“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

“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.

“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.

“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

“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

 

“A Prize Fighter”

Each day for me as a Christian can be like stepping into the boxing ring or octagon whichever your prefer. If we consider the challenges we as Christians face within the secular world that surrounds us, we at times will take some punches that cause us to reel or even buckle, but we still get up and face the next round.

I find it interesting that those who are either not Christian or do not share in our resilience will make comments to criticize our belief, and yet when things get a little tough in their life or they find themselves with nowhere to turn they complain, blame and accuse others for their misfortune.

One of the toughest punches I receive are when I hear someone take God’s name in vain. I have to say that these have the hardest sting, and for those who use His name as commanded otherwise i do try to correct them.  Along with the correction I also offer up a prayer for them.

So each day as we step into the ring of life we as Christians must always remember that Jesus Christ has placed before us the one and true prize of redemption through which He stood in our place to not only fight for us, but also to take every painful blow sin could throw at Him.

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already l obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: not forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Praise God in all of His wonderful glory!!!