“Position Improvement”

Many years ago, when I first entered the U.S. Army, I heard the term “Position Improvement”.  I soon learned that this meant if I found myself in a defensive position it fell on me and those on my team to be involved in improving the position through a list of necessary tasks.

The positions in which we found ourselves could be started by simply camouflaging our location all the way up to eventually building hardened bunkers or fighting positions.  Some of the work was easy and rather boring, but some of it was challenging and interesting.

The important thing to know was that this work never really stopped.  It was always about improving our percentages of success if defending our position became necessary.  Our labor was all in all for each other.

Now as the entire world reacts to the COVID-19 virus it is obvious to me that we have taken a defensive posture to this threat.  As we get into our “fighting positions” I would offer that if we remember that God is our commander, we will be successful in our mission because of our labors related to “Position Improvement”.

The labor we are doing now to keep ourselves healthy and take care of our families is just part of the work to improve our position.  The work to make God first in our lives, spread the Good News and love our neighbors has not been put on hold.  If anything, this challenge should make our labors even more intense to accomplish our mission.  This in no way means to take on any of this in a frantic manner, but in a way that shows our trust and faith in God through peace, strength and love.

This defensive posture in no way means that we hunker down in our “holes” without offensive actions.  Around the world there are scientists, doctors, nurses, businesses and many others who are taking the fight to this enemy.  We must support them in every way possible and that starts with praying for them at every opportunity to say the least.  We also need to show them we respect their sacrifice by doing our part at home and in our communities to stop the spread of this virus.

As with any battle there will be loss and pain so it is a reality we must contend with.  Rest assured that this will not be a short battle and it will require every Christian to step into the gap for believers and non-believers alike.  With our faith in the promises of God and our Savior Jesus Christ we know where the true prize resides.

Something to make it easier to put into perspective and remember might be a motto I learned while in the Army; “Mission First, People Always“.

May God bless you with peace, strength, love and boldness as we march forward into the gap together.

 

The Koifish Christian

“Thinking About You on Mother’s Day”

Because you choose to see the best in me,

Regardless of life’s pitfalls or my pride,

A smiling nod to be creative and free,

Your gentle hands are always my guide.

Thinking About You on Mother’s Day

In your heart you carry each memory,

Each a snapshot into a time and place,

As diamonds each is stored affectionately,

All are wrapped by your love and grace.

Thinking About You on Mother’s Day

Through all the years your love has not waned,

Instinctively putting others well before yourself,

Your love never lost and most certainly ordained,

Caring was never a choice as it was your wealth.

Thinking About You on Mother’s Day

Poised to give learned and loving advice,

Lending my ear to your pearls of life,

Given freely and never with a price,

I hear how to avoid trouble and strife.

Thinking About You on Mother’s Day

Words can never say what my heart truly feels,

A unending gratefulness I share with God each day,

It is with tears of joy that my heart eagerly kneels,

For others to have a Mother like you is what I pray.

Wishing You a Happy Mother’s Day

D.E. Jones

 

For all the Mothers out there on your special day I pray for you to be surrounded by the family you love and care for so much.  Getting spoiled a bit wouldn’t hurt either…

The Koifish Christian

“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

“Nudging the World One Person at a Time”

According to the Merriam – Webster Dictionary, the word “Nudge” is defined in a couple of ways depending on how you want to use the word. In one sense of the word it indicates a touch or gentle push and in the other version one can prod lightly or urge into some sort of action.

As I read these definitions I realize that God uses both when he wants us to move within His plan. Since one option is physical and the other might be verbal, I would even go as far as a spiritual urging. As a Christian I believe that it is very important for us to be aware of the signs God places in front of us to draw our attention back to Him. Going day to day with the belief that “God works in mysterious ways” is in my opinion not a good way to get to know God.

Do you believe God works in mysterious ways?

For a non-Christian this might simply be boiled down to an intuition based on past experiences that would cause one to be aware of little nudges in our thoughts that might cause one to choose a new or different course. I even think that some Christians would agree with this.

On this point I am going to say that God’s creation (humans) are not robots and yes, God would give us the ability to recall from memory the things that help us make decisions. What I am going for here are the nudges that come out of nowhere and are not relative to the situation we are in at that moment. I for one do not believe in the concept of “Chance, matter and motion” and the rest of what Evolutionists believe, so for the concept of the “Nudge” I am referring to, this would not work.

The “Nudges” as I like to call them, can come in many forms and are not regulated to any particular box. They can be a thought, a comment heard in passing, the actions of another person, a visual cue or symbol, or just a “feeling”. Yes, I know what inspiration means…good question though.

Not only do we get a nudge, we also get the burning feeling or thought that won’t go away. This is God’s way of letting you that He is serious about what He wants you to do, whether you are praying for it or not. Have you ever ran with that feeling or thought and realized that you had no idea how to go about it, but knew that you just had to do it? If you have, then you are being given an opportunity by God. It is an opportunity because it will either make your grow or open doors for you. However, since it is God’s plan you may not benefit other than being a blessing to someone or glorifying God. If we say we are Christian, this should not be a problem.

If you did not follow through with the thought or feeling, did you regret it later?

What we need to understand is that these nudges might not be given to benefit someone other than ourselves, why? Because we are straying away from the fold and need a little redirection. This is where the pride thing comes in and is probably one of the most difficult to contend with. Even when our closest family gives us nudges of love to get back to what is important we will still stray on our own, not even realizing that we are.

Even Jesus talks about this in Acts 9:5-6 (KJV) when He says; “And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks“. These are long sticks used to herd goats / sheep, so think about how those might be used in our own lives. Some of us require more poking and prodding than others, whereas some only need a “Nudge”.

What can we as Christians take from this? What can a non-Christian take from it?

So be aware and just wait for the “Nudge”, it will come when you least expect it and when you get one – swim hard and fast!

Praise God for the Nudges and I thank Him for you.

Have a wonderful day in your pond!

 

 

The Koifish Christian

“What Are You Kneeling For?”

Many are up in arms about professional athletes kneeling during the National Anthem, and I can understand why. There is a lot of tradition and culture behind what it all stands for, so the ensuing emotional reactions are actually predictable.

However; the emotional connection to our flag and the anthem must be respected. There are many who have given up their Constitutional rights in service to our country so that you can protest the things you think need overt attention.  There are many who are not able to come home and enjoy the same rights you have because they gave everything, up to and including their life.  So, before you kneel during the anthem or try to burn our flag, think about your ability to do so.  In some countries, you would be arrested or even worse, executed.

For many, including myself it represents the country, our rights and our laws that allow Americans to be free. This also means that we may not always agree with each other; this should be considered acceptable, not relative to or restrained by any belief as non-negotiable.

So as the athletes kneel during the anthem because they feel oppressed, I am left begging these questions; Do you really understand why you are kneeling? Are you doing this because the crowd around you is doing it and now you feel pressured to do the same?  What are you doing, other than kneeling to make things better?

At this point I am left to believe that this is nothing more than a fad brought about by those who think that their way is the only way and that if they “Squeak” enough they will get their way. What I am trying to figure out is, what is it exactly are your asking for?  If you want equal rights and freedom; you already have this and in many ways, are undermining it through your less than thought out actions.

At the end of the day I say that as Americans we need to get behind something that unites us, not divides us. We are better than this and must find a way to put our differences in our pocket and move forward by changing our attitudes towards each other first.

So instead of kneeling during the National Anthem, try getting on your knees and thanking God for the blessings you do have. Maybe start with thanking Him for the air you breathe every day that allows you to speak or kneel and work your way up from there.

In conclusion, I don’t really care if you kneel during the National Anthem and as a matter of fact, I am inclined to simply ignore you because I don’t see it as being an effective way to make positive change in our country. What I do think makes a difference are those people who act upon their beliefs by working to make positive changes in their community.  From there it is simply a ripple effect that causes positive changes and attitudes in our country.

If things are broke, lets fix them together. It is our own communities that make America great; not our government. It is and always has been, We the People, so let’s get back to that.

“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!

“Valentine’s Day Prayer”

Thank you Lord for her I pray,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, its Valentine’s Day.

 

Her heart is made of the finest gold,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, its Valentine’s Day.

 

Please bless her life in any way,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, its Valentine’s Day.

 

Never a heart has she left cold,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, its Valentine’s Day.

 

My love for her I wish to display,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, Its Valentine’s Day.

 

Guide me to be for her a better man,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, Its Valentine’s Day.

 

Showing her my love; the plan for today,

She is a gift like no other,

Lord, its Valentine’s Day.

 

Joining us together was always your plan,

She is a gift like no other,

Thank you Lord for another Valentine’s Day.

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?

“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