sake.  With both of these examples I think it is very obvious that we today in our “modern” time are no different.

We are to be working in God’s Kingdom now, not later, so how do we start?  First we believe, then we love, then we roll up our sleeves.

Praise God for all that He has given both great and small!

Here is a link to a great discussion concerning God’s Kingdom.

“Kingdom of Heaven on Earth?” at (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAKOfGZ3a8U) from Apologia Studio & Radio (http://apologiaradio.com/)