Life in a fish tank

I had a dream one night about a beta fish that was in a 1 gallon tank. As it began to blow bubbles, we realized that this fish was ready to mate. According to dream-logic we knew that we should set it free.  So as you do when you want to set a fish free we dug a small hole in the yard just deep enough the top was level with the grass. We placed the tank in the hole along with the water, we even had the small pump and light running in the tank. As we were standing there watching the “release” we suddenly realized that the fish had disappeared. I remember the sad feeling that this fish has been released and we wouldn’t see him again. Suddenly, the dream pushed me forward and down into the water! In my minds eye I followed a small channel of water running just under the ground as it flowed out of the little tank. As I moved along the scene changed and I was standing in front of a huge aquarium! Looking through the glass I saw numerous colorful and multi sized fish swimming in thousands of gallons of water! The scene slowly zoomed out and I had an aerial view.  There was the small 1 gallon tank, the little channel of water spilling into the million gallon tank, and my little beta fish swimming in a whole new world, he was truly set free!

As I was waking up I felt God speaking to me, here is what He said, “James, you think you know how big the world is. You don’t realize that your world is very tiny, you are only in a small 1 gallon tank. I know this feels very real to you but you have no idea how big MY world for you is. I want to take you into a much larger world”

I’ve been thinking about those words for some time now and want to pass this on to you today. What if your life as you know it is only a 1 gallon tank? According to 2 Peter chapter 1, as a believer God has regenerated you, given you what you need to live a godly life, given you a way of escape from the corruption/junk in the world. Is there a chance that God wants to take you to a larger world where you will use your talents and gifts to bring about change in your world? This thought is scary! After all the little tank is safe, predictable, no large waves, food drops right in front of you, no sharks, temps are good – not perfect but comfortable. But the things that you fear – the hurts from the past, the shame from bad experiences –  cause you to stay in the safety of the little tank. Why change, why swim down that little channel into the aquarium? Some fish stop growing when the tank is too small. The Baltimore aquarium holds 2.2 million gallons of water. So growth is boundless for a tiny beta fish! Look around you, there’s a ton of Christians that are just simply swimming in circles day after day bored out of their minds! They can’t grow because the tank is too small. You were meant to continue to grow and mature in Christ. If you have a petty little sin that keeps gnawing away at you it could be an indication of complacency.  2 Peter tells us that those who fail to develop(grow) are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

The first thing that should motivate us to change is the fact that as believers we are called to push back the darkness. We are warriors! Also, let this speak to your heart, you are unique in what you bring into the kingdom of Christ. The Bible tells us that before we entered this world we are in God’s thoughts. That means He can bring us into the world whenever He cares to, right? If He saw fit to bring you into the world at this exact time, then it means He wants you to take action at this moment in time! There are many passive people in the world and in the church. God is calling you to leave your place of comfort and step up to the plate at home, at work, and at church.

So, are you willing to swim through the channel to reach the larger world? Life will become dangerous, risky, it might get a little bloody when the sharks take a bite out of you. But experiencing the wholeness that comes from living a fulfilled life is worth every bit of the risk! You will enjoy the fullness of God in your life as you offer life giving relationships to the people around you. Most importantly, as those people standing outside the tank watch you swim past, they will swoon at your beautiful colors and they too may be motivated to join you in glorifying the Creator.

Finally, to the believer as well as to the unbeliever reading this, the Bible tells us that “though He[Jesus] was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up his divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminals death on a cross (Philipians 2:6-8). Jesus didn’t leave a small fish tank…He left the boundless glories of the heavens and entered into the small tank called earth through channel of childbirth…because of His love for us. Think about how great that love must be! May it move us to action today!

 

Advertisements

Child Porn Arrests Include Cop, Rabbi, Scout Leader – US – CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com

New York City police arrested at least 70 people for making and trading child porn over the Internet, federal officials said Wednesday.

Those charged include little league coaches, a rabbi, a paramedic, a police officer, a nurse, and a Boy Scout leader.

“This operation puts the lie to the classic stereotypical profile that ‘child predators are nothing more than unemployed drifters.’ Many of the defendants are, in fact, well-educated and successful in their private and professional lives,” said James T. Hayes, Jr., head of  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s New York office.

The five-week investigation, spearheaded by the the Homeland Security Investigations arm of the ICE, led to one of the largest roundups ever of individual users of child porn.

Agents are still examining the hundreds of devices confiscated which equals around 175 terabytes of storage.

“We refer to each of these images as a crime scene photo because that’s exactly what they are,” John Ryan, the CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said.

The examination could result in even more arrests.

Authorities decided to launch the operation after the arrest in January of Brian Fanelli a former Mount Pleasant, New York, police chief.

Fanelli pleaded not guilty this week to federal charges of knowingly receiving and distributing child pornography. Fanelli told investigators he began looking at child porn as research before it grew into a “personal interest.”

A story based on Psalm 1

As the story goes…in a big woods not far from you, there once lived a Mr. Whitetail. He had lived with his mother, but as the days shortened and the air turned cooler, she insisted he was old enough take care of himself, for that is the way it had always been in the deer family.

In just a short time, Mr. Whitetail had grown a very nice set of much sought after antlers on that fine head of his. He was really quite proud of his accomplishment. As he would roam the big woods, the other creatures would look at him in wonder and amazement. Many would shake their head and say things such as “splendid, magnificent, what a gentleman.” Yes, Mr. Whitetail was really quite full of himself, until one day something happened…

That day Mr. Whitetail decided to take a trail that led to the far end of the big woods. He thought the little critters at that end of the woods should have the wonderful experience of seeing such a magnificent creature such as himself.

As he was nearing the clearing at the far end of the woods, he suddenly froze in his tracks! What was that hanging on that tree?!! DANGER!!! RUN!!! Turning on his heels, he ran, bounding over the creek and fallen trees, back the way he had come. You see, Mr. Whitetail had a very good memory. He knew every tree branch, stump, and rock in the woods, and when he saw this new “thing” in the woods, he knew something wasn’t right.

Well, the day before, Mr. Hunter had silently crept into that far end of the big woods and set up a small tree-stand. It was hunting season, and he had his eye on Mr. Whitetail.
So after Mr. Hunter found the perfect spot to hang his tree-stand, he also put a small block of “candy” on the ground nearby. It was Mr. Whitetail’s favorite—a mixture of corn, salt, and molasses. Yummy!

The next day Mr. Whitetail decided to walk to the far end of the big woods again. And again as he was nearing the clearing, he froze in his tracks! DANGER! Run!!! He listened to the voice of instinct that once again sent him bounding back to safety. However, the next day he made the same trek again back to the clearing. This time as he is nearing the clearing, he met Mr. Fox. He and Mr.Whitetail had become friends when they were just little tikes and had been lost together in the big woods.

That day as they walked into the clearing together, Mr. Whitetail stopped frozen in his tracks! Danger!! As he prepared to turn and run back to safety, Mr. Fox said, “Hey, don’t run. Let’s go closer and see what it is.”
Mr. Whitetail stayed where he was as Mr. Fox ran up and sniffed the tree-stand. “Aw, it’s nothing to be afraid of,” he said with a grin. “It’s tied to this tree and sure isn’t going anywhere! You’ll be okay. Just act like it’s not here.”

“Wellll, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to just walk past it on this trail,” Mr. Whitetail thought to himself. “I’ll try not to look at it.”

So heeding Mr. Fox’s council, he walked right past that tree-stand. Later, on his way home, he again walked past it. “Not bad at all,” he thought. “Mr. Fox was right. It’s nothing to be scared of.”

The next day Mr. Whitetail found the “candy.” Skunk and Weasel had found it as well. “Hey, he’p you’sef,” they said. “This stuff is good!”

Mr. Whitetail knew he shouldn’t be seen with the likes of these fellas, much less be standing around the “candy block” with them. But it looked so good and there really couldn’t be any real danger here; after all, they had figured out that the thing in the tree was safe. Throwing caution to the wind, Mr. Whitetail squeezed between the two stinky brothers and helped himself to some of the good stuff!

After a few days of walking by the tree-stand and standing at the delicious candy block, Mr. Fox and the other critters invited him to spend his nights with them at the far end of the big woods near the clearing. “It would be really nice to be closer to my new friends, and I really am enjoying the clearing,” he thought. So he decided to make his home just a short walk from the clearing.

Two days later, very early in the morning, Mr. Hunter crawled out of his cozy bed and jumped into his truck. As he drove back the long dusty road to the big woods, he had this feeling in the pit of his stomach that today was going to be a good day in the woods. Quietly he crept from the cab of his truck and gathered his gun and other hunting essentials. He tiptoed to the clearing and quietly climbed into the tree-stand.

Suddenly Mr. Whitetail jumped to his feet! What was that noise! Danger!!! Run!!! But no, the noise came from the clearing and that was where the tree-stand and the candy was. He had been walking past that tree-stand every day and spent many hours standing at the candy block with his two friends, and he had been bedding down nearby every night. Nah, it was probably just a squirrel that got up on the
wrong side of the bed. He stretched and made his way to the beloved candy. “Oh this is so good!,” he said. “And to think that I had been afraid of the . . .” BOOM!

It was a good day for Mr. Hunter but not for Mr. Whitetail.

Mr. Whitetail listened to the counsel of Mr. Fox rather than listening to the law that was written in his heart. His God-given instinct told him to run away from anything that didn’t seem right.

Prayer and Holiness…

…is there a connection?

Will God hear and respond to my prayers if I have a sin in my life? Does God desire something more than my well scripted prayers?

Could it be that He requires me to live a holy life? What is holiness…I want to be more holy but I’m not sure what that even is!

I will dare to make an attempt to answer my own question.

The simple definition of holiness – living a life that reflects my belief that God is Holy. Which means I live as if I believe the Bible is true and that there are rewards and consequences of following or not following it’s truths.

I believe I must “experience” God in everyday living. As I do this I repent of sin immediately! In doing so I am acknowledging that God is Holy and therefore He requires that I live a life that reflects that.

My communication with God will be far beyond a scripted prayer…it will be a discussion with a good friend!

 

Prayer as we know it…

How do we really talk to God? Coming from good Christian homes we’ve been taught the lingo, the right phrases that will “trigger” the best response from God. We have the right thoughts when we pray. The right pictures in our head.

Desperately we attempt to reach Him, trying every trick in the book, trying to put together the perfect formula. We try someone else’s experiences, we make up a few of our own, repent of any sin that we may or may not have committed, anything to get a response from this Superior Being that we call God. This God who we have heard wants to be our dearest friend. The One with whom we are to share all our heartbreaks and joys. Yet ironically we don’t know how to “talk” to Him, yes we talk to Him but so far it’s been just that, a one sided conversation. Us pouring out our hearts to Him and getting warm fuzzy’s at times, unless that too is a fabrication of our minds, after all we have been taught that He will respond to our prayers and we’ve interpreted that response as warm fuzzy’s. Yes, God does speak to men of faith, those mighty warriors, missionaries, those working in the slums of our cities, and of course our pastors, ministers of the gospel, but to the common one, like me, it seems to be up to chance.

Why would God create man and make it so difficult to communicate with Him? If He created us to fellowship with Him why is it so hard to reach Him? In order to know a person, to learn to love a person, to receive instruction for a specific way of life shouldn’t God want to speak to us directly? Since God IS God and our creator after all, is it possible that He wants to speak to us directly and has a channel for it? Could we be missing something? Has our culture taught us and conditioned us not to hear Him? Is it possible that God has tolerated and overlooked our simple-minded words of prayer?
Is prayer as we know it, the way that God wishes to communicate with us or is He wishing that we would just shut up with the “prayer mode” and start walking with Him in the cool of the day, talking in our “good friend” mode?