The Intent of This Blog

This blog is intended to be a tool for the growth of whoever wants to use it. It is a daily journal intended to help us be more introspective. Every day I will do my best to supply a motivational quote, a Bible verse, a vocabulary word, and a personal message from myself. Use these if you like as motivation to improve yourself. Then, simply answer the daily questions provided honestly and see if it has an impact on your life. Zig Ziglar said, "If you don't have daily objectives, you qualify as a dreamer." Lets not be just dreamers but doers. Remember Martin Luther King Jr not only had a dream, he also had an objective. Thanks for reading, Jake

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Keep Your Claws


“We can’t avoid reasoning; we can only avoid doing it well.” - Peter Kreeft, Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics

Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. - Psalms 119:105

Apologetics: “systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine)” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

My wife and I have a little Persian cat named Millie. As you may know, Persians don’t make very good outdoor pets. Their long fine hair makes it impossible for them to effectively groom themselves. So they get matted and dirty very easily. On top of that, it’s dangerous to let them outside because they’re often stolen. So Millie is an indoor cat, despite the fact that she loves to run and climb and try to kill things, like most other cats. The problem is her claws. Like I said, she likes to climb. But we have no trees inside our house, so couches and chairs have become her trees. It’s a constant struggle to keep her from trying to climb those “indoor trees.” We’ve even thought about having her claws removed so she can’t do any more damage. She would certainly be easier on our furniture without her claws. However, cats are made to have claws for a reason. They provide the ability to hunt, defend themselves, and escape danger. So much of what a cat is, is found in their claws. They may not need them inside, but they’ll always need them outside. And even indoor cats escape to the outside every once in a while. As Christians, many of us reside in the proverbial “indoors.” There is no danger to our lives, no challenges to be faced. We go to church and hang out with other like minded Christians. We go to work and don’t talk about our faith. We walk the streets of our cities and towns looking no different than any other person. For most of our lives we have no need to defend our beliefs. And so we often become “Declawed Christians.” Our identity is in Christ, but we have no way of defending ourselves, of sharing the Gospel, or escaping ridicule. It’s true, most of our lives will be lived unchallenged. However, we will all be challenged at some point. I want my cat to have her claws just in case the next time she tries to explore outside the house she’ll be able to escape a neighbor dog. And I want the same for you. So how do we retain our claws for Christ? And what in the world is a claw for Christ anyway? Our claws for Christ are anything that can help us defend the Gospel. Their technical term would be “Apologetics.” They consist of a knowledge and understanding of the scriptures, the ability to understand and form arguments, and the ability to think logically from the Christian standpoint. It’s important as believers to know what we believe. It’s important to have a firm foundation to our faith. And it’s important to be able to recall the sources of our spiritual identity. Many books have been written about apologetics, so it would be impossible for me to talk about everything pertaining to it here, (and I’m not really qualified). However, here’s a start. Get into God’s word. Listen to it, read it, memorize it. You’ll never know when you’ll need it. It’s not as hard as you may think. Sure there are hard parts to the Bible, but you don’t have to start there. Start with the gospels, continue with the writings of the apostles in the New Testament. God will lead you to His word if you give Him a chance. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn and how your perspective on everything can change. God is our source of life and His word is meant to be food for our souls, able to strengthen and sustain us. What’s more important however, is that it builds a relationship with Him. And it’s out of a relationship with Him that these words of Jesus can become true in our lives. “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” - Luke 12:11-12

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Friday, November 21, 2014

Love What You Do


“We all need a job, but if we love what we do, we’ll do a better job.” - Jack Georges (Owner of Jack Georges Inc.)

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. - Philippians 2:13

Dictation: “the action of giving orders authoritatively or categorically.” - New Oxford American Dictionary

What can we say about a God that’s in control? 1 John 5:4-5 says, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” What kind of way is that to talk? That as Christians we overcome the world! But it’s not for us to be rulers of the world, rather, over-comers. It’s easy to fall into the temptation of control. There are more Christians on this planet than any other group. Does that mean we get to control everyone? That we get to dictate Christianity? Not at all, rather, as Christians, it gives us the opportunity to serve the entire world. In a conversation Jesus had with His disciples about authority He said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” - Matthew 20:25b-28 Our victory is not for ourselves in a way that makes us victorious. It’s a victory of Jesus’ that gives us salvation. It’s a victory of faith because of what Jesus did for us. As Christians we are to be like Christ in that we are to follow His example of servanthood. Our positions of control and power are to be used as positions of service, not dictation. We were given the greatest service ever known by Christ when He lived and died and rose again so that we can have a hope and a future. Can we continue that service? I hope so, because it is our job as Christians. It’s our job as Christians to love. And when we take that seriously, how could we not love our role as Christians. To love… It’s at the heart of Christianity, because it is the heart of Christ.

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Thursday, November 20, 2014

All Things New


“And You’re making all things new
You are making all things new
God You’re making all things new
We are free.
You’re love never ending
You’re grace never failing
Redemption is calling us home.”
-Excerpt from the song All Things New by Elevation Worship

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. - Psalm 51:10

Steadfast: “firm in belief, determination, or adherence” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

For some, this may have been a tough week. Tough on the heart. Tough on the mind. Maybe even tough on the body. There are a lot of weeks like that. The fact is, there are a lot of months, years, even lives like that. But no matter what, He makes all things new. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” - John 14:2b-3 He also said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” - John 8:35-36 Sin has us all in captivity. It deprives us from good and depraves us to pain. It tarnishes everything and enhances nothing. There are times when it appears attractive, times when it contains excitement. However, it always brings pain. It always brings suffering. We can’t escape on our own. But we can be free of it. We can be saved. Jesus did the work. The Son set us free.  So now, whatever it is that weighs heavily on our minds. Whatever it is that holds us back. Whatever it is that guilts into shame… It’s gone. Through the power of the Cross they’re all gone. He is making all things new. He is capable of creating a pure heart. He is the source of steadfastness. I’ve often heard the phrase, “I’m too far gone for Jesus to love me.” You’ve probably heard it too. Maybe you’ve even said it. Bull s#*t. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” None of us can earn His love on our own merit. We’re all too far gone for that. If you could see inside the heart of someone who you thought never did anything wrong, you would see cancer and disease. But Jesus saves. He’s making all things new. And one day all things will be new. We’ll live in perfection. Sin will no longer bring sorrow. It will no longer bring death. It will no longer tarnish what is good. Can you imagine? All things new…

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Under God

No Mountain, no valley
No gain or loss we know
Could keep us from Your love

No Sickness, no secret
No chain is strong enough 
To keep us from Your love
To keep us from Your love

How high?  How wide?
No matter where I am 
Healing is in your hands

How deep?  How strong?
Now by Your grace I stand
Healing is in Your hands

Our Present, our future
Our past is in Your hands
We’re covered by Your blood
We’re covered by Your blood

How high?  How wide?
No matter where I am
Healing is in Your hands

- Excerpt from the song Healing Is In Your Hands, by Christy Nockels

Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen - Ephesians 3:20-21

Palliate: “allay or moderate (fears or suspicions)” - New Oxford American Dictionary

I’ve heard it said that while visiting the grounds of Gettysburg before his address, Abraham Lincoln committed his life to Christ.  I can’t remember where I heard it, and if I could, I doubt it could be proved.  What we do know however, is that Lincoln’s faith in life was evolutionary.  What we do know, is that his faith grew.  What we do know, is that he was like all of us.  He was on a journey with the Lord.  Gettysburg was by some accounts the bloodiest battle ever fought in the western hemisphere.  And so, on November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln came to honor the dead at their memorial there.  And it’s in that speech that Lincoln by many accounts inspired our nation’s motto.  “Under God.”  It was in that speech that Lincoln stood with our nation’s founding and with God and repurposed a country to its Creator through an improvised line.  In his original draft Lincoln wrote, “We here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  However, Lincoln strayed from what he wrote leading up to the visit and speech.  Not significantly in words or length, but profoundly in meaning.  The words he orated that day have never been forgotten and they still ring in our nations ear.  “That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…”  And so today as we look back seven score and ten years we can be thankful for a nation that through its faults and failures has always been under God.  May we realize that, when we see the division in our midst.  May we realize that, when we see destruction.  May we realize that no matter our opinion; no matter our belief; no matter what others think of us; we are all under God.  And that in God, there is healing.  Healing from Civil War.  Healing from deep disagreements.  Healing from this world.  His is no palliation, but a healing.  No assuagement, but a cure.  He is the only cure.  Healing is in His hands.

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Redemption's Standard


“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but He does what is still more wonderful: He makes saints out of sinners.” - Soren Kierkegaard 

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. - Romans 10:13

Redeem: “gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment” - New Oxford American Dictionary

Cancelations abound. Redemption is required. That’s the world we live in today. That’s the world we’ve lived in since Eve first ate the fruit of temptation and shared it with Adam. However, we also live in a world that has been redeemed. In the garden, God lost us, in a way, to sin. At that point the plan of salvation went into full effect. The plan to redeem us back again through the payment of Jesus’ life. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to stay redeemed? Life is full of redemption stories gone wrong. Drug addicts clean themselves up, then fall back into the life. Many find it easier to steal than to work. Over and over, they try to live an honest life, but just can’t. Relationships fall apart… We can’t do it on our own. And it’s not enough to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then go on like nothing ever happened. Relationship is required. We need to be close. We need Jesus in our hearts. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when He is old he will not depart from it.” Isn't that what Proverbs 22:6 says? But how do we do that? It sure seems like a lot of us aren’t going the way we should. With a new baby, I find it hard to put my faith in that verse. I’m afraid I’m going to do everything I can to raise a Godly woman and that I’m going to be seen as a failure. I’m afraid that she'll fail and that people will say, “I told you so.” Standards are hard to commit to. We can never live up to them. So why have them? Why are they so important? They’re the ticket to what we need. Jesus is our Savior. Nothing could be truer. But with Him come standards. We aren’t saved based on our works. But our standards show who we belong to. There is another definition for the word Redeem, New Oxford American Dictionary says it is to, “compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something).” We’ve been given a standard to live by. A standard laid on us by our Creator. We are reminded of it every day through the Holy Spirit. Most of us call it, our conscience. However, we all know that we can’t live up to it fully. That while we need those standards to approach the gate. We also need a redeemer. When you purchase a ticket for an event. How much is that ticket worth? A couple cents maybe? It’s worthless without a redeemer. Someone who recognizes the value of the pass that has been purchased for the opportunity to enter. For us that redeemer is Jesus. Our good works are worthless alone. We need a Redeemer to recognize their value. And so we show up at the door with a ticket that’s been washed accidentally. That’s been folded up in our back pocket. Forgotten about. Dropped in the mud and stepped all over. To anyone but Jesus, our ticket is laughable. At one point it may have been pristine. At one point the letters on it were clearly legible. At one point it wasn’t torn apart and dirty. Now, the best we can present is an illegible, musty, worthless piece of garbage. But Jesus sees it for something more. He sees it for its real value. He sees it as priceless. The standard hasn’t been met. But it’s been valued. He alone can redeem it. He alone can compensate for our faults we’ve added to the standard. We can’t redeem ourselves. We continually fail. But Jesus can! He will never fail. I’m reminded of the song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United, “Your Grace abounds in deepest waters, Your sovereign hand will be my guide. Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and you won’t stop now.” There is something powerful about those words. That He’s never failed and He won’t stop now. And if for some reason you find yourself lined up at the door. No ticket in hand. Look to God. There will be no line at the will call. Just a question. Can I be yours? And at that point we realize the synergy and symmetry in our relationship with God. That while He is the only one that sees our true value. We must also see His. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in…” - Revelation 3:20a Make Jesus yours today. The door to Him must first open in our hearts. Become His. Eternity awaits through that door in our soul. So whether we’ve been serving Him our entire life, or we’ve never taken Him seriously, we can all pray the prayer of the sinner and ask Him into our lives. It’s a prayer we can and should pray continuously. Because only through Him, can we be redeemed.

Daily Journaling Questions:
  1. How did I help someone in kindness today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. What am I thankful for?
  4. Who did I love today?
  5. What am I dreaming of?
  6. What about today do I want to remember forever?
  7. What are my goals for tomorrow?
Thanks for reading,

Jake