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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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Source


“The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’” - Billy Graham

I lift my eyes to the hills.
   From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
   Who made heaven and earth.
- Psalm 121:1-2

Agape: “Christian love, esp. as distinct from erotic love or emotional affection.” - New Oxford American Dictionary

The internet… Google… Wikipedia… They don’t hold the answers to our most pressing questions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a problem, then picked up my phone to find the answer. It’s not there. The best I can find is a forum and a fight. Has that ever happened to you? And that’s with things like car problems. Things like choosing what product is best. Or finding the best Christmas gift. What about the hard problems. Like how to rebuild a relationship. Fix a marriage. Or find a friend in a new town. And what about God? Can technology solve that problem? Can a phone tell me about how much God loves me. Ask Siri and she’ll refer you to Wikipedia’s page about “Love.” Ask anyone, and the answer lies in the definition of love. I guess that’s why the Bible says in 1 John 4:8, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” And so, is that the answer? God is love. Agape? That’s certainly what God has for us. It is what He is towards us for sure. But how much? All! God is all love to us. He is the fulfillment of the verb and the noun, the adjective and the adverb. Love, love, loving, lovely. One hundred percent. He made us with love. And with love He saved us. So back to the pressing parts of life. The hard questions. The questions we can’t answer. Have we looked to God yet. I’m reminded of what Jesus said, “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” - Matthew 7:9-11 No doubt our knowledge can answer a lot of things. A lot of quandaries and questions. But to the real hard things. The unanswerable… Have we looked to the help of our Creator? He has a way of helping that is unlike any other. He has a way of answering like no other. He has a way, because He is the Way. “I am the Way the Truth and the Life.” Jesus said in John 14:6a

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, December 16, 2014

Because Of Him

“More was lost in the war.” - Unknown (reference to WWII)

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not afflict from His heart or grieve the children of men. - Lamentations 3:31-33

Bereft: “deprived of or lacking something, esp. a nonmaterial asset” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In the midst of the Civil War Abraham Lincoln made the remarkable and often quoted statement, “This too shall pass.” He told the truth. Everything in this life will pass. The good and the bad. Still, we hold on to what we have for dear life. Our possessions become our normalcy. We look to them to find comfort. Maybe it’s because we’re proud of them. Maybe because we see them as accomplishments. And maybe because if we’re careful enough with them… They won’t die. But despite our tenaciousness and vigilance, we often lose our most treasured assets. “More was lost in the war.” It’s a telling answer to a common complaint. We hate to lose anything. Money, clothes, homes; their value exponentiates through our peacetime perspective. “More was lost in the war.” It tells of something more valuable. Life itself. Innocence and culture. Freedom too. The things that drive our lives in deepest ways. Loved ones, our religions, and values. These things are taken away in war too. It leaves us bereft of the things that matter most. But we all know, it is part of life as much as anything else. However, there is something more important than the things war removes. Our soul and its salvation. It’s the only part of us that can continue on and survive the death of our body. Because of it, because of Jesus; in the midst of war it becomes possible to say, “This too shall pass.” Speaking of our soul we can say in the height of death and battle, “The devil took more.” But Jesus has the power to give it back. He has the power to restore and heal. Because of Him we can say, “The devil may have taken, but he can’t keep.” Because of Him, the battle may be raging, but the war has already been won. Because of Him… That’s great news in a world filled with loss. That’s great news of hope. That’s great news… Period. 

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Children Of God


“I have four children. Two are adopted. I forgot which two.” - Bob Constantine

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by this world. - James 1:27

Adopt: “to take by choice into a relationship; especially : to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) as one’s own child” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Over the past few years international adoption has come under fire. Adoption to many, has become a source of, and even a form of child trafficking. Many view those who adopt internationally as child collectors or crazy Christians. And no doubt there are people like that who exist, and we do have to do our best to protect the innocent of abuse. However, we also have the responsibility to help the innocent.  
Under influence of international organizations, country after developing country has shut down international adoption over the past decade, in order to prevent child trafficking. Then statistics are cited. After Guatemala shuttered its international adoptions, Ethiopia’s rose drastically. And the majority of the kids are going to the United States, to Christian families non-the-less. So what are we to believe? That Christian families are demanding children? Like colonists demanded slaves? That’s what many believe. Many refuse to see or believe that there are many Christians who respond to need.  
As waiting adoptive parents, my wife and I are not demanding an Ethiopian baby. Yes, we had trouble getting pregnant and having our own baby. But we are not demanding a child. No, we are simply responding to our situation as an opportunity to do good. To provide love and a family to children in need. To live the Gospel out to the world. We don’t get to hand pick a child. We aren’t in charge of the child’s requisition. And we don’t believe our child will be a victim.  
In all likelihood our child will have a parent left in Ethiopia. But having a living biological parent does not preclude a child from being an orphan. Most orphans around the developing world are a result of poverty, not death. And so, while we adopt with the goal of providing for an innocent and needing child, it is also our goal to provide for all of those in need. We pray for the father, the mother, the aunt or uncle, who, without means, give up their child to be adopted. We wish that there was no need. We wish that every child could come into this world in the arms of a loving family. Sadly, that’s not the case right now. It’s not the case here in the U.S. and it’s not the case in Cambodia either. There are tens of millions of orphaned and abandoned children in the world who need homes. Six million reside in Ethiopia alone. They must be cared for. Through international and domestic adoption. Through orphanages who have the ability to give them a hope and a future. Through whatever means possible.  
The fact remains, kids are given up. And some of those that are given up are abused by those who would traffic them for personal gain, or ill-will towards the innocent. As Christians it is our duty to follow Jesus. And in following Jesus, we will be opposed. Don’t let anyone convince you that adopting a child with a desire to raise them in a Christian household is tantamount to abuse or oppression. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s more important to understand heritage than to be a child of God. Heritage and culture is important. But Jesus saves. 
Some people simply don’t understand why anyone would adopt. Now that Whitney is pregnant, we are often asked if we are still planning to adopt. Of course are answer is yes! And the question is in no way offensive. But sometimes people don’t understand why we would still be adopting. They’re not bad people. They just don’t understand. Adoption is not just about parents. It never is. It’s also about the children. Whitney and I care about our adopted child just as much as our biological daughter. Although we haven’t met either yet, we look forward to providing a loving home for both. We don’t do it because we want anyone to think we’re good. And I’m not writing this so that you’ll think any differently of me. Chances are, you may think we’re mistaken in adopting. I’m writing to advocate for the innocent in need. Satan would love to eliminate all adoptions. He’d love to have everyone born into abuse and poverty. And so he fosters abuse and poverty, then blames it on those trying to do good. Corruption does exist. It’s the major reason countries are poor. But let’s not let corruption hurt more than we can help. Let’s not let evil deter us from doing God’s will. And let’s not be blinded to all the forms of ill in this world.

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, December 12, 2014

Synthetic Life

“I regret that it takes a life to lean how to live.” - Jonathan Safran Fore

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. -  Jesus - John 10:10

Life: “the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

So my cat is addicted to the iPad. I don’t know if you’ve seen them, but there are games for cats to play that you can get for tablets. They feature mice and goldfish and birds that run, swim, or fly across the screen enticing any cat to try and catch them. As I’m writing this my cat is pawing at a blank screen trying to conjure a chase-able object to appear. Of course there’s nothing to catch. It doesn’t matter how long Millie plays, or how many times she claws at that same rat she will never catch anything on from an iPad. My wife and I have wondered if it’s torturous for her. If she gets depressed never catching anything. But then I wonder if it’s torturous for me when I watch TV all day? Or play on the computer all day?Or..?  We laugh at a cat chasing an object it will never catch and ignore the fact that we do the same thing. How much of our time is synthetic living? How much of our time do we spend vicariously living through a reality TV family? How much time do we spend actually getting out into what God has created, interacting with His creatures? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not casting any stones. I’m one of the entertainment industries best customers. But to come back to a question I asked a few sentences ago. Yes, it is torturous and depressing to watch TV all day. Have you ever tried it? Sometimes it’s good to relax and enjoy lazy entertainment. However, the end of the day doesn’t quite feel as good as when we’ve actually lived real life. When I’m watching TV who am I? Who are we when we’re not making a difference in the world? We’re like a tree falling when no one is around to hear. The only one affected is us. And the effect isn’t good. What’s the point of having all these talents and abilities if they lay dormant and smother in laziness. Ability without action leads to depression. Depression can’t exist in the presence of our true purpose. I’m not saying we should all throw our TVs out. I don’t plan on throwing mine away anytime soon. But if there’s something keeping us from living with purpose, it needs to be handled. If not, we’re no different than my cat trying to catch a fake mouse that can never be caught. Let’s get out there and catch some real mice. I guess Jesus threw down the gauntlet when He said to Peter and Andrew, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” - Matthew 4:19 He’s calling us all to do the same. Let’s not let it take a life to learn how to live.

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, December 11, 2014

It Falls On Him

“After all I’ve said and all I’ve done, for my own sake, it doesn’t fall on me...  It falls on You.” - Excerpts from the song Fall On Me by Adam Smouse

And He said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.” - Exodus 34:10

Truant: “a person who shirks or neglects his or her duty” - Dictionary.com

We are conceived into this world innocent. Free from the damages caused by sin and depravity. The intentions of our life are still perfect. For that fleeting moment we are the beginning of what God intended us to be. We are not what we will become. Our personalities have not been shaped, influenced, or influential on our lives. Life experiences have not yet chipped away at our edges, honed our actions, or affected our thoughts. Our motivations have not been developed. Our desires have not been corrupted. And our pasts have not been tarnished. Then something happens. Life happens. Growth happens. Sin happens. Death happens. We are broken. Instead of being what God intended we become what He predicted. Our desires and actions reflect the world more accurately than they reflect our souls. Society and culture demands that we obey the norm. That we remain shattered. That we follow style and not substance. But Jesus in all His love came down to make us whole again. He picks up our pieces. Neatly stacks them. Points out to us what is real. What is true. What is worthy. We remain broken, but we have this hope that is pervasive in our hearts. A hope given on the cross. A promise of salvation and wholeness. That salvation can only come from one source. That source is Christ alone. We want to be able to fix the things we’ve broken. Repair the damage that’s been done. But we can’t. We don’t know how. And like the song says, “After all [we’ve] said, and all [we’ve] done, for [our] own sake, it doesn’t fall on us... It falls on Him.” It always falls on Him. He says come follow Me. You can’t see the path. But I know the destination. And I know the trail. I know. Come follow Me. “For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.” Christ is no truant prophet, He’s our true Savior. Let’s fall on Him. Follow Him. Let’s see what He can do.

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