“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

“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

“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

“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.

“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.

“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

“A What In The Room?”

The meeting began just as any other meeting with some small talk at the onset and then it was into the business at hand.  As the discussion commenced and the ideas flowed there was a point made as to the ownership of a certain item within a system.  This is when it happened, someone said; “You don’t want to make Satan mad.”

Once that statement was made there were giggles and additional statements about Lucifer with more giggles, laughter and a general acceptance of the name being used in the room made for business; secular and usually politically correct.

To say that whether this blogger was offended is actually irrelevant.  What is relevant is what would have happened if the name of Jesus Christ had been used; what then?

Actually I have seen it before in other meetings years past where the name of Jesus Christ has come up, but usually it was saved for cursing and not for edification.  I have heard the name used in a positive conversation, but it was soon stopped when other members to the meeting showed up because of either secular laws or policies.

Concerning the most recent meeting mentioned earlier I am quite certain that the name of Jesus would have not received the same attention that Satan’s did and this is what I find ironic.  Jesus died for every human being before during and after; what did Satan give – nothing.  I would also guess that almost everyone in that room calls themselves “Christian” and should know better if they do.

Additionally, when we as Christians find ourselves in these situations we must choose love and patience before we act.  Our cutoff should come when the name of God or Jesus Christ is taken in vain; it is then that we should again use love and patience to let it be known that not only do we find it inappropriate, but that God finds it unacceptable.  Either way it is a chance to talk to someone about Jesus Christ; use it.

Today, everyday and in every moment we owe Jesus Christ everything, because through Him we are able to connect to God.  Jesus Christ should not have a place in our society as “the elephant in the room”, rather He should be the cornerstone of everything we do, whether at work or at home.

Thankfulness and Praise to God Always!!!