Three True Fish Stories

One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.  Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”  Matthew 4:18-19

On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?”  “Yes, he does,” Peter replied.  Then he went into the house.  But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Peter?  Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?”  “  They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replied.  “Well, then,” Jesus said, “the citizens are free!  However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line.  Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin.  Take it and pay the tax for both of us.”  Matthew 17:24-27

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!”  So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.  John 21:6

A fish story is an exaggerated tall tale that is partially true and partially false.  The above three fish stories are not exaggerated, but true stories because I believe the word of God to be very true.  The first story Jesus is calling his disciples and laying the groundwork for the foundation of the early church.  He tells them they will not just fish for fish, but fish for men’s souls.  The next fish story Jesus shows that each of us have untapped potential within us by the coin being found and the tax being paid.  The last story talks about how Jesus led them to a great area to fish and they catch more fish than the boat could carry.  Jesus usually talked about us as sheep, but in this instance He refers to us as fish.  The fish is also the Christian symbol used by the early church to identify believers.  When the early church was being persecuted, they had to have certain precautions so they used the fish symbol.  These three fish stories have particular significance for how we live our lives.

The first one is the most important one, Jesus calling the disciples to follow Him and become fishers of men.  Today He is calling us all to follow Him and to allow Him to take control of our lives and give us freedom.  The best way we can do that is by living for other people.  Not just those we love, that’s easy, but for those we don’t know and may be difficult to love.  Being a fisher of man means to love people without conditions being a factor.  The best gospel ever preached, the best Jesus people could see is by not allowing conditions in our love and serving those that need help.  A life that lacks regret is a life that knows no conditions.

The next fish story is the miracle of the coin in the fish.  Jesus catches us, now we have to catch others.  Unconditional love sees the value in those we catch.  Yes, that fish story is about the miracle of paying the tax with the coin in the fish, but I think it runs much deeper than that.  Jesus knows we all have deep in us untapped potential waiting to be released by a life surrendered to Him.  Being a godly friend to someone can build them up and cause them to find that potential.  Another word for godly friend is disciple.  When we do life with others, we give value to the lives around us.

The last fish story is significant in the fact that it happened after Jesus rose from the dead.  He gave them the place they needed to catch a bunch of fish, so much so, that the catch was going to sink their boat.  Jesus never gives half way; He gives it all.  When you live your life with others in mind, you will find yourself influencing more people than you ever thought you would.  I think this fish catch was Jesus prediction that the disciples would have an impact on a great number of people over the next few generations.  Your life as well can have a positive effect on those around you.

Following Jesus will help you love others and see their value, which can affect lives for years to come.  Being an influence for Jesus is the best way to live a life without regret and Jesus will say well done.

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.

The Rose

Amanda McBroom is a singer songwriter and cabaret performer.  She wrote the standard called The Rose that was sung by Bette Midler for the movie of the same title.  The movie was about the rocker Janice Joplin and her life.  McBroom recounts the story of writing the song after hearing a lyric in the song Magdalena by Danny O’Keefe about how love is like a razor and it scars the heart.  She did not agree with that feeling and then she started getting some words together while driving home.  She got home and wrote it down as fast as she could and it took her only 10 minutes to write the song that is now a standard called the Rose.  After hearing the song on the radio for years, I actually paid attention to the lyrics and was blown away by the wisdom of the written words and how they speak of love.

The first verse of this song speaks of what love is not and then it compares it to the seed of a rose.  I love this analogy because it speaks of how we all have the capacity within us to love powerfully.  Unconditional love is a choice and an action, not a feeling.  The idea of a seed suggests controlled growth, not something out of control.  Infatuation is not love, but a short-lived passion for another person.  When the trials of life come about that “love” is lost.  An unconditional love will be a slow growing flower that will blossom into an amazing flower.

The next verse of the song talks about different aspects of our lives that love can have a hand in making it better.  Some people are afraid to love because they have lost too much when they have loved before.  They may have had a bad experience with a broken heart.  If you don’t get back on the horse you can miss a real blessing.  Next love can play a big role in our dreams.  You can have a dream, but if you don’t take a risk and follow that dream it will never happen.  Failure is never trying to follow that dream.  Loving yourself enough to follow your dream is a healthy way to live.  Some people are just selfish and don’t want to give of themselves, whether to share themselves with another person or just lack generosity.  Loving others is one of the best ways you can live and you will never be alone.  Finally, some people are just afraid of taking a risk to love others and they never really learn how to live.  Loving is living.

The last verse of the song says it all.  Life is going to have its ups and downs, it’s going to be tough sometimes.  We will suffer loss, we will get broken hearted, people will hurt us, but always remember that if we allow that seed within us to grow we will reap the benefits of love being this awesome flower.  Life is full of seasons, and winter will not last (unless you live in one of the poles).  Spring will burst forth with new life and time always heals all wounds.  What causes that seed to grow?  The light of the sun helps it grow.  Having a great attitude no matter how deep the bitter snow is, can melt a ton of ice, provide water, and light for your small seed to grow.  Loving others empowers us to empower others to empower us.  When we share unconditional love, we will get it back tenfold.

Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger
An endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower
And you, its only seed

It’s the heart, afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It’s the dream, afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul, afraid of dying
That never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snow
Lies the seed
That with the sun’s love, in the spring
Becomes the rose

By Amanda McBroom

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.

A Long Purposeful Life

Activity suggests a life filled with purpose. ~Christopher Plumber from The Sound Of Music

My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.~ General Montgomery 

My heart is confident in you, O God;

my heart is confident.

No wonder I can sing your praises!

Wake up, my heart!

Wake up, O lyre and harp!

I will wake the dawn with my song.

I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.

I will sing your praises among the nations.

For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens.

Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.

May your glory shine over all the earth.  Psalm 57:7-11

“Activity suggests a life filled with purpose” is a line from The Sound of Music.  I probably have seen this movie over a dozen times and never even caught this line before, but when I heard it after purchasing the Blue Ray version of this awesome beautiful movie I had a blog post in mind.  A purposeful life is one where we are very busy fulfilling our purpose that God has planned for our lives.  It keeps us very busy and can lead to imbalance in our lives if we allow it.  We can be so determined to get to that goal and fulfil that purpose that we can sometimes take away from our families and the people that care about us the most.  The enemy loves it when we are too busy to manage our lives properly.  I can write on that in another blog post, right now I want to focus on the journey to our purpose.  I have a leadership quote from General Montgomery, a British General during World War 2 that was in competition with our own country as to who will take back German occupied territory faster and stop Hitler.  Bernard Montgomery is a fascinating character in history.  He was a very driven military commander and probably the drive came from his mother who abused him when he was a child, both physically and mentally.  Coming from a loveless home probably is what made him make a decision whether to let it destroy him or give him the drive to continue.  He was a brilliant commander, was very down to earth with his men.  Probably why when Operation Market Garden was put together some key intelligence was ignored by lower ranks to please him in order to make the planned operation happen.  Still there was some major success in the operation and several key bridges were taken except the final bridge which would have given the allies a direct line into the heart of Germany.  Despite being wounded in World War I and some tactical errors in World war 2, Montgomery was still driven toward his purpose and that was to be a great military commander.  There are some important thoughts that we can look at from the Montgomery quote and David’s Psalm.

The first thought is to inspire confidence in your purpose.  Inspired confidence comes from a God that gives a David courage to face a Goliath, a Noah the determination to build an ark, and a Jesus strength and endurance to hang on a cross for us.  Inspired confidence comes from what God has done for us in our past.  I am so against looking back at our past, but the only time we should look back is to give encouragement to ourselves because without that encouragement and reminder of what God has done we will not have the strength of character to move on in the direction God wants us to go.  So, maybe you had some failures in the past, maybe you are facing a failure now, if we don’t overcome that failure then we truly fail.  If your purpose is in line with what God has in His scripture and you have a Holy Spirit confidence and peace, then a failure will not stop you.

The next thought here is the encouragement factor mentioned above.  As General Montgomery said, that we should rally men and women to a common purpose.  We should rally ourselves as David did in his Psalm, by praising the faithful awesome God that has given us this opportunity in the first place.  Our attitude should be that of gratitude even through the tough failures that will come.  Thank you God for my failures because I have to rely on you so much more.  In our purpose we have to ask ourselves, are we in it for our glory or God’s glory?

The last thought is the character that Montgomery talks about which is unfailing love and faithfulness that David talks about at the end of this set of verses.  General Montgomery is said to have connected with his men on a personal level.  He didn’t just give orders to his men, he also spent some time with them which shows in his character.  Showing you care in your purpose means, you are going to surround yourself with a team of people that you can encourage and likewise they can encourage and strengthen you.  Unfailing love is unconditional love and the result of that is faithfulness.  The faithfulness of God is unreal; it is inconceivable to our limited minds as to the height, depth, and width of that love and faithfulness that follows.  Therefore, a loving and faithful God can pass that to us, we can pass that on to others, and our purpose will be fulfilled.

Taking control of your life is realizing that you are out of control without God solid in your life.  Your purpose can be realized when you are inspired by godly confidence, encouraged by your past of what God has done, and finally, the strength of Character found in unfailing love and faithfulness.  A long purposeful life begins with these three elements.

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.

A Simple Act of Faith

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts?  Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’?  So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.”  Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God.  Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!”  Luke 5:22-26

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testing’s we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  Hebrews 4:15-16

A simple act of faith will produce incredible unpredictable results.  Jesus has said that if you have faith as large as a mustard seed, you will have locked within you the ability to see God do amazing things.  The last thing the enemy will want you to see is that this potential within you is the reality of God.  We look at things with our own limited reality and come up short every time because we always put God in a small box.  God’s reality is this that He can do anything, anytime, anywhere, anyway.  The four men carrying the paralyzed man saw this obstacle of the great crowd, but did not allow that to stop them from getting their friend healed by Jesus.  They had heard the stories and were willing to look foolish; foolish enough to pop open a roof and lower this man down to Jesus to be healed.  Let’s break down what a simple act of faith is so that we can disregard what the enemy has to say about it.

First faith begins with prayer.  Faith is always built on prayer and what we are hoping for.  The four guys here show the act of prayer by going around the obstacle of the crowd.  When we pray that is what we are doing, we are not allowing the world to dictate what is going to be reality, we are going around the limited reality that we see and are putting an act of trust in our great God who can do anything.  The man on the cot also believed that he could be healed by Jesus and had the faith to put his fate in those hands of his friends.  Faith starts with a trusting prayer.

The next idea is they had a determined hope.  If they could just see Jesus, they knew this man would be healed.  This crowd was not going to stop them; they had to figure out a way around the crowd.  Their determined hope was enough to allow themselves to become a spectacle in front of a large crowed and put their faith in Jesus to heal this friend of theirs.  A determined hope will get you past any opposition that you may face.  As an added bonus always know that the opposition you face is the encouragement you need to keep on keeping on.

The last idea is a courageous love.  As I Corinthians 13 puts, the greatest of these is love.  A courageous love is willing to look foolish in order to get something accomplished for someone whom you love.  You put no conditions on your love and you expect nothing back.  A courageous love has all the gaps filled in by God as shown in the above verses in Hebrews.  A courageous love will impress Jesus and healing will happen.  Jesus first said that the man’s sins were forgiven.  We all have sinned and have fallen short, Jesus forgave this man his sins first because it was life circumstances that had him crippled, not his sin.  Some people take this as his sins were the cause of his being crippled, which is the farthest from the truth.  The man may have been afraid to be in the presence of Jesus because he felt he was unclean.  Jesus the come as you are Lord, did the cool thing first, forgave him his sins, then did the coolest thing ever and healed him.  Jesus’ unconditional love for you and your unconditional love will work hand in hand to see healing in your life or healing in a friend’s life.

A simple act of faith begins with a trusting prayer, then a determined hope, and a courageous love.  Have Jesus fill in the rest with His unconditional love and you will see amazing things happen in this lifetime.

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.

The 3 Points of Perseverance

The wicked bluff their way through,

but the virtuous think before they act.

No human wisdom or understanding or plan

can stand against the Lord.

The horse is prepared for the day of battle,

but the victory belongs to the Lord.  Proverbs 21:29-31

I get an email that I have been expecting for the last week that will tell me that I am now a certified personal trainer.  My dream for the last two years was to become a personal trainer to teach others how to become fit.  Some of you may know or not know that I overcame some major health issues by losing 242 pounds.  Now my dream that God has given me is to transfer that knowledge, that spiritual journey to others.  So, with excitement in my heart I quickly open the email only to find that the trainer I had been working with for the last 30 hours for internship was not the type of trainer that would work according to their criteria.  Imagine the anger, hurt and all the emotions that I went through at that moment.  My dream is postponed yet again, before it was due to lack of money for the education, now it’s because of an unclear requirement from my educator.  The “God why?” was answered a few hours before I read that email this morning.  God in His incredible wisdom shared with me the why and has shown me that no matter what, He has my back and is endorsing this dream that is not only my dream, but God’s will for my life.  The why of God is above in 3 verses from Proverbs that at the time I read them meant nothing to me until after I read that email and now they are everything.  God woke me up from a dead sleep to meditate on these verses and to write a friend that I am accountable to a meditation on these verses that ironically, not really ironic, was my personal trainer of choice.  She was able to use my own God given words to remind me of what God wanted me to know.  This was an unreal awesome experience I have had for a few short hours this morning.

The first verse has everything to do with patience.  Being virtuous means having patience.  Those that rush in guns a blazing are reckless in their faith and will have to bluff their way through a difficult situation.  When we are patient, we think about what our move is and how we get there, we are working God’s way.  God wants us to wait for Him, even though the thing you are dreaming of is God’s dream for your life as well, we should never move in our own power.  Patience is what God is teaching me in this new mountain and Goliath I am faced with.  Your plan needs to be God’s plan, and sometimes when you get there, it can be drastically different from what you originally envisioned.

The next verse talks about how our plans don’t hold up to God’s plans.  Our agenda should not be our agenda, but God’s agenda.  God’s perfect plan may not be easy to do, but when we get there, it gives Him all the glory.  Joseph comes to mind when I think about how he had that dream God gave him and all the negative things he had to go through to reach that dream and significant life.  This is a setback in my life, but it’s not insurmountable.  Just as David faced Goliath he was encouraged by God and reminded how God saw him through facing the lion and the bear.  I just need to be patient in my plan if I am on God’s plan.

Patient planning gets us prepared for the battle ahead.  Preparation has everything to do with going to battle with an idea of what the outcome is going to be.  I read about a Special Forces elite soldier that said the biggest things that can ensure your safety on the battlefield are patience and planning.  When that happens, we are prepared for anything we may face in the ensuing battle.

When we have patient planning, we are prepared for battle and know that God will have the ultimate victory in whatever our dream is.  These three points of perseverance will keep our determination moving forward in life.  I’ve not given up and God has given me 3 more months to get this dream done and a new and approved trainer to achieve my goal.  I look at it as needing additional training to make me the awesome empowering trainer He wants me to be.  Significance is all in the attitude of gratitude, always be thankful even for the tough lessons in life.

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.

The 3 L’s of Living The Abundant Life

The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.  Unfailing love and faithfulness protect the king; his throne is made secure through love.  The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.  Proverbs 20:27-29  life-after-winning-green-card-lottery

I love this set of verses, they set the tone for the three L’s of abundant living.  To live is Christ, but to die is gain as Paul says in Philippians 1:21.  Light, love, and life are all about living the right way and being an inspiration to others.  As Paul states further, God wanted him to remain alive to help all the newer Christians gain a foothold in their lives.  When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, love has a tendency to overflow into others’ lives.  Paul was a great example of love overflowing.  Let’s look at our first L, which is light.

The first verse talks about light penetrating the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.  There are verses in Psalms that talk about God being clothed in light.  God is not only glorious in this way, but His light penetrates our hearts, we cannot hide anything from God.  The goal here is to fill you with light and not have any hidden agenda.  Light has everything to do with our attitude.  Have you ever heard someone say John Smith has a sunny disposition?  Nothing makes you more attractive than a great attitude.  A great attitude happens when we are thankful.  An attitude of gratitude is so powerful to having a life of abundant living.

Our next verse talks about the next L in abundant living and that is love.  This is the most important part of abundant living because it all has to do with an action and a choice.  Love is not warm fuzzies you feel when you “fall in love” with someone.  Unfailing love and faithfulness is unconditional love.  This is what makes marriages and relationships last long.  Love consecrates, it allows people to have a faithfulness to someone or God.  Favor with man and God comes along.  When you no longer allow conditions on your love, you find freedom to love in a most godly way.  Light penetrates your heart to give you a great attitude; love takes that attitude and consecrates you to faithfulness to God and to others and people will be faithful to you.

The last verse is all about life, how useful our life is to God.  We all have hidden godly potential within us that once tapped is an unstoppable force for good.  This verse to me is saying the young have strength to get things done, but the old have wisdom to keep the main thing the main thing.  Life invigorates people.  When you allow light to penetrate, and love to consecrate, then life will invigorate other lives.  You will be a life-giving person, invigorating all around your sphere of influence and Jesus will be seen in your life.

Light penetrates for a great attitude, that attitude sets you up for love that consecrates.  Love will give you that devotion through consecration and finally life will invigorate.  Let the three L’s of living work their way into your heart and you can never go wrong with Jesus and what He said about having life and having it more abundantly.

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.

Love Light Armor of God Part 8 Finale: Fire Off Some Prayer

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.  Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.  Ephesians 6:18

Spending time with God through prayer and His Word is a prerequisite for having a great life and fulfilling your purpose.~Joyce Meyer

The final part of our love light armor is prayer.  Prayer is another offensive and defensive weapon we have in our arsenal.  I would also say it’s probably one of the most important parts we have in our armor.  In medieval times, the best way to soften your enemy is to fire a fusillade of arrows.  In modern times, a good mortar barrage will take the confidence out of any enemy.  The first way prayer helps us is in our offensive mode.  Praying for situations, people, and any worries you have will weaken the enemy in your life.  The first part of the above verse covers that area.  The old ACTS principle is a great way to pray.  The A in the ACTS principle stands for adoration.  This first part of prayer is acknowledging that God is awesome, wondrous, and glorious.  It’s worshiping who God is and knowing how incredibly big He is and how we pale in comparison to our great God.  It’s saying God I love you.

The next letter C, stands for confession.  This is actually the defensive part of the weapon.  Have you ever felt that condemning presence after you have made a mistake and that loud voice in your head saying what an idiot you are once again?  What did you think you were doing?  That voice is the enemy condemning you for something that Jesus paid the price for already.  Confessing it will help silent that voice and solidify your position of favor with God.  Confessing your sin to others can help you repent of the sin.  Repentance is not confession; repentance means you won’t ever do that sin again.  Repentance starts the day we don’t focus on our sin.  The enemy will stop at nothing to remind us of it.  Resistance means to focus on Christ and not being sin conscious.

The next part of prayer is the T, which stands for thanksgiving.  Gratitude goes a long way in finding who you are in Christ.  When you wake up in the morning and the first thought in your head is thankfulness you are on your way to where God wants you to be.  Gratitude makes you desire to do godly things in this world for people who don’t deserve it or even want it.  Most of my prayers are directed this way in just thanking God for loving me and providing me with awesome friends in my life.  Thanksgiving is an offensive as well as a defensive weapon.

The S in ACTS stands for supplication.  Supplication is asking God for the things we need, not the things we want.  This is both offensive and defensive.  As you grow in Christ, your desires become godly needs.  God answers these prayers with a resounding yes.  Most of my prayers are for other people in my life that need prayer for things they are dealing with.  I have to stop and pray for myself because I always forget to do that.  You have to find a happy medium; you can do both extremes.  You can pray either too much for yourself or too little.  Neither way is good.

Adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication will fire off a fusillade of light into the world.  Prayer is a powerful offensive and defensive weapon that we probably don’t use enough.  If you want your love light armor to shine bright, use your prayer weapon and see how much your life and the life of others will change around you.  The next level of prayer is praying in the spirit, which I will cover later in another blog.  The Joyce Meyer quote above says it all, prayer is just half of the equation, but an important part of having a purpose driven life.

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.