“Do You Carpe Diem?”

Throughout our lives we encounter the subject of death in varying circumstances. Sometimes it hits close to home, sometimes it is just far enough away that we brush it off as “…so glad it wasn’t someone in our family”. Either way I don’t think we take the time to appreciate the life we all have in front of us. I understand that some may take offense to that last statement and if you do; good! This means you take every day on as a gift and treat it as such.

For those who are mourning the loss of someone close there is no magic answer for making the pain of loss go away. However, there is peace found with God and the Son Jesus Christ. It is He who listens to our every groaning regardless of the severity or complexity. The hardest part of turning to God with our grieving is the “trusting” part. Simply trust as a child trusts their parent and you will see God begin working in your life. The first sign to look for is a friend or family member asking to be at your side through your mourning; just say “yes”.

By saying yes to that friend or family member who wants to mourn with you, it could very well be their prayer to be a blessing to you and God is simply answering their prayer to answer yours. Don’t deny them their prayer as it might also be a prayer about being more obedient, caring, loving, or simply trying to not be selfish. We may never know the “Why”, but that is okay, just roll with God’s plan.

Was there a time you told someone “No” and you later regretted it?

Something to try during a time of mourning might be to turn your mourning into energy for helping or reaching out to someone else. The truth is this; no matter how much we mourn it cannot bring that person back. However, we can honor that person by giving, loving and sharing more with those around us who just might need you to be a blessing for them. Simply put, don’t dig yourself into the hole of mourning and never come out.

God’s promise of life after death is also something we should take the time to think more about as it should make us appreciate the life we have now and know that we should not waste it by living like we will never die. This is a selfish way to live and not one of the directives God has given us. The first directive from Christ was to worship God only and the second, love your neighbor as you do yourself. You can’t do either if you let mourning take over.

How have do you feel inside after helping others?

God places every person in our path for a reason and if we are simply mulling through life day to day without realizing that someday those around us will not be here, we are doomed to a life full of regret. This is not at all how God wants us to live! If you think about it, the phrase; “Carpe Diem” (Seize the Day) is more than just a quote that looks cool on a coffee cup. It should be how we approach life every minute of every day as God intended.

How have you handled the hard days? Did you trust God, or did you try to just trust in yourself?

It is okay to mourn the loss of a loved one, but don’t let it take over your life. This life is the only one you have so treat it like the gift it is. God never promises an easy life here on earth, but He does promise that in the end you will be free from the burdens that you had while here. Through Jesus Christ you can accomplish all that God has planned for you so don’t waste another day. Use this day and every day after as an opportunity to simply be a blessing to others, just as they were for you when you were in your time of need.

Are you ready to “Carpe Diem”?

 

The Koifish Christian

“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

“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!

“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

 

“His Will or Yours?”

As I wade through my day and think of other things I would rather be doing, I also think of; what is it that God wants me to be doing? One thing that reminds me of how small my plans are is when I read in the book of Proverbs how man’s heart might direct his plans, but it is God who guides his feet.

Maybe what we as Christians should be concerning ourselves with is those who are out in the world standing up for Jesus, risking all for His glory.  It is easy to wrap our prayer lives up in our own little world, especially when we are continually asking for things that maybe we should not.  A better question to ask ourselves is; is what we are asking God for within His will for us or our will for Him?

Whatever we do it is our prayers and time studying the Bible that prepares us for each day; giving us the spiritual nourishment and strength to do what God asks of us.

Praise God and may the Kingdom of Jesus Christ reign on earth as it does in Heaven!

“Where Do I Start?”

Not being a man of high intelligence or extreme complex thought I usually try to stick to what I understand best and will at times shy away from those things that I find too complicated or difficult for my brain to digest.  This does not mean I am not willing to learn, it simply means that I choose to live my life my way as long as it falls within the confines of what God has planned for me.

In the quest for a fairly simple life I have attempted to follow God in the best way I know how, but with all the self-proclaimed Christian denominations out there I find it difficult to discern which one I am supposed to follow or none at all. One funny thing though; I have recently learned of Theonomy and find it a curious perspective that has caused me to dive even deeper into my bible  There are many well-educated authors on the subject which also leaves me a very long reading list to tackle!

Discouraging at best is probably the best way to describe my experiences and none more discouraging than the lack of fellowship.  This is a difficult subject because at our jobs we are to keep those subjects hushed, but I never thought that as a Christian I would consider myself lonely as one. I am also not naive enough to think that I am the only person seeking knowledge and fellowship in Christ, so don’t assume that this my version of a pity party as it is not pity that I seek.

Through these searches and during this time of difficulty I am still thankful to God for the opportunity to learn more about Him and myself. I will also count it to joy for any amount of time I have to be in prayer and in God’s Word; through these I consider myself not wanting for anything.

So in summary what I am experiencing is nothing compared to those on the other side of the world being persecuted and killed for their Christian beliefs which leaves me in a position to be nothing less than thankful.  I am however, left with the task of prayer for them to have strength in love and perseverance through faith.

“As the Sun Sets”

As the world turns yet again for another day and the sun goes under the horizon, my mind takes me into a place where everything and everyone I see I must give thanks. This might sound easy on the surface, but I also have to be thankful to those who were not necessarily nice to me or worth, in my mind, giving thanks to.

This might be the thoughts of others as well; not sure.  To give thanks or even forgiveness is not always easy, as human nature dictates that these two things can be considered as optional. However it works for any of us is, well…, up to us. But is it really?

We say that we have “free will”, but do we really? If sin is controlling certain aspects of our lives, do we truly have enough control to say that the decisions we make are actually free from anything, other than the sin that permeates our total being?  The only way to let these go is to not only give our sins up to God, but we have to remember forgiving others must be done first before we approach God with the burden we want lifted from us.

Jesus speaks in the parable of the Unforgiving Servant about forgiving others first. Matthew 18:32″Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you? 34. And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35. ‘So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

As we go through our day as Christians, we know that not everyone we encounter believes what we do. Although this wall does exist, thankfulness and forgiveness are still understood by non-Christians.  Living for God is not easy and I too struggle with the secular challenges, so with that being said I do know that the days of not forgiving and keeping Jesus Christ under a rug of social acceptability are over.

So as the sun sets at the end of each day, take a moment to think about how to best thank someone or give forgiveness if needed. God’s judgements may sound harsh concerning forgiveness, but in reality the potential pain we can cause others by not following through with what God expects of us could actually be our last chance to do so since none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, but being judged before His seat is.

Matthew 16: 24,25;  “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”